Monday, January 30, 2017

Design Wall Monday and Weekend Doings

A Gift Quilt

On the design wall is a new quilt I've been working on since last Thursday:

I have a long-time friend who I've made a few quilts for and had always planned to make one for her husband too.  He likes to golf and is a NY Mets fan (as am I) so for a long time I debated about which kind of quilt to make for him.  The Quilt Muses are always listening so of course back in 2015 I came across the Clothworks fabric line "A Hole In One":

Golf theme that prominently featured the Mets colors (Blue, Orange and White)!  Perfect!  Of course the next question was what design to apply them to.  Again the Muses stepped in and I saw this design:

It's called "Gone Golfing" by Rochelle Martin of Cottage Quilt Designs.  What was even better was that when I saw the pattern and before I knew who designed it, I thought the style of it looked familiar.  When I got the pattern and did a little digging as to who was behind the pattern company, I knew why.   The previous Fall, I had made this quilt:

This design is called "Morning Catch" which is from the book "Man Cave Quilts" which is also by Rochelle Martin!  Since I could visualize how the Clothworks fabrics could be plugged into the "Golfing" quilt and knowing it was by a designer I was already familiar with, it was a done deal for me.  Oh, and it will be backed with this fleece:

Both my friend and her husband have birthdays (one day apart) in February so I'm trying to get this and a mug rug for her work cubicle done as presents.

Other doings this weekend:

I'm still working away on En Provence:  I cut out the quarter square triangles for Parts 6 and 7.

So they're ready to go for leader/ender sewing while the gift quilts get put together.  Once the blocks for those Parts are done, I'll be ready to test my mauve (constant) fabric for Part 2 and if I'm still happy with it, start piecing together the big blocks for the quilt center.

Quilt-As-You-Go Blocks: 

I didn't get to "sit and stitch" this weekend because I needed to prep more blocks for quilting.  I was out of blocks ready to be stuffed with batting so after all the work on the golf quilt and En Provence, I picked out some of the square pairs that had been pieced together (a print charm square teamed with a white square) when I started this project way back when.  I have to sew the pairs together to make a four patch and then together again to create the block ready for stuffing. 

I got ten set up so either during this week or for next weekend's "Slow Sunday Stitching" session, I will stuff them with batting and can then start stitching them.  I think I might watch the Superbowl after all so having these ready would be perfect for that! 

Head back to Judy's to see what's brewing on everyone else's design walls over at:
Have a Quilty Week!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Still Chipping Away At En Provence

Whew!  Yesterday on the home side I had laundry to do and on the quilt side needed to do some focus work on En Provence.  I emphasized needed because up to now working on En Provence has gone swimmingly but this week the wheels came off  the wagon!

I'm working (out of order) on Part 4 which is to make these Triangle-In-A-Square (or Tri-Recs) blocks.

Over  the weekend I had cut the center triangles for this part and also for Part 2 where the same units will be made with neutral centers and mauve side triangles.  Then I had cut the side triangles for this part.  What I didn't realize at the time was that's where the trouble began.

I had laid out my strips of purples layered anywhere from four to eight layers deep, all the strips right sides up then used the Tri-Recs side triangle ruler to cut them.  When done, I had a stack triangles that looked like this:

It was only after I started sewing  a bunch units earlier this week and then tried to add the second triangles that I discovered my mistake!  For the blocks you actually need to cut two triangles in reverse of each other.   The fabrics should have been layered with each set of two layers of fabric either right sides or wrong sides together.  Needless to say after all the cutting over the weekend, yesterday I had to go back and cut more,  this time with the fabrics all right side down to get triangles facing in the other direction so I would have this:

So out of all the triangles I initially cut, half of them are now useless!  Well, not totally useless.  It turns out I had cut one of the fabrics (the purple with the big polka dots seen in the first picture) with two  layers folded together so had a few reverse triangles in that fabric among the initial set of cuts.  Two of the other fabrics I'm using are batiks so some of the ones cut initially looked fine from the wrong side so could also be used as reverse triangles.  

I had already used up some of my fabrics during the first round of cuts so made sure to sew up the Tri-Recs units using all of those fabrics first since most of the reverse triangles are only cut from the remaining fabrics.   When I start putting the blocks for the mystery together, I hope the affect on the distribution of the fabrics in the finished Tri-Recs units won't be that evident.  I'm going to pick up a few purple fat quarters in the event I feel I need to sprinkle in a little more diversity (I also need to re-stock my purples now that I've used up so many).  If I do introduce new fabrics, it may also mean I'll have to make up some four patches with the new fabrics as well so they appear in those units too.

After all the panic and work yesterday, I managed to get all the Tri-Recs units I needed for this part of the mystery completed.  Fortunately this puts me back on track with this project and I've already put a note with Part 2 to make sure I don't make the same mistake with the mauve ones!  As for all the leftovers? 

Either I'll make more Tri-Recs squares for another project (hmmm, a design opportunity?) or I might use them to make Split Rectangle blocks that can go on the back or be used in another quilt.  That's the great thing about quilting, even your mistakes don't have to go to waste!

Monday, January 23, 2017

En Provence Update

Just so you don't think that all I've been working on has been labels, I've also been keeping up on my En Provence project.  As of this past weekend:

  • the four patches for Part 1 in neutrals are done.
  • the four patches for Part 3 in purples are done. 
  • the purple and neutral HSTs for Part 5 are done. 
  • I've cut the neutral center triangles andpurple  side triangles so I can piece the triangles-in-a-square for Part 4. 
  • I've also cut the neutral center triangles for Part 2 but I'm still not totally sure I'm satisfied with the mauve fabric I've chosen for that part so will wait until after I've pieced the QSTs for parts 6 and 7 to test it out with all the other parts.
  • Some neutral and light purple strips have been cut and set aside to cut the QST triangles for Part 6.
  • Some neutral strips have been cut and set aside to cut the QST triangles for Part 7.
I'll be sewing up the Part 4 triangles-in-a-square during the week leader/ender style.  I also plan to set up strips for my Bonnie Hunter Scrappy Trips blocks to leader/ender when any of the En Provence sewing finishes up.

It's great that this one has no deadline so I can just work on it when time allows.  Look forward to seeing how it progresses!

Catching Up On Quilt Labels - Part 4: For The Finale, the Cardinals Are Back!

...or I should say the Cardinals are (finally) ON the back!

I finished piecing this back in March of last year but it has taken until now to finally finish the label for my "High Strung + 2" Christmas quilt.   This journey started back in December of 2014 when I was able to get the book "Christmas at That Patchwork Place"  (published in 2001).  It was of interest to me for one big reason:

This is the "Cardinals" wall hanging by Deborah Moffett-Hall that is in the book.  When I saw the Cardinals design in a "Stitch This!" blog post on the Martingale site at the end of 2014, I just knew I had to have the pattern because back in 2008 I had made this:

...another wall hanging also by Ms. Moffett-Hall which had appeared in the December 1997 (#298) issue of Quilters Newsletter magazine.  That time, I had reduced the original by half (made the finished squares 1" instead of the patterned 2") and used it to make a label for this:

This was my first Christmas quilt, a free Block of the Month offered by Debbie Mumm in 2008.  

After I got the book, I wondered how I wanted to make the pattern up.  At the time, I had already started work on the "High Strung" quilt but it wasn't until I was finishing up the top in May 2015 and needed an idea for the label that I thought of this design.  I decided it would be fun to "continue the tradition" of using Ms. Moffet-Hall's designs as a label for a Christmas quilt.  Knowing I had plans to custom quilt the quilt because of all the applique on the front, I decided not to plan to piece it into the backing (which had not been purchased at that point).  When I finished (hand) quilting the quilt in early 2016 and was finally ready to make the label, this time I didn't change the size of the finished piece because leaving it full size would help me solve a problem:

I bought the backing fabric for "High Strung" after I had to commit to hand quilting it (because both of my sewing machines went on the fritz) and with the idea that I'd be stitching the header area with a light gold thread.  The thread I wound up getting and using was actually cream colored -- fine for the background I was stitching on but now not so great for the backing fabric I had chosen.  So the label size was perfect for covering up (most of) the light stitches on the back! 

Most of the fabrics used in the pieced picture came from my stash but some (the cardinal bodies, the gold border print and gold splattered label area) came from fabrics I won back in 2013 in a "de-stash" giveaway by Vicky who blogs at LA Quilter.   The light green and gold print was purchased at last year's New Jersey Quilt Fest show (which is coming up again in March).

Construction of these pieced-picture designs are fairly simple:  just follow a piecing chart and fill in squares, HSTs or "tipped" squares (squares with a smaller square sewn diagonally to form a triangle in the corner) in the appropriate color to create the picture.  In the border, the design has appliqued "berries".  Lucky for me, I was working on this right after I purchased my Accuquilt Go! machine so could make short work of the 35 (!) circles that needed to be cut to fill out the design.  I was able to cut them with fusible web already attached to the fabric (and luckily I had just restocked some Lite Steam-A-Seam 2) which made it easy to position them and fuse them down before sewing around the edges.

I really expected to get to this during the year but it wasn't until December when I made the Label Pledge that I was finally motivated to make a push to finish this up. Unfortunately, just as I started stitching down the berries, my primary Janome machine malfunctioned (again).  Fortunately, I had my Euro-Pro backup machine serviced over the summer so it was able to jump right in and pick up the slack. 

Then the issue was how to finish it.  Just do a (pillow turn) facing with a backing fabric and sew it on?  Add piping into the edge?  Add binding?  In the end, I decided that I wanted to quilt it.  I had some of the binding fabric from the quilt leftover (and already cut) so figured I could finish the edges that way so it wouldn't even need the extra layer of a backing.  Then was the challenge of "quilt whispering" (how to quilt it?).  Even once I was ready for that, the next challenge was the fact that it's been years since I've free-motion quilted on my Euro-Pro and it took a while to get my muscle memory and coordination back and being able to stitch well on that machine.  Maybe because I was stitching on batting only, I found I had to stitch at high speed with stitch length set to "0" and with the feed dogs up (which is what Leah Day does) to get half way decent stitch length control.  I don't remember using the feed dogs up in the past with this machine but hey, whatever works!

The "back" after the quilting was finished.
After it was bound, the last bit of the puzzle was to tack stitch the center of the label onto the quilt (on Saturday) and then sew it down around the edges yesterday as part of a Slow Sunday Stitching session. 

I admit, in the end this was a bit much to do for a label.  In the future, I'll have to carefully consider whether I want to do a label as complex as this and see if there is a possibility of piecing it into the back before quilting the quilt rather than quilting the label separately.

The good news is that with this finished, every quilt I have made now has a label and I have fulfilled the pledge I took with the Quilt Alliance.  There will be no anonymous quilts in my future (so it is written and so it shall be done)!  Please do your descendants and future quilt historians a favor and do what you can to add a label to your quilt projects.  The world should know that you are the astounding creator and craftsperson behind your wonderful quilt!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching 1/22/17
In a little while I'll get to sit and stitch along with everyone else over at  Kathy's Quilts.  This is what's on the agenda for today:

On the right:  I finally finished quilting the "Cardinals" label for my "High Strung" quilt (and that quilt was hand quilted during these sessions last year at this time!) so now it's time to sew it onto the back to complete the "Labels Pledge" I made this year.  On the left:  I'll also be continuing the work on my Quilt-As-You-Go blocks.

Two weeks ago I had prepped ten of these blocks for stitching but only got three sewn up.  Last Sunday although I didn't post, I did sew up two more but also had some other labels to sew on for the pledge.  I'm hoping to get the last five that are ready for stitching done today or during the week at the latest.  When done I'll have twenty blocks finished so can start thinking about sewing them together.  I laid out the blocks I have so far just to see where I am:

As noted before, I've got a lot of blocks with red in them so when I prep more blocks for sewing I will be looking to try to vary the colors I use. 

If you want to see what others are working on to keep their idle hands busy, head on over to Kathy's Quilts and join in on the Slow Sunday Stitching fun!  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Catching Up On Quilt Labels Part 3: Two More Done and Simply

I got two more of the quilt labels done over the weekend.  In both cases, I did not have plans for the labels prior to now so had to think about what I wanted to do.  Ideally, my top three preferences when making labels are to use a light colored backing so I can just write the label information right onto the back -OR- piece a light colored strip or space into the backing to write on when the quilting is done -OR- make a special pieced (or applique) block label using fabrics (or the block design) from the quilt top to echo on the back and provide a label space. 

The first of the next two quilts that I had pledged to do labels for is my (Carrie Nelson) Schnibbles quilt called "Tribal Scratch":

The back of this little quilt is the same as the "binding" -- that's because this was "bound" by turning the green and brown batik print backing to the front around the edge and mitering the corners.  A pretty print but too dark to write directly onto.

The other is my "Merrimac Dresdens":

As you can see below, the backing of the Dresden quilt is light but has a dense repeat design (the flower block from Lucinda Ward Honstain's "Reconciliation Quilt") so was also not a candidate for writing directly onto the back.

Of course since both are already quilted it was also too late for inserting a label strip.   I seriously thought about piecing a special label for both.  Particularly for Merrimac:  the first idea I thought of was to do a Fan block (a quarter of a Dresden plate) with a muslin center and sew it into one of the back corners.  However, the problem with both of these quilts is that I don't have any more of the fabrics used in the tops to piece a coordinating block with.  For Merrimac, I thought I had a few leftover Dresden blades but found I had cut them down to make the squares I needed for the little Tucker quilt.  Even though I still have a considerable stash of other Civil War repros, I wasn't up to snipping out bits from the remaining yardage to make the block blades.

So at that point, like I did for another Quilt Alliance Pledge label, it was time to dial it back a bit.  Was it possible to just simply find a square of coordinating fabric that I could write the information onto for each quilt?  Fortunately for that I did have good options!

Prepped for some Slow Sunday Stitching.

For "Tribal", I had some of the border fabric leftover from the gift quilt I made for my neighbors awhile back which went fairly well with the backing.  For "Merrimack", I decided to just snip a piece of the selvedge from what I have of the remaining backing fabric.  I love that I can also use it to identify that fabric as well as document the quilt.  It also blends in well with the back so is there but unobtrusive.   Here are both finished up:

Simple and now done!

Once again, I am reminded to try to give consideration to the label issue as I'm making a quilt.  This way if there is a need to save or conserve fabric (or even buy a fat eighth or quarter more if need be), the time to do that is while the project is still current.  From the last session I learned that it's also a good idea to sketch out a label idea if you have one.  Don't only rely on remembering it in the event you don't get to the finishing until long after the top is made.  This way when you're ready for this step, your original idea will already be waiting for you and you will be less likely to procrastinate executing it because you don't have to think up an idea for it. 

Almost finished!  The last and biggest one is in Part 4!  

Updated 3/2/17 To Add:  Want another option for a simple label?  I recently saw on the American Patchwork and Quilting website about a company called Modern Yardage that has pre-printed labels or panels that cover all your labeling needs:

*Individual labels you can fill in with your information:

*Sets of personalized labels that will come pre-printed with your name:

*Labels that provide quilt care instructions:

*Stylized labels for your Quilt of Valor projects:

They are not the only ones that have preprinted label panels.  Look for other blank label fabric sheets or custom printed labels available through other vendors like Spoonflower or at your favorite local or online quilt shop.  Just another way to save some steps for completing this important finishing detail!

So for me, there is one last label to get done and of course it's the hardest because I have to get my quilting muscles back in shape on my old sewing machine!  Hoping to put that one to bed this week so I can move on with a clear head to the other projects I have planned for this month.

Monday, January 9, 2017

En Provence Update Instead of a Link Up

Having got a very late start on Bonnie Hunter's latest Quiltville mystery En Provence, I had hoped that by working on it during the Quilt-A-Thon days, I might at least have all the parts ready to show for today's final link-up.  Nope!   Go check out all of the finished quilts and tops and blocks in progress that ARE ready for posting over on the Quiltville blog here.

In fact, what was I thinking?  How could I have expected to have all my parts done in a few days when she started this mystery right after Thanksgiving and gave everyone a whole week to construct each part  and two weeks to get the top together.  Just another example of me needing to better define "Realistic" in my SMART goals.

That said, I'm not bummed just re-setting.  So last I left off, I had gotten about two thirds of the neutral four patches for Part 1 made up.

I was out of the stash of lighter neutrals that I had pulled from the general and QOV stashes and was planning to go buy some more while working on the rest of the parts of the mystery.  However, during the QAT,  I was also working on my Quilt-As-You-Go blocks.  As I was packing them away after the stitching, what did I realize? 

I have a big piece of white-on-white fabric that I used for the alternate squares in the QAYG blocks!  I already have a lot of the QAYG blocks cut out and am pretty sure I won't need all of this fabric.  So I'm cutting a couple of strips to use to help make the rest of the four patches as well as add to the strips already set aside for the other parts of the mystery.  The good news is these will be good leader/ender and "15 minutes a day" piecing for the week.

Also during the QAT, I cut strips from my dark fabrics for four patches for Part 3 and to make the units for the other parts.

Today I got to the light purples on the left above that I wasn't able to cut. 

The purple four patches are another "15 minutes a day" piecing stash.  After all the four patches are done, I'll move on to cutting and piecing neutral and dark purple HSTs for Part 4. 

Then it'll be back to finishing up the labels and moving on to setting up for stitching the wholecloth project.   Hoping this week can continue to be as productive as the weekend.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching 1/8/17: More On the QAYG Project

The Half-time Report

I've been participating since Thursday in Judy Laquidara' Quilt-A-Thon for January.  She used to do these regularly and has just restarted them this year.  If you want to join in there's a monthly schedule on her sidebar for the rest of this year's dates. 

During yesterday's session, I set up to do some Slow Sunday Stitching today and got more done this morning.  I wanted to watch the NY Giants wildcard playoff game this evening and figured that if I got some of these blocks prepared in advance, I could sew on them while watching the game.  In past sessions, I felt the effort of stuffing the batting into the blocks took away too much time from the stitching.  I can get more of them done if they are prepped in advance. 

The last time I posted about these, at first I said I didn't know what batting I was currently using in the blocks.  However, I looked back through my posts and saw that in 2010 I had written about the batting:  it's Fairfield's Soft Touch.  Good to know because I used up all the batting I'd started with so need to get more of it for the next round of blocks.

Years ago I decided to make these blocks because of a "Quiltmakers Workshop" tutorial in the July/August 1998 issue of (the now deceased) Quilter's Newsletter Magazine (although they still keep a presence on the web).  I started quilting and subscribing to QNM in 2002 but back then, I was able to get back issues of QNM pretty cheap on eBay.  Sellers often offered them in sets of a whole year of issues for as little as $10 for the set.  As a result, I have a complete collection of them going back to 1984.  As time went on, I only stopped collecting them because the price of the issues got more and more expensive and were mostly sold one issue at a time.  Now that the magazine is no longer published, I've tried to pick up a few more of the earlier issues but I expect them to get even harder to get as time goes on.

We're expecting to have to go  pick up our minivan from the car dealer repair shop tomorrow so if I have any blocks left that haven't been sewn, I can take them as "travel work" for while we wait.  Ok, back to the game, we're down against Green Bay  14 - 6!

Looking to see what others are stitching on this blistery Sunday?  Head over to Kathy's Quilts and check out the Slow Sunday Stitching link-up

Patchwork Times Quilt-A-Thon - Day 4

Well, the weather outside is frightful and the warmth inside delightful!  It's cold here in New York City, 18 degrees and some places got up to a foot of snow yesterday after the early predictions only called for a couple of inches.  DH is still under the weather (pun intended) and DS1 started sniffling (he's the last in the house to get this) so I'll still be on the nursing shift today during this last day of Judy's first Quilt-A-Thon of the year. 

My plans for the day are as follows:
Set up more Quilt-As-You Go blocks to stitch on while watching this evening's playoff game. 

Evening Update
I got five more blocks set up so had ten ready to go for during the game.

More En Provence work.  I forgot to report yesterday that while cutting strips for the four-patches from what was left of the light neutrals I had originally pulled out, I also cut some strips for some of the later parts of the mystery too.  This way I'd have some of those fabrics for them as well. 

For today, I managed to dig out one more piece of light neutral from my Quilts of Valor stash and few light charm squares so will try to make up more four-patches (or if possible all the rest) needed for the project with these new neutrals and the rest of the more mid-toned neutrals already cut.

Evening Update
I got another 36 four-patches done (so a total of 147 for the weekend) but will need to find some more light neutrals and cut more of the mid-tone neutrals in order to make more. 

Staying with the four-patch theme,  I'd also like to start on the purple four-patches for Part 3 but we'll see if I get there.

Evening Update

I got strips cut from the dark purples for the four patches and for the later parts.  I wasn't able to get the light purples cut (the game started) so that and the four patches will have to be worked on during the week.

Definitely this evening:  Slow Sunday Stitching the QAYG Blocks while watching the NY Giants playoff game.

Evening Update
I got three blocks sewn up and with so many more prepped, may try to work on them between projects during the week.  Also finally got into flow on the prep so hope to make setting up blocks a regular weekly thing so they're ready for the weekends all the time. 

But Boo, Hoo, Hoo, the Giants lost (big time)!  Guess I won't be Slow Sunday Stitching through the Superbowl this year!

So a big thanks to Judy for reviving the Quilt-A-Thons and really hope to make time to do this next month! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Patchwork Times Quilt-A-Thon - Day 3

Well so much for getting an early start to today's Quilt-A-Thon!  DH came home from work this morning and it looks like the bug that's been going around the house is trying to grab a firmer hold of him.  So the day started with nursemaid duties rather than quilting.

In addition it's snowing here and it looks like the 2 - 4 inches predicted is already down and the snow is continuing.  So now I'm really hoping they DON'T call about picking up our car from the shop today!

Now that I can settle in (hopefully for the day), here's what's on the agenda:

1)  Getting back to the En Provence   Part 1 neutral four-patches.  Hopefully I can finish them up today.

Evening Update
Got another 41 done so now my count is up to 111.  Only 110 more to go (but not today)!

2)   Prepping for Slow Sunday Stitching tomorrow

I want to get some of these blocks prepared in advance so I can sew on them while watching the NY Giants wildcard playoff game tomorrow afternoon.  I feel like stuffing the batting in the blocks takes away too much time from the stitching so I can get more of them done if I prep them in advance.  Hmmm, it might also be a good idea to prep some of these for "travel work" for when we go pick up the car too.

Evening Update
I only got five blocks set up for stitching. 
I'm hoping I can get a few more ready before game time tomorrow.
Well it was true that given the progress on the previous days and the continuing nurse duties, I didn't  get to much more than that.   Looking forward to the last day of Quilt-A-Thon tomorrow.  Part of  that needs to be setting up what I can work on in smaller increments of time during the week.    That's it for me for today!