Saturday, September 24, 2016

More Tools for Block Piecing

Moving off of rectangles and squares onto triangles was a bit of relief in the daily blocks from City Sampler for #100Days100Blocks.
There are a zillion ways to do half-square triangles of course. But I'm sticking with the methods detailed in the book as the cutting instructions are for those size pieces of fabric. This version involves marking on the wrong side and then sewing right on that line. 
I had to dig around in my pen/pencil drawer to find my white  chalk marking pencil for the dark fabrics, hadn't used that in a quite a while. The new mechanical pencil I'm using quite happily is a Sakura SumoGrip. I find it fits my hand very well, the slightly squishy and larger than normal grip area is easy to hold securely.

 I'm using my trusty Add-A-Quarter ruler to cut the triangles apart because I feel much more secure cutting with it. I don't want to cut up the sewn-together triangles I'm counting on to use for my block. It snugs up securely against the height of the line of stitching and is much less likely to slip. Sure it's mostly intended for foundation paper-piecing, but it works for me in this case too.
 Of course I'm ending up with many extra half-square triangles left-over from this method, but I'm sewing them together (like I did with the Hearts quilt) and hopefully they'll end up in the finished quilt somehow.

 For now they're living in the project box with the left-over strips and pieces from this project. Before I begin piecing each block I check to see if there are any pre-cut sizes/shapes that I can use in that block.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tumbler Finished

The tumbler quilt is finally done! I've been working on this since January of 2005. I was wondering how long it would take me to sew on the binding, but this thing was taking up so much room in my sewing room that I had to get it done to move it out!
Thanks to friend Jaye for cutting so many great fabrics for me, I couldn't have made this without you!Clocking in at 116x106, it is officially the largest single quilt I've ever created.

You can see the great curvy swirls that Colleen Granger quilted all over this giant thing, I'm super-pleased with how it came out. 

There are all kinds of crazy fabrics in here, even the Venus of Willendorf, which I stamped that with permanent ink.

It is very bright and cheery and interesting to look at, I'm looking forward to having it on our bed.

It's fun to look at from every angle.

The backing is a mish-mosh of great and terrible fabrics. I think making the backing to the right size was the hardest thing about this quilt.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wandering Wednesday: Lake of Grass

 One of the best things about our trip to Oregon last month was getting to drive on several highways I've never been on before. It's just cool to get off the "usual" route somewhere and take a different approach to getting there.
We were struck by the beauty of these vast tracts of grassland just outside of Weed.  There were signs for Grass Lake which turned out to be an actual lake. But before we saw the water there was this beautiful lake of grass. I was taking these pictures as we were driving in our convertible with the top down, driving along highway 97 aka Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.

 Reminder to self: I want to make a quilt out of this picture.
 I'd never seen the "other side" of Mt. Shasta.

 I liked how all the contrails looked as if they were coming out of the top of Mt. Shasta. That led to several sci-fi movie plots being created about alien spaceships a'la Stargate.
 We want to come back and explore Lava Beds National Monument on another trip when it isn't over 90F.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

35/100 Blocks

 Well how about this? Here are 35/100 blocks that I've gotten done from the City Sampler. I'm surprised that I've kept up with this, every single day, #100days100blocks. But it's pretty addictive and I love having all these great blocks up on my design wall, plus the fun of seeing everyone else's versions as they post them on instagram.
 That powerfully graphic print on the border is hard to use, but I think it looks good here.

I think this one is my favorite of the week, because double-tiger, of course!
 I wasn't sure about these fabric choices, but I quite like how this turned out.
 I probably should have gone with the dark pink for the smallish border on this one.
 Kind of boring block by itself, but would be cool with a whole quilt made out of them.
This block is really interesting in how it divides up the space.
 Finally got to use the octopus print!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Eighth Study Square Quiltlet

Here's my eighth Weekly Study Square Quiltlet, hard to believe it's been eight weeks already. I really like the mostly saturated colors in this one.
 I had a lot of scraps left over from the hearts quilt that were bright and I went right for them of course, but I wasn't into using most of the motifs on them (kid prints) in this piece so I covered them up with the trimmed edges of my hand-dyes from the #100Days100blocks.
 The layout before sewing down. I like the shadows in this picture, I wish they were in the final quilt let.
 I was playing with just how wide my zig-zag goes, not quite to "11" but pretty darn big. I like how the overlaid big zig-zag looks like netting.
Various zig-zags and almost satin stitches.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Late Summer Cornucopia

 Late Summer Randomness or It's Much Too Hot to Think Today.
This first one is one of those pictures I take purely by accident when I neglect to push the off button on my iPhone all the way. Usually I just look at them and laugh and delete them, but this one I saved because I just love it. The composition (which I probably never would have thought of myself), the objects lengthened in the shadows. And the chair shadow reminds me of Mike Mulligan's steam shovel, Mary Anne.
 It's super hot and only a few things are bothering to bloom. I don't even want to take pictures of how dry and unhappy the redwoods are right now because it makes me sad and worried for them.
 For some reason we had a day where birds decided to come inside. This was an actual bluejay inside my house. My dog, Meg helped keep it occupied until I could trap it with a towel. It was very happy to fly back outside. Unfortunately the second bird inside the house that day (a rather large robin) was taken down by the mighty huntress.
 Something about this color combination makes me extremely happy. No, everything about it does. And these are plants that are in separate planters but leaning towards each other. Okay guys, I get it, next year I'll move you around so you can be together.
 As I watered the deck plants I noticed a cute little round cactus baby had escaped.
 This is where the baby is escaping from, pretty crowded I guess. It's in a roomier spot now, hopefully putting down some new roots or whatever cactuses do to grow.
New drawers in the new kitchen means new drawer organizers. This is a super-staged, maybe even pinterest worthy picture I took of it with the late afternoon sun hitting just right. It most certainly will never look this way again.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Product Review: Steady Betty Pressing Pad

Way back in July I mentioned that I was using the Steady Betty Pressing Surface. It's one of my favorite new tools.

 I have the original 16x16" version, for me it's not too heavy, I find it easy to move around. Apparently they have a new version that is half the weight of my original one, so if the weight would be an issue for you, that might be another reason to give this a try. I could see bringing this to a retreat.

I keep it on the little rack that is part of the legs of my ironing board. Whenever I'm pressing and *not ironing* I use it. That's what this thing really helps me with. As you probably already know, when you're piecing, you have to get those seams opened up and the allowances going in one way or the other without distortion. Moving the iron is necessary, but I'm only moving the seam allowances, and the pressing surface holds the rest of the fabric.

I've been using it with Best Press as I'm piecing all those blocks for the City Sampler, but that's because the additional stiffness helps me with more accurate sewing with the smaller sized blocks.
For final pressing the Best Press usually isn't necessary.
The surface is a soft but grippy foam material, there is some plush or give to it, but not too much. It does help with dissipating the heat from the iron quickly.

Only a few drawbacks I can think of, you can't leave anything on top of the pressing surface or the impression tends to stay for quite a while. I left my iron on it overnight and the dents took a couple days to go away. I don't know if one of those dents could become permanent or not. I'm not sure how durable this surface will be, I can imagine it would tear or be cut pretty easily and that wouldn't be something you could repair. So I'm making sure to not have any scissors around the thing when I'm using it.

Two thumbs up from me on this one!