Fast and Furious

Michael, my husband, has been out of the country for the past two weeks and I have used that time to get my life organized….particularly the quilting/blogging/business portion!!! I am enjoying blogging a lot more and trying to turn it into more of a business, but it takes time….lots and lots of time!!!

The other night, I was TIRED of sitting at my computer, WRITING AND THINKING about quilting and decided that it was time to do some sewing.

I turned to a kit that my guild’s charity group had provided and was pleased to open it up and see the fabrics already cut and ready to go…..

The kit even had detailed instructions about how to complete the top…..

The first step was to sew 12 W-O-F strips to 12 other W-O-F strips!! I put on my 1/4 inch foot that provides a ledge to butt up against……

…set the speed to “SUPER RABBIT”……

….and off I flew!!

After doing a bit of ironing, sewing, sub-cutting, sewing, and even more ironing, I was pleased to have this wonderful quilt top ready to go…….

I spent 2 hours from go to whoa on it and, not only did it make something that can be given away to help those in need, it gave me the welcome relief of getting to touch fabric and actually create something!!

Many thanks to our guild charity group as they do much of the “dirty” work so that I can have fun with the fabric part!!!

What do you work on when you JUST WANNA SEW?

I’m being mysterious again!!

On the first of each month, we are given the next clue in our “Morewood Mystery” quilt presented by Meadow Mist Designs.

This month was fairly easy…..just making some four patches and another patch that will become part of an Irish Chain design.

The instructions called for using a “WOF” (width of fabric) for each set of patches, but since I was going with a scrappy approach, I decided to use lots of smaller strips…..

After they were all sewn together, it was time to Sub-cut them into 30 units. I did a video of this process giving a hint about an easier way!!

After the 4 patches were done…..

… was time to make the other units. It would have been good if I had realized that these two units are NOT the same……

Twenty-three of the ones on the left had to be un-sewn and re-done in the correct orientation!!!

But at the end of the day, step three was completed…..

Now I just have to wait a month to keep going!!!

This may get addictive!!!

I have been working on the quilting for the Brown Stripe Quilt…..

I finally decided to do a linear design in the stripes and a circular wreath design in the white blocks. Since the rulers that I ordered haven’t arrived yet, I started on the stripes……

After finishing 15 of the FORTY EIGHT stripe blocks, I decided that I needed a break.

Last week (while on the treadmill), I watched a woman piece crumb blocks. Now I have NEVER had any interest in making blocks out of my little bits and pieces, but she caught my interest. So, once I had grown tired of quilting, I pulled out all of pieces that were “too small to use but too big to throw away”…..

….and started piecing them into squares, using a base fabric for a guide…..

Come to find out, this is kind of fun and relaxing!!!!

Now I have made three……

…although I have no idea where they will go from here….maybe into a charity quilt.

It was certainly sweet to take the time to just do something mindless, but I can certainly see this turning into another BIG addiction!!!

A little scrap piecing

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I want my next big project will be. I heard someone describe this as having a project that takes up a large portion of your mind, as opposed to something that you can basically do in your sleep.

So, while I was waiting and thinking, I knew that it was important to keep my hands busy with some type of fiber work. I looked thru lots of scrap quilt ideas and found Bonnie Hunter’s “Carolina Chain”…..

I liked the sparkle in the quilt and decided to give it a try. I pulled out all of my 2 inch strips and started cutting blocks.

As I put them up on the design wall, I just wasn’t impressed!!!

It didn’t have her sparkle and, frankly, I didn’t have the fabrics that I would need to make it have that special feeling.

SO…..instead of turning it into a Queen size quilt, I decided to make it a smaller Charity quilt.

I did like it better after I added the deep blue setting triangles…..

It needed that dark edge to pull the design back into the center.

But, I think that the addition of the final border made a huge difference…..

I like it much better now, but not enough to keep on making them!!!

If you want to give it a try, it is a simple pattern that you can access on the C&T website

But, there is an upside…..I THINK that I have figured out what my next “full brain” project will be!!!

Stay Tuned……..

Throwback Thursday…..

Since it is July, let’s throwback to a patriotic quilt that I made in 1995.

For MANY years, I have had a pie safe (built to specifications by a good friend) that has held all of my smaller quilts. I use the top of it to display a vignette for the current month and the “quilt of the month” hangs above that.

These quilts are all about 36 inches wide with most being in a square format.

I started looking for patterns for my “God Bless America” quilt and finally found one in a book that my Mother owned. For the life of me, I can’t find it now but I remember that it was a hardback book that had lots of quilts and patterns in it.

The problem with this pattern was that the quilt would finish at 80 inches square…..way TOO big for my pie safe!!!

So, I cavalierly said “I will just cut the pattern in half”!!!! Little did I know that would involve pieces cut to 3/8’s, 5/8’s and 7/8’s inches, and we all know how much of a pain that can be.

But, I persevered and this quilt was born……

Now don’t look too closely because there are TONS of mistakes!!!

The one memory that I have of making this quilt is that I was having problems with the pedal on my old singer machine, and that at unexpected times, it would just take off and fly. I either had to stomp the pedal really hard or turn it off to get it to stop!!!

Fortunately, back then I was quilting with Monofilament thread so you cannot see the places where it took off and my TINY stitches are stacked on top of one another.

I look forward to July each year so that I can pull this old friend out.

This is my vignette……

….which features pictures of my sweet Dad and some of his WWII papers…… sweet memories all the way around!!!

Brown Strip Quilt gets a back….

As I started cleaning up my leftovers from the Brown Strip quilt, I realized that I had TONS and TONS and TONS of strips that I had cut and never used…..

I knew that they would just languish in the scrap drawer so I took things into my own hands and started piecing them together to make FOUR strips that would fit end-to-end on the back. I added some other solid strips and ended up with this as a back…..

I was running out of the main fabric and was getting desperate as I finished the last outside strip. I ended up piecing FOUR 2.5 inch strips together to make it long enough…..

Count them….FOUR seams!!!

Now….what can I start next to avoid having to think about quilting this!!!!

It’s Brown Border time…..

In my last post, I took you thru the creating of the inside of my Brown Scrap Strip quilt. As I mentioned there, I made WAY too many brown strip sets and was determined to not let any of them go to waste…..

So, it was imperative that the border contain as many of those strips as I could cram in. I started with laying them out end to end but that was just BORING!!!

Next I thought about the block design….

….noticing that the brown came to a point in each of the blocks.

HMMMM…wonder if I could emulate that in the border??? I made a few test blocks and decided that I had hit on the answer…..

I also made the decision to put a 2 inch background strip as the first border so that the striped border would float.

The only problem with this design was figuring out how long each of the strip sets needed to be to reach the edge of the quilt. TOO MUCH MATH…. So, I did the next best thing and decided to make them different sizes so I could “fudge” it to fit.

I would love to say that the process of making these border blocks was well thought out, the fabric sizes were properly calculated and cut. But, the truth of the matter is that I cut big, sewed and trimmed to size!!

I used the Essential Triangle Tool to cut the initial points and used my trusty painters tape to mark the edges of the strip so that the points were always in the middle of the strip…..

I love this measurement on one of my smaller rulers. It made trimming the point super easy.

To finish the top, I added another strip of background fabric to finish the “float”.

And at last the final seam was sewn…..

…and I was able to hang the finished top on the wall and step back to admire it…..

Of course the next question is how to quilt it….. but that decision can wait for a while….

The Brown Strip story

In the last few posts you have seen bits and pieces of the brown strip-pieced scrap quilt that I have been working on. Now it is time for…….(in your best Paul Harvey voice)……THE REST OF THE STORY!!

Back in September of 2018 I had rotator-cuff surgery on my right shoulder. I knew that I would probably have some time to sew but would be limited in what I could do so I wanted to work on a project that could be cut out and ready to go. I saw this design…..

“Scrap Lattice” by Heather Kojan

….in the September 2018 issue of Modern Patchwork. Sadly this magazine went out of business just after I joined!!!

I was pretty sure that I would be able to push fabrics thru the sewing machine and would be able to iron with my small travel iron…..

So….I spent the week prior to surgery pulling out brown scraps and cutting them into 4.5 inch pieces.

After the surgery I was indeed able to do the piecing even though I had to make sure that my arm didn’t move too far out of the sling…..

But, when I put it up on the design wall…..

….it looked too dark and foreboding!!! It definitely needed something to lighten the color AND the mood.

At this point, I wasn’t able to use my arm to cut fabrics, so I had to put the project away.

Later, I went back to it and cut tons and tons of additional fabrics, adding MANY new colors…..

And then it was put away….to become a dreaded UFO for about 18 months!!!

I had planned to work on it at our May Guild Retreat which, of course, was cancelled!! 😞

But this summer has proven to be the perfect time to get back to it. It was something that I could sew on happily without having to do much planning or thinking about it. It was one of those projects that didn’t take up too much of my brain!!!

For some reason, in the original planning I had decided that I needed 80 blocks and that the quilt would be 8 x 10. Bu that would have been much larger than the Lap quilt that I was going for. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until AFTER I had made over 75 of the blocks!!!

With all of the brown strips made, it was time to think about the corners. In the original pattern the author had use crumb piecing to create the corner triangles. I was NOT interested in that!!!

I made one block using just one background fabric…..

….but it looked pretty plain. So, I was going to have to find something else to bring some sparkle to the blocks.

I decided to create strip sets and cut the triangles out so that there is modified courthouse step look to it.

I would love to say that my process was super accurate but the truth is that I cut everything bigger and just cut the block down to size at the end. I used my 12.5 inch ruler to cut the corners, marking the line with painter’s tape…..

The brown strip sets were cut down to 4.25 inches in width and a triangle was sewn to each side. After a few calculations, I marked my square ruler to show where it should like up against the stripe (the 2nd blue tape)…..

After making this first cut, I used the rule to square up the block to 8.5 inches.

As I started laying these out, I was super excited to see the sparkle that was appearing in the triangle areas….

All of the squares were sewn together…..

….and this quilt was off to a good start.

But what about borders…… more to come!!

Why is this happening…..

As I was happily sewing along on my brown stripe quilt, I started noticing that some of the stitching tension wasn’t great……

I worked thru the list of all of the usual suspects….

  • re-threaded the top
  • re-threaded the bobbin
  • adjusted the tension dial
  • cleaned out the bobbin area
  • put a few extra drops of oil in the proper areas

But it did not improve!!

I finally decided that it had to be the needle. For the last two years I have been using Superior brand Titanium coated needles…..

Because of their durability, I do not change the needle nearly as often as I used to. Here is what Superior has to say about them……

“With Superior’s Titanium-coated needles, you will hear a different sound when sewing (a soft, constant thud, thud, thud) when the needle is getting dull. This is because the thin layer of titanium-nitride coating is wearing off. Every time the needle penetrates fabric, there is a microscopic amount of wear on a needle, no matter what it is coated with (nickel, chrome, or titanium).

There are many other cues of a dulling or dull needle that are more recognizable, such as skipped stitches, the top thread shredding, and/or puckering while stitching. If your thread starts to behave strangely and you are experiencing these types of problems whereas you weren’t before, chances are that your needle should be replaced.

So, I replaced the needle and….magically…..the tension issues went away!!!

AH…..much better…..

Now…back to sewing!!!