Tuesday, January 31, 2023

January ends on a Quiltville note with a dash of cross stitch

As January drew to an end, I worked on pulling a bunch of Quiltville projects closer to the finish line.  "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll", Bonnie Hunter's 2010 mystery (and now in her book "String Fling"), was my project to work on during the mystery season while the new "Chilhowie" mystery debuted.  The last time I posted about this,  "Chilhowie" had been revealed and I was still trying to finish up the string blocks which I continued to work on this month until they were done.

Then the next step was to trim them up.

The last step for this part of this mystery was to split the string squares in half and sew them into quarter square blocks and triangle pairs.  

All trimmed up and de-papered!

The squares will be the alternate blocks in the layout, the pairs will be the side setting triangles and the single triangles will be used for the corner setting triangles.  

I've worked on these string squares and the other parts of this mystery in fits and starts since I started on this project at the end of 2018.  With this big step completed, I now have just about all the parts needed to make the blocks and pieced border for the quilt.

I did say "just about" because the only parts left to finish sewing up are those red and neutral HSTs in the front.  They are then sewn up into five piece strips that will border the block centers.  I've started on those and will continue to use them as leader/enders as I sew up the blocks or work on other projects.  

This project is my APQ UFO Challenge project for this month so while I had hoped to finish the top,  I am happy I was able to at least move it a big step forward.  I still have hope that this project could finally become a flimsie at some point this year!  

In other old mystery news:  back in November when the "Chilhowie" mystery began, I had said I hoped during the mystery season to get the backing made up for my "En Provence" mystery top that was finished back in 2018.  Getting it done this month was a case of "better late than never"!    

The finished backing with a space for the label....

...for this top.

It's another pieced mystery quilt backing and was easier to do than expected.  I had always thought I was going to be piecing together the leftover scraps from making the top to make up the back.  However, when I pulled out the stash in December, I found that I had forgotten I had purchased a big hunk of discounted fabric as a potential backing option.  So it was simpler to just piece a label strip and some scrappy squares together into a width-of-quilt strip.  Put that between two big swaths of backing fabric and I could call it done!

Now I have four Quiltville mysteries ready to be layered and quilted.  I do have some other projects that really need to get done so it may be a while before I can schedule a Quiltville-Quilting-Quilt-a-thon!

In other Quiltville project news: I am also still working on the last of the red & white Christmas (now Valentine's Day) quilts to be pieced:  Bonnie's "Cherry Crunch" design.  When I last reported on this one, I had sub-cut all the string strips that had also been foundation pieced during the "Chilhowie" mystery season.

I've spent the month adding triangles to the corners.

Now I have to make blocks with the units.

This will be another project that I can use as a leader/ender until I can get it to a top.

Lastly, a cross stitch update:  I was hoping to get this little cross stitch piece finished (but not fully finished!) before month's end and I just made it under the wire!

This is "The Year of the Rabbit" by The Frosted Pumpkin in honor of the Chinese New Year.  

Lessons learned on this one:  I had to rip a large section I had stitched because I was off by a thread in positioning.  After all, they call it "counted cross stitch" so counting properly is important!  In hindsight, I should have used a cream floss for the lower part of the rabbit's face and his paws when stitching on white Aida fabric rather than the white floss I had in my stash.  In the future, I'll remember that just like in quilting, good contrast matters!   This is only my third cross stitch finish so I am happy I was able to get more practice and complete it.

I've already picked out finishing fabrics from a stash I have.  That of course gave me a chance to review the quilt projects I had stashed them for in the first place, LOL!!.  I also have some ideas for how I want to finish this for display.  I hope not to sit on it too long though as I have a Valentine's themed WIP from last year that I want to finish and fully finish for February. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Moving It Forward Monday: Quiltville Cherry Crunch

This weekend, I did more strip set sewing but more importantly, also did some sub-cutting:

A Stripology Ruler workout!

I will admit making the string strip sets was getting a little tedious.  I wondered how many of the sub-cuts I needed from them I would get from what I had already made.  The good news is that after cutting them up, I had about three quarters of what I needed already!  

I also still had some strip sets that were just a bit short of the needed width.  By my calculations, if I added another narrow strip to each of them and trimmed them up, I thought I would be able to cut all the additional sub-cuts I needed.  If not, I estimated that I'd only need a few more beyond that to get to the total needed.  

A few weeks ago as I pulled fabrics for the Fat Quarter Disappearing Nine Patch quilt, I also took the time to take smaller pieces of red fabrics I came across and die cut them down into HSTs for the corners to be added to the sub-cuts.  

In the pattern, Bonnie shows how to get them attached three ways.  One way is to do them from squares using the "Flip and Sew" method.  In these instances, I prefer to pre-cut my corners and sew them on that way.  Bonnie also shows how to do that method and shows how to use two different specialty rulers to get that done.   I used my Easy Angle ruler which also does that job.

So today, I added strips to the sets that were a little short of width.  Once I sub-cut those, I still needed a little less than forty more.  So I moved on to fixing some of the string set end cuts I had that had one or two strings in a set that were short of the full sub-cut width.  Working from scraps, I dismantled some of the short-of-width strip sets and added in really short cuts still in the scrap strip stash (which I usually save to piece onto the corners of the "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" string squares).  Doing so I managed to get half of what I still needed.  Very much wanting to finish this off, I stitched up two final strip sets, sub-cut those and now I am completely done with this step and with paper foundations to spare!!

Whew!  While I am glad I got that done, it should be noted that of course this wasn't the deadline quilt I was supposed to be working on this weekend, LOL!!  Fortunately, it is a flexible deadline so if I have to move it forward a week, it will not be a major problem.  

As for the "Cotton Boll" string squares that I still have more to make,  I'll stick to the "15 minutes a day" plan.  I hope that I can get them done so I can still get that old mystery project to a top by month's end.  It is my APQ UFO Challenge project for this month so I'd like to see it done too! 

As always, a little Bonnie advice is a great way to top off the day:

Friday, January 13, 2023

Finished or Not Friday: A Jelly-ish Snowflake!

Another one of the "was supposed to be ready for Christmas" quilts bites the dust!

This is my version of the Fat Quarter Shop's "Jelly Snowflake" wall hanging.  I needed mine to be a smaller size to fit my display space so I cut my strips 2" wide (1-1/2" finished) instead of 2-1/2".  Hence the "jelly-ish" moniker! 

The top for this had been finished back in November but I worked on a lot of projects for the holiday and then didn't start quilting them until right before Christmas.  I thought I had found my groove doing free-motion quilting on Rhubye my vintage Singer 401 after using it to quilt part of a fat quarter quilt.  Which means it would be easy and simple to get this one done too, right?  

I had chosen the colors for my "Snowflake" quilt because I was inspired by one made by quilter and paper crafter Nicole Sphor.  Where she used pink, I used "Strawberry Reds".  So my plan was to follow her lead again and quilt this with all over swirl designs which also brings to mind swirling snow.  Just as long as it doesn't bring any real snow, LOL!! 

However, there were a few snafus before getting started.  First was batting:  I was all set to layer this and went to look for an appropriate batting for it in my stash.  Because the background fabric used is white, I didn't want to use any natural colored battings.  Since this is a wall hanging where the top and back were a little under 40" wide, I hoped I had a smaller batting like crib or craft size.  Also after the issues I had with the polyester batting used in the Fat Quarter quilt, I really wanted to stitch with a cotton batt this time.  Problem was I had nothing that fit those criteria!

All of the white cotton battings I had were twin size or larger and I really didn't want to cut into a batt that big.  Okay, I know I have a lot of white batting scraps. maybe I could make up a "Franken-batt"? 

Unfortunately all the scraps were "after quilting" edge cutoffs so most were about five inches wide or less.  I had a few large squares that would still need to be sewn together to create pieces the width of the backing and would then need to be attached to multiple other strips to fill out the length.  Sigh!  A little more work than I wanted to do at the time.  Ironically, I had shopped for batting for my "Christmas Ribbons" project in early December.  I was kicking myself that I didn't think about the batting issue right after I had finished this top. 

So I had to make a run to get batting.  After I got it layered, I set out to do the quilting.  Even though I've done swirls in the past, I gave myself a quick refresher by watching an Angela Walters video on the subject.   

And away we go!  Except, away it didn't go.  I would start stitching and my thread kept breaking.  What gives?  Is it the fact that I was using cotton batting rather than polyester?  I also felt a little "drag" on the quilt as I stitched.  That made me finally pull out my make shift "Supreme Slider"  which is actually a plastic sled sheet as recommended some time ago by Laura Coyne of "Sew Very Easy"

I installed it on the machine bed but found it didn't help much --- the friction of moving the quilt was a little better but I was still getting thread breaking every few inches of stitching.  I tried for two days and then gave up!  I switched machines, going back to Nova my Brother Nouvelle mid-arm.  Fortunately I had also thought to do the zigzag edging on the ribbon applique I added to the "Ribbons" quilt before needing to give up on the 401 since the Brother is straight stitch only.

Once the Brother was set into the table, the stitching began again and voila!  No problems what so ever.  I spent two days stitching this up, added the binding and now it's done.

You can see the quilting a little better in this shot.

Another scrappy pieced back.

I threw all the extra blocks and a label area that were made up in the alternative fabric choices into the back.  Also added in were the test block for the center square and piecing scraps made into two more filler bits.  I surrounded them with more of the background fabric from the front to finish it off.  Now with this done,  I finally get to see it hung near the tree!  

And now that I've fulfilled that vision, the tree can finally come down, LOL!  I still have two more Red & White holiday quilts to finish up but the good thing is, the next holiday is Valentine's day so the Red & White quilt decorating scheme can still stay up through to then.

I really liked this quilt design but even more I liked seeing all the color scheme variations that people made this up in.  Check some of these out if you think you might like to make this one up:

  • FQS Shop 2020 QAL finishing post with designers versions is here.
  • A blue & white version I saw at the Virginia Quilt museum back in October (scroll down to the bottom of this post).
  • In Pat Sloan's New Year's Eve video she shared a bunch more that quilters in her Facebook community made (starts at about 8:43 in the video).  
Now I have to break from finishing up the Red & White quilts to work on a deadline project.  After that, I'll get back to them soon because I'd like to get at least one more done before the end of the month.  Fingers crossed that gets done!

Linking up at Alycia's Finished or Not Friday

Friday, January 6, 2023

Quiltville Chilhowie Mystery Part 7: It's Reveal Day!!

 Well it looks like the Chilhowie Mystery period is now done!  When I went to Bonnie's site this morning, I was greeted with this:

Bonnie has a picture of the finished quilt featured in her header right now and you can pick up the last of the instructions here.  Remember, now that the mystery is over, you need to download all the parts before Bonnie removes them from her blog to compile them into a pattern for purchase in her shop.  

In this round, there are still sashing, sashing squares and flying geese units to cut and sew together and then to the blocks made previously.  The blocks made in Part 2 create the finished outer border and you make some four patches from scraps for the border corner squares to complete the finished top.  

I guess all this additional sewing to be done is good for me.  I had hoped to have finished up the string blocks for my own mystery season journey on two other Bonnie designs but that has not happened.  

These are the remaining sets of the foundations I had hoped to get sewn up this week for the "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" and "Cherry Crunch" projects.  As the week went by I found myself busy with other things so only got to sew up one set for each.  I didn't panic about that as I thought I might have at least another week of the mystery to work through but I guess I'm on my own now!   It's all good because I've made a list for the American Patchwork and Quilting magazine "UFO Challenge" to see what I can get finished (or more likely "moved forward") this year.  I had decided that whatever was the number called for this month, I was assigning it to "Cotton Boll" as I really want to get that top done by month's end.  

So I will continue stitching the string blocks for RRCB and the "Cherry Crunch" design until I get them finished.  

Well, at least I got a good bunch done during the mystery period!

In hindsight, I realize that one reason I didn't get them done was that when I counted out the foundations, the amount I needed to do daily to finish them up meant I needed to put in a considerable amount of time each day on them.  Confronted with other things I had to do, I would hedge and say, "okay, maybe I can do the string blocks later".  Then of course as I got toward each day's end I'd say, "maybe I can make up for that tomorrow".  

What I wish that I had told myself was that even if I couldn't get the full amount done for the day, I could have committed at least fifteen minutes to the string work and whatever I got done was still a step towards what needed to be done.

Had I done that, the pile of remaining foundations might have been half the size that  it is!  So for 2023, I have to remind myself (again!) that even just 15 minutes a day can help keep me on track to finishing a project!   

While the string blocks didn't get done, a few other things did.  I got the binding put on the little Mummy Mug Rug.

Still loving those die cut eyes!  I'm also pleased to say that I finished the quilting and got the binding on the Nine Fat Quarters Disappearing Nine Patch quilt (try to say THAT ten times fast, LOL!!).

I've named this one "The Last Dash" because this was literally the last of the Red & White Christmas quilts that I attempted to make.  And that wouldn't even have happened if I hadn't come across it on April's You Tube video.  

Also check out Darlene Michaud and Matt @ Scrappy Patch for more on this design.

Although I know this wasn't the best quilting I've ever done, I love this quilt!  This is definitely a case of a "man on a galloping horse" quilt:  as long as you don't examine it too closely, I think it it looks pretty darn good!  What helps even more is where I had planned to display it:

Since it hangs behind the bookcase, a lot of the more pesky details are obscured from getting that really close inspection.  I've got to admit unless you were judging it for a quilt show prize, it passes muster even on casual close inspection.  If thrown over your legs, it will also certainly keep your lap warm.  What was lucky too was that I had the perfect backing already in house. 

The light section in the middle is for writing in the label.

I had purchased this fabric as a discounted backing kit all the way back in 2016 for my "Across County Lines" RWB quilt.  It is wide back fabric so the good news is I only used a little of it for this so can use the rest to back the "Cherry Crunch" string quilt when that reaches the finishing phaseKeepsake Quilting had a year end fabric sale and I was able to pick up another wide back print for the "Lines" quilt.   

I've often heard people talk about certain patterns they make again and again.  Up to now I didn't have one but now this one will be mine!  I can already see making this for a few project needs I have going forward so am excited to get to make another one in the near future.

I even got a little bit of the New Year's cross stitch done:

We still have about four seasons of "The West Wing" marathon still on the DVR.  That will be a perfect time to sit and stitch and move this little project forward.  I'm feeling like this first week of the year has set me on a good course for what I hope to accomplish for the rest of the year!

Thursday, January 5, 2023

OMG! Another HUGE Industry Announcement!!


Is this another nail in the quilt industry coffin or the reality of the difficulties of the publishing industry  in the digital age?   You can read Martingale Publishing's good-bye letter here.  

1/23/23 Edited to Add:  For another perspective on why this may have happened, check out Shelly Cavanna's post at her Cora's Quilts blog here.

4/8/23 Edited to Add:    For Pat Sloan's experience with the closing, check out one of her You Tube videos here (starts at about 4:44)

Well, if there are books you always wanted, now is the time to get them!  I will post the link to it here but when I went to the site, I got a "Service Unavailable" notice so their servers may have crashed or are very busy with orders right now.

As of April 2023:  there is a notice on their website that it will close down by the end of the month.  They have also shut down payment processing so purchases can no longer be made through the website. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

7 Days of New Years --- Day 7: Hello 2023!!

Ahh, the end of my holiday quilt-a-thon.  As usual not as much done as hoped but still fun to try to sew every day and at the least move things forward towards a finish.  In light of everything I tried to do for the holidays, it was easy to come up with my new Word of the Year:  


Knowing that I am prone to taking on more than I can chew, I know that this year, I should try to set limits to what I want to accomplish.  Oh, I will still plan and dream of ALL the things I'd LIKE to do, just not commit to doing all of them in the immediate term, LOL!!

As usual this also brings me back to a long ago Word of the Year:  Focus.  That's what it really takes to get things done.  So as I start to map out 2023, those two words will be kept firmly top of mind as I plan out each month.  

As always, Bonnie Hunter's inspirational quilty quotes are good for setting the tone for the day:

That said, each new year promises better and brighter days and dreams and wishes fulfilled.  Let's hope 2023 keeps that promise for all of us!  Enjoy the start of a bright and shiny New Year!!