Thursday, October 31, 2013

WIP Wednesday... Um... Thursday

Well, as is often the case around here, I am a day late and a dollar short.  I woke up yesterday morning determined to take some decent pictures of all of the quilty stuff that's been going on around here and get a blog post written, but I made the mistake of taking a detour into the sewing room to gather everything and got... um... distracted.  I barely made it out alive!  Well, not really, but by the time I finished up in there and gathered my stuff and went out to find a suitable location for my photo "shoot", it was 4:30 in the afternoon.  Whew!

As you might have guessed from the photo above, I finally got the edge pieces and borders sewn onto the Starflower quilt from Amanda's Starflower QAL.  I had been putting it off, but I'm not sure why.  This looks like a difficult and intricate quilt, doesn't it?  If you try it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  Amanda's instructions are superb, well written, and very easy to follow.  Even better, the results are fantastic!  Would you look at those points???  And they're not a fluke.  Every.  Single.  Point.  Matches.  Perfectly.  It's so nice to create something that turns out so well.  And it was easy.  Really.  I am truly amazed and excited by this quilt.  Now to find the perfect backing!

I finished up the top of the Spot-On quilt late last week.  Spot On is another of the patterns in Camille Roskelly's Simplify book, so this is one more toward my goal of making all the quilts in the book.  I ordered fabric from someone other than my favorite shop, and I must have gotten spoiled by the same-day shipping because it seemed to take forever.  I ordered this on Thursday, but it didn't ship until Monday, and so it was Thursday before it arrived.  A whole week!  I admit that was a bit impatient and frustrated.  I will say, however, that when it arrived the fabric was perfectly cut and nicely wrapped, which was very pleasant.

I had the leftovers of the layer cake, plus a charm pack, some scraps, and the leftover yardage, so I created a really scrappy back for it.  It's kind of fun.  Notice anything unusual.  Yup.  Totally outside my norm, I used tons of gray.  Still, I have to admit that it works really well with Juggling Summer and really makes the colors pop.  I thought it was ironic that the front is all circles and the back is mostly squares...

I took my Modern Maples quilt along on my photo shoot...

Because I made a back for it as well.  I was going to do just the one big leaf, but then the charm pack called to me, and I couldn't resist doing this "falling leaves" motif.  Seemed appropriate for autumn, don't you think?  And I don't think there has ever been a time in my life I've bought 4  yards of Kona Coal in a two week period.   Don't worry though.  There's plenty left at the store!

I'm glad to finally get some decent pictures of the Quilts of Valor.  I have to admit that I really like this one.  The process of creating this quilt was really interesting to me.  I usually either use a pattern or have a really good idea of what the quilt will look like before I begin.  This one just kind of *grew*.  I started out with the flag idea from some scraps that were left from the star QOV, and it built itself, row by row.  And after all is said and done, I really like it.

I had a pretty good idea of what this one would look like when I started.  I wanted to do a large wonky star as a Quilt of Valor after being inspired by this quilt.  And I wanted the color scheme to be somewhat less traditional than red, white and blue.  The khaki in this quilt reminds me of the desert fatigues that so many of our troops wear now.  I'm pretty happy with this one as well.

Finally, I made a back for the bookshelf quilt I started last July when I was moving my sewing space and needed a quick sewing fix.  My friend had given me a few Santorini layer cake squares and some yardage so I decided to use what I had, and this was what I came up with. I honestly really like it.

The layer cake squares remind me a bit of cubbies, where you might place  your belongings at school or even stuff books into, and the pinwheels are sort of symbolic of the excitement and surprises one might find in books.  (I love to read, can you tell?)  Anyway, this was what distracted me so much yesterday.   It was a really fun quilt back to create.

So, even though there are no finishes to report this week either, I am making progress.   I love the idea of using what I had on hand to create an original quilt back to go with the quilt.  I'm sure I won't do that every time, but it was a fun challenge. 

Now, to get these sandwiched!  Let the quilting begin!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lots of activity (finally!) Not. One. Finish.

I have been in a bit of a creative funk lately.  For a couple of weeks I've been having trouble getting anything done.  I am here to say that I think my little funk was an aberration and I'm back in the groove.  Maybe.

Last week I posted photos of all the stuff in my to-be-quilted pile.  It is all still there.  Every last bit of it.  But it's funny how I got back on track...

A few months ago, my friend gave me this Juggling Summer Layer Cake to go along with the Juggling Summer FE bundle she gave me for my birthday.  (I have very generous friends, don't I?) 

So, last Friday, I was sitting here feeling all guilty about the stack of quilts that only needed backs so they could be sandwiched and quilted, and inspiration struck.  Finally.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the back of my Modern Maples quilt.

I dug into the back of that layer cake and pulled out 5 black squares and made this giant modern maples block.  It measures 27-1/2 inches.  It's gonna be the focal point on the back of that Modern Maples quilt.  I ordered some yardage to go along with it.  I think it's gonna be awesome.

And while I was digging around in that layer cake, I remembered a quilt pattern I've been wanting to make for-ev-er as part of my goal to make every quilt in Camille Roskelly's Simplify book at least once (there are several I've made more than that), and the rest of this Juggling Summer layer cake seemed like the perfect fabric choice.

So I grabbed the Wonder Under and started drawing circles.  And by Saturday afternoon, the layout was done...

all the circles were fused and appliqued onto the layer cake squares....

And by Monday afternoon, I had an almost-finished quilt top.  I'm still trying to decide what to do about the borders.  I used Kona Coal for the sashing (totally out of character, I know) because it really made the colors pop.  Yes, I admit it.  Gray has it's place.  (Speaking of gray, I'm sorry for the weird glary inside pictures, but it's been gray and gloomy here most of this week.  The weather seems to be more agreeable today, so maybe I'll try to get out and take some pictures later.)

I was catching up on my blog reading the other night and I noticed this quilt and it occurred to me that a giant wonky star would make a wonderful Quilt of Valor.  Our MQG has had an urgent request for Quilts of Valor  recently, and I've been planning to join in.  Yesterday, I dug into my newly purchased stack of fabrics and came up with this.  The problem is that the QOV Foundation has very specific rules for quilts to be accepted as Quilts of Valor.  They need to be a minimum of 50" x 70".  I wasn't there yet, and I was determined to work from my stash and not to buy any more fabric.

So, after some strategic fabric additions, here is the quilt I came up with.  It measures 60" x 75".  Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, although I'm not sure I don't regret using Kona Putty instead of Kona White for the background fabric.  The putty has the advantage of matching the background of the light colored prints, so it won out over white.  Hopefully I will like it more once it's quilted.

The original center of the star quilt was supposed to be this bright blue square, but it just didn't work.  It was way too bright for the rest of the fabrics in the quilt.  But that fail gave me another idea.  The inspiration for this quilt seemed to come just one piece at a time.  It isn't finished yet, and I still don't know exactly what it will look like. 

I added a Kona snow panel (I had the Kona in my stash) with cornerstones.  (Here I was auditioning this red floral fabric for another row.  Nope!)

Next I added a row of red and then a row of 6" squares with nine patch cornerstones....  It's coming.  It measures 48" x 54" right now.  But I think I'm going to have to break my rule and go buy some fabric for the outside rows.

So now I have 8 (count them! E.I.G.H.T.) unquilted quilts, all needing backs, all needing batting (sounds expensive!), all needing sandwiching (yuck), and all needing quilting and binding.

Guess I had better get busy!

Friday, October 18, 2013


I decided that today I would tell you about some of the non-quilty things I've been working on this month.  Despite my little rant about Flickr, there are still a few swaps going on.  This one - called the Secret Tote Bag Swap, is just ending, and this is the little tote I made for my partner.  I created the pattern myself, and I really like the fun shape the pleat gives to this roomy bag.  The theme was nature, and I found this pretty home dec fabric on the remnant rack at JoAnn's, which is not my usual thing, but it was so pretty, who could resist.  And I think it does make a pretty bag.  Whitney said she was a mom with young children and she requested lots of pockets, so it has my usual zipper pocket and double patch pocket on the inside.  I didn't take a photo of the inside, but the lining is a brown Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow print that was on sale at my LQS.

Another fun little project I did recently was this cute little pinnie.  My partner requested a wrist pin cushion, so I had to figure out how to do that.  (Isn't the internet wonderful?  I combined a bunch of ideas I found to make this little pinnie just what I wanted it to be.)  This one has a little plastic base (cut from a Cool Whip container lid) at the bottom so you won't stab yourself.

The patchwork is from the leftovers of the Fairy Tale Friends honey bun I used to make my Fairy Tale Friends Quilt, which was my first finish for 2013.  I put a little button and some felt leaves in the corner for a little flower.

I honestly have no idea where this little piece of Minkee (or Minkee knock off?) came from, but I found it in my scrap basket and decided it would make a really comfortable wrist band.  I used both elastic and velcro so it was v-e-r-y adjustable to just about any sized wrist.

And I don't remember if I told you about the little Friendship Bag I made for my partner in the Sewing With Friends swap.  Yup, same fabric.  I didn't have the pattern handy, so I just guessed.  I think it might be a little deeper than she specifies in the pattern, but hey - my philosophy is "If you're going to make it, make it your own."  In keeping with that idea, I used ribbon for the handles.

I'm working on the Autumn Sampler from the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.

I haven't done counted cross-stitch in years.  Are the holes in Aida cloth a lot smaller than they used to be???

I'm not making a ton of progress on this project so far...  I think maybe this one might be finished by NEXT autumn.

My friend Wanita's birthday was in August, but we just managed to get together this week to celebrate.  I made her this Union Jack bag for her birthday.  I've had the blocks done for-e-ver, but of course I didn't manage to finish the bag until the morning of our lunch (why rush into these things, right?)  Anyway, the blocks are from the Victory Garden quilt pattern.  I was kind of surprised at how huge these blocks turned out to be (originally, I was thinking Union Jack mug rug - but not from these monster blocks...  placemats came to mind.)  I used some Kona coal for the bottom of the bag so that the whole Union Jack would show.

I used this DS Quilts gray dot (yes, GRAY!) for the lining, with my favorite patch pocket.

So, that's what's been going on craft-wise around here...  What are you working on?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Elegy for Flickr

OK.  So this isn't a poem.  I don't really feel up to composing poetry today.  But the word "elegy" certainly reflects the intent of this post.

I really love swapping.  Making something for someone else - especially someone I've never met -  really pushes me out of my comfort zone and makes me try things I might not always feel confident about.  Maybe I would have tried the face on the Girl On A Swing that I mentioned in my last post if one of my quilt partners had requested it.  Who knows?

One of my first-ever swap projects

I have to say that I am more than a little disappointed that the Flickr platform has become so difficult and unpleasant to use since they made the changes this summer.  I have noticed that the participation on Flickr just isn't what it used to be.  There are fewer swaps and fewer participants in the swaps that do happen.  Discussions and conversations that used to go on just don't happen.

A Swap Package - Craft Apron, FQs, and an embroidered hoop
I've heard from some former Flickr participants that it takes so lng for the pictures to load and uses up so much bandwidth that they just can't afford to use Flickr any more.  Or, they can't get Flickr to load at all on their iPad or other device.  And where I used to be able to use Flickr on my phone, not only does it take forever for the app to load, the new mobile site just won't take me where I need to go.  I use Flickr Mail and Groups the most, but since Flickr is pushing random pictures on its mobile site, those are the places I have the hardest time getting to.

My "Ugly Quilt" has become one of my favorite quilts - Totally inspired by a Flickr challenge

And while I love Instagram, it just can't take the place of Flickr.  Because IG is so linear, unless you're looking for something in particular (and you know what people have used as the hashtag), you're likely to miss the good stuff.  It's not like you can just spend an hour on IG looking at pictures and adding things you like to your favorites like you could on Flickr.  Or make a mosaic or gallery of the ones you want to try.

And I love that the "Ugly Quilt" has blocks on the back - the challenge was to use ALL of the ugly fabric

The personal result of this is that I don't seem to feel nearly as creative as I did just a few months ago.  I have trouble getting excited about projects, and I don't seem as likely to say, "I love that!  I'm going to try it!" And actually do it.

The challenge here was words that start with "M"

And the people on Flickr were so helpful.  If you had a question or were having difficulty with a project, there were kind folks there who would offer help and advice.  And have you noticed that they're not "contacts" any more?   As of yesterday, they are "followers" now. What's in a name? I kind of liked that we were more like friends and equals than hangers-on and gawkers (although maybe we were those as well).

Hexies?  NEVER thought I would love hexies until I found Flickr.
Even more, the comments and feedback helped keep me excited and enthusiastic.  And it's the enthusiasm, I think, that I miss the most.  On IG, you can "Like" something and just keep moving.  The comments on Flickr were much more interactive and meaningful, I think. Not that you can't comment on IG, but it seems that few people do.

Wonky?  I never thought wonky was my style - until I saw all the fun wonky quilting on Flickr

So, alas!  Goodbye, Flickr.  I would gladly exchange the sharp, clear photos for the ease of use and community spirit Flickr used to have.

So, as much as I hate to say this...  Flickr,

How have the Flickr changes impacted you?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I am sorry to report that I have made virtually no progress on any of my WIPs this week.  I have been sewing - a little - but these are not what I have been working on.  I had hoped to get several quilts sandwiched and ready to quilt at the ECMQG meeting last Saturday, but since I didn't get the backs made, I wasn't able to get that done.  I love the big floor in the fellowship hall of the church where we meet.  It has a lovely indoor/outdoor carpet that holds the quilt very well until I get basting pins in it to hold it together.  So, the Modern Maples quilt is still in the WIP pile, waiting to be finished.

The good news is that I now know exactly what I'm going to do for the back of this quilt, which I didn't know on Saturday, so maybe it's a good thing that I waited.

The bookshelf quilt is also languishing in the WIP pile, and for the same reason.  Since I took this picture I have added borders to the ends to make it just a tad bit bigger.  My friend Leona gave me a bit of this fabric (I think I have called it by several different names, but it is Santorini, by Lila Tueller) that I plan to put on the back, along with a coordinating solid, I think.

I decided that the Wonky Cross quilt needs borders too, since it's just not quite big enough to be useful.  Oddly enough, the borders will involve gray!?!  I'm going to get that done very soon (I hope) and then make a back for this one - maybe one large wonky cross?  It could be cool.  We'll see.

The Bento Quilt top is done too, and just needs a back.  AFTER I finished this quilt top, I found several blocks that I missed because they weren't in the bag with the other and which didn't make it into the quilt.  It's kind of a shame, because if I had seen them before, I might not have needed borders at all.  But, rather than take it apart again, I think I will use the extra blocks on the back for a little pizzaz.

Oh!  I almost forgot this baby...  This one still needs the fill-in piecing around the points of the stars, and then maybe borders.  Amanda says she put borders on one of her quilts of this pattern but not on the other, and I think it is almost big enough as it is, so I may just leave it, as it is quite large without borders.  We'll see when I get that done.

I actually dug these ancient (from 2010) blocks out of the basket last week.  This was one of the very first modern-ish quilts I ever started.  The fabric is Breath of Avignon by American Jane.  The pattern is a Moda Bake Shop picnic quilt called - oddly enough - Avignon.  These were among the first charm packs I ever bought.  In fact, it was kind of my return to quilting piece, and I started making the blocks on my old machine before I realized/remembered that my foot was not 1/4".  Putting this one together may be a bit of a challenge.  The good news is that the blocks have finally seen the light of day again, and I hope to put the top together soon.

So there's what's going on in my WIP pile this week.  We;ll see if I make more progress than I did last week.  I'm hoping I do - maybe it will get me motivated again.

Meanwhile, I have a question (well, technically, several questions, but they are all related)...  Do you use pins to baste your quilts?  If so, what kind?  Or do you spray baste?  (I've never tried spray basting.)  What are the pros and cons, as you see it?

Inquiring minds want to know.