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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hello Again, Chicken!

My sweet chicken, Red Metro Lattice, returned from finishing school yesterday. She’s been quilted for about 2 weeks, but making arrangements to pick her up were problematic. Basically it’s boiled down to traffic issues and getting schedules to merge at a convenient point and it just didn’t work out. I finally asked the lovely quilter to put it in a box and mail it. It was painful to watch the package travel from Toronto to Hamilton over the course of 5 days. Yeah. 5. Long. Long. Days.

RML has acquired all the airs and graces she needs, and is about to become acquainted with her binding. I’m not sure why so many don’t like this stage of quilt making. While sewing the binding on by hand is slow, watching it finish the quilt's edge is so satisfying. Maybe she’ll be ready for the wash this weekend, but most likely it will be the next one. I’ve got about as much energy as a boulder travelling uphill under its own power this week. Never mind. It will be fun to finally see what she looks like fully fledged. When she’s left the coop for good, the nest will certainly feel empty. At least until the next all-consuming project (Peter's quilt, at last) gets underway. Show off date scheduled for mid-August or early September.
I love her. Deeply.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Quiltography – An iPad App

I have to admit to liking Quiltography, even though there are a number of issues with it. The app allows the user to design block templates or use pre-defined templates. Once a template has been decided upon, photos of your fabrics can be used in blocks to lay out a quilt top.

Cons:

  1. I’d like to design block templates down to the ¼ inch. However, it is an iPad app, so that demand may be out of line. Maximum template size is 16 square units. So, you can fully design a 4” block exclusive of seam allowance, if you want. I’d like to work on 16, 20 or even 36 inch blocks at the ¼ inch level.
  2. Blocks used in the quilt top are expected to all be the same size. 
  3. I don’t want to design blocks in small sections. I thought of breaking things up, but see #2. 
  4. Custom templates cannot be edited once saved. That’s a real pain. It also would be good to copy templates for editing, and you can’t do that either. If you sketch out your basic block templates on graph paper in advance, laying them out in the template tool is not as odious. Since you only get one shot at laying it out, if you’ve got a sketch to refer to you can make sure you get everything in place before exiting.
  5. Since you can’t edit a custom template, you’d better keep notes on your intentions for the size of individual pieces in the block because you won’t be able to return to the editor to check things out (count the number of squares you used in a piece, for example).
  6. Once templates are created, you can’t use them in a quilt top until you make blocks by selecting a template and choosing fabrics from the fabric selector. What if I just want to get a quick idea of the graphics of the thing before committing to all of that fabric? Really, I want to print it and colour myself to determine colour scheme. Sure, I can pick white for all of the pieces, but that shadows the pieces and it prints out on a grey scale.
  7. The block library quickly gets cluttered up. Let me assign blocks to specific quilts and de-clutter. Generally speaking, the blocks for quilt A won’t be used in quilt B. On the other hand, it is nice to preview different layouts of the same design.
  8. Does not allow for a half-block to be included in the design. 
  9. I’d also like to be able to save to a scale of my own choosing and take the image to a printer (not a regular office or home printer, but a large scale one) to put on large paper.
  10. I’d like to annotate the size of my blocks, especially since the block size is not fixed in scale. This is a bit of a mixed blessing since any block can be declared to be any size. But when working on a specific quilt, I’d like to be able to determine the size of the pieces in a block easily. Since you can’t go back and edit a template, you have to keep notes outside of the app to track your intentions.
  11. It would be nice if the block size stayed with the quilt in question instead of transferring to all of the quilts in your design library. For example, if you specify a block size of 14” for one design, that block size will transfer to all of your other designs. This interferes with the fabric calculations, and can certainly be problematic. If you switch to another quilt where the blocks were intended to be 12”, you’d have to specify that block size again – if you can remember to do so.
  12. The fabric library gets sluggish when more than a few fabric photos are loaded up.
  13. There’s a limit of 72 pieces for a block. If I can make a 16 x 16 grid, well, I’d like to use every square in the grid for something different.
  14. Exports only to jpeg. See dreams of printing a design off onto a plotter (large scale printer) in #9.
  15. While the app lets you know how many blocks you need of a certain style in the quilt design, and the yardage (does not work all that well for on point designs), it does not tell you how big to cut the pieces within a block. 

Pros:

  1. Quickly lay out the basics in a graphical fashion for further refinement somewhere else. 
  2. Does a decent job on the math for calculating yardage, except for the on point option, where the program assumes you’ll be assembling full blocks on the edges of the quilt.
  3. Love the sashing and cornerstone tools, but I’d like to be able to set a specific width rather than dragging to size. 

I hope this app is going to go places. At about 19 CAD, it’s expensive for an app, but does a lot more than a simple game does for a few dollars. It sure was handy for starting a layout for Peter’s quilt.
It’s also fun to fool around with the template and fabric libraries to make different blocks and quilt layouts to see how things might look. Despite the cons, of which many are more suited to a full blown computer application, it’s a fun tool. If you can’t afford a full blown quilt designing program, well, this will certainly help you out.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cosmic (Catnip)

When I see this block name in the pattern book, I immediately attach Catnip to it's name since it is the brand preferred by the Six and Tikka. Sometimes its strange how the mind works.

Fabric E of the green block for this pair suffered a cutting accident and a replacement for it had to be found. I’m glad the cutting occurred well in advance of sewing the block, since that allowed me to keep up with the quilt-along. In the low light of my stitching-by-hand construction area, it was difficult to see the differences between many of the colours for this block pair, especially since the stitching generally starts as the light is waning. I am totally enamored with the subtle colouring differences in these blocks. Particularly with the red one.


Thank you Myra for hosting the Gravity quilt-along.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Outside Voices

Gale’s:

At last. A fabulous sewing machine lives with me. In. My.House. There was a really great sale at Nova Sewing. It’s so beautiful. I’m sofortunate. Meet the new sewing machine. I love it. Madly. It’s my for-now machine.Thank you Peter for bringing it home.



The Sewing Machine’s:

Hello everyone, I’m the new sewing machine. I moved in with Gale a week ago. She’s excited about me, and truth be told, morethan a little in love. Me? I COULD like her, but she’s a bit over-eager. Like,really over-eager. I don’t want this to be my forever home. There’s hope that it isn’t since she SAYS it’s not. But man, she can hardly stay away. I tell ya’ she’s wearing me out. Can someone rescue me please? Anyo

Sixes:Wow. This looks like a great place to hang out, especially when Gale’s close to the machine. There are a lot of places to sniff and rub my head on. That thing that goes up and down really fast? You know that thing?Little bits come out on one side for me to play with? I’m going to catch it with my paw. The one with 6 toes on it. Or should I swat it with the paw with 7 toes. Yep.It’ll be fun.

I have to admit to being unfaithful to Gravity this week. The new sewing machine has me enchanted and taking advantage of the opportunity to sew by machine? Well, that’s been wonderful. There’s a pile of 84 squares left to trim this weekend that used to be triangles. Nice. Here's a shot of Postcard from Sweden.

A week ago I spent some time at Needlework using one of the student machines. It was so very much nicer than the broken machine at home that having a look at priorities was in order. After careful consideration, a decision to go with a different model was made. The new machine is a Janome 4120QDC B. It’s an intermediate machine, and so far I am in love. That ¼" foot is amazing, as is the variable speed control and everything else tried so far. An upgrade will be possible at a later date, but perhaps I might not want one. We’ll see. The machine was on sale last week, and my sister and I both bought the same model. Of course, she made her purchase over the phone since it's a tough commute from Nova Scotia.


It’s time to get back to Gravity, which will continue on its hand-stitched way. There’s only one set of coloured blocks left to assemble,and much of the background has been hand-stitched already. Might just as well carry on, since there’s not much of the top to hand sew.





Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I. Am. So. Excited! My long-arm quilter sent a few proposals for quilting Red Metro Lattice yesterday. This bad camera phone photo is the result of our conversations.

RML’s quilting will start tomorrow if life and other factors do not get in the way. She should be ready to pick up on the weekend. I can barely contain myself.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet light is a form of electromagnetic radiation not visible to the human eye. Its wavelength is shorter than visible light, yet longer than that of x-rays. Not sure why these blocks are called ultraviolet, since one is so obviously the complete opposite of violet. Perhaps it’s the pale colours. My photo is really not showing the colours as it should - there's a lot less contrast.

Would that I could be so talented in choosing colours. There’s almost nothing in this colour set that would make it deliberately into my shopping cart, but I know how wonderful the blocks are going to look set into the flimsy.  Only 3 sets of coloured blocks to go.

Thank you Myra for hosting the Gravity quilt-along.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Does this make me a Designer?

Planning Peter’s quilt has given me all kinds of grandiose ideas. Ideas like “I’m a designer!” Truly, I think not I’m pretty sure it takes a bit more than a single idea to earn the designer label, but it’s amusing to bounce that idea around. Playing with block dimensions and piece placement within the blocks for the quilt has kept me busy for a little while. Sashing colour is the only thing left to make any kind of decision on, but the rest? The rest is ready to go.

Working the final details out for each of the full blocks was easy. 1/4 inch graph paper was used at full scale to mock the blocks up in true-to-life size. Pieces of graph paper were taped together and cut to size to get a feel for the finished size of the block. Squares in the various planned sizes were cut and placed on the paper block in various configurations to determine which arrangement appealed to Peter most. Since there were only a few arrangements under consideration, once it was decided, all 5 of the mock-ups were labelled with the finished size of the pieces plus seam allowances.

I did not bother with calculating fabric requirements since a generous quantity of manly fat quarters (34-ish?, or about 8.5 yards) has been waiting for the project to begin, along with a good length of shot cotton for the background. Quiltography calculated the requirement for background fabric at 7 yards and there are 6.5 yards available. The app appears to calculate full blocks for the half and quarter blocks on the edge of the design, so I expect at least 1.5 yards of the background will be leftover. The cutting directions for each set of blocks were really easy to determine, especially since all of the shapes are rectangular and regular.

I am excited about the possibilities and can hardly believe this idea is really coming to life. To the cutting mat!