Tuesday, April 15, 2014

 As I examined these blocks it all started to come back, the real reason I didn't finish the project. The ladies I were doing the class for were adamant that they didn't want to do any handwork at all, so I sewed the centres and outer frames on with a tiny zig zag stitch. At the time I only had access to a 1950's machine and while it sewed a beautiful straight stitch, the zigzag was a bit errratic.
 This didn't matter on the pink, where it wasn't so noticeable, but on the yellowy floral it seemed to stand out rather more.Sometimes the machine  would throw a hissy fit and put in two or three straight stitches before going back to zigging or zagging, which made me despair of ever doing a neat job. I got the blocks done for the class but I was so dissatisfied I haven't been able to touch them since.

Enter 2014 and the steely-eyed determination to finish long standing UFO's. I decided to unpick the zigzag and hand applique all the blocks, but I've found it's not easy to tease out the tiny litttle stitches. I've done the centres in two small blocks, and half of the large one, and have come to the conclusion I can live with the pink stitches. They really aren't too bad, and it's going to take me days and days to finish them otherwise.


If I can get all the centres and the large block appliqued I'll be perfectly happy, and then I can concentrate on the setting.

I like the idea of some sort of medallion and have been experimenting with leftover small blocks and  cut out pieces.Perhaps some diamonds and four patches....

or maybe a little twisted diamond border..
or a zigzag diamond? I'm going to have fun working out the measurements and playing around with other ideas, but first I have to get back to the unpicking, sigh.

The moral of the story is to do things the way you want to, otherwise you'll never be happy with the end result!

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

  Do you like my sandpaper board that I use to cut out my hand piecing shapes? Keryn made it for me as a Christmas present many years ago, and it's a bit the worse for wear- it used to have little metal corners, and it's a bit grubby, but it still works fine. She used to do this pretty painting as a hobby and I thought she was quite good at it, but life became too busy for her to continue with it. When she retires?

 Look at this pathetic little handful of fabric I was able to throw out after my diamond cutting session. No wonder my bin takes forever to fill up, when I can only bear to get rid of these tiny pieces and every other bit is squirrelled away in bags and tins and containers. I recently read on a blog that the writer just threw away any fabric left over from a project, and I was in awe of such an action. She is perfectly entitled to do what she wants with her leftovers, and if she knows that she will never ever use scraps she's quite sensible to get rid of them. (Yes, she could give them away etc, etc, but it's her fabric after all...we can't be judgin'.)

I just know that I have on occasion chucked stuff in the bin, and then crept back later to rescue it, sigh. At least now that I'm cutting the tiny diamonds I have a purpose for it, as I don't really like to do either crumb or string piecing. Little scrap too small for anything else? Cut it into a diamond and put it in the box- Done!

But I won't mention the fact that I've had to start sorting the diamonds into colour families in different boxes so that I can find the bits I want. I was reminded of the boys forever scrabbling through their Lego to find  one tiny piece; I seemed to spend more time pawing through these piles than actually sewing them together. So now I have a stack of little trays (they're actually the tops and bottoms of those flat Whitman's chocolate boxes, great use for them!) and at least I can find what I need. And if I only want to work with two or three colours I just pull those trays out. Just think, I could have put all this in the bin....why does that suddenly seem to make more sense? Oh well, we are what we are.

 I've come to a standstill with some other projects, so I thought I'd get an old project out and see if it was worth going on with.
  I made these blocks as samples for a Mariner's Compass demonstration I did for a group of ladies, and then never sewed them together.  I have been looking at this box of stuff for so many years I had ceased to even see it anymore.
 I'd told myself I didn't like the fabrics I'd used and it wasn't really my cup of tea, so the box stayed unopened until this morning. Now I discover that I DO like the blocks and I've been playing with settings and borders and I'm quite enthused about finally getting this  together.
  I never intended to make it large, so it might end up as a wall hanging, but I think it's too pretty to be overlooked anymore.

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Friday, April 04, 2014

 Ooh, that last seam was a doozy! I don't have much room next to my machine, and this top was so bulky and scrunched up I could only sew a few inches before I had to rearrange everything. But at last it's done and pressed and I think it pretty much looks like the one in the book.

I was hoping it wouldn't need a border, but I think it might have to have something. Hmm, I'll think about that another day....I've had enough of this particular project for a while.

This morning I decided to tackle the pile of little offcuts that are too small to cut a 1 1/2" square from.
 This tiny 60 degree diamond only needs a 1 3/8" width strip, so after I've cut my scraps up into different sizes I put aside anything that will fit this template. It takes a while to mount up, and then I spend a half hour or so tracing the template, and add the pieces to my container of diamonds.
 I've sewn quite a few of them together into stars , and made two mini quilts so far, but now that it's cooler at night I intend to finish a lot more.
  Hand piecing is a lot quicker than most people think, and  these little stars build up very quickly.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Oh my goodness, this is going to be big! I didn't bother to work out the final dimensions on paper, just kept sewing and sewing the blocks, and thought I'd worry about that later. I think it will end up about 83" square, if I decide to leave off the little pieced border that was in the original photo. I have twelve more blocks to set together, then a few seams to sew the segments in one piece and I'll have dealt with another project.

It's a horrible day today, a throwback to summer temperatures, and it will be good to hole up in the sewing room and get this done. All the Northern Hemisphere bloggers are longing for warmer weather and signs of spring, and I'm thinking wistfully of wool socks, chilly air and rainy skies. It will come, it always does, but I'm sick of summer weather for now.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

The Framed Star top is done and I'm very happy with how it turned out. These blocks were so much fun to piece, (and so easy) that I wanted to make more and more. I did replace five of the older blocks with new ones, because I thought they were a bit too dark, and I was very glad of the excuse to sew some more. It's not often I love a pattern from start to finish, but I never got sick of these; I may have to come back and make another set in completely different fabrics.
 The pieced border is very simple, but finished the centre off in a nice way. I don't mind quilts that don't have borders, but I felt the blocks ending at the edge was a bit abrupt. The pieced strip was very quick to make, and I sewed it to the large sections of the top before I  put them all together, so that minimised the very long seams.
 And then I added a two inch border of the setting cream as a final frame.
 Now I get to cross it off the list, clear out the project box and fill it with something new, probably my Ohio stars.
Finish one, start one, nothing wrong with that is there?

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

 I've been busy sewing my Framed Star blocks together, but I was desperate to have some smaller piecing to be going on with. I decided to perfect my Ohio Star making skills, and cut out a host of bits.

I also finished some other blocks that were laying around, but the stars have been my little compulsion. I can't stop making them, even though their final design is a bit hazy. I'm just super pleased that they're all turning out so neat and perfect, and it's easy to make three or four in between the long seams of the other star blocks.
 My files have  many wonderful photos of antique quilts featuring this block, now I just have to decide which one, or two or three to make.

I've come to really detest the long seams involved in sewing tops together, and now I prefer to sew the blocks into smaller chunks, and usually I just have one long seam to sew at the very end. And I don't mind that because it means I'm Done!

The blocks are now in three large pieces, but I want to add a pieced border, and I'm going to sew that to each section  before I put it all together. I'm really pleased with how it's  turning out, and I can see this being finished within the next couple of days.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

You would not believe the agonising that went on, finally choosing the cream to set these blocks together. Keryn was driven nuts by my vacillitating but was very patient, probably because she is capable of doing the same thing with her fabric choices. I don't know how many times I said "That's it! I'm just using this one!" and then the little doubts would creep in, it was too white, it was too plain, the pattern was distracting, it was too yellow, the design was too modern...Sigh. I had used some very light shirtings in the blocks, and they made lots of fabrics look really dirty next to them.I tried and tried to just sew it together and couldn't. The cream I've actually settled on is still not what I had in mind, but I've sickened myself with all the little broken decisions; I've had enough, and this will do, finally.

Except, when it came down to it, I only had enough to sew three rows together. Aghh! I've bought three lots of cream fabric in three metre lengths, but this wasn't one of them, would you believe it? I knew where to get more, but had to wait until we went to Pirie, and meanwhile the design wall was full of neatly arranged blocks, just sitting there. I put them all into little piles, pinned to the side, because the arrangement of these had taken many hours too, twitching and fiddling until everything was balanced. There was no way I was going to go through that again.

Funnily enough, when I was looking through the Quilts of Virginia book I remembered another project I'd started, this ninepatch on point. It's not like I actually forget these things, but until something reminds me they're just not on my radar.
So, onto the design wall they went, and I'm sewing them together, quick and easy.
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I now have enough of the cream I need, so I don't know which project I'll finish first, but things are moving at last. The actual sewing is the easy bit, it's the decisions that take up so much of my time. Like what to do with three lots of almost identical very light cream.....

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