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The Quilting Stage Has Begun

by Steve Tippets on 10/20/17

The past few weeks I have tried to enjoy the journey, but I will admit I've spent a lot of time focusing on starting the steps this week. I've been simultaneously nervous and excited to have the top sheet fully assembled so I could begin the quilting phase. 

The assembly went pretty smoothly, other than the fact that I could tell each row didn't line up perfectly. 



My first attempt at assembling these two rows together did not go well. I didn't line the green square in the middle very well and it drove me nuts so I had to take the time to rip the seam and go again. I didn't get a picture of it all crooked, but trust me, it looked awful. 

Once they were completely assembled I had to baste. I will admit that when I read the word baste in the instructions and I had no idea what it meant. I had to spend some time on Google to figure out it just meant layering the bottom, batting, and top sheet together. There are two main methods people use, but I didn't know that going in so I didn't have the spray all ready to go. Naturally, I went the pin route, but I used T pins because I don't have the basting pins. I may have to get some because it is no fun to get poked while handling the quilt. 

I definitely need some guidance here. Do any of you have any strong opinions on basting? 

 

I tried to keep the pins two and a half to three inches apart. The batting I used was just what I had on hand from a non-quilt related project I did last year and it said to quilt within five inches. I figured it is better to over pin than not have enough pins. 

Please let me know if you think I should do something differently next time.

Once that was done it was time to start quilting. I'm struggling with this a bit. Mainly because I wasn't sure of the best route to go. The instructions said to 'stitch in the ditch' but the lines weren't straight so if I followed the ditch the line would zig zag all over the place. It would be hidden, but the back would look weird. I also knew that if I kept the line straight that it wouldn't follow the ditch at all and could possibly make the front look weird, which would ruin all the work I've put in. 

Ultimately I decided to go with a straight line. I'm halfway done and I'm not sure how I feel about how it's turning out. 

On the bright side, the lines are straight. I used my Ideal Seam Guide to stitch. It made keeping a straight line so much easier. In order to make it work I had to put the guide on the fabric itself and not the machine, but I love that it's possible to do that. 



Using the guide makes the process take a little longer, but I think it's worth the time to use it.



I didn't want to post the picture of my quilting job. I like having the straight lines, but I hate that some of those lines don't go through the corners. The overall effect is pleasing to the eye, but if you look too closely it's a little cringeworthy. 

There is one line that didn't end up very straight. My guide had gotten pretty linty and needed to be cleaned but I didn't realize how linty it was until I was committed. I had to stop using the guide and eyeball it. It didn't go well.  



It is a nice visual to show just how helpful the guide was for me. The back is the best indicator on how straight the lines are. There is an optical illusion of wavy lines because of the blue pattern, but they are straight.



The back is also the part that makes me glad I chose to go straight rather than sewing in the ditch. I'm still not sure I made the right decision, but the back is satisfying to look at. 

I just hope I am happy with the finished product once I'm done. That is the goal. 

It's Looking Like A Quilt

by Steve Tippets on 10/13/17

When I left off last week I still had a ton of squares to sew together but I was able to finish sewing them over the weekend. The picture doesn't do justice to each little stack. 


 

This week I've been focusing on sewing them into the four main blocks of the quilt. The first step was sewing four of these little squares into one larger square. I ended up with two different block patterns. 



The red and green had fewer seams in the back due to the solid green square that was used, but pressing as I went kept them both from being bulky in the back. 



Once those squares were complete I combined four more into an even larger block so I ended up with four large blocks in all. I know this is my first project so I can't expect it to be perfect, but there was definitely some trial and error on my part. 

The first large block I put together wasn't lined up properly. I had pinned it together like the instructions said, but I felt like it gathered it too much. I think I pinned it wrong. Any advice on the best way to pin two pieces together? Do the pins need to run horizontally or vertically? I had them running vertically next to the presser foot. Should I have done them horizontally instead? Or maybe it was just gathered when I pinned it so I accidentally held the gathering in place. I'm not sure. 

This is what I ended up with.



I hadn't pressed it yet because I was really bothered by how not centered it was. I will admit I did spend the time with my seam ripper to undo it all and try again. The second go was better. I didn't pin it the second time, which helped. I definitely think I'm pinning wrong. 

Here is the square the second time around.



It still isn't perfectly aligned, but I blame that on the fact that I forgot to square up the smaller squares before I sewed them together. That wasn't listed in the instructions, but I know it would have helped. 

Of the four larger squares I did, three have more noticeable errors than one of them. I know those people who aren't familiar with quilting will look at them and think they look great, but anyone who knows what it's all about will see the errors. Still, for a first run I'm pretty proud. 

I wanted to show the one square that had the least amount of issues. 



It still needs to be squared up a bit, but otherwise I'm pretty pleased. And I will be squaring them up before I put them all together. 

This week I also experienced my first empty bobbin. I will admit I had not taken the time to fill extra bobbins. I didn't think it would be a big deal to wind them as needed, but I did not realize that I would have to un-thread my sewing machine in order to use the thread I needed in the bobbin function. Oops. 

On the bright side, I now know that I am able to wind a bobbin AND thread the machine without looking it up in the manual. I was pleasantly surprised by that, but after feeling a bit like a failure with the pinning I needed the win. 

My First Project

by Steve Tippets on 10/06/17


I've been eager to get started on an actual project. Practicing is helpful and I've learned so much, but you can only sew so many strips before it gets monotonous and starts to feel pointless with no end game in mind. 

I had planned on starting with something relatively 'simple' like a table runner, which I will do, but for now I have decided to start with this mini quilt kit instead. I was at Jo-Ann's looking at thread and I saw all of these kits for mini quilts and I just had to get one. I love the idea of doing something on such a small scale and learning how to do everything, including the binding at the end. 

I've also always loved having directions to follow. I'm hoping one day I'll feel confident enough to design my own pattern, but for now I will gladly let someone else take the creative liberty.

These little kits come with a complete set of instructions, a list of all the tools you'll need, and all of the material you need. The trick is making sure you read all of the instructions before you start so you don't get ahead of yourself and do something that you weren't supposed to do. 

For example, this kit specifically says not to wash the material before cutting it. I know that goes against the general rule for quilting, but I'm going to do what it says and hope for the best. They do include instructions on what to do if the material bleeds when you finally do wash the finished product. I'm hoping those directions won't be necessary. 

I had to press the material before I could cut it. It's in the instructions but also just plain necessary as it was all folded up in the packaging and had some pretty significant creases. 

Cutting the material was interesting, but not difficult. It took time to make sure I got the edges straight and that I was getting the correct measurements but I did it. 


I ended up with sixteen 2 1/2" squares, forty-eight 3" squares, one 1 1/2" square, four 1 1/2" x 8 1/2" strips, and three 2 1/2" x 42" strips. 

Sewing the squares together has been very satisfying. I know there are many different techniques that are available for sewing on the bias, but I must say I really like the tip the kit had me use. 

I had to draw a diagonal line down the wrong side of the white squares and then place that on top of the blue square. I then proceeded to sew a 1/4" seam on either side of the line. 



Once that was done, I just had to cut the line I had previous drawn and then press the seam towards the darker material. I know that part is pretty standard. 

Once it was pressed I just had to trim it down to a now 2 1/2" square. 



Not to toot my own horn, but look at those corners! Have you ever seen two pieces come together in such a perfect point before?? 

Okay, I'm sure you have, but this is my first time sewing on the bias and I must say, I rocked it. 

So far I have completed sixteen squares, which means I have thirty-two more to go! I know what I'll be doing the next couple of days. 

What other tricks do you have for sewing on the bias? Is this a method you use or would you recommend I try something else in the future? I know I'm a fan, but that doesn't mean there isn't another technique out there I'd like even more. I want to learn them all.