Friday, December 2, 2016

big HST ideas

any of you longtime bloggers out there ever think of renaming your blog? i toy with the idea on occasion. the original name of this blog no longer really fits my sewing, especially since i moved my sewing space out of my bawthroom. but splishing and splashing (or only getting to dabble my fingers in the waters randomly) does sort of fit the way i get to play with my stash these days, and renaming or rebranding oneself on the internet isn't always the smartest nor easiest move. however, if i were to rename this space, i think hst quilts, which would stand for hydeeann sewed these quilts, would do nicely. it would be a play on words that nods to my love of the classic and endlessly adaptable hst shape. for now, this stays a splishing and splashing stash zone.

and a place where i will continue playing with the hst on many different levels.

like this big star quilt i dreamed up and immediately put into practice earlier this week, before i fell too ill to complete it. because despite all my best intentions and personal vows to complete what needs to be completed, i can not force myself to do any more fmq until i take a break and get some itchy ideas out of my system! i just simply can't. so i did this one little big thing on tuesday.

i've been wanting to play with solids in a big, bold, modern kind of way, and in a funky color palette, for quite a while now. something along the lines of this inspiring design:

somehow, the other night i got obsessed with the idea of making one large star out of hsts that would be really fast and a bit of fun for me before i got back to the grindstone of the quilts that i absolutely need to finish soon. (we won't even mention names because this topic has been way overdone here. you know who they are.) i consulted the hst handbook Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle: Foolproof Patterns and Simple Techniques from Basic Blocks by jeni baker to get an idea of scale and see if she had a pattern similar to what i was imagining.

there was one pattern that featured 17" blocks, which was larger than i wanted. but it gave me a few tips on dealing with the large size, and i was off to the sketchbook to make my own design. a basic 8-point star, composed of 12" finished blocks felt right. i didn't want a mammoth-sized quilt, just one i could whip out really easily and be done with. maybe one that would be good for handquilting when i felt like some handwork over the holidays. but i also don't like square quilts. (i don't know why, but the ratio just feels off to me, like it's going to be too short to cover someone's feet, no matter how large it is. just one of my weirdness-es.) so a 48" square center with some top and bottom rows of smaller hsts to stretch it out seemed right. i wanted some space for my colors to shine, so i added in a small neutral border around the center star to give it some breathing room from the hst rows. can you see how simple and fast this was going to be?

the very next morning, after my pilates class, without going home to shower or change (because i might get sidetracked by a child needing something or some such nonsense), i went to the fabric store for some solids. the color palette i had in mind was inspired by some quilters i follow on instagram:

i like the way these ladies have mixed deep tones with lighter and brighter ones, and wanted to play with some warm orange and golden colors against navy blues, with a dash of really light pink thrown in for some real contrast. in the end, i realized this color palette is rather a mash-up of what i've been working on this year: navy and orange from the wonky quilt for s1, and golden and pink tones from my triangle quilt. interesting how that worked out.

at the store, i pulled a pile of colors from the kona solids line up, knowing i had at least two more navy blue ranges at home (leftovers from my sons' quilts). then i took a photo of my bolt selections because solids don't come with marked selvages! i had the bottom bolt turned around, but i do happen to know that's curry, the color i used for the backing on my golden-and-rosy triangle quilt. with butterscotch, i was trying to add in a bit of tan neutral that was in the same range as the curry color. it looked great in the store. at home, it looks almost identical. oh, well. i'm learning as i go. i also selected two more light neutral colors, but didn't photograph the names. i don't see this being a problem since i was going for a mix of creams for my neutrals and there are several. anything would work if i needed more for the neutral sections.

so here's the sketch and the colors i purchased in half-yard increments. (the other navies i was using, cadet and windsor, are not included in the photo.) colors left to right: 3 cream neutrals, including champagne, storm, butterscotch, curry, peach (which i think is a pink, not a peach color), kumquat, and tomato.

i came home, after a quick stop at the bakery on the same side of town as the fabric store, and began pressing everything right away.

to make 12" finished hst blocks, i needed 12.5" unfinished blocks. so i cut 13" squares to make the hsts from. these would be just slightly oversized, to allow for trimming and increased accuracy.

cutting a 13" block turned out to be really simple with my mat and 2 - 6"x24" rulers. i lined the fabric up on the mat and just used the lines to make sure there was 1" between the rulers to get a 13" cut. i know some people (like mother louise, who taught me to quilt!) disapprove of cutting with the mat measurements, and for reasonable cause. but ever since i saw camille roskelley do it in a craftsy class, i have adopted the method and love it. please forgive me, louise. i don't find my accuracy compromised as of yet.

then i turned the rulers the opposing direction in the same manner and made the cuts needed to produce the 13" square. luckily for me, i plan to use 6" finished hst blocks for my top and bottom borders, which will perfectly utilize the apporximately 7" leftovers from my cuts. i do love when things work out so neatly like this.

because i wouldn't be pairing each set of colors the same way each time, i couldn't use the double hst making method, but had to cut each square on the diagonal (bias edges!) and sew the pairs together from there. i made four blocks by pairing colors with colors, going for contrast in my pairings, and 8 blocks by pairing a color with a neutral. i could have made my corner squares from square blocks or hsts, and chose the latter for more added subtle interest in the quilt top.

once i had my squares all cut, i began playing with the star's center configuration. it was at this point that i realized i needed another color to make things even. sigh. i had 7 colors but really needed 8 so i could use each one twice: once in the center and once in the star points. trying to balance everything by using one color more than once was more thinking than i wanted to do, so adding in a color was the only way to go.

i was definitely not going back to the store and all the plausible solids i had on hand were sized too small to make the proper sized cut. there was one greenish/ochre color i really liked with the rest, but it was too small. so i had to adjust my color palette a bit and add in a very light blue, which i wasn't too excited about. but in the end, it works nicely and i've gotten used to it.

then i had to decide on the configuration of the center blocks:


all in one direction

after looking at each, i chose the pinwheel.

then i squared off each block. this is where having a ruler the exact size of my block and a rotating mat came in handy.
the blocks were only very slightly oversized once pressed open.

i aligned the seam of the two triangles with the diagonal line crossing the ruler, all the way across. this will produce the most accuracy when sewing the blocks together.

because there was a little wiggle room, i could also ensure that the ruler fit within the block all the way around. then i just sliced off the tiny bits outside the lines to get my perfect 12.5" squares.

after 4 hours of pressing, sewing, and trimming, i had the main square portion of the top completed. that kind of depressed me. i thought i should have been able to complete 16 large hsts more quickly. but i just have to live with not being faster than that. if it had been a lazy weekend day, i could likely have gotten the rest done. but it wasn't that sort of day and i had to move on to family responsibilities. so my play time came to an end.

i also expected to be able to quickly finish the remainder of the top in the next day or two, but was laid low with some nasty chest congestion and cough-inducing virus the very next morning. so stay tuned to see where this goes! i'm well enough now to post about it. maybe i can finish it soon after all.

and then i will definitely be back to finishing something before the year is up.
i do hope.

and the next color combo i'm dreaming of playing with, probably in some form of hst or other?

this, by the brilliant suzy quilts:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

quicky trick or treat tote

my 8 yr old, d4, decided she was in need of a new trick or treat bag, so we cobbled one together this afternoon. there are bag tutorials aplenty out there, but i chose to just wing it. not necessarily the smartest move, but i find when i'm making something fairly simple - a square with two straps - it can be instructive to figure out the construction myself.

we made a very basic, unlined bag for her to gather her halloween night treasures in. i'm sure some interfacing would have stiffened things up nicely, but we were going for really simple and quick. a lining would have been a bit more professional, too, but again, not absolutely necessary for our purposes.

halfway thru the making process, i remembered there was a pattern for a similar bag that s2 made for his sisters several christmases ago. its in the lovely book "sewing for children" by emma hardy (bn or amazon). that bag was lined (slightly more complicated) and used thick grosgrain ribbons for the handles (easier). if we hadn't already been half done, i would have used that pattern again.

 we started with a fat quarter and 2 jelly roll (2.5" x 42") strips of orange. d4 wanted a bag that hung to her hips, otherwise we could have used shorter strips.

 first we folded the fat quarter in half, wrong sides together, and cut a 12" x 12" square. this size was selected based on eyeballing what we wanted and adding a bit more for seam allowances. i will note that d4 did not think it would hold enough candy, but mom is sure it will hold plenty.

at this point, i remembered to press the fabrics. if we'd wanted a more durable bag, prewashing would have been essential.

 to create a clean line on the top of the bag, we hemmed it. first, mark a 1/2" along the top of the bag on the wrong side of the fabric. we used a hera marker to make a crease. a washable marker or pencil works, too.

 fold the fabric along the line and fingerpress in place.

 then iron smooth.

 fold over and fingerpress again.

 iron smooth once more.

and this is where i should have inserted the straps into the seam allowance of the hem, but forgot to. it worked out fine, but it did involve some seamripping later on.

 i had d4 sew a 1/4" seam using the seam guide foot.

 but i decided we wanted that flap of the hem closed more fully, so i had her do it again at a scant 1/2" seam, putting the stitching right on the edge of the fold. so now it's reinforced and she got some more sewing practice.

 then we folded the body of the bag in half, right sides together, pinned it in a few spots, and made a 1/2" seam along the side and bottom. because we cut the body fabric while it was folded in half, we didn't have a third seam along the other side.

when the body seams are done, turn the bag inside out and press flat.

 to make the straps, fold in half along the length, press flat, and sew with a 1/4" seam. (you can see in the photo that d4 accidentally sewed along the folded side first time around. no worries: sew the correct side and get cozy with the seam ripper.)

once the strap is sewn, turn it inside out. i used a combination of the safetypin and pencil method.

our straps were 42" long, a bit more than we needed. i simply draped them across d4"s shoulder to determine where she wanted the bag to fall, and trimmed there (with a bit more for seam allowance). i think we took off about 8".

 this is when i realized i should have done the straps at the beginning for a cleaner look. to correct my mistake, i simply seamripped a gap where i wanted to place the handles. if you're making a really quick bag you don't intend to keep or use much, and aesthetics aren't a big deal, you can simply attach the handles to the inside of the bag without inserting them into the hem.

but i seamripped where i wanted the handle placed, with a few stitches wiggle room on each side, and inserted the strap end, pinning in place.

 then i sewed over it a few times to secure, and to secure the ends of the hem where i'd seamripped. fortunately, the fabric we were using hid all the sewing pretty well. it blended right in.

then i folded the strap up, away from the bag and sewed close to the top, to help the strap lie flat against the hem, and backtracked to make it a bit more secure.

 not very pretty sewing, but at this point d4 had moved on and i was scrunched up at her little (pink) brother machine, on a very short table, trying to see well enough to backstitch. it came out rather slanted. not that i cared too much. it's her loss for abandoning me!

i attached the straps on the very outside corners of each side of the bag, and made sure to fold them in a u-shape when i sewed the second side of each strap on. this helps the straps lay nicely on the shoulder when wearing them.

if i hadn't been letting an 8 yr old do most of the sewing, and had to deal with various other interruptions, it could have easily been completed in under an hour. as it is, it took more than that. but who's counting?

despite the fact that we did this quickly without lots of the nicer finishing touches like interfacing or lining, d4 is very happy with it and declared "this looks like a bag from the store!" i supose compared to the first tote she made all by herself, with no hemming and christmas fabric, this bag did turn out a bit more professionally.

now all we need do is wait out the week until we can fill it with candy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

wip tuesday

 my quilt life is so very small right now. a few times a week i snag some time to work away at the quilting of this penny patch 2.0, and that's about it. i'm aiming to complete 3 quilts before the end of this year: penny patch 2.0, my triangle indian blanket quilt, and (always) my son's wonky blue and orange quilt. all 3 of these quilts just need to be quilted and bound. that's it. but even with a full quarter left in the year, that's going to be a tall order.

i've begun to venture into the online quilting world again, stopping in at my instagram account and visiting some blogs occasionally. it gets me antsy to create and make something new once more. but for now, i'm going to have to be content plugging away at finishes.

and endlessly burying threads when not at the machine,
which is exactly what i was doing sunday after church. i'd like to say i sit around nicely dressed, handstitching on quilts regularly, but that wouldn't be true on either account.

my poor over-forty eyes are finally feeling the macular degeneration that comes with age and i have to take my work out into the sunlight to see those threads and tiny needle eyes. the blur of this photo matches what i see pretty well!

at least i've got my hands on fabric.
and quilts will be done soon-ish.

good enough!

happy quilting friends, from the slowest quilter on the planet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

on the mend and a sewing corner by monet

 we are mending.

life as we knew it is coming back together in so many ways, with the added benefits of newfound perspectives and gratitudes. thank you all for your comments, concerns, thoughts, well wishes, and prayers. they have been noted and felt. you all have been in my heart and at the back of my mind thru all of this. after three weeks in hospital and rehab, countless dr visits and daily hours in physical therapy, and even a few healing vacations, my husband is miraculously nearly back to normal.

but that doesn't mean i'm sewing yet!

however, summer is not traditionally sewing season for me anyway. it's usually family time and travel. but i always keep my eyes open for sewing related sights, no matter where we go. this year we ventured abroad for the first time, taking our oldest daughter on her "senior trip" for two fairytale weeks in france.

ever since we studied the impressionists, my favorite artists, in a homeschool unit when my oldest children were mid-elementary age, d1 has dreamed of visiting monet's garden in giverny. i never thought this was a real possibility for us, but somehow it happened.

and while we were touring the house, i came upon the most charming surprise - a sewing nook. you'll have to excuse the photo quality since i was working in a very cramped space with poor lighting in the hallway and a constant flow of tourists. i hope you get the general idea despite all the imperfections.

 at the more domestic end of the house, upstairs from the kitchen, just off the stairwell and short hallway, was a blue door with windowpanes, which looked in on a tiny alcove.

 opposite the door was a pair of windows overlooking the gardens below. there was a small space to each side of the door and windows. just enough room for a seat and sewing machine.

 there was a pedal sewing machine to the left.

 and a blue wicker-seated chair on the right.

 some exquisite white garments, probably infant clothing, and linens were on the seat to the right.

 so much glorious daylight was flowing in thru those windows, and the view was unbeatable. it was quite a small space - no room for a stash or design wall or storage of most any kind. yet it was perfect. i could imagine sitting there for hours, stitching away by hand or machine, looking out over the gardens. what a peaceful, contented experience that would be.

A photo posted by @hydeeannsews on

in the meanwhile, my own sewing space is hiding behind its own blue (windowless) doors, waiting for my return. i've worked a bit on a project for a sick relative in need (more later) and my son's quilt is crying out for completion. but when is the question. i've been so disconnected from sewing and the community, which i've missed. there are decisions to be made about my gypsy wife project, which megan has gamely carried on without me. i have no answers, friends.

one thing i've learned thru all of this is that as entrenched as i was in the online community, as much as sewing and my sewing friends meant to me, it really could all be let go when real life called. not that the people here aren't real and really lovely. not that i didn't (don't) value the hobby and connection. but there are times when we must step away and first things, first priorities in life, become our only things. our only priorities.

we are mending. we are well.

i will see you when i see you.
happy sewing to the rest of you in the meantime!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

why i'm m.i.a.

friends, sorry i haven't been able to pop in this space for a while! my husband fell 25' off a rock climbing wall about two weeks ago, shattering his wrists and breaking his back in two places. he is mending beautifully and we feel very blessed his injuries were as minor as they were, all things considered. but i have obviously not been sewing or blogging as our family life is upside down right now. i am so sorry i can't be here to help you with the gypsy wife qal right now as planned, but megan is still posting at her blog, jaffa quilts, and can answer questions. thanks for understanding and i hope to be back with you by next month! please excuse me from answering emails and returning comments for a while. if i find a moment, i will.

Friday, April 1, 2016

gypsy wife, sections three and four

5 of the 7 blocks for april
 april combines two sections of the gypsy wife quilt, yet it's still a small-ish month of making. section three is only 5 blocks and a very few short sections of strips. section four is only 2 blocks, period! i almost wonder why it's designated a section unto its self. the only explanation i can see is because of how it fits in with the rest of the quilt. studying the final assembly diagram, i can see that no matter how cleverly we may have avoided partial seams before, there is going to be no getting around them in the end. never fear, megan has shown us how really un-intimidating and doable partial seams are! she gave me the courage to try. really, it can be done. see her thoughts for attaching these sections to the larger quilt here.

so let's talk about this month's specifics.

section three components

all measurements are cut/unfinished, not finished

5.5” sq in sq (3.5”), bordered  A9/pg 22, pg 23
4.5 sq in sq, XX/pg 22
10.5” sq in sq w/ courthouse steps A13/pg 23-24
9.5” colour wheel A/pg 5

28 – 9.5”, 8.5”
29-33 – 3.5”
34-37 – 3.5”, 1.5”

section four components

8.5” courthouse steps U/pg 20

8.5” hst block L/pg 16

the 5.5" bordered sq in sq block is very straightforward. make a 3.5" sq in sq, and add a border. you should be starting to feel familiar with the sq in sq blocks by now. section three incorporates the block in two sizes, as this bordered block starts with the 3.5", and there is also a 4.5" unbordered sq in sq. (i shared an alternate construction method and measurements for the 3.5" and 4.5" blocks already for those who don't prefer the stitch and flip method in the pattern.)

the 10.5" sq in sq has courthouse steps around the central square and a border on the outside. ms. kingwell seems to refer to the added borders on squares inside the blocks as "courthouse steps". that's the difference between the sq in sq blocks and the sq in sq with courthouse steps, in case you couldn't tell. (which i'm sure you smarty pants already could.)

 colour wheel is a fun block. it's the very first one i ever made for this quilt, so mine's been hanging around here for quite some time. that elephant in the middle and the colors i chose for this block have really guided my choices for the entire quilt as i have proceeded. megan shared her process and some snags to look out for on her post this month.

there are two courthouse step blocks this month: 8.5" for section four and 10.5" for section three (which i still haven't done). this is very similar to a log cabin block only the layers are built symmetrically in pairs around the central piece rather than singly in a winding/spiraling fashion. this block is just a lot of strip cutting and sewing. press all your seams as you go and watch that scant 1/4" seam.

section four's second block is the hst block, a simple composition of 16 - 2.5" hsts in a 4x4 grid layout. i talked a little bit about making my block here, as well as the project it inspired.

there you have it, now go get sections three and four!
happy gypsy-ing, friends.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

gypsy wife pdf block and strip charts

gypsy wife friends, if you are in need of the pdf files of the block or strip charts, i now have them available to you with only a click! the dear rachel hauser, of stitched in color, tipped me off on how to embed the pdf file link by uploading to google drive. hallelujah! now you don't have to wait for me to email and i don't have to worry that i forgot to email them to you. if i did (shame on me!) forget to email the files to you, now you can skip right past me and download them yourselves.

gypsy wife block chart

gypsy wife strips chart


Monday, March 28, 2016

gypsy wife section two link party

 march is winding up, so it's time to complete section two and link up your posts below.

no one minds that mine is still technically in 5 pieces, right? that will be dealt with shortly.

how did this month go for you? i know pershing was quite a block to tackle. still, i have seen many section two's completed on instagram. i think in general it was an easy-ish month/section. hardly any strips this time around.

the main complaint i am hearing is people are having difficulty in getting the sizing right on section pieces which leads to them not matching up well. if you are experiencing this, you are not alone! this is such a huge frustration after all the work put into individual blocks. i think the key here is in the scant 1/4" seam. i've noticed that even when my component pieces are perfectly sized i can have trouble with the block being a bit small. just the nature of working with so many intricate pieces, i suppose. so if my pieces are accurately sized, it has to be my seam wherein the problem lies, right? it's not too hard to adjust for that when a few pieces are going together, but it can make a big difference in the areas where there are lots of pieces or strips. my best advice is master that scant 1/4" seam and keep trucking. i know we all want these labor-intensive quilts to be perfect, but i'm told by the veterans that it's such a busy quilt, the little faults tend to get lost. so let's just keep going, shall we?

did you know that even those spectacular 1/4" piecing feet you buy for your machine need to be checked? if you are having sizing issues, i suggest you check your foot for accuracy. and the next step is to figure out the scant 1/4" seam, which basically means you are sewing a thread or two less than 1/4".

for some guidance on the scant 1/4" seam or how to find out if your machine foot is accurate, check out some of these tutorials:

diary of a quilter
that quarter inch!

i hope this helps!

you know what else is giving me just a bit of trouble? keeping track of my strips! goodness, they switch places quickly. currently, i have a whole section on design wall A where i am storing the strips in order. some of them are already cut into the smaller sections, so i just layer them together in their place. i've seen some ladies label their strips with the id numbers i assigned them. very smart!

so how did you do?

what do you think about this section and it's blocks?

any tips or suggestions for others who will be doing these in the future?

gyspy wife section two link party