Thursday, June 29, 2017

Purple for January

Since I'm starting the 2017 Rainbow Scrap Challenge halfway through the year, I've decided to go back to the beginning and fill in the months I've missed. The colour for January was purple.

It seems that I've gone back to my purple-blind ways, because there were only two purple scraps in my scrap box -- the birdcages and the Scottie dogs. Everything else was cut new from stash. And I used almost every purple fabric I have!

But, once I had these string sections made, I was really loving purple once again. The mix of purples is so juicy!

Now that I've properly read the instructions, these Talkin' Turkey blocks went together just fine. I really love the mix of techniques! It keeps me interested.

I also am finding that one colour at a time is a very efficient way to make blocks. My stash is mostly sorted by colour, so I only have to open one box. And when the blocks are done, it is easy to put the fabrics back again! Filing the fabrics back again is always the hardest part of stash maintenance. :D

The next RSC link up will be on Saturday, right here. I can't wait to learn the colour for July!

Saturday is also Canada's big 150th anniversary, so I think I'll do a red & white retrospective for that. No new project! I've been racking my brain, but, I haven't had any exciting new Canada-themed ideas. There are already plenty out there!

In the meantime, purple is done. February will be aqua, and the strings are already looking good!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Technicolor Turkey

After many years of resistance, this week I succumbed to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2017 (RSC17). My inspiration is Angela Neff's rainbow version of Bonnie Hunter's Talkin' Turkey quilt. Angela started hers in 2013, and the flimsy is here, in 2016. Sounds so familiar, doesn't it?

But, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I still believe that I can start halfway through the year, catch up, and finish by December 31!

I have not one, but two copies of the pattern:

So, the block should be a piece of cake, right? Well, I have to admit that I mainly buy patterns so that I can take a photo for the blog and support the designer. I don't need a pattern for a traditional block...I skimmed the instructions and jumped right in.

The RSC colour for June is yellow, and my plan called for four yellow blocks. The centre nine patches went fast...

...and then things started to go awry. I used Stable Stuff for the string foundations, with the plan to leave it in the final block. I have no photo, but this is exactly what happened. Déjà vu! Stable stuff is a pain to remove, but, I did it.

Then, I thought I would save a step and trim the string blocks after they were sewn onto the middle. The pattern said that I should have about a 1/4" extra all around. So why were my blocks coming out scant? Something must have happened with that Stable Stuff and all the ripping and ironing I had to do. I kept going, and with plenty of steam and firm ironing, my block finished just 1/8" short all around.

In the middle of that, my big iron died, and I had to press the last seams with my small travel iron.

At least I got one block done! I put everything away for the day. Then I thought, no wonder it was tricky -- those 6" nine patch blocks are 8.5" on point, not 9" like the pattern says. It must be a mistake! In both books?

I re-read the pattern. The instructions say to cut the nine patches at 2 + a fraction inches, and I assumed that fraction was 1/2. It is not. 2 1/2" is too small, so my nine patches were too small, and the whole block was doomed. Is it finally time to get eyeglasses?

The other three blocks were already cut, but I was able to sew a scant seam, and they came out right. The first, problem block is on the top right:

I'm lucky that the yellow is low contrast, so the problem is not obvious. I'm keeping that block! But, now I have about 100 beige 2 1/2" squares for a future project. Back to the cutting board!

Usually when I run into this many problems, I think that maybe I should pass on the project. But this time I am not deterred. All the problems are solved now, hopefully. I only want 36 blocks, and I think around 7 a month should be doable.

And you know, my old iron wasn't doing a great job with all the fusible applique anyway. I was constantly finding little unfused areas that were probably left by the steam holes. A new, flat-bottomed dry iron is on order!

Best of all, I've remembered that I start thinking I need glasses every June. Why? This dratted tree:

Japanese lilac tree
The city has planted these everywhere, they are all in bloom now, and my allergies are in high gear. By mid-July the world will be clear again.

So obviously, this was all the trees' fault. Certainly not mine.

For many other yellow blocks, and probably shorter stories too, check out the RSC link up, right here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sunflower Block

With all the ups and downs I've had on this project, this is the block that kept me going. I love sunflowers. And I have to say, it's very satisfying to finally see them coming to life!

The block is fused, but not stitched. The project is my adaptation of Nancy Rink's "In Remembrance," from her book El Camino Real.

Rink's blocks finish at 14" x 18" (36 x 46 cm). I have enlarged mine to finish at 20" x 24" (51 x 61 cm). This changed the proportions of the block to make it relatively a little wider. But, since there is no full size layout in the book, you have to figure it out yourself anyway. So, I decided to make it work better for me.

About a year ago I started to needleturn this block in the original size, and I found my prepped middles in the box with my fabric:

 I didn't get very far, only one is sewn! But, I liked the colours, so I used the same fabric combinations for my enlarged, fused, version. I put these back in the box for now. Maybe I will make a pillow later.

Anyway, that's five of nine now fused. You may click here to see all the previous posts on this project. Now there are four more vase arrangements left to do. It is a heap of fun!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

El Camino SoCal

And Not Wordless Either

I thought I was ready for my summer break, but, it turns out that I'm not. Last week I shared the start of this project, an adaptation of Nancy Rink's quilt In Remembrance, from her book El Camino Real.

I had a long list of challenges with this quilt, from how to make it to what to call it. "El Camino SoCal" is the best name I could come up with, a) to reference the book, and b) to capture the bright, flat, almost neon colours of the applique.

There has been a lot of private, offline hand wringing about how to approach this quilt. The first plan was to needleturn all the applique. But, it turned out that the Laura Gunn Painters' Canvas fabrics are pretty heavy for hand applique. So, I thought if I enlarged the pattern it would be easier to turn smooth curves. But, then I waffled about whether the quilt was for use, or for art. For art, it would be too big, and for use, it was going to be a lot of hand stitching for something that would have a reduced lifespan in the washing machine.

When I realized this year that I had to learn to fuse, this project suddenly transformed into something both feasible and practical. And I have to admit, fusible applique is probably a much better fit for me anyway. My favourite part of the process is the start -- designing or revising someone else's design, choosing the colours and fabrics and seeing how they work. A long slog once all the decisions are made is not something I enjoy.

So, as you see, two more blocks are already redesigned and fused. And, the first two are now stitched. I'm using the same straight stitch edging as my Aunt Millie project. This time I'm using 28 wt Aurifil cotton in dark red:

I had hoped that the heavier thread would make a heavier line, but honestly, I think I would get the same effect with 40 wt thread, and a more balanced stitch too.

I am quite happy, though, with the "exposed seams" look of the topstitching. You will laugh, but it reminds me of all the Issey Miyake designs that I used to love in the 1980s. Between the stitching and the neon colours, the 80s are strong in this quilt!

It is only for a few weeks a year that we get the setting sun shining up on the wall like this, so I am glad to take advantage of the light! It's nice when everything works out. :D

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Butterflies and Break

Butterflies, Bees
and Blogging Break

I have several photos today. It's time again for the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up, in support of awareness of butterfly and bee habitats. Earlier this month we made a visit to Hy-Hope Farm north of Pickering to stock up on butter tarts and take some photos. It is always photogenic there! Later in the summer they will have more local produce, but this time they had a great display of flower baskets.

They also have a working apple orchard:

So, that is plenty of work for the bees. The trees were just coming into bloom. Look at this one:

Isn't that cool? I've never really noticed that growth pattern before.

It is several years now since the City of Toronto, and a year later the rest of Ontario, banned chemical herbicides and pesticides. Now every spring the city is a sea of dandelions! But apparently, dandelions are good for bees:

So, in a few more years it may well be uncool to mow the lawn!

In quilting news, I managed to sew up another six Moth in the Window blocks, from the pattern in Addicted to Scraps by Bonnie Hunter:

That one on the top right there is very disappointing, given that both fabrics are very nice. But, I'm not going to redo it! This past week I think I have finally learned my lesson about contrast, as you will see in a bit.

The first time I shared this project in April, there was some discussion about whether my lucky white butterfly was a butterfly or a moth. I looked it up, and the answer is butterfly! But, it can still be a pest. :D  And the difference between butterflies and moths is interesting too.

For the past two years I've taken a 2+ month blogging break over the summer. This year I want to try some new things before it gets too hot, so I think I'll break earlier. I find it is easier to experiment with new techniques when I'm not worried about analyzing everything for my blog.

Yesterday I got this new book by Katie Pasquini Masopust, Artful Log Cabin Quilts, and this is going to be my first big distraction. The combination of improv-pieced log cabins and abstract art quilts is very appealing. I started a new project right away!

As you see, I did not make a strong start. There is not nearly enough contrast in here to make it worthwhile. I am amazed at how many fabrics I have in the exact same value of olive green!

But, the one smart thing I did was start with the corners of my project. So, I will keep them and improve the middle.

The book has a lot of information about what makes a good photo, particularly regarding the range of contrast. Sadly, I did not pay close attention. This was my starting photo:

These are the waterlilies that grow along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk in Algonquin Park. It seemed like a good plan, but now I realize there are too many flat areas of colour for this technique. Anyway, I think I can save it. And, I have quite a few more ideas after that...

So, I'm not going to post regularly this summer, but I may pop in once or twice. I have at least three projects that are very nearly done, including Picnic...

...which is quilted and just needs binding now. I'm sure I'll post them right away if they get finished!

In the meantime, check out all the other butterfly and bee photos, fabrics, projects and info at the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up, right here. Happy stitching!

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