Drunkard’s Path – Edge Stitching Done

Moons & Planets

I just finished the decorative edge stitching on all the small circle appliqués. Slowly and carefully – using 50wt rayon embroidery thread (top and bottom).

In these detail photos you get a sense of the decorative stitching done along the circumference of each small circle. I used a silver grey thread for all the grey circles, and blended in a complementary thread for each coloured block.

Next comes borders.

Drunkard’s Path – Latest Iteration

Latest Iteration

Last night I added fusible web to the back of 9 grey fabric strips, then cut out circles of varying sizes from each. I placed them on the panel, then decided I did need a wee bit of colour against the grey so I added just a few coloured circles in the background. I’ve pinned the circles in place; next I need to press them, then edge stitch using decorative stitches with contrasting thread.

The addition of the small circles pushes the large circles back, foregrounding the small circles. I’m hoping the addition of the bright narrow inner border with a wider outside medium grey will stabilize the whole panel. I’m also thinking I might add just one or two small circles through the borders as well – we’ll see.

Movin’ right along.

Drunkard’s Path – Panel Assembled

Assembled Panel

With a healthy amount of rearranging of blocks I finally settled on this array and sewed the panel together. It always surprises me how different everything looks when it’s all sewn together. The joins are not perfect but they’re more than passable – always an accomplishment when sewing curves that have to join on the circumference. I’m also happy with the distribution of the grey background colour flow.

My next idea is to appliqué smaller grey circles (in three different sizes) randomly on top of these circles to break up the regularity of it all. I’ve selected 10 of the greys I used in the background, I cut 4″ x 15″ strips, now I have to apply fusible web (Pellon 805) to the back each, then cut out circles. My plan is to use bright threads to edge stitch these small circles in place.

I’ve also picked out a bright batik that echoes the range of colour in the panel to use for a narrow inner border, then add a medium dark grey wider outer border.

The back? No idea yet.

Drunkard’s Path: Carryin’ On

The Current Layout

It’s taken me three days to sew all 70 Drunkard’s Path blocks. It’s a rather slow process – I mark the centre of each piece with a small cut, place the “L” piece on top of the quarter circle, match and pin the centres, then align the right end of the curve and pin it, finally I align the left end, carefully place it under the presser foot, and slowly stitch my way around the curve. Many people prefer having the quarter circle piece on top, but I find I can ease the curve together more easily when the “L” is on top.

This is not a typical Drunkard’s Path layout. I’ve picked up the blocks and tried arranging them in a different way, but I seem unable to do anything other than lay out the blocks in alternating circles! So alternating circles I guess it’s going to be!

I’ve moved blocks around playing with colour placement; this may be where I stop. Next step will be to create rows and finish assembling the quilt top.

I know I want an outer sashing, although I have no idea yet what colour to choose. That raises the question of whether I want narrow internal sashing around the blocks as well. I think not. The sashing will need to be in some strong colour with a grey border outside. I think a grey sashing would fight with the existing grey backgrounds; a colour will fence in everything.

So back to my machine to put the top together.

Drunkard’s Path – An Actual Start

An Initial Layout

I cut these quarter circles Sunday. Today I cut the grey/white “L” shaped pieces (as well as clearing up piles of fabrics sitting on surfaces around my sewing room).

I decided to group the quarter circles more or less by colour into sets of 4 then lay them out on the floor. Not half bad. by staggering the rows I get 7 blocks across each row leaving the half circles on opposite sides on alternate rows which sort of hides them. To make this work as a full array I need 10 rows which gives me full circles at the top and bottom edges. In all, I end up using 70 quarter circles which means I will have to cut a bunch more for the back when I’ve finished the top.

Next I have to try laying out the background pieces.

Possible Bottom Row

Except for the bottom left corner (which is too brown in tone) the other background elements look like they might go together. Now I need to pick up these pieces, and complete adding background to the other circles.

Here’s where I wish I had a large design wall! I don’t have a big flannel sheet hanging in my apartment because I don’t have wall space for one. I have to resort to the floor in my studio. I’m OK getting down but getting back up is not as easy as it used to be. So I won’t be able to do a full layout at one time. I’m going to have to work row by row, picking up the pieces as I go along piling them carefully so I can sew each drunkard’s path block. When I have them done, I’ll play with layout again.

Background Added (Tentatively)

Now I need to spend time looking at the array to make sure I’ve distributed the background reasonably well.

Drunkard’s Path – Getting Started

I had two piles of fabric on my cutting table – a stack of bright ones, a pile of light greys/off whites/darker greys. I’ve walked around them for nearly a week. I started cutting today.

I cut quarter circles from seventy-eight different bright fabrics (many from scraps large enough for the quarter circle, as well as fat quarters and other fabrics I had on hand; I cut 6 1/2″ strips from the background greys, then eighty 6 1/2″ squares from the strips. It took me nearly five hours to get that much done. My next move will be cutting the background “L” pieces from the squares so I can construct the blocks (that’s going to give me eighty smaller grey quarter circles as “waste” that I have to use for something!).

Last week I’d cut a couple of 6″ test background blocks – too small. Sewn to the bright quarter circle element my background would have phased out to nearly nothing at the sides. Fortunately I’d only cut four 6″ squares so I didn’t lose a lot of fabric. But that mismatch stopped me going any further for the better part of a week!

Test Layout of Four Drunkard’s Path Squares – Not Sewn

Today, I cut four background squares into “L’s” to see whether 6 1/2″ would work. I laid them out with quarter circle elements. I think this will be fine.

Once I have all the elements cut out, I’ll start laying them on the floor to see what kind of colour flow I get – BEFORE I even start assembling the blocks.

I’m planning on a 7 x 9 block quilt – my finished blocks will be 6″ – that will give me a top panel that’s 42″ x 63″. I’ll add borders to that to make the quilt a bit larger. No idea yet what I’ll use, that will depend on how the colour flow of the top shapes up.

Loom Knitting

One of the women in the building – a regular at our Friday afternoon knitting/craft sessions – has MS. At this point she’s in a wheel chair and has some (if impaired) use of her hands. A couple of years ago I thought she might be able to use a knitting loom, so I bought her one she could use to make a scarf. It took a while but she knit a 6′ scarf using the loom.

Then she wanted to try socks!

I found another knitting loom I thought might allow her to do that.

Loom with stitches on and two rows completed

The loom accommodates 60 stitches – with a heavyish sock yarn, I set up the loom for her and for the past two years JoAnn has been knitting every Friday afternoon. She’s just one of the knitters.

There are drawbacks to the system – I haven’t figured out a simple way of knitting a ribbing. We did without a ribbed top to the sock. Turning the heel required me to removed the stitches from the loom, put them on 3.5mm double pointed sock needles, knit the flap, turn the heel, and pick up the gusset, before returning the stitches to the loom (which required a bit of a stretch). JoAnn continued knitting the foot.

Yesterday, JoAnn thought she might have knit enough to finish off the sock. I took it home and last night I once again removed the stitches from the loom and knit the toe, finishing with the Kitchener Stitch, as I would any sock.

I washed the sock using Eucalan to soften the wool. Then I blocked it and hung it to dry. This morning I added a double thread elastic to the top edge to give it a bit more shape.

First sock finished

Looks like a sock. Should wear like a sock. I just hope it fits her foot. A wee bit too long I’m not going to worry about. Short? I’ll take off the toe, knit a few more rows, and redo the toe. But I think this foot length might just work.

I picked up the loom and yarn and started the second sock for her. I cast on the stitches and knit two rows. Having a finished sock might just encourage her to knit a bit more often than just for an hour or two on Friday afternoons. We might see a second sock sooner than 2025!

Still Thinkin’ About Drunkard’s Path

I haven’t given up on Drunkard’s Path yet. Instead of the dull colours I started with, I’ve pulled 44 bright fabrics from my stash, mostly batik (and in the in end I may use only batik – I have lots more fat quarters to choose from), as well as a pile of blacks/whites/greys.

The idea this time – I intend cutting the quarter circle elements from the bright colours using the blacks/whites/greys as background. This idea comes from a quilt I came across on Pinterest

Here’s my plan – a 7 x 9 quilt – using 6″ blocks that gives me 42″ x 54″ which I can extend with borders to a largish throw.

My next step is to cut sixty-three quarter circle elements from the bright fabrics (there will be duplicates), and 63 squares from the blacks/whites/greys (selecting more from the lighter end of that collection), then sew them together.

I won’t know what this is going to look like until I get the pieces cut and laid out on the floor and then play around with layout. The quilt above uses the blocks in a straight layout – I may break that up somewhat to create a layered effect with some circles on top of others as I did with the Skyline Quilt #3.

Here goes….

Quilter’s Block

You know about writer’s block – well, I’m experiencing “quilter’s block”.

I finished my last quilt about a month ago. I would normally start a new quilt right away – with a surfeit of fabric in my stash it usually isn’t hard to pull out a stack and begin something new.

This time there were a couple of subtle pressures interfering with my moving ahead: my reserve of small zippered bags was just about empty, I still have that Kantha jacket to remake for Marlene (that’s been hanging around for months, not quite making it to the top of my list, despite taking some seams apart, basting them together and trying the adjustment for fit – not quite right yet again), two aprons for a friend, and the microwave potato bags I was originally planning as gifts for the Friday knitting gals! (Oh yes, and an heirloom nightgown as a demonstration piece although that weekend workshop didn’t happen.)

In fact, three weeks ago, I bought a collection of new fabric – only because it was on sale at half price – not because I needed more fabric! I chose the central fabric, a William Morris inspired print, then built a collection around it. I felt inspired to work with a “Drunkard’s Path” block again. I cut 6″ strips from each of the new fabrics plus several more that complemented the others, I cut one set of 6″ blocks (two from each fabric), then cut the paired shapes which make up a Drunkard’s Path block.

I laid out contrasting pairs using some William Morris fabric in each block. I moved the elements around but the fabrics didn’t speak to me at all. I turned the photo into a black and white – there lurked a surprise:

The majority of my fabrics read as “medium” with the wrong ones reading “dark” and few “light”. The William Morris fabric was actually one of the “medium” fabrics – not a dark. I tried again with fewer colour elements.

By removing four fabrics the colour values balanced better but I still wasn’t inspired. I realized my problem was with the original focal fabric! While I like the William Morris fabric, it pulled me into a set of rather dull colours. No “pop”. These fabrics would make a nice quilt but not one I was going to enjoy working on.

I walked away from even sewing these Drunkard’s Path blocks – I gathered up the pieces and put them away in one of my scrap boxes.

The “cure” for writer’s block is to write. Write gibberish, free write, keep writing anything whether it comes together or not. Just write.

That’s what I did. I cut the remainder of the 6″ strips of these fabrics into zippered bag rectangles, found a suitable fabric for lining and got to work making zippered bags!

The first batch used the quilt fabrics with a strong accent fabric and contrasting zipper and pull. For the second batch I dug through scraps for bright complementary fabrics. The third batch used up pieces from a sample set of blue.

In two days I made 34 zippered bags.

My Current Stash Of Zippered Bags

With “small zippered bags” off my list, two days ago I turned to microwave potato bags. A microwave potato bag is used to bake potatoes in the microwave – the potatoes come out fluffy rather than gluey. You use two pieces of fabric and some microwaveable batting. Takes 20 minutes to make one.

Wanting to be economical with my fabric, I cut 10″ x 22″ rectangles from two of the duller fabrics I’d originally intended to use with the William Morris fabric. (That’s the equivalent of 4 bags/meter of fabric.) Added some microwaveable “Wrap ‘n Zap” batting (which comes in a 22″ width very convenient – that, as well, gives you 4 bags/metre).

I layered the fabrics right sides together, placed the batting on top, stitched around the outer edges leaving a 4″ opening on one side, pressed the panel, stitched the opening closed. Then I folded the fabric to make a pouch, stitched down the open sides, and there was my finished microwave potato pouch.

Microwave Potato Bag

It took three tries before I streamlined the process – 1. Leave the opening to turn the bag right side out on one of the short sides rather than along one of the long sides; 2. Make the stitch around gap at least 4″ – widen enough to get your hand in so you can turn the pouch right side out easily; 3. Don’t bother stitching around the outside of the finished rectangle, just edge stitch across the end with the opening; 4. Stitch the two side seams 1/4″ from the edge going more slowly where the two ends overlap – it’s thick there, you need to allow the machine time to pierce the overlapped layers.

I’ve got three microwave potato bags done, five more are cut out ready to sew.

When those are finished, I’ll work on the two aprons – I bought a canvas fabric yesterday that should be a good weight for an apron.

Finally, I will take that Kantha jacket completely apart and recut the fronts, back and sleeves so the jacket will hang better. It’s not a humungous job, but it’s one I find myself resisting. But with the other stuff done I will tackle it.

As for a new quilt. I’m looking for something modern and bright to work on. I’ve taken the pressure off myself to be creative, just be productive.

That’s enough for the moment.

New Fabric and Lobster Pots

Cuts of Fabric

Yesterday my neighbourhood sewing/fabric shop was holding a 50% sale – how could I resist? I went in early to pick up a few notions I knew were there, but the shop was full of women buying fabric, so I left. I returned around 3:00 to see if there was anything left that might be interesting – not really thinking about buying fabric but the black “William Morris” like fabric caught my eye and I started looking for bolts to complement that fabric. This is the pallet I came up with. When I got home I pulled the beige with cranberry dots from my stash to add to the collection.

Now the question is – what do I do with this? Some kind of drunkard’s path assembly? Is seven fabrics enough to do that – I’ll have to see what I can come up with.

Saturday, the day before, I joined a couple of friends on their annual excursion up the eastern shore Christmas Craft excursion. We made a bunch of stops. We saw lots of well executed woodwork, pottery, sewing, quilting, jewellery, painting. The arts community is alive and well in that part of the province! I didn’t buy anything – I don’t bother with Christmas shopping, nobody needs anything.

Lobster Pots

It was tricky finding a reasonable location to get a photo of this row of old lobster pots without the cars, or the road, or the house. A bit of cropping and editing – this is the best I could come up with.