Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quilt Along, Part II

You learn a lot of things during any major project, and I certainly expect to learn a great deal from this one. I am committed to trying the methods and suggestions that Elizabeth makes in her directions as part of my attempt to take my quilting “up a notch”. The very first surprise of the quilt making process was sooner than most: I discovered that the Amy Butler fat quarters I had chosen for my block fabrics were actually half yard cuts, not fat quarters. No worries. All this means is I’ll have enough to make another quilt with them. I’ll need to if I want to keep any of them since my daughter took one look at the fabrics and called “dibs” on this quilt. It will be perfect for her next living arrangements at college – a house with three other girls and three other boys. That should be interesting.

So I cut all the fabrics. It took be three sessions; which is unusual. Ordinarily I cut everything for a quilt at one time. For this one I did two “dominant” fabrics and two companion fabrics at once, separating them for their individual blocks. I did use the card stock to keep the cut blocks all arranged as Elizabeth suggested. I have used this kind of system in the past and it works well.

I ended up re-sewing all of the Block A’s to improve my quarter inch measurement. I can’t remember if I’ve ever actually measured blocks this much, probably not, but I committed to doing all the recommended measuring as a way to improve my quilting knowledge and technical expertise. I changed to my quarter inch foot, which I do not always use when I quilt. It seemed to be the right foot for this project.

Blocks A and B were rather straight-forward. I had already decided to use seams pressed open for this project, so I was pleased when Elizabeth recommended this method. (More about this next post!) I keep a travel iron at my sewing station, so I could press seams open as I went. However, I quickly discovered that was not enough to obtain the requisite “flatness” that I desired and that Elizabeth’s pictures exhibited. Therefore, after each set of blocks I took them downstairs to my steamer and made sure the seams were firmly pressed open and the blocks laid completely flat. This helped with the final measurements.

I found that my quarter inch seam is pretty accurate, but my cutting is a little scant. I welcomed the freezer paper hint for Block C and used freezer paper on all six of those blocks.

Block D was extremely simple and went together quickly:

Blocks E and F were constructed of small pieces. I have done a lot of square in a square quilting and would ordinarily use a strip piecing method to construct these blocks. I was also a bit concerned about Elizabeth’s habit of sewing with the seams on top. I would ordinarily use the feed dogs to my advantage and place whichever of the two pieces was a tiny bit larger on the bottom. *note to self, put a comment up on Elizabeth’s blog asking why she chose this method*.
Staying true to my efforts to try new ways of doing things, I used her method exclusively for at least the first 4 blocks. I only flipped the seams to the bottom when that piece was more than a few threads longer. This would be a good time to talk abut the effect of the feed dogs on two completely identical pieces of fab ric. The feed dogs pull the bottom fabric through a bit quicker, leaving the frustrated quilter who started with “perfect” pieces, with dealing with a slight unevenness at the end of the joining. I don’t know how Elizabeth handles this, but I have decided to use it to combat any lingering desire for perfectionism that might possibly remain dormant in my psyche. Unfortunately many women suffer from entirely too much self flagellation due to perfectionism. Is it dna or learned? I don’t know, but I do know we need to stamp that sucker OUT!

I found I had that my E squares came out remarkably accurate, whereas my F squares needed every bit of freezer paper I could iron to them. Go fig.

Finally, all the blocks are ready to be displayed on my design wall – or more accurately, my design floor! I used the layout Elizabeth suggested, although I’m wondering if I should alter my blocks with the orange dots. They seem grouped a little strangely….


On to the sashing!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quilt Along

Clearly, I’ve lost my mind again. Despite the dismal failure of my insane 17 day goal to finish a knitted shawl that took me 6 months (pictures to follow), I’m jumping once more into the breach and doing a Quilt Along with the Oh Frannson Blog (Elizabeth Hartman) Mod Sampler. (Link:
I was inspired by Elizabeth’s excellent instructions, color commentary and recommendations. After a few years in the quilting biz, I really want to take my skills up a notch. Henceforth, the BAM quilt!


Elizabeth has some organizational tips, too. So here’s a picture of all my fabrics and sashing cut up and arranged. You can see the two backing fabrics in the background. I recently took another free motion quilting class. Yes, it’s the latest in a LONG series. I’ll get it eventually. Anyhow, I’m planning to follow the generous block pattern on the backing for the quilting. We’ll see how that works out later.


For now, here are the first 3 sets of blocks:
Block A
Block B

Block C

And now….drum roll please! Finally, a picture of the FINISHED silk shawl. Begun last summer during the summer Olympics and finally finished before the holidays:

Silk Shawl
I must admit it is a very lovely piece of work, even if it did take me MUCH longer to knit than I ever expected. Still, I appreciated the challenge and I still love lace knitting.

More soon.