Thursday, March 31, 2022

It's Time for the March (Madness) Recap!

Although there will be no talk of Basketball here, LOL!  Is it as chilly where you are as it is here in NY?!?  If so, then I'm guessing you are as glad as I am that March is on its way out!   Looking forward to the (hopefully warmer) April showers and May flowers!

Once again, I am here at the end of the month reviewing that what I had planned to do and what I did do proved to be two different things.  As noted in Part 1 of my Recap for February, the Rainbow Scrap Quilt Challenge color for that month was Teal/Aqua.  In order to provide scraps for that, I had started working on improv piecing a backing for my "On Ringo Lake" mystery top.  I had left a significant stash of fabric scraps and cuts in those colors with that project for that purpose.  

Top finished in 2018

The good news is that the backing is now also finished!

Back when the mystery started, the quilters from the Chandler AZ Quilt Guild had sent Bonnie Hunter pictures of the quilt labels they made for people who participated in their kick-off day for that mystery.  

I loved that idea and had made a note to do the same when I was ready for that step.  As I was piecing the back, I realized it was helpful to add those in now to help fill out the backing design.  The label information was printed on fabric and inserted into the backing layout. 

That meant I had to also provide the finishing date now so I have also committed to quilting and finishing this in May.  I hope I won't regret that!  

Although  the Teal/Aqua scraps were now freed up, I never did get around to doing any RSC work for the month after all.  The other downside to all of this is that I thought it would only take me a few days to choose which scraps and extra pieced units to use, make the different sections, figure out what to put where and get the backing all pieced up.  To my surprise, in the end it took ten days to get it all done!  While I did leader/ender some other sewing while working on this (See the "Daily Blocks" later in this post), there were other things I wanted to also get started but just didn't have the head space to juggle any additional projects until I was finally able to put this backing to bed.

Pleased with the final backing that I created and still in "pieced back mode", I wondered if I had any others I might want to work on as well.  Lucky for me, the APQ UFO number for March was #3 which on my list just happened to be another Quiltville mystery project: "Old Tobacco Road". 

 I had finished this top in February of last year and had planned to also piece its back so figured I might as well get that done and let that be what I did to move that UFO forward for this month.   

This one was a lot easier (and faster) to get done as I had a simple plan for it already in place.  I had pieces of two backing fabrics already cut for it but the top turned out to be just a little bit wider than originally planned.  Since I just needed enough extra to add to the width to allow for "quilting take-up", I decided to insert some pieced strips comprised of the leftover Flying Geese blocks and fabric "Bricks" not used in the front of the quilt.  In the right side strip I added a light "Double Brick" that will serve as the label area when the quilting is done.  Easy peasy and this one did only take two days to complete!

As noted in the "Plans for March" in Part 2 of last month's recap, I had also decided to go back to work on last year's "Daily Blocks" project.  In that I was influenced once again to join in on Pat Sloan's "Daily Blocks" project for this year.  The good news is that they are for the most part now done!

All of the 3-1/2" (unfinished) blocks for the "Wishing Rings" year long project are now completed.  I had started these last March and last left off with only five blocks pieced for the month of November.  With four months of blocks still to do, I decided that it was doable to work on four blocks a day (!) to finish up all the blocks for the final months.  Doable, yes --- as easy as I thought, no!  The hardest part was processing the scraps for the block sets which took a lot more time than I remembered.  I have to give my MIL a big shout out because I don't know that I would have been able to get a year's worth of blocks done at all without all the additional scraps she had passed my way.   

There was also this year's "String Bean" blocks that I had decided to make:

As noted in the previous recap, I had decided to make my blocks smaller than Pat's in order to make use of a big stash of pre-existing strips already die cut with my Accuquilt Log Cabin die.  However this also meant I needed to make two blocks a day for this project in order to have enough blocks for a reasonable sized lap quilt when the month was done.  The picture above is where I am with those as of yesterday, the last day Pat was piecing blocks.  

I had decided on piecing my blocks together into "Seven-Block Sections" to optimize how the finished size of my blocks fit together.  As you can see, I still need five more blocks to fill one more section to complete the layout.  I've already made three of those today and will do the last two tomorrow.  Even then the top will be a little narrow so I now plan to add sashing and cornerstones between the sections and add additional borders to bring it all up to size.  That however will be work for another month! 

The other thing that helped me get all of this up to date was that my DH had a vacation scheduled for last week so we headed down to spend it with my MIL in North Carolina.  For DH it's a vacation, for me a mini quilt retreat!  My MIL had purchased a Featherweight last year although it turns out it was missing the drip pan and bottom screw which I helped her order from The Featherweight Shop while there.  We also almost ordered the same thread stand as I have but looking around her space for something else, I discovered she already had one!  Her electronic machine is in the shop right now so at one point we were set up to sew with "dueling Featherweights"!

My MIL was also doing the "String Bean" challenge.  This is her first stab at working really scrappy although she limited it to her Teal/Aqua batiks.  At first she had just picked different fabrics for each position in the block but then was making the blocks all exactly the same.  I helped her "scrappy it up" more, encouraging her to vary where the fabrics were in each block.  We managed to get her blocks done (hers are made the same size as Pat did them).

After we got them to this point, she cut narrow sashing strips in a light batik and cornerstones from the block fabrics to put between the blocks.  However after seeing how much additional work that was going to be, she decided instead to just sew the blocks together and add light borders around the outside.  She has also prepared scrappy binding by piecing together the leftover strips.

Oh and she thought I couldn't make use of even the littlest bits?  Challenge accepted!

Can you say "Crumb-Pieced Mug Rug"?!?!  I brought it home with me to finish the backing for it.  I'm going to use the no-longer-needed cornerstones and turn the cutoffs from the diagonal binding-joins into HSTs to also help fill it out.  When finished, I can send it back to her as a memento of our working together!  

Although I brought a lot of projects with me, other than working to catch up on the two "Daily Blocks" projects and helping her with her "String Beans" blocks and Featherweight upgrades, the only other thing I was able to work on was getting started on the quilt for my son:

In last month's recap, I had talked about how my son asked me to make him a quilt.  He gave me some colors he wanted but I had also long been stashing "Harry Potter" fabrics with the intention of making him a quilt.  He was more than open to getting both!  My MIL had purchased an Accuquilt 6-1/2" strip die during one of their sales shortly before we arrived.  The good news was that the design I had come up with for the quilt needed a bunch of 6-1/2" squares cut as well as 2-1/2" strips for an inner border and she also has the die for that.  So this trip was a perfect opportunity to get all that done.     

Additionally, in the design, I plan to add (freezer) paper-pieced blocks for an Owl, a Wizard and a Dragon using patterns from the book "Spellbinding Quilts" by Maaike Bakker.  I had two fabric sets for the latter that I couldn't decide between so I started piecing those first to help make that choice.  Once again, doable but way more fiddly than expected!  The bottom one wins and the other may wind up as a pillow since I already have "Potter" fleece for the quilt back so don't want to use the remaining block to make a label.  

A big help to me is that when I told my MIL about the other quilt my son also wanted she was excited to volunteer to take on the making of that one!  She is looking forward to deciding what design to use and to go fabric shopping for it.

So that's all I got done for March.  Needless to say there was a bunch of other things I was supposed to get to but didn't so I'll review all of that in the next post outlining my plans for April!

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

February Recap: Part 2 and Plans For March

In my last post I talked about the projects I worked on in February.  In this one I'll recap the rest of the things that were also developing throughout that month and are now going to "bloom" in March!  Let's hope that's also a harbinger for the Spring weather and season too!

Raffle Quilts for the Garden

As a quilter, I am always looking to try a new-to-me "quilty thing".  A big thing in the quilt universe are "raffle quilts" .  I am a member of a community garden and I was asked a few years ago if I might make one for the garden's opening day event.  Actually my garden President mistook a comment I made about "thinking about it" as me "volunteering" to actually do it!   Fortunately I was able to get out of the commitment that time.  For me, it seemed like a HUGE task with a firm deadline!  Not to mention that I didn't know what I could make that would have wide appeal.  After displaying my quilts at our garden's Art Show last fall and seeing the response to them, I revisited the idea of making a raffle quilt.  However, the "what to make?" still stumped me.  

Then at the end of January, I happened on a Jenny Doan Missouri Star Quilt Company You Tube tutorial:

The pattern she was demoing was their "Baskets and Butterflies" quilt showcasing Jason Yenter's new  "Elysian" fabric line for In the Beginning Fabrics.  Oh that is a beauty and a perfect garden theme!  I have made basket quilts in the past and have another one in progress but Jenny's baskets are larger and the construction very simple.  Hmmm, could this be doable?  

When I checked on the pattern and fabric in early February, MSQ had the pattern and the layer cake used to the make the baskets but not the butterfly border fabric.  As I went searching for it elsewhere, I discovered something interesting: at Keepsake Quilting they had the border print (although strangely, not the layer cake) but also had another Jason Yenter floral border print in white on clearance.  At that point, a plan was hatched!  

I knew that many people in my garden would love the bold and bright colors of the original quilt but there might be people who would also like a lighter colored quilt.  What if I used my own batik stash to make baskets to go with the clearance border print and made both from the same pattern for the raffle?  I told the garden President of my idea but also said it wouldn't be a definite commitment (aka something she could advertise) until I could get all the supplies in and make a few test blocks to make sure I could do this by our opening near the end of April.

Well it took a while (darn the supply chain!) but as of Sunday, everything has finally arrived in house:

Ironically, by the time I finally put in the order with Keepsake, they no longer carried the "Elysian" border print and I had to order that from someplace else (and thanks to Bear Creek Quilting for that!).  Also when I was ordering some batting during a "Friday Flash Sale" from for another project, they had a pretty garden themed panel on sale at half price.  It's the "Be Kind" fabric on the lower right in the picture above.  I figured that would be great for helping to fill out the backing although I also think it could wind up on the front.  I picked up a coordinating wide back from Keepsake for the rest of the back and that still has to come in.  For the black quilt, Jenny used the multi-squares print from the "Elysian" line for her backing but to save some money, I decided to just use the same black Kona used for the background.  

I've already cut the block sets from my batiks for the light quilt.  Now that the layer cake is in, I'm hoping to start on the test blocks over the next few days so I can make an estimate of what it will take to produce these and make a final determination of whether I can meet the deadline.    

Quilts for My "Kid"

The first and last time I made quilts for my two sons was all the way back in 2008.  

Kaye Woods "Six Hour Quilt" made with novelty fabrics and a serger.

I did start a string pieced project for some new ones the next year that started out with them helping to piece the blocks.  Those have been UFOs for a good while!  As my sons hit their twenties, I have asked them from time to time if they were interested in new quilts and while they said yes, I got no responses when I asked them to think about what they might like.  My youngest son often used my "Floribunda" quilt when picnicking with his girlfriend and took it with him when he moved out last year.

So you could knock me over with a feather when my oldest son asked me last month "for a favor".  He had come up with some colors he liked and wondered if I could make them into a quilt for him!  My son is also a big fan of the "Harry Potter" book and movie series and over the years when I came across Potter-themed fabrics on sale,  I often picked them up with the idea of making him a themed quilt at some point.  So when he came to me, I asked if he'd also be interested in that too.  So we struck a deal:  I told him I would make up the "Potter" quilt in the near term and once I could figure out fabric and a design for his colors, I would make that for him too!    

Last month, I was able to get some some additional coordinates and some "Potter" themed fleece for the back to round everything out.  I have already mapped out a simple design for the fabrics and hope to add a few paper-pieced designs from the book "Spellbinding Quilts" to the big central panel of the quilt.  My hope is to get this one started either this month or in April.  

My son's quilt colors.

I'll give the Quilt Muses a month or two to strike me with inspiration for the colors he gave me.  If I haven't found anything that sparks my interest by then, I will talk with him again about what he is looking for in the finished quilt to see if we can collaborate on a design idea.   

Back To "Daily Blocks"

Last month Pat Sloan announced she's doing another "Block-A-Day" sew along for March again this year.  When she made her "Hope" blocks last year, I was encouraged to also embark on a BAD project (seriously, no pun intended!!).  At the time, I had been eyeing Cathy's "Wishing Rings" projects and since the blocks looked similar to Pat's, I decided to do it too.  Since Cathy's blocks were way smaller than Pat's, I decided to make it a year long project.  Eventually, I added two more BADs to the daily list:  blocks to finally make a "Trail Mix" quilt (which I started along with the "Wishing Rings") and the Log Cabin blocks for the Country Threads quilt "Hometown USA" (which I started in April).  

I shocked myself in that I managed to complete the Log Cabin blocks in a month and subsequently completed the top and layered the quilt in May (and you can see the finished quilt here).   However after that I realized that trying to do both "Wishing Rings" and "Trail Mix" was proving to be too much (since I was also piecing baskets for another Cathy-inspired project) so I dropped "Trail Mix" in favor of focusing on the "Rings".   I managed to keep up on those in fits and starts right up until November when I stopped processing scraps for the blocks so I could focus on finishing projects for the end of the year.

Pat's announcement, reminded me that I only need to make four more months of "Rings" blocks to finish out that project.  So I am going to try to work on those while I also start this year's blocks.  Pat has updated her "String Bean" block pattern that she used back in 2015 for a similar quilt along.  Her block starts with a  2" x 8" finished center and 2" finished surrounding strips.  Since I love my Log Cabin die and have a lot of strips already cut, I decided I wanted to convert my blocks to utilize those as much as possible.  So I did two test blocks:

The one on the left stars with a 2-1/2 x 8-1/2" rectangle and adds 1-1/2" strips around it. The smaller block on the right starts with a 2-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch rectangle and does the same.  Reviewing Pat's quilt layouts, I've decided to go with the smaller block as it looks more balanced and I also have a die to cut the centers.  However because my blocks are smaller than hers, I'll need to make two a day for the month to get a lap sized quilt.  The plan is to work on these and finish the "Wishing Rings" blocks so that I can restart "Trail Mix" as Daily Blocks in April!

Dredging Up Another WIP

Last month I had planned to also re-start work on my "Emeralds" quilt project in the hopes of being able to have it ready early to put out at the start of the month for St. Patrick's Day.  

Well that didn't happen!  I still want to try to work on it and see if I can bring it to a finish or at least a top, if not by the holiday then at least by the end of this month.  If not, well there's always next year!  

So that's all that was occupying my mind last month!  Let's hope I can focus more on the actual sewing and quilting this month!