Saturday, June 30, 2018

When Pythagoras Met Jane: Ancient Math Magic Comes to the Rescue of a Damsel In Distress

NOPE, I haven't been working on my Jingle BOM, my Pineapple Log Cabin, or anything else that I promised the whole Internet I'd be working on this week.  Instead of sewing, I've been busy designing a NEW project, one that will use up leftover strips that had been cut for pineapple log cabin blocks.

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to quick-and-easy, down-and-dirty string pieced projects that would be oh-so-sensible for this purpose.  But alas, I am not a sensible girl.  I'm an impractical, wish-upon-a-star, dream-up-something-different-to-drive-myself-crazy kind of girl.


And so I have camped out in my office with EQ8 quilt design software, brainstorming, browsing the block and layout libraries for inspiration, exploring all of the cool design tools like Merge Blocks, Clip and Flip, Add Frame...  Finding photos on the Internet that simulate what my string-pieced fabric sections will look like so I can treat those areas as if they were a single fabric...  Trying out different layout and color schemes and oodles of different colors and fabrics...  


And after all of those hours of design labor bliss, I ended up with three quilts that I might (or might not) make with my leftover 1 1/2" strips of fabric.  In an effort to get away from the computer and up to my studio sooner rather than later, I'm going to share one of the designs with you today and will share the others over the next few days.  This one is my current favorite:



Option One, Great-Grandbaby Jane, 52 x 52
This design began with one of the 4" applique blocks from the historic "Dear Jane" sampler quilt.  I blew up the scale of the applique and will be using strip pieced fabric for the petals.  Then I added a Storm At Sea frame around the giant applique  (I will be strip piecing the large diamonds as well), and set that block on point in the middle of my quilt.  There are smaller versions of the Dear Jane applique block in the four corners of the quilt, with different pieced frames around them, and the borders of the quilt are from my strip-pieced pineapple scraps as well.  In real life, my scraps will be more mixed up than they are in the design picture, using my leftover blue and green pineapple strips as well as some bright solids, and I think I'm going to chop up some pink and orange strips out of stash fabric as well.  I don't want to be working off the exact same color palette as the pineapple quilt -- enough is enough, if you know what I mean.  I'm so excited about this one that I have already printed off cardstock templates for the center applique and foundation paper patterns for the Storm At Sea border.


Some people will tell you that design software takes the math out of quilting, and that's true to a certain degree...  I mean, for most users it's probably true.  It depends on what you want to design.  But my personal experience is that math skills + fab design software  = QUILTING SUPERPOWERS!  When I tried to print foundation paper patterns for my Storm at Sea border directly from my quilt design in EQ8, this is the wretched print layout the computer came up with:



EQ8 "Doing the Math For Me"
Yuck, right?  Because the block for which I'm trying to print foundations is on point in my quilt, EQ8 plops my foundation sections down on the paper oriented exactly how they are in the quilt -- in this case diagonally, rather than aligning them so their straight edges are parallel to the edges of he sheets of paper.  Normally, quilters are not trying to paper piece gigantic blocks that do not fit on sheets of paper like what I'm trying to do, but I love the accuracy of paper piecing and I have my heart set on doing it that way, so there you go.

I have already adjusted this whacked layout the best that I can using the Rotate option to turn my sections in the screenshot above, but EQ8 only lets me turn the pieces in preset "chunks" -- it's not an infinitely adjustable rotation, and there's no "snap to grid" or "fit the bleepin' page" option.  Sometimes we are grateful to our computers for doing the thinking for us, and other times we need to put on our thinking caps and figure out how to outsmart the computer!


I went back into my project file for this quilt, called the Sketchbook, and opened up the center block I'd created all by itself in the Block worktable, to see if EQ8 would print the foundation sections straight if it didn't know I was secretly planning to set the block on point in my quilt.  YES!!  However -- (don't you HATE when there has to be a "however"?!) -- since I was no longer printing the block from my beautiful quilt design where everything is the right size to fit together nicely, in the Block worktable EQ8 is looking at that center medallion as if it's any old ordinary block, and the default size was something like 6".  And of course, I can easily change that -- but only if I know the actual finished size my block needs to be to fit into my quilt design.  Helpfully "doing the math for me," EQ8 tells me (when I'm looking at the Quilt Worktable) that this block measures 48" x 48".  Unfortunately, however, that is a corner-to-corner measurement, NOT the length of the block sides.  I need to manually enter the length of the SIDES of my block, not just the diagonal measurement, in order for these foundation patterns to print out at the correct size.  It's time to put on my Big Girl Panties and do the math myself.



The Pythagorean Theorem Saves the Day!
When I was sitting in a high school geometry class so many years ago, bored out of my mind, I had NO IDEA how useful all those formulas would be for art and design.  They should offer a course called Math for Design Majors that would cover all of the same content as the regular algebra, geometry and precalculus, except all of the problems would use examples from art, architecture and design instead of those dumb word problems about calculating batting averages, trains traveling in opposite directions at different speeds, and the likelihood of winning at dice games.  My math class would be team taught by the Art Department and the Math Department, would have twice as much class time as the regular math class because students would be actually applying the math they were learning to hands-on art projects for reinforcement, and the class would satisfy both the math requirement as well as an elective fine arts credit...
Today's EQ8 Tech Support Solution is Brought to You by Pythagoras, c. 570 - c. 495 BCE

Anyway, did you see that crazy number my magic math came up with?  My center block needs to measure 33.941" x 33.941" in order to fit in my quilt.  Not exactly ruler-friendly, is it?  And that's where it's such a godsend to be able to type a weird measurement into EQ8 and print out foundation paper piecing patterns of the exact size needed, with no rounding or fudging required.  Here's what the print layout for my Storm at Sea block frame looked like when I printed it from the Block Worktable, setting the block size to 33.941":

THAT's More Like It!
MUCH better!  Now each of the Square-In-Square corner blocks fits on a single page, and each of the diamond sections will be taped together from only two sheets of paper.


What Paper Does Rebecca Use for Paper Piecing?

Carol Doak's Foundation Paper on the Left; Saxs Newsprint on the Right. EXACTLY the Same Stuff.

When I write about paper piecing, I often get emails from readers asking what kind of paper I use.  I have tried LOTS of different papers, and my favorite is newsprint.  Some people recommend vellum because you can see through it, but my paper piecing method doesn't require see-through foundation paper and I find that vellum is awfully stiff.  The thicker weights can actually crack along the stitching line as you're sewing the seam.   Plus vellum has a slippery coating that encourages your fabric bits to scoot around without your permission.  Newsprint paper is ideal -- like the kind of paper that cheap children's coloring books are printed on, and that's what kind of paper that paper piecing superstar Carol Doak's recommends as well.  Newsprint is strong enough to hold up throughout the paper piecing process without tearing easily, yet thin enough to tear away once stitching is complete.  Newsprint also has a slight rough texture that helps to "grab" your fabric and reduces slipping -- that's a huge help since you are "sewing blind" when you paper piece, with your fabric completely covered by a sheet of paper under the presser foot of our sewing machine!  






The only challenge with newsprint is that our modern printers are spoiled by printing on fancy copy paper all the time, and sometimes they throw a little tantrum when we ask them to print on lowly newsprint.  For instance, the printer may beep at you and complain that the paper is jammed when you can see with your eyes that there is NO jam, or sometimes multiple sheets will feed through instead of just one piece at a time -- it's that slightly rough texture of the newsprint that "grabs" the fabric and holds it still, so we LIKE that quality in our foundation paper!  Check your printer's paper type settings.  My moderately priced Epson WorkForce inkjet printer/scanner has a Recycled Paper setting that seems to feed newsprint more smoothly than the Plain Paper setting does.  And if an extra sheet or two of newsprint gets stuck in the printer occasionally and gets wasted, I don't worry about it anymore because I found a SUPER cheap source for my newsprint foundation paper. 



At first I was using Carol Doak's Foundation Paper, and it's great stuff.  Although it doesn't say so on the package, it is definitely newsprint and it comes in a pack of 100 8 1/2" x 11" sheets that retails for $12.95 (but Amazon usually has it discounted).  You can probably find that at your local quilt shop or even at JoAnn's.  But then I found the exact same paper at a fraction of the cost -- instead of getting a dinky pack of 100 sheets of Carol Doak's newsprint paper for $12.95, you can get a whole ream of 500 sheets of Sax Plain White newsprint for only $9, with free shipping.  




Now, I love Carol's design aesthetic, I have purchased several of her books, and I would be thrilled if I ever get to take a class with her, but I am not going to pay seven times as much for my foundation paper just so it can have her name on the package.  Newsprint paper isn't fancy stuff, y'all -- it's the stuff your newspaper is printed on, it's the cheap scrap paper they used to pass out for standardized tests in elementary school, for goodness' sake.  It should not cost more than regular copy paper!  I bought my 500-sheet ream of Sax newsprint two years ago, and I still haven't even made a dent in it.




This is the book by Carol Doak that taught me how to paper piece, by the way.  Unlike her newsprint paper, her book was worth every single penny.  She has a paper piecing class on Craftsy that has stellar reviews, too.  So, buy Carol's books and sign up for her classes, but get your newsprint from Sax!


Okay, kiddos (of all ages, including ME!) -- somehow it is now after midnight and my "quick little blog update" has spiraled out of control once again. I actually have a red owie on the edge of my wrist where it has been rubbing against the edge of my laptop keyboard as I type!


So, NO TYPING for me tomorrow!  Instead, I'll be either:


  • Working on my Jingle BOM, tweaking the pieced block border, trimming the center medallion and adding inner borders
  • Starting the new design I shared with you today using the foundation patterns I printed out before getting sidetracked by a neverending blog post
  • Removing the foundation papers from my pineapple log cabin blocks and joining them into rows
  • Breaking my no typing vow, and writing another post about the SECOND cool design I came up with today using my EQ8 software!  ;-)
Happy stitching, and have a great weekend!  I'm linking up with :


Monday, June 25, 2018

Jingle Progress Report and Secret Beach Discovery!

Good morning!  Just wanted to briefly -- yes, BRIEFLY -- organize my thoughts and task prioritization around my current works in progress.


Jingle BOM Still On the Design Wall, Borders Completely Assembled
As you can see, my Jingle BOM is still up on the design wall.  The diagonal set block borders have been completely assembled now and I just need to trim the excess fabric from the bottom border.  


Sewing the Last Block Seam...
And as I've been working on the block border, I've been thinking about what I want the inner border(s) to look like.  That predominantly gold print fabric in the photo is a FQ (fat quarter) from my stash circa 2013, when I first started this project, so there's no hope of finding any more of it now.  Also the print is too "muddy" from a distance to be my favorite final choice -- but I do like the idea of having some kind of metallic gold stripe in between the applique medallion and the Big Block Border.  And so...  Fabric shopping had to happen.  Shhh!


Kaufman Holiday Flourish 10 Stripe
Here's what I came up with.  It's Kaufman's Holiday Flourish Stripe, but I think it's from last year's collection (Holiday Flourish 10) and not from this year's collection by the same name (Holiday Flourish 11).  I hate trying to match colors when I'm shopping online, but hopefully this will look good with what's already on the wall.  I'm thinking of isolating one or more stripes for borders both inside and outside the diagonal block border...  We'll see what it looks like when it shows up in my mailbox.

Meanwhile, I've got another minor issue to contend with.  Many of my applique blocks have hand embroidered green chain stitch stems, and when I did that stitching I wove my thread tails through previous stitches to secure them.  However, when I agitated the blocks in the soapy Dawn bloodbath to resolve my dye bleed issue, those thread tails worked loose and are visible through the background fabric on the right side of my blocks.  


Loose Embroidery Thread Tails Need Securing
Look at those ridiculous stitches on the back of this block.  I was so worried about getting my stitches close enough together that they are piled up on top of one another, tighter than the weave of the background fabric!  Just another reminder that this is my first-ever applique project that I'm finally finishing -- and every new skill that is difficult at first becomes easier with time and practice!  I have decided to secure my embroidery thread tails on each applique block with a few hand stitches in regular cotton thread.  Also, I didn't remove any of the background fabric behind my applique with these blocks or with the center applique medallion.  I might not trim behind every leaf, but definitely behind the larger shapes to reduce bulk prior to quilting.  Trimming away backing and hand stitching thread tails in place should keep me busy while I await the arrival of my border print fabric.


Pineapple Log Cabin Blocks Still Waiting for Assembly
And of course, my pineapple log cabin blocks are still waiting to be released from their foundation papers and assembled into a quilt top, too.  I'm not sure which of these two quilts will go on the longarm machine first, to be honest.  Jingle has lots of opportunities to SID (Stitch In the Ditch) all of the pieced blocks and try my hand at custom quilting around the applique.  I'm not sure how I want to quilt my pineapple log cabin yet -- still kicking around some ideas in my head. 

No sewing got done last week, though -- we escaped to the beach for a few days while our teenagers were on a church choir trip.  We went to Bald Head Island, two miles off the mainland of North Carolina, and found the most tranquil, isolated beach you can imagine right near Cape Fear:


The Best Beaches Are EMPTY Beaches
No loud music.  No cigarette smoke.  No trash washing up on the beach.  Just empty sand as far as the eye can see, warm summer air with a cool ocean breeze, toes in the sand under my umbrella, and the rhythmic lullaby of crashing waves.  We had the whole beach to ourselves the whole time we were there.  Just what the doctor ordered!


My Sweetie Carrying Chairs Down to Our "Private Beach"
Having an empty beach all to myself is amazing to me.  Growing up in New Jersey, a day at the beach meant heavy traffic driving down to the Shore for the day -- Point Pleasant Beach -- and it was always VERY crowded, like this:


A Day at the Shore: Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey
See what I mean?  You can't even see the beach or the ocean in for the sea of people blocking your view.  But that's the kind of beach I grew up with, and that's the only kind of beach I knew before moving to the Carolinas.

It took us about four hours to drive from our home in Charlotte to Southport, North Carolina, where we left the car and took a ferry across the Cape Fear River to Bald Head Island.  The subtropical island is largely undeveloped, with 10,000 of its 12,000 acres untouched nature preserves: beaches, maritime forest, and salt marshes.  No cars are permitted on the island either and, in order to help sea turtle hatchlings find their way to the moonlight reflecting off the ocean, there is very minimal artificial nighttime lighting from humans anywhere near the shore.  So it gets DARK at night, and you can even see STARS!  To get from one beach to another, or to one of the pool clubs or restaurants, residents and vacation renters either ride bikes, walk, or zip around in golf carts.  We were able to rent a golf cart from the bed and breakfast where we stayed.


No Cars, Just Golf Carts!
So, is this my new favorite beach?  I liked that it was secluded and full of nature preserves, like Kiawah Island near Charleston, SC, but it had a more casual vibe -- didn't feel like I needed to get all dressed up to go out to dinner like I did at Kiawah.  On the other hand, Kiawah seemed to have more to do -- more variety of restaurants, shops, and activities scheduled throughout the summer.  We were only at Bald Head Island for three days and although we had a great time, we were ready to leave when it was time to go.

Do you have a favorite beach in the Southeast that I should try next time we're ready for a weekend getaway?  Please leave a comment and tell me all about it!  I still have not figured out an efficient workaround for replying to your comments since Blogger mucked with their comment notification system (I think this was needed in order to comply with new EU data privacy requirements?) but please know that I do read each and every comment and I love hearing from you, even if I can't figure out how to reply to you directly via email!

Have a wonderful week, and happy stitching.

I'm linking up with:

Friday, June 15, 2018

Your Creative License: Why Investing In Your Quilting Hobby is NOT a Waste of Money

A few days ago, a fellow quilter posted in one of the online Bernina forums that her husband was getting on her case to start selling some of her handmade projects at craft fairs in order to justify her ongoing fabric expenditures.  My response to her post seemed to resonate with a lot of people, so I'd like to share those thoughts here on my blog as well for all of my readers who are not members of the Bernina forum.  As always, your friends are my friends -- feel free to share this with your guild or with your quilter/sewist/crafty friends as long as you credit me as the source and include a link back to this blog.



So, the initial question on that Yahoo! forum was "how do I price my quilted placemats, wallhangings, etc. so that they sell," but what really jumped out at me was her explanation that "DH (Dear Husband) is complaining about all the fabric purchases coming in... and not selling any of the stuff I make."


When You Turn Your Hobby Into a Business, You LOSE Your Hobby

Now, I want to be clear that I have nothing at all against the many women and men who have sewing and craft related businesses.  However, I can tell you from personal experience that when you turn your hobby into a business you totally LOSE your hobby.  And this is not just me telling you this -- I hear this over and over again from professional longarm quilters, pattern designers, quilting teachers and authors, that they spend so much time and energy working on customer projects, class samples, and scrambling to meet magazine deadlines that they rarely have time to make anything for themselves anymore.  When it's a hobby, there are no deadlines.  You make whatever you want to make, using colors and patterns that appeal to you, exploring new techniques that intrigue you, without worrying about whether you're making something that has mass appeal to potential customers.  If you get bored or frustrated with a project, you can set it aside and work on something else instead.  If you make a mistake, it can be a "creative opportunity" because you aren't bound by a contract to make something that looks exactly like the drawing or pattern that your customer signed off on.  If you make a really big, disastrous mistake and it's your hobby, you can chalk it up to a learning experience and move on, without having to worry about what you'll tell the customer, or all of your profits going down the drain.  


Successful Businesses Don't PRICE Items to Sell, They MAKE Items to Sell


In order to have a successful business sewing handmade items, it's not just a question of PRICING items to sell, but MAKING items to sell -- that is, evaluating the current trends and fashions in home design and making things that people are wanting to buy right now even if these projects are boring as heck and do not appeal to us personally. Take placemats for example, since that was one of the projects the quilter in the forum had enjoyed making but had difficulty selling at the craft fair: The quilted placemats in Ballard Designs, Williams Sonoma, and Pottery Barn are pretty boring, muted solid color fabrics in beige, white, sage green, maybe a pale yellow. Maybe a red holly print at Christmas and a brick orange/rust for Thanksgiving, but that's about the extent of the excitement:
Williams Sonoma Vine Floral Boutis Quilted Placemat, Set of Four for $59.95
There's nothing WRONG with that placemat.  Williams Sonoma sells a lot of them because they are neutral enough to work in most people's kitchens, whether their style is traditional or contemporary, and that's what people are buying now. Cheap imported products are so readily available that it is difficult to sell small quilted items at a high enough price even to recoup the cost of your fabrics, let alone your time. Yes, we quilters can tell the difference in quality between the set of 6 placemats for $40 at Bed Bath & Beyond (less the 20% off coupon, of course), or even the pricier set of 4 placemats for $60 for sale at Williams Sonoma, but quilters won't pay that much because we can make it ourselves out of our own favorite fabrics, and nonquilters are only interested in whether the color looks good in their kitchen and wanting to pay as little as possible.  



You might be able to sell more interesting projects if you concentrate on baby/children's items or holiday decorations, such as baby quilts, Christmas tree skirts, etc.  But even then, you run into the problem of non-quilting customers' unrealistic price expectations based on the artificially low price of cheap imported goods in stores.  They'll buy the Santa Claus Christmas tree skirt at Pottery Barn in the end because it cost less than the fabric for your handmade tree skirt Several quilters have told me that they stopped participating in craft fairs and bazaars because most of the "customers" who stopped at their booth confessed that they were "just looking for ideas."


Craft Businesses Make What Customers Want to Buy, Not Necessarily What They Want to Make
For those who are willing to make the necessary creative sacrifices and give up their hobby in order to pursue a handmade craft business, I strongly suggest networking with others in the craft industry for best practices and mutual support.  The Craft Industry Alliance is a great place to start.  But what about the rest of us?  




If the quilts and table runners and wall hangings that we labor over and invest so much of our disposable income, time, and energy making don't sell at the craft fair, does that mean all that money we spent on fabric was wasted?  



I think it's healthier to think of our quilts and other handmade projects as BYPRODUCTS of a creative hobby that confers many health benefits. Our hobby is relaxing. It lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, anxiety and depression, and the ongoing learning and problem-solving that is so much a part of sewing and quilting keeps our minds sharp and wards off cognitive decline, especially as we get older. It gets us out of the house to go to quilt shows, to take classes, or to go fabric shopping. It fosters social connections with other quilters. Creative hobbies are also cathartic, helping us work through painful emotions of grief and trauma. A recent study found that people who spend 2 hours per day on a hobby were a whopping 21% less likely to die prematurely than those who did not have a hobby. SO... All that money you are spending on fabric is ACTUALLY a wise investment in your health and well-being. 



The money you are spending on fabric is only a fraction of what would otherwise be spent on high blood pressure medication, antidepressants/anti anxiety meds, psychotherapy, or needing nursing home care sooner due to to cognitive decline and memory problems. You are investing in a couple extra years to live, and abetter quality of life for more of those years than you would otherwise have. You are investing in being around for a couple more family weddings, a few more graduations and birthdays, the chance to hold another great-grandchild in your arms. What price can you put on that? 


If your hobby was golf or fly fishing, you would get many of the same benefits that you get from sewing and quilting, and you would probably spend just as much money (or more!) on fly fishing equipment, golf clubs, club memberships and greens fees, but you would have nothing at all to show for your hobby except a shelf full of Hole In One trophies and photos from the day you caught the biggest fish. 



The "Quilts" of a Golf Hobby
Suppose we totalled up all the money all the money this golfer spent on his (or her) hobby over the years -- all the money spent on club memberships, clubs, bags, shoes, apparel, lessons, driving range practice, caddy and cart fees, tournaments, balls, etc.  According to a 2009 American Golfer survey, the average golfer plays a round of golf about once per week and spends about $3,000 per year on his/her hobby, with some of the more avid golfers in the survey reporting that they spent $15,000 or more.  If we added up all of that money and divided it by the number of Hole In One trophies on the shelf, we could conclude that the golfer spent thousands of dollars on each little plastic trophy! Get out there and sell those plastic trophies at the craft bazaar, Mr. Golfer!! :-) 


Can You Spot the Golf Trophy Table At the Craft Bazaar?  Neither Can I!
Because the quilts and wall hangings and placemats you make are really just the trophies and souvenirs of your creative hobby that is conferring tremendous mental and physical health benefits, increasing your life expectancy, and improving your quality of life. If you want to sell your "trophies" and someone else wants to buy them, that's fine and dandy.  Whether you sell a quilt or gift it to a loved one, it feels good to know that you have made something that brings love, comfort, beauty, and utility to another human being.  However, if you want total creative control to make the projects you want to make in the way that you want to make them, if you don't feel like trying to make it into a business, or if you've attempted to sell items at a craft fair and it didn't go well for you, that does NOT mean your creative life as a waste of money spent on fabric. 

I think we women can be particularly hard on ourselves about investing in our own self care.  I don't think I have ever heard a male quilter talk about Quilt Guilt the way women quilters do.  We have this ideal of the Selfless Mother to live up to, the Giving Tree who gives up her leaves, fruit, limbs and trunk for her family until there is nothing left of her but a stump (SERIOUSLY, Shel Silverstein??!!).



The Ideal Wife and Mother Is a TREE STUMP
But, as the flight attendants remind us, we need to put on our own oxygen masks before we can help others.  A tree stump isn't going to be much help in a family emergency!  And, if all else fails -- if your significant other still gives you grief about the cost of your sewing hobby even after you share all these wonderful studies and statistics with him, I have one more argument for you:



Happy stitching, everyone!

I'm linking up with:



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jingle Border Progress: To-Do On Tuesday, Work-In-Progress Wednesday, Still Not Done Thursday, etc.

Happy Tuesday, and while I'm at it, Happy Wednesday, too!  I've been working on assembling my Jingle BOM block border with the setting triangles, a little bit each day, but I've only completely assembled and trimmed one side border so far.


Jingle Border Progress
It's really slow going because all of my carefully pressed and starched seam allowances in the pieced blocks came UNpressed when I soaked them in hot, sudsy water to get all the bleeding red dye out of the blocks.  It is neither easy nor fun to try to figure out which direction the seams are supposed to go and press these completed blocks back into submission one seam at a time!


Unruly Seam Allowances Post-Bloodbath
It feels weird to see my tiny hand stitches (TOO tiny, I now realize!) on the appliqué blocks as I'm sewing them to the setting triangles by machine.  I made these blocks so long ago, and handling them again feels like déjà vu.


See?  Too Many Tiny Stitches.  
Yet, since this is my first appliqué project, this is also the first time I'm sewing these dimensional blocks together. I'm not used to the bumpiness, and having to carefully avoid the raised appliqué shapes when I'm pressing the seam open with my iron. I am SO looking forward to quilting around the appliqué so the little birdies and leaves pop up even more!! :-)

I did measure that left side border that I completed this week, and determined that I should be able to fit a 6" finished border, or multiple borders totalling 6" finished width, between my large appliqué center medallion and this on point block border. But I'm not going to get ahead of myself -- right now I'm just focused on assembling this block border as carefully as I possibly can, and hoping that top, bottom and sides all end up the same size! If there's any fudging needing to be done, that will impact my options for the inner borders.

So my To Do Tuesday goal for this week is the same as last week's goal, to continue working on assembling the Jingle borders. I probably should have set this as a One Monthly Goal instead of a weekly goal, but whatever. I'm not even going to call them goals anymore, okay? From now on, I'm selecting a focus for each week instead of a goal. If I choose something to focus on, then as long as I actually work on it, I WIN! This is my hobby, and it's all about the process. If I ever finish anything, well, that's just a bonus prize. ;-)

One parting photo to share with you today: My Tabby Mountain Disco Kitty quilt has been gifted to my friend, and her cat Finn has indicated his approval:

Sir Finn Approves of His New Quilt
Today I'm linking up with:

Monday, June 11, 2018

Pineapples On the Design Floor, With Border Bliss!

Pineapple Log Cabin Layout Finalized
I had a hunch that my church would be pretty quiet on a Saturday morning in June, so I packed up my pineapple log cabin blocks and label stickers and used the floor of the Lower Commons (a large lobby/fellowship area outside the Sanctuary) to lay out my quilt blocks.  It took me about an hour to get my 36 blocks laid out in a 6 x 6 grid without any of the same fabric strips right next to one another or too close to one another where any of the corners meet up.  


Aerial Shot Taken From Upper Commons Balcony
My blocks still have foundation paper backings, so I wasn't worried about getting the blocks dirty from the floor.  Once I'd finalized my layout the way I wanted it, I used permanent label stickers from an office supply store to label each block with its row letter and column number, to ensure that I get the blocks sewn together the same way I laid them out.


Labeled With Stickers
Yes, I could have written on the foundation paper backing, but those papers need to be removed just prior to sewing the blocks together.  I'll have slight fudging to do at the outer seam intersections due to imperfectly aligning the foundation sections prior to photocopying them, and/or photocopying distortion.  Who knows how long it will take to carefully remove all those little bits of paper, and it would be all too easy to accidentally rotate or flip a block and sew the wrong side to the next block, so I went with stickers -- and "permanent" label stickers rather than the "removable" kind, too, because I don't want them coming off accidentally.  I don't think there's any such thing as a sticker that would PERMANENTLY adhere to cotton fabric, especially to cotton fabric that has been so heavily starched as my blocks have been throughout construction.

When I headed to the church with my stack of blocks, I was planning to just lay out 30 of my blocks in a 5 x 6 grid, to which I would add a border of partial blocks around all four sides with scalloped edges to get the finished quilt large enough for my California King bed.  That would have looked something like this:


Scalloped Partial Block Border Plan
I would have had to take apart six of the blocks I worked so hard to piece, and I would have had to make twenty more partial pineapple blocks in addition to the butchered blocks...  Since each full block took 6 hours to piece, this scalloped partial block border would require approximately SEVENTY-FIVE additional hours of piecing.  And once it was done, this would not be some amazing show quilt, because I'm going to be quilting it myself with my wobbly, newbie longarm quilting skills.  

But I have already made 36 blocks, and you know what?  I just do not want to make any more of them.  I want to be DONE with this quilt; I want it out of my studio and onto my bed, this pineapple log cabin quilt that has been exactly FOUR YEARS in the making.  If I had any idea this quilt would take me so long, I would never have started it in the first place 



I don't know if this is just a summer phase, but I am moving away from clutter and overscheduling and overcomplicating and working on simplifying my life right now.  I've backed out of some commitments that were taking up too much of my time and energy, I've whacked a bunch of things off my To Do list that don't really need to get done, and I'm looking at this sewing hobby that is supposed to be relaxing and holding myself accountable for turning every single project into a giant flying stress monkey!  I have 6 quilts in progress right now, none of which are ready to be loaded onto my empty longarm frame, and I know that I also need -- WANT -- to make a special quilt for my son's high school graduation about a year from now.  

And so, I am not making any more pineapple log cabin blocks, and I am using all 36 blocks that I have already made. In order to get to the size I need to fit my bed comfortably, I will be adding a 3/4" solid blue border, same width as my pineapple strips, and then I am going to add a 6" wide outer border in this large scale Kaffe Fassett Collective print that I selected at my not-quite-local quilt shop on Saturday afternoon:


Kaffe Fassett Dream Floral in Red
I like the Bohemian folk art quality of this floral print, "Dream Floral" in Red from Kaffe Fassett Collective.  It is bright and cheerful without being too juvenile, and it has a vintage vibe.  I like the splotches of blues and greens that tie into the primary colors of my pineapple blocks, and I like that this fabric is predominantly the coral color that I used for the centers and corners of every pineapple block.


Border Fabric Auditioned in EQ8 Software
In the computer rendering above, the quilt blocks are represented by a tiled photograph of a single completed pineapple block, whereas the border is from a scan of the print fabric that I got from the fabric manufacturer's web site, imported into EQ8 software, and scaled to represent the size of the fabric print accurately.  The big difference between photos and scanned images is that photos have more muted colors and shadows, which makes the scanned fabrics look too garish and bright.  This couldn't be helped; the flat bed on my printer/scanner is not big enough to scan one of these enormous blocks!  In the photo below, you can see that the actual fabric is much softer than it appears in the computer rendering, and the colors tie in with my blocks beautifully.  I like how it plays with my drapery, pillow and upholstery fabrics, too.  


Final Border Fabric Audition, In Situ
Doesn't that border fabric look PERFECT with my blocks?!  Including these borders, my quilt top should measure approximately 120" x 120" when I load it onto my 12' longarm frame.  It should end up somewhere between 108" to 114" square after quilting and laundering, taking 5-10% shrinkage into account.  

I am SO EXCITED about this new plan that moves my pineapple quilt so much closer to completion!  Woo-hoo!

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