2019 Finish-A-Long Q2 Nomination

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For the second quarter of 2019, I’m nominating a larger project (but still only one). As usual, I’m linking through Sandra of Sew Of Course in Ireland.

En Bourgogne top
En Bourgogne top

This project is only eighteen months old so it barely qualifies as a UFO in my book, but I’m going to finish it off anyway.

In November 2016, Bonnie Hunter launched her annual mystery quilt, En Provence. The palette for this project was based on the lavendar farms in southern France — lavendar, purple, magenta, green and yellow. I love the palette and was very tempted to do the mystery but decided to wait until I saw the completed top. I’m glad I did, as I didn’t like the balance of colours in Bonnie’s quilt — too heavy on the dark purple and magenta for my taste.

As the year progressed, I saw other versions in different colourways and liked them better than the original. This top by Melinda Shackelford was in brown and green, and it was the one that convinced me I could make this quilt. I decided to do a version in caramel, brown, green and burgundy (hence the name change). Several times during the year I made notes and calculated fabric requirements.

En Bourgogne Block A
En Bourgogne Block A
En Bourgogne Block B
En Bourgogne Block B
En Bourgogne Block C
En Bourgogne Block C

I changed the quilt’s construction, too — Bonnie made it up as a 15″ block with 3″ pieced sashing, but I loathe pieced sashing and I saw that it could be made as three different 9″ blocks instead. I replaced the tall triangle unit with a quarter square triangle in Block B (which reduced the curve along the brown diagonals), and I used print squares instead of neutral four-patches.

I started cutting and sewing units in early October 2017. I used fabrics from my stash, ranging from greens and caramels that had been bought in 2017 all the way back to a crimson poplin which was so old it was 36″ wide (early 90s) and a dark brown print that had been used in Autum Mood (1988). I was in no hurry, and I gave myself permission to make mistakes because I wanted this quilt to be about enjoying the process rather than making a perfect project — I had spent too much time with deadlines during the year and was feeling the grind.

The method I used for the quarter-square triangles required pressing to one side rather than open, and consequently I decided to press to one side for the whole quilt. Unfortunately this made for some very bulky areas in the seams, and served to reinforce my preference for open seams.

As my AHQ commitments died down I spent more and more time on it, and towards the end I was working several hours a day. I finished setting the blocks together on 30 November. I knew that it needed a border or two, since the size (81″ square) was a little small for a queen bed, but I couldn’t decide on what fabrics to use, so it languished in a box for eighteen months.

For my FAL goal, I’m going to add two borders to the top, then quilt it. I’ve chosen the fabric for the first border (shown in the photo) but I’m still not sure about the second.

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The perils of writing one’s own pattern

I had a little spare time this afternoon after finishing an Aussie Heroes quilt and I had black thread in the machine from the quilt’s binding, so I decided to make one of the Oriental Stained Glass blocks I had cut out. In the process, I discovered that I had somehow managed to add twice the seam allowance to the black sashing strips — they were supposed to be 1″ finished / 1.5″ cut, and that’s what it says on the spreadsheet and at the top of my notes page. However, further down, when I wrote the cutting instructions, I had somehow forgotten that and wrote that the strips were to be cut at 2″, finishing at 1.5″. Yikes.

83 two-inch strips of black fabric
83 @ 2-inch strips

See all those 83 strips? Every single one of them is half an inch too wide. I wasted more than a whole metre of fabric because I didn’t check my own work. So stupid. Still, the lengths are all correct and all of the oriental fabrics are cut the right size, so it’s not a complete disaster, just intensely frustrating.

There’s nothing for it but to trim all the sashes if I want to make this quilt — I decided to do it block by block as I sew them together rather than trying to do a lot at once.

Trimmings from Oriental Stained Glass Block A1
Trimmings

In spite of the mistake, I’m very pleased with how well the first block turned out:

Oriental Stained Glass Block A1
Oriental Stained Glass Block A1

My design inspiration was the Stained Glass Quilt designed by Bob (which luckily survived the Craftsy/Bluprint purge) but I changed the proportions and designed an alternate block to increase the variety:

Oriental Stained Glass Block A design
Oriental Stained Glass Block A design
Oriental Stained Glass Block B design
Oriental Stained Glass Block B design

Even with the additional trimming (and a couple of unsewing sessions when I sewed the sashing to the wrong edge) it didn’t take long to make a block so I’ll try and do one a week until the top’s done, and then it may feature in a future Finish-A-Long post.

2019 Finish-A-Long Q1 Finish

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Welcome to my first completed project for the 2019 FAL. I’m linking up through Sew Of Course in Ireland.

I only nominated one project in January: this 25-year-old tumbling blocks miniature.

tumbling blocks top

Stream pattern by Sara Nephew
Stream pattern by Sara Nephew

Piecing was done in 1994 in a workshop with Sara Nephew at the Australasian Quilt Convention. This particular design is called “Stream”, and features three different heights for the blocks, making a sinuous curve rather than a straight line.

I did all the in-the-ditch stitching with MonoPoly clear thread in the needle and Invisafil 100 wt polyester in the bobbin, and had no issues once I’d adjusted the bobbin tension. I intended to practice my ruler quilting using the same threads, but unfortunately I had significant problems with the ruler foot not permitting any fabric movement. I’m not sure if it was connected to the timing issues I discovered last week but I don’t think so. When I have some free time I’ll make up another sandwich and see what I can do with normal thread.

Fabric bunched up in front of the ruler foot
Ruler foot problems 1

I eventually decided to do a little more quilting in the largest blocks with the walking foot, which went well but I don’t need any more walking foot practice. I also considered doing free motion quilting in the “top” diamonds, to hide the seam allowance, but I ran out of time due to issues with another quilt. There’s enough quilting to hold all the layers together and it’s destined to cover the cutting mat or to cushion cat bottoms, so I decided that enough was enough and put the binding on.

Tumbling Blocks binding front
Tumbling Blocks binding front

As you can see, matching points with binding is not a skill I have mastered yet (which is why I usually add a border, even it’s only a narrow one). To be fair, though, my piecing wasn’t exactly great either, and seams were pressed to one side rather than open, resulting in some bulky intersections and a rather less-than-square top. If I had pieced it this year I think I would have done a better job.

Tumbling Blocks mini back
Tumbling Blocks mini back

The backing is a very old Cranston VIP print, roughly the same age as the top. I didn’t set the top squarely on the backing, as you can see, but then the top isn’t quite square anyway so I’m not fussed. I didn’t have any of the original dark green solid left, but I had another that works well, and in fact is an almost exact match for the green in the backing fabric.

Tumbling Blocks binding back
Tumbling Blocks binding back

The binding was stitched down by hand using Superior Threads Kimono 100 wt silk thread. I love using this thread for appliqué and binding — it seems to melt into the fabric and is barely visible even in close-up.

Tumbling Blocks mini finished
Tumbling Blocks mini finished

Name: Tumbling Blocks
Size: 80 x 80 cm (31.5″ x 31.5″)
Design: Stream (tumbling blocks variation) by Sara Nephew
Fabric: Cotton
Batting: Matilda’s Own 100% cotton
Pieced: 1994 by machine (Janome MemoryCraft 8000)
Quilted: January-March 2019 by machine (Janome HMC 9400 QCP)
Bound: April 2019

Lessons Learned:
1. Seam allowances matter!
2. Pressing to one side causes too much variation in thickness and contributes to uneven edges.
3. It’s hard to attach a binding to a pieced edge.

March Achievements and April goals

As usual, my monthly goals were divided into Aussie Heroes, Personal and the 2019 Finish-A-Long.

1. AHQ: make two quilts: Done. One was posted this morning, the other is in the wash and will be posted tomorrow. Pictures will be on the AHQ blog sometime.

2. Personal: none set for last month.

3. FAL: Bind the tumbling blocks mini: Almost done. I’ll post pictures and details later this week during the Q1 FAL round-up.

Additional work:

I finally got around to cutting the black sashing for my Oriental Stained Glass quilt (I cut the oriental fabrics in January). Vanima “helped”.

83 two-inch strips of black fabric
83 @ 2-inch strips
Sashing strips bagged
OSG sashing strips
Vanima lying on cutting table
Vanima “helping” me to cut fabric

I also finished tier 3 of the Penrose tile quilt I’m doing — I posted about that here. I’ve started work on the next section but I doubt I’ll get very far before the cold weather sets in and I can start quilting Penrose 1 (the quilt in the header).

Finally, I made 15 appliqué heart blocks and sent them off to New Zealand (details here).

April goals

1. AHQ: One quilt and bag for a recipient in the Middle East. I also want to make some laundry bags for Townsville — many ADF members lost their quilts and laundry bags along with everything else during the monsoon floods in January — we can’t replace everything but we are doing our best to get everyone a new laundry bag.

2. Personal: the final two (out of twenty) Hawaiian appliqué blocks.

3. FAL: to be determined (I think I know which project I’ll choose, but I might change my mind).