Sampler Shenanigans and Other Sewing

20 04 2014

Piracy Warning

In a bout of ‘darn it, I want to do this!’, I finally broke down and bought¬†twenty yards of gray solid fabric from Connecting Threads.

Yes, you read that right. TWENTY YARDS.

It arrived on Thursday, and I managed to ignore it for most of the evening after work. I couldn’t take it, though, and at about 11:00 PM, I decided that I would sew instead of sleep. Three hours later, I had two complete Dear Jane blocks.

A-1 Pinwheel Gone Awry

A-2 One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

They’re not perfect, but pretty good for 5″ finished blocks. Regardless, I’m thrilled with the way the orange and purple glow off the grey.

Continuing the mood to be making something other than scrap blocks, I then decided that I wanted to make another sampler. So, I started going through my quilting books, pretty sure I’d purchased a Jennifer Chiaverini sampler book at some point. I had, but as I was looking through it, I was distinctly not thrilled with it. (I keep looking at the Gypsy Wife Sampler by Jennifer Kingwell, though.)

So, I decided to just make 6″ blocks until I’m happy with the number, and then figure out a setting when I get there. I have enough quilt block reference books that choosing blocks shouldn’t be a problem. I started with Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns and made the following three blocks through Saturday. I’m just picking fabrics from my stash. The only consistency that I want is that each block have a grey or black neutral fabric in it.

Sampler Shenanigans 01 - Arrowhead Puzzle

Sampler Shenanigans 02 - Cheyenne

Sampler Shenanigans 03 - Windmill

I also completed another 12″ X 18″ scrappy panel, for a future place mat. These go quickly when they’re my leader/ender sewing.

Placemat 02

My big project for Saturday was the reorganization of my sewing area. I’d added a wireless printer to my setup with the new year, and due to the way my cutting/iron/stuff table was situated, I lost half the table to wasted space. The ‘stuff’ was also taking over.

So, I got tired of it, and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I started reorganizing my space. It took a good part of the day, especially when it came time to put all of my fabric back in the cabinet it had come out of (there was no way I was moving the cabinet while it was full – fabric’s HEAVY!)

Sewing Space Redone

When all was said and done, my sewing space feels a lot more open, and is a lot more useful. I can just swivel on my stool to access cutting station, ironing station and sewing machine. My printer is in arm’s reach, but isn’t wasting space. I added a thread rack to the wall, on which I’m only storing my Connecting Threads spools. I don’t use anything else for piecing, and it’s rare that I use something else for quilting. The bottom row of the spool rack is reserved for bobbins at the moment, though I might add a smaller rack for that purpose.

Regardless, I’m very pleased with my progress for the weekend. I plan to do more sewing today, though. It feels good to just being sewing.

Early Morning Photos

2 03 2013

Completed Farmer's Wife Top

I woke up this morning and just needed to photograph the Farmer’s Wife Sampler top, henceforth known as Technicolor Fields – now that it is a top, hehe. I grabbed shoes, coat, top, and camera, then headed into the frigid morning to document the awesome. Thankfully, I have no neighbors in this building that have dogs – no unfriendly surprises in the snow in front of my building!

It’s freaking cold at 6:00 AM in Wisconsin in winter, never mind that we’re supposedly heading into spring this month.

I took the above photo, and a couple more, trying to find higher ground, to no avail. I’m only 5’4″, and the snow piles weren’t giving me much height.

Then I remembered that we have access to the balcony that overlooks the front lawn! I dashed upstairs, opened the door to the closet leading to the balcony, and about gave up. I forgot that hubby has been using it for storage.

Still, I was determined. With some strategic shuffling, and some sucking in of the gut, I achieved my goal and was above Technicolor Fields!

Behold! In all its glory:

A View From Above

*happy shuffle* *happy shuffle*

It’s done! It’s done!

Now I’m going to start the Dear Jane Sampler again.

Done at Last!

25 02 2013

Well, mostly, lol.

In a marathon of paper-piecing, I completed the last three replacement blocks for the Farmer’s Wife Sampler!

#022 Corn and Beans Before and After

I can’t decide which of these Corn and Beans blocks I prefer, honestly. I love the fabrics in both of them, and would have kept the first iteration for inclusion in the sampler. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off the ‘fit to paper’ sizing and the block came out 1/2″ too small. The second version came together much easier than the first version – I stared enough at the block to realize that the default paper-piecing groups were actually pretty awkward and counter-intuitive, so I re-grouped the piecing before printing.

#043 Garden Path

I actually prefer the first version of Flower Garden Path – I much prefer the background fabric. That said, I kind of adore the way the black and white fabrics work together. My improved piecing skills show in the second version, at least to my eyes. You probably can’t really tell from the photo, but there’s a lot less of a wave to the block and the seams lie a lot better. My points are a lot sharper too, this time around.

#036 Flower Garden Path Before and After

Yesterday, I was pretty sure that I loved the first version of Garden Path much better, but now that I look at it, I’m actually digging the second block. It feels more effective with the gray as the background print. Plus, the pink fabric is super cute ūüėČ It’s a Dear Stella, print, by the way.

Eight Pointed Star

And then to wrap things up, I made this Eight Pointed Star block from 1001 Patchwork Design by Maggie Malone. This block will be replacing #037 Flower Pot. I seriously dislike Flower Pot – it’s such a heavily weighted block, in so far as balance and design go. Of course, I do have a distinct preference for my blocks to be bilaterally symmetrical.

Now, I can focus on completing the top itself – much easier now that the last of the fabrics I needed for the setting have arrived. I’m thinking I might push through to try and finish that today, since I’m home. (I took the day off for a much needed eye exam.) However, to do that, I really, really need to pick up a small rolling chair for the sewing desk. My body was very not happy with me after I finished those three blocks yesterday, sitting in the dining chair.

Anyway, I’m off for now! Time to go get cleaned up.

Three More Down

23 02 2013

Farmer's Wife Linky Button

I meant to be done with the do-overs by now, but I keep falling asleep around 10:00 PM lately. Thus, no sewing time. Not a big deal, though. I got three more done on Friday, which leaves me with four more blocks. I’m hoping I can crank those out this afternoon.

#100 Weathervane Before and After

I was actually very happy with the first iteration of Weathervane. Unfortunately, when I ironed this block, the white print picked up some black residue, delineating the seams. So, into the re-do pile it went. Very happy with the second version. I decided to use some AMH, paired with a couple of Joann’s fabrics. At this point, I’m not going to use white in any of the remaining blocks – I have enough ‘white and bright’ blocks for the rest of the top.

#104 Wild Geese Before and After

This is another block with which I was very happy. Unfortunately, I failed to print the paper piecing templates out at the correct size, meaning I forgot to turn scaling for paper size off. Regardless, I’m actually much happier with the new block. The colors are richer and the grey balances them well.

#110 Wood Lily Before and After

Separately, I love all three prints that I used in the first version of Wood Lily. Too bad for me that the scale and shading of the purple print is far to close to that of the black background print, and it disappears a bit. Enter another do-over, lol. I’d somehow forgotten that I had that black print in my stash – I think because it wasn’t stored with the bulk of my stash. It was in a pile of washed fabrics that I’d never gotten around to ironing and folding once they were out of the dryer.

I cannot truly express how excited I am to be so close to being done with the Farmer’s Wife Sampler blocks! According to Flickr, I posted my first blocks on June 20, 2011. It’s been approximately 21 months in the making so far, though there was a six month or so hiatus from the project because I am occasionally really, really stupid, and ‘lost’ eleven blocks when I really hadn’t.

I’m so very ready to move on, and am eagerly awaiting fabric to finish the settings. After that, I can begin the adventure of quilting the thing. I’m sure I’ll be ready to hang myself for being silly enough to want to do the quilting myself, but ah, well.

Part of the reason that I’m so ready to move on, is that I’m ready to start another sampler:

Dear Jane Plan

That’s right! It’s the Dear Jane Sampler. And, yes, I know I’m completely insane. I bought the fabrics a couple of years ago, and finally picked up the the Electric Quilt Company software, so I’m ready to go! I have a feeling I’ll end up re-drafting a couple of blocks, as I noticed that the software’s drafting seemed counter-intuitive to easier piecing or simplified applique.

No matter though! I’m excited to get too work on Jane, and will be starting this weekend, if all goes well.

Another Day, Another Do-Over

19 02 2013

Or three.

Maybe I’m nuts, but I just can’t help re-visiting some of these Farmer’s Wife blocks and wondering just what I was doing when I put certain fabrics together. Or where in the world I learned to measure an accurate 1/4″ seam, since some of the blocks just didn’t come out at the right sizes.

But that’s what do-overs are for, right? Going back and making things better.

#015 Buzzard's Roost1. #015 Buzzard’s Roost, 2. #015 Buzzard’s Roost

I ended up using my pre-cut scraps for the re-do of Buzzard’s Roost. I think I’m now officially out of that black print, which is kind of sad. It was a favorite for a long time.

Squash Blossom1. #086 Squash Blossom, 2. #086 Squash Blossom

I’m so much happier with Squash Blossom now that I’ve redone it! The first version was just too ‘meh’. I attribute that to the really bland background fabric and the deep green print. Together, they’re just snooze-worthy. I decided to play around and use that pink plaid. That’s a print that I never expected to like so much.

Spider Legs1. #082 Spider Legs, 2. #082 Spider Legs

I actually meant for this block to be reversed – black for the ‘spider’, and the aqua for the background. Either way, very pleased. This time around, I remembered to alternate the direction in which the seams were ironed, making the final construction very easy. I was also conscious to pick thinner fabrics. I’ll have to remember both tricks when I’m ready to re-do Wood Lily.

At this point, I’m done with seven of the fourteen blocks that need to be re-done. Yay! I’m going to try to get through Wood Lily and the replacement block for Flower Pot tonight.

Some Sewing on the FWS

17 02 2013

Yesterday, I was able to join Sandi at her house to sew – Grandma felt up to trying a day of watching kiddo. It was very nice to spend some unbroken time with the sewing machine!

While I was there, I managed to get another row of the Farmer’s Wife Sampler put together. The blocks were done, but I needed to sew on the setting triangles and strips, then trim them down. I wasn’t able to sew the new row onto the quilt top until I got home, but I got a photo of the quilt top in its current state after we closed up shop at the mall today:

Farmer's Wife So Far

I need to iron it still, but I’m not worrying about that yet.

Tonight, while hubby and friends watched the WWE pay-per-view, I got a couple of Farmer’s Wife blocks re-made:

The Evolution of Calico Puzzle1. #016 Calico Puzzle, 2. #016 Calico Puzzle, 3. #016 Calico Puzzle

Evolution of Evening Star1. #031 Evening Star, 2. #031 Evening Star

As I go through these and do the re-makes, it’s more and more clear that I really lean toward the clear tones of colors. The more ‘muddy’ a print is, the less likely I am to really like it. It’s also fun to see how much doing this sampler has pushed my piecing skills. I’m far more accurate now than I was when I started this project.

Also fairly cool for me, I re-made these blocks from the scraps I cut down over this past week, so scrap management is working for me. At least a little.

I decided on three more blocks that need re-doing. No big surprise there. I handle these blocks and just need to re-work some as i look at them. They’re either not in the colors that I would like, or they’re not up to my piecing standards.

Now, I’ve got to put the kiddo down to bed. After that, I’m going to attempt to do a couple more re-makes before I have to hit the hay myself, to get through work all right tomorrow.

Basket Replacements

29 01 2013

Rather than attempt to sleep this cold off (which I should have been doing), I decided to start tackling the Farmer’s Wife Sampler again. Tonight was not a night to crawl around on the floor and decide what blocks should go where in the setting, so I worked on do-overs.

Only two blocks done tonight, but the important thing is to keep moving, and not be discouraged, despite other activities that might take me away from sewing. Take, for instance, tomorrow. The plan is to hit the gym after work, and then come home and make dinner, all the while keeping kiddo entertained.

As long as my sinuses have decided to stop trying to escape my face.

Lovely image, no?

The imaginatively named ‘Basket’, taken from Jinny Beyer’s ‘The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns’, page 74, # 9.

I am so done with basket blocks. So very done. And let’s not even comment on the fact that apparently my brain is trained to think of baskets in black, white, and red. Basket BOM, anyone?

Indian Hatchet
‘Indian Hatchet’ – also taken from Jinny Beyer’s ‘The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns’, this time, page 74, # 7. Really, I just wanted a block to show off that grey print. Oh, and something that wasn’t a freaking basket block. Seriously, I might rage-quit the next project that decides to throw a freaking basket block at me.

My goal for while I’m at lunch tomorrow now is to print the paper-piecing templates for¬† the rest of the blocks that will need such. That way, after being a virtuous monkey tomorrow, I can indulge in some guilt-free sewing.