Whit Mini Quilt Finished

I made this little quilt to hang in my living room. It did end up taking about as much time to make as a full-size quilt. It looks nice on the wall and was a good lesson in patience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After some simple quilting I simply stapled it to a canvas.

Whit back

The borders are extra wide so if I ever want to take it off the canvas and bind it, there will be plenty of fabric to do so.

Now it’s time to get back to making real quilts!

Trimming Mini Flying Geese

Every time I work on a small project I think it takes as much time to make a mini as it does a full-size quilt.  This latest little wall hanging was no exception.  Awhile back I came across a pattern called Little Bites Whit by Miss Rosie’s Quilt Company.  It intrigued me because it called for making flying geese blocks from 2-1/2 “ squares.  I had a couple of mini charm packs so thought it might be fun to use them in this project.

Almost as soon as I started this, I realized it would require two techniques I try to avoid at all costs:  trimming up blocks and pressing seams open.  It took awhile but I finally got the flying geese blocks sewn and then came the dreaded task of trimming them all.  For years my mantra has been: cut accurately, sew accurately and be done with it.  It didn’t work for this so I got down to business and started trimming.

The process was made much easier with the Shape Cut ruler.  If I could have only one ruler in my studio, this would be it.  It works particularly well for trimming blocks.  These little flying geese were to be cut 1-1/2” x 2-1/2” so I started by aligning the long side of the block along the dashed 1/4” line and cut in the 2” slot.

FG trim-step 1

Then, rotate the unit 180 degrees and line up the edge you just cut along the zero line, and cut in the 1-1/2” slot.

FG trim step 2

Last, rotate the unit 90 degrees to trim the sides.  I have a piece of wonder tape along a slot in the ruler to center the goose tip.  Cut along the sides to cut the unit 2-1/2”.

FG trim step 3

Now repeat that 143 times and you’ll have enough blocks to make a little wall hanging.

Once I started sewing the blocks together it really helped that I centered the tip of the goose.  My blocks went together nicely and everything seemed to line up without cutting off any points.

FG trim-7

In order to reduce the bulk in these units, I pressed the seams open.  For many reasons, I don’t like seams pressed open but that’s a blog post for another time.  In this case it helped to make these really flat. 

All of these steps take a lot of time, but I’m hoping it’s worth it in the end.

DWM: Sideways and Byways

This top just needs borders to become a completed flimsy and wait its turn in the to-be-quilted pile.  The pattern is Sideways and Byways by This & That.  All the fabric came from stash so that’s a win.  The pattern doesn’t show an outer border but I’m planning to add one using the same fabric that’s in the nine patches and center rectangles.  I have plenty of the fabric, it passed the audition and it will end up being a better donation size quilt.

S &

So far my quilting marathon hasn’t gotten off the ground.  I finished quilting the Parson Gray quilt, loaded another one, then stalled out.  Last week was the Fox Cities Book Festival and I ended up going to see several authors/speakers so my days were chopped up and I never got back to quilting.  The book festival is only here a week so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. 

One of the highlights from the book festival was Miami Herald opinion writer Leonard Pitts, Jr. whose column “A Letter to a Son on His 18th Birthday” I cut out of the paper in 2000 and still read from time to time.  That was back when our local paper carried syndicated columnists Sad smile.  It was also fun to see Brittney Gibbons (Fat Girl Walking) who is probably best known as the “curvy girl” who was filmed on Good Morning America standing in Times Square in her bathing suit or maybe for her unconventional Ted Talk.  I also went to programs by Michael Perry (The Jesus Cow: A Novel), David Sheff (Beautiful Boy), and Carine McCandless (The Wild Truth) so it was a nice variety of topics.  I also added a bunch of books to my reading list since now I want to read everything by these authors.

In other non-quilting news, we have a new grand-puppy.  This is Riggs with his older brother Randy.

puppies-2

puppies

You can see who won the toy battle.  They are so cute and I look forward to walking them this week—when I’m not quilting!

Be sure to check out other design wall projects using the links at Patchwork Times.

On the Frame: Parson Gray Scrap Quilt

This quilt is the only one that’s been on the frame this week and it is really boring quilting—just straight lines.  It’s a masculine quilt so feathers and curls wouldn’t look right.

Early in April I decided to pick two UFO’s and try to complete them.  This top just needed the borders attached, then quilting and binding.  I started it last year after making a commission quilt from mostly Parson Gray fabric.  There was leftover fabric from that quilt and not much in my stash plays nicely with it so I cut it all up and made this one.

Fabric really IS like sourdough starter.  You have scraps left over from one quilt, then add a few more fabrics and make another quilt.  Of course, there are still some scraps left from this new quilt so you add some more fabric and before you know it there is enough for yet another quilt.  And on and on.  It seems like it takes forever for a piece of fabric to be really gone from my stash.  I’ll think there’s no more left, then come across it in one of the strip drawers or boxes of random squares.  A non-quilting friend was over the other day and she remarked about how the quilts on display at my house are all so color coordinated.  Well, that’s because most of them are stash quilts from the same stash.  I think you might have to be a quilter to understand that.

Fortunately, the quilting is almost finished on this one.  I’m ready to make some swirls!

Parson Gray-frame

First Finish of 2016

Weather wise the past weekend was picture perfect here in northeast Wisconsin.  I spent some time both Saturday and Sunday outside on the deck hand stitching the binding on my Robbing Peter to Pay Paul Quilt.  It’s taken me just about a year to finish this quilt.  It wasn’t at all difficult, it just hasn’t been a priority.

This was my first experience sewing blocks that had been cut using an AccuQuilt and I was sold on it.  I purchased a “Go” cutter a few months ago along with some dies to cut more irregular shapes.  Cutting strips, rectangles and squares is still way faster with the Shape Cut ruler, but pieces like this that are curved go together beautifully when cut with the AccuQuilt.

While I was stitching I started thinking about how everyone seems to do binding differently.  Last week my sewing group was here and several members were working on binding.  I don’t think any of them do it like I do.  Most really like the Clover binding clips and clip the binding down before hand stitching it.  The way I work, the clips are just in the way so I don’t clip or pin any of it before sewing.

I hold the quilt face up on my lap and fold the edge back so there is just 3-4 inches of the back and binding facing up.

binding-1.jpg

 

I stitch from right to left and turn the binding under and hold it down with my thumb as I go along.  When I insert the needle, I go through the backing and catch the batting, making sure I don’t go all the way through to the quilt front.  Then I just catch a small bite of the binding before taking the next stitch.  I like to make sure the binding is “full” as I go around.  Unlike many quilters I don’t trim my quilts until after the binding has been machine sewn to the front.  I like to make sure there is plenty of batting in the binding so they aren’t skimpy.

binding-2

I use a double strand of thread for binding and I “split” the strands as I stitch to help prevent the thread from knotting and tangling.  Since I’ve been doing this, I rarely have problems with any thread.  By splitting the strands, they separate and don’t tangle as you draw the thread through!

binding 3

So ta-da, the quilt is finished!  This is one I’m planning to keep at least for awhile.  It will hang in my stairwell.  When we bought this house 21 years ago, I thought that would be the perfect place to hang quilts and I’ve never had one there.  In my defense, it’s not very accessible, but I’m going to figure out a way to do it because the colors in this quilt will be perfect there.

RPTPP

 

This must be the latest “first finish” of the year since I’ve been quilting.  Not very encouraging given that I’m trying to use up stash and finish UFO’s.  I have been quilting, just not getting anything finished. Hoping the warm weather continues so I can happily finish bindings while sipping mojitos on the deck!

DWM: Modern Neutrals

A couple of months ago I cut out these blocks and kind of forgot about them.  I stumbled across them while looking for something else and decided it would be a good project for some mindless piecing over the weekend.  The blocks are made from a jelly roll and matching charm pack of Modern Neutrals by Amy Ellis.

Modern Neutrals

The blocks are now off the design wall and ready to sew together.  This week, I’m hoping to have a quilting marathon and get some quilts ready for binding.  In the next few weeks we have a number of little trips planned and I would like to have some hand sewing ready for times I’m away from my sewing machine.

To check out other design wall projects, click on the links at Patchwork Times.

Looking Forward or Back?

My husband, Jim has had this print since I’ve known him.

Janus

At various times it has hung in our home (usually in the basement) and most recently in his office. When he retired, it returned home and is back in the basement where I see it when I go down to my sewing room.  It is a picture of Janus—at least the top part is. I’m not sure what the bottom is supposed to be; maybe what’s inside his head, but it looks kind of empty.  Anyway, Janus is the Roman god of transition, doorways, beginnings and endings. He looks both to the future and the past.

Janus describes me when it comes to quilting. I have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of UFO’s and a few fabric cupboards that look like this (although most are NOT this neatly stacked):

traditional cupboard

and a couple that look like this:

modern cupboard

Every time I go down to work it is a tough decision whether to work on a UFO or start a new project.  And if I start something new, should it be from traditional fabric or modern?  Do all long-time quilters face these dilemmas?

Last year’s experiment revealed a sobering reality; I’m not sewing fast enough. In March 2015 I cut 40 yards of fabric into 2-1/2″ strips. So far I’ve made about 12 quilts from these strips and I have one more set to use. Now granted, I’ve used far more than 40 yards in making these quilts and I’m very curious to see the total yards busted when I finish them and do the final reckoning.  I’m sure it will be well over 100 yards but the sad fact is I have no visual evidence of a reduction in my stash.

For the most part, I really like the quilts I make with traditional fabric but I also love the new stuff. Isn’t that what drew most of us into quilting–gorgeous fabrics that made our heads spin with possibility? So now I’m finding myself looking back at my “old” stash yet feeling giddy when I look forward to the fresh, contemporary prints.

Jim may have tipped the scale when he told me if I ever want to move to a warmer climate I’d better get rid of all those bins because we aren’t paying to move them. I do hate winter so for now, I guess I’ll just try to sew faster!

Stash Report: April 17, 2016
Fabric In: 0 yards
Fabric Out: 0 yards
Fabric Purchased Year-to-date:  24 yards
Fabric Used Year-to-date: 1.5 yards
Net Gain: 22.5 yards

Linking up with Stash Reports at Patchwork Times.

Picking Up Where I Left Off

It has been a long time since I’ve done ANY sewing.  It was the summer of walking and walk we did, but now it’s time to get back to business.

When my husband Jim retired in July, he had never taken more than one week of vacation at a time so we planned a trip to change take advantage of his new found leisure time. We hiked England’s Coast to Coast path. To prepare for walking 10-18 miles a day, we walked all summer long.  By the time we left on September 16, we were regularly walking 10-12 miles or 3-4 hours every day.  That’s a lot of time walking and it didn’t leave much time for other activities.  It paid off though and we successfully hiked over 200 miles from St. Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea.  We had a wonderful time, met lots of really nice people and saw spectacular scenery.  If you are interested in our trip, I blogged about it here (you’ll have to scroll backwards on the blog to get to the beginning since it’s chronological).

Ever since we got home, I’ve been looking forward to getting back in the sewing room. When we left, I had just “fixed” some blocks that were sewn wrong.  I’m still working on the 40 yard dash (marathon) quilts and am making rectangle chain blocks.  For some reason, I was thinking that the blocks just needed to be rotated to make the chain. Once I started laying the blocks I realized the blocks need to be mirror images in order to make the chain.

This:

stairstep rectangle

Does not equal this:

stairstep rectangle 2

Fortunately, it was an easy fix and I was able to arrange the blocks and get the top sewn together.  I’m hoping to find enough time to audition borders tomorrow.

stairstep rectangle 3

It’s really nice to travel, but the hum of the sewing machine is music to my soul!

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