January 08, 2018

Patches and Pinwheels pt. 3

Three fourths of the blocks are finished. I've made some progress on the remaining 16-patch blocks but have a ways to go. It has been slow going now since I am taking the time to measure the piecing and blocks before starting the next one. I am fairly certain that my difficulty is from inaccurate cutting. Placing the ruler inconsistently can cause some pieces to be just a bit smaller or larger than other pieces. Bonnie Hunter loves piecing quilts with lots of small pieces. I'm curious as to how she really maintains accuracy. With as careful as I thought I was, I still ended up with difficulties. This is something that I will have to revisit as I go forward with other quilt projects.

December 27, 2017

Patches and pinwheels pt. 2

After fixing all of the 16-patch blocks, I assumed that I had all the blocks I needed for the top. But once I started laying out the blocks, I realized I only had half the number of blocks needed. I went back to the pattern. In Bonnie Hunter's free patterns, she does not necessarily give you piece or block counts. The free patterns are a bit more of a free-form tutorial style. In this pattern she tells you how she laid out her quilt and you have to do the math figure out what that means. There are pluses and minuses to this approach. In my case, I just did the math wrong.

You can see how many 4-inch squares I was able to cut out of the upcycled shirts. A large or extra large shirt can yield quite a lot. I will definitely have left over squares for another project. I do take the time to square up my half-square triangle blocks because it does make it easier for matching the points in the final pinwheel blocks.

I made a visit to the local thrift store because I was out of white/light colored fabric. I managed to score some XXL white cotton dress shirts. I should have enough fabric to finish up these blocks!

There is some debate in the quilting community. Some people seem to think that fabric from clothing is not great for quilting. I tend disagree. Upcycling old clothes hearkens back to yesteryear when our grandmothers did not waste anything useable. Producing a quilt from otherwise useless clothing is the ultimate in recycling and economy.

December 11, 2017

A new quilt project : Patches and Pinwheels

I have been following Bonnie Hunter for a few years and I finally decided to try one of her quilt patterns. I selected Patches and Pinwheels, one of her free patterns at her website. I wanted to try one of her quilt patterns because I wanted a feel for how she designs her quilts. I admire Bonnie's ability to sit down at a machine and sew scraps together to create a quilt - though I suspect she uses eQuilter design software more than we know. On the surface, this method of using fabric scraps in ready to go sizes seemed very relaxing. I also want to migrate into designing my own quilts. I know I can, but I get stuck at the planning stages. I needed to loosen up in my expectations of color and fabric and just play.

The fabric for this quilt comes mostly from upcycled men's shirts, but I threw a few of mine in there as well. With my first attempt, I did not pay attention to the fiber content of the shirts and some of them were more polyester then cotton. I ended up not liking the fabric from those shirts, so they ended up in the garbage - minus their buttons. After that I primarily used only cotton shirts. I supplemented with some shirts from the thrift store which yielded a surprising amount of fabric and a few fat quarters from the fabric store.

My first few attempts at cutting apart a man's shirt to harvest the fabric took me much longer than I expected. There is this little bit of fear about potentially ruining an otherwise good shirt. An irrational fear because several of these shirts had worn collars and cuffs and were not suitable for donation. After cutting down several, I developed a system and they went pretty fast.

The cutting and sewing went pretty well until I was ready to square up my blocks. The pinwheel blocks are fine for the most part. The 16 patch blocks were not. Bonnie Hunter recommends checking the piecing periodically to ensure everything measures as it should. I did not check very often. I figure my machine was set properly after the first few blocks and away I went. Come to find out that most of my 16-patch blocks all measured 1/4-3/8" too small. If the sewing or cutting is off just a little bit on a few of those 2 inch squares, the problem is quickly multiplied across the entire block.

So yes, I am going back through the 16-patch block and redoing them. This is a good lesson on precise cutting and sewing and checking measurements.

December 08, 2016

Big chunky scarf

DH asked for a scarf last Christmas. Of course he asked for it about two weeks before Christmas. He picked the yarn and color. This is the only picture I have and it's not that great.

Pattern: The Nørrebro Scarf
Yarn: Lion Brand Thick and Quick
Color: Claret
Needle: Size 13, double pointed bamboo
Mods: Eliminated ribbing

You would think this would be a quick and easy project with super bulky yarn, but I didn't finish this until April 2015. Three things got in the way - super busy work schedule and my ongoing fatigue. The third was the yarn itself. Because I had to use such a large needle, it really hurt my hands. I only managed about 4 or so rows at a time and then I had to stop. It seems counterintuitive that large needles would cause this problem, but it certainly seems to be the case. There is probably a happy ergonomic needle and yarn size, but smaller is better for me. I have no problem knitting with size 1 sock needles, but not the super large size 13's.

DH likes this scarf because it is soft, squishy and super warm.

November 30, 2016

Hawaiian quilt pt. 2 and where I am now

On January 1, 2016, I finished piecing the Hawaiian quilt, complete with borders. It was an all day sewing marathon while I watched a Justice Network marathon (one of the few antenna based channels that comes in clear). Next up is to figure out the backing and then quilting. I plan on having a local quilter do the quilting, which is why this is still sitting here. Overall I am very happy with how this came together and when I finish it, I will post more pictures.

The thing I learned from this project was precision sewing. That crucial 1/4" seam allowance. I've read about it in many quilting books and tutorials and thought that I understood it. And then I discovered that my blocks did not measure up or match corresponding blocks. It wasn't terrible, but it was enough to bother me. I took the time to carefully square up each block, which included trimming the blocks down about an 1/8" so they were all the same size. The blocks are rotated 90 degrees, so there was really no need for the seams to match on corresponding blocks. Next time, I will pay more attention and check measurements as I go.

So why the long blog absence? It was really quite simple. I started working as a pattern maker again. It was a bit of a surprise opportunity to go back. At the same time I was dealing with a severe bout of chronic fatigue. So between the two jobs and the chronic fatigue, I had nothing left. I've been feeling better recently, though every now and then I'm reminded this is something I will have to deal with for a long time. I have a lot to say about how doctors treated me and what it took for me to recover, somewhat. But that is for another day and another blog.

In the meantime, I do want to get back to blogging. I will probably focus on whatever projects I am currently working on rather than pattern making and design. I have finished a few projects over the last year and a half, so there is more to come.