Monday, March 31, 2014

The Joy Of Being A Busy Quilter

I used to have a rule - start a project and work on it until finished, then start another one.  When I was struggling to finish a project I would buy fabric for the next and set it on the cutting table to encourage me.  No Cheating........ you have to finish one before you can start another.  This worked for many years and then I thought,
"What a stupid rule!".

That was a few months ago and now I'm happily juggling between 8 projects.  Oops, I forgot one, 9 projects, oh, forgot another one, 10 projects!  Have I totally lost my mind?  My husband, who worked in Psychiatry, said he is qualified to declare that I'm crazy..... but, I'm happy and excited too.

These are a few of my Dear Jane blocks that I worked on this past weekend.  Civil War fabrics are not my "thing" and piecing is definitely not my "thing", but I do love a beautiful quilt and apparently I also love a challenge.  I have 3 rows, or 39 blocks finished so there are "only" 186 blocks left to do.  I don't have a single piece of Civil War fabric but my friends, Teri and Norma are donating.  This is a lot of fabric so I will have to do something nice for them.


This is the original quilt make by Jane Stickle in 1863.  The Dear Jane patterns are just drawings with no instructions.  As I try to figure out each block I combine some of Jane's pieces to make it easier and applique some of the tiny ones.  I have some blocks that are entirely pieced by hand and some by machine.  As I struggle with trying to make the blocks square and the right size I think about Jane with no sewing machine, rotary cutter, steam iron, copier and a huge selection of fabric.  Do you think she had an un-picker?  I'm getting a lot of use out of mine.

I made 12 blocks and then put them away to relax my brain with some embroidery on my latest applique project.  I'm off to design some blocks and then to stitch - all with a (crazy) smile on my face.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Home From Retreat and Monkey Business

Last Monday I left home in a snowstorm (that's Spring in Utah) for the short drive to the Zermatt Resort in Midway which is just over the mountain from my home.  Of course, I can't just go "over" the mountain, but had to drive "around" the mountain, including through a brief blizzard. It was well worth the white knuckle drive to spend time with friends at this beautiful resort.

This annual retreat is sponsored by American Quilting and is a real highlight for everyone there.  Amy and her staff work countless hours to make certain we all have a great time.  We start out choosing our own personal sewing table in this beautiful room which is available 24 hours a day for the die-hard stitchers.  My latest evening was 11:00 p.m. as I was determined to reach my goal.

There is plenty of room for all our "stuff" and see those black curtains at the back of the room?  The classes are held right behind the curtain so we don't even need to pack up for class.  I taught the Bee Sweet Scissor Pull which was a perfect little project which most students finished in class.

After teaching I got busy with my own sewing projects.  I took a box of strips to sew into chevron strips that ended up 88" long - 8 of them.  Piecing is kind of like work to me and having 2 days of uninterrupted sewing time was just what I needed to get going on this project.  Someday, I will share the finished quilt.

When the strips were finished I put my sewing machine away and started to applique this cute bunny pillow designed by my friend, Norma Whaley.  Norma is a very talented designer and you can find her patterns Here.  This is my table with my bucket full of supplies, 2 coffee cups and a diet coke (to keep up my energy) and an unfinished sock monkey.

On the last day of retreat I took a sock monkey class.  Mary Lou taught the class and did a great job.  She had the most darling monkeys to show us, lots of socks to buy, and a kit that contained everything we needed.  These Sock Monkeys just make me smile and I've wanted to take a class at the past 2 retreats but always had a conflict with my own teaching.

Now this is my first one and he has a few problems.  The end of his tail looks like it got caught in a door, he has a bit of cellulite from uneven stuffing and those eyelashes give him kind of a drag-queen look.  I smile every time I look at him!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Basket Case

Here it is the finished Basket Case - and at times it almost turned me into a basket case.  As you can see, the 3 blocks I didn't like are permanently missing reducing the finished size to about 52" x 62", just the right size for taking a nap or reading a book.

For many years I only made primitive style quilts with dark colors.  My house is stacked with those quilts and I love them.  When the bright colored fabrics with bold designs started appearing in stores they were a shock to my system and I resisted them.  Really, why change out of my comfort zone?  Then slowly, I became intrigued with the color and designs and have made several bright quilts and you can see the influence of bright in my applique work.

At my age it's probably a good thing to have something bright and exciting rather than subdued and calming.

Next week I will be going to the American Quilting Retreat where I'm teaching a small project and taking a sock monkey class.  I don't know why, but those sock monkeys crack me up.  There will be plenty of time for sewing and I plan to take a few projects that need to get finished.

(p.s.  the blobs you see in the border are actually beautiful trees)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Blocks 14 and 15

 This one is my new favorite.  When I first started on this project I would select all the fabrics for each block before starting.  I quickly learned that when the small pieces were sewn together there was often a different "look" than anticipated.  For this block I began with the green and Aboriginal print on the pointy outside edge of the basket.  I really like the center piece that reminds me of a heart and the lighter pink helps to set it off.

Here it is - the last block.  On this one I appliqued a cotton handle rather than the ric-rac called for in the pattern.  This one was easy and I used another Aboriginal print for the spikes. 

Check back tomorrow for the finished quilt!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Block 12 and 13

Here is Block 13, I like the colors and it was easy to do.  I added the ric-rac on this one and my only mistake was that I wanted to have the yellow/black triangles section so the yellow was on top.  I think it would have looked better that way but it looks good enough that I didn't un-pick. 

You might be wondering, "where is Block 12?".  
Short answer - in the garbage.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Block 11

I like the colors on this block and the background is a much lighter pink than it looks on my computer.  The Akonye Kena fabrics have wonderful variation in the coloring that just doesn't show up with my unprofessional photography skills. 

This one received a "10" until I went to square it up and found the piece missing from the corner.  You can't see it?  Good.

Tomorrow, a sad story about a missing block.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Block 10

I'm happy with this one - after yesterday's tantrum that's all I'm going to say.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Block 8 and 9 and I'm depressed.....

 OK, I'm just going to say it.  I hate these blocks and I'm openly apologizing to Chris Jurd, the designer, that I made her blocks so ugly.  I really tried to talk myself into this one that looks kind of like a space ship because it has that beautiful bee.

Now there's no hope for this one.  I didn't like the shape in the original pattern and being basically lazy, I didn't try to come up with something different.  Maybe it's the fabrics I used but this one reminds me of the monster in the movie Predator.  Can you see his eyes and that pointy mouth?

I worked hard yesterday to make another disaster.  Piecing is just not my thing.  I got the block which is kind of cute finished and there was a piecing missing on the edge.  How did that happen?  I'm going to mend it rather than do it over.  See, I said I was lazy.

For all of you who think you are the only quilter that makes mistakes take joy in knowing that you're not alone.  I'm right there with all of you un-pickers.  My quilt is going to have 12 blocks instead of 15 and if I have much more frustration......... well, garbage pickup is on Tuesday.

Right now I'm going to my sewing room to sulk.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Block 7

Today's block starts off my 3 baskets I like the least.  Why?  The shapes don't appeal to me and I'm not crazy about my fabric choices.  Or maybe I like the fabrics but not the shapes and so the entire thing doesn't work for me.  I'm holding out hope that when it is all together it will be OK.

Paper piecing is supposed to result in perfect points.  When it comes to piecing I can mess up anything and here is proof.  See how all the points don't go to the bottom of the purple dot section?  Luckily, I gave up on perfect long ago.

Check back tomorrow for another "not my favorite".

Block 6

This block tops row 2 and I think it is quite pretty.  I used the designer's instructions for adding the ric-rac on this one since there wasn't a pattern piece for the bottom half of the background.  Once the block was finished I was a little disappointed in the piece I fussy cut but it all fit and I wasn't so unhappy that I would unpick 2 rows of tiny stitches to change it.

The print I used for the handle and points is a dark blue print and that one was a pleasant surprise - I really like this one and how it stands out against the pink and the background.  All the fabrics look fantastic when laid out on the table but once I get them sewed together it's sometimes a surprise.

See you tomorrow for Block 7.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Block 5 and the end of Row 1

This photo makes the background appear much darker than it is.  But then, I'm not a professional photographer and don't understand all the ins and outs of lighting.  I'm just thrilled when it isn't blurry.

The background is another Akonye Kena cotton in an eggplant color with a lot of subtle shading that really shows off the bright colors in the basket.

Baujke is watching my blog and you can see her comment on Block 4.  She asks, "When you see all those fabric you get the impression that you have a huge pile of fabric but if i remember well you don't have a huge stash. But did you buy fabric especially for this project?

Well Baujke, you're right in that I don't have a big stash.  Three years ago I bought an assortment of 1/4 yard cuts of Kaffe and similar colors for my bright version of Acorn's Promise. Of course, there was a lot left over so I am working on a hexagon quilt that I will show "someday" when I get the borders finished.  Surely, I thought, this will finish up those scraps.  But no! The hexagons barely made a dent and then I added a few leftovers from the Urban Owls kit last year.  And now, I can't see that using the scraps again has made much of an impact on this little stash. 

I think 3 quilts from one pile of fabric is enough.  I don't want every quilt I make to look the same.  Besides that, most of the fabrics have holes in the middle from fuzzy cutting or missing corners.  I plan to go through the pile and keep my favorites and give the rest away.

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new week 
and a new row.
Have a great day.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Block 4 Basket Case

This block was easy, so I really liked doing it.  My attitude about patterns is that they are beginning points - you get to make as many changes as you like in color, technique, fabrics, etc.  The original Basket Case pattern uses shirtings for the backgrounds and ric-rac on many of the blocks.

This block called for ric-rac at the top of the curved yellow dot/green print section.  The pattern instructs you to stitch ric-rac by machine on the curved edge, turn it to the wrong side, and then lay it over the adjoining (purple triangle) piece and stitch in the ditch on the ric-rac.  The original pattern has also used more ric-rac for handles.

I didn't want to use a lot of ric-rac and to be honest, I didn't want to go buy any.  I've used it in a few places but pieced the curved edges together by machine.  Sewing the curves is really easier than you may think, it's all in the placement of the fabric pieces.  The piece with the concave curve (inside curve) goes on top.  Using this block as an example, place the purple triangle piece on top of the yellow/green section, right sides together.  It only takes 2 pins, really, believe me....... 1 at the beginning and 1 at the end of the seam.  As you sew the 1/4" seam just move the edge of the top piece over to match the edge of the bottom one.  OK, if you don't believe me, find the center of each piece and put another pin there.....but you don't need to.  If you need to stop along the way make certain the needle is in the down position so the fabric won't move when you remove the pins or make an adjustment.

If you put the yellow/green piece on top you will fight it all along the seam.  Just a tip to make piecing curves easy.

Have a lovely Saturday and make time for some stitching.  Block 5 will be here tomorrow.

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