Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peeking - Box # 8

Box # 8 is another of my long-term Works-in-progress projects, that I pull out and work on in spurts, then put away until the mood strikes again.  Charm Quilts.  I've amassed quite a collection of charm packs, and have been cutting them into two shapes for two different charm quilts (a quilt made up of all different fabrics with no two fabric patches the same).  One is Half square triangles (3.5") and the other is pyramid-shaped.  I found a pattern I fell in love with in Scrap Quilt Sensation by Katherine Guerrier.

So far, I've put together 15 blocks for the HST Charm Quilt, a few of which I've posted.

As for the Pyramid Charm Quilt, I haven't decided if I want to piece them into lengths, or hexagons.

The thought of dealing with all the inset seams is terrifying, so I will probably stitch the diamonds together as shown in the first pic, then stitch the strips of diamonds together, thus avoiding the inset seams.

Peeking - Box # 7

I opened Box # 7 and found a forgotten and unfinished carry-all bag, made from scrappy disappearing 9 patch.  I have the patch work fabric and lining ready, but did not make it to the craft/fabric store to purchase the additional items required to finish the project.

Under the bag parts, there were enough sliced disappearing 9 patch blocks to make a second bag or another project of my choosing.

Don't know what disappearing 9 patch is?  Check out the links to tutorials on Disappearing 9 patch, listed in the Fast & Easy Patterns at Quilting Library Blog

But while I have the camera handy and a stack of sliced blocks, here's a few pics of the process and what you can do with them.

And under the sliced up 9 patches, sliced up 3" squares, 3" x 6" bricks, 3" strips and 6" x 6" squares.

If you read my comments in an earlier blog entry on these size blocks, you might well imagine my reaction at finding more of them. But I spent an hour organizing pattern books last night and came across a pattern that would be great with dark 3" squares. (Actually it uses strip piecing, but it would be so good to use up the last of the 3" stuff.)

Plan:  Unfinished bag to the next in line (am I up to 5 yet?);  the sliced 9 patches into a baggie in my UFO bin until I decide what I want to do with them, and a copy of the wanna-do pattern into the box.  The old distracted me would have immediately started working on a new project.  Instead, I've listed it in the wanna-do someday patterns.  The quicker I finish up some projects, the sooner I can start something new.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peeking - Boxes # 5 and # 6

Box # 5 contains trimmed bonus HSTs in three sizes - 2", 1.75", and 1.5"

I'm a devotee of double sewing my sew-n-flip corners to get bonus half square triangles. There's a tutorial at Quiltville on the subject called Bonus Triangles Bonanza that explains it far better than I could. Take special note of her comments on making yourself a triangle buddy - a novel idea that will save you hours of trimming and squaring.  There's a couple of quilt blocks that I've been making with these that I really love.

Every time I see those stars they make me smile - I'm going to sash them to make a wall quilt.

The little frugal blocks are really small, each 16 patch square will finish at 6". I can't see making anything bigger than a table runner with them.

The one draw back to working with HSTs this small is the number of seams and layers of fabrics within such a small block.  It can become rather tedious and there's almost as much fabric in the seams as on the surface of the block.  That can add a lot of weight to a bigger project.

Box # 6 is a long standing project - my Orphan Thimbleberries

This box contains various blocks and partial blocks all made with thimbleberries fabrics.  Every now and then, when I want to explore colour and creativity, I take this project out and work on it, adding fabrics here and there to make a block or series of blocks fit.  Piecing left over components into quilt blocks can be an adventure.  It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle that I get to colour as I go.  I've taken a pic of one corner panel of my orphan quilt.

The Orphan box also contains blocks I made to practice something (like getting perfect and precise star points) or the components of abandonned projects (like 60 little pink and yellow 9 patches).  I've used rows of these stars to lengthen a quilt backing or as the feature in a new quilt project.

Okay.  Two smaller projects queued up and two boxes I've got to keep and find room for.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Peeking - Boxes # 3 and # 4

Boxes 3 and 4 contain the last of that initial stash, the stuff cut into six inch squares ten years ago. I am determined to use it up.

My scrappy Ohio star required me to subcut some of those stupid 6" squares into four 2.5" squares and a 3.5" square out of others to make the QST star points. Once I sashed the blocks together, I remember being rather proud of myself. It looks like what I always pictured as a traditional quilt. After all that extra sub-cutting and piecing, I ran out of steam when it came to a border.

I put together a couple of prairie braid strips, using the 6"x 2.5" stip I trimmed off the squares when cutting for the QST blocks, then felt rather blah about that. Eventually I got distracted by something else and folded it all back into the box, intending to get back to it shortly. Hah!

Then I saw some gorgeous black n' white quilts, and some jaw dropping red n' white quilts at a quilt show... I sat down with the box of 6" squares and separated out the red, white and black 6" squares and started making barrister blocks. It was more an infatuation than an obsession and I only made ten red blocks and eight black blocks before moving on to other distractions.

These pink & purple 10.5" quilt blocks are the result of more "good advice" I picked up at a quilt shop. (Honestly! I need to stop being so willing to follow advice without thinking things through!) Anyway, the advice was that before committing to making a quilt, we should audition it by making a block or two, and if we did this with a colour scheme, we would eventually have enough blocks to make a co-ordinated sampler.

I don't have anymore of these fabrics or any that comes close. Needless to say, the whole audition the blocks and end up with a sampler idea might be an excellent idea, but I think you should put aside enough co-ordinating fabrics to actually make a quilt or go scrappy from the word go. I didn't think of that when I started these and the quilt shop lady didn't mention it (probably because she thought it was obvious). These 11 blocks may end up being pieced into a quilt back for my Scrappy Ohio Star.

After I tried out a couple of Farmer's Daughter blocks, an obsessive compulsion grew in me -- I HAD to make an entire quilt of that block in pinks and greens, which I worked on between other projects. I am a farmer's daughter and the pinks represent the wild rose (the floral emblem of Alberta), and the green of the fields in early summer. That quilt is currently waiting to go to the long arm quilter.

Under all that, the remnant 1.5" x 6" strips trimmed off those silly 6" squares, and the overflow of my 1.5" strip box.

I see I've already begun stitching the 6" lengths together. I think that it's easier to become distracted and abandon an activity if I don't have a specific pattern or project in mind. So I found two string patterns I really like, both free patterns generously offered by Bonnie Hunter at her website Quiltville
This means I've just moved these strings to the sewing table as my current leader n' ender sewing assignment. The Scrappy Ohio Star, the braids, the sampler blocks are all next on my hit list. The box has been flattened for recycling.

Box # 4 contains the rest of that stash. Some 6" wide lengths of neutrals and some bricks 2.5" x 4.5" and 2.5" x 6". There is enough here to make another full size quilt (at least). Aaaarrrrgggghhh! This Box goes back on the shelf in the new wardrobe as stash fabric. I refuse to think of starting another new project in the middle of stash reorganization (especially as I haven't hit the UFO bin yet). And I'm going to put the barrister's blocks in here for second consideration.

So far not bad. I've eliminated two of four cardboard boxes, and am actively working on finishing two projects that can realistically be done quite quickly.

I'm making excellent progress on the stash reorganization and, at two boxes a day, will coast to the finish line by the end of the week. If I rushed, I know I would just tuck each item into a plastic bag and into the UFO bin without taking the time to make decisions and set priorities. This also has the benefit of allowing me time to do other things, such as trim HSTs (I've already trimmed ten this morning) and working on sashing my scrappy 9 patch.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Peeking - Boxes # 1 and # 2

I'm still reorganizing my stash and, as promised, letting you peek into my boxes as I go.  Suspenseful music please......... Box # 1 contains:

Scrappy 9 patches, 130 of them, (4.5" finished). Now there's a story behind these silly things.

When I first started quilting (many moons ago) I overheard a prolific scrappy quilter (whose work I particularly admired) pontificating on the subject of cut squares. She kept stating emphatically that she didn't know how anyone could expect to produce quilts or be struck with creative genius without a supply of six inch squares to work with. Aha! I immediately went home and brutally attacked my stash of fat quarters (that's all I had at the time) and cut everything into six inch squares. (I can hear some of you gasping!)  Then I sat back and waited for the beautiful scrappy quilts to appear. Alas! Nothing happened. Eventually I realized my mistake -- there wasn't a single pattern I wanted to make that started with a six inch square component! So the six inch squares became my albatross and lead to other equally bad decisions I'm still dealing with.

I found a tutorial called Nifty Nine Patches and began using my squares to make them, still with no actual quilt in mind as evidenced by the contents of this box.

The plan to use these up?  The One-a-Day Quilt Along I found at Crazy Mom Quilts Blog.  I'm going to use Kona muslin as the sashing.  As these 9 patches were all made from pre-washed fabrics, I've washed some muslin to cut up.  The muslin is on my cutting mat, the 9 patches are stacked next to my sewing machine and the box has been flattened for recycling.

Now.... what's in Box # 2?

Scrappy half square triangles, about a 1,000 of them.  It looks like a thousand, but there may be more.  I haven't actually counted them.  They all need to be trimmed to 2.5".  Cringe.

This handful of trimmed HSTs is actually the first hundred.  I know it doesn't look like it, but trust me it is.  I counted, so there may be more than 1,000 to be trimmed.  The only way to get these darn things trimmed so I can use them is to have a stack by the cutting mat and make myself do some every time I go by to refill my coffee cup.  This is another example of the disastrous results of cutting all those silly six inch squares without a pattern in mind.  Not satisfied with one disaster, I proceeded to subcut a large stack of them into three inch squares (another equally difficult size to use, by the way) and then painstakingly drew stitching and cutting lines on them to make all these HSTs.

The plan to use them up?  First I've got to get them uniformly trimmed.  Then... a sawtooth quilt border perhaps.  A scrappy Depression Block quilt?  I'm open to suggestions.

Stash Reorganization - Quilt tops in Limbo

What else did I find in that second bin?  A quilt top that still needs borders, two different sets of quilt blocks, and four quilt tops with accompanying backings waiting to go to the long arm quilter.  It's hard to justify spending money on long arming when unemployed.  Clearly leaving them to become creased and funny smelling in a bin isn't the answer either.  I'm going to iron the tops and backs and hang them on hangers - and tag them with the exact measurement of batting each one needs.

The first one is a bright Yellow Brick Road.  Take a look at the backing - I've crumb pieced the scraps, log cabin style and added them to the backing.

The first of two Thimbleberry sampler block-of-the-month quilts.  For the backing, I didn't have enough of any of the fabrics that I liked so I created an off centre four patch from two gold tonal thimbleberry fabrics. generously provides a tutorial and instruction for making this backing.

The second Thimbleberry block-of-the-month.  The backing is another off-centre four patch, this time in pink and green, displayed on the table in front of the quilt top.

This one is a Farmer's Daughter blocks in pink, green and cream thimbleberries fabrics.  Bet you didn't realize Thimbleberries had so many different pinks!  This has special meaning for me, being a farmer's daughter.  For the backing, I needed to add about 8" to the backing so I added a strip of scrappy stars.

A stack of 42 blocks (Yellow Brick Road) waiting to be pieced into a quilt top.

Different size blocks for a sampler (done block of the month from patterns on the web).  Luckily I printed out the instructions and kept them with the finished blocks because it has a pieced border and there's a way to fit the different size blocks together.

Below is my crumb quilt waiting for borders.  I ran out of Kona black solid to sash it - lucky I found that four yard purchase in the same bin eh?  I love these blocks.  Interested in crumb piecing?  Here's a few links to tutorials you'll find fun.

And lastly, a rather ghastly autumn table topper that never got made into a topper.

Every last bit of fabric and batting from these two bins has been reassigned a new home.  The bins now empty are ready to be repurposed or donated to someone else.  I think I'll use them to gather my next donation for the Women in Need.

Want a peek into the boxes?  Keep coming back.

Stash Reorganization - Delightful Surprises

It's like Christmas in August.  I'd forgotten more than half of what was in this bin.

I thought it was all quilt tops waiting to go to the long arm quilter.  There were definitely some surprises in here.

I forgot I had this winter toile in green.  I originally bought it on Ebay with a goal of using it for home decorating.  I ran it through the washer and dryer and it came out beautifully.  There's almost five yards - definitely a great backing for a Christmas quilt.  Hooray.

This is an extra wide backing, Thimbleberries Blue and Cream, that I bought because I definitely want to make a blue and cream quilt one day from my Thimbleberries fabrics and wanted the backing to go with it.  This is from the days when I thought the backing fabrics had to be one fabric and match the quilt fabrics.  I've broadened my horizons since then, though I still intend to save it for that future blue and cream quilt.

Another unexpected find.  I bought this fabric ten years ago to make bedroom curtains in a different apartment.  The fabric was stiff, but it read 100% cotton on the selvage so I ran it through the washer and dryer.  Wow!  The sizing came out leaving it silky soft but sturdy enough to pass inspection with even the snootiest quilt fabric snob.  It's 54" wide and I have 4 yards.  Another good backing.  These pretty florals aren't everyone's taste, I know, but I still like pretty florals and the pink and periwinkle are really quite lovely.

This hideous blue solid was on sale at a fabric store going out of business.  I bought enough to make a backing and haven't been able to force myself to use it yet.

The biggest surprise was finding new fabrics I had obviously tucked in the bin in a hurry.  I've long given up trying to find these.  Three yards of Christmas fabric, four yards of Kona black solid, a Fig Tree Layer Cake, and a bright charm pack.

Then there was this three pound bag of Christmas fabric remnants from the gals in my sewing circle.  I had completely forgotten them.  There are enough fabrics and scraps here to make a couple of Christmas quilts.  I don't have many seasonal themed fabrics in my stash so this is a delightful find.

What else did I find in the bin?  Check out my next post.