Saturday, December 31, 2016

Constellations, a new BOM!

Hi everyone!  It's the last day of 2016! We are at my parent's house for a couple of days after spending time with the grandson, then it's home to start the new year.  Lots of traveling, but we get to see everyone.  Way better than the years we would pile all the kids in the car and head for Grandma's, too.  Less fighting in the back seat.

Since it's closing in on the new year, it's time to start on 2017's projects.  For next year, I have designed another block of the month quilt that will be my major project for the Rainbow Scrap challenge over at soscrappy.  Why not?  I like doing them and the quilts have turned out great so far.

As we know, I don't draw so well (and I don't have the expensive software), but you get the idea.  I've designed this one a little bit differently, so that each month one of the 10 sections will be completed, and then joined to the other sections. For example, in month 3, section 3 is completed and joined to sections 1 and 2. When 4 and 5 are finished, they're joined to 1, 2, and 3 and half the quilt is finished. This way, when you've made the last section, your quilt is complete except for the borders!  The sections include the blocks and the sashing, all of it designed to fit together just right.

Not to worry, I did the math!

The working title for this quilt is Constellations.  Why? Because all the blocks are stars!  The quilt includes both 12 inch and 6 inch blocks, all of them somewhat uncommon--no Sawtooth Stars or Ohio Stars-- but none of them very complicated.  I promise, none of them is as difficult as the Intricate Stitches blocks!  You know I love vintage blocks, though, so these stars are also from our quilting heritage.  And there's only one block to make each month!

For my quilt, I am using some of the many, many fat quarters I have accumulated.  In keeping with my resolution to take more chances with color, I've chosen a lovely blue as a background:

UPDATE:  I had originally chosen Kona Nightfall (a beautiful color) as my background, but then I found the above blue in yet another box.  The pattern that it was with was from 2008, so I think it's safe to say I'll never make that quilt.  There was exactly 4 yards if this, so I've decided to use it instead.  The selvage says that it is Krystal by Michael Miller, but has no date or color number.  It's actually darker than it appears in the picture and looks like the night sky.

So that's the plan!  If it sounds at all interesting, come on along and try a block or two.  I'll be putting up a page for Constellations later this week, and the first tutorial will be posted sometime the first week in January.  After that, new tutorials will be posted on the first Tuesday of the month.

 Hope everyone is having a great weekend and that you have a wonderful new year celebration!  Bring on 2017!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC17 (!!), Linky Tuesday, and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Plotting and planning

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are now getting ready for the New Year celebration this weekend.  We are currently enjoying the wide open skies, clear crisp air, and great roads of the Midwest, not to mention happy cuddle time with our grandson! I'm taking this downtime to make some plans and goals for next year.  I usually resist this kind of thing, because it makes a fun hobby feel like work, but Yvonne at Quilting JETgirl makes it sound so helpful, so here goes!

I've found from my work that both specific and general goals are helpful, so let's start with the general goals:

     1. If you've been reading this year, you know that we have had a lot of upheaval for the last year and a half, and we have finally settled into a home with a great sewing room.  I've been unpacking 20 years of quilty stuff and fabric that just got thrown into a box when we moved. My goal is to get the sewing room settled and to continue cleaning out and eliminating a lot of sewing clutter.  Less is more for me.

     2. Expand my use of color, both through studying color theory and playing with different color combinations in fabrics.  I'm really happy with the Autumn Jewels quilt from this year, which was a bit of a leap of faith for me, using a curry color for the background.  I want to take more chances like this with color.

A very helpful book!
      3. Related to that, I want to take more chances with fabrics.  Here's a confession for you--prints make me nervous.  I like clean, clear colors that are more blender than print, and there is a lot of popular fabric that I really dislike.  Not naming names, but I just don't get it.  I do feel that I need to use some more prints and find some styles that don't make me quite so anxious.

     4. Better publicize the blog, especially my upcoming block of the month, Constellations.  I'm really torn about this one.  I would like to reach more people, but this really is a hobby for me.  I work full time and the things required to really expand a blog take a lot of time that I don't really have.  Anyone with suggestions, I'm happy to hear them!

Those are pretty big general goals--especially the cleaning up the sewing room one!--so let's look at some specific goals:

    1. Constellations, the new BOM I have planned for 2017.  Details coming this Saturday!  But if you're interested, the tabs at the top of the page still have all the tutorials and instructions for the last two BOMs, Classic Stitches and Intricate Stitches.  

    2. Finish the quilts I started in 2016, beginning with the Intricate Stitches quilt.  (Which is almost done.)

    3. Make a temperature quilt for 2017!  I like the idea from this post from Live a Colorful Life, found HERE.

    4. Make an "About me" page for the blog.  Really hard for me!

    5. Make a Dresden Plate quilt, probably for RSC17.  Or maybe as a medallion for a medallion quilt.  Or place mats! ( Maybe I should change this one to "decide what Dresden Plate quilt to make.")

     6. Find more ways to use my stash of fat quarters, including the lovely "curated" packs I have.  I have way too many! 

So those are my goals!  What are yours?  Suggestions, corrections, and advice all welcome!

Hope you are enjoying the end of the year with family and friends.  Here's to a great 2017 for all of us!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and the 2017 Planning Party.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The end of a great year

Hi everyone!  Well, we are at the end of another year!  Hard to believe that the end of this week is Christmas and then really soon after that it will be 2017.  2017!  How did that happen? With the end of the year, it's time to look back at some of the highlights and things I've learned this year.  And at the quilts, too, of course!

2016 was a year of big changes for our family, mostly for the best. We added to our family, finally bought a new house, and are still settling in to a new neighborhood.  We like our property and our neighbors and are generally very happy here.  And let's not forget to mention the more than $500 raised in the Gratitude Sale! So here are some of the highlights and some of my favorites from 2016.

I always have trouble picking a "favorite" quilt, or a "best" one, but this year there is no contest!  There are two sewing projects that are not only high points for 2016 for me, but mark major life events as well.  The first is the Friends in the Forest quilt:

Friends in the Forest

I still love it! This is the quilt that I made for our first grandson, who was born this year.  He is, of course, the world's most amazing baby, and a complete joy.  This may have been his first quilt, but I'm pretty sure it won't be his last!

The second high point was much less quilty, but still involved some sewing:

This is a little bit of sentimental stitching that I made for our daughter, who got married earlier this year.  So much happiness!  I made this small purse and a bouquet wrap from her grandmother's wedding gown.  It was such a wonderful day, and the newlyweds still seem to be over the moon.

So those were the two highest points of the year, but there were a lot of other things to be happy about!  There's one quilt that I learned so very much from--the Intricate Stitches block of the month.  Picking a favorite block is like picking a favorite child, but I do love the center medallion:

Intricate Stitches Center Medallion

If that's not intricate, I don't know what is!  I'm still finishing this top, but this is already one of my favorite quilts ever.  I'm planning to quilt it up myself because I like it so much and want to spend some more time with it.  Plus I'm planning another intricate quilt! (Just for me, though, not as a quilt along.)  I love this quilt, and I liked writing the tutorials and seeing your pictures, too.  I hope you have had as much fun making this quilt as I have.  And there's a new BOM coming for 2017--not very intricate but very fun!  (More details soon!)

I also had a lot of fun making this quilt:

A Bear Paws Through the Woods

This is the Modern Bear Paw pattern from Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts.  This was so fun to make and I love the multicolored blocks.  This one is becoming part of my Grandma stash and I can't wait until my tiny grandson gets *his* paws on it!

There are so many other quilts I loved and learned from!  I loved participating in the blog hops and exchanges and such, and I've loved getting to know all of you.

Autumn Jewels

Thanks so much to everyone for coming along, leaving comments, making some Intricate Stitches blocks, and just generally being a supportive and fun community.  I'm seriously grateful for all of you and I hope you've had as much fun learning and sharing with me as I have with you.


With that, we are putting 2016 in the archives!  The hubs and I are planning on spending the next couple of weeks visiting family, eating in restaurants, watching movies, and generally relaxing.  Plus, we're going to spend some time with this tiny human:

Isn't that a great picture?  I hope that all of you have lovely holidays that make you feel warm and fuzzy no matter which ones you celebrate, and a lot of fun and rest with family and friends!  Merry Christmas and see you next year!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, crazymomquilts, and the Best of 2016 linky party at Meadow Mist Designs.

Meadow Mist Designs

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bouncing along

Hi everyone!  How are you today?  We are barrelling towards Christmas and the start of 2017 (!!!), aren't we?  Have you finished shopping yet?  I had a good time on Amazon a couple of days ago, so I'm almost finished.  Yay me!

Of course, there are always a couple of things that just have to be made by hand.  Since this is my grandson's first Christmas, I made him these:

Pentagon patchwork balls!  Is there a little boy who wouldn't love throwing these around the house?  I used a tutorial from While She Naps, found HERE.  It's free, and there's even a free template for the pentagons. I used the pentagons at 100% for the smaller patchwork ball, and I printed them at 140% for the larger ball.  (150% wouldn't fit on the paper on my printer.)

I had a hard time with these little balls, but not because they're difficult.  Look what happened that really messed up my week:

Yikes!  We have a garage door with no garage door opener, and I was putting the door down when I pinched three of my fingers between the panels.  I said some very bad words and cried, too.  My finger isn't broken, but I dislocated it and the knuckle is still pretty swollen.  This made it impossible to put these little balls together using English paper piecing by hand, like they're supposed to be made.  Instead I used a really narrow zigzag and just butted the pieces up and stitched them together on the machine.  Never underestimate the determination of a grandma! It worked okay, but now I wish I had used red thread or something to give it a little zip.

One thing I learned with these is that it takes a *lot* of filling to make them really firm. I used a whole bag of fiberfill to stuff these two play balls, and I need to go get another bag because they're not really firm enough. You can see that they're just a little bit baggy.  I couldn't hand-stitch the last seam yet, but I really hope to have healed up enough to do that this coming week, so that's still open for me to add more fiberfill.  I also put a rattle in each of them:

For the record, the larger one makes a much more satisfying rattle.  I got these from While She Naps as well, and they work great.

Since I can't really cut anything right now, I also worked on these, which I had cut before I had the run-in with the door:

Purple 4-patches! Yeah, I might have to make Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt so that I can use all of these up.  I'm using the magenta for that project as well, but I haven't cut any of those pieces yet.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.  I think we're going to go buy a garage door opener!  And then maybe I'll give the hubs some instructions on wrapping presents.  It should be amusing!

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

From fail to finish

Hi everyone!  Are you ready for the new and improved polar vortex?  I hear that it's coming and there is no escape.  The temps were dropping Thursday afternoon, and several people I saw were already shivery.  It would probably help if they wore coats, but hey, that's not my business.  I finally did pull out my winter coat, too.  I didn't think it had been cold enough for a "real" coat, but that wind will just go right through you.

This week I have an actual finish, one that I've salvaged from a failed attempt a few weeks ago:

This is the little quilt that I had almost given up on because of a wrinkle on the backing.  When I posted about it earlier, the general consensus in the comments was along the lines of "suck it up."  So I did, and you all were right.  I was upset over nothing, really.

One commenter, who is no-reply so I couldn't thank her personally, suggested that I make the circles gradually larger in order to finish it up and avoid more wrinkles on the back.  Genius!  That's exactly what I did.  I free-motioned the remaining circles instead of using the walking foot, and they came out a little wobbly but good enough. 

The border is quilted with a big meander that simply circles around some of the flowers in the print.  It adds just enough texture to finish it off nicely.  I also had just enough (literally one inch left over) of the blue binding in the pre-made scrap binding basket.  Sometimes those come in handy!  The binding was done on the machine in no time at all.

I was worried about this being too stiff, but after I took the photos, I tossed this in the wash and it softened up really well.  And the wrinkle that I was so worried about can barely be seen on the back!

Another little quilt in the archives!  Perhaps "suck it up" will be my motto for next year.

Hope everyone has a great weekend as we race towards Christmas.  We are going shopping for a new dining room table.  Somehow ours isn't big enough for the whole family any more.  Odd how that happens, isn't it?

Finally, an update on the Gratitude Sale--donations have raised nearly $400 for the three charities I listed!  Thanks to everyone!  There are still many nice things left, and Priority Mail means you could still have something for yourself before Christmas, so check out the tabs at the top of the page.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Feeling centered

Hi all!  How are things going for you?  We are in a tizzy here, as the semester is wrapping up with exams and papers and all, plus the carpenter has promised to show up this week to finish in the living room.  Cross your fingers that he actually shows, because I am tired of living with construction.  Plus it has been raining like crazy! Too many years of 20 degrees in December has me a little freaked out by 50 degrees in December.  And the allergies hate this!

When I get tired of reading papers, I've been working on the center for my medallion quilt.  After about a half dozen different tries, here's where I am now:

I don't know if this looks boring to you, but it looked the best to me.  I tried several traditional things, like flying geese and diamonds, and none of them looked good to me.  I really wanted the central block to stand out, and everything else detracted from it.

This border is a 1 inch green frame, a 1 inch white border, a colorful rectangle border that finishes at 1 inch (!!!) and another 1 inch white border so that the rectangles seem to float in the white space.  And how happy am I that that rectangle border actually did finish at at 1 inch? 

Happy dancing!  And just for grins, the 4-patches in the corners also finish at 1 inch:

The next "round" is the pieced blocks.  My current plan is to frame those blocks as well, but I'm not sure what color to use.

I'd hate to use gray, but that's what I keep coming back to.  If I had more of the green, I might use that, but I don't have enough of any one color to use it for all the blocks.  I do have some solid gray, though.  I guess I'll have to try out some things and see.  The seam ripper is getting a huge workout on this quilt.

Finally, I want to recommend this book:

It's a little bit older book (2012), but I did find it really helpful in testing out different border options and thinking about which borders would best enhance the quilt.  Bet you could find this one at the library, too!

Hope you're all having a great week!  Off to read more papers, grade more exams, and ponder the border options!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Oh, Scrap!, and soscrappy for RSC16.

Friday, December 2, 2016

More testing

Hi all!  Did you have a good week?  The weather here was awful and so I spent a little more time in the sewing room, still cleaning things out.  Still feels like a mess in there, but at least I'm making some progress.  I finally packed up some things that are getting donated and emptied almost the last of the boxes.  I never want to move again.

I did make some progress on the medallion quilt, which I said I would have finished by this coming Tuesday but I probably won't.  Oh well.  Here's what I'm playing with for the first border around the medallion:

Just a mock-up!  White borders to be added in construction phase.

Somehow it always looks better in my head than in fabric.  I'm not sure I like this.  I like the unbalanced part, but I'm not sure the geese are going to work out.  They might be pulling attention away from the center block.  Maybe smaller ones would be better? What do you think?  I think I have to let it marinate for a little longer.

This quilt is all made out of hand dyes, and so is the Grandma's quilt.  I cut all the border pieces for that quilt, but I was left with smaller pieces that won't work in either one.  What's a frugal quilter to do but start making some crumb blocks?

I love it!  These are 6-1/2 inch blocks.  Don't know what they'll become, but those little pieces make a pretty block, don't they?

In a few spare moments I also made up these neutral 4-patches:

They're prettier than I thought they would be.  I don't know what they're for, either, because I am definitely not making Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, even though I just painted the guest room green and hung a purple and green quilt on the wall in there.  Frankly, I don't think a new one would work out, so it's definitely not on the agenda.

One last thing to show you.  This is how I'm storing my fat quarters now:

Wow, I can't believe how well this works.  I saw this on Pinterest and didn't really know how well it would work, but I found this shoe holder at Target for less than $10, so what was the harm in trying?  The silly thing is great!  The fat quarters fit just great, and frees up some shelf space.  And if I ever use those fat quarters, maybe I could put some shoes in it.  Or maybe some notions, it works either way.

Everybody have a great weekend.  We are going to the movies, which is good, because I'm really tired of working on things for the house.  Plus--movie theater popcorn.  Yum!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or not Friday and soscrappy.