Thursday, April 30, 2020

Last Minute Check-In For April!

Whew, April has been a busy month!  I figured I'd better post about it before I miss it!  As usual, a LONG POST WARNING is in effect!

I had so looked forward to staying in for the quarantine because I thought it would be a great time to catch up on existing projects.  Instead there's been a flood of new projects -- well, old project "desires" that were fueled to move to the forefront.  This was courtesy of some inspiring projects that have been posted for the many "Quarantine Sew Alongs" that are out right now.

Prior to quarantine, I had been trying to finish up an old Bonnie Hunter mystery  until along came "Elvira" in late March:

Gudrun Erla's (GE Designs) quilt along was the perfect prompt for me to finally make that follow-up Spring quilt I've long wanted (and the details of that fun romp is here).

FYI:  Gudrun is doing another Quilt Along this weekend called "Hope".  This time, there is a nominal charge for the pattern but all the proceeds of the sales are going to three local charities in her area that are helping people during the pandemic.  Check out the link above or her recent "Tipsy Tuesday" video for more details.

 Just as Gudrun was announcing hers, I also learned about this:

Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts was also doing a Sew Along Mystery design that is now officially named "California" (she also has kits for it now too).  For me it was yet another prompt to finally use another stash of fabrics I've been holding:  I had put away fabrics a long while back with plans to make a "Pinks, Browns and Blues" quilt.  I've always envisioned it to have a "Shabby Chic" vibe and Edyta's quilt designs always invoke that for me.  It was a quarantine match made in heaven!  Details about how that went is in my next post.  Right now it is only finished blocks on the design wall, not yet a top.  I will also need to work on an outer border.

Another good thing is that while working on this, I also got a little leader/ender work done for Bonnie Hunter's "Roll, Roll Cotton Boll" which I hadn't worked on since February of last year!

I needed a few more pink fabrics for the Sitar mystery and knew I had some stash still to process for Part 2 of the Quiltville mystery.  So I made up the triangle sets I needed to piece together and then added what was left to the Sitar stash.  Then there was also this:

My husband works for UPS which happens to be one of the "essential businesses" that has stayed open during the pandemic.  He was on vacation when the orders from NY's Governor Cuomo came down for everyone to stay home so we had at least that first week to be able to go together to stock up on things and start planning for the adjustments to "the new normal".

When he went back to work the next week, the company fortunately had masks and gloves for everyone and he was also able to buy an additional set of masks from a co-worker who had picked some up from a medical supply company and my husband brought those home for our family to use.  My husband works in the tractor trailer division and although he has to occasionally drive loads to other centers, he primarily works in the yard.  He and his co-workers shift and organize the trailers that come through, putting them into the loading bays to be unloaded or loaded and pulling them back out to be set up to go back out on the road.

If you wonder what that's like, check out this video: 

and this one: 

As you can imagine, a freight yard is not a very clean place and it didn't take long for the mask given to him to get pretty dirty and the dirt that gets on them isn't easy to remove.  We didn't want to have to replace the masks so frequently or destroy the filtering capacity of them with intense cleaning methods.  Having already seen many of the mask tutorials on the web, I took one of his old work shirts and made him a mask to wear over the company issued ones to help them stay cleaner and last longer.  I used the tutorial and templates from Craft Passion and made the version that would allow us to add replaceable filters to the mask if at some point he can't get replacement ones from his job (and a supply of that fabric is on its way).

Well of course no sooner did he wear it to work, I got a request to make more.  So I joined the cottage industry ranks:

Of course getting into the mask making game that late meant I had a terrible time sourcing supplies.  His job provided plenty of shirts for cutting up and I had a good stock of thread but elastic?  Forgeddaboutit!!   I only had a little bit of it in the house when I made my husband's mask.  Also when I made his mask and some regular ones for me for going to the community garden and general shopping,  I found I needed to be able to adjust the length of the elastic for personal fit.  Not something I wanted to have to do for a bulk order!

Fortunately I had also seen Julie Sefton's post on her Quilt Diva Julie blog about how she did "around the head ties" for her husband's mask that were secured by a spring toggle.  Craft Passion had also showed that way of securing the mask in her pattern although hers was tied.  I sent one into work with my husband using the only comparable supplies I had on hand:  a long black sneaker-lace and the one toggle I found in my sewing supplies.  That mask was quickly snapped up by a co-worker so I decided to see if I could source toggles and paracord in bulk to make them all that way going forward.  That too took a while --- again, by that time, black paracord and black toggles were also hard to find!  Fortunately, I found a vendor on Etsy (thanks Debbie!) with the only color she had left which luckily for me happened to be Coffee Bean (brown)!  Perfect for UPS!!  Then I was also able to source a large spool of  brown paracord.

Another match made in heaven!  So this is what I've been sending in.

Since each shirt only provides one logo, I also make plain shield style masks and folded masks to use up the rest of the "fabric".  The folded design I've been using is from this YouTube video which I liked because of the side casings and that I could also make it so that replaceable filters could be inserted.  To help with some of the prep,  I had to show my husband how to "de-bone" the shirts, Bonnie Hunter style.  Another great quarantine activity while watching TV!

The downside for me is that once I had finished "Elvira", I had been geared up to quickly work on the Edyta Sitar mystery, get it done and return to my other projects.  However, the accumulated stash I used for the mystery didn't as easily integrate into the design as I had expected.  So that meant I went back and forth on most days trying to establish a balance between mask production and quilt design and layout work.  All of that had to happen between grocery runs and a few garden days.  And thank goodness for the latter:

Reminds you that even in the midst of this chaos, Mother Nature commences Spring right on schedule!  Fortunately for me, the winter gardening I did meant my little garden bed was already established and I've been able to harvest lettuce greens and a little celery and chives already.  The tall things around the perimeter are garlic which won't be ready for harvest until June.

The only casualty in all of this is that the only BOM work I was able to do this month was for the Joann Countryside Cottage BOM (as more leader/enders) because the pieces are all pre-cut.  I've even already done the May block!

Still, I'm going to have A LOT of catching up to do in May on the other BOMs I'm working on!  So I am hoping to finish the mask order in the next two weeks and in between will try to put the top together for Edyta's mystery.

I wish I could say that right after that I will get back to my other regular project work -- and I will, eventually -- but I admit I also have two other "quarantine quilting" projects that I'd like to get started.  Who knew that a pandemic would generate so much FOMO and Squirrel moments?!?  Let's all move safely on to May!

Friday, April 10, 2020

We will get through this....

Thanks to the good friend who forwarded this to me!

Edited to Add:  When I also posted this to Instagram, I got a ping that the poem was actually written this year.  So while I removed it from there, I'm leaving it here.  As far as I'm concerned, the sentiment  attached to that picture is still pertinent and resonates for me!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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

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

Christmas (technically "Scrappy") Figs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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