Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Odds and Ends

I met the goal of finishing the zig zag borders. Now they must be trimmed from the last post to this.

Scary, because it's easy for the ruler to slip, and also the edges are now all bias. Then comes the really tense part of doing the math for the coping strip, sewing the borders on, hoping they fit,

As an exercise in avoidance, I sewed borders on this little block I found in my orphan blocks box, planning to send it to the Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative.

I paper pieced those narrow strip borders so that they'd be perfectly straight, and that worked out beautifully. That's a technique that would work on any small quilt. What a pain paper piecing is though! I don't get the fascination with it.

Also in the orphan box was an oak leaf shape left from another project, so I made this, also for Alz Quilts.

Now to bite the bullet and trim the other three borders!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Odds and Ends

So far, so good.

Goal for the day: finish two more zig-zag border strips, and put together a Valentine postcard. This one is off center. I have no excuse for being unproductive, my husband is out of town, and there are no current crises around here.

The new Issue of Quilter's Newsletter is a good one. I had almost given up reading it, but they keep hanging in there. The cover quilt, by the Japanese quilter, Hideko Kubota, is a beauty. It's a lovely mix of tradition and whimsy, with wonderful unexpected fabrics and color. Irene Berry's scrap quilts are beautiful, and there's a brief tutorial by Pamela Allen about making fabric portraits. I also liked the pictures from the Hands All Around Exhibit. Quilts from other countries are particularly interesting to me; they seem so much fresher and less driven by the market and current trends than American quilts do. Of course that may be just because I don't know what the hot trend is in Europe or Japan.

Last week, I sorted through some bins of non-quilt fabric and found several vintage tablecloths. I used to use these in "wearable art" clothing, but had several untouched ones, so I put them on eBay. Here's the link if anyone is interested in that sort of thing. As you will see, the bidding isn't exactly hot, and you can get a real bargain in 50's pink and grey!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Judges Report

Ghost Orchids just came back from the Road to California show with nice comments about design, execution, and machine stitching details. The comments also said, "Binding should be the same width on both sides." Where is that rule engraved on stone tablets? I made the binding wider in the back to make the quilt hang better. It's twice as wide, so the difference is obviously not a mistake. Argh!

I also received a comment that batting should fill binding. I deserve this one, I think. I know you can avoid this problem by sewing the binding on before trimming the excess binding, but it's hard to square a quilt that way. I haven't found a marking tool that really shows up well enough. Does anyone have experience with either one of these issues?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Maybe I'll Stop Here...

Finally, a layout for the red stars! My design wall is too small to hold the entire thing, so I've folded over part of the center. Just focus on the upper left-hand corner.

That little zig zag border has caused endless trouble. It's described in The Border Workbook, and isn't really difficult, just requires careful stitching and cutting (of course, I've only made this little sample). It also requires lots of math to make the border fit, especially around the corners, and this required an email to That Patchwork Place for an explanation of one section of directions. The number given made no sense to me. I got an answer in less than 12 hours, so they deserve lots of credit for that.

This was last week; in the meantime I've been toying with many other ideas for that section. This has actually been so exhausting that I feel I've finished the project! Time to stop. Seriously, I'm planning a real push to the finish line. First step is to cut lots of red and yellow squares to frame the border stars.

In non-quilting news, we have bought a new car. My husband's "winter" car gave up the ghost on our driveway Monday morning, so we have bought a new Ford Fusion. Since I am partially housebound because of weather and a car shortage, Bob has done the shopping. I took a very brief test drive last night; it was brief because a) roads were slippery, b) it was snowing, and c) it was 10 below zero. The heater, anti-lock brakes, and traction control seem fine. Other things, I don't know. We'll hope for the best. And yes, the Ford salesman seemed glad to see us.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Inspired by Debra's wonderful homeless teen quilt project, I quilted a guild charity quilt that I put together back in November. It's nothing special, but it was a chance to practice free-motion on the Janome using the push button control rather than the foot pedal. The results are very good. It's by far the best free motion quilting I've ever done. It seemed to take much longer though because I set the speed at medium and so had to move the quilt rather slowly. Usually I sew fast and drag the quilt around, trying desperately to keep up so the stitches don't get tiny. Once I got used to the slower and steady pace, I liked it.

I also invested in a bobbin case specially designed for free motion stitching. I don't know what the difference is, but this too seemed to give good results. I used Superior Bottom Line thread in the bobbin, and there are no pops and pulls at all, even though the top thread was a different color and a heavier weight. I don't know if other machines have this option, but I think it was worth the money.

I think I've come to a decision on how to proceed with the red and white stars, but have nothing to show for the mental gear clashing that has been going on. Maybe by spring--

Speaking of spring: we're having the worst winter weather here in years. Day after day of single digit temperatures, wind, and the infamous lake effect snow. A break in the weather would be good!

And finally, if you haven't looked at the Cyber Fyber Exhibition web site, be sure to do that. The postcards and ATC's are worth a bit of time for browsing, and the invited artists' work is eye-opening. I'd love to see it in reality.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Well, Duh!

Yes, you do have to include the width of the sashing strips when you figure the size of the setting triangle. If you don't you will get this weird looking yellow triangle where the block sticks over into the triangles.

If you do, the setting triangle neatly matches the end of the block.

As I was cutting the triangles, the book I was using (which I won't name) didn't mention how sashing would affect triangle size, so although I THOUGHT the triangle should be bigger, I managed to convince myself that I had done this before, kept the size the same, and it worked. It didn't.
Then I looked in Setting Solutions by Sharyn Craig, and there it is: a clear statement that you must include the sashing width, therefore cutting a bigger triangle. She has a neat little chart, telling you what size to cut, so there's no math required.

I was in denial for a while, thinking that the weird look would go when I squared up, trimmed the excess and added a border, but I finally had to face the truth, rip those triangle out, and sew in bigger ones.

Actually, this isn't as bad as it sounds. I have postponed making a decision on the next step. Still, it was pretty much a wasted day. So be warned, everyone.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Thank you everyone, for the kind words about my stars quilt. I'm mulling over the next move. I've tentatively decided to put a pieced border in a folded ribbon design in that yellow space. Even using The Border Workbook by Janet Kime, this requires some heavy math, so I'll think about it tomorrow, as Scarlett O'Hara said.

In the meantime as a break, I made a Project Linus top to send to Quiltmaker for assembling. The directions call for paper piecing, and that's the logical way to make something that different quilters work on, but since I made the entire top myself, and I hate paper piecing, I pieced it the traditional way, and that worked fine. The whole project took about 3 hours. I had intended to add a narrow blue inner border, and that would have looked better, but I totally forgot until it was too late, and this is not a project to rip.

And another report on the Janome: for putting the blocks together, I chain pieced them, using the feature that allows you to run the machine with a push-button control instead of the foot pedal. (The speed is adjustable.) I'd been skeptical of this because I thought taking hands off the fabric to push the button would be a problem, but it worked beautifully, much faster and easier than reaching for the pedal all the time. When there are pins to remove, as there were in sewing the rows together, it was a bit trickier, but still worked well. The feature is supposed to be useful for free-motion stitching, and I'm looking forward to trying that.

Friday, January 02, 2009

I'm excited! Here's the center section of the red star quilt. It seems huge to me, but will be bigger, and rather less red, I think. I have to square off, do the math to figure out how wide the narrow framing red piece will be, and then how wide the yellow strip will be, and frame all the little stars, and then plan the applique on the yellow ring.