Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lady of the Lake, remembering Sir Walter Scott

Block #31 is called Lady of the Lake. This is the title of a poem by Sir Walter Scott who was a contemporary of Jane Austen. Read the story of their interactions here.

The block bears some similarity with a couple of previous blocks but is a degree more difficult. Lots and lots of points to match. This is the block I spoke about in the previous blog. I had difficulty with a couple of the fabrics growing when I pressed them. I took at least half of the seams apart, repressed and resewed before coming up with this:

Even though it was frustrating and has taken a really long time to complete I can't say I'm not pleased in general with the final product.

If you're keeping track of the block numbers you will see that I got slightly out of sequence. I think I am back on track now. On to #32 Ladies Wreath.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PhD or UFO?

This might seem a strange question with no sensible answer unless you are an avid crafter/sewist/quilter. In these creative circles PhD is an acronym for "Project half done", and UFO is an "Unfinished Object."

Postings of new quilt blocks have been completed for the Austen Family Album Quilt. There have been some further postings concerning how some people are finishing their projects. If you are interested you should visit Barbara Brackman's blog here. I still have several blocks to make.

The latest one I finished is this one: Block 29 "Lend and Borrow." Not overly horrible if you really pay attention.

I'm currently working on the block called " Lady of the Lake." It is quite similar, but made more difficult because two of my fabrics have the unfortunate tendency to grow a bit with sewing and pressing. So, when I tried to put it all together I found I couldn't and have needed to unsew two sections and repress, remeasure and square up. I haven't gotten back to the sewing machine.

I have a couple of friends who would say, just do it. Get 'er done. But I have always felt a need for a "want to" in times like these.

This is probably the watershed between Projects Half Done and those that remain Unfinished. I know in my heart that I need to continue and finish this project. On the other hand I cheer myself with the thought that I don't ever need to make another quilt.

Don't be shocked. I'm a garment sewist and this quilting gig was always an experiment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Caroline's Choice for Queen Caroline

Caroline was the second wife of George IV of England. This union was rife with scandal from the beginning and ended with her death just three weeks after the coronation. For more information about this part of British history, please visit Barbara Brackman's Blog, Austen Family Album here.

The construction of this block was fairly simple compared to some in this series and comprises four squares. Two are simple pinwheels and the other two I call hourglass blocks, though they may have another name I'm not familiar with.

The guidance for construction of the block suggested that the two colors of the hourglass should be of a light medium and a medium light value. My choice of fabrics (growing smaller all the time!) led me to this combination. I think more contrast would have been better. The photograph, despite my fiddling with it, wants to further blend the colors. The points are passably matched, so I've decided it's okay.

This is block #30, so six more to go!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Breaking the Log Jam

If I'm honest, I have to say I am well tired of this Austen Family Album Quilt project. If you have been following this blog, you will know that I have had my difficulties here and there with patchwork techniques I'd not been familiar with and with color choice and placement. I had finally managed to get to block #27 King's Crown for George III. There were difficulties with the measurements given on the blog, which our erstwhile blogger, Barbara Brackman did correct in a day or so. I had of course attempted the cut before I saw the correction, so had to re cut one piece. If you look at the examples in her blog, you will see that in my version I added another jewel to the crown.  As always if you are interested in finding out how the reign of George III affected the life and times of the Austens, please look here.

Next came Crossroads which tells the tale of Jane's acceptance at age 27 of a proposal of marriage from a 21 year-old Harris Bigg-Whither and what happened next. This blog entry describes much of the difficulty of finding a mate in this time in history.

This block as you can see involves the motif known as "Flying Geese." I've always liked the look if them but had never tried them. After getting this block cut I started the construction. That's when the log jam occurred. I sewed the triangles together in 12 little birds and then sewed one set of three together. Major Jam. It was quite uneven and crooked. I hated it and it sat in the sewing room for at least three weeks. More likely, a month. I kept thinking, if only this had been a paper piecing pattern. I knew I could have rocked it. Last week I gave drafting a paper pattern a try, but I already had the pieces cut. Theoretically I should have been able to make it work.

Today, after letting my brain work on the problem for quite a while I decided to mark where the seams should be after carefully measuring. It's not perfect, none of my blocks are, but I think it's a decent effort.

So, two more blocks down and there should be eight more to go. As my math is notoriously bad, I will consider this a good estimate and soldier on. Almost there really, considering where I've been. I have the next block cut and ready to sew. I have seen the blocks up to and including the one in yesterday's post (#36). Lots of triangles, the mention of an inset seam which I think is likely the dreaded Y-seam, renamed to sound less ominous. So a bit to go, but I must finish now that I've gotten this far, I think.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Never Fear, Dear Readers!

I have not abandoned my endeavors in completing this chronicle of the Austen Family Expressed in fiber art. I have merely fallen behind in my assignments. Again! I have not totally caught up, in fact a new block was posted yesterday, however I thought I would offer you this update just so you know it's still a going concern.

The next block in the series is titled Fanny's Favorite and commemorates the life of Jane's eldest niece, Frances Catherine Knight. If you are at all interested in learning more about the distinctions of "class" in Victorian England please read Barbara Brackman's post here.

The block itself is a bit complicated with lots and lots of little pieces. Here's how mine turned out:

Just the choosing of the colors and then cutting accurately took me a long time and if I had it to do over again... (I really doubt I ever will.)

So this road block has been surmounted. Onward and upward, another color choice conundrum. I've used up a lot of the lighter brighter colors in my collection which is causing some difficulty.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Hop Goes On!

Evelyn in the Cotswolds
If you remember from my post last Monday I invited my friend at "Evelyn in the Garden" to continue the Around the World Blog Hop with a little introduction to her creative world. She has made good her promise and her blog can be found here. Please visit. She is, compared to gray hairs like me, a relative newby to the creative sewing scene. Young. Fresh. Gotta love her.

I would have thought you were crazy if you had suggested to me when I was at University that I would be able to teach sewing using things like the "Chat" function on Facebook. That's how I assisted "Evelyn" in a recent project where she had stepped out and started sewing something she had researched on the Internet. She's in the UK, I'm in Florida. When we signed off I really felt we had visited together. It was great. Oh yes, she was able to make a present of her project to a friend.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Around The World Blog Hop

My friend Jean at All Points of the Compass has invited me to be a blogger in the Around The World Blog Hop. The discussion on tap is the creative process. I will be using some general questions to tell you about my experience.

1. What am I working on?

At the moment I am participating in a Quilt-Along. This block per week challenge has been running for 26 weeks so far and has 36 blocks total. The subject of the project is the family of Jane Austen.  Each week the blogger Barbara Brackman chooses a block and relates it's name to someone from the extended Austen family. She does a great deal of research and I've learned lots about the history and way of life of that era. The blocks have a wide range of difficulty level and I have learned so much by working each one out. Her blog is posted here. I post each block as it is finished here on this blog with a brief synopsis of the blogpost. I chose at the beginning to use fabrics I had collected while living in Japan; not silk, but cottons mostly in solids, stripes and woven patterns.

2. How does my work differ from others of it's genre?

My general background in sewing goes back to the days when I wanted new outfits for my doll. My father encouraged me and was really talented in being able to tell me how pieces should be cut and sewn together. He and my mother could both do embroidery. In the early Sixties I started taking Home Ec in Junior High School. Subsequently I majored in Home Economics Education at University. However I have always been primarily a garment sewer.

With reference to quilting in general I have to state at the outset that my experience as a "Quilter" is quite limited. I learned a lot about color theory while working at a Fabric Shop where they also sold quilting cottons. I was asked to teach different individual techniques that were being promoted by the sewing machine company the store was in partnership with.

This jacket is from my sewing shop days and was made in anticipation of a trip to Japan. The fabric is a quilting cotton and the laces are from my stepmother's stash. The techniques used include all kinds of machine "Heirloom" stitches, and piecing the parts together.

That being said, I have to credit any abilities I have in quilting to a combination of all my life experiences and then being guided so skillfully by my experience with quilters in Japan. I was so fortunate to be able to participate in twice monthly classes with a well known Japanese Quilter who thankfully is not only quite talented, but bilingual, and we lived in the same city. Her influence on my life radiated out to much more than quilting, to the point she has "adopted" as her younger sister! Sensei's first instruction to me at my first class was to "design my own quilt"! The result, a bit more than a year later was my "Japanese Memory Quilt"

There is quite a bit of needle turn applique on those blocks. I have to give credit to the talented fellow Left Hander and Left Handed Quilter, Julie, an American living in Tokyo.  To learn the technique I sat behind her on a couch as she sat on the floor working on a huge Hawaiian quilt, a gift for the wedding of one her kids . You can visit Julie on her blog: My Quilt Diary. There's probably a photo of that quilt in her archives.

Julie talking and hand piecing.

Sensei teaching a class at the 2011 Great Quilt Festival, Tokyo Dome

I later produced a baby quilt for a dear friend that was composed of 16 bear paw blocks that I called: "4 Bears for Maiko chan." In my haste to get it finished I threw caution to the wind and didn't pay much attention to the distribution of the colors of my scraps. Live and learn.

3. Why do I create?

I learned something about myself when I agreed to supply some little calico cats in baskets for a friend's shop some years ago. It is almost physically painful for me to make something exactly the same way twice. I may follow a pattern exactly the first time, but am thinking all the while how I might do it differently the next. So you see, I create, I just have to.

I have tagged my dear friend who writes a blog called "Evelyn in the Garden" to write the next blog in this series of "Around the World Blog Hop." She lives in the UK and we met in Japan. Our friendship not only spans miles and years, but age differences. I think you'll enjoy her perspective. On October 6 you can find her blog entry at: http://evelyninthegarden.wordpress.com/