Monday, February 26, 2018

pressing issues

Wow! You guys seem to like scrappy quilts as much as I do! I'm pleased that so many of you stated that you were going to start your own version of a scrappy 4 patch quilt. That's exciting! Many thanks go to Jean Gilbertson for the wonderful inspiration!
Since I had so many questions about the pressing direction on my 4 patch blocks, I thought I would show my work. (ha!) The beauty of this quilt is that there is an alternate block that is not pieced, so pressing direction really doesn't matter. Woohoo! Right now I'm pressing to the dark fabric for step one and the center seam gets pressed to one side. Honestly, if the pressing would have been fussy, I probably wouldn't have attempted this quilt in the first place.

I also had a lot of questions about the background color. I'm not sure yet, but I do love the suggestion of the same color as my aqua desk. My one hesitation is that I have a LOT of aqua scraps, so they would fade to the background. Hmmmm. Thankfully, I have a lot of time before I need to make a final decision.
I'm happy to report that I'm making great progress, though. I have over 100 blocks done already! I decided that I'm going to bag them up in groups of 100 as I finish them. That will save me tons of time counting and re-counting. It will also help keep me motivated, I think.
Over the weekend we had lots of pretty SNOW and I had plenty of time to SEW! It was lovely! I started my last batch of log cabin blocks. When I say my last batch, I'm trying to be optimistic that I'm farther along that I really am. I have 70 blocks complete, I started the final 62. I guess any progress is good! I'm QUITE anxious to see this one as a quilt top!!!! (Block measurements can be found here. Last progress photo of the quilt can be found here.) The nice thing about working on these two projects at once is that they both use 1 1/2" pieces. Perfect!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, February 23, 2018

small projects

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I made my first pincushion of the year! It's about time, no? I had 5 of the 6 sections pieced for months and then it got set aside. Yesterday I finally pieced the final section and finished it up. I got hung up on fabric placement, (and then distracted by 100 other things!) which is why it took me so long to finish it. Seems silly now, because I love how it turned out! It's scrap project #198. (Pattern can be found in Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 2.)
This week I finished my 10th block for my Mark Twain quilt. It's pretty exciting to see the pile growing! I have a low-key goal to make 5 blocks a month, so I'm about a week ahead of schedule. (I'm rarely ahead of schedule on ANYTHING, so I'll celebrate that miniscule victory. Ha!) I have been enjoying hand stitching so much!
I decided that this project needed a brand new WIP bag. (Pattern can be found here.) This version is extra measures about 18" x 20"! I was happy to discover that it was very easy to upsize the pattern. (I have a post about sewing with vinyl and shortening zippers here, that you might find helpful.)
It's really hard to convey the size of the bag, so I took a photo of it on my 18" x 24" cutting mat for scale. It's HUGE! I look forward to filling it up with finished blocks!

If you have the Work In Progress Bag pattern and would like to make an 18" x 20" bag, here are the measurements you will need:
Use a 16" zipper.
Cut 1 piece of vinyl 2 1/2" x 18"
Cut 1 piece of vinyl 17" x 18".
Cut 1 piece of vinyl 18" x 20".
Cut 2 pieces of fabric 2" x 18" for the zipper casings
Cut 2 (or 3?) strips of fabric 2 1/4" x WOF for the binding
Zipper with tabs should measure 17 3/4".
Assemble the bag according to the pattern directions.

Alright! I think that's it for me today! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

lost in the crowd--the beginning

Last November I had the opportunity to speak to the St. Cloud Heritage Quilters. A woman named Jean Gilbertson brought this amazing quilt for show and tell that literally made my jaw the best way possible, of course!
If I recall correctly, this is at least a queen size quilt. It was truly stunning.
Each of the 4 patches finish around 2", so each individual square finishes at about an inch, I believe.
I was foolish and asked the only question that came to mind, which was: "how long did it take you to make that?" (I should know better. Hahahaha!) No surprise that her response was: "a long time". After seeing this EPIC quilt, I knew I had to make something inspired by it....someday. After a mandatory three month waiting period, I STILL want to make it, so....
...I pulled out some scraps and started sewing! I had a small bin of 1 1/2" squares that I had previously cut, so I was able to sit down and prep needed. How fantastic!!! Of course I've already blown through my supply of pre-cut squares, but that means I'm making good progress! I made it a point to not overthink the fabric selection. I know that some day in the future I will look at some of these blocks and think, "what was I thinking", and other days I will think, "hey, those aren't bad at all". I waver back and forth, depending on the day, or my mood, I suppose. (Does that happen to anyone else???)
The pieces are small, but not unmanageable. That's a good combo! (Quarter in the photo for scale.)

There are a lot of things to love about this project:

-There is only one seam in the center to match up.
-Playing with fabric combinations within each block is a delight.
-They are small, so you can get away with finger pressing the seams during the block construction. (I  do press them with an iron once a bunch of blocks are finished.)
-They are addictive. As I was sewing, I found that I kept telling myself, 'just one more'.
-They are QUICK to make.
-It's easy to check the block for accuracy with a 2 1/2" square.
Did I mention that it's FUN sewing up scraps??? I'm having a blast!
A friend asked me, "how many blocks do you need to make?" I think this is one case where it's better to NOT do the math quite yet. Why take all the fun out of it so soon? Hahaha!
I decided to name my quilt "Lost in the Crowd", for a few reasons. One, because it would be really easy to camouflage ugly scraps and get away with it. Two, if you wanted to point out a favorite fabric to someone, good luck finding it!
Rarely do I have a name for a quilt this early in the game, so that's pretty exciting! I think I'm going to go sew just a few more blocks now. :)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Abby's sunset quilt-complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

Abby's sunset quilt is complete! I LOVE the simplicity of this quilt. It's made of just plain squares and just solid fabrics, but it's anything but boring. Hurray!
This is a variation of my Hot and Cold quilt. (The original pattern can be found in my book No Scrap Left Behind.) I loved playing with the contrast of warm and cool colors again, but this time I wanted to let the colors mingle a bit more than the original, yet still be separate. (I talked about the construction of the quilt top in this post, if you care to read more about it.) I can only guess how many different colors are represented in this quilt top. (It's a LOT!) As with any scrap quilt, the more the better!
For the backing I used some of my good neighbor's yardage in this lovely lime green. I love how it looks like a field of flowers. A row of patchwork squares breaks up the repeat, so no fancy piecing is needed to match up the print exactly. (I did think about trying, but then I came to my senses. Phew!)
I quilted it on my Janome Horizon with a walking foot. Normally when I machine quilt, I use the same colored thread in the top and the bobbin. Why invite unnecessary trouble? Well, this time I decided to use two different colors of thread: green in the bobbin and silvery gray in the top. It's not perfect, but it's not an eye sore, either. In the end, I'm glad that I made that choice. The straight line quilting,'s. not. easy. In fact, when I started quilting this on Saturday, I got soooooooo spun up and frustrated at how poorly I was quilting it. Thankfully I had enough good sense to walk away and take a break. (I normally don't!) The next day I assessed the situation again. When I showed my husband where I was going to pick out some stitches, he scolded me....and he even used my middle name!!! I guess I was being a little bit unreasonable. (what??!?!) Let me tell you, I have a perfectionist streak that runs DEEP and I got to stare it right in the face. (It wasn't pretty....sigh.) Anyway, I carried on and finished the quilting. It's definitely not perfect. I did go back and pick out some slightly crooked lines...and then I tried to let go of the rest. Again, not. easy. I know that some people say that if you can't see it from a galloping horse 10 feet away, then it's good enough. (That one always drives me crazy!) I certainly don't agree. Somewhere in the middle there has to be a happy medium, right?
I used two different colors of Kona cotton for the binding: cerise and dark violet. I used cerise for the top section, in the warm area, and the dark violet in the cool area. I was pleased that I could come up with a decent solution from the stash. I did all the hand binding in a marathon session...less than 4 hours. (I love to savor the binding process, but yesterday it was a race against the clock, and the sunset!)

When my daughter and I were taking photos it was CRAZY windy. Here are some of the outtakes...just for fun.

I LOVE how the front and the back look together!!!
At the end of the photoshoot, my daughter was holding the quilt and I thought it would be fun to add a quick snapshot of her, since the quilt IS named after her and all. I love this photo so much! She posed like that all on her own. :) I also love the fish house in the background and the little bit of sunset, too. It sure sums up a Minnesota winter!
The quilt measures 62" x 74" and it's scrap project #197. This is also my first completed quilt for my "salute to solids" challenge. (You can read more about that here.) It feels good to have one done!
Here's a few sunsets from the past few months, taken right outside my patio door. Of course a camera doesn't capture half of the awesomeness of the sunsets....but you have to try, right?

Alright! Now it's your turn! Please link up your finished projects for the week. Thank you, as always for reading, commenting and joining me for finish it up Friday! I sure appreciate it! Have a great and safe weekend. xo

Friday, February 09, 2018

a very purple quilt-completed

Welcome to finish it up Friday! I'm thrilled that the very purple quilt is complete!
As you may have read, I started this quilt on Monday. I put the last stitches in the binding, added a hand-written label and washed & dried it on Thursday afternoon. I plan to pop in into the mail later today! Time was of the essence, as this is a comfort quilt for a friend's sister, who is currently undergoing cancer treatments. A lot of stitches and prayers went into this quilt.

Once again, I'm amazed at what a little (or a lot) of focus can do! Don't worry....I still fed my family, did laundry, walked my dogs, tended a sick child and kept things going around the house. Oh, and I slept, too. :)
All of the fabric (except the backing) came from my stash. That felt amazing and I was happy to actually USE it, you know?
The backing is a chambray/cross weave fabric by Andover. I found it on clearance at my local quilt shop. (Hurray!) It's super soft and very calm compared to the front. Hahaha! In order to keep the back interesting, I added a strip of patchwork. I'm so glad I did! It was nice to use up some scraps on the back. If I were to use this quilt, I would use the back side up! It's certainly not the first time I've liked the back of the quilt better than the front.
For the binding I used a purple colored fabric that reminds me of grape jelly, but it is actually a Kona called Hibiscus. :) I like the way it frames the quilt.
A few weeks ago, I purchased some labels from the Dutch Label Company. I can't tell you how official I feel now! I really like them. I put off ordering labels for YEARS because I didn't want to make a decision. Now I'm wondering why on earth I waited so long. Silly, but true!

I sewed the label to the back (strategically placed) and then I quilted it. I figured that it would be better to have a little bit of quilting over the label, rather than to have the label sewn through all the layers of the quilt and have an awkward rectangle of straight stitching showing on the front. (I hope that makes's hard to explain.) I also added a hand written label with the recipient's name, my name, the date and a get well sentiment on it. Label overkill? I hope not!
I free motion quilted it on my Juki with a simple stipple using a light lavender thread. (50 weight Aurifil color 2560)

I didn't keep an exact tally of the hours that I worked on this quilt, but I estimated it was around 18 hours. (That doesn't include the time it took for shopping for the backing.) I think that's pretty reasonable, especially since that time includes hand binding.
It measures approximately 63" x 72".

While I'm still not a huge fan of the color purple, I enjoyed making this quilt and I think that it came together pretty well. I'm praying it brings a lot of warmth, comfort and love.

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. xo

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

a very purple quilt top

Last week I had the random thought, "I can see making a purple quilt someday." I don't know about you, but that thought sure surprised me! I have never had a thought like that before! I'm not a fan of's definitely one of the hardest colors for me to work with. About 2-3 days later I got a phone call from a friend, who's sister is battling cancer. My friend asked me if I would I be willing to make a purple comfort quilt for her sister to use during the chemo treatments. (Coincidence? I think NOT!)
So, I pulled a bunch of purple (and violet) from my stash....
...and I pulled some purple scraps to round things out and got to work! There is no time to waste.
Here's my block layout....
...and the completed quilt top. The blocks are 9" finished. The quilt top measures 63" x 72" or so. I started cutting the fabric about 10:30am and I had the top pieced around 6pm. I purposely kept the pattern simple and the pieces fairly large so I can get it completed and to the recipient as soon as possible. I'm pleased with how it's coming along.

It's been awhile since I have had this much time to sew and I have to say, it's fun to make an entire quilt top in a day! (Even if it is purple. Hahaha!) Honestly, I'm just happy that I can help in some small way, you know?

Friday, February 02, 2018

finish it up Friday, 2-2-18

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This week I finished my business taxes, which is probably the happiest finish of the whole entire year!!!! (Can I hear a "you betcha"?) That means that I've had very little time for sewing, which really stinks, but it's got to get better soon. (That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.) I worked on my log cabin blocks for a little bit last Saturday and I have 70/132 blocks complete, which feels AMAZING! I'm going to try to push through and get them all made instead of putting this project back in hibernation. We shall see...  (Measurements for the log cabin blocks can be found here.)
Yesterday morning I finished up this cheery dishtowel (tutorial here) in a few minutes. I had the patchwork strip mostly finished....I just had to add one more block to the strip and then assemble it. (More "cleaning up the slow way"!) Making one dishtowel at a time sure beats making 14 at a time, like I did here. For this version, I used 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles and then I pressed the patchwork down 1/2", so the patchwork is smaller (and cuter). You can use any size pieces you'd like, which is part of the fun! This is scrap project #196.

That's it for me this week! Please link up your finishes. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!