Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Washing a Baby Quilt/Batting Choices

Baby quilts are a wonderful gift to give and provide a great opportunity to practice beginning quilting skills or try a new free-form design. Choose a design that is simple and even so the quilting density remains consistent. The quilt pictured below features an edge-to-edge clamshell design.

These small quilts take a lot of wear and tear, so an even amount of quilting is really necessary for keeping the quilt held together as long as possible. Skimping on the quilting because it's "only a baby quilt" will result in a short life for the quilt. Large, open areas need to be quilted evenly so they don't get distorted and worn over time.

Minimal quilting and regular washing cause baby quilts to wear out in the first year. Rather than tossing a quilt in a regular wash cycle, try soaking out stains.  A short time spent soaking is better than the agitation of the washing machine. Use a eco-friendly washing product for all your quilts. I like Orvus Paste and Ivory hand dish liquid. Detergents contain phosphates which are harsh and will strip the colors from quilts over time.

I usually let the washing machine fill with lukewarm water and the recommended soap. Let the quilt soak in this solution for about 20 mins.; spin out, rinse and spin again. A little agitation is OK but don't let the entire cycle run if you can manipulate this on your machine. My washer is 20 years old and I can control the dials but newer models might not allow changes in the cycle because they "lock in".

Another option is to use a clean dishpan, tub or sink for the soaking and rinsing. Use a large bath towel to roll the quilt and squeeze out moisture. Lay flat on a dry towel to air dry the quilt. Choosing a gentle washing/drying method will keep fabric intact longer. When giving a quilt as a gift, a little written note on how to care for the quilt and a small bottle of washing soap will be appreciated by the quilt owner!

Use a breathable, natural fiber batting such as Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 (cotton/poly blend) or Hobbs Wool. Avoid battings that recommend quilting 8-10" apart, such as Warm and Natural. Save these products for wall hangings or tablerunners. Also, 100% polyester battings don't breathe like a cotton batting. This means they insulate well but can be too warm for swaddling. Stick with natural fibers--cotton, wool, silk, with a bit of polyester mixed in for durability--and you will have a batting that can be quilted heavily and still maintain the drapability of a cozy quilt.

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs

Friday, December 16, 2011

Diana's baby quilt

This baby quilt was designed by my friend, Diana. She asked me to quilt and bind it for her. She has a great eye for colors and how to put things together. I think this is a fabulous design to highlight a fun print in the 4" center squares, framed by green and yellow sashing and red cornerstones that pop!

I spent a little bit of time pondering how to quilt this because of the different pieces. I considered an all-over grid, but the diagonal measurements from cornerstone to cornerstone don't fit a 1" pattern, which I like to have on this size quilt; however, each square is 4" and that makes for an easy grid line to follow. I started by quilting-in-the-ditch next to the sashing. Then I chalked lines 1" apart and quilted continuously up and down vertically through the length of the quilt, traveling in the ditch to get to the next line.

I finished the border with a 1" diagonal line, changing direction at the corners. Then I added the red binding. It's OK to bind a quilt before all the inside quilting is complete. As long as the border is completely quilted, the binding can be sewn on. Sometimes I add more quilting. In this case, I only quilted the ditch of the inner border. I could have cross-hatched a grid in the 4" squares, but I decided to leave it with only the vertical lines 1" apart. All the seam lines were stitched-in-the-ditch, giving this quilt enough stability to withstand the tugging and washing that comes with using a baby quilt.

Next, I'll give some tips on care/washing and choosing a batting for baby quilts.

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Puzzle Piece Quilting Design

The interlocking design of a jigsaw puzzle can be used as an all-over quilting design. To make a template, lay a white piece of paper over a constructed puzzle and rub a crayon over the paper to transfer the design onto the paper.

The steps that follow serve as a mental exercise in seeing how this design will be quilted. If your quilt top is a grid of squares sewn together, all you will need to do is stitch-in-the-ditch between the seam lines and free-form quilt the interlocking piece shape--hills and valleys. But drawing it out first on paper will definitely help coordinate your hands and head when quilting this design.

The lines between the puzzle pieces will appear white and need to be darkened. Using a black permanent pen, start at the top left corner and trace the horizontal lines across to the right side, travel down to the next row and trace from right to left, repeating the process until you reach the bottom of the design.

Next trace the vertical lines with a red pen.

The manner in which the design is traced is the same path that will be taken for quilting. This is a basic grid that will vary in size depending on the size of the original puzzle pieces. The example here is a 1.5" grid. Begin with the horizontal black lines and continue with the vertical red lines.

To transfer the design to a quilt top, lay the marked design on a light table and trace onto the quilt top with a blue washable marker. When transferring a design to a heavier fabric such as flannel, try tracing the individual puzzle pieces onto the quilt top. This works best with jumbo sized puzzle pieces where the grid will be larger. Remember, you can "eyeball" it, but if you like following the blue line, mark it!

Puzzle piece quilting designs would look great on a kid's quilt top. I can't wait to try it out soon!

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sarah's skirt

While visiting Sarah in Seattle recently, we made her a yellow stretch cotton skirt.

She wanted to make a waistband to use some 1.5" elastic. We cut the waistband the length of her waist and 4.5" wide. One end of the elastic was stitched onto the waistband, then the other end was overlapped 1/2" and stitched into place.This was folded down to make a 2.25" waistband. You will see stitching on only one side of the waistband, which you will want to have facing toward the body when joining the waistband to the skirt. Finally baste the raw edges together.

For the skirt, we used the full width of the fabric (selvedge to selvedge) and used the waist to knee measurement for the length of the skirt. For example, the full width will range from 45 - 60". The waist-to-knee measurement was 18-20". We trimmed the selvedge edges to make a smooth finished seam, which is sewn 1/2" and pressed open. Baste the top edges of the skirt to gather the fullness.

Taking this tube of skirt, pin the right side of the waistband to the right side of the skirt at the top raw edges. Ease in the fullness as the two pieces are pinned together.

Sew a 3/8" seam all around the top edge of the skirt to join the waistband to the skirt. Follow with a 1/2" or 5/8" seam to reinforce the stitching line. Once this is sewn securely, it is fine to remove the basting stitches.

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Doll Quilt Binding & Feathered Border

Sewed a double-fold blue binding to the doll quilt, which needed to be flipped to the back and hand sewn in place. I took this with me on the bus a couple of weeks ago when I went to see Oklahoma! at Portland Center Stage http://www.pcs.org/ --a must see!!! The next day I took the bus/max train to Beaverton to meet Martin and finished up this project while en route. Very nice to have some handwork to do instead of averting glances at strangers...

Also this week I'm finishing up another Yellow Brick Road quilt. I've made enough of these to wrap around the block of my house. This one highlights all the free motion designs I have learned or designed myself, so it is truly a canvas of many quilting classes taught. Still have a few open spaces to quilt, but I'm excited to put on the multi-colored binding and put it on the extra bed in the girls' room upstairs. A quilt to greet Sarah when she returns home, if Hannah doesn't steal it for herself!

For the border, I used stencil LD21 Feather Border w/Tendrils 5" (LD stands for designer Linda Mae Diny and the distributor is QCI, Inc.), and also King Tut Old Gold (#976) with a size 80/12 topstitch needle. I lowered the top tension to 1 and had to drop it even lower when the bobbin got near empty. I put King Tut Betty Cotton Cottage Colors (#949) in the bobbin which blended well with the backing fabric. I used a hand-dyed backing fabric which had some darker streaks running through the base burgundy.

In other news...Becca ran her personal best of 22:50 at the Concordia/Adidas XC classic last weekend, finishing 6th in the unscored JV race, out of 157 runners. Way to go Bec!

Sarah was home from Seattle to cheer her on as well as the usual suspects, including my brother, John, who said Becca ran her best race EVER!!! This is senior year, she's a captain and it looks promising for her to run at the varsity level for next week's district meet. Barring a natural disaster, the team will go to the state meet. Last year, Becca got to run as an alternate when someone got sick. This year she's ON FIRE to train hard for all the season ending glory she can enjoy. And she should :)

Sarah snapped this lovely photo of my dad's habanero peppers which we left to ripen on the windowsill. It didn't take long for all the green ones to turn from yellow to orange, then we popped them in the freezer.

Oh, and the domestic quilter celebrated another year of wonderful life with family, friends, and quilts! Blessed am I.

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tomatoes & Quilt Discovery!

Spent yesterday canning 13 pints of tomatoes (+12 last week), something I haven't done for several years. It goes hand-in-hand with the domesticity of quilting to be a canning woman. At least once a decade. When winter sets in and I'm a quiltin' away, I'll really be thankful for those jars and the yummy meals they will provide.

Most of the tomatoes came from my dad's garden. He had 12 Early Girl variety tomato plants this year. I had two growing in my yard and the fruit was never as red and juicy as those grown on my childhood homestead. I still have some Siletz, Northern Delight, Roma, and Sunspot packed into one raised bed.

Was cleaning back behind the loveseat and found this little quilt I was working on during spring break. I did blog about how I was hand quilting it and then I obviously forgot all about it. Leather is slippery! Out of sight, out of mind. I think all it needs is another line or two of quilting, then on with the binding.

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dance Skirt

Here's a yoga style dance skirt I made for my dancing queen from two remnants. The skirt is a poly/spandex fabric. I had a 20" x 54" piece, which I trimmed to 16" x 48". Normally you can use the entire length selvedge to selvedge but there was a flaw on the print which I cut off near one of the edges. I pinned the two 16" edges rights sides together and sewed a 1/2" seam down the back.

The waistband of unknown fiber--but a nice stretchy gray fabric-- is one piece cut on the fold 11" x 15", so it measures 22" x 15" (to fit a waist measurement of 25").  The 15" edges are sewn together with a 1/2" seam to form the waistband tube. The 15" is folded in half so it is 7.5". Edges are sewn together before attaching to the skirt, which is gathered. Sew with a zig zag stitch and then remove the basting stitches; otherwise they could pop when the skirt is pulled on. I didn't hem the bottom edge because this fabric doesn't fray and the length is perfect. Normally, I'd sew a 1/4" narrow hem.

The waistband can be folded down again to create a visible 3-4" band. Very comfortable for dancing and perfect for tonight's jazz and ballet classes. It took a couple of hours to make and only cost about $4 using remnants.

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

End of Summer...First day of School!

Just returned from a couple of road trips. One was to Montana to visit a college with Becca.

Another was an anniversary/birthday trip to Victoria B.C., with Martin.

Really beautiful sunsets in Victoria...

On the way back, we stopped in Seattle to pick up David from a weekend visit with Sarah.

We had dinner at the Elephant and Castle in downtown Seattle before heading home.

Couple days to recover before the First Day of School!  Hannah is an official 8th grader and Becca is a senior. (Becca, however, declined to be photographed).

Excited to get to work on my September projects, in and around the house and yard. Lots of quilting for the fall is planned, mostly projects in the works that have been waiting for my attention.

Copyright©2011, Sharon Baggs

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Birthday David!

My baby boy is 20 today! We celebrated with the family + Natalie with a sushi dinner at Tani's and then cake & ice cream at home while watching the I.T. Crowd (funny British sit-com).  Very proud of our boy, a kind and responsible young man who has worked hard this summer as a head swim coach and swim instructor at a local pool.

And yes, there are 20 candles on the cake! Many happy returns of the day, dear boy. Love you!

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Completion: Sunbonnet Sue

Ah, the old girl is done...finally! Finished with the red binding which frames all the ladies quite lovely.

Here's a few highlights of the quilting. Background of each block:

Feather design in the setting triangles along the sides of the quilt:

Smaller version of the feather in the four corners:

Placement of the label on the back of the quilt, which also shows the quilting:

An exciting bit of news for Hannah this week. She is cast for the role of Helen in A Christmas Story at Portland Center Stage  http://www.pcs.org/xmas-story-2011/

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs

Monday, August 8, 2011

Making a Quilt Label

A label is an important finishing touch on a quilt. After all the time cutting, piecing, quilting, and binding is complete, it is tempting to skip the label just to get er done. But including the detailed information of who, what, where, when, and how it was made will be a treasure to look at in the years to come. The label below was made by Andrea for the feedsack quilt I repaired and quilted for her.

Every quilt label should contain a few basic facts: name of quilt, the maker or makers of the quilt, who the quilt is for (if designated), when it was made, and perhaps where it was made. It can be written simply on a piece of muslin, or even more simply written directly on the back of  the quilt.

One of my most used books for label making is Iron-On Transfers for Quilt Labels by Barbara Baatz of the American School of Needlework. I love the simple drawings and usually clip away some of the printed words so I can write in my own.

I begin with some muslin and a piece of freezer paper. The shiny side of the freezer paper is lightly ironed to the back of the fabric. This stabilizes the fabric for writing. On the non-shiny side of the freezer paper, I often draw dark, evenly spaced lines as a guide which can be seen through the right side of the fabric. Then I iron the quilt label transfer to the fabric.

It often takes a bit of trial and error to get a label that satisfies. With the Sunbonnet Sue quilt's label, my first attempt squeezed in all the information I wanted to include.

Next I over compensated and left too much room at the bottom of the label. Still I used this one to try out different colors and styles of pens.

Finally I reorganized the order of the information and everything balanced out. Using the same fine-tipped micron pen as I did for the writing, I outlined the design and colored it in. Besides micron pens, fabric markers, colored pencils, even crayons can be used to enhance a label. Sharpies can be used but tend to bleed, so use with care.

The final step is to peel the freezer paper off the back of the label and lay it face down on the front of the label. Use the iron to heat set the design. Peel the paper off the label and you will see some excess ink and waxy residue.

A border of fabric may be sewn to the edge of label, or just press the edges of the muslin under and whip stitch it to the back of the quilt. I usually place it on the lower left, a few inches in from the edge of the quilt.

Copyright ©2011, Sharon Baggs