Friday, April 20, 2018

Quilting practice

Gosh, I am tired of feeling sick.  It's been all week now and I'm done with this.  Kind of like we're all done with winter, you know?

Not much opportunity for stitching this week, because of the headaches, you know, but I did spend a little bit of time here and there finishing up a piece I had started earlier.  This baby-sized quilt gave me the opportunity to practice some more of the walking foot quilting, plus it got finished and ready to donate for a tiny person to love.  Here is the little quilt:

Say what you will about the pattern, which is a much smaller version of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion quilt, the colors are certainly cheerful, aren't they?  This finished at just 36 inches square, which is actually exactly the size I wanted.  Because this was a quilting practice piece, here is a view of the quilting from the back, which is easier to see:

Not a wrinkle in sight!

My plan for this little piece was to use the walking foot to quilt in the gridded sashing and then to make some free-motion flowers in the larger pink areas.  The walking foot portion went really well, using a bright green thread to outline all the squares in the green and white sashing, then carrying those out into the yellow border.  When it was time for the free-motion part, though, there was sadness:

I have no idea what was happening here, but it just would not work.  I tried and tried, but the stitches kept skipping and the thread kept breaking.  I changed the needle, changed the thread, took the machine  all apart and cleaned it, but nothing helped. I finally gave up because I was afraid of tearing the fabric.  So the next day I pulled out the walking foot again and stitched a starburst effect in each of the pink and black blocks:

I think this was a decent save! It works pretty well with the grid stitching and fills in those blocks pretty well.  It was fairly quick, too.  I don't know why the thread looks so white in the photo.  You know I like thread to match the fabric pretty well, so this thread is a bright pink and definitely looks pink against the black and the other colors.  The only problem I had with this stitching is that it left a lot of thread tails, which then had to be knotted off and trimmed. 

I finished this little quilt with a zippy green machine binding and now it's ready to be donated.  I now have 3 of these 36-inch square quilts to send off, so they are in the box and ready to go and will get to the post office next week. 

I was going to talk some about Leah Day's new book on walking foot quilting, but that's all the energy I have.  It's a good and helpful book, though, and I'll tell you about it another time, I promise!

Blooming forsythia!

Hope this post was coherent, and I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.  I will be resting.  I might pet some fabric, and I did get a good idea for the triangles that I was playing with earlier this week, so there might be a little stitching.  The hubs will be outside working in the yard, so I may need to supervise, but I can do that from the sofa, right?

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and crazymomquilts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A tub full of triangles

I haven't been feeling well the last few days.  It's been a combination of a bad cold plus what's best called "intestinal distress,"  which is probably brought on by cold meds.  This means that I've been kind of laying around, pretty bored, with a headache and some bad tv for company.  Of course I wandered into the sewing room, too, even though there are many sharp objects in there.

To amuse myself between naps, I pulled out the basket full of leftover triangles to see what I could play with without messing up any of my current projects.  I don't know about you, but when I feel sick and try to sew something, I know I'll have to rip it out and redo it later.  Maybe it's the meds, but it's safer just not to work on anything important until I've been feeling better for about 24 hours or so.  Here's what I started with:

That's a lot of triangles! Many of these were leftovers after projects were finished, some were mistakes made in the wrong sizes, others were made in the wrong colors, and some I just ended up not using.  I don't generally make what some people call "bonus" triangles unless the pieces I start with are really big, so all of these were deliberately made.  Okay, almost all, because in that mess were some like this:

Yep, those are very tiny!  I'm not sure where they came from, or what they'll be used for, but here they are.

Of course, as soon as I dumped out that bin (and isn't the bin itself cute?), I had to sort the triangles to see what I had:

I didn't count them, just kind of put them into piles.  Then came the trimming.  Most of these were untrimmed, and so I cut them to  standard sizes and tried to figure out what I could do with them.  I managed to make three small projects from the triangles so far:

The first one is a mini quilt with the blue and white triangles, which were a decent size to start with.  The hsts were 2-1/2 inches square, and this little piece is now about 14 by 16.  I think it needs another border, but I didn't have the brainpower to choose one today. 

The second piece is a little set of pink and aqua broken dishes that's about 8 by 12 right now.  I think I might layer this with insulbrite and use it outside by the grill.  I know, it seems too pretty for that, but it's leftovers that make a pretty small piece.  If you can think of something better to do with it, let me know. A Barbie sleeping bag is not in the cards, sorry!

The last is that little 4-1/2 inch green and black square, which I didn't take a separate picture of, but it's destined to be a little pincushion.  Do you all quilt your pincushion tops before you layer them, or do you just leave them?  I can't decide.

After all that, I was too tired to go on, so the rest of the triangles will have to wait for a little longer.  Depending on how I feel in the morning, I might work on them some more, but I haven't thrown any of them away, so they'll be waiting whenever I get to them. 

That's the news from here!  I hope you're all feeling well, don't have any more snow, and are enjoying all kinds of good things.  If you have some good ideas for the rest of those triangles, be sure to let me know! And I certainly hope this post made sense.  Not sure I can tell right now!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and Oh Scrap!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Suddenly spring finish

And suddenly, it's spring!  Yay! I know it isn't spring for everyone, but heck, I am so thrilled to open the windows and put away the heavy coat and maybe start to think about possibly someday having breakfast on the deck again.  Of course, it's also the time of the year when I pull out the stored spring clothes and say "ugh, why did I save this?" Long story short, I'll be shopping this weekend.

This is also the time of year when the light is weird for taking quilty pictures because the sun is out but the trees don't have leaves yet, so there are strange shadows and lots of over exposure.  But we'll get through it because today I have a finish to show, and darned if I didn't manage to get some decent pictures.  There are a lot of shadows from the quilting texture, but it will be fine! Here's my newly-finished quilt:

This is Misfit Toys. The top was my last finish for 2017, and now it is all finished and is a cuddly quilt!  For those of you seeing it for the first time, this is kind of a "cleanout" quilt-- it's made of orphan blocks, leftovers, a few failed experiments, and a few leftover parts and pieces to fill in some spaces.  All of the sashing and the borders are strings from the string jar.  It was a lot of fun to make and was all done on the fly, with no plan until I put the blocks on the wall and started arranging them.

I am actually amazed at how much I like this quilt.  I never would have expected it, but it's lovely.  I'm surprised that all the blocks and leftovers go together so well.  I'm also surprised that there is so much to look at here.  From a distance the light strings kind of blend together and fade into the background, but up close there is a lot of variety:

It's not just whites and creams!  There are pinks, yellows, greens, pale blues, and a few prints in there, and every time I look at it I find another reminder of a previous quilt.  I don't remember where I used a particular white on white, but the prints bring it back every time.

This quilt has a lot of really pretty texture.  It was quilted by my friend Diane Minkley in a pattern called Popcorn, which works great on this quilt.  (Diane could quilt one for you, too!)  An allover quilting pattern was really the best way to go to tie everything together.

I used some yardage of a Moda print for the backing.  It's not "leftover," like the rest of the materials in the quilt, but I mostly use neutrals for backings and I had this yardage, so I used it.  For the binding, I joined together some shorter pieces from my basket of bindings, pieces that were 60-70 inches long, which isn't really long enough for a quilt of any size.  Put a few of those together, though, and you've got something.  I've been using machine bindings for many things lately, but this time I hand-stitched it to the back, mostly because the evenings have been kind of chilly and it's nice to have a quilt on your lap.

So there we are--another happy finish!  I hope you have had some happy stitching this week, too, and some spring.  It's wonderful to have the warm temperatures back, isn't it?  I understand they'll be going away again next week, but I'm enjoying them now.

Everybody have a good weekend!  I do have to get some clothes, and I'm also planning to do some yard work.  After this week, that will be a chore, but for now I plan to enjoy it.  I've got a new garden fork, and I'm ready to use it!

Sharing at crazymomquilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and Oh Scrap!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Squared Away Block 4

Hello all, and welcome back to the Squared Away quilt project!  If you're new here, this quilt was designed by me and Angela of soscrappy as a fun way to use up some scraps.  It's free, and all the patterns are saved with links on both blogs, so come on along and sew with us!

This month's color is a bright, happy yellow, along with golds, perfect for spring.  Here is this month's block:

4X Star, Ladies' Art Company, 1895

This is actually a very old block with several names, called 4X Star in the Ladies' Art Company catalogue in 1895.  It appears again as a Carrie Hall block in 1935, and here it is in our quilt in 2018.  For this block, you will need two yellows, ideally with one that leans more towards gold to preserve the pattern.  You could also choose a completely different color instead of the second yellow, too.  Green or pink might look really good with the yellow.

Let's make some blocks!

Cutting for 10-inch blocks:

I made my blocks using strip piecing, but if you have 2-1/2 inch squares, feel free to use those instead.

From the main yellow, cut:

5-3/4 inch square* (for hsts, can oversize if that's something you do)
1 2-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch strip
1 2-1/2 inch square

From the darker yellow/gold, cut:

4 2-1/2 inch squares

From the background, cut:

1 5-3/4 inch square* (can oversize)
1 2-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch strip
4 2-1/2 inch squares


First, use the 5-3/4 inch squares of the background and the first yellow to make 8 2-1/2 inch  half square triangles using the Magic 8 method:

Next, stitch the 2-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch strips of the background and the first yellow together along the long edge.  Press to the yellow, then cut into 4 2-1/2 inch sections.  (A little bit is included for straightening.)

That's all for the units. On to assembly!


First, make the corners.  Use 2 of the yellow hsts, the background 2-1/2 inch squares, and the gold 2-1/2 inch squares and lay them out as shown.  Make sure that the yellow hsts "kiss" in the middle.

Stitch into a 4 patch, pressing seams to the solid 2-1/2 inch squares.  Press the seams "down" toward the gold if you'd like your seams to nest.  If you usually spin your seams, be aware that this may cause a buildup in some areas because these 4 patches can't be turned to  avoid it.

These units should measure 3-1/2 inches square.  Make 4.

Next, gather all of your units plus the remaining yellow 2-1/2 inch square and lay them out as shown:

Notice that the yellows in the strip units are on the outside of the block.  It's easy to get them turned around!  Join the units into rows and the rows into a finished block.  Give it a good press, stand back and admire your lovely spring-like block!

As always, I made three blocks this month.  I used a pale blue print for one of the backgrounds, which I think worked out okay, though it's difficult to see in the picture:

And here are my 15-inch blocks for this month:

I love these blocks!  Yellow is one of my favorite colors, even if it is difficult to photograph.

With that, we are almost halfway finished with the blocks for the quilt! Hope that all of your stitching is going well.  As always, be sure to hop on over to Angela's blog to see her blocks and get some more ideas, and be sure to visit her linkups on Saturdays this month as well.  You can link up Instagram posts there, too, and if you're sharing on IG, be sure to tag me (@academicquilter) or use #squaredawaybom so I won't miss your pretty blocks.

Happy stitching, everyone! Our next block will be May 5th.  Meet right back here with some fabric and thread!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Practice squares

Hi everyone!  I hope you're having a good week so far and that you had a great holiday weekend.  We had a nice holiday, kind of quiet, and one day during that holiday break I got to have a sew day with my smart friend Nancy! We had a fun and productive time, and it did not even involve any chocolate, which I can't have any more anyway.  It was great!

One thing I've been trying to work on is doing some more of my own quilting, especially on the smaller things.  I don't have a long arm, and no prospects for getting one, and free motion quilting on my machine mostly eludes me, so I've been practicing walking foot quilting.  Just so we have a nice picture near the beginning, here's something I'm going to quilt up myself.  More after the photo!

I think this is really cute, and it was easy to make, too.  The problem with practicing quilting is that they advise you to make some scrap pieces to practice on.  I hate doing this, mainly because it seems so wasteful.  I have enough potholders and such, so what would I do with practice pieces?  My solution is to make some "practice square" quilts, that will turn into donation quilts once I finish with them.  This way I get the practice and it remains something useful.  I actually made two really big practice squares, including the one above.  Here is the other:

These are simple square in a square in a square (in a square) pieces that finish at 36 inches square, perfect for donation to Sarah's Hands to Help Challenge this year.  Yes, they got wet when I took pictures because, yes, it was raining again, but don't worry--these will be washed well before they're donated.  These will certainly give me enough room to practice, don't you think?  (For anyone who is interested, I've posted the cutting sizes for these quilts at the end of this post.) 

I've already been practicing some, including on the doll quilts, and during my sew day with Nancy I managed to quilt and bind this little quilt, which is also 36 inches square:

I did not make any of these blocks.  They are from a swap that I did with a quilt group a few years ago.  I made this little top with leftovers from a larger top, which is still unquilted.  The quilting here is better seen from the back:

It's mainly straight lines, but hey--no puckers or wrinkles! It's simple but I like it.  Everything fit perfectly and the quilting went fast.  I have another one basted and ready to go, too:

This was also a small top that I actually cut down a bit to make it 36 inches square.  You may recognize the pattern as Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion.  This is all I managed to make of that pattern, and I plan to be a little more adventurous with the quilting on this one.  Maybe I'll make some spirals!  Or diamonds!

By the way--the two little quilts that I've already basted are spray basted, and I hate it except that they did not move at all when I was stitching things.  Usually, I thread baste quilts, which I think is just as fast and easy and far better than pinning.  Is spray basting supposed to smell that awful?  I had to air out the quilts before I could work on them.  Plus, they were quite sticky.  I may have to wash them twice to be sure I get all the basting spray out before they're donated.  Any suggestions, maybe for a better brand?  I used June Tailor's Quilt Basting Spray.  Definitely not my favorite!

So there are my practice squares!  I did get both the book and the Craftsy class by Jacquie Gering, and have found the book a bit more helpful.  The class is good but repetitive, and really geared toward beginners.  I haven't tried her more advanced class, though. 

Hope you're all having a wonderful week!  As a last comment, look what popped into bloom on Easter Sunday:

Spring is finally coming!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Square baby quilt measurements:
To make the 36-inch square in a square tops, begin with a 9-1/2 square in the center, then cut the following pieces and join them around the square in order.  Squares can be oversized a bit and then trimmed to size after each round if you prefer. Be sure not to cut off your points!

Center-- 1 9-1/2 inch square
Round 1-- 1 10-1/4 inch square cut diagonally twice to make 4 triangles
Round 2-- 2 9-7/8 inch squares, each cut once diagonally to make 2 triangles, for a total of 4
Round 3-- 1 19-1/4 inch square cut diagonally twice
Round 4-- 2 18-7/8 inch squares, each cut once diagonally

Friday, March 30, 2018

The stitching of the greens

(For anyone interested, the monthly scraps giveaway is at the end of this post!)

Wow, March is pretty much over!  How did that happen?  No idea, but since we're at the end of the month, it's time to show off some of my RSC progress for March.  This time around it was light and bright greens, which was certainly appreciated because I am so ready for some greenery in the form of spring flowers and actual leaves on the trees.  There are a few buds, but no leaves just yet.  Just look at the backgrounds of my pictures!

One of my RSC projects for this year is the patchwork scrap stars.  Here are this month's green ones:

As you can see, I made one that's the lighter green and one that's brighter, with a purple star and an aqua star.  Usually these are made with white stars, but I thought that would be too boring for me.  I like how these are turning out.  Here's the lot of them so far:

Aren't those festive?  Imagine how they're going to look once we add in some warmer colors!

Another one of my projects is making these scrappy 9-patches to use up some of my treasure trove of 2-inch squares:

These are so easy to make and go so fast.  I made 8 of them this month, which gives me 45 all together:

I think these look great together, and I really am glad that I made them all with white centers.  Once we get through the year, I'm going to make these into some donation quilts, probably using Bonnie Hunter's free pattern for dancing 9-patches.  I'm hoping to have enough for two quilts, so I'll need a bunch more.  Good thing there's a bunch of colors left!

So, those and my Clay's Choice stars are the blocks that I managed to make from what I pulled out of the scrap bin this month.  I also dug deep and cut up all the green pieces for my version of Bonnie Hunter's En Provence quilt:

Most of those are somewhat darker than the other scraps, more medium greens than lighter ones, but I did manage to pull most of them from the "light green" bin.  And now they'll be used in a nice, happy quilt, so it won't matter what we call them.

So now that the greens are done for this month, as I promised at the beginning of the year, I am giving away what remains in the light green bin at no charge at all to one lucky winner:

Since I used up a lot of the greens, and because there are some small pieces here, I'm also including some 2-1/2 inch strips that are kinda green, along with an unopened spool of white Craftsy thread and the usual handfuls of 2-inch and 1-1/2 inch squares.  I don't know anything about the thread, but they sent it to me with another thread order, as a sample, I guess.  I almost never use white thread, and I have plenty, so it will go to whoever takes these remaining scraps off my hands.

This giveaway is now closed!  Thanks all!

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post!  Really, that's all! Since this is a holiday weekend for many people, I will use the random number generator thingy sometime on Tuesday morning, April 3. Of course, if you want to leave a comment without entering the giveaway, you absolutely can.  Just let me know to leave you out! And if you are no-reply, please remember to leave a way to reach you.  If I can't reach you, you can't win!

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend. We will be celebrating Easter, and many of our friends will be having Passover Seders.  I certainly wish you a blessed time if you're celebrating either one, and if you're not, have a lovely weekend as well!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and soscrappy for RSC18.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Block parts everywhere

Hi all! If any of you are familiar with Sandra's blog, mmm quilts!, you may have heard of Dreami moments (Sandra explains it really well HERE.) Dreami stands for "drop everything and make it," which pretty much describes the end of my quilt-making process.  I usually work on the quilt a bit at a time until I just have to make that final push to finish it.  I've been having on of those moments this week, though there is probably zero chance that I'll actually finish this quilt right now.

For the last few days I've felt like working on Bonnie Hunter's En Provence quilt, which I started a long time ago. I finished cutting all the green pieces for the quilt and was just seized with a major desire to make some blocks. Cutting green pieces doesn't seem like much progress! So I cut some more yellow pieces and made a couple of the blocks:

Okay, I know that the purple 4-patches are wrong. Somewhere between the design wall and the machine they got turned around. I don't know how that happened.  But it's one block made for the quilt, so that's a good thing!  Progress!  (For those of you who have made this quilt, I switched the greens and yellows so that I would end up with yellow stars instead of green ones.)

I was so happy to have a couple of blocks done that I cut the rest of the yellow parts and started making the units that use those, and then it was time to use the pink triangle squares to make some sashing.  Turns out I hadn't squared those up yet, so I spent a bunch of time sliver trimming.  After I did a few dozen of those, I made another block, then trimmed some more, then made another block. You get the picture.

There are a *lot* of parts to this quilt, so there are currently block parts everywhere, like a quilt exploded or something.  It's messy, but fun.  And I'm making progress a little at a time, so I can put up with a little mess.  For a little while, anyway! 

Hope everyone is having a good week and making lots of progress.  If you have a few minutes, head over to Preeti's blog to check out the fundraising and giveaways that she is having.  Your heart will be warmed! And while you're there, I'm pretty sure there will be some elves that come along to clean up that sewing mess. I hope so, anyway!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Mountains, baby!

Well, that was an exciting week, wasn't it?  We had a big spring snow storm and virtually no work got done by anyone all week, except by the snow plow drivers and the guys with chain saws who spent quite a bit of time cutting up the massive tree that fell down across my neighbor's driveway.  We lost a few branches, but nothing that required a chain saw, thank goodness.

We all know that a snow day is a free day, right?  So instead of working on real things that I need to get done for my real life, I used the whole day to finish a baby quilt for my friend's first grandson. His parents chose mountains, along with navy, gray, and aqua for him, which was quite the challenge.  I'm afraid there is no aqua in this quilt, but I think I got the style and tone right. Here's how it finally worked out:

How better to photograph a mountains quilt than against the snow? Of course the day after the storm it was bright and perfect outside when I wanted to take pictures, so I had to wait until later in the evening to get photos that weren't totally bleached out.All that snow was pretty blinding!

Except for the center panel with the mountains, this is nothing like I started with. It was lovely to have time to work on it and try things, rip them out, and try something else until I felt like I got it right.  I ended up deciding that piecing of any kind would distract from the mountains, so I just used graduated strips of color, with grays on the bottom and blues on top.

This quilt turned out to be just about 40 by 48, almost exactly where I wanted it to be.  I think that will be a nice size for a tiny boy and still be good when he's a little bigger.  I quilted it with organic lines that were not straight but not curved, either.  These are easy enough in theory, but it's hard to get them to look consistently graceful.  It was a nice couple of hours while I listened to the plows and the wind.

For the backing I used a pretty blue called Prism by P and B Textiles.  It made a nice complement to the colors on the front.  The binding is Kona Celestial.  I was going to use navy but it looked pretty harsh.  This one is just a little bit softer which made it perfect for this project.  And because I like things all blendy, I used a perfectly matching blue thread in the bobbin and 8 different colors of thread in the top. To match the different colors, you know?

When you give a baby quilt, do you wash it first?  I washed this one, then I ironed it so that it will look "new" when little Otto's parents take it out of the box.  Is that weird? Whether it is or not, this little quilt is on its way to its new owner, who is still pretty new himself.  I'm so happy to have this done, and so happy for my friend, because being a grandma is pretty much the best thing ever.  I know this little guy will bring them all so much happiness.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  Our snow is pretty well melted (since it was 50 degrees today) and I have some fun plans for the weekend.  It's my daughter's birthday, so we'll get to see her, and I'm hopeful that there will be some celebrating.  I can't have cake any more (gluten, bah!) but you know what *is* gluten free?  Most wine.  True fact!  I'll test some for you just to be sure!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and crazymomquilts.