Thursday, July 26, 2018

Scrappy Thousand Pyramids Plan, Pineapple Paper Peeling Progress, and a Batting Query

Scrappy Thousand Pyramids, Something Like This?

I made a bunch more of my scrappy, strippy equilateral triangles a couple weeks ago, but then I stopped to come up with a plan for them.  I'm thinking of a throw size quilt, around 52" x 66", similar to the EQ8 design pictured above.  My triangles finish 7 1/2" tall x 8 3/8" wide, so I'll need 50 full pieced triangles, 8 half pieced triangles, and then 50 whole + 8 half alternate triangles in a mix of solids and prints -- not necessarily the prints pictured, mind you, but whatever odds and ends are gleaned from my scrap hoard. The mottled solids that I used in my EQ8 design are mostly the Moda Grunge Basics, which I absolutely love.  They remind me of artists' pastels.  So much more depth than plain solids, and the variations of shade and intensity within each piece of fabric will enable these better-than-solids to tie all of the colors of my crazy scrap prints together nicely.

Moda Grunge Basics Bundle, Available on Etsy (affiliate link)
As usual, the links in this blog post are as much for my benefit as they are for yours -- the Etsy seller I'm linking to does custom 5-piece bundles of Moda Grunge Basics, either quarter yards or half yard cuts, and you get to pick which 5 colors go in your bundle.  According to the EQ8 yardage calculator, I don't need more than a quarter yard of any one of my solid fabrics for this quilt design, so that's probably the route I'll go.  However, I should probably make all of my pieced triangles first before finalizing the coordinating fabrics.  In real life, I have a lot more variety in the fabric strips going into these pieced triangles than what I bothered to show in the design rendering.  

Two In the Morning Is a Good Time For Triangles

I started out by sewing long strips of fabric together until I had a wide enough piece to cut triangles from and then cutting as many as I could from that pieced length of fabric.  However, I soon switched to piecing rough oversized triangle shapes just a bit bigger than my ruler.  It's more fun, less fiddly to press than long pieced strips, and it lets me use up all different scrap sizes.  What's more, it yields unique triangles rather than several that are alike, and I think that will be more interesting in the finished quilt.  

Behold my cluttered, dysfunctional design wall:



Gridlock On My Design Wall!
This picture of my design wall was taken at 2 AM, when I should have been sleeping, but I was having too much fun sewing strips together and chopping them up into equilateral triangles.  Once I've made all of my triangles I will want to finalize the layout on the design wall, but at the moment the wall is full of:
  1. My Jingle BOM quilt, which needs the center medallion trimmed and the borders tweaked and finished so it can be assembled into a quilt top, ready for quilting.
  2. My FrankenWhiggish Rose Applique project in the lower right corner, which needs LOTS more applique shapes to be prepped, basted and hand stitched before all nine blocks are done.
  3. The Abandoned Skirt Project near the upper right corner, which needs a tricky zipper installation worked out because I decided I need a lining too late in the construction process, and which also needs me to lose another 10 pounds before I'm the size I was when I started making the skirt...
  4. That Schumacher drapery fabric memo in the upper right corner is there for no reason at all.  I forgot to take it down when I was finished with it.
And yet, instead of finishing what needs to be finished with Jingle so I can take it off the wall, I decided to make triangles all night long.  Despite having no room to lay them out.


...Meanwhile, I've been carefully removing the foundation papers from my pineapple log cabin blocks, and contemplating the next steps for that project as well.


Final Layout for My 36 Pineapple Log Cabin Blocks
I am having zero trouble removing the foundation paper, by the way.  The secret-for-success is piecing with a very SHORT stitch length (1.5 on my Bernina) and using a LARGE needle (size 90 quilting).  This creates larger needle holes in the paper, spaced closer together, and that makes for excellent perforation.  I fold the paper back and forth along the stitching line several times during construction of the block, and once the piecing is done, the paper tears away easier than ripping a check out of your checkbook!


Peek-A-Boo!  Back Side of Pineapple Block, Freed From Foundation Paper
I like to make sure I got every little speck of paper off, too, with no tell-tale remnants to inform the snoopy quilt historians of the future that I "cheated" by using foundation paper piecing.  That's my own business -- let them think I have magical skills of precision piecing and measuring!!  (As if the Internet, full of blog posts spilling my secrets, wouldn't give me away...)  I'll be checking again for stray bits of paper as I join the blocks together at the sewing machine, where I have much better visibility thanks to my trusty Stella Lighting Task Lamp.  


   


Soft, Smooshy Quilt Blocks With Paper Removed!
I'm about two thirds of the way through removing the papers from my 36 quilt blocks.

OFF With Those Foundation Papers!!
But despite the paper tearing cleanly and removing easily, it is still time consuming since there are 97 bits of paper to remove from every single block.  I'm working on it a little bit at a time, mostly while watching television at night.  And I'm using this time to mull over some of the quilting hurdles that lie ahead.  Such as the fact that no batting manufacturer on Planet Earth makes batting wide enough for me to use a single, continuous piece of batting for this oversized King quilt.  The finished top will measure 120" x 120" once the borders have been added, and King batting is sold either 120" x 120" or 120" x 122".  I need at least 4" excess batting on all four sides of the quilt top, and I prefer to have even more excess batting on the sides of my quilt for checking tension throughout the quilting process.  So it looks like I'm going to have to piece my batting, and I do NOT want the join to be even a smidge noticeable in the finished quilt.  No little ditch, no permanent fold line or ridge; I want that join to be INVISIBLE.  




And so I am asking you the questions that I asked in several quilting-related Facebook groups yesterday:

  1.  Have you ever pieced batting for a special quilt before?
  2. Could you tell where the join was in the finished quilt?  
  3. Did the batting seam wear differently and become more noticeable over time?
  4. What kind of batting did you use?  (I'm leaning towards either Quilter's Dream Wool or Dream Orient batting for this quilt)
  5. How did you join your batting pieces?  Whip stitched by hand, machine serpentine or zigzag stitch, fusible batting tape (don't think wool batting can take the heat, though), serger flatlock stitch, or some other method?
  6. Does it matter whether the batting seam is parallel to or perpendicular to the rollers when I load it on the frame?  I'm thinking vertical/perpendicular to the rollers.
  7. Anything else I need to know before I attempt this?
Well, once again my "quick little blog update" has eaten up an outrageous amount of my time.  I've got other fish to fry, so I'll sign off for now.

I'm linking up with:

Friday, July 6, 2018

Reckless and Unsupervised, Quilter Goes Rogue! Strippy Thousand Pyramids, Anyone?

I Made Cute Little Triangles Out of Scraps!
The past few days have been more chaotic than anticipated, and we have company coming in from out of town on Friday so there's lots to get done in preparation for houseguests.  Those are my excuses.  Anyway, I found that I wanted to do a little "decompression sewing" just to hear the rhythmic stitching of my sewing room and touch all the pretty fabrics while my mind was wandering off in multiple directions.  That is not a good mindset for figuring out how to adjust the bottom pieced border for my Jingle BOM, which ended up about 1/4" longer than the top border.  And I'm waiting to start joining pineapple log cabin blocks until Jingle is a complete top in line for quilting.  So I got this wild urge to just grab leftover 1 1/2" wide fabric strips that I'd cut for my log cabin blocks and start sewing them together, with no plan at all.  There was a very good possibility that I was wasting fabric, thread, and time on this fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants piecing.  It was exhilarating!


No Pins or Nothin'!
For my pineapple log cabin quilt, I chopped up lots and lots of fat quarters and fat eighths into 1 1/2" wide WOF (width of fabric) strips and draped them over a tall laundry drying rack to keep them wrinkle-free and ready to go for the FOUR YEARS that I have been working on those blocks(!).  I wanted a lot of variety for the pineapple blocks and I ended up with an awful lot of leftover strips, enough to use in several different scrappy string-type projects.


Lots and Lots of Leftover Strips
I came up with several different designs in EQ8 for using up the strips, such as the Pythagoras-Meets-Jane design I shared with you the other day, as well as this offset star design:


EQ8 Offset String Star Baby or Wall Quilt Design
Here's the other EQ8 design I came up with for my leftover strips:


Another Idea for Leftover Fabric Strips
I still like each of those designs, and I may (or may not) make BOTH of them at some point.  However, each of them would require more brain power than what I have available at the moment.  You know when your Internet is running really slow because one of your teenagers is downloading a movie, Brother the Other is streaming music, and your husband is downloading computer updates all at the same time?  That's how my brain is running right now.  I didn't want to muck around with templates or foundations or even rulers; I just wanted to sew little strips together into big pieces and then decide later what to do with them.  So I just started grabbing strips of fabric and sewing them together, with NO plan.  It felt so wicked!


This Is What Reckless Abandon Looks Like
And then, taking a break from my mindless, reckless strip piecing, I poked around on Pinterest for some ideas of what to do with my pieced-together strips.  Inspiration struck when I stumbled across this lovely quilt, "My Life Aquatic," that was made by my friend Julie of Pink Doxies in 2015:


Inspiration Quilt "My Life Aquatic" Made by Julie of Pink Doxies
Isn't that beautiful?  I don't have the dimensions of Julie's quilt, but I think her strips are wider than mine, like maybe from a jelly roll.  But  that's my plan, as much as I have one.  I pieced 8 of my 1 1/2" strips together, and that gave me a big enough piece of "made fabric" to cut out triangles using my Nifty Notions Good Measure Bias Triangle ruler, just lining it up and slicing around the perimeter of the ruler on all three sides with my rotary cutter.  


Nifty Notions Bias Triangle Ruler
That's the ruler I used to cut out those first two triangles at the top of this post.  Nifty Notions calls it a "Bias Triangle," but it's actually an isosceles triangle (two equal sides) because the length of the sides is longer than the length of the base.  This is the triangle that works for a triangle-in-a-square or "peaky and spike" block, like 54-40 Or Fight:
54-40 Or Fight Block Made With Bias Triangle Ruler
 I think I'm going to switch to my 60 degree equilateral triangle ruler.  An equilateral triangle has all three sides the same length and all three angles measure 60 degrees.  As I discovered with my Tabby Mountain Disco Kitties, it's MUCH easier to piece equilateral triangles together because you can just slap them together RST (right sides together) with all the edges even, no pins or nothin', and they'll come out perfectly.  Isosceles triangles need to be offset just so in order to open them up and have the seam look right:

Remember How "Jog the Ends Slightly" Made Me Crazy?
I'm not looking to give myself any more aggravation than absolutely necessary, if you know what I mean!  I'd like to give my seam ripper a few days off for good behavior!  



Meanwhile, I got all the foundation paper carefully torn away the first of 36 pineapple log cabin blocks last night.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, either -- just took time and patience.  

Well, I still need to prep some vegetables and do a last-minute dust-and-vacuum run through the house before it's time to pick my niece up from the bus station, so I'd better get off the computer and get on with it!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

I'm linking up with:


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