Thursday, April 17, 2014

Windham Fabrics Mini Quilt Challenge

A few days ago I saw on Instagram that Windham was hosting this mini quilt challenge.  I saw their post right after it was made so I was able to comment quickly and was chosen to participate. They sent me a package of fabric with the agreement that I would make an 18" square mini quilt for their quilt market booth.

The most exciting thing was that I had no idea what fabric they were going to send me.  I would be lying if I said that I wasn't hoping for the Far Far Away reprint, but when I opened the package I found prints from French Bull's collections African Surf and Mosaica.

I was a little nervous because they sent a pretty limited amount of fabric so there was no room for mistakes and I couldn't really change my mind if I didn't like my first attempt.
Windham mini quilt challenge
I ended up using my own striped chevrons tutorial but I changed the number of strips, the width and height, and the angle that I cut the strips, ha ha.  I have a hard time doing the same thing the same way.

Then I took a flower from 3 different colorways of the same print and appliqu├ęd them onto the front of the quilt.  I finished it off with the striped binding.

Overall I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  But I think the really exciting thing about participating in something like this is seeing what other people make, so I can't wait to see the Quilt Market photos of the Windham booth.

Monday, April 14, 2014

pretty penny patch baby quilt

Generally I don't gravitate toward sweet, pretty fabrics, but I am smitten with this Palos Verde print.  It is amazing.  Since I have a friend who is about to have a baby girl after having two superhero-loving boys, I thought this sweet, pretty print would be perfect.
pretty penny patch baby quilt
The pattern is Rachel's Penny Patch pattern which is so quick and easy and sweet and would be great for a beginner and still a satisfying project for a non-beginner.

Since these colors are a little out of my comfort zone I was afraid that I wouldn't have much to coordinate, but thank goodness for Pearl Bracelets  and Kona cotton.  But working with unfamiliar colors was hard!
pretty penny patch baby quilt
The Palos Verde print is voile and this is this the first time I have used voile in a quilt with regular quilting cottons, but I didn't have any problems and it is nice and soft.

I almost splurged on another Palos Verde print for the back, but then I found this Hello Pilgrim print in my hoard stash.  The binding is the gorgeous Lecien color basic stripes which I don't think is made anymore, but if anyone knows where I can find more of this let me know! I am almost out.  
pretty penny patch baby quilt
This one will go to its new home at a baby shower later this week.  It has been so fun to make new friends here in San Diego and be able to share quilts with them.  

Fabrics used in this quilt that are still readily available:
Palos Verde Lunada Bay, here or here
Pearl Bracelet in Juniper, here 
Kona Cotton (I am not 100% positive, but I think this was Primrose and Camellia)
Littlest Simply Simple Silver, here or here
Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Stone
Le Creme Swiss Dots, here

Friday, April 11, 2014

Farmer's Wife Blocks 31-35 and DGS Blocks

I can see why a lot of people burn out on the Farmer's Wife blocks at this point.  Though I really to keep going, I'm feeling a little burned out.  Part of it is that I am trying to use scraps and it takes entirely too long to dig through my scraps to find fabrics each time so I may start cutting more from yardage. All of these came from scraps except the girl doing the handstand.
Farmer's Wife blocks 31-35
This month for do. Good Stitches Kirsten asked us to make courthouse steps blocks using this tutorial in spring colors.  This was my first time making these blocks and they were fun.  And now I really want to start a project using some of these colors.
do good stitches wish circle April - courthouse steps

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Go Cougars! BYU Pixel Quilt (with tutorial)

I spent the weekend finishing this one up and delivered it to my friend yesterday evening.  They are big BYU fans and seemed really excited about the quilt, which is always a satisfying feeling.  I am also a BYU alum (class of 2006, BS in biology) so I may have to shrink the blocks down a little and make myself a wall hanging version at some point.
BYU Pixel Quilt
I kept the binding and quilting really simple and used this fun Summersville print for the backing.  Originally I rummaged through my stash to try to find a blue print for the back, but when I didn't find one I realized that I liked this print for the backing even better.
BYU Pixel quilt backing
A few people commented that they were interested in making their own version so I thought I'd give a very quick, simple, pictureless tutorial. For the layout I found this cross stitch pattern.  I got the idea from Svetlana's gorgeous Pinkie Pie quilt and a quick Google search saved me the trouble of figuring it out myself.

There are 39 different fabrics used in the quilt top and I think that the variety helps the quilt be a little more fun.
Fabric requirements:
1 2/3 yard various blue prints and solids (the more variety the better)
1 1/4 yard various low volume fabric
3/8 yard for binding
1 3/4 yard of 44" wide fabric for backing

1. Cut (24) 2.5" strips of various blue fabrics.  Subcut into (372) 2.5" squares.
2. Cut (15) 2.5" strips of low volume fabrics.  Subcut into (237) 2.5" squares.
3. Arrange the low volume squares like light blue squares in the cross stitch pattern and then surround with the blue squares.  The quilt will be 21 squares x 29 squares.
4. Sew together the rows and then the columns.
5.  Baste, quilt, and bind as desired. 

The finished size is 42" x 58"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Using Flannel as Quilt Backing - Tips and Fabric Options

When I first started quilting I made a big, giant quilt and backed it with (what I thought was) warm, snuggly flannel.  I had pre-washed the fabric, but after a couple more runs through the washing machine the flannel became much less snuggly and more scratchy.

Since then I have used flannel to back a few quilts (see here and here) with wonderful results, but I am always nervous.  A few weeks ago I contacted every fabric manufacturer that I could think of and asked if they would send me some flannel so that I could test and compare the results. I also purchased a yard of Joann's flannel in order to compare quality with inexpensive flannel. I received fabric from the following manufacturers.
In order to compare the fabrics I first cut 2 pieces of each print and then washed and dried the flannel and measured the shrinkage.  I then cut two 10" squares from each print and sewed them together to enclose the raw edges so that I could test how the fabric held up to repeated washing.  Each of them was included in every load of laundry that I washed and dried this week (6 loads total).

Before I get to the details, here are a few tips about working with flannel.  Other than adding some bulk to the quilt, I have not found flannel to be more difficult to work with than regular quilting cottons but these tips should help if you do have trouble.
  • Always prewash flannel
    • If you need to piece together flannel for the quilt back, use a 1/2" seam allowance to account for extra fraying
    • Flannel is very linty - clean out your machine frequently
    • Quilt with a walking foot
    • Use a fairly thin batting since flannel will add more bulk to your quilt than quilting cotton
    • If you have trouble with the flannel stretching, use spray starch

    ***Please ignore any variation in color, I had trouble getting the color balance correct for some of the photos but there was no significant fading or change in color for any of the fabrics.
    Weight: 4.5 oz
    Shrinkage: 2% length, 9 % width
    The Cloud9 flannel (which is made with organic cotton) was the sturdiest feeling flannel that I tested and very soft pre-washing.  Also, those foxes are incredibly adorable.  The colors held up really well after repeated washing and even though there was some tiny pilling, the fabric remained very soft and substantial feeling.  This would add some nice weight to the back of a quilt. This was my personal favorite flannel to work with.

    You can find Cloud9 Flannel here, here, or here.  These foxes have gotten hard to find but they will be available in new colors soon!

    Weight: 176.3 g/yard
    Shrinkage: 4% length, 4% width
    The Dear Stella flannel is a little lighter weight than some of the others but got softer and softer the more it was washed.  The colors held up well and this particular print would be great for a more masculine quilt.  This would make a very snuggly quilt back.

    You can find Dear Stella flannel here and here.

    Weight: 4.4 oz. cotton
    Shrinkage: 3% length, 3% width
    Free Spirit flannels are the ones that I have the most experience with and knew that they wouldn't disappoint.  I was surprised that this flannel was the thinnest that I received, but it was also the softest and it remained that way after washing.  This flannel also had the least texture change after washing.

    You can find Free Spirit fabrics here and here.  The flannel pictured here is from Parson Gray's new collection which will be available soon.
    Shrinkage: 8% length, 5% width
    I wanted to test Joann's flannel to compare to the others.  This is definitely the least expensive (I paid $2.49 for a yard of this) but it was also the lowest in quality. It had the loosest weave and was the least soft.  While it would be tempting to use this less-expensive option, I don't think that this would hold up well as a quilt backing.

    Shrinkage: 6% length, 1% width
    5.4 oz. cotton flannel 42/43" wide.
    I have not used Riley Blake flannel before but they have lots of cute flannel options so I was excited to try this one out.  This fabric was a little floppier than some of the others, but had a great fuzzy texture.  I conducted a very scientific test where I had my 5 year old daughter close her eyes and choose which texture she liked best and this one was her favorite.

    You can find Riley Blake flannel here and here.

    Weight: 5.2 oz.
    Shrinkage: 3% length, 8% width
    I had recently used Remix Flannel to back a quilt and was impressed with the quality so I wanted to see how one of the brighter prints held up.  It is hard to tell from the photo, but the prints didn't bleed; the flannel fabric is a little fuzzier and some of of the brighter fabrics migrated a little onto the white.  I was very excited by how bright the colors stayed after several washings and I am looking forward to using more of these Remix flannels in the future.

    You can find Robert Kaufman flannel here and here.

    Shrinkage; 4% length, 6% width
    The Windham flannel was just about as substantial feeling as the Cloud9.  It did pill a very tiny bit after washing and also seemed to stay a little stiff, but it also had less fraying than any of the other prints.  I think that this fabric would hold up well to continued washing and would make a great quilt back.

    You can find Windham flannel here and here.

    In conclusion:
    I was expecting to recommend some options and not others, but I would honestly use any of these options to back a quilt (other than the Joann's).  I love using flannel as a quilt back because it is fuzzy and cuddly but breathes better than Minky since it is made from cotton.

    I hope that more prints are available in flannel in the future.  If you have any questions or tips that you would like to share, I would love to hear them in the comments! 

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Farmer's Wife Blocks 26-30

    I spent yesterday playing catch-up with my Farmer's Wife blocks.  In the book the diagrams are colored and there is a picture of a sample block and I have noticed that I have a tendency to make my blocks the same color as the sample without even thinking about it.

    That happened with the block in the bottom left this time around and the block doesn't really fit in with the others so hopefully it will blend in once all the blocks are finished.
    Farmer's Wife Blocks 26-30
    Everything was made from scraps except the bunnies.

    Working with the templates has gotten easier and less annoying since I have gotten better at cutting efficiently and cutting multiple shapes at a time.  This was definitely the quickest I have put a set together, even with all of those teeny tiny little triangles in the middle block.

    Previous Farmer's Wife Blocks:

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    WIP Wednesday

    It has been a while since I made a WIP Wednesday post.  Or mopped my floors.  Or got my car cleaned.  Instead I have been continuing my reading binge.  Just a couple days ago I was telling my husband that I have always read and read and read until I got to a book that made me really angry or upset and then I had to take a break.  I found that book yesterday: Allegiant.  Worst. Series. Ending. Ever.  There were lots of angry tears.

    I did find some time to make some blocks for Alison's Soy Amado project.  If you have not heard about it, you can find out more info here.  She is asking for quilt-as-you-go blocks to make quilts for a children's home in Mexico City.  So these blocks will be making the journey from my house (40 minutes from the Mexico border) to Alison in the Channel Islands where they will be made into a quilt and then shipped to Netherlands where they will be sent back to Mexico.  It will be quite the journey!

    Originally I had intended to franken-piece together some orphan blocks, but I wanted to make something bright and fun so I used some Ann Kelle Beatbox prints with Kona Cotton.  I love, love, love these prints.
    Soy Amado Blocks
    Last night I finished a quilt top for one of my new friends here in San Diego.  She is expecting her fifth boy (yes, you read that right) and they are BYU fans so I thought this would be a fun quilt for them.  Apparently I am on a pixel-kick lately.  
    BYU Pixel Quilt
    She is due very soon so I need to get this one finished up.

    On the to do list:
    • Curtains.  It seems like I keep making curtains but there are always more to make.  
    • Farmer's Wife blocks.  I only made 5 last month so I have 15 to make this month.
    • More baby quilts.  I need to make at least 2 more for friends who are expecting in the next couple months.

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