Friday, January 31, 2020

Goodbye, January

Here we are! Last day of January 2020. Gosh, seems impossible.

I had a productive day today. First, I met with the dear ladies of my quilt group, Frankfort Girls. We met at Jan's for a morning of fun and stitching. Jan fixed a few tropical treats for us, always going way beyond necessary.

This afternoon, I decided to quilt the baby quilt. And so I did.

Now to bind it. It will be ready in time for the new baby's arrival, due in 11 days. That long arm machine is such a blessing. To be able to finish projects so quickly is such a blessing.

Today, we had snow. It was not the first of our winter, but we have had next to no true winter weather so far. It was a wimpy snow, lasted about three hours, mostly melted immediately, but it did stick real pretty to trees and limbs.

Lastly, I made my collage of January highlights. Lots of starts. Pretty blocks. Quilted quilts. Family time. History and friend time. And a pretty kitty. January has been a great start to 2020.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

First of Three Baby Quilts

My girlfriends are becoming grandmas, and friends of our children are having babies, and the sum total of that means I have several baby quilts on my to-do list!

First, is a baby girl due Feb. 11, a granddaughter of my friend Cheryl. By total accident, I happened upon the prettiest soft yellow and gray flannel remnant. It's a hounds tooth plaid on creamy white, and it just looks exactly like something the new momma would like.

The remnant measured 1.25 yards, and just like that the size of the quilt was determined because that flannel is going to be my backing. My next step was to find suitable coordinating fabrics for the front. My thinking was that dots seemed like a great juxtaposition to the plaid, so I searched for gray and yellow fabrics with dots. You can see the variety I found in the picture above.

Two previous baby quilts I have made in recent months were made with simple 5" squares placed diagonally across the quilt. These go together so fast, and they are so functional for new babies and mommies - I want the recipients to USE the quilts!

I laid the backing fabric out on the guest bed and then placed my 5" squares in a design that pleased me. Stitching in Eleanor Burns' chain-piecing fashion, I had this top together really fast. After this was all sewn, I realized I could add more to both the width and length, so I did, and now I am ready to quilt it.

My plan is to make quilting it a priority sometime this weekend. I have a couple things to work around, but the quilt is small, so it should be totally doable.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Evidence of a Scatterbrained Quilter

I remember a chat I had with my dear late grandmother, who was not in any way a scatterbrain. We were talking about quilting, a hobby that we shared, and she spoke of having several quilts going in various stages of completeness. She said she liked being able to decide to work on what she happened to be in the mood for - piecing, quilting, binding, for example. She was such an organized and orderly woman, she would be totally unnerved by all the chaos going on presently in my sewing room. I cannot imagine that she ever had as many quilts going at once as I currently do.

For the life of me, I have been completely unable to focus on one project lately. This month, especially, I have been all over the place with the projects I want to work on. Consequently, my design wall looks like a pre-school class has had a field day with fabric and blocks.

Let me try to make some sense of this chaos for you.

The large navy star blocks are for Summer Nights, a quilt that is on my goals list for this year. Read about it here, and see a pic of the pattern. I need 18 stars for the quilt, so I am halfway there. Then I need to make the setting blocks. I am so motivated to work on this! The stars go together so fast, and I love getting to use all the navy fabrics from my stash. I could make them chain-piecing style, but doing each star individually has been fun. I am laying each star out and planning the placement of the various fabrics.

At the top center, you can see a tangent I went on with the same star pattern. I had been cutting out the baby quilt I need for a baby due in less than 2 weeks. I will show you a picture of it soon. Anyway, the cutting was finished, and I hadn't yet put away the remnants. It occurred to me that a star in those gray and yellow fabrics would be interesting. So, right in the middle of all the navy and white, I made a gray and yellow star - tangent complete.

Then in the center of all those stars, you see the scrap-busting effort I shared here. I have continued to cut 2.5" and 2" and 1.5" squares, but have not done any more sewing. I am super-motivated, though, so when I get the blue star quilt done, and the baby quilt done, I will return to this.

The aforementioned gray and yellow baby quilt has yet to be shared, but it is upcoming, for sure. I made that top today, and it's now ready to be loaded into the longarm. Yet another tangent. But a necessary one to have moved to the top of the to-do list because - 2 weeks until delivery!

Don't think that I have forgotten a WIP (work in progress) that I began before Christmas - Diagonal Madness. It is always hovering in the back of my mind - that's a tangent I am anxious to get back to.

Is it any wonder that I feel like a scatterbrain?I wish I would have inherited some of Grandma's organization tendencies! *wahh*

Now, do you notice how I "layer" my design wall?? That, my friends, is further evidence that I lack focus. I make a random block, or I play around with leftover bits, then pin them up and look at them for awhile. I have so many orphan blocks that I need to make use of - but I wait for some inspiration to strike. They can hang there and adorn my space in the meantime. Some things hanging there have been pinned up for at least a couple of years, I'm sure.

I will never run out of quilts to make.

Hope you are getting things accomplished! January is almost gone!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Did 2019 Measure Up?

Before January gets away from me, I am taking a moment today to check my success rate for the goals I made for 2019. I actually had two separate goals list - one was the normal type of list (like I did yesterday) and one was a "bucket list"  (and bucket list, part 2) from an online list published by American Patchwork & Quilting magazine.

From my regular list, I planned to make quilts with 9-patches, large pieces, churn dash blocks and stars. I feel pretty good that all these things were accomplished.

Memoire a Paris; made in January 2019
9-Patch Exchange Quilt with the Frankfort Girls
Double 9-Patch UFO; made 2 quilts!
Moda Love; BIG pieces!
Weathervane quilt; BIG pieces!
Jelly Roll quilt incorporating 4-patch blocks.
Churn Dash mini-quilt.

Probably the biggest accomplishment of 2019 wasn't even on a list. Getting that long arm machine out of the basement, up to the spare bedroom and WORKING! was a monumental accomplishment. Then to think that I actually quilted several quilts on it impresses me even more. Wow. I still pinch myself at times.

Now, about that bucket list from APQ magazine. The list - 50 items! - is far too long to cover in its entirety, so I will mention the ones that I really regret not accomplishing:

***I wanted to make a quilt using solids, even bought fabrics for it, but never followed through.
***I wanted to make a 2-color quilt.
***I wanted to make a quilt which combined 9-patch blocks and snowball blocks.
***I wanted to finish a Christmas project before Christmas; remember that Roman Holiday mini-quilt I was hand quilting? Still not done. *bummer*

Let me list a few bucket list items that I accomplished! These are worth mentioning:

***Learn to applique.
***Make an embroidery project.
***Finish a UFO - I finished 3!
***Donate pillowcases to a charity. Another charitable donation was the OSU t-shirt quilt I made for my husband's college fraternity. I have a future post about that quilt planned.

That about sums up 2019. Now on to accomplishing great things in 2020. This year promises to be even better and more productive.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 27, 2020

2020 Quilting Goals

Exciting stuff today, Peeps! I dither and dither over what to include on my goals list each year - and this year has been no different. Finally, I have come up with a list that suits me. I like the direction I am heading, and yes, some of the items on this year's list have been on the list in previous years.

What can I say? Plans - at least my plans - always have wiggle room. *grin*

Right off the bat, I must get busy. I have lots of babies coming this year! Friends of our kids are having babies as well as grandbabies for my girlfriends - lots of babies. I have my fabrics; just need to devote a day or two to each one and they will be quick work. There is actually yet another baby quilt needed that I became aware of after I prepared my list.

Baby quilts and wedding quilts take the top 4 spots. For the wedding quilt, I plan to shop my quilt tops, quilt one of them and send it off. I have no concern that all of these will get done fairly quickly.

Now, on to the remaining items...

I have posted about number 5 - The Blockheads 3 sew along. Click here and here for particulars. I will probably not finish the sew along, because of limited fabric in the line I am using; I will work something out as best I can.

I worked on item 6, Summer Nights, this past weekend. Back when I bought the pattern (in 2018? Maybe?) I made one block and it hung ever so regally on my design wall for months while I moved on to other things. I then took it down to free up design wall space, but it remained on my mind, always niggling at me to finish - how can I not finish a blue and white quilt?? I now have 4 blocks done, and I am motivated to keep going. Below is the pattern cover.

Item 7 is a new quilt on the list, and I have the pattern here somewhere. While I have not had this specific pattern on previous lists, I have planned in previous years to make a churn dash quilt, so this is a goal that is both sorta old/sorta new.

I've blogged about item 8 - the sew along we Frankfort girls are doing. Click here for deets. It is a very loosely structured sew along, and I am so eager to continue. Below is a rerun of the first month's block. We have made the Churn Dash our block for February, and I have mine done; it's hard to wait a whole month on a new "assignment." If you skip to item 20, the test block quilt is an off-shoot of our sew along.

That item 9 will be a fun goal - finally, I can include quilting my tops! The goal of two per month is a low-ball goal; I sure plan to do more!

Items 10 through 14 are the ones I have put repeatedly on previous yearly lists. By gosh, I sure would like to knock those out this year. That number 12 is a take-off on this quilt which I wrote about all the way back in 2012! Eight years is a long time to wait on a quilt, so I really have to make it this year. Here are the fabrics I will use.

Items 15 and 16 are current works-in-progress. I won't finish Lake Effect, but I will make quite a lot of progress. Diagonal Madness, like those baby quilts, just needs a day or two entirely devoted to it and it will be a finished top. Here's a reminder pic of Diagonal Madness. I would guess I am about half-done with the quilt top.

 Items 17, 18, 19 and 21 are of the "loose" variety. I have nothing terribly specific in mind, yet am open to any creative inspiration that comes my way. It always happens, so I have no desire to tie myself too strictly to specific plans.

And that completes my 2020 goals. I put them on paper and "go public" with them in an effort to hold myself accountable. At some point along about June, I will do a self-check to see how I am faring on the goals. Then a tallying up of the accomplishments at the end of the year. (Which reminds me that I need to see how well I did on my goals for 2019.)

I have a non-sewing goal to work on today, Peeps - a kitchen cupboard is going to be purged. Yikes.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Personal Challenge - Doing BH1

Back on the 15th, the day Blockheads 3 began, I posted about my less-than-stellar track record with completing sew alongs. I also posed the possibility of going back to work on BH1 (1 block made), as well as BH2 (8 blocks made in two quilts/total of 16 blocks made).

You see where this is going, right? Yes, I am going to try to catch up on those previous Blockheads. It will be my personal challenge. After just two weeks, it's fun. We shall see how far I make it. Any progress is better than no progress.

The first big hurdle with any newly-hatched plan was deciding on what fabric to use. Since I had been (and still am!) in the middle of a scrap-busting effort, I thought I should use scraps. The scraps I have dealt with in just the past week or so have barely dented that massive scrap collection upstairs. I have bits everywhere. And most of it is stuffed into giant tubs, quite unorganized and haphazard.

One place where I have maintained some order with my scraps is with specific lines of fabric or designers. After finishing quilt tops with those lines or designers, I put all remaining fabrics and scraps in a labeled tub to be stored under my cutting table. I have a tub of Larkspur, one of Roman Holiday, French General (all lines), American Jane (all lines), Snowbird - you get the idea. It occurred to me that dealing with scraps doesn't only mean cleaning up messy, unorganized bits. It also means actually using the leftover, moderately organized fabrics stored in those tubs.

And that, my quilty friends, is how an idea was born!

I pulled out the French General tub and went to work. I love all the fabrics by this designer and they all work so well together. Having seen lots of finished BH1 quilts online, I know this will be a beauty when finished. And I certainly don't have to worry that I will run out of fabric.

The first block, Whirlygig, went together fairly well and it didn't require any 'unsewing' - always a bonus.

The week 2 block is called Aunt Dinah, and it was equally easy to finish. Maybe having enough fabric is key in this whole sew along business. In the past, often I have stopped because of limited fabrics in the line I chose to work with. Hmmm...

And another quilt is underway in Jayne's Quilting Room. What a way to kick off January of a new decade! I am happy to be doing it, and look forward to seeing all the blocks come together.

Okay, Peeps, what have I put off for nearly the entire month? My 2020 quilting goals. Well, I have finalized my list, and plan for that to be the topic of tomorrow's post. Talk then! Ta-ta!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Blockheads 3 - This Week's Block

Wednesday is the big day. That is when the new block pattern is revealed for quilters who are participating in the Moda Blockheads 3 sew along. There is a huge community of quilters involved, and I am following both the FB and the IG groups. I enjoy seeing the variety of blocks being made.

I print out every pattern whether I plan to make it immediately or not. It seems easy enough to do them as they come, pop the copy into a sleeve and file in a 3-ring binder. I did that with BH1 and BH2, even though I didn't make either of those quilts.

I am going to do BH3 for as long as my fat 8ths bundle holds out. If I can locate any additional yardage, I will get some, but I am not fretting about it. I am using a very out-of-print Moda line called Faith from a Collection for a Cause. I have always been drawn to pink and brown quilts, and the blocks I have so far made do not disappoint!!

Here is the block for this week, called Sunshine Star.

This week's block is tons less complicated than last week's, thankfully. I don't mind working on compex blocks, but I don't want a steady diet of them. Especially on a sew along, which I treat as a side project that can be done in spare moments here and there.

I cut my pieces out on Thursday evening, and took them to Terry's for a sewing day yesterday. It was fun to make this while still being able to visit with the girls.

Back here at home last night, I pulled the first block out to show the two of them together. See what I mean about a less complex block? That top one from last week, called Star Chain, was a doozy! My seam ripper and I became entirely too friendly for that block, let me tell you. All complaining aside, though, I love how it looks, and the combination of complex and simple blocks is sure to make my BH3 quilt all the more interesting.

Today, I am off to have lunch with a dear friend from my elementary and high school days. We both have January birthdays, and are getting together to celebrate today. Probably won't be any celebrating; just talking and catching up.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Scrap Attack

Anyone who has quilted for close to 40 years more than likely will have some scraps stored away somewhere. I suppose that there are more than a couple tubs of scraps tucked away in the quilting room. The massive amount of scraps has become rather overwhelming. I just haven't had any brilliant thoughts about how to manage it all.

Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and quilt blogs have no shortage of ideas for using scraps. I have followed some blogs and FB groups dedicated to scrap quilting, yet none of the suggestions or methods seemed like they would ever be ones that I could commit to. At times I have tried. There are tubs of strips of varying sizes - 2-, 2.5-, 3-, 4-inches and possibly more. I wouldn't have any idea where to find them - buried somewhere in the depths of scraps.

I believe I have just accidentally found a scrap-busting method I could get into. Sunday afternoon, I picked up one little pile of scraps from the cutting table with the idea that I would cut squares - I made 1.5-inch, 2-inch, and 2.5-inch squares of the entire pile.

Above is the little quilt I made using the 1.5-inch squares. After seeing some beautiful scrappy quilts using 4-patch blocks, I decided to make my own. I could continue adding to this, or I could call this one done, and then get started on a much bigger one.

Today, I spent some time playing around with the 2-inch squares. Again, I made 4-patches, and this time I tried adding triangles to provide for the square-in-a-square look.

The photo above shows all the steps of this effort. In the upper right, I have some 2-inch squares, and in the center of the photo, you see several 4-patch blocks. In the upper left corner, is the first surround of the square-in-a-square block. And, obviously at the bottom are 6 completed blocks. I really had fun making these, and I plan to continue on this to make lots more blocks. These blocks are 6.5-inches, so will be perfect for working into a full quilt.

Dealing with scraps is one goal of mine for 2020. It is a matter of necessity, really. For every quilt I have made in the last 30+ years, I have scraps. That's a plethora of scraps, which could be fun to work into some beauties. Right. I hope I have what it takes to stay with this.

Aren't these blocks great?!? I am motivated to keep going. That will last as long as my red fabric holds out. Then I will have to go digging for comparable reds to continue. That should not be a problem.

Happy Quilting,Friends!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Follow Through

Back on Wednesday I said I was going to make the first block in the now-up-and-running Moda Blockheads 3 sew-along. I did follow through with that plan, made my block, but have had rather a lot of other things preventing me from posting about it.

First, I should know better than to cut out anything late in the day. I am a morning person, and from previous experience, I know that cutting projects after 6pm generally results in mistakes. Yes, I made mistakes. And then, to make matters worse, I cut my finger on the rotary cutter. I should have stopped. I should have known better, but I plowed on.

Second, I was scheduled to host the Frankfort Girls on Friday (yesterday) morning, so when I might have been making the block or blogging about the completion of the block, I was prepping for the girls, tidying up and planning refreshments.

Third, this week was my birthday for which a variety of plans had been made, so I was really limited in the time available for cutting, sewing and blogging.

Finally, I am back to teaching at the branch (Ohio University-Chillicothe), and obviously, this also consumed a good bit of my week.

Since I didn't even know if I would participate in this round of Blockheads, I hadn't given a single thought to fabric selection. This could end up being my eventual downfall in completing the sew-along, but I will go for as long as I can. I went to the drawer of precuts, and pulled out a fat-eighths bundle from many years ago called Faith, from the Collection for a Cause.

I have always been drawn to browns and pinks together; it is a combination I find quite appealing. Since I know going in that a fat 8ths bundle won't be nearly enough for a 50-week sew-along, I will go for as long as I can. Maybe I can be on the lookout for additional yardage of this fabric, too. Regardless, if I only have enough fabric to get partially through this sew-along, I will end up with enough blocks to put together something that I will love. Heaven knows I don't mind not finishing things!! That, at times, seems to be my preferred method!

Participants in this round of Blockheads have the option of making 6" blocks, 8" blocks, or 12" blocks. Because I have such I limited amount of fabric, I went with the small size. Had I planned ahead a little better, I imagine I would have liked the 12" blocks, and since I am saving all the patterns, I could always come back sometime and make them later.

The thing about small blocks is that they are made with even smaller pieces! What a time. I cut things wrong (not good when conserving fabric is essential!), and then I nipped my finger with the rotary cutter. Gracious! What a mess! I did not get blood on my block, though, just the pattern. See smudges below. And that was with the bandaid on, believe it or not! See what I mean when I say I should have stopped?

I kept right on going, though, and eventually, I finished the block - it measures right at 6.5 inches, just as it should. Whew. I am rather pleased with the look, too.

My record with finishing sew-alongs has not been stellar, yet each January, I find myself joining yet another one. Time will tell.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Blockheads 3 Begins Today

Any of you who follow Moda designers on FB, blogs or Instagram surely know that today is the official start of Blockheads 3. Being a flunk-out of Blockheads 1 and Blockheads 2, I am reluctant to tell you that I am considering trying again. Maybe the third time will be a charm!! Regardless of my track record, it hasn't stopped me from following all the buzz leading up to this big day.

Blockheads 1 was held in 2017. I printed off every single pattern - like maybe 40 or 50 total - and made exactly one block. I could still make that sampler if I want. The patterns are organized neatly in a 3-ring binder in the quilting room. Here is the one block I made from round one.

Blockheads 2 came in 2018, and I really did intend to participate in that go-around. I actually decided to make two of each block using very different fabrics which would have resulted in two completely different quilts. One was a colorway that was strong and bold; the other was a colorway that was far more subtle and muted. However, I must have missed an announcement somewhere along the line telling us that blocks would be in varying sizes.

Above are two blocks from round two in the bold colorway. Below are some blocks made in the muted colorway.

I stayed caught up in Blockheads 2 for maybe 8 weeks, but when a week came along featuring a ginormous 24" block, I knew I would never have enough fabric to make it work. I needed more background fabric.

And that's when I stopped. Cold turkey.  On both colorways. I still have the bits within arm's reach in the quilting room, buried deep on my cutting table.

But, by gosh, I continued printing out instructions for each and every week right to the end of Blockheads 2. If I were to find some suitable background fabrics, I could actually finish. And maybe I will.

And so here we are on Day 1 of Blockheads 3. It will be another sampler quilt. It will have more Moda designers participating. There will be options for blocks of varying sizes or consistent sizes - participants decide. And, yes, I am considering getting into the game.

Will I flunk out again? Can I even consider that I will be so organized that I could go back and do the blocks from the earlier Blockheads in the corresponding week of this current one? That would be a fun challenge. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment. Maybe I just like a challenge. Maybe I am just off my rocker.

At this very moment, I don't know which way I will go.

I do know one thing: as soon as I tap the 'publish' button on this post, I am heading upstairs to make the first block of Blockheads 3. It is called Star Chain, and it is featured on Corey Yoder's blog today. The instructions are available for downloading. I have seen some beauties posted on the various social medias today, and I want to add mine to the mix.

Happy Quilting, Friends!