Monday, June 30, 2014

Pinwheel HSTeria - June's Lovely Finish

Whew!  I finally got around to quilting and binding this this quilt and finished ... in the nick of time to meet my goal for a Lovely Finish in June.

Pinwheel HSTeria - June's Lovely Finish

The finished quilt measures 25 1/2 by 31 inches.  I tried the faux binding technique one more time and this time, I don't hate the results.

Since it's Design Wall Monday, here's what the rest of the design wall looks like today, with my first two hand-pieced sunflowers alongside the little quilt.  I'm also linking to the weekly HSTeria QAL update.

Design Wall - June 30

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More of the Same (Sunflower Block)

I finished hand-piecing my second Sunflower block and setting it inside the (machine) pieced background this week.

Sunflower Block #2

The sunflower is 14 inches across.  The block is 18 inches square (finished size).

Tonight, I'll start cutting fabrics and slow stitching another Sunflower-inspired block in this series.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Last Blast of Yellow Scraps

Yellow Broken Dishes BlocksHere are the 21 blocks made from the 336 yellow HST units I cut and sewed a week ago.

I still have some yellow scrap projects yet to get around to this month, but getting these done feels good.

And here's how they look mixed in with some of the rest of the scrappy blocks made so far as part of the Rainbow Scraps Challenge.

Scrappy Broken Dishes Blocks

And this is my update for the HSTeria QAL and Angela's Farewell to Yellow (Rainbow scraps challenge) tomorrow. 

I cannot believe how many of these blocks I've made and how close I am to having enough.  And how, two years later, I still like the idea. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stitching Slivers and Suspending Disbelief

Hand-Pieced Sunflower in ProgressI shared this work-in-progress photo on the Block Lotto earlier this week as an example of how sometimes, in life and quilting, we just have to trust the pattern (or path), suspend disbelief and carry on.

At this point, I had sewn together about three-quarters of the 64 "petals" and background pieces that will form the outer edge of the circle of my next sunflower block.

Bringing Order to the ChaosWhen the ring was complete, I added the slivers of green fabric that fit between each of the 32 petals. It felt like I was bringing order to the chaos ... but there was still no guarantee that when I was done, everything will fit, the block will lay nice and flat and the center of my sunflower will fit.

I think it helped that I started with a full-sized drawing.  I could see the exact size of those green slivers and decide they were do-able ... though whether *I* can stitch them accurately enough to have success with this block remained to be seen.

What seems a pretty simple pattern turns out to have 98 pieces–not counting the background frame that will be added if/when I successfully pieced this block.  Stay Tuned.

Pattern and Block in ProgressI'm linking to the WIP Wednesday party at Freshly Pieced and Esther's WOW (WIPS on Wednesday).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunshine on My Design Wall

There's probably some wordplay on the John Denver song, Sunshine on my Shoulders, thats eluding me ... but the Sunshine on my Design Wall today is making me pretty happy, too.

Design Wall - June 23

I blogged about the big block–the first block of my Summer of Sunflowers project– yesterday.  It is joined by the first 10 Broken Dishes blocks made from scrappy yellow Half-Square Triangles.   Yes, I did iron all 340 of the HSTs I made Friday night and have started putting them together.  

I started by making just one, then photographed it, uploaded it and converted it to black and white to see how sound my value judgement was with all these yellow fabrics.  As soon as I saw it on the screen, I immediately saw my goof (lower right corner), so before I went any further, I had to fix that. 

First Block  First Block in Black & White  Corrected Block
(original block, converted to gray scale, and the same block, rotated, with the corner fixed) 

It's interesting how, in color, I see good contrast in some of those light + bright combinations; when converted to gray scale, in some squares, there is little/no contrast.

I'm adding my link to Design Wall Monday.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Summer of Sunflowers Project

Tools of the TradeAs 21st Century quilters we are blessed to have a plethora of patterns,  tools and technology available to help us design and make quilts. So what I am doing with this stuff?

In January, when I had to come up with a replacement for a missing 12th block for a hand-pieced block of the month, I discovered the elegance of designing a block by hand, using a compass and a technique as easy as folding paper to divide an arc into even segments. I enjoyed the process so much, I knew I wanted to design more blocks this way ... and that's how I decided a summer project: 12 original blocks, pieced by hand, one each week throughout summer.

I started by making the quarter-circle template at the top, using the compass to draw arcs in 1-inch increments, then folding it half and in half again (and again) to create 16 equal segments. I used a rule to draw lines on the creases and then made copies of the template on which I started doodling and coloring block ideas.

Today, I'll be cutting the pieces for the block in the photo.  The sketch peeking through underneath is the proof of concept block I shared earlier this week.

Here is the pieced circle, front and back, before it was pressed and set into the background

Hand-pieced Sunflower Circle   Back of Hand-pieced Sunflower Circle

The circle is 14 inches in diameter, so that even though there are a lot of pieces–67 in this block–they are large enough to be able to sew easily.  It just takes time ... but since I enjoy the process, it's enjoyable time.

Detail of piecingHere's a close look at what that slow-stitching looks like.

The pieced donut shapes are sewn in a continuous line, zig-zagging up and down the triangles.  As a new triangle is added, each short seam is lined up and held in place with the threaded needle at one end and a pin at the other. I actually use small, short, designed-for appliqué pins, but the flower pin in the photo is easier to see.

I set the sunflower circle into the machine-pieced background using the 6-minute circle technique–exactly as in Marie's tutorial here:

Marie's Creative Space: Circle Tutorial

I'm joining the links for Slow Sunday Stitching and for the Handmade discussion of the month on the Block Lotto.

And here's my first completed Summer Sunflower block, one more time. I am not happy with the circle in the center ... since it's hand-stitched, it will be able to take apart and try again before the end of Summer.

Proof of Concept-My First Sunflower

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Quilting on Saturday

My Friday Night Sew-in was a success ... although the progress I made isn't exactly eye candy-worthy. 

680 Cut TrianglesI managed to find enough yellows in my scraps and stash to cut 680 triangles.

It doesn't look all that impressive in the photo, but there are 340 light yellows, 170 medium yellows and 170 dark yellows.

And ... I paired them up and chain-sewed into the night until I had 340 Half-Square Triangle units, a little more than I 'll need to make 21 blocks.

I didn't manage to push on and actually press them ... and so this effort ended looking like this–light+medium in one bin and light+dark in the other.

It's not pretty, but it is progress on a Scrap-Happy Saturday.   Check out the list to see some beautiful yellow scrap projects ...

340 HST Units

I couldn't face the iron last night, but I did decide to play with some random liberated star blocks I made in February (from Pink scraps) and work on the North New Mexico Guild's charity effort this month: placemats for Kitchen Angels.

Placemat for Kitchen Angels

(The placemat has square corners, only the photo is skewed.) 

Each fall, around Thanksgiving, Kitchen Angels puts together Holiday baskets for each of their homebound clients including a new placemat, made by members of the guild. I hope someone will enjoy my little scrappy, wonky stars. Since I seemed to be having a little tension problem when I was free-motion-quilting the Cotton Robin quilts, I decided to try again and see what happened ... and, for whatever reason, this time, everything went well. Here are a couple detail photos of the quilting.

Background Quilting Detail   Quilting Detail (in the "empty" square

Since my placemat was made,  I didn't have to lug my machine and equipment to the meeting and stick around and sew ... which is probably a good thing since I was up, happily sewing at home last night, far too late and barely dragged myself out of bed in time to make it to the guild meeting.  I am glad I did because ... the raffle quilt has been finished and we got our first look. 

First Look

Clearly, I wasn't the only one snapping photos.

Corner Appliqué DetailThe pattern is Misty Mountain Pond by Judy Niemeyer ... you can find it here:

Misty Mountain Pond

I love the colors and the variety of fabrics the organizers chose.

Nicole Dunn's quilting design is exquisite and feels just right for this quilt.

I'll let you know when I have tickets to sell ...

Quilting Detail

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Proof of Concept ... and a Plan for FNSI

Blocks made from Half-Square TrianglesThese are the twenty 12-inch Half-Square-Triangle blocks from a block swap a long while ago.

Below them are the twelve 18-inch frames I created, after I disassembled and re-combined and assembled them for my idea for a summer project.

I'll blog more about my plan for the 12 weeks of summer this weekend, but here's a sneak peek at my first completed block–my proof of concept for the this idea.

12 frames made from HST Sampler Blocks
Proof of Concept-My First Sunflower

The center is a hand-pieced block made from a pattern drawn by me. The design is most identified as a New York Beauty ... but I've been thinking of it as my summer of Sunflower blocks. 

I am happy with the combination of HST background and round and spiky centers ... my summer of sunflowers is a go.

My plans for the Friday Night Sew-in tomorrow are also HSTerical. I'll be cutting and sewing the 672 yellow triangles I need–or as many as I can cut from my scraps–to make scrappy yellow broken dishes blocks to add to those made so far, as part of the Rainbow Scraps Challenge.

Some of those triangles will come from the scraps of pretty yellow and gold hand-dyed fabrics from Vicki Welsh that I won in the drawing last month in the HSTeria QAL.  Thanks, Vicki!

12 new green blocks added

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Half-way through the Mod-Mod Quilt-Along

Here's what half-way looks like for the Full/Queen-size Mod-Mod Sampler:

Half-way through the Mod-Mod QAL

Here's a closer look at the finished June blocks–one of each of the fabric combinations.

Completed Sun BlocksAfter the arcs of the sunrise blocks were paper pieced, I sewed them together into a donut shape, then added a hand-appliquéd circle in the center.  They were set into the background square using the 6-minute circle technique.

I wanted to make sure that the horizon line (seam joining the two halves of the sun's rays) was set square into the background, so I marked the freezer paper template with lines that I could use to line things up.

If you like the looks of my half-finished sampler, it's not too late to jump in and make one of your own.  All the blocks patterns we've made so far can be found on the Free Quilt Block Patterns page on this blog.

The number of blocks you'll need to make for each of the 6 sizes (from 42 inch square small sampler quilt to 105 inch square King-size Bed quilt) and the layouts for each of the 6 quilts can be found on the Block Lotto here:

Here Comes the Sun ... And the Mod-Mod Quilt Along June Update

I'm joining the list for WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

Monday, June 16, 2014

(Slow) Progress

There's signs of slow progress on my design wall today.

  (Slow) Progress on my Design Wall

I am hoping for one more photo of these Mod-Mod QAL blocks this week when I've finished with those Rising Sun blocks ... then I can move on to quilting (and blogging about) other things.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

More Sun-worshipping ... and Auditioning Fabrics

Auditioning Center FabricI've started making the 10 Sunrise blocks for my Mod-Mod (queen size) sampler quilt.

I wanted to add some pale yellow into the mix. I pulled out some of the existing blocks to make sure they would all play nicely together.  I like the yellow with white stripe, fussy cut into the background between the sun's rays ...  now I just need to make five more.

The sun will be set into a white background, but I haven't decided yet what color/fabric I'll use for the small circle in the center.   Neither of the centers in the photos feels quite right ...  I am thinking a pale gray or a minimalist sun with a white (background fabric) center is the answer.

My plan for a slow-stitch Sunday evening is to hand-appliqué the centers in place on as many sun blocks as I can piece this afternoon.

Adding Suns to my Mod-Mod Sampler

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the SunI've been slow to start making scrappy yellow blocks for the Rainbow Scraps Challenge this month, both because yellow fabrics aren't well represented in my stash or scrap bin and because I know that finding "light," "medium," and "dark" yellows with enough contrast is going to be challenging.

I started with my blocks for the Mod-Mod Quilt-Along. This month's lotto block, Sunrise, is a half sun shape.  In the Mod-mod quilt, pairs are combined to form a full sun shape. I decided to combine the halves and sew the block as a paper-pieced donut then add the circle center and outer background using the 6-minute circle technique.

 If you google Dale Fleming 6-Minute Circle you’ll find links to Dale Fleming demonstrating her technique on Simply Quilts (on the HGTV website) and a longer version (with other shapes and examples)  from her onThe Quilt Show (if you are a member).  

The book contains a lot of information on color and design principles and how to use the technique with different shapes. It was published almost 10 years ago, but I noticed that Amazon has it available on Kindle.  
Clicking the book image will take you there. 
Color/Fabric CheckWhen choosing fabrics for the block, I was looking for contrast between the yellow fabrics and something that would play nicely with the existing blocks, so I put some of the blocks from previous months on the design wall to audition fabrics.

So far, so good.  So I made a second full sun block.  In the second block, I hand-appliquéd the circle in the center.

And when it was done, I couldn't resist laying out all the blocks made so far on the wall, placed as they will be in the quilt.

Mod-Mod Throw - Half Done

This weekend, I plan to make more Sunrise blocks–I'll need 5 pairs for the larger quilt.

I think I am working my way up to cutting and sewing the nearly 700 yellow triangles I'll need to make the broken dishes blocks for that rainbow scraps project ... because after sewing the sun blocks, I next turned to something easy–the single Oak Leaf block, made from 14 large half-square triangles (HSTs).

Scrappy Yellow Oak Leaf Block

This was good practice with working with yellows and contrast. A couple of those HST units are a bit muddy, but I still like this big 10 by 15-inch block ... and it plays nicely with its friends.

Six Scrappy Oak Leaf Blocks

This block, the scrappy version of one of last year's block patterns for the Block Lotto, makes me want to fracture more traditional shapes into triangles. I love the twinkle in these blocks.  

I am linking this post with the weekly posts for Angela's ScrapHappy Saturday and Vicki's HSTeria QAL.  Both these lists are rich with great ideas for quilt blocks and quilt design. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Baste, Quilt, Bind, Repeat

Backs of two quiltsI haven't been sharing much of the quilting going on at Sophie Junction because I've been finishing a couple of small round robin quilts for the last round of the Cotton Robin.

We cannot reveal photos of the quilts until all the quilts are finished and have returned home, but, I don't think I'm revealing much by showing you the BACK of the two little quilts I'm taking to the post office later today.

I hope the quilters receive them love them as much as I do.

While I'm on a roll with the rhythm of baste, quilt, bind, I will make the back for my little pinwheel quilt and keep going after I send these two little beauties home.

And that's what's in-progress on Wednesday on my house.  I'm linking with WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Decision Time - June's Goal for a Lovely Finish

I almost decided to skip setting a June goal, because I know I must work on a handful of projects that I won't be able to share until later.  Then I decided that along with all those secret projects, I can also finish the scrappy pinwheel quilt.

Pinwheel HSTeria

My goal for a Lovely Finish in June is to quilt and finish the pinwheel quilt.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Reconstruction Zone

I've deconstructed the rest of the 12-inch HST Sampler blocks and am in the progress of figuring out how they become more 18-inch background/frames.

Re-arranging the squares is a good activity while I make a decision about what project I'll choose for my goal for a Lovely Finish in June.  I shared the first six that I finished here.

Reconstructing more Backgrounds from deconstructed blocks

These are all made from 3-inch units. I also have some 4 inch, 8 inch and lots of 2 inch bits and pieces with which to come complete these and come up with a 12th block.  I envision more cream/tan/brown HST elements as sashing.

That's what's in-progress for me this Wednesday.  I'm joining the long list for WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

I'm motivated to sew these together and finish them all up so I can start on the circle blocks that will go into the centers.  My plan is to design and sew one block a week during the 12 weeks of summer. In my head, I am thinking of it as Sophie's Summer of S_____.

I need to commit to a June goal for aLYoF soon.    If you are curious, here are the top contenders.

I have almost settled on a pick, but I considered these six projects:

  1. Turn the Good Morning/Good Night red work I stitched through the Winter Olympics into pillow covers. 
  2. Complete my Feather Bed quilt.
  3. Quilt and Finish the little Leftovers pinwheel quilt.
  4. Quilt and Finish the 2013 Block Lotto Sampler (a missed goal earlier this year).
  5. Quilt and Finish my Tea Towel Challenge quilt. 
  6. Make three Kitty softie friends for for Proto-kitty for the NNMQG's gift shop. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Another Sunrise

Cats on the Roof at SunriseI work up so early this morning that you could almost call it last night, but felt so well-rested and refreshed, there was no going back to sleep. I know I'll probably start fading soon after dinner, but it's nice to be up and about before it's fully light.

As the sun started its daily ascent, I let the cats out on the roof deck, then went downstairs, made a latté, grabbed my camera and joined them.

I failed to get a good picture of Grace Hopper, bug hunter, in action, but it was entertaining to watch her chase down any insect that happened to be crawling or flying over the roof.  Johnny mostly just watched, being a bird man, until she had downed one of her prey ... then he went over to have a look and give it a swat himself.

This morning, I gained a little insight into why Grace usually comes inside and curls up on the quilt folded on a corner of the desk in my bedroom or on one of the wing chairs in the den and sleeps through the morning.  The little girl (cat) insect hunter really gets a good morning workout out on the roof.

Johnny, on the other hand, usually comes in side, suggests that the food bowls be topped of and then insists he needs more outside time.
Cats on the Roof
Speaking of sunrises ... Last night I stitched along with Longmire and finished another hand-pieced sunrise block for the Block Lotto.

The background of the block is a white-on-white print ... the sun isn't up enough for good natural light in the studio.

One of the differences between hand-piecing and sewing it on the machine is that you don't need to press after every seam and so instead of the familiar rhythm of sew a seam, hop over to the iron and press it, go back to the machine and sew another seam, you can sit, relax and sew.

Sophie's Sunrise Block #5

The more I play with color/fabric placement in the June lotto blocks, the more difficult it is becoming to make a decision about what I want to do in my mod-mod-sampler blocks. It's probably time to pull the blocks I have made out, put them on the wall and decide what will play nicely with the rest.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Deconstruction-Reconstruction HSTeria on my Wall

Deconstructed-Reconstructed blocksWhen I thought more about turning the 12-inch HST Sampler blocks into larger backgrounds for a new project, I realized that they really didn't need to be whole blocks because they would become background/frames for large circular elements and whatever was in the center would be hidden/cut away.

And this is what happened.

I don't know anyone who likes to rip-rip-rip out seams, but somehow it isn't so terrible when you're not ripping out mistakes to fix them, but are creating building blocks to play with on the design wall to create something new.

The new blocks are 18-inches square.  They will surround 14-inch circle elements. Some are symmetrical; some are almost symmetrical; the rest are not symmetrical at all.

I plan to turn the original 20 HST swap blocks into a dozen larger ones, with more HST units made and added, if needed.

The original blocks are below.

Blocks made from Half-Square Triangles

Deconstructing the blocks was a little like quilting archeology. The flying geese units in one of the blocks had been paper pieced and while there was no sign of paper on the back, it surrounded the threads in the seams ... and being the well-made block it was, the stitch-length was smaller and not a joy to pick out. I don't know if there will be enough HST-fabric to make the backgrounds I need; unfortunately, a couple blocks had stains and scorch marks that I chose not to include.

I'm adding this post to the links for Vicki's HSTeria QAL and Design Wall Monday (tomorrow) on The Patchwork Times.

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