Monday, March 23, 2009

First Irish Chain Class

Tonight was our first class in a 5 part series creating an Irish Chain. Since it was a class meant for true beginners, we talked about tools needed, fabric selection, threads, etc. 
I picked out some pretty fun fabrics. I went with a double chain of batiks, a deep purple, a bright green, and for the center chain that is like a green and purple kind of strange checker pattern. I'm excited about it. We'll be making the quilt from start to finish - piecing the top, adding borders, quilting it together, and binding it over the next 5 weeks.
Plus it's currently UC Irvine's spring break, woo hoo! That means time to work on my nature quilt, I started piecing the top today to add around those appliqued squares I was doing last time =)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Practicing my Applique

I worked on my applique today. I focused on the fusible web technique. Next time I work I'll do the freezer paper method. I had some fun and had some frustrating moments. Here's yesterday's work and the pieces from today for my new quilt.
Yesterday's work: aspen leaves fusible web style
Applique faux hand-quilted style (not in my quilt, just practice)

My tree 


Mallard - minus wing which will be machine quilted in

Aspen leaves minus the stem which will be quilted in

Applique Lessons with Madeleine

Yesterday was an awesome day. I got to learn to applique from my cousin's quilting mentor. As I've mentioned before, any time I quilt with Marsh, I inevitably hear the name Madeleine mentioned at least twice. Well yesterday I finally got to work with Madeleine herself, who had driven out from Colorado.
We began with freezer paper applique, and did the blind stitching with clear thread to give it a hand quilted appearance. It had a lot of steps, but the results were beautiful. I'm going back over today so I'll bring photos.
After we finished our freezer paper design, we ran off to A Time to Sew quilt shop in Laguna Hills/Mission Viejo. We picked up a few fabrics (of course) and supplies for my sewing kit, including fusible web materials for our second kind of applique.
We made aspen leaves using the fusible web technique, then did silk stitching around the edges. Beautiful!! I loved the way they turned out, my first few silk stitched leaves were pretty shaky, but then we grabbed some stabilizing paper that tore away when finished, and boy did that help!
We did some free-hand quilting on the aspen leaves to give them stems and secure them to the old piece of polyester batting lying around in Marsh's spare stash. That was exciting, and sure not as easy as it looked when she did it.
Last we set my walking foot up and attempted to stitch in the ditch on my terrible first block from the no longer clueless quilting class I took at Material Possessions. Working with that block made me realize how far I've come in a month, I guess I should keep it for posterity.
I gave Madeleine her rite of passage to California, an In N Out burger, then dropped her off at my Aunt's home in Orange where she's staying during her visit. 
In a few moments I'll be going back over to the quilting studio to practice both methods again so I don't forget the processes!

Here's the finished quilt top!

It's a 72" square, 25 block sampler. I'm very glad to have finished it. It's full of many errors, but given that I had never even touched a sewing machine a month and a half ago, I forgive myself those errors ;)
This should help you get an idea of scale, that's my mom holding it up over the banister. She's a tall woman and she's holding it over her head, up the stairs.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Worked on the Quilting Room

I spent yesterday in the quilting studio but I wasn't quilting. I was organizing. The quilting studio is currently set up at my parent's house in my childhood bedroom. Originally it had been made because I'd moved out and no longer needed a room there, and my cousin needed a space to quilt where her young children couldn't get into things or get hurt by the sharp implements. Once I started learning to quilt from her, I was even more glad I allowed them to convert my old bedroom over.
Yesterday my dad helped me move around heavy objects and I cleared out the bookshelves from my childhood so I could use them to store boxes of fabric. We got a surprising amount of work done and I think I should be able to move the ironing board and cutting table around a bit to create more space now. This week my cousin's friend and quilting mentor Madeline is driving out to CA from CO to visit. She will be teaching me how to machine quilt and applique as well as perhaps do piping for the pillow I'm making my friend as a gift. I'm very excited to meet her since every time Marsh and I quilt it's Madeline does this, Madeline that. =)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finished the Quilt Top!

Yesterday I worked from 11:30am to 8:30pm and I put all the sashings and cornerstones on and put the top together!!!! Everything looked soooo much better with the frames around it and I couldn't believe I'd finished it. My very first quilt. A 25 block sampler with 12" blocks - that's a 6 foot square quilt - basically it's queen sized! Ridiculous =) I took some crappy photos with my cell phone because I had forgotten to bring my camera with me - I'll post them asap!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Walking Foot?

Necessary for stitch in the ditch or expensive and unnecessary?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Machine Quilting - hard but fun!

I took a free-form machine quilting class to learn to "sandwich" together my quilt tops with batting in between and a backing fabric. We made 3 plain muslin quilt sandwiches to practice with, and after the teacher showed us a bunch of her quilts to explain the different techniques, she had us draw out the various patterns we were going to try. We doodled in the various styles, including stippling (a free-form type of scrawl that never crosses over itself, like loopy puzzle pieces), loops and hearts, loops and stars, spiral-y daisies, and vines of leaves. Then finally, we sat down to our machines to play.
From the front

I initially had some threading and tension issues, but I sorted them out for the most part, although it will definitely be a guessing game for a while until I get the feel for it.
From the back (bobbin side)

I was surprised at the feel - so different from piecing! I actually felt pretty exhilarated by how unstructured it was, and how fast we had to work to get the rounded edges. I felt pretty proud at accomplishing each of the shapes, even if they were nowhere as nice as the teachers. I'm sure someday I'll look back at these practice scraps I'm so excited about and feel embarrassed, like I do about the first block I ever made. I think my favorite were the vines and the spiral daisies. I want to practice this again tomorrow when I go over to quilt - I also need to start putting my sashings on my quilt top so I can finish it and start a new project! I love quilting =)

Spiral Flower

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Finished the Blocks!

Today I finished my last two blocks, Jacob's Ladder and Right Hand of Friendship. My sashings and cornerstones are cut out and ready to assemble! I was amazed when we calculated that it will be 6 feet square with just the sashings attached, wowza, how did I end up with such a monster first quilt?! Tomorrow I'm taking a machine quilting class, but I won't be doing this sucker, it'll probably go off to Steamboat, CO where my cousin's friend Madeline will make the sandwich for me. She's got the machine to do the job. I'm very excited about tomorrow's class, I'll be putting together little 12" squares of my crappier blocks I chose to kick out of my quilt. I may make them into little throw pillows just to try doing those. I'll let you know how it all goes =)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Finals Are Coming Up

I can't make it over to quilt again until friday, and I'm already feeling withdrawls. I have just one last block to make before I start adding sashings and cornerstones. Then it's time to consider my border and finish this baby.
I think I need to make Katie's pillow block Friday so that I can bring it with me to the machine quilting class as another small project I can practice on. I haven't yet figured out exactly what color I'm going to use with the pinks and the black and white panda fabric she wants. I have a very simple pattern I'm going to use to make a 16" square for the pillow - it's the pattern my cousin is currently using for a charity quilt she's making.
For my next project I want to either make the lap-sized log cabin quilts for my mom and I or the baby sized Chinese coin quilt... we'll see. It depends on the fabrics Marsh will let me work with. She's been very generous with her stash since I don't have one yet (college student budget).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bad Day

Well it was one of those days where nothing seems to go right. I had the hardest time getting one block together, I made mistake after mistake! First I began to make a block, had cut my first few pieces, then realized it was a 12 1/2" block which won't work for my 12" block sampler! Then I found one I liked that was 12", but I didn't have enough of the fabrics I wanted to work with to make it. 
Finally I settled for Amish Star. I thought the pattern was wrong (it rarely is) because I didn't seem to have enough of something, but it turned out I had set the flying geese I was missing down in a corner and didn't realize it, so I made another two which allllmost made it so I didn't have enough of my one color of fabric to continue the block. I scrapped it up and was able to eek out one block but then I called it quits. 
Sometimes even when you really want to, you just shouldn't be quilting. The block turned out alright, it looks nice, but even my sewing wasn't up to par. I just should have realized it was an off day and quit earlier but oh well! One more block and I'm done with my sampler blocks, then it's sashings, cornerstones, and border, then off to Madeline to get it quilted! I'm taking a machine quilting class to learn to quilt my own, but this project turned into a monster, and I know I'm not ready to tackle a quilt of that size!