Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Can you stand one more picture?

Because I finished sewing together all the blocks today...

I tried at least 8 different ways to fit it all into one picture.

Standing on a chair, standing on the floor, camera over my head, camera chin high...  nothing worked.

But the orange makes me smile, and the whole quilt top makes me smile even harder.  Quite frankly, my cheeks are starting to hurt from grinning, and I can't stop saying "Woohoo!"

My stack of four patches grew and grew, as I kept a box of 1.5" squares handy in the desk I use as a sewing table.

I even threw together a couple more square-in-square four patches.

There's no guarantee that that's what I'll end up doing with them, though.  A lovely friend pointed out several other patterns using four patches that might appeal to me, and darned if she wasn't right!

And just for grins - remember this?

There are flippy corners on those star points, so I saved four of the trimmed triangles and sewed them together.  The center isn't as well matched as I'd like to see:

but considering the size...

I don't really think it's that bad.

And now I gotta get back to that happy dance.  And start thinking about piecing the back for Katie's Star Patch, which is the reason I had to finish sewing together Garden Party. 
After all, I only have one Design Floor, so I can only lay out one project at a time. 
Dance dance dance!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Now taking auditions for a new Leading (and Ending) Role

A couple of days ago I finished the last block for Garden Party and launched into the happy dance.

 Then I remembered I still needed to piece the last two corners, so I slapped them together and resumed dancing!

We are now in assembly mode.

I took assembling rows this far,

then jumped to the opposite corner and started working my way down from there.  (You can see where I've pulled the next row to sew together.)

At this point, I could still change my mind and easily make the quilt bigger, just by adding some diagonal rows.  Once I engage those last two corners, though, it will take extra effort and a seam ripper to alter the finished size.  When I get to that point, I'll make a final decision.  I'm leaning toward the size I've got laid out, but I'm one of those folks who like to keep options open as long as possible.

So, since Garden Party was my leader/ender project (not that it worked out that way), I'm currently in the market for a new one.
Luckily, sewing long rows of blocks together gave me lots of opportunities for sampling blocks for leader/ender status.

What I'm looking for is something fun, that incorporates 1.5" and 2.5" strips and squares.  I've already got quite a nice pile of those sizes cut, and am going to be cutting more.  
I've long admired Kate's Twinkle Stars, which she's building for RSC15.   So I tried a couple myself.

 Though I haven't added the triangles on the corners yet.  And the pink in this block

is much brighter in real life.

 But, I think this will make a better Actual Project than a leader/ender project, since they're fairly fiddly and not really conducive to squeezing in between other piecing.  So, these go in the Wanna Make This Quilt Someday rather than starring as the new Leader/Ender.

Next up is this cute little number.  Quiltmaker calls it Michigan Crossroads, Cottage Creek Quilts sets it on point and calls it Brownstone,

I just call it Monkey Wrench.  These blocks are a ton of fun, plotting color combinations and easy piecing.  And wildly unsuitable for leader/enders for exactly that reason - it's just Garden Party Redux.  I'll be 6 blocks in, and suddenly find that the blocks are running away with me and the whole quilt top is almost done.  Great for productivity, not so great for a long-term l/e block.  (This one might be my next project, though.  Consider the fact that I meant to make one sample block and ended up with four.  And there would have been even more, but I slapped my own hands and forced myself to stop.  Yeah.  Next project.)

In the meantime, I tested a couple of Sister's Choice blocks.  This is a quilt I've had on my Life list for a long time.  For extra bonus points, I've got a whole lot of orange triangles left over from Garden Party's edges.

There are two ways to make it - this way:

 and this way:

 Theoretically the second way should be easier, since there are fewer pieces, but I have yet to figure out an easy way to do those edge units.

It's possible to use the companion ruler and cut the corners off 1.5"x3.5" strips, then sew triangles to the corners.  Or, you can cut 1.5"x3.5" strips and sew flippy corners with 1.5" squares, but I always get distressed with the waste from that method.  When you're dealing with larger units, you can get usable bonus triangles out of the deal, but at this small scale?  Not so much:

These trimmed to 7/8" square - so even using a 1/8" seam (which is a one-way ticket to Crazy Town) the finished size would be 5/8".  Even I can see that we've crossed from Ridiculous over into Downright Goofy.
(I also thought about making flying geese rectangles and slicing off the tops, but I haven't worked out a use for those tops...)
So, maybe.  Sister's Choice is still in the running, probably using that first block, since it's just squares and hst's.

Next up, Carolina Chain.  Or, as I renamed it while working on it, Dammit Dammit Dammit.

It would have gone a lot more smoothly if I had actually been working from a picture or drawing, instead of just winging it from the image in my head.
The image in my head was seriously wrong.
The first block had to be ripped apart four times - the first time because there are not 13 squares in a nine-patch, and the last time because I thought I'd repeated the error I made the third time, but it turned out that I hadn't.
Once I got the first one done (finally), I made a few more to make sure the traveling patterns would appear.  I think I'll make two more little blocks and turn it into a pillow top.  It's simple enough to make a good Leader/Ender, but I've had enough Dammit Dammit Dammit for a while.  This one went waaaaay down the list.

These little cuties, on the other hand, went really smoothly.  The orange corners make me smile.  Possibilities.

The funny thing, though?  While I was diligently sewing my Garden Party blocks together and auditioning all these samples, I occasionally didn't have a piece of auditioner handy to grab.  So, a couple of 1.5" squares would get seamed.   And then a couple more. 

Which mysteriously turned into four patches.
So, I cut a couple of 2.5" squares in half and

framed one.  Simple.  Interesting enough to keep going, but not so interesting that I want to drop everything else and make more.

Ding ding ding!  I think we have a winner.

And with all these scraps, how could I not link to Oh, Scrap?  Srsly.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Further Adventures of the Last Lawnbender

Shortly after I last used the mower, (and it was totally not my fault, really and truly) the steering mechanism went all wonkity (design flaw, says my dad) and would get stuck in a turning position.  This was useful for mowing around trees (and around and around), or for making interesting polkadot patterns in the front yard, but it made going in straight lines rather difficult.  And though I always say, when questioned about my lawn-mowing, "I'm an artist;  I don't do straight lines", straight lines are occasionally useful.  Like for taking the mower down to The Flat.  (The thought of heading down the road in a series of big slow loops amuses me, but I don't really want to try it.  Well, not fervently, anyway.  Though on the other hand, it might be kind of fun...)
So the grass was deep again, and with the added feature of the big downed tree

and I had to keep stopping to drag branches and sticks out of the way.  Well, the ones that I didn't hit with the mower, anyway.  I'm sure the mower always wanted to be a wood chipper when it grew up.
But I want to go on record that I actually bent the entire lawn without having to call my dad to come rescue me!   (And for those who don't know me, I'm in my 60's and my dad is in his 80's.  Which just goes to prove that your kids will always need you, no matter how old they are.)

On the indoor front, here's something I meant to share earlier.  While I was assembling the last of the nine patches I needed to finish Katie's Star Patch, I found a 1.5" strip of Garfield fabric that was just long enough to make one more nine patch, with enough that I could fussy cut to get Garfield bits into each square.  This was a fabric from her childhood with great sentimental value, and I was patting myself on the back that I'd ooched out one more square with the very last of it

until I found these pieces in a box about an hour later...

 And for one more giggle, I was quilting the swap quilt (It's okay to look, Liz - you can't tell much from this photo) and realized I didn't have a marker pencil that would show up on the dark fabric.  So I did this:

safety-pinned a paper arc to the quilt, and quilted along the edge.  Then repeated that for each side of the square, then again for the other squares.
Do not try this at home;  I am a trained professional...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Still Partying in that there Garden

I didn't get much sewing done this week, but what little was accomplished mainly involved Garden Party.  (Hint:  it stopped being a Leader Ender project pretty darn fast.)  It's now getting close enough that I'm keeping track of how many more blocks I need. 
Well, that is, if I'm able to stop.  The quilt is already a lot bigger than my original plan

because the blocks

are so easy and fun

that they just keep

practically making

themselves with little

human assistance.

Somehow, I ended up with this many:

and a few more partially assembled.  And a few more cut and ready to go.  And a few more fabric combinations that I'm eyeing...

Just because I couldn't resist, I sewed a few blocks together to see what they were going to look like.

The white/orange print is something I found for the back.  Now I'm thinking of using a bit of it to run a narrow border around the edge.  Maybe.
Might just as well start sweating over the border early, right?

 I'll be linking to Oh Scrap!  Come see all the pretties!

It might have gotten a little windy

Imagine my surprise when I went down to The Flat today and found this:

 This is an elderly willow (not the weeping kind) that's been in the back yard for practically forever.

There's about 8 feet of the trunk sticking up out of the ground like a proper tree.

However, the top part is now pointed west rather than up.

We've had some crazy thunderstorms lately.  Poor old tree.

In happier news, remember when I went to buy fabric from that nice lady last Saturday?  She said that if she had a lot left, she'd be running the sale again the following Saturday.
Which would be today.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Good News and the Bad News

My sister-in-law dropped by yesterday with news.
The Good News?  There's a really nice lady who's been working at our local quilt store for a long time.
The Bad News?  She's moving to Colorado.
The Good News?  She'll be close to her sister.
The Bad News?  She can't take all her fabric with her and will have to sell some of it off.
The Good News?  She can't take all her fabric with her and will have to sell some of it off.  Cheap.

I paid her a visit.

And yeah.  There's some pink in there.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

It wouldn't be a border if there wasn't a little angst

You may have noticed that while there's been a lot of chatter about garden parties and kindle bags and swap quilts, there's been remarkably little said about Katie's Star Patch quilt.
I like to think it was simmering.  Or resting.  Or maybe vacationing.
I'd gotten the narrow light strips sewn around the perimeter of the star patch section, then set it aside.  'Just for today,' I told myself.  But several days passed and I didn't touch it.
It finally occurred to me that I was scared.  Scared of not being able to make it work, scared of ruining that 'perfect' border fabric by repeatedly being off in my calculations and cutting it wrong.  Scared of whatever.
I took myself firmly in hand, laid out the quilt, and grabbed my measuring tape.
Measured across the quilt top edge, bottom edge, and middle.  The three measurements were within 1/4 inch of each other, which I found remarkable.

Then I laid out a border, measured it, and figured out how wide to make the green borders to fit in between.  Then I compared my actual measurements to my calculations that I'd made a couple of weeks ago.
Not even close.
I measured again.  Figured again.  Came up with the same answers.  There was more than a full inch difference between what I had and what I should have had.

I heard a muttered "Told ya so", but was unsure which side of my brain it came from - Right or Left.
"Don't start,"  I grumped.

 I pulled a Scarlett O'Hara ("I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.") and walked away from it.
The next day I got the same measurements, the same sums, quotients, and differences.
Alrighty, then.
Just do it.
By My Calculations 2.3.2, the side borders should be cut 1.75" wide, and the top and bottom borders 2" wide.  Deciding not to go there, I cut all four at 2" wide, crossed my fingers, and sewed them on.

Right Brain and Left Brain both cleared their throats at this point.  I stuck my fingers in my ears and went "la la la."  Then I held my breath and pinned on the first border.  It fit.  I sewed the seam, and it still fit.


That was the top one.  Imagine my surprise when the bottom one fit, too.

Now for the sides.  I laid the quilt top and the border out on the floor.

Huh.  That looks like it's going to work.
Can this be happening?
I sewed it on.  Not a single problem.  Perfect fit.

So this means that the fourth one is going to be a disaster, right?  No way am I getting off this easy.  Long time readers have been watching me fall face-first into puddles of my own making for years.
But border number four went just as smoothly as the first three.

Now at this point, I could buff my fingernails on my shirt and say, "Oh, yeah, it's all because I'm awesome and totally know what I'm doing," but I'd just start giggling and spoil the whole effect.
This was sheer luck.

Total and complete luck,

'bordering' on the miraculous...  (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

One more border to go, but it's just a matter of deciding how wide to make it and sewing it on around the outer perimeter.  No calculations needed.

Right Brain and Left Brain will be so disappointed.

And, linking to Oh, Scrap!  Because that's where the fun is at...