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Monday, May 30, 2016

Morris Hexathon Block 4

When I decided to do this block of the week it was with the idea that it would challenge me. Yep, it is doing that. Again, I machine pieced the block. But the blocks are designed for english paper piecing and by golly, if there is another one with this many pieces in it I might succumb and use the english paper piecing method.

For week four we had a block that is a variation on the classic box design with seven tumbling or baby blocks in it, renamed for this project "Box Hill". The finished side of each little box is 1.33" and there are 27 pieces of which 14 had to be fussy cut and placed carefully when stitching into place.

At first I was pressing these with the box tops (the plainer fabric) all pressed out. But I didn't like the way that looked. Something I try to do when writing instructions for others to piece a block is to give pressing directions because it often makes quite a difference to the finished appearance of the block.

The pressing is not perfect but from the front side it looks better this way as the "lids" pop out now.

Next weekend is our quilt guild annual quilt show so I'm hoping for an easier block for block five as I'm not going to be home a lot to sew.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Westering Women Block Five

On our journey west we have arrived at the Platte River. The story for this month is all about how the wagons had to cross the Platte River  “We are traveling up Platte river bottom, the north side” wrote Amelia Knight in 1853. “It is a beautiful river about a mile across, full of Islands and sand bars. As far as the eye can reach the road is covered with teams.”

My challenge was how to deal with the big 6" square of unpieced fabric at the block's center. I wanted to somehow have some blue in there to remember that this block was about a river (albeit one that did not sound particularly blue - it was more about having a sandy bottom and a murky appearance). Looking back at the blocks already completed I felt that this one had some similarities to block 1 and I resolved to go back to how I colored that one and give this block a similar darker border. The curvy bit of blue gets the river idea in there but I'm not sure yet that it is sucessful.

One of the quilters who posts her photos on the Westering Women flickr page also notes the fabrics she uses. I'm going to do that here, perhaps to show you what a wide variety of fabrics I use as I work in a decidedly "scrappy" way.

Outer border combines: a leafy fabric from the latest Barbara Brackman line "Morris Earthly Paradise", a pindot fabric from a Maywood Studios collection, called, believe it or not, "Santa Claus" and the stripe is from FreeSpirit Leaf Dance by Jane Sassaman (as is the inner fabric with the touch of blue). And then my theme fabric with the wagon from the Little House on the Prairie collection by Andover.

We are moving along on the trail now and I am trying to keep pace by making setting blocks as well.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Morris Hexathon Block 3

For this week our story takes us to Camelot and thus is born the Camelot Star. The tales/legends of Sir Lancelot, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, Queen of Camelot were the particular favorites of William Morris during his university days.

 In choosing my fabrics for this block I wanted to somehow mark it as being for Camelot; figuring a crown might be easier to find (in the right colorway) than a knight in full body armor I headed out on a mission. Not exactly the easy mission but I did find this Jo Morton print - is it a crown? is it a jesters hat? Whichever it is it was the best I could find!

I know we are only at week 3 of 26 but it is always good to keep in mind how the blocks look together. And how they seem to change color each week. That slightly acid green is a difficult one to accurately reproduce on the screen. You'll note I now have three different hues of green and a couple of browns. Past experience with projects like this has shown me that they will all work out playing well together in the end once I have set them with something to unite them all.

What is also interesting is which is the top of the block? With fussy cutting there is often a specific "this way up" for the motif. On Barbara Brackman's blog she shows her hexagons with the pointy bit at the top and I have decided to adopt that position. I notice that some people do likewise and some people make a flat side the top edge.

For my closeout fun shot I went on a hunt (at home this time) for crowns to put with the block. Oh dear, the green does look quite acid in this photo with a green linen back drop. Maybe next week I will choose a different shade of green.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Morris Hexathon Block 2

For week 2 of this project we have moved a few miles away from central London out to the site of the Great London Exhibition in 1851; Crystal Palace.

Our block for the week is a basic six triangle hexagon. Despite the simplicity of the design (the construction is not really what I classify as simple!) this block gave me issues. What you see above is my second effort. I thought the fabric pattern had some vague resemblance to the swirling motifs Morris used based on nature.

It wasn't so much the construction of the block that gave me grief. No, it was selecting the fabrics.

What was more fun was setting up my own "Crystal Palace" for my posed shot. Lighting was a challenge as I was inside on the north side of the house in the very late afternoon shooting out into the green of the backyard.

This was my first effort. I spent at least an hour just fussy cutting but I am not sure it shows. Now I am wondering about adding some embroidered tendrils on the block as embroidery was also a feature of William Morris designs.

In closing I am giving you another shot of my Crystal Palace. A fun shoot.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Morris Hexathon Block 1

Our friend Barbara Brackman has a new project for us; a 26 week block of the week effort she is calling the Morris Hexathon.(Side note here, my spell checker is not at all happy with the word Hexathon and keeps changing it to Heathen!) Focusing on her new fabric line by Moda "Morris Earthly Paradise" she will be giving us a story about William Morris's  England with stops along the way at places that were important to him - as she comments, it will be a virtual tour of England. As a bonus we will get a different hexagonal block pattern each Saturday.

For week one the block is named "Westminster" and is a six pointed star inspired by the tile-work floor of Westminster Abbey in London. In the photos on Barbara's blog she orients them so the red and green colored tile block has the red diamond at the top so I have tried to imitate that here.

In all likelihood these blocks are best made using english paper piecing but I am going to plan/hope to make them using the sewing machine. If nothing else it will be good practice in stitching y seams!

If you have been following my quilt blog for some time you will know that I usually choose to work in a controlled color palette. The "Morris Earthly Paradise" collection while very lovely and authentic is multi-colored and does not suit my preferred method of choosing to work with a limited number of colors.

On Saturday May 7 when the project began I was on a high hillside in West Virginia. It has been raining every day for almost two weeks now and that combination of very clean air, spring leaves and a longtime thought to work in a green and brown palette all came together at a most serendipitous moment. Being in this location was akin to being in nature's cathedral; quiet and inspiring. Once I got home I found two good, not yet used, two-yard pieces of green fabric in the pile of fabric that I had used for a previous Barbara Brackman project "Grandmother's Choice" and they have become the nucleus of this new project. I will combine them with browns from the Westering Women pile and a few from the fabric cupboard as well.

In the past I have had fun here on the blog with posing my blocks.In the 1980's we lived in central London and Westminster Cathedral (not Westminster Abbey - they are two distinctly different buildings albeit on the same street) was our parish church. At the time they were updating the seating and had a fundraising effort. My husband had donated money consistently for the effort and as a way to thank him they offered to give him some of the pews that were being phased out. So here I have posed my block on our Westminster Cathedral pew.

Can you catch a glimpse of that brown "moose" standing behind the trees? Nature has colored this scene so beautifully.

Thank you, I will have a seat. That is an F for Finished!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Westering Women Block Four

For the April chapter in this fascinating project the block was titled "Lone Elm". This pattern is more frequently known as Pine Tree or Christmas Tree but the story this month was about guideposts or signs along the route west and one such sign was a particular Lone Elm.

The block pattern traditionally has the tree pointing to the right side but, since our project is about heading west and most of the women on the trails were heading to the northwest, I changed the orientation of my block to match. I'm sure you can catch a glimpse of my little wagon through the tree.

With being away sewing again this weekend I am making good progress on this project.