Sunday, June 29, 2014

Studio Overhaul

My best buddies came over today to help me rearrange and organize my closets, all 24 feet of them.  It was a daunting task but they were up to it, keeping me on task and hard at the purge vs. save decisions I had to make. 


AFTER--much more organized
Keep in mind, there are two more sets of closet doors but I didn't take before shots of those.  They are also much more organized.  I found fabrics and projects I've been missing for years.  Many times they heard me say "I wondered where that was!"  It was a terrific project, one they insisted I needed when we went to Paducah in April.  They didn't call it an "intervention" but it clearly was.  I need to use all this wonderful fabric I've already bought rather than keep buying more to bring home so it can stay huddled up in the closet with its' friends.  I have some really GREAT stuff here!

My guild will benefit as I will hold a private sale for them in early August.  I've done this twice before and they have loved it--great prices for them and I get rid of some of this excess.  The guest bed is piled high with the cast-offs.  What doesn't sell gets donated to our guild challenge in October.  If I have time I plan to tackle the 400+ books I've accumulated, some I haven't opened in 10 years--guess I don't really need  those titles.

There is still more work to do.  A bunch of "fabric groupings" I thought I would one day make into a quilt need to be "deconstructed"--broken up so the fabrics can be returned to the closet with like colors.  As it is, I have at least 15 "project" bags with ongoing quilts that I really want to finish.  

It was fun and tiring and I'm glad this part is over.  Tomorrow we "retreat" together for sewing, basting, fun and fellowship.  Quilting friends are the best!

Here are some more of the string swap blocks I've completed.  The last 2 will be done tomorrow so I can move on to other things:
Jane--bright, scrappy, my favorite colors
Katherine--Halloween, no Halloween fabrics
Mary--totally scrappy

Debbie--bright, scrappy

I hope you have a set of friends who help you and know what you need before you do.  Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

String Swap Blocks

Our group decided to make String Blocks for our swap.  There are 10 of us, and we each make a dozen 5" string blocks for each person.  Some people are asking for very specific colors/styles, some just say "scrappy".  Here are the first batches I've gotten done:

Connie--asked for a soft, cottage look

Kari--asked for bright and funky

My first attempt at my own--I cut the papers the wrong size so the black strip is not centered--OOPS!

These are fast and easy to do and fun too.  We will each receive 108 5" blocks from the other 9 people.  Of course, we will each make 108 blocks to give out too.  A great way to use up some of those shoe boxes of leftover fabric strips--though this didn't begin to make a dent in my stash. 

I am using old telephone book pages for the foundation.  When the 5" paper square is covered, I trim it to 5" again, getting rid of the excess around the perimeters.  The recipient can cut them down further or use them that size. 

Let's Quilt! 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Racing Stripes Complete

A friend found a quilt on Pinterest she liked and asked me to make one for her.  I contacted the original maker--she was happy her quilt was selected and kindly gave permission for me to duplicate it.

The Front

The Back
Here is the blog where the original was shown:  Between Quilts by Valerie.  I used Peppered Cotton by Pepper Cory for EStudio Fabrics for the gray borders--great stuff!  A little different than my usual work but it's good to stretch the wings from time to time.

A few garden shots--the pond is overflowing with pickerel, water lilies, parrots feather and goldfish.  It's time to do some serious removal of plants--guess I'll have to get in there this year.

And my small vegetable garden:  2 full size tomatoes, 2 cherry tomatoes, 1 zucchini, 1 cucumber and 2 pepper plants:
June is for red raspberries, these were picked 2 days ago:

July means blackberries, looks like a bumper crop this year, and August should be the vegetables.  Nothing like fresh produce from the garden.

Now that Racing Stripes is done I have to decide what to work on next.  There are swap blocks to do, String Blocks was the majority choice; I wrote about that here.  A large quilt needs the binding turned to the back.  I'm eager to hand quilt a finish from a few months ago, and several quilts to get back to.

Let's quilt! Think I'll go see what others are doing at Judy L's Design Wall Monday.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Swap Blocks for Confident Quilters--Even if You're Not

Planning for our next quilt show, Fanfare 2015, is just getting underway and the committee has expressed interest in having a quilt block swap. 

If you have ever participated in a block swap, you know that most people have a "personal" 1/4" seam allowance, and the more complicated the block, the more likely blocks from several people will not fit together--that is, those blocks don't play well with others. 

After a few of those experiences, a new idea came up among a small group of my friends some years ago.  Now we try to find "units" to make that can be trimmed to the desired size by the recipient, and the owner then puts those units into her own quilt.  It worked very well with 3 separate groups I worked with.

So, here are some ideas for our next swap, which will involve about 20 quilters, most of whom are very experienced:

1.  X Block--this comes from Sharyn Craig's book Layer 'Em Up
Top I made with the last swap I did with these units

Size possibilities:  8" or 3" finished blocks
I am very partial to this small size, here in an antique top I bought recently 
2.  Sixpence blocks--I call them this because they use 6" squares to start with:

Quilt I made with swapped sixpence units some years ago
The unit, very fast to sew and the pressing and trimming is done by the owner, not the person who sewed it
3.  The Japanese X and + blocks--all over the internet and Pinterest--I love this but it requires a lot of different fabric to be most effective.  That makes this a great swap block:

Completed block

Top in Progress
The plan:  only the 4 outer corner "wedges" are sewn by the group.  The owner chooses her own center rectangle and squares and sews the block together, so it should fit.

A test block I sewed--notice I sewed the corner "wedges" in the wrong orientation--OOPS! 

Here's another layout for those "wedges" or X units:

4.  Last option:  String Blocks, another one that needs lots of fabrics to be effective:

String blocks sewn to paper--like old telephone book pages
So those are the 4 choices I'm presenting to the group.  We'll select the one that most appeals to people and I'll write up the rules.  I'm good at rules and that's the best way to have satisfied quilters at the end of the process, clear rules.  Everyone knows what is expected and agrees to do their best sewing and use first quality cotton fabrics. 

Each of these units will have their own very specific size and sewing rules and the number of units to make will be defined.  Each person will sew as many as she receives--the beauty of such a swap is the wide variety of fabrics that one gets in their blocks, without having to buy it all.  And each person gets to determine what colors she wants, old reproductions, 30's, batiks, very bold Modern fabrics, whatever she wants. 

I already know I'll have a hard time choosing which to do.  I hope the others like these choices.  Stay tuned as this project gets going.

Let's Quilt!


Monday, June 2, 2014

A New Finish and A New Start

Finally finished my top of Antique Rose Star:

I had planned to add another border but when I got the blue on  I decided that was all it needed.  The blocks are mostly hand-pieced, though many are sewn by the hybrid method, hand-pieced the Y-seams and machine pieced the rest of the block.  Each block contains 72 kite pieces: 
The template is available from Material Obsession, a quilt shop in Australia.  I had the great good fortune to meet the owner, Kathy Doughty, and her husband, John, at Spring Quilt Market last month.  He remembered me because I've ordered these templates twice, the last time I got 20 and no one else in the US had ordered any.  They are great people and her books, Material Obsession and Adding Layers, are getting lots of attention currently, with big bold prints and pieces. 

This will stay a top until I teach the class for my guild quilt-in next month, so students can see the back.  I doubt anyone will want to do the complicated zig-zag setting with so many 60  degree set-in seams that I came up with, but if they do, they can see the back to see the process.  It was a fun quilt to make and I plan to hand quilt it, maybe with Big Stitch.

As soon as this came off the design wall a new one went up: 
Not my usual kind of work.  I'm making it for someone who found it on Pinterest and loved it.  This was just a quick snapshot so I wouldn't forget which colors went where, if the cat pulled them off the wall.  And there is a hunk missing from the right side, it's at the sewing machine.  Should have this done next week. 

I'm linking up with Judy L's Design Wall Monday, go see what others are doing.

Let's Quilt!