Saturday, July 25, 2015

Floating Squares Improv Top Complete

I put nine Flying Square blocks together. You can see them; this is a nine-patch quilt. Not exactly what I wanted but a good first top. It's scrappy and fun.

Floating Squares quilt

The individual blocks are too apparent. Sherri Lynn mentions creating some long strips from blocks. I didn't pay attention until this was sewn together. Having some reserved squares from a block helps when a long strip is needed. They mask the seam line and increase the random effect of the tops. Next time I will actually save some from the start rather than scrounging for the one that didn't pair up.

See the long piece of light blue filler at the top left? Once I replaced it, the seam is less obvious.

Also, the blocks don't need to finish to any specific size. While mine aren't the same, I did actively work to use all of the two fabrics in one block. That means I used more filler to reach a square. Next time, I'll leave them as two or three small blocks if they don't easily make one large block.

This was the original ninth block. The stripe fabric and the small scraps add interest. The  arrangement of the squares and (minimal) filler is much improved. Why isn't it in the top? It was too quiet. So I replaced it.

Floating Squares block in green and yellow

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Floating Squares Begun

Four friends decided to study The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood over the next year. Having seen some of Sherri’s quilts, we were impressed with her skill and creativity. Once the book arrived we knew her ability to explain improvisational methods merited serious attention.

Reading through it (several times) is one thing; but actually following each score in order and meeting to discuss our results raises the bar to a much higher level.

I decided to make a lap quilt in order to try several ways of combining the fabrics. Fitting together blocks of different sizes was one of the most interesting skills to me.
All the fabric came from my stash but I chose to use leftovers (slightly smaller than a fat quarter) for the two squares.  Some fillers were larger pieces. I also made a rule that if/when the fabric ran out I could only pull from my scrap bag (not stash.) The smaller pieces would hopefully add some interest.

The blocks finished about 12-18 inches. In hindsight, I think their finished sizes are too uniform.

Here are some of the blocks:


The colors and contrast in this block are attractive but none of the small blue squares overlapped.  The green in the lower right was added to complete the block.


Both colors of squares overlapped much better in this block. You can see where I added different greens and browns when the originals ran out.


All three of these fabrics are leftovers from Propellers and Planes.  


See the triangular wedge of filler to get one section to fit? Including scrap bits is getting easier.


I was very pleased with the way both squares went together in this block.

Floating Squares with Marimekko fabric- detail

The filler is a Marimekko scrap so when I ran out of greens, I cut the dark green Marimekko square to add to this block.

By the end of this exercise, my freehand cutting is straighter and I can estimate the widths needed by eye much better.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 11, 2015

First Zig Zag Log Cabin Quilted

The first zigzag log cabin is quilted.

Dark blue, red, green purple, brown and black alternate with pastel and white fabrics to create the log cabin block.
Zig Zag Log Cabin
I used a bit of this fabric in the New York Beauties. (Do you see it near the top?) It's been in my stash for a while.

Back of Zigzag Log Cabin
Here's a detail view. The quilting mimics the zigzags and the spacing of the stitching adds interest. The light areas are quilted with yellow Gutermann cotton thread while the dark areas have navy thread.

Back of Zigzag Log Cabin, Detail
The front and back don't match each other but it was fun to use this cheerful print for a San Francisco Giants fan or just as a change of color. Hopefully the young recipient will like it.

Zigzag Log Cabin, folded
Quilt Details
Size: 44" x 44"
Pattern: Log Cabin, zigzag variation
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann cotton sewing thread in navy and gold
Quilting: Straight line with walking foot

I'm not much of a knitter but I bought the Hitchhiker shawlette pattern by Martina Behm. I wanted something to work on while travelling. The sawtooth border is such fun. Much more practice is required.

Hitchhiker pattern by Martina Behm 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 4, 2015

New York Beauty Still Progressing

The curved wedges of New York Beauty are finished. Just a few more blocks to sew together and then I can play with the arrangement easily.

New York Beauty blocks on point
When I started these blocks [years ago] I had a more limited palette of reds and greens. It only worked for the first few but I didn't want to expand to just any color. So it got put away.

Now the fabrics include blues and even some yellows and purples. I think it looks much better but perhaps it just looks more contemporary. Popular colors change over the years as well as the pattern printed on them. Many of my older fabrics have a mottled background - lighter and darker shades of whatever color they used. Current fabrics tend to have solid backgrounds. My older reds are almost neon while the newer ones are happier and more clear. (Can you call red "soft"?)

Most of the multicolored fabrics have colors of similar value. After much consideration, I added a light fabric printed with large white, pink and red roses. Very pretty but a strong value change within one small piece. Then I made a big mistake: I centered one of the roses in the middle of the template. Do you see it below?

New York Beauty with "centered" rose in the background.
Centering the entire rose is distracting; it's too overwhelming and obvious. Being the highest contrast, it really draws the eye away from the arcs. So I recut the piece. Here's my second attempt. Note to self: sometimes it is preferable to be asymmetrical.

New York Beauty with large multicolored rose fabric cut off center.
We flew to Philadelphia last month. Along with lots of baseball, we saw Betsy Ross' (alleged) house. From the second floor, here or in the house next door (which no longer exists) she and her first husband lived and ran an upholstery business. Betsy, a Quaker, was read out of meeting when she eloped with John Ross.

Betsy Ross house
She and John attended Christ Church where his father was assistant rector. For more than 50 years the steeple was the tallest structure in the United States. As such, it was used in maritime navigation.

Christ Church, Philadelphia
Their pew was adjacent to George Washington's and located on the same side as the wineglass pulpit, commissioned in 1769.

Wineglass pulpit, Christ Church, Philadelphia
We also visited the Free Franklin Post Office. Benjamin Franklin was our first postmaster and this post office cancels letters with a replica of his postmark, "B. Free Franklin." I loved the models of postal workers in uniforms over the years. There was more memorabilia in the museum upstairs.

Models of postal worker uniforms in the Free Franklin Post Office
Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans. Freedom and democracy are very precious.

Enjoy the day, Ann