August 31, 2011

My Favorite Marking Pen

I love this pen. It's a pink "air erasable" pen I'm using with my quilting templates. It's fabulous.

It makes a clear, bright line on the fabric, and after a while the color fades away on it's own. I started out with chalky-pencils, but those are a bit of a pain; the tips don't fit neatly in the slots of my templates and end up wearing down strangely. Not this tidy little pen! In the photo below, I've drawn a line on some turquoise fabric. Look at how clear the line is!

Of course, it doesn't really work on dark fabrics, but you can't have everything (where would you put it? Hahahaha).

The line I drew for the photo was still visible for about 40 minutes, but then faded. The temperature of the room can make a difference in how long it takes for the ink to fade. In winter, I quilt sitting in front of a wood-burning stove. The ink vanishes pretty fast under those conditions.

I first used the pen on Quilt 2 (the Ohio Star quilt). That was over a year ago, and only now is it running out of "juice"!

August 24, 2011

Quilt 13: Design - Julie's Table Runner

Dear friend Julie's birthday is coming up. I want to give her something very special. She's mad about Japanese prints and so... well... I hit the fat quarter table hard today and came away with these bits:
The leftmost fabric has Japanese characters drawn on a cream background. This will be used for the backing of the piece as well as the outer border (strip just inside the binding) on the front. The solid blue is for the binding. It doesn't perfectly match the chrysanthemum print next to it, but it was the closest I could find. The other fabrics, which are cream and gold, do match the colours perfectly. I think that as long as that blue and the chrysanthemum is seperated by the other fabrics, it should work out OK.

I've got 2 fat quarters of the chrysanthemum and one each of the three cream/gold fabrics on the right. That's not a lot of material, so this will have to be a small project.

No worries... I'll make a table runner! Here's the design I've come up with:

The finished size will be 13" x 56" - should be just about perfect for Julie's kitchen table!
And here's a closeup:

My quilt design software doesn't have exactly matching fabrics, so I've had to substitute a little as I played with the design. That's OK. I just selected 4 cream/gold "fabrics" from the software and then grabbed this cream/blue flower print you see above to represent the chrysthanthemum. It's not perfect, but it worked well enough to get the proportions of the different pieces set up and check (using the software's yardage estimator) that I haven't designed for more cream/gold than I've actually got.

Oh, and yes... if you happen to have noted the fiasco with Quilt 12, yes I am definitely NOT turning my back on the fabric estimator or the "rotary cutting instructions" function.

August 17, 2011

Quilt 12: and Julie sez...

Had lunch with Julie today, and took along the placemats to show her. She loved the design and colours, but observed that the first person to spill red wine or beetroot on them is probably going to die a horrible death.

She's right, of course. Julie is always right...

August 10, 2011

Quilt 12: Oh, NoooOOOo!!!!

When I started Quilt 12 - the placemats - I pulled up my quilt design software and used it to come up with an overall design for the mats. Once I had a basic design, I went to the "rotary cutting instructions" function and noted that each of the nine-patch squares should be 2.5" square.

"Well!" I thought - "That's the easiest-possible scenario, because I can use my binding template to cut the squares!" I had those 2.5" x 2.5" squares cut out in no time!

Now... Okay... I should have realized that 6 nine-patch blocks, with the 9 squares in each block being 2" across (the missing half inch accounts for seam allowances of 1/4") would be, well, way too big. But my brain was shut off. I trust this stupid software way too much.

I cut out the squares, assembled the blocks and then... realized... oh, groan...
These placemats are going to be HUGE!

What went wrong? Well... when you start a new quilt project in the software, you tell it how big you want the blocks to be - in inches. I'd specified 4-inch blocks. All goes well until you look at the fabric estimator and the "rotary cutting instructions" - if you go to those functions and don't AGAIN specify 4-inch blocks, you get fabric estimates and cutting instructions assuming 6-inch blocks.

Do the math with me here...:
  • 3 blocks across (6" each) = 18".
  • 2 blocks down (6") = 12"
  • Add sashing (bands of fabric between the blocks) 2" wide, one on top, one on the bottom, one between the block rows, 1 each between the horizontal blocks. That gets us to 6" vertically, 8" horizontally.
  • Add half an inch for binding on all sides (which means an inch horizontal and an inch vertical).
Results So Far:
Horizontal: 27"
Vertical: 19"

No, no, NO! I wanted placemats of 16" x 13". What I've got happening here, however, would be big enough for King Kong.

Time go get creative.

I can take an 1.25 inches off each side. That's better.. And, actually... the nine-patch blocks look a little more interesting with the different squares no longer being perfectly "square".

I took all those cutaway side pieces and stitched them into a long strip, which I'll use as a kind of "binding" around the coordinating knapkins:
At this point I also realized that I had enough of the blue fabric to make a small lattice between the nine-patch blocks. I just plain monkeyed around with the design and changed it completely on the fly. I'm delighted with the results:

I've got more than enough of the patchwork stripping for the knapkin binding, so I decided to stitch together the other leftovers into a single large mat - which my friend can use as a table trivet:


It was another painful lesson, but in the end I think the placemat design I've got now is better than the original.

August 3, 2011

Quilt 12: Design for Egyptian Placemats

Sister/Friend Janelle is about to marry her "Prince Charming". She's a wonderful woman who deserved her happily-ever-after and I couldn't be more delighted. I want to give her something special as a wedding present.

On a recent trip to one of my favorite stores, I saw some fat quarters with prints inspired by ancient Egyptian colours and designs. Knowing Janelle is mad for anything connected with ancient Egypt, I grabbed those quarters and enough coordinating bits to make a set of four placemats and napkins.

Here are the prints:

The blue-with-stars (on top) and the Egyptian-inspired stripes were the ones that first caught my eye. The three fabrics to the right coordinate with the colours in the stripe. The fabric underneath the quarters (the reddish-brown) will be used for binding and for the knapkins.

I pulled out my quilt design software and came up with this:

This will be my first nine-patch quilt project.

Anytime you buy fabric before you have a design (and measurements) it's a risk. Naturally I found that I came up short on 3 of the fat-quarters. There's plenty of the strip, plenty of the turquoise, but after I cut out the squares I found I needed 24 more squares (8 each of the gold and two maroon fabrics). Not a problem! I cut 24 squares from my binding/knapkin fabric and have worked them into the design. The placemats won't match each other perfectly, but a little bit of individuality won't hurt.

To keep it all straight, I've stacked the squares for each placemat separately:
All set! I'll get the blocks put together and will cut the "lattice" strips afterward.