Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun with bargello strips

I have been having so much fun with this Bargello.  Step one was to cut two sets of strips.  Each strip was 2" wide and the full width of fabric.  I then sewed them together.  Hint:  if you sew each strip on in the opposite direction, such as top to bottom, then bottom to top, you are more likely to keep your strip unit straight.  Otherwise it might start to curve like a rainbow.  No bueno.
 I stacked my two units on top of each other to save time.  Here is what I cut:
6--3/4" wide
12--1" wide
12-1 1/4" wide
8--1 1/2" wide
4--1 3/4" wide
 I stacked them all up by size to keep them straight.
 Then I sewed them into loops.  I didn't pin--I felt like that would have been a waste of time.  I stacked each pile on  my leg, lined up the short ends, and chain-sewed all of them.  I left them sewn together by size to make it easier to keep them organized and a little less crazy.
 Then I had to reach into each loop and press the seam allowances toward the dark fabric.  This was only slightly tricky.
 Next was the fun part--removing the seams at strategic locations, and laying out my bargello.  I started from the middle and worked my way out.  It was actually really easy to do.  I'm doing a double bargello, so the top and bottom are mirror images of each other, with one strip right side up, and one strip upside down. 
 Then I sewed the middles together, and joined the ends of every other strip so each would be the same length without having half-rectangles sticking off.  If you look at the very center, narrow strip in the picture above, you can see that it is gray on top and white on the bottom.  Doing this will put half of the white on top and leave the other half on the bottom.
 The ones that I sewed the ends together then had to be cut in half, right through the middle of the "extra" piece.
 Can you believe this thing is a quilt?  My husband says it looks like a mop.  Thanks for being my hand model, hon.
I love chain sewing.  Even though I end up with "mops" like this sometimes, it really helps me stay organized.  This whole thing has every strip in the right order, so all I have to do now is carefully cut them apart and realign them so they match up correctly, then sew all the strips lengthwise and my top will be done.  This has been so fun, I might actually do a larger bargello someday.  It hasn't been scary or intimidating at all.

I'm linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

While I'm waiting...

I'm waiting for my carriage upgrade to come.  I'm hoping it will get here today, especially because the company is in Salt Lake City and not too far away.

In the mean time, I decided what to make for my mini quilt.  I'm not going to go the New York Beauty route this time.  Instead I'm going to do a mini bargello.  I have always wanted to make a bargello quilt.  They are so.... I can't find the right word.  Striking.  But also very intimidating.  The idea of doing a mini is just perfect.  I have a bargello book by Billie Lauder that has been sitting on my shelf for some time, so I pulled it out as a reference.  I'm doing mine with 6 fabrics.
My quilt will be small enough that I only had to cut 2 strips of each color, and 1 1/2 of each would have been fine.  I'm starting with 2" strips this time.  I've had the two black and white prints and the purple for a while--I got them a couple of years ago at my fav quilt shop in Buellton, CA while visiting my husband's grandmother.  I have really liked black and white quilts with an accent color lately, and decided to throw in gray this time too.  I used to hate gray.  Growing up, my sister loved gray and would talk about how beautiful it was.  I would make a face at it and move on with life.  I've changed my mind on that one too.  Some grays are still icky.  Like old heather gray t-shirts.  Not a fan of those.  But some grays are quite beautiful, especially when paired with a bright color. I'm glad I was able to find these at my local quilt shop yesterday.  I'm hoping now that I can get some time to get these strips sewn together today before the carriage upgrade arrives!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I've been trying to do what I can to make my quilting system work really well until I get a longarm.  I got the new Brother (which I love) and today I got a stitch regulator.  I went to hook up the stitch regulator tonight, and it WON'T FIT on my carriage!  I am so frustrated about this.  The carriage I have works just fine--it moves very smoothly and allows me to do what I need to do.  However, it is really important to me to be able to offer the best quality workmanship to my customers.  I wouldn't want to spend hours making a beautiful quilt, pay someone to quilt it, and get it back with wonky stitches.  I'm picky, and I'm sure many of my customers will be too.  I want to be satisfied with my work just as much as I want my customers to be satisfied with my work.  So it looks like I'll be calling the company in the morning and seeing how fast I can get a carriage upgrade.  I'm pretty annoyed about this, but I'm glad I'm getting these kinks worked out. 

On a happier note, I'll be attending HMQS in a couple of weeks and taking a few classes.  One of the classes I'm taking is called "Sew fast, sew precise machine bindings."  I'm intrigued about it.  Good binding takes quite a while, and this method sounds worth learning.  One of the supplies I need to bring is a mini-size quilt that needs binding, which we will do in the class.  I am leaning towards doing one like this by Kati.  Really, look at this link.  It is fabulous.  I may have to do something simpler though, because this is in two weeks and I have some other things to do in the meantime.  If I don't make that this time, I will be doing something like it eventually.  The pattern for this can be found here.

Superhero Cityscape progress

Last night Kyle helped pin and press while I sewed (on my fast new Brother!) and we got the whole top put together.  I'll be adding some appliques so we decided to leave it in two halves for now to make it easier to put those on.  For some reason I didn't realize this, but Kyle said that the day half is going to be Metropolis and the night will be Gotham.  I like it.



This is all straight, long seams, so it went together really fast.  I was glad to have a helper!  In fact, while we were working on it after the kiddos were in bed, I said, "Thanks for helping me," and he said, "No, you're helping me!"  I am enjoying working on this together as a joint project.  Usually it's just me in the sewing room.  I also really like that he designed this.  He drafted up the whole pattern in autocad. 

We're waiting on the fabric for the appliques to get here, and I am starting on Amber's quilt tonight, so stay tuned for updates on this one in the near future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Brother at my house!

No, not that kind of brother.  My new semi-industrial straight stitch quilting machine arrived yesterday, and I am so happy to have it here.
 This is going to be a great addition to  my studio.  I've been having to move my Viking on and off my frame depending on if I was quilting or doing other sewing, and it was just a pain.  This machine also has nine inches of throat space, which is quite an improvement over my Viking!  I'll be able to stitch larger designs with this machine.  I'm still planning on upgrading to a long arm sometime, but I will love having this machine for high speed straight stitching for a long time once I do.

We made progress on the Superhero Quilt last night.  Here is it with the night time buildings:

Complete day/night layout:

What the night part looks like right side up:

This quilt doesn't officially have a right side up or upside down.  It will be reversible.  I can't wait to add the superhero elements into this--The Daily Planet, the Bat Signal, Stark Tower, and maybe even Wonder Woman's invisible plane.

I'm linking today to Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Search is Over

I've been searching for the best batting to supply to my customers for a while now.  I've looked at Hobbs Heirloom 80/20, mostly because that is what everyone seems to offer, and was leaning that direction.  I've decided to take another direction completely.  I discovered a local company that is gaining national recognition and has wonderful products.  It is Winline Textile products.  They have a variety of battings available, and they are all high quality, needle punched with a scrim, and last for a long time.  They have an absolutely wonderful drape, even when densely quilted.  However, because of how it is made, it doesn't need to be densely quilted and will stay put.  This is the batting for me.  I'm currently offering their 80/20 blend, but I can also get their bamboo batting, which is naturally antibacterial and wonderfully soft.

On a personal note, another reason this is a great find is because the company is just a few minutes from my home and I can go pick up what I need without having to pay for and wait for shipping.  They are absolutely wonderful to work with as well. 

They will be at HMQS in Salt Lake City next month.  Check them out if you are there!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Superhero Baby Quilt

I have a quilt from my friend Amber waiting to be quilted, but I am getting a new quilting machine tomorrow (hopefully) so I decided to wait to get it started until that comes.  My new machine will sew faster, more regular stitches, and it has a larger throat space, allowing me to sew larger designs.  I'm really excited about it, and I'm sure I'll post more about it when it comes and I've gotten to use it a little.

In the mean time, Mr. Mills and I decided to start our next project, which is going to be a joint effort.  He designed it and chose the fabrics, and will be very involved in the process.  He is a superhero nut.  He has seven Green Lantern t-shirts.  Maybe eight.  And two Batman, one Superman, and two Flash.  And maybe Captain America.  He has a box with about 70 action figures.  Our three-year old daughter can name more of them than the average American.  I know more about superheroes than most women should... but I digress.  Kyle's cousin Ashley is having a baby in June.  Her husband Jason loves superheroes even more than Kyle does.  They are going all out decorating this little guy's room in superheroes, and it is adorable.  Really, I couldn't think of a better way to do it.  When I saw it several weeks ago I loved it.  And then I noticed the empty crib, and that settled it.  They must have a superhero quilt to go with this room.  I'll reveal details as they come, but this is what we got cut and up on the design wall tonight. 


Sky with a few buildings:

With all buildings:
 This is the top half of the quilt, and there will be several other elements appliqued to it later as well.  I'll be working on Amber's quilt as soon as my new machine comes, so this may sit on the design wall for a few days.

Here is a (fuzzy) picture of the back of the Genome Quilt.  I love the variegated thread. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Human Genome Quilt Complete

This quilt is finished!  I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  Apparently my brain is fried and I can't think of anything to say about it.  For background on the design of this quilt, please see here and here.
 Close up of some of the chromosomes:
 More chromosomes in the top corner.  The variegated thread shows up on all of the fabrics in this quilt, but blends with all of them too.  I think it was a great choice.
It feels really good to have this one done.

I'm linking this post to the Festival of Half Square Triangles.

Skill Building

Thrusday night I went to my first meeting of the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild.  I've known about this group for a while and finally decided it was worth the drive to check it out.  I met some really nice people and I think that it is going to be a great resource and wonderful place to network.  I was looking at the blog that belongs to one of these people and learned about a line of products from Renae Allen called the SkillBuilder Series.  I am really excited to get some of her products and do some serious practicing.  I feel really confident with what I can currently do, but her products will help me increase my skills to include many new patterns and designs, especially feathers.  She lives in Brigham City, which isn't super close but not too far away either, so we're going to drive up there later today to pick up some things.  I'm also getting a new high speed machine with a larger amount of throat space that will allow me to quilt larger designs.  It should arrive by Tuesday.  I am really grateful that things are falling into place for me to become even better at this, because this is what I really want to do.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quilted Chromosomes

This design is based on my clam shell quilting design, so it has been named "Clam shell Chromosome."
 I'm really happy with how they turned out.  This was really fun to do.  Now to finish the binding! 

I got a quilt in the mail today from an old friend, Amber, that I'll be starting on soon.  It is made from her husband's uniforms from Afghanistan.  I'm looking forward to being part of such a meaningful keepsake. 

My husband, the engineer who likes to design his own quilts, and has made 1 1/2,  has designed a super hero quilt for his cousin's baby due in June.  These are some of the fabrics that he picked.  I promise, it really is a superhero quilt.  This one will be awesome. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Genome Quilt--top done!

I'm getting there!  The top is all done and the borders are on.
 My picture is crooked--maybe I stayed up later than I should have sewing this...  The seams are straight.  That is what matters.

I love how this corner looks with the multi-colored pinwheel.

I like this corner too.
To-do list for today: get this baby on the frame and start quilting it, and maybe finish quilting it too. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DNA Strands

I debated calling this post "DNA Splicing" or "Genetic Engineering."

I'm getting all of the pieces together.  The top four rows are completely done, and the rest of the rows are ready to add on.
I should finish the top tonight and get the borders on. 

It has been really helpful that each color is supposed to face a certain way.  It helps me keep things straight and not inadvertently turn something that shouldn't be turned.

The quilting thread came in the mail yesterday and it looks perfect.  I love Superior Threads.

I also got my business cards in the mail yesterday!  We went to buy some fabric for a superhero baby quilt for my husband's cousin and I was able to hand some out.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Half-square triangle pillow

This project was finished a couple of months ago, but I thought I'd talk a little about it today. 

I'm a licensed FACS teacher (formerly known as Home Ec) and taught up through last year.  Baby #2 was born ten days before school got out.  It was good timing.  At our summer conference 2 or 3 years ago I made a black and white quilt top using half square triangles with a red border.  One of the ladies there looked at it and said, "Please quilt that with red thread."  I thought it was a great idea.  I still haven't finished that quilt--it is on my UFO list, but I made this pillow to match.  It has the same fabrics, although in a different layout.  I LOVE this quilt and have wanted to make one like it some day, and some day I will, but decided this would do in the mean time.  I used red thread, of course, and I love how it turned out.  I love the hand-made binding as well.  It adds a nice touch.
Hopefully I'll be able to finish my current half-square triangles project this week.

You can see some other fun HST projects here:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Up on the Wall

Tonight the quilt is up on my design wall. 

It was kind of a daunting task to get it all up there without any accidental mutations (sorry, I couldn't resist the joke) so my husband came up with the brilliant idea to assign each kind of half-square triangles a number, 1-4, and write down each row, 4 1 3 2 etc., to get it all in the right order.  I laid my HST piles on my ironing board, with each color facing the right direction, and he read off the numbers and made sure I grabbed them from the right pile.  Together we got the whole thing up in the right order in about fifteen minutes.  No wonder his nickname at work is "Captain Efficiency."

The quilt will have a dark green border, back, and binding.  I'll be quilting it in variegated thread to pull all the colors together.  I'm really excited about the quilting pattern---it is going to look like chromosomes.  This is totally bringing out my inner geek.

Just FYI, here is what each color/directional HST represents:
Orange: A (adenine)
Yellow: C (cytosine)
Red: T (thymine)
Brown: G (guanine)

Squaring Up

I trimmed all of my HST's...
and this is the pile of scraps I got.  They look fantastic, but I'm wondering if it is all worth it.  It took almost three hours to square up all 96 of these babies.  I've never done something with so many of these before that I squared up before using in a quilt, and it really took forever.  I'm thinking about trying this method some time, but I'm not sure if I'll get the accuracy I want.  Either way, these are done, and ready to start arranging on the design wall.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mini Genome Quilt, part 1

When I decided to start this business I didn't plan on actually making entire quilts for other people.  I think it's kind of funny that I'm starting out this way.  This quilt is based on Beverly St. Clair's Genome Quilts.  The whole idea is that half square triangles, depending on how they are arranged, represent the different markers in DNA: A, C, G, and T.  The quilt then puts the HST's in the order of the human genome.

My neighbor is planning a photo shoot symbolizing being comfortable (or not) in your own particular genome, and designed this quilt to be used in the photo shoot.  It will have the first 96 markers, rather than an entire person's genetic code.  Apparently the first 96 are the same for everyone anyway.  He brought over these fabrics for me today.

 I have worked very little with solids in the past, so this is going to be fun.  I used to think that a quilt made with solid fabrics was boring, and that you should at least use tone-on-tone fabrics rather than solids.  I've seen many examples online lately of stunning quilts made entirely with solids, so my mind is changing about that.

Because this whole thing it made of HST's, I wanted to think of a quicker way to do them.  I knew I would trim them down to square them up anyway (does anyone else have problems with the edges going wonky when you press these?) so I did mine bigger than needed. 
Rather than cutting squares, marking the diagonal, and sewing 1/4" on both sides, I cut strips (mine were 4 3/4") and marked a 45 degree line, then continued making 90 degree lines from that line all the way across my strip.  A few pins to keep it all together, times seven strips in varying colors, and I was ready to sew.
It was really easy to sew on each side of the diagonal lines all the way down the strip and back.  The background is all Kona Khaki, so I used a khaki thread for all of these.
I cut them all into squares, then into triangles.  Now they are ready to press and square up.  That will be tonight's to-do list when my kiddos are in bed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Finished Easter Dress

Saturday was jam-packed with stuff to get done, so I didn't get a chance to get back to this dress until 9:30 pm.  I sewed until 1:07 am, then got up at 6:30 to make rolls for a family Easter brunch, and finished the last of the seams while the dough was rising and they were baking, finishing the whole thing about half an hour before we left for my sister-in-law's house. 

Easter Dress, 2012

Looking for eggs

Back view
My daughter loves her new dress.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.

In other news, I've been asked to do a commissioned quilt based on the human genome.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I'll be getting the materials from my client on Wednesday and I'll post progress of that project as it happens.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Dress in Progress

I bought this fabric at my favorite quilt shop over a year ago.  This is the cutest little place and the owners are just fabulous.  We see them only once a year when we're in California visiting my husband's grandmother, and they always remember us.  We love it.  I think it's the owners that make it our favorite.  We even stopped there once on our way into town before we even saw Grandma! (Don't tell her, please.)

So who knew snails could be so cute? 

 I finally decided on how to mix all of these fabrics together for the perfect dress for my munchkin.  It's been cut out for a couple of weeks, and all the french seams have been done on the sides, and then it sat for a while.  Now Easter is tomorrow and I have a busy day ahead of me.

 I didn't have enough fabric for the sleeves, and found this purple one in my stash.  I think it is perfect, and I just BARELY had enough of it.  I literally had less than half an inch left on all sides once they were cut out.
 Here's the bodice, skirt, underskirt, ties, and ruffles, all ready to be hemmed, gathered up, and sewn together. 
 I got the edges turned on the ties last night.
I hope I have time to get this done so my munchkin can wear it tomorrow!
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