Julie Finds the Fabric

As you know, I used this Flea Market Fancy fabric by Denyse Schmidt for one of the Teacher Pillows. I used all that I had and decided I wanted more, so I could include some in the Chocolate Box quilt. Lazily I looked online. As I searched and didn’t find, I began to worry that I wouldn’t find any. I searched harder. I found a piece on eBay and bid, but someone else wanted the piece, too and bid at the last minute while I was at work, so I lost. St. JCN looked in Seattle, but no joy there either. I e-mailed various local shops to see if they had it, also to no avail. As I had less success, I became more desperate. Finally, after no success locally, I put out a call on a list of which I am a member and people around the country began looking for me, too.

Success!!! Julie over at High Fiber Content and good friend found it! Hooray. Read about her fabulous adventure looking for this fabric. She doesn’t have a permalink, so scroll to May 10, 2007. Since the great search ended I have been casually looking and this particular fabric just seems to be gone. Weird.

Teacher Pillow Success

First, some inspiration. I was inspired by Yarnstorm’s photos, so I took my camera with me yesterday and snapped a pic of these roses in my neighbor’s yard.

Now on to the Teacher Pillows.

They are done except for the hand stitching. I am thrilled that I survived. It is always touch and go at the beginning!

Above is the principal’s pillow. St.JCN said the violet was inspired. I thought so and am glad someone agreed. I saw the quilt that inspired the violet yesterday as it scrolled across the screen in my screensaver. I will post it here, if I find it again.

Above is the Assistant Principal’s pillow. I actually think this one came out the best of them all. I think having enough fabric to use on the back is key. I will try to remember that for next year.

Pineapple blocks 11 & 12 are also done. They don’t fit on the design wall properly with all the others so #12 is hanging off. I think they look nice and cheerful. Not so dark as 9 & 10.

And now for a tip. I used the Jacquard fabric (see example in circle above) that you can run through your printer for quilt labels and for the drawings for the back of the pillows. It works because there is paper stuck to the back of the fabric that helps get it through the printer. You have to peel off the paper before you sew. (I suppose you could leave it on, but I don’t) This product works pretty well, except that if you try to sew through it when the wrong side is facing up, it gums up the needle and the stitches get really small. Normally I try to sew with it on the bottom. Today, I wasn’t able to sew with the printer fabric on the bottom for some reason that I don’t remember now. I sewed through it and immediately got stopped. I had a brainwave when I saw a pile of tissue paper. The arrow in the picture is pointing to the tissue paper I put over the Jacquard fabric just along the seam allowance. It worked like a charm. No sticking needle resulting in ugly stitches. I always press this printer fabric with a piece of clean, white printer/copier paper under the sticky part. I don’t let the sticky part touch the iron or my ironing board cover.

This Week’s Progress

If you don’t have time to read much today, here’s the short version: not much.

If you do have time to read the entire post today, the long version follows. 😉

Not sure why, but this week seems to have been especially busy. I think I may have accomplished a lot in the realm of quiltmaking and it just may not feel like a lot. Somehow not working on my own project and working on gifts doesn’t feel much like I am making progress. Perhaps, it is just that I am not making progress on my color studies or on my UFO list?

I wanted to put a small border on the above pillow for the Principal, but I was kind of stymied for what color. I originally thought of a strip of white piping, but decided I didn’t want to deal with making one. St. JCN, in all her wisdom, suggested a white strip, but, somehow, that didn’t seem right. As I was drifting off to sleep one night, the little voice in my head whispered: Violet. GREAT! I tried it (see above) and thought it looked good.

The reason I wanted a small border was so that the green border would not “bleed” into the green block. The violet seems to clearly define the block. I am pleased with how it worked out.

I also put a few more rows on to Pineapple blocks 11 & 12. They are getting there. 3 more colored rounds to go. I have the background strips cut for the next round, but haven’t sewed them yet.

Special Whine Redux
Earlier this week, as you probably noticed, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and the state of my pictures. I went back and looked at Yarnstorm‘s post called Square Dance and the photos she included. I realized that while her photos are totally fabulous, one thing about how she structured this post is that she put up her inspiration and then showed the quilt that came out of it. I really liked that. As a brief aside, I like the quilt-to-be she shows, because it is simple, but not boring. She is working with color in a way that I have been trying to do lately (see Thoughts on Dots and some of the other square pieces I was working on last year). She has done a fabulous job with blues, something that I greatly admire.

The other thing about Yarnstorm’s pictures is she has a great eye and she crops very well.

So, I will stop whining, crop my pictures and keep working!

Teacher Pillows – No Torment

Despite the fact that I still can’t measure, 3 of the Teacher Pillows are close to completion. The machine stitching is complete and I only have some final hand stitching to do on them and, voila, fini!

I thought to myself this morning that I should be able to finish three. I am not sure I really wanted to buckle down and do that many, but it got stuck in my head and here I am.

I don’t normally sew during the week, but I did some stitching on Friday afternoon. I was very slow and deliberate and not out to accomplish a lot. I just wanted to make some progress, no matter how little. I think that short session got me to the point where I could put three pillow covers together today.

Teacher Pillow – Front: I am really pleased with the way this front came out. I was not that thrilled with the Economy Patch that the child chose, but piecing more of the design in a smaller format really made it look good. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the Flea Market Fancy fabric out of which I made this front.

Teacher Pillow – Back: I am not so enamoured of the back. I ran out of the flower fabric I used for the front and grabbed these fabrics. I didn’t just grab the blue randomly, but I am not sure why I chose it. My SIL came over and suggested yellow or pink (well, DUH! Why didn’t I think of that?), so I added the yellow to the outside. The back isn’t great, but done is better than perfect and, hopefully, she won’t look too much at the back.

The variety of colors, however, illustrate the way I made the back. I made two squares and then added a bit of extra fabric to the top of the front, hemmed it and folded it over. I will hand stitch down the folded over part.

Aide Pillow – Front: I sewed this one last (for the day) and it came out the best. It is small enough so the pillow form fills the entire cover.

Aide Pillow – Back

Resource Teacher Pillow – Front: the red, yellow and green color scheme has always been very appealing to me. I am pleased with the way this one came out although the pillow form doesn’t fill up the cover. C’est la vie.

Resource Teacher Pillow – Back: I had extra space on the drawing, so I added a photo. All the drawings and labels were scanned and printed on an inkjet printer.

The above photos show the different borders I tried for t he Aide pillow. It kind of gives you an idea of my process.

Not trying to make the envelope style pillow cover has been a big help. I have to say that I am still not sure what the right way to make pillows are and, as a result, I am wasting a lot of fabric. Part of hte issue is piecing the back using the drawings. For some reason that step adds enough of a wrinkle to make the project complicated. What I really need is a book like Around the Block that says how to make a pillow cover if you have a certain sized pillow form. Perhaps C&T will add such a book to their “Fast, Fun & Easy” series? That is one “Fast, Fun & Easy” tha I would buy.

Still, it makes me feel good to spread some quiltmaking and sewing out into the world.

Kaffe Fassett Confusion

While buying the Pokemon Diamond game guide for the child, I couldn’t help tossing a quilt book for myself into the virtual cart. Both books arrived earlier this week. In a lame attempt to avoid work, I started reading Kaffe Fassett’s Quilt Road.

The Good: gorgeous fabrics, wonderful designs
The Bad: The fabrics are only shown in the quilts and referred to extensively as if there were a chart of the fabrics laid out on a page of the book, which there isn’t. After the first page, the text becomes very confusing.
The UGLY: I get the distinct impression Kaffe was just trying to churn out another book to coinccide with the new line of [mystery] fabrics. I dislike intensely ‘cheap dates’ and this book is not up to the others in terms of content and careful editing.

Still, I like this book, because the quilts are happy. He really has a way with those large and vibrant prints. My favorite part of the text is where Kaffe says “…which come from a wonderful antique book of 19th century book [sic] of French prints that we purchased at a textile fair in New York.” Even, though the editing is bad, this comment reminds me to get inspiration from other media and what I see around me.

The quilt designs, and this is mostly a pattern book, range widely and have a lot of styles that I enjoy: big blocks that show off the fabric, mosaic floor tile looking quilts, machine applique and some innovative ways of using simply shaped pieces.

One of my favorite quilts is Wallpaper Strips Quilt by Kaffe Fassett. You can see a picture of it (gorgeous picture, but not showing the whole quilt) over at Yarnstorm. She also has some fab flower photos, BTW. the quilt pattern is simply a bunch of strips lined up and sewn together randomly, then put next to each other and sewn together again. I decided that I will do this with the leftover dot strips once I am done with the Pineapple. Why not? Much better than having a bunch of 1.75″ strips laying around.

I also like the Crosses Quilt, which is made from 9patches, but colored in such a way that tic-tac-toe like crosses stand out. This artist has a view that will show you what I mean. Very clever!

Between this book and the Flowering Snowball (Cross Block), I looked at the Hancock’s catalog in a whole new way today. Those big 1960s style prints were just screaming at me. I resisted, because I would have to buy a boatload of them when I could really be happy with a large packet of 6″ squares. Still, it amazes what looking at something will do to how I see things.

Note from 5/26/2007: I found this link for the Lilies fabrics and the Lille collection here.

Teacher Pillow Torment

I finished piecing all of the blocks, which is great. Above are the block for the Principal and the Assistant Principal, who are both retiring. It is the same block, but Around the Block shows it separately with different names, apparently because the colors go in different places.

My next problem is borders. I made 12″ blocks and bought 14″ pilow forms (aside from the fact that Around the Block does not cover 14″ blocks, what was I thinking???**). As a result, I need to add borders in order to increase the overall size of the blocks. Above is a possible border for the Asst. Principal’s block. It wasn’t my idea, but I like it. It really sets off the cross.

This is what I have already added to the Resource Teacher’s block. I love the dots; they are cheerful (raise your hand if you knew that was coming!).

The good is that part of the back is done. The bad, however, is that now the torment starts. For some reason, I was unable to measure once I got past making the blocks. I wanted to add 3″ borders to the Resource Teacher (RT) block. I got one side that was 3″, two sides at 4″ and one side at 2 7/8″ HUH? I don’t know what is going on with me and this project. As I detailed my sad tale of woe to St. JCN, she said that I had to make this my last year of making Teacher Pillows and if I didn’t she would torment me next year! Dear me! I don’t know what I will do next year, but I have been warned.

Part of what I am doing is trying to get it right: be able to make these in my sleep. It doesn’t seem to be happening and maybe St. JCN is correct in that I should go out in a blaze of glory with these five pillows. We’ll see.

I am taking the week off and then will work on these on Sunday.

**Actually I was thinking about how many extra borders I had to add last year so I wanted to make sure I had enough slack to cut off, if I need it.

I Guess I Do Have a Project

I have been feeling sort of at loose ends since I finished my various projects and took them to the quilter. I can’t decide if I should start the Chocolate Box quilt or just putter around. It finally dawned on me that I do have a project: the Teacher Pillows!

I don’t know what I was thinking, but these Teacher Pillows have turned into a production. This year, I am making 5: 3 for the child’s teachers and one each for the principal and assistant principal, who are both retiring. The latter two are not expected and not as important IMO, though I would like to make the gesture. On the positive side, I decided to start early and make them so I could take my time. The blocks are almost all done, with a minimum of unsewing.

Teacher pillow. This one is done with the Denyse Schmidt fabrics and came out very well, if I do say so. I love the colors and can’t wait to work more with these fabrics.

Teacher aide pillow

Resource teacher pillow. I had to make sure I have enough fabric, because this teacher will be working with the child until 8th grade. She will have a set of pillows by the time the child graduates! I really hope she likes the colors we have chosen.

Principal pillow. The child calls her the Wizard of Oz.

Assistant principal pillow.

I went through two books to see how I could make the rest of the pillow covers so they don’t have Gap-osis in the back. I am thinking of slip stitching them shut so I don’t have to worry about it. The recipients wouldn’t be able to wash the covers, though.

And on other fronts….

The fabric from eQuilter arrived. More dots!

I also worked a bit on the Flowering Snowball (Cross Block). Here is my first test of the new template and some fun [Denyse Schmidt] fabrics. I have since cut a lot of the corner pieces. I cut a piece whenever I have a piece of fabric out. I really need to get some more whites.

This is my wreck of a design wall. There are pieces of fabric and blocks everywhere. The little progress I made on the Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowball) is in the lower left corner. The blocks for the Teacher Pillows are stacked and pinned to the design wall (lower middle). I have no more space and am seriously thinking about what I can do to expand this space. First, I will move the Pineapple blocks up a few inches. That should help. Second, I will finish these Teacher Pillows, which should give me some breathing room. Something must be done, though, as this kind of design wall makes me crazy. I can’t think when it is so full.

Stars in Alignment

For once, the stars were in alignment which made my technology work and me able to solve my template problem. As I mentioned, I was unable to locate my original EQ file. It has disappeared from my computer or was saved to such a weird location that I will only be able to find it by stumbling across it when I am looking for something else.

Since I had been researching the Cross Block’s real name, Flowering Snowball, I had found EQ’s version of the block in their database and had saved it to EQ6. I decided to try and print templates from their block to see if it would work with the piecing I have already done.

There were a lot of ifs in this litle escapade. Since my printer was moved down to the laundry room, I haven’t been able to print from my computer. I thought I would need to get some boosters for my wireless network before printing would work again. In the meantime I have been saving to a flash drive, running downstairs and printing that way.

I forgot to change the printer to PDF and printed out templates in the correct size. I didn’t get an error message and that surprised me, so I went to the printer and, lo and behold, there was a template printout waiting there! What luck.

Daring not to hope that this could work, I went back to my work table, hauled out the other templates I have been using and measured the corner template against the printout. Yippee! The size was perfect! I was in business.

I made the template and cut out a couple of the middle squares and sewed them to a couple of the corner pieces as a test. All worked perfectly!

A Variety of Quiltmaking

Here are some Flowering Snowball blocks (Cross Block) in progress. Some of them you have seen before (many times?), but I put the new fragments with them to see how the piece can get away from the murky look. I felt it was a bit murky with the chocolate in the striped fabric and that particular orange.

I have lost the middle template for this block, which is holding up progress a bit. I looked at my EQ6 files and can’t find the project file, which means I have to recreate it somehow. I can cut most of the pieces and sew the corners to the middles, but at some point I have to deal with the loss of that template.

These are the fabrics from BatkisPlus and Quiltfabrics.com. I think that the batik on the right is the same one I used on Sharon’s quilt.

Here are Pineapple blocks 9 & 10. They are the first one using my new system of organzing the strips. I can’t really see much difference, except, perhaps, that these blocks are a bit darker. I think it was the way the strips fell. In the last rows I skipped over the dark blues and stuck with turquoise.

Flowering Snowball (was Cross Block)

I am a researcher at heart. After Sarah started my mind spinning quickly, Leslie just added to the melee in my head about the real name of the Cross Block. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I started rummaging around in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and the Kansas City Star books to see if I could find the block. I hadn’t gotten very far when I decided to e-mail the AQSG list and see what they had to say. They found both blocks (mine and Leslie’s grandma’s) right away.

According to Barbara Brackman my block is called Flowering Snowball (#3081 in the numbering system of BB’s book). It is from Aunt Kate and has the reference 7/65 next to it. Accordng to BB, Aunt Kate’s Quilting Bee was published between July 1962 and July 1967. In is part of Pattern Category #16: Nine X.

The block that Sarah found and Leslie’s grandma made are Raliegh from Hearth and Home OR Tennesse Circles from Prairie Farmer, Bk.1, 1931 (#3083). There is another one (#3084) that is exactly like Raliegh from Hearth and Home with slightly fatter proportions called The Royal (Ladies Art Company #282) OR Grecian Cross from Rural New Yorker 5/23/31 OR [ta da!] Royal Cross from Carrie Hall.

I saw this picture of ladies working on a Cross Block/Flowering Snowball quilt. It is really the only piture of this block in a quilt on the web, though there is a ClubEQ project that includes the Flowering Snowball (Cross Block) block in it.

I am thrilled and I’d like to know more, but thanks for starting me on the journey!

Handing Out Medals

When a person needs a fabric fix, a person needs a fabric fix and here is no getting around it. I went on a small fabric buying binge this weekend in order to get my fix.

Fast Threads should be given a medal for the quickest service. I ordered fabric from them on Friday and here it was on my doorstep today. I found them through the Quiltshops.com search engine. I was looking for some new dots to add interest to the Pineapple. That project makes me feel cheerful, but it certainly is a fabric hog. Not in amounts, but in variety.

On Saturday, I stopped at Black Cat to get some rotary cutter blades and found 3 background fabrics for the Pineapple. The one on the right I already had, but think it will be useful in another dot quilt I have planned, so I bought some more.

Seams Sew Right
quilt shop, also on Quiltshops.com search engine, is in medal contention as well. I only got two fabrics from them, but probably should have gotten more of the background dot. Nothing stopping me, I suppose. I love the purple with the white dots and will probably have enough to choke a horse eventually. I like their tag line: the Quilter’s Candy Store. The dots sure look like candy!

I also bought some fabrics from eQuilter yesterday, but haven’t received them yet. One black on white I really liked is out of stock. Oh well. It sat too long on my wish list.

Cross Block and Royal Cross

The research of the real name of the Cross Block started with a stray comment I made on a list saying I wondered what the real name of my block was.

That sent Sarah on a frenzy of Googling, where she found that the Library of Congress has quilt photo called Royal Cross that has similar bones to the Cross Block. Sarah also found that Tazzie has a pattern for the Royal Cross.

Then Leslie chimed in with the sudden realization that she had a quilt from her Grandma in this [Royal Cross] pattern. She posted the pics, which I have reproduced here.

Full quilt


Comparison between the Royal Cross and the Cross Block.

Blocks are constantly modified to suit the needs of the maker and I am sure that these blocks are no exception. My block and the Royal Cross look similar in the middle, but the outside of the Royal Cross looks like it is meant to draw attention to those squares in the corner. I can’t say much about that as I went on and on in one post about the center of this, among other patterns, not actually being the center. I’ll have to look through the Barbara Brackman book and the Kansas City Star books and see what I can find. If all else fails I’ll post a picture on the AQSG Yahoogroup and start sending photos around to various quilt historians.

What to Do When you Win the Lottery

The lottery is up to $25 million, so I guess I didn’t win on last week’s ticket and will have to buy another one. If I had won, I would do the exact same thing that I did this weekend: sewing, visiting with quiltmaking friends, writing about quiltmaking and more sewing. I could have done without the proposal writing and the cold I have been fighting off, but you can’t have everything.

You may notice that these blocks look very like the blocks that JulieZS showed me on Wed. I looked the block up in Around the Block, a very useful book by Judy Hopkins from several years ago. I was sort of inspired to try the block, so I made the big one for Julie and the 2 6″ blocks for two different friendship quilts that someone requested. The small ones are smaller than I anticipated, but perhaps I will make a couple of more in order to fill in more space in those friendship quilts.

It was Mav-Week as well. In addition to seeing Julie, Mrs. K was in town, so we met over in Oakland and went to lunch at a nice little vegetarian place (excellent lemonade) down Washington and around the corner from the 10th Street convention center entrance. Mrs. K was visiting the Bead Expo. I thought about going, too, but decided to sew and try to shake the cold instead. Of course, she and Vicki had to show me their purchases and, among other things, Mrs. K had bought a strand of gorgeous millefiori (according to St. JCN) beads.

I had to have them. Mrs. K was kind enough to sell them to me and go back and get another set for herself. I am thrilled. Mrs. K puts them on the ends of the ties to her prayer boxes and I will have to find something equally fantastic to do with them. I hope you can get a sense of what they look like from the photos above.

As I mentioned, I also pressed the fabric that St. JCN sent me. I am quite proud of myself for not letting it languish for months unwashed and then pressing it right away. To add icing to the cake, I cut pieces out of the new fabrics as well: strips for the pineapple and corners for the Cross Block. Below are the corners for the Cross Blocks (perhaps called Royal Cross! More on THAT later) that I cut out of those fabrics.