Saturday, January 26, 2019

Chasing That Striped Squirrel

Here are the results of all the strip cutting I've done this past week:

It may not look like much in that photo. Let me show you how it stacked up in front of a ruler.

That's my 6.5" square ruler standing on it's head. A little closer look...

Four inches of 2" strips! and lesser quantities of wider strips.

This is the basket I was thinking of using to keep them neat and tidy. I was pleased to be able to empty it easily - a rare occurrence, I assure you. 

Fortunately it worked perfectly!

From left to right I have three inch wide trips, then 2.5," then 3.5," and finally the two inch strips. I fully expect to have two inch strips leftover. That doesn't concern me greatly though. I have a feeling there's going to be more than one quilt out of this basket, and I have other uses for the narrowest strips.

Of course, having set up the basket I had to see how well it was going to work for me. If this is any indication I think it's going to work out just fine. πŸ˜€

I'm only sewing enough strips together to get twelve or thirteen inches of length for the time being. That gives me "blocks" and makes it easier for me to judge how far along I am toward the size of quilt top I have as my goal. I can also rearrange blocks as I see fit before sewing them together in columns. I figure seven columns for 56" in width and about 72" for the length. At least that's the plan for the time being. Plans have a way of changing, as I'm sure you know. πŸ˜‰ 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Evolution of a Scrap Busting System

Maybe you've heard how you can't find your voice as an artist unless you make a lot of art. The same applies to quilt making. You try a lot of techniques, play with a lot of different types of prints, and - at least if you're like me - eventually settle into a style and/or rhythm that works for you. Having said that, I've discovered what I enjoy most is the challenge of taking a bunch of uncoordinated prints and making them into a pleasing composition. The more prints the merrier! 

A year or two ago I set a loose goal for myself to make a dent in the stash I'd built up over two decades. To that end I followed someone else's example and cut a bunch of prints up into strips of varying widths, from 3.5" down to 1.5." What I've learned since then is that I don't naturally gravitate to using strips in my quit making. Or at least not in the way some people do. I'll make the occasional log cabin block for example, but I get bored going around the same central patch over and over again. What I seem to enjoy the most is building blocks out of squares and triangles. Some of those strips can be cut into patches to use in blocks but I had an awful backlog of strips in my closet.

My solution for storing the strips was to clip color families together and then hang them from what was meant to hold ties or belts or something.

One thing I have discovered is that I do enjoy using 3" strips to make Scrappy Trip blocks. But you need at least 19" in length to make a 15" block so I separated those strips by length as well as width.

Two inch strips have proven to be very useful for making 12" Lego blocks and the hulls of 6" boats. Other than that I would only occasionally get into the closet for strips. So in the back of my mind I've been on the lookout for a way to utilize those strips that have been languishing. Cue Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Sarah makes a ton of quilts and therefore generates a lot of scraps. She recently posted about how she put some of them to good use with minimal fuss. The lightbulb went off in my head as I read that post. Since then I've thinned out my collection of strips significantly. πŸ˜€

Now I have a box overfull with strips 8.5" long in varying widths.

These will provide for some wonderful mindless sewing. The trick is going to be finding a way to use the wider strips that are at the bottom of the box as well as the narrower ones on top. I want to keep them handy and I'd like to keep them from wrinkling as much as possible. It may just be a matter of finding a little bit bigger container for them. I had no idea I would fill's A1 box past it's capacity when I began!

Sarah is also working on the plans for this year's Hands2Help effort. There will be tutorials for quilts featuring rectangles (which I suppose are just large strips) along with guest bloggers and door prizes. I'm curious to see which organizations will be the beneficiaries of this year's quilts. 😊

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Scrap Happy Follow-up

Remember those quilt parts and pieces I made for the stage play?

I haven't been given much hope of seeing the missing row of blocks anytime in the near future so I went ahead and finished the top at a smaller size than I originally intended. There were enough blocks already made, it was just a matter of rearranging what I had and framing up one or two more sawtooth stars to fill in the gaps.

Now I'm waiting for some yardage I hope will be appropriate for the back (and maybe the binding). I like my quilt backs to coordinate with the front in some way whenever I can manage it. 😊

And that Disappearing 9 Patch I started for Scrap Happy Day?

I started out with a goal of making 20 blocks... then I cut some more patches from remnants and made a total of 25 blocks. That allowed me eleven rows of nine blocks each for a good size quilt top - with one single block leftover!

There was enough variety in the prints so that it was easier to resist the urge to tweak block placements. A person could go crazy trying to get an even distribution of colors and prints in a quilt like this. πŸ˜€

This quilt will finish at about 58" x 72." Now it's time to figure out what to do about a back...

I could also use a name for this piece. I have a terrible time coming up with monikers for my quilts - unless they have some distinguishing feature. About the only thing I've come up with for this one is Mulligan Stew!

1.21.18: Ah ha! I shall call thee "Confetti!"

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Scrap Happy in January

Today is the day Kate and Gun host a blog hop for anyone who has made something new out of scraps. It began with quilters using fabric scraps but has since blossomed to include others who work in other media. I'll try to remember to include the links to all the blogs at the end of this post. πŸ˜€

I'm happy to report my elbow is feeling better these days. But of course, that means I have to be very careful not to overdo - which has been a distinct danger of late. Very few things motivate me the way a call for blocks or quilts does. I made a pair of foundation pieced half-log-cabin blocks for Covered in Love entirely out of scrap strips. Apparently I didn't get photos of them however. What really got my motor running was learning about WE CARE, a group in California who make quilts and pillowcases for middle and high school students. The quilts are presented in pillowcases tied with a bow as I understand it. As you can imagine, the recent wildfires in that state have increased the need for contributions. That made me mentally review the techniques I enjoy, and that sent me to my scraps and remnants. The Disappearing 9 Patch process is my current favorite for a quick quilt and it's perfect for using up scraps. Or so I hope! 

I've been cutting 5" squares from scraps since last summer when I made my first D9P quilts. The first thing I did after reading about WE CARE's effort was to pull them out and make as many 9 Patch blocks as I could.

For those who may be unaware, this process involves making traditional 9 Patch blocks and then quartering them. The quarters are then arranged according to the maker's desire. I'm hoping that the mix of colors and prints will create a pleasing whole in the end. I'm also hoping for a gender neutral quilt.

I've made and quartered ten blocks so far. My plan is to make 22 blocks so I'll have plenty of quartered units to mix up and end up with a good size quilt. Kathy Biggi, the coordinator of WE CARE, is asking for quilts at least 42" x 54." And pillowcases! They are getting commitments for quilts but don't have enough pillowcases to keep up with their standards for presentation. So I'll make a couple of pillowcases when the time comes too. It's almost easier to make two or more than just one. I'm going to set up a new page on this blog with the information I have for WE CARE. They don't have a web site and the need will continue on for some time. 

I try to keep scrap blocks ready to sew between seams. I've managed to sew up a few of those as well.


As promised, here are the links for others who may have something to show made out of scraps:

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEvaNanette, Lynn, Lynda,Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, 
Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren, Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, 
Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen and Connie 

Happy scrapping!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

First SAL of 2019

I'm late to the party this time around. Kept meaning to write a post ahead of time but it never happened. Fortunately, I'm in one of the last time zones on the globe. That makes me right on time!

You may recall that I'd completed the set of embroidered blocks I was working on last year for this Stitch Along. I also completed the third piggy bank needlepoint case (did I show that to you?). Which left me with virtually a blank slate for the SAL in the new year. There's going to be a fourth piggy bank case but I've had to wait for floss to arrive before I can begin that. (We have four granddaughters; I'm making a case for each one of them.)

I have a couple of dish towels I've stamped for embroidery and started stitching but for the SAL I've decided to start one of the kits I picked up when they were on clearance. There's the Shy Fairy:

And the Winter Fairy:

As you can probably see, they were designed by the same person for DMC. The fabric and floss and even a needle are included. I've prepped the Winter Fairy as she's the most involved and might require the discipline of our tri-weekly check-ins to keep me on task. πŸ˜‰Haven't yet threaded up the needle or taken any stitches though.

We have a couple of new participants in this SAL, in which everyone works on their own project. I haven't had a chance yet to have a look at their blogs but welcome to Renee and Jenny. I look forward to seeing what you and everyone else have been working on!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina,
Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, 
MeganCatherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Easing Into the New Year

I have a hard time shifting gears. Which is why I prefer to keep working on a single major project until it's reached a stage of completion. I find the holidays very disruptive (and I don't even get to go the parties and events that accompany them!). As a result I've learned to make copious notes about the projects I'm working on so that if I do get interrupted it will be easier to get back on track when opportunity finally does present itself. Mostly this works for me. Except when I forget to make those notes!

On this occasion it's not so much that I neglected to make notes - except that I did. Still, they're not crucial. It's pretty obvious what I was doing and where I was headed. What happened this time is that part of the project has disappeared.

This all began in the fall of 2017 when the local community college thespians needed a quilt-in-process for the play they were mounting. I provided them with a small flimsy, a string of blocks sewn together, and some loose blocks. The only documentation I can find about the inception of this project is this blog post. I knew better than to expect a prompt return of the quilt parts when the play was over. I also knew that there was a good chance we'd never seen the pieces again. Still, I hoped to get everything back again because I wanted to make that quilt!

Amongst all the gift exchanges during the holiday season the box of quilt parts was finally returned to us. The flimsy, individual blocks... but not the loose row of blocks. I didn't realize that until I put the pieces back up on the design wall and it just didn't look right, no matter how I arranged or rearranged the elements. Finally I found the November 2017 blog post and verified that the row of blocks was missing.

This is what I had:

This is what I have (with a slight downward shift of the original flimsy):

So, what now? I can probably maintain the color palette but since I was using up scraps and remnants I don't have more of most of those prints. I think this is going to have to be a smaller quilt than I originally intended. I bet I was going for something on the order of 60" x 72." Now I'll settle for 48" x 60." Obviously I'll have to make at least one more block, an Ohio Star. I may very well end up making others, or framing up more 8" sawtooth stars, as I'm not as happy with this as I'd like to be. I have to release the vision of what this could have been too. At least it gives me a way to ease back into the work that makes me feel like I have a purpose in this world. 😊