Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Been A Good Week....

So all the stabilizing ditch stitching has been finished on "Modern Twist"....

I know it's hard to tell from the picture but trust me it's done!
...courtesy of a lot of "Game of Thrones" binge watching!  I had never watched the show before now but since I don't live under a rock, I've had heard a lot about it all through its run.  When I saw the teasers for the new season (Season 7), I thought I might like to watch it since the next season will be the last.  Only the previous season (season 6) was on "On Demand" through our cable provider and everyone I asked said it was best to start from the beginning if I wanted to really understand what was going on. 

I found out that because we subscribe to HBO we also get free access to HBO-GO and ALL the seasons can be viewed there.  This worked out great because that meant I could watch it on my phone or my laptop or on the TV by accessing it through the our PS4 console.


So needless to say, I'm almost caught up and definitely sucked in!  I'll be starting on Season 6 this week.  As for the "Twist" quilt, with the ditch stitching done, I can now move on to the "modern motifs" free-motion quilting I want to do on it.

In between "ditching and Throne-ing", I also cut out and started working on this table runner:


I bought this kit from Connecting Threads awhile back and it turned out to be the perfect in-between project because it is made "Quilt-As-You-Go".  I used some fusible batting remnants layered onto the backing and then the background wedges and the corner "tree trunks" are stitched onto it. 


After that I'll be fusing and machine appliqueing leaves onto the background.  The pattern calls for 40 - 50 leaves for each tree.  Fortunately that will be made easy by using my GO! cutter to cut those out.


I will be using the leaf dies from the Round Flower, Flower Bunch and Rose of Sharon #1 Go! dies.  If you need to figure out which dies have the right size applique shape for a pattern, you can download a "cutting equivalents chart" from the Accuquilt site that lists the size of all the die shapes they manufacture.  I used this as a quick way to see if I already had dies that would cut the shapes I needed.  It's great that you can add fusible to your fabric (in this case Charm Squares) and cut them with the die cutter, remembering that the fusible is considered an additional half layer when planning how many you can cut at one time.  Since Go! dies can cut up to six layers at a time, that means I could set up to cut four with fusible attached at a time.

BTW, Accuquilt has a block design competition going on right now!  If you have an idea for a block using Go! dies, enter and you might win some great prizes!  But hurry, entries are due by
 August 22.

As for me, if I can stay on track, I might be looking at some finishes by the end of the week!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Moving On....

So it's a new month and the design wall is empty...


...scraps from the last project were sorted...


.....the cutting table was cleared....


....and another quilt has been basted.


This is Modern Twist my project from the 2013 Planet Patchwork New Year's Mystery series.  It's been waiting a long time to be completed but this month is its turn.  It was the January pick from my APQ UFO Challenge list.  Over due but not to remain undone!  This is one of three Planet Patchwork mystery tops I have.  All of them are on my UFO challenge list for this year so eventually all will be picked and it would be a big feather in my UFO cap to get them all finished.

While "Twist" is on the quilting table, I'm going to try to start the cutting for a few new projects:


Also since the design wall is empty, I can start laying out the En Provence blocks as well:


As always I've got a long list of what I'd like to do for the month but will have to winnow that down to what I can actually get done as I move forward in the month.  To keep it manageable, I'll tackle it a project at a time, mapping out for each what it will take to get it done and being mindful of opportunities to work on more than one project at a time using the "leader/enders" system. 

With Summer winding down, what's on your "To Do" list for this month?

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Golfing Gift Quilt is A Finish!

 
 
Here it finally is in all it's finished glory!  This is "Jon's Gone Golfing With the Mets!" finishing up at approximately 54" x 65" using the "Gone Golfing" pattern by Rochelle Martin of Cottage Quilt Designs.  And just in time too, we'll be heading out to see the recipients (plural, the mug rug I made for his wife is here) this weekend.  If you'd like to read some process posting, please continue.....
 
This project started out with the "A Hole In One" fabric line from Clothworks.  I knew my friend's husband is a golf fan but he's also a NY Mets baseball fan and for a long time I debated about which of his interests to use to inspire a quilt.  This fabric line was perfect because it channeled the theme of the first and the colors of the second.
 
 
 Add some MLB fleece for the back to add the actual baseball theme to the mix and I was on my way!
 
 
Once I had the fabrics, I still needed a design to apply them to and when I saw the "Gone Golfing" pattern, I could immediately see the golf fabrics applied to it so now it was a "PIGS" (Project In a Grocery Sack) in a poke! 
 
 
It also helped that I was already familiar with this designer having made another one of her patterns three years ago (see it here).  Since using all the fabrics in the line didn't work for the pattern design, I had to add a few others to bring it all together....
 

 .....including key tone-on-tones from my "Freckles" (by Northcott) stash.
 
 
Construction-wise this one was all about strip piecing and fusible applique.  I had to change the pattern's borders to accommodate the amount of fabric I had.  I had purchased the "Hole" fabrics as four fat quarter sets because at the time that was the only available source for the white background print. 
 
 
I had worked on this project pretty intensively during Judy Laquidara's Quilt-A-Thons in January and February hoping to get it done for the recipient's birthday but I only got as far as getting the top done then.  (Unfortunately, Judy has since decided to discontinue the QATs and blogging about quilting although you can still visit her for her gardening, recipes and chicken tales.)  Then this "simmered" for a long few months while I decided how to quilt it.  Originally my plan was to just grid quilt it through the squares with a walking foot.  But when I started sketching out some curved quilting, I liked how it looked and realized that it sort of mimicked the topography diagrams of golf holes. 

 
I admit I also thought the curves would be faster to stitch because they could be done free-motion so would stitch out more continuously over the surface but in the end I don't think that was true.  When the center stitching was completed, I stitched-in-the-ditch around all the borders then debated what to do for the wider green and blue borders.  For the green, the solution was to make the pattern's applique letter templates smaller, print them on freezer paper and use them to spell out the names of famous golfers past and present.  If you're watching the (British) Open Championship this weekend, some of these names will look familiar!
 
 
Since the templates were freezer paper, they were reusable multiple times.  I did make multiple copies of some letters that were used more than once in a name or so that I could set up more than one name at a time (A, E, I, L, O, S, T).  One letter doubled for another (M was also W).  Since this pattern only had some of the letters I needed, I had to use some from the author's other pattern (A, C, H, L, M, N, O, S) and like I did for the previous project, make up a few that I needed that weren't available from either pattern (G, K, Y).    
 
Note:  A very handy tool when figuring out how to re-size pattern elements is a Proportional Scale by C-Thru Ruler Co. (now part of Westcott Corp.).  It is available from quilt shops (where I purchased mine years ago), art or office supply stores and even Walmart (although for once, their price is pretty expensive!).  Just turn the inner dial to match up the original size to the new desired size and it will tell you the adjustment percentage. 

 
In the past I have cut my own freezer paper sheets from the rolls purchased at the supermarket and that works fine for templates you will trace by hand.  However, when you need to put sheets through the printer, it is hard to get the rolled sheets to lay flat (even after pressing them or sitting them under heavy books for days -- ask me how I know!) so I'm loving the prepared freezer paper sheets I purchased from Martingale Publishing for that.
 
 
At first I free-motion stitched around the templates using a darning foot but found that it would often get caught under the freezer paper edges if they pulled up.  Something that I haven't use in years came to the rescue for that:


The wide plastic base on the "Big Foot" machine quilting foot kept the freezer paper in place as I quilted around it and that helped a lot to speed the stitching.

For the last wide blue border I decided to just mimic/echo the small orange border and went back to the walking foot for that.   At first I used painters tape (1" wide) as a guide....


...until I remembered that my walking foot has a guide bar!  So much easier and time saved not having to reposition (or even use) the tape!


I was a little scared about all the quilting because I have never quilted on fleece (or Minky) before but it was no problem at all.  I had no tucks and I've got to admit, I love the additional texture the quilting added to the plushness of the fleece.  I will also say that just like having a busy backing print, plush fleece will hide a lot of stitching sins too!
  
 
Back when I went to layer the quilt, I found out that the ends of the fleece I purchased were cut very wonky and because my border changes meant that the quilt finished a little larger than patterned, I was a bit short of fleece on the bottom of one side.  Note to self for the future:  buy an extra half yard of fleece so you can even the ends once at home and be mindful of how design changes will affect the overall size of your quilt as you are designing them. 
 
I decided that the solution was to piece in a label area on the short side.  Whatever fabric used had to be light or bright enough to write on.  In the context of the ball team's color scheme, the best color for that was orange.  Fortunately I happened to have the perfect "Freckles" color for that too!  I started collecting "Freckles" prints after getting some as part of a quilt kit years ago (that was for this quilt).   This particular orange was one I picked up on the "half yard sale shelf" that a local quilt shop (that has since closed) used to have.  At the time I really thought this line of TOTs were really versatile and a few years ago when I heard the line was being discontinued I stocked up on as many colors as I could get.  Since the cotton "Freckles" fabric was lighter in weight than the surrounding fleece, I also basted it together with an additional layer of batting so that area would have the same loft as the fleece around it. 
  

 
I originally planned to stitch the center of the quilt with white thread but felt it contrasted too much with the darker green and blue fabrics.  An odd choice of color turned out to be the best thing for overall "subtle contrast" for quilting all of the center -- a light green from Aurifil (#5014) which has been sitting on my sewing table since I used it for the bobbin thread on a Quilt-As-You-Go calendar quilt project I started a long time ago.  I also used this thread to SID around the borders.  For the top stitching in the last blue border and for the bobbin thread for the fleece backing I used Christa Watson's favorite "near black", the dark grey Aurifil #4241 which I finally got a few spools of.  For the label area, I used another unexpected choice, Connecting Threads "Cherry" (red) in the bobbin. 


 I stitched a basting line in the ditch around the label area so I would know where to make the bobbin changes for it when I was stitching in the front .   
 
 
Final debate was the binding but with little fabric left there wasn't much of a debate.  It was either the blue plaid or the orange plaid.  The orange was a little too bold for the front although I liked the way it looked with the fleece in the back.  If I wasn't so anxious (and time crunched!) to get this done, I might have opted to do a two color binding.  So I went with the blue although not on the bias as I normally like to do with plaids -- there's already enough pattern going on in this quilt and the print set on the diagonal seemed a bit too much at the end.

 
So I'm glad this one is finally finished and I can move on to other things!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

More Progress.....

Although I had hoped to have had the quilting all done by now, I lost out on two days of stitching during the week.  However, I'm still moving right along:  as of last night, I've finished quilting the golfers names into the top and bottom borders (in the pic below) and have four of the five names for the left side border done.


We'd got some maintenance work to do today and a gardening shift tomorrow afternoon so I'm probably looking at a mid week finish on this.  Just in time too, we have plans to visit my friends next weekend so thankfully, I'll have both gifts ready to bring too!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Finally Making Some Progress.....

Last week was a good week since I finally sat down at the machine and started quilting my friend's husband's quilt....

 
I was able to finish quilting the center (backgrounds and outlining around all the appliques).  This week I'll be stitching-in-the-ditch around all the borders and then work on the detail stitching in the larger borders.  I might actually get this wrapped up by week's end (she said, fingers crossed)!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Blue Baskets Mini is a Finish!

 
Finally!!  I'm dubbing it "Spring Basket Blues".

I had talked about the start of this little project back in May.  It's one of the monthly mini quilt kits from Piecing the Past Quilts.   For my version, I decided to add an embellishment of cut flower buttons I purchased from Aiming For Accuracy.  When I last posted, I had pieced  the basket blocks and some of the sashing....


Once I got the top finished....

...I needed to age the buttons.


I used some brown craft paint and lightly brushed and wiped off the buttons until I got the bright colors toned down enough not to contrast as much with the reproduction fabrics.

Before

 
After


Oh and the little butterflies?  I hope I'm not the only one that saves the plastic pin heads when they break off.... 

With the top done, next up was the backing.  I had noted in the previous post that I had plans for an elaborate back.  Unfortunately, the math and the amount of fabric I had left weren't a match and there was nothing in stash that I liked with it so I went with the solid cream back that had been provided in the kit.  Fortunately I also had a scrap piece of batting just the right size to fit.  One thing I love about making a mini quilt is that I can spray baste it and then it's on to the Quilting!

With everything basted,  I knew I wanted to find designs to fill the open corner and side triangles.  Looking through my quilt books, I stopped at Eva Larkin's book "Free Motion Quilting Made Easy".  In it she has stitch patterns that are designed for use in square blocks.  However, she notes that if you need to fill a triangle or a rectangle you can just stitch half of the design!  Brilliant!  I went though the whole book and narrowed about twenty potential designs down to two to stitch out.  Then the debate was whether to go for "subtle contrast" with the thread or use a matching one --- I admit I chickened out on this one and went with matching (especially since I was doing the stitching on my old back up machine and not my Janome).  That makes it easier to hide the mistakes but harder for me to get a shot where you can actually see the stitching (as noted in the picture at the top of the post).    


In any event, it's done!  I did my usual machine attached binding although for this small quilt and per pattern instructions, it's single fold.  Here it is hung, the Spring replacement for my little Tucker quilt (that's Tucker rolled up in front of the basket, to see it in it's full glory, click here).

There's more to do and more to see, so back to stitching for me!

Edited 7/10/17 to Add:

In light of my posts that started at the end of last year on labeling quilts, I figured I should include the one for this one.  This was a fun way to use up more of the kit fabric and a chance to use my Accuquilt Go! die.  Still batting 100%!!

 
(To see all the posts on labels click here.)

Before It's Over, I Better Get Out The June Update!

As of last Wednesday, it's now official -- Happy Summer!  I had hoped to get back to post before the end of May but life and "squirrel" moments got in the way!  This is the first full week of Summer and I am happy because as of right now, all of my community commitments (with the exception of the community garden) are on hiatus until September. 

Even all the spring prep work for the garden (both the community one and my terrace planters) is finally completed.  So far I'm signed up for volunteer hours on Sunday afternoons (with DH) and Wednesday mornings in July but there shouldn't be any of the hard grunt work of the last few months to do when I go.  That means I can expect to spend less time there (just our regular four hour shifts rather than a whole day) and expend far less physical energy than I have to date.  Not being exhausted on the return from the garden means I am more likely to be able to sew when I get back.

It is my plan to try to sew every day for the summer.  I didn't get to sew every day during the Spring but I did get some quilting done.  So what has kept me so busy these last two months? 

Well, I finally pushed through to a finish on the Baskets mini quilt!  You can read more about that here.


I also finally got started on "Catch" my project name for Brenda Henning's "Alaskan Silhouette Sampler" which I'll talk more about in future posts.


While finishing the basket mini and sewing the "Catch" blocks, I used "leader/ender" piecing and was able to finish the last two Scrappy Trips blocks I had set up as well as two more.


As you make stuff you generate more scraps and since I also needed more "leader/enders",  I also pulled out my "Scrappity-Do blocks"  (last seen on the blog here) and got nine more made up!


Still to do:  On the right in the picture of the "Catch" blocks you can just about see that my "En Provence" pieces are also still on the design wall.  That's because I want to lay all the blocks out before stitching them up but I'll need to remove the "Modern Twist" top (under the Catch blocks) to do that.

I have big plans for doing some Modern quilting on that one and have spent all Spring gathering ideas for that so now need to finalize them and get it quilted.   It should be noted that it was my APQ UFO pull for January!!  Needless to say that other project numbers have been drawn for all the months since and all of mine need to be quilted.  Yikes! That's six UFO projects identified but none quilted yet.  I really need to get to work!

Another thing I STILL need to do is finish the gifts for my friend and her husband. 


That's an old picture -- as noted in a previous post, back in May I got her mug rug quilted and bound.  The couple had traveled to Europe last month and I thought I'd give myself a deadline of finishing the projects up while my friends were away.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the date of their return before they left and cell access was spotty so we couldn't communicate.  Then I let other things intervene and they were advised by the U.S. Embassy to cut their trip short and return early.  The last leg of their tour had been scheduled to travel to Manchester shortly after the bombing that happened there.

Now that they're back, we're planning to get together to see all the pictures from their trip and I'd like to bring the gifts with me to that event.  My friend's mug rug only needs a label (and cookies baked to go with it and the mug) but I've still got to quilt and bind her husband's quilt.  With the "Blue Baskets Mini" done, that has to be the next priority.

The other "squirrely" (away from the machine) things that grabbed my attention all Spring:

Pat Sloan's 182 Day Solstice Challenge that started in December just ended last week. 

The MODA Blockheads have been going on since March.  Block #17 will be posted on Wednesday.

Sharon Barnes of Australia who had previously reproduced the beautiful Chester Criswell Quilt has been posting test blocks for reproducing her Malanga antique (actually "vintage" since it's from 1937) quilt.  She hopes to publish a book on the quilt and the blocks in 2018.  I'd love to dive into my 30s stash and work on those this Summer.

I've also been following the Simple Simon Modern Quilt Along in the hopes of doing another Modern project in the future.  It's posted on the first Wednesday of the month, starting back in February and will end in November.

At The Quilt Show, they have so many things going on:
* The Halo Medallion BOM designed by the recently departed Sue Garman and running through December.
Zoo Nouveau,  a Summer techniques sew along which started back in April.
*Designed To Quilt:  A series of lessons on the elements that make up appealing quilt designs.

Ricky Timms, the co-host of TQS, also has the free Legacy Quilt Club BOM going on at his website.

Piecing the Past Quilts (from whom I got the Blue Baskets kit) finished their Peace & Healing free BOW (Block of the Week for 33 Blocks) in May and started a new one, Rest & Refreshing, at the end of April that will end in September.  Block #10 was released today and prior blocks can be purchased from their site. They also have a free Summer Sew Along that started last week but I'm sitting that one out!

About a month ago, I discovered that Quiltmania has been doing another free BOM called Tuesday Hearts that posts on the Second Tuesday of each month.

Of course I'm also following Barbara Brackman's 2017 Civil War BOM called Yankee Diary the next post of which will be on Wednesday (they post on the last one of each month). 

And last (for me) but not least, the Temecula Quilt Co. scrappy First Friday Sew Along that posts -- you guessed it -- on the first Friday of each month!  I'd like to do this one (and/or Jen Kingwell's "My Small World" quilt) straight from the scrap bins this Summer.  Got to get organized though -- not my scraps, they're all sorted -- just me!

I know there's even more out there but with all of this, no wonder I'm so distracted!  Hope you are happily stitching away as the official Summer season gets underway.   As always, I wish you Happy Quilting!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Getting Back Up to Speed - Part 3

This will have to be a late post today!  I spent most of the day in our community garden and afterwards stopped off at Aldi's and Home Depot.  Being that it was the first long day working in the garden, I needed a long soak in the tub when I got back!  Only after seeing hubby off to work and catching up on my email, could I finally get back to quilt projects and posting.

With this post, I'm now up to the May projects!  As I was working on my friend's mug rug last month (see the previous post here),  I got an email from Piecing the Past Quilts about their monthly mini quilt kits.  I have been following their free Civil War reproduction Block of the Week programs "Peace and Healing" (which will be ending this month) and "Rest and Refreshing" (which just started this month and runs until September).   As soon as I saw the blue and white basket quilt kit,  I knew it would be just the thing to swap out with my little "Tucker" wall hanging for Spring decoration. 


Initially I held off getting it because as I said in my last post, I REALLY don't need any more project stash.  Yeah, that held until I saw these:


You may know Michelle Foster from the Quilting Gallery blog or from her Aiming for Accuracy pattern series.  Well now she is also selling buttons and other embellishments online at "I Love Buttons, Ect.".   I admit my Quilters ADD  has me wanting to do more embellishing of my quilts and I have seen a lot of cute quilts that had added buttons for that purpose.  When I saw the flower buttons, the Basket Mini immediately popped back into my head (a perfect vessel for flowers!) and it wasn't too long after that that the kit and the buttons popped into their respective online shopping carts!!

Of course I justified it by thinking that it being a mini and good for some Spring decorating made it totally acceptable to get them!  Actually, the only true justification will be to finish this one up quick, put it up for display and move on back to the other things I'm SUPPOSED to be working on!!

So right now I'm here:


I have to finish piecing the pieced corner setting units and then I can finish putting the top together.  I also think I may try to "age" the buttons a bit -- they're very bright against the repro fabric palette.  The quilt kit comes with enough fabric for the top, binding and the solid cream fabric is for the backing.  Oh, and it all came in a great little vinyl zippered storage pouch which you'll see later turned out to be very fitting! 

However, I was cleaning out my email box recently and happened across an old Quilters Newsletter post about Pam Rocco's "Kuba Carpet" quilt project:


The rails in her blocks reminded of the sashing in the mini and I liked the idea of maybe doing that for a pieced back.  So I'll be working on this little project for at least the rest of this week.  I'll check back in when it's done -- I promise that will be before June!

Also as my "leader/ender" project while working on the mini, I've been making more Scrappy Trips blocks. 


Up until now I had kept my finished blocks in a storage box with the strips, leftover pieces and ideas for other quilts to make from all the strip leftovers. 


It was getting a little crowded for all that AND the blocks so I looked around for something separate to put the blocks into.  Then I remembered something else -- I have a stash of vinyl from making covers for the cooler we keep on our terrace (long story for another time).  Back in February or March, I had pulled out all the vinyl scraps with the idea of making some storage bags.  I have a great "Work In Progress Bags" pattern by Amanda Jean Nyberg -- more famously known as "Crazy Mom Quilts" -- that I had downloaded from Connecting Threads back in 2015 (and she now sells the pattern through Craftsy).  I matched up the vinyl leftovers with different sized zippers from my stash (so I can make a few different size bags) and had set them under my cutting table for an "In Between" project.  Well once again, the QADD set in and despite being in the middle of the basket quilt project and the Trips blocks, I decided to try whipping one up! 


Fortunately, this made up in an evening!  What was cool was that the zipper I had set aside for this is an old metal one that is from my grandmother's sewing box back when I had incorporated her stuff into my stash.  The package says it was 45 cents back in the day -- you know that's an old zipper but it still works!! 


At least this quick little diversion is also a useful accessory! 
 
So that's where I am right now.  At some point I need to reset my plans for the rest of the year since I'm waaay off track from what they were at the start of it.  All the UFOs from my APQ list have not been touched so far this year and are awaiting quilting.  I'd still like to get my En Provence mystery quilt completed sometime this year (at least the top but preferably quilted and bound too).  I've also still got the two QOVs I worked on last year and it would be nice (but probably not likely) to get them out before or for Memorial Day.  I'll just have to see what May quilting flowers April's diversion showers will bring!