Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cheerful Spring

We recently had a good taste of spring ~ sunny, warm and steady humming of lawn mowers.  The windows were opened for some much need fresh air, sandals were dusted off and then Mother Nature decided...not yet you foolish little girl!!!  A couple days of cold and frost. Awww...soon grasshopper, soon! 

Since the weather isn't working right (it's broken), here's a finished project that I hope will brighten your day and give you a good taste of the Spring to come!

18" x 18"
At our last Music City Modern Quilt Guild meeting, we had hexie workshop!  It was super fun!  We weren't able to finish the project at our meeting that day, but as soon as I got home I went to work!

I decided polka dots would make for some happy hexies!  The hexagon templates are 1 1/2" and the fabric squares are 3 3/4".  

I tried hard to make everything line up using 1/4" spacing.  I may have went a little overboard on marking, and to be honest it wasn't that much help!

I just kept going.  Glue, mark, glue again!

Yes indeed...glue!  Fabric fusion was used to glue each and every hexagon down!  

Once they were all secure, the quilting fun began!  Don't you love the triangle pattern?  It looks even better on the front! 

Sneak peak from the outside looking in!  I was happy I got to try the hidden zipper back again.  Love it!

Here's a link to a fabulous tutorial at Modern Handcraft ~ Modern Hexagon Tutorial.

I hope to make a couple more one day soon!  


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stray Pieces Make Things Interesting

I don't think I have posted an actual finished anything for a while!  Do you ever feel like you are always making, sewing, piecing, but never have anything to show for it?!  We are not slackers!    

The last quilt top I finished (finished as in the top only, not finished as in actually quilted!) was my Revisited With a Plan top.  Thankfully it finally came together.  In the process, I ended up with bits and pieces of stripes, blocks, circles and scraps.  I'm the type who has to use up each spare part and piece right away.  Maybe I think the world will stop spinning or sun won't rise, but I cannot put it aside for a later time. 

Like the quilt top, this table runner was totally on the 'fly'.  Once I had a basic idea it grew from there and blossomed into a full fledged finished piece!  

12 3/4" x 35 1/2"
Table runner or wall hanging!  I kept looking at this before I quilted it. Each time the circles would change, they reminded me of something else.  Kind of an illusion, but not really an illusion.  The second circle reminds me of food color bottles.  I know some of you remember the little boxes that had 4 colors inside.  They what those pointy little caps in red, green, yellow and blue.  Someone remembers, right?!

The back of this is black.  Normally I would never consider white thread on black, or black thread on white.  Really there isn't much choice, you have to do one or the other (or colors). It's going to show regardless.  I figured what the hell and went with white thread inside the circles.

Trying to build my free motion quilting skills, I went with it.  Somewhere I read on a blog not to drop your feed dogs when you FMQ.  Anyone ever heard that?  Or tried it?  I had my practice sandwich and decided to give it a try. To my amazement it was so much more controlled!  The stitches were ten times more consistent than dropping those dogs!  I really was shocked!  Granted this was one time, so maybe the next time won't be so successful! 

I have to say, I love the white thread on black!  Especially in this nest photo!

I love when my attention is grabbed!  For me, this does it!

Then I went back in to my comfort zone.  Black thread.  Organic wavy lines, pebbles.  It was still an eye opening process up to the comfort zone part!

I never tire of learning new things!  Not dropping my dogs for FMQ was new and exciting.  I hope it wasn't a fluke, or I dreamt I read it somewhere or I'm the last one on earth that knew about it! 

What have you learned lately that made your jaw drop in amazement?!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Skill Builder #2 (almost)

It's that time of the month!  No!  Not that time of the month!  Let me rephrase...the second block for the Technicolor Galaxy Skill Builder BOM  

My first block was the center color wheel.  You can see it here: Technicolor Madness. Block 2 will be the Star Points.  Paper piecing fun!  

I pulled out the color wheel from last month and located the bag with the templates for the stars.  Good start so far.  (that was the easy part!)  

All of the paper piecing templates I printed on wash away stabilizer sheets.  Have you ever used them before?  This will be my first time. One of those new skills I wanted to learn!

I really didn't plan what or how I wanted my finished piece to be.  Since I was hoping to learn new things, I decided to keep it simple and stick with the color wheel.  However, had I known the possibilities that were out there I may have veered off the path a little!

This is the stage where I have to figure out my star point colors.  It seems easy enough. One of these days I should really time myself to see how long it actually takes me to make up my mind!

I got it now!  Neatly pinned, organized and ready to go!

Squeal!!!!  Love these!  I could look at them all day, every day.  I wonder if I could make these over and over and over...they were fun!

This is the plan.  Yes, that step was fun.  But there is so much more to do!

Like picking the coordinating prints for the second part if the stars!  That was difficult and made me want a glass of wine.  But I didn't cave...I stuck with it and eventually came to my final picks.

First I needed to cut a bunch, like a lot, a lot 1 3/4" low volume strips. And I might add, I'm glad I finally got on the low volume band wagon and now have a respectable stash...that was very helpful!

These are my first two 'test' pieces.  I was anxious to see how they would look.  With these two done, I have 22 more to go.  Hold on...let me whip those right back...tick tock, tick tock...

That wasn't a long wait, right?  I spent most of the morning making these! Time consuming as they are one of the perks of using the wash away stabilizer - you don't have to remove it, so no paper piles and having to pick the little pieces off!  Also, you don't have to use small stitches.  Helps if you have to rip it out!  

If all the stars align correctly and you hold you head at just the right angle...they all come together just like this!  (and even then, they didn't) What a relief!  

If, I am to be honest with you, I'm not even close to done with block #2!  I knew I had to get started on this lesson.  It won't be long and block #3 will be out.  I didn't want to get behind and I hate being late to the party!  For now, I will put these star points away.  I still have to quilt them, which will take a while for me.  Did I mention this is a QAYG (quilt as you go) project?  Yet one more skill to learn!

You get the picture.  This is the pieces together, ready to quilt, ready for another skill to learn and one day master!

I tried to add a movie that I shared on Instagram.  I wasn't sure how to make it work on here, so if you would like to check it out you can see it here:  Technicolor Galaxy


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stashing My Stash

I'm not one to buy fabric on a regular basis.  I try and work with what I have and buy only when I need backing or a specific color.  I rarely buy what's trending, popular or the latest rage!

A girl can change!  (just a little)  I finally caught the low volume bug and have stocked that stash sufficiently!  I wouldn't say I have gone off the deep end.  It's been a fun ride and for once, I feel like I'm at least semi-current!

This lovely piece of aqua candy is for the back of a black & white quilt top.  I haven't shared the top yet, but I cannot wait for you to see it!  I actually took another plunge and sent it off to be long arm quilted, something I never do.  

This fabric is Art Gallery, designed by Katrina Roccella.

And shoot...while I was ordering the backing I certainly had to look at a few other things!

I'm hoping to make something using Pantone color of the year ~ Marsala for the Pantone Quilt Challenge hosted by Anne, Play Crafts and Adrianna On The Windy Side.  We'll see how that pans out!  

This batch came from Hawthorne Threads.  Super fast delivery!!
Black/gold and off-white/gold ~ Orbit by Fiyel Levent.  I just thought they were cool!
Marsala geometric is ~ Shards by Hawthorne Threads.
The top one is ~ Emma's Garden by Patty Sloniger.

Have you ever misplaced a piece of fabric?  Where oh where did 'Emma's Garden' go?!

Lastly, Thistle Flower Sugar bundle ~ Lecien Fabrics.  This bundle will become a custom design twin quilt for a little 4-year-old-girl!  Seriously sweet and perfect for a little lady! These came from Fat Quarter Shop.  

I have one more fabric delivery yet to arrive.  When will it end??!  I needed more backing! That's it.  Done.  Finished.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Revisited With A Plan

I am one who has an idea and builds upon it as I go.  A little idea takes form and I just have to figure it out.  

When I started this project "A Seed Taking Root', I didn't know where to go, what was next or what to do with it.  I pushed it aside and began working on other projects.  It was taped to the wall staring me in the face each and every day.  When out of the blue ~ I decided to pick it up again and see where I could take it.  

Of course, black & white stripes were going to be the focal point.  To get me on track and motivated, I thought that making a couple panels of stripes would be a good place to start.  

So I did.  Once they were finished, I put them on the wall with the first piece I finished.  That was easy enough.  I was thinking that I might make a couple more circles with them.  As I walked past it a billion times, I liked it more and more just as it was.  With that in mind, I knew I had to up the 'ante'!  

Half circle?  Why not, give it a go!  Instead of making 1/4 circles, I decided I would keep it a half circle.  Curve the edges.  Would it work?  I certainly hoped it would!

Things are coming together!  Maybe not as planned...then again I tend to work without plans most of the time!

After twisting and turning the half circles, I ended up here.  It needs more color.  Not a lot. Just enough.  

I had cut the the stripes to be in the center, but it didn't sit right with me.  I was so mad that I pieced the stripes, cut them and then they were totally wrong.  It need an intervention fast!  I took the finished block down a size. I was able to salvage the stripes and make them work.  
See the black?  This is where my mind started to veer in to a completely different direction.  

I'm getting there, it's taking shape.  At some point I know it will come together, just not sure when!

I should probably tell you that the majority of my quilts start as a little, bitty thoughts and come together after some playing around.  That would also explain why I don't have 'action' shots or patterns for my quilts!  I get in a zone or groove.

Let's revisit the black.  Throughout this quilt top process, I was sure it was going to be mostly white.  I couldn't think of a way to bring black in without it looking like an after thought.  My freaky little brain was in overdrive after making the smaller circles.  there had to be a way.  There was!  It totally smacked me in the head after the center panel was together.  

I literally started talking to myself!  'You got this', 'Do it', 'this is gonna be great', 'go for it', 'cut the damn corners'!!!  Those were a few of the many pep talks I gave myself.  Honestly, I poured a glass of wine and got my courage up!

There it is.  It did need some balance from when I originally started working on it.  

Teresa Duryea Wong from Third Floor Quilts was kind enough to leave me a comment with some very helpful suggestions:

1. You could make 3 more blocks and make is larger. I think he looks very cool as is, but maybe a little lonely. If you added 3 more, you could repeat the circle as is, but turn the circle each time. Would look cool. 2. Keep as just one block and machine quilt it in black thread with a super dense pattern.

Great suggestions and they made me think long and hard what I wanted to do and what direction I wanted to take it next.  Putting it aside for a while was the right thing to do.  It let me step away and take the pressure off of myself.  

Do you do that?  When something isn't coming together or the ideas dry up, do you put it away?  Are you frustrated at that point or relieved?

I don't often name my quilts.  Mostly because I honestly cannot think of any good names! I'm good at lame names...Stripes, Circles...see!  This one needed a name.  Something that describes the over all feel.  I settled on 'Encapsulate'.    

Encapsulate: to show or express the main idea or quality of something in a brief way, to completely cover something especially so that it will not touch anything else, enclose something in or as if in a capsule.

It seems like a good name for this one!  Maybe I should have waited to name it after it was finished!  I look at this and cannot help but feel panic!!!  You mean I have to quilt it too?!  


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

HST's For A Queen

My last post was about hand dyeing fabric.  Hand Dyed Heaven.  I had a beautiful stack of fabric dyed, ironed and ready to cut.  These fabrics were specially dyed and reserved for a custom queen quilt full of half square triangles.  And now we begin...

combination of hand dyed and shot cottons
Where to start.  Of course, cutting squares!  I pulled out my Kaffe Fasset Shot Cotton stash (because I love these mixed with the hand dyed fabric), and began cutting 8" squares.  The stacks were growing and by the end of it I had about 275 cut and stacked.

Once the cutting ended...finally...I needed to pair up the squares.  I love seeing the combinations as I put together the pairs.  I marked each set with a diagonal line and carefully pinned them together for the marathon of strip piecing.  First 1/4" on one side, and then the other.  Kind of mindless sewing, but waiting for the payoff!

You know the next step.  More cutting!  I whipped out the ruler and rotary cutter and sliced and diced each pair in half.  I had my 'Ginsu Knife' vibe going full force!  That resulted in a whole 'lotta' triangles!

With the steam iron blazing, those cut triangle pairs became square (almost) again!  Lots of ironing, lots of steam, lots of stacking!

Aren't they pretty?  I enjoy seeing these blocks come together.  Any block.  Once they get ironed they just look so much better!  

Okay, let's do some more cutting!

I can't sing the praises of these Bloc~Loc rulers!!!  I couldn't tell you how many HST's quilts I have made in the last year (I need to research that)! If it wasn't for these rulers I'm sure the number of finished quilts would have been drastically reduced.  Not to mention they wouldn't be nearly as perfect without Blok~Loc's help!

Usually I end up trimming these to 7", but I wanted them a little bigger because of the size of the quilt.  If I was super careful they would end up being 7 1/2" trimmed.  With the exception of one block that was slightly smaller that the rest, I was able to accomplish that task.

Think about those 138 sets for a second.  This is the carnage left from trimming all of them! Seriously, I feel like I cheated the system for trimming so little and getting away with it!

Half square triangles are basically very easy with lots of design possibilities.  When I make these quilts part of the 'fun' is to see how perfect I can get the points!  Bring on a challenge! So, I will take extra care when putting the blocks together.  

This is where I am as of today.  Two panels each of which is 6 HST's x 10 HST's.  If I were to sew these two panels together right now the quilt would measure 84" x 70", but that can't happen!  I still have to add more. Who would want a queen quilt that didn't fit their bed? Although, the quilts on my bed are not queen size!  I just turned them so there was more length on the sides.  

More work on this today.  Add more length, a little more width, finish the top (hopefully)!  I always get excited at this stage of the game.  You can see the end in sight...that feeling of a fully finished quilt top is exhilarating!