Mod Sampler

Mod Sampler Quilt

Mod Sampler Quilt

Huzzah! It is finished! Finally! My Mod Sampler Quilt (free pattern here, by the amazingly awesome Oh, Fransson) lingered for months – or, um, maybe years, now that I think about it – but it is finally quilted, bound, crinkled, and lovely.

Mod Sampler Quilt
Mod Sampler Quilt

I made it really hard on myself by deciding on a quilting pattern that went in different directions and meant each square had to be quilted individually and, as a result, it’s full of mistakes and imperfections — but I just don’t care. I made it all by myself, from picking the fabrics to hand-stitching the binding, and it’s all mine and I. Love. It.

Mod Sampler Quilt
Mod Sampler Quilt

At the moment, quilting – and sewing in general, really – is always a low priority for me. It’s actually the activity I most often use for just pure relaxation, because it is in no way “work”-related. I don’t sell sewn items, I don’t make sewing patterns, I don’t write sewing articles – I don’t take it too seriously. It’s just for fun – but that does mean it gets pushed to the bottom of the list when other stuff needs working on. So my poor Mod Sampler – named ‘Bridges and Balloons’ after the dreamy Joanna Newsom song (live version), which just seemed to suit it perfectly – sat untouched for months at a time, waiting for me to get a few minutes here and there to play with it. With autumn sneaking up faster than I wish it was, I thought it was time to just get it done already. And I do love it so so much, I’m so proud that I made such a cozy, cuddly thing all by myself. Bizarrely for me, a tiny part of me is looking forward to it getting chilly, so I can curl up with my quilt and a cat in my lap.

Mod Sampler Quilt Tag

I already have a pattern and a stack of fabric all picked out for my next quilt, but I have a couple of gifts to make and I have to knock a few other projects off the Shame List first. I’ll call it incentive to keep focused on finishing my zillion WIPs!

(P.S. – I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be on a blogging-break for about a week / week-and-a-half-ish. I have a list of things that still need touching up, design-wise, from when I moved here from my old blog, and I never seem to get around to dealing with them. Call it a blog staycation, to give me time to finally get those last bits looking purdy!)

Quilting and Advice

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I decided to go with straight lines – close in the sashing as I’d thought the other day, and in a sort checkerboard vertical-and-horizontal pattern in the blocks, as suggested by a friend. It was a very clever suggestion of hers, because the block layout is basically checkerboarded already. It should work very well. I haven’t decided how closely the blocks will be quilted, but I do prefer the feel of dense quilting over a looser, fluffy quilt.

I did consider free motion quilting and even did some practice, until I decided two things. 1.) I don’t actually like that all-over squiggling type of pattern, I’m not sure if that has a name. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all those beautiful quilts with that sort of quilting aren’t amazing. I just don’t think it suits me that well. Maybe I’ll change if I get better at it, but I love other patterns like pebble quilting and feathers, so maybe it’s just not for me.

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I did practice it anyway though, figuring it was as good as anything to get the feel of the free motion, and it’s … not the worst ever. Better than the first time I tried, that’s for sure. But that’s when I decided 2.) I’m just not ready to free motion a whole quilt yet, not one I’m afraid to mess up. Exhibit A:

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What am I doing wrong that causes those spiky curves on the back? I first assumed it was tension, but a fiddle with the dial made no change, good or bad. Am I simply going too fast, do I just need to slow down and take the curves more steadily? I fully expect to have to practice this a lot to be any good at it, but learning new skills can be very frustrating when you don’t even know what to work on! I’ve got some dog blankets planned so that I can practice on something I’m not as attached to.

In the meantime, I’m SO very pleased with how my Mod Sampler is coming along. My gut said to go straight anyway, so there you go. I hope to have some time to continue over the weekend. (Though the development of a new knitting design may prohibit that, it depends how much progress I make on that today!) Photos when I’ve finished the quilting, of course!

Mod Sampler: progress and a call for help!

Mod Sampler - front

Huzzah! The front and back of my Mod Sampler quilt are finished! I managed to get some photos over the weekend, right before a terrific rainstorm swooped down on us, as you might have guessed from the evil look in the sky.

Mod Sampler - back

They are also now basted into a lovely squishy quilt sandwich, all ready to be quilted. Whoop! Except that I have no idea how. Hmm. One of my commenters asked about this when I first showed the finished top a little while ago, and I hadn’t thought about it yet. Now I have, a lot, and I still have no ideas. See, here’s the thing: I’m actually maybe more fond of straight line quilting, it looks so crisp and tidy and, if used nicely, really makes the quilt’s design pop. So I’m tempted to go with a straight line design of some sort. I like the idea of four-ish very close quilting lines in the sashing, making a kind of grid. But if I did that, I have no ideas for what to do within the blocks, but they’re large and need quilting in there somehow. Maybe close concentric squares in some way? That sounds like it’d look nice but kind of be a pain to do on a home machine, am I wrong? If I did that, are there any experienced quilters out there who can help with a plan of attack? Should I start with the center squares, then the sashing, or the reverse, or neither? Any tips would help!

On the other hand, I do also like free motion quilting and I suspect I’m shying away from it just because I’m not very good at it and I don’t want to mess up my pretty quilt. But I’ll never get better at it if I don’t ever do it, right? I’ve spent a lot of time browsing Flickr for quilting inspiration and I’m a little bit obsessed with quilting like was done on this quilt by Blooming Poppies – very close straight lines, but not ruler-straight. Beautiful. But I think its suits her amazing modern quilt design, not my girly-pretty Mod Sampler. So I go back to the grid-in-the-sashing idea, but still have no good ideas for the blocks. Arg! I have the day off tomorrow on account of how it’s my birthday (!), so I really want to spend a quiet day with my quilt and some wonderful music.

Mod Sampler - front

Any ideas or suggestions? Help me, internets, you’re my only hope!

Easter weekend / Mod Sampler Quilt

I’m in a bit of an odd blogging place right now – nearly everything I’m working on is, temporarily, secret. There’s several knitting patterns, some fun news, and a new set of Little Dorrit & Co. embroidery patterns. It’s pretty busy around here!

One of the knitting patterns – a free one! – will be out within the next few days, and the embroidery patterns as well, and the fun news shortly after. With everything kind of converging all at once, what better to do than take a break?

A little while ago, I showed some quilts I’d made for others, but I didn’t mention that those were intended to be my second and third quilts. My first quilt was meant to be the Mod Sampler Quilt, an amazing (free) pattern by the ridiculously talented Elizabeth from Oh, Fransson. This pattern, combined with a series of detailed quilting basics tutorials, teach you pretty much everything you need to know to get started. She takes you through every step, so it’s the perfect beginner project. And since it’s a sampler quilt, you get to try a bunch of different block types, and it’s a nice large lap size, so it’s not too intimidating.

I’m sure you can see why the Mod Sampler would’ve been a great first project. But if someone asks to make them something, I try to always put that first – I’m afraid it’ll get lost in the shuffle if I don’t. When my father and brother presented me with their quilt projects, I had all but two of the Mod Sampler blocks sewn. Not two types – just two. (You can see some photos of my early progress in my Mod Sampler Flickr set.)

Over the Easter weekend, wanting a little break from the other things going on, all I could think about was pulling the WIP out of the drawer and at least getting those two blocks done. Maybe I’d even get crazy and cut the sashing.

So I gathered up my finished blocks and assorted fabrics …

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… finished off the last two blocks …

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… cut the sashing and starting piecing rows …

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… and finished the whole top!!!

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I’m so excited, I just keep admiring this photo so I can see it all at once (not something you get a lot of while sewing). I even managed to get a little start on the back …

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… which will be that blue floral print with a stripe of blocks across the middle-ish. I’ve starting tossing around names for it; I’ve got a few ideas based on songs by Joanna Newsom, Elbow, and my beloved Langhorne Slim. Nothing decided there yet, and I’m sure I won’t have time to pick this project back up until some of the excitement has passed, but I’m already so looking forward to it.

(By the way, apologies to those who already saw these photos via Instagram or Twitter. I did hope to at least get a proper non-iPhone one of the finished top, but the weather has been all about the sudden changes this week. When I finish piecing the back, I promise to get nice shots of both to show you!)