Sunday, May 31, 2020

It Happened Again

You will remember that I recently rehabbed a vintage quilt by sewing the blocks into an entirely new setting. Well.

Not long after, I received a message on Ravelry from someone who happened to see my post (she was visiting the quilting group) and linked me to a post where someone was offering two old tops. Sure enough, someone was offering two tops that were found in an attic they were cleaning out. (First time in 85 years, apparently!) The first they thought was from the 30s and the second from the 70s.

We ended up connecting and he agreed to send me the tops. I had half a thought that I might get into trouble if old quilts keep finding me! (But I quickly quashed it.)

Then the owners wrote me and said that someone in the family wanted the checkerboard top for a baby quilt; he was very sorry. But I didn't mind because I was only taking the second one because I liked the first one! So, perfect all around.

A couple weeks after that, my package arrived!
What did I have?
Twenty-five blocks sewn in a 5x5 grid; 4 blocks sewn in a row; and 4 single blocks. I can't imagine what layout they were thinking of with that number of blocks, or maybe they were planning to make a few more.

Some of the blue pieces have evidence of stitching and I'm wondering if it's from the same reinforcing stitching that I saw in the last set of blocks. But in this case, they took the time to remove the reinforcing strip. The blocks looked to be in good shape. It was all hand sewn.

First order of business was to separate the blocks. I knew I couldn't use them in the existing arrangement.
And here they are!
I gave them a good soak and light swishing and then an extra long soak because I forgot about them overnight. A quick spin in the washer and they were ready to hang to dry.
The water came out very brown which was icky. But I wonder if it was some of the brown dye bleeding. A few of the blue stars have brown spots and I don't know if they were already there or if it was transfer from the dye.

Once washed, they all needed a good pressing. Each block went from this:
to this:
So satisfying!!

Although the blocks are not a uniform size and some of the seam allowances are a lot smaller than a 1/4 inch, the only one that could pose a big problem is this one:
Can you see how "not flat" that is?!! I don't think I'm going to re-sew it. I can just push it down and flatten it which makes the blue fabric pleat over itself but doesn't affect the outside shape. Or I can choose a layout that doesn't need that block.

This morning I laid out the blocks for the first time. I'm thinking of setting them on-point with alternating blocks.
There are a lot of ways you can fill in the blank squares. Solid fabric squares is one option, or quarter square triangles (hour glass blocks) can be a striking arrangement too.

I trimmed the last set of blocks so that they were all the same size. I think I may add sashing to these blocks so I can cut them the same size without cutting off parts of the stars.
I was thinking these small blocks (only about 7") wouldn't be enough for a big quilt, but setting on point and alternating with other blocks makes them almost fill this double bed. Add a few borders that hang over the side and I'd have a bed quilt!

That would also mean making a couple more blocks because there aren't quite enough for this 5x7 arrangement. I used to have a blue that I think would have match pretty well, but I'm not sure I have it any more. Matching the brown would be a lot harder.

But on the other hand, they don't have to blend in completely. Having different blocks would just highlight the fact that this is a "mother/daughter" quilt--that's what they call it when one person makes the blocks or starts a quilt and another (from a younger generation) finishes it. An endearing name, isn't it?

Linking up with Quilting Patchwork and Applique

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Rectangles Squared Quilt Started, Stalled, and Resumed

Back in 2012 I saw a quilt on Ravelry in the show and tell thread, and it has stuck in my mind ever since! I love the pattern of the light and dark and then the added layer of the coloured squares that seem to float behind the dark lines.
Here's a link to the maker's post on Flickr. I did not see that she ever identified the pattern.

But as I looked at it more closely, I realized it was a very simple construction. I've diagrammed it:
You put two rectangles together to make a square. You put four of those units together to make the block. You do need to watch how you assemble them because you'll need half spinning clockwise and half spinning counterclockwise. (I choose 2x4" rectangles but of course you could use any dimension as long as the height finishes twice the width.)

When you put them together you get:
There's another way to get almost the same result with fewer seams to match in assembly:

Here they are side by side:
Except for how the pattern ends at the edges, these two methods produce the same result.

Unless you take into account how the colour falls in the pattern.
On the left is the quilt I admired. The squares of colour don't line up with the black lines and add an extra layer of interest. On the right you can see that the colour is confined inside the black lines and produces a flatter result. You could also say the one on the right is calmer and easy to line up the colours to emphasize the woven look. Neither is better; it just depends on what you enjoy and choose to make.

Who knows what made me decide now was the time for this quilt I have been thinking about since 2012, but I got started in early March.
I decided to make half of the blocks pairing dark blue with light yellows and greens and the other half pairing dark green with light blues and whites. I ended up not having enough fabrics in some of the colours so I didn't strictly follow that colour scheme. I organized everything in these stacking trays that used to be used for eyeglasses orders.
You might be scratching your head because these pieces do not look 2.5"x4.5".
No, they're not. When there was a big enough piece of fabric, I cut the pieces at 2.5"x9", and sewed them together before trimming them to 4.5"x4.5". It makes for a little less matching up while you're sewing.

I sewed a lot of the seams as leaders and enders while finishing my Joy to the World quilt.
That was a lot of improvisational sewing with scraps, so there were a lot of starts and stops perfect for fitting in some leaders and enders.

Once that top was done, however, I did some sewing with this quilt as the main project.
I completed the first few blocks and put them on the design wall to make sure I was pressing so the seams would nest.
It's a good thing I checked because I had to make a correction. If you're thinking of making this pattern, for the blocks turning one way, press the first seams toward the dark and the second seams away from the sewn seam. (This will make sense when you're doing it.) Press the blocks that turn the other way toward the light and toward the seam. Everything will nest that way.

By April 19, I had all the blocks sewn that I could make from the fabric I had.
I have quite a bit of blue so that was no problem. The dark green was not so plentiful. Here I have all 40 blue blocks done and 20 green ones. I put the project on pause then because I was waiting for some green to come from someone I had sent fabric to. (I had a certain design she needed and she agreed to swap.) I never did get anything from her. :( On the other hand, my sister came to the rescue and sent me a nice package with a good selection of greens.

It wasn't quite enough to do all 20 blocks in green, but I had already decided to fill in some of those blocks with blue. (And I snuck in some of that black that I have so much of!)

By mid-May, I had all the blocks done and laid them out on the spare bed.
I want to put them somewhere I can see all of them at once on a flat surface to double check the balance of colour and of lights and darks, but I think this is pretty close.
It's laid out in an 8x10 grid. At 8" a block, the quilt will be about 64x80, a twin size or so. I suppose I could border it, but right now I'm not planning to.

Linking up with:
  -"Oh Scrap" at Quilting is more fun than Housework.
  -Quilting Patchwork and Applique

Friday, May 22, 2020

Coming Close to a Finish

You would think spring would be a time of new beginnings, but I seem to be in a finishing mood. Maybe I am clearing space to make room for something new.

Last summer I made the plaidish quilt top. Something I saw on Kitchen Table Quilting's IG account and had to make right now. She made it easy by offering the pattern for free! (Link here.)
I used almost 100% scraps of every colour and multicolour. I love how this comes together.

Then in February, I brought the quilt to our family crafting retreat and basted it.
It's been siting like that ever since. (Not the best idea as folds and wrinkles could set it, but you can only do what you can do.)

I wasn't completely sure how I wanted to quilt it. I settled pretty early on simple straight lines, but in the ditch? echo the seams? random spacing? It's been on my mind to finish lately so I finally decided to quilt on both sides of each seam.
I used the edge of the walking foot the judge the spacing and the lines ended up about a half inch from the seam. While I was quilting, I decided not to quilt inside the smallest width strips.

It was pretty short work to quilt the lines in both directions over two days. (Was it possibly more time clearing the table and putting stuff away to make room for it than actually quilting? Maybe.)
I was really chuffed with how straight the backing and front lined up. The vertical lines line up with the trunks perfectly!!

For the outside edge, I basted close to the edge, but did not sew the quilting line.
Once everything was quilted (except those outside lines), I trimmed the quilt. I had just watched a tutorial from Erica at Kitchen Table Quilting and followed her method. Start with the corners with the biggest square ruler you have.
Trim along two sides of the ruler and now you know that your corners are square. Then use the longest ruler you have to trim the sides, lining up with the cut edges. It worked great.

Then I sewed the binding on:
I went with the most ridiculous binding fabric: a really juvenile alphabet print. I don't do novelty prints and I really don't do juvenile novelty prints, so I'm sure this was gifted fabric from one of my sisters. After auditioning a few fabrics for the binding, I preferred the tone of these colours with the quilt. And I was doing a really narrow binding, so you would have to look really close to even know what it was. (And it uses up a yard or so of fabric I won't use otherwise!)

After it was sewn to the front of the quilt, I pressed it back:
Then I went back and sewed the quilting lines on the edges.
Now those lines are parallel to the binding and I look like a brilliant quilter.
Really I just have clever cousins who shared this quilting hack at our last retreat!!

And now I'm on the final step: hand sewing the binding to the back.
I wasn't quite as pleased with how the binding fabric looked with the backing fabric, but it's not terrible.

Look for a(nother) finished quilt soon!

Linking up with Alycia Quilts "Finished (or not) Friday"

Monday, May 18, 2020

Cutting the Gordian Knot

Here's a project you haven't seen in a while:
The last time I wrote about it was October, 2015!

A summary of its history:

  • The quilt top was purchased by my sister's mother-in-law in the 60s from the side of the road in Kentucky when they were on a trip.
  • It lived in her attic until my sister was helping her clean out the house for a move in the late 1990s. There were three quilt tops; my sister liked two of them and offered this one to me. I took it gladly.
  • I added the hexagons around the outside to get it to size. I made it into a duvet cover (because I was sleeping under duvets at the time; not quilts) and used buttons to hold the layers together.
  • It was too warm as a duvet cover and the buttons were uncomfortable (mostly when sitting on the bed, not sleeping) and would scratch you. I disassembled the duvet cover which left me a quilt with raw edges.
  • I decided to remove the buttons and hand quilt it, echoing all of the seams.
  • My plan was to fill in all the spaces on the sides to get straight edges. I really disliked those points hitting me in the face especially. I even had extra triangles in the bigger blue polka dot fabric to use.

And that is how the quilt has been for almost five years now.

During this self-isolating time at home, I have had a need to finish projects that are stuck at some step. (I've also had a need to start new projects. I know I'm not the only one.) The problem with this one is that I really didn't want to inset triangles in all those spaces. They would need to be layered-- front, batting, and backing--and then sewn into position. Not an attractive project.

And then I had the thought, "I could cut the edges so they were straight." Just lop them off like Alexander and the Gordian knot. Boom.

I may have considered this before and rejected it as a hack and because I wanted the quilt to be big enough for our bed. Well I no longer worry about every quilt fitting my bed (smaller quilts have their place too) and it sounded like a good hack to me at this point. (No, it sounded like a great hack to me at this point.) So that is what I did.

No pictures of cutting the edges. More of a "don't stop me now" moment although it felt a little like a "here, hold my camera and watch this" moment. I wanted to take a full hexagon off of the sides so that only original material was left. I did first attempt to unpick the seam, but a lot of it had the seam allowance pressed toward the quilt and it was sewn down. That would give me nothing to sew onto. So I just cut it with the rotary cutter, about 1/2" from the seam line.

I wanted a little more length compared to the width, so I cut the top and bottom about 4" from the highest point of the white hexagons.

All I needed to do to finish it now was the binding. I was lucky to have one long straight piece of the big blue polka dot fabric that was long enough for almost all of the two shorter sides. I had some leftover hexagons in the same fabric and briefly thought about cutting them up and sewing them end to end, but that was crazy, right? My binding would be made up of pieces 4"-8" long.

But then I saw that I also had a chain of hexagons already sewn in a strip. Well, if someone else was going to have them sewn together for me, who was I to turn it down? So I got just about enough from that for the rest. I think I only had to add one more hexagon.

I only had enough because I decided to do a two-colour binding. In this case, I paired the polka dots with a white solid. The polka dot fabric was pretty thin. (You can see some of the blue from the seam underneath showing through here on the back:)
Doing it this way meant that there was solid white under the polka dots on the front and I could sew it down on the back into a sturdier fabric. And it also meant that I could use a thinner strip of the polka dots and that is why I could squeeze out enough from the little that I had.

It took a few days, but I did get the binding sewn down. It is a hot mess under there with the double seam allowances, but the binding looks great so no one can tell. There is not a single judge anywhere who could say that my binding was not filled enough. :) (Yes, they judge you on that.)

So I was done right? Well, while I was sewing the binding, I decided there was too much unquilted space in the top and bottom border. The batting is cotton and it really needs to be sewn in place or it will come apart and bunch up.

So I decided a simple diamond shape would work. I marked them with a ruler,
(ceramic pencil on the blue fabric; blue water soluble marker on the plaid)
and hand quilted it.
(This is the back, in case that is not obvious.)
Like the rest of the quilt, my stitches are not great. But that's what you get for using dense sheets instead of muslin. I matched my thread to the different fabrics on top and bottom so it doesn't stand out on the front but you get the texture.
Seven diamonds on the top, seven diamonds on the bottom and I'd be done.

It went faster than I expected and I had them all quilted. So I was done, right? Well, while I was sewing the diamonds I noticed there was quite a lot of unquilted space on each end of the borders. When I finished the diamonds I admitted to myself that I would have to quilt a triangle in each of the four corners. That went even quicker--half the stitching of a diamond.

So I as done, right? Well, while I was sewing that I found a hexagon where I missed some quilting! Can you see it?
It's all around the outside of the star.
So I threaded up the needle again and finished the star. And while I was sewing that...I found nothing more. So I was done!
You can't even tell that some of the binding is on grain,
some is off-grain and there are seams every 8" or so, right?
Crinkly texture!
(This is why you don't sew light fabrics with dark thread.)
A view of the back

It's laying on my queen size bed and just covers the top.

Project summary
Started: 2009 (this incarnation)
Finished: May 17, 2020
Size: 61"x76"
Top: originally made in Kentucky in the 1960s. I repaired damaged blocks and had to replace fabric in four of the flowers.
Cotton batting.
Hand quilted.
All blog posts about this quilt: link

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I Say! or at least I did once...