Friday, May 31, 2019

Before and After

You might say it's been a before-and-after week.

The third triple-arched window quilt has been blocked, and just needs squaring, trimming and binding. Fabric for the binding had to be ordered--nothing in the stash worked. Anyway, here's another great example of what a difference blocking makes. I never get tired of saying that, and really I don't have to...the photos say it all.


AFTER...and yes, it stays that way!
'Nuff said. Except this: I used to block quilts with a grab-bag of things like corrugated boxes or cutting mats plus flannel-backed vinyl tablecloths and folded sheets, both flannel and cotton. Everything but the box or cutting mat would have to be smoothed as much as possible (I refuse to iron sheets) before pinning the quilt down through it all with t-pins.

And then last year I saw these on a knitting podcast...

...and I'll never go back. These are WONDERFUL. T-pins come with them, and easily pierce the semi-firm rubber foam. I bought two sets (a total of 18 interlocking pieces) so that I can put together a blocking mat large enough for a good-sized landscape quilt or for all the knitted pieces of a sweater at once. Great for either a table or the floor, and you can use steam to block (iron hovering only--no pressing). Here are a couple of photos of the mat in action (click to enlarge):

Left: Laying out the third triple-arched window quilt.

Right: Front piece of NaCraga, an Aran sweater pattern by Alice Starmore.

On to project two: The underwater scene background is quilted now--though not at all densely, in order to keep it from shrinking too much vertically. Otherwise the placement of all the fish and turtles would have changed considerably and they would have been more crowded.

Before quilting
After quilting

You might have to click on each one of these to see any change, but the second one is quilted. I loved the variegated background so much that I wanted no change in appearance after quilting it. So I visually divided it into nine vertical horizontal sections (marked with horizontal pins in the photo below) and matched each one as best I could to one of my Isacord thread colors. It worked out pretty well.

Next comes the gluing and fusing. I took several closeups of the layout so that I can put all the fish, turtles and plants back where they were (see previous blog post). I still like the look and don't plan on changing anything.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Diving In

The fact that it took only 45 minutes to steam-press yardage and design an underwater scene from the fabrics auditioned in the last post (the fish and turtles had already been cut out) just proves how desperately change was needed. I dove in headfirst, cutting the plants lickety-split with a rotary cutter, and making myself quickly pin the fish and turtles to the quilt top at random, instead of taking an hour or two to think about where to put each one. That was a first for me.

Everything is only pinned to the board here.
Also for the first time, I plan to quilt the entire background before adding all the applique (I usually fuse/glue everything down and quilt around it all), using the dual feed foot instead of free motion to make the quilting easier on my neck and shoulders. The plants will also be edged in satin stitch using dual feed, while the fish and turtles will be quilted in free motion.

Meanwhile, the third triple-arch window quilt now has satin-stitch on the arch edges, and the wall is underway. It will probably take another two afternoons to finish outlining each stone. Then it's time to block, trim and bind the quilt. Hallelujah!!

You can sort of tell which stones are outlined and which aren't yet.
Have a great weekend, and for the U.S. a meaningful holiday as we remember those who have died while serving our country.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Not Just About Time

This spring has been mostly about family, beginning with a fun-packed visit from my sister-mamalaw Susie from WY, then another fun visit from my sister Karen from IN, followed by a lovely day trip to visit my niece Whitney and her husband and their new baby in another part of IN, then a trip for my sister and me to visit my my mother in TN, from which point the three of us took a gorgeous drive to NC to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins for a reunion long overdue.

Meanwhile, progress on the third quilt in the triple arched window series has been sporadic and sluggish. But it's finally pieced, sandwiched, basted and on the machine. So, what (other than time) was the issue for this third one?

To backtrack for a moment: In nine years, I've never repeated a landscape quilt. Variety is what keeps me interested. However, the last two landscapes I made did use the same arched window/opening design (see previous blog posts on Villa with a View and Wooded Villa).

Click on photo to enlarge.

I don't mind using the same cat...
Granted, a different wall fabric and background scene was used in each. But I couldn't help noticing that progress was slower on the second one. I told myself it was only because (as mentioned in the blog post Wooded Villa), I wasn't as happy with my fabric choices the second time.

Can we say "denial"? Because, due to the painfully  c r e e p i n g  progress on this third quilt, I can no longer deny that repeating even just that one design element was too much similarity for me.

Admittedly, it seemed like a real timesaver at first--one drawing for three quilts (I did re-trace new pattern pieces each time, figuring the outlines would get wonky with the second and third cuts).

This fall foliage is the top half of the panel used in Wooded Villa, the second quilt in the series.
Well, that part worked out fine. But despite the different fabric choices for each of the three quilts, the fun and interest were waning fast by this third one.

So, yet again, lesson learned...this particular lesson being one we've all heard many times: "Be true to yourself." Series landscape quilts are great--I love seeing them in magazines and have always been intrigued by the idea--but apparently I don't love making them. Nice to know for certain, though.

So, on to a new design using cooler colors--my favorites! I'm taking a hard look at this fabric combo for an underwater scene. The colors are a treat for my eyes after working with two autumn scenes.

Fusible applique prepared for cutting, using Steam-a-Seam II Lite.
So we'll see what happens with this.

Next time, hopefully, a finish for the third--and last!--quilt in the arched window series.

Have a great weekend!