Monday, November 29, 2010

On the Design Wall: Carpenter's Wheel

It all started with the trimmed corners of the Snowball blocks from another project (which can't be displayed because it's a Christmas present!).  The trimmed corners yielded a messload of 3-1/2" half-square triangles ... 48 of them to be exact.  These are a sufficient size that SOMETHING could be done with them!

These are pile of 16, which are the number I need to use in the block I eventually chose to use them up.

With so many half-square triangles, I wanted to do SOMETHING with them but not pinwheels ... BTDT and besides, pinwheels are such an ordinary solution; I was looking for something with a little more pizzazz. 

After using Google's Image search function, I settled on the Carpenter's Wheel block as the most suitable for using up my half-square triangles.

This particular pattern came from Marcia Hohn's Quilter's Cache and is the 'easy' version since it uses only half-square triangles and not the traditional Y-seams.  However, after looking at other Carpenter Wheel blocks, I discovered that if you *also* put a half-square triangle at the outer 4 corners, you will get an interesting secondary pattern with or without sashing ... so I made that very slight alteration to Marcia's pattern.

Because Marcia's pattern very conveniently calls for 3-1/2" half-square triangles, all I had to do was find the complimentary third color to work with what I already had and sew *those* half-square triangles.  The resultant block is a monster-sized 24"!  :-)

Marcia's directions are VERY clear and VERY easy to do.  The most difficult part was putting the correct half-square triangle in the correct place!  :-)  

I chose to use a medium green for the third color and was able to pull quite a few from my stash.  Some of them I later decided not to use. 

I was able to make *3*  24" Carpenter Wheel blocks before I ran out of suitable greens.  Because the original half-square triangles came from another project, I was also running dangerously low on those two colors (the light background and the deep coral); fortunately, they came from Joann's calico wall and they were still there!  woo hoo!  :-)

I also found, in the remnant bin at an additional 50% off, another medium green that will make the fourth and final Carpenter's Wheel block.  I don't want to make any more 24" Carpenter Wheel blocks because 1) this was SUPPOSED to be an almost quick-and-dirty project to be done in-between others and 2) after the 4th Carpenter's Wheel block is made, I just don't want to be making any more.

It is at this point I am now stuck.  I like to make "useful" size quilts, which normally translate into bed-sized quilts.  I am also amenable to making a throw size from these 4 blocks ... but what layout?  I can't quite use them as they are as the size isn't "useful".   I love using Electric Quilt to help me with design choices but for this particular layout, I have discovered that I don't have the specific knowledge I need to do what I want ... and that is very annoying.    I may be reduced to doing this old-school .. with paper cutouts!  Fortunately, Electric Quilt can supply me with the blocks to cut out; I'll just move them around on my worktable.  :-)

Since each block is 24" square, using a horizontal grid layout gives me 48" wide (if no sashing is used) or slightly larger (say 50" - 54", if sashing is used).  I need to add top & bottom borders to give me a proper length. 

But what??  I'm still struggling with what to use.

Maybe I could repeat *half* of the Carpenter's Wheel over each block for the top & bottom borders for an 'arch' kind of look.  But, I can't get Electric Quilt to give me the layout I want for the borders!

Then, it occurred to me to see what an on-point layout would give me ... and that resulted in another set of problems ... not only would I still need top & bottom borders for length, but I would have the setting triangles to deal with.  Perhaps some interesting applique work?
Or if I split the setting triangles into 2 pieces, maybe put a *quarter* of the Carpenter's Wheel in each small triangle?

See the outer sashing/border in the layout on the left?  Electric Quilt cut the blocks at each corner off .. they are triangles instead of the squares that I wanted.  That's one of the skills I don't have for Electric Quilt, so the layout looks odd.  I just need to remember how I really want it to look.

And instead of finishing up this "quick and dirty" layout, I'm now still in the design phase!  I just may let this one sit on the design wall for a while.

What I REALLY want to be doing is quilting "Lumiere de Noel" with Lizzie .. I have the batting, I have the backing ... but this Carpenter's Wheel project has waylaid me!  :-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can you contribute a Healing Heart for New Zealand?

You may be aware that New Zealand suffered a major mining disaster late this month at Pike River mine on the west coast of the South Island, resulting in the deaths of 29 miners. Many of these miners had young families.

Shirley Goodwin of New Zealand is spearheading and coordinating an effort to make quilts for the families involved.

From part of her blog of November 25th, 
 I am part of Kiwiquilters, an email group for New Zealand quilters. We have a tradition, as do other quilting groups, of making Healing Hearts quilts for members and their families or friends who are suffering personal tragedy or serious illness.
Please consider making a block or several blocks for this cause. It doesn't matter that you don't know the people involved - neither do I. The love and support from strangers that is embodied in these quilts is something tangible that the families can get comfort from for years.

Here are the block details if you want to make some:-
  •       Cream background – calico is fine
  •       6 ½” unfinished size (so they will be 6” finished)
  •       Pieced or appliqu├ęd heart or hearts
  •       Any colours or patterns for the hearts. Some of the quilts will be for children, so children’s  fabrics are fine too.
Please send to me at the address below. Thank you so much.
Shirley Goodwin
51 Charles St
Rangiora 7400
New Zealand
Bobbie (another New Zealand quilter) has kindly made a heart pattern in PDF format to download if anyone wants one.

She posted more information later on ....

Here are the answers to some questions I've received-

1. You can write on the blocks if you want - your country, name or whatever you would like to put.

2. If you are making an entire quilt top, you can make the blocks any size you like. The 6 1/2 " size is just for people making a couple of blocks so that we can standardise the tops.

3. If you have uncompleted quilt tops that you would like to donate, we are happy to take those.
They do not need to have hearts on them.

4. We will be making predominantly single bed sized quilts, big enough to cover the top of the bed. They do not need to come down the sides.

5. If you are putting heart blocks together before sending them to me, you can do them in different ways if you like. For example, you may want to join 4 blocks together, then surround them with sashing. There are no "rules"!

Thank you so much for contributing.

I used this as an opportunity to use some new (to me) techniques and patterns that I found interesting.  Here are the blocks that I've made so far:

Won't you make some heart blocks also?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Lumiere de Noel" top finished!

My version of  Moda's "Lumiere de Noel" .. the top at least! .. is finished. 

To recap: the free pattern is available at Moda.  Lots of online and brick-and-mortar stores offer a kit with the 'official' "Lumiere de Noel" line of fabrics, but I wanted to make it from the fabric in my own stash ... I knew I could. :-)

One very prominent fabric is the linear stripe used as the sashing.  I didn't have anything remotely like it and I discovered neither did any of my local quilt stores. 

Fortunately, the Quilted Cottage in Santa Rosa, CA had it in stock and I ordered it online.  The
fabric was safely delivered promptly, tossed into the washing machine, dried, fussy cut and sewn between the columns.

The outer slab-o-border was sewn on and the top was completed!  (From my blog readings, I have discerned that my Australian compatriots refer to a "top" as a "flimsy" .... which I find to be a simply adorable term!  and so apt!  :-)  )

There is one completely GLARING error in this top, which I didn't discover until I was done with it.  I'm not entirely sure it's going to annoy me enough to fix it. :-)   I knew that my postive/negative fabric was directional.  When I was cutting out and sewing together the Flying Geese segments of the Sawtooth Stars, I was careful-careful-careful to make SURE the orientation of the the stripes was all north/south.  See all those lovely linear stripes all going the same direction?  EVEN in the Flying Geese unit on the right where the 'goose' is the white stripe and the 'sky' is the red stripe ... the strips all go north/south!  I was so proud of myself for remembering that.

The  directions for Lumiere de Noel were careful to let you know that you needed to place the linear stripe carefully so that the same design element was at the same spot across the width of the top.  And I was careful to do so .. see that yellow line?  All the round flower things are nicely aligned.  Dang, I did a good job!  :-)

And then.

And then.

As I was looking at the completed top, patting myself on the back and feeling rather smug about finishing another top, the GLARING mistake hit me between the eyeballs.

See the round flower thingies?  They line up nicely, don't they?  Now look at the leaves below the flower thingies.  One is upside down.   !!!!!

There are *four* sashings from this linear stripe in the top.  By sheer dumb luck ... since I wasn't even AWARE that the stripe was directional ... three of the sashings go in the same direction and the fourth goes the other way.  I was soooo careful to make sure the flower thingies were aligned horizontally, it never occurred to me to check to see about anything being directional!!   aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!

How. Very. Annoying.

I'm thinking that I'll just leave it has it is, as a testament to my hubris for gloating.  Since Dear Daughter has already told me she doesn't read my blog (" ... but Mom, I *see* this stuff as you're making it ... "), she'll never notice it if I never tell her.  :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Current Forever Project: Dress Me Up, dresses 4 & 5

I always have a "Forever Project" ™ going on.  The term "Forever Project" was originally coined ages ago when I was working on a crewel embroidery pillow, which eventually took about 10 years to finish.  The next Forever Project took substantially less time.  :-)

Nowadays, a Forever Project is whatever handwork project I am working on ... whether or not it takes Forever.  It's a take-along project that I have contained in a 'grab-n-go' project box: a plastic flat tote that contains all the things I need to work on the project.  Whenever I go someplace in the car, whether it was for Little League games, a doctor's appointment or a road trip, the tote was grabbed and we went.   Heaven forbid that I have no sewing to do with large stretch of empty time ahead of me!

My current Forever Project is a quilt that features 12 embroidered 1950's era dresses on mannequins.  It comes from Bobby Socks Quilt Company.

A while ago, I finished dress #4 but neglected to share it.    This is a cute little 2-piece dress, whose French knot bodice features a lovely peplum. 

The peplum has a little drawstring bow at the seamline.

Dress #5 is a sleeveless dress with a darling Peter Pan collar and lace edging. 

The pattern calls for the entire skirt to be covered with French knots but as I had just finished Dress #4's bodice and this bodice, I was real tired of doing massive expanses of  French knots.   Instead, I opted to do a border of French Knots on the skirt.

While I *could* have started on a different dress that did not have any French Knots, that would have entailed doing the dress ... oh the horror! ... *out of order*  ::gasp!:: 

A Little Slow on the Up-take

Have you heard of Framed Hexagons?

I sure hadn't. Apparently they are one of the latest trends on the quilting scene and, once again, I'm behind the times.  :-)

I do know about regular, plain, ol' vanilla hexagons and about all the variations of Grandmother's Flower Garden.   I know what a great take-along project hexagons are.

But all the procedures I've seen are a little on the fiddly side for me.  It's not that I don't like small scale projects or that I won't attempt projects that are detailed, but there's just something about making hexagons with the paper or plastic templates, the basting,  etc, etc that just doesn't float my boat.

And although I appreciate the time, effort and skill that goes into Grandmother's Flower Garden, I just don't care for that setting.  BUT ... when I was at Pacific International Quilt Festival (Santa Clara, CA) this year, I saw a terrific Grandmother's Flower Garden variation that I really liked ... but guess who didn't take a picture of it and now I can't remember what it looked like!   Oh the "advantages" of growing old(er)!  :-)

However, ... back to the hexies ... on Quilted Delights' blog, she talked about a "FRAMED Hexagon".  OMG ... look at that!  That's *awesome*.

Apparently this is a swap block, being hosted by International Friendship Quilters and is something that you sign up for.  I'm not doing swaps these days (heck, I haven't done a swap since 2000 or so) simply because they generate more UFOs and projects for me and I have enough of those on my own list!

But, I sure do like the look of that framed hexie.  I wandered on over to the IFQ site and read the following:

"Putting them together is easy and fun. You'll end up with something that is automatically reversible since the back will be completely different from the front.

The block is made by cutting one large hexagon from one fabric and cutting a smaller hexagon - one each - from a contrasting fabric and from batting / wadding. Place the smaller hexagons in the center and fold the edges over twice and stitch! That's all! And your mitered corners happen naturally!"      (Their hexagon measures 5' finished)
Now, how easy is that???  (If you have one of those nifty die cutting machines, cutting out the hexagons would be a snap.)    You can fussy cut the smaller hexagon and showcase it. (I-Spy, anyone?)  You could use a plain fabric for the smaller one then embellish it in some manner (embroidery, tatting, applique, beads).  You can hand-stitch the folded over edge or use decorative machine stitches to hold it down.

Best of all .. in my book .. this is rather like a Cathedral Window quilt ... each block is completely finished (back and front) when the block is complete.  Whip stitch the blocks together and your quilt is DONE.  Careful use of fabric for the back and specific placement could yield a lovely design on the back .. otherwise you could disregard placement altogether for a totally scrappy look on the back.

What an awesome Forever Project idea! 

Now to be fair, to get the pattern, you need to become a member of the IFQ group and sign up for the swap, BUT the experienced quilter wouldn't necessarily need the pattern to reproduce this block.   I bet any one of my Dear Readers could do this block without having the 'official' pattern.

However, Mary in Orlando, FL (one of my quilting buddies on's Quilting forum), did some internet sleuthing and found directions on the Australian site, Oz Quilts Patchwork & Quilting  Yes, they are also selling hexagon templates on the site but the directions are in the middle of the page.

Jonna in Texas (another quilting buddy) found this French site, which has excellent photographs.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, you can just disregard the French text if you don't parlez vous.  :-)

One of the blogs that appears in Google Reader (my aggregator), showed a video of a fabric origami technique with a hexagon demonstrated by Ane Matos.   The You Tube video is in Spanish, but the demonstration is self-explanatory (and I suggest muting the playback so you can pay attention to the demo).

AND THEN .... it was a Light Bulb Moment (tm)!  If I could make the origami hexagon the proper size for the framed hexagon, it could be a very cute variation for a framed hexagon!

The paper templates that I had were for an inner 5" hexagon and an outer 7" hexagon.  I had absolutely no idea how much shrinkage the origami process would create, so I arbitrarily drew a 10" hexagon template.  Using that for my origami practice, I was astonished to find out that the finished hexagon was 5"!  Exactly what I needed for my own templates!

Here's my grand total of 3 framed hexagons ... the pink framed ones were my first practice ones and I tried out some of the decorative stitches on my sewing machine.

The maroon framed hexagon is obviously the origami one ... and turned out doggone cute!  :-)  I made a Very Small yo-yo to put in the center of the framed hexie ... an alternative would be a cute button or a small pre-made flower.

This isn't going to be my immediate next project; I have too many things already lined up for that BUT all my practice pieces and documentation have been filed away for future use.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Lumiere de Noel"

Originally, I saw this pattern in a catalog.  It's a simple enough pattern ... done in a monochromatic color scheme,  Sawtooth Star variants are sewn in columns separated by a linear stripe fabric, all surrounded by a slab-o-border.  I clipped the picture with the intent of figuring out the yardage requirements on my own.  The pattern showcases Moda's "Lumiere de Noel" line of fabrics.

Then, whilst I was doing my research, I found pictures of the actual Moda fabrics used!  woo hoo!  Now I could see if I could find compatible fabrics in my stash.   I knew it wouldn't be an exact match but I was going for the "look and feel" of the pattern, not creating a replica.

More perusing of the internet uncovered LOTS of sites offering the quilt as a kit ... but I most definitely did NOT want the kit.  I even found a website that was selling the pattern only for about $3.00  ... and I bookmarked that site.  This was a real deal in terms of the price for the pattern and it would certainly save me a lot of time.

THEN .. I wandered on over to the Moda fabric site and to my astonishment, I discovered that Lumiere de Noel is a *freely available* pattern to download!  I'd like to say shame on the website that was *selling* the pattern, but I suppose they've done nothing illegal but it sure seems to me that they could make a link to the Moda site for the pattern since they were selling the fabrics too.   (On the Moda site, just scroll down until you see the "Lumiere de Noel" link.)

I saved the pattern and printed it off.  It contains not only pictures of the specific fabrics used, but yardage requirements and complete construction details.  There was nothing left out of the download.  I was extremely pleased to have found it!

I had previously found and purchased two "remnants" of a positive/negative design.  (The "remnants" were 2 yards EACH!).  I'm just a sucker for positive/negative fabrics, even if I don't have a project in mind for them.  When I saw Lumiere de Noel, I knew that I had a use for those fabrics!

I had *more* than enough of both of them so that they could be the main fabrics of the Sawtooth Star blocks.

The rest of the fabrics for the Sawtooth Stars also came from my stash ... toiles, neutrals, sparkles from previous quilts .. even remnants from a Daisy Kingdom pinafore that I made for my youngest Dear Daughter, when she was a mere squirt!  (Anyone remember Daisy Kingdom patterns & garment fabrics?  Gosh, I loved them .. still do.  My girls had a number of Daisy Kingdom garments and they loved twirling around in the full skirts).

This is where I am right now ... all the Sawtooth Star blocks have been made and I've bought fabric for the slab-o-border.  You can't see the entire top in the picture because I couldn't back away far enough to get the whole thing in the viewfinder! 

Also, only the 1st two columns are stitched together; the other columns are just pinned to a sheet, which is my 'design wall'.  You can see that I've left space between the columns for the sashing fabric.

At this point I need one more fabric:  the linear stripe that is used as the sashing between the Sawtooth Stars.  No quilt store in my immediate area (and there are 3 that I frequent) nor Joann's is stocking linear stripes in red/white or red/cream these days.   I *VERY* briefly thought about using my embroidery machine to create a linear stripe ... but the sashing is 70" long.  My biggest hoop is 7" long .. that means I would need to do *ten* hoopings just for one sashing.   If you look back at the pictures, you'll see there are FOUR sashings.  That's a total of 40 hoopings .. and although I love my daughters, I don't love them THAT much!  :-)  (yes, I am just that selfish.  :-)  )

More Googlings for the Moda linear stripe and I found it!  It comes in two flavors: red on "antique" white and red on "pearl" white.  Dear Daughter preferred the antique look, so that's what I ordered.  The online site showed that they had 5 yards left in stock; I only need 2.  I left instructions with my order that if the full 2 yards weren't available, the order would need to be cancelled.  I hope they have at least 2 yards!  :-)

Otherwise, I'll need to order from another site and will have to wait even more!  While this quilt isn't for Christmas, since I am >thisclose< to finishing, any delay in finishing the top would be excessively annoying.   I want to GET IT FINISHED!

The linear stripe fabric is then fussy cut to isolate the stripe and use that as the sashing. 

Because the fabric is 2 yards long, the sashings will be one straight cut of fabric ... I won't have to piece it.  I've pieced sashings before .. I've even pieced sashings and matched the patterns so that you really couldn't tell it had been pieced ... BUT this particular fabric has no convenient break point in the print that would allow for easy piecing.  I wouldn't look forward to needing to piece this fabric together.

I hope they have the 2 yards available!  (crossing fingers!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Ultimate, Practical Christmas Tree

SewCalGal is running a Christmas quilt show starting November 14, 2010. 

This blog entry is my submission to the show, although the quilt itself was made in 2004.  Although this quilt has it's own webpage on my quilting website, Dread Pirate Rodgers, I am copying the information here, so it can be included in SewCalGal's Christmas Quilt Show.

The Ultimate, Practical Christmas tree  
(for apartment dwellers)  
made in 2004

I'm not quite sure how I allow myself to get into these situations, but here's another case of Real Life doing an end run around my plans to stick to my UFO pile.

Earlier this year, my oldest Dear Daughter, who is living in an apartment while she attends college, had bemoaned the fact that she had absolutely no space for a Christmas Tree and she was Very Sad. Being the supportive Mom that I am, I suggested that I could make her a quilted Christmas Tree wall-hanging as a substitute.  With further discussion, it evolved into a wall-hanging that she could actually hang real ornaments on and that real lights could be used. At that point, we just left the discussion where it was.

Over Thanksgiving, she was able to come home and the project was resurrected.

She drew a full-sized pattern for me to work from; we raided my stash (pitifully lacking in appropriate fabrics) and augmented with fabrics from 2 different local quilt stores.
I began working on it and steadily over the days, it began to take shape. Dear Daugher returned to school and I continued working on her wall-hanging.  I put an extra layer of batting in the snow boughs so they would be extra poofy.

Originally, my daughter wanted "branch shaped" quilting lines on the snow boughs, but after I showed her a picture of it, she decided that she liked the unquilted snow boughs better and could I please remove the quilting? [sigh]

(aside: isn't this picture awesome??  The light coming in from the side window really shows the poofy "snow covered" branches and reveals just how three-dimensional it is.  It also shows the branchy quilting I had done, which was ultimately rejected.)

Originally, the thought was to put ribbon loops on the tree so that real ornaments could be hung, but in practice, the ribbon loops looked awful. I substituted loops made from perle cotton. I found some extra tiny mini-tree lights, powered by a battery pack at JoAnn's. I made buttonholes in the wall-hanging where the lights could be pushed through to the front.

At night, with the mini-lights turned on, it looks very dramatic. The battery pack was placed in a pocket I sewed to the back of the quilt. Two hanging sleeves where made .. one obviously on the top, but another one on the bottom, so that another rod could be put there for weight ... to help hold the wall-hanging straight.

Addendum:  the quilt was delivered to Dear Daughter,  who has since moved several times.  I hope that this quilt has moved with her, even if all the boxes were never fully unpacked after each move.   When she finally settles in one place for "a while" and the contents of the boxes are rediscovered, I hope the quilt brings back fond memories. :-)

Merry Christmas, Catherine.  :-)

love, Mom

Monday, November 01, 2010

It's Nov 1st ... do you know who won the giveaway?

I wrote out .. by hand, mind you .. everyone who commented (and thank you for doing so!).  Crumpled each name into a little ball and tossed the paper ball into Mr. Pirate's winter hat.

Holding the hat out to Mr. Pirate, I asked him to pick a name.

(drumroll please) .....  and the winner is ..... Sewing Geek!

Sewing Geek .. whereever you are ... would you please email me your snailmail and I will pop the selvages into the mail to you!    Remember ... the project isn't 'for real' until we see pictures!  :-)