Thursday, April 27, 2017

Going Around in Circles

Sometimes when I am working on a particular quilt, I feel guilty about not making another one.  I've realized that this guilt comes from feeling like my quilts are in competition, like a race. When one is "winning," the others are falling farther behind.  I feel much better when I think about them in an unruly line.  Sometimes they manage to sneak up or down the line, so it isn't a straight line.  The important thing though is that, when I am moving one quilt forward, this means the rest of the quilts in line get to move one step forward too.

Block 188

I was going to piece this, but the brown fabric was too skinny, and it was easier to applique. It was also going to be an X, but this reminds me of a Brownie sash, so I left it as a diagonal.

Block 189

This is a leftover piece from the improv quilt.  I cut it in half and sewed it together to make a wider piece, then cut it into circles.

Block 190

This is the other circle made from the improv piece.  All three of these pieces are obvious circles, for a change of pace. 

All of my WIPS and UFOs get to move up three steps in line!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Zipping Along

I'm still zipping along with my fifteen minutes of sewing a day, feeding my machine whatever I can find to feed its ravenous appetite.  What else can I sew?

 I've found that I can't spend too much time thinking about what to sew, because that seriously cuts down on the fifteen minutes.  Just do it. Don't think about it.

I have a big list of things I can work on, but the circles have taken priority at the moment. I blame Cynthia. She said, ' I can't wait to see all of your "circles" together.'  Well, Cynthia, I can't either!  I originally kept joining the circles together so they stayed in order and didn't get lost.  Then I found a box to keep them in, so I didn't worry about them getting lost And I broke the rule about them having to be in chronological order. Then I found that with different size blocks, I had to add the rows in a certain way so it would fit. So that took away all the incentives to sew the pieces together as I went along.

Then there were some odd shaped pieces that required some thinking about proper sizes and where to put adjusting pieces, etc.  And then I needed a certain number of pieces sewn together, and I didn't have that number. Rather than unseam something, I figured I would just add more.  This paragraph is really why they weren't put together yet.

Well, with the hungry machine, and the just-do-it attitude, I started zipping along and joined the rows.  This is actually a good thing, because that is how the first few rows were put together. And because it saves my poor tired brain. I was able to add two rows to the original piece.

There is an obvious blue adjusting piece on the left, because apparently, I did not follow my original plan that my tired brain had gone through the trouble to figure out, but it works out. I think I had made some blocks smaller to accommodate the applique piece which I didn't add here.  I'm going to put tiny dots on that adjusting piece, and  no one will know it is an adjusting piece. I have some blocks left over that will go into the next row(s).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Elephants Pushing and Shoving

My Elephant Parade quilt was started the same year as the Life of Plenty, and both were quilt-alongs where the blocks were revealed gradually. As a result, since I worked on both quilts at the same time, at least for a few months, these two quilts became related in my mind.  And the Elephant Parade became like a pushy brother who kept wanting attention every time I worked on Life of Plenty.

I've been spending my fifteen minutes of quilting time sewing down applique - on Elephant Parade, as well as old prepped but not sewn down circle blocks, new circle blocks, and anything else I can find. If it needs to be sewn down, the machine is ready for action.

Block 186

I had this block turned another way when sewing, but it is turned this way for the photo op. Who knows how it will wind up in the quilt!

Block 187

This one is to copy the porthole blocks Tanya is making with Liberty fabric.  This of course in no way looks like her blocks, which are neat and beautifully made.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Circles Continue

Since the top has been put together for A Life of Plenty, it is time to do a little bit of tidying.Some people make up rules about how big a piece of fabric has to be in order to not throw it away. Mostly it has to do with how much fabric will be left after the seam allowances are taken into consideration.  But I am not one of those normal people, and try to use up my trash in my trash circles. I don't have to throw it away if I can find a way to use it.

These are four-inch square blocks now and will be 3 1/2 when they are pieced together.

Block 180

I tried to keep the shapes pretty much the way they were cut out. There aren't any rules though, and if I don't like a particular shape,  I am free to change it.

Block 181

 Mostly it is a matter of taking a few trash pieces and seeing if I can put them into some arrangement that looks good to me. I try not to overthink it or worry about finding the right piece of scrap.  There are a lot of blocks to make and I want to let the process flow naturally.

Block 182

These circles were originally going to be used for A Life of Plenty, but I decided to needle turn the circle block and I wasn't about to needle turn this many circles, eight! I thought about separating these to make more blocks, and needle turning just a few, but they wanted to stay together. I also thought about separating them and making more than one circle block, but ... they wanted to stay together.

Block 183

This one makes me think of one of the space movies, not sure which one.

Block 184

This lady has lots of circles around her neck. She's  not from A Life of Plenty. So sue me.

Block 185

I know some of this will get hidden in the seam allowance. Sorry for the blurry picture. I want to focus on making the blocks, not showing them off.  I have more blocks prepped, so hopefully will be able to show them soon.

Linked to:
Oh Scrap! 
Monday Making

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Life of Plenty Topped

This dark row of blocks was the one I still needed to replace on this quilt before it could be put together. I just thought it was too dark for this quilt and doesn't look like it belongs.

I made lighter blocks but this still looks like too much. Maybe it is too bright. I was trying to figure out what to put instead - something simple like nine patches would help use a variety of fabric and keep it light.  Maybe an applique block or two. Four patch would be nice and easy. An Ohio star would be good.

Zeus popped by to remind us that it is not 2015 anymore. I thought putting the date on it would motivate me to finish it quicker. Hah! Although ... if I wait until next year to finish, the 5 would be easy to change into an 8.

Then I realized that I had a spare row of flying geese!  Why do I have a spare row?  I don't know. My guess is that one of my rows were a bad quality and I made another one.  I didn't realize I had a spare row and have already put the other row into the quilt, chopped off points and all. Which means this one is available to put right here. I like it. It doesn't look like there are too many flying geese in there at all.

Circle Block 179

I also added a block of circles.  This will be a nice addition to the circle quilt. That is some serious rule breaking - to make a circle block that doesn't wind up in the circle quilt at all. I've been thinking about this idea for a while, so I might have already used it in some other quilt, but I like the idea, so I am using it (again?). These circles are deliberately wonky to fit the prim mood.

I don't expect you to go back to my posts from 2015, but will tell you that I varied some of the blocks from the original pattern. The rabbit, the turtle, the friendship star, and the circle are not in the original pattern. Jeni didn't have hearts in her quilt either. I copied that from another quilter who added a lot of hearts to her blocks.  I also changed the layout a bit, because I didn't like the long row on the right hand side, and I moved around the same size blocks to balance the colors a bit. The pattern is still available on Jeni's website and Facebook page for free.

I am really happy with the way it turned out, and really happy that I was able to finish it this weekend.  I start work again tomorrow so it is good timing.  There are some little things I still need to do, like adding a handle to the basket at the top. And since my spool block on the bottom isn't centered, I figure I could applique a needle there and make it look like it was planned.  Maybe outline the turtle so it is easier to see.

The borders for this quilt are plain with cornerstones.  One of the quilters who did this quilt-along appliqued the title of the quilt on the top border, which I think is a fabulous idea. I really like the name of the quilt, and it is a good way to show gratitude without telling people what to do or think.

Linked to:
Slow Sunday Stitching

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Part 18 A Life of Plenty

I have finished Part 18 of A Life of Plenty.  I was hoping for pink leaves, but the pinks in the orange box and the oranges in the pink box were the ones that jumped out at me.  The Stem fabric was used in the Star Wars quilt. The purple flowers fabric was used in Dear Jane, and the pink with the purple leaves is a really old fabric that was used in my Drunkard Path's quilt that is hanging on my wall now. I showed it to you a short while ago.  I like to use my fabrics in more than one quilt.

Although these are more orange leaves, you will see that they are more springy than the Part 1 orange leaves block.

I made another love shack.  Let's just say this one is prettier than the last one and let it go at that.

Linked to:
Let's Bee Social

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Part 5 A Life of Plenty

Part 5 of A Life of Plenty is finished. I have also started trimming the blocks and putting them together, even though there is one more block to do.  There is also one block I plan on replacing, so I will have to decide on what kind of block I want, and make that.

The leaves use the same fabric as the other blocks I have made lately, but the orange flower fabric is a new fabric I cut up.  The beige center fabric was used for Rey's face in the Star Wars quilt.

Here are some of the blocks together, so you can see how they look together. I've lost a house block. Hopefully, I will find it soon. Otherwise, I will just make a new one, and put the other house in the orphan block box when I find it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Part 8 A Life of Plenty

This is Part 8 of A Life of Plenty.  I wanted yellow flowers but was too lazy to go upstairs to go through the yellow bin. I found this orange that had enough yellow to make me happy.  The background is yellow, and the orange is nice and bright.

This block has more leaves than the pattern because I didn't like my spacing of the leaves, so I added more to fill in the spaces. Most of the other blocks have fewer leaves than the original pattern, so hopefully this one will show that I'm not that lazy. (A hundred years from now, nobody will know about the yellow fabric situation, and if they do, hopefully they will remember that it takes me longer to go up and down the stairs than usual now.)

I watched some episodes of The Quilt Show this weekend to commemorate National Quilting Day.  I realized why the modern and old fashioned fabric in the last block seemed to me like I was breaking a rule. I was! The rule is that you are not allowed to mix muddy colors with clear colors.  I actually break this rule all the time, but this quilt is supposed to be muddy colors.

We need to come up with a better term than muddy colors.  I loved Bonnie Hunter's use of a variety of background colors and even bought more lights to have that kind of variety. Then people started calling it Low Volume and it became a thing. I think that if we call muddy colors something better, it will become a thing. Who wants muddy quilts?

The background of this block is really old. It was bought in the days when all backgrounds were beige, or so I thought, before I had seen how Bonnie used other light colors besides beige. The green was used in The Earth Laughs in Flowers, and the blue comes from the 1857 quilt box.  I haven't used the orange in other quilts, but now there is plenty leftover to add to other quilts.

I used the background fabric in my fall wreath, which was my first applique quilt.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Part 12 Life of Plenty

I am still sew stitching on A Life of Plenty.  This is Part 12. Lots of little leaves and some double layers of needle turn applique. This one probably has the best quality of applique that I have done lately, as I have been getting more practice, and as I can sit more comfortably as I recover from my surgery.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Block 1 of A Life of Plenty

Part 1 of A Life of Plenty is finished. This definitely proves I am not going in any particular order.  Most of the leaves on this block were already done, so I just added the stem and the last two leaves for a quick finish.

Block 11 Life of Plenty

Part 11 of A Life of Plenty is finished.  I'm obviously not going in numerical order, since I showed you Part 14 last time. I was telling my sister that I was working on a quilt I started last year and showed her the pattern.  Do you see it? It is copyrighted in 2014. Yes, I started this quilt last year in 2014.

There is something about a weeping willow that really intrigues me. It looks so different from the usual tree. I was really happy when I saw that Jeni incorporated one of them into the quilt.

I have been trying to improve the quality of my applique as I go along. I think that I did pretty well on the trunk and branches (until I saw this closeup haha), but these leaves are much smaller than the leaves in the last block. I'm sure the next block will be better.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Part 14 of Life of Plenty Finished

I finished Part 14 of Life of Plenty.  All of these calming blues and greens make me happy.

I am using needle turn applique. I didn't make templates for this block either. I did a much better job with the size of the stem on this one. The curves aren't as smooth as they could be, but that is because I use so many different techniques in each quilt. Each time, I learn how to do the technique, then I move on to another technique. By the time I come back to that technique, I have to learn it all over again.  I'm fine with it though - leaves aren't all that smooth in real life.

Linked to:
Moving it Forward

Friday, March 10, 2017

Part 13 Finished Life of Plenty

I finished Part 13 of Life of Plenty. As you can see, I did not cut out the pattern and make templates - I simply eyeballed them to cut them out. This fabric comes from many different quilts. The brown in the center of the flowers was used in 1857. The green and orange leaves were used in Lansing Leaves. The stems are from the Glitter block.  The mottled spool has been used in many different projects. The green spool was used in a project long ago - maybe Dear Jane. The orange flower is also old - maybe Moonflower.

Unfortunately none of these other quilts are finished, but maybe someday.

Linked to:
Kathy's Quilts 
Oh Scrap!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Slow Stitching

In an act of extreme spring cleaning, I have said thank you to my reproductive organs and sent them on their way.  No need to carry around the extra pound when I don't need them anymore.  I have switched to hand stitching during the recovery and am making more Life of Plenty blocks.

I am picking up the first scrap fabric that will work instead of looking for the perfect fabric.  I somehow like how that modern stem fabric looks with the old fashioned spool fabrics.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quick Projects

Last holiday season (2015), I bought some fabric panels from Spoonflower to make kitchen towels.  I hemmed and gifted the other ones, but I had saved this elephant for me. Since this one was mine, there was no rush to get it hemmed. The gifts were calendar towels and the calendar year is gone. I decided it was time to finally finish mine.  It is fairly quick and easy to hem, although the layers of fabric in the corners did cause some thread breakage and complaining by the machine. While I wasn't aiming for perfection, it actually is a rectangle even though it looks wavy in the picture.

This elephant tempted me to embellish it with beads and baubles, but I think it is plenty colorful as it is, and will work better as a towel, table runner, or anything else without the embellishment.

My sister, brother-in-law and I went to an apothecary when we had some time to use up between appointments and came across some rice bags.  I've always thought about making some, but wasn't sure if I would actually use them.  The bags at the store were $14 or $18 each. I figured if they could sell them that expensively, people must really like them!  Allie and others have told me they really like using them.  Instead of buying one, I decided to make one using the directions on Allie's blog.  I am looking forward to it keeping my tummy warm. I haven't made a cover. I figure I would just use a pillowcase or towel until I know whether this is something that requires long-term protection.  Until then, the bright shiny orange fabric will add some warm sunshine in the winter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quilt Show

On the day I took my finished flowers quilt on a walk to stage it for photos, we first went to a quilt show at the same park.  There was a good variety of beautiful quilts there, mostly big quilts and smaller wallhangings.  There were also a small number of other projects - table runners, bags, etc. 

Here are the photos of my favorite quilts. I was trying to save the batteries for my own quilt, so these are just quick snapshots. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Glitter Block

Ever since I saw this Glitter quilt in the book Quilt Lovely by Jen Kingwell, I have been intrigued.  It looks so different from the usual quilt, and all those lovely scraps look so good together.  I immediately decided I was going to make it. While I kept working on my current projects, I thought about all the scraps I would use. I even bought a packet of fabric from Connecting Threads that I thought would lovely in this quilt. How else can I get the loveliness of a scrappy scrap quilt than to buy a packet of coordinating fabric? haha

Yes, I see that there are set in seams, and fabric that is cut with templates.  The quilt looks easier to make than it really is, but that is how you can make such an intriguing, different quilt.  Even though I bought enough fabric to make one or two or these quilts, I decided to think practically and make a small quilt, maybe 36, 25 blocks, or even 16.  Today, while I am waiting for your advice on my Adinkra quilt (see my previous post, please), I decided to go ahead and start this quilt with a sample block.

I looked more closely at the sparse directions  and the set-in seams - four of them in each block. I thought that  eight blocks would make a nice small quilt - four in a row.  I chose some fabric and decided to make a trial block.  There are three colors and four different shapes, so it takes attention to make sure everything in the right place.  Trying to make more than one until I had a hang of it would be too much. I didn't even try to work it in with  a leader/ender, opting to use a scrap fabric for that purpose. 

I thought I could avoid that diamond shape by cutting it in half. But it really doesn't help with the piecing. (It may have helped slightly with finding the right place to join the fabric.)  The background setting is a weird shape and while I could try to piece it, I decided to make it the way Jen did.  The center worked out pretty well.  The first set in seams not so much.  I thought maybe a three block quilt would look good. 

As I added the other background pieces, I had to convince myself to just finish the one block, just to show that I could.  I did get better as I went along, pinning properly and finding the right place to start the sewing. You have to keep going back to the block - those set in seams require eight separate passes through the machine, meaning eight passes through the leader/ender scrap. When I thought about string piecing it, trying to keep all the colors and pieces together, I got a headache. 

This one will go into the orphan block box.  It wasn't awful, but it takes more attention than I want to give it now.  This scrap quilt doesn't look like a masterpiece quilt to me, and I would like to spend that kind of time on quilts that will be masterpiece quilts. That leader/ender scrap was thoroughly filled by the time I finished the block.

The four squares in the middle is the binding fabric for The Earth Laughs in Flowers (formerly known as Daisy's Chickenpox).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Adinkra Borders

One set of borders have been added to the Adinkra top. These were tricky, since I am only working with fat quarters, have a limited selection, and since I fussy cut to get the motif. But I really like how these work with the quilt.  The side borders don't show the blue as much as I would have liked, but there is a faint blue, and is the same fabric as as some of the blocks (the bird, comb, and star). 

The top and bottom border fabric hasn't been used in the quilt but the gold echos the gold in the economy blocks, and the blue-purple helps tie the blue and the purple of the two types of blocks together.

I had to add cornerstones since there wasn't enough of either fabric to make it all the way across the quilt without additional piecing.  I thought the purple might be too bright, but in the picture it looks like it blends right in. And the gold works with all the rest of the gold. I don't think it is African fabric, but I must have bought it at about the same time since I stored it in the same box.

The original plan was to add an outer border using the fabric left from the economy blocks.  What do you think? Does the quilt need outer borders? If so, how wide should they be? What should I use for a binding?