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.
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!
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.
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!
And appliqué. No, I take it back. Appliqué should fill your soul with unholy dread. Fear is too mild a feeling.
One of the reasons the Christmas Fig BOTM project was so easy to sideline were the next two blocks: Carolina Lily and the Triple Lily. They both had appliqué that could not be left out. The first was lots of little appliqué and the second was a big appliqué on curved pieces. Ohhhhh I did not want to start on those two blocks … so it only made sense to make those two blocks my UFO goals for February. Why just two blocks? Oh, I have reasons …
But first the blocks!! I decided to start on the Triple Lily block during Crazy Quilter’s monthly sewing retreat in January. I was very happily surprised that I was fussing over nothing!! The lily blooms were very fun to piece for starters. Because I’ve gotten to the end of the book, I was able to pick whatever fabric I wanted that I had enough scrap of. I decided to re-use the Rolling Stone block fabric because I wanted the blooms to be the same from a distance, but the same up close. I like how they look! When it came to making the stem (curved bias seams appliquéd on), it was so easy and took no time at all! I glued them to the fabric, then did a simple blanket stitch on both sides. I felt like a pro!! And I now had the confidence to move on to the scarier block – the Carolina Lily. As you can see, I still have to trim off the excess fabric before the Triple Lily is complete. The book said to trim it before assembling the block, but I figured it was better to leave it on and cut it to size afterwards.
That same evening, I started in on the Carolina Lily. I got the blooms and bloom base (whatever that part of a flower is called) all put together. I pinned the appliqué on the donkey (HAHA … ohhhh my jokes make me laugh … too bad they’re just funny to me). Then I called it a night and left the unholy dread portion for the next weekend. I mean – I’d done most of the work already, right? It would be a piece of cake!
And unholy dread, it was. Due to my overwhelming success with the curved biased appliqué, I decided to do a satin stitch again. Problem #1 – I did not stabilize anything. I’d love to say that I thought I didn’t need to, but the painfully honest truth is I plain forgot how necessary that is. I won’t ever forget again. Problem #2 – I got cocky. Hands up – who is surprised??? Well … I did not too bad for first half inch. Then the fabric started rolling up underneath itself while I simultaneously discovered I can’t go smoothly around a circle. It was … truly awful. I should have taken a picture, but I was so horrified by the end result that I started ripping it out before I finished cutting it off the sewing machine. You can see the holes below how far off the rails I went. Surprisingly, I was actually able to salvage the fabric and re-do it using the tried-and-true blanket stitch. Time will tell how well these little pieces hold up with use and washings, but for tonight’s post, I’m happy enough with the end product to call this block “Done”.
I decided to give myself a little break and do a quick, easy block to make myself feel like I went the extra mile this month. This is called the pineapple block. I simply LOVE how these colours turned out! I find this block mesmerizing. It makes me want to keep this quilt when I’m done … or maybe just this block? No M – don’t be selfish! You can’t keep all your favourites!
I’ve joined the Crazy Quilter’s UFO club this year. I’m not planning on taking any classes this year (OK fine I’ve already lied … I think I’m signed up for ONE class, but no more!!), so I figured I could sign up for the UFO club in that absence. Plus, I have a few UFOs that I want to get finished this year if possible. There’s there 3 BOTM classes from last year that I haven’t finished, 2 cut quilt tops that need to be assembled, a baby quilt, the Tiger quilt should really get finished up … and that isn’t including the growing stack of quilts that I have in my drawer that need to be quilted once I get a different sewing desk. I know there are a couple of others that I should get to (like my coral orange slices quilt), but my main focus will be the ones I listed here. First up – the Christmas Fig BOTM quilt!
I know I said that I got a lot more of this quilt done than I thought I did, but I also had a lot more left over than I thought. There are 6 blocks remaining before I can start to assemble it. One block I’ve already done – the Tree of Life – but I kept it as a wall hanging. I will have to re-make it for the quilt. I decided to do what I had done this summer with great success. I cut up the remaining block requirements, tucked them into individual bags, and put them in the corresponding pages of the book. Then I’ll be able to pull one out a day, get it done, and move on to the next. I think my first goal will just be to get all the blocks done and no more. If I have more time than expected, I’ll try to get the quilt top assembled as well! I still need a backing fabric for it … one thing at a time.
It was at this point that I realized that I had my list wrong. The most important goal this month is not the Christmas Fig quilt. It’s the baby quilt!!! You know … the baby that was born in NOVEMBER. I think it’s fine to give a baby quilt a little late, but more than a month starts getting … awkward. So we are switching gears. My first UFO club goal is the baby quilt! I sent my goal of getting the top finished off to CQ and started looking at what needed to be done. Since club due date is January 24th, I didn’t think that I would get the quilt 100% done in 2-ish weeks, so I just committed to the top. Please excuse the orange-y light – my sewing room is not well lit over by the pressing/cutting station and I’m using a yellow-light bulb in the pictures.
As you already know from my last post, I jumped right in and got started on the blocks! This quilt is going to be a little different than anything I’ve done so far, but it will be most similar to the Mile High Eagle quilt. I’ve taken a printed panel, cut it up into strips, and the goal is to make pieced block rows to sew between the strips. Hopefully it works out nicely. And if it’s a bit ugly … my friend had a boy, her second boy. I’m betting on the quilt getting use up and worn out, so it won’t matter if it’s a little bit ugly. 😉 I hope it won’t be, though. I got unreasonably excited about the colours I chose. Now it’s time to see if they will work out!
Turns out that I’m super motivated by due dates. No surprise there. I actually managed to get the quilt top almost completed in the first two weekends! 4 rows completed in Week 1, the last two more complicated rows completed Week 2. Look at that diamond block in the arrow (flying geese) row. Doesn’t that just pull the row together? I’m glad I re-did it, despite the headache it was causing.
This is when having a design wall really showed its value. I could put up all the rows on the wall and move them around to get the best layout of the pattern. First off, I decided to get rid of the pale blue panel strip. It just wasn’t adding anything to the quilt and it would be plenty long with just the pretty strips. The other advantage was that I could seen that I was roughly 1 block too long for most of the pieced rows. A few of them have different block sizes, so I’ll need to cut the row mid-block, but that’s fine. Getting the layout is very helpful at this stage!
Once I had the layout, I clipped all the rows together to start the final top piecing. My goal for Monday (pending a catastrophic event) is to get the top pieced and trimmed!! If I have time to baste, I’ll start quilting by the weekend. With any luck, I’ll actually have it quilted and bound by Sunday! It’s nice to be ahead of the curve 🙂
I actually got a lot more done than I thought I did this spring! Here’s where my projects currently stand:
FibreChick BOTM 2019-20: I was staying up-to-date with all Kim’s homework during classes. After the March shut-down, she decided to wait it out to see if things would open up quickly (a hope that I think most everyone shared at the time). However, it was not to be, so in June she emailed everyone to let us know that the remaining blocks would be available for pick-up. I did pick up the blocks, but my crazy summer/fall had just started, so these items are waiting for a finish. I’m keeping my new classes this year to a minimum – I know, I said that last year, but I mean it this time! – and instead, I’m joining a UFO club. You hand in $120 at the start, and each month that you meet your goals, you get $10 handed back. It’s an online club, so I can connect from my computer (which I LOVE). I think the rest of the blocks are going to be my first UFO commitment.
Crazy Quilter BOTM: I think I mentioned this one on my last blog entry before The Great Hiatus of 2020. It was a Christmas Fig BOTM that I was doing from a book. Surprisingly enough, this is one of the few things I worked on during the summer. I managed to keep up to date through the end of August … but more on that later. These are all the blocks I’ve made so far. I just have 4 more to make, then we’re done! All that will need to be done is to put them all together and add them to the quilting pile. I have to say, if you like reading blogs, check hers out. She’s a professional quilter based out of Toronto. I usually read her blogs in the morning on my coffee break because I like reading on my coffee break … and in the car … and at the beach … and in bed … okay, I’m a bookworm. Sue me!
FibreChick BOTM 2018-19: Speaking of on the quilting pile, I took time to piece all the peach/white blocks from last year! Whoo hoo! I think it looks good, but someone in this house has a weird take on the lightning block. If you see it, comment below. I think it’s just them playing some of the specifically themed computer games they play, but if everyone else sees it too, I may have to do something about that block. Anyways – it’s got batting, a backing, and it’s basted. It is currently folded up in a drawer and waiting for me to get around to quilting it this winter. I also have a little table runner to quilt. I know you’ve seen this pattern before, but I won this particular runner at a quilting bee, so the fabric was free and I got it already pieced. I just need to do the quilting! I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep it for myself for when I have a table again or if I’ll be gifting it. Probably for now, I’ll quilt it and tuck it away.
Completed projects: One of the fun little projects I finished this spring was a twister quilt! I borrowed a ruler from someone at quilt guild to make it. What you do first is assemble a quilt, usually made out of 4-patches. Then you take a ruler or template and cut the 4-patch quilt up. I know it sounds crazy, but because you cut it on an angle, you get these cute little “twisters”. Plus, it’s a quilt that looks super complicated even thought it’s super easy, which makes you look like a quilting super-star when you’re just starting out. I also re-upholster the kitchen chair that I use in my sewing room. I used old pillow shams from a long-since-departed quilt. I think it looks super cute! The colours should match my walls when I get around to painting them. It won’t last forever because the fabric is super-not durable, but for a homemade upcycle, it fits the bill! I intend to use it until we move to a new house. I’ll get a better sewing chair then. I also moved around my sewing room because … *drumroll* … I am using my sewing room as my work office for now. More on the that in the next blog post, but while it’s convenient to have my computer in my sewing room, it’s also cutting down on my sewing space and adding to my reluctance to sew. My upcoming projects may force me to overcome, that, though.
Projects on the table: I’ve already mentioned the baby quilt for December. I really want to start working on it. Half of it is super easy. I got a panel from Fabricland and I cut it into strips. I plan on making row blocks and sewing the panel strips between the blocks. I think it will look super cute! She already has one boy and she’s having a second one, so I think the two teddy bears are perfect. She doesn’t read this blog, so the secret is safe with you! The other work in progress is the quilt for my niece. Originally, I was going make her bed quilt out of Tula Pink (I did a whole post on that). I’ve also mentioned that she has seizures that aren’t 100% under control. Well, it sounds like she’s going to have to go back down to Toronto for more tests (a four-hour drive from us). In the past, she’s taken an old baby blanket with her, but my sister told me it’s getting too small for her and asked me to make her a new travel blanket. Of course I’m delighted too! I mentioned a long time ago that I had Peter Pan fabric stashed away for a special project. Well, the special project is here now. I’m making both my nieces quilts from the fabric. I’m using big blocks again to get it done quicker (I just finished cutting all the block last week!). It’s the same pattern and fabric, but I’m changing the block orders so they aren’t exactly the same. I’m also putting a different backing on each. Ideally, I’ll have them both done for mid-November (right between both their birthdays, one month apart) or for the Toronto appointment when they get a date. Now that they’re both cut out, I’ll focus on finishing one, then the other. The bed quilt can wait until next year.
There was one more project, but I’ll mention it in the next post. It’s going to be a bittersweet post, but I think I need the therapy of writing it all out. If you want to find out how my summer/fall went, it will be there. If you need to stick to the positives right now, I totally understand and recommend you just skip the next one. 🙂 Stay safe, stay happy, take care of your emotional state!
Did you see that?? We have a new catagory tag! UFO! 😀 After the last post, I deemed February “UnFinished Object” month. I’ve said from the start that I don’t want a big stack of UFO quilts, so I decided to at least get started on my list.
Item 1: The Happy Village.
The very first guild meeting was a demo and workshop by a newly local quilter who has been hosting these classes in a few major Canadian cities. The Happy Village is a tiny scrap-busting project where you make a city (usually your hometown) out of fabric. There is a method to doing it (fabric layers, background features, then houses, then roofs, then embellishments), but it’s mostly freedom of imagination. The quilter’s sample was absolutely darling and several people made lovely villages. In typical M style, a colour bukaki village was promptly constructed, complete with a strawberry sky and a Pizza Hut. My tablemates were no help. As soon as they realized how excited sugar-high M gets when finding weird bits of usual fabric, they were tossing gold-embossed and glow-in-the-dark fabric bits at me. AND I LOVED IT! 😀 I know that my little village doesn’t really look classically beautiful like everyone else’s, but it totally suits me. The white dots in the strawberry sky are actually glow-in-the dark specks, so the sky and the fireflies on the hill light up! It’s perfect. It technically falls into the UFO category because it’s been sitting on my work table for over a month, all pinned in place. I finally took an evening to quilt down the tulling on top, add a binding, and secure a sleeve. A sleeve goes on the back of the quilt with a gap through it to hang on a rod – like curtains on a curtain rod. That’s how most wall-mounted quilts are hung. All I have left is to insert a rod and find a place to proudly hang it in my sewing room. 🙂 UFO#1 = DONE!
UFO #2 – The De La Luna tote.
We have already glossed over my love for Tula Pink fabric and for the De La Luna fabric in particular. Here’s how much I love it – even though I already have a full meter of the whole fabric line, I simply had to pick up another half-meter curated bundle from Royal Quilts when Alexandra had it on sale last year. After looking at the fabric multiple (MULTIPLE) times, I finally decided to make a bag with it. I cut out the face fabrics with a particular goal in mind for the bag, the piled all the pieces on my spare fabrics pile and moved on to slightly more urgent projects (wedding quilt*COUGH*). It’s been sitting there ever since. Now that February is UFO month, I reached back to this project to complete it. Since plucking it from obscurity, I developed a new vision of the bag. Want to see?
Step 1: Sew the face blocks together to make the front and back of the bag. I considered mixing up the turquoise and purple face fabrics, but I couldn’t settle on a mixture that I liked, so I made one side turquoise and the other purple. I was initially going to sew the faces together with the narrow sashing between them, but I needed a little more width on the bag, so I sewed back in the section I had cut out from between the faces. It’s sort of dumb when I say it like that, but I think the effect is actually very striking. For one thing, it makes the ghosted eye stand out of the middle panel. If (read: WHEN, since I only used half the Royal Quilt bundle so far) I make a second bag, I will switch the colours on the middle panel so the purple eye is on the turquoise side and the turquoise eye is on the purple side. I didn’t even think about that until I was sewing the last face section together. I have more eye strips set aside, so I did the fabric switch on the last block and it looked AMAZING … but I didn’t want to rip out everything I’d done so far, so I left it as is! 😀
In the span of a week, I got the bag almost completely made. The side panels, while neat, caused a little bit of havoc because I don’t have a pattern for this. I’m making it up as I go, so I jury-rigged the installation. It came out fine and I learned some lessons for the next time. I have the cross-body strap cut out and ready to go – I’m just waiting on some rainbow-coloured hardware I ordered from Emmeline Bags (PERFECT, right???). This bag really should have two handles embedded in the front and back … however, I really don’t like bag handles. They keep slipping off my narrow shoulders, especially in the winter. I’d rather carry the bag cross-body so it doesn’t fall off, so strap it is! There are inner “pocket” sections that I sewed in using a special decorative stitch. Do you see what it is?? A moth!!! Like the death-head moths on the outer bag! I thought that was the coolest!! 😀 Also, when I free-motion stitched the outside, I thought it was neat to stitch around the moths, even in the black parts. Maybe that’s just me … and that’s okay too! Even though the strap isn’t actually sewed on, everything else is absolutely done, so I’m calling UFO #2 = DONE!
UFO #3 – My VERY FIRST project! I bought a half-meter of this flannel when I first started to quilt so I could practice free-motion quilting. I kept the first one because … well, it was my very first quilt, and I did a lot of little different styles, so not suitable for babies. I wanted to re-make the blocks to try a different visual design. This week was quilt camp weekend, so I did it at camp on RED! 😀 I love RED. And she’s so popular with the ladies! Anyways, back to the quilt. I really like the way it turned out! Only problem – it’s slightly too narrow for a baby quilt for guild. I have two options. If Fabricland still has this fabric (HIGHLY unlikely after 2 years), I can buy enough to make a final row. If not, I’m going to use the complimenting brown border fabric to expand it and put something different on the back. I’ll have this done by Tuesday and take it in to guild next Monday, so I’m calling UFO #3 = Done!
UFO #4 – The orange peel quilt.
Yup – I jumped back into the orange peel quilt. It’s been weighing on my conscience. This is supposed to be MY quilt for my side of the bed. I boxed it to work on other people’s quilts, but I don’t want to keep it in a box indefinitely. Plus, I want it on my bed!!! So it’s come out of retirement.
Part of the reason it got shelved was the curved piecing . I know I spoke about this before and I don’t think I was too negative about it at the time … but the truth is that the curved piecing got to me. I was really struggling with it and it shows. That first block looks very rough and the back is a boiling hot mess. :S I’m pretty sure I tore the fabric in the middle point during the 6th or 7th attempt to piece it, so I’ll be FMQing the crap out of it to keep it from coming apart when I assemble it. That is NOT the correct way to fix this problem, but I’m very very short on both the coral and the black fabric, so I have no margin for error. Anyways – problems with curved piecing were scaring me, so it went to UFO jail for a while.
I decided to take it to quilt camp. It’s very possibly the last quilt camp weekend for a bit, so I figured I’d take the orange peel to work on. I work slower at quilt camp with all the socializing I do, but I’m also more relaxed about my work, so I thought that might help. OMG … if you’re a newbie quilter like me, get into a quilting group! If it’s a guild with quilting days, that’s fine, but attending this quilt camp (some places call them “quilt retreats”) where you’re sitting with people who have been quilting for years is invaluable! The lady who was sitting on my right (coincidentally, she’s part of my quilt guild and we’ve been slowly getting better acquainted) saw I was attempting curved piecing and gave me a couple of very simple tips. Frickin’ witchcraft, I’m telling you! The curved piecing is going together like magic! There are no puckers, no flat spots, and it presses down perfectly! Nancy, I absolutely love you!! THANK YOU!!!!
Now, my pieces aren’t exactly square and the center is HUGE because of all the meeting seams, but that’s mostly due to the crappy template I’m using. I’d get a plastic template to do this again in the future, but for now I just want to get this done. I’ll hide the wiggly edges in the piecing when I put the blocks together. Since I’ll only get 40″x40″ out of the fabric I have, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that Stacey over at Troll Brother’s Quilts is having a sale and found a couple of these coral bundles left over from last year. Picking up one more bundle will get me to 50″x70″. It’ll be slightly smaller than the twin quilt I originally intended for our double-sheet sleeping arrangement, but it’ll be miles better than a lap quilt and I’m short! 🙂 UFO#4 = moving into production status. Good enough! I won’t get it done in a weekend, but I can cut and piece it over the summer when I need a break from the niece quilt. Hopefully, I’ll have a bed quilt by the fall! Yay M!!! 😀
I have BOTM work to get done and a guild demonstration to prep for, but I’m happy with the work I did this month. 🙂 Come on, March! I know you’re hiding spring and I want to see it!