Friday, February 25, 2011

Petite Prairie Journal Issue #3

It is always difficult to give advice on how to do something when you don't really know what the person is trying to do.  However, that didn't stop me, as you can see.  I just drew the above block quickly as an illustration of a block with a curve.  I don't know if it has a name or not.  It probably does, as there really isn't much quilting stuff that is truly new.  It has all been done before, although it might be in a bit different form.  Anyway, I use Quilt Pro a lot.  Most people use Electric Quilt.  I use both, but it is my opinion that for most people EQ is more user friendly.  Plus, I like the templates it has better than Quilt Pro's.  I don't have the latest version of either and really don't find it to be a problem.  These programs are by far the easiest way to print out templates for the size block that you want.  Second easiest, is to use a copier.  Third easiest is to draw it yourself.  The thing about drawing them yourself is that you really get to know what you are doing and understand quilt blocks.  Drawing quilt blocks is easy.  (I had a job drawing automobile gaskets once and that was not easy.  Or terribly fun.)  Quilt blocks are simply a grid.  Period.  Draw your grid and fill in the blanks with shapes that you want.  People try to make it harder than it is.  Hope this helps. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coalition of Hand Piecers

Hi to all,
Love the comments I'm getting about hand piecing. Long ago in a faraway land (Kentucky) I taught machine piecing.  Beginners always experienced confusion and frustration and no enjoyment.  Here is the bottom line for me - quilting today is supposed to be fun. We no longer need to make quilts as one pioneer woman put it:  "as fast as I can to keep my family warm."  Quilting is a hobby now.  Hobbies are supposed to bring enjoyment.  Otherwise they serve no purpose. 
The other day I watched a Quilt in a Day television show.  I decided to count the steps it took to make a flying geese unit - well actually, I think it made a couple of units - and I stopped at number 7 and it still wasn't made.  Seriously, it only takes cutting out 3 triangles and sewing them together.  Am I the only one that thinks this is bizarre?  Don't get me wrong, Eleanor seems like a nice lady and she is rich and famous and I'm not, but why would anyone think such a convoluted method is the best way to make flying geese?  I don't get it.  (Please don't send me negative email about this - I am entitled to my opinion. Plus, I said she was nice!)  By the way, in the previously mentioned far away land, I belonged to a guild and almost everyone loved Eleanor's methods.  This guild always had Eleanor's sister come to their quilt show and give presentations and her stuff sold like hotcakes.  Ahh, but I digress......
When I started making miniature quilts, experimentation ensued.  I'll try most anything.  Tried the paper methods early on - English and Foundation.  Didn't like the process, but the results are good.  I have found traditional hand piecing to be my favorite way to do things.  It is straight forward and the more you do it the better you get.  In fact, it is now the only method I teach. It makes for a fun and relaxed workshop and I have never had any complaints.  I always supply kits, so there is no stress trying to get the right items together for class.  (You need some really tiny prints for miniatures and most people don't have them on hand.  You have to buy those fabrics when you find them and they are few and far between.) Some of these quilts have turned up in quilt shows (no mention about being from kits, by the way), so they must be successful. 
Before stepping off of  my soapbox,  just another thought:  I have endured a lot of strange comments about the miniature quilt thing and so I was not surprised that Jill left a comment about getting a big "why" question on  hand piecing  I leave you with her answer:
Why not?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A new block, a new week and just a word....

These blocks are coming around very quickly.  It may seem fast because we are all geared to BOMs and not BOTWs.  Or could it be that I am old and slow?  Nah, surely not that!  I eliminated some seams again.  I tried it as drawn by Barbara Brackman, but it looked way too busy in a 4" size, so I made the background plain.
Now about the "just a word" in the title of this entry:  Some of my thoughts about hand piecing.  Since the invention of the rotary cutters, hand piecing has sort of taken a beating.  People have forgotten how relaxing it can be to put your feet up, have a cup of their favorite beverage and have a needle in their hand.  No huge amount of supplies to tote around, no power cords to hassle with (although you do need good lighting) and no bobbins to wind.  Don't get me wrong - I love my sewing machines, but there is a place in this world for hand piecing.  Today's quilters seem to think it is too slow, but consider this:  it is extremely portable.  While you are sitting at the doctor's office or waiting for something else, just a small ziplock can hold a lot of quilt pieces and needle and thread and small scissors.  You can get some blocks pieced then when otherwise you would just be reading a magazine.  That is just one example.  Also, hand piecing makes for a wonderful group activity - you don't need much individual space and it is very easy to carry on conversations - no noise from machines to talk over.  Well, you get the idea.  Let me know what you think.......

Monday, February 14, 2011

Brackman Civil War BOTW 7

I'm having fun with this BOTW now.  Went looking through my stash - not an organized one, I'm sad to say - and came up with two charm packets of Louisa by Terry Clothier Thompson for Moda.  So, that is what I used for this block.   I go to the Paducah Quilt Show every year and the last couple of years, Hancock's of Paducah has been having great deals on the charm packs.  Since I do miniature and sometimes small quilts, these packs are a favorite.  All the fun of looking at the prints and none of the storage issues.  (Well, there shouldn't be any storage issues!  I am currently in the process of trying to clean things out. As my son pointed out, I am always trying to clean things out.)  Anyway, this is a perfect project for using charms.  I notice one of the pieces in this block really doesn't look all that light, but I loved that paisley striped fabric and put it in there.
As for my other projects - not too much happening there.  I have been working on the tentative workshop project and will show it one of these days.  Since I am doing kits, writing the pattern and making the samples, it is pretty time consuming.
Till next time....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Caught up!

I am very happy the decision was made to go with 4" blocks and modern Moda fabric.  So much easier and quicker to do.  It is a fun project now and before it had turned into a difficult nightmare of sorts.    Quilters have a way of not wanting to abandon projects they have started, but I got over that a long time ago.  Quilting for me is supposed to be fun and if a project turns into something decidedly not fun, I move on.  That doesn't mean I won't find a way to recycle it, but I won't keep torturing myself with it. Below is a rather bad photo of row no. 1 for this project.  I got caught up on it this week because I have a nasty cold and have felt pretty much like not doing anything, so I sat and hand pieced.  It's always a good day if you have a needle in your hand!
I like to do as much as possible as I go along.  For me it is easier to sew the sashings on when I make the block, than to wait till the end and sew it all at once. There are certainly valid reasons to wait until the end, but this way is easier for me.  This way I can look and see what colors to use in the next row and things like that.  Well, that's the Brackman project for now.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Re-thinking the Brackman Project

It's always risky business to start a project when you don't really know what it will entail.  I had thought to do this Brackman BOTW in 2" block sizes, but that is proving to be way too time consuming.  Right now I have too many irons in the fire.  Does that mean I am quitting? Nope.  Just going to switch to a 4" block and hopefully that will speed things up.  Also, I'm going to use Moda fabrics from Barbara Brackman lines, with the exception of a plain background fabric and that's because that is what I had on hand.  Using antique fabrics is difficult for a lot of reasons.  No nice little square packets of them like the Moda Charms in the above photo.  Lots of digging, taking apart old quilt blocks in all sorts of conditions, soaking and so forth.  You get the idea. 
Working with fabric is my first love, but working with paper - especially brown Kraft paper - is a close second for me.  So, since I have to write everything down any more because my memory isn't very great, I thought why not make a little journal to go along with this quilt project.  Just a place for notes and thoughts as the project goes along.  Think it will take me awhile to catch up with all the blocks.  Ahh well.