Monday, March 20, 2023

polaroid quilt finish

In February, I joined a color challenge.  It was hosted over on Instagram with the tag #colorexplorerchallenge.  The host gave us 29 (bonus extra for the short month) color prompts.  She is a painter and did little paintings each day to correspond with the colors.  Others did collages and drawings and assorted projects for the month.  It was fun to see what others did.

I decided to make Polaroid blocks from my stash, using the tutorial here.  Each day I dug through for a fabric that would represent the colors.  It was a fun dive into my stash with a different set of eyes to see the fabrics.

Since I decided to make the blocks look like they were floating, sashing/background color was decided up front, making the quilt assembly must easier and faster.  No bothering with fabric selection at that point, just sew it up!

The layout, however, presented a bit of challenge, as any sort of scrappy quilt will do.  There were a lot more shades of pink in there than a quick glance at the color prompts give away.  But I knew it was not worth a lot of fussing because moving one creates a whole avalanche of moving others, and I let it go here.

They already look like they're floating here on my design floor, so hooray!

Still floating here, though it's a different look.

It sat for a few weeks because I was trying to decide how to quilt it.  I didn't want to quilt through the photos and I knew just the sashings and borders being quilted would need to be looser and simpler to not make it look wierd where it wasn't quilted.

Yesterday morning I woke up with a plan.  Simple straight lines.

When I first got up, I was going to load this onto the longarm.  That would make short work of those lines, but the extra fabric needed to load and the extra time needed to prep the machine would mean that it took longer to prepare than to quilt, so I decided to give it a go on my little machine.

The cats were totally freaked out by this table set up in the back room, but it made the job easier than crawling around on the floor and probably eliminated a portion of cat hair as filling also.

Using the edge of my presser foot as a guide, I just stitched lines in the sashings on either side of the blocks.  Nothing fancy.  And since my walking foot (that honestly has never done much good for me) doesn't work on this machine, I decided to wing it.

After a few rows, I loosened the pressure on the foot and things went smoother.  It's a little puckery in places, but it's fine.  I may toss it in the dryer to see if that can work out some of the worst of it.

Quick while I was still on a roll I made and attached the binding.  And yesterday afternoon I sewed that down.  Being black, I needed to do it in the daylight because I'm getting old enough that no amount of artificial light at night can make black binding reasonable.  (Thankfully I got it done just as the sun was setting low enough to come through the window to my right in its typical evening blinding fashion - meaning you cannot see anything at all in the room for about 15 minutes!  But I WILL NOT complain about sunshine!)

And there you have it!

Pattern from the Polaroid Greeting Swap
Size: 28x29"
Pieced and quilted by me!

You'll notice the bottom right is not a Polaroid.  It is a pocket.  And you can see there is something sticking out of the pocket.  I may have mentioned this before, but I'll share again because I love this memory.  Growing up, my paternal grandpa had a Polaroid camera.  Whenever we visited, he'd get it out and take a few photos.  And then stick them in his shirt pocket to let them develop.  Now I'd seen people wave them around in the air to develop faster, but grandpa put them in his pocket.  He told us that was how it was done.  And so, as a kid, I believe that this was how Polaroid photos worked.  Or at least worked the best.  Being a grandpa, of course he knew all the things and those people waving their photos around were just wasting their time.

So.  Having an extra spot in the quilt, I made a little pocket and shrunk down the color prompt images (there were two - the one you saw above as well as one that had the names of colors that the creator must have found in her palette of paints or something) and made them look like additional Polaroid photos (though with a while background, my white frame doesn't look as prominent as it could).

I'm glad to have this done.  I really wanted it done sooner, but stalled out on the quilting a bit.  Oh well.  Done is done.

In other news, I have started the birds in the quilt along.  The assignment for this week was to make the first quarter of the birds.  As written in the pattern, that would have been six, but as I mentioned last week, I decided to go larger, which meant nine birds.

I took very few photos along the way, focusing instead on making sure the right-facing birds were facing right and the left-facing birds were facing left.

The seam ripper and I met once when I sewed the half square triangles to the background rectangle going the wrong direction.  Thankfully that was a short seam and only 9 to rip out.  Everything else went quite nicely.

This pattern, though, generates a LOT of bonus half square triangles...

I tossed the smaller ones, but kept these - all of which are large enough to be trimmed to make the "clouds."  Since the original pattern has the clouds in an entirely different color, I can see why these were not used that way.  But I wish I had known because I could have saved myself a lot of time and fabric.  Oh well.  I already have an idea for these, but will wait until the end to decide how much extra background fabric I have before trimming these and moving forward with my plan.  (I haven't cut sashings yet and want to be sure I have enough!)

Next week I'll be making another 9 birds.  And the next week.  And the next week.  These took the better part of the day Friday, but definitely doable for me in a week!

I also worked on the tiger.

You get my shoe in there because I couldn't crop it out.  Also the upper right parts go elsewhere but you didn't need to see the whole floor in my sewing room today.  That is one ear, though, in the middle.  There are 29 more sections to go, including the other ear, but mostly plants.  And then comes the dreaded sewing it all together.  But 29 is definitely feeling like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But I have also committed myself to another quilt along.

(What is wrong with me?)

This one officially starts today, but the first week is just getting fabric together.  And since I just ordered the pattern yesterday, I'm feeling a little behind, but I'll get caught up.  I'm still trying to decide what colors to use, so I'm hoping for an epiphany here soon!

And then my hubby mentioned that there is another baby on the way.  This is the daughter of a cousin and we know it will be a boy.  So I'm tossing around ideas for a quilt for her.  (Of course she will get one, just not sure what I'm going to do yet.)

Also, a coworker and former coworker (they got together after she quit) are working on buying a house together, so I feel like they need a housewarming gift.

And another coworker got a promise ring.  Not an engagement ring.  She is my age, so I have no idea what is going on except that it is a "cheap ring from Amazon" until he can afford something better.  I don't understand, but whatever.  Perhaps they should get a quilt, too?  If they ever get married.  I guess when he buys her a "real" ring I'll worry about that quilt.

And lastly, a recycled photo from just over three years ago.  Back when I had covid before anyone could get tested and I didn't realize that was what I had and I was eating a popsicle in bed because that and oranges were the only thing that even sounded like they worth the effort to eat.  Gabby was wondering what I was eating and why I was in bed doing it.  I love this photo.  The look on her face is priceless, but also very Gabby.  She may be a ding-dong that eats thread and lands like a sack of potatoes when she gets down from everything, but she is also smart as can be and wants to know about all the things.

Time to get back to the quilty stuff!

Happy quilting!

Monday, March 13, 2023

animal parts

No hammocks this week and it feels wierd.  My go-to in the sewing room for months and months has been hammocks.  I'm in a lull - I have a batch finished, but am waiting a bit to turn those in and ask for more fabrics.  I feel like I need to get some sewing of my own done for a bit!

I worked some on tiger parts.  It never looks like much, but I think I'm down to 49 sections to go.

I don't think that bottom row of parts is quite matched correctly to the upper row, but you get the idea.  I have a few sections to do the upper right side of his forehead and then just his ears before it's just background plants again to the end.  I finally feel like I'm making progress, but it's slow going with some of those sections - lots of pieces.

I also waited patiently for the quilt along to start on Friday before digging into the birds.

Really, though, I did spent some time cutting MORE pieces, as I realized there was a "bed-size" (about 80x80) option the designer provided on her blog, which is a better size for our couch, never mind the beds.  It required 11 more birds, so I went back and cut more of everything.  Except I was out of green, so I added another close match.  And then I was out of yellow, so another close match.  It's okay.  It was going to be scrappy-looking anyways, so a few extra fabrics isn't bad.  (And hooray for more stash reduction!)

The assignment for this week was all the half square triangles that make up what I'm calling "clouds".  They're basically background filler and that's fine.

The sewing didn't take long, as the pattern had us making eight at a time.  That's all well and good, but when they're not all the same fabric and each block takes three, but you can make eight at once...well...math...

The pressing and trimming, however, took much longer.  Good thing I have trusty podcasts to keep me entertained - and distracted!

These were overly big, which wasn't a huge problem, but I could probably have cut the initial square a bit smaller and had less excess to trim off.  I suppose in the end, it wouldn't have saved much fabric, so it's all good.

As I was trimming, I sorted them into piles of three, thinking I would keep the clouds all the same in each block, and this would make the end sorting process easier.

Finn agrees.

The next four weeks, we'll be making a quarter of the birds each week.  Which means I cannot mass-produce parts and then mix and match bird parts like I would normally do.  So I crawled around on the floor a while yesterday and mixed and matched parts to be sure I had one of each color for each bird part.  (And it turns out I'm bad at math because I had to get up a few times and cut a piece or two more, but that's better than finding out later, right?)

To keep them all straight, I employed the old paper plate method...

They're leaning a bit here because one side of the stack is thicker than the other, not because gravity is broken.

I ended up mixing and matching the half square triangles.  When I went to bed Saturday night, after trimming them all, I started thinking about how maybe scrappy clouds would look better.  Sunday morning, the idea still seemed like a good one, so I went with it.  The colors are random (though selected from the piles methodically to be sure things were mixed up fairly well and I didn't end up with just 13 yellows at the end or something), but they're all on the plates with the bird parts.

Also, you may notice a big "L" there on the top plate.  There are right-facing and left-facing birds, so I made sure that the body parts were fairly evenly distributed between that designation as well.

This effort may make it harder to get the random look when I'm laying out the blocks, but I'll deal with that problem when I get there.  (But truly, this is going to look quite scrappy, so it should be fine.)

The next step doesn't start until Friday, so I'm going to work on tiger parts again this week.  I'd like to see them all done this week, but I know that's a bit ridiculous considering how bored of them I get after just a few.  Never say never, though, right?

Happy quilting!

Monday, March 6, 2023

a little of this, a little of that

Time in my sewing room the past week seems to have been less than usual.  I can't explain why, but some weeks are just like that.

I did accomplish some things, though!

First up: tiger parts.

Not as many as last week, but progress!  I think there are just 65 sections left to go, which is fewer than half, so that is good news.

Next, the color explorer challenge.  I layed out all the blocks on the design floor and then squinted a little.  I knew that a lot of fussing would lead to nothing much better than a few tweaks, so I let it roll with this setup.

They already look to be floating on my floor and seeing this photo (basically it gives you the distance perspective) had me excited!

But I cut sashings and borders and got busy sewing.  I didn't want to (who really enjoys this part?), but I powered through and came out with a top!  I was encouraged as sewed and started to see the floating with the grey background as well.  That made it worth it to just keep sewing.

I need to decide how to quilt it.  I'm debating between just simple straight lines, maybe even in the ditch, or something fancier.  For now, it's waiting a bit.

You'll notice the bottom right corner is not a Polaroid photo...  Growing up, my grandpa had a Polaroid camera.  He always put the photos in his shirt pocket to develop them.  I was convinced as a kid that the photos required that pocket to turn out correctly (he may or may not have told me that, but whatever the case, that's what I thought).  So I used a scrap of shirting plaid cat hammock leftovers (that looked like it had been cut to be used for a shirt, but never sewn!) to make a pocket.  It only took two tries to cut the pocket piece correctly and three for the background.  I was not happy with my brain at that point.

But the top is done and the blocks do look like they're floating, which was the goal.

I'm planning to make a little printed key for the challenge and colors, something that hopefully I can use some program or another on my computer to make it look like a little Polaroid photo, and stick it in that pocket.  (It's sewn down like a pocket, not all the way around.)

And last but not least, the Pantone quilt challenge.

I believe I last left you with some indecision about what I was going to make.  In digging for links to the pattern, I found that the birds quilt has a quilt along - starting March 10th - offered by the pattern designer.  Which is rather convenient, since the Pantone challenge starts just a few days later.

So I clicked the link and signed up.  At least I think I did.  I've not gotten any sort of confirmation, which makes me wonder if I spelled my email address wrong?  I suppose it doesn't really matter because I'm making the quilt either way.

To start the quilt-along, I need to have all my fabrics cut and ready to sew a boatload of half square triangles the first week.  I had purchased the magenta and a blue for the birds, but knew my stash could likely provide the remaining fabrics.  Of course, I had planned for the blue to be the background and then that FAILED.

In this photo, the white (which is actually a white-on-white) was to be the background, but I was really not feeling something this stark against more traditional quilt colors.

Back to the store.

And forget to take any photos until after I'm done cutting all the colored fabrics...

And let me tell you how ingrained cutting pieces that are half-inch, not quarter-inch stops.  Thankfully I cut things too big, but was pretty mad at myself to KEEP having to go back and trim a quarter of an inch off things.

Next up, background - lots more pieces!

And this is all the pieces.  Beaks and eyeballs are there on the right.  Backgrounds on the bottom, body parts in the middle and half square triangles (which are above the bird in what I have decided to call clouds) are at the top.  The clouds were a different color in the original pattern, but I think this will work.  Worst case, I have a boatload of half square triangles that don't look good and I have to make more.  (I bought extra background, but not as much as I thought I did...I bought what the pattern said, but once I use it for sashing, it's going to be close, I fear.  Perhaps I should buy more?  You know, while it's still available?)

(Isn't that background great?  I mean, I'm a nerd about words on fabric, but this just seems to be perfect for this project.  Finally something is going right.)

I'm also patting myself on the back a tiny bit because I did reduce the stash.  Never mind that there are leftovers of blue and magenta that will probably outpace the subtraction.  We're not talking about that.  (We're also not talking about that stack of fabric for the other quilt that may or may not get made.)

And that was my sewing week.  I also had an appliance repair guy here who told me my stove needs a new part.  (Yes, the new stove that I bought in August.)  It is still useable at least.  And I shoveled a LOT of snow Saturday morning.  Heavy wet snow that melted really fast.  But getting it cleaned off our walk meant that cleared off sooner and was overall safer.  I was sore Sunday morning, though!

Today is full of chores again, but I'm hoping to get a little sewing time in later today.  We'll see.  I've decided to focus on tiger parts, no matter how loudly this new bird project is screaming at me, until the quilt along starts on Friday.  Next week you'll get to see how well I did with that!

Happy quilting,

Monday, February 27, 2023

school bus finish!

Another finished quilt?


(But remember I quilted three in January?  This is the last of those.)

This all started out in 2021 with my Sticks Project, but other than a single blog reference, I cannot find the photo of said sticks.  Apparently this quilt was chosen for July - I believe the stick would have said something like "Quilt from a Book," meaning I could start a new one.

Going back in the blog (because with the new computer, all my photos are dated the day I transferred them, not the date they were taken or uploaded...sigh...), it looks like I bought fabric in August...

I remember being super excited about the fabric for the back (on the bottom here), but struggling with all the other fabrics.  I love the orange and the black isn't bad (directional, but I can do this)...but the turquoise and yellow?  I remember standing in the store, staring into space a lot, trying to envision the final product.

Once everything was washed and pressed and folded neatly, I could start cutting...

There are two alternating blocks, so a lot of strip piecing was able to happen here.  But it was A LOT of pieces!  (I mean, I've done more, but it still seemed tedious.)  It really doesn't look like much here, but those stacks are pretty tall.

And then I saw this and groaned...

See what I mean about a lot of pieces?  But what's a quilter to do when they really want that quilt?  Buckle down and make them.  That's what.

Whoa that's a big stack!  Better get to pressing and trimming before it has other ideas about the shape and location it should be in...

Lots of trimmings and if I remember right, my arm and shoulder were sore the next day, but it was done.

On to sewing units into blocks - which was a bit tedious, but was also a turning point where things started going faster.  Add in seeing it start to look like something for encouragement and it got easier.

Next up was the layout.  In reviewing my blog posts, I wasn't sure if the white cornerstones (and middlestones?) would be what I wanted, but I realized it needed that pop, so I found some solid off-white in the stash (it took just a small amount) that worked nicely and started top assembly.

Apparently I took no photos there (because I can't find any - the photos all transferred, they just re-dated themselves - thankfully they're at least in folders by year so there's that...but that was ALL me!), but next thing I had a top.  That I also did not take any photos of.


Anyways, then it sat for a while, aging.

And then I decided it was time.

I flipped through my longarm inspiration books and couldn't decide what to do for quite a while.  I always think about doing something custom first, but often I end up deciding to go the easy way and do an overall design.  That's what happened here.  And since you'll not be able to see it on the quilt, I took a photo of the design from the book Pajama Quilter Reloaded called "fern ziggle."

It reminds me of an intestinal tract, so the whole time I was doing this I kept thinking about that.

My longarm behaved nicely, even with black thread, which was a surprise because often black thread, due to how it is dyed and treated and whatnot, breaks most easily.  Maybe my machine has finished with its temper tantrum phase?


Here it is loaded, ready to go.  You can see the white cornerstones and middlestones (yeah, I made that word up, but what else do you call it?) and how the whole quilt layout works.

It took a while longer than I anticipated, but that motif is fairly intensive.  I also almost went blind because I couldn't see a darn thing most of the time!  Black on black is not the best idea.

But I got it done, attached the binding and waited for the sew-in to happen and off I went with my overly ambitious three quilts.  Thankfully, the next month, I got to it and now it's on my couch!

The colors here are a bit darker than actual (see the photo on the longarm for a more true representation), but it's close.  And good enough.

I made it differently from the original because they had a 6x8 setting, which meant you had a different block in each corner.  That bugged the bejeezus out of me, so I did a 7x7 setting and fixed that whole problem with just one more block.

Quilt stats:
Pattern: School Bus
Source: Country Girl Modern book by Jo Kramer and Kelli Hanken
Size: 71x71" (I'm pretty sure)
Pieced and quilted by me!

This turned out louder than I anticipated (because, you know, I bought brighter fabrics because after standing there in the aisles for a while, I knew I better not walk out empty handed!), but I do like it.  I had hoped quilting it would help me like it more (sometimes that happens), but I'm still just in like with it, not in love.  It's all good.  They can't all be winners that way.

In other quilty news, I have finished the Polaroid blocks for the Color Explorer Challenge.  I got a bit ahead of myself, but when I ran out of hammock fabric, I decided to just make the last few all at once and then I'd be able to focus on something else more easily than every day having to set up for a single blocks.  So here they are!

bonus day: avocado

day 20: amaranth

day 21: blue skies

day 22: forest

day 23: bubblegum

day 24: peachy

day 25: emerald

(yes, yes, this is more blue, but the color swatch is actually fairly close to this and I was over trying to match things identically when I found sock monkeys)

day 26: fuchsia

day 27: creamy yellow

day 28: turquoise

Now I have to figure out how to put them together, but I'll get there.  I have some ideas.  Maybe today, maybe later this week, but I'd like to have it done sooner rather than later.  At least the top.

With this done(ish), I was able to move on to the tiger again...finally!

This is 18 of the 20 sections I've done in the last few days.  Two very focused days of 10 sections each got me one side of the face (more or less).  The other two sections are long, skinny, leafy sections much like you see on the far left, but they go on the section below this one.

I doubt I'll get as much done today, what with all the other chores and computer shenanigans of the morning, but this is definitely progress from where I abandoned it months ago.

The eyeball was exciting and laying it all out and stepping back for a photo is really encouraging.

And finally, you may remember the Pantone quilt challenge I participated in back in 2019?  I was so excited to do it again in 2020, but it never happened.  Nor did it happen in 2021 or 2022, BUT!  The gal who originated the challenge was thrilled to turn over the reins to two new gals who announced (via Instagram) that it would be happening again this year!

The official announcement won't happen for a couple more weeks, but they made the informal announcement late last week.  It turns out the rules are the same as they were the last time, but I wanted to be sure before I selected a pattern or purchased anything.

The color (decided by Pantone) is magenta.  I'm not a pink person, but I can work with this, right?

To the Pinterest boards!

At first, when fabric shopping, this quilt was on my mind, so I bought some funkier, larger prints, thinking this would be great.

And then I got home and was scrolling through stuff and came across this one.  And how great would this be with birds with magenta in them?  So I had to go back and buy that more traditional-looking magenta print and some more background and oh dear what have I done?

So now I don't know what I'll be making.

Maybe both?

Oh, the fabrics...

You can see I already have the Sparrows pattern - purchased recently at a quilt show.  The fabric at the top just screams birds at me.  The fabric on the bottom is what inspired a the log cabin-ish blocks idea.

The official kickoff of the Pantone challenge isn't until mid-March, so I'm going to focus on the tiger for a bit, maybe get that together - or at least all the sections sewn? - and let this simmer a bit.

And now I'm off to do...I don't know what?  It's freezing raining here (AGAIN, DAMMIT) and the day is grey and gloomy and feels right for a book and using a quilt, not so much sewing one, but that tiger isn't going to get done if I just read books all day, so hmmm...

Happy quilting,