Friday, August 11, 2017

Farmer's Wife Block No. 6, Big Dipper

I snuck off to my studio yesterday for just long enough to make ONE little 6" quilt block.  It has been a hectic week, so I am calling this a win!

Farmer's Wife Block No. 6, Big Dipper
This is another of those 6" sampler blocks that I've been working on intermittently.  Some of the blocks, like this one, are from the original 1920's Farmer's Wife Sampler book by Laurie Aaron Hird, some are from her 1930's sequel book, and then I started just making other random 6" blocks to mix in.  In the midst of my other really slow-going projects, it just feels like a treat to pick out ONE block design, select fabric for that one block, cut it up and sew it back together again, and then stick it in the box with the others.

Traditional Piecing on my Vintage Featherweight Machine
Many of my sampler blocks have been paper pieced, but this one was a pretty straightforward candidate for rotary cutting and traditional machine piecing.  I used my 1935 Singer Featherweight with the original multipurpose presser foot and vintage Singer Cloth Guide screwed to the bed, shown above.  I have tried just about every aftermarket generic 1/4" foot out there, and this is still my favorite way to achieve accurate piecing on this machine.  The original foot is a solid fit with NO wiggle and NO play, precisely aligned with the narrow feed dogs on this straight stitch machine.  Once I have the seam guide positioned where the raw edge of my fabric needs to hit for that 1/4" seam, it stays firmly in place where I've planted it, despite the machine's vibrations.  And I just leave the cloth guide installed on this machine, so every time I take it down, it's ready to go for perfect piecing.

Spiraled Center Seam
I opted to pop the seam allowance CAREFULLY at the intersection of each QST (Quarter Square Triangle) unit so I could spiral my seam allowances around the block, reducing bulk, and I did that at the very center of the block as well, once I had joined all four QST units together.

The Newest Block, About to Join My Other 6" Sampler Blocks in the Project Box
As you can see, my fabric choices are quite different from the ones shown in the book.  That's part of the fun for me, Supreme Fabric Nerd that I am -- I like those bright colors, wild prints, and picking things that turn a block that bores me into a block that makes me happy.  I used one 2 1/2" jelly roll strip of the black and purple Kaffe Fassett print to cut the 8 QSTs for this block, and then selected the pink striated batik and similar-looking blue tonal print to draw out the accent colors in the KF print.  

Not the Most Exciting Block, But It Will Play Nicely With the Others!
Meanwhile, I started in on two other ginormous pineapple log cabin blocks, bought a few more Accuquilt GO! dies for other projects, FINALLY scheduled my longarm training with my dealer, and have been brainstorming about how to quilt my class sample project in a way that will be achievable for beginner students, but not too boring...  Hopefully now that I have a plan, I may be able to get that done over the weekend.  

Today I'm linking up with:

·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at

·       Off the Wall Friday at Creations: 

·       Finished Or Not Friday at
Happy Stitching, everyone!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ta-Da! The MonsterNormous Sample Quilt Is Finished!

King Sized Practice Quilt, Off the Frame and Onto a Bed!
I am SO HAPPY to report that my first attempt at longarm quilting is finished and off my frame.  You may recall that I bought a package of 120" x 120" king sized batting, pieced three lengths of brightly colored fabrics together for the top, and then used plain extra wide muslin for the backing.  In the above photo, you're looking at the back of my practice quilt.  It doesn't look half bad from a distance, especially for a first try, does it?  Even the pantograph looks better from the back, where the thread matches instead of contrasting, and viewed from a distance.  That's encouraging!

I did attempt to quilt a second row of that pantograph, and although there was a bit of improvement, I really didn't enjoy it.  I like seeing the stitches and the texture form on the surface of the quilt while I'm working on it from the front of the machine.  Really, if I wanted to stitch lots of intricate allover quilting designs and have them all come out perfectly without having to practice and fret and work from the back of the machine, a computer robotics system like Intelliquilter would be the way to go.   But I don't envision a whole lot of edge to edge designs going on any of my own quilts, and meanwhile, I've got lots more practice and play that I can do with free motion and with rulers.

Smooth Freehand Quilting from Front of Machine
Once I felt that I had punished myself sufficiently with the pantograph, I went back to working freehand from the front of the machine and experimented with some larger scale shapes similar to what was in the Pernicious Pantograph, as you can see above.

My Jerky Stitching Lines, Trying to Follow Pantograph from Back of Machine
See what I mean?  I almost feel like I'd be better off marking the pantograph design right on top of my quilt with a stencil and then quilting over the lines from the front of the machine.

Backing Shot of Freehand Practice
Anyway, especially looking at my quilting from the back side, where it's white bobbin thread against an off-white fabric, I'm feeling pretty good about this.  It's no masterpiece, but it's not the ugliest quilting I've ever seen, either.  It's not nearly as bad as my initial attempts to free motion quilt on a domestic sewing machine!  There are at least half a dozen different fill patterns there that look good enough to go on a real quilt, and I think that once I DO quilt them on a real quilt, with piecing lines and applique organizing the space and giving me reference points, it should come out even better.

So, YIPPEE SKIPPY!!  Onwards and upwards!

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