Wednesday, March 5, 2014
As you know, this Blue and Cream quilt top is pretty big, about 100 inches (254 cm) square, and to make piecing it really hard, it's put together on the diagonal. I mentioned in an earlier post that I bought a set of square rulers which have turned out to be extremely useful. Notice above that the six inch (15 cm) block is just a bit larger than the ruler. To make matters worse, it's not quite even all around the block.
Trimming it to size (including the seam allowance) squares up the block, making it much easier to accurately piece the blocks together. It is so easy to stretch the fabric out of shape with all the bias seams, no matter how well starched the fabric is or how slowly you sew.
I found some little sandpaper dots to affix to the wrong side of the ruler. This keep the ruler from slipping over the fabric, which is particularly easy to do when you are holding the ruler down over a seam. The edges always seem to slip.
All of the smaller blocks were sewn together to make 12 inch (30.5 cm) blocks for each row.
This might seem pretty picky, but to sew the rows together, I pinned the blocks at the seams so they would match, them evenly spaced pins along each block. Then I steamed the pinned blocks to help shrink out any excess fabric. It seemed to take forever, but the results were worth it. All the blocks are pretty well matched. I only found one tiny pleat in the whole quilt, and I was able to rip out several inches and ease the seam back into place. Also notice that the fabric is double pinned. This helps tremendously to keep the fabric together while transporting such large pieces to the machine. Once you train yourself to do it it really doesn't take much time, and it is so worth the effort.
Here is part of the finished quilt top. I don't have anywhere that I can hang this so you can see the whole thing. It's just too darn big. Over the next week or so I'll find some backing material and send it out for quilting. By the way, can you see the mistakes? They are staying in!
What to do next? I still have an awful lot of cut fabric left over! I have three of the large stars, one Rising Star (that's the swirly block), a few small stars, and hundreds of half square triangles for flying geese blocks. I also have enough of the Rising Star partial blocks (all sewn wrong, of course) to make a lap quilt. I'll be slowly sewing them together, as the goal is to rid myself of all cut fabric, then see what I can make with what I have. I'll definitely have enough for a couple of lap quilts or maybe a full size. It's a good thing I love the blue and cream combination.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
I've chosen to go with the third border option from the previous post, which I'm sure will give me fits as I try to swap out blue and cream pieces and keep it the pattern correct. But if you compare the piecing diagram in the previous post with the segment above, you might see a mistake.
See the two blocks the seam ripper is straddling? Well, they are reversed. The two star blocks shouldn't be next to each other, they should be on point to each other. So I ripped away and sewed them back correctly.
And here it is, correct this time. This section only measures about 44 inches (112 cm) on the right sides of the triangle. Since this will finish at about 100 inches (254 cm) on each side, you can see I have quite a long way to go. Right now this piece of a quilt is in our study, right behind where I'm sitting as I write this. I think I can squeeze in an extra row in the space I have available, but it will have to wait until Tuesday, which is my next completely free day. With the color changes that I'm making and the somewhat complex piecing diagram, I need to take this very slowly and carefully. So far, so good.
If you would like to see all of the posts on this quilt, just click here to view them.
Monday, February 17, 2014
In the last post I told you that I was finished with my blocks for the Blue and Cream Quilt. Well, not quite! I had made the decision to make the quilt square by adding two more columns, so this required more blocks. But after I made six of the above blocks I noticed the mistake. See it? The corner squares are supposed to be cream, not blue. The blue corner squares certainly take away the star shape, don't they? The above photo shows the deconstruction of the block, as I had ripped out the top and bottom end strips before remembering to take the photograph.
This is what it's supposed to look like, much better, don't you think? Now after getting these finished, I truly am finished with the blocks. Now, on to the Border Decision.
The quilt will now measure approximately 93 inches (236 cm) square. I'd like it to be a bit larger so it will hang nicely over my very high mattress. Also, the design of the border should look like it belongs in the quilt. So I played around with the triangles above. These would add about 3 1/2 inches (almost 9 cm) to each side, which is quite a bit. Also, the quilt seems too dark. Horrid photo as I took it at night with artificial light.
Daylight photography is so much better! I then swapped out the plain triangles and squares for their opposite colors, and added a strip border so the blue of the blocks would be floating in the cream background. It's definitely brighter, but that extra 2 inch (5 cm) strip throws the whole design off kilter.
I even fiddled around with some extra flying geese strips along the sides, but decided that would tax my piecing skills to the hilt. So after much swapping of triangles and squares, this is what I ended up with. The balance of blue to cream seems good, not too light or dark, and it will be pretty easy to do. The quilt will measure out to 100 inches (254 cm) square, which is almost a king sized quilt, but at least it will cover the mattress nicely on all sides.
Now my big problem will be how to lay this thing out so I can piece the rows, which are diagonal, without making too many mistakes. I used to lay them out on the living room floor, but right now it is still torn up from the pipe leak. Repairs will start tomorrow, so I may put much of this off until the new floor is in. That way I can lay it out on the floor, transfer each section to the dining room table and sew away.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
I cropped the photos so much that you can't see the little pieces that need to be cut off from where the triangles are sewn onto the squares. To help with this and make sure all the blocks are the same size I've ordered the Omnigrid Ruler Value Pack, available at Joann, Walmart, Amazon, and many other places. The pack contains four square rulers two of which are 6.5 inches and 12.5 inches, perfect for squaring up the blocks in this quilt.
I mentioned last time that this quilt will be too small for my bed, so I was trying to decide whether to make it a square quilt or add a border. After measuring the bed again, I will definitely need the extra rows to make it square. Here I've added the total number of blocks that I need. I've finished all the stars on the left, now to start on the remaining five of Block X that I'll need.
This is a closeup of the quilt assembly, it looks pretty challenging, but I'll just have to take it very slowly and pin like crazy! I think I'll still need a bit of a border, so will have to think about that for a while. I may just get lazy and put alternating cream and blue triangles around the outside. I'll lay out the blocks and figure something out.
Ruth asked about starching the fabrics. I arrange the triangles on the ironing pad and spray with the starch, then iron until dry. This particular brand is clear and has a lovely fragrance, but I ran out some time ago and have been refilling the bottle with starch made from concentrate. See this post for details on how I make up the starch. If you do this sort of thing, it is much, much better to starch the fabric before cutting out, especially when working with triangles. Even if you are very careful, the triangles can stretch a bit, which can distort the shape of the block. Notice the iron shoe on the iron. I bought it when making my son's shirt to keep the fusible web from sticking, and it is very useful for that purpose. I finally took it off so I can get more heat onto the fabrics. I am keeping an old towel with iron cleaner on it and just use it every once in a while to keep the soleplate clean. The iron has a steel soleplate, not non-stick, so the starch does accumulate.
Update on the floor: everything is completely dry and most of the floor is removed. There are several holes in the walls, even the ceiling, that will need to be repaired and painted. This was so the plumber could isolate the offending pipe and blow epoxy through it. Luckily, it worked with only one application. They couldn't go into the concrete slab because it is a tension slab, which basically means that if it is disturbed, the structural integrity is compromised and the house could fall down. Scary!! The insurance is covering everything, thank goodness. The repair estimate goes to the insurance adjuster on Monday, they will cut us a check, then we can get on with the walls and floor. Right now all of the living room furniture is in the dining room, and everything is covered with a film of dust, which will only get worse. But at least the leak is fixed.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Several years ago, I forget how many, I cut out (well, mostly cut out) a quilt using this pattern from Quilter's Newsletter, January/February 2001. At the top of the page it says it is an intermediate pattern. It looks more advanced to me.
Lately, this unmade quilt, residing in an under bed plastic storage container, has been giving me very dirty looks, implying I should finish her. (Somehow I think of quilts as feminine, don't you?) While it may look rather messy, this is actually fairly well organized. I have each set of pieces in a plastic bag with a note that says how many pieces are needed and cut, along with some extras. As you can see in the magazine, this quilt is full of triangles which are a challenge to sew. Extras are always needed to replace all the poorly sewn pieces, of which I seem to have far too many.
These are the two blocks I'm working on right now. The Rising Star block on the left is completed, with all 20 made and trimmed. Not all of them have that slightly wonky four patch in the center. I need ten more of the star blocks on the right, with six of them getting larger Flying Geese to make an even bigger block. Then I have to make them in the reverse colors. This will take quite a while!
Piecing away! I found that most of the pieces that I had sewn years ago are so sloppy as to be unusable, so I'm redoing almost all of them. Over the years I have become much fussier in my work, which I think is a good thing. Luckily I have so much fabric I don't need to buy any more. I'm sure I also have enough for a backing. The pieces shown above are starched very well, which helps to keep the fabric from stretching while stitching. I didn't starch the pieces years ago when I started this quilt, and I'm sure it contributed to the poor piecing.
This quilt measures 76 1/2 inches by 93 1/2 inches, which will cover a queen sized bed. However, my bed has an extra high mattress, so I will have to make this wider. I can either add another border (easiest option) or add another two vertical rows, which will make it 93 1/2 by 93 1/2. As a rule, I like to make interesting borders, so I'll have to think about it. Luckily, I have plenty of time.
I hope to get quite a bit done today. We have plumbers coming in to fix a leak in the pipes which completely destroyed our new hardwood flooring in the living room. The floor hadn't even been in for two months. Oh well, it's only money, not something actually serious.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
This last October Mr. CS and I met our son from Connecticut and visited Washington, DC. Mr. CS especially wanted to see the Smithsonian museums, as he had never visited our nation's capital. Wait, you say, wasn't that during the government shutdown? Right you are! This was certainly an ill-timed visit. Luckily, there were several very interesting places that were still open. One of which was Washington National Cathedral, which has quite a bit of very lovely embroideries. In this post I'll show you the photos we took of the various banners.
We couldn't get up too close to them, and I don't have any information as to fabrics, threads, techniques, etc.
The ground fabrics do seem to be silk, judging from the sheen and general, well, "silkiness" of the fabric. There is definitely some appliqué and certainly a fair bit of gold work.
This is the poorest shot and was taken from furthest away from the actual banner. But I love the gold work, and the complicated cross that is on the bottom portion of all the banners. I'm sure there is a name to it and the significance is explained somewhere, and I'll look it up and share it with you. Some of you may know, so if you do, please drop me a line.
At this point I would like to draw your attention to the blog written by Ruth O'Leary of Ruth O'Leary Textile Arts. Back in early 2012, Ruth completed work on a commissioned piece, St. Cuthbert's Banner for the Durham Cathedral in Durham, UK. If you click on this link you will see St. Cuthbert's Banner in the upper left hand corner of the photograph. Now she is working on another banner, this time for the Druids! Ruth does lovely gold work, appliqué and general embroidery, and I encourage you to visit her site by clicking on this link.
Washington National Cathedral is open most days to visitors, although not today as they are expecting a snowstorm in the area. They even have a needlework Tour and Tea, which showcases all the needlework pieces on display. Virtually all of the seats have needlework cushions, and I'll show you some of those in an upcoming post.
Monday, January 20, 2014
I just completed a Craftsy class, Classic Tailored Shirt, with Pam Howard as the teacher. This was my first class, and I must say I'm pleased, mostly, but I'll explain more later. This is a shot of the finished shirt. Normally I blog as I progress through the project, but I was so into this that I just kept forgetting. The fabric is a white poly cotton, 65/45 that is an Oxford style fabric. This is fine for a wearable muslin, which is what this shirt is, but not much else. I also used a 100% cotton woven fusible Pellon interfacing, SF101 Shapeflex, for the collar, collar band, cuffs and front bands. DO NOT USE THIS STUFF! It bubbled after the first wash. I was able to iron it smooth again, but this is not a good thing.
The shirt is for my son, who has some severe fitting problems. He has a 18 3/4 inch neck but a 45 inch chest. So if he buys a shirt that fits him in the neck it's like a tent on him. With Pam's advice, I grafted the size 52 chest collar and collar band to the size 46 yoke and front. I didn't get the pattern dots quite right, but it did work and the shirt fits reasonably well.
I used Simplicity 1544, not the recommended Kwick Sew 3555, but only because KS 3555 is a women's pattern and I didn't want to have to order the men's pattern again. So off I went to Joann's to buy the Simplicity. They didn't have the KS. Don't worry, I didn't pay that price, I got it in the 5/$5.00 sale.
Once you start actually looking at shirts you'll be amazed at the differences in them. I used a square pocket instead of one with a point, as on the recommended pattern. This shirt also had a separate band for both fronts. The KS pattern folds over for both fronts. I looked at my husband's shirts and found that while most have separate bands, many have a separate band for only the buttonholes, and have a fold over band for the buttons. A few have fold over bands for both. The Simplicity pattern also had a tower sleeve packet, which you can see in the first picture. The KS pattern has a continuous bias strip for the placket, which I think is fine for children's clothes or maybe adult back neckline openings, but not in a tailored shirt.
All the seams are flat felled, which turned out to be much easier than I thought. The hem was super easy. Forget about the instructions in the patterns, which have you fold up the raw edge twice and sew, and it always seems to look sloppy. The course instructions have you sew a guideline 5/8 inch away from the hem (using a long stitch length), fold and press on the stitching line, then tuck under the raw edge with your fingers right at the machine and sew it down. You could press it first, but I found I didn't need to. Then remove the guideline, and it's a perfect hem. I didn't use a rolled hem foot as the one I have is much too small for this particular fabric.
I received this book for Christmas in 2012 and it has so much great information about shirtmaking. I'll be using this for inspiration and techniques as I make more shirts.
As I mentioned, I was going through my husband's shirts and found a few things to show you. Here are two tower plackets, one pointed and the other squared off. But look at how badly they are matched. Now, these are just department store shirts from Macy's, not at all pricey, but really, couldn't they have a bit of quality control?
This shirt pocket doesn't even match to the shirt.
This pocket matched, but it could have been centered with the stripes better. But that's one of the reasons we sew, to make our garments look good!
So what's next? My son requested a few alterations to this shirt. I had to make the sleeves and cuffs much narrower, but I did that while fitting, so now the cuffs fit perfectly. The sleeves are a bit too long, and the torso a bit too short. I'll make those changes in the next shirt. He is pleased that he now has a shirt that actually fits both in the neck and chest. But first, I may make a shirt for my other son, the one in Connecticut, who, now having graduated, is starting to need dress shirts. His fitting problem is that he is fairly small, so has a very hard time finding shirts that are small enough for him. Soon several of us will be driving to the LA garment district, where I hope to find some good shirting fabrics, with buttons to match. And some decent interfacing. I have German interfacing which always works beautifully, but it isn't stiff enough for what my son wants.
I mentioned a problem with the Craftsy class. What is happening is that the text boxes on the screen have increased in size, while the video portion is very small. If you set it to full screen it works, but then you can't see the comments or scroll through the various portions of the class. I've written to them, so we'll see. It looks to me like the platform just isn't very robust.