Friday, March 9, 2018

Snow day finish

It seems like my life has been full of a lot of unexpected things recently, including the snow storm that happened on the East coast this week.  It was wild! Heavy, wet spring snow that made the roads an absolute mess.  For a while there it was really hard to see outside.  We got hit on Wednesday, and the people to the north had to suffer through Thursday as well.  And of course everything was closed.  And we all know what that means, right?  Bonus sewing time!

I didn't think I'd have a finish this week, but I settled in and finished this little lovely:

If you recall, this is a little string top that I made a couple of months ago.  I made the blocks at the end of last year from the smallest of my strings.  The 16 little blocks were just destined for a box but they became this little top instead. While it was snowing, we were lucky enough to still have power (some people didn't) so I sat down and quilted this up.

The quilting for this little top went pretty quickly.  I used a walking foot to make a simple crosshatch through the string blocks, and then to outline the small inner border.  Then I used some chalk to draw in some scallops on edges of the inner border and echoed those twice to make a nice frame.  You can see it a lot better on the backing:

Well, I hope you can see that. After I finished it up, I had to add in that glass button in the center, you know, just to give it some color. All together, the quilting for this piece only took about an hour and a half, including drawing in the scallops.  I used the walking foot for the whole thing, which was awesome.  I think I could do a lot with this, and it makes me want to at least look at the book by Jacquie Gering on machine quilting with a walking foot.  It's so much easier for me than free-motion.  And it turned out great!

At about 24 inches square, this quilt is obviously wall-hanging size, and it happens that we just bought ourselves a lovely sideboard for some extra storage.  It's on a wall that spans the kitchen and dining room, which is all open.  I hung the quilt right above the sideboard, where it certainly shines:

The picture here doesn't do it justice because of the indoor lighting, but it looks really good against the blue-green wall.  I especially like how snappy that green binding looks.  It adds a nice happy spot to the kitchen, kind of like a stained glass window. I used Command strips to hang this directly on the wall.

So there's what I did on my snow day!  It was actually quite relaxing since I had no where else I could be and nothing else I should have been doing.  Oh, sure, I could have looked harder, but why?

Hope everyone has a good weekend.  Believe it or not, I'm going to be. . .cooking.  I know! But I really have no choice but to learn some new things in the kitchen.  I've been having some health problems for a little while now, and a couple of weeks ago I was (finally!) diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which is going to require me to eat gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free.  If you know any recipes which are not also taste-free, I'd love to hear them!

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Building plans

I read this week that spring is running 20 days ahead of schedule for the Mid-Atlantic states, which is where I live.  I believe it, because the hubs and I made a quick trip last weekend to celebrate our grandson's second birthday (!!!) and when we got home, I noticed that there were already weeds growing in the lawn.  How can this be? It seems impossible, but there it is!

Since we are racing to spring, I thought that I had better get started on a "winter" project before we're well into planting and all that.  Remember a bit ago I made a free-pieced version of the Joan of Arc chapel?  I said then that I wanted to make a seasonal sampler of different churches or chapels.  With winter ending I'd better get started on the winter church, don't you think?

Here's the church I've chosen for the winter panel:

That center tree is going to need to be edited out.

This is St. James Episcopal Church on St. James Church Rd. in Stanton, near Wilmington, Delaware.  It may not look like much in the pictures, but it is an awesome church! The people there are very nice, of course, but the building is very interesting.  The congregation itself was founded sometime before the land for a church was purchased in 1714. The first church building was built in 1716 and was replaced by this building in 1821.  The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and still has an active congregation that uses the church all the time.

Well, that will be a challenge to construct!

There are a lot of colonial-era churches in the area, but I'm drawn to this one because of the asymmetry of the building and the interesting setting, right there in the middle of the cemetery, with the fieldstone walls right at the street.  (The first grave there is from 1726, and many of the stones are still readable.)  I think this will be good for the winter piece because it has an almost monotone quality in the winter.  The church itself is a little more yellow than it appears in the picture, but almost everything is a shade of the same colors.  Plus, once the trees leaf out the building itself is hard to see.  It's beautiful with flowers, but not for my purposes.

So, with all of that, what am I going to do for fabrics?  Well, here's what I have so far for the areas surrounding the church:

The main color here is going to come from the sky fabric, and all of these blues are wrong.  I want a brilliant blue, but the darker one here is too bright and the lighter one is too light, so I guess I'll have to go shopping. (Gosh, I hate it when that happens!)  The tans are for the grounds, which don't show too much in the photos, and the greens are for the evergreens and tree trunks.  I admit that there will not be a lot of color here, but I think that's a plus.

For the building itself, I have these so far:

The grays are for the gravestones in the cemetery, which have more variation than you'd think.  I might need a darker gray for some parts, too.  The greens there are for the low fieldstone walls in front of the property, which are very weathered and have been capped off with weathered copper (which ages to a green patina).  The yellowish beiges are obviously for the church. I'm drawn to the one in the center top, mainly because it has splotches on it and looks weathered.  The one at the top right also looks good, but those figures in it are leaves, so I'm not sure how that will look.  Experimentation is in order.

So, there we go! I'm ready to make the first sampler panel.  (Why, no, I haven't quilted the first chapel yet!  What are you implying?)  I'm open to suggestions and ideas for building. Pretty sure I'm going to have to applique the bell in the tower, unless someone has a great piecing idea to share!

Hope everyone is having a good week!  For anyone who's interested, the birthday boy was delightful, and his twin brother and sister are adorable.  Who knew this much happiness was possible?

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Squared Away Block 3

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Squared Away quilt!  We are all the way up to block 3! If you've just found this quilt along, come on and jump right in.  It's not too late to start!  This quilt was designed by me and Angela of soscrappy as a fun, free project, so there are no signups or fees.  Just start sewing and you'll fit right in.

Our colors for this month are bright and light greens, just to get us in the mood for spring. Here is our block for this month:

Believe it or don't, this block is called Red Cross and was in the 1897 publication of the Ladies' Art Company catalogue.  This is one of those blocks that can look very different depending on your fabric choices.  I've tried  different colorways and you can see those pictures near the end of this post, so be sure to read all the way through before you start cutting.

On to the tutorial for the block!

Cutting for 10-inch blocks

This block is something of a magic block.  It requires 16 half-square triangles, but if you have an Easy Angle ruler, this entire block can be made from one 2-1/2 inch by width of fabric strip of green (like those in jelly rolls) and one 2-1/2 by width of fabric strip of background.  This is the way that I made my blocks.  If you want to make your half-square triangles a different way, I've listed some cutting instructions by block component, not color, so you can mix and match depending on how you want your block to look.

As always, if you already have squares cut, use those! No need to let good scraps go to waste.

To make a 10 inch finished block the way I made mine, cut:

1 2-1/2 by width of fabric strip of green
1 2-1/2 by width of fabric strip of background

Alternate cutting instructions to use other sizes of scraps:

For the hsts:

To use the Magic 8 method:
2 5-3/4 inch squares of green* 
2 5-3/4 inch squares of a background or accent color *
(can both be oversized and hsts trimmed to size if desired)

For use the more traditional method for hsts:
8 2-7/8 inch squares to make 16 hsts

For the crossbars:

4 2-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch rectangles of green or background

For the center:

1 2-1/2 inch square of green or background


This block is very easy to make.  First, make 16 half-square triangles using whichever method you prefer.  Your hsts should measure 2-1/2 inches to finish at 2 inches in the block. To make them from the 2-1/2 inch strips, follow these steps.  HERE is an old video from Bonnie Hunter that explains a lot better than I could, if you find videos helpful. (My pictures are a little different from hers.)

First, put your two strips right sides together and align the edges carefully.  I found it helpful to press the strips together.  Trim off the left selvage so that you start with a nice square end.

Using the Easy Angle Ruler, align the 2-1/2 inch line along the bottom of the strips, with the small black triangle hanging over the top edge.  Cut along the slanted edge.  You should have a piece that looks like this:

Flip the ruler around to cut the next pair, and then continue along the strip until you have 16 pairs.

After you have all of the pairs cut, stitch each of them, open, and press.  These will not require very much trimming, if any.  Once you get the hang of it, it's very easy and goes fast, but it can be unforgiving. Not aligning the pieces correctly can lead to hsts that are too small, so be sure to cut carefully.

Once you have 16 hsts, separate what remains of the two strips.  From one, cut 4 2-1/2 by 4-1/2 rectangles for the crossbars.  From the other strip, cut one 2-1/2 inch square.  You will have some leftover from one strip but very little from the other.

Arrange your hsts as shown, in four groups of four hsts each.  Pay close attention to the directions of the colors, stitch together, and press well.  You can press in any direction that the seams fit best since they won't be attached to other pieced units.

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


That is it!  Time to assemble the block--

Lay out the units you just made, the rectangles, and the center square as shown, paying attention to the directions of the hsts:

Join the units into rows and the rows into a finished block.  I found it easiest to press toward the rectangles.  Give your block a good press, stand back, and admire!

This block looks very different depending on the color choices.  Here's my first block from above along with a second block with green crossbars instead of white ones:

Whichever way you decide to distribute the colors, make sure that the center square and corner triangles form a small Shoo Fly block in the center of the block:

This insures that the hsts are in the correct orientation and your block turns out with the right effect.

Even though there are a lot of hsts in this block, it goes pretty fast.  You can also have fun choosing some different background colors to coordinate with the greens.  In the block above, I used a light purple to set off the bright green.

Our quilt is 30% finished! Here are my versions of all the 10-inch blocks we've done so far:

And for those of you who are into dark backgrounds, here are my larger blocks:

These are going to be some great quilts!  I just love seeing the pretty greens.  It gives me some hope that spring is actually on the way.  Don't forget to visit Angela's blog today to see her blocks and get some more ideas for variations and maybe some tips or tricks, too.

The next step in our quilt will be ready April 7, so meet back here for the next block!  In the meantime, we'd love to see your blocks at Angela's weekly linkup so we can all admire them. And if you're sharing pictures of your blocks on Instagram, remember to tag them as #squaredawayquilt or #squaredawaybom so that we don't miss your pretty blocks!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Warm waters

Somewhere in the last couple of days it got to be March! March is the month that winter turns into spring, which makes it a great month.  It tends to be windy and rainy, but I don't even care-- spring is coming! The fact that I have a daughter born in March has absolutely nothing to do with my current affection for this month, I swear.

To ring in the new month, I have finished the warm-colored Regatta quilt! If it's going to be warm, we might as well have warm colors, right?

Aren't those colors happy? If you recall, I had an old Kona solids jelly roll that I wanted to use up, and I separated it into warm colors and cool colors to make two small Regatta quilts.  (The cool-colored Regatta is HERE.)  These will be donations for the Hands to Help Challenge run by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  The Challenge hasn't officially started yet, but I know that if I don't do this now I might never do it, and I really wanted to make these to donate. I think they'll keep until it's "officially" time to mail them in.

My Regatta quilts are smaller than the original and use only one of the jelly roll strips per row.  Because my quilt is smaller, I only used three "steps" instead of four.  I spaced these at 10, 14, and 18 inches, which worked out just fine for me.

This little quilt finished at just about 40 by 45, which is a little smaller than I wanted. I really disliked the pinked edges of the strips, so I cut those all off this time.  This made the strips 2-1/4 instead of 2-1/2, which shrunk the quilt by almost 6 inches in length.  It's still a nice size for a child, though.  Maybe a younger child than the other quilt, but I think it will still work out okay. You can see the size difference in this picture:

I also did this one quilt-as-you-go style, which worked out great, and then I used the leftover strips from the jelly roll as binding.  The binding is a little wide, but I'm calling that a design choice. I just didn't feel like trimming the jelly roll strips down. I cut each of the strips in half for the binding so that there is more variation around the quilt edge. Finishing these two little quilts means that there were only 4 strips left from the jelly roll, and I've recycled those into the Monet's Wedding Ring quilt.  This means the roll is gone and mostly used! Hurray!

Because the fronts of these quilts are mostly solids with small prints, I put a fun print on the back of this one:

It's a little bit girly, but there is a lot of pink on the front of the quilt, so that's probably okay.

I really like how this quilt (and it's twin) turned out and I would definitely make them again.  The pattern would also lend itself to a bunch of variations, including making a "chunky" version using wider strips.  In THIS post, Janine used pieced hearts instead of squares in a doll quilt! That would look so cute on a larger quilt.  Wish I had thought of it before I pieced those strips.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.  I have managed to dodge the digging for one more weekend and am having an adventure for a few days.  Can't even tell you how excited I am about it! 

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