Saturday, August 31, 2019

Three Cheers For the Red, White & Blue! --- Part 6 and The Finale!

As August comes to a close, so does my Summer of Red, White and Blue Projects!  This is the third RWB project to make it to the "Finshed Or Not Fridays" Link Up, now hosted by Alycia over at her Alycia Quilts/Quilty Girl blog.

After spending so much time on my last project, the "Star Spangled Runner", it was a relief to get a quicker one completed.  I had hoped to get this done to post yesterday but I still had some quilting to do on it today along with all the finishing stuff.  So the "Salute To Stars" Table Mat made it just under the wire for the end of August!

Like the runner, this is another free pattern from American Patchwork and Quilting magazine.  As the pattern notes, it is easy to make the original design larger or smaller by adding or subtracting blocks.  The free pattern is actually the "color option" of a larger lap quilt that appeared in the magazine.  I made mine with even fewer blocks in order to fit the 18" square table I want to use it on:

I also recently saw a pattern  made up of the same basic blocks but in a larger size and laying them out in a way that creates a long runner.  A very versatile design indeed!

I opted to make a slight change to the design.  The original quilt used Flying Geese blocks to create an outer border around the center of the top.  I opted to go for a 3-D substitute and use a Continuous Band of Nesting Prairie Points instead!   I've only used this technique once before as the "binding" finish for a Feathered Star wall hanging way back in 2003 in my early quilting days.

I learned about the technique from a pamphlet --- one of those "Free with Subscription" gifts I got back when I started my Quilters Newsletter subscription.  I still miss that magazine!!

Even though Flying Geese are my absolute favorite block, I liked the idea of being able to make the triangles float above the striped outer border.  They are easy to make too -- only requiring a strip for each set of points, some marking and cutting (with scissors for a change!), folding and pressing.

There are a number of videos around the web showing how to do the technique.  I also found a PDF from the Utah State University Cooperative Extension (!!) showing how to do two-color and piped variations.  The two sides of the finished band get folded together and the band gets sewn in between the turned under edges of the top and backing.  In my case, I sandwiched it between the center of the top and an outer under-border.  

I had to "Frankenstein" some batting scraps for this and then decided to quilt it with some simple, straight forward grid quilting.  It was easy to do since I just had to follow the lines or edges of the piecing and the striped border print and it could all be done with a walking foot.

When it came time to finish the quilt edges, I was going to bind it with a traditional binding but then this week, Bernina's "We All Sew" blog put out a bunch of tutorials on various binding techniques.  One of them was for an "invisible faced binding", a technique I've seen but haven't tried before.  In addition, the way they did it, it provided a convenient label area and hanging sleeves (in the form of triangle corners) as part of the process so I was definitely in for that!

This was one of those RARE times, I was willing to hand sew down a binding!  If I want to hang this up in the future, I only sewed down the center edge of the triangles --- I left them open at each corner so I could slide in a dowel rod for support to hang it.  Of course, this won't be completely done until I write in the label information on the triangles!

I've been playing in my RWB stash all summer so all of the fabrics for this have been sitting on my cutting table while I worked on each project.  Needless to say repeats abound in the fabrics I used for all of my last few projects.  I had cut the squares for the star fabrics from the some of the same fabrics used for my last QOV top and the blue Prairie Point fabric and the striped print underneath it were also used for the corner squares and borders on it too.

And speaking of QOVs, now that my RWB Summer is done, it's time to focus on the other things I was supposed to be working on this summer --- namely, getting them quilted!  Well, I have that and another small (not RWB) desk mat to finish for a gift.  I admit I also have a new project that I want to embark on this weekend.  Thank goodness it's a long weekend!!

But before all of that, I'm heading back over to Alycia's to finish checking out what others are working on or celebrating finishing this week.  Link up and show us what you got (that we will want to make too)!!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Three Cheers For the Red, White & Blue! --- Part 5

First off, it's appropo that I get to post this finish this week because Alycia of the Alycia Quilts - Quiltygirl blog is picking up the reins for "Finished Or Not Fridays" today from Myra over at Busy Hands Quilts!

If you have not visited Alycia's blog before, I encourage you to do so --- especially if you are interested in Quilts of Valor.

Alycia is a longarm quilter who also serves as the Colorado Coordinator for the QOV foundation.  On her blog you will see so many great QOV quilts.  Heartwarming pictures (taken by Alycia who is also a photographer!) of the ceremonies when the quilts are awarded are always in her blogging queue.  You are also just in time to start picking up the instructions for Alycia's latest QOV mystery quilt series called "The Lone Rider"!  The fabric requirements are posted here and the first clue will be posted on her blog on September 4th.  Thanks to Alycia for picking up the link-up mantel for all of us!!

As for me:  Woo hoo!  My "Star Spangled Runner" is finally finished!!


Backing and Label Area

This is the "Star Spangled Banner", a free pattern from American Patchwork and Quilting magazine.  I made it with four blocks instead of the five used in the pattern because that was all I needed to fit our diningroom sideboard (really an old dresser).  The logs were cut with the Accuquilt Go! Log Cabin die.  As I like to do, the backing has an area pieced into it for me to write in the label information.  The stars appliqued on the front and on the label area were also die cut with fusible web attached using an Accuquilt die.

I should have been finished with this one a couple of weeks ago but it was held up by the quilting --- or more correctly, the decisions that went into choosing how to quilt this.  In my previous post about this I had previewed some quilting designs and was set to look through a few more books for ideas.  That led me to scrap all of my previous ideas and come up with a new one.  The log cabin blocks are so linear and I really wanted to "quilt against type" and try to either incorporate or just use designs with curves.  My finished stitch plan for the blocks and borders ended up to be this:

Up to now I had been sketching on the preview paper with a dry erase marker I keep in the kitchen with a board I use to make grocery lists.  The great thing about the Back-To-School period is that everyone has great sales on office/school supplies.  I was able to pick up some new dry erase markers at Dollar Tree that can now be dedicated for use with my preview paper and be kept stored with it.  Sweet!

With the stitching plan done, it was time to layer it.  The batting choice was simple:  about this time last year, Jinny Beyer had a sale on Quilter's Dream Select batting, precut 18" wide and on sold by the yard.  This is one of my favorite battings and my preferred loft (although she also carries it in the thinner Request loft).  At the time, I was comtemplating making a bunch of runners for the sideboard and since they need to finish 17" wide, this was a perfect fit for my plans!

So with batting already in house, it was a quick layering especially since as a smaller quilt, I could spray baste it.  Next up was to decide on which threads to stitch it with.  I started with stablilizing and additional rounds of decorative stitching in gold around the stars, ditch stitching with red around the borders and with blue between the blocks.  All of that was done with white in the bobbin.  However, when it came time to decide on what to use across the top, I was stumped.  I generally don't like to change thread color if I can help it, especially if I'm quilting a continuous design.  With every color I looked at, I felt that the contrasting thread along with the contrasting curved stitch design would overshadow the log cabins too much.  It took way longer than it should have to remember that I had another option: (invisible) monofilament thread!

I keep a supply of monofilament thread primarily for use to attach bindings but I have used it for the general quilting in cases like this where you need to stitch over a lot of different colors.  There was a time when experts like Harriet Hargrave and Diane Gaudynski promoted the use of monofilament as your primary quilting thread (although now,  Diane primarily uses silk thread).  I had purchased cones of  Superior's Monopoly in both clear and smoke a while back during a sale because I heard it was a great "low sheen" brand of monofilament.  I have another project that I had been considering using it for so was glad to get a chance to try it out on this extensively.  Nova the Nouvelle, which is a fairly new-to-me machine, stitched really smooth this round and had no trouble with the monofilament thread.  I'm pleased with her performance!

Close-up on the quilting

Edited To Add:

Close-up on how I stitched the Stars

Once the quilting was done, I already had the binding picked out -- the same red print used on the short side borders.  This was also another chance to put a new quilty gadget to use!

I had purchased this little ditty a couple of months ago when Green Fairy Quilts had it on sale.  After I press my bindings, I usually would wind them around empty toilet paper rolls.  I could then hang them on the lever that raises the seat on my quilt chair and feed the binding from there to the quilt while I applied it.  The challenge was to not pull the binding too fast otherwise the roll would slide off the lever.

This handy gadget helps wind it up when I make the binding and then can be attached to my sewing table and feeds it way more smoothly than the chair system did as I apply it to the quilt.  I also bought couple of extra winding rolls in the event I want to make up a few bindings in advance.

Glad to have cleared this project bottleneck and now can get the quilt traffic flowing smoothly again!  So with this one done, I want to get going on the other RWB Table Mat I have fabrics picked out for and a gift quilt that's already in progress and that I promised to finish by month's end next week.  I hope I can keep things moving!

Head over to Alycia's to see what else everyone has brought to the finish line this week as August soon comes to a close!  Even better, post your finished or not-nearly-finished-project and let us see what's occupying your quilt studio right now!

8/24/19 Edited to Add:  Also linking up with Amy Ellis through email for her "One Thing Challenge" Follow-up.  I had started using her weekly prompts to help keep me on track when making my most recent QOV top.  When that was finished this project was reported on (almost a month ago to the day) when I had finished this runner's top.  So now I can check in and say that it's competely done and in the can!