Saturday, June 29, 2013


For the record....I am not incapable of following directions.

It's that I'm cheap and lazy.
And often think of a faster way that needs less fabric or steps.

This morning I was looking at the compass circle and realized that the ring was about an inch wide.

I went to the bin of bias cut strips (yes, I have one, don't judge) and found these left over green strips from when I was making the stems on the Heart's Desire applique that's on my header.

I decided to hand stitch it on since I feel like I have more control than when I'm at the machine.  There's no reason not to do this with a machine if you take your time and use the needle down to keep the outer edges consistent and even.

Before long I had it attached, leaving the ends loose.

Hot iron and spray starch.


I'll stitch the ends down when I'm sewing the circle onto the background.  

After the next round of instructions, I'll decide if I want to add the center circle and the bitty dots.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Love Entwined

Well, I've done it again.  Started yet another complex project before finishing one of 20 others that I started. This one is Esther Alliu's Love Entwined.  It is based on a  "1790 Marriage Coverlet" that includes a heavily appliqued 31" center surrounded by 7 borders.  I'm not sure that I can stand to applique the same 24 swags as we get to the outer borders but I am interested up to border 2 anyway.

The center is supposed to look like this.

 The Australian paper sizing didn't work right for my US printer, even after scaling adjustments.  I also had decided to foundation piece some wedges so my mental version of  sewing this part was a little different anyway.

I was able to cut 3 wedges from each page I had printed by adding a seam allowances. (You can click on the picture to enlarge and get a better look).
I made a pattern piece like "Diagram 4" for the next smaller point. I will need to cut 4 of them out of fabric (no pattern or foundation attached).
 I went through the batik stash and picked these.
In retrospect, I wish I would have tried some of the pastels that I recently bought in place of the blue.
I numbered the piecing order (though I changed my mind part way through and did 1,2,3 on one side then 4/5 on the other) then lined up the left edge with the fabric edge.

I used a long quilting pin along the stitching line so it was easier to line up the next piece of fabric.
 Fabric right sides together. .  Here I've pulled back the 1/4" seam allowance so you can see that the pin is helping with alignment.

I also used the trick of holding the whole thing up to the light  so I could see that the fabric was lined up with the stitching line, but that doesn't photograph well.

 At first I was pinning that fabric down but as I got more comfortable, just held it in place while I flipped it back to the paper side.

 Follow the line for stitching.

 Cut away fabric to 1/4" from the stitching line.
 Finger press flat.
Repeat with other fabrics working outward.
Press well.  Trim to size and shape of the paper template.
 At the 8 wedge mark I was feeling pretty smug.
 I used the rotary cutter to make all the pink wedges, then sewed them to the paper backed wedges.
 I followed the lines on the paper side to make sure everything was precise.
 Still feeling pretty clever at this point, even though I realize this next step will end up with Y junctions.
 Making the 1/2 circle .... still going well.
 Being careful to only sew up to 1/4" from the end.
 Starting the victory dance
 But then there was that little bit about the final center seams.

They were resewn multiple times.

Maybe it would have gone better without the Heineken.

I'm guessing I've found the answer as to why the original had a circle motif appliqued on.  To hide the mess in the middle.

But with enough re-sewing and a bunch of spray starch, it's a reasonably impressive, detailed pieced star.  I may skip that center circle as I like it this way.  I can always add it later.

Then it's just a matter of removing the paper from the back.  The whole thing, from making the pattern to removing the paper when finished took one evening.

I won't be adding to the Yahoo Group page for this project.  I really disliked the format of that chat when I was working on Hearts Desire.  I spent a couple days recently trying to get involved in conversations and have concluded that I hate it even more now than I did then.   However, I know that several of my blog followers are moderators and/or participants in the group.  Feel free to mention, link, or even repost pics from this post if it applies.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lots o' Phlox

I'm finished with the phlox flowers that surround the pica.  They are a bit different than I'd imagined them, but as close as I could get using a single piece of fabric rather than separate petals.  I'm moving on to the Lupine flowers next.  I'm opting for shades of purple from the batik stash rather than the dark blue/purple of the native flowers I'm reproducing.

For those of you here from Esther's WOW, this block is a commemorative block of things that happened in 1991.  The end quilt will be 20-25 blocks to represent each year I've been married (this August is our 23rd anniversary and I started planning in preparation for our 20th.  Ooops)  The style I'm going for is a cross between Baltimore Album and Civil War Bride.

You can read more about this idea, see pictures of real pica, and watch the process unfold by clicking through the previous few posts.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pica & Phlox

It is a little bit wrong how much I am in love with this pica.

My original plan had what is now his right cheek as the chin, and there was another bit to be added as a cheek. But there was some natural shading in the face bit that required a relocation of the eyeball.   I added some shading a black permanent marker.

For those of you who don't live where pica do, they really look like this:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


As I was using needle turn applique to make this flower stem and leaves, I had a Taylor Swift moment.  When it comes to PIECING a quilt...

But ooh, this time I'm telling you, I'm telling you

We are never ever ever getting back together,
We are never ever ever getting back together,
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together

Like, ever...

I have not spent any time the past few months doing applique as I was trying to finish up a stack of UFOs.  For the first time in months I have enjoyed and looked forward to working on a quilt project.
I may have to set a deadline then let go of some other projects so I can get back to applique.

 By the way...don't forget that Google Reader goes away at the end of the month.  I have been using Bloglovin' for a while and today added the link to my sidebar.  Looks like only half of you are set up to follow using the new on that link if you're interested in continuing to follow this blog.   I plan to do a lot of applique.  Enough FMQ to get quilts ready to give.  A bunch of clothing to use up the stash.  And a little piecing....just as much as is absolutely necessary.

Monday, June 17, 2013

1991 block

I was planning to spend the day sewing a dress for myself.  Instead I helped daughter to figure out how to make shorts.  Of course, she wants the "waist band" to be 5.5" below her waist line.  Her older sister went through this phase.  Of course, I couldn't find that pattern.  But I did remember the experience so I just drafted something on tissue paper, cut it out with some icky double knit fabric then made all the adjustments to create a new pattern.

I decided to reward my good deed with some quilting.

I made some flying geese using the tutorial at this link.  I liked the technique and the math... but mine didn't come out with perfect points.

I decided that since I would be trimming the final block down to size after the applique was done, I didn't do the flying geese all the way down the side...that will give me some wiggle room.

I prepped the block for back basting applique by tracing the reverse version of the picture on the back side of my block with pencil using a "light box" (aka dining room window).

There's a tutorial on this technique on the top right bar on this blog if you aren't familiar with how to do it.

It took some digging around to get fabrics that I'm happy with.  The pica fabric was hardest, but did find something suitable (in the sea-shell applique box in case you were wondering.)  There's some good variety of purples in the 5" batik friendship square stash.   I have a big stack of green batik fat quarters that I bought with a leaf themed quilt in mind.  I can probably spare a few of them.  Hot pinks are neutrals in my stash, so the hardest part of the pick was how dark or light to go.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Applique Planning

Summer is not really "quilting" season for me. But I am feeling badly for my applique fans.  And I have to admit, that I'm getting pretty testy not having a hand project to work on if there's something interesting on TV.   So I put my next clothing project on hold for the night to get an applique project rolling.  This is one that's been in my head and in various permutations for years.

This is as far as I got for my Baltimore Album style National Park blocks.  This is my block for Grand Teton National Park.  I love the way the wild geraniums, Arrow Leaf Balsam Root and Indian Paintbrush turned out.  I stalled out on the lupines however (need to re-do the leaves and the blossoms were just silly in detail) and it's been ignored ever since.

I've gathered tons of reference material.

 I should note here that I think it is my personal responsibility to keep National Park Book Shops in business.  

(And you thought my fabric stash was bad....)

All stuffed into a project box labeled "National Park Applique" with little bits of great prints for flowers and leaves.

So you're familiar with the Civil War Bride quilts? The minute that I saw it, I knew that I needed to make one of these rather than a Baltimore Album.  I love the rectangles.  I love the pictoral view.  But I needed these to have personal relevance.

I have pages and pages of notes with ideas.

I decided that instead of a "bride" quilt, perhaps I should do an anniversary quilt.  So I started the planning, outlining key events of each year that we've been married.  Of course, the idea started around our 20th anniversary....I may have to expand to 24 or 25 squares.

Which leads me to what I did this evening.
The 1991 block.

The pica and phlox in the lower right represent the Mount Moran climb with Blair and Fred.  While I was waiting my turn, I was sitting on a ledge, hanging out with a very cute pica who was munching on hot pink phlox flowers and looking at me with a "WTF is this on my patio?" kind of expression.

The line at the 3" mark on the left side represents where the row of flying geese (blue geese on background) will be to represent the backpack trip in the Wind Rivers (WY) where the Blue Goose (the name of our friend's camping van) got forced off the causeway into the marsh (Goose on the Pond).

And there's lupine.  Because lupine are cool.  And grow everywhere we were in 1991.

I am feeling very optimistic about this project.  This sketch came together very quickly.  Perhaps because I've been unsuccessfully drawing lupines for years?   My biggest challenge will be finding fantastic fabrics for pica fur.   Hmmm, come to think of it, I may have some in my Seashell Applique Stash.

Oh no.  I've just made a strategic error.  Sarah Liz is already shocked at my fabric stash.  I didn't even admit to anything that is quilt related rather than clothing related.   But FOR THE RECORD, my quilt fabric stash while far, far more diverse than my clothing fabric stash, is considerably smaller.  But only because 5" of fabric for applique (x 200 fabrics) is kind of reasonable.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

ZigZag Dress

I am finally finished with the McCall 6433 dress.  It is not without it's problems.

The area on dresses that frequently don't fit me right is the upper bodice, so I took extra care to follow the fitting directions on the pattern which suggested that no adjustments were needed.

I debated changing the neckline.  But I thought that I could get away with a slightly plunging neckline since the maxi length would keep everything else looking very modest.

Problem #1: Error in neckline judgement: believing it would look like the pictures.

I had planned to make the dress with the sheer knit fabric that I bought last year in Portland at Fabric Depot and use a tank dress as a slip.  As I read the directions, I decided it would be easier to line it as was the pattern plan for the bodice.

I auditioned several fabrics from the stash and this navy piece of cotton knit that I got at a thrift store won.

Problem #2: In retrospect, a thinner fabric would have been better.  This was a lovely, thick t-shirt knit that added a lot of bulk on the upper body pleats.

I also added a skirt lining, but only to knee length so the bottom 19" is sheer.  I am still happy with this decision.

Problem #3: When I was laying out the fabric, I realized that the zig-zags went the length of the fabric instead of selvage to selvage.  So I have a piece of fabric 60" x 77" with the length the wrong direction of the fabric design.  By flipping the bodice sections upside down and compromising some on length, I was able to get it cut out.  

I got the dress finished today, tried it on, and found several issues.

Problem #4.  The fabric pulls away from the zipper.  I may be able to press this issue away.  Alternatively, I do have long hair... That should cover the problem.

Problem #5: When I tried it on, one of the sleeves was all weird.

I tried to ignore it, but it was dramatically different from the other one.

I discovered that when I surged the sleeve on, I'd managed to get a tuck of the lining fabric into the seam.   Ugh.  I hate to admit this, but I already fixed this problem once.  Somehow I managed another tuck.

My solution:  Hand darning of the lining fabric.  (Point of clarification: I mean "darn" the verb, not "Darn!" the expletive.  I was saying many other colorful words at this point.)

Problem #6:  lining shows.  I think this is likely related to the fact that the blue knit has a lot more stretch than the zig fabric.

My solution:  Hand-stitching the lining into place about 1 cm from the edge where the lining was drifting.

Why by hand?

Because it is completely invisible on the front.

Lining problem solved!

However, now we can see that there is some serious cleavage going on.  (Do I get to count this as problem # 7 since this is where I discover the degree of the issue, or is this still problem #1?)

Don't get me wrong.  I am happy to show off the girls.  I was a flat-chested teen and always wanted to have a rack.  And gaining 30 pounds is way cheaper than buying a set.

However, this is a bit much for the office.

Final fix?

A Boobie Dickey.

Tee Hee Hee!
Oh...I crack myself up.

I imagined this with snaps, but couldn't find a sew-in snap in my stash.  (I'm sure I have them, but they are hiding).

I settled for velcro.  Strips of fuzzy side on the inside of the dress, and hookie end on the dickey.  I actually need to add another dot on each side to help it to lay flatter.

Stash used:
* 1 5/8 yard zig-zag knit (only 1 year old!)
* 1.5 yard navy knit - less than 2 years in my stash, but from a thrift store so likely in another stash for years before that.
* 22" zipper - price tag of $0.75  probably from the 3 bags of zippers that I bought for a couple bucks at Salvation Army in the 1990's.
* velcro
* thread

This is my second completion for both Style the Stash and  Sew Your Wardrobe for a Year