Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Practice squares

Hi everyone!  I hope you're having a good week so far and that you had a great holiday weekend.  We had a nice holiday, kind of quiet, and one day during that holiday break I got to have a sew day with my smart friend Nancy! We had a fun and productive time, and it did not even involve any chocolate, which I can't have any more anyway.  It was great!

One thing I've been trying to work on is doing some more of my own quilting, especially on the smaller things.  I don't have a long arm, and no prospects for getting one, and free motion quilting on my machine mostly eludes me, so I've been practicing walking foot quilting.  Just so we have a nice picture near the beginning, here's something I'm going to quilt up myself.  More after the photo!


I think this is really cute, and it was easy to make, too.  The problem with practicing quilting is that they advise you to make some scrap pieces to practice on.  I hate doing this, mainly because it seems so wasteful.  I have enough potholders and such, so what would I do with practice pieces?  My solution is to make some "practice square" quilts, that will turn into donation quilts once I finish with them.  This way I get the practice and it remains something useful.  I actually made two really big practice squares, including the one above.  Here is the other:


These are simple square in a square in a square (in a square) pieces that finish at 36 inches square, perfect for donation to Sarah's Hands to Help Challenge this year.  Yes, they got wet when I took pictures because, yes, it was raining again, but don't worry--these will be washed well before they're donated.  These will certainly give me enough room to practice, don't you think?  (For anyone who is interested, I've posted the cutting sizes for these quilts at the end of this post.) 

I've already been practicing some, including on the doll quilts, and during my sew day with Nancy I managed to quilt and bind this little quilt, which is also 36 inches square:


I did not make any of these blocks.  They are from a swap that I did with a quilt group a few years ago.  I made this little top with leftovers from a larger top, which is still unquilted.  The quilting here is better seen from the back:


It's mainly straight lines, but hey--no puckers or wrinkles! It's simple but I like it.  Everything fit perfectly and the quilting went fast.  I have another one basted and ready to go, too:


This was also a small top that I actually cut down a bit to make it 36 inches square.  You may recognize the pattern as Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion.  This is all I managed to make of that pattern, and I plan to be a little more adventurous with the quilting on this one.  Maybe I'll make some spirals!  Or diamonds!

By the way--the two little quilts that I've already basted are spray basted, and I hate it except that they did not move at all when I was stitching things.  Usually, I thread baste quilts, which I think is just as fast and easy and far better than pinning.  Is spray basting supposed to smell that awful?  I had to air out the quilts before I could work on them.  Plus, they were quite sticky.  I may have to wash them twice to be sure I get all the basting spray out before they're donated.  Any suggestions, maybe for a better brand?  I used June Tailor's Quilt Basting Spray.  Definitely not my favorite!

So there are my practice squares!  I did get both the book and the Craftsy class by Jacquie Gering, and have found the book a bit more helpful.  The class is good but repetitive, and really geared toward beginners.  I haven't tried her more advanced class, though. 

Hope you're all having a wonderful week!  As a last comment, look what popped into bloom on Easter Sunday:


Spring is finally coming!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Square baby quilt measurements:
 
To make the 36-inch square in a square tops, begin with a 9-1/2 square in the center, then cut the following pieces and join them around the square in order.  Squares can be oversized a bit and then trimmed to size after each round if you prefer. Be sure not to cut off your points!

Center-- 1 9-1/2 inch square
Round 1-- 1 10-1/4 inch square cut diagonally twice to make 4 triangles
Round 2-- 2 9-7/8 inch squares, each cut once diagonally to make 2 triangles, for a total of 4
Round 3-- 1 19-1/4 inch square cut diagonally twice
Round 4-- 2 18-7/8 inch squares, each cut once diagonally

21 comments:

  1. Your experience is encouraging. I've been thinking about buying that book, glad you recommend it. I'm Quilting a larger one today, about 42 x48. I'm just using a fleece backing, no batting. I've never had any problems with the walking foot. No bunching. I just pin baste with large pins, because I can't manage the little ones. It's been a lifesaver foot for me.

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  2. I, too, have pledged to practice quilting with my walking foot this year. I'm using Jacquie's Walk book to quilt a throw made of sashed 10" squares, trying a different pattern on each square. I love your square-in-a-square blocks and may just try them next. I pin baste. I do not react well to the sprays! Haven't thought about thread basting. Hmmm....

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  3. I use 505 basting spray and don't mind it; however, most of my quilts that I've basted are small mini quilts. I have yet to use it on a large quilt, and would likely spray it outside. I don't notice a smell, but many who use it on larger quilts do and encourage using it in an open air space. Janome just sent out an email about their Artistic Tack spray, which is supposed to be low VOC and no smell, able to be used indoors with no issues. I haven't tried it, and apparently it's only available at Janome dealers. I'm curious about how well it works.

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  4. Have you checked out Leah Day's new walking foot quilting book? She also has some free tutorials and videos on her website. Whatever you do, don't be afraid to try things your own way -- and for the record I despise spray basting ( the smell, the overspray, and the stickiness).

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  5. I use the 505 brand basting spray, and the smell doesn't bother me. I also find that with each quilt, I use less and less spray. There's a sweet spot between too much sticky stuff and not enough. It's easy to add a bit more on the edges if needed, but impossible to remove it if you overdo it!

    I'm also a bit skeptical that it actually "washes out." I've gotten spray on my hands and other surfaces, and after it dries it is NOT water soluble. It becomes rather inert, like a layer of plastic, which doesn't bother me at all. It doesn't smell, or get strange in the dryer or anything. But if the thought of some slight chemical residue bothers you, you might consider sticking with thread basting. Just my experience, your mileage may vary :)

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  6. I am with you on FMQ. At zero. Walking Foot is my friend. I love love love the little doll quilt - so cute, so colorful!!! Yes, spring is here. I plucked some daffodils yesterday on my walk. Made me sing - almost. Going to see the cherry blossoms this weekend. Wish you were here :-)

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  7. I use 505 as several other commentors have mentioned. I use very little and it holds the layers together without making them stiff. I even have asthma and it doesn't bother me at all. I don't like much of anything made under the June Tailor brand. I'd encourage you to try the 505.

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  8. Fun practice quilts--and useful ones at that!! Small quilts are so satisfying and there's none of the fighting with gravity. Thanks for sharing the dimensions of these. I love your little star quilt and the way those little quarter triangle squares show up. And the Bonnie Hunter design. I love her quilts but get overwhelmed by the size. Your abbreviated quilt is just right. I'm not a spray baster because of my messy habits and the smell. (My over-developed sense of smell is a family joke.). I used to thread baste when I quilted exclusively by hand, but now I'm a dedicated pin baster, although I do pin my quilts to death and it takes me all day to get things laid out. I even pin for hand quilting now, but it's a pain when the pins get in the way of my hoop.

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  9. Good for you for tackling the walking foot quilting! That little star quilt is adorable, with it's spring colours and secondary design. Some child is going to love it, and you've gained some experience with the quilting. Winning all round! Thanks for the square in a square dimensions.

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  10. My FM quilting stinks. I can straight stitch or wave stitch quilt. Those will be great practice tops for straight stitch quilting. I use Thermo Web Spray-N-Bond (purple can, NOT red can). I can use it inside without the smell. Yes, it leaves a sticky edge, but, just be careful of overspraying the edges, and it's manageable. It washes out nicely. You can get it at Walmart.

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  11. Love the quilts. I'm not a fan of spray basting because of the smell and feel of the quilt, I'm a pinner. My practice blocks always end up as cushions or mug rugs. Handy as last minute presents xx

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  12. Your quilts are beautiful! Great job quilting those lines. Our daffodils are blooming here too, hurry up spring warmth!

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  13. I am not fond of smelly spray baste, but I am using up my can of June Tailor's. My friends recommend 505 with a light hand. And Linda at Flourishing Palms has a recipe for that she recommends.(http://flourishingpalms.blogspot.com/search?q=homemade+spray+baste I haven't tried it yet, it does need to be washed out, but I trust her recommendations.

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  14. I also hate wasting fabric to practice FMQ. Thanks for sharing the idea of making baby quilts and the cutting directions.

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  15. No puckers or wrinkles is a serious achievement - I'm still trying to master it but there's always one somewhere!!

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  16. Love those big square-in-a-square quilts. That is such a simple, but clever idea. I've not mastered my own quilting either. More failures than successes at this point, so I've been sticking to straight line quilting on small projects.

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  17. Very fun square in a square quilts. They will make for fun practice pieces. I've never tried the spray basting approach, so as usual, I'm not help on that front.

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  18. Sample block suggestion: I have a friend who makes all sample or practice blocks with Christmas fabrics. Every once in awhile, she has enough blocks for a Christmas quilt to gift to someone!

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  19. All pretty blocks. I do all of my FMQ and Walking Foot on a domestic sewing machine. Basting with thread helps me a lot. I finished Constellations with the Walking Foot. It will be posted soon on my blog.

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  20. I use 505 and really like it. I use it inside and the smell does not bother me. I put down a large sheet of plastic before I do any spraying so I don't get any over spraying on my carpet. I fold up the plastic and reuse it. 505 is slightly tacky and I can reposition if needed. Love your quilts and FMQ!

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