Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January Stash Report and Goals Update

It's close enough to the end of the month that one day isn't going to make a difference in my report, so I'll go ahead and post it today. January quite didn't go as planned, but that's okay.

January Stash Report:
IN this month/YTD: 9-3/4 yards (FQ Sale, 4-1/4 yards.  Connecting Threads order, 5 yards. Yellow Green for STLMQG challenge, 1/2 yard.)
OUT this month/YTD: 9-3/8 yards (Paddington Bear baby quilt top, 3-1/4 yards; back, 1-5/8 yards; binding, 1/2 yard.  Backing for Mercyful Plus, 4 yards.)
YTD net change: 3/8 yard added to stash.
Shopping swatch guide for STLMQG 2019 color challenge

Goals Update:

January Recap:
1. Add checkerboard borders to two sides of the Red Project. DONE, photo to come Friday.
2. Continue quilting Pickle Dish. Yes, more than 85% of the arcs and rings are now done.
3. Make backing, layer, baste, quilt and bind Mercyful Plus. Made backing but couldn't get into the dining room to use the floor for basting because the table was occupied with a jigsaw puzzle.
4. Look at UFO list, select a project to work on, make some progress on it. I looked at the list. Sigh. Most of the projects are at the flimsy stage and need to be quilted which means I need to spread them out and baste them. I selected one to tackle next which will go to Hands2Help. I also talked to long arm quilter Sandy E. about quilting Roman Road from last year. 
5. If time permits, start Paddington Bear baby quilt for Operation shower. Yes, made Paddington Bear top and pieced the backing. 
6. Hand stitch on WIGSP Piecing Group project. Not touched.
7. Keep up with bee blocks. Done

- Prepped for and took a String Piecing class with Kevin the Quilter. Made additional blocks at home.
- Tech-edited and created graphics for a friend's pattern.

String Piecing Workshop with Kevin the Quilter

Paddington Bear Baby Quilt Top

February Goals:
1. Layer, baste, quilt and bind Mercyful Plus.
2. Add top and bottom checkerboard border to the Red Project.
3. Prep Roman Road and send to Sandy for quilting.
4. Layer, baste, quilt and bind Paddington Bear baby quilt.
5. Prep for class with Quilt Diva Julie on March 1st.
6. Continue quilting Pickle Dish.
7. Continue string piecing "Goodnight Darleen!" from Kevin's class.
8. Hand stitch on WIGSP Piecing Group project. 
9. Keep up with bee blocks & BOMs.
Pickle Dish Quilting

Roman Road Flimsy

STLMQG Color Challenge, January Block based on Nine Patch

That's a big list for a short month, and a lot of it is quilting rather than piecing. For me, quilting is slow going. We'll see how much I can get done.

Link ups:
Sew Fresh Quilts
Wendy's Quilts and More

Monday, January 28, 2019

String Piecing Class

I had so much fun in Kevin the Quilter's class! The class was his pattern "Goodnight, Darleen!" which features string piecing.
Image credit: Kevin the Quilter

String piecing is very liberating! There were six students of all abilities and tastes, and I think we all really enjoyed the class. We accomplished all that Kevin had planned for us, and the timing worked out well. Here's what we made:

We started with diagonal strata blocks which will function as setting triangles.

Then we went on to Economy blocks. I especially like how the centers end up floating just a tiny bit.

Our third block was the raw-edge appliqued circle block.

Then we finished up with border strips. The pattern calls for lots of border strips, but the effect really sparkles.

If you know me, you know that quilty engineering, structure, planning, and precision are more my thing. The reason I took this string piecing class was to encourage me to loosen up and relax. Another friend was kidding around with Kevin and wished him good luck in pushing me to let go and enjoy string piecing.

I actually enjoyed the process a lot - so much so that I made some more blocks at home yesterday. I have a big box of strips and strings cut for this project and I don't want all that fabric to go to waste, so I will definitely continue to make blocks and work on this project so it doesn't become a UFO.

Thanks, Kevin!

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

Friday, January 25, 2019

Class Prep

I don't often take quilting classes, but I'm taking an all day workshop tomorrow. The class is "Goodnight Darleen!" by Kevin the Quilter, at the Quilted Fox.
"Goodnight Darleen!"  Image from Kevin the Quilter

It's all String Piecing, a type of Improv.  If you know me or you've followed my blog at all, you know Improv is not my thing. I'm a skilled pattern engineer; I can figure out how to draft complex designs and work from a plan. I'm pretty particular about accurate cutting and piecing. String piecing and Improv are so not me. I signed up for the class because it will push me to be less rigid  encourage me to loosen up a bit and step out of my comfort zone.

The pattern calls for lots of strings in neutrals and purples. I don't have much purple in my stash but I have lots of greens, so I'm using green for my dominant color. I also don't keep strings, so I've been cutting a lot of strips in various widths. Over the past month or so I've been able to collect enough strips & strings for the class tomorrow. 

Per the supply list for the class, I'll also need some larger pieces of greens and neutrals to cut some of the parts, so I'm packing a selection of those, too. 

Full disclosure, I helped Kevin with some editing and graphics for his pattern, so I have a pretty good idea of what we'll be making in class. 

I'm looking forward to the class - I think it'll be fun; I'll get to participate with other quilters who have different strengths; and Kevin is always a pleasure to hang out with. I'm sure I'll learn something, too! Now to get the rest of my stuff packed and ready to go...

Monday, January 21, 2019

Coming Along

I've been slowly plugging away at quilting the rings and arcs on Pickle Dish. I'm more than halfway done with them now.

When the arcs and rings are done I'll come back in and stipple the background. Wrestling this quilt under my machine is awkward, so it's slow going, but I'm pleased with the progress so far.

I'l also making progress on the hardest puzzle ever. It's come a long way from last week. You'd think it would be easier at this point, but no, all the pieces pretty much look alike now.

Even progress in small steps is good, right? I'll keep plugging along on both the quilt and the puzzle.

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

One of Those Days

Seems like I had the anti-Midas touch the other day. It should have been easy piecing, but everything I tried to sew turned to %#@*.
However, I persevered.
Let me explain:

STLMQG announced their Color BOM challenge for this year. Here's the challenge:

  • First, instead of changing colors each month, this year, you will choose ONE spoke of the color wheel (for example, blue or yellow-green) to focus on for all 10 months. For each month, you can only use that color wheel color plus neutrals and one additional color....You do not have to include an additional color. You may use solids, prints, or a combination.
  • Second, each month will have a “must include” skill, which we'll announce at the monthly meeting. You can choose any block you want in any size, but it must incorporate the skill for that month in some way. Examples may include a triangle, some kind of handwork, paper piecing, curves, etc.

Of course I have to participate! I searched through my stash of greens - I have a lot of greens - for some that represent one specific hue.  I found several yellow-greens that work. Here are snippets I can carry with me so if I'm fabric shopping I can add more to the collection. 

The skill for January is Nine Patch. The example they showed isn't just a simple nine patch, some of the patches are HSTs, so anything pieced on a nine patch grid will qualify. I decided to make a Card Trick block. 

I didn't think to take in process photos, but basically I cut all the components from four of my greens and carefully laid them out. Two of my fabrics are directional, the sketchy stripe above and another print not shown above that I found in my scraps. That meant I had to cut accordingly so the stripes in each "card" would all run in the same direction. 

OK, cutting accomplished, and I carefully laid the pieces out and sewed the components together. Squared up and trimmed the units to exactly 4-1/2". Then I laid them out again to piece the nine patch. What the ?????  The fabrics came out in the wrong places! How'd that happen?? I guess when I picked up the QSTs and matched them, I sewed the seam on the wrong edge, in every unit where there's QSTs. 

Every one of those seams is bias and the units were already trimmed and squared up. If I rip, there's a strong likelihood the bias will get stretched and distorted. I have only a little bit of some of those fabrics and I need to stretch what I have for the whole year-long project, so I really don't want to waste what I've already cut. 

So I starched the units heavily, using a popular commercial pressing spray loved by many quilters. I allowed the starch to dry, and pressed, trying not to distort the bias seams. Then I carefully unpicked the seams. I laid out all the pieces again and this time got them sewn together correctly. Hopefully those bias seams aren't distorted too much.  This time I was actually able to assemble the nine patch block. 

Then I discovered that the starch had stained the fabrics. You could actually see stains where there was starch and a color difference where there was no starch. So I wet down the whole block and pressed until it was dry, blocking and trying to retain the size and shape as best I could. The stains are less visible now and don't show in the photo, so I'm hoping they won't show in the finished quilt after it's washed. 

So what should have been a "simple nine patch" ended up taking hours. But wait, there's more! 

My plan is to follow along with the color BOM which will yield at least 10 different blocks. They may not all be the same size. I'd like to put them all together in a puzzle style, kind of like a Gypsy Wife arrangement. That means I'll need a lot of small filler blocks to fill gaps in the layout. Economy blocks are great for that. If I make a few each month along with the main block, I'll have a good start on what I'll need to assemble the top. 

3" economy blocks are best paper pieced for accuracy. It's been awhile since I paper pieced. Um, remember with paper piecing the fabric should be right sides together, wrong side to the back of the paper? Yeah, I screwed that up. Carefully ripped corners off four blocks. Repositioned the parts correctly and sewed again. 

I forgot how much bigger you need to cut the patch than the actual size it'll end up. My corner pieces were too small. I didn't notice this the first time I sewed them wrong - yeesh! So I ended up ripping corners off of four blocks again. Yes, my seam ripper got a workout that day. I recut all the background triangles and tried again. Success! 

I'll be using a variety of black and white prints with my yellow-greens for this project. I have no idea what the final layout will look like. I know there will be places I want sharp value contrast, and probably other places where I want the filler blocks to recede. Medium values and less contrast will help with that. My plan is to make a few filler blocks each month along with the main block. We'll see where this ends up in about a year. 

So today on Whoop Whoop Friday or Friday Finish day, I'm celebrating one block and some fillers. Big whoop. But after the frustrating day I had making them, I'm happy to have them done! 

Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More

Monday, January 14, 2019


...but nothing exciting to look at or speak of.

The puzzle is still occupying the dining table.

I pieced the backing for the Paddington Bear baby quilt.

And I've been working on quilting Pickle Dish, which is slow going and cumbersome. I'm quilting around the outside and inside of each arc, continuing through the intersections to make a full circle. I now have five rings done.

I started with the center ring and I'm working my way out toward the edges of the quilt. I thought it would get easier with less bulk nearer the edges, but it gets bulkier to quilt around part of the circle when most of the quilt has to squeeze through the machine.

So, boring pictures and not a lot to talk about, even though I've been productive.

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Paddington Bear for Operation Shower

I'm still keeping up with my goal to piece and/or quilt one top or quilt per month for donation to a charitable cause. I had planned to quilt Mercyful Plus, but I can't baste it until I can move the furniture out of the dining room, and I can't move the table until I finish the 2000 piece puzzle that's driving me crazy.

So, Plan B for this month's donation quilt is another baby quilt for Operation Shower. I'm using this soft Paddington Bear print and some coordinates.

It's nothing special, just some simple piecing. The top finishes at 42 x 42".

The pale grey, yellow, and coral colors are gender-neutral, but the plaid reads "boy" to me. Either way, it's suitable for a baby shower for the family of a military service member.

I have almost enough of the plaid left for the backing, so I'll piece in a strip of the bear print to make it big enough. I don't think I'll get this top quilted this month, but that's okay. I'll bind the quilt with the coral when the time comes.

Link up: Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

New Year Stash Enhancement

The $1.09 FQ sale lured me in again. I had a gift card, so I indulged. 

Some low volumes, QOV basics, and geometrics in good colors for kids' quilts: 

And a selection of masculine prints. 

I have no regrets, even though my stash report is in the red already for the year. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Conflict of Interests

The Mercyful Plus top is ready to be layered and basted.

I found fabrics in my stash and pieced together a backing for it, black & white text prints. The next step is to spread it out on my dining room floor and pin baste it.

However, I can't do that now. I'd have to move the dining table and chairs out, and the table is occupied.

Santa brought me a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I like puzzles and I usually get one for Christmas each year. But this one is the hardest, most frustrating one I've ever had, even harder than last year's which took me six weeks to finish.

So, as long as the puzzle pieces are on the dining table, I can't move the table. Therefore no quilt basting can happen. I'm sure I can find something else to do in the sewing room when I get too frustrated with the puzzle.

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

Friday, January 4, 2019

AFS - the Red Project

I'm continuing to set monthly goals for my Red Project, and my AFS friends hold me accountable. We get together for coffee on the first Saturday of each month and share our progress on our projects. Last month I had the first inner border on the center of the quilt, and the goal for this month was to add the checkerboard border to one side. Rather than carry the project to our get-together, this blog post will serve as my proof of progress.

I pulled strip sets and leftover pieces from making the checkerboard blocks out to use them for the new border. Then I realized that making one border per month, the original plan, wasn't very efficient. So, change of goal. Instead of adding one border, I would prep the nine patches needed for all four borders.
Blocks & block sets on wall for borders

I cobbled together about 40 nine patch blocks from the parts and strips I had, with some threesies left over. I may need a few more threesies for all four borders, but I have plenty of extra fabric to make more.
Blocks selected for border but not sewn together yet

The border blocks are just placed on the wall, not joined into a strip yet. When sewn, the seams will align with the block and checkerboard seams in the quilt center.

Even though I changed the plan, I'm going to count this month's goal achieved because I moved the project forward significantly. My goal for next month will be to assemble the two side borders and join them to the sides of the quilt. Then the following month it will be the top and bottom borders.

Link Up: Confessions of a Fabric Addict