Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WWI Block of the Month - August - Winged Square

When I first saw this block I thought it was interesting, pretty, happily not too challenging.  But that was because I was looking at the thumbnail of the block  in the designers quilt. She used figured prints in the checkerboard element and I thought those 4 areas were each just one block of fabric -

-- whereas they are actually pieced of 72 little 1/2 inch (finished) squares. I know I could have strip-pieced, but I have found when piecing 1 inch squares, I'm more accurate if I cut the little squares and piece them individually, so that's what I did. 

I am really crazy about the look of Vicki Welsh's blue and red shibori!  The four squares and 1-inch strips are all from one piece of fabric that is mostly red with some blue - I cut my pieces from the blue areas. She also died the oh-so-pretty light blue center (which is also in the checkerboards.) 

This is not the first block where I switched the orientation when I added the applique. It's more common to find the long strips top and bottom, as I have them here. The designer put the long strips on the sides.  I don't guess it matters: when you set the block into the quilt it's a square either way, and it will be quilted as one continuous background.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Austen Family Album Block 20 - Best Friends

My block is not flat so the edges look pretty strange -

This block is just a bear's paw with the four patch in the paws and the proportions changed a bit for easier cutting in an 8 or 12 inch block (my block is 9 inches, so the small squares are 1 1/8th inch). It was fun to play with the lights and darks in the four patches to see how it changed the look of the block.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Three blocks for the Austen Family Album

I was working on the Birthday Banner for the couple of weeks before my Dad's 90th Birthday party, and got behind on this set of blocks.  Finally got two of them finished yesterday in time for today's installment.  Here they are - Water Wheel

Indian Star

and Cross Patch

My readers have asked if I know how I'm going to set this sampler:  no!  I had the collection of periwinkle fabrics for a scrappy Ocean Waves quilt and knew most of the pieces were too large to use up in that quilt, so I decided to make this one so I could have fun playing with the prints in different way.  (For the Ocean Waves, I'm not doing any of the fussy cutting I sometimes do with these blocks although some of my fabrics lend themselves to it beautifully.)  I'll figure the setting for this quilt out when we get closer to completing the series.

Another comment mentioned my lower level of enthusiasm with this set of blocks: I am enjoying making the blocks, but the stories behind the particular selection from week to week are not very interesting to me.  I've read some Jane Austen books because they were there, but I'm not a big fan, and although our leader, Barbara Brackman has done her usual research and has delightful illustrations to accompany the stories, the family relations themselves are not nearly as compelling as the stories she has told from the Civil War or the fight for equal rights for women.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Birthday Banner

When my sister planned my Dad's 90th birthday party, and my sister-in-law and her husband agreed to come and provide the food (pictures at http://cherylandnorris.blogspot.com/2014/08/dads-90th-birthday-celebrated-with-lots.html ) I started to feel pretty bad - what was I doing for the party?

Since I am a far better quilter than cook I followed a model set by Dorry, and made a celebratory banner.

That above photo taken during set up doesn't show the banner's details so here are a few photos I took while working on it.

Each background piece was cut 8x8.5 inches. The font is sized so the largest letters fit with a good margin.  I fused the letters in place, edged them in a tiny buttonhole stitch, then rounded the lower corners with a template.  The two spaces in the message were filled with pennants - one has a trombone while the other is a print Dorry gave me of New Zealand postage stamps because Dad has collected stamps his whole life.

The letters were quilted on wool batting on a single piece of backing (Thank you Sherrye those glittery daisies were perfect for this application!)  The variety of dense quilting fills I used made the letters stand out in 3-D.

I took this next  photo for Joyce before I had the binding on so she could see she would have no trouble coordinating the party decor with my work.

I bought a handful of new fabrics to have a few very contemporary prints in the mix, but mostly I used my stash, looking for bright colors and good contrast with some masculine feel.  I selected lots of shirting stripes along with a couple of prints that reminded me of my father's pajamas.  I used shirt buttons Alice of the Mountain Jam Circle gave me to trim out the tops of the letters.

I attached the binding by machine on the front as I usually do, then wrapped it to the back and machine stitched in the ditch - which I have never done before.  You are looking at the back of one letter on the top, and the front of the one with the striped fabric. 

Attaching the binding went easily once I figured out I just had to use a lot of pins to make sure the edge stayed where my stitching could catch it.  I was having trouble picking the binding color till Flickr Friend "Pinkdeenster" weighed in - thanks for the push, the green stripe is perfect!

The hardest part of this project was working with the wild combination of colors and prints.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WWI Block of the Month - French Star and My Country

I guess I have too many "Blocks of the X" projects because I don't seem to have done a post for this series for June.

The June block was My Country - straightforward piecing. I love how when I fussy cut Vicki's deep blue shibori to highlight the whiter parts, it looks like faded denim in this block.

July was French Star. Perhaps there was another way to do this when the block was invented, but the designer of our series gave instructions for raw edge fused applique for the white curved pieces. 

I used foundation paper piecing to make the blue and red star, which was quite pretty without the white applique.  (Sherrye wondered how it was pieced - there's a square of the red in the middle, surrounded by the blue points with a small red right triangle between each pair going around the square, related to an hourglass or quarter square triangle block. The block is put together like a 9 patch around the center square.) The 8 curved applique pieces make an usual block.

I have had a couple of other projects to work on this week, so I have not yet finished the machine stitching around the 34 leaves on the French Star, but that will be done before we see the August block.  I haven't done last weekend's Austen block yet either.

Summer Sweater

I finished this sweater and have worn it but didn't get pictures taken until this week.

The original sweater was cropped - I lengthened it by just a few inches. I foolishly bought the yarn because I got an ad for a deal on it in email and it came in this nice minty green color I like. There are a lot of other things I wanted to knit first, and I prefer a finer gauge (this is worsted) but I'm happy with it anyway.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Threads of Memory - July 1864 - Oberlin Star

This block celebrates the town of Oberlin Ohio and the role of the local people in defying the Fugitive Slave Act -

The first time I made it for some inexplicable reason, I put put the tiny triangles on the inner side of that 4-way intersection - where I have the red fabric. I lost the effect of a glowing rounded square behind the star so I remade those four quarter-square triangle segments. 

I like this Ohio Star with the added detail.

I have no letters from Eli or Shepherd with Indiana's 52nd Regiment for July 1864. The Regimental History shows them moving around, spending most of July in Mississippi. Picking up where I left off  in June, it says: "Colliersville, Tenn., June 23. Near Lafayetteville June 23. Smith's Expedition to Tupelo July 5-21. About Pontotoc July 11-12. Harrisburg, near Tupelo, July 14-15. Old Town (or Tishamingo) Creek July 15."  On modern maps, I can find Collierville (no "S") outside of Memphis, and  Lafayette County in Mississippi, not far west of Pontotoc and Tupelo, but no Lafayetteville in either Tennessee or Mississippi. Tishomingo Creek is north of Tupelo.

Here is a link to a brief Wikipedia description of Smith's Expedition to Tupelo - a Union success except they almost immediately had to retreat back to Memphis because of spoiled rations.

There is no other activity noted for the 52nd until the first of August.

My Great Grandfather John and great-great uncle Billy are still with the 82nd - we left them at Kennesaw Mountain at the end of June. They continued to battle the rebels, pushing to Atlanta. On the 4th, they fought a short battle at Marietta and were given the rest of the day to celebrate the holiday. Fighting continued for the next four days at the Chattahoochee River. One of the 82nd's soldiers was wounded and another killed. Company commander Allen W. Brown wrote a letter describing the country as "the most forsaken looking that I have even seen since I have been in the Army for nobody is at home and not many ever lived here. But everything is flying south before the Yankee Army." In another letter, he tells his wife, "The boys are all well and feel very well considering the heavy march that they have made. Our Regt. lack twenty men now of being as big as Co. A and B when we left Madison. Company A and B had 200 men then and now the whole Regt. only has one hundred and 80 men now commissioned and all there is some other Regts. with less a number than us." They have full rations and their communications are safe. To reassure his wife he will not be harmed, he describes exchanges during the fighting - "We are about a quarter of a mile from the river and the river is about two hundred yards wide and the Rebels occupy the other side of the river. But the boys are on very peaceable terms and when our boys have orders to shoot, they will holler "you to your holes Jonneys" and when the Rebels have orders to shoot, they will holler "you to your holes Yanks", and the first shot fired from either side is always aimed high so as to give each party time to get into their holes." He also credits the Rebels for not giving up and says they are "not demoralized as some of the newspapers say they are... they are well organized and determined to hold their ground." 

The Army constructed a pontoon bridge to cross the river under cover of night on the 17th. They advanced to Peach Tree Creek and had to ford it, as the bridge had been burned.  It took some maneuvering, but the rebels were outnumbered and fell back with little resistance.  The press to Atlanta continued through the end of July.

This Wikimedia Commons map depicts the Union Army's advance from Chattanooga, back in May through the end of August.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Stage at the Shindig

All three of the Mountain Jam Circle members were at the Shindig on the 12th of July so the organizers let us get up on stage to show it off - Norris' camera changed the aqua/teal blues but it still makes a graphic impact on the stage.

The Folk Heritage Committee also invited us to have a "sponsor banner" - but gave us about 2-3 days to submit our design.  We quickly threw a logo together, without really realizing what the size they offered would look like from any distance -

Yeah, I know, you're not even sure where to look.  Here's some help -

Clever Alice came up with the "Stitching traditions together" that is absolutely perfect.  Well, if we do this again, we'll make the letters much larger and not concentrate on our beautiful quilt design so much!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Austen Family Album Block 16 - Lucky Pieces

A block of all triangles with many options for coloring.

 I had fun with a little shading.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Austen Family Album Week 15 - King's Crown

I like the look of this block with all the triangles, but I'd rather sew a Bear's Paw block - same configuration of little triangles around the outside, but you are spared the four seam traffic jams.

I used the solid lmedium periwinkle around the center and figure I can quilt something interesting and distracting there.