"She seeks wool & flax, And works willingly with her hands" ~ Proverbs 31:13

October 25, 2017

Double Wedding Ring Signature Quilt {The Making of....Part 2 of 2}

 See "Double Wedding Ring Signature Quilt {The Making of....Part 1 of 2}" HERE

Test Blocks before starting this quilt - testing whether my applique idea would work

Once the blocks were sent off with the bride for the big day it was time for me to start working on the things that needed to be done before the blocks could be sewn together. First up was hand embroidering the two center blocks, one with their wedding date and the other with their names. Next was to prep the border half blocks with an arc and corner triangles.

Upon the return of the blocks I discovered some amazing artwork on several of the blocks. 
These are just two of my favorite. 

After admiring all the artwork it was time to heat set the ink on all of the signed and drawn on blocks. Even though permanent fabric ink was used to sign the blocks, doing the extra step of heat seating the ink adds to the hope that the ink won't run or wash out overtime.

My heat setting process:
1. Protect ironing board from stray ink by covering it with a white cotton flour sack style dish towel (remove towel if ink transferred to it)
2. With iron set on cotton setting, iron each block with drawings and signatures
3. Allow to block to cool
4. In sink gently run cool water over block
5. Gently squeeze out water
6. Lay wet block on another white cotton dish towel
7. Roll towel up with block inside and squeeze out excess water
8. Cover ironing board with a dry flour sack dish towel and Unroll towel and lay damp block on it
9. Using iron on cotton setting press block until it is dry, being sure to move iron often so it doesn't scorch the block
10. Celebrate that the ink didn't run and it's ready for the quilt!

Once everything was heat set I stitched on the corner triangles. I used 3" squares, but if I were to do this quilt again I'd use 3-1/2" or 4" squares, then drew a diagonal line across the back and sewed directly on that line to attach it to each corner. Finally trimmed off the excess block and corner leaving a 1/4" seam. If I hadn't trimmed off the corners I would have been working with 3 layers of fabric on each corner and when the four blocks came together there would be 12 layers of fabric to work with, making for a very thick intersection and adding unnecessarily to the overall weight of the quilt.

Before proceeding farther the blocks went back up on the design wall in order with the hope that all blocks were returned. I've found that wedding guests are notorious for throwing away a block and signing another when they don't like how their signature/message came out on the block.  Which is a great reason to buy extra fabric and be prepared to make a few new blocks.

I was impressed that there was only one block missing.

It wasn't until I had the first two rows sewn together that I discovered that I had turned the corner block causing the arcs to not line up correctly. Thankfully it was an easy fix and  only required ripping out two seams, turning the block and sewing those seams back up.

If I remember correctly I didn't discover I had done my math incorrectly until after I had added the border. The bride had requested a Queen size quilt approx. 96" x 108".  But in the design process when I added the outside border to finish all of the rings I forgot to adjust the number of blocks needed. By the time I discovered my mistake and because of how this quilt goes together it was too late to make any changes. Which gave the bride a King size quilt finished at approx. 108" x 120". Thankfully a King size quilt fits nicely on a Queen size bed giving you really nice droop over the edges of the bed. Or it's a great excuse to upgrade to a King size bed.

Often I'm asked, "How do you decide what to quilt on a block or quilt?" 
There are several answers to that question. One being that I'm limited only by my ability, meaning if I can't figure out how to quilt a specific design or don't like how it looks when I've done it on a practice block then I move on to a different choice. But, with most every quilt I print off an 8-1/2" x11" picture of the quilt and even a single block and spend some time doodling different ideas and options.
From there I consider several things; the difficulty of actually stitching out those doodles, the time I have available to do the quilting (what kind of a deadline am I looking at?),  whether I want to quilt each block uniquely or quilt them all the same and of course which doodle is most pleasing to me and complimentary to the quilt.

Often times I'll spend a little time practicing the design I've chosen on a practice sandwich before starting on the actual quilt. I want to work out as many issues as I can before quilting starts.

    Step one: Outline stitching around all the arcs             Step two: Draw out the design to be quilted

Step three: Stitch out planned design
Step four: decide there are too many thread breaks required for this design
Step five: tweak stitching plan

 Step Six: Start stitching including what was             
just a reference line                                                    Step Seven: Use Curved Ruler for smooth curves

By stitching the X that I had planned to use only as a reference line I was able to stitch without having to break thread and only had to bury threads twice on each block instead of the 8 times I was going to have to do. Saved me a bunch of time!

I used a purple air soluble pen to mark my quilting design one block at a time. Since it disappears quicker with higher humidity and only lasts about 24 hours if the humidity is low enough I didn't want to spend time drawing all the designs and have them disappear before I could stitch them all.

When the corner triangles came together they created a square on which I could use the seam lines as my stitching guide to stitching a nice little flower that disappeared into the block.  

On the outer border I stitched parallel lines somewhat evenly spaced, except for in a couple of spots to add some interest. I suppose you'd call it a stitched piano key border.

Dark brown binding to frame it all

With the quilt being so large it's a fairly heavy quilt. I didn't think this fact through before I tried hanging it on my quilt display rod for pictures. It was heavy enough that it permanently bent the rod. If it's ever hung the hangers will need to be firmly attached before the quilt goes on it.

Quilt Stats:

Quilt Name: "Double Wedding Ring Guest Signature Quilt"
 Finished size: 108" x 120"
Quilt Pattern: Double Wedding Ring Applique
Batting: Quilters Dream Cotton - Select
Quilting Thread: 50wt. Aurifil - Silver White #2309 & Gutermann - Midnight #278
Quilting: Free Motion Quilted using my Artistic Quilter Sit Down 18 Long Arm

Thank you for stopping by and sharing in my quilting journey!
Happy Quilting and God Bless,

September 27, 2017

Double Wedding Ring Signature Quilt {The Making of....Part 1 of 2}

A couple of years ago a dear friend sent her future daughter-in-law love to me with the request to create a signature quilt for her wedding.  I showed her several options with one of them being a the double wedding ring. But, instead of pieced in the traditional manner the arcs would be appliqued to 12-1/2" squares and the guests would sign in the center of the square. 

The advantage to this option was that the arcs created a space for the guests to sign that didn't allow them to write off into the seam allowance where their message would be lost inside the quilt.  Over the years I've found that no matter how many times you tell a person not to write in the seam allowance, even if it's been marked, some of them will still write in that forbidden area. Giving them prepared blocks helps keep the signers contained in the desired area.

As we discussed color options the bride expressed that she wanted it to be pretty, but nothing too foo-foo or frilly so that it would be something that her husband would like and enjoy as well. We choose Pearl White for the background fabric and went with a combination of blues and browns that played well together.

To cut the arcs I used the solid arc template from Marti Michell's Double Wedding Ring Template Set. With careful placement I was able to cut more arc than I imagined I would be able to out the fabric we had. Thankfully being careful gave me extra fabric which came in handy after the wedding when we discovered two of the blocks had been lost or thrown away and needed to be remade.

 I used iron-on Feather Weight Heat-n-Bond interfacing to create the arcs.
(My process described below)

I found that the interfacing was thin enough to cut four layers at a time. I probably could have gotten away with cutting at least two more layers, but I didn't want to risk it.

I cut everything first: 
3" squares for the corners (set aside to be used after the blocks are signed), 
12-1/2" Pearl White squares, 
12-1/2" x 6-1/2" Pearl White rectangles (for border - also used later), 
Arcs in each print, 
Interfacing Arcs.

I paired an interfacing arc with a fabric arc making sure that the rough side of the interfacing was facing the right side of the fabric.

Then it was stitching time to stitch the long edges of each arc, but leaving the two short ends open.  I chose to chain stitch one side of the arc at a time.

Once all of the arc pieces were sewn together I clipped all the seam allowances and then started carefully turning the arcs inside out. If the interfacing was sewn correctly once the arcs were turned the glue of the interfacing is facing out so that it can be ironed to the background fabric. 

Here's a video I posted on the Little Pink Rose Facebook page showing how I went about turning the arc tubes.

 Once all the tubes were turned it was time to start use my flannel design wall and start playing with layout options. Taking pictures of each option and send them off to the bride for her decision/suggestions. I came up with two options 1) random circles all over the quilt and 2) matching prints arranged diagonally across the quilt with the brown and blue alternating every other row.

Random layout

The random layout felt like chaos to me. It didn't give the eye anywhere to rest. 
But the diagonal layout seemed peaceful, even restful. I hoped the bride would choose the diagonal layout, but of course I would do it wever she chose. 

Diagonal Layout

 I was thrilled when she wrote back that she really liked the diagonal layout and chose it.
From there I printed off the picture of her choice so that I would have a master plan to refer to and work from. I marked the rows A-I down the left side of the picture and 1-8 across the top. Since each block was unique and would need to fit in a specific place in the quilt, I would mark the blocks with its corresponding letter and number. This would make things much easier once the blocks were returned from the wedding.

With the layout decision made it was time to start stitching arcs to the 12-1/2" squares. Before proceeding any further I marked a 1/4" seam allowance around the edge of each block with a water soluble pen. This would serve as a reference line for me as I ironed the arcs in place, being sure to work all of the interfacing out of sight. Once the arcs were all ironed in place and laid out on the design wall once again to verify that everything was correct, I used an invisible applique stitch to stitch all of edges down including the short edges. For this step I used Aurifil 50wt. white thread in the bobbin and clear YLI monofilament thread in the needle.

Once everything was sewn in place back up on the design wall all the blocks went.  Now it was time to mark the center blocks for some specific things.

 The center two blocks were going to be hand embroidered with the bride and groom's names and their wedding date. Then the blocks surround those blocks were to be reserved for messages from the bride and groom to one another, messages from each of their parents as well as messages from the Maid of Honor and the Bestman. I made note of whom each of the designated blocks were to be signed by and pinned those notes to the blocks. The rest of the blocks were to be randomly signed by wedding guests at the reception.

At this point the blocks were packed up and sent off with the bride for the wedding day. I sorted out the labeled blocks for their special messages and placed them on the top of the pile, making it all as easy as possible. At this point I was left to work on the embroidery blocks and stitching the arcs to the border rectangles in preparation for the return of the signed blocks. 

Stay Tuned for the Finishing of the Double Wedding Ring Signature Quilt. 

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my quilting journey. 
Happy Quilting & God Bless,

April 10, 2017

A Break from Quilting

A couple of weeks ago our church network held a Women's Retreat that I attended with several ladies from my church. It was s a wonderful time to hear God's Word, connect with one another, catch up with friends, make new friends, and get away from the craziness of our daily lives.

Every year several ladies are asked to share their testimony and bless the group with their testimony of how God brought them to saving faith and how He continues to work in their lives. This year I was humbled to be asked to share how God worked in my life.

Reviewing and writing down what God has done and how He continues to work in my life today was a truly humbling experience. By the time I got up to speak Saturday evening I was an emotional wreck. I was in tears and cried through the first 5 minutes or so of talking. Listening to it later with my husband I was stunned that it sounded as good as it did.

I tried to create a movie file with a photo on the screen while the audio played, but there's a glitch in my movie software so unfortunately we're stuck with just a black screen.  It's just under 19 minutes long and I hope that my openness and transparency is a blessing to you.  I am humbled to now share with you my testimony. If what I've posted below doesn't work for you, please visit this link:
http://www.littlepinkrose.com/testimony.htm where I was able to post the audio in MP3 format.

Thank you for stopping by!

God Bless & Happy Quilting!

March 10, 2017

With Love for Darren {A Finish}

 Last week was my sweet hubbies 50th Birthday and I made his favorite German Chocolate cake from scratch. It was oh so delicious. The frosting was especially yummy and then topping it off with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream....oh my! 

With it being Darren's 50th Birthday I wanted to do something special, I considered ordering a set of books that I thought he would enjoy, but that just didn't seem very special and I put it off. Then a couple of weeks before his birthday I stumbled upon the answer, a quilt of course. 

This particular quilt has a bit of a story. Way back in 2005 Darren's mom unexpectedly passed away during liver transplant surgery.  Because she had hereditary Cirrhosis of the Liver she knew her days were numbered, especially if she didn't receive a liver. She had made it clear to the entire family that when the time came she wanted me to have everything in her sewing room, since I was the only one in the family who sewed. It was such a blessing to receive everything she had collected, but it was an emotional and difficult time. I packed it all including two unfinished quilts, brought it home and didn't think much about it. At that time I was into sewing dresses, clothes and making stuffed animals and doing all kinds of alterations and repairs, but hadn't got into quilting yet.

When I packed this quilt away so many years ago it was folded exactly like it is in the photo above. It really didn't seem like much, just two blue fabrics sewn together and tied. Seemed kind of blah to me and I didn't investigate any further than enough to know that there was no binding on it. So from 2005 to 2017 this quilt along with one other were packed in a plastic tub and moved with us from Independence, MO to Woodbridge, VA to Bristow, VA and finally to Stafford, VA.  I always planned to finish these quilts someday, but you know how that is someday just never seems to arrive. 

Then a couple of weeks before Darren's birthday I was cleaning and organizing my quilting studio, trying to arrange things so I would have the floor space to layout the largest quilt I've ever made and pin it.  Well, in the midst of all this rearranging and cleaning I popped open that tub and pulled out those quilts. The first quilt I pulled out was a Christmas quilt, I'm excited to finish it "someday" hopefully that will be sooner than later. But the second quilt took my breath away. It was so much more than I had dreamed, denim and heavy weight cottons beautifully pieced and tied ready for binding. I knew this is what I needed to give Darren for his birthday.

 I quickly discovered that I needed to make a little fix before I could attach the binding. The backing had slipped when she was tying the quilt, leaving one end with extra backing and the other with a couple of inches where there was no backing. It was an easy fix, I carefully cut off the extra and stitched it to the other end. Then it was time to find binding. There was one little 5-inch piece of binding pinned to one corner, but not nearly enough for the entire quilt. Started digging through my stash and found a dark blue from Moda's Grunge Collection, it was perfect!

After finishing the binding it was time for a label that gave credit to Darren's mom for piecing and tying the quilt and told the story. I'm pretty sure that she had made this quilt with the intention of giving it to Darren, but that's just a gut instinct so I didn't include that on the label. 

 He loved his new quilt! The best part is that it's a queen size quilt with a great overhang so no more wrestling for the blanket, plenty for each of us. I sleep much better under this quilt than our previous one and I'm so glad someday finally arrived. I know it will be treasured and loved as we use it for many years to come.

Quilt Stats:

Quilt Name: With Love for Darren King
Finished Size: 96" x 108"
Pieced and Tied by: Karen Melhan - Silvis, IL
Binding by: Marcia King - Stafford, VA
Fabric: Denim and Heavy weight Cotton
Batting: Polyester High Loft
Tied with Polyester yarn
Given to: Darren King on occasion of his 50th Birthday

Thank you for stopping by and sharing in my quilting journey!
Happy Quilting and God Bless,
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