Friday, March 27, 2015

Five shades of grape

We have been, and will be, living between for a while. I feel a little like a secret agent, I can't tell you where I am! I've been splitting my time between Green Bay and Saginaw, but the last thing I want to do is spell out that either place is empty and open for nefarious shopping.

I can tell you that I love Green Bay! They have five, FIVE, quilt shops. FIVE! Each one has a different style and inventory. Being the supportive shopper that I am, I managed to find something wonderful to bring home with me at each shop.

My first quilting mission in GB was to find better purples for my Fine Romance quilt. It seems that I always want the color that isn't on the shelf, the color between the colors there. For this quilt, I wanted a purple that was the color of grape jelly, a rich purple that is not quite magenta, but definitely not a bluey periwinkle. No surprise that it was such a challenge to find. But with all these quilt shops available, I finally managed to find my five shades of grape.

One of my favorite part of designing quilts is figuring out how to use my fabric the most efficiently I can. Being that I consider myself an appliquist first, a piecer second, leaving the largest scraps possible gives me more applique opportunities.

Since we need so little of our fabrics for the pieced blocks I first cut the square for the quarter-square triangles from the end opposite the selvage, which left just enough to cut the strip for our smaller squares.

(I have no idea why these pictures are coming up rotated. A painfully slow internet connection might have something to do with it.)

I just love it when strip cutting ends up with so little waste. The fabric is doubled over in this picture, giving me the four squares that I needed for my hourglass block.

Moving is such an emotional roller coaster. We are excited to start a new chapter, and having tons of fun looking for just the right place to enjoy life as empty nesters. Selling a house is a lot like going to prom without a date. We are helpless wallflowers as we wait for someone else to love the home we've loved for so many years.

My new favorite saying:
They say that God never gives you more than you can handle. God must think I'm a badass.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Fast Four-Patches

Some call it chain piecing, but I learned it as "assembly-line sewing" from my hero, Eleanor Burns, way back in the dark ages when rotary cutting was new. Quilters often believe that the big benefit from the process is to save on thread, but that is really just a nice side bonus.

I really do practice what I preach when it comes to staying organized. Just as the pattern indicates, I sort my pieces into zip top bags as I cut them.

I hate, hate, hate looking for things, and the more I fumble around looking for the right piece the more the chances improve that I will settle on the wrong one. Sorting the pieces so that I have only the shapes I need for the next step makes it harder to make a mistake.

(My hubby, a mechanical engineer who really does know how to do everything, suggests that "idiot proof" is impossible. The best we can hope for is "idiot resistance".)

Before I start, I set out the parts in the configuration in which they will be sewn. If it's hard to tell right from wrong side on a fabric, I take the time to flip them all right sides up in each of their stacks.

Now, all I have to pay attention to is the quality of my seam allowance. The top pair is sewn together, then the bottom pair, then the top pair and then the bottom pair, all the way to the bottom of the stacks.

My goal is always to have just a single stitch in the air between the pairs. When it comes time to sew the cross seam, the thread will act as my pin, holding the first seam in just the right place for that perfect intersection.

I'll be back in a couple of days with pressing strategies and more sneaky piecing tricks for sewing on the triangles.

In the mean time, I'm working on setting up a Pinterest board, and a linky thingie so we can share our progress. I hope you're working away out there, are you? Once we get these sashing strips out of the way, it's all fun and games.