Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Quilt Designs · UFO

Better Some Than None

I have been so uninspired to work on my Christmas Fig quilt that I had to make it my UFO homework just to get it started. To be fair, there have been other more fun projects waving at me for distractions. Such as …

Sewing strips

A bargello quilt!!! I got this jello role bundle from Troll Brothers this summer specifically to make a bargello quilt. I wanted something I didn’t need to spend a lot of time coordinating together and this fabric is so cute! I’ll explain more about how bargellos work in the future, but basically you sew all these strips together lengthwise, then sew the last and first strip together to make it a tube, then cut the tube different widths to make the bargello pattern. Since this will make a fairly small panel, I got some coordinating fabric to use for borders/binding, so I should get at least a lap size out of it!

Retreat video on the sewing machine

But enough about distractions (or, at least, enough on that for today). This weekend was Crazy Quilter’s Zoom retreat, so I thought it best to get started on my UFO goal before I’m forced to cough up money. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a bit of incentive!

Quilting Ideas from July

My goal for the month of September was to get 2 blocks (out of 20 total) quilted. As per usual, I started at the center of the quilt as I find that to be the most challenging part to do. The first block, despite now looking easy, took forever!! I had my handy-dandy quilt design chart pinned up to my easel design board to help, but I wanted to try a couple of modifications to the bow-tie block to see if I could get a different pattern quilted in. Each attempt was a failure, so after ripping out 2 rows, I just stuck to the stitch-in-the-ditch idea I had originally sketched. While I do intend to do quite a bit of stitch in the ditch, I have some original design ideas as well. And for at least one of the blocks so far, I barely followed my original sketch and came up with a quilting look that I LOVE! That seems to be the way for me. I just have to get started, then the ideas will begin to flow. 🙂

All in all, I managed to get 5 blocks done this weekend. I was hoping for at least 6, but when I stopped to make supper I came into the kitchen to discover Chaos reigned supreme! Husband cannot be trusted to entertain himself, apparently. Trouble ensues whenever I do that. By the time dinner was made and a sense of order had been restored, my only thought was movie night on the couch. At least I got a sweet reward for my pain … and 5 blocks really is better than no blocks at all!

The sweet (and VERY sticky) reward!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Quilt Designs · UFO

Regressing To Crawling

Well, how else should one baste a quilt in a new house??

I’m still short a table (Husband is working on other projects and I hate to distract him just to dig out a table), so the best option for basting the Christmas Fig quilt was to lay it out on the floor and roll around with pins. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, it went very well! I wasn’t even sore from bending over like I usually am when I baste. My legs, on the other hand, complained loudly (I tend to sit cross-legged). Still, I took the odd break to stretch out and made it through. It helped that the Crazy Quilter Zoom retreat was this weekend! It made the job easier by being a distraction. 🙂

Zoomin’ and bastin’

The only issue I had was the batting. I bought batting months ago for this project and had it sitting on the shelf for usage. After finishing all the piecing, I carted everything downstairs in a laundry basket, laid out my backing, and opened up the batting … only to remember that I cut out the Brothers Bear baby quilt batting from this piece. I might have enough to proceed, but it would be very close and require a lot of cutting and piecing of the batting. Since the stores are open again, it was much simpler to just run over to Fabricland and buy batting. I need more and why not start rebuilding my supply? Plus – the Pellon 93% cotton batting I usually use was on super sale! Time to load up for the next few quilts! We won’t talk about the fabric that also made its way into the basket …

My father-in-law is spending a few days at our house during the week to give Husband a hand with his projects, so the quilting will not commence until the weekend. I am very excited to get going on it, though!! The first two blocks under the needle are the purple squares and the blue bow tie blocks in the dead centre of the quilt. I once again utilized my iPad to sketch out my quilting patterns. We’ll see how many squares turn out the way I sketch them. Sometimes I get inspired mid-quilt. 🙂

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Quilt Designs · UFO

Summer Projects

Now that the stores have finally re-opened, I’ve been running around collecting fabrics and assorted goods. Let’s take a look at what the summer holds!

1. Christmas Fig

I got fabric to finish this quilt!!! Finally!
However … they did not have any of the same colour left available (surprising that such an ugly colour was that popular, but it is what it is). I was concerned that would be an issue, so instead of just bringing along a sample of the background fabric, I brought an orphan block made up of little fabric pieces from the quilt. Orphan blocks are blocks that go unused or scraps that are put together to form a one-off block that aren’t used in the quilt. I’m starting to amass a collection of orphan blocks for a scrap quilt down the road. 🙂 Using the orphan block, I pulled a fabric colour that I think looks very well with the quilt! It makes the ugly background look nice and adds a cohesive look to all the fabrics. I’m glad they ran out! This quilt looks even nicer than I imagined! I managed to get a trip down to the Fibre Chick to pick out backing and binding. This quilt is going to be so beautiful when complete! I think my father-in-law will love it.

I cut out all the sashing and put the quilt top together in the span of a couple of days. I took a picture from earlier and made marks on it to arrange the blocks so there weren’t touching fabrics or too much purple in one section. It really helped for reference when putting it together. I got so excited to get the flimsy made!!!! Now to get it basted and quilted. 🙂

I promise the diagram makes sense to me!

2. 6.5” panel quilts

While I was at the Fibre Chick, she gave me the suggested assembly instructions for the 6.5” panel squares quilt. I decided to pick out a background, binding, and sashing fabric for the Amish panel of 6.5” squares. I may be giving that quilt to someone for Christmas. That’s not as sure thing and I’m not even 100% certain which person would be getting it, so I’ll say no more on the matter at present. It was a good opportunity to pick up what I need for it! I believe I also got sashing for the calendar 6.5” squares. I may need more for binding fabric when I get there, but I intend to use some rough poly fabric for the back as I intend it to be my first hung quilt!! I have a special idea in mind for that one. 🙂

Ready to rock!

3. Tula Pink

We are half-way through the Tula Pink blocks! 50 blocks made so far, another 10 to be done in the next 2 weeks, and we’re at 60% completion! To that end, I decided to pick up sashing at Fabricland. I knew going into this that I wanted grey for my sashing to make the colours pop. I’m using white, black, and dark grey/charcoal in the blocks, so it had to be something that would keep the dark blocks from disappearing. After comparing to several different shades at the store, I settled on this iron grey colour. It’s a warm-toned grey, which is unusual of itself. It’s also just light enough not to blend into the dark blocks, yet still dark enough to make the hot colours pop. I cannot wait to see it come together! I will be adding the sashing to the left-hand side as I go and adding a sashing to a finished block when strip-piecing this month’s blocks. I picked out the fabrics for this month, by the way – predominantly purple with some blue. Next month, we’ll be back to random fabric pulls from stash. I love this project so much!!!

4. Niece gifts

Since I already got the nephew Christmas present out of the way (a digger for his next-year sandbox), I might as well get the girls’ presents done too.

When I made the Peter Pan quilts last year, I had one fabric left over that I had no idea what to do with. It was a long panel-type fabric, but the panel was only half width-of-fabric and repeated the same design on the other side. I guess it would be a good border fabric, but who makes borders that are 21” wide?? I folded it up and put it back with absolutely no idea what to do with it … until Fibre Chick’s summer sew-along a couple of weeks ago. That fabric would be PERFECT for travel pillows!! And I even had a left-over pillow from making the Star Trek pillows, so I can get this wrapped up in a day!

Since I was using a fabric that was printed to a certain width, I decided to cut down on the amount of pillow case cuff to get more of the graphic in. It did work, but I quickly found out that the case cuff is supposed to be a specific width in order to make it easier to sew the pillowcase together. Whoops. Now I know for the future. Everything is finished except sewing the thread ends into the seams. That won’t take long, though, so I’ll just leave it until I go to wrap them for Christmas. At least now I can put the serger away to make room for free-motion quilting!

5. Bag projects

I needs some bags for storing things, like my fabric pill shaver and the video game controllers. I decided to dig into my stash to make up some bags from my “ugly” fabrics because WHY NOT. The bag pattern I use has two fabrics on the outside (top and bottom), so the mask fabrics will be bottom fabrics with the blue as a top. The Mountie hat will be a bottom fabric with the province names as a top. The yellow chintz I’m trying to use up will be the liner for one or more bag. Finally, the bunny fabric is something I found at Fabricland. I FELL IN LOVE!!!! I want to make some sort of bag with it … maybe a fold-up shopping bag to keep in my purse? It would be better than the polyester one I have. It does for damp things, but it’s ugly and I want bunnies. 😀

I think that’s more than enough to be getting on with in the near future, don’t you?

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · UFO

The One With All The Work

Oooooooh wow … this bag took a lot. It’s beautiful and worth it, but wowwy. I think it took almost 40 hrs in total to complete. That’s more than I work in a week at my paying job! Thank goodness I was on vacation last week or I never would have been able to finish it. It probably shouldn’t take 40 hrs, by the way … but I find that the first time I make a pattern, I have to devote 5-10% more time to it to account for mistakes, getting lost on the next step, and just generally not being sure of the full process. Let’s learn together!!

Step 1: Do all the cutting.
Unlike making a quilt, you can’t just cut as you go. Actually, I don’t think you’re supposed to cut as you go with quilts, but it’s definitely an option and I find it makes the quilting process easier in some cases. If you’re tight on fabric, definitely cut it out beforehand so you can figure out what you need to do to meet the pattern if you don’t have enough fabric. When making bags, though, you absolutely have to cut before you sew. Simple totes like the Tiki Tote I did for SisterN are an exception to the rule. My first time-consuming mistake was attempting to cut out only what I needed for the first step. After floundering for an hour in confusion, I sat down to cut out everything.
Cutting out and taping together the paper pattern pieces: 1hr.
Cutting out all the fabric and interfacing – 4 hrs. I was already angry at the bag at this point. 😀 Luckily, it looks SO CUTE.

What I started with

Step 2: Make the piping.
Piping is when you have a fabric cord around the edge of your project. You’ll most often see piping in cushions and on bags. It gives your project a very professional finish. I considered doing a piping on the pillow I made my dad for Christmas, but I was intimidated by the process and already under the gun to finish projects (I may still have had delusions of grandeur that I would complete the bags on time). There are two wonderful videos attached to the bag pattern. You can find them on YouTube under Andrie Designs – Crating and Attaching Piping. The process was actually a lot more straight forward than I expected. Making bias strips is easy due to all my practice with making bindings for quilts, but I had to make the strips on the fabric’s diagonal instead of with/across the grain like I usually do. This allows the fabric to give more easily, similar to how a tee-shirt stretches. If you’re curious, watch the first video on creating piping. She explains and demonstrates how bias works.

I should have cut a 1/2 meter to make my bias strips out of, but I had no idea how much fabric I would need and decided that more is better than not enough … so I did a full 44” instead. 😀 As you may imagine, HUGE overkill. I now have enough binding strips to do another bag and enough excess piping to do a small cushion or wallet … hmmmmmm …
Piping creation: 2-3 hrs. This is adding up already, isn’t it? And we aren’t even ready to start piecing yet!!

Step 3: Fuse all the things.
Remember I mentioned cutting all the fabric and interfacing? This is where I got to learn more about interfacing and stabilizers. They are roughly the same thing – they get attached to the back of the fabric to provide rigidity. The main difference is that interfacing helps the fabric to keep from fraying after it’s cut. Stabilizers … well, stabilize or stiffen the project. You can think of it as the difference when buying one of the reusable fabric grocery bags that you can roll up into a ball and one of the stand-up reusable grocery bags that you probably use for your heavy products. Those ones are usually stiff due to a vinyl exterior, but the concept should help you visualize the difference.

There’s also sub-categories of these interfaces. There’s fusible and non-fusible (fusible has a thin layer of glue that bonds to the back of the fabric when you apply heat with your iron, the other just gets attached by stitching in). There’s webbing, batting, and light interfacing. I’m not doing a deep-dive on the differences. For this bag, I needed a light-to-medium interfacing (keeps fabric from fraying), fusible batting (exactly like quilt batting except you can iron it on to the fabric instead of using basting spray or pins like I usually do), and a heavy stabilizer to give structure. I used Pelion Deco-Bond which is one of the heaviest interfacing I have. It also happened to be what I had in a drawer. It probably should have been a little more rigid, but I used what I had since the stores are all closed.
Fusing layers: 1-2 hrs. At least we get to move on to the sewing!!

The first panel was the most exciting panel to work on (in my opinion) because it highlighted the absolutely adorable Tula Pink skunk fabric I had ordered especially for this project. I LOVE it. It’s the perfect pattern for black-and-white projects. Since it is a Tula fabric, I think no one is surprised that there is still some colour in it, but just little pops that add to the design. I had chosen a mottled coloured fabrics for the piping from my stash. The colours matched perfectly and I think it added to the bag. Husband thinks I should have stuck with a black piping as he thinks it pulled focus a bit. I also took a survey at my UFO club and they told me the coloured piping “made the bag”. Let me know your opinion in the comments! I won’t re-place the piping, but it helps for me to know on future projects that I intend to give/sell.

Bright piping (how is this the only picture I took of the piping process??)

This panel also introduces a new concept – zipper tape!! There are two options for buying zippers. You can buy lengths from your local fabric store (16”, 22”. 8”, etc.) or you can buy a roll of zipper tape and a handful of zippers to go with it. The advantage to the individual zippers is mostly a range of colour. You can buy zipper tape in many colours, but if you only use them occasionally in your projects, it makes more fiscal sense to buy the individual ones in the colour you need at the time. The advantage to zipper tape is that you get a massive supply of zipper length and don’t need to worry about making a mistake if you cut it too short – you can just cut more! You can also mix-and-match the zipper colours. Since I was using gold rings for the handles, I went with yellow zippers on the black zipper tape. I could have done black zippers to have everything blend in, but it should surprise no one at this point that I would find that too boring to bother with, 😀 The one challenge to zipper tape is that you have to insert the zipper into the zipper teeth. That can be difficult to do. There are lots of hacks online for doing it. My hack was using a very old coat with a broken zipper last winter as my new good coat was stuck at my parents’ house 2 hrs away during a lockdown. I made do with re-zipping the coat each time I got in and out of the car/house/bending down to scoop dog bombs. I got VERY good at threading zippers into the teeth, so doing this part was no challenge. I also got an extra zipper and 20” of tape just in case I made a mistake and needed a second zipper. Smart on me, as I cut the zipper 1” too short on the first pocket. I still have some zipper tape to save and use on a future project!!! Maybe a matching wallet??

The final thing I’ll warble on about regarding the bag is the inner section. I wanted to make this bag big enough for SisterD to transport her laptop in when she starts going back to work after COVID. That requirement dictated the bag pattern I used. I know what model of laptop she has (and her work just issued the new device to her, so she’ll have it for at least 4-5 years), so I could make sure the bag would accommodate the laptop. Issue is, when you put a laptop in a bag, you really do need it to be in a separate section from all your other bag-things or it becomes very hard to fish up, say, your building ID to get into the office. The bag pattern only had one big pocket on the inside, so I included a divider to keep things separate. I also built two fabric pockets into the divider for tucking the power cord & mouse into in an effort to keep the main pocket as clear as possible. This was relatively easy to accomplish. When cutting the liner fabric, I added an extra 1” to the side pieces. I then cut them in half and stitched the divider in between them. One thing I did not do is make the divider go all the way up to the zipper. I feel like this adds too much weight and makes it harder to look for things/get things in/out of the bag, so it’s about 3/4 the hight of the pattern liner. I will be asking my sister to give me feedback on whether this was helpful or if things kept moving between the two sides. It’s a free bag – she can be a guinea pig!

Bag sewing together: 2-12hr days, give or take. Multiple rip-outs and forgotten pattern pieces are included here.

Yeah. On the first day, I literally got up in the morning, had breakfast, and vanished into the sewing room until much later at night than I should have been up. The next couple of days, I spaced in meals and naps. It’s a vacation, for crying out loud – I’m supposed to be taking a break!!! Was it worth it?

FINISHED!

Uh, YEAH … I think it was!! I may be biased (and sleep and energy deprived), but I think this looks stunning! After I finished it, I switched thread and made another mug mat to go with SisterN’s tote. I decided the one I made during the sewing challenges wasn’t good enough to give as a gift, especially considering all the work that went into SisterD’s bag and mat. If this seems like an unfair demonstration of giving, rest assured that SisterN is getting the major time-sink gift next Christmas. I had that picked out before I even started the bags. I intend to start it in October – I want to give myself loads of time to get that one done this year!!

For July/August, we don’t have to pick UFOs if we’re too busy. We didn’t pay into the kitty for the summer months, which works out for me. New house does not have central air and the sewing room is WAY too hot to spend large amounts of time in during heat waves. I intend to work on the two 6” feature block quilts I started in April/May whenever we have cool days. If I’m lucky, I’ll have them both pieced and the flimsies ready for quilting by September. If not, that’s okay too. I still have the Tula monthly quilt blocks to do and the Christmas Fig quilt to assemble when the stores re-open, so if that’s all I manage during my summer, I’ll be happy with that!!

Summer goals

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Non-Quilt Projects · UFO

Baggin’ It

My June UFO commitment is to get caught up on the presents I was trying to get made for Christmas and ran out of time to do. With all the lockdowns, I didn’t bother picking it back up. That’s subject to change, though. We’re supposed to come out of lockdown at the start of June . First thing I intend to do is go visit my family. My sisters were both supposed to get bags (not that they know that), but the niece quilts took priority. Now I get to finish them!!!

I was supposed to finish the one I started in December for SisterD, but of course … I got distracted. I blame my father-in-law. If I hadn’t finished his quilt (mostly), I wouldn’t have all these pretty scraps just BEGGING to be made into a tote bag. That means SisterN is getting her bag finished first.

Okay, maybe it’s partially my fault. I’ve been re-watching episodes of the Midnight Quilt Show with Angela Walters on my lunch break. I like watching them for inspiration, especially the quilting designs. I’ve already got 2 more quilts planned with fabrics I bought when I first started quilting. Like I need more projects!! One of her episodes was about making a quilted bag. The template was offered for free on Craftsy which became Bluprint which has become Craftsy again … It changed hands a couple of times, hence the re-branding. With those changes, the pattern directions are no longer available on the site. I almost couldn’t find this pattern, but I finally stumbled across a PDF shared on the internet with the pattern! Who hoo!
http://static-sympoz.s3.amazonaws.com/email/2019/Member%20Patterns/April%202019/Sew/Tiki%20Tote%20Pattern.pdf

While I have a decent amount of scraps, I don’t have enough to make it totally out of 2.5 strips, so I took all the extra strips and just mix them all up with the standard strips. It gives the strip-units a less-braidy look, but I like the way it’s turned out!

I was so excited to have the exterior done within a couple of days. I’d go in with the intent to do one braid unit and SURPRISE get sucked in to finish 3 or 4. Next step – put the braids together. Because this is a bag and it may not see the most gentle use, I decided to serge the panels together for more rigidity. Yes, it makes the seams a little little bulkier, but it’s a bag. That doesn’t really matter. After serging the units and the top border, I attached some batting and started on the quilting!!

This bag is really busy and the fabric on it is sooo beautiful, so I didn’t want to do too much more than stitching the batting to the fabric. I still wanted to practice a bit, though, so I decided to do some free-motion stitching in the odd strip. I think this looks pretty good! And the ribbon candy design is definitely getting better with practice. I think it like it best on narrow strips – I struggle making it look good on wider strips.

The pattern calls for a pieced liner. This teenie tiny pile of strips is all I have left (YAY almost no scraps!!!), so I’m going to use a single piece of fabric as the liner. Since I’ve got just enough to also make the straps out of the liner fabric, I will use it there as well.

All that remains of the Crystal Waters bundle

All in all – this is a pretty quick little tote sew. It looks super cute, it’s a good way to use up fat quarter bundles, and who doesn’t like a tote bag!! 😀 Next up: the SisterD work tote.

~M

Block-of-the-Month · UFO

May UFO project

Sorry – got distracted with my new June UFO commitments and forgot to post what I finished last month. 😀

One of my UFO goals is to get my class-based blocks from past years finished up. My last class from FibreChick was interrupted by the pandemic. I got all the remaining blocks, but I haven’t gotten around to making any additional ones.

Normally, I would make the remaining 6, but I picked up a panel over the holidays to make these blocks with again. I like the layout she designed for the 6.5 squares and thought it would be perfect for this Amish barn-quilt panel. And getting the first 6 blocks made is my May-month UFO.

6.5” block panel

I used the monthly retreat hosted by the Crazy Quilter to get to work on the new blocks. I may have had the Courthouse steps made before the retreat weekend, but most of the blocks were created during the retreat.

One thing I’d forgotten about is how much I intensely dis-like the drunkard’s path blocks. As far as I’m concerned, they take too much time to make. And I got extra frustrated because I made all the blocks I need to complete it … then realized I forgot a whole circle block. GAHHHH!!! But finally, at the end, I had all the blocks made and May UFO is done!

I am switching gears a little bit for June. Don’t worry – I intend to have both these flimsies finished by summer’s end! Maybe even have one quilted?? We’ll have to see …

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · UFO

UFO Surprise

Sorry it took forever to get this post out. I needed to step back from doing too much and this was one of those things. Self-care and all that, but I’m back now. 🙂

Since I could only make 1 Christmas Fig block and nothing else …. why not do some honest-to-goodness quilting to flesh out the UFO goals for April??

Remember this? I basted it last summer thinking I would have time (and desk space) to do quilting over the winter …. right. So now I have the exact right amount of time to quilt it!! I think I’m going to wind up keeping it. I might as well, right? I need a table runner too!! Not that I HAVE a table at this time … but still!

I started out with the tree. Since I’ve done this 2 times already, I had a clear vision of that I wanted. Now that I’ve decided to keep it, I decided to do the quilting free-hand. I need the practice and I prefer the activity. I decided just to do straight lines coming to a point. I think it worked out well, even if it’s not perfectly straight! If I ever make another one of these, I think I would do this again, just with a ruler.

Next up was the creamy background. I took a chance with the thread. I had this rose-gold Glide thread and I thought it matched small parts of the background that had a pinky colour pretty well. And it just fit right in! Yay! The stipple has become my go-to filler for unobtrusive dense background quilting. It takes practice to keep the bends looking casual and uniform, so I figure continual practice hurts no one. I decided to do the trunks with the same rose-gold colour so the design would stand out. It was either this or the green and I think this is the better choice. I got inspired by an old tree trunk root in our front yard. I was looking at the rings in the wood over the weekend and “DING” – that part just fell into place. It’s not the best fit, but I like how it looks and I don’t think it looks too bad. It’s staying!

Semi-final step – the red borders. I decided to try doing a ribbon candy design down the sides and what I like to think of as loopy lillies in the triangles. I need practice with the ribbon candy, but I think part of the problem is that you need to have 2 edges to work against. Since I’m binding it, I didn’t use the top edge because the binding will cut off part of the design. I was getting a feel for it by the end, so hopefully just practice required to get perfect. 🙂

I used a cream binding to finish it off. I auditioned a few fabrics and this one was what I had in stash that suited it the most.

Finished!

I also made new quilting gloves!! My Mashinger gloves were getting downright yucky, despite washing them. And the elastic was coming out of the wrist. I bought some gardening gloves and cut off fingers so I can still use my phone when I quilt! Of course, I cut the wrong fingers off, so now I look like a 4-fingered muppet when I quilt. I may have to try again in the future. After these ones wear out/get grubby, that is.

The table runner is now on my door table. I don’t have a good picture just yet, but it definitely works well. I’m just so glad to have it finished up and in use! 🙂

~M

Block-of-the-Month · UFO

UFO Calamity

My goal for April was to get my Christmas Fig top together. I thought it would be a relatively easy goal – all the blocks are together, so I just need to do the sashing, right?

That sentence never ends well.

First off, I had to go through my scraps to find enough pieces to do the 4-patch corners. There are 30 of them in all. I didn’t want to stick to two colours since I’m working with a FQ bundle and I didn’t want to cut anymore of the fabric strips than I had to, so I first cut down any bits and pieces I had, then figure out how much I needed from strips. It turned out to be not much at all!! I was very thrifty. 🙂 And it was nice to do all the work from right beside my computer at the big cutting mat. The chain piecing turned into something of a rope, but all the pieces fit on the pressing station when time came to press them down. I spent a couple of leisurely evenings getting the 4-patches made!

Next step is getting the blocks ready. Some of the blocks aren’t exactly 16.5”. When making them, some called for strips around the outside of the block. I didn’t bother because I figured I would just do them all with strips. That … was not fun. Thankfully I was on Zoom for one of Crazy Quilter’s virtual retreat. By the time the call was up at the end of the night, I wanted to throw the whole project in time-out. It just means I need practice, though, at figuring out how much fabric I need to get the right size. I can do that!

Monday evening, I started putting up all my blocks on the design wall so I could figure out if I wanted to follow the pattern exactly or mix up some of the blocks. That’s when I discovered …

I MISSED A BLOCK. How did that happen??? I swear I counted all the blocks multiple times and compared it to the book. How could I be short a block?? Did it get lost during the move? With the blocks laid out according to the pattern, it was easy to see which one was missing (ironically, it just happened to be the very last block in the very last row – that was not intentional!) I flipped through the book and found the Pinwheel Swirl. After looking at it for a bit, I don’t think I actually ever made that one (at least it’s not lost!!!!) Thankfully, I had a long weekend coming up. I could just make it then!

… or not. Sorry not sorry – the weather was BEAUTIFUL over that weekend. All I wanted to do was be outside! I cut down a couple of huge cedar shrubs that were planted right beside the foundation of the house (honestly – who does that??? The roots will crack out your foundation and make a huge mess. Save foundation gardens for flowers or foundation-friendly plants like roses). Snowdog cavorted in yard was his typical terror self. He even tried to climb into the neighbour’s car and go for a drive with them! DON’T BLAM ME … Husband thought he could let Snowdog out on his own. That should teach him. Things were raked up, dog bombs were cleaned up, and campfires were had. I LOVE being able to have a fire in our own backyard at long last! Now we just need to build up a stack of wood that is actually dry and not 25 years old … but we’ll get that old, punky, wet stuff burned up eventually. 🙂

And now we’re staring down the barrel of the deadline gun. My Tula blocks are due in a week and my UFO is due 2 days later. Gotta get chopping!!!!

The block went together fairly quickly. The seams are a little bulky, but work fine. Unfortunately, making the final block made something very clear to me. I can’t finish this quilt top right now. I don’t have enough of the background fabric to finish. I will have to go back to Fabricland to get enough to finish, but since we’re going back into lockdown, that will not be happening anytime soon. I let the Crazy Quilter know I would have to change my UFO for this month. I’ve finished the block. Next week – the second part of my surprise April UFO.

~M

Piecing · UFO

Christmas Fig Finish!

Not to give away the post plot, but … I’m done the blocks!!!! YAY!!!

Last block in the list was the Tree of Life. I started the HSTs last week, so the boring part of the piecing was out of the way! I just had to make sure all the triangles were pointing the same way before sewing them together. It went together like a dream. I was even able to spin all the seams on the back! Now I’m wishing I took a picture of that … I did take a picture of the tree trunk before attaching it. I think it looks like an arrow!

That officially means that all my Christmas Fig blocks are done!! Now I just have to square up all the blocks to the right size, put in the sashing, and I’ll have a finished “flimsy”. I just learned that some parts of the world call a finished quilt top a flimsy. Still learning new things here! I like the term. It may show up again. 😉 Now I have to decide if I’m actually going to give up that quilt to the intended owner.

All the finished blocks – PACKED away!

Sorry for the short update this week. Next week – the Tula Pink blocks!! I’m so excited. I have the Tula fabric all picked out. I may even get started before the weekend!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing · Sewing Room · UFO

Slogging Through

My goal for this weekend was to finish off the remaining Christmas Fig blocks. Spoiler: I didn’t make it, but I can see that finish line coming strong!

After my struggles last week, I decided to start off with the easiest block first. I have three blocks left – the Flying Geese Criss Cross block (ain’t that a mouthful), the Feathered Star block, and the Tree of Life block. I’m saving the Tree of Life block for last – it just seems fitting. The easiest of the two remaining blocks is by far the Flying Geese Criss Cross block. It took me less than 2 hours to put it together and the bulk of that time was spent on the flying geese blocks. I’m not super enthused with this block. It’s yet another example that I didn’t take colour value into account. Even though these two fabrics compliment each other probably better than any other fabrics I paired from this bundle, the light coloured fabrics blend into the background fabric too much. It would have been better to go with white fabrics or just use different fabrics for this pattern, but that how we learn.

On to the Feathered Star block! It doesn’t look much like a feathered star to me. In fact, if it were up to me, I’d call it the Sawtooth Star. Unfortunately, there’s already a block called that. If you compare the two, the Feathered Star looks much more sawtooth-y. I’m calling mine Sawtooth.

I honestly think this was the most challenging block in the book. Some of the others would be very close (the Puzzle block and the Milky Way block come to mind), but this one was most challenging to me, in no small part due to using directional fabric. Thankfully, the pattern was somewhat easy to conceal on the smaller pieces, but I had to make sure the eight big triangles were all flowing in the right direction. You’ll see later.

The first challenge was getting all the blocks sorted and moving in the correct direction. I love having a design wall for this sort of work!!! I know other people have boards about the size of a piece of paper that they arrange their blocks on for piecing. If I am in a place where my design wall is not directly beside my sewing machine, I will absolutely do this as well. It is so handy to be able to arrange it before sewing it to make sure it’s going the right direction. Most of my Sunday was taken up with making the half-square triangles (HSTs) and arranging them on the wall. I decided to make some of the outer blocks before calling it quits and honestly – the wall made life easy. If you’re in to quilting, please please do some form of this. It’s so much better than laying them out on the table – I promise!

Here in Ontario, we had a long weekend! Yay!! That meant I could do more quilting on Monday! First step was to make the remaining outer blocks, which was a snap. Then on to the four inner blocks!!! This is where directional fabric got the better of me. As you can see, the blocks I made last night clearly have dots streaming upwards. There are four more big triangles in the middle with the streaming dots. I got one done, then on a whim I decided to toss it on the wall to see how it worked. Am I ever glad I did!! I had it backwards! So I ripped it off, sewed it back on so the dots were going the right way, then made a second block. Have you ever heard of measure twice, cut once? Well, in quilting, you need to check two blocks, then make one quilt. 😀 My wall experience had spooked me, so I decided to take all the blocks I had made so far and put them up on the wall in the configuration I’d need them to go, just to be sure … and if I didn’t have those two fabrics backwards again!!! I need to mention here – ripping them off and sewing them back on would not have worked here except for the fact that I was working with batiks. The fun part of batik fabric is that there is no back and front to the fabric. The dye goes through to both sides so you can use either side. That made flipping these blocks around possible!

Once I finally got all my dots streaming the same way, I quickly whipped the rows together and voila – Sawtooth the block! I love that you can see the two focus fabrics interacting with each other much more in this block as there is less background fabric. The colours really are pretty. 10 out of 10, would totally make this block again. It’s a lot of effort, but I think it really looks nice.

Sawtooth The Block!

On a parting note, I still have one block left – the Tree of Life. I’ve been dealing with back pain this week due to a very old car accident from my college days that comes back to haunt me once in a while, so I was taking lots of breaks in the piecing process. I did manage to get all the HSTs made before calling it quits. I just need to cut them, press them open, and I’m ready to start piecing that tree!

~M