Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Bee Inspired :: Building a Bridge

First...big news!  We have a baby!  Saturday little Esme Eloise decided she was ready to enter the world!  A whopping 8.2 ounces and 19 inches, Mama and baby are doing well and happily at home!  Were so happy and excited for the family!

I say it every time, but some of the prompts my Bee Mates come up with are amazing!  

Last year was an amazing year of challenging prompts from my Bee Inspired mates, and so far this year is no exception!  We've had a couple of changes in the 'mate' department and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.

Our new line-up with links to their Instagram...Drum roll....

Kathryn @kupitis
Heather @quiltachusetts 
Audrey @artandstole
Christine @ccpquilt 
Daisy @warmfolk 

Our Hashtag if you want to follow along and see what were up to:  #beeinspired2019 

And of course, the original Bee Sewcial group:  #beesewcial  #inspiredbybeesewcial

Kicking of a fresh new year, Audrey started us off with this prompt:

Bee Inspired 2019 starts this month and I hope to make a quilt that encourages people to do things that bring relief and maybe even joy to others. Let’s make bridges to represent reaching out, and positive words that have personal meaning to you.

Block 1: a bridge span side view, blacks and dark grays on off-whites

Block 2: a word or phrase that represents or describes how you reach out to others in your own life, in blues and greens on off-whites.

I have to say I put off making this block for as long as I could!  Luckily I have understanding bee mates, and it seems I wasn't the only one who waited so long.

Finding a bridge for inspiration wasn't hard at all.  When I think of bridges I always think of Portland Oregon where I use to live.  Back then I didn't care much about bridges, other than the fact that my daughter Britt and her best friend Anne were crazy about them.  They were 8 or 9 years old and I remember my husband taking them on a day trip to visit all the Portland bridges before we moved to Tennessee.  

24" x 15"
There were a couple things that I knew had to be included in my block to accurately represent the Fremont bridge.  The rainbow arch, an upper and lower deck for traffic and the iconic flags on top.  

The Fremont Bridge is the second longest tiered arch bridge in the world, it was built in 1973, it's 2152 feet long, the rainbow arch is 381 feet above the water of the Willamette River and the lower deck is suspended from the upper deck.  Fun facts!  

Back in the day when I wasn't a quilter...I had no idea that this bridge has Flying Geese spanning the arch!  While looking for inspiration pictures I discovered that fun fact and knew then and there that this was my bridge!  I briefly contemplated trying to figure out a way to add the geese to my bridge, but quickly realized I'd be crazy to try!  

And now the reality of the 'prompt'!  I had to figure out how to construct my bridge!  I started by making an off white slab thinking it might be the best way to start.  I though of it as a solid piece for the background.  

The first cut was the scariest part.  I had to cut the arch!  I made sure it was large enough to work with and where I could easily add the vertical strips.  I sliced off a piece for the lower tier of the bridge and then was free to add my road ways.  I feel like that was the easy part!!

I hadn't thought about how I would include the flags until right before I added the fabric for the arch.  I settled for one flag and miraculously was able to seam rip a small section and add it with very little frustration!

Where I struggled was the arch!  The first try was a disaster!  My strip was too skinny and it didn't allow me wiggle room.  The second try was much better and the arch was born.  

Which left me with the sides.  Matching the sides to the top section wasn't easy either!  Somehow I managed and was able to complete my bridge.  

It looked like the Fremont Bridge to me!  However I wasn't fully convinced so I asked Britt if she knew what bridge it was and without hesitation...she named it!  Whew!

The background colors in these pictures are actually lighter, much more subtle.  And we were given creative license with our bridge color.  I wanted to use neon pink, but settled for Kona Prussian blue.

Since I was on a roll, I figured I may as well get my word finished too!

23" x 10"
Bear in mind that all of our blocks are meant to be improv, so using rulers for straight lines isn't part of the process.

I had a hard time up with my 'word'.  When someone says to describe yourself, I go blank.  I thought long and hard about it and decided Empathy was my word.  

Empathy:  to understand or feel what another person is experiencing, the capacity to put yourself into others position, caring about other people.

In someways there seems to be a lack of empathy these days, then again I'm inspired and amazed at how much empathy there is.  I don't know if that makes any sense!

Using the same background for this block as well, I began by pulling blues and greens for the letters.  I wasn't sure what I was doing, but it was so much fun figuring out each letter!  All by the seat of my pants and some better than others, but there is a consistent theme!

Audrey certainly pushed me with both of these blocks!  I know we are suppose to interpret the prompt as we see fit, but one thing I know for certain...I want it to be right for my queen!

Last, I thought I share my very last 2018 block made recently for Jenny @pappersaxsten .  Jenny is the queen of curves and when she asked for 'Cogs, thistles or caterpillar wheels'.  Sounds easy enough, but you know that can't be!

This is Jenny's quilt.  I was lucky enough to see it at QuiltCon and was even more in love with it after seeing it in person.  

The concept I could easily grasp, the execution was a bit more difficult!  The double circle came together with little trouble, but when it came to the cogs that's when I started to struggle.

Eventually I worked it our and was able to semi-easily add the extended row of cogs.  Hopefully this block and the others made for Jenny will come together in a quilt!  

So far no one in our Bee has assembled a quilt from blocks collected.  I imagine it will be soon though!  I hope to share the Morse Code blocks I requested and share them soon!


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Hot Pink :: A New Quilt in the Works

In case I haven't said it enough, pink is my favorite color these days!  The past couple of years I've been collecting Cotton + Steel fabrics that include fluorescent pink in some degree or another.  I knew one day a design would come to mind where I could use the prints and finally cut into these beauties!

I think it's a good combination, so much so that this quilt is going to be for me!!  It's time to brighten up my bed!  You might need sunglasses, but so be it!

Most of the background of the prints is almost a natural muslin.  Then of course there is two shades of gray.  Do you think they all go together?

Of the 12 prints only one isn't Cotton + Steel, the top right floral print is Alison Glass.  It is a perfect fit and had to be included.  


I bought a couple yards of Burlap by RJR Fabrics when I first started collecting the prints, in hopes of using it for the background.  Back then it was easy to find, not so much these days!  However I was able to locate more and wasted no time in ordering 5 yards!  I certainly don't want to run out in the middle of making my quilt!

Trying to match the pink was the hardest part.  I have plenty of solid pinks, just nothing that could stand up to the pink in the prints.  Luckily I was able to find the perfect match at Purl Soho!  Michael Miller Neon Pink works for me...and I just noticed it's on sale...and I bought more...just in case...it's on sale!!

Of course I didn't want any grass to grow under my feet, so I immediately started cutting!  My plan is to make a queen size quilt and if I calculated correctly I will need 84 blocks.  We'll see how that plays out in the end, but it's a good start.


These pieces were sewn together in WOF strips and subcut.  Quick and easy for sure, yet I need a lot...like 168!  Still, and easy process that is rather satisfying to do.

You might be wondering what the design is?!  For now I'll show you the block I designed.  I may or may not change the original design once all the blocks are pieced. 

It's a rectangle that is 13 1/2" x 6 1/2" unfinished.  It might not look like much now, but my hope is it will be a beautiful (bright) quilt when it's finished!

Yes, there is a lot of hot pink and for some it might be way too much!  My husband is playing along and being a good sport about it.  It isn't his favorite color, but I promised him that with the Burlap background it won't be too bad.  I'm not sure that's true, but he bought it!

I'm planning on taking my time making this quilt.  It's more of a project I can grab and make a few blocks here and there.  That being said, it's so hard to do that!


Saturday, April 13, 2019

New Baby :: New Quilt!

Baby quilts are so much fun to make!  Based on the size and design they can be a faster finish than larger quilts.  That's always rewarding!  When you make a baby quilt, or any quilt for that matter, that is specifically for someone that amps up the fun in more ways than one!

When I found out that my 'adopted' family was going to have baby #3 I couldn't have been more excited and knew that there was a quilt to be made.  I patiently waited until the sex of the baby was announced before I committed to colors and design.

I decided this was a good time to use my 'X-Square' block and also the perfect excuse to finally use a stack of Cotton + Steel fabrics.

Once I grabbed the teal, aqua and mint Cotton + Steel fabrics I had to decide on what color I'd use for the four squares in the middle of the block.  With a bit of pink dispersed throughout the prints, I went with...pink!  White was the final choice and that meant I could start cutting and piecing!

With all the sections completed, I was able to start placing them on my design wall making sure every print was evenly dispersed and that there were four different shades of pink in the center.

The size of each block when complete is 10 1/2" unfinished.  The more blocks you add, the better it gets!  

With the due date rapidly approaching, I knew I needed to kick it into high gear.  Plus, I had the feeling that this baby was going to make an early arrival!

And, it seemed that was about to happen.  On Thursday afternoon, everyone was on high alert!  Pat was off to give birth or so we thought!  Turns out it didn't happen last night, but it's just a matter of time.  It could happen any moment...or not!

I hadn't taken pictures of the finished quilt and thought I had better get to it before the big event really does happen. 

38" x 47 1/2"

Long story short, no baby yet, photos taken and quilt has been gifted!  Now we wait!

One thing I love about this block and quilt is when it's time to quilt it the possibilities are endless.  With all of the shapes and points dot to dot quilting is a breeze.  I've made three quilts from this pattern and each one has a different quilted design.  

I used Aurifil 50wt thread in a Mint Green 2830) and Baby Pink (2423), but it's a bit hard to see from this picture.  

I'm so glad I decided to use the Cotton + Steel fabric...finally!  I was getting tired of having them in my stash and never using them.  I'm kind of at the point where I just want to use my stash.

In an effort to use every last scrap, I pieced a strip of squares to go across the back.  The gray piece section of fabric was also a piece that has lingered far too long in my stash.  I could almost feel a weight lifted from my shoulders from using my stash!

The binding is Kona Splash and frames it nicely I think.

Now it's a waiting game.  When will she make her debut?  Time will tell!


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Mini Waves :: A Quickie!

I really love improv curves!  How can you love something so much, and not do more of it though?  That's a question I ask myself every time!  And the fact is, I still didn't get to make what I really wanted to make.  I had a couple free hours on Sunday, not enough time to really dig in, so to feed my need I made a mini quilt again!

5 1/2" X 4"
 What it did was make me want to carve out an entire day to make a larger version of this mini.  Something that has been on my list for well over a year.

I grabbed my blue scrap bin began by pulling out the shades of blue I would need for the mini.  The final tally was 15 different colors!  The top is a light gray and gradually moves down to a deep dark blue.  I'm always surprised at how many strips and colors are needed and when laid out the length is enormous...until they are sewn together and it miraculously shrinks!

The strips start at 7-8" long and 1-1 1/2" wide.  That gives me plenty of space to achieve the curve without having to worry if they are wide enough.  

After sewing and trimming each completed wave varies in width.  Some might be wide, some might be just a sliver.  That's improv!  I trimmed the 'top' to 6" x 4 3/4" when I was finished and then had to quilt and bind it.  

Simple curved quilting, nothing more.  Where I went off the rail was the binding.  Maybe not quite off the rail, but I'm still debating if I did the right thing.  

Having just finished a quilt where I used a faced binding, I thought that might be a good choice.  I modified the the size of the binding and did my best to make it look good!  I will say it was a difficult feat!  With the bulk of the side seams, it was difficult to manipulate and deal with when it was time to fold the binding to the back.  But done is done!


I'm still debating about the binding.  I think it would work better if the quilt was larger.  I may give it a try when I make a bigger one.  We'll see...that could all change!

I've been spending very little time in my sewing room although I have plenty to do.  The weather has warmed up which means it's weeding time!  There are enough weeds to keep me busy for a couple months it seems.  Just when I finish I have to start over again!  Can't say I mind it too much.  It's nice to get out in the fresh air and dirt again!


Sunday, April 7, 2019

What's The Point?

Isn't that a good question?!  I asked myself that several times while making this latest quilt, so it only seemed fitting it should be named 'What's The Point?'

When the idea first came to me I wondered if I could pull it off.  I had a very clear vision in the beginning, yet with each added element that vision changed and I wondered what's the point of that?  What sense does that make?  And the fact of the matter is...there isn't or wasn't a point at all.  I got to try an idea, use some creativity, and have a little bit of fun.  

There doesn't always have to be a meaning or a compelling story behind what we make, while it might be interesting, sometimes we make things because we want to make things!  Maybe our creativity is flowing, we have a stack of fabric that needs attention, you may want to try a technique or a color combination.  The point is:  Do it!  You don't need a point!

29" X 18 1/2"
I wrote a blog post when I had finished piecing the top together if you want to read more about it (SPIKES).  I was just happy to have it finished and thankful I had enough fabric to do just that!

One thing I wanted to make sure I added into each 'phase' was black and burgundy.  

Almost like the phases of a moon, I wanted the black to gradually phase into burgundy.  

The circles are 2 1/2", the lines above are 1/2" wide and the spikes ended up being about 9 1/2" high.  I trimmed several inches from the bottom after the top was finished because I cut off the right and left sides of the spikes.  

There was a quilting idea forming throughout the piecing process, yet nothing was set in stone until I actually sat down and started!

I used Aurifil 50wt thread in Black, Burgundy and Chalk.  It's quite hard to see the quilting on black fabric, and because of that I made sure to use a neutral backing that would showcase the quilting.

The circles are free motion quilting and as you can see I wasn't being precise with my circles!  Three are all black, three are all burgundy and one is a combination of both.  Around the outside I use organic circles using Chalk. 

For the spikes I kept the black and burgundy separated using match stick quilting.  Some spikes had straight lines, while a few had a slight curve.  The dense quilting accentuates some of the areas I left more open.  

I choose not to quilt the vertical black and red lines, instead relying on 1/2" horizontal lines to complete the picture.  

It's hard not to almost like the back more than the front!  I love the way the quilting came together.  Almost as if I meant for that to happen!  

The matchstick and organic circle quilting along with the straight lines are a match made in heaven.  Chaos meets calm.

The circles were my favorite part to quilt.  I had area constraints around each one which meant I had to not color outside the lines!  Which is what I really wanted to do.  I may make a circle quilt just so I can go wild with circular quilt one day.  

And the last piece of this puzzle was the binding.  After QuiltCon, where I saw so many faced quilts, I decided I should bind more quilts like that.  Faced binding, knife edge binding, whatever you want to call it, is so easy!  I followed this tutorial: Knife Edge Binding, by Bloomin' Workshop.  Had I not used this type of binding I would have felt the need to match the binding on the bottom and sometimes I just don't want to!  With a faced binding you don't have to!  

My playtime is with this quilt is done, but the ideas are not!  You see, there is a point to everything!  

Have you tried a faced or knife edge binding before?  If not, click on the tutorial and see what it's all about!


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Rainbow Hexie :: That Nearly Turned into a Disaster!

We can do the same thing over and over again without issues, and then one time the norm changes and throws you for a loop!  It doesn't happen often at all, thank goodness, when a quilt bleeds and seemingly ruins the entire quilt.  The real shocker was that I hadn't even washed it when the worse bleeding I've ever encountered happened.

Before I share the finished quilt I'll share how this happened, how I fixed it and what I learned along the way.

32" X 49"

This was a baby quilt I made just because.  Because I had the pre-cut Hexies and it seemed like a quick and easy quilt to throw together in between projects.  You can read about the entire process here:  I Was in a Mood.

Normally I use my Hera Marker to mark my lines for quilting.  It has always freaked me out to use markers or pens on fabric, so I resisted the urge and stuck with what made me comfortable.  It wasn't until the past couple of years that I dipped my toe into markers.  The Dritz purple Disappearing Ink or the blue Mark-B-Gone water soluble pens seemed to be the two that everyone used.  Certainly if everyone used them, surely I could as well.  And I did, occasionally, depending on the project.  I never had any problems.  I'd spray the blue maker with water to make it go away and it worked well.  It was never a problem or issue until now.


I had finished quilting and had sewn the binding on the front when I decided I wanted the blue lines gone.  So I sprayed them away and let it be.  When I went back I was shocked!  Heartbroken!  And a little bit ticked off when I saw the reds were bleeding like no ones business!  I thought it served me right using a red without pre-washing, but who in their right mind washes precut shapes? 

That led me to be proactive, which didn't help at all!  I sprayed an Oxy Clean stain remover on the area and scrubbed the heck out of it.  Then I scrubbed it with Dawn dish soap.   Rinsed and rinsed and rinsed, with no change at all...it was actually worse!  

My dilemma was do I even bother with hand stitching the binding on the rest of the way, or do I cut my losses?  I decided finish it.  If the bleeding doesn't go away it'll make a beautiful quilt for my future dog!  During the fiasco I posted on Instagram sharing my bleeding issues and so many people shared their sympathy, but most importantly their solutions!

What I learned is blue Dawn Dish Soap and a hot water soak is the method of choice to remove bleeding.  Letting your quilt soak for 8-10 hours will make all the difference!  All I can say is it worked for me.  I threw in a couple color catchers for good measure, but hot water and Dawn...was the magic I needed.  

One comment said that the blue maker has a solvent to dissolve the ink resulting in dissolving the red dye in the fabric.  Say what?!  It made sense and right before I started this post I actually read the back of the pen packaging.  It said: Some fiber contents, fabric finishes or dyes (red and pink in particular) may not be suitable for use with this pen.  I guess I didn't ever read the back before and relied on other experts to read it for me!

Even though this wasn't a 'major', 'serious', 'important' quilt for me, it still took hours and hours of time and care to make it.  No one wants to put all that work into something only to have a horrible mishap to live with.

The end results were this.  No sign of bleeding!  This little quilt was saved!  I guess that means I won't be getting a new puppy anytime soon! 

I don't know if I'll give up the purple or blue markers entirely, but I'll use the Hera Marker for the majority of my quilting needs.

If you hadn't seen the original bleeding pictures you never would have known there had been a problem.  Whew!  Relief!  

There are any number of solutions on the Internet.  Google it!  But the most prevalent solution is Dawn Dish soap...no affiliation...and hot water!

Now, that quilt reveal!!

It isn't a large quilt, but it sure is pretty!  Rainbows win nearly every time!

I used a white thread for all the quilting.  At first I thought I might use a variegated rainbow thread, but veered away from that after I did the first round of straight lines.  I first stitched in the ditch around all the hexies and triangles.  

From there I did an Orange Peel curve in all the white triangles.  It was just so easy and effective!  

I knew I'd keep it simple with the rest of the quilting, using straight lines to form the stars in the colored hexies.  There wasn't any special technique or Free Motion quilting involved.  Just straight line that intersected to form stars. 

In an effort to use my stash, the backing is a 'comma' fabric and since it wasn't large enough for the entire back, I added white strips on the top and bottom.  Extending the goodness!   

And a pile is always my finishing photo go to!  This is the way my quilts that I use look like in real life!

I know the very last thing we ever want to see is fabric bleeding in our quilts.  Maybe it isn't a quilt that you are invested in, or it's just a quilt that you feel like making to itch the quilting scratch.  The heart stopping realization that that has happened is certain to give anyone a moment of pause.  Thankfully it doesn't mean your quilt is forever ruined, or that there isn't help out there.  I'm very thankful for all the input, sympathy and tips to solve my bleeding heart...

Has this happened to you?  Do you have any solutions for fabric that bleeds?