Monday, August 14, 2017

NNP August?

NNP stands for NO NEW PROJECTS!!
I am trying to have pass through the month of August without beginning any new quilting projects!
There is so much temptation out there but I'm determined!!
Don't worry, I won't be bored -- there is plenty in production already.
While I do have a little trouble staying with a project when it is no longer challenging, I should be okay.

The straight line quilting I'm doing on this piece is only interesting for about 5 lines and then I'm ready to do something else!
I'm pleased with the results -- stitching 1/4" on each side of all the seams.
To hold some focus, I'm trying to work on improving the consistency of my stitch length and eliminate "jiggles" at my start/stops.
Theory is if I improve in those two areas on this quilt, it will translate to the next one?!?
I'm not going to start the ZenChic Triangle QAL via the Bernina blog even though I've pulled such a great stack of fabric to go with the little bundle I bought last week of Down by The River by Lewis and Irene.
Found the fabric at!
It's quietly sitting in a chair in the studio waiting for September 1.
The first step is simple work so catching up should not be a problem.
I really should sew up this blouse -- all cut out and wouldn't take an afternoon!!
I finished three more dodecagons while visiting my youngest daughter and her family last week!
Only 5 more to go, fabric combos all picked out, just need to cut!!
Monday morning when I stumbled across the #100days100hexies2017 on Instagram (the enabler is @sewfoxymama), I did not start a new project -- I decided to use it as an excuse to prep lots of black hexies for bordering my dodecagons!
I will be overachieving though and do 10 a day (cause I need a lot).
Every evening, I'm putting about an hour's worth of stitching into the quilting of a previous hexie masterpiece, Karen's Value Proposition FAL from 2015 (or was it 2014?). 
And I won't do more than one of these blocks a day . . . . aren't they fabulous??
It's @lorena_in_syd's fabulous design, Opal Essence!!
Well, I needed something up on the design wall -- can't just stare at a blank wall?!?
I only have to be strong for 16 more days!!
Back to the quilting!

Friday, August 11, 2017

It Takes Work to be Creative!

My oldest daughter, the librarian and I made a quick trip to visit my younger daughter and her family this week to celebrate the 11th birthday of my granddaughter.  It's a longish drive -- 7 hours when including all the stops I need to make for stretch -- and so as many of you do, we listened to a book.

The book is titled Vincent and Theo, The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman.  (She found it on Hoopla.)  It's the story of the two brothers personal relationship and is drawn from nearly 700 letters written by Vincent to his younger brother.  We are a bit more than halfway through it and I'm in awe of the depth of their conversations with each other via the letters.  

I was reminded of an account of DaVinci I read 15 years ago.   He was never satisfied with his work and left behind enough UFO's to mentally cripple most people.  Yet, we admire his work and the legacy of ideas he left for our benefit.  He didn't know that would happen, he was working through ideas in his head and some worked but most didn't.  

We left off yesterday at the end of a chapter about a period in Vincent's journey to the paintings we know him for during which he was striving to expand his understanding of color. 
He had to learn to use color? 
He was an artist, isn't that part of their genetic make-up?

Of course it isn't.  It's a skill built through the creative process of learning.  Learning is experimenting, trying out ideas, imitating others who we admire -- in other words, it's work.   Vincent had some innate talent for drawing but he didn't rely on that to become an artist.  The author relates many examples of how he worked through the same drawing exercises repeatedly in an effort to learn and improve the skills of his trade.  

This particular chapter was discussing Vincent's discovery of complementary colors and he made the comment in a letter to Theo that using complementary colors "enriches the colors".  This occurred five years into his journey to become an artist.  Wow, I thought.  I use complementary colors to create contrast quite often but had not realized they also enrich one another.

I've been looking through some pictures I took last week on a walk around the perimeter of a large local meadow which is bordered on three sides by a lush forest of hickory, beech, and maple.  Just for fun, I've been naming the color schemes used by nature and focusing on the impact those color schemes have on what attracted me to photograph them.  

The meadow was alive with tiger swallowtail butterflies -- at one point, I could see nine fluttering over various parts of the meadow at the same time!!  
I took quite a few pictures but the ones I like best are when they were posed on this red-violet swamp milkweed with a rich green background of foliage.
The contrast of the complementary colors -- green and red-violet -- make the whole photo more vibrant.
These crabapples caught my eye as I walked past -- complementary colors!
I also made a mental note of how large they are this year -- time to make crabapple jelly!!
I think this shrub is in the dogwood family -- look how these berries stand out on their red stems. 
Compare that to how much less obvious these blue berries appear -- analogous colors.
Complementary colors -- does nature use them so things stand out?
Did I notice this grass because it stands out against the green background or because it was so different from everything around it?
Perhaps some of each? 
So if Vincent had to work at learning how to use colors, I should not be intimidated by the fact that using color is not intuitive for me.
It's work!
And it's work that I love!

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Full Moon Means Focus on Finishing!!

I'm not really superstitious but I do believe that the full moon agitates my insides more than I like,
So several years ago I developed a "full moon strategy" to combat the negative impact I feel for the few days surrounding this monthly cycle.  One aspect of it is to finish projects rather than start projects.   I get such a positive vibe from finishing something that it just makes sense to manufacture good vibrations to counteract the turbulence of the full moon.

So I dedicated this past weekend to finishing!!

Finished the Meteor Shower wall hanging the I made for Emily Breclaw's Adventures in Hexagon blog tour -- yea!!!  (Read about that finish HERE).

Then I turned to the two twin size quilts that came back from Sarah at Quilting by the Mill the end of May and the binding that was already cut -- been setting right there for two months patiently waiting!
 Got those bound -- yea!!!
Took all of three hours and now they are ready to put up for sale in my Etsy shop!!
I think they will look charming in a young girl's bedroom -- soft blue walls, white furniture!!
Plus getting them finished is another goal reached on my third quarter 2017 Finish A-Long list!!
While I'm (smugly) crossing that off the list, I realize that one third of the quarter is gone and I still have four quilts to quilt and bind on that list?!?
(The LIST with full frontal pics of the quilts!)
So Monday (sturgeon moon day) was all about layering and basting!

Number one.
A scrappy "many trips" for my nephew-in-law.

Number two.
A charming crib quilt that is destined for the Etsy shop.

Number three.
My Smorgasblocks top from last summer -- destined for a niece-in-law.

Wow, I'm so impressed with my stick-to-it attitude.
I even know exactly how I'm going to quilt one of them and the other two are beginning to make suggestions -- love it when the quilt talks to me like that!!

Next challenge?
Quilt them of course!
I hope that stacking them up next to George will be a nagging reminder to "come quilt us".

I can't believe I did that -- layered three quilts in one day?!?



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Another Look at Meteor Shower

It's not often that I push all the way through a project from beginning to end but apparently having a quilting design idea was enough motivation to keep me moving on this piece!
Sometime in the past couple years, I came across a quilt on Pinterest quilted in concentric circles like a huge target and it inspired me.  The swirling design of Meteor Shower called out for concentric circles as soon as I started the final stages of piecing! 
Eager to try it out, I fiddled with my set of Handi Gadgets Half Circles.  
The first circle fit right inside the center hexagon!
Once I had finished the 12" circle, it was obvious I would need a new strategy.
In the spring, I watched a gal demonstrate the Westalee Ruler Foot Echo Guides for Cindy's Sew Easy Shop here in Cleveland (Ohio) during a local show.  The tools are distributed in the USA by Sew Steady and HERE is a little video about the echo guides.  I was very impressed so I bought a set and hoped that my APQS ruler foot would work with them.  It didn't, but happily, APQS introduced a new ruler foot -- exactly 1/4" from the needle to the outer edge and with a new shank design (look back up at the first picture) that accommodates rulers all the way around the foot -- and the guides do fit on that foot!!
I experimented with drawing circles -- that didn't work.
So I used my Fine Line arc ruler to keep my stitching (fairly) steady and on track.
The key lies in stopping every 3" or so and adjusting the ruler to line up with the next section of the previous circle.  I'm not going to share close-up pictures of the stitching -- you'll see all the hic-cups.
As I neared the point at which the ever larger circles would intersect the edges of the quilt, I decided to stop the circles once I was past the last group of teal diamonds and finish the corners with straight lines to create the appearance of a burst of light.
A sheet of paper laid on the quilt helped me experiment with how that might look and how to proceed with the stitching order.
I switched to the straight ruler and zigzagged around the center creating a series of points.
After the first complete pass around the quilt, it did not lay completely flat outside the circle.
I needed to add more quilting to match the density of the center of the quilt. 
A second trip around the entire quilt with zigzags that overlapped the first round and were shorter took care of that.  As I was finishing the second round, I thought it would have added some more interest to have changed colors of thread and perhaps add a third row with a third thread color.
Next time?
Or you could do that and let me know how it looks!
Here's a close-up of one corner so you can get a better idea of how it looks.
The edges were not quite as flat as I want for a wall hanging so I spread the quilt out and laid a soaking wet towel over top for a couple hours -- that flattened it out nicely.
It's laying out on the porch drying overnight -- thought I would get it bound today, too.
But there is no point rushing it -- it will be good and dry by morning and tomorrow, I'll have a FINISH!!!
I love the movement the concentric circles create!
I'm not sure I would do a big quilt with this design and I think most quilters who do circles use a walking foot and a guide, but George doesn't walk, he only runs!!

If you missed leaving a comment on my last post to enter my Adventures In Hexagons giveaways,  keep going down the page and read Tuesday's post.
Winners will be picked on Saturday evening, 8/5/2017.

Enjoy your weekend!!

Monday, July 31, 2017


Welcome to my stop on Emily Breclaw's blog tour for her new book,
Adventures in Hexagons! 
The book was released in June and I got a copy of it as soon as I could. 
Here's a QUICK LINK to order your own copy (just in case you don't win it)!
For those of you who already follow my blog, you know how I love a y-seam!!
 I was delight to be invited to participate in this introduction to Emily's book.
If you've been following the blog tour over the past few days, you already know that Emily connected with one of my piecing mentors, Marti Michell early in her planning for the book and suggests template Sets G and H plus the Kite and Crown sets for cutting most of the shapes in her designs.

And if you are a regular reader here at my blog, you know I'm mostly all about machine piecing and that several years ago, I stumbled onto an awesome approach to stitching y-seams by machine!!

This is Emily's design, Meteor Shower.
I pieced my own version to give the book a test drive.
I began by labeling all the template diagrams at the end of the book with Marti's template numbers to make it easier to pick up the right template. 
Then I created a "cheat sheet" marker for the pattern page I used to make it even easier. 
To make things interesting, I used Set G (the 2" set) rather than Set H (the 3" set) for this design.  My finished piece will be smaller than Emily's but there was NO MATH INVOLVED -- that's one of the beauties of Marti's hexagon template families -- resizing is simple!
As a teacher and former shop owner, I typically make samples in a different color way than the book/pattern to help students see more possibilities and teach them to consider the merits of a design rather than just the color palette or fabrics used.
This pile of rejects from my Maker's Tote project was still laying on the floor
in my studio, so why not? 
That was easy!!
The large floral will be my background.
I appreciate Emily's clear diagrams which break her designs down into working units and made for a quick start on organizing my stitching!  This is the center unit (after a few fabric auditioning sessions) ready to stitch!  The most important aspect of using a different color palette while maintaining the original designer's concept is to mimic the contrast of values -- I simply reversed it -- lights for the background, darks for the sparkly bits.
Happily it worked quite nicely as you'll see!
I've dubbed the exciting y-seam piecing technique I teach
In my view, that says it all. 
I'll always be grateful that a student (Mary O'Keefe) shared her discovery with me during a workshop in April 2012. It started me on a journey that has produced a dozen amazing quilts and a half dozen workshops I love to teach!

If you've tried machine or hand piecing y-seams, you know that you have to "stop on the dot" to keep the end of the seam open so you can "set-in" a third piece.
It's fiddly work and not conducive to chain-piecing on the machine with all the stopping and starting.
Or so I thought.
Mary's idea changed all that as she discovered how to chain-piece through y-seams!
You just need to pivot at the dot!
So with the combination of Marti Michell's templates which make "dotting" easy and Mary's idea, I've been going to town ever since!
Here's the first phase -- stopping here would be a nice table-topper!
The book has quite a few interesting blocks and I'm looking forward to trying some of the others.
While working on this piece, I was able to keep the chain going easily as I built the units that Emily laid out in the book, working on six of them simultaneously.  Here I'm working through the units that fit around the center star.
Three "dot-to-dot" seams are needed to attach these two sections together and there are six sets, so using Mary's idea, I can chain-piece through all 18 seams efficiently in about 45 minutes.
Once those were built, I began to add them to the center star and build the corner units as my "leaders and enders" to keep the chain going. Those units were ready to add by the time the center of the piece was assembled. 
I find that leaving most of the pressing go until near the end makes the process easier.  It makes the final pressing a bit tedious but it's so easy to push an unpressed seam allowance to the side during the stitching process!
When I ran out of pieces to use as "leaders and enders" from the design, I worked on a mug rug for my studio -- the pattern is available from Emily for signing up for her newsletter!  I could have picked up one of the piecing UFO's laying around my studio for this purpose but it's always more fun to start a new project!!
I think I need something to replace the tissue that resides on the corner of my sewing table anyway!?!
All pieced, ready to finish later today! 
So back to Meteor Shower!
As is often the case when working out of my stash for projects, I ran out of fabric.
One yard of the background fabric wasn't quite enough and so you'll see in the finished piece, there are two extra little stars in the corners -- short just two hexagons -- but I think it works!
And since I was out of background fabric, I needed to chose a border fabric.
After much auditioning, I went with a teal as it really made the swirling center design pop!
The quilt is layered and there is a quilting idea in my head.
Maybe there will be a finished quilt in a few days.
My version made with Set G is about 36" square.
The design in Emily's book made with Set H is 54" square. 
I began cutting my version on July 12 so the time frame is good especially since it's summer here and I spend a good deal of everyday outside -- love that machine-piecing!!
So are you curious about this technique?
There are three ways to learn all the ins and outs of Set-In Piecing Simplified.
My favorite is taking one of my workshops but that's not practical for most of you.
The next best option is the DVD I produced a couple years -- it's a collection of all the workshop demonstrations.  It's 30 minutes long, divided into two parts, and available for $15.95 HERE.  That price includes shipping in the US.
Finally, I have just released a downloadable PDF with step by step instructions and photos to walk you through the process. It's available in my Etsy shop HERE!  The introductory price of $8 will be available through Saturday, August 12 after which time the price will be $10.

And now for the three giveaways!
C&T Publishing is providing a copy of the book, Adventures in Hexagons for one of my commenters -- they will send a hard copy to a US winner, or an electronic copy to an overseas winner. 
Marti Michell will send another lucky winner their choice of Set G or Set H.
And I'll send a third winner a copy of my DVD, Set-In Piecing Simplified!
Winners will be chosen on Saturday, August 5 at 9 p.m. EST.

Leave a comment below (one per person) and tell me how long you've been following my blog and how you really feel about y-seams!!
Love them? Hate them?
Good luck!!


Here's a complete list of all the participants in the tour in case you missed any of them:
( if links aren't active, copy and paste them)

July 24- C&T Publishing
July 25- Generation Q Magazine
July 27- Marti Michell
July 28-Clothworks Fabrics
July 29- Cathi Godwin,
July 30- Paper Pieces ,
August  1- Mary Huey,
August 2- Linda Franz,
August 3- Patty Murphy,
August 4- Cheryl Sleboda,
August 5- Wendy Sheppard,
August 6- Emily Breclaw,