On the frame

My Outback Wife hexies are on the quilting frame!  This began back in March as a demo and I loved it so much I just kept going.  This fabric; love, love.  I’m so glad I’ll have it with me always. 

If you haven’t heard before, it’s barkcloth, lovingly researched and reproduced by Cathi Bessel-Browne, a farmer’s wife in Australia who also happens to be a dressmaker and now world-traveling teacher.  Stories of their life in the Outback are woven into the designs and names of the fabrics.  Sadly, the company she was working with has ceased operations, but for the moment many of the fabrics are still available. (I stock them here in my Etsy shop. )

I enjoyed cutting up the designs- with some hexies containing a flower and some almost all solid background, each cut was a surprise.  I gave myself 9″ strips and used whatever section I got.  

Here’s a little roundup of progress photos so far.  

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I AM sewing!

Guys, I may have lost my sew-jo last year for various reasons, but it is back big time now.  I have so much to say, but I’m gonna ease myself back into blogging with a few snapshots of what I’ve been doing.

Working on this and that:

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I instagrammed a couple of videos while I was working on the above clamshells, so go look for those if you’re wondering how these go together.  20180212_164845.jpg

IMG_20180214_113020_747 - CopySent Diabolical Jane to Stitched in Color to be longarmed.  Thrilled with the results!

IMG_20180218_212812_256 - CopyThese are Paleo! 

What? your caveman ancestors didn’t have chocolate cupcakes?  well someone’s did.  The cookbook said so.  Anyway, they’re delicious and if you are eating healthy but getting desperate for a treat, check out My Paleo Patisserie.  Everything I’ve made from it has been good.

20171114_135938-copy.jpgI washed dried and folded like a million yards of fabric.  I had decided to freshen up my stash and there was no going back.  Then I donated half of it to my local crafty thrift shop because I have too much.  OK maybe a quarter donated.  But there’s more to wash.

Parenting!  Oh the parenting.  Everyone’s back to homeschooling now and I am so glad.  The school schedules were just not good for me.

20171121_162712 - CopyLooking for a farm.  Yes, I want to farm.  really bad.  But we have to come to terms with what we can afford and figure out where that’s going to be and it’s a really huge decision, so for now the talk is still all hypothetical.

IMG_20180102_141930_481 - Copy20180111_162613.jpgChicken farming:  I may not have land yet, but you don’t need much space for chickens.  We have been eating exclusively our own chicken for a couple of years, and added egg birds last fall. We love our chickens but they are definitely not pets; the kids are understanding where our food comes from and the animals that will become our food live a good life, and that means a lot to me.

So there’s a little snapshot of where I’ve been!  Back soon!

Retreat!

It’s the beginning of retreat season!  Yes somehow, I have managed to sign myself up for three quilt retreats in two months!  I’m not feeling bad about that.  I’m feeling awesome.  And yes, my co-parent is booking himself a getaway, hopefully as we speak.  Everyone needs some time for themselves.

( I guess this will do for natural lighting..)

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So this weekend is my first of three.  Here’s what I brought to work on:

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A dolly quilt for my littlest.  I forgot the backing, so I’ll have to be happy with getting the edge pieces set in and I’ll finish it at home.

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An improv quilt in weird colors. I first had the idea to put these colors together a few years ago- scarlet and lavender and marine blue and black and cream and off-shades of rust- I cut hundreds of strips in the fabrics I could find at the time, but it just wasn’t right.  The fabrics sat segregated in their special bin for a very long time, as I slowly added to and edited the collection.  Now I’m feeling pretty good that I have what I need to enact the vision.  The intent is to put it to bed this weekend and let it be whatever size I get it to by Sunday, but I’m willing to be flexible.

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A basket full of old shirts for some EPP.  So excited about this one.  But I’m excited about them all…

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A binding that’s ready for hand stitching.  I think I’ll work on this during show and tell.  Big stitches will get it done 🙂

I also packed a little cooler with lots of greens, beef stew, poached salmon, and kombucha.  And lots of tea and some super dark chocolate.  Meals are provided and so far they’ve been awesome, but it feels good to be prepared.  And to eat beef stew in bed at 10:00 pm.  🙂

Diabolical Jane: a Tutorial

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Hi Friends!  If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen the little flurry of activity surrounding this quilt… It’s a copy of a nearly 200 year old quilt that I first saw on a museum tour with the DC Modern Quilt Guild.  I was absolutely obsessed with remaking it in today’s glorious fabrics and it turns out some others are interested in doing the same (have you seen Melinda’s fabulous start?)  I’ll tell a little more of the story of my quilt when it’s finished, but for now I want to get the tutorial up so anyone who’s interested can join in the fun!

In the interest of keeping this free and not too lengthy, I’m going to describe the process I used to lay out and construct my quilt, but I won’t provide a diagram of exactly which fabric went where and which fabrics repeat where.  You can study the pic of the original and my photos for a sense of the design, then go ahead and make it your own!

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The original quilt, circa 1830. Photo from the book “Workt by Hand”

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Center of my quilt- borders yet to be added.

Notice that the quilt has a center X made of 5, 4″ x 11″ pieces on each arm, and then four identical large, layered triangles, each with a square at the apex of each layer and 4″ x 11″ strips radiating out from the apex square in two matching strips.  It’s easiest to lay out your pieces from the middle out, then we will construct the quilt from the sides working in.  The center ends up to be 74″ square and the original had 14″ wide borders.

The heart and soul of this quilt lies in the fabric selections!  The pieces are large and the sewing is easy, so take your time and enjoy playing with the placement of your fabrics.

It can be helpful to start with more fabrics than you need, so you will have options as you work.  This is a great place to use larger scale fabrics that you love and don’t want to cut too small.  Or fabrics that you bought but didn’t know what to do with because they are so bold!

I recommend cutting your fabric in a few batches, rather than pre-cutting the whole quilt before you start.  You are likely to shift things around and make new decisions as you build the layers.


 

Fabric Requirements:

Center:

20, 3/8-1/2 yd pieces (there are a few spots in my quilt where I repeated fabrics, so you may need up to 3/4yd of a few fabrics if you intend to copy the placement of mine exactly.)

1, 8″ X 12″ or 4″ x 20″ piece (middle 5 squares)

Border:

(I give requirements for a border all the way around, no cutouts like the original)

3 yds for a 9.5″ border

OR

4 1/4 yds for a 14″ border like the antique quilt has. (strips will be cut crosswise and pieced)


Begin:

From the 8″ x 12″ piece, cut 5, 4″ squares for the center of the quilt.  Lay these out on your design wall (or design floor!) in a checkerboard.

DJ first squares

Select about 10 of your 3/8 yd pieces that you want to use at the center of the quilt.  From each, cut 8, 4″x 11″ rectangles and 4, 4″ squares.

Cutting diagram
Cutting Diagram

 

Beginning in the middle, arrange your strips for the center X.  There are 5 strips radiating from each side of the center square.

DJ center X
Lay out center X

 

Then begin laying out your large triangles.  Choose one of your sets of squares to form the apex.  Add four strips radiating out from each exposed side of each square.  Cut 4 additional squares of the fabric you choose for the edge and place squares.

DJ step 2

By now you might have an idea which fabrics are working and which are not.  Now is a good time to select and cut more fabrics in the same manner:  8, 4″ x 11″ squares and 4, 4″ squares.  Continue to build your triangles towards the edges of the quilt.  Work in the squares you have cut as you continue.  I had fun and reduced the number of decisions I had to make by matching squares and rectangles in the same positions as the original.  As you get to the edges, you may need to cut a few more squares to fill in the spaces at the edges.

DJ step 3
Center before trimming

Refer to above diagram to see what your layout will look like when it’s done.  Once you are happy with your layout, you can start assembly.

Assembly:

1/4″ seam allowance used throughout

DJ step-outs

We begin in the center of each side of the quilt.  Sew the three squares together as shown.  For the next layer, line up your pieced square unit with one side rectangle as shown and stitch.  Sew the apex square to the other side rectangle, then sew that pieced strip to the other side of the pieced squares.  Continue building your side triangles in the same manner, piecing the strips before attaching them to the central unit.  Always align the pieces next to the apex squares.  The outside edges will be quite uneven.  Piece all 4 side triangles in the same manner.

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Sew the center X together into 4 long strips.  Attach 2 strips to opposite sides of the center square.

Sew 2 side triangles together with one center x strip.  Repeat with the other 2 side triangles and center strip.  Then assemble all 3 large pieces, aligning seam allowances around the center square.

Trimming:

DJ measureDJ step 3

Be sure your top is well pressed.  Measure and mark a dot at each corner, 8.75″ out from the seam and 2″ in from each raw side edge of the rectangle.  These dots should line up with the corners of the center square on each side.  Draw a line connecting these points, using anything you might have to get a straight edge.  I lined up several quilting rulers, which allowed me to also use the 45 degree lines to check that my edge was straight.  But even a broomstick would work.  Trim along this line.  Don’t panic if you have to trim a little further to get it all square. The original has missing points and it really doesn’t matter in this design.

Mathematically, the trimmed top should measure 74.5″.  Measure yours across several points to figure out how large to cut your border!

Add Border:

For a 9.5″ border, simply cut your 3 yard piece into 4,  10″ strips parallel to the selvage.  Trim two strips to the same length as your center width measurement (74.5″)  Attach borders to two opposite sides.  Cut the remaining strips to your measurement + 19″ (93.5″).  Attach borders to the two remaining sides.

For a 14″ border, cut 10, 14.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.  Sew these together in two sets of two and two sets of three.  Cut the shorter strips to your top measurement (74.5″)  Cut the longer strips to your measurement + 28″ (102.5″).  Sew the shorter strips onto two opposite sides first, and then sew on the longer strips.

Note this quilt is susceptible to wavy borders because of the bias trimmed edges.  For more help getting your border on correctly, see this fabulous tutorial from Anjeanette.

I hope some of you will decide to join in the fun and make a Diabolical Jane!  Here’s a downloadable line drawing of the quilt for adult-coloring fun:

Diabolical Jane Line Drawing

xo,

Jessie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Count #12

I’ve got half of my quilt all pieced into big sections.  I’m leaving it like that as I work on the other half in case I want to make any changes.  ‘Cause right now, there is a lot that’s irking me about this quilt, and I have to make some decisions about how much I want to go back and excise and how much I just want to press forward.

Luckily I have lots of time to stitch! Every day that Baby declines to make her debut is another day spent relaxing and sewing.  I’m starting to think she is waiting until her quilt is done to come out.  I do love these little “cogs” with the vintage mushroom fabric in the center!  I got the mushrooms at Goodwill a couple of years ago as a little home-made valance.  I was so excited when I realized how well they fit into this project!  I might replace the one that has dark blue petals with apple green or chartreuse, if the right fabric presents itself.  Or maybe not.

I really want a quilt that is all white and pale like these random bits, with just a few tiny colorful stars mixed in.  Trying to resist temptation to start something new before seeing this one to completion!  WHY IS THAT SO HARD?!!!

Thanks Jessica for the continuing motivation over at Life Under Quilts!  It’s definitely helping me to keep my mind from wandering…

 

Star Count #10

This week I’ve been basting neutral, almost white shapes to fill in between my stars.  Mostly 1″ hexagons, but also half-hex and 60 degree diamonds, just to fill in all the little spaces.  I love having a big pile of neutrals ready to go.  It feels like having money in the bank, like I’m ready for anything.  Yup, anything those wild and crazy hexagons manage to throw my way, I’m ready.  🙂

Linking up again with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Monday Morning Star Count– and how I’m enjoying watching everyone’s projects evolve over the weeks!