Thursday, March 27, 2008

Personal Quarter Inch

When I first began quilting, the one rule above all else was to keep your seam allowance at 1/4 inch. So for the next couple of years I struggled with this seam allowance, fudging and fuming in fitting my blocks together. Then one year I took a class with Nancy Johnson-Srebro. It was a miniature class and I was working with very small pieces on a clunker of a White machine - it was practically eating my pieces! (This project is STILL in a box.) I was so frustrated that Nancy suggested that when I got home I should try to work on my 1928 Singer sewing machine. In the meantime, I bought one of her books, and read it cover to cover. She had the most amazing miniature quilts with quarter-inch block pieces! How did she do that? So I pulled out my old singer and proceeded to follow her instructions in "Endless Possibilities" for setting a "scant" quarter inch seam allowance. I was determined to make something tiny figuring if Nancy could do it, so could I. And with my new seam allowance all set to go, I made a tiny simple Irish Chain, about 5"x 6" with each 9 patch block measuring just 3/4" finished! Here are pictures, from closest to farthest, for context.

"Because I Could!"

Once I found my own personal quarter-inch, my blocks fit together just like puzzle pieces and I can construct a quilt knowing it will come out just fine. I even find myself not worried about points matching or seams meeting, because they just do!

So now, for each of my machines, the first thing I do is find that quarter inch. On my Featherweight I use a piece of magnetic tape. It provides a sort of ledge that the fabric butts up to. On my Bernina I move the needle position to 4. And on my California Brother, it has it's own quarter inch needle position - do you believe it? I went crazy trying to find out how to move the needle, until I read the manual. For those of you in the know, the motto is always RTFM!

So now I'm busy putting together Laura and Jeff's wedding quilt. But I am still visiting the quilts I've given away so I can photograph and document here.

Warm quilts and Red Sox Nation

This is a huge flannel quilt I made for Laura and Jeff for their first Christmas in their new house. They use a wood stove for general heating, but the bedrooms can get chilly, so this was the perfect gift for them. And it's heavy! Note the bear at the head of bed.

It's Red Sox season folks and we're off to a great start winning our first game. The Red Sox bear is enjoying the warm quilt too, along with his friend Pregnant bear. (I can hear the jokes now...)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Study in Color and Contrast

Television is so bad lately that I don't mind taking the time to post.

Here is something totally different from the past two quilts. This quilt top (it's not quilted yet) was made in a color and contrast class. I was a bit hesitant about taking the class because 1) I hate circles and curves and 2) I thought I knew everything there was to know about color-I usually just go with my gut feeling. However, I thought the contrast thing was useful. So I bought this beautiful oriental floral, the only fabric I bought by the way-my motto is use what I have before buying due to the size of my stash [hence the blog title]).

I didn't want a square quilt, so I added more blocks, but not more circles. I thought the blank squares added a dimension of...possibility. Besides, there was no way I was going to make more circles! So off I went making my blocks with no idea what the final product would be. Our teacher helped all of us in the class fiddle with our layouts, but I did NOT like the way mine worked out in class, so I started from scratch when I got home. It took me two hours just to lay out the blocks. Once the blocks were sewn together, it took me two hours more to figure out what to do with my border. Thank goodness for a flannel design wall! With the border fabrics figured out, then I had to construct the darn thing. Let me tell you - THAT was the biggest challenge for me. I think it turned out all right, don't you?

If you click on this picture, you can probably see the red fabric in the border. I've been hanging on to this particular red for a number of years and it was perfect for this quilt.

This is my favorite block. I love the way the circle print blends with each triangle. The green swirl is from my friend Joann's stash. What a great fabric.

I've been debating whether to machine-quilt or hand quilt this one. I've done machine-quilting on a similar type of quilt (with curves but I got paid for that one) with gold thread, which was really beautiful. But something in me says to hand-quilt with gold thread. What do you think?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Double X

Here is another heartwarming quilt. This is a Fons & Porter pattern for Double X. It was the perfect pattern for a group of fabrics I ordered on line called Kansas Troubles (I think). I remember my husband really liking the fabrics, so I sort of made this quilt for him (our bed). Do you have any idea how many pinks I bought before I happened on the right one? I wish I had a granddaughter whom I could lavish all this pink fabric on - she would never want for quilts for the rest of her life! This took me about a year to make and I used Thangles for the many, many triangle squares. Thank you lady who invented Thangles! You must be rolling in dough! And hubby's reaction? "I don't remember those fabrics..." More detail below. I especially love the black floral fabric, but only had enough for 4 side triangles.

Observation: So now I've spent a good hour either reading my daughter's blog (thanks for the plug honey), reading her favorite blogs, and posting to my own blog. And I have been known to sit here for chunks of time enjoying other people's lives and thoughts through blogs. I hesitated in starting my own blog because I knew how much time in front of the computer I would spend, when I should be sitting at my sewing machine spewing out the gazillions of quilts I want to make or design. My life after retirement includes totally immersing myself in the quilting world, perhaps even to work in a quilt shop. I once had a dream of owning my own place, but realized that was WAY TOO MUCH WORK and not enough fun. I have six years to go but hoping in the meantime that my husband's new business venture will make us fabulously rich and I can just quit work.