Friday, December 8, 2023

Quick gift project

Last weekend I made a set of coasters for my quilt guild's holiday gift exchange.  It was fairly quick, and I dug into my Christmas  fabric scraps to start getting into the holiday spirit.  A little bit of Christmas music on Spotify helped get me in the right frame of mind.

These use fabric squares folded into rectangles or triangles and no patchwork piecing.  I made some with the 4-patch design years ago.  I don't remember exactly where I found the tutorial at the time, but it may have been this one from the blog Quilt Piecer.  This year I saw the variation using folded triangles at AppleGreen Cottage here.  

I chose to add batting inside my coasters, which made them a little thicker, and made it harder to get crisp corners.  It bothered me especially on the triangle variation because the triangle points didn't end up quite in the corners as you would see in a pieced quarter-square triangle unit (QST). 

Though the tutorials didn't call for it, I added topstitching to embellish each coaster.  It helped make them less floppy, as well as drawing my eye away from those troublesome points.

I also added batting.  One tutorial suggested leaving it out, while the other used fusible fleece.  I just used scraps of 80/20 Quilter's Dream batting.  I will say fusing it to the fabric for the back of the coaster would have made things easier.  If I made these again, I might use just a touch of basting spray to keep the batting in place while I stitched around everything.  Not a huge deal though, and I could have used pins.  I just chose to skip them.

Another tip if you use batting:  pay attention to the order to stack the batting and assorted fabric pieces.  You stack the pieces, sew around the edges, then turn the whole thing inside out.  If you stack the batting inside,  between the fabrics at the start, you'll end up with batting on the outside of the coaster when you turn things inside out.  No need to ask me how I know.  Just look at the picture:

That's what happens when I don't read the directions and don't think through what exactly I'm trying to accomplish. This led to a little grumbling and seam ripping, but I really had no one to blame but myself.  

I gifted these at the guild gift exchange, and received a lovely hot pad, chocolate-peanut clusters and a jar of marmalade.  Not a bad trade, I think.  There isn't much of the chocolate left, and the marmalade will be lovely on my breakfast toast.

And I think I need to make myself a set of  coasters to keep...

What's your quick go-to gift project?  Or do you have an ornament pattern you particularly like?  I haven't decided  what to add to our tree for 2023, so I'm open to suggestions.

Happy quilting, 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Sliding Screens got me sewing again

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post or sent an email.  Your encouragement meant a lot, and spurred me on to a weekend of sewing.  Yay!

This post is later than anticipated, because once I started working in the sewing room to move the winning project forward I lost track of time.  Also, when I emerged from my sewing frenzy I had the sudden and inexplicable urge to deal with some life stuff that I had been actively avoiding - vacuuming, groceries, bookkeeping, folding laundry.  Honestly, actually wanting to do those things happens rarely so I figured I should just go with it and get those done.

So, feeling all organized in other parts of life (not all, but I'll take what I can get), I'm sitting at my desk ready to share Sliding Screens, the top vote getter. Here's where it stood last week.

Sliding Screens (pattern coning soon) in progress

I've been thinking about ways to showcase a large scale print for a while now.  There are some prints that are just too fun to cut down into small pieces for an intricate block where the piecing is the star.  Sometimes, you want the fabric to be the focus.  As many of you suggested, you could also use a small panel (the center is 20" x 27") or fussy cut part of a larger panel to fit.

Ooh, or how about an improv scrappy pieced panel for the center ?

I digress.

I chose to showcase these Cafe Culture prints from Northcotts's 2021 collections. They have been on my shelf for two years and it seemed time to use them.  A larger scale print might have been even better for the center, but this is what I had on hand, and when seen in actual size rather than the tiny scale in a photo that center fabric is great.

 Here's a closer look at the prints.  I'm not even a coffee drinker, but I love these.  

The quilt is essentially a set of borders around a center. I considered constructing it like a large log cabin, but the sashing got trickier that way.  Rounds of borders worked better. The pattern will include a page of tips on measuring and adding borders to minimize the risk of a puffy center or friendly (wavy) borders.  

My preferred method of measuring borders is to lay the border strip directly on the quilt and mark it.  I just wasn't very accurate when I used a measuring tape to mark the length on a strip, and quilting rulers are just not long enough.  Just sewing a longer strip to the quilt and hacking off the extra is easy, but sometimes leads to wonky quilts if one layer stretches more than the other.  

(Side thought:  Should I write a tutorial post about borders? Let me know if you think it would be useful.)

Sliding Screens quilt top (pattern coming soon)

I'm sure you can guess it didn't take me days to add the final rounds to finish the top, but after getting that done I still had some sewing energy left.  I made a little something for a gift exchange at my guild.  I haven't gifted them yet, so I'll hold off sharing for now.  Let me just say, the order in which you layer fabrics and batting does in fact make a difference.  More on that later :)

After the gift sewing, I was still in the sewing headspace and didn't want to waste it, so I started thinking about a backing for Sliding Screens.  Might I have enough to piece a back and skip a trip to the local shop? Checking my fabric shelves, I was surprised to fin a full bin of brown leftovers ranging from yardage (all under 1 yard) to small scraps.  Honestly I was surprised how much was in there, because brown is not a go-to color for me.  I can identify some of the fabrics from Starlit Courtyard and one from Connecting Geese (whose finish it seems I never shared on this blog).  Otherwise, I'm drawing a blank.

I decided to start with the WOF pieces I had available and add in panels made from the smaller scraps. 

Quilt back in progress

I have to say I think I had more fun working on the back than the front, though it is taking shape more slowly than the simple front. You can see above the stripes I made with yardage, and the start of the smaller pieced panels.  I considered making traditional blocks for the middle part, but decided that wouldn't use up enough of the odd sized scraps in the brown bin.  Improv slab blocks aren't fussy about scrap sizes, so I started making those.  I've said it before, it's counter-intuitive but improv blocks take me longer to make than planned ones.  It's a fun, no-pressure creative activity though.

I'll share more about the back later.  For now, I'm off to the annual guild potluck, where I will gift my weekend project and partake of too much good food.

Happy quilting,

When you make a purchase from my Etsy shop from a link in this post, I may receive a refund of some of the transaction fees Etsy usually charges me for a sale.  There is no additional cost to you.

Friday, December 1, 2023

What should I share next? (help, please!)

For the last several weeks, maybe even a couple of months I've been either severely unmotivated to do anything at all, or jumping from task to task, not ever settling on one to actually do.  

That's not quite right  I did manage some sewing. Not as much as I would like, because I'd head down to my office/sewing space and feel guilty for not having done all that other stuff, so then I'd dither about the other stuff and not sew.  But, I did in fact sew a little, and I have some earlier projects I never got around to sharing, so I have projects to share but that decision paralysis is a little bit crippling.  

Could you help me out?  I'm going to post a few pictures below.  Please let me know what you'd like to read about first.  I'll tally up the replies and get writing next week.   I'm hoping that will help me crack this lack of motivation and decision problem. Your votes, please and thank you!

 Rosie thanks you in advance.  My restlessness as I wrestle with indecision is interrupting her naps.


Here are five current possible post topics.

1. Quartz Clusters remake

2. New pattern test quit - Sliding Screens is for small panels or a large scale focus print

3. Color value woes part 1

4. Color value woes part 2

5. Christmas cookies - not quilting but, hey, it's cookies :)

There you have it.  Let me know which one intrigues you the most.  Even if you also can't decide, please share your strategies to get out of a slump. 

Take care and happy quilting,