Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My gadgeteering continues unchecked; I don't have to have new fabric from every range, but I do tend to succumb to things that I think might make quilting a bit easier.  Soon after I discovered how much fun the Log Cabin blocks were I decided I would always have a Log Cabin project on the go.  THere are so many variations, like Courthouse Steps, it would take a long time for me to exhaust all the possibilities.  I love the 3/4" finished strips, but cutting them is time consuming, so I purchased a die for the Go cutter. 

It cuts 7 1.25" strips at a time, and with up to 6 layers that means 42 strips in a single pass.  I immediately cut up handfuls of scraps, and it was so much fun,
I had to restrain myself from sending a couple of FQs through too. 
 I'm very happy with it; I got mine from an Australian stockist here but she doesn't have another one listed just yet. 

I've also bought a few speciality rulers too, for when I can drag myself away from the Log Cabin blocks.  I want to make a Flying Geese quilt, but wasn't looking forward to keeping all those units the same size.  These little Bloc Loc trimming guides should make things easy, but I haven't had time to try them yet.  I can usually keep my Geese around about the same size, but I like the idea of rescuing the bodgy ones by trimming them down to size. 

I bought this ruler on a whim, it's to cut different sizes of triangles-in-a-square.
 I haven't had a chance to use this either, but I have a feeling that it will be used to cut a dogtooth border very soon.  I like these units, but I've never had any luck getting mine to stay the right size.  Hopefully this will do the trick.

The Log Cabin blocks are up to 70 completed, and I'm going to make another 10, lay them out on the design wall and see if it should be one quilt or two.  I have had so much fun with them, I really don't want to stop; it will only take an extra 16 blocks to make the two single bed quilts, and I could do that in a weekend.  Decisions, decisions......
I have no idea what my next major project will be, I'm being drawn towards my pink and brown fabrics, but the blues are clamouring for attention too.  Not to mention all the old UFOs that should be tackled.  We are having a family get-together this weekend, so I don't imagine I will get any sewing done at all, which gives me lots of time to think about it and make an informed, rational decision.  Or maybe go off on a tangent and start something unexpected; who knows.

I have four bindings to do before the weekend, 3 on customer quilts and one for my daughter.  That's not going to leave much spare time; I won't ever be bored, there's just too much to do.

Last weekend we went to Telowie beach, and it was the first time we've been there just after high tide.  There was still no water, but the sand was really soggy, and there were puddles quite close to the parking area. There was also a small channel flowing strongly, right at the entrance to the beach; for some inexplicable reason these two teenagers tried to drive their car across it. 

What amazes me is that someone always shows up who is willing to help.  A man in a 4wheel drive pulled them out backwards with a rope, while John and another guy pushed to get those front wheels unstuck.  It would have been easier if the girl driver had realised sooner that she had the hand brake on...sheesh!


Friday, July 26, 2013

The plaid quilt is in one piece now, and I reeeaally love it.

 I made the corners that way because I didn't want to have plain butted corners and I couldn't be bothered mitering them, so I added those little HSTs.

I'm working on the pieced backing, trying to use up scraps left over, and once that is done the plaids will be packed  away in a much smaller box; when I've collected a new lot I'll make Plaid No2.

It's back to the Log Cabins this weekend, I'm getting sick of the material for that lying around in untidy piles so I cut out enough pieces for the next 20 blocks. 
I have 50 finished and 20 in various stages, and the end is in sight for this project too.  I daren't think about what to do next, in case I get sidetracked and abandon it again.  I'm so flighty.

On Monday we went to Jamestown to get a backing for a customer, and pick up some tablets from the vet.  We walked the dogs on the oval, where some other people were playing with their dog.  Dolly had to be persuaded that stealing an English Mastiff's soccer ball was not such a good idea.  She was convinced she could take on a dog five times her size, and I would have taken photos except I had my hands full of a defiant little madam at the time.  She's so obsessed with soccer balls, she would run through fire to get one. 

The batik stash is growing slowly, I don't have enough to fill even a small basket, but it's a beginning.  I will enjoy choosing each piece over time, and eventually the time will be right to start a quilt.  It won't be for a while yet, which is a good thing; I have plenty to be going on with.

We stopped at the opshop in a neighbouring town, and I bought this canvaswork picture for $1. 

It's professionally framed, with a double matt and thick glass, and on the back it has a 1959 date. 
The stitching is beautiful, very evenly done  and in perfect condition.  I know most people don't value this sort of thing, but a dollar?  All that work and artistry, for $1.  It's going to live in the workroom and be admired from now on.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

It was a busy week, followed by a busy weekend.  The highlight of the week was Wednesday, when we went in to have tea with John and Liz, and then watched the State of Origin rugby on their TV.  Neither Mereth nor I have TV, and don't often feel the lack of one; we've watched the two previous games at our friend Deb's place.  She was away though, so we pleaded with Liz to be allowed to watch it there.  Their TV has never had sport showing on it, so we rather sullied the record that night.

Go Queensland!!!!
It was a brilliant match, resulting in lots of screaming from us, which startled Khan so much he took refuge with John.  I don't know that we'll be invited back there.....
 Sorry Khan.

I spent nearly all the weekend sewing, and sewing and sewing.  I was enjoying the plaid blocks so much that I just couldn't stop.  I stayed up till 4am on Friday night, which was really silly, but I loved every minute of it. And then I sewed all Saturday as well.  The top is in one piece now, and just needs the borders attached, sometime today, and then it can go in the pile for quilting.
I'll make a strippy backing for it, and that will be the plaid drawer emptied.

 While I was piecing I  realised the main reason why I didn't include more of these fabrics on my quilts.  The ones from the early days, in the 90s and early 00s, were a very loose weave, not good quality at all.  I bought them because there was nothing else available, and I loved the effect of them , but it was really hard to use them with normal quality quilt fabric.
The green fabric is nice quality, the gold one is pretty dreadful, very loose weave and lots of flaws in the weaving.
 The red and green plaid was the worst, there were actual holes in it; I used the best bits, as the colours are nice, but a lot of it went in the bin.

It's not that I won't buy plaid in the future, but it will have to be good quality from now on.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Plaid Explosion

First off, let me say that I have never been so glad to be wrong about something.  Telstra DID connect me to ADSL-2, and it IS working, and I am so relieved and happy about that.  It is such a relief to be able to get my email and answer it, without my connection failing several times.  And now I can watch YouTube videos, and download stuff, and upload lots of photos in my blogposts.  Happy Happy.  I still have to wade through 1500 emails that built up in my absence, but I'm getting through them slowly.  What a coincidence that my Word of the Year was Connect; in the internet sense, I'm well connected.

I cleaned up my sewing room, packed away the madder scraps and fabric drawers, folded the quilt top and hung it on a clothes airer; I'm not ready to put it away in a drawer just yet, I love looking at it and admiring the colours.  Also, I have to find a backing for it, so I'm leaving it out to remind me to do that.

An empty design wall makes me slightly delerious with all the possibilities;  but I was strong willed, and faithfully put up all the Log Cabin blocks so that I could Work On Them.  Make Some Progress!

But then I thought, hmmmm, maybe I don't want this to be a big quilt.  I like the look of those 12 big blocks, just like they are. Maybe I want this to be two single bed quilts, with pieced borders; not the same borders, maybe squares on point for one, and triangles for another? So I was instantly paralysed with that decision, and needed to think on it some more.

To help me make up my mind, I cut up all my plaid material.  Sigh......
It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I blame Accuquilt; the Go cutter made it so simple, I was hypnotised by how quickly the piles of FQs became piles of pieces.  I didn't attempt to minimise the waste, or save anything precious; I just cut it all up.

All I wanted to do was feed more fabric through, and add to this snowstorm of triangles.  The blocks are so cute though, I just had to make some, and then I went and cut up even more fabric.
I think I overdid it a bit, but I really wanted to just get rid of all the plaid I'd been storing for years, and never used.  All this time I've been promising myself a plaid quilt, and this it IT.  Once it's done, I won't have much left at all, and that's OK.
 Some of these lengths will go into the backing and border.
These scraps will be chopped up for the scrap bins.
These are a few FQs that I didn't think would look wonderful in the quilt I had in mind, but I just may include them anyway; or store them in the main stash drawers.
 If I can survive all this time without using the plaid I have, then I'll survive just fine without any plaid at all.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Progress report

I'm looking forward to the weekend, so I can make some progress on organising the sewing space.  Every time I clean up one area the sewing room gets full of stuff that doesn't have a home.  I want to spend time rationalising things, and making permanent spots for the floating population of various items.  There is rain forecast for the two days, so it will be good to stay inside and work with a clear conscience.

I've been trying to get a good photo of the finished top, but this is the best I can do. Those bright yellow bits in the middle are reallly a deep caramel colour, but you get the idea.

It doesn't have a name yet either, I'll have to invent one for it.  I call the block Double Anvil, but I already have a quilt by that name, so this needs something different.  Now that I have a photo of it I can fold it away and put up the Log Cabin blocks that have languished untouched for over a week.

I'm determined to start something with all my plaids, and I've chosen a simple block that will use big bits and little bits.  I can cut this block with the Accuquilt, which will speed things up a lot.
 To make matters confusing, the EQ name listed is Road To California, which was also the name for the madder blocks, and the two are nothing alike.  Looks like I'll have to come up with a name for this while I'm at it.
I like the way it looks with just the blocks next to each other, but if I use sashing then that will get rid of a length of plaid all in one hit.  I have a lot of plaid.

I've been without internet for nearly 10 days, after the router stopped working.  That necessitated some long convoluted  phonecalls to Telstra, being tranferred from department to department trying to find a solution.  According to them, I can have ADSL at my place, so they are sending a technician out.  The problem I have with that is that I have to sign up for the 24 month period, before they will send a technician out to see it I actually am able to have internet here.  At every step of the way, and every person I talked to, I made sure they made a note on the order that I would be able to cancel the whole thing without penalty if, as was the case last time, they can't really connect me to the net here. 

I have no great hopes, but it's worth the fuss if only it were true, and I could have ADSL-2 here.  That would make my life so much easier.  If I can't get it, I will have to go shopping for another mobile solution to my problems.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Border tryouts

While I was choosing the border for the Double Anvil quilt I made quite a few units  in other colour ways.  Once I could visualise what something would look like, but now I need to make a sample and look at it for a while before I decide if that's really what I want. 

 There are usually multiple attempts, so I've accumulated a box of border samples, and I keep them all stored away for future use.
If I think a quilt might need a border of squares on point, I pull out my box and try all the samples strings of squares. 
They are all different sizes, and that helps give me an idea of what scale I want the border to be, and whether I want the squares dark or light. 
The colours aren't important, I'm just checking what sizes might work.  If I put them on my design wall and take a photo I can convert it to black and white, so all I'm seeing is the overall effect, without the distraction of jarring colours.
I have strips of double pink and red and green and mustard and cheddar and sky blue, so I can audition colours for small borders without dragging out lengths of fabric.
I even have a couple of sets of strips for borders, that I cut and changed my mind about.  I can quickly audition them as well.
I have sets of triple sashing that I can experiment with too, in three colourways.
I've tried out a few of these zigzags too.
And there are lots of HST variations to play with;
there are so many ways to put these together, I'm glad I have a lot of them so I can try several things at once.

These 6 patches are discards from an old abandoned project; rather than put them in the orphan box I can use them to make a quick checkerboard border.
I really don't mind having all these bits and pieces, but after the last effort I think I need a bigger box!


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Third time lucky

Some quilts just go together without any trouble at all, and others.....  Well, let's just say I'm making things far more complicated than they need to be.

It's interesting that this quilt is taking so long to tell me what it wants, or maybe I'm just not listening.  It started off with the idea of a zigzag border.

But not this one.

Or this one.

Apparently this was what the quilt wanted all along, and I just went off on a couple of side-tracks. 
I don't really mind the false starts, especially as I think I can use the second border on another existing quilt top.  But the time it's taken to get to this point is annoying, I could have had this finished a week ago.  Oh well, a week isn't much in the grand scheme of things.

I'm enjoying the process of calculating the border repeats, and how big that inner border should be.It's slow quilting, and it's a lovely change from the make-it-quick mentality I usually have.


Monday, July 01, 2013

Log Cabins old and new

Recently I went through the cabinet containing most of my tops awaiting quilting, and found my first ever quilt.

This was made in 1974 or 75, entirely from dress making scraps, with the exception of a little remnant I bought when I ran out scraps.  I made it for my mum, as a surprise, and she loved it and used it for 20 or more years.  It wasn't properly quilted, so I took it back and pulled the layers apart, intending to get it quilted and returned to her, but that didn't happen.  It's still on my list of  Things That Must Be Done, but it's not anywhere near the top.

I sewed the scraps to a foundation of old sheets that had belonged to my great-grandmother; Mum pulled them out of the rag pile for me, but had no idea what I was doing with them.  I worked out a grid of guidelines for the block and made a master pattern, then traced it onto all the foundations.  It was a lot of work, but even at 16 I could work obsessively at something. I tore the sheets to make the squares, which wasn't really accurate, so there was a lot of fudging when it was time to sew the blocks together.
And I really should have adjusted the stitch length to something a little smaller....
and ended the threads off properly.....
However, this little top has seen a lot of service and never fell apart, so even if it wasn't well-made, at least it was made.  It makes me feel very nostalgic for my patchwork beginnings, while I sew my latest Log Cabin blocks together.  I seem to have improved somewhat.

My internet is being flaky again, hence my lack of posting.  I've also been babysitting a friend's farm while she and her hubby had a much needed holiday. 
My job was to look after the 30odd chooks, and her precious cats, which I managed to do. 
This mama hen hatched out 10 babies while I was there, but she wouldn't get up so I could take a picture of them.  
I loved collecting the still warm eggs in the morning, but I really don't feel any affection for chickens. Eggs yes, I love eggs, but my friend can deal with the chickens, which suits the both of us just fine.

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