Saturday, December 27, 2008

Quilt as you go

I've been having a little fling with quilt-as-you-go. This is an old school technique designed to handle the quilting in small sections. I learned this technique to make this Log Cabin quilt for someone who constructed with this method. She had all the strips and batting squares cut out ahead of time so it seemed it would be fast and easy. It actually took me much longer to make a quilt this way, but here's what I learned.

Rather than layer a top with batting and backing, the block is quilted directly onto the batting, as a foundation, during construction. I found I needed an acrylic ruler to keep the strips in line while adding them or the squares didn't come out quite right.

Once the blocks are constructed, they are sewn into strips, then sewn to the backing. This is where I ran into some trouble. There was too much slack on the back, so I removed the stitching. Instead I continued to sew fabric and batting together until the top was completed. Then I layered the top/batting to the backing.

For the quilting I stitched-in-the-ditch through all the construction lines and borders. I added quilt lines around the center green block and quilted in a square a couple of seams away from that. Really simple quilting with a walking foot and it turned out well.

Another quilt-as-you-go method involves stitching all three layers together block-by-block, then sewing them together.

I faced a bit of a quandary when binding this quilt. I had to use what fabric was trimmed away from the back. I cut 2" strips from all the remaining fabric and ended up just 3" short of enough. What to do? I decided to sew together two short strips 1-1/8" x 6" to make a 2" wide strip When I pressed them in half, the seam line was on the fold that was handsewn to the back. Easy to disguise and a good solution when you don't have enough fabric in the width you need--piece them!

Copyright ©2008, Sharon Baggs

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Leaf designs to quilt

Ah, the beautiful leaves of fall, now all sittin' under seven inches of snow and ice outside. Winter has arrived! But severe weather outside allows you to be inside and work on some free motion designs, provided the electricity is still on...

Use a white board with a dry erase marker or a pencil with your sketch book. Begin with a simple arc, elongated s-curve, drawing a small hill and then going down into the valley until you reach a point. Easy, right?

Now head back the other way with another arc until you reach the starting point...basic shape accomplished. If you can draw this, you will be able to quilt it even better.

Add a vein by drawing up the center to the tip of the leaf and retracing the line back to the starting point. When you quilt this center vein, the retracing doesn't have to be exact. In fact, it will look great if you stitch a bit away from it, about a 1/8" echo line.

Quilting the basic leaf shape, add in veins, maybe echo around the shape, then once you have one leaf quilted, go on to the next by quilting a meandering line to an open area where you can stitch another basic leaf shape, repeating the process.

When I quilt these leaves in a block, say as a background fill, I will begin my securing stitches in the seam line, then begin quilting a short meandering line. Add leaves, meandering in between, until the space is filled. Return to a seam line to secure the final stitches.

I have a few little journals where I sketch out a basic design. It's not to be an aspiring's how to train my brain to follow the lines. Then I'm prepared to quilt lines, curves, and swirls with needle and thread on my sewing machine.

Copyright ©2008, Sharon Baggs