Thursday, July 26, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Yet another week of wandering and playing and not really finishing - but planning for sure!
This is another practice block and was remarkably easy and fast.  This is Ricky Tims' "Convergance" pattern and is made from four 15" blocks.   This took three hours start to finish and has only 24 seams. 

I want to make two more of these -- one in just two colors and another with a yard of the most gorgeous and colorful hand-dyed fabric I've ever seen.  It's a generous gift from Ms LogCabinQuilts when she went to hear Ricky and I wanted to make sure I knew how the fabrics would be playing together before I cut into any more fabric.  These are not-so-great fabrics that continue to multiply in the dark and may never disappear from my stash.  I had planned to work on the two color version this week but haven't had the spirit to do it. So, I'll wait. 
I did manage to get the blocks for RRCB assembled.  They went together well and it's just been too hot to take it outside for a picture. So, here's a snippet.  I've gone as far as I can until the borders are done.
And -- here's what awaits on the border.  172 of these little parallelograms must be assembled into the pieced border.  I was pretty far ahead on these and only need to put the final triangle on most of them.  That's the easy part and can be a leaders/enders project.
What's much less exciting is assembling them as you see here for the borders.  I'll plug along at it but certainly do not feel motivated to get this done.  The tote that had this quilt it in is almost empty which helps justify starting another project, don't you think?
That leads us to this little log cabin block and the pile of boxer shorts below.  These were "gifted" by a friend whose sons are 29 and 32 years old -- and these are shorts they outgrew in high school.  How lucky for me!  While boxers don't provide nearly as much fabric as a shirt, there's enough to make a quilt.  It's easy enough to toss the soiled or worn parts and only use the best fabric and not have a lot left over.  No emotional ties here.
So, I made another practice block to see if I like it and I do.  This will finish at 7" and has 1" logs.  I'm thinking 64 blocks set at 8 x 8 will make a decent size snuggle quilt and my goal will be to have it done by Christmas. We'll see -- and that's what leads us to the Olympics.

I think I'll make these log cabins my Olympic event for the next two weeks.  You see an incredible organization on Ravelry with various knitting events that start when the opening ceremonies begin.  I won't be quite so structured, but I'll work on them when I'm watching from my sewing room and we'll see where I am by August 9th when we leave on vacation.  I'm sure I'll play in other areas -- based on the last two weeks anyway -- but I hope to concentrate on cutting and sewing this pile of free fabric!

When I think about the Olympics, I consider this to be two weeks of some of the best our world has to offer!  It is my hope that they will be peaceful and embody the Olympic spirit - both in London and around the world.  If only we could hold on to it after the flame is extinguished.  

What about you, is there an Olympic event in your future?  Whatever the next two weeks bring, I hope it is peaceful and creative!  Jan

Friday, July 20, 2012


Have you ever had a week where you wanted to sew/create but you couldn't find your groove and just the right project?  I've been all over the place this week.
I managed to find my place and finish piecing this little charity top.  Will fold it, put it up, and quilt/bind it when I have another one or two ready. I prefer assembly line when I'm working on these.
And what is this ugliness, you ask.   Good question.  All week I've been feeling the pull of my little bin of florals.  I finally segregated them (sans Kaffe, of course) because I found I wasn't using them.  They are 1/2 yard cuts, FQ, charm squares, and all in between.  Some I bought on vacations and others have been gifted or swapped.  Either way, I never seemed to pull them for a scrap quilt.

In my head, I want to make a disappearing nine patch out of them.  I'm hoping for a cacophony of color and a happy quilt.  For the most part, florals are happy fabrics and they should translate into a quilt of the same tone - if the design is right.  I think this is -- but needed to make a prototype block.

So, that's what this is.  I took some 3" squares and strips and made a nine patch and then sliced it down the middle to see what the proportions, dimensions, and color placement would be like.
This fuzzy shot is the finished project.  Here's what I learned.  I like the "dark" squares in the center and they way they break up.  I like the dimensions (block will finish at 7" with the squares at 2.5").  I liked the process -- sometimes a prototype is enough to tell me that it's not the right thing for me or the fabrics I was using.  I don't like the "light" blocks as the squares and will switch out the medium (blue) value with the light (white).  I don't know about you but playing with a sample block can save a lot of heartache and redo later.  It also lets me know how I should press for ease of assembly.  That wasn't abundantly clear on this block so I may just press seams open.  I pin anyway so I just have to be a bit more cautious.
But -- you know that small voice in your head that asks why on earth you would start another project when you have so many totes of in process quilts already?  My little voice was chattering away - particularly when I had to move a number of other totes to get to my florals.  But cutting new fabric and thinking about a new quilt is so much more fun than trying to figure out where you are in a "work in progress", right?

That's the case here.  This is Roll Roll Cotton Boll which is on my list to finish this year.  It was a mystery quilt at the end of 2010 and I have all the pieced blocks made and all the string blocks sewn into halves.  I just need to finish assembling the larger string blocks.

I started this quilt when we were working on getting the house in Chicago ready to sell and knew that I could do most of it from precut strips and my strings.  I was close to right -- there was plenty of cutting but it made a dent in a lot of my smaller pieces and used many of them up.  That's the spirit of cleaning up to get a house (or sewing room) more in order, right?

The suggested color palette was pink where you see blue -- and I didn't have pinks.  Unfortunately when you are cutting for a mystery quilt, you don't know how the blocks will go together and whether your color choices will work.  I don't think these did.  You also get in pretty deep sometimes and can't get out.  That was the case when one clue was to make 600 of the red/white HSTs and sew them into 120 strips of five.  Some of you know the feeling that comes when you read that and think "REALLY -- 600?".  I didn't get that clue finished until we got moved to Kentucky and I needed mindless sewing.  I had them pieced but not sewn into strips of five.
When making the string blocks, I committed heresy by foundation piecing mine.  The risk is that you don't know how they are going together and you could have a lot of bulk.  That is the case here.  Because the original blocks were cut in half and reassembled into a larger block of four halves, you have some bulky seams - even with lightweight foundation.  The good news is that you have stability.  When you look at this quilt, there are LOTS of pieces and lots of ways for things to get wonky.  These blocks actually provide framework and since I'll just be doing a large meander when I quilt it, I'll avoid any little mountains that might exist.  We'll see if I can keep motivated to do one row everyday.  If so, all the blocks will be pieced within a week and then we'll see if I can figure out where I am on the border.  I have all the pieces cut -- just have to sort and finish them.  Thank goodness I have that set of instructions.  The rest is being done by "feel" since I must have thrown them out!  Good grief!

I hope you are inspired and creative this week -- and a bit more focused than I am!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Solve for X

[ ( { [ (30 * 16) / 2 ] / 2 } / 4 ) / 30 ] = X

What?  Algebra?  Well, yep -- sort of (with a disclaimer to those of you who remember your algebra that I'm keenly aware that I haven't written this formula correctly but I was too lazy to go research the proper way to express it).

So, what is X?


30 jelly roll strips cut into 2.5" squares = 480
480 squares sewed into 2 patches = 240
240 2 patches sewed into 4 patches = 120
120 4 patches sewed into 16 patches = 30
30 16 patches sewed into six rows = 1 QUILT TOP  -- finally

I know you have gotten a bit tired of hearing about this top that started as therapy to get my quilting mojo quick started.  I'm happy to say it has worked.  I'm not sure what the next big project is but I have to say that this little top makes me smile and will be put away for the fall trip to Chicago for another quilting marathon.  That is -- unless a need comes along and I'll figure out how to quilt it on my Bernina.

There may be a few questions about why I chose to sash each block on two sides as a starting point.  It would have been much easier and faster to have sewn the rows together with a sash between each square and then just used a single strip between each row.  Yep -- it would have been and it would have driven me crazy.

I don't know if you have ever put together a checkerboard top before but it is SO easy to for the squares to get off square from row to row.  Creep is hard to avoid.  This approach gives me a lot more control and I pin at every intersection where two sewn seams meet.  Since I wasn't in a hurry -- the extra time spent cutting sashing, sewing and pinning them, and ironing seams open was fine with me.  This was intended to give me joy as I worked with fabrics I loved.The top is small -- 50.5" x 60.5" -- but I don't plan to put a border on it.  I like the simplicity of the design and don't really want to change that.

My birthday confetti quilt (below) was made the same way but with much wider sashing -- and I'm pleased that the squares line up as well as they do.

And finally, I'm rich this week.  Look what my FedEx guy left on my porch.  I've been piecing battings and using up lots of scraps -- which I love.  But some quilts I prefer not to piece.  I'm a little uneasy about using a pieced batt when the quilt top has a lot of white.  I'm concerned the strip of lightweight interfacing will show through when it's quilted.  That would not make me even close to happy!!!
I hope you are rich in some way this week --- and finding time to create!  Jan

Friday, July 6, 2012


In spite of the heat, I've managed to sew a bit everyday this week and get a few things done.
I'm happy to say I'm slowly making progress on my Kaffe jelly rolls.  Thus far, all the jelly rolls have been cut and sashed on two sides.  There were 30 separate fabrics in the roll and here is one sample of each.  I think the roll was entitled something about the "sea" and you can see it is primarily greens and blues.  But there are some fabrics in here I have never ever seen -- and they are breathtaking.  You know that you can cut one strip of a Kaffe floral into 2.5" squares and it can look like 4-5 different fabrics.  Such wonderful colors!!!!  Just what the doctor ordered.

I need to iron all the little blocks (open of course to minimize see through on the little green polka dot fabric).  They will become pairs who will become four patches that eventually will be end up in 16 patches.  My challenge will be not to over think this as I put fabrics together.  It would be easy to spend too much time deciding what to put together.  I think I'll try to live with the "rule" that no two pieces in the same pattern in the four patches -- and leave it at that.  We'll see if I can do that!
I also got the back pieced for the birthday quilt -- and the batting as well.  These are wool pieces that I had and I just love the "lightness" that comes with a wool batt.  Personally, I've never been satisfied with piecing battings on my machine.  I always end up with some bunching as one piece moves through the machine at a different rate than the other -- even with a walking foot.   

I've gotten into the habit of trimming my batting pieces up into strips when I trim my quilts after quilting.  The strips may be 4"-12" and they go in a tote.  Many of the six quilts I took to Chicago to quilt two months ago were "pieced" like the one above.  I bought one roll of 1.5"of "batting tape" but it's a tad pricey.  So, I bought some lightweight interfacing, cut it into 1.5" strips, and it's worked like a charm.  Both in the "piecing" and flatness and in the quilting.
The birthday quilt is quilted (on my domestic machine) using a great variegated Valdani thread.  Binding is also on -- with the corners sewn down.  If you've read my blog much, you know that I've developed an aversion to binding (irrespective of how hot it is right now and having a quilt on me is almost smothering!).  One of my head tricks is to sit down and do all four corners first -- then it's just about straight binding.  Faster and no worry about how the miter will work -- I've already done those when I was "fresh".  I adore this polka dot fabric with the solids.
The birthday quilt has a lot of fiddly piecing so I needed a lot of leaders and enders for my starting and stopping.  I'm in a swap with friends from Chicago that requires 800 four patches.  Strips are cut at 1.25" and the four patch will finish at 1.5".  I do love finding a use for 1.25" strips that are leftover from other projects (or even in my string bags).  I also love that it lets you cut some less than favorite fabrics into teeny tiny pieces which minimizes some of their offensiveness.  Either way -- I have between 400-450 done and the deadline is January.  I'm in good shape with this commitment!
And since this is about miscellany.  Here's a washed out picture of my African violet.  Isn't she lovely?  I have wanted one since we moved and picked this out around Mother's Day -- it had a few blooms which were near the end of their peak but the leaves were beautiful.  I haven't fertilized her -- she sits on a glass shelf in my kitchen and I am enjoying her colors for now!

I hope you're finding time to create!  Jan