Saturday, June 30, 2018

Time for a cool change

(The monthly scrap giveaway is at the end of this post!)

Is anyone else melting?  Good golly, it's hot.  Apparently something like 160 million of us here in the US are experiencing the same heat wave. I wish that just touching these cool aqua scraps would cool a person off, but no, it doesn't work that way.  Thank goodness we get to make cool things from them, right?

Today I just want to share an update on my aqua RSC projects.  Aqua is a great color and it was fun to work with these pieces.  True fact: the main decorative color in my house is aqua, including my kitchen.  It's both calming and invigorating, depending on the light.  And somehow it looks different every time I look at it.

On to the projects! Let's start with the hollow 9-patches:

I stopped at ten of these little blocks, but it was difficult.  They're just so cute!

Next up are the patchwork scrap stars:

This month I used a black and white print scrap and a bright floral scrap for the stars.  They kind of blend in this picture, but in person they look great.

Finally, there are the aqua galaxy stars:

The quest for perfect centers continues, as you can see.  A better person than me might remake some of them, but I think they're good enough.  I just like the colors against the dark blues.

So that's this month's progress!  I feel like things are moving along pretty well. All progress is good, right?

Now it's time for the scrap giveaway for this month! If you recall, for this year I'm giving away the remaining scraps of each color after I finish the projects for the month.  Here's what I have to give away for this month:

There are a lot of scraps here, and some pieces are pretty big, but some of them are fairly small as well.  Who really knows what's here?  I do know that it's more than a pound of fabric.  I'm also including an unopened small spool of aqua Aurifil thread and a handful of both 2-inch and 1-1/2 inch squares.

This giveaway is now closed!  Thanks to all!

If you live in the US or Canada, and you would like to have this package full of goodies show up at your door at no cost to you, just leave a comment on this post!  Really!  Just for fun, tell us how you're keeping cool in this massive heat wave.  I admit to needing some new, non-boring ideas.  Popsicles are really not cutting it any more.  I'll use the random number generator on Monday night, July 2, to choose a winner. 

Everybody drink lots of water and stay cool!  And if you're in Canada, a happy Canada Day on Sunday!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fast, easy, and finished

Hi everyone, and welcome to another summer weekend!  They're slipping away really fast, aren't they?  I can't believe that on Sunday it will already be July.  July! I have too much left to do for it to be July already.  Something tells me that I may not get it all done.

Here's one thing I did get done-- this week I finished up this fun little quilt:

This is a simple 16-patch that I made from some Island Batik strips that I got for Mother's Day.  It was super-easy and went really fast.  And now it's all finished, including a binding, which is a semi-miracle.

For this quilt, I just took the two darker strips from one end of the set and matched them up with the two from the lighter end of the package, then made a strip set from those and kept going the same way until they were all used up.  I got 4 blocks from each strip set with only a small piece left over.  Sure, I could have stressed over matching up colors, but I'm proud to say that I didn't.  This method worked out pretty well.

With these strips I encountered something that I never came across before in precuts-- some of the strips were bowed at the center, which means that they made a "v" when opened up.  I was able to work around most of them, but there were two that were bad enough that I couldn't use them.  I substituted another piece from my stash and just threw out the bad ones. The rest of the fabric in the quilt top is just the strips from the package, which feels great to me.

The quilting here is just a simple cross hatch with the walking foot, which worked out really well.  I was able to get a lot of the quilt done without breaking thread by just pivoting and turning the quilt.  It finished at about 48 by 56, which is a decent lap size, and was small enough that I could maneuver it pretty well. 

The backing is just a piece of batik that I had in my stash for a long time.  I was so happy to use that up!  During the quilting, I kept checking the back to make sure there were no wrinkles.  The backing turned out completely flat except for one tiny tuck.  I planned to go back and fix that at the end, but after I finished all the rows I couldn't find the tuck any more.  Let's hear it for busy backings!

I made 40 blocks from the strips in the package, and then I had to make two more to fill out the layout.  I thought that I would just add in some pieces from the stash, but I was able to use the pieces leftover from the strip sets to make 2 multi-colored blocks.  (Look carefully and you'll find them.)  This means that all the fabric I have left from the quilt top is these pieces that were too narrow to use in the multicolor blocks:

That's a win for sure!  These will get cut up for scraps at some point.  Not sure what I'm going to do with the quilt itself.  I'm thinking of selling it.  I like it a lot, but I have so many that the house is slowly becoming a quilt storage facility.  I'll see if anyone in the family wants to claim it, then it just might be for sale.  Watch this space!

So there's my fast and easy finish! Sometimes it feels good to finish up something easy, you know?  Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.  Apparently, we are going to start a seven-day heat wave, which will include dangerous heat over 100 degrees (38C), so I'll try to stay inside and have some cool drinks.  Perhaps at a place where they show movies.  Sounds good to me!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Harry and me

Hi all!  First, let me say a great big THANKS to everyone who responded to my last post with suggestions about full-spectrum lights and bulbs, and encouragement about the blues, or just to let me know I'm not alone.  I'm really fine, but I have purchased a bunch of lights and bulbs to experiment with.  It's amazing how many different choices there are out there.  I'll let you know how it goes!

This week it's been sunny and cooler so far, so I've been spending a lot of time working outside.  We're painting the shutters and window frames on the house now, and by "we" I mean "me."  Just a part of having the summer "free." I don't mind it at all, and the payoff will be great, but it takes a bunch of time.  I did get to start the Harry Potter quilt, though.

As I said last week, my daughter has requested a Harry Potter quilt, and she chose a really easy pattern for me.  It's by Pieces by Polly and is available HERE.  I started with the crest for the center:

This is not all finished off yet, but all the pieces are tacked in the right places.  The pattern calls for fusible applique, but I don't like that, as we all know, so I've just gone with raw edge applique.  I'll stitch around all of the pieces, then I intend to cut out behind the appliques so that the crest remains soft on the finished quilt, and so no shadows show through. 

Then I cut up the fabrics and started playing with squares! 

I'm not quite there yet, but it's fun to move things around.  This isn't exactly like the pattern, because I wanted more variety in the squares, but it's close enough.  After this there are three more sections, but I expect those to go faster.  We all know that Gryffindor is the most important one to get right, isn't it?

That's a pretty nice beginning, I think!  It's supposed to rain and be really hot for the rest of the week, so I'll be working on this some more instead of painting.  Gee, won't that be awful?  At least I'll have some new lights to try out while I'm stitching!

Hope you're having a great week!  Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

At the halfway point

Hi friends!  How was your week?  It has been an interesting one around here, and it won't surprise anyone to know that it's raining again.  It's been almost three years since we moved to the East coast from the Midwest, and by far the hardest thing to adjust to has been the frequent rain.  The grocery stores, too, but the precipitation has been the big thing. I never realized how much rain affected me, either.  I'm thinking of buying a full-spectrum light for the rainy days.  Anyone have a recommendation?

Good thing there are nice, happy colors in fabrics, right? Today I'm showing off my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects at the halfway mark.  There are ten colors for this year and halfway was really May, not June.  I meant to do this at the beginning of the month but was so exhausted that I forgot.  Oh, well!  They're just as pretty now.

Let's start with the patchwork scrap stars:

Well, those look festive, don't they? This quilt will be really cute and full of nice bright colors.  I've promised this one to a friend and I hope she's following along and likes what she sees.

If you look closely at the stars, you'll see that in addition to being colorful and fun, they're also a bit damp.  It's been raining, and I was fooled when the sun came out in patches for a bit.  Sadly, there was a sunshower when I was taking these photos, and then the clouds opened up, so the rest of the photos are indoors.  Here are my 10-inch Squared Away blocks up to this point:

This is going to be a great quilt!  I think they all fit together pretty well.  The purples stand out as kind of dark, but they'll blend a lot better after we add some more of the darker colors this fall.  If you recall, I'm also making 15-inch blocks this year, with dark blue backgrounds.  Here's where they stand right now:

One of the quilts I'm planning for these blocks is a layout just like this, so this makes a nice preview of the final quilt.

Last up is the hollow 9-patches:

I love these little blocks so much that I might just keep making them after the RSC is over for this year.  They're fast and use up a bunch of 2-inch squares, and we can always find a use for some 9-patches, can't we?  I have more than enough for one donation quilt right now, but I know I'll be able to make enough for two quilts with a lot of color variety by the end.

So there are my projects halfway through the challenge! I'm pretty happy with how they stand right now.  All that's missing here are the galaxy stars, but I'll show those next week.  Some of them may have fallen into a small puddle when I was rushing to get everything else inside and away from the rain.  Yeah, those are going to need washing...

Hope your projects are going well! How about showing us all a halfway picture?  If nothing else, they all look so pretty together, and I think it's motivating to see how far along the project is.  And it encourages other people too!

Have a lovely, dry weekend!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Back home again

Hello all! (waving wildly)  How have you been?  I am doing great.  It's amazing what a couple of weeks away can do for your brain and your energy.  The fact that I spent some of that time with the world's cutest babies has nothing at all to do with it, I'm sure.  The conference went well, I saw a lot of friends, I learned some stuff, and didn't cook for a long time, which is always a win in my book.  Did I mention that my son is a chef? It was yummy and I didn't have to make anything!

So now I've cleaned up some of the sewing room (what was I doing, leaving it such a mess?) and cleaned the machine plus wound a bunch of bobbins and I'm ready to get going on the projects again.  Thank goodness, too, because it's way too hot to even think about going outside. 

The first thing I want to do is make up a fast quilt from 16-patches:

Doesn't that look fun and colorful?  It's really easy, too. One of my daughters gave me this package of strips from Island Batiks for Mother's Day:

We all know I'm not a big fan of precuts, but it was a lovely gift, wasn't it?  So now I want to use them as quickly as I can so they don't just sit on the shelf forever, because that's no way to treat a present.  Besides, the colors are happy and these blocks are really easy, so I'm making progress quickly, which we all know is very gratifying.  Since there are two strips of each fabric, I'm just matching up 4 strips in roughly the same order that they're in the package, then cutting 2-1/2 inch sections for 8-inch finished blocks.  From each set of 4 strips, I get 4 blocks.  This will give me 40 blocks, and I figure that I'll add a couple more strips so that I end up with 42 blocks, for a quilt set 6 by 7.  It won't be huge, but it will be festive.  And hopefully finished quickly.

The second project I started working on is putting together my Community Sampler quilt.  I've started adding the setting triangles and I've gotten this far:

Sun splotches are festive.  They don't ruin pictures at all!

I'm using up several half yards of light blues that I bought as possibilities for sky fabrics for various projects as the setting triangles.  They're close enough in color and value that I don't think it will look bad that they're different fabrics.  I still have to make the border pieces, but I should be able to get this together pretty quickly.

The last thing that I'm working on right now is gathering fabrics for a Harry Potter quilt. 

This was not on my list to make, but you can't say no when your child asks for one and even finds you the pattern they want *and* gets it for you, can you?  Okay, an adult child, but I'm a soft touch.  The pattern is really, really easy, but you can see that I need to add some fabrics.  I knew I would need to get some more grays (silver), but I also need some more dark greens and a couple of black pieces.  I thought the blacks I have would work, but now that I look at them in the picture the prints look too gray for what I want.  So I guess I'll have to shop, darn it.  I hate it when that happens!

That's the story from here!  Pretty happy to be home, though I miss those grandkids like nothing else, and I'm looking forward to some productivity in several areas.  Because of the very wet spring we had, our massive landscaping project has been delayed by an entire month, but I have some veggies growing in containers on the deck.  Look what greeted me when we got home:

Tomatoes!  They taste like fresh air and sunshine, and I'm eating them like candy. 

Hope you're having a great week! 

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Small stuffies

Hi everyone! How is your summer going so far?  Ours has been remarkably wet--of course--and remarkably busy.  After today's post, I am taking a small hiatus to go to a professional conference and then we are going to see our grandbabies!  And what kind of a grandma would I be if I didn't have a small present for the grandkids?  Here is one of the things I am taking for the little ones:

Aren't those adorable?  This is a panel from a line called Woof Woof Meow.  My friend Nancy sent me this cute panel of the puppies. (Thanks Nancy!) There is also a kittens panel, which Nancy made when we had a sew day together, so I can attest that it is equally cute.

I know these are supposed to be a mama dog and a papa dog and their kiddos, but I'm choosing to think of them as twins who each have twins!  That way each of our twins can have their own dog with twin puppies.  Don't worry, we have something else for big brother, so no one will be left out.

The panel was super-easy to make, and all of the stuffies took about 3/4s of a 16-ounce bag of stuffing.   If you stuff them too firmly the puppies won't fit into the pockets, so these are nice and squishy. 

That's pretty much all the sewing I've done this week.  I need a little "off" time, so I am so looking forward to spending time with the grandkids.  I have to get through the conference first, of course, but I finished my paper and I'm ready for it.  Plus I always get to see friends at these things, and it also means no cooking for me, which we all know is my favorite thing.  And on top of that I'm hoping there will be sunshine somewhere along the way.  For sunshine I might even be persuaded to play hooky from the conference!

Everyone have a great week, and I'll see you in a bit!  Hope you get a lot accomplished!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Finished or Not Friday.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Squared Away Block 6

Hi all, and welcome to the next block in the Squared Away quilt project!  This project is a free quilt along designed by me and Angela of soscrappy.  If you've just found us, it's not too late to start, and if you've been sewing right along, grab some more scraps and let's add a few more blocks.  You can find links to all the previous blocks on a tab at the top of this page and also on a tab at Angela's blog, soscrappy.

This month marks the start of the second half of our quilt!  The colors for this month range from cool aquas to teals and turquoises, and the block is quick and easy.  This will give us some good progress really fast.  Here is our block:

Country Lanes, Mountain Mist, 1935

This is Country Lanes, a 1935 block from Mountain Mist, the batting company.  I remember them printing some block patterns on their batting wrappers way back in the 1980s.  I don't know if they still do this, but apparently they did for a very long time, since the 1920s, and even put out several pamphlets of the patterns.

I made the sample block in just two aquas and a background  to show the contrast, but seriously consider adding a third as the background.  If you skip to the end of this post, you can see the two blocks I made using three different prints.

On to the block!

Cutting for a 10- inch block:

As always, if you want to use your already-cut squares instead of cutting larger pieces, feel free!

From the background fabric, cut:

2 2-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch strips

From the first aqua, cut:

2 2-1/2 inch by 10-1/2 inch strips
1 2-1/2 inch square

From the second aqua, cut:

4 2-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch rectangles


Unlike the blocks up until this point, this block does not have any half-square triangles!

Take all of the 2-1/2 by 10-1/2 inch strips and pair them up, aqua with the background fabrics.  Stitch along the long edges, then press to the aqua. Cut each of these into 4 2-1/2 inch sections.

Use 2 of the sections to make a checkerboard 4-patch.  You can press these seams any way that they work best because they are not attached to other pieced units.

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


The assembly of this block could not be easier.  Gather the units that you just made plus all the remaining pieces and lay them out as shown:

Join the units into rows and the rows into a finished block.  Press well and admire how talented you are!

These blocks go very quickly, so you should be back out enjoying the June sunshine in no time.  Here are the blocks I made for this month:

We are now 60% finished with our quilt!  Wahoo!  As always, hop on over to Angela's to see some more blocks and some of her variations.  If you are so inclined, remember that Angela has a linkup at her blog every Saturday, and we would all love to see your blocks.  You can also link up Instagram posts there, and be sure to tag me (@academicquilter) and/or use #squaredawaybom or #squaredawayquilt so I won't miss seeing your pretty blocks.

Our next block will be posted July 7th, after the holiday on the 4th (or the 1st if you're in Canada), so you can go ahead and finish your picnics before meeting back here for the next step.  See you then!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A little more practice

Hi everyone, and welcome to another weekend.  A summer weekend! It's been quite the week around here, but first I want to say a great big THANKS to everyone for their comments on my post last Friday, about the finish of the Grandma's Quilt.  Apparently, the day before I posted about it, Blogger decided to stop emailing comments made on the blogs, making it hard to respond individually.  But know that I read all of your comments and appreciate them all so much.

I want to know how all of you are planning to deal with responding to comments from now on, because I was having a conversation with a friend and she doesn't think that the emailed comments are coming back.  I got an email from an online friend that said the same thing, and then I talked to a couple of other people, and none of them think we'll get comments mailed again without some kind of opt-in process from commenters allowing their email to be shared.  I'm sad to say that they might be right.  We didn't get any notification from Blogger, but I think they intended to eliminate that feature.  (Some communication would be nice, wouldn't it?)  The fact that they seem to be "working on it" now only shows how much they over looked the anticipated response. So, I'm not certain it's coming back and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with comment responses from now on.  I do know that I treasure the relationships I've made through this blog and not being able to respond privately and individually will have an impact on future friendships.  So, yes, I really want to have a discussion about this and what everyone plans to do.  Let us all know!

(Diann came up with a work around that seems to work for her! I'll give it a try on this post.)

Wow, boring way to start a post, huh?  Let's have a picture to lighten this up:

I haven't had much time to stitch this week because I'm getting ready for a professional conference next week, but I did finish off these two little practice pieces.  Both are small but functional since they both have a layer of Insul-brite in the middle (plus a layer of thin batting) so they can be used out by the grill or on a table.

This little one was quilted with orange peels, which were surprisingly easy.  The big accomplishment here is that this was all quilted without breaking thread.  One pass--yahoo!

Those are raindrops, not stains!

The little blue piece was quilted in diamonds.  They seem simple-- and they are-- but they gave me fits, mostly because I was too stubborn to actually mark anything.  Since it's all blue and white hsts I kept getting confused about which intersection I was aiming for.  A small sticker would have made it much easier!  Things like this are one of the reasons I want to practice on useful pieces, not samples.  Real-world learning is always better!  For me, anyway.

I'm happy with how these turned out.  I'm going to do one more baby-sized quilt, this time in an all0ver pattern, and then I'll move on to something larger, just to keep practicing and improving.

That's it from here for now!  Hope everyone has a good weekend.  I have to do some more work on my paper, then I'm going to a quilt show with a friend!  That will be a super-nice break.  It will be raining all weekend, so it's a good thing they're holding it indoors!

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