CHQuilts: Dresden Plate
Showing posts with label Dresden Plate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dresden Plate. Show all posts

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Cats+Quilts=Love

Pictured above is my beloved cat, Ryan napping on my latest project, a Dresden Plate quilt I’ve been anxious to finish. I started it years ago. But I decided it was time to finish. Well thanks to Ryan, maybe not today.

Ryan loves to make herself comfortable on my quilts. I take her adoration as an extreme compliment.

I guess she fell asleep after wearing herself out stretching, writhing, and contorting herself into odd angles, as cats often do. I realized quilting was futile, so I gave up trying to free motion quilt with a cat on top of the fabric. This is a pretty large quilt and moving it under limited space of my little sewing machine is a challenge anyway, but with the weight on one end, really made things difficult. I decided it was time for a lunch break.

Ryan is always up for providing the entertainment to my tiny quilting space, or pretty much any other activity for that matter. This cat is like none other I’ve ever known.

Ryan and her sisters were born 13 years ago on a hot July day on the front porch of the home I share with my husband, John. Her mother is a pretty and petite Calico cat, a stray until she decided to adopt us.  She kept hanging around the house, peeking in windows until we finally gave in and let her come into the house. She wasn’t much more than a kitten. But one day she decided indoors was not her thing. She broke out the screen of an open window and took off into the woods. She didn’t go far, and rarely was out of sight, but it was far enough apparently. One day I noticed her girth had changed. She was a little rounder in her middle. I knew immediately that she was pregnant.

Timi was pretty young to give birth, so I wasn’t sure how well things would go. I was there to help if need be. I read up on what to do before the big day so I was prepared. I had a birthing box ready for Timi, all lined with the latest edition of the local news of our town. Another box was lined with a baby afghan left over from my own kids.

One late morning I was sitting at my computer desk when Timi jumped up to the window next to me. She climbed onto the screen and was clawing in a frenzy and was meowing in a voice I hadn’t heard before. I knew it was time. I met her on the front porch, she jumped into the box and before long I saw the most adorable little gray and white kitten. Timi cleaned it, licking, licking, licking until it was dry and fluffy. She had no qualms about letting me take her kitten. That was my introduction to Ryan and it was love at first sight. I held her gently, talked to her, and kept her warm in my hands.

Timi then delivered another, and another, until there were five. I love them all, but Ryan and I have something special between us.

I was very impressed with how Timi settled into her new role of motherhood. I’m not sure what my role was, but I know it changed my life as much or more than it did hers.

I decided I couldn’t part with any of the kittens, so I kept them all. The last one born lived only 11 days. The third one—Boo—was born with a deformity and weakness on her right side. She was basically a three-legged cat. She lived to be 11 years old and was my second favorite. I still miss her every day. Then there are Kenni and Kasey. There is no shortage of kitty love around here.

This period of my life marked a huge quilting hiatus for me, but once I got back to it, I found I had partners. The girls just love snuggling in a new quilt, or an old one for that matter. Only Ryan likes to be involved in the process however. I guess it started when I did most of my quilting by hand. She loved to sit beneath the quilt while I worked on it. I guess once I decided to adapt to machine quilting, Ryan did too. Now, she seems pretty content to sit on top rather than under it.

Having cats just adds one more dimension to my love of quilting. Now if only I could get the girls to stitch-in-the-ditch or hand sew binding, I’d have it made.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

I just had an epic quilting day

I finally completed my latest quilt top. This quilt—Sizzle—the 2019 Block of the Month project from The Quilt Show was designed by Becky Goldsmith, who did an awesome job creating and sharing this lovely pattern and providing instructional videos. She also included numerous tips and ideas that were very helpful.

This project took up most of 2019 for me, even though I got a pretty late start on it. The blocks were paper pieced and the border was appliqued.

The project was billed as a kit, but the pattern was free to members of The Quilt Show, co-hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I love this show and have written about it many times in CHQuilts. I decided to pick my own colors and fabrics for this project. It is similar to the color of the kit fabrics, but I wanted to use my own. I really enjoyed picking my own color combinations for each block. These are some of my favorite colors.

This project offered great challenges for me. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done paper piecing, but these patterns were fairly complex. Each endeavor honed my skills. Ironically though, each attempt at something new, whether I’ve done it before or not, always feels like a first. Perhaps the real skill I’m really improving upon is simply overcoming the fear of cutting into all that beautiful yardage.

Like paper-piecing, this wasn’t the first time I’ve used applique on a quilt, but the technique, which I’ve described in a previous post in CHQuilts, was new to me. I am pleased with the results.

I’m not sure what kind of backing fabric I want to use or if I want to piece the backing. And, I have no idea how I want to quilt this quilt. I may spend some time working on other projects as I attempt to figure that out.

The second part of my epic quilting day had to do with a quilt I’ve had lying around unfinished for far too long. It is a purple Dresden Plate quilt that I chose to hand-quilt. I decided to work on it last night, while listening the Donald Trump impeachment hearings.

I found that I was just not enjoying the hand-quilting as much as I once did, at least not on this quilt. That was a reason I wasn’t working on it. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. But last night, I decided to be honest about it. I just wasn’t loving it like I normally do.

There were many reasons for this, not the least of which included some wrinkling in the backing fabric. That is a real no-no!

I had initially spray-basted the quilt sandwich and over time, and this neatly folded piece of fluff in the living room became a favorite resting place for one or more of my cats, the integrity of the quilt sandwich had broken down. I made a big mistake as well, in trying to quilt all the ‘plates’ first instead of starting in the middle and working outward. In fact, I hadn’t even decided what to quilt in the borders. That decision along with some marking should have been done from the middle out. I also quilted without a hoop. By not working from the middle out, it was dangerous not to use a hoop and keep the backing tight. I had only completed the quilting on five of the 20 blocks.

Additionally, I wasn’t careful about how I pressed seams, so trying to work the needle was difficult. I no longer have calluses on my fingers so pricking my finger and the edge of the thimble was just not comfortable. I also noticed that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. For all these reasons I decided I would quilt this quilt on my sewing machine.

With all these factors, I made the decision to remove all the stitching I had already done. I grabbed my favorite seam ripper and began making a huge pile of thread. I got all of my “unsewing” completed that evening.

Just having that decision made, and having a clean project ahead, I’m getting a little bit excited about finishing this quilt.

I really enjoy hand quilting it isn’t drudgery as this one was. When there are just two layers of fabric and batting, which was not the case with these tiny blades of the Dresden Plate, hand-quilting is a joyful activity. That was not the case with this project. I think I knew I would never finish it. So, that has all changed. I’m excited about pressing the fabric again and starting over with my sewing machine. Truthfully, I can’t wait to get started. I suspect this will be a beautiful quilt.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

I’ve always believed that quilting was good therapy. But as of late, I know it.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my husband had a debilitating stroke almost four years ago. He is now getting around in a power chair. I do love when he can wheel over to where I left the remote or can bring glasses into the kitchen when I just can't imagine leaving my comfy spot on the couch.

But, his illness has left more chores to do, so I am busier than ever before. And somehow, I’m not getting any younger. I have little time or energy for quilting, though I have two projects I’m anxious to work on. One is to be hand quilted; the other to be machine quilted, yet all three layers are not yet put together. My imagination has seen better days and it seems my creativity quotient is running in the negatives. I’ve even had some bouts with anxiety lately that exacerbate my fears of the ‘what-if’s’ and the ‘oh no, another birthday is coming around.’

I am making progress however. The other day I cleared off the dining room table, pitching all the junk mail out, and made a space to work with. I got took out the 8 yards of backing fabric that I ordered more than a year ago for my second project, a Craftsy quilt that is rather large. I pieced the backing fabric, and spray starched and ironed it along with the quilt top. They just need the batting, which remains rolled up in the closet. Oh, and then there is the dreaded basting. I’m not fond of this step, which is probably why I haven’t done it yet. I have only small spaces on which to work and I’ve yet to find a satisfactory way to get this done. I’m leaning toward spray basting, but I also just purchased some new curved safety pins.



I have also begun working on my hand quilted project, a Dresden Plate quilt that I started ages ago. I’ve found that hand quilting isn’t as easy as I remember. I think the multiple layers of those little wedges are a deterrent, but I’m convinced that I want this traditional quilt to be hand-quilted. In just one afternoon, I broke 3 needles. This is not the way I remember it.

But much to my surprise, I’ve found that physically putting the needle to fabric isn’t the only way to satisfy my quilting fix and relax my ever racing mind. In general, I’ve been watching quilting videos.

In particular, I’ve been watching The Quilt Show (TQS) hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I had not been acquainted with Ricky, but was a big fan of Alex through her work on “Simply Quilts,” her television series several years ago that inspired me to actually make my first quilt. I consider Alex Anderson to be a quilting mentor for me. Her hand quilting is wonderful and as a 30-year quilter, she is also a wonderful teacher.

I’m almost ashamed to say that even though I subscribed to TQS I had only watched a couple episodes.

One day I returned to the website, already listed as a favorite on my browser toolbar, only to learn that my current subscription had run out. I hurriedly renewed it and started watching the current episode. It had the same appeal that had always endeared me to Alex Anderson, except this time, I was so intrigued by Ricky’s approach to quilting. Not only is he a renowned quilter, but he is a musician who writes and performs the kind of music I love.

I found that as I binge-watched a couple episodes, I was feeling relaxed and even inspired by the wealth of information presented by so many quilt artists.

I began to watch shows whenever I felt the least bit stressed. I’ve started watching from the very beginning—in 2009, season by season. It is fun to see how far quilting has come and the myriad ideas that have and continue to shape the quilting world. Every now and then I will notice I’m watching a rerun of a show I’d already seen. No worries. It is always nice to brush up on skills, tips, hints, and trends. So even if I’m not doing as much quilting as I’d like, I still feel as though I have my hands in it, so to speak. So once again, Alex Anderson for leading the way for me. And Ricky, I love what he does as well. He brings a fresh, new, artistic approach which perfectly complements Alex’s more traditional work.

Watching TQS is no longer limited to those moments when I feel a panic attack coming on. I now watch just because I love it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Organization and efficiency combine to get things done

Being organized is great on its own. Not only does it add to efficiency, but I’ve found recently that it also will allow me to finish what I’ve started.
CHQuilts: purple Dresden Plate quilt

I began this quilt a couple years ago—a purple Dresden Plate quilt.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. I had toyed with the idea of hand-quilting it rather than quilting it on the machine. Since it is a traditional design, I thought traditional quilting would be fitting.

Not long ago, I unfolded it and was a bit surprised that it was a square, rather than a rectangle. I was bothered by that. I have no idea why I did that.

For a few weeks, I have been thinking about this, wondering if there was enough fabric to finish one more row. I know I had all the material in a plastic container that had been used for this quilt. I hadn’t done anything with it when I was organizing my stash recently.

Without actually really looking in the box, I figured there probably wasn’t enough fabric to add another row. I reasoned that since I had planned to add a border around it in a darker color anyway, I could simply add two borders on the top and bottom with one along the sides. That wasn’t an ideal solution, but it would make the quilt rectangular.

Since I had recently finished my baby quilt, and had a “clean” quilting space, I finally decided to open the box. I was surprised to see enough leftover fabric to finish four more blocks. Not only were there large pieces of fabric, but there were also several of the 4” fan blades or wedges, already cut. One “plate” consists of 20 wedges, which means I needed 80 of them. There may have been that many, although there were only quantities of about 15 different fabrics. I wanted no duplicates, so cut a few more to make up the difference.

In the box, there were also several squares of the background prints--alternating white-on-white and white-on-cream paisley prints—already cut.

The only thing left was to check out the sashing fabrics.

This is where the organization comes in. Since I had just “filed” my fabric by color, into cube shelves, it was simple to take a quick peek. I pulled out just what I needed in minutes.

I have been busy the last couple days, sewing the Dresdens together and hand-stitching them onto the background fabric. The four new blocks are almost completed. Hand quilting this quilt will be a marvelous project this winter.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Quilting: always creative; always learning

Just when you think a project is simple, think again.

Donna's table topperMy friend Donna asked if I could re-create a simple table topper she had on her dining room table, at right. She liked it so much that she wanted one in Fall colors. 

I thought, easy-peasy. This is just a simple Dresden Plate pattern. It should be no trouble. Donna provided a sketch with some of the dimensions. The whole piece measured about 19 1/2 inches. 

I checked out my Dresden ruler and realized the smallest number of blades it contained was 16. That wouldn't work. Second option was to draft this pattern with Electric Quilt 7, the quilting software that has helped me out more than I can say. I am pretty new at working with this program, so I figured there might be a bit of a learning curve. That is OK. Learning new things never goes to waste. And, there is always something new to learn. It seems the more I get, the more I want. I think that is all part of the obsession.

First, I looked up Dresden Plate blocks in the block library. I found a 3-blade corner block. I figured I could copy the 3 blades and simply paste and rotate them to form a 9-blade block. I wasn't sure how to do that and figured there might be an easier way. Since I committed to this project, I wanted to get started on it, but I made myself a promise that in the future, I would work on using this software to modify existing designs.

I continued my search in the software's block library. I found a wheel block that was perfect. All it was missing were the points. I could draw those in once I printed out a template--no problem. 

fall fabricsNext I picked out three fabrics I thought would make a nice Fall piece. I sent the picture to Donna. She approved. 

I went back to the drafting stage. I printed out the finished "wheel" block with the points drawn in. 

Suddenly, I was horrified to realize the block only had eight blades rather than nine. So, I went back to the drawing board and redrew the pattern. I printed it out. I knew my improvisation wasn't perfect, but was a good place to start. The sizes weren't exact, so I decided to measure each blade at the base and take an average. The finished size would be my template for all nine blades.

I measured them all. I was surprised to find the nine blades ranged in size from 1 1/2 inches to more than 3 inches. Next I converted all the measurements to eighths, the smallest common denominator. Then I added them and divided by nine, the number of blades. That number measured 2 1/2 inches. I found one of the blades in my printout that measured 2 1/2 inches and made it my template. I also added 1/4 inch for the seam. 

I cut three blades from each fabric and sewed them together. I soon realized that the base measurement wasn't enough to know because once sewn together, the piece didn't lay flat. Next, I increased the seam allowance to 1/2 inch to take up some of the excess, cutting away the first seam to leave only a 1/4 inch seam. 

It was better, but still not right. The angle was off. I carefully measured the blades from the center point to the side at 3 1/2 inches, one of the measurements Donna had provided. So, I sewed each blade starting at that point, changing the angle slightly. 

It am getting pretty proficient at sewing with my fingers crossed. It worked. The piece laid flat and looked just like it was supposed to. 

I printed out a picture of the piece as a pencil sketch, and let it speak to me. Then, I quilted it.

Fall table topper
I checked You Tube videos to verify my own understanding of how to bind inside and outside angles. I finished the piece last night. This is how it turned out.

I actually like it, so I may make a template pattern from it and make one in Christmas colors.

I totally love little projects like this. They satisfy my need to create something and you just can't beat that instant gratification factor.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Orchid Flowers is officially a quilt top

orchid flowers quilt top
I'd say a finished quilt top can be considered an accomplishment, especially when it was a bunch of pieces just laying around for so long.

I started this so long ago. Once I got back to it, I realized how much of it had been done already. I think there were only four more Dresden Plate blocks to finish, and of course the sashing. The sashing with its 25 9-patches and alternating strip sets was pretty epic considering I had never done such a thing before. Lots of pinning was necessary. I had it in my head though, that this was how I wanted to connect the blocks in Orchid Flowers.

I still plan to add borders, a small skinny white one, a lavender one and a huge deep violet one. The violet fabric is much darker than the sashing, so I'm thinking it will nicely frame the entire piece. I plan to machine quilt this quilt. I've never done an entire quilt in one piece before, rather than simply a block at a time, so this should be an interesting new experience. I love trying new things. If I hate trying to manipulate all that fabric on my sewing machine, I can always hand-quilt it. I do want to try though. I'm still daydreaming about the kind of quilt designs I want to use. (I'm open for suggestions.)

I will attach the borders after they are quilted, probably via the skinny, unquilted white border in the quilt-as-you-go method. Though it doesn't show in this photograph, each alternating block is white and off-white--both in a paisley print. (I absolutely adore paisley.) Perhaps I should make the joining strips alternating as well, although I'm not sure the design element would be worth the extra effort.

I'm taking another break from Orchid Flowers. My daughter is interested in some Halloween table runners, so that will take precedent. As long as I'm quilting, it's all good!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Quilting is good medicine!




It might be impossible to expect all aspects of our lives to be positive, successful, or even worth talking about. But, I have to say, quilting is one of those facets in my life that is worth it.

For me, quilting is good medicine. When life's challenges get to you, nothing says 'hang-in-there' better than some quality alone time working with a needle and thread. Whether it be by hand or by machine, quilting is such good therapy.

Since my husband's illness, I have been turning to my favorite pastime as much as I'm able. It really helps. Quilting has a calming quality about it that makes coping just a little easier. It has the added effect of satisfying that creative spark. It is so nice to just be able to make something pretty. Let's face it, quilts are pretty. Rarely, if ever, have I seen an ugly quilt.

My quilt life is getting exciting once again, as I now have two projects to work on, at least so far. I once belonged to the get'r done camp, thinking that I had to finish one before I could start on another. But with quilts taking sometimes more than a year to finish, I gave myself permission to work on more than one at a time.

Orchid Flowers is coming along. In fact, I have all the Dresden Plate blocks finished and have started on the sashing. Who knew that the sashing would be as much or more work than the Dresdens, which are the focal point? I sure didn't, until I started sewing and cutting and sewing some more, all those strips.

Orchid Flowers
Here is my progress so far.

I have sashing on all the blocks. I just finished the 9-patches and sashing for the first row. I was worried that the sashing would overtake the Dresdens, since it is 2" wide and the Dresden strips are about 1.4" wide. But, it like the look. I'm anxious to finish the entire quilt top. I have no idea what kind of backing to use.

I've decided that I am going to quilt this on the machine, which will be a first for me--quilting a whole quilt top--rather than just a block at a time. I'm looking forward to this challenge.

There is still lots left to do before any more decisions are made. I have cut all the pieces for the sashing and cornerstones, I think. I'm not that great at math, so it will be fun to see if I came anywhere close to how many strips I'll actually need. No matter--I have more fabric if I need it. Aren't those colors just delicious?

I started this quilt a very long time ago. I was surprised when I came back to it, that I cut the initial blocks 12". I did it before I realized there should be a seam allowance added to the block. So, the blocks will finish at 11 1/2" No big deal. I will make up for it with the wider sashing and eventual borders around the entire quilt. I have a very dark violet color for the outside border.

The outside border fabric for Orchid Flowers is a Jinny Beyer fabric.

I have long been a fan of hers, since the early days of my watching Simply Quilts, which I mentioned in a previous post. I also mentioned that I was considering ordering Jinny's Block of the Month Club quilt kit from Craftsy.

She is teaching a class detailing so many of her techniques.

I bit the bullet. I decided to order the quilt kit. I have never ordered a kit before. It was a bit pricey, but was on sale since the class started months ago. I'm glad I waited.

The kit arrived yesterday. I haven't even taken it out of the bag yet, although I did stick my hand inside, so I could pet the luscious fabrics. Jinny's taste in colors and fabrics she designs are just magnificent. I love her border prints, which really is what sold me on this class and this kit. I don't plan to open it until I am ready to begin the project. Until then, I just plan to ogle it.