Monday, December 15, 2008

More of those T's

Here are the last of the braid quilts. When photographing them a friend commented that she didn't like the bright yellows in the braids, and she said they seemed to jump out. I don't think that is the whole problem. I think the yellows are too close in value to the muslin background and they disrupt the design, leaving a "hole" in it. I think your eye goes there because it is drawn to the disrupted part of the design.

I stitched up all the old leftovers of trapezoids that were facing one direction into picket fence blocks.
I have tried to use the yellows in the center section of the blocks so that I won't have the same problem with this quilt design.

Part of my purpose for starting this blog was to share some of the tools and tips that help me in my scrap work. There was a real challenge in squaring up these blocks. They should be 6-1/2-inches, but I had to square up to 6-1/4-inch. When working with a block that is divided as this one is, cutting off the outside can lead to elements not matching up when stitching the blocks together. I was fortunate that the center section was just a bit smaller, too, so I used a square-up ruler which I remarked with a red permanent pen. I marked where the center secition of the block needed to be, and used the diagonal line on the ruler to position the ruler on the diagonal of the center of the block. To square up the second side of the block the block was turned and not the ruler. I marked where the new outside line would be so that I was not having to hunt for it when cutting the second sides of the block.

My messy pile of blocks has grown in the past few weeks until after stitching all one night (SADD dysfunction) I decided I had enough of these blocks.

After they were all pressed and squared up I counted them--245-and here's the kicker--just enough to make 5 quilt tops with no leftovers!
I'm stitching the blocks into pairs, then foursies, then into sets of 3 x 4 quilt tops. Meanwhile, back at the machine...

I took a class from a noted national teacher who had designed a set of rulers that worked together to cut very wide strips. When students asked her if she wouldn't put out a shorter 12-inch ruler she touted that she would not as her rulers were not designed to "work that way." She later did produce this very ruler, and I have used it a great deal in my work. Rulers may be designed for one purpose, but should not be so limited as this instructor saw them. I often use rulers designed for one purpose to meet another need.

I have had to cut more trapezoids as my color selection was getting too thin and needed to add some more so that what I had cut was able to be used. I chose to use this EZ International ruler made to cut diamonds to make my diagonal cuts easily. I used freezer paper taped to the ruler so that the ruler could be aligned with the strips that I cut. The ruler was rotated for angle and straight cuts along the strip.
Permanent pen marks are easily removed with rubbing alcohol, and paper pieces can be removed easily. There are many useful tapes available for marking, but I find they move too easily when many repeated cuts are required and often do not show up as well as my eyesight requires.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trapezoid Fever

In 2001 the quilt market was flooded with tin cans packaged with 2-1/2-inch strips of fabric called "worms" as a result of Debbie Caffray's book "Open a Can of Worms" featuring scrap look designs using these strips. Today it's "Jelly Rolls", but the idea is the same.

Our quilt group had a year-long exchange of "worms" where we had a planned theme of prints or colors for each month's exchange. After a year of collection, we each had plenty of fabrics, so we started to use one of the quilts in the worm book each month for our community service project and at the same time learn the techniques for each design.

My records show that in March of 2002 I presented the "Friendship Braid" pattern. After completing one top I set aside the pieces I cut until I uncovered the stash last month. OH MY! I had a huge shoebox full of cut pieces, both of prints and muslin for background, and a large pile of strips sewn together. Since our monthly quilt group challenge was trapezoids, I decided to accept the personal challenge and use up my stash of cut pieces.

I discovered that I needed to piece a few more strips to have enough for three quilt tops, so piece I did. I really did not enjoy the joining of the strips or adding sashing as all of the outside edges of the strips were on the bias. I have decided that I will work with the "Picket Fence" design that I started before the pieces were put away years ago. I must have tired of the braids and the bias edge even then.

I have completed three braid tops now, and they are ready for quilting. I think I really must stop piecing and quilt! The first top I made six years ago is not quilted, either. Although I am not done with trapezoids, I am DONE with this pattern for braids.
I had torn yards of stripe fabric that had been donated to our group into strips of various widths due to the type of print, so had plenty of fabric to set all of the quilts. In fact, I'll have to come up with something else to use all of these strips up! But all those strings from the torn edges! My sewing area is a mess with dog ears and strings. I'll think hard before sewing hundreds of trapezoids and tearing yards of fabric again.

Trees Again

Here hang seven beautiful autumn tree quilts ready for quilting. As I reported in an earlier post, our group has been working with a new technique each month, and trapezoids were the challenge for October . I designed the block and wrote the instructions to go with the pattern and then started to cut for a sample quilt. Did I write "a" sample quilt?
The trouble is, when you get out a piece of fabric, cut out a few pieces, fold it up and put it back, the whole process has to be repeated over and over until that piece of fabric is used up. That is a huge waste of time, especially when you are wanting to use up the scraps and get nice quilts done at the same time. So, the result is the seven quilts you see here, an 8th new one now hanging, and a 9th on the way because some blocks were left over or squared up too small. The blocks are cut and will be stitched soon.
A photo of a tree in my front yard shows that the traditional "pine tree" shape works to represent the autumn theme by use of other colors, even though a shape that represents another type of tree was used in the quilts. It's amazing to see all the qhilts hanging in one row and view all the colors and fabrics used that one would not think of as representing "trees."

You will notice that not all of the trees are alike. When I started to run out of a fabric so that I did not have enough for four tiers of trapezoids, I just cut a wider top and loger trunk. The ladies in the quilt group did not notice that right away, and it was quite a surprise when they discovered the changes. They were subtle, but provide more interest in the quilt top.
I stitched up about 130 of the tree blocks during the month, and I amazed myself with what I got done. I should almost be a master at trapezoids now, but I'm not. I need to get out that "point trimmer" from my notions box to inprove accuracy.
I used donated quilt room fabrics and stash to make the tops--and it did not seem to dimish the pile at all. Why is that?