Showing posts with label Hourglass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hourglass. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nettie is a Top

The "wild jumble" from my design wall has been tamed:

It should be around 62" x 80" (157 cm x 203 cm), but I haven't measured it. Everything fit, so that seemed good to me! I'd forgotten how much easier it is to assemble a quilt with sashing in between the blocks. Hardly any seams to match!

To compare my layout with the inspiration quilt by Nettie Young, click here. Nettie made 15 blocks in a 3 x 5 layout. I developed my layout based on my memory of hers, rather than while looking at the photo. And every time I ended up with those two columns of dark cornerstones that she has, it seemed like a mistake. I thought it would be more balanced to have at least 3 cornerstones across the row. So that is why I increased the number of blocks to 24 in a 4 x 6 layout, and cut them down to 10" finished.

The original 12" block, with the centre seams cut out and reassembled to 10"

I made 896 hourglasses for the original, all-hourglass plan. I still have at least 500 left. But, I am going to send them to the basement for at least a year! Hopefully some new idea for them will sprout after a good long rest.

The first AHIQ challenge was for a Chinese Coins design, and I don't really consider this as a fit for that. I just liked the layout in the Nettie Young quilt. The second challenge is for a two block quilt, and I have a legitimate two block design planned. Is it improv if it's planned? I would say yes.

And I've already started it! It's going to be very modern indeed:

5 grey fabrics.

Solid fabrics in a range of turquoise and green.

So, totally different. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Wide Sashing

It's time for the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies once again, and no, this is not Moth in the Window, as previously promised.  The only progress on Moth has been that I decided I didn't want to make 90 blocks after all. My original plan was for 56 blocks, and all the fabric was carefully chosen and balanced, and I feel like it will go off track if I add to it now. I think the best plan will be to skip the border, and make it throw-sized.

Right now I am full steam ahead on my improv hourglass project, "Nettie." All 24 blocks are finished, including this tricky zig zag block:

I actually sliced the hourglasses in half to make flying geese, and then re-assembled as you see here. I won't lie, it took a while. But, I love it!

Last time I theorized that wide sashing would fix all my concerns with the dense hourglass blocks. Today I cut all the sashing, including that butterfly fabric above:

And, I put it up on the wall:

Now, I debated whether to show this photo or not, because it looks like a wild jumble. But I am really, really happy with it, and for now you will just have to trust me. It works, and it will calm down when it's all sewn together.

Hopefully that won't be too much longer, because I already have a finished design for the next AHIQ challenge, a two block quilt. But I refuse to start it until Nettie here is a finished top.

Back in March I was actually worried that I didn't have any new projects in the works! But, with Moth in the Window, Aunt Millie, this new solution for the hourglasses, and the two block quilt waiting in the wings, I think things are back to normal around here!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Stuck and Unstuck

On Thursday we had a brief thunderstorm, and then the best sunset so far this year:

Inside, I've been wondering what to do for AHIQ. Yes,

What to do

 Last time you saw my hourglasses project, it looked like this:

I thought I was off to a good start with these big brick shaped blocks, and I spent a long day earlier this month making one more...

...and one big word:

I was very happy with the word, and ok with the block, but at the end of the day I was feeling like things were on the wrong track. I was trying to combine two projects into one, but that wasn't working. So my first decision was to save the word for later and focus on the hourglasses for now.

Now what? One day I was looking at the patio stones, and I thought it would be good to sew my bricks together into big squares, and still have the narrow green sashing I wanted before. But then I never got around to it.

Then last week I started my new Aunt Millie project, and that whole thing just fell together so naturally. Most of the quilt is already cut. Yesterday I was admiring it, and I really liked the simple and light feel that it has.

Aha! Light. I realized right then that my hourglasses were too dense and heavy. And cumbersome. Thank goodness I didn't sew the blocks together into even heavier sections! In fact, I realized that heaviness has been my problem with this quilt from almost the very beginning. I tried to change the construction method, I tried to lighten up the colours, but nothing really helped.

What I needed were smaller blocks, with wide sashing to let them breathe. I cut my big blocks in half:

And as soon as I thought of wide sashing, I thought of this quilt, Stacked Bricks, by Gee's Bend quilter Nettie Young. Back in January Ann shared this link as part of the kick off for her Chinese Coins improv challenge, and it really spoke to me. I did some math and thought about fabrics, but the time wasn't right. I've found, though, that once I start thinking about a quilt, eventually it will see the light of day, in one form or another. My plan is to use these blocks, in that layout.

My existing blocks were about 13" square, and I wanted to get them down to about 10.5" unfinished. I tightened up all the rows, and then gave them a final trim around. They're not totally exciting, but they work.

I'm banking more on the full effect at the end, rather than the individual blocks.

But, I also still had another setting idea to try for the hourglasses. It is a lot easier to make the smaller blocks! And I'm very pleased with this layout. This one is weighted to the dark fabrics...

...and this one is weighted to the light fabrics. I like them both.

I also started to take more care matching the fabrics. When I started I had the idea that it had to be random. Now I've realized that the main thing is not to get bogged down in decision making, and just look for nice combinations as I go along. I think I finally have some traction on this quilt!

I've already named it "Nettie." And, since it's also going to be Modern Utility Quilt #3 in my continuing series, I'm going to use some of this:

Riley Blake made this printed gingham in 11 colours, and I have them all. I used the red and orange in MUQ#1, Picnic, and the yellow in MUQ#2, Sunshine. So, I guess there is still room to run with these for a while. Although, there is a brown gingham and a navy gingham that are both pretty ugly. But, that is a challenge for another time!

Right now, please check out all the other improv links for AHIQ this month. And if you are inspired by the next challenge, anyone can join in!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Decision Time

More HSTs for Hanami

I am not a good multi-tasker, but this winter I needed about 2000 HSTs for three projects, and that is a lot of repetitive work. (About half are done now.) So, I downloaded some of Pat Sloan's podcasts from All People Quilt. There was a great interview with Gwen Marston on February 6, which I recommend. What's the difference between liberated quilting and improv quilting? None. There is no difference, says Gwen. I love her common sense approach!

I also enjoyed Pat's discussion with Linda Thielfoldt in the same podcast. Linda has been cleaning out her studio, and has some helpful thoughts on how to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go.

Since I finished Hen Party I've been thinking that it's time to stop jumping on every shiny project that comes along, and to get real about what the quilt is for, and how it will be used. So, I've pared things down to two basic categories:
  1. Quilts for Use -- throw quilts and bed quilts
  2. Quilts for Art -- wall quilts
When I thought about my requirements for those two categories, several of my projects started to change, and some dropped away. Quilts for Use have to be durable and not too precious, with no fragile embroidery or applique. Quilts for Art, on the other hand, have to be non-trivial, there has to be something special about them. And, they have to be smaller! There is nowhere in our house where you can hang a bed sized quilt on the wall.

Improv quilts will work well in both categories. My Gwennie Medallion is something that I will be quite happy to hang on the wall...

...when it's done. ;) One of a kind, original, graphic -- improv sounds like art to me.

Two recent projects are going to the orphan block box. The first is the half scale version of Brinton Hall that I started for my guild challenge:

I just don't think this will hold its own as an art piece. You have to be very close to see the embroidery, and when you stand back it feels drab. Plus, I still have the big one for the bed.

The second one to bite the dust is the 150 Canadian Women quilt along, which is not feeling good to me any more. 30 blocks are done:

I was not thrilled when I realized that this quilt was excluding important women in Canadian history, such as Laura Secord and Elizabeth Simcoe, because they were not born in Canada. I admit I did not read that part of the introduction very carefully! But last week's inclusion of Helen MacMurchy was the final straw for me.

The challenge of history is that when you go back far enough, you will almost always find something unpalatable by today's standards. MacMurchy was a significant figure for women's rights in Canada, so I understand why she was chosen. But she is not my choice, she does not represent the Canada that I want to live in going forward, and I don't think it is sufficient to say "those were the times then." This would be a quilt that I am making today, for the future. I don't want to spend the rest of the year turning over rocks in Canadian history, and making excuses for inexcusable things, so I'm going to let this one go.

On a brighter and completely different note, I've implemented a new plan for all my hourglass blocks. Last time you saw this project, I was sewing the hourglasses as leaders and enders on Allietare. That worked great, and all 896 of them were finished last year. BUT...

...the vast majority of them still required trimming. And I baulked.

I think I made a big mistake when I decided to make a large, time consuming project from fabrics I didn't like. For six months I've been thinking of ways to make it nicer. Different settings, applique... nothing seemed worth the effort.

Then last week I was thinking deep thoughts about improv, and I thought it could be a great solution for the hourglasses. Before I could change my mind again, I started to sew:

I just sewed together the untrimmed hourglasses, and used scissors to clean up the seam allowances. It turned out that a row of eight untrimmed hourglasses was about the same length as nine trimmed ones. I like those offset rows quite a bit!

My "plan" is to play around with different settings of the hourglasses, and make brick-shaped blocks like this. I've been admiring the green in Kaja's latest work, and I think I'll use something similar for narrow sashing between the big bricks. We'll see!

I've been keeping some of the hourglasses in a project box on top of my wardrobe, for "easy access."

This has been the situation for six months. Maybe there has been some creation going on up there when I wasn't looking! The Improv box has some of my early improv letters and words, and I've decided to stick them in this quilt with the hourglasses too. Would the embroidered roses from the Brinton mini work as well? Probably not, but we'll see.

Anyway, I'm still aiming for queen sized with this quilt. I like it so much better now, that even the fabrics don't seem so bad!

And I'm glad to be back at AHIQ. Please check out everyone else's work at the link up right here.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Allietare Golds

Well, it's Thursday, not Monday, but Week 3 of Bonnie Hunter's 2015-16 Mystery Quilt, Allietare, is now wrapped up! I had hoped to spend last Sunday finishing the remaining four patches, but I developed some tendonitis in my shoulder. I've found the best cure is to do nothing at all, which is challenging, but it worked and I am better now.

It seems like I get this every year at this time. I used to think it was from hand sewing, but I've realized that it's the computer that's the problem, and sewing is just the collateral. Then I wondered, why do I spend more time on the computer at this time of year? I realized the answer is too much online shopping! So there's a lesson in there somewhere. :D

I was happy to be working with all the Kaffe golds, ochres and umbers this week. They were my main inspiration for this project, so it was nice to finally use them. A lot of Kaffe's older designs used this palette, so I've been using up some long time stash inhabitants... this gold Lotus Leaf. I love that combination of gold with chalky pink! I bought most of these in long quarters (9" x 42"), and they were a tangled nightmare to wash. They all frayed down to about 8.5". I'll never buy a long quarter again!

For this week's clue, where all the cuts are multiples of 2", it made the most sense to cut across in short 2" x 8.5" strips. And with a tricky large print like this, I thought it would be easiest to manage if I made the four patches from the same two fabrics, rather than random fabrics like Bonnie suggests.

So they just naturally came out in matching sets of four. Maybe I can do something interesting with that down the road, maybe not!

I had hoped that we would be sewing the golds together with our constant fabric, which is my blue batik. The blue would have helped my browner fabrics seem more gold:

We're only halfway, so I guess there's still time for that!

I think I missed the boat on that aqua and taupe four patch on the left there. But otherwise, the big prints work as long as there is enough contrast between the fabrics.

Last time I forgot to show you my black squares...

...which I decided to cut all from the same fabric. I didn't have a lot of suitable black in my stash, so most of it will be from this red hearts fabric. It just seemed easier to cut them all the same.

This week we had to cut 36 large light rectangles, and I decided to cut them all from the same fabric too:

They feel like they will be sashings or borders, so I think that will look good.

And finally, last week I finished the first step on all my hourglass leaders and enders. Now I've started on step two:

I'm amazed at how fast this moves along! I had 300 or so sets left when I started in late October. At this rate they could be done by the end of January, with no extra effort at all. In fact, I miss them right away if I sit down to sew and I forgot to take them out. Now I'm thinking of a new project for when these are done.

The Week 4 Allietare clue comes out tomorrow, and I think a reasonable goal will be to finish it by Thursday, not Monday! My Week 2 post was too late for the link up, so if you missed it you can find it here. And of course, you can see everyone else's Week 3 results right here. We're half way, and I seem to be sorting out the challenges and keeping up, so, woo hoo! Bring it on. :D

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Letters, Leaders & Enders

Here's a shot of our maples in the late day sun last week. It was windy, which is why it's a little blurry. This week it's been either sunny and windy, or dark and rainy, so this is the best I've been able to do. This year their colour has been the best ever, which I think is partly due to the dry summer. But mainly I think it's because they are getting a lot more light since we cut down the ash trees that were damaged in the 2013 ice storm.

The moon was up early too:

Yesterday it was really dark all day, so I was happy to be inside and working on my next batch of improv letters:

I was going to put them together today, but here I am blogging instead, so it may not happen!

I also decided this week to see if I can add a leaders & enders project into the mix. Bonnie Hunter has a good description of the process here. I've avoided an L&E project up until now, because I didn't want to sacrifice the quality of my main piece by being distracted by a second project. But with all the short seams in this project (and also in My Country House), I've been using up a lot of thread anchors, so I thought I would try it.

For about an hour I wondered which new project I could start that would be appropriate, until I remembered my hourglass quilt! I ran out of steam on this project in early 2014, because it is super boring. But, boring is perfect for an L&E project, because I don't want to have to think about it at all.

I still need at least 300 more hourglasses, and all the fabrics are already cut and marked. I set up the rest of my lights and darks, right sides together, and piled them up:

I don't know how many are in there, but it is 4.5" tall!

So, can I improv and sew leaders and enders at the same time? Yes! In fact, with all the small fiddly seams on these letters, it was a relief to put in an hourglass set and just rip down the middle of that. Somehow it feels more balanced. At the end of the day I had the first two seams done...

...on 23 hourglass sets (which will be 46 hourglass blocks). It feels really good to get that project moving again. Hopefully this will be a painless way to eat up a lot of the preliminary work on this project.

I admit I've been having one of those "what was I thinking?" moments, about my decision to make this a queen-size quilt. Sure, the hourglasses are easy to make, but I really didn't think much about how long it would take to sew them all together as well. Now I'm starting to think about that too! Hopefully I can do at least some of that in L&E fashion as well. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, July 29, 2013

More Shopping

I have been spreading the wealth all over recently -- a few fat quarters from here, a few fat quarters from there... every shop has its own speciality. Early last week I was in Newmarket at The Quilt Store to fill in the rest of my fabric palette for BFF, which I'll show soon. Then on Friday I went up to Quilter's Cupboard in Uxbridge because I needed some very light traditional-style blues for my Hourglass quilt. Here they are already washed and cut:

I did not want to buy fabric for the Hourglass quilt, but I ran out of lights before I used up all the darks. Plus, the whole thing had so much gold and brown that it was starting to feel syrupy, so I thought the light blue would perk it up. It looks nice with this old dusty pink floral I had:

The vast majority of the fabrics in this quilt are busy, high contrast fabrics, and I am starting to realize that these low contrast lights are going to end up being very important in the final assembly. Here's a variety of lights with the same dusty pink floral:

Isn't it interesting how the two, almost solid, blue fabrics stand out? Even though the middle one on the bottom is almost white:

It will be interesting to see how it all comes out in the end. Despite my best efforts to predict, I think it will still be a surprise! This batch brings the Hourglass Ticker up to 353, so I'm on a roll. :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hourglass Ticker

My Texas Star Ticker in the right sidebar has proven to be very motivating for me, so I've decided to add another one for my Hourglass quilt. Each hourglass unit will finish to 3" square, and I've decided to join them 16 at a time into 12" finished blocks. Here's my first one:

The pattern calls for the 3" units to be joined in long strips, and then the strips all sewn together. I think I will prefer to minimize the number of long seams I sew, so this is my plan instead. There will be 56 of the 12" blocks, and 896 of the 3" hourglass units.

I usually sew the hourglasses in batches of 32, so hopefully things will move along well now that I've recommitted to this project. Today I managed to sew one batch and one block without too much trouble, despite the summer heat. It is nice, mindless sewing, perfect for this weather!

(Edit - At the time of this post, the ticker started at 225 units. How far have I come now?)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hourglasses Before & After

I know it's been a month since I've posted any actual sewing, but I'm in the long, same middle parts of a lot of projects, so there's nothing really new to show. The past few days, though, I've been making strides on my hourglasses quilt.

It's been great for using up all those 5" square freebies I've picked up here and there. The blue and the green fabric above were favours from the Trenton Quilt Guild's show last year. The light fabrics are both more of my infamous Rite Aid fabrics.

My quilt guild Rouge Valley has just firmed up it's next quilt show date for early April 2014. So the pressure's on! Maybe my show quilt will be Riviera Star, or maybe it will be this one, the hourglasses. I think this could be a fun show quilt, for reasons not yet revealed, lol.

You may recall that the main purpose of this quilt was to use up the many, many dubious fabrics that I've accumulated over the years. All the following photos feature one brown Asian-style "faux patchwork" fabric, which is so hard to use. It was interesting to see what happened to it during piecing:

Not bad! Here's a higher contrast piece:

Also better than expected, I thought. The last one was rather serendipitous:

I like the way that wheel came out, although I'm pretty sure the top will be cropped off when I trim the blocks. Anyway, it's fun to see the new patterns emerge. There's still a long way to go!
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