Thursday, November 15, 2018

Join Me at a Blow Off Black Friday Sew-In

Number three is finished!!
Our weather today is "home-confining", so I plan to cut out (and maybe stitch up) number four.

I'm organizing a "sew-in" on Friday afternoon, 11/23, from 1 to 4 p.m. to make more of these baby isolette Plus quilts to donate to the Baptist Health Hospital NICU in Lexington, KY.  Being the nearest large city to Appalachia region of Eastern Kentucky where I learned to be an enthusiastic mission worker, I have a heart for the people of that region and an Instagram conversation with a nurse has led me to work out a plan for using the popular PLUS quilt idea to make a simple and charming small quilt.  

It's easy to cut (based on 5 1/2" squares), simple to piece (under an hour with only 4 seam intersections that need to match), and with simple modern style machine quilting and machine binding, the complete make is under 6 hours!!  

I'm inviting my local followers (Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga, and Ashtabula counties in Northeast Ohio) to dig out an assortment of quarter yards (12 to 14 prints) from your stash and join me for a friendly afternoon of piecing.  My  goal for each participant is to cut, piece, and layer a quilt (it's 35" by 40") to take home to machine quilt and send off to the nursing staff at the hospital during the coming month.  

Join me at Kirtland Library Community Room, 
9267 Chillicothe Rd. (Rt. 306), Kirtland, Ohio 44094.   

I have some kits available if you don't have enough in your stash, but pulling from your stash gives you a good color exercise and it is always feels good to use some of it up (as you know).  I'll also show you how to expand this quilt for larger sizes -- it's a great "show-off the fabric" project and if you are interested, at the end of the afternoon, I'll be prepared to do a demo how I do a 100% machine stitched binding.

Following is a supply list:

12 to 14 pieces of fabric (at least 6" by 35" in case you want to purge small bits) -- the quilt only uses 11, but as you know by now, more is easier and your extras might be the "perfect save" for someone else's project!! Pick out some from two color families or pick an assortment of lights, mediums, and darks -- I'll help you figure out placement!!
1 1/4 yard of fabric for backing
3/8 yard (12") of fabric for binding (might as well get that prepped while you are here!)
40" by 45" piece of cotton batting (it's okay to patch leftovers together -- I'll have fusible batting tape with me to help with that process) and 50 safety pins for basting the layers.
sewing machine and rotary cutting supplies (6" by 18" rotary ruler at least)

I'll have copies of the pattern for everyone and a couple ironing stations set up so you can leave that bag at home.  There will be light snacks and hot beverage makings.  
Please bring your travel mug as I won't provide throw away cups.

Finally, please press all your fabrics before coming so you can get a faster start!

If you have friends who might be interested, please share this invitation!  
Questions?  E-mail me at maryhueyquilts at hotmail dot com.

If you live too far away to make the commute -- you can download the instruction PDF from a link in the last two posts.  Then invite a friend to join you and sew along with us that afternoon -- post progress pics on Instagram with #shareaquilt #plusquilt and #quiltsforlexington


Monday, November 12, 2018

Why I Make Quilts to Share

I'm having fun this morning quilting another little plus quilt for my November #shareaquilt campaign.   George is helping on this one and we are making cascades of hearts raining down over the quilt.  It's such a quick and cute make that I've committed (outloud) to making one a week during November!
I've figured out that an hour or so for five days is all I need to complete one of these quilts so I'm feeling confident about reaching that goal.  As I've worked this morning, I've been thinking about why I do this.  My "way back" memory is a bit fuzzy but I can recall struggling with some guilt about having such an enjoyable career (owning a quilt shop and teaching quilt making) while participating in a long term Bible study group where several people were unhappy in their careers.  

I came through that personal struggle determined to use my skills as a quiltmaker to bless others.  As a result in the past 25 or so years, I've organized local events and groups to produce lots of quilts to share.  While I had the shop, I donated 500 yards of fabric annually to area quilt guilds to support their efforts to make quilts to share.  Since closing the shop, I've pushed and prodded a small dedicated group of friends to make 25 to 30 quilts annually that we give to three different groups in our area.  

Motivating a wider audience to participate in making isolette size quilts is a big step for me but the inspiration for the plus quilt came to me so quickly and so clearly that I have to believe I'm suppose to be doing it!  So, I hope you'll catch some of that desire to #shareaquilt and download the PDF for this simple make and share it with the NICU at Lexington, Kentucky's Baptist Health Hospital.
If the link doesn't work - just e-mail me and I'll send it -- maryhueyquilts at hotmail dot com)

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen a photo of an ugly stack of quilt blocks that were given to me.  My group has made a commitment to provide twin size quilts for a local transitional home.  We piece them, make the backing, and provide the batting for another friend who works them into her longarm schedule.  She called the other day to say she has one ready for us to bind so I set assembling this stack of blocks into a quilt top as my November One Monthly Goal so I could drop it off when I made the pick-up. 
I've had the blocks since March and a setting plan since June, so there wasn't much thinking to be done -- just some stitching!!

The setting plan is brilliant and a complete accident!
Wanna' see?
I decided the blocks needed to be sashed as the sizes were inconsistent and would need trimmed.
Using my Electric Quilt program to organize the plan, I had a lazy moment and instead of opening up a new file, used a layout for a plus quilt that was already up on the screen.
When I added sashing to the setting, this happened!!
(At this point, you can "role play" my reaction by "gasping".)
Of course, everything was dropped at once while I rushed to the living room (the only available empty flat space) and began to layout the blocks.  There were four blocks of each colorway.
Following the dark versus medium clues from the layout diagram, I organized the dark and light blocks to create the "arms" of the pluses and used the medium colors to fill in the centers of the pluses and the gaps around the outside edges.
I liked the green of my rug with the blocks (it's my main neutral these days) so cut the sashing from a pea-green solid with some raspberry scraps for the corner stones.
For a sashed setting, I usually add the sashing and cornerstones to every block so I can treat the complete unit as a block for the final assembly.  It also usually enables me to trim the unsashed edges to get uniformity without compromising the blocks too much.
I posted a tutorial several years ago of this approach HERE.
Last week, I worked for an hour every day, sashing the blocks and assembling the rows.
It was just as exciting to see the setting evolve on the studio floor as it was to see it pop up on my computer screen. 
Of course, I had to flap it across a bed to bask in the glow once the top was complete.
The big pluses are subtle and non-quilters might miss it altogether, but I love it!!
For the backing, I split a hunk of stripped fabric that was donated to our group and inserted a wide pieced band of color -- more donated fabric cut in odd sizes.
I've since handed the entire package -- top, backing, and batting -- off to our quilting partner.
The challenge of making these twin size quilts has been to produce "manly" color and fabric themes.  It's made me realize how "feminine" most of my quilt making tends to be.

So to #shareaquilt seems to be becoming my new purpose as I step away from teaching to keep me active as a quiltmaker. 
 I love using up the stuff. 
I love the challenges of transforming cast-offs into attractive quilts. 
 I love the machine quilting confidence I've gained as a result of finishing these projects. 
And then there's all the happy faces at the end of process!!

Why do you make quilts to share?


P.S.  Did you "gasp" when you saw that setting?  Feel free to copy the idea!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Up For a Little Challenge?

A month or so ago, an Instagram post of mine sparked a conversation with an NICU nurse, Jeri in Lexington, Kentucky.  When she shared that her unit cares for an average of 20 patients every month I was inspired to plot out three sizes of small quilts using the popular PLUS pattern.  Marsha and Mary Ann (charity quilting sidekicks) joined me in stitching each size up and we sent them off to Jeri for a test run to see which size would be perfect!
Now I invite you to join together in a campaign to stock up the staff at Lexington, Kentucky's Baptist Health Hospital with quilts for the NICU department by making one of these little cuties and sending it off to them during November as a gesture of thankfulness and encouragement!
It's an easy make -- my second one from start to finish took under 6 hours!?!
I've written a guide for the size (35" by 40") that works best and you can download that PDF by clicking HERE
(If the link doesn't work - just e-mail me and I'll send it -- maryhueyquilts at hotmail dot com)

The rest of this post takes you along with me last week as I made a second one.

First, choose fabric -- that's fun!!
I started with this cute owl print and pulled greens and browns from my stash.
The minimum needed for each print is 6" by 35" so a quarter yard works.
I use 11 prints but repeating a couple prints works, too so if you can only get to 9, that's fine.
I lay them out in a rough draft by following the numbered diagram in the PDF to see how they might work. Once this draft arrangement is pleasing, I number each fabric before I start cutting.
When you print out the PDF, you'll see that it specifies the initial placement of lights, mediums, and darks.  The arrangement is an easy starting point and as you will see, it is flexible as you work on the layout.
Be sure to label each print with it's number as you cut -- easy cutting -- it's all rectangles and squares!!
This might be a good project to invite a new stitcher or wanna-be-quilter to join along!!
I hope to get my granddaughter on board -- what a great Advent project for the two of us!!
Once everything is cut, I lay out the pieces according to the numbered diagram with the PDF.
You'll notice that there are six squares on the diagram with a "?" -- use the extra 5 1/2" squares to fill in those blanks after all the pluses are in position. 
Once the layout is complete, feel free to move fabric around -- notice below, that I shifted three of the lights prints around a bit for better contrast.   
Ready to stitch!
The rows are assembled horizontally and I suggest alternating the pressing of the seams -- to the right in the first row, to the left in the second row and so on.  There aren't many seam junctions, but this pressing strategy assures you of opposing seams when there is a junction.
With so few seam junctions, a beginner won't get discouraged.
The piecing takes about an hour to an hour and a half so if you are using the project to introduce someone to piecing, they will be encouraged by the fast results!
Top done and ready to layer!
I pinned every 5" and I wish all my quilts were this quick to layer -- 15 minutes!?!
I kept my quilting simple -- used a walking foot -- ditched and stitched a 5" grid.
Then added a set of 3 parallel lines through the center of each 5" square. 
It took longer to quilt the piece than it did to cut, layout, and stitch the top together. 
Marsha quilted her version with a diagonal grid.
And Mary Ann used a straight grid of wavy lines.
My second one is already in service locally with a young friend and her first child who was born prematurely.
My living room floor is littered with "kits" for twelve more quilts because I'm hoping to organize a couple "sew-ins" locally -- perhaps as a "blow-off black Friday" gesture?!?
So what do you say?
Will you join me and #shareaquilt in November?
Mailing instructions are included in the PDF and my goal is to motivate 25 of you give up a couple yards of fabric and a few hours to send Jeri and her co-workers a quilt before the winter holidays!

For my local peeps (Northeast Ohio), watch my Instagram feed - @hueymary - for updates on when and where I'll be cutting and stitching.

Or how about organizing a few of your stitching friends and do your own local gathering?
How about a winter reunion for your 4-H club?

Don't want to send them to Lexington -- I'm sure there is a NICU near your hometown that would welcome the attention, too!

The pattern guide is my holiday gift to you and I hope it inspires your own commitment to spread loving kindness.

If you have questions, just leave a comment here and be sure I can reply to you!!
Or message me via Instragram.
Thanks for anything you can do to make this idea work!!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

One Monthly Goal -- I Made It!!

I apologize for interrupting your regular Halloween night programming, but this big quilt just moved from the ancient UFO stacks to it's forever bed!!
I shared how I was finishing it in four sections HERE.  This morning I finished quilting the last bit down the center of the quilt where the two halves were joined together.
This afternoon, I took it along to my Wednesday stitching group to trim (no large empty surface at home!?!).
The binding was cut so I could get right to that when I got home! 
I love the way the back looks!!  I used Maderia Thread's 40 wt. AeroQuilt machine quilting thread in variegated teal/green/blue.   I am always pleased with the bobbin tension when I use this thread.
The quilt  was started by my oldest daughter about 15 years ago and I've been plodding along with it for the past 5 years.  I threw it out across her bed for a quick preview of how it will look in use. 
 It's good!!
She's not home from work yet, so I folded it up and left it on her bed as a surprise.
Now she'll have a new quilt to match her new house when she moves in later this year!! 
The pattern is my design -- Mississippi Mud -- you can order a PDF version in my Etsy shop right HERE!!

Ready to set a new goal for November!!

Don't eat too much candy this weekend!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tidying Up the Studio (disguised as Scrap Quilting)

Or should it be the other way around?  Scrap quilting disguised as "tidying up the studio".
Touching the fabric often leads to cutting up the fabric!!
 My box of reproductions looks a lot tamer and I've refreshed the 2 1/2" square basket and the 2 1/2" strip box (it's my studio's sourdough).
I also cutting pieces for these simple blocks which finish at 6" for another small charity quilt.
Corner squares are cut 2", center square is cut 3 1/2", and rectangles are cut 2" by 3 1/2".
It's a great little "leader and ender" project or just right for a quick fix of stitching without thinking!
I laid out some today with the plain alternate squares (cut 6 1/2") to make a plan for size and determine how much more of everything I need to cut.  
Pretty cute, huh?
And then this started to happen, too.
The idea comes from @lorrainequiltsallday on Instagram -- she's an Australian quilter who hosts a Facebook group called "English Paper Piecing Projects" HERE and the Instagram hashtag is #1797revisited .  The Facebook group is doing a sew along English paper piecing style.
The quilt is inspired by an antique quilt in the Victoria & Albert Museum in England.
It would be a great EPP project, but I still have a huge one going with another good size one in the queue.  Solution?  Machine piecing!!
   Lorraine started her version (which is lovely) by trimming 1/2" off each end of a 60 degree diamond paper.  (Templates and papers are beginning to pop up on the Facebook group at this point.)
 I'm using a larger diamond and starting with the 3" template H52 from Marti Michell.
Once I have a stack of diamonds cuts, I'm trimming them into the "coffin" shape.
(Notice that the points of these diamonds are trimmed off during the cutting process.)
I'm using the 60 degree line on a rotary ruler. 
By aligning the 60 degree angle line with the long edge of the diamond and the 3/4" grid line with the pre-trimmed end, trimming off 3/4" is simple and accurate. 
Yes, there's a bit of waste but a simple cutting process justifies it! 
Here is a stack of the coffin shapes after trimming.
Once I've transferred the "stop dots" onto the wrong side of each corner of the coffin pieces, I'm ready to stitch. 
I'm working on both projects at the same time -- there's a 9-patch laid out and ready to stitch.  The beginning of 1797 Revisited is under the needle.
Sew off the coffin onto the 9-patch. 
Then off the 9-patch onto the next coffin.  It's fun!
Back and forth, I love the rhythm of chain piecing.
Even though I'm no longer teaching face-to-face workshops, you can teach yourself the Set-In Piecing Simplified Technique by using my teaching guide -- available as a downloadable PDF in my Etsy shop -- MaryHueyQuilts HERE -- plug in the coupon code RETIRED through 10/31/18 for 25% off the price. 
I think the next round is going to be yellows and golds.
Be sure to check out Lorraine's feed on Instagram or head over to the Facebook group to see some versions that are farther along and lots of other interesting EPP projects.

Now I have to go cut up some more fabric!!