Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A New Plan

After a frustrating day yesterday I came up with a new plan for constructing my blocks. I have 2 quilts with this pattern and you would think I knew the best way to put it together. What I forgot was both times I make this I used blocks that someone else constructed or at least made some of the components. Once it was an online 4 patch block swap and once it was my Friendship block swap group. This is what I have up on my tiny (4 ft x 4 ft) design wall. You can see how the pattern works up.

The 3 blocks in the lower right corner show the original block on the top. that worked out very well when I got blocks from the Friendship group.
The lower 2 blocks that are side by side are the two blocks that I am going to make instead. When I sewed those original blocks together yesterday, I made mistakes in the placement over and over. I made mistakes even when I had a sample block right in front of my sewing machine. I think what I did so often was turn the blocks to align the edges I was going to sew; then I turned the block and sewed the wrong edge. This is something I have done many times before over the years. I fall into the habit of thinking about other things when I do something repetitious and simple.  At any rate this is a much better way to do it as it gives me more control over the 16 patch blocks. It doesn't really seem to matter so much how those points are colored as it does for the squares.
I am finally beginning to see some progress; there is a long way to go yet but I  can see that I can gt it done. I am still kicking myself over my pattern and even fabric choices but it is a lesson learned......again.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Time Out Project

I needed a break from the big quilt I am working (and working, and working etc) on. I wanted something simple, quick and upon the wall.
I used the bird panel that I bought recently and just put borders on it and did some simple quilting to look like window panes. I fused the panel to PFD fabric because didn't want to quilt anything except around the rectangles. I know from experience that is not enough to keep those areas from sagging. I also fused the hanging sleeve and the binding when I turned it to the back. Maybe it is more craft than quilt but it is done and everyone here likes it because all of the birds, except the Rose Breasted Grosbeak, have come to the feeder right outside the window.  I may not like it quite as much because I know how little time I put into it.   I still need to block it to make it hang nice and then maybe I will like it more.

Anyway it was a nice break from  making 4 patches and connector corners. I still have 14 pairs of 10 inch strips to sew together and cut into 2 patches beside 4 trays of 2 patches to sew into 4 patches and 200 connector corner blocks to make, that is 400 CC squares to sew on. There is a lot going here too other than the quilt.
  What was I thinking? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Time for a Break

It is time for me to take a break when I make a mistake like this.
I can salvage the block if I want to bother. I can take out a few stitches in the orange triangle and then take the stitches out of the pink connector corner because I have not trimmed the triangles away on the back.

As I am looking at this photo I see another mistake that is ready to happen. The upper left background is a different fabric. I cut a few squares for connector corners from a fabric that I had. I wanted to make  a few trial blocks to see if I really liked this pattern. When I measured the fabric and figured out what I needed, I did not have enough for the quilt. I ordered something else because I did not want to have to fuss around with 2 different background fabrics when it was time to put it all together. I have a deadline for this and I could not have chosen a much more labor intensive project. One more thing to think about would have put my frustration level over the top.
I will take a break from sewing the connector corners and clean up my bits and pieces that are all over the place. A little bit of reducing the clutter should make things run smoother. Maybe I will sew some strips together for 4 patch units before I get back to the connector corners; that should cut down on the boredom factor.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Prep stage

This is where I am now in the preparation stage of my next big project. I have all the strips cut from the layer cakes and some from the raindrops bundle. I added four more fabrics that are from another line and I'm going to have to find more fabric for 100 more inches x 2 1/2. I don't want to buy another layer cake or Jelly roll and precuts are all I can find locally in this line. I changed my mind about the pattern I want to use and now I'm coming up short.
I have also decided that I really do not like working with precut fabric if the precuts are supposed to be the size I need. A few of my pieces were almost a 1/4 inch short. I knew this from previous experience but I forgot. The day I finally got a chance to get out to shop, when I found something I liked and layer cakes were all they had, I bought 2. Now it appears that no one else that is within an hours drive carries this line.

 I've been here before but after I started using EQ, I no longer found I didn't have what I needed. I have been working from stash and scraps for a long time and I have gotten out of the habit of planning first before shopping. Ah well...... I also know from experience that this kind of situation forces me to become creative and sometimes find a solution that turns into a better quilt. I am hoping that will be the way it works this time.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Flimsy.....Maybe

I finished up the HST quilt top yesterday. As it came together I could see that some of my first blocks didn't look as good as the later blocks, however I am not going to take them out. Well, maybe I won't. The things that don't look as good really show up in a photo but not so much in real life.

As it is now it is 48 x 72; even with borders, that is not exactly a usable size. I have a bunch of 3 1/2 and 4 inch squares cut and a pretty sizable number of HST's. If I make 12 more blocks the top without borders would be 72 x 72; that is getting closer to king size. Depending on how I handle the borders it could be a king size. Of course I could make 12 blocks and see where to go from there.

I started this because I wanted to clean up some of the stuff in boxes in my sewing room. I had a large number of 3 1/2 and 4 inch squares and a fair number of HST's. I have generated almost as much as I have used because I needed different colors and values. I probably don't need to cut more squares, except a few light colors.

I am tempted to keep going on this and I am even thinking this could be the wedding gift after all.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fabric Shopping

 I was finally able to get out yesterday and shop for fabric. I have been trying to do this since the first of the year. Either the weather was bad or we had Dr. appointments or one or the other of us was sick.

I did not have a firm plan in mind, and I still don't  but I do have 2 or three ideas. I saw a lot of fabric that I would like to use for something other than what I was shopping for,however I reined in my enthusiasm (well mostly). I usually avoid precuts but yesterday I needed  to find a large number of fabrics and with Jack waiting for me I didn't want to spend the time auditioning. So I went with 2 Layer Cakes of Moda's  "Fresh Cut" and a fat quarter bundle of the raindrop fabric from the same line.

I also bought some 1/2 yards that were in the same display.

After searching  the shop for a bolt, I bought 3 fat quarters of this fabric, all that we could find.

Last, I picked up this panel, just because it said "SPRING" to me; there were some samples in the shop that caught my attention. One sample was attic windows and in the other the motifs were cut out and sewed together as they were cut and it formed on tree. I think I might just add a border and quilt the white strips to look like a window with small panes. That will be quick and up on the wall just in time for spring IF IT EVER COMES.

I think I might just add a border and quilt the white strips to look like a window with small panes. That will be quick and up on the wall just in time for spring IF IT EVER COMES.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Sad Day

Yesterday was a sad day for us; we had to take kitty to the vet to be put to sleep. We knew it was coming as she had been declining in health for several weeks.

Soon after our move to our daughters house the cat and dog took over my training as their companion. He was just happy to have us around to let him in and out and take him out for walks. She had more specific tasks in mind. She took over my sewing chair when ever it was free and eventually I put a little cover on it and let her have it.  I
pulled it up next to my desk chair and she would come up and tap me on the arm to let me know it was time to groom her or pet her before her nap.

She won Jack over as well; he is trying to look exasperated over her taking over his foot stool but he eventually gave it over to her altogether and moved it over to the window so she could watch the birds when she wasn't napping.

She like to sleep on the cedar chest under our bedroom window, especially when the sun was streaming in the window. She thought the tree skirt under the Christmas tree was just for heras well as a doll bed (no photo) that I brought out one day for my granddaughter. Lately, she had taken to jumping on my desk if she wanted more attention that she was getting from tapping me on the arm or shoulder. At times she just stared at me and other times she settled down for a nap..
She was an old cat but she was still curious about everything and she still found things in my sewing room to play with. For several weeks she had not been eating as much and had been getting thinner and thinner. We changed her food from dry food to canned salmon and she seemed to like it but then she stopped eating and just went from one sleeping spot to the next and only got up to drink water and use her litter box. She still followed either Jack or I from room to room and slept in her favorite spot in each room. She slept on my on my lap for the last time on  Sunday evening, purring all the time; after that she preferred the floor or a table in front of a window,where we placed a chair for her to use as a step up.

I have had a number of cats and I was fond of them all. I never before had cat that bonded with me so completely. She turned out to be my all time favorite cat.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Moving Along ...............Slowly

I am moving along with the HST quilt but not very fast.  There have been enough snow days that it would seem as though I would get a lot more sewing done.

This is what is up on my small design wall; I have only finished 11 blocks. I thought I had more than enough squares and HSt's but I needed more variety and more "'sparklers". That meant dragging out more fabric to cut squares and then making more HST's. This is probably the layout I am going with unless I decide to make a larger quilt and then I might change my mind.

I'm much happier with the new arrangement in my room. It is easier to work now; when the weather improves and we can get some more insulation board, I will probably have a larger design wall.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sometimes you have to stop and sew

It took me several days to get back to straightening up the sewing room. When I got around to it I decided it was time for a major cleanup and rearrangement. Jack and I moved a large cabinet from it's original place, a few feet from the door, to a corner where it should have been in the first place. It opens up the room and if that were the only change it would be worth the effort. I had to empty the cabinet in order to move it; while everything was out I went through all the contents and discarded a few things and set other things aside to go to storage in the basement. That gave me the incentive to go through everything in the room( I really mean everything)  desk drawers, bookcase, sewing chests, boxes, shelves, yes.... everything. When you put things away haphazardly just to get it put away, it gets to a place where it is impossible to find anything. I was there!

I am not finished yet; this is a table of stuff that has to be put away. There is also a bunch of stuff in the hallway that is not coming back in this room. When we moved I reached a point where I couldn't decide whether or not to get rid of some things; a lot of it came along with us. I am much more objective now about what I really want to keep.
However, sometimes you just have to stop, clear a bit of space, and sew.

 There were two finished blocks on the design wall (yep, I now have a design wall of sorts) and two blocks ready to be stitched together. I sewed the 2 blocks together and put the four blocks up on the wall in this arrangement. This is not what  I thought I wanted originally But the real life version looks a bit different than the EQ version. I am going to wait and see how it looks when I get all of the blocks made before I decide which I like better.

These are two mock ups using photos of the four blocks to see the pattern that would develop. I thought the pattern below would be too static but in actual fabric I see how much variety there is of color and pattern .   I will wait and see which I  like best.
Actually there are several other variations that I saw and eliminated when I was playing and manipulating the blocks in EQ. I might revisit those before I make up my mind.

Meanwhile it is back to making order out of chaos. It really has to be done! The way things have been, I have not been able to work in this room and sustain my interest in anything.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentines Day

This year life got in the way of a lot of things I intended to do and one of those things was Valentines for my friends and family. However, I did do something for Valentines Day.

Two of the great grand children came yesterday and 11 year old Grace wanted to make a mini quilt for her mother. She picked out some fabric and we fused some hearts on a background and layered it up. At that point I was running out of steam and we put it aside to finish up today.  She stitched some quilting lines and along the edges and we trimmed the edges with a rotary pinking blade. She wanted to make something for her father too "so he wouldn't feel left out". We picked out something for a smaller Valentine mini quilt/card and fused a heart on it and finished it the same way as the one for her mother.

Grace at the sewing machine

 I suggested she make a card for her grandparents. Her grandmother (my daughter) came in the room as we were making her fathers card and admired the fabric we were using for the fused heart. She used what she cut away around the heart to fuse on a piece of card stock for a quick card. She was eager to finish and go out to play in the snow so we wanted something fast.These are her 3 projects on the right. She was all dressed to go out in the snow and didn't want to get undress to a photo shoot.

When she came back in she changed her clothes and I had to get a picture of her in her outfit with her penguin sweater, tutu style skirt and striped socks. A girl after my own heart!

On the right is a shot of the sewing room when we finished. It is a huge mess but so worth it for all the fun we had.

Friday, February 13, 2015

HST's and Squares

I got a slow start on the HST's because after I made a few and pressed them I really didn't like them. For one thing, I have not added anything much to my box of cut squares for a long time and what was left in the box was mostly rejects that didn't make it into quilts. I seriously thought about tossing the whole box of cut squares. I gave some thought to how I would use what is in the box and looked at the 3 1/2 inch cut squares and the 3 1/2 inch HST's that had been made here and there over a period of time. I have a lot of them from doing demos of making HST's

I made these 2 blocks and decided that I will continue. When I first laid out the squares and HST's  I was looking at colors and that was when I thought about tossing the whole thing. I went away and did something else and when I came back I played around with value. Oh well, this is much better.

Then I worked out what I want to do in Electric Quilt. On the left is the EQ version of the 4 block pattern and how I will probably lay out the whole quilt. I am probably going to cut more 4 1/2 inch squares of some more recently purchased fabrics to liven it up a bit.

I may be working on this for a while. I plan to work on 4 blocks at a time. I will be starting a wedding gift quilt when I can get out to the quilt shops and I will only work on this hit or miss until I finish the wedding gift.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Finish

Finally.....a finish! I think it is the first one this year. I decided to just quilt in the ditch over the whole thing. I was going to quilt with the #4 Bernina stitch across the blue/purple squares but decided that in the ditch was enough. About 1/3 of the way through I was not too happy with my decision to turn it instead of quilting first and binding it, Some blocks were not quite the same size as all the others and I had tucks in the quilting. When here are already some issues. turning the quilt pillow case style just exaggerates the problems. After some unsewing some of the quilting and repinning and sewing again, it all worked out.
After I put everything back in place after I finished quilting the tablecloth,  I went through some of the plastic boxes on the shelves. I have 3 boxes of scraps that are in ziplock bags, loosely sorted by color and one box of squares sorted by size. I decided to sew up the squares into HST"s, starting with the 4 inch squares. No photos of that yet and no plans as to what I will do with the HST's. I have a box of HST's in various sizes and a lot are made from 4 inch squares so I will do something with them or give them away.
I am really pinched for space so I need to do something with all the scraps too. Right now that seems overwhelming, tackling the squares seems enough for now.

Here is another photo of Miss Kitty. This is her latest ploy to get my attention. She jumps up on my desk and sits in front of me.

It's a good thing I like her!