Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Liberty's Shadow and the Fabric Search

I finished Lady Liberty for my Sweet Land of Liberty quilt last week.  When I cut away the fabric behind her I thought it looked like a shadow of herself. 
A number of years ago I'd gained too much weight before and after hip replacements (because even if you can't move you're still hungry) and after I lost many pounds, a friend who hadn't seen me for a while commented, "You look like a shadow of yourself."  I thought it was one of the best compliments I'd ever received. 

About my fabric shopping.  I needed/wanted a pale blue sprig fabric for some of the sashing on Cheddarback.  A few months ago I looked at the two nearly-local quilt shops but didn't see anything I thought would work.  Online at Connecting Threads I saw what I thought would be the perfect fabric.  I really must stop shopping online or, at the very least, lower my expectations.
The fabric on the left looked more blue in the online photo and the pale yellow background wasn't obvious.  It won't work for Cheddarback.  I ordered pieces of the other three because I thought they would work for some other future quilts.  I love the grey on the right.  The other two are okay but not fabulous.  You just can't tell about fabric from an online photo.  Sigh.

Still searching for a light blue sprig fabric, I went (again) to the nearest local quilt shop on the northwest side.  I did not find a blue sprig fabric but, instead, bought one of their scrap bags with lots of small pieces of reproduction fabrics (which I didn't photograph) and these.  I don't know what it is about copper that makes me like it so.  The double-pinkish on the right may be useful in Cheddarback.  But I didn't find a blue spring fabric.

On to the next most local quilt shop (again) on the southeast side.  And I found it, there on the left, below, about as perfect as possible.  Of course, I couldn't leave with only a half yard of fabric after the drive to get there.
I rarely buy purple fabrics so I'm on the look-out for them for Cheddarback.  The first shop had no reproduction purples.  I bought the only two I found, above.  I don't love either of them but I don't suppose you can love every single fabric in a quilt or your heart wouldn't know where to turn.  I like the army green fabric quite a lot and I love the red.

I had an interesting experience at the last shop, which sells mostly reproduction and primitive fabrics.  It's not a very large shop and it's not often very busy.  The table with fat quarters is diagonally across from the cash register.  I usually head there first so I don't have to ask the owner to cut into yardage for me.  The table is often in disarray with quarters tossed on top, some partially unfolded or partially nestled in with the rest, and others stuffed in at any angle.  It's usually hard to see what's there.  Without even thinking I neaten it as I look through the fabrics, piling them in my hand, then fitting them neatly amongst the rest. 

Two visits ago the owner noticed and thanked me for straightening her table.  I was so thankful she didn't mind!  The last time I was there, she didn't charge me for all the fabric I bought.  I realized when I got home what she'd done so I emailed her but received no response. 

This time she approached me and asked if I'd like a job.  (This is the fourth time in my life people have asked if I'd like to work for them!)  She is interested in having me neaten her shop and offered to pay me in fabric.  It's a bit of a drive so I didn't jump at the offer.  We didn't discuss how often, how long, or how much fabric and I told her I'd let her know.  Anyway, she told me she wasn't charging me for the three fat quarters I had on my stack that day.  So kind of her.

Do I need any encouragement to obtain more fabric?!  On the other hand, how often do I want to drive 35 miles round trip?  There are a few considerations before I'll make a decision.

I'm grateful that my search for blue sprig fabric has ended!

More about what I've been working on soon.

--Nancy.
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Monday, July 8, 2019

Decisions, Decisions: Quarter Cabins and ...?

Almost at the last hour I'm adding a link to Lori's Humble Quilts Stringalong Month 6.   I keep going back and forth about whether log cabin blocks are string blocks or not.  I decided they are, since I've used only scrap strings to make them.  Every so often I pull these out and make a few more. 

quarter log cabin blocks

These will finish at 4" and contain every style of fabric--prints, solids, plaids, most colors, fabrics of different decades, and a variety of string widths.  They are a hodge podge.  I love brights but usually make a mess when I try to put too many together.  Still, I kept making more of these.  I don't pull them out often enough:  I started them in 2014 and have only 86 blocks!

quarter log cabin blocks

I think they usually end up back in the closet, not for lack of strings, but because I haven't been able to decide how to use them.  They're too busy to lay side-by-side in a quilt.  And really, with only 86 made (and another 20 in progress) it would take me more time than I want to spend to make enough for even a small quilt.  (I love the charm of little blocks but my enthusiasm wanes when progress is slow.)

quarter log cabin blocks

I happened to be at Walmart last week on an errand with my daughter and stopped to look at their fabrics.  I remembered reading someone's recent post about a dollar-a-yard sale.  I doubted our local stores would have the sale but, sure enough, there were some bolts, including Waverly solids, for a dollar.  You know I'm not a fabric snob when I use thrift store shirts for fabric but still, I like new fabric to be quality fabric.  But a dollar a yard!  It was too good a bargain to resist.

These solids captured my attention and I brought home 6 yards of the green, a yard of the red, and a half yard of the coral.  Surely I could use them somewhere.  (Have I said how much I love red and green quilts?  They are irresistible to me!  So much energy.)


I washed the half-yard piece immediately (not the others so I could return them if the small piece didn't wash well or feel good after drying and pressing) and was really pleased with the result.  I don't know about long-term wear but the piece I washed felt comparable to Bella and better that Kona (but not quite as nice as Riley Blake Confetti Cotton).

So I had this long piece of green fabric and these log cabin blocks.  A strippy quilt had crossed my mind for those blocks.  What if I put the cabins and the green fabric together?

quarter log cabin blocks in possible string layout with vines and leaves

And what if I added alternating strips of vines with leaves?  I pulled some scraps from my applique box and put them together.  Maybe....  Maybe colorful leaves.  (Or would they be too much color?  I should cut some and see what I think.)  Maybe larger leaves.  Or maybe not vines and leaves but some other alternate stripe...?  Concentric circles?  A series of strips?  Or what...?

quarter log cabin blocks in possible string layout with vines and leaves

The questions I must answer before continuing are:  How much do I love that green fabric?  Will I love it in five or 10 years?   And, will I enjoy cutting, preparing, and appliqueing hundreds of leaves (or any other motif for alternate strips)?

I think choosing a solid color for the quarter cabins is a good idea.  I think it will help unify them.  (And the only unifying factor of the blocks now is the red centers, which use a variety of reds.)  But the other questions....  But I do love that green....  But would brown or black or some other color be better for the cabins?

If you have any thoughts (positive or negative), please share!  Thank you for taking the time.

I'm linking to
> Humble Quilts Stringalong Month 6
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> Moving It Forward Monday at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
> Main Crush Monday (MCM at Cooking Up Quilts
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
> WOW at Esther's Blog
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, July 6, 2019

More Cheddarback for July

How often does it happen that you go to the thrift store hoping to find something in particular and actually find it?  For me, nearly never, but I'm always hopeful.  On Friday while looking through men's shirts I came upon this one.


It doesn't look like anything special and a few months ago I would have not have given it a second look.  But on Friday, it was a serendipitous find!  It cost more than I'm usually willing to spend on a shirt even though it was much less expensive than a new one.  I put it back twice and finally decided it was way less expensive than buying a fat quarter.  I bought it.

Close up, the stripes look like this.


The fabric in this shirt is close to the fabric in the largest Cheddarback block for July, the one at upper right in the image below  The two fabrics are not identical but they're close enough to make me happy.  I don't have any fabric with stripes even remotely similar to it.  (I've been scouring through my fabrics since the blocks were posted--not that it took me all that long to look through them.  I just kept looking hoping I had missed the perfect fabric.)

Cheddarback Blocks, Month 5

These look like fun and challenging blocks and the fabrics are especially interesting.  The fabric in the lower right block is gorgeous -- a black background with golden flecks and flowers of black and gold with teal in the centers and around the outer edges.  Where, oh where, will I ever find a fabric to compare?!  Surely not at a thrift store!  You can see great photos of the blocks for July here.

Being generally unmotivated again this month I've chosen the Cheddarback blocks as my One Monthly Goal.  I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal July Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Patty.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Cheddarback Blocks for June, 2019

Cheddarback Blocks 16-20

I continue to be challenged by some of the Cheddarback blocks.  If it's not finding/choosing fabric, then it's the block pattern or maybe getting the size right.  The first few blocks of the year were a tad too large, perhaps a quarter inch.  But several of the blocks were a tad too small by an eighth inch.  I think only a few have been the correct size when I've finished them.  It makes me wonder what my problem is since I've been sewing the same width seam on all the blocks.  I have plenty of blocks to go to get it figured out!  Any why not enjoy the challenge, eh?  It's all a learning process.

You can see this month's original blocks at Sentimental Stitches.

The blocks in this post are in the order I made them.  I began with what I thought would be the hardest block (but I was wrong).  The first four will finish at 5", the last is a 12" block.
Block 18
Cheddarback Block 18
The Y-seam seam in a previous block challenged me no end.  I wasn't willing to take the easy way and give up on learning the skill of sewing them and I thought this block would be the hardest of the five this month.  The seams turned out okay, with the assistance of a good press.  It's not perfect but I'm not going to remake it.

Block 19
Cheddarback Block 19
This is the block I thought would be slightly less challenging than Block 18.  I was oh so wrong.  I cut the outer edges of the pieces 1/4" wider than necessary thinking that it would give me some wiggle room if the block was a little too small.  Size wasn't half the problem.  I couldn't manage to get the points to meet in the center, even after unstitching and restitching three times.  The only blocks I've sewn where 8 points meet are pinwheel blocks which the points are all the same size.  Unlike those, in this block the triangles are uneven and it was impossible (for me) to get them aligned.
Cheddarback Block 19
On the Facebook group Gay has suggested that it's our quilt and we can make it however we want.  Well, I really want a block like the original but my skills just aren't there yet.  Above is how I chose to finish Block 19.  I'm still deciding whether to cut out the fabric behind the circle.  (I'll probably give this block another try.  The double pink fabric was generously given to me by Lizzy from Gone to the Beach.  (Thank you, Lizzy.)  I didn't want to waste any more of it in another failure, so I'll use junk fabric the next time I try to make this block.)

Block 20
Cheddarback Block 20
I decided to applique the black squares on this block because I didn't want to interrupt the pattern of the red fabric.  The edges of the black squares are not all exactly straight.  I changed those squares once because I hadn't left enough space for a quarter-inch seam without cutting off the points.  The second time there's a quarter inch around the edges that will leave the points but I ended up with those less-than-straight lines.  This is one of the blocks that had wavy red and white striped fabric in the original quilt.  If I find fabric that's closer to the original I may end up remaking the block.

Block 17
Cheddarback Block 17
This was an easy block except for the upper right triangle with two fabrics in it.  I wanted to do what Cheddarback's maker had done but, unfortunately, I think I got the size of those two strips wrong.  I may recut and replace that triangle.

Block 16
Cheddarback Block 16
The original block has fabric that looks greyer -- a white background with grey/black spriggy leaves along grey/black lines.  This was the closest fabric I have.  Also, in the original, the lines are all placed in the same direction in the block, which created bias edges along the outside triangles.  I have so many other challenges with this quilt that I decided to follow Gay's directions instead of trying to recreate the original arrangement.  This is a pretty bland block but it did turn out to be the simplest of the five this month.

I've noticed in the original quilt that some fabrics are used in several different blocks.  So far I've been able to do that, too.  I hope I can keep it up through all the blocks.

Many thanks to Gay Bomers of Sentimental Stitches for making these patterns available so we can recreate this quilt.  It's been fun.

Finishing these blocks was my One Monthly Goal for June.  Goal accomplished!  I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal - June Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

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

--Nancy.
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Friday, June 28, 2019

Sweet Land of Liberty, June

I didn't make much progress on the June blocks for Sweet Land of Liberty because I was trying to finish the May parts!  This is what I did this month. 

Four Economy blocks and a dozen flying geese.  I can't keep straight which I've claimed for previous months and which I haven't.  Either way, I'm ahead of what we should have at this point in the sew-along. 
Sweet Land of Liberty Cheri Payne
See that Economy block on the left in the center row?  I love it!  The plaid was a shirt a month ago.  It was a great shirt but it will be even greater in quilts.

These are the blocks for June and the fabrics will probably become Lady Liberty, a pineapple, and the Sawtooth Star, though I may change my mind.
Sweet Land of Liberty Cheri Payne


The Lady Liberty pattern is different that the one Cheri used.  I saw Robin's Liberty and fell in love with it.  Mine won't be as delightful as hers since I don't have her pattern but I hope it will fit with the primitive style of the rest of the quilt. 
Sweet Land of Liberty Cheri Payne
I decided to enlarge the quilt a bit so the background of this block is an inch wider and taller than in Cheri's pattern.  I had to do that because of the changes I made in the first row and top and side borders (which I'll describe below when I get to that photo.)

Pineapple fabrics--probably.  They look a little brighter in the photo than in real life.  I only have a few gold fabrics so I'll use what I have.

These are the probable fabrics for the Sawtooth Star.  I'll choose just one of the solid tans--or maybe I'll choose a lighter fabric.  And I expect I'll use a pen rather than embroider the center block.

I spent most of my time this month putting together the top row and borders from last month.  Preparing and appliqueing the vines, berries, and letters was slow going.

Sweet Land of Liberty Cheri Payne I want this quilt to be wider than the original so I added a border on the left between the body of the quilt and the flying geese and I widened the border on the right where "America" is appliqued.  I think I've increased the total width by 3", which means I'll have to adjust everything below it.  It will be a challenge but I think this is probably the best quilt to try this on since it already has so many improv-style adjustments.  (I'll tell you how crazy I am in a few months when it all works--or doesn't.  Or, if you visit here often, you may read about it as I work on the quilt.)

These are close-up photos, taken across the top row in overlapping sections.  I think I'm supposed to do something else with the star on the basket.  I'll have to take a look.
Sweet Land of Liberty Cheri Payne

The angel block in the center still needs to have three flying geese appliqued diagonally cross the upper right.
Sweet Land of Liberty Cheri Payne

The eagle with the star still needs some stitching or applique.  Not sure which.  I may choose to make the quilting do double-duty to replace any embroidery on the large eagle.
Sweet Land of Liberty Cheri Payne

I'm so grateful that Lori is holding this sew-along again with Cheri Payne's Facebook Friendship group.  Slow as I am, I need the extra time to finish each section.  It's been fun.  Thank you, Lori.


I hope all is well with you and in your part of the world.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Seeking the Perfect Red and White Fabric

This wavy, narrow, red and white striped fabric is in two Cheddarback blocks--so far.  (See photos here and here.)  When I first saw it I didn't realize that the stripes really were wavy.  I thought it might be an optical illusion, or that the quilter cut the fabric a little off, that maybe the quilting caused the fabric to be pulled slightly askew. 


So I set out to find a fabric with narrow, red and white stripes.  I was thrilled when I found the fabric below.  It looked just about perfect to me.


But after I made the block I realized that it doesn't have the depth of color that the original has.  I decided that the stripes weren't of even width and realized the red stripes were really rose.  My finished block looks like this.  Much too pink and pale.


I've had my eye out for other red and white fabrics that I thought might work.  I found this in a quilt I made a few years ago.  Even though it's not striped, I though it might work because the balance of red and white looks similar to the original fabric.  Sadly, I don't have any more of it.


Then I rummaged through my fabrics and found this gingham check.  It's from a shirt and is just a little heavier than the usual quilting fabric--which is not a problem to me if the color works.


This is what the block looks like.  The fabric's not striped but maybe the richness of the red and the balance of red and white are close enough to look similar to the original Cheddarback block, here--scroll down to see Block 20. 


I know I'm going to have to settle for some red and white fabric that's close to the  original Cheddarback fabric.  This may be the one I'll have to use, but I'll continue to keep my eyes peeled for other possible red and white fabrics for a few weeks.  I'll need to choose one pretty soon, though, because I don't want to remake too many blocks!

The other fabric I hope to find is a light blue/grey sprig fabric.  Cheddarback uses it in the sashings on the sides and top.  When I find a print I like I can begin sewing the blocks and sashing together. 

I'll post all of this month's blocks in a day or two.  I love this quilt-along and the challenges it presents.

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Out and About, June 2019

One day last week we visited Ohio's state capital in Columbus.  We anticipated doing a tour but time on the parking meter and the tour schedule didn't correlate so we walked around, stopping to admire the architecture and view the displays and exhibits.  These are poor phone photos but you can get an idea of the Statehouse's beauty and size.






















I think the rotunda is truly beautiful with its circular space, high arches, and domed ceiling. The walls are painted a coral/pink and robin's egg blue, with white trim.


As my daughter and I stepped off an elevator we heard singing and wondered where it could be coming from.  As we walked down a hall and through a doorway we realized that a group was singing in the rotunda.  We thought we were hearing a choir of angels.  Their voices ascended to the top of the dome then descended back down, filling the space with exquisite music.


We learned that the singers were The Cardinal Chorale, a group of high school students, sophomores through college freshman.  They meet in the summer for a week-long workshop, take their music home and practice, then meet again in late spring to present several concerts.  This was not a public concert.  They were singing for the joy of it and, no doubt, enjoying the acoustical effects of their voices in this setting.  There was no audience except those who happened to be walking through the space, on their way to some other place, or people like us who stopped to listen.  It was a happy surprise to hear them. 

Another happy surprise came earlier in the month when a package arrived from Lizzy of Gone to the Beach.  She sent a package of beautiful, mostly reproduction, fabric scraps.  I think this was my first in-person view of chrome yellow fabric, having seen only photos in Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide 1800-1960 by Eileen Jahnke Trestain.  All the fabrics are wonderful.  Thank you, Lizzy!


This past Friday we went to a Half Price Books book sale at the state fairgrounds.  I'm always on the lookout for quilting books and these were a deal.  I bought the seven below, five of which were brand new.


I am sleep-deprived:  we have critters, probably raccoons, in our attic directly over our bed.  When I go to bed, sometime after midnight, all is quiet.  Just as I'm drifting off to sleep I hear scratching, scrabbling, thumping, tumbling.  Sometimes I think they are holding a wrestling match, other times I imagine they've set up a playground.  The only thing we've found (so far) that sends them on their way is the smoke alarm!  What an inconvenience and disruption of sleep in the middle of the night.  We have a company coming in a few days that I hope will remove the raccoons and prevent them from returning.  (Though I wonder if that's possible since we had them two years ago and made repairs to the spaces where they were entering.  Have they marked our house?)  I need some good sleep!

Back to block making and quilting this week.

I hope all is well in your part of the world.

--Nancy.



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Easy, at Least in Theory

It's Y-seams I'm thinking about when I say they're easy in theory.  Those five pieces of fabric in this block should be able to be stitched together in a snap.


But they don't sew up as easily as I think they should.  This is my first old-style bow tie block.  It turned out pretty well, although I had to unstitch several times to get it right.  And then, of course, pressing went a long way to help flatten it.   This is Block 18 for Cheddarback, a 5" block.

I'm almost finished stitching the applique letters on the upper border of Sweet Land of Liberty.  You wouldn't think 18 letters would take very long to stitch but they seemed to go slower than some of the larger applique pieces.


This is the first time I've appliqued onto a large section of a quilt.  I noticed that the edges began to ravel.  Not a good thing when there's only a 1/4" seam to begin with.  I finally decided to cover them with strips of fabric, pinned to hold them in place.  How do you deal with raveling edges when you applique?


And last, I want to share a thought about solid color fabrics.  I know Kona is really popular, and Moda Bella, too.  I find Kona a little hard to hand quilt and I think both Kona and Bella are just a tad rough.  A while ago I won a gift certificate (I can't remember from whom or for what online shop) and purchased some brown fabric.  It came, I washed it, I made a note what line of fabric it was, then put it on the shelf.  I pulled it out to use on Liberty and wow, am I impressed! 


It's Riley Blake Confetti Cottons.  It's soft, smooth, and easy to stitch -- and I love it.  (I know the photo above suggests lines but it's the photo and not the fabric.  The color is a solid.)  I often use solid color shirts from local thrift shops but if I ever need a color I don't have, I think I'll see if Confetti Cottons has the color I want.  (Riley Blake didn't pay me to say this, just in case you're wondering if this is an advertisement.  It isn't.)

I'm still missing my Hannah.  Sad days at our house.

--Nancy.
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