Sunday, March 24, 2013

Baby Elephant Walk

This will be a picture heavy post, just so you know. :- )

After looking at the beginnings of the baby quilt on my design wall for a few days I finally decided to take this central block apart.

I tried out a couple of the heart blocks that I had placed as cornerstones in the pieced border with the fussy cut blocks I really wanted to feature in the middle of the quilt...

And I quite liked it! You haven't seen it yet, but I had a couple of pieces of co-ordinating prints that I knew I would be using inside the pieced border. To soften that transition I found this warm golden zebra stripe batik:

I also made two more of the fussy cut blocks from what will be the focal fabric and used them as cornerstones in the border. Much better.

And here it is with the focal print in place:

The focus fabric is directional. I chose to place it such that it faces in all four directions, just as I had the original center block. My thinking was that the imagery would be right side up no matter which direction the child was laid onto the quilt.

Now for the pieced border...

Here's a detail shot of one of the fussy cut blocks:

And this is a section of the focal print:

At this point the top was about 44 inches square. Which would be big enough for a baby quilt... except that I had this great stripe I wanted to use for the outer border!

It would have been ideal to miter the corners of this outer border but I didn't have enough of the stripe to pull that off. (Nor did I have the mental agility at the time I was working on this!)

Here's a close up of one part of the stripe:

So now the top is about 52 inches square. Baby won't be outgrowing this quilt in a year! I will need to piece a back for it. I have a flannel baby jungle animals print to begin with; it was not part of the line I used for the top but it co-ordinates beautifully. It will just be a matter of finding other flannels to add to it until I get to the size I need. There's a really good chance this will be a finished quilt about the same time the baby arrives! How often does that happen???!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spurts and Starts

There's an unusual color in the sky outside my windows today. It's blue between white fluffy clouds! There's no water falling from the sky either. Very strange, but quite lovely. Wonder how long it will last? I had occasion to be outside for the first time in a long time today too. The early flowering trees are in bloom and the daffodils are shining like little suns along the streets and sidewalks. Ahh, spring!

I've been busy at the sewing machines since my last post. Unfortunately I also got hit with a couple of days of unavoidable down time. Such is life. Here's one of the projects I'm currently working on:

It's meant to be a baby quilt eventually. The original idea was to put a focal print inside this pieced border and then throw a wide outer border on it and call it done. Apparently that's against the rules here in The Magpie's Nest. Too easy I guess. Or not enough of 'me' in the design maybe?

I created the four blocks below out of some fussy cut patches and sewed them together thinking they could be a point of interest in the middle of what will be a square quilt.

I also wanted to fill in those corners in the border with something other than more Broken Dishes blocks. I made up these heart blocks but I'm not really sold on them. They actually look better in the picture than I think they do in person. To my eye they don't stand out enough, or not as much as I had hoped they would.

I may just end up making more Broken Dishes or Pinwheels to see whether I like that better or not. Or maybe I'll fussy cut a few more images and make more of the framed square blocks for the corners. For now I have taken that off the design wall to turn my attention to other things.. As the due date for the baby gets ever closer maybe I'll be more inspired - or desperate to get it finished!

It seems silly to me but, honestly, I'm having a grand time just cutting up old prints into strips and patches for more Scrappy Trips and blocks for my Parts Department.

I've been on the lookout for something to put between the Shoofly and Hole in the Barn Door blocks  that are my mainstay. Recently it occurred to me to just frame up some of the single 3.5" patches that were accumulating with strips that will finish at 1.5" to create six inch blocks.

I think it's going to work. Plus, I really like the way the prints are showcased in this truly simple format.

In spite of all the practice and efficiency I've developed over time glitches still happen. For example, one day I was sewing a stack of Shoofly and Barn Door blocks, moving from sewing machine to ironing board at intervals. Somewhere in that space of maybe two feet I lost the half-square triangle unit that would complete this block!

I have looked and looked and cannot figure out where it disappeared to. In the end I was able to scrounge up enough of the two prints to create a new HST unit but it's driving me nuts that I don't know where the original went!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Swimming in Strips

There's been a good bit of sewing going on here in The Magpie's Nest. I'm going to start with a top I mentioned a few posts ago but didn't have pictures of at the time.

You may recall that I've just recently boarded the jelly roll or 1600" quilt bandwagon. Now I can't seem to get off! When I went through my holiday themed novelty prints, cutting 3.5" strips, I ended up with enough for two nearly twin size quilt tops. This first top was made from strips pulled randomly from the shopping bag I tossed the strips into.

It seemed a bit busy to me at first. (You should be able to double-click on the photos to get bigger images.) I put it away for a week or so before pulling it back out to photograph it. I like it better now.

It's still busy though. ;- )  Also, all the red strips ended up at the perimeters of the final top. They're at the top and bottom, and clumped along the sides. I haven't sewn the second set of strips up yet. My plan is to organize them a bit rather than pulling them randomly from the bag to see what happens.

In the meantime, when I learned of the need for lap quilts for the Alzheimer's Disease Co-operative Study, in particular quilts in patriotic colors for veterans, I looked around the Nest to see what I had that I could turn into a quilt in short order. Lo and behold, there were some patriotic prints leftover from the Holidays quilts. Based on my experience with all those novelty prints I decided to throw in some not-novelty prints in red, white, and blue in an effort to create a calmer top. I think it worked.

Then there was the puzzle of what to do for the back. To accommodate long arm quilting I needed a back 48" x 54". The length wasn't a problem but the width created a challenge. It's just a little wider than the width the fabric comes off the bolt. But! I had a length of strips leftover from piecing the top. (When I pieced the patriotic strips together the initial strip for the jelly roll was  longer than it needed to be so I removed the excess before I started the folding and seaming process.)

All I had to do was add another strip to the patriotic print strip for length, fold it in half once and seam it. When it is inserted between the two halves of the width of fabric yardage I'll have the perfect back! If I exercise a bit of patience I'll be able to send two quilts to the ADCS instead of just one. :- )

I have also been sewing up a herd of scrappy blocks. That's a whole other post. But here's one I made from what was left of one of my patiotic prints:

I have continued to make Scrappy Trips blocks too. I'm close to having enough for a twin size quilt. I have a feeling that, like the jelly roll process, now that I've stuck my toe in the water there will be no turning back until I've swum across the whole lake!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Blocks & Tops

I've made a couple more friendship blocks for ladies in my local quilt group. This one is called "Crossing Ohio."

This one is "Paradox." I sort of wish I had more contrast in the center of the block but this is acceptable. I'm pleased to report that both of these blocks are perfectly sized!

I've been thinking about my predilection for making scrappy blocks/quilts. I've come to the conclusion that it's a genetic predisposition. For example, I have this Double Wedding Ring top that one of my great grandmothers made:

Here's a close-up of one of the blocks:

There's some repetition of prints but I suspect she didn't have as much to choose from as I do!

And then there's this Lady of the Lake top made by the same great grandmother:

Again, there's organization, but she wasn't afraid of busy! She also seemed to have a preference for setting her blocks side by side as I do. I find all this comforting somehow. It strengthens the link between myself and a grandmother I never knew personally. I've kept other family heirlooms for the same reason. They are touchstones to ancestors I never knew personally.

I've continued to make Scrappy Trips and other assorted blocks out of scraps. The flannel jelly roll quilt is on its way to New Jersey and I will have a lap quilt on the way to California later this week. Did you know that the Alzheimer's Disease Co-operative Study have completely depleted their stock of lap quilts? They're looking for some patriotic themed quilts to be distributed to study participants who are veterans. I know there are some red, white, and blue blocks in my Parts Drawer. Guess it's time to dig them out!