Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cabbage Block

Here is my completed cabbage/lettuce! This is replacing the Cauliflower block.

This design was a free pattern over at Ravelly. If you don't follow Rhonda, I highly recommend doing so. She provides a lot of free applique patterns and does beautiful and creative work.

This cabbage was quick and easy! Only 17 pieces, and all were BIG and had gentle, sloping curves. It was a breath of fresh air!

Here are all the blocks completed so far. On a side note, this is a really awful photo. A fancy camera does not automatically give you fancy photos if you don't know how to use it! (I don't).

So we have four down, five to go.  The remaining blocks are broccoli, squash, peas, carrots, and the center block, which will be a special design. Okay, enough procrastinating on starting the actual stitching...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Celtic Solstice Mystery

I am so excited that for the first time ever, I will be participating in a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt-along!  Bonnie's quilts always come out GORGEOUS and I have wanted to participate for some time. However, usually I have just too many other projects going on. Not so right now!  I have cleaning out my UFO pile and am feeling confident and ready to tackle this new project.

Now normally I would trust Bonnie on color selection, but I was not a fan of her choices this time. I lately have become obsessed with a certain shade of bright blue, so I plugged that into Adobe Illustrator and came up with the following palette.

Now my stash isn't very large, so I will admit that I went on a bit of a shopping spree to procure these fabrics. It was very fun to get quarter yards of many different fabrics in similar shades.  Surprisingly, I already had enough lime green, which to me is odd because it isn't a color that I have a particular affinity for.  Somehow it shows up in all of my projects I guess!

The mystery starts next week - I can't wait! You can learn more about it here if you are interested in participating.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Saga of the Pieced Jacket

Okay, camera has been repaired so now I can share with you the full (and finally complete) story of my pieced jacket.

It all started back at PIQF 2011. I saw a jacket pattern, thought it looked nice, and said "hey, I'll make a jacket for my mom!"

The original pattern.  Looks cool, right? (Also nothing like my final jacket!)

Together my mom and I chose this loooooovely color palate. As a side note, because the original jacket was really baggy, I ended up with probably enough fabric for an entire quilt.

Unfortunately when I made the muslin foundation, we determined that the jacket was not stylish enough for her.
Looks like a lab coat!
 So we went out and bought a stylish coat pattern!

Here was my first attempt at a muslin foundation.  You can see all the proportions are off, but at least it looks more fitted than the original jacket design.

For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to use the piecing design from the original pattern (which as you can see has nice straight lines and not fitted curves) and try to morph it onto this other jacket. 

The original design calls for lines of equilateral triangles with strips of fabric between them. So I attempted to do that on the curvy pieces of my jacket. 

If I recall, I marked the seam line, then marked about 2" in from that (for those fabric strips, then sewed the triangles to the muslin so that their points all met the seam line. It was basically foundation piecing. You can see that I started with uniform size and shaped triangles, but in the end they were all different sizes and shapes, based on the contours of the jacket.

First panels pieced! Notice how much longer the jacket is here than in the final version.

Here you can see me drawing out the design onto the muslin, which ended up being a foundation.
For a while I was foundation piecing without realizing that I was doing it, which led to a lot of squinting to see if lines matched up and general headaches. Once I realized it was basic foundation piecing, things went much more smoothly.

Another panel complete!
Then I ran into another big headache: Trying to stitch on those fabric strips. It involved curved piecing, which I had never done before and didn't know how to do.

First I tried to just cut a 2" and stitch it down, which led to all kinds of rippling.

I finally jut stitched on a giant piece and trimmed it down later. It was hands down the hardest part of this process and took FOREVER.

Front panels complete!

Then came the back panel. By now I was feeling a lot more flexible about following the original pattern (and having realized that it was REALLY TOUGH to follow) so I went with the foundation piecing approach and traced out my design in advance.

Except, of course, you can see this would require Y seam if directly foundation pieced. So I had to make diagonal strips and line them up.  Again, this complicated things probably more than they needed to be and involved a lot of tedious eyeballing.

All stitched down!

I don't even know what I was thinking in the photos below. Some weird and time-consuming made-up method for curved piecing. Oy.

back strips attached!

So, well over a year ago, I finished everything in the body except the sleeves, and by this point was so mad at curved piecing that I stopped and put the whole thing away.

Last week I picked it up again with a fresh eye. Taking into account my past grievances, I decided for the sleeve to just do diamonds of a uniform size and shape: 3.5".

Then came so pretty pathetic attempts to figure out how to add seam allowance. I mean, really. I am sure this is super basic geometry but heck if I remembered it.

So without seam allowances, the finished diamond was 3.5" on each side. So naturally I cut a diamond that was 4" on each side. As you can see in the photo below, it was too small.

Then I tried to look up sizing online but couldn't find anything explicitly spelling out how to figure out your cut size based on your finished size.

So finally, in desperation, I traced out my 3.5" diamond and manually traced the seam allowance on, then measured to see what size that was.

And if you were wondering, the answer is weirdly simple. Cut a strip of fabric whose height is your finished diamond side size (so my strip was 3.5" tall) and then lining your ruler up along the 30˚ angle, and cutting a diagonal piece that is also your finished size (3.5" for me). I don't think I explained that so great, but this is about the point where my camera broke, so I don't have any more photos of assembly. 

Here's a final shot I took of my color layout plan before I assembled the diamonds.

Okay, so fast forwarding to the finished jacket. The sleeves sent together very nicely and the jacket actually assembled very easily. I will say this about Simplicity: They do a GREAT job of making very easy to follow instructions. I had no clue what I was doing, but they were extremely clear in their instructions and spelled out every last detail. 

So here are some beauty shots of the final jacket:

Side shot. I think the diamonds on the sleeves came out well. The diamonds did not meet up evenly on the underside, but I doubt many will see the underside of the sleeves.

The back. Slimming!

Okay, so what are the lessons learned? First, I should have made my muslin foundation too long.  I shortened both the sleeves and hemline up to what I wanted the final length to be, but of course some fabric had to be turned in and I didn't account for that, hence sleeves and length that were a bit too short. Notice the difference in hem length in the original muslin foundation and finished piece in the photos below.

I also shouldn't have used cotton for the lining. Some people I chatted with suggested silk or voile. I guess the cotton was too bulky. Once I added the lining suddenly everything was too darn snug. Grr. Notice in the photo below that the jacket bulges in between buttons and is crinkling near the midsection. You can also see in those photos above how it was much more fitted and slimming in the muslin version. I blame the lining.

Also I have since learned that you should pre-wash muslin because it is very prone to shrinking. Since I didn't prewash my muslin, and ended up sewing it into the jacket, this thing can probably never be washed for fear of it becoming all wrinkly and ruined. Ack!

The good news is, this thing looks better and is pretty comfortable if you wear it unbuttoned!

And now it's all done! Phew!  If I ever do a jacket again, I'm going to use the fabrics recommended in the pattern and not try to do my own thing. I will definitely use Simplicity again for clothing patterns as they are very straightforward and I think I need things spelled out for me for a few more projects.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jacket is Complete!

Yes friends, I did it!!!

Unfortunately my camera is MIA so you will have to make do with this low-res ipad photo until I can get some real shots.  A longer post about all the trials and tribulations I went through (cue violins) will be coming soon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mess Up

Yes, friends, I messed up. We all do it and it never ceases to be really frustrating when it happens. Remember how last post I mentioned for my next block I was going to try glue basting? Well, I used the wrong glue and now the block is ruined.

The book I have been basing my entire applique experience from, Simply Successful Applique, recommends Elmer's glue. You just put  a dot or two on the back of your piece to hold it to the background while you stitch it down. There is less distortion and shifting than you get when you use pins.

Well, I didn't have any Elmer's glue available and I didn't feel like making a special trip to the store.

Here is what I did have: Mod podge.

Now it says on the front that it is water-based, so I just crossed my fingers and figured it would work. And it did work! The glue was so much better than pins at holding the pieces together, and made the 40+ pieces in this block come together quite quickly.

However, as I am sure you have guessed, it does not actually wash out. And when it dries it is as solid as a rock. So now my block is stiff as a board and has some glue exposed in a few spots where I was a bit sloppy.
Those shadows are glue stains

I went through a couple of stages on this (suspiciously like the stages of grief...)

Denial: I wet the entire thing twice because I figured "maybe I didn't get it wet enough the first time."

Anger: What the hell mod podge??? Also I am pretty mad at myself because I should have known better. Or at least done a  little more research on whether it would wash out. Or been less lazy and just picked up some Elmer's glue at Walgreens.

See the glue stains on the light green leaf?

Bargaining: I debated for a while just including the darn thing, or thinking of other ways to salvage it. I think it's beyond repair though, it's seriously really stiff.

Depression: Yes, I am really bummed. As I mentioned, this block has 40+ pieces in it so it's not like I can whip out a replacement overnight. I'm also bummed because I loved using the glue so much! It was such a great technique!

Acceptance: I am not quite here yet. The plus sides of this are: 1) I used the wrong greens in the leaves so the block didn't look that great anyways, 2) I've been thinking of dumping a vegetable and switching in lettuce, so maybe cauliflower is the one to go.

So, we all make mistakes. This could have been averted with a little more time up front on a test block or just doing a simple google search, but let's be real.  I hate practicing on test blocks and I won't change my ways from this. So maybe the acceptance part is accepting that I am not perfect and I will definitely make mistakes like this in the future and that's okay.

In other news, I'm taking a little break from this project and tackling a few other UFO's for a few days, potentially even my evil, EVIL jacket project.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Veggie Applique Blocks

This week I went back to my veggie quilt and worked on my hand applique blocks. I finished two more:

Bell Peppers

...and tomatoes!

Apologies for the colors, my camera is doing something funky with oversaturating reds and I don't know why!

The parts I still struggle with are points and narrow pieces.  I just haven't figured out how to get the raw edges under when there is so little raw edge available in these narrow spots.

Here is a zoom of the flowers. See all those raw bits of fabric poking out? I don't have a good solution.

I have signed up for a hand applique class at my local quilt shop.  I am hoping to bring these blocks in and get some tips and advice!

Next up is the cauliflower block. I am trying something different and assembling some of the pieces to each other before I put them on the background. I am also trying glue basting instead of pin basting on this next block. So far, I am a fan!