Thursday, January 19, 2017

Confession Time

I've had a skeleton in my closet.

Behind that skeleton is a set of shelves loaded with yardage, not all of it quilting cottons.

And this is what poor Ruby Blue has been laboring under for months:
Ruby Blue is my second machine.
She's great for zipping up long
straight seams and applying bindings.
Stacks of blocks that are technically part of my Parts Department. That's not the only stack in the studio either.

My local quilt guild holds an auction every year in January. The monies raised are used to fund our charitable activities. I've pretty well cleared out the books I could bear to part with. I've never been one to collect patterns or rulers or other gadgets. The one thing I have too much of (if that's even possible!) is fabric. The logical conclusion was to take advantage of the auction and share my wealth.

To that end I have cleared out 99.9% of my flannels. Of all the fabric in my stash I figured they were the least likely to be used in the near future. Most of them were infant or juvenile prints anyway, and there are gals in the guild who focus on making preemie quilts. My focus needs to be on utilizing what's in my Parts Department.

Empty shelf!

Look how well the pizza boxes I use for block storage fit on that empty shelf:

And now Ruby Blue is free of her heavy burden. I can use her more easily and more often to make more blocks and bind more quilts. ;- )

No doubt there's further organizing that could take place here in The Magpie's Nest. For the time being however, I need to return to activities that are more fun. In particular I'm hearing the siren call of tropical batiks...

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Today is the link party for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela and tomorrow is ScrapHappy Day hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. Since it's all about scraps let's toss 'em in the bin together!

I wasn't sure I would have purple blocks to show already for the RSC but a couple of days of sorting, then cutting, allowed me to sit and sew yesterday. This is the result:

In the spirit of full disclosure, two of the blocks on the wall were there before I started in on my purple patches. Still, not bad for one day. :- ) The baskets are 8" blocks. There are two 10" blocks whose name I don't know that are for the block of the month drawing in my local quilt guild.

For ScrapHappy Day I went through my scrap 3" strips to see what could be done with them. I've never really settled on a specific way to organize my strips. By length? By color? I had them sorted by length, according to the ways I'm most likely to use them. Now that I've been involved with the RSC for a couple of years sorting them by color seems more useful. So I reorganized them by color. I was able to use the longer strips to make 15" Scrappy Trip blocks.

I made up ten blocks. It would only take twenty to make a decent size quilt (60" x 75").  We'll see how many I get made for February's ScrapHappy Day!

To see more scrappy blocks you can find links over at TallTalesfromChiconia and SoScrappy. In the meantime, I think I'm going to have to clear out some space somehow to enlarge my Parts Department...!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

First Finish of the Year


I haven't blogged about the FootSquareFreestyle block swap (rounds one or two) very often. Mostly out of reluctance to spoil the surprise for the participant each month but also due to LBS (lame brain syndrome). Now that we're approaching the end of F2F2 I have a finished F2F quilt to show you.

To recap, there were twelve participants in the first F2F. We each made three blocks for one person a month, our choice of block but in colors the recipient had chosen. Of course we have free rein when it comes to assembling our blocks. Kate and Lynn and I think someone else quilted their blocks separately and then assembled them into quilts (in the quilt-as-you-go technique). I'm blessed to have a long arm quilter in the house so once I set the blocks I handed the parts over to him. It took us some time to decide on a quilting pattern. It was no easy matter to select thread color either, let me tell you! Finally we decided on a light lavender thread and a contemporary straight line design. It's not easy to see in the photographs but you get the idea from this detail shot:

We have a quiet, sunny day here today so I went out to the back deck and got some shots of my completed F2F quilt. I had to do it in two halves. I made my quilt big enough to use on our double bed so it measures about 85" square. Here's one half:

And here it is from the other end:

I see that even in this shot I didn't get the whole width in the picture! I'd like to get a single picture of the whole quilt but haven't yet figured out how to manage that. You'll notice that the blocks are grouped according to their predominant color. I made one extra block to fill out the middle polychrome section. I used my collection of black and white prints to make the sashing strips. I thought I would be using a rainbow print for binding but a black with a white line design looked better when it came down to it. Oh, and for the back I made sure to use some prints that had been given to me by other cyber friends, including one that features a lot of women friends. :- )

I confess that I have not put a label on this yet, but it's coming. For now I'm anxious to get it on the bed to see how it looks and feels!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

First 2017 SAL

There haven't been many opportunities for recreational stitching since our last update. This is where the crown needlepoint case was when last you saw it:

You may remember that I'm changing the color palette and tweaking the design as I go. That makes this more mentally demanding than than I generally want in my needlepoint projects. Nevertheless, some progress has been made:

We'll see whether I continue with this between now and the next update. That will be in three weeks. If you'd like to have some motivation to get your needlework projects completed in 2017 contact Avis at Sewing Beside the Sea. For further inspiration check out what the rest of the gang is up to:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Looking Back and Looking Forward

For this first Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up of 2017 Angela has suggested we show quilts we've made from our scrappy rainbow blocks. I don't think I've yet made an entirely rainbow quilt. Rather, the blocks I've made have gone into several Parts Department quilts. (For the uninitiated, my Parts Dept. is comprised of various orphan blocks and units. I was inspired to create the Parts Dept. by the collaboration between Gwen Martson and Freddy Moran in their book, Collaborative Quilting.)

I watched from the sidelines for a year or two before I became actively involved with the RSC. My first official year was in 2015. I decided to use the RSC color prompts to use up prints that had been in my stash far too long. Since I rarely bought anything bigger than about a third of a yard in the early days of my quilting career these small cuts seemed like scraps to me. I looked for a block pattern that would use up large quantities of fabric in a hurry. I settled on 12" Ohio Stars. I bought white on white prints for the backgrounds but I also used colored backgrounds when I could. A lot of those blocks went into this 84" x 84" quilt that was eventually donated to our local women's transition home.

In 2016 I switched to smaller scraps and smaller blocks. I used 1.5" strips and squares to make 4" (finished) postage stamp units that I then used in 8" sawtooth star blocks. About half way through the year I spotted someone else making sailboats (was it you Gayle?) and got hooked on them. They helped to use smaller scraps. This little baby quilt came out of some of those blocks and a few remaining Ohio Stars. Without checking my notes I think it finished at about 40" x 56."

My local guild did a double four patch for the block of the month in the summer of 2016. That inspired me to use up more scraps, combine them with some of my postage stamp stars, and make this 48" x 56" quilt for a child in foster care.

Finally, I've used more of the postage stamp stars to border the baby quilt I've been working on most recently.

You can read about its' development in previous posts, just scroll down a bit. Once this has been quilted it will finish at about 48" x 56."

I think for 2017 I'm going to continue with the postage stamp stars but I don't want to limit myself to just the one block design. There will probably be more sailboats (6") and little Hole in the Barn Door blocks (also 6"). There's still old fabric that needs to be put to good use so I may look for a larger block again too. If you haven't been there already, hop on over to SoScrappy to see what everyone else has made or is planning to make this year.