Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Elizabeth Reveal

Exciting stuff today, Peeps! Sunday evening late, I took the final stitches on Elizabeth. She is now a flimsy and has been enjoying several photo ops since her completion.

It's quite a satisfying finish, to be honest. This quilt is very, very fussy. While it only measures 81.5" square, it took 24 star blocks, 24 Delectable Mountains blocks, 24 triangle setting blocks and 12 4-patch filler blocks. It all required thinking, most assuredly. This was not one of those mindless projects that seem to just make themselves. It was work - but of the most rewarding kind. I love my results.

My idea was to have my four prettiest Delectable Mountains in the center of the quilt, so I made the two long diagonal rows first.

One benefit of doing this section first was that the most involved matching and pinning was taken care of from the get-go. Nice. For the rest of the quilt, I just used the random method of block placement, and if I were to criticize anything, it is that I could have taken more time to place blocks more pleasingly. But, I will not think about that. I will just enjoy the wonderful beauty of my newest flimsy.

Did I mention that the quilt required great care in construction? Here is a picture of the massive pinning I did to keep points matched, intersections crisp and everything even and in place. Whew. You can also see that I opted to press open all my seams. That took some time, as well, but I do believe the end result was all the better for it. I used a lot of spray starch along the way, too. *grin*

Above, Elizabeth is enjoying a rare sunny January morning on the front porch. Chilly, but sunny.

And she also looks quite fetching in the best reading corner of the house, above.
Isn't she wonderful?!!

So, Elizabeth is the first finish for 2017. It feels good to get the year off with such a strong, solid quilt in terms of construction. She's definitely sweet and feminine in her looks, isn't she?

If you want details on pattern and fabric, click back through the past week or two of posts. I've mentioned the details a few times.

I've linked up with Connie at Freemotion by the River. It's always fun to share and see what others are doing.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Beading and Tassel-Making

As you may recall, my birthday was earlier this month. One of the gifts I was given included a "project" - making a tassel necklace from DD Erin. I moved the box around from spot to spot over the course of about 10 days, and finally brought it up to my sewing room, where I again moved it around a few times. Seems it was always in the way.

Finally, this weekend I decided to make a necklace, doggone it. Then I could put the box away.

What a fun little project. I really enjoyed making the necklace, although I did feel "all thumbs" through the process. Those beads are so tiny! And then making that tassel - who knew it involved so many steps?! I have enough materials left that I can make two more, so I suppose each daughter will get one at some point. They both said they wouldn't mind a bit. *grin*

So, yes, in the midst of finishing my Elizabeth quilt, I stopped everything and made this tassel necklace. Typical me. But I did get myself focused back to Elizabeth, finished it, and will share the big reveal in tomorrow's post. If you have Instagram, I have already shared it there.

Baiting you, I know. But do come back for a look - it's a beauty!

Happy Quilting (and beading), Friends!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Near-Flimsy Status

I am so near to having Elizabeth in the flimsy stage that I can hardly stop to write this post. Just three more seams will see a completion, and you should look for the big reveal on Tuesday. I already have a post ready for Monday, so waiting until Tuesday will have to do.

These four diagonal rows are ready to attach to the long center diagonal rows. In my mind, I have this identified as the top right, but since it's going to end up as a square quilt that will be irrelevant after it's all sewn together.

Here are five rows that will be the lower left side of the center rows. I am taking the time to be careful about how this comes together - I am pressing seams open and pressing everything before connecting any parts. I am also pinning everything. All this has taken quite a bit of extra time, but I am mostly pleased with how the top is coming together; I suspect I will be convinced in the end that all this extra fussing will have been worth it.

On the design wall (which I did not photograph) has the three middle rows. One seam is needed to complete that section, then these two outer parts will be attached. And VOILA! This reveal will be ready to greet the world!

Because I have pinned everything today, I feel like it has indeed been a Slow Sunday of Stitching, so I am linking up with Kathy's weekly link party.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Planning to Wrap Up January

Here we are near the end of a month of our new year already. As I look at what I have been doing in the sewing room, I can't be too disappointed in my productivity. I finished the January UFO way back on the 7th. I have cut out and sewn a great deal on Elizabeth. I have spent a few leisurely moments hand quilting on the paper-pieced UFO.

While these make me very pleased, I still have a few sizeable goals to meet before the 31st rolls around.

1. I plan to prep the backing for the quilt we are gifting to Eric and Lisa. If I can have this in the hands of my quilter by Tuesday, I will consider that a major plus. I should have already done this, but I've dawdled.

2. I plan to have all of Elizabeth pieced together in a flimsy. Click back to the last post to see all my efforts so far.

3. I plan to put the binding on the quilt Sharon and I made to give to Liz, a recent bride and daughter of a friend and former colleague. Remember that?? Liz got married in the summer; Sharon and I made the quilt at about the same time. Then with Terry's long-arm troubles and the Christmas deadlines, we told her to wait until after the holidays. So I have had it back from Terry for about 2 weeks and have yet to do little more than buy a binding for it. It would be so easy to finish before the end of the month. Again, I've dawdled. The pic below is of the flimsy. Like I said, I've done nothing since taking delivery of it - it's still wrapped up from the quilter.

Those are lofty goals for 4 days, don't you think?? And the bigger question: can I do it?

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Progress on Elizabeth

Yes, I have progressed. Surprisingly - to me, anyway - I have stayed right with this quilt and am now to the stage where I begin putting the top together. All the "parts" are constructed - hooray! I will lay these parts out on the bed to arrange them in a pleasing way. Really, it can mostly be random, but those 4 Delectable Mountains in the center should be the prettiest of all, so I will audition my options and go from there.

These 8 FQs of pink and 6 FQs of neutral were the last bits to be constructed. They were also pretty easy. In addition to being the main part of the Delectable Mountains, these become the setting 4-patch blocks and the side and corner triangles. Very pretty in the randomness of it all. It will be fun putting the pieces in place.

All 24 Delectable Mountains blocks are ready to go. The way the blocks are laid out will turn those dark points into a wonderful interior border around the entire quilt.

Sigh...so pretty. I love the softness of the fabrics and I love the way the blue, brown and red "pop." The individual fabrics are identified in this post, in case you wondered.

Elizabeth parts are stacked up and ready for action! It may happen this weekend; or I could save it for taking with me Tuesday when a bunch of us are sewing at Terry's. Yet to be determined.

Go check out the linky party at Crazy Mom Quilts - there's some lovely stuff happening in 2017!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fast HSTs

We quilters do love all parts of the process of quilt-making, certainly, but some parts are more tedious than others. About a week ago, I shared a fast way of doing flying geese units. Today, I will share my fast way of doing half-square triangles - HSTs, for short.

As you know, I am making the quilt called Elizabeth in Carrie Nelson's book, Spice of Life Quilts. It is actually a goal that Sharon P. and I are working on together as we begin 2017.

Above, are all the parts prepped for making my Delectable Mountain blocks. I spent most of yesterday accomplishing this. And I broke it down into steps. Making 24 Delectable Mountain blocks is not an overly daunting task until you realize that you need 144 HSTs for those 24 blocks, so that was my first step. Ugh. That does become tedious. Let me share my method of making this task as streamlined as possible.

I cut out the light and dark squares according to the pattern instructions. I also marked the diagonal line on the back of the light squares and matched a light and dark together for sewing. The stack above has been stitched on either side of the diagonal line. There's no speedy way of doing this, I admit. I do chain piece them, but I only do 10 or 12 at a time, so that I don't have a long tangled mess to slow me down.

After they are sewn, I space them out on the cutting mat like this picture shows. This will make cutting them apart faster than doing one at a time.

I work my way across the squares, lining up my ruler on the pencil marks, cutting each unit. It becomes an assembly line after the first few are done.

Before you know it all the cutting is done and you have your neat triangles ready to take to the ironing board. Notice how I have stacked them. If they are all going the same way, then I save a few seconds with fiddling and turning individual triangles. I want to lay them on the ironing board in the direction that I will be pressing.

 Pardon my stained ironing board cover, but I think you can distinguish the units. I place the triangles dark side up because I want the seam allowance to be on the dark side. (Press toward the dark, we know, right?) I set each seam with a press and then go back and begin pressing each HST open. I am careful in this process not to stretch the bias. I want a crisp seam across the middle, but I don't iron the dickens out of it. This is another assembly line operation. I work my way across the ironing board and pick up each HST so that they are all facing the same direction.

After prepping all 144 HSTs, I sewed them together like you see above. That was another assembly line. I made the large HSTs that form the body of the block using the exact same method. Now all the parts are ready for at last making those Delectable Mountain blocks - 24 little units on the top left; 24 units on the top right; 24 big units for the body.

After classes today, I think I will come straight to the sewing machine and churn these blocks out.

PS: I've linked up to Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts. Have a look around at what other quilters have been working on.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Haste Makes Waste

That old adage about 'haste makes waste" came into play with my first Delectable Mountain block for the Elizabeth quilt.

I finally found some time late last week to start these blocks. And like I always do, instead of making all the HST units like the pattern instructions tell me to, I chose to make just enough to finish a block. I just have to see one finished block. Are all quilters that way? I rushed right through it, thinking it would be a breeze. No need to think. Just sew!

So yes, haste makes waste. Fortunately, all that I wasted is time, though. I will be able to use the HSTs going the wrong direction on future blocks. I did go ahead and make a second block successfully.

I took my ripper with me to quilting on Friday at Jan's, removed the offending unit, and now am ready to do my remaining blocks according to the directions.

I love how these are gonna' look!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Stand Still

All sewing has come to a stand still.

When I am focused on sewing and quilting, I can generally ignore nearly everything else going on around me. That would include things like laundry, grocery shopping, vacuuming and the like. As far as I can tell, as I examine my 60-year-old tendencies, only one thing steals away my focus from sewing and quilting - and that would be reading. When I become engrossed in a book, I am useless elsewhere. This accounts for the current stand still my stitching is in.

Book club is this coming week, so a couple of days ago I began reading The Town House by Norah Lofts. The word "saga" is used to describe it, thus leaving me pretty-much useless for all other endeavors until I finish. The link above is to the book's page at Good Reads, and most of the reviews are good ones. I am enjoying it, obviously, as it has all the stuff I really love in a book: historical fiction, well-developed characters, engaging, well-crafted plot, and vivid descriptions that pique all my senses, breathing life into every scene. Written in  1959, it does not read at all like an "old" book. In fact, I find this just as captivating as Philippa Gregory, author of so many Tudor novels.

I have said too much; my book club mates will aleady know my thoughts about the book! We  won't need to have a meeting if I say much more.

Because I have been reading instead of sewing, I have not made any more Delectable Mountains blocks. I will show you tomorrow the first (and only) 2 of those off the sewing machine.

We Frankfort Girls met at Jan's on Friday morning, and I took an old friend - the paper-pieced lap quilt that I began hand-quilting at History Day back in early October. It feels good to get back to it.

This old UFO had to give up its spot on the to-do list when I began quilting Erin's Diamonds. I stashed it behind me here in the sewing room, thus constantly reminding me that it was waiting in the wings.

It will likely continue waiting - the stand still will continue until I finish my book!

Even though I doubt I will do much slow Sunday stitching today, I will still link this post up to Kathy's Quilts for her weekly link party. You can check out what others are working on; I'll be reading. *wink*

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fast Flying Geese

By now most quilters are familiar with the fast way to make flying geese units. Even if you've never actually done it before, you at least have heard others talk about it or have seen references to it in some way, shape or form. Since several of my regular readers are non-quilters or are new to quilting, I thought I'd share the fast method, in a nutshell sort of way.

For the quilt I am currently working on, Elizabeth, I needed 24 star blocks. Each block requires 4 flying geese units. Making 96 of these little buggers can become quite tedious, and some brilliant quilter figured out a fast way of doing them that also results in NO WASTE! This is huge for quilters who know how the price of fabric has risen in the past 10 years or so. We can't afford to waste a bit of it!

Above is all the necessary fabric to make 4 complete flying geese units -- one large square for the background and 4 small squares for the points. There are formulas and charts available by searching the interwebs that give you specific sizes. Of course, my pattern directions provided me with the measurements required for this quilt.

Mark a diagonal line across the back of all the small squares.

Pin 2 squares to opposite corners. You can see how the pencil marks line up.

Sew a quarter-inch seam on both sides of the pencil line, then cut apart on the pencil line.

When those two pieces are pressed open, they look like this. Some neat-freaks might go ahead at this point and trim off those pointy bits at the corners. I didn't when I made mine, but it might be something I do next time.

Take the remaining 2 squares and pin them on the corners of the background fabric. Again, stitch a quarter-inch seam on both sides of the pencil lines.

And cut these apart the same as before - on the pencil lines.

Now you can see the finished unit! A flying geese unit!

And we have 4 of them! Get to the ironing board and (carefully) press those little guys. Trim, if desired.

 Now you are ready to build your star. You will need a star center.

And you will need 4 corners of the same background fabric as used in the flying geese.

Voila! Stitch that up like you would a 9-patch block. Fast, efficient, and no waste. I am sold on this method after doing it for this quilt. I will most definitely use it again.

I would like to give credit to the quilter who "invented" this method, but I do not know if anyone can be given that distinction. I do know where I first heard of it - years ago when Simply Quilts was on HGTV, I believe a guest (maybe Mary Ellen Hopkins?) demonstrated this. But I don't know if she is attributed with inventing it. So, if someone wants to enlighten me, I'd be happy to give credit.

Happy Quilting, Friends!