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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Friday, September 7, 2018

A Baby Quilt for September's One Monthly Goal

As I pondered my choice of a goal for September my first thought was just survive September.  August was a challenge but perhaps less so than September will be.  There's too much on my plate and part of what made August busy has shifted into September.  But really, just getting through the month isn't much of a quilting goal.  So I reevaluated.

I want to make a baby quilt for my new grandson, arriving in November, but time is short so I have to choose a simple pattern that I feel fairly certain I can make quickly and quilt easily.  I decided on an autumn theme.



I considered maple leaves but then saw the quilt below in Summer 2017 issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects.  The blocks are 13" square!  And a baby quilt!  I don't know why large blocks for a baby quilt should be such a novel idea, but it was.


And then I remembered this Simple Whatnots pattern by Kim Diehl, and wondered how it would look as a 12" block.  Just fine, I thought.  I don't have the pattern but I don't want such small blocks anyway.


So I glued together some graph paper and drew up a pattern.  I wouldn't have needed one for a 12" block except that I wasn't sure the size for those tiny on-point squares in the center.  These blocks look like they have small squares placed on top of larger squares, then sewn diagonally.  In truth the size doesn't matter but for aesthetic appeal, I think it will make a difference.


Then on to choosing fabric.  The fabrics below, with colors that are close but not exact, are candidates for autumn stars.  Some are reproduction-style, others are ones I thought might work.  Would you add or remove any for an autumn color palette?





















Instead of using a light fabric for the stars I'll use colors as in the first photo.  I'll need only 12 fabrics  so I suppose I should audition 12 together at a time and see what I think.  Or maybe just begin by making a star with one of the fabrics I definitely want to use.  What shall it be?!

Before I make stars I need to choose background fabric/color.  It's more like me to use a variety of fabrics for the backgrounds but using the same fabric might unify the quilt a little more.  And I plan to use sashing as in Kim Diehl's quilt.

All that being said, my One Monthly Goal for September is to make a dozen 12" autumn stars (including all the decisions leading up to the finished stars).  I also hope to get them sewn into a top but am not claiming that as part of the goal for September.

And about the survival goal:  I'm sure I'll survive, just possibly a little worse for the wear.

I'm linking this post One Monthly Goal - September Goal link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

--Nancy.
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Friday, August 31, 2018

Sweet Land of Liberty for August

Uneven stars?  Sure, no problem, I can make uneven stars.  I made a bunch for my Gwenny Medallion quilt. 


Oh, wait!  How do I do this again?  Making uneven stars is not like riding a bicycle!  I had trouble getting the first few angles right and had to unstitch several points, then ended with stars that are smaller than Cheri's.  These stars were a challenge.  And while I was making them without using the paper-piecing pattern because I don't paper-piece, it occurred to me that I was reinventing the wheel.  It's so much easier when one follows the program.  But there are some of us who have the need to go our own way....

These are my efforts for the Sweet Land of Liberty sew-along hosted by Lori of Humble Quilts.  Many thanks to Lori for organizing this sew-along.  It is both a challenge and fun.  Below are the parts I finished for August and notes about the change I made.  I'm a little further behind now than I was at the beginning of the month.  I think it's a good possibility I won't catch up to finish with everyone else who's participating, but so it goes.

I changed the flag.  A real U.S. flag has red stripes on both outer edges so I edited the pattern a little.  (I'm such a realist sometimes.)  My stripes are wider.  I'm happier with the balance.  The union will be at the top (as in the photo above), not at the bottom as Cheri stitched it in her original quilt.  I may add a star or three to the union (but definitely not the pattern's original seven or eight).


I haven't done the little angel with halo and "freedom" yet because I don't want embroidery on a quilt.  But I haven't had time to buy one more pen/marker to test for wash-ability and write-ability on fabric.  If I can get to the store this weekend to get one, I will have three different pens to try out.  When I learn which works I'll have several blocks to "embroider" with a pen.  I still need to choose fabric for the background and letters, then make and embroider them.  The yellow/golds below are possibilities for the crown but I may choose something darker.


The log cabin and eagle block is finished except for appliqueing to his side.


I haven't yet made the little embroidered remembrance block with the two birds and heart.  It's all embroidery on the pattern so I probably won't use pen to draw it but I may try to find a pattern to applique something similar.  Or stitch a pieced block.

So, if you write on fabric and want it to be permanent, what kind of pen or marker do you use?  Does it write smoothly on fabric?  Did you try pens/markers that you didn't like?

I'm linking this post to Month Sweet land of Liberty Linky party at Humble Quilts.  Thanks, Lori.

I'm also linking to BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts.  Thank you, Lynette.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Borders on Everyday Patchwork Blocks

I completed my goal of putting borders around the Everyday Patchwork sampler blocks.


These blocks are arranged in no particular order.  About half of the borders are in the neutral/brown/tan/grey range and the rest are colors.  I regret that I did not have a single navy/dark blue to use for one of the blocks.

When my husband saw a photo of Cheri's quilt on her blog (close-up here) he said it didn't look unified to him.  I told him I thought the black sashing and outside borders unified it.  But as I was cutting and sewing these borders I wondered if having all the borders the same fabric and color would have helped unify the quilt even more.  Well, I'm not changing those borders now.

For the most part I'm happy with the blocks and the borders, but I bit the bullet on a few of the blocks by trimming them to 6½", thereby having a few points cut off.  I tell myself everything (cut off points, borders, colors) will be fine when the quilt is finished.

Getting these borders on was my One Monthly Goal for August.  I'm linking up to One Monthly Goal August Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.

For now I'm linking to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts and
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fun Photos - Really Random Thursday

What fun bright colors on this
sweet little prop cart at the Columbus Zoo.
colorful cart at the Columbus Zoo

I appreciated the moiré effect created by the poles.
moiré effect on colorful cart at the Columbus Zoo


I love zinnias' radiant colors and
can hardly resist taking photos when I see them.
coral colored zinnia


At the farmer's market I occasionally see unusual color combinations like these shallots in aqua pint containers...
shallots in aqua pint containers

...and these brown eggs in a chartreuse carton
sitting on a turquoise bag.
brown eggs in a chartreuse carton  sitting on a turquoise bag


I didn't buy this earaser but thought it could be useful if someone says something I really didn't want to hear or I say something I wish I hadn't.  (If only it were so easy.)
an earaser
Please tell me I'm not the only one who loves the little prayer,
"Lord, please keep Your arm around my shoulder
and Your hand over my mouth."


This is my 12-year-old Airedale girl, Hannah, rescued from abuse when she was about two.  We failed as foster parents:  when she fell in love with us and we with her, she stayed.

Airedale Terrier Hannah


The graphic quality of this wheel on the zoo cart caught my eye.
wheel of cart at Columbus Zoo


I loved this beautiful plate I saw at the thrift store.
Now I wish I'd bought it.
antique China plate with roses and other flowers

Do you take photos of things that capture your eye or attention, too?

--Nancy.
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