Monday, August 14, 2017

Make way for Pineapples!

At this point in the process of making Long Time Gone, I had two last sections to make, the Log Cabins blocks and the Pineapple blocks.  I decided to address the Pineapple Blocks first.

I needed 16 Pineapple blocks. They have a finished size of 5 inches, and each block contains 33 pieces. It seemed like a big mountain to have to climb.  The pattern includes a printed pattern to paper piece the Pineapples, but I was hoping to find a better option.  (All that paper to tear out at the end?  Not if I can help it.)

I found the perfect solution in this new-to-me ruler:

It's called the Pineapple Trim Tool and is made by Creative Grids.  I asked my local quilt shop to order one for me.  I couldn't wait to try it out, but before I did, I gathered all my scraps from the blocks I had made so far.  I had quite the collection by now.  There were all these Light fabrics,

all these Dark fabrics,

these leftover triangles from the Flying Geese blocks,

these leftovers from the 60 degree triangle blocks,
and a whole basket of 1.5 inch squares that I had cut along the way from anything that was too small to use elsewhere.

For each Pineapple block, I started with one of the 1.5 inch squares for the center, and sewed a scrap of Light fabric to each side.

Here is what I ended up with:

Then it was off to the cutting table to try out the new ruler.  I lined up the central square with the white box on the ruler and trimmed the first side:

Then rotated the block 3 more times and trimmed each side until I had a nice square in a square.

How cute are these?

At this point, I took one of the centers and finished the Pineapple block, just to learn how it all worked.   I did the other 15 blocks in one batch,  assembly line fashion.

After the first round of light fabrics is done, you sew a dark fabric to each side:

This time, you trim using the other part of the ruler.  You line up the center square on a black box on the ruler and trim two sides:

Then you rotate the block and trim the other two sides:

Now I had 15 of these little darlings all ready for the next round:

I added another round of Lights, and another round of Darks.  Even with the ease of the Quick Trim ruler, it took me more than an hour to sew, press and trim each round.

Here is one more round of Lights completed:

And one more round of darks.  The  untrimmed blocks were now bigger than my test block.  Surely this must be the last round?

Nope. Not yet.

One last round of Lights:

At last it was time for the final round of triangles.   I wanted to save myself from having to worry about two  triangles ending up next to each other in the final arrangement, so  I went through all my dark fabrics and cut one triangle from the corner of each one.


At last I was ready for the last step.  One final round of sewing, pressing and trimming later, and I had finished my 16 Pineapple Blocks. The whole process had taken about 4 days, but I am very happy with them, and think they were worth it.


I'm also very happy to say the my scrap pile actually did diminish. These blocks really are scrapbusters. Here is what was left of my Light fabrics when I was done, and I still have the Log Cabin blocks left to make:

With 33 pieces of fabric in each block times 16 blocks, there are 528 pieces in the Pineapple blocks,  bringing the total number of  fabric pieces in this quilt to over the 2000 mark!

Number of pieces in the Pineapple blocks:  528
Number of pieces in the quilt so far:    2175



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Monday, July 31, 2017

Pandora's Box


It turns out that once you give yourself permission to make a few changes to a pattern, then it's easier than ever to make a few more.  It's like opening Pandora's Box.  Any little thing that you might have any doubts about becomes fair game for substitution.

I started with the blocks in Long Time Gone called "Crosses of the UK" which look like this:

I'm just not crazy about the way the blue foreground cross and the red background cross look unbalanced.  Also, it looks to me like a round peg was jammed into a square hole and the points got chopped off, (but I"m sure that's just me.)

Anyhow, I decided the Crosses would go, and a Sawtooth Star would be their replacement.

Long Time Gone requires 6 crosses stars all together, that are sewn into the quilt in two rows of 3.  For the first row of stars, I chose the fabric for the large block in the center, and then surrounded them with scrappy squares:

After sewing them up, I ended up with these:

For the second row of stars, I started with some busy prints for the 3 center squares and surrounded them with squares from the same color family:

Here is how they looked in progress:

And here are the two finished rows:

Now for the next substitution...

The pattern also calls for 2 Bow Tie blocks like this one:

The Bow Tie pattern is fine, but compared with the tiny pieces all the rest of the blocks, they looked too big to me.  Here's an idea of scale of the Bow Tie blocks compared to the others.

Whenever I looked at the pattern, my eyes were drawn to the large gaping hole in the center of the Bow Tie block, ( but I'm sure that's just me!)  I decided to substitute a Bear's Paw block which has that nice little square in the center, and also lots more opportunities for additional fabrics:

I needed two blocks, so I started by picking the fabrics for the larger squares:

then I cut the rest of the smaller squares using bits and pieces from the scrap pile.

Here are my two finished Bear's Paw blocks:

Then, I made one final substitution.

The pattern calls for a set of 9 4-inch Jacob's Ladder blocks like these:

No matter how I played around with the color placement, I just couldn't settle on something I liked. It was too directional with those longer diagonal pieces. (again, probably just me!)   Now that Pandora's Box was opened, I figured one more substitution didn't matter.  It was my quilt and I had to like it when I was done, right?  I decided to substitute a set of 12 3-inch Broken Dishes blocks instead:

There you have it.   My quilt will be roughly 80% as the pattern is written, and about 20% of my own design changes.  I guess from now on I have to call this quilt Long Time Gone Rogue!

Number of pieces in the Sawtooth Stars:  102
Number of pieces in the Bears Paws:         90
Number of pieces in the Broken Dishes:   64
Number of pieces in the quilt so far:     1,647



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Monday, July 24, 2017

New life for 9 patch blocks.


Had some fun making nine-patch blocks for the mystery quilt I was working on, especially the ones where I fussy cut the fabric.

When I decided not to continue with the mystery quilt and focus on Long Time Gone,  I needed to find a way to still use these cute little nine patches:

There is a section of Long Time Gone called "Plus a Star" which measures 21 X 12 inches.  It was the perfect spot to substitute an alternate block where I could incorporate these 3 inch units.  I decided to pair them with 3" snowball blocks to fill out the space needed.

For the snowball blocks, I looked through my fabrics and chose light background fabrics with slightly larger, bolder prints that were hard to use in the other blocks.

After cutting the central squares from the lights, I paired each one with a dark:


 From each dark, I cut four smaller squares:

And then sewed a small dark square to each corner of the light center squares:

After ironing and trimming, I had my snowball blocks all made, and I paired them up with the ninepatches to get my snowball/ninepatch section:

I laid out all of the sections I have made so far.  Here is what my Long Time Gone quilt looks like now:
Is this really all going to come together in one quilt??

Here is a reminder of what  Jen Kingwell's quilt looks like on the pattern for Long Time Gone:
I'm definitely going for a more well-defined block pattern for my individual sections, compared to Jen's more modern, blended approach.

Number of pieces in the Snowball/Ninepatch section:  202
Number of pieces in Long Time Gone so far:  1391

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Meet you on the Courthouse Steps

The Long Time Gone pattern requires making 9 small Courthouse Steps blocks.


This was a great block to use  up some of the light and dark scraps I have been creating with the previous blocks.  I began by sorting  my scraps into piles of lights and darks based on length.


Then, I started the first round by sewing two light rectangles to opposite sides of the center squares:

Then I trimmed them on two sides only:

For the next round, I sewed a dark strip to each of the sides that I had just trimmed:

And again, I trimmed them on two sides:

I continued in this fashion, until all rounds were complete.  The trick to keeping them squared up as I went was to always check that the lines of the ruler matched up to the sides of the middle square, as outlined in pink in the photo below.

There were a lot of trips back and forth from the sewing machine, to the ironing board to the cutting table for each round, but in no time at all I had 9 perfectly sized Courthouse Steps blocks:


Number of pieces in the Courthouse Steps section:  153
Number of pieces in Long Time Gone so far:  1189
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