Monday, August 29, 2011

I had a cutting marathon on Sunday, stockpiling pieces so that I will be able to sew in any spare time this week. 

I cut more than 130 of the elongated hexagons, using the ruler and rotary cutter. The triangles I cut with  the Go cutter, and it made life so much easier.  I stood for hours, cutting the hexagons, and the triangles were done in minutes.  I'm rapt!
I've cut between a third and a half of the pieces needed, and I'll sew all those into blocks before I cut any more.  I will need to see how the colours look, and whether I need to add in specific colours or fabrics when I cut the rest of the blocks. They are so easy to piece, I usually do 10 at a time, and they mount up quickly.  I really like the way this looks so far.

Of course I can't stop fiddling with the different dies, and whipped up these two blocks just to test how accurate they were. 
I seem to have started a pink and brown set of blocks now; my subconcious is telling me to use up some of the three drawers of pink fabric.  I don't have any plan for these blocks, they are just experiments.  Whenever I want to try something out I'll keep using pink and brown , eventually I'll have enough blocks for a quilt.

Spring arrived last Thursday.  On Wednesday I was looking at the gardens around town and thinking 'Not long till Spring gets here..." and the next day everything seemed to have happened over night; daisies blooming, roses budding, butterflies dancing.  That's Spring all right.  I'm not ready to say goodbye to winter, but then I never am.  I just hope it's a nice mild summer like last year.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The dies for the Go cutter arrived last Monday, but I had such a busy week that I couldn't even  unpack them.  It made me work all the harder, knowing that when I finished my projects I would be able to play with my new toys.  So I hurried to fill a really big pattern order, and slaved away at a custom quilt, and by Friday afternoon I could afford some time off to unpack the box, cut up some fabric and put the cutter through it's paces.

This is the die that I really wanted.

It was an experimental die, and they took it off the website the day after I ordered it, so I was really lucky to get it.  I have to say that this HST die was the reason I decided to actually buy the cutter in the first place. I don't like the dies that cut the triangles in a long strip; there is too much waste that way.  But this group of triangles is very economical because they share sides with each other.  I'm really pleased with this, and it's going to be very useful.  If they get enough interest in this die it will be added to their catalogue, so I will leave  a message on their site telling them how much I approve of this design.  If you would like to buy one too, you could go tell them so that they know people want it.

The other die that I was waiting for was this one;
again, it's economical because the triangles are grouped together to minimise waste fabric.  It makes a triangle that works with the 2" finished HST die to make Flying Geese units.  I've made some FG units that turned out the correct size, and some Hourglass units that worked perfectly too.  I'm going to put this die to work cutting pieces for a Flying Geese scrap quilt.  I'll also be able to make Sawtooth Star blocks,
either cutting the squares with a rotary cutter, or with the die that came with the Go.

Even Mereth is happily cutting pieces with the cutter and planning how she can use them.  It's not as accurate as she likes, so she will only use the units for things where that doesn't matter so much.  I'm not such a stickler for accuracy, I just fudge and fiddle, so I don't really mind if the odd piece is a smidgeon too small.  I make inaccurate cuts with the rotary cutter too, so it's all par for the course.

I have triangles everywhere, and none of them required any thought or effort to cut.  I'm really enjoying myself with my new toy.

The tree guys were having fun with their toys too, including a chainsaw on a 12' pole. 
I would hate to think how much trouble I could get into with things like that.  Good thing they did it all.  The bobcat guy showed up on Friday to do his bit, and now I have a site prepared. 
With any luck I should have my shed within a fortnight, fingers crossed.....


Saturday, August 20, 2011

My elongated hexagon quilt is coming along slowly.  I've had a couple of major cutting sessions, so there are pieces to sew when I have time.  I fine-tuned the cutting of the hexagons, so that they would all come out the same size, and I worked out the best way to press all those seam allowances.  I've sewn a couple of trial rows together, to make sure that it all fitted. 

Now I will have to get busy and cut up a mountain of more fabric, because I need 324 of these blocks if I want to reproduce the size of the antique one (90" x 82"). 

I ended up making the units 3" x 7.5" finished, so I won't need as many as the original (390 !), I would rather have the units a little larger to show off some of the prints that I'm including.  The photo in the book shows a lot of plaids and homespuns and stripes, and while I'll include some of those, I don't want it to read like a farm quilt.  I want mine to look a bit more like a town quilt than a country quilt.

This would be a lovely quilt to handpiece, the only thing stopping me is the thought of having to trace all those shapes onto fabric; I just don't have enough time in the day to add that little extra step.  Maybe one day I will have some more free time to spend on simple little chores like that.

I spent yesterday in the garden, potting and repotting flowers that are just itching for spring to get here so they can grow out of their pots all over again.  I've been longing for years to have a garden on my own land, and this year I will finally be able to do that. Last week a team of guys came and shifted the fence on the side block back to the true boundary, giving me another 4m of land that my neighbour was borrowing. 
Next week a guy is coming to take out three or four trees, clearing the way for another guy to prepare the site for a shed.  Then yet another set of guys will construct a 7m x 6m shed for me.  Once all that is done, I can survey what's left of the block and decide where to put garden beds and replacement trees.  It's all very exciting, but it doesn't seem real, especially as it's taken 8 months to get this far.

And the shed?  I haven't decided what is going in there yet.  I could set it up as a little flat, with a kitchen and laundry and bathroom, leaving the front room of the hall free to become a classroom and shop again.  I could invest in another quilting machine, and maybe have the shop back there, but no room to teach.  I may even be able to rent a house, so I could have the new machine and the classroom and shop.  But it's all undecided as yet.  Still, it's nice to have some options and new directions to go in.

Dolly and Pippi really love having a larger yard to explore, and more gound to dig into enormous holes and mountains.  I can't wait to get all this cleaned up and sorted out.  My word for this year was Onward!  And that's where we're going now.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It was a hectic weekend, but in a good way.

First up, DD Seonaid arrived on Wednesday for a few days off.  By sheer good luck Mereth's DS1 John was in town, and we had a wonderful family get together with our brother and sister-in-law.  Lots of laughter and good food.
On Saturday it was the Crystal Brook show, and we spent an enjoyable morning visiting the exhibits and the vendors. 
I even went up on the Ferris wheel with Seonaid; the last time we did this she was 7 years old, and gave me a heart attack by kneeling on the seat and hanging over the edge.  That was the last ride I took her on!  The seats in this ferris wheel had railings, making it much safer, and she's way more sensible now.
We left at midday and drove to Adelaide, meeting up again with John and Liz, for an appointment with Harry Potter. 
I really enjoyed the film, but I was sad that it was the end of the series; it felt like the end of an era.  Now we will wait till the final one is released on DVD, and then we can have our own marathon of Harry Potter.

Honestly, is this year's crop of films more than usually idiotic?  The trailers were just rubbish, nothing that I could even be bribed to see.  Absolute bunkum.

While we were at John's place he insisted we watch an episode of Hoarders.   Truly, we're not as bad as those people, we just have  a lot more fabric than the average quilter.  And it's all stored neatly, so what is wrong with that?  Nothing, but I'm still going to get rid of a lot of my scraps and older pieces, mainly to make room for new purchases.  I've fallen off the No-Buy wagon this year, so I will have to downsize to accommodate the new arrivals.

In between work projects I've been cutting and sewing HSTs made with the Go cutter.
I'm having fun with it, and the finished units are accummulating rapidly, with hardly any work on my part; got to love that!
I don't know what I'll use these for, so they will just sit in the drawer for now; when I have a good idea for a quilt that uses lots of 2" finished HSTs I'll be all set to start churning out the blocks.


Monday, August 08, 2011

I said in my last post that I was a Gadgeteer, and today my biggest gadget purchase arrived.

I've wanted one of these for ages, but I couldn't really convince myself that it was necessary, or an economical way to cut shapes. Then I saw that there are new die shapes that combine the pieces with very little wastage, and that decided it for me. The die that comes with the cutter is OK, but I don't know that I'll use it much, once my other dies arrive from the US. It's very wasteful if you cut all the shapes from one big piece, and too fiddly to position individual scraps of fabric over each shape.  However, it's all I've got, so I'm playing with it.

I cut enough pieces for 12 HSTs with each pass, and built up a satisfying stack of pieces in no time at all.
  Now I'll sew them all, and see how accurate they are.  I'm quite erratic with my rotary cutting at times, so all I'm looking for is an acceptable degree of accuray; I'm used to fudging.  Mereth took a stack home to sew on her machine; if she likes them we'll have a big scrap cutting session one weekend.

A year ago I was tempted, but didn't buy the Accuquilt Go; 12 months later I'm thinking that it can save my wrists from the pain of a lot of rotary cutting, make life easier on my hands and eyes, and get me off my feet during long cutting sessions.  Some days it just hurts all over to stand at the cutting table; I must be getting old.

A die cutter can't replace a rotary cutter in my sewing room, but I hope that it will be useful for all the repetitive fiddly bits that are so tiring on the hands and eyes.  And I certainly hope it helps reduce the stack of scraps laying around!

I've been doing a bit of sewing, trying to find the perfect measurement for the elongated hexagon quilt.
This is close, but I'll try again with an extra 1/2" in the height;  It probably won't make a lot of diference, but the proportions will be closer to the original in the book.  It's lots of fun to sew, I'm looking forward to getting this underway soon.

I've decided to pack away all the distracting bits and pieces that I use as leader-enders, and just sew some 16-patches.  I've always wanted to make this quilt, in a 1985 Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts.
It's so simple to whip up the 6" blocks, I think they will work well as a secondary project.

The weather is cold and rainy again, which makes working in the garden undesirable.  I limit my gardening to picking the latest flowers, including lots of daffodils and jonquils.  Pulling up weeds can wait for a nice sunny day.


Monday, August 01, 2011

I'm torn between finishing some longterm projects or starting something new, just for fun.  My conscience is telling me to deal with an existing project, and yet I'm relentlessly drawn to working on a new pattern.  It doesn't help that I've been shopping online for all sorts of things, templates and rulers and books and gadgets.  I'm a Gadgeteer through and through.

I've wanted to do this quilt for years, (in Massachusetts Quilts) but I knew I couldn't face doing it with flippy corners.

The other day I came across this ruler, and I couldn't resist.
I got mine from here, but there are Aussie sellers as well.

It will make short work of cutting these blocks, and the test blocks I made were super-accurate.  It's all I can do not to abandon everything else and start cutting like a mad thing. I need to fine tune the dimensions so that they are similar to the quilt in the book, skinnier and longer than the trial ones. I don't think I'll be able to relegate this to a leader-ender, it will have to be centre stage. 

I have lots of other things to use as leader-enders, the problem is I keep changing them, so I don't make much progress.  I need to buckle down and concentrate on one thing.  Bonnie has just started a new quilt and I love the antique quilt she's reproducing.  I save  all my 2.5" scraplets too, and I think this would be a great way to turn them into blocks. I think I"ll be adding this to my list of ideas.

But before I do any of those things I must clean up my sewing table and cutting table; I'm overwhelmed by the mess, so I wouldn't really enjoy pulling out more fabrics with the room in it's current state. A tidy up is in order. 

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