Thursday, July 28, 2011

Art Therapy

Last week when I wasn't feeling well I occupied myself by sewing red scraps together until I had pieces big enough to cut patches. From this "made fabric" (Victoria and the gang over at 15 Minutes) or reconstructed fabric (Mary Lou Weidman) I cut some 3.5" x 6.5" rectangles.

Then I cut two 3.5" squares and four 2" squares of yellow and turned two of those rectangles into a 6" heart block using the technique I shared with you in this post.

That was one of the blocks that were sitting on my design wall when I returned from the fateful trip wherein I discovered that the cute little house had been repainted (see previous post). I was thinking about the Bead Journal Project and how I could journal about what had happened to the house, in beads, on an ATC. Rummaging through my stash I found a large scrap of a print I felt captured the spirit that house once had. It was too big and too busy for a tiny ATC though. That's when the heart block caught my eye.

After pulling and auditioning several more fabrics I came up with this palette.

My intention is to make a Priority Quilt for AAQI, honoring the spirit of the home's previous owner. I haven't quite settled on the rest of the design or process yet. I spent yesterday catching up a bit on older bead journal projects. That will be a post for another day. ;- )

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bead Journal Project

I have fallen way behind with my ATC's for this year's BJP. However, I am not bowing out by any means. I have every intention of continuing, catching up, and completing the year's worth of projects. Mostly I'm telling you this because I've had an experience this morning that I need to respond to and beading may be the best way.

There's a tiny older house in the neighborhood that I've passed at least once every week since we moved here in 2002. I think it was shortly after we moved to this part of town that it received a paint job I thought was absolutely adorable and completely fitting to the house. In broad strokes it was pink and purple, but believe me when I tell you it was done in the most tasteful and charming way possible. It was a happy little house, with flowers around it that echoed the colors in the paint job. A storybook cottage if ever there was one, inhabited by a grandmotherly looking woman who obviously had a lighthearted spirit about her.

Over the last several months there have been changes that have led me to the conclusion that the home's owner had to move out, possibly passed away, and the home has changed hands. I don't know whether it has been sold or just passed down in the family. I had hopes that it would be maintained as it was but it appears that is not to be the case. Today when I drove by I was shocked to see this:

It now looks like every other house on the street, only with a fresher coat of paint. BO-O-RING! The happy little cottage used to catch your eye as you drove by. Now it blends in and you don't notice it. I had to look for it in order to take these pictures. (I regret that I never took pictures of it in its' glory days.) Even the flowers look like they've been changed out. All the delightful accent pieces have been painted white to match the trim.

I realize that Realtors encourage folks to paint their homes in socially acceptable neutral schemes to get the sale they want. I realize that crisp and clean is au courrant. I also realize that I live in the Pacific Northwest, not Florida, and color sensibilities are different here. People up here seem to be afraid of color. They want to blend into their surroundings. They wear the same colors you find in the scenery around here, and they paint their homes in ways that also blend in. I don't belong here.

This is more my style!

So I'm thinking that at least one of my ATC's for the Bead Journal Project this year needs to address this issue. I need to find my most exuberant colorful self and let her have her way with my fabric and beads...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Poor Reilly

Something spooked Reilly early this morning. I think there might have been a crash or some other accident at the intersection near our house. Reilly probably heard it and didn't know what it was whereas it just woke me up and I didn't realize it had because it was about the time I normally get up anyway. He skulked out of the bedroom and wasn't all that anxious to go outside when I finally got out of bed. In spite of the rain he stayed outside much longer than is normal for him.

It's been a couple of hours now; he still hasn't come back to this end of the house. This is the same dog who is cowed by a housefly. I seem to attract psycho dogs.

I finished sewing up the Disappearing 9 Patch quilt top:

The star print to the right in the close-up below will be the backing for this quilt. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to use for binding at this point. Maybe a scrappy binding since there's so much going on in the quilt anyway. May as well add to the madness!

My friend Heather is going to quilt this for me. It will be donated to our local Foster Care program.

Yesterday I played in my scraps a bit. I sewed some of my smallest red bits together until I had enough to cut patches for a 12" Hole in the Barn Door block. Then I made this:

Not sure what will become of it but it was fun to do. Kept me out of trouble nearly all day too. ;- )

As it turns out, there was an accident about four in the morning at the intersection near our house. A teenage driver no doubt took the curve too fast and rolled her car into the neighbor's wooden fence. She was okay but her two passengers were taken to the hospital. While I slept through it all Reilly must have heard the whole thing and didn't have a clue what was going on.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Disappearing 9 Patch

The Disappearing 9 Patch pattern came to my attention again last week. I forget exactly what the first event was, but the second was a visit to Sharon over at Indigo Threads. She mentioned a D9P she has in process; between the two references I found myself inspired to make another one myself. I think this will be the third quilt I've made using this pattern. The first one was a preemie quilt, the next a baby quilt, and this one is intended as a sort of I Spy quilt for a child.

The first thing I did was to go through some old charm squares I had in my stash and pull out child-appropriate pieces. Then I started fussy cutting more images. I also cut up some smaller scale prints for the mid-point patches in the 9 Patch blocks.

Slapping them up on my flannel design wall was a useful way to see what I had... until there got to be too many!

By my reckoning I needed 14 nine patch blocks (using 5" patches) to get a quilt close to 40" x 60" finished. My goal for each block was to have a big image in each of the four corners and small to medium prints in the other patches. Everything - or nearly everything - is a novelty print.

When it came time to arrange the quarter-blocks into a quilt top I realized how busy this quilt was going to be. I also realized that I would not be able to keep all the prints going right side up!

This arrangement sat on the wall overnight.

What I didn't realize was that I had made an error in the layout.

The next day I took all the blocks off the wall and had a second go.

I was determined not to make any additional 9 Patch blocks for this quilt; I had to use what I'd already made. With the blocks now in a consistent arrangement it wasn't until the very last row that I had to begin turning some upside down. If you look closely (double click on the pictures and it should be easier) you will see that I had to turn two hearts and a chicken on their heads. There are a couple of blocks in the collection that are not directional but they look best where they are, not in the bottom row. Believe me, I tried!

I started sewing these blocks together yesterday. If I'd been feeling better I could have had the whole thing done in a day. There's no real rush though, so I'll be happy to get it sewn together today or tomorrow. And then I think there's going to be a Halloween version of this pattern going up on the wall. ;- )

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Flying Geese Tutorial

I thought I'd share with you how I'm making my Flying Geese between the seams of other projects. It involves a quick trick I don't think is well known amongst the quilting community.

I'm beginning with 3.5" x 6.5" rectangles and 3.5" squares, one rectangle and two squares for each goose. (You can use whatever sizes you want of course!) Next to my sewing machine I have a small cutting mat, and I keep a rotary cutter and 6" ruler there too.

The rectangle will be the goose and the squares will be the background. At least, that's the way I interpret these units! Begin by laying one square, right side down, on top of the right end of your rectangle. At this point I think most folks would have you draw a line diagonally through the square, from corner to corner, and then you would sew on the line and remove the excess. I can't be bothered to draw any lines. I just lay the ruler on top of my fabrics with the one quarter inch markings falling on that invisible diagonal line corner to corner.

Here's a close up of what I mean:

Now I'm going to cut away the excess fabric. This will leave me with a perfect 1/4" seam allowance built in.

I put what's left of the rectangle and the square under my presser foot and sew the seam. You should note that I have a 1/4" presser foot on my machine. I'm not sure this technique would work for those who do not have an easy and reliable way of creating a quarter inch seam. I haven't done it with any other foot!

I also run the cut-away triangles through the machine and I have this:

Next comes what I find to be the trickiest part of the process: getting the second half of the unit made correctly! Lay out your second square on top of the rectangle, right sides together again but at the other end.

In order to have the background print end up where I want it, I have to turn the whole shebang and work from what would be the top or the point of the flying geese unit. Also, because I'm right handed, it's easier to cut that way.

Lay your ruler on top of the fabrics again, with the quarter inch marks along that invisible diagonal line from corner to corner of the background print. Cut away the excess, creating your built in seam allowance. You will be cutting off the merest tip of your previous seam; don't worry about it.

You see, instead of drawing a ling and then sewing and cutting you just create the line with your ruler and make the cut first, then sew! When you're all done you should have one Flying Geese unit and two leftover half square triangle units. I leave my triangles as is and sew them into Pinwheel or Broken Dishes blocks but they can be trimmed down to a consistent size and used in any number of ways.

I hope this has been clear and will be helpful. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I'll offer whatever help I can.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Between Projects

What a morning. The dog next door has been howling since six, with maybe an hour of silence between nine and ten. It's eleven now and he's back at it again. He howled yesterday and the day before too. I finally called the authorities yesterday when it looked like no-one had been home all day. Someone showed up, mowed the lawn, and apparently they're gone again. Poor lonely dog.

I have been on hiatus from sewing for several days. I'm not ready to tackle the quilting of either of the flimsies I've recently made and I haven't quite decided what I'm goint to make next. I don't think I ever showed you these random blocks I've made out of scraps though.

Most are six inch blocks. I'm making the flying geese units as a Between Seams* project, using a 3.5" x 6.5" rectangle and two 3.5" squares to create them. The Broken Dishes blocks (immediately under the row of hearts) are made from the offcut triangles of the flying geese units. Occasionally I will make a Pinwheel block instead of Broken Dishes out of those triangles as they use exactly the same pieces.

This is the latest batch of these random blocks. I'm running out of the rectangles and will have to spend some time cutting up scraps soon!

*Between Seams is the same thing as Bonnie Hunter's leaders & enders. Just something to sew between the seams of other projects to keep the chain piecing going. In this case I expect to have a very scrappy Flying Geese quilt of my very own someday. :- )

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Halloween Flimsy

Hope everyone in the USA had a great Fourth of July. I didn't intend to, but I spent the weekend working on a puzzle. Guess that's what constitutes a holiday for me. :- ) At least the fumes from the various holiday celebrations didn't completely do me in. That's a step in the right direction!

So when last we met I had a dilemma to solve with my Halloween quilt top. In spite of my careful math (no comments from the Peanut Gallery please!) my rows did not come out the same width. The first thing I tried only made matters worse.

I found I was unwilling to be so liberated as to whack off the sides of the blocks that were extending beyond my size limit. In the end I had to sit down, take two seams out part way and a third seam all the way, trim down one of my compensating strips, and re-sew all the seams. After that was done a bit of trimming took care of any remaining discrepancies. The top is not perfectly square but I can live with that. Quilting may actually help in this case.

There were several cute Halloween prints leftover so I used them to create a back. I had one piece almost a yard long, a couple of fat quarters, and some strips leftover from the front and previous Halloween quilts I've made. After some strategic cutting and sewing I had this:

Just big enough to accommodate the front. Here's a detail shot of the central section:

I haven't looked yet to see whether I have batting in-house big enough for this. Guess I've missed any July 4th sales I could have used to buy new batting. Oh well. Right now I'm more in the mood to continue piecing or even do some hand sewing. When it finally gets too hot around here to have the iron on I may switch to machine quilting and put my new wide-mouth Pfaff through its paces. Or maybe I'll do another puzzle. ;- )

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Last Two Rows

The first three rows I constructed for this child's quilt looked like this on my design wall:

I decided to move things around a bit and see how I liked it.

I think that's an improvement! Two more rows to go...

I made a Cotton Reels block - not a hard block but I'd never made one before oddly enough. There were some more little four patch units availalbe so I used them and a few compensating strips to bring that row up to size, width-wise.

I wanted the final row to mimic what is now the top row so I looked for some panels and prints I could fussy cut.

I think those green bats between the trick or treaters glow in the dark. ;- ) There was just one problem.

When I went to sew the rows together (with 1" sashing strips) I discovered that the bottom two rows were wider than the rest of the quilt. {sigh} I'll show you how I resolved that in the next post. (The sharp-eyed among you may notice that I tried to even things out with a strip of black on the row above. It didn't work.)