Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Catching Up

I once had a co-worker who was fond of the saying "The faster I go, the behind-er I get".  I understand how she felt.  It's been quite a while since I posted, so now here I am, catching up.

First, the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt, by Quiltville's Bonnie Hunter.  When last I wrote, I was still dithering about what to do to make it longer, so it would be a rectangle instead of a square.  Here's what I did:

I took some of the parts I had made for the pieced border (the triangles with the orange background) and made new blocks.  I was all out of orange, (except for one short 2 in. strip), so I made 4 patches of green print and shirting fabrics.  The blue star points help carry the circular design out to the edge.  For the alternate block, I used the very last of the orange with yellow to make as many half square triangle squares as I could, and sewed them into the corner units.  Then I used green and yellow to make the rest of the ones I needed.  The centers are 4 patches made from green and yellow prints.
In this photo you can see the original blocks and the new blocks.  I added a row of the new blocks at the top and at the bottom.
Here is the quilt laid out.  It is in two pieces, because I may quilt it that way.  I am still dithering about the borders.  Blue?  Green?  Both?  Maybe some yellow?  Just not orange, remember, I'm out.
Click here to get back to the Celtic Solstice Link Up Finale
Link Up Finale

In other news, I finished a charity top for our guild.  A wonderful person will quilt it on her long arm machine, and it will go to someone who needs it.
It's a dancing nine patch, from Bonnie Hunter's free pattern.  Here's a link to it:  Dancing Nine Patch
I changed it a little.  The original pattern calls for 2 in. squares.  I used 2.5 in. strips for the blocks and 2 in. strips for the green joining strips.
When my friend Joey came to visit a few months ago, she brought me a huge batch of 2.5 in. strips.  She had cut them using her Accuquilt strip cutter.  Can you guess what they were cut from?
These were pillow panels from the 1990s!  Check out the colors--dusty pink, Williamsburg blue, forest green, plus lots of pin dots and extra fun prints of cats and Amish quilts.  As decorating fabrics, these have gone out of style, but they are still good colors, and the fabrics are 100% cotton.  I added the forest green strips in between the blocks, which are cut from a Jinny Beyer fabric I bought at a flea market.
The border is a blue and green print from the local chain fabric store.

Would you believe I just finished making 168 quilt blocks?  It's true--but I have to admit they're only 4 in. finished.
They're called Shaded 4 Patch.  Sometimes they're called Mary's Triangles.  They are easy and fun to make.  The book I'm using for the pattern is one I've had for a long time, called Triangle Tricks, by Karen C. Soltys.  Below is a link to a tutorial made in a similar way.
Shaded Four Patch Tutorial

How did I have time to make all these blocks?  I went on my favorite retreat, to my friend Debbie's house.  This is our second annual January retreat and it could not have been better.
We set up tables in her living room.  Her husband was at a conference, so there was nobody to inconvenience with all our stuff.  I brought LOTS, including two sewing machines.  Clara, the little Singer hand crank pictured at the top of this post, was on her shakedown cruise.  I've had her a long time, but hadn't been able to sew with her due to a broken faceplate.  I finally replaced it with the right size, and she sewed like a champ.  The machine shown above is Emmy Lou (a Harris--I tend toward obvious names), and I brought her for a back up.
More of our stuff.  Debbie is using the antique stars in a new creation.
Debbie's stuff.  She is modern and adventurous, but loves the old quilts, too.  So she makes the most amazing blends of repro/vintage inspired fabrics with bright new stuff.  I can't show what she's currently working on, just take my word for it, it's knock your socks off terrific.
Did I mention we bought some fabric?  Here's Debbie, trying out some ideas.
Debbie also gave me a WHOLE BAG of scraps to work up into charity quilts or add to my own.  I can hardly wait to start cutting it up.
But wait, there's more!  A whole BOX of plaid strips, strings, and yardage, plus a few other goodies tucked in.  Treasure!
In spite of the horribly cold weather outside, we had a wonderful warm long weekend, working on our projects together.  We chatted, we knitted, we watched Downton Abbey.

We were catching up.

Keep warm, and keep quilting.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

About a week ago, I found a piece of fabric in the kitchen trash.  The picture below is a re-enactment.  I was too shocked to take a photo then.
I immediately snatched the piece out of the trash.  What on earth?  Who could have done this?
And then I knew.
My husband had borrowed some of my blue solid fabric for a display he set up at the public library.  He even took pictures.  Here's the evidence.
It's a very nice display on mammoths.  He knows a lot about this subject. 
But even though I've been quilting from the first year we got married (37 YEARS AGO) he doesn't seem to know a lot about quilting.
When confronted, he confessed.  I didn't even have to offer him a plea bargain.  "I didn't think you could use it for anything," he said.
Now, I am not the tidy type who keeps her quilting in her sewing room.  I have had pieces of quilts in progress all over the house for 37 YEARS.  Every single piece in the quilt currently lying on the floor in the living room (that he has to walk around) is smaller than what he threw away.
"But you have so much fabric," he says. 
Well, yeah.  He's got me there.  But I have a lot of other things, too, like beef in the freezer and potatoes in a bushel basket.  And we're not throwing those things away, are we.  Waste not, want not.
Here's the piece in question.  It's ragged around the edges because he had to cut it when it was in the display case.

Thank goodness it hadn't been in the trash long, so I didn't have to wash it.  Here's what I did with it.

The larger piece is 5.5 in. wide by 29 in. long.  I cut it as long as I could until the piece tapered down.  The second strip is 2 in. wide by 18 in. long.  There are three irregular scraps, a string cut from the edge when I straightened it, and a little pile of tiny scraps.
I filed the 5.5 in. strip in the bottom drawer of my scrap/strip organizer.  I was inspired by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville to tame my scraps into strips I could really use.
The 2 in. wide strip went in with the others in the little suitcase.
The irregular scraps went into the basket of crumb scraps.  I've been using these to "make fabric".  It's kind of fun, although I'm not very good at it.  My inspiration is Victoria Findlay Wolfe and her book 15 Minutes of Play.  (Check out her blog, she's amazing:  I'm using my oldest sewing machine, Lorena, to make these.  She's working well again.

A friend (hi, Debby!) told me about saving the selvedges to make a cute rug.  I resisted the idea at first, but just couldn't help myself.  So now I'm saving the pieces that are too narrow for string quilts, tying them together, and winding them into balls.  When the second ball is the same size as the first, I'll knit them together with big needles.  The pattern is from the Crazy Mom website, and is in the book Sunday Morning Quilts.  Here's the link to the pattern:  Knitted Rag Rug
None of the pieces from this scrap were the right size for the string blocks I'm piecing as leaders and enders, below, but I've been using up lots of odd shaped strings, some from my stuff and some from Debby's.
I'm piecing them on cloth foundations, instead of paper, and using up old bad-quality muslin.  For variety and color I'm adding in some strips from my 1.5 in strip drawer.

Here's all that's left from that piece of thrown-away blue fabric:
These tiny scraps are less than an inch on any side (although they look bigger in the photo).
Here's what I did with them:
Yes, these hit the trash.  I know there are people who use these little bits for pillow stuffing or art projects, etc. 
If you are one of those people, let me know.  I'll save them for you.
I really hate to throw useful things away.
May all your days be pieceful.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Celtic Solstice Mystery Progress

I finished the last 3 blocks last night, after Downton Abbey, and this photo is the blocks laid out on the floor.  I made them 2 at a time, the A block and the B block, so I could see how they would look as I sewed.  I'm hoping to sew them together today, but it might be too cold in the basement to get this done.  We're at 13 below this morning, so no school today for our grandson.  He and Grandpa just took a squirt gun outside to see if they could make ice crystals.  (I'm told it didn't work perfectly, but was a fun experiment anyway.)

You might have noticed something peculiar about my blocks.  This is the second block, the one I think of as Block B.   The chevrons were supposed to go in the center of each side.  I tried that.  It didn't work for me, because my chevrons were not very well made.  Okay, they were terrible.  Most if not all of the places where seams should match up didn't, points were cut off, it was dreadful.  So I just replaced the chevrons with shirting squares cut 3.5 in. square.  Maybe I'll use the chevrons for a doll quilt (or a dog quilt?).

There are so many things I really love about this quilt.
I love the interlocking circles of this pattern.
I love the touches of orange.  This surprised me.  I don't usually put a lot of orange in my quilts.
I love the stars.  I've always wanted to make a quilt with these stars.
I loved getting the clues on Friday mornings, and linking up on Monday.
I loved seeing what everybody else was doing, especially all the amazing colors.
I love using my scraps and yardage I had on hand (although I was getting a little worried when I used up the very last of my orange fabric).
I love Bonnie's clear directions.  (It isn't her fault I can't make chevrons.)
I loved the surprise of the reveal.  It was like getting another Christmas present.

Now I have to figure out what to do after I get the blocks together.  If I follow the pattern, I'll have a square quilt.  When I was a kid I slept under a square quilt, and it was not fun--not long enough to tuck in and always falling off the bed.  So I need to do something different.  Hmm.

Stay warm today.  Keep calm and sew on!

Back to the link up:  Link Up Part 6
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