Friday, October 19, 2018

Desperately Seeking Squares: The Pursuit of Pineapple Piecing Perfection Continues

I got my first two rows of pineapple log cabin blocks sewn together yesterday!  Woo-hoo!

I still have the mailing label stickers on all of the block centers because I'm paranoid about messing up the layout.  Pinning these blocks together is going SO slowly and, now that I'm trying to pin two complete rows together, the pins I've already put in are getting caught up on each other and getting pulled out...  Grrr...  

I've got my #97D Patchwork foot with seam guide on my Bernina, which I love -- because it lets me focus 100% of my attention AHEAD of the needle and presser foot, so I can make sure the raw fabric edges are perfectly aligned and the lower seam allowances aren't flipped BEFORE they get to the needle.  But using that seam guide means my pins are in "backwards," with the pin heads to the left and the tips of the pins pointing to the right, and no part of the pin is protruding beyond the edge of the fabric.  

See How I'm Using Just the Tip of My Pins?
That's why it's so easy for my pins to get caught on things and pulled out accidentally while I'm working with these large sections in my lap.  I wish I had some extra fine but SHORT pins for this, like 1/2" sequin or applique pins.  Do those even come extra fine?  If anyone knows of a good source for them, or has any other ideas for me to try, please share in the comments!

First Two Rows Together!
So I now understand why this Fons & Porter foundation paper piecing pattern was rated "Challenging!"  Paper piecing the blocks was time-consuming but super easy, even beginner friendly, but joining these blocks together once they are pieced, with a bazillion non-nesting seam allowances fighting you every step of the way, is like wrestling a grizzly bear or trying to catch a greased pig...  Or like trying to prevent your teenager from eating potato chips and Pop Tarts in his bed...  You get the idea.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
My favorite thing about this design is the secondary pattern of green and blue four-pointed stars when the blocks are joined together, with "twinkling" red center squares, and I was worried about accuracy at the block intersections.  The (free!) Fons & Porter pattern is a reproduction of a 19th century quilt owned by the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, and as you can see from the close up below, the original quiltmaker had some trouble where the blocks come together.  I felt like, with all the advantages of 21st century technology at my disposal, I ought to be able to piece squares at the block corners rather than rhombuses, rectangles or kites.

Original 19th Century Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt
So it really felt good to press this seam open and see my completed four point stars with cute little red SQUARES in the center for the first time yesterday!

As Square As I Can Manage

With 36 blocks rather than 16, my quilt is twice as large as the original even before factoring in the borders mine will have.  Here's that original 19th century quilt again:
Full View of Original Quilt, 74 x 76

I absolutely love how vibrant and MODERN this antique quilt feels, don't you?  Although, gotta confess -- with as long as I've been working on this quilt, I've got misgivings about actually putting it on my bed and sleeping under it once it's finished.  Maybe I should make a clear vinyl "duvet cover" to protect it like the Italian grandmothers used to put on their sofas?

Clear Vinyl Cover For My Pineapple Quilt?  Yea or Nay?
-- Can you believe that I sewed ONE seam and I have THIS MUCH to say about it?

Okay, break's over -- back to work, everyone!  Today I'm linking up with:
Whoop Whoop Fridays at 

Finished Or Not Friday at 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tuesday To-Do: Machine Embroidered Sawtooth Star Name Tag

Happy Tuesday morning, y'all!  I just have a couple of quick things I wanted to share with you:

Name Tag Embroidered and Sandwiched, Ready for Quilting!
This is an "orphan" 4" sawtooth star block leftover from my Paint Me A Story WIP (that quilt top is finished and waiting for me to quilt it).  When I joined the Charlotte Quilter's Guild last month I discovered that I need to make myself a nifty little name tag to wear at guild meetings.  Since I have plenty of projects in progress already, I decided to repurpose something that I had already made rather than starting from scratch.  Keepin' it simple!

Creating the Embroidery File in Bernina v8 DesignerPlus Embroidery Software
I used my Bernina DesignerPlus Embroidery Software v8 to digitize my name for machine embroidery.   This is a computer program that is separate from my sewing machine.  Although the software is capable of really advanced digitizing, I most often use it for quick and easy, down and dirty digitizing tasks like this one.  All I had to do was type my name, select one of the TrueType fonts already installed on my computer (the font I chose is Bradley Hand ITC) and resize it to fit the 2" square center of my sawtooth star.  Then I saved the embroidery design to a flash drive, plugged the flash drive into my sewing machine, and I was ready to go.

Bernina embroidery software will default to the smallest embroidery hoop that will accommodate your design, which would have been the Small hoop in this cases, but I overrode that in favor of the Medium hoop because I didn't want to actually hoop my star block and risk "hoop burn" indentations or distortion.  Instead, I hooped two layers of lightweight tearaway stabilizer.  I marked the center of my star block with a chalk pencil dot, sprayed the back of the block with 505 Spray and Fix Temporary Spray Adhesive, and carefully positioned my block on top of the hooped stabilizer.  

Then I lightly sprayed a scrap of Sulky Solvy water soluble embroidery stabilizer with 505 Spray and Fix, and stuck that down on top of my block. (In my test stitchout of this design on a scrap of the same hand marbled fabric, the embroidery stitches were sinking into the fabric too much.  Using a topping stabilizer really helps with that). 


My Bernina 750QEE (predecessor to the current B 770QEE model) has an automatic basting feature that I absolutely love.  It's kind of tricky to find that option when I haven't done machine embroidery in awhile, but when you engage the automatic basting function the machine will baste a little box right around the area of the embroidery design, which is perfect for a situation like this where I'm floating my block and my topping rather than securing all layers in the hoop.  Those basting stitches hold everything in place so there's no shifting while the lettering is stitching out.  I believe the auto basting feature is on all of the current model Bernina embroidery machines, but if you have an older model Bernina you have a similar option.  There are basting files for each of the Bernina hoop sizes available for free on the Bernina web site that you can download and transfer to your sewing machine.  They are like embroidery design files that just stitch out a basting stitch around the perimeter of your embroidery hoop, so you would stitch the basting file first to secure your project in the hoop, and then stitch out the real embroidery design.

Embroidery Completed, Basting Stitches and Stabilizers Removed
So anyway, here's what my block looked like after I'd carefully removed the basting stitches, topping, and tearaway stabilizers.  I think it looks great.    I chopped off the corners of the block because I decided that an octagon-shaped name tag is more interesting than a square-shaped name tag, and I found a length of leftover black and white striped binding that I can use for this as well.  However, I cut into a precious floral fabric FQ from my stash for the backing, even though no one will see it.  I couldn't help myself!  So now my little embroidered block is layered with floral backing and a scrap of quilt batting, and it just needs to be quilted, bound, and possibly further embellished in some way...  And of course, I need to decide how I'm going to wear it.  I don't want long strings around my neck; I'm leaning towards magnets instead.

All Ready for Quilting!
And, since I'd already chopped a big hunk out of that fat quarter for my name tag backing, I took a moment to trace as many 9 1/2" clam shells as I could fit onto the rest of that fabric.  

Freshly Cut Giant Clam Shells On My Design Wall!
Won't those be fabulous?  (Pay no attention to the abandoned Jingle BOM project on the left side of the photo -- that's just a scale reference.  I'll get back to that one eventually, I promise!)

My Jumbo Clam Shell Acrylic Template, available on Etsy here
In case anyone's interested, I'm using an acrylic 9 1/2" finished clam shell template that I purchased from an Etsy seller here.  What I like most about this particular template is that there are lots of little holes along the concave and convex curves that will make it so much easier to align the edges correctly whenever I get around to piecing these together.  

Anyway, that's all I have for you guys today.  My Tuesday To-Dos for this week are:

  1. Finish my name tag
  2. Load and quilt the Outreach Cuddle Quilt that I showed in my last post
  3. Continue pinning and piecing pineapple rows together

Of course, those are just my WANNA-Dos.  I've got some HAFTA-Dos on my plate as well, like preparing for a meeting with an interior design client, making sure my son gets his college applications in on time, and figuring out what I'm going to sing at a friend's wedding in a few weeks.  So don't judge me too harshly if next Tuesday rolls around and I still have the same three items on my Tuesday To-Do list!  

Oh, and I'm going to see Hamilton tonight!!!!  Can you tell I'm excited?!  YAY!!!!!

Okay, so today I'm linking up with:

Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts 
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt 
Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag: 
To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things: 
Let’s Bee Social at 
Midweek Makers at
WOW WIP on Wednesday at 

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