Sunday, April 27, 2014

Astronomical Quilts! block

Have you seen the YouTube video of astronaut Karen Nyberg aboard the International Space Station describing the process of sewing a quilt block in space?  Together with the International Quilt Festival she has invited quilters worldwide to contribute star-themed quilt blocks finishing at 9”  to join with hers in a quilt to be displayed at International Quilt Festival 2014.  Go here for more information. I know Marsha blogged about this and shared her block.

With an astronomer husband how could I not participate?  Here’s my contribution, designed by me.


The center leaf block measures 3” so each patch in it is 1” finished.  I’m not used to piecing that small.  I also ended up paper piecing the 2” square sections for the corner points and complaining about that too.  When I voiced my displeasure with the fussiness of the piecing the astronomer suggested I should take it up with the designer.  Yes, well, the designer part of me likes the design so the piecer part of me just had to carry on!

I really do like the design and I think I might have to make it again in a larger, less fussy size and figure out a way to avoid the paper piecing.

So, will you be making a block to send?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Back where I started

Last week I cut out setting strips for a non-strings version of Sparkling Strings but didn’t get around to sewing because one of the strips was clearly too short and I convinced myself that the logic I used to figure out the sizes must have been wrong and all of the strip sizes must be off.

I spent a couple of days at the end of last week doing math to confirm the quick and easy (maybe too easy?) way I had figured out the sizes in the first place .  My worksheet was a thing of beauty, with geometry and algebra and a touch of trigonometry (anyone else remember SOH CAH TOA?).  And it all brought me back to where I had been in the first place, except for the typo in the size of the unit that was too short…

The whole point was to use a single strip to replace a gazillion white triangles sewn back together to make a pointed strips like this:


As yet another way to check my measurements I made one strip of triangles to measure then was finally satisfied that my strips were cut correctly (except for that pesky strip “G” that started this frenzy of double checking).

Note to self:  Next time just check the piece that’s making trouble instead of assuming everything is messed up.  This seems like the obvious, sane course of action now, in hindsight!

So today I started sewing bits together, and the quilt top is about half done.


When it’s done, the layout will be just like Sparkling Strings:


On a positive note, as I was fussing with all this the last several days I came up with a much better way to explain how to cut the strips than what I had previously written for this pattern in progress, so this will be a much better pattern.  I’m hoping to have it ready for a tester by the end of the week.  If anyone feels like testing it in in the next month or so in return for the pattern, let me know!  It does go together pretty quickly once the cutting is done.

Linking up with Linky Tuesday

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I love it when that happens!

I pondered quite a few different ideas for the quilting in the border of Baby Steps.  I had an idea to use a butterfly stencil, but the scale was off. I thought about straight lines of some sort but decided that curves were needed to adjust the balance of straight lines to swirls (all straight line quilting in the blocks and just a bit of swirl in the star).

When I finally settled on trying to create a pattern with circles I dug through my envelope of cutout circles to see if any of them fit or if I would have to draft a new one.  There it was: a corrugated cardboard circle I saved from the packaging my pots and pans came in.  Here’s the part I love about it.  Just as though I had planned it that way, the diameter was exactly right to run this border all around the quilt without stretching or squashing any of the circles to make the repeats fit. It just fit exactly as it was! I’m glad I settled on that 1/2” inner border instead of the 1” one I had considered!



The pattern even wrapped around the corners with no fudging at all.  Happy dance!

In other creative directions, there have been birthdays in this house in the last two weeks which of course required birthday cakes.


IMG_7889Every year I wonder when the kids will be old enough that I can get away with not decorating the cakes, but I’m coming around to the idea that that isn’t going to happen!  At least now they assist with decorating each other’s cakes.  While my daughter was away at a sleepover my son, husband and I had a fondant sculpting party to make those penguins as a surprise for her. The Craftsy fondant animals cake topper class we watched made it seem very simple.  We managed, but it took us way longer than it took the instructor!


The LEGO minifigs (from a Craftsy blog tutorial) were a bit more challenging.  That’s why there are fewer of them than there were penguins!  I also tried to make the ladder out of fondant, but in the end a surreptitious raid of my son’s LEGO bins was more effective.

Back to the quilting now.  Today I may cut out the setting pieces for the non-string remake of Sparkling Strings. We’ll see how the day goes.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I have a stash???

I recently was surprised to discover that I have a small but usable fabric stash.  Really, I was surprised.  I usually buy just what I need for whatever quilt I’m making and there is usually just a bit left over.  The bits started adding up, but for a long time I felt they were all just so different that there just weren’t enough pieces that went together to make anything. Was that collection really a stash?

Recently I realized I might have enough pieces, but those pieces were all small and were the last bits of some fabrics I really liked.  I didn’t want to use up the last bits because, well, they might be just the perfect piece for some project down the line.

Finally I had that little moment of clarity that whispered “What are you saving the fabric for?  Ummm…a quilt???”  So I dug through the bin of bright and novelty fabrics that I was saving and made a quilt.  Here’s the unquilted top of Baby Steps.


And you know what?  It hardly made a dent in the bins of fabric. My variety of yellows and lighter purples is a little lower than it was before.  I had a little moment of panic when I realized I was using up the last of that really cute purple dragonfly fabric but I survived and now it is in a quilt which is what I was saving it for anyway. There are still a few quilt tops’ worth of fun fabrics in those bins.  And you know there will be new additions to refresh the variety at some point.


Today is a gorgeous day (finally!) so I’m going outside to do yard work, but I believe there is rain in the forecast for the next couple of days so this quilts might get sandwiched and quilted by the middle of the week.