Tuesday, December 13, 2022

another crossroad

do i need another wip? of course i do! i've been thinking of making another "crossroads" quilt in low-volume fabrics and in early december i just went ahead and started it.

"crossroads" blocks are so fun to make as each is a small pairing of fabrics and a mini project in itself. my first one came together a few blocks at a time over several months and i decided that starting another one would allow me to have fun one or two blocks at a time when i didn't have much time to quilt but wanted to do something quick and satisfying to sew.

i decided to go with pink centers instead of the traditional red centers since the fabrics would all be low volume. red seemed like it would be too strong, so a softer red (aka pink) would be better. kona's color of the year 2017, pink flamingo, is a lovely bright pink with a bit of coral to it.

i found so many fun prints in my stash and scraps that are low volume. i decided to use color prints for the rectangles (fields) and neutral prints for the strips (roads). i've generally gone for contrast in density within the block between those two parts. 

my definition of low-volume is a little loose. some of my early picks were very light in color. others i grabbed seemed low-volume when i took them off the shelf, but felt a lot more vibrant when placed with the other light ones. i think that will balance out as i go.

this older leah duncan print is well-loved and i was excited to include it in this quilt, but it came out a lot more saturated with color than i expected compared to the other blocks. but i'm loving it and keeping it anyway.

i'm so glad i started this project in conjunction with the others i have going because it's been quite fun and satisfying. i've been using little bits of some favorite fabrics that i still have in little scraps, like this cute firefly bunting print.  

i've found several liberty tana lawns that are working beautifully. i was unsure about using that art gallery fabrics oval elements with the "ros" print, but i think it works really well. 

most of the prints i started with had pinks in them and went really well with the flamingo centers. when i decided to add other prints that didn't have any pinks in them, i was unsure they'd work. but they totally do. that's one of the fun things about the consistent centers in the blocks - they really tie the quilt together and make all the scrappiness feel cohesive.

this "theo" liberty print is just the cutest with the grey gingham, isn't it? it might be my favorite so far.

if you haven't started a crossroads quilt yet, what's stopping you?! go over to treehouse textiles and get yourself the pattern and start pulling scraps together. you will love it!

and, yes, i already know which one i'm making next when this one is finished.
any guesses?

Monday, October 24, 2022

basting away

this weekend i unexpectedly got some freetime and i decided to get some quilt tops out of the "needs a backing" queue and have a back-making & basting party. once i have quilt tops pieced, i enjoy moving several of them through the next phases to finishing in batches.

i had 5 completed tops that needed backings: "frosted forest star", "fall paint lake", "aunt bets mother's day", "melonaide brightside", and my crossroads quilt.

i had already ordered backings for "fall paint lake" and "aunt bets mother's day", so i started with making those two backings. the first was just two large prints sewn together - easy and done quickly. for "aunt bets" i wanted to add a strip of scraps from the top between the two large pieces i had selected for the back. that took a bit more time, but not much.

a little tip from when i was basting "fall paint lake" - the seam wasn't laying down well (i may have actually neglected to press it when i finished the back a few days ago), so i grabbed my little manual seam roller i keep at my sewing machine for pressing open small seams i don't want to do at the pressing table. i baste on my tile floor, which made a great place to press with the roller. it worked like a charm! i didn't have to untape the whole thing from the floor and wrestle it across the pressing table, which would have been so much more work.

friday night, when i got the two decided backings done, i took a break from backings and pieced a bunch of strips together for a fall scrap quilt i'm working on. then i started looking for a back for the "frosted forest star" and got stumped. it has very specific colors on the front, and not many at that. plus, it's supposed to feel like a winter forest, so i wanted any print i might use to fit that theme somehow. finding that combination proved impossible in my sewing room and online (where colors are especially hard to discern). i'm just going to keep my eyes open and wait that one out. or maybe eventually decide on a solid  backing in colors from the top.

that was basically the end of my productivity until this morning, when i knew i needed to either get those babies basted before anyone woke up or it wouldn't happen. it was finish up or clean up because there was an explosion of fabric all over the front part of the house and that needed to end. three days was enough.

i got up early and basted the first two quilts as soon as i rolled out of bed. that was going to be it, but i thought i should go ahead and see if i could quickly knock out "brightside", too. over the weekend i had begun to consider a butterfly print from the "stay gold" collection by kimberly kight for ruby star society. after i decided on it, i began to have a vague memory of maybe actually purchasing it for that purpose. remembering that would have saved me some time, for sure!

i had quite enough to make a full backing from just this one fabric, and i was tempted to do so, but i didn't feel like piecing it together because i didn't think i could do it in a way that would make me happy with the results. 

i remembered there were leftovers of a coordinating melon-colored sateen that we used as the backing for d5's "the pleasantest thing", and i decided to use that as another piece for this backing. they coordinated perfectly and i zipped that up quickly, too. the spray basting part takes maybe 25 minutes, start to finish, so i managed to get that done also.

this quilt happened to get the very last piece from my 2nd giant batting roll of "warm and natural" quilt batting. when i saw the roll was getting low last year, i tried to replace it with a new one from joann crafts, where i had purchased the 1st two, and discovered they no longer sold that brand. i couldn't locate it online, either. i don't know if the company folded or if joann crafts just switched brands. i've been satisfied with this brand and really liked having it on a roll at my disposal in my sewing room. i bought the new brand joann craft now carries, but it doesn't seem the same at all. i guess we'll see soon what it's like. it's the end of an era in my quilt making journey.

once i had "brightside" basted, i began putting away all the things i had pulled out of my sewing room and spread around the adjacent piano room floor over the weekend. there were also a few already basted projects i was taking stock of which i had laid out on the floor. when i pulled them up to put away, i found "crossroads" top laying there under them! i hade completely forgotten this was another top i wanted to get backed and basted.

i was supposed to be going to the pilates gym in less than an hour, but i was itching to see if i could get just one more basting job done, so i began rummaging through my stash to come up with a backing. i found enough yardage of a lovely heather bailey print to make up one side of a backing. if i was going to piece the rest from smaller fabric cuts, i wasn't going to be able to do it before going to the gym class, so i was looking for another large cut. there is lots of heather ross also in the "crossroads" top, but i couldn't seem to find a large piece.

then i spied the beautiful yellow sleeping beauty print and there was enough of it! most of the yellows in the top are more gold in color, so i was wavering a bit. i looked at the light blue owl and pussy cat print and rapunzel prints. they would have also coordinated well and been lovely backing picks, but i would have to order yardage of them, which would mean waiting to back and baste this quilt another day. so i decided to go the easier, more cost-effective route and used the sleeping beauty print. i'm happy with it, no regrets.

i hustled and got the two pieces sewn together, then basted as quickly as i could. i went 5 minutes over time, which would mean being a tiny bit late to class, but i was so happy i'd managed to get everything done.

then i tried to quickly rinse my feet off to remove the spray basting they had picked up, as well as the bits of thread and fuzz stuck to it. my girls had been saying all morning, "mom, your feet are so dirty!," and i knew they were right but i hadn't realized just how dirty they were. four spray bastings had taken it's toll. 

after a full minute i did not have trying to get everything off, i knew i was beat.
pilates is a barefoot practice at my studio and there was no way i was going in there with grimy, grey, sticky, thread-covered feet. so i missed my workout for the day.

but hey, i now have FOUR quilts backed and basted!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

liberty holly hobbie


last year, i pulled a big pile of liberty tana lawn prints that had blue in them. several of the prints were some that i was less than crazy about. i do have quite a passion for liberty tana lawn, but it's very specific to certain prints i like. i don't just love liberty for the sake of it being liberty, as nice as tana lawn is.

so sometimes i order prints online and when they come they don't appeal to me much. either the print just doesn't look as i'd envisioned from the online thumbnail print or the colors are different than they appeared on screen. it happens.

i had this idea to use some of these prints, which felt sort of fall-ish in many cases, together in a quilt i might give to my neighbor. just because i didn't love all of them didn't mean someone else wouldn't. 

or maybe it would just be a fall version of our liberty + chambray church lap quilts, a series i've been adding to over time. i was uncommitted to the final destination of this quilt, i just wanted to make it. 

i had a small batch of 2.5" chambray strips leftover from previous liberty + chambray quilts. i decided i needed to use these up and only these in this quilt. each quilt i've made in this series varies in form from the others. this one was going to be vertically oriented strips and there would be more liberty prints than chambray in it (one way to use up those less-loved prints).

somewhere along the way i put in some other primary colored strips, which changed the feel to be less autumnal, but was still heavily blue. in my mind, i was calling this "liberty blues make do," a variation of the first quilt from the series, which i called "liberty makes do."

the strips lengths in this quilt are all improv cut. it's supposed to feel scrappy and put together from leftovers, having a "make do" with what was on hand feel. so i built the rows from various lengths, one at a time. each row generally has 3 long pieces of liberty with short bits of chambray on the ends and between the prints.

i got several rows done and really did not like what i was seeing. it felt awkward and ugly and so unappealing. i decided it definitely wasn't going to the neighbor. i didn't even want to finish it. i added in some more cuts of some of the prints i like best and some stronger high-volume prints (like the dark "capel" and "ros" pieces) to balance out the many low- or mid-volume pieces.

many projects hit that "what have i done?!" phase, but this one felt especially bad. i put it away for a while. then early this year i just decided to finish it and get it over with.

when i got the rows all sewn together and took a photo of it, i thought, "wow. this looks so much like holly hobbie!"  holly hobbie was a popular artist in my late 70's/early 80's childhood who drew pictures of little girls in pioneer bonnets and patchwork dresses with aprons. maybe her pioneer style was popular because it was concurrent with the "little house on the prairie" years which all of us girls were also watching on television. i had holly hobbie bed sheets and probably the lunch box and doll, too.

this image, in particular, is classic holly hobbie to me. and it's exactly what i was thinking of when i looked at my ugly liberty + chambray quilt top.

i posted the image on IG and a few other ladies agreed with me about the holly hobbie vibe. that may be when my feelings about the quilt changed.

i made a backing for it out of a red and blue version of "felicite" i bought while at the liberty store in london, summer 2017, and a red and navy colorway of "ros" i had purchased because it matched a skirt i got that same year. that piece of "felicite" had fallen out of favor with me since i'd purchased it, and i had it in mind for that backing when i was considering giving this away. but i like it paired with the high-contrasting "ros" on this backing very much.

a few weeks ago my youngest daughter and i cracked open the sewing room doors for the first time in months to get her quilt top basted because just because i can't quilt lately (travel, lots of focus elsewhere, a house purchase and planning consuming my all) doesn't mean she shouldn't. and while we were at it, i stumbled across the top and backing for this quilt and decided to baste it for myself. 
why not?

i've taken a liking to my homely holly hobbie patchwork made from fine liberty lawn. something about how not-pretty it is has really grown on me. it feels like something that could have been pieced together from parts of my childhood. it feels familiar and comfortable and right.

and it feels like i need to keep it for myself, because i don't think it will appeal to or speak to anyone as it speaks to me. it sort of tells me a story about myself in a way i can't quite explain. i feel rather like a mother who loves her plain-faced child as no one else can, and i couldn't bear to send it out into the world to be unappreciated or undervalued

 the plan now is to get it handquilted with some straightline echo quilting in aurifil 12wt thread in 2022 white, just like all my other liberty + chambray ladies.

Friday, May 13, 2022

insta who?


my "crossroads" quilt top in the fabric sudoku stage before i joined the blocks.

a photo i never posted on instagram.

this photo is relevant to my thoughts i've tried to tease out and articulate in this post because i'm at a crossroads with instragram.

instagram has been increasingly unsatisfying for me as of late. yes, it's fast and instant. people post more, respond more quickly, there are no cross-blog format communication issues (ie: no-reply bloggers), hashtags make things way searchable, there is an endless stream of inspiration, and it's all right there in my hand on my phone (where my pictures are). it makes old-school blogging seem akin to snail mail.

but i'm bugged.

a few things have brought this on.

1) instagram has recently shifted it's focus to favor videos over photos. the almighty algorithm heavily favors video posts, reels, so most people now post reels over still photos. this irritates me to no end. there are occasions when it's helpful to see a video about some aspect of quilting. but in general, when it comes to quilts, i want a still photo i can study and enlarge when needed. now i'm often like, "wait! i didn't get to see that! bring it back!" and i have to watch the video over and over to see what i was looking for, spending far more time than if i could just look at it in a still photo. 

i don't make videos to post myself, but i imagine it takes a lot more time to create videos and post them as well. ugh! who needs to spend more time on instagram? not me.

so i'm really unhappy with the shift in format. just give me quilt pictures, please.

on a related note - the algorithm itself is so dang annoying. it pushes people or posts i would like to see occasionally far more than the ones that are most interesting or important to me. the way it drops some people from my feed entirely is really frustrating. i try to regulate and limit my time on instagram through a number of self-imposed methods, one of which is following a very limited number of people. it can seem unsocial or unfriendly, but i only follow accounts that really inspire me or people i genuinely have a desire to stay connected with. being a human with limited time, that has to be a small number. then instagram goes and only shows me a portion of those people, usually the big accounts rather than my friends, who are mostly other small-time hobby quilters like me.

it just feels like a constant battle to get what i want rather than what's being pushed on me.

2) in february i went to quiltcon 2022 in phoenix with my youngest daughter. i hadn't been on IG much at all for quite a while, so i was unaware who would be attending or who's work i might be running into there. none of my best quilty friends were going or we would have talked about it. 

and i found myself not caring as much about meeting up with people who could have potentially been there as i once would have. i think that comes down to realizing that my online quilty friendships formed on instagram are much more shallow (not as deep or connected) than those i once made through blogging. 

the friendships i once formed through blogging were more communicative than the short comments allow for on insta, and therefore deeper and more meaningful. with blogging, i got to know people a lot better. for one thing, posts were generally longer (even the ones that weren't wordy) than on insta so we'd have more information about each other, the projects we were working on, and maybe even real life news. peoples' voices and personalities came through more clearly.

then there was the emailing. comments came to my inbox and i'd have back and forth email conversations with other quilters that often branched out into our personal lives, not just staying contained to our quilting.

i really feel like i knew my blog friends more and communicated with them a lot more than i do with those i've since found on insta. there are a handful of ladies i've become rather connected to through instagram since my online quilt life has moved over there. i think given the chance to communicate with these gals the way i once did with my blog friends, they'd be the same level of friend i once made. 

but circumstances being what they are, that just hasn't happened.

once apon a time i had a network of a dozen or so quilt blog friends that i regularly emailed with and another dozen or so that were in the second tier. there was a handful of gals i regularly exchanged not just emails with, but actual mail with. we'd send each other packages of fabric or quilt goodies, birthday presents or christmas cards. there was a lot more give-and-take, generous sharing going on in the blog realm. 

i eventually met five of these ladies in person while travelling. i made a point of meeting up with them when i was nearby. two of those meetings were abroad and three were at a previous quiltcon.

to date, i'm only regularly in contact with one original blog friend through means outside of the gram (hi, tracy!). we still message, email, and even text periodically. sadly, all the other relationships have come down to short comments sprinkled here and there, and a DM every once in a while.

i don't honestly know if there's a way back from this. it's not the end of the world - it's just a major shift i've noticed over the years between blogging and moving to instagram. you can maintain a level of communication on instagram, but it's not ideal for forming friendships.

3)  i've been listening to and reading "digital minimalism" by cal newport. it's got me thinking a lot about the role social media plays in my quilting and how i can most effectively meet those needs. i don't have the answers yet, for sure. but i'm thinking about it. and i'm feeling more and more like instagram might not be the best answer to my needs.

i've had my ups and downs with instagram use over the years:

 i've been sucked in too often and too long, checking way more than i should to see how well a post is doing on likes. i've found myself caring about numbers when i really don't and don't want to.

i've spent time scrolling when i could have been creating for myself instead despite my self-imposed guideline to "create before consuming" (thank you, becky higgins). sometimes there's no time left to quilt, so i've spent what little time i had looking at what other people decided to post rather than actually making something myself.

i've found myself posting just to feel involved and included, not because i had anything valuable to contribute or that needed to be recorded.

i find myself mindlessly scrolling and coming away feeling deflated and uninspired. i've noticed that limiting my engagement time and frequency actually feels better. when i only check in every so often (once a week, every few weeks), it's a lot more refreshing, and there seems to be more new content rather than a rehash of what i've been seeing.

so on the one hand, i'd really like to go back to blogging days. 

in some ways blogging took more time because it was a deeper dive - more words, more photos, more content. but i honestly think i spent less time blogging than i have on IG when i've fallen in deep.

i'm going to have to examine my intentions and goals more closely so i can get clarity on where my needs will best be served. how much social media involvement do i need in my quilting life? when i figure it out, i'll let you know.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

collins, a finish

when you first start quilting, you try a lot of different things as you become familiar with the skills involved and begin to figure out what you like. you make a lot of things that don't necessarily reflect your personality or style. somewhere along the way, your own style preference and quilting "voice" emerge. your quilts begin to really feel like "you" and not just a reflection of someone else or what's current and popular. you discover the distinctive nuances of your own as they emerge and take shape.

when i scroll through my completed quilts, now numbering about 50 sewn over the last 11 years, i see lots of quilts that don't particularly reflect me personally, and i can see me finding my way to myself as a quilter. i feel like "collins" is a quilt that is very "me" in style and overall aesthetic. it's a simple pattern i created on my own (but so obvious and intuitive that i'm certain it's been done before). i am very, very happy with this make.

"collins" was inspired by a quilt i saw on instagram by maker megan collins. you can read about it's beginnings and design here. i loved megan's color palette and created a simple pattern to play with her colors in a quick and easy way. i call the block arrangement "coins and cash," because it involves 4 stacked "coins" paired with background rectangles of "cash." i've made one other quilt in this layout already, "summer berry fields," and would like to play with it again.

the backing for "collins" is one of my favorites. i just love the fabrics i used and how they look together. i got a large piece of "heart bloom" by amy butler from her "hapi" line for westminster fabrics, which makes up the bulk of the backing, and used one of my favorite low-volume blender prints, "sunshine" from "sunnyside up" line by corey yoder for moda fabrics, a print i bought in bulk and use a lot. between these two prints, i made a strip using up leftover cash and coin blocks from the top. i love, love, love this backing.

the only thing i don't absolutely love about this quilt is the binding i chose. it works pretty well, i just don't love the print as much as i do all the others in the quilt. and the color is more golden than the other browns i used. i'm pretty sure i didn't have enough of any prints from the top to make into a binding and not wanting to order anything new, pulled this from stash, thinking it would work. i don't hate it; i just don't love it as much as the rest of the quilt. it seems like i always end up using one fabric i'm not happy with in most quilts and this is the one for "collins."

i machine quilted it with a modern loops/herringbone pattern, which always works up very fast. i decided to go perpendicular to the coins with the loops running vertical on the quilt rather than parallel to the coins running horizontally, for some contrast and unexpectedness. this did require me to do more marking of the top with my hera marker, but it was worth the minimal extra effort.

i completed the binding on "collins" last march and it's been loved and used in our family room rotation for a year now. for some reason i never got around to posting it as a finish.

here's a look at the top and backing fully laid out:

it measures 52" x 64".
you can see more photos of "collins" in progress on instagram at #collinsquilt

Saturday, March 19, 2022

spring break stitches

We’ve been Spring Break-ing with our kids for a change. Sounds weird, but we are normally not with the family for Spring Break as we were married the weekend before Spring Break as college students 27 years ago. So we’re usually celebrating our anniversary together somewhere and the kids enjoy their time off at home with a grandparent or whoever is babysitting for us. 

This year we’re all in Mexico together with a bushel of cousins in tow.

I brought along my bright and sunny Cheery quilt to give the handquilting treatment to when I’m relaxing inside out of the bright sun. Of all my quilts, I think this is the perfect one for a Mexico photoshoot, because of the colorful palette.

I also forgot how cold this room is at night (been here twice before) and how thin the provided bedding is, so I’ve been quite grateful for the added layer each night. Who knew quilts were needed for tropical vacations?

I had high hopes for finishing the handwork on this quilt this week, but I neglected to bring all the thread colors with me. I left behind the white for the sun and rays on the yellow blocks, and the golds, too. 

But I should have the colored frames all done before we head home, and that’s great progress.

Most of the frames have involved straightforward stitching around a square. But there is this one block that has a mix of rose and lilac in the strips that make up the frames, not all symmetrical as they were improv pieced.

It took me a bit to figure out how to stitch this one, and I had my best idea after I’d already put some of the rows in. But I think it worked out well and am satisfied with what I did.

The handwork is showing up texturally on the mostly-solid Curry backing quite well. I like the effect. This is one of the main reasons I decided to handquilt the frames in the various colors.

But …

My stitches are coming out so tiny on the back that it’s not creating colorful boxes like I’d envisioned. If you look closely, the colors are discernible, but just barely. Eh, so it goes. No regrets. 

It’s been a great week for my quilting and as a family vacation. Always nice for me when I can combine the two somehow.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this quilt not just so it can be in use, but so I can throw it in the wash. It’s picked up a lot of fuzz and bits of stuff as I’ve carried it around, which is unsightly for photos. I’d like to wash out a lot of the wrinkles and creases while washing in more quilty crinkle. Also, this is another quilt that had spraybasting issues, which I’m hoping will be resolved with washing. If not, the random speckles will just become part of the design.

Happy Spring and happy stitching to you wherever you are and whatever you’re working on, friends!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

handwork, spring and fall


when i dreamed up "cheery" quilt, i envisioned doing some white handstitching in the yellow boxes. i plan to do a sun in one block and have the rays spread out through other blocks. i've already machine quilted between the blocks and around the yellow squares for some structure and stability. now i need to add those handquilting details.

not too long ago i got the idea to also do some handstitching in the colored frames. but rather than stand out, i wanted these stitches to blend in with the quilt top. therefore, i'll decided to get colored threads to match each of the frame colors. this will add texture, interest, and detail, as well as stability to the quilt. i also think all the stitchy colored boxes will look cool on the mostly solid curry colored backing.

 so i placed an order from hawthorne theads for some other colors of aurifil 12wt to match the colors in the frames. i was ordering from digital color swatches online, so i wasn't too sure how close i could match colors.

when the threads arrived, i was pleasantly surprised to see most of them were quite close to my fabric colors. the blue isn't as bright of a light blue - it's more dusky, but i think it will blend quite well once stitched in. the raspberry color was the furthest off, but i think it will also look okay once i get stitching.

the thread i had the hardest time selecting was the coral/melon orange color. there were several colors that seemed like they could be close, so i just ordered them all. 

when they arrived, i found i could have gotten any one of them and been just fine. look how close they are to each other! nearly indistiguishable. yes, they do all have different numbers on them and are technically different colors, but you really can't tell just by looking.

we're heading to the beach for spring break and i plan to take this project with me. let's hope i can get a lot done while lounging and listening to some books on audible. as i already have the quilt bound, if i can get the handwork done, i'll have it ready for spring and easter season this year.

once the "cheery" easter quilt is done, i can turn my focus back to handquilting my fall log cabin quilt. i'm working my way around each side of the log strips in all the blocks.

i have one block done, eleven to go.

winding my way like a snail around and around the interior of the block covers a lot more ground than one would imagine. but i don't mind. i do handwork because i enjoy the slow, methodical rhythm of it, not because i have to do it.

this quilt is also already bound and machine quilted with aurifil 12wt in brass in the sashing. i wasn't sure i wanted to handquilt the blocks, so i did all the sashing by machine until i could make up my mind. the handstitching in the strips is much more subtle, but i think it will add a nice texture to the quilt overall and will increase the stability with the added stitching together of layers.

or i could stay in the spring mode with this lovely avocado green work i haven't touched in ages. i'm still working away at "mildred and ethel," now working on the insides of the green diamonds. 

and i will have my latest liberty+chambray church lap quilt ("liberty blues make do," which is the most fallish in palette of the series) basted very soon; so the queue for handwork is pretty full.

spring, fall, spring, fall.
if i had time, i'd handquilt them all.

i have also considered handquilting my "crossroads" and "aunt bet's mother's day" quilts, but i don't know that i should wait that long to complete them. at the rate i'm going, i won't get to them for another decade. then again, it's not like i've been quick about machine quilting them, either. i suppose if i manage to get these projects handquilted before i get the others backed, basted, and machine quilted, i can reconsider. 

for now, i've got my hands full of stitching with these projects and rarely find the time to work on them. i think i should commit to something like 15 minutes a day or one thread length. either one would add up quickly and seems quite doable.

one hand stitch at a time, quilts get done.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

crossroads joy

last spring i came across a quilt pattern known as the "crossroads quilt" by treehouse textiles, an australian company. i don't know where i first saw it or exactly how i got sucked in, but i surely did get sucked in. 

it's such a simple block and a great opportunity for making a very scrappy quilt. there's something about that red center that ties all the crazy blocks together. i was definitely intrigued, but it was marci warren's description of the quilt as "a rowdy yard sale" that tipped me over. 

i needed a rowdy yardsale quilt. especially one with little red squares in it.

i knew this kind of scrappy quilt could be a project i did one block at a time, here and there, so i decided to just get it started. because the more quilts i start, the more i finish.

it took me a bit to commit to buying the pattern, though. i have a confession to make - i loathe buying patterns i know i could easily figure out on my own. i actually like doing quilt math! often, when i see a quilt i like, the first thing i do in my mind is figure out how it's constructed and what the probable dimensions are. it's part of the fun and challenge of quilting for me.

and this block is about as basic as it gets. but i checked in with tracy and she said i needed to do the right thing and buy the pattern if it wasn't a standard, traditional block. i think she's right. there are patterns for sale out there that reinvent the wheel many times over by using traditional blocks and calling it theirs; blocks that have been around and redone by many quilters for decades and decades. those i do not feel obligated to buy. if i see a quilt composed of, say, log cabin blocks or flying geese, i don't feel obligated to purchase. but i hadn't seen the crossroads block anywhere else, so i supported the designer. even though i paid $15au for one page of instructions given in about two paragraphs and one diagram.

my problem is not at all with supporting designers. i'm all for that and do it frequently. my grousing is about the cost to level of difficulty ratio here. (i'd say this is a $2-$5 pattern. i mean, literally, all i needed was someone to say, "the units are this size, the strips are this size, and the center is this size," and i would have been able to make the quilt.) 

but i paid for it. designers have a right to make money on their intellectual property just like i have a right to share free tutorials if i choose. and when someone asked me about the pattern, i did not give them the dimensions, but referred them to the designer.

now that i've aired my conscience and views on the matter, let's get back to the quilt.

i selected a fiery red, kona "pimento" 865, that definitely has orange tones in it, for my middle squares. i decided on a color palette of sunny yellow, bright greens, baby blue, navy, and orange, with bits of pink or red in the tiny accents, too.

then i got the real pleasure of digging into my scrap bins for my skinniest bits for the "road" strips.

i sat down to make one block and made four. it was just that fun! once i got over the price of the pattern, i've had nothing but joy out of these blocks.

each block is an opportunity for pairing a unique set of fabrics together. mulling over those pairings was quite pleasing. by approaching the quilt one or two blocks at a time, i got to spread the joy of fabric selection out throughout the process of making the top instead of doing all that at the beginning and then just grinding through the assembly.

each block is sort of like a simple mini in and of itself. i go to do all the parts of making a whole top - fabric selection, cutting, sewing - in many small chunks. there was no tedium or slogging through a lot of one chore all at once. it's more like a collection of many little projects eventually coming together as one larger project. making a couple at a time satisfied my itch to quilt very thoroughly. i never felt rushed to get on to more or the next set. for a quilter with sporadic chances to sew, this worked very well.

once or twice i made a single block late at night when i couldn't sleep and it was exactly what i needed to help my brain wind down. there was also little to get wrong, unlike most projects that i have to walk away from when i'm tired. i'm happy to report i never once had to unpick a single block!

i got to use skinny bits of fabrics i love, including several pieces of liberty.

i found myself gravitating toward a vintage look, which lead me to use mostly denyse scmidt, heather ross, and heather bailey fabrics.

part of the fun in this project was i gave myself permission not to press the fabrics before cutting and to use my little roller presser right at the machine when putting blocks together rather than pressing all the individual pieces as i joined them. this gave me blocks and seams that were not perfectly pressed, but it added to the feel of this being a vintage, handmade treasure found in grandma's attic. interestingly, once i began joining blocks i found no more distortion than when i do all the pressing by iron; probably because i'm a heavy ironer not a good little light presser.

this saved a ton of time and really freed me to enjoy the process of cutting one or two blocks and knocking them out without having to get up from the machine and press after every seam. it allowed me to chain piece a block more quickly, too. having to do all that up-and-down for the pressing on each block would have been quite tedious. a small iron and pressing mat next to the machine would have done the trick, too. but i don't have that set up currently. i think it's something i need to consider investing in soon.

i've worked on these blocks here and there, a few at a time over the last several months. for some inexplicable reason they are just so fun to make and quite addicting.

now that i have all 56 blocks completed, i am thinking what other color palette i want to make this quilt in because i will really miss these blocks! i cant remember the last time i enjoyed making blocks so much.