Sunday, March 28, 2010

The four-patch four-patch top is in one piece and I'm thinking I may add a pieced border, either checkerboards or piano keys.

I can see that I could have some fun with this design and really think about the colour placement, but when it comes down to it I wanted to use the scraps up and not agonise over every block.
So it's done, and there were some leftover blocks I didn't need that were sewn into a small crib quilt top. Now the box is almost empty!

These two lone blocks will go into the Drawer of Requirement until I need some little fillers, and I'll see what new project I can store in here. The sewing room abhors an empty container....


Friday, March 26, 2010

Last weekend Dolly had to stay with Matt as we were busy out of town. When he gave me these photos I refelected that her visits out there are rather like Boot Camp for dogs. She has to eat dry food, sleep on the floor, rough in with everyone else and go for prolonged marches over the hills. She seems to like it though, even if her life at home is a bit more pampered.Macca and Dolly can hardly wait to get going, they love exploring this rough terrain.

Macca especially loves to climb, and tackles trees,hills and boulders as a personal challenge.

They really are lucky dogs, getting this much fresh air and exercise.

And they are the best of friends too, trotting along side by side for miles. It's so nice to see them still enjoying each others company so much.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I've been wondering just how many tops I've made using the sq in sq unit as a major part of the design.There was this top with cheddar sashes..

and this green and red and gold one, with two extra rounds added to the basic unit.
There was this large top,

and this one, both around queen size.

and the huge madder top.

This little piece was made with leftovers,

and at least three sets of these blocks, twenty in each . I just couldn't stop making them either...

Does anyone doubt that I have a 'thing' about little sq in sq units? I just love 'em.


Monday, March 22, 2010

I've made twenty of these Rolling Stone blocks so far, and my scrabbles in the stash (sounds like a book title, doesn't it?) have unearthed more pallid fabric than I thought I had, so I could make more if I wanted to. I'll lay them out and see if I want to make it bigger, I'm certainly not sick of piecing them yet. I think I could go for thirty.....
I've been longing to do some applique, so I've drawn up my pattern, inspired by an antique quilt, of course, and I'm prepping the pieces at night. I've made one block, so I know I'm happy with the design, and now it's just the groundwork, which I happen to love. As I finish each block's shapes I put all the bits in a ziplock bag, and it looks like a little kit, just waiting for me. I'm only doing five at this stage, but I think I want it to be nine blocks, I'll decide later.

These blocks have been set into larger blocks with some green and they should be in one piece by the middle of the week. I'm not in love with this, the only reason I'm doing it is to empty the box the little blocks were in. And I'm also looking forward to making a backing for this, I've got a big length of old green that is earmarked for this top. Whatever the motivation, it will be done soon and I can cross it off my list and move on. For some reason, once a project is done to the top stage, it ceases to bother me. I don't mind the tops (and their backings sometimes) sitting around waiting, sometimes for years. I could never be one of those people that works on one project at a time from start to finish, it's just not me...


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Elke from Germany asked me how I get the sq in sq units so precise. There are lots of ways of making these, including sewing strips around a square, and sewing oversize triangles to the centre square, both of which require trimming down to size. The strip method wastes fabric and the outer edges are on the bias, a recipe for disaster with these little pieces.

My method relies on two things you should be aiming for anyway, accurate cutting and a scant quarter inch seam allowance. If you can master those two, you can make perfect square in squares.

These instructions make a 3 1/2" unit. Start with two 2 3/8" squares for the background, and a 2 5/8" for the centre.
Cut the squares in half diagonally- I layer them and cut both at once- and then nub the ends at the two inch mark. This measurement is arbitrary, the main reason to get rid of these corners is to aid in centreing the triangle on the square underneath. The two inch mark works for me, but you could try others, just don't go below it or you'll be cutting too much off.

Lay the triangle over the centre square and use the trimmed ends to centre the piece. Make sure both ends are showing the same amount of the underneath fabric in those little spaces, and it will be in the right place.
When you sew, don't automatically use the nubbed corners as the starting point for the seam. They may well be, depending on how you nipped those bits off, but I usually have to sew a few threads closer to the edge.

I make sure I'm sewing my usual 1/4" seam, using the edge of my foot, or whatever guide you choose. If you sew from one nipped off point to the other the block may end up slightly smaller than you want.

Sew another triangle to the opposite side and then finger press them open carefully before you iron them. If you leave a little fold at this stage it will throw the final measurement off as well.

Centre the next triangle the same way, making sure there is the same amount of fabric showing at each end.

In this photo you can see a bit better that the same thing applies, those little corners don't have to match up with the edges underneath. Centre the triangle and sew the seam, that's all you have to worry about.

No trimming required and once you've got the hang of this method you can churn them out in a production line, and have a drawer full of them, like me.
Fiddle around and see if you can make this work for you. Everyone usually makes a few adjustments for their own sewing style, but this has worked for me for hundreds, if not thousands of these units. Good luck!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Still sewing these blocks, no sign of nausea yet. I'm trying to keep it pastel without being wishy-washy, but it's quite hard to do. So many of my fabrics are mid-tones to dark, and I'm having to go back through the older stash of the eighties/nineties to get the sort of pale contrast I want.

I could of course start collecting a heap of these from shops, but I want to sew the blocks Now, and I do like to use what I have. Especially when I can't think of anything else to do with this type of fabric.

Most of these came from what I call my "Expendables" drawer, which is where I keep fabric that is no longer precious and can be used in charity quilts or backings or to make test blocks from. I don't feel any angst about chopping my expendable bits up, but it's surprising how often the drawer comes to the rescue when I'm stuck for a certain piece. Every now and then I go through the good stash (hmm, is there a 'bad' stash?) and weed out pieces that are no longer precious, or fat quarters that have been nibbled right down, and these go into the expendables bin. It's the first place I look when I start another project, there's a lot of useful stuff in there.

As leader-enders I've been attacking a pile of blocks I made ages ago. They're just little four-patch four-patch blocks that were themselves made from L-E.
I didn't know what to do with them but now the're being set into fours with sashing, and I don't really care what they turn out like, I just want them done.
In the corner of the last photo you can see my latest acquisition, a little telly I bought at a garage sale. I've always wanted to watch tv in my sewing room, and now I can- this should improve my production no end. The trouble is now I want a dvd player to go with it, we're never satisfied are we?


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Keryn quite rightly pointed out that I wasn't actually making Rolling Stone blocks, but a variation. I put the extra square in square block in the centre, thinking that would use up more, but it has changed the overall effect. The ring in the centre is missing and it has lost the circular movement.

Of course there was no other option, I had to start making the genuine blocks.

The other blocks will have to wait now until I build up some more scraps for them, so I needed a new project. And of course I don't want to be saved from my obsessions, I get so much done! I'm not nauseated yet, so I'll keep churning these out, and see how far I get.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sixty of the little blocks done, ten of the Rolling Stone variation, more being pieced.....Save me someone! I just can't stop......


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I've started these Rolling Stone blocks using the square in square units too.
The units are 3" finished, so that makes this block 9" and the blocks in the previous post finish at 6". I've completed 40 of the latter and the drawer will close again, but I don't want to stop. I have to let the obsession run it's course, which means that I'll sew and sew and one day I'll pick up the bits and be overcome by a wave of nausea. Then it's time to go on to something else. Doesn't everyone work like this?

I've got a lot of pictures of antique quilts in the Rolling Stone pattern and I love them all.
I like this bold colour combination, but the pastel one below is pretty too.
I'd never be brave enough to use colours this intense, but it's certainly striking, isn't it?


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