Traveling Quilt Start

7 02 2015

I did end up joining one swap this year, but ONLY one. One item that remained on my quilting bucket list was to participate in a round-robin type swap, where each bee mate adds to an existing quilt center.

My opportunity to arose after I’d stalked a Flickr group long enough – an advertisement was posted for a round robin swap, though it was hosted on Threadbias. I joined, and waited. The swap organizer was still looking for participants. It took a while, long enough that I actually forgot that I’d signed up.

Just before the end of the year, it was announced that we had enough members and our starter blocks should go out at the end of January. Unfortunately, due to my surgery, I couldn’t sew until after I’d healed. Right after that, I started working at my new old job (I took over managing the mall location that I’d been working part-time in).

So, I fell a little behind, just not being able to make sewing time. Once I figured out what I wanted to sew, I had to let the tutorials I’d read percolate – the instructions made sense, yet not. Finally, I buckled down and sewed.

After some strips and cutting I ended up with:

Lone Star - Fractured

Yes, I decided on a Lone Star start. Actually, I ended up making enough strip sets to do two of these stars. Right now, only one of these is sewn up, so I can send it out. I used a number of tone-on-tone prints and some of my more ‘modern’ prints, to try and capture the essence of what I personally find appealing.

Lone Star - Complete

Scrappy. Saturated colors. Grey/blacks for neutrals. A mix of low volume prints for the background, so no one has to worry too much about matching.

It’s not perfect – my angles didn’t come out quite right, so there’s a slight wonk to the star. Rather than freaking myself out about it, I’m calling the wonk part of the block’s charm. After all, it lays flat, and I’ve got good seams throughout the piece.

This will soon be winging its way to Tennessee, for its first trip for the year. It will return to me in a year, something for which I’m excited.

In the meantime, I will sew up the second star, and begin making a sister top to the one traveling across the United States.





Why I Don’t Do Swaps Anymore

16 11 2014

I started today with the intention of putting together a quilt top. Last night, in cleaning out some of my sewing space (which still needs a lot of organization!), I tripped over about 30 Granny Square blocks from a swap I participated in about a year ago. I’d stashed them away, and forgotten about them.

Since I’m still in a Go!Go!Go! Sew!Sew!Sew! phase, I decided I’d whip out a quilt top today, and began trimming these blocks down (I’d asked for them to come to me untrimmed, so that I could take that step myself).

By the time I was done trimming, I’d thrown NINE of these blocks away. In all fairness, I screwed up the trimming on one of them, and cut through a point. But the rest…

*sighs*

Now, let me just say that I’m a fairly anal-retentive sewist. I know this about myself.

I iron at nearly every step. I’ve just discovered the joys of starching the heck out of fabric, and how CRISP it makes my points and piecing. I change my needle at the end of every project, and change my rotary blades as soon as I feel myself pushing too hard on the cutter. I pay strict attention to my quarter inch seams, and unpick if my seam wobbles. I use the same brand of rulers on each project, and only use the markings on my rulers to determine where I cut – not the markings on the cutting mat. I make a test block, and then measure the test block to ensure that I’m producing according to the pattern / instructions.

The blocks I discarded…  Most of them weren’t acquainted with a quarter inch seam at all. Some would have failed a field sobriety test, the sewing was so wobbly. One block blatantly disregarded the swap rule to use Kona White as the background. Instead, I got a white background fabric that was so thin, I could see through it. Others yet, the blocks weren’t comprised of squares – they were comprised of trapezoids. (granny blocks, for your reference)

Quite frankly, I would have been ashamed to send them out, had I made them.

To say that I am frustrated is something of an understatement. Instead of being entirely done with a quilt top today, I have to make another twenty-five granny squares to be able to wrap this project, to match what I’d envisioned. If all of these blocks had been acceptable, I would have only needed to make half that.

It’s not the fact that I didn’t make the progress I wanted. It’s the fact that several someones out there thought these were acceptable to send out, not just to me, but probably to everyone else in my swap group.

And I know that many of those fellow sewists were planning on making gifts out of the quilts that would eventually result from these blocks. If I was disappointed at the blocks I got, for a quilt top for myself, how much more disappointed were these other sewists?

Now, a year out from this swap, it’s obviously too late for me to communicate to the swap organizer how disappointed I am, but the problems weren’t limited to this one swap. Prior to this year, I participated in many swaps. In most instances, I was highly disappointed by what I received versus what I sent out.

Rather than feeling more connected to a larger community of quilters and sewists, I felt (still feel) angry and irritated that I put such effort into producing quality work that I could be proud to send to someone else, and received so many poor quality blocks in return.

This batch of blocks just reinforced that sense of disenchantment, and strengthened my lack of desire to participate in swaps. I’d actually signed up to participate in Stash Bee 2015 (to start next year), and have withdrawn my participation because I don’t want to deal with the inevitable disappointment of putting forth effort for no return.





Finally Catching Up

20 02 2014

I promised this post a  bit ago, but then everyone in my house started falling ill. I’m sick for the second time in two weeks, but I don’t want to miss more work, because I have so much to do!

Sewing has been slow, mostly because sitting up without being feverish or dizzy has been a challenge 😛

I did manage a few things last month, though…

I made up a mini-quilt, for Doll Quilt Swap 14:

Sweet Little Dream House
Paper-pieced, obviously. Those log cabin blocks finish at 2″ each, and the house was a 6″ block. My partner was amber_crawley, and I sent along a bunch of charm squares from my scraps stash. I didn’t think to photograph that.

I tried some new things with this mini-quilt: double layer of batting for some loft, and free motion quilting on my home machine. I used the Fabulous Fabric Glide (mentioned in my last post), and it made a huge difference! I’m excited to try FMQ with the Fabulous Fabric Glide and my new SewSlip.

I even remembered to piece in a label:

DQS14 Back
You can see how shaky the FMQ is from the backside, but I’m still pleased that it worked as well as it did.

I also managed to finished something that had been languishing a couple of months:

Plastic Bag Dispenser
Yeah, it’s a quilted plastic bag dispenser. I got really tired of the bag of bags we had, and how nasty it looked hanging in our hall, so I whipped up what was essentially a mini-quilt from my three-inch square scraps, added some fabric I hated to make the elasticized ends and handle, threw on a button, and was done. It could have been one of those ‘done in a day’ things, but I stopped before I put the handle and button on.

It sat for three months, just waiting for that handle and button.

Yes, I do know how sad that is.

Since I was sort of on a roll with finishing things, I decided that I’m not starting anything new until I wrap up all the WIPs I have all around my sewing area. The quilt tops count, too. I will probably spend the next year doing nothing but revisiting projects, but that’s all right.

As part of my new found resolution, I got out the paper-piecing foundations for Swirling Sea of Stars, and started working on blocks. I only actually finished one, but that’s okay. I’ve at least six in progress. They’re not really that slow to come together. I’m just trying to vary the prints used in each star.

Scrappy Star 20
So, one down, and I don’t know how many more to go. I’m going until it’s the ‘right’ size, whatever that is, or I run out of scraps. I’m thinking that it’ll get to the right size first.





Block Attack!

30 11 2013

I tackled my swap blocks last night and today, wanting to get them all out of the way. I’m only in the two block swaps for the moment: Fat Stash Bee and Granny Block Bee.

I’d received Svea P’s fabrics for her Fat Stash block very early this month – I just didn’t really have any drive to get them done. Bad me! So, I forced myself to start with her block, because hers was waiting the longest. Svea requested feathers from Anna Maria Horner’s pattern. I do have to admit that I really love the look of this pattern though I really kind of hate putting it together from templates.

Svea provided a lovely Essex linen for the background and Sketch in Chocolate for the spine of the feathers, and requested scrappy feathers. I have to admit that once I realized what she’d given me to work with, I was super excited. I’ve been wanting to try Essex linen in something, but was afraid to buy yardage in case I hated it. It was a pleasure to work with, and I loved the contrast in textures.

Svea provided enough linen to get through one feather block. I’d been hoping to squeeze enough out of her quarter yard to make two for her:

Feather 01
I sort of got carried away, and made several extra feather halves to contribute to the scrappiness of her quilt:

Feather Halves
Yeah, that was a lot of strip piecing there… Still, these are fun, and feathers might be making an appearance in a project soon.

From there, I moved onto Susan’s blocks for Fat Stash for December. She requested Windwill blocks, from a Moda Bake Shop pattern. I sort of ending up hating this pattern. It’s not that it’s not easy, because it is! It would just be a lot easier to do these blocks with Flying Geese subunits.

Susan requested blocks in “blues, greens, purples, grey, maybe some super mellow yellows”. Super easy for me to do, considering my stash:

Windmill 01
Windmill 02

Next up were Kelli’s blocks for Fat Stash for January. She’d sent her fabrics super early, to prevent any parcels from getting lost in the mail during the Christmas rush. Smart move! She sent us jelly roll strips of Seascapes by Deb Strain for Moda, and asked that we use a gray fabric for the background. She also asked us to follow piecing instructions for Origami Stars. There was enough fabric to do two blocks.

Origami Star 01
Origami Star 02

From there, I turned my attention to the Granny Block, which I was already caught up on. My thought was to see if December’s queens had posted their requests for this month. Then I realized that I was one of the queens for December. D’oh!

So, I quickly decided on my request for this month: chartreuse, aqua and gray blocks, with Kona White for the background. Then I made two blocks as an example:

Granny Block Bee 39
Granny Block Bee 40

So… that’s my last two days of sewing. I figure that’s a good way to wrap the end of November! Now, I’m off to make baked ziti and to celebrate kiddo’s sixth birthday!

That’s right! Six years ago today, Zebediah was born, at 11:50 PM. It’s been amazing to watch him grow and develop. I’m looking forward to many more birthdays to come!





Sewing Fiend

16 11 2013

I’ve done a lot of sewing lately, especially today. I woke up at four o’clock this morning, for some weird reason, and then decided that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep again. So, I started sewing.

However, before we get to today’s sewing… Last week Saturday was Stitch ‘N’ Bitch. I brought softies to show, but also finished a softie dress:

Softie Dress

I love the fabric that I used in the skirt!

I also got most of the way through a Swoon block, but finished it up at home. I realized today, that each one of these blocks is taking almost an entire bobbin of thread.

Swoon 10

Yes, I’m being picky when I cut the center square. As much as possible, I’m fussy cutting.

Today, I completed two more Swoon blocks:

Swoon 11

Swoon 12

This puts me at twelve Swoon blocks. I now only need four more to have enough for my top. I’m seriously considering pushing through and trying to finish the top this weekend. The only trouble is that these blocks take freaking forever. There’s a lot of subunits to put together before I even get to piecing the block itself.

Once I’d hit that point, I decided I needed a break from Swoon blocks. I also remembered that it’s the middle of November, and that I need to make my swap blocks for this month. I completed the Granny Bee blocks for this month:

Granny Block Bee 35
Granny Block Bee 36

Suzy requested her blocks to be any color, as long as they were a solid. Easy enough, because I still had solids leftover from the The Farmer’s Wife Sampler.

Granny Block Bee 37

Granny Block Bee 38

Jodie requested blocks in two small prints, with the fabrics to be in high contrast. I might yet remake the green and pink one. Converting the photo to gray scale tells me there’s a value difference, but it’s not what I’d call high contrast.

We’ll see how I feel after I’ve taken a nap. As I write this, it’s 8:23 PM, and I’ve been up for sixteen hours. I don’t mind, and could probably make it a little longer, but I’m definitely drowsy. In fact, that nap sounds amazing! Here’s to that nap, and to getting a quilt top done this weekend.





Confession…

30 09 2013

Can I tell you all something?

Of all the blocks in the world that I could make, i would probably do just about anything to avoid making log cabins. I find them so tedious!

Inevitably, though, log cabins are requested at least once in each swap. Sometimes, multiple times.

And so I make them, because I want my swap partners to be happy, and to enjoy what I send them.

Log Cabin 01

Log Cabin 02
Lisa was actually the queen for August in the Scrappy? Sew Bee It! Swap, but I fell behind, and then just avoided making these. But I got my stuff together tonight, finally. Mostly because fabric from the October queen in the Fat Stash Bee arrived, and I realized that I would be perilously close to being two months behind. And that just wasn’t acceptable – I’d been up to date until the beginning of the fall semester.

Anyway, I got my tush in gear, and made two. Lisa requested these in any colors we wanted. I decided to return to my favorite standbys of gray and chartreuse, and then to make one in my new favorites of raspberry and tangerine. Of course, having made that chartreuse and gray block, I have this urge to run and buy as much fabric as I can in this color – it’s desperately low in my stash. It was actually kind of a challenge to come up with enough fabrics in that particular shade.

Tomorrow, it’s time to make some more of October’s blocks, and then I can return to Swoon blocks.





Slacking

30 09 2013

I’ve been slacking in the sewing department, something fierce. I just haven’t had the urge to sew, so I haven’t.

Buying fabric on the other hand… I’ve done a lot of that, and I really should take photos of this month’s purchases to shame myself into stopping. This retail therapy thing might be a little out of hand. Thank goodness we past the craziness of the start of the fall semester.

Anyway, I realized that it’s nearly the end of September, and that I needed to get moving on swap blocks, so I’m not behind for October. I’d been a little delayed, regardless, because I needed blues, desperately, and had placed an online order. Good thing I did, too, because one of the swap queens for October also requested blues.

Granny Block Bee 29

Granny Block Bee 30
Heather
requested the blue Granny blocks in September that sent me on my initial quest for blues. She wanted blues in lights, mediums and darks to be represented in each block.

Granny Block Bee 32

Granny Block Bee 31For October, Rachael requested blocks done in blue and green, inspired by Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane fabric line. As I said, I really needed those blues that I ordered.

Maple Leaf

Jacqueline requested Maple Leaf blocks to celebrate the changing of seasons into fall, and provided fat quarters of autumn-ish fabrics. I whipped up the above block with the fabric she provided.

I still owe one block for September, and at least one request for October to fill, now that the the queen for that month has sent her fabrics out. I’m hoping to get through those by the end of this week. We’ll see if I can keep my momentum up, now that I’ve actually sat in front of the sewing machine.