Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIP Re-learning Paper Piecing ... Again

I decided I wanted to be a part of the paper pieced block of the month at Quiet Play since it has a cute sewing theme.  Also, since Kristy revealed all the blocks for 2013 at the outset, I knew what was coming and could decide if I was interested enough to participate.  That is one of the drawbacks of mystery BOMs.  I have so many quilts I want to do, I am hesitant to commit my time to something I might just be lukewarm about. The first block was titled "Measure Twice" (and assumes you "Cut Once") and here is her sample with the cute little tape measure inching its way up to the right. I was excited to practice  and re-learn my paper piecing and also create a little something for my sewing room. 

I say re-learning paper piecing because I have had a class (or two) and watched tutorials and done it successfully several times.  Yet I do it so seldomly that every time I try, I feel like I am starting all over again!  Today was no exception.  I put my first two fabric pieces face to face on the back side of my printed paper and stitched my first seam.  It took me close to 45 minutes to convince myself that doing so was the correct first step.  By contrast, it took me less than 10 seconds to sew the inch and a half long seam.  OK, now I have a fuzzy memory that the next step after sewing the seam is to fold the paper back and trim to a non-critical seam allowance. Since the size of the seam allowance does not matter, a quick snip of the scissors is perfectly adequate. Still I am pretty weird about the hidden parts of my quilts and so I whip out my Add-a-Quarter ruler designed for the task so that my never-to-be-seen seam allowances can all be 1/4 inch.  Amazingly enough I knew just where my specialty ruler was.  That was not a hurdle.

I smoothed my just-begun block out on the cutting mat and concentrated very hard on placing that Add-a-Quarter ruler just so.  One quick swipe of the rotary cutter – zip! So intent was I on that one stroke that I ran that rotary cutter right over my left index finger.  No I did not slip with the cutter.  I just stupidly had placed my finger hanging over the edge of the ruler in the path of the cutter.  Didn't hurt but, gosh darn the blood kept flowing. I sucked on my finger. I applied pressure. I wiped. I sucked more. The only intelligent thing I did NOT do was go get a Band-Aid.  I wanted to get the next piece of fabric added.  So I alternately sucked, squeezed, wiped, and sewed.  It is unfortunate that when guiding the fabric under the pressure of my sewing machine, the finger I use the most is ... you guessed it ... my left index finger.  I have learned another unsung benefit of paper piecing.  Since you sew on the wrong side where the paper is, the little Dracula-enticing drops of blood go on the paper and not the block!  Despite the obstacle of this minor medical emergency here is my block.

I did fussy cut the uppermost animal print fabric and tried to align the tape measure tip along the striped fabric I used.  The black stripe at the very edge of the tip did not fall quite where I wanted it to and was slightly off from being at right angles, so I do not think it shows up as well as it could.  It was the first seam, whose trimming shall live in infamy. The markings for the tape measure are not on there yet so maybe, when I make those markings on the yellow mini-check, I will widen the black stripes of the tip of the tape measure so they are more defined and at a more of a right angle.  This block may have been cut only once, but that cut was a doozy. I am using this for my WIP post this week since technically it is not quite complete.  Hopefully I will put the markings on the yellow tape measure tomorrow and meet my January 31 deadline for the And Sew On... BOM.  Then I will post its picture to

Completed projects:  
  1. None
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Color Play of the Day quilt -  got it assembled this week, awaiting backing
  2. Doll quilt - awaiting binding
  3. Grinch quilt - on design wall for assembly and creative sashing solution
  4. Christmas stuffed ornaments
  5. Scarecrow
New projects:  
  1. This paper pieced block
Stats since last WIP post 1/23/13:
     Completed  projects - 0
     New projects - 1 
     Currently in progress - 5

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIP- Finding Works NOT in Progress

I decided to use a lettuce green batik to back my  Color Play of the Day quilt, the ongoing topic of my last several posts.  I also decided on the arrangement for the assembly and will show that, once I have joined the blocks. The adventure of searching through my stash for that backing fabric uncovered several small projects that I intend to finish, a Scarecrow and some Christmas Ornaments.  However, searching through my stash, turned up another work NOT in progress, that maybe never will be.

I unearthed a Halloween wall hanging size quilt that I had started, then buried because I did not like my fabric selections. There is something to be said for having the discipline to finish  projects you just got distracted from.  There is also something to be said for having the courage and decisiveness to realize you really do not like something as much as you once did, and acknowledge you really do not want to finish it.  It is kind of like deciding not to throw good money after bad. Here is the pattern I fell in love with (at some point in the past) but I selected the wrong blues.

Well, how do I recover?  I like the pumpkins' bright orange and royal blue.  

Cute as the cat and witch are in the pattern, they are a lost cause in my creation of them.  The intense blues I picked were too dark to contrast with the blacks.  I also picked blacks with too much of a white distracting pattern in them.

I think I will ditch the witch, scat the cat, and banish the bats. I was never a fan of flying rodents, anyway.  Question is, can I salvage the pumpkins as pillows or as a wall hanging of three pumpkins?  Should I save them as blocks in another quilt?  Do I have the guts to just toss them, along with all those blue and black squares I so tediously cut?  Do I donate the project to a guild or is this handing my problem off to some unsuspecting guild member? I also cannot believe I wanted to do all those adjacent itty bitty squares of the "same" color.  Do I want to inflict that on another quilter and lose her as a friend? How do you folks out there deal with your fiascos?

Happily, I also found a UFO that I do like.  Here is my quilt top assembly from the pattern Earth Wind and Fire by Linda Ballard. I deviated from her earth tones in favor of jewel tones and pastels.

I took a class in this pattern from Linda Ballard, mainly for her techniques. The pattern, beautiful in its simplicity, is a combination of the classic Log Cabin and Ohio Star.  She introduced me to the Precision Trimmer 6 which I highly recommend for squaring up the four square, hourglass, and flying geese blocks.  Even though it seems like you are trimming off just whiskers, it really makes block assembly a breeze and seams meet exactly at all the junctions. I now have renewed enthusiasm to finish this one off with backing, quilting, and binding.

By the way, this was the top that I initially bought that extra wide pale batik for and then rejected. I rejected that pale batik for Color Play of the Day, too. I wonder, will I ever use that fabric?

Completed projects:  
  1. Does a project count as complete if you decide to discontinue it?
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Color Play of the Day quilt - awaiting top assembly
  2. Doll quilt - awaiting binding
  3. Grinch quilt - on design wall for assembly and creative sashing solution
  4. Christmas stuffed ornaments
  5. Scarecrow
New projects:  
  1. None
Stats since last WIP 1/16/13:
     Completed  projects - maybe 1?
     New projects - 0 
     Currently in progress - 5

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Found My Backing... and Other "Stuff" as Well

On my most recent post I was frustrated with my inability to locate some extra wide batik yardage I knew I had because I thought I might use it on my churndash-ish Color Play of the Day quilt.  I found that backing yesterday, only to decide it would not work.  It was a pastel. It was as pale as I remembered and thought I'd wanted. But it has streaks of brown running through it that I think do not go at all with the quilt top.

I did however, find this bright, mint green batik that I like and is the right tonality. I think I will use it instead of piecing those blended stripes I was considering. One decision made! There may even be enough for a narrow binding.

There are distractions in searching through your stash, though. In digging around I found a bin labeled "To Stuff and Finish".  It contained small, seasonally oriented projects.  They may be a bit dated, but they will be great for those little snatched bits of time in the evening when I do not want to sling around a full size pieced top to back, quilt, or bind it.

I found an in-progress scarecrow wall hanging or door decoration.  My home is no longer decorated in country of the calico style, but this still might be cute to display in the fall or perhaps give away.  His main body has been stuffed and his slouchy hat like Clem Kadiddlehopper (remember that character?) has been completed.

All I need to do is attach all his accompaniments –  leaves, pumpkin, and crows.  They have already been layered with batting and completed with stitch detail.

In the same bin were some Christmas ornaments that had been sew, turned  and waiting to be stuffed. They made me reminisce on Christmases of the past.

Years ago ornaments like these used to come as fabric panels with six to eight ornaments (both sides) per panel.  I would sew them and turn them, and then my older two kids (now both around 30 years old) would help me stuff them.  Believe it or not, I have two huge storage bins of these things. I think we counted close to 200 of them once, with themes of angels, kitties, puppies, penguins, mice, Santas, soldiers, children of the world, wreaths, stockings, Strawberry shortcake, snowmen, etc. Some of those we made long ago are shown on our 2010 Christmas tree. 

I also strung tension rods with these stuffies to suspend them in windows on the first floor of our house and in the hallways and bathrooms.  I do not know if they print fabric panels like these any more, now. For a while the fabric stores did not carry them when I looked. I found this old link on e-Bay for ones just like those on the tree.

It will be like a drop in the bucket to make more, but doing so will be fun anyway, so I will finish the seven I just found.  In the same bin with the ornaments awaiting stuffing were three panels of 14 ornaments each, (yes, 42!) still not cut out, that I must have bought (probably on a post-Christmas sale) and socked away.  You know, I just might hold on to these for a few years and make them with my granddaughter or have her make them with her mom.

One thing I did not find when looking for that wide batik backing was my extra width green polka dot backing bought for my Grinch quilt in progress.  I guess I didn't store all my extra widths together, after all. Oh, well, I still have almost a year to find that.  I am setting myself a goal of finishing the Grinch quilt for my husband, an avid Grinch fan, by next Christmas.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WIP Auditioning for Backings

It's 5:30 AM here and I have given up on going back to sleep.  My mind is churning with ideas for backing my quilt and I wanted to capture them so I came downstairs to blog. A minor inconvenience is that when I took my robe off the hook to put it on, I dipped one end of the tie in the cat's water dish. I squeezed it in a towel but I am still sitting here in a chilly room where the heat has not yet kicked in from the night setting on the thermostat trying to avoid that soggy end. Anyway, that is enough scene setting.

First, "How much fabric do I need?".  My Dash-in-the Box pattern quilt is 5 blocks by 6 blocks. I have just shown one of them here. They come in many colors. See my past post on this quilt.

For 10" blocks,  I need a backing 50" x 60" plus margins. I fall short of a typical width fabric. I know I have a pale sort of pink extra wide batik fabric that I bought special for a queen size quilt and then decided I did not like it for the intended quilt. (Note to self... future post on this yet unfinished quilt.) I thought this extra wide batik would go with this 50" x 60" quilt top but I cannot find it to audition it and decide. (I also bought an extra width green polka dot for backing my Grinch quilt and cannot find that either.)  Obviously I cannot remember where I stored my extra width fabric.  They are rather bulky when folded so I had to have stuffed them somewhere. Grrr.

So, OK, if I do not use extra wide fabric that I cannot locate, I fall short of the typical fabric width and have to seam.  Therefore I need at least twice the shorter width or 100 inches.  Surely I must have a length of fabric 3+ yards long in my stash.  The Cotton Patch, my quasi-local (~ 1/2 hour away) quilt shop, always has sale bins of pre-cut lengths of fabric at really cut prices, pre-bagged in extra-length gallon-size Zip locks.  Usually these lengths are 3 yards or more end-of-the-bolt kind of deals. I cannot resist these and snatch up the more unique and pretty ones, often with a larger scale print, that I reason are suitable "for backing". Since my quilt front has the mottled look of a batik, I wanted a fabric that did not have a crisp print.

This rainbow fabric has many colors and I have 4 yards of it but it is too crisp a print in my opinion.

I have 6 yards of this kind of speckled multicolor fabric.  It is a less crisp print, but I think it is still a bit too harsh. Also it is not a batik and I think putting it on the back portrays it as a batik wanna-be.

I found I have 5 and 2/3 yards of this aqua fabric that has a kind of water color look to it.  I am not sure I want something quite so uni-color, although it is a contender.

I have 3 and 1/4 yards of this batik with hearts on it. This is barely enough so I will not be able to match the seam, which I try to do on all my quilt backs.

The heart batik was originally purchased – at a non-sale price, gulp – from my in-town quilt shop as a potential backing for my granddaughter's  Little Witch Girl quilt but I liked this whimsical owl backing for that quilt much better.

Then I thought, "What if I back it with a muted strip or muted polka dot?" I came across in my stash 2 yards each of these blended stripes. I had intended to use this fabric to design some kind of quilt that just cleverly rotated the strip directions or chevroned  the stripes in the blocks, but thus far that cleverness has eluded me. Maybe I can use all four and piece a back of four or eight sections.  This would repeat the lines of the churn dash blocks on the front, especially if I rotate them. This approach also does not use up all collective 8 yards of this fabric and I could still use the rest of it in the future.  I think this idea has the most merit thus far. Of course, it is like making a second quilt for the back.

Some weeks are sewing weeks and some weeks are thinking weeks. I thought a lot this week (and hunted a lot this week), but I guess that is all part of the creative process. I plan to decide positions and assemble the blocks this coming week.  Monday is a holiday so I should have more time. Dang, it is hard being back at work. I got a lot more sewing done while recuperating from surgery! But now, for my work in progress stats...

Completed projects:  
  1. Actually none, zippo, nada
Ongoing projects:  
  1. This post's multicolored Churn-Dashish quilt
  2. Doll quilt - awaiting binding and a missed goal for last week
  3. Grinch quilt - on design wall for assembly and creative sashing solution
New projects:  
  1. Actually none, zippo, nada
Stats since last WIP 1/9/13:
     Completed  projects - 0
     New projects - 0 
     Currently in progress - 3, listing others does not mean they are in progress! 
     Those in closet - many enumerated in earlier posts and not repeated here

click here for
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2012 in Review

All right. I will jump on the 2012 year in review bandwagon since my daughter has encouraged me to do so. I will probably be glad a year from now when I look back. All of the quilts are wall hanging or crib size. The Halloween and Tool quilts were started in 2011 but completed in 2012 after I turned them over to be quilted by Mary Ann. I also need to give Mary Ann credit for the quilting on the pink/lilac heartstrings quilt. The other three I quilted after conquering my FMQ fear. The projects that I started in 2012 but have not yet completed are not listed here, so I guess the count will all work out in the end.  I started listing the month completed and the recipient, but decided that was too much work.  So here is my completions list for 2012, followed by pictures and headings only. Details are in my past posts. Scroll fast! If nothing else, it's a nice browse of fabrics and yarns ...
  • 6 quilts
  • 3 knitted hats
  • 1 knitted scarf
  • 7 pair of knitted socks
  • 1 crocheted hat
  • 1 crocheted blanket
  • 1 crocheted cardigan and cap set
  • 3 pillow cases
  • 2 cloth books
  • ~34 burp cloths