The Ikea Effect??

Recently I heard a great interview on NPR and have thought a lot about it in relation to quilting–or at least in relation to my own quilting. It’s funny sometimes how I’m not sure whether two fabrics go together or whether a quilt layout really works, but by the time I’m finished I really like it.

Which brings me to the discussion of one of my weekend projects. I started out with some crumb blocks that Sherry had made and made more blocks to go with them using Elizabeth Hartmann’s improvisational piecing method. That requires a lot of rotary cutting and is too much like work. So, I started thinking about how I could do the same thing using my AccuQuilt GO cutter. That led me to think about how Sharon Schamber does piecelique, and I was on my way. I already had a block drawn in EQ7 that would work–an angled log cabin made in the same manner as the improv piecing. So, I cut strips with my AccuQuilt strip die and made some shortcuts to Sharon’s method and had a lot of fun making the blocks. I love gluing the strips together and then stitching them after the whole block has been assembled.

The plan was to use my Patience Corners quilt layout which puts sashing on two sides and turns the blocks in alternating directions. My daughter has asked for a new tablecloth quilt for her kitchen table (where the children eat a lot of their meals) because she doesn’t want to wear out the one she is using now. The current one is made from bright batiks in the Bento Box pattern. So, rather than using white sashing, I decided on a silver batik that would not show stains.

With all that said, here’s a picture of four blocks pinned to the design board. Not sure whether I like this or not. Since I’m spending time with grandchildren this week, I won’t look at this again until next weekend, so that will give me time to decide whether I like it or not.

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August must be for very busy bees

It’s hard to catch my breath there is so much going on so far this month. Last Saturday we went to a housewarming/birthday party for a dear friend. I made a quick gift of a table topper. This is what it looked like when it was finished. I say “quick” gift because I have a stash of log cabin blocks that I have made using Elmer’s glue and Sharon Schamber’s technique while watching old movies in the evening. Then, when I need a gift, I can just whip out some blocks and stitch them together. Some of the blocks are hand pieced and some I use to “sew off” from other blocks. Here’s the table topper I made for Tim and Anna:

Table Topper for Tim and Anna 7-31-2010

And, I’m working on one for a wedding gift for the wedding I am going to today. I added some stars to this one. I think I’m going to like it. I’m going to do a little more custom quilting on this one.

Table Topper - not yet quilted - for Clarence and Sinead

I have to deliver some comfort quilts this morning – too busy to actually go to the retreat – but I have photos and will post them this coming week.

Ezri has to go back to CHW this week for checkups and to talk about whether she will have gamma knife done on the last remnants of her tumor. I am going to go for the Friday appointments, so this coming week will be busy too.

Cheers! 
 

Friday odds and ends

Just a few odds and ends. I made a comfort / charity quilt this week. This fabric was incredibly bright so I asked my friend Wanda what to do. She suggested putting white with it. I decided it was too bright for strips, so I cut it into 6 1/2″ half square triangles with my Accuquilt GO die. The triangles sewed into absolutely perfect pinwheels. I have never had such perfect centers on pinwheels in my quilting life. Then I didn’t know what to do with it for sashing, but decided on the darker red (with advice from Wanda and Sherry). So here’s the top, not quilted, but it will be soon. It is very bright.

I also finished a couple more animals–and I love them. This is so much fun. Here’s an elephant and a squirrel. It’s funny how digital photography changes how we see things. When I was working on the squirrel, I did not even realize how “brown/yellow” some of those fabrics were. It was not until I saw the photo that I could see it in the block. Another thing that helps me ‘see’ colors is to turn the lights off and look at blocks in semi-darkness.

I’ve been in the pool – either laps or water aerobics every day this week. I’m sore and tired, but will go again this morning. After that I’m working on a table topper for my friends, Tim (who turns 30 today) and his wife, Anna for a birthday/house warming party on Saturday. I’ll take pictures when it’s finished. 
 

Screen Print Animals Construction Process

As I mentioned before, I used Sharon Schamber’s Piecelique technique for this. If you’re not familiar with it, it is a process of creating a foundation pattern and templates, then using liquid starch, a hot iron, and Elmer’s glue to ‘baste’ the block together before stitching. There are many videos out there by Sharon and even some on youtube that may be free to watch. If not, you can always go to her website and purchase an instructional DVD or book.

I started by sorting fabric according to the colors of the printed blocks. My goal was to find very similar colors that would not stand out on their own, but would be slightly lighter or darker and would enhance the color of the printed block. I also looked for fabric that might have a touch of yellow in it to bring out the outline in the printed block. This process required pulling out all my batiks and sorting them in another way. This is what it looked like:

Then I got busy creating a pattern. I used Electric Quilt in the beginning, and then I just used freezer paper and a ruler. The key here is to make two patterns which are mirror images of each other. One will be pressed to a second sheet of freezer paper and then cut into templates, the first will be used as the foundation pattern to stick the pieces onto with a hot iron while gluing the pieces together.

The next step is to press the freezer paper pattern to the fabric. I cut a very wide seam allowance around mine (> 1/2 inch) because they will be trimmed later. Part of the reason that I do that is because, unlike Sharon, I put my glue just past the 1/4 inch area so that I can cut the glue off after I stitch. It’s a little more complicated this way, but my longarm doesn’t like the glue and I don’t want to go through the process of soaking each block in cold water to dissolve the glue after it is finished.

You can see that I marked the edge that will be turned. I use a foam paint brush and spray starch to slightly moisten the edge that will be turned and then press it with a hot iron–important for your fingers not to use steam here.

And this is what the block looks like during the glue construction:

Once all the pieces are glued into place, the center is added. Note that for gluing, I work from the outside in. When I stitch, it is from the inside out. The center was glued in differently. I laid the animal down on the board, then placed the glued block on top of it and worked with it until it was in a pleasing arrangement. Then I folded each area of the block back and applied glue and pressed. Note that I had to be very careful all along not to press the animal because it is a t-shirt screen print and the ink will melt under a hot iron.

You can see a thin line of glue here – and on this one the glue line is within the 1/4 inch seam. I did that on the first one but changed it for all the rest. On the first one I did not use spray starch either, and you can see that the seam lines are not crisp before stitching. None of this affects the final result, but the spray starch and keeping the glue out of the seam allowance sure make life easier for me. It also goes to show that each must find their own way in terms of methods.

Then I started stitching. I set my machine to a 2.0 mm stitch so that the thread would not show. As I mentioned before, the stitching goes from the center out. The key is to stitch the first seam that has no other seams crossing it. Trim that seam and then stitch the next seam that either has no other seams crossing it or has the stitched seam crossing it. Here’s a picture if that explanation doesn’t make sense. You can see on the pattern that I examined it closely to make sure that I numbered the pieces and the seams so that I would get them in the right order when stitching. This is what the stitching looks like. You can see the seams are trimmed immediately after stitching.

And then once everything is stitched, it is a matter of trimming the block and giving it a final press.