Friday, December 8, 2023

Quiltville Mystery Season: Indigo Way Part 3

And the mystery continues!  If you are following along on Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery "Indigo Way",  you can pick up the latest clue here.  Remember, these links will only be on her blog while the mystery is current.  If you are interested in working on this later on, download the clues now.  Once the mystery is over, Bonnie will "retire" them as a pattern in her online store.  Also take an opportunity to check out the sights and sounds of Vietnam that Bonnie shares from her trip there that inspired this year's mystery design.  

Those that are working on Part 3 will now be making what Bonnie calls "Split Half-Square Triangles" and gives instructions for making them using rotary cutting methods and her "Essential Triangle Tool".  I know this block as the "Shaded Four Patch" because that's what Deb Tucker calls them and I use the methods from one of her technique sheets to make them.  

I've also seen this block called "Cat's Cradle" and there is a Creative Grids ruler to make them which I know about because I had purchased one as a Christmas gift for my MIL a few years back.  Lastly, if you follow the great You Tube videos of Karen Brown of Just Get It Done Quilts, she calls them "Mary's Triangles" and has a PDF tutorial on her website explaining her technique for piecing them.  It's great that there are so many ways to accomplish this task so use the one that works best for you!  

As for me, my mystery season is moving along --- just not as efficiently as I had hoped!  My plan for the season has been to finish up the mystery tops I've already made.  The first of those that I have worked on has been "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll".  The plan for this week was to get it layered and basted and start on the quilting.  While the basting is now done....

.....but it was a bit of a trial to get it there!  Last week I noted that I didn't have a lot of basting pins free at the moment because I have other basted quilt sandwiches sitting around in various stages of being or waiting to be quilted.  I was able to get the center of "Cotton Boll" basted with the pins I had free and ordered another set while doing some Cyber Monday shopping.  Unfortunately, when that set arrived, it turned out that they were not quite enough to complete the task!   

I had ordered a pack 50 pins -- yeah right, that only got me through basting one corner of this quilt!!  Needless to say I then had to run out and purchase another set.  I figured that if 50 pins got me through one corner, I'd need 150 to complete the other three.  The Joann's I went to only had packs of 100 or 300 so of course I got the latter.  Guess how many I had left when I finished the basting:

Yeah, used them ALL up, LOL!!  I will also say that when I finally got it all basted and turned the quilt sandwich over to check the back, I had some significant pleats pinned in on one side (how'd that happen?!?).  A similar thing had happened when I made my "Civil War Strippie" back in 2021 although not for the same reason.  So just like back then,  I had to put in straight pins from the back to isolate the area, turn the sandwich over, remove the basting pins in that section in the front and re-pin that area, making sure that the backing was pulled taunt.  Sigh!  Oh what we have to do to "birth" a quilt!!

However, now that it's ready for quilting, I am not resting on my laurels.  Since the cutting table will be empty while I work on quilting "Cotton Boll",  I've already pulled out the next mystery top I want to work on.  That will be "Old Tobacco Road" that was finished up back in 2021.  

Surveying the supplies I have for this one, I saw that I had a Twin Size batting sitting with the top and backing.  However, I had not written down the measurements of the top.  Taking them now, I see that it is a little larger than Twin Size.  The good news there is that the Queen-size batting I had used for "Cotton Boll" had been a little larger than I needed and I had cut a significant strip off of it during the layering process.  Luckily enough, that strip is wide and long enough to provide the extensions I need for the "Tobacco Road" batting!  So after I press the top and backing, I will be doing a little "Frankenbatting" work before I get the layering for that quilt under way.   

This will also help keep me on task for the "Cotton Boll" quilting since I will need the pins I remove from that one to use to layer the next one!!  Here's hoping that everyone is enjoying a little "mystery season magic" along with their Holiday Cheer!  

Friday, December 1, 2023

Quiltville Mystery Season: Indigo Way Part 2

It's another busy week for Quiltville fans!  In the Facebook group and on Instagram (here, here or here) you can see how far people have gotten with Part 1 from last week.  You can pick up the latest clue for the "Indigo Way" mystery here.  

Those that are working on Part 2 will now be making Red and White "Triangles In a Square" units.  Bonnie gives instructions for using rulers (which are on sale right now in her online shop) as well as provides paper piecing templates in the instructions so you can choose which way you would prefer to make them.

For me, this year's season is all about finishing up all the mystery tops I've already made.  I've started off the season by continuing to work on finishing my version of Bonnie's "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" (now in her book "String Fling" also on sale in her shop right now).  After five years of work on it, I have finally finished the top, back and label area (which I pieced into the back) so now I'm working on layering it.

One issue right now is that this is a big quilt but I don't have a lot of basting pins freed up.  I have at least three (ok, maybe four?) partially quilted quilts that I might have to consider finishing just to free up pins!

The last two I worked on are sitting on the back of the sewing table.

Well, I did order more curved pins as part of a Cyber Monday purchase but who knows how long they will take to get here.  Hmmm, looks like the next few weeks may be all about quilting not just the mystery quilts!  Well, I could use the practice.....

There's another good thing about tackling these this season.  Bonnie has always said she designs her quilts to be large.  That is perfect for me as it is an opportunity to clear out all of the Queen size batts I've stocked over the years.  

It's been a while since I've made a bed-sized quilt (the last one was here) so finishing up all the mystery tops will be a chance to clear out my stock.  I always hate to cut up a Queen batt for lap quilts or wall hangings so will usually run out and buy a smaller batting when I need one.  No need to do that for these projects!

While I am pinning, I will also be ruminating on how I will quilt this.  Given the busyness of this design and the size of the quilt, my first thought is to do an all over design. This would be the quickest way to go and the easiest way to maneuver this big quilt through my DSM.  To that end, I've considered "Stippling" but also came across notes for a "Feather and Swirl Meander" that is similar to what I did on a long ago quilt and originally learned about in this book.  

However, I admit that when I look at the top, I keep seeing the two alternating blocks and how visually they are oriented on strong vertical and horizontal axis.  I admit I've also found a few designs that tempt me to do two different custom designs, one in each block.  I've also considered stitching along the visual axis lines.  Okay, I will need to preview all of these to help decide which way I will go.

The great thing about the mystery season is that whatever you are working on, know that there are thousands world-wide sewing along with you.  Don't forget to download the instructions now while they are free.  Bonnie will remove them from her blog once the mystery season is done at which point she'll be selling it as a pattern in her online shop.  Happy weekend quilting!

Monday, November 27, 2023

Moving It Forward Monday: A Quilt Label and Cross Stitch

Continuing work on my "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" project during this year's Quiltville mystery season:  Having finished the top on Friday, I now need to make up the backing so I can then move on to the layering step. 
Finished Mystery Top

Backing Fabrics

However backing a quilt also means thinking about a label for it.  Early in this project, I had come across the perfect thematic design for that from an old Georgia Bonesteel "Lap Quilting" episode.  

Given the theme of the mystery quilt, this seemed like the perfect block for the label.

To make it up, that means I need to do applique.  I had considered doing this using the needle turn method but not wanting to turn the label into too much of an additional project (and spend too long a time on it),  I decided to default to easier methods.  

In the beginning, one of the things that got me interested in quilting was learning that most quilting methods could be done completely by machine.  I eventually learned that this was true even for applique.  My first introduction to that was from this book: 

Later on I learned about Beth Ferrier (on Simply Quilts, back in the day) and her methods for machine applique which called for using freezer paper templates and glue basting the turned edges:

I combined her methods with using C&T's "Wash Away Applique Sheets" (developed with Beth's technique in mind) which meant not having to remove the paper after the glue basting:

  After choosing the fabrics and figuring out the image parts....

I prepped the pieces to be sewn onto the the label background

I will say that I hadn't realized just how hard doing all of those points and curves would be to prep given the smaller size of the block I was using.  In the end,  my "Boll" doesn't look just like Georgia's but for a label, it's good enough:

So the backing is now done, next will be layering and further quilting stitch pattern considerations!

Also in the "Continuing Work" category:  I have put more stitches in my "Give Thanks" cross stitch project (last seen at the end of this post).

I had hoped to get this done to hang up for Thanksgiving but am now continuing to work on it until it's finished.  This way, it will be immediately ready for display next year.   So a little hand work finished off the Thanksgiving holiday weekend --- or was it to rest up for today's Cyber Monday shopping?  You decide, LOL!

Friday, November 24, 2023

The Start of This Year's Quiltville Mystery Season!

All the Quiltville fans like me were tuned in to Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site today because....

...Part 1 of the new "Indigo Way" mystery has dropped!  Bonnie says this year's mystery was influenced by her experiences traveling in Vietnam.  I was soooo tempted to do this one because the colorway is Indigo Blue, Red and Neutrals, a color scheme I love to work in.   If you are starting on the mystery now, you are making Half Square Triangles for this part.  Bonnie gives you instructions for rotary cutting them either the traditional way or using her "Essential Triangle Tool".  I see that if I make this one in the future, I have a die to cut them the size needed.  That would also take care of removing the "dog ears" from the finished HSTs like she suggests. 

If you are not doing the mystery now, the good news is that you can pick up the instructions now and file them away for when you are ready to make it.  I've made many a Quiltville design long after the mystery premiered so now or later, it will still be a gem!  

Also note: Bonnie is giving a 30% discount on her digital patterns.  She says this is the last sale of the year on her site so if you've coveted any of her patterns, go to the post and pick up the discount code and instructions for use!   If you would like to get the "Essential Triangle Tool" she is also giving a discount on "Notions and Tools" purchases too.

As for me, in my last post I talked about how I plan to spend this year's mystery season taking the tops for the previous mysteries that I have pieced and get them to finished quilts.  However, I still had one more top to complete: "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll".  Earlier this week I trimmed, stay stitched and measured the top and then started work on sewing up the pieced outer borders:

By Wednesday I had finished piecing all the borders.  Part of that meant also making corner units out of the extra side border parts although I had some extra strip pieced units I had put aside for this purpose as well.

I had tried comparing the finished borders and the top measurements to determine how wide to cut the inner border but it was hard to get an accurate read on it so I just cut them the width Bonnie suggested and figured I could cut them down if needed.  

The good news there was that the size she gave for cutting them was the same size strips that Fabric Cafe calls for their "3 Yard Quilt Economy Binding" and one of those was the last quilt top I pieced.  So I already had my Stripology ruler marked with GE Designs Ruler Stickers for the "shift cutting" I needed to do to get the width of strips I needed.  BTW, Bonnie also has these stickers in her "Notions & Tools" section so they are on sale if you need some!

After applying the inner borders, I actually wound up extending the top border and one side border by a pieced strip, taking a border piece off the bottom border and the last side border needed no adjustment at all!  The good news is that in the end, it all worked out and the borders are all on and now this old mystery top is also complete!  

The backing fabric is also already in house.  Aren't these just perfect for this?

I lucked up on them all the way back in 2019 and even better they were on sale.  In addition to making up the backing, there is also one other thing I have to do.  Literally, the same week I purchased the backing fabric, I happened to catch an episode of Georgia Bonesteel's "Lap Quilting" show from 1987 on You Tube.  She was talking about her "Cotton Boll Quilt" in the episode and this flashed on the screen:

Oh boy!  I was thrilled because my first thought was "Quilt Label"!!  I traced the image off of the screen to copy the applique design.  

So now I have to audition fabrics for it so I can stitch it up.  BTW, in a recent Pat Sloan video she mentioned that Georgia Bonesteel will be doing the December Birthday Block of the Month for the Quilt Alliance.  If you are a member (and you should be), you will be able to revisit Georgia's work and her many years of influence in the quilt industry.  

I had been wondering which of the mystery tops I'd work on first.  It looks like I will continue with "Cotton Boll" until it's a complete finish.  With its Red, White and Pink color scheme, it goes with the Christmas decorating I will do this year -- a rehash of last year's Red and White scheme.  So when this is done, it can be my holiday bed quilt!  Works for me!!  

Monday, November 20, 2023

Moving It Forward Monday: Preparing For the Quiltville Mystery Season

It's almost here!!  The first clue for Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt "Indigo Way" will drop this Friday.  For this year's mystery season, I'll just be gathering the clues for the new mystery because I want to spend the season working on all the mystery tops I already have finished.  The goal is to move them all into the "fully finished" category (sorry, that's the cross stitch talking!).  

I have four mystery tops and their backings already prepared:

Clockwise from top left:  En Provence, On Ringo Lake, Old Tobacco Road
and Double Delight

All I have left to add to that list is "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll".  This project has had a looong journey that started all the way back in 2018.

I scavenged fabric from the remains of other projects to make up all the parts for the blocks for it from December 2018 to June, 2020.

At this point, the String blocks on the left were still "in progress".

All the parts in the upper right in the picture above were sewn together into blocks back in March of this year.

During the holiday season last year, I worked on the string pieced units (using strings collected from projects and cuts offs over the years).  I finished up the String blocks for this project in February this year. 

I was finally able to lay out all the blocks on my design wall in July but didn't get to sew all the blocks together to finish the center of the top until the end of October.

Since September, I added the triangles on the ends for the outer border units as "leader/enders" and just finished those up this month.  

So now it was time to trim up the edges of the center in prep for adding the next inner border which will be green.

Bonnie gives a size to cut the inner border strips but she also suggests that the border can also function as a "spacing border".  So I may find I need to adjust the width of my inner border to fit what I need to bridge the sides of the center with the length of the pieced outer border strips. 

After trimming and stay stitching the edges, I've measured the length and width through the center as I do when I measure out my borders.  However, following Bonnie's advice, before cutting the inner border, I am focusing first on sewing up those outer borders, both to make sure the number of pieces she gave for that works and then to see if the inner border width in the pattern will work with them or need to be adjusted.

Well, this is going to take a while, LOL!  Good thing I've got until the end of the week!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Finished Or Not Friday: Two Fall Finishes

 This week I have a pair of finishes to add to the viewing queue at Quilty Girl Alycia's for: 

First up is a wall hanging that was supposed to have been a "quick make" for decorating last year.  As always, better late than never!  

This is my interpretation of Pat Sloan's "Thankful" quilt (scroll down to #85 on her 2022 gallery section) that you can find in her book "Holiday Hoopla" which was published by the dearly departed and missed Martingale and Company.   

When Pat showed her quilt last year when her book quilts were returned to her by the publisher,  my Fall Fabrics stash had been on my mind.  I had recently gone through it looking for things for two other projects that I wanted to do at the time.  When I saw her quilt, I knew I had enough in house to make it and still not deplete that stash of fabrics so I could also do the other projects as well.  

As I said, I figured it would be quick to make so got right to it.  I did finish the center of the top in a short time but debated about adding additional borders to make it larger.  

Then I moved on to working on holiday quilts and figured with the top mostly done, this would be a quick finish this year.  After I settled the border debate (adding one inch finished borders), then I couldn't decided how to quilt it.  

Pat (or Pat's long-armer) had done straight horizontal and vertical cross hatching on hers but I had initially envisioned Feather Wreaths in the setting triangles.  I tried sketching those out but it wasn't clicking and I wasn't sure what to do for the trees along with that.  Cross hatching kept popping up as the best option and then I got a brainstorm:  I've always wanted to try free-motion curved cross hatching with a ruler.  I sketched that out and decided it was the way to go!  

I combined that with diagonal cross hatching on the trees and now this one is finally up for display! 

The second one is another top from last year that is just now getting the finishing treatment.  This was a Fall-themed "3 Yard Quilt" kit that I picked up during the "All Carolinas Shop Hop" last year.  

3 Yard Quilt kit, backing and thread.

My MIL lives in North Carolina and I learned about the Hop that premiered in 2021 while visiting her.  We usually plan at least one of my husband's vacations each year to coincide with the Hop since my MIL is also a quilter so it adds to the "mini retreat" I have with her when we visit.  

This is the second of the three kits I have purchased (one each year) from the Quilt Lizzy shop in Wake Forest, NC.  They always have a great selection of beautifully coordinated kits and just like when you purchase them from Fabric Cafe, you can pick up a free pattern to go with it.  I had seen a pretty Fall-themed kit in one of the Fabric Cafe videos shortly before the Hop and was thrilled when Quilt Lizzy had just what I was looking for!  Even better I got the backing as a freebie from my MIL who had picked the fabric up from her guild's "fabric exchange" table.  I made up the top around this same time last year.

When I returned to it this year and even though this is one of the simpler Fabric Cafe designs,  once again I was not sure how to quilt it.  Again, cross hatching was the first idea and seemed fine for the Checkerboard rows but I wondered if I should do something "a little more" for the Pumpkin fabric rows.  When deciding on the quilting, it's always a matter of trying to balance the desired design with your skills and the time you have to work on it.  I really wanted to do something that would be relatively quick.  

Eventually I realized that maybe along the lines of cross hatching, I could use the Checkerboard piecing as the "dot to dot" starting point for a very simple "Zig Zag" motif!  I loved the idea since I could just do that right across the width of the top so wouldn't have to quilt the borders separately.  

I stitched the lines on my DSM with a walking foot and did have to do some marking of the "pivot points" in the Pumpkin sections in order to keep the pattern spacing even.  All in all, it only took about four hours to stitch up the whole thing.  Perfect and now also finished!



With these two done, now I can start putting out the rest of the Fall quilts!  Additionally, I am also still working on a Thanksgiving-themed cross stitch piece that I want to hang on the wall next to the "Thankful" quilt.

 This has been a daily stitch for the last week.  I am not sure I'll get it finished before Thanksgiving but my goal is to continue working on it and "fully finish" it this year so it is ready to be promptly hung up next year.  So I am thankful for my fabric stash and thankful for my crafts!

Edited 11/20/23 To Add:
And thankful to now have a cozy Fall stitching spot!

Let's also be thankful for Alycia continuing to host these "Finished Or Not Fridays" so we get to see what bountiful creative pieces crafters from all over the world enjoy making!