Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hey, hey, hey!

I am finally all caught up on the Barbara Brackman Civil War Sampler blocks!  The Flickr group dedicated to this project is a great source of inspiration.  I followed the lead of some other quilters and used a Blockbase variation on the Blockade block with a serpentine fabric to mimic the Anaconda strategy of the North closing off the South.

And I followed the lead again in using some of Barbara Brackman’s “Union” reproduction fabric when making the Union Square block.

I really love the Missouri Star design.

And, finally, the Ladies’ Aid Album block which was posted yesterday.  I used a Blockbase variation on this one which emphasized the cross effect (cause I liked it better).

And all this means I am really truly all caught up.  Yeah, Terrie!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Not to Sew

Well, there are days my head is elsewhere.  Sucked into the virtual void.  Left mindlessly but happily entertained.  But first . . .

I did sew.  I planned to sew and I did sew.

Another very pretty block from the Barbara Brackman Civil War Sampler using some of my old favorite reproduction fabrics.

And then it was lunch time.  And I opened the MacBook.  And I remembered that I was curious about what was happening over with Britain’s Got Talent. 

My curiosity began a week or so ago when I stumbled across these two videos(coming up) on YouTube.  Two very different singers but I loved them both. 

First, Jai McDowall.  He’s got stage fright so bad his knees are shaking but then he goes on to powerhouse a song like this

And then Michael Collings.  Another young man, sweet and likeable as can be, with a completely different kind of voice, but what a voice!  Here he is at the audition.  And here he is at the final.  He didn’t win, but he’s probably opened more than a few doors for himself.

And a little more from Jai McDowall – who no doubt has them on their feet in Scotland.  Here he is at the semi-final.  (Can I just say “wow”?)  And the final performance.

So, that’s why I only got one block done this afternoon.  But, hey, it is a very pretty block. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Catch Up Begins

At a certain point during the semester I realized I was just not going to get much sewing done, and the Barbara Brackman Civil War Sampler blocks were one of the casualties.  But now it’s summer break and time to get back on track. 

I do love working with reproduction fabrics!

One of the things I’m realizing is that I am pickier than I’d thought.  There are a number of the blocks that with the cutting directions given would finish either an eighth of an inch smaller or larger than eight inches.  And there it is: I can’t do it.  I know that an eighth of an inch can be worked in easily enough when finally assembling the blocks.  Still, I can’t do it.  I modify the directions so that I’ll get a block that finishes at exactly eight inches square.

Like with the Lincoln’s Platform block below right.  I added an eighth of an inch to the measurements on the cross.

Or with the basket block where I changed it up entirely and picked another basket block that is built on a eight patch grid. 

Some cutting directions were fine as given, of course.

And I am a gadget girl, so I liked how the block  below left gave me an opportunity to play with the Eleanor Burns flying geese method and ruler – which worked perfectly, by the by.

So, there it is.  Ten blocks down.  Four blocks more and I’ll be caught up.  And, really, I don’t mind that I’m anal and have to modify those directions on occasion.  I’m just grateful Barbara Brackman is putting together the sampler – and each week I look forward to the history that she provides to the chosen block.  Wonderful stuff. 

Think I can get those final four blocks done this week?

Friday, June 3, 2011

AccuQuilt Go! Dresden Plates, Part One

For my Bee Pieceful block exchange I decided to use my Go! to cut out Dresden Plates.  I’ve seen mixed commentary on making these from various blogs online, some saying the plates come out perfect, some saying that they needed 21 blades to make the circle rather than twenty. 

I sewed up a test block and sure enough, the sizing was a little off.  I should have taken a picture of my before and after, just as a testament to what a spritzer bottle, a hot iron, and determination can accomplish!  Nevertheless, it was clear: modifications needed to be made.

So, what worked for me was to use a precise quarter inch seam at the top of the blade and edge it into just a couple thread widths wider at the bottom of the blade.  Playing with my seam allowance just that little bit meant my second plate came out perfect, flat as a pancake.  You’ll see . . .

Shape the Blades

1.  To begin, take a blade and fold it in half lengthwise.  Lightly press.  Then, using a quarter inch seam allowance,  sew across the wide end.  You will need 20 blades for a single plate.

You can chain piece these and they will zip right along.

2.  Trim the seam allowance to about 1/8" at the fold.

3.  Turn the blade right side out.  As you turn, finger press the seam so that it is open.

4.  Press the point out so that it is sharp.  Line up the seam with the fold line you created when you first pressed the blade in half.

5.  Press.

Assemble the Plate

1.  Lay out 20 blades in a circle. 

2.  Line up two of the blades, fabrics right sides together. Be sure the top pointed edges are perfectly aligned.  (There’s a little wiggle room at the bottom of the blade since that will later be covered by an appliqued circle.

3.  Begin stitching at the pointed part of the blade.  Back stitch a few stitches (see white arrow below for placement).  As you begin, your seam allowance should be a perfect 1/4" seam.  Gradually widen the seam allowance so that it is just a wee bit larger (the width of a couple threads) as you reach the bottom of the blade.

4.  Press the seam allowance open.  You can see in the picture how the bottom seam is just a little wider than the top seam.

5.  Sew five blades together.  One advantage to sewing in groups of five is that you can lay your blades to see if they are squaring up correctly to make an exact quarter circle.

6.  Here it is with the four groupings sewn.

7.  Sew the groupings into halves and then sew the halves together to make a full circle.  Here it is from the back:

And here it is from the front:

Flat as can be and isn’t that a pretty sight!

Part Two of the tutorial will come later, probably a couple months from now after I have my bee blocks arrive.  I’m waiting to choose the background fabric and the circles until I have more blocks so I can really see the effect.  I already bought a white fabric with little blue dots but now that I have a couple plates made up, I’m thinking I might possibly go for a dark brown background.  We’ll see.