Saturday, August 1, 2015

Second Quilt for Me Since 198?

I'm becoming more and more interested in quilting  since taking a quilt class with Shirley at Shirley's Stoney Creek.  I've been sewing for years, ever since my Home Ec teacher made me, but I never really delved into making quilts until now.  I've sewn clothes, gowns, bags, gifts, alterations and much more.

The first quilt I can remember making was a blue hued trip around the world that was tied. I made it on a machine in my parents basement as a kind of wedding gift to myself and husband. I can still picture it on our bed in our first apartment. I really wish I had taken photos of it because I unfortunately lost it to Irene 4 years ago.  The events around the hurricane and flood of Irene made me realize I shouldn't put off the things I really want to accomplish, and one of those things was quilting.

Although it is 4 years later, this Aug. 28, I haven't completed many quilts. I also realized I needed a block of uninterrupted time to sew the quilts.  I started the Daisy Blue quilt and the Garden of Dreams quilt which is this post's feature. However, I didn't finish the Daisy Blue or the work on the Garden of Dreams until I signed up for the class this past winter. Each Saturday, my future niece in-law, and I would go to Shirley's and sew for 3 hours for 7 weeks. It was great and I'll do it again this winter.

The quilt is named Garden of Dreams after the fabric of the same name by Kona Bay Fabrics. I purchased it at one of my favorite shops: Portsmouth Fabric Company in New Hampshire. I enjoy shopping online, but this is a store I would much rather go to. There is a second pac of fabric, but not sure who the designer is. It did come from the same store and was a great compliment. If you are ever  on I 95 in southern ME or near Portsmouth, it is worth a trip into the historic city to this shop. Just look at those colors!

The quilt pattern is called Cheaper by the Dozen by Legacy Patterns. I will use this pattern again and again. I also have a second brand new pattern for sale here. 

I began this quilt by cutting the size the pattern requested in 2013. 
I even sewed the blocks together in 2013. 
Once we started at Shirley's, the quilt top went together easily.
Here is the initial border of the blocks.
Always, always, always pre wash your quilt fabrics.  I ordered many inches more than I needed for the quilt back, but it still shrunk almost 6 inches!  I had to add some of the quilt top left overs to get the length I needed for the back. I do like it though. 
No comes the difficult part: making the quilt sandwich. I did this three times. I just couldn't stretch the back tight enough by laying it on a big table or on my largest surface: my bed.  So here was my solution for the third time. I had my husband bring upstairs from the cellar our foldable table.  I marked the center of it with a Sharpie.  I then taped a button to the mark on the middle of the table. 

I folded the top, batting and backing in half, then in half again and marked the middle.  I layered each and put the middle of each on the button. This was my starting point for stretching the materials.
I went to our local hardware store, and purchased six clamps. As I stretched each layer I clamped them so they would stay. 

Pinning, and lots of them is very important. I used long quilting pins for this project. Although, I received to may quilt wounds from these.

The next step was the machine quilting. I set my station up on the dining room table. My tiny space in my office/craft room is just not big enough for this project.  My husband and I joke around whenever he sees me bringing out the machine, it means I'm going to be involved in quilt class for a few hours. 
I quilted 1/4 inch away from each seam of the pieces.

For the first time machine quilting this large of a quilt, it didn't come out too bad; however, I did use the seam ripper and made many corrections. Light colored, solid fabric will not be a backing option for me ever again.  Now onto the binding.

When all was done, I was pretty happy with the results.  As I look at the BIG  pictures of the quilt there are a few things I would do differently next time. Check out the lessons learning at the end of the blog. 
I'm not the best a making quilt labels. I know I like the embroidered ones that go in the corner of the quilt more so than the hand written (I'm afraid of the ink even though I purchased the ones especially for this purpose), the hand embroidered ones (I'm not going to hand quilt or hand bind so I definitely am not going to hand embroider letters), or the inkjet transfers.   I had an embroidery attachment for my machine, but it was a pain to attach and disassemble each time I wanted to embroider. I sold that on Ebay and bought a separate machine; a Brother PE770. I'm getting the hang of it with more and more practice. Hopefully you'll see some creative labels on upcoming quilts. 

Lessons Learned: 

1. Quilt tops are the fun part. I also like binding.  Stretching the backing and pinning to the batting and top is tedious. I hope I've found a solution with the table and clamps.
2. A light colored, solid backing is very unforgiving. I will NEVER use a solid back on a quilt again.
3. The light blocks bother me. Next time I'll keep the color values about the same and do away with the starkness of the off white.
4. I think I would rather have the blue border as the outside border and the green, the inside border.

All in all, I am pretty pleased with this quilt. I even used it one chilly night. It's very comfy.

What are some of your lessons you learned from your first quilts? I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks for stopping by One Twenty Seven.

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Katie V said...

Oh yay!!! This came out great! Love the color combo and the pattern used. I hear ya on the backing, patterned fabrics seem to be a little easier to work with although I do love that strip you have going through it. PS: Your step by step pictures of your progress were wonderful to check out. Thanks for sharing.

Tracy said...

Thank you so much for your compliments, Katie. I do like the strip pattern on the back too, but I think that could be worked into a patterned fabric for the back. I'm working on that on my next quilt. I like the color combo too; it seems very relaxing to me.
Thanks for commenting, Katie. Looking forward to hearing from you again soon.

Jen said...

Hi I like all the fabrics you chose. The hardest thing I had to learn was good cutting skills with my rotary cutter. It took me a lot of practice at the beginning, especially being left-handed. All of my instructors were right handed... Thanks for sharing.

Tracy said...

Hi Jen, There are some tools out there that make rotary cutting easier. I use the Gypsy Gripper. It's a handle that suctions on to your clear ruler. It comes in many sizes; I have 3 of them. It makes cutting much easier (for me anyway).
Thanks for your comments. By the way, I just love your site and projects you've done. They all remind me of my love for the water. We visit southern Maine each summer. There's just something about the water. I'd love to have a sewing studio by the water.

Zenia Rene said...

This is a beautiful finish and I really like the contrast the off-white/cream colored blocks give to the quilt. Ouch!! To your pin basting w/straight pins! You definitely want to try safety pins next time. 😏

Tracy said...

Hi Zenia,
I have tried the bent safety pins and my fingers hurt so. I'm caught between a rock and a hard place I guess. Although I have seen little foam end caps that can go on the long straight pins. I'll give them a try and if they don't work, I'm definitely going back to the safety pins. :) Thanks for your compliments and for visiting One Twenty Seven.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making our Kona Bay Fabrics come alive:)

Tracy said...

Kona Bay fabrics have quickly become some of my favorites. You can definitely tell the excellent quality by the feel and color. Thanks for visiting Kona Bay.