Sunday, October 19, 2014

Whiggish Frankenstein Applique Block is FINISHED!

16" Whiggish Rose Block FINISHED!

I finally finished my Whig Rose applique block over the weekend!  Now that the tulips (that look like duck feet) and the stuffed berries are in place, the "rotary phone dial" rosebuds in the center of the big flower are nicely balanced and don't bug me anymore.  I love little stuffed berries on applique quilts, and I centered a tiny flower print on each of these to look like the end of the berry where it came off the vine.

Someone asked after my last post about where I got this pattern.  It's actually my own reinterpretation of Joyce Stewart's reinterpretation of Kim Diehl's reinterpretation of a classic Whig Rose block, combined with tulips from a reproduction quilt pattern that I found in a back issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, plus the stuffed berries that were Bernie's idea (he liked the stuffed berries on the Jingle applique project).  That's why I've nicknamed the block "Frankenstein."  So I can't point you to a pattern that you can purchase to make a block exactly like mine, but if you hunt down my sources you should be able to cobble together something similar -- hopefully with your own personal twist!  You can read more about the sources I combined and adapted for this block in my earlier post here

Meanwhile, I am still thinking about how I want to use this block in the quilt I'm planning, but I'm leaning towards either an alternate block layout (blank alternate blocks? pieced alternate blocks?  appliqued wreath alternate blocks) or else some kind of a medallion quilt that would use this block to anchor the outer corners.  So at some point next week I hope to get started with prepping at least three more blocks just like this one. 

I'm linking up with Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts and with  Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times, and I'm looking forward to seeing what others are working on this week.  Maybe I'll get some ideas for my Whiggish Rose project!  Have a wonderful Monday, everyone!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Design Indecisions: What to Do With My Bear Paw Blocks? And What's That Applique Block For, Anyway?

New Idea for My Bear Paw Blocks
I've had these bear paw blocks on my design wall for a couple of months now.  Originally they were going to be diagonal set with plain alternate blocks, then I thought I might straight set them with 4" wide white sashing and these sawtooth stars as sashing posts, but I just couldn't get excited about either of those two ideas.  So the new idea is something like this -- add white fabric around the sawtooth stars to make them kind of float in between the larger blocks.  Kind of like a square in a square block, except that the center square is smaller.  Alternatively, instead of floating the stars in plain white fabric, maybe I could surround my stars with some kind of newsprint or handwriting fabric to balance out the bright splashy print and marbled fabrics.  I'll leave them on the wall like this and see how I feel about this arrangement after I've lived with it for a few days.

Meanwhile, I finished appliqueing the tulips that look like duck tracks to my needle turn applique block:
Almost Finished, Just Needs Some Berries

Now all it needs is a smattering of stuffed berries that I haven't made yet.  My husband keeps asking me if this block is destined to be a pillow.  He usually asks me this while he is chucking other pillows onto the floor so he can sprawl on the couch.  The applique block will NOT turn into a pillow; it needs to grow into a throw sized quilt, but I have no idea what that quilt will look like.  Should I make a bunch more blocks just like this one?  Should I make a bunch more applique blocks in different patterns, but with the same fabrics, like a sampler quilt?  Should I make a mixture of different pieced and applique blocks in different sizes?  Once I get the berries done, I think I'll need to play with the block in the EQ7 software to explore some of those ideas.

This is what comes of starting off on projects with only a half-baked idea of where you're headed with it.  Not that that's a bad thing -- but it does present challenges!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Of Rose Buds and Rotary Phones

Broderie Perse Rosebuds Appliqued
After all that worrying, I finally appliqued my broderie perse rose buds to the center of my Whig Rose block this week, and they weren't as bad as I thought they would be.  Broderie Perse means that I cut the rose buds out of a scrap of my Vervain Monado print drapery fabric (it's 100% cotton, very lightweight, and I did prewash it). 
Monado print from Vervain, Havana colorway
I used Jeanne Sullivan's Patch Back product to give the rose buds a little dimension and preturned the fabric edges with glue stick, then used Roxanne's Glue Baste It to secure them in place for stitching. 

As you can see, the rose buds that initially appeared to be identical in the drapery fabric are more obviously NOT identical now that I've stitched them onto the dark brown fabric.  I think that's okay.  What may or may not be okay is that now the center of my Whig Rose block bears an uncanny resemblance to a rotary telephone dial: 

Would it help if I tried to squish additional rose buds between each of these to reduce the rotary dial effect, or should I leave it alone?  It would be a pretty tight fit if I tried to add more rose buds.  Alternatively, I could do some kind of embroidered embellishment between the rose buds.  Who knows -- maybe the rotary phone dial look will grow on me.
Tulip Thingys Up Next

Next up for this block will be the tulip thingys, or whatever they are supposed to be.  Today I think they look like Daffy Duck footprints.  I've already reverse appliqued the centers, and now the challenge will be in needle turning the tight outer curves smoothly as I stitch these onto the block.  Wish me luck!  I'll try to take the sharp curves slowly, just turning enough for one stitch at a time, and hope for the best.

Tulip, or Daffy Duck Foot Print?
Before I get back to more hand stitching, though, I have to dust off Sergei the Serger and thread him up for a cover stitch.  This will require a consult with his instruction manual, since I haven't done it in awhile.  The BBC Shop only sells Dr. Who tee shirts in adult sizes, and I bought Anders an adult size small that needs to be shortened for him lest anyone mistakes it for a nightgown!

I'm linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts today and Anything Goes Monday at Stitch By Stitch.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

More Pineapple Log Cabin Blocks

Six Blocks Finished, Thirty More to Go!
I've been mostly working on my pineapple log cabin blocks over the past week.  I keep telling myself that I'll set it aside when I get bored with it and work on one of my other projects, but I've been having fun experimenting with different fabric combinations and haven't gotten bored yet. 

With the strips finishing at only 3/4" wide in these blocks, it's amazing how everything just goes with everything else.  I have a wild assortment of fabrics that, according to popular wisdom, don't belong together in the same quilt: a few solid brights, some large scaled Kaffe Fassett floral prints that remind me of Mrs. Roper's mumu outfits from Three's Company, some batiks, hand dyed marbles, some reproduction 1930s small scale florals, some Japanese prints, some metallics, and whatever else caught my eye.  For some reason, I am especially liking the way newsprint fabrics, handwriting fabrics, and other printed text fabrics are looking in these blocks, too -- like old newspaper clippings and letters in a scrapbook.

I finally lugged the laundry drying rack upstairs to the studio and hung all of my blue fabric strips on one side and all of my green fabric strips on the other side, mostly freeing up the surface of the desk behind my sewing machine so that I can use my serger or my Featherweights there if I want to. 

Now that I've hung up all the fabric, it doesn't look like I have as much to work with as I thought I did.  I also have not found a good place for it in my room where it's easy for me to see all of the fabric at once, but out of the way of rampaging puppy dogs who occasionally stampede through my room!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Meanwhile, Applique... and Dog Arias

Leaves Finished on Whig Rose Applique Block
I finished the last of the leaves on my Whig Rose block a few days ago.  This is my first needle turned applique project (the applique shapes for the Jingle BOM project had preturned edges, starched and pressed over heat resistant mylar templates).  As you may remember from this post, I was having trouble getting that curved edge of the leaves nice and smooth at first.  As usual, I'm learning new skills by reading a book -- in this case, I'm following the instructions in The Best Ever Applique Sampler by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins, a.k.a. Piece O'Cake Designs.  I contacted Becky Goldsmith via her web site and blog, and she was unbelievably generous and kind in helping me troubleshoot my Lumpy Leaf Dilemma.  You can read her wonderful suggestions on her blog here:  What helped me most was Becky's advice to work slowly and only worry about turning enough fabric for one stitch at a time on these tight outer curves.  I see a lot of improvement from that first leaf to the last leaf that I appliqued.

I'm still getting the hang of the whole vinyl overlay and pinning process.  With preturned edges, it was easy to use a lightbox with the pattern BENEATH my block to precisely position applique shapes and glue or pin them in place for stitching.  With needle turn applique, Piece O'Cake recommends tracing the pattern onto a clear vinyl overlay that you lay over your block and then carefully slide your shapes into position between the block fabric and the overlay, lining up the chalk lines on your applique shapes with the traced lines on your overlay, while using registration marks on the block fabric and overlay to keep everything straight and positioned properly.  I'm finding it difficult to do this as accurately as I would like it to be.  I get that, in nature, no two leaves are identical, but this is not a naturalistic applique design that I'm working on and for my purposes the goal is identical, perfectly symmetrical leaves and flowers. 

Evidence of Shape Shifting During Pinning
See how that one leaf shifted when I pinned it down and ended up touching the leaf below it?  If these leaves had preturned edges, that would have been much more obvious before I began stitching, but with the fabric allowance sticking out all the way around it was too late by the time I realized it.  My stitches are really tiny, which is good because you can't see them, but not so good if I have to pull them out with a seam ripper.  I'm not willing to risk accidentally cutting into the background fabric, so that leaf stays where it is.  What's next for this block?  The fussy-cut rosebuds that go around the center of the main flower!

Up Next: Rosebuds!
Another famous applique teacher and author has also gone out of her way to help me out.  Jeanne Sullivan, whose classes sell out faster than rock concerts, reached out to me in response to my post on the Applique Addicts Yahoo group.  I already had Jeanne's book, Simply Successful Applique, and she was kind enough to suggest that her prepared freezer paper template method would work well for these tiny shapes.  The difficulty I'm anticipating is in preserving the not-quite-round shape of the rosebuds without having them look lumpy and misshapen, like I tried to make them round and I just did a terrible job.  I also don't want the rosebuds to "shrink" when I turn them, but I can't let any of the off-white turning allowance show, either, because it would really stand out against the chocolate brown fabric to which these shapes will be applied.

This afternoon, Lars has a math tutor coming (don't ask) while Anders will be at church for his Youth Orchestra rehearsal.  I'm planning to set up my supplies on the kitchen counter so I can experiment with rosebuds while I eavesdrop on the tutoring session.

Anyone who has read through this entire boring post deserves a treat, so here you go: I made a recording yesterday of my three-year-old male Rottweiler puppy singing his favorite song, Mozart's Laudate Dominum aria.  Enjoy:

I'm linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, because I think those leaves are definitely whoop-worthy.  Like I tell my son with regards to math (which we're not talking about here, because this is a happy place), being smart doesn't mean you automatically know how to do everything the first time you try it.  Your brain gets smarter every time you struggle with something that is NOT easy, and you keep working on it and ask for help if you need it and refuse to give up until you've learned how to do it.  Everything is difficult before it becomes easy!

Have a wonderful weekend!