Friday, March 25, 2016

Catching up with Grandma

Hi all! Has everyone had enough basketball now?  It's all basketball all the time around here right now.  Thankfully my husband only makes me watch the really interesting finishes, and not all the games are exciting.  I do enjoy some of those dramatic finishes, though, so it works out.

Today I just have three more of the Grandma's blocks in different colors:

I made these to "catch up" after I realized that I need about 30 blocks to make a decent-sized quilt.  After this, I'll be making  two of the main colors and one of the accent colors each month.  Unless I hate any of the colors involved, then it's whatever I want.  I don't think I'll be making black blocks, for example.  And January's accent color was purple, so I skipped that and made a green-yellow block instead.  It was a pretty dismal day, so I couldn't get a good picture of the real color.  This is as close as I came:

Yeah, not good.  I promise it's a really pretty color, though.

Look how much these add to the blocks I've already made:

Now *that* looks more like a quilt I would make!  Much happier all around.  I've also really improved at making these.  It's all about the seam allowance, so that the points match at the corners. This is the first time I haven't had to rip anything to make it all match.  Feeling pretty proud of myself!

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.  I am going to do some sewing for the wedding, and it will involve cutting into my mother-in-law's 68 year old wedding dress.  Not that I'm nervous about it or anything. Just a family heirloom, that's all.  Nothing to be worried about.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

Linking up with soscrappy for RSC16.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Taming the tiny pieces

Hi everyone!  Well, the weatherman was wrong.  We got hardly any snow at all this weekend, which I'm quite thankful for, but we stayed in anyway and had a good time watching movies and basketball.  Lots and lots of basketball.  Okay, so the hubs watched the basketball and I did the sewing.  Good division of labor there.

Just a small update on my 1-1/2 inch squares project.  I tried a new method to get the 100-patch blocks to go a little faster.  They turn out cute, but they are somewhat tedious to make.  Here's the latest one, and the first one with this method:

Well, I do love yellow, and it looks pretty springy there in the mulch.  Some yellow flowers would be nice to go along with it, though.  Just saying.

Anyway, I've made a couple of these now using the interfacing method.  This involves fusing the individual squares to interfacing and then picking up the whole piece and stitching the seams in sequence.  This way you only handle the tiny pieces once, and it does make for less distortion in the seams.

Here's how I did it.  First, I cut a piece of freezer paper and drew out a grid of 100 1-1/2 inch squares.  I used the freezer paper because it's nearly impossible to draw on the interfacing, and who wants to draw it all out every time anyway?

I understand that there is interfacing that is pre-printed for just this purpose, but all I could find had 1 inch squares, which is too tiny even for me.  So I just got the lightest fusible interfacing I could find, which is barely more than tissue paper.

I ironed the freezer paper right onto my ironing board and then cut a piece of the fusible interfacing and pinned it glue-side-up over the freezer paper.

Trust me--pin the interfacing!  You don't want to knock it all on the floor just as you've gotten them all in place, do you?

After that, I just started placing the squares on the interfacing, aligning them with the grid:

The block itself builds pretty fast:

Once all the squares are in place, just fuse them down.  They don't have to be perfectly fused, you just want them not to fall off the piece.  At this point you can still peel off any pieces you don't like and replace them, too.

Then you just take the piece to the machine, fold over the first row onto the second, finger press, and stitch.  Keep doing this until all the rows are stitched.  I didn't get any pictures, but the piece will curl up a little as you go, since I didn't stop to press between seams.  I did press after I got all the seams in one direction finished.  Then I turned the piece and stitched all the rows in the other direction.  These were definitely bulkier, but I didn't have any problems stitching them.

Here's the finished back of the piece:

Eeep!  There's mulch on my block!  Plus you can see that I didn't trim it yet.

I liked using this method.  It went pretty fast and it was good to see what the finished block would look like before it was actually stitched.  The finished piece is definitely bulkier than without the interfacing, though.  The interfacing is very light, but it does build up in the seams.  For the next block I'm going to try cutting open the seams and pressing them open before I stitch the rows in the other direction.  I think that will help some, even though I really don't like pressing the seams open.

Okay, I'm off to do some actual work for my actual job!  Have a wonderful week!

Sharing at Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, and Oh Scrap!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friendship stars

Hi everyone!  Another Friday has come around and today looks like a great day.  I hear we're going to get up to a foot of snow later this weekend. Yikes! Winter apparently just realized that it forgot to do its' job this year.  

Today I have this little beauty to show off:

Friendship ribbon stars!  Okay, it's not so little.  The top is about 62 by 80. These blocks are ones that I traded with friends over the course of several months last year. I also traded blocks made from solids, so I have another quilt to make up later.

Yes, I joined two of the groups.  What can I say?  I had just moved and I was lonely.

This one was easy to make up since I already had all of the blocks.  The hard part was laying it out.  So many choices!  Finally got it set, though, and--miracle of miracles--everything fit!  It went together pretty quickly.

I'm really happy with how this swap turned out.  I was afraid that all of the fabrics would be ugly ones that people wanted to get rid of, but I worried for nothing.  One person even fussy cut her centers:

Isn't that darling?

This quilt is destined for donation to Happy Chemo through Sarah's Hands to Help challenge.  Doesn't it look like someone would like to take this to a chemo appointment? 

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  If it snows, I'm planning to sew some more! Who would have guessed?  If it doesn't snow, I guess I'll be stuck going to the grocery store or something, and who wants that?

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Finish it up Friday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lavender and grape jam

Hi everyone!  How is your day going?  As you read this, I am hugging up on little Otis, my new grandson.  He is even more adorable than I thought.  The pictures don't do him justice at all.  And it turns out that he's just the perfect size!  Just right for cuddling!

This week, before getting to snuggle Otis, I made a little more progress on the Grandma's blocks quilt.  Here are my purple blocks:

Aren't they pretty colors?  I do like the purples for this month.  In the car I was thinking about the quilt that I'm making from these and realized that I really want to have 30 blocks to make it a nice size.  I won't be using any sashing, so it needs more blocks.  So I guess I'll need to start making an extra block every month, which should give me 30 by the end of the year.

Here are the blocks I have so far:

A good start, wouldn't you say?  I think I'll be making one from the alternate color each month as well from here on out.  Goody--I like yellow.  Anyone who would like to make some of these can find the tutorial HERE.

Finally,  Bernie from Needle and Foot sent me this great pincushion!

Isn't it darling?  I think I'm going to use it for my flower pins.  Thanks so much Bernie!

Now I think I hear a baby who wants some cuddles from his abuela!  Enjoy the rest of the week!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social,  Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and  soscrappy for RSC16.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Joy comes in the morning

Hi everyone, and happy Friday!  I do love Fridays.  When our kids were small, it didn't really matter that it was Friday because the work was unending, you know?  But now I really, truly appreciate weekends.  It's one of those good things about getting old (ish).

This week I finished a little piece with free-pieced letters:

Joy!  I know that most people advocate trying your own name first, but my name is made up of stupid, pointy letters that just do not look good together.  Really!  Not that I didn't try it, but I do have to work on it to make it look better.  More on that later. . .

So I made "joy" for a couple of reasons, mainly because they seemed like easy letters (how do you get easier than "o"?), but also because it's a fun word.  You can't be unhappy when you make a little "joy" quilt.

To make this, I raided the giant jar o' strings:

I should do something about emptying that, huh?

Then I made the letters, which takes longer than you think. I was going to leave it just as a word and then combine it with some other words, but it looked so happy that I decided to finish it as a little quilt all its own.  I pulled out the strings again and just added them to the word panel, log cabin style.  I did this quilt-as-you-go style, which means that I layered the name panel with some backing and batting, then added the strings right on top of the batting, then pressed like it was a normal thing or something.

Of course, I had to stipple the name panel after that, and I really stink at stippling.  I know, I should practice more.  I do like how it makes the letters pop, though, so I should really do it more often.  The binding is leftovers from the Serendipity quilt.  I stripped off the gray side of the binding and just used the 1-3/4 inch yellow.  Its a single fold binding, but it worked great, and it used up that wonky scrap of binding.

This was my second foray into free piecing and I'm surprised about how much I enjoyed it. It does make a mess, though:

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  We are finally going to see our grandson!  I feel like I could fly there without a plane, I'm so excited!  Talk about joy!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finish it up Friday and Oh Scrap!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Intricate Stitches--Purple

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Intricate Stitches quilt!  This month's color is purple, with yellow accents.  I think we can handle that.  Have a look at this month's block:

This block is called Scotch Heather, and is number 1956 in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia.  I have in my notes that this block is a Needlecrafts block from the 1930s, but I can't confirm that because I have just now discovered (after years of using it) that my copy of that book is missing 16 pages!  It jumps from 240 right to 257, which is right where this block would be listed.

Oh, well! We'll make the block anyway. I'm not going to lie--this was a hard block for me to make. 

Updated, properly constructed block.

UPDATE: This block was a poor choice for a 12-inch block, and the first time I made it I had the sizes wrong.  This made the block somewhat different from the actual block as drawn.  I have gone back and corrected the sizes and the layout and remade the block properly.  Be sure to read the entire tutorial and pay close attention to the sizes and pieces.

For this block, you will need three colors.  I used a beautiful deep purple, a paler (but just as beautiful) bright medium green, and a pale yellow.  You could use two purples, or substitute the yellow for the pale green and use white instead of the yellow.  Play with your colors until you like them.

On to the cutting:

From the purple, cut:

     4 1-7/8 inch by 8 inch strips
     12 2-1/8 inch squares (for hsts)

From the green, cut:

     4 1-7/8 by 8 inch strips
     2 2-1/8 inch squares

From the yellow, cut:

     4 1-7/8  by 8 inch strips
     1 1-7/8 inch square
     12 2-1/8 inch squares
     4 1-7/8 by 1-3/4 inch pieces


This block is constructed by first making the center checkerboard and then surrounding it with the pieced sides.  To make the checkerboard, first construct three strip sets using the 1-7/8 by 8 inch strips:

Strip set 1 is green, purple, green.  Set 2 is purple, yellow, purple, and set 3 is yellow, purple, green.  Once you have the strip sets, cut 4 1-7/8 inch segments from each set.

Assemble the segments into 4 9-patches:

Notice that the green corner on strip set 3 is oriented differently, making 2 9 patches with the green square on the left and 2 with the square on the right.  Nine patches should measure 4-5/8 inches square.

Use the remaining strips to make a yellow, green, yellow strip set:

Cut 4 1-7/8 inch segments from this strip set.

Using 2 of the 9 patches (one of each direction) and one of the segments you just cut, make 2 units like this, paying attention to the direction of the green squares:

Take the remaining 2 segments and one of the 1-7/8 inch yellow squares, and join them together, then lay out the units you've made like this:

Stitch these units together and you have your checkerboard center!  This should measure 10-1/8 inches square.

The next step is to make the outer border.  Start by using 2 of the yellow squares and the 2 green squares to make 4 half-square triangles.  These should measure 1-3/4 inches and finish at 1-3/8 inches in the block.  Do the same with the remaining yellow and purple squares:

To make the side pieces, join 6 of the purple squares and one of the 1-3/4 by 1-7/8 inch squares as shown. The 1-7/8 inch side of the center pieces should be along the edge that will be attached to the checkerboard piece.

Make 4 of these pieces.  Set 2 aside and join 2 to the sides of the checkerboard. Important: only the center seam will match exactly.  The others will be off by just enough to make you crazy, but the piece as a whole will fit.

Take the two remaining side pieces and stitch the green/yellow hsts to the ends as shown.  Be sure that the green triangles point outward:

Stitch these lengths to the remaining 2 sides of the checkerboard, press better than I did, and admire your work!

What do you think--good save or epic fail?  My block turned out to be 12-3/8 inches square, which is 1/8 inch smaller than ideal.  When I put the entire quilt together, this was not a problem.

Hope your block turns out well!  Come back on April  5 for what I promise will be a great block!  I promise to pay more attention to the math for that one, really!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and soscrappy for RSC16.