Friday, January 31, 2014

Must Make Kits

Note  to Self:  Make More Kits.  I love them!

I pulled another kit off the shelf. I put this one together perhaps 2 years ago. I cut the strips at the time I made the kit, so I could sit down and start to sew within minutes of pulling it off the shelf.  The first step of the sewing went really fast, in spite of the two strips I sewed in the wrong order.  Can you guess what pattern I am making?

I am using the book Tradition with a Twist. The pattern is Sunshine and Shadow.  I always thought that pattern had all the squares radiating out from the center in color order. This one makes a bunch of little ones.  Boy! These squares are sure fast and easy. What a great way to use up stash fast.  Might be something I could plan on. I wanted the strips set sewn together before quilting tonight when the girls come. It's nice to have something ready to work on when the come over so I don't waste time while they are here. Tonight I will start making the rows.

And don't you love the way this fabric is manufactured in a variety of widths.  I wonder what's going on.  I have been sewing long enough to recall that it used to be either 36"/38" wide (quit making in mid 70's) or 44"/45".  I think it is rare to find it that wide anymore. The two long ones here are probably 12-15 years old. I needed a minimum of 40" for this pattern and the shortest comes in at 40 1/2". No problems yet, but one slip of the ruler could screw that up. Good thing I have enough extra if that happens.

I recall one time a fabric I preshrunk lost almost 4" in width.  That's very unusual cause it usually shrinks in length and minimally in width. And FYI, patterns are typically written  for 40" usable width of fabric. Knowing that, you might want to be sure not to trim too much off the ends when you remove the selvage.  

Has anyone else noticed how hungry the wildlife is this year? The snow is kinda deep for them to find food. In the last two days we have had eating birdseed ON  the back deck not just the birds and squirrels but also a rabbit and a deer. The deer were all over the back yard last night.  I dug the icy snow off the English Ivy yesterday.  I like the way the deer prune that in the winter and help keep it from spreading out of control. They found it. Glad we don't have bear here, though they should  be hibernating now.
I'm linking to a new linky party. Sarah Craig hosts "Can I get a Whoop Whoop" linky party on Fridays. Be sure to visit. The linky parties are like on-line magazines to me.  Thank you Sarah.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Not Inspired Enough

Yesterday I showed some of the blocks a friend gave me 20 years ago. Here I am showing more of the orphan blocks from that  same collection.

As you can see, they are every bit as interesting as the first bunch. When she sewed them, by machine, she didn't stop 1/4" from the edge of the patch to allow for a seam allowance to either turn under and appique or set-in the background piece. Some of this could be fixed. The green and red blocks that are the same are partially pieced and partially machine appliqued These too are made using flannel, seersucker and a very fine gauze type fabric.One of the patches is actually two layers of the fine gauze.
Sue really likes to sew curved  patchwork and loves the 1930's style. Maybe she will want to make a pattern off of one of these.  I am more likely to copy the last one in the corner.

 I don't know how to explain the 9-patch made of the sheer dotted swiss. That one is machine sewn. This was one of two 9-patches in the bunch. They both looked to be made from samples/swatches of one fabric line.
  And look closely at the blue block. Partly pieced by machine and part by hand. No, the white fabric is not printed with little dark dots. If you check it close up, you can see the embroidered holes of the eyelet. Such a hoot!

 And aren't these beautiful. Each block has been hand pieced and left unfinished. I think I had as many as 30 of these at one time, but sold off my least favorites. If I choose to finish them I would have to set-in 14 pieces in each block. I guess I could handle that. But, I haven't been inspired enough yet. Then again, I haven't seen them spread out like this in a long time. Sure are fun. I hope you enjoyed them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Not too Late

It took 20 years for these blocks to speak to me and tell me to simply alternate them with a plain muslin square. I nearly passed on them when a friend offered them to me 20 years ago. She didn't have any history on them other than her brother found them in an estate he acquired for the antiques.
I pulled them out every once in a while and setting them with sashing or side by side just didn't work. 

No question, the big reason they sat so long is cause some of them are just plain ugly.  I feel free to say that cause  the quilter that put them together is not around to be offended. But really? Wouldn't you agree? I finally figured out to look their best they needed the space that the plain blocks offer. And why I suggest that  it is NOT too late is cause it is still a top and I could rescue some of the uglies and rework some of the blocks. But then, I am not that nuts. 

These come from a very interesting collection of blocks. (You should be able to double click on the photo to see a closeup).  They have all been hand pieced. One of the blocks actually used 12 different colors of thread! The pink and gray(or navy) stripe is a satin that is sewn to flannel. There is also some dotted Swiss in one of the blocks. And that dark red, it's a denim! The side triangles have all been cut from squares cut once diagonally, leaving bias at the outside of the block.  YUK. As expected they were stretched way out of shape. I love that the same block has been shaded in so many different ways - most with 5 different fabrics. The 1 block with triangles in the corners has 17 different fabrics. I guess it was a "make do" quilt and she used what she had.

I debated putting another border on this but decided against it. I figured that if she had to 'make do' she wouldn't have had the fabric or fussed and would have needed it to get done. Then why didn't she finish it?? Could be cause  her situation improved. I wonder if it's more likely cause she was a "topper" like so many of us and she didn't like how it was progressing so she lost interest.  Same as us. Okay, I guess I'm speaking for myslef.    Oops. Maybe it was cause she got too busy like soo many of us. That's why we have so many ufos. Is that right?

I will show some of the other blocks in the next post. Yes, that donation to church has inspired me.
Happy Stitching everyone.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vintage patchwork scraps

I'm so glad I have had nowhere to go, so I can stay in and stay warm. Though I will go out and shovel a little in the driveway when we get a light snow which seems to be several times a week this winter. Like everyone else, I'm hoping for a milder February.

I had Sue over to pick through  the donation to church of old fabric scraps. She collected a small pile and made a donation to church in return.  I've been picking through the box of squares too, trying to decide if or what I want to do about them. I've a plan in mind so stay tuned on that.

 I'm still a little undecided about this set of blocks.  I've never seen the dresden plate block made from just one or two fabric before. I don't think some of these are worth the bother, but others appeal to me more each time I look at them.Any suggestions?

Going through those old scraps inspired me to dig out my own collection of old fabric and old orphan blocks. I put them in order and made some plans for some of them. 

Time to check the blogs linked up at Patchwork Times

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Does it make you smile?

Are you cleaning out your studio too??? I'm asking because it seems the quilters around here are. Last night I saw a friend and with a third friend help her start to organize her fabric. The daughter moved out and left an empty bedroom. It was fun to see in Joy's collection lots of fabric I've used in the past. She also had quite a collection of vintage fabric maybe 1950's and 60's. There was lots there that wouldn't make me smile, but she was sure happy with it. I had to keep telling myself  'that's what counts'. We did agree on three pieces being about the ugliest we ever saw.  Too much fun. And so glad I came home empty handed. Well, except for a quilt she wants me to deliver to someone here in town.
Then this morning I nearly missed the meeting at church. 3 of the ladies in our group cleaned out and sent their rejects to church. One had nice pieces (Thanks, Nancy),but  two had a grocery sack of itty bitty scraps. I wonder if they think I actually want them cause of the scraps books I wrote and I like to organize that stuff. Actually not that itty bitty, but small enough that I can use them to demo how to do crumb quilts. They've asked to see that.
Also at quilting this morning we discovered some small boxes of precut fabric squares. Looks to be 40's, 50's and a few 60's.  The ladies weren't too interested in using it for our comfort quilts, but I know Sue likes that stuff, some of it anyways. I will see if she is interested before I decide what to do with it next. The lady that cut these wasn't fussy about the fabric she used. Lots of bottomweight fabrics. Not that the stuff was ugly, but pretty heavy to be mixing in with a finer cotton. Then again there were a few uglies in there too.  I hear it's those uglies in  a quilt that makes it so interesting and the others look so beautiful. I guess I oughta look at them twice and see if any of them make me smile.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Improved Square Up

I just remembered that a year ago when I added two little lines to my Thirtysomething Square Up tool, that I never posted about it. So hear goes. The two new lines were added so the tool could double as a trimming template for the companion pieces to the Thirtysomething units  that I call "Onlies" I called them that cause they have only one little triangle in the unit as opposed to the two little triangles that the Thirtysomething unit has. This first photo shows the tool in position after trimming a square. In my case, the piece under the ruler is discarded. You might opt to use it in a miniature. The other line is 1" below the line I've used to trim squares for 4" finished units.

I had some scraps on my cutting table and thought these little blocks would be cute in this design. I don't have many more scraps that would work with these, so before I dig into the stash to really make something with them, I thought I oughta just use up those scraps first.

  I was inspired by this quilt by Kelly Kroon that I put in my first Thirtysomething book. I think it's wonderful, but apparently you have to get the contrast just right.   

I was pretty excited about these two little lines. I've been using the improved tool in my classes all year and the quilters love it. And they don't even know it saves them from having to buy yet another tool to do what the new lines do. If you are interested you can go to my website to order one. And you still have time to make  a quilt for the QOV/Quilter's Rule tool challenge. Check out these links.

I'm off to Judy's to check out the blogs linked up for Design Wall Monday.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Standard Operating Procedure

I'm busy quilting, trying to ignore the cold. And as usual, once I finished the quarter blocks, I took them to the flannel wall to see what else I might like. This was the most obvious option.

 And this is what they would look like together. 

 Not that different than the plan shown below.

I musta planned on 16 blocks. That would make it another square quilt. I must prefer them and not even know it. So since I couldn't find any more of that gray fabric I'd used, even though I am sure there is still some in this house some place, I will have to decide if I want to set the blocks 3 x 5 or 4 x 4. If I decide on the 16th block, I will have to take apart that first block I made umpteen years ago. Not that I mind using the seam ripper. It IS my friend. But those stitches are awfully tiny in that block. Not my usuall stitch length.
I'm thinking maybe I should go dig a little deeper looking for that gray fabric. Toooo cold to do much else and I need a break from the machine.  But then I will be blogging for a while, linking up to Judy's and all. Happy, happy to all.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Quilting Time

We're just a few days into the new year and I am all settled in for a long winter of quilting. I hope I find more time for blogging, but I spect it will be like usual and come summer I will be outside more than in the studio. I've looked back and reviewed my accomplishments this year and they are fewer than usual for me. I have no regrets .I feel better than I have in years, happy with the progress on the book and happy with my quilting life. I'm not one to set goals, so I won't, but I will say that I hope to be able to continue to make quilts as I desire. I hope to use the longarm more too. I think getting this book out is goal enough for the year.

I don't have tons of ufo's to finish up either, not counting 100 +/- tops and I haven't got a clue what kind of quilts I will be working on this year, but it is early.  One of the piles of blocks on my cutting table came out of the closet a month ago. I've finally taken some time to work with them. Analyzing why I haven't finished this project sooner, I have to say that I think it was cause I just didn't like it. The fabrics were kinda dull. I remember though, that the fabric was kinda old when I started this. Oh dear, now they are even older. But as I studied them, I realized I could make a simple change to improve things a bit. This is what I started with. Notice the black triangles in the corners. I decided that it had to go and it would be an easy fix.

With the pieces for the blocks was a blue print I musta intended for the borders. There was enough for me to change out the black for a blue print. The black triangles were too small. They were already sewn into the unit so I just cut them off and replaced with the blue in a better size.  I am sure I will like this more, even if the fabrics are old.

Finishing up a PHD is a good way to start the year, I'd say. I found I like it too, cause so many of the decisions have been made already. I hope you are able to keep warm and dry and stitch the winter away.