Sharing fabric cuttings with my worldwide friends

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Block 31 Tinted Chains - Click

The history story and block for this week is all about women being chained to a life of servitude. As I had "abandoned" my household tasks of this week and spent at least twenty hours over at church helping with the flower arranging for the Easter celebrations I do not really feel as though I am chained to this house. While I "should" have been cleaning my home in readiness for Easter and buying the ingredients for our Easter dinner (much less planning it!),  I instead had the joy of working with glorious pastel blooms to decorate.

 This put me in a pastel and Spring mood so I tried to select fabrics for a more pastel look than my blocks usually appear.

Initially I looked at the block and thought those squares were too big and that I would instead make the more accepted version of Tinted Chains. That block has quite a few more squares and would give me more variety of fabrics. However, I looked at my blocks to date and decided I already had some that had those smaller squares and maybe I needed a block with bigger squares. This may be the first time I have used either of these fabrics so I will have to remember to use them again once or twice someplace in the upcoming blocks.
For my "fun" photo my thought was to arrange some chains around the block but a quick search out around the tool bench area did not come up with anything I could use. So I thought some "tinted chicks" would fit the need. And would remind me that I was making this block on Easter Day.

This makes for an altogether happier looking outcome than grim chains.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A photo finish

If you have been reading this blog for a while you will recall the Civil War block of the week project that I followed along with in 2011. It was created by quilt historian Barbara Brackman - currently she is writing the Grandmother's Choice blog which I also am working on and posting about each week.

My blocks from the Civil War project were all put together late last summer but the top was only finally quilted in January this year.

I thought you might like to see the finished project.
As you may remember I am calling my quilt "The Blues and The Greys". The repetitive parallel quilting lines in the setting blocks are intended to give a "uniform" look to the piece. The sampler blocks are all individually quilted.

My boys and I had "fun" yesterday trying to photograph it. I had looked out the window and commented that it was a still day with an overcast sky and thus a good opportunity to take quilt photos outside. Hah! Just try erecting a stand with a 96" x 96" quilt on it and the wind will arrive. First we had a backdrop with a larger black drape. Then the stand with the quilt was in front.  I was standing behind  the camera ready t press the shutter when I saw the whole thing start to teeter. Despite my cry of dismay my helper just stood and watched while both frames toppled over. He was mighty lucky that the deck railing prevented everything from falling in the wet dirt below the deck!

Given the challenges, I am hoping you will excuse the ripple on the lower edge where the breeze was working against me.

All in all I think this quilt turned out well despite the fact that it has no designated purpose. It was a great pleasure to work along with the project each week. And it was good practice for the Grandmothers Choice project I am working on now. Whew, just a little pressure each week whether it be to find just the right fabric to fussy cut or how to construct a seven pointed star and have all those points line up in the center.

Life is meant to have a few challenges in it...right?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Block 30 Grandmothers Choice block

If you have looked at the Grandmothers Choice blog post today you will see that the story for this week was all about the women who were imprisoned for their support of the cause in the UK. Conditions were very harsh and the insignia used on the clothing of prisoners was a broad arrow.

The block shown was one 8" block. I thought this would make a very domineering presence in a finished quilt so I decided to make an alternate block which is four of the broad arrow blocks scaled down. That allowed me to use a variety of fabrics to make it less of a standout.

 The prison uniforms seen in comics of my youth usually showed prison garb as being vertical stripes so I looked in my fabric collection to find some striped for the block. And then, inspired by Dustin's use of polka dots I found some coordinating dots to work with.

It was a great relief not to have a difficult block today as I am busy trying to get another project done.

This pattern reminds me of a symbol used to advertise some product - but what it is will tease away at my mind for hours more yet. Have you seen it in an advertisement?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Block 29 - Seven Pointed Star for Australia

Australia is near and dear to my heart having lived there 1995 - 2000 so I wanted to make this block special. And I found I had my work cut out for me to do this (to employ a relevant saying - but alas, when I first cut out the work it was not with reliable templates!)

This past weekend I was away with my quilt group on a three day retreat. My GC fabric bag was with me along with my laptop; my thinking was that presuming it was an easy block it should be no trouble to do the block as usual on Saturday. Hah! A seven pointed star and no template making material with me was problem # 1. I won't bore you with problems # 2, 3, 4 - well you get the picture. Pinkdeenster was with me and she kept sidling over to check my progress and murmuring that she thought she was a little too tired to start her block. I noticed that her marvellous block must have been done in short order as soon as she got home as it was posted online before I got home from retreat. But I won't hold that against her!

So here we go with version 2.1

 After rereading the original blog posting and looking at the poster announcing the Women's Freedom League Procession of June 17, 1911 I found a fabric right at the bottom of my pile that seemed to reflect the suggested dress colors for the procession and to remind me of Australia as well.

I had a lot of problems with using the pattern as provided on the Grandmother's Choice blog (see following photo) so once I got home I decided to redraw the pattern myself. Using my trusty compass and protractor I drafted my own star making sure to make it somewhat smaller so the points would not touch (and potentially get cut off by) the edge of the block.

Once I had my pattern drawn and templates made I started cutting fabric. By a happy co-incidence I discovered those green spots fell in an almost perfect location near the center if I was really careful with how I cut the diamonds. You can see how random looking the fabric pattern is so it was a challenge to fussy cut but I persevered and it worked out.

In sewing order I pieced all the diamond shapes first and then I started to add the background shapes. And let me tell you it is getting easier to do these inset seams. Soon I will feel like I can pull out my long term pine burr project and continue with it. That's something that has been sitting in the too hard pile for many many months which is a shame as it is quite close to being finished. But I am up to having to do some pretty tricky inset seams and they had been getting the better of me.
Here was version 1 of the block. For this first attempt I had decided I wanted a bold look for Australia but, h'mm, the idea was better than the reality. So when the center seam did not match I tossed it down and declared I would not waste any more time on it. Besides, since Australia had used the English colors (green, white and gold) and did not have purple, although that big polka dot gave a bold look, it would be more authentic without purple.

And to remind us all again of the name for the block this week the atlas and the boomerang make it instantly identifiable.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dixie Diary Month 3

This is another online project I'm doing - see my first posting here .  I don't treat this one with quite the same urgency that Grandmothers Choice gets.

That said, the little pile of fabric is growing and I am enjoying working with a color selection that I do not often use. Although the patterns given on the Civil War blog posts are for 8" or 12" blocks I am making mine in a 6" size.

  For month three the block is named Shouting Yankee Doodle.  I decided to use one of my new purchases from the Marcus fabrics Old Savannah collection. Note to self; when buying a fat quarter try and get the one with the name on the selvedge.

This is the block I first made for month 3. I wanted to use the fabric with stars on it because of the name of the block and also because it is from a Barbara Brackman collection. But this did not really look good to my eye; the stars are not aligned with a 45 degree cut and the color argues just a little with the pale floral alternating fabric.
I am still mulling how to set my blocks. The two plain looking fabrics in front have been chosen as potentials to make the appliqued heart or star from once I decide if the blocks will be straight set or on point. With no pattern on the fabric they should show up against the patterned fabrics I use in the piecing. But they have just a smidge of interest more than a plain solid would.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I found that Ms Brackman had shown my month 1 block on her Material Culture blog this week. If you are not familiar with that go see this entry. The fabric I used for the feature cross in that block is from a small collection named Quilts of Florence Peto the flower pot series by Froncie Quinn for Newcastle Fabrics.

Ooh, now I better go read today's posting on Material culture as it is National Pi day - for those of you without a math focused family member today is March 14 or 3.14 which is  the "magic" number to use in calculating circle dimensions. The post is all about circular quilt blocks and more. My geek son has a geeky friend with a birthday today which always made having pizza on that day an easy choice - round and a pie!

But seriously, what I better do is get started on packing up projects and fabric as I am going on my guild retreat weekend tomorrow morning.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Block 28 Ocean Waves - My Friend Erma

The block story this week moved ahead in history to talk about women who had careers in what was a traditional male field when they began.  Alas, no navy or ocean related history in my past.  However, I was an architectural draftswoman at a time when there were very few in the field. Oftentimes in my classes I was the only girl but that did not cause any problems that I recall. The job descriptions in the local authority where I started work only allowed for draftsmen but I got the job anyway.

 When choosing my fabrics for the block this week I looked for fabric patterns that had the look of waves cresting. I found a couple and realized I had them in both colorways so that made the choice easier. Of course it did not make taking a photo that is exactly square any easier than usual.

Since last week I was all out of ideas for my posed shot I wanted to try hard this week.  The resulting photo is meant to convey that there are a lot of large ocean waves between me and New Zealand right now.

Sometimes it's good to have a little fun.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Block 27 Grandmother's Dream - The Houghton's

H'mm, be careful what you wish for.  Many people in the flickr community for the Grandmothers choice BOW project had been commenting that the last several weeks we'd had an easy block and that a hard one must be coming soon. If 16 "y" seams counts as hard (yep, I think it does), then this was the block we had all been anxiously expecting.

And to add to the challenge for this block it was suggested that this was a good candidate for fussy cutting. I had been busy most of the weekend with a social event but spent 30 minutes on the floor of the sewing room around midnight on Saturday trying to find a fabric that could be fussy cut for this block. I thought I found one that could be used as the outer frame so I chose a simple stripe for the inner big cross and set the fabrics on the cutting table and gave up for the night.

By Sunday evening I could spend more time on the block. Once I had printed out the templates I discovered that what I hoped to use for the outer border was not going to be easy to use because the print was not exactly regular. So I chose another motif from the same fabric and started cutting. And discovered that in my as yet not used fat quarter there were only two of the motifs that I needed four of. Oh no. I decided to make a start and see if the motif would really work - if it did I could dash out at 10am on Monday and get more fabric as it came from my nearest quilt shop. It was looking good so I proceeded with that plan.

Now, several interruptions later, I have at last finished it. A good final pressing and it is ready for the camera. But wait, maybe I should measure it. What's this?! 8 1/4" on one side and 8 3/8" in the other direction. Too bad. So sad.

I've spent enough time on this one. Maybe at a later time I'll make another block and try one of the methods that eliminate the "y" seam and I'll choose fabrics that look good together without too much tedious seam matching of fussy cuts.

Sorry, no second fun photo of the block today. I am too deflated to compose one.