Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Block 5

Well, I am so happy to share a little more progress today on the Big Quilt. Block number 5! Now I just have the corners of the top to do. I would have had a little more to share, but I had a nasty run-in with my rotary cutter and had to take a few days off. And that's all I'm going to say about that. I worked on the second half of this block today and got a picture this evening before the sun went down. I didn't take time to lay out the whole quilt. I'll try to do that next time. So, without further ado, here it is:

And because I have only the one picture to share, here are some bonus pictures of our side garden and a couple of pots. We worked on them this past weekend. Maybe I'll post more as the flowers get settled in the other parts of the garden. 

Columbine, German Catchfly and Painted Daisy buds
For years, my mom had this pot on her front porch filled with Geraniums

I'm linking up with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday, Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday, and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Buttons are on the right.

Until next week, keep quilting!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Almost Half Way

(This post is later than I meant. Got sidetracked by some fun today.You can read about it at the end of this post.) It's getting there! I have 4 blocks done on the Big Quilt, and I have the pattern done for the 5th one. 
Too big to lay out in the house
It's going well. Most of the pieces are made from strips that I cut 4 1/2 inches wide to give me some wiggle room. (They finish at 3 1/2 inches wide.) I cut lots of strips after I made the first block, so once I start sewing, it goes pretty fast. Much of my time is spent drawing the pattern on freezer paper. After I made an exact pattern for the first block, I made a general grid on newsprint as a master pattern, and now I just trace whatever lines I need to make the freezer paper parts for each block.

The most challenging part of the sewing is the vertical center seam for each block. 

Lots of seams come together at an angle and I'm finding that it's tricky to get them matched up precisely--even with putting a pin through the intersections. With this bold pattern, uneven joins really show up, especially in areas where a color extends from area to another. When I first designed the quilt I decided to make it a giant nine-patch even though the quilt is really one block that extends out from the middle. (To make it easier to handle, each block is made of two 20 by 40 inch sections) If I had sewed the quilt as one block, there would have been a lot of really long seams and some Y-seams or partial seams, and that just seemed too confusing working on such a big scale. As a result of the plan, some strips that are one color have a seam in them where they cross from one half-block to the next or from one block to another. By being careful to match them, I think it will look fine once it's quilted. (That will be my next challenge: deciding on a quilting design that I can manage on my treadle .) 

Working a reasonable amount of time a day, I can comfortably make one block in two days. So I'm hoping to have the quilt top finished within the next couple of weeks. 

Of course, that depends on how many days I take off for gardening or bicycling.

So here is what I was doing today instead of sewing. A new bike trail opened up in the three counties to the north of us this spring. Today was a glorious day, in the 50's F (10 to 14C), with lots of sunshine and a very light breeze. So we just had to check out the trail in those perfect riding conditions. It's a little over 41 miles (66 kilometers) long on an old rail corridor. There are farms as far as you can see. The fields have just been planted, so the vista is far-reaching, but that will change as the crops grow. The trail is paved in the small towns it runs through, but it's mostly crushed limestone and still a bit soft because it's so new, so it was a good workout. We rode back and forth between two charming towns that are about 10 miles (16 kilometers) apart. I took a few pictures. (I should have taken some of the old buildings in the towns. Oh well. Another time. I'm sure we'll go back.) 

Restored train station, now a museum at the trailhead

I'm finding it challenging to quilt, read/comment on all the blogs l like to read and to do fun outdoor spring activities. Some things might have to slide a bit now and then. Until recently, I was doing fairly regular posts on Thursdays to document quilts I made in my pre-blog days. I might back off on those over the summer to free up time for other activities. We'll see. 

I'm linking up today with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday, Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Buttons are on the right. 

Hope you are all having a wonderful week!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gray (Or is it Grey?)

Only a tiny bit of quilt-related posting today. Last time I posted I was trying to decide on a gray for the background of the Big Quilt. Well, I finally did what any quilter would do: I ordered more fabric than I needed. Specifically, I ordered both Moda Bella Solids Feather and Kona Silver. The Moda Feather arrived first. I like it, but it's not quite right for this project. I'm not sure how to describe it. It's sort of the color of newsprint. It will find its way into another quilt. Today, the Kona Silver arrived (along with other additional fabric I needed for this quilt). I think it's the one. It looked tawny to me on my swatch, but next to the Feather, it's definitely more of a true pale gray. (Or grey--I can never decide how to spell that color, and the funny thing is, I picture gray as more blue and grey as more beige. Who knows why.)

So here is my new fabric (Silver on the left, Feather on the right. Gray/Grey?): 

And now I can get on with the project (after I do a couple of days of volunteering at my old school this week).

Other than that, nothing to show this week. The reason? My husband's birthday was on Sunday, which also happened to be Mother's Day in the US. So we decided to run away for a few days to Michigan's little finger (if you think of the the lower peninsula of the state as the shape of a mitten). Love it up there. The rest of this post is pictures if you're interested in a little travelogue.  Here are some of our favorite stops along the way:

Little Point Sable Lighthouse

Mission Point Lighthouse
 (Michigan has LOTS of lighthouses--more than any other state in the US.)

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Leelanlau State Park (Lake Michigan)
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Warning sign at dunes
Water is 400 ft below

Fog rolling in

Sunset from our hotel in Traverse City. 
Best place for whitefish in Michigan (Ludington) 
Best place to eat that fish--the park across the street on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan
Best place for fine chocolates (Empire, Michigan)
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Rural Historic District
Okay, I'll stop now. But I love sharing pictures of my beloved state. Pure Michigan. There are lots of vineyards and wineries in the area we visited (we didn't go to them--we're more "explore outdoors" people.) There are also lots of orchards (mostly cherries). They were just starting to blossom, and I couldn't get good pictures--I will someday. Spring is the other color season up north, but this year it's been chilly so bloom times and leafing out are a bit behind. No matter. It's always beautiful. 

I'm linking up today with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday, Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Buttons are to the right. 

I hope to have lots of progress on the Big Quilt to share next week. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Baby Steps on Big Quilt

After a fun, busy weekend celebrating our grandson's baptism, I got a little bit done on the Big Quilt. I'm finding that most of my time on this quilt is spent in prep work--drawing the pattern and transferring it to freezer paper. It's well worth the time, though, because then the sewing is fast and accurate. I was going to draw all of the remaining sections, but after I got the first half of one done, I couldn't resist doing some sewing. (That way I'd have something to show for my effort, too.) 

I remember that in a previous post I said I had figured out how to press my seams open while using a freezer paper foundation technique that I found on Twiddletails. I snapped pictures while I was working yesterday to show what I mean. I don't know that this extra little step would be practical for small scale pieces, but with these biggies, it works really well. 

In this method, I folded the freezer paper back and sewed the seam right up against the edge to join two pieces of fabric:

Then I trimmed the seam allowance to 1/4 inch.

Next, I peeled back the freezer paper about 1/2 inch. (This picture still shows the untrimmed seam allowance because forgot to trim before I peeled and then forgot to take a picture of the peeled paper after I remembered to trim.)

I opened up the fabric and pressed the seam allowance open. In this picture, I've pressed the seam open from the bottom of the picture about 3/4 of the way up. 

Then I laid the freezer paper back over the seam and pressed it to the newly joined fabric before going on to the next join. 

Here's how it looked on the front.

And here's how much I got done on the section. (There are 4 sub-sections here. I've sewn the vertical seams and some of the diagonals, but I haven't joined them yet.)

Pretty toes on my socks. 

I can't sew the whole section yet because I still need to get a pale gray fabric for the outer edges of the quilt. I'm having some trouble finding what I want locally, and my teeny tiny Kona swatches on my color card aren't helping me. I'm going to check with a local store today to see if they have a Moda card because I think there are some Bella Solids that might work (Maybe Feather or Zen Gray?) I thought of using Kona Silver but it seems a bit tawny to me, and I'd prefer something more bluish. Sigh. And it's so hard to tell colors from a computer screen. Anyway, I really need to get that fabric so I can move ahead more quickly. Anyone have any ideas for a really pale gray???

Since my pictures in this post are kind of clumsy, and garish (it's been really dark and rainy so I had to use a flash), I'll leave you with one nicer picture of my spring flowers in the front yard. Our crab apple exploded with blooms yesterday, but I can't get a good picture because of the rain. If the sun comes out I'll get one. I wish there was a way to "take a picture" of the aroma. It's heavenly. 

I'm linking up today with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday, Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday. Buttons are on the right.