Showing posts with label Highlands Houses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Highlands Houses. Show all posts

Friday, August 22, 2014

Highlands Houses Finished

I've been debating whether I should put a question mark after "finished," but I think my little Highlands Houses quilt is done:

Highlands Houses, 19" x 19"

I started this quilt just under a year ago, when I rescued a plaid shirt that my Dad never wore from the donation pile:

It was one wrong turn after another with this quilt, and the challenges continued with the quilting! As a beginner free motion quilter, I decided to do a loose stipple with fine thread, and let the quilting fall into the background. My practice pieces looked reasonable, but it all went out the window once the real quilt was under the needle!

I learned that:

  1. Shirting is stretchier than regular quilting cotton.
  2. Paper pieced blocks are stretchier than traditionally pieced blocks, because the grains are not usually lined up.
So, there are a few bumps in the middle, and a few tucks under the binding, but at this point I'm going to call it a day and move on to the next project! 

The whole time I was quilting I had this song from Cathy Miller, The Singing Quilter, going through my head:

Three quilts done, a gazillion to go!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Machine!!

I've had my eye on this sewing machine since another Ontario quilter whose work I admire recommended it to me. A couple weeks ago I finally had the chance to drive up to That Sewing Place in Newmarket and give it a good trial. Needless to say, it came home with me after that! Isn't it beautiful?

You can see that my sewing table had a previous incarnation as a paint studio. But never mind, the machine is the Brother 1500S, which is a single stitch, high speed sewing machine. It has everything I want, including a needle down function and lots of workspace, and nothing I don't want, like a bunch of fancy stitches I'll never use. My old Janome still works well for those times I'll need the zig zag stitch. Although I am starting to think that will not be too often!

I was very lucky that the owner of the store, Jaret, who is an expert on this machine, was there to give me a complete lesson. Once I got home I was able to get it all threaded and set up without even cracking open the manual. It also comes with an extension table and a knee lift, which are not shown in the photo.


So far I've used it to piece the flannel parts of my snowmen blocks, I've done a little free motion quilting on the Homegrown placemats, and I've done some straight line quilting with the walking foot on Edward's quilt. It is really nice. When you get the free motion up to speed, the fabric positively glides under the needle. And the humongous walking foot is making easy work of Edward's wretched quilt. Plus, the machine will hold a full sized thread cone, which I really love.

So, no more excuses! I have a back log of projects that need quilting. Some are so old and long forgotten that I thought I'd post some photos with my to do list:

Homegrown kitchen set -- a little more FMQ in the centres and these will be ready for binding.
Edward's quilt -- long, long, long overdue, the straight line quilting on this quilt has been an ongoing nightmare. I used a new flannel sheet for the backing and the fluff goes everywhere, and it just keeps getting hung up for no apparent reason on my old machine. But the new machine copes beautifully!
It's Warm Inside -- I have some FMQ and an experimental quilting in sections technique to try on this one.
Hen Party -- I almost sent this out for quilting, but I had my own ideas that I wanted to try too. Now I can!
Highlands Houses -- my latest idea is to quilt this all over in a small clamshell pattern. I hope I can pull it off. :)
Spring Planting (aka the yoyo quilt) -- I think I finally have a way to quilt this monster. The yoyos make it very fat!

Since my WIP list has grown again, it seems appropriate to link up to WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network. Here's to a decent list of finishes in 2014!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Houses Flimsy

Today I was finally able to get back to my sewing machine and finish up the flimsy for my plaid houses. I've named it "Highlands Houses" in honour of the plaid.

The roofs turned out to be quite challenging when it came to matching the angled corners, even with the paper pieced units. They are not all up to our strict Ontario Building Code! The words "close enough" could be heard frequently around here last week.

I also want to show you how I paper pieced the chimney units. Since they are just a narrow strip, I decided to strip piece them on a paper foundation.

I drafted a foundation with solid sewing lines, and dotted cutting lines,

Sewed on my strips,

Trimmed up the block,

Cut along the dotted lines,

And voilĂ ! Nine skinny units. Click any of the photos to see them larger.
After considerable debate about how to quilt it, I have decided that just a simple machine stipple will be best. There are already plenty of lines with the plaid going this way and that, so I think just a few subtle curves will be the best way to keep it balanced. I'm not sure when that's going to happen, though! I really need to get my machine serviced again.

Regular readers may have noticed that I am off to a terrible start with my New Year's resolution. This quilt was both a UFO and entirely machine sewn! My resolution was not at all intended to be reverse psychology, but it has proven to be much harder to decide to let my UFOs go than I expected. So I will still tie up a few more loose ends this month. But, I did manage to start a new hand embroidery project as well last week, so you'll see that soon too.

Here's a final photo to see you on your way!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wrong Way

Previously on Lakeview Stitching....

Click here to catch up on the story so far.

So, I had mistakenly drafted the patterns for my houses backwards! Argh!

"Well, does it really matter?" I thought.

"Finish it in one day," I thought.

"Just keep going," I thought, and I made a start on the roof pieces:

I had decided right away that I wasn't going to worry if the grain was straight in the pieces, because that way insanity lies, but I did want the plaid in the roofs to follow the angle. I made myself a cutting template for the roof pieces to get the angle right, and I was rather amazed at how well it worked.

But, while I was sewing the roofs, doubt crept in. I was hoping to hang the finished quilt in my bedroom, and I didn't want to look at it every morning and think, "that's wrong." That wouldn't be a good way to start the day. I packed it up.

Then I started to see other quilts made from shirts around the blogosphere. Isn't it funny how that happens? Diane at Butterfly Threads made a lovely keepsake quilt for her mother from her father's shirts. I met a new quilter in The Great Canadian Blogathon, Ilene, who showed a wonderful quilt made from blue shirtings and red hearts.

So, I decided to start over with a correct pattern. There was enough fabric left if I went with a straight binding rather than the bias binding that I had originally planned. I labelled all the roof pieces above as "wrong," but saved them just in case I needed the fabric. The four front pieces went in the bin, because there was no way to reuse them.

I made all nine side pieces in one batch:

I could have used the old foundations for these, because the sides are the same either way. "Hold on," I thought. "the sides are the same either way! I could use these with both the right houses and the wrong houses. Five right, four wrong, the quilt is done, and I won't even have to cut any more fabric!"

I fished the first set of fronts out of the bin, which fortunately had nothing else too bad in it. I still had to pack it up again for the Christmas break, but for the past three days now I've been sewing steadily. I can't believe I thought I could do it in one day! Smaller isn't necessarily faster, I'm realizing. But, it's like it was meant to be this way all along -- not one wasted stitch.

The wrong way...

...and the right way...

...soon (hopefully) to be joined as one. :)

Monday, January 6, 2014


Back in October I rescued this shirt and another from my Dad's charity donation pile. I never saw him wear it. I think he really doesn't like plaid, but I love it! It's pure cotton with a textured weave in the solid red squares. "I'm sure I can do something with this," I thought. I put it in my washing pile and waited for inspiration to strike.

Less than two days later lightning struck and I thought it would make some super cute houses. Didn't I see something like that somewhere? Yes! Over at Paulette Doyle's Sweet P Quilting and Creations blog:

Wee Schoolhouses by Paulette Doyle

You can still see it in Paulette's sidebar, and she tells me it hangs with pride over her fireplace at home. Paulette's is wonderful with all the different reproduction fabrics, but I thought it would also look good in just two fabrics -- the red plaid and solid white.

I got out my trusty 1/4" graph paper and drafted it out. It is based on a 9 x 9 grid, so if each square is 1/2", the block will finish at 4 1/2". I added a door and an attic window to my design:

There was no way I was going to piece 1/2" strips from templates the way Paulette did, so I knew foundation paper piecing would be the best plan for me. A while ago I showed you my low tech method for drafting foundations with 1/4" graph paper. A few months later I read how Sue Garman uses the draw function in Microsoft Word to make her foundations. I have Microsoft PowerPoint, and I thought that would be even easier. It was!

You can set PowerPoint to "snap to grid" at 1/8" intervals, so it was easy to draw all the lines exactly where they needed to go. I printed out 9 copies on my Carol Doak Foundation Papers (which I quite like), and set them aside for the next day. "I bet I can finish the whole thing in one day," I said to myself. (Yes, I really said that.)

The next morning I cut apart the three units to get ready to start piecing, and I thought, wow, these are really small! Out came my ruler and sure enough, they were quite a bit smaller than they should be. It turns out that PowerPoint doesn't print to scale. Argh!

I saved the file in .pdf format and printed it again using Adobe Acrobat. It's still a little off, but close enough for this project. But it wouldn't work if you are combining paper piecing with traditional piecing. Acrobat usually prints perfectly, the problem lies with PowerPoint. So, NO, PowerPoint is not a good solution! I'm not sure how Word will behave for me, but I am going back to my tried and true graph paper.

(Update Feb. 2014 -- Actually I think PowerPoint does work. The trick is to save the pdf in Standard Publishing Format, not Online Publishing Format. I'll post a correction to my method soon!)

With that problem out of the way, I merrily started to sew. I had watched the Carol Doak video when it was available on The Quilt Show and I learned a couple of useful tricks. She production sews the same piece on several blocks at once, so I decided to do four in the first batch, and five in the second. I know I could have done all nine at once, but I wanted to give myself some leeway in case something went wrong.

Sharp paper piecers out there may have already caught it:

When you paper piece on a foundation, the finished block is the mirror image of the printed side. Everything I'd paper pieced before had been symmetrical, so I forgot to "flip" the image. My houses were going to face the wrong way! Noooo...

It's a cliffhanger! Read the next instalment right here.
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