Saturday, April 27, 2013

Look what Pat Made

Bloom where you are plantedRemember my separated-at-birth quilt, Bloom?  

I completed it in January and, as part of a blog hop, created a giveaway of small Lemoyne star-style Little Daisy blocks and some coordinating fabrics for two?


Pat was one of the winners and yesterday, as part of a pom-pom-themed blog hop, posted photos of what she did with her winnings.  Her scarf-style chatelaine is so fabulous, I just had to share.  I especially love the hand stitching around the little star block. 

Visit Pat's blog, Life in the Scrapatch, to see more photos and details about how she made it and sign up for her giveaway which includes some of my fabric squares, left over from her project, plus more coordinating fabrics from her stash. I wonder if her winner will continue the tradition?

If you like scrappy goodness like Pat and I apparently do, check it out and sign up for the giveaway.  She also has a tutorial for an ice cream cone-shaped pincushion (on the following post) that's pretty adorable. 

And if you want to make your own little Lemoyne star variation for a sewers scarf of your own, you can find the templates for the Little Daisy block on my Freebies page

I am sharing this post as my weekend update on the Block Lotto because I think it's far more interesting  than my plan to layer and baste my scrappy geese quilt after I return from the farmers' market or finish up directions for the May Block Lotto which I can't share until May 1.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Borders are ON

I probably should have pressed this before grabbing this snap:

Borders on!

The border fabric I made yesterday has been sliced and added to the scrappy geese quilt (with a small strip left-over for the pieced backing.  April's UFO is now two finished tops–this one and the checkerboard picnic quilt–and I'm almost ready for some more free motion quilting.  Although I have made changes in the design along the way, I've always known how I wanted to quilt these geese.  I can't wait to get the back pieced and the quilt layered and basted so I can begin.  Can I get a whoop, whoop?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Light, Bright, Dull, Dark

Whenever I am putting together scrappy blocks or scrap quilts, I always try to include "light, bright, dull, dark." It isn't catchy, it doesn't rhyme, but it works when putting lots of disparate fabrics together.

More memorable is the phrase, "when life give you scraps, make quilts." Life is beating me up and I needed something easy and meditative to sew this afternoon.  I decided to make the border "fabric" for the scrappy geese quilt.  If sewing was my meditation, my mantra was, "light, bright, dull, dark."

Made Border Fabric

I made 60 inches of made fabric by sewing forty 2-inch width-of-fabric (WOF) strips together. I expected some differences in the WOF measurement, but maybe not quite as much as I found.

Now that I've sewn it all together, it's time to cut it up into borders.  How many times and how ways as quilters do we cut up fabrics only to sew them back together again?

I'm joining Pat Sloan's Show & Tell Linky party today.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

And now for something a little different ... Plan C

My original idea was to add a scrappy fanciful appliqué tree with a pair of flying birds to the top of the scrappy geese quilt ... and I got as far as enlarging and modifying the inspiration (from a pattern by Patrick Lose) until I decided I didn't like it.

Like many who have commented, since I liked the look of this month's bird blocks for the block lotto walking across the top of the scrappy geese–you can see them on my design wall here–I considered making more for this quilt, but ultimately I decided they looked too contemporary for the old-fashioned scrap quilt feel of the geese. 

Here is Plan C: a row of my go-to blocks, Sawtooth Stars. 

Scrappy Geese with Stars

Strips for bordersI have no idea how geese and other birds navigate, and even though I know it's probably not by using the stars, when I decided to add the stars to this piece, a name for this quilt has popped in my head: Finding My Way Home.

As the original set of squares and rectangles that were cut and put aside for the border have become a quilt of their own–the checkerboard picnic quilt–I've been cutting more.

Will I have a lovely finish in time for the end of the month ... I have no idea. But, even two new quilt tops finished feels like progress.

I'm joining the WIP Wednesday lists on Freshly Pieced and Esther's blog.  Check them out to see what other quilters are up to this week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Night Sew In?

Friday Night PlanI went looking for the sign-up for the April Friday Night Sew-In.  I didn't find a sign-up for this month on Heidi's blog, but my plan to sew tonight is the same.  Anyone else sewing tonight?

Spending Friday nights at home has become my practice.  It doesn't seem to matter where you live, traffic is always bad on Friday night, going anywhere out to eat means a wait because of the crowds ... it's become so much easier for me to avoid the people and have a quiet meal and evening at home.

I'll be making more of little paper foundation pieced blocks for the border on the cotton robin piece now at my house. I hope to finish this up and mail it onward on Monday.

What I wonIn other news, my prize from Shana and Melissa–the ladies behind A Lovely Year of Finishes–arrived today.  When they emailed me and told me what I had won, I was excited.  I have only tried English Paper Piecing in a small way and thought this book of doll quilts might inspire me to begin a project–I actually thought it likely that I'd spend this (non) Friday Night Sew In beginning a new EPP project.

Unfortunately, the directions for each of the 11 projects require that you purchase the specified pre-cut paper pieces.  While I likely would have gone that route once committed to a project, I simply do NOT understand why the basic shapes and measurements weren't included.  Without including those basic shapes, this quilting book feels to me like little more than a sales brochure with a $21.95 price tag.   It makes me wonder what the authors, Chris Moline and JoAnne Louis of Paper Pieces, were thinking ...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Little Progress, Much Sadness

The bombing at the Boston marathon has left me speechless and sad.  Everyone relates in their own way–I once lived 1-2 blocks away from where it happened and have watched the marathoners from the sidewalk many years and so it is easy for me to imagine Boylston street and the crowds of people cheering on the runners. My heart goes out to Boston.

On a more personal and trivial note, after a near-perfect interview for a job a couple weeks ago, I heard yesterday that the funding for the position was pulled and so still no job for me. 

I have made some small progress on quilting projects.  I added a sawtooth border to the scrappy checkerboard picnic quilt.  It's ready to be layered, basted and quilted. 

Checkerboard with Sawtooth Border

I have also been working on the second round for the Cotton Robin quilt at my house. (I won't share any of that work until the robin has ended this summer).

It seemed like a good idea ...When it arrived at my house, I immediately thought of a paper-pieced border I had made long ago, probably during my first year as a quilter.  When I couldn't find the foundation pattern anywhere, I remembered that I had an old–still not quilted–wall hanging I had made way back when, and thought I could copy the block from the pieced top. Here's what happened when I put it on the light box.

While this wasn't exactly as helpful in reverse engineering the pattern as I thought it would be, it does make for a particularly obscure clue to provide to the Cotton Robin group about the round I've added to the quilt :-)

December #2I have only managed one more of the hand-pieced blocks.

I need to make one more of these (the December block), then draft the pattern for the missing block.

I also need to draft the appliqué idea I have for the top of the scrappy flying geese quilt so I can make some progress there ... since it's my designated Lovely Finish for April.

Events, near and far, have me feeling scattered.  I know I'll be able to focus soon enough on these quilt projects and other tasks, but for now, I am just feeling all kinds of sad.

I'm joining WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced and Esther's WOW lists.  Check them out for quilters who are likely making much more progress than me this week.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Color Story for my Hand-pieced blocks

November #3When I looked at the block pattern for this block–it was November in the original set for Bonnie's Quilt-Along–I thought the challenge would be getting those long points right.  It turns out, hand-piecing those point was easy and the real challenge was choosing the fabrics.

There has been some discussion of "my colors" for this block, so I thought I'd blog a bit about it.  Before this project, I'd never used a printed fabric to guide my color-selection process.  I decided to try it, using the Laurel Burch fabric.  I collected tone-on-tone fabrics that were the colors I saw in the print, including prints, hand-dyes and batiks. I added black-and-white prints.

I choose the fabrics, block by block, with no advance planning ... which I know could make putting them all together in the end more challenging, but it's just more fun for me this way. In each block, I include the Laurel Burch print, a black and white print and fabrics in colors from both sides of the color wheel.  It's easy to see that in the November blocks, since there are only four fabrics, that means, one cool color, one warm color, one black & white and the focal fabric.

November #1 November #2

You might notice that some of my blocks have a lot less contrast than others.  I don't mind included a few muddled blocks in the mix, like the one with the pink points.  I think the repetition helps you see those points and the fuzziness may make someone looking at the quilt take a closer look. You often see muddled blocks in antique scrap quilts. Including them somehow makes me feel that my quilts are continuing that scrappy tradition. 

December #1Most of the blocks are made from more than four fabrics and I noticed that I tend to put together blocks from fabrics that are predominately warm, like this one that I finished last night, or predominately cool.  I always follow my rule of including at least one warm and one cool colored fabric in each block, along with at least one black & white print and the Laurel Burch fabric.

This is the first December block. My plan for Slow Stitch Sunday is to select and cut fabrics for another of these to work on tonight.

Also finished this week were the two October blocks below I really could have cropped those better so they matched like they do in real life, huh?

October #2 October #3

For anyone who wants to take a closer look at the individual blocks, check out m Flickr photo set for the Quilt-Along 2010.

I've now finished 31 of the 36 blocks planned for this project. I hope to be finished piecing this set of blocks and working on some new hand worked project the next time Slow Stitch Sunday comes around.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Project Mitosis and my Scrappy Déja Vu

Stack of scrappy squares and rectanglesRemember this stack of rectangles and strips that I had cut and packed away with the scrappy geese quilt project? While waiting for a light bulb design moment about which way to go for what goes above the geese, I cut cream strips and set to work, turning this scrappy pile into twenty six 16-patch blocks.

Looking at the scrappy squares, I realized that I had cut these as part of going through my scrap bins and cutting up fabrics that represented the good, bad and (mostly) just plain ugly fabrics not of my choosing that I had collected through activities like fabric swaps and shop hops.  I've recently thought that it's time to do some spring cleaning in those sorted-by-color scraps again ... I've been thinking of a project in which to use all the almost-too-small-to-throw-away pieces because they now represent the majority of my scraps.  Anyway, looking through the (mostly) uglies I had pulled out of my bins for this collection had me feeling a little bit of scrap clearing déja vu.

I was probably less than half-way done when I realized I wasn't going to like it as a border and remembered that my original idea was NOT to add that cream fabric at all.  Oops.

But since I was committed, I kept sewing. I am not even going to put them side by side to show you because I disliked the idea that much.  As I finished up sewing the blocks, my new idea was to use them as the center of a scrappy picnic quilt. 25 twelve inch blocks will become a 60-inch square ... after I've arranged and rearranged them a bit more.

Scrappy 16-patch blocks

So now my project for my Lovely Finish in April has split in two in a sort of project mitosis.  In terms of progress, I feel a little like I'm moving backwards ... 

I'm joining the lists for Kim's Scrap Basket Sunday and for the mid-month update for a Year of Lovely Finishes and for Judy's Design Wall Monday.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Morning

It was one of those mornings.  When the alarm went off, I tried to ignore it and kept my eyes squeezed shut and didn't budge.  My body wanted more sleep, but the persistent alarm–and remembering that it was trash day and I hadn't yet dragged my bin to to the curb, compelled me to open my eyes ... what I saw was more brilliant than captured in this iPhone photo ... but you get the idea.

Friday, April 12 Sunrise

Sometimes, it seems, all we really have to do is open our eyes and take in the view.

Weekend Update on the Block Lotto asks what happens to the quilts you make. For the first time, I think, since I became a quilter,  my living space has lots of good walls for hanging quilts ... and I fight the urge to go overboard, though I indulge myself a little in private spaces.  When you walk into my bedroom, there's no doubt that a quilters sleeps here (along with her cat).

A quilter sleeps here

(Grace Hopper refused to budge from the bed to allow me to straighten that quilt ... that's her spot and she was already letting me know that I had interrupted her afternoon cat nap.)

If you read this blog, probably everything looks familiar in this photo, but if not, here are links to posts about the Block Lotto quilt on the wall, the bed quilt, the scrappy triangle pillow shams and the hand quilted pillow on the desk chair. 

I've been hanging quilts using 3M control strip hooks.  It's working well and I love the impermanence of it.  The quilt on the wall is 72 inches square and hung with two hooks rated at 3 pounds each.

I'm sharing on Pat Sloan's Show & Tell linked list.  Follow the link to check out the eye candy. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh Yea, Now I Remember

Here's what was included in the packed up scrappy flying geese WIP.

Now I remember ...

Yesterday, I remembered that my intention was to make a scrappy checkerboard border, using the cream fabrics, alternated with the darker tans and the scrappy pile of squares and strips.  The green print  on the left is for one idea for the something I want to add at the top of the geese, the sun block was a reminder of another design possibility ... and all the positive feedback to the block lotto BIRD blocks that we walking across the top of my design wall the other day, has me considering that possibility as well.  In the meantime, all the sewing I've actually done on this project since I unpacked it was adding a skinny border to float the scrappy flying geese.

Scrappy Geese Progess

Clearly I need to focus, if this is to become an Lovely Finish this month.

I'm sharing this post on Esther's WOW and Lee's WIP Wednesday lists.  It's what I'm up to this week, what about you? 

Monday, April 08, 2013

25 Blocks and Counting

October #1Last night I pieced this block. It's 25th of 36 blocks I plan to complete before thinking about settings and playing with the arrangement of all the blocks. This one is the first block made using the October block pattern from the 2010 Quilt-along.

Even though I know I have a ways to go before putting them together, I couldn't resist pulling out the 25 blocks now completed and playing on the design wall and sharing the photo of my progress as part of Judy's Design Wall Monday.

25 Blocks on the Design Wall

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Old Class Project Becomes New Pillow

I've been thinking about it for a while and this afternoon decided to just do it.  Starting with:
  • a hand-quilted piece–a class project from my first attempt at hand quilting in class
  • four mostly red 16 patch blocks, made during the first Rainbow Scrap Challenge a couple years ago
  • some notions - zipper, fabric and filling for making piping
Materials for Pillow

I sewed the 16-patches together to form the back, layered and quilted it.  Made piping. And put it all together to make a pillow cover.

Front of Pillow Back of Pillow

Now I can admire my first stitches more easily ... and it will provide some comfort on the Chippendale desk chair.

Back of Pillow

I'm working on the Slow Stitch Sunday habit

August blocksThese are the latest three of the hand-pieced blocks. These blocks are the August blocks from the 2010 Quilt-Along.

It's been a distracting week and not much quilting  happened at Sophie Junction.

Early last week I had a job interview that went really well–I'm hopeful, but could definitely use prayers and crossed fingers for luck.

The rest of the week was spent dealing with a leak from the upstairs bath into the dining area downstairs ... I'm sure there's a Murphy's Law about how leaks happen over beautiful antiques.  Fortunately I discovered it and moved the furniture out of the way before any real damage was done ... I wish I could say the same about the ceiling.  It's dry enough here that mold shouldn't be an issue and things should dry out quickly so that repairs (to the tile upstairs and the ceiling downstairs) can be made.

I'm determined that whatever else happens, I will make time on Sunday for some handwork until it becomes automatic and I've always got something to pick up and work on.  Kathy's Slow Stitch Sunday has been a great motivator.

For me, it's probably taking the time to prepare and make sure I have something to stitch that is the biggest challenge. This afternoon, I'm preparing templates and choosing/cutting fabrics for the next blocks.  I confess that I am not preparing much in advance, because I find that I often change my mind and am recutting pieces in a different fabric.  After making the first block, I decided to modify the pattern slightly.  Here's the original block (left) and the re-designed version (with the black & white section split and combined with yellow).

August #1 August #1 (version 2)

For me, ripping out stitches made by hand is just as tedious, but I really do prefer the modified block.

I'm also linking up with the Block Lotto Weekend Update.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Making Swiss Cheese ... and More Hand-pieced Sunflower Blocks

Unless you've used templates for making pieced blocks or carefully cut pieces for appliqué, you've never experienced the fun of turning perfectly good fabric into something that looks  a lot like Swiss cheese.

Swiss Cheese Fabric

As soon as you find yourself cutting things piece by piece, the temptation to choose what part of the fabric you use is too great.  When you're done fussy-cutting those pieces, you're left with fabric that is only good for  . . .  more fussy cutting :-)

July #3Here's what became of my fussy cut leaf triangles from the black and white print.

Since picking up the hand-pieced quilt-along blocks I put down almost three years ago,  I've made pretty good progress. This block was the July block of the month.  I'm making three blocks from each pattern.  Below are the (untrimmed) blocks I've made since picking up the project a couple weeks ago, from May through August.

First eight blocks made in 2013 

September is the lost month–I never received that pattern, but didn't notice it was missing three years ago–so, after I've made a couple more August blocks, I plan to skip it and jump into the Fall months while I work on designing a pattern and templates.  I did find a photo of the September block on Bonnie's blog ... I like this one a lot, so I'll probably attempt to reproduce it  rather than design my own variation on these sunflowers.

I'm sharing this work in progress on Esther Aliu's WOW list and WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

Choosing the Next Project or ...

... how one thing leads to another.   I've been having a hard time settling on my project for my Lovely Finish for April.

When I read Barbara's post about her April Goals, I told her that it was a lot like was going on in my head at the moment. The pull of play and putting together another quilt in the style of Bloom and Cock-a-Doodle Tea Towel is strong, but I also liked the idea of more FMQ on the old Singer 301 to see if, with enough practice, I could develop skills on this machine.  And then along came the shoulds ... I felt I should pull out an old UFO and finish it.  After a couple days of thought, this is my compromise with myself–an old UnFinished Object that needs some design elements ... and quilting.

Flying Geese Quilt in Progress

The Flying Geese top was put together and put away a few years ago. It's approximately 45 x 54 inches.   My intention was to add an appliqué section at the top and some borders.  

In the way that one thing leads to another, seeing my bird blocks (for the April Block Lotto) at the top of my design wall yesterday made me wonder how they'd work as a border for this quilt. I liked the idea of bordering the traditional Flying GEESE blocks with the BIRD blocks and my original plan for appliqué included some birds ... but looking at them together, I wasn't so sure.  Then, within minutes of uploading the photo to Flickr, a comment was added by Amy: love the birds at the top.  

I think I need to think on it a little more.  (I'll finish my round on the Cotton Robin quilt at my house in the meantime.) 

I found this familiar-looking block folded in with the project.  It was another design idea for the top of the quilt.

Oh Look!  Another Sun Block

This is my first ever drafted-by-me rising sun block.  It was a test block made before making a block for my Bee in Michigan.  It's probably 5 or 6 years old–funny how long that particular design idea has been with me, huh?

Whatever direction I take these scrappy Flying geese blocks, this quilt is my chosen goal for a Lovely Finish in April and my Show & Tell for Pat Sloan's blog.

Monday, April 01, 2013

My Colorful Monday Morning Design Wall

It must be the arrival of Spring that has influenced my choices ... these blocks on my design wall makes me smile whenever I walk into the room. 

On the Design Wall

I've finished a few more hand-pieced blocks from Bonnie's Sunflower QAL (from 2010) in the past couple weeks.  I was excited about making progress on this 3-years old project but ran into an oops over the weekend when I pulled out the rest of the block patterns which Bonnie had kindly mailed to me in Texas and found I'm missing one.  Ruh roh.  I'm telling myself that it's an opportunity to try to design a block and create templates for the 12th pattern.

6 Bird Blocks on the Design Wall
I like the way the birds look at the top of the wall, a little like birds on a white.   These are my April blocks for the Block Lotto.

They are a 6 by 9 inch (finished size) basic bird block, made in bright colors with black (or black and white) beaks and legs on a soft blue background.  Makers can decide if they want to make left- or right-facing birds and can make some choices about how tall and how to position the legs ... after I made them, I realized that several of mine look like they're striking a pose a la Angelina Jolie at the Oscars.

Bird Block Pattern CoverYou can download a print-friendly copy of the pattern here:

Bird Block Pattern

If you would like to join us for the Block Lotto and make bird blocks to enter for a chance to win more, you's find the April guidelines here:

April is for the Birds

(I will also add it to my Freebies page for future reference.)

And more information about the Block Lotto and how it works, here:

The butterfly blocks are rejects from Cock-a-Doodle Tea Towel are still on the wall because I have a plan for them ... I just need to find the time and inclination.

Today, I'm joining the list at Lynn's BOMs Away Monday and Judy's Design Wall Monday.
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