Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tutorial: Zig-Zag Quilt

You can make your own Zig-Zag Quilt top from stash scraps, and it's not too difficult!

Main requirement for piecing this quilt top:
72 white pieces of fabric, 4.5" square
72 print pieces of fabric, 4.5" square

You'll also need:
- additional yardage for sashing, backing, and binding
- batting for the center of the quilt sandwich

Side Note: Someone asked me how I get the fabric for my stash and how I chose the colors for this quilt.  My stash was built up from fat-quarters and yardage for garment sewing.  I am a bit compulsive after sewing projects.  I can't remember where I got the idea to save scraps larger than 2" square after sewing projects.  But, that's what I do. After a project, I cut down the smaller bits of fabric into two categories: strips or squares.  I trim the squares to be 4.5" because that's the size of my plastic template.  And the smaller stuff gets turned into strips or dresden plates.  Then, I have little clear plastic bags where these scraps are organized by color.  Obsessive yes, but hey, it made this project a real snap!



First, the basis of this quilt is the half-square triangle.  It's known in the quilting world as the HST.  After you've mastered that, you're pretty much set to go.  Here's how I did the HSTs for this quilt...


As described above, I started with two fabric squares in contrasting colors of identical size.  In the case of the Zig-Zag Quilt, I started with squares that measured 4.5".  As long as all your squares are consistently cut and pieced, it's all good.  Each pairing makes 2 HSTs.  You lay one white, one color square with right sides together.  Mark the diagonal, and stitch 1/4" above and below the mark.  Then, cut across the diagonal mark, open, and press the two squares you just made.  I do loads of squares at a time by chain piecing and then press them all at once... I learned this from Craftsy's 2012 Block of the Month with Amy Gibson - the February video here is all about the HST.

Once you've made a bunch of these HSTs, they can be combined in so many different ways!


In the case of the Zig-Zag Quilt, here's how I pieced the top:


Each row of zig-zags used 24 HSTs.
The final quilt had 6 lines of zig-zags, which equals 144 HSTs.
This also means that I started with a total of 144 squares of fabric: 72 color and 72 white squares.

In any case, once I had the long pieced rows of zig-zags, I carefully joined them across these rows, making sure to use pins to line up all the seams.  I tend to press my seams open, and this was no exception.



Next, I added sashing to the outer edge of the top (that white outer frame).  My sashing had extra width to it.  If I remember correctly, the sashing was 6" wide so I could trim it down if I had to square up the quilt after free-motion quilting.  I didn't end up FMQing, but it's always good to have a bit of wiggle room for squaring up.

You cut your batting (the fluffy middle) about 4" longer and wider than your top so you have 2" of adjustment... just in case!

For me, the trickiest part of this quilt was the backing.  If you have a really vertical/horizontal element on the back like in my version of the quilt, you want to be sure to hand-baste a few cross-hairs across the quilt so it's accurately aligned to the front.  I ran a line of basting down the center of the big vertical element, and across both the horizontal elements.  This help me to be sure it was oriented correctly to the quilt top. If you want to avoid this extra step, just use a non-directional print, and a whole cloth style for the back.


My first quilts lacked this kind of precision (and were really wonky) because I didn't understand how important basting was.  Once you learn to hand-baste quickly, there's no excuse! It takes a few minutes for a quilt of this size.  I did both pin and hand-basting for this quilt.

Lastly, is the actual quilting.  First, I stitched in the ditch (along the main zig-zags).  Then, I echo-quilted which means I ran a line of stitching about 3/8" away from the zig-zags.  I just used my presser foot's width as a guide.  Then, I quilted the sashing, added the binding (that final outer edge) using this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew and Mary on Lake Pulaski.

And, that was it!

The final quilt including the sashing and binding is 51" x 51".
The main print for the backing is Tula Pink's "Turtle Bay" print from her 2011 collection "Prince Charming" in Indigo.  Everything else was scraps and leftovers from my stash.

I hope this tutorial helps clarify the process of quilting something like this improvised quilt.  Have you ever quilted before?  What were your first quilts like?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Zig Zag Quilt Finished!

Happy Easter!  And, happy finished Zig-Zag Quilt!

The FMQ foot for my new machine is still on back-order so I decided I should just stop waiting and finish the quilt.  So... I did!




 I used a couple of tools to help me finish the quilt which I can recommend...


Firstly, I used the Robert Kaufmann Android phone app to help me calculate how much fabric I needed for binding and sashing.  You can find that here.  For i-phones you can find it on i-tunes.

Secondly, I used this tutorial to get a kind of hand cross-stitch look with a plain old zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine using this tutorial here.

It looks like this when finished...


On the front, the finish is invisible, but the back has a pseudo-cross-stitch look which I really like!

And, that's about it.  I cut the striped binding fabric across the stripes so it would make a checkered border, and echo quilted the zig-zags to add some interest and structure.  I'm really pleased with how it came out, and hopefully the baby will enjoy crawling on it and being cozy in it!  I'll post a tutorial in case you all want to make your own zig-zag quilt.  It's fairly straightforward.

Monday, April 14, 2014

FO's: Baby Stuffs

Baby stuff is so satisfyingly quick to make!!  I guess there's extra motivation when you've only got a few more weeks left in a pregnancy to "finish" everything on your to-do list.  In my case, I've had to put the Zig-Zag Quilt on hold because my free-motion quilting foot is on back order.  If I don't get it by this week, I'll just do simple zig-zag echo quilting and call it a day.

In the meantime, here are a few of the things I've been knitting and sewing...

Baby Booties


These are one of the quickest and most satisfying knitted items you can make, and these are made with all the mini leftover skeins I wind after a project so they're a bit of a motley crew.  These booties used sock and sport weight yarns and this pattern is called Christine's Stay-On Baby Booties.



Baby Items & Accessories

I photographed my latest sewing and knitting exploits together.  These include knitted and sewn hats, leggings, sleep sacks, etc.



From the top...

A) Hipster Cred Hat - made with SMC soft merino yarn in 2 colors - pattern from Dilettant Knits
B) Baby Bedtime Bag - made from a recycled t-shirt - pattern from Running with Scissors
C) Tie-Top Baby Hats - made with knit scraps - pattern from Tie Dye Diva via Sew Mama Sew
D) Baby Leggings - made from knit fabric and scraps for waistband - free pattern that came with Baby Bedtime Bag from Running with Scissors
E) Reversible Baby Bonnet - fabric scraps featuring prints from Tula Pink's Prince Charming - pattern from the book "Hat Shop: 25 Projects to Sew..."

And, I'm hoping that everything goes well in the next few weeks!  I'd love to get the quilt finished before baby comes.  Yep, I think I'm going to forgo FMQ plans and get straight to it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

MK Tutorial: Mitered Detail with Short Rows


This tutorial is a machine knitting tutorial that leads up to the publishing of my pattern, "Mitered Detail Cardigan."  The mitered detail in the pattern can be accomplished in two ways.  The first way described in the pattern, is with short rows (also known as partial knitting) and by wrapping each stitch as they are put on hold.  In order to best show what I mean, I made a video tutorial for this one...



Just in case it's too blurry in the video, here are detailed photos of what it looks like to "reactivate" a stitch into working position.

Wrap & stitch back in the hook part of the needle.

Wrap & stitch ready in working position ready to knit.

Here's a mini sample showing the detail on the front and back.  I think the color pooling of the yarn helps show the order in which things were knit.  The green section happened first, then the purple.  With WS (wrong side - in this case the purl side) facing, this block was worked from left to right.




Thursday, April 3, 2014

FO: Mitered Detail Cardigan II

Finished the second prototype!  I really like this version - I made one size larger, which extended the sleeves and front a bit, and that's made a huge difference in fit.  I should be releasing the pattern soon since the MKAL (machine knit-along) is almost done.


The pattern writing is nearly complete, and now that the sample is done, I can weigh it and make further yardage and yarn requirement estimates.  I can't wait to get it published!  I'm wondering, though, if I should get someone else to model the back... it's... well, it's a bit of an insecurity at the moment.  I'm feeling very large, and that's something I've never felt before.  It's taking some mental readjustment, but I'll come to terms with it soon enough.  I've just got this one body to inhabit, you know?


In the meantime, I'm so excited to have this very spring green, very wearable cardigan for the season!