Tuesday, February 27, 2024

lost and found


as i’ve been spending more time in my sewing room lately, i’ve realized just what a sorry state it’s in. consequently, i’ve been cleaning it up a little bit every time i’m in there.

last week i rummaged through a tote bag that didn’t seem to have much in it and found a missing box of threads needed to complete the handwork on “cheery (easter) quilt.”

i spent quite a bit of time going through every place i thought these threads would be last year when it was time to take the project on spring break with me, to no avail. i worked on the other colors in the quilt instead, completing the bronze bits and the sunrays. they turned out wonderfully, but i really did want to complete the other colors, too. 

i don’t ever recall the thread box being put in the bag where i found them, and had quite despaired of finding them again, so this was a very happy discovery for me.

i was either going to just give up on adding more stitching or order new threads, which i really didn’t want to do as they are around $10 apiece and i only need them for the one project, which really needs to be completed. so i did nothing for months because the quilt was out of season and i wasn't sewing anyway.

problem solved.

now i need to figure out how to pare down and simplify my sewing room so things like this aren't an issue anymore.

Monday, February 26, 2024

beach brellies, an evolution

i have had the immense pleasure of coming up with a new quilt from what was once a "mistake" which resulted in a set of "wasted" pieces. this new quilt came together as i played around with the culled pieces from a previous quilt. because the pieces were already cut, all i had to do was make a configuration and put them together. the resulting quilt is one i love so much. it's funny how this unplanned quilt has turned out better than many quilts i did plan ahead.

when i first started making "citrus season," i was thinking of citrus colors against the bluebird skies of our local citrus season, my favorite time of year, so i made the star of citrus colors and the background of bright, light blues. 

it didn't come out feeling the way i envisioned, so i changed the background color to almost-white colors rather like the pith in citrus fruits. it was much better. but it left me with several large blue & citrus hsts and blue pieces already cut. i also had the excess hsts from making the replacements with the white background.

i found all these extra pieces last week when i was working on the pinwheel border. i mistrimmed a few pieces for the pinwheels and had to look through my scraps for replacement pieces. i remembered i wanted to make a different quilt with all the extra pieces and began considering what to make with them as i continued to work on completing "citrus season."

i put all the extra hsts together in four large pinwheel shapes, which i liked a lot. it was a start, but needed more to make at least small-sized throw quilt. eventually i decided i wasn't going to use the pinwheels for the border on "citrus season" after all, and thought i would use them here instead. but, the small pinwheels felt too busy and show-stealing with my large pinwheels, so i paired them with some of the border pieces at the ends instead. this made a very pleasing, small-ish quilt i could easily & quickly put together.

the pinwheels in the summer-y colors reminded me of beach umbrellas, so i named it "beach brellies." i was going to make an all-solids backing with blue "water" running down one side and "sand" on the other, with colored strips in between, all to resemble the beach. but then i realized who i was making the quilt for and picked some youthful prints instead. it turned out to be the perfect place to use two heather ross prints, that came in sets i bought, that i did not think i would have any use for.  

the top came together almost instantly and i got the backing made right away, too. i was doing all this while also working on completing "citrus season," actually preferring to complete "beach brellies" because it was being easier. 

all was going along swimmingly until i trimmed down the main backing piece while it was over the top, and accidentally snipped off a corner of the top.

quilting has taught me fortitude in a new way. when all these problems occur, i just have to do the work to fix them and keep moving forward. that's the only way to get a quilt finished. no use fussing (too much) or despairing, which i am occasionally tempted to do.

fortunately, i had more of those background pieces still, and it was a small matter to remove the damaged piece and replace it. 

i chose to outline-quilt the seams in a yellow 12wt aurifil thread. i love the thick, chunky look of it.

here you can see the blue gingham i chose for the main backing fabric and the seahorses that found their perfect home on this beach-y quilt for a little boy.

 the strong orange on this paper hats/boats print is cute, but i was always puzzled where i would use it as it doesn't fit the aesthetic of what i usually make. so i'm really happy it found a home here because it adds a fun touch to an all-solids topped quilt.

"beach brellies" is all quilted up now and should be ready for handbinding over our spring break trip, which will allow me to take pictures of it completed at the beach. wouldn't that be perfect?

and as for those pesky pinwheels that keep getting culled from quilts, i have a new idea for them, too, one where they will be featured and won't pull attention away from anything else going on, which means i will eventually have three-for-one from the original "citrus season" quilt. and then there's all the leftover backing print pieces i want to make into something, too. this is turning into quite a chain-quilting event as the various pieces keep evolving into new projects, finding their own place.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

valentine’s crushes

i was just scrolling all my saved posts on instagram and now my mind is exploding and i want to make about 30 new quilts, stat. ugh. i wish i had the time.

i’ve had this pile of red, pink, and low-volume sitting on my pressing board for years (no, really - at least 3 years, i’m that slow) that i want to use since it’s february and all. i was thinking of a companion quilt set something along the lines of these cuties: a modified log cabin block and strip quilt. 

 i did walk into my sewing room with the intent to start these valentine's quilts, but then i worked on my citrus season quilts instead because i want to take them with me on our spring break trip for handbinding.

it was only the desire to have the other quilts ready for handbinding that kept me from starting the new quilts. i have no problem starting new projects no matter how many wips i have on hand. i make quilts because i enjoy many parts of the process, and sometimes it's simply the act of sewing and creating that i want to do regardless of the outcome. my quilts do eventually get made, so i will continue to work on the part of the process that i feel like at the moment. sometimes the part i want to do is the starting.

however, i'm deep in citrus season now, these valentine's ideas will just have to wait until i get the itch again. so i'm filing these ideas away til later.

Monday, February 19, 2024

citrus season, again

i went into my sewing room to start something new because i needed a creative break, but then i (wisely, reasonably) decided to work on this old wip instead. 

i have this pile of valentine's fabrics i've wanted to make into a quilt sitting just off my pressing board for a few years now, and since it was only valentine's a few days ago, it's still february, and i'm still noshing off our family's valentine's dinner candy bar, i was in the mood for some pink and red.

but, i thought about how march is right around the corner and it would be nice to have this spring-y, citrus-colored quilt put together. maybe i can even take it with me on our spring break trip to handbind. that is asking a lot, but it's not impossible.

this "citrus season" quilt was originally my march version for my "stella grande" quilt series (started way back in 2017! seven years ago! talk about a time speed warp). first it was on hold because my original background color didn't work.

then, somewhere along the way i did the maths for the border incorrectly and that needed fixing. i oversized the hsts for the border pinwheels by quite a lot. 

i finally worked out that i didn't have to make all new ones, i could just trim them down after pressing them open. it's an unfortunate waste of fabric, but not too much.

i was resolved to all the pressing and trimming (not exciting, rather monotonous work) when i accidentally turned my bloc-loc ruler the wrong way and messed up these two hsts. i almost despaired and gave up, because i had no idea how i was going to match the solids and didn't want to do all the work for two little cuttings.

fortunately, i noticed my neat piles of colored scraps leftover from all the "stella grandes," and i found large enough pieces of both colors right away. whew! that was a relief.

i thought i had all the pieces for the border all sewn up and ready to become hsts and pinwheels, but as i got making, it seems maybe not. i have more of some than others. maybe some are missing? or maybe i have too many? i'll know soon.

if i am short, i'll just figure that out. i definitely still have scraps of the exact fabrics. i was just really hoping to be done with this part and don't look forward to circling back to the beginning of cutting more pieces for hsts. 

at least i can cut them the correct size this time!

my favorite part of this quilt is probably acutally the back, which is saying a lot because i really do like the colors of the top. but all the citrusy pieces i picked out are just so good that i want to make a different quilt with them, too.

and then there is that gorgeous sandi henderson "meadowsweet" rose print in just the right colors that will be the focus piece of the backing. soooo pretty. it's part of what's motivating me to finish the quilt.

Turns out I am not short on pinwheels, but now they are done, I don’t love them as a border. That was an evening’s work to get them made. I suppose I can use them in another related pinwheel quilt instead. Yay, it’s already half started! Happy two-for-one mistake, I guess?

I like this stripe border instead. It keeps the feel of the quilt that I want. The pinwheels were just screaming at me with their loud, contrasty boldness. These still feel festive and lively, but not distracting. 

In the small photo, the effect is lessened, but I know what I’m seeing in person. And how strange is the change in the lighting in my piano room just a few minutes apart?

searching the blog, i realize i never really posted much about this particular "stella grande" in the midst of the rest. i did put some photos up on instagram as i got started.

this is my original backing pull. such happy colors and pretty prints together. i still love this.

don't the trimmings look like citrus pith and zest?

this really is a good quilt. i'm looking forward to having it complete and snugglable.

Friday, February 16, 2024

a block a day

i've chosen not to quilt much for quite a while as i attended to other parts of my life. i don't regret that. but lately i've felt the pull to quilt again. i still have some other major life projects that need a lot of attention, but i have decided to squeeze in a little quilting as well, sort of as a break from the other things. maybe i can't do an hour a day like i once could, but i think i can manage a block a day on a few projects. 

i have two projects just perfect for a quick fix on a daily basis: "sunny crossroads" and "cute betsy hearts." i have fabric piles pulled for each and even some parts already cut.

this week, in addition to the bears i already shared, i managed to make 3 sets of crossroads blocks and two more hearts.

that feels pretty good!

i also realized today just what horribly bad condition my sewing room is in. it needs help desperately. frankly, it's overwhelming and i don't want to deal with it. any time i start trying to fix things it's a vicious cycle of shifting things around and never knowing what to do first.

so i've committed to putting away at least 5 fabrics every day before i sew. baby steps.

i had a few visitors today while i was taking my moment. 

and i also spent time working on another project because my kitchen design work wasn't going well at all. so i took a real break and just quilted like i used to.

i'll share more on that soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

heart how-to


my "cute betsy liberty heart" blocks are underway.

while making this aqua blue heart, i snapped some crummy indoor, nighttime photos of the process so you can make one, too.

all seams a scant 1/4" and press well, or you will lose your points.

i have made two different size hearts so far. this one uses 2.5" strip widths and the previous pink one, due to a cutting mistake, uses 2.25" strips. for now, i'm undecided which size i want to use. i already have lots of betsy cut in 2.5" strips and i tend to use that size for my liberty projects. however, i like the smaller heart a little better. the diminutive size is cuter.

i think i'll try one more with a 2" strip and make up my mind then. the trial blocks can be worked into the backing or something.

*see below for measurement options & formula

for this heart block i used:
  • 1 - 2.5" square of heart fabric
  • 1 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangle of heart fabric
  • 2 - 3.5" squares of background fabric

cut the 3.5" squares on the diagonal. these will be your setting points for the corners.

sew the 2.5" squares together, press open to the background fabric.
sew the 4.5" rectangle to the squares as shown, press open to the squares.

carefully fold a setting triangle in half along the long side (base/the diagonal cut). pinch it down just at the bottom, making a small crease mark. alternately, measure where the center of the triangle is and mark with your favorite marking tool.

line up the center mark you made with the seam between the squares.

flip triangle over on the squares piece, right sides together, maintaining alignment with the marks. if you're a pinner, pin pieces together.

you can sew the triangle on now, or you can align the opposite triangle to the other side, pin, and sew them both before pressing open.

to align the opposite triangle, i used the point to guide placement. line up the point with the center seam mark. this can be done along with the first triangle or after you've sewn the first one.

once the first two triangles are sewn on and pressed open, do the next two.

again, use the pinch mark or tips to align the pieces. sew & press open.

hello, cutey!

i'm undecided on how big the quilt will be or how many blocks i need. i want to use liberty as the backing, probably a full piece, so it will be on the smaller lap quilt size. for now, i'm going to make maybe one a day and see where it gets me.

i started with cutting 3 wof strips, one each:
  • 2.5" liberty tana lawn in betsy (heart fabric)
  • 2.5" low-volume background
  • 3.5" low-volume background
then i sub-cut the strips:
  • 2.5" squares & 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles of heart fabric, 1 per heart
  • 2.5" squares of background, 1 per heart
  • 3.5" squares of background, to be cut on the diagonal for corner setting points, 2 per block
*i will use the low-volume more than once, so i cut all the pieces for that right away. 
i'm not sure yet how many hearts of each fabrics i'll be making, so i actually only cut one set of the betsy fabric. i'll cut more as i need them, but having 2.5" lengths of betsy is not a problem for me at all. i use that size in lots of my projects, and scraps like these often inspire my next liberty project.

i based my block size on using 2.5" strips because i already have many betsy pieces in this size. if you want to make another size block, here's the formula for determining size:
  • the heart pieces will be your strip size cut into squares (ex 2.5" x 2.5" square) and rectangles that are twice as long as your square, minus 1/2" (ex 2.5" x 2 - .5" = 4.5")
  • the background setting triangles will be cut from squares 1" larger than your heart square size (ex: 2.5" heart square = 3.5" background square to cut on diagonal for setting triangles)
here are a few size options if you don't want to do the math:
  • 1.5" square for heart & background, 1.5" x 2.5" rectangle for heart, 2.5" background squares for setting triangles
  • 2" square for heart & background, 2" x 3.5" rectangle for heart, 3" background squares for setting triangles
  • 3" square for heart & background, 3" x 5.5" rectangle for heart, 4" background squares for setting triangles
as for fabric requirements, quilt size, and block numbers, you'll have to decide that for yourself, loves.

Monday, February 12, 2024

head scratcher


when d4 turned 8, we went fabric shopping. she picked out some fabrics she liked and i helped her fill in with some coordinating pieces so we could make a "two dozen, please" quilt, like her sister made, which is 12 fat quarters cut in half and arranged in a 3 x 8 grid. 

i thought her red, navy, papyrus, and purpley-pink palette was cute, and it was going to be so fun to have my cute little quilt buddy make her very own full-size quilt.

well, that was a few years ago.
the little 8 year old is about to turn 16 this month.

i have to look back and wonder why that quilt never got made. then i consider the timing of the purchase and i kind of understand. not too long after that birthday, her daddy had a rock climbing accident and our lives turned upside down for many months. and then ... you, know. stuff happens, other projects take priority, and suddenly you find yourself 8 years down the road.

this past weekend she and i were the only ones home for a whole day and i got to thinking about that quilt we never made. i went on a hunt in the nooks and crannies of my over-stuffed sewing room and found them squashed in a hidden basket.

we considered the fabrics and i suggested we make a "paint lake" quilt with them. it's also an easy quilt, but has a little more interest than my "two dozen, please" pattern. i thought it would be fun.

she wanted a nap.

the "paint lake" quilt actually requires 18 fabrics, so while she was napping i pulled more fabrics to coordinate with the original stack. my paint lake has some really bold, bright colors and a lot of low-volume. it's very high-contrast, so most of the new fabrics i pulled were low-volume. i thought we had a good thing going.

when she woke up, she was less than enthused. i got her to press the fabrics so i could cut them for her, and she told me how sewing really "isn't her thing," that she thinks she liked shopping for the fabrics back in the day but that she doesn't really want to make anything with them. but she pressed for me anyway and i got cutting. 

we used my original "fall paint lake" quilt (still being qulited) to help us layout the pieces for this one.

when we were done, we didn't love it.

and now i'm at a loss what to do.

i think that happens sometimes with quilts or ideas in general. on the one hand, i'm perfectly fine just putting all the pieces in the scrap piles and moving on. i don't get much quilt time these days and i don't want to waste my precious time on a project my heart isn't into. or spend all the time hold my daughter's feet to the fire on a project she doesn't want to do or doesn't like any more.

she told me that in addition to sewing "not being her thing," she doesn't think she really liked the fabrics in the first place. i went back and reread my origianl post about her buying these fabrics and it looks like she did indeed pick them herself (with a little guidance) and that she liked them. but that's not the way she remembers it.

so now what?

do we rearrange and edit, try to switch out some fabrics?

this morning, with fresh eyes, i pulled up the paint lake hashtag to get perspective on what i like about the pattern and what might be wrong with our version.

here are some i like and think work well:

i like it best when the colors aren't blocked together in the 3 strip arrangements the quilt calls for.

i tried adding some more strong red and taking out a few of the lightest prints i added in to increase the numbers. all her original prints have been maintained:

 i also auditioned a blush pink piece, which color appears in three of the prints.

awaiting a verdict from d4.
today she tells me she does like it after all, but i think she's just trying to please me.