Thursday, May 28, 2015

Playing in the Garden

I have been neglecting my sewing room to play in the garden. I will take pictures another day as the bugs are out en mass now.
I am trying to identify some of the things planted in a garden area that has been neglected and is over grown. My daughter wants to dig everything up an re purpose the area but I think there might be some interesting things growing there and before we discard anything we should find out what it is.

Today I found this little flower? or maybe not a flower. This is a shot of it where it is growing. It is about 6 -8 inches tall and  the leaves are like a sparse clump of skinny grass. It was difficult to get a good shot because it is so short and it is hard for me to get down  on the ground and harder still to get up again if I get down on the ground. All the leaves and other debris don't help either.
These two shots were taken indoors with it propped up in a glass with a piece of cardboard behind it. The stem is stiff and the trilobed flowers appear succulent.
I would love to know what this is. If it is not something invasive or bad to grow in some way, It is kind of cute and different; I would like to keep it and see what happens.

After today I should have an easier time getting up and down to work in the garden. I ordered a  garden kneeler/bench and it came today.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Reason I Can't

One of the reasons I can't get my sewing space cleaned up is that I keep pulling more things out of boxes and baskets.
When I was looking for the blue print fabric for the star quilt I found these 2 blocks in the scrap box. The one on the right was finished but the other was in 4 parts. I took them out of the scrap box and set them aside to put away in the "odd block" box. Of course before I but them away I had to sew that one block together.

I was starting to put everything away where it belongs and I found a number of pieces and parts leftover from the Mary Ellen Hopkins challenge quilt. I decided to sew the odds and ends together into blocks so I could put them in the odd block box.

My odd block box is the largest box on my shelf. I have the feeling that if I ever decide to make an "Everything But" quilt it will have to be more than one quilt. I am afraid to really take a good look at the contents of that box.

These baskets are on top of my bookcase. Once upon a time I bought 7 of these baskets to keep on a shelf with current projects. Somehow that got out of hand because the shelf was high and when I was set up to machine quilt they were not easy to reach. I reorganized and four of the baskets were used elsewhere.
On top of my book case, these 3 baskets are reachable and they hold leftover parts from recent quilts and some halfway current projects. This is where I found the parts from the Mary Ellen quilt. All of the leftovers that are not in those odd blocks I just made, will now go into the general scraps that are sorted by color. One of the remaining baskets holds the HST scrap quilt I was working on before I started the Fresh Cut quilt. It is really amazing that it is nicely sorted and ready to be worked on.

I am afraid to look in the other basket!
I will do it....
 but I will wait  until I have everything cleaned up and put away.

But what if............ 
 there is something in that basket
that needs to be put away
 in the same place as the other stuff I have to put away?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Small Finish

Small...... but a finish none the less. I am not getting much quilting done these days. I have been busy with gardening and plant shopping and shopping in general.  Since we moved last year any kind of shopping is very time consuming.  This is big change for me as I was 5 to 15 minutes from most of my everyday shopping places.

I had intended to put a border on this and a striped binding but I could find neither fabrics. I am pretty sure I still have them but I may have bundled them up as a giveaway. I found something to piece  for the backing and some solid blue Kona for the binding. It is 24 inches square and as a table topper it is fine without a border. I quilted in the ditch over all the seams and then corner to corner with variegated red, white and blue using my Bernina # 4 stitch. I didn't want to leave the 4 inch square unquilted.                                                            
 I had planned to finish putting away all the leftovers and scraps from the big quilt project but I have not done it yet. When the weather turned nice I abandoned my sewing room and went out to play with the flowers and to take long walks with the dog. The mess is not going anywhere and I will get to it sooner or later.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Stop on the Way to a Clean Room

I have been cleaning up my sewing space so I can start over and make a new mess. I have been sorting my leftovers from the big quilt project and putting them away in the appropriate places (scrap containers, strips boxes, Ziploc bags of squares sorted by size and larger boxes sorted by color).

Today when I was putting more things away I came across this.

When I went to the April meeting of the Basement Divas, I received a bag that I would have gotten at the Jellyroll Race. One of the "prizes" was a bag containing a 16 inch Star in a Star block, leftover HST"s, a number of 5 inch squares, a bunch of triangles in red, white and blue, and 2 - 5" X WOF
strips. On the left is what I sorted one evening while I watched TV;  the 16 inch block is on the right

I really don't need to have anything more hanging around in an unfinished (or never to be finished) state. So..... I put it up on a blank space on a design board that was just waiting to be put to use.
I made some HST's from some of the already cut triangles and added a row of blocks around the existing block and now I have this 24 inch piece. I think I will look up some dark blue leftover fabric  and use it for a back and binding, maybe a border if there is enough.

Then I will get back to putting everything away.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Back

I finished piecing the back of the Fresh Cut quilt. The backing fabric was 108 inches and I needed it to be about10 inches wider. I pieced a section that is 13 inches wide and if that is too wide for the long arm it can be trimmed. Working with a quilt this large has been a monumental task quite an adventure for me. Last evening Jack helped me measure the backing to cut for the pieced insert. He held the tape measure in place on the edge while I marked for the cutting line. The piece we were marking was 120 inches long and we spread it out on the dining room table and clamped it to the edges to the table so it wouldn't slip.

Below on the left, is a photo of the insert piece all stretched out in my sewing room on 2 - 4 x 8 ft, tables with a 3 drawer chest in between. The top right shows it stretched out ready to pin to one of the large backing sections. The bottom right shows my stuffed goose that I made about 30 years ago. He is usually hard at work as a doorstop but he did a good job of keeping the fabric on the table. My Lifetime tables have an edge that makes clamping to the edge not possible.

 This closeup is a collage of the individual blocks, more or less in order. I used leftover pieces and strips to make the sections and separated them with strips of the backing fabric. I used 12 inch long backing fabric strips on both ends so that the pieced sections of the strip will not be trimmed away after the long arm quilting is finished.

Top and backing pressed and folded and ready to go the the long arm quilter.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

TA Da!

I finally finished the Fresh Cut quilt top; it is 110 inches square. I have been working on it almost every waking minute for the past week and I am so happy to have it finished. I ordered backing fabric which should be here Monday. I will have to piece the back to make it wide enough but that should be easy compare to the quilt top. I am sending it out to be quilted.
I had a bit of a time deciding how to do the borders. The top without the bordered was 96 inches and I wanted an accent 1.5 inch order. I started to worry that I might get this quilt too large for the long arm. In the end I went with a 3 inch strip in the center and 1.5 inch strips on either side.
 I didn't want to struggle with sewing the border strips on the whole quilt top 3 times so I constructed the borders before sewing them on. I made blocks for the corners to complete the pattern. I probably could have figured out how to use partial seam piecing so that the green strips looked continuous but I gave up thinking about it when I found myself snapping at my husband when he stuck his head in my sewing room to ask me a question.

I did take time out for a couple of days the week before last to make some pot holder/hot pads to exchange at the Basement Diva meeting. It was good to take a break but what was really the best was going to the Diva meeting. Click on the link to see my 2 and  the rest of the pot holders we exchanged. I didn't know how many we were supposed to make so I cut a for a bunch but only brought 2 when I found out we were supposed to bring one. If you know me that makes sense to you. The pot holder that I came home with was the leaf made by Suzie. I can't find the photo that I took of it so you have to see it on the Diva post. That is me with my crown,made by Jan, and scarf, made by Kathy. I missed getting them last month when I missed the Jellyroll Race.

These are 2 of the hot pads, front and back, that I finished from the stack that I had cut. I bought a bundle of fat quarters last fall because they called my name. I had place mats in mind but never got around to making them and they were perfect for the hot pads. For variety, I added a few more left over fabrics from recently completed projects   I found the tutorial here at Sewcanshe blog. They were fun and easy to make and it was a nice diversion. I plan to finish up the rest that I have cut and maybe make some with Christmas fabric.

Friday, April 17, 2015


What do you do when something  is not the way you want it and getting it right is not in sight? You IMPROVISE!
I have been stalling about sewing my blocks together because I really need to see more of the quilt than I could put up on my 4 foot square design space.  So... I hung a 31 x 40 inch portable design board on the wall with Command hooks on one side of the existing design pace. That wasn't wide enough so I taped a 18 inch strip of batting to the wall on the other side. This way I have been able to put almost half of the blocks on the wall.

I will get my design wall right eventually and it is probably my own fault that I didn't get it right in the first place after our move. However, this will work for now.

I really need to make sure that I am distributing the gray patches evenly over the whole quilt. I wish I had taken the gray squares out of the layer cakes before I started but at the time getting out to shop again was not going to happen and after taking out all the white 10 inch squares I needed to keep the gray. They aren't terrible but using them requires more care in placement.

I have been telling myself I could get along without a big design space but the truth is that doing so has almost killed my motivation to quilt. Just having this makeshift design space has made a big difference in my enthusiasm already.

Monday, April 13, 2015


I finished all of the blocks today for the quilt I am working on. I finally feel as though  I am getting somewhere.

This is what I have on my dinky 48 inch square design wall right now; this is only so I could see how the pattern developed with the  "real fabric" blocks.  I am not sure yet how I am going to lay this out without a decent design wall. I am thinking it over. I might have to lay it out and sew it in sections and line them up somehow to see how it looks before I sew the next section. The colors and fabrics are really random so I am not too concerned, but maybe I should be.

There are:
61 - 16 patch blocks (8  x 8  finished size)
60 - X blocks (8  x 8  finished size)
20 - 16 patch half blocks (4  x 8  finished size)
24 - X half blocks (4  x 8  finished size)
2 - 4 patch corner blocks (4  x 4  finished size)

This is the EQ version of the quilt. I have half blocks around the quilt on all four sides  and 4 patches in the corners to complete the pattern. I have the Moda fabrics that I used (Fresh Cut by Basic Grey) in my EQ fabric library s  ,even though I added other fabrics, I was able to have a good idea how it way going to look.
I ordered fabric today for the borders the green for the inner border and and binding and a floral with a pink background for the outer border both from the Fresh Cut line.

Below, on the left, is a box of scraps from ends of strips and narrow strips from fat quarters and other odds and ends of misfits. In the middle there are left over parts from strip piecing and left over strips and 2 1/2 inch leftover connector corner squares. These will all get added to my scrap containers and probably used for "making fabric" and odd scrap projects. 

And then there are the triangles that I cut off of the Connector Corner blocks. I used them for thread  catchers when chain piecing and I will press them and trim the HST's to 1 1/2 inches . There are about 550 give or take a few.  
What will I do with them? 
Maybe I will glue them on my head after I tear my hair out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A nice Surprise

Yesterday I received a sweet surprise in the mail. It is a fabric postcard from Annie (freezeframe030).
I have admired her postcards for a long time and I am delighted to have one. It came through the mail just like this and it is perfect.
I love everything about this postcard and I really like the way the binding is finished, if you click on the link or on my sidebar you can find  tutorial for the binding on her sidebar and also a tutorial for a Christmas tree skirt which I used 3 times.
Thank you Annie!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A New Plan

After a frustrating day yesterday I came up with a new plan for constructing my blocks. I have 2 quilts with this pattern and you would think I knew the best way to put it together. What I forgot was both times I make this I used blocks that someone else constructed or at least made some of the components. Once it was an online 4 patch block swap and once it was my Friendship block swap group. This is what I have up on my tiny (4 ft x 4 ft) design wall. You can see how the pattern works up.

The 3 blocks in the lower right corner show the original block on the top. that worked out very well when I got blocks from the Friendship group.
The lower 2 blocks that are side by side are the two blocks that I am going to make instead. When I sewed those original blocks together yesterday, I made mistakes in the placement over and over. I made mistakes even when I had a sample block right in front of my sewing machine. I think what I did so often was turn the blocks to align the edges I was going to sew; then I turned the block and sewed the wrong edge. This is something I have done many times before over the years. I fall into the habit of thinking about other things when I do something repetitious and simple.  At any rate this is a much better way to do it as it gives me more control over the 16 patch blocks. It doesn't really seem to matter so much how those points are colored as it does for the squares.
I am finally beginning to see some progress; there is a long way to go yet but I  can see that I can gt it done. I am still kicking myself over my pattern and even fabric choices but it is a lesson learned......again.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Time Out Project

I needed a break from the big quilt I am working (and working, and working etc) on. I wanted something simple, quick and upon the wall.
I used the bird panel that I bought recently and just put borders on it and did some simple quilting to look like window panes. I fused the panel to PFD fabric because didn't want to quilt anything except around the rectangles. I know from experience that is not enough to keep those areas from sagging. I also fused the hanging sleeve and the binding when I turned it to the back. Maybe it is more craft than quilt but it is done and everyone here likes it because all of the birds, except the Rose Breasted Grosbeak, have come to the feeder right outside the window.  I may not like it quite as much because I know how little time I put into it.   I still need to block it to make it hang nice and then maybe I will like it more.

Anyway it was a nice break from  making 4 patches and connector corners. I still have 14 pairs of 10 inch strips to sew together and cut into 2 patches beside 4 trays of 2 patches to sew into 4 patches and 200 connector corner blocks to make, that is 400 CC squares to sew on. There is a lot going here too other than the quilt.
  What was I thinking? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Time for a Break

It is time for me to take a break when I make a mistake like this.
I can salvage the block if I want to bother. I can take out a few stitches in the orange triangle and then take the stitches out of the pink connector corner because I have not trimmed the triangles away on the back.

As I am looking at this photo I see another mistake that is ready to happen. The upper left background is a different fabric. I cut a few squares for connector corners from a fabric that I had. I wanted to make  a few trial blocks to see if I really liked this pattern. When I measured the fabric and figured out what I needed, I did not have enough for the quilt. I ordered something else because I did not want to have to fuss around with 2 different background fabrics when it was time to put it all together. I have a deadline for this and I could not have chosen a much more labor intensive project. One more thing to think about would have put my frustration level over the top.
I will take a break from sewing the connector corners and clean up my bits and pieces that are all over the place. A little bit of reducing the clutter should make things run smoother. Maybe I will sew some strips together for 4 patch units before I get back to the connector corners; that should cut down on the boredom factor.