Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Table Topper #2

I snagged these roses from a family wedding, which was laden with at least 1,000 flowers in my favorite color. They look beautiful on this table topper, the second take from Charlene C. Frable's Quilt as Desired (Krause Publications, 2007). The fabrics appear in reverse order from the first table topper (see previous blog post.) Five fat quarters make enough wedges for both toppers. Before free-motion quilting this one, I looked at the Swirls and Curls shown on p. 124 of the book. I doodled the design in my notebook and discovered my interpretation of the drawn design appeared a bit different. That's OK, and in fact, necessary if you are going to make the design your own and be able to quilt it free-form with no marking. My style could be dubbed Hooks and Spirals which look like large comma marks. Work through the process of drawing it out and you recognize a design that has your personal style attached to it, much like your handwriting. Then get to quilting it while the line drawings are fresh in your mind.

Quilting tip: Sandwich a scrap piece of your top fabric with the batting and backing to try out thread choices; work on adjusting even tension with the top and bottom thread. I used Madeira Cotona 30 wt. variegated cotton thread in the top and Mettler 50 wt. cotton in the bobbin, paired with a size 90 topstitch needle. Polyester batting doesn't shrink; it's a good choice for this project. I used DreamPoly brand batting. Other brands are lofty and slippery to machine quilt, but DreamPoly lies flat and cooperates.

Here's a close-up of the center. I quilted about half of the topper along the outside rings, giving it stability, before quilting into the center. I like the long hook quilted here. This is where your artistic interpretation and instincts take over, allowing you to decide what to quilt in the style you are following.

The purple backing really shows off the design. If your skills are just developing and you feel a bit shaky, use a busy print backing to ease your critical eye. Keep quilting and your stitching will continue to improve to the point where you want to show off your quilting ability.

Binding note: I used a 2-inch bias cut double-fold binding. With topper #1, I noticed a bit of curling on the edges when the binding was complete so this time I clipped 1/8" toward the sewing line every 1-2". Avoid clipping too close to the stitching. Because some areas of the seamline were not sewn a consistent 1/4", I ended up double stitching the binding's raw edges to the topper, creating reinforcement. I flipped the binding to the back and hand sewed it in place with a blind stitch.

Copyright 2008, Sharon Baggs

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Table Topper #1

Who said quilting with a walking foot is boring? Shown here is the front and back of the table topper from Quilt as Desired (Charlene Frable), revealing a simply classic, yet stellar design, quilted completely with a walking foot. Quilting tip: I used 50 wt. cotton thread (Mettler brand) in both the top and bobbin, a 80/12 microtex sharp needle, and a 2.0 stitch length. Follow the quilting directions as described in the previous post, but keep your needle down in the fabric when pivoting slightly to quilt diagonally. Next stitch in the seam line between the purple circle and the blue/purple print fabric. I used a star stencil to mark the center circle and quilted it with matching Mettler cotton thread.

Binding note: I decided a piped binding would best finish this project. I cut 2" bias strips of blue fabric and used purple fabric for the piped accent. I used an acrylic yarn inside the piping strip to get it to stand up a bit. This was my first attempt at piped binding and I think it turned out well. My only issue was the edge finished a bit tight and tended to curl up in spots. I pressed it well and that helped. On a second attempt, I will clip the edge slightly to help it lay down before sewing the binding down.

Remember, this pattern makes two table toppers. Next time, I'll show you a different way to quilt it using a darning foot and a free motion design.

Copyright 2008, Sharon Baggs

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fast and Fun Table Toppers

This table topper is from Charlene Frable's book Quilt as Desired. Using a 22.5 degree wedge (I improvised with a slightly smaller wedge) segments are cut from strips and sewn together to make the circle. The center is machine appliqued. The pattern actually makes two toppers--the one shown here and another with the fabrics in reverse order. I quilted this one with straight line cross-hatching across each segment; the second will be quilted with free motion swirls and curls.

Here's the one with straight line cross-hatching. Quilting tip: Starting on the outside edge, stitch a diagonal line across the first segment. Stop at the seam, pivot, and continue stitching diagonally. The entire top is quilted with one continuous line and makes a beautiful star-pointed design on the back. Total time piecing and quilting this topper takes about 3 hours. A great project for practicing your straight line quilting; makes a treasured gift!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quilt Goals for 2008

Hey, hey, four months into the year and I'm ready to state my quilting resolutions for 2008!
1. Complete three UFO's. I won't get so far as to call Dave Ramsey and scream, "I'm quilt-free!" but you get the picture.
2. Make an Amish quilt.
3. Quilt a king-size quilt on my Bernina, just to prove it can be done.
4. Oversee daughter Becca finish her Jazzy Trip quilt; enter it in the State Fair.
5. Design and quilt notebook-sized art quilts, one a week, during the summer.
6. Learn to hand-dye fabric.
7. Hand-dyed fabric in hand, I will follow Ricky Tims' lessons on making a Rhapsody Quilt.
Seven is a good number to start; there's more to come!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mosaic quilters

A cool group of ladies with a quilty name. The first Saturday of every month the Mosaic Quilting Connect group meets together to learn basic piecing, work on their projects, and sew blocks for community quilts. Ruthann and Diana (second and third from left) are the pioneering women who graciously pour themselves into this group each month, gladly sharing what they know with others. Today I had the distinct pleasure to teach a bit of machine quilting. Camie is displaying the class sample pieces and was gung-ho to go home and practice. That's what it's all about!

Copyright 2008, Sharon Baggs

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sand doodles

I discovered a plethora of beautiful rocks on the beach last week. Such great shapes and colors. I arranged them on this square in the sand. Rocks are an easy free-form design to quilt. Practice the motion first by drawing on paper, or as I did here in the sand: circles and oblongs of various sizes. Quilting tip: It's OK to double-stitch part of the circle to begin another shape. This adds texture to the overall look. Depending on your background fabric or thread color, these shapes may resemble rocks, bubbles, floral bouquets, or spots on an animal. Make notes in your sketch notebook and try drawing with different colors to see the possibilities!

Shells are another seashore-inspired design. Notice the mussel shell at the center. Quilting tip: Start by making a teardrop shape. At the base, quilt an arc back to the other side, touching at the middle of the first teardrop. Make one or two more arcs. Begin a new teardrop shape off to the side and continue building the design. For a slightly different look, make a teardrop shape but hook it back out to give an open-shelled appearance, as I did here with my doodle in the sand.
Copyright 2008, Sharon Baggs