February 12, 2013

I Blame My Chair

It's not my fault that I started another quilt.  Really.  It just happened.  I was being good, working on the backing for my French General UFO, and began straightening up the sewing room.  (no good deed goes unpunished)

When I put the Kaffe fabrics away in their bin drawer, the drawer was very tight--I really had to jamb them in.  Later when flipping through an older issue of Quilt Sampler (Spring/Summer 2011), I happened on this photo:

The quilt in this photo is made with Kaffe fabrics. Making this quilt would make more room in my Kaffe bin, wouldn't it?

 It was meant to be.  I immediately started cutting squares and arranging the squares on the design board.  (Right over the French General hexagons.)

There were a few technical difficulties (not having enough of a couple of the fabrics, and having to track down more and work a little creative cutting magic).  Don't look too closely below, or you might see where I had to "create" one more piece of the red.  (that blue arrow points to the extra seam) 
I am down to only scraps of a couple of these fabrics now. (And yet that Kaffe bin is still too tightly stuffed.  Weird.)  The top is together--it went really quickly.  I just need to do the borders--and you know how I hate to do borders. 
Sunday, I started clearing my cutting area to have room to cut the borders, and sitting on my cutting board was this lonely pile of fabrics, just waiting for me to finish.  They looked so Valentine's-ish.  I've been collecting fabrics in red/pink/black for awhile, and had promised them I would do something with them this Valentine's Day.  (The group really came together when I found some by Robin Zingone named Stockholm in lipstick. They just sing red and pink.)
Sigh.  You know what happened.  Pretty soon the fabrics were being cut into hexagons.  And now, the design wall looks like this.
I blame it on my chair.  Pink chairs are a dangerous influence! (It was a bargain from Staples last September--and though I know it won't hold up to hard use, I couldn't resist!)
And I will cut the borders today--I will. I will. I will!  Right after I clear a spot on the cutting table--again!
Happy stitching!

February 11, 2013

Building "Block" Fun

When you realize your sewing room is jam packed with close to a million unfinished projects, you catch the flu, feel thoroughly depressed, and have lost your quilting mojo, what do you do?
You start something new, of course!  Something low stress and colorful and just for fun! 
Pinned Image
  In January, I decided as a personal pick-me-up I'd make a “quick” little project, and sew a baby quilt for a neighbor's first grandbaby.  
I had previously purchased the pattern, Building Fun, from Geta who blogs at Geta's Quilt Studio.  Bright and cheerful, it was the perfect project!   (I borrowed this photo from Pinterest--my pattern copy is a bit mutilated)
The instructions were clear, the blocks went together easily, and it was fun picking the fabrics for each block.  I decided to use only fabric from stash, and finally used a few pieces by Keiko Goko that I have been hoarding.  I chose black/white polka dots for the border, but I think it would have been fun to use a bit smaller polka dot for the backgrounds (didn't think of that until it was done).
The pattern calls for machine appliqué of the circles/centers, but I didn’t want to worry about colors showing through the white, so I sewed them using reverse appliqué, which worked really well.   I’d definitely recommend the pattern. (and I'm not connected in any way)

Even though the pattern went together well, the backing proved to be a challenge for my stash.  The top was too large for one width of the fabric to cover it.  Every piece of baby suitable fabric that I had was either too small, the wrong colors, or directional so it couldn’t be turned sideways.  Very irritating!  If I’d been thinking, I would have bought some Minkie and been done. 

But instead, since I had leftover strips from the blocks and leftover triangles from piecing the buildings, I decided I would piece of few of the fabrics together for a back.  Simple, right?  Ummm, NO.

The back was going fine until I measured and cut everything the wrong length--way, WAY short.  I had been going to run the piecing up and down, but that wasn't going to work with the short pieces.  So a new design and more piecing was necessary.  And more unpicking. 
I didn’t think to take photos during the process, but it’s a good thing you couldn’t hear what I said when I realized that I had cut everything too short.  Here’s what I finally ended up with:
The little bear fabric in the center is about 20+ years old, so it's nice to finally use some of it.  I like the way it eventually turned out, but when I look at it, it says “girl” to me--just too much pink.  And, the neighbor’s baby is going to be a boy.   After I thought about it awhile, I decided that my neighbor's grandbaby is going to absolutely love to read—books make good baby gifts, right? 
And feeling guilty for starting something new, (and on a roll piecing backs), I pulled out one of my many UFO tops (French General Reine des Abeilles), and started piecing a back for it with a few of the leftover hexagons.  (I needed something to join the two widths of fabric for the back.) 
(And here's where I have to admit that while these hexagons were up on the design wall, I started ANOTHER quilt right over them.  More on this one in the next post!)

I did manage to finally finish the French General hexagon back last night, and it's all bundled up with the quilt, ready to go to the quilter.  (And, yes, I forgot to photograph it, so you'll just have to wait for the big finish--which could be awhile, but at least progress has been made!)

And last post, I showed photos of the great snow we got two weeks ago, when our world looked like this:

Now this is all that is left of the snowman family.
So if you're on the east coast of the USA, don't despair--a bit warmer weather is heading your way!
Happy Stitching!

February 05, 2013

Bordered Diamonds--Again

So what have I been doing these past three months?  Starting new projects, of course.

Back in October/November, I pulled out some leftover diamonds from the first Bordered Diamond quilt I made (see here), and decided to put together another one as a gift for Christmas (crazy, I know).  I had a bunch of leftover diamonds.  I always cut way too many.  A girl needs options--and I'm a lazy cutter, so a strip is easier than just one fussy cut.

Last time, I followed the Kaffe instructions, sewing the narrow strips onto the diamonds in a clockwise order, but this time I did it differently--sewing two opposite sides on, then trimming and sewing the next two sides on.  The diamonds went together much faster on the assembly since trimming was done half as often.  They didn't look all that different. 

Clockwise                        Opposite Sides

But, when I went to sew them together, I discovered that the new method of construction meant I had twice as many seams to match up when the blocks were sewn together--hopefully you can see the seams.

Opposite Sides
So, having done it both ways, I'd recommend the clockwise way (unless you are a more accurate sewer than I am). :)  And yes, I still have diamonds left!  And even more partial diamonds from the edges of both quilts too.  And some unsewn diamonds.  And a bunch of strips.  But I don't plan to make another one of these--maybe something with triangles instead.

Here are the borders that I decided to use.  The outer border is the same one that I used on the other Bordered Diamond quilt....it just seems to pull the colors together the best of all the fabrics I tried.  I didn't have enough of the inner border to use again (which I am trying out in the photo below), so I switched to the violet in this photo which goes nicely with the backing--it's ok, though not my favorite. 

For the back, I'm using the blue fabric with roses, which is a Phillip Jacobs print, called Lilac Rose, but I think it is out of print.  I've had it for several years--bought on a closeout sale for a ridiculously low price, and it feels good to finally use it! 

The top is finished, the backing pieced (with roses matched!), and it's ready to go to the quilter on Monday! Hooray!   Just a bit late for Christmas--but at least closer to done!

And, last but not least, last Tuesday we had a strangely peaceful snow storm, which managed to carefully stack inches of snow on narrow objects, turning the ordinary into beautiful.

My lovely daughter who had come home for a short visit, joined her furry sister to make a set of snow people parents just for us!   (Miss you sweetie!)

Happy Stitching!

February 04, 2013

A Review of 2012

When I went to write a post summarizing 2012, I looked at what I had completed  during the year, and got depressed.  I'm sure that's why I haven't posted for almost three months!   (I also got the flu, and my dog was sick for a week, and my daughter was home for a short visit, but mostly I was just depressed.)   

To fix the depression, ;) I started a couple of new projects (next post), and now I feel much better.   And since I’m feeling a bit better, and in order to hold myself accountable (and help me remember what I need to work on), here’s my 2012 update. 
(Warning:  This post is mostly for me and boring, so feel free to stop reading here!)
During 2012, I started NINE new projects:   

 1.  Just Takes Two – finished roughly half the blocks.
 2.  Sparkle Punch Quiltalong – sent to be quilted*
 3.  Building Houses from Scraps – decided I’m not going to finish these—will save for some project to use them in
4.  Puzzled Quilt – pieced top completed*
5.  Granny Squares Quilt – partially assembled, but progress has stopped*
6.  Raining Cats and Dogs – 6 blocks begun and in various stages of completion
7.  Pillow Shams for Alex – COMPLETED!  This is the only project I managed to complete in 2012.
8.  Bordered Diamonds #2 – began making diamonds in November to make a second quilt*
9.  Mid 19th Century Star Quilt – began making the blocks, but stopped to “collect” more turquoise fabrics

 I also have 12 projects still unfinished from 2010 and 2011:

1.  Courthouse Steps - blocks made
2.  Maple Leaf Rag - pieces cut--barely started
3.  Capriccio Too - barely started, just some leftover scraps used
4.  Single Girl - strips cut, colors picked out, but forgot and used the background fabric in Sparkle Punch quilt (above) –whoops!
5.  Strippling Vine - top completed, backing purchased, needs quilting*
6.  Portraits in My Garden - completed top, needs quilting
7.  French General Reine des Abeilles - completed top, needs quilting*
8.  Flower Garden – Completed 6 more flower blocks, now 15/24 done—0/4 borders done
9.  King George III – Completed 1 block, now 3/13 blocks completed, 1 cut out 
10.  Coming Up Roses - squares cut out and piecing started
11.  Hugs and Kisses - have begun sewing blocks together*
12.  Roseville Album (2010) – nothing complete, but have been working on two of the panels. 10/13 blocks, 1/4 panels, 0/4 borders done

Absolutely NO progress was made on numbers 1-8. A smidgeon of progress was made on numbers 9-12.  So to sum up, in ALL of  2012, I finished two pillow shams for my daughter--lucky her!  That’s IT! 

So, I’ve decided 2013 will have to be a "Year of Finishing".  It’s going to be boring, but it has to be done.  LITERALLY DONE.  My goal is to send one quilt to the quilter each month or two, and try to finish up a few of these tops (marked by *) or to at least get them quilted. 

So far in 2013, I've had one quilt quilted--no binding yet (of course). The quilting does look great though:

Front of Sparkle Punch

Back of Sparkle Punch
And we won’t talk about the projects that are older than 2010—Out of sight, out of mind…..and definitely not on the to do list this year!