Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Elf Mode and an Old UFO

I dug out an old UFO last night and have begun to work on one of the three remaining blocks. It's a William Morris sampler, Friends of William Morris. After finishing up the appliqued borders for my guild's 2017 raffle quilt, I  needed something to occupy me in the evenings while winding down and taking in some television. These blocks are all hand appliqued. The border consists of scrolls - one in each of the eight setting triangles as well as smaller complementary ones in the four corners. I have never liked doing anything more than once, so will probably do those with fusible applique. A mish-mash of techniques, I know, but it's the only way that I can see getting it done. Here is a closeup of the most challenging block so far. Those thorns were a literal pain to do.

This project was ordered as a BOM from Stitchin' Heaven, but once it came with the first month's fabrics, my friend and I returned all the materials except the pattern. We did not care at all for the fabrics we were sent. They were really blah and we felt we could do much better. Our LQS had gotten in the entire line of fabrics by Barbara Brackman for Moda based on William Morris' artwork. Not all the fabric is from that line. For example in the above rose block only the background fabric and the green fabric are from that line. The gold and red fabrics are not.

I have ordered BOM projects from Stitchin' Heaven previously and they were all quite nice, so I don't want to bash them. They have a wide array of wonderful BOMs and their customer service is fantastic. When I called about my disappointment in the fabrics I was sent (all high quality - just didn't like them), I was given immediate satisfaction, told to keep the first month's worth and the pattern, and given a complete refund for that month to boot. I really feel that I came out ahead on this as I was told to keep the pattern, which consists of a full-sized sheet for each block.

Word of warning, though,about appliqued BOMs. You need to pin down with the company offering them whether the applique is intended for fusible or hand applique. My preference was for hand applique, but it is apparent that this project was meant to be done with fusible. Many of the points - such as the tiny thorns - are nearly impossible to do by hand applique. I should have modified the pattern before beginning to make them more suitable to that technique. I couldn't tell from the web site prior to ordering which technique was favored by the pattern. I am sure that a phone call would have cleared this matter up had I known more before ordering.

I am making several of these simple table runners for staff at the elementary school where I tutor one day a week. The pattern is a free one from Julie Cefalu at The Crafty Quilter. I have made three so far and started on a fourth today.

They are super easy to make, using just one mini charm pack of 2.5" squares, plus some additional yardage for the alternate squares and borders. Add a bit of jumbo rick-rack and fusible applique and call it done. Of course, you don't have to use a mini charm pack. I just had a bunch of them that have jumped into my shopping bag the past couple of years and decided it was time to use them. The project does not use all the squares in the pack, so I see a few more made with all the leftovers.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Keeping Busy

Yes, I know, I haven't posted in several weeks, but that doesn't mean things aren't happening. Problem is, there is nothing finished!

When Bonnie Hunter was here in September, I was able to take her "My Blue Heaven" workshop. During a recent quilt retreat with quilting friends, I finally found a block of time to work on it again. My color way is blue-purple-green-turquoise-neutral rather than the original blue and neutral color palette. This quilt is entirely from stash, and primarily from my scrap drawers. There weren't enough blue strips in the 2.5" drawer for this quilt, hence the expansion to the analogous colors. I will be plugging away on this in between other things that have grabbed my attention. The goal is to get the top pieced before Bonnie's 2015 Mystery Quilt kicks off on November 27. No pressure, though. That takes the fun right out of it. (Yes, I know. The text is a weird color; I cut and pasted from somewhere else and blogspot is not cooperating.)

Several months back one of the guilds I belong to had an evening that involved sharing out of a deceased member's stash. nearly 13 yards of mostly neutral fabrics came home with me. While on retreat last month, I started a new project with the neutrals I acquired that evening. This is as far as I got because mostly these are test blocks to see if I liked the pattern or not. I do, so eventually this will be a full-fledged quilt top. The pattern is "Sliced" from "Modern Neutrals" by Amy Ellis.

Two weeks ago Piece 'n Plenty Quilt Guild in Rolla, MO hosted Donna Lynn Thomas as speaker and workshop teacher. This table runner is from her book "Flip Your Way to Fabulous Quilts" and the specific pattern is "Shimmering Leaves." The plan is to have it quilted in time to grace our family's Thanksgiving table.

A word about the technique used to create the ribboned chevron blocks that allow for the shimmer effect - it is fiddly. Okay, I said it. Not that easy, despite Thomas' excellent tips and teaching technique. It involves a lot of drawing diagonals on the squares and rectangles used, sewing a tiny hair to the right of the lines, flipping, and carefully pressing. Things still go wonky. Did I mention that I loathe drawing lines on the diagonals of fabric? Thomas recommends a tool - Clearly Perfect Angles - to avoid drawing the lines normally required for a flip and sew technique. She sold out of the ones she brought with her, but I ordered one online which arrived the day that leaf #6 was left to do. If you are going to make this pattern or any others from her book, get the tool. Enough said. Things worked out much better with block #6 than with blocks #1 through 5.

Behind the scenes has been a lot of hexie applique. Four 70"+ borders of 1" hexies have been under my (hand) needle as I do my part in bringing our 2017 raffle quilt to completion.

This bundle of fat quarter deliciousness was a door prize from Janie Lou Quilt Shop's grand opening. There are 16 or 17  fat quarters here. I get a different number every time I count and haven't brought myself to open it yet. What fun! Lucky me.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Is Finished!

This won't be going with me on retreat this week. I finished the top. It is a large quilt and I don't have any place to properly photograph it, so here it is on my ironing surface. I left the mistakes in the top, but fixed the blocks that remained so that the border would be correct. In the end it wasn't too much extra work. All ready for Bonnie's 2015 mystery.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Piddling Around

After the debacle with the Bonnie Hunter 2014 Mystery Quilt, I have been procrastinating and just piddling around. The Cultural Fusion Rail Fence quilt that was finished earlier this year, came back from the longarm quilter yesterday. It's now bound and labeled and currently in the washing machine. Tomorrow it will be packed up and mailed to my friend who will use it as a play quilt when the grandbabies visit.

 A closeup of the fun modern panto that Sandi selected. I always give her free rein on quilting my quilts. She has never disappointed me.

At quilt retreat last weekend one of the members had a little table runner project for us to do. I didn't have time as I was on a mission to complete the doomed mystery quilt. But I took the directions with me and she gave me a packet of Christmas charms (the little bitty ones - 2.5") that no one else wanted because they were kind of dark and homespun looking. One of my sisters has a house that is completely furnished with early American antiques. I felt that with a bit brighter fabric for the background and some metallic thread, something nice could be made that would fit with her decor. About that I was correct. The problem, in my opinion, is that this is a raw edge, quilt-as-you-go technique. Yes, it's fast but to my eye it's not all that neatly done.

This raw edge technique is a favorite of Lynn Hagemeier of Kansas Troubles by Moda. She was the guest speaker last year at one of the guilds I belong to. The pictures look nice but up close the technique left a lot to be desired. A friend and I both said we would never make anything using that technique. I am eating my words now. And regretting the decision to use this technique.

You can see a table runner in the photo above that is similar to what we made. Only it looks a lot more even than any of the ones we made, including mine. The squares are laid on top of the background and sewn down around the edges. In the end, I felt there was not enough quilting and I added extra. Maybe that was my undoing. It sure looks rustic.

It was difficult to keep the little squares lined up to see them down. I may attempt this again with some more modern squares for my other sister whose decor is contemporary. Or is this the definition of insanity? You know - repeating the same actions expecting different outcomes?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Uh Oh!

The weekend was a lot of fun with like-minded quilt enthusiasts in attendance. Our guild hosted a weekend quilt retreat and my mission was to get the 2014 Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt, Grand Illusion, pieced. I almost did it. The main "field" is done, with just the borders left to piece and add to the quilt top. This morning as I sat down to tackle this job, I noticed that the 80 blocks left to piece the border from were not all alike. I should have 80 of the blocks on the left above. Instead I have 60 of them and 20 of the type on the right. Oh, dear! What happened here? Basically, it's the old adage, haste makes waste. 20 of the border blocks were pieced into the body of the quilt top. You know what this means! Lots of reverse stitching to replace those 20 blocks with the correct ones.

Although thinking back on things now, I realize that the mistake was made some time ago when the 25 main blocks were pieced together LAST YEAR. As I sat cheerfully sewing along this weekend, the main blocks were already completed. All I had to do was add the green and white checkered sashing pieces to them. Well, fortunately there is another quilt retreat in my future next week. Guess what I'll be doing? As my goal is to get this top finished before the 2015 mystery quilt begins, there is little time for procrastination.

Believe it or not, but there are 20 blocks lurking in this top that do not belong where they are.

Another uh, oh! I see that a number of four patch blocks in the centers of the star are also going every which way. Looks like a total rehab to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Doll Quilt, Neck Ties, and more!

It's been awhile since I posted, but a lot has happened! My daughter was married in mid-September, Bonnie Hunter came to town, and with all that has happened, plus guests from out-of-town, not much time was left for sewing.

This little doll quilt, made from cut-offs from this baby quilt, is ready to be sandwiched and quilted. The larger baby quilt has gone off to Toronto to be hand delivered to its recipient. This doll quilt will follow snail mail as soon as I can get it quilted.

Christine Copenhaver, author of "Necktie Quilts Reinvented", spoke at our guild Friday evening. She displayed the quilts in the book but they have to be seen to be fully appreciated. The lovely silks from discards men's neckties just don't photograph to full advantage. On Saturday we had a half day workshop with Christine and this is the table runner I made from the project packet.

This closeup gives a good detail of the lovely patterns in the ties. And to borrow a phrase from chacuterie, I used everything but the squeak to tease out enough silk from my packet to complete the border.

Someone in the guild gifted me with two bags of neckties, and the results have been so lovely and satisfying, that there are definitely more projects with ties in the my future.

Bonnie Hunter was here the last weekend in September and what a good time we had! Bonnie, Kevin the Quilter, and myself had a fun filled day picnicking in Forest Park, and shopping at the St. Charles Antique Mall. Check out Kevin's extensive post for all the details of that day and the next when Bonnie led us in a workshop of her free pattern, My Blue Heaven. Mine is still in process, but with two quilt retreats coming up this month, there is a better than even chance it will be completed very soon. My colorway differs from the original; there weren't enough blue strips in my scrap drawers to make this quilt, so I branched out to the neighboring colors or turquoise, green, and purple. Here's a sampling of the blocks so far.

A vintage quilt top came home with me from the antique mall. It is a hummingbird or periwinkle star pattern - all hand pieced and in remarkably good condition. Here is a modern version from Red Pepper Quilts. The vintage version was hand pieced and there is no evidence of any type of paper foundation used. I was hoping to learn a little more about its age from our guild member who is an AQS appraiser, but she wasn't at this month's meeting. Here are two closeups of the blocks with a ruler for comparison. These are tiny pieces!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dapper Canon Top Finished

Dapper Canon baby quilt top is finished. Now to sandwich and quilt. This afternoon I am meeting my daughter and two of her friends at the dressmaker's to pick up her wedding dress and learn how to bustle the train. Six days and counting!

Welcome to two new followers - Feathers in My Nest and Sujata!