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

New Skills

One of my Block-of-the-Month classes is actually a Row-of-the-Month class. It’s hosted at a local library by The Cottage Quilter and we’re doing the Piper Girls’ row-by-row sampler.

This week, we were assigned the pinwheel row and some homework. Check out my pretty pinwheels! I’ve also included the other rows we have done to date.

The pinwheel row was actually Row #4. Kelly (our instructor) didn’t want to assign Row #3 until next week because it’s a new skill for most of the class (yaaay!! I’m not the only n00b!!) and she wants us to practice at home before doing it for real on the quilt. It’s called machine applique. It’s “machine” because you do it with your sewing machine and not by hand (which is what many people prefer). What is applique, you ask?

Applique is when you take a piece of fabric, cut out a design, and stitch it on to your quilt top. A lot of quilters make large portions of their quilts this way. I’ve never seen the appeal of it. I like doing piecing, not applique. And yes – I did do one bit of machine applique when I first started (as you can see above). My first issue was that the applique was a star. I have always had problems making star shapes and it has always bothered me, even as a small child. It looks wonky to me and I don’t like it. My second issue was that this was done back in … September? Maybe? I was still very new at quilting and I think I took on a little too much too soon.

I decided that my class practice is going to be a for-real practice … maybe. 😀 I got this beautiful fabric from Troll Brothers to make an orange peel quilt. As soon as I get around to picking out a background fabric, I intend to start! The problem with the orange peel design is that 90% of the patterns are an applique pattern. You can do a pieced orange peel block, but there aren’t a lot of tutorials because it’s curved piecing and I think most people prefer applique to curved piecing.

I have to veer off a bit at this point to talk about acquiring patterns. I try (whenever possible) to purchase a pattern instead of just looking at the design and doing it myself. It’s not that I can’t do that (and for husband’s quilt and niece’s quilt, they are my designs), but if I’m going to use someone else’s creativity to make a project, I’d like to compensate them for the effort. Plus, they’ve done all the maths to figure out the right sizes of things so you don’t wind up with pieces that don’t fit together.. 😀 I’ve been doing this more frequently with my knitting projects. The nice thing is that yarn patterns are usually only a few dollars on Ravelry.com. I only make … sorry, start (see last blog post) … a couple of things a year, so it doesn’t break the bank. Quilting patterns are different. The “professional” patterns can be quite expensive. You can often get blocks for free, but doing applique or curved piecing requires having a template of some sort. Ordering acrylic templates for this pattern has been a huge pain in the butt for me since the only places currently offering the orange peel templates are out of the US of A and the UK. I absolutely refuse to pay a foreigner’s tax (aka the import fees or duty) on something someone in Canada probably has for sale but I just can’t find. After 3 days of searching, I finally found an extremely old free paper pattern that has the templates included! In the spirit of doing the old thing, I cut out some cardboard using the paper pattern as a template and pulled out some test fabric to figure out what I want to do.

First, I made the curved piecing version. I don’t mind sewing curved piecing that much, but my scrap fabric decision made pressing the fabric a bit onerous. You’re supposed to press out away from the peel. Since my peel was a very dark fabric and my background was a very light, see-through fabric, there would be serious ghosting happening. Ghosting happens when you can see the seam right through the fabric – this is why most quilters press with the seam under the dark side – less chance for ghosting. When I do my quilt, though, I’ll be using a darker background fabric, so this won’t be a problem in the official version. The other issue was the cardboard template itself. Because I’m using a rotary cutter, I have to be very careful that I’m not accidentally trimming the cardboard. Not only does this dull the blade and make a mess, but it changes the size of the template over time. The last block might end up smaller than the first block. When I go to make my quilt, I will either need to invest in acrylic templates or mark the shapes from the cardboard template with a pen before cutting along the pen line.

With the curved test out of the way, we move on to the applique test. The interesting part is that these blocks will end up a little bigger because I’m not losing 1/4″ on each side of each piece to a seam allowance. It’s good to keep in mind.

I cut out the orange peel from scraps first, then I cut a couple of squares to use. I was going to go with scrap squares, but I thought it would be fun to play with the opposite dynamics by cutting squares from the original matching fabrics. I did make a mistake, though. You have to attach fabric stabilizer to the back of your applique pieces to give it some rigidity during sewing and to help keep the edges from fraying if you’re doing a raw-edge applique (more on that later). Usually, you attach the stabilizer to the fabric, then cut (so you don’t see the white stabilizer showing). I forgot to do this part, so I had to attach the cut pieces to stabilizer, then cut around the shapes with scissors. It wasn’t bad this time, but making this same mistake with the star applique was the part of the reason it started looking wonky. I was very careful about setting the pieces in the dead center with the same amount of background space on the mirrored sides. This isn’t super crucial because you can re-cut the block properly square afterwords, but I’m aiming for right the first time.I loaded up my bobbin with dark green and selected a yellow embroidery thread for the top. I’ve used it a little bit in the past – it comes up as a golden colour. It might not work out, but this is a test piece and I wanted to know how this thread will hold up on future projects (since I’ve got 6 spools of the stuff to use).

Note: I should have posted this blog last week in keeping with my one-a-week resolution, but this was as far as I got before my busy week and away-weekend ended my spare time. I did consider posting just this much, then decided to do a two-blog week so I could finish out this story. 🙂

My sewing machine has preset stitches specifically for machine applique. I didn’t know that when I made the star piece, so I made my life a little harder by having to manually set up my stitch type. This time, I just used my presets and it made life so much easier! I have three sizes for an applique satin stitch. In the samples, you will see me use sizes medium and small.

I started with the green-on-plaid piece under the medium satin stitch. The pictures should show why this is called a satin stitch – it looks soft and shiny when it’s done. After running for an inch or two with the default settings, I tightened up the stitch width to give it a bit more of that satiny sheen. In machine applique, the big challenge is points and turning corners. From the very limited reading I did on this (because why wouldn’t I want to learn the hard way with no pointers?? 😉 ), the two main ways of turning corners is to slowly walk around the point or to stitch slightly past the point, stitch backwards, turn the corner, stitch back again to get a sharpish point, then continue forwards. With green-on-plaid, I decided to try the walkaround method. From what I understand, the key to this method is making sure you always have your needle stop on the applique-side of the stitch, turn the fabric slightly, make another two stitches so you land back at the same spot on the applique side, and re-adjust again. You keep doing this until you are completely around the corner. As you can see, I needed a couple of attempts to get it looking okay.

Next up was the plaid-on-green with the small satin stitch. This was much harder as my margin for error with the edges of the applique piece was much tighter. With the medium stitch, all I had to do was make sure that the edge was somewhere between the two 1/8″ marks. This also allowed me to make a more gradual curve if my cuts were a little choppy (putting the interface on after cutting the shape only makes this worse). With the smaller stitch, I had to follow my cuts exactly. There are a couple of places where you can tell I didn’t schwoop very nicely in my cuts, but whatever – practice pieces! I also tried the back-and-forward corner method for the points this time. I think, in some ways, it actually works best with the small satin stitch because the tiny size hides the stitches a bit. In other ways, not so much – because stitch is so small, the edge of the applique was fraying a bit as I attempted to sink my stitches into the edge without having the applique fabric show on both sides of my stitches. At the corner, this fraying gets worse because I’m going back over it two extra times. Time will tell if the applique stands ups with the small stitch.

Look at me! I can machine applique!

My two completed looks! I had already decided before stitching that I didn’t like the green-on-plaid near as well. The patterned piece just looks better as a focal point. I’m still glad I went ahead with it, though, because I learned something else. When stitching on the applique, the background fabric got a little warped. It’s not bad and it will almost completely vanish once the the block is stitched in place, but it is a lot more obvious that it’s happening when you use a pattern fabric as your background fabric. Learning things! I also think I prefer the look of the small stitch over the look of the medium stitch as it starts to take emphasis away from the applique. I can’t even begin to imagine how the “big” satin stitch would turn out! I want to make two more of these blocks so I can make a completed orange peel block – maybe I’ll try the big satin stitch on one of them, just to see!

Orange peel quilt colors … so much in love!!!

Finally, I’m also glad I waited until after I got home before posting this because … I found the background fabric for my orange peel! Won’t it look nice with the charcoal grey?? I was in Ottawa, Ontario for the weekend visiting a friend and I made them pull over at a local fabric store (Sew For It) to see if I could find something. Good news – I found something! Bad news – there was only maybe 1/2 a meter left on the bolt. Not very much at all, maybe not even enough. I have to measure it out and see. I took what they had left just in case – worst case scenario, I’ll stash it and get something else. Oh darn. 😀 Because there’s so little of it, I will definitely be doing the curved piecing over the applique because I won’t have fabric to spare hiding under the orange peel. It was still worth doing the applique work just to learn how to do it. 🙂 No time is wasted time if you learn things!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing

Scrappy Bits and Pieces

Remember Ugly Row?

Ugly top row 😀

You may want to keep Ugly Row in mind. I’ll be referring to Ugly Row whenever I reference this quilt.

The two pinks are slightly different tones

The next row is called Holding Hands. I thought I’d take the chance to play with three colours, two of which are very close (we’ll call them medium pink and dark pink). The cutting went as follows: 2.5″ squares, 1.5″ squares, 2″x1.5″ rectangles, and 1″x1.5″ rectangles. Once all the cutting was done, I did not have enough for one last 1″x1.5″ rectangle of medium pink. No scraps big enough, no discarded pieces big enough, nothing. Sooo … I had to decide how I was going to replace the piece.

I briefly considered using the Fairy Lights scrap from the last blog post, but it was just way too different to be used in this block. My option was to use one of the dark pink squares or a new light pink square (that’s 3 pinks, for those of you counting) from my stash. I didn’t include a picture of the dark pink as it didn’t show up in the image. Using the dark pink made it look a last minute fill-in (Can’t have that!! 😀 ). The light pink looked quite nice, even though it’s significantly lighter. I decided to swap out the center square for the light pink and cut down the existing medium square into a smaller one to match the layout.

The first of three batches of holding hands. I thought the mix of light and dark pinks looked good at this stage, so I continued to make up the blocks. The piecing media of choice today was Youtube, watching how-to videos by Barnyard Bees. Husband decided on a new hobby for this summer – beekeeping! We’re going to attempt to make our own honey out at our wooded property this summer. I’m getting pretty excited!

Remember when I was talking about the design wall ideas and I had a brainwave?

Surprise!!

Flannel on the clothes line!!!

I bought a hanging design wall by Fons and Porter. It’s meant to be strung up on a curtain rod and hung on the wall and is usually purchased for travelling or going on retreat. It’s also a lot cheaper than buying a piece of flannel of the same size, which was my original plan. I thought the clothes line was a rather clever, unique idea … turns out, most of the women in the guild used this as their starter wall . 😀 Oh well – nothing new under the sun. The line can drape closer to the deck, so I can weigh it down on windy days. On rainy days, I’ll just have to make do in the house or wait for the weather to turn nice again. And when the sewing room gets its coat of paint and mini renovation, I’m going to make this the window blind! Two birds, one stone!

I laid out my blocks and played around with the look of the mixed pinks on the row. I think this layout will work, although that light pink extra block really stands out. I’m still hoping for a miracle piece to appear in my stash …

Row #4 – done!

And all together! The new row was a smidge small, making me think that I’d messed up by sewing my seams too large or something … Nope! I tucked the blocks in my pocket when I came in from outside and one block stuck to the flannel lining of my coat pocket. 😀 At least it was the end piece! I didn’t have to pull it all apart to fit the block in! Lining this row up with the others makes me think that Ugly Row isn’t so ugly after all – having the same colours show up in other rows in the quilt makes it fit a lot better. Maybe Ugly Row will make it to the final quilt?

Light pink extra square on the end

What do you think of this project so far? Does the light pink square stand out too much? Do the medium and dark pink blend or clash? Does Ugly Row really just need to be eliminated? FYI – this quilt might just end up super ugly, despite everything we try. The next three available colours in my scrap protation are red, black, and white … scrappy-looking quilt indeed!!

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing

A Story About Yarn UFOs

That was not supposed to be the title, but this blog entry earned it.

I’ll explain.

Back when I first started sewing … a year ago … on my birthday in January, funnily enough … the very first thing I made was a pillow case. The class was offered by a local online fabric store (now closed) and hosted at our local yarn store, Stix and Stones. In case you were wondering, yes, I knit (*cough*CROCHET!!) as well. I have … three? … yes, three projects on needles right now. I keep telling myself that I have to finish the oldest project before starting anything new (two years and counting … 😥 ), but I keep wanting to do something different! I think that’s why I’m so focused on finishing what I start quilt-wise instead of having a ton of projects in boxes. The UnFinished Objects (UFOs) can really weigh on you!

ANYWAY … rabbit hole exited … my first project was a pillow case. I had literally never ever touched a sewing machine before this class. I did try to get Red, my mum’s old sewing machine, running during my honeymoon, but that failed for a couple of reasons. Reason #1 – never.EVER. get a puppy on the first day of your honeymoon. You parents out there – remember your newborn? The first few weeks (more like months … for some of you poor poor souls, years) were my first two weeks with a puppy. Up every two hours to pee, like clockwork, and absolutely no rush about doing the business (unless, of course, it’s my fault we didn’t get outside right away – then puddles abound!). I would literally stay up long enough in the morning to make sure my new husband was out of bed and watching the little monster before passing out for 4-5 hours. Even he admits that the Snowdog ruined our honeymoon – and he’s a guy!! They don’t usually grasp these concepts! Back to the sewing machine … Reason #2 sewing failed was because the sewing machine had (I found out much, much later while talking to my mother) never been cleaned in all the years she owned it. She got it before I was born!!!! And I’m over 30!!!! Poor Red! She was so packed full of lint, I was pulling out solidified wads with my nail file. When we got home from the horrormoon ( 😀 ), off Red went to The Sewing Machine for a cleaning. By the time I got her back, I had moved on to better things (the two-years-in-progress yarn project, ironically) and Red was tucked into the cupboard for a later sewing attempt, which turned out to be the pillow case class last year.

See? The train of thought always comes back to the station!! It just sometimes takes the scenic route through my head doing so. Poor husband – the long rambling boring stories are the bane of his existence. 😀

Back on track. Project #1, in January 2018 – pillow case. Definitely an excellent learning project for sewing n00bs (pronounced n-oo-bs, as in newbies – oh, by the way, I’m also a computer nerd by trade. “n00bs” is a nerdy computer gaming term. I know – I’m all over the map today). Project #2, in February 2018 – a lined drawstring bag designed by Jeni Baker. The class was hosted by the same person who taught the pillow case class and she walked us through the basics of actually creating something (verses sewing some straight lines and pulling everything inside out). Again ironically, once the bag got home, I immediately dropped a knitting project into it that I was having trouble completing. The project is still there. Any guesses what that was??

Oh screw it … I’m taking a picture. You get three mentions on the blog, you deserve to have your picture took.

It’s hard to see in the picture, but it’s eventually going to be a Wonder Woman shawl. The pattern (by Carissa Browning) is available on Ravelry. It will be beautiful … when (let’s be honest … IF) it ever gets done.

At this point, I changed the title of the blog entry. I really should be starting the rest of this on a new entry, but I can’t justify posting a yarn project in a quilting blog, so on we go to what was supposed to be the point of this update.

I ordered some scrap cuts of some fabric I love (but am too faint of heart to cut into) from Troll Brothers Quilt Design back at the start of the year. It came in the same package as the Tula Pink Pinkerville collection. The scrap cuts come from the Fairy Lights collection by Lewis & Irene fabrics. I had originally thought of using this line for my niece’s quilt when I get time next winter, but then Pinkerville released and I couldn’t help myself. 😀 I decided to make another lined drawstring bag for my niece, since I was going to be seeing a lot of her while staying with my parents. Just for clarification – I only have the two nieces. The oldest is 4 and the youngest is 16 months. In the future, I intend to spread my love (and treasures) more evenly, but the 16mth old doesn’t understand gift-giving yet. I made sure to spend lots of one-on-one time with her, which I think makes a bigger impact at this stage. She did get one of the two dolly quilts I made last year and I intend to make her quilt after completing her sister’s. I know, I know – I don’t need to make excuses to you, but I like to maintain clear air. 🙂

The scrap cuttings were the perfect size for the project. I think I have a 2″ square of each left for MY scraps pile. The larger print became the body of the bag and the pink-with-white-polkadot fabric was the cuff around the top where the drawstring runs through. As this is a lined drawstring bag, I rooted around in my scraps bin for something that would work for the liner. I found an antique-looking length of thin white cotton. Remember the Ugly Row fabric? This came from the same pile and I never used it. Who ever uses off-white, especially old off-white? It makes a perfect no-one-ever-sees-it lining for a drawstring bag, though! And there was lots to fit!

Did you notice the key word there? WAS. Yeah … There was lots until I cut it wrong …

The first cut was a strip of fabric, 12.5″ wide by 21″ long. It was to be sub-cut in half to make two pieces that are 12.5″ x 10.5″. I successfully cut the first long strip, then moved on to cutting the next two pieces. I cut them one at a time, lining up my ruler and making the cut each time. After cutting both pieces, I thought, “Huh, those look kinda small …”

LOOK AT THAT. I lined it up at eleven and a half and cut it. TWICE. These are relatively big pieces to come out of a scrap pile!! I could have smacked myself! There was no way that the remaining strip would work, it just looked too small, but I measured it anyways …

IT’S BARELY BIG ENOUGH. I usually cut 0.5-1 inch big so I can square off the fabric properly, but I’d already been given a lucky star, so no more wishes from me! FYI – You’re not supposed to use the measurements on your mat to cut because they aren’t accurate enough. I know that. But they’re accurate enough for a rough measurement of how much you need/have.

Now that everything was cut to the CORRECT size, it was a relatively simple job to sew the strips together. Last time, I found marking off the bag opening and making sure the drawstring channels weren’t sewn shut to be a challenge and I thought it was a bit tricky this time too. Not as tricky as properly sewing the flat bottom corners, evidently.

Flat-bottom bags, you make my sanity go bye-bye

Of course, I sewed the right side wrong AND cut it. I did this on both the liner and the exterior. Way to go M! By this point, I just wanted to get it done – I still had to pack for my trip and get to bed. Packing was extra tricky since I was taking the bus and leaving husband the car (I would be gone all week and would be using one of my parents’ cars while visiting). Thankfully, this flat bottom is fixable. See the square marked on the fabric in the picture? I just had to pick out the stitches, pinch the square together at the corner marked, and re-sew. The only annoying thing is that the square didn’t perfectly line up on both sides of the liner. Usually, when the corner isn’t clipped, you just get it as close as you can and sew it to look like the left side. It took a couple of tries, but I got it! All that was left was to flip the bag inside out, make the drawstring, and thread it through!

What a pretty bag for a princess girl who’s favourite colour is pink!
Want to know the real reason I wanted this fabric in particular for her special bag?

IT’S GLOW IN THE DARK!!! I’m telling you, it does not get much cooler than that.

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Creative Solutions

We are having a little family crisis, so I’ve been home a grand total of 10 hours this week. No quilting got done, but the ironing board got a face lift!

I feel like this quilting blog is turning into a home making blog …

What I didn’t realize when I made the changes to the bins and ironing table setup is that the iron rest was facing the wall. I didn’t think about it because I wouldn’t have enough space to extend it, so I just ignored it.
Fun fact: When you iron, the board moves up and down just a smidge and the feet shimmy across the floor, typically in a reverse motion into the wall …

I was getting massive streaks on the wall where the metal was transferring onto the wall. Since the wall isn’t primed or painted (just drywall mud), it picks up marks super easily. The result was lovely iron-grey streaks all over the wall.

See how close? And that’s after I cleaned off the worst smudges …

I picked up a roll of window heat-proofing foam a while ago to use in my bags. I couldn’t find any foam stabilizer at Fabricland (although I now suspect that I can get some at The Sewing Machine because they offer baggineering classes – yes that’s a thing!!) and wanted something padded for making camera lens cases that never got made. I’m going to need them again this year, so that might show up on the blog. Ohhhh and I’m going to need a new purse … hmmm … I’m adding that to my list. Therapeutic, this blogging thing!

Window seal. 😀 There’s an alternate use for everything!

I cut a smidge off the roll and attached it to the iron holder. I used cotton string to help adhere it to the rail underneath and a couple of straight pins to lock it into the fabric cover on top. I don’t want anything too permanent as I’ll probably have to wash it down the road. Or replace it – evidently, Neiko has been happy-kneading the ironing board when he sits up there in the sunshine. For those of you who do not have cats, they knead things with their claws when they’re happy. It’s both cute and SUPER annoying. 😛

I’m glad I didn’t make it too secure because I’m evidently not done with this. First thing I did after setting this up is accidentally run over it with the hot iron. I knew this was going to happen, but thought I’d just be extra careful. I should have known … melted plastic smeared all over the bottom of the iron. I didn’t even notice until it transferred on to the cloth of my project – double joy! 😛 I have a scrap bit of grubby fabric spread over it right now (the fabric hung out in my pocket for the better part of two months during colour matching sprees, so it got somewhat irreparably sullied).

I did manage to make one thing before heading out to the family homestead, but that will get its own blog post next week as I was my clumsy self and botched it a bit. At least the snow is coming down! I swear we’ve lost 2 feet of snow in the last 3 weeks and a foot of that disappeared in the last 4 days. Spring is FINALLY coming!! 😀

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Distracted Again …

Oh, it’s good to be distracted again!
I sorta kinda thought my quilting mojo had gone
It never had vanished, it’s just moving on …

Muppets Take Manhattan, creative liberties taken (in case you were wondering).

As you may have noticed from my last couple entries, I was starting to get frustrated with the process. I simply had no drive to do the quilting piecing I thought I needed to do. Oh, once the piecing was done, I was happy to have done it … but the process getting there was aggravating. I’ve learned through it that this is a hobby. If I don’t feel like doing it, I probably shouldn’t do too much of it. It just becomes work and that becomes stressful, not enjoyable, and then I avoid my sewing room. I don’t want to avoid my sewing room! I love my little room! That means I need to let myself do some of my fun sewing for a while. I think we all know what that means …

TIGER QUILT TIME!!!

I managed to get the other two colours cut and pieced (totaling 4 pieces each) and get the cutting done for another round. I need 9 blocks of each for the baby quilts I was originally planning to do. After the 9 each colour (27 total) are done, I’m going to build a planning wall and start playing with the blocks to see if we’re sticking with the baby quilt plan or making an M quilt. 🙂 I deserve a quilt too!!! (studiously ignores the large pile of De La Luna fabric I purchased specifically for an M quilt). It’s a little nerve-wracking, cutting into the middle of the fabric for the tiger faces and leaving big holes in the fabric. I have to be aware that I’ll be cutting more of these faces out and try not to take any extra. It’s a challenge – a fun challenge!

After piecing all the blocks, I laid them out on the bed to play around with making them into a large quilt. This is when I realized the bed is no longer a useful place to do this for several reasons.

1. We have separate bedding. I know this sounds very strange, but we both sleep much better if we have our own pile of blankets. That is the main reason the husband quilt is the husband’s quilt – a very large twin quilt. Having two sets of sheets and blankets on the bed make the terrain very uneven for laying out piecing.
2. I sleep with a body pillow. And not just any body pillow – a massive U-shaped pregnancy pillow. Husband bought it for Christmas for me a couple of years ago and I am IN LOVE with it! It replaced the 5-6 pillows that used to do the same thing (Husband would refer to it as the M barricade 😀 ). It makes my side of the bed an insurmountable pillow mountain.
3. Golddurn cats. The cat hideout is the bed. It’s too high for Snowdog the Wimp Dog to jump down from (it’s really not, but he thinks it is), so he won’t climb onto it after the cats because he knows we’ll leave him up there until we’re good and ready to rescue him. 😀 I don’t mind the kitty snuggles at night – they love to curl up at my feet. But dare I try to use the bed as a table for any reason – quilt piecing, filing sorting, laundry sorting, outfit planning – Neiko is in the middle of it, whining and crying and looking for the absolutely most obnoxious place to lay down on.

For these reasons, I’m going to try to figure out how to make a fold-able or a modular design wall. What’s a design wall, you ask? Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself! It’s usually a piece of styrofoam backed by a thin pressure board (also known as “plywood”) for stability and covered with flannel. Some of you old-timey Sunday School attendees might remember the Sunday School teacher using something like this to make pictures of the Bible story she was telling. A quick Google tells me this is actually called Flannelgraph … who knew??

There are so many ideas for these walls, including retractable (think of a pull-down window blind) or curtained. I’m going to have to do some reading up and see what works!! I can’t use anything that needs to be bolted to the wall. We want to sell our little house when Husband is finished renoing, so I’m keeping the holes to a minimum!

I totally meant to try this with the purple tigers in the middle – it has elements of both the other colourways in it – but I completely forgot. 😀 I like the idea of having pink in the middle though. It’s a warm break between the two cooler colours.

The next series of blocks should not take me long to finish at all, so hopefully by next blog, I’ll some ideas for them. If we’re lucky, I might even have a design wall of some sort … wait … I just had an epiphany … OHHHHHH THIS COULD BE FUN!

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of Auntie M’s quilts!! (You always leave the episode on a cliffhanger, right? 😉 )

~M

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

Paying the Taxman

Sometimes, it’s not all fun and games. Sometimes, we just have buckle down and do the things that need doing before getting the playtime.

I signed up for two block-of-the-month programs at the local quilt shops – one through FibreChick and one through The Cottage Quilter. The FibreChick BotM (Block-of-the-Month) is every third Saturday. The Cottage Quilter BotM is every fourth Thursday. In order to get the block for the next month, you have to bring your completed block to class (both will accept a photo of it through email if you cannot make class, but the photo must be submitted before the class is over) or you pay a fee (I think 5$?) to get the next block. As I’ve stated before, I’ve had a couple of close calls with the FibreChick blocks, occasionally getting them done just a couple of days prior to class. Starting in January, my quilt guild decided to host a BotM learning session at each meeting (first Monday of the month). It is not mandatory to participate with a completed block, but why wouldn’t you do it if (like me) you are very early on in your learning curve?

If you’re counting, that means M has three blocks (or block rows in some cases) to make each month. This last-minute block making isn’t going to cut it at this point, so I’ve set a goal for myself. The goal is to have the blocks completed one week after the class is taught. Since the sessions are usually spread out with a week between each, this gives me plenty of time to do the project without getting a production backlog. I always have the option to drop the ball on the quilt guild blocks without penalty, but I’d rather not do that (although I did totally forget to take said completed row to the last guild meeting because I’m a dumb-dumb – it was even sitting on the counter by the door, for crying out loud! No excuse!).

I did have a bit of a backlog this week due to the Grandma quilt cutting carnage of last week. I had two quilt guild blocks (an optional extra row was offered the first week) and the FibreChick block had just been assigned.

My “chores”

I got cracking on the FibreChick block first. I was very excited about this block because it meant using my new rotating mat!!! Whoo hoo! Plus, it’s a bordered 4 patch that we have to cut up and sew back together – I love these!! 🙂 As long as I don’t make a mistake cutting it, that is … If I have extra fabric, I really like doing these. It’s a bit nerve-wracking with the FibreChick blocks because she supplies the fabric, so if I screw up, it’s Frankenstein block time! I think next year, I’m going to lobby for an OOPS bundle to be offered at additional cost – just a fat quarter of the selected fabrics for OOPSIES!! 😉

I just love spinning my centers. They’re the corners where at least 4 block corners meet. Look at all those spun block centers!!! So pretty!! (yes I know I’m boring … moving on)

The quilt guild row-by-row is using scraps. They give us the pattern, we make the rows our of our stashes. My first row (rail fence blocks) was SO. TERRIBLY.UGLY. I’m trying to scrap bust!!! Maybe I should give up on that fabric … I got it through an auction and I’m trying to use it all, but yeck. It’s too bad too because I did some fussy cutting to get all the children facing the right way. I did screw up the blocks, though … maybe it looks funny because it’s too small? The second row (stair step blocks) turned out really well! One of the things that Kelly focused on at the guild meeting was checking your fabrics. The secret to these are not necessarily finding complimenting fabrics, but focusing on different colour weights (read: dark/light shades) of fabrics. That might be part of the problem with my first row – it’s a bit too blendy. Even though these are both cool colours, I made sure one was dark and one was medium light – and look at how much nicer it looks!

I kept building on that theme with the third row (doughnut hole blocks). I decided at the meeting that night that I wanted to use these two fabrics for this pattern, but it wasn’t until I started cutting that I thought I’d try tossing in that hot pink. It is a completely different tone than the other two, but I figured in worst case, I’d just have two ugly rows. It could not have turned out better!! Look at how pretty that looks! And that hot pink really pops in the centers! I might re-do the first row with different fabric if I have a slow time (or at the end of the instructional series). I might need to invest in more colour solids bundles in my future – just plain colour blocks are a beautiful look without adding printed fabrics to them.

I’m starting to get a little drained in my work, though … I need a way to find some energy. And a cutting table is someday in my future – my poor back aches after bending over for an hour straight to cut fabric. I decided to try to break my funk by buying some fabric for curtains! Off I went to Fabricland on Member’s Day to get some fabric. Little did I know that this is the busiest day at our branch all year. There’s parking for 8-10 cars out front, an alley around the back, and about 5-6 staff parking spots in the back. I’ve never seen more than 7 cars out front and thought those were busy days. WELL. Parking lot full to bursting, parking all along the alley, and 7 cars squeezed into the back lot. It was absolutely mental! I swear I saw half the guild there that day. I only got to speak to a couple of them because I got overwhelmed and needed to get out of there. I found a cheap-looking orange lace curtain in the discount bin for $5 – I bought it and escaped! It still took 15 minutes to get out of the parking lot because an ambulance parked in the drive and people had to take turns using the only remaining lane to enter and exit. People kept pulling in, realizing it was full, and having to wait for a break in traffic to back out on to one of the city’s main roads. On a Saturday. At noon. Next door to a Tim Hortons. Utter chaos. I went home feeling more wiped than when I left. So much for getting energized!

The resulting curtains are ugly as sin, but I LOVE them. 😀 I wanted something bright and warm and boy – are these curtains bright and warm. Some would even say LOUD. They filter the sun a bit so it’s not an intense square of light, which is what I was looking for. When I eventually get the real curtains, I may cut these up to be underneath. It makes my space feel cheery (even though Husband insists that they’re an eyesore). The curtain rod is too long, but that’s because I used one I had sitting around in the basement. When the room is painted and finished, I’ll make everything proper. 🙂

Best part of the week? My Tula Pink Pinkerville fabric arrived!!! This is what I’m planning to make my niece’s quilt out of. Poor little girl has been dealing with a range of medical issues pretty much since she was born. She is the family “princess”, so I thought that this fabric would be a perfect fit for the princess. Now that I have it, I WANT MOAR. Shoutout to Troll Brothers Quilt Design for fussy-cutting my special picks bundle and for scoring me the very last half-metre bundle in her shop when I realized that I needed a stash of this fabric, not just barely enough to give away in a quilt. She had a draw for every pre-order of the fabric with an ultra-rare patch as the prize … and I won!!! I got so excited when she posted that! Stacie, you are the best! (and currently my top-fav online fabric store 😉 ). She is located in beautiful British Columbia, so while the odds of us meeting are fairly low (I’m on the far side of the country in Ontario), I do have a bestie in BC that I’ve promised to visit sometime in the near future. I might have to spend extra time to get all my visits in. 😉

~M

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

Ohhh the Grandma Quilt …

I shouldn’t complain so much. This problem is not limited to the Grandma quilt. My problem is me. I have a lack of attention to detail. Most of the time, I catch my own mistakes before they get too bad. Other times – like recently, when my head was full of flu – I do myself no favours.

For example: my block-of-the-month with Fabric Chick. It was a super easy block this month. I read it several times, did my sewing, read it again, did my cutting … and I cut a block in the wrong direction. I couldn’t make it work with what I had, no matter what I tried. My only option was to dip into my scraps and make a new block to cut. Unfortunately, I cut a big block, so I didn’t have big enough scraps to make a new block. That mean sewing scraps together to make a big enough block (aka Frankenstein block). ugh ….

Moving on to the Grandma quilt. I already knew I would have to do this because I ran out of one kind of fabric and I couldn’t get any more of it. When I was getting ready to put the project on hold back in October, I measured out what I would need to finish and went trash-diving for scraps to make up blocks. I thought I would need a lot more blocks than I eventually wound up making, so I have lots left to play with now.

The scrap pile and the “trash” can

At this point, I needed to figure out where the Frankenstein blocks were going to go. My original plan was to make the bottom two small stars out of Frankies. That was before I realized I had to rip out the finished top row to make my new piecing techniques fit (quiet crying commences). One of the upsides of ripping out the top row was having access to the top corner stars. By this point, I had realized that I only needed to make two Frankenstein squares and had decided to put them in the star points, where I figured it would be less noticeable. Each corner small star only had the points showing on two sides, so I only needed to make two star-point blocks for all four corners (two green/white and two purple/white). This will make more sense when the quilt is finished.

After piecing the Frankenstein squares, I started cutting up everything left for piecing. When I first started this quilt, I cut and pieced row by row. I’m still having trouble getting motivated to work on this quilt, so I thought motivation might be easier to achieve if I created all my blocks in one fell swoop and pieced afterwards. That sort of worked and sort of backfired. 😀

Pieced star (before ripping out)

Before going any further, let’s re-visit the 4-at-a-time half-square triangles (HSTs). The steps are as follows:
1. Cut your two fabric squares of the same size.
2. Sew the squares together around all 4 edges.
3. Cut point-to-point across (2-3 cuts, results in 4 pieces). This is where the 45 degree angle ruler came in handy to make sure I was squared up properly!
4. Press open squares to get 4 completed HSTs.

There is also a 2-at-a-time and an 8-at-a-time HST option. I really wish I’d know of the 8-at-a-time when I did the husband quilt (100% HSTs), but I’d only known about the 2-at-a-time. Ah well – we learn as we go!

Back to my project:
I cut up everything, ran them through the sewing machine, re-cut the HSTs, then ironed everything open. And immediately had problems. I’d evidently forgotten to cut two pieces of the green-only fabric for my small star centers, so I had pieces that were only purple, but nicely sewn together and cut up. *facepalm*. This meant ripping out the purple squares, cutting the green pieces to the original size, cross-cutting the pieces, then matching them to the purple triangles. I was really not on the ball, so I accidentally ripped out several purple HSTs that had been properly pieced to white, so I had to sew all those back together too … only to find out I’d gotten some of the purple pieces mixed up and the Frankie triangles were sewn to the wrong triangles. Ohhhh what a day.

Needless to say, I quit half-way through the re-piecing project that day. When you discover you’re making that many mistakes, take a break! I came back a couple of days later and finished piecing and cutting up the squares. I started working on my chintz pieces and realized that I needed to check the spin direction against the squares I had already done. Since I really did not want to mess with the purple-and-green small stars again, I checked them first. Thankfully, everything was spinning the same way – purple to green in a clockwise fashion. I took a picture of my remaining blocks to make sure that everyone was spinning the right way for the whole quilt. In future star quilts, I think I’d make a hemispheric spin – everything on the right spins opposite to that on the left. The one square I’d gotten wrong looked really nice sitting beside the original spin. In this case, however, I’d gotten way too far into the quilt to change what I was doing. Maybe if I’d been more motivated about this quilt, I would have changed it – but now I just want it DONE.

I watched through several Marvel comics movies to keep myself focused. One of the good piecing sessions happened during the Thor: Ragnarok viewing. I love my sewing space!

Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok

Next week is all about mini projects. I have a plan for my block-of-the-month projects – but I just have to stay focused!!

~M