Monday, June 30, 2014

Godstone Grannies - the top is together

The last sections of hexagons for my Godstone Grannies (GG) quilt top are stitched together! I'm going to drag this out just a little bit! Silvana left a comment on my last post and she asked how I combined the colours so I thought I would share some of the things I do or think about when I make a scrap quilt.
  • I don't spend a lot of time thinking about fabric choices. I try to work quickly. If I like something I will go with it and if I'm not sure I will either set it aside and think about it or discard the combination right way.
  • I like to play with my fabric. I will put oodles of fabrics on a big table. I move them around and sometimes I’ll see a colour or print combination that really works and it is often a combination that I wouldn't have thought about. 
  • I try to use fabrics that are the same style. For example I wouldn’t combine children’s prints with Civil War prints.
  • I think about the "tone" of my quilt. I am fond of muddy or earthy tones. A little bit of bright thrown in with earthy or muddy tones will make a quilt sparkle but a lot of brights will mute the effect of the earthy tones/muddy tones. If I want a bright quilt then a little bit of muddy colours will make the brights really shine. If I use equal amounts it just doesn't work because neither stands out.
  • I think about what the overall colour of my quilt will be. The more of that colour I use the more likely the quilt will read that colour even though other colours are used.
  • I don’t match fabrics when I am buying. I just buy fabrics that I like; I figure that my tastes don't really change so the new fabric will probably work with what I've already got in my stash.
  • Colour is important but value is more important. Value is the lightness or darkness of a fabric when compared to another fabric. I try to make sure that there are lights, mediums and darks in most blocks. The eye sees value first and colour second.
  • When I make a scrap quilt I try to repeat some of fabrics in more than one block. This makes the quilt look more cohesive. In this way I don't have to worry that each fabric goes with all of the others. As long as some of them are repeated they will all work together!  
  • Using a single fabric for the path in a hexagon quilt will separate the blocks and it also makes the quilt look more polished because it is a fabric that flows throughout the quilt.
  • I like to make little 3” nine patches with my scraps. It is a great way to learn about colour and value. When I do this I think of colour combinations I would never have considered. If the block doesn’t look beautiful it will still work in a quilt because it is small but if it works, I have a good idea for combining colours for another quilt! If the block looks really bad I can take it apart and make something different or I can just throw it out!
The lecture is over so it is back to my GG quilt top! In this picture you can see that I've attached the lower right corner to the center strip. Looking good!

The last step was to attach the upper left corner....just one long seam and GG would be a hexagon quilt top! I am so pleased with how this quilt has turned out. The path fabric appears grey but in fact it is a very dull, faded pale peach.

The final step is to add narrow border strips around the quilt top. If I were to just place border strips on the quilt with the right sides together and stitch the border to the quilt top by machine I would have to cut through the hexagons at the edges and that would change the look of my partial diamonds, many of which were fussy cut for effect. I don't want to do that so I am going to add a narrow border to give the quilt straight edges. My plan is to applique the quilt to the borders. I want to do it this way for three reasons:
  • I do not want to cut through my hexagons,
  • a narrow border will make quilting the hexagons at the edge easier (it gives me something to hold when I quilt) and
  • I want flat, smooth, straight edges to make it easier to attach the binding when the quilting is done.
I'll explain how I'll  attache the border in an upcoming post!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Godstone Grannies......the final stretch!

I've stitched all five units of my Godstone Grannies (GG) hexagon quilt so now it is a matter of assembling the five units! This was my construction plan, one large center diamond and the four corners.

The lower left corners have been stitched to the large diamond in the middle. All of the papers have been removed except for those all around the outside edge.

In the following picture the upper right corner has been stitched to this unit!

The next step is to stitch the two remaining corners to the quilt.

I think that once they are all sewn together I am going to add a narrow border to give the quilt a straight edge. I've worked out a plan for how I will add the border and will share with you in an upcoming post!

I'm linking up with Angie's Hexie Weekend at A Quilting Reader's Garden. If you've shared a hexagon project on your blog why head over to Angie's blog and share with others? It is fast and easy and it is also a great way to get inspired by others. Angie is particularly interested in seeing replica's of old hexagon quilts that you've made or are working on. She has a picture of a very different hexagon quilt that is a replica of one made in 1920! Be sure to go take a look here!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, June 27, 2014

Value Proposition Quilt Along - Block 6

Welcome to Block 6 of my Value Proposition Quilt Along (QAL). I've told you other blocks are my favourites and once again this block is no exception! I hope that you like it as much as I do. I have a little secret about one of the fabrics I used. Keep reading to find out what it is! I'm also going to share a helpful tip about working with directional prints!

Value Proposition Map for Block 6

Value Proposition Recipe for Block 6
  • Cut 16 Light identified as A* on Map ( 8 for Round 2 and 8 for Round 3)
  • Cut 9 Medium identified as B on Map (1 for Center and 4 for Round 2 and 4 for Round 3)
  • Cut 6 Medium-dark identified as C on Map (for Round 1)
  • Cut 6 Dart identified as D on Map (for Round 3)
 I used a striped fabric for 12 of the As. It think it adds movement and interest to the block. I'm going to share a secret with you! I didn't have a suitable cotton fabric in my stash so what I used is a polycotton! It's my quilt and there are no quilt police. I liked the fabric, it worked in my quilt so I used it. If you need to use a fabric that is less than 100% cotton I won't tell! A girl has to do what a girl has to do and this girl did it!

My Value Proposition Block

This is my Block 6 shown in black and white. Notice that I've used stripes and that I paid attention to the direction of the stripes. By doing this it add interest but more importantly it makes the block look more controlled. If the stripes were just going every which way I think it would be jarring and it would be uncomfortable looking at the block. You don't have to use stripes but if you do think about how they will be used.

HELPFUL TIP:  Sometimes when I use stripes the direction of the stripe needs to change as was the case in my Block 6. If you look at the striped hexagons in the 3 and 9 o'clock positions you will notice that they run from point to point rather than side to side as is the case with all the others. If you choose to use a directional print what I do is mark an arrow on the paper hexagon so when I place it on my fabric I know that the stripes should run parallel to the arrow!

And now for my Block 6 in colour! Notice that my lights are not very light but they are lighter than the darker fabrics, sometimes just a little bit darker. As long as the lights are lighter than the mediums and the mediums are lighter than the darks you will be fine! It is a great way to experiment with value and to come up with some interesting results!

I set up a Value Proposition QAL page on Flickr so that you can post picture of your blocks and also see what others are doing! There are many very different and exciting blocks to see so do drop by and if you have time leave a comment if you see something you like!

If you are looking for previous Block installments of my Value Proposition QAL you will find all of the links under the tab Quilt Alongs by Karen H just under the banner. I hope you enjoy making Block 6. Block 7 will be available on July 11, 2014. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I send an email response to every comment so if you don't hear from me it means you are a no-reply blogger.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More progress on Godstone Grannies

I've now stitched more of the Godstone Grannies (GG) diamonds together into larger units and with each stitch I am getting more and more excited to see the GG quilt coming together. As I previously told you I have a plan for stitching the blocks together and I do that to give me nice long continuous seams to sew. It just makes the sewing much more efficient. The picture below is the unit that will be the lower left corner of the quilt and it will be attached to the large center diamond.

This is the large center diamond to which it will be attached.

This is the unit that will be the upper right corner of the quilt and it too can now be stitched to the diamond.

I always find it interesting how some blocks might not seem so attractive on their own but once they are joined together with the others it all seems to work just fine! That's why I don't worry so much about blocks that are less than beautiful! That being said if something really bothers me I'll fix it but sometimes it is good to take a wait and see approach!

Tomorrow I'll be publishing Block 6 in my Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt Along (QAL) and I'll try to get it up first thing so you'll have some fun sewing for the weekend! If you missed the previous blocks you'll find links to each under the tab Quilt Alongs by Karen H.

Until tomorrow, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lazy Punk #3 and the Laziest Punks Ever!

I've almost finished quilting my Mom's Lazy Punk #2. It was quilted on my Juki TL2010Q and I am pleased with the results. I'll post a picture when it is done. My next job is to layer and quilt my Mom's Lazy Punk #3. She has the blocks straight set for this one and it gives the quilt a very different look! The light is shining through the quilt so you don't get a good sense of the colour but it is vibrant!

And now for the laziest punks ever! I gave my Lazy Punk quilt to someone special and she tells me that of all the quilts I've made over the years, it is her favourite!

She is not a quilter but wanted to make some Lazy Punk blocks. She purchased artist's canvases that were stretched over wooden frames and painted them. Scrapbooking paper was used to make the blades and hub cap. Once everything was glued in place it was sealed. She now has wall art to complement her Lazy Punk quilt!

It would be interesting to use old comic books, newspapers or pages from old books to make these bits of wall art! When I tell her about fussy cutting I think she'll want to make more wall art! Nine hung that so that they abut one another would make a great faux wall quilt!

On Friday I'll be releasing Block 6 in the Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt Along. I can't wait to share and hope you like it as much as I do!

Until I post again, happy sewing!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Binding a Quilt with a Facing - Another Method

Just over a year ago I did a little tutorial about how I bind a wall quilt with a facing. You will find the tutorial here. When a quilt is bound with a facing you are left with a clean edge. On the left is a tradition double fold binding and on the right is a quilt bound with a facing.


If you've ever sewn a garment you will know that some edges are finished with a facing, for example a round neck blouse, the armholes on sleeveless blouse or a skirt that doesn't have a waistband. A facing can also be used to finish a quilt. As an example, this is my wall quilt "Jack" that is finished with a facing. I think a facing give more of a "gallery" finish to a quilt.

Jack, by Karen H 2013

This is what Jack looks like from the back.

Finishing a bed quilt with a facing is likely not a good idea because the edges of a quilt tend to get a lot of wear so a double fold bias binding would be my preferred method of binding a bed quilt that will be used. However if you are making a wall quilt or a bed quilt that will be not be used (or at least used very rarely) then a facing might be worth considering.

One of the blogs I follow is Chris' UK City Crafter and she recently did a tutorial on Invisible Binding. The invisible binding is a facing however Chris' method is a little different from mine and I think perhaps easier. You can read how Chris faces her quilts here!  The following picture is the back of her quilt with the facing ready to be stitched down. You'll want to see the front of this quilt because it is very sweet!

Reverse side of Chris' quilt with an invisible binding 

Thanks to reader Nicole I've been told about yet another method of binding a quilt with a facing. You will find the  tutorial at Terry Aske Art Quilt Studio. This is an interesting technique I am itching to try out!

I'm binding off for now so until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Grannies are coming together and two readers' Soupcon quilts to share

The diamond blocks for my Godstone Grannies (GG) coverlet are coming together.  I have a plan for stitching the blocks together. They will be sewn into five sections and then those five sections will be stitched together.

I've stitched nine blocks together for the big diamond in the center. I can't tell you how happy I am with how this is turning out! I've not laid the whole thing out to have a look so it is a bit of a surprise for me to see it develop! The papers and basting threads have been removed except for those around the outside edges.

Two more lovely readers have finished their Soupcon quilts. For those of you who are new to my blog Soupcon was my first Quilt Along. The instructions are available under the tab Quilt Alongs by Karen H or you can just click here to go to that page.  Soupcon is a French word that means a little bit. I called my quilt Soupcon because it includes a little bit of many different techniques that I like to use in my quilt making!

Kath has not only completed her quilt top but she now has it hanging in her new sewing room! It is so pretty with lovely little butterflies appliqued in the center medallion! You can see close-ups of her work on her Flicker page.

Carrie P has completed her quilt top. She decided against adding the foundation paper pieced border and I think it is a good decision. I love the last border. Those diamonds frame the quilt so nicely. Carrie did a wonderful tutorial titled "Applique Points"; you will find it here. I'm looking forward to seeing how Carrie quilts her Soupcon.

In May 2013 I published a tutorial on basting points for English paper piecing but the same techniques could be used for applique; I would give the basted diamond a spritz of starch and press with a hot, dry iron before removing the basting threads and paper.  You will find my tutorial here.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, June 22, 2014

FMQ on the Juki Tl2010Q

Time for my report on free motion quilting (FMQ) on the Juki TL2010Q! Although it didn't start out quite as smoothly as the piecing the Jukster and I have had some counselling from Juki America and I am pleased to report we are making up for lost time. I am in love, love, love!

The Owner's Manual
The manual that comes with the machine is not overly detailed particularly when it comes to FMQ however in fairness my experience most manuals are just bare bones information. The Juki manual is available online if you are interested in having a look; you will find it here. Given that the machine is sold as a quilting machine it would have been helpful if it contained more detailed FMQ information and in particular thread selection (more on this in a bit) and trouble shooting FMQ problems.

Juki Customer Service
Before I started to FMQ I wanted to lubricate the Jukster. The instructions very clear except for the bobbin case. I emailed Juki America and asked  for photographs showing exactly how to oil the the bobbin case. I received an email from Elbert the technician and he sent me the requested photographs along with detailed instructions. He also offered to speak to me on the telephone if I needed help. Great customer service!

Thread Selection
I love to use Superior's The Bottom Line in the bobbin but also on top, especially if I am outlining appliques. My test quilt is my Mom's Lazy Punk #2.

I threaded the Jukster with The Bottom Line on top and in the bobbin and I was off to the races. I stitched for a bit and then the thread shred, usually when sewing from left to right but not always. I made all the usual adjustments including rethreading the machine, adjusting the presser foot pressure, upper thread tension, needle size, needle type and so on but there was no improvement. I emailed Elbert the technician and he emailed me back with suggestions and he attached a document with detailed instructions on machine set up for FMQ. One of the things he told me is that Juki recommends not using a thread any lighter than 50 wt. This is one area where there is a deficiency; if the machine performs best with thread of a minimum weight it would be helpful to include the information in the manual. I changed the upper thread to Superior So Fine and the problem was resolved! The woman who sold me the Juki is a sewer but not a quilter so she has limited experience and knowledge when it comes to FMQ so it is a real bonus to be able to email or call a Juki technician for assistance.

I did test invisible thread when I tried out the machine and had no problem. I've not tried it on a quilt but will do so in the future and I'll publish my findings.

Stitch Quality
Gorgeous! I am beyond thrilled with the quality of the stitches. They are perfect and even and beautiful. I have the speed set at just below the midpoint and it is fast but not so fast that I can't control the quilt. To me the stitches very much resemble the quality of stitch one would see on a long arm machine. On the Janome I find my stitches are much smaller and since I like a lot of quilting the dense quilting and small stitches combined make for a stiff quilt.

Harp Space and Visibility
The harp space on my Janome 7700 is 11" wide and the Jukester's is 9". I thought this might be a bit of a shortfall but the needle shaft area is so narrow and the space so open that there is great visibility in front of and behind the needle, much better than on the Janome.  And the Jukster's harp is taller! In this picture I have half of the quilt rolled up and through the harp. There is oodles of space for my hands!

A Word of Caution
  • Unlike my Janome, the Jukster will sew even if the presser foot is up. When I stop sewing I take my foot right off the foot pedal to avoid an accident.
Some Things I Like about the Jukster
  • When I stop sewing the machine stops immediately unlike my computerized machines which seems to take a second to stop.
  • When I turn it on it is on unlike computerized machines which take a few seconds.
  • The Jukster is mechanical. I grew up before the age of computerized machines and learned to sew on a Singer treadle machine. When my Mom finally got an electric sewing machine it was mechanical of course. The sound and feel of a mechanical sewing machine is very familiar and comfortable and the fact that it isn't computerized is so much less intimidating.
  • The metal bobbin fills FAST. I can fill a bobbin with The Bottom Line (60wt polyester thread) in 40 seconds flat!
  • When the bobbin gets low on thread I don't have problems unlike the Janome (when the thread gets low or runs out the bobbin gets noisy and I can experience problems such as nesting). When the Jukster's bobbin runs out there are no problems aside from having to put in another bobbin of thread!
  • I don't like using extension tables; I prefer to sit my machine in the table so that it is flush with the table top however as extension tables go the Juki is well designed and easy to use. It comes completely assembled (unlike the Janome) and the legs just flip down for use like a card table.
  • The Juki has a  telescoping thread carrier built in whereas it was a separate purchase for my Janome machines.
  • The Juki has a huge foot control pedal (4.5" x 7") so it makes sewing very comfortable. I find my Janome pedal tends to slide away from me and as my foot stretches out to reach it I'm sprawling in the chair. I just know that has happened to you! The Juki pedal seems to stay put, no sliding around! There is also a built in thread trimmer in the pedal; when  finished sewing press your heel down to clip the threads (this is in addition to the thread trimmer on the control panel on the machine)

Things that are Missing from the Juki TL2010Q
  • I wish that the extra feet and tools had a case so they can be safely stored together. I'll pick up a little case for the tools and that problem will be solved.
  • It would be nice to have one more LED light in the harp area of the machine however the light that it does have is large and bright.
  • The Juki does not come with an open toe FMQ foot or a clear FMQ foot. While not absolute necessities they would be helpful tools to have in the kit.
Bearing in mind that I've only had the machine one week, I have pieced one quilt top and partially quilted that top. At this point I can say that as things stand I am in love with it! The Juki TL2010Q is a great machine and a real work horse. It sews through the layers of the quilt sandwich effortlessly, quickly and it produces beautiful stitches. I've long said I wanted a bare bones machine that was made for piecing and for quilting and the Juki fills the bill perfectly.

My Janome 7700 is at Janome for servicing so when it comes home I will try it out again. I think it has it's place, especially for tiny detail work like I did in my Lazy Girl quilt although I'm sure that with time and some practice I will be comfortable doing this type of quilting on the Juki.

Detail of filler quilting in Lazy Girl quilt

At this moment the Juki might just be the preferred machine! We'll see how the Janome performs when it comes home. I'll keep you updated on these two machines and the Juki in particular over the next few months!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, June 20, 2014

A new hexagon tote bag

I participated in Lia's Handmades latest Secret Tote Bag Swap. This is the fourth swap she has organized and today I received a bag from my partner Louise. Boy what a lovely surprise I had! Louise made me a Noodlehead 241 Tote! I've made several of these bags for others but I've never made one for myself - now I won't need to make one!

The front and back of the bag are identical. Louise combined Osnaburg with Kaffe prints - so bright and summery! The circles are needle turned and the hexagon is hand quilted. So much work and attention to detail! I just love my new bag!

The bag is lined with a cheery yellow print and there is a pocket which was fussy cut from one of the prints and bound with a lovely blue. You can see there is a clasp for keys that is attached to the pocket. Smart!

But wait, there's more! Louise sent me all the leftover fabrics. She also made me a little pouch from a Michelle Pattern. It is adorable. She also made a little needle keep.

The zipper is set in the pouch beautifully! The little needle keep has a magnetic closure and when you open it up it looks like a flower made of four hearts! I think that this will be a great place to store my sewing machine needles that have been gently used!

But wait, there's even more! When I opened up the pouch there were treats inside!

Louise sent me a package of candy squares and a thimble template. I've had a thimble quilt on my to make list so this might just be the push I need to get started! Ingrid at Supergoof Quilts made a thimble quilt all in reds and I adore it! You can see it here.

Thank you Louise for the lovely bag and wonderful gifts that were tucked inside! You spoiled me rotten (and I liked it)!

Lia will be organizing another tote bag swap and I'll post details when registration opens in case you are interested in participating!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The First Quilt Top on the Juki TL2010Q

I've put together the first quilt top on my Juki and the love affair continues. One of the drawbacks on my Janome 7700 is that the presser foot lever is large and low so when I feed a lot of fabric under the machine I find that the lever catches the fabric. This doesn't happen on the Juki! The sewing area is wide open, front and back, so I have an excellent view of my quilt in front of the needle and behind! So far I am more than happy with my Juki TL2010Q.

I also mentioned in a previous post that the 1/4" foot is narrower than the Janome foot so it doesn't catch my pins.

Angie noticed that I pin parallel to the edge rather than perpendicular and she ask me why I pin in this way. I thought that everyone pins this way!

When I first learned to sew I learned to construct garments and that's how I was taught to pin. I simply transferred those skills to quilting. I can sew a seam without removing pins until I've sewn the entire seam. Pinning this way prevents fabric shifting and I don't have to worry about sewing over pins. In this picture you can see how I pin at the end of the seam. I pin parallel to the seam but at the very end I place one pin perpendicular to the seam because it prevents fabric shifting.

My Mom has been making these Lazy Punk blocks like crazy. I've already quilted one quilt for her and she has made enough blocks for two more quilt tops! This is her second Lazy Punk quilt top that I pieced for her on the Juki. The light is shining though the quilt top so it looks like stained glass! Next time I show it to you it will be sandwiched and ready for some Juki love in the form of quilting!

This is the fabric used in the side setting triangles and that will also be used for the backing.

Mom found it at our local fabric store for $3/m! What a bargain!  It gives the quilt a very fresh, summery look. I think it will be very pretty when quilted!

The inspiration for my Lazy Punk quilt was Jen Kingwell's Steam Punk quilt. The block is based on a pattern that was published in the Kansas City Star (KCS) in 1938. The name of the original block is Air Ship Propeller. There is also another version of this quilt shown in the book Cotton Candy Quilts and it it the block is also named Wagon Wheel. Whether it is Air Ship Propeller, Wagon Wheel or Steam Punk, all are pieced blocks but I decided that it would be much easier to applique the propeller blades and hub cap. I figured out a fast, easy way to make the blades with no thread basting required!

A little bit of glue stick is all it takes to make the blades. I then glued them to the background so that they could be hand or machine appliqued . Because it is so fast, easy and a lazy way to make the blocks I called my quilt Lazy Punk! You can find all of the links about how I made my Lazy Punk quilt under the tab Tips and Tutorials. This is the quilt top I made.

I am eager to try quilting my Mom's quilt on my Juki but I'm not sure what I will do. I'm thinking about a simple allover meander. I've never done that before but one of the quilt shops in the Merchant's Mall at Quilt Canada had this quilt on display.

The shop is called Stitch and the owners describe it as "a sanctuary for knitters, quilters and needle artists".  The shop had a gorgeous display of all sorts of treasures big and small including a Steam Punk quilt shown above. It was quilted with an allover meander design and it looked like a well washed, well loved quilt! Maybe I'll quilt some feathers in the side setting triangles as I did with Mom's last Lazy Punk quilt and then just meander quilt the rest of it! I'll make the decision when I put the quilt under the needle! Before I do that I'll sew together the rest of Mom's blocks. She would like the next quilt top to be a straight set rather than on point. That will be a fast, fun and easy bit of piecing!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H