Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Seattle: Pink and blue compass

More sashing, less number of blocks. Helps to disguise blocks that refuse to be aligned. Compasses and geese are favored combos by quilters, since these two combined add a lot of movement to any quilt, especially in medallion types.

For the rectangle shapes used as borders, I used an expired credit card as a template. It is firm enough to trace around a good number of fabrics, better than a cardboard template which would fray and curve after some tracings. I keep a supply of old metro cards, telephone top-up cards, promo cards stuck on magazine pages, and the good old credit cards too with the numbers and signatures scratched out with a dull knife. I also use them to make sharp straight pencil lines for applique, and also as small-size rulers for paper/ foundation piecing. Or any job that requires precise but short lines. I've also cut them up into small templates requiring squares, triangles, rectangles.

Pema has brought this quilt with her to New York in 2009. Measures about 95 x 100 inches. Wait til you see the backing, in the next posting!

Bangkok: My quilt story - part 3

On a Christmas trip to Paris with my daughter, I brought along some cut pieces for hand piecing, a first attempt to fill in empty travel downtime with quilting.
On trips to the USA every two years, I found myself gravitating toward quilt and fabric shops. With a limited budget, I tried to stretch it by going to factory outlet shops whenever possible, and fishing out suitable cottons from the remnant bins, including the upholstery section. Stationery shops too became pilgrimage sites for rulers, very short and very long, various types of pencils and markers and plastic sheets. Thrift shops and garage sales too were favorite hunting ground for fabrics, magazines, books on quilting. My very patient husband would sit and observe the women who bought fat quarters, made careful yardage selections from bolts, and other things contributory to quilting.
There was a fabric and quilt shop called In the Beginning located near the veterinary clinic run by my sister on Lake City Way in Seattle. It was a building fully occupied by the shop, lots of parking, and a few feet away from the clinic. It was so sad for me when they closed for good, in 2005, since I spent a lot of quality browsing time there and bought my first quilting essentials there. They continue the name, concentrating with their own line of prints, extremely popular for floral lines and blended prints, nation-wide. I still have some of the flyers for patterns and the fabrics from their range. (see photo above, from their web site. Some of these are available free online at their web site, www.inthebeginningfabrics.com. Their range of fabrics, always a pleasure to browse and buy, is widely available at many fabric stores.
I bought my first rotary cutter, an Olfa 45 mm in 2004. What a difference! I also bought my own dedicated dry iron and ironing board. Pressing is really so much an integral part to add quality, as I found the hard way.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Seattle: Dear Jane quilt in blue

The Dear Jane Quilt is based on one made by a Jane Stickle during the American Civil War, and completed in 1863. There are 225 blocks in all. I bought the book but at that time the CD was not available. So I painstakingly copied the patterns by tracing them onto tissue paper, pasted them on cardboard, and cut out the teeny patterns. When it got to the triangle borders, I gave up and found another simple to do border pattern. The book is called "Dear Jane: The 225 patterns from the 1863 Jane A.Stickle Quilt" by Brenda Manges Papadakis. Brenda was a Maths teacher, and found the geometric designs fascinating. With ruler, compass and photographs, the book was born. This blue DJ is my third, all without the complex triangular borders.

Today it has become quite a quilt reference book. I have seen photos of quilts derived from Dear Jane (or “DJ” as its fans term it) where the blocks have been re-configured, re-sized, re-colored: it is indeed a long, long process to complete one block, let alone 225!

A spin-off, Dear Hannah, is available,also by Brenda. My DH blocks are slow in coming, but someday it will be completed. Right now they are in a plastic shoe box labeled “DH-WIP”.

Anyone who has attempted a Dear Jane quilt has got to have tons of patience. This finished piece is not an exact replica, because I did not do any of the triangular border pieces. Too complex for me. And for those with curves, I made modifications so I don't have to sew or applique curves, but instead looked for prints that would do as curves or circles. CFdging a bit. A combination of paper piecing, applique, hand and machine piecing did it.

I ran out of white background fabric halfway, and for some reason could not visit Pahurat (where all the good cotton fabrics are found, also called Indiatown and reachable by river taxi from where I live). So one of my spare white new bedsheets was called to duty. The weave is much tighter than the original broadcloth I used, so I re-distributed the blocks to make a mix of background weaves. The white sashing was hand quilted with straight lines. The border is much more simple than the original but it let me get it out of the "Work in Progress" into "Finished"status.
Measures about 85 x 90 inches.