Monday, February 27, 2017

In the Mail Monday

Happiness is created with a new rotary blade! Sure, it may not be that exciting, but it was absolutely necessary. Fiskars rotary blades from
The daffodils in the woods near my workplace are racing towards spring. By Sunday one in my front garden had bloomed.
One of my afternoon walks I came across this shiny green amphibian. The turtle I saw was too quick for me and swam into hiding in a drain pipe.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stringing Along: Quilting

Last week I posted about this string quilt. I finished the assembly and added a border. Why did I add a border? I think a border, while not always necessary for the design, is important for stabilizing the center of the quilt. All of these string blocks and the on-point setting made it pretty obvious to me that I would need to stabilize the quilt before loading onto the frame.
My favorite place to pick up wide backing fabric is Spring Water Designs. Every time I to they have something that just works with my quilt top. This backing was no exception. I embroidered the label directly onto the backing fabric before loading onto the quilting frame.
Not surprisingly, I found that this quilt was a little oversized but still fit onto my frame. I did buy batting for this project because I didn't want to have to piece batting. I generally buy batting by the roll so my limit (without piecing batting) is 90". This quilt is almost exactly 90" wide so that wasn't going to work.
I went nuts with the quilting. I quilted feathers, I echoed the feathers. I quilted swirls and echoed those. This quilt is full of several different quilting motifs and I love the overall effect.
I love playing with different designs. This is the back of the quilt so you can really see the quilting detail. I really need to make a quilt with some negative space and do some free-form quilting. quilting it over busy piecing doesn't give it a chance to shine.
Here it is all quilted. I still need to add the binding and get some good photographs of this one.

For those three people who follow my blog, I apologize for being late with the third post the week. I always mean to blog regularly but this week got sort of busy with after work social events, almost no craft time, and even less opportunity to sit down in front of my computer and write a post. I'll try to do better next week.

Do you make scrappy quilts? What about string quilts that use up those skinny leftovers?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bee Blocks: February

The queen bee for the first round of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild set me a simple task. Make the equivalent of two 12" bu 12" blocks in whatever makes you happy. I dug through my 2.5" charms and found enough to make a single 6" by 12" piece.
I also pulled out my Quick Curve ruler and directions to make this darling churn dash block (instructions for this block found in the Curve It Up pattern). It is always fun to make something a new way.
Then I made two flying geese units that measure at 6" by 12". That means that I have at least one 6" by 12" block too many. I suppose she will have to suffer through my block-making craze.

Now I just need to plan what blocks I want for my month.

Monday, February 20, 2017

In the Mail Monday

This post is going to be super short and quick.
I received my February ration of thread. I love the gray!
I printed and pieced together this pattern from Colette. This is Hawthorn and I aim to make one, or two. The biggest hurdle for me when it comes to making garments is that I rarely buy more than a couple yards of a single fabric. Quilters are so about buying all the prints. So much so that we buy fabric in little bitty pieces.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Odds and Ends

This one will be kind of quick. Getting back into the swing of work mean's I have so little time for creative pursuits.
I've been trying to figure out how to get this shape with crochet all through the week. The first three tests I did just didn't have the result I wanted. This one was the best of the bunch and worth my time to explore. This is done on a micro scale. This is the test for a full-size shawl. I used the planned increases and decreases just as I will for the full-size shawl. It gives a great representation of the shape of the finished shawl. I learned this trick from a knitter who introduced me to the 5 Shawls in 5 Days Challenge. Don't knit, or crochet, a full-size shawl when you can learn everything you need to about the shaping from a miniature.
I picked up this Shawl in a Ball yarn on a whim while at the craft store last weekend and I figured this would be the perfect test. I think this hook is just a little too small for this yarn, but I'm going to keep with it as I like the resulting fabric. I'll update you on this project as it comes along. This one will be simple double crochet to let the ombre yarn do the work. Maybe I'll experiment with different stitch designs once I know how this life-size test works out.
Last weekend I pieced this perfect backing. I thought I had a tutorial for my favorite way to piece quilt backing but it seems that was in a post and not on a page. Perhaps I should revisit that.
The backing was for this fun quilt top I made ages and ages ago. I've quilted it and it just needs to be trimmed and bound.

Because I like to support creative people in being creative and in being paid fairly for their hard work, here is a link to some work by an artist that was asked to create for free or for "exposure." Check it out and remember you have worked long and hard on your creativity, don't give it away.

Tired of Being Asked to Work for Free, This Artist Started Drawing These Client Requests

If you want to learn more about calculating how much you should charge for your work, no matter what kind of creative work you make, you should check out Sam Hunter's We Are $ew Worth It collection of articles and resources. It is totally worth your time.

Stay creative and make!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Stringing Along

I have been making string blocks for a long time. Long enough that it is time to make something. If you want to learn more about string blocks, and how I made these blocks using my vintage treadle sewing machine, check out this post from over a year ago. I joined the blocks using a more modern machine but that had more to do with the time I had and the fact that I had house guests than anything else.
I piece my string blocks on a thin paper foundation like Bonnie Hunter suggests in her free tutorial. I used Electric Quilt 7 to make sure I had enough blocks and got piecing.
This quilt will be about a queen size at about 89" by 97" or so. That depends on the final border but that is the plan. It is bright and scrappy and absolutely awesome.

If you want to see the story behind my vintage sewing machine (nearly 100 years old and still sews a pretty stitch) my adventure began in this post from 2014. Old sewing machines are amazing creations that will outlive me just like mine lived longer than my gran.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Vivid Pink

February's number for the 2017 UFO Challenge was to finish this pink quilt. This one would be easy be cause I already had the top done, the backing bought, and the binding cut.
I pieced the backing, stitched a label onto the backing, and loaded it all onto the frame. There is so much movement for this simple quilt.
I decided to keep it simple when it came to quilting. I used the swirl flower and swirls to fill in the space quickly. As a measure, I think I used a little over three bobbins for this project. Not too dense.
After piecing together the binding I added it by machine and finished it by machine. A quick finish and another project done for the year.

You can see my list of 12 projects in this post. That makes two months and two finishes. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Catching Up

As usual, I've been doing loads of different things. I didn't have any one good thing for the blog, so here is some short attention span theater.
I pieced the majority of the 2017 Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt En Provence. This pattern is available now from Bonnie's website. I have one more border to add and it will be ready for quilting. Check out the last link party over at Quiltville!
We made veggetti noodles for dinner one night. This was great! If you are looking for a way to cut out highly processed foods, this might be a good thing to try.
I pieced some more string blocks for charity. This is my go-to project for after work sewing. It doesn't take much planning and it is very satisfying.
I continue to make progress on my Dotted Rays shawl.
Even more string blocks!
The Get It Done UFO Challenge for February is number 7. That is my Vivid Pink quilt. You can see my list of 12 projects in this post. I designed the label and got it stitched onto the backing. Now I just need to quilt and bind it.

Get It Done UFO Challenge hosted by Spring Water Designs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Charity Quilting String Blocks

The last time I went to Annapolis Quilts for Kids I picked up two gallon bags of strings. These leftover bits are often just thrown away. My goal was to make them into something useful.
I grabbed my 6.5" paper foundation squares cut from an old phone book (to me all phone books are old because I never use them any more except for foundation paper piecing string blocks) and got stitching.
I still have plenty of strings left over and I have a pretty good stack of blocks trimmed and ready to have the paper removed. These are perfect mindless sewing. So easy to stitch up and you don't have to worry about perfections. The precision comes when you trim them to 6.5" by 6.5" blocks.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Polly Cross-Body Pouch

After I completed my Halloween Medallion quilt Hocus Pocus I had made quite a dent in my collection of Halloween prints but I wanted to try out a pattern I picked up by joining the Two Pretty Poppets mailing list. The Polly Cross Body Pouch is an exclusive pattern for the mailing list. It is a great way to try out on the patterns and the bag is pretty awesome, too.
After printing the pattern and reading through it in full, I fussy-cut the outer bag flap panel from my backing fabric. Then I dug around until I found a suitable print for the rest of the bag and lining.
I didn't follow the directions precisely. Not because there is a problem with the directions. The directions are excellent. But because I didn't have the bag hardware needed to make the bag as designed. I really like this little bag. It will be a great running around bag. Just big enough for phone and wallet. I also learned a few things about bag making that I can use in other projects. I will definitely make another. I'm sure these would make great gifts, too.

If you are looking for a well-written bag pattern, please check out Two Pretty Poppets. They might have your next favorite bag.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Medallion Quilt: Hocus Pocus Part 2

After I decided on a name, I had to create a label. Thankfully, Urban Threads had just the thing.
I loaded it all onto the frame and got ready for stitching.
I decided that I wanted to use as many colors as possible, or so it seemed. I used all of these in the quilting. I matched the threads as I went along.
I didn't do any fancy quilting and there were a few times that I went a little sideways, but it all worked out.
I quilted the background for the center block with some slightly wavy lines. I didn't want to overdo it.
The quilting took a couple days. There were some times that I had to rip stitches, but not too many.
You can see some of the colors on the back.
Overall, most of the quilting is obscured because the fabrics are just so darn busy. I could have quilted the entire thing with the medium gray thread, but where is the fun in that?
These happy skeletons were pressed into duty as binding. (Pun intended.)
Quilted, trimmed, and bound! My first real finish of 2017. Bring it on UFO Challenge! I can do this!

Get It Done UFO Challenge hosted by Spring Water Designs.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Medallion Quilt: Hocus Pocus

Earlier this month I shared a post about the UFO Challenge I was participating in. The first number selected was "5" which was a Halloween medallion quilt that I wanted to make. I was inspired to make a medallion quilt by Gwen Marsten's book Liberated Medallion Quilts.
Here is the stack of fabric I started with. I didn't use all of these, but I did use many. Some of these I purchased and some were given to me.
I designed the quilt from the center out. I picked this large section of some Ghastlies fabric for my center and used the swoon block to really make it shine. I used Electric Quilt 7 (EQ7) to plan each border and round of the quilt.
I also used skills and tools I learned while making Bonnie Hunter's En Provence mystery quilt.
I tried to keep the piecing simple. This is where I learned about accuracy in a somewhat painful way. If you aren't getting perfectly sized seams and perfectly sized blocks then this kind of quilt isn't for you. I used the borders for each round to make sure everything was the right size.
I learned that busy fabrics don't always read the way you want them to. Example: the black and purple half-square triangle blocks in the row above are really just muddy.
Making sure you know the size of your piece after you added that last border is pretty important, too. The black and white striped border wasn't even supposed to be in this quilt. Mistakes happen. This one wasn't tragic, by any means. You will realize after you've cut the half-square triangle blocks that you could have just made four flying geese units instead.
This is the first time I made units like these. Split-quarter square blocks are what Google tells me they are called. They aren't difficult once you've made about a hundred quarter square triangle units.
The final round used flying geese, split 9-patch, 9-patch and single blocks to showcase some of the fabrics. The unfinished size with the final border is 72.5" by 72.5". Not too shabby.

I'll share the quilting in another post since this one seems to be so full of pictures.

Get It Done UFO Challenge hosted by Spring Water Designs.