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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kitty Cat Love Quilt

    
    August 2014 update: I am entering this post into the 2014 Pets on Quilts contest hosted by Lilypad Quilting.  As you can see from the ice moutains behind the quilt - this picture was not taken in August! 

    After years of hoarding this novelty cat fabric, I finally have a quilt!  When I first started quilting, I was buying fabric at a pretty good pace, but without a plan.  (Now, I am still buying fabric, but usually with some sort of plan).  In 2001, our cat, Chester, was just a kitten and I was taken by this beautiful Alexander Henry line of cat fabric.  I purchased quite a bit in this sage and gold and red colorway, as well some in pinks.  I have used the pinks on occasion, but held on to these fabrics for all these years, since I could never quite figure out what to do with them. 
The cats, the birds, the yarn, the hair!

The matching large novelty print
      


      I pulled out the fabric this fall, intending to try a disappearing nine-patch block in a quilt for a friend, but then decided that the "cat-ness" of this quilt was a bit much.   Instead, I decided that this would be a quilt for my family.    Unlike my confetti quilt, which I started after I had made these blocks, I kept the red square in the center of all of the nine-patch blocks, and also kept the gold birds and colorful kittens in the outer corners.  The placement of the two sage blocks and gold blocks were random.  I also starched the blocks before cutting them apart to help the cut blocks keep their shape.

The strips getting ready to become nine-patch blocks

Sewn together before cutting apart!
The resulting cut blocks
    I tried out a number of various block placements on my design wall, and ultimately decided on a non-random placement of the little red squares with two in the middle and two on opposite corners.





The 4 little blocks sewn back together.

The final version of nine-patch blocks for the center panel.
      I used a solid Kona cotton (Glacier, I think) that complemented some of the blue/greens in the prints for a one inch inner border and the binding.  I used the large cat print for the border.

The large cat print border
     Once the top was together, I had to decide how to quilt it, and looked to the little cat print with the unraveling ball of yarn for inspiration. 

Here is the unraveling yarn quilting
        I found the quilt top rather busy, and decided to simply stitch in the ditch on the inner border to give a little solid color relief to the top.  I used a dark green Aurifil thread on the top, and the tan Aurifil thread in the bobbin, which worked quite nicely. 
 
Attaching the binding.
     This turned out to be a hard quilt to quilt, probably because my machine needed some work. I especially found the side to side free motion quilting very laborious, and my stitches are not as even as I would like. After I got the top quilted, and all by the last 12 inches of the binding attached, I took advantage of a machine cleaning special at the shop where I had purchased my Bernina, and ended up leaving it for two weeks for a full tune-up.  
      While the machine was gone, I started hand sewing the binding that was completed. 
You can see the unfinished binding in the upper right corner.
     My son had gotten me the Quilting Modern book for Christmas, and I used the instructions in that book to finish off the binding when I got my machine back.  Getting the machine tuned up and thoroughly cleaned was a good idea.  It runs like a dream now.   

The newly connected ends of the binding.  In the past, I have just folded over the ends, which always left a little bump.  I only had to redo this three times before I got it right!
      I used a remaining large piece of the border fabric and some other leftover scrap and some IKEA numbers fabric for the backing.  I really like that IKEA fabric, but have no nearby store.  At Christmas, my daughter brought me 10 yards from her nearby IKEA.
The back of the quilt.
      Like everywhere in the country, it seems, it has been very cold and cloudy here.  This morning some sun came out, and  my good sport husband ventured out in the frigid air to hold up the quilt for photographing.   Lake Erie appears to be nearly totally frozen.  I find the frozen lake so beautiful.

  
      There was a bit more sun on the other side of the house, but a bit more wind, as well.
Some wind, some snow and some sunshine!


Some Kitty Cat Love from Chester

     The finished quilt is 61 inches by 72 inches.  There is nothing like a nice new quilt on a cold winter's day!

Take care and stay warm,
Gretchen

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Winter Sunshine Quilt

 
The Winter Sunshine Quilt

     Earlier this year, my sister-in-law visited, and kept me company as I quilted my Darling Starlings quilt.   She mentioned that she would love a quilt.   I had a new project! 

      Right now, I am on a crazy modern quilt kick, but her style is more traditional.  As I was mulling over various options, I discovered a stack of 48 yellow star blocks I had made in 2008, with the intention of making a two color (yellow and white) quilt for myself.  I found some pictures I had taken when planning out that quilt.  
The star blocks all in rows.
Auditioning the blocks set on point.
Trying out the blocks, set on point, on top of a white cloth.









      I liked that look, and cut white setting squares from various white on white prints and sewed one to each yellow star.   I had a big stack of stars and setting blocks.
      I have no idea why I didn't finish that quilt, but I didn't and those blocks ended up in a drawer.  Now they seemed absolutely perfect for a center panel for a quilt for my sister-in-law!  
Laying out the center panel.
      I was still considering a yellow and white color palette for this quilt.  I had the yellow and white print for a wide border and cut a solid yellow band for a narrower inner border. 
The yellow band and border material.
     As I was assembling the quilt, I just didn't like the yellow inner border.  Either the yellows weren't going together right, or it now seemed boring, but I thought the quilt needed a shot of another color.  I found a bright green which was in one of the more prominent yellow star fabrics and decided to use that for the narrow band.   I was happy that I did.
         


       In the past, I have hauled my heavy laminate cutting table up a flight of stairs from our basement to the living room in order to have enough room to open it up fully for pinning.  I have recently managed to clean out enough space in the basement to open the cutting table there.
 
      I found a nice orange, yellow and green floral for the back.   I use big binder clips to pull the fabric taut, and then pin that portion of the quilt.





It is nice to have the wine nearby while I pin the quilt top!

     I use my dining room table to quilt, and juggled holiday quilting with holiday entertaining.   
The dining room table the day before Christmas.


The dining room table the day after Christmas.
    I decided to do a diagonal cross hatch quilting on this quilt, using white thread.  I used a walking foot and quilted at one inch intervals.  I used a straightedge and water soluble marker to make sure the first line was straight, then relied upon the walking foot guide.  Sewing the lines going one way was slow at first, because I had to remove the pins.  Sewing the other direction was a breeze! 



   I completed the quilt on New Year's Day, and sent it off , but not before making my husband stand outside in the bitter cold!  Here is another shot of the quilt, and the frozen lake. A little bit of Winter Sunshine, indeed.

 
I wish you all some sunshine this winter!
Take care,
Gretchen

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year's Colorful Confetti Quilt Top!

The New Year's quilt top!

     Happy New Year! 

     I have been busy with finishing details on quilts during December.  One quilt is packed up to be shipped out next week (and will be posted about after it is received).  I have two quilts pinned up, ready to quilt, but since my dining room table is also my quilting table, I need to put away my holiday tableware and decorations.  

     One of those quilts features a center panel made with a disappearing 9-patch pattern, using some 2001 Alexander Henry novelty cat prints.  I enjoyed making that panel.  I was very deliberate in my color and fabric placement choices.  As I was making that quilt, I finally ordered and received a Kona Color Card.  I started thinking about the possibilities of making a disappearing 9-patch using only solid colors in a more random placement.    
My Kona Color Card.
     I decided to make this a New Year's Eve and New Year's Day project. What better way to start a new year than playing around with happy colors?  I decided to use 9 different colors, and make 9-patch blocks using each of the colors.  After some trial and error, I settled on some clear bright colors, plus black and white.  I had considered an orange, and a lighter purple, but ended up with the colors below.  The acid green and the yellow photograph very close to each other, although they stand out more in the quilt itself. 
The final color choices, cut up into 4 1/2 inch squares.
     Since this was a project I wanted to finish in a day or so, I decided to do a wall hanging or baby size quilt, so I made twelve 9-patch blocks, which finished up at 12 1/2 inches each.  
The piles of  the nine squares for each block.  
       I did try to get a center block of each color for the squares; each block has all nine colors; other than that - the placement of the colors was totally random.   I starched the blocks as I pressed them, which made them easy to handle as I cut and arranged the smaller blocks.
A sample of 4 of the finished 9-patch squares.
A finished 9-patch square ready to be cut up. 
The four squares after cutting up the 9-patch.  I love how these turned out!
The pile of cut up squares.
       I shuffled the finished smaller squares, and starting pinning them up randomly to my design board.  I did move some around to avoid have large blocks of the same color.   I settled on a final arrangement before the ball drop in Times Square! 
One of the variations of the blocks on my wall. 
     In order to ensure the quilt was sewn together in the same order that I liked on the design wall, I marked each block with a pin on which I had written a number, so I knew which order to sew the blocks into rows. 
A close up of the numbered pins. 
     Since this was not a huge quilt, sewing the smaller blocks into a quilt top only took a few hours on New Year's Day.  It was a nice and colorful way to celebrate the beginning of  2014. 
A close up on the finished quilt top.
      I got a few quilting books for Christmas, and I spent some time practicing new free motion quilting patterns.   My plan is to quilt this top using the mod squarish design below, and I am thinking about using a bright multicolor thread for the quilting.  
My practice sample of some free motion quilting patterns.  Practice makes perfect, or at least, better!
      I will post a picture of the finished Confetti quilt when it is done.   I plan to get a lot of quilting done this winter, as it is cold and icy here!
The snow mountains forming on the beach. 

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and colorful New Year!

Take care,
Gretchen


(c) 2014,  all rights reserved.