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Herringbone Quilt

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Herringbone Quilt, by StitchfiedWell, this one took a lot longer than expected! I started this one back in March (!!!), and the recipient is now over a year old. So, yeah, I’m running way way behind on baby quilts.

I designed this quilt to use up a jellyroll that I had leftover from my niece’s quilt. I cut 7.5″ x 2.5″ strips, and (over cut ) 7.5″ x 1.25″ strips of white, and combined them in a herringbone pattern. I squared up after each white strip, so that the white strips finished at a half inch. All the squaring up helped to keep things straight(er), but made for slow piecing… and some unintended exercise! Sit to stitch, stand to press, walk to cutting table to trim, repeat.

I had every intention of quilting this one on my vintage machines, but I just couldn’t get the lines straight enough. I tried a walking foot and one of several vintage quilting feet, but they really couldn’t compete with my Janome’s Accufeed. Some day I hope to master quilting on a vintage machine, but in the meantime, I’m very glad that I have my Janome as backup. If you have any tips for quilting on a VSM, I would love to hear them!

Happy sewing!

Little Lady Star

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I decided to take a little break from my Economy Blocks this week. I’m up to one hundred blocks (!!), and I can’t decide whether or not to keep going. Putting off that decision in favor of making a new quilt top seemed like the obvious choice. Besides, I know three babies who are due in early spring and they each need a baby quilt!

My design for this quilt top was inspired by Jeni Baker’s Giant Vintage Star Quilt, but mine is a slightly modified (and hugely enlarged!) version of the Two Colors Star from the Solstice Stars Quilt Along over at Fresh Lemons. I used a rose print from Glimma and a silvery grey print from Bella, which I think are the perfect pair for a baby girl quilt. The colors are feminine and dainty — perfect for my soon-to-be niece. If any baby was going to be a little lady from day one, it’s this one. (Note: not a quality my own offspring will be sporting!).

Piecing the quilt top was the perfect project to break in my new featherweight, too. I am so smitten with this little machine. I was finally able to finish restoring her, and wow. Just wow. I’m making it a point to spoil the old girl whenever I can — my most recent acquisition being the stork scissors you can see below. But I’m getting side tracked…

Featherweight making HSTs

The block requires eight (8) half square triangles in the dominant color, and four (4) half-square triangles in the secondary color. Here’s a mini tutorial in case anyone wants to make one of these for themselves. Requires a half-yard of each of color, and maybe 2.5 yards of the background color (don’t quote me on the background color though, I keep a huge bolt of white around). Yields one baby quilt (45″ x 45″). In my book, it’s a perfect size for tummy time, playing at the park, or tenting the stroller.

Cutting Instructions:

  • 9-inch square of dominant color (rose) — Cut Four (4)
  • 9-inch square of accent color (silver) — Cut Two (2)
  • 9-inch square of back ground color (white) — Cut Six (6)
  • 8-inch square of dominant color — Cut Four (2)
  • 8-inch square of accent color — Cut Four (4)
  • 15.5 inch square of background color — Cut Four (4)

Piecing Instructions:

  • Match one colored 9-inch square and one white 9-inch square, right sides together.
  • Use a pencil to draw a diagonal line across the white 9-inch square
  • Sew a 1/4 inch away on either side of your line (my featherweight is demonstrating this technique above).
    Note: If you are using directional prints, be careful of the direction you sew your half-square triangles in. To figure it out, just lay everything out before you stitch. Ask me how I know 🙂
  • Cut along your pencil line, separating the square into two half-square triangles. Press squares open. Repeat until you have eight (8) HSTS in your main color, and four (4) HSTs in the accent color.
  • Match the seam with the diagonal line on your ruler, and trim the HSTs to 8-inch blocks. Marvel at how pretty they look already.

Glimma HSTsAssemble your blocks into intermediate sized (15.5″) blocks: combine four of your HSTS for the center star, and then combine the HSTs with solid colored blocks to create the four “arms” of the star. The center and two of the arms are shown below:

Little Lady Star, by Stitchified

Combine your intermediate blocks with the 15.5″ background blocks, and sew the three rows together following the diagram below:

Little Lady Star, by StitchifiedTa da! One super fast, but super adorable quilt top! And of course, in this house, no photo shoot is complete until it has been properly photo-bombed by Hello Kitty.

When it came to the quilting, I got brave (I have been binge watching the Olympics!) and decided to get a little tricky with some custom quilting. The background is stippled, the grey has free form flowers, and the pink is sporting a serpentine stitch. Now, as you may know, I’m completely terrified of new free motion quilting patterns, and I’ve never attempted flowers before.  For some reason I decided to tackle the free-form flowers without practice, definitely a questionable decision. But! I pulled off some successful flowers, and I’m feeling pretty proud. The overall result is far from perfect, but I’m sort of okay with it.

And here is a shot of the (almost!) finished quilt. It’s still missing the binding, but I couldn’t wait to share! I hope to get the turquoise binding on in a few days. Final photos will have to wait though, the amount of snow outside is absolutely insane!

Little Lady Star by StitchifiedLinking up with Finish it Up Friday with Crazy Mom!

Machine Binding

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I think I’m in the minority here, but I really love a machined binding. I’ll admit that my appreciation stems from living in a home where machine-washing isn’t optional — it is an absolute necessity. Having two cats (one of whom is morally opposed to good hygiene) , a dog, and a toddler under foot will do that to you. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that sewing the binding on by machine is more than a little tricky. Just look at my earlier quilts.

But I think I finally cracked the code on my SeasScapes Quilt. There was definitely a lot of practice involved, but a few changes to my machine’s settings really made things much easier. After so much experimenting, I thought it would be good to write up what I did this time — both for myself and for anyone else with a Janome Horizon.

But first a little background. I’m using Rita @ Red Pepper Quilts’ binding tutorial. With her technique, the binding stitches are almost invisible from the front, and look like decorative top-stitching from the back. It’s seriously ingenious.

Binding and the quilt, both zig-zag stitched and ready to go!

Like Rita, I prefer a narrow binding. I start with 2.25 inch strips, sewn together and pressed in half. If you don’t like that look, feel free to use 2.5 inch strips. Starting about 15 inches into the strip, run a zig-zag stitch down the unfinished/outside edges of the binding. I also choose to run a zig-zag stitch around my trimmed up quilt. Not only does it prevent fraying, but it prevents the layers from sliding around when you fold over the binding. Sure, all the safety stitching takes a few extra minutes, but it’s a good insurance policy. Well worth it in my book.

Next attach the binding to the front of the quilt. I use my quarter-inch accufeed foot for this phase. I also put my machine on a piecing stitch (#93 on the Horizon), set to a scant quarter-inch seam allowance (needle position at 6.5 on my particular machine). When it’s time, join the ends together exactly as Rita describes (I swear I’ll be going to her site to look that up until I’m 120 years old). Then press the binding over, using a little steam.

This is where things get a little intense, but here is the basic premise: You’re going to fold over the binding, stitch in the ditch from the front (the “ditch” here being where the binding meets the quilt top), and “catch” the binding on the backside. Catching the binding on the back is entirely blind. And entirely terrifying the first time you do it. But, once you get a little practice, it won’t be so bad. Promise!

To make the whole ordeal infinitely easier I use  Clover Wonder Clips. They hold things perfectly  and don’t distort the fabric like pins do. Oh, and they won’t poke you, either. Treat yourself to a 50-pack and you can thank me later.

But anyway… fold your binding over to the back, nice and tight, clipping every two inches or so. The clips have marks on the back (the clear side) which I use as a guide to make sure that there is a generous 1/4+ inches of binding on the back. Remember that you’ll be “catching” the binding on the back, so it’s important that you’re consistently over 1/4 inches on the back. Anything less than a quarter-inch means you’ll “miss” the binding, causing a bit of a headache.

Once you have a good section of binding clipped down, it’s time to make a few small changes to your machine. I switch to my open toe foot for accufeed, and turn the foot pressure down to “3.” If you don’t have an accufeed foot, don’t worry. Any open toe foot that lets you see what’s going on is just fine. I keep my machine stitch settings the same as before, but depending on the density of your quilt you may need to adjusts the needle position a bit (more on that in a minute). Now, take a deep breath. It’s time!

Get your quilt comfortably on the machine bed, and put your needle “in the ditch” between the quilt top and the binding. If you can’t get your needle in the ditch because your binding is being flattened, reduce your foot pressure some more. Now, put your needle down and pull up the bobbin thread. I like to tie the threads off and bury the knot, but you can do whatever you’re more comfortable with. Take a few stitches and “feel” the back of the quilt with your hand to make sure you’re catching the binding. If at some point you notice that you’ve missed the binding, try to get back on track and then go back and fix the gap with a second pass.

When you get to a corner, get as close as you can before pivoting. I recommend using a seam ripper to nudge the binding out of the way of your needle.

And that’s really all there is to it! Just keep chugging along until you’re done, and then enjoy machine-washable, pet proof quilty goodness!