Monday, August 27, 2012

Tension Issues

I have tension issues with almost every quilt.  I've learned that every quilt, thread, needle, batting, and day is different.  So before I put my quilt under the needle to start quilting it, I set up my sewing machine and do some practice doodles on some scrap quilt sandwiches (this is also when I practice the designs for a quilt).  I used to have a bunch of scrap sandwiches from a couple of quilt workshops I taught, but they were trashed in the whole swallow bug ordeal.  Those were good ones for practicing on though--about one foot square, with just plain muslin front and back so I could see exactly what my thread was doing.

Before I started quilting the rainbow quilt, I found a very small scrap quilt sandwich in with my scraps, and used it to check my my machine and thread.  

This is about 10" x 4-5".

It was a difficult scrap to tell how bad or good things were (already had the white and red stitching and is quite small).  I fiddled with my machine, changed out my needle (I always try to start with a new needle for free motion quilting--it does make a big difference!), but could never get the tension just right.

Well it was late and I wanted to get at least one square quilted, so that's what I did.  And then I wasn't happy with the stitching...the tension still wasn't right.  But the next four days were spent getting ready and then going camping.  So finally today I looked over the stitching with fresh eyes:

This is the back of the quilt--those loops shouldn't be there.

This was the worst spot.  I think it was a spot that I had paused at.

The stitching on the left is okay, but on the right it's too loose.

Since I'd tried everything else, I decided to clean my machine.  The lint really collects and clogs up things underneath the plate thingy.  I think the last time I cleaned it was before the Prayer Quilt (so it would have been back in January).  I try to clean it before and/or after every large quilt, but forgot in the whole baby being born and the rest of our life craziness.  Anyway, this is was I got out:

I use the little brush that came with the machine and a small makeup brush to get all the lint out.  It was definitely time to clean, look at all that gunk!

Put everything back together, did a few test lines on the scrappy sandwich and decided it was decent.  Then I quilted another square on the quilt (can you tell it was a good nap day? ha) and was happy to see that the tension was about right!


Now I feel good about finishing the free motion quilting.  Maybe tomorrow will be another double nap day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rainbow Quilt Progress II

After finishing the the quilt top, I dug through my fabric stash looking for fabrics that I didn't really love and coordinated with each other...and came up with these:

Actually I do love the stripy fabric, but it just coordinated too well not to use!
Then I cut them into to strips and sewed them together randomly.  Once they were sewn back together I realized it would have been more efficient to cut thicker strips so there would be fewer seam allowances.  Oh well, I like the thin little strips.

Once all the strips were together, I dug through my stash again looking for a filler fabric.  Digging through through my stash is interesting because it is in a completely different configuration than it was before our whole swallow bug ordeal in March.  All the fabric went through the dryer, was bagged, and then folded and boxed by my mom.  I've slowly been resorting and folding, and am amazed at the amount of fabric I didn't even know I had!  The bright blue above is a good example.  And the brown I picked for the filler too.  

Decided to border the strips with grey.

Well there wasn't enough brown to make it long enough, so I ended up adding a thick strip of grey to one end.  I bought an entire bolt of Kona Coal Grey with a Joann's coupon recently (to be used for the next 3 quilts I have planned), and has come in handy for many parts of the back of this quilt!

Then I cut my batting and started the basting process.  But as soon as I put the quilt top on the batting I realized that I had been using the pre-border width measurement for the back and the batting!  Ugh!  I decided the best thing to do was add another large strip of grey to the side to make it wide enough.  

I started quilting it this evening and decided to go with straight lines through the sashing and around the border, and swirls in the rainbow blocks.

Using my walking foot for the straight lines, then will switch to my free motion foot for the swirls.

As I was quilting I realized this is the first quilt in over a year and a half that I have made, start to finish, without any rhyme or reason.  I'm making it for the enjoyment of the process.  But I feel compelled to figure out what to do with it by the time I'm done.  I keep wondering who to give it to...I guess it just doesn't seem right to keep it.

Finished the rainbow hexagon mini quilt top, though I expect it will sit for a while before I do anything else with it--not sure how I want to finish it and it's low on the priority list for finishing right now.

It was supposed to be a pentagon...but a little triangle piece snuck in at the beginning and turned it into a hexagon.  Hurrumph.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rainbow quilt progress

I ended up going with a variation of option G from my previous post.  Thanks to everyone that voted!  :-)  Matt actually came up with the layout, after spending all evening with an excel document he had created to try different layouts without having to move the actual quilt blocks around a ton.  That process led him to buy me this quilt design software for my birthday present, woo!  Looking forward to using it for future quilts.

Back to the quilt, I've been working on adding the sashing and borders, only two borders left.  No idea what to do for the back yet, hoping that digging through my fabric stash will inspire me.

Also currently working on this mini quilt:

It's upside down, still on the sewing machine.  I tried to lift the presser foot to take it out and instead got a needle in the I left it where it was.

Debating on what to do with it...think it might depend on how big it gets.  Kinda wish I had made two of them!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Scrappy Rainbow Quilt ~ Layout?

In the past two weeks I finished up the blocks for what is now called the Rainbow Quilt.  I used colors from all my scraps except the blacks, whites, and greys (another quilt, perhaps?).  I didn't intend for it to become a rainbow...but that's what happens when you're working with all these colors.  The only thing I wish I had done differently is to make light green blocks and dark green blocks, rather than have all the greens together, and not made the brown blocks (but I have SO many brown scraps).

Anyway, onto the photos!  I have no idea how to layout this quilt, but here are a few options, let me know which is your favorite, or if you have another layout suggestion!

Option: A

Option: B

Option: C

Option: D (supposed to be a spiral..ish)

Option: E

Option: F

Option: G

Okay, cast your vote!  Hopefully I'll be able to start sewing them together over the weekend.  Unless I decide to make four new blocks (light and dark green ones), and use the extra mix green and brown blocks on the back, or another quilt?