Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January Finishes

I have been pretty sick this month. First a regular chest cold, with lingering cough. And last week something else fun and exciting involving dizziness and extreme skin sensitivity. And it's super cold outside, so I hope I don't get sick again.

Anyway, let's look at my January goals:

1) Make the January block for Stash Bee and finalize my plans for February, make a block, and write a tutorial.
Completed! I made three blocks for the Stash Bee in January, two for my hive mama (Hive 8), and one for another hive (Hive 6), because I liked her pattern. I also decided on my block for February, and wrote up a tutorial that will go live on the Stash Bee blog on February 1.
Hive 6 Block

 Hive 8 Blocks

 My Block for February
2) Finish putting together the Community Quilt top; I've given up on waiting for other people to make additional house blocks. 
Completed! I actually got it put together, finally. The hardest part was squaring up all of the house and signature blocks. Layout and putting the rows together was good fun.
2)  Keep cutting half hexies.
Completed! I didn't cut many, but I did cut a few. So I'm going to call that a win.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Michigan Quilt

Having a three day (and thanks to the snow day, four day) weekend was good, since I've been pretty busy with things outside of the house. I did finally get some sewing in yesterday evening and managed to finish up the UP for the Michigan quilt (for all you non-Michiganders, that's the Upper Peninsula). I haven't quite written out the colors and amounts needed for the Lower Peninsula, but I have started, so maybe I can put a dent in that today.

So far it's nothing serious, but they say that we might get 4-6 inches today and then another 1-3 overnight. Oh right, and here's my picture of the Michigan quilt.

Background is Kona Pacific and the rest is from my stash. I am trying to match the base tones of the fabrics, and so far I feel like I've been relatively successful. After all, you can more or less see where the counties are. As this will be for my husband, there are some very appropriate chef-y prints in there, including an artichoke and a panel with chefs cooking pasta and seafood. Also things appropriate for the UP, like birch trees, pine trees, and snowflakes. I love having I Spy moments in my quilts. My biggest worry is going to be basting (will there be enough room in my living room) and quilting (how to get this thing through my machine and how to quilt it). These two issues make me think that I might actually try and rent a long-armer (would need to do a class first though) or send it out to someone. Either way, I don't think it's going to be done in time for his birthday on Feb. 6.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Community Quilt and DCMQG Meeting

I've had a pretty busy weekend thus far. Luckily it's a three day weekend for me, otherwise my hermit-like nature would rebel that I didn't have a single day to myself.

On Saturday I drove out to Virginia for the DCMQG meeting. It was one of our longer sewing days. Unfortunately, I got a late start, and then almost ran out of gas in the middle of DC. Finding a gas station while on the highway driving through the middle of DC is a crap shoot at best, so I just hoped that my gas would last until I got well away from the Pentagon. Somehow I don't think they're too keen on having anything flammable too near that building. Luckily I did in fact make it to a gas station, but I got there an hour after the meeting had started.

During the meeting we discussed the upcoming quilt show at the Anacostia Arts Center and a few other points of business. We also took really nice pictures for the quilt show submissions. I brought in my Riley Blake quilt as well as my Snowed In quilt to show to the group and had the Riley Blake quilt photographed.

The pictures were taken pinned against a white sheet with a camera on a tripod. I've never had a picture that displayed my quilt so nicely (flat, no feet/fingers, etc.). I am really hoping it gets accepted into the show.

Some other quilty highlights:


I also got some sewing done. In fact, I'm happy to announce that I finished the top of the Community Quilt.

Pretty proud of how it turned out. I also managed to figure out a way to keep the signature blocks near the houses that people made. I just need to sign the road piece next to the house block I made. Even though people sent me signature blocks on all sorts of greys, it worked out just fine. Just like the whites that aren't all Kona Snow. Especially once it's been quilted, I doubt anyone will notice. My design, but I'm thankful that so many people chipped in to make the blocks.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Community Quilt and Kate Spain

So yesterday, I FINALLY got some work done on the Community Quilt. I gave up on waiting for additional blocks to trickle in. I currently have the perfect amount for a 5x6 layout, which will result in a roughly 60x72" lap quilt. I say roughly because... well just read my last post. I think I have the seam allowance figured out, but it's not 100% accurate, because I have nothing to really guide the edge of my fabric so it ends up slightly wonky no matter what I do.

I actually managed to finish squaring up the house blocks. They were all over the place from just barely under 12.5" square to about 8x8". I also finished one of the road blocks that incorporate the signature blocks, but I've got a few more to do. And then because I need motivation to keep going, I decided to sew another row together and attach it to the skyline blocks. So glad I did, it's coming together nicely.

In other news, I may have gone a bit crazy. I participated in the #thegreatfabricdestash on Instagram. My first time shopping on Instagram. Somehow partway through yesterday I got this notion that I absolutely needed every single print that Kate Spain has every designed. So part of my extremely busy work day was spent doing research, writing a list, and starting the search. I've found almost everything, but I'm still holding out for a 12 Days of Christmas or Verna Charm Pack/FQ Bundle/Layer Cake. Anything that includes the whole line without having to try and track down every single one of the 36/40 (respectively) fabrics in the lines. Everything else I've found, although I was a bit hasty on the Central Park FQ bundle I found on Etsy. I managed to find a much cheaper bundle on Instagram half a day later. You live, you learn.

Kate Spain is my favorite designer because there isn't a single line of hers that I dislike. I love Tula Pink and Lizzy House as well, but occasionally their lines leave me hanging. 

Goodies coming my way in the mail include:

FQ Bundle of Fandango

FQ Bundle of Central Park

Charm Pack of Flurry

Charm Pack of Terrain

Charm Pack of Good Fortune

Charm Pack of Serenade

Charm Pack of Joy

Charm Pack of Cuzco (although I realized after I got home that I already have one, *oh shucks, right* baby quilt time, I guess)

Charm Pack of Honey Honey

Layer Cake and Charm Pack of Sunnyside (because a girl's gotta play)

Charm Pack of Daydream

I already have a Charm Pack of In From the Cold sitting at home, and I just recently used my Layer Cake of the same line to make my Snowed In quilt.

I can't wait for little packages to start arriving! And sorry for the picture heavy post (as I said, I went a bit crazy).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sew Much To Do

I currently have so many projects that I have started or need to start that it's hard to pick one to work on. I keep thinking that I should work on one of my bigger projects so I can baste it at the Sewing Day this weekend, but the weekend continues to creep closer and I'm slowly starting to panic.

Instead I made another Farmer's Wife block.

Block 24, 35 pieces

I used the templates to cut most of the pieces for this one, because they were odd sizes (I'm talking 1 and 9/16th inches and stuff like that). Also, my seam allowance was way scant because I ended up with an almost 7 inch block and I'm a little pissed because I'm going to lose pretty much all of those pretty points along the edge. My quarter inch foot, which I finally switched back to from my walking foot is so not a quarter inch.

The other thing I sewed tonight was a second Stash Bee block for the Hive 8 queen bee.

I hope she likes the bits of color in the mustaches and the sea horses. If I have time, my plan is to make two blocks or more each month. Partly because I know I'd love to get more than one block from people and partly because it's fun to dig through my stash and see what I can come up with.

Linking up to Lee's WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Farmer's Wife and Michigan Quilt

Got home from work and was exhausted. But I thought I'd put in a solid hour or two of sewing. Instead I put in four. I got the third column of the Michigan quilt done. This was fairly easy to accomplish since the bottom 4 blocks are solid background and were already cut. But the other four required choosing and cutting of fabric and then sewing.

The purple has more contrast, but my flash didn't quite reach there and it gets fairly dark on my craft room floor at night. Good thing I have task lighting over my cutting table otherwise I'd never get anything done. I'm quite happy about the fussy cut artichoke that I pulled out of my scrap bin since my hubby is a chef.

I also printed out templates for the Farmer's Wife quilt and then ended up just measuring out the pieces with my ruler for the first block.

Here is the completed Block #4

Theoretically I should have put the darkest brown in the middle, but it's fine like this too.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Farmer's Wife

Although I know it's going to take me forever to make the Nearly Insane quilt, especially if I continue to hand sew the blocks, I have decided that they are just too intricate to make it anything but a handwork project.

So instead I will also be trying my hand at the Farmer's Wife sampler quilt (it was either that or Tula Pink's City Sampler, but those just seem too easy compared to the Nearly Insane blocks). I'll be sticking with my idea of using the solids bundles I get this year from my No Prints Allowed Club subscription. Which means the first couple blocks will be in brown. I'm going to need to make 9-10 from each colorway.

For brown we have the following random picks: 4, 24, 30, 34, 38, 52, 61, 104, 110

Friday, January 10, 2014

Progress and Another Bee Block

I decided to make a block for the queen bee from Hive 6 of the Stash Bee, because I felt inspired by her block. It also allowed me to pull out my 2" squares from my scrap bin, which I haven't touched since I cut them.

January Block for Hive 6, based on this tutorial.

I also made progress on the pixelated Michigan quilt for my husband. I had finished cutting all the background "water" fabric (Kona Pacific) a couple days ago, as well as the reds for western most county in the Upper Peninsula. I am trying to keep the background colors more or less the same, so it reads as one county. The first two columns are done, because the bottom six squares are all water.

I also ordered the backing fabric today, so we'll see if I might be able to get the top done in time for our next guild meeting. I really need a larger space to baste my quilt than on my living room floor because this one promises to be huge. I'm a little scared about the quilting, because I'm 99% certain that straight line, or even "wavy" quilting won't work on this one.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bee Blocks and Nearly Insane

So I've spent the last few days in bed sick, which meant I didn't want to work on anything for other people, so I got some work done on my Nearly Insane blocks.

I finished 96(1), one of the edge pieces and I'm done with 48, one of the full blocks, as well.

Number: 96 (1)
Color: Brown
Pieces: 14
Number: 48
Color: Brown
Pieces: 29
However, after finishing two blocks, I keep seeing things I could be doing for accuracy if I were to machine sew these. So I'm tempted to try and recreate these blocks with machine patchwork just to see the difference. However, looking around the book, I see some pretty wacky math for some of the HSTs and stuff, so maybe that's not such a good plan.
I am, however, quite happy with my decision to use my solids bundles to make these blocks. Even brown, which is not my favorite color, looks good. And I'm planning to use Kona Snow sparingly in each block, more towards the middle so it's not going to interfere with the sashing.
Back before I got sick, I also sewed up the January block for the Stash Bee and my February block.

January Block, based on this tutorial.

February block, based on the Modified Bento Box tutorial, but I'll be writing up my own.

Riley Blake Challenge

Final Stats
Name: Riley Blake Challenge
Dimensions: 42.5x47.5 Inches
Pieces: Front - 223
Pattern: Inspired by Irish Cabins by Julie Hendricksen (Volume 2 of Sew Scrappy)
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
Anyone involved in the MQG knows that this year's fabric challenge was sponsored by Riley Blake. We were given a fat eighth bundle of blenders in various colors and were allowed to add any solids we wanted, as well as any other Riley Blake fabrics. I'd bookmarked the Irish Cabins pattern from Volume 2 of Sew Scrappy a while back, which does a traditional Irish double or triple chain with strip piecing, intending to just copy the pattern as is. However, after measuring what size blocks I could get out of the challenge fabric and looking through every single one of my quilting books and magazines (of which I am starting to amass a small stash), I decided to blow up the pattern and just do one "repeat" of the larger pattern. I drew it out on paper, re-drew it and added in the 18th and 19th row to match the pattern more closely and keep it from being truly square, and then counted, re-counted, and counted again how many colored squares and how many white squares I needed.
For anyone interested, here are the cutting instructions:
From assorted colored prints cut:
111 3" squares
From white background cut:
94 3" squares
4 3"x13" strips
4 3"x23" strips
From grey solid cut:
4 3"x8" strips
4 3"x18" strips (I cut these from my dark grey fabric)
2 3"x28" strips (you're going to need to have at least a half yard so you can cut this from the WOF)
I decided to add a few more prints to the mix, to add in a red, green, and black, as well as a second aqua and grey. I pieced the top in strips and then sewed them together. I used a semi-random approach (i.e. I laid it out on my floor in sections and then rearranged as I felt was necessary). I used a very scant 1/4" seam allowance, which ended up warping the panels, because it made the strips a little too short, so if you want to make one like this, I suggest carefully measuring your seams to make sure they are coming out at a 1/4".
The backing was made from one piece of rainbow chevrons, and because I didn't order enough, I decided to mirror the front by piecing some white and grey to insert into it. This became one of those happy accidents, because I love the back. Quilting is straight line quilting on the diagonal in the white squares. Looks great on the back, but also nicely frames the colored squares on the front. I used the Frixion pens for the first time to mark the quilting lines, and I am in love!
The binding is a black and white stripe, also by Riley Blake. I'm on a stripey binding kick lately. This quilt actually has no intended recipient, but that's ok. I'm hoping to display it at our Guild's February show.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Nearly Insane

No, I'm not nearly insane, well I may be once I finally finish this project. No, I am talking about this book.

My hubby got it for me for Christmas after I was inspired by Frances at Fabadashery. She is using all white/creams and reds for her quilt and EPP. Since I just started EPP and have to admit I love it, but more the smaller hexies than the bigger ones I'm trying my hand at currently, this seems like the perfect project to keep me interested. The blocks finish at 6" in the quilt, and have between 9 and 229 pieces per block (if you're counting, that's a 220 piece difference). Hence "nearly insane."

What's been bothering me is whether I should patchwork piece, try to figure out the paper piecing patterns, or EPP. I think I've finally settled on EPP, but I'm a woman, so I'm allowed to change my mind often (right?!).

What has me stumped is what to do about the fabric selection. I feel like I need a concrete plan going in, and I just can't settle.

Option 1) black and white prints with Kona Snow, maybe even with a spot of color (probably red), I just don't feel like I have a lot of "filler" prints for this type of quilt

Option 2) solids using the "no prints allowed" stack that I get every month plus Kona Snow, this holds a great deal of appeal, especially if I sub-divide the amount of blocks by 12 and then just pick that many out of a hat each month so it's random

Option 3) prints in a rainbow of colors, either based on my own list and pulled randomly, or on someone else's list, or based on ROY G BIV, I'm not sure I'm sold on this idea

Option 4) Monochromatic quilt, i.e. Kona Snow plus prints of only one color in every available shade, have a hard time choosing which color to go with, not red or blue, but maybe green (unfortunately my green stash is lacking big time)

Hmm, I think I answered my own question just by typing this all out. I think I'm liking Option 2 best, especially since it gives me a reason to use my new solids and cut into them right away. Plus I've wanted to make an all solids quilt for some time. There are 113 blocks or partial blocks. That's 9 blocks for 7 months and 10 for 5 months. Now to cut up and mix up my numbers so I can choose my first 9 blocks to work on.

Just to keep myself honest, I chose the following for December (brown) - I'll be lagging behind by about a month: 26, 29, 43, 48, 51, 56, 58, 88(2), and 96(1).

Snowed In Finish

Final Stats
Name: Snowed In
Dimensions: 68x85 Inches
Pieces: Front - 400
Pattern: Alternating bordered squares
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
This started with a layer cake of In From the Cold by Kate Spain for Moda. I loved the whole line, which is rare for me, so I decided to go for it. I should have gotten a second layer cake in Kona Snow, which is what I used for the background and done a hack and slash, but instead I cut it from yardage.
I left 2 squares out of the layer cake to get an even 40.
From each square, I cut the following:
1 5x5" square
2 2.5x5" strips
2 2.5x10" strips
From the Kona Snow I cut the following:
40 5x5" squares
80 2.5x5" strips (I actually cut these 3x5")
80 2.5x9" strips (I cut these 3x9.5" to have room to cut them down)
The pattern for the blocks is self-explanatory. Once made, I trimmed them down to 9" square, using the 6 3/4" marks on my 12.5" ruler in the corner of the center square to make sure all sides were even.
The backing is from one large piece of the red on white snowflake fabric from the line and some Kona Snow. Quilting is straight line about 1/2" from both sides of the center square. The trim is also from the line. I love striped binding.
And best of all, I got to keep it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Goals for 2014 and January

Having closed out another year, it's time to look back and reflect but also time to look forward and plan. I feel I do both pretty well. So here are my finishes for 2013:

1. Fracture Quilt - Complete Top, 2. Applique Toucan, 3. Red and White Star Quilt, 4. Low Volume Baby Quilt, 5. Christmas Quilt, 6. Riley Blake Challenge

The Riley Blake Challenge quilt was finished on New Year's Eve, I just don't have a final picture yet.

My Button

I will be participating in the 2014 A Lovely Year of Finishes again. I also decided to wait to restart Color Bee Shocked, because of some issues later in the year that I haven't quite gotten over. Instead I somehow managed to sign up for the Stash Bee, without actually remembering signing up. I have February as the queen bee. 

My January goal is to make the January block and finalize my plans for February, make a block, and write a tutorial.

As a stretch goal I have the following:
1) Finish putting together the Community Quilt top; I've given up on waiting for other people to make additional house blocks. 
2)  Keep cutting half hexies.

My sewing goals for 2014 are as follow:
1) Finish the Community Quilt
2) Finish the Hexie Wedding Quilt
3) Finish the top of the Plus Wedding Quilt
4) Make a commissioned plus quilt
5) Learn how to use a longarm machine
6) Make baby quilts as necessary (perhaps one for us, we'll see, no news yet)