Sharing fabric cuttings with my worldwide friends

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Block 47 Heroine's Crown

Yes, this is my for real post for block 47.

The Grandmother's Choice blog suggested that The Heroine's Crown was an opportunity for us to choose our own Heroine. I don't have a specific heroine in mind but I allowed my fictitious heroine to have some input on how the block was going to look.
 So when the block came out ten days ago I was away at a retreat and also going to a one day conference. There was no way I was going to be able to make the block. And when I looked at it I wondered how I was going to be able to manage those oak leaves once I did have the time along with all my supplies to hand.

I am currently frantically working on a project which has to be done by August 5 and I elected to make it a hand applique project (why do I do this??!) so when block 47 also needed hand applique it was a foregone conclusion that it would not be quickly done. Instead I have worked on it around the other project.

On this past Saturday I first worked on block 48. In the evening I cut the fabric and started to prep the pieces for hand applique for The Heroine's Crown. A 15 minute effort at the ironing board to unsuccessfully work on the oak leaves in the original pattern convinced me (after a small hissy fit) that I could come up with an alternate version of this block. After all, wasn't the second part of the title "choose your own"?

Again I went to the fabric pile and looked at what fabrics had only been used once. There was this somewhat bold stripe that had only the one appearance as the chimney in the Schoolhouse block 11. And there was that wonderful big green polka dot in the purple background which had also appeared only once in block 2. A plan was made to let the fabrics speak boldly and let the oak leaf wither and disappear in favor of a more simple leaf that would allow the bold stripe to be used.

A little more "bling" was called for I thought so I decided to add the green dots (or gems) to my crown.

And really, the posed photo was a snap to set up. Plenty of bling here!

Gosh, just one more block and this project will have all the blocks revealed. I do hope it's a good one to close out on a high note. But with my other project also needing to be finished (as in quilted, bound, labelled and delivered) by Monday August 5 don't be surprised if I don't get the final GC block done on Saturday.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Block 48 Fair Play - Canadian Suffrage

This week the story is about the gradual way that the women of Canada were granted the right to vote. There was a realization that if women could perform wartime service then surely they should also be allowed to vote. Beginning in 1917 women serving as nurses in WWI were given the vote along with women at home in Canada who had close family members serving overseas in the armed forces. Later, women who were property owners were added. Finally the Canadians were able to recognize that all women deserved the right to vote.
 Continuing with my quest to use each fabric at least twice in this project I decided to use the fabric I had used in block 29 The Seven Pointed Star for Australia. A reason to choose this one is to honor my Canadian friend Rhonda who I met in Australia. However, in this, the second to last block I also pulled into use a fabric that has not so far been seen but I liked it because it had both the green and purple I needed and the green was a good match.

From time to time I come across blogs where people have provided a tutorial on how they made their block. That would make something new to blog about I thought and thus I decided to photograph my progress while also using a number of techniques I have picked up over the years. Because the block from last week is still waiting to be done (I want to do hand applique but have not yet had the time to get it done) it was necessary for me to take the curved piecing challenge with this one.

I made freezer paper templates (oops, not shown) and cut out my pieces. On the two outer straight edges I add an extra 1/8" just in case (my blocks hardly ever end up larger but they can end up an 1/8" or so smaller and this gives me some fudge allowance). When I am preparing to stitch two curved pieces to each other I pin quite extensively. First I find the midpoint of each piece by folding in two - one I fold with right sides together and the other with wrong sides together so that the pieces will "nest" and I can pin them. At the straight edges I pin in two places to hold the piece square.
 I put it under the presser foot with the concave side up so the feed dogs will ease in the more voluminous convex side. Having trouble remembering which is the concave piece? It's the one that looks like a cave. I stitch carefully, maintaining the 1/4" seam allowance. And I give myself permission to hold my breath if I think it will help!
 It's stitched!
 Now for the bigger piece. Again it is concave side on top.
 And pretty soon all four units are stitched and ready. This is much faster than hand applique.
 One thing that most pattern people do not mention is how to press. Seams that "nest together" are much more likely to be successful so in this instance I pressed my darker units towards the outer corner and my lighter units towards the center.
 Another "trick" I have heard and used is to sew so the seam allowance on top faces towards the machine presser foot. Sometimes it is necessary for me to seemingly sew it back to front to get that seam allowance in the right place.
 And now, this is what happens when you are so intent on photographing each step and less intent on pinning correctly. Not to worry, that is why I have a seam ripper! Of course in both units I had exactly matched those seams and now I had to take one of them out. Oh well.

The block is done and posted on flickr.

Nope, I am not setting mine on point but I thought it made for a more interesting photo if I laid it this way on the Canadian themed fabric.

Nearly there folks. Next Saturday we get the last block in the project. Hopefully by then I will have completed the block from last week.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Block 47 - this is not!

In case you are here on my blog looking for block 47, alas, it is not done yet.
 This is as far as I have got. Yes, I have printed out the pdf. and I have made my templates. Oh and decided this is a fabric that needs a second chance in the project.

In case you think I have been goofing off let me disabuse you of that notion.

Friday of last week was the first day of our quilt group three day retreat. I spent the first day cutting and stitching borders for my Grandmothers Choice blocks. See, I was trying to make progress.

On day two of the retreat I played hooky and went to the one day conference the Quilt Alliance was having in conjunction with a quilt show. One of the reasons I went was to see up close and personal all the ninety quilts that were entered in the recent TWENTY challenge the QA had - and here I am posing with the quilt that was made by a group I was part of which, much to our amazement, actually won the grand prize. (See my earlier posting on July 5 for more details about this.)
I had not seen the quilt up to this point! My portion of the effort was to create a setup suitable for a twentieth anniversary and photograph it.
 Here you can see a little more detail. As a side thought I was intrigued to see that the QA has custom made black drapes to hang these little quilts on - these are not simple drapes but rather simple quilts with minimal, but effective, quilting on them.
 The quilts were displayed in the foyer area - here's a general shot. Later in the afternoon the sun was pouring through the windows and I surely hope that the windows indeed do have a uv protective film on them as I was told they did.

 The evening before I went to the retreat I was busy making something for the snack table. I decided to use a recipe from my mother's recipe book. She was fairly sparse with her recipes - most of them simply list the ingredients. For this recipe I had to make many substitutions; the recipe was called Spicy Sultana Squares. Lacking sultanas (not well known here) I substituted a mix of golden raisins and currants. The mixed spice from the NZ recipe got replaced with allspice (hey, I was in a hurry and it was getting late in the evening). And the result got cut into oblongs and not squares. I stared off putting mixture into a 9" x 9" pan but that was too big and hurriedly transferred it to an 8" square pan.
However, the end result was fine and if you have never had my mother's Spicy Sultana Squares before you would not know of all the liberties I took with the recipe.

Day three of the retreat was spent working on a "secret" project - of course had you been there you would have seen the secret under construction.

Since the retreat I have had some personal family business to take care of plus I am working on a tight deadline with another quilt project (see paragraph above) that has to be completed and handed in by August 5. And I am doing hand applique on it. Sigh. Why do I do this to myself?

Guess by the time I get to the hand applique for block 47 I will be a little more practiced! Watch this space.

Gee, I hope there is an easy block for block 48 which will be posted tomorrow morning!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Block 46 Barrister's Block - Legal Battles

From this week's story on the Grandmother's Choice blog we read about the struggle women had to become lawyers/barristers even well into the 1900s.

The block as shown on the GC blog page is just a quarter/single section of what is more usually known as the Barrister's Block. I decided to make the more authentic block which of course meant more time and cutting and fussing with seams.
 As you'll know from previous posts I am paying attention to earlier blocks in an effort to try to use each fabric in at least two blocks. This floral print, chosen to represent the lady barristers, is one of the few I have allowed in that depart just a little from my chartreuse/red-violet color scheme. Perhaps for that reason it has only been used once previously in block 26. I also wanted to try to avoid another block with a big piece of one fabric which the one quarter block version would have necessitated.

Another change is that I decided to switch around where I placed my repeated "background" fabric - instead of positioning it in the expected border of the block I made it the central portion to give a light focus there.

With only three more blocks to go I'm not sure that all the fabrics are going to make an appearance in more than one block but I will be trying to do that when I select fabrics.

Years ago when we lived in England we found this old cartoon. My husband had a skeptical view of the importance of lawyers/barristers and had the print framed to hang in his office. Barrister is a term not often heard here in the USA but in the Commonwealth countries is frequently used to denote the lawyers who plead cases before the high court hence this print is particularly apt (and, you'll note, does not seem to depict a lady barrister).

Next weekend I will be away on a three day quilt retreat so I am not sure that I will get my block done and posted before Sunday night. I hope, as compensation, to spend some time working on the sashing of the blocks for this quilt.

Good gracious, I have only just realized that I do not have a working name for this quilt. That is very unlike me as I ordinarily name my quilts as I begin to work on them. I better put in some serious thinking time.

When do you name your quilts and do you remember to then label them with that name and your details?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dixie Diary - Month Seven

Phew, are you keeping up with me? Three posts in the last 24 hours. This is the exception rather than the rule for sure!

But since today was the first Saturday in the month we also had a new block posted for the Dixie Diary project. Today we could read about our heroine, Sarah Morgan, having to subsist on cornbread and do without many other things including her beloved home.

 As you'll recall I am making my blocks at a 6" size (the pattern gives them at 12") and I am not - so far at least - adding the optional center applique of a heart or star. You'll notice that instead I am always using the one very pretty pink and white floral fabric.

 I ventured outside to take a photo of the block thinking I had many pink and white flowers in my garden but once I held my block near to the flowers I discovered pink has a lot of variety. The second problem was that the sun was still blindingly bright.

Coming inside I passed by the pantry and it occurred to me that the cornbread angle might have better opportunities. Although I did not have any cornbread to hand I did find some cornmeal, corn and the skillet that we use to make cornbread in.

On the Civil War blog this month's block for the Dixie Diary project is named  "Living off Cornbread". I'm not too sure that is an accurate name but for the purpose, that is what the block is called.

Five more blocks to go in this project.

Block 45 Aunt Mary's Favorite - The Childless Wife

The story for this week of the Childless Wife and the negativism she encountered was not one I wanted to dwell on. Instead I focused on the name of the block - Aunt Mary's Favorite.

This project will have stories and patterns for 49 blocks provided so as we near the end I am trying to look back at what I have done and see if there are fabrics that need to be used again. The sweetness of the toile fabric seemed to be a good fit for Aunt Mary and I have only used it a couple of times previously. My imagined story is that Aunt Mary loved to watch her nieces and nephews playing in the garden in the summertime.

On the flickr site this morning stripes seemed to be popular and since this one had not been used very much out it came again. It is an unusual one in that the stripes are printed on the bias i.e. I did not have to cut the fabric on the bias.

 The petunias seemed to be a good balance of colors to pose my block in for this week. Alas, no nearby playing children could be found.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Good gracious - a Grand Prize Winner!

One day in March I spent a number of hours trying to come up with a suitable image that could be made into a quilt.  This was at the suggestion of my friend Cheryl in NC who had a small group of quilters who had asked her to lead them in making what we'll call a "slice" quilt. The idea is that you take an image and cut it into a number of pieces (to make things easier, equal sized pieces) and give each slice of your image to one participant. They are required to reproduce that portion of the image. Then each fabric slice is seamed together, quilted and finished and, hopefully, you will come up with a reasonable reproduction of the original image.

In the quilt world it is always necessary to be sure you are not using a copyrighted image/pattern. For this reason we decided an original photograph was needed.

The ladies wanted to make a slice quilt and enter it into a challenge created by the Quilt Alliance (Alliance for American Quilts). This is the twentieth anniversary year for the Quilt Alliance so they asked for quilts to be made to celebrate the number twenty and that the finished quilts should measure 20" x 20". All the quilts entered would become the property of the Alliance and will be auctioned later in 2013 as a fundraiser.

I had a lot of fun rummaging through my cupboards looking for well colored pieces to use in a photo.This was the (unedited) image that was used (we cut off the untidy portion of my backyard).

The traditional gift for a 20th anniversary is china, hence the china teapot, mug and plate. It being just prior to Easter my eyes fell on the hotcross buns sitting on the kitchen counter and I suddenly had a lightbulb moment - 20 in roman numerals is XX so if I angled the buns just so I would have my XX. Yellow and blue always look good together and my lemon pig mug added a touch of whimsy.

I sent the image to Cheryl who got it printed and then she cut it up and distributed it to Ann, Alice, Susan and Christina. The ladies, who had not seen the entire photo, quickly set to work cutting and stitching their fabric to make their individual portion. When they were done the slices were returned to Cheryl who seamed them together and then quilted the piece. Alice took care of binding the finished quilt and submitting it, along with the written work to the Alliance.

Then I forgot all about it.

Imagine my utter surprise when I answered the phone on Wednesday afternoon to hear a very excited Cheryl tell me that our quilt, Time for Tea, had been awarded the Grand Prize. I'm not sure I even realized that there would be judging and prize winners; I just thought it was a fun challenge and I like to do group projects and since this was to be a fundraiser for the Quilt Alliance that made it even more worthwhile to participate.

Now, if I have piqued your interest, you can go here (click on the word "here" - it should be a live link - let me know if it does not work) and see all ninety entries. You'll find our quilt at #19. From that page you can click and go to other pages which will show you the winners. And if you (left) click on each individual quilt picture it will bring up details about that quilt.

The quilts will go on a short tour and then will be available for an online auction beginning in November.

Do browse around the Quilt Alliance web page as they are doing very important work in recording the history of quilts. Consider joining the Alliance and/or bidding on one of the fun little quilts that were made in response to the TWENTY challenge.

And maybe feel inspired to sometime enter such a challenge yourself - it's not about the winning it's about the way you stretch yourself creatively. We can all learn from each other and have fun with our quilts at the same time.