Friday, August 30, 2013

Top is Done!!!

I guess in quilting hours, I did pretty well getting this all pieced together. And I am pretty pleased with the results.

I do see things in there that I doubt others will notice, but that is human nature to focus on the little errors because you are the one who made them. Not all my triangles were exactly the same size, so some of my squares are a bit wonky and my finished size is a bit smaller - I think from trimming everything at each stage.  And despite my best efforts, there are a few places where there are colour matches or clusters.

That said, if it were all perfect, it would look like it was made by a machine, right? Not an excited Grandma-to-Be. I am sure a more precise person would have achieved a crisper outcome, but at the end of the exercise, there will be hours and hours of love put into a wonderful homemade keepsake.

It's interesting that before embarking on this exercise, in my mind I had decided that it was less time-intensive than a rug hooking project. Now I am not so sure. I think the heavy lifting of the piecing is over, but there are hours and hours of hand-quilting yet to come and then the finishing.

If I were to hook a project that was 40 x 40 and dedicate the same hours to it, I wonder if it would be done in less or more time? I may just have to challenge myself to find out, but not right now.

Next week - or the week after, since we have incoming next week - I will build my quilt "sandwich" and get it ready to start quilting. There are notes on the Purl Bee instructions page that warn the novice hand quilter that there are many layers of fabric in the ditches and it is not a notive project. I am thinking I will move slightly away from the ditch and follow the squares - see what happens. Trial and error ahead.

I think I will use my cheticamp frame and keep it set up in the studio so I can do a little bit whenever I have a little time. My goal is to have it all finished in a couple more weeks.Let's just see how that goes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Squares, Squares and More Squares.

As a quilting neophyte, I am learning in leaps and bounds. Mostly by error, but sometimes by trial. After squaring up 100 squares - well 98 actually (I had to quickly stitch a couple more) I have now arranged all those squares into strips and then laid them out into 4 large squares.

The best way to see if I was happy with the arrangement and also avoid any eye-catching conflicts was to photograph the 4 squares with my iphone and then look at them on the computer. I actually did that twice! The pictures below are the second set, and I have tweaked again since I took them. I am pretty happy now with how they are looking. I will take one more final set which I will use as my guide. I also think I will leave them laying in position on the studio floor rather than trying to remember what went where.

Without more heightened clairvoyant powers, I really can't imagine how the four squares will look together, but I am sure that the same cheerful busy-ness that is in the squares will somehow all come together in the end.

Here is how it is looking. It's amazing that every time I look at it, my eye follows a different colour around the block. I am sure I could drive myself completely crazy if I don't stop adjusting at some point. But the tumbling of the lights and darks - the lure of the orange (Jackson's dad-to-be's favourite) and just the energy in it is so great.

So this week, with four rainy days forecast, I will begin the assembly- first squares into strips - then strips into 4 big squares and then put the squares together. However, as soon as I say this, I can feel the work truck backing up with lots to keep my from doing this.

I will be happy to get all the piecing done. I can't believe that I actually entertained the thought of doing this all by hand - for about 30 seconds that is. Kudos to my friend Jo who does all her quilt work - start to finish - by hand. She is an amazing quilt master.

I am looking forward to the actual quilting, which I will do by hand. It is straight line stitching, following the shapes in the triangles and squares, so hopefully not too difficult. I am sure my stitches will be a bit rusty in the beginning, but I am sure I will be an expert by the end.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Happy Jackson Quilt Progress

Ok, so I am not totally an amateur at quilting. After all, I did make an applique quilt over 30 years ago - that is still with us in a somewhat faded version of itself. But this piece-quilting business is turning out to be a wonderful "learning" experience. And I am quickly finding out all the things that I shouldn't be doing.

Make sure there are only two triangles of fabric when you sew things together. Those extra triangles  can really hide in there and you don't realize till you start to press.

Also, don't try a short cut on your first venture. Save that for when you really know what you are doing. My short cut turned into a very long detour - nearly a road block.

Let's just say with both these lessons, I have spent a lot of time with my seam ripper.

Yesterday, I almost started to giggle when I realized that in quilting, there is a crazy circle that really only makes sense to a quilter or quilt lover.

Buy fabric in large pieces
Cut the fabric into squares
Cut the squares into triangles
Sew the triangles into squares
Sew the squares into strips or larger squares
Sew the strips together to make a quilt sized piece

Really, when you think about it logically, there isn't any. 
I am making progress, despite my frequent "back ups". I have over 40 squares made and they are great. I am very happy with the results and with how much I have done. I didn't think that I would have this much time to dedicate to it this week, but a slower work week and rather cool days are making this a perfect project for right now.

Here are a couple of progress snaps (nothing trimmed yet):

The shortcut ended up having the triangles sewn along the long side - wrong!!
Here is a sampling of the squares. I love how the orange pops. It will be a happy quilt.
When I first started putting the triangles together, and then the squares, I was over-thinking the arrangements. I have learned to "trust the fabric" and know that just about every combination looks good. And there is some thought to darks and lights. When I get there, the assembly process will be somewhat random.

Otherwise I will totally go crazy when it comes time to putting it together. Ah, that should be crazy-er!

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Ongoing Summer of Colour

The Beekeeper's Quilt continues to grow, whenever I can grab a bit of time to add "puffs" to it.
Here is where I am to date - this is the side where the knots are tied.

Keeping the colours in a pleasing order is a bit of a challenge. First rule: make sure no two puffs of the same colour are together. Second rule: try not to put solids together (there aren't very many of them, so they need to be "seeded" throughout). Third rule: try to come up with a rule for placement.

After trying several different tacts, including a colour sketch and a bad attempt at mathematical calculations, I have resorted to just trying each puff in a couple of places and then"go for it". Hopefully the "winging it" technique will continue to yield a pleasing arrangement. So much for "rules", but so far I think it is working!!

My second colour exercise last week - a hooking one this time - took me into the dye pot. I did a casserole dye with three formulas for the OHCG Teachers' Challenge Mat I am working on. I decided to put three wools into the pot together - a light beige herringbone, a piece of natural heritage wool with a strong thread weave in it and a piece of natural Dorr.  I used three dyes - orange, red fuchsia and turquoise. Here is what came out of the pot.

The largest piece is the beige herringbone, which took the least amount of dye. The vertical strip to the right of centre is the heritage wool, which took the most and gave a lot of deeper reds with that one beautiful fuchsia spot. The Dorr natural gave the nicest sort of orange areas. The good news is that all three marry nicely and are working well for the intended purpose.

And if two colour exercises weren't enough, I added a third one to the pile. Since I was going to my ma-in-law's for the weekend, with a large fabric store nearby, I decided to put a plan in place for future grandson Jackson's first quilt. I am using the pattern from Purl Bee called "Broken Dishes" which I love because it isn't just a baby quilt - it can be a forever quilt.

The colours are taken from a Pottery Barn quilt and bumper pad set, which my daughter really likes. She will get the bumper pads and some sheets, but she really loves the Purl Bee quilt and was happy to have my offer to make it.

Here was my plan of attack. I used Paintbrush (like Paint, but for Mac) and sampled the colours in the fabric from Pottery Barn, to take the equivalent of a swatch to the store with me.

And here are the fabrics that I ended up with

Laura is very excited about the selection. Luckily, she is like me and doesn't believe in pastel baby colours. So Jackson will have a quilt that may start in the crib, but can follow him along for years to come. 

And I get to continue my summer of colour as I put together all these bright and cheery projects.

Cozy Evvie is Complete - well at least the hooking part.

Here she is. She is all hooked. She has the "best saying ever" on her shirt - printed on fabric, since it was way too small to h...