Monday, June 30, 2014

More Grandmother's Choice Blocks

6 Grandmother's Choice Blocks
I made 6 Grandmother's Choice blocks during my very productive month of March. It's one thing to make the squares but quite another to prepare a blog about them. Since then, I've made another 4 blocks. Here is my post for all 10 squares. Yup, it just keeps on going and going! As before, most of the information is taken from Barbara Brackman's amazing blog, Grandmother's Choice. The exception is block 48 which represents Canadian Suffrage. I researched it and found a slightly different story.

Block 15: Centennial
Block 15: Centennial


15. Centennial: New Zealand's Victory
Centennial recalls the 1993 centennial celebration  of New Zealand as the first country to give all women the right to vote in all elections. "Each year September 19th is remembered as Suffrage Day or White Camellia Day because supporters of votes for women wore white camellias."


22. Jack's Delight: Ridicule as Humor

Block 22: Jack's Delight
Block 22: Jack's Delight
Humor was used a lot to ridicule women who wanted the vote. Many of these "jokes" were published on postcards. "Historian Catherine Palczewski estimates that about 4,500 suffrage-themed postcards were published." In most of the images, women who supported women's rights to vote were depicted as unattractive, bossy, a bore, a busybody or even promiscuous. They might also have been depicted as too dumb or distracted to vote; and of course incompetent to govern.

24. True Blue: Too Smart
Block 24: True Blue
Block 24: True Blue
At the time, a woman was called a blue if she was self-educated and a blue-stocking if she was educated. These terms were meant to be an derogatory, "although many women wrote they were proud to be blue. The word implied a woman who read, who wrote (for publication, horrors!), who discussed ideas, literature, philosophy and history, who valued conversation over card playing."

Many women in Great Britain were arrested and spent time in jail for their efforts on behalf of women's right to vote. When in prison, women were identified as prisoners by the "broad arrows", a triple line stitched or painted on their coarse clothing. For many, the Broad Arrow became a badge of honor worn by women who'd endured imprisonment.
Block 30: Broad Arrow
Block 30: Broad Arrow
Block 33: Contrary Husband
Block 33: Contrary Husband

The Contrary Husband is a renown quilting block. Since women can be as contrary as men, Ms. Brackman examines the legislated right of a contrary husband. The case in point is Charles Lewis Bankhead, a drunk who abused his wife. Her influential family tried to intervene but there were few options available in 1815. "Charles had every right to beat his wife who was obligated to remain under his control."  

Block 35: I'm an Anti
Block 35: I'm an Anti
Not all women supported Women's right to vote. To be fair, it may have been difficult for some women to assert themselves, especially when some of the women in the suffrage movements were so militant. There were women however who were against women's right to vote. In the US, the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) was created. It seems that some of their arguments such as "Why waste time, energy and money, without result?" were more about the difficulty of obtaining the vote than actually being against women voting. 

It would be wonderful to think that women got the right to vote in Canada because politicians and men in general believed in the equality of women. Unfortunately, that's not usually how politics works and it's not what happened in Canada. "In 1917, Prime Minister Robert Borden felt he could save Canada's honour only by winning that year's general election, so he rigged the vote to ensure that he would." Borden's conservative government gave women in the armed forces the right to vote since they were the most likely to vote for his government. Recall that this was during WW1 and Borden needed more men to enlist, but since they weren't, he proposed conscription to force them to fight. 

Block 48: Fair Play
Block 48: Fair Play
Before the elections Borden's government passed the Military Voters Act and the Wartime Elections Act. "The first gave the vote to "all British subjects, whether male or female" who were in the armed forces. In one stroke, about two thousand army nurses became the first women to get the federal franchise." The Act also allowed the government to use those votes wherever they needed them, as opposed to the ridings where the people in the armed forces came from. The Wartime Elections Act took away Canadian's right to vote if they had become citizens after 1902 and came from a country that Canada was fighting. These changes ensured that people who were likely to vote conservative got the right to vote (women in the armed forces) while taking away the vote of new immigrants who generally voted Liberal. 

"Margaret Gordon, president of the Canadian National Suffrage Association, said it would have been more honest to make it illegal not to vote Conservative."

Borden's campaign promised all women the federal vote and, in 1918, they got it. By the early 1920s, women also had the provincial vote everywhere but Quebec, which resisted the inevitable until 1940.

FYI, this information is from Jensen, Sid. You Don't vote for Kings, Beaver, Apr/May2007, Vol. 87, Issue 2 It's probably a little more realistic than Ms. Brackman's view.

Block 2: Amethyst
Block 2: Amethyst
The purple amethyst reminds us of the purple, green and white of Britain's Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). They were a militant group that were also know as suffragettes. The WSPU's main mottos were "Votes for Women" and "Deeds Not Words". 

In the US, the main suffrage colour was gold. This is why I've chosen to use green, purple and gold in my quilt.

Block 16: Capital T
Block 16: Capital T
Many of the women who fought for the vote learned public speaking while fighting for another cause - Temperance (Capital T). It wasn't a bad idea, but since we know that organised crime became what it is today because of the temperance movement, I find it very hard to be sympathetic (besides I'm more of a "let live" type of gal).

Block 21: Parasols & PR
Block 21: Parasols & PR
Women used parasols to shade themselves from the sun. These yellow and white parasols were used as wonderful billboards for advertising "Votes for Women"!






What I learned:
  • It was only as I was trying to match the photos to each block that I noticed that two of my blocks are different from those on the Grandmother's Choice blog. Oops! It seems that I inverted some of the blocks when I pieced them. Unless you compare the blog's pictures with mine, you probably won't notice.
  • Most of the blocks I have completed are what I consider the easy ones - that is, the blocks with squares, rectangles and triangles. I really hesitated making the blocks that required that I cut out templates (irregular shapes from a pattern). The first one I made from a template was block 2. Since it came out much better than I anticipated, I attempted a few more. Block 48 is a more difficult template using circles. I was nervous but in the end it's a lot like putting in a sleeve when making a blouse. I took my time and used a lot of pins. Not bad for a first effort. I did make another block that didn't make it on the blog - I'll have to work on those Y seams (don't ask!)
  • Block 21 is an appliqué. I find appliqués difficult to make well, but if I don't practice, I'll never get better. The good thing about appliqués on a quilt is that I can FMQ on top of them to make sure they stay in place.
  • At the end of this post I had a total of 19 blocks completed. I did make another 4 blocks on the weekend - but that will be another day. I have start thinking (actually the correct word would be obsessing!) about putting these blocks together in a quilt. More on that later.
Tomorrow is Canada Day - hope yours is a great one!
Any day spent quilting or thinking about quilting is a great day :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Making Progress

Three Leaves
The last few weeks haven't been ideal for quilting, but on a road trip last weekend I was able to work on my embroidery/ appliqué leaves project. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to appliqué so much in the car. By the time we got to North Bay, I had finished the green leaf.  It wasn't my best work, but when I was extra careful, I was impressed with the results. The trick now is to try to be careful more of the time!

The green leaf was the third leaf of a project from the book Applique Inside the Lines by Carol Armstrong. During the 30/30 Challenge in March I had completed the orange leaf. I now have to sew the pieces together with sashing in between to make it look like a picture frame. I'll then sandwich and quilt it. Since this is such a lovely small piece, I'll probably hand quilt it. It'll be a nice summer project.

Before the weekend, I had a chance to start quilting a lap quilt. This is one of the projects that I made several years ago but didn't finish it since I couldn't free motion quilt (FMQ). What a joy to be working on these UFOs (unfinished objects).
Jewel Tone Quilt

I wanted to try something new for this quilt (of course). Since I've invested so much in Craftsy, I had to try out some of those new techniques. This one comes from Design It, Quilt It with Cindy Needham.

I started quilting it as she advised - "stitch every stinking seam"! I stitched most of the seams but didn't quilt the 9 patch blocks since that's where I'll be quilting the motifs. Not sure which ones yet. I'm waiting for my muse...

I've started working on my Grandmother's Choice blocks again. I've even been trying different techniques, but that'll be the subject of the next blog.

What I learned:

  • Applique is difficult! It can be done well, but it demands a lot of attention. I'm still very sporadic in my attention but generally speaking, it is getting a little better. I'm not sure that I'm going to practice till I do it perfectly!
  • I really appreciated Cindy Needham's suggestion of quilting every seam before doing the design FMQ. It stabilized the quilt, helped me get the feel of the quilt and gave me time to think about how I'm going to quilt it. Unfortunately I still have no idea what to do....that means that I'll have to wait till inspiration hits - or watch her video a couple more times!

Hope your first day of summer was good. Mine was awesome since my son came home from his summer job and we were able to celebrate his 23rd birthday.

Friendship is sewn with love and measured by kindness.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Cherry Blossoms Table Runner

I wanted to create a few table runners to celebrate spring. The first one was a playful, Pink Lemonade Spring Runner that now resides in Denmark. My idea for the second runner was something light that would highlight the beautiful cherry blossom fabric.
Starburst Design from Dot to Dot quilting
Starburst Design 

None of the patterns I had for table runners were suitable for what I had in mind, so I did what I often do, I adapted a large quilt pattern for the runner. The original pattern, Mod Cabin by Corey Yoder, is in the Fons & Porter's Easy Quilts magazine (Summer 2014). I thought that the modified log cabin blocks would look sharp within a runner and highlight the cherry blossoms fabric. To add a little punch I changed the direction of the middle block (actually I made a mistake but it looks good, so it's now a design element).

I had a lot of fun free motion quilting (FMQ) the runner. I used some of the patterns that I learned in Angela Walter's Dot-to-Dot quilting technique course  from Craftsy in the corners and the setting triangles.
First FMQ motif

I used a different pattern in each block for the space between the cherry blossom fabric. The first pattern was an element taken from a quilting pattern for a larger quilt. Once I finished the FMQ, I had to modify it since it really didn't give me the look I wanted.

Flower FMQ Motif
Flower FMQ Motif




The second and third blocks are great. One is a line of flowers while the other is a line of leaves. They were a pleasure to quilt. At my daughter's suggestion, I added a loop in the line between the leaves. That was a great idea!



Leaf FMQ Motif with loops
Leaf FMQ Motif with loops

I wanted something interesting but not too difficult for the runner's border. As you can see from the image below, I used an "orange peel" design. It's essentially a series of circles and quarter circles. I used a large pill bottle cap to mark out the design. It's a little tricky to quilt because of the travelling required to get from one circle to the next. Travelling in quilting is when you have to sew over a previously sewn line. If done well, you can barely tell but it does require a lot of precision (not my strong suite - but I'm getting better!)
Orange Peel FMQ Motif
Orange Peel FMQ Motif

I really like how the runner came out. It has all the elements that I was looking for in the project. It highlights well the beautiful cherry blossom fabric; it has a spring-like look; it wasn't too difficult to put together and best of all; I got to design and practice a variety of FMQ patterns. What's not to love. Finally, the best part will be giving it away to my aunt Édith. She's a wonderful lady who has gone out of her way to keep us connected to the family after my father died. As I get older, I realise the importance of family, even if they are not physically close by. This is my thank you to her.
Finished Cherry Blossoms Table Runner
Finished Cherry Blossoms Table Runner

What I learned:

  • It's probably a good idea to double check that all the blocks are facing the correct direction before sewing them together. Frankly, I think that having the blocks in different directions adds a lot to the runner but still, checking before sewing things together is a great idea! We'll see if I follow this learning through :-).
  • When I used the Dot to dot quilting technique on my Learning With Colours quilt, after the first block, I ended up marking all of the other blocks. Having quilted all those starburst designs, it was time to attempt them without marking. The results are OK. It's really not easy making those lines but they were more or less straight. The overall effect is fine. I'm sure that practice and attention will bring improvements!
  • Finding the perfect FMQ pattern to use is always a challenge. It's through experience that I'll learn what works. In the end, as long as it's not horrible, it's all about learning. Taking out big areas of FMQ is not what it's about - as many of the Craftsy teachers say "If you take out too much of your quilting, what you'll be good at is taking out!"


May your sorrows be patched and your joys quilted.
Enjoy the spring/summer! 

This post is linked to Fabric Tuesday from Quilt Story