It’s time to catch up on my block-of-the-month quilts! I’ve been slacking so hard lately.
First- bye bye coral orange peel block!! I’m going to miss you!!!
Second, my FibreChick BOTM. I still had a week left before it was due, so I got working on it. My block has 4 main colours, 1 accent colour, and the background colour. Most of the other colourways have one main colour. Usually my blocks get rotated with 1 of 4 main colours, but for this block, I got all four colours in it.
It’s a cute little pinwheel block!
I rather enjoyed putting this block together! We were using 4-at-a-time and 2-at-a-time half-square-triangles (HSTs). It gave me a chance to use my magic wand!! 😀
It is so handy! It gives you a perfect 1/4″ line to sew along for HSTs. In some cases, I drew a line from point to point. On others, I just lined up the ruler on the points and drew the stitch lines with the mechanical pencil. It beats using your 1/4″ foot to make sure you stitch a straight line.
It’s magic, baby. 😉
The last time I had a block that had all four of my main colours was my first block, so I pulled my first block out. I think I’ve made a lot of progress since I started class back in September.
The next class is the last class of this year. Since that will leave me with 10 blocks, I intend to buy two extra blocks to bring the total blocks up to 12, which will give me A COMPLETED QUILT!! Whoot woot!
Third – my Cottage Quilter BOTM. It is a Dresden Plate this month. We have to make 5 half-plates. A Dresden Plate is like a big sunflower or sun. Cutting out the petals took me TWO WHOLE DAYS. ugggggggh. It did give me a chance to watch HBO’s Chernobyl. WOW. I’m not a huge fan of HBO shows – too much jingly-jangly people parts for my taste – but this show was INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend! Although, full disclosure – the miners were mining in the nude (historically accurate) and they did not … strategically frame the scene. Everything was captured. Other than that though – I actually want to re-watch it already. It was that good.
Next week – hopefully finishing the Dresden Plate so I don’t get dinged with a failure charge.
Basically, people show up for a weekend to sew in the same big room together. They can be at a remote location where you stay overnight, but this one was in town, so I got to sleep in my own bed and get woken up by my own dog at 6 freaking AM dog … The tears are real. Especially since my own husband kept me up to 1AM because he missed me all day (AWWW).
I went into this retreat with one objective: get started on the quilt that I’m making my brother-in-law for his wedding. Since none of my in-laws are aware of my blog, I can discuss it here without ruining the surprise 🙂
I am planning on making a log cabin quilt. Traditionally, it was one of the first quilt patterns that a new bride would make with all black blocks on one side, all white blocks on the other, and a red “chimney” in the middle. I decided to modernize it a bit by working in some grey. I mocked up this block with some spare fat quarters (quarter-of-a-yard of fabric, in case you’re wondering) and I like the look. It makes a nice, big block that shouldn’t take too long to make up into a quilt. 18.5″ blocks, 5 blocks across by 5 blocks down will put it somewhere around 95″. I’m putting 5 different different colours in the chimney from a fat quarter pack. I intend to use the rest of the pack to make matching cushions for them for Christmas. I asked Kim from FibreChick to put together a kit for me and picked it up last week. It’s going to be SO PRETTY!! 😀
Step one to making a log cabin kit – pre-cut all the strips. As you can see from the sample block, it’s made up of a bunch of strips – in this case, 2.5″ strips – cut to different lengths. THIS PART IS SOOOO TEDIOUS. The first cutting to make up enough strips to do at least one block took me an hour. The subsequent partial cuttings (just cutting the strips you ran out of piecing the last block) took 30-40 minutes every time and I had to cut between every block. It’s just a lot of cutting. On the second evening, one of the women took pity on me and introduced me to a magic device.
It’s known as a Stripology ruler. You put it on top of the fabric and cut in the gaps in the ruler to cut a bunch of matching widths. The one I used let me cut a bunch of 2.5 strips out of all my fabric at once, which will cut down my cutting time down (see what I did there???? 😀 ) as I’ll just have to grab a 2.5 strip and sub-cut it the proper length. I can get a block sewn in about 15-20 minutes once I have the strips. The quilt needs to be pieced and quilted by September. I can do this!
I got 7 blocks done over the course of the weekend! I started playing with the layout of the blocks to see how they look together with the colours and figure out the pattern. Log cabin patterns can make a lot of cool sub-patterns. Because this block is so big and there’s only going to be 5 each way, I’m just going to stick with the standard pattern for now. I totally want to do another log cabin in the future, though – the cross pattern looks SO RAD.
I feel pretty good about that, especially since I got distracted by a hosted project that took up a whole day. Guess what the next blog post will be?? 😀
This will be a short update due to the fact that I haven’t touched my sewing machine for a couple weeks. I KNOW … I’m shocked too! I was on vacation all last week and intended to get some sewing done then, but we were just too busy! The weather was lovely all week for a change and outdoor work had to be done. We have an undeveloped bush lot outside of the city. It’s the property my family lived on when I was a teenager. Husband and I acquired it from my parents when they moved further north and we’ve had plans to start developing it. Step one – put in a road. This took up a couple of days worth of distractions scheduled for this week.
We also had some home improvements to complete – and complete, we did, although it took three days to do so.
We were supposed to take one day off to relax, but I couldn’t help myself – I got started on a sewing project. Not one that involves a sewing machine, but one that is going to wind up in my sewing room.
This is an antique Victorian cupboard that my mother used as a book catalog while we were growing up. It’s going to be my fabric storage solution! I’m super excited to see how it works out! The first layer of paint is mostly off (the shiny stuff – it was already peeling off). Underneath is a blue paint and a red stain (the red stain is still on the inside of all the doors). I removed the hardware from the doors last fall before putting the cupboard in storage. One of the clasps needs to be replaced, but I found a website (Old Quebec Hardware) where I can get replacement latch for $8 a pop plus shipping. That sounds expensive, but my next best option was $40+ on eBay! I’ll pay the $8 + shipping (probably no more than $15 for Canada Post) instead thanks. It’s a cheap price to pay to have a beautiful piece for my room! Plus, it’s an exact match to a replacement latch my mother put on the cupboard years ago. It’s probably the same company that still makes them. Isn’t that cool? I’m a little tempted to replace all the latches now as they are obviously starting to reach the end of their life cycle, but I think I’ll wait until I lose a couple more before doing that.
I have an idea for the top. The width and length is comparable to a ironing board. I’m planning on building a padded surface to use for pressing. It will save space as I won’t need to keep my ironing board out. I’m really excited to get this finished! I still have a lot of sanding to do, but I’m hoping to have it finished and installed by next weekend! I was going to try to paint the room first, but I think I’ll hold off on that. I need to get some time in on my sewing machine soon!!!
It all started when I got my new ball winder. I had a smaller, crappier one that would eat and break my wool if the ball was bigger than normal. It worked just fine when I was working on baby quilts and kept ripping out small balls of yarn, but I finally got sick of it and decided to upgrade. I placed an order at my local yarn store, Stix & Stones, and she kindly offered to resell my old ball winder for me. I wound up with half the cost of my new ball winder paid for!
The second stage happened when Stix & Stones got in a shipment of Black Cat Custom Yarn and as soon as I saw the colour Transmutation – I had to have it! I have mentioned my eldest niece before here. She (and by extension, my sister and her family) are currently working on controlling epilepsy that appeared in April 2018. The doctors aren’t sure what is causing it, which is normal for a large amount of epileptic patients. It can take some time to manage with medication and management can take even longer to do in children. In Canada, some conditions (like cancer) have colours associated to them for fundraising and identification purposes (cancer in general is yellow, breast cancer is pink). The colour for epilepsy is purple. I found out when my niece, who has been a pink princess girl since she could talk, announced that her favourite colour is suddenly purple. While the Transmutation yarn has many colours, including pink, the base colour is a rich royal purple that would be perfect for her. I thought this would make a perfect little sweater. You can see below that a it wound up in a range of beautiful colours when I wound it off my yarn swift. You’ll notice I took a ton of pictures – I found it so cool that this sweater appears to change colour based on the lighting!
I tend to get all my knitting and crochet patterns from Ravelry. I found the pattern I wanted on Ravelry for free, but when I followed the pattern to the designer’s website (KT and the Squid), she had it available for a small fee. If you remember from a previous blog, I like to support designers if I find the cost to be fiscally adequate. Maybe that’s not a fair reason, but it’s a reason I am comfortable with. I found the $3.50 USD (I think was the cost?) to be a fair price and bought the PDF version. You can find the pattern for free on her website if you like it!
This is technically a quick crochet. By technically, I meant that the body and one arm of the sweater were completed in the span of a weekend. When I got to the second arm, I had a horrible block. For five days … I crocheted the arm, realized I did it wrong, ripped it out, crocheted the arm wrong again, ripped it out, and went to bed mad. 😛 To be honest, I was watching TV while I did it, so while it was annoying, it was my own fault for not counting properly while I was doing it.
Once the sweater was made, I had the better part of a ball left over (the sweater required 2 balls with a third ball needed to do the second arm). What to do with the leftover wool … how about a sweater for her little sister’s toy Bear! I decided to do a first – make my own pattern! Plus, it gave me an excuse to pull my old doll out of my memories box (because I needed a model, of course!).
Once both sweaters were done, I decided to try my hand at blocking! I’ve never blocked before. Blocking is where you wash your wool projects, shape the wet project to the correct proportions, and let it dry. It’s a bit of a process, so I thought I’d use this project as a test to block. It took two full days for the sweaters to dry out. This is partially because of the time of year – here in mid-May, it’s a little cold and a little damp. The furnace is off for the summer (it’s not cold enough to need a furnace right now, just sort of grey and rainy), so the laundry isn’t drying out as fast as it would in the winter with the furnace or the summer in the sun.
Final step – sew on the buttons! I dug into my button collection to see if I had anything suitable. I found a beautiful burgundy-red big button for my niece’s sweater. I can’t remember where I found it, but I’ve always thought it was so pretty! For the toy sweater, I decided to use some pearlesque pink buttons that I’ve had in my button box since I was 8. Sometimes holding on to things pays off!
My Saturday class last week got bumped to this week, so I have two BoM classes this week (Thursday night and Saturday morning). It’s going to be a busy quilting week on my vacation week next week! YEAH VACATION TIME!!! I am bound and determine to get out on the lake next week. It’s going to be fridgedly cold, but I can’t wait any longer. In my books – it’s summertime!
Right from the outset, I want to say that I’m glad I did this pattern this way and I intend to finish it this way. You appreciate the easier ways and other people’s amazing work when you slog through it the hard way first.
I completely understand the appeal of applique now! 😀
Don’t be afraid of curved piecing. It is not that bad – just go slow! I will be doing more curved piecing in my future. The secret to curved piecing is using a small rotational cutter or scissors. So remember – I’m using a cardboard template. I can’t use the rotary cutter against the template as it bites into the the cardboard and changes the shape of the template. I traced around the template with a marker or chalk and used the small rotary cutter to cut along the line. The only issue with cutting the curved bits this way is that each piece is a slightly different size. If I were submitting this quilt for a competition, this would matter. Since it’s just for me, I don’t care!!! 😀
Something I need to be aware of when I do the next pieces is cutting the center for directional fabric. I cut this fabric the same way for each center. It didn’t really matter on this fabric because it points a bunch of directions and you can’t even tell. 😉
When cutting the outside charcoal bit, I made sure that the corners were square by lining them up on the square on my mat. Look at that orange colour pop in charcoal!
After assembling the blocks, I had to put my four test blocks together. In a traditional orange peel, they’re set to make a circle and the star or “wings” pattern comes through as a secondary pattern. Because I’m using several orange fabrics, I decided to make the alternate pattern called “Pixie Wings”. I use the same fabric to make the wing design and the orange peel design comes out of the “wings” getting put together.
This is where I started getting frustrated with the piecing. Getting two points to meet was terrible. Getting four points to meet evenly in the middle was miserable!!! I literally ripped this block apart six times and re-sewed it together. You can see from the back that all the attempts and extra thread botched any hope of having my usually nice spun centers.
Now to do at least three more!! 😀 I’d ultimately like to do more than just four blocks – 12 maybe, do a lap quilt. I won’t be able to do the whole thing just now for two reasons. First, I just don’t have the time to do more than that. There’s a Grandma quilt and a wedding quilt to get finished before the summer is over. Second, I don’t think I have enough of the background fabric for 12 squares ( I might be wrong, but I don’t think I am). If that’s the case, I’m going to find two more fabrics of similar colour and do a slightly scrappy look.
The quilt guild had a full schedule on Monday, so no extra blocks were assigned this month. That leaves me with a bit of time to try something extra special! Stay tuned!
One of my Block-of-the-Month classes is actually a Row-of-the-Month class. It’s hosted at a local library by The Cottage Quilter and we’re doing the Piper Girls’ row-by-row sampler.
This week, we were assigned the pinwheel row and some homework. Check out my pretty pinwheels! I’ve also included the other rows we have done to date.
The pinwheel row was actually Row #4. Kelly (our instructor) didn’t want to assign Row #3 until next week because it’s a new skill for most of the class (yaaay!! I’m not the only n00b!!) and she wants us to practice at home before doing it for real on the quilt. It’s called machine applique. It’s “machine” because you do it with your sewing machine and not by hand (which is what many people prefer). What is applique, you ask?
Applique is when you take a piece of fabric, cut out a design, and stitch it on to your quilt top. A lot of quilters make large portions of their quilts this way. I’ve never seen the appeal of it. I like doing piecing, not applique. And yes – I did do one bit of machine applique when I first started (as you can see above). My first issue was that the applique was a star. I have always had problems making star shapes and it has always bothered me, even as a small child. It looks wonky to me and I don’t like it. My second issue was that this was done back in … September? Maybe? I was still very new at quilting and I think I took on a little too much too soon.
I decided that my class practice is going to be a for-real practice … maybe. 😀 I got this beautiful fabric from Troll Brothers to make an orange peel quilt. As soon as I get around to picking out a background fabric, I intend to start! The problem with the orange peel design is that 90% of the patterns are an applique pattern. You can do a pieced orange peel block, but there aren’t a lot of tutorials because it’s curved piecing and I think most people prefer applique to curved piecing.
I have to veer off a bit at this point to talk about acquiring patterns. I try (whenever possible) to purchase a pattern instead of just looking at the design and doing it myself. It’s not that I can’t do that (and for husband’s quilt and niece’s quilt, they are my designs), but if I’m going to use someone else’s creativity to make a project, I’d like to compensate them for the effort. Plus, they’ve done all the maths to figure out the right sizes of things so you don’t wind up with pieces that don’t fit together.. 😀 I’ve been doing this more frequently with my knitting projects. The nice thing is that yarn patterns are usually only a few dollars on Ravelry.com. I only make … sorry, start (see last blog post) … a couple of things a year, so it doesn’t break the bank. Quilting patterns are different. The “professional” patterns can be quite expensive. You can often get blocks for free, but doing applique or curved piecing requires having a template of some sort. Ordering acrylic templates for this pattern has been a huge pain in the butt for me since the only places currently offering the orange peel templates are out of the US of A and the UK. I absolutely refuse to pay a foreigner’s tax (aka the import fees or duty) on something someone in Canada probably has for sale but I just can’t find. After 3 days of searching, I finally found an extremely old free paper pattern that has the templates included! In the spirit of doing the old thing, I cut out some cardboard using the paper pattern as a template and pulled out some test fabric to figure out what I want to do.
First, I made the curved piecing version. I don’t mind sewing curved piecing that much, but my scrap fabric decision made pressing the fabric a bit onerous. You’re supposed to press out away from the peel. Since my peel was a very dark fabric and my background was a very light, see-through fabric, there would be serious ghosting happening. Ghosting happens when you can see the seam right through the fabric – this is why most quilters press with the seam under the dark side – less chance for ghosting. When I do my quilt, though, I’ll be using a darker background fabric, so this won’t be a problem in the official version. The other issue was the cardboard template itself. Because I’m using a rotary cutter, I have to be very careful that I’m not accidentally trimming the cardboard. Not only does this dull the blade and make a mess, but it changes the size of the template over time. The last block might end up smaller than the first block. When I go to make my quilt, I will either need to invest in acrylic templates or mark the shapes from the cardboard template with a pen before cutting along the pen line.
With the curved test out of the way, we move on to the applique test. The interesting part is that these blocks will end up a little bigger because I’m not losing 1/4″ on each side of each piece to a seam allowance. It’s good to keep in mind.
I cut out the orange peel from scraps first, then I cut a couple of squares to use. I was going to go with scrap squares, but I thought it would be fun to play with the opposite dynamics by cutting squares from the original matching fabrics. I did make a mistake, though. You have to attach fabric stabilizer to the back of your applique pieces to give it some rigidity during sewing and to help keep the edges from fraying if you’re doing a raw-edge applique (more on that later). Usually, you attach the stabilizer to the fabric, then cut (so you don’t see the white stabilizer showing). I forgot to do this part, so I had to attach the cut pieces to stabilizer, then cut around the shapes with scissors. It wasn’t bad this time, but making this same mistake with the star applique was the part of the reason it started looking wonky. I was very careful about setting the pieces in the dead center with the same amount of background space on the mirrored sides. This isn’t super crucial because you can re-cut the block properly square afterwords, but I’m aiming for right the first time.I loaded up my bobbin with dark green and selected a yellow embroidery thread for the top. I’ve used it a little bit in the past – it comes up as a golden colour. It might not work out, but this is a test piece and I wanted to know how this thread will hold up on future projects (since I’ve got 6 spools of the stuff to use).
Note: I should have posted this blog last week in keeping with my one-a-week resolution, but this was as far as I got before my busy week and away-weekend ended my spare time. I did consider posting just this much, then decided to do a two-blog week so I could finish out this story. 🙂
My sewing machine has preset stitches specifically for machine applique. I didn’t know that when I made the star piece, so I made my life a little harder by having to manually set up my stitch type. This time, I just used my presets and it made life so much easier! I have three sizes for an applique satin stitch. In the samples, you will see me use sizes medium and small.
I started with the green-on-plaid piece under the medium satin stitch. The pictures should show why this is called a satin stitch – it looks soft and shiny when it’s done. After running for an inch or two with the default settings, I tightened up the stitch width to give it a bit more of that satiny sheen. In machine applique, the big challenge is points and turning corners. From the very limited reading I did on this (because why wouldn’t I want to learn the hard way with no pointers?? 😉 ), the two main ways of turning corners is to slowly walk around the point or to stitch slightly past the point, stitch backwards, turn the corner, stitch back again to get a sharpish point, then continue forwards. With green-on-plaid, I decided to try the walkaround method. From what I understand, the key to this method is making sure you always have your needle stop on the applique-side of the stitch, turn the fabric slightly, make another two stitches so you land back at the same spot on the applique side, and re-adjust again. You keep doing this until you are completely around the corner. As you can see, I needed a couple of attempts to get it looking okay.
Next up was the plaid-on-green with the small satin stitch. This was much harder as my margin for error with the edges of the applique piece was much tighter. With the medium stitch, all I had to do was make sure that the edge was somewhere between the two 1/8″ marks. This also allowed me to make a more gradual curve if my cuts were a little choppy (putting the interface on after cutting the shape only makes this worse). With the smaller stitch, I had to follow my cuts exactly. There are a couple of places where you can tell I didn’t schwoop very nicely in my cuts, but whatever – practice pieces! I also tried the back-and-forward corner method for the points this time. I think, in some ways, it actually works best with the small satin stitch because the tiny size hides the stitches a bit. In other ways, not so much – because stitch is so small, the edge of the applique was fraying a bit as I attempted to sink my stitches into the edge without having the applique fabric show on both sides of my stitches. At the corner, this fraying gets worse because I’m going back over it two extra times. Time will tell if the applique stands ups with the small stitch.
My two completed looks! I had already decided before stitching that I didn’t like the green-on-plaid near as well. The patterned piece just looks better as a focal point. I’m still glad I went ahead with it, though, because I learned something else. When stitching on the applique, the background fabric got a little warped. It’s not bad and it will almost completely vanish once the the block is stitched in place, but it is a lot more obvious that it’s happening when you use a pattern fabric as your background fabric. Learning things! I also think I prefer the look of the small stitch over the look of the medium stitch as it starts to take emphasis away from the applique. I can’t even begin to imagine how the “big” satin stitch would turn out! I want to make two more of these blocks so I can make a completed orange peel block – maybe I’ll try the big satin stitch on one of them, just to see!
Finally, I’m also glad I waited until after I got home before posting this because … I found the background fabric for my orange peel! Won’t it look nice with the charcoal grey?? I was in Ottawa, Ontario for the weekend visiting a friend and I made them pull over at a local fabric store (Sew For It) to see if I could find something. Good news – I found something! Bad news – there was only maybe 1/2 a meter left on the bolt. Not very much at all, maybe not even enough. I have to measure it out and see. I took what they had left just in case – worst case scenario, I’ll stash it and get something else. Oh darn. 😀 Because there’s so little of it, I will definitely be doing the curved piecing over the applique because I won’t have fabric to spare hiding under the orange peel. It was still worth doing the applique work just to learn how to do it. 🙂 No time is wasted time if you learn things!
You may want to keep Ugly Row in mind. I’ll be referring to Ugly Row whenever I reference this quilt.
The next row is called Holding Hands. I thought I’d take the chance to play with three colours, two of which are very close (we’ll call them medium pink and dark pink). The cutting went as follows: 2.5″ squares, 1.5″ squares, 2″x1.5″ rectangles, and 1″x1.5″ rectangles. Once all the cutting was done, I did not have enough for one last 1″x1.5″ rectangle of medium pink. No scraps big enough, no discarded pieces big enough, nothing. Sooo … I had to decide how I was going to replace the piece.
I briefly considered using the Fairy Lights scrap from the last blog post, but it was just way too different to be used in this block. My option was to use one of the dark pink squares or a new light pink square (that’s 3 pinks, for those of you counting) from my stash. I didn’t include a picture of the dark pink as it didn’t show up in the image. Using the dark pink made it look a last minute fill-in (Can’t have that!! 😀 ). The light pink looked quite nice, even though it’s significantly lighter. I decided to swap out the center square for the light pink and cut down the existing medium square into a smaller one to match the layout.
The first of three batches of holding hands. I thought the mix of light and dark pinks looked good at this stage, so I continued to make up the blocks. The piecing media of choice today was Youtube, watching how-to videos by Barnyard Bees. Husband decided on a new hobby for this summer – beekeeping! We’re going to attempt to make our own honey out at our wooded property this summer. I’m getting pretty excited!
Remember when I was talking about the design wall ideas and I had a brainwave?
Flannel on the clothes line!!!
I bought a hanging design wall by Fons and Porter. It’s meant to be strung up on a curtain rod and hung on the wall and is usually purchased for travelling or going on retreat. It’s also a lot cheaper than buying a piece of flannel of the same size, which was my original plan. I thought the clothes line was a rather clever, unique idea … turns out, most of the women in the guild used this as their starter wall . 😀 Oh well – nothing new under the sun. The line can drape closer to the deck, so I can weigh it down on windy days. On rainy days, I’ll just have to make do in the house or wait for the weather to turn nice again. And when the sewing room gets its coat of paint and mini renovation, I’m going to make this the window blind! Two birds, one stone!
I laid out my blocks and played around with the look of the mixed pinks on the row. I think this layout will work, although that light pink extra block really stands out. I’m still hoping for a miracle piece to appear in my stash …
And all together! The new row was a smidge small, making me think that I’d messed up by sewing my seams too large or something … Nope! I tucked the blocks in my pocket when I came in from outside and one block stuck to the flannel lining of my coat pocket. 😀 At least it was the end piece! I didn’t have to pull it all apart to fit the block in! Lining this row up with the others makes me think that Ugly Row isn’t so ugly after all – having the same colours show up in other rows in the quilt makes it fit a lot better. Maybe Ugly Row will make it to the final quilt?
What do you think of this project so far? Does the light pink square stand out too much? Do the medium and dark pink blend or clash? Does Ugly Row really just need to be eliminated? FYI – this quilt might just end up super ugly, despite everything we try. The next three available colours in my scrap protation are red, black, and white … scrappy-looking quilt indeed!!