Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dear Jane Block of the Week Challenge Complete - Jason's Jacks

Well, I'm not happy with my first efforts at reverse applique, but at least it's done. And let's all say together, "Finished is better than perfect!" And I'm now Susan-Jane 4,0,0,46 There are a number of things I will do differently next time (like take an applique class?) I would starch the green fabric for starters; also, I would use better thread. I'm using Madeira machine embroidery thread because it matched and I didn't get the chance to go to a fabric store. Sigh. I would also use a better, finer, non-chalky (read disappearing) marking pen and invest in some (Fray Check that isn't 15+ years old. I guess I was afraid that Fray Check would leave a dark mark on the green - has anyone had that problem?) I think I also need to review when and how to make the little cuts - they gave me lots of trouble. I love the look of applique and reverse too, of course; I just have to keep working at improving my technique and actually using the tips that I've been given instead of trying to "go it my own way" - that trick never works! In fact, "my way" managed to briefly sew my finger to the back of the block, no blood, but definitely stuck. Interesting.

Actually, all my problems are soon to be over. Yesterday I got my fingertip measured and finally ordered my Roxanne thimble. After I get the perfect thimble (Roxanne's, of course) all my silly applique problems will just disappear and I'll be able to hand quilt like the Amish. I have my eyes closed, my fingers crossed and I tapped my heels together three times so it MUST be true!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Brenda's Lecture at the Bear Creek Quilt Show

I finally got the pictures of Brenda's lecture at the Bear Creek Quilt Show in Fort Worth last month downloaded from my phone. (I had to buy a special card to download them.) This is where the whole Dear Jane adventure really began for me. I already had the software and the dream, but I didn't get inspired to actually start my first DJ block until I listened to Brenda. The quilts she showed us that day were awesome. Here she is with a beauty!

I also really liked the quilt made out of DJ triangles - I never would have thought of that!

Here are two more pictures, one of another lovely Dear Jane (or is it a Dear Hannah? Maybe someone could leave me a comment so I can say for sure.) and one, I think, of an antique quilt. (I'm sorry my pictures are fuzzy; my phone isn't the best camera.)
As you can tell, it was a really wonderful lecture and show! There was also a beautiful siggy quilt there that day that I really wish I had taken a picture of. It's the main reason I decided to join this year's siggie swap.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

2008 Dear Jane Siggie Swap

I'm getting ready for the big 2008 Dear Jane Siggie Swap. I've got 100 blocks cut out, but nothing stamped or sewn yet. The crazy ladies on the siggie Yahoo group are generating messages by the gross; I'm almost afraid to find out just how many siggies I'm going to be expected to make! My "official" guess is 182 and that might be low. Yikes! I think I have enough fabric for about 200 blocks and I could probably get some more if needed (I hope not!)
Going into a stamp shop for the first time was trippy; it was like stepping over to the dark side for the first time. I had only heard of these cults of stamping and scrap-booking; I had never actually seen them first hand. The stamp store lady was very helpful and directed me carefully to the stuff meant to mark permanently on fabric. I was very pleased with the two stamps I chose; I hope I don't destroy too much muslin before I learn to wield them with skill. It's nice to have a plan. I was really starting to stress out last week because I didn't have a plan!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dear Jane BOW Challenge Complete

OK, I'm now Susan-Jane 3,0,0,44. I completed the Dear Jane BOW challenge this morning. I did block E2 (Merry May) instead of K8. The DJ quilt I'm working on is only going to contain the 36 blocks of the upper left corner of the original (as well as the corresponding triangles), so every time a block is specified that's outside the range of my quilt, I'm making the equivalent block in my grid. K8 = E2 in my world. This was my first attempt at applique; I think it turned out fine. I was not comfortable with the idea of needle-turning and I really wanted to get it right the first time, so I pressed the melon seam allowances under, then basted them down. I then basted the melons onto the square and appliqued them one at a time. My square fabric was heavily starched from paper piecing and my applique fabric wasn't starched at all which is exactly backwards! I really need a thimble - much ouching!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Pat Tillman Challenge, 42 in 42

The Project Linus group I'm in is having a "make a blanket day" to make quilts for the Pat Tillman "42 in 42" challenge for the U.S.O. at DFW Airport in two weeks. We're all using the "Baby Fats" book by Susan Jackson & Susan Ziegler to make our quilts. "Baby Fats" makes 4 different quilts from 24 fat quarters. My friend, Virginia, and I are each going to make 2 of the quilts. Yesterday we went to JoAnne's in Fort Worth and had fun selecting the fat quarters for the quilts. You're supposed to pick 12 darks/mediums and 12 lights. We decided on a patriotic theme of red, blue and gold with white accents. Virginia quickly got all the fabrics washed and ironed and had them back to me by yesterday afternoon. As you can see, I've been cutting and cutting since then. Each fat quarter is supposed to generate 1-10.5"x10.5", 1-8.5"x8.5", 4-4.5"x4.5" and 8-2.5"x2.5". To get this this mythical amount, each fat quarter must have a minimum dimension of 17.5". Well, after prewashing and ironing, they were barely 17" wide! Only one of the purchased fat quarters was big enough. I had to cut carefully just to get 6 of the smallest blocks per fat quarter; the rest I had to cut out of backing fabric. One of the fat quarters was so short crossgrain that I couldn't get the 8.5" square out of it either. It was lots more work than I had anticipated, but I'm really pleased with how well the colors coordinate. I think all 4 quilts are going to look terrific!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My second Dear Jane Block - Paddle Wheels

I met the BOW challenge so I'm now officially Susan-Jane 2,0,0,33. This is block E-3 called Paddle Wheels. I really like how it turned out, (though my corners could have been more accurate). I didn't realize the blue fabric I picked would look so much like water; it's just a happy accident. One problem I encountered (though I decided not to worry about it) is that by following the Dear Jane software foundation pattern exactly, my inner paddle wheel colors are off. That is, on the inside square the blue should be where the orange is and vice versa. The paper pieces show how the block is supposed to look, but then the block is sewn to the back of the paper and the, well my DH called it "handedness", is then off. I checked, other directional blocks like A-1 would come out wrong too. It's just something to keep in mind for next time. I don't really care that my paddle is a bit fast or slow and is going clockwise instead of counterclockwise. People who are trying to make exact replicas of Jane's quilt are going to be pulling out their hair, though!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dear Jane - My Very First Block

Here it is! The block that made me Susan-Jane 1,0,0,13.

Project Linus EQ6 Quilt - Starry Starry Night

I'm making a quilt that I designed in EQ6 (which I love) for Project Linus. It is composed of 4 different star patterns (five blocks each), all in bright colors. The Ohio Star is the first one I worked on. I have 4 of the 5 blocks done. I'm paper piecing them; in fact, this is my first paper piecing endeavor. I love paper piecing and the accuracy that you can achieve, but putting the pieces together is not high on my list of fun things to do. There are so many different ways to mess up and I've tried them all! I have all five of the Variable Star blocks pieced, but I still have to put the pieces together. I'll post that one when I've got one all put together.

My dear Mother-in-law passed away very suddenly in October 2005, leaving a very small stash of fabric which I inherited. I created two Project Linus quilts out of this cheater cloth from the stash in her memory. I think her Mother, my husband's 96 year old Grandma, was pleased with the tribute.

Copied over from myquiltblog/SusanInTexas

I made this quilt out of all the leftovers from the quilt class I took in 1990 (finally finished that quilt in 2003). It was really hard in 2007 to find fabrics to match the 1980s colors; I had no idea fabric colors had shifted so much away from the dusty ranges of the 80s. The blue was the ONLY fabric in my LQS that coordinated well enough to use; though I had a few choices for the rose backing. I didn't buy quite enough of it though and had to improvise "ears" of color on the corners on the back. We decided to find it charming. I used all my leftover 2.5 inch squares to make the binding, which I think, really adds to the country flavor of the quilt. I definitely plan to use this binding idea again - it was very easy and fun to do.

Copied over from myquiltblog/SusanInTexas

My good friend, Kerri, made this quilt top for me back in 2003 right after we went on a quilt retreat together in Granbury, TX. I had grandiose plans of machine quilting "flying feathers" all over it, but I never got past marking up one small area. Last year we both got involved in Project Linus and I asked her if she would mind if I completed the quilt (in a simpler quilting style) and donate it from both of us. She thought that was a wonderful idea; and I think it turned out really well. I wish you could see the quilting more clearly (light colored quilts are so hard to photograph). I stippled the dots - I really love to stipple. The edges are simply graduated channels. The colored ladders got a triple balloon treatment that I eventually got a little better at, and the narrow bands got the big X treatment, which I will never do again. It was such a pain twisting the fabric 180 degrees every two inches. Yuck. I should have just stippled it!

Copied over from myquiltblog/SusanInTexas

I thought it would be fun and easy to make a quilt from a panel, but I got a bit carried away (or so I'm told) and it ended up being quite a bit more work than I anticipated. I was pleased with the results though, especially with the machine applique and embellishment. The yellow and blue stripes are repeated on the top of the quilt too, complete with three more sets of checkered flags. I cut the flag pattern out of cardboard, then used the leftover cardboard as a template for placing the flags. I glued the flags to the yellow fabric temporarily with quilt basting spray. The template worked great, but did it ever get sticky from the basting spray!

Copied over from myquiltblog/SusanInTexas

Here is the first Project Linus quilt I made. It's from a pattern called Yellow Brick Road. I liked it because I was able to use lots of leftover fabric from the very first quilt I ever made (1990-2003). I had enough fabric leftover from this rather large throw to make the smaller 9-patch baby blanket shown below with the multicolored binding. All in all I got three quilts out of these fabrics (except for the backing). I think they had us over-buy a little bit for the class in 1990. lol I liked the way the stippling turned out on this quilt and I learned to really love stippling while working on it. I have a Bernina Artista 180 machine that I love dearly, but it doesn't have (and can never have) a stitch regulator so I just have to do the best I can. I've found that if I do lots of stippling in a given day that I'll start stippling in my head when I try to go to sleep. Is that just me, or has that ever happened to anyone else?