Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Some Thoughts On the Word of the Year.....

As we head into the second quarter of the year, I thought I'd take some time to reflect on my Word of the Year.  For me, the word this year is PLANNING.


For a few years now, I've been trying to understand how I get my projects from beginning to end and improve how efficiently I can do that.  The goal is to minimize frustration and procrastination.  Doing so allows me to actually get that "More Projects Than I Have Lifetime" list closer to being accomplished!  I've come to learn that project overload doesn't help that process although I can't say that I don't keep doing it anyway (my RSC 2021 project list is a prime example of that)!  However, not feeling like I am being buried by the overload means having a good understanding of what can be done in a given amount of time. 

I've learned that part of that is planning.  First you have to know what you want to do, then you have to truly understand what it takes to do it.  In the words of Jessica Able, it's understanding whether something is a Task or a Project.  

And this is posted in my quilt space to remind me of that!

I have been guilty in the past of thinking something is a Task (Oh, I just have to make 30 of  those blocks) but only when I start to try to tackle it, do I it realize it's actually a Project (Oh, to make 30 blocks, I have to cut 300 specific pieces and then sew sub-units, then sew sub-sections and then sew the sections together to make the blocks).  Got to say that was an eye opener!  Understanding that in advance reduces the number of curse words or minimizes the project depression (aka slogging) that happens later.  

It also means that if I don't make a deadline, I know why instead of feeling like I failed.  January was a case in point.  I was thrilled with what I did get done yet it was no where near the complete list of things I had wanted to accomplish for the month.  Yet pretty much everything that I fully evaluated and mapped out did get done.  When things didn't get done in the time expected, I could usually point to where I either did not break down the tasks far enough or that I did not evaluate just how many tasks needed to be completed each day in order to meet the desired goal.  As a result, the year started out on an up note instead of a downer.

While it may sound like a lot of trouble to go to for a hobby, I admit I truly like what I get to do, what comes out of it and want to be able to do even more.  So if I'm going to make myself happy, I gotta know what it takes to be happier!  As Bonnie Hunter has shared with us:   


Nothing backs up a good life lesson better than a quilt!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In a big nod to planning, starting tomorrow, I'm going to take up Frédérique's (of the Quilting Patchwork and Applique blogA to Z Quilt Challenge for the month of April.  After quilting for almost twenty years (January 2022 will be my anniversary!), I realize the breadth of my complete fascination with quilting really has run the gamut from A to Z!  With the topics already mapped out, look forward to daily (except for Sundays) posts on the world of quilting from my perspective.  Should be fun!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

BOMs Away: Next Up for Christmas Figs

I finally finished up the next two "Christmas Figs" blocks for this month:

I loved being able to add a new colorway into that first block which in the BOM is called, as you would imagine, "Flying Geese".  This block had the benefit of two new stash purchases made last month on Etsy.  I was able to snag a small bundle of some of the "Figs & Shirtings" low volume prints from Farm Road Quilts.  They have been a great source for me for Fig Tree fabrics throughout this project.  A bundle of grey prints came from Handmade is Heartmade (great shop name, huh?!?) which also contained prints from "Figs & Shirtings" as well as from the "All Hallows Eve" line.  

Yesterday I saw the "Virtual Spring Market" video of  Fig Tree designer Joanna Figueroa.  She has a new fall line in the same vein as "All Hallows Eve" coming out called "Pumpkins and Blossoms".  If you're a Fig Tree fan, there are some pretty new lines coming out.  I'm going to try my best to resist them!

Funny thing about that second block which the BOM calls "Rolling Stones":  I realized as I sewed it up that I had already been working with these same blocks.  Also on my design wall is the continuing work on laying out (again) my "Emeralds" project.

The same block scrappier and on point


So now that the BOM work is done for the month I'm going to back to trying to bring "Emeralds" to a top.  Wish me luck!

Want to know what other "Block Of the Month" projects have wound their way through March?  Then join  Lynette at What A Hoot Quilts and Kate at Katie Mae Quilts to see what projects have moved forward along their project path!  

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Happy National AND Worldwide Quilting Day!

 Once again, it's the third Saturday in March which means it's:

As always there is a lot going on for this special day in the quilting world!   Check out the links on the 
Quilt Alliance page to connect with the fun events they are sponsoring.   They are also encouraging quilters to display a quilt outdoors and asking you to share your picture at #nationalquiltingday2021.  

Over at Quilting Daily (the people who bring you all the patterns and magazines from Fons & Porter, McCall's Quilting, Quiltmaker and Quilting Arts), they will be hosting a live virtual Podcast Bee today.  There will be opportunities to ask the hosts questions and win prizes from their sponsors.

The Fat Quarter Shop is offering a free mini quilt pattern to make to celebrate the day.  If  you finish it and upload a picture of your quilt to their website by April 6, you may win a prize from them!  

My NQ day already started well.  I usually DVR the weekly episodes of the Fons and Porter Love of Quilting TV show which air here on Saturday mornings.  This morning I was thrilled to see not one, not two but THREE episodes in the queue for today!  

With those shows in addition to Pat Sloan's daily video and the Quilting Daily Podcast today, I'll have a lot of quilty content to play in the background while I work on projects.  I have three things on my "To Do" list for today:

1.  Sewing today's "Block-A-Day" blocks:  I was inspired by Pat Sloan's plan to work on her "Hope" blocks daily for the month of March.  I decided though to use that prompt to work on two projects that I wanted to do and which I plan to continue not just for March but the the rest of the year. 

I'm making "Wishing Rings" blocks ala Cathy over at the Sane, Crazy and Crumby blog and I am finally getting started on some of the blocks for my own scrappy "Trail Mix" quilt.  I've long loved this APQ design and have seen bloggers I follow like Cathy and Vireya among the others who have made this one up.  Last week I set up a bunch of block sets in advance which helped me to be ready to sew each day.  So I will also do that again today in prep for the upcoming week's sewing. 

2.  Pick the next two blocks and fabrics for my "Scrappy Christmas Figs" BOM:

I want to get them done over the next few days so I can post early to next week's BOMs Away link up. 
3. As I looked back through my posts, I realized that last year we were just starting quarantine around the time of last year's NQD!  So the last time I posted about NQD was in 2019 and ironically, at that time I was working on this:  

This is my "Emerald's" project which I hope will one day be my display quilt for March in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  Unfortunately, I didn't get it done that year or last year. 

I did however, have big plans to get it done this year but had not pulled all the parts back out until the day of the holiday!  Just like before, I am still moving pretty slowly on it.  I'm having to come to terms with the fact that I was attracted to the quilt pattern because of the colors they used.  What I hadn't really taken into account were the types of greens used there versus what I had pulled from my own scraps and stash.  

I loved the yellow greens and olives used in the majority of the patterned quilt but had pulled mostly blue-, sage and forest greens from my own stash.  Fortunately, the tans for the setting triangles that I have are darker than the fabric used in the pattern so I think it will work out in the end.  I'll be cutting a few of those to put up with the blocks to see if I can get myself more enthused to push this to a finish.  

How are you spending National Quilting Day today?  I hope it is filled with projects or linkups that deepen your love and appreciation of this wonderful craft.  It is another opportunity to share that with each other and those we love!  

Monday, March 15, 2021

Finally Up to Date on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2021

Warning:  Because I'm just catching up, this IS a long one.....

So glad to finally have caught up on participating in this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I've watched the fun for years and love all the wonderful projects that come out of it.  Angela's finished Rainbow Dear Jane top is Super Awesome!!

This year I had a special incentive to join in the fun.  I had visited my MIL at the end of last year and helped her organize all of her craft room supplies, including sorting all of her scrap bins by color.  I figured that to encourage her to actually dive into those bins, we could both do the RSC this year.  We were both busy with projects at the start of the year so it took us until last month to finalize what design we were going to use and to get started on our first blocks.  

For our joint RSC project, we're making Quilt In A Day's Milky Way design.  We're making the blocks larger than the pattern though -- we're doing the blocks 12 inches finished so the unfinished block units are all 4-1/2 inches.  That means the Triangle Squares can start from Charm Squares and the corner Four Patch blocks can be cut from 2-1/2 inch strips which are sizes my MIL favors.  This is what I have so far:

Right now, I'm only making block kits because I will need to make a decision about which gray fabric to use for the corner-square Four Patch blocks.  I have two fabrics that I think I have enough of to make all the four patches but right now I am not sure which I prefer.  I also have a bunch of gray fabrics and wonder if I'd prefer to make the four patches scrappy.  No rush to decide, I have all year!

ADD Quilter that I am, I am doing just a few 😉 more projects in addition to the joint one so it took me even longer to get them all set up!  I only had finished half of last month's yellow set at the start of this month so it has taken me this long to bring everything up to date.  

My other projects in this year's RSC queue are: 

Rainbow Log Cabin Hearts

This was actually the first project I had picked for my MIL and I to do for the joint project.  My MIL had said she was interested in doing Log Cabin blocks but then didn't want to do it as a heart motif.  

I'm using the Neverland Stitches block tutorial. When Lisa had originally posted the tutorial, it had a picture on it of Lynda's quilt made with this block (Lynda also used it to make tote bags!).  When I saw that approximately twelve blocks would make a nice sized lap quilt, I decided to keep this one for my personal RSC project list.  

       Bea Lee's Scrappy Hexagons

Another project I'm doing is the Scrappy Hexagon quilt designed by Bea Lee which appeared in McCall's Quilting magazine back in 2015.  

I follow Bea's blog because she does a lot of projects with Accuquilt dies.  This one not only appealed to me because of the scrappy nature but because it is a hexie project and uses dies that I have.  I had purchased the 4-1/4" finished hexie die to make a quilt called "Nature's Harmony" which was also in McCall's Quilting (and I finally found some fabrics I liked for that one last year).  So I loved the chance to put the die to work for another project. The white centers for them are also die cut

This one really makes you think about the colors you are using.  When sorting through the scraps, I realized that I had different pinks and different greens so made up more than one block of each of those.  I have scraps pulled to make another pink one where the pinks are in the "Salmon" range.  I think this one may be a two year RSC since the blocks take a while to piece up.  Good for leader/enders though!

Technicolor Rainbow Runner

Another "kitting" project that should also be quick to make up when the time comes to put it together!  It is the cover quilt from Benartex Fabrics free quarterly online magazine  "Modern By the Yard" Issue #4 .  Once I had decided to do RSC, any Rainbow quilt project was a draw, LOL!  I only make runners to fit my sideboard and so will only need twelve (there's that number again!) color squares to make the elongated snowball blocks for a runner that fits my sideboard.  I'm throwing in extras now so that when I'm ready to make this up, I can choose what works best with what.

Twisted Ribbons

Another one that's being "kitted up" as I go is this one from a 2003 book called "Fun With Nine Patch and Snowball Quilts".   The fact that it called for twelve columns of color meant it was a perfect pick for RSC!   For each month's color I am bagging up color squares for the nine patches and color HST triangles for the Snowball block corners.  I only need two pieced triangle squares using the month's color and a neutral and eight double color triangle squares so am piecing those as I go.   I did cut a bunch of neutral squares and HST triangles in advance but will use my Accuquilt Snowball block die  to cut those centers out of scrappy neutrals when I'm ready to lay out the quilt on the design wall.   I probably won't make this one up until I have all the colors collected so this will probably be a 2022 finish. 

Accuquilt Go! Rainbow Log Cabin

And last but not least is this pattern which comes with Accuquilt's Log Cabin die (although if you have an Accuquilt account, you can get the free pattern separately too).  I love this die, having used it for blocks and pieced borders.  Now RSC just gave me a good excuse to make up this pattern too (anything Rainbow)!   

The value of this die is that you can cut all the strips for a block in one swoop.  I had realized that this quilt pattern uses sixteen blocks but that each color gets used just once in a block.  I knew if I cut all the fabrics from each RSC monthly fabric color, I'd have more than enough for all the blocks.  Whatever is leftover can go into the Log Cabin Strips Storage Box for use in future quilts.

I waited until a few months of colors had come out so I could choose which fabrics I liked together best.  One pass through the cutter (and all three layers at once) and this die makes cutting all of those varying size 1-1/2 inch strips easy peasy!

I already have some neutral strips in the storage box but may run a few lengths of those fabrics though the die cutter with next month's color just to build up additional stash.  This is another one that probably won't actually get made up until 2022.    

And speaking of 2022:  Don't think I'm not already planning for that......

 So many projects, so little time!

Linking up with all the Rainbow Scrap Quilters this week at Angela's So Scrappy blog.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Slow Sunday Stitching: Label Time

 Task #1 for today is to sew on the label I made for my recent "Scrappy Trips" finish.

Inspired by the backing fabric (a fun flannel from Michael Miller fabrics), I came up with the idea to make a large Smiley face for the label -- yeah, I know a real stretch, LOL!  With the quilting and binding already done, that meant this would be a "hand stitched on" label.  In the past that usually was a danger zone for me but I'm no longer put off by impromptu hand work (particularly since last year's illness, quarantine and travel provided plenty of opportunities for that).

I didn't even have to think about a design:  Accuquilt solved that for me!  A while back, they had offered a limited edition "Emojis" die.  Although the die is no longer sold**, the companion embroidery software (as well as some free patterns) for it is still listed on their website which gave me inspiration pictures to work from.  

**Updated 5/31/22:  The die has been re-released and is now a part of Accuquilt's permanent die collection!

I chose a design I liked which fortunately used applique motifs I do have dies for!  I tested hearts from a few different dies for the "eyes" and settled on the one from the Stacy Mitchell's "Home" die.  The mouth was the arc from her "Ring of Oak" die.  For the tongue, I cut off one lobe of the 2" Heart from the "Hearts" die.  

I had a packet of solids scrap cuts I had purchased  at a quilt show that provided the red and black fabrics needed.  The yellow micro dot print for the "face" came from the leftovers from my "En Provence" quilt (and hopefully I will get around to using the rest of those to make a backing for that this year).  

After die cutting the face elements, I laid them out to determine how big of a "face" I needed.  I figured out that I needed a 6" finished circle so cut that with fusible and also cut a 6-1/2" circle using the "Cut Around Tool" from Philips Fiber Arts.  

The smaller circle served as a facing to make the larger outer circle opaque.  

Once fused, and the facial features stitched down, I turned under the edges of the larger circle around the smaller one so it could be sewn on.  

So after today, this quilt will REALLY be finished!  It's good to know that adding labels don't have to be a chore.  They can be another place to exercise your creativity and have some more fabric fun with your quilt project! 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Instagram Quilt Fest 2021 is On!

 Just found out that Amy Ellis' annual Spring Instagram Quilt Fest for 2021 (#igquiltfest2021) has been up and running since the beginning of the month!  Just think, another wonderful event to showcase quilts during National Quilting Month.  Easy access to a whole month of quilt joy to ogle daily!  

These virtual quilt festivals are a wonderful chance to see what quilters are making all over the world.  As Amy herself says, "It's all about quilters coming together in a positive space to chat about quilting, and show off our fantastic quilts!"   It's also an opportunity to find new quilters to follow and, of course, new quilt designs and ideas to add to your project repertoire!  

I had participated in her Bloggers Quilt Fest many times and now that I have made the leap to the Instagram, I look forward to participating in this version too.  If you are also interested in participating, check out this Instagram post to see what will be the daily prompts Amy will be using to organize the submissions for each day.