Showing posts with label Blocks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blocks. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2013

Caught Up on Bee Blocks

Well, while the Virtual Quilt Show was running I was actually getting a lot of sewing done. Right after QuiltCon I actually wrapped up my latest project for work and I out myself on a personal hiatus. I am actually trying to take a whole six months off. I know that's what I said last time, and my friends and family have bets out on if I'll actually be able to make it the full six months, but nearly one month in and I am loving the time off. 

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I spent the first week or so just cleaning out my studio space and trying to get it into workable order. And I've spent (most) of the rest of the month trying to play catch up on UFOs and bee blocks so I could clear my plate and start to focus on the stuff I really want to focus on for me. And I am happy to say that I am now completely caught up on bee blocks. The first ones I tackled were the last ones I owed for the Bee a Lone Star(burst) Bee because those blocks for Candy were embarrassingly late. Her month was November. But Now they're done and that bee has been laid to rest. No more paper piecing bees for me. At least for a while. I do love these blocks and you can find the template here, but four a month was more than a little aggressive.


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Then I started catching up on my blocks for the Hope Circle. In January Janet asked us to make Quatrefoil Blocks using only brightly colored solids. I love these blocks. In fact I asked a bee to make them for me a few years back. And each time I make them I get a little better with giving enough seam allowance so the points of the petals don't get lost in the seams. 



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Then for February, Suzy asked us to make these awesome (and easy) Stash Buster Blocks using an alternating Cool and Warm palate. I got a little overzealous and ended up making her eight blocks instead of four. Oops! Well at least that's a happy accident.



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And for March in the same bee, Muriël asked Woven Blocks in greens and blues suitable for a boy, since boys don't get as many quilt donations as girls. I can't wait to see how these three quilts turn out. And April is my month so I need to start thinking about what kind of quilt I want the bee to make this time around.


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Then I had to catch up in the Sewn Together Bee. In January Mary sent us some gorgeous fabric and requested Potager Blocks from the book "Modern Blocks - 99 Quilt Blocks". I love the colors she's using in this quilt. After all, gray is my favorite neutral. 

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Then in February Rick asked us to help him make a quilt for his brother. His brother loves to fish so he sent us some fish fabric and colorful batiks for the strips. I think his brother is just going to love this quilt when it comes together. Phew, I made it through the bee blocks owed and now I'm up-to-date. No more lagging behind for me. Work got really intense last year, so I'm hoping the time off will get me back on my game. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Marathon Quilt: Month Nine

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It's a couple days late, but I promised a nine month check in on the Marathon Quilt. (I almost could have had a baby in the amount of time I've already put into this quilt!) I was traveling a lot for work in January, so that meant a lot of time on airplanes with time to hand sew. And I got a lot done, but I was a complete idiot when I was laying out pieces so the work I accomplished didn't necessarily help me properly this month. 


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I've been laying out pieces for my rings and then stringing them together in order so I can just work semi-brainlessly when I'm traveling. Well, you know me and my blonde moments. I do have them quite often it seems. In my haste, as I was laying out the pieces for the next five blocks I ended up laying out extra in between rows. I didn't notice my error until I was almost all the way finished with them, so when I started piecing them with the centers I started to notice that my rings weren't flowing right. I know, it's scrappy so it shouldn't bother me, but it does. I was able to fudge a couple of them, and I know I'll be the only one who will ever notice the inconsistencies, but ugh! So I have a few leftover rounds that I know will find homes later, but I just couldn't bring myself to pick them a part. Instead, I just made new ones. 


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So, there are more homeless pieces this month. After that pile had dwindled to almost nothing. But I'm excited that I have pretty much used all of the little ring pieces that I pre-pieced so long ago. Now, I'm working from scraps and enjoying the basting in between the sewing. And I did get five new blocks pieced... almost. Even though they're not joined to the main body of the quilt yet. This little project keeps growing every month. I'm not anticipating much growth this month, though you may see me working on it a bit at QuiltCon. Less than two weeks away! I am so excited!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Foot Failure

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So I bought myself a walking foot with a 1/4" guide for Hepburn. I didn't even know these things existed, but at our LAMQG Retreat this Fall, Latifah introduced me to this little magical wonder. She pieces with her walking foot and mentioned that it helps especially sewing over some of those bulky seams, which makes sense. Then she showed me this little beauty. I knew I must have it. 


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I tried to find it online (not terribly hard, but hard enough) and had some trouble finding one. Then, one day while I was working in Tennessee I noticed a little sewing machine shop down the road, that happened to be a certified Janome dealer. I stopped in on my lunch break to ask if they carried the foot. They said they did, and I got excited, but then had a heap of trouble finding it. Sadly, I thanked them for trying and told them where I was working for the day just in case they were able to find one. Half an hour later they came looking for me. They had the foot! They were so friendly and helpful. If you're ever in Murfreesboro, TN be sure to stop by Absolutely Fun Sewing and Embroidery.


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I decided to take it for a test run on some of my (past-due) bee blocks. Caitlin had asked us to make Scrap Buster Blocks from Little Miss Shabby's tutorials. Her request was that we use black, white and gray scraps for the 1.5" squares and a bright solid like an orange or pink for the strips. 


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Piecing was going really well. I seemed to be moving right along making the 1.5" square rows and then I started to put the block together. My scrappy rows were consistently too short. I measured them up against the foot guide and it seemed fine. I didn't have the stamina to start all over again so I decided to try and solve the problem rather than "scrap" it. I cut the solid strips wider than in the tutorial and that seemed to help. Then I realized the problem. My needle isn't matching up with the guideline on my new walking foot!


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Ugh. I just assumed that it would automatically be aligned. Well, you know what happens when you assume? You screw up your scrap buster blocks! Ugh! I think I was able to salvage the blocks without starting completely from scratch. I had a few extra 1.5" squares left over from cutting, so I ended up adding extra squares to each scrappy row. That, paired with the wider solid strips helped me to save the blocks. They're now just a scant bi shy of 12.5" square, so I think Caitlin will still be able to work with them. But sigh. These are definitely not my best work.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Finally Some New Year Sewing

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2013 has already been a whirlwind. I finally got home late last week, but I had a migraine that didn't seem to want to cooperate and stayed with me through the weekend. I did manage to pull Hepburn out of my studio (which is chilly right now and crammed with junk that needs to be organized - but that's another story) and do a little bit of sewing. And I also got to try out my new foot...


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Right now my MUST DO LIST seems daunting. I have two sets of bee blocks that were due before the New Year. Plus I have one last swap looming and I need to finish quilting and binding my Broken Triangles Quilt, because it was accepted into the show at Quilt Con! Yeah, that's a piece of news I received while I was on holiday in Alaska and I've been sitting on it a while. I'm still in a little bit of shock. I got it basted and quilted "enough" to submit it in November so now I need to get it finished. 

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I started on one set of overdue bee blocks. But I started cutting the wrong color of 1.5" squares. I got all 176 squares cut before I re-read what she wanted and realized that the scraps are supposed to be black, white and gray. I didn't let it get me down. I know I'll need those other 1.5" squares somewhere down the line. It's inevitable. 


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Then, I also pulled fabrics for the swap. I think Anna Maria, Lotta and Jay will play nicely together, don't you? I have a plan that I think will make my partner very happy. What were you up to this week?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Marathon Quilt: Month Eight

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It's been a little silent around here because the husband and I took a little trip over the holidays. I had ten days off from work so we headed up to Alaska. Neither of us had been and we got an amazing last-minute deal so we just went north. We had an agenda for the trip, which is totally unlike us, but the weather thwarted almost all of our plans. It was unseasonably warm while we were there, but we still had a blast. I did had a cold that I couldn't seem to shake the entire trip so I spent most of the days sleeping in, skiing half day and then retiring back to the room to rest before dinner. 

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I did manage to get some sewing done during my rest periods. So, I actually made a lot of headway on my Marathon Quilt. Last month I only had 9 blocks fully completely, but only six of those blocks were actually sewn together. I went to town on making blocks during the plane rides and rest time in the hotel. In fact, I now have 15 blocks completed AND they're all joined together. 

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Unfortunately this cold lingered and turned nasty as soon as I got home on New Years so today is actually the first day I was able to drag myself out of bed. I felt like I really needed to make an appearance at work this morning because on Sunday I'm back on another plane and will be gone on business for the next ten days. Ugh. I really hope I can shake this thing and fast.


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While lying in bed the past couple days I did also manage to plan out the next four blocks (block 5 is complete spare for the middle). I'm planning to take this project with me on my business trip, so I anticipate making even more headway this month. Slowly but surely it's coming along. And Mercedes was very interested in my little photo shoot this morning. She kept trying to eat the pieces. Silly chicken. Happy New Year to all of you and yours!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bee Blocks Almost Done

I didn't get nearly as much as I wanted to get done this weekend, but I'm okay with that. Saturday I only left the house once, and spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch, with a fire and the dog catching up on my TV shows and doing some hand sewing. There was so much sewing I actually had to do, but I opted to laze on the couch instead. Yesterday I had a holiday brunch with my friends in the early part of the day any by the time I got home in the mid afternoon I resolved not to leave the house again. This time I did get some face time with Hepburn to catch up on some bee blocks to get me through to the end of the year. 


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I've got next week off work so we're taking a little trip (to Alaska! I'm so excited!) so my sewing time between now and the New Year will be virtually nonexistent. I was behind on some blocks for November so I wanted to power through and get them off my plate. For the Hope Circle, Janet asked for some Garden Lattice blocks in Tangerine using this tutorial

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Then, Flaun asked us to paper piece some amazing solid blocks in the Sewn Together Bee. We used the pattern "It's a Stretch" found in the book "Modern Blocks". I am so excited about these. I absolutely cannot wait to see this quilt completed. It is going to be absolutely amazing. 


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My last block ever for the Sew Fun Bee was a low volume, traditional block for Dolores. She wanted each of us to use modern, low volume fabrics but do a different traditional block. I picked the Quatrefoil block because I love it so much. I really need to make a low volume quilt for myself someday soon.


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I'm really going to miss sewing with that group, but at least that's one bee off my plate. I still have two outstanding bee obligations to finish out the year, one for November for the Bee a Lone Star(burst) and one for the December Hope Circle. Speaking of the Hope Circle, we're looking for two Stitchers to join our circle in the new year. If you're interested in joining us to make charity quilts for Threading Hope with do. Good Stitches, please contact me. We'd love to have you!

Monday, November 12, 2012

do. Good Stitches October Blocks

I am getting so excited. I can't wait for Thursday. This weekend is the annual LAMQG Retreat. I should have spent the time I had to sew this weekend prepping for the retreat, instead I caught up on the last of my tardy bee blocks. As of now, I am all caught up. I only have November blocks in the queue. Yippee!

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Robyn asked the Hope Circle to make two 12.5" unfinished Patchwork Wheel Blocks using this tutorial. She also selected an autumn palate for us to use. I struggled with this palate, I have to say. It's not that I didn't have autumnal fabrics in my stash, I do, granted not a lot, but I'm just not as comfortable with this palate, I suppose. 

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I think I need to get more comfortable with it, though, because my husband loved these blocks and colors. He never usually comments on the blocks I make for bees but these struck him. I think I need need to work with these colors more often. 

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I actually made 4 blocks since we had a member drop out of the circle and I didn't want Robyn to have to pick up the slack. Remember, if you want to do some good too. You can always sign up to join in a do. Good Stitches Circle. And Rachel is also hosting a celebration of do. Good Stitches and anyone can join in by stitching up a quilt for charity. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Celebrate Good Stitches

I've been hosting the Hope Circle for do. Good Stitches for over two years now. And while I have fallen behind on quilts in the past, I never fell behind on blocks until September when my work trip screwed everything up. So I was frantic to catch up on blocks for Suzy last week. She asked for Herringbone blocks using Holly's tutorial, but she wanted us to send the halves separate, so four half blocks instead of two 12.5" finished blocks. 


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Things were going along just fine until I realized that I didn't read the tutorial all the way through before starting and I got ahead of myself and realized that I made all four halves going in the same direction. Ugh. Well, as it turns out, we unfortunately lost a Stitcher. I thought she had made her blocks for Suzy and I was just going to pick up her blocks for October while I tried to (successfully, I might add) woo Natalie back into the bee. (Doing the Happy Dance!) Then I discovered that she was unable to complete September as well so my unfortunate mistake turned into a happy accident. I made four more halves in the opposite direction and sent all four blocks off to Suzy. 

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I simply adore the color scheme she requested we use for this quilt. Suzy wanted us to work in blues and grays with one red or orange strip in each half. It doesn't hurt that these are favorite colors of mine and I am currently obsessed with the herringbone pattern. You'll be seeing more of this pattern and, coincidentally, color scheme again very soon. I am already swooning over this quilt. 

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And if you haven't heard yet, Rachel is planning a fabulous end of the year celebration for do. Good Stitches, But you don't have to be a member of the bee to participate in the fun! Just complete one quilt for a charity of your choosing and you can be entered to win some fabulous prizes. Hop on over to her blog for more details and to join in the fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blocks for Francine

First of all, my thoughts go out to my friends and family back on the East Coast. I am so glad you are all safe and I'm sending big hugs your way. I was actually supposed to be on a flight to NYC yesterday morning for work, but Frankenstorm Sandy changed all of that. My trip was rescheduled for today but since there is no power where we are supposed to be shooting, the trip will have to be rescheduled entirely. In anticipation of another week away from home, I tried to blow through some more bee blocks this weekend. 


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October was supposed to be my month in the Sewn Together Bee, but when things got hairy with work and traveling I asked if anyone was willing to swap months with me and, thankfully, Francine offered. When I finally arrived back home I expected her fabric to be waiting for me, and I even asked my husband if there was a package for me, but there wasn't. So I got worried and told Francine that it hadn't arrived. She was at the ready and sent me more fabric almost instantly. The very next day, my husband came home and sheepishly admitted that he accidentally took some of my mail to his office. Lo and Behold Francine's original package was there, thankfully not lost. Since she had already sent the second package of fabric I decided to make her five blocks. Well, okay, four and a half. I ran out of enough fabric to complete the fifth.


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Francine cut into her precious Silent Cinema Fat Quarter bundle for these blocks and also included some solids in the mix and asked us to make her some Drunk Love inspired blocks. Slightly wonky is okay - super wonky is not. 


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Every time I make these blocks I fall in love with them a little more and I feel compelled to make my own Drunk Love inspired quilt. One of these days I swear I will. Just put one more thing on my (Want) To Do List. What are some of the things on your own (Want) To Do Lists? And Happy Halloween to everyone! It's my favorite holiday of the year, but for the first time ever I don't have a costume this year. So Sad!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fixing A Piecing Error

I remember the first time I ever paper pieced a block. I was so completely intimidated. And soon that intimidation turned to frustration as I tried to fit the scraps at just the right angle so it covered all the surface area necessary and then some for the seam allowances. By the end of that first block I had developed a love / hate relationship with paper piecing. I adore the precision that you get with paper piecing, but it can be a very annoying process. But what happens when you still make a mistake? Some can be fixed without ripping out your entire block. 

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Can you see my mistake?
I've been paper piecing a lot in the Bee A Lone Star(burst) Bee. I have to make four, very time consuming blocks a month in the bee. And, quite honestly, there hasn't been one month when I haven't had to, at least, rip a few stitches out. But recently I had quite a little freak out over a mistake, that ultimately, I was able to fix. I got to the end of a block section and realized there was a hole in the block. Yes, sometimes that means you need to start over but, with a little bit of creativity I was actually able to save the block. While preparing to build the block, I saw that the tip of my star center wasn't adequately covered. Once I calmed down I saw that the gap was small enough that I might be able to repair it and the mistake would easily disappear in the big picture. This is something I think translates to lots of different types of piecing mistakes, not just in paper piecing. Always remember that eventually there will be another 1/4" same there, so it gives you some room to play. 


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How about now? I'll give you a clue - look in the center of the star.
I reached into my scrap bin and pulled out a coordinating piece of fabric, trying to line up the design as much as possible, keeping in mind there would be a 1/4" seam as I lined up the pattern. I gently folded back the paper foundation and stitched a 1/4" seam, then ironed and trimmed. Yes, it resulted with a tiny seam in the center, but once stitched together with the rest of the pieces to make the entire block, it virtually disappeared. 


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Well, I'll admit this happened on two pieces and the other one was only slightly more significant so the seam is a little more prevalent in the finished block BUT remember (and this is hard for the perfectionist in me) once you quilt it and wash it, I guarantee you it will disappear completely. Moral of the story: All is Never lost. Be creative and don't be afraid to try and fix your mistakes. And for those of you who get as frustrated over paper piecing as I sometimes do, here are a couple more tips I hope might help ease your anxiety...


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Tip #1: Use large scraps, larger than you think you need. Yes, this creates more waste but it eventually outweighs the headache for me. Larger pieces are more forgiving, especially when you're piecing odd angles in the reverse. 

Tip #2: Always check your points and second seams before moving onto the next piece. For instance, when I'm piecing these stars, the first seam runs shorter than the second, so I always make sure that there is enough fabric to cover the entirely of the second seam when I fold the fabric over the correct way, otherwise paper will end up peeking though my points and my seams will be so scant that the block could start to fall apart first time through the wash. I check when I'm laying the new piece in, and then I double check after I sew. It's much easier to rip the stitches and move the fabric piece immediately than later on in the process.

Tip #3: This might be unpopular with some, but I do a little back stitch when I get to the points in the middle of the block. This isn't so necessary on the side seams as those will be secures later when you piece the block together or into your quilt top. But in the middle of the block I find a little reinforcement helps. Yes, it does create a little bulk  but if you're using paper for your foundation thicker than tissue (I use plain copier paper because that's what I have at my disposal right now) then it can be a little difficult to pull off once your done. That reinforcement at the internal ends of your seams does help strengthen those seams.