Monday, April 25, 2011

deferring Jane Austen

When last we were working the Jane Austen quilt, I had discovered that (according to my calculations), I was actually going to run out of the chose sashing fabric before I reached the end of the center section.

A trip to my local quilt store lead me to two delightful choices ... but Dear Daughter #2 wasn't with me, so with the shop's permission, I took pictures of them, emailed them to her from my cell phone, called her to let her know she had incoming .... and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Dear Daughter said she never received the pictures.  So, I emailed the same pictures to myself and discovered the same thing.  The internet pipes must have been clogged that day, as the emails never came through.

Once home, I implemented Plan B and manually transferred the pictures from my cell phone to my computer and emailed the pictures to Dear Daughter from my computer.  And awaited her decision.

At home, waiting, I was twiddling my thumbs.  I really, really, really can't stand being idle in the sewing room.  All the leftover diamonds from Jane Austen were staring at me and I decided to fill the time until Dear Daughter said either yay or nay to the sashing selection by "doing something" with some of those diamonds.

Looking at Fig Tree & Company's pattern "Jelly Parfait", I realized that I could use (some) of the diamonds in this layout.  *Perfect*!  I even had some fabric already in my stash that I could use for the setting triangles!

On a Monday, I began to sew the diamonds together to form the triangles for Jelly Parfait.  Four large triangles per row, 6 rows = 4 large triangles.  Each triangle needed 15 diamonds plus 6 setting triangles.  I managed to complete several large triangles by the time Dear Daughter decided that she liked the replacement sashing fabric.   Back to the quilt store to the store to buy it, as they had put it on hold for me.

However, even when I brought the replacement Jane Austen sashing fabric home, I knew .. I *knew* ... that the in-progress Jelly Parfait was going to nag me.  The Jane Austen quilt is going to take a substantial amount of time and I just didn't want to put Jelly Parfait on hiatus for the duration ... because I was concerned (knowing me) that I wouldn't get back to it for a while.

Sooooo ... work continued on Jelly Parfait during the that week until it was done.   By the following Sunday (that is to say, 7 days later), the top was done.  Man, I was happy about that!  It was getting awfully B-O-R-I-N-G sewing those diamonds into a large triangle.  [Which ought to say something about the sashing process for Jane Austen.  I may lose what is left of my mind.]

There are some differences in my rendition of Jelly Parfait from the pattern ... firstly, I used the diamonds I already had.  They are *weird* diamonds, somewhere between 45° and 60° diamonds, so the dimensions of my Jelly Parfait are NOT the same as the pattern. 

I used a linear ribbon stripe for the sashing between rows.  I had saved this absolutely, terminally cute gingham "embroidered" ribbon print fabric for "something" and the sashing between the Jelly Parfait rows was exactly the right circumstance!

I also changed up the border treatment.   I determined that with the addition of a 5" wide border, I could have a queen size quilt.  I wanted to use up as much of the gingham ribbon stripe as I could, so I decided to use it as part of the border.  Alone, it wouldn't have been wide enough.  Fortunately, I had *another* purple ribbon stripe in my stash that I had been saving.  However, the combination of the gingham stripe and the purple ribbon stripe *still* wouldn't be 5".  (In the picture above, the green lines are where I cut the ribbon stripes apart.  The red stripes in the dark purple ribbon stripe doesn't show up in the quilt, since I have incorporated it into the seam allowance ... there was no red any place in the quilt and I thought that having that red show up in the border would look at bit odd.)

Again, fortunately, one of my quilting buddies had traded me some purple Jinny Beyer yardage and it was a perfect companion for the two ribbon stripes!  I put the Jinny Beyer fabric between the two stripes to create the 5" wide border I wanted.  I really like using stripes, either printed or manufactured, for borders since I can then miter the corners.  Striped mitered corners look soooooo nice!  :-)

Now that the top is complete and I finally *looked* at it, I can see that I used a very dark fabric for one of the setting triangles in the pieced triangles.  Hmmm.  Kinda looks out of place with all the others.  Hmmmm.  Too bad .. it's gonna stay.  I don't feel like ripping out the sashing, the 6 setting triangles, re-cutting new ones and putting the replacements back into the quilt.  Tough luck.  (On the other hand ... the one without the warts .. maybe when I pull this top out when it comes time to quilt it, I'll be sufficiently annoyed by those dark little triangles that I'll reconsider replacing them.  Maybe.)

On the other, other hand, this top turned out rather nicely.  It joins the others in the Pile of Tops to be Quilted (someday). :-)

And NOW!!! that all my procrastination activities have been completed, I can return to the real Jane Austen quilt ... remove the small amount of original sashing fabric that has been sewn in the quilt and replace it with the new sashing fabric.  Sash on, sister, sash on!  :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

messing with Jane Austen

Sometimes I swear I have the attention span of a flea.  *Usually* I can be very focused and successfully concentration on a project until its completion.  This is advantageous when you are working on a project that is going to take a long time ... like the Jane Austen quilt.

But, as I work on a project, there are times when my mind wanders to other things that could be done with the very pieces I am currently working with.  aaiiiieee!  That way lies madness!  I start thinking about other projects to do and other layouts and then, before you know it, I find myself absolutely, positively NEEDING to do "that thing" just to get it out of my mind!

Take for instance ... the Jane Austen diamond.  Looks pretty good, huh?  When pieced with it's sashing and combined with all the other Jane Austen diamonds, it's going to look doggone fantastic.  I had cut a *boatload* of diamonds in preparation for the Jane Austen quilt ... not knowing precisely how many I'd eventually need.  As it turned out, I cut quite a bit more than I need.  :-)

So, what do do with the leftover diamonds?  Well, a star immediately comes to mind!  A most excellent idea!  I like making stars .. they look so good.  And if I do say so myself, the centers of my stars are absolutely, positively flat-flat-flat.  No volcanos or D-cup mountains for my stars!

I dry-fitted my Jane Austen diamonds together and immediately realized .. Houston, we have a problem.  See, the Jane Austen diamonds aren't a 45° or even a 60° diamond.  They are some weird angle.  And they just DO. NOT. FIT. TOGETHER. in a star.

Fortunately, I happen to have a 60° template that was given to me by a quilting buddy.  I re-cut the Jane Austen diamonds using the template and proceeded to make some stars.

Don't they look purdy?  :-)

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them.  But, at least for now, that particular bug about 'doing something else' with the left over Jane Austen diamonds has been dealt with.

And yes .. the center of my stars are flat-flat-flat.  :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jane Austen quilt, part 5 - oops.

Happily, I've pinned all 464 diamonds to my design wall around the place-holding center medallion.

I've begun sewing the sashing fabric to the diamonds, starting in the top right corner. 

Looks pretty spiffy so far, huh?  I kinda like it. :-)

And then, I got to thinking.  This center section is big.  Big enough to cover the top of a queen sized mattress ... roughly 60"x80". 

The sashing is narrow; it'll finish at 7/8" wide. 

I have about 2-1/2 yards of sashing fabric.  Surely, that is enough to cut all the sashing I need?

But wait!  It would be simply HORRIBLE if I got 75% of the way through the top only to run out of sashing fabric! Truly, a fate worse than death!  Since I have NO idea when or where I got this fabric, it's not like I can run right out and buy additional amounts.

I figured it would behoove me to actually calculate how much sashing fabric I had, in terms of linear inches versus how much I really needed.  So, with my trusty tape measure in hand, I began to measure how long the various sashing pieces were.  Luckily, the length of the short strips between the diamonds was a constant amount and the length of the long diagonal pieces increased by a constant amount. 

If my figures were correct, I was going to run out of sashing fabric before the top was done.  Holy moley .. it's a good thing I was cautious ... or suspicious.

Sadly, this does mean that I will need to rip out the small corner that has been done .... but much better only that than nearly an entire top!  I'll go out shopping tomorrow, cross my fingers and see if I can find a suitable substitute. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jane Austen quilt, part 4 - diamond placement begins

Painstakingly, all 494 464 (I miscounted!) diamonds required for the center section of the quilt have been cut out.  These are the light and medium values of purple.  Jane Austen (apparently) simply random scattered her pieces.  Admirable and it turned out well.

Except that *I* don't do random well.  I like plans.  Even guidelines.  But pure random?  iiiieeeee!!  I've done the "pull the next piece out of a brown bag and use it" approach.  I *STILL* micro-manage it!

However, pandemonium may have been averted. Dear Daughter #2 (the purple loving daughter) has decided that she'd like a kinda/sorta/maybe/almost colorwash effect .... starting with the lighter shades next to the center medallion and shading out to the darker values. Hmmmm ... I think, maybe,  I could do this.

So tonight, I spent a good amount of time grading the color values of all the light shades.  Well, I graded them as well as I was able to .. heh .. I even remembered to pull out my Ruby Beholder to even out the color playing field!

This layout is (obviously) an on-point layout.  Furthermore, the very center .. the part that looks white ... is going to be a big embroidered medallion on a single piece of fabric.  The diagonal rows surround this center medallion.

For this reason, I think it would be just about impossible .. for me ... to simply start at a corner and build from there.   After all, I have absolutely NO idea just which shades of the light & medium values are going to be exactly where.  I have a *general* idea, but no specifics.

Therefore, I decided to build it on my design wall as it would look in real life.  This means that I need a placeholder for the center medallion, since despite my calculations, I don't want to chance cutting the center medallion fabric the wrong size.  Knowing me, it would be 1/2" too small all the way around. :-)

So, I made a paper placeholder, measured on my design wall (a queen sized sheet) where the center medallion "should" be and began pinning the diamonds to the sheet according to my color plan, as shown above.

And here we are, so far.

Not too exciting.  The bright green start at the top is where the top/center of the quilt "should" be.  I measured down from that spot to the mid-point of the center section (I hope) and began the placement of the light diamonds.

According to the color guide, I have 3 rows of lights then 6 rows of mediums before it starts with the lights again.

The real thing may or may not look vaguely like the graphic ... mainly because it's easy to color a row of shapes the same color ... using the actual fabrics is a different story!

The final result may not be so controlled and concentric.  It may have a tendency to become muddled ... simply because of the fabrics I have to use.

I was, however, gratified to see that in the first row around the center medallion, the number of diamonds that I place around it *does* match the number of diamonds in the graphic!  woo hoo!!  I'll sure take those small victories!  :-)

The placement of diamonds continues onward.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jane Austen quilt, part 3 - cutting the diamonds

I am now able to return to the pieced project that will be consuming my time for the next unforeseeable future ... the purple Jane Austen quilt.

Because I was Utterly Stupid, I used a homemade diamond template to cut a LOT of purple diamonds to be used in the Jane Austen quilt.  I didn't realize at the time that my homemade template (this was the one I used for the Diamond Pillows) was NOWHERE near the size it should have been.  In fact, it is doggone tiny compared to what it should be.  Which means that I am going to need a GINORMOUS amount of purples.

I am sooooo lucky to have some wonderful quilting buddies over on's Quilting forum. In response to my plea to swap [something] for purples, they came through in spades.  Well ... not spades precisely, but with 13-5/8 inches of purples!

At this stage in the project, I am busily engaged in cutting diamonds.  Lots of diamonds.  Tons of diamonds.  Probably more than that because the finished quilt needs to cover the top of a queen sized bed plus 23" of drop on 3 sides.

Good thing I have lots of TV shows queued up to watch. :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hanging over my head

Like many other quilters (or crafters, if I might broaden the category), I have several projects being worked on at the same time.  They are in various states of completion (or non-completion, if you think in those terms).  Most of the time, I can mentally shove these works in progress to the back of my mind whilst I work on whatever the Current Obsession project is.  :-)

I just finished up a project ... quilting a client quilt, which took precedence over my own projects.  I now have the opportunity to return to the pieced project that will be my main focus, the Jane Austen quilt,  .. but first ... these are the projects that are Hanging Over My Head.  They are the ones I was working on before I got the idea to do the Jane Austen quilt.  They remain in various states of non-completion and will probably stay that way "for a while".  But, they *are* on my mind and will annoy me until I get them into a finished project.

To whit ... the "Diamond Pillows".  I started with a bunch of diamond shapes, cut from gold-toned fabrics.  I have NO idea why I cut these shapes; I don't think they were left over from a previous project.  But I cut a messload of them.

I assembled them into rectangles of various sizes (all non-standard, as it turned out), loaded them onto Lizzie and quilted them in a continuous curve design.  Using this as my blank canvas, I then used a friends electric Sizzix die cut machine to cut out a bunch of shapes, which I then fused and appliqued with monofilament thread.  They turned out ... dull.

I then embellished them with some modest hand embroidery.  Not crazy quilt stuff, just standard hand embroidery stitches. 

The blue is finished, I think.

The purple on the light background is finished.

The purple on the dark background is still being embroidered.

The blank one (above) will have pink shapes, yet to be determined.

All of them will be made into throw pillows.  Sadly, I wasn't thinking ahead because NONE of them are standard pillow sizes.  ::sigh::

Then there is the Apple Core project.  A fellow quilting buddy asked for some help from the members of's Quilting Forum in making some Economy Blocks to be used in the making of a fund-making quilt to help restore her family's farmhouse.  I was at a breakpoint .. in between projects ... and in one evening, made 27 Economy Blocks for her.  She certainly didn't ask for that many!  Honest!!  But they were just so doggone easy, it was like eating popcorn ... I simply kept on making them.  :-)

As a thank-you, she sent me a bunch of apple core shapes that she cut with her Accuquilt Go cutter. 

Not wanting to have the shapes hanging over my head, I deferred whatever it was I was working on to assemble the apple cores together.  And that's as far as *this* project has gotten.  I think this is going to be a table runner for our dining room table.  I'm thinking I may put some machine applique on it.  Maybe. 

That's another project. :-)

Current Forever Project: Dress Me Up, dress 11

This dress has turned out to be one of my favorites!  The pattern has a whole bunch of circles on the dress, so I did them in a buttonhole stitch.  Furthermore, I got the brilliant (if I do say so myself) idea of graduating the color from light to dark (neckline to hem).

There's a one strand/one wrap French knot in the middle of the buttonhole flowers.  The French knot is done in a new (to me) DMC satin floss, made of rayon.  VERY shiny stuff.

The lazy daisy flowers at the shoulders are also done in the DMC satin floss.

Another new (to me) DMC fiber is their Pearlescent Effects ... a very rough and sparkly stranded item.  I used this for the belt, stitched in a whipped backstitch.  I had originally thought to do the buttonhole flowers in this fiber but it is SO rough that I gave up.  Heh .... don't even think about doing French knots with it. :-)

Completing this dress means that I am now working on dress #12 ... the LAST dress!  :-)

A Really Cheap Egg

We have 22 chickens ... a whole bunch of different breeds.  Two of those chickens are Americaunas; they lay green shelled eggs.  They consistently lay large sized green shelled eggs.  They're pretty regular about it.

And then .... one day last week (or so), as I was collecting the eggs, I came across one of the cheapest eggs I've ever picked up.  I have absolutely NO idea what was up with either of the Americaunas that they felt compelled to produce such an egg .. but there it was ... substantially smaller than what they usually lay.

Here's the cheap egg next to a paper clip, for comparison.

Whenever we do get excessively small eggs like this, we like to call them "rooster eggs".  Why?  Well, because no self-respecting HEN would lay an egg as cheap as this!   heh ... we get a kick out of the city slickers to don't get the "rooster egg" thing ... they ask, quite sincerely ... "Gosh, I didn't know roosters laid eggs.".

::thunk::  Here's your sign.  :-)

The next day?  Back to normal.  ::shrug::  Chickens are weird critters.