Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crinkle, crinkle, little quilt

I had to put the quilt under my sewing machine light to get the shadows of the crinkling to show. I washed it in warm water and dried it in a hot dryer. It has Hobbs Heirloom batting in it.
Then I hung it over a chair so the lights from above would show the texture. You can see that no two spirals are anything alike so it was definitely quilted by human hands. Some little baby is going to love this one.
Here is a shot of the whole little quilt.
I started quilting another one and I'm not really happy with the quilting, but then I'm not really crazy about the quilt either, so I'll just finish it and give it away.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spiral crazy

I had done the ditch quilting on this baby quilt more than a month ago so I did some free motion spirals on it yesterday. After awhile some of the spirals got jerky and I have to say I have more than one squarish spiral in there. I had to keep reminding myself that I was steering with my left hand (the one with the glove on it) and not let my right hand take over. I don't like to wear gloves but I can tolerate one.I didn't try to stay with any one size or number of rounds.
The reason I quilted this one like this is because I want to see how it looks after it is washed. I know I like meandering because it is an even pattern but I wanted to see if spirals look bumpy and lumpy. I'll trim it and bind it by machine today and then throw it in with a load of laundry.
The snow is almost gone and it will get up to 50 degrees today. That is the nice part of spring snow storms.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oh yes, it snowed

It was raining for quite awhile last night, even past midnight, and I thought maybe we wouldn't get the snow after all. It must have turned cold enough though. The forsythia is blooming; flowers in the snow.The squirrel is busy eating out of the bird feeder and greedy guy that he is, he is dropping a lot to the ground so the birds just sit and wait for their food. There is another squirrel in the background too, waiting his turn at the feeder.
It looks like 3" or so from inside the house and it looks heavy and wet, just like they predicted. It is still coming down and the city has plowed the street already this morning. If all the rain we got had been snow it would have been more than a foot deep, so we are lucky. It looks like a good sewing day.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A very good day

I had a very good sewing day yesterday. I never imagined I would get so much done. I finished sewing the last 5 arcs in the blocks and then sewed the top together. This type of quilt is not for the faint of heart. Most of the blocks are bias on all 4 edges. A few had the large corner of a print cut on grain and that helped stabilize it some. The edges are all ripply right now so I still have some work to do. I know I have enough of the large floral fabric for a border........somewhere. Here is a good look at a lot of the fabrics in it.
In the early part of the day I worked on another project. This top was made on another day and it was ready to quilt so I did that and finished the edge with the serger. I need to steam it to get the edge to calm down.
Then I pieced 3 more tops. I had enough backing for 2 so these are ready to quilt.
I still have to find a piece of flannel for the back of this one. They are all in the 18" - 22" size range.
I have to work at the store again today for 5 hours. The snow isn't supposed to start until evening so my car can be home in the garage by then. I wouldn't mind a little rain on it though, a free car wash.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Final decision, all sewn together

I had 52 blocks when I started playing yesterday afternoon. I used 48 of the blocks and made a variation of the first layout I showed yesterday. I staggered the rows of the Sunshine and Shadow blocks by 1/2 row instead of the full row I showed yesterday. I think the name stays the same though, "Straight Furrows Interrupted". I don't think you will find this layout in any book. I just made it up as I went. Anonymous asked a couple days ago why I only used half of each strip. It is because I didn't want the same fabric in more than 6 blocks. I used 175 different fabrics and only used the full strip of a couple of the lightest ones. It ended up 43" x 57". I won't be putting a border on it and I think the binding will be multicolor using strips of a lot of my favorite fabrics that are in it. Here are 3 of the leftover blocks. They just didn't have the right flavor to fit in. You can see here that the light center makes the largest half of the block light so that is one of the reasons this quilt is so light and almost delicate looking. It really gave me the look of spring flowers that I was after.
Last night I took a bunch of the leftover strips and just pieced them randomly, in the order they were in the pile, not placing lights and darks in any particular spot. They are just blocks at this point, not sewn together. I might play with some sashing since they aren't traditional log cabins.
Here are the last blossoms of the season on my amaryllis. The flower stem was 29" tall and very sturdy. Now I must get back to sewing purple arcs in the other quilt on a design wall. I need these new quilts for a program I will be giving at our local quilt guild meeting in April. I haven't done a program in about 8 years. The program is based on all of the different looks you get with one quilt pattern done in different styles of fabrics. I have 30 quilts at this point to show in 10 different quilt patterns.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More layouts, more fun

This is the same layout as yesterday but with 14 more blocks added. It is straight furrows interupted with Sunshine and Shadow squares. Here is barn raising.
I think this one is called "out of control". LOL
This is straight furrows.
Sunshine and Shadows
Zig Zag
I have made some more blocks which I haven't pressed yet, with a grand total of 48. With it being a 7" block, that will be 42" x 56" finished with a layout of 6 blocks by 8 blocks. I can make it bigger by adding another round of strips or making more blocks but I think I am ready to go on. I will probably try some more layouts today but first I have to fill in for a couple hours at the sewing machine store.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Layout 1, first 25 blocks

I wanted to see how spring-like the quilt feels so far. I will try several different layouts though. That is the fun of log cabin. I wanted you to see how the boxes stack, each sitting in its neighbor's lid, ready to pick pieces out of.
I cut each full width strip at the fold line and only cut half into pieces for the log cabin blocks. Here is the stack of "the other half strip".
There were a few comments about cutting the logs to lengths yesterday. Back in the 1980's when I made my log cabin quilts with the same 7 or 13 fabrics all through the quilt, I didn't cut lengths. I would just add the first strip to all of the center squares and then cut between them, press and add the next fabric to all of the squares with first strip added, etc. However when doing a scrap log cabin you can get the best variety in the blocks by having a pile of cut strips to choose from. They are in piles of darks and piles of lights in the boxes. The blocks will be more square and accurate if you precut lengths too as long as your seam allowance is accurate. Whatever seam allowance you added to the log lengths is the seam allowance you must sew.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Good old basic log cabin blocks

My new project is one that I have been wanting to do for a long time, the basic log cabin block. That doesn't mean my layout will be basic, but I won't know that until I have made lots more blocks. I may still add one more row of logs since this block will only finish at 7" right now. Then it would finish at 9". In a log cabin block the center is typically red or a dark color anyway but I want the larger side of the block (the one with the last 2 strips) to be light so I started with a light center. I want this to be a spring log cabin. I will make some blocks with even lighter darks.
I used some more of the pencil boxes that were on sale to store each of the sizes of logs and centers. I put a piece of scotch tape on the box and wrote the number on it. When the project is over I can remove the tape and have an unmarked box.
It is warm this morning and light rain. We are in for colder weather after today but at least it won't be the snow that so many other places got.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Light strips cut

I finished cutting the light color batik strips last night. They look so pretty folded like this I hate to cut into them. Here is the progress on my Christmas cactus: 2 blooms open and 14 (yes!) buds. The next 4 should all open at about the same time so I'll show it then. This is the most flowers I have ever had on it in the 10 or so years I have had it.
Marilyn gave me an award last week, and I don't usually participate in them. I was especially touched with the reasoning behind this one. It was to be awarded to blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude. When I started this blog I decided it would always be upbeat and my favorite saying is "If you give away a smile you will get one back". I want you all to know that every day's post is a smile for you, the reader, and you have given me back many smiles with your comments. So, thank you Marilyn, and thank you readers.

In the Sunday magazine with the newspaper was an article about fingers. It said if your ring finger is longer than your index finger that you tend to be good at math. My ring finger is longer and I am good at math, but it also said you would be good at sports. Unless quilting can be considered a sport, that one doesn't hold true for me. I am as clumsy as they come.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I'm a winner!

I was a winner in Julie's drawing for her 200th post giveaway. It has one of my favorite Bible verses on it and it is hand embroidered. I love hand embroidery. Thank you, Julie.

Someone asked about the templates I was using on the Strips 'n Curves quilt. Here are Basic sets 1 and 2 which I used all of.
This is the mini beg and borrow 6" block set which I used 3 out of to make the small purple print arcs. Here are some blocks made from the set too.
I pulled a pile of light color batiks to cut for my 1.5" strip project.
And here is what is still on the shelves that didn't make the cut.
I am always talking about the clean up cuts that I use in my crazy piecing, cobblestone blocks, and strip pieced set (like in my Second favorite quilt on my sidebar). They are the piece I cut off to straighten the fabric so I can cut my 1.5" strips. I always cut off a wide enough piece to be able to use it instead of cutting off a skinny crooked piece and throwing it away.
I had several questions yesterday and the day before about seams being pressed open. In the Strips 'n Curves book this is the method used and Louisa has a neat tip to press them easily. In other quilts I press seams open when the pieces are small and/or when I think a lot of bulk will occur if I didn't do it. Back in the 1970's and 80's when we were using polyester batting and putting very little quilting in a quilt, the seams were always pressed to one side for strength. Also I believe hand quilters always press the seams to one side, again for strength. A seam that is pressed open is weaker. In the current time period we are using a lot more quilting on the quilts and the strength of the seam is not as much of an issue.
Have a great Sunday everyone!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

35% off fabric sale for 2 days

Be sure to hop over to Quilternity's Place for a sale today and tomorrow only in honor of National Quilting day. Several of the fabrics here are previous purchases at her shop. Just click on the link on the right side of her screen where it says Please visit my website/shop, From Here to Quilternity.

Die cut fabrics layout, amaryllis, and a theory

Last night I finished laying out the corners of the quilt with the die cut pieces. I think I am going to sew this together because I doubt I can come up with anything else that I would like better. I sent such a variety of fabrics to be cut that it will never be more consistent in color areas than it is now. I started preparing for my next project and got out all of my batik 1.5" strips. I was horrified to see that I don't have anywhere near enough light fabrics cut. I was so sure there was a good variety in these boxes. I will have to spend a day cutting light fabrics before I can begin. (But I love to play with my fabrics and cut, so don't feel sorry for me).
Here is last year's amaryllis bulb blooming again this year. I have the pot sitting on the floor and the flower stem is taller than my window sills. It has 4 flowers on this stem.
Now I am going to try to explain why I thought my Strips 'n Curves quilt that I have shown every day this week was dull and needed a facelift. I will have to go back 25 years to an experience I had. I owned a quilt shop and I made a quilt out of all one fabric line and it hung on the back wall of the shop. One day one of my customers walked in and was looking at it from a distance and asked "Is that a printed sheet?". It taught me a lesson. When all of the fabrics in a quilt are too closely matched there is no life/interest point in it. Every fabric has the same exact flavor. That is why I never use all fabrics from the same line. This quilt that I made hit me with the same feeling as one all from the same fabric line.
The strip piecing in the Strips 'n Curves quilt was way too smooth of a blend. I have been doing colorwash quilts for 18 years and I tend to blend the fabrics too well and in this case it was a quilt that really needed a little texture in it. If you have a chance to look at the books Strips 'n Curves or a New Twist on Strips 'n Curves, you will see quilts with more variety in values and not such smooth blends.
I don't usually start out with one fabric and choose all of the others to match it but I did with this one. To me it was all over mush after it was pieced with no focal point. I know that statement is a little extreme but that is how unhappy I was with the pile of blocks. I feel that now the zebra print will be the focal point and the purple print will be the unexpected spark.
The moral of the story is (in my opinion) if you are decorating a room with a quilt, you may want a more matchy look. If you want to make exciting quilts (no room in mind for them) you may want some unusual combinations in color or texture of prints for the pure joy of making a work of art. I think you probably know that mine usually fall in that second category. So, all I really did was disappoint myself, and with 54 blocks made I felt I needed to "fix" it. It all goes back to my favorite quote "To thine own self be true" (Shakespeare). If you like them really matched, do that. If you like them bold, do that, etc.
As far as pressing seams open, this book called for that. I will talk more about this later.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Inserting the arcs

I had a question asked yesterday whether I am piecing the new arcs in or appliqueing them so here is the process. Here is a block with an arc just laid over the top of it. I removed the arc and chose the 2 acrylic Strips 'n Curves templates that are needed to cut the section out of the block.
I have cut along the edges of the 2 templates and removed the piece that is not needed.
One side of the arc is sewn to the block.
The other side of the arc is sewn in place.
The finished block, right side up, with the arc sewn in.
Here is a shot of the section where the arcs are all sewn into the blocks. If you compare it with yesterday's picture, you will see the arcs are skinnier now. Oops! Now that I look at it closer the purple arc in the lower right corner isn't sewn in yet so you can compare them right here.
One person commented that I must have one amazing stash to chose from. Well, yes I do. This purple print that I used is at least 12 years old, maybe a couple years older than that. I learned that not the same shade of purple (or yellow, etc.) was available every year so that if you wanted a full range of any color you had to start collecting and collect over quite a few years. I don't have very big pieces of any of them, usually 1/2 to 1 yard. Once in awhile I would hit a good sale and buy more, or find an unusual one that I knew I would need more of and buy 2-3 yards. I probably have 80 or more different pieces of purple, but small yardage of most.

Would anybody out there want to know why I thought this quilt was dull in the first place? Just another of my theories from 51 years of quilt making.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Decision made!

I have decided on this purple print as my fixer. Ellen left a comment yesterday that said all of the prints I had tried so far read as a solid even though they were prints. I knew that but it took that prodding to make me dig deeper into the purple bin to find a busier print. Click on the pictures for a closer view of the the print. It is a little more purple in person where it shows up a little bluer on the computer screen.
Below are the only pieces of the strata that are left after cutting the pieces for the quilt. I wish I had taken a picture of the full strata before it was cut.
I played a little more with the die cut pieces after I solved the other problem.
Today I will start cutting the Strips and Curves blocks so I can insert the new arcs. It will look different than it does now because the arcs will be skinnier without the seam allowances on them.