Monthly Archives: November 2011

Project 2011-34: Table Runner

On Friday, Michael, the son of our good friends Barb and Francis, graduated from McMaster University with his PhD degree.  On Saturday, Barb and Francis held a dinner party for about 50 family and friends to celebrate Michael’s accomplishment.  In lieu of gifts, they asked Dan Bailey, a well-known local auctioneer and long-time friend to conduct an auction of donated items with all proceeds going to Autism research, Michael’s preferred charity.

When I dropped off some chafing dishes on Thursday, Barb showed me the donated auction items.  Inspired by Michael’s selflessness, I offered to contribute one of the Christmas table runners I had recently finished.  However, on Saturday afternoon, I decided to whip up an extra runner for the auction.   I knew that if I used some of the orphan blocks I had on hand, I could have a runner complete by the 4:30 departure time from home.

These two wonky four patch blocks came to me in October in a scrap bag when the Loon Country Quilters Guild cleaned out the guild storage bins.  I’m a scrap quilter, so I am always pleased to receive a bag of scraps!  These two blocks  seemed to go well with some navy fabric in my stash, so I quickly assembled them into this runner.  I quilted feathered wreaths and a feathered border with a navy thread.  The binding, made from the same fabric as the backing, was applied to the back and machine top stitched on the front.   I used a matching navy thread on top and an invisible poly thread in the bobbin.  The table topper went together fairly quickly without any problems and I finished with just enough time left to get myself ready for the party.  While my husband waited for me at the door, I  stole a moment to take this photo of the table topper.

The dinner was delicious, the party was fun and the auction was a success with both table runners raising a nice sum for Autism.

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Project 2011-33: The Last of the Shoe Fly Blocks Table Runner

There were still three Shoe Fly blocks left and my cutting table still held the fabrics of the third table runner, so what is an efficient quilter to do?  Why not make another one?  And I did!  The fabrics, dimensions, and thread are all the same.  The only difference was a slight variation in the quilting.  I was not overly keen in the stippling in the plaid fabrics, so I substituted a ribbon meander on the plaid fabrics.    So with just a little extra effort and time, I have another project done!

The photos of these two runners make me realize how using my design wall could have helped me improve the project.  The setting triangles were from one large square cut into quarters.  This of course makes the dominant red stripe quite obvious as it runs horizontal in two setting triangles and vertical in the other two.  Given that I made two identical runners, I could have easily switched the triangles so that in  one runner, they all are horizontal and the other all vertical.  I did not notice this while working on them, but in the photo, it jumps out at me.  So next time I am using plaids for setting triangles,  hopefully, I will remember this learning moment!

Even though these projects are posted here on separate days, they were all made in a production fashion.  On Monday evening, I made all of the tops.  On Tuesday evening, I quilted them and machine bound one of them.  On Wednesday, I got up early to trim and bind the remaining three.    Because I am currently out of town for six days (4 days of work, 2 days of fun!), no quilting will happen for six days.   That shortens the time left to complete my goal by almost a week!  Yikes!  Only six weeks left to meet my target.    Now I am really glad I did four smaller projects this week, making good use of the only three days of quilting time available!  I really wanted to get a large quilt completed so I could take it with me on my trip to hand-stitch the binding during the down-time.  But time was limited and  I did not manage to do that.  (Big sigh!)   However, when I return, I expect to have pent-up quilting enthusiasm that will power my progress!

Goal Status:  33 done and 19 more to go.  Feels good to be in the teen numbers!  With six weeks remaining, I have to finish three projects per week.  That leaves no time for dithering and pondering.  I’ll resolve to be decisive and efficient in my use of time.   Of course, I will also need to take good care of myself, sleeping well, getting exercise and eating healthfully to be in top form!   I’ve heard that a glass of wine makes quilting go very well.  Is that true?

Project 2011-32: Another Shoefly Christmas Table Runner

With six left-over Shoe Fly blocks, and unwilling to put them into my orphan blocks shoebox, I had to find a way to use them up.  I pulled quite a few fabrics from my stash, but only two of them had any possibility of coordinating with these blocks.  After adding the plaid fabric, it was so dark that I had to lighten it up and tie in the border fabric.  I added a narrow 1/4 inch flange that seemed to both frame the dark center and strengthen the small gold stripe in the plaid while pulling out more of the gold in the border fabric.  I was surprised at how well they went together.  A rather unusual combination for me, but still quite pleasing.

This was loaded in sequence on the long-arm and quilted with the same gold thread.   It has a feather border, stippling in the plaid and line dancing in the Shoe Fly blocks.   I’m happy with how it looks.  It will be a hostess gift for my cousin Stephany in Royal Oak, Michigan where I will be staying this weekend.

Goal Status:  32 Quilt Projects complete and 20 more to go!

Project 2011-31: Shoefly Christmas Table Runner

While searching for the blocks to make the Christmas Table Runner for my cousin, I also found another UFO box with some triangle strips I had made about 8 years ago.  These were left over from a Christmas table runner gift I made for my friend Pat using the Fast Patch method by Anita Halloran.  It was my first time using that method and I ended up making far more strips than I actually needed.

Looking over these strips and the accompanying coordinating fabric, I realized I could quickly make up another table runner.  I used every bit of fabric and strips in the box resulting in 14 finished shoefly blocks.    I set them together with a small red/green/gold print.  The layout is simple and very easy to sew up.

Because I already had the first runner ready to quilt,  I just loaded a very long piece of backing and then quilted this one in sequence.  Actually, I quilted four table runners, one after another, using the same backing fabric and thread.   Even though I used the same backing and thread, the two runners look distinctly different with their different fabrics and shapes.

If you look at the backing fabric in this photo, you can see that I pieced several pieces of fabric together to form one long piece of backing.  This ecru backing was left over fabric from a project made when my 25 year old daughter was 3 years old.  I’m not going to calculate the number of years it was sitting in my stash, but I am quite sure it is way past time to use it up!

Using the same burnished gold metallic thread and an ecru Bottom Line thread in the bobbin, I quilted a simple feathered borders and sashings.  Since I was trying to get them done quickly, I pondered doing a simple meander in the blocks.

After doing this test patch,  I felt the contrast was not appealing with the simple meander.  I was not interested in changing threads, especially after struggling to get the tension balanced.   So since the thread path would show very clearly, I decided to make the quilting a bit fancier, but still trying to avoid the extra work of stitching in the ditch and ruler work.  Nooooo!  That is too much work for a table runner!    So I decided to use a Line Dancing pattern from Diana Phillips’ book.

The line dancing looked great on the solid green patchwork and added a very special element to the table runner.  I really like how it turned out!

The binding was attached to the back and top stitched on front with a dark green fabric on top and a clear poly thread in the bobbin.    I think I am going to need to embrace machine binding if I am going to complete the remaining projects by December 31st.  Perhaps I’ll save the hand binding for the very special projects.

Current status towards my goal:  31 projects complete, 21 to go, and one more cardboard pizza box empty and tossed into the recycle bin.  Yeah!

Project 2011-30: Double Pinwheel Xmas Table Runner

About 13 years ago, as part of  my Toastmaster training, I was completing an advanced manual on sales presentations.  I had to sell my audience on an idea.  I figured that it would be a tougher challenge to actually sell something.  Since I rarely take the easy road, I set myself a goal to sell a physical product to the club members.    So the evening before my speech,  I made about 20 sets of potholders.  My speech was just before Thanksgiving, so I described the perfectly set table, the gleaming china and crystal, the perfectly cooked turkey and the proud hostess bringing the food to the table with …Yikes…Old ratty potholders..one of the most used and abused items in the kitchen.  I had brought my own horrible potholders to demonstrate the ugly horror of old potholders.  Then I painted the picture of how much better Thanksgiving would feel with new potholders.  In addition, they would have the personal satisfaction of helping their club, as 100% of the proceeds from each pair purchased for $8.00 would go directly to the Waterloo Silver Tongues Toastmaster Club.    I did sell them all and the club treasurer was delighted!  (So was I!)

I don’t recall why I had three blocks left over.  But being neat and tidy, I packaged up the three blocks, the prepared backings and the left-over binding and they have lived in a UFO pizza-style box ever since.

This weekend, I am visiting my cousin  in Michigan and Thursday  is her birthday.  Stephanie, from Grawn, Michigan,  is warmth and generosity personified and is exactly the kind of person I like to shower with gifts.  Although not a quilter, but she loves all things quilted and is always raves about anything I make.  She is great for my ego!

I decided to make Stephanie a Christmas table runner, but did not have a lot of extra time today.  Looking through my UFOs, I found these blocks ready made and perfect for a table runner.  There was enough fabric in the box for the setting triangles and enough matching binding to finish it off.    I’m delighted to have a finished project with what felt like only a small investment of time.

I quilted the runner with a thread called Heavy Metal – a burnished gold colour and used Bottom Line in the bobbin.  Metallic threads are fussy to get the tension balanced, so I suffered a lot of breaking top thread and snarls on the backing of my test strips until I got it to a happy place.  I rarely touch my bobbin tension, but I had to tighten the bobbin tension because too much top tension simply snapped the thread.  However, once the tension was balanced, it quilted up very quickly.

I feathered the border and blocks and did a feathered arc in the setting triangles.  This would be called custom quilting, but because the project is so small, it did not take much time.  There is a lot of gold in the red and green print, so the thread blends well and adds a bit of sparkly. I figure a table runner gets a lot of close, although unconscious examination.   When sit at my table, having tea and conversation with a friend, my eyes roam over my table toppers, mostly with a warm feeling of pride, but sometimes more like a quilt judge.  Hopefully, my guests’ eyes are not as analytical as mine.  When I see the minor flaws, my mind starts thinking,  “How can I do that better next time?”   With this one, I like how it turned out!

I attached the binding on the back and top-stitched on the front.  It looks good and I am happy to have another project complete.

Status:  30 done and 22 more projects to complete by December 31st!  To celebrate, I tossed the pizza box into the recycle bin.  I aim to have my UFOs down to a much more manageable level, without the need for a stack of pizza boxes hiding UFOs.

Project 2011-29: Melanie’s Quilt

Melanie, a darling coworker had this quilt top made for her by her paternal grandmother.  It was the last quilt top her grandmother made.  She brought it to work the day I retired from my day job.  My new contract-based work has taken quite a bit of my time, so I set this aside until I was finished one of my major contracts.   I quilted and bound it in March 2011 and Melanie came yesterday to my lovely tourist town to pick up the quilt.  I got permission from her to post the photo on my blog, so here you see it.

I have seen this pattern made up in other quilts, but did not know the name of the pattern.  Jenny Day of South Dakota tells me this is an Atkinson Design called Happy Hour.  I did a Google Image search and can see clearly that is indeed the pattern.   (Thanks, Jenny!)  It is very graphic and appealing.

Melanie selected the fabrics and her grandmother then made the top.  Using the technology of photos and email, we chose the the pattern and thread together.   The pantograph choice, Keryn Emmerson’s Leaf Pile, softened the angular lines and tied all of the colors together.

Here is a photo of the process of auditioning the thread:

I like to puddle a bit of each thread on the quilt top to see how the thread will look over several blocks.  My first thought was a tan colored thread, but it did not look nearly as good as the ultimate choice.

This olive green thread blended well with all of the fabrics, softly showing the leaf pattern against the lighter fabrics, blending with the mediums and surprisingly, also showing well against the dark fabrics.  Thread choice can make or break a quilt.  In this case, it definitely enhanced it.

The finished quilt looks wonderful.  Now Melanie and her partner Deb have the task of picking new paint color for the room where this quilt will be living.

Project 2011-28: Double Pinwheels

This blue double pinwheel quilt was my oldest UFO.  The quilt started with my making a large set of double pinwheel blocks in 1997.  These were my second set of blocks ever.  I made them when I was blissfully unaware of the need for accuracy in seams.  When I got them done, I could not decide how to set them together, so I set them aside.  During my summer vacation in 2006, I dug them out of the cupboard to finish the quilt.  By then, I had learned a great deal about accuracy in quilting, so the inaccuracies and mismatched points were quite glaring to me.  To get the blocks to play well together and look somewhat similar, I floated the blocks on point and then used a squaring ruler to trim them to an identical size.

The sashing is a blue and white striped shirting cotton and the sashing blocks are a lovely batik that I purchased in Barrie Ontario.  The finished top was a very accurate 84′ by 84″ square.  I pondered adding a border.  Pondering takes time!  So finally in Nov 2011, I decided to simply quilt it as is and add the binding.    The five years of thinking time must have been worth it.  It turned out great!  I quilted it with the CircleLord Swirlz template and hand stitched the binding.

The finished quilt goes into my wedding stash.  Someday, a bride will be very happy to have this monochromatic, restful quilt.