Thanks for your kind comments on my garden! Got out there yesterday morning and cleaned up another bed. Filled two large trashcans just in time for the compost pickup. Swore off gardening today when my back got twangy while walking the dog this morning. Hum, what to do with myself???
Blocking always brings satisfaction. Every pin from the cushion is on the job.
This go round I used blocking wires for the straight sides. They really helped with pulling all the blocks to the same dimensions. I need to get another layer or two of cardboard under this so the pins can go in further. There are two cutting mats under this to protect the table, but not much purchase for the pin tips. The curves in the middle overlap slightly to conserve pins.
These six will join the first five. Whoo Hoo --- halfway done! There's one from the first batch that I don't think will make the final cut, so I'm expecting to knit 21 squares. I LOVE how the colors change as you move around the room. At first I worried some of these skeins would be too bright for my taste, but they don't feel that way now when they're all together.
Also got time on my sewing machine today.
I'd forgotten all about these quilted coasters, which were started before school ended and just waiting to be quilted. They're all Rowan fruit and veggie prints on one side and Kaffe's dots on the other. Gave the first six done in reds to R's teacher as part of her end-of-year gift, but I don't seem to have a photo of that 11th-hour project. Might do another bunch in red - I liked those. The first few finished ones of these bright fabrics have been scattered around the house all summer. They're perfect for catching condensation from a cold glass on a warm day.
After sewing a big stack I've got a few tips for mass production. These are still waiting to be quilted, but I got most of the piecing done in one or two sessions.
There are coaster recipes in Last-Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts and Bend-the-Rules Sewing. I say "recipes" because I don't really consider sewing a little square a pattern. That's not a negative about either of these books. Both women have produced wonderful books loaded with inspiration and do-it-today projects. After looking through each I choose to make a bunch of these and tie them together in gift stacks. I'll give them both credit for bringing the idea to my attention.
Made my first one basically from the L-M P & Q book. Anytime I'm planning to make so many of something I get focused on improving production to suit my style. The following are my modifications that I found made the sewing faster and easier and the finished product neater.
Nancy's Quilted Coaster Tips
Cut batting 1/2" smaller than the fabric squares. I used scraps of 100% cotton Warm & Natural Batting from quilt projects. I love the smooth density of the W&N cotton - it lays flat, but has some heft and absorbs liquid. The fabric was cut 5" square, the batting 4.5". The finished coasters are 4.5".
Stack fabrics right sides together, then place the batting centered on top. Enough of the batting will get caught when you sew to hold it in place until quilting, but there will be no bulk in the seam or trimming in the seams required afterward.
Sew a 1/4" seam around, just catching at the edge of the batting and leaving an opening to turn it right side out just as you would for a pillowcase quilt or finishing the top of a tote. Cut off extra fabric from the corners to reduce bulk. It will look like this:
Notice those two little seams going off the fabric on the right side of this photo? Those are from a really cool tip I got from Lara, who left a comment on my Tote Bag Tutorial.
Start by sewing a 1/4" long seam in from the raw edge, stopping just at at the batting, pivot and sew around as usual until you get back to the starting side. Leave enough room to turn it right side out, pivot again, then sew off the raw edge of the fabric. No back-tacking and no loosened seams after the turning! The very best part is that the two fabrics will turn together smoothly and tuck right in over the batting with almost no effort. No fuss, no muss. Perfect! This was so much easier, especially when doing a stack of them. Thanks so much Lara.
Chain piecing this method was easy. When you finish one you'll be sewing perpendicular to the regular seam. Just place the new one next to it and sew 1/4" to the batting.
Pivot both pieces.
With the presser foot up, carefully snip off the finished one. Be sure to lower the presser foot before you start seaming the new one.
Turn the seamed coaster right side out and use a bone folder to push out the corners out and smooth the side seams from the inside.
My bone folder is from my stamping and bookbinding toolbox, hence the ink and glue residue. I think there's something like this made of wood that's sold as a quilting tool and that I'm sure would work just as well. Mainly you want a flat tool with a good point, but nothing that will cut or mark.
Iron flat and quilt as desired.
Started with quilting the spiraling square shown in L-M Patchwork using a walking foot, but got bored with all that pivoting after about seven or eight coasters. Realized these were perfect mini playgrounds for free-motion quilting, so now I'm goofing off a lot more.
Use a walking foot to run the 1/8" seam around the outside to close the opening and give the edge a neat look, then drop the feed dogs and put on the darning foot. No marking, no over-thinking. Just play. These flowers are fun, but I still find myself tensing up as I sew, so I'm happy for the safe practice time.
The best ones will go into gift bundles and the ones with ... special character ... will be for home. The really special ones will become rugs in Littlest Pet Shop land and the doll house.
Time to watch the Olympics and finish off that magical bubbling raspberry brew that says summer to me. It's got an amazing essence. If only you could scratch-n-sniff!