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!


Mary said...

wow, what a month of activity! I Love your MIL aqua/teal blocks and look forward to seeing it finished. It is so beautiful.

How do you like the Featherweight thread stand? I had it on my list but haven't been using the FW, due to other projects.

I look forward to your thoughts on April!

Vireya said...

Love your "dueling featherweights" shot! That must have been a fun time, sewing with your MIL.

You have done so much, March was obviously a very busy month.