Sunday, March 30, 2014

Size Matters

After I had laid out all of the HST blocks for the baby quilt it was looking a little on the small size (I don't like a skimpy quilt), so I cut 12 more sets of blocks (48 in total) and added 2 rows to both the side and the bottom. I want the width to be closer to 40" and right now, before any seam allowances, it measures less than 38".

I've been using the 4-at-a-time method for making my HST blocks and love it - they are done in no time. Starting with a pair of 6" blocks, just sew a 1/4" seam around all 4 edges. Some people pivot at the corner but it's faster just to sew from one edge to the other.

After you press the seams to set them just cut diagonally across the block in both directions. Ta da - 4 HSTs.

The extra stitching gets cut off when you trim the corners.

Time to get the rows put together....M

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pineapple Tidbits How To

Here's a bit more elaborate description of how to make the Pineapple Tidbits that I talked about last time - you know, that project from 1996...The technique is called under pressed foundation piecing.

Cut  8 1/2" blocks of flannelette. Trace the block onto tracing paper with a transfer pencil being careful to keep the pencil point fairly fine.

#QuiltBee: Pineapple Tidbits quilt tutorial
With the pencil side face down on the flannelette, iron the pattern onto the blocks being careful not to shift the pattern as you go.

For assembling the blocks it helps to have a light table because you are placing the pieces on the unmarked side of the block and sewing on the lines marked on the other side, so you need to ensure proper coverage; I've just been holding my blocks up to the lamp to position them and it works fine.

#QuiltBee: Pineapple Tidbits quilt tutorial
Each block begins with a red square and then you apply 4 light and then 4 dark strips in alternating rows, pressing and trimming the points and allowances to 1/4" as you go. It's easier if you add 2 strips opposite each other rather than trying to do all 4 at one time. This is the last two pieces of the second (dark) round; those 4 points will be trimmed even with the seam allowance.

I precut my strips ahead of time and file them in zip lock bags in a shoe box so that I can pull a full set of strips at one time. 

Light colours are in 2", 2 1/2", 3 1/4", and 4" lengths; dark colours are 2 1/2", 3 1/4", 4", and 4 1/2" lengths.

#QuiltBee: Pineapple Tidbits quilt tutorial
When you get to the last round the corner pieces are a little bit chunkier - 2"x 3" blocks rather than 1 1/2" strips.

#QuiltBee: Pineapple Tidbits quilt tutorial
Once it's all together, trim to a 7 1/2" block and then zig zag the edges to keep everyone in their place until the blocks are joined together.

I think I've got between 35 and 40 blocks together now; this one will be for the sofa so it will soon be ready to start assembling. Because it will be more of a throw than a full quilt I think I'll back it with flannel....M

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Of Bags and Boxes

Casting my eye around the sewing room for fabrics and a potential new project or two has found me digging into more 'archives' and returning to yet more projects long forgotten, like this Pineapple Tidbits. This is one that my sister Frances and I learned how to make years ago -1996 to be exact (more carbon dating!). I remember coming across it in the window of a little quilt shop near my brother/sister-in-law's apartment (they lived above a great toy store) in the north end of Toronto and just falling in love with it. I was even happier when I figured out that they were offering a class.

A true scrap quilt, we all had to bring dark and light strips for a fabric trade to create maximum variety and advised that 'you will surrender control of colour and let fate and the fabrics take over, including some fabrics that you might not ordinarily choose - uglies, muddies, plaids, stripes, geometrics, large scale florals and tiny calicos.' The only thing we were to avoid was florescent, white or very light fabrics.

It is made using a technique called under pressed foundation piecing - transferring the pattern to flannelette blocks and then sewing the strips to the pattern.

Two very cool things happen in the process - all of the uglies meld together when you tea dye the finished quilt top giving it a lovely, aged feel and making it look like your fabrics are anything but 'uglies'. Then you dry it in the dryer, giving it the 'quilted' finish as the flannelette shrinks a bit. No quilting required. Sounds a little odd but it works wonderfully. It's then tied to the backing with Perle cotton and it's finished.

It sounds more complicated than it is and I think a few photos would help explain it better, so the next time I'll try and illustrate the process for you. In the meantime, those bags and boxes seem to be destined to be emptied, or at least moved along a little bit....M

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Minnie's Closeup

Another pile of diamonds are now pieced for Minnie, and, since quilting is all about the fabric, I thought it might be fun to give you a few close-ups of the recent combinations.

This latest selection has a few new fabrics, including this rich gold, which I just love. I think or two of the one of the larger diamonds will get done in it as well.

They are all the same, but all different at the same time.

With 12 in this latest batch I have enough to create 3 more large diamonds. Love the green with the blue flowers in this one too.

I'm trying to get a good mix of fabrics before I make too many more of the larger diamonds. I've got another 8 paired up and ready to stitch so the pile of blocks continues to build....M

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quiet Time

In the spirit of 'finish it up' that I've been working to lately I've been concentrating more and more on getting Confetti quilted.

The living room is brighter to work in for much of the day and there's a comfy slipper chair there too, so I moved the hoop into that room and have been picking it up much more regularly than when it was in the study (no TV to distract me either).

It's by no means finished yet but I'm making very good progress and hope to have the bulk of it done this winter. Borders might take me into next winter, but I'm finally starting to feel that the end is in sight.

All this time with needle and thread has given me time to consider the border pattern. I want a design that is fairly linear so that I can mark it with painter's tape and avoid having to draw anything. I've got two options that I'm mulling about now and like both of them.

It's still a slow process because I do one stitch at a time - for whatever reason, despite have very strong fingers I haven't been able to master a running stitch yet - but it is progress, and a very pleasant way to sneak in 15 - 20 minutes of stitching....M

Saturday, March 08, 2014

A New Quilt

Betty has found a spectacular new quilt to work on while sorting through magazine's at the cottage a couple of weekends ago - lots of great plaids and neutrals and what looks like grey linen too. Love it! By the sounds of it, so does Jane and she has plans to add it to her list.

It reminds me in some ways of a Kaffe pattern that Anne made several years ago. The hits of colour in the corners just makes it for me.

Betty came across a box of old Vyella men's shirts that we found after mom died, which will not only make for great fabrics but a lovely memento as well. Itching to start cutting, she wasted no time giving them a wash hanging them out to air so the fun could begin.

I'm thinking that since I've finished off a few projects lately maybe it's time to start pondering a version of this...

Or maybe I should finish up something else, like maybe my Stars All Around table runners - they are all finished except for the quilting. Guess it doesn't have to be either or....M

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

An Early Spring

Spring  Garden quilt
With so many of us weary of this long, long, cold winter, thoughts of an early Spring are hard to resist. It looks like March will continue to be cold, so I took matters into my own hands and put the last of the borders on Spring Garden. Hopefully that will help convince Mother Nature to move things on a bit. BTW, that's another one off the chair!

Because there was some ripping required to make the corners work I had to wait until I was in mood (read 'patient') before sitting down to this one again.

The white border is done in a tone on tone - it's subtle but almost lacey when you look at it. Here it is against the light so that you can see the difference between the border and the white used throughout the centre panel.

Spring Garden quilt - 9 patches & square in a square
I'm really happy with it, primarily because it is a happy little quilt (actually, not so little anymore...).

There was just enough of the blue floral for a 6" border and I'm thinking that I'll pick up on the green in the print for a backing and binding, probably two different prints.

So, early as it is, happy Spring! Here's a few bright tulips to help you imagine that it really is on its way....M

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Not The Weekend I Had Planned

Last weekend was to be spent with friends at Jane's cottage quilting and catching up but an unexpected early morning  trip to the Emergency ward landed me in hospital for 4 days, which meant that I missed all of the fun. Thankfully the gals went ahead with their plans and have sent through a few pics of the fun that they had for me to share, not the least of which is Jane's finished top made from men's shirting and vintage sheets.

She had been working on the saw tooth border and finished attaching it so now it is ready to quilt. Just beautiful. She may hand quilt this one with perle cotton, which I think would be lovely.

Such a bright and cheery quilt, no wonder she calls it Summer Picnic.

Betty was a real commando too, working on a few projects. This bag was for Jane. It was her birthday on Monday so Betty was able to get some design input (things like adding a pocket) as she worked.

Isn't it great? It is lined with the same fabric that was used for the side panel - a beautiful large graphic floral print that just makes you feel good when you look at it. Apparently the birthday girl was quite happy with her prezzie....M