Thursday, 31 October 2013

Greek Cross Cushion

Recently I've been trying to get my sewing projects into some sort of order. Picking out a few to focus on before Christmas and getting all the bits and pieces needed to complete them into one place. For some reason, my brain doesn't find that sort of organsing to be conducive to blogging. But, hopefully, now that I'm actually moving on these projects I'll be writing with more regularity!

Today I'm going to talk about the Greek Cross cushion I made over the last month. Originally I cut the pieces to put them into a charity quilt at my guild. But life had different plans for me and I couldn't attend that sewing day. I sewed the blocks up anyway because I loved the colours, had them already cut, and desperately needed to sew something.

Basting front and back.
Once I got back to my stash I pulled the same colours and strip-pieced a backing. I decided to baste the front and back as normal, using a plentiful but mystery blue and white polka dot in my stash as the backing. My thinking there was that the cushion inner would wear away the cotton less than it might pull at the batting by itself.

I know that with these being so small (~24" square) I could have used this opportunity to break out my new darning foot and trying out some FMQ for the first time. In the end I just didn't know where to start and I had an idea of how I'd straight line quilt it. Now, even though I've been quilting for over a year now I only got a walking foot for my machine this summer. So I'm still only testing out various things I've seen around blogland. This time I decided to try straight line quilting ¼" apart on the backing.

I learned lots. First, straight line quilting so densely makes me really dizzy!

Second, they're not lying. Holy god does this quilting shrink your fabric. The backing started off an inch larger than the front on all sides. When I reached halfway I realised that if I did the quilting all over the back then they just wouldn't fit together at all without seriously cutting into my piecing on the front. Luckily, I also love the contrast in texture on the back!

Finally, even though my camera's not good enough to pick it up. I started and did the majority of this quilting on my machine in DC, but I finished it just a couple of nights ago on my mother's machine in Ireland. Both are Brother sewing machines. But the difference in stitch size and length is not something I was expecting. Also, my mother's machine is really sensitive to small changes in speed through the machine and stitches can easily go from large to tiny without changing any of the settings. I have to really be awake when I'm using it for quilting.

Since I'm so new to the walking foot I'm still not 100% sure of all the tips and tricks. I've found it brilliant, but occasionally I do still get the top material being pushed over quilting lines going perpendicularly. Causing very tiny rucks, but not everywhere just now and again. The top right pink cross was particularly prone to it on this cushion. Is this a basting problem? Have I just not stuck the top down firmly enough? If I was using basting pins would this problem be more prevalent or less?

Because of all these questions, and because I've learned so much in the last few weeks already I'm linking up to Gemma at Pretty Bobbins for the I Quilt Linky Party!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

WIP Wednesday (it took 3 goes to spell Wednesday, I might give up here...)

I have a couple of ongoing bits of sewing right now. They may be ongoing for a while, as I've only managed to sit down at the machine twice in the last week and a half. But, I'm quite excited for these two projects, one brand new and accidental, and the other over a year old and sort of ignored.

First up, the brand new! I brought the pieces required to make four Greek Cross blocks home. They are in the colour scheme put forward by Katie for a charity quilt to be put together at the DCMQG last Saturday for her brilliant 100 Quilts for Kids. I planned to make them in Ireland, and have them ready for the sew-in a few days after I got back to DC. But now I'm in Ireland for a little longer, and these had no way of magically becoming done and getting to DC in just a few days (the post takes horribly long sometimes!). So I'm making them up anyway.

I can take no credit for anything with this, but I'm hoping to quilt it up and use it to re-cover an enormous pillow/cushion I got as a teenager. Or else, I'll be seduced and turn it into a mini-quilt, or go crazy and add borders and make a baby quilt.... We'll see. It's taken me a full week to just get this far so it might never get finished! Lots of possibilities :)

I've taken the opportunity to haul out my Medallion quilt from Handstitched Class, which I started in ~May 2012. I stopped at the third border, because my two side pieces were too long (my piecing wasn't/isn't very accurate) and I didn't know how to solve the problem. There might be an old photo on the blog to show what I'm talking about...

And there is! See how the top and bottom are too long?
Anyway, impatience and a dislike of unpicking all those little squares meant that I just sewed a new seam in on every second row 1/8th of an inch further in.

I'm hoping that subsequent busy borders, and the fact that this was never going to be anything resembling a show quilt, will mean that very few will notice that some of the squares are not square!

The final thing that I'm working slowly on is the Farmer's Wife Quilt. I've finished a few blocks since I've been home (though a transatlantic flight and and 8 hour layover helped enormously!).

Instagram is proving to be enormously helpful for sewing. Last night when I finished Honey's Choice (the pinwheels in the top left corner) they were all buckled because I have to bend the shapes in order to get my seams to align while sewing. I can't see a way around this practice and it's the only way I've found so far to get aligned seams in blocks that have larger units joined to lots of smaller ones. So I put a plea out on instagram for information on how to help EPP'd blocks lie flat, other than putting them under heavy books. And Melinda from Quirky Granola Girl told me to leave the papers in (which I've done anyway as I plan to piece the sashing too) and give them a good steam press. Which I did, and it worked like a charm!

Woohoo for Melinda!! And Instagram!! And for asking the 'stupid questions'!!

Hopefully next week I might be further on again :)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday (ooh, I got it in one that time!!) at Freshly Pieced (that took a few tries) guested hosted this week by Kristy.