Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Productivity Follows Inspiration

After my post yesterday about my visits to preview parties, HQ clubs, stores, and guild quilt shows, I spent the weekend and early part of this week being productive. My projects were not major ones, but I got a real sense of accomplishment at completing them while still making progress on my longer term goals.

First up was an apron panel I bought at the Country Store of the show of the Guild of Quilters of Contra Costa County. I think this may be the shortest residence time of any item in my stash - bought one day and sewn the next. I checked out the selvage and this fabric dates back to 2001. I wish the woman who donated it to her guild's show could see that it was put to good use after sitting in her stash for fourteen years or so.

The fabric is a loose weave, somewhat course, like a good linen dish towel. I am guessing it will be cool to wear and soften beautifully in the wash.

The front pocket is a really cute can of soup that is pattern-matched to disappear into the front of the apron. I am glad I took the time to change thread color from cream to red at the top corners to promote the camouflage effect. Look closely. There really is a pocket on there.

Here is the finished apron. Perhaps the woman who donated it will read my blog and feel pleased that her guild is $5 richer, that it was sold to such a grateful quilter, and that it did not linger in someone else's stash for another 1½ decades.

I also made up two grey whale burp cloths from some whale flannel I recently bought  and some striped flannel bought this week at the Cotton Patch specifically to go with it. As usual I made them up as a complementary pair, swapping the fabrics used on the back and edges. 

I really liked this stripe because it has the bright orange, turquoise, and blue I associate with Caribbean happiness, yet it has the perfect grey to go with the whales. I was having difficulty pairing something whimsical with the grey of the whales. Finding the right grey is not as easy as one would think.

My favorite accomplishment of the week was assembling not one, but two, tops for strip quilt kits that had been sitting in my stash for years. One of my 2015 goals is to reduce the quantity of pre-purchased kits in my stash accumulated from impulse bargain overbuying. Once I was on a roll and established a sewing and ironing rhythm, these went together like a dream in one evening and part of the next morning.

I may have overbought but I still think these fabrics are incredible playful and appealing. I am glad I did not refrain from buying these kits. I mean, who could resist the wide-open eyes on these barnyard buddies? The fabric line is Barnyard II by Blank Quilting circa 2009. Each strip is different and features cows, sheep, pigs, horses, or a combination of them plus this pastoral scene I show in the next photo.

By comparison, these next wild critters may seem somewhat shy and retiring scattered about in their soft color scheme, a far cry from the bold statement of the previous domestic animals. The manufacturer is Riley Blake and the designer is Doohikey Designs circa 2012. I do not know if there is an environment where hippos, owls, frogs, hedgehogs, toucans, and other bird species co-exist with mushrooms, stars, and trees printed with polka dots, stripes, and other graphics, but it sure would be an imaginative world to live in.

I am looking forward to practicing my FMQ on these two strip quilt tops with my HQ16. The top assemblies were super speedy. The strip widths were pre-cut, the sequence was pre-ordained and I elected not to tweak and vary anything, just press forward efficiently. My time invested in piecing was minimal so I welcome the opportunity to be experimental in my FMQ efforts. I fully intended to do some curvy continuous motion free-form pattern as a break from the strict straight line ruler work of my Simple Gifts quilt. I am going to try very, very, hard to avoid the temptation of quilting around every little, itty-bitty animal or leaf!

Even with these small projects, I continued to plug away and make progress on Simple Gifts. There are thirty blocks configured in six columns of five each. Two left columns have a lime green background, two middle columns have a red background, and two right columns have an aqua background. I am using green thread and started out on the two left columns where the thread matches. The two green columns are now complete. As I improve, I am moving on to the columns where the green thread will contrast. Here is a red block. My straight lines are not perfect but they are getting better. But this ruler work is s-l-o-o-o-w going.

When my bobbin ran out and I had to change it, I oiled the machine. After that, I quilted on a practice sandwich to make sure there was no excess oil and that I had rethreaded properly. Sheesh! What a relief and joy to swish that sandwich around in an unfettered, sweeping manner after meticulously slaving away on all that stitch in the ditch and parallel straight line work I have been carefully carving away at! I am pleased with my HQ16 purchase. It is luxury to be able take a break by switching back and forth between FMQing and piecing without fussing with a bunch of tension settings and dropping and raising feed dogs. I am happy I am the proud owner of both a sit-down long arm and my domestic Pfaff.

I am hooking up to see what are the works in progress of others this week at Freshly Pieced.


  1. Cute apron! (I would wear that one all the time!) I do like the strip quilts - very nice. I might try that, I have a bit of fabric that needs to be used up.

    1. Since the strip quilts were kits, they worked up super fast. But it is a good option for those large scale prints as well. And you said you had just a bit of fabric? My, what self control...! :•) Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. The Campbell's fabric is perfect for the apron, like it was meant to be. You've had a wonderfully productive time sewing!

  3. I am really starting to love projects you can do in a day - and what an adorable burp cloth! I'm hoping i know who it's going to ;-) And those strip quilt kits are both darling - I know where you bought them, and we'll have to hit that source again this weekend!

    1. We sure did hit that source when I was visiting! Enjoyed every minute of it.