Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Here's my first entry for this year's Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side!
Click HERE to see all the entries -- so much inspiration!

The Lichen Tree is my favorite finish for 2017!!
This is the wall outside my studio where it is currently hanging.
I love how the color of the wall impacts the look of the quilt.
It's an original quilt (no, there won't be a pattern for it).
I love that it's so different from my typical style.
I love that I was able to translate a stalled old project into this updated art piece.
I love the blend of contemporary fabric with fabric from my (oldish) stash.
I love that it won a cash prize early in the summer!

I enjoyed experimenting with quilting as an integral part of the overall design.
 I'm not sure this scribbly section brings a patch of lichen on a tree trunk to anyone's mind, but I know what it means! 
The density of the quilting was unfamiliar territory for me. 
It's a lot more work but worth it in the end!! 
Using a facing for an edge finish created the most anxiety for me and while I'm happy with the result, I'm not so sure I'd do it again.  I'm very good at binding!!
Thanks for visiting and looking at my quilt!
Looking forward to meeting some more quilters through this year's festival!

Mary





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hexie Mania

In my Instagram world, English Paper Piecing and hexies are really hot right now. 
There are so many interesting new designs coming out and I know of at least four sew alongs that are centered on EPP and/or hexies. 
I certainly enjoy the process!  I'm a hand baster and find that stage of it quite soothing.  

However, I need to remain practical and not cave into any of the sew alongs right now.  I have two large unfinished hexie/EPP quilts in progress and starting another project would only take time away from each of them.  So I've held back and held back and held back.  

But when I saw the #100days100hexies2017 hashtag pop up in my Instagram feed, I decided to use the daily posts and prompts to motivate myself to produce the 1700 or so hexies I'm going to need to complete the setting I've organized for my Dodecagon blocks.
This is my working diagram (generated in Electric Quilt) and the tally sheet for how many hexies I need and how many I have finished basting.
I had a good start on the scrappy black ones, but still needed 236 -- that took 20 days.
Now I'm working on the yellow ones.
I'm going through hexie papers like they are M&M's!?!
So I was glad to come across this package of light weight cardstock in my office.
Not sure what weight it is, but it's light enough to work well.
Everyday, I punch another 20 papers from a sheet.
And I cut a stack of hexies -- 12 to 16 so they are ready for basting when the opportunity presents!
This weekend, I was able to finish 27 while serving as welcome hostess during a local event.
Don't you love hand stitching out in public?
It's such a great conversation starter -- everyone in curious and wants to know what I'm doing!
The rows of yellow hexies are growing.
(Apparently my blacks have a lot of blue in them since they always photograph navy?)
I'll tackle the green ones next.
And then the pink ones.
If I have stitching time once the day's hexies are basted (trying to do at least 10 a day),
I've started to add the black ones to the dodecagons -- I make two "chains" of hexies.
Once those are complete, I add them to the dodecagon.
Removing the dodecagon papers as I go makes it easier to manipulate the edges and keep them aligned. 
I'm pleased with the progress I'm making though I don't expect I'll get all the needed hexies basted by the end of the 100 days.  Most of the participants are doing a single hexie every day and using a lot of cute prints so it's fun to browse the hashtag once a day and see what's new!

If you are on Instagram, you can check it out by visiting @sewfoxymama or the hashtag #100hexies100days2017.

Mary






Friday, September 8, 2017

Steady Progress!

Sunflowers at last!!
We've had to beat off the rabbits and the deer, but we were finally able to harvest a small bouquet for the dining room table!!
Since finishing my Smorgasblocks Sampler last weekend, I've been focused on painting woodwork (boring but necessary) while listening to a new book on Hoopla -- Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge -- it's the plot from Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility set in modern times.
Harry (the indoor black cat) has been my companion.
This lump is Harry -- I did not realize that he was so fond of burrowing into the perfect napping spot?
My rewards for making painting progress have been slipping away to bird a nearby park (can't miss fall migration) or spending time in the studio working on assembling these two quilts for my grandchildren.
I decided on sashing these blocks with the background fabric to set each of them off.
I thought I would share how I handle sashing -- not sure why I started taking this approach?
Did someone teach me this? 
Mary Ellen Hopkins perhaps? 
Or one of my It's Okay teaching pals?
I add the sashing to blocks before doing any assembly of rows -- it makes for much less matching!
After being sure all the blocks are uniform in size, I add a plain sashing strip to one side of all the blocks in the quilt.  Doesn't matter which side, but must be the same for all the blocks.
Here I've added it to the right side.
I pressed the seams towards the sashing.
Then I add a cornerstone to one end of another batch of the sashing strips.
You can see one of the pineapple blocks at the back of the picture -- they are my current "sew-offs" as I need just three more blocks to finish another top.
I pressed these seams towards the sashing.
Those sashing/cornerstone pairs are now added to all the blocks -- once again, which edge doesn't matter except that it's the same side for all the blocks.
I pressed the seams for the  two outside vertical rows of blocks towards the sashing and the center row towards the blocks.
(The paper in the center of her forehead reminds me where she belongs in the layout.)
The final step to preparing the blocks is to add sashing and cornerstones around two of the outer edges.  One of them will have a cornerstone on each end.
For this layout, the left edge and the upper edge blocks will get one more pair so they are sashed on three sides.
The upper left corner is the only block that will be sashed on all four sides.
Here are all the blocks with sashing and cornerstones attached ready to be assembled into rows and the completed quilt top -- my task for this weekend!
The tops will be 44" by 58" and the verdict is still out on borders.  Borders will frame the tops nicely but may also make the quilts larger than I intended.
Auditioning will yield a verdict.

Harry emerged from his cocoon in time for supper but is back down for a long afternoon nap!
Perhaps we all need a bit of a nap this weekend!
Mary

The blocks are from Lorna's most recent sew along at sewfreshquilts.blogspot.com 


















Monday, September 4, 2017

A Finish -- Smorgasblocks Sampler!!

I love to cross items off a list -- don't you!!
Quilting my Smorgasblocks Sampler provided lots of good breaks this past week from the annoying task of sanding woodwork (now finished) and painting (75% finished).
Two years ago, I used Baptist Fan to quilt three scrappy quilts for my three children made with heirloom blocks from their great-grandmother.
I shared how I moved through the design in this POST.
This little tool set I shared a couple weeks ago inspired me to use that quilting pattern again!
These are Ruler Foot Echo Guide disks, made by the Sew Steady folks (they make those wonderful Dream Tables that fit on any sewing machine) to be used with the Westalee domestic machine ruler feet -- they slip around the presser foot so you can follow along a ruler edge 1/2", 3/4", or 1" away. 
Happily they fit on the new APQS George ruler follower presser foot, too!!
In my Baptist Fan post from 2014, I illustrate the stitching path I found easiest to use.
With one of these ruler foot echo guide disks, it was even easier!!
I used the 1" disk and echo stitched along the previous arc.
I love how smooth (most of) the arcs look.
No marking necessary!!
It took eight 45 minute work sessions to complete the quilting.
Ready to trim and bind!
This is my favorite block in the quilt!
I discovered I have an alarming quantity of the yellow print I used in it -- 4 yards in three cuts?!?
Apparently, I really loved it or was afraid of running out of it?
Perfect binding!!
I even remembered to sign the quilt as I finished up the quilting.
The finished quilt!
#4 on my third quarter list for the 2017 Finish-A-Long!!
(It's windy here today.)
It's easier to see the old-fashioned quality of the Baptist Fan quilting on the back!
Doesn't it look cozy?
That was so easy, I might just quilt everything I touch with Baptist Fan!?!
I'm planning to give this quilt to a special person (must not change my mind).
Next up for a date with my APQS George -- a baby quilt!
I'm thinking a smaller scale Baptist Fan using the 3/4" disc!!

Hope your September is off to a great start!!
Mary





















Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Productive Procrastination

Why does "procrastinating" always get such a bad rap?  
If you are productive in the midst of it, isn't that okay?
I'm suppose to be sanding woodwork and bead board wainscoting to prepare it for a new coat of pain.
Hate sanding!! 
Even with power equipment -- hate it!!
But I'm not wasting my time -- no!!
Not surfing Instagram, not gazing out into space.
I'm getting other things done!!

For example, I've started quilting one of the tops I layered earlier this month!
I've only made one pass across it but it went well and if I complete two passes a day, it will be ready to bind this weekend!
Excellent!!
I revitalized my sourdough starter!
It took two batches of pizza dough and a batch of pancakes, but it's better than it's ever been.
Turns out, I've been adding too much water during the feeding process.
I made two loaves of bread -- they didn't get very high, but the texture and flavor is perfect.
Next time it will be higher!
I've been working all weekend to finish the blocks for the two Advent quilts I'm making for my grandchildren.  The blocks were designed by Lorna at SewFreshQuilts and are part of the Jolly Little Christmas SewAlong.
Check it out HERE.
We are having unusual August weather here (read not hot), so I took the cutting tools and fabric out to the patio on Saturday and filled these file folders with everything needed to make the last few blocks.
I also sanded (for about 30 minutes) -- maybe if I break it down into little sessions?
I made the Christmas Lights blocks first -- easy piecing.
So cheerful!! 
Time for some more sanding!
Then the Wreath blocks.
The details Lorna works into the blocks fascinate me -- look at the right side and the under side of the ribbon. 
Must go sand!
The quilts will be similar but I'm customizing them a bit with the color choices but I've also made just one reindeer (for my granddaughter's quilt) and one moose (for my grandson).
With so many pieces, I find it helpful to sort everything before I start to sew.
A set of those alphabet letters to clip to each stack would be helpful but one would have to remember to look for them at my LQS. 
I also keep a ruler next to my sewing machine so I can check measurements -- yep, this one is too short -- grrrrrrrr. 
I like Lorna's instructions -- they include lots of diagrams to illustrate the words.
Aren't these antlers cute? 
Cute, yes.
Wrong, yes.
I puzzled for a couple minutes what was wrong -- pays to look carefully at the diagrams before stitching!
Now they are right! 
Here's the finished block!!
Just too cute!! 
Here are the twelve blocks on the design wall -- some rearranging will happen before the sashing is added and I might need to shop for border fabric but we'll see. 
I still have two more blocks to stitch together and half the sanding is finished.
Wanna bet where I'm headed now?

Mary

P.S. Oh, yes and I cleaned up the work bench in the basement -- well, I had to find all the stuff I needed to start the sanding in the first place??