In Case You Wondered

Just read a piece in the New York Post – “This is the fabric for DIY Face masks, according to science“.

“Much to the delight of many an American grandmother, the quilt fabric performed best as a protective shield against respiratory droplets.”

Anybody surprised? Of course face masks made with a good quality cotton quilting fabric stops cough droplets better than other sorts of home made face coverings.

“Without a mask, droplets from the simulated cough flew more than 8 feet and up to 12. They traveled 3 feet when the bandanna was worn; 15 inches with the folded handkerchief; and 8 inches with the surgical-grade masks.
The stitched, two-ply quilt mask, however, halted droplets after just 2 and ½ inches.
Why quilted? The study suggests that the masks made with quilting fabric fit faces better than loosely tied material. Plus, sturdy two-ply material gives a mask an added layer of protection, other studies have shown.”
So all my efforts haven’t been in vain! I’m now approaching 300 masks – I’ve really lost count. I keep making batches of a dozen. This last week I made another 36.

Latest Face Masks

I keep giving them away. Sent another dozen to my niece in Toronto last week. Have handed them out as I’ve gone to have my haircut, my nails done, had a filling repaired, saw the massage therapist…

This pandemic is going to be going on for a lot longer than people want to believe. Washable face masks are on the way to becoming essential for any socializing if we want to keep infection at some kind of containment level!

I’ve been using bolder, more colourful fabrics with each new batch. My personal collection is closing in on a dozen – I choose a face mask to go with my outfit. Why not, hey? It might as well be a fashion accessory if I have to wear it. And I do wear one whenever I’m in public, everywhere I go (except while actually eating in a restaurant -which I’ve done twice so far).

BTW, this is not all the sewing I’ve done since I last posted. I’ve finally got my latest quilt sandwiched, pinned, and ready to quilt; I made a cotton nightgown for a friend of mine having a birthday on Thursday; I’ve been puttering with Kaleidoscope Table Runners for a class that’s not going to happen. I bought small amounts of fabric yesterday to add to two different sets of octagon “blocks” so I can finish the runners and get on with sewing some summer clothes for myself. Oh yes, and I put elastic inserts into the waists of 7 pairs of pants! And took out excess fabric from the seat of three pairs of jeans I bought at Costco.

I’ve not been idle!

A Very Modern Quilt

A while back I saw an interesting modern quilt on Pinterest:

Pinterest Photo

I really liked the stark contrast between the two colours and the very modern use of drunkard’s path blocks. I printed the image and put it in my “think about” pile. I had 3m of an interesting red batik I thought would work with this idea but I needed something pale to contrast with it. This is just after everything shut down in mid-March so I went online, found a pale turquoise batik at the Missouri Quilt Company and ordered 2m. That fabric took quite a while to arrive – COVID-19 in action, of course, affecting both warehouse and the postal systems. After finishing the Crossroads Quilt I decided to try this quilt.

I began to deconstruct the image, but discovered this quilt was a 2018 Kauffman quilt pattern so I downloaded it. However, the finished dimensions (a twin size quilt) were larger than I wanted to make so I scaled it by 85% (now that I have the top completed I realize I probably should have scaled it 80%). That meant downsizing all the pieces.

First, I experimented with the size of the drunkard’s path block – taking it from 6 1/2″ down to 5 1/2″ – but I couldn’t go from there until I started assembling some blocks into larger units because I wasn’t sure what size the connecting elements would actually turn out to be. I started by constructing 10 drunkard’s path blocks (I knew I needed 39 in all) and created the first column, added the second column, then the sashing elements between as well as the outside left border.

First Two Columns Assembled

The next part of the assembly was less straightforward – I constructed the remaining 29 drunkard’s path blocks and began working on the central panel:

Centre Panel

I joined the first pair of drunkard’s path blocks with sashing, add the third block to one end, next the side sashing, put the second triplet with it, then add the end sashing…. I only knew what size the sashing elements needed to be by measuring where they fit as the parts of the “block” came together. It was easier figuring out what size fabric pieces to cut as I went along by measuring where they went rather than trying to work out 85% of each piece in the pattern.

Centre Panel Attached

Finally the right-side panel – same process:

Finished Quilt Top

Now I have a finished quilt top – 51″ x 68″ (instead of 61″ x 75 1/2″) – a large lap quilt.

Yesterday, I bought turquoise fabric for the back. I have all 39 pale turquoise “pie” shaped pieces cut from the “L” pieces as I built the drunkard’s path blocks. I plan on creating a dozen or so reverse drunkard’s path blocks using scraps of various red fabrics that more or less blend with this background batik for the “L” pieces so I can set up a strip to insert into the back panel.

That’s where I am right now – I have to cut out a dozen or so drunkard’s path blocks – downsizing the turquoise “pie”shaped pieces, cutting out red blocks for the “L” shaped pieces, creating the blocks and stitching the panel.

So on to that next.

 

Crossroads – Quilt Finished

Well, the quilt is almost finished – I still have to hand stitch the hidden binding on the back – at the moment the binding is just pinned in place.

I elected to do a hidden binding because I wanted the contrast strips to reach the edge of the quilt without the interruption of a conventional binding. Using a hidden binding adds a “modern” touch to the  piece.

Crossroads – Quilt Top

The back was pieced from four leftover blocks with large segments from remnants of some of the grey fabrics. None of the three pieces I had were large enough to use without piecing. I added contrast elements to join the grey blocks in an asymmetric layout.

I was fortunate, when I trimmed the quilt, to have enough leftover fabric from each edge to use as binding. That has allowed me to match the binding to the back so the pattern layout is continuous. A nice surprise.

Crossroads – Quilt Back

To quilt the quilt, I had to mark the quilt top into 250mm squares because the actual “blocks plus sashing” were larger than my largest hoops could accommodate. I figured the colour detail of the quilt top was strong enough that the fact the quilting block was smaller wouldn’t be obvious. So a 4 x 5 quilt layout was quilted using a 5 x 6 + 5 x 1/2 blocks. The top row of half blocks blends in – the quilting appears continuous.

Quilting In The Hoop

The quilting blocks can be seen on the reverse but the more open structure of the back panel accommodates that.

I’m actually very pleased with how this quilt turned out.

Now to hand stitch the binding and label – this evening in front of TV.

Current Quilt

I took the blocks, rotated each in turn clockwise (both vertically and horizontally) to move the contrast strip around. I then sashed the blocks in each horizontal row, assembled the rows, and sashed between the rows using pieces of the lighter fabrics (a mixture of batik and printed grey fabrics) to lighten the overall appearance of the quilt top.

Blocks Assembled

My size, at this point, is 50″ x 64″ – probably large enough for a good sized throw/lap quilt without borders. And looking at the photo, I think I’m going to do a hidden binding so those contrast elements at the edge stay at the edge.

Now to think about the reverse side. Back to my stash to see what I have in the way of largish pieces of grey fabric I can put together with 3 (possibly 4) of the extra blocks I have left over. I know there isn’t a single large piece that I can split and insert a strip to make a backing wide enough. I’m sure I will have to do more piecing than that….

I don’t have a name for this quilt – nothing pops to mind

20 Blocks – Now What?

I’ve just finished 20 blocks (actually I have 23 and could probably eke out a 24th – to use on the quilt back). The question is now what?

20 Blocks

I could just stitch the blocks together (after I’ve looked at the placement for a while and moved some around); or, do I want to add pieced sashing between the blocks to extend both length and width a bit? I do intend adding an outer border – probably pieced using both light and dark fabrics.

I guess the next step is to go through the fabrics in my stash to see what I have that might work for sashing – I don’t need all the sashing to be the same fabric, in fact, it might be interesting to mix and match fabrics – the challenge with that is to be accurate enough that I actually align the seam matches with seams in the existing blocks…

Better go look.

At Last – A Quilt On The Go

Since I finished Black Rock Beach (a week ago) I’ve been struggling to get a quilt going. I’d hauled out groupings of fabric several weeks ago for some ideas I wanted to try but in each case I was missing either contrast or background fabrics to make the idea work. I ordered some possible pieces online but I’ve had to wait for them to arrive – two have but I’m still waiting for two more to show up before I can start on either of those possible projects.

I’d also thought about working on a diamond/triangle lap/throw quilt based on ideas in Jan Krentz’s book “Quick Diamond Quilts And Beyond“. I pulled out some scraps, cut some triangles and diamonds and tried assembling them – my accuracy was nowhere close. Part of my problem was actually cutting – I used a template for the triangles, cutting from a strip the height of the triangle but as careful as I tried to be when stitching I could not manage to combine four triangles into a larger triangle with the edges matching! I need more practice – with cutting, stitching, and pressing. I will get back to that idea but not at the moment!

I moved on to something else. I’d picked out a scrap bag of grey batik fabrics (twelve 9″ cuts) and then some much brighter batiks to use as contrast.

The idea is to sew four grey 2 1/2” strips together, cut into blocks, split the block off-centre, insert a contrast strip, then add two more rows to one side to square off the block.

5 Completed Blocks

I’ve completed five blocks so far. The first block was an experiment to figure out how to construct the insert collection. Also, because my grey fabrics are 9″ WOF cuts I can’t get 2 1/2″ strips from it – just 2 1/4″ – so all my other measurements had to be calculated to accommodate that difference.

What I’m seeing now, is a 4 block by 5 block quilt, with some additional complementary piecing at the top and bottom to extend the length of the quilt relative to the width. I plan on adding an outer border, as well, to make the lap quilt/throw just a bit larger overall.

I pieced all the insert strips today. I’ve cut enough 2 1/4″ grey strips for 22 blocks, as well as pieces for the two longer outer strips. I’m ready to go with chain piecing the blocks tomorrow.

Life now feels more normal with a quilt on the go!

Sunflower Table Runner – Finished

Finished quilting and binding the table runner last evening. Hand stitched the binding on the back (definitely not my most favourite thing to do!).

I’m happy with how the dark narrow binding pulls attention away from the outer border which doesn’t completely match up. I just didn’t have enough sunflower fabric (with its very large flowers) to find precise repeats for the border strips. I realize nobody but me will even notice. I was making this table runner as an example for a class I was planning on offering – not going to happen in the near future so I’ve hung it in the closet with the rest of my finished projects until such time as I might need it.

Sunflower Kaleidoscope – Top

I dug through my stash to find something for the back – found a 9″ golden/orange WOF piece which worked as a starting point, added a scrap of the sunflower fabric and a piece from the previous runner at the ends (the two ends are intentionally different – it wasn’t a mistake!). I had enough of the orange dotted fabric for narrow inner borders and then hunted until I found the dark outer border fabric given me by a friend.

Sunflower Kaleidoscope – Back

This project is now done. Today, it’s back to face masks. I have to think about how to streamline the process so I can turn them out in batches quickly. It’s gotta be like the zippered bags at Christmas – a production line.

Kaleidoscope #3

Just finished assembling the sunflower kaleidoscope table runner top.

Kaleidoscope #3

This time I managed to get sets of eight triangles for the octagons so the full kaleidoscope effect is present. Because of how the repeats in the fabric were set up I was able to get away with less fabric but that also meant I had fewer stacks to choose from. The variation turned out reasonably well and I was able to get some colour flow with the octagons.

I had to buy another 1/3 metre of fabric for the outer border but because the flowers are very large it wasn’t possible to match up the border pieces. I think a dark, narrow binding in some shade of brown should tie the piece together. Now I just have to find something in my stash that will work – not a lot of brown fabric there; it’s not a colour I’ve used much.

It’s noon. Time to get out into the sunshine even though it’s a cold day – temperature -4°.

Bargello Table Runner #2

I’ve been working on a second bargello table runner for a class I held last week (we’re supposed to meet again in a week and a half – not sure if the gals will come or not – not sure if the shop will even be open!) The government directives to “stay at home” may prevail and even this small group may not take place. If that should happen I may try a Google “Hang-Out” with the gals – (that’s if I can get it to work and write them some instructions for connecting) so we might talk about assembling their table runners. [PS: Everything has closed down here in NS – shop closed; classes cancelled… (Mar 19 2020)]

My fabric for this runner came from a 5″ wide 20 strip jelly roll with a lovely range of contrasting colours. I selected 10, deciding to use the bronze as the contrast fabric and situated it between two of the black/bronze strips. 5″ allowed me to cut 2 x 2 1/2″ set – precisely what I needed for 4 bargello blocks.

Bargello Table Runner II – Under Construction

Notice I said 2 1/2″ strips. The previous bargello table runner used 2″ strips. Using 2 1/2″ strips makes each block quite a bit taller – so much so that placed together end to end (as above) my table runner would turn out to be somewhere around 75″ long; too long for my table; too long to hang on my front door.

So, I’ve decided to join the blocks on the sides using a 1 1/2″ strip which allows me to generate a flowing wave pattern. The other thing I did was to use several narrower strips at the centre of the block which produced a more bargello-like curve to the layout (more obvious in the top image).

Three blocks laid out as a “wave”

I haven’t sewn all three blocks together yet – I want to be able to show the gals different ways of thinking about layout. So tomorrow I’ll assemble the 4th block (which is cut and laid out) and ready to go.

I should end by saying to anyone reading this “Stay safe.” Stay well!” I am staying at home for the most part – I went to pick up a prescription this afternoon. I tried to see my dentist (I just lost a small filling while eating lunch) but the office is only taking emergencies. My small filling doesn’t count – so heaven knows when I might be able to get it repaired. Months maybe?

I’m so grateful to have the sewing and knitting to keep my mind and hands busy. I’ve a lot of projects, including a spring jacket, I want to work on during the next while.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner II

After finishing the first kaleidoscope table runner I went shopping for fabric to try a second to learn more about what makes a good print design for constructing the octagons.

The pattern repeat in the butterfly fabric I bought was ~ 23in in length and although I bought 1.4m I decided to use just half of the fabric for the kaleidoscope since I didn’t want to end up with many more triangles than the 40 (5 x 8) I needed.

I was hampered by the fact that the printing of the fabric wasn’t precise and even though I aligned the 5.5″ fabric strips precisely, I wasn’t able to get 8 exact repeats of from any spot – just sets of 4. So I built my octagons from two sets of 4. That still gave me the kaleidoscope effect I was after.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner II

I cornered and bordered the octagons with a dark blue print and then used strips of the butterfly fabric for the outer border. The back used the leftover from both border fabrics as a simple bordered panel.

Again, I quilted the octagon blocks in the hoop, and stitched the borders in the ditch to stabilize the runner.

This piece might just be hung on my front door!