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/

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Change or Chance?

The Austen Family Album Blogger, Barbara Brackman wrote this week about the changing fortunes of  Jean-Francois Capot de Feuillide, who was "an officer in the Queen's Guards, the Queen being Marie Antoinette" This of course, as has been discussed previously,was during the era of the French Revolution. What connects him to the Austen Family was his marriage to Eliza Hancock, Jane's first cousin.

It is suggested that the name of this block might have been Wheel of Chance rather than Wheel of Change as printed. Either seem to fit the life of Capt. de Feuillide who took chances with his fortunes during drastically changing times. You can read the more complete account on the Austen Family Album blog here.

Construction of the block appeared a bit more intimidating than it turned out to be. When I first saw it I thought, "be careful what you ask for" after last week's lament.

Lots of rain here in West Central Florida this week. Yesterday my morning walk was delayed by a half hour. Today I gave up on the idea altogether. It has brightened up considerably in the last quarter hour, but looking at current radar I see that there is more stormy weather headed our way. Lovely weather for the water birds in the area. I wonder if  they're eating the frogs that inhabit our retention pond? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Old Maid's Puzzle for Tom LeFroy

Block 23 in the Austen Family Album Quilt commemorates the brief encounter/romance/acquaintance of Jane with a young Mr. Tom LeFroy. Apparently this relationship was not to be encouraged beyond the Christmas Holidays in the year 1795 due to Tom's lack of a fortune and Jane's lack of a dowry to bring to a marriage. It was unwise for such equals to marry in this case in those times.

If you would like more details you can of course visit the Austen Family Album Blog here.

The block itself I personally found to be rather uninspiring. It is shown to be composed of triangles and squares of different colors/prints. While being relatively simple, it had a rather unfocused feel to me. (Is this what others think of Old Maids, one wonders.) Neither am I impressed with my finished product. I guess there have to be a few like that. "You have to take the duds with the fluffies," as a college friend opined, likening life to a bowl of popcorn.

Sunrise in Fairway Villas
I have started a new regimen to try to keep up stamina and health. I get up relatively early and go for a brisk walk. I found a route which Google Maps tells me is just short of two miles. There is a gentle downhill side and a gentle uphill side. I've only gotten one blister - due mostly to a new pair of shoes. In general the early mornings are cooler and so far I have avoided walking when there is a real threat of a storm.

A rainbow at sunset

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Four At Once

Oh my, I hope to never do that again. The dreaded getting behind a week turns into a month all too quickly! I have, however redeemed myself and gotten all caught up once again. Whew.

It was one block in particular that gave me trouble and my drive to get three blocks cut out last week stalled over it for a few days till I got the colors properly sorted out. That, however turned out to be just the beginning with that block. You see, the corners are made of squares and half square triangles. You start by cutting the squares at 2 inches. So, a lot of pieces and a lot of matching of seams to get it looking right. I worked on the sewing for quite a while. Every once in a while I had to take a break because my head would no longer cope with figuring it out. The block is called, "Best Friend for Martha Lloyd." Martha was Jane's friend.

If you look at the Austen Family Album blog at: http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com/ you will see that there was a block the week before this one that I haven't shown you. It's called "Crosspatch for Mary Lloyd Austen." It's set on the diagonal, but not too difficult. I redid several joins to get them to match better, but that may have been a function of tiredness by that point. The word crosspatch reminds me of books like "The Bobbsey Twins" I read in my childhood. It is quite descriptive of the type of person who is not agreeable and a bit of a troublemaker, but not much used today.

Next I put together the block named: "West Wind for Tom Fowle." Tom was engaged to be married to Jane's sister Cassandra, but a stint as a Navy Chaplain took his life before they could be married. Find the full story on Barbara Brackman's blog.

Since my labors put me past another Sunday, there was one more block to make before I could say I was truly caught up. This block: "Friendship for Anne Brydges LaFroy" is to honor a woman who mentored Jane in her writing, being a published poet herself. This block is a slight variation on a nine-patch and went together quite easily.

So, now I have a little break till next block. I really would prefer to not get left behind again!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Indian Star

This week's block in the series Austen Family Album is named Indian Star. It is to commemorate the family friend, Warren Hastings. His actual role in relation to the family is not well defined, but many situations brought them together. He was Governor General of India when Jane was born. For Barbara Brackman's account of his life please visit her blog here.

Even though this block design appeared in America and commemorated Native Americans it was chosen in this case for it's name. To relate it more to the country of India and thus to Mr. Hastings I went to the Flag of the Nation of India shown at right.

Using the colors of the flag, I constructed the block. It was fairly easy in comparison to some of the others presented more recently and contained some familiar elements. I'm learning to place the pieces a bit more accurately and was reminded by the writer of the blog, La Sewista! that different jobs are best done using specific pins. I remembered the Clover Quilting Pins I got in Japan.They are quite long and quite thin, making them ideal for pinning matching points.

I'm still searching for an appropriate sashing fabric. I haven't gotten all the boxes out of my "Sewing Vault" to see if I have something suitable. I'll keep searching as I'm now on the downhill side of the block piecing.

What's your challenge this week? I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

16 & 17

Blocks #16 and #17 were chosen in honor of Jane's Uncle James and his wife, the Leigh-Perrots.

Aunt Jane was at one time accused of shoplifting some lace from a shop in Bath and was imprisoned for 7 months without bail till her case was tried. She was ultimately acquitted, judged a victim of a scam by store employees to extract money through extortion. Aunt Jane could have been sentenced to death or to transportation - the term used for deportation to the penal colony at Botany Bay. The block called Lucky Pieces was chosen by Barbara Brackman to honor her. See the whole story here which includes a link to pictures of a quilt made by women in the penal colony.

I had some difficulty with this block. Although color choice, which slowed me down at the beginning of this project, has gotten easier, the blocks have become more complicated. This one is all triangles, 28 of them. With triangles you always have the possibility of stretching pieces out of shape on the diagonal edge, especially as the instructions for these blocks do not have you make Half-Square Triangles, rather triangles are cut and pieced individually. It could be worse, Ms. Brackman could have opted to present the block with the original parallelograms and Y-seams. We got the triangles instead. My first attempt at sewing the center pinwheel together ended up with the colors in the wrong orientation to the outside triangles so I didn't have the longer pinwheel blades. After consultation with my mentor, Carolyn I got them turned the right way around and spinning properly.

Uncle James was a man of means and as was the norm in that time indulged in what was considered "the Good Life." This included a diet high in alcohol consumption as well as indulgence in rich foods. He had the physical complaints to prove it and sought the healing properties of the "waters" at Bath on a regular basis. You can read a more complete synopsis of his life and the ravages of the Gout which afflicted many of the upper class of that era, here.

The block chosen for him is called Water Wheel. With only eight triangles and the rest squares, it was a relative piece of cake. It commemorates the time Uncle James spent seeking relief from his maladies in various baths and hot springs.

With this block I have reached the halfway point in piecing blocks for the Austen Family Album Quilt. I'm thankful I did not see, and have not seen the complete set of blocks. I certainly would not have attempted this project. As it is I have been able to complete each one, even though some are more difficult and present problems I am not acquainted with. I'm sure there's a good lesson in there for me.

Here's a photo of all of the blocks completed so far. I just recounted to make sure there are indeed 17.

I have placed the ones in the foreground on a fabric I'm considering for the sashing between blocks. It is a roll of kimono fabric; 95% wool and 5% nylon. I'm not sure how it will be with those blocks that are really light in color like the one on the far right. I'm open to opinions. As you might have noticed I have added a button to my blog that indicates that constructive suggestions are welcome, so please leave a comment below.

Here's a closer view of the fabric.

Are you working on something challenging? How do you cope with the difficult parts?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chirashi - A Mixture

I feel a bit at loose ends - fairly usual for me, I think. This being retired business is not for sissies. Here are a few things I have spent time with recently.

Hawaiian shirt "muslin" - I have had this pattern for a long time. I thought that the casual style would suit me. I had done some pattern alterations some time in the past, so I plunked it down on this blue plaid that was a gift. What ensued was a shirt that was really quite huge on me. So huge that I think I total rethink is necessary on the casual shirt front. The construction was good practice. I did a double yoke on the bias and sewed it a la Trudy at Hot Patterns' tutorial. It worked well. The plaids matched mostly except for the sleeves which for some unknown reason were really gigantic. The fabric has a high percentage of polyester, so did not press well. So, being finished and wearable by someone larger than me, it goes into the Hospice Resale Store bag. The pattern has been unceremoniously disposed of. No Tears.

I have been making attempts in the world of quilting for a while. I decided to invest in a new foot for my old machine.  I sprang for a "Quarter Inch Foot" recently, and whether or not the old machine continues to work long enough to make it a good investment, I'm hooked.

The Viking Husqvarna version has a little sled runner on the right hand side which really ensures easy piecing. It has been a boon. It makes the fact that an "even feed foot" is totally out of the question for this machine due to the price and non-universality slightly easier to bear. Most days I don't know if I hope the machine continues to survive or bites the dust.

The triumph of the week is another quilt block in the Austen Family Album is "King's Crown for the Regent." If you go to the blog post HERE you can read a story of the monarchy during the lifetime of Jane and her family.

Here's my version of the block done in Japanese cottons and featuring the taupe fabric common to all the blocks so far. There will be 35 blocks in total for this series.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Blocks 13 and 14 in the Austen Family Album Quilt

I have now completed blocks 13 and 14 in this Austen Family Quilt-along. One was relatively easy, the other was a bit more difficult. I have ordered some of that Best Press stuff and am hoping it will help with some of my pressing issues.

Crosses and Losses is in commemoration of Jane's brother Charles who followed his brother Frances into a career in the British Navy. If you want a more complete story on this or any of the quilts in this series, please go to: http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com/ for Barbara Brackman's analysis of the Austen Family story. The reason for this choice stems from the practice at the time of the Navy using "prizes" to encourage enlistment and aggression. The bounty of a captured ship was shared with the underpaid sailors. I used lots of the background taupe to highlight the gold and jewel colors in the smaller figures and the green of the larger one.

The block for this week is titled Home Comforts and is for George Austen II an older brother who was born with a developmental disorder. When Jane was 4 years old, he was 13 and was placed in a boarding situation where others with unknown debilitating conditions were cared for in Monk Sherborne.  

Several children in the extended Austen clan had difficulties. Ms Brackman discusses this from the viewpoint of a Special Education teacher.

The block has more pieces than others in the series and unthinkingly I used some fabrics that were just a bit thicker, and this added to my difficulties with seam joins and pressing. Live and learn. Name of the game.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pattern Testing Again

I ventured into the world of pattern testing again. It is an interesting process and depending on the designer can be a learning process for everyone.  This time I decided to apply to work with Linda Joyner Lehn who has been learning pattern drafting and has now produced her first pattern, Esterlyn's Jumper. The pattern will go on sale as a PDF pattern sometime in the next few days. If you are interested you can check out her blog Here.

With the 4th of July Holiday coming up, I decided to celebrate the season and also show up some of the unique features of this pattern. I don't have any children of my own, so I said I would make a size 12 months. Since finishing I have thought of someone with a daughter just the right size so have shipped the dress off to her in time for the festivities.

A couple of things about pattern testing. Some how it has never seemed quite fair that I spend time money and energy making up and untried pattern for no compensation except for the satisfaction of a job well done. This is especially true for me in the burgeoning business of children's clothing patterns, being without children. That's why I have previously opted for purse/bag patterns. You do get a copy of the finished pattern that you can use. 

The other thing you get, sometimes, depending on the designer, is the active participation in the process of making patterns better, clearer and as user friendly as possible. In this case I have to commend Linda Lehn. The group of testers offered her suggestions, gripes, improvements, and any other kind of feedback you can imagine. She took it all on board and used it to improve her finished product. In this respect she's a better woman than I am, and I admire her for it. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A New Favorite

Sometimes when I see the new block for the week my immediate response is, "I like this one!" Sometimes after I get it put together the song changes to, "...hmmm. I guess that'll do." This time I thought, "I might really like it when it's finished."

So, now it's finished, and I like it. However, it almost looked quite different. I think that I have mentioned that usually, choosing the fabrics for each block is the hardest part. My original concept for the colors for this block was that the larger corner triangle would be the sandy seashore, so I did it this way.

I really don't know where my head was. The very light fabric is a muslin that was on my cutting table from another project. The Japanese taupe in the smaller triangles is the lightest shade I have used so far in this series of blocks. The muslin was really too light and out of place. 

So I looked at it again and tried different fabrics out and finally decided that I preferred it if that corner triangle was the deeper sea instead. So I replaced the triangle with another fabric in darker blue. This is how it  turned out.

This block is called Waves of the Sea for Francis Austen. Another of Jane's brothers, Frank had a naval career. You can read his story on the Austen Family Album blog at:   http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com/2014/06/block-12-waves-of-sea-for-francis-austen.html

Actually, if you look at this block the right way it looks like a fish, I think.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect

...or a facsimile thereof. Can you believe it? Here's another block done in the Austen Family Album Quilt - along series! And it's only Tuesday. I attribute this feat to a couple of things. One is that I was totally caught up on Sunday when this block was introduced, so was not playing catch up before starting the new block. The other is that this block has a very familiar look to it.

Cross Within a Cross
Compare it to the block for Jane's father called Cross Within a Cross.

Village Square

Then look at the one for Jane's brother James called Village Square.

Not to say I didn't make any mistakes along the way, but they were mistakes of not paying attention rather than because of difficulty.

Friendship Square
So, here it is, the Friendship Square in recognition of Catherine Knatchbull Knight's friendship with the Austen family and her status of benefactor to Jane's brother Edward, who she and her husband subsequently adopted and left their fortune to.  The story is found in last week's blog as well as this week's which can be found here.

So, I'm done - till next block. Oh, yes, I just remembered, I haven't done my homework for tomorrow's sewing group at church. So, on to the next task.

Comments are welcome on this or any other of my blog posts. What do you think?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Two new Austen Family Album blocks finished!

On Monday this week I got the good news that my dear Sensei in Japan had shipped the solid taupe fabric I needed. She said it would take about a week to get here. Both of us were shocked when it showed up here in Florida on Thursday! So I've been busy with the two blocks I needed to make to be caught up when the next block which should be announced tomorrow.

The London Roads block was named for Jane's brother Henry who had at first planned to be come a pastor like his father and brother, however he found a second career in the army and then on return to civilian lifeAusten Family Album Quilt.

became a banker in London. Jane spent a lot of time in London with Henry and his wife. He acted as her agent. You can of course read more detail in the

In this block I used lots of the taupe fabric which lets the street arrows really stand out.

Edward Austen, another of Jane's brothers, led a bit of a charmed life compared to some of the others and the block Good Fortune is for him. please check out this blog entry to get the whole story of the twists and turns in his life.

As you can see, these blocks are simple in comparison to some of the others. they went together fairly easily, with just the usual matching of points and seams to attend to.

Let's see what tomorrow brings with block #11 in this quilt block of the week adventure.

Which is your favorite so far?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Oh, the Shame of it!

Gentle readers, you may know that I have been aware from the beginning of this project that the possibility of falling behind loomed each week with the issuing of a new block. It has happened. I am now one block behind. (Covers her eyes with the back of her hand.) Sniff.

I did complete the Philadelphia block on time. If you look at Ms Brackman's blog that elucidates her reasons for dedicating this block to Jane Austen's aunt Philadelphia Hancock here. I felt a bit of kindred spirit with Aunt Phila and if you read about her you may be able to see why.

The following week, Eliza's Star was presented. it is named for Jane's cousin and sister-in-law, the Contesse de Feullide aka Mrs Henry Austen. She is portrayed as being lively, if unconventional. You can read more about her here. This block presented me with my biggest challenge so far. The inner square is bordered by a "frame". After reading the instructions, looking at all the examples, and cutting out the pieces I had no real concept how this piece was to be sewn together. I made an attempt and ended up taking it all apart again. It finally struck me that these seams I was struggling with were the quilter's nemesis, "the dreaded Y seam" multiplied by four.

I did find some help online by way of videos and step by step illustrations posted there by various quilting gurus. I gave it another try. It was marginally better, but my seams didn't match as they should. I was discouraged. On Wednesday of this past week I took the pieces to a friend at the Wednesday Morning Sewing Group at church. She was able to give me some guidance and advice.

Today I have finally completed this block.


However, that still leaves a block not even started, the one introduced last week called London Roads. Named for Henry Austen, another of Jane's brothers. This block looks like fun. You can see it here, but alas not here on this blog till next week. Oh will I be able to face you again if this task is not completed in good time? Tune in next time!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Austen Family Album Quilt is Alive and Well

Never fear gentle readers, despite the lack of recent posts, work on the Austen Family Album Quilt continues apace!

The block called Village Square was included for Jane's brother James who became a pastor and spent his career in two villages. The block is similar to the one completed previously for James and Jane's father, also a churchman. This block does not have the central cross, however, and ideas were given for completing the square in the center. I opted for the more involved pattern and used two fabrics with the stripes hoping to remind the viewer of rows of plants that might be planted in the Village Square. I chose a plaid fabric for the corner squares also thinking of small plots of flowers, planted in a regular pattern.

The block for last week was chosen to commemorate the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. His rise to power, and the conflicts engendered affected the life of the Austen family in many ways. Read the blog post at:  http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com/2014/05/block-6-empire-star-for-napoleon.html for more information.

The block is named Empire Star. I thought it was a good opportunity to introduce some purple shades. As
you can see, in addition to triangles, this block contains 4 trapezoids. There were times when the geometry threatened to overwhelm my bitty brain. I was happy with the finished block. I followed the pattern and did not change the positions of the dark, light and medium values. I think it's a really interesting block to make and to look at.

I was thinking recently that this project appeals to me because every block is different and allows for a variety of fabric choices.  I think I would go mad trying to make an entire quilt with the Empire Star. Actually I think that I have not made many actual quilts in the past because there is no charm for me in making a batch of blocks over and over, especially if the prints and colors remain the same throughout. Here, however, the one fabric of plain taupe remains consistent and the fabrics are all Japanese homespun type cottons. Other than that I have freedom and a weekly challenge of a new block.

This week's block, which was published in yesterday's blog post from Barbara Brackman is named for an Austen  family member I can relate to somewhat; Jane's Aunt Phila was a bit more of a free spirit, something I am accused of being from time to time.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Just Under the Wire!

I am writing this post to let everyone know that even though I had an overnight guest this week and also a medical test that took out another day I am not behind in the Austin Family Album blocks I started several weeks ago. I started out this week being behind, but have now caught up and am ready for tomorrow's new block.

I did run into a problem with this Cross Within a Cross block. I admit that the number of triangles in the block intimidated me just a bit, and when I put the first part together there was something obviously wrong. The funny thing is that I was able to look for other reasons for the "wrongness" besides the obvious one that I had made a mistake. Here's the center section with the mistake:

As you can see, the two points, upper left and lower right are missing. The pieces for this block have measurements in eighths and I messed up on those. So I "unsewed" recut and resewed and came up with the correct dimensions as you can see below.

And, here is the finished block. I had a lot of difficulty finding the fabrics I wanted for this one. I'm still not all that pleased with the values of the different fabric colors. But it's finished.

This block is the one that was scheduled for this week.  All squares! It was a breeze and I went into the box and pulled out indigos for it.

This square is called Thrifty and is to remember Jane's mother, Cassandra Leigh Austen.

If you would like to get the full story on this collection of blocks and the stories about the different family members check out Barbara Brackman's blog at: http://austenfamilyalbumquilt.blogspot.com/

Have you ever joined in on a project like this one? Would you do it again?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Austen Family Album Update

Yesterday, as I discussed in a previous post here, another quilt block in the Austen Family Album "quilt-along " was introduced. This was number three and honors Jane Austen's father, the Reverend George Austen. It's called "Cross Within Cross". You can check it out on this blog.

So, how am I doing? You may well ask. I realized last week when I needed to finish up the first block before starting on figuring out the second, that I could easily and quite quickly fall very far behind!

The first block, "Bright Star for Jane Austen," which I paper pieced, turned out like this:

                                                      The second block was "Sister's Choice for Cassandra E. Austen." I needed to piece it conventionally as I said in last week's blog. Here is a photo of the the un-trimmed block. I finished it this morning. Once I committed to conventional piecing, the color/fabric choices and placement took longer than I imagined.  The center and the dark half squares are a Japanese cotton fabric called kasuri, that my friend Julie blogged about a couple weeks ago in this entry. This piece came from a recycled yukata. I still need to "square up" but am happy that the piecing is completed.

Onward to the Rev. George!