Monday, January 14, 2019

January

I can't believe it's mid-January already!?!
I set a personal goal at the beginning of the month to "deal with 10 UFO's" -- that may or may not mean finishing of course!!

I have finished one pair of Christmas socks with a second pair moving in the right direction.
In an effort to transition from "plain" socks I grabbed several new "fancy" sock patterns during the #sockvent18 in December event on Instagram.  This charming Vanilla Spice pattern with the faux cable up the back of the leg caught my eye and is an easy knit.
The yarn is a hand-dye sock yarn from Barnyard Knits (another Instagram discovery!!) -- Stormy Skies is the colorway -- so perfect for Northeast Ohio where we survive much of the winter season under these gray threatening skies.
I found a hexagon machine piecing project with lots of finished units ready to set together so that is happening while listening to Barbara Kingsolver's newest book, Unsheltered.
Have you started that book?  It's a hard read/listen, but so relevant - so I'm persisting.
I'll share the finished flimsy very soon though it may not get quilted before month's end.

I just set one "published" goal for January -- to finish my rainbow Nundle Dilly Bag -- it's English paper pieced, incorporates all the hexies basted during #100hexies100days blast in the fall on Instagram.  It took me quite a while to organize a layout I like, but that's done and the stitching is progressing slowly.
So four UFO's dealt with and probably time this month for a few more though I'm not sure there's time/energy for six (unless it involves ditching them)?!?

I've also drawn up a list of questions/problems for my husband's family genealogy effort.
If you have caught that interest, you know what a time eater it can be!!
Last week, I took advantage of a sunny day to drive east to the county of his ancestors to search out cemeteries and answers at the library.

Hardly anyone in my family fought in the Civil War, but several of Doug's ancestors did and it's an honor to find the "veteran's star" in the cemetery and to stand where his family stood as they mourned a century ago.
One of my unsolved mysteries is the result of a family that lived in Pennsylvania but many of the documents I'm finding that pertain to them are from Ohio.  Finally, I found this map from 1870 that explains everything!
They lived in Pennsylvania, but just barely, and the nearest town was 1 mile to the west -- in Ohio.
Their farm is the second farm from the Ohio Pennsylvania border - P. Franklin, 50 acres.
Thank goodness, people save stuff like this and then share it to historical collections!!
Now I know how to proceed and hopefully, answers I want will appear.
Of course, I know myself very well so I did allow myself to start "just" one new project!
And limiting myself to ONE is so hard -- there are so many exciting possibilities for new projects in January, isn't there?

I settled on an English paper piecing "block of the month" designed and led by @lemonshark via Instagram and her website.  It's one block a month (two in January) and they are good size!
The patterns are free on her website and she has lots of useful EPP tips!
Each of my blocks will begin with a large print by Kaffe Fassett from my hoard.
Once I made all the fabric decisions, I cut everything and organized a tray to keep it all together.
 I added letters to label and identify the pieces including right side and left side pieces, before I cut the pattern sheets apart.  I labeled the overall drawing of the block to match -- that small step has saved so much mental energy!!
After thinking about the assembly order I decided on two units of four pieces as the simplest approach though as with many English paper piecing designs there is more than one way to do this.
Here are the last two finished units ready to set into the block.
Later today, I'll stitch them into place! 
The finished tile is 18" across from point to point and they will be appliqued onto a background.  I'm going to wait until I have three or four tiles finished as I think it will be easier to decide on the background squares size at that point.
The rest of my day will be stitching and knitting -- UFO's beware!!

Mary


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year's Stitching - My Fussy Cutting Sew Along Quilt Top!!

This summer, I showed you my design for this hexagonal center medallion quilt that would absorb the 52 hexie flowers I have been making as part of the #fussycuttingsewalong on Instagram.
That pair of pheasants in the center is one my favorite blocks from the weekly sewalong.
I have been admiring and collecting photos of hexagonal medallion quilts for several years. The growing stack of blocks inspired me to design my own medallion layout as their final resting place.
 I also realized that the stack of  twenty-some Morris Hexathon blocks from 2016 were the same size and could be blended in with the current blocks.
Yea!!!  Bigger quilt faster and one less UFO!!
I used the Set-In Piecing Simplified technique (downloadable PDF teaching guide available HERE in my Etsy Shop) to piece all the blocks and during the fall, this medallion center was my "sew-off" while I chain-pieced through the weekly blocks.
I broke it down into several units that could be "mass produced" and then added each to the central motif.
The setting fabric I selected builds a soft frame around the entire piece. 
I made it a bit larger than needed so I could trim to make it fit -- none of my "math" ideas were going to work so took the easy way!!
In the end, I trimmed 1/2" off each side for a perfect fit.  
Because I made sure that the outside edges of the medallion were straight of grain on all sides, there wasn't any stretching!!
Last week, I pieced the final hexie flower and finished piecing some "half flowers" for the ends of some of the rows.
For the past two days, I have been shut up in my studio setting everything together and it looks terrific!!  Since I've been adding white background diamonds to each hexie flower as I made them, it was easy to prepare them for setting with the simple addition of an equilateral (60 degree) triangle!
I used Marti Michell's Set G to cut all my hexagons for a finished 3" block.
That meant, cutting with the equilateral triangle ruler would yield the correct size setting triangles
I needed a few half-triangles (easy to cut with Marti's tool) and with two layers of fabric, wrong sides together, cutting "rights" and "lefts" was effortless.  Marti's tool features point trimming as you can see below and taking the time to make those trims set me up for easy and perfect matching! 
Most of the blocks have been on the design wall for weeks -- there has been lots of moving around and shifting to achieve a "spontaneous" balance.  The Morris Hexathon blocks didn't work (to my eye) just mixed in randomly so they are divided into diagonal rows in each corner.  There were also a few six-pointed stars from teaching demos that are positioned evenly around the central medallion.  All the hexie flower blocks were allowed to stay where I first plopped them unless there two very similar ones together - such as same color, same fussy cutting style, etc. 
 
All the hexagon blocks, except for those at the ends of the rows, were prepared by adding triangles. 
Each triangle has one straight of grain edge and I always keep that edge horizontal across a quilt.
If my block piecing is accurate, the triangle will match the corners of the hexagon block perfectly!!
Ready to piece a row!!
It goes fast as there are only straight seams from this point forward!!
Here's a trick I discovered a couple years ago to match angled seams when working with diamonds.
If you have consistent seam depth, when you layer the two units right sides together, match the end of the previous seam to the corner of the diamond.  
Here, I'm sliding the corner of the diamond (top layer) over to match the end of the seam on the lower layer.
 It's faster and much less frustrating than searching for the perfect spot with "pin poking". The intersection of the diagonal seams will be accurate 95% of the time -- no matter the actual depth of your seam allowance and I don't pin!!
Try it next time you do this!
To maintain straight seams only construction throughout the quilt top, I pieced the center of the quilt in sections rather than long rows.  Two of these large triangle units set on opposite sides of the center medallion were the key!
Once those were added to the center medallion, I made the left and right units by working in short rows.  
This is the result of two pleasant afternoons in the studio!!
I have left it in 3 sections at this point while I think about my quilting approach.
Do I machine quilt or hand quilt or some of both?
If I machine quilt, will I work in sections which is easier for me to manage and I'll do a better job. 
So for a few days, I'll enjoy this view from my machine while I fiddle with some neglected UFO.
The questions will answer themselves and I'd like to make this piece one of my 2019 finishes!!

If you have a question about my approach to setting this quilt together, please leave a comment below and I'll answer it in the comments so everyone learns from it, too!

So here's to a productive start to 2019!!
Another year, more fun!!
Mary












Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What Was I Thinking?

I'm sure you have those same thoughts occasionally -- especially at this time of the year!?!
A young friend who owns a quilt shop in this region just announced she is closing the shop for a couple weeks around the holidays -- my first thought was -- "how sensible she is for one so young!!"
December was always a slow month for my shop and so I gave the staff extra time off and spent my days doing my Christmas sewing while manning the shop.
I enjoyed the peace and quiet and it made it so much easier to keep all the gift stitching secret!
But the shop has been closed for 13 years now and I live alone, so why do I still adhere to the December stitching habit?

No clue but here is a quick tour!

There is the sock knitting frenzy -- this is a photo of the makings of five pair in various states.  There are actually three different socks started in this picture -- I'm a bit fearful that I've broken a long standing habit of "one knitting project at a time".
And there is one finished sock!!
My crazy mind breaks down finishing goals into "how much I need to do daily" to meet the mark!
My mark for this chaos is December 28 (my family's gathering) so I need to finish a sock every other day.
You sock knitters out there know how much focus this requires!!
But they are the only gifts I'm making this year and everything else is in place!
+
Then just to keep things stressful, I've set finishing this rainbow Nundle Dilly bag for my #onemonthlygoal project.  It's a fun make and uses most of the hexies I basted this fall during #100days100hexies on Instragram.  It was my intention to use the hexies for this bag from the beginning but the original layout has evolved into a rainbow project -- my first rainbow project!!
To have it finished, I need to assemble half of one of these panels each day!
And then there is this quilt -- hand quilting and binding by the end of the year is a goal for the 2018 Finish Along.  I have been making good progress now that all the "design" decisions have been made thanks to Jeanne Kimball's #50dayshandquilting group on Instagram. 
If I quilt two hoops fulls each day, I'll make it! 
The crazy part of these plans is that any one of them are more than enough to fill an already busy time of year . . . . but three???  
So I've spent the morning talking myself down off the ceiling.
The socks are the priority so they come first every day!
The other two -- not urgent and so I'll go at them with a more relaxed pace.  They are both so close to finished and have a momentum, so they will get there very soon.

What about you?
Are you trying to do too much this month?  If so, join me in dialing back and invest that energy and drive in your friends and family!

Mary


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Focused on Finishing

 This week, I'm focused on finishing some quilts! 
That's a good thing!!
As usual, there are deadlines involved -- what would we do without those?!?
I just wandered back through my posts to figure out when I pieced Jessie's Fierce Feathered Star.  I was part of her test team before she released the pattern late in 2016.
You can read my post about it HERE.
It was a great make -- I love the size of it -- 36" square!!
Recently, when a birding friend announced her retirement, I dove into my stash of quilt tops to see if I had anything that might be a good gift for her -- there it was!!  
The bird house print is so delightful -- especially since the birds in it are "true to life".
For some reason, that is very important to me?!?
And better yet, the backing and the binding were ready to go.
Layer and quilt!! 
I chose to do a Baptist Fan quilting design -- since I figured out how to travel through this design with hardly any threads to tie off,  it has been a regular "go-to" quilting solution for me!!
You can visit my post complete with diagrams about how to travel through the motifs HERE.
Since writing that post, I've discovered the Westalee Ruler Foot Echo Guide Disks which make it even easier -- I wrote about using those HERE.
I lost one of my machine quilting gloves this fall -- sure hope it's not stitched to the back of something?  So in a pinch, I grabbed a pair of my lightweight outdoor gloves.
Well, gloves are gloves . . . . . right???
Looks a bit odd, but my arthritic hands love being snuggly warm in them.
The only drawback is that all the stray threads and trimmings cling to them.
I trimmed the finished quilt up yesterday!!
Do you pitch your trimmings or keep them?
Inquiring minds want to know.
I have this predisposition to hoard bits "just in case" but as the era of "downsizing" looms in my future, I'm working to loosen up and let go.
I did keep some of this wad but only for the purpose of tying up downed tree branches and garden trimming for the trash man.
As I finish writing this, the quilt is drying on the rack in the basement.
We had our first snow of the season last night, so it's photo session on the laundry lines has a very pretty backdrop.
Now I'm focused on finishing up a few charity quilts for holiday give aways and my annual sock knitting frenzy is under way.  I've moved my knitting chair to the back windows of the house so I can enjoy this crew who have been flocking to my feeders for the past two weeks -- pine siskins!!
They are a more northern finch that is not common here every year -- the strippy ones in this picture (upper right and lower left birds) co-feeding with the local plainer goldfinches.
Very exciting even though they are burning through finch mix like power vacuums!!
If you are looking for the Fierce Feathered Star pattern, it's a PDF download which you can buy the designer, HERE.  It includes both the 36" star that I made and a 20" star!
Jessie at Threaded Quilting Studio

This finish brings me halfway to my fourth quarter goals for the 2018 Finish Along!!
Yea!!

Mary



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Fun Make!

This Friday when I head over the the Kirtland Library's Community Room for the Blow-off Black Friday Stitching event I've organized, this fun #undercovermakermat will be going along!
I'm a fan of @lillyellasworld on Instagram and this is one of her free patterns.
During November, she has been hosting a "sew-along" on Instagram to make this and what fun I've had pulling it together.  I simplified it using only one pieced unit (the wonky bird) for the front pocket panel, but  her original version includes a paper pieced butterfly and selvedge pockets!

My color inspiration came from that fragment of Laurel Burch dogs and cats (second from the left).
That is literally all I have of it and rather than toss it into the scrap bag, I used it!!
Then of course, lots of bird stuff happened.  There's that wonky bird again
The black and white bird print wasn't quite enough for the width needed, so I used my new Small Flying Geese tool from Marti Michell to add a row of flying geese.
One of the benefits of cutting pieces with a template is that everything is the same size to begin and I never, ever, never have to trim triangles.
I know lots of you trim triangle units to "the perfect size" but I would have quit piecing a long time ago if that was necessary to get good results. 
The more 1/4" seams one stitches, the more accurate one becomes at it.
Truth!!
No points were harmed in the construction of this flock of geese!! 
It was fun to comb through my box of trims, looking for just the right touches.
Bonus -- I tidied the box up and culled a few things I'll never use at the same time!!
This six inch long piece of hand-loomed trim from South America has been malingering in that box for too long but I could never throw it away. 
Now it is a needle cushion on the front of one of the pocket sections -- since this will be a traveling mat, having a place to stick a self-threading needle for tie-offs is perfect!
And the green half pocket is just right for carrying along a few Clover clips!
I have a stash of machine quilting threads that my APQS George doesn't prefer. . . . . 
but since I did the quilting with the walking foot on my Bernina 1031, I got to use a happy multi-color thread!
The multi-color stripe is perfect for the binding and check out that ABC ribbon I used for the pocket divisions -- left over from when my kids were littles -- long time!
Since my "go-to" machine lives in a cabinet, the mat will be my travel companion.
It will keep all the most important supplies at my fingertips while creating a cheerful habitat when I'm away from my studio! 
The best part of this make (aside from the ease of construction) was the opportunity to let the fabric combination evolve as I went along -- being spontaneous is such a burst of joy!

If you live in Northeast Ohio and hate black Friday, think about joining us at the sew-in!
All the details of where and what to bring are in my post from last week -- just keep scrolling down.
And if you live too far away, grab a friend and have your own sew-in.
The pattern is a free download PDF -- if you haven't already grabbed it, here's the link again!
(If you can't get it to download and print, send me an e-mail -- maryhueyquilts at hotmail dot com -- and I'll send it directly to you).
Heck, grab the kids and get them involved!
It's an easy make and it will be appreciated by young parents in a difficult situation!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, even if you aren't eating turkey Thursday!

Mary

If you don't follow Nicole at @lillyellasworld -- you should!!
There's a new charm size set of moth blocks coming this Friday!!