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

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Country House Landscaping

Gosh, I see it is almost two months since I last showed this block! It's the centre block for Lynette Anderson's 2015 BOM, My Country House. I had to re-sew the roof seam on the machine before I could applique the trees. "I'll just wait until I have white thread in the machine," I thought. Did that happen? No. Finally I threaded the white thread specifically for that one seam. It only takes a minute -- silly, isn't it?

Anyway, it gave me lots of time to mull over the width of the strips for the trees. In the pattern the trees are a little Christmas-y, with stars at the top and an evergreen shape. The tree trunks are thicker than the branches. My version is smaller at 3/4 scale, decidedly summery, and I knew I wanted to change the tree shape and put leaves all the way around the top. Finally I decided to make all the stems everywhere on the quilt the same 1/4" size, using the Clover 1/4" bias tape maker. I like the feathery look to the trees. Plus, with the smaller scale I think consistency with the stems will be cleaner, and help to tie the whole quilt together.

The stems started out pretty wild...

...but they were soon pruned down to size. The leaves are big chunky detached chain stitches, done with four strands of floss, two medium and two light green. When you compare this with the first photo, you can see other changes as well. The doorknob was done in padded satin stitch:

While I was sewing the doorknob, the window above the door started to look too empty. As an experiment, I filled the space with the same motif as the gingerbread along the eaves. It seems like the obvious choice now that it's done, doesn't it?

But after that, the original gingerbread along the eaves looked very dingy, and I became convinced that I had used a different, less white, thread. After another day or so of dithering, I took out the original stitching. The new gingerbread was stitched with four strands of floss instead of the original two strands, and fewer "spokes" in the wheel:

I think it is better. With the heavier thread I thought the colonial knots in the original would be too much. Now that I am looking at the photos, though, the knots looked pretty good, so I may still try them. Without the knots, I did have to add an extra red brick on either side to fill the empty space.

The felted wool sheep were the last addition. Two of them are peacefully munching the daisies:

And the one on the far left is looking up... the big blue chicken which will sit on the right chimney. But, the chicken will overlap the top seam, so it is still on hold.

With the trees for landscaping, and the sheep as landscapers, I think the block has really come to life. Given that I started this block on January 2, I am glad to have it done!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

House Construction Finished

The main building work on the centre house block for Lynette Anderson's My Country House is now complete:

However, as with many contractors, some of the finish work still needs to be done!

After I finished the bricks and the gingerbread, I had to redesign the windows and door to fit into the new smaller space. The new windows are 1" square, and I decided it would be easiest to reverse applique them in. I used a ruler to draw the windows and door right on the fabric, and then thoroughly basted the blue fabric to the back:

On the front I cut open and appliqued one window at a time:

Lake view!

The door was also reverse applique, but I have no progress photos. After I cut away the yellow fabric from the whole arch, I tucked the red door fabric between the yellow and the blue. This left the blue transom window above the door free, and I just appliqued it all down. It was tricky, which is why there are no photos, but I am very pleased with the outcome:

There will be a gold doorknob satin stitched in the centre of the red circle. The white crosses in the windows are back stitched with four strands of embroidery floss. The original design has embroidered flowers in the transom window, but I like it the way it is, so I will skip that.

Any readers who are also making this project will notice that I ignored the instructions and sewed together the whole block before appliquing the chimneys (and the door). This was by design! My plan was to open up the seam just by each chimney and tuck the seam allowance inside. Then I wouldn't have to worry about placement beforehand.

The chimneys are 1/2" square, and I basted everything well before the final stitching:

With the applique finished, I just have to take out the basting, go back to the machine and re-sew the roof seam.

I did the same thing for the door, so the grass seam will also have to be re-sewn. But, the trees still have to be added and tucked under the grass, so for now that is just hand basted closed. The trees are next!

Friday, January 30, 2015

My Country House

3/4 scale -- 13.5" centre block

The new 2015 Block of the Month at The Quilt Show is Lynette Anderson's "My Country House." You can click here to see the whole quilt.

When the quilt was first revealed in late 2014 I was very tempted, but I decided that I already had enough similar projects on the go. Did I really need another? On December 31 I decided that I did. If I reduced it to 3/4 scale, it would make a nice wallhanging. BUT, I decided that I was not going to spend more than one week per month on it, so I would still have time for everything else.

That plan has failed completely, as you can see.

Regular readers know that I always like to give my projects a local flavour. A very typical 19th century brick building here in Southern Ontario is either red bricks with yellow bricks in the corners, or yellow bricks with red bricks in the corners. The library up in Uxbridge is a good example:

Most of the old farmhouses are mainly red with yellow corners, but for design purposes I thought red edges would read better. I made a template for the bricks with 1/4 inch graph paper:

I marked the bricks with erasable pencil:

My plan was to quickly work up the sides with some long legged blanket stitch to represent the bricks. But the fabrics were just too heavy to make neat blanket stitches. Plus the 1/2 inch "legs" were too long. So I have been satin stitching the bricks. For three days already.

I made a similar template with the graph paper for the white gingerbread across the eaves, but I guess I didn't take a picture. The gingerbread is stitched first with blanket stitch half pinwheels, and then I went back and put a Colonial knot at the end of each "spoke."

I know there is a loose thread there, which is driving me nuts. I will see if I can tighten it up without doing it over again.

I lost eight days to flu this month, so I have only spent about five days so far on this project. But there is a lot still to go -- windows and door, chimneys, trees, sheep, funny blue chicken, and the postage stamp border!

But -- don't laugh too hard -- I really believe I can catch up over the next few months!

(Actually, I think I can work ahead, because the piecing is all pretty straightforward. Time will tell!)

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!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Caribbean Blue

Sometimes, when the sun hits the lake at the right angle on a day like today, it almost looks like a Caribbean blue. Almost? Well...

There decide. This is Willemstad, Curaçao, and the photo is courtesy of this website. Willemstad is the inspiration for a new project that has totally jumped the queue despite my best efforts to suppress it. This pile of fabric has been sitting on the corner of my sewing table for over a week now:

It is clear that I won't get anything else done until I deal with it. Although it was published in 2005, I just bought Home Sweet Home by Barb Adams and Alma Allen a couple weeks ago after I saw a finished version of the quilt over on the Den Haan & Wagenmaker's blog here. So I have some "Double Dutch" inspiration to blame! Did the Dutch blog give rise to the Willemstad connection? Maybe. All I know for sure is that I really wanted to use a supersaturated blue background, and some bright Caribbean colours:

The weather forecast for Toronto is well below freezing all next week, but I'm hoping these colours will keep me warm! Now that I've bowed to the inevitable, I'm hoping to get the houses blocked in quickly. I needed a real applique project, after all. Wasn't it one of my New Year's resolutions? ;)

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 voilà! 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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