Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Trying to Beat the Clock

I have just another three weeks till grandbaby boy is born.  I'm working overtime, trying to beat the clock, to finish this quilt before he arrives.  (The photo below was taken on the diagonal.  You can see the border in the lower right corner.)

Enlarged variation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars

There are twelve 12" blocks and a 6-inch-wide border all around.  I think I'm coming along well until I remember that the borders are almost equal to the center in size and will, therefore, take just as much quilting time.

This is how I've been quilting the blocks, below.  I have 10 of the 12 finished with this much quilting.  But I think the stars need double diagonal lines from the on-point squares in their centers to the edges of the stars, and maybe all the way to the centers of the adjacent blocks.  There's just too much unquilted space, especially for a quilt that will likely get lots of use. 


I thought about quilting with an all-over pattern for this quilt, particularly Baptist Fans, which is one of my favorites, but I couldn't reconcile the points in the stars with the curves of the fans.

Have you ever noticed that too little quilting makes a quilt wear out faster?  I have heard it is so but I haven't used any quilts long enough to tell.

Wherever you are in the world I hope you're enjoying October.  Last week we had temperatures in the high 80s here in central Ohio.  This week it's been in the 40s and we had frost this morning.  I'm hoping the trees change color soon.

I'm linking this post to
> WOW at Esther's Blog
> Let's Bee Social #246 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> MidWeek Makers #145 at Quilt Fabrication

Nancy.
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Monday, October 15, 2018

Bluebells

I finally have a little finish.  Below is an in-progress photo of Bluebells, the sixth block for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt.  I'm making this with a Facebook group (and am, as usual, behind everyone else).

Bluebells for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt

I should have taken a photo or two of the pinned block and looked at it objectively.  Do you ever think something you're making looks great and then, when it's finished, realize there were one or two things you could have changed and it would have been better?  I do it too often.  I might have moved a leaf or two, and I might have curved a stem a little more.  I know I can still make those changes because I haven't cut out the back but I don't want to.  It's great to finish and be finished.  But then, it may happen that the block will insist on the changes (or maybe just my eyes will insist).

Bluebells for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt

The background of this block is cut at 12½" x 19½" so it's long and thin.  Every block in this quilt is a different size.

September was packed with activities and events and I didn't have much time for sewing or stitching.  October's shaping up to be almost as busy.  Stitch by stitch, I just keep going to eventual finishes.

Do you ever have too-busy weeks or months to make quilts?

I'm linking this post to
> BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts
> Friday Night Sew In (FNSI) at Sugarlane Designs
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

Nancy.
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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fun Photos - Really Random Thursday

Some things and sights that caught my eye are...

the view from the summer kitchen
looking toward the back porch at Slate Run Farm

a vibrant zinnia

paint chips

antique buttons at a sale

peppers at the farmer's market

the carpet runner on the stairs at Slate Run Farm

a pumelo at the grocery store

straw hanging over the edge of the upper story
of the barn at Slate Run Farm

storm clouds gathering

and my grandson who says, "I see you."

Wishing you a good day.

--Nancy.
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Friday, September 28, 2018

Just Don't Think

Enlarged variation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars

This week I finished sewing my enlarged variation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars, made with autumn tones for a grandbaby coming in November.  They will finish at 12".  (Kim's finish at about 4".)

I love everything about these stars.  I hope baby's mom will love them, too.  (It won't matter so much about baby because he will be too little to notice till he's a little older.)

All along I thought I would use rich autumn colors for the sashing between the blocks, but when I laid them out with using several fabrics in several colors between blocks I wasn't happy with them.  So unhappy that I didn't take any photos.  (Probably a bad idea since photos often reveal to me what my eyes don't see in real life.)

For this monthly goal finish photo I scooted them close together and suddenly I had a different idea about possibilities.  What if I added on-point triangles in the light squares where the blocks meet to repeat the stars' centers?  Like this, on the left...

Enlarged variation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars

...and this, below?  Using all the same fabric?  In light, medium, bright, or dark?  Or repeating the fabrics of the stars?

Enlarged variation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars

Then I started thinking of more possibilities.  And then I told myself, "DON'T THINK!  Don't think of possibilities.  Just make a decision and finish this top.  Grandbaby will be here in early November and you want to have a quilt ready for him, right?  Just don't think!"

I'm trying to take my own advice but making quick decisions is not one of my strengths.  So I'm still considering those on-point squares at the corners where the blocks join.  I'm still considering sashing, possibly a light sashing to let the stars shine.  I'm still considering border fabric.  And backing.  Can you see a newborn baby lying on a dark, medium, or bright fabric on the back of a quilt?  Can you imagine a baby on a light back?

As much as I love these stars, I just need to decide and get on with it to have a finished quilt!  Do you sometimes have trouble making decisions about quilts?

This was my One Monthly Goal for September.  Now that it's finished I can link this post to One Monthly Goal - September Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Patty.

I'm also linking to Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Myra.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Cut and Sew or Cut All, Sew All?

As I was pressing a section of these star blocks I was taken by the symmetry of the center backs.  Wouldn't this make a fun block?


I had been cutting and sewing the star blocks one at a time.  I like the quick finish of one block and then moving on to the next one.  But it occurred to me that this might not be the best approach when time is of the essence:  I want to finish this quilt before early November.

So I changed my method.  I cut all the pieces for all the blocks, then sewed the pieces assembly-line style.


I'm not keen on production lines.  It seems like joyless sewing.  But it is probably quicker.

Star points about to have the second point stitched.  They look like flying geese before they're sewn into the blocks.


Nine of the centers.  The other three are already in the stars.


 Centers with star points pinned to two sides, ready to be sewn.


And now I have just 18 12½" seams plus pressing to finish the blocks.


It's true that shouldn't take long, but time is a precious commodity just now.  Still, I'm sure I can finish these stars by the end of the month.

Do you prefer to sew blocks individually or cut all then sew ll?  

--Nancy.
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Utility Stars in Blogger's Quilt Festival, Fall 2018

I'm excited that it's time for Amy Ellis's Blogger's Quilt Festival :: Fall 2018 Edition.  I look forward to this all year so I can see all the other quilts in the Festival.  And, of course, I always hope I'll have at least one quilt to include -- and this year I have two.  If you have a quilt to share and have a blog, you can participate, too.  The Festival runs all week.  Many thanks to Amy for hosting the Festival.

I call this quilt "Utility Stars."  I wanted to make a calm, soothing quilt--and prove to myself that it could be just as beautiful, though in a different way, as quilts with lots of colors.


Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

I am always so pleased when I put that last stitch in the binding of a quilt.  It gives me such a sense of satisfaction.  Next, I lay it on the floor and measure it, then toss it in the washer, then into the dryer, then measure it one last time.  Truly done then!

This has been a hard quilt to photograph.  The photo above was taken inside with a flash; the ones below outside.

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

I used JoAnn Soft 'n' Crafty batting, 3/8" thick, 80% cotton/20% poly.  I used thread I had on hand--it was probably rayon--then ran out and bought a spool of cotton.  I wasn't sure the shrinkage would be the same after washing and drying.  I left safety pins in the blocks that had cotton thread but couldn't tell any difference between those and the others after the quilt came out of the dryer.  Whew!  That could have been close.  I should probably be more careful about thread from now on.
 
The measurements of this quilt were crazy.  And how about square?  How is it one starts with square blocks and ends up (after quilting) with a quilt that is off by 1/4" to 5/8"?  I squared the corners as much as I dared but I suspect the quilt does not yet have precise measurements.  No matter:  it will never be in a quilt show to be evaluated.  After wash and dry it measures 60¾" x 78½".

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

At one point during the quilting it occurred to me that this quilt looked like it could have been mass-produced and sold in a big box store, probably because of the plain diagonal rows of stitching in the center of the blocks.  I convinced myself that no, it couldn't, because of all its imperfections. 

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

I love the texture these quilting lines created and the puffiness between the stitching.  Those should create lots of air pockets to keep the warmth in on a cold night.  I used masking tape from corner to corner for the first stitching lines, then quilted the other diagonals "free-hand," so to speak.  They are not all exactly, evenly spaced.

You can't really tell it from any of the photos but the binding is about ½" wide.  I thought about an even wider binding but decided this was the best width.  You can read about my wide binding woes here.

And here it is with the early cherry blossoms and sunny shadows.

Scrappy quilt with Uneven Stars or Morning Stars or stars in the sashing

Again, visit Amy Ellis's post, Blogger's Quilt Festival :: Fall 2018 Edition, to view all participants and to link your own quilt's blog post.  Thank you, Amy!

--Nancy.
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Scrappy Leftovers in Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2018

It's Festival Time again!  The wonderful Amy Ellis is hosting Blogger's Quilt Festival :: Fall 2018 Edition at her website, Amy's Creative Side.  If you've finished a quilt or two this year and have a blog, you're invited to participate.  You can post all week.  It's a great way to share your quilts and see others' quilts you might have missed. 


"Scrappy Leftovers" is participating in the Festival this year.  How I wish my photos did justice to this quilt.  No light seems quite right.  Indoors with a flash the colors look just a tad warmer than they really are.

Outdoors the colors wash to white or grey.


You'll have to trust me that its true colors are lights, naturals, warms, and creams with hints of coral/peach/pink and just a few scraps of light yellow and a few whites/off-whites here and there.


This quilt began as scraps cut from behind applique pieces on another quilt.  The pieces were too large to throw away but the largest measured only 4".  There weren't enough by themselves to make a quilt but I had lots of small, light/neutral scraps to sew together.  (But not quite enough.  Thanks to Susan from DesertSky Quilting who sent some to help me finish.) 


For a while they became my leaders and enders and sometimes my purposeful sewing, leading and ending each other until I had a nice stack.  I put them together into blocks with coral/peach sashing and red centers.  Once sewn together I added the circles where four blocks met, but only in alternate squares.

The top measured 61½" x 77½".  The back is scrappy but with only several large pieces of fabric.  The batting is Soft 'n' Crafty 80/20 (cotton/poly).


As much as I loved the top I wasn't sure how I could hand quilt through all the seams.  Some 4" blocks have as many 10 pieces of fabric.  One of my readers, Martha of Q is for Quilt, suggested circles and sent a diagram of her idea which I adapted and altered, then created my own templates.  (I used Prismacolor pencils to mark the circles.  I'll post about that a little later.)


I knew I lacked the skill to make fine, small stitches but I also knew I didn't want do "big stitch" quilting with embroidery floss or pearl cotton.  I finally chose Americana brand quilt thread in a color called buttercream, which was a delight to use, and managed about five stitches/inch.  Big stitch with quilting thread, I guess.  The seams were a challenge.


After quilting it measured 61" X 76".  After washing and drying it measures 58¼" x 72".  I was surprised at how crinkly and puckered it became.  It's easy to imagine how the air caught between the layers will add warmth to someone sleeping under the quilt.  In the photo above you can see the crinkles and also the quilted circles and lines that connect them, creating a diamond box around the red cornerstone.  I used masking tape as a guide for the straight lines.

Out in the sunshine.

And on the floor inside ... because I'm not ready to fold it and put it away yet.  It is just such an inviting quilt. 


I loved the process of creating this quilt, from sewing scraps to sewing binding.  And I love the finished quilt, perhaps more than any other I've made.  My only regrets are that it's not larger and that I wasn't able to/didn't try to take smaller stitches.  Even so, I love it.

Remember to visit Blogger's Quilt Festival :: Fall 2018 Edition to see lots of other quilts.  And if you'd like to participate with one or two of your own quilts, write a post and link it.  Thank you for hosting this wonderful event, Amy!

--Nancy.
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Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Broken Iron, a New Tool, and a Barn Star

My trusty old iron broke a few weeks ago.  Sadly, it was less than two months old so I guess was neither trusty or old.  I knew there was a problem when it began ticking like a time bomb, and I knew it was dead when the ticking stopped and it quit heating altogether.  What is a quilter without an iron?

Then I found a new tool.

roller tool to use for pressing quilt block seams

Quilters on Facebook had mentioned that these little rollers work well for pressing seams.  I doubted its effectiveness but when I found one at a local craft shop in its recycle/up-cycle area, I made a donation and brought it home.  Gosh, it works like a charm for pressing a seam with two fabrics.  I wouldn't use one of these for a all blocks for a whole quilt, especially where seams intersect, but it's great for small seams.  I think it will be handy for pressing log cabin and similar blocks.

And I bought a new electric iron.  I hope it lasts longer than two months!

I finished my first baby quilt block using a variation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars pattern.  I don't have the pattern, which makes about 4" finished blocks.  These blocks will finish at 12".

Large version variation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars block

Kim's blocks are adorable but is that because they're so small?  Do they translate as well to a large block?  I had to fuss with the on-point square in the middle to get the right size and now I wonder if it's too small.  I think it's smaller, proportionately, than the one in her blocks but I think I'll leave it.

The background of this block is a creamy color, a little warmer and slightly golden in real life.  I've cut two more stars using different background fabrics in the same color range.  All three have small, unobtrusive prints.  When I choose such similar fabrics for backgrounds I often question whether scrappy/variety would add more interest.  The color ranger for this quilt is here.

Linking to
> Works in Progress at Silly Mama Quilts 
> Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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