Tuesday, July 28, 2020

New Projects Everywhere

Startitis seems to strike on a daily basis these days.  There is no end to leftovers which I try to turn into "real" quilted items!  I showed the start of a small tablerunner the other day, and since the walking foot was still on the machine, decided to get it quilted.  The deep raspberry Dimples fat quarter backing was not quite big enough to make a traditional binding and I decided to make a flanged binding instead.  The scrap drawers produced a suitable length of a green linen string and I got cutting and sewing.  Due to shortage of the raspberry print to allow joining the final seam,  I found a chunk of a close colored print to add.  I got as far as stitching the binding to the back, turning it to the front and affixing binding clips before closing down for the night.




Next morning it was soon finished off by stitching down the flange with green thread.  I was happy with the way it turned out on the front....


...and the back.  The free-motion quilting looks a little like hieroglyphics on this side, haha.  No destination for this one either so it's resting on the bookshelf in the living room for now. 

Another set of those green star point pieces were still left to deal with, so I pulled another leftover small pieced item out of my "small projects" box.  This was a trial for the Dreamweaver quilt, making Disappearing 9 patch blocks as per the original pattern, with larger squares.  I used some pretty fabrics for the mockup so it wouldn't go to waste.  Ultimately I went with plain squares for the Dreamweaver quilt to simplify. 



Fiddling with the green and cream star points pieces, I ended up cutting them down to 3" wide and after sewing them together, sliver trimmed the D9P section to match the length.  The tablemat has not been paired with a backing or binding choice yet but is looking cheerful.

Our next grandson is due in four weeks and although I made him a small playmat a couple of months ago, I wanted to make a regular sized baby quilt and pulled out the Churn Dash blocks from one of Barb's swaps from a few years back; I was in the modern swap of 6" finished blocks of solids with low volume background. Last year I made this quilt for my grand-nephew Elliott from the blue blocks with black/gray and white backgrounds.


Well this is just the top, but shows the secondary pattern formed by the alternate 9 patches; this setting I first saw on Kathy's Quilts blog in traditional fabrics.  Since our nephew Matt and our son Nick were so close growing up, I wanted to make a similar but different modern quilt for Nick's son.  The cousins will be only 8 months apart in age and I hope will be close as well.


Graph paper and pencil are my friends!  I originally had a much grander plan in mind, using Drunkard's Path blocks for the diagonals, but simplified to the the HSTs.  


A suitable low volume print and gray-blue crackle print from stash were cut with Bonnie's Essential Triangle tool from 6.5" strips.  Initially, I laid out the chosen Churn Dash blocks in color groups, and ended up making a couple more blue blocks from stash.  Next morning, though, it seemed too formal and static for a baby's quilt.  After Switcheroo, stitching commenced.


I think it looks much more fun this way.  The colors remind me of sunsets and sea colors, and being the child of two adventurers, our grandson will no doubt see plenty of water and sky as he grows up. Currently, though, he's being bratty by not being turned head down yet...

Friday, July 24, 2020

Finally Friday--with Finishes

Some weeks just crawl....I was very impatient with work duties this week, probably due to being grumpy about having to do a self-review of my performance and a goal setting exercise for work.  Honestly, at this stage in my career, I am not interested in starting a management position so my goals are just to get better at maneuvering in our new electronic health record system and see if I can be retired in a few more years!  I am a good employee, tho, covering shifts and willing to work with different practitioners at other offices when I can.   Of course, currently the only traveling I do is from our upstairs home office to the downstairs sewing room or dining room :)

There was enough downtime between patients this week that stitching was often possible, even quilting.


These two doll quilts got quilted and bound.  I used up some saved leftover binding pieces too.  Very simple in the ditch quilting for both.  My sister stopped by and snatched up the four patch one, but I've got plenty more of those four patch pieces to make another doll quilt for Guild donation.


The 30s print got a vintage piece of fabric for backing--the color is poor in the shot but it's a pretty blue. you can barely see how I quilted around the heart shape.  The yellow and black binding was leftover from a banner sewn for daughter Elaine's bridal shower 9 years ago!  Glad some of it got used up. 

Another languishing tablerunner was also finished.  A collection of shot cottons and leftover Essex Linen were combined to make a shortened version of the Scrap Lab Design Challenge tablerunner by Susan Ache in the Fall 2019 Quilts & More magazine.  A lot of different stash choices were pulled for binding options;  I had nearly given up when the ochre print from the fat quarter drawers suited best. I thought it was very Mid Century Modern in colorway and that DD Elaine would like it--and she did-- but thought it would not match her current very neutral color scheme and passed.  So now it is on our coffee table after being washed and dried. 



Mini gave it a good going over before it went through the washing and drying process. 


The back is pretty neutral.  I like making double sided tablerunners and placemats. 

Binding was also sewn together for  the Dreamweaver quilt and I attached it today.  It needs a label and a bath and then will finally go home with our son and daughter in law--after a year in process.  Looking back to July 2019, I was purchasing fabrics for the quilt and getting ready to cut 520 background squares!   Pics of the finish next time...

Monday, July 20, 2020

Design Wall Monday--7/20/2020

Design Wall Monday rolls around again.  See more design walls on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog. 

I am happy to say that the Dreamweaver quilt for our son and daughter-in-law has now been quilted.  Man, I have had such a time with this quilt--trouble of my own making, for sure!  Again, this is a Jen Kingwell design that I greatly enlarged; my background squares are 3" finished.


Last post, I mentioned that I had added quilting pins to the quilt sandwich after stippling the top third of the background...well, due to the significant problems with skipped stitches while trying to buttonhole stitch the appliques and quilt at the same time, I ended up removing all the quilting pins so I could fold the backing and batting out of the way, and stitch the appliques only through the quilt top. 


These specialty needles were allegedly nonstick, but the Steam-A-Seam continually gummed up the needle anyway.  Lots more skipped stitches...


I'm sure the white on white print and seam allowance contributed to the stitches completely skipping here, but in other places there was skipping for no good reason. Lengthening and widening the stitch after this attempt did help some. I persevered, stopping frequently to remove gunk from the needle with an alcohol prep pad.  Finally all the applique was finished and I could fold down the batting and backing and finish the quilting with a regular size 14 needle.  It was tedious to quilt between the appliques with the stipple and I began to wish I'd just stitched in the ditch in the patchwork.   It was far too late to turn back at that point, however!


The medallion took a couple of tries and some unpicking, separated by backyard breaktime, in order to get it all right.  The bobbles and imperfections  of my free motion quilting will hopefully be less noticeable once the quilt is bound, labeled, and washed.  Those tasks are scheduled for this week.  I'd love to get some glamour shots of the quilt at the beach by the end of the week. 

Our soon-to-be-born grandson has not turned head down yet and their OB doctor has discussed performing an external version to turn him.  Our third baby was the same, three weeks before her due date; but once threatened with the procedure, she turned herself head down one night while I was sleeping and I never had to bear that trial!  We got a long email from our son and daughter-in-law regarding getting TDAP and flu vaccines and COVID-19 testing, self-quarantining before seeing the baby.  So scary to have a baby during a pandemic with no treatment in sight.  We will at least get to socially distance visit in the backyard, we're told :)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Days Running Together

I'm sure many of us are feeling the same way....the days are not very well demarcated. I have to think every morning when I wake up, what day is this and who am I working with?  I'm still working remotely from home, which includes interminable waiting times some days due to connectivity problems the patients have.  We have had a few internet drops, which of course affect both me and my husband.  He is involved in a lot of conference calls with his work, and I'm connected to two different medical record programs plus video conference calls for patient visits.  Technology is great when it works properly!  So I am happy to have the laptop computer for work, as I can move it to my sewing room while waiting.  One morning I pinned a quilt between the morning patient visits.  I had originally not pinned the Dreamweaver quilt, but because of the amount maneuvering under the needle that is going to be required with the medallion and appliques, became concerned for shifting.  I felt better about it after the pins were in. 

I finished the cross stitch watermelon project that occupied down time over a week ago.

I could not find my regular skein of black floss so used the perle cottton, which worked just as well.  Pretty cute and I'm happy to have it for summer decorating. 

Yesterday we were very busy with patients, so some piecing only happened occasionally.  I got out my "small projects box" and played with leftovers.



I don't recall where I got the Chrysanthemum print, but the leftover pieced blocks were from a quilt I made our younger daughter a few years ago.  I had incorrectly made a ton of these for star blocks, in the wrong color.  I needed a spacer strip to make the pieces fit without losing too much of the pieced blocks. 


A fat quarter audition party resulted in this dark raspberry Dimples fabric for the backing.  Erica did not care for the chrysanthemum print so I will be keeping or gifting this little mat, once quilted.  My nails match, as I was able to see my friend at the salon recently.

My haircut was scheduled for next month and then the hair and nail salons and other businesses were all closed again indefinitely in my County, due to rising COVID-19 numbers.  Though still low for our overall population, the numbers are going the wrong way and we were put on a watch list.  Very frustrating for everyone who just started to get paid again.  DD Elaine was just getting back on her feet with clients--my parents got in for their cuts--so is very upset about having to close and reschedule all her clients.  I'm going to have to wait longer to get in, but eventually it will happen!  At least I can trim my own bangs....

Monday, July 13, 2020

Design Wall Monday-Hearts and My Lupine Heaven

It's Design Wall Monday.  See more design walls on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog. 

I felt like piecing rather than quilting on a hot day, and pulled out a couple of projects, one of which is a doll quilt from trimmings of 30s prints from another quilt; I had already sewn the HSTs into four patches.


I thought the HSTs looked like a heart set this way, and used a couple of 2" wide strips to lengthen the little quilt and feature the heart row. This will be finished for guild donation. 


A few leftover sets will make a cute start to a mug rug or bookmark.  I intended to make three hearts but the butterfly insisted on being included.  I don't mind :)

Still avoiding the Dreamweaver quilting job occupying the cutting table, I pulled out another project box needing piecing.  I took a class with Bonnie Hunter two years ago (just looked it up, yikes!) for her My Blue Heaven quilt, a free pattern on her blog.  I last worked on some of the star blocks in January, but had a lot of pieces cut and ready to sew.  My version has two color groups and I'm calling it My Lupine Heaven.  We get splashes of pretty purple lupine here after the winter rains, but it doesn't last long in SoCal. 


Revisiting my notes and checking the box, I was happy to find that all of the center blocks are finished and the border hourglass blocks started.  More cutting was required but soon I had a bunch of pieces ready to feed through the sewing machine.  I used Bonnie's specialty Essential Triangle Tool  to cut out the QSTs, which I purchased at the class.  For my smaller version, a 6x8 setting, I need 64 of the border hourglass blocks, which are separated from the center blocks by a plain border (not yet cut).


This is looking good!  Somehow the outer hourglass blocks seem to tame the busyness of the star blocks, and I think the plain border will too.  A lot more cutting is in my future as I have exhausted the 2 1/2" green strips from the precut scrap drawer.  I also have cut up a bunch of scraps for Bonnie's 2020 Leader-Ender project--a triangle free chain block she is calling Easy Breezy.  Mine will be the 6" finished size, she also offers a 4" finished size.


I had fun picking out colored 2" strips from the scrap drawers and cutting up odds and ends for the light rectangles. These can be set many ways--I may use a two color hourglass block as I did for the Chunky Churndash quilt (another free Bonnie pattern), it's such a great fool-the-eye framing trick. 


Now I really do need to get the quilting finished on Dreamweaver!





Saturday, July 4, 2020

No Clever Title

The redundancy of using "update" on every other post is getting boring!  Yes, I'm still sewing nearly every day, yes squirrels pop up often.

There has been good progress on Dreamweaver, along with frustrations. I spent a long evening auditioning and making more applique pieces for the streamers, using Steam a Seam fusible product. 


Some smaller circles and layered shapes fleshed out the design.  I was able to group similar fabrics on several of the stems. 


I left the appliques overnight but didn't end up making any changes the next morning before heating up the iron to fuse down the pieces.  It was quite a chore to peel off the backing papers and reposition everything the same way; I'd taken separate photos of each streamer to guide me.  I removed all the pieces before moving the quilt top to the ironing board, and replaced them as I moved on to pressing the applique pieces on each streamer.  My idea was to use 40 wt thread to add some stitching to each leaf/circle after all the fusing was finishe.  Despite the description on the Steam a Seam packaging, the adhesive DID gum up the needle and caused thread breaks.  After a frustrating attempt to clean the needle with an alcohol wipe, a change of needle size and thread weight to finer strand, the thread continued to break.  The packaging claims no edge finish is needed once fused, but I'm not sure I trust that.  Perhaps after washing I can try stitching the edges again.  In the meantime, the backing is ready to be assembled and I have batting on hand. 

While cleaning up the Hoosier cabinet's table, I pulled out a box with finished log cabin blocks from last year.  These were from Julie's Log Cabin Loonies sew along.  I made mine with 1.5" strips and they will finish at the odd size of 7.5".


Mini supervised the layout tries, as usual.


I had found a sort of star layout online  here which I pinned a couple of years ago.  However, after laying out my very scrappy blocks, I did not feel they had high enough contrast for this layout  A search on the Katy Quilts blog for a finished quilt in this layout was nonproductive.  There are endless ways to set log cabin blocks, of course.  I think this next one is called Light and Dark. 


I think it works better for my scrappy blocks, do you?  I have a total of 80 blocks to play with so they went back in the box for now...I've got a bunch of quilting to do!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

What I'm Working on Wednesday--Multiple Projects

I seem to be unable to settle in to one project for very long currently.  Stalling on a major one usually produces this condition.  In this case, the Dreamweaver quilt and all its applique has been hogging the cutting table.  I've pulled out the table on the Hoosier cabinet for an additional cutting and auditioning area. 


My DIL was happy with the progress and agreed with adding more applique.  We decided some smaller circles over the larger solid ones would help them stand out less. I had already cut a lot of leaves from the Steam a Seam fusible but needed more sheets.  Also I wanted to pick up some floss for another embroidery project.  Happily, although limiting customer volume and requiring masks, the larger local fabric store in town is open. 


I was able to find all of the floss colors for this thrift store scored Blackbird Designs pattern, and then wandered about the rest of the store.  There were 20% off tags on many of the bolt tables.  I found a good option for the backing of the Dreamweaver quilt, then perused the fat quarters while waiting for the cutting table traffic to clear. 



Well I HAD to buy these $2.00 fat quarters, didn't I?  I always need neutrals and picked up the fun stripes and a couple of blues as I seldom buy blue fabric.  I could have bought a lot more FQ but had to consider how stuffed the FQ storage drawers are...and put some back, lol. I want to make some cloth napkins and fat quarters work well for that. 

While avoiding the applique, I worked on the Perkiomen Valley blocks from last post.  Trying to figure out how to nest seams when the blocks were going to be twisted and turned was impossible, so I pressed all the seams open after chain piecing the block pieces.  I got annoyed by trying to stick my scissors between the pieces to snip the chain thread while holding them in my hand, so did this instead:


I laid the joined rows  on the table, pulling down the just  added row to the limit of the chain thread, and snipped through the now visible chain. 



When laying out the first few sets of squares and HSTs before piecing, I noticed I was choosing a blue for the center, and went with that for the remainder. Above the blocks are looking good in a straight set layout....


...and here more dynamic in "The Stacey" layout, after a fellow guild member.  This is just a small corner of her layout, which I showed last time. The top is now complete. 

Another "squirrel" project jumped out when I was pulling charm squares for the Perkiomen Valley blocks.  I have acquired mini charm packs over the years, usually as freebies, but seldom use them.  A well aged Bubble Pop charm pack by Sandy Klop along with a sweet green and white background fabric pull from stash and I was on my way....

The Moda Love Quilt I have made in layer cake and charm pack size, but this is the first mini charm pack one I attempted.  These squares and HSTs are little!  This is a free pattern from Moda. 


Pen for size reference.  Since I used my Bloc-Loc trimmer for all of the HSTs, the rows went together pretty smoothly.  I did have to restitch a few seam allowances that got skewed, but it wasn't too painful.  This will likely become a pillow cover with the addition of more of the background print and leftover mini charms. 

...now back to applique pieces for Dreamweaver....