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Monday, August 31, 2015

Gravity Greys

It was possible to leisurely hand stitch 8 seams together for Gravity’s background in an hour. As with other tasks I don’t much enjoy, a lot more time was spent staring at the pieces rather than just getting it done. Intellectually, it is so much better to just get the work done rather than staring at it, but emotionally? Well, generating the excitement for all that drabness was close to impossible. Please don’t misunderstand – I like grey, but I’d rather work with colours that are not grey. Or brown. And that was a lot of hand-stitching. With grey. If it had been interspersed with other colours things might have been different. Or perhaps if it was machine sewn it would not have been as odious. To get as much of it out of the way as possible, I interpreted this step in the QAL such that the block strips for the background were assembled as much as reasonable without stepping into complete assembly of the top. Forgive me. While this all could have been machine stitched, there is a noticeable difference in the look between the hand stitching and machine stitching that made me carry on with the stitching by hand nonsense.

There were a number of missteps with the grey in putting the blocks together in their strips, mostly due to not caring that much about all that grey, and that was clearly a mistake on my part. It was a real pain, but they were all resolved. Many swear words were spoken and quite loudly too. Have I learned a lesson there? Probably not.

Here's my pile of grey.
The background was expanded by a diamond on each side widthwise. Peter and I continuously struggle for blankets in the winter, and we have a king sized bed. Since the size of this bedroom bound quilt was in my control, making it wider made sense and was easy. An extra diamond was inserted along the sides and the edge filler blocks were shifted slightly in colour where necessary. It would have been nice to go 2 blocks wider, but I’m feeling a bit lazy about the whole thing. It’s actually more about not wanting to carry on with more grey. Oh yeah – some of the expansion bits were Kona Snow. 

Thank you very much Myra for hosting the Gravity Quilt-Along.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hipster Cat Quilt

My cousin’s eldest daughter had her first baby a few weeks ago, a pretty little girl. Having stumbled on the Hipster Cat Quilt on Pinterest, it was the first project that came to mind on hearing of the pregnancy. Girly-girl fabrics from an old impulse purchase made it immediately possible to construct this sweet baby quilt. It was satisfying, fun and fast, even though working on it was spread out over a couple of months. Since the pieces were mostly big, it really didn’t take much time at all to applique everything. 

For a first time effort at applique, the work is decent. After almost all of it had been finished, I had a rethink about how the resulting blanket might be used. Baby should be able to drag it around until it is nothing but a rag, and maybe that whole applique by hand/quilt by hand thing would make Mum think it too delicate for that kind of use. So top-stitching around the applique, and quilting by machine were the ticket. This was my second time at a machine for quilting, and the result is much better than the first. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, and many places where gravity (not the quilt) got the best of me, but it’s better. I. Love. It.


Fabric: A print by Rashida Coleman Hale provides the main body for the cat. Something about hearts might have been in the title. The belly, ears, backing and background are coordinating wovens, with no information on the selvages regarding origin. Other fabrics? Equally unknown. Perhaps keeping some kind of notebook on fabric purchases might be in order.

Batting: A double layer of Quilter’s Dream 100% Cotton, which really is quite dreamy.

Things to like: Whimsical and quick, this could be completed by any newbie with determination over the course of a weekend. Someone with more skill might be able to get it done in a day.

Not so much: I could have spent some more time developing the bow’s ribbon. It's a bit awkward in the execution. Whatever!

It sure will be fun to give this one to the new Mum. The family shower's today. It's been a long time since I got to hold a baby.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Voyage

This is the end of the journey through 108 different colours of Kona cotton, and marks the beginning of a different one through grey.

There’s something spaceship-like about the design of the block that fits in well with its name. I see fins or stabilizers, whatever you want to call them. For a change,  the blocks are actually finished well on time, instead of at the last minute.

And here they all are. I love them.

Thank you Myra of Busy Hands Quilts for hosting the Gravity Quilt-Along.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Eclipse

Wow. I am late in posting blocks again and the middle of August is almost here. Time seems to be accelerating. The new sewing machine took away the reluctance to start this pair of blocks. Hand-stitching those pieces, cutting the result to size, followed by re-stitching so the pieces won’t fall appart? Somehow that just wasn’t appealing. The rest of the stitching for the blocks was completed by hand. The blue one - not pressed.

These are my favourite. I love absolutely them, and the block arrangement seems to shimmer with swirliness. Which, of course, goes along with the astronomical swirl of planets around the stars and the effect of, you guessed it, gravity.

Thank you Myra of Busy Hands Quilts for hosting the Gravity Quilt-along.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

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.