More Scrappy Stars

15 05 2013

I did manage to make some progress on the scrappy stars at Stitch ‘N’ Bitch on Saturday. I got a decent start on sixteen quadrants, or four stars. In order to add some variety to the string pool, I decided that whenever I cut from my yardage for another purpose, I need to cut a few strings for these blocks. It was a good call – I had very little in the way of lighter strings that weren’t a variation of acid green.

Gee, what do I buy a lot of? Yeah, acid green. Oh, and bright orange. And, weirdly, lately – pink. I’m not understanding that one, though it might be the prevalence of strong, fuschia-leaning pinks in the market right now. I’m very much about the stronger, purer tones.

Last night, I sat down and completed the sixteen quadrants, after having taken kiddo to the park for two hours. So, despite him not being the only one tired, I took advantage of his solid slumber and communed with Bessie. I finished up the quadrants, and got a solid start on sewing them together. Finally, it hit about 2:00 AM, and I had to admit defeat and head to bed myself.

The alarm went off at 6:00 AM this morning, and I decided to finish assembling those stars this morning. I managed to finish just as I had to leave for work, so I have four more scrappy star blocks, bringing me to twelve!

Scrappy Star 11

Scrappy Star 10

Scrappy Star 09

Scrappy Star 12





May Swap Blocks

12 05 2013

I got home on Friday evening, with the intention of making all of my swap blocks. I didn’t quite get all of my blocks done that evening.

First up were Granny Blocks:

Granny Block Bee 13

Granny Block Bee 14

Christina requested blocks using reclaimed vintage bedsheets. I had nothing on hand, so I ended up ordering a fat quarter bundle on Etsy. After having gone through and made blocks with these fabrics, I honestly can’t say that I see the appeal. It was very like working with voiles, the fabrics were so soft and and thin. They’re pretty, but I much prefer the consistency of quilting cottons.

Granny Block Bee 15

Granny Block Bee 16

Ginger requested red, white and blue blocks. I had red, I had blue – I didn’t have much that would bridge the gap between the two. So I went shopping once more, buying the flag-themed fabrics. I suppose into each quilter’s life a few flag themed fabrics must fall. The remainder of these fabrics are going to get buried in the back of the stash, on the off chance that someone else make a similar request. They’re far too novelty for my taste.

Once those were done, I moved onto My Fat Stash Bee obligation. Deidra sent a fat quarter of a brown background Christmas fabric and requested wonky log cabin blocks. Accompanying the fabric was a small square of purple, which was to be incorporated into the block.

Christmas Wonky Log Cabin 02

Christmas Wonky Log Cabin 01

I made the first block, including a darker red in the block. Stepping back from it, I wasn’t very happy because of that red. Since I still had so much of the Christmas fabric left, I whipped up a second wonky log cabin block.

I decided that I would spend Stitch ‘N’ Bitch working on my string star blocks, so I made my Scrappy? Sew Bee It! blocks Sunday morning… It would have been Saturday evening, but I ended up going to bed early. What I had taken for allergies turned out to be the beginning of a cold. Since finals weeks is this coming week, I decided that nipping the cold in the bud was the best plan.

For her month, Jess requested Winged Square blocks with low volume prints in the background, and red, yellow or orange for one ‘wing’, and grey, charcoal and black for other ‘wing’. I ended up needing to purchase the low volume prints, since I don’t purchase these normally.

Winged Square 01

Winged Square 02 Corrected

Now that my sewing obligations are out of the way, it’s time for me to get myself and the house cleaned up. We’re hosting my mother-in-law to dinner for Mother’s Day.





And Then There was One…

10 05 2013

ONE quilt top!

I finished the last three blocks for Frankenstein on Wednesday evening. My intention was to actually get the top put together Thursday morning… I didn’t bother getting out of bed early enough, because it was so comfy!

The Last Three

1. Frankenstein Block 38, 2. Frankenstein Block 39, 3. Frankenstein Block 40

Thursday evening, I hit the sewing machine running! After a couple hours, I had a completed top, and had even done up the backing!

Frankenstein - The Patchwork Monster

Pardon the slightly terrible, late night photo. I plan on taking a better picture once I have Frankenstein quilted up.

I’m super happy with this project at the moment. Everything is from scraps or stash, right down to the batting. I’m using batting leftover from other projects rather than buy new batting for this. There are 1.5″ yards of solids in the top. About 2.5 yards of fabric went into the backing, which even uses some fabrics I wasn’t sure how I’d use (that’s what I get for impulse buying rocket fabric).

The only piece still waiting is a decision on what to use for the binding – I’m thinking that it will be a scrappy binding, to fit with the origins of this project.





And Then There Were Three…

8 05 2013

… Three more blocks to make for Frankenstein, that is.

An Evening of Scrappiness

1. Frankenstein Block 32, 2. Frankenstein Block 33, 3. Frankenstein Block 34, 4. Frankenstein Block 35, 5. Frankenstein Block 36, 6. Frankenstein Block 37

I forgot that these blocks go together so simply, if not quickly. It is the essence of mindless sewing. I simply need to sit in front of my machine armed with iron, cutting mat, rotary cutter, snips, and scraps. A concentrated block of a few hours and I am much closer to completion of this top than I expected to be.

This is not without its advantages. Once I have Frankenstein in being a completed top, I can use the scraps of batting I’ve hung onto, to make a sandwich. I think I already know which fabrics I will use as a backing, as well. Theoretically, I might have a nearly complete quilt by the end of the week. LOL – I won’t make the mistake of assuming I can quilt and bind this thing by the end of the day on Friday. That’s just crazy talk.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

Because I want a finish this year, dammit.

Scrappy Star 07

Scrappy Star 08

I also got two more scrappy stars done for Swirling Sea of Stars this past weekend, clearly. I’m really enjoying these blocks, and wish they would go together just a touch faster. Since I have eight blocks now, I’m desperately tempted to start sewing them together.

Just because I can.

I’m resisting – I would like to complete two more sets of four before starting to piece these blocks together. I want to arrange for maximum scrappiness, as well as to get a real idea of how many of these blocks I will need to make. I had enough foundations printed to make 32 of these. I don’t honestly know if this is too many or too few, as of yet. I am hoping that it will be just right, though I will not be surprised if I need to go back and get more foundations printed.

As noted previously, I have difficulty working small – see the last three quilt tops I’ve completed ‘recently’: Charmed, I’m Sure, The Garden Party’s Quadrille, Technicolor Fields. Each one of these measures at least 100″ square. I’m more than a little terrified by the idea of quilting up any of these, but will persevere, and soon.

Regardless, I want A Swirling Sea of Stars to use a good chunk of my scraps, which means large is the way to go, unless I manage get moving on the other string top…





The Swirl of Life

26 04 2013

I’ve been stealing some time to sew this week. It’s my sanity saver, especially as the semester winds down and final exams draw near.

I don’t typically talk about The Job here – I manage a technology support desk at a local college. It’s incredibly fun, but tends to get a little more stressful as each semester draws to a close, for obvious reasons. Teaching staff and faculty are working to ensure they give all their lessons, students are working to complete all of their projects, and, of course, exams loom on the horizon.

This past year, I’ve been exceedingly privileged in having a truly top notch student staff. About one third of them are graduating with the end of the semester. This both saddens and elates me. Elates me, because I’ve been able to be an integral part of these students’ college experience, helping to provide them invaluable work experience and knowledge that I hope they will carry through their careers. Saddens me, because they have been such a joy to work with. They’re bright, driven, and wonderful people – I have no doubt that they will succeed in their chosen arenas. Saddened also because I am losing so much knowledge and experience, and needing to replace these bright young people with newer, younger staff.

Interviewing prospective applicants has taken over much of my work days – I am hoping to bring six to eight individuals into my staff, to train them over the summer. I would like them to have some experience in the call center before the fall semester begins, with its influx of tech issues that need to be resolved so that life on campus can move forward smoothly. I’ve made offers to five individuals, but most of them aren’t looking to take a ton of hours. I have a feeling that I’ll actually end up bringing on board ten to twelve individuals, so that I can have staff coverage in the event of absences. This means that I’ll conceivably be interviewing through the rest of the spring semester.

There have been other irritations and stressors, of course. I’m not going to dive too deeply into them, just because I don’t want to dwell too much on some of them. I’m working on getting over them, and ranting about them won’t help that.

Clearly, the sewing has been a welcome escape. My creativity is a creature that is rarely satisfied with meager meals of fifteen and twenty minutes of sewing here and there. I sew as regularly as possible, with the intent to get an hour a day in. I’ve been dragging a quilt back and forth to work, to work on hand-stitching the binding down on the thirty minute commute. I’ve also made some progress on Swirling Sea of Stars:

Spinning Star 04

Another star ready. This makes four. Practice is making this process faster, which is good. I’d really like to have this top done by the end of May. With four done, I decided to lay them out and see if they matched my vision:

Starting to Swirl 01

I was not so very impressed with the movement of the stars when I laid them out this way. It didn’t sparkle the way I wanted. So, I then laid them out according to my EQ7 illustration:

Starting to Swirl 02

Much better! Of course, I won’t be sure of this until I get a few more blocks in, but I feel like my initial plan was the way to go. Here’s hoping kiddo runs himself ragged at the park tonight ūüôā





Making Stars

22 04 2013

I finally got a chance to start piecing my string quilt.

Okay, the other string quilt.

Yes, I now have two currently on the go. One will use fairly typical blocks – a simple 6″ square, with a strip of white down the middle to provide some rest. The other – Swirling Sea of Stars is officially underway! I got two blocks done – one was actually finished in the few minutes I had before I left for work this morning.

So far, my star points meet up reasonably well. I unfortunately had to print on 20# copy paper, due to the size of these quadrants, so I was kind of stressing whether or not that paper was too thick.

Scrappy Star 01

Scrappy Star 02

Once again, I find myself preferring the more narrow strips, but I refuse to go back and split those wider strings. The variety is needed, and they aid greatly in completing these string blocks.

I am eager to see how the darker solids look in this pattern, so I am going to do a set tonight with the purple and orange in the stars tonight. If I can keep to a set a day, I should be able to get this top done.





Making Progress

15 04 2013

It’s only been a little over a week since I was here last, but it feels a lot longer. Probably because I actually did very little in the way of sewing in those intervening eight days. And probably because I spent a god-awful lot of that time cutting scraps down.

I cannot find the right words with which to convey just how utterly sick of scrap management I am at this point.

Cutting Fool

So. Many. Freaking. Scraps.

Unfortunately, my current and next quilt top projects require scraps. Frankenstein needs an constant influx of incy wincy scraps, or that project goes nowhere. And I’m pretty sure that I’m giving Frankenstein away as a baby quilt, which means there’s a built in deadline. And Swirling Sea of Stars demands as many strings as I can produce. Expect to see some progress on that particular project soon – Stitched in Color is hosting String Fever, another scrap attack quilt along. No, I don’t really need to sign up for another quilt along, but it’ll give me the ‘oomph’ to get moving where I might otherwise not do so. Check out my sidebar for the linky.

All Together Now

Stitch ‘N’ Bitch was this past Saturday. I made seven more blocks for Frankenstein. I, once again, had enough incy wincy scraps to move forward with this project. That made eight loose blocks, as I’d had one hanging about. This brings me to 31 of the 40 scrappy blocks I need for this top. I can already foresee needing to dive into the scrap basket and managing the last of my scraps. No, really, I can almost see the bottom of my last scrap basket.

It’s kind of liberating, yet terrifying. Liberating, because I will no longer look at my fabric storage and see bins of crumbled scraps to which I only add. Terrifying because I will have thousands of pre-cut squares just ready and waiting for projects.

Obviously, I have ideas.

Even more obviously, I won’t be touching those ideas any time soon.

Quilting Up

I began quilting A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Lime and Cherry Baskets about a month ago. Then I took it off the table because I needed to make swap blocks. The sandwich didn’t make it back to the table until yesterday. I’m now nearly done with the outline stitching in each of the individual blocks. I have some straight line quilting to do, and then I will be using this top to practice my FMQ in the huge swaths of white background. I hate to delegate this top to a practice piece, but I look at it, and see how much progress I’ve made in the last few years, in accuracy and skill, and A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Lime and Cherry Baskets just doesn’t live up to my expectations of myself at this point in time.

But that’s all right. I’ll use this top to be a learning experience for myself, and find a good home for it in the near future. FMQ still remains high on my list of skills to master, and I have to have something to practice on ūüėČ





Swapping Fool

16 03 2013

Because I apparently don’t have enough to sew for myself (ha!), I like to join swaps. I like the fun and challenge of sewing for someone else every now and again. I love that it’s a way for me to break from my project monogamy without committing to another full blown project, at least until it’s my month. And even then, the blocks are done. I can let them percolate until I’m ready to assemble a top and get to quilting.

For most of the last year, I’ve been participating in the Scrappy? Sew Bee It! Swap. This one has been a lot of fun. The vast majority of my fellow swappers are on different continents from me. Getting to see their work is enlightening and inspiring. For the month of March, Debra asked for water-themed blocks, like boats, lighthouses and bridges.

Boat Block

After browsing the internet, and Debra’s inspiration photos, I decided to draw up my own blocks for Debra. This boat block is a spin off several traditional blocks. I decided to give the sails some masts and made the boat itself a little bigger. Still, it was a nice and easy block to put together, with basic shapes throughout. Everything but the white was pulled out of my scraps.

Lighthouse

Coming up with the lighthouse was a little more difficult. This is actually a riff off of a machine embroidery image I saw online. With the exception of the two prints making the house attached to the lighthouse, all of the oranges came from my scrap bin.

This past month, I’ve joined two more swaps. The first of the two is the Fat Stash Bee. This one is cool – each month’s queen sends one fat quarter or two fat eighths to the rest of the participants. She then posts to the group her guidelines for what she would like made with these fabrics. For the month of March, Jenny requested flying geese, in blocks ranging from 8″ to 16″. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to see how many geese I could get in a 16″ block. A Flock in a Block, if you will:

A Flock in a Block

The second swap that I joined this month is the Granny Block Bee. Yes, I finally drank the Granny Block Kool-Aid.

It’s my own darn fault for cutting my scraps down. I now have tons of 2.5″ squares that are just begging to have something done with them. Thus, Granny Blocks. The Granny Block Bee uses the tutorial posted at Blue Elephant Stitches, and there are two queens a month, which means four blocks a month for this bee. I started late, so there was February and March to make for.

Each queen makes specific requests regarding their desired colors, though we’re all using Kona White as the background fabric to provide some uniformity.

Granny Block Bee1. Granny Block Bee 01, 2. Granny Block Bee 02, 3. Granny Block Bee 03,
4. Granny Block Bee 04, 5. Granny Block Bee 05, 6. Granny Block Bee 06,
7. Granny Block Bee 07, 8. Granny Block Bee 08

I’m very pleased with how quickly these go together, and I might start piecing some for myself in between blocks for other projects. Yes, I’ll be receiving some when it’s my month, but I think I’d like to end up with a couple of lap-sized quilts when all is said and done. My mother-in-law is moving to a new apartment at the beginning of April, and I think it would be neat to finally gift her with a quilt. Also, I have some friends that I’d like to give a quilt to.

Apparently self-discipline is a thing in the Grey Cat Quilts household now, because all of the blocks are done and stuffed into envelopes, and arrangements have been made for JohnPaul to ship them out for me. I’m all caught up, which is just crazy.





February Swap Blocks

2 02 2013

February is Helen’s month. She requested Patchwork Square in a Square Blocks from The Sometimes Crafter blog. This is a nice simple block, especially since I’ve a bunch of my scraps pre-cut into 2.5″ squares, so I was determined to finish this early this month. I want to get all of my blocks sent out, since I’m woefully behind on that.

Helen asked us to pick at least one 2.5″ square of fabric that we felt symbolized us, and to tell the rest of the group why we chose the square and what the fabric meant to us.

Patchwork Square in a Square 1

In this block, I included a couple of very favorite fabrics that I just had to have. The pink and white fabric in the top row is a Day of the Dead print by Alexander Henry. The fabric in the lower right corner of the inner square¬† is another fabric that I couldn’t live without.

Patchwork Square in a Square 2

Here, I added a couple of patches from the Eclipse line by Exclusively Quilters. This was the first (and last) fabric line that made me buy nearly all of the fabrics in it. This was a major learning experience for me, as I sat on the fabric for the better part of two years, because I just didn’t know what to do with it. I would look at the fabrics together, and just feel my creativity so limited by the matchy-matchiness of the fabrics. It was only by collecting several grey and yellow fabrics for the Botanical BOM that I was able to break free of my mental block.

It’s a good start to February, to be able to check off an item of my to-do list. Tonight, I’ll package all of the swap blocks to be sent out, and that’ll be another item off the list. I’m also hoping to plan the next row in the Farmer’s Wife sampler, or perhaps work on the Test Your Skills Sampler. It all depends on kiddo and how easily he hits the hay at bedtime.