Saturday, July 28, 2018

Speaking of Scrap Quilts....

Ooops!!  This was an old post that I updated and Blogger (messing with me again) changed it to the current date (which it didn't used to do).  Sorry about that!

September is underway....
I've started catching up on the wool ornaments....

Two down, four to go!
....and there's activity on the design wall......

Sorry for the hazy picture.

These are four patches made as "leader/enders" and braid units I have been collecting to make a quilt called "Confetti".  I'm hoping to enter it in the 5th Annual Scrap Quilt Challenge that the online store Fabrics 'N Quilts is hosting.  Entry deadline is October 15.  I wanted to work on this one because it is the most developed of my WIP scrap projects. 

I try to find scrap quilts I want to make before I have the scraps so that when I process my scraps they go right toward specific projects.  First I saw a "Confetti" quilt in American Patchwork & Quilting (June 2002) and thought it would be a cinch to save up the 2" squares needed for the four patches.  Later I became enamoured of braid quilts and found a design for one in a back issue of Quilters Newsletter (March 1991).  I collected bits and bobs for both for awhile and then one day I found a quilt that used both together!

The pattern on the right, also in a QNM back issue (September 1997) is also called "Confetti" and used both the four patches in the center like the APQ quilt and then braid units for the borders.  Don't you just love quilting!  The queen-size quilt called for 256 four patches and 304 braid units. By the time I saw the Quilt Challenge announcement this year I had 206 four patches but had not kept count of how many braid units I had cut.  However, since it's no longer a requirement that I make a queen-size quilt, I figured I should put the patches up on the wall and see what size quilt might be possible with what I already have on hand.

The only problem?  When I had originally started collecting for the QNM braid quilt pattern, it was designed so that the light braids and dark braids would be pieced on opposing sides of the braid columns so were cut in the reverse of each other.  However, even after I decided on doing the later QNM combined quilt, I continued to cut the braid units that way.  I'm only now noticing that if I'm going to use a white background as per the pattern, the braids as I have them cut will not work.  So the debate now is whether to change the border design to accommodate what I have or use a different (darker)background to provide a better contrast to work with what I have.  I'm still chewing on that choice in my mind and the decision will guide or may be made by my choice of background fabric.

Scraps or Scrappy?

I find that people often mean two different things when they use the term "Scrap Quilt".  For me, there is a distinct difference between "a quilt made from scraps" and "a Scrappy Quilt".  In an "Editor's Note" that was sent in an email back in March entitled "Scrap Happy", Quiltmaker Magazine Editor Rachel Peterson said this about the spring cleaning she was giving her studio:

"I simply had to ask myself, "Can I see this in a quilt?" If I hesitated, if I couldn't picture even a hint of a quilt, that scrap was tossed. A saying kept flashing through my mind that I learned while studying to be a journalist, "Slay your darlings." Obviously they were talking about words on a page, but it applied to my scrap stash. As soon as I cleared all the clutter and itty pieces I would never use, my stash seemed to fit together better. Suddenly I was seeing more potential for fabric combinations and quilt designs."

Now for me this is an instance where the plan is to "make a quilt from scraps".  That is, the goal is to take leftover fabrics and coordinate them together to make a quilt the same way you would shop for fabric yardage in a store.  There is nothing wrong with that approach  if you are setting out to make a quilt using a specific palette of colors and want to use up or put some of your leftover fabrics toward it.  This is exactly how I started the Valentines Day quilt I made earlier this year.  I am a firm proponent of the idea that your scraps cost you the same amount as your yardage so you might as well use them up!

However, I was surprised by her comment that any scraps she couldn't "see" going into a quilt needed to be tossed.  Yikes!!  My idea of a true "Scrap Quilt" and the ones I enjoy seeing are the ones made from every kind of fabric without regard to what it looks like or if it matches.  In quilts like these, the more different fabrics you add, the better they look!  My inspiration/mentor/heroine in that is Bonnie Hunter who, ironically, contributes a regular feature to the same magazine!  Her column in QM is called "Addicted To Scraps" and if you look at her quilts (and you can do so over at her website, you'll see they are full of scrappy goodness and include everything under the sun!  Bonnie always points out and jokes about the "Millenium fabrics" that still show up in her quilts from time to time even all these years after the year 2000.  In fact, people still send her their scraps of that kind of fabric and she has no problem adding them to her latest work.  She detailed her own views on the subject of making scrap quilts in this blog post from 2005

In  those kind of scrap quilts,  you may only worry about value (light or dark) and maybe tone (if you want the quilt to be primarily full of bright/pure colors or muted/shaded/toned colors) but sometimes even those considerations are set aside.  Many of the antique quilt gems we love were made from the scrap basket and suggest that the maker wasn't concerned about liking the way things went together but only with having enough bits to make the finished size quilt they needed.

Ms. Peterson's comment about "clear(ing) all the clutter and itty pieces (she) would never use" means she's probably never considered making a "Crumb" quilt (also known as Mile-A-Minute or Made Fabric).  For these type of blocks/quilts, there is almost no such thing as a piece too small to make a block.  If you google "Crumb Quilt" you'll see what I mean.  I've actually also got one of those that was in the process of being quilted when I stopped work on it and might try to also finish it up for the Quilt Challenge too.

Admittedly, your tolerance for what is "pretty" factors in here.  Some people find these types of scrap quilt ugly.  However, with quilts as with people, beauty is in the eye of the beholder or in the case of quilts, the snuggler!!  That's not to say that some of your scraps can't be reserved to stuff pillow forms or dog beds. But if I can put my scraps in a quilt I'm so much happier!!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Calming Down and Cleaning Up

You know things have calmed down greatly if I'm able to finally get back to my "Bucket List" goals!  Once again, I'm going to try to restart my Double Wedding Ring project because the Quilt Gods have sent an accountability angel:  Jo over at Jo's Country Junction has inspired me to get the DWR back into the quilting rotation with her new Double Wedding Ring Quilt Along on Wednesdays!   

She started this two weeks ago and I wanted to jump right in.  However, first I had another task....

….cleaning off my cutting table, LOL!!  Got to say it's been inspiring to read the posts from The Creative Spaces Blog Hop that's been hosted by Tammy Silvers of Tamarinis and Cherry Guidry of Cherry Blossom Quilting.  Watching all the participants show their studios, favorite tools and how they organize those tools (next week they'll be covering Fabric and Scraps Organization) was the perfect incentive to get my space in order. 
It has taken a while but....

….now, that's better!   So with that done and if I'm going to be sewing, I also need to do some additional studio maintenance -- namely, clean my Featherweight machine. 

If I thought the bobbin case area was dusty, look at the feed dogs!

I also lubed her up so she'll keep running for the indefinite future.  Now she's ready to go back into action!

There's also one other thing I've been waiting to do for her but since I still have to do it, I'll cover that in another post.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Checking in For June --- Two Days Late!

Happy July!  Well June turned out to be a whirlwind of a month and not necessarily for the reasons planned.  Following up on my last post: all is well with my friend -- she was able to complete her treatments with no more help from us out-of-town supporters than just weekly check-ins to keep her spirits up and commiserate on the challenges of dealing with illness.  While I still hope to go visit her (and now it can be just for fun!), we got word during the month that someone in DH's family (also in the South), was struck with a serious illness.  Once we heard that, I put planning to visit my friend on hold temporarily until it could be determined if BOTH of us would need to travel down.  If that happened, I'd make any trip South a "two-for-one" excursion. 

With regards to my own health issue, I believe the treatment plan is working although I missed my first follow-up because -- of all things -- food poisoning!!  The night before my appointment, I ate something that totally didn't agree with me and sat me back on my heels for two days!  It took another two days after that to rebuild my appetite and strength.  However, when I called to cancel my appointment, I immediately rescheduled for another so will go to that next week.  Prior to that and once I recouped, I felt fine so I am moving ahead optimistically hoping that the new follow-up appointment will confirm my assessment.

Add to all of that our community garden has been a hive of activity, most of which fortunately happened before my "incident":  we hosted two days of activities for fourth and fifth grade classes from one of the local elementary schools and then the following week hosted a garden outing day for a homeschooling group.  Our community paper also came by to take pictures and videos and interview our gardeners for a new online feature they are developing.  Then our garden was picked to be in another video feature, this time in partnership with the hot sauce company we grow peppers for.  Finally last week, employees from Google came to do a community service day at our garden and help us with some construction and maintenance projects.  Whew!  No wonder I didn't get to blog before now!

So enough about all of that, let's get to the real point of this post:  I'm glad to say that even with all of that going on, I was still able to make time for some quilting and:

Ta-Da! On Ringo Lake Is A Flimsie!!
 When I had to change my original quilting plans for the year, I decided to spend my time on what I called "mind-less sewing" and for this past month that was finishing the top construction for Bonnie Hunter's last mystery quilt.  I had started it last November with the intention of using it as a leader/ender while I also finished the 2016-17 mystery "En Provence".  When I last left off I was here:
 The blocks were on the wall and it was a slow but sure process to begin sewing the diagonal rows of sashing and blocks together (the blocks in this design are placed on-point).  I realize now that when Bonnie announces a mystery, one thing I usually don't take note of is how big the finished quilt will be.  I probably should since Bonnie is one designer (Victoria Findlay-Wolfe is another) that prefers to design what a quilting friend used to affectionately call "BAQs" (Big A** Quilts)!  When I started putting the blocks and sashing on the design wall, I ran out of wall and still had more blocks and sashing to put up! 
So I had to piece the top half of blocks together in order to make more space on the wall so I could position the remaining bottom half blocks and sashing for sewing together.  While sewing together the top half,  I also started placing and attaching the pieced side setting triangles.

When that was done I had to "scrunch" (technical term!) up the top part to make room to place the rest of the blocks and sashing for the bottom part. 
After the bottom block and sashing rows were sewn together, I needed to be able to see the fabric placement of the top triangles in order to decide where to place the bottom setting triangles.  With only so much space on the wall, that proved to be a bit of a challenge so I had to tape the scrunched up part on to the ceiling in order to be able to see it all, LOL!!  Sorry, I could have sworn I took a picture of that but I guess I was so anxious to try to get this done by month's end, I just rushed forward without getting a shot of it! 

8/28/18 Edited to Add:

Found It!  I knew I had a shot of it!
It took until yesterday to get all the remaining setting triangles attached and then finally get down to sewing up the last two long seams and four pieced corner triangles but it got done!
Needless to say I'm a happy camper since:

1)  I got this done before having to travel which was one of my goals for this.
2) I also completed my goal of completing both of the last two Quiltville mystery tops.
3)  Now I get to enjoy a special treat!
Back in January when Bonnie released the last three parts of the mystery and the Reveal, she had mentioned that there were Quiltville novelties on Zazzle.  I admit, I'm a sucker for quilty novelties and Quiltville branded ones?  I was in!  Actually this helped me out because a few years ago I had purchased two mugs from Dollar Tree that went with my kitchen d├ęcor. 
I also had an orange colored one similar to the color of my walls but I believe one of the guys must have broke that one since I haven't seen it in a long while.

Edited to Add:

Found a shot of the orange mug from back in 2015.
The lime green mug that's left has a big crack down the side of it that leaks a little so who knows how long it is for this world.  Up until then, I had checked to see if the store would get more in these colors but never saw any again. 

So when I saw that I could get Quiltville Mystery mugs in colors and then saw the colors for the mugs for these two projects, well I had to go there!  Since these were definitely more expensive than Dollar Store mugs (although I was able to get them while on sale -- whoot! whoot!),  I will be guarding these with my life!  Originally, I hadn't planned to put these into service until both projects were quilted but with my electronic machines still out of commission (who's had the time/focus to take them in?), I don't expect these to get quilted any time soon --- not to mention I still have backings to make and plan to piece those too.

Panel purchased to piece into the On Ringo Lake backing.
So that was my June!  Let's hope July will be a little more calm (but I doubt it).  A very Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

(Finally) Checking In For May!

Seems like lately the only bogging I get to do is to periodically check in to let you know I'm still alive!  Unfortunately since the last check in, life has intervened in a big way which means my mind has not been on quilting the way I would have liked.

It started with a call from a very old friend (we're talking high school BFF) who was facing a serious health issue and was gathering her support crew.  Initially, tentative plans were made to travel to provide support but then it was decided to hold off until a later time when she might make better use of those of us coming from out of state.  Unfortunately for me, in the time between I was confronted with my own health issue!  So the last few weeks have been spent on assessments, researching information and determining treatment plans.  Now that all of that has been finalized (and the good news is that for now my own treatments won't get in the way of being able to travel and support my friend when needed), I'm trying to get my life at least a little bit back to normal.  For me that includes continuing work for the start of gardening season at our community garden and (for the purposes of this blog) quilting!

When I last checked in, I had just gotten ready to make good on my plans to focus on the first two of the "Bucket List" projects I wanted to complete for this year.  Once all the illness news hit, I admit that it threw me for a loop and made concentrating on those projects too hard to do.  So instead, when I could steal a few moments (or really needed them for maintaining sanity), I went back to "mindless sewing" to fill the time.  Believe it or not, for me that was tackling the top for Bonnie Hunter's "On Ringo Lake" mystery. 

I've spent what little quilt time I've had getting all the finished blocks and sashing units up on my design wall and then periodically starting to sew the rows of blocks and sashing together.  My goal was to try to have this top finished before I had to travel.  It was good "bit by bit" mindless sewing at a time when I needed it.

Before I had learned of my own health issue, I had initially anticipated that the trip to help my friend might be for an extended stay.  So I planned to take my Featherweight machine with me and wanted to gather up some projects I could easily work on while away.  After finishing the "En Provence" top, I had already started thinking about making yet another Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt --- admittedly inspired by Maggie Fellow over at her "Making A Lather" blog and reading about her ongoing Quiltville Mystery Quilt Challenge.  The next mystery I wanted to make was "Old Tobacco Road" which was one of Bonnie's earlier ones from 2008.  I had downloaded the instructions back when she originally ran the mystery but it can be found today on her website on her "Free Patterns" page (scroll all the way down to the bottom for the early "Mystery Quilt" patterns).

I started cutting bricks for it as I cleaned up the leftover brown fabrics used for "Ringo Lake" when the blocks for that mystery were finished.  Then I cut and added bricks and larger squares for cutting setting triangles in other dark colors from stash and even found a potential border fabric.

"Tobacco Road" also needs scrappy light and dark 2" (unfinished) squares and triangles to make four patch units and pinwheel blocks so I set to scrounging parts for those units as well.  I was able to go through my bin where I toss scrap triangle cuts and HSTs and put together a quart size baggie of a good selection of  triangles and HSTs.  From my Scrap Users precut bins and from stash I bundled up light and dark 2" strips that I can strip piece together and sub-cut to make square pairs for four patch units and use the Easy Angle ruler (which I will also take with me) if I need to cut more triangles for the project later. 

So that is now all packed up and ready to go when the time comes.

Back in December another friend of mine had asked if I could make a desk mat for her office.  I didn't have time for it back then but now since we'll be traveling together to support our mutual friend when the time comes, I decided to cut strips for that as well to take along.  She likes purple and I had a stash of those fabrics as well as bright greens and creams left over from making Bonnie's previous mystery "En Provence".   My plan was to make a mini version of the "Moscato Di Asti" quilt pattern for her mat since she likes that type of wine in real life!  So I gathered 1-1/2" strips for all the colors the design called for and set those up for traveling too.

Well this sure is a vote for having multiple projects or ideas for projects going at one time! I'm glad I had these diversions around at a time when life prevented me from being able to give focus to more complicated projects like the wholecloth hand quilting or continuing work on my Double Wedding Ring.  While I'm a little disappointed to have to put those and my other "Bucket List Goals" on hold for a while, it'll be that much more satisfying to get back to them when life allows. 

Well that catches me up!  Don't know how soon I'll be able to check back in again but at the very least, I'll definitely try do so again at some point in June.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Checking in for the Start of April

Can you believe it!  I went to a gardening conference on Saturday and spent the day in our community garden on Sunday getting to see things like this coming in.....

...only to then start off TODAY like this!

Prince was right:  Sometimes  it DOES snow in April!

Fortunately, by noon it looked like this....

Temps are expected to stay up and we're suppose to get rain for the next two days so it'll probably be ALL gone by then! 

Admittedly, since my mind has been on the start of the gardening season, it hasn't been snowing progress in the quilt studio.  While I got the wholecloth basting finished last month, I still haven't put it in the hoop so there's that to do this week.

I'm hoping to be able to pile the bottom of the quilt into that bin while I'm stitching so it won't be all over the floor while I'm working.

I had planned to work on my DWR as my other "Bucket List" project for the start of the year. 

Rachel Hauser of the "Stitched In Color" blog has been hosting a "Big Bed Quilt-Along" that is supposed to end this month and the DWR was supposed to be my project for that.  I thought I'd have already gotten started on it by now but there's still a chance to focus on it this month and at least get the top done by month's end (she said, fingers crossed).  I had finished the piecing of the center back in August 2012 (although looking back, I realize I never posted about that!) and cut out the borders back in April 2015.  Now I need to add the applique onto them. 

In anticipation of the applique work, I decided to treat myself and sign up for Sue Pellan's "My Magical Garden" BOM.  For the blocks in it, she is using her Leaves Galore and Hearts and More templates.

The first two blocks of the BOM were just posted this week and I'll see if I can learn how to use her rulers to create the leaves for the DWR borders.  After I signed up, I bought the grippers for the rulers that she recommends and a couple of small packages of Mistyfuse.  While I'll use the fusible for some test leaves, I don't plan to fuse the leaves to the DWR.  There are leaves already appliqued to the center of the top that were machine appliqued using invisible thread.  Since I don't have working zigzag machines at the moment, I can't do that so I'll have to hand applique the borders ones for now. 

I've had the "Leaves" rulers for years, having purchased them after I learned to hand applique because I thought I would do a lot of those types of projects.  I've done a few but not as many as anticipated and to compound things I now have a lot of Accuquilt leaf dies.  However, I'd still like to learn how to use the rulers since Sue also has some interesting alternative designs that can be made with them like gift boxes and applique bows. 

At this point I also don't plan to make the whole BOM -- just a few units or blocks to get the hang of the rulers.  I am budgeting to purchase the Hearts and More rulers in June since the BOM won't be covering use of them until then.  

The goal of just getting the top finished is a good one for now since I'll need to get my other machines fixed if I'm going to eventually machine quilt this quilt as desired.  With the weather finally clearing, a trip across the bridge to Queens to have the repairs done is far more likely to happen.  My DH will be on vacation again in a few weeks so maybe I can plan to bring them in then.

Well, back to clearing the cutting table and organizing things (yet again) so I can finish making my project plans for the month!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Checking In For National Quilting Day!

Before the day is over, I want to wish a very happy National Quilting Day to everyone!
Since this is my first post for March, I also wish you a happy National Craft Month as well!

Image courtesy

If you are looking for fun quilty things to do for the day, you can check out the Quilt Alliance's home page -- they have links to free pattern sites for many industry companies.  I particularly look forward to trying Anita Grossman Solomon's "Make It Simpler" Hexagon cutting shortcut for 10" squares.  I think I might be able to make it even simpler using freezer paper.  We'll see!  I loved using Anita's technique for her Anita's Arrowhead blocks a few years back so like having an opportunity to try another of her shortcut block cutting techniques.

I started off my NQD celebration by taking a page out of the blogging book of LeeAnn Paylor at the Not Afraid of Color blog and making an "I Like" list of the things I enjoy so much about quilting:

I like Quilting #1: Utility

Brrr! quilt and coordinating neck roll.
I love that quilts can be pretty but also useful.   

I like Quilting #2:  Creativity

 Always a favorite of mine:  High Strung +2
Even with basic designs there also comes the chance to play around with layouts or add design motifs in order to "add a little something extra" to the things you make or to completely reimagine them or create something new.  There are no "shoulds" or limits --- whatever you can think up, there's usually a way to bring it to life.

I like Quilting #3:  Community

With so many blogs to read, social media to follow, linkups to join, guilds and sewing groups to meet with, podcasts to listen to, Pinterest boards to ogle  -- any way that you'd like to interact with like minded people, there is a way to do it.  Many times it doesn't even require you to leave your own home!

I like Quilting #4:  The History

Block purchased at a NY Historical Society exhibit.

I love seeing antique quilts in museums and quilt show exhibits.  I can read about the background of fabric and quilt style trends in books and on websites like Barbara Brackman's Material Culture and Civil War Quilts sites.  In fact, Barbara just did a post listing exhibits across the country that will be featuring antique quilts over the next few months.

I like Quilting #5:  The Goodies

This is the prize package I won from Meg Cox the Quilt Journalist from a giveaway offered in her January newsletter.   With prizes received from Meg (the True Blue charm pack), Victoria Findlay-Wolfe (a FQ bundle of her new "Parts Dept" fabric line) and Jane Dunnewold (her Creative Strength Training book had been on my wish list!), I think I got something better than the leprechaun's pot 'o gold this month! 

 My celebration activity for today is to continue what I've been working on all month:  I've been steadily (if not consistently) working on basting my wholecloth project.  Basting the high loft poly batting for the trapunto  layer took a lot longer than I had expected.  With my larger electronic machines still out of commission, I wasn't able to baste it the "tradtional" way by using wash-away thread and stitching it by machine.  I say traditional in quotes because the truly traditional way to do trapunto is to stuff cord, thread or yarn in through the back of the quilt after the quilting is finished.  Basting the first of two layers of batting with wash away thread behind the motifs you want to make "pop" is actually the modern approach to trapunto.  Since I've been sewing on my Featherweight this year and its throat space is small, I had to do the trapunto basting by hand.  I finally finished it all earlier this week.

It's also hard to get a good shot of all that white-on-white fabric and batting!  Now the quilt is layered with the second layer of cotton batting and I'm hand basting the three quilting layers together. 

Once that's done, this baby will be headed into the hoop for what I'm estimating will be the rest of the year.  Or at least I hope I can get it done that fast -- I found a few other examples on the web of people who had completed one of these preprinted tops and they have taken as long as four years to complete!

I hope you enjoy your National Quilting Day activities and any other projects you may have lined up to work on for the rest of this crafty month!

Monday, February 26, 2018

En Provence and Ringo Lake Update and Moving On To the Wholecloth

Joining in again for another edition of "Moving It Forward Monday" over at Em's Scrapbag:

In my last post, I thought I was done with the updates on my En Provence project since I had finished the top.  However, I had plans for one more touch to add to it and wound up getting it done a lot faster than I thought I would.

One of the quirks of this particular project is that when I started pulling fabrics for it, I found that I had at least one polka dot fabric for each of the colors called for in the quilt.  When I went shopping for additional project fabrics, I found even more so using polka dots became a sub-theme of the project.  Ironically when it came time to choose the magenta "focus fabric" I once again found a polka dot fabric for that too!  So needless to say polka dots abound in this top!

As I got to the part of the mystery where we had to piece the neutral borders for the top, I thought it might be cute to add "polka dots" to it as well.  My original plan was to do that by swapping in a dark square in some of the four patches that make up the last border but that didn't balance out visually.  So instead I decided to applique circles on the border as my "polka dots" instead.

As I found out in a previous project, an Accuquilt  GO! cutter makes short work of prepping circles for applique since you can cut both the fabric:

...and either fusible or (since I planned to do this by hand) templates (out of doubled freezer paper) for turning the circles.  Just cut a smaller circle for the templates than you do for the fabric.

As seen in the picture, I also used the templates from the set of  Karen Buckley Perfect Circles I have to turn the circles.  Since there were only five templates of the size I needed in her set, I cut the extra freezer paper templates so I could prep more circles at a time.

So now the neutral border has polka dots too!

Also this week, I finally finished up the last of the blocks needed for the "On Ringo Lake" mystery -- Woo hoo! 

Next step for this one will be to put these blocks up on the design wall with the units we had to piece for sashing and play around with the layout.  If you check out some of the linkups for this mystery, you will see that people have employed some creative placements of the sashing units --- and not always as sashing!

However before I get to that, I'll be focusing this week on setting up my wholecloth project.  I've finally decided on the additional stitch elements I want to add and have made templates (in freezer paper again) for those so have to trace them out onto the top.

Since the whole cloth is one of the big "Bucket List" projects for this year and I'm way behind on getting start on it, I'll be taking this week to focus on that.

There's so much more to see over at Em's Scrapbag so why not go and check out what everyone has been up to?