Friday, July 31, 2009

I've Had It Too Easy Lately

OK, I guess I'm being punished a bit for having it so easy with my DJ blocks recently. This block required sewing Y-seams, which are a lot easier for me now than they were a year ago. That doesn't mean I'm an expert, though, as is obvious from this block. See the seams in the upper right and lower left corners? They don't quite make it to the exact corner of the block. Good enough for me, though.

At least the paper piecing on this one wasn't too hard. If you make this from the DJ software, just remember to select the "mirror" option when printing the pattern, otherwise you'll wind up with your block facing the opposite direction. I added the outer two triangles using the raw-edge machine-buttonhole stitch method.

This is "H-2, Jacob Anthony", an intermediate-level block.

In real life, the fabric is so much more purple than in the photo...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat

...and more than one way to make a DJ block.

When I first saw this block in Jane Stickle's quilt, it looked a bit tough, but I thought there was a chance that it could be paper pieced. When I looked at the directions in the DJ software, it said "My recommendation is to hand-piece Fireweed Flower. However, the foundation pattern is excellent." Sounded promising...

However, when I opened up the alleged foundation pattern in the software, this is what it looked like. (Sorry for the bad photo, but it's just a quick shot of my screen.)


Granted, many of the paper piecing patterns in this software sometimes look like this, but there is an easy way to move all the pieces to fit on one page. However, even if I moved all these pieces onto one page, ONLY THREE OF THEM are suitable for paper piecing! What's with that? Am I missing something here? I don't think so. I'm afraid this doesn't meet my definition of "excellent foundation pattern".

So, after a bit of studying, I decided to use the raw-edge machine-buttonhole stitch applique method for this one. No, it doesn't have all the seams that Jane's has, but if I plan it right, I can quilt some faux seam lines in later.

Can you spot a peculiarity of this block (other than my weird construction method)? The outer four diamonds are not exact diamonds -- the sides pointing in toward the center are a touch longer than the sides pointing out.

This is "M-3, Fireweed Flower", an advanced (!)-level block.

P.S. If anyone knows anyone who works for the company making the software...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ask them to come out with a new version correcting all the bugs! It may not do me any good, but anyone new to this quilt would benefit greatly (and would be a very happy customer).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Question: When Is a Square Not a Square?

Answer: When it's a block from a swap.

The second set of 16 nine-patch blocks for the swap coordinated by Anina of Twiddletails showed up in my mailbox recently. Aren't they lovely? What an amazing variety of fabrics.

I blogged about the first set I received here. There will be one more set coming next month -- I can't wait to see what those will look like.

You can see the blocks that I made as my contribution on my blog posts here, here and here.

This has been great fun to participate in, however, like many block swaps, not all the blocks are 6 1/2 inches square. Most of the 32 blocks that I have received so far are fine, with a few being a smidgen over or under the 6 1/2 inches. Those can be dealt with fairly easily. A couple are a little more troublesome -- at least 1/4 inch bigger or smaller. There are always a number of reasons for this and I'm not surprised that this has happened with this swap.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I will be putting these blocks into a simple quilt to be donated to Project Linus, so although I may have to struggle a bit with the inconsistency of the block sizes, I'm sure the recipient won't even notice the imperfections...

Monday, July 27, 2009

What Works for Me

I just realized that the last nine of my Dear Jane blocks have been made using the raw-edge machine-buttonhole stitch method on at least part of the block. If I had had to use a traditional applique method on them (and many other previous blocks), I would be sooooooo far behind...

This is "M-13, Lynette's Diamond", an intermediate-level block.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

For a Quilting Friend

One of my quilting friends is having a birthday this week, so I made up this selvage postcard for her and took it to the post office on Friday. Rita is a member of my guild's Dear Jane group, so I thought the fabric choices were appropriate. She doesn't read my blog, so hopefully it will be a surprise when it shows up in her snail mailbox.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When Duty Calls

The four containers of cookies that we took up to College Boy for his birthday less than two weeks ago needed to be replenished, so since I didn't want anyone to accuse me of child neglect, my husband and I made a quick trip up to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY yesterday to make a delivery.

It was a nice day for a drive and walk around campus. We went to lunch at a wonderful Japanese restaurant in Collegetown. All of us had a different bento box lunch. Mine had shrimp and vegetable tempura, rice, California rolls, an Asian salad, and miso soup. The guys had chicken teriyaki and bulgogi. Everything was delicious.

College Boy seems to like Japanese food, so I may have to make him a Bento Box quilt for his high school graduation/going away to college gift next year.
P.S. Having lived in a small town for 12 years now, I was shocked at the parking prices on Wellsboro, it only costs a dime to park for an hour on Main Street, but on the college campus, a quarter only gets you ten minutes!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Easy DJ Block

By using the raw-edge machine-buttonhole stitch applique method, this block took no more than an hour to make.

This is "J-1, Josepha's Jonquil", an intermediate-level block.

By chance it turns out that this block is in the yellow row of my quilt. Works perfectly with the name.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quick Work

If I could work this fast, I'd have my Dear Jane quilt done in no time at all!

Even if you don't paper piece, the music is nice to listen to...


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Is The Matter With Me?

Sometimes I really wonder about my state of mind.

What in the world makes me take perfectly good cuts of fabric and cut them into pieces to make nice blocks like this...

...and then cut them into smaller pieces....

...just to sew them back together again?

I've been playing around with different settings for my Bento Box blocks (try saying that three times fast!), and can't quite decide on the final layout.

I like on-point settings, but I don't like these well enough to take the time to make the setting triangles (remember, I am making this "just because"). There was a third on-point setting on yesterday's blog post.

Today I am leaning toward the square setting like the photo with the six blocks.

No wonder my family questions my sanity once in a while...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I'm So Dizzy, My Head Is Spinning

I've been seeing a lot of Bento Box quilts on blogs lately and have wanted to make one for a while now. Most of the ones I've seen have strips that match at the seams, but I decided to try a variation using different widths of strips.

I made 4 large blocks (18 1/2 inches) and cut them up into 4 smaller blocks each (just like the disappearing 9-patch method) and then mixed them around on my design wall.

I then tilted my camera 45 degrees to see what these blocks would look like set on point.
I will make another 8 blocks, which should make a nice-sized throw. And since this is made using fabric that was donated to my guild, the finished quilt will become a charity quilt.

I'm not sure if I like the look of the various-sized strips...I think the next one I try will have strips that match at the seams. Just to make things easier on the eyes...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Almost a Do-over

When I finished this one, I though I had made a big mistake because the points of the center square will be chopped off once it's sewn together with sashing. However, when I looked at
Jane's block and the pattern again, I realized that they are slightly chopped off in the original. Whew!

This is "J-3, Rick's Volleyball Net", an intermediate-level block that I chose to paper piece and raw-edge machine-buttonhole stitch.

This is block #139 for me...only 30 more center blocks to go!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another Day of Sunshine

There was a good amount of sunshine again yesterday, so I spent some time once more out on the deck with my sewing machine. As I mentioned in the previous post, I don't need too many supplies while working out there. In addition to my machine and scissors, the only other necessity is a pin cushion. And what better pin cushion than this one made for me by my BBFF (Best Blogging Friend Forever) Susan. It's perfect because it also has a little bag for throwing away scraps and loose threads. Much prettier than a brown lunch bag taped to the side of the table...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Enjoy the Sunshine While You Can

The weather on Saturday morning was nice enough for me to spend a couple of hours sewing on the back deck...the clouds moved in shortly after lunch and before we knew it, we had another half inch of rain in the gauge!

I use my Janome Gem Platinum 720 specifically for sewing sessions like this. It's light and portable and does pretty much everything that I want to do when I travel to sew. All I did on Saturday was sew rows of blocks together, so I didn't need to bring out too many supplies from the sewing studio.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!

Our dear son Nick turns 17 today!

How did he go from needing a chair to stand on for helping in the kitchen...

(isn't he a cutie?) being a head taller than his mother!

Although he wasn't around to lick the spoon, I spent a good part of this past week baking all sorts of cookies for his birthday. We'll take them up when we visit him tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Haven't Forgotten My DJ

Even though other projects and activities are calling my name, I want to keep going with my Dear Jane blocks.

This is "I-11, Coyote Chase", an intermediate-level block. I used the raw-edge machine buttonhole-stitch method.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ami Simms Would Be Proud

I spent a good part of yesterday with several of my quilting friends dyeing fabric. Actually, the others dyed fabric...I skipped that part and only dyed undies a la Ami Simms. This is what my friend's hedge looked like when we hung our work out to dry...the neighbor got quite a kick out of the view! I think he thought we were a bunch of hippies re-living our youth and if I remember correctly, he said something like..."I've never heard of making quilts with fabric like that..."

We all had a blast! And definitely agree to do it again sometime...I think I'll be tempted to actually dye fabric next time...

Check out this quick video from Ami...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tall Glass of Lemonade, Anyone?

This past weekend, I quickly loaded this quilt on my HQ16 and quilted it with an overall meandering design. My friend Susan blogged about the making of the quilt here and here. Now it goes back to her to finish up with a binding.
P.S. You'll have to read Susan's posts about the quilt to get the lemonade connection...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Finishing Touches

The pop-up book is wrapped in the pillowcase and ready to go to the post office.

On the inside of the pillowcase cuff, I sewed on a
label (look for the union label, when you are buying a coat, dress, or blouse... -- hmmm, I think those lyrics show my age...)

Several months ago, I had won a blog giveaway of a roll of labels from Namemaker. My 20-yard roll should last for quite a number of projects...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Another Birthday

My husband's granddaughter will be having a birthday in a couple of weeks, so I made a pillowcase to use as wrapping for her gift, an absolutely wonderful pop-up book. We usually give books as gifts to his grandchildren and we especially like the pop-up books by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda. The pop-ups are absolutely amazing. If you've never seen these books, you must take a look the next time you're in a Barnes and Noble. The artwork is exquisite.

Some of the titles that we've given are The Wizard of Oz (the tornado pop-up leaps right off the page), Alice in Wonderland (the cards fly up in the air), Cinderella, Star Wars, Dinosaurs...

These books are not for toddlers to play with...they are very delicate, so they should be given to children who will take care of them. Or at least to parents who will take care of them...