Saturday, August 29, 2015

AN ADDENDUM

This afternoon I'm sewing together the rest of the floral and white Disappearing Four Patch blocks, and I noticed one detail that should be mentioned.  When cutting the two part block into 6 pieces, be SURE to ALWAYS position it the same way on the cutting board.  For instance, if the darker fabric is on the left, ALWAYS position it on the left.


Likewise, when laying out all 12 pieces for the complete block, ALWAYS lay them out with the lights and darks in the same positions.  Failure to do this will lead to seams that don't nest properly.  And nicely nesting seams are really the whole point of making the block with this method.


It's amazing how a simple mistake in arrangement can result in "orphan" blocks!  Good luck with your sewing!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A DIVERSION

This past week I was sidetracked into a diversion, within a digression, within a detour, within a UFO.  The "tutorial" on the Disappearing Four Patch" block was made with a package of 5" square cuts of batiks, one pack of blues/purples and one pack of pale beiges.  These were new at the Fabric Nook, and I found them irresistible.

I had recently loaned them quilt #12, the Tradewinds, made this summer, and Brenda told me that the rest of the 2 1/2" strips in that colour sold right away.  It really helps to have a sample showing off the fabrics!  So I got the idea of making a table runner from these new 5" squares.  It went together quickly and looks great.  I brought it in yesterday for them to hang.  Hope it helps to sell those pkgs. of 5" squares.  It can also function as an advertisement for the class I will teach in the library in September.


It was fun to make and looks lovely.

So now I can go back from this "diversion" to the "digression" that preceded it.  Another Disappearing Four Patch, but this time a lap quilt, that I'm making as a sample to inspire, also preparatory to the class in September.  I've got 18 of 30 blocks made so far, and the squares for the other 12 are cut and ready to be sewed.  This time they are floral pastels teamed with some of that lovely white on white with little flowers that I bought a whack of when it was marked down to $7.39 a meter.


Usually instructions for a Disappearing Four Patch say to cut the block 1" from the center seams.  I like to cut it 1 1/2" from the center.  Aside from the pieces being slightly bigger and thus easier to handle, I just think it makes the block look a little more balanced.

After this is finished, I'll go back and get the borders on the Picket Fence quilt and finish the machine quilting and binding, and THEN I can go back and put the borders on the "Cascades" quilt, the really, really big one.  

It's all a matter of what will be needed when.  The "Cascades" quilt needs to be finished by the end of September, the other two, the Picket Fence and the Disappearing Four Patch, are needed the middle of September.  

I'd better not start any more projects!  As tempting as that always is!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

NOT THE REAL THING

A few times each year Jim is invited to preach in a church in Rocky Mountain House.  They always ask that I play organ for the service, and I'm happy to oblige.  They have a fairly decent organ, and it's a group that really loves to sing.

We used to go three weeks at a time and do two services each of the three weeks.  It's a two hour drive from here, and services are at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Last year we found that that was a bit too much for us to handle, so now we limit it to one service a Sunday. Tomorrow is one of those Sundays.

I don't have, and have never had, an organ in the house, so I go to a local church to practice the week before we go there.  A friend of mine, an organist in a church here, loans me her church key and I go three or four times in that week to get the music ready. Since I play only once or twice a year, I need to work on it pretty seriously to have new music ready and secure.

This past week I was "under the weather" due to not enough sleep, and feeling listless, so I never got out there to practice until Thursday.  Went again on Friday, but the church is busy today, so I can't practice there.  Practicing on my piano helps, but doesn't do much for practicing the pedals.  So I pretend I'm playing pedals, which helps a little bit.

Today I had a "bright" (maybe) idea: I would put together a pretend pedalboard.  I used a yardstick and children's building blocks to approximate the black pedals.  That should give a bit more of a "pedalboard" feeling to it.  It did, sort of:

Makes me think it might be worthwhile to construct a facsimile of a pedalboard.  Could be done!

Friday, August 21, 2015

NICELY NESTING DISAPPEARING FOUR PATCH BLOCKS

One of the quilts I made last spring was a Disappearing Four Patch.  At first I followed the usual method.  You can find lots of tutorials on the net showing how to make this simple block.  But I was unhappy with the result because not all seams "nested" and this was a special problem when sewing blocks together,  So I worked out a method that created a block with all seams pressed toward the dark fabric.

I agreed to teach this technique as a beginner quilting class at the library here in town on Sept. 17, and also next spring at a Pieceful Stitchers meeting.  So this week I thought I should do some review in preparation, and also print up some instructions on how to sew the block this way.

Unfortunately, I couldn't remember how I did it!  I know it involved leaving some seams unfinished until you knew where the block would fit in the finished quilt, and then sewing and pressing them according to what direction you needed them to fit together smoothly.  I fiddled with the block this way and that.

Finally, I came up with an altogether different method, and this one WORKS LIKE A CHARM!!!  So here's the new method:
1.  Start with two dark fabrics and two light fabrics, each 5" x 5", for each block       (Yesterday I bought two sets of fabrics, already cut to 5" x 5", but found I did need to trim them to that size.  They were just slightly bigger.)
2.  Sew one dark fabric square to one light fabric square.  Repeat.  DO NOT sew these  two double squares together!  That's the usual method for disappearing four patch.
3.  Cut each double block as follows:
1 1/2" on either side of the center seams   AND
1 3/4" from the side of the double block, crossing the center seam.

   The cut block will look like this:

4.  Arrange the cut pieces from the two double blocks in order next to your sewing machine.

5.  Place the middle piece of the top row face down on the first piece of the top row. Repeat with all middle pieces.  Chain piece them together.  Don't cut them apart.
6.  Now do this same procedure with the third piece of each row.  In the photo only the top piece has been placed where it belongs.

7.  Press all seams toward the dark fabric.  They will line up in alternating rows.

8.  Sew the three horizontal seams.
9.  Pull apart or stitch-rip the cross seam of the center intersection of each of these last three seams IN THE SEAM ALLOWANCE. 

The intersections will turn into tiny, tiny four patches on the wrong side of the block.  You can see them in a vertical line up the center of the block.

10. Now you can press these last three seams all toward the dark fabric where they reach the outside of the block.  There will be places on the inside of the block where the dark fabric presses toward the light fabric, but THE CRUCIAL SEAMS on the outside of the
block will all press toward the dark fabric.

You've made a beautiful, perfect Disappearing Four Patch block!  Because you've sewed the block together in this unorthodox fashion, you can now NICELY NEST all the seams when sewing your blocks together!

Please leave a comment or send me an email (grammilou@hotmail.com) if you've found this helpful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

PICKET FENCE QUILT

The Cascades quilt is quilted--a simple stitch-in-the-ditch, along each side of the sashings.  Next come sewing on the borders and binding, and then quilting the borders.  I think a feather pattern would look good in the border.  That's something I've never done before, so it will "stretch" me a little, and that's almost always a good thing.


I have felt quite "stretched" lately, trying to catch up after all the company, plus there was an issue with my only sister that really took the starch out of me.  So today I decided to kind of "lean back" and just enjoy myself.

This is how I did that: I laid out a plastic table cloth with a flannel backing, backing side up on the living room floor and arranged all the blocks for the "Picket Fence" quilt.  Using a table cloth for that is a trick I learned from Monica Bishop this spring.  I had heard of using the back of a plastic tablecloth as a design wall, but this was a version of that.  If you lay out your blocks on the back of the tablecloth, you can roll up the table cloth to transport the blocks, and they will stay where you've put them.  It's a great idea.

Today, however, I never rolled the cloth up.  Instead I picked up each vertical row in order, pinned a memo on top labelling the row by number.  Then I was able to confidently sew them together a la Bonnie Hunter's "Webbing the Top" method.  You can find directions for that on her website, Quiltville.com.  I read her blog all the time, and have often used her patterns.  She's a real resource for quilters!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

THIS 'N THAT

Last week Saturday was beautiful weather.  Yesterday was dark and cold and followed a lot of rain.  What a contrast!  We're glad for the rain, and we can surely put up with some dark, cold weather as the usual here is bright and sunny.  Today has been sunny, but now the clouds are building again.

We had our plumbers here to do maintenance on our furnace this past Wednesday.  It's a very small wall unit, very efficient, for a hot water heating system.  It was new just a few years ago.

On Friday I went into the basement for something and thought I smelled gas.  Yesterday and throughout last night we left the doors to the doors to the basement open to help dry up what had come in because of the very big rainstorm the night before.  This morning I smelled gas, fairly strong, throughout the house, so we called the plumber a little after eight o'clock.

He came right away and did find a slow leak where the gas line is connected to the furnace.  He fixed it, and reassured me that anytime I smell gas, even if it's in the middle of the night, I should call right away!  I had apologized for calling him on Sunday morning when I know he works very hard with long hours every week.  In fact, when he came here he had already been working for four hours.  That's about as demanding as when a doctor is on call!  Chris is a really nice guy, and we're happy to have a good plumber--especially in a situation like that!

I'll catch up a little here with pictures from the Saturday morning that we were celebrating with our kids, grandkids and Jim's sister (back in July!).  I had sent everyone a sort of agenda for the weekend, and Saturday morning, 10 a.m. was listed as a "Treasure Hunt."  I had spread all the quilts I've been making since February out on beds in the garage and gave everyone a piece of paper to write down their first, second and third choices.  Only two didn't get their first choice, but those two were very happy with what they did get.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

NOT THE FUN PART


This morning I found time to spray baste the top to the batting/backing of the Cascades quilt.  Quilters are either Pinners, Baste-ers, or Sprayers, and I'm a confirmed sprayer.  A can of 505 holds the layers together so well, that it's worth the cost, especially when handling such a large quilt.  This will be 105" x 105" when finished.

You can see that it needs the borders sewed on yet.  That's a small strategy to reduce the amount of fabric on the machine at once.  I very often quilt a large quilt in sections, but because this one is put together on point that wasn't a very good choice.  It would give problems with cutting out and using the backing material.  


That's a whole lot of quilt to put through the machine, but you can see in this photo how "slim" the rolled up side is.  There's no problem fitting it through the throat of the Horizon.  The machine is set here to sew one of the two closest-to-the-middle seams.  I'm ditch-stitching on either side of the sashing.  The top thread is a dark invisible thread and the bobbin thread is a dull brown that almost disappears on the printed backing.

I spent two hours stitching today, and just made a start on how much is to be done.  There's a certain amount of pressure to this, as I would like the quilt to be completely finished by the time we leave for Arizona.

Yesterday S. picked cherries.  Together we pitted them and then I froze them on cookie sheets.  When finished there were almost three gallons of Evans cherries ready to be used in pie, or, as we prefer, in little tarts.  

We've been eating a whole lot of fresh peas the past few weeks (two separate plantings) and now we're started on green beans.  Frozen green beans don't appeal to me very much, but fresh green beans, picked between 12 and 1 and served at 2 for dinner--well that's a treat!