Finished the third quilt a few days ago. It didn’t take as long to quilt as I’d anticipated in large part because instead of quilting single blocks I was able to quilt two at a time using the 360 x 260 hoop. I probably could have quilted 4 at once using the large “Garden Dream” reversible hoop (360 x 350) but it was just as fast to re-hoop blocks as it would have been to fight to take the hoop from the arm and turn it around and hope the positioning was close. The problem with that large hoop is getting the second side to align with the first. So I rarely use it for quilting.
I am happy with how the layers on layers of circles turned out. There are actually five complete circles but they’re not obvious in part because the four quadrants are all different. But that’s also what helps with the layered effect.
To quilt it, I used a floral design I’d created for another quilt doing my best to overlap the stop/start positions where the design ended and began in adjacent blocks. Overall, the effect is to appear to have been done using a long-arm quilting machine.
Again, I used a strip from the original Hoffman “Skyline” fabric as a strip in the back – making sure I had it right side up in relation to the front of the quilt.
The three quilts together as a set I’m calling “The Sisters”!
Three very different quilts all from the same fabric.
This morning I managed to complete 24 more blocks (14 left to get me to 63 which I’ll get done tomorrow).
49 Blocks – 7 x 7
I’m not going for a traditional drunkard’s path layout – I want a relatively random layout with probably 5 complete circles (at the moment I have three) and the rest partial circles which creates the illusion of layers of circles. The colour flow is working out but I won’t be satisfied until I have all 63 blocks on the floor and I can photograph them and move them around.
If I stay with a 7 x 9 array (63 blocks) I will end up with a 40 1/4″ x 51 3/4″ panel. Since I want the final project to be close to the size of the other two quilts – 48″ x 64″ I can either do a narrow 1″ sashing with the dark blue grunge I used on the wedges and a 3″ border strip from the Skyline fabric. That gives me the width (40 1/4 + 2 + 6 = 48 1/4″) but short on length (51 3/4 + 2 + 6 = 59 3/4″). If I were to add a 10 row to the bottom, I’d end up at 57 1/2 + 2 + 6 = 65 1/2″.
Or another way to solve the size problem is to add two more rows and a column to make an 8 x 11 array (46″ x 63 1/4″), a wee bit shy on width and length but close enough to the other two that I could live with that. In this case I’d need 25 more blocks. I have the fabric to do that – I bought the end of the bolt, another 1 1/2m of the fabric, so I have more than enough to create the needed blocks.
What I’m liking about this latter idea is that it mirrors the more modern finish I’ve used on the other two quilts. To finish the panel with sashing and a border will make it look more like a conventional quilt even with a hidden binding.
So after I’ve laid out the 63 blocks and stitched them together I’ll audition the sashing/binding idea but I’ll probably take time to construct another 25 blocks….
Christmas Fruit Cake
Christmas Fruit Cake 2020
Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend. I always make fruitcake just after Thanksgiving so two weeks ago I bought the candied fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, put it in my 27c Tupperware bowl with lid then added a pint of dark Barbados rum and left the mixture to soak for a week.
Today was the day. I’ve ended up with 10 2lb loaves (plus a single small cake) which will get wrapped in waxed paper, stored in a ziplock bag, and kept on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator for the next two months.
Right now, the cake is kind of “cake-y” but in two months time it will be dense and moist from the rum working it’s way from the saturated fruit into the cake. Just in time to give it away for the holiday.
That’s my single big Christmas preparation – all done.
Yesterday I completed 25 blocks for this quilt – it’s starting to look like I want it to – circles on circles. Nothing is in place for sure yet – can’t be until I have all 63 blocks stitched and trimmed. I know there will be movement once I get the layout on the floor to audition all the blocks at once.
It’ll be another couple of days before I get the remainder of the blocks done and laid out – then I will photograph the array and think about what I’m seeing before beginning to assemble rows, moving things around as I discover repetitions and some areas that are too light and others that are too dark….
That’s what it’s like when you aren’t working from a pattern – just an idea.
BernieLynn wrote questioning the “L” part of the drunkard’s path block – she wasn’t seeing what I was describing. So here it is.
A drunkard’s path block consists of two parts: a “pie” or quarter circle and an “L” or complement to the circle:
You can purchase acrylic templates of various kinds; you can make your own.
To construct a template first you need to decide on a block size (remembering to add the outside 1/4″ seam allowance – hence 6 1/2″ (for a 6″ block) or 6″ (for a 5 1/2″ block) etc.).
Draw an outline for your block. Next construct a quarter circle (using a protractor, a plate, …) using a radius between 1/2″ to 2″ shorter than your block size, making sure the arc ends are symmetrical. This creates your “pie” shape. The line you’ve drawn is the seam line. The complement is the “L” shape.
To construct seam allowances you draw another line 1/4″ from the quarter circle arc on EACH side of the arc line (I use a different colour pen to draw these two lines to differentiate them from the original arc line). Using template plastic, trace the quarter circle piece using the arc line farthest from the apex of the arc – this is the “pie” cutting line. Reposition the template plastic and trace the quarter circle using the arc line closest to the “pie” corner – this is the cutting line for the “L” piece (it’s a smaller quarter circle).
You end up with two quarter circle templates, one a half inch larger than the other.
To cut the “pie” pieces from fabric, cut a strip the width of the 1/4″ circle radius (the length of one side); to cut the “L” pieces, cut a strip from the fabric the length of one side of the desired pre-trimmed block size – this will be wider than the strip for the “pie” pieces. [For my blocks I cut 5 1/2″ strips for the “pie” pieces; 6 1/2″ for the “L” pieces.]
In my block I’ve made my overall trimmed block size 1 1/4″ larger than the radius of the “pie” piece:
When I’ve finished sewing blocks together there will be a 1″ border around each circle or partial circle.
But you can construct drunkard’s path blocks that have no border around the quarter circle. These are a bit trickier to stitch because you are working with just 1/2″ of fabric on the ends of the “L” shaped piece to end up with a 1/4″ seam allowance for joining the blocks:
It’s all up to you and how you want your final project to look.
In this case I want the circles to be circumscribed within the blocks rather than touch the edges of each block as I did in Let The Trumpet’s Sound.
Yesterday I pulled a pile of Grunge fabrics from my stash, looking for bright colours to strengthen the bright elements within the panel.
I’m after a final block size of 5 3/4″ (I’ll go down to 5 1/2″ if I have to). I began by cutting 5 1/2 strips from the panel, cut them into blocks, then cut the “pie” shaped pieces from those.
Next I cut 6 1/2″ strips – enough so far for 48 blocks – then cut the “L” shaped pieces from those (that gives me 48 “pie” pieces to use for another project!). Then I cut 2 “pie” pieces from the grunge fabrics.
I paired dark to light/light to dark (more or less) and set them into two piles. Then I began stitching some drunkard’s path blocks. Everything you read recommends doing a lot of pinning – I find I get a better block if I do no pinning at all – just align the “pie” element on top at the end of the “L” piece, then using my 1/4″ right guide quilting foot to slowly stitch the curved seam, aligning the edges carefully as I go along. My resulting block isn’t perfect but close enough that I’ve been able to trim them to 6 1/4″ which will give me a finished 5 3/4″ block.
I’ve finished seven blocks and as I go along I will play with layout. I’m already liking how the buildings in the panel have disappeared and the colour definitely stands out. That was the effect I had in mind and it looks like it is going to work out as I was visualizing it.
Now I need to construct the remaining 41 blocks. I’m anticipating a 7 x 9 array – 63 blocks in all so after the 48 I will still need to cut out and stitch 15 more blocks. I have more than enough fabric from the panel to do that. I’ll cut them out tomorrow.
Today, I started “echo quilting” the wedges of the quilt. I decided to use my adjustable guide foot which has markings from 3/16″ to 1 1/8″ – the guide is easy to keep aligned against the right edge of each wedge as I stitch.
I’ve been varying the width of the echo stitching, starting at approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ and occasionally 5/8″ as the whim takes me. With the guide foot, the stitching is easy to keep reasonably parallel – the only care point is determining the position of the “point” of the wedge as I’m sewing so that it more or less centres in the wedge.
I managed to quilt 6 wedges today; I stopped when my back, neck and shoulders were telling me I needed a break!
I can see from what I’ve done so far that I will leave the sashing without any further stitching. Quilting the wedges makes the sashing stand out, the colour strong. Were I to quilt the sashing it would cause it to be diminished. So I will leave it stitched in the ditch and nothing more.
I’ll try carrying on tomorrow. At six or so blocks a day I should be finished quilting in another three days. Then I can trim the quilt to 48″ x 64″ and do a hidden binding using backing fabric leftover from trimming the quilt.
I had started stitching-in-the-ditch on each side of the sashing ten days ago or so – got a few rows done and then put the quilt aside. I just couldn’t carry on – not sure why that was because I knew if I started sewing it wouldn’t take me terribly long to stabilize the sandwich.
This morning I finally picked up the project and stitched the remaining sashing, and around the outside. The back is nicely flat – the top has a bit of fullness but a good spraying with BestPress and a steam iron and it should be starched and pressed enough to give me a flat surface to quilt.
The question is what do I want to do next. I can’t leave the project as it is – there isn’t enough quilting to make the whole stable so I have to add a lot more stitching. I simply cannot do consistent free-motion work, my stitch length is inconsistent and my lines wobbly; I’m never satisfied with how it turns out which is why I quilt-in-the-hoop. But given the shape of these wedges that isn’t an option here. I’m leaning toward echo stitching the wedges and leaving the sashing alone. Once I start there will be no stopping until each of the 20 wedges is relatively densely stitched. Do I want to echo-stitch 1/4″ or 1/2″? Maybe a combination of both. What colour thread? Probably a mixture of the variegated threads I used on Skyline #1.
Tomorrow, I’ll start the process and see how it looks.
I’ve also been thinking about Skyline #3 – drunkard’s path blocks. Probably 8 1/2″ blocks with some 4 1/2″ blocks as filler. I may even try a “porthole” or two.
I just made an 8 1/2″ pair of templates (I have a commercial pair that size, but the pie-shaped piece is quite a bit smaller / the “L” shaped piece larger – I want the joins to be closer to a 1/4″ seam allowance…)
8 1/2″ Templates
Then I constructed a pair of test blocks:
8 1/2″ Test blocks
which turned out rather well. My seam allowance from the edge of the curved seam is closer to 1/2″ – that leaves me with two options: trim the block to 8″ (giving a finished 7 1/2″ block) or remake the templates. I’ll sleep on that decision.
I want a finished quilt size to match the other two Skyline projects – 48″ x 64″. If I wanted a border then I could actually go smaller or fewer: set up a 5 x 7 block array (40″ x 56″) – actually the fewer might be just fine. I’m better off staying with the finished 8″ block because that makes it much easier to do a few finished 4″ blocks as filler.
I also now have to think about a balance between my Skyline fabric and some Grunge inserts – I want some bright Grunge fabric to broaden my colour range. The Skyline is colourful, but when it’s cut up and reassembled some of the brightness disappears.
I’ll start by cutting the Skyline into 9 1/2″ squares – that’s large enough to cut out both drunkard’s path template pieces without a lot of waste, then mix and match the two elements to see what it will look like… After I finish quilting Skyline#2.
I took what I’d done apart – I had to because the panel was not laying flat! I didn’t have to take every seam out, but I did have to take quite a few apart. Now it will lay flat on the batting and cling smoothly enough to permit me to quilt the whole.
Skyline #2 – Top Pieced
I still don’t know how this quilt will turn out. I’m happy with the overall flow of colour. The next challenge is quilting the project. The quilting will pull the piece together (or, frankly, it could kill it).
I’m intending to echo-stitch the wedge elements, including the sashing. I expect the quilting will need to be quite close but not evenly spaced. I plan on using the same threads I used for Skyline #1 – a mix of variegated purple / turquoise / red to blend with the print (instead of contrasting with it).
In the meantime, I need to square the piece – tricky, actually, because although the top is relatively flat now, laying it on my cutting table and keeping it in place while I trim edges will need weights to prevent slipping.
The top is still a bit wide and I think 3-4″ longer than I finally want it to be so I do have a bit of wiggle room as I square it up.
The backing will include an offset uncut strip of the original fabric with sashing to border it as I did with Skyline #1.
A quick update. Got a bit further this morning – I added 6 wedges with sashing.
Skyline #2 – In Progress
Not easy to do and keep the panel flat. The angle at the apex of each wedge causes a wobble in the developing edge – you can see it at the bottom of the image. I had to figure out a way to overlap each new wedge with the previous ones in order to keep the panel flat.
I think I’ve figured out I have to lay out the sashing strip, trim the panel so the sashing is applied straight, then trim any excess from the panel edge so I can sew a straight seam. When applying the next wedge, I can play with the width of the sashing so it narrows either at the point or at the outer side of the panel whichever seems right at that spot.
I’m about half done at this point. I have another 9 wedge pieces to add. I’ve squared the top and sides – the width is still around 52″ – I will trim it to 48 1/2″ (maybe 49″) when I’ve completed the whole panel.
I’m still not sure whether I want to use the piece with this horizontal layout, or whether I will rotate the panel 90° – that would necessitate adding something to either end because the panel at 52″ is not long enough – I’d need another 12″ or so.
I want to finish at close to 64″ in length whether the wedges are horizontal or vertical….
I spent some time this morning beginning to assemble the panel – some interesting problems to solve here. I don’t want all the points at the same level so I have to figure out ways of staggering them in both directions!
Also the width of the navy grunge “sashing” is something I’m going to have to work out piece by piece. I’ve cut sets of 1″, 1 1/4″, 1 1/2″, 1 3/4″. I think the easiest solution is to apply a strip to the ongoing edge as it is, but graduate it when I apply the next wedge so the dark blue is also present as a wedge – sometimes wide/narrow other times narrow/wide.
Skyline #2 – assembly beginning
It’s going to take time to assemble this panel because each adjacent wedge has to be attached in a way that doesn’t distort the panel – I need to keep it flat. I may have to add small wedge inserts as I go along to even out the joins between sections.
Anyway, I’ve got the panel started. I’ll try getting further tomorrow.