Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Seven Days of New Year's: Day 4, 5 and 6

I continued work on projects in the days between the Day-After-Christmas and New Year's Day.  Although I still have some more blocks to make for my "Make It Scrappy" quilt, I needed to change things up a bit.  I have some workshops coming up and needed to get some hand work done for them so figured now was a good time.  One of the things I want to do more of next year (so weird to say that when it is only a few hours away!) is to do more "Slow Stitching" through hand work.  So that is what has been on the agenda for the last three days.

Three weeks ago, I, my community garden President and another garden member did a workshop with a troop of Girl Scouts.  We had them decorate fabric squares that are going into a banner quilt for their troop.  This is an idea I got from Val's Quilting Studio and an article on Storey.com by Amy Petronis Plumley.

The other two ladies live in the same building and are also officers of their Building Association.  Their Association regularly sponsors community art workshops (which during the summer months are often held in our community garden) so brought their experience to work with the girls.  They had them draw, paint and stitch their ideas onto muslin fabric squares I had prepped with freezer paper backing.  One group of girls had an idea to add a picture to the crazy quilt style block they designed so the garden member is printing up the image they chose on fabric and we will help them sew it in and finish the additional embellishment they want to add to the block.

My contribution was to bring my Accuquilt Go! cutter and provide dies that they could use to cut felt we had brought to add decorative shapes that they would stitch down onto their blocks.

The Hearts were very popular!

The troop has two leaders, one of whom is also the Community Relations Director for our co-op's management.  She has made a quilt in the past so she and I discussed what the layout of the quilt would be. The quilt uses 10" blocks in a 4 x 3 setting and we plan to sash and border it.  For that part, we'll use Girl Scout fabric purchased from Joann's.

I know, some of that is 4-H fabric.  When the garden President and I went to buy the fabric, all of it was sitting together.  It was only when I brought it to the workshop did the troop leader immediately recognize it as 4-H.  Well, the goals of the two organizations --- to encourage and develop self respect, skills and youth leaders ---- are similar.  At the least, we can use the 4-H fabric for the back.  The troop leader also wanted to incorporate this year's Girl Scout leadership mottos.  So I formatted them in a wordprocessing program and we purchased printer fabric sheets to create those panels.  I suggested that since I had letter dies, we might add another 3-D element to the panels to spell out "G.I.R.L" on each panel.

I had set my task for Sunday to be to print the panels and stitch the letters down with some variegated Perle cotton thread I had purchased to add to the project stash. However, after getting the fabric printouts done, I realized the garden President had taken all the thread we brought to the event home with her.  I had to wait until Monday to connect with her to get it and then sewed them down today.

I'm glad to get these done since we are returning to work with the Troop this coming Friday to finish up their blocks and the layout.  As of now, the plan is for the adults to put the quilt together once the girls finish the blocks and then have a reveal ceremony in the coming months.

Edited To Add:  You can see the finished quilt here.

The other workshop related work:  for this same Building Association, I've been hired to give a quilting workshop.  They had secured a grant to do craft workshops with the theme of "recycling" and they have already held a few in the Summer and Fall.  Of course, quilting fit right in with that theme!  However, the limitation was that their Association room doesn't have the capacity (in space or electrical outlets) to accomodate a bunch of sewing machines so it would have to be a workshop using a hand work technique.  I suggested to them that we do an English Paper Piecing class since it is both a historically and currently popular technique in the quilting world.   While I was familiar with the technique, admittedly, I had only made one EPP rosette prior to now.

So I've spent the last few months gathering a lot of information and books about the subject and familiarizing myself with all the popular ways to prep them.  I gave a "hands-on" demo of the various techniques to the Association's Class Committee back in October.  They all got a big kick out of prepping the hexagons and fabric I provided and were excited about the design possibilities.   We had planned on holding the workshop in November but they had a scheduling snafu so it was moved up to January.

In the mean time, I've tried to find and make a few easy projects of varying complexity that the workshop participants can choose to make once they have tried the various techniques to prepare the shapes.  I had these two ready for the session planned for November:

The Hexie Hot Pad only requires participants to make one rosette.  If they get their fill of trying the technique from that, it will be simple (I hope) to show them how to applique it to a circle of fabric and then layer the circle with batting and stitch it closed.  The EPP Organizer is my variation on a Pot Holder Organizer project I found on the web. This one will be a more advanced project for those who really get into prepping and joining hexies.  I figure if they like it a lot, they will love the opportunity to make a pouch that will allow them to carry their stitching supplies for future projects.

However now that I had more time to prepare, I decided on adding at least one more mid-level project.  I'm trying to keep the projects relatively simple since many of the people who have expressed interest in the workshop have not quilted and some have not even sewn before.  I also wanted the projects to have practical use in the hopes that will encourage participants to want to finish whichever project they choose to do.

I had an idea about making what I thought would be a simple Key Chain Chapstick holder.  When I couldn't move forward on the Girl Scout letters Sunday, I worked on cutting fabric for that EPP project.

However, as I laid them out, I realized my original plan wasn't going to be as simple to execute as I thought.  So I had to trash that idea (although not the hexies!) and come up with something else.  That killed the momentum for that day.

As I said, I went to see our garden's President on Monday and wound up staying way longer than planned.  She is a crafter too so we started "talking craft" between reviewing and packing up the items she will be bringing for the return session on Friday.  When I finally got back home, I did manage to pick another EPP project:  I decided on a Hexie Pincushion project that had been part of a hexie project blog hop.  Like the Hot Pad project, it only requires prepping one rosette plus an extra center hexie.  I managed to get the fabric cut before calling it a night.

I got them all prepped today before needing to run out to pick up some things.  While out, I had hoped to find the crushed walnuts suggested for stuffing the pincushion.  The tutorial noted that either Craft or Pet Stores carry them --- in the latter they are used as Reptile bedding.  However, the nearest craft store to me was a Michael's and they didn't have any.  There was a pet store next door but they also didn't stock it.  I went to a second mall only to discover the pet store there had closed!  When did that happen?!?  I called a third one that was in driving distance but they don't carry it either.

So for now, I've completed the pincushion up to the part where I'll remove the papers and then fill the pincushion.  I had planned to shop on line for my new sewing chair tomorrow so I will order the walnut shells while I'm at it.  That's it for me for tonight.  We're headed out in a little while to go see a late night showing of  "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker".  A great way to welcome in the New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Seven Days of New Year's: Day 3

Continuing to work on projects in the days between the Day-After-Christmas and New Year's Day, let's see what's on the agenda for today:

Still more to do more for the "Make It Scrappy" Quilt.  I'd love to get it completely kitted up with all the blocks before New Year's.  For that I needed to make two more star blocks.  I got a late start but got them done.

Now that those are done, the last thing needed will be the section of Arrow blocks.  However, I need to stop early tonight so that will be a task for another day. 

More blocks made today meant I also got to make more Pinwheels for "Old Tobacco Road".  I got ten more done today. 

...but in typical mystery fashion, I need so many more!

That's it for today!

Were You Frolicing On Friday?

Things were so busy last week, the only thing mystery related I was able to do was to pick up  Part 4 of Frolic.  With my Seven Days of New Years session now in full swing, I'm taking some time to play catch up on the mystery fun.  Bonnie dropped the latest part yesterday so you can go see Part 5 right here!

Last week Bonnie had also shared the good news that because of her busy schedule since the start of the mystery, she's extending the availability of the Frolic instructions until February 14!  So extra time to either pick them up or join in!

Because I had to focus on finishing up the quilt I made for my MIL for Christmas (and you can see my post about that here), I didn't get much of my own mystery work done on "Old Tobacco Road" during the period leading up to Christmas.  I had only been able to get ten more OTR Part 2 HSTs made.

However I did make the decision to start putting together the pinwheel units that get made from the HSTs which is also a step in Part 2.  The HSTs in the Pinwheels have to be the same color so I realized it might be better to start making them now before I finish making all the HSTs just in case there were colors of HSTs I need to focus on.

Now that the holiday flurry has subsided and as I work on the 7DNY projects, I've been generating more pinwheels as I leader/ender them.

This week the "Frolic Folks" are once again working on HSTs for their Part 5 so I too can continue following in their footsteps and try to finish up mine.  So what are you doing to "Frolic" this week?  Picking up parts, following along or even sewing (and finishing) your own "Frolic" parts?  Whatever it is, have fun as we move headlong to New Year's Day.  I hope you have big plans for 2020!

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Seven Days of New Year's: Day 2

I'm taking the days between the Day-After-Christmas and New Year's Day to spend some time in my quilt space.  Ahhh, another day to work on whatever I want!  And this time around there are no "official" deadlines, just things I'd like to accomplish before the New Year starts.  So what's on the agenda for today?

Well, yesterday I started work on finishing the letters for my own "Make It Scrappy" quilt.  I made one as a wallhanging for my MIL and now I'm working on a lap quilt for myself.  I had started some of my letters as I made the one for her, so want to now complete my letter set.  I had prepped all the remaining letters yesterday but only got one sewn up.  Now's the time to finish the rest!

The good news, the letters are done.....

....and in place.

Next is making three more Sawtooth Stars for the layout.  I did manage to get one done.

Bonus:  I also got some more Pinwheel blocks done for the "Old Tobacco Road" Quiltville mystery courtesy of some leader/ender work.

That's it for today!

Finished Or Not Friday: The NewFO is Gifted!

Welcome to another edition of "Finished or Not Friday", hosted by the lovely Alycia of Alycia Quilts!

This week I'm linking up with the follow-up to my earlier FONF post.  At the beginning of December, I had embarked on making a quilt that was to be part of the gift I was giving my MIL for Christmas.  I ultimately named that quilt "Scrappy Inspiration".



This is the MODA Bake Shop Pattern "When Life Is Scrappy Quilt" designed by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique.  Back in 2016, MODA did a "Spell It With MODA" Quilt Along using letter blocks designed to be made from Jelly Roll strips and this was one of the patterns offered during it.  I had downloaded the letter patterns when the QAL was going on but thought I had just discovered this pattern recently when I was on the site looking for something else.  Being a scrappy quilt loving girl, I immediately went to download it only to then discover I had already done so back in 2017, Lol!  The letter block patterns are still available on the web and if you download Vanessa's pattern, she explains how to access them.

I'm completely happy with the finished quilt.  It was also completely made from scraps and stash, further supporting the theme of the quilt.  The downside:  I TOTALLY didn't meet ANY of the deadlines that I had set for finishing this!  When I mailed the package, I was told that it wouldn't arrive until Saturday.  However, I've got to give credit where credit is due:  my MIL called me last night and said the USPS delivered the package yesterday!  Woo hoo!  If you're interested in all the gory finishing details, then read on my friend....

So to start:  I had decided to make this for my MIL (who is also a quilter) because when we visited her back in October, she and I had a conversation about scrappy quilting.  She is just getting warmed up to the idea of making a quilt with more than just a few fabrics.  Although the original pattern is designed around using Jelly Roll strips to make a large lap-sized quilt, I made this version half size to finish as a wallhanging.  I had made a wallhanging for my MIL's sewing space waayy back in 2008 (which she still displays and can be seen in my previous FONF post) so wanted to give her another one that will hopefully encourage her to continue to explore working scrappy.

My original plan was to get this finished to make the USPS early holiday mailing deadline on December 14 and I thought the piecing was simple enough to do so.  I have to to say, this turned into a much harder project to bring to completion than I expected although the piecing was the least of the issues I dealt with.  For starters, I also want to make one of these for myself in the original lap quilt size so my plan was to start by making blocks for both of us.  I figured that once the letters and star blocks were all made, I'd then switch the focus to finishing her quilt to meet the mailing deadline and then finish mine afterwards.

Not! Oh, it started out well but I erred in not mapping out, in detail, what blocks I'd make on each day and whether my production plans actually worked for meeting the deadline I had set for myself.  Add in a couple of unexpectedly busy holiday prep days and it soon became apparent I wasn't going to make the original deadline that was set.  By the time I reached that mailing deadline, I knew I had to switch gears and only continue to work on her blocks if I was going to get this thing done!

Then of course, Murphy's Law showed up!  My quilting chair broke so I had to switch from stitching on my mid arm machine (glimpsed in the lower right of the picture above) to stitching on one of my vintage Singers.  Not a problem in and of itself.  I figured I'd use my 401 since it had a wider throat space than my Featherweight which would help when I got to the quilting part of this.  I also realized that since this top was constructed in rows, this would be a good time to employ the "Quilting In Sections" technique.

I know about this from Marti Michells's book but she also has a Craftsy class on the subject as well.  I figured that planning to quilt each row separately and then putting this all together would make it easier to work with the smaller throat space of the machine.  Once the rows were all pieced,  I was ready to move to backing them.  I had chosen some "Mrs. Bobbins" comic novelty prints to fussy cut and use as the backing for each row.

Ironically I had purchased these last year on a whim (well, and a sale!) while shopping for a quilt kit for my MIL as her gift.  As opposed to the stripe print (which was WOF), the actual comic panels were not wide enough to span the full width of the letter rows so I had to add filler (in the form of a black on white micro polka dot print) to the ends of those rows to make them wide enough to work as backing strips.   However, after I decided on my free-motion quilting plan for this, I realized I didn't want the stitching to obliterate being able to read the comic panels.  So I revised the stitching plan and decided to layer and back each row with muslin first, quilt them and then secure the comic panel rows to the back by only stitching in the ditch between the letter and star blocks from the front (there are pics later showing how that turned out).

Except, when I started trying to free motion quilt the rows as planned on the 401, I was having problems with it.  Since I was working on the dining room table (so the machine is raised up) and not with the machine recessed into my sewing cabinet as I'm used to (which I can't do since the chair broke),  the FM quilting did not go well.  Ok fine, maybe I can change my stitch plan to one that utilizes a walking foot instead.  That would be a little more forgiving with the set-up I was using.  Except that the 401 is a slant shank machine and I don't have a slant shank walking foot for it!  I've had one on my "Quilt Notions Wishlist" ever since I got the machine but it hadn't been a priority to purchase it up until now.  Guess I now know what will be one of the first quilt purchases in 2020 that I'll be making!

Ok, but I was already past my first deadline and the late mailing deadline for Christmas delivery was by now quickly coming up, what was I going to do?!?!  Go figure:  my Featherweight came to the rescue!  It just so happens that I do have a walking foot for my Featherweight machine which is a regular low (straight) shank machine.  And the "Quilting In Sections" set up is just as forgiving on that machine as it was in the 401.  So at this point I made another machine change!

This is how the back panels looked after being attached. 

Whew!  Well that saved me on getting the quilting done.  However, the walking foot quilting was waayy more time consuming than I expected the free-motion work to have been.  Did I mention I had a looming deadline?  Yeah, time consuming was not what I was looking for right then but at this point, I was committed to getting this finished --- no matter when!  Needless to say, I also missed the late mailing deadline (ok, breathe, it was not going to be the end of the world if she didn't get it by Christmas).  Even once I got the quilting all done and the rows all connected, the "Finish-finishing" also presented its own problems.

Of course, it starts with wanting to use a specific fabric.  I've had this fat quarter set sitting in my quilt space for a long while now.  It was originally purchased to make a sewing/quilting themed piece for display in my own quilt space.

I thought the turquoise tape measure print was perfect for either a border or wide binding on this project.  However, I calculated that it would only be enough for a regular binding.  Ok, at this point I'd settle for that.  I had also by now envisioned that I'd like to  give this to her with a scrappy mix of top tabs with the idea that she could hang the piece from a rod or dowel.  (Note To Self:  Past due deadlines are NOT the ideal time for "Design Decisions"!)  So the top "binding" would be attached last and applied as two separate strips with the tabs sandwiched between them.

So I cut the strips needed for the top of the quilt and then cut the binding strips for the bottom.  When I connected the bottom strips together and laid the prepared binding around the edges of the quilt --- wait for it -- it was just-not-quite-long-enough!!   Even though I only had to go around three sides, I was about six inches short of what I needed.  Akkk!  Of course I could add the remaining top strips to this to finish it off but then what to do for the top?

Fortunately, this is a scrappy project so "Scrappy Is As Scrappy Does"!  I had another turquoise print with large polka dots that I had used to make one of the letters for my quilt.  I hadn't used it in hers because I felt the scale of that print wouldn't translate well in the smaller strips I had to use for her letters.  However, the color coordinated well with the tape measure print and for a binding -- already past deadline -- it would work just fine!  So I added the former top strips to the binding to go around the bottom of the quilt and cut new strips for the top as well as pulled more scraps to make the tabs.

Sheesh!  What I hadn't figured on when I started this journey was to be sewing right up to the Monday before Christmas!!  Yet F-I-N-A-L-L-Y in the wee early morning hours (yes, I was up all night!) this project was D-O-N-E done!  Even then I still had to do some clean up work.  I had not caught the edges of some spots of the between-row sashing strips in the back when I stitched in the ditch from the front so had to go back and hand stitch those loose spots down.  I had pieced in some muslin strips on the back (to make the comic panel on the back of the gray "Scrappy" word row equal in height to it) and those served as my (pieced in) label area.  So once I wrote that information in, the quilt was now ready for transport!

I had purchased a vinyl project bag (Quilt In A Day frequently has major sales on these) and I packed the other quilt tools and the folded quilt into it, wrapped it and -- because I had kept the box the rulers I had purchased for her came in -- had an appropriately sized shipping container all ready.  One last thing:  I also bake peanut butter cookies for my MIL and her sister every year and usually send those with their gifts.  Fortunately, my MIL's sister was in New York for Christmas and my husband had her for the Kringle so we didn't have to mail her gift this year. My husband dropped it off to her Christmas Day since she was in the midst of holiday cooking for the elderly relative she was visiting.

So the second to last thing I did was to bake a big batch of cookies and Foodsaver them to be included in my MIL's box.  The last thing I did was to head to the post office STAT!

If you've stayed with the story this long, bless you!  Now, if I haven't monopolized all of your blog reading time, why not head back over to Alycia's and check out what everyone else got done this week.  I'm sure there are a lot of gifted quilts in the finishing queue!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Seven Days of New Year's: Day 1

With the holidays now over, it's time to slow things down a bit and recharge my wits and energy to prepare for the start of a New Year!  Fortunately, I have no pressing activities or deadlines at the moment (she said with fingers crossed).  I'm hoping to take this period between now and New Year's Day to indulge in an extended daily Quilt-A-Thon session.  There are a number of things I'd like to get done which would help clear out the quilt space for that long list of 2020 "Wanna Do's" I've already compiled!

So today, I'm working on finishing up the letters for my own "Make It Scrappy" lap quilt.  Back in early December, I had started work on a quilt that was to be a gift for my MIL.    The pattern is a MODA Bake Shop design by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique using letters from the 2016 "Spell It With MODA" Quilt Along.

I was making a wall hanging size one for her and a lap quilt sized one for me.  I started out making blocks for both of our quilts together.

However, I was trying to meet a deadline so I could mail it out and get it to her by Christmas.  I reached a point where I realized if I was to have any chance of finishing her quilt by the deadline, I needed to stop working on my blocks and only focus on finishing hers and the quilt.

Needless to say while I did finish the quilt (and the post about that is here), I ultimately didn't make that deadline.  When I did finally go to mail it, I was told it wouldn't arrive until Saturday.  However, I just got off the phone with my MIL a little while ago and it turns out the package came today!  Great, now I'm even more ready to stand down and get back to my own work!

So for today,  I've been getting back to my blocks:  here's what I have so far:

I've picked out the fabrics and cut the pieces for these remaining letters:

So far, only the "F" is done.  I don't think I'll stay up too late tonight and try and finish them all.  I've had too many late nights lately as it is!  I also need to make three more Sawtooth Star blocks as well so I hope I can get to those in the coming days.  We'll see how the next six days goes!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A Change of the Machine Guard

I'm still working on my MIL's wallhanging!  I'm hoping to finish either today or tomorrow.  Part of the reason for the delay in progress is that over the weekend, I had to change sewing stations:  the drafting chair I use while sewing has breathed its last!

I've had it eleven years, purchased long before I had my Koala table.  Guess I'll be shopping for a new chair for New Year's.  None of the house chairs are high enough to use at the sewing cabinet so I've had to switch over to the dining room table and Rhubye, my Singer 401, and I are making it work!

I haven't had her out in a while so it's good to give her a work out.  I had finally decided on her name over the summer.  She's named after my (maternal) grandmother's middle sister.  My 401 was birthed in South Carolina, is sturdy and a bit modern much like her namesake.  My great-aunt was a thick-set and very no-nonsense woman.  When I was a teenager, there were many summers that I traveled with my aunt to visit our relatives down South.  She was the first in her family to go to college, which she did at a late age, unusual in her day.

I also outfitted Rhubye with a new gadget recently:  the Singer Featherweight Shop ran a "12 Days of Christmas sale" and on one of the days the special was for their new thread post.

This creates a horizontal spool pin on the machine which allows for better thread flow for cross-wound spools.  Although the Featherweight Shop primarily offers accessories for Featherweight machines, they are now starting to add items to their stock for other vintage Singer machines too.  However, this new thread post will also work on Featherweights.  I already had their original thread stand for my Featherweight:

I think it adds to the vintage look of that machine.  However, I do like the "low  profile " of the new thread post for the 401.  I think it fits her modern style -- although the 401 is not as "space-age modern" as Singer 500 "Rocketeer" Series machines.

So, Rhubye and I are hard at work on finishing up my MIL's Kringle gift.  Let's get back to work!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Another Frolic Friday on the Tobacco Road

The next part of Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery dropped today, go here to see Part 3 of Frolic!

I'm really going to feel as if I'm quilting along with the Quiltville community this week! Bonnie has her Frolic-ers making triangle squares this week.  That's the same unit I'm working on for Old Tobacco Road, one of the early Quiltville mysteries!

Lol, I already have more than what the Frolic-ers have to make this week but still have about the same amount still to do!  Working on Part 2 of "OTR",  I also will have the task of taking the finished HSTs and turning them into Pinwheel blocks.  I wonder if anyone has started guessing about what the Frolic HSTs will be used for?

I'm also still working on the gift for my MIL.  I've had to resign myself to the fact that I definitely won't make this weekend's early mailing deadline but I've made steady progress so she'll definitely get it for Christmas!

This looks like the quilter's version of Wheel of Fortune!

Hope everyone is enjoying this mystery season whether you are working on Frolic, some other mystery or holiday projects because....

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Frolicing Along and Six Ways To Enjoy the Quiltville Mystery Season

Part 2 of the latest "Frolic" mystery dropped yesterday!

I'm not doing Frolic but I am working on some Bonnie Hunter mysteries:  I'm continuing work on "Tobacco Road" (an old Bonnie mystery from 2008) :

"Frolic" did four patches for Part 1 and I finally finished up these Part 1 four patches for "TR" too!  

I'm also planning to work on "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" while Frolic is happening.  I had finished Part 1 for it back in May and started on the Part 3 string blocks earlier this year (seen here and here) but unfortunately didn't get to make any of those this week.  Part of the reason I jumped ahead to that part of that mystery was to participate in some of the "String Alongs" that were hosted around the web this year.   Maybe I'll get to make some more in the coming week?

The best thing about Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville mystery season is that it's a community but doesn't require the things that often make people shy away from doing a Bonnie mystery:  the need to keep pace with the group or to finish or whether you like the current project.

For those of you who are (or want to) dive into this year's project, you can:

1.  Participate With the Group.

Follow the current prompts and plan your work around the weekly link-ups.

Tip:  Linking up doesn't require that you finished that week's section, only that you check in with whatever you have (or even haven't!) accomplished for the week.  It's guaranteed that whatever your progress is, there will be someone else encouraged by the fact that they are at the same point in the process as you are!

2.  Figure Out How To "Tweak" the Design.

 I'm a scrappy girl so it's rare that I will not like Bonnie's design.  I have however, sometimes not loved the color scheme.  One thing I always enjoy seeing in the weekly linkups (which this year will be on Instagram) is how other people have interpreted her color scheme.

Edited To Add:  If you'd like some help with how to choose alternate colors for a Quiltville mystery,  make it a point to review the video that Bonnie and Holly Anne of String & Story did in 2018 for some tips on how and where to start.  Holly Anne gives you a road map on how to approach your unique color picks.

Although be warned, I didn't like the color scheme of  Bonnie's 2008 "Double Delight" design when it first debuted.  Then in 2018  (many years after I became enamored with the Civil War repro palette) I realized what I had been missing out on and had to run and make it up!  If you don't like it now, you might just covet it later!

There are also people out there who as the mystery progresses, will try to figure out what the final layout of the mystery is.  This can be fun and helpful later on:  it's a challenge to see if you are "thinking like Bonnie" and guess the layout of the pieced components correctly.  But even if you don't, you may stumble on a block combination that you will use to make your own unique layout.  Even better, if you realize that you pieced a section wrong or don't like the way the colors or fabrics you have used work in the final design, one of your changes might help make your "design decision" work for you!

For those who aren't quite ready to jump into this year's mystery:

3.  Follow the Weekly Prompts.

Use the mystery season or the weekly prompts while the current mystery is going on as a "call to action" to finish up a prior year mystery project.   Last year, conscious that I had not one but TWO of the most recent mysteries finished but waiting to be quilted, I didn't take on the challenge of gathering fabrics for the new one.  Instead I embarked on one of Bonnie's older mysteries that I could start by using the scraps from the ones already completed.  So while the world was working on "Good Fortune", I was having a "Double Delight" doing Bonnie's mystery from 2008.  Even then I didn't finish exactly when "Good Fortune" ended (well, it didn't help that I hadn't started at the same time either!)  but I was engaged enough in the project to continue with it and finish the top and backing a month later.  Actually, I did start the prior year's mystery "On Ringo Lake" when Bonnie did (because for that one I loved the color scheme!) and used the weekly prompts to work on it AND finish up the mystery from the year prior to that ("En Provence"), as well!

A few times Cathy over at the Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting blog has done a different variation of this same process:  while Bonnie's mystery is going on she has made the same units called for in the clues for the current mystery but used the units to finish up another project.  So if Bonnie called for flying geese she made them (although not necessarily the same size) and used them for an existing project she had that also called for flying geese.  This way she was "sewing along with the mystery group" and got a UFO moved forward!

4.  Create Your Own Mystery Quilt Finishing Challenge.

Take a page out of the book of my two heroines in Mystery Madness:  Jo Kramer of Jo's Country Junction and Maggie Fellow of Making A Lather.  For many years, Jo used the run up to the new mystery as an opportunity to try to knock out a prior year mystery UFO or make a bunch of quilts from one of Bonnie's books before the new mystery got underway.  Since 2018 Maggie had been on a quest to complete all the mysteries and completed the last of them this year.

I'm sort of following their lead in that after embarking on "Double Delight", this year's rash of String Alongs had prompted me to start "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll".  I added to it using the double pink leftovers from "Double Delight" and the greens from a Fons & Porter St. Patrick's day project called "Emerald's".  I'm using the excitement of the current mystery season to push me to add to the small stack of string squares I already finished for it and move it further along the track towards a finished top.

5. A Great Opportunity To Use Leaders and Enders.

One piecing tactic Bonnie is well known for promoting is the idea of using "leader/enders" -- that is using the piecing of one project as a follow-up to another.  Rather than putting a scrap through your machine that you will ultimately throw away, why not send a piecing unit from another project through just before or after you sew up that line of pieces from your current project.  It serves the same purpose of keeping something under the presser foot at the start of a seam and you get the benefit of finishing up a part of another project even as you focus on your current priority.

I'm doing that too:  I had kitted up "Tobacco Road", one of Bonnie's early mysteries, back in 2018 when I had plans to travel to help out a friend who expected to need help during a serious illness.  Fortunately she was able to make it through without the additional support and now over a year later, I was finally able to get the "travel project" started during another trip this year.  So I'm using it as a leader/ender along with her "Cotton Boll" mystery and hoping to finish up both tops during the "Frolic" fun.

Other things to consider:

6.  It's Stress-free Sewing! 

Don't stress about the number of pieces called for in a typical Bonnie mystery design.  Bonnie has always said that she designs BAQs (Big A** Quilts) because she makes her quilts to be used and that's the size she likes to have on hand.  That doesn't mean you have to make the current or a past project the exact size patterned.  Many people have made smaller versions of the current project or changed the sizes of the piecing units to make a miniature version of the design.  You could also go larger if you choose.

Bonnie is notorious for using a lot of smaller units (1-1/2" or 2" cut) in her designs.  Someone like my MIL, who only likes working with "big pieces" would be put off with that.  I say don't be!  Make it a personal challenge to convert your project into larger piecing sizes to create her design.

Just Have Fun!

So I've said all this to say that the mystery season, like quilting in general, is meant to be fun.  You don't have to hew to a specific design or stress about finishing --- work in your own style and to your own taste and at your own pace to create a finish as you are so inclined.  But certainly at the least, take the opportunity to check in, download the latest "Frolic" part and enjoy all the community that surrounds this annual event!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Finished Or Not Fridays: Embarking on a "NewFO"

Linking up to another edition of "Finish Or Not Fridays" hosted by the "Hostess with the QOV Mostess" Alycia of the Alycia Quilts - Quiltygirl blog!  This time I've got one for the "...Or Not!" category although I will link back in a few weeks with the finish.

Years ago, Barbara Stanbro of the Cat Patches blog used to host a monthly linkup called "NewFo" which challenged you to share a new project that you started.  It was an interesting twist on the linkups that focus on sharing UFOs that you have finished up.  Despite having the usual multitude of projects in the hopper right now, I did have a very good reason to start yet another one.

I have my MIL, a fellow quilter, for my Christmas Kringle giftee again this year.  Last year I got her a quilt kit, a quilty mug and made a mug rug to go with it.  This year she asked for some notions which have already been purchased:

This is just a peek since I'm not sure if she has figured out how to read my blog!

When we visited her back in October, she and I had a conversation about "scrappy quilting".  I taught my MIL how to quilt and she has always perferred working with "big pieces" (nothing smaller than a 5" charm square) and in a controlled pallette.  She generally gravitates towards projects that call for only a few colors and then uses one fabric in each of the required colors.  However, she had worked on two projects in recent months that have pushed her a bit past her controlled fabric boundaries.

She is a huge fan of Jenny Doan and the Missouri Star Quilt Co. YouTube projects and has made a few of them already.  Back in August, she fell in love with Jenny's "The Big Star" project and made that one up.

My MIL has been trying to focus on working solely from her stash and this was the first time she had to challenge herself to start a project by figuring out what pieces she had in the amounts required and then make choices to coordinate unique pairs of fabrics together for each star and balance those choices and their placement in the quilt as a whole.  It was a real challenge for her but with a little help from me, she picked her fabrics and got the top pieced together and was reasonably happy with the outcome.  I think she'll like it even more once it's quilted --- complete finishes always tend to look even better than they did as just tops (IMHO)! 

She is also a member of a guild and in a "destash swap" got a few Block of the Month blocks already pieced along with the complete set of the BOM patterns.  She will have to make up the rest of the blocks to have enough for a completed project.  One of the rulers I bought for her Kringle gift is a specialty one that will help her make the pieced units for one of the remaining blocks.  The blocks that are already done were made up in a controlled pallette of Black, Navy, Gray, Dark Tans, Gold and Cream but with all the fabrics a scrappy mix within those colors.  During our visit, we shopped for more fabrics within the color pallette  (not her usual colors so none except the Gray and the Cream were in her stash) and that will add even more "scrappiness" to the finished set of blocks.

So project by project, she is getting more comfortable with the idea of "working scrappy".  She has often liked the quilts I have made and especially liked the Bonnie Hunter "En Provence" top I finished.  She doesn't think she'll ever be able to work that scrappy though!   I, on the other hand, have always loved the "everything but the kitchen sink" variety of scrap quilt so working scrappy was "in my blood" so to speak.  When I look at quilt designs, if they are not already scrappy, I think about whether they would work that way either with a scrappy mix of fabics within the colorway or if they would still work taking the "kitchen sink" route.

Recently I happened on an old Moda Bake Shop "recipe" from back in 2016 and saw an opportunity to make a quilted comment on the topic for both of us.  Even better, it was designed by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique, a pattern and fabric designer I really like for the color pallettes she uses.  I have her Frivols tin (#9) that I hope to make up one of these days --- or maybe not since like Jelly Rolls and Fat Quarter bundles, these are just so cute staying displayed as they are!

The Bake Shop recipe as offered is for a lap quilt which is what I'll make for me.  For my MIL, I plan to make the same quilt but half size to give her as a wallhanging for her sewing room as the final piece of her Kringle gift.  I made her a walhanging all the way back in 2008 when she still lived here in New York and she still has it hanging in her sewing room today!

The pattern and the only pictures I still have of it which are in my journal.

I'm hoping this new wallhanging will inspire her as she continues to try working on scrappy projects in the future.

Of course, "S" is for Scrappy!

Once again, this is just a peek of what I've got so far.  I'll share more of it and the link to the recipe once I've got the whole thing made up and in the mail.  I'm hoping to make the U.S. Postal Service early mailing deadline on the 14th so I'm going to have to really focus to get this done!

Don't forget to go over to Alycia's to see what everyone else either got started, worked on or finished this week!