Monday, October 17, 2016

Meet Murphy

No sewing happening around here right now. Here's why:

This is Murphy. He's an eleven week old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and he came into our family yesterday.

Murphy is a tri-color, mostly black with white and tan markings. Our beloved Baxter was a Blenheim, brown & white, and we wanted the new puppy to look as different as possible within the same breed so he'll be his own individual self.

Five pounds of high energy curiosity.

We played in the yard early this morning, and tried to take photos. Some in the sun, some in the shade, and most with Murphy moving, turned away from the camera, not paying attention, etc. Out of many attempts, I managed to capture this one of him sitting still.

Murphy came from the same breeder in Michigan that we got Baxter from. He did really well on the long car ride home to St. Louis yesterday, mostly slept on our laps the whole way except for a few play & potty breaks. He's quite the lap baby and likes nothing better than to be held. He's learning (noisily) that he doesn't get to be held whenever he wants. He's crate trained and he's doing really well with going outside so far. It will be quite an adjustment for him and for us to blend him into our lives.

Hopefully I'll be able to get back in the sewing room soon, but not until this little guy is a bit more settled in.

Linking up with Patchwork Times & Em's Scrapbag

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Controlled Chaos

If you visited last week, you may remember I was struggling with chaotic busy-ness and wild color in my Bento Box project, and I asked for input and suggestions. You came through and I thank you all for your comments and advice.

Here's the photo from last week:

I decided to go with matched pairs of block parts. While I was at Sew Me STL this past weekend I was able to sew the blocks together, and I ended up with 32 blocks.

Since I've been home I've been playing with layouts on the wall. I want a 4 x 5 layout, 20 blocks; this top with borders will finish at least 56 x 68". Since I have more blocks than I need, I can omit some.

After much experimentation, I made some decisions:

  • I chose to feature the blocks with a lot of coral in them, and leave out most of the blocks with green in them. 
  • I set the coral-edged blocks in diagonals. Likewise the yellow-edged blocks. 
  • I set them lights-together/darks-together. This arrangement makes for strong value contrast along the diagonal, and the light areas give the eye somewhere to rest. 

Here are the blocks on my design wall now, along with the border print I plan to use.

Sorry about the bad lighting in today's photos. It's raining here today and I had to use the flash. The coral is actually not quite so red in real life.

So what do you think? Should I add more green back in? Should I replace those two green blocks with some that don't have green, and omit green entirely? Should I go back to an alternate light/dark arrangement instead of the one that makes plusses?

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sew Much Fun at Retreat

STLMQG held our annual retreat this past weekend; the event is called Sew Me St Louis. We had 60 attendees; more snacks than we could possibly eat; a nice space with great lighting and lots of windows; and several workshops for those who signed up.

It was crowded, with two people per table, but I think we all had a great time. Even with all the power cords and irons, we only blew one fuse all weekend!

I spent a lot of time socializing and visiting. It was fun to see what everyone was working on. Most of the other people spent a lot of time socializing as well as working, too.

Because of the presidential debate in St. Louis last night, all the hotels in St. Louis were full. Ours was full of security people: Homeland Security, Secret Service, FBI. A cluster of them were having their coffee outside our sewing room windows yesterday morning. Those guys looked straight out of central casting: very fit, sunglasses, pistols, radios, uniforms with various insignia.... There was a bit of commotion as a lot of us clustered by the windows to check out the hottie in the crisp white shirt. Oh, my...  Some of the bolder girls went out to ask for photos, but no photos were allowed.

The other highlight of Sew Me STL was the scrap exchange. Participants brought a baggie of modern scraps, dumped it into the pile, and with organized chaos, pulled any scraps they wanted to refill their baggie.

I took along plenty of projects to keep me busy, and I got a lot done. In fact, I'm really pleased with how much I got done. Because it was so crowded in our sewing room, I didn't spread out my projects in progress to take photos of them. I'll get photos and post them later.
  • First I got blocks sewn together for my Bento Box project; that took most of the day Saturday. 
  • Then Saturday evening and Sunday morning I got my Crayon Challenge blocks made. It's just a table runner but I got the top together and I'll be able to get it finished in time for the November meeting. More about it in another post. 
  • Then yesterday I got the rows sewn together for my Roman Road top. I also got the parts made for the first border, assembled the border strips, and attached the top and bottom borders. You can see how the borders extend the X shape with the black hour-glasses. Here it is on my design wall this morning. It needs a good pressing before I can add the side borders. 

All in all it was a fun and productive weekend, and now I need to unpack my projects, regroup and see what my next steps are. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sunglasses, Please...

Yow! This is blinding!

I cut the Bento Box starter blocks evenly into fourths and put them on the design wall. I moved some around, but if I keep this layout, I can see a few more that need to be swapped.

But the overall effect on the wall is hard to look at. In the photo it's not so bad, but life size, wowza, that's a lot going on!!!

So, all the starter blocks have been cut into fourths. I'm using parts from the 25 that were made, but I want to end up with a 5 x 4 block layout, so I won't need all the parts.

Do you think it would help if, instead of mixed parts in each block, I used matching pairs of parts, like this? Or would it not make any difference to the overall busy-ness?

Would sashing help to give the eye somewhere to rest? I could use solid white with solid black cornerstones. But would that just be boring as well as busy?

Thanks so much for any advice you can offer!

Things I've learned so far:
1) Need more variety in the outer frame fabrics in the dark blocks; it's hard to keep the same fabric away from itself.
2) I'm very glad I cut the blocks evenly into fourths. If I had chosen the uneven option, it would have been even more chaotic and hard to look at.
3) In the photo above, I'm not loving the yellow paisley that was one of the inspiration fabrics. Too muddy looking compared to everything else.

Looking forward to your advice! This is destined to become a Heart Builders/My Stuff Bag donation top so even if I can't improve it, it will still go to a good cause, and it's definitely been a learning experience for me. Thanks for your comments.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bento Box Advice Needed

I've made enough starter blocks for my Bento Box project, half light ones and half dark ones. Here they are on my design wall.

There's more here than I actually need. After cutting and resewing them, the blocks will finish at 12". A 4 x 5 layout would be 48" x 60", a good size for a donation quilt for a tween or teen girl.

I haven't made a Bento Box or any of the variations. When I cut and reassemble the blocks, should I combine two matching pairs of parts? Or should I use four individual parts for a more scattered look? After I cut the starter blocks, I'll put the parts up on the wall to determine the placement, but I welcome your input to help me get started.

More importantly, I'm trying to determine whether to cut the blocks evenly into fourths, or cut them offset. I played with simplified versions in EQ and I'm still undecided.  So, here are the possible layouts, and I'd like to know what you think.
Even layout: Each block is cut and reassembled exactly in fourths

Offset layout: Each block is cut off center both vertically and horizontally. 
All the blocks are cut the same so the parts will fit together. 
Alternate blocks are rotated 90 degrees. 

What do you think? And why? Thanks for your input.

Linking up with Patchwork Times and Em's Scrapbag

Sunday, October 2, 2016

September Stash Report & Goals Update

September Stash Report:

IN this month: 13-1/4 yards (7-1/2 yards, Janie Lou sale, (incl. backing for QOV, 2 low volume prints & 2 colors of Grunge).  3-1/2 yds FQ Shop order for Mel's baby quilt.  5FQs from STLMQG. 4FQs from Merrily's.)
OUT this month: 19-1/4 yards (LCT QOV Top, 7-3/4 yards;  Laurie's baby quilt, 5-3/4 yds total, includes backing & binding & loss between print repeats. Mel's baby quilt top, 3-1/2 yards per EQ; backing 1-7/8 yards; binding 3/8 yard.)

IN YTD: 85-1/8 yards
OUT YTD: 104.75 yards
YTD Net Change: 19-5/8 yards out

Whoo-Hoo! nearly 20 yards out of the stash for the year! I don't feel guilty for any stash enhancement purchases this month.
Stash enhancement

Goals Update:

September recap:
1. Post LCT block tutorial in conjunction with QOV block drive and create new tab on blog for it.  DONE, posted, and both Alycia and Dar report blocks are coming in. 
2. Label and bind Forest Fellows baby quilt. DONE and delivered. Baby Lincoln's mom says she thinks this one is the cutest of all the baby quilts I've made for her kids. 
3. Design baby quilt for Andy & Mel's baby. DONE - not only designed, but the quilt is finished. 
4. Make one more main block, reassemble alternate blocks, and complete center of QF Roman Road flimsy. Blocks are done and sewn into rows. Borders are planned. Rows and borders will be assembled at Sew Me STL in October. 
5. Layer, baste, and quilt gift quilt for the senior H. family for Christmas. Not done - size is too intimidating. I'm meeting with a long-armer friend in October to have this one panto quilted. 
6. Make something for the Crayon Challenge for STLMQG. Not done but I have an inspiration photo and fabrics pulled; project is on hold to work on at Sew Me STL.
7. Plan projects for Sew Me STL retreat. See above and below, Roman Road, Crayon Challenge, QF BOM blocks, and new Bento Box project. Nothing is organized or packed yet. 
8. Catch up & keep up with bee blocks. Bee blocks are caught up but new QF BOM blocks will have to wait & get worked on at Sew Me STL. 

Other: I started a new project and have the starter blocks made for a Bento Box variation. I'll continue working on it at Sew Me STL in October.

While I didn't fully complete some of my goals, I at least moved some projects along and completed the QOV block tutorial and the baby quilts. Considering I was out of town for over a week, I'd say that's not bad overall.

Finished baby quilt for Andy & Mel's baby

Baby Lincoln's quilt

October Goals:
1. Prep, organize, and pack projects for Sew Me STL, and enjoy the retreat.
2. Complete Roman Road top to a flimsy.
3. Complete Bento Box variation top to a flimsy.
4. Press top & backing and pass gift quilt for the senior H. family to long-armer to be quilted. If returned, bind it.
5. Prep Piecing Group project to hand out next month.
6. Keep up with Bee blocks & BOMs.

Beginning of Bento Box variation project

Roman Road blocks sewn into rows

Linking up with Patchwork Times

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

More LCT blocks for QOV

I'm so gratified that so many people are making Log Cabin Triangle (LCT) blocks for Quilts of Valor!

Alycia of Alycia Quilts is holding a block drive for QOV blocks using my Log Cabin Triangle block. Dar of Dar's Patchwork Garden is heading up the local eastern Missouri effort. They're already receiving lots of blocks, and even finished tops! I donated the block pattern and I'm so pleased that so many people are participating!

In addition to the top I've already made, I've made a few more blocks. They're easy and kind of addictive. Plus, they're good for using up low volume scraps.
Log Cabin Triangle Blocks

My tutorial has complete instructions for making two-at-a-time blocks. You can also find it on Alycia's blog, with the color positions reversed for a darker and scrappier look.

So many layouts are possible with this block! Here's mine, below. It has a modern vibe, with lots of negative space and an alternate grid layout. Alycia's version features the bright colors where mine has low volume, and her blocks look bold and scrappy.
My QOV Top

My Sew Bee It hive mates are making LCT QOV blocks for my turn as queen bee. I'll add theirs to my extra ones and send some to Dar and some to Alycia.

I encourage you to make some LCT blocks for QOV, too.  You can send them to Alycia (get the address from her by leaving a comment on her blog) or you can send them to the Eastern Missouri block drive at
2627 Bates Rd.
O'Fallon, MO 63368

I'm currently not aware of other regional QOV groups participating, but if you know of any, please spread the word. 

Speaking of spreading the word, I'm linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.