Thursday, December 8, 2016

This n that

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Today I spent more time on a Christmas present that I will not be able to reveal until after Christmas, and I'm bursting to tell!  I am quite excited about it but I can't tell yet.

Yesterday my son and I spent some time together at the Krohn Conservatory for the 2016 Holiday show to see the Christmas decorations.  I enjoyed touring it with him, and then we hit Five Guys for lunch.  Yummy!

Steven in a train carved out of a tree trunk:

Pretty cool, huh!

Finally a view of part of the holiday scene.  The buildings are miniatures of buildings in Cincinnati, as is the train that circles throughout the whole thing.

And finally, some quilting!  I cut out 13 hexagon shapes from paper for my modern quilt from Craftsy's 2012 Block of the Month by Amy Gibson, and 13 3 1/2" squares.  Here's decision time for fabrics.  I hope they work!

And cutting around each paper form on my new rotating mat!  I used my glue stick to keep the fabric squares attached at this point.  It worked!

Next up:  hand basting.  This from the girl who doesn't do hand sewing.

Oh, check out Sew Mama Sew for giveaways, but they're almost over so hurry!

One more for those who like art of all sorts:  check out for a ceramics artist.  I've been following her on Periscope while I quilt my surprise.  I've learned a lot about ceramics watching her scopes.  I still choose quilting, but what she does is amazing!  She shares my view that art allows me to focus on what I'm doing instead of worrying.  It's a way to just be and find my place.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat!

It's time for caroling and happy energies this season because of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Peace can be had in spite of the world's turmoil.  In spite of personal turmoil.  It really can.

Add a bit of quilting to lessen anxiety too or at least something creative helps spill off stress.  Maybe it's cooking, coloring, dog training, or biking.  Find it though.  I'm not being overly light about it:  stress is real and so is anxiety.  Add some scripture and meditation time and this season should feel lighter still.

I added another journal to my collection.  I've been wanting a paper journal again rather than typing up entries on the computer.  This takes me up to three journals.  A small 5-year journal that I'm gleaning events from past calendars and Facebook, a spiritual journal, and now this one.  After I took the picture, I colored on the front cover since it looks just like the backside!  Another way to de-stress.

Today my son and daughter put up the Christmas tree and we discovered we have too many decorations.  Nice problem!!!

We put this new Christmas tree skirt I just pieced and quilted under the tree.  Our tree, as my kids put it, is a 3D family history tree that commemorates all our major events through the years.  We have tried to collect an ornament that marked something of the past year; some years that resulted in homemade ornaments.  Long story short:  our tree is a scrappy sort of tree so the scrappy tree skirt fits beautifully!

Our beautiful tree, Smith style:  

And Saturday I picked up the Olfa 17" rotary mat for a song, courtesy of JoAnn's 60% off coupon.  Gotta love those when it works out!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Welcome home!

My son came home from his mission on November 7.  It was awesome to see him again.

Then Thanksgiving happened and we spent it with cousins.  They breed golden retrievers, golden doodles, and standardbred poodles so I couldn't resist this fabric to make a couch pillow:

I made a snowman wall hanging.  It was designed to be a table runner, but I doubled it over to make a 2-sided window decoration.  I got the directions from the holiday 2016 Block magazine from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  The tutorial is here:

Next up is a Christmas tree skirt.  I've pieced it, added the binding, and pieced the backing fabric so now I get to sandwich and quilt the skirt.  Hopefully I'll be able to post the finished product this week so we can put up our Christmas tree on Sunday.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Learning foundation piecing

I've been a slow comer to the world of modern quilting, but Amy Gibson's Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month (BOM) quilt has roped me into the fun of it!  The class is labeled as a beginning class, and that's because Amy carefully explains how to do each step.  She shines at encouraging the viewer!  I made my first Christmas quilt from a tutorial on her blog because she made it seem so simple.  Otherwise, she teaches fairly complex skills.  I just completed the foundation piecing lesson and am getting ready to learn to make paper-piecing blocks.

The first foundation-pieced block made a square:

I love the looks of this block.  I followed her directions on this one for experience even though I had watched the next block where she showed a different technique of cutting away the foundation piece.  This block has the strings (strips) sewn directly to the foundation piece, making it a little thick.

First, I had to cut strings between 1 1/4" to 2 1/2" thick:

Yes, I had to cut some.  I think I'll try to cut strings from everything I make for now on.

This block is actually made from 4 blocks, each making one corner of the final block.  I'm sticking with the green background for now although I will also use the orange from my second block on some.  Looking ahead, I'll probably introduce one block with a blue background.  It will need to be placed at the center point on the quilt.  But that's not yet.

You can see 4 blocks laid out here for sewing: 

The next foundation-pieced string block was the Broken Spider Web.  Sounds freaky, huh?!

I think it looks like a jewel sparkling in the light!

When I sewed all 4 corners together on this one, I made sure to pin each star intersection and then eased the rest of it to fit.  The pieces are sewn on the bias so stretching is easy to do when needed (and when not!)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Freedom in the creative process

One of the challenges I have struggled with in quilting is trusting myself to choose fabric that works together.  I suspect, given the number of blogs, videos, and classes, that many others struggle with it too.  

As a result, I have chosen colors and fabric lines pretty much as directed by the pattern designer.

And that's okay.

But this time I can't.  This block of the month quilt was created back in 2012, and whatever fabric line was sold with it at the time is no longer available.  So I began exploring my stash possibilities.  Not being happy with that, I purchased a set of Rowan from the Kaffe Fassett Collective.  It opened up many possibilities for me but I still wanted to use other colors and designs I already had.

The first thing I did was consider already-completed blocks.

Then I started choosing colors and patterns I liked that I thought might play together well.  I really wanted to use the abstract fabric at the bottom of each stack and the blue/green that is showing up in two out of the three already-completed blocks.  I took pictures of each and converted the photos to black and white to see what kind of contrast they created.  That knocked out some combinations.

I liked this one but kept searching:

Black and white coloring made the pink and blue/green look exactly the same so this next one got knocked out.

Finally it came down to the next two.  The red print was the only one that changed.

Ultimately I decided that I didn't like the abstract peach/reddish on the bottom of the stack with the bolder geometric.  I also didn't like how the two greens fought each other.  Fighting kids aren't allowed on the playground, and I don't want them in the same block (although I think I'll use that geometric piece in another block in this quilt.)  

So let's see how it comes together.  I laid out the half-square triangles and full square pieces.

Then I began sewing the pieces together:

The completed block:

Finally, how do the four blocks look all together?

I think the overall effect is to cool down the really hot colors in blocks 2 (#) and 3 (Balkan puzzle). This picture helped me see that I need to make another block with that orange print playing in the background or the wonky pound sign block will look out of place.  

Individual liberty in technique

We're in the thick of a very scary political season, and I am realizing more and more how much I value individual liberties and how concerned I am that we are giving them away.  It should come as no surprise then that one of the things I love about quilting is how much freedom the individual quilter has in creating his or her own work, even in something as basic as half-square triangles.  I know of 3 ways to make them although I have only used 2 of them.  (I haven't yet cut a triangle and sewn it to another one.)  This particular block uses 2 ways.  I also love how Amy Gibson allowed a little extra so I could cut it down for an exact measurement--forgiveness is wonderful!

I also love how I can combine any fabrics I choose.  You may not like the selections I chose, and that's okay.  They felt good to me.  You can choose entirely different fabrics.  Or a different kind of quilt pattern or none at all.

I chose to press the seams open.  I initially learned to press seams to the dark side, but I began to run into problems doing it that way because sometimes I'd have 4 layers of fabrics to press and sew through.  Those problems got worse when I began doing my own quilting.  So I pressed all the seams open on this block. 

I love the creative process!  You have so much freedom in it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Back to the future!

Have I ever mentioned that I love Amy Gibson from Stitchery, Dickery, Dock?  She is so encouraging!  She's doing a Sugar Block of the Month this year, but I picked up Crafty's 2012 BOM by Amy to do earlier this year.  Can I just tell you how much fun it is?  I'm really excited because she leads the viewer through all kinds of blocks, including a few I've not had the courage to try on my own.

Amy has also published a book, The Quilt Block Cookbook, that I'd love to have! Go to her site and follow her Quilt Block Cookbook Blog Hop to see why.

That was a long preamble to say that I've finally made the third block in the Craftsy 2012 BOM.  I've been concerned because my first block was made from cool colors and my second from warm (hot) colors.  My third block, the Balkan Puzzle block, married both color schemes together.

The first one, the Asterisk block, is in cool tones; the second, the Wonky Pound Sign, is rather hot; and the bottom one is the Balkan Puzzle.  I'm very happy with it!  The bright orange is a print although that doesn't show up as well.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lots happening here!

So much has happened in the last month!  How about a quick update?

Starting with non-quilting activities:

I spent four days prepping our house in Missouri for more open houses.  In the process, I found a boxful of pencils to bring home for my husband.  There's probably a quilt in this somewhere!

We took our visiting German student Laura to the Newport Aquarium the first day after she arrived.

My daughter hosted her annual Young Women's Halloween party.  This is after the party with her and our German student.  Next year she's thinking she'll probably invite her whole early morning Bible-study class since it will be her last year home.

On to the quilting-related activities although not actually quilting, I finally splurged for a sewing machine case.  I have a Janome Skyline S5 so it isn't a small (or light) machine, and I almost damaged it on a trip outside the house.  I finally found a Tutto case on for the best price that was just big enough.  In fact, I have to slide it in from the side of the case because I didn't measure the widest point on the machine's base (it's 11", not 9" like I had thought.)  I may have cried when it turned out to be too big but tears turned into a happy smile when I found I could slip it in the other way!  

Walmart shipped it to my house for free.  It has so many pockets in it that I temporarily lost a pattern book I just purchased!  The wheels turn on a dime, and it's easy to maneuver.  Love it!  Some of their cases are big enough to go as an airplane carry on, but not this one.  It's huge because my machine is that big.

Now to recent quilting.  I've talked about some of these already so I'll just add pictures.

A quilt that resulted from a class I taught to the young women at church for a young boy who had brain surgery.  Successfully both for the boy and the girls.  It's a little bigger than the typical comfort quilt, but we gave it to him personally.

I also quilted a top that someone else pieced:

I think it's very attractive!  I backed it with white flannel.

I finally pulled out the quilt blocks from a Quilt of the Month in 2009 at Merrily We Quilt Along and put them on the design wall.  This is going to be pretty and I already have the sashing and backing fabrics!  That makes it free since I bought it way back then, right?

I'm also trying to figure out how to quilt another WIP.  No pictures yet.  Lastly, my Christmas quilt is at my long-arm quilter's house waiting its turn to be quilted.  Oh, and I bought a plush blanket at Family Dollar that I'm going to use to back my last WIP.  It's cheaper than buying Minky fabric!


Monday, September 26, 2016

Beginning the row by row quilt

Last summer I collected Row by Row quilt strips from a number of places we visited in the past and this year, and I have begun constructing one from Kentucky's own Quilt Box.  Actually I'll make two from The Quilt Box so I can use one as a wall hanging and one in a quilt.

 Here it is, pressed and ready to appliqué.  I used double-sided WonderUnder by Pellon to attach each piece.  The big pieces were fairly easy, but the logs on the little cabin were NOT!  They kept wanting to curl up.  I found that a good press flattened them down.  Apparently I had forgotten to reverse the pattern for the state so initially it was backward, but thankfully I caught that before pressing the WonderUnder to the fabric.  Oh, and one piece that I ironed onto the iron.  Oops!

Once pressed, I began to sew the appliqué with a blanket stitch.

It's all sewn now although I need to draw the threads on top to the back and assemble the quilt sandwich. If you look closely, you can see the threads.  Oh, and I need to embroider the sun's rays too.

 I'll quilt this one myself so that's taking a little thought.  I'll probably quilt around each piece, offsetting the stitches about 1/4" or so but I'm open to ideas after that.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Service project and teaching a new skill

Time flies!

I have been getting prepared to teach the young women at my church some basics about quilting.  I'm borrowing the idea from Missouri Star Quilt Company for their Super Easy Hourglass Quilt.  Their tutorial is here.

Last week, I cut 5" squares from about 6 different fabrics from my stash, hoping they work together well in this quilt.

Since then, I've cut 2 other fabric pieces so the girls will have 8 prints to choose for their blocks.

I also made one 4-patch block.  Here it is with some of the cut fabric squares.

I made a second 4-patch to sew 1/4" around the outside to the first one.  Then I cut diagonally from corner to corner to make 4 half-square triangle blocks.  I've laid the half-square blocks out as if I was going to sew them together.  Of course I'll wait for the blocks the girls will make so they are all mixed together and totally scrappy.

After the quilt is done, I'll take it to the Ronald McDonald House.

I think it will make a cute quilt for some child and am so excited to teach the girls to make it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

UFO from last December completed

I began making my very first quilt on December 6, 2015 here.  I ran into Amy Gibson's blog at Stitchery, Dickery, Dock where she explains how to make a Disappearing Nine-Patch quilt here.  

Yesterday afternoon after 2 days of not sewing anything, I pulled this quilt top and the fabrics for the quilt back out of the Committed Quilts bag and started cutting.  It's a simple quilt back.  I had decided to take one fabric and run it lengthwise down the middle and then cut the other into 2 long pieces and sew them to each side like this:

That was perfect until I realized that the quilt top was 96 inches, giving me no leeway for the quilter so I added a 10-inch strip in the center like this:

Don't you love my high technology?  This is my large kitchen white board that started in my husband's office, then used exhaustively for homeschooling, and now keeps track of grocery and to-do lists as well as ideas for quilt design.

I figured that it would look funny to add more material matching the strips because the print on the blue is large scale, making the error obvious anyway  so I reversed the fabric.

Here's what it looks like finished:

Here's a close-up picture of the blue fabric:

The long-finished quilt top:

That's the quilt folded in half.  The final quilt has 6 blocks down and 5 blocks across with sashing in between each.  As you can tell, I rotated the disappearing nine-patch blocks differently than Amy Gibson did.  

This entire quilt has been made from my stash as planned.  It hasn't exhausted my Christmas fabric stash, but the stash is greatly diminished.  I'll have to pick the binding out of it next so that will use even more of it.

Now the quilt waits to be quilted.  The final quilt size will be about 80"x96"--rather heavy to maneuver on my sewing machine.  I still have no idea how to quilt it either.  

I think I've come pretty far on this quilting journey and feeling happy about my progress.  How about you?  Have you already been quilting awhile or just starting out?  For the record, I'm pretty sure I'm still about a Beginner's level.  How do you measure your advancement?