Monday, April 28, 2014

Fabric Field Trip

     What could be better than a fabric field trip with friends who are awesome quilters and help you pick out fabric? Nothing in my book. On Saturday, we took a trip to Penn Yan Sewing Machine (2 1/2 hours away) to deliver 4 machines for repair and pick one up. None of them were mine. However, just down the road is Golden Lake Fabrics, a Mennonite fabric store. You have to pay by cash or check, but the top of the line fabric is significantly less $$$. I bought batiks for a Judy Niemeyer quilt called Sea Urchin. It is my first attempt with her patterns. I have very talented friends who are going to help me cut this out. I did not realize it took so much fabric, so I could only afford to buy the background fabric and have to save up to buy the bright colors. All 3 of my friends pullled out fabric and helped me select it. 
    I also bought border fabric for my One Block Wonder quilt. They also helped me make, I think,  a great selection. More eyes help me look at more options critically.
    At Mt. Pleasant Quilting, I succumbed to a very unusual fabric from STOF for using in a bag. I don't want a tote, but bigger than a small bag. Have to find a pattern. 

Border fabric choices against top

Final Arrangement

Darks for Background choices
Really Funky Fabric, STOF from Denmark

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Leader and Ender quilt

    I thought I would make use out of all the 4 patch, 2.5" scraps, that I make as a leader/ender as per Bonnie Hunter. I have a lot of 4 patches now. First, at the beginning or end of each quilt I am piecing, I put 2, 2.5" squares, one dark, one light together through the machine. After pairs, I sew the pairs into 4 patches as leader/lenders. I decided I would fool around with graph paper and come up with something. I did and it required me to snowball 2.5" squares on two diagonal opposite sides of a 4.5" square. I made three sample blocks. Then, when doing my usual looking at quilt ideas on the net, I found out that this block is called Good Night Irene and there was an incredibly simple way to piece these besides the convoluted idea I had come up with. So, I ripped out the samples and made some of these. 
     I can't decide whether to make 4 or 5 blocks across. If I make 4, I need to put a border on the quilt. If 5, no border. I love borders, but I don't know which way to go so since I don't have enough blocks yet, it can simmer. I should look online to see how others do it so I don't try to reinvent the wheel again coming up with a square one. I cut 2.5" squares out of scraps people give me and sort them into light and dark and keep them in two small plastic containers next to the piecing machine, which is lately the Singer 15-91.

4 blocks across measure 32", 5 measure 40"
    My helper, quality control, has taken to laying on in progress FMQ by the machines. He is depositing much cat hair, so I put a scrap soft piece of fabric over the quilt to protect it, and he seems undeterred in his sleep. Saves all that cleaning off the fur before FMQ.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Inching along One Block Wonder

     I decided the layout and just went for it. I sewed the first two rows across and sewed them together. I put safety pins with tape numbers at the beginning of each row. Now, most of you are probably ace with pins, but pinning all the separate pieces, and sewing them (I chain pieced, alternating rows, two rows at time, bringing the next row after sewing the previous), was challenging. The pins kept falling out, I had to stop and straighten each one before sewing and it was slow. So I got this brainwave to use the glue basting method. 
     I set my ironing board right in front of the design wall and took down one row at a time, setting them in order on the board. I glued a thin line on the first piece, laid the second in place, pressed with a hot, dry iron, opened the second piece up, glue line on its edge and continued gluing all across the row. After gluing, I hung each strip row on the wall hanging vertically. After sewing the pieces, again chain piecing two rows at a time, I hung them on the other side of the design wall. No pins to fall out, just sew, everything laying absolutely on target. Now, I know it took time to glue them, but honestly, pinning and straightening have to take as long. I think I personally, was much more accurate with nothing slipping. I will pin the rows horizontally and not glue the seams then.
Seam in the middle of the photo is glued, ready for sewing
Ironing board set in front of design wall, forgot to take photo
when blocks were being glued
Glued rows waiting for sewing, safety pin row numbers at top

Two rows, individual pieces sewn in tandem, waiting for pinning to sew together

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sample blocks, trying on for size

     I have been collecting scraps from generous people and cutting them into either WOF (width of fabric) or smaller size scraps, 2 1/2, 3, 4, 5 and 6" squares. I love the 5" size, called charm square, so I have been searching for easy patterns to make for the comfort quilts. I love the disappearing nine patch. I made one kids print one, but the other prints made it busy, so I am trying a black and white plus kids print one. Unfortunately, I did not read the ebay listing correctly and bought 4" black and whites and have to cut new 4" blocks for the kids prints. So I will also need more blocks. Grrr.
Just needs binding
Closeup of FMQ

Two sample blocks of Disappearing nine patch, kids prints center,
black and white borders, 4" squares.
     Other samples I have tried are from dontcallmebetsy tutorials. I sewed the sweet girlie quilt and double flip HST blocks to try out using 5" squares. I like both of them so I need to buy some plain white for these. 

Sweet Girlie

Double Fip HST blocks, two arrangements

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wonder about one block wonders

      On Saturday, March 22nd, my quilt guild learned how to make the one block wonder quilt. A very generous member helped us every step of the way, as a group and separately. These are based on the book One Block Wonder Quilts by Maxine Rosenthal. I tried to photo the starting fabric and the resulting pieces. We are continuing to sew these, so eventually, I hope to have some quilt photos.
    The first set of photos shows the fabric chosen and a few blocks. You need to have 6 sets of repeats in a registered pile before cutting strips, and then triangles.
     This is what the quilt looks like when done, one example:
Cathy's excellent work

My fabric, one repeat
First try
Umpteenth try, maybe final
    Now, I will have the daunting task of sewing the rows together and not getting mixed up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Second Hudson River Valley workshop project

     For the next project, we were challenged to pick two colors we do not like and link them with a third. Uh, oh brain is not liking this process and is not cooperating. I chose grey and orange. A couple of wonderful women gave me some orange strips because I did not bring a color I did not like. The little store in the Inn had some greys fat quarters I bought. So, I cut up lots of strips and started sewing them together. Rayna recommended that I sew the orange ones really thin as it was not looking good. After staring at this for a long while, I thought of rock formations which I love. I started to arrange these pieces as a rock wall. 

First placement
Current placement at home
    This will take more work and careful arrangement, but I think it will go somewhere.
     Well, one of my goals this year to was to travel to a big deal workshop like this and learn. And so I did even though it was painful at times. I would love to show you the others' work, but I don't feel comfortable without their permission. Rayna has many of them on her blog,
     I wish I could have worked faster and caught on sooner, but I did it. I want to finish the grey orange one and start on a new piece, but I will work from my photos or a sketch next time. I definitely pushed outside my comfort zone and lived to blog about it.

Hudson River Valley Workshop and me

     Well, I can't put it off any longer, I will have to write about the workshop I took at the Hudson River Valley Artist's Retreat on March 29 - April 1st with Rayna Gillman. I had looked forward to this for a whole year. I have Rayna's books, so I knew her work. 
     We worked on improv type quilts. There were 12 students from all over the US and all of them were great people to be around at a workshop. They were sharing, kind, helpful and good at what they did. The accomodations are an old Bed and Breakfast Inn from 1889 and the studio is the old carriage house. We ate breakfast and dinners together. Watching the other people work taught me a lot. I always thought that I could do improv type quilting as I make art quilts. I found out that some ways of working are very difficult for me to think through. Our first work was to sew little pieces, like squares or scrap units. Then these units were put into a larger piece trying to find relationships to unite them. Trouble for me. I usually start my work with some composition or inspiration to hang the work on. No matter how many times I put the pieces on the design wall, I could not make sense of them without it looking like chop suey.
The carriage house/studio
Some of the units I made

Rayna's units, tiny
My units on the wall, larger

Trying to evaluate in B&W

More evaluate in B&W
Really trying

Not getting it
What I left with
What I have now after ripping out much of the top at home
     I am going to save the other project's photos for another post, because this is getting long.