A quilted finish: PMQG Medallion Quilt

As a 2014 officer for Portland Modern Quilt Guild I had the opportunity to work and collaborate with a bunch of amazing people. My fellow officers were awesome and I am happy to call them friends. One of the coolest things we did for the guild this year was to design a medallion quilt for an alternative to a block of the month program. It worked really well and we have almost 20 finished quilts hung up at our December party and I know there are more out there to be finished in 2015.

I'm gonna be honest here, if I wasn't an officer I probably wouldn't have taken this project on, but I am so happy that I did! The pace was just perfect with just one new boarder each month and I started it with the intention of it being just for me so I chose fabrics that were my favorite. 

Making this quilt throughout the year taught me so much about my own personal quilting style. I am now 100% sure about the colors that speak to me and patterns I'm drawn to. There are my favorite vintage fabrics in there and lots of DS Quilts; this quilt is so much me and I love it.

To finish I straight-line-quilted it with an all over grid 2" apart on the diagonals. And thanks to precise piecing lines match up! I backed it with a vintage sheet and a line of yellow gingham to bring it up to size. 

This is the first quilt to be able to live on our bed but for bittersweet reasons. Our kitty of 14 years passed away over Christmas. I was unable to put a quilt on the bed because she would claw things. It was in her final days I finished the binding and put the quilt on our bed. I know, sad face. 

My final quilt of 2014 turned out to be my best quilt ever and set me up nicely for 2015. Happy New Year! 


A quilted finish: Early Americana

Hello there, I will say it. It has been a while since I sat to write a blog post about my quilty endeavors. It is too much fun to just sew and there has been much to be sewn! Lots of quilts got finished and I hope to share them all in due time but the first and most rewarding was the quilt I made for my mother-in-law that she commission me to design and make.

It started last year she asked me to make her a queen sized quilt for her beautiful Amish sleigh bed. I happily accepted and we picked out a basic pattern (she was drawn to an Irish chain) and then we went to Fabric Depot and selected a palate of blue, green, red and tan. I choose the white to make the other shades pop.

To design the quilt I use a very basic program called Quilt! 1-2-3, it allows you to form a very traditional layout with blocks, sashing and borders. Once you have a layout you can select blocks to put in the quilt and then it gives you a cutting guide to make the block. Very simple but handy for designing and getting the quilt math right!

I slowly sewed the blocks together until I had a 90"x83" quilt top! The backing for the quilt was picked out on our trip to Fabric Depot but when I went there to buy it they didn't have the 9 yards I needed for a solid backing. Luckily the good folks at Fabric Depot ordered me up a new bolt. But before I could quilt it I had to de-thread the back. Necessary evils. Like flu shots or DMV stuff.

Quilting a gigantic quilt like this was not gonna happen on my trusty Viking 830. Another stroke of luck was that my wonderful friend and guild mate Nancy just happens to own an amazing quilting studio where I was able to rent time on a long arm machine! That was an experience I will not forget! Nancy helped me load it onto the quilt frame and I was ready to go!

When I went in to quilt - I had a plan. I had been researching quilting patterns and found one that fit the shape of the quilt white space and went well with a simple corner to corner filler pattern for the rest of the blocks. I really wanted those white middle blocks to shine in the quilting. I think I got it. My side fillers are really fun to, they remind me of 1950's future star shape.

I quilted it in 5 hours, just before my MIL's plan landed at PDX. I hurriedly made binding for it - in that great red French General by Moda - and spent our vacation with her stitching the binding down here and there. I think she saw how much time goes into a quilt. It is mind boggling what we do sometimes. But each stitching is worth the results.

She took it back home with her on the plane to NY and it now lives in her bedroom on that beautiful bed keeping her and her man nice and warm.

It feels nice to write again;


Quilted Finish: QAL Value Play Pantone Quilt

Hello! I am usually excited but today I am really excited to share with you a finished quilt that does double duty as a Pantone Challenge Quilt and a Quilt with Me quilt along (QAL) finish! When I started the QAL I had no idea there was a radiant orchid Pantone Quilt Challenge happening in these same colors. How cool that purple is making it's way into modern quilting. Purple can be a hard color to work with but when paired with a neutral like grey it allows the colors to shine through. If you'd like to make this quilt then stay tuned I'll have all the links you need below. But for now enjoy the photos of my value play quilt!

Full Quilt Front

Quilt detail front

Quilt Back: pieced with leftover fabrics

Quilt Back Detail

Quilt Back and Scrappy Binding Detail:

Quilt Detail

Quilt and FMQ Detail: Echo Triangle Quilting

This quilt is a crib size measuring at 36" x 54". It will be listed in my Esty Shop. 
Thanks for looking and thank you to the Pantone Quilt Challenge Hostess:  On the Windy Side and Play Crafts

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

Here is a list of all links to the QAL posts to make this quilt!



Quilt with Me: Backing, Basting, Quilting, Binding Tutorial Links

Hello There!

So I've got a lot of good information for you today on how to finish the Quilt Along Quilt - or any quilt for that matter! Since I started quilting my methods have changed and evolved for what works best for me and feels right. When I  wrote tutorials for finishing a quilt it worked for me but since I started this blog I have learned a lot and changed how I do things mostly due to reading other quilting blogs! So instead of just saying hey read what I wrote I wanted to add in other points of view and ways to do things. So here is a big list of links for backing, basting, quilting and binding you quilts. And if all else fails, Google it.

Blue Bird Sews: Making a quilt back

Jaybird Quilts: Pieced Backing Tutorial

Red Pepper Quilts: Basting and Batting

Oh, Fransson!: Making the Quilt Sandwich

Sew Mama Sew: Binding & Quilting Resources

Blue Bird Sews: Quilt Binding Tutorial

Heather Bailey: Continuous Quilt-Binding Tutorial

Cluck, Cluck, Sew: Machine Binding Tutorial

Stitched in Color: Zig Zag binding Tutorial 

Canoe Ridge Creations: Straight Line Quilting Tips

A Few Scraps: Free Motion Quilting

PS.  Look for a post with just photos for the quilt finish coming up quick!



Quilt with Me: Sew those Rows into a Quilt

Hello there Quilt-Alongers! I have a tutorial for you, whew! Because I will confess I'm only days ahead of myself when I push that publish button! :) But that's okay because this quilt top is coming right along. I do love to see a quilt come together!

Oh and since I last shared with you I was told about the Pantone Challenge hosted by Adrianne from On the Windy Side and Anne from the Play-Crafts blog. The colors I am using are perfect, are you doing purple too? Well then let's join in!
2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

All right so now let's get back to the quilt along! By now the blocks, side units and top and bottom units are sewn together and you've been playing around with the  layout on your design wall, dinning room table, open floor space. Great! Let me show you how to sew up a diagonal set quilt because it really couldn't be easier!

First step is to get that layout just how you want it. Start with the main center blocks. The quilt goes three blocks across, then two blocks, then three, then two, then three, then two, then three. On point there are 4 blocks down.

 Once those are laid out start adding in the side/top/btm units to get a nice variety of patterns and colors.

Next you'll add the solid corner triangles that are cut from 2-8" squares. Add those only to the ends of the top/btm rows. You will add them to the top/btm side units once the rows are sewn together (see photo below). 

With all the blocks laid out how you want them it's time to sew the blocks and units together into rows. Begin by matching up the seams in the middle and pin out from there to the edges on each block. There will be six rows all together. Once the six rows are sewn then sew the rows to each other. 

Join rows to each other by again matching up seams first and then pinning to the edges. On the blocks and the rows the edges of the side and top/btm units will be a little overhang from the triangle (like a dog ear) and this is good, you'll want that to create a seam allowance. That is why you pin from the seam and work out to the edges so that bit will hang off. 

Here is the first row all sewn up and read to attach the corner triangle to finish off the edge.

Work slowly and carefully matching up all the seams and pinning a whole lot especially when sewing all the rows together. The bias edges are very forgiving when stretching seams to match them up but they are also be very fidgety so pin well! A tip for working with the bias is to starch the heck outta them to make them stiff and flat!

Waaa-laaa! A quilt top all sewn up! Hooray! Hooray! So if you've got a question or need clarification on any step of sewing the blocks and row or corners let me know! I'll be back next week to talk quilting, but first I have to stare at this little gal and see what way she wants to be quilted! 

And share with me what you're making! Flickr here IG: #bluebirdsewsQAL



week 1 here: fabric choices/values
week 2 here: cutting instructions

QAL with Blue Bird Sews

Quilt with Me: Cutting Squares for Diagonal Settings

Hello again and welcome to the second week of Quilting with Me where we talk about cutting and constructing all the half squares triangles (HST). And let me tell you, my brain kinda hurts because of it. When I make quilts it is from scratch in my head with a few roughs sketches and measurements. And most the time they are not on point.

Toying around with settings has been on my quilty want to list for a bit. A block can change so much when you flip it 45°; a little magic happens in that spin. Turns out magic takes some math but luckily there are a whole lot of resources out there to help a quilter navigate the numbers.

I learned about side setting triangles and what math to do for them. These are the triangles that fill in around blocks when set on point. I will not attempt to explain or say I fully understand it. I just plugged in some measurements, tried out a block, asked my mates at PMQG what I was doing wrong, then I went back to the sewing machine, made a tweak and Bam. Side setting triangles figured out, kinda. I wrote some stuff down and it works, how it works? Magic.

I learned a couple of really great techniques for HST making and trimming from the on-line quilt community. It has changed my world! The first is making HST four at a time and I used a tutorial from Christina Lane, The Sometimes Crafter, posted as a guest topic at Whipup. The method she describes is so simple and elegant, yielding 4 HST from two squares sewn together.

The second little trick I found is by Amy Smart, Diary of a Quilter. She stumbled upon the way to use an HST ruler from Quilt in a Day; which I happened to have already! With the ruler you can trim HST before opening them up for pressing and having to only cut once to trim! Yay! Check out both of these great techniques then come on back for fabric measurements and all the mathy goodness you can handle!

These are the measurements for a quilt that finishes just a bit bigger than crib size (36"x54"). The above method of making HST is what yields these measurements. If you're using another method then find finished HST size and amounts below. (unfinished measurements)

Inner 4-patch Blocks
8.5" squares : CUT 36 from various prints low/med/dark purple/grey/cream
Total: 5.5" : 72 HST

Side Setting Triangles
9" squares : CUT 6 from various prints
Total: 5.5" : 6 HST
Total: 5.875": 6 HST ---> 12 Quarter Square Triangle (QST)

Top and Bottom Setting Triangles
9" squares : CUT 4 from various prints
Total: 5.5" 4 HST
Total: 5.875" : 4 HST ---> seam ripper out these HST to make 8 QST

Corner Setting Triangles
8" squares: CUT 2 from solid fabric ---> cut those into 4 triangles

Hello, are you there? Oh wow, I almost blanked out typing all those up...... boring! Let's do the same sorta thing but with pictures and diagrams. So much better!

First up cut out squares for HST.

Next, match up squares...

Then sew around each set of squares to create 4 HST.

Next comes the three different kinds of blocks: Center 4 blocks - Side Triangles - Top/Btm Triangles

First the easy ones: Center 4 Blocks from 8 1/2" squares ---> 4 HST Trimmed to 5 1/2"

Then the tricky Side/Btm/Top Setting Triangles - for all triangles
From the 9" squares ---> 4 HST ---> cut 2 - 5 1/2" HST and 2 - 5 7/8" HST

For side setting triangles - Cut trimmed 5 7/8" HST into 2 QST

Side Setting Triangle Unit lined up like this - 

Top/Bottom Triangle Units  - Top and Bottom units use 1 - 5 1/2" HST and 2 - 5 7/8" deconstructed HST. Once HST are trimmed use your seam ripper to deconstruct the 5 7/8" HST and use them to sew up the top and bottom triangle units.

Okay there are all the units you'll need to sew up this quilt! Pretty straight forward right? If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will answer them there so we can all see what's happening.

Also share these with us! Tag them #bluebirdsewsQAL on IG or add them to the Flickr page.

I can't wait to see what you all are sewing! Next week I'll talk about how to sew the units together into rows and the a quilt top. That part is super easy! We're almost done with this quilt top! Hooray!



ps. the first post from this series can be found here: Fabric Choice

QAL with Blue Bird Sews

Quilt with Me: Fabric Choices

Hello Lovelies! Welcome to Week 1 of our Quilt Along! This is the time to choose fabrics and get a plan going for this half square triangle quilt. Hopefully I will come up with a better name than that by the end of the QAL - any suggestions?!

I'm not one for much chit-chat; so let's talk fabric. When I started this quilt I had only 1 request and that was for color - purple and grey to match the soon to be here baby girl room. So I hit up my fabric stash and came out with a stack of all I had in purple and grey - it really wasn't much. Which is a good thing! Limits foster creativity. Without the perfect fabrics I had to get creative and use what I had.

Now I had a stack of fabric in purple and grey but what I look for when auditioning fabrics for a quilt is: Value, Scale and Prints. Three super important factors for getting just the right mix of prints, solids and colors. But before you dig through your stash of fabrics or drive to the fabric store let's talk.

Let's start with value. A really great tool for choosing the right value is to take a picture and change it to black a white. I did that for the next examples and I hope it helps to illustrate the point.

You might notice on the first quilt that there are prints that don't really read purple but the value is there in one way or another. Like the white background and little purple violets. It's not super purpley but it reads as a light value something that you will need to balance out the dark and medium values of the other fabrics.

Notice in the picture above that the fabrics you might have thought were dark - like the grey is actually medium - and the prints you thought were medium are actually dark - like the purple geometric. Know the value of the fabrics will help you match them up with each other and create the most contrast for the HST blocks.

Next there is scale; a good quilt has a place to rest the eyes and a place to move the eye around. So when choosing prints make sure to get a good ratio of tiny prints to keep the eye moving and larger scale prints to give the design a little rest. There is no magic number for how many large scale vs. small scale prints to include - that is up to the designer but let me say 80/20 would not be so great.

Okay, so now go over to your stash and pick a big ol' stack of fabrics in your choice of color. Red, blue, purple, yellow, green. What ever color you like pick out prints and solids, choose different values, choose your best and least favorites. Then let's mix in a neutral. In this case the choice was made for me; grey with purple. But you could do; red and grey, blue and grey, green and black, pink and brown, red and brown, blue and tan, yellow and grey, red and black, red and brown, blue and grey, green and black....you get it right? Pick a color and then add a complimentary neutral to it. Now go back to that fabric stash and pull out all prints and solids in your color and neutral choice.

Here's where the colors in the prints come into play. Make sure your prints do not have lots of other colors in them. You want your fabrics to be purple, not purple with lots of yellow - or purple background with big yellow and blue flowers. Make sure your fabrics have just one color in them or a small bit of other colors that keep with either the warm or cool sides of the color wheel depending on the color you have chosen. For example if you color is blue and you have a print with a little bit of green in it then I'd say go for it, but if you have a blue with a little bit of orange then I'd pass. Stick with your color wheel friends.

Let me stress here that the print isn't as important as the value at this point. Especially for scrappy quilts. The blue hue quilt I made has some of my least favorite fabrics from my stash but it works so well because they are all in the same hue - the value is what gives the interest not the individual prints.

One last addition to your fabric pull is a shade of white. For the quilt above I choose a cream color to break things up a bit. You might want a brighter white or even a beige - that will depend on your color choice and the values in your fabrics. Try a couple out and see what meshes best with your color choice.

Now take all the chosen fabrics and mash that pile together and take a picture of it. Now take that picture and change it to black and white. Got it, okay. That's the picture you want to study for choosing your final set to fabrics to use. Get a good mix of dark, light and medium values.

Here it doesn't matter what colors they are, value is what is important, but you also want a good mix of color to neutral like around 50/50. For the overall values I would say 30/30/40 ratio of dark/light/medium so that when putting together blocks you have enough mix to get a good contrast to each block. Here's a picture of my final fabric stack. Looks a lot like the first but I had to edit a bit because I used up a bunch in the last quilt!

Whew! Okay what have you got?  A huge wonderful stack of awesomeness - that's what! So here's the part I am not so great at but I'm going to give it a go just for you!

Yardage Required:
Backing: 1 3/4 yard
Binding: 1/2 yard
Light value: 1 yard
Dark value: 1 yard
Medium value: 1 1/4 yard

Now the fabric for the quilt top is an over estimate and because we are working from the stash you probably pulled out way more fabric than this even, that's cool. We'll just cut what we need and re-stash the rest. If you are buying fabric for the quilt then stick with fat quarters or 1/2 yard cuts. For my fabric choices I have about 15 different fabric choices. But I like a scrappy quilt! Chose how ever many you are comfortable with!

Okay now you've got a pretty stack of fabric to pet and talk nice to until we cut it up into squares, okay.

Let me know if you've got any questions. I will respond in the comments below so everyone can benefit from the discussion. And let us know if you have any tips or tricks for picking out your fabrics!

Next time we will talk about cutting and sewing Half Square Triangles and little bit about on-point settings! If you are following along grab a button below!


QAL with Blue Bird Sews