Tuesday, May 12, 2015

All Wrapped Up in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

Sometimes my dial-up internet service works fairly well.  Sometimes it doesn't.  Lately, it hasn't.
Sometimes my 60-year-old body works fairly well.  Sometimes it doesn't.  Lately, it hasn't.
Between the two, I've been doing things in slow motion lately, really slow motion.  But, on the bright side, any motion is better than no motion!

While I've been trudging along at snail speed, volume 11 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks came out.  If you look on page 36, you'll see "All Wrapped Up," a block that I designed for using those large prints that are too beautiful to cut up into little squares and triangles.  It's a little difficult to see the focal fabric in a small photo, but it features a calico cat and two kittens.

When I first designed the block, I happened to have Christmas fabrics in my EQ fabric palette and used a few to color the block.  The result reminded me of a Christmas present tied with ribbon, so I named the block All Wrapped Up.

This is what the block might look like set without sashing in a small quilt:

Getting away from the Christmas colors, here's an example using a juvenile print as the focal fabric.  (Eeks! The reduced size kind of makes it look like a kitchen print!)

As a runner, the block design loses the pinwheel and circular effects, but it's still quite a striking design for showing off a beautiful print or a beautiful quilting design.

Adding sashing makes the design look a bit like a complex plaid.

I think I like it best set without sashing.  But then again, some fabrics might look best with the sashing.  Which way is your favorite?

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Crooked Man's Christmas Quilt: A Photo

Here's the nearly-completed top draped over a lawn chair!  The colors really pop in the bright sunshine.  I hadn't added the border yet when I took this photo.  From a distance, it's difficult to tell that this project began with strips of not-so-square squares sewn together with a disappearing quarter-inch seam.  So far, I'm pleased with my effort of turning quilty lemons into lemonade.

Here's a schematic of the block design those 9-patches developed into.  Perhaps 9-Patch in the Courthouse would be an appropriate name for it.

My next step is to sandwich the top with batting and backing.  Since this is the type of quilt that only gets used one or two months a year, I'm not going to put a lot of expense into this part.  I have a fleece throw that I purchased on sale last December that's just about perfect for the back: red with large green and white dots.  And I already have a small size poly batting on hand.

Once sandwiched, I'll have to decide on how to hold the layers together.  I don't like machine quilting with fleece backings, so I've already discarded that option.  The two options I'm debating are 1) tie it with yarn, or 2) hand quilt it with embroidery floss using the big stitch method.  Both seem appropriate for a quilt in the crooked man's crooked little house!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Crooked Man's Christmas Quilt: To Sash or Not to Sash

When it comes to sewing blocks together, we quilters seem to have only two options: we can sew the blocks together, side by side, or we can sew strips of fabric called sash or sashing between the blocks.  Sometimes I wish there were more options, but every time I think I've found a new one it turns out to be a variation of sashed or not sashed.

For this project, I deliberated both options.  My go-to method for most projects is to use sashing between the blocks unless assembling the blocks without sashing creates a new design effect, as when Snowball blocks and 9-Patch blocks are sewn together.  In this case, sewing the blocks without sash would have created colorful 9-patches floating in a sea of white -- not the effect that I wanted.  A red or green or even blue sash would have disrupted the white sea, but I was concerned that the constant size of the sashing strips would emphasize the irregular size of the white framing strips.  I know I named this The Crooked Man's Christmas Quilt, but I really didn't want to emphasize the irregularities!

So, I decided to add another round of framing strips in the style of the Courthouse Steps block.  To distract the eye from comparing the irregularities in the blocks, I framed four of the blocks with red fabric and five of the blocks with green fabric.

I couldn't fit much on my scanner, but this should give you a good idea of what the blocks look like.  When I sewed the blocks together, I alternated the red and green.  It was sunny yesterday and I took a photo of the nearly completed top, but forgot to save it to my flashdrive.  Here's a virtual rendition of my quilt made in Electric Quilt.

Tomorrow, I'll try to get the photo on my flashdrive!  (My desktop computer doesn't have my camera's software on it, so I have to download photos on my laptop in the trailer, save photos to a flashdrive and bring it over to the house where my desktop is.  Someday I'll get everything organized in one location.  Someday.)