Monday, June 28, 2021

Making Some Progress, Learning New Things

I keep taking pictures with the intention of posting but then never seem to get around to actually doing it... My schedule has been crazy busy since life has started retuning to normal. Between Zoom commitments and traveling I barely have time to sew!  

I inadvertently learned new things about my Statler when quilting Take It Easy.  I had been wanting to try the orange peel pattern and the first row stitched out beautifully and super fast (mostly thanks to the simple piecing).  I thought I was going to have the quilt finished in no time and might even load another one that weekend.  I was SO wrong!  I started the second row and the design was way off - the points were misaligned by 1/4" or more. I caught it quickly, ripped out the stitching, and tried relocating the design to force the pattern to align. Obviously that wasn't the answer! I ripped again, tried and failed again, ripped stitches a third time, and then turned to Facebook for help.  Turns out you have to redraw boundaries and adjust the pattern for each row to align geometrics. I watched a quick video tutorial and was able to successfully complete the quilting. It was a frustrating process but I am happy to have learned something new! 

I've been plugging along on my Square Deal blocks.  I think I have three sets left after the current one is finished.  I would really like to get this top completed during my next retreat.

I have attended a couple of virtual events recently.  One, the Penn Dry Goods Market, I will talk about in a separate post as it was the inspiration for a new rug I started last week.  The other was the Vermont Virtual Quilt Festival.  I took three classes, one of which was the Flowering Snowball workshop taught by Irene Blanck. It was a great workshop although my hotel sewing setup wasn't ideal for piecing curves. 

I finished three blocks during class.  I was working with a little mini-iron so these are still in need of a good pressing.  They were so fun to make!  I want to get back to this project once I finish up Square Deal.  Fingers crossed I am really productive on my next retreat!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Building Villages and Collecting New (Old) Quilts

When the pandemic lockdowns first started, Moda and Miss Rosie's Quilt Company shared The Village pattern as a free download. I've always loved house quilts, and have been tempted more than once to try the one with 365 tiny hand-pieced houses, so this one definitely caught my attention. The houses are so quick and easy to make!  Of course, I started off strong and made about 20 of them and then was distracted by other projects and set them aside.  My friend Pat recently finished her version of the quilt, though, and it turned out so stinking adorable that I decided I needed to get back to mine.  I have "built" quite a few houses over the past month and my total is now around 100, so only about 32 left to go before I can assemble the top.  My goal for this month is to finish all of the houses and then to work on setting the blocks in May.

I also managed to make a start on my TAS challenge.  My first block is from this quilt that I acquired fairly recently:

Here's a close-up of one block.  As I started to trace the shapes to create the pattern I noticed that no two blocks were the same - the placement of the pieces varies a bit from block to block, and the number of berries came down to whatever fit the space. You would never notice to look at the quilt overall. The quilting is absolutely phenomenal!

I'm not sure if this first block will be the center of my project or one of the surrounding blocks - it all depends on what other blocks I end up doing. My "cheddar" looks far more yellow and not at all close to the original in this photo, but they are in reality a bit closer in color.  I struggled to find a yellow or orange that was similar in color. The block is around 20" square.

I'm not sure what block I will work on next - that will be a project for next weekend.  It may be one of my corner cross sprays assuming my latest purchase arrives on Friday as projected.  I had to find a quilt to add to my collection to satisfy the challenge requirements as I didn't really have any with cross sprays.  Here's the one that is making its way here - it gives me a few options for those corners!

I also managed to make a little progress on my Huguenot blocks.  I am still a block behind, but hope to make some headway on that this week.  Here are the last two blocks I finished:

They are really the same fabrics - poor photography is to blame for the differences. This week I will be participating in an applique workshop with Veronique Diligent of Australia.  I am really looking forward to meeting her and learning her techniques.  One more project to add to my list!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Starting New Projects

While I have been doing fairly well at avoiding starting new projects this year, in spite of  accumulating them (patterns and fabric) at a fairly rapid rate, I can no longer resist temptation.  A couple of new challenges/stitch-alongs have recently started and I am excited to play along, so my goal this month is  to develop plans and get started on both.  

The first is a challenge for my local TAS chapter. I was originally planning to look for an orphaned workshop project to use as my center/theme block and spent an afternoon digging through a drawer of workshop projects.  I had narrowed it down to a couple of options, but upon further consideration decided to go a different direction and instead design this project from quilts in my collection.  Here's the suggested layout:

My goal for this weekend is to figure out my center block.  I have acquired a couple of new quilts in the past week that definitely have to be included.  One of them arrived yesterday and it is absolutely gorgeous!

The other group project/stitch-along I am planning to get involved in is based on the alphabet.  The guidelines are fairly open, and I think many will likely be stitching actual letters, but I am leaning toward a floral theme.  The goal is one letter per month - I can keep up with that, right? So my goal for this month is to design my "A" block - I'm thinking an amaryllis, anemone, aster or azalea.  

I missed my opportunity to link up with Elm Street Quilts OMG this month, so my one monthly goal for March will be to remember to post in time to link up in April! 

Monday, March 1, 2021

OMG Fail & Zooming Away the Weekends

I was determined not to miss the February OMG link-up even though I didn't have much progress to report, but the end of the month managed to sneak up on me!  I didn't remember it was the end of the month until I was getting into bed last night and thinking about work...too late to get a post together.  I will have to double my efforts to remember this month!  

I did not make nearly as much progress as I had hoped on my Grassy Creek Mystery this month. I did manage to finish the hourglass units and get the remainder of the flying geese un-sewn, trimmed and re-sewn, and I have pieced all but three of the center stars. The next step is to assemble the center, and then I will have to face the dreaded string units. 

Part of the reason I didn't get much finished is that I have a bad habit of signing up for Zoom sessions, and an even worse habit of volunteering to lead them. It's all good - I love that there are so many new opportunities to participate in events I never would have been able to attend in person - but I can't resist trying to do them all!  At one point I even found myself attending two meetings simultaneously!

My Zoom time this past weekend included participation in the second round of virtual AQSG Study Centers. I attended five sessions and all were fantastic!  

I did make some progress on my Huguenot Friendship quilt.  This block wasn't too bad:

But then I started working on the Pokeberry block and needed to determine the best way to make a bunch of itty bitty 1/4" berries. I decided that the rubber band method would be easiest, but then had to make my own mylar templates because I didn't have any that small.  I used a sheet of Karen Kay Buckley's template plastic and a hole punch to make the templates.

I tried to waste as little fabric as possible when wrapping the templates.  The trick was cutting off the extra when they dried, trying to remove enough fabric to try to keep the berry relatively flat while leaving enough to have a seam allowance.

The berries aren't perfect, but the block is finished.  It certainly isn't the most attractive of designs - a little wonky.  

I think I need a change of pace for my March OMG project.  I will continue to work on my mystery quilt but I feel the need to choose something more exciting this time around. I will have to give it a bit of thought - I am thinking perhaps it might be time to start something new?  I will be back in a couple days with a plan....

Thursday, February 4, 2021

January Progress + February OMG

I actually had a start and finish in January - that doesn't happen often in my world!  I finished my grandson's dinosaur quilt a full 48 hours before we celebrated his birthday. I'm especially happy that it was 100% pulled from my stash, even the backing. He was so excited when he opened it! 

I took a fun workshop with Candy Grisham through my local quilt guild.  I needed to focus on making dinosaurs so I mostly listened and didn't sew much, but I did get a couple of Dresden plates started. It was a fantastic class that covered techniques for making a bunch of different styles of plates.  I definitely plan to make more.

As far as my OMG project is concerned, I have to admit that when I first saw the mystery quilt reveal in early January I was not a fan. I was too far along to just quit and throw it all away, but still had too much to do to be inspired to keep working on it.  I dragged my feet a bit (making dinosaurs) but then was relieved to see a Facebook post with an alternative setting using the same components that I liked much better!  It inspired me to continue working on the quilt and I am happy to say that I now have 15 of the 25 blocks complete. I will be constructing the center as it is shown below, using the gray string blocks and other pieces in the borders.  I think it will turn out okay.

I am linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal to share my January progress (even though I missed the deadline LOL) and to set my February goal, which is to continue working on my Grassy Creek Mystery quilt.  I am hoping that I can get the rest of the top constructed this month and move this one off of my list!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

PHD in 2021

My friend Sue inspired me to participate in Quilting Gail's PHD in 2021 in an effort to move at least a few of my hundreds of UFOs across the finish line.   

Luckily the rules for this challenge are pretty flexible as I am struggling to decide which 12 projects to choose and I may change my mind as the year progresses. I seriously have some form of quilter's ADD!  Anyway, here's my first pass, in no particular order:

      1. Grassy Creek Mystery
      2. Frolic! 
      3. Christmas Trees  
      4. Vintage Rose
      5. Village
      6. Huguenot Friendship Quilt
      7. Clamshells
      8. Starlite Skies (PG 2017 BOW)
      9. Take it Easy
      10. Triangle Gatherings
      11. Dresden Star
      12. Square Deal
A few of these only require quilting and binding so it should be reasonable to at least get those finished. Others will require considerably more effort...

The toughest part of the challenge for me is committing to finish new starts. I have already started two new projects just since the first of the year. In addition to joining in on Sentimental Stitches' Little Blocks 365 project, I decided my dinosaur-loving grandson needs a quilt for his second birthday. I received the pattern on Saturday and finished stitching two blocks over the weekend. His birthday is Jan 27th so even though I am only making a smaller version, finishing will definitely be a challenge.

I have two T-Rex blocks cut and ready to sew.  These little guys are so stinking cute! 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

January 2021 OMG

While I have never been a fan of resolutions, I am starting 2021 with a goal of getting back into the habit of blogging - both posting my own and reading others. The pandemic-inspired virtual explosion of 2020 has provided fantastic opportunities but has also been a bit of a distraction, at least for me.  I have spent way too much time reading Facebook posts and watching videos.  I definitely need to work on surfing less and stitching more in the new year!

One project I would love to start this year is a red & green applique quilt.  I haven't decided on a pattern yet, but would like to reproduce one from my collection.  I pulled out a few of my favorites to decorate for the holidays.  I love them all, but am leaning toward either the one on the top rung or the third one down. 

I have been making slow but steady progress on the Grassy Creek Mystery quilt. As my week of vacation comes to a close I am not even close to being caught up and I am really starting to second-guess my decision to use Bonnie's colors, but I won't give up.  I plan to focus on Grassy Creek as my One Monthly Goal for January, linking up with Elm Street Quilts.  I have now finished clue #3 (shown partly finished here) and am working on clue #4 which should be done this morning.

I did finish clue #5 before heading back to catch up on previous clues.  I still need to go back to clue #2 but will work on #6 (released yesterday) first. 

I also had a bit of catching up to do on my Huguenot Friendship blocks.  Once all of the shopping, wrapping, and baking were finished I was able to spend my evenings hand stitching and finished two more of blocks. 

This block gave me fits.  The inside curves on the flower were really tight.  My first attempt at doing it by needle-turn failed miserably. I had stumbled across my Appliquick tools while rearranging my sewing furniture the other day and decided to give them a try for this.  I can't say that I am a fan of having that interfacing material in the block - it feels pretty stiff, especially since there is a lot of fabric underneath it too - but I do think it turned out better than I could have done using any other method. There just wasn't enough seam allowance to prepare the edges with starch.  

I have so many new projects planned for 2021 - I have no self control when it comes to quilting!  I plan to start on the first one, Little Blocks 365, later today if I can decide on fabrics. The blocks are paper pieced (ugh!) and tiny - only 3" finished.  I need to choose fabrics that work in tiny pieces and, most importantly, will not get boring.  Not an easy task!  More to come on that - hopefully I will have progress to report by next week.