Wednesday, August 29, 2012

That was quick!

IMG_6263Voila!  4 placemats and a runner ready for basting and quilting.  I cut out the fabric on Monday night, I sewed the diamond in a square blocks and sewed a few of them to each other last night and I finished the rest of the seams in about an hour this morning.

This is a very simple pattern , but I really wanted something that would let the prints hog the limelight.  That large leaf print second from the bottom especially could not be cut down much without losing its impact.

When I set these out on the kitchen table to see how they fit, I was frustrated to find they don’t all fit! That’s why you’re getting a photo of them on the floor.  I wanted a skinny runner that would fit on the table at the same time as the placemats.  I finally clued in that I goofed in the planning stages.  I always forget to account for the extra seam allowance all the way around a piece.  In this case that adds up to 1.5 extra inches across the table.  I have small table so that extra matters.

IMG_6254I had planned to bind these in a medium brown but to deal with the extra inch and a half I think I will finish these by sandwiching with the good side down, sew along the edges then turn everything inside out.  No binding.  There must be a name for that – if you know it let me know.

Now I’m off to swat a fly.  It buzzed around me all day yesterday, and again this morning (of course waiting till I had a hot iron in my hand before buzzing in really close) and it is driving me batty!  I think it is slowing down and I might actually get it this time…

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fall fabrics

IMG_6249The kids headed back to school last Thursday.  I know school starts in August here every year, and this being the 9th First Day of School for our family you would think I would be used to it by now, but my brain still associates back-to-school with September and comfortable temperatures.  So my brain is saying “fall” but the rest of me is saying “summer” because it was 32 Celsius today, with 35 and 36 C forecast for the next couple of days (that would be 90, 95 and 97 degrees Fahrenheit).  That is NOT back-to-school weather!

Today the brain won and I played with fall fabrics to make some fall placemats and a runner.  The project is coming together quite well, which is a relief because I went ahead and cut everything according to the measurements QuiltPro spouted without checking the math or making a test block.  It occurred to me after I cut all the pieces that as this is the first time I sew something up from a pattern I designed on QuiltPro, perhaps I should have checked to make sure the program did what I thought it did.  Happily, it did and now I am off to stitch more fall fabric.

Friday, August 17, 2012

New time sink

I found something to occupy me while the sewing machine is in the shop.  My lovely husband bought me Quilt Pro 6 design software.  I have been spending some quality time with it in the evenings (ahem, some daytime hours too) to really figure out what I can and can’t do with it.  Since it came with a 30 day trial period, I really need to figure everything out now in case it won’t do what I’m looking for, in which case I can get a full refund.  Don’t tell the family I’ve pretty much already decided to keep it, or I’ll lose my excuse for spending way more time playing than I should be when there are plenty of chores waiting!

Here’s a sample of what I’ve been up to.

Blue Kyoto Garden

I wanted different borders than the pattern for my Kyoto Gardens quilt call for but had trouble visualizing how my border ideas fit with the quilt.  This pattern has unusual block sizes  (10.25”, 4.25”) so it wasn’t a thrill to draw it out to scale on a single page of graph paper.  This was a perfect task to put the software through its paces.

I drafted the block and sashing units once, clicked to fill them in with fabrics, then filled in all the quilt layout with the drafted bits with a few clicks of the mouse. The next night I learned how to daft pieced borders and played around with a few ideas before settling on this one.

Tonight I figured out how to export the files in a format that I can share here. OK, I also played with a few quilt layouts that I’ll never actually get around to sewing…all in the name of testing the software of course!

Twisted autumn leaf

What I want from design software is pretty basic:

* the ability to see how changing colours or colour placement will affect the look of a block or quilt

* move blocks around easily to try new combinations and orientations

* draw block construction diagrams

* audition border ideas without having to actually cut into precious fabric

This program gives me all that, plus a few extras, like the ability to scan my own fabric so I can audition it in the quilt layout (I haven’t actually tried it yet – that’s tomorrow’s play plan).  There’s a large block library to work with, plus the ability to draft my own.  I can draft paper piecing foundations. The program will also take my layout and figure out fabric requirements and strip cutting charts, though I’ll be careful with those because there doesn’t seem to be a feature that lets me specify what methods I’m using to construct things and that can affect yardage requirements.  That’s OK, I can do math.  I’ve been doing it for all the quilts I’ve designed on graph paper!

Frienship star on pointI’ve been hearing and reading a lot about EQ7, but that software is out of my price range.  Earlier this week I stumbled across a mention of Quit-Pro and followed a link to their  home page. By the description on the site it seemed to have the features I was looking for.  It was also on sale, and the sale brought it down to almost half the price of EQ7. The risk-free trial gave me the last little nudge to try it out. From a bit of research I’ve learned that EQ7 has more embroidery and photo editing capabilities, but those aren’t things I was going to use anyway.  I may be missing out on other EQ features I’m not aware of, but I couldn’t afford it anyway! Since I’ve never used EQ I can’t say how the two compare, but in a price range I could afford Quit-Pro is a pretty good fit for me.  I’m not sure why I haven’t heard of it before.  Maybe EQ just has a better marketing team!

I’m off to bed now.  I have to be well rested tomorrow to play with seriously test more features of this software.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Just walk away…

Sometimes you just have to walk away and everything just looks better when you come back.

I haven’t been very inspired to quilt this summer.  My blue Kyoto Gardens sat untouched since the end of May. Friday night the sewing bug tickled again so I pulled out that neglected project and proceeded to make half a star block before quitting in disgust.  The pieces just didn’t seem to be fitting together properly and the edges of the block weren’t straight and dog ears appeared where they shouldn’t.  I could visualize this project, with all those cut pieces, languishing as a UFO.  I sulked in its general direction and walked away.

Saturday I came back to my sewing corner and tackled the same block again and it came out exactly as it should.  Go figure.  So I tried another one.  It came out just right as well. *big grin*  Then of course I became obsessed and sewed till way too late last night, then again today chain piecing a gazillion pieces into units for the quilt’s sashing. I couldn’t resist putting everything up on the design wall for a peek.


In the last 2 days I sewed 396 pieces down into 77 units. I think I made progress!

I need to make 7 more star blocks, but they will have to wait a little bit.  My machine is due for its annual cleaning and checkup and it is going into the shop tomorrow.  Of course it didn’t occur to me at all to send it in these past weeks when I really didn’t feel much like sewing!