Thursday, September 2, 2010

Triple Rail Quilt, Class 140 continued.

I am addicted to gadgets and tools (my scrapbook supplies are taking over the house and the quilting items are threatening to catch up).

However, I do wish that I had purchased Quilter's Academy before I went ruler and notion shopping as I'd have saved myself some money.  For more expensive items, I do spend some time researching them and I'll buy the best that I can afford. Case in point - my favored rotary cutter is by Gingher - and I did find a good deal on one of the designer sets which came with a seam ripper - and it is wonderful.  I like the balance of both tools in my hand.  I also have three different brands of rulers and of cutting mats. I've got a couple brands of pins too, and I like the IBC silk pins better than the yellow tipped quilters pins.  I also like some of the flat head pins.  I do pin the strips because I don't yet feel confident that the strips won't slip apart.

So after finishing cutting and squaring the 99 blocks for this quilt, I unfolded my design wall and laid it across the bed.  And reduced some of the need to bend by working on the layout in sections and then walking around the bed to pull it across. Both Corgis gave their seal of approval by jumping up and landing on the layout.  Monkey landed so gently she barely moved the blocks. Dash landed like an elephant and dislodged quite a few.  He is now sleeping on my foot so has forgiven me shoving him off the bed.

I photographed the layout from directions to see how it would look upside down.

I like it both ways.

The blocks are now nicely stacked on my handy dandy tray and ready for me to start sewing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Triple Rail Fence part 1 - Class 140

So, what does a hockey mom do at the ice rink, when she really wants to work on quilt projects?  Well let's see - three months ago, I tied no sew fleece blankets while sitting in the penalty box and later snipped rag quilts effectively spreading lint from two quilts liberally around the Triangle ice houses. Then two weeks ago, I was drafting the layout of the dragon quilt.  I drew the grid and then carefully colored in 32 little squares (about 1/4 inch square) and sat shifting them around on my clipboard.  A couple thoughts on that process... first, I needed to make the grid bigger - there were too many tiny scraps of paper and second, I needed to color the scraps darker as the purple, orange and red were too similar to make much of an impact.  After getting home, I spread the cut dragons out as described in an earlier post.  Sunday morning, I spread out a fleece blanket which worked nicely as a design wall, and started mocking up the triple rail fence.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera along, so no pictures of that process.

From left to right - Moda Natures Notebook Floral, MNN Yellow, Delft Blue
MNN Light Blue, Hoffman Gypsy Princess Paisely, MNN Dark Blue

I knew that the Hoffman Gypsy Princess paisley would be rail 1 and the blue & white delft would be rail 5 and needed to find a good balance. This decision was made after I couldn't find additional paisley fabric.  As you may recall, I somehow ended up cutting six fabrics - the two above and four from Moda Natures Notebook line - yellow, light blue, dark blue and a floral on yellow. I started off with two sets and laid out a 3 by 4 set of rail fence blocks.  Then I started switching colors - was the dark blue better on the inside or the outside?  Would the sixth fabric work as the first border?  The end result took me a little by surprise.  I had assumed that I would leave out the Moda floral as it would be too busy with the delft.  However, I ended up feeling like the Moda yellow was too much of a contrast.  So that one has been put aside for another project.  I will likely use the dark blue as the inner boarder and binding as I like how it framed the mock-up better than the others.

 Sunday evening I stitched and starched the 12 sets of strips. Tuesday evening, I spent cutting and squaring rail fence blocks. As I type, I have the 50 blocks from set 1 cut and squared.  And I'm relieved that I sewed all six sets of the second combination.  In each block, there are two or even three manufacturers - and the width of each fabric differs - the delft is the shortest - so I've been able to get 9 4.25 inch blocks from each strip - and definitely need the 6th strip. If each fabric allowed for 42 inches between the selvages, then I could get away with just 5 strips.  The second thing I learned - which led to a trip back for more fabric - is that the yardages given can be fairly close to exactly what one needs - so it pays to do the math before shopping and be certain to add in a few inches for evening the fabric and in case of cutting mistakes.

The lessons in Class 140 center around setting up one's sewing space. We haven't had the energy or the desire to start moving furniture around - with heat indexes approaching 100 over the past few weeks the thought of carrying stuff out of the house to storage has been daunting - so I don't have my sewing room yet.  And it looks like I'll be in the bedroom a few more months as I have a ridiculous amount of personal and professional travel in the next two months. But I digress.

Lighting - our house in general does not have great lighting and I'm set up in the corner of the room farthest from the window.  Gus and I changed all the burnt out lightbulbs in the lamps and even with all of them turned on, the lighting isn't great. At Home Depot a few weeks ago, I found an Ottlite floor lamp - for around 1/3 the price of a comparable one from JoAnne's.  I may go back for another - but don't currently have a place to put it.  Just adding this one lamp has vastly improved the lighting.

Sewing table - my craigslist find is working quite well and I'm very pleased with it.  Eventually it would be nice to have some expanded space for maneuvering a quilt, but for now, in the piecing stage, it is great. I do need to ask my neighbor to help cut a new insert as the one it came with doesn't fit around the Bernina. Again, not a problem until I start quilting rather than piecing.

Chair - I'm borrowing Gus's desk chair (which he rarely uses) until I can find one that I really like. I need to head out to the University surplus warehouse some Friday to see what is available and try some out.  For some reason, the nine year old believes that ownership allows one to lower Mom's chair seat WHILE mom is sitting in said seat. This has encouraged me to try out different positions - and I also experimented tonight with raising it while I cut - and will lower again to sew.

Ironing and Cutting table - I currently have "space envy" as we just don't have space to dedicate to a cutting table.  I am making notes on what will work well - and once I get "my" room, will be able to create a more dedicated space.  At the moment, my cutting is done on my sewing table in a seated position or standing at the dining room table - neither are ideal. Especially for someone with back issues like me. Unfortunately, the snack bar is too tall - though maybe I should stand on a box and do it there.

I appreciate the careful advice given in the Quilter's Academy regarding setting up space and materials. A definitely plus in the book.