Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My DL2Q Blog Books – Volumes 6, 7, and 8

My Volume 8 blog book for DianeLoves2Quilt arrived the day before yesterday. I am always excited when these show up in the mail. So far they have always come earlier than the promised date. When I went to publish a post about Volume 8, I realized I had missed writing about my previous two blog books, Volumes 6 and Volume 7. Combined in this post is a look at the Covers, Dedications, and Tables of Contents of these three volumes. Capturing my blogging efforts in books like these gives me a satisfying sense of accomplishment for both my crafting and my writing projects. I intentionally do not select uniform covers in case the publisher discontinues whatever I happened to choose. Besides, I love the array of colors as the volumes sit next to each other on my shelf.

Volume 6:  Jul 1, 2015 - Dec 31, 2015

My grandson Isaiah's quilt, Bugs 'R Us, is on the front cover and its post was dated 7/15/15. The count for the knitted vintage Christmas stockings hit double figures and those ten are shown on the back cover. A post about them is dated 12/28/15. I created this book in May 2016.

The Dedication for Volume 6 reads

The second half of 2015 saw the arrival of Isaiah on July 16, 2015. With three grandkids, many projects are baby-centric; but there are some home decor projects, knitted items, and even one ribbon-winning quilt. Another family addition (to my sewing room) was a refurbished 1952 Singer Featherweight sewing machine.
– Diane I. Chambers

Here is the Table of Contents for Volume 6

Volume 7: Jan 1, 2016 - Aug10, 2016
My third granddaughter Lillian's quilt, Nestling Owls, is displayed on the front cover. The post for its completion was dated 5/11/16. My blog entry for Overlapping Squares, the quilt on the back cover, was posted 6/8/16, and was my focus on ruler work to quilt the circles with my sit down longarm. I created this book in December of 2016.

The Dedication for Volume 7 reads

My fourth grandchild, Lillian was born May 11, 2016. Hers is the cover quilt. Volume 7 contains a variety of kids' projects, many knitted or crocheted besides sewn. This volume also features my growth in bravery with free motion quilting using my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.
– Diane I. Chambers

Here is the Table of Contents for Volume 7

Volume 8: Aug 11, 2016 -May 30, 2017

My blog entry for the front cover photo of our master bedroom was posted 12/21/16. My blog entry for the dolls on the back cover was posted 5/20/17. I generated this book in June 2017.

The Dedication for Volume 8 reads

In DL2Q Volume 8 you will find curtains & cushions for our master bedroom redecorating, dolls & pillows for the kids & grandkids, plus burp cloths for babies of friends. Progress on a challenging hexagonal quilt is here, plus purchases & winnings from craft & quilt shows. A bit of knitting & crocheting is tucked in, too.
– Diane I. Chambers

Here is the Table of Contents for Volume 8


The online company I use is Blog2Print and I have been happy with their product. In my post for 4/17/13 I recorded some tips I adhere to when I go through the process of creating these books. One of these tips is to supply enough information in links that they can be looked up since they cannot be "clicked" in the paper copy. Some idiosyncrasies with captions I encountered are addressed in the Volume 3 and 4 post dated 03/18/2015. Also I wait for a sale to order, often as much as 30% off. This month of June 2017 was particularly worthwhile for large books – $.25 off for each additional page.

Links to my previous volumes can be found at
       DL2Q Volume 5       posted  12/16/2015
       DL2Q Volume 4       posted  03/18/2015
       DL2Q Volume 3       posted  03/18/2015
       DL2Q Volume 2       posted  04/14/2014
       DL2Q Volume 1       posted  04/17/2013

I am sharing this post with my online friends at Let's Bee Social #183

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Just for Fun Outings

Sandy Klop, designer of American Jane fabrics and patterns holds an open house quarterly at her home in Walnut Creek, California. I have been to her February 2017, August 2016, and June 2016 events, each time showing up with a different friend. Sandy this time called me an ambassador for American Jane. Since I have used up only a small portion of my purchases there from those previous visits, I was determined refrain from buying any more kits and to acquire only fabric with a specific purpose. I was pretty successful. My friend Renée who accompanied me this visit did not show as much restraint; however, I was very happy to shop vicariously through her!

My previous DL2Q post was about a spur of the moment quilt top I whipped together from a Moda Storybook charm pack in coral, aqua, taupe, and yellow. I needed backing fabric. Pinks are hard to match and so are blues so I thought a backing out of yellow would be the easiest. I found this cute fabric which is really four in one. I thought it would add interest if I ran it crosswise and used three of the four bands, eliminating the heaviest darkest one. I needed to back a 54" x 54" top and so calculated I needed twice the width, 108". I bought 3¼ yards crossing my fingers it would go with the yellow of the Storybook fabric.

I had some fabric swatches with me but only in the taupe, coral and aqua, none in yellow. This meant I had only cell phone pictures to go on - not a wise approach, I know. They are shown them in the next picture. I knew that banded print was not the true lemon yellow of the upper left corner of the nine-patch. It had more of a gold tone but I hoped it might read like the yellow chickadees on the taupe background in the lower right of the nine-patch. I would need to wait until I returned home and could see the top and backing together to be sure.

Once home, when I saw them together for real, the blend was not as pleasing as I had hoped. Bummer. At least I was very fortunate that those 3¼ yards were of a fabric in 4 bands. I now had about a ¾ yard of each of four different yellows to pad my stash. I could easily incorporate them in quilt blocks since each was a fairly workable mini-print type blender. Those 3¼ yard strips of the alphabet were a nice bonus for accent stripes or narrow sashings. Also ¾ yard is just enough for a binding. That is my recovery plan and I am sticking to it.

I also picked up a packet of one dozen jelly roll width strips at the American Jane open house. I like that Sandy Klop repackages her strips in quantities less than a jelly roll and in a self-consistent color palette. It makes them much more useful. I think the previous time I was at her quarterly open house (in February 2017) I bought a similar packet also in oranges. The strips are originally intended to go into a paper-pieced mandala like I'd made once before and liked. This second packet will allow me to double up on some of the prints I like and substitute out a few that are cute but sort of seem to stick out. The zippers and multi-colored pezzies can be grouped by themselves for example. I had checked out at the register and was feeling pretty proud of myself that I had limited my purchases. Then a tote bag pattern caught my eye and I added it to the mix. I may or may not use the multi-colored strips omitted from the mandala to make this carryall, but the pattern looked easy enough and very scrap friendly.

After leaving the open house, my friend and I went about 15 minutes south to stop at Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville. I was browsing the 50% off sale rack and POW – I spotted it – the perfect backing fabric. I did have some fabric scraps with me that I laid out on the bolt and I knew instantly that this backing option was just right.

The wavy lines give a bit of whimsy but still echo the grid idea. The darker tone offsets the abundance of white on the front. I bought 3¼ yards at half-price.

Also in the bargain bin I found a yard of a green grid fabric that reminds of a Frank Lloyd Wright window.

I'd seen this lined grid fabric, shown on the left, the previous time I'd been at Wooden Gates and liked it, but passed it by. The fact that I still liked it and it was still there was a sign, so I bought it. I also saw among the fat quarters a funky dot shown on the right. It is from the Tula Pink Tabby Road line and is called fur balls. I thought it was oddly ugly enough to be super cute. The periwinkle and barfy green color combination and irregularly shaped splotches called to me.

Renée was not as enamored with it as I was until, when we got home, I looked up the Tabby Road fabric line on the computer. She is a cat lover and when she saw the line had kitties and cans of tuna she was determined to get some of those food tins for herself. I teased her that I had unleashed the fabric monster in her.

We left the Wooden Gate quilt shop and had a pleasant relaxed lunch before heading home and re-examining our purchased treasures.

The next day I headed out to the downtown quilt shop of my home town of Livermore to spend a gift certificate to In Between Stitches. I selected a pattern and a book, still trying to rein in any impulse purchases for my stash. A patriotic quilt pattern called to me. Look at all the reds, white, and blues I can use up! Zinnie's Choice is by Lynn Wilder, a local designer we are lucky to have live and work in our area. She has a blog of her own titled Sew'n Wild Oaks and here is the link to more details about this pattern.

Then I bought the book Angles with Ease 2 that is to be used with a wedge ruler. The back cover is what drew me in. I think those monsters are outrageously adorable.

I liked the winter quilt within called Let It Snow. I am attracted to houses and trees in quilts. I am not so sure about all the white to FMQ however. That could be a challenge for me.

The other patterns in there all had an appeal and a charm of their own. The third one in from the right, Petals on a String was featured on the front cover. But I think it was really the monsters from the back cover that sold me.

I have shared my purchases to a sufficient level of detail to satisfy my quilty daughter. Also I have procrastinated long enough with seaming the backing and creating the quilt sandwiches for my Storybook quilt above and my Whirligiggles top, that I am off to do that now. Yee gads! I just noticed that the last time I'd touched my Whirligiggles quilt was three months ago, with a lot of activity back in February, my most recent DL2Q post being February 22nd. There are certain transitions in quilt making that always seem to halt my progress. Seaming the backing in order to make the quilt sandwich and then deciding on the FMQ pattern are two of them. Maybe with practice or an attitude adjustment I will get better at these steps. After linking up to Let's Bee Social #180, I really will get to those quilt sandwiches. Hmmm. I hope I have enough batting...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Storybook Charm Sparks Thought

After my frenzy of burp cloth production last week I was tidying the drawers in my sewing room and came across some charm packs of 5" x 5" squares. I had seen a tutorial from the Fat Quarter Shop to make a quilt with these charm packs which had been on sale. I had thought at the time that it might be fun to try these pre-cuts and the quick quilt made from them. I'd bought four charm packs, two prints from the Moda Storybook line and two solids. The print packs I could justify, in that I got a good variety of fabrics. However, I felt a bit decadent buying a pack of solid squares; but the convenience seemed worth the sale price. Maybe it was time to make up that quick quilt. (Doing so would also allow me to procrastinate in cutting and piecing my backing for a larger quilt in progress. This step of a quilt always bogs me down.)

This charm quilt may be quick to make, but my getting around to it most certainly was not. When I reviewed the Charm Pack Cherry video this week I noticed it was from slightly over three years ago. It and the free pdf of the associated pattern are still available. The pattern calls for an assembly line joining of squares, checker boarding between solid and random print. Nine-patch blocks are then sliced in half and rearranged. Random is very difficult for me but I thought I could handle this one. The pattern called for 72 solid and 72 print squares and each charm pack contained 42. This meant I would need remove six from each pack. Could I just pull out six at random from each print pack? No, of course not.

I laid out the pack contents in the order it had come in order to choose which six to remove. There are three columns of twelve and a rightmost column of six. I could have easily dropped that final yellow column but I wanted to keep in all the colorways.

I decide to pull out three 5" squares that were a sort of patchwork print that would have played more nicely in a large swatch. They are shown in the top row. Next I pulled out two squares of white with taupe gridlines since I felt they would have the least contrast with the solid white. Finally I pulled out the taupe dots since I had three of them one in the pack.

On a lark, I decided to check if the second pack was identical. I guessed it would be the same as the first since they were both factory assembled. That was an incorrect assumption. It took me a while but I ferreted out what was different. It seems instead of an extra taupe square I had a yellow square with a cute clothesline print that was not in the first pack. I certainly did not want to eliminate that little gem.

Instead I removed a bright yellow square. I loved the color but the grid was not as interesting as that clothes line print.

My quick random quilt is becoming less quick and less random. I cannot deny my true nature. Let's see if I can "let it go" during the assembly process. I allowed myself one concession. These are the large scale prints in the pack. I would not try to control their orientation within the block. But I would see that they fell only on corners so that they would not get sliced in half per a later step in the pattern instructions. There were only four of these squares so that is not too much interference with the random process, now is it?

To make a nine-patch block of prints and solid you make print-white-print rows and white-print-white rows.

As it turns out, it was quite simple to guard against slicing those large scale prints in half in a later step. In my subsection rows of three I made sure they were never in the middle. The castle and pirate ships were preserved, intact in one of the outer squares of the print-white-print rows. None would be in the white-print-white rows to be at risk.

I could proceed with chain piecing my white-print-white rows of three, ignoring what print square happened to surface next. I am two thirds there in the next photo, adding the second white square.

I sewed merrily along until I went to join the print-white-print rows on either side of the white-print-white row. 

I discovered there was a fifth large scale square, a second castle that I had missed. It was going to fall very close to an identical square in the same block. I interchanged that row with another print-white-print row so that did not happen. Yes, I interfered with randomness, but in my defense it was a minor readjustment.

Then when I was ironing my completed nine-patch blocks with corner prints I noticed that one had two of the same aqua grid adjacent diagonally to each other. I considered switching that row with the top row from another nine-patch block. Yes I would need to rip out the stitching along a 3-square row seam but that was not too bad. 

Then I got the idea to go back and see what squares I had rejected. Lo and behold there was that bright yellow I had given up. I swapped it for the upper left blue one and voila I am a happy camper, once again. It even picks up the color of those little birdies in the lower right.

After sewing my nine-patches into two sets of eight blocks each, the next instructions were to cut them in half into sixteen half-blocks. Eek! That was a bit scary but I did it and here are the two piles of half-blocks.

I placed them in position on my design wall according to the pattern specified sequence and orientation, but otherwise randomly. I even allowed some upside down ships and castles. I traded the positions of only two blocks where adjacent identical prints glared out at me. I am pleased with the simplicity and straight forward, well-explained directions for this quilt. I got this much completed in one day, even with my non-random interventions. I have begun joining the blocks now, but stopped for the day to reflect and blog. Sometimes I find it easier to get back into my sewing room the following day when there is something simple and straightforward to pick up and continue.

After finishing the joining, my next step is to find a backing and binding and decide on an FMQ pattern. My husband came in and looked at the blocks arranged on my design wall. "Very pastel-ly " he said. He then innocently added, "Not like what you usually do." Then he left leaving me alone with my thoughts. He did say he liked it but his casual comment sparked some soul searching on my part. He is right. I do not usually use solids. I rarely use pure white. I like brights. Is that all he meant? Probably. But I took it a step farther.

Of late I have been trying to stretch myself. I tried a bit of Kaffe Fassett fabrics in my post for April 20, 2017. I worked on Y-seam and hexagons in my post for Jan 11, 2017. I completed four quilts in 2016 pictured in my 2016 in review post - and none them seem to be what I "usually do". I no longer know what it is that I "usually do". It is a bit disconcerting that I may have lost my quilting identity. I often say that it is the "process" not the "product" of quilting that is the important part of my hobby. So maybe having a signature look is not that important. Madonna is often noted to be continually remaking herself. But I am no Madonna. Should I have an identity? Or is this thinking too deeply? Maybe I should just have fun. I will zot over to Let's Bee Social #179 and do just that for now at least! Like Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind, perhaps I will just think about it tomorrow.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cheaper by the Dozen

Between friends of my adult kids and kids of my adult friends, I am in burp cloth mode production again. These are for baby girls #3 and #4 (twins), and baby girl #5, all born in May! Earlier post on May 9th was for baby girls #1 and #2. Since I generally like to give half a dozen birth cloths I had a goal to produce 18 of 'em. (I actually made 19.) Here they all are spread out on the upstairs counter outside my sewing room after they came off the DL2Q production line. By the way, that production line was in full swing until 2:30 am last night. Once I get on a roll I can really pump these out. The sewing repetition and ironing is calming and methodical. I get extra joy from selecting the fabric combinations and explaining my reasons for the choices. So here is how I pondered the pairings.

First off, what follows is the dozen for the twin girls. I have had that grey birch bark flannel for a while and could never quite find something to go with it. Associated with those Parisian looking kitties, the birch bark flannel looked like cat fur to me. Oo-la-lah! These kitties reminded me of the cat in the Disney movie The Aristocats.

See the likeness? For a lark you can listen to the song Scales and Arpeggios at this YouTube link.

This plaid flannel felt so soft, almost like a fluid wool weave. It was purely coincidence that the colors went so well with the pennant print. They are from totally unrelated fabric lines.

This perky stripe paired well with the dog, cat, and mouse print. Even some of the umbrellas and the band on the dogs' beanies are striped.

After a plaid and a stripe how about something diagonal? I paired an on point printed gingham with a pink background displaying flowers with bright turquoise hearts interspersed.  It is as if a garden sprung up right next to a turquoise trellis.

What other "basic" patterns could I find? How about another gingham. This larger scale selection, two-tone pink, picks up those pink owls and their tummies. Look closely and see that the purple speckles complement the purple owls, too.

There is no whimsical print with this pairing but I loved the soft colors of the stripe and the textural interest of the solid aqua I paired with it. This rounded out my dozen for these twin baby girls.

Now, on to baby girl #5. I really did like those owls so I'd bought a second half yard. But this time I paired it with a shocking pink stars and moon mini-print. Owls are nocturnal anyway, aren't they?

I have had this owl print in my stash for a while and finally I could no longer resist using it once I found this unlikely candidate of bright green and yellow plaid as its mate. The plaid makes their beaks and chest feathers pop. (I confess, I still have another ½ yard of the owl print in reserve, but I may pair that with a blue when I find the just the right shade. I am keeping an eye out for a blue gingham or plaid. The right color combination of stripe would work also.)

I have also been hanging on to this cat print flannel for a while, waiting for just the right pink or brown-and-pink combination. I liked the mini-print houndstooth; the saturation of the pink was perfect for the kitties' bows, collars and hats. Shhh. Do not tell those kitties they are so close to a hound even though these teeth do not bite.

Those previous six burp cloths completed my half dozen goal but I had one last fat quarter of this dog print. Again I was waiting for just the right blue or blue-and-brown combination, but this baby had a dog in her life and so she needed this print. In the following picture the back of the burp cloth is folded over to the front to show off the print better. I did not have enough fabric to make a complementary pair of burp cloths, only a singleton, so I decided to go rogue. I had a quarter yard skinny-cut, not a fat quarter, of the Dr. Seuss type spots; but I was able to fold the quarter yard along the grain rather than cross grain and use it down the center. My burp cloth tutorial dated June 18, 2014 explains how to accommodate using a quarter yard cut instead of a fat quarter. The blue background behind the spots matched the scarfs and jackets of the dogs and what canine does not like to chase after a red rubber ball? Granted however, these balls look like they have been chomped on and deflated a tad. It adds to the fun. And now this baby girl will have seven burp cloths - one for each day of the week, in theory anyway. As if a baby would only use one burp cloth a day ... Dream on.

I have emerged from my burp cloth detail and will be social at Let's Bee Social #178.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Coral Queen of the Sea No. 3

Yes, this is the third mermaid I have made. In my post for May 17, 2017, I admitted my chagrin at having so many panels in my stash. In my previous post on May 20, 2017, I decided to take action to remedy the situation and made up a red riding hood doll panel and a mermaid doll panel. Yesterday, since I was on a roll and did not want to lose my momentum I finished off that third mermaid doll panel. My second mermaid had been trimmed in pink rick-rack so I needed to chose a different color for this granddaughter. I laid out the options I had at home. I knew if I ran out to the local sewing store for a bigger selection I would get distracted. My at-home choices were dark green, white, lime green, and frosty blue. I displayed them against the blanket and pillow from the set.

I eliminated the dark green even though it was a near match to the fish on the pillow because it was medium size, not baby size. I did have a chuckle when I saw the price tag of 25 cents on it. This rick-rack package was inherited from my mother's stash and she passed away in 1979, nearly 40 years ago. The white would have certainly worked but I wanted something with a bit more pizazz. The frosty blue seemed "off" against the aqua tones of the mermaid collection. The lime green, although it was not an exact match with the little fishes, reminded of bright seaweed so I went with it. I edged the pillow with the baby lime green rick-rack.

I also trimmed the top waist of the skirt. I did my now-standard trick of sewing sideways across the casing once the belt was in so the ends would not retract too far and be unreachable. The tip of my Clover Hera marker tool points to this stitching line. The central front section stays pre-gathered all the time and the back can be cinched tighter once on the doll.

I edged Coral Queen of the Sea's beach blanket with the signature green. I think it complements the fish even though it does not match them.

That lime green is on each of the doll's accessories, even Mr. Bubbles her sea horse pet. I used it as an identifier of ownership.

In her lounging position you can also see the bright green signature in her hair, on her bodice and on the waistline of her fin gown. She and her seahorse pet Mr. Bubbles are resting quietly. After my doll panel marathon of the past several days, I too will take a break.

Maybe I have learned my lesson. Perhaps in the future I will buy a different panel for each granddaughter and not make three of the same. Three red riding hoods and three mermaids got a bit repetitious. That's why I had to spice each one up a bit with rick-rack. One definite benefit though was that I did get quite proficient at those dolls after turning and stuffing 24 limbs! Now that I think of it, if I include my Lil' Super Heroes dolls from my post for April 14, 2017, my efforts total 32 limbs. Yikes! Perhaps now is a good time to check out Let's Bee Social #178.