Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Quilting Tutorial in the Rose Garden

I'm writing a blog about quilting...just because...someone asked me to help them with a quilt, then several others chimed in and once this makes Facebook and the sewing forum I participate in I expect more may be interested.   This is my most recent quilt.  It is called Frosty Morn (more appropriate for a lead in to this blog on this wintery evening).  Frosty Morn is designed by Darlene Zimmerman.  Darlene is a very interesting woman and is better known as the Feedsack Lady.  Frosty Morn is in the the book from Lavender Hill Farms.   I have attended workshops and lectures given by Darlene.  Some of the other workshops and lectures I have attended have been given by by Pat Speth of Nickel Quilts; Marianne and Liz of Fons & Porter; Judy Martin, the lady who designs and publishes so much with Log Cabins.  Another evening, you will see my Log Cabin; Marsha McCloskey with Feathered Stars.  So what I will be sharing with you are just little gleanings floating around in my brain. 

Let me show you a picture....It is from the magazine Easy Quilts by Fons & Porter, Summer 2009. The quilt is designed by Jodie Davis.  This will help you understand how simple quilting can be, if you only think in terms of segments.  A few slices of the scissors and joining and sewing some fabric together and you can create stars out of what was once simply a square.  Sound exciting? 

This beautiful quilt is just made with squares and half square triangles.  After you make this first quilt, you will know how to make squares and half square triangles....  I really like this magazine for all level of quilters; but particularly for the first time quilters.    I also like the book Fons and Porter Complete Guide to Quilting.  If that is the only book I could have for a resource...that would be it.  Having said that...Darlene Zimmerman tells us many useful things in her Quilts from Lavender Hill Farm--as she probably does in her other books as well.  Judy Martin's Ultimate Rotary Cutting Reference book is tops...and I gain a lot from her other books too.    TV and you-tubes are good to use as a resource.  A new one that I have learned about on you-tube is Jenny Doane of Missouri Star Quilters.  (I'll be going to her workshop at Okoboji in March).  I would recommend checking out your public television stations for their quilting and sewing shows.  Most are excellent.   And, you can google Alex Anderson for her show on the computer.  
Tools:  For cutting you need 1) a self healing cutting mat.  Get one at least 18" x 24".  It is a nice size and will handle that 42 inch wide fabric folded in half-from selvedge to selvedge. I like the grid lines on mine...however, many do not and turn the board over and cut on that side.   2) Rotary cutter: a nice medium sized  ergonomic one is nice and  handles most jobs you want to do.  Perhaps when you become more skilled you will want a smaller one to cut curves...but don't worry about that now.   3) A long wide rotary ruler.  Mine has a lip on one short end to hang tight to the cutting board, and helps the ruler stay in its place.  Some of the rulers are made with little grooves on the wrong side--this keeps it from slipping around on the fabric.  Or you can buy little round felt sticky grippers to put on the bottom...or simply glue on strips of sandpaper.

Let me stray from the tool list now...just to talk about the rotary cutting tools.  Blades are expensive; keep pins and needles and other stray objects off of your cutting mat...or else they may jump into the path of the blade.  And, remember, extreme caution with your rotary cutter.  I always try to remember to put the safety lock on when I'm not actually cutting with it.  (I don't mean after I'm all done cutting- mean every time I lay down my cutter.)  Those blades are very very sharp...and do keep the pets and small children away from the Rotary Cutter.  When you are cutting, keep your fingers out of the path of the blade.  And, cut away from your body.  When I use the cutter and ruler...I am right handed so I like the ruler to the left side of the blade.  But, do what ever is comfortable for you.  There are situations where you might do the reverse for a moment. 

Be kind to you cutting mat...Store your mat flat; do not bend it, roll it, or store it in a stack of junk.  It isn't pretty when you bring it out.  Periodically use a nylon net scrubby on it to get all the lint and junk off of it.  And, please at least once a year if not oftener...give it a nice bubbly bath in your tub.  Yes, just dish soap and a little warm water and let it soak for a while.  After the workout and being sliced all the time, it well deserves some coddling!  :-))

Be kind to your ruler; it is made of a very nice acrylic that can chip if dropped on a concrete floor.  Don't ask??? 

Other tools
  •  A good pair of sharp scissors.  I use the same ones I use for other sewing.
  • Fine pins and pincushion
  • A 5" square acrylic ruler with the grippers
  • Another square ruler I find invaluable is a 10 or 12" square ruler for squaring up your blocks.  For now the 5" ruler is all you need.
  • An iron; essential item  (a small one is nice, and I don't use the steam)
  • Thread...no more than a 50 weight thread, and I like to use bobbin thread  in the bobbin.  The less thread space the more accurate your seams will be. 
  • A marking pencil that comes out with heat or a spritz of water.
  • One more ruler, just a short school type ruler.

And, last but very not least, is a seam ripper...practice using it alot.  And, if you have the choice or a birthday coming up...get one with that rubber end on it...great for picking up those threads.  Yes, I use it alot!!

Of course, you say...what will I make. I would suggest a simple quilt with a block in the center...or at the top...or placed off to the side. We will call that block your feature fabric, then we will do borders that work well with your feature fabric and make pinwheels, square blocks, half-square triangles, flying geese, and whatever else I may dream up before we are finished. Once you have mastered these, you will be ready to go.  

 Don't let me scare you...You would use your little square of focus fabric in the center...then we will develop borders on each side.  We won't do the blocks shown in this picture...instead we will do the ones I talked about before.    That center focus fabric could be a fabric with wildlife; big splashy flowers; a bright print with fish or puppydogs; or the one with all sorts of balls; as well as purses and high heels, or fairies.    Or if you want, you could embroider or applique something on a fabric.
Or, you could use several strips of your focus fabric and place rows of our quilted blocks in between.  This is a really poor example.  But, I could not find a pic of any of the baby quilts or laprobes I have done that way...only my DH's train quilt.  Shhhhh...don't tell him...it is a Christmas Gift when I get it finished.

 This is a patriotic panel quilt, and I used a log cabin and half square triangle on the borders of it.
This is a winter scene as the focus fabric, with pin wheels, snowballs, and 9-patch blocks used in the borders.  I love pinwheels.  Especially in childrens quilt.  They just give such motion to a quilt, don't you think.
SORRY DON"T KNOW HOW I GOT EXTRAS, and can't figure out how to delete them...

 So, now...your assignment is to select your focus fabric and several fabrics that blend well.  When selecting your matching fabric, remember we want a variety--small, medium sized prints.  Some darks, some mediums, and some light colored fabrics.  Do the eye squint to see how they look together.   I would also use all the same weight fabrics.  Don't mix a denim or corduroy in with your cottons. 

So you will want a  the focus fabric, and scraps of other fabrics. 

Focus fabric:
Cut 1 - 14 1/2" square of your focus fabric....unless you want it to run border to border...as in the train.  Then you will just want to figure out what each strip needs to be according to the repeat of the design.

Dark fabric:
cut 2 - 1 3/4" strips for frame of focus square.(1st border)

Medium fabric: 
cut 6 - 3" strips x width of fabric strips for 5th and 7th borders  (if you are using stash you may cut 4 strips of one color and two of another color

Light fabric:
Cut 4 - 2 1/2" strips x width of fabric fabric for flying geese squares.  These will be cut into 2 1/2" squares.

Cut 4 - 4" strips for a 3rd border

Scrappy fabric:  Light, medium, and dark fabrics
Cut 22 - 2" squares for second border

Scrappy fabric will be used for the flying geese...you may need as many as 60 - 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles (dependent on size of your quilt at that point).

5" squares for half square triangles (fourth border) and for pinwheels (final border).  5" strips of various fabrics.  Some light, dark, and medium colors.

Preparing the fabric:  I like to spray starch my fabric and press one last time before any cutting.  (I don't like to steam or spray the small strips of fabrics that you see.  They tend to distort very easily when you are pressing.  Do cut the selvedges off, and square up your fabric...checking right angles with your ruler (I lay the short end of the ruler on the fold, and trim off anything that isn't running even with the long side of the ruler.)  Likewise, when you cut your strips, please square up that short side. 

You may go ahead and cut that nice square of focus fabric; and the dark strips for the second border.
You may also cut the 2 inch squares.  Please do not cut any other pieces yet.

When cutting, be sure to hold the ruler in place by inching your left hand up the ruler as you cut.   After you cut the strips...it is easiest if you just place your ruler at the left end of your strip, and square up that end.  Then, by moving your ruler across at multiples of 2 inches cut each block.  You don't pick up a thing, or move any fabric until finished with that strip.  Leave your fabric doubled, and you may stack your fabric before cutting.  (You may not want to cut the entire lenght so you have more colors)  If you are cutting just little pieces of fabric...go ahead and square up by using the 5" square....I use masking tape taped to the appropriate line to see an easy measure.

Good luck with your cutting...do not sew anything...special tip from my friend Darlene Zimmerman for seams.

Remember to cut carefully and accurately.   The cutting and the sewing is very important so the blocks don't go wonky.  

I plan to be back tomorrow with the second step (the sewing). 




everythingsewing said...

OK, it is going to take me a while to get everything together, thank you for your help.

Country Girl said...

I used to quilt a long long time ago but nothing as elaborate as a full length quilt. I was mainly into pillows and learned so many cool things in a quilting class. Beautiful work here.

Rosieq said...

Thank you for your kind comment, Country Girl. Welcome to my blog.