365 Challenge Quilt Sampler – Week 02

15 01 2016

In addition to completing a quilt yesterday, I made a delicious pot of soup, and caught up on my 365 Challenge Quilt Sampler blocks. I’d let myself get a bit behind – I was focusing on what felt like miles and miles of binding to stitch down/

It was only almost 400″ of binding. No big. Really. *headdesk*

Anyway – I turned that final corner, took photos, had dinner, and then headed to the sewing machine. I was ready to make!

365 Challenge Quilt Sampler Week 028. London Stairs, 9. Uneven Nine Patch, 10. Double Four Patch, 11. Checkerboard, 12. Plait, 13. Mountains, 14. Six Strips

I needed four blocks to be caught up to current posting, and got them all done today. That allowed me to enter the weekly give-away for those individuals who have completed the current week’s blocks.

I added a bit more color, in blocks Twelve and Thirteen. So far, my favorite block is Number Twelve: Plait. I just love the graphic appeal of the scraps I used.

And, just to further illustrate my insanity…

Super Scrappy Piecing

I’m taking all of the scraps from the 365 Challenge Quilt Sampler blocks, and piecing them into found fabric. Yes, I’m going all scrap vortex on these leftovers. Ultimately, I think I’d like these to become the backing of another quilt top. We’ll see if that ever happens – I’m working with very small pieces here. The sample above is probably only 4″ X 4″.

That’s it for this week. If you’d like to keep up with my daily progress on these blocks, I am posting these to Instagram.

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A Little Catching Up…

4 10 2015

This week and last were both 50-hour work weeks for me. We experienced an onslaught of winter/holiday items arriving to our warehouse, and I’m one of the few individuals cross-trained both to work in the warehouse and in our retail locations. Due to this, I ended up working at the warehouse, hefting boxes. Lots of boxes.

This means that I’m behind on my (admittedly mental) schedule to get my retail location together for winter/holiday displays, but that’s actually a good thing. There remains a slew of open orders due to arrive at the warehouse. I’d rather not set up displays, only to have to reset them again, and again.

That also meant that I fell behind on getting my September commitment for the Traveling Bee-utiful Swap done. Not by much – just a couple of days, but I hate falling behind on deadlines. It makes me grumpy.

This is the top, as I received it, in early September:

Traveling Bee-utiful - September

I knew one thing, as I got this top-in-progress on my wall – I wanted to lighten it up, by adding a border that was comprised heavily of low volume fabrics. I felt like the top needed a ‘breather’ but this point. I turned to EQ7, as I usually do, and modified an existing border treatment in the EQ7 block library. I started with this:

Base Border BlockIt was pretty boring to me, so I decided to alter it. After reading the original quilter’s journal entry regarding the start of her quilt, I knew that I needed to make sure to use scraps. It wasn’t a hard choice. I have plenty of scraps.

It didn’t take long for me to come up with this:

September Border

Plenty scrappy, and I knew I had plenty of low volume fabrics to get me through border. I did, however ultimately decide to stick to just two low volume prints. I didn’t have enough scrappy low volume, and wanted to minimize my time in cutting.

I modified the design to come up with a corner block, so that the design would ‘turn the corners’ of the border:

September Border - Corner Block

That made me happy with the final design:

September Border - Whole

From there, it was just a matter of paper-piecing. This should have been fast, and easy. Problem was, I completely forgot about chain-piecing for some reason. *sighs*

If I’d remembered, I might have been able to get this out on time…

As it was, I remembered halfway through, and managed to make the last two nights of piecing go much more quickly. For all of my non-low volume fabrics needs, I went through my stash of starched and pre-cut scraps. I love using my scraps – it’s like a fabric acquisition memory lane.

So, after being silly, working too much, and making this project take too long, I finally attached the border to the last side on Thursday night.

Traveling Bee-utiful Swap - September AdditionI’m very happy with how this one turned out, and am excited to start October’s contribution. I’ve already received it, though I haven’t opened the package yet.





3xS – Finished!

29 01 2015

I’m sort of on a roll!

I finished 3xS (Stars, Squares, and Scraps)!

3xS Completed Quilt Front

I’m enjoying the way some of the squares and HSTs disappear into the backing fabric. There’s unexpected depth to the pattern because of that.

I used Sandi’s mid-arm frame again. As I’ve said previously, I’ve given up on the Janome, and after quilting this top, given up on the Little Gracie II frame entirely. It’s just too limited for what I want to do, for what I’m capable of doing.

3xS Quilting Detail

Anyway, the details! The entire thing was quilted on Saturday, the 24th. I used a pale aqua-ish thread in the top, and the same light grey Bottom Line in the bobbin. Rather than do an all-over meander again, I got brave decided to play a little. This time, I did three leafed clover shapes in varying sizes. Getting braver yet, I set myself a challenge to echo each of the leaves in one of the clovers, and discovered I could do it with a decent amount of accuracy. I then randomly spaced the echoed clovers through the quilting.

I wasn’t sure how the quilting would show up after washing – I experimented and used a wool batting in this quilt. I’d bought the wool batting with the intention of hand-quilting a different project. However, since this was my January goal for finishes, I figured I ought to just use the wool rather than buying more batting. This particular batting required quilting in every four inches – I didn’t see that as a problem, though I expected this top to take me quite a while to finish quilting.

3xS Completed Quilt Back

I can’t tell you what any of the prints in the backing are – I didn’t save the selvage for the lovely print on the left. The purple paisley was a scrap cut from Fat Quarter Shop. The purple floral print was something from Joann’s, and the smallest cut of fabric in the backing was something I bought ages ago and cut the selvage off.

To give this a really strong finish, I used up a yard(ish) of a fabric that had been in my stash for ages. I cut 3″ wide strips, and made sure I left half an inch of batting all around the top’s edges when I trimmed down the batting and backing after quilting. As a result, I’ve got a nice wide, and full, binding on this top.

Linking to A Lovely Year of Finishes, for my January finish!

A Lovely Year of Finishes

Also marking this for the 2015 Finish Along! My list of goals is here!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side
Also linking to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday and Devoted Quilter for Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday.




Focused

26 11 2014

I often irk my husband, with my ability to ‘hyper-focus’. I will work on one project, play one video game, or read one book with complete attention until I’m ready to step back. This most recent scrap project has been like that for me.

Of course, first I had to spend about a week on starching, ironing and cutting the scraps into usable pieces:

So Many Scraps

That’s a LOT of 5″ and 2.5″ squares. I’ve over-filled a shoebox sized plastic tote with these. They’re not sorted by color yet – I have to decide if I want to mix them with the non-starched scraps that are also pre-cut. That decision can wait anyway, at least until I’m done with this top. I’m already working on designing another scrap project…

But before I get to that point, though, I need to finish 3xS, which is a good way there. The blocks finish at 16″ and aren’t terribly complicated. And since I’ve pre-cut and pre-trimmed the HST units, they go very quickly. I’ve been averaging two or  three blocks a day, though I pushed to get one more done last night. I wanted to have two rows done:

3xS (Scraps, Stars, and Squares) - Two Rows Done

The photo isn’t the best – I had my husband standing on a chair at 1:30 AM this morning. We had every light in the living room blazing. Still, I have a photo! And progress!

In between cooking and hosting tomorrow, I’ll be sewing more of these blocks, with the intention of getting a third row done. I’d also like to squeeze in some time to put together a backing for the Night Sky quilt top. I work nine hours on Sunday at the second job, so I’m not sure I’ll find the time to pin-baste and start quilting.

No matter – I’m still very happy with the progress I have made!





From an Unquiet Mind

8 07 2014

Real life has been rough lately.

Super rough.

I’m not sure I have words for it all…

My father’s been in the hospital since Thursday, 26 June.

I had to have him taken there by ambulance, after going to his home in Milwaukee with the intention of moving him to live in my home. He’d finally gotten to a breaking point in living with my brother, and asked for help. Due to his condition when I got to Milwaukee, my help turned out to be getting him health care that he desperately needed. The plan is still to move him in with me, once he’s recovered enough to go into a home living situation.

In the meantime, I’ve been dealing with a lot of grief, guilt, anger, resentment, depression… Mixed in with odd moments of resolve and pulling it together so that I can keep going.

Part of keeping going has been sewing. My mind quiets at the hum of my sewing machine, soothed by the focus on the movement of thread, fabric and needle. I’ve expended a lot of energy and focus on the Winged Square quilt top, but last night the rigidity of the pattern and the strict repetition proved to be more than I could handle.

I pulled out a box of solid scraps, leftover from a (large) cutting mistake when I was doing the setting for my Farmer’s Wife Sampler. The scraps were already cut into triangles, squares and strips, so I just took what I had, and started sewing. Eventually, a sort of pattern emerged and I ended up with five strips, which I then tested against a Kona grey fabric:

From an Unquiet Mind - Testing Strips

They ultimately would not remain in this configuration. I trimmed these multi-colored strips to 4.5″ wide (unfinished) and then spaced them with that grey fabric, cut into 3.5″ (unfinished) strips:

From an Unquiet Mind - Awaiting Borders

It’s not large, a generous crib size at this point. I plan to add 5″ (finished) borders to the piece, and I’m thinking large zig-zags will form the quilting.

I feel a little calmer in having brought some order to the chaos around me, but sense that there will be another quilt top in this same vein shortly. I don’t expect that my calm will last.

Soon, I have to call the hospital and check on Dad – he went into surgery yesterday, after twelve days in the hospital, to have a suspect mass removed. In removing the mass, my father will lose 40% of one lung. The expectation is that the mass will be cancerous, but testing has shown that no cancer has spread into the rest of my father’s body.

It might seem odd, but I see this as a positive. My father is a veteran, who served twenty-one years in the Air Force. He served during an era in which cigarettes were distributed with one’s rations (a practice in the US military which did not end until 1975). Since his retirement, my father has been under the care of military doctors.

It’s a tremendous disservice to the men and women who have served our country, but my experience with the healthcare provided to our veterans seems to prove out that diagnosis and treatment are not actually priorities. Considering the scandals rocking the VA in recent months, my observations seem to hold out at a national level. Nicotine dependency within the military remains high, a result both of the tobacco industry’s influence and reach as well as of the need for coping mechanisms in high-stress positions across the military (combat, peacetime and support roles all included). Due to this, I’m disappointed that screening for cancer within the VA and DoD provided health care isn’t a higher focus. My cynical side declares that diagnosis of cancer leads to expensive treatments, thus the lack of actively seeking it out within such a highly suspect population of patients.

I am immeasurably grateful to the staff of the hospital in which my father is currently sequestered. Not surprisingly, it’s not a VA hospital. It’s a private hospital, with religious roots. Their care for him has been remarkable, and my father’s progress in returning to the man I remember, astounding.

Still, his recovery (while a gift) hasn’t been enough to relieve the negativity eating at me lately. I need to find a few moments each day to center myself, and try to purge the dark that chews at me. I anticipate seeking out a mental health professional when Dad is living with me, and we’ve all found a new normal as a larger family unit.

In the meantime, I seek solace in stitches, creating wholeness where I can.





Holy HSTs, Batman!

14 06 2014

HST Attack 01

Today was Stitch ‘N’ Bitch. Unfortunately I didn’t do much sewing at all. My rotary cutter and cutting mat were my friends today. And no, what you see above is not today’s work. It would be awesome if that was today’s work, but no, I’m not that skilled and awesome.

What you see above are the 600 HSTs I chain pieced, cut, ironed and trimmed over the last week.

Today, I spent Stitch ‘N’ Bitch doing this:

Box of Work

That’s approximately 800 HSTs that now need to be ironed and then trimmed to 2.5″, for a 2″ finished subunit. I say approximately, because I’m still debating trying to find six more aqua fabrics or just making up the rest of the needed HSTs from the aquas I already have on hand. It’s much easier to use what I have, and I know I’ve got the extra strips cut.

I think I’m going to spend the rest of today on these remain HSTs. I might even get ambitious and cut and piece the rest of the HSTs  and 2.5″ squares for the scrap zigzag quilt top. Tomorrow can be spent piecing then.

Should be a lot more fun than trimming 😉





Finally, a Finish

23 05 2014

My first completed quilt for this year… I really need to get my tush in gear.

Patchwork Star - Finished

Done almost completely from items in my stash, with the exception of the batting. It was super satisfying to do, though ultimately, I’m not sure this will end up being given as a gift.

All told, I came close to using five yards of yardage between four different fabrics (one background, two in the backing, and one in the binding). This was incredibly satisfying, because it’s so easy to keep adding to the stash, regardless of how much I actually use.

I love that this is a pretty quilt, without being drenched in pastels. It finished up at about 50″ X 50″ inches, almost a lap-sized quilt. This one is so easy to put together – I’d probably make it  again in the future because it came together so quickly.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday at crazy mom quilts. Also linking to the Whoop Whoop Friday party at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.