Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Magic Carpet Ride

                                                                           

Well, it was actually a braided rug.

I had an absolute blast of a week at the John C Campbell Folk School learning all about the art of braided rugs.

I wanted to have an adventure this summer and this seemed like
a fine place for one.  It's in a beautiful location that's drivable
from here (southwestern North Carolina, about 10 hours from my home in Tampa) and the range of classes that's offered is absolutely staggering (click here for a list of classes).
And I thought a braided rug would be fun to make, a completely new skill for me, and something that would look great in my wood-floored, Craftsman-style bungalow.


It all started here, with a box of 2" wool strips:


  Our wonderful instructor had brought some samples of her beautiful work along for inspiration

rugs by Diane Ellis


  Looks easy, right?



















We had these wooden "ducks" to provide tension for the braiding portion of the process.

In the old days they would have used a nail on the wall, or inserted the strips in the drawer of a heavy dresser.















The wool strips were threaded through these metal holders to keep them folded.

Ideally, when you braid you don't want any folds, creases, or raw edges to be visible.  Plus you want even tension so the braid comes out even.











 
After making several feet of braid, it was time to lace it together to form the rug.

As you can see, my braid is a long way from perfect!  Lots of folds are visible, although it got better as I went along.













The difficult part of the lacing process is getting the rug to lay flat, even when going around the curves.

















Here is my rug just after being completed!

The class consisted of 7 other ladies plus our wonderful and dedicated instructor.  We all got along marvelously and it was just a wonderful experience.













The campus of the Folk School is breathtakingly beautiful, and quite historic.

My class met in this building, which also houses the quilting studio. (No quilting classes were going on the week I was there.)

















We had our class at long tables in this room, since there was no weaving going on that week.

Look at all those looms!  My next class might have to be weaving.












Every morning started out cool and misty. . .



















And ended up being sunny and gorgeous!














I can't wait to go back!                                                            






Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Going to the dogs: Final Chapter


An epic custom order is complete:


You'll recall from this post that a customer had commissioned a quilt made from many years accumulation of dog kerchiefs.  She had owned a series of poodles and every week they went to the groomer for a bath and a kerchief.  

It's been a long journey from what was
many bags of kerchiefs in every color and
size .  . .
















to organized sets of blocks. . .















layout. . .














and completion!

I hope it looks as good on my customer's bed as it does on mine!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Going to Dresden-- the big finish!

Let's finish our Dresden Plate blocks with an easy way to make perfect circles and lots of fancy stitches!

(If you need to catch up:  Part 1 and Part 2)

We've constructed the petal portion of the block and pinned it to an 18 1/2" square of background fabric.
To construct the center circles:  find a bowl, plate, or something circular that's at least 3/4 of an inch larger than the center of the block.  I used a 9" luncheon size plate and it worked just fine.

Trace the circle onto a piece of lightweight fusible stabilizer.  I always have a bolt of Pellon 960F in the house for making T shirt quilts, so that's what I used.





 Cut out the circle a little outside of the drawn line, and pin it to the fabric you've chosen for the center.

Pin right sides together:  the rougher side of the stabilizer is the right side, so have that facing the right side of the fabric.







 Sew all the way around the circle on the drawn line.



Trim away the excess fabric, then cut a slit in the back of the stabilizer.

Pull the the fabric through the hole.  You will have a circle with the right side of the fabric facing up and the right (rougher) side of the fusible stabilizer on the back facing down.
 Center the circle and iron to fuse to the block.
Now it's time for my favorite part:  fancy stitches!

These pictures were taken from the back of the completed blocks (before basting and quilting).



A narrow zig zag stitch, a single or double blanket stitch, or a satin stitch around the edges of the petals and the outside of the circle will all work fine.



Baste and quilt to finish.

My sampler turned out about 18 x 54"











With all the bright colors I used for the blocks I decided to keep the quilting simple with wavy horizontal lines done in invisible thread.













Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Going to Dresden, Part 2


This is a continuation of my last post, about constructing Dresden Plate blocks the Quick and Easy way using the Accuquilt Go cutter tumbler block die.  Click here for the full post and join in the fun!


We have 13 tumbler blocks cut out so it's time to start sewing.


Take each block and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together.
Press.


Sew a 1/4" seam along the bottom edge.








Turn it right side out.

A chopstick or knitting needle helps to get that point fully turned.













 Press flat.














Have an 18 1/2" square of background fabric ready, and lay out the petals in whatever order you think looks best.












Sew them together in the order you selected, then press the seams open.













Center the circle of petals on your background fabric, and pin in place.

Next post:  we'll finish the blocks and have fun with fancy stitches!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Going to Dresden, Part 1





Not this one, although I've been there and it's lovely






THIS ONE












I recently made several Dresden Plate blocks with my quilt guild as part of our ongoing Charity Quilt project and, while I loved how the blocks turned out, the traditional method of construction was a little fussy for me, involving making templates, tracing around them, cutting them out and THEN getting to the actual construction process. There's of course nothing wrong with doing it that way, but working with handmade templates has never given me my most accurate, or satisfying, results.  And I'm all about instant gratification, or as close as you can get to it when quilting!

Well, what about the Accuquilt Go cutter, my go-to gadget for quick and accurate cutting?

There is, in fact, a Dresden Plate die:


AccuQuilt-GO-Fabric-Cutting-Die-Dresden-Plates-55071-Block-On-Board-Quilting 

But here's the catch:  it's $89.99, making it one of the most expensive dies made. That's just way out of the budget for this underemployed divorced violinist.  (If you're feeling flush, it's available at www.accuquilt.com).
HOWEVER:  take a look at the middle row of the picture of the die.  See those blue shapes?  Don't they look like. .  .




. . .tumbler blocks?
YES.  You can make the petals of the Dresden Plate out of the 4 1/2" Tumbler block die, available on Ebay or Amazon for around $30, PLUS the die can of course be used for it's original purpose for a tumbler block quilt project.

That's what I call cost effective problem solving.



So grab some 5" scraps (or use leftovers from a charm pack), cut out 13 tumbler blocks and meet me back here for the next part of this tutorial!