Monday, April 24, 2017

Stash Sale

This weekend a nearby guild had a big stash sale. One of their founders, Marcie Lane, lost her fight with cancer last year, and they were selling her stash to raise funds for cancer care and research. Personally, I really like the idea of continuity in a stash sale. The room was packed, and every person there went home with a little of Marcie's legacy. I sincerely hope that when I am gone (you know, 40 or 50 years from now), my guild will sell off all my fabrics too.

Among other things, this bag of red and white fabric caught my eye:

When I lived in the States, I thought my obsession with red and white quilts was because I'm from Canada. But, here was a whole room full of Canadian quilters who had no problem walking right by this bag. So obviously, it's just me. Looking closer, I could see there were several applique patterns on freezer paper ironed onto the red fabric.

A red and white applique quilt, I thought. Nice! I added it to my pile, and sat down to wait for the checkout line to get shorter. I had a nice chat with Marcie's mom, who was also a Bob Ross fan. But the line didn't get any shorter, and I decided that I wasn't going to be able to wait. I put it all back and headed home.

While I was driving, I could not stop thinking about this quilt. I was sure that I could fuse the red to a light pieced background, and that would be nice. So, back I went! Almost one hour in line, but quilters always have plenty to talk about. ;)

At home, I opened the package and pulled out the other blocks. They started to look familiar:

That is such a distinctive block, and I realized that it is actually Aunt Millie's Garden by Piece o'Cake Designs. Fortunately, I already had the pattern:

A red and white version of Aunt Millie, I thought! But, now I am pretty sure that the big red squares were just the backgrounds, same as the original quilt, and marked in silver pencil for the placement of the applique:

And all that white fabric probably wasn't part of the project at all. There were 11 blocks in the package, so I think Marcie had already started one, and that ended up separated from the rest. It is funny that I assumed that Marcie was making it the way that I would want to make it, even though that was not the case at all!

But I still had to try my idea. I took off all Marcie's freezer paper, dug out an old roll of Steam-a-Seam, and covered the back with the fusible. Then I carefully cut out the applique following the silver pencil lines:

Snip, snip, snip...
The fabric is a thick, rich red hand dye, so fortunately there is no wrong side, and the fabric is very stable. My fusible, however, was old and not sticking very well, but I kept the mat underneath at all times, and I got there.

I laid it out again on my fabric, and fused it. My plan was to straight stitch the edge, rather than satin stitch or blanket stitch. Over at Indigo Threads, Sharon recently shared a photo of a quilt she'd made this way. The fabric frays a little at the edge after washing, and I really like the soft look it has.

I considered a matching red thread for the stitching, but then I decided orange would have more character. The stitch length is fairly short, about 1.75 on my machine, and I usually piece at 2.

The Aunt Millie pattern has little pieced circles in the centres. While I was cutting, I was reminded of how Hawaiian quilts are made, and I decided to fold and free cut the centre in a similar way. It is like a "maker's mark." Mine turned out fairly wonky...

...but I think it sets the right tone. I will try some different cuts on the other blocks. But for now, here's the finished block:

The red is so rich that it looks like velvet against the prints. I'm happy! I think I'll make 9 all together, and set them on point with alternate pieced blocks. It's all planned!

Since fusible applique is probably my future, I am glad this came together so well, and that I have eight more blocks to practice with. It was just the right degree of challenging, and I am interested to see how the next ones will turn out.

Now I have to find room for it in my project drawers... Just when I had it all neat and organized, a new project comes along!

(N.B. I went back to put in the link to the Bob Ross post, and I see that post links to the Piece o'Cake blog! Isn't it funny how some things seem to stick together?)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Moth in the Window

My grandmother used to say that if the first butterfly you saw in the spring was white, it was good luck. After a couple years of seeing yellow butterflies, I was happy to see a white one this year!

Mine was IRL (in real life), but maybe this block set the right tone. Yes, it's another new Bonnie Hunter project! This is Moth in the Window, from Bonnie's new book, Addicted to Scraps:

I know I've talked a lot about how Orca Bay will be my next new quilt, but I am still tweaking my plan for that. In the meantime, when Robert Kaufman announced that the Kona Color of the Year would be Pink Flamingo, I had a burning need to make a pink-based quilt. But in February, nobody had it in stock. And then I found this pink print from Blend, which is almost the same colour. It was discounted to about half the price of Kona (Kona is expensive in Canada) at a fabric outlet near here. Score!

Bonnie's Moth in the Window is made with plaid shirts and black sashing, and I love it. But, I had a feeling it would also look good with pink sashing. And, the simple two colour block is a great way to show off your fabrics.

I had the day free on my birthday recently, and I thought, what could be better than a new project? An hour with the calculator, a couple of hours moving heavy boxes in the basement, whittling down to about 60 fabrics, rough cutting them all, and by the end of the day, the first block made:

Most of my colour inspiration is coming from collections that Pat Bravo did for Art Gallery a few years ago, especially Indie. The three backgrounds above are all her fabrics. Even though the sashing is pink, I don't want the quilt to be too "bubblegum." I chose all the fabrics to coordinate with the sashing. Of course there is a little Kaffe too:

And I don't know how long that daisy floral has been in my stash. But aren't they awesome together? It is so fun to try out different combinations. Even the wilder blocks blend when they're all together:

This is just the start, there will be a lot more of the blue-greens to come. My original plan was to make 56 blocks, and use leftover squares for the border. Bonnie used HSTs in the border, but I still need at least 800 HSTs for my Cheddar and Indigo quilt, so I thought I'd just use squares. I sewed up some strip sets...

...but I decided yesterday that even in these nice fabrics, they will not do anything for the quilt. So now my plan is to make more blocks, hopefully 90, and just put 3" of the pink around the edge. Maybe there was a reason I never put all the fabric away again! Other than mere laziness...

Anyway, I am having a lot of fun with this, and now I have a project for the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies again! Come back on May 1 to see how much progress I've made.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rose Boll 9

So, it turns out that Prairie Star is too demanding to sew straight through. For a break, I've finally made a few more Rose Boll blocks:

This is my red and white version of Bonnie Hunter's Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll. You last saw it on New Year's Day. Since then I've been steadily making the 500 HSTs required. Now that's done and the blocks are coming together fairly quickly. It reminds me of a building project, where for the first half of the project it's just a big hole in the ground, and then all of a sudden it starts growing fast!

These rosy florals are so fun to work with. This dark pink is from Eleanor Burns' Forever Love collection.

I've also used a few fabrics from the Savannah Garden collection from Henry Glass. This red looks even better than I expected cut and sewn.

And this is the main Savannah Garden floral in white. I believe the ditsy red print is from my old LQS, now closed for many years, and the white on white blender too.

I had planned to make the whole quilt from stash. But, it turned out that I had plenty of cream florals, but none of the reds that I imagined. So, woe, a little online shopping was required. I lost my head at Missouri Star, but I'm certainly not having any regrets now! I like all kinds of fabric, but these florals feel like home.

I'll need 25 of these blocks. More to come!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Made by a Human

Moving forward with my new colourway for Judy Niemeyer's Prairie Star, the next step is the RS units, or "large corner spikes." I planned out my own cutting instructions, concentrated, and the first one turned out great. Here is the new yellow and white section, laid out with the flying geese and melon spike units that I made a few years ago:

It was a little tricky to manoeuvre the big paper section through the machine, but doable.

The whole project is very well designed, and the instructions are detailed. But, they do frequently say things like "After you pin the papers onto the fabric strips, take the strips and the papers to your machine," as if your cutting table and sewing table are different places. It is all the same table here! It really felt like you need a large, dedicated studio to follow the instructions, and I decided it would be easier to simplify the cutting and strip piece it, instead of using all the cutting templates. Strip piecing is also easier with prints. I measured off the pattern, and rough cut everything without even ironing the fabric:

I iron the strip just before I sew it on, since the iron is right beside me anyway. And then I iron the seam open. The advantage of the strip is that you can sew along either side, and you don't have to worry about the right side triangle or the left side triangle. Everything always fits.

Well...everything always fits as long as you stay focused! You still have to take care pinning the strip.

This is the one segment where the strip has to extend well past the end of the seam, and I forgot. Those are very tight, small stitches, and I didn't want to unpick it. So I cut off the far end of the strip, which was now too long, and sewed it to the short end, not through the paper. I think it did the job:

If I hadn't fixed it, there would have been just a tiny quarter-inch hole there. You can see the seam allowances through the white fabric, but to me that was better than the damage I would have done unpicking the seam.

Made by a human! Two done, six of these sections to go. I'm going to do my best to stick with it, because it's not an easy thing to set aside and come back to later. And the warm weather is coming, so I want to finish the top before it is too hot to sit next to the iron. Fingers crossed!
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