Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Few More Pineapple Log Cabin Blocks: 33 Finished, 9 More Required

I did manage to make another couple of pineapple log cabin blocks last week.


Most Recent Pineapple Blocks Completed
So now I've got 33 finished blocks and 9 more that need to be made.  With 97 pieces per block, and the repetitive nature of construction, this is very tedious work.  I absolutely love how the blocks are coming out and how they look together on my design wall, but can't make any more of these blocks right now.  I need a break!


Some of my Earlier Pineapple Log Cabin Blocks
I know I am going to love this quilt when it's finished, but if I had known how long it was going to take me before I started, I probably wouldn't have chosen it.  I am going to have SO MUCH FUN with this once I get it loaded onto my longarm frame!!

I have been thinking about how i'm going to plan the layout for this quilt once I've finished all of the blocks.  Laying out the blocks edge to edge before they are sewn together, it will be about 109" x 130", way larger than the design wall in my studio, and I do want to plan my layout rather than just randomly stitching blocks into rows.  I'd like to avoid sewing blocks together in a way that puts the same fabric in adjacent patches if I can, and there may be an evolution throughout the piecing process whereby the earlier blocks use more muted fabrics and more recent blocks have more bright fabrics.  If so, I'll want to balance that out with my layout, too.  I think I'm going to bring my stack of blocks to church in the middle of a weekday when nothing's going on and lay the blocks out on the floor of the Lower Commons area at the entrance to our new sanctuary.  


Group Photo of Our High School Kids
The same way we do for group photos like the one above, I can lay out my quilt blocks on the floor of the Lower Commons and then go upstairs to view the whole thing from a distance to see if anything jumps out at me and needs to be moved.  There may be a few trips up and down the stairs involved, but a little exercise won't hurt me!  And once I have my layout finalized, I'll label the blocks with little stickers or post it notes or something before I stack them up to bring them home.  Perfect, right?

I do still need to cut and sew the outer white border to my bear paw quilt, which you see on the wall below my pineapple blocks in the first photo.  But the project taking priority this week (well, taking priority during my odd moments of free time, that is!) has got to be finishing the class sample quilt for the beginner quilting class:


37" x 37" Class Sample Waiting Patiently to be Quilted
I haven't been procrastinating with this as much as I've been deliberating over the best methods to teach my beginners for layering, basting, and quilting.  This is supposed to be a 2-Saturday class with all of the cutting and piecing done in the first day-long class, time for students to catch up if they need to before the second class, and then layering, basting, quilting AND BINDING in the second class.  It's a small quilt, only 37" square before quilting, which means that backing fabric doesn't need to be pieced or anything.  It would probably be a good candidate for spray basting, but I think I should teach them how to baste with safety pins so they know how to do that for other, larger projects -- and I am not sure how everyone could be spraying that adhesive glue around in the store without overspray getting all over the place, anyway.  

With so much to cover in so little time, I think this is going to have to be quilted in boring straight lines with a walking foot.  That way I can teach them how to stitch in the ditch, which I do consider to be a basic machine quilting skill.  I keep thinking of other ideas that would make the finished quilt more exciting, but then the reality of the time factor sets in and I keep going back to the straight lines.  

If the quilting is too involved, students won't be ready to sew their binding in class with me there to help them, and the corner miters might be tricky for a beginner trying to finish up at home.

Hmmm...  I just had an idea.  What if I cut up some of my practice FMQ quilt sandwiches into mug rug sized squares and use those to teach my students how to sew their binding?  That way everyone gets to practice the corner miters and learn the technique for joining the ends of the binding, even if some students work more slowly than others and are not ready to put their binding on before the end of the class.  I knew I was holding onto those practice pieces for a reason!

I'm linking up with:

·       Let’s Bee Social at http://sewfreshquilts.blogspot.ca/

·       Midweek Makers at http://quiltfabrication.blogspot.com/

·       WOW WIP on Wednesday at www.estheraliu.blogspot.com


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

DIY Longarm Machine Overhead Lighting, So I Don't Sew Through My Fingers!

Ta da!  Look what my handy husband made for me this weekend!


DIY Long Arm Lighting, Courtesy of Bernie
After I horrified Bernie with the tale of a quilter who was quilting in poor lighting and stitched THROUGH HER THUMBNAIL with her longarm machine, my darling husband decided to move this project up to the top of his Honey Do list.  I took this photo before dawn this morning, right after I shooed my teenagers out the door for school, and the picture does not do justice to how my new lights illuminate this whole end of the studio.

APQS does sell an overhead lighting system that I could have purchased for my Millenium machine, but it costs $795 (which my husband thought was outrageous) and I'm pretty sure it uses incandescent lightbulbs that run hot and give off a yellow cast.  I wanted white lights so I wouldn't have to color-correct all of my project photos, and either fluorescent or LED bulbs that don't radiate heat.

APQS Overhead Lighting System, $795
I'm not sure exactly how much money Bernie spent on my overhead lighting, but I'm guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-100.  He used PVC piping and attached the light bar to the same universal mounting brackets that the APQS overhead lighting kit uses.  The wires for my lights are run inside the PVC pipes for a clean look.  Instead of the track lighting that the APQS version uses, Bernie used LED shop lights for mine, the kind that are marketed for a woodworking shop.  They flood the entire work surface of my 12' frame with even, bright light.  The individual track lights ARE kind of cool looking, but I don't know whether it's necessary to move them around and point them differently as you work on a quilt.  Once I get a quilt up on my frame I'll be better able to tell if these lights create any undesirable shadows or anything, but I would think the lighting needs of a woodworker would be very similar to the lighting needs of a machine quilter.

Of course, the interior designer in me was thinking of sleek wire track lighting that would mount to the sloped ceiling above my machine, eliminating the need for a light bar attached to the quilting frame:

Wire Track Lighting In This Kitchen.  Cool, Right?
But Bernie didn't want to mess with those because he's never installed them before and suspects they would be a major hassle, but more importantly, he's confident that they would be MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE than his PVC and shop lights solution.  And I conceded because I know he's right, and in this situation functionality is way more important than aesthetics.  

My Cutie, Installing the PVC Light Bar
So, according to my calculations, this weekend warrior project saved me approximately $700 that I can now spend on fabric!  (JUST KIDDING, Bernie!!)  Hah!

Have a great week, everyone.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Quilting Challenge! EQ7 Block 2973: Piecing? EPP? Applique?

Hello and Happy Sunday!  I need suggestions from you advanced quilters out there.  I found a block that I like in my EQ7 software Block Library, but I'm not sure how to make this one:

Block 2973 in EQ7
What do you think?  If the block is in EQ7, then I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the world it exists in fabric and thread, and somebody must have figured out how to make it.  I do not want to simplify the block by adding additional seams; I just want to figure out the way this block was most likely made by its original maker.  

It can't be foundation paper pieced because of the 90 degree angle seams and the curved seams.  So my first thought was EPP (English Paper Piecing).  But I would worry about those inside corners getting all frayed from handling if I tried to EPP them.  Also, what about those outer seam allowances?  The other blocks in this quilt were not EPP so I really need exact 1/4" seam allowances on the outside of this block -- I would not be able to baste all the way around the outer fabric patches, unless there is some trick I don't know about.

Now I'm thinking applique, but maybe applique combined with piecing.  I feel like the center "X" seam lines around the yellow square and between the red and green fabrics needs to be machine pieced so that those points are nice and crisp.  Same thing with the seams between the purple batik and the hot pink triangles.

Alternatively, could I hand piece this block if I cut the patches out with templates and carefully marked all the seam lines?

This will be a 6" block, to mix in with my Farmer's Wife sampler blocks.  Any suggestions greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farmer's Wife Block No. 6, Big Dipper

I snuck off to my studio yesterday for just long enough to make ONE little 6" quilt block.  It has been a hectic week, so I am calling this a win!


Farmer's Wife Block No. 6, Big Dipper
This is another of those 6" sampler blocks that I've been working on intermittently.  Some of the blocks, like this one, are from the original 1920's Farmer's Wife Sampler book by Laurie Aaron Hird, some are from her 1930's sequel book, and then I started just making other random 6" blocks to mix in.  In the midst of my other really slow-going projects, it just feels like a treat to pick out ONE block design, select fabric for that one block, cut it up and sew it back together again, and then stick it in the box with the others.


Traditional Piecing on my Vintage Featherweight Machine
Many of my sampler blocks have been paper pieced, but this one was a pretty straightforward candidate for rotary cutting and traditional machine piecing.  I used my 1935 Singer Featherweight with the original multipurpose presser foot and vintage Singer Cloth Guide screwed to the bed, shown above.  I have tried just about every aftermarket generic 1/4" foot out there, and this is still my favorite way to achieve accurate piecing on this machine.  The original foot is a solid fit with NO wiggle and NO play, precisely aligned with the narrow feed dogs on this straight stitch machine.  Once I have the seam guide positioned where the raw edge of my fabric needs to hit for that 1/4" seam, it stays firmly in place where I've planted it, despite the machine's vibrations.  And I just leave the cloth guide installed on this machine, so every time I take it down, it's ready to go for perfect piecing.


Spiraled Center Seam
I opted to pop the seam allowance CAREFULLY at the intersection of each QST (Quarter Square Triangle) unit so I could spiral my seam allowances around the block, reducing bulk, and I did that at the very center of the block as well, once I had joined all four QST units together.


The Newest Block, About to Join My Other 6" Sampler Blocks in the Project Box
As you can see, my fabric choices are quite different from the ones shown in the book.  That's part of the fun for me, Supreme Fabric Nerd that I am -- I like those bright colors, wild prints, and picking things that turn a block that bores me into a block that makes me happy.  I used one 2 1/2" jelly roll strip of the black and purple Kaffe Fassett print to cut the 8 QSTs for this block, and then selected the pink striated batik and similar-looking blue tonal print to draw out the accent colors in the KF print.  


Not the Most Exciting Block, But It Will Play Nicely With the Others!
Meanwhile, I started in on two other ginormous pineapple log cabin blocks, bought a few more Accuquilt GO! dies for other projects, FINALLY scheduled my longarm training with my dealer, and have been brainstorming about how to quilt my class sample project in a way that will be achievable for beginner students, but not too boring...  Hopefully now that I have a plan, I may be able to get that done over the weekend.  

Today I'm linking up with:

·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at www.confessionsofafabricaddict.blogspot.com

·       Off the Wall Friday at Creations: http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/ 

·       Finished Or Not Friday at http://busyhandsquilts.blogspot.com/
Happy Stitching, everyone!
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