Saturday, October 31, 2015

Starry Flimsy

Between other events happening around The Nest this week I managed to get all my sawtooth stars sewn together.

But I wanted it just a bit wider. It's only 56" (finished) wide at this point. Once this is quilted and laundered it won't even be that wide. So I decided to add two inches all the way around. I didn't have enough of the dark brown batik that surrounds the outer stars to do that but I did find another brown batik in my stash.

So now the top will finish 60" wide by 76" long. Wonderful! Now all I need is a name for this quilt. Well, and a backing (and batting and binding!). I'm considering some delicious hand dyed yardage that I've been hoarding for years for the back. They are single-yard cuts, and don't really go together, but I can't bring myself to cut them up. I knew from the beginning that I would keep this quilt for myself so I may as well put some cherished fabric on the back, right? ;- )

And now for the really big news:

Our son has purchased one of the long-arm quilting machines that were in the shop in which he was working and is going into business for himself!

We've been moving furniture and things around to make room for Freddy, as this particular machine is known (christened by it's first owner), in what was James' bedroom. There's fine tuning to be done but we expect things to be up and running within the week. Woohoo!

I'm linking up with the other RSC bloggers.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Scrappy Stars from June to October

We have been fortunate in this household that the cold our son brought in hasn't been terribly virulent. When I started to feel more like myself again I put my light batik and hand-dye stars back on the design wall. Eventually they ended up in these positions:

These are the stars that were inspired by the packet of hand-dyed fabrics I won in June. They are 8" finished, so at this stage the top would have been 40" x 56." Here are the brown background stars I made to make the top bigger:

You may have noticed that the top row isn't in place. I have blocks set aside for that and am hoping they will look good when I finally shift everything downward. Two of the stars I showed in my last post have been remade. I just couldn't live with them the way they were. Now I'm not even sure which two stars they were! 

These blocks have been on the design wall for several days now. Tweaks have been made to block placement during that time. For example, the dark star in the center right column below had to be taken out.

I replaced it with one from somewhere else in the border.

Actually, I think the two stars I changed are the bottom two you see on the left in the photo below.

The lavender one had lavender points, making it very dark and low contrast, and the one below it had the garish turquoise points. I put the lavender points on the 16 Patch and cut new, lighter points for the lavender star. Much better - at least to my eyes. :- )

Now I have the top arranged thus:

The block that goes in the corner is on the floor. There's nothing to pin it to in that spot!

I hope to get this sewn together early this week. We've had to do some serious moving of furniture and junk in the house or I'd have it done already. Hopefully I'll be able to show you why things had to be rearranged very soon. :- )

I'm linking up (at the tail end again!) with the other RSC bloggers over here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Working Under the Influence

Apparently there's a respiratory bug going around. My son was so kind as to bring it home with him. At first I thought I would be able to avoid succumbing. Wrong! And what have I learned since then? One shouldn't make color decisions under the influence of a cold.

I was desperate to do something fun, in spite of having to blow my nose every ten seconds. I had background patches already cut for the rest of my batik and hand-dye sawtooth stars so I figured it would be simple enough to fill them in. It was fun while I was making them but the next day there were a couple that sort of stuck out in a bad way.

Can you pick out the ones I have issues with?

This is the worst offender:

It may not be obvious in the picture but the star points are too much brighter than the center for my taste. Fortunately I have enough of the brown batik leftover to make a few more blocks if I want to. Don't you think the new blue and purple star looks better?

Now the question is whether I can live with the one in the lower right corner. I think I can, but I'll wait to see how it looks with the other blocks...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dark Stars

I've been making 8" Sawtooth stars again. These particular stars were not part of my original Rainbow Scrap Challenge plans but cropped up when I won a lovely set of hand dyes from Vicki Welsh in one of the RSC drawings. The blues and aquas in the set prompted me to get out my other precious hand dyed fabrics and pair them up with batiks. I started by making this set of stars:

I believe I have more than just these by now. This seems to be the only picture I have of them however, and I'm sorry it's not a better one.

When I'd used up the light batik I was using for the backgrounds of these stars I had to figure out what to do next. There weren't enough blocks for a decent size quilt. Nor did I want to just slap a wide border around the stars. So I looked through my stash and came up with a lush brown batik. I've always liked the combination of rusty browns and blues.

But it's gorgeous with other colors too!

These are the stars I've made so far with 16 Patch centers. There's another set of stars on brown backgrounds that have whole cloth centers. My intention is to surround the light background blocks with these dark stars, thus creating that wide border I needed to bring the top up to size.

I need 14 of these stars altogether, so only a few more to go. That should see me through the month of October and the Rainbow Scrap Challenge! I'm linking up with the other participants over at SoScrappy today. Go have a look and see what everyone else is doing; you won't be disappointed. :- )

Thursday, October 15, 2015

ScrapHappy October and a Tutorial

I'm linking up with Kate and Gun today to share one way I use up scraps here in The Magpie's Nest. I'm even going to attempt a tutorial!

When I was planning to create a border of Bow Tie blocks around my latest Parts Department quilt I discovered that I didn't have quite enough to get all the way around. It didn't take long to make another dozen.

Let me show you how I do it. :- )

Six inch Bow Ties are a great way to use up 3.5" and 2" patches. You need two 3.5" squares of two different prints, and two 2" squares of whichever print you want to be the Bow Tie (as opposed to the background). For the purpose of this tutorial I'll use white for the background and a black print for the Bow Tie and its' knot. We'll be piecing one part of the knot of the bow tie onto the two background squares.

Lay the little square right side down on top of the larger square, placing it right up into the corner and aligning two raw edges. Then you'll want a smallish acrylic ruler marked in quarter-inches. Lay your ruler on top of the two patches with the quarter-inch line running through the two opposing corners of the little square.

I have an overhead light making a reflection on the ruler. Here's a close-up:

See how the quarter-inch line is running right through the corner of the patch? This process eliminates the need to draw a line down the middle of the little square. Even if the two patches shift on their way to the sewing machine it's easy enough to line them back up again.

Once you have your ruler placed accurately use your rotary cutter to cut off the little triangle not covered by the ruler.

In this case I throw those little triangles away. When I'm making 3" x 6" flying geese I keep the off-cut triangles and sew them together to make my scrappy Broken Dishes or Pinwheel blocks.

Sew your altered patches together with a quarter-inch seam allowance. Repeat the process with the other little square and background patch.

The next step is to pair these units up with the remaining 3.5" patches to create your bow tie. Here's what the back of my block looks like before I sew the final seam:

And here's the completed block:

I like to use these blocks between seams (as leaders and enders) when I'm working on other projects. The seams are all short and the block is simple to assemble. Now to decide whether to make a scrappy Bow Tie quilt out of these blocks or to hang onto them to use as a border in the future!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Super Scrappy October

Brown is the color for October in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I've made a couple of blocks...

(red background but the star is a tan print)

But more of my time has been spent working on the Parts Department quilt top. If you recall, I had it up to 72" square at this point:

My goal was 84" square so I needed twelve inches overall to get there. My first idea was to use 6" Bow Tie blocks all the way around to create a final border.

the bottom row
I was hoping for a ribbon-like effect all the way around.

the top of the flimsy
The Bow Ties would have aligned beautifully at the corners, creating a continuous string. However, it only took two border strips to make me realize how distracting those Bow Ties were going to be. I had to let this sit on the back burner for a few days before a better idea presented itself.

First of all, I knew I wanted another strip of a single fabric to frame the 9" Shoo-fly borders. Had to find the right color/print for that, and something I had enough of to go all the way around the flimsy. That left four inches to fill somehow. I don't have a lot of parts that small in my Parts Department and I really didn't want to take the time to make the number I'd need to cover that distance!

Then I thought about the central section of the top, specifically the "Lego" blocks I used around the Ohio Star. Could I do something like that to make the four inches of borders I needed? Certainly! Scrap strips, 2.5" wide, sewn end-to-end until I had 145" in length, then folded over one time and sewn down the length created a four inch wide (4.5" raw), 72" long unit. Four of those were all I needed.

To turn the corners I made four chevron type Log Cabin blocks. I began with squares of the same red print that I'd used for the framing strips. That links up the four single red strips into one contiguous frame.

I like this much better. I've nearly used up my scrap 2.5" strips, made a healthy dent in the 2" scrap strips, and reduced the inventory in my Parts Department. :D When I put this on my double bed I was delighted to see how well suited it is. The blue frame comes right out to the edges of the mattress, thus allowing the Shoo-fly blocks and outer border to be seen as the drop on each side and along the foot of the bed. It could be longer of course, but this is as big as this one is going to be. Who makes up a bed formally anymore anyway? I don't! (Never could master a pillow tuck to my satisfaction. I'd spend all day fussing with it!)

I'll be linking up with the other rainbow scrappers on Saturday. Meanwhile, my F2F swap blocks have been arriving over the last couple of weeks. So much squishy goodness in the mailbox! They're going to make another rainbow quilt, this time one for my own bed. :- )