Monday, February 16, 2015

Modified "String X" Halloween FRENZY

I was on a 4-day quilt retreat a few weekends ago as well as a few "sew days" here and there. I just had to share my project!   Those that know me, know that I am a complete SUCKER for Halloween Fabrics.  Have been collecting them for about 10 years now.  In that 10 years, I have fallen in love on sight and HAD to HAVE them...  but haven't cut into them or used them in a project!   Often I would pet them, dream about them, plan something around 1 or 2 of them....but never took the leap to slice in.   In my fabric cupboards, they have done nothing but grow to 2 full STACKS just in yardage. That doesn't even count the fat quarters and scraps!



Well....go big or go home right?   An idea....I decided to cut into EVERY one.  I started this cutting spree in October of 2013.  Not kidding.  Was 2 years ago that I started prepping for this quilt.  Slicing and dicing my way through at random times,  I took a 10" square from each fabric and stacked them up in one of those portable boxes and then a handful of sliced 5" scraps of varying widths went into a bigger bin.    Always on my cutting table for when the mood would strike!


Then one day.....it was time to start playing...  I grabbed a phone book, ripped out about 50 pages and sliced them at 4.5".   With a little Elmer's Glue stick - I glued 2 together to make the 4.5" page about 20 inches long.  I had to re-iron most of the scraps again because the bin had been moved, carried, tossed and dumped several times over the past few years.   Retreat was the best place to do this!   The String Piecing begins!   Watching Bonnie Hunter on Quilt Cam do this at various times gave me the idea!    Then when she mentioned hoarding phone books....I moved them down to my sewing studio! 


I bought an entire bolt of gray & white spiderweb fabric at some point along the way because it was on a clearance rack marked down 60%.  I think in my head it would be a great backing for the dozens of Halloween quilts I was going to make.  (grin)  I cut this into 1.5" Strips from selvage to selvage and then cut them in half  (about 22" long)

Using a slightly modified verion of Bonnie Hunter's "String X" pattern... the AHA moment finally came!

The 10" squares get sliced on the diagonal and become the large triangles.   This is a GREAT place to be able to feature large print fabrics! 

I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed working on this project at retreat.   It's been a very difficult 3 months for me.   To be surrounded by friends, working with fabrics that make me smile, it was the perfect vacation.


I get to have my ENTIRE Halloween stash....in one quilt.  :-)


and the more it grew....


the more excited I got....


There is LOTS more to do on this baby...because I can't stop making these blocks!   So I decided to make the entire quilt reversible!   It's going to have a wide piano key border too!    








Monday, December 29, 2014

Grand Illusion Progress - Week 5

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Though I've got all KINDS of irons in the fire over here, I've continued to make progress on my Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.   My clues up to Week 4 are done!  I am sewing with lots of ladies on Saturday, so I'm hoping Friday's clue brings LOTS to do!


You can view other people's progress on this same quilt here!!

Embroider This!! Part 1 (Halloween Sampler)

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So my "Creative ADD" is in full force today.  I come up with so many idea of things I want to do, start them...and then somehow, someway, JUMP to something else.

For example - Once upon a time, I was pulled to Hand Embroidery with a fierce FIERCE tug.   I researched, borrowed books, bookmarked pages, made Pinterest pages and launched a monthly mini-group at my local guild. A dear friend of mine was helping drive this frenzy.  My "Sue-babe" passed away last year, and with her, my desire to continue the series.  When I look at it, I think of her, and it's still painful. Eventually...I'll get back to it....maybe.  

The series was named "Seamly Stitching" and here's the posts:
Hand Embroidery 101 - The Embroidery Sampler 

So what's with the "Embroider This!" Part 1 thing?   It's a project\idea that started long long ago.  I was\am into Machine Embroidery.  I embroidered these blocks at a "Sew Day" at a quilt shop that is no longer in business probably 4-5 years ago.   So many ideas came out of these silly little blocks when Embroidery Library released them.   I HAD to stitch them...




So after I spent hours upon hours stitching these little babies up....then what?   What do I do with them?  There are so few patterns out there to incorporate all the embroidery sets that are available and I wanted to make some! So in true "Jan-Fashion", the next scheduled retreat, I threw the blocks in with all my other stuff hoping that inspiration would HIT when I was there.   It didn't.   I carried the blocks to more retreats, still nothing.   Then one day....BAM!   I need graph paper!


I sat with pencil, graph paper and a LARGE eraser...for days.  My personal life was in complete chaos and for whatever reason...there it was.  Inspiration.   Among 24 other quilters, sewing machines purring.... I ignored all of the projects I brought with me, never turned on my machine and sketched....  pretty sure that was 2 or 3 years ago.   This crumpled thing has been pinned to my corkboard, staring at me.  Reminding me that I spent DAYS Stitching up those blocks, and then DAYS sketching the pattern.

So as I continue to update "My Projects" tab on my blog.  Attempting to TRULY commit to getting a handle on once started projects, I couldn't just take a picture of the pile and post it.   I needed a plan to go with it!  Off to EQ7 we go!  Using a "Custom Set"...the plan is now digital. :-)  


The "Outline Drawing" printout helps me break it up into sections so that I can convert this nagging WIP into a PIB!!  (Project in Bag)


The goal?   Get the instructions for the sections done and start CUTTING!!  

Check out other Design Walls here: Design Wall Monday




Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Path to Productivity

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In the back of my mind, I've always had this idea that I want to chronicle my quilts, wall hangings, projects, what-have-you. When I am gone from this world, there should be a road map to follow if for some odd reason, my "creative" life becomes interesting to family and friends.  What was I up to all those years?  What did I DO down in that Sewing Studio?  WHY are there so many Vintage Sewing Machines here?  The older I get, the more loss I suffer, the more I understand that in the end, it's how you lived and how much you loved those around you. When someone leaves us, we reflect on their lives.  If you are a quilter, or know a quilter - you likely have a level of understanding that the creative process is a BIG part of the journey.   The Meditation, Healing, Grieving, Laughing, Fellowship....there are so many emotions and memories associated with hand-made things.   It's not just quilts.  I've watched the oddest, silliest things become sentimental and irreplaceable after someone is gone. Anyway....I digress.

I've been focusing on updating the "My Projects" tab on my blog.  This is the time of year when creative people make goals.  Deadlines.  Commitments.  They think about the gifts they would have LIKED to give away during the holidays that never quite got done.  They are bound and determined to be MORE productive next year! You might see "2015 UFO Challenge"(Unfinished Fabric Objects) or "Top Ten WIPS" (Works in Progress) or the latest acronym I've heard from one of my besties...."PIBs" (Projects in Bags).   

Personally... I have, what I like to call, Creative ADD.   If you've seen the movie "UP"...you'll get it.


My creative interests bounce from one thing to another pretty fast.  Once I stop procrastinating and START a project I've wanted to do, I dive into it both feet.  And they are usually BIG projects...so many BIG projects...lol   Then...as I'm cruising along, there's a break.   A retreat, a class, a trip to a quilt shop with friends, browsing Pinterest, a quilt show...   You see something new and all of a sudden your brain takes off on the new project!   You can't stop thinking about it, planning it, looking for pieces, parts to do it..... while the one you are already working on is all laid out in front of you, nagging at you to keep going with the really boring part.  And then.....Life.   Life smacks you in the face with something hard, sad, confusing, frustrating....and pulls you away.  Rinse and repeat.

So as I'm making an internal commitment to myself to get out every single WIP and get it posted to "My Projects" tab on my blog...  I am finding myself going down memory lane.  Touching the fabric, finding stacks of partially completed units and looking at sketches of things are bringing me back to moments in my life I hadn't reflected on.  These things are truly SOOOOO personal to us! But who wants to pull out pieces\parts of memories.   They need to be finished!!!  







Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Grand Illusion - Getting there!

One of the things I've found that I love most about doing a large mystery quilt - is playing with all the pieces as we're waiting.   Even though I'm an avid EQ7 user - there's nothing like playing with REAL pieces, with vibrant fabric.   I, among thousands of others, am participating in Bonnie Hunter's 2014 "Grand Illusion" Mystery Quilt.   We got the 4th clue on Friday and are waiting for the next clue to come THIS Friday.  I've got all the pieces\parts for Clue 1, 2 & 4 done and am sewing on Clue 3 now.


It's interesting to watch everyone make guesses as to the layout of the quilt while pieces are still missing!  My BFF was over last night, who is a quilt math genius.  She calculated square inches, units, etc and announced....."There are more units coming".   LOL   Didn't stop me from playing!

I've been sewing on some of my restored Vintage Sewing Machines.   I've mentioned before - my little "Suzie Centennial" Singer 99 is by far, my absolute favorite to sew on.


So far, I have made fabulous progress if I do say so myself.   Clue 1 (Broken Dishes) units, Clue 2 (Double Diamond) units, and Clue 4 (Variation of Clue 1 Broken Dishes) are all done and anxious to come out and play!

Clue 3 - (Double 4-patch units) are mostly cut out and are running through the machine.  Here's what my piles looked like on Saturday Night.


I have "Kevin The Quilter" to thank for inspiring me to dig out my Accuquilt Go and speeding up the process SUBSTANTIALLY at cutting my scraps!  So funny too.  I remember when I bought this thing too.  I got an amazing deal on it as a Black Friday special years ago from a local quilt shop.  Went crazy buying dies for it and then only ever used the rag quilt die and put it away!   Now that I've found a new longing for Scrap Quilting...it just became my new favorite notion again!


I was so smart those many years ago.  LOL   I know I was thinking "BINDING" when I bought the Strip dies, but oh baby....even better for all these "pieces" in the scrap bin!   I just lined them up on the 2" Strip die (that was still in the package)....


Cranked em on through the cutter, and carefully peeled them off the cutting mat!  (they stick to the cutting mat because of static)


Laid them all out, and started slicing up my 2" squares!   Easy Peasy!!


I have 118 more of the double four patch units to assemble, but other than that...I'm all caught up!  Ready and anticipating the next clue!   Thank you Bonnie Hunter so so much for doing this every year.









Monday, December 15, 2014

Grand Illusion Progress - WITHOUT Marking Tools (Kinda)

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I had the privilege of working along side two other quilters this weekend that were also working on Bonnie Hunter's 2014 Mystery Quilt this weekend.


Was sewing all weekend on my sweet "Suzie Centennial".  A Vintage Singer Sewing Machine.  She's a Model 99 and was born - January 5, 1950


"Suzie" was my very first restoration on a Vintage Singer and she is to this day, my absolute favorite machine to use for piecing.

You can see more of her restoration pictures here if you'd like!

As for the ladies I was quilting with - one of them opted to do the "Flip and Sew" method for the Double Diamond pieces but wasn't really thrilled about going back through, marking them all to get the extra 2" Bonus Triangles.  NO!  Say it isn't so!! This presented a challenge for me to convince her to do it.  She didn't have any marking tools with her.  Here's what I came up with to save even MORE time to get these little babies!   My "Marking Tool" ....was Post-It's!!

This is for Clue 2 - The goal - is to get perfect placement for the double diamond unit as well as that sweet little bonus square right?


Step 1 - a MUST HAVE for quilters!  FULL ADHESIVE Post-it notes.  I cut a 2.5" Square and a 2" square and sliced them on the diagonal.  (Yes...I used my rotary cutter - GASP!)


Step 2: Using ANY ruler - lower your needle and use any ruler to line up with whatever straight line exists on your machine.  (I used the bobbin plate cover as a guideline)


Step 3: place the tippy tip of the 2.5" square right up to the needle and line up along the ruler.  STICK IT DOWN!   Then the 2" square - on TOP of the 2.5" with the tippy tip right up to the needle!  STICK IT DOWN!.  (You could use two different colors to make it easier - I just drew a line with a pencil along the bottom edge of the 2" one so I could see it)


Step 4:  Stick your piece right up to that needle and cover the 2.5" post-it exactly.


Step 5: Sew that baby!  SLOW DOWN!!  Watch the bottom tip along the edge of the post-it's to ensure it's perfectly straight.   Don't watch the needle....it's not going anywhere!  And if you don't watch the bottom as it's feeding - you're likely to move it and end up with a wonky stitching line!


Step 6: Once the corner to corner seam is sewn, run all the pieces through again using the same concept with the 2 inch post it!   Right up to the needle - cover the 2" post-it.   Put a little pencil mark on where it meets the bottom.  Watch that pencil mark as you sew, so it's nice and straight!


Step 7: Viola!   2 seam lines - put your ruler in between the sewn lines and cut!   


Result!  Perfect start to your double diamonds, press them both, trim off the little dog ears on the itty bitty HST's and set them aside for another day!


Guess what....that lady that didn't want to find a marking tool to sit and mark all those squares....ending up making them all.  (grin)

If you are curious of what this is all about - I'm doing the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt authored by Bonnie Hunter.   You can join us by following the clues here.

You can also join in on her MONDAY Linky Party here











Monday, December 8, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Progress

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It's funny how our journey unfolds.   I too hear people complain about the time of year it comes.  But then, while watching Bonnie on QuiltCam one night, I felt peace with her response.   "It's not for the folks that are inundated with events, plans and family stuff...it's for the ones that aren't".   It's for the quilters that have lost their spouses, or their children have moved away.  It's for the women\or men that feel a little empty inside around this time of year because of loss.   This is the second Quiltville Mystery Quilt I've participated in.   The first was Easy Street.   It appeared in my life right when I needed it.  It appeared when I needed color, creation, meditation....healing.   And here I am again, 2 years later, ever so grateful, for the color, creation, meditation...healing.   Thank you Bonnie, for continuing to do this.   Thank you for not letting the critical, ungrateful people, bring you down.

We are at Week 2 of the clues - If you have no idea what I'm talking about - click here to read all about it.   Here is my progress!  


Once again, I changed the colors from what Bonnie originally suggested.  "Easy Street" I drastically changed her color scheme - you can see that finished top here

But this year - I didn't choose a pretty flower as a palette.   I chose the friendships in my life. Past & Present. A little over a year ago - I lost my sweet, quirky, loving "Sue-Babe".  She passed away in the middle of our guilds Fall Retreat in 2013.  I still thank God when I think about it for making it so we were all together to support each other during this time.  And that Sue-Babe was able to spend the day with all of us before hand and then to be taken home to be with her family during her passing.   It happened out of nowhere - just like that...life changed for so many people.


It took some time for the family to heal from the sudden loss and make decisions about her quilting things.   I ended up with some of her fabrics and among them were these Half-Square Triangles.  I have no idea why, or what they were supposed to go to.  But Sue-Babe had her own style of quilting. She loved "mindless piecing".   Just throwing things together.   Squares, bricks, half-square triangles. 


I remember one time she went through a "Flying Geese" phase.   I think it was a new ruler or something that got her going.    She made so many geese, it was hilarious.   Then she started throwing them together into wall-hangings, place mats, whatever she could think of.   And then gave them all away.   :-)   That was Sue.

When Bonnie's first clue came out with the graphic of the Half-Square Triangle - my internal debate about my colors was over.  I wanted to base the quilt on Sue-Babe's little lost blocks and ensure that they go into the quilt.  Clue 2 - the Double Diamond Chevron's - provided the first opportunity to sneak them in, without removing a single seam.   I trimmed them to 2 1/2", seemed them together, and added them in.   The seam won't be visible once it's quilted.   But I will know they are in there.  :-)  And that's all that matters.



Sue-Babe wasn't\isn't my only quilting friend.   I have many.   And they are all equally important in their own ways.    Over the years, there have been fabric swaps, shopping each other's stashes, and even random phone calls, like Miss Mary!   "Come take all my scraps!"   LOL  Every fabric going into this years mystery quilt is sourced from all these loving friends that have so deeply touched my life.   I am grateful for every single one of them.

Give thanks for another day - for it is a BLESSING.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Dexter's Quilt Part 3

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Tick Tock Gramma - Tick Tock!!!  About 3 weeks until Christmas!

Dexter's Quilt was supposed to be done for Dexter's BIRTH day which ended up being March 31st, 2014.  Yep...shooting for Christmas at this point...lol   Wish me luck... Plan B....1st Birthday :-)

Our sweet angel had a really REALLY rough time coming into this world. He suffered from a birth injury (HIE)  Here he is on Day 2.


We'll skip past the details of the 29 day NICU stay, the months and months of worry and concern over the milestones he needed to meet and just say that he is our little miracle.  Today, he is a happy, healthy, 8-month old STRONG, SMART baby!  :-)


Dexter's Quilt, by far, is the most fun I've ever had making a gift.  I need to finish the block border I'm making and sew the panels together still.   But omg...SO fun!


This was a very socially involved creation.  :-)  Very little was done at home in my studio.   Community sew days, Quilt Retreats and with visiting friends.   Every little critter provided fun and smiles hunting for the fabrics and watching them come alive.  :-)

Racoon

Hedgehog

Bear

Moose

Bunny Rabbit

SQUIRREL!!

Mouse

Owl

Super Smiley Sunshine!

Dancing Bird (needs his feet still)

Flying Bird!

Grrrr Tiger!

Happiest darn lion I've ever seen!

McCaw Bird!

Elephant

Monkey

Kangaroo & Joey

Zebra

Giraffe

Flying Fish!

Ribbit Frog!

Penguin

Quacky Duck

Alligator!  (Or Crocodile - I forget..)

Turtle

Beaver

Bird in flight!

Pig

Roooooster!

Cow with a barn

Hen (oops!  Also needs feet!)

Chick

Puppy Dog

Fuzzy Sheep!

Kitty Cat

So much fun!   I'm doing Bonnie Hunter's "Wonky Wishes" Stars in the border and making the centers all the animal fabrics so Mister Dexter can match em up!