Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bonus bitty blocks

I mentioned before the floating star blocks that I have been making. They use a stitch. flip and trim construction technique on the corners. If you need an explaination of this process, you can look here. The neat thing about this method of construction is that you get some wonderful little corner triangles that you trim away.

Now I realize that some (most?) people would just toss those pieces away, but not me. I just cannot bear the thought of wasting those precious bits of fabric. So I stitch mine together into tiny half-square triangle blocks as I go.

I simply add an extra row of stiching about three eighths of an inch away from the first stitching line nearer to the corner. Then I cut midway between the stitching lines to seperate my new bitty blocks from the floating star blocks. Now I have a baggie full of bitty blocks to use in another project. I feel a miniature quilt in my future. :)

I photographed my bitty blocks on a gridded cutting surface so you can easily see the scale of the blocks. They are 2 inches square right now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Time for another UFO Update

Having spent a good deal of time in my sewing room this past weekend, I have had time to ponder and rethink some of my UFO's. I have decided that some of my blocks will combine nicely to make a decent sized quilt instead of making a bunch of smaller quilts. I am posting new progress on my list items:

1. hole in the barn door quilt(2005)-finished-yea!
2.palm leaf(2005)--layerwd and ready to quilt
3.four-patches and friends(2004)-layered and ready for quilting
4.friendship star quilt(2005)-quilt top, bindings cut, backing ready
5. cancer block quilt#1(2005)-top
7.squishy 2005-blocks
8.Kimono quilt(2006)-blocks quilt-blocks(2006) quilt(2006)
11.nine-patch-blocks and setting blocks(2006)
12.cancer block quilt#2-blocks(2005)
13.hole in barn door #2-blocks(2005)- adding sashings to blocks and combining with blocks from #24 to make a top :) block swap-blocks(2005)-combined with friendship swap blocks from # 23 into a top-needs borders:)
15.autograph wallhanging-blocks(2005)-stitched into a top-needs borders-:)
16.sunbonnet sue-blocks(2005)
17.pinwheel blooms quilt-all blocks finished :)- ready to be stiched into a top(2006)
18. Jane's mystery quilt-top(2006)
19.letha's lectric fan-fabrics partially cut, no blocks completed yet(2006)
20.grandmother's garden-quilt top(2003)thinking about sending to long-armer-it's a king size quilt
21.double dutch quilt-fabric washed and pattern gathered(2006)-this one has been set aside until some of the others are finished-maybe next year :( in the barn door wallhanging- blocks completed(2005) seem to have misplaced these, hmmm...
23.friendship swap quilt- blocks(2006)-combined with star swap blocks from #14. These are now a top needing borders.
24.block round robin-blocks(2005)-combining with hole in the barn door blocks #13 to make one quilt top
25. mariners compass quilt-(2006)-finished!
26. ostrich round robin 2006- first five rounds complete-waiting for final round to be announced
27.QYW round robin quilt 2006- is now home. Deciding what to add to it to make it larger in size.Two down, too many still to go. Hopefully I will continue to knock the list down. My goal- at least one finished each month- two would be even better.

Weekend wrap up

My WIP weekend turned out to be very productive. I haven't sewn like that in a very long time. It was a much needed diversion from my normal schedule and very good therapy for me. Yesterday morning I went to our local Memorial day parade with my son and several of my extended family. The weather was perfect for the occasion.

When I got home, I pulled out another project to work on. This one was not a WIP, but a UFO I started a year ago as a swap in my MSN group. Over the course of the last year, I somehow managed to use 2/3 of the blocks I had for this quilt in other qults I gave as gifts. But, I still want to make the quilt. So my project for yesterday was to finish the main blocks. I will make the setting blocks today. I got the pattern here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

More WIP weekend progress- ostrich rnd 5

This has been a very productive weekend for me quilting wise. I am making progress on several of my WIPs. In fact, I am caught up on everything that I am trying to keep to a timeline on. And I am even ahead on a couple things. Boy does that feel good!
I completed the current round of the ostrich round robin yesterday afternoon. Trying to follow the guidelines for the round was much more of a challenge than I anticipated . I spent a couple hours on my EQ6 software playing with ideas, only to decide that most were too involved or fussy. I did finally settle on an addition. I stumbled upon it quite by accident while trying to make a change that was very different than the one I actually made. But as it turns out, it was a happy accident indeed, as I am very happy with the results after this round.

Some of the things I like about my newest addition are :

*the nice value contrast from the round before
*I was able to incorporate the light green fabric from round one into this round- and I only had a fat quarter of it to start with
*the way the quilt now has movement in another direction without actually having to put the quilt on point
*the fact that it is only around 36inches square at this point (and will still easily fit in the space I wish to hang it when it is finished)
*the gentle reminder that sometimes less is more

The only thing that I am not thrilled about with this round is how white it is. But I suspect that next round that will seem like a blessing.

Buck a block

My local quilt store is running a buck a block quilt program. Each month you can purchase a block kit with the fabric and pattern for a dollar. You have to complete the block and bring it into the shop in order to get the next month'sblock kit. With the first month's kit you also purchase a package of Thangles papers, as these are used to make each block.

I decided I would join the buck a block program this year, as I liked the idea of an excuse to make a trip to the quilt shop every month. I had two different fabric combinations to choose from- either a selection of Thimbleberries prints or batiks. Normally I would choose the batiks, as they are some of my favorite fabrics. But the colors of the Thimbleberries quilt were perfect for my living room, so I went with that one figuring I would have a lovely quilt to display on the back of my sofa and cuddle under on cold winter days.

I have never used Thimbleberries fabrics before. They have just never really spoken to me. And I don't know if the fabrics used in the buck a block kit are typical of Thimbleberries fabrics. But I am wondering if perhaps they send a lesser quality fabric for use in the buck a block program to keep the program affordable to the shop owners. What I do know is that I do not like working with these fabrics. They are coarse feeling and they produce an abundance of lint in my sewing machine. The fabric is not thin or see through, it just doesn't have that nice hand that quilt shop quality fabrics normally have. These fabrics feel more like those you find at Hobby Lobby that are manufactured just for that store chain. If my fabric is typical Thimbleberries fabric, I will not be using it in any future projects. The lesson I learned from this is I will inspect the fabrics in any quilt kit I may wish to purchase in the future to be sure I am happy with the quality before I make the purchase.

As for the Thangles, this was also my first experience using them. For those who may be unfamiliar, Thangles are strips of paper that you use to make accurate and quick half-square triangle blocks. You lay the papers on top of appropriately sized strips of fabric, stitch on the indicated stitching lines and cut the blocks apart on the cutting lines. What I liked about them is that it did make the sewing process go quickly. It was very easy. And the blocks do turn out amazingly consistant in size. In fact about the only thing I didn't like about them was having to tear the paper off the back when I had my half-square triangles made. It's messy and I hate dealing with the tiny bits of paper that get stuck in the seams. But they do make some great looking blocks. So I think they are pretty nifty.
I have completed the frst three blocks for the Buck a block quilt, which puts me where I should be since we started in March. I also made all the setting blocks for the quilt top last night.

I could stitch some of them together into rows, but I think today I will switch to my next round for my ostrich round robin top. That should go fairly quickly and then I plan to do some handwork on my latest flower applique block.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

WIP weekend

Since it is a holiday weekend and gas prices are so high , I have decided to stay at home and work on some of my quilting projects. I have so many different quilts in the works because I like to have choices when the sewing bug strikes. So I am declaring this a WIP (work in progress) weekend and dedicating my sewing time to work on some of the things I have already started.

Today I am working on floating stars. I have a monthly block swap in my MSN group for block units to make this quilt. I got the pattern from this website. I have been swapping these blocks for several months now and had quite a pile of them. So today I have stitched what I have into larger blocks consisting of nine units each. Here they are pictured hanging on my design wall.
For those who may be interested, I use a sheet of flannel attatched to my wall with velcro as my design wall. It works great. I can pin the blocks up if needed (rarely need to) and I can easily take the design wall down and put it back up. I used velcro that was adhesive backed on one part (to attatch it to the wall) and stitch on on the other side (stitched to the flannel). It was quick and simple to do.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My latest project

Last evening I was feeling a need to escape from the stresses of the houseful of young adults that are my children, so I headed into my sewing room. I found a quick easy wallhanging pattern and decided to use a collection of apple print fabrics that had been given to me as a gift. The end result was a couple hours of good therapy and this little quilt that will most likely grace my table come autumn. There's just nothing like a little creative outlet with a sewing machine to help sooth a difficult day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quilts of Valor

For the past couple years I have been involved with the Quilts of Valor program. This organization presents wounded members of our military with comfort quilts. I do not have any family members currently in active service, but this project really spoke to my heart. So far I have managed to send five quilts- all but one were quilted by a long arm quilter. There are some pics of the donated quilts in my photo album. This year has had a number of challenges that have complicated my life, and I have not managed to get any QOV's done. But I am still trying to stay involved. I am in an MSN group that is taking block donations for these quilts, so I am trying to send out a couple blocks a month done in patriotic colors. It isn't much, but I like to think I am still making a worthwhile contribution. This month's blocks are called Antique Tiles. For more information on Quilts of Valor check out their website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Scrappy Houses

I manage an MSN quilting group called Pieced Together. We are a small but friendly group of quilters. Each month the group offers several swaps, some that require sewing, and some that do not. I think my favorite swap we have going right now is a scrappy house block. I got the pattern for the block from The block is pretty simple and is a great way to use up some scraps- even some fairly small ones. :) I am pretty sure these blocks will not sit in my ufo pile once I have enough for a quilt. Aren't they fun?

Monday, May 21, 2007


Last week my son had surgery on his jaw. He has had TMJ problems for several years that had worsened progressively over the years, starting with an annoying clicking and finally leading to several episodes where his jaw locked open. The surgery was our last resort after trying a series of dental bite plates and physical therapy. We were told to expect the surgery to take about two hours on each side of his jaw. In reality we had an eight hour time lapse from when they took him into surgery until they wheeled him out of the recovery room. What a long day that was!

The upside of this is that I went prepared for a long day. I took my applique block for the month of May with me and managed to finish it that day. So I didn't mind too much. The stitching proved to be a very calming activity for me, especially when we passed the five hour mark without word from the surgeon. Everything went well with the surgery and my son is doing great( other than being sick of a soft food diet already).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ostrich Round Robin- The saga continues

It has taken me a while, but I finally finished the fourth round of the Ostrich round robin challenge. The theme for this round is paradise, and I chose to represent the sun in the blocks for this round. I crave sunshine and warm temperatures and paradise for me would surely have these elements.
I had the design planned out almost since the round was announced, but it took until this week to find the time to sew it. I was only a little behind as the next round was announced on the 15th. I am happy with the results of the addition. I did question the wisdom of my design choice several times as I was stitching the 32 three-inch New York Beauty blocks. They are not perfect by any means, but I am happy with them just the same. The quilt top after this addition measures 30.5 inches.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Not getting much done lately

Things at home have been particularly busy the past couple weeks. And I have been having trouble sneaking in some sewing time. But I have managed to complete two blocks from my BOM series for May. Above is the May block for the Debbie Mumm quilt I am doing. I hand appliqued the leaves. I still haven't mastered sharp points yet, but I think my blocks will be ok. Maybe someday I'll figure it out.
Below is the May block from the Block Central quilt. I used the same fabric combination I put in the April block. I like them better than the fabrics from the first few blocks. I have no intention of redoing any of them however. I like my quilts to have a scrappier look anyways.

Tomorrow I will work on my hand applique blocks from the flower BOM I am doing. I will have a long day of sit and wait, as my son will be in surgery. So the busy work will be comforting to me.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Fun with bottlecaps

While browsing a blogring of quilting related sites, I happened upon a blog that showed pincushions made from soda bottlecaps. There were several different styles, and they were all very whimsical. I was so intrigued that I had to give them a try. I was pleased to discover how easy and quick they are to make, and I love that they also are very inexpensive to make. I have made six so far, and think it is likely I will make more as gifts for my quilting friends.
I have a collection of handmade pincushions, but these are so tiny. As a point of reference, the white eyes on the center ladybug are actually the heads of pins. They are by far the smallest pincushions I have.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

More Block of the month

Since it is the beginning of the month, new blocks have been posted for my on-line block of the month quilts. I have printed off the patterns but will wait to make the blocks until next week. They look like they will sew up quick.

I am making the BOM from block central called patchwork panache. What I like about this one is that the blocks are slightly larger than what you nornally find. And I like the final setting of this quilt, although I don't plan on using their setting style on my finished quilt. I had planned on making this one using a controlled pallette of fabrics for all of the blocks. But, when I got to the April block, I just couldn't stick with it. I have to make it somewhat scrappy as it was missing a spark. These are my completed blocks so far.

The colors in this picture are a bit off. They match the colors in the other pictures. This block is larger than the others and is intended to be the center block of the finished quilt.