Monday, April 30, 2012

Some Sewing and a Spa

Perth Modern Quilters KNOW how to have a good meeting.  A little sewing, a little drink, a lot of food and a spa!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Just Like Grandma Used to Make

Fully constructed blocks that are joined together

I always find it interesting when I see a well known quilter demonstrate a quilting technique as something remarkably different and newly reintroduced that I've had knowledge of for a long time.  Just recently I came across this when a method of constructing a log cabin was taught on a well known quilt show by a widely known published quilter.  The quilter explained that through her research she discovered this technique pre-dates the earliest known American quilt called a log cabin and is a block recognized as one called tile roof in Great Britain.  I'm not doubting this quilter did discover this in her research.  Its just that I've known about it since I was a kid as it was taught to me by my grandmother - who wasn't British.  How she learned it I don't know but I can only assume it was taught to her by her mother and so on.  As it's something I learned so long ago I never gave it a second thought really.  Too bad I didn't start teaching it to my quilting associates as a long lost technique.

Since seeing the show I decided to make the log cabin quilt that my grandmother taught me as a child just to see if it's the same as was presented on the quilting show.  As I'm constructing it I believe it is the same technique.  Who would have thought something old is something new?

For those of you interested in this it's a method of constructing a log cabin block that is essentially a quilt-as-you-go.  It has no batting because as my grandmother explained to me, it is meant to be a summer quilt.

The strips are attached directly on top of the backing so the stitching is visible on the back as well.

Strips are folded over once stitched so the stitching is not visible from the front, only the back.

The folds give this gives the block itself a textured look.
There is no template to follow - its very adhoc.  You cut a base to the size you choose (here it's 8 1/2 inches square).  The centre square is 3 1/2 inches.  Strips 2 inches wide are then stitched in a log cabin method around the square.  Though the stitches are visible on the top of the strip during construction, they aren't visible once the strip is attached it is folded over which creates a folded pocket that hides the stitches on the front yet is visible on the back.  This creates the quilt-as-you-go in each block.

This is the blocks back.  You can see my stitches here that make a decorative pattern on the back but aren't seen on the front.

As the blocks are completed they're attached to each other in the usual quilt-as-you-go fashion.  It's a great way to make a completely hand constructed quilt quickly as the block construction and quilting are done at the same time.  Once you've finished making blocks, you've essentially finished quilting the quilt.

I'm making this one from left over solid scraps of other projects.  Once all my blocks are complete I'll connect them and probably add a border and then its done.  I'm glad I saw the television quilter refresh my memory on this technique.  It's been so long since I used it, it may well have stayed forgotten had I not been reminded.  I think my grandmother would be in complete awe of how much knowledge she possessed that quilters today are seeking out.  I'm so happy to have learned even a small amount of this from her in my lifetime.  Tonight I'm meeting with the Perth Modern Quilters and I'm going to bring along this project to show and tell.  I'd like to pass along the knowledge I have to them and in doing so a little bit of my grandmother goes on.  That's the beauty of quilting to me.  It's being able to continue the long chain of acquired experience that came before me and hopefully will go on after me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Quandary.....

So here's the rub....

I want to use my Civil War reproduction fabrics on a unique technique of constructing a log cabin quilt.  It's going to be done completely by hand using 2 inch strips of fabric.  My quandary is this -

Do I have to cut ALL my strips first before I begin?

This really is a legitimate question when you think about it.  Normally for a scrap style quilt I would say no, cut as you go, but with a log cabin where it's important that the dark is dark and the light is light, if I cut as I go, the difference between lights and darks change depending on what tone of fabric its placed next to another.  Meaning my medium blue could look really dark next to a bright print yellow but not dark at all next to a bright print red.  Get what I mean?

This question is driving me crazy because I want to really USE my Civil War reproduction stash but I have literally HUNDREDS of prints.  I went nuts last year buying CW prints when I was knee deep in making the block a week Civil War Quilt by Barbara Brackman  - to the point that CW repro fabric has overtaken everything else that I have.  That's pretty sad really considering that when I started the CW quilt last year I had none.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.   I think I may have gone just a bit overboard in my stash accumulation....

So, do I have to spend the next two months cutting 2 inch strips from all of my CW stash, or should I just cut from say 40 prints and get on with it?  I like the idea of using everything I have because it will look awesome with so many different prints, but I dread having to actually cut it all.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teething Pains.....

Some of you may have noticed my posts being a little 'off' in the editing.  My sentences break in weird places and the text is a bit large.....

I've been experimenting with an iPad app program called iNoteBox.  It's a great program that does tons of stuff.  And one of the features is being able to post not only text but also photos to Blogger right from the app.  This is a BIG deal because iPads don't have Flash capabilities and Flash is used by Blogger to edit posts.  Anyway, as my iPad is with me 24/7, I've wanted to find a program that will let me easily post to Blogger and so far, with a few teething pains, iNoteBox is doing it.  I've sent a couple of messages to the creator explaining the bugs so that's why my less than perfect blog posts are still here and unedited.  The software creator needs to see what happens to the text and photos between the time I create them on the app and when they get posted.

Please hang in there with my less than perfect posts.  I'm hoping for a good outcome soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Fabric

These are two new fabrics I bought over the weekend from Textile Traders.  The first one is of old advertising ads which are black printed motifs on a white background.  And the other is red and white stripped fabric with Civil War battle names printed in black written across the stripes.  I don't have a plan for either fabric at the moment.  I just bought them because they caught my eye.  I already have a tremendous amount of Civil War fabric I've collected all through last year when I was working on Barbara Brackman's block of the week Civil War quilt project.  I guess I'm just in the habit of picking some of this style fabric up when I see a print that interests me.  

I'm sure at some point I'll make another Civil War style quilt, but right now I'm in modern mode.  That's what's wonderful about quilting, there are so many options, so many styles, so much choice in prints, colors and patterns.  Why stick with only one genre?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Little Paper Piecing....

My hand dyed fat quarters

I've been doing a little paper piecing this weekend.  A fellow blogger Kristy, showed her pieced block in this pattern and I just about flipped for it.  It's called Thuban and was only .99 cents through epatterns.  I thought it would be perfect for the 12 fat quarters I hand died earlier in the week.  12 fat quarters, 12, 12 inch blocks.  Viola - a quilt!  That was before I pieced the block.  OMG!  Talk about intense!  There's LOTS of little bits and LOTS of piecing.  This was probably not the right block to choose for a very inexperienced paper piecer.  But you know, I've never taken the easy road with anything, why start now?

The blue is from one fat quarter I dyed and the solid is organic seed cotton off white.
Am I going to continue with the rest of the 11 fat quarters?  Good question.  I should but that doesn't mean I will.  I think in the end it will make a fantastic quilt.  I'm just weighing the pros and cons of how much of a labor intensive project I want to take on as this IS my finishing year and I have lots of almost done projects waiting for my attention.  My quilting group, Running with Scissors, has it's yearly retreat in October and I'll need a project to take with me.  This might be the one to bring.

Piecing close up

I do like the pattern.......but I'm back to work tomorrow (ugh) and will no longer have all this leisure time on my hands to work on such a big project.  I think I'll just pin my one and only completed block up on my pin board in my office and look at it a lot.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Colossal Mess

This is what my sewing table looks like after working on a paper pieced block - a colossal mess.  

Reason number one as to why I'm not a big fan of the technique.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the precision you can achieve in making razor sharp points, but what a pain it is to do.  Print, fold, cut, measure, sew, cut, fold, measure, cut....geez... As if my sewing room wasn't already knee deep in fabric and unfinished projects. 

So far I've created all this mess just achieve this amount of block pieces. Mind you this isn't even one complete block yet!  Ugh.  This is what I get for wanting to challenge myself and work on a complicated block. 

This is a good project to use the lovely hand dyed fabric I made earlier in the week.  

Ok - I'm done whining.  I better get back to work because this block isn't going to make itself. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I am the Traveling Stash Master

I received a wonderful special delivery today.  The Traveling Stash came hand delivered by my fellow Perth Modern Quilter Tracey Rampling.  It was so nice of her to bring the stash right to my door.  I'm hoping whomever is next on the list is a WA Perth local so I can do the same for her.  It adds that little extra touch of the personal because not only do you receive a great gift, but you get to meet a fellow quilter.
Here's the goodies that spilled forth from the magical Parcel Post Plus bag.

As you can see there was sooooo much to choose from.  If I didn't already have that Matilda's Own Double Wedding Ring template I would have definitely taken that.  But I have it so it's staying.  I didn't need any more magazines as the mountain that is growing in my sewing room already is threatening to kill me if it ever fell over, so the magazines stayed as well.  I don't use ribbon much, they stayed.  I liked the bobbin holder but I have quite a few of those, so it stayed.  I really liked the pattern for the tote bag (and the accompanying handle to use with it) but I have way too many bag patterns that need making already.  So really the choice for me came down to fabric.  There was a lovely assortment to choose from; a colorful panel with a dove of peace on it, some winter themed fleece, multiple pretty print fat quarters, and of course the, what is becoming infamous, owl fabric (there's oh so pretty owl buttons in a package as well).  I REALLY thought about taking the owl fabric (and buttons) but decided against it.  I know there are some ladies out there hoping the owls are staying with the stash until it hits them.  I won't disappoint.  Since I've been in a very orange sort of fabric mood lately I took this:
The 3 inch Antique Fair charm pack (reds, oranges and browns...), the orange with purple and yellow flowers fat quarter, the orange mono print weed 1/2 metre fabric and the 1 metre modern print orange, pink, red, green, you name it fabric.  I think all of these together would make a great bag or throw.
Here are the items I'm placing into the stash:

I wanted to think outside the quilters square so to speak so I didn't just replace what I took out with the same as what I put in (i.e. fabric).  Along with two themed fat quarters (pink with the Eiffel Tower and London with cartoon cats....) I included an 'Everything Mary' purpose tote.  As you can see from the photo it completely unzips to lay flat for threads and miscellaneous stuff.  I love mine and use it all the time.  I added a June Tailor quarter inch slotted ruler.  I have this one as well as the 1 inch size and couldn't live without it.  A package of Birch fabric grip dots to hold templates or rulers still, a Clover iron-on transfer pencil, a pink butterfly applique-able motif, a psycho-70's style tin for what-not's and last but not least - a mouse pin cushion.  I ask you, who wouldn't love to have a mouse pin cushion?  
The stash will be ready to travel again on Thursday.  Sorry ladies my schedule this week is tight and I won't be able to make the post office until then (that is if I need to mail it, depending on who receives it next and where she lives). 
This is the very first traveling anything I've ever participated in and I'm really enjoying being a part of it.  I remember my grandmother telling me many years ago that her quilting life went far beyond the confines of her sewing space.  She cherished her relationship with quilting friends that were made through a connection with needle and thread.  Those women stayed a part of her social circle her entire life.  I find this so amazing as her relationships developed in the years long before the ease of meeting other quilters through the Internet.  Many of the friends I have met initially as quilting buddies have become so much more.  And I'm certain there are many more to be met in my future.    
I want to thank Cass for setting up the Traveling Stash and organising everything.  Projects like this are a reminder to us all that we are more than just a person sitting alone at our sewing machines.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Little Productive Me

Well I've at least caught up to the current month on the Craftsy BoM. Having time over this Easter break has afforded me some dedicated sewing time. The March blocks too a little while to make as they're basically scrap blocks made of small strips of fabric. That normally is no issue for me because I have an endless amount of scrap bits from other quilts. But because I'm using a specific choice of fabrics for this project, I had to purposely cut lots of bits from perfectly sound, long lengths of fabric. That was a pain. And also because I absolutely HATE wasting fabric, I agonised over how much I should cut that wouldn't leave waste after use. I wonder sometimes when I watch piecing demonstrations if they're conscience of the left over fabric bits. I suppose when you get an almost inexhaustible supply of samples from textile manufacturers your sense of waste is different.

So here are my completed blocks to date.

I'm using a group of fabrics that I've had for quite a while (5 years or more). I bought them from a few different ranges in a color palette I'm usually not attracted to (mutated pinks, browns, yellows, orange and reds...). But I liked the prints and the overall look of the fabrics when grouped together so I figured they would make a nice quilt - eventually. When this Craftsy BoM came up I didn't want to purpose buy fabric for it so I started digging around in my stash and found these all packaged away together. Perfect.

I'm going to start Aprils blocks sometime today. I hear from the Craftsy blog it's hexagons and hand piecing. I LOVE to hand piece though I've never created hexagons so I'm looking forward to this month. I like getting a break from both my sewing machine and my sewing room. Hand piecing lets me take my project on the go, like out to the patio to enjoy the sunshine and breeze while drinking sweet tea. And it slows down the pace. When I move myself away from the sewing machine I naturally change my rhythm and breath more without feeling the need for speed. Yes, April is going to be a good Craftsy month I think.

Oh and Happy Easter!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 2, 2012

Always Thinking....

I’ve been in a bit of a quilting slump this past week.  Though I have plenty of projects to keep me busy I haven’t spent much time in my sewing room.  This happens to me once in a while.

But, even though I haven’t done any actual sewing/quilting/piecing, I have been THINKING about it – does that count?  And here’s what I’ve been thinking:

  •  There are at least five ideas floating around in my head that need to get out and on paper/iPad.  I’ve been playing with some ideas through a fantastic app called Paper.  My husband is a genius at planning and symmetry and usually if I mention an idea to him he’s great at helping me to conceptualize it and put it on paper (even if it’s not on actual paper but instead in Paper.....).  As I’m a mad patriotic red, white, and blue fan, I’m planning another patriotic quilt with a very modern look.  I’m hopeful what is in my head will make it successfully to paper to be paper pieced.
  • I have two beautifully hand pieced projects languishing in my storage close that need to get assembled into a top and quilted.  You would think since I went through all the time of effort in hand piecing these blocks I would be anxious to actually get them together as a quilt.  Go figure.
  • I’ve been pondering how I can take the loads of very traditional, Civil War style fabric that I have mountains of and give them a modern twist in upcoming projects.  Though I love all the fabrics and love them in a traditional block setting, I want to experiment in taking the traditional into the modern.  Much of what I see in the modern quilt movement achieves its non-traditional look through color and contemporary fabric choice.  I want to try and achieve an overall modern feeling piece using a generous amount of reproduction fabrics.  This has my brain working in overload.
So, stay turned for what I eventually come up with.  And I’ll post pics soon of works in progress.