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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 48 West Virginia

Now, you must agree that this block does not look all that difficult. But once I read what was on the flickr site on Saturday I thought "uh oh". In the days following there has been mention of having to starch/press/pull the block into submission. On Monday I cut out two diamonds and went to pin the first seam and discovered my diamond was too small so I abandoned the effort.

This morning, I drafted the block myself (the old fashioned way with paper, pencil and ruler as I do not have EQ/blockbase) and made templates for the diamonds. This was necessary as I wanted to fussy cut and use that wavy stripe fabric. On Saturday I had found the central motif in a fabric in the project pile and I thought it would be a good choice as West Virginia changed sides so often during the war. And finally, the block is done.

A week or two ago I posted a couple of sample setting blocks. Here is an update to that. I know the photo itself is not a good one but it does show the idea of what the setting blocks might look like if I go with this idea. You can see three rough sample blocks: one (too small but for the purpose it'll do) with the inch wide tan colored X, one with a half inch wide blue X and then one with a three quarter inch wide blue X altho I have folded over a small piece of red and stuck it in there too. This was because I was reading an article about color in one of the latest quilt magazines and it suggested that if the majority of your quilt is in "cool" colors then the addition of a small amount of a "warm" color will make it sparkle and visa versa. So if I leave all this up on my design wall and watch it for a few days maybe I'll come up with the answer as to what I might choose to do.

I also wanted to show you a gadget that I like to use. Compared to certain quiltie friends I am not a big gadget person but I do find myself using this tool, the Perfect Piecer, whenever I have a block with diamonds in it and for certain other blocks as well. It is designed by Jinny Beyer who is famous for her hand piecing; all the pin holes you see allow you to make a mark on a shape to aid in correctly hand piecing it to the adjoining shape. Well, I don't hand piece, but I do find that having that mark on the fabric helps me to line up odd shapes and pin them correctly before carefully sewing them on my sewing machine. It certainly helped me with this block and all those Y seams. Come to think of it I did not have to redo any of those seams - they all came out fine the first time.

And working out well the first time is always something to celebrate!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week 47 Dixie Tea

It looks as though I am feeling bland this weekend as this is the week 47 block I made. But following on from last Saturday with the tree trunk I cut my leaf stem from the same interesting fabric. It's always good to have some more quiet blocks in a sampler collection and I think this one will come under that heading. And I enjoyed being able to hum along to the Dixie tune while cutting my fabrics.

I have been giving increased thought to the setting of the blocks. After seeing the selection of settings that Barbara Brackman highlighted on her blog a couple of weeks back I am leaning towards using setting blocks rather than sashing. Of course setting blocks require sewing an additional 50 + blocks...h'mm.

Thursday was a very unsatisfactory day so when I got home I thought I would just shut myself away and work on a quilt project. The moral from that day is not to try anything complicated when your mind is fretting elsewhere.

Above is one option. The block would alternate with the weekly blocks so some of the blocks would be framed by the pale grey and some would be framed by the medium grey. This option would give an "on point" look to the blocks without actually setting them on point. I'm wondering if the "x" is too heavy i.e. currently the x is 1" wide and maybe it could do with dropping down a little in size? The tan color was introduced as some of the blue and grey fabrics I have used do have some tan in them and this would provide some variety in color. I could also choose to make the "x" in the dark grey which you'll see in the next option.

This chain style block is a second option. The dark grey could be replaced by the tan fabric. This block will give the same effect as the one above i.e. an "on point" appearance. However, there is more cutting and sewing required to make this block than the first option.

I'll also point out what happens when you sew while stressed. You can see many of the seams in option 2 look wonky. In option 1 the evidence might not seem so easy to see but had I shown these two blocks side by side you would see straight away that the option 1 block came in too small at the odd size of 7 1/4" finished instead of the required 8"; what did happen between making the calculations and cutting the fabric? It is just as well these two are sample blocks.

Linda at the quilt shop and I spent quite a long time happily pulling bolts of fabric on and off the shelves trying to come up with options to try for these setting blocks when I was in there early in the week to pick up my door prize. When we laid down a good number of the blocks we could see that blue blocks well outnumber grey blocks hence the choice to use grey and maybe tan in the setting blocks so the blue is not so overwhelming. Thank you Linda for helping me as well as others who passed by and were equally helpful by pointing out when we were trying too hard to make something work.

Please feel free to make your comments about the options I am considering.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Week 46 Apple Tree

There was another challenge for me with this weeks block because of the colors. The squares were supposed to be green and red to represent an apple tree. Well, that was not going to happen with a blue and grey color scheme now was it!

So I decided to go with a totally scrappy tree and to at last use some pieces of fabric that I have had for ages but not yet used. Yes, I had a piece of fabric with the Jefferson Davis image on it; score 1 for me. And to balance it I had this fabric with the Union flag on it; score 2 for me this week. Then for the tree trunk I used a piece that Cheryl had given me a while back - it was intended for the grey pile but with those brownish tones in it I had not yet used it. But by putting Jefferson Davis in there, with the sepia look to it, that fabric, looking so out of place in the grey pile, worked just fine in this block.

This block was not going to be an elegant looking one at this scale but at least it was an easy one to sew while I ponder the setting dilemma.

Today was day four of our local quilt shop hop. I was in the Jinny Beyer shop and on the wall upstairs was her Moon Glow top. It is pieced with alternating chain style blocks and each star block is different. This is similar to the sampler look we will have going with putting these civil war blocks together and echoes an idea one of the participants has as shown on Barbara Brackman's recent posting about setting ideas.

And for a happy finish to the day I got a phonecall after the shop closed to say my name had been drawn as winning a door prize. So that's my big excitement for today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 45 Port and Starboard

This weeks block did not enthuse me and maybe that is why it has taken until today to get the posting up.

I could not really understand why this block was shown in red, white and blue since the colors for port and starboard lights on a watercraft are red and green. And I was not able to use either color scheme anyway.

We are getting close to the end of this project and I thought perhaps I had better use some more of this fabric with Union written on it as it will have very limited use in other projects. As always though with this fabric it was a struggle to find something that goes with that particular shade of blue.

So here it is, a block to represent a major Union victory at sea in the Civil War.