Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Piecing Adventures

I’ve been enjoying a new book.  Modern Quilt Magic: 5 Parlor Tricks to Expand Your Piecing Skills by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  

Her first “parlor trick” is the partial seam.  And her designs are of the type I’ve looked at and and thought -- can’t make that -- so many partial seams.  Her take is,  “Yes, that involves a bunch of partial seams -- so?  Let's do it!”  

After studying her diagrams I set about making a little piece of interlocking rectangles, just to see how bad all those partial seams might be.  

The rectangles finish to 3" by 1.5".  That size was not difficult to piece, so I might try something a bit smaller.  The only "difficult" part of the construction process was not being able to use chain piecing easily.  
Well, that was easy!  Now what will I try?

I’ve always loved designs that look like strips are woven over and under each other. I've avoided these because construction usually involves “cheating” by seaming some of the strips.  With partial seams, though, this should work! 

I pieced rectangles from strips of various widths (used a very eclectic variety of fabrics spanning quite a few years) and cut background squares from white.  Then I laid out the whole thing on the living room floor and set to work piecing it together.  I made many trips back and forth to the living room as I found I needed to keep returning units to the layout to see where I was going.  But that was the only complicating part of the project, and I told myself that I was at least getting some steps in on my fitness tracker! 

The quilting doesn't show on the scrappy fabrics, but I had a wonderful time adding a variety of free hand feathered designs on the warm coloured strips and lines and leaves on the cool ones.  
I’m delighted with Happy Trails! Let's see what other ideas are in this book -- perhaps some curved seams next?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

The new issue, Volume 16, is on the newsstands NOW!    I'm sure you want to rush out and look for it right away!

And when you find it, you know the drill -- turn to the appropriate page -- this time it's page 51.  Find my block.  Gasp, utter exclamations of awe!  Explain to passersby that you know the quilter who designed this particular fabulous block!  (It really is fabulous -- says so right on the cover!)

My block in this issue is called Step Right Up.  It is based on a design I found in my file, a sketch on graph paper that my son Sandy did when he was in school. 

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 16.
 The magazine is resting on a quilt that I made using my Step Right Up block

Sunday, November 5, 2017

There's so much more to a quilt than the fabric!

I was reminded again recently how much more there is to a quilt than just what we see!  The quilt I was working on was a simple one, made from ordinary fabrics and using a basic pattern -- just squares with denim sashing between them. 

But to the friend who received it there is more to this quilt.  The fabrics are from shirts that her husband used to wear, shirts she herself probably purchased for him, and that she can remember him wearing as he worked around the house or sat watching tv in the evenings.  She can see a pocket in which he kept his pen, and buttons he opened and closed many times.

She will keep the quilt beside her chair and cover herself with its warmth, and with the memories, each time she uses it.  And I will remember that a quilt does not need intricate piecing or exotic fabrics to make it valuable. 

Memory quilt made from shirts.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Clothesline art?

I hang laundry outside to dry whenever possible.  It seems wrong somehow to use electrical energy to do what the sun and wind will do cheaper and better! (And we certainly have both sun and wind a-plenty here!)  So from April to September when the sun falls on the side yard beside the house, I put the wash out on my umbrella dryer.

 My mother taught me to hang tops by the bottoms and bottoms by the top, to place pegs at seam lines, to hang "unmentionables" in behind the bigger stuff -- because what might people think!  (I wondered at that -- if people really looked critically at one another's laundry, would they start thinking that no one ever washed underwear?).

The other day my neighbour told me that her young son was watching me hang out clothes while he ate his breakfast.  His comment was that the end result was "beautiful"!

Now that I am aware of an art critic across the street,  I find myself paying attention to the composition of the finished product.  Have I balanced the colours?  Should the red shirts be together?   Will the long lines of the legs of the jeans look good beside the rectangles of the towels?  Should I put all the dish towels together so that they will dance when the breeze comes up?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Quilting in July

It is only mid-July, but it has already turned into a long, hot summer here.

This is today's view across the valley -- we actually can see across the valley today, as the smoke is a bit lighter that it has been.  No wildfires threatening the immediate area, but there are bad fires throughout the region, and a record number of people have been evacuated.

So what's a girl to do when the air is full of smoke?  First, make sure necessary items are easy to grab in case fires do happen close to home.  And then -- quilting!

I've been busy, but with projects that I can't show for one reason or another.

Yesterday I reached the borders on a project.  This one clearly needed mitred borders.  So I measured and pressed and measured  and stitched  -- and my mitre looks fine.

But I remembered why I usually avoid mitres at any cost.  Sure, I can do it, and it looks great, but now I need to do it again.  And again.  And again!!  And I did, and it turned out fine, but this is really not my favourite task.   

You may notice that the inner dark border has NOT been mitred.  I chose not to mitre that one due to the methods used for construction and quilting -- borders were added stitch-and-flip method after the main quilting was done -- and that dark border is only one quarter inch wide.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A small finish

It is little, but it's done!
Three pinwheel blocks make a little wall-hanging.
I made the blocks one day to try out an idea and then I tucked them away and forgot about them.  When they showed up again I realized they were exactly what I needed.  The finished piece is only seven inches wide and less than twenty inches long.  It fits perfectly into an awkward spot above a set of shelves and it makes me smile every time I see it!

Something else that makes me happy is the new cover for my stash cupboard!  The bi-fold doors have been awkward -- hard to maneuver around when putting tubs of fabric on and off the shelves, not wanting to slide closed smoothly, not opening completely where the shelf beside them is too close.

These closet doors got in the way when I wanted to access fabrics in the corners of the shelves.
I finally realized the doors could be changed!  Off came the doors; up went a rod.  And now the stash is concealed behind a curtain.  The curtain is made from fabric that was brought home from travels by my son -- I think I raised that boy right!!

The curtain pulls open and closed easily. 
Does the curtain keep out all the dust and light?  No, it doesn't.  But a curtain that keeps out MOST of the dust and light is better than doors that kept it all out -- but only if they were closed.  The curtain is nearly always closed (so I can admire the elephants!), and the doors were usually open (because closing them was a nuisance).  So my stash has better protection than it did, and I'm happier!

Monday, March 6, 2017

On my wall

Last week I came across a bag of fabric samples, donated to the church prayer quilts ministry some years ago, never used.  Nice fabrics, but just pieces, rather than yardage, and in colours and patterns that were very definite -- not easy to combine with other fabrics (and believe me, we've tried!).

So I played a bit and designed a block that could make use of various sizes and wouldn't require any print to touch any other print.  As I cut the pieces I found I needed to piece some of the patches.

Here are a few blocks on the wall.  My first idea is that the white strips will be repeated between the blocks, so the white flannel wall lets me see how this might look.
That's not too bad.  This might work.

 I tried a few blocks against a green fabric.  That green is okay -- so this is a possibility, too.  

Only a few more blocks to put together, then the serious design play can begin!  Perhaps I might frame each block with a white strip, then sash with green?  Or frame half the blocks with white and half with green?  Or revert to original plan -- white strips between blocks and call it done?

I think this is why we keep quilting -- there are so many ways to do something, and really there are no wrong answers!  (And that collection of fabric is almost gone -- just a few small pieces left to go into the strip drawer!)