Sunday, May 27, 2012

Taking shape

Blue kyoto garden 2012-05-24

I was back in the garden again today but got a bit of sewing done late last week.  The pattern is Kyoto Garden by Judy Martin. I’ve sewn enough of each unit in the quilt to start getting an idea of how it will look.  The picture in the book is lovely but my random blues are a very different colorway and much less planned so I was impatient to see units come together. The plan for now is to make the quilt 3x4 stars, and perhaps use a plainer pieced border than the intricate one in the original pattern.

Back in high school I went to yearbook photography camp.  The first thing we were asked to do was shoot a whole roll of film in 30 minutes.  Being used to snapping the shutter very selectively because every snap cost film and developing, this was quite a challenge but it taught me to just jump in and take pictures willy-nilly.  I think I need the equivalent class for scrap quilting.  Even just using all blues, I’m taking much too long sorting my fabrics and trying to place them just so, with not too much light  together, or too similar, or too clashing… I suspect I’m even going to lay out all the units on the wall and move several around before I start sewing them all together.  Isn’t scrappy supposed to be random?  Perhaps this is the quilt that will help me let go a little, like that photography class.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trimming points and switching blades

IMG_6001After much deliberation, I pulled out the box with all the pieces for my blue Kyoto Gardens quilt. Getting reacquainted with them I acknowledged that they would continue to sit, unsewn, unless I just gritted my teeth and trimmed all the points that needed trimming on all those pieces.  I had thought I would trim as I went, but I kept not sewing because I never felt like trimming. See that white triangle?  It needed 4 swipes of the rotary cutter to trim the points just so.  The blue pieces they will be sewn to have only 2 trimming cuts, thank goodness!

After trimming the first half dozen I gave in and changed the blade on my rotary cutter.  Magic!  I don’t know why I always wait too long to change my blade.  Perhaps it’s partly due to resenting how much the blades cost and how short a time they stay sharp, but mostly I don’t realize how dull it has gotten until I put on the new sharp one and feel it slicing through fabric so effortlessly.  With a new blade and a fair amount of determination, all the trimming was done in a few hours.

Here is an illustration of why the trimming is worth it for this quilt.








Trimming the points not only eliminates a lot of bulk where 8 points meet it also helps me line these odd shapes up just right.  It was monotonous to do, but will be worth it now that I can sit and chain sew pieces together.  I’ll have enough units put together soon to show you what the quilt will look like.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Just popping in

Gardening has sucked me in the last few weeks so I have been in blog land very sporadically.  I’m rushing to try to get plants moved and divided before it gets too hot, though the heat is already here, just without the crippling summer humidity.  It has been a very odd spring.  Our spring weather came about 6 weeks early, and all the perennials came up far ahead of the normal schedule and far ahead of our frost-free date.  We had a three hard frosts in late April and though we managed to protect plants overnight with lots of plastic sheets, it made me a little wary of moving and planting things too far ahead of the last frost date.  By the time I was confident there would be no surprise freeze the heat was here. My divided plants are looking a wee bit stressed.  There has also been no rain.  It’s only May 23 and the grass is already turning brown and crunchy. 

With all the digging going on I’ve been tired in the evenings so there hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on.  I did manage to piece together a runner, though it still needs quilting.  I may add a border first.


I don’t love it, but maybe I’ll like it better once it is quilted and bound.  The pinwheels get lost, though a bit less in person than it appears in the picture. I just see irregular jagged edges instead of the pinwheel corner I envisioned. I thought I had enough contrast between the whites and creams for the effect I wanted, but apparently not. 


I started doodling ideas for this after Katie posted about her twister quilt. She mentioned there were not a lot of patterns in blog land for the Lil’Twister tool.  I was surprised, went looking and had to agree with her.  I am beginning to think that there are not a lot of patterns out there because the tool is better suited to masses of interlocking pinwheels where some will fade and some will shine, at random.

Today I’m taking a holiday from gardening.  First I’ll go vacuum.  After that I’ will indulge in quilty time.  My Canada quilt needs borders and a pieced back.  The blue Kyoto Garden hasn’t seen any progress in a while.  Whimsy is only 1/3 quilted.  Hmmm.  Choices, choices!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Now for a name

What should I call this one?  Honestly, the pattern flowed out of my head quite easily but the name is being more reticent.  Any ideas?


It finished at about 55”x 69”.

 This pattern came together very easily.  I was a bit under the weather when I started it and didn’t want to concentrate too hard to keep any star points sharp, so I planned accordingly.  The squares I used for the stitch-and-flip points, both the white ones and the small colour ones in the sashing, are large enough that the bottoms of the star points intersect each other well away from the seam of the center block.  Is that clear as mud?

I am really pleased with the borders.  A few posts ago I whined about having to take the borders off because they just didn’t fit, despite carefully measuring the border length/width across the center of the quilt, and pinning the borders on with a gazillion pins like we’re supposed to, easing evenly as needed.  Out of sheer frustration, and under the influence of a bad cold and laryngitis, I tossed caution to the wind and the rule book out the window.  I slapped unmeasured  lengths of border fabric onto the edges of the quilt, declined to use any pins at all, sewed them on with my walking foot and hacked off excess length at the end.  I recklessly added three sets of borders this way.

Yes folks,  I ended up with my best ever, perfectly flat borders!  So there!  Ok, now do I dare  try this again on the next quilt? Probably not…

 IMG_5873Also border related, I pulled out my trusty pad of graph paper and planned a quilting motif that spanned both the purple and the blue.  Since this was on the edge of the quilt I was able to use the walking foot to quilt it.  There’s no way I could have free-motioned these straight lines!


I had fun with the thread choice too. I quilted with white thread in the white spaces and yellow sashing stars, and matched various shades of variegated thread to the different colours.  I like the effect – a little bit more than just the texture you get when you match thread colour exactly, but not as stark as a stitched line of solid contrasting colour.

 If you’ve read this far, I’ll leave you with a photo of this quilt with its sister quilt, Wandering Geese.  They were both made from the same 25 fat quarters.  These FQs were the ones I was petrified of cutting into in case I thought of a better use for them later.  In the end I got two quilts that I positively love!