Monday, April 30, 2012

More of the Dresdens

I did not intend to be absent for so long but everyday life interfered with quilting so I haven't made much progress on my current project, the Dresden plate quilt.  This is how it stands now:

All the blocks are attached with the sashing and 9-patch cornerstones.  I am working on a pieced border.  I'm glad I came up with this idea for a pieced border.  One of the problems with working with fabric from older collections (which basically means anything delivered to stores more than 3 or 4 months ago) is finding the yardage needed for borders and binding.  The Fig Tree fabric I am "harvesting" came from fat quarter packs and layer cakes, so when I need something for borders and binding, I have to be creative.  One option is to find a coordinating print from a current collection.  Another is to make a pieced border, using some of the fat quarters or other small pieces.  Another option is to forget adding borders entirely, which I did consider for this quilt.

But when only yardage from the original collection will do,  my resource is is a group of independent quilt shops.  The site has a search engine that allows you to search many, many shops all at one time, for that particular fabric, quilt book, quilt pattern, or notion.  You can search for fabric by manufacturer, designer, collection name, etc.  Results are displayed with thumbnail photos and you click through to site of the individual shop to place your order. 

I've found this site such a godsend!  Even if the fabric collection is two or three years old, some quilt shop somewhere will have it.  And each time I've placed an order, the service from the individual shops has been great.  I highly recommend this site the next time you are in a jam. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Sunday Outing

On Sunday, I met three quiting fiends for brunch and a mini shop hop.  We started in Mount Holly (NJ), with brunch at Robin's Nest, followed by some browsing at The Village Quilter

Mount Holly's downtown is a quaint spot to visit, with unique shops (not chain stores).  Our brunch was very good, with frequent but unobtrusive service that allowed us to chat over our meals.  Then we headed over the quilt shop, which is next to the restaurant's parking lot.  I was trying to be good, with a shopping list I planned to stick to.  The list fell by the wayside though when I saw a quilt on display.  Did they have kits?  Of course!  So one came home with me.   The label on the kit indicated the pattern was included but the pattern turns out to be a page of directions so I think I will make this soon, while the sample quilt is fresh in my mind.  So more on that in the days to come.

After The Village Quilter, we headed over to Burlington, to Olde City Quilts.  This is a large store, with a lavish fabric selection and loads of patterns.  They are also dealers for Bernina sewing machines and Gammill longarm quilting machines.  I found a couple of the items on my list, needed for upcoming projects.  I will definitely be going back here.  It is not too far from home, the selection is large, and the staff is helpful. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

On My Design Wall

Many thanks to those who left comments on my query about whether to remove the backing fabric from behind the Dresden plate after appliqueing it down.  The general concensus was that it is not necessary to remove the backing if the plan is to machine quilt.  However, Laura in IA raised a point about the weight if the backing is left in place.  This got me thinking that it would be best to treat all the blocks the same or the quilt might end up unbalanced or not drape properly.  As I had already removed the back from a couple of blocks, I continued with the rest of them.  But if/when I make another one, I will probably leave the backing fabric in place.   

My blocks are all finished, with the center circles in place. I started making the sashing on Saturday and began putting it in place with the blocks on Sunday. So far, so good. The posts will be nine-patch blocks.  The end is in sight!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In Which I Cut Out The Back

Back to the Dresden plate project.

So, my sources tell me that after you finish stitching down an applique piece, you should cut out the backing fabric behind it to reduce bulk.  Following the "rules," I dutifully cut out the backing fabric behind my Dresden plate block.

Cutting very carefully!  This is what the back of the block looks like after the back fabric has been cut away:

Ready to add the center circle.  I folded the circle in half, then half again, marking with pins, then lined up the pins with the seams to get the circle centered in the middle of the Dresden plate. 

Here's what it looks like after sewing down the center circle.  Pretty good, I think!

Now, my question:  Do you think it is really necessary to cut away the backing fabric?  I can understand the need to reduce bulk back in the days of hand quilting, and I would definitely do it if I was going to hand quilt this baby.  But it is a queen size quilt and I want to get it finished before 2027, so I will be sending it to a long-armer.  I wonder if keeping the fabric in place might make the block more stable.  What do you think?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Changing It Up

With spring having officially arrived a couple of weeks ago, I figured it was time to lighten up the decor around here.  That means some fresh tulips for the mantel and a truly spring-like quilt for the bed. 

This is Queen Anne's Lace, a quilt I made in 2005.  I was in a shabby chic phase at the time, and this quilt uses some the best prints from Paris Flea Market by 3 Sisters for Moda and Hannah Bella by Robyn Pandolph for South Seas. I still have fabric from those lines in my stash. I hope they don't look dated by the time I get around to using them as they are a couple of my all-time favorite fabric lines.   

Queen Anne's Lace was made using the half log cabin block, set on point with setting triangles in a pink floral print.   It was quilted with an all-over feathery motif.  It has been washed a few times (necessary with all the white) so has a textured look and feel. 

Welcome SPRING!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hello Sunshine - Finished!

Hello Sunshine is home from the quilter!  And with a little help from Netflix streaming, I got it bound and labeled this weekend.

The quilt is 78" square.  Here it is folded and hanging on the bannister on the landing upstairs. 

You can see more of it here, shown thrown across the bed. 

I'm very happy with the way it came out.  My quilter, Karen Thompson, used a floral vine edge-to-edge design for the quilting, which perfectly matches the quilt's sunny personality. 

Hello Sunshine is the first finish from my Project Fig Tree Harvest.  I used fabrics from several fat quarter packs I had on hand, mainly Buttercup, Strawberry Fields, and Fresh Cottons.  The background is Kona Snow.  The pattern is Changes, from Cotton Charm Quilts Inc.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Design Inspiration

Over the past week, a few items have come my way and inspired thoughts of future quilts!

First, I came across this pattern by Carolyn Friedlander, called Sessoms.  The cover quilt is made with Kaffe Fassett prints.  I have a bag of Kaffe fat quarters and this may be just the project for them.  I bought my copy of the pattern at Pink Chalk Fabrics.  I appreciate that they don't charge to ship patterns.

Next, delivered my copy of Pretty Patchwork Quilts, by Cyndi Walker.  The designs are fairly traditional, livened up by the fabric choices (mostly scrappy) and applique accents.  I've put a couple of the projects on "my list."

This pattern, Shooting Stars, is great for fat quarters and does not require border fabric. 

I like Tilted Spools even better.  I plan to make this as a wall hanging for my "studio."

This month's McCall's Quilting (May/June 2012) is full of possibilities.  The ever-prolific Gerri Robinson has a pattern featured that uses stars while another frequent contributor, Lynn Lister, has a patriotic sawtooth star design in the issue.  This issue is worth adding to your collection.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Been Too Long

I had a very busy week last week, with not enough time to quilt let alone blog about it.  But I got caught up over the weekend. 

I have almost all of the Dresden plates appliqued to the background squares.  Adding the center circles will be next.

If you have been thinking about giving applique a try, this block is the perfect project.  The edges are already turned under so you don't have to mull through the starch versus needleturn versus whatever method.  And all the edges are straight, no curves to be concerned with.  I've improved my stitch quite a bit plus am a master at inner and outer corners now. 

I decided to give these things called Thimble Pads a try and I really like them. 

Up to now, my thimble of choice has been the Coin Thimble from Clover. This is leather thimble with a metal insert on the finger pad.  This thimble works well for me except they stretch with use and I don't get much use out of one before it gets too big to stay on my finger.  I've tried wetting them to get them to shrink but with limited success.  So when I saw these Thimble Pads, I decided to give them a try.  It is a little round disk of protective material with an adhesive backing.  They stick to your finger (and it sticks very well but still comes off when you want to remove it).  Moreover, they are so comfortable!  I consider them quite a find and will definitely be buying more!