Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Surprise" - another Kaleidoscope

Sometimes you stare and stare at your fabrics, and can't make up your mind. OK, a vision -- another Kaleidoscope! Yes, I've blogged about this block before. (NOTE - NONE OF THESE WEDGE SEAMS WILL BUTT UP TO THE NEXT WEDGE SEAM - that's another project).

Sew a bunch of strips together, various widths. I particularly like the appearance of dark to light values. I wanted mine to be at least 9.5 inches in width. The first and the last should be wider strips, 2 to 2.5 inches. This allows for some options with ruler placement. A narrower strip at top or bottom might almost disappear in the seam allowances. Some of the strips are even pieced.

Then, I used my Marilyn Doheney 45 degree ruler (others are available) to cut 8 wedges from each strip set. Most strip sets gave me an extra 9th wedge, a bonus!

I LOVE this technique because look what happens! A SURPRISE! These are not yet sewn together. You can keep all 8 together, or, in my case, one of the blocks was too pale, so I exchanged 4 from another block that was too dark.
Starting from the wide side of the wedge, sew them together towards the center, ALWAYS with the SAME (either the light or the dark) on top, sewing towards the small point, paying particular attention to getting those tips to butt up tightly. Press the wedges open, and from the back, that seam should go clockwise. Sew the twosies to foursies, and keep the point perfect! Press clockwise again (from the back).
Now sew the foursies into one unit. My particular example is a little not-perfect from the back but the point is perfect!
The important part of this block is the center. If you pressed those points FLAT, and all pressed clockwise, your center is close to perfect.

But there is one more step to avoid the center LUMP! See those 3-4 vertical stitches (marked purple here)? Remove them - don't worry - nothing falls apart. Remove those 3-4 vertical stitches from the front and from the back, then open the block, and "twirl" that center open, mashing it with your finger, and the pressing it FLAT. All the seams are twirling around the center.
I have 5 blocks made and maybe I will finish the rest in the next few days, then add corners. I've made 6-8 others Kaleidoscope quilts -- it's a wonderful block/pattern for using up width-of fabric strips. Years ago, I even tried using UGLY fabric, pushing common sense, only to discover they worked out nicely as well!

There will be corners to these blocks, yet to decide. I expect to make 8 blocks plus using the bonus wedges, and then add borders. I urge you to try this very easy pattern. There is no stress, only a few rules, great stashbuster, all of mine have been successful. This pattern came from M'liss Rae Hawley (several books) when I attended her class at the Nebraska State Quilt Guild Convention in Chadron about 4 years ago.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crummy quilting, and Raw Edge Applique BOM

My first inclination to quilt the borders was to Keep It Simple Stupid, with straight in-the-ditch quilting between each of the 4 borders, which were designed to replicate the log cabin strips. I should have listened to myself. Even as I was machine quilting, I didn't really like it, but 'something' took over my common sense and made me keep going, until I was finished, only to discover it was NOT GOING TO 'do'! The quilting thread is too dark in the light and too light in the dark, and just too plain busy! I spent 3 long TV evenings, taking it all out, and you all know what a mess that was! (Note to self - "Listen to your own good advice.")

I'll let it sit for a few days, then mist it, to reduce all the danged needle holes. grrrrrr! and then will quilt in the ditch.

Below is our Guild BOM for April, a raw edge applique. I wasn't going to do them but a friend gave me some squares to start on, and what is a friend going to do in return? She'll be checking on me, most likely! So Anita, here are my 3 blocks! And as you said, they WERE great fun.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Workshop, Rebuilt Log Cabin

My Guild asked me to teach/hold a workshop on my Rebuilt Log Cabin. Here's a bunch of us, sharing a large beautiful library room with another class. We have so many members (138) that we frequently have 2 classes planned, instead of just one. This meeting was local and many of the gals car-pooled but I only had to travel 5 minutes! THAT saved ME the usual 2 hours of driving. Happy Day!

My post of March 12 and March 15 shows one version of a nearly finished, Rebuilt Log Cabin.

I'm embarrassed to see I didn't get everyone in my photos! Jeesh! I also see the value of understanding how to make a slide show instead of individual photos.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Salmon Trawler, Incognito?, and Rulers

I took my husband's boat down to dust the shelf and had no where to put it except on my basting table. Uhhh - hey, where did it go???

This is how he describes this boat.

34 ft, "Courageous" named for xxxxxx, with health struggles, patterned after the Bud Galli Book, The Little Boat that Could. Monterey type salmon trawler, San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf. Circa 1908 to 1934. 30' x 9' x 3', 7 ton, 10 hp Hicks engine, scale 5/8" = 1'-0" Billings model, modified, 126 hours, 6 glues, 2010.

When planning my recent Log Cabin variation, I decided to give the June Tailor ruler, Shape Cut, a try. Holy Smoke - for Log Cabins, or any kind of strips, if you have a table large enough, this ruler is better than sliced bread! I've always had issues keeping my strips the right size. This eliminates THAT issue, because you are holding down the entire piece of fabric with the ruler and there is NO slippage. This tool totally eliminated my eye strain. Even if you have excellent vision, I DO recommend this tool if you cut all your fabric at one time. I DO think it's cumbersome for cutting bits and pieces at a time. The slots are for your rotary cutter. I am using Olfa rotary cutters - my Dritz does not work. I used a coupon and I think it was about $25.00. It's large enough so you can fold your fabric twice (4 layers). The slots are at the half inch. You can zip through cutting so quickly, it's easy to get carried away - be careful with your math. Again, check your rotary cutter to see if it fits.

The smaller ruler, "Quarter Cut" (below) remains unused -- perhaps someone can give me hints as to the best way to use it. It has quarter inch markings, which sounded like a good thing at the time, but it's not large enough to cut WOFabric. Maybe it would be more useful if you just cut SOME pieces at a time. ??

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Back in the Studio

Despite unsettling days, sadness, and looking forward (NOT!) to cataract surgery in the next month or so, I've managed to get this quilt top together. I can't say I'm too perky though.

On National Quilt Day, (March 19) I am teaching/leading a workshop on this quilt. It's a bit wild, but I am sure quilting helps to blend the values. The corners are mitered, and I used those strips in the border, thinking of "repitition", "rhythm", and "continuity." My thread is a soft smokey blue, not too dark, and I will quilt it a LOT. Most likely it will be a QOV, for a female soldier. You can see it's VERY scrappy. Nothing except batting was purchased for this project.

I am waiting for another Quilting DVD to arrive, this one from the Pajama Quilter. If a person just uses 1 or 2 ideas from these kinds of quilting DVDs, then it's worth it!

My friend Chell who always perks me up, joined me last week for a Sew Day. She's making delicious progress! Click on the link for the direction she's heading! Stunning!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

On Leave for a While

Due to health issues of family members (not me, nor husband) I need to take a blog-leave for a bit. Too much is happening these days. I'm still trying to visit your blogs, and still sewing to keep me somewhat grounded. We've all been there. Life, death, health, family squabbles, time limitations, etc.

I'm giving a quilt workshop in a few weeks, and am hoping that pleasant event will pull me back into my 'normal' stride.