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 😉 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.

The Farmer’s Wife Returns

27 01 2013

That’s right – the old battleaxe has made a reappearance. I became convinced, toward the end of the summer, that I had somehow managed to lose eleven blocks and their setting pieces.

Today, since I’d spent a good chunk of yesterday steaming my living room carpet (though I was interrupted in the middle by my body deciding I needed a nap now), I decided to lay out the top so far, which is about halfway done, on the newly clean and dried carpet. I then started cataloging all of the blocks, marking them off if they were already sewn into the top, or if they were in the stack of blocks to be added. I figured I ought to figure out which blocks needed to be re-made.


I have not lost eleven blocks.

I have, apparently, lost my marbles.

However, in the process of going through the blocks, I decided that nine need to be re-made, for various reasons:

FWS Blocks to Remake1. #082 Spider Legs, 2. #003 Basket, 3. #022 Corn and Beans, 4. #037 Flower Pot, 5. #110 Wood Lily,
6. #035 Flower Basket, 7. #104 Wild Geese, 8. #086 Squash Blossom, 9. #015 Buzzard’s Roost

In order of the photo above:

#082 – Spider Legs – When I originally took the photo, I noticed a yellow stain that had been on the fabric, which I hadn’t noticed when I was mid-piecing. A few months later, the stain is even more yellow and pronounced. Definitely just going to start over with this one rather than take a chance with washing it.

#003 – Basket – I just hate this block, because it has applique, and the handle is not nearly curved enough. Additionally, I’m not thrilled with my fabric choices. I’ll probably replace this block with a pieced basket block. Besides, this one I genuinely can’t find, but I have vague memories of being disgusted with it and pitching it.

#022  – Corn and Beans – I love my fabric choices here. Unfortunately, the block came out about half an inch too small all around, and I refuse to settle and just do a wider setting for it. I put this much effort into the piecing for this, I’m damned well going to be happy with all of it.

#037 – Flower Pot – I just don’t like this block, period. It’s awkward looking, and I don’t like my fabric choices. I will probably pick something to switch in for it.

#110 – Wood Lily – While I love how this block turned out, as far as my fabric choices are concerned, it is also too small.

#035 – Flower Basket – Please see my irritations with #003.

#104 – Wild Geese – Another block in which I’m very happy with the way it came out, and with my fabric choices. Unfortunately, it’s too small.

#086 – Squash Blossom – I intensely dislike my fabric choices for this one. This definitely needs a re-do.

#015 – Buzzard’s Roost – I just don’t like my fabrics choices for this – they’re too similar to another block which has already been included in the top.

I’m looking forward to starting these tonight – we’re having some folks over to watch the Royal Rumble, which means I can sneak off to spend some quality time with my sewing machine. Since my mother-in-law is in a nursing home recovering from her second knee replacement surgery, finding sewing time is difficult.

Saturday’s Sewing

24 01 2013

This past Saturday, I got together with Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts for another sewing day. My goal has been to catch up on the Test Your Skills Sampler, so that I can move on to writing the next tutorials with a clear conscience, and so that I have a top ready to go when all is said and done.

Pinwheel Fillers

Pinwheel filler blocks.. Nice and easy HSTs. The nearly mindless piecing of these was kind of nice.

Card Trick

Card Trick didn’t come out exactly as I’d intended… I’d planned for it to match the color placement from the ‘bright and white’ color plan for the TTYS Sampler. I was not, however, going to pick it apart.

I have to say that I absolutely love this block, and the motion that using that particular print in four different colors gives it.

Dutchman's Puzzle

I really like how Dutchman’s Puzzle came out. I was a tad bit persnickety about ensuring that the directional print flowed the same direction in all four quadrants.

Capital T

Capital T – I like the contrast between the two prints here, in nearly every way. Stripe vs. circles. Purples vs. olive green.

As I make these blocks, I’m happier and happier that I went with the Kona cotton Lake for the background fabric. It’s atypical, and leads to a low-volume appearance in a good number of these blocks. I can’t wait to see these all together.

I’d been hoping to get completely caught up on the sampler blocks, but between hubby and kiddo on Monday, I didn’t get much sewing time. Not a big deal – I’ve four days of vacation time from banked from last year to use. I’m just debating on when to use them, though I’m thinking early February would be good. I’m ready for some time off since I didn’t take any through the holidays.

My productivity continues, though, and it’s spreading! I’ve been cooking – a lot. Yesterday, it was several quarts of chili so that I could freeze some and have some fairly quick meals ready. Tomorrow, I’m cooking down a bunch of chicken, shredding it and freezing it, so that I can do chicken tacos and enchiladas with less hassle. I’ll do the same with some pork this weekend I think. I’ll probably also make

Dieting is going okay – I cut a bunch of vegetables for last Stitch ‘N’ Bitch for salads. What we didn’t eat that Saturday, I’ve been working my way through in salads and snacks. The upside is that I’ve nearly killed the tendency to snack on unhealthful, additive-ridden foods. The downside is that I feel constantly hungry right now. I have to re-learn to eat several small meals throughout the day again.

Total diet failure was my attempt to substitute in some shrimp in place of my normal chicken or pork. I made a shrimp stir fry, using a bunch of my pre-cut vegetables. You’d think that was a win, right?

Not so much.

I don’t like the taste of shrimp. It tastes like beach. Dirty beach. Unless it’s in sushi. No offense to those of you who like shrimp, but I’ll be avoiding that particular food from now on.

I am determined, however, to hit the Asian grocery in town. They sell whole Tilapia, and I love that particular fish. I grew up eating it freshly caught, and I have no qualms about preparing it. I have been craving other shellfish though. Crab sounds amazing right about now, but that might just be the fact that my stomach is reminding me that it’s been four hours since I ate, and I’m due for a snack before I try to hit the hay.

I also tried hummus, for the second time. My first time was considerably less than delicious. I attempted to make it at home, from what I now realize is a sub-par recipe. This time around, I tried a commercial hummus, a spicy red pepper version, and it was… not bad. Definitely an acquired taste, and I preferred it when it had been in a very cold fridge for a few hours. I’m planning to try a more garlicky flavored one, and I’ve heard that there’s a black olive one out there. Mwahahaha.

I have to get back on the workout horse – I’m hoping to do that tomorrow. I need to make it a habit. What I do have going for me there is that I’ve been helping to motivate my best friend and work mate, Adam. He’s also not happy with his weight, and has a membership at the same gym I do. I’m our conscience for the moment – and I’m okay with that. I’m intensely driven to do this for myself, especially as my mother-in-law in the hospital having undergone her second complete knee replacement.

Still, in all of this, I got back into a size 16 pair of jeans this weekend. Despite the lack of actual weight loss, this means that the weight is re-distributing, exchanging fat out for muscle. I’m okay with that. Being a smaller size is a nice side-benefit of this dieting and exercise thing. I’ll be healthier, and that’s the important thing.

Okay, enough rambling… time to find a lo-cal snack before bed.

The Streak Continues

12 01 2013

Today was Bitch ‘n’ Stitch… A couple of regular attendees were recovering from the flu, making for a fairly quiet day. I buckled down with my sewing machine and made considerable progress on the Test Your Skills Sampler

Test Your Skills Sampler

Those of you who have followed my quilting exploits are now sporting quizzical expressions. “Huh? I thought you’ve been there, done that?”

Not so much, unfortunately. I set the project to the side, as I have with so many projects, and became distracted by other projects that were temporarily more shiny. Once I picked it up again, I discovered that my original fabric selections:

Final Fabric Selections

… wouldn’t quite work. That green print, the one third from the left? I don’t have quite enough of it. and I honestly never really liked the maroon print, though I wanted that color in this top.

So, I started looking for substitutes. I spent an absurd amount of time online looking for fabrics that matched my mental vision. I ended up being obsessed with strongly geometric and angular  tone-on-tone prints:

TYSS Fabric Choices

I went from a bare minimum of fabrics, to a wealth of choices. I’m horribly, desperately in love with these fabrics. I think I might have nearly the perfect storm of tone-on-tone prints here. Funnily enough (or not, if you know my buying habits), not one of these prints is the focus print of a fabric line. They are all the blenders of their respective lines.

From left, prints 1 – 4 are Mackinaw Island by Bernatex. Prints 5 and 6 are Simply Color, by Vanessa Christenson for Moda. Prints 7 and 8 are Blossom by Whistler Studio for Windham Fabrics. Prints 9 – 11 are City Girl by Kitty Yoshida for Benartex.

I think perhaps the only thing I am missing, from this selection, is a black print to add some needed depth. I have some prints in my stash that I think will work, but I need to locate them and audition them.

At any rate, I began piecing today, and kept on piecing:

Snowball & Nine Patch

Filler Blocks III

Filler Blocks I

Filler Blocks II

In addition to Bullseye…


…I’m actually further along with this sampler than I was previously. I’m also feeling driven to finish this, since I love the fabrics so much. We’ll see how much further along I get this weekend. I actually have a Sunday off, and I’m thinking about quilting up a top.

Chugging Away

23 08 2012

Four Rows

Work is becoming more and more hectic as the start of the fall semester approaches. I’ve been laboring under the onus of several projects that needed to be completed before classes start, with too little manpower and not enough time. I’m sure this is the universal cry of government employees everywhere, but this is my first real experience with this many items on my plate with such rapidly approaching drop-dead completion dates

It’s more than a little wearing.

However, I will pull through. I might need more than a couple of drinks and some sushi nights to recover from this summer  of endless stress, but I will pull through.

Helping me get through this has been my quilting. I’m taking refuge in it, burying myself in the comforting hum of my sewing machine and the glorious slide of cotton in my fingers. I can turn off my worries for those precious moments that I’m stealing away from sleeping.

When I get a chance today to go through and decide what blocks will go into Row 5, I’ll take some photos and make some comments about how I’m deciding what goes where. Hint: it’s a very loose process.

Can I just say that I love the way this is turning out? I’ve been nervous about getting this project to this state. Now I can be happy with the way it’s turning out, and my brain is starting to focus on the quilting. This has been such a tremendous project, and I’ve taken such care with the piecing that I really want this to be an heirloom piece of art, maybe even a quilt show entry.

Oh, and I’ve decided on a new name, I think: Technicolor Fields. It’s a nod to the original quilt, as in farmer’s fields, but also acknowledging the field of bright stars I’ve created with the setting.