It’s scrap clean-up time!!

When I moved into my “new and improved” studio last March, I searched thru all of the boxes and bins and pulled out ALL of my scraps, dumping them into a large basket. As the year progressed, I continued adding bits and pieces from the projects that I worked on. At the start of December, the bin was overflowing…..

I started to work thru it a number of times but just couldn’t get motivated because I knew that it would take a LONG time to do!! Finally, I pulled out the fabrics and sorted them by color…..sort of……

The next step was to iron each color and group into three stacks….the bits, the chunks and the hunks!!

Bits are the pieces that can only be cut into small squares….1.5, 2.0, 2.5 or 3.5 inch.

Chunks are pieces that can be larger squares……5+ inch.

Hunks are longer pieces that can be cut into strips…. 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 and 3.5 inch.

Once I had everything ironed, I started cutting the two smaller groups….orange and yellow/gold…..

It was a good start, but then the holiday s came and I didn’t get back to this particular project!!! The ironed fabrics were carefully laid back into the basket…..

If nothing else, it looked a lot better!!

Last week I decided that I wanted to start the new year with this basket completely cleaned out so I made this task a priority and, although I didn’t quite make it by the 1st, I did get it finished on the 2nd!!!…..

Doesn’t that look great……

As I was cutting, I started wondering exactly WHY I was doing this but remembered someone saying that you pay the same for the scraps as you do for the yardage. That spurred me on!! But also the thought of having all of this cut and ready to use just makes me happy!!

The question now is whether I can set a schedule and clean it out every few months rather than waiting 2+ years!!! As with all things…..time will tell!!!

Throwback Thursday (a little late)…..

….well Friday actually…. I posted the wrong one yesterday!!!!

My Mother, Lois Swinson was an amazing quilter. She did mostly handwork and spent many of her nights with some form of needlework in her lap. She had the bad habit of putting her pins and needles in the arm rest of the couch that she sat on!! I think about this often when I reach over to put a pin in my pincushion!!

When I was in High School (in the 1970’s), Mom decided that I needed 5 quilts for my “Hope Chest”. This Double Wedding Ring Quilt was one of those….

Double Wedding Ring Quilt

She spent MONTHS on this quilt and many times swore that she would never make another one!! She kept the quilting fairly simple…..

….and agonized over the scalloped binding…..

Mom was never a purist when it came to fabric content so there quite a bit of polyester floating around in it. But if you are old enough to remember, you know that polyester was what was readily available and Mom, who grew up during The Depression, would NEVER waste fabric.

It is one of my favorite quilts. I love the sparkle in the design and especially love seeing the fabrics that were old friends!!!

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……..

Sleeping under the pineapple!!

Now that I have decorated for Christmas, I am finally being able to enjoy sleeping under my scrap pineapple quilt.

Many of you remember the LONG saga of making this quilt and then, after it was finished, I wasn’t super happy with it.

However, now that I added new pillow shams and 3 pillow covers, I am much happier with how it looks…..

And it is SOOOO warm!!!!

And…voila it’s Autumn….

…..at least INSIDE our house….the temperature outside is still well entrenched in the 90’s!!! And when I say voila….I really mean 7 hours of hard labor on this Labor Day Monday!!!

I have posted before (and this post talks about hanging my quilts) about my enjoyment of changing our decorating every season and Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. Even if I don’t start out super excited about “decorating day”, pulling out all of the artwork helps to get me in the mood……

I particularly enjoy the items that we have brought from various countries, including these fun items from Columbia…..

One of the favorite parts of decorating is hanging the “quilt of the month”…..

….and this one holds special significance for me!!!

I was born and raised in West Texas where “Autumn” lasts for about 3 days….ie the leaves go from green to brown with no intervening colors. Then we lived in Canberra Australia which had mostly Eucalyptus trees which were evergreens. Then came a short stint in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which had a proliferation of Pine trees….ie a storm of pine straw but no leaves.

Then we moved to Athens, Georgia where there is a good mixture of Pines and deciduous trees. A couple of years into our stay, I made an important decision to start eating better, lose weight and get active. The activity that I chose was walking and boy did I walk!!!

I started this new regime in September and as I walked, I was enamored with the leaves as they floated and spun to the ground around me. This idea for this quilt was hatched during one of those walks and I couldn’t wait to get started on it!!

As the idea grew, I decided to start in one corner with green leaves and a summer blue sky and have both the leaves and the sky change colors as they transitioned to dead leaves and a thin winter sky. I enjoyed working thru my scraps to come up with the needed fabrics and several quilting friends donated from their stash as well.

To finish the piece, I couldn’t get away from Geese flying South for winter. The geese thin as they go around the quilt and there are even some hidden ones quilted into the left hand border…..

I tried to mimic the swirling wind in the quilting…..

I love this quilt for so many reasons….. it was one of the first quilts that I designed myself and also it was the first quilt in my monthly quilt series!!

When I see it, I am reminded to look forward to cooler temperatures and the upcoming joys of Autumn!

Finishing the quilt from “you know where”!!

If you have been reading this blog for the last little bit, you have heard the saga of the Christmas pineapple quilt. To make a long story short…..

  • I kept changing my mind about how to make it
  • It doesn’t have a “hook” and I think that it is pretty boring
  • I used my new Wool Pressing mat and ended up being allergic to it. Consequently, I was also allergic to the quilt top!!

Continuing on, I sent it to a friend to quilt and she had problems with it too. First of all, she had tension issues and had to take out a lot of quilting. THEN, she wasn’t happy with the backtracking on the pantograph and wanted to re-do the ENTIRE thing. I said ABSOLUTELY not!! It was at this point that Michael gave it the name of the Quilt from “you know where”!!

So, the goal for today was to get it trimmed and get the binding put on, and I DID IT!!

I started out by making yards and yards of binding, using lots of strips of Christmas fabrics……

Once the binding was made and ready to attach…..

….it was time to square up the top. I had planned to use the laser square but realized that there wasn’t any border on the edge so basically I just “squared” it up based on the edge of the piecing. It may not be exactly square, but it will be finished!!!

As I was sewing all of these bits and pieces together to make the binding, I kept thinking of all of the joins that I would have to miss at the corners. And, sure enough, it was the very first corner that I came to…..

ARGH!!!! I cut some of the strip off and reattached the rest of the binding and off I went again!!

In case you haven’t figured this out, I was really ready to get the quilt finished and was putting the pedal down when I was sewing the long stretches, and then…..

Of course I ran out of bobbin thread…..about half of a side back!!! Will I NEVER finish this quilt!!!

As I finished sewing the first pass on the binding, I realized that I don’t know what color of thread to use when I sew the binding on the top. I normally try to use something that matches so that the stitching doesn’t show but, since I had used lots of different fabrics, that wasn’t possible. Finally, I noticed that the quilting had been done with a creamy gold thread so I used that for the binding. It worked well and, before I knew it, I had finished the quilt.

It immediately went into the washing machine to get rid of all of the things that I was allergic to and then off to be displayed on the bed…..

It will be a great addition to our Christmas decorations and, most importantly, I can put it in the FINISHED column!!!

Lessons learned

As I was posting the last blog about this quilt-in-progress, I realized that the background for the “squiggle” HAD to be black. Now maybe I will change my mind when I get over to the cooler colors but it sure looks good here…..

Then I got to playing on Electric Quilt (which I am NOT very good at) and came up with the idea of using gradations of black to white in the design as well. I am thinking something like this…..

….where the squiggle is on the black and the other designs (whatever they end up being) are on the gradations. As I lay awake thinking about it, I started to come up with other ways that the gradation could be achieved. Maybe with smaller strips of color, showing many more strata in the gradation or maybe with improvisational piecing where the colors slowly meld and move to the center or out to the edge. Who knows!!!

As I am working on my color extravaganza, I am definitely learning a lot about myself and my stash!! First of all, I LOVE MAGENTA colors and have WAY too many fabrics in that range.

Secondly, I have a different view of the names of some of these colors…..

For example, the “Purple” in the color wheel is what I would consider to be a pink and, in fact, most of those fabrics were in one of my “Pink” boxes, and the “Red-Violet” colors are what I would call Purple. I have also found “Violet” fabrics in the Blue boxes and Blue fabrics in the Purple boxes and “Pink fabrics in the Red box. I guess that it proves how much difference the surrounding fabric makes to how we “read” each color!!

Piecing for the weekend provided another 1/4 of the Color wheel finished and almost another season of “The Great British Baking Show” watched!! I did realize that I hadn’t proportioned the colors properly on this second side so I have ended up with a few more inches of “Red-Violet that I had originally planned. Hopefully it will not be too noticeable in the long run.

As I have moved from color to color, I have been pulling fabrics out of scrap drawers and fabric bins and I hadn’t really realized just how much of a mess I had created. But then this happened…..

…and I needed to get the painters tape to fix it, but where was the tape……

Fortunately it was found underneath a stack of fabrics but this has encouraged me to do a bit of cleaning up before I tackle the Blues and Greens of the color wheel.

Also, I had been using a “spacer” after every strip was sewn onto the foundation…..

This was fine and was certainly fast, but the more I sewed, the more it started to bug me. So, in good old “Bonnie Hunter” fashion, I pulled out my 1-1/2 inch squares and started sewing a light and dark square together with each pass……

YES, it takes more time and NO, I don’t have any idea what I will do with them, but it sure makes me feel good to see this little pile growing…..

I am thinking that, at some point, I will start sewing them into four-patches. Surely I will need a 4-inch four patch at sometime in my future!!!

Here is the finished product for the weekend……

The only problem is that as I finish out the on-point square, it sure makes the inside square look BIG. WHAT am I going to put there…..only time will tell!!!!! But in the meantime, I am going to keep coloring along!!

Crayon Box Quilting

One of my goals for this year is to put together some new talks that could be presented to guilds. When I was in the Quilt Judging class we spent quite a bit of time talking about colors and using a color wheel. This got me to thinking about using the color wheel as a jumping off point for a new presentation.

Several years ago we had purchased a book by Victoria Finlay called “Color….a Natural History of the Palette”…..

In it, she talks about the various colors, giving histories of how and where they were developed. It has been interesting to learn more in depth information, although some of it is a bit weird and sad!! For example, “Lead White”, was made by applying vinegar or another acid onto lead panels.   The corrosive action would leave a white deposit of lead carbonate.  This deposit was powdered and left to dry in the sun.  Unfortunately, Lead white was poisonous if swallowed and many early artists were affected.   It was even used in women’s makeup for many years and many died from lead poisoning.

But enough about White….this blog is about color!!

I started looking for a good color wheel to purchase and landed on “C&T PUBLISHING Notions Essential Color Wheel Companion”……

It is 12 inches in diameter which is a great size to work with!! On the outside, the colors are divided into 24 segments while the inner radii show the various tints and shades of those main colors.

Now…moving onto the quilt part of this blog…..

A few weeks ago I was reading a copy of McCalls Quilting Magazine and this quilt caught my eye……

I really liked the idea of making something that could use up a bunch of the scraps that I have been saving and also liked having some open spaces to add quilting texture to. As I thought further, I decided to make a color wheel quilt, forcing me to learn more about color by actually using it!!!

I made some changes to the pattern shown here, including making it much larger and also using bias binding to finish the edges of the strips.

I then delved into my “string” bin and began sorting the appropriate sized strings into color groups…..

…..that looks like a good start!!

Then I took the color wheel and began splitting the colors into sections, starting with the first 6 colors….Yellow thru Orange Red…..

The generous size of the color wheel became important when I started pulling fabrics from my fabric boxes. It was easy to slide the wheel down the folds of fabrics and look for ones that matched best…….

Before I started piecing each section, I lined strips of the color up on the design wall to see if it looked okay……

I quickly learned that I should NOT use the rotary cutter to trim up the edges on the pieced design…..it is TOO easy for it to slip on the many seams and actually cut into the piece…..yes, this came from a learning curve!!! Instead I used a super sharp pair of scissors to do the trimming, although I didn’t trim it all the way to the edge. I will do that just before I applique it onto the background.

After a day of sewing, I had completed a quarter of the colors and I love how it looks…..

….although I cant decide what color to use for the background…..

That is only ONE of the unknowns in this project,. Others include….

  • what am I going to put inside the on-point square…. more squiggly lines, circles, starbursts, applique flowers, etc.?
  • am I going to hand applique the bias tape on or do it by machine?
  • do I want to do a gradation background, or even alternate between blacks, greys and whites….or other colors?
  • what sort of quilting do I want to do?
  • what do I want to add to the outside triangles?

I truly enjoyed looking for the differences in colors and actually got to the point that I could distinguish Orange-Yellow from Yellow-Orange!!!

Anyway, it is off to a good start. It would actually be further along, but I started binge watching the “Great British Bake Off” and kept stopping to watch and enjoy!!!

I will leave you with this quote from Georgia O’Keefe…..

Scrap Breeding

Do you ever feel as if your scraps are breeding in the dark corners of your studio??   Well, that is exactly how I felt when I realized that my one scrap basket was completely full…pressed down and running over, and that there was another box on a shelf with even more scraps that needed to be dealt with…..

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So, I dedicated my 20 minute morning sessions to getting the boxes cleaned out and all of the scraps cut and ready for use.

I subscribe to the Bonnie Hunter Scrap User System.   She suggests cutting strips of 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 and 3.5 inches in width and squares in those same sizes.   I go a bit further and add squares in 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 and 6.0 inches as well.    I try to only cut strips if they are longer than 12 inches, but dont worry if the 1.5 inch strips are a bit shorter.   I also cut rectangles in 2 x 3.5 and 2.5 x 4.5.

It took quite a while to get thru everything and I was amazed to realize that I couldn’t remember what project some of the pieces came from.  And there were some that I would swear that I had NEVER even owned the fabric…..

See….  I told you that they breed….these unknowns were apparently hybrids!!!

It was a good feeling to see this fine stack at the end of the process…..

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And, it felt even better to fill up my 1.5 inch strip drawer again…..

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It had taken quite a hit over the last two years as I made my rainbow pineapple quilt and another friend used the same strips to make her pineapple quilt.

The same went for the 2.5 squares……they have been used for numerous quilts made by myself and others…..

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As I added to the 2.5 x 4.5 bin, I realized that I need to come up with a pattern to use some of these up……

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When I was finished I had two stacks of leftovers.   This first one will be handed over to the Guild Charity group to stuff Dog Beds that are made for one of the local shelters…..img_7863.jpg

The second pile are scraps that are too small to use but too big to throw away….

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Most non-quilters would find that statement a bit crazy but I KNOW that all of you quilters completely understand!!!

We are excitedly heading into wedding week and are truly looking forward to the events of the upcoming weekend.    My daughter has been amazing at organizing the event and I am expecting everythng to go well.

Then, it is only 2 weeks until tax season is over.,…..and, the pièce de résistance will be our Guild retreat for 4 days at the end of April!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINISHED!!!!

 

Way back on September 13, 2009, I posted about the start of a project…..

I then posted again on March 31, 2010 about the next step in the process……

On April 11, 2010 I posted about making the back and getting it basted…..

Finally, on July 24, 2011, I wrote about the quilting designs that I had picked…..

 

Notice that the dates have ranged over a period of 2 years.  NOW, over TWO years later (4 years since I started), I have finished the quilt!!!

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I am pleased with how the Mandala patterns look quilted in the alternating blocks…..

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I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the outside border, but thought that I wanted to do more flowers.  I eventually decided to work with a vine of flowers and leaves…..

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The first ones that I did were pretty simple and straight forward, but as I worked around the border, I became more adventurous and my flowers became stranger and stranger, but lots of fun!!!

I started the border by using the walking foot to quilt an undulating line around the entire border.  When I got back to the beginning, I switched to a darning foot and re-stitched the vine, adding flowers here and there.   At first I put X’s where the flowers were going to be, but after doing one side, I decided to just go with the flow.

The back was made from leftover fabrics as well…..

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This quilt will now go into a closet next to my favorite chair and will become my “go-to” quilt when I want to snuggle under something!!!!

It is SO good to have finally finished this old friend!!!