Monday, March 26, 2012

Broken Spiderweb Block

This is the second BOM for March. It is another string block, using narrow strips of fabrics sewn using a foundation (a triangle this time). However we are not sewing the strips to the triangle but merely using it as a guide for placement as we sew one strip to the next. We leave a diamond shape, in the background color, at the center of the triangle.

Turn the piece over and trim it back to the foundation piece.

And then trim off the unused foundation to reduce bulk.

The back of the triangle after trimming.

You make 4 triangles and fit them together to create a square.

Sew the triangles together, pressing the seams open. 

Then square it up to 12.5" to match the rest of your BOM blocks and hang it on your design wall.

I can't wait for April. I'm anxious to see the new block patterns. I leave you with a close-up of my favorite fabric from the Broken Spiderweb Block. It reminds me of my Reggie.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

String Quilt Block

This string block is the first of the 2 blocks featured for March and uses foundation piecing. "String" is a term quilters use for a piece of fabric that is too narrow to do anything else with. All the strips for this block are 1" to 2" wide. Those strips are sewn, in a random sequence, diagonally across the foundation square, leaving 1/2" of the white foundation in the center.

Then you turn the block over....

...and trim it down to the original foundation block, being careful not to cut away any of the foundation square.

Make 3 more blocks, arrange them into a pleasing diamond configuration and sew them together. The back will look like this.

Here are the 5 blocks I've made thus far. One more block to go and then I'll have to wait until April for the new patterns.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Elna Supermatic

...found me. This is an older model than the one I already had. The paint on it is exceptional and there is absolutely no rust on the case. I am going to order up replacement rubber cones for both my Elnas and then see which one I like the best. I will probably sell the other eventually. Once I get it all refurbished. I have some duplicate cams I can include with the one I sell. These older Elna's are just awesome and built like a tank. Superior Swiss engineering. Can you believe a lady was going to take it to the Goodwill?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Today's Bargains

It looks like we have that health scare taken care of. Time to get back to the business of living. I have always tried to enjoy each day like it could be my last, and being ill has just reinforced that philosophy. Life is short so play with your toys! One of the things I really enjoy is hunting for bargains. Shopping at the mall and paying full price just doesn't do it for me. So when I realized I had a 40% off coupon for Half Price Books, that expired today, I got myself over there. I used my coupon to purchase a book on machine quilting. It will go hand in hand with an online course I am taking. I also picked up 8 quilting magazines and another quilting book. I spent a little over $20.

Then I went to check out a consignment store next to Guns & Bows on Pacific Ave. in Tacoma. I believe the shop is called 'This & That'. I can't find them listed when I Googled but apparently they have been there for nearly a year. It was a cool place. There is quite a variety of items from collectibles to tools, housewares to clothing. I enjoyed poking around and came away with this tin full of sewing notions for $3.

Almost directly across the street from this shop is my favorite Saint Vinnie's. I couldn't be in that end of town without paying a quick visit. I spent about $20 and came away with the following.

 A gorgeous red sweater with beading and bullion stitch roses.

A lovely blue silk blouse.

My costume for this Halloween.

A pile of assorted zippers.

Some uncut patterns, a few of which are trading stock.

And some iron on patches.

While I was taking these photos Reggie was sitting on the floor crying. He was telling me he wanted to sit up on the chair. Why? I have no idea. I actually forgot I'd put him there and left him for about 20 minutes. He just sat there quietly. Funny dog.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Starting Singha's Quilt

My current health issue has been so distracting. I forgot all about making my cat his quilt. Meanwhile I have been taking a couple of online quilting courses, learning new blocks and some machine quilting techniques. Singha's quilt will be better for the wait. I really enjoyed making the Balkan Puzzle Block for the Craftsy BOM class. I am using that block, in a kitty print, for this little quilt top.

I will be having surgery today and tomorrow but I hope to feel up to quilting by this weekend. I was going to monogram his initials onto one of the blue triangles but I don't want to mar the symmetry of the quilt square.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Design Wall

Due to a bit of a health crisis I will find myself stuck at home for the next couple of months. Good thing I've stocked up on toys. I have enough fabric and sewing machines to keep me occupied. And I need to finish organizing my sewing room. It's a tiny little bedroom but I have managed to squeeze in 4 sewing machines, in their respective cabinets, and a good sized cutting table. One thing I've been wishing for is a design wall. A place to lay out my quilt blocks and arrange them to be visually pleasing. A table is fine for piecing individual blocks but once you begin assembling the quilt you need a larger space. Looking around my tiny, crowded sewing room I knew there was no place for a design wall. Or was there? One day it dawned on me. The sliding closet doors are "almost" a wall. Why can't I hang a portable wall over the doors? This week Jo-Ann Fabrics is having 50% off all their quilting notions. While I was there picking up my suction cup handles, to use with my cutting rulers, I spied a pre-made portable design wall from Fons & Porter. If I had to pay full price it would not have been worth it, but at 50% off I couldn't pass it up. I couldn't make one for $12.50. My husband installed some hooks above the closet doors and hung it for me.

You can get the same effect by hanging a large flannel backed plastic tablecloth, but I like having the grommets along the top. There is also a grid pattern on the back that shows through so you can line up your blocks. If you miss the current sale, which ends Saturday, you can always use one of those Jo-Ann's coupons to get it. Or just look at the dollar store or Big Lots! for a large plastic tablecloth and some thumb tacks.

It seems my bees have come through the winter just fine. Yesterday they were out flying like crazy. Apparently there is quite a bit blooming right now because they are finding pollen as evidenced by this poor girl who didn't make it back to the hive. I found her dead on the walkway, her pollen baskets filled and her underside also covered. It looks like she crawled right up into a huge flower.

I also wanted to show why it's important to keep your kombucha bottles stored in boxes. They can explode. Wednesday I was down in the basement, watching 'Ghost Hunters', when I heard a strange sound. "What was that?" Upon inspection I found a steady stream of booch leaking from a cardboard box. Note to self: next time line the box with a plastic trash bag to contain the leak.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chunky Chevron Quilt Block

This block features a mix of half square triangles and solid squares. I love the vintage children's illustrations featured on the red fabric. I decided to fussy cut the blocks to better show off the artwork. This block also features a drawn line technique for making your finished half triangle blocks. You draw a diagonal line on your background block and layer it with a print block, right sides together. Then you sew a scant 1/4" seam down each side of that line. The instructor showed how to save time if you have a quilting foot that sews a 1/4" seam on either side of the foot. Guess what my old treadle machine has? Another reason she is the perfect quilt piecing machine. You can string piece your blocks, one right after the other, sewing on the right side of the line....then bring the first block around and sew all the blocks on the left side of the line. You'll end up with a ring of blocks.

I know it's difficult to see the lines in my pictures. I used a blue quilting pencil. You don't have to worry about the marks showing through because they will be hidden in the seams. Once your blocks are all sewn you cut them apart and then slash each of them down that same drawn line. Each sewn block will yield 2 triangle blocks. Once they are pressed the blocks are trimmed down to 3.5" squares.

Time to assemble the puzzle. 

Sew the squares together into rows, followed by sewing the rows together. Finish by squaring up the completed block. Here is the block's backside.

Balkan Puzzle Quilt Block

Yesterday I began working on the first of the February blocks for the Craftsy BOM course. Now we're getting into some serious piecing. This block was much more enjoyable than the first 2. It is constructed entirely of what they call "half square triangles". However the method used to create those triangles is genius. You start with eight 5.5" squares, four of your background color (in my case, white) and two each of 2 contrasting prints. Then you layer  your prints with a background square, right sides together, and sew all the way around with a 1/4" seam. This is where the magic happens. Use your rotary cutter and a ruler to slash the square on the diagonal. Move your ruler and repeat in the other direction. Now you have 4 smaller squares, each composed of 2 half square triangles.

Repeat with your other 5.5" squares. Trim off all the dog ears from your new blocks and press them open. You should have 8 of each color.

Now assemble your puzzle. Once the blocks are in the correct formation you are ready to commence sewing.

Work one row at a time, sewing those blocks together to form a strip. Press the seams in opposite directions on the odd rows. Next sew your strips together, nesting the seams so they line up correctly. Press your finished block and use your 12.5" square ruler to even up the edges. I enjoyed this block immensely and could see myself making an entire quilt with it. Here is the view from the back.

By the time I finish this quilt I should be quite adept at using a treadle machine. I have nicknamed my White model 12 "Backwards Betty" because every once in a while I forget that her hand wheel turns "away" from me and I end up with a knotted mess to sort out.

I ventured back to Jo-Ann's to pick up a couple more of those suction handles for my quilting rulers. Now I am set for using all the different sized templates.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wonky Pound Sign Block

This is the second of the blocks for January, the Wonky Pound Sign.

Although it's considered a rather easy block I had a heck of a time with it. Maybe because I was working on it at 4am? Or because I was still having thread tension issues which caused my seams to pucker slightly? Whatever the reason, I had a terrible time getting the intersections of the lines to match up smoothly. There was some cursing, ripping and re-sewing involved. It all turned out fine in the end. I think I have my thread tension problem fixed. I loosened the bobbin tension a bit. Here is the back side of the block.

One of the best things to happen to quilting was the invention of the rotary cutter. But I am an awful klutz and have a fear of slicing off my digits. I know some quilters use special gloves while cutting but that seems cumbersome. I opted for this nifty suction handle, instead. You attach it to your quilting ruler and it gives you something to grip (to keep the ruler in place) and also keeps your hand up where it's safe.

Jo-Ann's currently has all their quilting supplies on sale for 50% off. I think I'll head back there today and try to find some handles that will fit my smaller templates.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Taking An Online Quilting Course

I recently found this FREE online quilting course, The Craftsy Block Of The Month (BOM). I'm getting a late start but it won't take me long to catch up. Each month features 2 different blocks. Today I completed the first of January's blocks, the Asterisk Block.

I will be piecing this entire quilt using Betty, my 1915 White Rotary model 12 treadle sewing machine.

Look at her go!

This block is really easy. You use the rotary cutter to slice the block in half, then you sew in a white strip.
 Turn the block, slash, sew; repeat.
Soon your block is ready for trimming.

When it's all squared up it looks like the first photo, above. And here's the view from the back. Nice and tidy.

Can't wait to make another block tomorrow!