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Greek Key Quilt Complete

Just a reminder that my Greek Key Quilt-Along wraps up today on Bernina’s website, We All Sew! Of course, the final instructions post goes live today, but all of the Greek Key posts will be available indefinitely. So you can make this quilt any time you feel like it, whether you’re keeping up with the quilt-along or not. : )

I’ve also got a few simple hints in today’s post for doing the diagonal straight-line quilting that I used above, so go check it out. And don’t forget to hashtag #greekkeyquilt, so that we can all admire your hard work!

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WIP Wednesday: In Line

Well, what can I say? I’ve just been quilting my Greek Key quilt. Yep, that’s about the sum of things this week: Gettin’ her done. : )

This one is pretty minimal for me, and it’s reminded me of the importance of simplifying. I have a tendency to get pretty complex with my designs (sometimes too complex), so going the minimal route was a welcome departure. Note to self: There’s beauty in simplicity too. And even when I’m designing/making something that is intentionally more complex, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t use my critical eye to try to pare things down where I can!

Want to make something minimal with me? This bad boy will be a quilt-along on the Bernina’s We All Sew very soon!

What are you working on this week? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

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WIP Wednesday: Pre-Vacay

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
So I’ve got a little vacation coming up, which of course means three times as much work while I get ready for the vacation. That’s always the way, right?

But when I’m not hard at work on my preparations to relax, here’s what I’ve been doing …

… some straight-line quilting (can’t show you more than this, sorry)

… using Monica Solorio-Snow‘s Sew Yummy fabric line for Cloud 9 in a fun little block (more on that in a bit)

… cutting into this lovely stack of Emmy Grace by Bari J for Art Gallery Fabrics

… and admiring my Aviatrix Medallion in Cotton + Steel (though not necessarily making any progress on it).

And speaking of vacation, WIP Wednesday is going on one too, while I’m gone! There will be NO WIP Wednesday the last two weeks of July. But feel free to carry on, on Instagram—you guys don’t really need me over there, do you? : ) WIP Wednesday will officially be back on August 6 with guest host Cori of Let’s Eat Grandpa, and then I’ll be back in the saddle on August 13. (And don’t worry, I’m leaving you with some other pre-written, pre-scheduled blog posts while I’m gone!)

This week’s WIP Wednesday sponsor:
Today let’s thank my newest sponsor, Shabby Fabrics! Shabby Fabrics is having a huuuuuuuge Christmas in July sale, July 18-21, with ALL Christmas fabric 30% off—including the brand new collections! Head over there now to check out their newly redesigned website and add to your wishlist so you’re ready for Friday’s sale. Remember, if you love WIP Wednesday, you can say thank you by supporting my wonderful sponsors!
This week’s giveaway:
Shabby Fabrics is offering a FQ bundle of Jolly Christmas by Debbie Mumm, to get that holiday sewing kicked off! To win, do either of the following (or do both for two chances): 1) Link up your own WIP Wednesday post or Instagram photo below; and/or 2) sign up for Shabby Fabrics’ newsletter, like Shabby Fabrics on Facebook, or follow the Shabby Fabrics blog. Then comment below that you’ve done so.
Here’s how to link up:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @freshlypieced.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

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Jungle Ave. Quilt

You guys! I made another quilt using Sara Lawson’s Jungle Ave. line, and I never blogged it! Let’s fix that right now, shall we?

 

I wanted a chance to showcase Sara’s amazing print that brings the “jungle” directly to the “urban.” But this is a classic case of a print I just couldn’t bear to cut up. In small pieces, it would lose its sense of fun and uniqueness. So I made it the background of a single-star quilt design.
I admit, it was a little nerve-wracking using this print for the background of this quilt design. I had to think long and hard about the construction of this quilt, so that it was put together in such a way that minimized the number of seams. Again, I just didn’t want to break up this print any more than I absolutely had to!
That meant triangles. And triangle math. Triangle math is not my forté. But I did eventually manage to come up with a quilt that looked like my sketch. It might not be quite the size I originally planned, but nobody’s perfect. : )
Anyway, I really love how this one turned out. I love how you can take a single star like this one and make it more dynamic, so that the design expands over the entire quilt. And the straight-line quilting on my Bernina was smooth as butter, of course.
Sara’s Jungle Ave. line will be hitting stores in June—you can get a fat-quarter bundle with some coordinating Art Gallery basics at the Fat Quarter Shop. And I’ll be releasing a pattern for my other Jungle Ave. quilt, Gridlock, very soon! Stay tuned!
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Twin Quilts for Twin Girls

The twin baby quilts that I was working on last week for my soon-to-arrive twin nieces were finished and gifted to the mom-to-be over the weekend. What a fun challenge to come up with baby quilts that were a matched pair, but not identical—just like their future little owners. : )

I found out at the baby shower that they’re leaning toward Rose as a name for one of the babies, so it’s a happy coincidence that I pieced one of these quilts in rosy pinks. In fact, this quilt features one of my recent favorite Kona colors, Pomegranate.
And the other quilt is all in “my” colors—aqua and lime green and teal. I thought it would be a nice touch to do one of the quilts in warm colors and the other in cool colors.
The blocks in both quilts are paper-pieced blocks from Vintage Quilt Revival (of course!). The pink quilt has the Geometric Star block (I guess I’m kind of addicted to doing this block in solids, since I used it in this quilt as well). The pink quilt got straight vertical-line quilting.
The teal quilt has the Exploding Star block, which has great dimensionality. I decided on angled straight-line quilting for that one. In case you’re curious how I do my quilting, in this case I marked the center quilting line with painter’s tape, using the 45-degree angle in the block and my longest ruler to guide me. I sewed right next to the painter’s tape for that first quilting line, then removed the tape and quilted outward on either side from there, lining up the previous line of stitches with the side of my walking foot. This kind of narrowly-spaced straight line quilting can take a while, but it’s so worth it!
I have to admit, the back on the teal quilt is a lot more fun. Yep, wood grain again—you know how I love my wood grains! This one is from Joel Dewberry’s True Colors collection from Free Spirit, supplemented by a Laura Gunn Painter’s Canvas print. Sadly, I didn’t have any good matching rosy pink prints for the back of the pink quilt, so that one got an Architectures Crosshatch instead.
And the best part of all: My sweet sister-in-law told me after she opened them, “I was hoping I would get a quilt from you! I didn’t even register for any blankets because I wanted a quilt!” I can’t think of a better compliment from a recipient of one of my quilts. : ) Can’t wait to meet these baby girls, and I hope everybody (mom and babies) enjoys their quilts!
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WIP Wednesday: Quilt On

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Happy Wednesday! I feel like I’m juggling a lot of WIPs lately, so let’s get to it, while I try to keep all these balls in the air. : )

I finally took the plunge and started quilting Crazytown. (And yes, a Crazytown pattern is in the works! Just hold your horses!) I was lucky enough to see some quilts by Jacquie Gering of Tallgrass Prairie Studios over the weekend, and her creative use of a walking foot in her quilting inspired me to try something similar on Crazytown. I dialed up this multi-stitch zig-zag, and away I went. I love how it’s turning out!

Speaking of Jacquie, here are my “precise improv” slice-and-insert blocks from a workshop that I took with Jacquie on Sunday. I liked the idea of slicing-and-inserting only in straight, 90-degree lines—no angles here! I made these with a gorgeous bundle of Oakshott shot cottons. Now I just need to decide what they’ll become: Pillow? Mini quilt?

Here are Faith and I with Jacquie at the workshop (photo courtesy of Faith). If you have the opportunity to take a class with Jacquie, I highly recommend it! Her tips made me feel like I could actually be an improv quilter. LOL.

And you guys: I’m starting something new today. WIP Wednesday will now have a sponsor each week!* This week’s WIP Wednesday is sponsored by Westwood Acres, a well-organized shop with a great fabric selection.

Photo courtesy of Westwood Acres

One of shop owner Amanda’s specialties is bundling, so check out her amazing bundle-of-the-month clubs, including a Liberty club for all you Liberty of London fans, and the “Inside Voices” club, offering hand-selected low-volume bundles that you won’t find anywhere else. Inside Voices is currently sold out, but Amanda tells me they’ve almost got enough people to add another set of bolts, so don’t hesitate to get on the list if you’re interested!

Okay, back to you! What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog.
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

*You may have noticed that I added paid sponsors to the blog a few months ago. This was a decision I struggled with literally for years. I didn’t want it to look like I was “selling out” or compromising. And I didn’t want to clutter up my little corner of the web with a million ads. But the simple truth is that it takes money and time (lots and lots of time!) to run this blog the way I want to, so sponsors became a necessary part of the equation. As a result, I think I’ve got a nice little collection of good places to shop on that sidebar over there, which I hope you will use as a resource when you’re looking for fabric. And each Wednesday, I’d like to introduce you to one of my sponsors. Please show them some love for making WIP Wednesday possible! 

 

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Cartwheels Number Three

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As promised, here’s my latest Cartwheels quilt finish—this time in Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park line. (The Cartwheels pattern is available here.)

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First of all: Kind of in love with these colors right now. Second: How great is that stripy print as a binding? Pretty great.

Cartwheels for Market
And all that straight-line quilting? Not my favorite to do, but I like how it looks. And I needed to do something very different from the free-motion stippling I did on my previous two Cartwheels quilts! But now the edges of the quilt are a little wavy and won’t lie quite flat. I’m guessing it’ll flatten out after washing, but this quilt is headed to Quilt Market, so I didn’t want to wash it until after that. At any rate, it’s done and shipped off to where it needs to be for Market display later this week, so this one’s in the books.
If you’re a shop owner headed to Market, keep an eye out for this quilt—you can order the Cartwheels pattern or my other current patterns from Checker or Pattern Peddlers (or directly from me, of course!).
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WIP Wednesday with guest blogger Liz from Shush – I’m Quilting

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Hellllooooo quilty friends! It’s Liz here from Shush – I’m Quilting.* I’m talking as loud as I can in the hope that you can hear me all the way from down here in New Zealand.

I’m coolly okay about hanging out here at Freshly Pieced today for WIP Wednesday—I didn’t get all skittish or anything when Lee emailed to let me know the exciting news. Nope, I did not run into lounge room squealing at hubby that – yay – I’m guest blogging at Freshly Pieced (response: *blank stare* “what’s guest blogging?” Me: humph off to email my best quilty friends, who were much more excited for me). Anyway, it’s very nice to meet all of you who haven’t popped down to Shush before.

What have you been up to this week? I have just finished my straight line quilting on my lattice quilt. The patchwork portions have been stippled. This quilt has been such a roller coaster ride, but I love it now—I just want it finished. I’m soooo close though and I have a chocolate and white striped fabric just waiting to be the binding. See, it’s all ready to go.

Yippee. Quilting: tick.
Binding: all ready to go. Do you do this? Pop it on your machine’s spare spool. It stops binding tangle, I tell you!

While doing this quilt, I discovered a cool, new-to-me way to do straight line quilting around blocks. Instead of having to manhandle my quilt through the sewing machine to sew around the squares, I hit on the genius idea of quilting backwards once I hit the bit where you have to turn the wide part of the quilt through the machine. See:

Yep – I quilted backwards to get there.  Yes I did.  And it worked just fine.

I discovered that going backwards I have to lengthen my stitch length from 3 to 3.3 because my machine stitches a bit shorter in reverse (I quilt on a Bernina 550 QE)—but other than that, it saved me heaps of turning agony. You just need to remember to put it back into forward stitching once you turn the corner again. Or you might have a whoopsie and go back in the wrong place.  I totally didn’t do that. Not at all.

Tell me I’m not the only person who does this. I’m not totally alone in my craziness, right? Right?Are you still there?

Anyway, fingers crossed it should be bound by Friday and then I’ll have a real, grown-up finish. We’ll see …

Other than that, I have done a little more on my EPP diamond blocks. I love these, which is pretty surprising given how much I hate hand piecing.

Little birds trapped in cages for my fabricky pleasure.
No I’m not unpicking the one I sewed in upside-down!

Here is Princess** photo-bombing my blocks to show me her favourite one. No surprise there—it’s the vintage dolls. I think it’s my favourite too!

Is this my quilt Mummy? It needs to be bigger. Me: No kidding honey.

Anyway, that’s enough gabbling from me. I’m sure you’ve got something fabulous to show us. Pop on over to Shush if you want to have a look in at my gorgeous little fabricky and chocolatey giveaway. I’d love to see you.

* Why Shush, you ask? Well, because my day job is being a meany-pants banking lawyer and so we keep shush on my lovely nighttime quilty alter ego. My work mates just don’t get it, anyway!
** My fashion conscious and stroppy three year old. She thinks I quilt solely for her pleasure. She’s not far wrong!

What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab the WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

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WIP Wednesday: More Quilting

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Good morning, and happy WIP Wednesday!

Quilting the herringbone baby quilt
I finished my chevron baby quilt top this week, so now I’m back at it with the straight line quilting. (I marked the vertical strips with my red FriXion pen
so that I know where to turn as I’m following the angles of the herringbone pieces. I’m loving these FriXion pens for quilting! Just hit with an iron or wash the quilt to remove.)

Updated to add: Since there seems to be a lot of interest in the comments about the FriXion pens, here’s the full low-down on how they work and their possible problems, as far as I understand it. These pens can be removed with an iron or by washing the quilt. Ironing, however, may not completely remove the ink in all cases—some colors of the pens apparently can leave whitish marks on some colors of fabric. However, my understanding is that any “leftover” marks do come out entirely once the quilt is washed. There are also people who say that after ironing, the ink comes back if the quilt gets really cold! As bizarre as that sounds, this is a concern for me, living in Wisconsin—if I have to put a quilt in my car or something, the marks could come back. But again, supposedly this won’t happen once the quilt is washed. (I haven’t had the opportunity to test any of these scenarios myself, but I did a bit of research online before I used them, and this seems to be the general consensus.) So I would recommend caution with any quilt you’re not planning to wash when it’s complete. Always test! But if you know you’ll be washing the quilt, then you’re probably good to go.

Quilting the herringbone baby quilt
Since it’s a baby quilt, I want it to stay nice and soft, so I’m thinking less quilting is more on this one. We’ll see what I end up with though.

Hey, don’t forget, my new Sparkler quilt pattern is on sale for just $3.99—that’s half off! The sale ends Friday, so get it while the getting’s good! You can buy it here or here.

What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab the WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links.

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Sewing Machine Feet: What I Use and How I Use Them

A recent Instagram post about a new foot I picked up for my Janome Horizon 7700 and a resulting conversation at a guild meeting has me thinking that a post might be in order about what feet I use on my machine, and specifically how I use them. Because, like many things in life, I don’t always use them in the prescribed manner. : ) So let’s take a look, shall we?

My machine had the fabulous selling feature of coming with about a gajillion feet—so it should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I spend 99% of my time using the same four feet. And two of them weren’t even included in the package that came with the machine. : ) Figures, right?

For piecing:

Acufeed 1/4-Inch Foot 
Works with Janome 6600 and 7700; a slightly different version is available for the 8900 and 12000
I use this foot more than any in the drawer. This is my machine’s version of a walking foot, but I don’t use it for quilting! I use it for piecing. Why? Because when you’re using a standard presser foot, it can push the top and bottom layers of fabric at different rates of speed, which of course can bump your seams out of alignment. This is especially true on long seams, such as those between sashing and rows of blocks—the longer the seam, the more out-of-whack it gets. By using your walking foot (or a dual-feed system if your machine has one), you don’t have that problem. In fact, you can even sometimes compensate for slight piecing problems by forcing seams to align when they wouldn’t on their own. It’s a beautiful thing. : )

Just be aware that on some machines your seams might get a little wavy, especially when you try to force seams to line up when they are just too mis-aligned. I’ve had slightly wavy seams in the past, but they always seem to quilt up just fine, so I don’t worry about it. Another problem you might run into is that some walking feet tend to be big and bulky, making it difficult to achieve a 1/4-inch seam, and many machines don’t have a compatible 1/4-inch walking foot (I don’t understand why more machines don’t have this option available). This is just one of many reasons I love my 7700—Janome’s Acufeed dual-feed system works like a charm, and there are a wide variety of feet available for it.

1/4-Inch Piecing (O2) Foot
Works with most Janome models and other brands with low-shank snap-on feet, such as Brother, Baby Lock, Elna, and Kenmore
This is my secondary piecing foot. For short seams or blocks that don’t require a lot of accuracy, I sometimes use this foot. But mostly I stick with the Acufeed 1/4-inch foot.

For straight-line quilting:

 

Basic Acufeed Foot
Works with Janome 6600 and 7700
This is the standard Acufeed foot that comes with the 7700 and 6600. Combined with the quilting guide bar, it does the job, but this is the one machine foot I’m not completely happy with. For one thing, the guide bar is way too loose when inserted into the Acufeed foot. It’s the only serious design flaw in the 7700, in my opinion. I actually have to tape the guide onto the foot with masking tape before I start quilting, or it can get bumped out of place much too easily.

Also, this foot doesn’t make it easy if you’re trying to quilt straight lines a certain distance away from a seam. There’s no perfect place on the foot with which to line up the seam. And the 1/4″ Acufeed foot that I use for piecing isn’t helpful here either—it’s just too difficult to quilt with that pointy 1/4″ metal guide on the foot. I’m thinking about trying the Acufeed Open Toe Foot for straight-line quilting—I’ll let you know what I think if I eventually pick that one up.

For free-motion quilting:

Darning foot
This little beauty works perfectly for me. This is a pretty standard foot as far as FMQ goes, and it’s the one that came with my machine. If you want to do free-motion quilting, this is what you need (or the equivalent for your machine). The spring-loaded ones are generally best, given the option.

For binding:

Acufeed 1/4-Inch Foot 
Works with Janome 6600 and 7700; a slightly different version is available for the 8900 and 12000
And my hardest working foot is back on duty when it’s time to bind. : ) In addition to piecing, this foot is indispensable for stitching the binding onto the front of your quilt. An accurate 1/4-inch seam on your binding is crucial, especially if you plan to machine-stitch the binding onto the other side of the quilt as well. (Although, once again, walking feet for most machines aren’t designed with 1/4-inch piecing in mind.)

Acufeed Ditch Quilting Foot
Works with Janome 6600 and 7700; a slightly different version is available for the 8900 and 12000
If you want to machine-bind your quilts, you must spring for this foot! This foot was the subject of the Instagram post that got this whole discussion rolling. I don’t do much ditch quilting, but I do stitch in the ditch when I’m machine-binding (I stitch in the ditch on the front of the quilt in order to catch the binding around the back). So it occurred to me that the Acufeed Ditch Quilting foot might be perfect for that purpose—and sure enough, it was.

Just position the metal guide in the ditch between the quilt and the binding, and your needle will follow along and stay nicely in the ditch. I was able to sew much faster than I have in the past with machine binding, and it was more accurate too. (Edited to add: I use Clover Wonder Clips
to clip my binding down for ditch-stitching. They work great!)

Bonus tip:

Are the snap-on feet on your Janome getting too loose? See that little screw on the front of the shank? You can adjust that screw to tighten things up again. Mine got so loose that the snap-on feet were literally falling off the shank before I finally looked closely and realized I could adjust the screw.

Of course, if tightening the screw a little bit helps, then tightening it more must be even better, right? Wrong! Ask me how I know. : ) Yep, I stripped that little bugger. And rather than go to the trouble of finding another tiny set-screw, I ended up just ordering a whole new shank. Lesson learned. A quarter-turn or half-turn is probably all you need to tighten up those feet.

I hope these tips help! Happy sewing.