Friday, June 15, 2018

Pickle Dish Celebration

Whoo-hoo! I'm doing the happy dance today! The reason is that my Pickle Dish blocks are finally completely fixed, and they're all sewn together. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I'm so glad I forced myself to fix them now rather than let this project languish as a UFO.

Here's the top on my design wall; sorry for the indoor photo.

Fixing the blocks was so worth it. They came together nicely. I pressed all the seams open and they lay as smooth as possible. The points came out nice and sharp where the background comes together.

The busy background works exactly as I hoped it would - it hides the seams within those diamond shapes. If you know there are seams you can see them, but they aren't immediately apparent and they don't distract from the focus on the rings.

This part of the quilt currently measures 60 x 60". I want a rectangular quilt rather than a square one, so it needs borders. First will be 3" of background print added to the top and bottom. Then pieced borders using the colors of the rings. Then finally 3" of background fabric all around for a finished size of 66 x 78".  I need to work out the pieced borders, but I have some deadline projects, so the borders will have to wait until later next month.

I'm Whoop-Whooping with Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


The local quilt shop that is closing continues their inventory close-out sale, with further discounts even on their already on-sale fabrics. I took advantage of the opportunity to get some backings. I took a list with swatches and quantities needed, and stuck to my plan.

Backings, left to right:
- Green floral for Green Bohemian Bento Box, first photo below
- Grey/Orange ovals for Sports Plus planned retreat project, second photo below
- Aqua floral for a planned Nurses for Newborns project for later this year
- Taupe small geometric for an old UFO from my pre-blogging days (no photo)
- Green/Aqua large geometric for a bee project, also to be worked on at retreat later this year, third photo below
Bohemian Bento Box UFO

Sports Plus WIP

Bee Blocks WIP

12 yards of backings came out to about $3.80 a yard, including the tax. I'm pleased that the hit to my budget wasn't too bad. My stash report, on the other hand, will definitely take a hit.

I'm sad that we're losing my favorite quilt shop. It's too bad that small shops like that just can't make a go of it. They have had the best selection of modern fabrics in town, and they're the closest full service quilt shop to me. I'm sorry to see them go. That leaves only a couple other shops, farther away, with different specialties. I'm grateful to still have those other options.

Do you still have a good local quilt shop in your area?

Linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, June 11, 2018

Heart Builders

Have you heard of Heart Builders? They make comfort quilts for kids, sponsored by Stash Builder Box/Cotton Cuts, who provide some of the fabrics for a top. Heart Builders participants piece tops and send them to team leaders for quilting, finishing and distribution.

I made a couple of tops for Heart Builders a couple years ago. Then I didn't hear anything for awhile. I'm not on Facebook so I missed out. Now I've reconnected, and they sent me some fabrics to make a top for them.

They want tops that measure about 45 by 60". There's a yard and a half of the Western print and a yard total of each blue. Hmm, what do I have in my stash that will coordinate?

Turns out, I have some solids that could work, and a blue print I picked up in Paducah in April.

Heart Builders requests a six-week turn around time so I have until roughly the end of July to get a top pieced and sent back. I guess I'd better get busy and design something so I can start making it. I'm thinking something with triangles or flying geese, maybe something Western-ish. Time to start playing in EQ.

Linking up with
Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Em's Scrapbag
Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, June 8, 2018

June N4Nb Top

Between repairing the Pickle Dish blocks and making the last Dresden block, I was in need of some mindless sewing, something simple and relaxing.

My friend passed along to me a Moda scrap bag. I took it thinking I would pass it along to another friend with traditional taste who works with scraps and strings.

Then when I opened it up, I realized it was off-cuts from making precuts. Lots of coordinated selvage strips, about 30" long and ranging from 2-1/2 to 3-1/2" wide. I could use them for a strippy Nurses for Newborns quilt for STLMQG. Very fitting since it was Marie from STLMQG who gave me the scrap bag.

I was able to cut most of the strips to a consistent 2-1/4" width with the selvage trimmed off. So I sewed them all together and now I have this top for my June N4Nb quilt.  It's slightly wider than the required size, so I might trim it down after quilting it.

The fabrics are very traditional but quite pretty, actually. The collection is Larkspur by 3 Sisters.

Not a bad result from this little scrap bag!

I'm sure I can find something in my stash that will work for backing and binding. I'll get it quilted and bound sometime this month and set it aside for the November N4Nb collection.

Meanwhile, back to the Pickle Dish blocks...

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Moving Forward

It feels so good to say that! 

I pulled out all the fabrics from the red project to cut more parts, and made one last Dresden block. Now all 12 Dresdens are finished, for real now. This time I did not fussy cut the stripey print; the stripes run across the blades here instead of centered down the blade. No two of the Dresden blocks are alike.

And I'm making progress unstitching, re-pressing, and reassembling my Pickle Dish blocks. (story here) When I originally made these blocks and became confident of stitching the curves, I started using a smaller stitch length, about 1.8. So now as I'm unstitching four partial seams in each block, it's taking a lot of careful unpicking to remove those tiny stitches. But I'm making progress - 2/3 complete now, whoo-hoo!

So worth it, though - the seams are coming together nicely where the blocks intersect.

Slow and steady... This project doesn't have a deadline. I'm making it for me, for my own enjoyment. I'll get through this repair phase, and I'll be glad I took the time to fix the problem.

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, June 4, 2018

Design Wall Monday: Prepping for Piecing Group

Boy, are my Piecing Group friends going to be surprised. For the first time in five or six go-rounds, I'm not handing out my WIVSP triangle project. It's now in too few pieces to hand out; I'm in the process of sewing the rows together. So what am I going to hand out?

Well, curves are great for hand piecing, so I've chosen a Winding Ways project. Here are the parts on my design wall in preparation for making up the kits. This will end up as a 40" x 40" baby quilt.

Each person will get a kit to make one block. Here's one of my sample & test blocks:

In hand piecing, all of the pieces have the seams marked on the wrong side for stitching. 25 blocks times 12 pieces per block, that's 300 pieces all carefully marked. I cut them with my die cutter, then came back and marked the quarter-inch seam lines.

In hand piecing, we float our seams which means we never stitch across seam allowances, we let them hang free so they can be pressed in the best direction later. Since I didn't stitch across the seam allowances at the center, the curved edges came together nicely and I can spin the seam allowances to reduce the bulk.

Since these pieces are die cut, I made two machine sewn test blocks as well, just to try out the cut parts. They didn't come out as nice at the center as the hand pieced blocks.

We have 16 members. I need 21 more blocks in addition to the four test blocks I made, so I'll package up the kits and hand them out. Maybe I can get the leftover kits pieced myself this month, so that when everyone returns their blocks to me next month, I can assemble the top.

Last time I talked about Piecing Group, someone asked how it works. This post explains it well.

Meanwhile, I'm off to stuff baggies with instructions and pieces so I'll be ready to hand out tomorrow. Thank goodness I don't have to host until next month! It takes a lot of time to prep kits for Piecing Group.

Link ups:
Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Em's Scrapbag
Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, June 1, 2018

First Saturday Blocks

I won't be able to attend Alternate First Saturday tomorrow with my friends, but I do have my blocks for the month done. Here's where I'm at now:
Red Project blocks on design wall

Sheesh, I thought I was finished with all the Dresden blocks. I had previously cut all the background squares and pinned them together in groups of four. I thought I had enough, so when I finished the last block I thought I was done. Obviously not. So this month I'll have to make that one last Dresden block. 

Notice that one of the Dresdens has a snowballed corner. Eventually they all will have snowballed corners, which will create diagonal movement across the quilt. My goal for this month was to snowball all the corners, but since I have to make one more block, that's not likely to get done. 
One snowball corner test

Here once again is the EQ drawing of what this will look like when it's done. It will be huge - 102 x 102" - but after quilting and washing I expect it to shrink down to about 96 x 96" which is the size of the bedspread on my queen size bed now and it's perfect. 
EQ design

In other developments, I've been hearing about suggestions to deal with the Blogger situation with comments not coming into email. I've tried leaving myself a comment and checking the box to receive follow up comments via email, and so far it has worked. However, by this method everyone is classified as a no-reply blogger, so if I don't already have you in my contacts, I can't reply unless you leave your email address in your comment. I hope Blogger gets things worked out so they can comply with the EU privacy requirements and still give us the comment-to-email and reply feature we need. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May Stash Report and Goals Update

I feel like I didn't get anything done this month, and I'm moving backwards because the task of unstitching and fixing the Pickle Dish blocks is hanging over me. Bummer.

I'm also bumming because Blogger no longer allows comments to come into my email where I can reply to the commenter. I feel like I'm losing some of my social connections. I'm sure a lot of others are experiencing the same problem. Anyone found a work-around yet? Are we losing the connected community that we quilt bloggers have created? 

And on top of all that, my favorite local quilt shop is closing. Sigh.

Let's look back at May and see how it went.

May Stash Report:
IN this month: 8-5/8 yards (from Janie Lou shop closing sale)
OUT this month: 8-7/8 yards (N4Nb quilt, numbers print - 2-1/4 yards. Grandson's big boy bed quilt top, 6-1/2 yards.)

IN YTD: 64-1/4 yards
OUT YTD: 66-5/8 yards
YTD Net change: 2-3/8 yards out

Still doing okay with stash management. I bought fabrics for a new baby quilt and some stash enhancemants at the shop closing sale.
For baby quilt for new great-nephew due in Sept.

Stash Neutrals

Stash enhancement, good gender-neutral print

Stash enhancement

Goals Update:

May Recap:
1. Finish piecing grandson's big boy bed quilt top. DONE
2. Piece and/or quilt another Rocking Chair or N4Nb quilt. DONE and turned in.
3. Mail out Hands2Help quilts to Little Lambs Foundation. DONE and received.
4. Make at least one checkerboard and one Dresden block for the red project. DONE
5. Assemble Pickle Dish blocks into quilt center. Not done; I'm in the process of unstitching, re-pressing, and fixing the blocks. 3 rows fixed so far. 
6. Finish prepping Winding Ways for Piecing Group. In progress; kits need to be ready to hand out on June 5.  
7. Start planning baby quilt for new great-nephew due end of September. Yes - Purchased fabric; working on pattern. 
8. Hand sew on WIVSP Piecing Group Project. Not touched. 
9. Keep up with bee blocks. DONE

Okay, maybe my results don't look that bad; I did accomplish something after all. 
May N4Nb quilt

Grandson's big boy bed quilt top

June Goals:
1. If possible, bind and label Snake quilt for potential QOV presentation on June 24. Depends on whether my friend can get it quilted with all the travelling she has going on.
2. Assemble backing for grandson's big boy bed quilt and get quilt layered and basted.
3. Piece and/or quilt another Rocking Chair or N4Nb quilt.
4. Make project for 12 Days of Christmas in July blog hop, take photos, draft blog post.
5. Snowball the corners of the Dresden blocks for the red project.
6. Finish fixing the Pickle Dish blocks and assemble them into quilt center.
7. Start working on baby quilt for new great-nephew due end of September.
8. Hand sew on WIVSP Piecing Group Project.
9. Keep up with bee blocks.

Okay, that's a lot - wish me luck!
Snake QOV top made with friends

Linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, May 28, 2018

Design Wall Monday: Sizing Up Backing

I have a lot of fabric left over from the front of grandson CJ's big boy bed quilt, plus a yard of a similar print given to me by a friend. I'll use all of these to piece a backing.

The quilt top measures 63" x 87" so I need a pretty big backing. I can lay it out on my design wall. Floor to ceiling is 96" so if  I lay the backing pieces out full height, it will be long enough even after the piecing seams are sewn. The panel up the center is WOF minus selvages. The pieces pinned at the left are WOF folded in half. I'll cut them along the fold and add the cut parts to the right side of the center panel. The resulting full width will be about 78-80", a little wider than I need, but that's okay.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my design wall?!!! Sorry for the angled photo, the room is too small and crowded to get all of the design wall into one straight shot.

If you look closely you can see lines on the design wall. These are black thread anchored with pins, and I use them as horizontal and vertical guides. In this case, my backing needs to extend at least to the vertical thread line on the right. The lower of the two horizontal lines is the highest I can reach without the stepladder, and the other horizontal is left from some past project. Very helpful! Do you mark your design wall as needed?

Link ups:
Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Em's Scrapbag
Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, May 25, 2018

Grandson's Big Boy Bed Quilt Progress

It's been a month since I posted about any progress - or lack thereof - on my grandson's big boy bed quilt. It stalled out when I was in Paducah, my machine was in the shop for awhile, then I had deadlines for donation quilts, and blah blah blah, you know how it goes.

But now the top is complete, a finished flimsy. Whoo-hoo!

Grandson CJ picked out the focus fabric - construction vehicles with Lego guys - and I selected the rest of the fabrics to go with it. 

The pattern is a scaled down variation of my Big Print Beauty pattern, this time with 9" pieces of the featured prints. I like this scale for these prints. The flimsy is 63 x 87". The size worked out well for CJ's bed with just the right amount of "drop" on the sides and bottom, allowing for some shrinkage in quilting and washing.

I have plenty of these fabrics left over to piece a backing, so that's my next step.

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Friday Finish at Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hands2Help 2018: Little Quilts for Little Lambs

Every year Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict hosts a charity quilt drive called Hands2Help and this is my fourth year to participate. One of this year's charities is called Little Lambs Foundation for Kids. They provide backpacks filled with personal care items and an item of comfort such as a quilt to children in transition to foster care.

As I've mentioned here before, one of my goals for 2018 is to piece and/or quilt one donation quilt a month, shooting for ten finished by the end of the year. I've finished four specifically for Hands2Help so far this year. Here are the quilts I've sent to Little Lambs:

Scrap Scramble

Toddler Boy I Spy

Positively Pink

Aztec Inspired

These quilts have fleece backing and no batting, making them soft and snuggly. It also makes it easier to fold them up to fit into a backpack. 

I photographed them on a bright day so I could get them into the mail right away. Pardon the too-sunny photos. 

These quilts have been received by Little Lambs and I'm hoping they'll be given to kids who will be comforted by them. 

Linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mountain View Arkansas

No quilty news today; I've been away for a few days. It was a very nice little get-away.

DH and I went to Mountain View, in the Ozarks of north-central Arkansas. We stayed at a lovely B&B called Country Oaks. I would highly recommend it if you're ever in the area. Owners Jerry and Carole are delightful, very gracious and friendly. Jerry designed the beautiful house and landscaped the picturesque grounds, 70 acres including a lake.
Country Oaks B&B

On Friday we went to the Ozark Fold Center state park. We pretty much had the place to ourselves, it was so un-crowded. Which was great, we got to spend a lot of time talking with the artisans. Their purpose is to keep alive heritage crafts, and the artists enjoy talking about their work. DH is big into blacksmithing so he enjoyed talking with the blacksmith. Other crafts on site include chair caning, broom making, weaving, pottery, stained glass, herbal apothecary and of course quilting. We were having such a good time all day that it didn't even occur to me to take pictures!

The other purpose of the Folk Center is to keep alive traditional folk music. We listened to a matinee performance of thumb-picking guitar by Evan Twitty, a tribute to the music of Merle Travis. Friday night we went back to the Folk Center for a concert featuring Thom Bresh, also in the thumb-picking style which was the theme this weekend.

Speaking of music, the town of Mountain View is known for its music. They have a park off the town square where local musicians gather. Three rules: no alcohol (dry county), no amplifiers, and no panhandling. The musicians are just regular folks who come and go. Everyone knows the traditional bluegrass tunes and old-time gospel tunes. Anyone can come play, and anyone can come listen. The Pickin' Park is strategically located right next to the ice cream shop.
Musicians playing in Pickin' Park

We wrapped up our trip with a visit to Blanchard Spring park. The cavern is fabulous, with stunning formations, really beautiful, and the tour guide was both very enthusiastic and a knowledgeable naturalist. Only the one-hour tour was available; I wish we could have taken the longer tour and seen more of the cave. No photos, I tried to get a couple but they didn't turn out.

We also enjoyed the easy walk to the spring, where the water that formed the cave emerges at the rate of 10,000 gallons per hour.
Blanchard Spring

Downstream, another easy walk to the ruins of the old mill that used to gin cotton and grind grain. This is the mill dam which directed the water toward the old water wheel. Nothing is left of the mill anymore except stone foundations.
Old mill dam in Blanchard Spring park

It was good to get away for a few days; the weather was excellent the whole time and we really enjoyed our trip.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Pressing Problem

Thirty six beautiful blocks.

And they all need to be fixed.

The problem is, when I join the blocks together, there is too much bulk where too many seam allowances come together. See the arrow on the right in this photo? There are already six layers of fabric there. When I join this block to the next one, even if I press the seam allowances open, there will be twelve layers of fabric on each side, big lumps. This happens at all four sides of each block.

So I need to open up the last inch of each of those seams, press the seam allowances in the other direction, and resew the seams. Four per block. 36 blocks. Sigh. Here's one block opened and re-pressed. Not so pretty, now.

This is how UFOs happen. If I don't do this now while this project is still in active progress, I'll never come back to it. So I'm spending some quality time with my seam ripper.

Two blocks unsewn, re-pressed, resewn, and joined together:

OK, this is working. The blocks come together as smooth as possible.

A whole afternoon, and one row to show for it:
Oops, the last block is upside down. More unsewing.

OK, much better:

Another whole afternoon, another row. This is slow and tedious, but worth it.

One of my goals this month is to get these blocks all pieced together into the top. It's taking longer than I thought it would, so wish me luck!

Link up: Sew Fresh Quilts