Sunday, February 19, 2012

Swoon Weekend End

20120219-P1180948.jpg So finally the weekend is over and I managed to get a second block done by the skin of my teeth. I made two pretty stupid mistakes as I wasn't paying attention. I was so focused on trying to get my pattern to be the right way up that I just let other things slide.

20120219-P1180944.jpg Mistake 1. I forgot to cut 4 big squares and only cut 3! So I had to revert to the original pattern in order to get the last block. How stupid! Of course, it's doubly worse because I did it twice as I was cutting two materials at once! It's not perfect, but at least I had something left over to make it with.

20120219-P1180945.jpg Mistake 2. I stupidly mistook 4 of the smaller squares for larger ones and made them into half square triangles. So they were useless and I only had scraps left. I managed to cobble together the missing blocks and I don't think they look too bad. I would have just ordered more fabric but it takes two weeks to get from the US to the UK which I just couldn't bear. It's all a learning curve in the end.

20120219-P1180943.jpg I did manage to do the seams right this time and it made a big difference. It takes longer though.

Sunday Swoon

So this morning I put a new blade in my cutter as yesterday I cut myself twice by pressing too hard and slipping. There is nothing quite so satisfying as a new blade.

20120219-P1180904.jpg I decided to double the fabric when cutting this time. I just made sure the salve edges lined up then cut from there. It seems to have worked well.

20120219-P1180905.jpg I chose the colours for my first block by looking at the pattern diagram, material A is in blue and material B in grey, so I just thought it would make life easier following those colours. So today is different as my colours are different. We have red spots and grey stripes, then peachy pattern and peachy stripes. All are fabrics from the suggested range. I decided to use colour coded dot stickers to mark out the two fabrics as I think it can get tricky later on if not.

20120219-P1180909.jpg So now I have everything cut for two blocks in the time it would have taken to cut one. Not bad. But it's now time to do all the things I have been putting off all weekend so I might not get any more done today. At least it's all there waiting for me. More later if I get back to it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Swoon Block One

20120218-P1180900.jpg Putting all the units together took longer than expected. I thought I was managing the seams really well but when I got to the last three big strips to sew together I realised that it was unavoidable. I think for the next block I will iron them down the middle as suggested. 20120218-P1180901.jpg Here it is! The finished block. I am STILL not sure about it, but I will make more and see what happens. IT has taken me the whole day though. I must be really slow! Hopefully tomorrow's block might be a bit quicker.

Swoon Saturday Progress

20120218-P1180897.jpg So it's chill out time. Here is today's progress so far. Above is the setup. On the right is the programmer, silently tapping away, on the left is the sewing machine; my domain.

20120218-P1180889.jpg I didn't use templates in the end, I just used my rulers. It was pretty straightforward.

20120218-P1180891.jpg I decided to cut 4 big squares instead of rectangles to save on space. You can see from the bits at the side how much I had left over.

20120218-P1180893.jpg I chain pieced everything together then ironed it flat.

20120218-P1180895.jpg I cut my half square triangle pieces a little bigger to start with so I had a bit of trim. So they were 4" instead of 3 7/8. Then I trimmed them down to exact size using the diagonal as a guide. I am hoping this extra time gives me good points. I am rubbish at points, just rubbish. Now I am ready to sew these units together now I have been to the shops to get my roast dinner ingredients for tomorrow, had lunch and had a little chill out on the sofa. Here we go again!

Starting the Swoon Quilt

So I am having a break from the world of postage stamp blocks. I have put them all away for a rest now I am half way through so I can come back refreshed and do 40 more. Instead it is high time Rachel and I fulfilled our promise to make a quilt at the same time. We have chosen the Swoon quilt by Camille Roskelley. So today we are both beginning. It's a shame we can't do it together side by side, but such is life, so instead I thought I would chart my progress listing exactly what I do so Ray can compare. I am not the world's best or most accurate quilter though, so this is no guide. This is just my process.

Materials Step 1. Choosing material last week
I've been buying fabric for this since Chillford. At Chilford we thought we had about enough, but actually we hadn't so I spent some time rustling through my stack and buying bits to bump it up. In the end I bought some of the actual fabric Camille suggests for it as it looks so lovely in the picture. If course when I got it, I realised it didn't match the much more sombre colours I already had, so now I just can't choose which ones to use! It's almost like I am split between two totally separate colour ranges. I'd really like to use some plain taupe colours but I have never done this before and am afraid they will look like sick. I have seen other people use them in beautiful ways though and I would really like to be one of those people!

Neutral colours 1. Binding, 2. Slow, 3. { quilted + bound }, 4. Handstitched Circles, 5. Falling Starburst - A Little Sneak Peek, 6. Giant Neutral Plus Quilt, 7. Pillow Talk Swap 6, Finished, 8. MMM Swap, 9. Pink Strip Quilt

Anyway I have had these out all week, examining hem every time I walk past them, hoping for a flash of decision. I haven't seemed to come to any, so I am just going to plough onwards and see what comes out.

Washing Fabric

Step 2. Washing material last night
I washed the fabric in preparation. My mum is a proper quilter. She is amazing. She has been making quilts for years and has all the skills. She tells me I must wash my fabric, so I do. Some of her on the friends don't. It seems to be a matter of opinion. I do hate the time it takes to wash fabric, but I also enjoy washing quilts when they are done to give them that old, scrunched up feel. I would hate one fabric to shrink more than another and ruin all my hard work, so I diligently wash all my fabric before I use it. Sometimes I just wet it in the sink with a dash of detergent, but mostly I use this delicates bag from Lakeland as it helped prevent fraying. I also just put the folded fabric straight in the bag. My mum unfolds hers, but I find it protects my edges more. I have had some disastrous fraying incidents where I have lost loads of my edges to manic fraying, so this is learned from bitter experience. I don't use loads of detergent because you don't need it, just a dollop of Woolite as it's the only liquid form I have, then in the machine on the delicate wool wash 30°. I have a quick wash setting but it leaves detergent in, so wool wash is better, plus I want it to be damp when it comes out so it's easier to iron creases out.


Step 3. Starching the fabric this morning
I use starch a lot. I don't think you have to, but the smaller the units of fabric are and the more you are cutting diagonally on the bias, the more you need it. I did a 60° quilt and it was just impossible without it. Applique is also much easier with spray starch, but everyone is different. But not all spray starch is the same. Top left is Lakelands eco spray starch. It's pretty rubbish, the spray is not very fine and it leaves visible blotches but I will use it all up and reassess it then. In the red canister is Dylon spray starch. Out of everything there, it's the best, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there are stronger ones out there designed for quilters. The blue one next to it from Amazon is pretty weak. Once I use it up I won't buy it again. The black bottle is starch you put in the wash. To be honest I haven't noticed much of a difference but I need to use it all up and reassess. I keep forgetting to put it in the machine. What I will say about spray starch is that it can leave burn marks if you make your fabric too wet with it and iron it straight away. I left it soak in for 20 seconds after spraying then I iron the side I didn't spray. If it's not enough then I reapply more starch and give it another go rather than dousing it the first time.

Washed, Starched and Ironed

Step 4. Washed, Starched and Ironed and ready to start
Ready to have salve edges cut, and another spray starch and iron if they are too flimsy when i come to use them. This is my pile of blues I am not sure about and neutral solids I am experimenting with. It's time to decide! Block one ready to start. Here we go!