Wednesday, October 30, 2019

October Stash Report and Goals Update

Due to three days of sewing at Sew Me St. Louis, October was hugely productive in both stash usage and projects finished or moved along. Whoo-hoo!

October Stash Report:
IN this month: 2-1/4 yards (FQ from Sew Me STL.  2 yards wide backing.)
OUT this month: 21-7/8 yards (Backing for Laurie's baby quilt, 1-3/4 yards.  Binding for same, 1/2 yard. Backing for SSSSM, 2 yards. Binding, 1/2 yard.  Triangle flimsy, 4-7/8 yards. Orphan blocks, etc. donated, 12.25 yards)

IN YTD: 98-7/8 yards
OUT YTD: 119-7/8 yards
YTD Net Change: 21 yards out

Another reason the stash report looks good is due to a donation of orphan blocks and parts that I sent to someone who can use them. It's a relief to have that stuff out of my sewing room. 4 pounds, 6.2 ounces according to the post office. This package looks as big as a small turkey! No wonder it feels like a weight lifted.

A few projects moved along or made it to the finish line, including the all-important special baby girl quilt. That said, I didn't quite meet all my goals for the month.

October Goals Recap: 
1. Quilt Kevin's SSSSM top. DONE
2. Prep for binding demo at Sew Me STL using the SSSSM quilt as the sample. DONE; successful demo and binding is finished. 
3. Finish baby quilt for Laurie's girl baby. DONE
4. Look at kitted projects and decide what to work on at Sew Me; prep and pack. DONE - prepped and packed too much!
5. Have fun at three day retreat at Sew Me STL. Oh, yeah, definitely accomplished this!
6. Quilt the purple CCD quilt. Not done. On hold due to other pressing priorities. 
7. Keep up with bee blocks. Done, even got ahead at Sew Me STL.
8. Think about new stretch project. Showed concepts for Dresden Medallion to friends at AFS and made test blocks.
Baby quilt for a special girl coming soon

My version of Kevin the Quilter's SSSSM. 
Will be donated to Project Linus.

Triangle UFO flimsy

Dresden Medallion test block

Due to a schedule change, I need to switch gears and shift priorities in November. I have a lot of deadline projects that have to be worked on right away, including a group collaboration project and block kits to hand out for two bees.

November Goals: 
1. Prep Sew Bee It block kits to hand out at STLMQG. Deadline 11/8.
2. Prep collaboration project for group sew day. Deadline 11/11.
3. Prep WIGSP kits to hand out at December Piecing group. Deadline 12/2
4. Plan and work on Secret Sister gift for Sew Bee It. Deadline 12/13
5. Keep up with other bee blocks

Other: Remember to take everything to STLMQG on 11/9:
  - Projet Linus quilts
  - Bee block kits to hand out
  - Items to donate for ticket raffle

The biggest project for November will be getting kits put together for Piecing Group to work on. Remember, my WIGSP is currently a row of hexies too short for the bed. I need to remove the top border and add a row. It's all hand pieced, and there are 36 little kite-shaped pieces in each hexie. I need to cut pieces - with a template - and mark them for hand piecing. Then put the top on the wall, and lay out the new pieces so they look like they blend in with the rest of the top, not look like add-ons. I need 396 little kite pieces and 32 black triangles. That's a lot of cutting and marking! Thank goodness I still have the templates and enough of the black batik left.

So if I don't get back to the purple CCD from October's list, or the new stretch project, the Dresden Medallion, it's because I have a lot of pressing deadlines for November. Wish me luck that I can get everything done!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Design Wall Monday: Have Faith

Last year when it was my turn to hand out in my bee, I gave the girls instructions and some of the parts for Jaime's Have Faith block. Thank you, Jaime, for the use of your block.

I gave them low volume backgrounds and a focus print for the small plus, the only constant element in this quilt. This fabric came from the freebie table at guild a couple years ago. The word Botanical is on the part of the selvage that I have, but there's no info about it other than that. Thank you to whoever donated it.

The girls in the bee made blocks for me last year; each person added their own fabric for the large plus taking their cue for color from the print. There are big pluses in navy, aqua, and mustard, and because they were inspired by the print, they go well together.

The plan was to get the blocks back from the girls - they made 12 - and work on this project at this year's retreat. I was able to finish the rest of the blocks for a total of 20. After some cutting ahead of time, I also constructed sashing units. Jamie's design doesn't call for sashing, but I'm adding to her design to create additional plus motifs. Here are all the parts - blocks, sashing and border components - on my design wall today.

I love it! Jaime's design already has a lot of movement, but the additional plus motifs in the sashing and cornerstones create strong but broken diagonals that add even more movement.

The colors in the fabric above are more true; for some reason the aqua blocks all look too blue in this photo.

Ideally I'd be able to leave this up on the all, take down sashing parts as needed and add them to the blocks and rows, and get this assembled into a flimsy over the next few weeks. Due to a surprise schedule change, that isn't going to happen, so all these parts are going back into the box until I can get back to them. This project is destined to become a donation, so there's no deadline.

More about the schedule change in another post.

Monday Link Ups:
Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, October 25, 2019

Friday Finishes

Yes, finishes plural because Sew Me St. Louis was good for productivity! Having three days to just sew (well, and socialize) enabled me to get a lot done.

First and most important, the baby quilt for my niece who's expecting a girl an a few weeks. After three boys, her world is about to turn pink. But her favorite color is purple, so I chose purple and aqua for her baby quilt.

She's a former vet tech who loves animals, so all the baby quilts I've made for her kids feature animals of some sort. This one has tiny bunnies and puppies. I quilted it with a serpentine stitch over the seams, so it's soft and drapey but it'll hold together well. She actually uses her baby quilts a lot, which makes it so worthwhile to make them for her. 

Next is a UFO, the triangle project I started a couple years ago. The HSTs were partially sewn into rows. At Sew Me I was able to finish the top. I like that the layout is a bit unexpected. It's throw size, 52" by 60". 

The circle dot print, which originally came from the freebie table at guild, drove the palette of coral, teal, taupe, and ecru. I wanted it to be pretty much gender neutral for a donation quilt so there are mostly geometric and crosshatch prints, with one abstract floral, all from stash. 

Last but not least, I had my abbreviated version of Kevin the Quilter's SSSSM mystery project quilted and ready for my demo about glue basting for machine binding. I finished putting the binding on. 

The backing is vintage prints from the 1990s from my stash. I always loved that so-called ethnic print but never knew what to do with it. 

This will be donated to Project Linus in November, so I'm including it in my Rocking Chair Quilts (tab above)

So, I'm definitely whooping today! PS - my stash report's going to look pretty good, too. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Color BOM: Curves

The skill for this month in the STLMQG Color BOM is curves. I made a Drunkard's Path block.

They announced that this is the last month of the BOM. I'm guessing that after the New Year they'll announce a challenge to put all your color BOM blocks together into a quilt. It'll be quite a challenge to puzzle together. Here's what I have to work with, plus some small filler blocks.









This will certainly be a challenge! Wish me luck...

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sew Me St. Louis 2019

The 2019 STLMQG retreat was a great success. I had so much fun I forgot to take many pictures.

There were about 100 attendees. We had a huge ballroom and lots of table space - each person had their own whole table. I happened to be in one of the corners - it was a great location with power outlets nearby and convenient to the ironing stations in the breakout room across the hall. In the photo below, the chair in the lower right is at the edge of my "pod."

I took way more projects than I could possibly get done. I got the #1 priority done, the baby quilt for my niece's baby girl due in November. I also got the triangle project finished to a flimsy. Here it is in rows on the "wall."

This project was started at Sew Me in 2017 - I had recently gotten a die cutter and I cut all those triangles from stash and assembled the HSTs at retreat. After laying them out at home and labeling the rows and columns, I started assembling the rows at last year's retreat. This year I finished the top. I'll try to get a photo for Friday's post.

I thoroughly enjoyed being with my pod-mates. We had some great conversation and enjoyed each other's company. Left to right: me, Judy, Nancy, and Sara. Judy got three baby quilt tops pieced for Project Linus and made progress on a Halloween quilt. Nancy got a Halloween top finished, a long time UFO, and got more than 100 log cabin blocks pieced as far as you see here. That's a lot of logs and a lot of piecing! Sara tried paper piecing for the first time and succeeded masterfully. She also whipped out a Sew Together bag, her first.

Over the course of three days everyone was able to circulate and check out what all the others were making. Such a huge variety of projects! By day three, several people were laying blocks out on the floor in the hall and assembling tops. Some amazing projects were shared each evening at Show and Tell.

The scrap scramble was much less chaotic this year because it was held in the breakout room with the scraps on tables instead of on the floor. I contributed a stuffed gallon baggie but, by plan, I selected only a few pieces to bring home with me. I really don't need more scraps, but some of them were very appealing.

I think my demo about using glue basting for machine finished binding went well. Here's a link to an earlier post about how I do it. 

Many thanks to the Sew Me organizing committee for putting on a great event! It was lots of fun and I'm already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Getting Ready for Retreat

STLMQG's in-town retreat called Sew Me St. Louis is this weekend, starting Friday morning. I'm getting ready....

First up is the special girl baby quilt that's due in November. I worked on it a little bit while I was in Florida, and now it's at the point of sewing the rows together. I'd like to get it to a finished flimsy and even sandwiched and basted before I go. Then I can quilt it while I'm there. If I don't get it that far along ahead of time, I'll just take it in whatever state it's in and work on it there.

I'm taking UFOs to work on. The triangles for this one were sewn at the 2017 retreat. Then the blocks were partially sewn into rows at last year's retreat. I put it on the wall and took photos when I got home to remember how far along it is for this year. The parts are all organized and ready to finish sewing together. No deadline; this will be a donation.

Another very old UFO just needs a little attention to become a flimsy. This was made about ten years ago for a demo on how to sew mitered stripe borders, so only the final miter seams are needed. I left it unfinished thinking I could use it again for future demos, but haven't, so it's time to finish and donate it.

I'm also taking a bee project from last year. The "Sew Bee Its" made blocks for me using Jaime's Have Faith pattern and I need to make a few more blocks and set them together into a flimsy. This will also be a donation. 

I need to finish cutting a few more pieces for the Have Faith project before I go. That's why the baby quilt may not get basted in time. I prefer to have things for retreat pre-cut and kitted up because I've been known to make cutting errors due to distractions and not paying attention. Basting I think I can handle at retreat, especially a small baby quilt, and on Friday it won't be crowded and I may be able to find a spare table to work on. 

I'm giving a demo on machine finished binding with glue basting on Sunday morning, I have the SSSSM quilt all quilted and the binding sewn on, ready to demonstrate how to finish it. Once finished, it'll get washed, then it will go to Project Linus at our November meeting.

Last but not least is my Paint Chip Challenge mini. I have my paint chips; the assignment is to use a complimentary or analogous color palette. I have both - Aqua and Coral are complimentary, and Indigo/Aqua/Green are analogous. I have nice differences in value to work with for contrast. The mini can't be any larger than 10" and must be quilted. I have no idea what I'll end up with, but I want it to be improvisational. Yes me, improv. Someone had a Kona card at the meeting where we drew paint chips so I matched to the nearest colors, but I found what I needed in my stash. 

My older Bernina is still packed from vacation. It has a great walking foot and I want to use this machine to quilt the baby quilt. Machine, accessories, and power cord, check. 

My project packing is in progress. These "cube bags" are great - each one holds three standard project boxes, or two project boxes and my sit-upon cushion. One bag is ready to go; the other still needs the stuff for the baby quilt and the project box for the Have Faith top. 

Since I'll need an iron for my demo and they asked for volunteers to bring ironing boards and irons, I signed up to bring mine. I have my scraps all baggied up for the Scrap Scramble on Saturday night. So that's even more to load into the car and take along. I'll pick up snacks to share on my way in Friday morning. Am I missing anything? 

I don't think I'll run out of projects to work on, but if I do, no problem. Since the retreat is in town, I'm sleeping at home in my own bed each night, so I can always take something more the next day if I need to.  

Looking forward to fun at Sew Me St. Louis with my STLMQG friends!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Designing the Dresden Medallion, Continued

In my last post I shared a new project I'm thinking about. Scroll down to read it if you want to, then come back. Thank you to all who left comments and shared your thoughts about the design - I appreciate your input.

My starter palette, to which I'll add friends.

I made test blocks (using scraps) to help me decide which layout to use. The blocks would finish at 8 inches.

My test block with 3 blades, each blade 3-1/4" across at the widest.

4 blades, 2-1/2" wide

5 blades, 2" wide

Usually we think of Dresden Plates as having 20 blades, 5 per quadrant, as made by the Easy Dresden tool, so the five blade fan is the most familiar. When I made the blocks, to my disappointment I saw the 5 blade option as the most pleasing. Maybe because it's familiar?

But the fabrics I want to use are a little larger scale and I want more of each to show. I also want to fussy cut some of the prints. That's why I created the 3 and 4 blade options. 

The 4 blade option does allow a little more of each print to show. They say it's more artistic and visually pleasing to use an odd number of something rather than an even number. But I'm not sure how important the number of blades in each block is to the overall layout, because the layout itself is an odd number of something, 3 curves per side.  Here are the layout options using grey to illustrate the overall shape. 
3 blades per block

4 blades per block

5 blades per block

The overall snaky shape is similar, just more or less angular. Note the negative space and the interesting shapes formed. 

Originally I was leaning to 3 or maybe 4 blades per block. My friends at coffee last week mostly preferred the five blade option. One of the comments on Monday's post really resonated with me. Julie, whose design sense I respect and appreciate, said "Without an enormous amount of thought (or reading the previous comments), I prefer the three-blade layout. Why? It involves a custom template (up your alley), it allows more of the fabric to show (again, letting you feature those prints you said you preferred), and it is an atypical layout (again, making it special to you and not just like someone else's design)."

I said I was disappointed when I didn't immediately love the 3 blade block the most. But as I contemplate the design, I'm drawn to the 3 blade option for all the reasons Julie articulated, plus the interesting negative space shape in the overall layout. 

Here's the EQ rendering of the 3 blade option in color using prints of similar scale to mine: 

I'm going with the 3 blade option. Maybe it'll tun out to be something good. Or maybe it'll turn out to be a big disappointment. It's more of a risk. But it's more individual, more unique. I'd rather take the risk than make something expected and ho-hum. 

Link ups:
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Em's Scrapbag
Love Laugh Quilt

Monday, October 7, 2019


I'm bored... 

My stash isn't huge, and it seems lately I've stocked up on mostly blenders, tone-on-tones, color-plus-white, and low volumes. My sewing lately seems to be mostly quick, simple donation quilts, nothing that takes any planning or focus.

I've recently finished two long-term projects, Dr. Seuss's Pickle Dish and the Checkerboards and Dresdens top. I need a new long-term project that's more complicated than simple mindless sewing.

Ever since I wrote my post for the Quilter's Meet and Greet, I've been thinking about something like a cross between Dresdens and Loop in Motion. I've been playing in EQ.

Option 1: traditional five blades per fan using the Easy Dresden tool; each blade 2" at the widest.

Option 2: Four blades per fan, custom template, 2-1/2" at the widest.

Option 3: Three blades, custom template, 3-1/4" at the widest.

All blocks are 8" finished, quilts 68" finished as shown.

I've also looked through my entire stash and found it lacking. I prefer warm colors and I want something a little bolder than the blenders etc. that I have - maybe even clashy.

While in Florida recently I visited A and E Fabrics in Pensacola and did a bit of stash enhancement. From the sale aisles I found some yardage for backings.

And I selected some prints that may form the nucleus of a new project. For scale, the bands of the Jen Kingwell print (bottom) are 5" wide, and the largest dandelion seed head showing (right) is about 2" in diameter. My favorite prints of these are the olive ground floral and the russet poppies.

I showed all this to my friends at our First Saturday gathering over the weekend and asked for their input. I won't tell you which of the layouts they preferred. I did say that by next meeting I would look for background fabric and make a test block of each layout. 

I'd like your input on where I'm going with this and which layout you prefer and why. Please share your thoughts; this is still in the percolating-around-in-my-mind stage and is subject to change, revision, further development or whatever.