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Monday, February 27, 2012

A Finish!

Above is a miniature Star of Bethlehem that I just finished this morning. (Click on it to enlarge.)  It is hand pieced, hand quilted and the binding was applied by hand.  The fabrics are circa 1840's.  As you can imagine, fabrics with that much age are hard to come by.  The yellow and light blue were quilt pieces that I bought from a vendor last year at the Paducah Quilt Show.  She told me that she had spent the previous winter taking apart a quilt to save what she could. I snapped them up and was happy to find them.  I was so excited to find them, I neglected to ask her what kind of quilt it was.  However, upon examination of the pieces I am fairly certain it was a Star of Bethlehem.  Those fabrics have made a complete circle now. For the background fabric part of a panel was used that I bought at one of Nashville, Tennessee's famous antique shows.  A vendor had three panels of the same fabric.  They were all in poor condition, but their age made them very desirable to me. 
You can not see it very well in the photo, but it has the famous "buff and blue" combo. The vendor only wanted $25 or $30 for all the panels and you can imagine how happy I was to find them. They are invaluable to me.  Part of the large designs were fussy cut to put in the corners of this quilt. It is extremely challenging to incorporate a large design in a miniature, so I was proud of myself for using it in this manner.  If you study quilts from the 1840's, you will see that many of them appear to be very "busy" to our eyes today.  I tried to capture that idea, but yet not have it overwhelm the quilt.  A delicate balance.

Above is the photo of my quilt and my hand - you knew it was coming, didn't you?  The quilt is 13.25" square.  I cut the binding at .625" wide to finish at .125" wide.
Just a note:  Robin left a comment saying she wished she could see my quilts up close.  Well,  you pretty much are seeing them up close.  The photos are taken from about 2 feet away.  You are used to seeing photos of large quilts and in order to see the whole quilt, you have to be quite a distance from them.  Not so here.  When I take a photo with my hand,  I put my right hand on the quilt and reach over to my camera on its stand and snap the pic with my left hand.  So all the photos are up close and personal. 
Thanks to everyone who troubles themselves to leave a comment.  They are all greatly appreciated.
Till next time,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Finish!

Here is the miniature orange and blue quilt.  It is finally finished.  I admit I get a little tired of them by the end of the process.  My photography isn't the best, but here it is. It is rather heavily quilted and I used blue thread when quilting on the blue fabric, and orange thread when quilting on the orange fabric.  For reference, the binding was cut at 5/8" wide to finish at  1/8' wide (single-fold).
Here is my hand in the middle of it.  This quilt was something entirely new for me and I wasn't sure of the scale of it until we saw a television clip of the now famous Red and White Quilt Show in NYC. A four block quilt was shown and I paused the picture and held my miniature block up to the tv and they were pretty close to the same size!  That was a relief.  No quilter alive will ever be the same after that show.  I didn't get to see it in person, but even seeing it on television was a joy.  The staging of that show will change the future of quilt shows.
Well, now I can focus on quilting my Bethlehem Star miniature.  As mentioned before,  my preference is to be working on two projects at the same time - one for piecing and one for quilting,  but I broke my own rules and wound up having two of them to quilt.  Sigh.  As soon as the star is under control, you can be sure I'll be piecing another one.  What will it be?   Who knows?
Till next time.......

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Something from Thimbleberries

I checked in on Thimbleberries website the other day and discovered that Lynette Jensen is posting free patterns for a year of tea towels.  The months for January, February and March are already posted.  She recommends fabric applique that is fused onto the tea towel.  I chose to go with wool and a hand buttonhole stitch in #8 black pearl cotton.  She recommends machine stitching.  Also, I didn't care for her March bunny, so I drew my own.  You know how it is, we just have to change things.  But, anyway, it was very nice of her to post the patterns and it is a fast, fun project to look forward to this year.  Making miniature quilts is pretty intense and demanding and a project like the tea towels is sort of a relief from such precise work.  When I decided to do this little project the other day, I went to the Craft Cupboard in Middlefield, Ohio.  As luck would have it, the owner had just gotten in a bolt of fabric that she ordered for dish towels!  It is heavier than quilters' cottons and is 60" wide.  Perfect for my purposes!  So you can get a piece 29 long, cut it in thirds width-wise and ta-da - three months worth of projects. 
Till next time.......

Monday, February 6, 2012

Understanding Hexagons

I received an email from Linda M. about how to put together a Grandmother's Flower Garden.  It was coincidentally the second time I got asked that question in the same week.  I decided it was time to talk about my favorite pattern piece - the hexagon.  Quilters, it would seem, don't understand them.  So, first:
Above we have the same hexagon template shown in 2 positions.  In A, the arrow is drawn across the flats and this denotes that the measurement of the hexagon would be "across the flats."  On B, the arrow is drawn from point to point.  If both hexagons were presented as 1" hexagons, they would in fact be different sizes if measured as shown.  Also, when designing a quilt layout, you must decide if you want to design with the hex on point as in A or on the flat as shown in B.  Keep in mind that you really need to keep track of the fabric grain in each piece.  Your quilts will always look nicer if the grain of the individual pieces falls the way the piece is presented in the quilt.  (This is true for any piece, not just hexagons, and is especially important in a miniature quilt.  Grain is more obvious in tiny pieces.)  Confused yet?  Hope not.
Here is a typical 1930's style hexagon flower:
Click on the above picture to enlarge it and to read the text.
Now things start to get tricky.  Because you have six sides and not four sides as you have with square blocks, the "putting together" of the flowers can be confusing.  In the photo at the beginning, I have chosen a really difficult setting.  It got so involved, I had to have my husband draw it in an engineering program and I really don't recommend it to anyone.  There are easier ways to make a quilt top.  Mine got involved because the green "path" between the flowers is diamonds and not hexagons.  So, my design has the typical flower as shown above, surrounded by a round of off-white hexagons and then the path of green diamonds to hold it all together.  I also wanted to finish my edge with a straight line to avoid having to bind all the angles that a flower would leave, so the edges are filled  in with the appropriate piece - half a hexagon, etc.
I started to work on some layouts  for you, but I googled "grandmother flower garden quilt layouts" and there is a wealth of info already out there, so there isn't much point in me repeating it. If you visit Paper Pieces, you can print out design sheets and color them in.  I strongly recommend doing that so that you can see how the pieces all fit together.  Paper Pieces is a company that makes paper pieces for English paper piecing.  I have tried this method and it is very accurate.  However, I prefer to just hand sew mine.  To that end, you might want to visit Cindy Blackberg's website.  She is now making a small hexagon stamp, as well as a larger one.  You just use her stamp and stamp pad and this eliminates the need to mark your pieces. 
That is about it for my intro to hexagons.  I will just finish by saying if I could only have  one quilt pattern piece, I would chose the hexagon.  I could spend the rest of my life making nothing but hexagon quilts. 
Hoping I didn't "hex" anyone...........