Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Working Together

Once upon a time, a group of us in our quilt group decided to have an exchange.  We decided to exchange 6 in. squares of 100% cotton fabric.  Those were are only criteria.  Eight or ten of us participated, so you'd think the variety wouldn't be there.
But it WAS.
Here's the quilt top as a whole, spread on my queen sized bed:
All sorts of fabrics are in this quilt top.  Naturally, because I participated, there are reproduction fabrics, maybe a few too many.  I was a little heavy-handed with the yellow.
But look at all the other prints!  Wild dots, some that look hand-dyed, some that look like abstract art.
Did you notice this red one?  Takes me back to the 1980s!
The blue floral in the foreground may have come from further back than that.  It's a polycotton, but I kept it anyway.
There is just about every holiday fabric in here too--Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, even St. Patrick's Day.
I love the farm prints.  Because these were already in here, I added in scraps from my tractor quilt.  It does look a little weird.

My favorite fabric of all is the orange cat fabric, see below.  Wow! 
I have to admit, sometimes I stress out about scrap quilts.  I like to restrict them to one kind of fabric (pastels, brights, etc.) or, with reproductions, one time period (1880s, 1930s).  And that system works for me.  But pooling all our fabric and making something simple with it works too.
I don't think I would ever have chosen these fabrics to make a quilt.  But strangely enough, they actually work together.  Their amazing, crazy diversity makes the quilt better.  (Hmm--is there a metaphor in here somewhere?)
To make this block, which is sometimes called split patch, I cut my 6 in. squares in half on the diagonal, and sewed them together, dark with light.  I ended up with a 5 in. finished half square triangle.  I laid them out following a picture of an Amish quilt in a book.  There are 120 split patches in this almost-twin sized top, 10 across and 12 down.  The borders are 5 in. finished.  The top itself finishes at 60 in. x 70 in.  BTW, this size would work for a Quilt of Honor.  Wouldn't it be great in red, white, and blue?
This quilt will be finished and donated to a good cause.  One more project moving on!

Speaking of which, since last week I've been working hard on clearing away some of the mess and finishing a couple of small quilts.

I call this pattern Some Random 4 Patch, and the tutorial has been on this blog in the past.  Check out the link:  Some Random 4 Patch
This was one of the baby quilts on the table in the last post.  I didn't use sashing with it this time.

And one more!  I call this pattern Jelly Roll Bricks, and I've given the pattern for it here in the past also.  Here's the link:
Jelly Roll Bricks Quilt

You might notice I've got the same fabric on the back of both baby quilts.  When I see something suitable on sale, I like to buy at least 3 yards of it.  Three yards will back 2 baby quilts, with a couple of scraps left over.

My over-flowing projects pile in last week's blog was kind of embarrassing.  I tidied it up a bit, and it helped that I was able to take a few things out.  Here's what it looks like now.
Okay, not great, but better, right?  The stack on the left needs more piecing, mostly borders added.  The bigger stack in the box is ready to quilt.  Lots of potential here.
I'll be away from the computer (and the sewing machine!) for the next week.  But don't worry, I've got plenty of hand work to do.
May all your days be pieceful.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Start to Finish

Yesterday, I finished a quilt.  It's a small quilt, about 38 in. x 44 in., but it's quilted and bound and ready to donate to a child who needs it.
I got the pattern out of an old Quilt magazine.  It was pretty easy to do, just 4 patches made from 2.5 in squares for the centers, and triangles cut criss cross from a larger square (I think it was 5.5 in. or so) in either solid white or solid red, and sewn to the sides of the 4 patches.  I just love the print on the back.  I don't know what I've done with the magazine, so I can't check the measurements.

Until Monday night, when I decided to finish this quilt, here's where it lived:
Feel free to gasp.  This is supposed to be my on-deck projects pile.  Some of these quilts have been added recently (you might see the Celtic Solstice top in there) and some have been in progress for literally years.

But wait.  There's more!
This is the view across my sewing room.  In the foreground, beyond my awesome Davis VF, is a small pile of baby quilt tops (3 of them) that need borders.  I've even selected the border fabric.  They've been sitting in the on-deck pile for months.
Beyond that, folded on the table, is a layered baby quilt, complete with backing and batting, spray basted and ready to go.  On the ironing board is another baby quilt, also complete with backing and batting, that might get worked on today.  Behind the ironing board is a quilt rack, with my recent feedsack Flying Squares quilt in pieces.  The pieces are quilted, they just need to be joined together, bordered, and then I'll quilt the border.
We're just getting started.  Here's what I've actually been working on the last few weeks:
Two projects here, the string quilt (being sewn) and the pinwheel blocks waiting for their turn, leaders and enders style.
Finished string quilt blocks, plus some triangles for corners.  I have 65 blocks so far.

The little pinwheels, 5 in. square finished, in bright kid fabrics.  I have 56 of these done (and 12 more waiting by the machine).
And last but not least, the top I started at Debbie's house.  The blocks (224 of them) are done and sewn together, and I'm auditioning these two fabrics for borders.

If you're feeling guilty about having too many projects started, you're not alone.  Most of us struggle with it.  You can probably tell I'm not struggling too hard.  Why is that?  It's because I surrendered.

Quilting is my hobby.  It's not my job.  There are lots of things I have to do in my non-quilting life that must be completed in a reasonable time frame--paying bills, grocery shopping, cooking meals, cleaning bathrooms, feeding the dog and cat.  But when it comes to quilting, I'm the boss.  If what I really want to do is piecing, then that's what I do.  I know that eventually I'll be in the mood to set the blocks into a top, choose, cut and sew on borders, and quilt.  Quilting is an artistic pursuit, even for those of us who don't consider ourselves artists.  At its best, it's a flow experience that relieves stress and gives us joy. 

Eventually, the giant messy pile does start to bother me, especially when I've just been piecing and not finishing anything for a while.  That's why I pulled the baby quilt top out on Monday night.  I thought it would be a good test of the Davis, which has had an uneven track record lately.  It worked nicely this time (hurray!) so I'm hoping to get some more quilting done this week.

But what if I have more projects started than I can finish in my lifetime?  (This is a real possibility.) 

Then, honey, don't miss my estate sale.  There will be something for everyone.

You don't have to finish everything you have started.  But you CAN'T finish if you don't start.

So start something!

And think spring, like my little Gerbera daisy in the window.

It's blooming away, even though it looks like this outside:
(The orchid is looking for some sunshine, too.)

Wishing you sunshine and stitches.