Tuesday, November 28, 2017

String practice

Hi everyone!  Have you used up all of your turkey yet?  I finally froze the rest of it.  How we managed to have so much left over is beyond me, because we've been eating it for days.  At least the potatoes are all gone.  The pie went first, of course.  Who can resist pie?

We had relatives stay with us for six days over the holiday, and they totally wore me out.  I loved having them here, but I didn't have ten minutes to myself for the whole week!  For an introvert like me, that's a lot to handle.  Fortunately, I finally got to spend some time by myself in the sewing room, and I started in on working on the orphans and experiments quilt again.  I rearranged many things, so here's the current layout:

I wanted to make this quilt more rectangular, but I think this fails because it will be too long and skinny.  Right now this is about 45 inches wide, which I think means it will need some more rearranging.

I moved the biggest block to the center row and finished off that row, mainly because it's the tallest:

It's a little messy, but I think I like it.  If you look carefully, you can also see that I raided the leftover parts and pieces bin to fill in some of the odd spaces.  I didn't realize those chevrons would look so much like hearts, but they work there well enough, and I like the big reddish flying goose, too.  This row is 16 inches tall, which is tall, but I didn't want to take the big block apart.

I also used some really light strings to make corners to set the pink Bridal Bouquet block on point:

I cut these corners out of paper and then stitched the strings right on them, then trimmed and stitched them to the corners of the block.  It turned out great! 

See why this block was a failed experiment?

So I'll be back to rearranging this later this week and I'm really looking forward to getting this pieced together.  I'm not sure yet what to do between the rows or what to do for borders, so if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.  I have tons of strings, so I might just piece a bunch of them together and use those as sashing. What if I used the light strings for sashing?   That might be great!

Well, lots of decisions to be made!  Should be a fun distraction from all the things I still need to do in my non-sewing life.  Lots of deadlines still to be met!  Before I go, though, I have one word of warning for you-- don't buy these:

They are waaay too easy to eat and disappear super fast.  Ask me how I know!  (And tell me where I can get some more!)

Have a great week and I'll see you back here Friday for a joyful, happy finish. (Of a different quilt, not this one!)

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and Oh Scrap!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Going to the chapel

Hi all, and happy Friday!  I hope you've had a good week.  Mine was seriously busy, but I did get a lot done.  I have several non-sewing projects going on, all of which are really important, and all of which are due at the same time.  My brain is working over time.  And of course my computer updated right in the middle of everything, too.  I really dislike when that happens, don't you?

I did finish up my little free-pieced chapel quilt, though!  Here's one of the few good pictures I managed to get:

I love this!  And you know what?  It really looks like Joan of Arc chapel!  It's kind of a blurred or softened version of the chapel, though.  I think quilting will add some really necessary details, like the fretwork on the upper window and the panels on the doors, not to mention the separations between the stones.

I had a lot of fun making this little chapel quilt.  It was all free-pieced with no pattern using the techniques in Julie's book Build A Barn, No Pattern Construction.  The book describes barns, but the techniques can be translated to any building.  When choosing a building, though, I recommend that you choose one you don't have a deep personal or emotional connection with.  The only thing that was hard about this piece was the feelings I had about the real chapel, which made me scared to mess up the quilt.  Yeah, feelings are complicated and often get in the way of things.

I learned a lot from making this, and I will definitely make another one.  I'd like to make a seasonal sampler with four different churches or chapels in the different seasons.  I've already identified two possibilities--that I have no emotional connection to!--and am looking for a couple others. These are semi-historic churches with clean lines and interesting details, and I think they'll look good together.

Morning sun bleaches everything!

A few things I learned:
      --Free piecing takes more fabric than you think.  Have a lot on hand.  I ended up piecing the sky more than I wanted to because I ran out of big pieces.
     --Cut with abandon.  If you need to cut from the center, cut from the center.  If you're making something, you're not wasting the fabric.
     --Cut larger and don't trim until you're absolutely sure that you have things stitched the way you want them.
    --Always keep a straight stitching edge.  The unstitched part can be pieced and ragged, but if you're stitching a seam, you'll need to keep it straight.  This will make life easier. 
     --Make use of your seam ripper.
     --Patience is key.  Take as much time as you need to think it out and strategize.
     --Finally, realize that you are making an interpretation, not a copy.  You don't have to include every single detail. There are ways to make copies, of course, but if that's what you're going for this is probably not the technique you want.

So there we go, that's the chapel!  I can't wait to quilt it up.  Sadly, I have to finish these other things first.  Don't they know I have sewing to do? 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Our relatives are arriving Sunday.  I better buy some turkey!

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Orphans, leftovers, and failed experiments

Hi everyone!  How is your week going?  Do you realize that we are in the middle of November and Thanksgiving is *next week*?  Yikes!  I'd better get to planning for that, especially since we're having relatives coming from Wisconsin for the holiday.  Hmmm, what do you think we should have for dinner?

I've been really busy and really, really stressed, and I haven't had a ton of time for stitching, so of course I started a new project this week.  No, I'm not kidding!  To be fair, the two that I've been working on are just about done and this one is another in the same vein-- no pattern, just kind of winging it.  Here's what I've started:

Well, that looks a mess, doesn't it?  These are most of my orphan blocks, leftovers, blocks I liked enough but don't want to make a whole quilt from, failed blocks, and various other bits of finished projects.  I see a rejected block  from the Constellations quilt, a leftover block from the Celtic Solstice quilt, a leftover elephant from the Mutant Elephants quilt, and some minis from the Classic Stitches quilt along.  So, yep, these have been in a box for a while!  I did save out some of the smallest ones for coasters and what not, but why not put all of these together into a quilt?

These are all different sizes, so how to make them all fit together?  Well, like this:

I plan to add strings to bring the blocks all to the same height and make them into rows.  The larger blocks, of course, won't need strings but will be surrounded by them as sashing. Then I can join the rows into a quilt top without weird pieces hanging off.  This isn't an original idea-- I think I got it from Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than housework, and was also inspired by Julie at Me and My Quilts, Exploring the Possibilities. Looking at the first few blocks, I'm liking it, but I wonder if I shouldn't have put a dark frame around each block so they don't get lost.  Maybe a white frame? What do you think?

Gosh, I hope I have enough!

Anyway, this is another quilt with no rules!  What is happening to me?  Is the stress frying my brain?  I don't know, but I'm having fun!  And that is the point, after all!


This afternoon, just before I pushed the button to publish this post, I learned of the death of sewing pioneer Nancy Zieman.  I am so deeply saddened by this.  It's like losing a friend.  I know that anything I say can never approach the well-deserved tributes from her friends and other sewing greats, but I do have a story:

It happens that Nancy's Notions was founded in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and was not so far from our home there.  Every May, they had a huge Warehouse Sale, and some friends and I would go every year.  It was so much fun!  They would literally open the warehouse and sell everything, and you could get screaming deals on fabric like you wouldn't believe.  It was very festive, almost like a party or at least a church picnic. (Now it's more of an "industry event," which is fine, but nothing like it was back then.) We would show up at the opening, spend way too much, stand in a dozen lines, and have lunch at Larson's Family Restaurant, which is gone now, too.  Through the whole sale you could find Nancy on the sales floor, taking pictures of the awesome projects displayed, teaching some demonstrations, and making sure the whole thing ran like clockwork.  We got to meet her several times, the last time at our 15th sale, after she had sold the company. She was very gracious to the many, many people who stopped her, and would gladly point out where the restrooms were (for what I'm sure was the 300th time every day) and answer all questions. In between sales we would sometimes get together to watch her shows on tape, along with some nice wine, of course.  We learned so much! Nancy, may you rest in peace.  Thank you for the lessons, the inspiration, and most of all for the fun and the memories.  We will miss you terribly.


And now I'm tearing up! There's a fun finish coming up on Friday, I promise. Hope you get some happier stitches in this week!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and Oh Scrap!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Garden blocks

Hi everyone!  That is an imaginative post title, isn't it?  Sorry, just not feeling witty today, but I certainly am feeling chilly!  It's getting pretty cold, and we may have our first freeze this week, which can come and kill off the nasty bugs and allergens any time it wants to.  Sometimes I miss the real cold, which does a great job of getting rid of the things that make me sneeze.

This week I've been working on the Steps to the Garden blocks again.  I started these at the beginning of this year as a project for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, but somewhere I fell out of the habit of making them.  When Preeti was over this weekend I pulled them out to show her and looking at all of them again made me excited about this quilt again.  I was going to hold off and finish them between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I should strike while the iron is hot, right? Here are the newest blocks:

Don't they look good on those leaves?  I took this picture this morning because it rained and rained yesterday, so it's a little washed out in the morning sunshine.  I'll take the sun, though, even at the expense of over-exposed pictures. For some reason, these blocks are easiest to make in pairs, so I managed to make four of them.  I've picked out some pieces for the next few blocks, too.  Here are the rest of what I have so far:

Yep, the new ones will fit right in!  I'm planning 30 blocks for a nice-sized throw quilt, so I'm just over halfway there.  I'm hoping to get this done this year yet, too, so keep your fingers crossed.

And that's what's up in my sewing room right now.  I've really been feeling like I'm failing at it because of everything else that's going on in my life right now, but making these somehow made me more energized.  I've got to remember that!

Finally, just because this is a short post, here are a couple of fall pictures from our property:

Hope all is well out there in blog land!  Stay warm-- winter is coming!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and soscrappy for RSC17.

Friday, November 3, 2017


Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Constellations quilt!  We are heading to the finish quickly-- this is our last section! This month's color is "dark," and I've chosen black for this block, which seems like it would be difficult to incorporate into the quilt, but this one fits in just fine.  It turns out that there are actual black stars, too, but they might be only theoretical.  I don't really understand the ins and outs of quantum gravity. In any case, this is our block for the month:

This is a variation of Rolling Star, a Ladies' Art Company block from at least 1895.  In fact, it's number 4 in the first Ladies' Art Company catalogue.  This block is a variation because the original block was really created to be made by hand, with diamonds and set-in seams and just a bunch of really complicated piecing.  I've redrafted it to use simpler piecing methods while preserving the original effect of the block.  I think it works okay, and it certainly looks good in our quilt.

For your fabric this month, any black or brown or similar dark color will work, but I think it looks best if there is some color in the fabric as well.  Choose an accent color that complements the colors in the main fabric.  I used an apple green, but any color would work.

Let's make a block!


From the background, cut:

1 2-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch strip
4 2-1/2 by 4-1/2 rectangles
8 2-1/2 inch squares

From the black, cut:

1 4-1/2 inch square
8 2-1/2 inch squares

From the accent color, cut:

1 2-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch strip
4 4-1/2 inch squares

To finish this quilt section, cut from the background:

1 2-1/2 by 12-1/2 inch strip
1 2-1/2 by 14-1/2 inch strip


First, take the 10-1/2 inch strips of the background and the accent color and stitch them together lengthwise.  Press to the background, then cut into 4 2-1/2 inch units. (There will be a little extra fabric in the strip in case you need to straighten an edge.)  These units should measure 2-1/2 by 4-1/2 inches.

Next, add the 2-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch strips of background to the left side of the 4 units you just made.  Press to the new background strip.  These should now measure 4-1/2 inches square.

Next, take all of the 2-1/2 inch squares of the background and the black fabric and draw lines from corner to corner on the back of each one.  We'll be using these and the 4-1/2 inch accent squares to make simplified square in a square units.

Add the 2-1/2 inch squares of the background and the black square to the corners of the accent squares by stitching directly on the drawn lines.  Trim the corner and press the remaining triangle up.  Add 2 background and 2 black squares to each accent square to make square in a square units with the background triangles on one side of the square and the black triangles on the other.  Make 4.

That's it for the units!  Really! On to assembly. . .


Arrange the units as shown, including the 4-1/2 inch black square for the center.  Join the units into rows and the rows into a finished block.  Match the points on the square in a square units to the seam between the green and the background so that the star seems to be rolling.  Give it a good press, stand back, and admire! Our last block is finished!

Completing this quilt section:

To finish off this section of the quilt, add a 2-1/2 by 12-1/2 inch background strip to the bottom of the block.  Press well, then add the 2-1/2 by 14-1/2 inch strip to the right side of the block.  Press well.

Join this section to the right side of the orange section. That's the last row!

To add this section to the rest of the quilt, first measure the larger quilt and the last row.  If the measurements are not the same, adjust the last row at the seam between the orange and black sections.

Fold both the larger quilt and the last row in half and mark the centers with a pin or chalk.  Fold each of the side edges to the center and mark the folds formed the same way.  Since the seams will not match, this is important to make the row fit the larger quilt properly.

Mark at the arrows with pins, then match the pins to stitch the rows together.

Join the row to the larger quilt, matching all of your markings and the seams at the outer edges of the quilt.  Clip your threads, press well, and admire!

I have got to get a better camera. . .

And just like that, our quilt center is finished!  Notice that the outer edges form a small border, so at this point you could just quilt it up as-is and have a lovely galaxy quilt to keep you warm very quickly.  If you want it to be bigger, you could add in any borders you like.  Next month I'll give directions for the borders I've made for this quilt.  As a sneak peek, here's my concept sketch for the border:

Hope your quilts are coming together well!  See you December 5 for the big finale!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and soscrappy for RSC17!