Thursday, February 28, 2013

More Blocks, and Shopping Time!

Yesterday I pieced three more blocks, and here's where we are:

I made a change in the cutting/piecing.  I had originally drafted the frame with a triangle piece at the corner like this:

I thought this would be easier to piece than a set in seam.  I don't know why, because I've done set in seams before.  Anyway, this triangle was a pain to piece accurately, and of course required cutting eight more pieces per block.  So I decided to try cutting the side in one long piece and making a mitered corner with a set in seam, like this:

It wasn't harder really.  Fewer pieces equals less cutting, fewer seams, less bulk.  I've still got the placement of that muslin triangle and the angle of the roof shaped piece though.  Now if I can just figure out exactly how to do that right the first time, every time...

Now the fun part:  I don't have enough blue fabric that reads as fairly solid in that lighter value, so I'm going to have to go buy some.  I also need to decide how much pattern can go in those pieces without losing the effect I want.  Too solid is boring, but too much pattern would be distracting.  So I've been auditioning the fabrics I have before heading out to the quilt shop.

I'm not sure about the one on the far right.  What do you think?  Decisions are tough.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Block!

Sometimes you've just gotta make a decision and do it!  I stewed and fretted about fabric and color choices for setting the World's Ugliest Blocks, but decided that one color, two values, scrappy was going to be the way it would be.  Two main reasons led to this decision:  I have lots of blue fabric, and I hope that one color will calm the wild voices of those multi-colored prints.  In addition, my husband actually ventured an opinion:  "I see lots of blue."  If it's that obvious, then why fight it?

Here's the draft of the frame I drew for the block:

It's not hard to piece, although lining up the parallelograms with the triangles takes some fiddling.  The cutting was tricky.  I never rotary cut a parallelogram before, and realized I didn't know how.  I dug out an old book called Measure the Possibilities with Omnigrid by Nancy Johnson-Srebro, and there it was.  The procedure is not at all intuitive, at least not to me.

The big surprise was realizing that you have to add 3/4 inch seam allowance to the finished length instead of 1/2. Also there is a right and left hand to a parallelogram, and since the dark and light have to be placed consistently, I'm sure there will be ripping. And swearing.  

Still, for now I'm pretty pleased.  I love the way the white triangles change the shape of the block.  More cutting tomorrow.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

An Idea, Maybe

After lots of tinkering with Quilt-Pro, I came up with this possible layout, done in grey scale.  I scrapped the alternate block plan, and instead framed the original blocks, using an idea from Sharyn Craig's Great Sets, and set them diagonally. When the frame is colored in  two values, this three- dimensional effect appears.  (I can't remove the patch lines, so the effect might be stronger if you squint so they disappear.)

This is all very tentative.  I don't want to overpower the original blocks, and this design is quite strong.  Also, I have no idea about the colors, and even more importantly, I don't know whether it would require only two fabrics to be sure the values stayed consistent, or whether I could go scrappy.  Scrappy would probably lose some of the 3-D effect as values changed.  Would that be good or bad?  Also would the framing pieces need to be two values of one color throughout, blue for instance, or could each X design be a different color?  Since the original block is multicolor,  I'm thinking one color, but I'm not sure.

Part of the decision is related to available fabric.  If I keep the same fabrics throughout, I'll have to buy fabric.  I don't want to, because I already have too much.  A dilemma!

So I guess I'm at the auditioning fabric stage.  It's fun to think out loud, so to speak.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Something Old, Something New?

I inherited thirty of these blocks from my mother-in-law.  I really don't know whether she made them herself, or whether she also inherited them from another quilter at her retirement home. They've been stored in my closet for 25 years, because, to put it in the nicest terms, they were never my taste.  But now that I've enjoyed creating settings for my orphan blocks, I thought I'd give these a try.  Can I make something I like out of something I'm not crazy about?

The block is apparently called Sunflower, but the multicolored fabric selection has created something that looks more like a pinwheel.  The fabrics are 1970's calicos, I think.  I find I like both the block and the fabric more than I did years ago:  there is more movement in the block than I used to think, and while the fabric patterns look very dated, the colors don't.  That bright aqua is very trendy, for example.

I also have quite a bit of respect for the maker.  The design was pieced and then hand appliqued to the muslin.  Interestingly, she used dark brown thread.  It seems like an odd choice, but it works.  There are no stitches visible at all on the right side.

The blocks are currently about 13 1/2 inches, but I will trim them to finish at 12 inches.  It's good that there is a bit of extra, because the placement of the pieces is not entirely even.

My goal for this project will be to keep the vintage charm, and yet give it a slightly up-dated look.  I can emphasize any color I choose: there's lots of red, but the yellow and the aqua pop as accents.  I'm thinking about an alternate block design, which will make the quilt larger than the twin size it would be with simple sashes.

I do have some of the original fabric which I can incorporate, but I'm not too sure about that.  Too much, probably.  There's also lots of muslin intended for borders; that is a definite no!

One question:  Should I cut away the muslin from behind the applique?  If I'm going to do that, I should do it before squaring the block.  What do you think?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Another Orphan

Here's my second quilt created from blocks just lying around.  I started with the five pieced blocks, three of the small maple leaf blocks, and some of the brown and ivory strips I put in the sashes.  I pieced the nine patches and more strips.  

It would have been much easier to make a solid blue border, but since I didn't have a large enough piece of blue, the piano key border was the solution.  This is unquilted, making two of these projects to quilt.  I will do the quilting, reluctantly, but I think my next new project will be to see what I can do with some hand applique sunflower blocks I inherited from my mother-in-law.  Stay tuned.

Meantime, I'm packing up my elephant joke quilt to send to the Lancaster AQS show.  If anyone is going to that show, I hope you'll stop by and say hello to it.  I wish I could go, but it won't happen.