Thursday, February 2, 2023

Quilt Goals 2023 - A Bit Outside My Comfort Zone

I read a post on the Jolly Jabber, the blog of the Fat Quarter Shop, about setting a goal for yourself in 2023 to tackle a new quilting technique or type of quilt you've never made before.  #QuiltGoals2023  I'd like to do it.  

I've been working steadily on my unfinished projects; I should have a second flimsy completed in a few more days.  It is satisfying to get these projects done because I don't like the idea of unfinished projects hanging over me, but after I've completed a few of them I'm sure to be ready for something new.  I really like the idea of challenging myself to do something I haven't done before or am not so confident about tackling.  I have a few quilts on my bucket list that fit this description.

I've been wanting to make a Jack's Chain design quilt.  It is all straight piecing, squares and triangles, but the placement and color contrast gives the appearance of interlocking circles.

This particular version is by American Jane Patterns and is called Squaring the Circle.  I really like it but am not sure how useful a 53" circular quilt will be.  Maybe as a table topper?  There are other versions that use partial blocks to make a square or rectangular quilt.

Another quilt on my bucket list is this one, Mahalo by A Quilting Life Designs.  I've had this pattern for a long time but never made it.

But I also really like Glam Clam, a clamshell design with large blocks that can showcase larger prints.  

And for something completely different...For years, I've been saving my old jeans with the idea of making something out of the denim.  How about this dress from Anthropologie?  The truth is I wouldn't get enough wear out of a dress like this (and anyway, it turns out that it is not real patchwork, it is printed polyester fabric - cheating!) but maybe a tote bag or something.  

So I'll mull this over while I work on the next few UFOs but I'm sure one of these will be a future 2023 project for me.  Is #QuiltGoals2023 in your future?

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Just Finish It Challenge - First Finish

While giving my sewing room a much needed clean up, I found so many unfinished projects.  I'm determined to finish at least five of them before undertaking anything new.  Here is the first (sort of) finish.  

It's the quilt I started at the Sew Brimfield retreat in early November.  I made most of the granny square blocks at the retreat, finished the last few when I got home, then the project sat.

Last week, I got the top finished, with the borders on.  And I have the backing ready.  So while not quite a finished quilt, it is ready to go to the long arm quilter.  

This is another made-from-stash quilt.  I need to use up more of my stash before I buy fabric because I simply don't have room for more, short of storing it in the attic.  

On to just-finish-it number 2.

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Friday, January 13, 2023

Sewing Room Before and After

In early December, I realized my sewing room was so messy and cluttered that I really didn't enjoy being in there.  I had been avoiding it and that meant I hadn't been doing much sewing.  I had to give it a good clean out.  Here are some pictures of the room in its "before" condition.

Piles of projects in various states on the bed and bins of fabric on the floor.  

We have a 4-bedroom house and my sewing room is the smallest bedroom, about 10' by 11', and furnished with orphan furniture from our prior houses.  The house was built in 1917 and though the closets were probably considered generously sized at the time, they are small by today's standards so I can't pack everything into the closet and call it a day.  I packed some stuff away, including two tubs of fabric that went up in the attic, and found a place to keep my two design boards when I'm not using them.  

Now much neater and more welcoming.  The challenge will be to keep it this way.

During the cleaning up, I identified nine projects in various stages of not-finished.  To be truthful, some aren't even started; I just have all the materials for the project gathered together.  I've got each one packaged up in a separate zipped project bag or shopping bag and stored away; my goal is to get them out one at a time (to avoid clutter and chaos) and finish at least five of them before I begin anything new.  

Wish me luck!

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Pirouette or Dance Party, A Finished Quilt

About 10 months ago, I began the process of making about a gajillion half square triangles out of my collection of 30's reproduction prints to use in the making of a design called Pirouette by Carrie Nelson.  The pattern in featured in the book A Scrapbook of Quilts by Joanne Figueroa and Carrie Nelson (well worth having in your quilting library if you don't own it already).  I finished the top by mid-summer then had it quilted by a long-arm quilter.  I got it bound in time to give it to my sister and brother-in-law for Christmas.  I named my version Dance Party.

I was really happy with the way it came out and they seemed to like it too.  

It is a fairly easy design to make, though the number of blocks needed for a queen bed size quilt means the process can become a bit tedious.  

The quilting design is a panto (edge to edge), a loose feather that softens the linear piecing.  I used a wide back by Lori Holt for Riley Blake fabrics that I bought for this purpose but all the other fabric, including the binding, came from my stash and is from older fabric lines.

I hope you had a merry Christmas or other holiday celebration and are settling in for the new year.  I'll be back soon with my plans for 2023.

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Monday, November 21, 2022

My Experience at Sew Brimfield Quilting Retreat

I've been home from the Sew Brimfield retreat for two weeks; I owe you a report.  In a nutshell:  It was loads of fun!

I drove from my home in New Jersey to the retreat location near Leesburg, Virginia.  Packed and ready to load the car with my small-ish suitcase of clothes, sewing machine, tote bag of "swaps" (more on that later), big tote bag full of my projects and supplies, and my new cutting mat carrier.  

The retreat was held at the National Conference Center, a facility built by Xerox as a training center.  It is huge, with 900+ guest rooms and lots of meeting rooms and worked well for this retreat.  One thing I especially liked was that the rooms are mostly single rooms so each retreat participant had her own which I appreciated as it meant I did not need to find a friend to go with me nor room with someone I didn't know.  I forgot to take a photo of my room; it was small but comfortable, with a full size bed, a big desk and desk chair, night stand, small dresser to unpack into, small closet, and bathroom.  Very comfortable but not luxurious.  Of course, I spent most of the time in...

our big meeting room where all the sewing magic happened.  We each had our own station with a sturdy table, desk chair, and electric outlets.  There were several stations for ironing (irons provided by Oliso) and cutting (mats and rotary cutters provided - I never used the mat and rulers I brought along).  There was an adjacent space we used for demos and classes (all optional) and a smaller room that housed the Brimfield Awakening pop-up shop.  We ate meals in a separate dining room also used by other groups at the conference center.

There were about 65 participants, women of all ages, united by our love of this hobby.  It meant we had plenty to talk about!

I primarily worked on a project inspired by a quilt made by The Pattern Basket that I saw on Instagram.  She used her pattern called Confetti Cake but I made a similar design in the past with some success, Lori Holt's Great Granny Squared, so I stuck with that pattern.  I cut the squares smaller and added an additional round.   I cut everything at home before I went to the retreat, then used my design boards to lay out each block and sew it together.

Here's the ironing station, with Oliso iron, at the retreat.  I really liked the irons, was going to buy one until I found out the price!  Maybe someday.

With nearly three days of sewing while someone else cooked my meals, I was able to finish all the blocks for this quilt.  

I also spent a few hours working on Dot Dot Dot, my long term project that involves a lot of hand work.

A big part of the retreat was meeting the other women.  In real life, I know only a few women who quilt so it was fun to talk to others and see their projects.  I met two women who live not-too-far from me and belong to a local chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild so I am thinking of going to one of their meetings to see how it is.  

The retreat organizers, Nisha and Kim of Brimfield Awakening, gave us a lot of swag.   

I especially like the Stash N Store because it holds a number of tools upright in a narrow space.  I'm thinking of getting a small one to hold makeup brushes.  We learned how to make the pincushion using two charm squares and two buttons.

The retreat also had an optional swap to participate in.  If you wanted to be in it, you filled out a questionnaire of your likes, dislikes, interests then were given a participant to provide three swap items for.  (We got this information in July so had time to figure out what to make or buy.)  I was assigned Kathy with a "K" and from the questionnaire I could tell we have a lot in common;  we both like antiques and vintage and share some of the same favorite fabric designers like French General.  

For the first night's exchange, I made her a pincushion using some linen and an old doily (but forgot to take a picture of it).  For the second night, I made some sachets filled with dried lavender and gave her a vintage embroidered linen cutlery holder.  

For the third night, I made the Lola zipper pouch using the pattern by Sotak and French General fabric.   (I highly recommend the pattern.  I've made three and find them pretty easy.)

Kristen from Delaware had me as her partner.  I mentioned my love of Corgis in the questionnaire and she came through with a Corgi pencil holder and some pens on the first night and a clear zipper bag full of little treasures on the second night.  Then the third night was the fabric bucket, Laundry Basket Quilts charm pack, and the set of rainbow colored plastic boxes in a holder.  I plan to use it to hold my English paper piecing templates and papers.  What is funny is that the day before, I noticed a similar gizmo on the work station of Wendy, sitting next to Kristen, and was quizzing her about it because I wanted one.  Wendy's came from Daiso, a Japanese dollar store that I've been to in California but I don't think we have one in New Jersey.  Kristen overheard and while at this point I did not know she was my partner (it was a secret until the third night), she knew she had "done good."

So that's my report on Sew Brimfield.  If you get a chance to go on a quilt retreat, I urge you to take it.  I really couldn't make time for one when I was employed full time but am so glad I did this one.  I lost some of my quilting mojo over the summer and felt stalled on my projects but regained the enthusiasm with the retreat and my granny square quilt is almost finished.  Of course, I will be naming it Sew Brimfield.

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Friday, September 9, 2022

Bee Organized Cutting Mat & Ruler Carrier

So, I made a bag.  A very large bag!

I've had these Robyn Pandolph fabrics from the Hannah Bella line in my stash for almost 20 years.  I bought them when Miss Main Street was a child, intending to make a quilt for her bedroom, but before I got to it, her taste changed and she didn't want anything girly or floral.  I ended up making her a quilt with bright batiks instead.  So all this fabric has been patiently waiting for a project to come along.

I am going to a quilt retreat in November.  I will need to take a LOT of stuff with me (fortunately, I will be traveling by car).   A bag to safely hold my cutting mat and rulers seemed like a good idea, so I made one.  

I stumbled on this pattern by Lori Holt.  It is really quite simple to make, though it does require a lot of fabric - I think I used about seven yards in total, plus interfacing and batting.  

I made a few modifications to the pattern to work with my fabrics better.  I made the straps narrower to make use of the floral stripe and I sized my pockets to hold the rulers I use most.  The bag is similar to an artist's portfolio, with large pockets to hold an 18 by 24 cutting mat (or large design boards) and several smaller pockets to hold acrylic rulers of various sizes.

Interfacing helps the pockets hold their shape and I used fusible fleece to provide some padded protection.  The whole thing folds in the middle and snaps shut at the top, with handles to carry it.  

Above  is one side, packed with design boards and rulers...

...while the other side has the cutting mat and more rulers.   The pattern is pretty easy to follow, except that all the instructions refer to fabrics from the line Lori Holt used to make her version.  It helps to make a conversion chart for your own fabric choices and I simplified by using fewer fabrics to work with what I had on hand.  

I'll let you know how well it works "in the field" after the retreat.

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Moda Blockheads 4/Little Blocks 4.5

I have 17 4.5" blocks (finished size) made and I am putting this project aside for now.

I've been making the blocks out of Christmas-y fabrics, bits and pieces from my stash.  I like the blocks but don't know what I am going to do with them and have kind of lost the love for this project.  Mostly, I've realized that I really don't enjoy the process of foundation paper piecing.  When I made Rainbow Connection, I was excited enough about my vision for the finished quilt that I could tolerate the process.  Not so much now that I don't have an endpoint in mind.  I much prefer the process of making the regular pieced blocks from the Moda project, and I plan to go back to it as soon as I have a plan for the blocks.  I may even add more from the Little Blocks project.  

But until then, I need a project I can love, and I have something in mind.  But first, I'm going to make some items of a "practical" nature.  Look for an update soon. 

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png