Saturday, November 30, 2019

String Block Update

The other day I spent a good amount of time washing the ceiling and the upper parts of the walls in the kitchen and eating area. I did all of the areas that I needed a ladder to reach and I will finish the rest of the walls in a day or two. We are getting ready for painting and we are changing/adding some new light fixtures as well. I know it will make a big improvement in our kitchen but it is a lot of work and requires time and energy.

By the time I was finished for the day I was tuckered out and I knew I would be a bit stiff the next day. I thought that after all of my hard work I would reward myself by spending some time in my sewing room with a glass of red wine while piecing strings and watching QuiltCam videos on YouTube.

It was a wonderful way to wind down and I got seven blocks finished and six started with the first two strips down the center of the blocks. I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments for the day when I took my last sip of wine and I looked in the bottom of my glass and I saw a fruit fly...ugh! That's life I guess - there is always a fly in the lol

Over the past month I have added 48 more string blocks to the bin and I now have 171. For a quilt that is 65" x 80" I need a total of  208 blocks and I am not very far from that. I still haven't decided what size of quilt I will be making and I may go past the 208 mark unless I really feel the need to stop. I guess it all depends on how anxious I am to start a new string quilt. :)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Pretty Blocks

As I make these blocks I am putting them up on my design wall and I think it looks so pretty. I've been alternating between making both blocks and I have been chain piecing one after the other. I thought making the blocks this way would be much easier for me because the purple blocks do come together fairly easily but the blue blocks...not so much. They are fussy and tedious and I have to make sure that I get the hsts into the correct orientation. Let me tell you that doing so requires lots of focus and diligence!

After I took the photo I was sitting in my chair and admiring my design wall when I had an 'oh no' moment. Those blue blocks are a bit of a challenge to keep organized for sewing and the proof is on the design wall. What is that saying - 'pride comes before the fall'. :(

See that blue block in the upper left? I am going to have to fix that one little block segment in the outer edge on the left. Even though I have been trying to be careful I got that one turned around. I am glad that I saw it before I started sewing the blocks into groups. :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Almost Finished :)

I had some free time on Sunday morning and I thought I would use it to do some quilting. :)

I decided to work on a quilt top that would be a real quickie and I did get it done in a short quilting session.  I did a very simple and quick loopy loop design and it was fun to work on.

This very scrappy flimsy has been hanging around for quite some time waiting to be quilted and turned into a donation quilt. The flimsy was finished in early March and I think it had aged long enough!

A couple weeks ago I took some time to make and press the backing in anticipation of quilting  I still need to make the binding and get it stitched on and then it will be ready for donation.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Ready, Set, Go

I have everything ready now for assembly line piecing and that is my favourite way to piece blocks. I have gone ahead and chosen all of the block components for the aster blocks being very mindful to make sure I don't repeat any fabrics within the blocks other than those four little qsts. I have decided to match those within each individual block. We will see how my little plan goes because I have learned to expect some rebels. ;)

All of the purple fabrics are cut and ready to go for my Wild Goose Chase blocks as well.

I have made a couple sample blocks already so I know where I am going and I can't wait to get there!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Cheddarback - Block Set 6

I have had most of these blocks finished for a little while now but I didn't post about them because I needed to hand applique the heart onto the block in the lower right corner.

I kept putting it off but finally I did sit myself down to work on the applique and it actually didn't take very long at all. I used the back basting method and I only had one minor issue. The red fabric was so dark that even with a bright light it was hard to see the needle/thread holes to fold the fabric over for stitching. I solved that problem by running the point of a soapstone marker over what would be the fold line. It did help to highlight the fold/stitching line and the marks will be easily rubbed off. I also used some beautiful silk thread in my needle and it was a joy to stitch with. The inner points of my hearts are not deep but I think they are still identifiable as hearts.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Not So Fast

square on the left / flower-ish on the right
This is getting ridiculous - I have changed my aster block again! After looking at the latest block on my design wall for a bit I decided that it looked too square in the center and that is definitely not what a flower looks like.

Honest to goodness this is just a quilt block and eventually a quilt and NOT a life changing decision. Why I got so stuck on this I just don't know.
original block layout - all I see is the friendship star in the center
I think I have come up with a block design that is a little bit of both versions combined and I am going to just stick with the latest design - no matter what!

I think by adding the hsts back into the center of the block it makes it look more chaotic but also a little bit softer and not so squarish and maybe a little more flower like. Changing the position of the hsts also takes care of the friendship star that kept forming in the center of the block.

Can I move on now?????

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Another Version

It took a bit of time but I think I have figured out what was bothering me about the Double Aster Variation block and it wasn't just the distracting Friendship Star that formed in the center of the block. I think it was just too busy in the center with all of the hsts. I guess I have changed the block design completely because I have decided to use a nine patch in the center instead. I think it looks much more serene and I do like it better.

Here are my first two test blocks together. Both blocks are going to be made as controlled scrappy so the colours in the blocks will be similar to what is shown here but I will definitely be mixing up the fabrics.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Not Working....Maybe

I am trying to make a sample of the second block, Double Aster Variation, for my new quilt and it is just not working for me. I tried different fabric combos for the hsts in the center of the aster and I just don't like it. All I see is the Friendship Star that forms in the center of the block and I think it is too distracting from the overall look.

I have been putzing around with this block layout for a few days now and I just can't seem to make it work. I've tried changing positions of fabric - light in the center, dark in the center, etc., but it is all a no go. :(

I want to make this quilt with stash and I just don't want to buy any new fabric for it - I think it really is the challenge of using what I already have because, of course, buying fabric for a new quilt is so much fun to do. I know I will figure something out.

I had originally intended on making my blocks a gigantic 15" but in the end I changed it up and decided to go with 2.5" squares and hsts instead so my blocks will finish at 10".

This is crazy but I wrote this post first and then I added my photo and surprise...... it doesn't look too bad at all.

I am off to figure this block out!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Remembrance Day

Today is a solemn day - a day to reflect on the wonderful freedoms that we enjoy every single day and to remember those that fought for it. Freedom is never free.

Today I am thinking about a young man that I never knew but who served in WWI. My grandfather's brother, Victor Ernest Morgan Greenland died at the Battle of Lens on Aug 21, 1917 - the day before his 21st birthday. He was not married and did not have any children. His body was never recovered and he is memorialized at Vimy Memorial, France


He was so young that he barely even had a chance to live and yet he gave his life for our freedom.

Double Decision Made

Design for blue/teal/purple fabrics
The first quilt I am going to make is one that I created in EQ7 after seeing a picture of some quilt blocks in a magazine article and I thought they had potential. :)  I am using blues/teals, etc. for the asters and purples for the alternate block and it is already well underway.
blue/teal fabrics for aster block
I have most of my fabrics cut and ready to go and it is basically just a matter of sewing the blocks and then putting them all together into a quilt.
Design for pinks/oranges/green fabrics
I also plan to make a second quilt using the same design but it will be design option 3 - you can read how it came about here. For this version I plan on making the aster blocks with oranges/pinks and maybe some yellow and red. The alternate blocks will be green. I don't know when I will start this version but it has made it to my list of  'quilts to make soon' but it is not at the top of the list - yet. ;)

I am interested in seeing how using different colours/fabrics as well as this slight design change affect the overall look of the quilt.

Several years ago I had a desire to make a pink/orange quilt but I didn't have a design idea. I have been collecting fabrics since then and I took photos to show some examples. I think this will be the perfect quilt to use this colour scheme.

So much fun!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Love It!

It feels like this quilt top has come together so quickly. I did have a few bumps in the road with the seams splitting on the smaller stamp segments but in the end it all worked out. It reminded me that I should always check my tension if any changes have been made to my machine and adjust accordingly. That means not just a visual check, because the stitches did look great, but actually check by trying to separate the seams. If I had known to do that it really would have saved lots of time and energy and lessened the PITA factor.

I love the look of quilts that are made on point but I don't particularly like sewing those long rows. I love the results though so it was totally worth that very slight annoyance. :)

The setting triangles were cut just a bit oversize so I still need to trim the edges to 1/4" and give the top a good pressing but I won't do that until I am ready to quilt.

I am pretty sure that I am going to quilt it using a Baptist Fan panto but there is a small chance that I might try to do some custom quilting. I have time to decide because I still need to work out what to use for the backing fabric. I hope to make those decisions soon but in the meantime I guess it just needs to age for a bit before the quilting gets done.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Binding Done


I posted about having this quilt ready for binding quite some time ago but since then it has hung over the back of a dining room chair - waiting and waiting.

I woke up at 4am the other day and decided that it would be a nice quiet and relaxing thing to work on so I started in. I got about 2/3 finished before my index finger on my right hand started to feel the needle with every stitch. I haven't been doing much in the way of hand sewing and I have totally lost all of my sewing callouses. :(

I gave my finger a break for a day or so and then picked up the quilt again and finished the binding. I am so glad that I have finished this quilt and it is ready to be used and loved. My little quilt is a scrappy split nine patch and it finished at 59" x 71". A good size for a couch quilt I think.

I can't remember which thread I used on top (I wish I had written it down) but it was a neutral and I used light tan magnaglide in the bobbin. The batting I used is my favourite Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly.

I will be keeping this quilt because it is part of my custom quilting journey. This was my third attempt and I did free hand quilting as well as some ruler work and I used an original design. There are lots of imperfections but also lots of really good parts too. There were so many lessons learned with this quilt and overall I am quite pleased with it.

I thought I would show a photo that I took out of the back door yesterday morning - our first snowfall for the season. Let's just say the dogs weren't too thrilled but I always love seeing the first snowfall. Of course, after the first one I am totally over it!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cheddarback Quilt - Block Set 5

All I can say is wow! That 12" block was quite the doozy and it took me quite a bit of time to make. It is all inset seams and even though I did manage to get it together on my first try it was a real challenge. It did finish at the correct size but it was a little bit poofy in the center. I was able to smooth it all out by spritzing it with water and then carefully pressing it. Thank goodness for a hot iron and steam. ;)

When I finally had the block all finished I put it up on the design wall and I sat back to admire it. Grrr... I noticed something not quite right. See the corner section on the bottom right? The two striped sections were reversed and the colour of the stripe pattern doesn't match. I am not going to take it apart - that block was a lot of work and even with the slight boo boo I still feel very good about it. :)

My goal with this quilt is to use up some of my reproduction fabric scraps but this 12" block required larger quantities of single fabrics so I had to dip into my fat quarters.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Working on Block Sets

I love my pink fabric in this quilt and that is a good thing because there is a lot of it. :) I have cut all of the required pieces from the pink fabric including the setting triangles and I am now proceeding with sewing all of the smaller blocks into larger block sets. I love it when things start coming together. :)

I threw a few of the larger blocks onto the design wall to get an idea of how it will look and I think it looks yummy! The red fabric that I am using for the cornerstones is the same one that I plan to use for the cornerstones in my Cheddarback quilt.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A Word on Tension....

No, I don't mean stress but thread tension. I think I have figured out why the seams on my Postage Stamp blocks have been splitting when I didn't have this problem before - at least not to this extent.

When my Janome came back from service one of the first things I did was to make sure the thread tension looked balanced and that my stitches looked good and they did. So away I went on a sewing frenzy when it came to the strip piecing.

It was really disheartening to see my seams splitting on pretty much every segment that I had sewn together even when handling them with care. I changed the stitch length to a smaller size and racked my brain trying to think of what the problem could be.

I got it - finally. I think when the technician adjusted the tension and thread balance on my machine it was made too loose. I ran a test piece through the machine and when I tried to pull the two pieces of fabric apart I could see small gaps between the threads.

In order to get the thread tension correct I really needed to increase the tension on the bobbin - a lot. I was surprised because normally you would adjust the tension screw only slightly but I actually turned it probably a couple full revolutions. This is not normal! When I got it to where I thought it needed to be I adjusted the upper tension accordingly and loaded a bobbin with contrasting thread. I sewed some test samples and I fine tuned the upper tension using the contrasting thread to guide me.

My stitches look great, my test fabric looks great, and I no longer have the seam splitting issue. I sure wish I had thought about this sooner!!!!!!

Friday, November 1, 2019

String Blocks

additional 59 blocks
When I last posted about my string blocks it was early October and I had already made 64. I had also moved ahead and sewn them into pairs.

Since then I have made another 59 blocks - I am so impressed with myself.  :) I only work on these blocks when I want to sew but I don't really want to focus too hard on what I am doing. I think the only thing that can go wrong with these blocks for me is that I occasionally stitch a light corner to the dark side or vice versa. I just look at those little boo boos as seeds for another quilt. ;)

I recently realized that Lori from Humble Quilts was also working on string blocks - for the past 10 months and I didn't even clue in - and we are both using the streak of lightening layout. I really love the way she is making her blocks by consistently using the colour red as her first strip on the dark side. She was inspired by an antique quilt and both versions look amazing.

I have lots of strings in my bins so this may be another design to try and it has been duly added to my list. The strings hanging out in my bins don't do anyone any good unless they are turned into quilts!!!!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween last night. We only had 4 kids visit but I am not surprised. It was rainy and windy and not very pleasant - it was downright miserable. :(

As a matter of fact, when I got up to let the dogs out this morning I went out with them so I could walk around the house and make sure everything was okay. The winds were so ferocious during the night that I thought we would lose some shingles or some siding but it seems okay. My husband will go out later with binoculars to take a better look at the roof to see if any shingles took flight.