Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hive #12 - June Tutorial

Hi everyone! My name is Kristel Carnahan. Online you can find me as Clumsy Kristel on Flickr or clumsykristel on Instragram (though IG isn't currently working for me - there's some kind of issue with the most recent update). I blog at Work in Progress Girl - so named because I never (never!) finish anything, but projects, oh, I've got lots of projects. I've been known on occasion to design embroidery patterns for my favourite fandoms, so you can also find me at Fandom in Stitches, where I've designed a couple Doctor Who patterns and one for The Princess Bride.

I live in Calgary, Alberta, which is on the edge of the Rocky Mountains in Canada. I've lived here about seven years now (and still feel like a tourist - I've never quite settled in), prior to that I've lived in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia... so I've gotten around Canada a bit. I'm single and pet-free, which means my time is pretty much my own. You'd think I'd get some of those projects done with so few distractions, but you'd be wrong...

Back when I lived in BC, in 2001 or 2002, I was attending university in Vancouver and for spring break/reading week that year I spent the week at my aunt's house in the Fraser Valley. At the time, she was a prolific quilter, though she did everything by hand: she was working nights at a call-centre and didn't take too many calls, so she spent her time putting together beautiful, if very traditional, quilt tops. When I was visiting her, I started sewing together nine-patches for whatever project she was working on at the time. That summer I moved back to Saskatchewan and for my birthday she sent out a quilt in a box - all the pieces I'd need to make my own nine-patch quilt. I didn't have a sewing machine then, so I sewed all my nine-patches together by hand... before letting it sit for a long, long time. Sometime later (2003, maybe?) I bought a cheap sewing machine from Sears and started the slow process of teaching myself to sew by machine. The first swap I ever participated in was an embarrassment because I didn't know what I was doing, but it motivated me to get better (and to learn paper-piecing in time for the next swap). In any case, all these years later, I've made a handful of quilts and a mountain of small projects, but I'm still a brutally slow sewist and I still haven't finished that original quilt! I did get the top put together in 2012 or 2013, though... hopefully it won't take another decade to get it quilted and bound.

First Project Ever

When I first started quilting, it was a lot harder to find modern fabrics and it wasn't for several years that I really realized there were more options than traditional and paper-pieced patterns. Reading blogs and spending time on Flickr (and now Instagram) was a real education, compared to the quilts my Aunt and Mom and Grandma and Great-Grandma made (and I have quilts from all of them! except my Great-Grandma - there is only one quilt from her still left and it lives with my Grandma). I mostly like to straddle the divide... dipping more into the fabric side of the modern movement and largely staying in the piecing side of traditional. Most of my fabric is stored folded and stacked on shelves in colour order, except for lines that I've kept intact and pre-cuts and so on:

Stash 1 Solids stash

Stash 2

I keep smaller cuts of solids in the bin shown above, and then I have another bin with larger cuts of solids, as well as linen blends and cross-weaves.

I have a big appreciation for Tula Pink - though I don't think I've loved any line of hers so much as I love Neptune - and Heather Ross (though, ditto, but with Mendocino). I tend to like blender type fabrics the most - tone on tone, tone on white, etc. - and rarely dip into bolder patterns or things with a lot of things happening in one place. (For instance, I've seen a hundred and one truly brilliant quilts made with Anna Maria Horner fabric, which often convince me I need to buy her fabric lines, but when I actually have it in my hand, my brain shuts down and I can't figure out what to do with it. There's just so much going on, I don't know where to start!)

When I first started quilting, I wish I'd started with smaller projects and pushed beyond the part of myself that likes to flit from one thing to another! I'm sure it's just a personality thing, but I really do wish I could settle down and just FINISH something instead of being drowned by so many different things that I get overwhelmed and finish nothing. I'm not sure that's something that could be taught, exactly, but I do wish I'd bullied myself into finishing my projects way back at the beginning, just a bit... :D

I'm not sure what my favourite quilting tool is! I mostly like the basics - good rulers, good cutting mats, good rotary cutters (with fresh blades!). I've somewhat recently started using a hera marker and I'm really liking that a lot - one of the first quilts I ever made, I drew on the quilting lines with a mechanical pencil... I'm pretty sure the lines are still in there today so I appreciate the mark-free marker. (I won't use frixion pens because I do worry about what those chemicals are doing to our fabric while we can't see it... I probably won't ever have kids, so it's not like I'll have ruined family heirloom quilts, but I hate to think of my quilts rotting along those marker lines if they're silently doing damage that might take years to show up.)

The last question, the oddball question... who is my favourite fictional character? That's a tough one! I've never been good at picking favourites... but I'm re-watching the old seasons of "Game of Thrones" (no HBO, so I'm not caught up, so no spoilers please!), so I'm going to go with Arya for my favourite character. I like that she's trying to forge her own path in the world, against all the expectations people have for high-born girls like her and I think she might prove to have a truly fascinating story arc (but again, no spoilers as I'm not caught up and not reading the books! for all I know, she'll be killed in a random slip and fall of a cliff accident).

Okay. I can be a bit wordy. Apologies!

Block Choice
So I have wibbled over this for the last five months and I made up my mind a week ago to ask for something small - just 5"! - so that I could make a little wall-hanging or maybe cushion cover and NOT be left with yet another unfinished project. And I was super excited about it and made two blocks and took pictures... and then realized I should be more practical and ask you guys to make the last handful of blocks I'll need to finish this quilt:

Churn Dash

Last year I asked for churn dash blocks in all solids from two different groups I was participating in and this is where I'm at in terms of blocks. I think technically speaking I'm 8 blocks short, but there are a couple that are a bit small and someone sent me one with near-solids rather than actual solids, so there are probably a few that I'll need to replace. In any case, any spare blocks will either be pieced into the back or turned into a cushion cover. This is a pretty simple block, so I'm hoping you can all bang it out quickly and then spend some time working on something for yourself!

My preference is that you use bright, clear colours - so given the option between a sage green and a lime green, lean towards lime - but sincerely just use what you've got! I intentionally made two blocks with charcoal and a mint green, just to prove that those quieter colours can be made to work, so long as they have something to play off of!

There is a very good tutorial for the churn dash here at A Quilting Life and I've made another block using it just to be certain everything works out correctly.


An important note about the tutorial is that the Half-Square Triangles are made using slightly larger than necessary squares (many tutorials would tell you to use 4 7/8" squares), so you'll need to trim them down to 4.5" units after you've pressed them; the block may come out oddly sized if you don't trim. I prefer to start with the slightly larger size, just in case I don't get my seam allowance quite right, but if you're comfortable with your scant seams, then feel free to start with the slightly smaller square. Another option to consider is strip piecing the bar units - if you start with two strips 18" long (or 18.25" if, like me, you like a little wiggle room), you can sew them together along the length and then cut into four separate 4.5" units, rather than having 4 stop and starts. Please remember to use only two colours - the centre unit should match the background fabric. Press open or to the side, whichever works out best for you, I've got a real mishmash in the existing blocks.

Churn Dash Bits 029

Have fun! I can't wait to see what colours get added to this quilt! It's going to be the best kind of crazy when it's done I think.

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