Friday, April 14, 2017

New York Beauty - Block #5


     I finally finished the last of the five sample/test New York Beauty blocks I was experimenting with.    This last one was most challenging with two narrow curved bands to piece, and diminishing useful scraps of fabric to work with.  As you may recall from earlier posts, this is made of mostly Kaffe Fassett scraps from an earlier quilt.  
   One of the benefits of this project has been to improve the paper piecing process.  Ever frugal, I print the patterns on the back of scrap copy paper.   When I first started this project, I didn't tear off any of the paper until the entire block was completed.  This meant that I had to tear off paper in the seams, which usually ends up leaving a mess like this:
Later use of tweezers and fingernails will remove those bits! 
       I have now wised up and removed the paper before sewing the parts together.  This leads to a much cleaner back!  
      I think the three blocks are lining up a bit better as I go on, as well!
      With all the blocks done, I needed to decide what to do.  I tried setting them out as a table runner.  
Chester clearly likes this runner! 
 I am not willing to tackle that pointy edge at this point, so I tried some setting triangles, and all of a sudden, the design seemed lost.   The size was too big even for my generously sized dining room table.  
      I decided on the smaller square piece, which I can make into a wall hanging.    

The finished (but not entirely pressed) top!   

     I hope to finish this off during the upcoming month.  I had one idea in mind, but recently attended a lecture and workshop with Mark Sherman of and got some new ideas on what to do with this piece.  Stay tuned!  
We are finally getting some Spring weather!  Enjoy!
Take care,

Friday, April 7, 2017

Pleated Bed Skirt

The new bed skirt
      I have been paper piecing the New York Beauty blocks, and blocks for another quilt that I cannot yet share.  I needed a break.  I also need to do something about my son's room, which had featured a Civil War border.  He has since graduated from college, and lives and works in another state, so a little refresh was in order.   Removal of the border led to a full redo of the room, and the making of this pleated bed skirt from a canvas drop cloth.
The border that was coming down.

The Log Cabin quilt I made for my son in 2005 using Civil War reproduction fabrics.
        In 2003, I had redone the walls with a two color (and glaze) dry brush treatment that resulted in a parchment paper look.  I couldn't recall if I had done the whole wall and under the border.  I hoped so, since otherwise, a full repainting was going to have to happen.   Fortunately, the paint treatment was under the border. The room looked bigger and brighter with that dark border gone.   It also looked bigger and brighter because I removed two bookshelves, and extra chairs and boxes of books, papers, and other items which were just being stored in the room!
        Once I had the border off, I decided to remove the dark drapes which had been hanging in this room.   Earlier this year I had made a pair of grommet top drapes from canvas painters' drop cloths, which I lined, and originally put in a different room.  
     I liked how soft the canvas is after washing once or twice, and drying (stopping often to remove lint).  I realized that different brands were quite different shades of beige - one brand more yellow, and one much more grey.   I used the yellowy fabric for the drapes, but they really didn't go in the original room.
Drapes as originally hung.  Okay, but not great!
     I ended up rehanging those drapes in this room, and they looked perfect.

      With the walls and windows looking nice, I turned to the bed, which was on risers to accommodate storage needs,  and I thought about getting a bed skirt to hide the under bed storage.  I looked around pinterest boards, and saw a very cute pleated bed skirt made from canvas drop cloth here.   With lots of pictures, but no tutorial, I decided to give it a try.    I love how it turned out, and how it looks with the Civil War quilt.

      Unfortunately, I didn't take too many pictures during the process, but I'll share my process here.

     My first step was to measure.  The drop (with risers) was 18 inches, and I measured the twin bed at about 72 x 36.
      I think the drop cloth I used was used a a 9 by 12 cloth, which included a heavy seam in the middle length.  I washed the cloth twice, and dried twice.  Warning:  much shrinkage!!!!!
     I removed the heavy seams.

       The real challenge for me was the bulk of this project, and I started trying to make it manageable.  I knew I wanted 20 inch pieces at the end, so I cut strips a bit bigger (maybe 22 inches wide, but the length of the piece - they varied - this was an initial rough cut).  Each piece was about 10 feet in length.     I also added up the yardage I needed for the skirt, figuring 8 inches for each pleat, and about 10 inches for the overlap on the back end.   I needed about 25 feet of bed skirting.

       I then sewed three pieces of the 22 inch wide fabric together, keeping one end of each piece even.

     I then used some heavy duty hem tape (5/8 inch) on a 1 inch hem.  I was very careful with the sizing of the hem, checking it every few inches.  This makes for a sharp hem.  

       Once I had the hem done, I very carefully then cut the piece to a finished 19 inches.  I used my cutting mat, and the dining room table to accomplish this.  

     I had figured that I would pleat the skirt every 12 inches, with pleats on the corners.  Again, I used my cutting mat, and lots of pins.   Once the whole piece was pleated, I sewed about 1/2 inch down from the top to keep the pleats in place.  I broke three needles!   I also tacked down the pleats at the bottom and pressed them all with loads of heat and steam.

      Once I had my pleats sewn down, I marked 7 inches from the top, and top stitched 1/4 inch from the middle of the pleat.   
Close up of top stitching and mark
         The website which inspired this used buttons covered with the canvas fabric.  Try as I might, I could not get those buttons to work with the canvas.  It was just too thick.  I tried plain muslin, but that was too bright, so I found a little print  in my stash that I thought would work, and made 16 little covered buttons. (about $5 using a coupon at Joann's).  
The muslin seemed too bright. 
The finished little button on the skirt. 
     I used an old sheet I had for the platform.  I decided against using the canvas for that purpose, since it is so loose, and I thought would be hard to get precisely fit on top.

     I started pinning this together at the end (which shows the most) centering the two middle pleats, and  sewed together with a 1 inch seam.  Again, I was precise with this, using a guide bar on my machine.  The corners were tricky, but not impossible.  I used hem tape to finish the top of the sheet and overlapped the skirt just a few inches on each side at the head of the bed, which is against the wall or against the headboard, if we had one!
A view from the top of the bed
     I love how this redo turned out.  My son will be visiting this week, and I hope he likes it too.

Take care,

Saturday, March 25, 2017

New York Beauty - Block #4

      I have finished my New York Beauty Blocks #4.    So many pieces and curves!

      My sewing of the curves is still a work in progress.   The smaller ones are so much more difficult than the larger ones!  In either case, so many pins!  
      I am also beginning to run out of usable pieces of some of the fabric scraps, so I have to audition different fabrics for each little part! 

     The pieces are, more or less, meeting up satisfactorily.   Almost done!  One more New York Beauty block, and then I will make my hanging.

     As I walked by my basket of pysanky (wooden polish painted Easter eggs), I realized that I have real fondness for a riot of patterns and rich colors!

     I am pleased to have been invited to speak to another quilt guild next month, and am working on that presentation, as well as finishing up a class sample and syllabus for a class I expect to be teaching this summer.  It is so nice to share my love of quilting with others.

Enjoy the beginning of spring!
Take care,

Friday, March 17, 2017

New York Beauty - Block #3

      I have finished my three test blocks of New York Beauty Block #3.  As you may recall, I am testing out some patterns in anticipation of working on a quilt for my guild's quilt show in September, with the plan to use some bright and cheery Kaffe Fassett fabrics which my sisters generously gave me last year for my birthday/retirement.   I am testing the blocks, and testing my skills, with some left -over Kaffe Fassett material from an earlier quilt.  I am unexpectedly madly in love with the moodiness of these fabrics and how they all go together!  My plan (dictated the size of my fabric selection)  is to do 5 different New York Beauty patterns.
     I am getting much better at the paper piecing of the fan portions, and really like the spikiness of this pattern. I am now removing the paper backing before sewing anything else and also trying to leave a bit more on the sides, since some of my earlier blocks have been a little off.   I am still having some issues with sewing the little bands to the corner piece. Such a tight little curve.

The messy piece before trimming! 


     Each finished individual block will be 8 inches square.  As I near completion of these blocks, I am trying to decide whether to make a table runner (which would be quite wide) or make a wall hanging which would be 32 inches square.   I have enough fabric to insert setting triangles if I do a table runner.
Auditioning the blocks as a table runner.

Another close up of Block #3 next to Block #1

Trying to visualize the wall hanging! 
      I need to get these blocks finished up since I will have to get started pronto on the quilt if I have any chance of finishing it in time!

     I also was able to quilt and bind three small quilt tops made by another guild member for my guild's charity.   I used a bright varigated Aurifil thread to complement the bright and diverse fabrics in these tops.  I also practiced finishing the binding by machine, rather than hand sewing.  
Two of the three charity quilts.  I must not have taken a picture of the third!  
Happy St. Patrick's Day, and have a good week!  Thanks for visiting my blog!

Take care,

Friday, March 10, 2017

New York Beauty - Block #2

     I have completed three blocks of the second New York Beauty pattern.  I am glad I am doing this sample before I try a full quilt.  I am still struggling with the pieces coming together properly.  Some parts seem too small!
     I am using copy paper as the base, which is pretty heavy and clunky to use (but free since I use scraps).  I am working on a way to streamline the piecing of the "crown" portions so to cut down on excess material to be trimmed off.  I have also discovered that removing the paper before piecing the curves together makes it a lot easier to pin and sew.  Making progress.  I intend to make a total of 5 blocks to start as samples, then get to the business of my "real" quilt.   I must admit that these fabrics just take my breath away!

This one doesn't seem even close to square!  I'll make it work, somehow! 
     I had already sewn the first block samples into a large square block, and now that I am continuing the project, my current plan is to use three of each new pattern to wrap around the middle.  I won't sew these together until I am done.  I may come up with some other plan as I go.   A table runner, perhaps?? 
Here is the beginning of my work on Block #3!  LOVE these!  

     I did have a finish this week, although NOT a quilt-related one.   When I decided to retire, I ordered up some wall paper to replace the paper in our guest/kids' bath.   I thought having a project would be a good idea.  Little did I know that I would be so busy I wouldn't get to it until now, more than a year after the wallpaper was purchased, and almost a year since retiring!   I haven't wallpapered in a while, and this was not pre-pasted! The bathroom is narrow and has tall ceilings, but I plugged away, and am delighted with the results!

Before.  (I was already starting to remove the paper at this point!) 

After.   It feels fresh and light and airy (and goes nicely with the green tiles! 
     After some glimpses of warm weather, we are again getting cold and snow.    Have a great week.
Take care,