Thursday, January 31, 2019

My Little Quilting Saga

Wow....this is even harder to do than I had anticipated. All of the quilting designs that I have worked out require ruler work and boy-oh-boy it is super challenging!!!! Even the simplest straight lines are not easy but those curved lines are kicking my butt. And don't get me started on trying to get nice sharp points on designs that need them - mine all roll around the tip of the point! We will call those blocks artistic impressions. :)

I was hoping that I could start off with doing at least a row of quilting at each attempt but that is just not possible for me right now. It requires so much concentration and attention to hold the ruler, move the machine and keep my hands/fingers out of the way while holding the ruler and, of course, trying to execute the design. :) Let's just say I am not very coordinated! My first attempt was just two blocks, my second attempt was three blocks, and now I am almost finished the second row of  blocks. I really do need to just relax and let it happen. :)

Even though I was determined to not pick out any of my quilting I did indeed do so! Look at this block - I couldn't even manage to quilt the design within the lines. ;)  So, I did pick out the edges of the design where they should not have been. It is okay to be creative but honestly that was ridiculous. :)

Despite the challenges I do see some improvement in my skill and my attention span as I go along so there is a definite positive to my little saga. :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Blind Man's Fancy Block

first finished block :)
Progress has been made on this block and I like it but it took a while to get there. Once I decided on the fabric for the large corner triangles I checked to make sure that I will have enough and we are good to go.

fabric remnants that I used for test triangles
I still needed to do a bit of testing though because I am not following a pattern so mistakes can happen. I was not 100% sure what size to cut the side triangles and I didn't want to waste my 'good' fabric so I decided to do my testing with fabric trimmings that I had leftover from the backing on my Jewel Box quilt. I am so glad that I did because I totally forgot about something.

oops...these don't fit too well
I wanted to use standard 2.5" triangles and squares for the star block but I forgot that when you put the block on point things go awry. The trial set of corner triangles that I cut and sewed to the star block looked perfectly okay until I tried to set the hst sections to the block. It was a definite no go - I was out by about 1/2" on each side.
trial and error!
these corner triangles will fit much better

I used my Easy Angle ruler to cut the triangles and mathematically I think it should have been 6.5" hsts on the corners but the block really wanted something like 6.75" to work with the outer hsts. In the end, I decided to go with 7" hsts and I am happy with the result. You can see that the star is floating within the center of the block and it works for me! We all have small variations when we sew and I think these corner triangles fit my block quite well. I am so glad that I did a test with scrap fabric first so I didn't use up any of the fabric I wanted to use in the quilt.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Nearly There!

I have made very good and steady progress on these split nine patch blocks and I almost have enough for a quilt.

At first I wasn't sure which layout I would choose for this quilt but once I saw how it looked on my design wall I knew it was the one I was going to go with - I love it!

I have been sewing these blocks into groups of four as I go along and I think I only need 12 more sets which equals 48 more individual split nine patch blocks. That shouldn't take too long because I already have a ton of hsts already made so these blocks go together very quickly.

At this rate I will soon have a finished flimsy that will be ready for quilting. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Framed Blocks Quilting

Yikes! At least the purple ink will disappear.
I got the quilt loaded and I thought everything would be a-okay but I didn't anticipate something. I decided to load the quilt sideways because I had to piece the backing to get the right width. Normally, I want the long seam to lie horizontal to the rail and so I just went ahead and did that. I followed suit with the quilt top and that means that the top is now oriented horizontally. That could make the quilting a bit more of a challenge than it already is because if I do any designs that have a distinct top and bottom orientation I have to do them sideways!!! Oh well, it is all a good learning experience.

My first attempt at the quilting was not as good as I would have liked but I am not discouraged. There are lots of bobbles and wobbles and uneven spacing but I will definitely not be doing any ripping of stitches as this quilt will be a journal of my progress. At the least I do hope that I will progress with my quilting skills as I go along. :)

I got the first two blocks finished and then I just needed to stop because I couldn't think of what to put in the center of the blocks. I know I have the books to reference for ideas but it was difficult to do it on the fly. So I spent some time creating some of my own designs as well as taking some ideas from the reference books. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I was able to come up with at least 19 designs to use on 56 blocks.

Now I just have to make them happen on the quilt top - that will be another story I am sure!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Figuring it Out

test block
I have started working on the Blind Man's Fancy block and so far I have one that is partially made. This one is a test to determine which way I want seams to be pressed as well as just an overall view of what my blocks will look like when they are finished. This block is humongous due to the fact that I am using 2.5" hsts and corner squares and whenever I see it on my design wall I just want to laugh. I am so used to making blocks that are sooooo much smaller that it seems really weird to see one on my design wall that is 16"!

I started piecing my test block with the center star and made it without any issues and that is perfect. Next, I worked on the hsts in the outer edges. I have found that I have to pay close attention to the orientation of the components when I stitch them together because they could really cause me some trouble. It is so easy to get them turned around as I am taking them to the sewing machine.
option 1
I am still working out which fabric I would like in the large triangles and I have picked out two options so far.

option 2
At this point, I am leaning toward the second option and I think I have enough of the fabric so we will see.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ready for Quilting

I have chosen the fabric that I will use for the backing for the Framed Blocks and I have washed it and pieced it together. Since I am going to do custom quilting I hope that the print won't be so busy that the quilting designs will be lost but I also hope that it won't show any of my boo-boos. ;)

Even though I do not want the top thread to stand out in each block I don't plan on using multiple colours of thread. I have decided to use So Fine (#402) Pearl as my top thread in hopes that it will blend in no matter what colour block I am working on. I know that there are lots of quilters out there that like to see the thread as part of the quilting design but I much prefer to see the texture of the design and not the thread. I have chosen to use cream magnaglide in the bobbin as I like to match my top and bottom thread as close as I can. It can sometimes be really difficult to achieve perfect top and bottom tension so this prevents any potential stress.

I don't normally spend too much time trimming threads from the back of the flimsy but this time I did need to take a bit of care. The black fabric that I used is a bit thready along the cut edges and it was showing through the white fabric. I am sure I didn't get them all and that with rolling the quilt top I will probably make even more. Hopefully, they won't show through too much!

I am ready to load everything onto the frame and I have some quilting design reference books at the ready to refer to when I need ideas for the block centers.

I am ready to go - wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

More Split Nine Patches

I love how my design wall looks!
It seems like my sewing room is completely covered in the hsts that I have been working on but at least some of them are finding their way into these split nine patch blocks.

I have been trying to piece together at least a few every day and I now have the beginnings of a quilt! I also have two nice little stacks of 11 blocks each ready for me to pair up and stitch together. That would make another five and a half larger blocks to add to my design wall. I don't think it will be long before I have enough for a quilt. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Another Quilt Started

I was looking at different block ideas and I have decided on a block that will use up lots of my 2.5" hsts and I think it will make up into a great quilt. This is block #2072 in Block Base and is known as Blind Man's Fancy.  Because I wanted to use all hsts I did make a slight modification to the original design. I substituted the flying geese patches with hsts and I think that will work for me. I also changed the center of the star into a four patch from a single square of fabric.

Please ignore the fabric choices in the photo as they were just what was easily available in EQ7. My block will definitely be scrappy other than the larger triangles (maybe). I am not 100% sure what that fabric choice will be but, of course, that can be decided later. In the meantime, I can certainly get started on the center 4 patches as well as the star points and those wonderful hsts along the outer edge.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2019

As part of my efforts to make a dent in my 2.5" hst baskets I made these blocks over the past week.

I made sure to work with red hsts so that I could participate in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela at soscrappy.

I managed to make 6 broken dish blocks and 12 zig zag blocks. I have no plan at all for any of these blocks other than I might use them in rainbow quilts.
I think if I make a quilt using a vertical strip of sashing between these zig zags they might look like arrows once they are separated into columns. No need to commit to that decision yet though. ;)

I am linking up with other scrappy quilters here. Pop on over and check out all of the scrappy goodness!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Framed Blocks Flimsy

The last time I posted about these blocks was in February of  2018. I have moved them along since then and now they are stitched together into a flimsy. I didn't have enough space to spread out this very wrinkled flimsy so I folded it up and pinned it to my design wall.

I had been thinking about how I want to accomplish the quilting for what seemed like forever and I finally decided that I would try to do some custom quilting. As I have stated before, I am a definite beginner and I am downright intimidated by just the thought. I don't feel like this is something that will come easily to me but I do want to learn and I know that I must practice.

I had some ideas in mind but I was not very confident about the design so I had my quilty sister Cheryl visit and we went over my options. She helped me fine tune some of my ideas and I think I am ready to go. The design in the center of each solid colour block will vary but the dense back and forth quilting lines and the pebbling will be consistent within each block.

The only thing left to do is to press the flimsy, choose a backing fabric and to decide what colour thread to use and then I am ready to go!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Fabric Storage

Lately, I have been reading about quilters doing their new year tidying and sorting of the stash ritual and I thought I would add in my bit too! I have a lot of fabric....there I said it...and I hope to live long enough to use it all up PLUS SOME. :) I do plan on living to be at least 100 years old so it shouldn't be a problem. lol

There is always a storage issue with having a lot of fabric and it is no surprise that I am always trying to figure out the 'best' way. I think I have discovered something that will work really well for me when it comes to fat quarters/chunks and strips.

A year or two ago I picked up a basket system from a second hand store for $20. I thought it was fantastic and figured out that it was from Ikea and the storage system is called Algot. This single storage rack has 3 large mesh baskets that contain my 2", 2.5" and 3.5" strips that I have been diligently cutting using Bonnie Hunter's scrap user system. I did not have room for my 1.5" strips so they were in a separate bin (or two). You can see them sitting on top of the storage racks.

One of the changes that I alluded to in my Back to Blogging post is that my youngest son moved out in Sept and has happily begun a very rewarding career. We are just so proud of him! He is now currently living at least a 5 hour drive (without any stops) from us and I am a bit sad about that. :(

But.....that means his room has been cleared out and is now in the process of becoming a guest room with - wait for it - extra space for my fabric storage. A positive can be found even in just about any negative. :) My husband and I have been working on the room with painting, etc., but there is still more work to be done. The floor needs to be sanded and coated and the baseboards and trim still need to be painted and then the quarter round needs to be reinstalled. Enough about all that work though!

The point is that I had my fat quarters stored in baskets in a closet and these baskets were stacked one upon each other. The closet was a bit dark and it just wasn't easy to see or access these wonderful and useful pieces of fabric. I do not have any other free space in my sewing room for this fabric so I had to live with the annoyance. Not anymore! For Christmas my husband gave me two more of these storage racks with mesh baskets that are about 5" in height and they are perfect for the fat quarter storage. They look great in the fabric storage room, I mean, the guest bedroom! :)

I think for my next birthday I will ask for another rack with small baskets to use to store the cones of thread that I use for my long arm. I think that would be another really good storage solution that will work great for me.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Charity Quilt

Yippee! I have my first finish for 2019 and it just happens to be a charity quilt. I finished hand stitching the binding late on Sunday afternoon and I am happy! As a matter of fact, I am so happy with the scrappy goodness of this quilt that I just may need to make another one to keep for myself or to give to a family member.

I can't say exactly when I started this quilt because I took a hiatus from blogging and then didn't keep track of any details. :(  What I can share about this quilt is that I love all of the scrappy goodness!

Sometimes I am so indecisive over what fabric to use as backing but not this time. Look at the date on this fabric - I think it's about time it found a home on a quilt!

Quite some time ago, my sister Glenda had picked up a couple sets of curtains that someone had made and they had been donated to the second hand store. I had no need for the curtains but the fabric was great - 100% cotton - and they were lined with another blue print that was also 100% cotton. My sister very generously gave me a set of these curtains a couple years ago to use for quilting. I washed the curtains and then took them apart to salvage the fabric and there it sat in my stash. When the curtains were made the sewist left the selvages on the fabric and hid them in the seams. :)

This quilt finished at 58" x 71" and is quilted with blue thread, Cansew #6317, on top and Hawaiian Blue Magnaglide thread in the bobbin. I used Heirloom 80/20 for the batting and the quilting design is a panto from Hermione Agee called Lush Leaves. I bound it using the same fabric I used for the backing.

Ready for its new home!
I love it and I hope it will make someone very happy to receive it. I did not name this quilt or put a label on it because when we make charity quilts for my Guild we are to be totally anonymous.

On a side note - I wasn't getting any comments sent to my email from my blog so I haven't responded to many of them. I have now figured out that it was a setting in blogger and the issue has been fixed. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to comment - I appreciate it greatly!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Split Nine Patches

Oh my oh I ever have the makings for a lot of quilts just from my 2.5" hsts alone. Over the past couple days I have continued to work on my 2.5" hst bins and I now have another 2000 completed. I am officially inundated with these hsts.

I have decided to start with making some split nine patches and I got four blocks made this morning. These four blocks are not well pressed yet because I am not too sure about the final layout and I don't know which way I want the seams to go. I will take care of the final pressing once I have that figured out.

Look at that - I have used up 12 hsts - lol. At this rate it will be a very long time before I see the bottom of the bins. I will just churn these blocks out until I think I have enough for a quilt and in the meantime I will have to decide about other hst blocks that I can make. I have been thinking about making broken dishes, birds in the air, stars, and, of course, pinwheels but I don't have any design ideas or plans at the moment. I think I just need to start sewing and see what I come up with.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Fabric Wrangling

Several years ago, I really cannot remember how long ago it was, my quilty sister purchased an Accuquilt Studio fabric cutter and dies. I was thrilled for her and for me too because that meant I would be able to use it too.

I had inherited quite a bit of fabric from my sister-in-law when she passed away in the late 90s and the fabric was just sitting on my shelves and it sat there for many years. There was fabric from the 80s and 90s in her stash as well as some much older and I was sure that if I cut it into usable sizes and shapes that it would be much more likely that I would use it up.

At the time I was working full time and I just didn't have a lot of free time available to me so I asked my sister to cut quite a bit of this older fabric into standard shapes and sizes using her new die cutter. Sadly, after it was cut it sat on my shelves in bins waiting and waiting and waiting. Sound familiar - same fabric - different shapes. :(

If the fabric had been mostly neutrals I would have used it up in no time but that was not the case. Of course, I would use small amounts of it here and there whenever I made a scrappy quilt and over the years I would dutifully cut down my scraps and I would add those bonus bits into these bins as well. These triangles were always ready and waiting to be used but somehow I always managed to NOT use them as I should have.  Boy did I ever feel guilty and overwhelmed whenever I looked at all of those baskets. Well...NO MORE!!

I have a plan now and I hope to make many very scrappy quilts over the next while to put this fabric to good use. I have started with the 2.5" hst bins and I am sewing these triangles into pairs using a print and a neutral.

Several months ago, my quilty sister moved and didn't have space for the die cutter and decided to sell it. She gave me first dibs and I decided that it should definitely stay in the family. :) I have been using the 2.5" hst die to cut lots of neutral triangles and over the last while I have been spending lots of time stitching the hsts and I am making slow but steady progress. I have been working on them for so long now that I feel like the energizer bunny but without the energy. ;)

I already have these 3 baskets filled and there are approximately 2000 hsts in each basket. Excessive - I know. :(  I still have many more to make but at least these hsts now have a better chance at being included in a quilt.

If only all problems could be so frivolous and so easily solvable!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Back to Blogging!

I have decided that it is time to revive my blog after quite a long absence. I know that I am not always a consistent blogger but this last break was quite ridiculous time wise! Life happens and changes happen and time for creativity gets lost in the shuffle.

Over the past months, I have spent quiet time visiting many of my favourite blogs on a regular basis watching so many quilts being made and seeing so much creativity happening and wishing I was doing the same.

I haven't spent as much time as I would like working on my quilting but I have been squeezing some time in here and there. I really miss blogging because it does act as my journal and my written documentation for my quilts and my quilting journey. I kept telling myself that I would write everything down as I worked on various projects in my sewing room but that certainly didn't happen!!

I just finished the quilting on this scrappy charity quilt and I am ready to start hand stitching the binding. Of course, I do not have a record of most of my journey with this quilt and that makes me a bit sad but I think it is going to be a wonderful quilt and someone is going to love to receive it.

When I loaded this quilt onto the frame I decided at the last second to load it sideways and wasn't thinking about the size of the batting. Luckily, I had just enough to do the job! See....these are the small details of the journey that get lost when they are not documented. I must do better!!