Monday, July 27, 2015

Row by Row

 So Deb was going to be in town on vacation with her family.  Her plan was to visit a few quilt shops to participate in the Row by Row Experience.   She had everything planned out ahead of time, so I just popped up to meet her at the first shop.  They had a sailboat row which was super cute.  Mrs. Gates was there, she has never made a quilt but just likes to buy fabric.  She is going to be my sub while I am gone to Costa Rica.
The next shop was right around the corner and they had really adorable duckies, already laser cut and ready to fuse.  Next it was down to my neck of the woods.  They didn't have any license plates, but their block was really pretty with rows of batik waves and beading.  Finally, the last quilt shop had a somewhat odd thermometer with Olaf fabric, so I just got the pattern, I can change out the fabrics on that one I think.  Deb even brought me some scraps in indigo and brown.  So sweet!  Thanks Deb.  I really meant to get a picture of the two of us together.  Oops, maybe next time.
I promised Anna that I would not start on a new quilt until hers was done.  I did start sewing the rows together when we got home from and made good progress.  Maybe tomorrow?  The days are getting shorter.  Tomorrow I will meet Mrs. Gates at school to go over sub plans, then Sydney has a dentist appointment on Wednesday and a piano lesson on Thursday.  

Design Wall Monday July 27, 2015

Since I sewed the top together for Hawaii Sunset and finished the borders and backing yesterday, I was ready for what's next.  Because the missing fabric for Anna's T-Shirt quilt came while I was working on my last quilt, I decided to go ahead and bite the bullet.  This is my third t-shirt quilt since May and I am looking forward to finishing this one off.  As much as these quilts are full of fun memories, the sewing is a little bit tedious.  I'm in the middle of a Bones marathon though, and that will get me through.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Slow Stitch Sunday - Basket Blocks

After finishing the border for Hawaii Sunset this morning, I spent most of the afternoon puttering around the sewing room.  I will need to extend the frame a bit to quilt a queen sized top, and things are a bit cluttered at the moment.  It felt so good to settle down after dinner with some nice quiet handwork.  These little basket blocks turned up in my organization.  I was surprised to find out that there were only three more blocks to be appliqu├ęd.  So I am about ready to take the last stitches on the last block and then I will put these away until I am ready to put another top together.  I had a small wall hanging in mind with these baskets, something to hang in the entryway. 

Hawaii Sunset Top Done

I just finished putting the pieced border on Hawaii Sunset.  TaDa!  I always want to skip the pieced border.  By the time the top is done I just want to get it finished and quilted.  But I am always glad that I completed the pieced borders. It is nicely pressed now and ready for finishing.  
 I have this nice grey and blue floral for the back.  I have picked up bits and pieces on sale but never had a good use for it.  Though it will take a bit of puzzling, I think there is plenty.
 These giant tumbler block were my leaders and enders.  I'm not sure where they are headed yet, but They are coming together nonetheless.
 The tumblers weren't out long before Lizzie came to check them out.  I think she approves.  I want to get Hawaii Sunset up and loaded on the frame so that I can work some more on Anna's T-shirt quilt.  She is pretty anxious for it to get finished up now that the missing fabric has arrived.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

ScrapHappy Saturday - Rounding out Red

I got  few more red churn dashes and nine patches put together.  
 Here is the collection so far.  Slowly but surely.  Someday there will be enough for a quilt.
Being out of white background fabric left me wondering what to do next.  So I pulled out Hawaii Sunset which still needs borders.  All the four patches are done, it is just a matter of adding in the blue triangles to connect them all together on point.
Next Saturday is the first day of August, so there will be a new color to play with.  So that leaves just a few more days to get your odds and ends of red all cleared away.
Mister Linky is below so that we can all see what you have accomplished with your red.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Snow is Not White

I thought I was getting white fabric from Joann's.  I had been using white Kona fabric for the background of my postage stamp stars.  I've been using a lot of white background fabric lately and I was out.  Instead I ended up with Kona Snow.  It isn't the same.  Darn.  I even went to Hobby Lobby yesterday, but all they had was snow, no white!  I guess I'll have to order some online.  Darn!  On the upside though, the Robert Kaufman Crosshatch from 2009 showed up so that I can finish the lattice strips for Anna's t-shirt quilt.  The nice thing about having multiple projects is that you never get stuck.
Not that I've had much sewing time.  I am working hard to get everything ready for Costa Rica.  My packing list is a bit of a scavenger hunt.  My snake boots came in from Amazon, the first pair was too small, but the new ones fit just great.  Biodegradable laundry detergent has arrived.  So far my suitcase is almost full, but there are no clothes.  Sub plans are well underway. Seating charts are done and copies are made.  There is still all of next week, but wow, it is getting close!

Free Money

The governor of Florida recently signed a new law to get more money into education.  In an effort to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers, he will give $10,000 to any teacher who was rated highly effective last year and scored in 80th percentile on the the SAT or ACT that they took when they graduated from high school.  Not that I am old, but I graduated in 1989.  I remember that I had a 30 on the ACT, which is pretty good. So I qualify for a free "scholarship" of $10,000!   Free money is always nice.  Turns out it isn't that easy to retrieve 27 year old test scores.  So far I have an incredulous e-mail from customer service at ACT explaining that there is no way to calculate a percentile from that long ago and an expired archival report form from the SAT website.  I'm going to keep digging, but I keep asking, who thought this was a good idea?  I even went up into the attic, just in case I saved an old SAT score report in my box of memories.  No such luck. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial Part 2

A single size block with traditional lattice and corner stones makes for very simple and straight forward construction for any t-shirt quilt.  After the stabilizing and trimming of blocks it goes together just like a "regular" old quilt.  
After making a few t-shirt quilts like this, I started to branch out a bit.  
 A lot of shirts fit better in a rectangular space than in a square.  As long as you are consistent, this is no harder to handle than squares.  16 by 14 is a nice size, but it all depends on your shirts.  
Some shirts have smaller designs.  You could trim these out to a larger size, but that leaves a lot of empty space in the quilt and it ends up being really big if you are including lots of shirts.  If you have enough of these shirts for an entire row, you could easily trim them to 10 by 14 or even 8 by 14.  Just look at all the shirts for a given row and choose the largest size that you need to cut to include all the designs.  
 Sometimes shirts have small skinny designs that don't take up much space.  These can be combined to make a single block.  Sewing stabilized shirts together isn't hard.  Do pin to avoid shifting, and if possible, leave them a little bit big to start.  Sew the blocks together with a standard seam allowance and then press the seams open on the back.  This will help to reduce bulk as the stabilized shirts are a bit heavier than regular quilting fabric.  Don't forget to use a pressing cloth so that you don't melt the stabilizer.  After you have sewn and pressed, then square up to your desired size as if were a regular block.  
Sometimes you don't want to use the back and front separately, they can be combined into a single block.  This works best with rectangular blocks.  It is saves a lot of space compared to including the front and back individually, but allows you to include more of the details from the shirts.
 Lots of shirts have sleeves or pockets with fun images, those can easily be added to a smaller block.
Once you are comfortable with piecing shirts, it would be easy enough to sew them together puzzle style, completely free of the traditional lattice and cornerstones.  I personally like the traditional layout though.  I think the consistent colors help to tie everything together and the grid gives the quilt a nice structure.
This is my most recent quilt.  The top row is 14 by 16.  Some of the blocks are pieced, but some are just larger designs.  The second row is 14 by 8, it has a lot of smaller designs.  Notice that though each row has a different height, the widths are always the same to allow them to fit together.  Using a design wall or laying everything out on the floor makes it easier to keep track of where the blocks go.  Lay all of the blocks out and then add in lattice strips and cornerstones.
After sewing the top together, just layer and quilt it as if it were any quilt.  T-shirt quilts do tend to be pretty heavy due to all of the stabilizer, so keep that in mind when you choose your quilting pattern.  I used to tie these before I was comfortable with quilting.  Just make sure that you read the packaging on your batting and tie or quilt it at the recommended distance.

Design Wall Monday July 20, 2015

 I pulled out my giant postage stamp block so that I could put on the borders, but there was no white fabric to be found.  How could I be out of white fabric?  I searched high and low and managed to find lots of lost things, but not any Kona white.
Instead I worked ahead on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2015 Sawtooth Star Sampler Quilt.  Rows 2 and 3 are completely done.  Row 7 is so close, but still missing just a few connector  blocks.  Now all I have to do is schedule the August blocks to post while I am in Costa Rica.  Oh my, so much to do in the next two weeks.  Head over to Patchworktimes to see what other quilters have up on their design walls today.
Today was a work day for me.  I wasn't planing on doing too much training this summer, but I was asked specifically to sign up for this biology workshop on neuroscience.  We made a cockroach leg dance to the song Sexy and I Know It.  It would sound more official if I said that we explored the electrical nature of nervous impulses, but it was pretty fun.  Tomorrow we have to make lesson plans to apply what we learned today.  After that I'd better finish getting lesson plans set up for the first week of school.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial Part 1

I seem to keep getting sucked into making t-shirt quilts.  For my family, for friends who have kids graduating from high school, from random strangers who saw a Facebook post.  Each time I post a picture of a t-shirt quilt, the same questions seem to come up.  So I thought that I would put together a quick tutorial for easy reference.  
First, go to the closet and dig up a pile of t-shirts with sentimental value.  The ones you can't bear to throw out because they remind you of all the special times.  Grab a nice sharp pair of scissors and start cutting.  Trim off the sleeves and necks, and cut straight down the sides to isolate the part of the shirt you want to keep.  Usually this is the front, but it can be the backs or sleeves or pockets.  Set aside the parts you don't want, but don't toss them out quite yet, because you just never know.  
Next, go to the fabric store or hop onto Amazon and find some lightweight fusible interfacing.  This is my favorite kind, it is sheerweight fusible by pellon.  The exact kind isn't important, but it should have adhesive on one side and not be paper backed.  Wonder Under is the kind with fusible on two side and it would NOT work for this project.
Your interfacing should come with directions.  Read these and follow them.  In general though, you heat set using an iron and a damp cloth.
Take one of the shirts you want to use and place it face down on the ironing board with the part you would like in your quilt centered.
Next take a piece of the interfacing bigger than your finished block and place it so that the adhesive side of the interfacing is down on the back side of the shirt.  For this quilt I was making 13 by 13 blocks, so I cut my interfacing about 16 inches or so.  It will be trimmed up later, so bigger is better than smaller.
Take one of the extra backs that you didn't throw away quite yet and get it wet, you can use a spray bottle or take it to the sink and dampen it there.  Move the iron slowly over the surface of the shirt following the time suggested on the directions for your specific interfacing.  Check to be sure the interfacing is well adhered to the shirt.  If you need to, you can turn the shirt right side up and iron some more to make sure it sticks.  Be sure to use the extra shirt back as a pressing cloth though, because a lot of the inks they use on the shirts will melt right off on the iron.  Trust me, cleaning ink off of your iron is no fun at all.
Now that your shirt is stabilized, you are ready to trim it to your desired size.  For the most part, t-shirt blocks will be larger than your standard 12 by 12 quilt block.  I find that a large square up ruler comes in handy.  It certainly isn't necessary though, you can use the lines on your cutting mat as a guide as well.
A word on desired size.  Take a look at all of your shirts, and determine which one has the largest image you want to include in your quilt.  In theory, all of your shirts should be at least as big as that.  A quilt with small children's shirts might only need 12 by 12 blocks.  Most designs though, are larger, so a 14 by 14 or even 16 by 16 block size might work best.  Your shirts do not have to be trimmed to a square.  I have found that 14 by 16 or even 18 is a nice size for capturing larger images on adult sized shirts.  It is easiest if you decide to trim all of your shirts to the same size, but it isn't mandatory.  You can keep a consistent width, but vary the height of the block for each row.
In Part 2 of the tutorial I will talk about design options and layout.