Friday, August 6, 2021

Coastal Cool

I got a couple of months behind with the "My Favorite Color is Moda" quilt along on the Moda blog. I finished these two blocks, a 36" block, and a few others before the end of May but neglected to make the ones for June and July. 

Yesterday I put the pedal to the metal and cranked out 13 blocks. Not all of them are on the wall because I am trying to sew smaller sections together as I get the blocks made. This morning I finished 2 more, so now I am all caught up through the month of August. 

I am well past halfway through the blocks now, and 3 or 4 of the ones that are left are a lot more complicated. There are also 4 blocks composed of these units, which are simple enough to make but which I generally have trouble with. 

These are often times made by placing a smaller square in the corner of the larger square or other shape, drawing a line on the diagonal from corner to corner, and then sewing on that line. And I rarely get them right. I've tried sewing on the line or to the right of the line, and they always seem to be just a little off.

I CAN sew an accurate quarter-inch seam allowance, however; so it occurred to me to just cut away the excess and then sew. It doesn't eliminate the waste triangles, but now I have...

.... perfection!

I have tried the Studio 180 Corner Pop ruler and  Doug Leko's Simple Folded Corner ruler, and those both work well too; but they only eliminate the waste triangle from the larger shape. It's faster for me to use the method above. 

Life is full of trade offs. Time or fabric?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Millenium Charm

First, my profound apologies to those who commented on my post from June and who did not get a response back from me. Blogger fails to forward comment notifications on a regular basis, it seems, and it rarely occurs to me to actually look in the comment section. I just expect the notifications. I don't think I have a setting wrong anywhere because occasionally it works. I've attempted to fix it again by trying a different email address for forwarding. I wish I could get off the Google platform altogether, but I haven't had the courage to try switching to Word Press. 

Anyway, it's been a busy summer. I've been sewing as much as I can, but I haven't accomplished a whole lot. Only two quilts this year on the completed list. Doesn't bother me a bit. After I ditched the One Monthly thing, I decided to work on what I felt like on any given day. Sometimes projects came out of the closet for a day and then went back in. Sometimes I worked halfway through a project and had enough of it. Quite a few times I assembled the materials for a new project and made just one block to see how I liked it. And I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

The pineapple quilt is still on the frame. I finally got the rest of the errant stitching ripped out about two weeks ago. After chipping away at it for weeks and weeks, I am tired of looking at; but I'm going to have to get cracking on it again. 

My major accomplishment this week is that I have finally finished sewing together all 1,998 triangles for my Y2K quilt. If you've been quilting a long time, you may remember that at the turn of this century, many quilters wanted to make millennium quilts with 2000 pieces. I remember looking at pyramids and log cabins among other things, but my Icelandic friend and I settled on triangles. The number of rows and columns was chosen to incorporate as many as possible, which worked out to be 1,998. My plan now is to add a border and applique the last two triangles someplace in the border. Then I'll add more triangles for every year after 2000, so 23 triangles total. Then I'll add another one next year.

This is also a charm quilt, meaning every one of the 1,998 triangles is a unique fabric. Accomplishing this was no small task. In the year 2000, my collection of fabrics fell way short of this goal, so I resorted to the purchase of a 2000-piece anniversary collection of 4" squares from Keepsake Quilting. Not all of those pieces were usable however. There were duplicates; and there were some that were unusable, primarily those that were multicolored or large scale prints. I made the effort to use all the rest. 

Over the years, many triangles were added and subtracted. It was relatively easy to weed out the duplicates of the dark fabrics, but the light colored fabrics proved more challenging. So for each color group, I tried to use light colored fabrics that contained bits of the same color as its companion. For example, the lights in the yellow grouping all had touches of yellow in the light print. That made it a lot easier to weed out duplicates in each color group. 

After I got the top half of the quilt together, which was years ago, I think I came across one duplicate. I've never been able to locate it again, so maybe one day I'll have a contest and give a prize to the person who finds it. 

I used all kinds of fabrics in the quilt--batiks, stripes, dots, plaids, 30s repros, civil war repros, modern--but no solids. I also incorporated fun little novelty fabrics when I could, like this hot dog...


... and this golf ball and tee. My mother-in-law was a golfer, so it reminds me of her. 

All those triangle seams inevitably create a lot of bulk, so on the back I twirled quite a few of them. The bottom third of the top is all twirled, but I didn't always do that in the top two thirds. Wish I'd been more consistent about that. 

Not sure yet what I'll do for the border. Probably black, I guess, but I'll have to see what it looks like. I don't really want the center to look smaller. I also thought about tan with a black binding. For now, I'm just so happy to get the rest of the top done.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Getting Back into the Blogosphere

The weather has finally warmed in Maine with temps in the 70s. We have four or five days of hot weather coming up, then back into the 70s. Black flies are out and about as well. I try to load up with bug repellent, and I pay dearly with huge itchy welts if I don't. 

We have been waiting for the landscapers to start on a new back walkway, and they've finally got to it. I'm guessing the walkway is 30+ feet; and they've just started laying the pavers, so they'll be a while. 

Warmer weather also means the violets are in bloom. I discovered that my neighbor's side yard is almost all weeds in the spring, including spectacular amounts of dandelions and violets. I picked blossoms to my heart's content and made some lovely lavender and violet face cream with fresh blossoms infused in water. Also some wild violet cold process soap with dried blossoms infused in oil. 

The left over blossoms were dried and bagged for use this winter. Violet leaves were not so plentiful this year, but Mountain Rose Herbs carries dried violet leaf, and I can make soap with them too.  

Tis also the season for summer cactus. My summer cactus is a very finicky bloomer, so I was excited this morning to discover it is sprouting buds. There are not a bunch yet, but I'm hoping. 

My Christmas cactus, on the other hand, is perpetually confused. It has bloomed nearly continuously since last October. Here it is June, and it's still blooming.
In April I finished Mountain View Lodge, which was a free pattern from Benartex. I've made a couple of these as gifts for men; and this was for a friend of hubby's, who stitched a canvas cover for our pontoon boat last summer. 

I still have quite a lot of fabric left over from this collection, so I used up all of this striped piece on the back. Still didn't have quite enough, so I pieced one stripe with some tan fabric from the collection on either side. 

I am increasingly trying to find ways to use up more fabric from the stash on the back side of my quilts. I recently found a site called Just Get It Done Quilts by Karen Brown, Her YouTube channel is a gold mine of videos on scrap management and other subjects. She also has one called The Afterquilt. That video illustrates the process she uses to incorporate scraps left over from the front of a quilt into a pieced back. Very useful information.

The only other quilt I've finished this year is a quickie strippy. After having been off the quilt frame for so long, I figured a little practice was in order. Plus, these strippys are mindless and fast to put together, which sometimes provides a necessary respite from more complicated piecing. I'd like to have a stack of these tops available for practicing machine quilting.

Besides not having as much time to quilt as I'd like, the other reason I've been slow to get things done this year is because I've been working pretty consistently on two UFOs in particular that have been exceedingly time consuming. 

I finally finished the pineapple top and got it loaded on the longarm right away, intending to complete it before quilt show registration closed in May. I stitched out two rows in a thread color that didn't work, in a pattern that didn't work. It's been sitting on the frame for weeks now because picking out two rows of stitching takes a really long time and really kills my back. I'm still chipping away at it in increments of 15 or 20 minutes, and I don't have too much more to go. But that also means that I can't get anything else quilted because I am NOT taking this thing off the frame.  

I also resurrected my Y2K millennium charm quilt--again. I blogged about this quilt at the end of October in 2014, and that's probably the last time I worked on it. I am finishing up the last three rows of triangles, then it's time to sew all the rows together and add a border. This top is NOT going back in the closet again.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

New Year, New Projects

The weather has been bone chilling this month, especially at night; but we don't have much snow on the ground. When we first moved to Maine nearly 20 years ago, the snow might be up to my waist some winters, but not anymore. Snowmobilers and skiers aren't happy about it, but I'm fine with it. Pandemic or not, I've stayed in because it's just too darn cold to go out. 

The holidays passed uneventfully. My sister-in-law was here for two weeks, and it was nice to have the company. We worked on a puzzle together, something I hadn't done in years; and I enjoyed it so much that I hauled out a few more and built those too. The last one was 2000 pieces, and I have one left I haven't built yet that is 3000 pieces. That might be big enough, lol. Ravensburger, whom I heard from my SIL is a premiere puzzle maker, has one that is over 40,000 pieces. Can't imagine. 

Hardly any sewing got done in December because of the festivities and company, but I did manage to get the Holiday Extravaganza top put together. These fabrics were a collection from Alison Glass, and I just love them. Not a clue how I'm going to quilt this yet. 

Nothing much got done in January either, but the Christmas Cards I was working on as a leaders and enders project is now a finished top as well. The letters are machine embroidered, and the tiny Christmas bulbs make them look like strings of lights. No clue how I am going to quilt this one either. 

I'm not in the mood for One Monthly Goal anymore, preferring to start new projects and skip around between the new ones and the old ones. I updated it and left it in the sidebar simply as a space holder so I could remember how to do the html if I go back to it at some point. There seem to be a bunch of sew alongs that started in January, and I decided to follow along with a couple of them. 

Michelle Renee Hiatt's Best of the 60s mystery quilt actually started in mid December. This block of the week focuses on the use of Studio 180's Star 60 ruler; and as you can see, all of the blocks so far have been 60-degree pieced triangles. Clues up through clue 11 have been posted, but I've only worked up through clue 8 because I am having a bit of trouble with fabric choices. That should be resolved by clue 13, and then I can get back to work. 

There are three of each block so far, and I'm wondering if the entire quilt will be pieced blocks or if there will be any plain filler blocks.

I've had a couple sizes of Strip Sticks for quite a while, and they're working especially well to press open all the seams in these blocks. Batiks press up well anyway, but the strip stick helps my blocks stay nice and flat. 

For those who might not know, strip sticks are wood sticks covered with a thin layer of padding and some muslin. They are flat on one side and rounded on the other, making them especially handy for ironing strip sets. In blocks like these triangular blocks where there are a lot of seams close together, the strip stick is superb at isolating one seam so you don't accidentally mess up any surrounding seams with the iron. 

In February, Moda started a monthly sew along called My Favorite Color is Moda.Sampler style quilts are suddenly appealing to me again, so I bought a kit of fabrics in a colorway I liked plus the pattern book and got started.

I have never like working with solids, and this kit is all solids. Some of the fabrics in my Holiday Solstice were solids, hand dyed fabrics with a little texture actually, which I liked. So I decided I would give this a try. So far I'm bored, lol, but I think it will get better. 

The blocks in the sampler are variously sized, and block 1 is the largest at 36" square, big enough for a one-block baby quilt. I didn't imagine this block was so big in the picture above, but it's a pretty big quilt. 

The projects above are on hold for the time being, so I've switched gears to pineapple blocks. The colored blocks were swap blocks from years ago, and I dug them out two summers ago to work on at camp. The colored blocks are finished now and sewn together in rows of two; and I'm working on a border of blue pineapple blocks at the moment.

I've always been a slow sewist, slow at everything really; and these blocks take a long time for me to make. I'm about halfway there, and if I can make  two a day or every other day, I can finish the rest by the end of the month. Then there is another pieced border and some plain borders, so there's still a lot of work left to do. My goal is to have the quilt completely finished by mid May in time to register it for Maine Quilts 2021. It's virtual again this year, so the quilt has to be finished to take the photo.

Working with scraps always seems to beget more scraps, and the pineapple blocks are no exception. I continue to accumulate strings from strips that are no longer wide enough to use in a round. Coincidentally, I came across this block on Pinterest the other day, and a light bulb went on. This block is absolutely perfect to use up the blue strings, along with smaller chunks. I decided that my only rule for these blocks was that the fabrics had to be predominantly blue. Other than that, I don't care if the fabrics are prints, plaids, batiks, calicos, whatever. As long as they read blue, they're going in. No worries either about contrast or value, just sew them together. How refreshing! Mindless sewing at its best.

The pattern for this block linked from Pinterest to If you search on Eastern Sunrise, you'll find it. It's 7-1/2" finished, and it's paper pieced, but that's not a hard and fast rule for me. If my strings are too narrow, I'll add more until the paper is filled. Plus they're pretty fast for me to make, a lot faster than pineapples anyway. A size 90 needle and a 1.5 stitch length makes quick work of removing the paper. Put together in rows, these blocks kind of remind me of barbed wire. I love this!

I plan to go through the stash and cull all my blue fabrics that are ugly, unappealing, old as the hills, or problematic in some way, and cut them up for this quilt. I could probably use the ones that are fat-quarter size or larger and piece them together for the back. Probably won't put a dent in it, lol. I also have a stack of muslin I've been trying to figure out what to do with, and these blocks will be perfect for that too.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

One Monthly Goal for December

My favorite thing to do is quilting, and my favorite quilting thing to do is piecing--units and blocks. Which is why I have 3 almost finished tops at the moment. I decided to join the One Monthly Goal bandwagon once again because it is a good motivator, so my goal for the month of December is to finish the aforementioned 3 tops. 

To see what others are working on this month, visit Elm Street Quilts here.

In last month's post, I uploaded a photo of the holiday medallion I've been working on, Holiday Solstice. The only difference between that photo and this month's photo is that the quilt is now sitting on the table instead of on the design wall. The rest of the borders have still not been added. There is one more pieced border to add plus 2 plain borders for a total of 3 more borders. I want to get this top done!

This was last year's holiday medallion mystery quilt from Michelle Renee Hiatt called Holiday Extravaganza. I am in the process of adding pieced borders....

... and I still have to finish the round I'm on, plus one more pieced border, plus 2 plain borders. I want to get this top done!

Then there's this--blocks and parts of blocks, and none of it has been put together yet. So the third top I would like to try and finish this month is Ticker Tape Parade, another Michelle Renee Hiatt mystery quilt from last year. I want to get this top done!

If I really put some serious effort into it, I could probably get the first two tops put together in a week; but there are just too many other things to do. Well, anyway, 3 finished tops is the goal this month. 

My little Leaders and Enders envelope blocks are also coming along. I think I probably have a pile of about 25 by now. Also, I lied in my last post--these will finish to 2-1/2", not 3". 

These little blocks are composed of 4 half square triangle units. I could have used a flying geese unit for part of the envelope, but it didn't occur to me to do that immediately. Going forward, I'll try that if the remaining scraps I have for this project are large enough. 

It is stunning how rapidly Covid is spreading everywhere, including in Maine. Today we had the largest single day total of new cases since the pandemic started. I wonder if people are throwing caution to the wind because they are so fatigued with all of it. Two of the people in our family circle decided to visit the Maine Mall on Black Friday, and the mall was packed that day; so we cancelled our plans to have our granddaughter up for the weekend, which was disappointing. Just didn't want to take the risk. At Christmas time, we may just have to do a drive by and throw the kids' gifts out the window.

Stay safe, everyone!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving


We are having one guest for dinner today, my younger son. We don't get to see him so often, so we're happy about that. Sharing a good meal with family and a few minutes of sewing on the side is a satisfying day. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Poking Along

It's been a while since I've blogged, and it's been a long, looong year. My family has stayed well throughout the pandemic, as I hope all of you have; but I am suffering from covid fatigue, election fatigue, civil unrest fatigue, and husband fatigue, and I know I am not alone. And by the looks of it, there is no end in sight to any of it. So! Perhaps reading and connecting with my favorite bloggers again will help!

We were up to camp more often this summer because hubby is now retired (husband fatigue). We have no internet up there, and cell phone service is sketchy; so I missed the first couple One Monthly Goal signups after the end of June. I was also discouraged with it because I won a prize in April and still haven't seen it. The host has responded to my queries, but still nothing. I haven't decided if I'll restart the OMG or not, even though I've left the widget in my sidebar.

Maine Quilts 2021, which is normally held at the end of July, has already been canceled; and we are gearing up for a virtual show instead. My quilt chapter, like so many others, has not met since February; and locally, quilt chapters most likely won't meet again for many months. Covid is rising sharply in Maine, as it is everywhere. In the meantime, I updated my UFO Challenge in the side bar from a group challenge with my chapter to a personal one. Lofty goals, and I may not finish a thing, but there it is. 

I have just been playing in my sewing room since July, making a few blocks here and there for new projects, experimenting, and learning new tools. I've probably said it before, but I am a big fan of the Studio 180 rulers. It is exactly the same concept as oversizing half square triangle units and then squaring them up; and the rulers work perfectly for a variety of units. 

Michelle Renee Hiatt is one of the certified instructors who branched out on her own, and I like her designs a lot. Even took a couple of classes with her at Maine Quilts one year. Last year, I discovered she was doing a holiday mystery medallion quilt, but I was too late to get in on it, so I had to buy the pattern. Michelle leaves each clue up for one week only. After that, if you miss a clue, you have to buy it. Still working on that one. 

This year her holiday mystery medallion was Holiday Solstice. It was a whole lot of sewing, and it looks complicated; but these blocks go together easily with the Studio 180 rulers. I still have to finish adding the last pieced border, then a couple of plain borders, then it will be Ready To Quilt. 

Her next mystery, Best of the 60s, starts this Friday. This one is not a freebie, but she offered a great price for the clues if you signed up right away. There is an awful lot of work for her in the instructions sheets, so I think it's fine for her to charge for the patterns. I bought one of the batik fabric packs she suggested, so I'm all set. Can't wait to get started. 

I've had one finish since July--this little Thimbles quilt. It measures about 9" x 12". I had a small bag of scraps that all coordinated, so I cut out the thimbles and pieced them as a Leaders and Enders project. Bonnie's Leaders and Enders challenges are fun to do, and I love the concept; but I don't seem to have the patience to work on a big project like that for a year. It finally occurred to me that making mini quilts as L&E projects holds my interest much better and greatly shortens the time to finish.

My next L&E mini is going to be an envelope quilt, made with a  baggie of Christmas 30s repros someone gave me. These little blocks will finish to 3" square.