Saturday, May 23, 2020

Layered & Basted: Another Step Toward a Finish

Getting the parts and pieces of the Blue and the Gray ready for quilting has been my One Monthly Goal for May. 

Backing prepared?  Yes.  The pattern match is not perfect along the seam but I don't believe it will be noticeable after it's quilted, bound, washed, and dried.  In some places the flowers match exactly, in others, not quite so well.   It seems like the stitching (or maybe it was the pinning) was in line, went out of line a little, then back in line. 

Batting chosen?  Yes.  That was a hard choice.  A while ago I bought a wool/poly 80/20 Mountain Mist bat on sale at JoAnn's.  I've been wanting to try wool batting and when I saw this king size bat for $20.00 I thought I should take it home.  Several people said they loved wool batting, not only for quilting (like butter, they said), but also for lightweight warmth.

But I wasn't sure about wool for this quilt.  I imagine quilts from the 1800s as relatively flat -- cotton flat.  And how would wool wash and dry?  You can see that the package describes this batting as machine washable.  Certainly I would wash a quilt with wool in cool water on a gentle cycle, but when I checked the Mountain Mist website there was no sign of "machine washable" noted for this batting.  Which left me with the question of whether it really is machine washable or not.

I searched online to see if anyone else had experience with this particular batting and found that Kate Klein of Village Quilters had horrible shrinkage and lots of wool on the front of the quilt after a wash.  She used shot cotton on the front (and didn't mention wool coming through the back) and also washed in warm water.

I decided against wool for this quilt and will experiment on a smaller quilt to see how it goes.  If any of you have experience with this batting or other wool batting, I would love to hear about it.

I used the trusted Soft 'n' Crafty 80 cotton/ 20 poly that I've been using for a number of years.  It quilts easily, doesn't have too high a loft, washes and dries well, and is warm.  It seems more similar to a Civil War era batting than wool.

Layered and Basted?  Yes.  I forgot to take a photo when it was on the floor so here is part of it draped over the couch.
One of my concerns using a print fabric for a back is that it will end up askew because I didn't get the quilt aligned well enough.  I was oh-so-careful and measured the edge every few inches the whole way down.  We'll see.

Corners marked?  Done.
The pattern makers put rounded corners on their quilt which are very appealing.  I couldn't decide how big a curve to mark so I used a 12" pizza circle and a 9" cake pan to mark both sizes.  I don't have to decide now so I'll consider these two options as I quilt.  Looking at the instructions in the book just now I see that they suggest a 5" diameter plate for a quilt half this size.  Maybe I'll look for a 10" circle.

Thread color chosen?  Yep.  Black thread was too dark for the light fabrics, natural was too light for the grey and dark blue fabrics, so grey thread it is.  Sadly, I don't have any.  I checked at Hobby Lobby (because it's open) but their spools of cotton were big enough for 5 quilts and I doubt I'll want to use grey again.  I usually use Americana which I buy at JoAnn but couldn't find it online.  They're not open yet here (except for order and pick-up) and I don't remember Americana having grey thread.  Then I checked YLI online but they are out of grey just now.  I went to my nearest quilt shop today (after calling yesterday and being told that yes, they had Gutermann 100% cotton hand quilting thread in four different greys) and found that they had one very dark grey and one very light grey hand quilting threads and four greys in regular sewing cotton.  Sigh.  I even check Walmart thinking they might have Coats or some other brand but they had nearly no thread and most of their fabric shelves were empty.  So I'll begin quilting when I can find thread.

All this to say that I completed my One Monthly Goal for May.

Linking to
> One Monthly Goal May Link-up at Elm Street Quilts
> Finished (or not) Friday at Alycia Quilts
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More
> Put Your Foot Down at For the love of geese
> Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie's blog

We've had so much rain this week that there's been flooding in our city.  In fact, they put up the flood gates a few days ago.  Roads not far from us looked like streams and rivers.  Our house and street are in good shape -- this time.  I hope things are going well for you!  One of these days (or weeks or months) we'll be safely out and about again.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Before and After

In a post a few weeks ago I asked appliquers if they thought it would be possible to remove the stitches from around this block and have most of the pieces remain stitched together. 

Most responded with suggestions for getting the blue out of the background fabric (for which I was very grateful!) but few shared thoughts about whether the appliqued pieces would withstand being unstitched and remain together.

There were two reasons why I wanted to unstitch this applique.  The first was the halo of blue around the flower on the left.  When I first made the block I thought I would be able to live with it but three years later, now, I knew I couldn't.  The second was that the background fabric was a little coarse and of lesser quality (and one I shouldn't have used in the first place).  When there's one mistake, I usually just fix it as easily as possible, but when there are two mistakes I go back to where the first mistake began and redo from there.  So I unstitched the outside edges where the applique met the background fabric.  The above right photo is what was left behind the applique.

Sadly, I didn't take a photo of the applique pieces after I removed them.  I don't know why I expected them to be like cardboard but they were limp and floppy, like wilted flowers.  But most of the stitches holding the pieces together remained intact.  Whew!

I prepared new background fabric, made a new blue flower (checking to be sure the fabric wouldn't bleed), changed the center of the little red flower on the right, and then stitched everything back in place.

Baskets of Plenty Block 4

This is not the best block I've ever made (you know how it is when you go back to things you made years ago!) but I'm okay with it.

I've learned that it's possible to unstitch an applique, how to do it, and what the possible results will be.  But I hope I don't have to do this again!

On to the last Basket of Plenty block.  I'm still playing with flower patterns, colors, and fabrics.  The fun part!

Here's a little humor for you.  I was coming down the stairs the other morning when I was surprised to hear a sweet, little voice join in a conversation between my husband and me.  It seemed to be coming from my phone and I could only guess it was Google.  This is how the conversation went. 

Husband:  I took the car for an oil change this morning.
Me:   Oh, great!  Thank you!
Phone:  I am here to please.  (Nothing like taking the credit for something she didn't do, huh?!)
Me:  Google, what are you doing today?
Google:  I plan on waiting here quietly until someone asks me a question.
Me:  Will you get bored just waiting quietly?
Google:  No boredom here, only helpfulness.  :0  (Google included the big smile.)

Later I repeated the last question and Google's response was, "I can't get bored.  There are too many cats and not enough time."

Who writes these things?!!!  I learned that the voice was Google Assistant.  Honestly, I have no idea how she came to be on my phone and I have no idea how to find her.  I guess I'll have to let her initiate conversations, which means she may not be much of an assistant.

I hope you have a good day today!


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What to Do About a Quilt Top with Ruffled Edges?

I stitched together the sections of Cheddarback yesterday including the sashing around the edges.  It was great to get it done, but now I have a potential problem.

You see those ruffly edges?  Should I be concerned about those?

I don't believe I've ever had this problem before and I'm not sure what to do.

Are my seams a few threads too wide?  Are those blocks a smidgen too small?  Or both?  Or is there some other problem?  The center and top edges and corners of the quilt are flat, it's just the lower right and left sides and corners. 

I suppose it's possible those ruffles will quilt out but maybe not.  If I can improve the situation now I'd rather.

Thank you for any thoughts about this problem!


Friday, May 8, 2020

Little Rubies, A Finish

Little Rubies is my first complete finish of 2020!  I'm so happy that it's quilted and bound, washed and dried.  Completely finished.  This was a scrappy quilt from the start and it looks scrappy at it's finish.  It was a hard quilt to photograph.  The first and last photos were taken outside, the middle one was inside.

Little Rubies made of triple four-patch quilt blocks

The blocks in this quilt are double and triple-four-patch blocks. The small rubies which create the diagonals finish at 3/4", the large rubies creating the circlets finish at 1 1/2", all sewn with brown to make 12" blocks.

I have some ambivalence about this quilt.  I'm not thrilled about how the browns look so chunky and uneven.  Blocks of dark brown next to blocks of medium brown next to prints.  No blending at all.  Had I had a plan from the beginning I could have used the various shades of brown to create an additional pattern.  It is as it is because I began with scraps and as the blocks evolved I chose to focus on the rubies -- the strands and the circlets. 

Little Rubies made of triple four-patch quilt blocks

My biggest regret about this quilt is that I used Moda Bella on the back.  I wish I'd chosen some other fabric.  The word "bella" in Spanish and Italian means "beautiful" but Moda Bella is anything but.  It gets such good ratings but I found that it's scruffy, almost like woven polyester after it's been washed a few times, and uncomfortable against the skin.  I'll never buy it again.

Little Rubies made of triple four-patch quilt blocks

On the plus side, I love red and brown together.  I love the layout of the blocks.  And I love how the small rubies trail across the quilt, some bright, some dark, and some sparkling.

I am trusting that someone will love this quilt and enjoy its warmth on a cold winter night or for an afternoon nap.  And I'm so glad it's finished!

I'm linking this post to
> Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday (TGIFF) at Pretty Piney
> Brag about Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
> Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> Finished or Not Finished at Alycia Quilts
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More 
Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Last of the Cheddarback Blocks

For you who may not know, Cheddarback is a block of the month sew-along offered by Gay Bomers of Sentimental Stitches.  We began making the blocks last March and when so many of us were asked to stay at home because of the pandemic, Gay gave us the last ten blocks together instead of over several months' time.  These first two blocks are remakes.  The last ten in this post will allow me to sew together the rest of the quilt.  There's a quilt top finish coming soon!

Block 26
Cheddarback Block 26
This is a 12" block which will go on the bottom left corner.  This row of blocks was not in the original quilt.  Gay gave us a Barrister's Block pattern and also suggested we could choose a different pattern.  I made a block I thought was perfect but found it too similar to another block in the quilt. Then I chose this pattern and made it with blues and a creamy print.  When I placed it with the rest of the blocks I realized that using a print background was very unlike the choices the original Cheddarback creator made.  She most often used plaids, stripes, or ginghams with darker prints.  So I remade the block.  Perhaps it's not really the way the creator would have used these stripes (if she would have used these stripes at all) but I like it better than the first two blocks.  So this one will get stitched into the quilt.  (If you've been counting you'll realize that I now have two 12" blue orphan blocks.)

Block 35
Cheddarback Block 35
This is a 12" block and also a second version.  The first one I made had a fabric with very light stripes and much darker blues.  I like this version better.  I don't know if you can tell but the flowers in the lighter blue fabric are yellow/orange.  I colored them so they would be just slightly closer to the fabric in the original quilt.  (And remaking this block means I now have three 12" blue orphan blocks.)

Block 59
Cheddarback Block 59
This is a 12" block.  The original had a tan paisley fabric but I had nothing similar.  This light print was the closest I could find.  This was a simple block to make.

Block 60
Cheddarback Block 60
This is a 5" block.  This was a paper-pieced pattern.  If you've been reading my progress on this quilt you'll know I don't like that method of creating blocks.  So I paper pieced only the geese then cut out the rest of the blocks using the paper pattern, leaving 1/4" on all sides, and stitched the rest of the block.  I'll do almost anything to avoid paper piecing.

Block 61
Cheddarback Block 61
This is a 5" block.  This block was cut using paper templates.  My colors are similar to hers and I find them unusual.  From a distance the star in the center disappears completely and this block looks like a large X.

Block 62
Cheddarback Block 62
This is a 5" block.  I wrote about this block here and here.  It was a bit of a challenge and it's obvious there are some glitches in the striped fabric where the seams create a little too much white or red.  The original fabric was a wavy red and white stripe and her seams barely showed.  Oh, to have had some of her original fabric for this block!

Block 63
Cheddarback Block 63
This is a 5" block.  This was a letter block in the original quilt this but since I didn't want to more letters, I made this block.  It was simple to create since each square finishes at an inch -- five across for a 5" block.

Block 64
Cheddarback Block 64
This is a 12" block.  When I've substituted or added blocks I've chosen ones that were created/published about the time the original Cheddarback quilt was made, probably 1890-1910.  But when I saw the black and white pattern for this 2014 block, called Aunt Dinah, I thought it looked liked it could have been made earlier and I saw the potential to use striped fabric as the Cheddarback creator did.  I think the stripes could have been put to better use but I'm not going to remake it.

Block 65
Cheddarback Block 65
This is a 5" block.  This was one of the easiest of these last blocks to make.  It is a substitute for a letter block.

Block 66
Cheddarback Block 66
This is a 5" block.  This was another paper-pieced pattern, necessitated by the fact that 5 divided by 3 does not come out to a number we have on our quilting rulers.  To avoid paper piecing, I did the division and found that 2 3/16" x 3 comes out to 5 9/16" (after sewing the center seams).  I decided to cut on the narrow side of 2 3/16" (yes, I had to consistently estimate just where that was on the ruler) and sew on the wide side of 1/4".  It worked just fine.  Another success avoiding paper piecing!

Block 67
Cheddarback Block 67
This is a 5" block.  This was another paper pieced block which I didn't paper piece.

Block 68
Cheddarback Block 68
This is a 5" block.  The original has dark green checked fabric.  The best I could come up with was this black plaid.  It works for me.

And that's the end of the Cheddarback blocks, though probably not the end of posts about the blocks.  It's been a fun sew-along and I'm grateful to Gay Bomers for recreating the patterns and making them available to us.

I hope you're staying safe and enjoying the change of seasons.

I'm linking this post to
> Needle and Thread Thursday (NTT) at My Quilt Infatuation
> Off the Wall at Nina Marie Sayre's blog
> Put Your Foot Down at For the love of geese
> Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More
> Can I get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Monday, May 4, 2020

Blue and Gray - One Monthly Goal

For my One Monthly Goal for May, I will cut this fabric. . .

and align it so the pattern continues across the seam, then stitch it to become the backing for this quilt.

Next I will layer and baste the quilt.  That's it for my One Monthly Goal, just get it layered and basted so I can begin quilting.  Whatever happens after that will be a bonus for the month.

I haven't decided on thread (maybe grey, black, or a dark neutral) or a quilting pattern but I'm trying to imagine Baptist Fans or straight lines either on the diagonal or vertical and horizontal.   Sometimes I don't make the decision about quilting pattern until I have the hoop on the quilt and the needle threaded, although I've been considering the options all through the basting process and sometimes longer.

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


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Basket of Plenty #6 Finished

My One Monthly Goal for April was to finish this Basket of Plenty.  Here it is in all its little glory, though the color isn't quite accurate.

Baskets of Plenty block #6

This is part of a Cheri Payne sew-along from 2017 which I'm just now finishing (with one more basket to go).  Every part of this pattern is Cheri's except the tulip leaves, which I think make it look a little un-Cheri-like.  Even so, I like it.

It's hard to pick up exactly where one left off three years ago with the same view in mind.  Three years of quilting can change one's perspective, viewpoint, and abilities, so I wouldn't be surprised if this basket and the next one stand out as just a little different.  Time changes people, people change over time.

This is Basket of Plenty #8, finished for now, unless I change my mind.  And again, the color is a little off.
Baskets of Plenty block #8

Last month I adjusted the backing and added a flower to bring it up to the size of the rest of the blocks.  I thought it needed something on that clunky basket so I added the diamond and circle.  Now I think maybe the circle is a little too large.  It may get changed.  Will I ever quit changing my mind?!

I was thinking today how much time I spend thinking about, considering, playing with, altering and/or adjusting each individual block for almost any applique quilt, and even for quilts like Cheddarback.  And why?  When a quilt is finished it's not like each individual block is going to be noticed for itself.  They all blend together to create a whole.  I know I'll continue to do it but maybe I can talk myself out of doing so much of it.

I have one more Baskets of Plenty block to make to finish this sew-along.  Then on to the borders.

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.  Our state is beginning to lighten our restrictions.  I read such controversy about whether we should be staying at home to stay safe or going out to gain immunity.  Such uncertain times! 

I'm linking this post to
> One Monthly Goal April Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts and
> BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Requesting an Opinion from Appliquers

This is Basket of Plenty #4, made nearly two years ago.  When I washed it by hand (to get glue out, I think) the blue fabric bled into the fabric around it.  And, yes, I've tried Dawn dish soap several times, but it hasn't helped at all.

The bleeding is quite visible from the back in the photo below.  If I wanted a blue halo this would be the fabric I'd choose!  Because I don't want to remake the whole block I've been thinking about un-stitching the applique and putting it on a new piece of background fabric. 

These are the questions I have:
  • If I remove the stitches from around the edges, does it look like the rest of the pieces would still be stitched together?
  • Do you think, if they are, that it's possible to lift all the applique pieces and successfully put them on new fabric?
  • Have you ever done this? 

Click on the photos to enlarge them if you want to see details.  They'll open in a new window where you'll be able to click once again to enlarge even more.  (But please don't judge my applique stitches!)

It looks to me like all the pieces are stitched together well enough that only the stitching around the outside edges would have to be removed but I'd love to hear your opinions and experiences about doing this.

This is the back of the whole block.

Thank you for any help and opinions you can offer about this idea!

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