Snovid21: Quilt 2: Jelly Roll Race and FMQ

This quilt I pieced as soon as I got my new sewing machine (a Janome 6700P). I had picked up this jelly roll at the dealer, when I was scoping out their machines, and the fun bright 70’s style just grabbed me. It sat on the shelf for a week or so before I just decided to stitch all the strips together in a Jelly Roll Race style. The actual piecing took just a couple of hours, not even that, really. BUT it provided an opportunity to get to know my new machine a bit, and to learn a little about how fast I really could go. My main criteria of the new machine was that it was FASTER than my previous machines and yet still have plenty of fun stitches AND the capability to do a wide 9 mm stitch. I don’t even understand WHY I like 9 mm so much, but it was an absolute must.

The pieced top of this quilt leaned heavy on orange, so I knew it would be great as a quilt to cosy up with on the new porch that my husband built during the end of 2020. We did a complete change of color scheme of the house in the summer and the trim is painted to mimic cedar (except real cedar is $$$$$$ here and new paint was $ in comparison!) And then we have these cool picnic tables that he built previously but painted them a bright fun turquoise, and then our trim accents and doors on the house are a bright navy, so the colors of this quilt top, when put together, immediately told me that this was the porch quilt. Most evenings (except for this lately odd snowpocalypse) are mild enough to sit outside together and watch lightening bugs or the fire, and I found myself dragging my own blanket out there back and forth. Since the porch has essentially become our new living room, with the inside taken over by kids’ desks for the distance learning, it’s nice to have a low-tech place to relax.

the beginnings of the #snowpocalypse that completely shut down most of Texas just a few days ago. But the PORCH! I’m still so in love. This view is from the side coming out the front door and it wraps around the back of the house, leading to my new sewing studio, which will be a whole new post!

The quilt top sat complete for at least 4 weeks while I pieced and quilted and finished a pinwheel quilt that was specifically for the backdrop of my video side of the new sewing room (really an extension of the “great porch project”) and then through the busyness of setting that room up, piecing another few blankets, and just waiting for T – I – M – E to do the actual quilting. Enter, the snowpocalypse of the past week.

With no power, we shifted into survival mode, and while I wondered for a bit how in the world Ma Ingalls had any time at all to do any of the sewing of the household’s clothing or blankets or bedding or ANY of it really, when cooking from our freezer took all the time to keep people here fed, the nagging feeling of having half finished blankets that COULD BE ACTUALLY BE HELPFUL TO THE FREEZING SITUATION AT HAND drove me to take a few minutes to get them at least sandwiched with backing and batting so that when we ever got power again I could finish them up really quickly. So, I used a thin poly/cotton batting, and I chose the Shannon Fabrics Cuddle® in Hot Pink for the backing and spray basted them with 505 spray. Normally I do all the spray basting outside, but it was like 7 degrees F outside, and my room is really a decent size, so I just quickly sprayed and got them adhered. I actually made sure that all my lonely pieces got sandwiched, so that they’d all be ready to finish…once there was power!

It took a couple of days for the power to come back, but once it did we did all the things we needed to do with power to take care of the kids, and then I headed to the sewing room. I have been wanting to practice some free motion quilting after spending many hours watching Angela Walters draw pretty little designs so effortlessly on youtube. I thought the jelly roll strips would be a good place to practice different motifs (that was a correct assumption) and that I could just pop on a FMQ foot and take off. NOT the case. In order to get the fabric to glide under the foot, I did have to wrestle it quite a bit. I know that quilting gloves will help this process. I also decided that I did not want to use the extension table of my machine. I don’t think I have my sewing chair at exactly the right setting yet, so the angle of sewing/body/arms/foot pedal was all out of wack, and I felt it in my body as I tried to gleefully glide the stripes under the machine. I remembered that I had heard not to bring the fabric toward you – to work with it going away from you, but I couldn’t see the whole area I was trying to fill with stitching. I needed to see where I was GOING, not where I’d been, so I tried stitching up one strip and then down the other. Pretty soon I felt like I was writing with the non-dominant hand, and at the end of it I don’t know which was the way that felt best. I did different scribbly stitches on each “strip” trying to practice pebbles, figure eights, ribbon candy, and just plain zig zags. Looking at the back, you can’t even tell that is what I was trying to do, because it looks like a toddler trying to learn how to hold a pencil and make a mark. BUT when all the stitching was done, the quilting, which primarily shows up on the back, doesn’t look terrible. And that is what I’m going for here. Not looking terrible.

After trying to find a suitable fabric to bind with (no, I hadn’t decided that earlier, except I knew I needed a solid, not a print from the coordinating fabrics) I decided to use a Luxe Cuddle® Hide in Banana binding instead of a cotton binding. It’s SO much simpler to stitch on, and honestly, I just love the way the edging feels when I need something to fidget with.

Luxe Cuddle Binding. So satisfying!

I spent a lot of time thinking I was going to do something with turquoise and navy, but when the quilt got to the machine, I just didn’t feel it, so it was pink and yellow and it’s really very happy, and will still work well on the porch!!

Not terrible, very useful, and even a little bit cute, but I definitely need more practice.

Here’s what I did not expect. As I got to the end of the quilting, I found feelings that were strange. Was I sad that there wasn’t more to do right then? Was it fatigue because of the strange way I had to grip the fabric to drive it through or from probably clenching my teeth to will it to happen? Was it anger that I had pooh-poohed the idea of ever wanting a long arm machine to do it with a lot less effort? What was that feeling? I still do not know, but I am eager to try again and get back to that place and explore what it was. There are so many things to keep track of while doing the actual quilting. The rhythm of the push and pull against the speed of the needle and the size of the stitches. The layers of material to take care not to jam, especially at the edges. The clenching of the teeth. And the choosing of the elements to try to create in the fabric. I really loved mashing the fabric together and creating something completely new in the process. The quilt becomes a much different material that the pieced top and the chosen backing are on their own. Sandwiched together and stitched they are mysteriously transformed into the QUILT, and that led me to eagerly experiment on the next blanket, which might become a proper quilt when it got some quilting added to it!

Snovid21: four new blankets : blanket 1

It got so cold here in Texas this week that entire electrical grid failed, which led to city water supply failing. Which led to two days without power or water. Houses in Texas are built to stay cool – it never really gets or stays truly cold. But it gets over 100 degrees F every summer, so we need breezeways and open spaces so the heat can rise and escape, which it did rapidly as our temperatures dropped inside after hours without power. This led to cooking what was thawing in the powerless freezer outside over a fire, keeping a pot out there constantly full of what water we had previously collected when we heard the water system might fail, and just trying to stay warm. What I realized as a maker was that I had NOT made enough bedding. We don’t camp, so we don’t have sleeping bags like others might. Everyone has a comforter and a few little decorative blankets, but they aren’t real blankets. Primarily cotton or single layer fleece blankets – more for fun and snuggling than much else!

We cooked outside on the fire pit for two days. And by we I mean, my husband who has some awesome Dutch ovens skills!

Well, a mom who’s a maker has to fix that pronto. While I had light, i sandwiched a few quilt tops that were pieced and ready, prepped bindings for a blanket and a whole-cloth quilt that was ready for quilting, and double checked that everything would be ready to stitch as soon as power was restored and food and other nutritional necessities were consumed by everyone. And then I started working through my stack. I went easiest to hardest, or so I thought.

505 spray is kind of my best friend. It’s easier to spray baste a quilt than pinning, and this spray doesn’t trigger an asthma attack. Of course you need to spray in a properly ventilated area and protect any surrounding area from overspray.

The first blanket I put together was a simple “stitch and flip” style strip quilt made from Luxe Cuddle with a printed cuddle focal strip. You start with laying down the backing, then the batting, and then you add the strips for the accents on the front one at a time from the middle section out.

These colors!

You can see here that I used wide strips of coordinating fabrics. These were part of a “Sweet Strips” set in the Lagoon colorway. I used all the strips except for a light aqua strip, which I’ll use for another project. And I added a smaller strip of another lighter Luxe Cuddle to the top edge for balance. The binding was the last darker strip from the sweet strips pack that I had cut into 1.75” strips and pieced together.

After it was done it was claimed by a kid right away. And a cat, who often sneaks her way onto whatever project I’m doing with minky.

With cats it’s all theirs. Not yours.

I’ll talk about the others in a different post. Putting fabric into service for comforting use is definitely a worthwhile project.

Hi there

Hi! I’m Sheila. I make things. Compulsively, obsessively even. Making is my way to keep sane most days, and getting a finished item is sometimes a side benefit. I’ve been making something for as long as I can remember, and it’s been vital to my well-being at many times along the way. Not only is the making therapeutic, but the process is always intriguing. I dig down deep to find the way it’s been done before and investigate what the reasons were and then I experiment with how it can be done differently and if different is better or appropriate or even wise.

My interests include everything about both traditional and modern textile arts. This blog will be a place to keep the stories of the things that inspire me and possibly provide a record of the things that get completed. Or maybe only started.

Whatever gets accomplished here is just one part of the process. I needed a place to write down the process to get it out of my head and there are only so many people in my house who have interest in this process for now. (and by so many I mean literally only one, and that one probably is more interested after a bourbon!)

I feel like a public place to blog is important because I know there are others that care about these things and that I can enter into a conversation with. I’d love to hear how others #process the making of their things. There truly are so many different ways to accomplish the same things. There are no “quilt police” or “embroidery police” here, though. Only open minds to experiment and discover and enjoy the ride. I want to try new things and hear how the things you have tried have worked or not worked, too.

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