Saturday, November 29, 2014

My sewing room was overflowing with kittens during the spring, but now that it's time to assemble them into a quilt, I can't find them. I may have gone overboard making kitten preserves. Or the mice may be enforcing their no cats and kittens policy.

So until I find the kittens, all I can show you is all the fuzz and cat fur stuck to my design wall. You can probably find more interesting quilts coming together over at the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Here are my first four vintage spin blocks from Kathy Doughty's book Adding Layers. I am using this as an opportunity to visit some of my larger hunks of fabric--fabric that I adored when I bought it--but then discovered it didn't necessarily play well with others. And not playing well with others turns out to be a great fabric choice for this block!

I would also like to mention that on the first block, I hand appliqued the circle. Not a good choice for this block. The rest of the block comes together so quickly, consider it the fast food of patchwork. So for a quick machine sewn circle, I turned to Dale Fleming's method. (She demonstrates this technique on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, or in the HGTV archives of Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson). Below I give the step by step process I am using for this quilt....

Here is the vintage spin block trimmed to a square. For the center circle, I cut a 4.5 inch square.

The first step is cut out two pieces of freezer paper and iron the slick sides together to make your template material. Draw and then cut out a circle from the freezer paper making it whatever size you want your finished applique circle to be.  Line this up over the hole on the back side of your spin block.

Now, using a very light touch, use a washable glue stick to tack the circle open around the freezer paper. Typically you would want to clip the circle in order to ease the curve around the freezer paper template. But for this block you only need to open up the vintage spin seams a couple of stitches. Did I mention to use a very light touch with the glue stick? Don't let the glue go past the fabric so you can iron the whole thing super flat. You will use the crease for your sewing line, so really make this neat, nice and flat.

Now take your glue stick and glue the part of the fabric that hangs over the freezer paper template. Dale Fleming demonstrates a very liberal use of the glue stick for this part, but I didn't find that necessary. But you will need more glue for the fabric to fabric connection than what you used for gluing the fabric to the freezer paper template.

Next, lay your 4.5 inch square of fabric right side down onto the glued circle. (See the photo above second row, left side.) Iron. Now turn it over and admire the beauty of your vintage spin block. We aren't done yet, but I did want to make sure you had turned the block over so that the right side is facing up.

From the right side of the block, gently pull the freezer paper template away. It should come up easily if you used a light touch with the glue stick. As you can see, I cut a slit in my paper template to make it easier to remove. But be gentle because you can use this template over and over.

You will now sew the spin block and your square of fabric together carefully following the crease lines. On the first block, I just used my regular sewing foot...but then I remembered that Dale Fleming recommends using a zipper foot. And yes, this does make it easier. HOWEVER, you will have to move your needle over AND change the plate to accommodate moving the needle. (A loud thud will indicate that you did not do this correctly. Don't ask me how I know.)

In any case, sewing along the crease is relatively easy. If you wander off the crease going too wide, you can just leave those stitches in tact, but hit the crease on a second try.

After the seam is sewn, trim away the excess fabric so you have a typical quarter inch seam. At this stage the seam will be facing out away from the inner circle. Feel free to iron the seam back in towards the inner circle. Or not.

Ta da! Admittedly, the first go at this method will seem fiddly. But you will be able to use the freezer paper template over and over again. (To reuse the freezer paper template, I just close the slit with scotch tape on the back side that doesn't get ironed. I slit the tape with a seam ripper when I remove the template again).  I think Dale Fleming calls this the 6 minute circle method, but I think that included time for making a cup of coffee, drinking it and unloading the dishwasher.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Every time Cathy at Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting posts a vintage spin block, I want to make them too. Cathy must have a special technique because she posts FOUR of them at a time, and as you can see, I only managed to complete one. The wedges come together quickly and are a lot of fun. And if I weren't so old fashioned, I would leave the gaping hole in the center. Instead I follow the directions in Kathy Doughty's book Adding Layers and applique the circle in the middle.

P.S. We got globs of rain but no accumulating snow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fresh off the loom...a plaid chenille scarf. As you can see, the warp consists of stripes of blue, red and green. Unfortunately, the weft also consists of stripes of blue, red and green. And starting and stopping new colors got a tad tiresome. So I think the next scarf will use a single color for the weft.

I am still in the process of finishing. I am twisting and knotting the fringe...a technique that prevents the chenille from fraying in the wash. After I finish the fringe, I will clip off the numerous ends on the back and then give the scarf and quick wash and dry.

Meanwhile, in preparation for a possible snow, I brought in wood from the woodpile. This required serving an eviction notice on a mouse who built a nest there. I left everything in tact but assume the noise and disruption may inspire relocation. And the sewing room mice have passed bylaws that refuse admission to "real mice with teeth and the tendency to use fabric to build nests."

Monday, November 24, 2014

If you think the mice are arguing too much and the staff meeting is running long, bring out a blender. Okay, I'm kidding! But it did cross my mind. Instead I made some more legos blocks. This time with a bit more contrast.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Today I found two more mice had set up home in the sewing room.
And wouldn't you know it. Now that there are twelve of them, they decided to call a staff meeting. I think it may be a long one, so you might prefer to go check out how other participants are wrapping up the final color(s) for the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Today I played around with a spiral log cabin. I'm not too sure how I will lay this out. I may need to add some reverse spirals.
Meanwhile, I consolidated all of the kitten preserves. Next, I need to build a bookcase to hold them. And then I will have to add a border because there is nothing modern about preserving kittens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Here's my first adventure with paper piecing. As part of my quilt guild's chapter, we are teaching each other various techniques. We are given color and size specifications and then have the assignment to make a block using the technique and specifications. The teacher of the technique gets the block.

I do appreciate the precision that paper piecing provides. And I did eventually get into the rhythm of this process. I suspect I will like it more when I make more than a single block at a time and can chain piece the blocks. I have been wanting to make a spider web quilt and think I should begin it while the process is stored under current events.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Keeping track of animal patchwork is quite difficult. I try to minimize the carnage by enclosing each species within their own box. So I was quite surprised when I inventoried the fish and found that to finish the quilt I still needed to make 50 fish. I was especially low on pink and purple fish.
Now there are 49 more fish...only one more to go!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Over at the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge, light blue is the color for the month. It is also time to consider layouts for blocks, count blocks and essentially get all ones ducks in a row. So to speak. For the origami cranes (or swans), I counted colors and direction and found myself low on right facing cranes. Since I had already made some light blue cranes, I decided to fill in some missing colors.

 Apparently, during my time away from sewing, all my skills migrated south. All six cranes were born with severed neck syndrome where the triangle at the base of the neck is sewn in the wrong direction. To make matters worse, I did not notice the severed necks until each crane was almost finished. Well, now they are finished...and so am I.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I found my sewing machine! The Rainbow Scrappy Challenge is wrapping up soon, so I thought I would take inventory. It turns out that I have no purple fish, no pink fish, and very few medium and dark blue fish. For some reason I have over 16 red fish and another 16 yellow fish. Apparently the kittens have strong color preferences for their snacks.

And today was the second day of having my heat pump replaced, so Mr. Piggy was more than willing to model the new scarf...although he complained that it was a bit too long for him. He did agree, however, that the scarf was quite cuddly straight from the dryer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I am sorry to disappoint you, but my absence from this blog is NOT because I went off and adopted a couple of kittens.

I thought Tommy Cat was a task master, until my brother came to visit for a week. (P.S. I named my cats Tommy and Jimmy after my twin brothers). And like most families, we had lots of miscommunication. For example, I had a list of projects to get done around the house. I interpret a list as "pick one" and think about it. And apparently my brother thinks you're supposed to work your way down the list and actually DO all them! I must have missed that memo.

In any case, my house is a vastly improved habitat PLUS I am now free to return to my slothful ways. And on that note, I did get some weaving done and finished the teal log cabin scarf. I used a new method of securing the warp to the loom and it didn't work very well, so the scarf is about 10 inches shorter than I intended. The photo shows the scarf before finishing which should make it quite soft and lovable.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

This is the first time I got drunk...that is, made a drunkard's path. This quilt was made in 1983 when polished cotton was the new in. I was also experimenting with a new polyester batting that was supposed to be light, but lofty. But instead replicates the saggy baggy elephant.

I still like the concept behind the quilt, just not the execution. I'm also inspired by Tim Latimer's recent experimentation with the drunkard's path. And, okay, it may just be that I have a crush on Teddy.

But I am showing you this early treasure because Vicki W. thought she might be forging on alone down the drunkard's path, without realizing that some of us are professional procrastinators and haven't even gotten started.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I've been busy lately keeping up with my brother. But I did get a chance to make up a final batch of kitten preserves. Unfortunately, as you can tell by the contents in the last row, some teddy bears jumped in trying to save the kittens, and that sealed their fate.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

After the endless purple towel, I decided to weave a simple chenille scarf. And now I remember why I enjoy weaving.

And for quilters, I should mention that this pattern is called the log cabin. It's made by alternating light and dark threads in the warp, and then doing the same thing in the weft.

And just like with patchwork, I'm not using enough contrast. These two colors look they are light and dark to me, but when woven together in this pattern, they come off medium blue, because they are really a medium light and a medium dark. Similarly, with my legos quilt, I have not used enough high contrast--really light, really dark--so when the patches come together I'm just getting a mass of medium bright. But I have plenty of more legos blocks to make so I'm hoping to turn that ship around.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I am working with Fenella Belle at her McGuffey studio to print fabric. Our goal is to print repeat design fabric with dyes. There are a lot of moving parts so we thought we should just open the hood and play mechanic. Although we didn't have a silk screen with an appropriate design repeat, we used one of my old screens to test a method for registration. Although we set up the registration, we experimented with overlapping. We also tried a couple of resists: the first column of overlay leaves is washable glue and the second column is opaque fabric paint medium. The photo shows the fabric before the dye was rinsed.
This is the fabric after it was rinsed.
Here's a closeup showing the washable glue resist. We tried speeding the drying of the dyes with a hair dryer but this apparently set part of washable glue into the fabric. At least that's what I suspect happened to make it work so well in some areas but not others.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Maybe its just me, but this fish seems extra fishy to me. Plus, I'm not to sure about light blue fish, but I'm just going to go with the flow...and light blue is the color for November over at the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge.

And, of course, fish are such copycats. One fish wears light blue, and then pretty soon the whole school is wearing light blue.