charity work thursday

i decided that the best way to attack my very important decision to do charity work weekly, was to actually assign a day to do it. i wasn’t sure this week if that would be thursday or friday, but thought the best plan would be thursday in case friday got crazy busy. i was thinking going forward that planning on thursday’s would be my best bet.

last week when i looked at some of my favorite fabric, i decided on the size of the main panel, and cut three, as well as figuring the inner and middle border sizes i wanted to have for the quilts.

today i scouted out the bricks for the middle border, some from my scrap pile and some from my fabric bins, as well as choosing and cutting my inner border. so i cut my border bricks into strips and am now ready to assemble them into the border bricks.

this is what the quilts will look like when finished (for the most part. they will be larger than this, square rather than rectangular).

noahs ark ez breezy

this one above i had quilted with baptist fans, so it looks like rainbows, which i think really is appropriate either way.

i feel so blessed to have the ability to make quilts like this, to do charity work like this. and THAT is why i feel it is SO important to give back to my community.

i didn’t get a charity quilt completed today, but that’s not what i promised myself i would do, so i’m not upset. i’m actually working on 3 at once, so i know it will take some time to get them all done. i did submit significant throught and time to these quilts, so i know i’ve made progress.

and that’s what counts.

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Man down!!! Man down!!!

Woman, in this case. Actually machine but she’s female so there.

I can attest for all of you that this is the saddest moment of my quilting career. My machine bearings need to be fixed. So I can’t quilt on her until she’s sent out and come back to me. 😦

Technically I can quilt because of a very good friend that has offered use of her machine for me to finish my clients quilts, but this feels like losing a friend. I know that ultimately she’ll be ok, even better than she was. But considering that she is vital to my business and my sanity, I think this is a moment to bow our heads.

So to keep myself entertained whilst she sits quietly aside, I have made the conscious decision to finish some UFO’s (un-finished objects). I finished my rag quilt (yes, the one I started 6 months ago).

I finished the 9 patch variation top I was working on at retreat last summer. I don’t like how the middle border looks, but I’m not so dissatisfied that I’ll take it out.

A few months ago I had some time and inclination, so I cut strips and squares and matched fabrics to patterns or photos I saw in magazines. I had just spent more than a few Franklins at the quilt shop, so I figured I’d better get to using all that beautiful, colorful eye candy. Then I got busy quilting and my piles have been awaiting me since. So I started working on those again yesterday as well. I really like how this one is turning out. The border will make it, with some really cool cornerstones.

Not sure what will be next after that… maybe the cats in boxes…

maybe the Halloween quilts (I cut fabric for probably 3 of these):

or the black and red skulls that seem to be so popular…

Maybe more flowers

or this cat fabric

maybe I’ll get to Amy’s cupcake applique pattern (probably not),

or the Tree pattern I got from my mom (with precut strips, you’d think I’d go for the easy first).

Then there is this thing… I really like it because of what it represents. It’s the earth – water and land in a squarish spiral. It includes oil swirling in the water, flames roaring through the forest, flowers and waves. Still needs to be finished.

I started to cut 1″ squares and strips for this Scraps of Life quilt, from work shirt material..

and these are 1.25″ strips of scraps I was going to just sew together in rainbow fashion to see what I ended up with.

These are spare squares for another random patchwork quilt:

oh and then the quilt I was going to make for Amy from this photo… haven’t gotten very far.

Ooooh forgot about these! Dots and hearts:

and these little turquoise blue birds!

I also picked out these fabrics because they looked so good together. Haven’t decided the patterns yet…

shucks, here’s the fairy frost I cut squares and strips for!

ooh, and the fabric and pattern I set aside to make this bag:

so I guess I should just stop panicking and get to work on these. I feel a little overwhelmed now with so many projects to choose from! I think I’ll start with finishing the diamond quilts borders. Happy quilting (or quilt making!) my friends!

THE CUTEST QUILT EVER!

Seriously, this is SO cute!!!!! So here’s the story:

I was working at the shop (Quilt Country) and as always, shopping as I was cutting. What I mean is, customers bring their fabric up to the counter for us to cut. When I unroll the bolt I see what nearly always seems like a new fabric, and 99% of the time I love it! So I buy some of that fabric when we have a lull in activity.

A lady brought up this cute Noah’s Ark fabric, and I knew I had to have some. It was on the sale rack, so I knew it wouldn’t be around long. I cut one yard, and then decided I needed another one. 🙂 Later in the day another woman brought up this greenish fabric with fishes on it. I bought some of that as well, thinking it had to go with the other yardage.

I do make quilts for sale, but when I saw this fabric, I knew it needed to be for baby quilts that would be donated. I decided to use the EZ Breezy Pattern concept, to keep the cute animals on the whole panel intact.

So I found fabrics in my stash that matched the other colors in the quilt and cut them into 2.5″ strips and sewed them together randomly. Based on the panel measurements (I cut each yard in half, then cut off a 5.5″ strip for cornerstones) I cut those sewn-together strips to 5″ lengths. I pinned them to the center panel on the sides and sewed them on. Because I didn’t trim my center panel to an even width and length, I had to trim my bottom strip on each side before sewing on the cornerstones. Then I attached that to the center and VOILA!!!!

The beauty is that I have all my borders (the strips) already made for the other three quilts. I may put an outer border on it; currently it measures 31″ x 39″. Good baby size.

So right now my remaining question is this: Once I finish these quilts, should I give them to the local church? Or should I send one to four different people and ask them to give the quilts away to someone they think is in need? Then I get to share this warm feeling I have inside. What do you think?

How to make a quilt top

Sewing machine – check. Thread – check. Material – check. OK you’re ready!

Seriously that is all it takes. This example is for a random patchwork quilt. If you want to get complicated and paper piece to have precise 24 point stars, go for it. If you want to make a quilt from some pretty pre-cut squares, it is really easy. Really. Easy.

OK, back to easy. If you purchase a sampler pack of squares, or a charm pack, you will be given some number of squares that all match somehow, already cut to one size.

pre-cut pack of squares

To calculate the size of the quilt you will end up with from that bundle, measure one square (let’s say it’s 4.5 inches square), minus .5 inches for seam allowance (each seam requires .25 inch material for seam allowance). Ok so 4″ is your finished square size.

How many squares are there? Let’s say there are 50 squares. So you could make a quilt 7 squares across by 7 long, or 6 across by 8 long. Those options would bring you a 28″ square quilt (# squares times inches per finished square), or a 24″ x 32″ quilt. Might work if you know someone having a baby, but if you want it to cover your lap, you may want to buy 2 of those packs or more (in our example case here). You can always add a border at the end to stretch out your length.

Next step. Take two squares, put the right sides together and match them up so the edges are straight. Sew them together in as straight a line as you are able, with .25 inches seam allowance. There’s a little line on your hopper foot on the sewing machine where you can line that up. Again, keeping it easy. No need to backstitch, the seams will interlock as you go. Now before you go pulling your stitched squares out of the machine and cutting off the thread tail, STOP. Let it sit there, because you’re going to chain sew. Huh?

OK so you sewed a seam. Well, match up another two squares and give your machine pedal a tap to let it have a few ’empty’ stitches and then stick your next set of squares under the foot and sew them together!  You’ll just have a little thread connector between your square sets. As long as your number of squares across is an even number, you can continue to do this step until you run out of squares. When you are done, snip the threads between your square sets and get over to the ironing board.

Yes, you really do have to press the seams. Open, to one side or the other, doesn’t matter. Generally I do it towards the darker material, but just make the seams flat. Once you get through all of your square sets, it’s time to make some more seams!

.25" seam allowance, pressed to one side

Go back to your machine and sew! If you want to sew long rows of squares that match your final length, do it! If you want to sew square blocks of 4 squares and then sew them together, do that instead! Everyone has a method, and everyone has an opinion as to how it SHOULD be done. Do it how YOU want to do it, and you will find the method that works best for you.

Just know that you need to iron your seams flat prior to moving on, and if you have a seam that went wrong and is obviously crooked, pull out the stitches and resew it. You’ll be happy you did. Note in the photo below that the corners of the squares match up. May take you a little practice to get there, but ironing, and watching your seam allowances will most definitely help!

block of squares sewn together

This is really all it takes to make a quilt top. You can add a border of any size or not.