Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Stash: Mystery Quilt Pull

I'm playing at the Sunday Stash party with the fantastic and fanciful Molli Sparkles for a second week in a row! When I started writing about my quilting adventures I didn't have a stash to speak of. I cringed at the sound of the word. 'Stash' gave me chills. When I heard someone say it, I couldn't help but think that if I did have a 'stash' then I would have to admit to my hidden, crafty, quilt-making obsession. I would have to 'come-out' of the quilting closet!

 I have accepted myself as a quilter. I find that I am drawn to places that other quilters frequent, like fabric shoppes and sewing expos. I now know where like-minded people hang out on the internet and learn from those who have accepted and embraced their quilty habits. I look up to those who generously share their insight and impeccable work. I choose to be an out and proud quilter! There I said it.  

 One might think that as a proud young quilter I would become accustom to my growing collection of quilting fabric, but honestly, I still have reservations about my stash. First let me show you the good stuff, then if you would like to stick around, I'll tell you about the skepticism surrounding the stash.

What is that paper all about?

The selection above is what I've chosen for a fun Mystery Quilt hosted by Cheryl over at Meadow Mist Designs. The fun is just about to begin, so you should check it out if you want to play along. All I know so far is that we need three groups of fabric: A, B, and C, and the suggested amounts for each which are detailed at her blog. 

For Group A, the main fabrics of the quilt, I have a selection of magenta inspired fabrics. From left to right there is: 
  •  Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton in Magenta that has been in my stash since last summer and used in the Summer Sampler Series. (you can read more about my experience with that here.)
  • Carolyn Friedlander Architextures crosshatch in ???
  • Nellie's Garden 415C also a magenta with hints of orange.
  • Phillip Jacobs for Rowan. Westminster. 

Group B is the background fabric. I am choosing to use only one fabric for the background. It is this fantastic feeling grey cotton. I cannot remember who makes it, or what the exact color is, but I do remember that the kind person at the fabric shop saying that this brand has quickly become the staff favorite because of it's soft feel and slight sheen. It's actually a bit darker, but there is some reflective light bouncing back from it.

For Group C, the accent colors, I have some bright citrus colors that I think play well with Group A. Clockwise from upper right there is:
  • A random chartreuse quilters solid left over from my WERQ Bee block (JoAnn's Fabric)
  • Timeless Treasures Screen Texture in Tangerine
  • Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Crosshatch in Tangerine

Well you're here at the bottom of the page with me, so now the "SKEPTICISM SURROUNDING STASHES" 
1.  The perfect stash is an unobtainable goal. I sometimes feel that an underlying message in online media is to buy, buy, buy (And I don't mean the 'N Sync version). I see images of beautiful work rooms with shelves of lovely fabrics and well organized notions. I know that these images represent only a handful of quilters, but equate them to unrealistic images of models in magazines. That image takes, hard work, sacrifice, time and money.

2.Too much fabric may stifle creativity. I have been known to buy fabric because it's gorgeous and I just want it. Then comes along a brilliant pattern that the gorgeous fabric would work perfectly for, but I have in my mind decided that the fabric is too dear to me to use. What if it doesn't look right? What if there is something better for this fabric to come along? I have a couple of fabrics that I'm going to bite the bullet and make use of here, so that they are not just a part of the stash. 

3.. Finally and most importantly, I feel that having a stash of fabric goes against the traditional nature of patchwork. A hobby, craft, and art that appears founded in frugality has taken on a lavish tone. I think it is important to 'start where you're at and use what you have.' I'm fortunate to have the ability to supplement my projects with new fabrics, but would like to ensure that none of my purchases go on wasted. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love fabric. I love the colors, the patterns, the textures and even the smell. I probably would have a fantastically plentiful stash, but then I would wonder how I would find the time to use it all up.

Do you have trepidation about a stash? Are you stash busting or stash growing? I would love to know your point of view on the topic!  

Molli Sparkles


Do you ever have an idea for a blog post but while you're prepping for it, the content changes as if it has a mind of it's own? I intended to share with you the finished quilt block that I wrote about earlier this week. I was so excited to share the finished block by posting a picture here. That was the initial reason for the post, just a quick update, and to ask if anyone had any insight about curved seams and slightly wavy fabric. (I think the inset circle is slightly too large because of mishaps with the millions of seams making it so the whole thing is doing a great impression of gentle gulf waves.)

Before I could take a picture though, I wanted to give the block one last press to see if it could be just a little more flat. That's when my iron decided to leak some ghastly brownish orange liquid on my quilt block!  What do you do when your iron pees on your fabric!? What is wrong with my iron?! I decided to take a picture to show the damage. The lighting last night did not show the extent of the damage, so I knew I would take additional photos in the daylight before I could finish up my post.

Here is a close up of the damaged area. I'm not sure if you can see it, a slight rust stain around those precious points. Now the purpose of the post is a plea for help! 

But wait there is more! I was fidgeting with the functions of my phone's camera trying to get a more clear shot of the destruction when this popped up: 

Google Goggles is an app that I had heard about and downloaded a couple of days ago to play with. My understanding is that you could use it to take pictures of QR codes, UPC symbols and major logos and then search the internet based on the image. This is probably no big deal to the 'tech-ier' people of the world, but advances in technology are always surprising to me. Google Goggles scanned the image and was able to decipher what the main fabric was and then located it on sale on the internet! I should clarify, that while I did not intentionally use the app to search for the fabric, the app was running in the background of my phone from playing with it a couple of days ago. Now this post has more of a "I need to share about this 'What?!' strange/intriguing thing that just happened and ask if anyone else has been using the app?" kind of tone. 

Have you ever had a blog post go in a completely different direction than what you intended? Do you use Google Goggles? What other apps do you use in your quilt making?

I'm linking up with Diana at Red Delicious Life, who is guest hosting Anything Goes Monday!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Let's Be Social: Socialize

Do you have a shelf full of quilty books and magazines with oodles of projects that you would love to try? I know I do. I also bounce from one idea to another recklessly. This is why I have abandoned my list of projects for the Finish Along over at The Littlest Thistle and have set my quilty bucket list on the back burner! 

The project was featured on the cover of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine July/August 2007. The magazine provides templates to paper piece the compass blocks of a much more complex pieced and appliqued quilt called Sunshine Rose Garden by Kathy Nakajima. 

I feel that I am on a path of quilting discovery. I enjoy paper piecing, I enjoy improvisational piecing, I like both modern and traditional designs. I guess I'm trying to find out how to best utilize these methods, practices and concepts to make what is my own. Adrianne at On The Windy Side posted a great interview fiber artist Chawne at completely cauchy. I'm not sure how to explain this, but I think I needed Chawne in my life. I happened upon her first today while perusing instagram and then as I opened up my blog dashboard, there she was again, the subject of Adrianne's interview! While all of this may be coincidental, I find most surprising that Chawne has perfectly created the quilt that I have been mentally designing for over a year and bravely started setting to paper earlier this morning, but she finished her's in 2012! Why today?

Have you ever had a moment where it feels like the universe is conspiring to lead you down a specific path?

Linking up with Let's Be Social at Sew Fresh Quilts and the lovely Lorna McMahon.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Stash

I often feel guilty when I shop for fabric, especially when I make a purchase without a plan for what it is to become. Yesterday, however, Shark suggested that the fabric store be a part of our Saturday adventure. While I was hesitant about going into the store because I knew how dangerous it could be, he was encouraging.. He picked out this clock fabric, it was in the 50% off bin.

Also in the 50% off bin was this fantastic illustrative fabric from Alexander Henry. I was eyeing this fabric the last time we were in the store, but didn't get any. This time, at half off, I bought the end of the bolt.

The chartreuse and grey caught my eye.The dotted chartreuse pattern is a Ty Pennington design. The grey is from Andover. 

Shark also found this great line. While not in the half off bin, I had a hard time passing up on the colors and kitsch. 

Finally, there was this batik. The lighter batik (below), from Robert Kaufman seemed like the perfect match for the mossy striped batik (also from Robert Kaufman) I purchased last weekend on my second trip to Heartfelt Quilting and Sewing of the week! Herein lies my initial hesitation to going to a fabric store. . .I had already purchased 2 other times less than a week ago! If you don't know me, I have a thing for striped fabrics and have been working on a couple of projects involving stripes, you can see more about those, here (also a rather compulsive stripey purchase!) and here

Alas, I'm not sure I like how the light fabric plays with the stripes. I think it makes mossy colors look too heavy. I may compliment them with a medium grey to lighten and brighten the colors. 

I am linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash. I would say that he has served as a catalyst for me write about my quilting adventures, and to pursue quilting more heavily. Thanks Molli!

Molli Sparkles

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rings N' Things Block

Woot! I get to play host to the WERQ Bee this month! I've been struggling to come up with a plan for the block I would like, but here goes. A curved seam quilt has been a dream of mine for quite some time. The inspiration and templates for this block came from the book Link to the '30's: Making the Quilts We Didn't Inherit by Kay Connors and Karen Earlywine which I mentioned before on my quilty bucket list.  
A finished, albeit wrinkly Rings 'n Things block.

In an attempt to modernize this block, called Rings 'n Things, I am requesting the block be made in values of grey, and various citrus colors. I like the thought of pink grapefruit in the mix, but also like brighter oranges and yellows. 
citrus crush
Color inspiration from Design Seeds.
Now to assemble the materials. You'll need:
  • a copy of the templates (The pattern can be found on the publisher's website, Martingale).
  • a quarter cut of grey fabric for each block (I found I only used about half of this.)
  • a quarter cut of citrus color fabric for each block (again, I used slightly less.) 
  • a means to transfer the template (I used freezer paper.)
  • all the other sewing goodies, scissors, sewing machine, pins, iron, etc.

Getting the supplies ready to make the template.
There are probably countless other (and easier) ways to cut out these pattern pieces, so of course you can use what you know, or follow along with me for a way I thought worked really well. I created templates on freezer paper. These templates took a little time and planning, but made it easy to cut the curves and minimized stretching the fabric. This block calls for 4 of each of the template pieces A,B, and C. Each of the pattern/template pieces has an arrow to indicate the fabric grain line, so I started my templates by drawing guidelines on the non shiny side of my freezer paper using my rotary cut ruler and a pencil. (The shiny side of the paper is the one that sticks to the fabric when you iron it down.) These lines were parallel to each other and mimicked the grain line of the fabric. 
In this horrible, upside down picture, you can see the very light horizontal and vertical guidelines that mimic the grain of the fabric.
Next, place the printed template under the freezer paper lining up the directional arrows with the guidelines. Trace with pencil. I only traced the outside cutting line, the directional arrows, and dashed 1/4" seam line. Move the template and trace again. I liked how I could plan out where pieces would go.    
Notice on the arc pieces how the directional arrows are all lined up. 
Each template blob fits nicely on a 1/4 yard cut, except the arcs of piece 'B.' I moved one of those arcs to it's own place on the fabric making sure the directional arrow followed a grain line of the fabric.
I cut these templates out in big blobs with all of the same pieces together. I planned each of the blobs so they would fit onto a quarter yard cut of fabric. Next, iron the entire template blob to the fabric, I ironed mine to the wrong side of the fabric, but I suppose it doesn't matter. Also when I ironed the freezer paper on, I used the cotton setting and placed the iron directly onto the paper. The shiny side of the freezer paper is facing the fabric. Then I turned the whole thing over and ironed the back of the fabric too! 

*Disclaimer time* I'm not really sure if I'm using the best techniques, or the "right way." I'm just sharing my personal experience with this quilt block along with some thoughts and ideas, and maybe ruining good scissors in the process. Please use your best judgement, and the vast knowledge of the Google if you think any of my directions are sounding like a crazy person! Also you can leave a comment or question and I and/or other readers will respond. *End Disclaimer*

So I ironed all of those big template blobs to my fabric and went to town cutting them all out. It wasn't until I was all done and realized I was using the "scissors I vowed to only use to cut fabric" to cut through not only fabric but also FREEZER PAPER! I'm not sure if this is a bad thing, or a good thing, if I ruined my scissors, but perhaps something to take in to consideration when choosing your weapon cutting tool. I really liked having all of the extra paper on the template because I felt that it added stability when I was cutting. 

I did try another method (shown in the picture above to the right), I cut all of the freezer paper template pieces and ironed them to the fabric separately. This also worked well, but there was not as much stability as the paper template blob, and I noticed that I was leaving a teeny bit of fabric hanging out from the edges of the template. Does this really change the block? I'm not sure, but I figure that if I were to make an entire quilt this way, I would be consistent in my cutting and only choose one method so that all of the pieces are the same size. By the way, don't those pieces look pretty all cut out!? In addition to the curved pieces from the template, there is a square that is 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" that goes right in the center of this arrangement.
The pieces cut and laid out.

Getting down to business!
Lets sew these bits together!
These are the first three pieces to put together.
Start with the square and two of the template 'A' pieces. Sew these pieces to opposite sides of the square, aligning the edges and placing fabrics right sides together. Press so that the seams are towards the 'A' pieces.

Here the left and right sides are sewed and pressed, and now it's time to add the top and the bottom.
Sew the last two 'A' pieces to the top and the bottom in the same manner as the the others.

Now it's taking shape. I love how the square floats in the middle.
It's time to add some arcs!
Now to sew one arc piece 'B' into each of the curves. After I made my blocks and took all the pictures for this post I decided to look at videos about curved piecing and found a great tutorial at Fons and Porter on YouTube. This tutorial is so great, it may just make the rest of my post unnecessary. I will continue on though, if you would like to follow along. I used the methods described in Link to the '30's for curved piecing and will show you what I did, but I think the video makes it so much easier!

First find the center of each curve. Fold the arc piece in half and finger press to find the center. The pieced curve already has a center as indicated by the point of the square. Lay these two pieces right sides together. Here the video says, "We always want to sew with a smile, so the smile curve is placed on top." I thought was clever and helpful. 

Here I'm aligning the point of the square with the finger pressed center of the arc. Next pin these together. The video suggests using a 'small bite' with the pin for this center pinning. Mine was perhaps a little too big and as I discovered while sewing is that this big bite does not allow the fabric to move as much as necessary for the curve to be successful.

Next, I pinned the far ends of the arc 'B' with the curves of the pieced center. Here it is OK to take a bigger 'bite' with the pin because the ends should stay where they are. The book I am following suggests using more pins, which I did, and I think was helpful, but as the video points out 'small bites' with the pins allow the fabric to move more, which I will ensure I do on my next attempt. Sew the pieces with a 1/4" seam allowance. Work slowly to ensure the edges of the fabric stay aligned and that the curved pieces do not fold or pucker into themselves. Do you see that big crease in the grey fabric of the photo below? The crease that is just above the point of the snippy scissors? Yeah that is a crease that was made because I wasn't careful and the fabric got bunched up and I sewed a seam right through the bunched up fabric mess! It happens! Thankfully a little seam ripper action helped me out and I was back in business. 

The book also suggests making small clips to the seam allowance of the curve. I did, but as good ol' Fons and Porter point out, the curved seam will lay a certain way all on it's own. So you can just press the seams in this natural direction without clipping. Follow the curved piecing techniques to add the remaining 'B' arcs.
Look, the square is still floating, and the corners do not touch the arcs! I love it!
The same curved piecing techniques are used to place the smaller corner pieces.

According to the book the finished block should be 12 1/2" square, so that it is 12" square in the quilt. My test blocks have all been about this size. So if you are a WERQr, I'd like if you would not trim the blocks, that way there is more room to play when I construct the quilt top.

Well I hope this thoroughly describes how to construct the July WERQ Bee block. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below. If you are a WERQr Bee, please use the FB forum for questions and we can help each other. That's what we're there for. :)

Linking up with Caroline at SewCanShe and Show Off Saturday! I think I will be trying her duct tape basting trick! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Finding Time

Spring break spoiled me! I had tons of time to really get down and dirty with my sewing machine and bring some of the quilty ideas from my head into fruition. Wait, I must not lie. Things didn't come to full fruition, but I did create some more WIP's (Work In Progress.) Foremost is this wild ride of stripey goodness. Since my last update, I have made some progress.

I created four squares for the center of this quilt, each a nine patch of mitered stripes and a half border of those triangle things that I have seen on the traditional bear paw block. I have been designing this as I go, and without a proper design wall I have laid ideas out on the floor and snapped poorly framed pictures from above in an effort to help me decide. 

My original idea calls for sashing between these blocks which will provide more separation and allow each of the four blocks a presence of their own. 

I knew that I would like these original four blocks to be the center of something larger. I found an image in little book that I received from my secret Santa my first year of teaching about Amish Quilts which gave me the idea of a diamond within a square and continuing with the those bear paw or saw tooth points. The drawing tucked under the half square triangles above was the next incarnation of the design. I used the purple highlighter to indicate which parts I had completed.

The design continues to take shape with a mix of mitered stripes and my low volume background fabrics fashioned into a shape for which I have no name... These two pictures were taken while I was perched atop an 8 foot ladder so I could get the whole layout in the shot. Grr, the lack of design wall is killing me! I like the layout above and the movement the shapes have. Ok, so here is a little tip, that perhaps you already know, but a really great way to see color value, or the differences between the lights and darks of an image is to squint your eyes. Give it a try, when you squint and look at the photo above you may see a pinwheel shape in the red fabrics. Below you may be apt to focus on the vertical column of red that runs through the center of the quilt. 

What tips to help you through the design of a project? I'd love to hear your ideas and really any advice you might have about a design wall! I really need to stop this insanity and save myself from toppling from the ladder. 

I'm linking up with the lovely Lorna McMahon at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Be Social. It's a great way to meet some new friends, see what your old friends are up to and soak up tons of great inspiration! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Quilty Coaster Ride

Tonight I was sewing to help melt the worries of work away. Sometimes a little sew time is all I need to lift my mood and sometimes that sew time is surprisingly  productive. I've been working with this great stripe fabric that has had me on a quilting roller coaster ride. 

I hung the fabric from a tree while I doused it with starch. It's a new technique that I think I will be adopting for future endeavors. I love how stiff and almost paper like the fabric has become. 

I was headed to the peak of the lift hill as I purchased the yardage, dreaming about how I might use it. I zoomed down the first hill to a low when I realized the fabric has too many variations to experiment with this graphic quilt design I've been playing with. I banked to the left and through a loop when I came up with a new idea, then the coaster plunged lower as I realized I was not using my fabric wisely. 

My new idea, which may become the center for a medallion style quilt. I'm still not sure.

I was following the method of making half square triangles (HST) whereby you take two squares of fabric, placing them right sides together and draw a line diagonally from one corner to another, stitching 1/4" on each side of the line and then cutting them apart. It wasn't until I had 48 of these that I realized how important it was to take note of the direction of the diagonal line when using a striped directional fabric as one the squares. As you will see in the final picture of this post I need some of these HST that have stripes that go in one direction, and other HST that have stripes in the other direction.

Fortunately, (if I may continue my roller coaster metaphor) I think I've reached a second lift hill in this ride and am ready for the twists and turns that will follow. I have one portion of my design complete!

I think this progress calls for a little party. I'm linking up with the WIP Wednesday Party at Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts. I really hope I make a win from Canton Village Quilt Works, the sponsor of the party.