Monday, October 15, 2018

black licorice-a completed quilt top

I finished my black licorice quilt top! I worked on it quite a bit over the weekend and I was delighted to discover this morning that I only had 2 seams left to complete it. What a way to start a Monday!
Each piece finishes at 1 1/2" x 2". There are 42 blocks in each row and 37 rows, for a total of 1,554 pieces!!!! It's a good thing I did the math AFTER the quilt top was complete rather than before, otherwise that might have been a little daunting. Ha!
I think it's tricky to find that fine line of being out of your comfort zone, but still liking the results. I feel like I was able to accomplish that with this quilt and I'm so thankful!

This quilt is part of my "Salute to Solids" series. I have plans to give it to my daughter when it's complete. She's pretty excited about it!

Happy Monday to you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

etc.-a new work in progress

I've been resisting starting a new project for the past several weeks. After a lovely trip down to Iowa for teaching last weekend (and 500 miles of time to think), I cracked. I HAD to start something new or I was afraid I would explode. SO many ideas. SO little time. I know, it's a great problem to have. I wouldn't have it any other way.
The funny part is, when I went downstairs to sew, I thought I was going to start a specific project that I had sketched out on graph paper. I had worked out the math and everything. This isn't that project! I guess this one needed to come out first. I'm not sad about it! I'm having a lot of fun with this idea already and it will be perfect for my Salute to Solids series, too. (You can read more about that here.)
I'm calling this one "etc." All the solids are from the scrap bins so far. The strips measure about 1" finished and the blocks are about 6" unfinished. I'm excited to see where this goes. It's always an adventure!

Friday, October 05, 2018

two pairs of socks!

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This is my 25th pair of hand knit socks that I've made to date. They had a lot of issues (like me, hahaha!), so they went into time out for about a week. After that time, I was able to frog back and fix the mistakes that I had made. (This was my first time doing partial frogging successfully, which was a big deal!) I'm so pleased that they are finished, and more importantly, finished well. I LOVE THEM!! They are warm and happy...perfect for these dreary fall days! The yarn is Malabrigo sock yarn. The color is 857 light of love. (I wonder who gets to name these things!)
I finished this pair of socks (my 24th pair) back in August. The yarn is Felici by Knit Picks, which was gifted to me by my sweet friend Suzanne. (I tried to find a link to the yarn, but I think it's either out of stock or discontinued.) I'm pleased as punch with this pair as well! I used my basic sock pattern (available here) for both of the pairs shown.
This pretty much sums up how I feel about hand knit socks. :)

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the MONTH....if you have multiple finishes to share, please feel free to link up more than one! Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! I know that some of you miss having a weekly link up, but I have to say, that doing it once a month has been so helpful for my sanity. (I don't have that much to spare. hahaha!) Anyway, I hope you have a FABULOUS weekend!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

a helpful remedy

I don't often wash my quilts right after they are finished, but as I mentioned last week, I washed and dried my broken dishes quilt to get that lovely crinkle. I got the crinkle I was after, but I also discovered that the turquoise dye in one of the quilt blocks bled quite a lot. Ugh. There is a lot of red in the quilt, so I thought that it would be one of the red fabrics that would give me trouble. Nope. I discovered the issue AFTER I had dried the quilt in the drier. Blergh.
I shared a photo with my friend Mary, and she recommended using this method to try to remove the excess dye. I was doubtful that it would help, but I thought I might as well give it a try. At this point, what did I have to lose?
I followed Vicki's instructions, using "All Free and Clear" detergent. I'm very pleased to share that a LOT of the excess dye came out. Woohoo! Thanks so much to Vicki for sharing her methods and Mary for pointing me in the right direction!

I do want to add, that in the first washing I used cold water, 2 color catchers, a cup of vinegar AND I threw in a bath towel to absorb any excess dyes, should there be any bleeding. I also removed the quilt from the washer immediately after the washing, so I thought I was pretty well covered. (That's all my tricks and it still bled!)

I thought I would pass along this information, just in case you are in the same position someday. I hope you find it helpful, too!

Monday, October 01, 2018

mark twain block update

I've been chugging along on my EPP (English Paper Pieced) Mark Twain blocks. As you may recall, I started this project at the beginning of the year. Here it is, October, (already!) and I'm pleased to report that I've been able to keep up with my goal of making 5 blocks per month. It turns out that is a perfect pace for me, consistently. I have found that having the personal goal keeps me on track, which is a very good thing. You and I both know that there are PLENTY of distractions when it comes to new quilting projects and such. (Isn't that the understatement of the year????)
I took some time today to lay out the blocks and see how the colors are playing together. So far, I'm very pleased!!! Looking at this photo, I see that I need to add a lot more green. The background joining pieces will be red-orange, just like the centers of each block, although I really like how they look on the cream background in this photo. My goal is to make 110 blocks, so if my math is correct, I'm nearly 41% done. Not too bad!

The antique quilt that inspired this project can be seen here.

Happy Monday to you!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

broken dishes-a completed quilt

I've finished my broken dishes quilt! I started this at retreat in July, and here it is, end of September, complete. That feels great! All fabrics came from my stash, which feels even better!
This quilt is based on my Myrtle's Broken Dishes pattern, but this time I made 20 blocks rather than 12 and I skipped the borders. SO many half-square triangles in this quilt, but aren't they striking with the light background?

The background print is called "bedsheets" in the color butter, from my Emma & Myrtle fabric line for Connecting Threads. I did an all over "cinnamon roll" quilting pattern freehand on the baby lock Tiara that I currently have on loan. The quilting took a considerable amount of time (and concentration!), but I think it was worth it. After I got done quilting it, I thought, "I'm finally in the groove. I wish I had another quilt to quilt right away!" How crazy is that?
For the backing I used the red apron print, also from my Emma & Myrtle collection. I have to admit, it's pretty fun to back a quilt with fabric that you've designed! The red gingham binding is SUCH a happy finishing touch, isn't it? Initially I was worried that it would feel too light or too cutesy compared to the rest of the quilt, but man, I love it sooooo much!

The fabrics used for the quilt were bundles from Westwood Acres "I Want Her Stash Club" from a few years ago. They were curated by my friend Amy Smart and Denyse Schmidt. It was great to combine the two AND it was also a fun exercise to work with bundles selected by someone else. I would recommend it! :)

The quilt measures about 72" x 90", so a generous twin size. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  It actually has a lovely fall feel to it, doesn't it? Now I'm excited to wash it up so it gets that fantastic crinkle. I think I'll sleep under this one tonight!

This is my 11th quilt finish for the year!

Monday, September 24, 2018

black licorice-a work in progress

I've been working on this quilt off and on for quite awhile now. I considered giving it up for adoption a few times, but I decided to see it through to completion. It's tricky to push yourself out of your comfort zone but still like the project you are working on, but I think I've finally gotten to that point with this quilt. Hurray! My daughter LOVES this quilt, so she will be the recipient. I'm pretty sure that she loves color even more than I do, which is hard to imagine. :)
I'm using a variety of solids, all from the scrap bin. Each block is cut at 2" x 2 1/2" and finishes at 1 1/2" x 2". No strip piecing here, since it's all scraps. The black fabric is a combination of leftover Moda bella jelly roll strips and black Kona cotton. The pieces are a lot smaller than I bargained for, but even still, I'm aiming for a 60" x 72" quilt. I'm finally half way there, which is pretty exciting!
This quilt is a part of my salute to solids personal challenge that I started last year at this time. (You can read more about it here.)
Happy Monday to you!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

workshop totes

My friend Jeni hosted a workshop sew along a few weeks ago and I waited until the very last day (in my usual fashion!) to join in. The workshop tote pattern (available here) is straightforward and fun to sew, with a few different options. You can use one fabric, as I did here. You can also use patchwork squares or half-square triangles. (Directions are included in the pattern for all three.) I LOVED making this tote. I gave it to my sister for her birthday a few weeks ago. She plans to use it for her trips to the library with her boys. Hurray for useful gifts!
I have a few workshop totes that I love and use, too. This one was made by my friend Cindy. She used this fun focus fabric for the exterior. (I believe it's called sewing woes by Alexander Henry). It's so funny and perfect for this bag.
She didn't have enough of the focus fabric, so she used some solid colored charm squares to fill in the sides. Isn't that perfect? I love how it turned out and how making do can be a benefit at times.
Here is a half-square triangle version that my friend brianne made for me last summer. I love the black and white paired with the hot pink and orange lining. It's a great combination of her taste and mine. I have used this tote quite a bit and it's holding up quite nicely. It's such a fabulous size for many different uses.

One of my favorite features of this bag is the top stitching on the sides to give the totes structure. Genius! I also love how different each bag looks based on the fabric selection. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, September 17, 2018

retreat gifts, part 2

Thanks so much for sharing your ideas for "happies" in the last post. It was fun to read your comments. I've added a few new ideas to my list!
Of course pincushions are the number one on my list of things to make for retreat gifts. I have a few batches of them to share today!
In early August, I attended another annual quilt retreat with some of my quilting friends. I've been a part of that group for a few years now, so I'm finally catching on to each of their personal tastes. (It takes me awhile!) This year I made a paper pieced pineapple pincushion for each of them in colors that I thought they would like. (The pattern is in Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 1, which is available here.) Lots more assembly line sewing, but once I hunkered down, it wasn't so bad.
Each of the pincushions were heavily quilted, so I piggy backed them through my machine during the quilting process and it went pretty quick! Again, I love seeing multiple items grouped all together.  
A few weeks ago I was playing in my sewing room and I came across the scrap vortex blocks that I started on the 100 day project. I didn't do so well on the 100 day challenge, but that's ok! I turned a bunch of the blocks into pincushions in one afternoon. It was nice that the patchwork had already been made! I added a tab to each pincushion to "up" the cuteness factor.
I took these to a retreat that I taught at over the weekend and I let each student pick one of their choice. It's so fun to share things like this with other quilters and to release the pincushions out into the world as little bits of happy. It never gets old!
Here is a rundown of my pincushion method in a nutshell (no pun intended!):

Each pincushion top is a little bit of patchwork that has been quilted onto a batting scrap. The backings are quilting cotton interfaced with SF 101 for a bit of extra stability. They are filled with crushed walnut shells, which is sold in pet stores as lizard litter. I hand stitch the openings closed with invisible nylon thread, so the stitches aren't visible.

I find that this combination produces a lovely finish for a pincushion. (I think it's safe to say that I've done sufficient testing. Hahaha!)
Happy Monday to you!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

retreat gifts, part 1

Every year at my Gruber's retreat we exchange "happies". This year I made 11 (!!!) zipper pouches to share with my friends. (Included in that total: I made one to keep, plus another one for my friend/neighbor, AND I made one that was an inch too short, due to a cutting error. Hahaha! Although it wasn't funny at the time....)
I also spray painted the handles of these bow scissors, which I purchased at Harbor Freight. (I included a pair in each zip pouch.) I can't take credit for the cute scissor idea...I saw it on Instagram. (I used masking tape to cover the blades, then I used a generous layer of spray primer and a few layers of spray paint on the handles only. Once the paint is completely dry, remove the masking tape. From my experience, glossy paint works better than a matte finish. The glossy paint didn't ding up, but the matte paint did.)
The measurements are very similar to my two colored zip pouch pattern (available here). In this version I used one fabric for the outsides (obviously), but I made it slightly oversized and I quilted it. After I quilting, I trimmed the panels down to the correct size. This is a great way to use up batting scraps!  I used a layer of SF101 in addition to the batting, for added structure. I purchased the metal zippers from Zipit on Etsy.

Although assembly line sewing isn't my favorite, it was fun to see all the pouches together and it was fun to share them with my friends!

What are some of your go to gifts to give at retreat? What are some of your favorite things that you've received? (I'm always in the market for new ideas.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

lost in the crowd-a long work in progress

This morning I spent several hours cutting in an attempt to bring some order to the scrap chaos that is currently in my sewing room. My main objective was to cut 1 1/2" squares for my lost in the crowd quilt...but I ended up cutting up some other size scraps, too. There are some 2 1/2" squares, some 2" squares and some 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles. I have a goal to SAVE nothing smaller than a 1 1/2" square, but if you look at the photo above, you can see that I'm not quite there yet. Those little random bits in the top of the photo are keepers....
I did some sewing, too! I was able to add 25 new blocks to my total. It doesn't take long once the scraps are cut.
Earlier in the summer I hit the half-way mark....shown above are 600 little bitty blocks! I'm so glad that I decided to package them up into baggies of 100. It's kept the blocks orderly and makes the entire quilt seem attainable. (Hurray!) You can see the original quilt inspiration here.
It seems like every time I post about this quilt, there are questions about how I press the blocks. The beauty of this quilt is that there will be a plain 2 1/2" alternating square between each patchwork square, so the seams won't need to nest. That's one of the reasons why I took on this's not fussy. I press to the dark when sewing two squares together, then I press the middle seam open because it helps distribute the bulk nicely. It's been working out great for me.

I only have 575 more blocks to make! Hahahaha!

Friday, September 07, 2018

need more coffee-a completed quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I recently finished this quilt that I'm calling "need more coffee". It's a spin on my mini coffee cups quilt....but I made a LOT more blocks this time. 110 blocks, to be exact. I was working on these blocks at my annual Gruber's retreat this past summer and my friends urged me to offset the rows of coffee cups rather than rely on a straight block setting. It was definitely the right choice! That little change made a big difference.
I used a variety of light prints for the background, but all of the coffee cups are RED!
I used the spool print from my Emma & Myrtle collection for the backing and a sweet gingham print for the binding. (The binding might be my favorite part of this quilt!!!)
I glue basted the fabric to help line up the repeat of the print for the backing. It takes a little bit extra time to do it, but the satisfaction that I get out of it is priceless. I know, I'm such a nerd!
I quilted it on my Janome Horizon. The original quilting plan was to quilt a 1/2" grid all over, but I came to my senses and settled for a 1" grid instead. I decided that it'll do. Hahahaha!
The quilt measures about 60" x 76".
As much as I LOVE this quilt, I think I'm going to give it as a gift. I can't keep them all....sigh.

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes. Thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!