Sunday, February 22, 2015

Some New Beginnings

Hi all -

Since I finished the backing for my Grand Illusion quilt, it was time to start on some new things. The first project I started actually began while piecing the backing. I've wanted to start a leader/ender project for a long time, but never wanted to take the time to do the necessary cutting. For those who don't follow Bonnie Hunter, a leader/ender project is a project that you make as a bonus while piecing another project. The idea is that you use these blocks to start and end your chain piecing so you don't have thread tails at the ends of your lines of piecing. So, you chain piece your blocks for your current project. When you get to the last piece in the chain, rather than pulling the chain out of the sewing machine and clipping your threads, you take a piece from your leader/ender project and put that through the sewing machine (the "ender" for your line of piecing). You then clip the little thread between your line of chain piecing and your ender, and leave the ender under the presser foot. When you start your next line of chain piecing, you just sew your first piece in after the ender (which has become a "leader" at this point). Make sense?

For my leader/ender project, I decided to start with Bonnie's "Sister's Nine-Patch" pattern from her Adventures with Leaders and Enders book. This quilt is made up of 4.5" finished 9-patch blocks set on point with plain blocks in between. I may end up making a different quilt with the blocks, but I needed an idea of what I was making or I would never begin. I decided that the 9-patch blocks would be green and neutral and I started cutting the pieces for the leader/ender project while cutting the pieces for the Grand Illusion backing. I'm thinking I could use red alternate blocks to make a Christmas quilt or maybe purple since I like that combination. But that's a decision that I don't have to make for a long time. I made some good progress while working on the backing:

It's kind of amazing how much progress you can make with a leader/ender project. The other part of Bonnie's system is to pre-cut your scraps into commonly used sizes organized by color so you can quickly grab whatever you need for a project. At this point, that part doesn't work for me because I don't have time to make that many scrap quilts, so there'd be a lot of wasted time in cutting pieces that aren't used and wasted fabric with, for example, having a bunch of squares that were cut at 2" when you are working on a quilt that needs 2.5" squares. But I don't mind continuously cutting pieces appropriate for my current project, and ending up with left-overs at the end that might be used in another project. So that'll be my approach.

Another new project is a pillow based on Philippa Naylor's new book. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I got the book and think it's wonderful. Some friends of mine read the blog and asked if I'd like to join them in making a pillow using the techniques in the book and, of course, I'm in. Here is the pattern that they came up with:

I think it's wonderful! My first task was to make a full-sized pattern from the picture. I started by drawing a 14" square on a piece of paper and drawing the center lines. The paper I have doesn't have grid lines, but I was able to set it on top of my cutting mat and could easily see the lines through that. Then I copied the different figures from the book, cut around them and placed then on my pattern as close as possible to what I could see in the picture. I used removable double-sided tape to initially place each piece until I liked where everything was placed. Then I used permanent tape to tape all of the pieces down so I wouldn't have to worry about them moving. That worked pretty well and I now have my pattern.

Then next step is to choose my fabrics. Philippa used some large-scale prints for her appliques and I really like that look so want to try that, too. I dug through my stash and came up with a set of fabrics that I picked up several years ago because I love the motifs. I thought I'd try using these for this pillow. Here are a couple of the fabrics I have from the line:

Aren't these cool? I have several other fabrics from the line along with some panels. But I've never used large-scale prints for applique before, so I'll have to see if I can make these work for me. I've cut a pattern for the large bird out of mylar so I can lay it over the fabric to get an idea of how that piece will look from different places in the fabric motifs. I haven't found anything that I like yet, but I'll look back at what Philippa did and then play with my fabrics some more before deciding whether this will be my final fabric selection. I'll keep you posted on what I decide.

Finally, I've also started working on a wallhanging for an informal "Inspired by Libby" challenge we're doing on I want to go into some detail about what I'm doing for this, so I think I'll save the details for another post.

I hope you are all having a wonderful week!


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