Sunday, February 26, 2017

help! i think i'm turning into a scrap quilter!

After a fairly unproductive couple of days, quilt-wise, today I made time to sew!  There's been a fair amount of other stuff going on in this house and I just needed a good break - some "me time."

First, a quick update on Luka.  He went to the vet Monday evening and his heart murmur is a 1, maybe 2, at this point.  Whatever was going on seems to have resolved significantly, but the vet doesn't have much to offer by way of explanation.  I'm going to just take it as good news and relax.  He's still not acting like anything is wrong, but I'll take him back in about 3 months for another checkup, just to keep an eye on things.

I knew my first order of business today needed to be getting my block made for the block exchange.  If you remember, this block is the starter from the box owner...

...and I was a little scared.

I googled the block and found a video where the designer, Cara Gulati, talked with Kaye Wood about making her quilt/block.  I watched the whole episode and felt a little more confident - both she and my friend said the blocks could be trimmed to square if things didn't go well.

Deep breaths...fabric

I'm not going to show what I made, but I ended up making two blocks.  The second looks a little better than the first in some aspects, but I don't feel the construction went any easier.  My friend kept saying that these blocks are addictive.  I would like to assure you that they are NOT addictive.  At least not to me!

I made that second block, thinking maybe it would get easier and I'd make a few more after that - playing with fabrics is always fun and this is a very good excuse.  I also know the quilt is going to take more blocks than one per person participating, so having an extra or two would probably be nice.  But after #2 being just as difficult as #1, I decided it was time to move on to other things.

When digging through my stash for turquoise fabrics to make my cats, I found this pile of triangles...

...I remember what project they came from, but not why I have them.  (I don't have companion triangles like normal, so I'm not sure what happened!)  But they're such a beautiful color and I love the fabric and I decided I was going to try to make something from them if they didn't find good spots in my cats.

I had 23 of them after making the cats.  I think I had 23 before I made the cats...

I decided these needed to be the goose part of flying the stash...

...the same white I used in the purple bonus dolly quilts came to play here, too.  But I also pulled that blue (almost a purple!), auditioning it for where the white ended up.  I felt it was too dark there, but really liked how it made the tiny dots pop, so I kept it out while making up a pattern as I went.

After sewing the geese into three rows, they were pretty small (finishing at 1.25"x2.5"), and I had a strip of the green already cut, so that went between rows of geese.  Then a small-ish white border and then a final blue border.

I think I like it, though I'm wondering if I should have put that blue in there as a skinny inner border instead?  Or perhaps another border of the green/turquoise?  The blue will also be the binding.

It's about 15x16", but I don't remember exactly what I cut for the borders right now.  It's a little larger than the orange froggy quilts I made earlier in the month.

None of the dolly quilts for this month, this one included, are quilted yet, but I'll get there.  I have another one-day quilt retreat coming mid-March and I quilted about 6 dolly quilts at the last one, so maybe that's what I'll do with these?  Save them up...

And I also worked on string blocks as leaders and enders.  I worked on the purple one last month and finished one turquoise one today, plus started a second!

I'm making these on old phone book pages and trimming them down to 7.5" when I'm finished.  I've made a few in other colors, too, but these are really not my thing.  But I'm trying to not waste good scraps and these strips are hard to toss out.  (I cut 2.5" squares out of leftovers too small to go back into the stash and these are what's smaller than that, but too large to feel good about tossing out.)

I have no idea what I'll do with these, but I'll just keep making them for now, trying not to use the same fabric twice in a block.  That makes them take longer!

So, as you can see, I've made a lot out of scraps here...I never thought I'd be this happy working with scraps, but I am truly having fun.  I think part of my mental block to becoming a scrap quilter is how my mom scrap quilts.  To her, everything is either a light or a dark.  I can't do that.  I have to have more matchy-matchy than that, but there are a lot of bloggers and quilters out there sharing their work online and I'm beginning to see that scrappy quilts don't HAVE to be done the way my mom does them and seeing a lot of quilts I like that are controlled scrappy is motivating me to try scrap quilting.

But both last month and this, I've found a stash of one fabric in cut pieces that I've had fun designing a project around.  And now I'm kinda looking forward to next month, perhaps finding another bonus project in the pile!  I'm hoping all this stash useage doesn't cause mine to reproduce like I've heard it does, but I suppose that would be okay now that I'm embracing my stash.

And now I need to stop procrastinating and work on binding Retro.  It's the last thing on the list for February...I started it last night, but didn't get far before the hubby decided I needed to run to Taco Bell and pick up the dinner he said he didn't want an hour earlier.  (He's part of what's going on around here and needs my attention much more than usual.  It's nothing bad, just a simple procedure and a short-term reliance on me...but it does make me appreciate the freedom I usually have!)

Happy quilting,

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

the blocks

Last week I teased you with some fabric purchases for my guild's block exchange.  At that point, I still wasn't sure if I'd get it done in time to participate, but I did.  Even with taking Monday off work for being actually too sick to function - that sinus cold...yikes!

Tuesday, I was feeling a lot better, if not entirely back to myself, so I started sewing.  While half out of it Sunday and Monday, I had some great ideas.  One of them was the details of this house.  Some of the details didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but for the most part, it's here...

I decided I wanted a quilt made of house blocks.  All different house blocks.  And what better way to get lots of house blocks than to participate in this exchange?

We were supposed to choose a quilt we'd like made, provide the pattern and key fabrics and specific instructions.  Well, I sorta bent the rules because I don't want to provide a pattern.  I want the participants to make a house block (any house - you'll see!) that suits them.  In colors that suit them.  In a size that suits them.  So those were my rules.

My first bubble-headed brilliant idea was that this would be a sorority house.  Not just any, but the Sisterhood of Quilters sorority.  Sigma Koppa.  (yes, I made it up)  It, unlike the Greek houses on college campuses does not have many requirement and rules to become a member - just a love of quilting.  But like the campus houses, we make friends that last a lifetime.

So this house had to be made of bricks, right?  Like the old sorority (and fraternity) houses on old college campuses, right?  So I had to buy brick fabric, of course...

It's a little blurry because, in my excitement to take these Thursday, I forgot to take photos.  As I was sharing my box and story behind the block, one guild member had her 5-year-old grandson there.  He had her phone and was taking photos of everything - this one was one of the worst, but he's 5.  (Cute as a button, though.  And I was amused at how we all stopped and posed for him and didn't hold our quilts over our faces like we do when our peers pull out their cameras!)  You get the idea.

It's from the Vintage Farm Girl book/quilt.  And unlike when I made the whole quilt at 6", this block will finish 12".

But because I want ALL kinds of houses, I wanted to make a second.  Another of my bubble-head ideas - I should make a mushroom house.  And looking at stuff on Pinterest is fairly easy to do, even when you're useless because of a cold!

This is a free pattern I found here.  And it's not all that hard, though I've gotten a lot better at paper piecing in the last few years because I keep picking patterns that use it.  (What IS my problem?)

This one is about 8.5" across and, well, maybe 10" tall.  I can trim that top a little to make it whatever size, but I said I wanted whatever size and this illustrates my point that rectangular is good, too.

I made this one on Wednesday and love it so much I didn't want to go to bed or go to work on Thursday so I could stay up and stay home and make a whole quilt of these little houses.  In all sorts of colors.  But I went to bed.  And I went to work.

On Thursday, I tried to use Wonder Under to adhere some Greek letters (a sigma and a koppa, of course) to the sorority house.  Fail.  Maybe I'll get it done after the exchange, but for now it's out of my hands, so it's just as well I don't worry about it.

Instead I have this to worry about:

This is my friend Colette's block.

We included a notebook in our boxes.  I think hers might come back with four-letter words.  Not the nice ones.

What IS she thinking?

Actually, what she's thinking is that she wants another quilt like the one she already made, but in different colors.

This block is part of the quilt "Radiant Suns".  (If you scroll down in this link, you can see ones made by other members of my guild - Carol R (who is actually called Carolyn) and Wendy H (photos are next to each other on my screen) - and Colette also made one that is equally busy.)

She wants us to make one block in our favorite color.  Just one.  I suppose that request is an effort at self-preservation?  She might get a brick through her window if she asked for four each!

She included freezer paper templates.  Templates.  But again, their inclusion is probably an attempt at self-preservation.

She promises it isn't hard.

I don't believe her.

She claims she doesn't mind that most of us love purple and she's going to have a very purple quilt.

I might believe that.

I haven't done any more with Colette's box than read through her instructions and requests.  I'll probably tackle this this weekend.  In purple, of course.  (If it goes as well as she promises, I might make a yellow and and orange one...and maybe an aqua one in honor of the scrap color of the month, but I'm not holding my breath!)

The up side?  This is probably THE hardest block anyone picked.  And I'll have it done first.  So there's that.

But my blocks were well-received.  A lot of folks went home with ideas churning - even those who aren't participating!  (Maybe I'll get bonus blocks?  The old woman who lived in a shoe was tossed out by a non-participant!)  One gal said she was already going to make her block that weekend, even though she won't get my box officially for months!

In other news, this past weekend was my guild's sewing Saturday and I took my pile of aqua scraps...

...and made 13 cats!

(this photo doesn't show the variety of color nearly as well as the pile of scraps photo...that's what I get for taking nighttime photos...)

I also worked a bit on the Candy Bracelets blocks, but it seems every time I get started on those, something comes up or time runs out...that's okay, though.  It can be a slow project.

Sunday was a bit of a bust for crafty stuff...or even being at home...but it was a gorgeous weekend, so it was better I spent a little of it away from the sewing machine.

So far this week, I've unpacked my sewing stuff further from Saturday's adventure, but that's it.  But it's only Tuesday and Tuesday is usually the busiest, latest, hardest day at work.  (Not always, but I can pretty much count on it being crazy!)  So it's usually downhill from there - maybe I'll come home with energy tomorrow night?

I don't think I'm supposed to share what I'm making for blocks, but I'll save up photos and hope to have a reveal sooner after the exchange is finished (I think there's about 8 of us) than I did with the last one!

Off to snuggle the Emma cat (she's pacing circles around/on my desk as I type) and get some sleep!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, February 12, 2017

row exchange - catching up and reveals

As I was thinking this afternoon about blogging about my UFO progress, I wasn't sure how much I wanted to reveal.  And I honestly haven't done much sewing this week other than today.

But then I realized I have a few quilts and projects I've never shared - one of them is the row-by-row exchange I did with my guild in 2015.  Well, it's about time for that, right?

I'm not sure how much I've shared, but I know the rows I made were kept hush-hush because I wasn't sure who was reading my blog.  They have all had their rows for a while now, so I think it's safe!

The first box I got was for Margaret.  She'd made this row:

and included this great stash of fabrics:

It was almost overwhelming the selection and variety, but she'd asked for quilting-themed blocks and when I saw this block, I knew it was the perfect fit!

I drafted the pattern myself from a few I'd seen online and this was my test block.  I don't often make them, but wanted to be sure my math was right.

I even paper pieced the spools!!!

Her finished row?

Perfect, right?  It was fun choosing the fabrics for accents - the thread colors and machine bits.  I used some strips and bits that wouldn't be usable otherwise.  And since this was the first row in the box after hers, I set the bar kinda high.  Oh well!

Next up, I had Mary Jean's box.  She provided this row:

She wanted Michigan-themed rows.  I'm not exactly sure where she thinks all these moose live (I know there's some in the upper peninsula), but I might have chosen deer?

Anyways, she had included some more traditional-colored fabrics, and I was kinda stumped.  What should I make?  I could do the state bird or flower?  I spent too much time on Pinterest...and then I found it...

It was paper piecing and I had to purchase the pattern and fabrics and resize the pattern for what I was going to make, but what about a fish?  I mean, there are a lot of lakes, right?  The original pattern is a rainbow trout.  I kinda took some liberties and it looks a bit more like a cross between a bass and a trout, but it's a fish, okay?

I even went so far as to purchase a few small fly fishing lures to include, but put them in the box with a note, knowing they'd be hard to longarm around!

They were kinda fun to make, but I don't see more of these in my future!

Next was Polly's box.  Polly included this row made with Kaffe Fasset and like fabrics:

From this row you can pretty much see how many and the wide variety of fabrics she included.  Kaffe Fasset's style is truly nothing I would choose, but this project was meant to stretch us, right?  So let's go.  Pinterest and I had some fun again, but Polly is a realtor and had asked that we do something related to houses or home - whatever that meant to us.

I found a pattern that had used Kaffe Fasset fabrics for houses - God-awful busy, bright houses - with traditional blocks for the main part of the houses.  Get out the graph paper again and I even found a site where I could download paper piecing patterns for a small-ish pineapple block!

(what is it with this project and paper piecing?)

There were other blocks:

The 5x5 grid.  I kept looking at it, thinking UGH.  Then I realized, it's ugliness to me is PERFECT for this project!  Nailed it!!!

Some flying geese.  This one took some math, but I got it.

These geese, too, were paper pieced.  I'm not sure what went wrong and you can't see it here, but there were some short geese by the end.  Oh well...they're all matching, so whatever.

And finally, the row was finished.  Ugly?  Yup (to me).  What she asked for?  Yup.

And the last row was Ruth.  This one actually gave me the hardest time!

She wanted flower blocks.  It could be flowers in the blocks, blocks named for flowers, whatever.  This was the last box for me, so there were already four rows in there.  That made it even harder because I was trying to fit with what others had done and not give her a totally wacky row.

I searched the internet and my quilt books for blocks that had flower names.  I found a few I liked, but of course they were too big or too small to make a row the proper length without huge sashings between or major remaking of the pattern.

I had about three ideas that I tossed out one after the other.  Time was closing in.  I didn't have much wiggle room left - I needed a block!

And then it hit me.  Why not use flower prints and make a picket fence that they're poking through?

I went to my mom's house and raided her stash of florals.  I knew she'd made a floral quilt with stars formed by the sashings, and she's a scrappy quilter, so I knew she'd have what I wanted.  Ruth wanted all fabrics washed first, so I had a project there first, but as you can see from the above photo, I had no shortage of fabrics I brought home.

I designed the block to fit the size I needed, but tweaked it a few times before I was happy - you can see below I made the fence pieces from paper and layed them on the fabric to be sure I had the right proportion of fence to flowers...

I made sure the flowers weren't entirely the background - I used blue for sky above the fenceposts, but varied the amount so it seemed more like the flowers were growing more here than there.  Kinda like a normal garden...or perhaps a slightly overgrown one?

I tried, too, to make the colors flow into each other so it didn't seem too choppy.

And at the end, I had a row I was fairly happy with...

Clearly Emma approves.  Let's see if I can find a photo that hasn't been bombed by a cat (this one was already edited - I didn't realize she was in it...)

I guess this one is a little cut off on the one end, but you get the idea.

It wasn't as smooth of a transition to the sky as I had thought in my head and I might do it differently if I did it again (applique a curve perhaps?), but it's done and I think it fits her request.

And then there's my set of blocks.  I started out with this row and a request for solids and wonky/free-pieced blocks.

I believe I shared the fun of trying to make this work - I tried two different patterns before I found one that worked to my liking and turned out the correct size (a block that is 5 3/8" unfinished is going to make trouble for everyone else!)...

The one on the right is the winner!

But those wonky blocks sure can be wasteful!  (Then again, so can paper piecing, but I don't have any photos of that nonsense!)

And I made lemonade out of lemons with the first block - it's a label!  I included this in my box of fabrics and asked everyone to add their name and block.  It's nice to have it all written in their hand and I know many folks don't like to sign their blocks.  This was a little bit easier way to get something almost the same accomplished.

What did I get back?

I love it!  I had it quilted and ready for our show in March of last year well before it was needed.  We actually had a month after we got our own boxes back before the big reveal.  I was the only one with mine completely done.  I have only seen Mary Jean's finished from my group.  There was another group of five and they all had at least their tops hanging in our quilt show last year, so that was fun to see, but I was kinda disappointed in my group.  I wish they'd all been finished because there were rows I never got to see - the boxes were kept closed when exchanged, so no one knew what was in them.

But I had a lot of positive comments about mine.  It was a stretch for everyone in my group, but they all said they enjoyed it.  I'm not sure most of them would do it again, but much like I did for their rows, they tried something new and learned something.

Today I did a little quilty sewing.

First, I ran to a quilt shop looking for fabric with bricks on it.  I made my hubby drive because I have a nasty sinus infection and between the cold medicine, the bubble-head feeling of the congestion and the left side of my face running like a faucet and needing frequent Kleenex breaks, I didn't think driving 30 miles was a good choice.

Thank goodness they had what I wanted...

My guild is starting a block exchange project this Thursday.  It's kinda like the row exchange except you make only one block.  I'll share more when I get my block together and have shared the plan with my guild on Thursday.  There are a few who read this and I want my box to be just as much of a surprise as theirs will be!

Then I came home and decided that this month's UFO is not going to quilt itself.  I could sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself, or I could stuff the pouch pocket on my hoodie sweatshirt with Kleenex and make the best of it.

I had looked through books and photos on the internet for ideas how to quilt this and actually had a pretty final plan, but in a congested haze yesterday, I figured out exactly the perfect motif.  I'll share more when the full reveal when it's finished, but here it is on the longarm - getting ready!

Right now the quilt has been trimmed to rectangular (not wonky as the edges here show, but I thought quilting first made the most sense to end up with a square, er, rectangular, quilt) and the binding machine sewn down.  I have to do the hand-sewing, but I'm hoping this faucet-face will be better soon because looking down?  Worse!

I wonder if the hubby will make me tacos for dinner?
(if not, you'll find me in the kitchen just shortly...)

Happy quilting,

Sunday, February 5, 2017

what a weekend!

I kinda wish all of the challenges I've decided to do didn't all announce new info on the first of the month - it makes the first weekend crazy!

(But maybe it's good so I plan out the rest of my month and know what I SHOULD be doing in my sewing room when I go up there?)

The UFO number for this month is #9 - that's "Retro:"

I don't have a back for this one and it's a relatively newer UFO, but it's on the list, so here we go.

Off to the quilt shop Saturday afternoon to find a back.  I started in the sale room, but nothing there appealed to me enough.  For some reason, I had it in my head that this back was going to be red.  Don't ask why.  I can't explain that idea.

I looked and looked and looked.  The store owner tried to help and has such a different style, it's hard.  (I just want to look, okay?  Thank you for your help, but sometimes I just gotta do this myself!)  She actually suggested the one I purchased, but from a distance I wasn't sure it was what I wanted and I had to rule out a bunch of other ideas, first, too...

It makes me think of olives.  And the pattern on the front...well, we could say it looks a bit like martini glasses.  So I guess it's fitting I put olives on the back, right?

(and I have a dot problem...)

Pieced and ready to roll!  Er...quilt!

Another bit of good news?  I made the binding for this quilt already!  I didn't remember it, but there it was, hanging up with the top, so yay!!!

I also worked on my February dolly quilt.  I pulled this orange frog fabric from the bag of scraps a while ago.  It's the last of the screamers, but the bag is far from empty.  (There are plenty of good candidates, just not so vocal about their needs.)  I shopped the stash and had a few greens that would work, but liked this one best - particularly when I considered the pattern I planned to use.

I wanted to make pinwheel blocks (well, a version of them) and found a tutorial online that worked well for my idea.  It makes two sets, so I thought alternating them would work.  I'd end up with an extra block, but that would go somewhere eventually...

Oh, ugh!  I do not like that.  It appears that I just sewed strips together and these pinwheels took a lot more work than that.  I want it to look like the pinwheels!

Maybe with sashing? (Use your imagination here - I'd choose a color other than that of my cutting mat, of course!)

I went to bed with this sitting on the table.  I wasn't satisfied and I had no idea what other color to add for sashing.  And I still wasn't sure I was keeping the pinwheel design well enough - it just looks like a tessellating pattern now.  I though sleeping on it might help.

Well, it did, but not quite in the way I thought it would.  On to layout #3...

So much better!  I didn't have enough of the froggies for setting triangles, but thought this orange worked nicely.  (Shopping the stash again!)

But wait!  What if I make those setting triangles with a part of a green pinwheel in there so the secondary design continues into the setting triangles?  Ohhhh!!!

Yay!  Win!!!

But now I have those other blocks...hmmm...

And then there were two.  I'm not entirely sure I love the second (particularly that extra green on the outside - perhaps the setting triangles should have been green here? but that seemed like too much green), but if you only see that one, you'll never know the other one is cuter!

They'll need quilting yet, but it's only the 5th and I'm off to a good start on this project!!!

And then, because I'd been such a good girl, I rewarded myself with digging through my scraps to pull fabrics for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge color - Aqua!

I wasn't sure how much of this I actually had.  It's a color I usually lump in with the green pile or the blue pile of stash fabrics, so I had to sort through both (gasp!) to find what I wanted.  Turns out, I'm gonna be okay...

...or is this pile messier?...

This is such fun.  As I was pulling these fabrics, I was remembering quilts I'd made with them.  Some of them have been in my stash for quite a while and some are newer, but they're going to make some beautiful cats!

I think I might wait on these until my Saturday sewing day (two weeks out yet), as that seemed like a good, fun project to take last month.  And there's always Candy Bracelets to work on at home until then.  Or quilting and binding Retro.  Or quilting and binding the dolly quilts.  Or, you know, housework.

In addition to this fun, I took two of my kitties to the vet yesterday.  Two separate trips because I only have one carrier and there is NO WAY these two would tolerate sharing a carrier!  Skitter was due for her rabies shot, Luka just due for a checkup.  Skitter has lost a pound, but could use to lose more.  We weren't trying, but the doc isn't too worried.  Luka has lost two.  Not good.  He also had full anal glands (not normal in a cat) and one of them was infected.  So he came home with antibiotics.  After this violation, the vet tech (as good as a doc in my book!) brought him back and I let him get back in his carrier and hide.  A short while later the vet herself came in and said he has a heart murmur.  Like a really noticeable one.  It wasn't there a year ago.  So they want to pry him back out of the carrier and draw blood.  Poor guy!  So nearly $300 later, two cats are home, recovering.  (They seem to be doing just fine and other than Emma hissing at them because they smell funny, none the worse for the visit.)  We don't know what's up with Luka, but I do know humans can live with a heart murmur for a long time and Luka is 12 or 13 and seems to be having no trouble chasing his sisters and begging for treats still, so I'm not going to worry.  When the bloodwork results come back, we'll know more and I can ask the vet a few more questions, but I'm not sure there's much to do.  Love him, snuggle him, feed him and enjoy his company, just like I always have.

And now I should probably go shower and maybe venture to the grocery store.  The hubby is working this weekend, so I have until about 2:30 today to myself.  I really don't want to spend it buying groceries, but we've gotta eat something...

Happy quilting!