Friday, February 25, 2011

How does my garden grow?

"Floral Bouquet" in progress
Slowly but surely!

Spent a couple of hours at my sewing machine today and am now up to 21 blocks done, 18 to go. A little better than halfway. I'd originally thought I might get all the flower blocks done today but I was a little overtired, had a few other things I also had to get done, and ultimately lost energy and decided to stop before I got stupid. I was noticing that I was having to square up some of the later blocks a little more than I had been so clearly I was starting to lose my accuracy. Time to stop. Fortunately, the way the blocks make up, there's a little wiggle room for squaring them up. I love a forgiving block.

Tomorrow's another day. Not much on the schedule, so I should be able to knock out a lot more of those remaining 18 blocks. My plan is to pace myself and schedule a few shorter sewing periods through the day rather than trying to sit down in one long session. Should stay fresh that way!

Want to check out what we were doing on our vacation earlier this week? Here's a peek!
video

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Block Down...38 to Go...


"Floral Bouquet" block
Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
Isn't this just the cutest dang thing? I've been in love with this pattern ever since I first saw it and it's not even my normal idiom (to nerdily quote Monty Python). I told my BFF/BQF Kate that this was probably the most "romantic" quilt I'll have ever made. It's very sweet.

However, that being said, I also immediately mentally tagged it for my MIL the second I laid eyes on the pattern as well. So it's sweet, but not something I'd probably normally have in my own house. I can so easily see it in hers.

That's the fun thing about quiltmaking. We can play with all sorts of colors and styles and not have to live with them any longer than it takes to make them!

In any case, this would normally be a chain piecing project for me but I think I might take it a block at a time. Mostly so I don't screw up the "planned randomness" I finally achieved tonight. But it may also be more accurate because I'll be going slower. We'll see. I could just as easily get five blocks into it and say, "Bag it. We're going for speed."

Oh, as for that planned randomness thing? I resorted the pieces tonight. Came up with one extra piece. Go figure. I counted twice. No idea how I made an extra piece. But it does explain some things...

Monday, February 14, 2011

When Random Isn't So Random


IMAG0574.jpg
Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
My MIL's quilt in progress. All the units just waiting patiently to be sewn into blocks. One would think it should be easy. Scrap quilt, you say? Just pick up the pieces at random and sew them together. Just go with the flow, use the force, whatever. And yet...

So I decided the best way to go random would be to "slightly sort" them as I stacked them, so I could get a feel for how each finished block would look. Really, the only thing I was trying to control was not having two fabrics end up in the same block. Although I'm not keen on a bunch of directional prints all ending up in one block either. Or too much green, or too much pink...

So. Planned Randomness.

It was all going swimmingly until the phone rang with a call I had to catch...and I lost track of where I was. I counted the stacks and thought I had caught up with myself, but when I got to the end, I had a couple left over. Which meant the blocks I thought I was forming were all a couple of strips off.

Natch, the second one I checked had two of the same fabrics in it. As did the next....

Bag it. I was just doing this while dinner was cooking anyway--no intent to start sewing tonight. Tomorrow I'll start fresh with new planned randomness.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Show n' Tell--The Peace Quilt is Done!

It's done! Hopefully on its way in tomorrow's mail, if I can get out of my driveway and to the post office. (These drifts are working my last nerve. Think I could crawl in the box with the quilt and ship myself to CA?) This wallhanging will be the topic of my next podcast episode. I learned a lot! I'll hopefully remember at least a third of it!

Here's the front, thanks to my handy-dandy-quilt-hanger, dear daughter. Cutest quilt hanger in the world. Probably also the one that complains the most. I tell her it comes with the territory and to suck up and deal. I believe in reality therapy.

Detail of quilting. Done by machine, used my acu-feed (walking foot). A little tricky to maneuver around some of those corners but the wonkiness is clearly a design choice. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
More detail including border. This picture might be sideways. Sorry.

BTDubs, I did actually quilt in the border, you just can't see it. I went along the black line between each set of blocks horizontally on the sides, vertically on the top and bottom. A little ray pattern in the corners just to hold them square. Nothing fancy. Wanted the focus to stay on the center.

The back. All that leftover yardage from my ill-fated plan to have the peace signs in the border all face the same direction went to good use anyway. And the fabric in the middle is the one coordinate I bought from the peace sign line. Originally thought it might make a cute binding, then I decided it was way too busy for everything else going on. Used it all on the back instead.

My nephew loves the back. He wants a quilt made just like this.

I said no.

During our photo shoot, my quilt hanger discovered a great stained-glass window affect appears when you hold the quilt up to a light. Nifty.
And, of course, the dogs. And DD's polka-dot slippers. It wouldn't be a picture of a quilt without them, now, would it?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Peace Quilt Continued


Peace Quilt Continued
Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
Got the borders on today. Ended up making all sorts of last minute judgment calls that changed my original plans. Even with the extra fabric order, I ultimately didn't have enough fabric to do the directional borders the way I wanted to (with all the peace signs heading in the same direction and no seams interrupting the flow). That meant I no longer really had to do mitered corners--in fact, I decided they probably would look better without since I'd never have gotten the peace sign blocks to line up well anyway. So I just did a much simpler border.

Still had to reverse-sew--aka seam rip--my inner (black) border due to some bad advice. I had read somewhere--don't recall where now--that using a walking foot/acu-feed for piecing would also help keep fabrics lined up well as you were sewing. Not so much. They were fine along the line of the seam but got smudged out of whack horizontally--in other words, one piece of fabric got pushed further away from the sewing line than the other. I'd even pinned! So I ripped it back out and changed back to my regular 1/4" presser foot and had a grand old time.

I just finished sewing about a 1/4" (slightly wider) echo quilt line around the entire peace sign. My original plan was to do that once, and then do a diamond grid for the rest of the background. But as I'm looking at it, I think I'll just keep doing the echo. The grid would never line up straight with the two diagonal bars on the peace sign so I'm better off not messing with it.

I'll finish the quilting tomorrow, get the bindings on Monday, good to go for show n' tell at my guild on Tuesday--and in the mail by Wednesday or Thursday (whenver I finish hand-sewing the binding). Yippee!

Oh--and no worries. The extra fabric went to good use. It now has a pieced backing with the one coordinating fabric I'd bought that I'd originally thought would make an interesting binding (nope--too busy), surrounded by the leftover peace sign fabric divided into two strips. Bingo--none left over!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Success...of a Sort

I mentioned that I had a sizeable stash of 2 1/2" strips...
The strips stacked on the sides are the collection from a couple of years of strip exchanges with my guild and some I picked up as door prizes at the shop hop last summer. I owned about three or four jelly rolls myself, and then the rest came to live with me after my Mom passed away. She'd just hit a sale or something--I found a couple of shipping boxes with bunches of jelly rolls and bundles in her quilt studio. I gave some away to share the wealth. But I kept all the Moda.


So here was the first set I picked out.

The original jelly roll fabrics are in the middle. I chose five strips from my stash that coordinated. I waffled about the deep rose one right next to the strips (on the right) for the longest time, then finally decided it really gave it a nice pop.



And then I measured the strips.



And the deep rose one was several inches too short. Curses. Foiled again.



Back to the drawing board, and this time, my fat quarter collection. I tend to buy my fat quarters as sets of coordinates--more or less. Not always from the same fabric line, but if I pick up a couple that I like, I'll try to make sure I buy two or three others I know will work with them so I've got at least a solid foundation for a project. I always hate to break up a set.

Darn. Ended up choosing the green plaid (on the left) since it was pretty close in tone to the greens in the jelly roll. Not exact, but the white in the plaid makes it less noticeable. It works. Broke up a nice set, though.

And now I miss the deep rose. Sigh.

Off to press and cut...again. But I probably won't get the background cut tonight. I got my shipment today of the rest of the fabric for the border on the peace quilt so that's back up at the top of the "Must-Do" list. Once I get these floral strips cut, I'll be setting this puppy aside for at least a week, I think.

Anyway, problem solved. (Thanks, Jaye, for the offer of fabric, though! Appreciated!)
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dang. And It Was Going So Well...

Another evening in, another opportunity to spend a few hours in my sewing room. Companionably, even, since my daughter is sitting on the floor in my sewing room with her computer (a long story having to do with hitchy wireless and ethernet cables), the two dogs are here, and my son's voice is coming to me out of my computer speakers since tonight's his DJ night on campus radio and I was streaming his show.

I was merrily cutting along to my son's music, not always my taste but I generally find it mostly entertaining. Everything was going swimmingly. His show ended just about as I finished up my last cut. I shut off my computer and went back to my cutting table to neatly stack all the pieces inside labeled plastic bags, when I decided to review the pattern instructions to see what I needed to cut next.

Wait....what? TWO 6-1/2" strips?? I had only seen that I was supposed to cut one of each successively longer size rectangle off of each set of 2 1/2" strips. But apparently I was supposed to cut two of one size, and I hadn't caught it.

I had leftovers of all of strips, of course, so at first I didn't think it would be that big a deal. Pull out what I thought had been scraps, trim it to 6 1/2", call it a day. But darn if five of those scraps weren't too short. Several more have some selvage showing at one end but it's not the white part--it's the part that would pretty much blend in, especially considering seam allowances. I could probably get away with it. But those five, there's no help for it. Even steaming the hey out of them wouldn't get them close enough for horseshoes.

So now I have to decide how to problem-solve. I've got some ideas but, frankly, ran out of steam. My daughter's school woke me up way early this morning with a robo-call to tell us school was closed so I'm about ready to head to bed as it is.

As my Dad always used to say, "Get a good night's sleep...it'll feel better in the morning."

Ok, Dad. Good night.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stash Mystery Challenge project started

I'm still waiting for my order of the border fabric I need for the peace sign quilt, so I took advantage of a night "off" from that to start on my stash mystery challenge project. (The Stash Mystery Challenge is one I'm facilitating for my guild and I'm also running a slightly adapted version on my podcast. Check out the guidelines at www.quiltingfortherestofus.com, on the "Stash Mystery Challenge" tab.) This quarter's theme is "floral."

My take on the theme isn't actually using floral fabrics, although clearly I am. But the pattern I'll be doing makes pieced blocks that look like flowers. Very, very cute. The minute I saw the pattern in the book when I bought it a few years back I knew I wanted to make it for my MIL, but was still trying to clear the decks of so many other projects. I didn't even think about it in terms of this challenge until after I'd already published the challenge theme for the quarter and was trying to decide what I'd do. Doh. Of course!

If I can keep working pretty steadily on it, I should get the top pieced by the deadline of the challenge in early March. If that happens, I can send it off to be long-armed and quite possibly have it back in time to give to my MIL for her birthday in early April.

This quarter's stash mystery challenge involves using at least 2 yards of fabric from your stash. I'm using 3 yards of the whites, plus a jelly roll. I did the math on the jelly roll--it comes out to a little over two yards of fabric. Woop woop! So, not counting backing and binding yet, I'm using over 5 yards of fabric. I did end up being half a yard sort of white to complete what I needed for the background--and, being a good quilter, actually bought a yard so I could have some slush room and put some back in my stash when I'm done. I pretty much depleted my tone-on-tone whites on this one. (You can't tell from this picture, but I think there's three different whites in there, plus a collection of tone-on-tone white strips from a strip exchange we did in our guild several years back.)

I actually made the jaunt out to my LQS for that half yard tonight as soon as I realized I was short--I only live a few minutes from it and since we're due for the same snowstorm covering half our continent tomorrow, I'm thinking I'd rather be snowed in with fabric than without it. Most people run to a grocery store--quilters run to the fabric shop. We have our priorities, after all.