Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pinwheel Quilt in Coral and Linen


Size: 60”x72”


I’ve been achy-ache-achin’ to make a red and white quilt. I wanted it to look a bit old and vintage-y so I opted to use a linen/cotton blend in natural beige instead of white. And instead of a classic red I used a Kona cotton in “coral”—a little on the orange side, a little on the red side. You’ll notice (maybe you’ll notice, red is hard to photograph) two of the pinwheels are regular orange fabric. Just threw them in there because.

I swear on a stack of cookies that I can hardly make quilts where you gotta be so dang fussy about all the measurements. I read a pattern the other day that said to cut blocks 4 and 3/8” inches. 3/8” of an inch? What the heck. I am not making anything that has to be cut so precisely. So I opted to make a pinwheel quilt with just a bunch of 7” squares. This yielded a pinwheel block 12”.  I made a total of 30 Pinwheel blocks.

I found approximately 3, 452 tutorials out there on the world wide web on making pinwheels using the half-square triangle method. Or, HSQ method. So google it if you’re interested—or look at my Pinterest board on quilting know how. I had never heard of HSQs, but then again I am a lightweight quilter. I make one quilt a year, sometimes. (Although I really want to change that and quilt more. We shall see.) Below are some images of how to make half-square triangles. I’m gonna call them HSQs from now on so I sound legit.


I was so proud of myself as I made these triangles, easy peasy.  Notice I didn’t say fast—nothing is fast in quilting. I tried to keep track of my time and figure I spent about 13 hours making the quilt top—all those triangles and then sewing them all together into rows until finally, voila, pinwheel quilt top.

Making all those triangles enables you to also make a quilt with other patterns like diamonds or zig-zags.  But I stuck with pinwheels.


Once the top was pieced I layered it with the backing on the bottom, I use T-Pins to pull the bottom fabric nice and tight and pin into my carpet, as far as it will go through the carpet and pad.  Then the Warm & Natural 100% batting, then the pinwheels on top.  And then I used curved safety pins and pin like crazy. (I know other quilters just use temporary adhesive glue spray like 505, skipping the safety pins, and I’d like to try that next time. Leave me thoughts on this method in the comments.)


“Keep on pinning, keep on pinning.”


Now comes the real work—hooping the quilt in the Jumbo hoop for the quilting process. I had only ever quilted pillows in the embroidery hoop but I wanted to be able to say I did an entire quilt in the hoop. At least once. Smile (In this image I am just laying out the hoop as I haven’t removed the safety pins yet.)


I digitized a bunch of ovals (9”x15” overall) to use as my embroidery design. They are just single stitched ovals—not triple stitched, not backstitched. You can purchase the design by clicking here. I created a design like this for two reasons—first, I wanted to use every inch of my oval shaped hoop so that I wouldn’t have to hoop the quilt any more times than necessary, and second, I wanted a design that could overlap with each subsequent hooping. In other words, I didn’t want to worry about matching up my quilting motif with the design of the quilt. That would’ve killed me and caused me to set the quilt on fire, burning it in effigy.

Screen Shot

As you can see on the screen on my sewing/embroidery machine, the design only takes four minutes. However, hooping it took much longer than four minutes. I had no idea how to hoop something so large, awkward, and cumbersome.


So I went to the Facebook page for Bernina 830 users and asked the pros. One gal suggested using painting tape to hold the hoop in place while I used my two hands to slide the other half of the hoop underneath, securing it in place. Bingo! Worked like a dream. You do not use any stabilizer—the quilt ‘sandwich’ is stable enough to handle the stitches.


Once the top hoop is attached and tightened to the underneath hoop, simply lift up the painters tape so it’s out of the way of the needle. (The tape is now hooped in tightly so you can’t just pull it away.)

To embroider, I just left my tension at normal (I tried messing with it but saw zero difference) but threaded the bobbin as if I was sewing, NOT doing embroidery. Notice I’m using foot #44. When quilting all the way to the end of the quilt I noticed the regular embroidery foot ‘catching’ on the edge of the quilt top. I remember seeing a class at the local Bernina shop where they suggested foot #44 for this very project. And it was on sale for Labor Day. Giddy-up.D7K_4310

I used Isacord beige thread in the top and the bobbin.



It’s getting there…….


Thirty hoopings later and it was done! I spread the embroidery/quilting over 3 days. Probably 6 hours of work for this stage. Will I quilt a quilt in the hoop again? A small baby size for sure. This large lap size, nope. Once was enough. But I freely admit to being impatient. This design is called Quilting Ovals (click here).

Trim the excess batting and put this project away for another day.


Serge the ends to prepare for binding:


I like to serge quilt edges to hold all three layers together nice and flat. Makes the binding go on easier in my opinion.

As I serged the quilt I realized I was still dripping in sweat from my morning run. And that’s ok because if you make a quilt while still in your running shoes it means that anything you eat this winter (hot chocolate, cookies) while wrapped in your quilt will have a negative caloric value. Honest.


The ‘blank’ space where the hoopings couldn’t overlap bugged me so I free motion quilted in between those ‘blank’ spots. The Bernina stitch-regulator is awesome and I don’t use that ‘foot’ often enough. Shame on me. (Remember, I am a lightweight quilter.)


Now for the binding! I cut 8 2” strips and attached them on an angle.


My dang Simplicity bias tape maker broke, so I removed the metal part that folds the fabric strips and made bias tape the old fashioned way—my hands and the iron. (I guess I can’t call it bias tape because I didn’t cut it on the bias—just on the straight grain. Or is this the cross grain?) Click on any photo in this post to zoom in.


I attach the binding to the BACK side of the quilt first, as seen below. Then I wrap the binding around to the front and topstitch the binding down on the front. Again, a million tutorials out there on the web.


Throw in the wash to get that perfectly puckered look and also to wash out all the spray starch I used to stiffen the linen especially. My fabrics were all prewashed. I’ve heard that if your fabrics are pre-washed then only your batting shrinks, pulling in the fabrics along with the batting, creating a more puckery quilt. I have no idea if it’s true. I hate preshrinking the fabric and don’t think I’ll do it again. But I do love how crinkly it looks.


Aha! Here you can finally see the orange pinwheel.


Notice the topstitched binding? It’s not for everyone but I love it. I’m no purist. (Click on photo to zoom)



Used my Redwork alphabet in 1” size to add the date.


Back of quilt:





I see myself watching many episodes of Chopped or The Colbert Report this winter, wrapped in my pinwheel quilt, drinking calorie-free Hot Chocolate (hee hee).  I honestly can’t wait to make another quilt. So much fun.


Chere said...

I love your approach to quilting; laid back and willing to experiment. I am also no purist; I love quilting for the pleasure of working with the fabrics and am not too fussy. I love the addition of the two orange squares, just visually breaks up the red/white and gives a bit more excitement. I have a Viking Designer Diamond and would love to try this method. Your quilting design worked really well and there was only that little bit of free motion stitching to finish it off.

Cynthia said...

Thanks Chere--glad there's another quilter out there who is not a purist. Finishing up the free motion quilting took maybe another half hour. Not bad at all to fill in a few gaps.

Heather C. said...

I have pre-washed and not pre-washed, and the quilts pucker eventually either way. I hate working with fabric that has been washed and dried, so I never do it anymore. This quilt is gorgeous!

Caroline ~ TrilliumDesign said...

Ha!! I'm laughing here because this is how i started quilting. I couldn't FMQ to save my life but i knew embroidery machines so i hooped my first quilt also although it was a doll quilt - so quilt a bit smaller. However, it took so dang looooooong that I swore i would have to learn FMQ and to be honest, FMQ isn't that hard - waaaay faster than hooping and unhooping and since you have the BSR you are golden anyway! Looks fantastic though! Now go make another one!! ;) he he xoxo Caroline

Susan said...

Great blog post, and fantastic quilt. I'm a big fan of red/orange. Now about spray adhesives. I used to use it. But then I noticed sticky residue on the carpet, on my lamp, on my sewing machine! It does not go away. If I do spray baste now I cover every object with sheets. (I need a spray room like a car body shop) It's a lot of trouble to do that, so I pin baby quilts on my work table using clamps and painter's tape. I T-pin my larger quilts to the floor, and my huge ones I do on the floor of my garage while wearing carpet layers knee pads.

Lori (ltdermdvm) said...

I think it turned out absolutely gorgeous :) I've done one in the hoop and am ready to do another if I can ever get back to my machine, lol. Beautiful your work as always :)

QuiltingCyclist said...

Great post, Cynthia. Since I am a quilter, I really enjoyed it. I am with you on putting the binding on entirely by machine. Also, I think my almost brand new Simplicity Bias Tape Maker may be breaking down already! It sure seems like a fragile tool. I love it when it works well . Thanks for sharing.

QuiltingCyclist said...

Great post, Cynthia. Since I am a quilter, I really enjoyed it. I am with you on putting the binding on entirely by machine. Also, I think my almost brand new Simplicity Bias Tape Maker may be breaking down already! It sure seems like a fragile tool. I love it when it works well . Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said... are courageous! ...a new quilter who is willing to blog a out her approach! Fabulous!

Cynthia said...

carolyn ghearing....oh i am not new! been quilting for 15 years, i just don't do it often these days.

Anonymous said...

Love this post!!! Great quilt and I love how you photographed all the process

Laura said...

I love using 505 spray to baste because it's so fast and easy. Helps if you have a partner to lift and lower the layers as you spray. I have seen quite a few posts from other quilters who say they are allergic to it or it affects their breathing. It does have a pretty strong scent, but I haven't suffered any ill effects.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Cynthia. I'm a beginner at quilting (teaching myself), but a lifelong seamstress. Great to have hints on hooping big & thick items so I can use my Bernina 730's awesome built-in stitches.

Laurie said...

Super cute, love the orange.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a quilt pattern to make a red and white quilt. I don't have the time or brain power to make anything too complicated. I love how your quilt came out! I think I'll do this pattern. Also, I have never machine sewn the entire binding on by machine. I will try your idea for the first time. I take forever to make a quilt! Maybe will have a finished product to show you in 2017!

Embroidery Digitizing said...

Beautiful work Cynthia..! Love that red and white quilt. Keep it up


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