Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Just A Sip

I did manage to squeak in another addition to the Coffee Quilt.  I studied for about an hour but since I study in the sewing room and this quilt is on the design wall right in front of me it's a bit distracting.  :0)

This time I've added these dark triangles so the blocks are sitting square instead of on point.

When they were all up there on point I was thinking of doing a checker board of colors for in between each block.  But it's getting pretty big now so I decided to just do a sashing. 

I'm going to use the small panel squares for corner stones.  They are starting out as 2" squares so they will be 1.5" wide once I get them sewn in.  That might be a problem so I'll give it a test run.  I'm thinking I can do a 1/8" seam so I don't loose the images.  Then again as I'm writing this I'm thinking I may not be able to use them.  Decisions, decisions.

Which fabric do you like for the sashing?

There's light blue with coffee beans or

Dark brown with coffee rings!

I can't decide so let me know what you think.

This week is quilting with the once a month quilters so I'll be asking them and there's never a always a fresh opinion from them!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Coffee's On

Late Saturday afternoon I finally got started.  Since the blocks were already cut they didn't fit the dimensions called for in the pattern.  The math had me bogged down for a bit but then I decided to just pick a number and go with it.  I figured I could get a block big enough to cut down if I have to.  I keep looking at the pattern for inspiration but I don't know what it's going to turn out to be in the end.  Here's the progress on the first set of blocks.

Based on the largest of the motif squares I cut 5 inch strips from this pretty yellow fabric.  I starched and pressed the strips . . .

then cut them into 5 inch squares, then cut the squares in half diagonally to get all these triangles.  The starch really helps to stabilize the fabric when working with triangles since the side I'm sewing is the bias edge.

Looking at this picture I'm amazed how many tools are needed to make a quilt.  Although most of the work can be accomplished with as little as a ruler, a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, and a sewing machine, you can see from this and some of the other picture that scissors, starch, a seam ripper, several different size rulers, and a wooden pressing tool were also used.  (Not to mention the remotes for the TV!)

Anyway, the triangles are sewn to the fussy cut squares.  I chain pieced the top then bottom, left side then right side.  I don't know if there's a preferred order other than doing opposite sides so that the seams overlap in a pleasing way.  I'm a big believer in pressing after each step to keep things flat.  I don't use any additional starch unless the block is really not holding it's shape.

The triangles were purposely cut to be larger than the center square so to get them lined up with the centers of the sides of the squares I used this wooden pressing tool.  I just fold the block in half and press down with the tool to crease the fabric.  You can kind of see the triangles in the background have already been creased.  This is quicker than going to the ironing board.

That handy little tool is something I bought at a craft fair many years ago.  It was supposed to be used for spreading jelly or jam on toast.  I found it one day a couple of  years ago in a basket with all my baking things.  I never used it for jelly and hardly ever bake any more, except for holidays, so I decided it would get more use in the sewing room than in the kitchen.

I finished all 12 of these main blocks before calling it a night.

I laid them out on the design wall to be inspired for the next set of blocks. 

Guppy's not sure what to make of the whole thing.  He's wondering if he'll be able to reach the top row and pull them all off the board by morning ;o)

The finished blocks ended up being 8 inches square.  I'm thinking of doing scrappy "checker board" blocks to go in between.  That way I can mix in the smallest fussy cuts.  The medium size fussy cuts may end up as sashing corner stones or as part of the border. 

I'll be back with an update soon.  For now I'm off the tackle more math for the second set of blocks!

Oh yeah, I also started a couple of applique projects so I'll be writing about those soon too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Revisiting the Coffee Quilt

In general I love the creative process.  That's why I do this right?  Many times when I'm out shopping I'll find an individual piece of fabric spark something inside that makes me want to make a quilt right that very moment.  I have to have it.  I guess that's what leads to having a "stash" of fabrics!  (a.k.a. impulse buying LOL)

But it's a rare occasion when I can come home from shopping and start sewing.  In fact, I don't think I've ever done that because I prefer to wash and dry my fabrics before cutting and making the quilts.  Then of course there's that little thing called Life that has a way of taking my attention away from the daydreams of beautiful quilts.

So somewhere between the thrill of buying the fabric and the reality of actually having the time to start the project, 6 other ideas and 10 other projects have entered the picture!  That was the case with the Coffee Quilt.

Quite some time ago I had picked up this coffee fabric thinking I would use it for one of The Girls quilts.  It was a panel so I wasn't sure how I was going to cut it up.  I washed and dried it, then tucked it away safe from dust and cats.  

By the time I got around to doing something with it the weather had changed and it was just too hot to quilt.  The next time I pulled it out I was less than inspired and decided the colors were just not right for person that I initially wanted to give it to.  So back to the safe, clean, cat free zone for the Coffee Quilt.

Right now I"m between projects and this seemed like a great time to give it another try.  After much deliberation I had decided to cut the panel of fabric into each of the different motifs and ended up with this collection of squares.  Now what? 

I had purchased some coordinating fabrics when I bought the panel so I pulled those out looking for inspiration.  Then I searched my stash for even more coordinates.  I typically like to start with LOTS of choices and take out the ones that aren't working for me.

I went back to the pattern I had chosen back in August, shown in the top of the picture below.  Putting it all together I came up with this combination.  It seemed like a good match but I was less than thrilled to get started. 

Next I reviewed some of the pictures I had taken of the fabric "auditions" done back in August.  When the materials at hand just don't match up with the idea in your head it's hard to be excited about the project but this time I was determined to get it done.  And it's got to be quick because I'm supposed to be studying for an exam!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tube Block Try Out

It may seem like I haven't been up to much but I've really been busy which means I haven't taken the time to write any new posts.  Well, I'm back so here goes. 

Over the last few days of 2011 and into 2012 I finally got some time to work on the Chickadees quilt.  I took some time to indulge myself love of fabrics by pulling out some pieces that I hadn't considered before.  I truly want to make this a scrap quilt so I'm trying to let go of my need to make things match. 

While trying to make a final selection on the pattern I had some fun making blocks using the "tube" quilting method.  This is actually a method of cutting that is used to create blocks with half-square triangles using strip sets. There are several places on the Internet where you can find detailed instructions with measurements.  

Here's a brief walk through of this method. 
First you make a strip set with 2 strips - mine are beige and cranberry.

Press the strip set seam allowance toward darker fabric. 

Measure the open strip set then cut a strip equal to that measurement in a third color/print fabric.  This is important because you want to make sure you cut the next strip the right width.  I didn't measure, I just assumed, consequently my full strip wasn't quite wide enough.

Anyway, for this step I used a print that had a dark background and both cranberry and beige in the pattern.  Now place that wide strip over the step set, right sides together, and sew both edges so that you end up with a long tube.

TIP:  When sewing long strips like this it's a good idea to sew up one side then down the other to prevent stretching.

Now take the tube to the cutting board.  I used an 8 inch square ruler for this but you can use any ruler that has a 45 degree line on it.  Place the 45 degree line on the tube and line it up on the stitching at the bottom of the tube.  Slide it over until you have an area where all three fabrics are showing beyond the end of the ruler. Like this.  Cut off that end.  Depending on how frugal you want to be you can either throw that piece in your scrap bag or just throw it away. 

Now slide the ruler up so that the 45 degree line is on the upper outside seam. 

I'm not sure why but this close up got turned around and I can't seem to slip it back.  And I'm just noticing that the colors on these photos aren't the best.  But, hey, I'm a quilter, not a photographer!

The point is, the 45 degree line should be on the stitching and the end of the ruler should line up with the cut edge of the strip.  Now make the cut.

This next picture show the full block after it's been cut away from the tube and opened up. 

For the next block you again slide your ruler, this time to the bottom.  Line up the 45 degree mark on the seam at the bottom and cut.

 Voila! now you have two blocks that have opposite colors on the tips.

Continue cutting along the strip set until you get as many blocks as possible.  I think I ended up with 9 from one strip set.

Here are some of the layout options.

Light center

Dark Center

Hour glass

Stripes - which I think would be fun with more of a "scrappy" bunch of fabrics.

And finally the chevrons.

You really need to try this technique.  It was a lot of fun to see the results!

The Chickadee quilt is finished and it turned out great.  I didn't use this tube method because the fabric needed to have fussy cut blocks.  Instead I used the Disappearing Nine Patch just as I did for Betty's quilt.   I'll be taking Blue and Cream to the quilter this week and then Chickadees will get dropped off next.

In the mean time I've got a bunch of little things I want to re-visit and finish up before embarking on the next big project for The Girls which is a Log Cabin block but that's all I can say!

I promise I'll be posting some of those small projects so stay tuned.