Saturday, April 30, 2022

April Recap and As Usual A Lot of Changes In Plans.....

Can you believe that April is now over?!?  This year is going by just too fast.  For a month in which I thought I had clear plans, things just tumbled and jumbled until where I came out in the end was not where I planned to be in the beginning!  

The Raffle Quilts Were A Bust

So I knew it was a long shot when the month started but I had hoped that it might still be possible to get the raffle quilts for my community garden's opening day made up.  Nope!  I continued to have an issue with the basket blocks coming up a wee bit short of the patterned size.  And of course since I was now rushing to try to get this done, I also did things like this:

So before too long, an Executive Decision was made to "Abort Mission!"  Since I had not promised the quilts, there was no loss in not having them ready.  Additionally, there is a whole garden season ahead of us and we hold at least one other big event each year.  If I can eventually get them made up, I could still offer them for raffle at a later date.  At the very least, I am now well ahead of the game for next year, Lol!

Added to that, the wide-back fabric I had pre-ordered to fill out around the panel I had purchased for the back of the light version of the quilt still has not come in!  Had I gotten to that point, that would have been yet another complication to my plans anyway.  

On a plus note, while shopping for border fabric for the leader/ender project I worked on while trying to make up the basket blocks (more on that later), I found a lovely panel depicting realistic images of butterflies to add into the back of the black version of the quilt:

The original plan was to make the black butterfly version with just a solid black backing and the light version was to have the "Be Kind" panel and the "still missing in action" wide-back print.  Now that both quilts will have pretty panels in their backs, I think I will buy more of the Kona white to complete the light backing so they are truly "fraternal twin quilts".  

Additionally, I decided to purchase two of the butterfly panels so I can use the second one to make a quilt for myself with the leftover pieces that Jenny Doan has us put aside when cutting the fabrics for the basket blocks.  Score!      

So despite the disappointment in not getting that project done, I did still get to do something special for the Opening Day ceremony.  Back in March our Garden's President had asked if I could make a sash for the Grand Marshal for this year's event.  I wasn't thrilled with the idea since I had by that time already come up with the raffle quilt plan and had never made a sash before.  However, she sent me a link to a site that sold sashes and it didn't look like all that hard a task.  I rolled around ideas in my mind for a good while and what eventually resulted was this:

Finally a chance to use some of the "food fabrics" I have been collecting for years and the little embroidery machine I purchased a while back!  I used fabrics from my stash that each represented things we grow in our garden.  The letters were die cut using black Kona from my solids stash (separate from what I purchased for the raffle quilts) and the Accuquilt "Classic Alphabet" die.  

I decided to use some burlap that I had on hand as the sash base and chose a tan print from my "backgrounds" stash to use as the lining fabric.  I used pieces of the lining print "wrong side up" under the burlap and positioned where the embroidery was to be placed in order to minimize the additional stabilizer I would add showing through the burlap.  I then applied iron-on tear-away stabilizer to the back (right side) of the lining pieces to further stabilize the embroidery as it was stitched.  After the embroidery was done, I used more of the tan print (right side up this time!) to line the whole sash, attaching it using the "pillow turn" method and edge stitching around it to finish it off.  

The two ends of the sash were secured together with a safety pin to make it easy to adjust the fit.  I decorated the pin with a fabric covered button with a shank placed on it.  We don't grow blueberries but that was the only print in my stash where the images centered perfectly on the button!   Our local councilman was the Grand Marshal and the sash was gifted to him at the end of the event.  And yes, I did put a label on it too!

Details about our Opening Day event can be seen on page 3 of our community paper which can be viewed on the website.

Leader/Ender Work

While trying to sew up the basket blocks, I decided to also begin sewing together the layout for the "String Bean" blocks I had finished up at the end of March.  So those went from this: this.

The top still wasn't quite wide enough for my taste so as noted earlier, I went looking around for something to add on as borders.  I was pretty sure that with the red sashing squares I also needed something red for the borders and found it.

The center is longer than it is wide so visually I found that it worked better to do the side borders wider than the top and bottom borders.  That complicated things slightly as I had already pieced together the scrappy corner squares as a nine patch with a red center.  I had to re-do them into a 4x3 patch rectangle so moved the red squares to the outer corners so it all remained balanced.  

While debating about the borders and still in "pieced back" mode from March, I wondered if I might do something along those lines again for this project.  Then I remembered this easy quilt design by Mary Johnson (who blogs at Making Scrap Quilts From Stash) which I had picked up from her free pattern site Mary Quilts years ago:  

So I made it a point to purchase extra of the border fabric to use as the "focus" print (the wider strips) and more of the solid black from my solids stash for the accents.  Still needing something else for the "tone on tone" strips in the design, some of the prints I had purchased for my "Scrappy Figs" project came to mind.  When the border fabric came I realized that I really liked one of the "Figs & Shirting" prints in that position.  I found a shop that still had some so now that everything is in house, first thing for May is to get this backing made up!

More Harry Potter Work

The other project plan for April was to finally get to the "Realigned" quilt stitching practice.  However once I did not start on it in the first few days of April, I lost the momentum to do it and so it too now moves on to May.  I decided that what I could steal some moments to work on were the other two paper-pieced blocks needed for my son's Harry Potter quilt.

I made the dragon in March while we visited my MIL.

These three were the only blocks I had originally planned to piece into the center using blocks from Maaike Bakker's book.  Of course now, I'm thinking that maybe a few more might make it all a little more balanced (there's that word again!).  This time though, I wanted blocks a little more specific to the HP lore.  Well, where do you go when you want to find PP patterns that are story specific?  None other than Fandom In Stitches of course! 

After going through all the offers for HP lore blocks I settled on blocks for the "Sorting Hat" and "Hogwarts  Castle".  There is a castle block in the Bakker book but it is pieced in kind of a fan shape and I wanted one that was smaller and squared.  So I guess this project will also continue on into May.  

Now that the garden is open for the season, DH and I have already volunteered for shifts (we did our first on the day after the Opening Day).  Our anniversary was also in April and he was on vacation this past week so more diversions from quilting happened.  We have been doing a little "in person" RV and tow vehicle research.  I don't think it will happen this year but with any luck, I may be an "On the Road Quilter" by next year, finger crossed!  

I hope your April stayed more on track than mine did and we both have a very productive May!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

"Infinite Variety" Fans, Your Time Has Come!

Great news for all of you that loved the "Infinite Variety" exhibit:  The International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska acquired Joanna Rose's quilt collection last year and it is now on exhibit again!

They will also be holding a "Textile Talk" today at 2 PM Eastern.  You can register for it although if you miss it, these are usually posted to You Tube within a day or two.

Will any of you be lucky enough to be in Nebraska in the coming months to attend?  If you do, please post about your visit and share it with the rest of us!!

Update 4/30/22:  

Just saw on Lori DeJarnett's Humble Quilts blog that the IQSC has put up a fabulous virtual display of the exhibit!  So if you (like me) can't get to Lincoln, Nebraska you can take it all in at the museum website.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

March Carryover/Plans for April

In my last post I noted that there were projects that were supposed to get started in March that didn't happen.  The most important of those was the raffle quilt project I wanted to do for my community garden.  While I did not commit to providing them unless I could have the tops ready by end of March/early April, I still very much want to give it the "old college try"!  

The Missouri Star "Butterflies and Baskets" Quilt

Planned:  one "Dark" and one "Light" version

So with the two "Daily Blocks" projects now out of the way (I made the last three "String Beans" blocks yesterday),  I'm going to try to focus on the getting the raffle quilt tops done over the next week.  If I can, that wouldn't leave me too far off from where I had hoped to be at this point.  

I spent yesterday getting all the cutting done for the basket blocks.  The baskets for the quilt with the black background are being made from a layer cake stack so I needed to sub-cut the squares chosen from the pre-cut set into 6-1/2" and 3-1/2" squares to make those.  The baskets for the quilt with the white background are being made from my batik stash.  When I chose those prints, I had made the initial cuts needed for the blocks so now had to sub-cut the larger squares into two triangles.   Additionally, I needed to cut all the background pieces for the blocks from the Kona cotton purchased for that.  Oh, and I needed to print templates on the paper backing of the fusible web I'm using for the applique basket handles. 

Once I got all that done, I tested out the zigzag stitch setting for the handle applique (the split moon piece in the center) and tried making two test blocks.  When I saw the original tutorial for this quilt design, it seemed really easy compared to basket blocks I've made in the past.  The sewing is simple but mine were coming out small (note the extended triangles on the sides at the mid point in the blocks above).  They need to be squared up to 8-1/2" and mine were coming up at best to about 8-1/4" even though my seams are at 1/4".  Maybe I need to make them a scant quarter inch?  

When I reviewed the tutorial again, I saw that there was one key tip that I had forgotten:  when Jenny lined up the sides to add to the center basket triangle, she lined them up from the top whereas I had been lining them up from the bottom which is the way it looked like it was done in the pattern.  When I re-did them the tutorial way, those sides are looking a little better and only one side is still coming up about 1/8" short.  

Progress but I'll have to see how it goes moving forward.  If I'm still going to make this happen, I'll need to be able to have tops by the end of next week.  At least as of now I believe I can do this if I focus, focus, focus on this project!!  

And actually maybe the "String Bean Daily Blocks" can actually be of help again this month after all:  I think I can use the piecing together of the block sections as leader enders for the basket piecing.  

Block-A-Day String Bean Log Cabin Variation blocks

I will also take the time to look these over and see if I want to do a little rearranging.  It makes me happy to think I can still get two things done at once!  

The other big thing I was supposed to start last month was the 28 Day Quilting Challenge on Craftsy using the "Realigned" pattern.  I had the batting I needed but what I hadn't been able to make time to do was cut it into squares to make the Quilt-As-You-Go block sandwiches in order to do the practices during March.   So yesterday, I also got that done too. 

So hopefully now I can piece together those blocks each day and try out one of the quilting practices.  I really want to feel comfortable with quilting if I am able to get to that point for the raffle quilts.  Also considering that I have a couple of other quilts I want to quilt up over the next two months, getting this practice in will also be a big help for that.     

And so it goes for the start of April.......