Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's a rainy Saturday here, and I'm enjoying the fact that I have to stay inside and sew.  It's cosy and comfortable and I'm getting lots achieved.  Dolly is devestated of course, there will be no walk this afternoon, but she has a horror of getting rained on so she won't set foot outside.  Bed is the best place for her on days like this.

Last week I took my pile of blocks down to the workshop and photographed them, they look lovely in the sunlight. 
I like what I"ve done so far, the next lot of blocks will have a bit more brown in them instead of black, and I'll stay with the blue and green combination.  I've made 44 blocks so far, just over half way; I think I"ll be stitching away on these for quite some time.

I was using my Double Anvil blocks as leader-enders, but I got sick of the piles of madder and black and brown fabric everywhere, so I changed tack and went full steam ahead on them.  I can't seem to just sew one thing at a time, but at least I'm never bored.
 I've been watching a lot of Harry Potter, Transatlantic Sessions and Antiques Roadshow in the last few days, which helped me to get all the blocks made.  Now I'm puzzling over the right border to surround them.  I ruled out a single fabric early on, and decided I would like a pieced zigzag border.
 I tried two versions, and much as I love the dark one, it's just too heavy for this quilt. 
I'm pretty sure I'll be using the light zigzag with the black and red triangles, I just haven't decided which fabrics to use.  I could do scrap, but I very much want to have this cut out and stacked up ready to sew.  If I fiddle about with 54 different fabrics it will take ages and the mess will drive me nuts. 

This was a quilt designed to use up a lot of oddments from other projects, which it has done; I'm surprised at how much I like it, those strange large prints make it very interesting.  It's been so much fun to sew, I've really enjoyed it.  But any scraps are getting donated to Mereth; I won't let them be the start on another quilt in these colours, it's time to move on to the blues now.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I'm making good progress on the Log Cabin blocks, and enjoying every bit of it.  I've used up all the strips that were already cut, so I went through the stash and chose some of my favourite blues and greens.  I do love using blue  and green together, it's my favourite combination I think.

I'm up to 24 blocks, which build into 6 big blocks;

 I promise I will take a decent picture in sunlight, so the colours show up properly.  I'm getting hotspots from the lamps I'm using, next time we're in town I'm going to a lighting shop for some specialist bulbs.
I love this block, it's a Goldilocks block;  not too light, not too dark, not too dull, it's juuust right!
I can't keep my strips in neat little piles though.  I rummage through and find what I want, and then cut some more, and it's chaos.  I tidy up and it's neat until the next block gets made, and then they're flung all over the shop again.  It takes too much energy from me to keep them sorted.

Our trip to the beach was good fun. This is the newest member of John and Liz's family; his name is Khan, and he's a rescue dog. 
 He was found on the streets in Adelaide, very close to starvation, and rehomed.  That didn't work out though, as there were grandchildren that he wasn't comfortable with.  Liz literally saved him from death row; it was totally unplanned, but those things work out for the best sometimes.  He's a lovely dog, very friendly and responsive now, but he was a bit aggressive over food to begin with.  That's understandable, he was just skin and bones when Liz brought him home.  John worked hard to assimilate him into the family, and it's wonderful to see how they have bonded.  Khan takes all his cues from John, and is always watching him and looking for approval. 

It was very exciting at the beach, with six people and four dogs, and Khan got hysterical and shouted at John while they were playing. He was clearly getting a bit full of himself, so John grabbed his collar and made him calm down.

"Sorry Dad, won't happen again."

He can look quite wolfish; our guess is maybe a Belgian Shepherd, Collie cross? 
His growl is terrifying, which makes him a good watch dog, but his manners are pretty well perfect with us.  He must have been someone's pet before he ended up on the streets, he has such a beautiful nature and is very social.  Makes you wonder what his story is, but we'll never know.  It's been a pleasure to watch him put on weight and grow a new coat and realise that life isn't such a scary struggle any more.


Sunday, June 09, 2013

 There are quite a few different ways to sew LC blocks; foundation piecing over paper or cloth, chain piecing the units together onto a new strip, trimming after every round, making the last round oversize and trimming at the end.  I've made lots of Log Cabin quilts, and I've used all those methods.  My blocks always ended up too small and definitely not a square.  The only thing I hadn't tried was cutting each individual log to the correct size.  I thought, if I can get so wonky and out of shape with extra material, I'll really be in trouble if I only have 'enough' for each bit.  Look at this post on Fabric Therapy to see Log Cabin pieces arranged neatly, ready to be sewn.  I wondered if I could make myself be that organised...

Before I started making my Log Cabin blocks in earnest I did a little experiment. I cut all the exact pieces I would need for one block, and I pieced another one in the same fabrics by sewing the strip on and trimming it level with the edge of the rest of the block.

 I worked out all the measurements on a big sheet of graph paper, and kept it handy so I wouldn't get lost.

At the end I measured both blocks and was very surprised to find that the precut pieces had built into a Perfect 8.75" block, while the sew and trim one was wonky and too small. I thought I'd been extra careful, but it wasn't enough.  It just got away from me at the end.
 In the past I've always thought that it's too much trouble to precut everything, but constantly trimming and fudging and compensating is also hard work.  The precut pieces were much more enjoyable to sew, who would have guessed it!  For the first time ever, I'm going to precut all the pieces for my quilt, and be careful sewing them together, and I just might end up with blocks all the same size.

There was retail therapy during the week, a quick trip to the Jamestown patchwork shop.

 My DS has requested a quilt of grey, black and a touch of green, and knowing how much he dislikes printed fabric these Shadowplay fabrics will be just the thing to start with.  I think he would like batiks, so I'll be looking for anything suitable on our next trip to the city.  It's great to be able to shop with a mission in mind.

 Mereth and I always admire the batiks, and then reject them because we don't have a batik stash.  This time I made a desicion; on every trip to a patchwork shop I'm going to buy one piece of batik.  Over time they will mount up and become a stash, and it will have happened without any effort on my part.  These are the ones that came home with me on that trip; that wasn't hard at all!
I also bought these Westalee rulers to make Kaleidoscope blocks.  I had a couple of acrylic ruler for this shape at some stage, but I gave one to a friend, and the other is Lost.  I'll probably find it tomorrow, now that I"ve bought this set.
 However, the block that I whipped up in five minutes was darn near perfect, and so easy,  so I don't think I'm going to regret this at all.  I just may make the quilt for DS out of this pattern, it would be stunning in batiks and near- solids.
The Westalee rulers are an Australian success story, they won the Viewers Choice Grand Finale on  the ABC's New Inventors Show on July 2008.

It's a public holiday today, and there's been no time for sewing with the family here this weekend,  We're about to leave for the beach, with four dogs.  I hope Dolly doesn't find anything to roll in today....


Friday, June 07, 2013

Remember I mentioned Bonnie's antique Log Cabin quilts, and said I would like to sew one next?  
Well I've started already, and it's so much fun.  I'm going to base my quilt on this one, (photo by Bonnie), and I hope it's going to use up a lot of black and cadet blue and indigo scraps left over from other quilts.

I couldn't start this as soon as I finished Mitchell St, because of work committments, but I did a bit of research on different Log Cabin constructions while I waited.  This book is an oldie, but a good one, and it has a lovely Streak Of Lightning Log Cabin, made with two different blocks

 Beautiful stone wall in that there picture.
 The blocks are made the same way, but with different colouring; in one the dark logs are added first, and the light ones are added last. In the other block the light logs are added first, and the dark ones are added last.  If you study the layout you can see that this means there is a single dark log at the point of the zigzag; if all the blocks were coloured the same way there would be two logs of the same colour there.
Like this;
There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not as crisp a point as the one in the book.  I want to make the same Sunshine and Shadows arrangement as the antique quilt, but I'm not keen on the double logs where the blocks meet;
 Don't like the dark logs joining up like that, and the one below looks like there's too much light and not enough dark.
If I do two different colourings like the Streak of Lightning I'll end up with this arrangement;
but that looks skew-wiff to me.  I know most of you are wondering what I'm going on about, I'm sort of amazed that I can make such hard work of a simple Log Cabin. The quilt on Bonnie's site is so haphazard, she made blocks every way possible, and though I love it, I can't do it myself.   It would take too much effort to be that random.

 But there is a simple solution that suits me; sashing.
I can make all the blocks with the same colour placement, and when they are finished I'll sash them with random dark and light strips.  I think I'll put a tiny spot of colour as the cornerstone in the light area, either red or a cheddar.  Well that's my plan anyway, it may change later on, but it's where I'm starting from.

I found this picture in the archives, of a really intruiging Log Cabin. 
It must have been pieced with partial seams, and it would have been slower than an ordinary Log Cabin.  It looks amazing though, I'm just not sure it would be worth the extra effort.  But I almost want to have a go, just to work out the method;  I think anything is possible with hand piecing and patience.


Saturday, June 01, 2013

It's been raining for several days now,so gardening is out of the question. I've been sewing instead, and the Mitchell St blocks are finally in one piece. 

 I will try for a better photo tomorrow, if we get any sunshine.
I used a shirting for the sashing, and I love how the tiny grey and cheddar sprig looks next to the madders and browns and purples.
Tomorrow I will clear away all the madder fabrics and haul out the drawers of blue fabric.  It seems like years since I worked with my blues, and I feel the need to rummage around and cut some blocks from them.  I'll keep working on the UFOs as well, plus I have so many containers of scraps that need to be dealt with.  It's a never-ending job, trying to get the sewing room under control.

Our latest addition to the workroom is this steam generator.  We iron so many huge backings every week, and our old iron just gave up.  Hopefully this will help tame the crumpled backings our customers bring in.  It's pretty fearsome, and the steam fogs my glasses up instantly; it will take a bit of getting used to I think.

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