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.


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.

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.

Not-So-Lean, Mean Sewing Machine

5 01 2013

There is the risk of TMI to follow, folks…

Who am I kidding? There is too much info following, but I ain’t deleting. To my male readers, my apologies. To my female readers, we need to create a chocolate support network..

Hubby and I have been seriously discussing attempting to become parents to a second bundle of joy. Thus, this past week, when I had my obligatory exam with the gynecologist, I had my IUD removed, and will be making the transition to the pill while we continue to debate our options and finances.

An unfortunate side effect of having removed the IUD is having my first period in five years. Right now, I crave chocolate like the undead, zombie hordes crave brains. I’d forgotten the joy (ha!) of tampons, though I constantly kept a stash on hand. I’m endlessly hungry, too, which makes me irritable, after getting on the scale at the doctor’s office, and realizing that all of my dieting efforts have resulted in a net¬†gain of five pounds.

Fuck you, anatomy.

However, my menstrual crabbiness is resulting in an explosion of sewing, as I’d much rather spend time with my fabric than people right now. I’ve caught up completely on Scrappy? Sew Bee It! Blocks. This is both a boon and a curse. A boon, because I’m finally caught up. A curse, because I’ll have to ship them all out and pay the mailing fees.

But, I win! (The race against myself.)



Two thirty-six patch blocks for Deborah, aka MissLuella. These pretty much epitomize my stash. Bold, strong color, which dominates my fabric stash, because color-shy I am not. A smaller portion of my stash is dedicated to neutrals and decidedly elegant prints.

String Web 01

String Web 02

Two unassembled scrappy, string Spiderweb blocks for Christiane, aka Caillean Z. She’s hoping to get 12.5″ spiderweb blocks out of these, and requested that we not assemble the four quadrants, so that she can mix and match upon receipt.

My paper piecing templates came out too large, but I left them over-sized, rather than trim down and make a mistake. I included some pieced strings – I save a lot of scraps, especially if I can easily include them in a string project like this.

A Little Carried Away…

3 01 2013

I took today off because I had a gynecologist’s exam this morning, and I really didn’t want to go in and deal with tech problems after having my bits poked and prodded at. Good news – everything was where it was supposed to be. Just have to wait for the results of the pap smear now.

My goal, this afternoon after the doctor, was to catch up on Scrappy Sew Bee It! Swap blocks. I even picked up a little bit of fabric to extend out what I had on hand in the way of neutrals. I even got home, had some lunch, and got to sewing.

Just like I planned.

I did not plan on getting carried away and making six blocks for one individual. I meant to make two blocks for this individual, and move on, since I’m, oh… four months behind.

At least I got one month out of the way?

Neutral Cabin 01

Neutral Cabin 02

Neutral Cabin 03

Neutral Cabin 04

Neutral Cabin 05

Neutral Cabin 06