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Thursday, January 28, 2016

One of the things is not like the other...

     My grandkids love hidden pictures, puzzles, I Spy, and finding things in photos that don't belong. I should have employed them in looking at my Starcross quilt. Even though I took photos all along, I missed it. Once it was all sewn together with lattice strips on the wall, I spotted it. I am blaming it on a) constant headaches, b) age, c) preoccupation with other quilts, or d) all of the above.
      However, now I have to rip out the block and set it in right- rip seams all around it and get it back in. Yikes. Today, I ripped it out, but I am still staring at the lone rogue block. Even though I placed all the blocks ahead of time the right way on individual papers, I got it wrong.
      This was a kit from Craftsy although the colors went where we wanted them. I would have chosen some other colors. When I had it on the wall, I though, as a comfort quilt, it may be too much to look it. I took the white fabric to Joann's and found Kona Bone that matched the corners and made the lattice. The color works to calm things down, however, my technical ability to get the blocks to line up is not where I would like it. I tried pinning through the seams to make sure it lined up, but no. 
      You, the viewer, probably caught the block right from the start.
Early layout

Sashing between blocks
Sashing all around- dumb block is still wrong

Trying to match seams with pin guides
Trying in vain to match up the blocks.

String based Quilt sewn up!

     On page 30 of Cultural Fusion, there is a quilt called Toran. It is a little unusual. It uses string pieced blocks layered and free form cut with solids. I liked the look. I have a lot of string scraps and I wanted to use them in a different way, so this was perfect. I had some 10" squares of light paper from Missouri Star Quilt Company, so I used those for the strips and it worked very well. I was able to trim the final blocks to 9" instead of the book's 8.5", so that helped with the quilt size. I also made the quilt rectangular, 4 by 5 blocks. It is a great lap size. I will not put a border on it. The one in the book had a piano key border, but I like the quilt just like this. 
     I think it will be fun to quilt. Have to make a back first. I shot some photos of the steps if you are interested- might help understand how the quilt was made. Page 30 is worn out in my book. At first you may dismiss the quilt, but it has a curvy flow that I really like. I made the free form cuts more curvy than the book because I wanted the curve flow.
String block, solid, string block, solid layers,
free form curve cut- 4 in a set
 
Top string piece to bottom, revealing 2nd layer solid 
Pressing the curve seam flat first, then rolling the top back and pressing the block
Initial sample blocks to view
Layout on wall 1

Layout on wall 2
All sewn up and pressed!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Batik Rail all quilted up!

     Despite having some long arm issues, like having the hopping foot get loose and bust the needle guide and waiting for new ones in the mail, I was able to finish up the Batik Rail Fence inspired from the book, Cultural Fusion by Sujata Shah. I quilted each big block section differently- one pattern for the dark fabric and a different for the light. This helps me to try different things and practice more. I used Mocha Glide on the top and blue Omni in the bobbin.
     I really like the quilt. I have 7 blocks left, so I need to make some more to get another one done. All the batiks I have now are too dull for this and my local quilt shop closed in December. It is so hard to see if the colors on shops online are bright enough. It used 6" WOF strips. First, the quilting detail photos.





Whole quilt minus the not yet done binding-what color, hmm, or scrappy?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Oh, so close, Calico Rose!

      Except for the checkerboard border, almost done with Calico Rose- 2" scraps! Never worked that small for so big. A big thank you to Deanna, from Wedding Dress Blues for the free pattern. This is the third quilt of hers I have made. Her directions are just excellent! Loved the whole long process. It has been a great Leader/Ender quilt. Now just to get more checkerboard done. The more different scraps you have, the better looking it is.
     Now I will need to find another scrap leader ender to make!
Laid out on wall
All webbed up 
All sewn up, checkerboard waiting to be added
First white border on and first checkerboard on one side

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Alternative to (shudder) Snowballing on Starcross

     In a past post, I whined about snowballing. This is when the base piece has square placed in the corner, sewn on the diagonal using a drawn line or crease, one corner of the top square is folded back to the base corner, and two layers have to be cut off behind the fold. Just hate it. Hard to sew precise, hard to trim, waste, etc.
     In my migraine haze, I was going through my rulers trying to plan a blog on tools. I picked up the Easy Angle Ruler I learned to use doing the ill-liked Grand Illusions mystery- I did learn some precision piecing on that. I thought, why can't I do all the cuts on the small squares and base pieces using that ruler so could sew a 1/4" seam against the seam guide and everything lined up, no awkward cutting off pieces behind, etc.
     I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked. I trimmed in sets of 4 pieces to keep accurate. Yes, there is more cutting beforehand, but after sewing the block, it all just presses so nicely (with starch of course). 
     To make sure I did not screw up the order, I laid each block when the individual components were done on a large piece of newsprint. I stacked up all the blocks this way. Then, I take the top paper and put the second column face down over the first one and chain stitch all three. I use a leader ender (border for Calico Rose) and then take column three, open up the first chain stitched set, and put column three face down on column two, leader/ender. This way, all the rows are held by thread, ready to sew the two horizontal seams. I then press the seams and put it back on the paper. I will sew all the remaining blocks this way. After they are all sewn, I will sew the rows, chain piecing from one block set to another. When I reach the end of the blocks, I will chain piece all the last row seam. This way, no piece ever gets out of order no matter how much my head hurts. Requires no thinking, just being a robot at that point.
    If I would have been smart enough to figure out the Easy Angle earlier, I would have cut 2 1/2" strips and cut all the triangles out from that eliminating any waste from the 2 1/2" squares. I could have cut 4 1/2" strips and done the same thing probably with the base squares. Would have wasted less (it is Kaffe fabric) and been more precise I think. And no Snowballing. Hopefully the photos will help someone.
Easy Angle ruler, 4 blocks with white triangles,
4 blocks with star point triangles.
Later, I cut both sides of this block at a time and it worked fine
The block laid out on paper.
2nd column laid face down on first column, last column put in order to move to machine

At machine, column 1 and 2 together ready to chain piece, third column standing by in order
First chain pieced blocks through, leader ender following. 
Chain pieced blocks opened like book, third column face down on column 2, chain pieced
Block back on paper. Needs two horizontal seams sewn. Will be chain pieced when all blocks in stack are done.
Nothing gets out of order or rotated wrong.

Friday, January 15, 2016

New day, finally


     For the past weeks, I have been in a migraine trough. Only those of you who are afflicted with chronic migraines need no explanation, the rest of you, I will spare you. I have been to all kinds of professionals with varying degrees of success. In a little while, I will have my third infusion of the week to break it. Today, when I got up, I felt maybe the corner has turned. Only a bit of residual buzzing and dull head pressure. I saw an orange glow when I walked into my sewing studio very early. I took the camera and ran out of the house in robe and nightgown to capture the new day. It really lifted me, I was so grateful.



     Without prayers and faith, I would have stayed in bed. 
The sunrise reflected on my sewing room window 
Inside my sewing room, the glow flows in
     I must say that quilting and sewing keep me moving and working, even when I can't do anything else. I have finished and worked on a lot of stuff that did not take much thinking. I could just keep chucking stuff through the machine and not even count. Before I knew it, a whole pile was sewn. I have been keeping daily notes in a spiral notebook of what I am doing since Jan. 1 and that has helped me to remember and pick up where I was and what needed doing. The only thing I didn't dare do was use the longarm as that goes so fast and my brain not so much.
     I have been taking photos and cropping and getting them ready to show, but I could not put a sentence together. I am planning on doing a best of series- best tools, best techniques, best influences, etc. I am hoping to begin that tomorrow if the infusion works, and alas, more steriods. 
    One project completed was the guild mystery quilt that so needed a final border. Thanks to my daughter, Ria, who suggested a thinner border than I was thinking to match the width of the dark border triangles.
Border audition
Finally, border on and done but for quilting

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Plan B in a Snap

      I made a goal to get on the long arm and get some of the many quilts waiting finished. For the past couple of days, I worked very hard and focused. I had 4" on the bottom to complete and when I moved the machine to bring up a new bobbin thread there was a load growl and a big SNAP! The thread guide above the needle snapped in two. I shut off the machine and waited until my heart stopped beating so hard. On examination, it seems the hopping foot got loose and moved over close the needle and somehow it all went wrong. Nothing seems to be damaged but the guide. A new one will not arrive until at least Saturday in the mail. I have a great Nolting dealer.
     So it took a great deal of self talk to refocus and go piece, not go to pieces. I finished the One Block Wonder border, worked on the snowballed Starcross, sewed 10 rows of the RWB bricks, and finished the A blocks of Calico Rose. Now I have to put them on the wall and figure out placement. The border requires a lot of 2" squares and will be the leader ender project for a while. 
My first time ever mitered border, impressed?
Ten rows, 15 more to web
Calico Rose A and B blocks done

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The best present

     Working in my studio, I have tried to streamline supplies and how I work with them. I am going to do a best 10 tips in the near future. For Christmas, my grandchildren and daughter in law made me a small ironing table. The kiddos colored the legs with marker scribbles and it is cover with batik (yes!). I put this right next to my sewing table and use the cordless iron to press small pieces quickly. I used it for the dreaded snowballs, and other small things. The big pressing requires getting up and using the ironing board. This was such a great gift!
Complete with custom marker decoration on the legs!

If at first you don't succeed- rip, rip, rip

     I really don't like kits. I like to pick my own fabric and designs. However, I made an exception when Craftsy had a sale on a kit with Kaffe fabric cheaper than I could buy the fabric alone. I love Kaffe fabric, but I hardly ever buy it because I get overwhelmed by the choices and the drama. The pattern (Starcross) came along as a download. 
    Don't know why, but I loathe snowballing. No logical reason- don't mind trimming loads of HSTs or anything, but snowballing makes me boil. Maybe because I feel obligated to use the small triangles cut off instead of throwing them away. I tried sewing some of them, but they are so tiny.
    I did read the pattern, but I am challenged when directions just use shades of gray to explain fabric placement. So, I did two sample blocks as a trial, were wrong. It took some staring to figure out why. So, the whole 9 patch had to be ripped. After being resewn, I got it. I can only make two blocks at a time because the snowball effect takes hold. So then I sew something else and come back to it. There will be 20 blocks when it is done. 
    I do love the fabric. I wish I could figure another way to cut fabric so I did not have to snowball.
Wrong
Right 
More blocks, right


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year, new goals

     Let's start this off with this RWB brick quilt pinned on the wall for inspiration ready to piece.

     This year, I am not numbering my goals, but grouping them. Maybe this will inspire someone to write theirs down and think differently.
MAKE:
- Comfort quilts- at least one full package a month (quilt, bag, book, card). Get another person on board with me.
- 6 Red, white and blue quilts completed for veterans
- Art quilts- Denim landscape, Batik landscape at least 3' x 4' without fusibles, figure out how, experiment with small work
- New leader/ender
- One challenge/block swap
FINISH:
- Sea Urchin (paper pieced), Gray Squares kit I bought in Ithaca that has to be sewn different from instructions (tedious) to look good, Calico Rose Quiltalong (Wedding Dress Blues), Border on Mystery Quilt, and quilts listed in my binder
- All quilt tops on hangers to be quilted!
LEARN:
- 2 classes, (don't know any yet) Would love a longarm one
- 2 new techniques
- 3 quilt retreats
- 1 Big show (maybe the Erie one)
MAINTAIN:
- My machines
- Clean others vintage machines
- Scraps- cut, sizes, strips, squares- no piles!
- Fabric- new shelving/storage all in one place
- Daily sewing log in spiral notebook
TEACH:
- Will work for fabric, I just love teaching people new or quicker ways to work, get them inspired and take a leap.
- Techniques/patterns/tips- to guilds or any small group

Monday, January 4, 2016

Goal lines

Not Niagara on the Lake, but where we cut down our tree the week before Christmas. Gray then also.
     My husband and I usually go away for at least a day between Christmas and New Year's to Niagara on the Lake in Canada just across the US border. It is just such a lovely little town. It sits on the Niagara River right at Lake Ontario. The architecture is so cozy and relaxing except for the McMansions. Normally I take a lot of photos, but it was totally dark and grey all day so no photos. When there, we go over all our goals for the past year, plan new ones and evaluate all areas of our life away from distractions. 
     Last year, my goals were guiding lines, but not all done. Comfort quilts are continuing to be made, but I have not found anyone else on board with me to make them. My mom continues to sew strips for me.
     I did poorly with art quilts. Because I want to make landscape quilts at least 3' x 4' without fusible, I am stalled and don't know how to proceed, so I didn't. Want to make denim and batik ones. 
    Blogging continued, but I want to do a better job- at least 3 times a week. I finished the mystery quilts except for the border I want to add on the guild one and Grand Illusions blocks were gratefully given away to Sarah Craig for her group to finish and give away. I made three quilt retreats, was in one show in Rochester, went to AQS Paducah (loved the city and show- never will ride a bus again) and the AQS show in Syracuse, NY.
    I made 2 leader ender quilts, learned new techniques from classes I took with Sujata Shah and John Kubiniec, completed a bow tie swap, cleaned people's vintage machines and kept up my own. I rescued a purple Kenmore and bought a hardly ever used Kenmore 158.1345. 
    Made a huge jump and bought a Nolting longarm, first a used one and then traded up to a new 20" one. 
     I was able to teach some workshops at my guild and helped make a lot of kids quilts for Camp Gold Star and Camp Purple. Cut lots and lots of scraps with my Stripology ruler.
     New goals coming up.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

What happened in the whirlwind?

     Every year I think because I have a set of lists and plans the holiday season will be manageable. Apparently I live in a delusion. I got creamed by the running around, resulting migraines, food prep, and family stuff. Like getting a cortisone shot in your neck the afternoon before Christmas Eve and then doing Christmas dinner shopping is a recipe for disaster. My sewing studio, (the old living room) had to be all tucked away because the Christmas dinner buffet was going on its long counter. 



     Even the cat preferred to be in a bag. He still managed to cause trouble (chewing/shredding egg cartons everywhere and throwing up the evidence).
      This is why my grand plan to put up my new goals on January 1st did not materialize. I did write them and evaluate last year's, but did not type them in here yet.
     I made a bunch of gifts before Christmas but forgot to photo them in my haste to wrap them. My daughter sent some photos of the purses I made her thankfully. 




     I will get those goals up and some photos of quilts worked on shortly.