Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Project - Summer Robe

Last time I mentioned an emergency sewing project, well here it is. This is my summer robe, a lovely pink seersucker with Swiss embroidery edging the collar and sleeves.

Some time ago, I had a run in with this. No problem, just a quick mend and you can barely see it.

Now that it's spring I've started wearing the robe, the evil door handle struck again, and I have this. It's way too hard to patch very well, plus there are some stains on the robe that I just can't get out. I have to stop cooking in my robe, or at least wear an apron.

Quite a few years ago I bought this blue gingham seersucker fabric, which is perfect for a lightweight summer robe. Out of my stash of lace I found this Swiss embroidery (it's actually white, not ivory).

A quick search on line and I found this robe/nightgown pattern Butterick 5544. View C has a quilted bodice, sleeves, front and hem band. I'll make this using the sleeves and bodice from B, eliminating the bands.  The skirt is gathered, so I think I'll try to add some smocking to it. Also, I think I'll use German interfacing for the bodice, front band and maybe the sleeve facings at the wrist. On the old robe the front facings always got very wrinkled and I really disliked that.

The original robe is from Eileen West, with her monogram on the back facing. I love the idea, and if you remember by granddaughter's pjs, you'll see her monogram on the back facing.

The pattern calls for a self lined bodice, but I'll use a white voile to keep it from being too heavy. Here is my monogram, obviously machine made. I did use Mettler No. 60 embroidery thread for the embroidery and water soluble stabilizer. I don't like the shine from rayon threads on a cotton garment and I don't want any bits of paper stabilizer sticking to the embroidery and not washing out for a couple of years.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Break in the Piecework

I've finally finished sewing all the extra triangles I had cut for my Blue and Cream Quilt, and I'm left with this pile of blocks and pieces. For specific inventory, I have

Two each of this block, which I will call the large blue star and is 12 inches (30.5 cm) square.

Eight each of this block, the large cream star, also 12 inches (30.5 cm).

Twenty of this block, my wrongly sewn Rising Star. If it slipped your mind, you can see that the innermost triangles are opposite of what they should be. It is also 12 inches (30.5 cm) square.

Forty each of the small blue star and the small cream star, both 6 inches (15 cm) square.

Eighty-six of the flying geese for the small blue star, this amount will make 21 6 inch (15 cm) blocks.

And finally, 94 of the flying geese for the small cream star, which is enough for 23 6 inch (15 cm) blocks.

Now, what to make with all this? Twenty 12 inch (30.5 cm) blocks will make a nice lap quilt, especially if I add a small border. So that takes care of the wrongly sewn Rising Star blocks. Then I could take enough of the small blue and cream stars and make them into large blue and cream stars so that I have ten each, and that will make another lap quilt. Then I could sew enough of the flying geese blocks into 6 in (15 cm) star blocks to total 40 of each color, and make yet another lap quilt. Actually I would need 80 blocks each, but I could intersperse the stars with squares of blue or cream. That would still leave quite a few of the flying geese left over, but I think they would be perfect for pillowcase hems. I might even have enough for some pillow shams, but I think that's getting a bit busy. Plain cream pillowcases with the flying geese hems might be enough. Still, that's three lap quilts which are quite a few. Maybe I should make one lap quilt and a full? I do need to play around with layouts to see what would work.

At any rate, they are all trimmed, sorted and bagged, just waiting to be sewn. It's time to put them away for a bit, as I have an emergency project to do right now. Also, I have gone too long without embroidery, and I'm feeling the itch to get back to it. The large quilt from this post has been sent to the quilter, and I won't see it again for about a month.

Next time, emergency sewing project, or maybe back to embroidery.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Some Really Tedious Sewing

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a lot of leftover cut fabric to sew into blocks so the fabric wouldn't be wasted. One would think that by now I would have learned to count.  But, I guess I never did too well in math (tongue in cheek, I actually have had two years of college calculus, but then, that isn't the same as counting, is it?) and so now have lots of little triangles to sew into something useful. I haven't counted all these little flying geese blocks, but I'm estimating that there are about 150 or so.

They are now being sewn into six pointed star blocks. I'll make all the blocks, then see what quilts I can make with them. I think I can get another full size quilt and maybe a lap quilt.

I have eight of these, and two of the reverse color combination. Since they are 12 inches square, 20 blocks will make a nice lap quilt if I put a small border around it. I hope I have enough in my stash to make these from the smaller stars. I really don't want to buy any more fabric.

In the last post I mentioned that there was a mistake in the finished quilt. This is a Rising Star block, and it is sewn correctly.

This one isn't! In the photo of the quilt top hanging over the banister, the Rising Star in the lower left hand corner is the one that's off.  As it turned out I had an extra block that was sewn correctly, so I changed them out. There are also four six inch star blocks in a row, when they are supposed to alternate by two's. But they are staying right where they are.

As you can imagine, this sewing isn't too exciting. In fact, it's really, really, boring. But I'm listening to books or music while sewing and trying not to do too much at once.

I hope to bring the finished quilt top to the quilter sometime this week. One of our local quilt shops, the Orange Quilt Bee in Orange (of course!) has a "B&B" day on the 25th of each month. If you bring in your quilt to be measured you get 25% off backing and batting. That saved quite a bit!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Piecing the Quilt Top

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

One Little Corner Finished

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

A Mistake and a Border Decision

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

Quilt Update

I've made quite a bit of progress on the Blue and Cream Quilt since the last post. I've finished all of the small and large star blocks in both color combinations. Shown here and below are the 12 inch blocks. If you remember, the six inch blocks are just the inside portion.

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.