Friday, April 29, 2016

Quilting and repentance

My husband sat down with me several days ago to help me figure out how many more half-square triangles I would need.  So far, none of my calculations have worked out correctly!  In the process, he helped me identify the color pattern on the quilt on Missouri Star Quilt Company's tutorial that made the star and secondary arrow pop into view.  

When I began this quilt, I understood that it was to have a scrappy look and didn't see that the display quilt coordinated the colors in a set pattern.  They separated each star into 4 quadrants with blues in one corner, green in another, coral in another, and purple in the last.  If you follow that pattern, their material listing works perfectly and the quilt will have a cohesive quality.  If you use two main colors, one for the stars and one for the background, it also works, but if you randomly place the colored pieces that coordinate but do not match, the effect will be more confusing and lack continuity.  The stars will not pop out and neither will the arrows.

I had already completed 6 blocks of the Hunter's Star, 3 of the stars facing one direction and 3 facing the other.  I changed how I was placing my pieces and made the next 13 blocks in the 2nd block.  As I completed those, I realized I was down to a very limited number of prints and colors so I could either 1) buy another charm pack to make up the difference or 2) unpick those 6 blocks I had initially completed.  If I chose option 1, I would need to purchase more background fabric as well.  

I began unpicking.

That little white doo-dad has been called a sewist's best friend and her worst enemy.  Friend, because you can fix all wrongs.  Enemy, because there are mistakes that need correction.

I suppose I could have also tried to tuck the confusing blocks in between the cohesive ones and hoped that they would blend into the whole.  After all, I'm giving it away and may never see it again.  On the other hand, I've invested a lot of time and money into this quilt and I'm not happy about not receiving the pleasure of seeing it looking good.

Make no mistake about my quest for perfectionism.  I have plenty of imperfect 1/4" seams and other mistakes, but those do not affect the overall look or functionality of the quilt.  The seams will hold.  It might be slightly more difficult to quilt, but I'll be machine quilting it anyway instead of hand sewing.  Those are not critical errors.  

Mostly though, I want this quilt to represent my love for those whom I am giving the quilt.  They have helped piece my life into a beautiful pattern, through my scrapes and not-as-good decisions.  They helped me continue through hard times like my imperfect seams, and they never stopped loving me.  Sometimes I had to completely change course and do things again--the right way.  For that reason, I'm unpicking these seams so I can have a more beautiful result just as I want to have a more beautiful result to present to my Heavenly Father someday.

Likewise, that's the whole reason for repentance.  We make mistakes, sometimes grievous sins, and we need to take sometimes whole sections of our lives apart and begin again.  In ourselves, we don't have the ability, but with love and support from our families and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can do it.  We can make a better life.  A happier life.

Amazingly, unlike these quilt pieces that still show tiny holes and pressing marks, our lives can be whole without little holes around the edges.  We are changed, just as my quilt will be changed, but our lives can be made new as if we had not made those errors or committed those sins.  

The answer lies in continuing to reach out to our Lord, Jesus Christ.  There is no other answer and there is nowhere any peace like the one that comes as we reach out to Him.  But as the song, When Someone Cares tells, 

And with God nothing is impossible,
 but you must reach and take his hand.
 With him nothing is impossible.
Those who have ears to hear will understand.
The blind could see, 
The lame man could walk away,
And lives still change from night to day when they know that someone cares
They know that someone cares,  when they know that someone cares.

And so I am continuing to unpick what took a very short time to make in the first place in my incomplete understanding of what I was doing.  

Just like life.  There is always hope, and it is never too late.  However, if I had persisted in continuing with my scrap happy method even after I understood the better way, I would have far more than 6 blocks to unpick and would have spent far more time with my little seam ripper than I ever wish to spend!  Again, so is life.  If we procrastinate changing, the changes become far more painful and difficult to complete.  

It is never too late, but it is also none too soon to begin even if you have to unpick many times over before you learn enough.  But it is in the trying and trying again where we learn and become strong.  Trust God and trust Him again.  He will never leave us even though we often falter in our imperfection.  He knows that and loves us anyway.  As the song teaches though, WE must reach out and take HIS hand.  His hand is already stretched out.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Just dreaming

Today I'm starching fabric that I prewashed for my Christmas quilt back.  According to Leah Day, it's a good idea to prewash fabrics that might bleed.  I'm using two fabrics (haven't decided which of the off-white prints to use--opinions anyone?) for the back, chiefly because I don't have enough of one fabric to do the entire back.  I don't prewash my precuts though.  I was concerned about the blue so I washed the off-white so they wouldn't pull at each other.

I love my puppy dog (who isn't so young anymore; note the white muzzle) and thought he looked very gentle tucked in between the fabrics!  (He's a very large Lab, actually classed as a giant by weight, but he looks small here. While he is packing about 15 pounds too much, the vet thinks he is close to what he should weigh so there has to be some mixed breeding in him somewhere.)

Wish List 

I MUST stop looking at more and more quilt designs.  Here's are additions to my list of my new faves that are unfortunately going to have to wait.  I need to finish some quilts that are already on my shelves!

Here's my wish list:

Surprise Pinwheels by Missouri Star Quilt Company.  

Heck, MSQC is my real downfall because they send their daily newsletters with luscious fabric deals every single morning, often with links to beautiful quilt tutorials.  I really need to unsubscribe but totally don't want to.  I'm champing at the bit to receive my April issue of their Block magazine.  I remember my Grandma Jones saying that she loved to read cookbooks and thinking, "How weird is that?"  Umm, yeah.  I get it, Grandma!

Disclaimer:  By the way, except for being on their frequent buyer list, MSQC doesn't know I'm alive.  I am not paid for sending traffic their way or anyone else's way for that matter.  I WISH they would send me free fabric though. :-) If they want to send me the fabric for this quilt, I will toss everything else aside to get it done!

Hope Takes Flight by Robert Kaufman (I've considered doing this as a back so it forms a 2-sided quilt.  Not sure how I'd fashion the quilting though--maybe just an all-over pattern?) 

Speaking of which, the Robert Kaufman site has tons of printable, free patterns.  From what I can see, it also lists stores where you can buy the fabric along with the stock numbers.

P.S.  You can Google the quilt names and find them almost instantly!

When to say it's good enough!

I took a lengthy break from Minecraft skins, but I finished the Witch after completing the placemats.  Here she is.  (My daughter informs me that witches are always girls and boys are called warlocks.  The Harry Potter world certainly reinforces that idea.)

Back to Minecraft.

The witch caused me a lot of issues because it didn't make sense to me.  My husband helped me pick colors until he asked, "Would it help if you saw the character on the game?"

Immediately I responded, "Yes!"

Once I saw the pixellated figure on screen, I could see what I couldn't figure out before.  Unfortunately what I saw made me realize that Kelli had really simplified this and other blocks into something a beginning quilter could handle and have that important sense of accomplishment.  These animated figures are *highly* pixelated.  There is another quilter that I've seen on Instagram that works with probably 1- or 2-inch squares in order to attain that pixelated look.  I tweaked the colors that I used in this version because of seeing the real one, but I'm not sure I'm totally happy with it.

What I changed


The first thing I noticed is that the witch has grey skin, not flesh tone, so that made picking that color easy.  I've run out of the skin tone so I was searching for the next best color.  That picture above doesn't show the grey very well so you'll have to trust me.  It's light grey.

Top Row

I had to really study this to see what this figure was depicting.  You need to know that the witch is wearing a pointy hat.  There is a vivid green jewel or something at the front right above the brim, and then that green extends around the hat like a greyed-out green ribbon.  I didn't have fabric that looked remotely like that so I opted for the dark grey instead.  It would make more sense if you saw the hat continued to go up to a point, but there isn't room on the block.  By the way, the blue in the top two corners is sky.  I wished for a different blue fabric but didn't have anything I was willing to cut into.

The Black and Brown Strips

I'm still struggling with this or actually.  The witch should have a strip of skin exposed between her/his eyebrow and hat brim because his eyebrow should be black.  It's a unibrow so I'm calling it in the singular!  Obviously there would be no difference between the hat and brow if they were both black so I used dark brown for the brow.  


Yes, that's a nose.  Go figure.  My husband pointed out that the witch has a mole so I appliqu├ęd one onto the witch's nose.  I also used a lighter shade of brown for her nose because, in my opinion, skin and hair should not match no matter what color either one is.  


Overall, I think this looks a turkey with a Pilgrim hat.  However, my all-important judge (my husband) is pleased with the overall effect.  I suspect I'm going to struggle with the translation between the actual pixelation and the blocks.  Knowing what the character looks like helps me translate the block, but I'm struggling with that perfection thing again.

Okay, that's my answer.  I'm leaving it alone and moving to the next one, the Zombie Pigman.  Yeah, I struggled with whether to leave that one as is or pixelate it too.  I'm leaving it.  I won't enjoy making it if I have to figure out how to do the pixelation, to say nothing of having to buy more fabric of the various colors.  Besides, the blocks wouldn't work together if I changed stride mid-stream!

Speaking of fabric, I'm out of skin tone and nearly out of black.  I'm beginning to wonder if I needed all the colors in the fat quarter pack since there are several I've not touched yet.  There are still a lot of blocks left though!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Almost there

It is amazing how slowly placemats can come together.  I finally finished the third one; can you believe it?  I've been learning a lot about putting together quilts though.  Today I sewed on the binding and the corners weren't laying down flat so I had to go back to watch some tutorials of how to do it.  I finally got it right.  Or almost right anyway.  Missing something still because the binding is still puckering slightly at the corners.  The placemat is laying straight and the puckering isn't noticeable.

I ran out of bobbin thread on the third placemat which took the rest of the spool.  Unfortunately, I didn't look closely enough and went out to Joann's to buy more thread.  When I got back home, I reorganized my thread holder and found another spool.

Oh well.  I'l be needing that color for the Flag blanket I'm doing next.  Unless I back and quilt the pink blanket next.  So many quilts to make and finish with close deadlines.

Here's my freshly made binding:

My daughter started making a dragon today since she is on spring break.  It is cut out and its arms are made.  I think.  She's finding out how challenging tiny pieces can be!  The pattern is available on Etsy.  Cute, huh?!  (Hers will be more of a turquoise-y color because that's what I had on hand from a sweatsuit I was going to make when I was 20-something.)

I love being able to make quilts, dragons, etc. out of my stash although I'm not sure I like what it's saying about my long-time fabric addiction.  I'm really glad I have all of it on hand right now though.  I wouldn't be able to satisfy this urge to create without it.  A lot of it came from a woman in Ohio who was clearing out her stash a year or so ago.  Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful to her!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Flag Day quilt block

Craftsy advertised a darling flag quilt block for free on Facebook that I saw last Monday that I immediately downloaded.  Since my niece is getting married and I'm very into spending labor rather than money right now, I thought it would make a cute set of placemats out of my stash for her upcoming wedding!

I'm not done; in fact, I have only quilted two placemats so far, but I have learned a few useful tidbits!

First, here is the first one of the quilted placemats.  Free motion quilting isn't my bag yet so I used the walking foot for stitch in the ditch and echo stitching.

This is a close-up of the quilting stitches.

At this point, I used white in the bobbin so the stitching on the back is much more easily seen than on the front.

If you look closely though, you can see that each line of stitching was separate from the previous stitching.  Apparently this is not ideal.  You should try to use a single thread all the way through your quilt, NOT that I'm entering this in the county fair or QuiltCon anyway.  I stay-stitched the beginning and end of each line, but I didn't use any of the clever tricks to hide the ends of threads or keep them from bunching up.  I have now learned to draw the bobbin up through the quilt top and also to end the stitching by drawing the ends through the middle of the quilt sandwich.  Gail Kessler shows how to draw the ends through the middle of the sandwich to eliminate knots from pulling through in the free Craftsy class, Piece, Patch, Quilt: Basic Quiltmaking Skills.  (I highly recommend this class.)

Leah Day has quite a few invaluable YouTube quilting tutorials for using your walking foot such as Walking Foot Machine Basics too.

After watching Leah Day's tutorials, I got a little bit daring.  Not much but enough to pull out my fabric marker and free hand some zigzags into the next placemat.  I also replaced the white bobbin for navy although I left the white spool for the thread on top.

 I hadn't washed off the blue yet, but I think it helps make the quilting more obvious anyway.

The picture is upside down, and I have now rinsed off the blue markings so it is soaking wet.  I'll add a right-side up one when the placemat dries.  The backside markings are virtually invisible with the navy blue thread so I didn't bother with a picture.  I didn't use a single line of stitching, but I think I only cut the thread 4 times.  It went MUCH faster this time!!!

Because these are small pieces, I'm using 505 Spray and Fix fabric adhesive to hold the quilt sandwich together.  I'm not sure how to do bigger quilts yet although Gail Kessler's class above explains how to use safety pins.  I'll get there when I get there. :-)

Which takes me to my last point:

Never, never forget it! 

I wish I had learned that when I first learned to sew.  My mother laughed at how many mistakes she made, seams she ripped out, and taught me what places to worry about making perfect and places where it didn't matter.  I didn't learn it though.  I worried.  I fussed.  I made it perfect.  Therefore, I stopped sewing.  Life is kind of like that too.  Most issues aren't worth fussing over, and I'm finally learning that through quilting.

That's why quilting is so awesome.  It is so easy to just skip right over the errors.  Do you have any ideas how many mistakes I have made?  I don't either but I have only ripped out a handful of seams--and those would have been more noticeable, like one strip that said Celebrate that was upside down to the flag.  Since there is only one block per placemat, I ripped that seam out.  I think that was the only one I removed.

One more time:

Thank you!

Monday, April 4, 2016

I catch up then I procrastinate?

After all that sewing and all my good intentions to complete the Squid last Monday, it didn't happen.

First, I realized my fabrics didn't match Kelli's so I waited for my husband to come home and choose colors.

Then somewhere around Wednesday, I cut out pieces and laid them up.  And realized that those pieces that said Cut Two only had one.  Yeah, I can read. It's following directions where I seem to be hurting.  :-)

I went ahead and sewed what I had together, meaning the eyes were sewn.

Then my daughter had a State competition for Odyssey of the Mind in Bowling Green, Kentucky, all day Saturday.  They are actually on Central Time vs Eastern Time so the trip down was quick, what with gaining an hour.  Coming home wasn't so fast since we lost it again. For a few brief hours, we shared time zones with Missouri again.  The competition was a good experience, and our daughter had fun, but we won't be going to World in Iowa.  :(  Sad, but it was fun to watch our daughter and her teammates!!!

Now it's Monday, the witch is up, and I finished cutting out and sewing the Squid.  Yay, me!!!

So after all the procrastination, I'd like to introduce you to Squid.

Next, the Witch.  Out of habit, I think I'll let Jim pick the colors and design since Kelli kindly gave an alternate design.  (More choices--is that kind? kidding!)  Maybe tomorrow?

There's a lovely Flag Day quilt block on Craftsy that I might do right now though.  Do I have a friend that might like to do this too?

P.S. It seems that the Minecraft fabric packs might be sold out.  I was kind of sad because I'd thought about making more of these quilts, but then I realized that gives me the opportunity to expand my fabric stash so I have more fabrics to choose from.  Think of the opportunities!  Check out Kelli's blog for what fabrics some other quilters are using.  Some are super clever!