Monday, September 1, 2014

42. Quilt Lines & Matrix in a Basket Block

Last week we finished up our house blocks and jumped right into learning how to piece a basket block. Today we're going to free motion quilt our first block with straight lines and matrix to create this cool woven effect:
The one tricky thing about this block is matching up the wiggly lines of matrix that flow around the basket handle. I would really advise marking this section because it can be tricky to free hand quilt lines that need to match up across a segment like the handle.

If you're needing the pattern to mark, remember that all the guides, the how-to instructions, and cutting and piecing diagrams are all found in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

Let's watch the video to see how it all works:

Now you might be wondering - if you stitch on all the lines will it make the quilt dense or stiff?

The lines within the basket are around 1/4 inch apart, which can feel a bit stiff depending on what type of batting you're using. A soft natural batting like cotton or wool is going to shrink and soften up around the quilting stitches. A thicker, polyester batting is going to tend to be more stiff and will not shrink and soften up when it's washed.

It's really down to the look and feel of the quilt you want. If you want it to hang well on a wall, poly is a great choice. If you want your quilts to feel cuddly and soft, cotton, wool, bamboo is going to be a good choice for that finish.

Of course another way to get around the stiffness issue is just not to quilt all the lines in the basket. I'm sure Josh will be changing up the design once again when he tackles this block tomorrow.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Meet Kitchen!

Meet the newest member of our family! We were leaving my in-laws house last night and this little girl ran out in the road in front of our car. With no houses nearby and no owner in sight we figured she was abandoned and most likely going to get hit by a car if she stayed near the road. Josh scooped her up and we brought her home.

The first thing she did was jump right out of my arms and onto the kitchen counter, which gave me the inspiration for her name: kitchen, which Josh later changed to Kitchenette when we realized she was a girl.

I'm not really sure how old she is, and she's definitely not litter box trained, so this is going to be an adventure. Despite the mess I had to clean up this morning, I'm totally in love with this little sweetie!

Update - After a more thorough test and many readers clued me in, I realized that she is in fact HE and is now renamed Kitchen! I'm guessing he's about 6 weeks old, and already proving to be a handy escape artist. Kitchen is going to keep me on my toes, that's for sure.

Off for another cuddle,


Friday, August 29, 2014

41. Piece a Basket Block

Earlier this week we finished up free motion quilting our last house block so I think it's time to jump ahead to piecing our basket blocks!
I absolutely love this block and the combination of half square triangles and the cute curving handle of the basket. We're getting our feet wet with a bit of applique with this block, and I'm excited to be able to teach you my favorite turned edge applique method.

Learn how to piece this block in this video:
Find the template for the basket handle as well as detailed cutting and piecing instructions in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern.

This video ran a bit long, but there are a lot of steps to piecing this block. When turning the edges of your basket handles just remember that a wider amount of fabric is easier to turn. If you cut the fabric too close to the template it can feel really fiddly and once you add starch, the whole process can become a struggle.

One product I recently discovered is Floriani Stitch and Wash Fusible. This is a fusible stabilizer that is stable enough to turn against exactly as we learned in this technique, but it's water soluble, so you can leave it in the handle and the stiffness will wash out after you wash your quilt.

I played with this a bit and really liked the ability to turn my edges, but not have to remove the template, which always seems to wreck havoc with the fiddly places, like deep points and corners. might also be a good idea to place a piece of tearaway stabilizer under your block as you zigzag stitch over the basket handle. The more I learn about machine embroidery, the more I realize how much stabilizer is needed for regular machine applique as well.

Speaking of machine applique, I'm headed to the machine to start working on the blocks for our NEXT quilt along! Here's a little sneak peak to get you excited:

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Amazing Aquarium in NC

Oh man! Yesterday James had a half day at school and we decided that was the perfect day to go to Sea Life, a new aquarium that opened this year in Concord, NC.

What an amazing place! This aquarium was small, but extremely organized and basically built for small children. There were multiple places for James to crawl inside the tanks and look out through the water like this:

I really loved this aquarium's focus on education for conservation. They breed multiple species of rays and seahorses and explain why these fish are in danger. Simply put - we eat them too much, or we're destroying their habitat. Sea Life clearly wants to educate children to make good food, transportation, and buying decisions.

Josh and I even learned a lot and we all had a great time because this aquarium was so creative and interesting. The largest shark tank was the coolest because you get to walk through a tunnel and see all the fish swim around you. On the opposite side is another viewing window with this big guy right in the middle:
Clearly this aquarium was built by some very creative people! We really had a great time and I love supporting places like this. So just in case you're in Concord, NC, make sure to swing around the back of Concord Mills (the massive mall that's impossible to miss on the side of I-85) to find SeaLife.

Even better, We're Sew Creative, a super cool quilt shop is nearby, so you can make it a quilting excursion as well!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Josh's Circles & Echoes in a House Block

Josh here for my turn to quilt circles and echoes in our last house block.

I really liked the design effect on this one with the smoke echoes coming from the chimney.

 For the rocks at the base of the block, substituting the design "Underwater rocks" was a great help and also was good practice for circles.

I continue to mix things up by modifying and simplifying the designs. I particularly liked the necklace effect I made with the rocks at the bottom. I can get away with this due to the fact I'm using Spoonflower preprinted fabric, which is marked at the manufacturer and eliminates the entire piecing process.

And here is my completed block:

Until next time, let's go quilt!


Monday, August 25, 2014

New Hand Applique Class with Mimi!

I'm having a much better day, chilling on the couch with a creative project in my hands and a fun Craftsy class on my ipad. Today I'm enjoying Mimi Dietrich's newest Craftsy class Hand Applique Made Easy.
Mimi Dietrich is quickly becoming one of my favorite teachers. She's funny, extremely talented, and has a knack for making complicated things like needle turn applique very easy.

Sign up for this new Hand Applique Made Easy class and save 33%!

Mimi's other Craftsy class is Finishing School, a class all about finishing your quilts with binding. If you're looking for creative ways to bind your quilts, this is also a class you'll enjoy. Click here to save on Finishing School too!

Let's go learn!


40. Quilt Circles & Echoes in a House Block

Today we're quilting along on the Building Blocks Quilt and finishing up our last house block of the month. This is my all time favorite quilting design for this quilt and it's just a simple combination of circles and echoes:
 For this design, I marked every line except the Pebbling in the bottom of the block. That section was far easier to quilt free hand with no marking. Everything else needed to be marked in order to fit together properly. Check out this video to see what I mean:

I love this design so much, it's been turned into a quilting stencil! Click Here to find a 10 inch stencil for this house block design.

This stencil marks a 10 inch house block, which won't fit our 8 inch square for the Building Blocks Quilt. But if you wanted to play with more houses over plain fabric blocks, this would certainly be an easy way to mark it!

I've been playing with other stencils and created this funky wholecloth by combining one of the Cheater Drunkard Path designs four times. It's amazing what you can do with the stencils because it's so much easier to mark the fabric from the surface.

Feeling inspired? Click here to see all the stencils you can play with from Quilting Creations International.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day
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