Wednesday, April 1, 2020

BOMs Away 2020 Week 13: Christmas Figs and AQS Twilight Flurries

It's a layover week this week with the end of March at the beginning of it and the start of April at the end.  I'm hoping to clean up some loose ends this week before April starts in earnest.  With that, here's the BOM report for the blocks completed for the last two outstanding BOMs for March:

Christmas (technically "Scrappy") Figs:

The first block I made was the easier of the two:  the Flying Geese Criss Cross.  As always, with these blocks and the limited "coordinated by sales" stash I have, I'm always a little nervous picking the fabrics for each block.  In the end, I was pleased with how this one came out.

Now the second block was the tough one that I had avoided making last month when I was time crunched:  it's the Feathered Star block:

For this one, I decided to make my first dive into the FQ bundle of designer coordinated MODA Fig Tree Solids I have.   Believe it or not while it is a challenging block, it isn't hard per se:  This one is definitely about accurate cutting, carefully following the directions and taking it step by step.

The block is made up of twelve pieced square sections and four single fabric corner squares.  Joanna's directions are great in that each section of the block is cut slightly over size and is trimmed down after you complete the piecing of it.  For a job like this when it is important to get it squared along both diagonals,  I love using the Tucker Trimmer by Deb Tucker of Studio 180 Designs:

Unlike with my regular square up ruler, this one allows you to line up along both diagonals of the block which helps you to trim it up more accurately along all four sides.  Quilt In A Day's Square Up Ruler or any of the larger the Creative Grids Square Up Rulers would also work well here (Note:  the link is to the 6-1/2" Square Up but Creative Grids has larger square up rulers as well).

When Pat Sloan made this quilt as a Quilt Along two years ago, she demoed every block on her blog, giving tips that she found helpful to make them accurately.  I didn't think to go back and read up on this one until after I was finished.  Fortunately, it turns out I had actually followed most of her advice (including working on it over the course of two days!).  I guess all of that good info had been retained deep in my memory from when I read about it back then!

One tip I would add is that it was also very helpful to trim the the tips of the corner triangles when adding them to the pieced HST strips.  Of course another gadget helped with that!

I've had these Fons and Porter Triangle Trimmers for ages and every so often they come in real handy for a project.  There are other types of these around too --- Gudrun Erla has a set she used during the recent Elvira quilt along  and her set also includes a trimmer for 60 degree triangles.  When I made that project, I used the trimming tip on my 60 degree ruler.

One BOM down and one last one to go:  AQS Twilight Flurries.  This month's blocks are their #4 and #6.

Edited to Add:  I forgot to note that the block on the right was another one in this series that called for some of the units in the block to be paper-pieced.  Last month I had skipped making another of these blocks because I didn't think I'd have time to tackle that process.  Well, I didn't do it this month either!  Turns out Block # 6 offered another opportunity to use a gadget to work a little more quickly.  I used the Lazy Angle ruler and methods to cut and piece the corner units instead of making templates to paper piece them.  Fortunately the ruler makes units as small as 1" finished which is what I needed for this block.

Once again, I'm realizing that these blocks are kind of complex and I'm still getting a handle on fabric choice since I'm not working with the tone-on-tone/solids AQS used.   For now, I'll settle for having all the BOMs done until next week!

I'm joining the other BOM-badeers over at Lynette's BOMs Away linkup at What A Hoot Quilts and co-host Katie Mae over at Katie Mae Quilts!

P.S.  Looking for more Quarantine Quilt Alongs?!?  

Bonnie Hunter is doing a "Sew In Place Unity Quilt Along" that started Monday.  She says there's no paint chips for this mystery and the design will employ all of her usual "Scrap Users" sizes.  So here's a chance to pull out your scrap bins for this one!  Unlike Bonnie's usual mysteries, this one will be made medallion style so you will see the quilt develop as you finish each step.  This could allow you more flexibility to "design as you go" as far as your fabric choices, block substitutions and possibly any layout changes you might want to make.

As always, if you're busy right now with all those UFOs or that hand work project and can't sew this up right now, at the very least go download the steps.  They will be released on her blog and the "Unity" tab on her website every Monday for the next seven to eight weeks. Once this one is over, she will offer it as a complete pattern in her Quiltville Store.

Kim Lapasek of Persimmon Dreams and Trisha Frankland of Quilt Chicken are hosting a special edition of Project Quilting 2020 -- Quarantine Limited Edition which Kim says will run until we are all able to freely go back outside!  If you've always wanted to do Project Quilting but felt you didn't have the time to participate, here's your opportunity.

The first challenge went up on Sunday and you have until the following Sunday (Noon, Central time) to submit an entry.  This will be an "all shares" challenge with no prizes this round -- that is, none in addition to the admiration of or inspiration from your fellow quilters!   However, this could be the perfect chance to test your skills for participating in the regular Project Quilting Challenge event when it returns in January.

If anyone can survive a quarantine with sanity intact, quilters can!

Friday, March 27, 2020

BOMs Away 2020 Week 12: Countryside Cottage and Modern Bohemia

Having missed a week of sewing at the start of this month and before letting a new diversion sneak in,  I was still playing catch up on my BOM work for March.   After getting back in gear and getting a pair of Valentine's Day pillows done, I  quickly pulled out the Joann Countryside Cottage BOM blocks.  They are usually easy to make up since they are pre-cut.

Yeah right, never sew late at night when you are tired!  Didn't even notice the gaffe until I went to photograph the blocks, LOL!!  Oh well, there was always the next day to re-work them.

That's better!  Then it was on to Modern Bohemia.   I figured I'd get them pieced up and be able to link up last week which was the scheduled week for Bohemia and show the work the work done on both.  I had picked the stash of fabric I planned to work from when I finished last month's blocks which made for a quick start.

However, everything else took longer than expected!  I wound up doing the die cutting over two days rather than one.  I got the 12, 6 and 3 inch blocks cut out on the first day.  The 9 inch blocks weren't die cut until after all those were pieced and that piecing itself took two days.  Then it was another three days to die cut and then piece the 9 inch blocks although that had a lot to do with all the National Quilting Day/Weekend diversions online!  When those were all done, I put all the blocks I've made to date up on the wall to see where I am:

Hmm, seems I need to step up production on the 3 inch blocks.  No more turquoise backgrounds for now and I now see I've got no purple in the stash for this project.  Looks like I'll be doing a little  online pandemic shopping for next month's grouping!

I was hoping to maybe get this one finished up by June but I'll see how many blocks I can get done over the next two months before committing to that.  I also realize that when I plan the work on these BOMs where I have to make multiple blocks, I really need to plan to space the work out over a whole week.  Thinking I'll whip them up in a day or two just isn't proving to be realistic.

Now that that's in the can, let's hope I can finish up the rest of what I have to do for the BOMs for March before the 31st!  In the meantime, I linked up with Lynette over at What A Hoot Quilts to join all the other quilters working away at projects during this quarantine.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Quarantine Squirrel Moments

So the good thing about a pandemic is that it forces you to "shelter in place" giving you more guilt-free time in your quilt space.  The bad thing is that there are sooooo many quilt designers doing daily online videos and posting special projects online and through social media to help us quilters find something to keep us busy while we have to stay inside.  Although how many quilters really need something new to keep them busy?!?

Yeah, so this happened:

Remember back in my last post I mentioned that Gudrun Erla of GE Quilt Designs was going to host a free Quarantine Quilt Along for a new pattern called "Elvira"?   She hosted the quilt along live on Facebook (with delayed airings on her YouTube channel) this past Sunday.  The pattern was free over the weekend and would you believe:  16,000 (!!!) quilters downloaded the pattern!  If you like it, don't worry, it is now available to buy on her website.

So what prompted me to make this?  I've made one of her patterns before so knew I liked her design and instructional style.   I initially hadn't planned to participate since when the quilt along went live I was still going to be catching up on my BOM work.  However, after downloading the pattern, I realized I had a fabric stash already compiled that's been waiting for just the right project and thought it'd be perfect for this.  It also looked like it was going to be a quickie quilt and right now that appeals to me greatly.

However, when I went looking for the HSY stash I had thought of, I found another one:  I had purchased a fat quarter bundle back in 2017 from Turning Twenty from their "Specials" page.  I had hoped to use it to make a new Spring quilt to replace my "Fabric Gal" quilt that I had gifted to an ill family member in 2016.  I'd packed a few quilt ideas in with the stash but none had been ready for "boots on the ground".   When I saw that stash, I knew it was also perfect for this project and was even better suited for the simple but fun look of the "Elvira" design.  I needed to add a few more pieces to it to have what I needed for the (generously sized) lap quilt and wouldn't you know it, a few stash injections and some leftover cuts from the BOM I was working on perfectly rounded out the fabric pull.

From this....
To this!

So at that point, I committed to working on the quilt once I finished the current round of BOM work.  However, I did watch Gudrun's live streams on Sunday during which you got to see some of the inspiring fabrics, blocks and tops that other quilters were creating.  During the QAL, Gudrun also interviewed other quilt designers including three of my faves, Bonnie Hunter, Terry Atkinson and Pat Sloan.   All the designers she spoke to also participated in the QAL and made tops (well, except Pat who is still working on her blocks which you can see the progress of in her daily "Crazy Quilt March" YouTube videos).

"Elvira" is a pretty easy pattern and my favorite type of technique -- it uses a gadget!  If you own or have thought about buying Gudrun's Stripology ruler this is the pattern for you!  It really makes great use of the ruler for all aspects of cutting the fabrics and trimming the block units and finished blocks.  In the videos, Gudrun teaches you some advanced tips and tricks for getting the most out of the ruler.  I highly encourage you to watch the videos even if you don't plan to make the quilt but have a Stripology ruler and have never used it.  Also take a look if you've been considering buying one and would like to see if it's worth the money.  I have the original ruler which is now discontinued so is cheaper than when it first came out and now there is a new, larger Stripology XL.  Gudrun shows how to cut the fabric for this pattern using either ruler as well as using regular rulers.

The video sessions where Gudrun walks you through the making of the quilt are still up on both her Facebook and  QAL You Tube pages.  Its helpful to get to see exactly how the pattern steps are done and to get answers to common questions quilters had about making the pattern.  She even had a Spotify playlist on the bottom of the QAL page if  you needed a little background music while you sewed!  I didn't get to start on it until Tuesday but once I did, I really appreciated having the playlist for when I wasn't watching the tutorial sessions!  I finished the top this morning and loaded the picture of it to the quilt along Instagram page (#quaratinequiltalong) where you can also see all the other tops that have been completed by the quilters who participated in this around the world.

Gudrun, like most of the traveling quilt teachers, is grounded for the foreseeable future so in her latest "Tipsy Tuesday" video (Elvira Wrap-up Edition) she announced plans to offer her annual "Strip Along" pattern for half price on Friday through her "Gudrun's Quilt Crew" Facebook group and will be announcing it during her "Facebook Friday" live feed.  So here's another chance to get in on the Corona-cation ground floor!

Updated 3/30/20 to add:  To get all the scoop on the Strip Along go here!

Soooo, not only that happened but this will happen:

Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts started a Mystery 2020 QAL last  Friday.  This is a another designer who I've longed to make a project with.  Edyta's quilt style is sort of  "Repro Shabby Chic" which I realized was perfectly suited for that first stash of HSY fabric that I thought of using for "Elvira"!  I originally envisioned using this collection of Creams, Tans, Browns, Blues and Pinks to make a "Blended" style quilt or maybe a Turning Twenty.

I also thought I had more Pinks set aside with these but I think I raided some to make Bonnie Hunter's Double Delight.  I also added some grays to the neutrals pulled because I like using those now too.  Well, this mystery is going on for fifteen days so I have some time to both join in and augment the stash.  What I really appreciate is that as she is releasing the parts of the mystery, she is showing where the blocks will end up in the quilt.  That helps me decide which of my fabrics to use since I'm not using the fabric bundle she is working from.  Sweet!

I'm going to try to start setting up the blocks to be leader/enders for the block work I still have to do for the remaining two BOMs  I have to work on before this month ends.  And on that note, back to the machine!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Corona-cation Update: Somtimes it takes a pandemic.... recharge your sewing mojo!  So the good news is that I've been able to push myself back to the table --- the sewing table that is!  First off, I FINALLY was able to finish the Valentine's Day pillow covers.  Woo hoo!

The design was courtesy of Minki Kim's Bernina -Well All Sew tutorial from last February.

I am very happy with how they look and of course now can't understand why I was in such a twist about the binding.  Well no, I do remember -- even though the sliver of the pink faux piping looks good to me now, I had originally envisioned it being a little more visible but had major trouble trying to get it that way.

I'm now satisfied that I settled on moving forward with it as is.  I'm a little bummed I wasn't able to get good contrast with the stitching around the hearts.

While it's hard to tell unless you are right up on them, both are hand outline stitched and this was another part of this project that was done multiple times!  I started out doing it in a pink Perle 5 thread, first in Big Stitch style then pulling those stitches out to re-do them using smaller stitches.  Unfortunately, I found that either way the contrast just wasn't enough.

I felt that it was important to keep to the color scheme so if not pink then trying it with a rust or brown thread was the way to go.  I stitched one of the covers again starting with a Rust Perle 8 I had using Big Stitch (nope), then small.  It was okay but still not great.  Rather than pulling it out just yet, I went with an olive-brown Perle 12 thread (all I had) on the second cover.  Too thin,  so I redid it again with the thread doubled.  Again, just okay but still not great.  By this time I was tired of not moving forward on it and decided to leave both as is and move forward onto the binding because I could always go back and re-stitch them later if I wanted.

Well I already reported on the subsequent binding frustrations and hence why this (and everything else) wound up sitting for two  weeks!  However, right now I think they look fine and will have no problem pulling them out again next year for the holiday.  I'm thinking now that a true olive green Perle may be the ticket for the contrast stitching but right now that thread is bundled up with another project kit.  More importantly, the holiday has passed and these are done so will stay so until next year!

I also pieced together the backing of the Girl Scout Quilt adding in the label.

With that done, I'm hoping to quilt it over the weekend.  The Kente at the upper left will be used to make the hanging sleeve to be added after the quilting.  I will be making it so that they can either display the quilt or be able to carry it walking in a parade.

However, before I can get to the quilting, I want to get the past due BOM work out of the way.  That's a story for another post.......

P.S.  I had YouTube videos playing while sewing and I learned that Gudrun Erla of GE Designs will be hosting a live "Quarantine Quilt Along" this Sunday on Facebook!  She will have quilting guests visiting during the day, one of which will be Bonnie Hunter!  Gudrun will share a new pattern (which will be available Saturday) and have "quilty goodies" for those that tune in.  Check out her blog for all the details!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Resuming work during the National Corona-cation and National Craft Month

With all the shut downs happening because of the Corona Virus, everyone is looking forward to new found time in their quilt spaces.  Which is a good prompt for me since I haven't sewn a thing in two weeks!  A series of events prompted my work stoppage, starting with having so many projects in the air and then hitting roadblocks on a few.  Of course the roadblocks were on the two projects I had really hoped to get done before the end of February:

I had started these pillow covers as one of TWO projects I thought would be really quick-to-make Valentine's day projects to coordinate with the other projects I previously made for decorating for that holiday.  But nope, I also ran into trouble with the other project (a runner) before moving on to this one which worked well as a leader/ender while I was finishing work on the Girl Scout quilt top.  I got them almost completely done until I tried to make a faux piped binding.  Although I have made that before,  I once again ran into trouble and was frustrated enough at that point to just put them aside.  Speaking of the the Girl Scout Quilt:

I was nervous yet jazzed up to move on to quilting this after showing the top to the other facilitators I had worked with to help the girls make the blocks. I had designed a layout for the back that fortunately made use of all of the 4-H fabric we had also purchased for this project.  After showing the top, I had gone to pick out a bunch of potential binding and hanging sleeve fabrics by "shopping the stash" of the group that had funded both this project and my EPP workshop and then drafted a label for the quilt.  The only thing I still needed were the names of the girls from the workshop attendance lists to finish the label and add it to the backing layout.  I wanted to keep the design wall and the sewing table clear to work on that as soon as it came in.  However, I wasn't sent the label information until the first week of March.  So February ended with two more projects piled up that I had wanted done by February's end!

This didn't help my sewing mood since I had already abandoned plans to finish two OTHER projects in February because of the above projects:  one was my Tobacco Road quilt:

A completed center still waiting for some borders!
I had already missed my own deadline to get the top finished by the time the "Frolic" mystery ended in mid February so had really hoped I could finish this top by February's end or at least as soon after that as I could.   Then there is also Emeralds:

This is as far as I got last year.
When I had planned my projects for the year, this one was slated to be worked on at the end of February in the hope of having it finished for St. Patrick's Day display in March.  The good news is that the delay has prompted a change of course for the back of the quilt (now the third such change of plans since I started this project last year).  Very much inspired by Carole at the "From My Carolina Home" blog and her always lovely seasonal and holiday tablescapes, I learned that this year Mardi Gras was in the last week of February so just a few weeks before St. Patrick's Day.  Green also figures heavily in the Mardi Gras color scheme and I immediately thought that a simple quilt design in Mardi Gras colors for the back would make this a two-sided, two-holiday quilt.  Love it!  Of course that meant starting a search for potential designs and at least a few Mardi Gras fabrics.  That search is still under way so it looks like Emeralds will sit for another year......

So March started and I was already not sewing and what's the worse (but enjoyable) thing that could happen then?  I discovered a new crafty binge-watch obsession: does anyone else watch The Great British Sewing Bee?

I watched from Season 1....
...through Season 5!

Looks a bit like a quilt retreat,huh?

OMG, I LOVE that show!  Of course it played right into my long simmering desire to return to clothing sewing.  Unfortunately I had discovered it five seasons in and equally unfortunately all the seasons were available on YouTube!  So there I was in the first week of March with errands to run because DH was due to be on vacation the following week and we had projects and an outing planned.  Then an emergency call came in needing someone to meet the delivery of the Porta-Potty for our community garden.

Well needless to say it was not hard to spend the down time between tasks getting through the GBSB episodes.  Not to mention also looking up patterns, fabrics and technique books (on freehand pattern cutting) related to the challenge projects given to the contestants.  Oh, and thinking about that DIY dress form I've also longed to make again.  Another Honey-Do project for DH's vacation?

DH's vacation has followed the GBSB binge (not to mention following the course of all the Corona developments), taking me even further off track. Sigh!  No matter, after spending the first work day in the garden for the new season on Saturday, I'm ready to refocus.

As always, I'm with Bonnie!
I already see things I want to get done in my garden bed and also need to get up to speed on starting the plants that will get put out in late April and May once the weather breaks for good and is consistently warmer.  Fortunately the things I planted in the Fall have managed to survive so I've also already got a good start for the early season too.

So it will be important to get back in gear on my quilt projects because it won't be long before the garden starts taking up a lot of my time.  Oh and I've got to catch up on this month's BOM work too!!

So I certainly have more than enough projects lined up for either a Corona-cation, National Craft Month or the upcoming National Quilting Day which is this coming Saturday!   If anyone needs a project, check out the Quilt Alliance NQD page which has links to free quilt patterns offered by popular quilt industry companies in honor of the day.  The Alliance is also rekindling a project that was founded by the (now defunct) National Quilting Association – Happy Birth Day, Baby!   For it, quilters or quilt groups can make a quilt for the first baby born on National Quilting Day in their local hospital.  The Quilt Alliance has a free downloadable pattern and full details about participating here.

As always, so many quilts, so little time --- especially when you take a loonng break to binge-watch!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

BOMs Away Week #8: AQS Twilight Flurries

This week I'm back to working on the AQS 2020 Christmas Countdown BOM called "Twilight Flurries".  Last month I had noted that many of the blocks still to be made have a lot of pieces and this month reflects that.  I chose to do Block #7 and Block #3.

I didn't make Block#2 this week because it has paper-pieced units and I wasn't sure I'd have time for that.  Knowing how busy the week was going to be, it had been my intention to pick the blocks and the fabrics for these over the weekend but that didn't happen.  I really didn't think I'd finish these until towards the end of the week but I got them done sooner than expected.   

However, I am learning (or re-learning) some basic quilting lessons while making the blocks for this BOM.  I'm not thrilled with the contrast of the light/medium/dark fabrics I used in these blocks.  When I had picked the fabrics they seemed fine together:

However,  you have to also consider how the fabric will look when it's cut and pieced into your blocks, how much of each will be used and where it will be placed in the block.  I'm only now really paying attention to the size of these blocks --- they are supposed to finish at only 7".  When you consider how many pieces are in some of these blocks, that makes for some pretty small cuts!  Compare how the fabrics look in Block #3 (above, center) and how two of the same fabrics look made up in a 6-1/2" (unfinished) Bow Tie block which is made with fewer and bigger pieces.  Going forward, I'd do well to cut preview shapes to use when auditioning the fabrics I'm considering.  I may re-make Block #3 at some point in the future after I see how it looks among some of the future blocks.

Despite having so many pieces to cut (for so few blocks), it went pretty fast because most of the cutting was very "gadget friendly".  A lot of it could be be die cut:

Speaking of the dies, I thought this was going to be a chance for me to try out the 6" finished Bow Tie die set I got from Accuquilt on clearance a while back.  The HST die for the set makes 1-1/2" finished HSTs (so 2" unfinished) which the instructions I had downloaded back in December said I needed for Block #7.  This is a popular size HST in a lot of Bonnie Hunter designs which means when making future mystery quilts, I could die cut that shape when needed.  A blessing if you know how many pieces Bonnie usually calls for in her quilts!  

However, after making them and then laying them out to prepare to piece them into the block, it became evident that the HSTs weren't the right size.  Huh?  I went back online to AQS and called up the instructions for that block and sure enough, the instructions had been changed to making them 1-1/2" unfinished!  Now that worked in the block design and fortunately, I could just trim what I had already made down to the right size.  Anyway, I still got to try out the die too so it's all good!

The small squares and rectangles for Block # 7 could be easily subcut with the Stripology ruler.

And for quick piecing, in Block #7 the flying geese units could be made with my favorite Quilt In A Day "Two Squares" method:

There's plenty to do for the rest of the week so I won't be sitting on my BOM laurels!  For now though, I'm heading over to Lynette at What A Hoot! Quilts to link up with her and Kate at Katie Mae Quilts for this week's BOMs Away and to see what everyone else is working on right now!

Friday, February 21, 2020

BOMs Away 2020 Week 7: Modern Bohemia

Whew!  After getting the Girl Scout quilt to a top I was finally able to start die cutting the blocks for this month's Churn Dash BOM blocks.  I had picked out the fabrics a few days ago and at that time, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to pair with what.  I guess I should have stacked the combinations together instead of just quickly chucking everything into a storage box!  When I set to combining them last night, suddenly the combinations weren't so intuitive.

However, I picked and die cut what I could before heading out last night to my community garden's the first meeting of the 2020 garden season.

So this is what got pieced today:

Two more 12 inch, three more nine inch, two more six inch but only one 3 inch this month.  Even now as I look at these up on the wall, I think after next month's set, I want to try adding a few where the "print" is in the background and the tone-on-tone is in the foreground.  I'll have to plan some extra time to layout the blocks I have at that point and set up for the change ups to be made in April.

So with this week's BOM work completed, I'm headed over to Lynette's at What A Hoot Quilts to link up and see what other BOMs were worked on this week and to offer condolences for her family's recent loss of a young relation.