Sunday, April 20, 2014

Crazy spring makes for scattered life

I can hardly believe it's almost the end of April!!! This winter-melting-into-spring has been crazy with lots going on. I've actually gotten more quilting done than I thought, but it's been bits and pieces of a variety of projects, so nothing new is actually finished. Ugh!

I did have one finish! The jelly roll race I had made at a Saturday Sew and Sew several months ago finally is quilted and bound. Race to Spring was fun to quilt! There were prints of sketchy circles and modern flowers in the 2.5" strips that I managed to complete in the quilting, taking the flowers out into neighboring strips. It was a stretch for me to step outside the box like that, but I think it came out great! 
 I got the idea to quilt the flowers out into neighboring strips from a blog post I read by Marija Vujcic late last year. She was quilting a woven quilt and used the flowers in the fabric as inspiration for the quilting designs. I remembered that post and tried to follow her lead as I dove into quilting my Race to Spring. Marija explained her quilting thought process in her post "The clue was in the fabric."
I took the partial flowers in the strips and created complete flowers in neighboring strips with the FMQ.
There are so many other projects piled up on my sewing table that it's hard to decide what to do next. I have one major project for a friend (20 personalized 11"x17" mini-quilt wallhangings) that has a fast-approaching deadline, so that will have to be first. Then it will be back to my Wizard of Oz quilts--two in progress, both nearing completion, my pink and black camp quilt, and the Vintage Rouge that is just about ready to assemble (I've been doing English Paper Piecing on several blocks before I can start sewing rows together).

I am trying to stay on track with my quest to have more UFOs finished in 2014 than started. We'll see how the rest of the year goes!
Mormor Liz with my grandkids--Joe (14), Jacob (almost 2), and Jordyn (10)

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter with family and friends. My day was wonderful, spent with all three kids, two sons-in-law and all three grandkids. It's so wonderful to be close enough to spend holidays and other times together again after living 1800 miles away from them for over seven years.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Friday, March 7, 2014

Catching up with projects

It's been a busy few weeks between school assignments, Jacob care, and two retreats. I was gone at the end of the month, so missed out on the NewFO Challenge linky party for February, but plan to be back in March. Here's a quick update on the projects I've been working on.

Over Presidents' Day weekend, I spent four days with the gals from the Eudora Quilting Bees Guild enjoying four days of quilting at the Tall Oaks Retreat Center in Linwood, KS. The accommodations were delightful and the food fabulous, and the array of projects being worked on dazzling! I took way too many projects with me, but rather than being overwhelmed with too much to pick from, I focused on several that had been waiting to be finished. First I finally caught up on the flannel self-binding receiving blankets I had started months ago. That's a relief! The major UFO I took to work on was the "Remember 'Whooo' Loves You" quilt for my great-niece Chelsea and her new little one Opal Faye. I had assembled the top before Thanksgiving with plans to get it to Chelsea before Opal was born in early December. It turned out I hated the way it looked--the Irish chain disappeared with the fabric choices in the layout, so I had taken it all apart and it was waiting. Now I'm very happy with it and, although Opal is already 12 weeks old, it's never too late to send a quilt that she can enjoy for many years to come.
This week I got it pinned so I can do the quilting on it. I also played with the label and chose a design I could color in with my fabric pens. It is already sewn on so it will be quilted with the rest of the quilt to make it more permanent.
Between retreats I went back to the Wizard of Oz BOM from 2010 that I had started, but was far from finishing. All of the blocks are now done, sashed, and assembled into the main body of the quilt. Next will be to start on the pieced border. Maybe that will be a task for the next retreat over Spring Break.

Finally, another BOM I started in 2013 is the Vintage Rouge. It's a gorgeous pattern that includes piecing, English paper piecing, embroidery, and applique. I was going along great until the English paper piecing blocks popped up and I came to a screeching halt! There are five of these blocks that feature a Dresden plate--four smaller ones and one large one for the quilt center. I have to admit I was intimidated by the prospect of doing the Dresden plates by hand. This week I pulled those blocks out and started in making the Dresden plates entirely by hand and amazingly the first one came out great! I'm so relieved and have started on the second one with three to go.

There are several other blocks yet to be completed before I can start sewing them together, but at least I'm not stalled anymore.While attending the quilt retreat in Oklahoma last week I went with several of the gals to another nearby camp where a huge quilt retreat of about 90 women was being held. Numerous quilts were hung up on the walls around the main room including a Vintage Rouge that one of the campers had made and quilted. It was gorgeous and reminded me why I loved it so much! I am now anxious to get it together so I can do some fun and hopefully fancy quilting on it and get it onto a bed to show it off.

Projects are getting done, quilting is being finished, and I have bindings ready to sew on. It feels great to be making progress on several of the projects that have been stalled for too long.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Kamp Kutti Uppi--a reunion 42 years later...

Last week I drove down to Oklahoma to Kamp Kutti Uppi, a four-day (Thursday through Sunday) quilting retreat hosted by the Kiamichi quilt guild from McAlester, OK. The camp was held at the Pickens Camp facilities within the Eufala Lake State Park. The facilities were a little more rustic than other retreats I've attended, having the main building for quilting and eating, bunkhouse style cabins, and a bath house a short walk away, but still totally acceptable and quite fun! About 27 women attended from around the area and from surrounding states (including me from Kansas and at least one gal from Texas). They had a very fun program that included an optional fabric exchange and free quilt pattern to make, the Dirty Quilter game on Friday night, and a camp round robin quilt that was completed and given to the winner of a drawing of those who worked on it before camp ended. It was all very fun indeed and I definitely plan to go back next year!
Mostly I worked on my Delightful Stars blocks for the Aiming for Accuracy quilt-along I joined on Facebook and Craftsy. Having gotten buried in school work recently, I was several blocks behind and wanted to catch up. Working with the beautiful batiks I've been collecting and using a black Kona cotton background, this will be a gorgeous quilt when completed!

Once those were caught up, I moved on to the fabric exchange. Those who were interested in participating were encouraged to bring 14 2.5" x WOF strips and 40 5" squares of black/white/gray fabrics to exchange upon arrival. If we wanted to make the free pattern available at camp, we also needed to bring 1.5 yards (or more) of a neutral color of our choice. I chose a hot pink Kona cotton that I have since learned is named Pomegranate. I love the vibrance against the black/white/gray prints! 

The pattern was fairly simple and before I left on Saturday afternoon (yep, a day early because of the snow and ice between me and home that was starting Saturday night) I had a throw size quilt top made!

The round robin quilt these gals make during the camp weekend was great fun! It started out with a starter block made and brought by the recipient of last year's camp round robin quilt. These two stars Linda is holding were the starting point and throughout the weekend whoever wanted to work on it could add rows or borders as they pleased until, at the end of the weekend, the names of those who worked on it would be thrown in a hat and a winner drawn. There were several vendors in attendance, so if campers wanted to work on it but didn't have the right colors in their retreat stash, they could purchase fat quarters or other amounts of fabric to work with. It's amazing how it turned out and Paula was so pleased to win! Next year she will make a center starter block and let the camp chairman know ahead of time what colors/theme she chose so campers can better plan to bring something to add to next year's round robin quilt.

What made Kamp Kutti Uppi even sweeter was the fact that I reunited with a friend from Pittsburg High School (Pittsburg, California) some 42 years later! Yep, even though we hadn't seen each other in decades, the reconnection was instant and we had a blast! After reconnecting on Facebook several years ago, Linda and I found that we are both now quilters living in adjoining states in the midwest. As coordinator for Kamp Kutti Uppi, she had invited me to attend some months ago. Once it got closer I couldn't wait to get down there to see her and to meet a whole bunch of new quilty friends.

Although I was sorry to have to leave early, I was so grateful for having made that decision. I drove into freezing mist a couple hours into my nearly 5-hour drive, and the snow had started falling at home before I got there. Chatting with Linda after I got home, I learned that I wasn't alone in my decision. The group of 27 had dwindled to 12 locals by Saturday evening. I'm already looking forward to next year's camp and hope to make it an annual event. As a Gypsy Dreamer who used to dream of gypsying to contra dance weekends, now I'm gypsying to quilt camps. And I couldn't be happier!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Monday, February 24, 2014

Giving back with Sew it Forward

A new group on Facebook has grown out of a couple of the FB quilting groups I follow. One in particular got started earlier this year when a member of one of the open groups asked other quilters to make and send her blocks so she could make a quilt for each of her family members who lost their home to fire around the first of the year. That launched the Sew it Forward, a closed Facebook group, that has since grown to 200 members and is now collecting blocks for their sixth family who lost a home to fire.

The first project was for rail fence blocks in red, green and white. Everyone who sent blocks made them from their own stash, so while the color theme is the same, each block is unique. 

The next project I made blocks for requested disappearing nine-patches in black, white and red. I found a FQ that I had been hanging onto for something special with encouraging words and was happy to include it in one of the blocks.

Finally, the last project I donated to was to a widow with twelve (yes, that's 12!) children whose house burned down. I had western panels that had been given to me that I had already turned into tops. I went ahead and finished them completely and shipped them out to go to two of the boys in the family. It feels so good to give to those in need.

I will be watching the group for new projects as they open up and will try to send at least one block to help others with their projects. Once the point person for each project receives all the blocks and completes the top(s), there are quilters who are donating their time to provide the longarm quilting to finish the quilts. Quilters have big hearts and this is one group that I am very grateful to be a part of.

February and March are busy months for me with three 4-day retreats! I went to one two weeks ago just 15 miles from home. It was a good trial run to be sure I do better at including the supplies I'll need for the upcoming weekends further from home. I made a list so I won't forget to pack the few things I needed and had forgotten. This week I leave Wednesday night and head to Oklahoma (nearly 5 hours away) where I'll be attending a retreat organized by an old high school classmate from California! Who would have ever guessed that she and I would both become quilters AND live in neighboring states in the middle of the country 40+ years later! Thanks to Facebook we have reconnected and become friends all over again. I'm so looking forward to our mini-PHS Class of '72 reunion. Tomorrow (my day without my grandson) I'll be doing most of my packing and last minute shopping so I'll be ready to go when Jacob gets picked up Wednesday afternoon.

There have been lots of projects started, but I'll save those for another day. That's all for tonight's update.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The first NewFOs of the New Year

I'm joining the fun again this year at Barb from Cat Patches' 2014 NewFo Challenge.

For those who don't know about it, Barb's challenge is to starting something new every month. Now, whether you finish it or not, or when, is up to you. I love the challenge to be creative and maybe learn something new. Or maybe it's starting some of those PIGS [projects in grocery sacks] or PIZB [projects in ziploc bags] that have been accumulating and are threatening to overrun my sewing room! And there's always the chance you might win some wonderful little goodies by posting to the NewFO Linky Party each month.

I've started 2014 off with a bang. I already have several new projects going and for my 2014 quilting resolution, I am determined to finish quilting the already-pinned quilts on the closet shelf, as well as the several completed tops that are waiting until I have enough pins freed up to use. If I do get everything quilted this year, I suspect I'll need a bigger safety pin box! I've purchased more pins several times as I wanted to get yet another project pinned and ready, but haven't gotten around to quilting them it. Such is life... We'll see how this year turns out.

For my projects, the first big one that actually started in November, is Solstice Moonrise. This is my version of Bonnie K. Hunter's Quiltville 2014 Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt. I started cutting out and making units in November and early December, then skipped to around New Year's when I dove back in and finished up the top. I love how it turned out, especially the modified border I put on it. It's in line to be quilted this year, too.

Next, I've joined in the Aiming For Accuracy 2014 Delightful Stars paid quilt-along.  I paid for the pattern through Craftsy, so download the updated file there as it's released with additional block patterns; however, I'm really enjoying being part of the Facebook group who are all working on this project! It's fun to see everyone's blocks and how different color choices can make them look. I found the collection of bright batiks that I had been saving for a fun project. I also purchased (hopefully) enough black Kona cotton to use as the background. I've long admired the quilts that use brights on black background and decided this is my year to make one. This weekend I should get to block #2, but the first one is done and I love the look of it!
Back in 2010, while I was still living in California, I had come to Kansas to see my kids. I shop-hopped my way from Emporia to Leavenworth and happened to stop in Baldwin City at Quilters' Paradise. Sharon, the owner, had a Wizard of Oz BOM going that I fell in love with! I purchased the first few block kits she had available in the store and several months later she shipped me a carton with the rest of the blocks and finishing kit to my then-home in California. Well, life got in the way and the box stayed on the shelf, got moved back to Kansas in 2012, and from Emporia to Eudora in early 2013. Hoping to get some existing projects going or finished this year, I added this quilt to the list. Over the last few weeks I've gotten to within 4 blocks of being done with the block kits and plan to take the project with me to a retreat next month to start the assembly. Here's what would fit on my 54"x54" design board last week. Fun blocks with lots of fussy cuts!
As a spin-off from the Facebook page Quilter's Show and Tell, there's now a new group called Sew it Forward who are making quilts for families who have lost homes to fire. Having been started just in the last few weeks, we are already working on, I believe, five projects in different states and Canada! There is a point-person for each project who receives the blocks made by the members of the group from around the world, who then organizes getting the tops made and quilted to be presented to the families. I've made blocks for two separate projects and have two children's quilts that I'm finishing and sending to a third project. The first project leader asked for rail fence blocks. The second is using disappearing 9-patch blocks. 
The third project I'm contributing to has 13 family members, so two UFOs from my closet are going towards that project--the western quilt pictured is one of two nearly identical quilts that are almost ready for binding. 

Last month at a Sit-and-Stitch day with some of the gals from the Maple Leaf Quilt Guild, I helped several of them make stack-and-slash blocks. I made a set too, working along side them. Instead of just putting mine together, I used Marti Michell's Sashing Stars templates and added beautiful gold stars to my blue snowflake sashings. It, too, is ready to be quilted, so it's been added to the stack.

Finally, I'm just a couple of weeks out from the next Honey Beezz Flea Market where I share a booth with a friend who crochets. We put out my quilted items and her afghans and enjoy visiting with the people who come to the flea and stop by our booth. This is a new venture for me, so don't have any small things that are quick sale items on hand, so I've been trying to plan ahead. Today I spent all afternoon making some of the cutest mug rugs! Two are Valentine's theme, two have pink ribbons, and four were orphan blocks and left over piano keys that I used in a quilt several years ago. I have one more to bind tomorrow and I'll have 8 ready to go to the flea this month!

I'd say I have definitely accomplished Barb's NewFO goal for January! With two retreats in February to plan projects for, I suspect I won't have any problem starting at least one NewFO next month. As Jacob, my grandson, continues to get bigger, he plays independently much better and doesn't get into things quite like he did just a few months ago. This allows me to be working on projects in the kitchen while he plays around me or watches a few cartoons on NickJr. This morning he "helped" me organize my scraps that I'm collecting. I had them sorted by 1.5", 2", and 2.5" squares and strips, but now they're all together. He sure had fun and I got to sew, so I'm not complaining. It's just entertaining to watch him get interested in something as basic as my scrap drawers instead of his basket of toys.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Solstice Moonrise, my first top finish of 2014!

I've been working on my version of Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery quilt over the last few weeks. Getting sick after Christmas and building a nest with my sewing machine in front of the TV gave me someplace to get past the cold/cough while staying busy. I must have watched over 30 movies while staying busy with Gerty, my Singer 301A. I went through many Disney movies, all of the Harry Potters, all six Star Wars, and many more. It was fun since I knew all of the movies well enough that they weren't a total distraction, but good company. The progression of building this quilt top was covered in this post. And as of last night, the borders are on and it's ready for quilting! Introducing my Solstice Moonrise!
 Bonnie's pattern had a finish of a narrow neutral inner border followed by all of those diamonds set horizontally around the quilt as individual tri-rec arrows. After watching so many creative border variations being posted on the Celtic Solstice Facebook page, I decided to play and do something different on my quilt. I liked the way Åsa Frankén of Sweden did her border, completing the partial diamonds out into her border. I changed it up a bit and only finished the star-diamonds and then turned the other tri-recs into diamonds.

Here's how the border breaks down. First I assembled the orange horizontal tri-rec diamonds, six per side. I then made three separate units, sewing one orange tri-rec point up between two horizontal tri-rec diamonds. These units measure 3.5" x 15.5". I then cut a 2" x 15.5" strip of blue to add to the side the center tri-rec unit was pointing up. Then I gathered my four neutral tri-rec units and added a 3.5" x 2" strip to the point side of each. You need two more orange tri-rec units with a 3.5" x 2" strip sewn to the point side for each end of the border strip.

First border strip is now ready to be assembled. Be sure to alternate the direction the orange tri-rec units point with the direction the neutral tri-rec units point. Orange points towards the quilt, neutral points away from the quilt and line up to complete their corresponding star-diamond units.

The second border strip is constructed of five orange tri-rec units sewn vertically onto blue strips as follows: Orange unit, 9.5" blue strip, orange unit, 15.5" blue strip, orange unit, 15.5" blue strip, orange unit, 9.5" blue strip, orange unit. This configuration lines the orange units up (with points away from the quilt) to complete the secondary vertical orange diamonds in the border. After you attach this second border strip to the first, they should measure 8" unfinished by the width of your quilt (all in multiples of 3 plus the 1/2" seam allowance).
Finally, I had originally made too many pinwheels, all of which I had mistakenly made at 4.5" unfinished instead of 3.5". I had left the extras untrimmed, so pulled four of those, sashed them with another blue fabric, and trimmed them to 8" unfinished. The first two border strips were attached to either end of the quilt, and then the final two border strips with pinwheels added for corner detail were attached. My quilt top measures 79" square.

I admit figuring out the borders was a bit of a challenge. I wasn't sure how scrappy it wanted it, so added strips to multiple units instead of individual 3.5" pieces for each unit. I did use the same fabric for the entire outer strip for continuity. I wish I had had enough for the corner pinwheel sashings, but the scraps were running low by the time I got to those.

It's been such an adventure completing such a gorgeous quilt top among "friends" on the project's Facebook page. I've even connected with a few quilters who live nearby and we are talking about having a Bonnie Hunter fans quilting party soon. I'm definitely going to be looking at some of Bonnie's other quilts since this one was so fun! The bag of fabrics I pulled from my stash for this quilt is still nearly full, so more scrappy quilts will definitely be in the queue. It was outside my comfort zone, making such an elaborate design, especially being scrappy; however, I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Now on to the next new project, whatever that may be.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Celtic Solstice is coming along!

We're into the 2nd weekend of January, 2014, already. Christmas was great, celebrating with all three of my kids, two SILs and three grandkids. My daughter hosted, so I didn't have to do a thing but relax and enjoy my family! That's way to celebrate! Unfortunately, all three grandkids had or were just getting over this year's flu/cold/crud and they more than happy to share with the rest of us! So, one daughter and SIL, my son, and I all ended up getting sick. I slept through the week of New Year's. Once I started feeling human again, I moved my sewing machine into the living room in front of my TV, stacked up a bunch of movies I wanted to watch again, and started sewing and singing along with Disney movies, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and many more. And, in less time than I expected, I have made great progress on my Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice 2014 mystery quilt! What an adventure this has been, sharing with everyone on the CS Facebook page as we all progressed and are still progressing, each at our own pace.
Bonnie made the big reveal on New Year's Eve at midnight. I was far from being even close to having the clues made since I was down with the bug, but kept downloading the clues to work on when I felt better. This is how it went... Selecting fabrics from my stash, scraps, and FQ drawer in the colors recommended by Bonnie started things off.
When I posted my first real update on my CS, I was still working on the tri-rec's for clue one.They all got made, but as I was assembling the quilt blocks late this week, I undid all of those with the red pinwheel print and replaced them with white to better match the rest of the blocks. Oh how I love going frogging... rip-it, rip-it, rip-it. As you'll see, it was well worth it in the end!
Then I started in on the lovely and challenging chevrons. I spent a weekend working a booth at a local flea market and took my supplies with me and got most of the parts cut out, staying busy when it wasn't busy.
Getting them sewn together properly was not as much of a challenge as I had thought it might be, but maybe it's because I've done this type of piecing before.
As I cut the small triangles off of the chevrons, I started string piecing them together, sewing along one short side. Eventually they will be little pinwheels themselves to be used in another project.
It was fun watching as I string-pieced the various parts to see them fall into a perfect spiral "flower" on the floor behind my machine.

Then it was on to the pinwheels. I used triangle paper to make them, stitching on the lines and then cutting them apart into perfect HSTs. I left the paper on until after I'd pressed them so they wouldn't distort on the bias edges. My only mistake on these was that I chose a triangle paper larger than I needed, so ended up with 2.5" HSTs that made larger pinwheels than I needed, so each one had to be trimmed down to 3.5" finished after they were sewn together.
Once the pinwheels were made (notice they're larger, pic taken pre-trimming), I put some of each clue up on my design board to get a look at how the parts were progressing. I must admit it was fun seeing each piece come together and wonder about what the finished blocks would look like!

I continued on to the four-patches (which I didn't photograph) and then the split triangle blocks. This time I used the correct size triangle paper printed from Triangulations so there wasn't any extra trimming to do, thank goodness! I used lots of Best Press on the fabrics before cutting out to help keep them from distorting as I sewed all those bias edges together.
With all of the clues made, it was time to start playing with the layout to see what my scrappy color combinations would look like in the finished quilt. Now it was getting very exciting!
As you can see, I chose to turn my chevrons around and make my Birthday Girl blocks into stars. Also, several of the 54-40 blocks with the tri-recs don't have 4-patches in them. This is because I had used both white and creamy/tan neutrals and wanted the whites together in the center with the creamy neutrals on the outside. So, I laid out the tri-recs alone to get their color placement correct first and then started sewing those blocks together with the scrappy 4-patches. It's definitely coming together and has taken over half of my kitchen! I'm leaving it on the floor until it's all assembled so I can keep the blocks and rows straight until I get them all sewn together. Then it will be on to borders. I've loved several of the border variations I've seen and may borrow ideas from a couple of people's quilts to finish off mine. We'll see...

I'm linking up with the Mystery Monday Link-up Part 6 on Bonnie's blog where others are sharing their Celtic Solstice progress.

This has been such a fun project! I'm definitely going to do more scrappy quilts and am already looking forward to Bonnie's 2015 mystery quilt. The bag full of fabrics I pulled for this project is still mostly full, so there's plenty more to do this again or do some other scrappy top in these colors. And then there's the tubs and totes and bags of fabrics hiding in my sewing room and under various beds and in closets. LOL!

As soon as all the pieces and borders are assembled, I'll be posting more pix, but for today, this is a full update of how my Celtic Solstice has come together. I'm seriously considering calling it Solstice Moonrise since there are several fabrics with stars and moons, plus several scraps from the Goodnight Moon quilt I made for my grandson. I'm also partial to the winter solstice since that's my birthday.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,