Friday, August 23, 2019

Portable Project - English Paper Piecing Flowers

I've been craving a hand sewing project to work on while I watch TV and to take with me when I travel.  I was torn between several very appealing English paper piecing designs and finally settled on Flowers for Emma, designed by Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life.  I downloaded the pattern from her Etsy store

My flower centers will be this tone-on-tone yellow from my stash.  It's from a 3 Sisters collection by Moda, but one of their early collections, at least 10 years old. Once again, good to be using something from my stash.  The hexagons can be cut from 2.5" strips and having the hexagon template (1" sides finished) makes the cutting easy, though you can cut hexies by using the 60 degree lines marked on  your regular cutting ruler.  The template I'm using was $6 from Paper Pieces.  My plan is to hand stitch the flowers then applique them to the background but undecided yet whether I will do that by hand or machine. 

One of the attractions of this pattern to me was that I could see being able to finish it in a year or two, as opposed to the lifetime project that a traditional grandmother's flower garden quilt would become.  I enjoy EPP but it does take a long time to finish.  I enjoyed working on my La Passacaglia quilt (aka Rondeau) but it took me about two years and is only wall hanging size. 

When I get some of the flowers made, I can begin piecing the backgrounds and appliqueing as I go, giving me some easy machine work for times when I want that.  I'm pretty excited about this quilt!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Log Cabin Quilt Block Settings

I've been making slow but steady progress on the log cabin blocks and now have 64 finished blocks.  Since they finish at 10" square, that will make a quilt 80" by 80" which I think will work on a full size/double bed. 

I need to decide on a setting so I can begin the joining up process.  I have two alternatives under consideration.  This setting is called Sunshine & Shadows...  

and this next is called Fields & Furrows (or Streak of Lightening).  I'm leaning towards this second setting because I've never used it before. 

(Please excuse poor quality of the photos.  I laid the blocks out on the 
"design bed" and had to take the pictures holding the camera over my head.)

I've used the Barn Raising setting for my earlier log cabin block quilts, like Brownstone (made in 2014)...

 and Christmas Cabin, one of early quilts.

I found some good information on alternative settings for log cabin blocks on this site; the illustrations are very useful to help ensure I get the blocks laid out properly.

Another decision I need to make concerns the backing fabric.  I have some regular quilting cotton in the stash that I can use but am also thinking about using Minky or Cuddle, those super-soft plush fabrics.  I've never used it as quilt backing before but have seen quilts made with it.  Do you have any advice for using it?

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Summer Reading

I've been reading a lot lately, both to inspire my quilting projects (Love Patchwork & Quilting magazines from Fat Quarter Shop and American Quilter from the newstand at my local Barnes & Noble store)...

...and just because I enjoy reading. 

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood was one of Reese Witherspoon's monthly selections and I found it very enjoyable.  Susan, 45 years old and a bit of a loner with a prickly personality, has to suddenly deal with an unplanned pregnancy, the death of her mother, and a feud with her brother.  The story is how she navigates all this and comes out happier at the end of it. 

Mysteries are my genre of choice but my favorite authors aren't writing fast enough to keep me supplied so over the past year I've tried some newer authors in the hopes of finding some good material.  I have three to recommend!

Dervla McTiernan, author of The Ruin and The Scholar , books set in Galway, Ireland.  Irish police detective Cormac Reilly had just moved from Dublin to Galway, where of course he encounters murder and mayhem (and maybe police corruption?).  These are new favorites for me and I'm eagerly awaiting The Good Turn, to be published in March, 2020.

Cara Hunter writes the DI Adam Fawley series (three books so far); they take place in Oxford, England.  I like the way the author incorporates social media posts and comments into the traditional narrative.  I'm really enjoying this series. Number 4 is due out in December.

Sarah Ward's series is set in a small town in Derbyshire, England, with police detectives Francis Sadler and Connie Childs.  Again, only a few books so far.  The plots often involve an event from the past that has influenced the present with deadly consequences. 

I've been able to get most of these books from my public library, augmented with a few Kindle purchases.

Another new-to-me author is Donna Leon.  Clearly, I've been under a rock or something because she's been writing for ages and has a backlist of 28 books!  This like hitting the reading jackpot!  The stories are set in Venice, Italy, which we are planning to visit next spring, making the find even better. 

Back soon with more quilting.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Making A Quilt From Stash

While I mull over what to make with my Chantilly fat quarters, I started making log cabin blocks from fabric in my stash.

I'm using the block from the Thimble Blossoms quilt called Sweet Escape, though I may go with a different setting.  The blocks finish at 10" square, with each log 1" wide.

All the fabric (except the aqua used on the "light" side) is from my stash, mostly leftovers from these two quilts, Celebration made in 2017...

...and Scrappy Stars made in 2015.

For the white on the "light" side, I'm using a tiny white floral tone-on-tone because I had that in my stash as well.  While trying to put the Chantilly fat quarters and some other recent fabric purchases away in my fabric closet, I found space was very tight.  Fabric is a huge temptation for me; I'm like a kid at a buffet where my eyes are bigger than my stomach, or in the this case, my attraction to new fabrics exceeds the time I have to make anything with it.  So I'm trying to whittle down the stash a bit before I expose myself to further temptation. 

The size of this log cabin quilt will be determined by the number of blocks I can make from my stash pull.  I have two other stash projects in mind, one to use my pale florals and another using Christmas prints.  And I'm planning another quilt in my Fig Tree Harvest series, to use the leftovers from my previous quilts.  I'd like to make a Jack's Chain quilt (examples on my Pinterest board) and am looking for directions for this block or a pattern.  Please let me know if you are aware of one.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Fig Tree Chantilly - What To Make?

A couple of weeks ago, my local quilt shop, Pennington Quilt Works, had a grand re-opening celebration to show off their expanded store (they are in a shopping center and annexed the empty storefront next door).  They showed off their new space and class samples and I was the lucky winner of one of the door prizes - a fat quarter stack of Chantilly by Fig Tree, a pattern on a postcard, and a Moda zipper pouch (will be handy to hold binding clips).  Thank you, PQW!

I like the Chantilly fabric line - it is the typical Fig Tree florals but the colors are paler shades than usual.  I am  considering using it to make Hexie Garden by Atkinson Designs but I need to identify a solid color to use in place of the dark triangles around the flower centers.  I've seen this pattern made up in bright colors with black which was really stunning but I think black would be too harsh with the pale shades in the Chantilly line.

My alternative is to go with either the Odile Stars pattern by Planted Seed Designs or the new Fig Tree pattern called Twinkle.  The pattern for Twinkle calls for 1/3 yard cuts but each makes two blocks so I think I could get a block of out each fat quarter. 

Decisions, decisions...

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Friday, June 7, 2019

My Log Cabin Big Bag by AnnaStudiokr

You may remember from my last post that I was making tiny courthouse steps blocks.  I finished them and they have become the Log Cabin Big Bag by AnnaStudioskr. 

It is a B-I-G bag, the base is 19 by 7.5 inches and the sides are 13 inches high so it will hold a lot!

The courthouse steps blocks are sewn together to make a panel, along with a strip of framed square blocks for each side of the bag. 

The pieces are small, the logs are only 1/2 inch wide finished.

With scant 1/4" seams, the wrong side looks like this, with the seam allowances nearly butting up against each other.  I pressed the seams open to reduce the bulk and avoid ridges; it lies very flat. 

Here's a side view.  I used a jelly roll from Island Batiks in a colorway called Ocean Mist.  When combined with the solid black trim, it has all the colors found in my wardrobe so should coordinate with just about any outfit I wear. 

I lined it with a light blue batik print. 

Here's another beauty shot (I took a lot of pictures!).  I don't recall how I became aware of Anna Studios but I began following her Instagram where she posts photos of the bags she makes (and her photography is much better than mine).   A short time ago, she began selling her patterns, kits, and bag straps on Etsy so I bought the pattern and a set of black leather bag handles so I could make my own version.

The pattern has a lot of pictures but you need to know the basics of piecing and bag making as she does not explain those techniques.  The pattern also does not indicate how much fabric you need.  I used a jelly roll to piece the outer part of the bag, but used only about 3/4 of the strips.  You could piece this from fat quarters, fat eighths, or scraps.  I bought a yard of fabric for the lining, which was just right, and 3/4 yard of solid black fabric for the bag bottom, center square in each block, and binding at the top edge of the bag.  I have some left over but this length allowed me to cut the binding on the bias.  If you use straight cut binding, a 1/2 yard of fabric will suffice.  I used Soft & Stable in place of batting and added Peltex (heavy interfacing) to the bottom in place of the plastic mat the pattern calls for.  The bottom of the bag is pretty rigid. 

The pattern directions have you hand sew the sides and bottom of the bag together but I was afraid my hand sewing wouldn't be sturdy enough so I changed the construction so I could sew the top and bottom on the sewing machine.  I used used solid black fabric for the outer bottom, quilted to Soft & Stable, then I put a layer of Peltex between that and the light blue lining fabric. 

I'm very happy with how my Big Bag came out and I would make another of her patterns except I don't need another tote bag.  Well, maybe next year...

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Making Courthouse Steps Blocks

For several days, I've been occupied with making tiny Courthouse Steps blocks.  These blocks finish at 4.5" square, with each "step" a half inch wide. There are 17 pieces in each block, so lots of opportunities for things to go wonky.  I'm taking my time in an effort to piece accurately.  So far, so good, and I've only had to "un-sew" a couple of times. 

The fabric is from a jelly roll I've had in my stash for a few years.  It is batik fabric is shades of blue, green, and turquoise, with a little purple thrown in.  The center of each block is solid black (Kona black).

More on my plan for these little blocks in my next post.

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