Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Retreat report

Welcome to all, especially my new followers.
My re-treat didn't go quite as planned because I was kind of called to work.  I still got a bunch done in spite of that.  I put the extra border of squares on this quilt top, bringing it to 92" square.

And I got the last border on this quilt top, too.  It fits a twin bed now and looks great when it's on the bed. I was thinking of adding blocks on point all the way around this one, but the math wasn't working in my favor. This pattern is called Quilter's Dream by Judy Martin from her book, Scraps Blocks and Quilts.

 I also got another UFO just about done.  It just needs the last 2 borders.  I hope to work on that tonight.
The comfort quilt  that was on the frame downstairs is finished, and I've got another one loaded and a quarter done.  I think if I had done anymore I'd be pretty sore from sitting at the machine sewing all day. This retreat didn't come with a masseuse.

I haven't said much about work, because I don't like to think of it as work.  I guess I'm what you might call a caregiver.  There's 4 people that we care for. I don't do it all alone. My husband is a big help with all 4 of them. One is my 82-year-old mother, 2 is my adult daughter with Asperger's, 3 is a mentally ill middle aged man, and 4 is my 89 year old neighbor lady. They don't all need the same help. Some days, they simply need company. Otherwise, depending on the person it's me/us that takes them to doctor appointments or  manages their meds or their money or helps with their house/work. I usually refer to them as "my people". You would be correct in assessing that it is a full-time job, and it would be if I did it alone.  You would also be correct if you guessed that I quilt to keep my sanity. Isn't it a wonderfully soothing past time?  Amazingly, my blood pressure is just fine. Well son of a gun, I hear my sewing machine calling again. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Retreating at home

Hi everyone,
I've had a busy 10 days since the last time I wrote.  For starters, I finally put the additional borders on the Kings beauty quilt. So glad I did.

Then I cut more squares to add another border to another one of the quilts. I hope to get that done today.

Got another border ready to go on this quilt top.

I also assembled 3 kits for myself.

And I dug out 3 PHD's to see what they needed. And a lot of cutting is what they needed. So I rummage through my scraps to find what I needed and cut the pieces to finish those 2 quilts. I just made a little mess and another pile of scraps.

I've got the house to myself this weekend and plan to get a lot done. Not the same kind of fun as a retreat away with your friends, but I will be smiling. I gotta enjoy it while I can.  Mark is off of work the next 10 days and I never know when I will get a chance to quilt when he's around. Speaking of quilting, I think I should hide down stairs in the quilting studio when he is home. I am just about done with the comfort quilt on the frame.  I'll try to get that done this weekend and another one loaded before he gets back. Also on my list of things to do this weekend is finish the binding on 2 quilts.  It will be interesting to see how much I get done.  Well I'm going to go, I hear my sewing machine calling.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Orphan Block Tutorial - Part 2

Step 4 - My rows decided to be columns instead. Now, that they are the same width, it is time to make them the same length. This is where I incorporate spacer strips.  Personally, I figure it out mathematically, but I like math. They can be pieced (think rows of triangles or squares) or plain. Sometimes I like to use a busy print here. Finalize the position of the blocks in the row based on color. Insert the needed spacers randomly in the rows.  In other words, don’t add them all at the end of the row.

 On this quilt I determined that the two rows of 8" blocks would finish at 64". The center row needed an extra 4" so a row of flying geese was made. The first row needed an extra half inch so the pink frame has wider top and bottom strips than it has on its sides. I was lucky with the last row. I was able to make up the difference with the frame for the two 5" blocks.

Step 5 -   Now I need to decide how I want to sew the rows, together.   Do I want a light or medium sashing? I kind of like the darker gray sashing.  I'm not interested in making the pieced sashing for this so the only other option is to set  the blocks side-by-side. I like the blocks side-by-side the best but think I might prefer to add a border to the quilt with the dark sashing.

Step 6 -  Once the rows are together, it's time for the border.  And as usual, I don't know what I want to do about that, so I'll let it sit for a while.  Who knows, maybe in 5 years I'll add another row of blocks, and then a border. And why not?

To see photos of some of the other quilts I've made with orphan blocks for church, click the "orphan" link in the sidebar.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Orphan Block Tutorial - Part 1

I was really surprised at all the orphan blocks I've got. I shouldn't have been.  I remember making the decision to collect them.  They have accumulated rapidly from classes, leftovers, experimentation  and publishers requirements. I decided to use some in a quilt maybe because I enjoy the challenge of getting them to fit together. Here is how I do it.

Step 1.    The more blocks to choose from the better. That way you can choose blocks that coordinate.  The 1st thing I do is sort the blocks according to character.  I have a pile of 1800 reproduction blocks, and  one with 1930's. I also have a pile of scrappy blocks, a  small pile of brights and one of batiks.  And then there's the rest of them.  I sorted those into piles by color, basically, jewel tones or earth tones. So does this count as 5 PhD's?
Step 2.    Apparently I have enough jewel tone blocks to make a quilt. Next sort the blocks into piles by size.  Oh my goodness!  I came up with over 10 different size blocks.  I put the blocks on the wall grouping same size blocks in columns.

Try to arrange the blocks either into sections, in columns or in rows that will finish roughly the same length.  A few rows usually have blocks all the same size, perhaps one row will have 8" or 10" blocks and another row 12" blocks. In this collection, there are quite a few six-inch blocks that would fit in nicely next to each other in a row with 12 inch blocks so those shouldn't be a problem, except there is only one that is 12".

I found I had quite a few 8" blocks that could be used alone in a quilt, but decided to incorporate them into this quilt.  I was able to pick out some that blended in nicely - enough  for 2 rows.   All that remains is the odd sized blocks.

Step 3.    The next goal is to focus on building rows where each block in the row is the same width.  Don't worry about the exact length of the rows at this time. Each row in the quilt does not need to be the same width, just the same width from top to bottom of each row. The photo below shows some of the blocks I was considering and the rows I've started to form.

 To get the blocks the size I need I enlarge blocks to match the biggest block in the row.  There are several options.
  Option 1 - Enlarge a block by building the smaller blocks up to the size of the biggest block in the row. This option works great for turning 6" or 8" blocks into 12" blocks or 10" blocks into 14" blocks.  I don’t worry if I still have matching fabric. I enlarged the blue block on the left in this way in the bottom set of blocks. You don’t need to follow an actual pattern. Just play with same sized squares and triangles to come up with a plan.  In the teal block I found the same background fabric and added a round of triangles. Compare these blocks to the original in the first photo above.

Option 2 - Add a frame to all sides. Either matching or contrasting  fabric will work. I make the frame an extra ½" wide and only trim the block on two sides to match the width of the row. The extra length may come in handy when getting the rows to the same length in step 4.

Option 3 - Set a small block on point by framing it with setting triangles. They can be plain half-square triangles or pieced from smaller squares and triangles. I generally plan for oversized triangles then square the block down to size after sewing.

I never forget that I can make another block from scratch to get the color and fit I want. Also, on occasion I have been known to cut a block down to make it fit a row. Do Not sew the blocks in the rows together yet, just focus on making the blocks in the row the same width.

Stay tuned for part 2. Sew long.