Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Humble Quilts String Along

This is the year for string quilt stitch alongs and both Lori DeJarnatt of Humble Quilts and the staff at MODA are hosting them this year.  While I have an old string project I hope to dredge back out later this year,  I had decided at the end of last year to start something more immediate: string blocks for a mystery quilt.

When Bonnie Hunter's fall mystery "Good Fortune" got under way back in November, I embarked on my own set of  Quiltville projects.  Primarily I've worked on her "Double Delight" mystery and am now putting together the rows of blocks to finish up the center for that one:

I used the the piecing of those blocks as an opportunity to start on the blocks for another mystery:  Bonnie's "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" from her "String Fling" book (you can see hers in this post)

I had always liked the touches of pink in that quilt and figured I could pass along the leftovers from Double Delight to this new project.  For the purposes of participating in all the string alongs, "Cotton Boll" also offered a chance to plow through my neutral strings.  As seen in the picture at the top of the post, I've managed to get 13 blocks pieced up so far while serving as leader/enders for the "Double D" project.

Later in the mystery, all of the blocks made will get split.....

.....and pieced back together into new blocks that will be alternated with the other blocks to be made for the quilt.

I've got another project set to be cut out in February that will be donating more leftovers (this time green fabrics) to add to the "Cotton Boll" project stash.  Isn't it great when one project sets up your next one?

It's always fun to check out what string projects quilters have under way and you can see many more of those back at Lori's Humble Quilts.  Also, don't forget that even more string project inspiration can also be found at the String Thing Along blog too!

Monday, January 21, 2019

First Finish for 2019: Baby Quilt Gift

As noted at the end of my last post, I had a deadline project that HAD TO get done!  DH's cousin held a party for her daughter's first birthday on Saturday.  Of course, as a quilter that meant a baby quilt for a present.  Originally, there was going to be a "Baby's First Christmas" party back in December but the parents decided to focus on doing a big bash for her birthday instead.  That was a good call for me because although I had planned to work on this project back then, there was so many other things I also wanted to get done that I welcomed the deadline extension for this one!  Even so, I still wound up scrambling to complete it.

I think the finished quilt came out quite pretty and great for a little girl.

The back used up a hodge podge of flannels I had in the baby quilt stash.  The solid flannels used for the letters and the white strips came from some yardage that is actually laying around waiting to be made into night shirts.

These two prints were really cute and had been remnant cuts I picked up a while back.

I'm also thrilled I got a chance to use my Accuquilt Go! and the  Alphabet dies to personalize it.  Here's hoping that the Quilt Muses give me an opportunity to invest in the new lowercase letter set they introduced last year.

You can see here that when I cut the "R", I laid it out wrong -- the fusible should have been on top so I had to cut a second one to get it oriented right!  This means the "A" and "Y" are technically also backwards but they don't read that way so I left them as is.

Since the Featherweight  was the machine already in my sewing cabinet, I started off doing all the piecing with it and planned to also quilt this with it as well.  However, since it is only a straight-stitch machine, I had to set up my 401  on the dining room table to do the zig zag work around the applique.

I was able to use up the rest of the jelly roll strips leftover from piecing the blocks to piece together a multi-colored binding.

This project did a good bit to clear some things from the small stash of baby/kid quilt fabrics I have.

Well most of it:  the pastel letters fabric used in the center stars and sashing and the pastel plaid in the second border were actually used in one of the first baby quilts I made a long time ago and I still have a good bit of it left!  I had also sent my MIL two pieces of other fabrics from this stash earlier this month to help along a quilt she was making.  Maybe I can bundle together what I have left in the box that I have them stored in and plan to make a few quick projects for charity to clear it all out.  I don't foresee any other baby/kid quilts needed for family members during the upcoming year.  Should I get a call for that, well it would just mean I'd have an excuse to go shopping!

As always there are things I would change if I had more time:  The pattern I used was "Estelle", designed by one of my favorite designers (and expert domestic machine quilter) Wendy Sheppard of Ivory Spring for Easy Quilts magazine Summer 2016 (Note:  If you're interested in that issue, a better deal may be to get the 2016 Easy Quilts compilation CD which is on sale right now!) .

I have a file folder of potential baby and kid quilt patterns and had picked this one because it was the one that worked best with the jelly roll and fat quarter bundle of pastel solids that I had in the baby quilt stash.  The pattern had used a dark grey fabric around the sawtooth stars and I had planned to substitute dark lavender strips from the jelly roll for that.  My limited collection of fabric also meant making the quilt in a smaller four block format.  Yet even for that, I needed just a wee bit more than the jelly roll strips alone would provide and the fat quarter bundle only had the light pastel colors in it so light lavender around the stars it would have to be!

I really liked how the walking foot design used over the blocks turned out and welcomed the chance to do some quilting with my Featherweight.  I used a doubled template design from Mary Mashuta's first book of walking foot designs, "Foolproof Machine Quilting".  I had used a design from her second book back in December when making a mug rug gift

Since I used jelly roll strips rather than the 2" cut strips the pattern called for, my blocks were also bigger than patterned.  This meant I could make big templates for the stitching.

I made them out of  freezer paper which meant I could iron them onto the layered top each time I needed to use them and stitch around them to quilt the blocks.

Mary's technique introduced variety in the use of the various template designs she offered by layering different template designs to create more complex finished motifs on quilts.

An example from the book.

I also added a diamond stitched into the center square of each sawtooth star (my results can best be seen in the picture of the back of the quilt at the top of this post).  I was finishing up the quilting right up until the last minute.  So while I really wanted to also stitch a decorative pattern in those outer borders, under the time pressure I couldn't decide on something continuous that could be done free hand.  So in the end, I left them as just stitched-in-the-ditch.

I also didn't get to put on a label....yet.  I realized that the only color from the front not used in the making of the back was green so I cut out a large heart, turning it with a used dryer sheet (my go to stabilizer for machine turned applique).

I took it with me to the baby's party hoping that I could sew it on there but she had a lot of guests (both kids and adults!) and the birthday girl conked out as the party was winding down so they didn't open gifts before we left.  As we were leaving, I let his cousin know I had to add something to the baby's gift later.  They live in our co-op complex not too far from us so I will go see them some time soon and add that important piece.

I'm glad I was able to get this one done and crossed off of the 2018 Year-end List of Leftovers!  Now I'm freed up to go back to my other projects in progress.  It's going to be brutally cold this week so I'm hoping for many opportunities to stay in and quilt!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Quiltville Update: Good-bye to "Good Fortune"

It's been busy on the homefront so it's taken me a while to post.  This past weekend, our refrigerator decided it liked being cool rather than cold so it took a few days to empty and clean it out in prep for a service call.  That was a bit of a bust in that the service tech determined that it needed a new compressor which has to be ordered.  Fortunately for us we have a small back up freezer in the kitchen and it's winter so we're able to use our cooler and "Pioneer refrigerator", a.k.a. our terrace, to store some things short term.  That's why I'm happiest when I'm in my quilty bubble these days!

So on the Quiltville front:  Monday was the last link-up over at Bonnie's for this year's Quiltville mystery "Good Fortune".

There's still time to download the instructions here since Bonnie says they will remain on her website until February 1.  There were a lot of finishes last week and even more this week.  As the year progresses, I look forward to periodically Googling to see even more "Good Fortune" finishes.  For those quilters that haven't finished it yet, many will try to complete theirs before Bonnie's next mystery starts at the end of November.

Regarding my own Quiltville projects progress, I've continued work on "Double Delight":

I started this project hoping to sew along on my clues while all the "Good Fortune" folks sewed up theirs.  However, since I embarked on this long after "GF" was underway, it didn't take long for me to realize I'd have to change my intentions to trying to get "Double D" to a top by the time of the last "GF" reveal.  I did get close -- I'm down to making up the last two rows of blocks.

I'm in love with this one and once I get the last of the blocks done, I'll only have a narrow inner border of the cheddar and the outer border to add to it.  For the outer border I have a great Willam Morris print:

That print is bold so I don't know if I'll add the pieced cornerstones Bonnie used in her version.  I'll have to see what I want to do when I get to that point.

I've often blogged about the Quiltville swag I've gotten from Zazzle.  Recently Bonnie did a post highlighting some of the good works that come from the proceeds from the sales of the items.  And yes, I already have my Double Delight pin:

I also have one for another Quiltville mystery "Tobacco Road" because I had expected to travel last year and planned to start on it while away.  Now that I've also started on yet another old Quiltville mystery "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll", I need to get one for that too!

Speaking of which:  "Double D" was a great vehicle for working on the string blocks needed for "Cotton Boll":

I've got ten blocks made up so far just by using them as leader/enders.  It's a good start and with all the string alongs going on this year, there will be plenty of opportunities to make more.

In other Quiltville news there's Scrappy Trips:

Unfortunately, it's still waiting for quilting (along with my Christmas Cobblestones quilt).  When I last reported on this, I was still waiting on a darning (aka free motion) foot for my Featherweight machine that seemed to have gotten lost in transit.  I had ordered it in mid December and thinking it was delayed due to holiday rush mailing, waited until after the New Year to make inquiries both to the vendor and the US Postal Service as to where it was.

The Singer Featherweight Shop promptly sent a replacement (which arrived safe and sound) but since I was still trying to finish up "Double D", had started on my Wholecloth quilt and had another deadline project I needed to start, the quilting had to be put on the back burner.  Guess what?  The original order finally showed up this week a full 41 days after it was originally mailed!!  Fortunately, the Singer Featherweight Shop had told me to just mark it "Refused - Return To Sender" so it would go back to them without either of us being charged for the return postage.

So that brings me up to date for all my Quiltville adventures.  I'm now working on the deadline project which has to be finished up for this weekend so hopefully I'll be reporting on that soon too!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching: Finally Starting on the Wholecloth Quilt

 I'm linking up for the first time in a long while with everyone over at Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching.

The good news is that on my list of priorities for this year was to get back to last year's goal of working on the last of my original Bucket List projects.  Looks like I'm not the only one thinking about this:  American Patchwork and Quilting magazine has issued their Bucket List for this year and will be sharing a new bucket list item each week on their social media pages.

There are many on their list that I've already done in the past so I don't see them as "To Do's" for this year.  There are also a few I see getting to as I work on the things I want to get done for the year like "#16 Creatively piecing a quilt backing" or "#9 Sew a quilt using only my scraps and stash".  At the bottom of their list they made space for "write-ins" --- the perfect slots for my own Bucket List items:

The first of the write-ins is the subject for this post.  After spending March of last year adding  additional motifs to the pre-printed design, hand basting the trapunto batting layer and then the quilting layer, I've finally put it all in the hoop and started the stitching:

I think this will also be the year I finally make an armchair tool caddy!  Since it's been a good while since I've hand quilted, it will take some time for me to get in a groove on this.  I've already re-watched Shar Jorgensen's QHL episode with Jean Brown about using the Aunt Becky tool.  My plan is that this will be a project that I'll be working on for the whole year.

While I hope to get in some stitching time during the week, I can definitely make an appointment to stitch on Sundays (or thereabouts) because every week my DH and I usually sit down at some point to watch "In the Kitchen With David" on QVC.

We love kitchen gadgets (oh, and cooking!) and so this show is a must see for us.  Matt Ragland (the Bullet Journal Guy) gave a good tip this year to team something you want to get in the habit of doing with something you are already in the habit of doing.  I realized that one way to insure consistent stitching on this project would be to plan to stitch while we watch this show which we usually do in the livingroom where I've got the wholecloth project situated.  So Win-Win!!  Hey, if I want to get in even more stitching time, maybe we could also start regularly watching David on Wednesday nights (which for us would actually take place Thursday morning since DH works at night) or watching David's old co-host Mary who has an ITK show on Saturdays.  I'm just not sure our budget would approve of that!

I may not link up every week but will try to post my progress at least once a month.  Of course any milestones, trials, tribulations or cries for help will be posted immediately!!  Hope you are enjoying your stitching this week and I look forward to checking out what everyone else is working on this year!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Catching up With Quiltville: The "Good Fortune" For the New Year Has Been Revealed!

This is my first chance to check in with Bonnie this week and it looks like I missed a lot!  

On New Year's Day she released Part 7 of the latest "Good Fortune" mystery.  There were half square triangles to work on and piecing work with the four patches from Part 1.  However, the big  news is that today is the day for the BIG REVEAL a.k.a. Part 8 a.k.a. the final part of the mystery!  I won't spoil the surprise here -- go on over to Bonnie's blog and see the finished quilt proudly displayed in her blog header!

So another Quiltville mystery quilt season is in the can and I look forward to seeing all the participant reveals over the next two Mondays.  I love the outer border Bonnie created with the units made up in Part 5 as well as her use of multiple pieced borders (a technique that Judy over at Patchwork Times is also fond of).   I will be particulary excited to see how all the alternate colorways that folks have used worked up into the design.  If I did make this one in the future, I definitely would like to try that route.

I have a little reveal of my own:  my plan to work on putting the "Double Delight" blocks (Parts 4 and 5) together as I complete the block units for Part 2 and 3 has progressed nicely:

I love it already and it motivates me to keep up with making the blocks.  Because I already have all of the Part 1 units made, I only need to make four and six of each of the Part 2 and 3 units (respectively) to add another block onto the design wall.  I can't wait to see how far I can get by the time the second week of "Good Fortune" reveals are posted!

While working on those I also got a few string blocks started for "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" as leader/enders and for the String Alongs:

I just had to remember to change to a shorter stitch length when I switched from making "Double Delight" blocks to piecing the paper foundation backed "RRCB" blocks so the paper will be easy to tear off in the future.

"Scrappy Trips" is now all layered up and the Mystery of the Missing Presser Foot" has been advanced if not completely resolved:  I contacted the Singer Featherweight Shop and asked if they could follow up on the package since the tracking information on the Postal Service website had not changed since 12/18/18!  They immediately agreed to send me another foot while they checked from their end on the whereabouts of the first package.  They also suggested I make an inquiry on my end (through my local Post Office) since that might further jumpstart the process of locating it.

Well that has been an interesting ride into what I call the "Vortex of Shipping Dysfunction"!  Calling my PO yielded no help:  according to the person I spoke to, the only information they had was what was posted in the system.  I then tried calling the USPS 800 number listed on their website:  the automated voice gave me the same outdated tracking information I had already seen online.  Yet when it offered to find "an available agent" to speak to me, it hung up on me --- twice!!

At this point I sent an email inquiry and requested a response by phone.  This morning I got an *email* confirmation of my request.  And guess what:  the telephone number listed for the "Supervisor" this message was supposedly from was the one to my local Post Office!  Another repsonse came in the afternoon (again by email) from this same "Supevisor" giving me the last scan point (in Spokane, WA, information I already saw on their website), said they apologized for the problem, that I should contact the shipper (d'uh, already done!) and if I wanted to pay an additional fee, they could put a tracer on the package to insure it gets directed to the "correct address"!

You just can't make this stuff up!  I'm guessing these two are working on this case for me!

Hope your day is "revealing" a lot of "good fortune" with progress on your 2019 projects!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcoming in Another New Year!

Now that's a Quilter's idea of a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all!  I hope your celebrations throughout the holiday season have brought you joy and peace and family memories that will last for years.  Just as important, I hope it brought you time to do this quilting thing we love so much!

So first off:  what's my Word of the Year?  I'm planning to work with more INTENTION this year.  This prompt comes from an audio meditation received from Tracy Matthews who runs the "Flourish and Thrive Academy" coaching sessions for jewelry entrepreneurs.  The advice is also good for us every day creatives in that getting our projects done means really drilling down on what you want to make a priority for the year.  After that it's about having a clear vision and plan for completing them.  Just wishin' and hopin and prayin' ain't enough to get them done!

So this year, some of the things I want to turn my intentions toward are:

1.  Returning to the Bucket List:  Last year I had a plan to work on the last four of my original Bucket List projects and that still remains.  I only got started on one of them and then got distracted by life issues.  With things a little clearer now, I'm going to make a better effort to move these forward with the ultimate goal being to complete at least two of them by the end of the year.

2.  Continuing to whittle down the UFOs:  There's alot of them but working on things from that previous category and the next one will also clean up more than a few projects that have been hanging around for a long while.   I'm reluctant to commit to a "one a month" goal -- my "baby steps" route will be to commit to getting at least four done for the year which for me would be siginificant progress.

3.  Quilt Alongs:  The String Alongs going on this year are going to help me vanquish a real old UFO and in the process empty out a big project tub that will go a long way in clearing up some space among the project stash.  I'm admitting right now to joining another new quilt along (so a new project) that will give me an opportunity to scratch a long held itch for a line of fabric I've long loved.

4. Quiltville Projects:  Ah, Bonnie Hunter deserves a catagory all her own!  I've got one (a UFO) that will hopefully be quilted before the end of January, two tops waiting for backs, two in the process of piecing (one of which will be worked on for the String Along) and one kitted up as a travel project.  At least two completely finished is the goal for this year.

5. Complete the Civil War Series:  Well, almost complete it!  I want to get sarted on the two remaining "Hussies" (HSY - Haven't Started Yet) projects that had already been planned for my series of reproduction quilts.  When I look at the above list, I'm thinking the least I can do is get them to tops and maybe one could get all the way to being quilted.  To finish the series I'd need to quilt my "Civil War Chronicles" BOM top but until I sort out my machine quilting situation, I don't expect that to happen this year.

6.  Seasonal Decorating Projects:  I have projects for the Spring, Halloween and Christmas (again?!?!?) seasons that I'd like to work on.  Unfortunately, the list of "To Do's" in each catagory are pretty long so I will really have to take a hard look when each season approaches to determine just what is possible to accomplish.  I'll push for getting one to completion for each.

As always, ambitious but a girl's gotta dream!  Just have to keep in mind that "Dreams Don't Work Unless You Do"!  A Happy Quilting Year to all and to all a Good Week!