Monday, December 31, 2018

Quiltville Strings Everywhere and String Along Week 1

On Friday, Part 6 of Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery "Good Fortune" dropped and today is the day everyone is linking up with their progress.

Guess what?  Bonnie has the particpants doing string piecing with their neutral fabrics for this part!  So now I really feel right in the swing of things since I had planned to start working on Bonnie's "Roll, Roll, Cottn Boll" quilt as one of the String projects I wanted to tackle for the string alongs being hosted by the MODA staff (who started Friday!) and Lori at Humble Quilts (who started the week before last).  So once again on the mystery day, I was in "Quilting With Bonnie" mode since "Cotton Boll" starts off with piecing neutral string units too.

In other Quiltville news, I've  finally finished the "Double Delight"  Part 1 units and can now move on to the other parts.  Since the units for Part 1 were such a slog and I will be making similar units for Part 2,  I thought I'd mix it up a bit to keep it interesting.  For Part 3 I have to piece nine-patches which are also another good leader/ender unit.

The blocks made from those first three parts are used to make the larger blocks for Part 4.  So I'm going to piece the Part 2 and 3 units at the same time and start laying them out on the design wall with the Part 1 blocks or maybe even sewing the blocks together.  Also good news is that when I had cut the neutral fabrics for this project into triangles for Part 1, I also cut them in strips for part 3 and in squares for Part 5.  The nine patches from Part 3 are also teamed with those squares to make the larger blocks for Part 5.  So I'm hoping to catch up to "Good Fortune" as I do the various sewing for this project over the next weeks.

The "Scrappy Trips" backing has been pieced together.  When I checked my stash, I thought I was out of twin batting but fortunately I found the package that I had won back in November (whew!).

However, as of today there's still no sign of the new free-motion foot for the Featherweight and there's no mail delivery tomorrow.  Despite what I had hoped, it looks like the quilting for  both this and "Cobblestones" will have to be pushed forward into the New Year.
From Friday to today its been a free-from-errands weekend so perfect for sewing (and watching Game of Thrones reruns!!).  The window for the year-end project countdown is closing and it looks like I won't get as much done as hoped.  No matter, what has been either done or moved forward is still good and I'm already primed for what's on board for the New Year.  How about you, are you ready for 2019 to start?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Where in the Quiltville Am I?!?

So today is the link-up over at Bonnie's blog for Part 5 of her latest mystery "Good Fortune".

Looks like a lot of people have aready got the units for that part done and in the can!  Bonnie had said at the outset that this mystery wasn't going to be as piecing intensive as some of the prior ones were.  Maybe I shouldn't have sat this one out?!?!

No, no, I've got enough on my plate as we close out 2018 and it's getting harder to keep them all juggled and in the air as the days count down.  I'm still trying to get through Part 1 of Double Delight:

I've now got three-quarters of the total blocks I need to complete this part.  Not much more to go!  When they're done, the pieces for Part 2 (the brown and cheddar bits in the black tray above) wait patiently in the wings to get under way.  What kept me from getting more done on those was that I moved over to a non-Quiltville project (horrors!).  I layered up my "Christmas Cobblestones"  quilt and was trying to get it quilted.

I'm trying the "quilting in sections" technique on my Featherweight and got as far as ditch stitching a section with the Walking Foot in prep for then doing some free-motion on it.  Unfortunately, the test I ran with the free-motion feet I have for the machine didn't work out at all well in terms of bottom tension.  Lots of heavy "eyelashing" on the back.

I've got another foot on order but don't know when it will arrive.  At this point, I'm not sure if I'll continue with that experiment at this time since I want to get this one finished for display and for the year.  Fortunately, I have a fall back:

On the plus side, since the cutting table is still clear after layering that quilt, I can move forward on another Quiltville project and in the meantime layer up "Scrappy Trips" since it too is one that I want to quilt up before the year ends.

Regarding yet another Quiltville mystery project:  Later on this week I actually hope to start working on the neutral string units for Bonnie's Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll that was a 2010 mystery but now can be found in her book String Fling.  (BTW, her latest book String Frenzy is literally flying out of Bonnie's doors as soon as she releases a new wave of books -- the next ordering wave will open up on New Year's Day.)

There are String Alongs going on with Lori DeJarnatt of Humble Quilts and another to start in January (only a week away!) with the staff of MODA fabrics.  So a little post-Christmas, pre New Year's sewing for me will be to start leader/endering units for this new one.

Good 'ole Lao Tzu had it right, "If you do not change direction, you will end up where you are heading."  Got to keep it moving!  Are you working on anything with Bonnie this week?  Let's hope all the Merry and gifts to come don't keep you away from your sewing machine for too long!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Two Mug Rug Christmas Gifts Finished!

There's no doubt about it, mug rugs make great gifts!  l also love that you can personalize the sentiment in them for the person you are giving it to.  You can use the rug design to express it and/or give a mug appropriate to the situation or to them.  That's what I did for the last rug I made for a friend's desk at her job:

This time around I made two rugs for Christmas gift giving.   My MIL is my Kringle giftee this year.  She is a quilter too so of course part of her gift is fabric -- a small quilt kit and the backing for it.  I had also found a cute basket to pack it up in but I needed to add a little something to fill it out.  My first thought?  A cute mug with quilty sayings!

I found this one on eBay but I've got to tell you it was really hard to choose!  There were soooo many funny ones that I also could have sent like this....

or this.....

...oh and this!

I settled on the first one because in my book 'ya can't send a mug without an accompanying rug and I already had these in the house....

June Tailor has a couple of versions of these mini panels for mug rugs and each version has a different theme.  I really wanted the set with Quilty sayings but couldn't catch it on sale so settled for the "Uplifting" set.  I felt the top sentiment in the picture below went perfect with her mug.

The great thing is the panel set had one perfect for her sister too.  It wasn't originally in the plan to send her sister a mug and rug but I think the Quilt Muses were ahead of me on this one.  You see, each year (regardless of whether or not we have them for the Kringle) I also bake and send my MIL and one of her sisters Peanut Butter cookies for Christmas.  That started on one of the last Christmas' when they were still here in New York. We were talking about cookies and the sisters reminisced about how they had loved the ones that their mother used to make.  My husband then bragged about mine so that year I sent them both a batch.  It was a big hit to the point that even if I don't feel like making them, I'd better get them out in the mail because I WILL get calls if they don't show up!

I usually try to plan the cookie drop to coincide with the Kringle gift drop to consolidate the mailing efforts.  It just so happens that this year my husband has his Aunt as giftee so the good news is that I could send her cookies along with his gift.  Then I remembered that I had found a mug related to Christmas and cookies while out shopping either last year or the year before and had saved it for just such an occasion.  So when DH said he couldn't think about what to get her, I told him about the mug and said I'd even make a rug for it.  He loved that idea and then said it'd be great if we could find a cute cookie jar to go with it.  Fortunately Home Goods came to the rescue on that one!

My MIL's favorite fabric is batiks so I bought her a batik fabric kit for her gift and then I decided to use prints from my own batik stash to make her rug.  For her sister's rug, I was told she liked neutrals.  I didn't have that in my batik stash but I do have a stash of Black and White fabrics -- the original neutrals!

The June Tailor panel kit has mug rug designs patterned in the package for each size panel offered in the kit so I wasn't going to have to think about a design for them.  However, for his Aunt's panel, the rug layout used a Card Trick block and I wasn't in love with that.  The good news is a Squirrel Moment came to the rescue:  This month, the American Quilters Society (AQS) has been offering their annual set of Christmas Countdown blocks.  This year, they are giving the daily instructions for the blocks two ways:  colored in Red and White and in Red, Black and White.  Perfect!  I decided to pick one of the RBW blocks to substitute for the Card Trick block in the pattern.  I chose Block #6 and resized it to the 6" finished size the panel pattern used.  Then I figured out where else I could insert a little more red in the design for balance.

It took me a few days to get both rugs done.  I had originally just quilted my MIL's in Quilt-As-You-Go fashion by adding the strips right onto the layered batting and backing.  But after it was done, I felt like it needed just a little more quilting so had to take some time to figure what to stitch on it and then execute it.  The idea of using the echoed "Serpentine Curves" came from Mary Mashuta's book "Foolproof Walking Foot Quilting Designs".  This was good because at first I thought about doing meandering.  I've only tried free-motion on my 401 once and need more practice on it so really didn't want to try that on this deadline project.

For her sister's rug, I did a simple crosshatch over everything but the panel.  I also decided to do a faux piped binding hoping to add just a touch more red to the mat.  I used instructions for the technique that I've used before but on larger quilts.  The piping was a little more prominent than I would have liked so if I was to do it again on a piece this size,  I'd size the piping strip an 1/8" smaller and add that to the strip that creates the binding portion.

I think they both finished up very nicely and now both sisters will have a nice mug to fill with the hot beverage of their choice and have a pretty mat to sit their cookies on while they munch!  For me, I get another notch on the year-end Challenge finish list!  That's as sweet as a peanut butter cookie!

Monday, December 17, 2018

What's going on in Quiltville land?

It is another busy week for Quiltvillers new and old!  The new ones are working on the latest mystery "Good Fortune".  Part 4 dropped on Friday.  They are making orange string pieced units this week.  You can see what everyone is up to on today's Monday Morning Link-up over at Bonnie's blog.

Bonnie has a friend and neighbor named Mona who has helped her the last few months with searching for and setting up furniture for the new Quiltville Inn (you say you don't know about that?!?!  Oh, then you'd better read this!).  She also helped get the mailings of Bonnie's new book Sting Frenzy out and used Bonnie's longarm to finish up her quilts.  However, Mona is also a first time Quiltville mystery quilter!  Bonnie talked about her progress on her post here.

Bonnie also mentioned that MODA is doing a String Along in 2019 and that projects from her new book might be just the thing for that.  Well, that's good for me too because I have an old string UFO project that I had already slotted into my 2019 "To Do" list and I also have paper and strings already set up to do Bonnie's "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" mystery so I'll definitely be joining in on that fun!

As for an old Quiltviller like me,  I've downloaded Part 4 and was supposed to spend last week getting started on the piecing for Part 1 of "Double Delight", one of Bonnie's 2008 mysteries.  I had cut everything for it the week before and had hoped to get all the piecing done by the end of last week.  Unfortunately, I only managed to get as far as this:

I got twenty-four blocks pieced.  Since this is a Bonnie mystery, you know I have a lot more to do!  The reason I didn't get more done is I had some Christmas sewing to do:

I made mug rugs for my MIL and her sister to go with mugs and cookies I was sending them.  Those went out in the mail Friday (expected to arrive today and tomorrow) and I'll detail more on that in another post.  I had a shopping day with a friend on Saturday so no sewing then --- I have no excuse for yesterday though!  The good news is that I have today and tomorrow free so hope to make up for some lost time.  For instance, I have to make the same square-in-a-square blocks for Part 2 but using different fabrics.  I had cut the cheddar center squares for those the other week while doing the cutting for Part 1 so started cutting the brown HSTs that will go around them today:

I have a lot more to cut for those too!  As for my other Bonnie project, I made a final decision on my "Scrappy Trips" top:

I'm not going to add more borders because I'd really like to have a shot at quilting this one up before the end of the year.  I have another scrappy project planned and I wouldn't mind using the leftovers from it to make another one of these so I can plan, from the beginning, to make exciting borders for that one.  Oh, and my backing and binding arrived today!

I know, it's a hoot!  "Scrappy Trips" is what I'd call a "fun" quilt and it will be a couch quilt so I wanted a backing in the same vein.  I saw a couple of things that went with the top color-wise but kept going back to these faces -- they crack me up!  It's actually a fabric for children's sleepwear so it's a good thing I'm a big kid at heart!  Even better it's flannel fabric (one of my favorites) so I bought enough to make the back and a bonus project:

I've had these solid flannels for eons planning to make the tops in this pattern to go with some flannel lounge pants I already own.  So I've portioned out the backing for the quilt and I'll use the rest to make a pair of pants from this pattern as well!  Looks like I'll finally get back into sewing clothing which I've wanted to do for awhile. 

The black Kansas Troubles petal print was actually my back-up choice for the binding.  The binding fabric I really wanted was a solid black flannel but the stock was already very low on the website when I placed my order.  When the shipping confirmation notice came, it showed that I didn't get any by the time they got to my order.  However, I'm actually happy with "Plan B" --- I think it will work fine after all.

So this gives me a second quilt that I hope to layer up over the next two weeks.  I also just confirmed this morning that a baby quilt I thought I was going to need by Christmas can be pushed back -- the parents decided to skip doing a "Baby's First Christmas" shindig in favor of focusing on having an even bigger "Baby's First Birthday" party in January.  Whew!  That definitely takes some of the pressure off the production department!

So hope you're looking forward to a fun and quilty week!  I know I am!

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Latest Update on the Good Fortune Mystery and my Quiltville Projects

The next installment of Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery dropped Friday!  Part 3 of "Good Fortune" has the mystery quilters making these units -- Bonnie is calling them "half chevron units".

 We made a similar unit last year for "On Ringo Lake" called "Diamond in a Rectangle".

  You can see how far everyone got by checking out Bonnie's link-up today.

Edited To Add:  Ooh, quilters are starting to play with the Good Fortune units!  Check out some of the block ideas Chris Simon has laid out on her design wall over on Instagram!  Very cool ideas!  Let's see if any of these match up to Bonnie's final design in January.

I'm not doing this year's mystery but my Quiltville fun still continues.  First off I've finished my "Scrappy Trips" top.

Right now it's slated to finish at 60 x 72 for a lap quilt.  However, I'm debating about whether to add borders (plain or pieced) or just layer quilt and bind which is the way I've seen most of them finished.  Deanne Eisenman of Snuggles Quilts recently did a great post  about fun pieced borders that has me considering that option.  Judy Laquidara had a great book on that a few years back as well.

Can't debate long on that one though because I'd like to make this another finish for this year.

So what's my next Quiltville mystery piecing adventure?  I had put together a stash of Civil War Repros to make one of Bonnie's early mysteries called "Double Delight".

So my new leader/ender project will be the parts for that.  I managed to get all the cutting done for Part 1 of that mystery and will be making the Square-In-A-Square units for it.

I'd love to keep up with "Good Fortune" and have this old mystery finished when the new one is revealed.  However, at this point I'm way behind what the current mystery is up to.  To help move things forward a bit, while doing the cutting for this part, I also started cutting for some of the future parts if they use the same fabric.

We'll see if I can catch up to them at some point!  Hopefully, I can get a good start on this project this week.  Enjoy yours!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Fanny Featherweight has worked so hard, she deserves something for herself!

Up until recently, I had been using Fanny Featherweight as my primary machine since right before Christmas last year.  Since that time, she successfully pieced the tops for both Bonnie Hunter's "Ringo Lake" and "En Provence" mysteries.

When the mysteries were done and after giving her a little over due TLC, it was now time that I finally got around to doing a little something special just for her.  When I originally got the machine fourteen years ago it didn't come with a case.  Since I had hopes for this to one day be my travel sewing machine, I wanted to get or make a carry bag for her.  Actual Featherweight cases can be bought but new ones can be expensive and you have to worry about old ones being musty.

There are also generic carry bags around.  Rebecca over at the Cheeky Cognoscenti blog wrote about the case she got and showed you how to give it a wonderful personalized spin with a custom embroidered monogram.  I also want to point out that she wrote an absolutely fabulous post about her *two* Featherweights and some history of the machines and how to use them --- check that out here

When I put my machine back in working condition in 2016,  I began to look around for a bag in earnest.  Fortunately in this internet age, whatever you can think of is usually already out there!  I found Jeni Baker's post about how she created her Sew Portable Travel Set for her Featherweight.  I love that it not only provides a bag for the machine but one for the foot controller and a cover for the extension bed.  The pattern is available on her website or from the Singer Featherweight Shop.  You can see her tutorial for constructing it here and see it made up in fabrics from the Singer Featherweight line from Robert Kaufman here.

I was lucky enough to get the pattern and some fabrics in a clearance kit from Connecting Threads.  When I pulled out the kit, I decided it needed something so I too decided to add a little of the Singer Featherweight fabrics to it!  It was perfect timing because right at that time they were on sale at The Singer Featherweight Shop.   Eventually, I also purchased some webbing for the handles (there are two sizes in the picture because while shopping I wasn't sure which I preferred) and then finally got started on it at the end of the Summer.

I had to make changes to some of the supplies --- the pattern called for using canvas and interfacing inside the bag to provide stability.  Of course, wanting to get right to work on it, I didn't have either.  But I did have some Pellon Peltex (701 single-sided fusible) that I thought would make a great substitute.  I tested it out....

Top:  Exterior fabric, Batting and Peltex, Bottom: Fabric and Peltex only
... and found I like the combination of the batting and Peltex on the exterior and batting quilted to the interior so that there was both padding on the outside and next to the machine plus a bit of stiffness to the bag exterior.  During the testing I got to try out doing free motion quilting on my Featherweight although I actually ended up quilting the bag parts in straight lines with a walking foot which also went fine.  I had purchased a few special quilting feet for her awhile back so this was my chance to finally try them out.  The Peltex is so stiff  that when I cut out the pieces that would make up the bag exterior, I cut them an inch smaller to leave the required half inch seam allowance (per the pattern) exposed all around.

However, after that I got stuck!  The first problem was that I didn't read the directions through and carefully enough.  When I read further down in the directions, it turned out that the body pieces were actually cut oversize and supposed to be trimmed down after quilting!  Yikes!!  So now I was concerned about having the stiff Peltex in the seam allowances if I did cut it down or if I didn't cut it down, that the bag wouldn't be a snug as it looked in the pattern.  I rolled around ideas in my head for about a week on how to make that work.

When I thought I had one,  I tried moving forward to the next step which is to join the ends of the webbing cut for the straps to connect them.  Uh oh!  The pattern called for something normally very simple:  zigzagging the ends together with the join and the whole strap to be covered later with a strip of a coordinating print.  Yeah, simple unless you are working on a straight-stitch only machine and both of your other zigzag machines need repair!  Unfortunately this just shut me down completely as this project was really the thing I wanted to get done.  I did try moving on to making a runner for Halloween but ran into some issues with that too and then just seemed to walk away from the studio for too long a while.

But with the year winding down and realizing that so many things I had wanted to get done for the year were sitting idle, I really had to push myself back into the game.  Added to that there was talk of a potential trip go to visit a friend and I wanted to be able to bring this machine so once again this bag became a priority project.  But how to move forward?  Well, I could go fix my electronic machines but I admit, I have been reluctant to do that.  Looking at Fanny, I began to think about the possibility of buying another vintage machine, one that could stitch zig zag but was old enough where I could maintain it myself like I have been able to do with her.  After doing some research I found what I was looking for in my new Singer 401A.

She hasn't been named yet (I'm still rolling around a couple of options), but she has already been tested and put to work.  I was able to use her to join those strap ends...

....and  to cover the strap with the decorative trim fabric and attach it to the  exterior.  In the end, I did cut down the exterior pieces as per the pattern, cutting away as much of the Peltex from the seam allowance as I could.  However, suddenly the 401 seemed to not like stitching on or even next to the Peltex!  Everything I had read about the 401 said it was a workhorse and was good at sewing through heavy materials.  I was getting really frustrated (frequent thread breakage and uneven tension) and thought I was going to have to throw in the towel on this project.  But as a last shot,  I pulled Fanny back down and she came to the rescue!  She had no problem stitching through or around the layers and I was able to finally get the bag body done!  Whew!!

Concerned that the 401 had now developed operating problems, when I went to construct the remaining accessories, I went back to her to see if she'd stitch.  Would you believe it  -- this time, no problems at all!  So I used her to quilt (once again trying both free motion for the interior and walking foot for the exterior with slant shank feet purchased just for this machine) and sew up the extension bed cover and the drawstring bag that will carry the foot pedal and cord.  So here they finally are in all their glory!

The 401A is only four years younger than my Featherweight so how cool is that little Sis got to help finish making a comfy travel home for her older Sister!  This also notches my first finish for the year.  Hopefully it won't be the only one!