Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trajectory: Finished!

Yeah! A finished quilt!

For the binding I chose a patterned fabric with black, gray, and yellow on a white background. I wasn't quite sure at first, but as it turns out I really like the subtle peek at a pattern around the edges of the finished quilt.

I didn't do a tutorial on the binding because there are already so many amazing binding tutorials out there. For this quilt, I cut the binding strips at 2.5" and did a double fold binding. Sometimes I'll opt for 2.25" strips but for this one I really wanted to make sure the print was more visible.

And here's the back.

Seriously digging the straight-ish line quilting.

This quilt will be on display at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in July as part of a special exhibit by the Portland Modern Quilt Guild.

I hope you've enjoyed reading/playing along. It was great to have these posts as a motivator to get this one done. For some reason (um, maybe it's the 4- and 6-year olds???) I haven't had nearly the kind of time I would like to get my creative mojo going. Hopefully, things will balance out a little better soon and I can spend some more time playing and having fun with fabric.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trajectory: Making the Quilt Back and Quilting

So, anyone still with me here? Sorry for the lapse in posting, but life has a way of rearranging the best laid plans.

Here's what I did for the back of my quilt. I started by making one block using two leftover boomerang blocks and two plain blocks:

Then I used a bunch of the scraps and trimmings of the various gray and yellow solids to make a big long strip. I really like using my leftover fabrics from the front in some way on the back - helps to tie everything together. Then I just added a bunch of kona in ash to fill everything out and make the back about 4 inches larger than the front on all sides.

Then it was all about winding a bunch of bobbins and finding my groove with the walking foot.

For this quilt, I didn't mark anything, just started in the center and used the seam lines as a rough guide. Some of the lines are more straight than others and I like the organic flow of it not being too "perfect."

And there you have it - back and quilting all done!

Yes, I realize that I didn't say anything about basting and making the quilt sandwich. There is lots of great information out there about how to do that part and if you've already made a quilt or two then you may already have a way that works for you. If you're curious, I usually spray bast my quilts because I don't have the patience (or knees) for pin basting. I do have some issues with the use of chemicals and what I might be doing to the environment so I'm constantly questioning their use and may re-evaluate my preference. For now, it's what I do and I've had great results. Not one single pucker on this quilt, front or back.

Meanwhile, I'm almost done with the hand sewing part of the binding and will have a finished quilt to show you next time! If you've been playing along, drop me a line and let me know how it's going. I'd love to see other interpretations.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trajectory: Piecing the Quilt Top

Did you decide on a layout for your quilt? I did!

I went ahead with the original design layout but I was more thoughtful with how I laid out the background pieces, which you will see. When I tried to lay it out randomly, the dark gray really didn't play nicely with the others - too much contrast, I think. But I really do like how it all turned out!

Let's get piecing...

With your blocks all laid out, divide your quilt top into quadrants (4 x 4 squares of blocks).

All seams are 1/4".

Piece a row and press seams open. 

One you have four rows done, attach the rows to each other matching the intersecting seams:

Press seams open. You'll end up with a lovely big block like this:

Is it just me or does anyone else get a little giddy when their seams line up nicely?

Okay, so one quadrant down, three more to go.

Once you have all your quadrants done, it should look like this:

I'd apologize for the weird light in my pictures, but that's the sun and we just don't apologize for sun here in Portland!

Sew those remaining three seams, press seams open and you have a completed quilt top!

Up next: Backing and basting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trajectory: Layout options

How's everyone doing? Have you started piecing your blocks yet?

I started to play with placement and layout of the blocks over the weekend. What I enjoyed most was seeing the variety of options using this one simple block!

Here's the basic pattern that I used in the original quilt. I still like this layout and this is the one you'll want to use if you want your quilt to look most like the original.

But then I played around with making some stars and came up with this:

It's not complete - you can see that the top left corner block is plain instead of a boomerang and the one of the blocks in the bottom row is facing the wrong way. But you get the idea. I really like the secondary pattern made where the non-boomerang corners are joined together.

And then I experimented with a zig-zag:

I actually think I like this one best of all! I may need to adjust my assembly to make this version.

At any around with your blocks and come up with a design that pleases you. Next time we'll get into assembling the blocks into the final quilt top.

Most of all - have fun and enjoy yourself!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trajectory: Piecing the Blocks

This is third post in a series about the Trajectory Quilt. See previous posts here and here.

Are you ready for some paper-piecing? Great! Let's get started!

Before we begin sewing, let's set up our fabrics. Since we need two strips for each boomerang, I like to split the strips into two sets so that I don't accidentally use up more of one color than I should, leaving half a boomerang without a mate. This will also be helpful if you choose to chain piece, which is how I like to assemble these blocks.

As you will see, there are a number of steps to paper-piecing this way. I'll show all the steps for piecing one block but you'll save a LOT of time by chain piecing. There are lots of pictures to help those of you who are brand new to paper-piecing.

First, take one of your background squares and one of your paper templates. Place the template (right side up) on top of the fabric (wrong side up), lining up the edges. This is the only time you will have two wrong sides facing each other (wrong side of fabric to wrong side of template).

I like to pin the paper to the fabric so that things don't get too shifty.

Take one of your boomerang strips and place it under the background square (right sides together). You want to line it up so that the seam allowance of the boomerang strip is lined up about 1/4" beyond the line drawn on your template (see below).

If you are using newsprint or an old phone book, the paper is thin enough to leave your machine's stitch settings at their usual place. If you are using copy paper, you'll probably want to reduce your stitch length to make it easier to tear the paper off later.

Stitch along the line drawn on your template, stopping at the end of the line. I like to do one or two backstitches as I start and stop just so that the stitching stays secure later when it's time to tear the paper off.

With the template facing up, fold the paper back over the line you just stitched.

Trim 1/4" away from the fold. To do this step, I like to use an Add-a-Quarter ruler. But you can use any quilting ruler you like.

This is what you should have after trimming away the excess:

If you flip it over to the fabric side, it should look like this:

Fold the boomerang fabric out to cover the paper template and press. The boomerang fabric should cover the corner of the paper template completely.

Take your second boomerang fabric strip and place it under your block, right sides facing, just like before. Again,you want to line it up so that the seam allowance of the boomerang strip is lined up about 1/4" beyond the line drawn on your template (see below).

Sew from the edge of the block and along the line drawn on your template. I just eyeball the first part where there isn't a drawn line but if that makes you nervous you could draw the line to fill that gap, or....

You can pull out a length of your top thread and stretch it to line up with the drawn line to make sure that your needle is properly lined up before stitching (see below). Neat trick, huh? Adapted that from my previous life as a stage carpenter when we would often extend straight edges with a chalk line...but I digress...

This next part will feel very familiar! With your block fabric side down, fold back the template paper along the line you just stitched.

Line up your ruler with the 1/4" line along the fold and trim the excess fabric.

This is what things should look like:

Turn block fabric side up.

Fold fabric over to cover the corner of the paper template completely and press.

The back of your block (template side) should look like this:

Trim along the edges of your paper template to bring your block to 6.5" square. Then tear off paper.

After tearing off the paper, you should see something like this:

Flip it over and give it a good press. Then pat yourself on the back and give yourself a high-five because you just completed a paper-pieced block!

And once you've made a few of them, you can start playing!

Okay, just to recap:
The assembly system is stitch, trim, press.
DO NOT stitch, press, then trim or you will use bad words and have to start over.

As I mentioned before, I stitch all of my first boomerang pieces, then trim them all, then press them all before moving on to the second boomerang piece for each block. It makes things go much faster since you aren't always having to move from sewing to trimming to pressing, which in my sewing space would give me quite a workout.

Most of all - have fun!

Up next: Assembling the quilt top.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trajectory: Fabric and Cutting

This is the second post in a series on how to make the Trajectory Quilt. Previous post is here.

Today we'll talk about fabric requirements and get cutting. Of course, the alternate title to this post could be "The One Where Quilt Math Kicks My Butt...Again." More on that in a bit.

Here are the fabrics I chose. All are Kona cottons by Kaufman. 

For your background squares, you'll need a total of 64 - 6.5" squares. If you cut a 6.5" strip x the width of fabric (usually 44"), then you can get 6 squares per strip. You can make your background all one color or use a variety of shades, like I'm doing here with the grays. You'll need 11 - 6.5" strips to get all your background blocks (and have a couple leftovers). So, that's 2 yards of fabric total. Since I used three different shades and I like having extra fabric to incorporate into either the back of my quilt or the binding, I got 1 yard of each of the grays.

Let's move on to the boomerang fabric.

For each of your boomerangs, you will need two 3" x 8" strips. That translates into 102 - 3"x8" pieces. If you cut an 8" strip x the width of the fabric, you'll get 14 - 3"x8" strips. That means you'll need just over 1-3/4 yds. total for your boomerangs. If you're going scrappy, just remember that each boomerang needs TWO 3"x8" pieces, so 51 pairs. Make sense?

*Note: This is where quilt math kicked my butt. I figured everything out at first based on needing ONE strip for each boomerang. Doh! And that is why you see a fourth fabric in the next photo. I used about half a yard  each of four colors.*

Congratulations! You did it - all cut and ready to go. You have everything you need to start piecing your blocks!

Up next: Paper piecing the boomerang blocks.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Trajectory: Getting Started

This is the first post in a series about how to make my Trajectory Quilt. Enjoy!

To work out this quilt, I first drew my plan out on graph paper and did a whole mess of quilt math.

Since it's basically just the one block, I got bored drawing in the design but you get the idea from the top few rows.

This quilt will be made up of 6.5" blocks (6" finished), and will measure 48" x 48" when completed. You can easily add or subtract blocks to adjust the size of your quilt - just remember to adjust your fabric requirements as well!

First things first. We will be paper-piecing the blocks so we need to gather some supplies. If you have never paper pieced before, this is a VERY simple block and I promise that you can do it!

Gather together an old phone book (or newsprint or foundation piecing papers or even copy paper), a template or ruler that is at least 6.5" on one side, and a mat knife or rotary cutter with an old blade. You'll also want a piece or cardboard or cardstock (an empty cereal box works fine) and a pen or pencil.

For a 48"x48" quilt, we will need 51 pieced blocks. Using your template or ruler cut 51 squares (6.5"x6.5") from the phone book pages. Here's a little trick: I use the corner of the pages to be two of the sides of the square so that I only end up needing to cut two sides. You can cut through several pages at one time.

In no time at all you will have a lovely stack of paper squares! Next, grab your cardstock or cardboard. Cut a 6.5" square out of that as well.

Measure in 1.5" at one corner and make a dot. Then draw lines from the dot to the corners (see above). This is your boomerang shape.

Cut out your boomerang and use the remaining piece as a template to draw the boomerang on each of your 51 paper squares. This may seem very tedious but it only took me about ten minutes, so it's really not that bad. If you have another method of marking that works for you - go for it. This is just how I do it.

Congratulations! You now have a stack of 51 squares that you will use to piece your blocks!

Up next: Fabric requirements and cutting instructions.