Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Can't stop yet....

I have finally finished the first section of the baby quilt I'm working on -- yay!!!

The sewing machine doctor was unable to get my sewing machine up and running, or, at least, not in a sustainable fashion that continued working once I got it home. I think my machine doesn't like me very much, as it tends to work fine for other people. I'm following all the instructions in the manual, but clearly I just do not have a way with this machine. It was working at the machine doctors; he showed me. But once home, it was back to Broken/Breaking Thread City again.

I've temporarily given up, will wait until I can get her to an authorized Bernina dealer and try again, and meanwhile will keep on sewing by hand. I actually enjoy working by hand, as it is so much more portable. I can bring my sewing to the dining room table and stitch while the boys do school, or while the family watches a movie I'm only half interested in. I can bring it out to the sun room and sew in the sun when I'd otherwise be freezing (there are no outlets out there, so I couldn't take my machine to the sun room). I can come to the empty desk in the computer room and hang out and chat with the boys while they compute. In fact, when I do get my machine up and running, I will likely take over the empty desk as the perfect spot for my machine, here with the family rather than off in my sewing room in the back of the house.

Still, going by hand is slower. I'm not complaining, at all!, because I do enjoy the hand work. I did my whole first quilt by hand, right up until I had Kim quilt it for me. So, I can do this. It means that The Writer's quilt is on hold until I finish the baby quilt, as I have an August deadline on that one. To finish the top, get  it backed and get it quilted. By hand. But I think I can do it, if I stick to my schedule.

And here, in its internet debut, is the first third of the top. Four vertical rows of triangles, each row consisting of 20 pairs of triangles. All identical, except the 8 triangles that make up the purple diamond. Just two more sections just like this and the top will be done! I can do it.

"Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" -- or, in this case, just one diamond so far!
(and, no, triangles are NOT a hand quilters/piecers best friend! LOL!)

close up of the 1st diamond.
I am grateful that 1 - the recipient will not notice that even the lines of the diamond
don't line up exactly straight all the way around, and 2 - the rest is all one fabric and the
print hides the seams very, very well, and the quilting will hide 'em even better.
'Cause hardly any of those seams line up properly. Triangles! Sheesh!! What was I thinking?!

It takes me about a day's worth of sewing to go from a stack of 40 triangles to a row put together. And then about a day or so to get the 4 rows joined together, and I'm guessing another day to get the 3 sections put together once I have the other 2 sections done. Which is NOT to say that in a mere 10 days I'll be done with the top, because of course real life interrupts and all, but I do plan to, hope to, finish the top no later than June 15th. That will give me 2 months to quilt it.

Wish me luck, and keep me accountable. Ask for progress pics. Often. By Monday I should have the next third. And the Monday after that the last third. And the Monday after that, it had better be all together and quilting started. Come here and check, 'kay?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Christmas in May

Some people who love me (they know who they are) sent me a package last week. I knew the package was coming, and what was in it, and I was anxious for it to arrive. When it did, I disappeared into the computer for a few days, coming out only to feed and clothe my family (or so they tell me) while I played with my new gift.

Two days later I remembered to call the gift-givers and let them know the package arrived safely and I was having fun with it. Not the most prompt thank you ever given, but it's not my fault I was distracted.

What did they send me? Only the most amazing quilt designing software ever, called EQ7 (Electric Quilt 7).

This software is amazing. Let me just say that again -- Amazing. Basically, this program takes all the math and technical aspect out of the equation and just lets me create. I can even draw my own blocks and designs, with never a care to "If I make this piece this big, then what size does this need to be?" and so forth and so on. No maddening graph paper and pencil and calculations. Just drawing, and pointing and clicking. From my heart and head to the computer, in a few clicks. And from there, all the information I need to go from drawing to sewing, all the fabric calculations done for me. Amazing.

To put it another way, it lets me do this:

...And Read All Over
the final layout for The Writer's comic strip quilt
(except the red parts of the border will be centered...)

Flora and Fauna
a design I played with for a website challenge

and, last but not least, The Brazil Quilt
I'm not 100% sure of the final coloring, but this is the quilt I've been drawing for ages,
based on the cobblestone sidewalk designs here.
Like I said, amazing. I've never been so happy to receive a Christmas gift seven months early. Thanks again to the gift givers!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One-third + one-sixth + one-half = Progress!

I'm working on three different quilt projects right now, and I'm at a good progress point for updating on all three. yay!

The first is the still on-going Diary Quilt; I'm busy adding what are called setting triangles to all the blocks I finished earlier. What that means is I take each small square and put a triangle on each side so that each block becomes a square within a square. I of course do not have pictures of this yet, because my camera batteries are, as ever, dead. But, I'm done with half the blocks! Yay!!!

The second is the Comic Strip Quilt for The Writer. He created this hilarious comic strip, Mt. NeverRest, when he was quite young; maybe 9 years old? I forget. Simple but so funny. In an effort to preserve his comics for him, I decided to turn them into a quilt. I bought printable fabric and will photograph several of his comic strips, print on the fabric and they'll make up the middle of the quilt.

The outside of the quilt will be in all blacks (on the left) and all white (on the right). The middle two columns (it will be 6 columns total) will alternate white and black, so that the overall look is interlocking teeth, similar to this design:

Which is Which quilt, by Mamacjt
originally seen on Pinterest, traced back to
this Flickr photostream (though not that page)
The maker of this quilt knows I'm inspired by hers and making my own, altered, version.
Today I finished assembling all the black squares. Hooray! That's one-third of the blocks, ready to go. They aren't joined yet but just having the blocks done is a big accomplishment for me. Each block is roughly 12x12, just to give you an idea of size.

for the Comic Strip Quilt
this will be the left third of the quilt when done

The third project is the Argyle Baby Quilt; I showed you recently the first column full of triangle pairs. I've finished another column's worth of triangle pairs since then. Woot! Making progress! It's a fun little project to work on, as the little triangles go together quickly.

I'm debating how to back it -- I originally bought enough of the lavender dot fabric to be the backing, but over the weekend I saw a lavender microfiber/microplush baby blanket that is the right size & color to serve as backing if I want. I'm researching how hard or easy it would be to use that, and thinking it over. On the one hand, it might make it more likely to be used, which is a good thing. On the other hand, I'm reading that it can be finicky fabric to work with, which is not so good. So, mulling it over. Anyone have thoughts on that? I believe it will behave similar to minky fabric, if that helps you. 

Today I'll be starting the white squares for the Comic Strip Quilt. Cold weather has arrived with a vengeance here, and I'd hoped to have the quilt done for The Writer at least before the end of our winter. Must get moving! The Diary Quilt has no deadline whatsoever, as it's just for me, and the Argyle Baby Quilt doesn't need to be finished until September-ish or maybe August, so I'm bumping the Comic Strip Quilt up in the line and working full speed ahead on getting that finished for my boy. Wish me luck! I do so want it to be done in time for him to enjoy it this winter!

Time to get to work! Happy Thursday, everyone!