Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bee, Myself & I

Bee, Myself & I is for selfish sewing, instigated by Carla. I generally have a hard time sewing for myself. When I know there's someone in need or a deadline to be met it's easier to stay out of the Pit of Inertia. However, every once in a while a project comes along that really speaks to me. Such was the case with the Rainbow Blur quilt I saw in our LQS window a few weeks ago. I downloaded the free pattern, my sister donated funds for the fabric as an early birthday gift, and I've begun cutting. This could be a quick project but I prefer to savor it as long as I can. I know when I reach a certain point I'll very likely make a mad dash to the end but for now I'm taking my time, using this for my end-of-the-month BM&I post.

My version of this quilt has been christened Botanical Blur, at least for the time being. That's because I'm using botanical prints from the Kaffe Fassett Collection. This includes prints from Philip Jacobs and Brandon Mably as well as Kaffe. This is the stack of prints I brought home from the quilt shop:

My first cuts were out of the largest scale prints. They are 15.5" squares. I got into difficulties when I tried to center certain images with my 12.5" square ruler and an additional 6" x 12" ruler. Fortunately, James has a 20.5" square cutting ruler in the house which I borrowed. Even though parts of the ruler extended beyond my cutting table it made the job easier overall. I only need five of these largest pieces but I cut an extra one just for the heck of it.

I've also cut more than I need of the next size down, 10.5" squares. There are 15 in this picture, which is the number called for in the pattern, but I've got doubles of some of the prints in that size. The next step will be to cut the 5.5" and 2.5" squares. I need quite a lot of those relative to these larger pieces. I'll be using smaller scale prints and probably cutting strips and then sub-cutting rather than trying to fussy cut anything. Let's hope anyway! There's a difference between savoring the process and getting stuck in the process afterall. πŸ˜‰

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Stitching Along at the End of May

This is the second SAL check-in during May. Some months are like that! I don't have a lot to share this time around as I've been doing more patchwork than needlework of late. I also don't have a deadline of any kind pushing me to work on a specific project. Which is why this stitch along comes in handy. πŸ˜‰

I've completed the next embroidered block of the month on offer from Joy.

I think this one was technically for April. I might get caught up by the end of the program. Next up is Kindness. I still have to transfer the pattern for that one. I've been simply tracing the patterns onto the fabric with a soft pencil, up against our sliding glass door. It's easy enough but I don't get ideal results. I can't seem to even stay on a straight line for more than 1 cm these days. May have to recruit younger, steadier hands to transfer my patterns in the future. Not that I'm all that old mind you! I never could draw a straight line; the aging process isn't helping matters any.

There's a whole flock of us in this SAL, all around the world and working on our different projects. You can see what everyone else is doing by clicking on their links below. For those of you in the EU, I understand there will be a notice informing you of Blogger's privacy policies when you come to visit now. I think it's a one-and-done situation where you give your consent and then won't be bothered by the notice in the future. Oh, and Happy Memorial Day to those in the United States!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday Recap

There have been a series of exposures to toxins since my last post. Before the first one I managed to apply the binding to my Scattered Taffy quilt, which allowed me to sew the binding down after the exposures. That's a good mindless activity for those occasions. I've just pulled the quilt out of the dryer and hung it up for you to see...

Approx. 60" x 67"
I'm looking forward to putting it on the bed. It isn't full bed-size but it will cover the mattress sufficiently for my purposes.

James used a Greek key pattern in the sashing between the Broken Dishes blocks.

Can you see it? It took us a while to come up with a quilting plan that would work with such busy blocks. I'm very happy with the results.

I've also sewn together all the pieces of my current Parts Department Quilt, started for Scrap Happy Day on the 15th.

Once I'd assembled the smaller pieces it was easier to see the quilt as a whole. Subsequently a couple of the 12" blocks were moved around. I'm thinking I'll bind this as-is. I already have a back made for it. It will finish at about 48" x 60."

The rose bush we inherited when we bought this house is in full bloom. It's right outside my studio window and I've let it grow tall enough to enjoy the blooms right from where I spend most of my time sitting. The two rose bushes we planted off the back deck last year are beginning to bloom now too. I finally went out and pulled the worst of the weeds from around their feet. As a reward I brought in one specimen from each bush.

Queen of Sweden

Charlotte, not fully open yet.
Cottonwood season is in full swing, a little early this year it seems. That means we look out the windows and see light, fluffy "snow" floating around. It also collects in nooks and crannies in doorways. It's one of those half-annoying, half-enjoyable aspects of the natural world. 😊

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Scrap Happy Update

Being of an impatient nature I'm not going to wait until next month to show you what's been happening with the quilt I started for Scrap Happy Day this month. πŸ˜‰

Kate commented that the Card Trick block I'd placed in the upper left corner of the layout really stood out, and not in a good way to her eye. I trust Kate's design sense after seeing many of her quilts develop. Her perception of the colors in the block was not accurate, whether due to the photography or a difference in our computer screens. However, we don't think it was the colors in the block so much as the brightness or intensity of those colors that was the problem.

To be honest, the gold and blue Card Trick block down on the right side was bothering me too, I think for much the same reason.

I've been fussing around with the 12" blocks in my Parts Department since then. There aren't that many that work in this palette. I did try this Shoofly Star though.

Sorry about the baby's breath obscuring parts of the design wall;
they are part of my Mother's Day bouquet.

Eventually I decided to just make another Card Trick block but with a more muted background than the white-on-white I used in the first three blocks.

I like this block better with calmer prints than I used the first time around.

I've also been filling in around the larger blocks with more 4" patches and making the 4 Patch blocks the pattern calls for. I tried moving the Card Trick blocks around within the layout but they still seemed to stick out in that upper left corner.

So in the end I've put the star back up there and removed the gold and blue Card Trick block altogether.

At this point I think I've got a layout I can live with. I'll let it sit on the design wall overnight and see if I still feel that way in the morning. This is the sort of thing I could spend days playing around with so if nothing jumps out at anyone else I'll probably start sewing it together. And now I have two Card Trick blocks to add to the Parts Department!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Scrap Happy in May

I've been doing more needlework than patchwork lately so when the reminder came from Kate about Scrap Happy Day I had to scramble. Parts Department to the rescue! Every block in that inventory was made from scraps or fabric that's been in my stash for years. The one rule of Scrap Happy Day is no fabric purchased for the project, whatever you choose to make.

The only patchwork I've done recently was another effort to use up even more of my old prints in Card Trick blocks.

I only made three, and I wasn't that thrilled with the end products. There's nothing very wrong with them, they just didn't float my boat as the saying goes. That's when I turned my attention to using ready-made blocks for a new quilt top. Because the Rainbow Blur pattern is on my mind (see previous post) I decided to see whether I could plug scrappy blocks into that layout.

I started by placing the largest blocks in each of the five rows. The original pattern calls for 18" blocks but I don't have anything that big in the Parts Dept. (at least I hope not!). So I'm scaling the pattern down, using 12" and 8" focal blocks.

Filling in around them will be 4" (finished) whole cloth patches and 4 Patch blocks. That will make the quilt top 48" x 60." I didn't get very far laying out the 4.5" patches before the placement of 4" patches vs 4 Patch blocks became confusing. I don't have 4 Patch blocks in my Parts Dept. so I was having to leave blank spots where they would go. Finally I had to resort to coloring in a graph paper version of the quilt plan.

That made it easier to see what belongs where. It will also facilitate the creation of the 4 Patch units (I hope). The question now is whether to make those 4 Patch blocks before I sew anything else together or to sew as much as possible and make the 4 Patches as I go.

I worry about pieces falling off the wall while I debate the best approach so I'll probably assemble as much as I can first. Or work one 12" square at a time and pin everything else to the design wall until I get to it...

On another note, I've almost finished sewing down the binding on the Disappearing 9 Patch quilt I made out of my food prints.

That print that was donated for the back is playing havoc with my astigmatism. By the way, the eye exam went well. My prescription needs to be tweaked a bit (I'm less nearsighted than I used to be!) so new glasses will be in order. I couldn't stick around to choose frames though, that will have to happen another day.

These are some of the others who may be sharing their scrappy efforts today. You'll find lots of inspiration in their blogs. 😊

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEvaNanette, Lynn,  Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean

Friday, May 11, 2018

Finishes and Beginnings

It's been one of those challenging weeks here in The Magpie's Nest. Consequently I've been doing a lot of embroidery. I finished up this pair of pillowcases, although they need a nicer finish to the hem in my opinion.

I got so carried away when I was working on the middle of the large flower that I didn't think to check the pattern for color changes. Turns out the pattern calls for those spokes to be red or pink. Oh well. I added the buttonhole circle in the very center on my own too. Even that could have been a contrasting color and it would have helped I think. I'm overriding the Perfectionist Within and leaving them just the way they are. But I will put in a nicer hem!

I also finished up this pair of pillowcases:

They still have to be laundered but at least they have an acceptable lace edging, no hemming required. I chose my own colors again, using Nancy's hand dyed flosses. I also added the buttonhole stitched accents to the leaves. The sharp needles among you may remember I'd embellished the centers of the focal bloom with additional stitches. They have been removed, for the good of the end product I'd say.

These two finishes gave me a couple of empty project boxes so I've started a pair of dish towels.

I've decided that my vintage ironing board must be slightly warped. I can't seem to get a solid transfer from the iron-on patterns I've been using. So, parts of the designs are very dark and other parts are barely visible. And the pattern shifted, of course, and in spite of my best efforts, between the first and second attempts to get darker lines where I needed them. {sigh} Going to have to figure out how to overcome that. It certainly wouldn't hurt to put another layer (or two) of batting between the metal ironing board and the muslin cover. What I really need though, is a firmer, flatter surface underneath the padding.

On another front, one of my local quilt shop owners recently celebrated her 20th year in business. Woohoo! Naturally I want to support her and keep her in business. My generous
sister sent me an early birthday gift when she heard about it. That made it possible for me to bring home this collection of prints by Kaffe Fassett, Philip Jacobs, and Brandon Mably (along with a few other things πŸ˜‰).

My plan is to apply these to a free pattern offered by Free Spirit Fabrics called Rainbow Blur. I'll be making a slightly smaller version than the pattern creates, with 15" blocks instead of 18 inch. I just have to recruit some energy to start cutting. Which may not happen soon because I have an eye appointment Monday. I fully expect that experience to take me out of commission for a good 24 hours. I do look forward to being able to update my eyeglass frames however. I've been wearing the same frames with the same prescription for probably twenty years now.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

First SAL in May

Yup, there will be two Stitch Along posts this month! And since the caravans are all done and gone I've decided to use these check-ins to keep myself on track with an embroidered block of the month program sponsored by Joy. I finished the first block a couple of months ago.

That was presented for February. I was impatient to learn what the block for March would be, then when it finally came out I was so distracted by other projects I couldn't get to it. Ironic that, given the theme for the block.

I've traced off the design for April but haven't begun stitching it yet. So it looks like I'll remain a month behind for a bit longer. Or maybe at the next SAL I'll have April's block done and will have started on May!

One of the reasons I haven't begun the block for April is that I wanted to complete this panel, also from Joy:

I've stitched it on the same slightly yellow-ish green fabric as the monthly blocks so that eventually I can set them all together in one quilt if I so choose. I'm also using Nancy Turner's hand dyed floss exclusively. The largest petals in the flower are a deep burgundy, not black as it may appear in the photo. I'm just winging it with my color choices. I use whatever feels good at the time. A bit risky, but that's how I'm personalizing it. It's been a blessing to have these simple lines to back stitch when my brain was incapable of more strenuous activity.

There's quite a group of us in this Stitch Along, all doing our own project in various types of needlework. We span the globe too. I didn't make it around to see what everyone else is working on the last time; I hope to do better this time. Our next "meeting" will be at the end of the month, 27 May. If you'd like to join us you can let Avis know by visiting her blog.