Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jane Austen quilt, part 8: moving right along

As of 5/21/11, here is where I am in the construction of my "inspired by" the Jane Austen quilt.  The top right triangular portion is sashed and I've just sewn the longest sashing of the quilt.  Woo hoo!!  From now on, all the sashings will be shorter ... and thank goodness for that!

The portion of the quilt to the left of the "empty" diamond space in the middle is just pinned to my design sheet.

While I am enjoying seeing how progress is being made on this top, it is simply tedious sewing. I am trying to keep all the short sashing segments aligned with each other so they don't look like they are wiggling all over the place.  Mostly, I think I've done a good job.

I'm beginning to ponder how on earth is this top going to be quilted????  An edge to edge would just destroy the look.  I'm thinking that a very simple stitch in the ditch along the sashing seamlines would be appropriate ... with no other quilting in either the sashing or diamonds.

The big diamond space in the middle is going to contain an embroidered letter.

Any comments or suggestions as to quilting?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NQR: our pirate chickens

I might have mentioned that, although we lived smack dab in the middle of suburbia, we have a large lot ... almost an acre of flat land.  It's mostly undeveloped, as Mr. Pirate & I just aren't the landscaping type.  Landscaping requires constant attention and we'd, quite frankly, be doing other things.

There aren't restrictions as to backyard chickens, except for the number of roosters.  Mr. Pirate likes chickens.  I tolerate them because Mr. Pirate likes them.  In the beginning, they were something "educational for the children".  Yeah, right.  ::sigh:: 

Well, the children are all grown up now and we still have chickens, so it's *really* Mr. Pirate who likes the chickens. :-)  He would have stuck to boring white Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds, but if we were going to have chickens, I wanted something interesting to look at.  :-)

This is our current flock ... we have 22 hens and 1 rooster.  He was a mistake because the chicks we got weren't able to be sexed ... you got what you got.  :-)   The flock is a blend of an old flock and the new chickens.  I suspect that the older hens aren't laying too much, but the younger hens make up for it.  If they were all laying, we'd be getting, on average, 22 eggs a day.  Oh. My. Gosh.  There's just no way we could eat all those eggs!  As it is, we generally speaking, get between 8-14 eggs a day.  And THAT is more than we need. 

Thankfully, we have neighbors who buy our excess eggs.  And our daughters take some back to their apartments.  Which still leaves a LOT of eggs for Mr. Pirate & myself.

When we got the newest chickies (last Spring), I knew which breeds I was getting because the feed store thoughtfully segregated the breeds.  But by the time we got home, all the name tags had been removed by those stupid chickens.

Yes, I am just kidding about the name tags.  :-)

Rhode Island Red
Barred Rock
Mostly, I can remember which breeds we have because they are different from each other.  We have some of the more "standard" chickens: Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red. 

But, thanks to me and our Dear Daughters, we also have some ::cough::  ::cough::  "novelty" breeds: Polish, Welsummer, Lakenvelder, Barnvelder, Americauna, Marans, Orpington, Astrolorps, Black Jersey Giants.

Only a few have names at this point.  When the girls were little, they were very prompt to name every single chicken because "if they don't have a name, they'll get eaten!".  These days, the chickens get names as one is suggested to us.

For example: the Polish.  ::giggle::  they really are such silly looking birds. :-)   The original Polish chickie that we got had a cute little yellow cotton ball top knot.  Dang, if he didn't look just like Dennis Rodman!  So, we called it "Dennis".  Turned out that Dennis was a hen, so she was re-christened "Denise".  And since we had a Denise, the other chickie had to be DaNephew.  :-)

These days, when we do have white crested Polish chickens, *one* of them is always named Denise (DaNiece).  The others are called .. as circumstances dictate ... DeNephew, DaMoose, Doofus, or Nutsy.   The rooster?  Heck, there's only ONE name you could POSSIBLY call a Crested Polish ... Einstein. :-)  :-)

Golden Lakenvelder (I think)
The chicken I *think* is a Lakenvelder (remember .. they took their name tags off, so how I am supposed to remember who is who???) is the flightiest little chicken we've ever had.  If she had nine lives, she would have used up 15 of them.  :-)  We call her Roadrunner because she looks *exactly* like the cartoon character, as she runs for her life!

The Barred Rocks (we have 2 of them) are the Old Biddies.  They are from the older flock and they tend to be very, very bossy.  There's a funny story that shows how one's mind works.  When we first got these chickens, I hadn't seen their breed in print.  Mr. Pirate just said they were Barred Rocks.  OK then .. how interesting .. a chicken named for Shakespeare.  :-)   How the heck did I make that connection?  Well, Shakespeare is known as the Bard (storyteller).  Bard and barred are pronounced exactly the same!  I never thought to associate our Barred Rock chickens with their striped feathers .. which is where the "barred" comes from.  Barred = striped.

Buff Orpington
The Buff Orpington is called the Raptor.  Why?  Well, when she was a chickie, she'd look at you EXACTLY like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.  It was scarey. :-)  

The black Astrolorp is an Australian breed that comes from the Orpington stock .. and sure enough, our black Astrolorp looks just like the Raptor, except it's black.

We have 2 other black chickens .. the Black Jersey Giants.  Interestingly, they are called Black, not because of their color, but because they were developed by the Black Brothers, who lived in New Jersery.  They were looking to develop a larger breed. 

How do I tell the Orpington/Astrolorps from the Black Jersey Giants?  Well, the Orpington/Astrolorps have *very* *fluffy* butts.  :-)

other Americauna
The Americaunas .. which could be true Americaunas .. or they could be just mutt "Easter eggers" .. I don't know.  The store sold them as Americaunas.  Frankly, I don't much care.  We have 2 of them, each differently colored from the other.  What matters is that they both lay green shelled eggs.  :-)

our broody Marans
And then there's the Marans.  She looks VERY much like a Barred Rock, but upon close inspection, her feathers look somewhat more "blurred".  Currently, she's being a broody hen.  She thinks she'd like to be maternal and will sit on anyone's eggs.  We gather the eggs everyday and don't let her sit on them to hatch.  But that doesn't bother her .. she just sits anyway.  She becomes very disgruntled with me when I fuss around under her feathers to get the eggs. :-)

Our chickens have a nice chicken coop, with 6 roosting bars and a nesting box that will comfortably hold 6 hens PLUS 4 buckets (sitting on their sides) below the nest boxes to provide space for 4 more hens to lay eggs.  Turns out that the hens don't care to have individual nesting places .. they prefer to 'hot bunk' a spot.  Somehow they all decide that a particular spot is THE SPOT OF ALL SPOTS to lay eggs and EVERYONE wants to lay eggs there.  That's why the Marans hen is able to sit on 6 eggs at a time!

Barnvelder (I think)
They have a large chicken yard that is fenced in.  They are able to come and go in and out of the chicken coop as they wish.  Around 1-1/2 hours before sundown, we open up the gate tot he chicken yard to let them out onto the lawn and undeveloped areas.  This lets them be a free range chicken for a while.  :-)

I'd like to think we have very contented chickens.  Who are also very stupid.  :-)  :-)

Current Forever Project: Dress Me Up, dress 12

oh hooray, hooray!  The last of the hand-embroidered dress blocks is finally finished! 

This is dress #12 and although I don't *think* the 12 blocks were supposed to be a Dress of the Month sort of thing, this dress is definitely Christmasy.

There's no fancy stitching to give you a close-up of  ... just the stitches that I've used all along .. a whipped backstitch, embellished here with French knots.

Now that all the hand-embroidery is done, I am now thinking about what kind of setting to put them in. 

The pattern calls for a 3 x 4 grid with narrow sashing.  A perfectly fine layout, to be sure, but I'm not overly enthusiastic about it.

Garden Lattice sashing
If it's going to be a grid, I'd like to put a different twist on it.  I've always like the Garden Lattice sashing (and have used it before)

But ... I've *used* this sashing before and perhaps I'd like something similar but still different??

"Spanish Tiles" by Deborah Peterson
In my wanderings around the internet, I came across a new book, "Living Large 2" by Deborah Peterson.  One of the quilts in this book is titled "Spanish Tiles" and looks like a Garden Lattice variation.  I really like it!

Or maybe an Attic Window format might look nice.   I haven't done an Attic Window in a while.

BUT .. since I used an overly large piece of fabric to embroider on, I have quite a bit of background to play with.  Another possibility is to put the dresses in an oval shape, rather than a rectangle. 

Hmmm ... maybe I could find an ornate machine embroidery and put some fancy machine embroidery at the tops & bottoms of the ovals .. kind of like a Victorian picture frame.

There are lots of different possibilities open at this point and I'll need to ponder on the problem for a while.  I'll put it on the back burner and let my subconscious work at it.

In the meantime, I need to find a new Forever Project!    They sure don't make Forever Projects last as long as they used to!  :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oz jelly roll quilt, part 1+

Note: if you've read this entry before, please be aware that I've added an addendum as of November 2011. (section is below; just scroll down)

I've mentioned the Oz Jelly Roll quilt in passing in other posts, but it really deserves its own set of entries.  It all started when Dear Daughter #2 was in Perth, Australia for a semester at Edith Cowan University.   I had mentioned to her that should she buy some fabric in Australia, I would make her "something" from it.  She bought this jelly roll, produced by Fabric Editions from their "Fabric Palettes" line.

After looking through a LOT of patterns and ideas, she finalized her decision on "Zen and the Jelly Roll", designed by Laura Paulu from the book, "Jelly Roll Inspirations".

The pattern calls for 1 Jelly Roll.  We have one Jelly Roll.

The Jelly Roll in the pattern should have 40 strips.  Our Jelly Roll has 20 strips.  oops.  It's not like we can dash out to the store and buy some more.

Design decision: our quilt will simply be half has large.  :-)   The original design has 20 blocks in a  4x5 block layout with borders, which results in a decently sized quilt at 66" x 78".  Since I have half as many strips, I could only get 10 blocks ... and there is exactly one reasonable arrangement for that ... 2x5 blocks ... which results in a very long, narrow, skinny strip.

Not to worry, VERY WIDE side borders will fix it.  :-)  Several arrangements of side borders were presented to DD#2 and with her decision, this is where I am right now.

This quilt will finish around 44" x 60".

 DD#2 likes vines, so in each side border, there will be an appliqued vine with flowers (flowers not shown at this point).

There are many techniques to making and appliquing narrow bias strips for vines.  This is the method I am using for this quilt:

1. cut bias 1" wide
2. fold in half, wrong sides together and seam at 1/4" from the raw edge. (Yes, *wrong* sides together).
3. trim seam allowance in half
4. place raw edge of bias against the placement line, previously drawn on the base fabric
5. stitch over seamline stitching to attach bias to base fabric
6. pull the folded edge of bias over the seamline and cover the raw edge. Hand stitch in place. Alternatively, you could machine stitch the folded edge with top-stitching or blind hem stitch.  In this case, I am preferring to hand-stitch.

 November 2011 edit:

oh my!  I received a lovely comment from Laura Paulu herself  (designer of this pattern)!   Sadly, Laura is 'anonymous' so I couldn't contact her directly.  I hope she comes back to read this addendum.

When I reviewed this post, I was appalled to see that I hadn't posted the completed top with all of the applique!  No, it's still not quilted (along with a boatload of other tops) but it's on the List!  :-)  So, without further ado, here's the finished top!

The first appliqued flower was the traditional sort ... constructed of individual, small pieces and hand stitched in place.  I realized this was going to take me beyond forever to finish.

Then I remembered a long-ago technique called "Broderie Perse", which essentially is fussy cutting a pre-printed image and appliqueing it onto a different base fabric.

I combed my stash for appropriate floral fabric and came up with a number of candidates.  These flowers were cut out and hand stitched onto the wide borders.  It didn't turn out half badly. :-)

As I was creating the wide border strips, it occurred to me that it would be a Very Cool design feature of the cut off points of the blocks on the edge would actually emerge into the border itself.  I carefully and PAINFULLY pieced each little triangle into the gray border.  What an utter nightmare.

When it came to the print borders, it occurred to me .. what an idiot I was! ... I could have had the same effect but easier construction if the triangles were *Prairie Points*!  Well, I wasn't about to undo then re-do the pieced triangles already in place, but I did make Prairie Points to extend into the print border *and* along the outer edge of the quilt.  I'm going to need to be careful when I quilt this part of the quilt!

During the construction of the top, I collected some perfectly nice but small triangle units.  Not being a person to waste a lovely pieced segment, I made a box throw pillow to coordinate with the quilt (whenever it gets quilted, that is!).

Here's the front of the throw pillow.

and the back.

As is usual with my throw pillows, this one also has a concealed zipper in the bottom boxing strip so the cover can be removed for laundering.

And I'm especially pleased with the way the corners of the pillow turned out ... they are SQUARE.  It really annoys me when I see throw pillows with dogears for the corners.  It's such an easy adjustment to the corner of the pattern to make sure that the finished pillow has square corners.

I'm *pretty* sure that I've already given the throw pillow to Dear Daughter #2 .. the Lover of All Things Purple.  At least, I hope I did.  Because if I didn't, I'm not sure where the pillow is!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Jane Austen quilt, part 7 - and the beat goes on ...

Or .. now we get down to the real nitty-gritty.  It's simply diamond after diamond ... sashing segment, diamond, lather, rinse, repeat.  Ad infinitum.

I was originally thinking that this was going to be a Great Ordeal, some arduous task, mind-numbingly boring.  It turns out that I am only partially correct. :-)

It *is* repetitious.  But as with all things that are this way, I get into a sort of Zen state of mind.  I have a procedure .. a method .. a technique .. that breaks everything down into steps .. rather like painting the Golden Gate Bridge (to use a local comparison!).  Looking at the task as a whole, it is daunting.  But, broken down into its piece parts, it's quite manageable.

Even so, I find my mind wandering onto other projects that I could be working on or ones that I am thinking about working on.  I find myself playing hooky on the Jane Austen quilt to work on other projects.  :-) 

Like the Oz Jelly Roll quilt.  Dear Daughter #2 (the same one for whom the Jane Austen quilt is made) spent a semester in Perth, Australia at Edith Cowen University.  She purchased a Jelly Roll whilst there and upon her return home and after looking at many Jelly Roll friendly designs, decided on one.    I've been working on that design, off and on. 

Currently, it's long and skinny.  There is a pieced border on the top & left sides.  I'm working on the other two sides, as you can see by the gray strip of fabric in the top right corner.  There will eventually be more borders on the sides only.  The length is good; we just need more width.

You can see that the Oz Jelly Roll contains purple.  The Jane Austen quilt is purple.  I hope you are sensing a trend.  :-)

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Jane Austen quilt, part 6 - third time's a charm

Happily, *this* sashing fabric choice made the cut (uh .. oh, a pun!).  The ribbon stripes have been removed, pressed and put away for some other project, yet to be determined.

The *REAL* sashing is now being sewn to all those hundreds and thousands and inkle-dillion diamonds.  (Not really, but it sure feels like a gazillion.)  The setting triangles for each diagonal row are cut out (since I hadn't done them previously), I stack all the diamonds for the row on top of each other then chain stitch them to a sashing strip.  They look rather like a banner.  :-)  The seam allowance is pressed towards the sashing strip and they are then cut apart and re-stacked on each other.

Then the diamonds (which now have a sashing segment sewn to them) are sewn together to form the diagonal row.

The diagonal row is sewn to the previous sashing strip. I'm trying to be very careful to align the seams of the sashing segments to the sashing segments of the previous row.  I'm doing pretty well on that score (see the red dashed line).  They aren't all 100% perfect; there are some alignments that could be better.  But from the back of a galloping horse at a distance of 5 miles while there is a 10 mph breeze, it looks doggone good.  :-)

The seam allowance is pressed towards the sashing.

A new, long sashing strip is cut and sewn to the newly sewn diagonal row.  I have reached the point where a single WOF cut from the sashing fabric isn't sufficiently long enough for the diagonal row.  I need to piece the sashing.  The seamline should (ideally) align with  the sashing segment seamlines for visual continuity.  My first attempt (the green dashed line) was almost good enough.  I think next time I'll try Sharon Schamber's glue basting tip.

Continue onwards, ad infinitum.  This sashing fabric looks very much like the original sashing fabric (of which I didn't have enough), so DD#2 is pleased.  I'm pleased that she is pleased.  We are both pleased with each other.  Isn't that nice?  :-)