Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Call of Duty" T-shirt Couch Quilt Finished!

**Warning: Process Post, long on details, heavy on photos!**

So what do you do when you live in a house full of guys, and your couch looks like this?

Oh, and the guys are all gamers?

You make a t-shirt quilt for your couch out of the guys old t-shirts!

I love my comfy couch but hated the peeling "leather" on the arm.  I had checked out a patch kit at Joann's but it said that it had to be applied from underneath the spot to be repaired.  Since I can't do that with this couch I had to find another option.  Years ago, my DH had gotten a t-shirt for "Call of Duty" as a promotional item with the game.  It was too small for him to wear and the boys didn't want it so I used to drape it on the back of our living room chair because, I admit, I liked the cheddar color in the logo!  Then one day I had draped it over the arm of the couch and liked the way the logo fit perfectly there.  Only problem was that any time someone sat on that end of the couch, they would invariably knock the shirt off the arm so I was constantly putting it back in place.    

Then one day it dawned on me that since I had always wanted to make a t-shirt quilt, why not make one for the couch?  I have kept a lot of our old shirts for a "one day" project and was pretty sure we had some that would coordinate.  From a design standpoint, I figured that if I made it long enough to drape down both sides of the arm of the couch and extended it under the cushions, it would help it stay in place.  The more I looked at the original t-shirt, I realized that after using the front motif there was still a lot of fabric left in the back.  I could use that to make a pocket to hold our TV and cable box remotes and the weekly TV guide from the Sunday paper so that those things no longer needed to lay around either!

Fortunately for me, since a t-shirt quilt has long been on the "To Do" list, I had purchased some t-shirt quilt interfacing two years ago during a sale so with that and a supply of shirts I was ready to rumble! 

I originally picked six shirts that coordinated with the "Call of Duty" shirt.  I wasn't sure which motifs I'd use or how big I would cut them or how much space I wanted to cover.  Some shirts yielded more than one motif.  In the end I picked a group of shirts that could be trimmed to fit the width of the inspiration shirt which was about 24 inches. 

I cut out the motifs from the shirts and backed them with the interfacing and I played around with them until I had a layout I liked.

Of course that meant that some other motifs I had cut wouldn't be used now but are already prepped for use in a later project.

Once I had a layout, I had to decide whether to just sew them together or add sashing.  I opted for sashing but wasn't sure what I wanted for that.  I wanted to keep the colors and patterns muted -- my living room is informal but it's not only a man cave!  Eventually I  found a camouflage fabric that channeled all the shirt background colors and surprisingly was also a knit! 

Laying out the images from the shirts again, I found I didn't need wide sashing.  What was used varies in width but are no wider than 2" (cut) in any area.  Once I interfaced and added the sashing, another motif got eliminated because I swapped in another small motif and then I didn't need the additional length:

The t-shirt interfacing makes the knit fabric thick so when sewn together, seams were pressed open to reduce bulk.  I had a remnant piece of "Star Trek" flannel I had picked up earlier this year and between the fact that it is one of my DH's favorite shows and I love flannel quilt backs, this was obviously destined for this project!

With the now heavier knits and flannel for the back,  I knew I needed a lightweight batting.  The lightest batting I already had in house that was close to the size of the project was some fusible fleece. 

Fortunately the top was not wide so I could cut this up and "Frankenstein" it back together to have a piece of batting the right dimensions for the project.  After picking out threads from the stash for the quilting (sorry for the fuzzy picture):

....and once it was all layered up (easy since the fleece batting was 2-sided fusible), you know what's next:  how to quilt it?  

I started by "stitching in the ditch" around the sashing to both stabilize the top and define the sashing areas.  After that, I took this as an opportunity to try get in some Free-motion practice.  There's a little bit of everything here:  On the Olive shirt I did Stippling.  On the Black shirt I did a free-motion rendition of a design from a pantograph I saw on-line.  For the big "Call of Duty" header I just outlined the logo and did some organic (no marking) free-motion vertical line background fill:

Although you can't see them in this picture, on the black shirt there are some minute "pokies" of the white backing thread coming up to the top.  At first I was a little concerned about that but I ended up liking that they mirrored the "flecked off" condition of the t-shirt motif!  (That t-shirt is for Microsoft OS (operating system) 2 so you KNOW how old THAT shirt is!!)

For the pocket piece I took the back of the "Call of Duty" shirt, interfaced it, folded it in half and quilted it with a piece of the leftover fleece sandwiched between the halves.  I did the same straight line fill for the pocket but did it horizontally and with a walking foot because I had trouble maneuvering the smaller section by free-motion (stitched a few lines, struggled with it, ripped them out and changed machine feet and method).  When I attached it to the top, I stitched it down in two places to create three pockets: 

On the light grey basketball shirt,  the printed motif is raised and rather rubbery so I decided to stick to quilting just around the edge of it with a "rounded rays" design I had used before on this quilt.  On the black Kung Fu shirt, the motif and words were outlined and then echo quilted.  On the small light grey section (the later addition which was also cut from the basketball shirt), it was supposed to be basketballs and pebbling but by this time I was rushing to finish this up so the balls didn't get conveyed too well.  Oh well....

Once the big sections were done, I went back in with the walking foot and stitched about a quarter inch away from the sashing seams and in some of the wider sashing sections also stitched down the middle of them. 

I bound the whole thing with more of the camouflage fabric although this time with no interfacing, so it's applied as double fold binding.  I actually had to do two different widths of binding: 2-1/2" for the three sides and 3" around the pocket area since it was six layers thick.  The binding was attached by machine, front to back and then glue basted onto the back to make it easier to do the front finishing "stitching in the ditch".    I did however have to hand sew it when I overlapped the 3" binding over the ends of the 2-1/2" binding with a fake mitered "join".  

And with that, this one is in the can!  Onto some seasonal decor projects!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Move It Forward Monday: The T-shirt Quilt Is Almost Done!


This Monday it looks like I'll be moving forward to a finish!  I finally got in gear on the quilting for  the T-shirt Couch Quilt this weekend and was up early this morning and got the rest of it done:

The pocket for the remote and TV guide has also been quilted and attached.  Now the only thing left to do is bind it.  I thought I was going to have some things to do today for our Tenant's Association meeting later this week but our President called and she's got the flyer distribution covered so I'm free to quilt for the rest of the day.  Woo hoo!
Making this quick post and then I'm going to take a lunch break so I can head over to see what everyone else is Moving Forward This Monday over at Emily Bailey's  Em's Scrapbag blog.  Then it'll be on to the binding!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Moving It Forward Monday -- Another QOV Top Done!

I've been working on two QOV tops for the last month.  I completed one (you can see it here) but the second one, "Cosmic Valor", needed some additional thinking to get borders onto it with the fabric I had left.  The good news is that over the weekend, I was able to come up with a simple alternative to the patterned borders that worked with my fabric constraints.  I finished them up today so now it's a flimsy up on the Design Wall!

Pattern:  "Patriotic Cosmic Stars" from Love of Quilting May/June 2016

Now I've got to find backing fabric for this.  I'm loving the open spaces around the center and between the star points.  I could definitely see potential custom quilting designs for this.  However, I'd also love to get both quilts  done by Veteran's Day in November so I don't know if doing that (custom work or the quilting in general) is going to happen.

I've also got a lot of little Fall decorating projects I want to get done this month so we'll see how far I get with these.  For now though, feeling really good about "Moving It Forward" so linking up with everyone at Em Bailey's Em's Scrapbag blog and all the other design walls at Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times.   Happy Fall, 'yall!



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Get It Done! September Recap, October Goals

Well folks, the year is moving quickly to a close!  September is now in the can and it's on to the year-end holiday season trifecta: October - Halloween, November - Thanksgiving and December - Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza.  Although my September "short" list isn't as "done" as hoped, there was at least reasonable progress on the goals for last month:

1.  QOV:  Finish "Combat Gratitudes":  Now that I'm in the QOV groove, I want to get the center finished, the borders on, find a backing and get this quilted for donation.  I understand that all that alone might take all month and for once I'm prepared for accepting that possibility!

 It's A Flimsy!
I already have backing for this but need to check for batting.  Not sure if I'll get to this right away because I have other priorities for this month.  On the other hand, I'd love to have this ready for Veteran's Day in November.

2:  QOV #2:  I have another QOV design and fabric I'd like to get pieced this month.  Haven't fully evaluated yet how much piecing it will take so although being listed here, if I don't get to sewing it now, it'll be formally mapped out for the October list.   However, if I can get it set up, I'm also thinking that it can serve as a leader/ender project while I'm doing the finishing work for the project above.

The center is together, still needs borders!
I did get to start this as a leader/ender and think I might have gotten further with it had I not been sick the week before last and the community activities commitments ramped up this past week.  I'm also low on fabric on this one so am going to have to think about how to proceed with the borders.  As noted previously, thinking/design time means additional time will need to be built into the project scheduling.  Also wishing for a November finish on this one. 

3. T-Shirt Quilt:  I really need to get back to this one since I need it for decorating which makes it a high priority.  I realized a while back that I had not made progress on this one because it involves designing the layout and as noted earlier I have to give myself time to think in that case. 

Didn't get to this one this month.
Part of the layout issues had to do with what to use for sashing between the t-shirt "blocks".  The good news is that during the month I did find a fabric that may work for that so I'm hoping to move this along now. 
Not sure what to do for the list for October:  I know a long list usually doesn't work for me but with the season change and us hosting the holiday next month, I really want to focus on decorating projects.  Then again, as noted above, I'd also like to move the QOVs into the final stages.  I'm going to post a long list but with the realistic advance view that a lot of things might not get done.
1.  T-Shirt Quilt:  Since this is a decorating project, it can start the list off this month. 
2.  Fall Decorating Projects:  Not even going to list them all out but let's just say if I can try to get to one a week, I'd be doing good.
3. Halloween Quilt:  This one was started on last year but progress was slow.  This time I know I need to set it up as a leader/ender if I'm to make any progress on it.  Would love to "put it to bed" (pun intended) this month if I can! 
4. QOV #1 and #2:  Already noted that I'll be looking to nudge either or both of these to a finish if I can.
Hedging my bets?  You betcha'!  Here's hoping I'll be Charmed by my projects this month rather than Bewitched!  Hope the cooling weather is bringing you inside to your sewing machine.  This is a great time of year to grab a quilt for hand quilting or binding on your lap! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cosmic Valor blocks done!

When I left off at last Monday's "Move It Forward Monday" post, I had big plans to get the two Quilts of Valor (QOV) projects to the top stage by the end of the week or over the weekend. 

That is until I was sidelined by the worst head cold I've experienced in a long while!  DH had it the week before and wouldn't you know it, as soon as he got better, it knocked me for a loop!  It took up residence in my head Wednesday evening (thank goodness I had  done the laundry that afternoon!) and I wound up in bed for pretty much all of last Thursday and Friday.  I was able to sit up out of bed by Saturday and on Sunday felt well enough to go back to the machine -- but only long enough to stitch one "Cosmic Valor" block!  Between stitching together the "parts" of the block and then partial seaming all those parts together, each one takes me about an hour to construct.

However, yesterday and today I was finally feeling fairly normal again so focused on finishing up the rest of the blocks (I had sewn a few more before I got sick):

Eighteen blocks all done!
Whew!  Next step, cutting setting triangles and constructing the center.  Still have the borders on "Combat Gratitude" to work on as well.  Maybe I can finish the tops by the end of this weekend? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

It's Almost Here -- Bloggers Quilt Festival - Fall 2016!!


Blogger's Quilt Festival is hosted by Martingale author Amy Ellis and provides a great opportunity to see what other quilters around the world are making.  Participants can link up a blog post to Amy's website and observers can click the links to view their beautiful projects and discover new blogs to follow. 

Since 2009 the festival had been blog focused.  However, back in January Amy had announced changes to the festival.  The annual spring BQF was moved to Instagram and is now the IGQF.  The Fall BQF has remained as blog-based but is now held in September rather than in late October/early November when the big Houston Quilt Market is held.  So if you are like me and don't do social media, this festival is your chance to participate or view quilts that you may not have seen before!

The quilts be will linked together in entry categories based on the style of quilt:  Mini, Small, Large, Applique, Art, Hand Quilted, Home Machine Quilted, Modern, Original Design, ROYGBIV and Scrappy.  You can enter a project whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced quilter so if you have something you'd like to showcase, please post a link so we can all check it out!  Just like at many live quilt shows, part of the fun is that you can also play Quilt Show Judge and vote on your favorites with prizes to be awarded to the winners once the festival ends.

Quilters can add their links (and it must be a new post, not an old one) in the appropriate category September 19 - 24.   You will be able to vote for your Viewer's Choice favorites September 24 - 29.  The sponsors will award prizes to the winners on September 30.

So put it on your calendar to head on over to Amy's website on Monday and take a look!!

P.S.  If you happen to see this post after the festival has ended, don't worry!  Amy leaves the links up to view all the wonderful entries so you always have a chance to see what you've missed!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Moving It Forward Monday: The Gadget Addendum

As noted on my "Moving It Forward" post, I've had a fun month so far with QOV projects:

My word for the year is Efficient and for me part of achieving that is finding good tools to help get tasks done quick.  So far this month, this "Gadget Fanatic", had lot of fun with old tools, relatively new tools, newly purchased tools and "first time used" tools!!

Starting off, the quilt in the center of the picture above I call "Combat Gratitudes" and it is a great QOV mystery quilt design by Vickie Welsh of Field Trips in Fiber.  It is made with only four different blocks, all finishing at 8".  So all of these:

Were cut out with just these:

I used the Accuquilt Go! Value die for 2-1/2"(2" finished) HST triangles and the 4-1/2" (4" finished) HST triangles die.  Ever since I bought my Go! cutter, I've looked at projects to determine if I could "Make It Go!" and this was definitely one of those.  In the pattern, Vickie made the blocks with the HST corners using the "sew and flip a square" method.  However, I just cut extra 2-1/2" HST triangles and laid them on the corner of 4-1/2" squares lining up the 1/4" sewing line to the edges of the square and sewing them on with my 1/4" foot.  While I could have used the Value die to also cut the squares I needed, I used my trusty old and well used June Tailor Shape Cut template.  I was able to cut both the strips needed for the triangle dies and to sub-cut additional strips into the 2-1/2" (2" finished) squares and  4-1/2" (4" finished) squares needed to make the blocks. 
Since I used this project as a leader/ender for another one, there was A LOT of chain piecing going on while working on both.  For that, another big help and a "new to me" gadget was this:

It's called the Chain Ripper which I ordered from Gay Bomers at Sentimental Stitches.  The story here is that when my MIL was here on her last trip back in July, we were constantly searching my "quilt space" (aka the dining room) for seam rippers.  I don't know about the rest of you but for some reason I never use the seam ripper that comes with my sewing machines -- I hold them as sacred!  I know that at one time I had bought two extra seam rippers for general use but for some reason one is missing.  After working on blocks with my MIL, I was thinking that it was finally time to invest in a Gypsy Cutting Gizmo, the big purple standing seam ripper that I've seen around for a few years.  When my MIL left, I was just about ready to order one and then also go buy another regular seam ripper the next time I went to the fabric store.  However just then I got an email from Gay highlighting the Chain Ripper and the replacement set of two!  I liked the idea of being able to replace the ripper blade in the stand if it got dull so I decided to try it.

Gotta say, I love it!!  It's small enough to sit in the throat space of my machine so stays handy when chain piecing but out of the way when stitching.  The base is small and light weight so when you need to rip, you can also pick it up and use it in the traditional manner without needing to remove it from the base.  However, you can also remove the ripper from the base if you need to use it away from your machine.  At days end, you can also flip the point down into the base, handy for those of you with small children or cats who may hang around your machine.  I also love that I now have two extra rippers in the event any get misplaced.

When "Combat Gratitudes" became the main project, a new leader/ender was started: my "Cosmic Valor" blocks:

These blocks may look complicated but are actually made up of very simple units all of which were cut out with only the two tools seen here:

Like with the "Gratitudes" project, while I could have used my Go! Value die for the 4-1/2" and 2-1/2" squares needed for the blocks, it is just as easy for me to cut those with the Shape Cut.  The 4-1/2" tall triangles needed for this block are given as a template in the pattern (which is "Patriotic Cosmic Stars" in the May/June 2016 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine) but it turned out that the shape was exactly the same as a long owned but never used tool in my arsenal:  the side triangle from the Tri-Recs Ruler set!  This was one of those gadgets I bought early on because it made one of those basic block units that I thought I'd use a lot.  Turns out that has not been the case, although I have used a companion ruler to the Tri-Recs, the Tri-Mate ruler which I talked about in this post
The Tri-Recs rulers work a lot like the Easy Angle Rulers in that you can cut a strip and then flip the ruler up and down to continuously cut the shapes you need (you can see that and all three rulers demonstrated in this video).  I needed triangles straight and reversed and was able to do both just by what side of the fabric was facing up while cutting.  Layering up to four width of fabric (WOF) strips of fabric at a time meant the cutting went fairly fast for the number of triangles I needed.  It should be noted that if you want to "Make This Go!",  Accuquilt does have "Triangle in a Square dies" that will cut these shapes and the dies come in 4"   , 3" and 2" finished sizes.
Here's hoping that now that my Tri-Recs have been christened, in the near future I'll get around to making one of the many "One Day" projects that will use them.  Do you have a favorite gadget?  Let me know what makes your quilting tasks go smoother or faster!