Saturday, October 18, 2014

"cinched" pattern - part three

 so i'm jumping all over the sewing spectrum around here. yes, i started messing with triangles but now i'm ready to get my three big wips out of the way, to finish them up while enjoying the process. today that meant completeling the flimsy for my new edition of my "cinched" pattern, which i am calling "bloom where you are planted" because of all the blossoms and because it's for a friend who has been uprooted and replanted elsewhere.

i sewed the strips together by first sewing adjoining pairs, then sewing the pairs into groups of four, and sewing those into groups of eight, and so on until the whole top was together. each time, i sewed the seam in the opposite direction i had previously sewn, first sewing from the top edge to the bottom and the next time sewing the grouping from the bottom to the top. to have one consistently straight edge for matching up, i trimmed the bottom edge of the quilt even. since i had modified some of the strips, they weren't all the same length, which is why i needed to trim.

i was nearly done with the top when i left for summer roadtrip. this morning, i put the last three sections of the lower panel together, and this afternoon i joined the lower panel with the top panel and accent strip. it has come together quite quickly.

before i did that last seam, i squared up that lower panel. when sewing with jelly strips, its easy to get distortion where your strips start to lean in one direction or just aren't completely square. (well, for me it seems easy to have that occur.) sewing the seams in alternating directions helps with the leaning. i kept trimming the bottom edge of the sections each time i sewed more strips and sections together, but the top was uneven. by the time it was done, i was 3/4" short at one end. (see top photo)

folded in half and pinned together
 squaring the strips can be confusing because the seams are not always perfectly straight and neither are the edges. i was fairly certain the bottom edge that i kept trimmed the whole time was straight, so next i folded the panel in half across the width (so the strips are still full length), lining up that straight bottom edge and pinning it into place every few strips. i also lined up the two end strips with each other and pinned them. from there i could smooth out the panel and then trim the top edge, opposite the pins, straight and square.

 i did the same with the upper panel and accent strip before attaching because i figured it was easier to work with the small piece rather than try to square that edge when the whole top was put together. and that is true. but i also messed up the trim twice, because it's me, you know. when trying to correct a 1/4" slant, i slanted it further the wrong way and had to trim 1/2". this flimsy is rapidly loosing height.

then i laid the upper section out on my lower section to pin for that final seam . . . and discovered the upper panel was one strip longer than the lower! i think i added that one strip with the intention of taking the other end off so i could shift the accent block over, but it's been so long i can't be sure anymore! i did the easy thing, which was probably wrong, and removed the piece hanging out on the edge.

then, finally, i did my pinning.

and fyi - tip alert - pinning large pieces together while on the design wall rather than on the floor is a lot easier! pin the first piece (at every few strips) to your design board. lay out the second piece on top of it, removing the pins holding the bottom piece in place as you go and replacing them into both pieces so you have both pinned into the board together. then just go back and pin only the fabric together before removing from the board. easy peasy!

sew that last seam in and you have . . .
a completed flimsy!!!
(which still needs a piece of the accent strip trimmed off.)

i have to admit these fabrics were givign me a headache every time i looked at them hanging on the design wall the last few months. they are so darn bright and loud! but now that they are neatly sewn together, they are playing much more nicely and i kind of like it again. except looking at this photo i'm rather wishing i made that accent strip in white instead of green. too late!

my goal is to get the back pieced and the whole shebang basted as a sandwich before the piano teacher comes next wednesday because this flimsy is living on the piano room floor and that means trouble.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

angling into triangles

 back in the spring, when i was still struggling with fabric fasting, i picked up this intriguing little half yard bundle off etsy while i was snatching up heather bailey prints. it seemed so vintage and bold in a color palette i wouldn't normally go for. but i have been looking at it and loving it ever since it arrived. after it came, i realized it was "the ladies' stitching club" from liesel gibson of oliver + s for moda fabrics. when that line came out, i thought i didn't like it but apparently i do. funny how that works - you see bits of a fabric range paired together in a unique setting and it actually does appeal to you.


well, that bundle has been sitting atop my bawthroom sewing table being admired for months. sometime during the summer i broke it open and began to pull other fabrics that had similar colors to the shades of plum, pink, gold, peach, ochre, and a touch of blue, that were found in the large floral. i had also acquired another pink and ochre floral print (from "miscellany" by julia rothman for cloud 9 fabrics) that had a vintage, hand drawn vibe to it, which i wanted to use with the stack if possible.

in the end, i got this pile together. it's rather unusual for me, a real departure from my normal palette. it feels like it's either going to be totally cool or a complete disaster. granted, the fabrics are not represented to the scale they will appear in the final quilt. i also think it needs a few more low-volumes and maybe another plum fabric or two to round everything out. but i do not want buy any fabric right now and since this is a longterm project, i can hold off on those for a while.

so what am i doing with this? and why have i started something new again? well, i'm currently taking the "angled" class with rachel hauser at stitched in color. the class has been going for several weeks and so far all i've done is read the material and drool over the photos. i want to make three of the quilts and am really excited to tackle triangles, diamonds, and flying geese! (not "dying geese", right deborah?) but i just don't have time to sew right now. and lately i've realized i mostly just want to finish off the projects i already have going, hopefully by the end of the year, and start fresh next year with new stuff. but, but, but i did want to participate in the class just a little and at least give the new skills and directions provided a try.

so yesterday i tackled triangles.

i'm starting with the "indian blanket" quilt using this radical palette i pulled. i already had one huge pile of fabric i'd amassed when i tried to participate in paula's triangle quilt along earlier this year, but i still want to do that quilt and didn't like that pull for "indian blanket," so i turned my attention to that pile on my sewing table which had yet to be assigned a pattern. i'm kind of excited and also very nervous about it. i'm taking a "well, we'll see how it goes!" approach to all of it. i'm just doing a row or two for some practice, then i'm going to set it aside and finish my boys' quilts. and that "bloom where you are planted" quilt i started on my birthday.

rachel provided directions for cutting using a standard 6" x 24" grid ruler. that was very helpful because it means you don't have to buy a special triangle ruler. but i already own one, so i opted to use that for my cutting. however, my ruler has a blunt tip and after doing all my cutting, i realized that blunt tip cut off 1/4" of the triangle so by following rachel's instructions, i had made my triangles 1/4" too high. darn it. trimming 1/4" off 28+ triangles seemed like too much work and too much room for error, so this particular row will have to just be 1/4" too high. now that i think of it, hopefully that doesn't throw off the placement of the triangles in the quilt too much. "well, we'll see how it goes!" right?

 the blunt tips also threw off the alignment directions rachel had given, so i had to do a bit of trial and error (sewing all three seams on the first triangle) before i got it right. but here's what i discovered in case anyone else wants to know. if you want your on-grain edge (which is opposite the blunt tip if you cut with the blunt tip on the grain edge of your fabric piece) to be at the top or bottom of your row, line the two triangles up with the tips alternating along the top and bottom.

i know this is a really loud and bold pairing of fabrics but i've already decided that if i don't like it, i can always use it on the back! with the sizing mistake i made, i may have to.

 then fold the right triangle over the left one, keeping that middle edge where you'll sew the seam aligned along the diagonal. you can't just pick it up and place on top, you have to fold it over diagonally, which feels like you're folding the triangle down rather than over.

 then align the triangles along the cut edges. the first/bottom triangle will still have it's blunt tip  pointing up and the right/top triangle will now have it's blunt tip in the lower right corner. (you can see a little of the blue peeking out there.)

 now sew down that seam. you'll be sewing the side opposite the two matched pointed tips, aka the side between the two blunt tips.

sew in pairs first, then start adjoining those, which is a whole different alignment issue! it took me no less than three tries to get this right the first time. not having all the dogears made it harder to follow rachel's instructions, but i got it in the end.

i have nearly a whole row complete now! i think i'll do one more so i can see how well my points turn out when i match everything up. wish me luck! then i'll be putting these triangles away and getting back to some straightline quilting.

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

plus a diamond polished off

 yet another one of those quilts i almost finished for last christmas has been completed. even though all this one needed was the handbinding, somehow it still took me 10 months to complete. it's been a slow quilting year for me. d1 and i went on an outing today to photograph her new mama-made quilt and spend some mother/daughter time. when i finished the quilt off on sunday, i sat down and wrote out some thoughts that go along with the finish. so this is a two-part post - the thoughts i had when i actually completed the quilt and the photos from today, accompanied by a few notes from our outing and photoshoot. as you'll see, despite the fact that she is now two inches taller than her mama, she had some issues getting the quilt held up for photos. it fell or her arms got tired more than once. we had lots of good laughs along the way.


 i put the finishing stitches into the binding of another last-christmas quilt today. d1 now has a mama-made all her own to snuggle, curl up in, read under, sleep with, dream on. and although i'm pretty ambivalent about the styling and process of this made-from-a-kit quilt, it does feel good to have it completed and ready to hand over.

 later in the day, the mr and i were discussing some long-needed overhaul to the way our home and life functions. there are so many places in my life where i've failed to live up to my own expectations and ideals, to what i intended to do. kind of like with my quilting, i had big ideas about what i was going to do and be in my life, and i bought all the trimmings to go along with all my grand schemes. and kind of like my quilting, life has worked out a lot differently than planned, and i've been left with a large amount of clutter and unfulfilled dreams. it's time to review priorities, let the excess go, and simplify so that i don't miss out on the essentials.

 as i sat considering where i intended to go as opposed to where i've ended up, it occured to me how complicated even the simplest of tasks and relationships can be: so many options, so many choices to make, so many styles or modes to choose from. i was also thinking of the quilt i'd finally completed. "goodness!" i laughed out loud, "turns out quilting is the least complicated thing in my life!" imagine that. four years ago, as i sat in my first quilting class in front of my old high school singer machine, inwardly trembling in fear that i wouldn't be able to actually do this big thing i wanted so badly to do, i would never have guessed how relaxed i would one day feel making a quilt.

 sure, i still mess up constantly. and sewing a straight line or accurate quilting stitch can allude me, but that mostly happens when i am quilting a sandwich as opposed to when i am piecing a top. the piecing part i've become comfortable with. i have to assume that because i've had a lot more practice piecing than with quilting, that in time that will come more naturally, too. the mistakes i make no longer throw me the way they used to. i expect them now and am usually able to take them as part of the process. but i've got over a dozen completed quilts to my name, actual evidence that i can do this difficult thing. so, really, quilting is not that complicated for me anymore.

 on reflection, i'm only about half way through my hands-on, in-home parenting life with one child nearly three years old and the oldest about three years away from leaving the nest. i had hoped to learn how to be a good mother before my children left home, but that's the thing about parenting (and quilting) - you learn as you go. there's no way to be an expert before you start your real training in the field. so admitting my mistakes and trying to correct them now rather than later is a good move. it's simply time to swallow my pride and seek to make things right like i've been able to do with my quilts. eventually i'll have 7 grown children that will hopefully be proof that i learned how to parent.

end of original musings


 the quick facts on this quilt: it's made from a kit my local store put together of a pattern by carina garnder for her dainty blossoms line for riley blake fabrics. except that i decided to put it together during a quilting class, so i ended up using triangles-on-a-roll to make the chevrons rather than the pattern. whatever. it's a chevron quilt i did zero design work on and my daughter, d1, asked for the quilt when she saw the store sample. the only bit of original design that ended up in the quilt is the row of white diamonds i accidentally made when i sewed one row together incorrectly. hence the name, "plus a diamond." the back is pieced from one large bit of ditsy floral and a strip of the green dot i used for the binding, which then left me short on the binding, so i had to piece in bits of other scraps for my first scrappy binding.

 after taking our photos, we went into the coffee shop for lunch, but settled on a sweet instead because d1 decided she didn't want a sandwich but an actual burger from the grill also on site.

 i die over their arrangements every time i come in here. just looking at it is delicious enough most days.

 and that right there is what i would have chosen: devil's food cake. but d1 picked the double chocolate buttercream instead. i warned her it was vegan, but she wanted it anyway and it turned out to be scrumptious. we grabbed her treat and then our lunch at the grill, where we laughed a whole lot more. especially when a pea i was admiring before consumption suddenly jumped to the floor.

this particular daughter is quite happy-go-lucky and cheery. she laughs a lot, which is good for me. it helps me relax sometimes when i'm so unnecessarily uptight. she's made my entry into parenthood relatively easy, although i admit she was pretty high maintenance as a baby. still, she's a great kid and has helped me navigate the parenting waters with all her natural goodness. more than anything, she knows how to laugh at her crazy mama. i love her to the moon and back.

when we were leaving, d1 said, "so when i finish my quilt, can we do this again?"
absolutely, sweetheart.

gypsy wife giveaway winner

i loved seeing all the gypsy wife entrants from last month's link party. (yes, i did take a peek at each of them, even if i haven't had time to savor and comment yet.) since there were only 5 entrants, we selected a winner the super-fancy, old fashioned way - by a literal roll of the dice. number three, crafty kat, is the winner of the $25 gift card to fat quarter shop. congrats to kat! michelle, the quilt along hostess will be contacting you about your prize.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

september gypsy wife quiltalong giveaway link party

GypsyWifeQAL


it's my turn to host the gypsy wife qal monthly giveaway! this month's winner will receive a $25 gift certificate from the fat quarter shop. free is always nice, but free fabric of one's own choosing is extra nice.


how are your gypsy wives coming along, anyway? mine is looking something like this:

 the pile of fabric i pulled to use for my quilt, taking up room on the couch in my sewing area . . .

and a much smaller pile of finished blocks, removed from the design wall to keep out of the light until i can get back to them. i had to put my gypsy lady away at the beginning of the summer because there was just not going to be time for her. i thought my month for the quilt along post was november and i'd have time to catch up, but here we are and i'm caught.

according to the schedule, the blocks for september are
Puss in the Corner (2)Square in a Square (7×3″),9
i was able to complete the 7 - 3" square in a square blocks, aka: economy blocks, which is much faster to write and currently more trendy.

here's my first tip for making these: follow the pattern cutting directions. i got through 4 squares before i realized i was cutting the center square at the finished size rather than at the size the pattern told me to cut. that was painful because it took me a long time, and now the smaller squares are useless because the pattern only calls for one of them and since i cut the smaller corner squares at the size the pattern called for, my center squares are extra tiny. i was wondering why so little of the center fabric was actually showing! the blocks look much better cut the way the pattern called for.

a few other tips i discovered along the way follow.

tip #1: don't use your default 1/4" seam guide foot since you are stitching on the drawn line rather than at a 1/4" out from anything. i noticed my guide foot was causing a little bunching as i sewed. just the regular old foot works best here. (this may only apply to me who can't sew without her training wheel foot on.)

tip #2: if you are using a print for the corners, you can determine which half of the print will show in the corner by placing that half on the inside of the square rather than along the edges. if you look you can see my drawn diagonal line that directs where i sew. this forms two triangles. the lower triangle on the bottom right is the portion of the print that will show up after all is cut and pressed in place. i wanted as much of the green vs the navy showing in my block so i put most of the unwanted navy in the upper corner along the edges so it would get trimmed.

 this is the above piece after it's been sewn, cut, and pressed. the triangle to the right is the bit cut off and the small square on the left is the piece for the other corner. (it's not helpful that i switched the block around when i photographed it the second time, but hopefully you follow along anyway.)

 now i've laid the last corner piece on with the corner i want showing facing in toward the center of the block. (wrong! actually, if you look, i've got it turned around. this is a sample of how not to do this.)

 as soon as i began sewing i noticed what i was doing. see how my upper right and lower left corners don't match like i had intended? time to unpick.

 take two: the triangle that is going to look like the piece i cut is now placed along the outer edge so we are lined up properly for matchy-matchy corners.

and now you see why sewing takes me so long. i only seem to learn by trial and error.

 tip #3: when trimming up your block, if you tilt it on an angle, sort of "on point", you can trim two sides without having to move your block or ruler. just zip up that lower right side and then back across the top.

 then just flip the ruler to the other side and you can trim the other two sides without moving the block at all. just make sure you are making the correct size block or none of this will matter at all. (3" finished, not cut!)

 tip #4: instead of drawing a pencil line, you can also just fold that triangle in half and finger press it to get a guide mark. the amount of lighting available as you sew will determine if this is actually helpful or not, so you'll have to try it first.

 tip #5: when cutting the seam allowance on the first two corners, you can gain yourself the tiniest bit of wiggle room by cutting the seam at a scant 1/4" rather than a true or generous 1/4".

wrong

if you put the 1/4" mark to the right of the seam, you'll be cutting it generous. don't do this. and let's just all pretend we don't see that my corner block shifted and isn't perfectly lined up with the other corner, okay? who needs accuracy, anyway?

correct
by placing the yellow cutting guide mark to the left of the seam, you've now got a scant 1/4" seam allowance, which means you have given yourself just a bit more fabric for when you sew the next two corners on. this seemed to help with my accuracy.

as for tips for the puss in the corner block, you're on your own. i haven't done it yet. also, anyone know where that name came from? i just don't get it but i'm sure there's a fascinating story behind it.

if you have any tips at all for either of these blocks, please share in the comments!

for participants who did complete your blocks for september, please join the link up to enter for the $25 fat quarter shop gift card giveaway.



Monday, September 29, 2014

girls weekend quilt

 this year for my family's annual girls weekend, i volunteered to spearhead a humanitarian project for the ladies. there were several ideas running through my head, but the easiest idea won out for me: make super-simple quilts for project linus. i culled a pile of of fat quarters from my stash for 4sq blankets and brought along my box of lime/aqua/black&white fabrics i ordered months ago so we could all work on one quilt together. then i loaded half my suburban with the required gear to work on said quilts. and my son opened the back window and my little brother machine fell out. and we had so many great things going at girls weekend that we never really did much sewing at all. isn't that just how it goes sometimes?

however, on sunday afternoon, the final hour of our event, two of my seesters and some of the middle girls made four patch blocks for the quilt. the blocks are composes of 5" squares and i plan to alternate the blocks with 9.5" squares for an easy top. since we currently only have 6 completed blocks, this weekend the girls will be getting together again while the men attend the priesthood session of general conference and everyone should get a chance to sew their block at that time. all those fat quarters for 4sq blankets will just get tucked away for another day. maybe even next year's girls weekend. at least i now have a plan for all those fat quarters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

when life's too crazy for quilting

antique victorian "crazy quilt"
y'all, i've been frantically trying to live my actual real life the last few weeks, which has left zero time for quilting of any kind, other than a brief stop-in at rachel's angled class every few days to dream and sigh over what i would like to do when i have the time someday. like in about 15 years when i have no more children at home. the fact is, i signed up for 7 children and homeschooling all on my own crazy initiative. really, that requires a certain amount of gutsy insanity, and some focus and commitment as well. no matter how many cool quilting ideas i get or how many wips i have in progress, i have responsibilities that have much farther reaching. longer-lasting effects than my quilting does. so i've sewn a total of three straight lines in the last two weeks. 

just last night while my husband and i were pillow-talking about all the things i can't get done and what maybe needed to be cut out, i declared i hadn't even been doing the "fluff" or "me" stuff since we got home from our summer road trip and i still feel like i'm drinking my life from a firehose, unable to get even the massive list of essentials done. he congratulated me on that and encouraged me to think carefully about my priorities and schedule. and ironically, here i am blogging today.

i have nothing new to share, not even some more straight lines of quilting. but this afternoon i just needed to connect to the blogosphere in some way. i've been wanting to talk about how i finally managed to fabric fast for several months on end (no purchases since april! four straight months!) after my repeated failed attempts (bad february, iffy march and april), but i have no photos to show of something i didn't do. 

so i dug out the few quilting photos i took on our vacation. they aren't of my work, but rather of some cool vintage quilts i stumbled across in a museum on a spontaneous stop in a little backwoods town. seeing as how we visited several historic sites, including colonial williamsburg, washington, dc, and mount vernon, i was puzzled at the lack of quilts i came across. perhaps i just didn't get to the right exhibits. however, a few weeks into our trip we were driving from atlanta, ga to seaside, fl and found ourselves passing through the quaintest, most picturesque small town of eufaula, al. the main street was divided by a large, verdant median, and both sides of the avenue were lined with a completely charming mix of cottages and antebellum mansions. after driving the street a bit i declared we needed a break from the car so we got out and walked.

 please excuse our rough travel appearances as we'd been on the road several hours already and were more concerned with comfort than style or grooming. carseat hair is just about as bad as bedhead.

 this lovely home turned out to be museum, which we decided to tour on the spot. it was a treasure trove of period furniture, clothing, and artifacts, maintained by the sweetest souther docents you ever met. they welcomed my rumpled children with open arms and honeyed southern accents of the most genteel nature.

 bless my little ones, they were enraptured and photographed nearly every inch of the mansion. i handed over my phone and let them go at it. i want to raise photographers as well as quilters and bibliophiles.

 upstairs in a bedroom i found my only encounter with quilts, fabric, or quilting the entire trip. unfortunately, the lighting was very low to protect the antiques, which made for poor photographic conditions. nevertheless, we were allowed to roam through everything at will rather than just view from behind ropes or glass, which makes for such a different experience.

 i love star quilts and this one was no exception. i think the crosshatched box quilting is particularly charming.

 another star quilt, part of a trousseau, was also on display. it's soft, somewhat earthy muted tan and sage color palette was lovely.

the crazy quilt laid out on the bed was a sight to behold. so many fascinating little bits stitched together and embellished with intricate needlework of every sort. as i child, i always thought crazy quilts were just too crazy and chaotic, but looking at this one up close, i can understand the appeal.

that's all i have to share for now; memories from my summer vacation. i hope that another week or two will resolve the pace i'm functioning at right now. getting back into our home life and launching another homeschool year for 6 children has been no small feat. in fact, i feel so busy that i keep wondering if there is a newborn in the house since i find myself with little time to even brush my own teeth! (no newborn, but a potty training 2 yr old demands a large share of attention.) when the dust settles, we'll see if i can get some more lines quilted or a top perhaps finished for that tutorial i was working on. but not while my babies need me.