Thursday, March 31, 2016

Block Problems

Here's a third episode from last week that contributed to my lack of productivity here on the blog. When I cut out the 16th block for Best of All, I decided that if I were going to be efficient in making this at retreat, then I ought to make one just to get some sense of order for making the units for the block.
 I loved creating this little unit, and I love the combination of fabrics. Seeing just this little part made makes me very excited to continue working on this quilt.

 This unit intimidated me a bit because of all those biases. NO STRETCHING!! I did my best to keep the units in shape.

 I put the center portion together, and with the exception of a couple of intersections, I was pleased to this point. But then came trouble.

When I added that outer portion, everything was off - and not by just a little bit. I'm talking over half an inch off. What on earth?? I was flummoxed.

I took it with me to quilting on Friday morning to ask Terry if she encountered any difficulties when she made hers. This is when I learned that I was working on the wrong quilt.

But Terry did indicate that she'd had no trouble with constructing the blocks for this quilt. I took every part of the outer rim of the block apart, and resewed, using a slightly larger seam. Then I tried putting it back together. That is what is shown above. And it is still wavy and wonky. I could not figure out where I'd made a mistake, but obviously one had been made. My best guess at this point was that it occurred in cutting the triangles for the outer part of the block.

On Tuesday when Sharon P. was here for sewing, I decided that I would make the first block I cut out. It would help me to see if I'd made a mistake all the way through. Since #16 was such a mess, I certainly hoped that #1 would go together correctly.

 It went together like a dream! Yay!! In just a passing observation sort of way, I mentioned that the center square looked bigger on this block than on the previous one. Eureka!! I'd made THE discovery! This was where I'd incorrectly cut. The center square is supposed to be cut at 4.5 inches; I'd cut block #16 at 4.25 inches. A quarter of an inch makes all the difference in the world, as we all know!

Here are the two blocks side by side on the design wall. It is evident seeing them together that the block on the left has "issues." I am so glad that the other block went together properly. I will proceed with making this quilt, confident that the remaining blocks are going to work too. I think I only messed up on the last block I cut because it was late at night, and because it was the last block and I was hurrying. Never do that - hurrying is bad when cutting.

Today, I need to be reading, not sewing. Tomorrow is book club and I have most of my book to read. Title: Blood From Stone by Frances Fyfield. British murder mystery. I am reading it on the iPad/Kindle, and I'm only 13% done.

Happy Quilting, or Reading, Friends!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

About That Cutting Frenzy...

The last post I wrote before the week-long hiatus, was about this fabulous cutting frenzy I was in. I'd cut out 16 blocks to make a scrappy star quilt to be prepared for our upcoming sew-along at the Canter's Cave retreat. Have a click-back to read about it. I was so pleased with the variety of all my blocks and the clever way in which I organized them in that flat box.

When I went to quilting on Friday morning to meet the Frankfort girls, I learned that 'Best of All' was not the quilt we were doing together for the sew-along. Geesh. I'd cut out the wrong quilt.

That's what I get for feeling proud of myself. (Pride goeth before the fall?) When I thought I was getting ahead in cutting, I was actually devoting valuable time to a quilt that we aren't making. Oh, goodness.

The quilt we are making, I was informed, is a Kim Diehl quilt called 'All In A Row.' It is a wonderful churn dash quilt, using very similar scrappy fabrics as 'Best Of All.' Jan had given me the pattern, and I vaguely recalled where I'd put it - where I'd remember, of course. I dug it out yesterday. It will take a lot of time to cut out, so I'd best get started on it. I do want to make it, and I do think a sew-along with the girls will be fun.

The photo above, a bit fuzzy, was taken from the Martingale website where the pattern is available for download. (I hope they don't mind my using it. I will be making their pattern, so I hope it's okay to use the picture.) My print-off is also fuzzy, so I'd hoped to find a clearer image.

Why will it take me forever to cut out? The directions say to cut out each of the center 9-patches individually - as in 1.5" squares of all that variety of scrappiness - a time-consuming endeavor, for sure. 

This major cutting mistake was another of those "episodes" mentioned in yesterday's post which interfered with posting to the blog. It is a lot more fun to write about good stuff than it is to write about mistakes. And now you are beginning to see a fuller picture of the week. A setback like this tends to put me in "shut-down" mode. I just stop. No going back to the sewing room; no getting right back to work with the correct project. I couldn't think about it for a few days. And with Easter and the arrival of house guests and then that awful dogbite, I was stymied.

But it appears I've returned with new resolve. I have a couple more catching-up posts to write about, so I hope you will join me back here tomorrow!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

6,283 Reasons Why I've Not Blogged for a Week

Okay, I don't really have that many reasons, but as the one or two reasons piled up into three, then four, then more, I became overwhelmed. Where does one begin???

I decided I would break the events of the last week down into individual 'episodes.' Read together, they will paint a full picture of the week leading up not just to Easter and time with family, but also to sewing time with friends.

My twin nieces had been telling their parents that they wanted to come to Aunt Jayne's house again. The last time they came to stay overnight was Labor Day. You can refresh your memory of that fun experience by clicking here. They wanted to make outfits for their American Girl dolls, and they brought one pair of doll pants needing to be repaired.

My thought was that sewing doll clothes just by myself is tedious enough. I could not fathom doing it with two sets of 8-year-old fingers involved. So I did just about two whole outfits before they came, and left things like buttons and ribbons for them to sew. They loved their new doll clothes.

Anna Rose and Mary Jean
Close-up of the new doll outfits.
The whole overnight experience was cut short when we had a very scary and upsetting altercation involving a dogbite.  DH and DS had taken the girls out to roast hotdogs on a bonfire they'd started. Anna Rose had a hot dog and Steve (the dog) wanted it. He is normally such a well-behaved dog, but he just grabbed for that hot dog and took a piece of Anna Rose's left pinky with it. Oh my gosh! Amidst the screaming and blood, we wrapped it and called her parents to meet us at the ER. That was a very long evening, but no stitches were required. They cleaned the wound, applied antibiotics, and bandaged it. 

This all happened on Friday night, and we saw them next on Easter at my sister's house. By then, sweet Anna Rose was doing very well; she does not seem at all traumatized. She told me her "scratch" is already healing, and it doesn't hurt. It was traumatizing for me, have no doubt. 

Call me Aunt Basket Case. Especially on Friday. Anna Rose alleviated my worry on Sunday, bless her heart. She is just the sweetest thing. They both are! What they say about twins is very true - Mary Jean was just as 'injured' as her sister - the tears and sobbing, I swear she felt everything as if it had happened to her, too.

Episode one - the dog bite. That is by far the worst thing to happen in the last week. Come on back tomorrow for additional episodes, none of which are as upsetting as this one. Thankfully.

I guess I should say that hospitals are required to report all dog bites to the county health department. We had a visit from them yesterday and Steve is now quarantined for 10 days. We have to show proof of rabies shots. His future will require a leash whenever a child is around. Every. Single. Time.  

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Cutting Frenzy

I'd like to think I am in the middle of a cutting frenzy, and perhaps by my normal standards, I am; however, I'm actually doing this in a rather slow and methodical way.

Yesterday's post referenced a quilt that we all have the option of working on together at our upcoming retreat at Canter's Cave. The quilt is called Best of All by Country Threads. Terry made hers awhile back, and when we all saw it, we loved it, and the idea was born to do a group-sew - make the same pattern with our own fabrics.

Terry unveiled her version of Best of All back in 2015, I believe. A group of us were at her house for a day of sewing. Jan suggested that we each make one and most of us agreed that it would be fun. Jan cut hers out almost immediately. I now have mine ready. Here are the fabrics I pulled.

Since each block is made individually, I wondered how I could best keep each block separated and organized. I tried using little baggies, but this became a problem because I would forget which parts I'd cut and which still needed to be cut and were enough of each piece cut -yada-yada-yada- I needed a different plan.

Because I'd just glued several hexies and POTC parts to cardstock/paper, I thought maybe a modified version of that method would work for these blocks, too. Here is a picture of how I ended up doing it. I didn't need glue, and I didn't lay out the entire block, but I did lay out approximately a quarter of a block so that each part of the block was in place. I stacked them in a box, one on top of the other, separating each with a sheet of paper.

 You can see that I've used a cardboard box from the grocer's; the can marks are visible under my first block.The box will be easily transported to the retreat. I will wrap it up somehow to keep all the parts where I want them. Weight them down, first, perhaps. Yes, this should work well.

This picture shows that several are stacked on top of that first block. It was a system that ended up working rather well, so I will probably use it again when I cut out this next quilt, called (I think) Baskets; it's a Kim Diehl quilt from her book Simple Abundance. Again, Terry has made this quilt, and it's a beauty.

So far, I have only pulled the fabrics; no cutting yet. Remember, I'm slow and methodical, you now. Below are my fabric choices for Baskets.

Gotta' get busy!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Shopping the Stash

Happy Spring, Quilters and Friends! Isn't this a beautiful time of year?? Blue skies, budding trees and bushes, daffodils and crocuses - these fresh, new signs of the change of seasons are more welcome than a trip to the fabric shop! The pictures below were taken around our yard early last week.

When I finished the Market Basket quilts early last week, I had in mind that I wanted to make a quilt using the weather vane block. I'd had the tub of potential fabrics and the pattern stored away for a good long while, so I pulled it out and re-evaluated the plan. This was on Tuesday because Sharon was here. She offered some insight and asked key questions.

The pattern is called Lavender Fields from a book I've had for about 10-15 years called Mulberry Lane by Teri Christopherson. Below is a picture of the quilt I want to make.

Remember I said I wanted to work on something with nice big pieces and few triangles? This seems to meet those qualifications. Only 12 blocks which finish rather large; nice big sashing strips; yes, this will be a quickie, I do believe.

Now, for that stash shopping; below is what I have come up with, and obviously I doubt I will be referring to this quilt as Lavender Fields. It will likely just be called Weather Vane.

I built this combination around the big paisley print; I love a great paisley; always have. The darkest blue will be the center of the block; the brownish will be the corner pieces; the neutral will of course be the background, and the light blue, tone-on-tone will surround the dark blue center. My big paisley will be the sashing strips and the borders. All from the stash!! Yay!

While combining this grouping, I wondered what that same Weather Vane pattern would look like in all red and white. With just a little bit of encouragement from Sharon, I came up with a red grouping, too.

I've never been so organized that I've had a couple of quilts cut out and ready to sew at the same time, yet by the time we go to Canter's Cave, this just might be my reality. It will be an extraordinarily productive retreat, if so!

These two quilts will come on top of a quilt I have been cutting out for most of the past 3-4 days, at odd moments I find to work in the sewing room. (We  had a rather busy weekend!) And it is a quilt that will also be a project for the Canter's Cave Retreat. Jan had the idea that we all work on the same pattern, a scrappy quilt using country or reproduction prints. I will write more about it tomorrow, but I have finally gotten all 16 blocks cut out. I've also got quite a mess of fabric in the cutting area! Scrappy quilts are great, but what chaos they create when using so many different bits! Below is the neat box of fabrics I pulled to get started; believe me, it does NOT look like this any longer!

And, incredibly, I was in the mood to pull fabric for one more quilt I have had on my radar. I will proved the details on it later, as well. Suffice it to say, though, that this sudden attack of advanced planning is not like me in the least. Here is the final grouping.

Four quilts moving ever closer to completion, and all the fabric has come from the stash! It is satisfying to know I can to this; it is discouraging to realize I've barely made a dent. But pretty quilts will be forthcoming, and I am motivated to do it. Maybe I've got Spring Fever.

Hope you have a good Monday! And a Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Bit of Hexie Prepping

Happy National Quilting Day!!

I will very likely celebrate with a bit of sewing today. I hope it is of the machine variety, but it could end up being hand stitching or even hand quilting. Any way I go, the day will definitely include quilting of some sort.

In my previous post, I promised to share the hexie blocks which I prepped night before last. I've been using a lot of red lately, and the idea came to me to use some of these prints in hexies and POTC blocks. Also, I am anticipating wanting to fill time when we go to Canter's Cave. Those days get long, and at some point it feels necessary to switch gears, moving from the machine to the easy chair. These will keep me productive.

Two-sided tape helps keep these parts in place; 4x6-inch note cards provide some sturdiness for mounting. These will travel nicely to Canter's Cave. Nice little bit of variety, isn't it? I do not have any plan in mind for these, so I will make them and await an ah-ha moment. Surely, one will come...

After finished the 5 hexies, I had the idea to put a POTC block together using only these reds. Actually, the fabric pack I had included a border print; this entire block came from that one piece. I think it looks pretty good. I still feel like such a rookie when planning these blocks; I figure the only way I will improve is to continue to practice. Again, I have no plan for how I will use this once it's sewn together.

Hope you can celebrate National Quilting Day with a bit of creating! Go for it!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tuesday With Sharon

It had been ages since our schedules worked out for Sharon and I to resume our regular Tuesday sewing days, but we finally did it this week. So much to catch up on! It's a good thing we can sew and talk at the same time.

With the recent conclusion of PBS's Downton Abbey, Sharon had shopped online and found a 50%-off sale on all Downton Abbey fabric by Andover. Well, who could resist that? Here's what she was able to get; apparently it was selling fast.

She bought some yardage and a roll of 2.5-inch strips (Andover has a different name than jelly roll, which apparently is just a Moda thing). I love the way the different fabrics are named. I cannot recall very many of them, but I wrote down the ones Sharon has. The gray is called Dowager's Lace; the brown is called Mary's Ribbons.

The line that was cut into 2.5-inch strips is called the Downstairs Collection -  all very understated and very much like the shirtings that we all know from the 80s and 90s.

This particular strip with the silhouette of the mansion and the title of the show is not cut very well for any practical use. That is rather a disappointment, isn't it?

By the end of our day, Sharon had these blocks sewn together and displayed on the design wall. She sent a message yesterday saying that she had finished all 42 blocks that she planned. Can you say motivated? This will be such a wonderful quilt.

While Sharon worked on this, I finished the top of my niece's wedding quilt. Now I have ideas floating around in my head for a backing. I then spent the entire afternoon pulling fabrics and setting them aside for future quilts I am planning to make. Our Canter's Cave retreat is coming up in a few weeks, so the planning I am doing is with that in mind, somewhat.

Last night, I found myself with time to PLAY!!! I cut out some EPP shapes and prepped them for stitching. I will share those in my next post.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Finished Market Day Quilts

Well, the Market Day tops are finished. I will have to schedule some time for quilting them in the near future. Just to get to this point, finally, is reason to celebrate, however, so please indulge me while I happy dance awhile. *grin*

The large version finishes at around 28 inches.
The small version finishes at around 15 inches.
A closer look at the border fabrics.
The pair of little quilts was fun to work on, and I've been continuing work on my niece's bridal quilt, too. Next  up for me is to work on something with nice big pieces and few triangles. That seems to feel right.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Market Day - Encountering Trouble

One thing that rather annoys me is the overwhelming urge to point out mistakes when we show our quilts to others. We ought to let the beautiful work speak for itself; a finished quilt is an impressive accomplishment. But, it seems to be our tendency to show everyone the mistakes. Yes, even veteran seamstresses and quilters find themselves picking out stitches, correcting mistakes, and erasing evidence of miscues. "Get the ripper!"

I was just zipping along with the units to make my two little Market Basket quilts. I finished them and felt so proud. Then I saw the mistakes. Below is the smaller of the two quilts, but the large one had similar errors.

I've overlayed some arrows so that I can make referencing easier to manage. It is interesting to note that all the errors in both quilts involve HST units. Those darn things are so easy to get turned around or mixed up.

The pink arrow is pointing out the most obvious error. I turned the HST the wrong direction. This was immediately evident, and believe it or not, I made the exact same mistake in the larger version.

The mistakes involving the blue and yellow arrows are not as evident, and actually, I considered leaving them alone. The two blocks at the yellow arrows are made with a darker neutral; the two blocks at the blue arrows are made with a lighter neutral. These need to be switched around. All the light neutrals are supposed to be surrounding the center star. Would anyone really have noticed it? Probably not. But I would have noticed, and after looking at it for about a day, I decided I might as well get it right.

I picked out the mistakes while watching TV last evening; below are the very sorry looking quilt tops.
Large version
Small version
Just now I have finished the fixes. At last, the big reveal. Borders coming soon.

Center of large version; 21 inches square
Center of small version; 11 inches square
I asked DH help me figure the number of pieces in the quilts; can you believe 246? Whoa. That many pieces in an 11-inch block and in a 21-inch block; I'm glad we didn't figure that out beforehand. I may never have started them!

So now to borders. I have them selected for the small one, but have yet to find exactly the right thing for the large one. (Shopping the stash, you know.)

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Market Day - Step 6

I should say up front, especially if any readers are intending to make these little quilts, that I am arbitrarily naming these steps and they are different from the way pattern maker Pam Buda labeled hers. Her QAL had participants making some blocks in several steps, and I condensed those into one - if I need 20 HSTs, then I'm making them all together. Same with the 9-patches. You end up with the same results, but in a more direct manner.

Okay, so here is my final step before construction - those cute little pinwheels. In red! They promise to make these little quilts fun.

Both large and small version; needed 8 for each.
Now all the units are constructed and the next step is sewing them together to make the center of the top. Below are the parts needed for the large version which should finish around 21 inches.

And below are the units for the small version which should finish at around 11 inches.

Next post will be like a great reveal. Isn't that exciting!??!  I need to decide on inner border and outer border. Pattern directions say gold for inner border and red for outer. I will likely follow those directions.

Hope you all have a Fantastic Saturday!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!