Sunday, December 30, 2012

More CutUps Blocks

I didn't get a shot of the block I completed for Laurie in October, but I have the last two.  Nancy asked for "cowboy" blocks in any size and Joanne wanted Amish style. I had a lot of ideas for Nancy's block and finally settled on a cowboy hat.  I found a sample somewhere and then came up with a pattern on my own.  I left a lot of space around it so that Nancy could trim it to a size that will fit in with the other blocks she received.  Nancy received all of her blocks at our December meeting and she has a challenge to get them together as the styles of each maker was very different from my cartoony hat to a sophisticated silhouette of a cowboy on his horse.

Next was Joanne's Amish style block.  I found this Twin Star block in my EQ5 program ( of these days I'll upgrade to the current version).  This was actually my second pattern and attempt.  I don't actually like traditional pieced blocks because they require precision: my first block was supposed to be 9-1/2" unfinished, but it was closer to 9".  I'm not sure if it came out that size because I miscalculated on the size of the pieces I cut or what, but my second attempt using the EQ5 measurements instead of my own calculations turned out much better.  I like the results and the pieces came together ok.  Joanne didn't make it to our December meeting so she'll get her block at our next meeting.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Leaves & Shadows

Later this week my friendship group meets and a project block is due.  This year we're making birthday blocks for each member who has given a theme, color preference and/or block size to work with.  We have nine members and I think this is the sixth one due for the year.

Cristy specified autumn (not to be confused with Halloween...that's what Laurie wants) and asked for a dusty purple and allowed each of us to choose the block size.  I procrastinated as usual and was struggling with what to do...pumpkins, a cornucopia,  a scarecrow, sunflowers...what?  I had rejected leaves because that seemed obvious, but late yesterday I suddenly remembered Colleen Wise's method of discharging with a bleach and water solution sprayed around a mask to make shadows.  I had to find appropriate leaves and the background fabric first and ran a couple of tests last night and settled on what I've used before: black.  The black I chose turns a lovely orange when hit with the bleach solution.

This morning I took photocopies of several leaves and using a light box drew the outlines onto fusible web backing, fused it to several batik fabrics and then cut them out.  I saved the backing paper.  Then downstairs to setup a bucket of clean water, one of a bleach-stop solution, a spray bottle of 50/50 bleach water solution and newspapers on a table outside. I took a roughly 15" square of the black fabric, laid the backing papers on it in a pattern I liked and held them down with small stones - making sure that the papers were the correct side up to match how the fused batik leaves would sit on the top.  I sprayed the bleach solution over the surface (should have worn a mask, but I didn't) and then because the spray pattern was very uniform, I unscrewed the spray mechanism, pulled it off and scattered heavier drops all over.  After letting the moisture absorb a couple of minutes, I pulled off the stones and the paper masks and left it a few more minutes.  When the fabric had discharged enough, I carefully rinsed the fabric in the clear water and then let it sit in the bleach stop solution for about five minutes.  After that another rinse, then I let it dry in the sun and then ironed it.  I positioned the fabric leaves so that the shadows consistently appear to fall below and to the right of the now floating leaves.  Normally I would have waited to sew the leaves down until it was time to quilt, but since this is a block that I'm giving away, I used a monofilament and a small zigzag to stitch it down. After a final press, I trimmed it to 12-1/2" square.
I don't think I hit the dusty purple although that blue is more purple in person, but I hope Cristy likes it...I think I'm going to be a little sad to see it go.