Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nose To The Grindstone Finally Paying Off

Good news!  The Merrimac Dresden blocks are almost finished!

After working on the Crumb Houses last week, I went back to these Dresden blocks figuring I'd have the top done by the time this week's Tuesday Crumb Along rolled around and could return the focus to the houses.  But for some reason I was dragging, not speeding along on these.  Sunday my husband and sons went to the NY Comic Con and I thought I'd have a Quilt-A-Thon day to myself.

 Instead I only got a few blocks done to finish the third row (but did get a lot of rest otherwise).  I really want to get this top done now because in addition to the new Crumb project (and finishing the quilting on the old one), I have a Halloween quilt project that was supposed to have been started already!  Not wanting to add even more flip flopping between projects, I decided to focus on getting this one done before moving on (or back) to other projects.

The opening picture showed the four rows I have of the five to be done.  On the machine is one block towards the fifth row.  Funny thing about that:  After completing three rows on Sunday, I went to set up the last two rows of blocks.  I was running low on Dresden blades and needed to know if I needed to cut more.  For some reason at that point, I thought I was short one background.  And of course, I didn't have enough of that particular background fabric left to make a block.  I did have enough of another background but it had to be pieced together.  Then to have enough blades to fill all the blocks, I had to do some "Poverty Patching" of what was left of my blade fabrics.  When I was done I had this:

I worked on the blocks again and when I finished the fourth row yesterday and put the blocks up on the design wall, I found that I had an extra block!  I don't know how that happened and now the pieced block and blades may be going on the back as a label.

There is still a lot to do:  finish the last row of blocks, blanket stitch them to their backgrounds, sew circles over the centers of the plates, border each of the blocks, put the center of the top together and then piece the outer border.  O.k. just listing all that tells me this top is not so close to being finished after all.  But as Michele of the "Distracted Quilter" blog so perfectly expressed in a recent post (in both text and video), you have to keep taking steps (no matter how small) toward your goal if you want to reach it.  So I will put my focus on the process and not the end because I already know the answer to the question "Are We There Yet?"!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Continuing To Catch Up

The other week I was so pleased to get  the "Chronicles" Month Four blocks done and I am glad to report that Month Five is done too.  Once again, triangle sheets became HSTs....


 Then additional triangles had to be cut to finish the blocks.  I was little short on one of the fabrics so needed to make a few "poverty patches" to have enough of them.

And with those, I finished all sixteen corner blocks!

I finished them two Saturdays ago and just in time:  Month 9 arrived in the mail the same day.  Yes, I am still way behind but at least I'm also still moving up the ladder!

When they were finished, my plan was to take a short break from "Chronicles" to work on two other projects (like many I suffer from Quilter's ADD).  The first was that I started piecing some house blocks for Jo's Crumb Quilt Along.  What's been done to date was reported on here

The second was to clear the last "new start" on the table: I've gone back to work on my "Merrimac Dresdens" blocks.  This one is important to me for two reasons:  it is the third in the series of Civil War fabric quilts I've worked on this year and a Dresden Plate quilt is one of my "Bucket List" quilts.

Right now I've got one row done and hope to finish the remaining three rows by the end of the week and add the borders for a completed top this weekend.   Yes, I know the usual ambitions, but will it get done?  We'll see!  One things for sure:  as always there's alot going on in the city that never sleeps!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Crumbling More Houses!

Having finally got on board the Crumb Along, I was able to add another house block today to the ones I started making this weekend:

You can read about my plans for these and how I got them started in my last post

When Jo announced the Crumb along I hadn't realized was that she was planning to do tutorials for specific (liberated) block units made of crumbs (like flying geese and stars). Today's log cabin blocks go right along with what I am doing with my houses so I hope in the coming days to make a few of those as well as some of the other units too.  While these were not originally in my house quilt plans, I am now thinking about how I can use them as border or sashing blocks or fodder for the back or label.  If all else fails, they can become orphan units for another quilt.  We'll see what develops!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Crumbling Along!

Jo of Jo's Country Junction blog is hosting a Crumb Along that started in September and is running for thirteen weeks.  She finished a crumb quilt for her daughter back in July and a lot of people expressed interest in the process.  "Crumb blocks" are another scrap quilt concept promoted by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.  This quilt along is right up my alley for two reasons:  First of all, after all the sewing this spring and summer, I had this on my sewing table:

I knew that these would wind up as crumbs and as luck would have it an idea for a project had come along right as the pile was growing.  So I've turned mine into these:

*** Warning Long Post About Process Ahead ***

I had a couple of inspirations for this.  The first was from Victoria of the Bumble Beans Inc. blog.  She had a quilt exhibit from the end of April to the end of May which I managed to catch on the last day.  One of the quilts she displayed there was her famous "Kitchen Sink" quilt.  I love that quilt and seeing it up close and personal, I loved the house block made with "crumb fabric" (see it in the top center) and knew I wanted to do that one day.

I was further inspired by "The House That Kaffe Built" pattern by Kathryn Patterson that appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of McCall's Quilting.  The way the Kaffe Fassette fabrics displayed in the blocks reminded me of Victoria's block and I decided right then that I'd make the McCall's quilt but with "Crumb Fabric" (my Kaffe stash is already slated for other projects)!

After Jo announced intentions for the "Crumb Along", I started doing leader/ender pieces of crumbs while working on other projects with the plan to make a big piece of crumb "fabric" first and then cut the house parts from that.  But I found that to be too slow/unfocused for me.  Then recently, I was led from another blog to a blog post by Julia of the "Julia's Place" where she talked about piecing the Kaffe House block by paper piecing it and offered to send a paper-pieced pattern for the block to anyone requesting it in the comments.

While waiting to get her pattern, I thought about how I was going to do the piecing and thought I would need to take parts of the pattern apart in order to piece the crumbs to the foundation.  However, the same day there was a post on the "Sew We Quilt" blog (hosted by the famous Madame Samm) by guest host Elaine about paper piecing with freezer paper.  LIGHTBULB MOMENT!!  If I used Elaine's PP method, I could piece each crumb section until it was large enough to fit the part of the foundation I needed to cover, attach them to the solid pieces of the house AND I wouldn't even need to print more than one foundation block since with her method you don't sew ON the pattern (as you do in traditional paper piecing) but next to it.

But then a new issue arose:  I read Julia's post and it said her pattern made a 5-1/2" x 6" block and I wanted bigger blocks.  The first thought was to enlarge her pattern on the printer.  However, when I went to search for the link to her blog, lo and behold I found another foundation pattern offered by Quilters Newsletter Magazine that made a larger 10-1/2" (school) house block which is even bigger than the 8-1/2" finished size of the original McCall's pattern.

The first block took me much longer to do than I expected because contrary to what I remembered reading in Elaine's instructions, I found I had to pull back the freezer paper to sew on each adjoining piece (Warning:  Du'oh! moment ahead).  Re-reading the instructions, I realized that I had been doing it wrong: 
I was putting the “right side” of my “fabric” against the sticky side of the freezer paper which I had been doing in order for the finished block to face in the right direction per the foundation pattern. 

After re-reading Elaine’s instructions and (only then) remembering how I have done paper piecing in the past, I realized that I should have been putting the “wrong side” of my “fabric” to the sticky side.  However, when I went to do a second block, I realized a new problem -- doing so would mean that my house would face in the opposite direction (door on the right instead of the left) than in the pattern block.  Looking again at the QNM foundations I realized that the foundations for the chimney, front door and side house sections are symmetrical and so can be pieced correctly as is but it must be kept in mind that the pieces in the finished block, when oriented in the direction I wanted, will be in the flipped position from where they were pieced: (i.e. for the house front section, the #2 piece will be on “top” of the door not on the “bottom” as pieced; in the house side section, the #5 piece will be to the left of the house not to the right as pieced).  This is not a problem if you are making the blocks from one fabric like was done for the original quilt this was made for, but may be an issue if you are “creatively coloring” your house like I am.

What was still a problem was the roof section.  Pieced as printed, it would have still been backwards from the rest of the units.  The solution:  I was able to scan a printed copy of the roof foundation page into my printer and using the scanner software, “horizontally flip” the page and send it to my printer to print “backwards”.  Now when I put the pattern together and piece that section of the house it all goes well and as fast as expected.

My second reason for wanting to do this quilt along is that I am not new to crumb quilting.  At the end of last year, I had finished the top of my first crumb project called "Paisley Park is Full of Crumbs" (which you can read about here).  I had started the quilting of it for a 2010 Year End UFO challenge but didn't get it finished in time.  It was also on my PHD Challenge list at the start of 2011 but between moving and the new projects I started, continuing that work got pushed to the side.  So in the interest of getting another Crumb finish as well as a PHD finish completed, I will also be working on finishing the quilting of this project too.