Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Needs simmering

I finished all 36 blue drunkard’s path blocks.  I started getting the hang of them again near the end of the stack. Now I need to figure out what to do with them.

My original intention was to remake Autumn moons as Winter Moons.  This plan is what got me started on the whole snowflake adventure last fall, though the snowflake adventure took on a life of its own totally separate from this.  I thought I could change the color scheme and replace the leaf blocks with different blocks for different seasons.  Here’s a look at that on the wall.

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Hmm.  This isn’t soaring. The snowflakes definitely would need to be larger.  Maybe Snowflake 3, version 2 would have more “oomph” .  Also, I think the color values aren’t quite right.  I think my lights are all too similar, or I need more medium/lights mixed in.  Yes, the colors values will definitely need tweaking if I pursue this any further.  Of course borders would help, but I don’t like this enough at this point to spend too much time piecing border units.  Maybe I’ll come back to it.

After that ho-hum reaction to what I threw on the wall, I scrambled up the units and came up with a few different layouts unrelated to snowflakes.

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Of the three, I think the first has the most potential, though the others might work if I made a few more units to be able to fine tune value placement a bit more.  Still, It’s missing something though I’m not sure what, so I am going to put all these units in a box for now.  Maybe I need to let go of symmetry.  Maybe I’ll end up tossing in another color.  We’ll see what happens after everything simmers for a little while.

As an antidote to all this indecision, I am going to go sew with some yellow, grey and black fabrics, putting together a very straightforward quilt that I have all planned out.  I sure hope this one cooperates and works out as well in fabric as in my head!  At least the first block did (unless you’re not a fan of yellow). The block is 20” square so it will work up to a nice sized quilt very quickly.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Meet Rosie

Look who came home from the animal shelter with us today.

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Meet Rosie.  She is a 3 year old maltese/papillon mix.  She is a little bundle of energy and despite her small size will be a good running buddy for the kids.  It remains to be seen whether she will be a good quilting buddy, as she only came home today and hasn’t had time to settle in yet.  Right now she’s a bit restless and whines to go out, then in, them out, then in…

We’ll get the hang of each other, then we’ll see if she’s a quilter dog or not!  One thing is certain.  Quilts will get washed rather more frequently now, as Rosie sheds a lot!  We had firm intentions to get a non-shedding or at least low-shedding dog, but just look at her!  And she has a very sweet, trusting disposition too. The only thing that would have made us leave her behind was allergies, but hubby played with her and was fine so she came home!

On to quilty things…

When I washed my Geese Across the Table placemats they shrank all wonky. I probably should have quilted them more evenly or prewashed the fabrics, or both.  In any case, after the shrinkage I needed a new set to use as a sample.  I hadn’t had a good dose of working with blues in a while so that’s what I pulled for the new samples.

Geese Across the Table set in blue batiks

Because of the previous shrinking fiasco, I made a point of washing these fabrics first.  In hindsight, since they are all batiks, they probably had no shrinking left to do.  I’m still glad they had a spin in the washer though.  I tossed in TWO Color Catcher sheets and this is how they looked afterwards:

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For anyone that doesn’t know, Color Catcher sheets start out white.  I’m keeping these on my bulletin board as a reminder of why I should prewash!  I didn’t prewash for years, but I’m becoming a convert. 

Now I’m off to sew a bit, if I can decide what project to work on.  I have some blue drunkard’s path blocks in progress, but as much as I loved the fabrics together before I cut them, I’m not so sure I like them in this block.

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This is just a random layout, not what they are intended for.  I’m not sure my initial plan is going to work, so it may morph after I have all 36 blocks made and I can play around a bit more.

I also have a few projects in the works that I can’t share quite yet.  One is in yellows/blacks/greys.  Another is in summer colors, and possibly repeated in fall or Christmas ones as well. 

The drunkard’s paths’ curves are a bit more fiddly than I remembered from the last time I made some. One of the un-shared projects is very straightforward while another has lots of points to match, so I have plenty of choice.  There’s also still some hand quilting to do on the kaleidoscope quilt. I just have to decide what colors and/or challenge level I want to play with today.

Or I could go play with the dog!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Owl finish

When I tried all-over freemotion designs on a practice quilt sandwich, I always had trouble keeping the scale consistent, and I would paint myself into a corner, or my design would morph into something else by the time I finished.  This made me a little wary of trying it out on an actual quilt.  What if I messed up?

This little baby quilt, however, was very vocal about how it wanted to be quilted. It wanted all-over swirls.  I thought up all sorts of straight line walking-foot options, but nothing stuck.  The quilt was very clear:  SWIRLS if you don’t mind.  Well, I do mind, but OK already.

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I googled free-motion swirl tutorials, watched a few and finally got my a-ha! moment when I stumbled on this one from APQ, with Angela Walters explaining.  The reminder that it is OK to stop (with the needle down of course!) and think about where to go next and how to get there was just what I needed.  The swirl design she demonstrated isn’t all curves.  There are points where you finish one swirl and start on the next, so stopping doesn’t involve the risk of spoiling a smooth curve, which always happens to me when I stop mid-curve.

Deep breath. Feed dogs down.  Another deep breath.

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This very first bit I quilted, in the pink, is the best on the whole quilt.  I never quite got it that pretty again, but overall it looks pretty good.  I stopped a lot.  And ranted about breaking thread.  And quilted myself into corners a few times despite my planning.  But it’s done and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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Ms. Owl was stitched in the ditch around all her parts with a triple frame in the background.
I used Invisafil thread. I really like the way it blends with all the fabrics so that what you notice is the quilted texture, not the thread.  When the thread kept breaking (well, shredding, actually) I switched to Aurifil but didn’t like the way the thread stood out on the colors, so I picked it out and went back to the Invisafil.

Here’s the back, in fun alphabet prints:

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I even remembered to put the labels on when I put on the binding.  One label has the quilt info, and the other has signatures from all the folks pitching in to give this gift.  The quilt will be delivered tonight.  I hope baby Isabel enjoys it!

And now to go try and get better pictures of it before I don’t have access to it anymore!

Linking up with Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Frosty border

Those of you who are buried under feet of snow probably aren’t very interested in snowflakes right now, but I’ve been thinking of how to pair my snowflake blocks with other pieced elements.

Lara over at Buzzin Bumble posted about some very pretty mini Delectable Mountain blocks a few weeks ago, and shared a free tutorial and paper foundations.  At first glance it doesn’t seem that this block could be paper pieced  but Lara uses a very clever technique to make it work.  The paper foundation can even be printed double-sided so that you have guide lines and sewing lines on both sides of your paper.  No more guessing where to place your fabric!

Here’s my sample block. It is 2 1/2” x 4 1/2” to finish at 2” x 4”.

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Here’s one way I’m thinking of using more of them with snowflakes.

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The problems begin when I try to figure out how to find the time to fit in another project…  Oh well, what’s one more project on the list of planned quilts?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Baby needs brights!

“Baby” would be the Scout leader’s new daughter, not me!  Though playing with some bright fabrics this week has lifted my spirits, so maybe I needed brights too.  There isn’t any big reason for the blahs I needed lifting out of, just assorted small annoyances and winter in general.  Oh, and shattering the plastic casing on the car’s tail light and finding out you can’t replace just the casing, you have to buy the whole assembly.  Sigh.

Let’s not dwell on that, shall we?  Back to the cheerful brights.  Here’s what I have on my design wall right now.

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The owl is only fused on right now.  I need to go buy purple thread to stitch it down.  Still, I wanted to see if he worked with the blocks the way I hoped he would, so up on the wall he went.  I like it!

I didn’t like what I started out with.  I saw this quilt by SewCraftyJess on Moda Bake Shop and liked the blocks.  I made a test block to be sure I liked it before cutting into my stash.

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It took only an hour to get all my cut pieces sewn into units. The large squares with the white strip get cut down the middle to make the rectangular units below in the lower left, so I was able to substitute two rectangles for the square when my scraps wouldn’t yield the 5” square the pattern called for.

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Clearly, it’s not a good idea to be too excited about quick progress.  Progress slowed down to a crawl when I started putting pieces up on the design wall to decide which fabrics to put together in each block.

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Ummmm.  Nope.  This wasn’t working for me! I stared at the wall. I moved things around. I stared some more.  Two hours’ worth of staring and shuffling pieces around yielded this.

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Better.  Did I really need to unpick my sample block to match the block center to the block frame?  Maybe not.  I went to bed and let it simmer a bit.

When I came back to it in the morning I decided that in the grand scheme of things, taking a few minutes to rip a few seams was not a  big deal.  The result was good enough to encourage me to assemble all the blocks.  Of course, assembled blocks were bound to look crisper and therefore better!  Once I had them assembled it was easier to play around with block orientation, too.  I decided I liked them better going in all one direction, instead of the varied directions in the original pattern, and that vertical pleased my eye more than horizontal.

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I had intended to piece a butterfly block to insert in the blank place.  I found a good tutorial at Four Wise Monkeys for a pretty pieced block, but in the end I decided it wouldn’t pop.  Then I thought I could do a reverse image, with a white butterfly over a colored block background.  I tried it in EQ first, and it wasn’t looking quite as I hoped.  How about a heart?  I looked at pieced heart patterns, then decided I could applique a heart, since I learned to do that over Christmas.

Well, if I’m going to applique…I just had to make the owl from Five Sprouts Stitching again, because he’s so gosh darned cute.  It’s a baby quilt.  Cute is good!

I enlarged the pattern to fit the space and spent an hour dithering over what colors he should be.  I decided purple would work best and held my breath as I rooted through the small pile of purples in my stash, hoping to find a piece large enough for the owl’s body. Success!

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I’m pleased with how it is working out!  The owl seems less lost in person, trust me.  Now I need to go add sashing and decide if this quilt needs borders.  I suppose I need to choose backing fabric too.  Time to step away from the computer!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Just a little push

My son’s bed quilt is wearing out.  When he told me there were new tears, I asked him to mark them with safety pins so I could find them to mend them.  I was taken aback at the number of pins.  He said he stopped counting at 15.  I looked the quilt over and added more.  I think I stopped counting at 40.  And I found more while I was fixing the marked ones. Sigh. 

Matthew's braid quilt shredding Feb 2015

To be clear, he has loved and used but not abused his quilt.  There were just a few questionable fabrics in there.  Also, as I was advised not to prewash precuts (these were from a jelly roll), fabrics shrank at different rates.  Batiks didn’t shrink at all, so they just folded over at the seams and those folds wore out and the fabric shredded.  Some of the batiks were more affected than others.

I spent the afternoon stitching decorative stitches over the shredded bits to try to extend the quilt’s life a little more.  Here’s what the back looks like now.  Those aren’t worms, but lines of stitching. 

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That’s a lot of worn spots, and just a little push to start hand quilting a bit more diligently on the replacement quilt!

Here’s the progress on that:

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I do have a tiny bit of border done on the left side too.  I tried to take a picture of what I’m trying in the border, but the lighting wasn’t very good to take a picture of quilting in black thread on black fabric.

Enough chatting! I need to go make more progress!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Once again in 1930s prints

When I started quilting I always intended to make a quilt in 1930’s reproduction prints.  It’s only taken me 15 years to get there!

I usually gravitate to bright colors, and working with these more subdued prints was a bit of a challenge because they don’t pop in the same way as the fabrics I usually work with.  That said, I love how this version of Sparkling Trail worked out!

Sparkling Trail in 1930s prints

The colors are better in person, and obviously this still needs to be quilted.

Initially I planned to make each star monochromatic.  Even taking into account the poor late-night lighting in the picture below you can tell it looked a bit bland. I tried centers in one fabric and points in a matching fabric.  I tried mixing points and centres.

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In the end, I concluded that these 1930’s prints work best in truly scrappy mode.

Closeup of Sparkling Trail in 1930s prints

That’s why I opted to make the border from small squares rather than longer scrap chunks as I have for other versions of this quilt.

Reaction in the household was mixed.  Hubby loved it.  He said it made him think of front porch swings in the summer and picket fences (not that we have any such things, but I know what he means).  My son, on the other hand, commented on how these were not my usual fabrics and he wasn’t sure he’d like to look at them all the time.  He’s a teen boy, of course he wouldn’t!  His room is safe.  The quilting of the black and bright kaleidoscope quilt for his bed is coming along.

Linking up with

Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts