Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy National Quilting Day!


Today is a special day for quilters: National Quilting Day is being celebrated around the world!  Perhaps your guild, local quilt shop or a nearby quilt museum has an event going on?   Over at the Quilt Alliance they have a blurb on their page about the origins of NQD.  Sadly, the organization that started it, the National Quilting Association, is no longer around, having disbanded in September 2015.  Yet another casualty of the changes the quilt industry is going through.  For some interesting historical facts about quilting itself, check out this post from the Art Gallery Fabrics blog from last year's celebration.

I am thankful for the day because it's a prompt for me to get back in gear because I haven't quilted a lick in over a month!!  After being so productive for the first two months of the year, I think I ran out of steam.  I was stopped by a usual culprit: after basting the two birthday quilts for my friends, I hit a bit of a road block in trying to decide how to quilt them. 


I thought I'd take a day or two to think about what I wanted to do.  You know how that goes:  a couple of days turned into a week, then two and in the interim I started piling stuff on my cutting table and cluttering my quilt space so now faced the task of clearing it all up before I could work.  I also started getting involved with other things:  gardening season is coming up and I am taking a class and starting seeds for later planting.....


....and a new and long desired crafty gadget came in the house so I got diverted playing with that (more on that in a future post).  My husband has been on vacation for the last two weeks so I've also tried to tackle some of the items on the "Honey Do" list.  I could/should have worked on the other quilt projects I had going on along with the gift quilts but I had told myself that the priority was to complete the two gifts so I needed to focus on them only -- and then I didn't!!

It's ironic -- while the quilting has always presented a stopping point for me, the reasons why have changed.  When I started quilting, I set out from the beginning to be a machine quilter.  Early on, I'd get hung up because I was literally scared I'd ruin my quilts with my inexperienced stitching.  With each project, it would take a while to get up the courage to tackle the stitching and of course, in the end, things would work out satisfactorily even when I could also see room for improvement. 

Once I gained confidence in my stitching ability, the panic then centered on how to quilt the quilts.  There was a period when I read a lot of books and blog posts and watched videos on that topic.  However, the biggest leap was taking Carla Barrett's online "Quilt Whispering" course which really helped me break down how to look at my quilts to figure out how to choose to stitch them.  Along with that was realizing that there is no "one perfect way" to quilt any quilt -- for each one there are many options and you have to just choose one (or many) and go for it! 

Graphic courtesy of Sandy's "Quilting For the Rest of Us" blog

So now my challenge is to keep myself from getting hung up on that fine line between listening to the quilt and wanting to make the stitching the best it can be but not wanting to spend any more time on it than I have to.  However, I'm reminded now (as I consider where I am with these projects) that I won't know how much is "too much time" until I do it!

I had to clean up my quilt space recently so with that done, today will be a good day to get back into the mix.  There is stabilizing stitching I can do to get started and usually once I get a feel for that, my initial "whispering" ideas will come together.  If not, these gifts are now already so late that I'm now okay with going back to working on my other projects to keep myself busy if I'm not stitching on the gift quilts.  Judy over at Patchwork Times has another Quilt-A-Thon period coming up at the end of the month so now is also a perfect time to get myself in position for that too.

Hope you're stitching away for National Quilting Day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Another En Provence Update

On Monday Bonnie Hunter opened the last Link Up for the En Provence Mystery.  There are some really beautiful finished quilts there!  A few quilters went mini and made the units half size (1-1/2" finished rather than 3").  In particular, check out the ones where the quilter did a colorway different from what Bonnie had patterned.  My absolute favorite was Monica's, who blogs at Lakeview Stitching.  Her colors were inspired by flamingos and she used flamingo prints throughout the quilt and very effectively in the four patches of her outer border!   I found all the color adventurers very inspiring and want to try that for one of Bonnie's future mysteries.  

I decided not to link up since, as expected, I didn't have all my parts finished.  However, there are quilters who posted where they are in the process, whether it's partial tops, a block or two or they just have all or some of the parts done like me.  Some quilters have actually counted the pieces in this design -- although the reports vary, it's definitely more than 2,500!! 

I will say that as of Monday, I did have my Part 6 green/white/purple QST squares sewn up but not pressed open so after looking at all that finished goodness, it pushed me to get them pressed.


Last night, I worked on getting the Part 7 QST green/white/yellow squares sewn up as well.  I pressed them open this morning and then read the instructions and saw that I also needed sixteen sets of four (matching) yellow 3-1/2" squares so cut those out too.  With that, just about all the parts are now in place.


All I have left to cut are the side triangles for the Part 2 Tri-Recs (Triangle in a Square) blocks and to test out how well I like my mauve "constant" fabric (at the top in the picture above).  I have a polka dot sub-theme going on among all the colors of fabrics I used for this.  So when I found a mauve that was also a polka dot, I had to get it.  However, I also purchased another brighter (tone-on-tone) mauve with a circle motif in it that I also liked.  While I'm leaning heavily toward the polka dots,  I'm still debating which choice to ultimately go with.

I made a few of the Tri-Recs units with the polka dot fabric and put up a block and two sashing strips on the design wall:


I like how balanced the Tri-Recs units look against the scrappy block units but will put up a few more blocks and sashings to be sure.  Although for now, I haven't totally ruled out the alternate:


It would bring an added bit of  "pop" to the proceedings and draw the eye to the secondary stars created by the Tri-Recs units.  However, with all the scrappiness already going on in this, I'm not sure it needs another thing to draw focus.  I'll let it "simmer" on the wall while I finish up the gift quilts.  One of the benefits of having more than one project going at a time!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching 2/12/17

I'm checking in for another day of Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.
 
https://kathysquilts.blogspot.com/2017/02/slow-sunday-stitching_12.html
 
The snow from Friday hadn't melted yet and today we had icy slush falling earlier today so it's another good day to be in.


I had hoped to get the blocks I prepared two weekends ago stuffed with batting during the last day of Judy Laquidara's Quilt-A-Thon yesterday.  I didn't get them done then but fortunately, last night for TCM's 31 Days of Oscar, they aired one of my favorites, The Beatles movie "A Hard Days Night".


I had to tape it last night because we were already watching something else when it started.  So I got to watch it today while stuffing the blocks. 


I only got seven of the ten stuffed because I ran out of the batting I'm using for this.  When I went to the store last week, they didn't have any of the brand I was looking for so I'm going to have do a little searching around for it.  Also thanks to Elizabeth (a no-reply blogger) who commented with a great tip for getting these blocks easily stuffed with batting which I'm going to try on the next round of blocks. 

So I'm all set for a stitching session when we watch our Sunday shows later tonight.  When they're done and I get some batting for the other three, I'll have thirty blocks that are quilted and waiting to be sewn together.  Not too bad!


If you're not already coming here from Kathy's blog, head over there and see the beautiful quilt she saw being hand quilted during a recent guild visit.  It's truly lovely!  Happy Stitching!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Quilt-A-ThonDay 4: Tying Up Loose Ends

It's the final day of Judy's February Quilt-A-Thon and we're linking up at her blog Patchwork Times:

http://www.patchworktimes.com/2017/02/11/february-quiltathon-final-day/
 
I've enjoyed the opportunity to participate since I wasn't able to in the past.  I started earlier today and am taking a break to post this.  There's no shortage of things to keep me busy today like:
 
 Still finishing up the Golf/Mets gift quilt:


I left off last night having completed the basting of the center so have been finishing up the edges this morning and may try to start quilting it.

Evening Update:


Basting is done.  However, the ends of the cut of fleece I bought were cut really uneven so I should have paid more attention to the over all size I made the top.  I'm going to have to patch two corners of the backing.  Could be an opportunity to piece in the label!

I also want to get the mug rug for the giftee's wife started:


Note:  I'll be doing a different Word Key option than the one pictured.  On the Post-It are my notes for reducing the original size of the pattern (a small wall hanging) to mug rug size.

Evening Update:


I got most of it cut out.  I can't find my serrated scissors to cut out the applique letters so will have to do some searching so I can complete that part.

Then there's the next set of En Provence QSTs halves to be pressed open......


Evening Update:  Done!
 
 
....and then these to be sewn up:

 
 
The yellow and green triangles are for Part 7 and will be combined with the green and white halves I finished pressing on QAT Day 2 to create QST blocks.  The mystery ended back in January and there was a link up after that which I thought was the last one.  But on a recent post (near the end), Bonnie said she'd be doing another link up for En Provence on Monday.  I'm pretty sure I won't be linking up as I'm equally sure I won't be anywhere near having a top or even all (any?) of the blocks ready.  However, it would be great if I could have all my parts finished by then.

Evening Update:  Also Done!  I'll press them open tomorrow or Monday.



If I sew the QSTs then I'll also leader/ender this next Scrappy Trips block:


I'm really starting to enjoy seeing these go up on the design wall.  They sew up fairly quickly so I just may make this a daily "30 Minutes of Sewing" project from here on.
 
Evening Update:  And that's done too!
 
 

I also want to prep for Slow Sunday Stitching tomorrow:

 
I had sewn up these blocks two weekends ago and they need to have the batting put in.  Sunday night we have a lot of shows that we tape and then watch so it'd be great to have something to sew on while clearing the DVR.
 
Evening Update:  The one thing not done so tomorrow, I'll have to stuff and sew.  They're probably the only things I'll work on (well, that and pressing the QST halves open).

As always, I'll update this post at the end of the day with my progress.  Hope everyone gets got to take a stitch or two today!

Friday, February 10, 2017

February Quilt-A-Thon Day 3

Rounding the corner on Day 3 of the Quilt-A-Thon hosted by Judy over at Patchwork Times:

http://www.patchworktimes.com/2017/02/10/february-quiltathon-day-3/
 
The snow stopped yesterday but it's really cold here today so it's good to have another day to stay in.  Much like yesterday (and the day before) the agenda is the same:
 
Finishing the gift quilt:
 
 
Evening Update:
 
I decided to change the corner squares from the blue fabric I had used for the word appliques (a coordinating fabric):
 
 
 
....to the blue plaid from the fabric line.  It's a busier look but more balanced to my eye when combined with the busy border print and the fact that both prints are from the same fabric line.   
 
 
Today I'll be looking at batting (and whether I need it) and the backing fabric....
 
 
... and try to figure out (and maybe even accomplish?!?) the finishing.  Right now I'm leaning toward a pillow turn finish and then outlining the appliques and doing simple grid quilting from the front.  Although looking at the back, the logo squares make a tempting quilting guide too.  The other thing is to figure out how to label this (a must since doing taking the pledge last year) but I have an idea for that too.  

Evening Update:
 
There was definitely show through of the backing through the white applique backgrounds so I had to opt for using batting.  Fortunately, I had some that was thin enough to not add too much extra to the quilt sandwich even with the fluffiness of the fleece backing.  It'll be a little heavier overall but that's what a good couch quilt should be (and that's my story and I'm sticking to it)!
 
So basting has commenced:
 
 
But this means now I've got to come up with an option for the binding.
 

If I do any other sewing, it'll be on the En Provence units because they can just be run through the machine and I'd like to get all the QST squares completed over the weekend.


Evening Update:  Done! 


Tomorrow, I'll press them all open.  I even snuck in the start of another Scrappy Trips block.

 
Tomorrow is the last day of the Quilt-A-Thon so the agenda will be tying up loose ends and prepping for Slow Sunday Stitching.
 
As before I'll update on the actual "doings" at the end of the day.  A short list today for me for a change.  What's on your list and are you holed up in your warm quilty spot creating?
 


Thursday, February 9, 2017

February Quilt-A-Thon Day 2

It's  Day 2 of Judy's February Quilt-A-Thon over at her blog Patchwork Times

http://www.patchworktimes.com/2017/02/09/february-quiltathon-day-2-2/
 
Here in NYC it's a great day for a Quilt-A-Thon because.....
 
 
....we're in whiteout mode!  That picture was taken about 8 AM this morning and it's still snowing and expected to continue until about 4PM today.  I can measure the accumulation just by looking at my terrace.

 
Wouldn't have made a difference for me either way since I hadn't planned to go anywhere but does make staying in more cozy!  I had shopped on Monday and picked up some extra milk before heading to my meeting last night so we're all set if we have to stay in for a few days.
 
Late Afternoon Weather Update:
 
 
This was the accumulation reading around 3 PM which is around the time the snow was slowing down.  Note the change in the mound of snow on the raised planter in the upper right corner.
 
The bad thing about a Snow Day is that everyone is home!  Taking a couple of calls cut into my sewing time so I had to work late to get what I wanted to get done finished.
 
 
The Quilt-A-Thon agenda today is pretty much the same as yesterday:
 
Finish the last two borders of the gift quilt and hopefully get it layered and maybe even partially quilted.
 
 
 The backing is going to be fleece so it may not need batting.  Then again, the fleece is dark so it might need batting to cut the show through in the light areas.  I'm also hoping to start the mug rug for the wife of the golf quilt giftee.  We'll see on that. 
 
Evening Update:
 
 
All the borders are now on.  I had to change my plans a bit because I ran low on fabric hence the added corner squares and (although it can't be seen) quite a bit of "poverty piecing" of the strips in the last border.  Checking on the backing and starting the mug rug will have to wait another day.
   
I will also finish the Scrappy Trips block started last night as a leader/ender while sewing on the first borders.
 
 
Evening Update:  Done!
 
 
I also expect to finish pressing open the En Provence QST triangle sets. 
 
 

Evening Update: Also Done!
 

 
 
If I can, I'll start sewing the sets for the other parts.

 
 
Nope, for another day.
 
I'll be updating this post at the end of the day with what I get done.  If you're also snowed in (or even if you're not), hope you can  join the fun!
 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February Quilt-A-Thon Day 1

Today is Day 1 of Judy's February Quilt-A-Thon over at her blog Patchwork Times
 
http://www.patchworktimes.com/2017/02/08/february-quiltathon-day-1-3/
 
It's funny, in the past I've always wanted to do these but when the time rolled around, I usually had other obligations so I couldn't participate.  So far this year, not only am I able to do it but I've been able to sew a little every day.  Maybe I don't really need the excuse of the Quilt-A-Thon to spend some extended time in the quilt studio?   Well, the year is still young so I'm going to enjoy being able to do this while I can!
 
Speaking of  "while I can", last month I managed to spend pretty much the whole day and most of the evening sewing.  Today not so much:  I've got a townhall meeting to attend tonight so will have to break off early. 
 
Last month I worked on a whole slew of projects but today, I've got a focus:
 
 
I finally got the center of the top completed for the quilt I'm making for my friend's husband.  All the appliques are stitched down and all the sections are sewn together.  Now I need to get the borders on.  That's going to need some thought because I realized that what I had originally intended to do won't work.  After that I have to decide on whether I'm layering this with or without batting since the backing is fleece. 
 
If I'm lucky to get all that done today, then maybe I can start the mug rug for my friend.   Did I mention their birthdays are a day apart at the end of this week?  Fortunately they are old friends and I've already bought a card for them so if the quilts aren't quite ready in time, I can send birthday wishes and a temporary "IOU"! 
 
Evening Update:  I got two of the borders on before I had to break to go to the meeting.  Two more to go for tomorrow.
 
 
 While I've been sewing the top together, I've also been putting together "Scrappy Trips" blocks as "leader/enders" so will continue to do that.  
 
 
 
Evening Update:  As the borders were sewn, I got another Scrappy Trips block started.  As with the borders, it'll get finished tomorrow.
 
 

 Another leader/ender project has been the sewing for the En Provence (no-longer-a) mystery.  I have been pressing open the approximately 150 or so green and neutral QST units I've sewn up for Parts 6 and 7.  For some reason, when I started pressing them I found it really tedious to do so I've found it easier to continue pressing them in batches of ten at a time. 
 
 
Once that's done I have triangle pairs in lavender and green and yellow and green to sew for more leader/ender ammo. 
 
 
Evening Update:  Nothing on this today, maybe tomorrow?
 
I'll update this post at days end with what gets accomplished.  Will you be joining the Quilt-A-Thon today tomorrow?