Third Time’s a Charm!

How is it already July? For some reason, my crazy brain had me thinking that June follows June.

I am excited that July is finally here. My little brother’s birthday is today, I turn 30 at the end of the month and Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs has released the first set of instructions for the 2015 Midnight Mystery Quilt!
Meadow Mist Designs Mystery Quilt

Of all the things going on this month, I am most excited about participating in my first QAL. I’ve got some (careful) fabric cutting in my weekend plans.

To keep the number of WIP’s at a minimum, the past two weeks or so have been focused on finishing my High School T Shirt Memory Quilt “quilt-over” and the “What the Hex” quilt for my friend Rommy. The actual quilt has been finished for a few weeks, but I am stuck on how to quilt the coordinating pillow shams I made from the scraps.

The memory quilt has undergone three transformations. I started it back in 2003 but did not finish it until many years later. After a few years of use, I  realized I was not happy with the layout and wanted to include a few more memories I was ready to stop wearing. I also wanted to fix the corners on the binding.

Quilt Version 1

Original Finished T Shirt Memory Quilt

The second life of the quilt had my first attempt at Free Motion Quilting on a “medium-arm” machine. Unfortunately, the stitch length regulation did not work so well and after a few years of use and washing, the quilting was starting to come undone. Additionally, the “cheater binding” method I had used did not have a proper join of the ends that was very bulky and not at all pretty.

Quilt Version 2

Quilt Version 2

So I decided to do a “quilt-over” and rebind the quilt again.. Using my trusty walking-foot and 1/4″ spacing, I quilted a simple square spiral in each t shirt block.

Quilt Over

Latest “Quilt-Over”

I also redid the binding, joining the ends seamlessly. It is much prettier and finished by handsewing the back. I think it might be my favorite part of the quilt.

Detail of Final Binding and Quilt Texture

Final Binding and Quilt Texture

I am extremely happy with this third (and final) iteration and love the texture of the quilting. When will they invent “Wonka Texture” so others can feel quilting through the computer screen???

Final Quilt Back

Final Quilt Back

Final Quilt Front

Final Quilt Front

The puppies are also excited to have the couch quilt back.

Dora snuggling with her favorite quilt

Dora snuggling with her favorite quilt

I declare this “WIP” (that has been years in the making) done!

Confession: This has been one of the most dangerous quilts I’ve worked on. I sustained a rotary cutting injury and needed 4 stitches back in 2004 and when hand sewing the binding, I sliced my chin with the needle and then proceeded to poke myself in the lip a few hours later. Who knew quilting was so dangerous!?!?!?

Linking up to:
Quilt for Keeps

#TBT: High School T-shirt Quilt (for keeps)

The majority of the quilts I make are given away to friends and family.  I have only kept two for myself. For me, it is the best way I can show my love and support for others; even when I can’t personally be there.  When I make a quilt, my hope is that it will be used and enjoyed, not “preserved” by stuffing it into a closet.

Not surprisingly, others feel the same way.  One of the quilters from the 2015 New Quilt Blogger group share a post the other day highlighting a new initiative from Amy Smart, Quilt for Keeps. (I can’t remember who it was at the moment and am kicking myself so hard for not book marking their post. I will find it and link back. I promise.)

For Keeps Pledge

The only two quilts I have kept for myself are the first quilt I ever made (stored in the closet at the moment), and a t-shirt quilt made from my high school tshirts.

This quilt was the third quilting project I undertook. I started sewing it in college.  I would lay out the squares on the floor of the dorm room common area.  I even bled over this quilt; slicing my finger with a rotary cutter, going into shock (I don’t deal well with blood), and getting 4 stitches.  I lack feeling in the part of my finger to this day.

Original Tshirt Quilt

Original Tshirt Quilt

The actual quilting was a simple grid spaced 4″ apart.

Original quilting with part chewed out by parent's dog

Original quilting with part chewed out by parent’s dog

I followed the instructions and a free pattern found at Wal-mart.  Like most t-shirt quilt patterns I have seen, it required the use of sashing between the shirts.

Poor binding on corners

Poor binding on corners

When I first finished the quilt, I was please with the final result.  However; as my quilting improved over the years, I became less and less thrilled with the project.  Out came the seam ripper as I tore the whole thing apart.

Tert-Butyl helping figure out a new layout

Tert-Butyl helping figure out a new layout

Gaia approved the final layout

Gaia approved the final layout

In the second iteration of this quilt, I removed the denim sashing between the blocks. I added in a few more shirts I was finally willing to part with, and tried my hand at free-motion quilting for the first time.

FMQ for the first time

FMQ for the first time

Again, I was happy with the end result.

Revised quilt

Revised quilt

Revised backing

Revised backing

Better binding

Better binding

The past few weeks this t shirt quilt has been getting a lot more use. The rainy season has started and weather is cooler here in Costa Rica and it is the perfect weight blanket for curling up on the couch.  My puppies have been enjoying the quilt as well.

The FMQ job that I was happy with before began to show its flaws. Uneven stitch length and not burying threads has cause much of it to come loose.  Because this quilt has been getting more use (and washes) I once again decided it was time for a redo.

Berna snuggled up on a chilly morning

Berna snuggled up on a chilly morning

So now I am in the process of quilting it all over with 1/4 in spacing to make it more durable.  Taking a short cut, I have decided to simply quilt over the existing quilting.  I am sure that sentence will offend many a reader since it is no where near the proper way to fix a quilt.

Third time quilting

Third time quilting

For the time being, I am happy with the look and progress that is being made. I really love the texture of the 1/4″ quilting. I plan on redoing the binding yet again and joining the end pieces properly instead of layering and causing much bulk.

Personal disatisfactions aside, the quilt has been made to be used and it is for keeps.  Here’s to hoping that 3rd time’s a charm.

Gallery

Shirt off my back

A few weeks ago I talked about one of the “UFO” projects I was trying to finish before leaving my parent’s house in Arizona.

Sadly I was not able to finish my brother’s t-shirt quilt.  Fortunately it was much easier to pack into my suitcase than a wood subway art sign or headboard.

I have since finished the quilt for my brother that was started almost 10 years ago.

Full-size bed quilt, slightly small for a Queen size bed

Full-size bed quilt, slightly small for a Queen size bed

Finished T-Shirt Quilt

Finished T-Shirt Quilt

Back side of quilt

Back side of quilt

When it came to the actual quilting, I wanted something that was a bit more masculine and modern to balance the sentimental feel of a t-shirt quilt.

IMG_1609

IMG_1608I decided to do a tight zig-zag stitch along the sections where the different directions of quilting met up.  This was to reinforce the start point of the lines and to cover the not-so-straight beginnings.

Front center detail

Front center detail

Zig-zag stitching on "joints"

Zig-zag stitching on “joints”

Zig-zag stitching on "joints"

Zig-zag stitching on “joints”

Zig-zag stitching on "joints"

Zig-zag stitching on “joints”

Detail close-up of back quilting

Detail close-up of back quilting

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Khaki colored thread to blend and give great texture effect

When it came to binding the quilt, I opted for the quick and dirty method.  I made a bias tape with the remaining khaki fabric used for the front sashing and backing. I then proceeded to machine sew it to the front and back side.

Since this is a quilt for my younger brother and will most likely be used as a couch quilt or “guest bed” (aka futon) blanket, I figured I could get away with an easier binding method.  I am not the best at this technique, but I wanted to get the quilt done and off my “UFO” list.

Machine sewn binding

Machine sewn binding

Overall I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

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There is a college t-shirt quilt that is a work-in-progress (WIP) for myself.  I will make sure to post more on the construction part of it in the upcoming weeks.

Gallery

UFO Sighting!

One of my biggest challenges is completing projects. Like my mother, I tend to start projects and rarely finish them. While it keeps my interests and excitement for crafting alive, it is also overwhelming having an ever-growing “to do” list.

Over the past year or so I have made a very conscious effort to A- complete the new projects I start and 2- finish the “UFO’s” (UnFinished Objects) that have been YEARS in the making.

Currently, I am about two weeks into a month long visit to my parents in AZ. Before making the trip I set a goal to finishing up some of those UFO’s. The projects I set out to finish are (in priority order):

  1. T-shirt Quilt for my younger (not so little) brother, Eddie. I started this almost 8 years ago using t-shirts he wore in high school.
  2. Subway Art Wood Transfer project. This was supposed to be a Christmas 2013 present for my dad and then evolved into an Aug 15 birthday present. Still a UFO at this time
  3. Upholstered Headboard. This is another project for my brother. He took my bed a few years ago, I stole the headboard to redo.
  4. UA T-shirt Quilt. SInce this is a UFO for myself, it’s lowest on the priority list. As you can probably guess, I went through a phase of making t-shirt quilts. I will be happy to have them done.

I have made the most progress on finishing the T-shirt quilt for my brother.  While I did plan out how I wanted to quilt this one, I have greatly underestimated how long it would take.  You can see my progress below:

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Laying it out to fix the backing and batting

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My mother’s machine from the 1980’s. I learned to sew on this machine

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No free motion foot for this guy

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Quarter inch spacing. Love the texture. Despise how long it takes.