Saturday, August 27, 2011

Star of the West - Week 35

This was a nice straightforward block to fit into our 8 inch finished size. I had to enhance the lighting on this photo - it is just rather gloomy out there with the big storm right on top of North Carolina's shore. We've had no rain at all, just intermittent, mildly gusty winds.

The whirlwind look of this block seems appropriate for the day.

I'd been wanting to see if I could get this red paisley to look a little nicer in a block since it was not so successful in the Lily a few weeks ago. This is a happier group of fabrics than that was.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week 34

This week's block is one that celebrates a Confederate Spy. If that weren't bad enough, it's the Rosebud block, one of my least-liked traditional quilt blocks.

But, I embarked on this project, so, I had to make the block, and somehow, had to find a way to make it mine.

I noted that Ms. Brackman changed the usual placement of colors and values. The way this block is typically colored is something like this, with perhaps green instead of the blue I chose for this illustration, and pink or red triangles to make the "buds":

I decided to use two of my larger-scaled florals, and changed the values of the small triangles even from what Ms. Brackman recommended, to emphasize the pinwheel shape.

It's still sort of a "rosebud" in concept but much more to my liking this way, where I'm not trying to represent a beautiful flower in half-square triangles.

I used EQ to experiment with values and then used the rotary cutting directions provided there. I have a preference set in EQ to use 16ths of an inch. These directions recommended cutting the small triangles from 2 3/16th inch squares instead of 2 1/8th. I definitely needed the extra 1/16th of an inch to make this come out to size.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A small project

I had three nine-patch blocks leftover from a baby quilt I made many years ago. I also had leftover pieces of the purple gingham and pale green print I made the blocks from. Since I had more of the gingham than the green, I reversed the color scheme for most of the additional blocks to have enough for a little baby quilt. Blocks using the original color scheme are in the four corners for symmetry.

I had to piece some strips of both the green and the purple to get enough pieces big enough to complete all the blocks - the resulting squares are commonly called "poverty patches". The bright green backing is an alphabet print. This was another "leaders and enders" project - made one seam at a time when I was working on other things, so it's been hanging around on the studio design wall since late Spring.

The quilt has a lot of blue chalk on it from marking the border for even quilting, so I need to wash it, then it will wait until there's a baby who needs a quilt. I have other baby fabrics to use that have been taking up space in my fabric drawers for a few years - it's nice to have this one finished.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Moving into Winter

...with my knitting that is, now that this little cotton sweater is done -

I was not sure I was going to like it when I tried it on before blocking....

because the yarn is thick with a lot of body - but blocking corrected some of the shaping issues. I'll wear it to my knitting group tonight and see if the stretchy element in the mostly cotton yarn will hold the shape I got it into.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week 33 Indiana Puzzle

This is one of those blocks that would look better in a whole quilt with just this block.

I enjoyed piecing the curves - this was much easier than my New from Old challenge quilt just finished.

Friday, August 12, 2011

All but the name

My June Bride Challenge is all wrapped up, except for the name.

I love the suede-like appearance of Diane's hand-dyed electric blue cotton fabric behind the vintage fabrics of the Dresden plate.

I took a few pictures at different angles, trying to get it so the quilting and fabrics show better.

Most of these photos were taken outdoors in sun - here's a closer in shot, at an angle. The corner design is inspired by an Art Nouveau graphic from a Dover book. Maybe I could have found an Art Deco design to better match the 1930's fabrics, but then, this is a New from Old Challenge, not a Historically Accurate Reproduction Challenge. Quilters didn't use much really dense quilting like this in the 1930's. (Click on any photo to enlarge for details.)

This next one shows the busy backing where the quilting will never show. The edges are faced because the curves of the wedge shaped pieces are pretty tight - I was not going to attempt a binding! If I ever do a complicated edge like this again, I'll probably make sure the curves are a lot larger. This border was a particular challenge for me, and one of the reasons for participating in a project like this.

This next picture was taken with the quilt on the floor inside the front door so the light is coming from one side. Maybe you can finally see the quilting on the original vintage pieced Dresden plate.

The name is probably going to be related to a waltz, because there are three fan blades in each group, and the silk I dyed myself shows up as four triangles per side. Dorry's name for the challenge is June Bride, and that will also appear on the label.

It's always a little sad to finish up something as fun as this was to work on. I hope I get to do another project like this some day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Civil War Week 32

This week's block was probably my least favorite of all so far. Ms. Brackman started with the idea of a Carolina Lily block, then, to make it more doable at 8 inches, substituted a simpler version with only one blossom. I was not inspired.

As I did with the basket block (Week 13), I have used photo editing software to place the block On Point. It doesn't improve it a bit.

I also don't like making these blocks based on some other grid in an 8 inch square. This one could have been simplified so the flower part was one grid, and the large background rectangles and silly triangle base to the "pot" was another. Too bad I didn't think of that before I started working on it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stabilizer update

For context, here's what I've done with my New from Old challenge block so far.

What you can't see is the fluffy wool batting that is giving the center a nice pouf and filling out the blades of the plate, so that it makes a circle that appears flat and will show my quilting. The background blue cotton, dyed by Diane, is brighter in real life than it appears here.

For an update on the silk stabilization process: The Sew Perfect treated portion dried to a darker color:

The treated silk feels very much like paper - it's not going to ravel a bit, as the Sew Perfect really seems to be like a thin coat of dried on glue.

I wouldn't have minded the darkening of the fabric, if it were even, but at lower right in the above photo, you can see where the sprayer left larger drops that created stains. But wait, that's not the end of the story! After you make whatever you are using it in, you are supposed to rinse the product out. The cut out corner below had a dark line of the stuff angling up and to the right - now that I've rinsed the small piece, you can't see it any more.

The small sample of fabric I rinsed is still rather stiff. I will try another rinse or two to see if I get closer to the original hand of the silk. For this application, it won't matter if it does not come out completely .

Here's how I intend to border the Dresden Plate - for the first time ever, I made a mockup of my piecing in muslin to see if I was going to be able to get a nice 90 degree angle at the corners. The pieces on the left show fabrics I'll be using for the blades. I modeled my border design on one in Jinny Beyers' Quilters Album of Patchwork Blocks and Borders. (I have the original edition.) There were no measurements or any kind of schematic for this border, just a simple illustration. I'll have to modify the corner in order to sew it, but I needed to be sure I could get this to be 90 degrees, because my drafting was totally by guesswork.

The triangles will be in the dyed silk, separated by three cotton print blades. I'm cutting the center blade of each set so that each one has the same color motif. I had exactly enough of this fabric to get the number of blades I will need.

I put the holey fabric on top of the silk so you can see how I'm cutting each blade with a scissors - like our grandmothers used to do it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New from Old challenge - working it up slowly

I've started working on my quilt for Dorry's New from Old June Bride challenge (I showed my starting point here). Last weekend, I did a little silk dying. I'd learned this very easy technique in a class back in 2009. For this quilt, I wanted to get a silk that more or less matched a hand-dyed cotton my friend Diane sent me a few years back. (Diane has a brand new Etsy shop where she is selling some knitting and weaving yarns, but she's also just thrown some newly created colorful socks out there!)

Here's the 1/2 yard silk piece I tie-dyed for my challenge quilt - I was happy that the blue in my silk dyes came out very similar to the blue Diane created in cotton with a completely different type of dye.

When I had the depth of color I wanted for this project, I threw another 1/2 yard piece of a different textured silk in my plastic bag, so as not to waste any of the dye. The dye bath was still blue after that, so I put in a third, very smooth silk to soak up the color, leaving the water nearly clear, and resulting in three graded blue silks in different textures for some future project.

Because this is a challenge I'm trying some new techniques for my small-scaled quilt. One of these is a spray-on product from Australia called Perfect Sew. Its purpose is to give the slippery silk more stability for piecing with the cottons we quilters love to work with. I'll let you know how I like it after it dries and I start piecing.