Friday, July 28, 2017

Little Things

After working on bigger quilt projects the last few weeks, I decided I needed a week of little quilts. So, once again, I pulled from that large stack of unfinished projects and got started. First, I finished off a little Civil War reproduction quilt of tiny triangles.

This one gets to be a mug rug on the table by the cozy chair in my office. I wasn't really happy with how the quilting came out (I used paper that distorted the stitches), but decided I wasn't unhappy enough to redo it. Done is done!

The next one is a copy of a swap quilt from years ago. I had liked it enough at the time that I cut out a second set of patches and set them aside for myself. The border fabric makes me think of rainy fall days and wet leaves on a wet sidewalk. I found myself listening to the Carpenters's "Rainy Days and Mondays" as I sewed. So nostalgic!

The next one is another swap quilt copy. The theme for that swap was books and my partner was a big Wizard of Oz fan. After I printed off a sheet of the book covers for her mini, I printed off another one for myself. And speaking of nostalgia, this takes me back to childhood -- way back, just past the dark ages, when there was no cable tv, no streaming, no videos, just whatever played on ABC, CBS, or NBC. Every year it seemed, one of them broadcast the Wizard of Oz. I always loved it. And then there was the magical night when I was at a sleepover at my best friend's house and discovered that there were Oz books. In fact, there was a whole set of them! Once she fell asleep, I spent the rest of the night, enchanted, devouring one book after another. Here's to joyful wonder.

Ruby slippers and all. Because . . . of course.

Moving on, I finally finished the quilting and binding for the reproduction X-block quilt. I love the softness of this one.

And then, one last small project finally finished -- the tote bag using kaleidoscope blocks for pockets.

Because you can never have too many tote bags. At least not in my world. (A teacher's life means there is always plenty to tote about!)

And having had my fun playing with little things for a week, I'm ready now to get back to that larger medallion quilt. Onward, onward.

And hey, little things means I've moved five (count them . . .  five!) projects from undone to done.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bit by Bit, Putting It Together

I'm still working on projects that have been sitting around. This one goes back to 1998, I think. Whew.

I am really close on this. I have most of the piecing for the next borders done. First, the squares in a square you can see here, and then another border of triangles. I just need to figure out the spacer border strips.

I also finished up the round robin baby quilt I had got back to earlier in the spring.

That's headed towards a baby who just arrived a few weeks ago. Isn't that a better place for it than sitting half-done in my closet? (Why, yes, Terrie. Yes, it is. Who knew?)

And, let's hear it for eye surgery. I can once again see well enough to hand quilt! So I'm finishing up this little mini. All I have to do is a line of quilting along the outside edge of the painter's tape. Then, binding. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Next I'm pulling out an old hand quilting project that goes back even further than that 98 medallion!

I am ALL about finishing projects at the moment. I have to admit, I feel burdened by the (embarrassingly large) stack of finished but unquilted, nearly finished, half-finished, and the scattered, hopeful "we've only just begun(s)." Sometimes I see new projects that would be fun to start but then I think about all that's waiting and I flat out wilt.

So, now's the time. Progress may be slow but at least it is progress. I'll also say, though, that it's important to me that I enjoy doing this. I would hate it if working on these older projects just felt like a chore. Fortunately, I'm really enjoying working on them again. And it is a thrill to see them cross the finish line.

Well, some of them are just getting closer to the finish line. I'll take it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Red, White, and Blue

To all those celebrating, happy 4th of July!  

What a good day for a flag project, right? I'm still pulling out old projects to work on. This morning I finally created a setting for a little needle-punch house and flag I had done up years ago.

That's supposed to be a star in the blue corner of the flag. Of course. My own true love asked why the flag has a fish on it. Okay, then. It's just part of that homemade charm we all love (and some of us achieve more naturally than others).

The binding is a half inch instead of a quarter because of a mistake I made, but sometimes mistakes are for the best. I think the wider binding is a better choice for this one. Let's hear it for the oops that make things better rather than worse!

This last week I finished the blocks for the star quilt and assembled the blocks into rows. I'm waiting to put the rows together though. I signed up for a Craftsy class on machine quilting in sections and I'm considering it for this project. (I've quilted in sections before but I definitely need to refine my technique). In any case, glad to be done with four-inch stars!

I really like the design on this quilt. Ultimately, I'll add a narrowish red border and a wider blue border. Decisions for another day. 

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the rest of our Independence Day,  remembering the celebrations of my childhood. We'd go to my aunt's where we'd eat lots of good food, pick cherries right off the tree, play ping-pong, throw horse-shoes, and climb trees. Lovely memories. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

I Can Almost

See Clearly Now

At least, that's the plan. I'm in-between cataract surgeries. Things are looking pretty wonky with one eye recovering from the surgery and my other eye its out of focus self. I'm feeling particularly grateful to the library for downloadable audio books! 

I had my own true love searching through the romance category for me. Poor guy. The titles nearly did him in. I'm late on the audio book train. I've always preferred just to read, but so far I've been through a Debbie Macomber novella and novel and I'm just about halfway through a Eileen Goudge novel. 

I set up some lightweight work for the sewing room. Lord knows what I'll think of my seams once I get decent eyesight again, but finished and imperfect is better than unfinished perfect in mind only, right? 

I pulled out a project I started years ago. Now it's up on my newly created design wall. (I have a design wall! I have a design wall! After all these years, I have a design wall! -- Can you tell I'm thrilled?)

I designed this years ago in EQ. Now I'm remembering why I shoved it in the closet partway done all those years ago. That's a lot of 4" stars!

Still, coming onto the fourth, this seemed like a good project to work on. 

Since I designed it in EQ, it was possible to come up with some really different looking versions. Here's the red, white, and blue version I'm working on: 

And here it is in reproduction pink and brown: 

It never ceases to amaze me what color and fabric choice does to a design. 

And so, this is it for me. I'm done squinting at the screen. Time to listen to a book on tape for a bit. I'm enjoying that more than I expected. I read relatively fast, so having the experience where every word gets its due is new for me. I'm enjoying it a lot more than I expected I would. Old dog, new tricks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

GO! Bee Coasters

This week I was distracted by one of my favorite AccuQuilt GO! projects -- circle coasters.

I love how easy the GO! makes these to make. The directions for these coasters are all over the web, so you can find detailed tutorials elsewhere. Look for Criss-Cross Coasters, such as here and here. I should note that some of the other tutorials don't use batting. I like the extra body and support some batting inside provides, so that's how I prefer to make mine. It's not necessary though. Here's a brief rundown on directions of how I make mine for anyone so interested.

I use the GO! Circles die for the 5" fabric circles and the Dresden Plate die for the 4" batting circles.

First, cut out circles --  5" circles out of the fabric and 4" circles of batting. Each single coaster takes six fabric circles (4 for the four-patch top, 1 for the backing, 1 for the lining) and one batting circle.

Choose the four fabrics for the top and iron them in half.

Then create the layers, starting from the bottom.
1. The lining circle, right side down.
2. The batting centered in the circle.

3. The backing fabric right side up.
4. The first of the half circles.

5. Place the second of the half-circles perpendicular to the first.
6. The third and fourth half-circles continue to work around, with half of the fourth half-circle tucked beneath the first. I use a ruler to make sure my four patch is square.

After that, I clip the circles with wonder clips. I make sure both the front and back are lying flat.

Then sew a 1/4" seam around the edge.

Turn it inside out and there it is, one perfect circle.

With pretty fabric on the back, too, so these are double-sided. (I love that).

We have new patio furniture (well, we have the parts -- my own true love still needs to assemble them).  I'm looking forward to sitting out on the patio in the evening, sipping a glass of wine, and appreciating the bees which have spent a busy afternoon pollinating our flowers. Soon, I tell myself.

I've used the GO! for coaster sets before. I made a fuller tutorial using Insul-Brite instead of batting since I wanted to use them inside with hot mugs of coffee. I also used the Round Flower die on them so that the backing circle is actually the top. You can find that tutorial here.

And last year I made some with clock faces. So much fun. You can see more on them here.

I like to use charm packs. Now, I'll admit, that's a close fit. The charm square is 5" and the circle is 5", so there's no overlap of fabric over the cutting edges on the die. I'm just careful to line up the charm square so that all four sides touch the edges of the circle on the die. It works just fine.

So, that was fun. Now I'm on to a bigger project. More on that later.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Home Sweet Home

No working on the little squares in squares this last week. Instead it was time to finish up another little quilt swap -- this time with the theme houses and villages.

I wanted a happy neighborhood, so lots of bright colors.

This quilt is a pattern I bought from Cluck Cluck Sew.  Such a fun and easy pattern to make.

This next week I hope to work on the little reproduction quilt again. The week after a friend is coming in from out of town and we'll be working on a bigger project, so this next week is good for me.

When the semester is on, the summer looks like it will be a vast sea of time. Playtime at that. But then the reality is I have a number of other commitments, and there's still school work to do even if I'm not teaching (I have a new class to design). Still, no complaints. There's a lot more time than otherwise. I'm hoping to get a lot done. (I always hope.)

And I did get another little red and white(ish) pincushion done this last week.

I love that wooden bowl. Obviously hand-carved. It was my mother's, and my grandmother's before her. It sits on my dining room table and I get to admire it everyday.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

When It Snows

Well, here in Colorado it's been making more like winter than spring. Snow and more snow. Whenever I dared to stick my nose out the deck door, all I heard was the snap of tree limbs cracking throughout the neighborhood. Ouch.

Though, I have to say, bad weather makes for good sewing. The miniature quilt in plaid got finished.

I really liked the little one that got sent off in the quilt swap.

So I'm making another one, in softer colors this time. (Hmmm. Terrible color in that photo. It's actually very soft and pretty, I think. Perhaps my photo once it's quilted will come out better? . . . Hope springs eternal.)

I really couldn't ask for a better way to unwind from end of the semester chaos than reproduction fabrics and little quilts.  Of course, before long I need to start prepping for a new class that's just beginning this fall. That will be fun though. So, reading, writing, sewing, crochet, and continuing my efforts to learn how to knit. My goals for the immediate future.

Ahhh . . . .