Sunday, March 23, 2008

This will not be a UFO - this will not be a UFO...

I finished the log cabin blocks and stitched them together. So what next? I need to add a few borders to get it big enough for a single bed, but I can't make up my mind about colours yet so I will have to put it aside for a while while I think about it. But not for too long - that's how UFOs are born, right?
Well I have to work on my Project Spectrum quilt anyway, so I'll do that first and then come back to this one. I have a deadline towards the end of April, so I can't leave it for too long...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

I was going to start with the description of this lovely spring day we were having - I woke up to sunshine and birdsong. When I ventured outside I discovered little green ears on my goosberry bush, which seems like a miracle every time. To see those dry twigs sprouting new leaves again is really amazing. But it is still March, and by the time I sat down to write this I realized it was snowing again. So the pleasant walk in the sunshine I had envisioned is not to be, it seems. I had better enjoy a cup of tea indoors then, among my own birds. I made these placemats for Easter last year, and they make a bright and cheerful addition to my breakfast table. The applique is done with freehand machine stitching and black thread, going around each part three times, which makes it sturdy enough for something which gets so little use. I like the cartoony quality on the back too.
Well, I will do some more sewing today before I venture outside - I really need to get some shopping done, and then I'm off to my mum's for dinner and to help her set up her new computer. The log cabin quilt is coming along nicely - there will be pictures later and I'm making a messenger bag for my sis, so it is not as if I haven't got anything to do indoors...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Log cabin

How's that for an imaginative title to a post! But I believe that is what it is going to be about, unless I slide of on a tangent somewhere as I have been known to do in the past...

I have started a new quilt, and for some reason it turned out to be a log cabin one. I think one of the first things I ever sewed was a big log cabin block for a pillow, and there have been a few projects over the years, but it has never really clicked between me and the log cabins before. All those long strips, pressing and trimming, sigh - I 'm bored just writing about it! Then a friend showed me this new (to me) technique she had been trying out, sewing log cabin blocks from squares, using the "stack and slash" method. Now this was more like it. So I had to give it a go. I started out with six 10 1/2" squares piled on top of each other and cut logs clockwise. The first round with 2 1/2" logs, the next round with 1 1/2" logs, leaving a 2 1/2" square in the middle.

Next I moved the top fabric in the center to the bottom of the stack revealing the red one underneath,
on the next round I moved the top two fabrics (the black and the red) to the bottom of the stacks revealing the third fabric in the stack. I left the outer round the way it was.
So there you are with an idea of what the block is going to look like. I started sewing the first round of logs to the middle on all six blocks in the stack, but right away I realized that I would still have to do a fair amount of trimming, because you lose half an inch with every seam.
Back to the drawing board. Or cutting mat. I quickly worked out how long each log had to be and trimmed the stacks accordingly and heaved a sigh of relief as I settled down to sewing. This time the logs fitted all the way round and I ended up with square blocks with no trimming along the way. I think this method will work quite well for me, unless I want to make traditional log cabin blocks with light and dark halves. But there might be a way of getting around that to...

I just realized that I bought a ruler in Birmingham in 2006 that I have never used (that sort of thing never happens to anyone else, does it?). Marti Michell who demonstrated it convinced us all that this was something we had to have, and using the ruler to cut the strips accurately to the length you needed ensured that they would fit perfectly. My friend and I, both high on quilting show euphoria went with the flow and bought the rulers. But when we came home and sorted through our booty, we looked at each other and said "Duh, what were we thinking - who needs a special ruler for LOG CABIN?"

Well, maybe that wasn't such a bad idea after all. - I certainly find it easier to fit precut lengths to attach to the block than adding the skinny strips, getting them ever so slightky warped wit each pressing and ending up with not so square blocks in the end. I think I need to explore this further. At least I know where that ruler is...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Logs and fire

I have made some progress on my Project Spectrum quilt. This is all about fire, as the colours might indicate... The picture might look a tad more orange than the real thing, but you get the idea. I wanted to quilt flickering flames all over, but some days what you want and what you get are two different things, I suppose. My first attempt was a mess, so I spent the better part of Saturday unpicking stitches - grrrr! I had another go yesterday and it is better, but not as good as I wanted. There is not enough time for crafting these days and I need to get some practise to get back in the swing of things . It's a good thing I have next week off from work. It's funny really how cranky I get when there is no time for creating. It might even be a good thing for the people I work with that I take some days off to sew... Hopefully I'll go back less irritable and hot tempered. I'm making this sound far worse than it is, I guess - my crankiness is probably more noticeable to me than to my surroundings, but I really need a break!
Just to make sure that I have enough to do, I started a new project today. This one will be a log cabin for my cousin's eldest - a gift for her confirmation in April. I'm keeping it simple with big blocks in order to finish on time, but I think I'll have fun with this one, working with all the bright and happy colours I love. A lot of Jan Mullen, some Valorie Wells and other bright young things. And a bit of black to ground it a bit. Am I making sense? I think I am, to myself anyway...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Old quilt - new picture

I visited my sister last Sunday, and took the opportunity to snap a few pics of the quilt I made for her some years back. I didn't have a good photo of it anywhere, so I just had to try again. Taking a picture of a large quilt in a small room isn't easy though, and there was no way I could get the whole thing in one go. Still, you get to see the star blocks, which was what I needed to share the pattern with my guild anyway. You might notice some grey spots here and there:.that's cat's hair - proving that cats will find a way to snooze on your quilt no matter where you place it...
Here's some scetches from EQ. I started with a layout of squares and triangles where I placed the colours in a rainbow sequence. Not very original, of course, but it works in nature, so why not in a quilt?
Then I substituted stars and snowballs for the squares and triangles, but kept the colours. In order to make this work, I had to split some stars diagonally using two sets of colours in each block - half green/half yellow for instance. I love the simplicity of the star blocks combined with snowball blocks, leaving large plain areas to show off your quilting and the changing angles that fools the eye into seeing curved lines.
The Quilter's Cache calls the star block "Garden patch variation" - but I haven't been able to find it by that name elsewhere. There is a similar block with a four patch centre and also one with a plain square in the centre (like the small stars I have used in the corners), but I would really like to find some more examples of quilts using "my block" to illustrate my article. If you know any, or any other names used for this block, please let me know!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wired for sound

I came across a great idea in Jane Sassaman's blog! Why not cover your ugly loudspeakers with a favourite fabric to make them go with your decor and make them into a pretty feature. Go see for yourself!