Friday Photo Inspiration: What's on my Mind

1. IMGP3993, 2. summer vegetables, 3. warmcool-detail, 4. again with the kitty and the sewing machine(s), 5. Pinwheel Blocks, 6. Strips for a Warm Cool Quilt

This week Hubby was out of town for work, and you'd think that would mean 5 straight days of sewing. And you'd be right, expect for the fact that Astrid, my wonderful sewing machine, is out of commission. Big Time. I've only had her 6 short months, but in that time I've made so many memories! I wish it wasn't so, but it looks like I'm in the market for a brand spanking new sewing machine. I just might be getting one that free motion quilts, for reals.
I'm thinking of that, and I'm thinking of how to go about selling my wares. Living in Portland there is such a huge market for handmade goods that I know I will have better luck through small retails stores and street fairs. The internet is such a big place, and etsy is such a big place I need to try the home front and see where it takes me. I'm still developing my brand and product lines but I am very happy with where I am headed.
The summer garden is in swing, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes the size of baseballs. It's a good summer for veggies here and I can't wait to can tomatoes for winter pasta.
I'd love to sew my warm/cool quilt and I'm designing a pinwheel quilt, but these will come later....the baby isn't due till 2012.
Have a lovely weekend, the last few before fall......

Shrinking Squares Scrap Quilt Back & Quilting Tutorial

Here comes the second part of the Shrinking Squares Scrap Quilt.  (You can find the Quilt Top Tutorial here) There's been two weeks between tutorials so there's no excuse not to have that top finished. Ha! Just kidding, I can think of a thousand reasons to get in between you and the sewing machine, mostly because I have experienced them all this week! Okay, but when you do get your top ready to go the next step is all ready for you to follow along! Aren't I sweet!
Once that top is finished (Really, you made one? Yippee!) it's time to put it all together -- using even more scraps from the top for the back. Here's a peek at my back and top all quilted up, isn't it lovely! (oh and ladies the men like a black quilt, my hubby really likes the dark colors of this one, fyi!) I love the little windows the straight lines make not only around the colorful squares but also in the corners of the sashing.

So to get started let's talk scraps, and direction. I wanted my quilt back to be vertical so I chose two long black skinny pieces to anchor the design and sewed a whole bunch of other scraps together all in a vertical pattern. I cut the black strips to cover about 1/2 of the quilt back...approx 64" long and 12-18" wide.
To start I laid those black strips and a whole bunch a scraps on the table.....

And I cut the scraps down into long strips, like so.....
Then I started sewing the strips together, in the same chain piecing fashion as the top....
More sewing together, and playing with the layout....
Trimming and sewing until a quilt back was coming together....a lot like a puzzle!
And then *bam* I had a finished quilt back....
Yeah! Looks pretty good against the garden fence....
So now you have a quilt back and a quilt top ready to become a quilt sandwich to be sewn together. If you need to know how to make a quilt sandwich refer to my quilting tutorial for a simple spray basting method. It's the way I prefer to machine quilt. I'm done with all those safety pins!
So set yourself up at the o'l sewing machine.
And get those supplies ready. I like to wind all my bobbins up before hand and put that walking foot on. I used a long stitch to make the quilting stand out more (A 5 stitch length on my sewing machine).
Roll up the end and start in the middle of the quilt on the short side. I find starting on the short side leaves less room for shifting and movement when quilting.
Line up your walking foot with inside of the right side edge of the seam so that there is less than a 1/4" from needle to seam. I used the window in my presser foot as a reference point. Start sewing down the line nice and evenly.
When you finish the row turn the quilt around so that you are on the same side as when you finished but you are now ready to go in the opposite direction. This way the walking foot is still on the inside of right side of the seam....check out the picture....
After both sides have a stitch down them it's time to break out the quilting guide and sew down the middle of the strip. The strip is 2" across....
So you'll want to position the quilting guide 1" from the sewing machine needle.
And then line up the guide with the seam like shown below....Continue sewing the quilt top from side to side and then down the middle for all strips until you get to the ends....
At the ends it's a little tricky, start by switching the guide to the left hand side and then move your needle position to such a place that it is about the same less than 1/4" from the inside of the left seam. Then make two stitches down the ends one at the seam and one in the middle. The third stitch will come when you attach the binding.
Here's a little bit blurry shot of the top once all the strips have three rows of stitches. Looks good, but now it's time to make the little windows and stitch down the long way....
For the length wise quilting there isn't a seam on the end so you will want to use a ruler to line up the walking foot with the seam....Do like we did on the short side: Once down the right side, turn the quilt, another down the right side and then in the middle.
Here's a shot of the guide being lined up for the middle stitch of quilting. Notice I've got the gloves on for quilt wrangling.....
At some point you will run out of bobbin and when you do just pop a new bobbin in and pull up the thread from below and keep on quilting. Also watch out for the spot where you sew over the horizontal quilting lines as this is where puckering can occur, just make sure to go slow and pull taught.
Continue quilting back and forth and then down the middle on all rows until the ends where you do just the same method as the the horizontal stitching and switch the quilting guide...until *another bam* you're all done! Look at those pretty little windows!
Then trim up the sides and make your binding (220" x 2.5") Refer to my binding tute for details on how to bind your quilt up nice a neat!

Hooray! You've got another quilt done and ready to snuggle with! 

Thanks so much for checking out my tute, I hope you like this method of a quilt back and window pane quilting. Shrinking Squares is one of my favorite designs, it's so versatile. It makes a great I-spy quilt and it's also wonderful for mismatched scraps like I used here -- or for one fabric line or just one color for the squares and one color for the sashing....really there are so many possibilities and they'd all  look good!
I hope you'll give it a try and let me know what you come up with!


Strips of a Warm Cool Quilt Along

I started to cut out strips for the half squares triangles that make up the Warm Cool Quilt. All these are vintage fabrics. I'm not 100% sure of the years but a range of 1950 - 1970 would  be my best guess. There are large florals, a gingham or two, and a few stripes. The prints don't really go together but the fact that they are warm and cool make it work perfectly. I think there are going to be some nice contrasts in here. Next step sew :)


Stashtacular Tutorials List

Hey Everybody! Even though Stashtacular has passed that doesn't mean there aren't still great tutorials to be had! Here is the list of all 12 tutorials Jenna, Stephanie and I made just for you during our month long stash fest. If you need more inspiration check out the already made projects at the Flickr Group and post your own too!

Blue Bird Sews

Quilting Fabrics from 1 Choice 4 Quilting

Wow! That is quite a list of tutes...we were seriously busy ladies! I hope you enjoy all the tutorials there is a little something for everyone in there!


Shrinking Squares Scrap Quilt Tutorial

Introducing the newest Blue Bird Sews quilt pattern: Shrinking Squares, here it is three different ways: 

I really like this quilt for a few different reasons...let me tell you about them ;)
First off lots of scraps get used up in this quilt and the more prints the better. Scrappy tends to look good all mashed together. Secondly cutting and piecing take hours to complete. Once I had my fabric picked out it was just a few naps times later that it was all sewn together -- because this entire quilt is chain pieced together!  And it also happens that you can use so many color combinations. Set the squares is white, black or any other color...I bet it looks great set in grey with red and aqua...or rainbow colors.....or all solids....or, or, or! So many options....I almost made one with red pieces and black sashing.

So here it goes...a quilt pattern! Have fun with this and let know if you've made one!

Start with going to the stacks and picking out some fabric. These requirements are just for the top. They don't include the back and binding. We'll talk about that next week when I give the tutorial for the quilting and binding. Forgive me but I only got as far as the top this week!

Fabric Requirements:
Background fabric: 2 yards of 44" wide
Squares: A bunch of scraps....about this many -- or the equivalent of 2 charm packs

Once you've got your scrap fabrics picked out it's time to cut them up into little pieces. The easy way to do this is to pile up your scraps together and cut them into 3" wide strips. From there cut them into 3.5", 2.5" & 1.5" squares and rectangles.
Next cut your background pieces out. The background pieces are a bit different in size so this time cut out 2.5" strips. Then cut the strips into pieces 3.5", 2.5" & 1.5". Check out the picture below it gives the measurements and how many of each piece you'll need.

Background Fabrics: 16 strips 2.5" x 44" long                                Print Fabrics: 54 pieces 1.5" x 3.0"
                                 60 pieces 1.5" x 2.5"                                                         45 pieces 2.5" x 3.0"
                                 50 pieces 2.5" x 2.5"                                                         36 pieces 3.5" x 3.0"
                                 40 pieces 3.5" x 2.5"
Next lay out all the pieces in nice piles so they are ready to chain piece together. Doing this step....and double counting ensures a quick and easy sew. Sew Mama Sew has a nice little tutorial about this if you need a refresh on the basics of chain piecing. While you're there a quick glance at 1/4" piecing would be good because this quilt is all about that...and if you get a good 1/4" seam the quilt squares will line up nicely.
Alright, we are ready to sew! Take your first pile of prints and one of the background squares and the rest of the stack of background squares and have a seat at the machine.
This is the 2.5" square, note however which way you turn the pieces they match up. Sewing becomes a  no brainer! 
For the first print piece sew two background pieces to it on either side. This becomes your starting square.
Continue sewing prints to background fabrics until your pile of 9 prints runs out. This will become a row once they are all sewn together. But before we sew rows let's keep up the momentum of chain piecing and sew all the stacks together into chains.
Here is the 3.5" rectangle. Sewing the background fabric is easy as there is only one way to match up the pieces; on the 3.5" long side. 
Again matching up pieces is easy as there is only one correct way to match them up -- this time on the 1.5" side. 
Here's the pieces all chained up together in their corresponding rows. The great thing is you don't have to keep track of fabrics or placement when sewing. The more random the better.
Chained up!
Next we'll start really putting our rows together. Start this by snipping all the threads connecting the chained up pieces and put them into piles --  keeping the rows together and the first-three-pieced set on the bottom. 
Now grab a stack and start sewing together two at a time in chain pieced fashion. Until two becomes four....
The four becomes eight...
...and so on until the whole row is complete and you add on the final piece - the first-three-pieced set.
Yeah! Now the rows are complete! Don't they look great! I love the bright colors against the black. And the more prints the better to blend it all together. I used all sorts of styles and tried to keep the color palette bright and cheery...with a little bit of black and white print thrown in to give the eye a  place to rest.
Up next is pressing....For this quilt I pressed all my pieces to one side because the prints were dark enough to hide the black background. If this was set in white I would have pressed everything toward the prints in order to hide the seam. 
Pressed and lined up ready to sew strips to rows
Once the rows are pressed let's sew'em to the strips. Strips = background fabric; Rows = pieced fabrics.
The way I did this is to line up the strip underneath the row so that I can see the seams AND that the seams are pointed down. That way I sew the seams down nice and neat. First make an inch long stitch to secure it and then go back and pin the row to the strip.
When pinning don't pull the row, this will distort it and make your squares out of line when all sewn together. So what I do is sew a little bit together at the top and then let them hang and pin with out pulling, just letting them drape and lay nicely. Sew all the rows to a strip just like that; you should have one strip left over.
Take that one left over strip and sew it to a strip-row combo.This becomes the very bottom strip...much like the first-three-piece when sewing the rows together. Sew the last strip onto one of the 3.5" pieced rows; this unit becomes the bottom section.
This time sew the strip onto the top of the row with the row seam pointing downward. This ensures a nice clean sewing down of your seams in the same direction. Pin in such a way that doesn't pull at the row.
Yeah, rows all have strips and the quilt top is so close to coming together!
Now's the time to arrange the rows... but before that take the time press. I like to press the seams toward the strips to take the bulk away from the already heavy seamed rows. Once you've pressed the rows lay them out a section at a time. Start with the bottom row and work your way up by arranging the rows until you like the combination. 
Then trim up the sides...
Trim at 2.25" 
All trimmed up....
Pin them together; this time lay them out on the table or whatever space you have.....
As you pin line up the squares with each other as close to perfect as you can get.... some might be off and that's okay!
Sew the rows together then press and repeat for all the rows and strips
Until you have a quilt top all finished up!

All the lovely squares lined up!
Some great fabrics! 
So many different prints but they all work together
Thanks for checking out my tutorial! I really enjoyed sharing this one with you and I hope you make one or two for your self with your favorite scraps! This quilt was made with scraps from the ladies of the Stashtacular fabric swap, which means I will always remember our swap and the great people who participated!

I've also created a tutorial for the back and window pane quilting method that looks so good on this quilt. View them here.

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