Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old Block, New Quilt

I am joining in the fun and participating in the Bloggers Quilt Festival 2010.  This is my first, so bear with me as I tiptoe along.  Here is my entry:
It is special for a number of reasons. 

Mainly, because it is finished.

I don't know about you, but whenever I finish a quilt project I have a certain satisfaction.  During the process of making the quilt it often feels like a gruelling task.   I have to push myself to continue on when I get to hurdles that require unstitching or revising my design etc.  Often the project gets stashed away into a dark corner where no one goes.  It may never come out...

So when a quilt is finished it is a cause for quiet celebration within.  It's not scaling Mt Everest, or discovering a cure for cancer, but it is solid evidence that I have persevered. 

What I have discovered is that there is no quilt that doesn't present me with problems, whether they are design,  stitching or time lines.

Another reason for this quilt being special is that I gave myself a few rules when planning it.  Simple block, on point, contrast in scale and value,  darker blocks towards the edge.  I am happy with the way it worked out.
Finally, I quilted this more quickly than usual.
It can take several years for my quilts to finish being hand quilted.  I'm always keen as mustard after they have been basted but then the long process starts to drag.

This time it was different.   I counted down every block.  It seemed to speed the quilting up that way.  The setting triangles had a different quilting design that made them more interesting.  I tried a few different designs in the border and eventually settled on something simple, reflecting the blocks.
Well, I am off to view all the other quilts in the Festival and I would advise you to do the same.  It's sure to be good!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cherry Trees Rule, OK

I have been distracted by applique this week; in particular the Beyond the Cherry Trees album quilt. This is my first completed block
For more details regarding the new group blog that Sharon has started for all those making (or just interested in) the Beyond the Cherry Trees quilt head over here.
Meanwhile, I have been tidying up my sewing patch (again) and came across this:
It is made up of a simple block, resembling the first round of a courthouse steps block.  I love scrap quilts and I have decided to cut the pieces for the blocks from each fabric left lying around the sewing patch before I put them away.
Of course, this has slowed down the tidying up process considerably, but made it more enjoyable for me.  The remainder of my sewing time is spent quilting the spiderweb quilt, now about 4/9ths completed.  Progress on basket blocks has slowly ground to a halt.  Sadly.
Well, must go and tidy the sewing patch.  Wink, wink.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prairie Points

This post should really be titled "What I Now Know about Prairie Points".  I have used them twice.  Once, last century with this which was hand appliqued and hand quilted:
and again with this recent quilt

For future reference I need to remember a few points:
1. I will always need more prairie points than expected.  My big quilt measures 56" x 76" and has 162 prairie points made from 4" squares  (approximately  0.6 prairie points/inch.  It required 1.75m (68") fabric.
    The baby quilt measures 36" x 46" and has 109 prairie points made from 3" squares (approximately 0.6 prairie points/inch.  It required a bit over 80cm (32") fabric.
     Seems like a good way to chew up fabric
But there is still plenty of this range left for more baby quilts.  This is the second one I have made from my "Sweet" fat quarter collection and here is what is left for another day:
2.  If hand quilting, put the prairie points on before doing the border or last couple of inches before the edge.  If machine quilting, it is probably best to add them prior to quilting.

3.  Don't bother doing fancy tricks at the corners as I did for the first quilt.  I thought it looked empty so I added 1/2 sized prairie points that did not really add to the quilt.

4. However, corners are important.  Line up the prairie points so that they end nicely at the corner.  This means fudge the points before the end if necessary.

5.  At corners, to keep things neat, turn the last prairie point the other way so loose corners are tucked in against the previous prairie point.

6.  Use a steam setting on the iron when pressing prairie points, particularly for the second fold.  Otherwise the point will keep springing open.  Note to self: watch out for steamed fingers.

As for the baby quilt, I used my walking foot to quilt most of it, but got adventurous with free motion quilting in one spot.  I won't point it out but I wish I had stayed with the walking foot.

This post has been full of lessons for me, not least of them how to spell prairie!  Now I am off to hand quilt where I have more control of the stitching.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Orphans from the Cupboard

When I saw Crispy's post regarding orphan blocks it immediately resonated with me.  I recalled a quilt top I had tried to put together years ago using blocks from aborted quilts:
As usual, I got too ambitious and it all came tumbling down when I decided to applique the border.  Looking back on it, I'm glad.  Tastes certainly change.  I still can't throw out the rest of my orphan blocks, even though I know I'll never use them.
Here is an update on the baby quilt I am making.  It has to be ready for November...2010.  Now it is up to sandwich and quilting stage.  I may have to do something I 've always managed to avoid - machine quilt. 
By the way, I had a lovely time in Adelaide.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Showing off

Following requests to show the whole quilt I have a mini show for you.  Here is a quilt I have partially shown in a previous blog.  I first saw it in a class with Kim McLean.
I have also been asked to show the spiderweb quilt.  Even though it is not quilted, here it is with the edges pinned, so that you can see the backing.
I have included another quilt finished in 2009.  Since this blog is intended primarily as a quilt diary, I would like to document all my quilts eventually.  We are going to Adelaide this weekend, and I am giving our hosts a quilt, both as a thankyou and as a house warming.  So this quilt is leaving home.
Finally, I have been working on a small cot quilt for a friend who is expecting her first child in November.  Since I have a bundle of fat quarters from "Sweet" by Urban Chicks for Moda, I thought  might use them.  No one knows the gender of the baby so I am hoping the quilt is not gender specific.
See you when I get back from Adelaide.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dumpster diving

  On my way home from the fabric shop I had to stop off at the hardware store.  In the large "wheelie" bin outside someone had thrown out this basket:
My fat quarter collection was teetering on its shelf and needed a new home.  This could be a possible solution.   The blue and white fabric was very grubby and wouldn't improve with soaking in lots of chemicals.  I knew where I could find some fabric for a new liner.  Half an hour later, the basket was cleaned and a new liner inserted.
Another trip to the fabric shop and a slight addition.  This would send my daughters' kitsch-o-meter into the stratosphere but I didn't care.  Now the basket is ready for a useful life again and I am off to do some real sewing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In the Hoop

At last! I decided not to blog until I had the spiderweb quilt basted and ready to quilt.
Now I have two quilts demanding quilting attention.  Nevertheless, it feels good to have this top finished.  I wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of my friend, Janet, who gave me two "Regency Dandy" fabrics I didn't have.  Thank you Janet.

One of the things I enjoy most about finishing a quilt top is putting the fabrics I have used back in general circulation.  Until the top is complete, the fabric stays in quarantine so that I don't accidentally use a piece that I later need.

Thirties fabrics are not my favourites and if you asked me a few years ago, I would have shown no interest in them.  Well, I have learned "never say never".  With few exceptions, the actual patterns still don't speak to me, but the colours of the thirties fabrics work together in a scrap quilt to create a happy, bright effect.  I'll be using more of them, which is a good thing since I have quite a few unused 1.5" strips left over.