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Archive for March 2012

It started about two years ago, a challenge among quilting friends (sadly, I don’t even recall what the challenge was).  It was also a good opportunity to try the leaders and enders that Bonnie K. Hunter recommends.  If you haven’t heard about leaders and enders, I recommend you read Bonnie’s blog on the subject.

I decided for the challenge I wanted to make a scrappy masculine feeling snowball quilt.  I had lots of 3″ squares, I could use.  I then started scrounging for 7″ squares.  Cut down some of the 10″ squares to get a 7″ and a few 3″.   So as I worked on other projects, I would stitch one of the 3″ squares to the 7″, and away I went.

At some point, I figured I’d better count how many completed blocks I had, and how many more of each (needed alternating dark and light blocks), I needed to complete.   I wanted to get this quilt done, so it became a non-leader/ender project.

A few weeks ago, I was in a position to start stitching the blocks together.  I think it was an Eleanor Burn’s video I saw that described how to piece the blocks together by columns, instead of stitching each row together.   This method you do not trim the blocks apart.  As you stitch all the columns together, the rows are “attached”, and you just pin and stitch them together.  I found it worked very well.  I had to unstitch some of the chain stitching, as my first 2 rows got twisted somehow.  Was easier to snip the chain stitching, instead of trying to untangle them.  Stitching the blocks together in this fashion works very quickly.

As I was finishing up the blocks, I started to realize I did not have a plan for the borders.  I wanted to carry on with the scrappy theme, and use from my stash.  I don’t have enough yardage of any one fabric.  But an idea started to form.  When I was stitching the blocks I added another line of stitching 1/2″ (approximately), from the required stitching line, then trimmed the Half SquareTriangles, to create them.   I was sure I would use them somewhere, sometime down the road.    I can use the “leftovers”.

The last couple of days, I’ve been trimming and pressing all those leftover pieces.  The smallest piece was about 2″, and the largest about 2 1/2″.  I decided to trim down to 2″.

Now that I have done that, I have not measured the top as it is now.  To be honest, I didn’t even square up the blocks, and I realize now I probably should have, but it is a scrappy quilt, and I’m not overly concerned if the seams match up or not.  The concern is the actual size of the top as it is now, and if it is “square”.  I think I may have a couple of wobbles in it.  Ah well, it is going to be a utility quilt, I think.  Something I can practice my Free-motion quilting with.

I decided I wanted to do a “floating” type border.  Now that I decided I was going to use those leftover pieces, I thought it would be neat to float them.  To me this means having the same colour of fabric pieced around the scrappy blocks, to make them as if they are floating on the border fabric.  Opened the stash cupboard to see what I had that would be appropriate.  Again thinking scrappy.  I didn’t have enough of anything really to work.  I did have some fabric, three pieces of that were all the same shade.   I took them out, pressed and trimmed to 2″.  I then happily sat down at my sewing machine, and proceeded to stitch the HSTs to the strips of fabric.  I cross-cut, and came up with another idea.

Design 1 on the left, Design 2 on the right

I wasn’t so sure now about the floating squares.  I had only really seen them on black fabric, and typically bright fabric was used.

Then I thought about stitching four of the stitched squares to each other, putting all the lights in the center for one unit, and darks in the center for the other, with a spacer of the border fabric between each unit.  This pattern copies the patterns of the blocks.  I had every intention of following that idea.

Design 2 on the left, design 3 on the right.

Then another idea hit me (Design 3).  What if I was to create the same design of the small triangles from the snow ball blocks.  Alternate the dark and light to create the same design, and then drop the spacers completely.  I could then mix up the border fabric to make is scrappy.  Granted, cutting them into 2″ squares is going to make a lot of work, but I think it will continue with the scrappy theme of the quilt.

Deisgn 1, Design 2 and Design 3.

So this is where I’m at.  The more I look at Design 3, the more I like it.  I think it is also called “Broken Dishes” block.  I will use the dark red strips for the inner and outer border, maybe I will piece 4 of the triangle units together (4 patch), and then when I have a pile of them, stitch to the border strip (width of fabric), and then crosscut.  The border pieces will then be 3 1/2″ long, or 3″ long when finished.  That way, I don’t have to cut 2″ squares, and try to get them aligned nicely.

I may have to throw in some “spacers” to get the borders to fit the top.  Or, maybe I will just trim the blocks to make it fit.  If they don’t line up, I’m okay with that too!’

So what do you think?  Would you have stuck with your first idea, or would you have let the creative juices flow, until something else came up.

-Alice

PS – I bet you didn’t expect a second post from me so quickly!  Me neither, but I wanted to share.  I have been feeling really good the last few days.  I can only work an hour or two at a time, but it feels good.  So I stitch, press, trim for a bit, then when I start to feel “it”, I go and rest for a few hours.  Then I’m back at it.  This process is doing me good.  Although the brain is still doing the “GO GO GO”, at least now I’m listening to the body and when it starts going “NO NO NO”, I’m stopping!

Thank you all for your comments.  Your support has definitely raised my spirits up!

So here I am!  Not much news on the quilting front, actually not much news on any front!

Thank you to Ruth, for giving me the much-needed boost to write.  I promised a little while ago, that I would share what I did with the label for the “Memories of Maui” quilt.  The photos have been sitting on the disc in the camera for, well lets just say, long enough!

Do you recall when I first started this quilt?  My first blog and photos of the “Hawaiian Quilt“.  I did a “close-up” (although I must admit, revisiting it, it is not much of a close-up).  I mentioned, I think, of having a bit of fun, and including some of the backing fabric into the blocks.  It made a meandering path of footprints from the bottom of the quilt to the top, on the left side of the quilt.  It was very clever of Shawn to include in the quilting footprints travelling up the quilt as well.

When I was delivering the quilt to Marie, she sent it back home with, and asked if I would do the label.  The plan was just using a piece of muslin, writing out the particulars, then stitching a border around the muslin using the fabric that was used for the binding, and the inner border.  That was the plan!

As I drove home a completely different idea took place.  I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I drew it out on paper.  Erased.  Redrew.  Erased again.  Redrew.  I did this a few times, until the design was just right!  Then I realized, I was going to have to figure out some way of transferring the idea from paper, to fabric!  What was I thinking!  My drawing skills are not the best, and I had to think about it for quite some time, on how I was going to take the design from paper and transfer the idea to fabric.  LOL.  I should have taken some photos of the drawings.

I have not done much machine applique, and again it was one of those things, I just jumped into without giving it too much forethought!  Its amazing what you can achieve, when you don’t think about it too much, and do not let your intimidation take hold.   I decided I wanted to use the satin stitch for the applique.  Of course, that made it so much easier!   I’ve used the satin stitch on other things, besides applique, so it was “easy”.  Did I mention that I don’t think applique is easy?  I know it needs more practice.  I just haven’t found much I wanted to do, to achieve the practice.

Oh, I had considered using my embroidery machine, but again, I haven’t had much practice with it either, and I wanted to use the KIS principle.  Keep It Simple

Here is the label!  I was so surprised, when I realized the fabric lined-up with the backing.  I turned it over and used the ladder stitch to stitch the label to the backing.

I traced my foot.  Have you ever noticed that tracing a foot, looks a lot different then a footprint?  I really didn’t like the shape, so I cleaned it up a bit.  I cut out the muslin foot print, and pressed a piece of freezer paper, so I could do the writing.  I had darkened the lines on some lined paper, and transferred those to the “dull” side of the freezer paper as a guide when I wrote the label information.  I cut a piece of Pellon Wonder Under and traced the foot outline, and applied it to the muslin.  I cut out the foot shape.  I then appliqued the foot shape to the fabric using the satin stitch.  I had decided to use the backing fabric to ‘hide and blend’ the label to the backing.

I have to mention this again, but I was so surprised that I could line up the label with the backing fabric to “hide and blend” the label even more.    I was very pleased with the results.

Marie was so tickled.  I had told her I kind of lost the little toe, and that someone had suggested I create a toe ring.  She said she would have loved that!  Oh well, if I had asked her, it wouldn’t have been a surprise.  I really enjoy making labels that are not “square”.  I like the whimsiness of using different shapes.

And I haven’t done this for a while!  Here is my challenge to you, if you choose to accept it!  If you have not made a unique shaped label, I challenge you to do so on a quilt.

Now for a personal update:  I am doing okay.  My 6 month scans were all clear.  It seems that I have chronic pain.  I have found that this has been very draining, but I am now taking medication so I can function.  I didn’t realize how debilitating pain could be.   I have been off work since the middle of December.  I just found it had become too much, and I wasn’t doing anything but working, even at only 3 days a week for 4 hours a day, I was resting when I wasn’t working.  I realized this is not what I wanted to do.  I needed more than just working in my life.  I think what brought it all to a head, was when my DD#2 really wanted to do some craft things with me for Christmas, and I just didn’t have the energy to do it.   The look of disappointment on her face broke my heart.  She understood, but I didn’t.   I am now working up to doing things I like.  I meet once a week with a quilting/sewing group.  That exhausts me too, but at least I am having fun!

I had my one year anniversary of my diagnosis.   I survived the week.  As a year ago, it was a week-long experience.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to react.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I think I prepared myself to look on the bright things.  At the Living With Cancer Support group they told me to celebrate and I did.  I made up for missing my birthday last year.  I hadn’t really thought of it at the time, but yes, I was diagnosed two days before my birthday.  I celebrated with 21 family and friends with a pot-luck dinner.  A friend (who has the same birthday as me) of my father’s had stopped by and asked what they could bring.  I had invited him and his wife to join us.  He plays in a band (bluegrass and country music), and asked if I would like them to play at the birthday party.  I was honoured, and told him I would love that.  The music was fabulous.   One of my friends from out-of-town gave me a book “Choosing to Smile” written by three British Columbian women about their lives with cancer.  The book was inspirational.  I didn’t know if I really wanted to read someone’s story about cancer, but I am glad I did.  I laughed, and I cried.   I hadn’t realized it, but for my journey, I have also chosen to smile.  And I will keep smiling.  Recovery is taking longer than I expected, but I am at this point in time, cancer free.  I am so thankful and grateful for all of you!  My “Hug Quilt” is on my bed, and every night I goto sleep with it tucked around me.

I have put together a project which I will be working on at my sewing group.  I just realized, I started this project two years ago.  It was a Leader/Ender project, and now it is coming together.  I am hoping to have all the blocks stitched together this week, which means another photo-op, and another blog post!

-Alice


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