Monday, July 21, 2014

Taming scraps - again

Wait, didn’t I do this already?  I distinctly remember in January 2013 I attacked the scrap bin with the intention of cutting all those bits into useful sizes, à la Quiltville’s scrap user’s system.  By April I posted that the bin was empty!  I promptly used the bin for something else so I wouldn’t be tempted to let the untrimmed scraps pile up again.

I did pretty well for a while.  When I cut fabric for a project, I cut down the small leftovers right away.  I was very pleased with myself, yet somewhere along the way the scraps started reproducing.  All by themselves, I’m sure.  When I was tidying up my quilting corner last week, I found this:

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I don’t remember tossing all those scraps in there.  Well, not that many, anyway.

So, I’ve been spending some time every day sorting and cutting these down.  At least this bin is smaller than the one I tackled last year! As you can see, I’m making progress: the piles of strings, strips, bricks and squares are growing and the level in the bin is going down.

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Now I need to start a new project so I can put this bin to work storing the new project, hopefully depriving any new untrimmed scraps of breeding grounds.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Green and blooming

Unlike the past 2 or 3 tears, we have had rain this summer.  yay!  My garden is looking happy for the first time in a long while so I thought I’d share. 

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The tipsy pots!  Love these.

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Daisies and blanket flowers flanking a barrel full of celosia and purple sweet potato vine.  The yellow coreopsis behind the daisies started blooming after I took the picture.

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Daylilies.  Their bloom time is almost over now, but they have been splashing their color around for the last month or so.

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Purple fountain grass, coreopsis, coneflower.  Sweet potato vine, lilies and daisies.  Black-eyed Susan (very late to bloom this year, just starting).

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Phlox. Sunflower.

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Asiatic lilies.  One of these years we’ll manage to keep the rabbits from stripping all the leaves off the stems so these beauties might have a chance to multiply and come up in gorgeous bunches instead of single blooms.

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The swing set birdfeeder.  My son built the storage bench in the background with guidance from my dad last month.  The sunflowers are volunteers planted by the birds.  We pulled a lot of sprouts but left a few to fill in blank spots and bloom and make the birds happy.  They like to pluck the seeds out of the flower centers.

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Coreopsis, daisies and feather reed grass. The daisy clumps are all blooming heavily now, even prettier, which I suppose begs the question why I didn’t go out and take another picture…but it’s dark now, so these pictures will have to do for now.

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The castle, now a glorified planter.  By the end of summer the German ivy in the tower will be spilling halfway down the tower.

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Behind this volunteer sunflower is half the veggie garden. Honestly, the volunteer sunflowers look better and sturdier than the ones we planted on purpose.  Next year I think we’ll skip the seed packets and take our chances with the birdseed!

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You can see we have a bit of a gnome problem.  There must be at least half a dozen out there plotting to infiltrate the house.

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In past years the impatiens I planted around these hostas completely covered the ground with mounds of color.  I think the past years’ flowers have used up the nutrients in the soil and I didn’t add enough compost this spring to replenish it.  Note for next spring…

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Herbs and marigolds in early June, then late June.  And another gnome.

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Lilies and switch grass below the deck. Sweet potato vine, red salvia, annual vinca and marigolds in the boxes.  The sweet potato is finally spilling over like I wanted it to, unlike the sorry (or perhaps just thirsty) specimens from the last couple of years.

That’s about it.  There’s also a lovely little shaded corner with a small patio and Adirondack chairs, but the rabbits, and possibly some deer, have wreaked havoc there this year so it looks a little sorry.  I haven’t been inspired to pull out the camera to document the nibbling (well, more like feasting than nibbling).

How is your garden growing this summer?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sparkling Strings pattern available

Finally, the Sparkling Strings pattern is available in my Craftsy shop!  Yay! 

As part of the process, I asked a friend to test the pattern for me.  She offered some great suggestions to improve clarity.  Thanks, Kathy!  Here’s what she had to say about making her version. 

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photo 2I had a lot of fun making this quilt.  Using my daughter's suggestion, I chose to make the stars from reds and golds, the colors of my beloved Iowa State Cyclones!  So, I started by looking in my stash; then, of course, I ended up at a fabric store.  I decided to use nine different red and seven different gold fabrics for the stars.  Normally, I wouldn't choose a stark white fabric for a background.  However, I found that the one I used not only made the stars pop, but the gold swirls in it added an overall soft, circular pattern to the quilt.

Cutting out the various pieces for this quilt was a new challenge for me.  I had never before used a 60 degree triangular ruler (even though I had purchased one a long time ago.)   Well, I fell in love cutting with the ruler and would recommend it to all quilters as an essential tool for the trade.  The ruler helped the cutting go quickly.  I was surprised at the precise triangle- and diamond-shaped pieces it produced, without much thought or fuss.

photo 1To sew the quilt pieces and rows together, I laid them out on a bed.  The visual in the pattern not only helped me see what pieces went where, but also showed me the correct order in which to sew the pieces together.  One may think that sewing star points to end up pointed would be tricky, but I found that the easiest part of this pattern! And I was amazed at how fast the star top sewed together!

Once the star top was done, I decided that borders were a must.   But, because I had gotten so carried away cutting triangles, I didn't have many scraps for the scrappy red outer border.  My mom came to the rescue, suggesting for me to use the scrappy pieces near the corners and a larger piece of fabric in each center and corner of the outer border.  It was surprising how the stars popped out even more once both borders were added.

I have decided to donate this quilt to my church for an auction.  But, because it turned out so nice and I had so much fun making it, I plan to make a second one for myself.  After all, I already have enough triangles cut and ready to go!!!

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Thank again for your help and input, Kathy.

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I’m enjoying looking at the three different quilts, all from the same pattern.  In my mind’s eye I can see it in 1930s reproduction prints, or lovely rich batiks, or bold modern prints… I think any fabric would shine in this quilt, as a string version or a solid version.  What would you choose?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Presenting Sparkling Trail

It’s done!  Binding on and everything! (Oops, everything except a label.)  I’ve named it Sparkling Trail.  The pattern is Sparkling Strings, but as you can see there are no strings at all in this version, so it needed a new name.
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I debated quilting more heavily in the stars but I really wanted them to be floating in front of the spirals.  When I quilted too much in the stars they receded to the same layer as the background, so I decided to mostly stitch in the ditch, with just a bit of outline quilting.
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For the borders I finally decided to quilt sets of 60 degree lines in the corners and join the corners with plain straight lines.  Once that was done I thought the plain straight lines looked a little stark, so I stitched a few sets of 60 lines randomly through them.  That broke up the border nicely and echoed the straight lines in the quilt.  I had trouble getting the full effect to show up in the photos though. They look more effective as a whole than in bits.  You can see a bit of it in the next picture.
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The quilt measures 59” x 75”.  After much testing and editing and wrestling with diagrams, the pattern (featuring both string and no-string versions) will be available for purchase in my Craftsy store this week, after a last round of proofreading.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE: The pattern is now available!  Whoop whoop!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It’s on the wall!

I just realized I never shared a picture of my completed Canada Quilt after I finished it in January.  I was waiting to get it hung on the wall.  My dad made a quilt hanger especially for it (thanks Dad!) and brought it on his recent visit.  Here it is, filling a space on the very plain wall at the top of the stairs.

Canada Quilt - designed, pieced and hand quilted by Joanne Kerton

It hangs straighter than I hoped for, which is nice.  I think when I get around to inserting a dowel into the little corner pockets on the back of the quilt that tiny ripple will be taken care of. 

Canada quilt detail collage

I’m so happy to finally enjoy this one out on display!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Interrupted Spirals

IMG_8378Yay!  I finished quilting the background spirals on my red and green star quilt yesterday.  It was a bit tedious but I think it was worth it in the end.  I still have to figure out what to quilt in the borders, so there isn’t a finished quilt to show yet, but in the meantime I thought you might enjoy a quick explanation of how I marked (or didn’t mark) the spirals.

These large spirals were inspired by the ones demonstrated by Jacquie Gering in her Craftsy class “Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot”.  She only marks the center circle and the line that extends from that circle to the next round.  From there, she just quilts a set distance away from the previously stitched round, around and around in a spiral without stopping.

IMG_8381I used a guide arm that attaches to my walking foot, lining it up with the stitched line, to keep my needle a more-or-less constant distance from the previously stitched line.  (This picture was taken after the fact, so just imagine that line of stitching in front of the needle isn’t there yet.)

As I wrote in my previous post, I wanted the stars to float on top of the background spirals, which required the spirals to stop at the star fabric and continue in the next bit of white background.  Without stitching in the star, I lost the guide for where the curve should land once the spiral reached the diamonds on the far side of the star.  After trying to guesstimate (unsuccessfully) and mark (also not very successfully)  I decided to go ahead and stitch away on the stars as I went around the spiral, use those stiched lines as my guides, then rip those stitches out once I didn’t need them as guides anymore.

What???  Trust me, it wasn’t as awful as it sounds!  Here are the details.

Interrupted spiral stitch sizes

1. Just before reaching the star, I changed my stitch length to .5 to make about 10 tiny stitches to secure the line of stitching. 

2. Without breaking the thread I the changed to the largest stitch length my machine allows and stitched merrily across the star fabric. 

3. When I reached white background again, I once again switched to the tiny stich to secure the line of stitching, then to a normal quilting stitch length (I usually choose 3 on my machine), then back to the tiny stich again just before reaching the next bit of star fabric. 

4. I continued on in this way, changing stitch lengths as needed, stitching continuously around and around the spiral.

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5. Once the spiral extended as far as I wanted it to, I took out the seam ripper and ripped out those large stitches on the star fabric.

Because they were such large stitches they were very easy and quick to remove.  The tiny stitches at the beginning and end of each line stitched in the white kept those parts secured even as I ripped out the rest.  You can see in the picture above that I forgot to set a larger length in the red on that last round  Ahem! That line came out, just not as easily as the rest, so if you try this interrupted spiral don’t forget to switch stitch lengths!

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That’s it for the interrupted spirals.  Now to go choose something appropriate for the borders….

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It always takes longer…

IMG_8338Last Friday I woke up inspired to quilt the red and green stars quilt.  Then I remembered I needed to prepare the backing and snip any fraying threads off the back of the top(any loose threads would definitely show through all that white).  That took up any quilting time I had that day.  Then the weekend came, but I at least managed to baste the quilt by Sunday night.

Yesterday I was off to a wonderful start.  Stitching in the ditch went more smoothly and quickly than I expected.  I expected that to take longer than it did and when it didn’t I became convinced that I would get most of the quilting done by the end of the day.  Oh well.  Hope springs eternal.  Maybe today?

Here’s a peek at what I’m doing in the open spaces and behind the stars.

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 Breaking the spiral at the stars and continuing it in the next white space is trickier than I expected. I’m striving for the impression that the stars are floating in front of the spiral.  Now I’m wondering if it’s worth the trouble, but I’m committed to it by this point (or maybe I should be committed?) so I’m off to wrestle the quilt again.

Linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River