Friday, February 26, 2016

Mini Quilt - Major Challenges

When Judy, our Guild President, announced the President's Challenge - Log Cabin Revisited, I was definitely interested.  The rules - no  more than 24" square, must use either black or white, any variation of log cabin is acceptable.

Here is my completed top.  The story follows.
Challenge Accepted!!!
I saw a pattern for log cabin houses on Pinterest, and I was instantly hooked.
First step - I had to adapt the pattern to the Challenge Rules.

Original Pattern
I had to rework it to be under 24" square, while making sure that none of the houses were unceremoniously chopped off.  The internal dialogue continued.

May be I could only make a 24" potion if it.
No, that meant having 4-6 houses.  Did not look finished.  It appeared a smaller piece cut off from a larger quilt.
A doll's house is not just the living room and patio.  A doll's house has all the rooms  - just smaller.

The very first blocks

As soon as I realized this, I SHOULD have stopped and come up with another design.  But hindsight is 20/20. So moving along.

Bit by Bit

Instead of cutting the strips 2" thick, I chose to cut my strips 1" thick, resulting in the strip width of 1/2". Do you know what that means?  It means that the bulk of the fabric in the seams will exceed the fabric in the top.  I should have stopped now. But I did not.

White House next to the Red House

The piecing of little blocks was anything but fun...
So wonky and ugly :-(
When I started to piece the houses together, the bulk of the seams made it extremely difficult to sew a straight stitch.

Veered off Seams

My stitching is already wonky, made wonkier by very bulky seams.

Chimney Blocks - so cute

Needle change, in the hope that a sharper needle would pierce multiple layers better, was not very helpful.  Going slow (super slow) did help somewhat.

So many Decisions

It took me seven days of eight hours a day to complete just the quilt top. PHEW!!!

Yellow & Green or Red & White???

So many decisions.  Which color goes where? Not enough contrast?
There is no such thing as too much contrast.

Getting Close!!!

Paul: Oh neat. What is this one called?
Paul (incredulous): INDIA?
Me: Yes, I'll Never Do It Again.

I ended up spending my Winter Break (Christmas to New Years day) in the Log Cabin!!!

Should I go with this?

One of the houses had brown walls and red windows (on the left in the picture above) - not enough contrast.  I tried moving those brown/red blocks to the right. See picture below.

Hmmm...did not like that either. I wanted every house/window to be a good (if not great) contrast. It was a small quilt so everything will be seen, nothing can be overlooked.

I knew I had to repiece the blocks. And the very thought of repiecing tiny pieces with bulky seams was painfully exhausting.

So, I resorted to trickery.

Turning the tiny block over, I carefully removed the stitches around the center square (window) and removed the tiny 1" square.  Placed another square (bright green) in its place and glued it in place. Then I used a small square of interfacing, placed the sticky side on the wrong side of the block and ironed it to secure it. Voila!!! Done.

Completed Top!!!

Looks much better with green windows!!!  I think I cheated. But it worked.
And once it is quilted, no one will ever know.

Quilting - This was definitely something to consider carefully. Did not want to quilt in the ditch - too boring. Anything else might take away from the log cabin pattern.

How about diagonal lines - uniform allover lines running from one corner to the diagonally opposite corner.  That would be best.

Did not want to mark up the quilt.  Painter's tape would be best to ensure uniformly spaced lines.
Uniformly spaced diagonal lines?

Backing - Quilted on the White Lines
Wait, I have a fabric with diagonal lines. If I used that as a backing and quilt from the back. VOILA!!!

I found another simple solution and it worked.

Sun City!!!
I used faced binding (I know, it is not neat, but this is my first time) to make sure that nothing detracted from the itty bitty log cabin blocks.

See the finished mini.  Ok, it is not as pretty as the back. Seriously, this is the prettiest (neatest quilting) lines that you will ever see. Because, you can hardly see the quilting lines in the back.

Backing & Binding

It took me such a long time to name this quilt.  Is that a neighborhood or a community, homes on a hillside, valley view homes, a village? How about a Tuscan village? Postcard from Italy?

Paul: That is not a village, it is city. 
Me: Why do you say that?
Paul: Four storeyed houses densely packed - has to be a city.
He had a point.
Once the slanted quilting lines were added, the name came to me - Sun City.

There it is - bright, colorful, dense city. welcome to Sun City.
Finished at 22" square.

Detail View
 I put so much effort and time into this little quilt.  I do like it - it is bright and cheerful.

But, I am not sure if I love it.  I wish it was neater.  I wish it was less crooked.
I wish everything matched beautifully.  When I saw some of the other quilts in the challenge, the wonkiness hurt even more.

When I shared my very honest thoughts with my dear quilter friend Jennifer (from my Guild), here is what she said.

"Preeti, I think it is time to learn Paper Piecing."
 What do you think?

Linking up with all my favorite linky parties!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

KISS - Keeping it Simply Strippy

This post is modified from the original to remove dead links. The tutorial is unchanged.
Here are the steps to the tutorial.

1. Choose eight strips (6" by WOF) that you love. Arrange them (on your design wall) in a way that adjacent strips have some contrast. For example, you may not want to put yellow next to the white. Alternate light and dark strips.

Fabric Selection - 8 Strips

2. Sew the strips together, along the length, alternating sewing direction.  Stitch Strips (1 and 2), (3 and 4), (5 and 6), and (7 and 8), starting from the top.  Iron the seams to the dark side.

Piecing the Strips

3. Stitch strip sets (1+2) with (3+4), starting from the bottom.  Similarly sew (5+6) with (7+8) starting from the bottom.  Press seams to the dark side.

4. Finally, stitch (1+2+3+4) to (5+6+7+8), starting from the bottom. Press the closed seam in place.  Do not turn it to any side. We want to keep it folded in half, at this time.

Pieced Strips, Folded.

5. While keeping the strip set folded in half at the middle seam, using your rotary cutter, straighten the top and bottom edges. After trimming, you should have at least 42".

Straightened top edge

6. While still folded, cut across the sewn strips into seven sections of 6" each.  See picture below.

7. Now, you can press the central seam to the dark side. Place the cut section on the design wall. See picture.

First Cut Section

8. Place the next cut section, offsetting it about 3" from the end of the first section.  See picture below.  Place all the sections on the design wall, as shown in the picture.

Seven Cut Sections

9. Cut a 3" by WOF strip from black yardage. Cut this strip into seven 6" by 3" rectangles.

Solid Yardage, cut seven 6" by 3" rectangles

Place a 6" black strip at the right end of the top row.  Now keep adding the black strips, alternating the location with each row. The last row will have the black strip on the right.  See picture below.

Offset rows with black rectangles

9. Sew the black rectangle at the row ends, as placed. Sew the seven rows together, once again alternating the sewing direction.

Almost done

At this stage, I turned the quilt top by 90 degrees, to make it fit better on my design wall.

10. Add a 2.5" black border.
Top and Bottom Border added

Finished Flimsy!!!
The finished quilt top is 44" by 52.5".
Step back and enjoy your handiwork!!!

Backyard Picture 

The colors are so bright, they light up my sad backyard.

So pretty
It is a very simple, fast and easy to follow pattern.  And you can make it your own. Use large prints that you'd hate to cut up. Use animal or baby prints for a fun, cute quilt.  Trust me, you can put together this quilt top in one afternoon.

I am in love!!!

Sharing with Mari's Hands to Help Linky Party.  As usual, I'd love to hear your comments. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine's Day + Love of Fabric

Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  Love is in the air and so are commercials for candy, chocolates and everything pink.

And red...lots of red.

Come on people - love is a multi-hued expression!!!

Have you heard the saying - To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides?
Now, that evokes images that are bathed in yellow. orange too.

When you miss your loved one, aren't you feeling blue?

And if you are jealous, doesn't it equate to being green with envy?

A life filled with love is a colorful life.  A life devoid of love is colorless.
This is reflected, in much too obvious ways, in Indian culture. A widow wears white.  Similarly, black is considered the absence of color (joy) in other cultures.

Today, I want to share a very personal story with you. A story about Love and Color.

It was a Saturday in 2007 when Paul proposed to me.  We were in love. I knew we would get married.  But the moment he went down on his knee and asked to marry me, changed everything. Suddenly, I had this overwhelming feeling of being immersed in happiness.  Like a blank canvas magically filled with colors.

The next day, I was attending a meditation and prayer event.  I wore a green saree with a red border.  I felt like a bride. There was just one thing missing.  I had no bangles. I wished I had bangles.  I wanted red glass bangles to match the border of my saree.  The bride is incomplete without bangles.

No one else knew that I was engaged, because it had just happened the previous evening.  Folks at the meditation event did not know that I was even dating.  So what happened next is completely magical. Shilpa came up to me and handed me a small rectangular cardboard box. It contained 12 red bangles. I just looked at her, completely stunned. How did she know? She did not, but the universe knew what I needed. I immediately but carefully slipped the bangles on to my wrists - two at a time. The bride was complete. Filled with color, I felt complete!!!

I am sure that when my heart is full of love, magical things happen around me.
On this Valentine's Day, I wish that your life is filled with both Love and Color!!!

You may have guessed that I am working on a rainbow mini quilt.  Those are the pictures. They show my love for color, usually expressed through colorful fabric.

Now a bit of news about my love of colorful fabric - I became a Craftsy affiliate. Yay!!!
I have loved Craftsy for a while now. I have mentioned Craftsy classes and supplies on my blog and have also whole-heartedly recommended them to fellow quilters.

Then what is new, you may ask.  Now, if you click on any of the affiliate links on my blog and buy something, I will get a tiny commission from Craftsy for directing customers to them. 

And this brings me to the really exciting news - the Craftsy Sweetens My Life Blog Hop.  Check that link and you can see the various giveaways and the detailed schedule.

This is the first time I am participating in a Blog Hop and I will be sharing my Craftsy love and some giveaway goodness right here on my blog on Valentine's Day.
Hint: There are freebies :-)

Hope you will stop by and check out the goodies!!!