Saturday, October 03, 2015

Keryn has had  a Go Cutter for quite a while, and seems to have a lot of fun cranking fabric through it, making piles of strips and triangles. I appreciate it's efficiency  but up to now I've been willing to bumble along with my slower cutting methods. I actually like cutting, it's a sort of Zen activity for me which I find calming and very satisfying. All that fabric dealt with....Yeah! I look forward to cutting up scraps and putting them away, and since Keryn bought the Go cutter I've accepted the bits  leftover from her cutting sessions so we're both happy with the investment.

I did try piecing with some of the strips, but I found I had to use a really scant 1/4" seam, and the pieces didn't fit together with the bits I'd cut on my own. The cutting measurements really are exactly what they say they are, and I must have a little bit extra built into my pieces. I come up with a perfect final result, so it works for me, but I didn't like mixing the different cuts.

Then Keryn bought this die on the right, and I decided to give it another go. The whole block is cut out at once, so I can use my really scant 1/4" seam allowance throughout and not have to bother about adjusting it.

For each block you need two light rectangles and two dark, each measuring 6 3/4" by 7 3/4" so I got to work and cut a heap of them- that was tremendous fun and much fabric disappeared very quickly. Then I went round to Keryn's place and acquainted myself with the equipment!

I had to fiddle a fair bit to get the pieces cut smoothly, there were some bits that didn't quite get cut, or the edges were pushed into the foam and frayed when I eased them out. On Keryn's advise I tried all sorts of different things, more layers, less layers, changing which end of the die to feed through, and finally found the recipe that seemed to work best for my fabric. A sheet of junk mail on the bottom, 7 layers of material, another layer of paper and feeding the wider cutting shape in first. I really don't know the recommended practice, but this had the best results for me.

The first block I made was a little bit wrinkly in the centre, but the next one I trimmed each quadrant to 90 degrees before I sewed them together. There was a tiny bit of excess fabric in the middle- the outer edge was fine- and then it went together perfectly.

I'm aiming for 35 blocks, and I've got about half cut out, so this weekend I plan to have another cutting session and then pack this away as a kit to make in January when it's so stinking hot I won't want to iron piles of fabric and heat up the sewing room.

I might even look through my files of antique quilts and see if I can make one in another colourway. I've always adored this pattern and the ease with which I can cut out a whole quilt is certainly tempting....


Sunday, September 20, 2015

 Here are some photos of a customer's William Morris top I quilted about a month ago ( pattern by Michelle Hill).

I've done quite a few of these over the years, and even though they are labour intensive, they're always rewarding to  quilt. They look so spectacular afterwards it's worth all the ditch stitching!

I'm pretty sure I'll never make one, but that's ok because plenty of other  people are. I picked up another top yesterday in a different pattern, so I'm looking forward to finishing that.

Sorry for the poor lighting in the photos, I was trying to get the quilting to show up.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

  We seem to have all come down with colds or other ailments.  I spent two days looking after Izzy when her parents were sick, which means I'm behind with customer quilting now. I'll have to put some extra hours in there, and it means I can't sew on my own projects as much as I want to. Keryn and I still have the awful cold that lingers on and on, it doesn't seem right to be coughing and sniffing when it's beautiful spring weather outside.

   I finally got back to this little top when I felt a bit more human.  I found a heap of four patches in the container of little blocks and decided to enlarge the centre by adding two rows around the square in squares. It almost has the effect of a border, subtle but effective.

Then I added a 1 1/2" light strip, a 3 1/2" blue strip, and nine patches in the corners.

I wasn't sure about the corner treatments, as the top isn't symmetrical. I decided to just go with it, they balance each other even if they aren't mirror images. (There's probably a term for this sort of symmetry but I can't remember it.)

I can live with it!

I was successful in using up all the blue fabric, I have just enough to do the binding and then it will be out of my stash. I enjoy making small tops for a change, it's nice to see a finish after some of the large projects I've been working on.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

 I was going through some fabric  the other day and putting stuff away when I found this old blue piece. It's so old I've forgotten it's origins and I suddenly thought "Get rid of it! Use it all up! Don't put any of it back in the drawer!"

I went to the container where I keep small blocks leftover from other quilts, or ones that I've made 'on spec', and pulled out these square in square units, that measure 3 1/2" unfinished. 

It seemed it was all meant to be; there was just enough of the blue to cut the setting squares, and the blocks were all used up except for three.

I was already planning to make another one and use them as corners for the border- the end was in sight until....
I opened a drawer to put away  some fabric and found another one and a half metres of the same material! Arghh! I'm determined that this is not going back into the stash, so I'll have to come up with an extended plan to use it. Even if it ends up on the back, I will use this up completely!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

You wouldn't believe how long it took me to figure out how to turn the corners on this top. It was the little 1/2" pieces that threw everything out of course- my brilliant ideas usually make things difficult for me at some stage. The maths worked out perfectly if I left the last strip off and just had another hourglass in the corner, so that's what I went with. Too much faffing around already, I was itching to finish with this project.

I haven't been able to hang it up to take a photo because we had a bright idea (we're full of 'em) to move the Statler in the workroom so everything is slightly chaotic and the quilt stands are pushed  into  a  corner for now. I actually have a couple of tops to show you, but no good photos.

Like this Pineapple Blossom from Bonnie's pattern that I started quite some time ago. I thought it was finished apart from the border, but when I pulled it out I decided to make it single bed size. I had to hunt up more scraps and piece a heap more blocks, and then I was still faced with what to do in the border. I didn't have quite enough of the pieced scrap triangles to go round the whole top, so I made some HST in pastel colours and finally I could call this done. I've even got the backing ready to piece, that feels pretty good.

In other news, here's a sneaky peek at grandchild number four. Rob and Elisa are having their third child in December, that will make for a fun Christmas!


Saturday, August 01, 2015

I hardly ever plan an entire quilt before I start sewing, unless it's a direct copy of an antique. Usually I get to the border and am overcome with indecision;  that's why so many of my tops stall at this stage. Sometimes I can't choose between two or more options that all look equally nice,; sometimes I don't like anything at all for that particular top. This  isn't the same as saying it doesn't need a border, these tops look 'unfinished' but nothing appeals to me.

All throughout the making of  the Ohio Stars top I thought I would use this idea, little hourglasses turned on point. Easy, and related to the actual block. What's not to like? Except I didn't like it, the pieced units were too small (2 1/2") and the dark triangles were overwhelmed by the light patches and gold surrounding strips.

Hmm, perhaps just the hourglasses sewed together in a strip.... Better, but they still got lost amidst everything else that was going on. By the time you take the seam allowance into account there was precious little colour showing up.

I didn't want to make bigger hourglasses or use another shape- Keryn liked this solution..

Yes, it looked OK, and I will file this idea away, but it didn't fit what I wanted for this top. Rather funny really, as I didn't have a clear notion of what I DID want, only what didn't feel right. This is an incredibly annoying way to work, but sometimes it's the only way I can make progress.

Finally I decided to add a tiny piece in between the hourglasses, to sort of extend that bit of dark triangle without actually making bigger units. I liked it, even though this meant I was cutting pieces that measured 2 1/2" by 1". That little strip is 1/2" wide when sewn into the border. It's hard to believe that such a tiny bit makes such a difference to the overall look, but it does.

I wasn't happy at the thought of cutting 1" strips from my fabric, especially when I wanted a lot of variety, and while I could use 2 1/2" strips, I didn't really want to nibble away at my usable lengths. However... I remembered years ago, when I was cutting up heaps of scraps I would cut the tiniest leftovers into strips, meaning to use them for applique stems, for tiny log cabins and piecing fabrics for applique as Susan McCord did. Experience has shown me I don't really like appliqueing straight stems and 1 1/4" is the smallest I want to go for log cabin blocks.

And yet, I still had the drawer of 1" strips. It was absolutely full, but by the time I weeded out all the brown bits it was decidedly emptier. I know I keep a lot of weird sizes of scraps, but every now and then it does prove useful. I doubt I'll convert anyone else to my ways, but in this instance I was glad of that long ago decision to cut these..

Mind you, I didn't keep the scraps from these little strips- I have to draw the line somewhere. They went straight into the bin!

Now I just have to finish piecing the extra hourglass blocks and piece the borders and work out the maths for the spacer borders and cut them out and sew everything together- shouldn't take me long!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

I've been using a variety of patches for my leader-enders recently. As I come to the end of one pile of cut out pieces, I move on to the next. I am unable to just cut the thread anymore, it feels so wrong not to have  a leader-ender to sew onto. They do build up into quite a pile of finished units, so it's worth persevering with the concept, even if it seems strange at first. Now I need to spend a couple of hours cutting out more of everything I need, and restocking shapes. 

I'm making red and light hst for a split nine patch somewhere down the track and brown hst for my brown broken dishes units, which can be used any number of ways.

Hour Glass blocks for the border of my star top

and the four patches for this block.

All these little blocks were 2 1/2" unfinished so I could sew them together in a random setting, but I won't. These are all spoken for, but it might be fun to do this with orphan bits one day.

Here's something I haven't seen before. At the supermarket I found a farm ute parked, with these three waiting for the owner to return. The dogs were treating the lamb like one of the pack, and I'm sure in his mind he thinks he's a dog. He had his own  collar and chain and was pushing the dogs around to get where he wanted to go.
Obviously an orphan raised with these two mates, and he seemed quite used to riding in the back of the vehicle too. I know from experience that orphan lambs can have a hard time adjusting to the idea of being " just a sheep"; I wonder what will happen to this chap when he gets too big to be lifted into the tray...

Spellcheck didn't like the word 'ute'. It's an abbreviation for 'utility' and is a common vehicle in Australia. (I think the American truck or pickup is  heavier and larger) The Aussie ute is a great vehicle, and Keryn and I often wish we had one, they're so useful. However Dolly and Pippi would probably rather be riding inside than chained up in the back!


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