Saturday, December 7, 2019

Frolicing Along and Six Ways To Enjoy the Quiltville Mystery Season

Part 2 of the latest "Frolic" mystery dropped yesterday!

I'm not doing Frolic but I am working on some Bonnie Hunter mysteries:  I'm continuing work on "Tobacco Road" (an old Bonnie mystery from 2008) :

"Frolic" did four patches for Part 1 and I finally finished up these Part 1 four patches for "TR" too!  

I'm also planning to work on "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" while Frolic is happening.  I had finished Part 1 for it back in May and started on the Part 3 string blocks earlier this year (seen here and here) but unfortunately didn't get to make any of those this week.  Part of the reason I jumped ahead to that part of that mystery was to participate in some of the "String Alongs" that were hosted around the web this year.   Maybe I'll get to make some more in the coming week?

The best thing about Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville mystery season is that it's a community but doesn't require the things that often make people shy away from doing a Bonnie mystery:  the need to keep pace with the group or to finish or whether you like the current project.

For those of you who are (or want to) dive into this year's project, you can:

1.  Participate With the Group.

Follow the current prompts and plan your work around the weekly link-ups.

Tip:  Linking up doesn't require that you finished that week's section, only that you check in with whatever you have (or even haven't!) accomplished for the week.  It's guaranteed that whatever your progress is, there will be someone else encouraged by the fact that they are at the same point in the process as you are!

2.  Figure Out How To "Tweak" the Design.

 I'm a scrappy girl so it's rare that I will not like Bonnie's design.  I have however, sometimes not loved the color scheme.  One thing I always enjoy seeing in the weekly linkups (which this year will be on Instagram) is how other people have interpreted her color scheme.

There are also people out there who as the mystery progresses, will try to figure out what the final layout is.  This can be fun and helpful later on:  it's a challenge to see if you are "thinking like Bonnie" and guess the final layout of the pieced components correctly.  But even if you don't, you may stumble on a block combination that you will use to make your own unique layout.  Even better, if you realize that you pieced a section wrong or don't like the way the colors or fabrics you have used work in the final design, one of your changes might help make your "design decision" work for you!

Although be warned, I didn't like the color scheme of  Bonnie's 2008 "Double Delight" design when it first debuted.  Then in 2018  (many years after I became enamored with the Civil War repro palette) I realized what I had been missing out on and had to run and make it up!  If you don't like it now, you might just covet it later!

For those who aren't quite ready to jump into this year's mystery:

3.  Follow the Weekly Prompts.

Use the mystery season or the weekly prompts while the current mystery is going on as a "call to action" to finish up a prior year mystery project.   Last year, conscious that I had not one but TWO of the most recent mysteries finished but waiting to be quilted, I didn't take on the challenge of gathering fabrics for the new one.  Instead I embarked on one of Bonnie's older mysteries that I could start by using the scraps from the ones already completed.  So while the world was working on "Good Fortune", I was having a "Double Delight" doing Bonnie's mystery from 2008.  Even then I didn't finish exactly when "Good Fortune" ended (well, it didn't help that I hadn't started at the same time either!)  but I was engaged enough in the project to continue with it and finish the top and backing a month later.  Actually, I did start the prior year's mystery "On Ringo Lake" when Bonnie did (because for that one I loved the color scheme!) and used the weekly prompts to work on it AND finish up the mystery from the year prior to that ("En Provence"), as well!

A few times Cathy over at the Sane, Crazy and Crumbly Quilting blog has done a different variation of this same process:  while Bonnie's mystery is going on she has made the same units called for in the clues for the current mystery but used the units to finish up another project.  So if Bonnie called for flying gesse she made them (although not necessarily the same size) and used them for an existing project she had that also called for flying geese.  This way she was "sewing along with the mystery group" and got a UFO moved forward!

4.  Create Your Own Mystery Quilt Finishing Challenge.

Take a page out of the book of my two heroines in Mystery Madness:  Jo Kramer of Jo's Country Junction and Maggie Fellow of Making A Lather.  For many years, Jo used the run up to the new mystery as an opportunity to try to knock out a prior year mystery UFO or make a bunch of quilts from one of Bonnie's books before the new mystery got underway.  Since 2018 Maggie had been on a quest to complete all the mysteries and completed the last of them this year.

I'm sort of following their lead in that after embarking on "Double Delight", this year's rash of String Alongs had prompted me to start "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll".  I added to it using the double pink leftovers from "Double Delight" and the greens from a Fons & Porter St. Patrick's day project called "Emerald's".  I'm using the excitement of the current mystery season to push me to add to the small stack of string squares I already finished for it and move it further along the track towards a finished top.

5. A Great Opportunity To Use Leaders and Enders.

One piecing tactic Bonnie is well known for promoting is the idea of using "leader/enders" -- that is using the piecing of one project as a follow-up to another.  Rather than putting a scrap through your machine that you will ultimately throw away, why not send a piecing unit from another project through just before or after you sew up that line of pieces from the current project.  It serves the same purpose of keeping something under the presser foot at the start of a seam and you get the benefit of finishing up a part of another project even as you focus on your current priority.

I'm doing that too:  I had kitted up "Tobacco Road" back in 2018 when I had plans to travel to help out a friend who expected to need help during a serious illness.  Fortunately she was able to make it through without the addtional support and now over a year later, I was finally able to get the "travel project" started during another trip this year.  So I'm using it as a leader/ender along with Cotton Boll and hoping to finish up both tops during the "Frolic" fun.

Other things to consider:

6.  It's Stress-free Sewing! 

Don't stress about the number of pieces called for in a typical Bonnie mystery design.  Bonnie has always said that she designs BAQs (Big A** Quilts) because she makes her quilts to be used and that's the size she likes to have on hand.  That doesn't mean you have to make the current or a past project the exact size patterned.  Many people have made smaller versions of the current project or changed the sizes of the piecing units to make a miniature version of the design.  You could also go larger if you choose.

Bonnie is notorious for using a lot of smaller units (1-1/2" or 2" cut) in her designs.  Someone like my MIL, who only likes working with "big pieces" would be put off with that.  I say don't be!  Make it a personal challenge to convert your project into larger piecing sizes to create her design.

Just Have Fun!

So I've said all this to say that the mystery season, like quilting in general, is meant to be fun.  You don't have to hew to a specific design or stress about finishing --- work in your own style and to your own taste and at your own pace to create a finish as you are so inclined.  But certainly at the least, take the opportunity to check in, download the latest "Frolic" part and enjoy all the community that surrounds this annual event!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Finished Or Not Fridays: Embarking on a "NewFO"

Linking up to another edition of "Finish Or Not Fridays" hosted by the "Hostess with the QOV Mostess" Alycia of the Alycia Quilts - Quiltygirl blog!  This time I've got one for the "...Or Not!" category although I will link back in a few weeks with the finish.

Years ago, Barbara Stanbro of the Cat Patches blog used to host a monthly linkup called "NewFo" which challenged you to share a new project that you started.  It was an interesting twist on the linkups that focus on sharing UFOs that you have finished up.  Despite having the usual multitude of projects in the hopper right now, I did have a very good reason to start yet another one.

I have my MIL, a fellow quilter, for my Christmas Kringle giftee again this year.  Last year I got her a quilt kit, a quilty mug and made a mug rug to go with it.  This year she asked for some notions which have already been purchased:

This is just a peek since I'm not sure if she has figured out how to read my blog!

When we visited her back in October, she and I had a conversation about "scrappy quilting".  I taught my MIL how to quilt and she has always perferred working with "big pieces" (nothing smaller than a 5" charm square) and in a controlled pallette.  She generally gravitates towards projects that call for only a few colors and then uses one fabric in each of the required colors.  However, she had worked on two projects in recent months that have pushed her a bit past her controlled fabric boundaries.

She is a huge fan of Jenny Doan and the Missouri Star Quilt Co. YouTube projects and has made a few of them already.  Back in August, she fell in love with Jenny's "The Big Star" project and made that one up.

My MIL has been trying to focus on working solely from her stash and this was the first time she had to challenge herself to start a project by figuring out what pieces she had in the amounts required and then make choices to coordinate unique pairs of fabrics together for each star and balance those choices and their placement in the quilt as a whole.  It was a real challenge for her but with a little help from me, she picked her fabrics and got the top pieced together and was reasonably happy with the outcome.  I think she'll like it even more once it's quilted --- complete finishes always tend to look even better than they did as just tops (IMHO)! 

She is also a member of a guild and in a "destash swap" got a few Block of the Month blocks already pieced along with the complete set of the BOM patterns.  She will have to make up the rest of the blocks to have enough for a completed project.  One of the rulers I bought for her Kringle gift is a specialty one that will help her make the pieced units for one of the remaining blocks.  The blocks that are already done were made up in a controlled pallette of Black, Navy, Gray, Dark Tans, Gold and Cream but with all the fabrics a scrappy mix within those colors.  During our visit, we shopped for more fabrics within the color pallette  (not her usual colors so none except the Gray and the Cream were in her stash) and that will add even more "scrappiness" to the finished set of blocks.

So project by project, she is getting more comfortable with the idea of "working scrappy".  She has often liked the quilts I have made and especially liked the Bonnie Hunter "En Provence" top I finished.  She doesn't think she'll ever be able to work that scrappy though!   I, on the other hand, have always loved the "everything but the kitchen sink" variety of scrap quilt so working scrappy was "in my blood" so to speak.  When I look at quilt designs, if they are not already scrappy, I think about whether they would work that way either with a scrappy mix of fabics within the colorway or if they would still work taking the "kitchen sink" route.

Recently I happened on an old Moda Bake Shop "recipe" from back in 2016 and saw an opportunity to make a quilted comment on the topic for both of us.  Even better, it was designed by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique, a pattern and fabric designer I really like for the color pallettes she uses.  I have her Frivols tin (#9) that I hope to make up one of these days --- or maybe not since like Jelly Rolls and Fat Quarter bundles these are just so cute staying displayed as they are!

The recipe as offered is for a lap quilt which is what I'll make for me.  For my MIL, I plan to make the same quilt but half size to give her as a wallhanging for her sewing room as the final piece of her Kringle gift.  I made her a walhanging all the way back in 2008 when she still lived here in New York and she still has it hanging in her sewing room today!

The pattern and the only pictures I still have of it which are in my journal.

I'm hoping this new wallhanging will inspire her as she continues to try working on scrappy projects in the future.

Of course, "S" is for Scrappy!
Once again, this is just a peek of what I've got so far.  I'll share more of it and the link to the recipe once I've got the whole thing made up and in the mail.  I'm hoping to make the U.S. Postal Service early mailing deadline on the 14th so I'm going to have to really focus to get this done!

Don't forget to go over to Alycia's to see what everyone else either got started, worked on or finished this week! 

Friday, November 29, 2019

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

No, not Christmas --- although now that Thanksgiving is done (and I hope you had an enjoyable one), it is officially time for that too! 

Right now, quilters all over the world are saying.....

----because the latest Quiltville mystery started today!!! 

This year's mystery is called "Frolic" and Bonnie says it was inspired by the Texas Wildflowers she saw on a teaching trip earlier this year.  Bonnie issued the introduction for this year's mystery quilt back on Halloween.  That resulted in quilters around the world gathering paint chips and rifling through their stash to begin putting together their fabric pallette for the new design. 

Once again, I'm not going to do this year's mystery just yet.  A small part of the reason is that that while I do like the color scheme, I'm not sure I want another quilt featuring lime green.   When I'm ready to dive into this one, I will make it a point to review the video that Bonnie and Holly Anne of String & Story did in 2018 on how to choose alternate colors for a Quiltville mystery.  That is something I've always wanted to do but didn't know where to start.  Holly Anne gives you a road map as to how to approach it.

Instead I will be content to do what I did last year:  as the mystery unfolds, I will download the parts of the current mystery while working on the MANY mystery flimsies I have in various stages of construction.  The two that are currently in production are 2008's Tobacco Road and Roll, Roll Cotton Boll which was the 2010 Mystery and can now be found in Bonnie's "String Fling" book.  I had started both this year and this week finally got my sewing machine table all cleared off and have them set up for daily fifteen minute or leader/ender sewing with the hope of getting both tops made up by the time "Frolic" comes to an end.

 I have three mystery flimises that need quilting:  2016's En Provence, 2017's On Ringo Lake and Double Delight from 2008 which was the project that I worked on during last year's mystery season. 

Talk about PIGS!!

Those first two still need their backings made up and I've put those and the quilting of all of them on the UFO schedule for next year.  

Once the mystery is over, Bonnie will offer the pattern for sale in her Quiltville online store.  So if you are even a little bit interested in doing the mystery (either now or later), at the very least download and save the "clues" now while the mystery is underway.  And don't forget:  you can also purchase Quiltville Mystery Swag over at Zazzle.

I purchased the mugs above when I had completed the flimises for those projects and I have pins for all but Roll, Roll Cotton Boll.

I expect I'll be picking that one up before the current mystery ends!  The proceeds from the Quiltville Zazzle sales go to purchase supplies for charity quilt projects.  A perfect way to "give back" during the holiday giving season!

I've scheduled the release of each part in my phone calendar so that I am sure to pick them up as they are released.  I've also scheduled a reminder to check out the links ups on the Mondays following each part release.  Part of the fun and thrill of participating in Bonnie's mysteries (especially when you are doing it vicariously) is to see everyone's progress:  are there parts they have a tip for piecing more easily?  What inventive color choices have they used?  Are they starting to guess how the piced units will be laid out?  Do some of those layout ideas sound like a good plan either for the units already being made (Bonnie DOES NOT REQUIRE that you make your finished mystery quilt EXACTLY like hers!) or do they give you ideas for a completely different project to make once the mystery is over?  The great quilting minds that come together during an event like this can offer up wonderful new ideas and information to expand your creativity beyond the current mystery project.

I hope you will enjoy this year's mystery season --- I know I will!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Checking In For October - Part 2: Travel and (Finally) Some Quilting

So in my last post, I detailed some October garden and car buying activities.  Of course, when you have a new car you want to "blow it out" with a good long trip.  Fortunately we got our new car just in time because my husband had a vacation coming up and we wanted to go visit his mother and her husband who has been ill.  Right before that though, there was the community garden event I had mentioned.  That happened the day before we took our trip.

Each year, our garden hosts the fourth grade of one of our local elementary schools in the Fall and then again in Spring.  This year was special because the fourth graders that came have been to our garden before -- three years ago they came as first graders and released butterflies they had raised in their classrooms into our garden!

All pictures taken by Debra Levine for Rivers Run CG.
This year, their gardening tasks were to plant tulip bulbs which will bloom in Spring and garlic to overwinter in our new community garlic bed.

They also particpated in workshops on composting (facilitated by two of our members)....

....bullying (facilitated by officers from our community police force)......

....and self defense (taught by senseis from a local martial arts school).

The kids always have a great time, come armed with information learned in their science classes and ask good questions.  They will be back in late Spring just before school lets out for the summer to visit us again.  Hopefully the tulips will still be around then and they will definitely get to see the garlic they planted and which will be about a month away from harvest when they come.   We always hope we have encouraged some future gardeners!

Garden event over, we were off!  My DH, DS1 and I headed down to......

....North Carolina! 

My MIL's husband has been seriously ill for a while now and the plan was for us to stay a week.  However he was released from a physical rehab facility two days after we arrived so we had to stay a few extra days to help out until they could arrange for home care.  We wound up not getting back home until this past Saturday.

The trip did provide a few quilty moments though.  The week before the school garden event, I had demoed a quilt class I'd been asked to do for one of our community's Building Associations.  Our garden's president has been trying to arrange a quilting class ever since she saw my last journal cover when I brought it to a journal writing workshop that was held in the garden.  Her Association got a grant this year to hold a series of crafting events that also address the theme of recycling.  A perfect theme for a quilt class!  Since their meeting room can't accomodate having a bunch of sewing machines, we decided it should be a hand work class.  Of course my first thought was for an English Paper Piecing class.  Popular as ever now, it also is a chance to talk about using recycled materials not only for fabric but also for templates and project storage.

I'd been gathering materials and project ideas since we talked about this in the summer.  I was able to present in the demo to the Association's Class Committee what techniques I could teach.  We agreed to hold the class in mid November.  With my husband taking the first shift for the drive down,  I of course, used that as an opportunity to work on hexies!  

Once we were in NC, the trip was also the opportunity to FINALLY crack open my long awaited "travelling kit" ---  I had packed up Bonnie Hunter's "Old Tobacco Road" last year as a travel kit and now I got to finally start it!

This is a post-trip shot of the pack up -- I forgot to take a shot of my setup while in my MIL's sewing room.  I got this started just in time too since Bonnie's next mystery will be starting soon.   We had been so busy down there that I only manged to get 3/4 of the Part 1 Four Patches done and barely started the Part 2 HSTs.  Now that I'm back home, it's a start that I can build on that's perfect for daily fifteen minute sewing sessions.

To take a break from caretaking, my MIL (also a quilter) and I did a little quilting retail therapy.  For me it was a chance to do some more mystery season prep:  I've long needed to rebuild a stash of the lighter neutral background prints of whites and creams.  As you can see, I did really well there!

All summer Vanessa Vargas-Wilson, The Crafty Gemini, had held "Friday Flash Sales".  Each week she offered a fabric bundle for a project kit.   In July she had one for a zippered pouch.  The kit included a bundle of fat quarters anchored by a cute "Church Kitchen Ladies" print and included a zipper with a cute charm attached and instructions to make the pouch.  Since my MIL is a dedicated church lady (although as far as I know she doesn't help with the kitchen duties!), I just knew she'd get a kick out of it.  I purchased the kit with plans to make it up and gift it to her when we got to NC.  Unfortuately time did not permit me to make the pouch before going down but I was able to make it up while there.  After I finished the pouch, my MIL wanted a strap so she could carry her keys and cell phone around while at church so I obliged.

This shot I DID get in her sewing room!
 As Vanessa had promised, the kit included more than enough fabric to accomodate the addition of the strap as well as provide enough additional fabric for me to make another pouch for myself.  I purchased the zipper for that during one of the retail therapy sessions and hopefully can get mine made up in the next few days (or maybe weeks!).

So now that we are back home this has been a busy week of appointments, checking in on our garden plot, laundry (despite having done a load of wash before we left!), shopping (to restock what DS2 ate while we were away!) and some additional quilty shopping for some things I hadn't been able to find while in NC.  With all of that and a forecast of rain for today, I decided not to buy candy for Trick or Treaters.  In fact, it's been pretty quiet this evening which gave me the chance to finish up these posts!  If you are entertaining little (or big!) visiting ghosts and goblins, I wish you a safe and Happy Halloween! 

Checking In For October - Part 1: Gardens and Cars

It's been busy since my last post and not necessarily with quilting -- at least not the quilting I had planned to do!  After finishing up my friend's desk mat, I expected to get started with quilting my Quilts of Valor for Veterans Day.  However, I had a lot of community garden activities to tend to first.  I had what I thought might be our garden's last pepper harvest to collect and submit (Rivers Run is one of the gardens that grow Serrano Peppers for The Bronx Hot Sauce) and needed to start cleaning our own plot for the start of the Fall growing season.  Our community garden also had a big event coming up so I spent a few extra days with our other members getting it spruced up for the event.  

I aso attended a workshop at another community garden, the Green Patch on Walton,  on natural plant-based dyes.  The brown cap in the picture below was dyed with Black Beans!

Before and After!
Caps were also dyed with onion skins!  

I was able to take another light cap (in the picture with the bean dyed cap) to try it at home.  I'm  collecting skins for that as well as harvested some fennel (which will dye something a navy-green color) from our community garden with plans to try that on some muslin.   I'd love to be able to arrange a workshop on this in our garden next Spring.    

With the preliminary gardening activites done, I thought I'd be free to quilt.  However, then there was an unplanned interruption in my schedule:  the sudden demise of our old car!  Our beloved minivan "Vanessa", a 2000 Mazda MPV breathed her last.  

Vanessa in her younger years
When the repairs she needed were going to cost more than her current value it was time to give her up.  And with that, my DH and I were thust into the world of Cars-From-This-Decade!!  It took us about a week to research models and features and view internet car reviews on YouTube.  My DH was really motivated to get this done as quick as possible since he works nights and in another borough (Queens) so had to take public transportation throughout this time.

Research done, we spent a weekend going around to dealerships and used car lots near us to familiarize ourselves with all the different car makes and models in person. Well, not all, we already knew we still needed to be able to haul cargo (for our youngest, the budding filmaker and our community garden) but figured we could downsize from a seven passenger van (in recent years we rarely used our third row and most of the time kept it "tumbled under") to a five passenger SUV crossover.  After hitting the dealerships and picking two finalists and seeing one really appealing "luxury option", we also searched internet car sales sites to expand our choices of what was available for sale.  We had been scheduled to go to a credit union car sale when a slighty older model of the "luxury option" was posted to True Car at a price that was within our budget.

Going to see it (a trip for us since it was out in Brooklyn!), we ultimately went with that one.  Ironically,  before this search this was a make we had no familiarity with --- a Hyundai.  We had seen the newer model of the car at the dealership but admittedly since we haven't had to carry a car note in ten years, it was more than what we wanted to spend on a car right now.  The tipping point was that when we checked with our insurance company on the coverage rates for all the SUV models we were seriously considering, the Hyundai was the lowest to insure.  Even better, the operator I happened to connect to also owned a Huyundai, had recently upgraded hers to get more features and assured me they were very reliable cars!  Couldn't get a better and better timed recommendation than that!  So we went with the one from True Car: a 2016 Santa Fe Sport that came with all the bells and whistles (Turbo, large touchscreen, sunroof and power everything).

Our New Yara!
To reduce our insurance costs further we also spent another week doing an online Defensive Driving Course.  At first my husband didn't want to do it -- he had done it online the last time and said it was text dense and a bit boring.  He would rather go to an in-person class like we used to do.  However this time one of the courses our insurer recommended was "Traffic School by the Impov Comedy Club".  Pretty funny, the same good information that you get in other classes and definitely not boring!  Even better, you have twenty days to complete it.  Once completed they gave us a discount code to pass along so if you're interested in saving money on your insurance (here in NY the discount is good for three years) use the coupon below:

Ok, so now that we had a car, it was time to move!  There's more to my October doings in the next post and this time it'll actually include some quilting!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Quilter's Favorite Reward.....

.... a gifted quilt received, put to use and appreciated! My friend sent this shot of her new desk mat in place.  I'm glad to know it worked out perfectly!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Latest Gift Quilt: Have Some Moscato At Work!

I'm happy to go to Alycia's  Finished Or Not Friday link up this week with another finish.  Woo Hoo!  The desk mat for my friend is finally

That didn't take too long did it?!?

Reiterating the back story (and if you've read this before, please feel free to skip ahead):  I have a friend that I've made a number of projects for.  She has taken most of the things I've made for her to decorate her cubicle at work.  For years, Melinda Pirone's "Moscato Di Asti" pattern was on my wishlist waiting for just the right combination of desire/need/fabrics to make it happen.  My friend's request at the end of 2017 was for a quilted mat for her cubicle desk.  Leftovers from that year's Quiltville mystery project presented the perfect combination of need and the resources to get it started!

My first attempt to actually start working on this was in 2018 when we had planned to travel together to visit another friend of ours.  This was one of two projects I "kitted" up to take along on that trip.

However, even after the trip plans got pushed back, I kept the two "kits"packed up so I could grab them at a moments notice of travel.  Fast forward to this year and my friend was coming to attend a music event in the community garden I belong to that was held back in the Summer (sigh, yes Summer is as good as over!).  I figured it was a good time to start working on her mat and maybe get it done to present to her.  Of course, the usual "best laid plans" (and the fact that I was working on three other projects at the time) meant that I only pulled it out and started on a bit of the piecing.  It took a lot longer than planned to finish up the other projects so only then did I get to really work on this.  Once it became the focus project, it was full speed ahead!

Last week when I posted I had shown my progress (above).  Only problem was that I had pieced some strips in advance and when I put up the blocks already made on my design wall, I also put up ALL the strips already prepared.  What I DIDN'T DO was check back on my plans for the layout. The strips I laid out filled out five rows of seven blocks and I thought that meant I needed to add enough additional strips to complete that many blocks.  At this point, I had to struggle to have enough of some of the fabrics that I started with to do that.  I did get it done (with a few fabric substitutions and some "poverty piecing" of small scraps) and got it finished.

Except --- Yikes! --- it was now TOO BIG!!  I had only needed FOUR rows of blocks!  The good news is that only meant taking a row back off  and fortunately doing so didn't wreck the balance of the colors in the design.  Whew!  The other good news was that I put some of the extra blocks together to use to  make a small quilt stitch sample for that step in the project.

I had a pretty "marbled" (thanks, Rebecca!) print I planned to use for the backing.  I had planned for the finished top to be 20" x 35" (5" finished blocks set in a 4 x 7 layout).  I had measured the backing piece and it was just about that size, possibly only needing a few extra inches in strips around the edges to widen it a bit.  Yet when I finished the (re-sized) top and held up the backing to it, it was not as wide as the top by a significant amount.  What gives?

Yeah, turns out you have to read the measurements on your mat correctly!  Tip:  when measuring from the short side of the mat, DON'T read the numbers at the end on the long side,  LOL!!
So this of course meant my backing piece though tall enough was not actually wide enough to make a one piece back.  No problem, leftovers to the rescue!  I  had enough of some of the fabrics and decided to try something I hadn't done before --- I cut 2-1/2" strips and created a panel for the middle in the style of a "jelly roll race" quilt!

BTW, In my last post I had said that thought I had used up all of the original light (white on cream) fabric I originally worked with.  Wouldn't you know it, now I found some more under the pile of the other fabrics!  It wasn't that much (only enough to provide two strips for the backing panel) but it would have been more than enough when I was piecing more block strips. Those strips will also serve as my label area.  Even so, I still needed to add some extra strips on the top and bottom to give me extra for the quilting.

As I did with another project this summer, I used preview paper to decide on the quilting.  I wanted to highlight the "stars" and wound up doing a combination of a swirl and outline quilting on them.  For the background the best thing was the simplest:  stippling (fast and easy).

As usual, I didn't really want to change threads too much.  I found a nice medium gray that worked on the dark areas however, it was too dark for the stars.  I was going to use white thread on the stars but realized that using a light gray actually worked better --- it made it all look like it was stitched with the same thread and giving the subtle contrast in color a nice overall balance.

Last was the binding.  For myself, I probably would have gone with a dark purple or burgundy but my friend likes lavender so I went with that for her benefit.  And clearly there's no question that the fabric I used is 100% cotton:

So my friend will have hers and I put a binding on the stitch sample and now have a little mug rug as a momento of working on this project!

My friend has two projects for her home that she wants me to make, but both will require design work.  I bought EQ8 last year so working on those may be an opportunity to get familiar with that program.  No time soon though, I've got QOVs to get to next!

With this project and post done, now I can go see what our gracious link up host Alycia is up to and check out what everyone else worked on this week.  Got a Finish?  Even if not, link up and let us see what's inspiring you this week!