Saturday, May 16, 2015

one of the projects

A few weeks back I teased you with this pile of fabrics...

I didn't want to tell you what I was up to you, but today I'm going to share!

Months ago, I saw a quilt on Pinterest and pinned it.  I didn't find any info on the pattern and such, but didn't really do that much digging either.  Then, about a month ago, I saw the quilt as a block-of-the-month in a quilting catalog.  But it was expensive, so I didn't do anything for a while.  About a week later, I found another quilt I loved (thank you again Pinterest) and it was to be an on-line quilt-along (more on that one soon).  So I started digging around on the internet to order the quilt-along book and figured I'd look around for the other one, too.

Turns out, the pattern designers have a blog.  And started an on-line quilt-along with this quilt way back in January.  Complete with blog posts in new colorways and giveaways!  Want to guess how fast that book hopped into my virtual shopping cart?

Ordering directly from the designer turned out to be a good idea - I had actual non-robot confirmation of my order within 30 minutes and the book about 3 days later - with a Sunday included in there!

So if you haven't clicked the link yet, the quilt is called Arcadia Avenue.

The quilt on the cover is what got me interested, but when reading the quilt-along posts, the two designers are making the quilt again - both of them - and one decided to do it in "low volume" and I was even more in love.  (That was what really sealed the deal with buying the book.)

(funny, too, that I claim to hate paper piecing, but had absolutely no doubts when ordering this book, knowing it's entirely paper pieced...)

Anyways, I went fabric shopping.  I wanted less scrappy than what I'd seen on the blog and just wasn't sure of colors.  I knew I wanted one grey and if you've ever shopped for grey, you know that greys have a huge range of colors and if you get the wrong one, it can look awful with other colors you choose.  I know it seems silly - grey should just be grey - but that's how my eyes see things and it's my quilt!

I washed, dried and pressed the fabrics and took the pretty photo above and then spent about a week worrying I'd make something hideous.  I mean, throw-it-out-and-deny-you-made-it ugly.

Finally, last Saturday evening, I decided to dig in and give it a try.  It can't be that bad if I love the fabrics this much, right?

I love this book because they give a list of what size to cut each piece for the paper pieced pieces.  That is something I always struggle with and end up with a hacked up piece of fabric.  This is so much nicer - the pieces were all rectangles and squares (cut in half diagonally).  I still have normal-shaped fabrics left for the next blocks!

If you look close, you might be able to see they're numbered up to 18.  That's a lot of pieces!  But if you've been following me a while, you know I do this almost every time.  Intricate quilts are what I love, so I should be used to this by now, but every time it gets me!

Sunday I started sewing...deep breaths, pins and lots of courage...

There are 12 wedges, so lots of sewing, then lots of pressing.

I worked a few hours Sunday and then tried to get in an hour or so each evening last week.  One hour could do about three sets of pieces.

I took lots of photos because I was trying to keep myself distracted from panicking that I was making something crazy.

Wednesday night I put in some extra time, knowing my quilt guild meeting was Thursday night and I'd lose an evening.  And wanting to have the wedges done for the weekend.

I made it.  And in this photo, you can kind of see how they come together.  At this point, I had a sigh of relief, knowing the piecing part was done and I'd only had to rip out a few seams (mostly due to pieces folding after they'd been pinned and being sewn down wrong).

But I still had to sew the wedges together.  More deep breathing!

First, I consulted with fellow quilters to see how to best keep those center pointy-points from shifting and creating a D-cup center.  They suggested basting outside the sewing and cutting lines - to make it super easy to trim later.  Great idea!

(a bit blurry photo...oops)

So I pinned the wedges, but you know how sewing multiple seams and trying to get points to match creates a big thick seam when you add pins?  Why not try those little red Clover Wonder clips?  Can't hurt, right?

With the extra paper and such on the edges, it gave enough to hold things in place, but still allow it to go under my machine!

And guess what?  It works!  They held (there are a few pins in there on the thinner sections where I wasn't sure the grip would be as effective - and pins didn't add so much bulk) and other than half of the final seam, every point is very well matched!  I'd not used these clips much in the past, but you can bet I'll be using them in block construction more now.  Particularly for this project.

Another nice part of the quilt-along is that the designers shared some pointers for getting the center, bulky seam points to match in the center.  Whether paper piecing or not, those are always a challenge for me, but the pointers they gave worked!  My center is nearly perfect and with it being all white, a little off-ness isn't going to be too noticeable, particularly when it's quilted.  (And it's very much good enough for me!)

At this point, I started thinking this must be about what having a child is like.  You think about it for a while, contemplate things, decide to go for it and then wonder all sorts of things that could go wrong during the pregnancy.  But once it's born, you're in love!  (Of course, this takes a lot less time and is just fabric, but there was a lot of worry on my part during the construction!)

It's not been trimmed to its hexagon shape yet and I'll probably wait until final quilt construction to do that, but it's a block and I am SO happy with it.

The block measures 19 inches from flat side to flat side and there are 215 pieces in this block alone!  (Block two has a few less...)

I'm not sure if I'll use the aqua fabrics for half of the blocks or stick with just the coral, but that will be something to contemplate before I cut into the fabrics for block two.

I'm only 5 blocks behind in the quilt-along now (there are 12 total and they're all different), but I'm so excited by how well this turned out (both color-wise and construction-wise) that I can't wait to start the second one.  (And I'll be honest, I even though about just making 11 more of these because I love it so much, but onward with the original pattern!)

But for now, I think I've earned a rest (this block took probably 24 hours of work, start-to-finish) and the hubby is watching a movie, so I think I'll join him.  (And become cat furniture, as he likes to call me whenever I sit down - what can I say?  I don't sit enough and the cats love me!)

Happy quilting!

Monday, May 4, 2015

a top is born!

I may or may not have ordered two books last weekend to make two new quilts for myself.  (No one is pregnant or getting married right now, okay?)

So, just in case I did, I thought I'd work on getting one of the older quilts finished up.  At least to the top stage.

This quilt started out with a flying trip to a local-ish quilt shop before they closed after a friend sent me a photo of the fabrics she found while she was there earlier in the day.  I bought these:

(See they're still even in the bag here!  That's how excited I was to take the photo way back then...)

So I thought and thought about a pattern and decided hexagons were the way to go.  It just fit with the chemistry-science fabrics so perfectly that I set aside my dislike of hexagons (in part due to the current craze over them) and went for it.

It felt like I cut about 4,000 hexagons and then I decided I'd better figure out how to sew them together.  One of the gals in my quilt guild had done a mini-presentation on a way to do them by machine (with 6" hexies, I knew I wasn't going to do English paper piecing on these!), so I dug out her handout and it didn't look too bad...


...I had to mark 1/4" from every edge so I knew where the intersections would lie.  That took a few months of procrastination to get done.  (I was finally forced to do it at my guild's show in March because we were trying to do things that didn't take up much space while the show was going on - we could sew, but were trying not to be our normal table-hogging selves this once!)

And then I took over the living room, er, design floor, and figured out a layout...

Labelled each row and even had a little diagram of hexagons and everything.  And set it aside.  Still not sure of this partial-inset-goofy seam thing necessary to get these together.

But I decided, just in case I really did buy those books, I'd better get going.

Hmmm...not so bad.  I mean, it's only a few seams so far, but it's flat, so way better than I expected already.  But it IS early.

About a row later, I realized I'd started sewing the rows together backwards.  Or something.  It should be okay, right?  Keep sewing...

...I got to about row 6 and was laying out the next row to make sure I had it lined up right and there were two oranges, identical oranges, next to each other.  Guess that "okay" wasn't quite right.  I had to move a few things a few times, but in all, it's okay.  It's not a true quilt without a few bumps along the way, right?

At the widest, I was sewing 11 hexies on.  With two seams on two sides, that's a lot of sewing.  And with this method, you back-tack and stop and start 1/4" from the edge.  So for a while, I was sort-of chain sewing, but eventually I got to a point where I couldn't.  That's where these little guys come in...

They'll be a doll quilt eventually.  They were going to be pinwheels at the start, but this struck me as more interesting, so off I went.

So I sewed and sewed and sewed and pressed and pressed and pressed (sewing hexies can give you a cute little pinwheel on the back where seams meet - bonus!) and eventually I have this:

(It's a little windy today, but you get the idea.)

And those funky seams?  Not too bad at all!  I only had a few that weren't perfect and with picking out a stitch or two, they were fine.  I'm still not a hexie convert, but sure am glad I know how to do these seams now.

It's not as large as I had intended, but that's okay.  It's large enough to be a couch quilt and so long as it's usable, it's good enough for me!  And I already know how I'm going to quilt it!  (Of course, I have to screw up the courage to do so, but one hurdle at a time.)

And, just in case I did buy those two books, I went out and got this stack of beautifulness yesterday:

And shopped my stash just in case I actually bought two books and not just one...

Happy quilting!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

the last two rows

I fell off the wagon...again...

(the quilty wagon, thank you)

I haven't been doing much more than the required rows for the Row By Row exchange, but that's better than nothing, right?

Last month's row started with Mary Jean's row:

She wanted us to create a row that represents what Michigan is to us.  She included the fabrics you see here and asked that we stay within the color scheme, but we could add as needed.

I had to buy a pattern (it's hard to wing it with paper piecing!) AND fabrics to properly complete my row, but it's definitely Michigan to me.  And I did stay within her colors, just needed something a little different from what she'd included...  I didn't remember to take photos of the fabrics and then left what I hadn't used in the box for the next row or my friend to use in the completing of the quilt.  I didn't even take photos of the quilt in progress!  So no sneak peaks of this one.

And then this month I got the last box:

This theme is "Spring" and my friend Ruth chose blocks that had spring names...Birds in the Air and such (and added Contrary Wife because she's feisty).  I like this idea.  We were do something that represented spring to us.

And my mom has a BIG box of floral fabrics that are of all sorts, but include many that fit well with the florals in this first row.  And since I was taking her out for her birthday anyways, I borrowed the box.  Ruth requested that we wash everything ahead and my mom often doesn't, so I had to choose and then wash...

Messy!  But I promise they look better now that they're in a row.  I made choices and changed my mind and changed my mind again.  Finally I had what I thought was a good idea, but decided to walk away from it for a bit because this last idea just wasn't screaming "MAKE ME".  5 minutes later I had new idea and this one was screaming so loud, I was mad the dryer wasn't done yet!  But this row was by far the hardest as far as decision-making goes.

I got the box on Thursday, started work on it Sunday and had the row done before bedtime that night!  Compared to the other rows I've made, this one is simple, but it's perfect.  At least I think so.  I hope she likes it.  I hope they all like their rows.

We exchange boxes again - get our own boxes back - on May 21st and I'm so excited to see what everyone did with my idea.  But I'm also having a lot of fun so it's sad to see it end so quickly.  You know you'll get to see all sorts of photos when it's safe to share and I'm hoping to have whole tops or even quilts to share as we gals turn the rows into quilts.

Time to go catch up on blog reading and then get some chores done.  This morning was a visit to the vet for my oldest kitty, Skitter.  She's my scaredy-cat and was acting just not quite right.  Turns out she had two full, nearly impacted anal glands (yuck, I know) and a bad tooth.  After taking care of the yuck, they drew a little blood and, pending favorable results from the bloodwork, she'll be returning for dental work to take care of whatever is up with the tartar-covered tooth.  My hubby rolled his eyes at me that I was making something out of nothing, but this visit proved me right.  Something wasn't right, but I caught it before it was a huge problem and though today was expensive, it could have been a lot worse.  And she's nearly recovered - this was a huge trauma for her...

Happy quilting,

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

another busy post

I've been busy again!  My hubby hasn't seen much of me lately, but there are a number of good reasons.  Well, my quilt guild will tell you they are good reasons!

I'm the membership chair, so finalizing the roster and getting that handed out took a little work.

The guild also voted on an official logo, so I decided to work with my brother who, with his wife, run a company that does custom screen printing and embroidery.  Many of my fellow guild members and myself now own shirts sporting our new logo.  This was done in a rush to accommodate the last big project on my plate...

Last weekend was our guild's annual quilt show!  We wanted to be able to wear our new shirts at the show and look official.  I think we looked quite nice, though the shirts were optional and not everyone ordered one.

Here are a few (not so great) photos of the show:

We had 91 quilts on display.  From a guild of only 45 members, you can see there is a LOT of variety and even more talent.  We crammed these all into a small multi-purpose room at the local library and had a free-admission show Saturday and Sunday.

Friday I spent a good portion of the day on a ladder hanging quilts from poles up at the ceiling.  It was a long day, but well worth the trouble and frustrations.  We had about 150 people come - on an advertising budget of $0, I'd say that's not bad!

What you don't really see is that we set up tables around the room and actually worked on projects (small ones) during the show.  It gave visitors a chance to ask questions and see how we do what we do.  And I think we might have a few new members again this year as a result.

Sunday afternoon we tore everything down.  I was on the ladder less because lots of husbands showed up at the end and were able and willing to spend time on ladders, so I just ran around and did whatever.  I guess you'd call me assistant chair - I helped a lot last year, but this year did more and the gal in charge says next year this is my baby and she'll be my assistant.  We're going to have to have a serious chat about that (she's got some BIIIIIG shoes to fill, never mind that I work full-time), but I did enjoy getting to be so involved.

I took Monday off work to recover.  Since I was gone most of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, many of the chores I do during the weekend got neglected.  Plus I just needed to recover!

During the show, I worked on sewing strips together for a charity quilt.  These strips came from the bag my sister-in-law gave me a while ago and I'd had an idea in my head for a while, having seen a quilt at a show.  But since we didn't have an iron set up (which is normal for our weekend sewing days), I couldn't work too much on this.  (That's okay, there were LOTS of distractions!)

Monday I figured out block placement:

These fabrics make me think so much of Love and are definitely not anything I'd choose on my own, but with some setting triangles in there and probably a piano keys border to use up strip ends, I think this is going to make some lady very happy.

Once that was done, I moved on to finishing cutting and marking my science geek fabrics (scroll down in the link).  Cutting hexagons is not fun, but for this fabric, I can't think of any shape that makes more sense than a hexagon.  I thought this was going to be big enough for my bed, but it's not.  (I know because it fits on my living room floor - which is slightly smaller than a queen-size quilt needs to be...)

Now I have to learn how to sew those inset seams.  But I marked 1/4" from the edges on every single piece (I think there were about 4 million of them) and will tackle that soon.  I'm determined, even if I'm still not a hexie fan.  They're 6 1/2" hexagons, though, so that will hopefully make things easier.  Or harder...

And finally, the weekend before the show, I knew I had to get the next row-by-row done.  So here are a few sneak peaks:

Many of these blocks ended up with more pieces in them than the last row, but I guess I'm just an over-achiever?  I want these rows to be amazing and I'm putting in a lot of effort and my best work because that's what I hope I get back.  And I really, really, really hope the gals I'm sewing for like what I've done.  (And it's kinda killing me that I can't share what I've done.)

What I can share is my helper...

While making the pineapple, I'd sew opposite pieces, then get up to press and pin my next pieces.  Every single time, this is what I had to deal with.  This is my sewing chair.  Maybe a foot away is an oversized stuffed chair.  Would she sit in that?  No.  It was my chair or nothing.  And with something like 56 pieces (or was it 42?) in that pineapple, I moved her a LOT.  She grumbled every time.  (She is a bit of a spoiled princess...)

So that's all for now.

Next up is the guild newsletter.  Yeah, I do that, too.  But that one is fun.  Mostly.  :)

Happy quilting,