Thursday, April 18, 2019

Picking Up the Pieces

Nothing impels me to cut and sew faster than knowing that my grands will be visiting and I'll have to pick up the pieces of an in-progress quilt from the design floor before they arrive.  They'll be here in a few hours and my floor is now clear.

This is what was on the floor before.  I didn't count the squares but when I had to pick them up I knew there were a lot.  I have more ready to use if needed because I know I'll lose inches when I sew the squares together.

auditioning sashing for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt

I took lots of photos just in case I like the arrangement and color balance of this layout and want to repeat it.

auditioning sashing for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt

But maybe there are too many lights -- corals and pinks --  and I need more reds.  I thought about adding greens and a bit of the purple I used in the flowers below, left, but too many colors and it might look a little circus-like.

auditioning sashing for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt

I'll play when I can lay the pieces on the floor and leave them again.

auditioning sashing for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt

I wish I'd been able to sew some of the sashing squares together but it takes a long time to cut and sew triangles into squares:  cut, pin, sew, press, square (if necessary), trim dog ears, repeat.

auditioning sashing for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt

I believe this quilt will need a border around all those squares, but I'll wait till the top is sewn to make a decision about that.

When I first learned family was coming, it was my younger, single daughter for five days over last weekend until yesterday.  No problem leaving blocks on the floor while she's here.  When I learned that my older daughter and four grands were coming I thought I would have just one week to finish the quilt after they left.  When I glanced at the calendar I was pleasantly surprised to see that the month ends on Tuesday, which means I'll have a week and two days.  I may yet meet my goal of getting this stitched into a top in April!

I hope you're having a wonderful Easter week.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Cheddarback Blocks 6-10 for April

These are my Cheddarback blocks for April.  I somehow managed to fit them in between sewing triangle squares for my "Flowers" quilt.  The creator of Cheddarback used a variety of fabrics in her blocks -- cotton, flannel, pique, etc.  Most of my blocks, below, use colors close to hers but the kinds of fabrics are different.  I love the idea of the original creator and I being parallel quilters -- her using the fabrics she had available in the late 1800s, I using as similar fabrics as hers from the fabrics I have available from the late 1900s and early 2000s.  You can see the original blocks at this month's post at Sentimental Stitches.  Block 6 will finish at 12", the others will finish at 5".

Block 6
Cheddarback Block 6
Gosh, those pinwheels are hard!  The placement of the medium squares in the corner of this block is interesting to me.  They cause the star to disappear.

Block 7
Cheddarback Block 7
Gay Bomers, the creator of this sew-along, graciously provided two ways to make this block.  I chose the one without y-seams.  I don't have many black prints so used one with colors the closest I have to the original, but the fabric style is completely different.

Block 8
Cheddarback Block 8
By the time I finished this little basket I thought it was the cutest little basket block and pattern I've ever seen.  It's just so petite and sweet.  It was a bit of a challenge to make and even the original quilter was not able to keep all the points in the basket, though she lost hers at the top of the basket instead of the bottom, where I lost mine. 

Block 9
Cheddarback Block 9
Another square-in-square block.  I managed better with this one than the one in the first set.  I tried to keep the colors and style of fabrics but didn't have a blue and white check like the one in the original.  If I find one I might unstitch and exchange it for this blue.

Block 10
Cheddarback Block 10
Another pinwheel (with my mismatched points in the center). 

Cheddarback Blocks 6-10
Cheddarback Blocks 6-10



I bought fabric for sashing but haven't had time to wash and press it yet.  The creator of Cheddarback used two different fabrics for sashing, one off-white print and the other a light blue fabric which she used around the edges.  I'd like to use both but I haven't found a light blue yet.  I also already have a choice of two red fabrics to use for the cornerstones.

I have a feeling some of other blocks in this quilt will be really difficult for me.  This is definitely not a quilt for a beginner but it's certainly one that will expand my block-making experience.

I'm linking this post to BOMs Away at What A Hoot Quilts.  Thanks, Lynette.

--Nancy.
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Monday, April 8, 2019

Periwinkle Vine, at Last!

Finally, a little finish.  In real life, this block makes me smile.  Maybe it's because I love red and green together?  This is Periwinkle Vine, the first block of Hospital Sketches, a sew-along offered by Barbara Brackman at Civil War Quilts

Periwinkle Vine for Hospital Sketches on Civil War Quilts blog

I spent a lot of time (maybe too much time) trying to decide colors and fabrics.  At first I thought, How hard can it be to choose two sets of three colors each, one for the periwinkle flowers, one for the trumpets?  Then I realized what a slim selection of reproduction fabrics I have in a limited selection of colors.  (This led me to wonder if I'd make the quilt if I had only three fabrics for the whole quilt.  Probably not.  I like variety too much and get bored with repetition.)



These are two colors/fabrics I considered but decided against.  I liked the color of the coral/pink trumpets but not the solid fabric.  And I didn't think I could make the blue work with any of the other fabrics I had. 

By the time I finished stitching this I noticed how wrinkled the fabric had become as I held it and moved it around to stitch down each applique piece.  I realized that I'd never seen a photo of a block immediately after it was appliqued and before it was pressed for photographs and presentation.  What a difference a wash and press make!  Of course, it's possible that other appliquers don't end up with their pieces being so wrinkled and that's why I've never seen a photo.

cumpled hand appliqued before wash and press for photographs

It needed a wash to remove the glue I'd used on some of the pieces.  I put it in lukewarm water with a squirt of Dawn dish soap and let it soak for an hour or so.  When I removed it from the water I squeezed it, then filled the basin with clear water to rinse it and let it soak again.  When I removed it I let it drip a while and when it was nearly dry I pressed it with a hot iron.  I was sad to notice that the blue fabric bled a little on all the fabrics, but a bit more on the muslin fabric.  I don't know what that's about, whether the muslin accepts dye better than the other printed fabrics or what.  It's so light I'm not going to worry about it.  After the blocks are layered and quilted I may try to get it out -- or not.

Periwinkle Vine for Hospital Sketches on Civil War Quilts blog

Most of my applique has been primitive-style so this was an interesting change and a fun challenge.  This more formal style seemed to ask for more precision, especially in the placement of the elements.   Barbara Brackman gave suggestions for getting accurate placement, including pressing the fabric in half in four directions.  I also used the pattern to help with placement.

On to Virginia Coxcomb, Block 2 of Hospital Sketches, and also Sweet Land of Liberty.

I'm linking this post to
> BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Friday, April 5, 2019

Making Triangle Squares Sashing for Flowers

I've been thinking long and hard about my One Monthly Goal for April.  I know I want to work on the sashing for my version of Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt.  I'm just not sure how much I can reasonably accomplish this month and I don't want to set a goal I can't meet. 


Will I be able to cut, pin, stitch, and press a gazillion (or what seems like a gazillion) triangle squares; decide on their placement; adapt them and other scraps to fit the blocks; fit, pin, and stitch them into sashing; then sew them to the blocks and sew all the blocks together?  In a month?  With everything else I have going on? 

If I were following Linda Brannock's version of the quilt it would be simple:  cut and sew enough triangles to make 43 3" and 88 2" triangle squares.  But her finished quilt is just 54" x 76".  I want one that's large enough to use for a nap on the couch or cover a twin bed, at least 60" x 84".  One would think it would be a simple thing to either increase the size of the triangle squares or double them up.  Perhaps I'm overthinking this sashing but for some reason my brain is not seeing this adaption to the sashing as simple and I'm feeling just a little uncertain.

Below is the photo I took yesterday evening.  I cut and stitched more triangles today, including some smaller ones, and have still more waiting to be paired, pinned, and stitched.


Of course I'll have to cut lots more triangles.  I plan to use these fabrics and possibly more.  Maybe I need some green triangles.


This afternoon I placed all the triangle squares I've stitched so far between the quilt blocks just to see what I thought.  I love the way this is going!  I love the red and coral triangles against the putty but I'm not sure I can make a success of it -- using two sizes of triangles, getting the colors arranged in a pleasing way.  I think the additional triangle squares in this photo make the sashing look darker than in the layout at the top of this post.  But I have so many more triangles to cut, sew, and arrange and they'll change the overall feeling of the quilt, I'm sure.


When I think something will be hard or beyond my abilities, I tend to put it off.  I know I'll keep working on the other things I have in progress, and choosing this as a goal will push me to get it done.

Typing this post has helped me come to a decision.  My One Monthly Goal for April is to cut and sew enough triangle square blocks to make sashing for this quilt and sew the blocks and sashing into a top.  (Whew!  That was a hard decision.)

I'm linking this post to
> One Monthly Goal April Goal Setting Link-up at Elm Street Quilts
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Thank you for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Quilts in Active Progress, Blocks to Finish in April

I often have three quilts on the go at the same time: one for piecing (at home), one to applique (while riding in the car), and a third to hand quilt (while watching TV).  But with sew-along blocks of the month I think I'm up to five quilts in progress.  Here they are.

Little Rubies.  I'm hand quilting this using Baptist Fans and am almost finished with the first row of fans across the bottom.  I hand quilt less than I applique these days.  (No photo but you can see the top here.)

Hospital Sketches.  I'm still working on Block 1 (while most people are already on to Block 3).  I've appliqued the trumpets, the central circle vine, and the large flowers.  I still need to place and applique the 24 leaves.  This is a free block of the month sew-along hosted by Barbara Brackman at Civil War Quilts.  If I want to be in sync with the newly published blocks I'll I'll need to begin the next immediately upon finishing this one.


Sweet Land of Liberty.  There are several blocks and pieces for this month's sew-along that Lori of Humble Quilts is hosting on Cheri's Friendship Group on Facebook.  I'm looking forward to choosing fabrics for a sweet angel, sewing a few stars, and a few flying geese, and maybe some other bits I've forgotten about. 


Cheddarback.  I love this sew-along, offered by Gay Bomers at Sentimental Stitches.  Since I'm trying to reproduce this quilt, it's been fun to try to find fabrics that are similar (in color and/or style) to the original ones used in the quilt.  Mostly, I don't have fabrics like the original quilter's but I can come close with colors.  I already have the fabrics chosen so I can get five blocks sewn this month, right?


And last, Linda Brannock's Flowers.  (This was a sew-along on a Facebook group last year.)


My blocks are finished and this is a collage of the blocks in an approximate arrangement.  Linda Brannock's original uses two sizes of half square triangles (or is it half triangle squares?) as sashing.  The sashing is fun but looks really challenging to me, especially because I want to increase the final dimensions of the quilt.  This seems a good time to work on take on this challenge.  

That should be enough to keep me busy and out of trouble for the month of April, don't you think?

I'm linking this post to
> Wednesday Wait Loss at Inquiring Quilter
> WOW (WIPs on Wednesday) at Esther's Blog
> Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
> Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Friday, March 29, 2019

Cheddarback Challenges, Blocks 1-5

Cheddarback is a Block of the Month sew-along offered by Gay Bomers at Sentimental Stitches.  The blocks are free to download during the month they are published.  The quilt is a delightful, quirky, antique with blocks in two sizes, 12" and 5".  You can see it at the link above.  This is the first time I've tried to recreate an antique quilt.  It should be fun -- both the doing and the having.

Right off the bat with the first block Cheddarback offered a challenge.  (This is a 12" block.)

Cheddarback Block 1
Cheddarback Block 1

I love square-in-square and economy blocks but I struggle to place the triangles just where they need to be.  I finally figured out that if I folded the squares and triangles in the centers and pressed a crease at the edges, I could align the pieces.  It worked a charm for the four corner squares in this Rolling Stone block.

That system worked well when there was only one round of triangles, but not so well for a block with more.  The second round of triangles in the block below was harder to place accurately because there was no center crease on the first round of triangles, only the points of the squares.  Still I think I managed okay.

Cheddarback Block 2
Cheddarback Block 2

I'm trying to copy the original quilter's blocks, following her colors first, and then fabric patterns/style (stripes, plaids, small print, large print, etc.) next, if I have fabrics that are close.  In the original, Block 2 had a delightful green clover motif, but I didn't have anything close.  This was the best I could do.

Cheddarback Block 3
Cheddarback Block 3

I love how the creator of this quilt used clothing fabrics for some of the blocks, including finely corded fabrics.  I tend to think of them as less durable, but this quilt has lasted a very long time.

Block 4, below, used squares cut at 1¼" inch!  Just tiny!  

Cheddarback Block 4
Cheddarback Block 4

Block 5 was the hardest block of all to make because of it's set-in y-seams.  I'd never sewn them before and hadn't a clue what I was doing.  The construction seemed simple at first but not so by the end.  I should have researched how to stitch these kinds of seams when they turn at such a sharp angle.  The block came out okay but not great.  In the end I thought perhaps I should have started stitching from the center instead of from the edges.  This is one block that may get remade.  Do you have any tips to make y-seams easier?

Cheddarback Block 5
Cheddarback Block 5

As I look at the original Cheddarback quilt I think I may be in for even more challenging blocks over the coming months!  These are this month's blocks all together.



The original quilt's sashing has a white/off-white fabric with a small, loosely-scattered print.  I'll need  about three yards of whatever fabric I choose.  The only light fabric I have enough of on hand is this little rosebud print.  I think it is a little too feminine for this quilt.  And the background leans toward yellow/green instead of being strictly off-white.  I'll have to see what I can come up with.



As I've been working on this quilt I've been thinking about the person (probably a lady) who made it.  Where did she find the patterns, or did she create them?  How long had she been making patchwork blocks?  How did she choose her colors and fabrics?  Were they pieces of fabric left over from clothing she'd sewn or were they lightly worn fabric from old clothes?  Did she sew by hand or by machine?  Certainly she didn't have a rotary cutter and acrylic ruler:  all fabric would have been cut by hand.  That in itself is amazing to me.

And then I thought about Gay, so carefully recreating the patterns, figuring out measurements, writing directions, making pdfs of the the patterns available to us.  Isn't she wonderful?  Thank you, Gay! 

Gay called this quilt Cheddarback because that exactly describes the back of the quilt.  But what I want to know is this:  what is the difference between cheddar and orange?

I just learned that today is Piano Day 2019, always on the 88th day of the year in honor of a piano's 88 keys.  So I'm sharing "The Orange Fox Waits," a beautiful, gentle song created and played by Robin Spielberg.  Enjoy!



I'm linking this post to
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More
> Finished or Not Friday and Busy Hands Quilts and
> Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

I hope you have a great weekend.
--Nancy.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A House, a Basket, and Two Crows

My first blocks for Sweet Land of Liberty are finished.  I have a house, a basket, and two crows, plus a few other blocks. 

blocks for Cheri Payne's Sweet Land of Liberty quilt

When you look at the house do you notice that anything's missing?  The first thing my husband said was, "The house is missing a chimney."  And then he commented that there wasn't really much room for a chimney even if I wanted to add one.  Ha!  I was going to ask my grandson to tell me what parts of a house he would include in a drawing but I forgot.  To my mind, chimneys are not essential -- at least for a drawing or applique.  A house must have walls, roof, a door, and at least one window, but not a chimney. 

No words, you say?  Well, no.  I'm not committed to the words that Cheri included in her version.  When all the blocks are finished and I see them together, I'll decide whether I think the words are necessary or not.  I'm not much of an embroiderer.

There is one thing I will probably change and that is the blue strip on the left side of the house block, simply because the color is too close to the blue "U" below it.  It won't hurt if it stays but if it bothers me too much, I'll change it.

I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal March Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

I'm also linking to
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts and
> Can I get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Imagining You (and Periwinkle Wreath)

This is what I imagine about you, dear readers who are quilters:
   When you decide to make a quilt you choose the colors you want to use, look at your fabric supply, glance over the fabrics, pull the exact ones you want to use, then take them to your cutting table and begin the quilt.  Quick, fast, easy because you're confident in your choices.  This is what I imagine.  Is that how you work when you begin a quilt?  I sometimes wish I had  an intuitive sense of color.  (Of course, if I did, I would miss all the play involved in choosing colors and fabrics for a quilt.  Still, I sometimes envy you because it takes me such a long time to audition fabrics and make a decision.)

Earlier this week I began auditioning fabrics for the first block of Hospital Sketches, Periwinkle Wreath.  I thought red flowers would be great and chose a plain because I have few Civil War reds.  Next I had to decide the star centers.  I wish I could make a decision about fabrics without having to cut the applique pieces first.  But that's what works for me so I do it.  In this case, it will give me several flowers to use for some other quilt.

There are two reds in the above, right flowers:  the top two are the same red, the bottom one is a brighter red.  The darker red won out and I think the fabric in the bottom star will be my choice.

I printed four pattern pieces so I could lay out the circle and imagine the flower and the trumpet colors.  This style of quilt from the mid-1800s was traditionally made in reds and greens so that's where I began.  But the trumpet-shaped pieces between the flowers remind me of trumpet vines, which are orange/coral, so I began to play with those colors.


Hey, maybe a robin's egg blue might look great so I laid pieces of that fabric on the circle.  But I wondered if I had enough variety of fabrics to sustain that color combination.


At some point in this process I remembered that red and green is one of my favorite color combinations and asked myself why I was trying out other colors when I could use a favorite.  I put the blue away.  I don't think it would have worked anyway.

Today I cut and sewed the background fabrics, laid out the vine circle using a compass, and prepared the flowers (except the center circles).  I've been dithering on this for three days so it feels good to finally make decisions.


But I still have to decide fabric for those trumpets.  Possibilities are below, but I'll wait till tomorrow to decide.  My experience has been that when I choose fabric at night I have to choose other fabric in daylight.


These are my greens for leaves, with few Civil War reproductions.  I'll use fabrics on hand for very scrappy leaves.



Now, please don't judge me by the photo below.  Surely I'm not the only one who has let an ironing board cover go just a tad too long before getting a new one?  This is what my ironing board looked like by the time I finished Little Rubies last week.  Ugh!  Awful.  But I couldn't find one I liked at the store and didn't want to take time to make a new one in the midst of sewing that quilt.


As soon as Rubies was finished off came the old cover.  I used it as a pattern and made a new cover from thick upholstery fabric I had on hand.


I like it a lot and think it's a definite improvement but I'm not sure the wisdom of using a light fabric on an ironing board.  I suspect it won't look great for too long.  I remember that my mother used to use an old sheet and pin it in place on the underside of the ironing board.  It worked but I think having a drawstring keeps it in place better.  It's strange to imagine that I probably use my ironing board more that my mother used hers, and she ironed everyone's clothing and pillow cases every week.  I'll immediately begin looking for fabric for the next cover.

This week I've been complaining about Daylight Saving Time.  I keep hearing people say, "I love having an extra hour of daylight."  To myself I say, there's no extra hour of daylight, it's just been moved from the morning to the evening.  I always have trouble adjusting to the change, in either direction, but I particularly don't like making the change in March!  Couldn't we at least wait till May when we're really settled into spring?  But that's just me. 

Did you notice that Martingale is having its 2019 warehouse sale this week, until next Monday, the 18th?  Many books are just $6.00!

I'm linking this post to
> Midweek Makers #166 at Quilt Fabrication
> Wednesday Wait Loss at Inquiring Quilter
> Let's Bee Social # 263 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> WIPS on Wednesday at Esther's Quilt Blog

Thanks for hosting, ladies.

I hope you're having a great week.

--Nancy.
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