If I had known what a lousy quilter I was in 2000, I would have quit quilting and found a different hobby. Haha. Eighteen years later, I’m still at it.
When I lived in Minnesota, there were often quilt retreats to attend with my friends. This particular retreat had a mystery quilt that I thought I would participate in. It was my first, and probably my last. I didn’t finish this quilt because I was overwhelmed with it. We pieced together a bazillion 2-1/2 inch four-patches and another bazillion 2-1/2 inch half-square triangles (hst). Why so many hsts? Because we then proceeded to sew them together into flying geese.
For some reason, this highly irritated me. The other reason I did not finish this quilt was that the thought of quilting that large, blank snowball block scared me to death. So it got put away and I hauled it out once, sewed four rows together and put it away again. Fast forward to 2017.
I still love the fabrics and colors I chose for this quilt so I decided to just finish it. I think it was originally going to be at least a twin-sized quilt, but I decided to make two smaller quilts instead. The remaining four-patches and hsts were not quite 2-1/2 inches square so I did a lot of ripping and repiecing and finally got enough units put together to finish the 8-1/2 inch pieced alternate blocks.
Side note on snowball blocks: The prevailing method in the past for snowball blocks was to sew diagonally across a square at each corner and only trim away the middle triangle, thus ensuring that the original base square would remain at the prescribed measurement (8-1/2 inches square in this case). The problem with this is there is a lot of bulk at the corners. I did not rip apart the four rows I had constructed, but I did go in and cut away all of the triangles from the remaining snowballs and made yet more hsts from these triangles.
Lesson Numero Uno: Always check to make sure you are sewing an accurate ¼-inch seam so you don’t suffer the agony of defeat (yes, I know the Olympics are over).
Kudos to the Duluth Curling Club for bringing home the gold and to all the other wonderful athletes who participated in PyeongChang.
Lesson Αριθμός 2: Quit with the mean tweets.
So I put together two quilts but had to wait until last week for the weather to warm up enough so I could spray baste them outside. This quilt is called Starway to Heaven but I’ve come to think of it as Paved Road to Hell.
In the meantime, I decided to work on this small baby quilt, adding borders and quilting diagonal straight lines in the center and on the first blue border. Those are prairie points sewn randomly into the seams and a creative border because I didn’t have enough yardage.
Then I had to take my Janome in for regular maintenance, I felt that the needle bar was once again not centered, and I just couldn’t get the tension right for free-motion quilting on this quilt. I only needed to quilt that last border but nooooooo—wasn’t going to happen. At least I had something to do while waiting for my machine: rip out the six inches of quilting that I thought was going to be okay.
Lesson Troisième partie: Always have something to do when you take your machine in for service.
Suffice to say, I need to practice my free-motion quilting again so I can finish this little quilt and then I need to decide how to quilt those snowball blocks. If all else fails, I can echo the octagonal shape.
Lesson Nummer Vier: Never leave more than three quilting projects unfinished. This creates the Unfinished Object (UFO) Nightmare. I think this is my third year trying to complete my UFOs. Of course, if I wouldn’t make charity blocks for donation quilts, or participate in challenges, or stop everything to try a new technique, or stop to cook/clean/do the wash/exercise… But where is the fun in that! Till next time, work on that ¼-inch seam allowance. Unless you’re doing improv piecing, it really does matter. Or does it?
As members of NWA Modern Quilt Guild, we are occasionally asked to make blocks for donation quilts at Quilt Con or for quilts being made for disaster victims. This month we are making blocks for victims of the fires in California. Go here for all the details. California Thomas Fire Quilts
The Fabrics: I wanted to use green fabrics (signifying hope and new growth) but didn’t have sufficient contrast and greens that played well together. Leave your medium fabrics in the bin as you really need the light and dark contrast for maximum impact. I went to my purple bin and found a couple commercial fabrics and then found more from my hand dyeds, including one rather crappy sun-printed fabric that didn’t turn out so well. It’s been hanging around since we moved here (2006) but the color was just right. HINT: If you water down your Setacolor paint, it loses the ability to do a decent sun print.
Next I cut one 4-1/2 strip and one 5-inch strip from each fabric and subcut the squares. The 5-inch squares make a slightly oversized half-square triangle so if your sewing is not quite perfect, you’ll still be able to trim to 4-1/2 inches. You know what to do.
After I laid out four blocks, I photographed them on the design wall. This can be very handy if you mix up your units at the ironing board. (photo of blocks) HINT: When chain piecing blocks together, leave the units attached; you can also do this when you make rows. This prevents mixing everything up.
Here are the finished blocks.
If you make multiple blocks, here are two settings you can try. BONUS: I did not have to trim my blocks for once. Whaaaaat?
I had some blocks left over so I turned the hsts into hour glass units. Take two hst units and lay them right sides together with the light side on top of the dark side. Nest the diagonal seam, pin, and draw a straight line as shown (perpendicular to the seam). Sew ¼-inch of either side of the drawn line and then cut on that line. Voila, two hour-glass units. If you want to make the block lie flat at the center, undo the two or three stitches in the seamline, press on the little four-square on the reverse, press the seams in opposing directions, and press again on the right side.
I have saved all these fabrics, scraps and hour-glass units into a bag and will use them for an improv tote bag workshop in July.
FREE-MOTION QUILTING. I was practicing free-motion quilting and could not get the tension right. I tried adjusting my bobbin case to no avail so I sent for a new bobbin case for my Janome and noticed they also had a bobbin case especially for free-motion quilting. I cannot see the difference between the two bobbin cases (except for the blue and red arrows) but I saw a difference in the quilting–mo loops on the reverse.
Sewing machine companies like you to order parts from authorized dealers but try sewing machine parts and ask for items specific to your machine.
FREE-MOTION COUCHING. I also got a special hopping foot for couching yarn, etc. My results were not stellar but I’ll keep working on this. Stay tuned.
You can thank Jackie Wolven (uber motivator) Jackie Wolven from Eureka Springs for kicking my butt enough to end my procrastination about posting to my blog again. It’s called #doonething. If you are overwhelmed with all the things you want to do and need to do, then pick one project and work on it during the week with the end goal of finishing by midnight on Sunday. Last week I did not post by midnight, but I did post first thing the next morning. A little side benefit I have noticed for me is that I’m also getting a lot of other things done. Could procrastination be a thing of the past for me? (Probably not) But go here for a great TED talk mentioned in the To Well With You blog Suzy Oakley by Suzy Oakley. TED talk
I’ll most likely finish quilting the borders on this baby quilt this week, maybe even today since we are iced in. I’m finishing all my UFOs this year because it’s time and I want to do more improvisation—it maketh me happy. So do one thing, finish a UFO or give it away, and stay warm and healthy.
No, not that speed and not THAT speed. I’m talking about getting back up to speed. I abandoned my blog last December. Feel free to make up stuff about that because I’m going to delete the two paragraphs I spent two days writing. If I’m bored, just think how you’ll feel. Instead, I’m going to talk about my most recent quilting projects and try to find my way back from there.
I belong to the local modern quilt guild (NWA Modern Quilt Guild) and every November we bring food to share and a quilted item to swap. This year I made The Flying Chicken Tool Caddy & Pin Cushion. I was concentrating on keeping it a secret and forgot to take a picture, but you can see it on Etsy. They have one kit to sell. Susa Glenn Designs/ArtFabric Studio is evidently out of business.
I took home these batik microwave bowls from the swap and got to use them with my turkey soup after Thanksgiving—they are wonderful and I plan to make some more myself, my daughter, her friend (who keeps skulls and Halloween stuff up year round).
I do have a pic of my flying geese challenge wall hanging. I took leftover triangles in orange and black and made wonky flying geese surrounded by grey fabric. This is called “Migration” and features in-the-ditch and straight-line quilting. Since my daughter wants this, I’ll block it and make a hanger for it so she can hang it in her new townhouse.
While at guild, one of my friends (Sonja) had this giant bag for carrying quilts and I was inspired to take my large free-motion practice pieces to make my own bag, The Big Bad Bag. I quilted two sides and a bottom and zigzagged it all together, adding handles and binding on the top. Even dh thought it was neat.
This is one of my best heron pics and was a pic of the week on KNWA-TV.
That’s about it for now. My next post I’ll be talking about a very old UFO, mystery quilts and pesky flying geese. If you have questions or comments or want to know about a specific technique, feel free. The last thing I have to say is, this blog was for the birds. I didn’t plan it, it just happened. Really.
I am experiencing a lot of computer issues and will be back as soon as I get them resolved. I apologize–I cannot respond to comments from my last posts. Thank you and I hope to be back in January. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays no matter which you celebrate, and remember–already the days are getting longer and the nights shorter in the northern hemisphere.
We have weather in the 60’s predicted with possible severe thunderstorms for this weekend. That is better than the ice which kept us in last week. May all of your celebrations bring you closer to family and friends and may all your travels be safe and uneventful. I am hoping for a healing nation and more kindness in the new year. We can never give up hope, and please don’t let anyone tell you differently. I am skipping the resolutions and working on goals for a happier, healthier and more creative me. Try to find one good thing in every day, especially the days that bring you hardship or worry. Send out your love and good wishes out to the universe. Even on days that get me down, I smile at everyone I meet. I recently read that even a fake smile is good for you. I can do that.
This made my day on Wednesday. A red-shouldered hawk took a break on my arbor and he finally turned his head on the fifth shot. Better to be lucky than good. Till next time–
CreativeSprint is a 30-day challenge group created by Noah Scalin and moderated on Facebook by his sister, Mica Scalin! Every day from October 1-30, we receive a daily prompt. Ideally, you sign up and receive an email. For some reason, I do not get the emails so I pick up the prompt from the Facebook group. Sometimes I don’t get the whole prompt but I try to make something any way. The idea is not to make a perfect, finished piece of art but to do something inspired by the prompt, even if it’s wrong. I use “wrong” loosely. After responding to the challenge, we then document and share what we did on Facebook and/or other social media with the #CreativeSprint tag. You’ll see below I have missed a couple of days, either because nothing came to mind or I was just too busy. If you want to sign up and play, go to the following link. I am usually a day behind because no one posts before 9-10:00a. I’m usually up at 3:30a and really busy by then. Here’s my responses for the first 15 days (more or less). (and it is “.co”)
Day 1. Make something that will fit in the palm of your hand. I used scraps from my work table to make Migration and then some other scraps to make Bump on a Log.
Day 2. Make something inspired by your name. I like to cartoon, so you’ll often see that as my medium because that’s how I see images. What can I say – I’m easily amused.
Day 3. Make something inspired by a nursery rhyme or children’s song. I thought of a jump rope rhyme, “Call for the doctor, call for the nurse, call for the lady with the …”
Day 4. Make something inspired by today’s weather. This was a whacky phrase my father-in-law often used.
Day 5. Camouflage something. Remember this hippo I was working on? It’s not that easy to hide a hippo. Last year, I also camouflaged myself.
Day 6. Deliver a message in a unique way.
Day 7. Make something that represents the town that you call home. I posted several photos representative of where I live now.
Day 8. Find a new use for something you would normally discard. I deconstructed a quilt I hated, added some other scraps – some trapunto bunnies, some free-motion practice pieces – and made an Ugly Snuggly (cage mat for local animal shelter).
Day 9. Share a secret or make something inspired by a secret. My secret is that I often wear a tiara when working in my studio.
Day 10. Start something; have someone else finish it. Have not done this yet.
Day 11. Make something intentionally messy. I don’t need to do this–it just happens as I work. I do this constant dance in my studio–I move everything off my quilting table so I can move my quilt around as I free-motion quilt. Then I move everything off of the cutting table so I can cut fabric or square up a quilt. Repeat.
Day 12. Make something in a box. I made an advertisement for my blog and put it in the box with Fortune Kitty.
Day 13. Recreate a famous painting–Scheidung Abends (Divorce in the Evening) by Paul Klee. Artist-dyed fabrics with paper arrows.
Day 14. Two things that aren’t typically found together. This is a video. My idea was that I should not be paired up with a camera.
Day 15. Make something inspired by an important teacher in your life. This I also have not finished.
To be continued, sometime around Halloween. Be afraid, be very afraid. Until then, here’s Jack in the Box. Try using some of these prompts yourself! It is amazing what people in this group come up with every day. Some in our group also involve their kids and/or other family members.
I have sewed binding to my two Christmas table runners and decided to try a new technique before I start quilting my last Christmas projects. Go to Kathy Loomis’ blog for full details.
I started with a 15×15-inch square of Kona black and used long strips from the table runners for the fine lines. Kathy suggests crosswise cuts, but these were lengthwise and worked just fine. She also presses the seams to one side, but I leave them open since they seem to want to go that way. Do what works for you! This is an easy four-step process: slash, sew strip to one side with 1/8-inch seam, sew the strip to the other side, press the intersections/seams. Repeat. I used the left side of my presser foot to sew the second seam 1/8-inch away from the first seam.
At one point, I slashed each half again, adding a short strip before adding a long strip to put it back together. I also used a really small seam allowance for one of these short strips. You will need to straighten the long edges if you do this.
Here is the back. As you can see those intersections don’t like to lie flat. Just hold them down firmly as you sew past them. I added a red line at the end, hence the name, Crossing the Red Line.
After trimming, the piece will measure approximately 12-3/4 x 13 inches. Let me know how it goes if you try this technique. I’ll get back to you on those Christmas projects.
P.S. I hope this doesn’t post twice. I originally wrote this early this morning but it disappeared from my drafts. My photos were available but no text beyond half a sentence. Ain’t technology grand?!!!!
I have sewn the binding to my two Christmas table runners and decided to try a new technique (piecing very fine lines) before working on my last Christmas project (another UFO). This is a technique by surface designer Kathy Loomis- go to her blog for the details.
I started with a 15-inch square of Kona black and 1/2-inch white strips–I had long lengthwise cuts left from the table runners. I don’t always follow directions because I just do what works for me but it really doesn’t matter because this is a can-hardly-go-wrong process with four steps. Cut the fabric, sew a strip to one side, sew the same strip to the other side, press. I pressed the seams open since they naturally wanted to do that instead of to one side.
I used the left edge of the presser foot to stitch approximately 1/8-inch away from the initial stitching line. After adding a second line, you will need to press the intersection seams and hold them down as you add new strips.
As you can see, those intersections don’t want to lie flat.
At one point, I made a slash, then added a short strip to each side in a different spot, then sewed a long strip between the two halves. You will have to trim the long sides before you put them back together if you do this. I also made one strip with a smaller seam allowance.
Adding a final red line. As you can see, the edges will need to be trimmed. My 15-inch square will trim up to approximately 12-3/4 x 13 inches.
So there’s my fun for the day. Try this out and add your own twist! Let me know how it goes. In the meantime, I’m digging out another Christmas UFO–some blocks I made as samples for a block of the month sampler quilt a few years ago.
Day 2: Use your name as inspiration.
Day 3: Use a nursery rhyme or children’s song for your art prompt today. I used a jump rope rhyme.
Call for the doctor, call for the nurse, call for the lady with the (alligator purse).
For the month of October, I have chosen to participate in a CreativeSprint by Noah and Mica Scalin. They give us a daily prompt, we throw something arty together. The idea is to forget about perfection and making a masterpiece and just be creative. Play with your food, with your leftovers; if you’re outside, play with the river, sticks and stones and leaves. Do something without judging. If you want to play, head on over and sign up. Then you can see what others do on the facebook page, their blogs or social media. I started one of these sprints a couple years ago and didn’t follow through. I’m following through this time because I need the censor who tells me that I’m not a artist and all those other degrading message to shut up. There is no contest here, just fun. And who knows, something cool may happen along the way.
Day 1: Make something that fits in the palm of your hand using materials readily available to you. Since I’m quilting, I had a little scrap of a quilt sandwich and the corners I cut off my Ugly Snugglies.
The corners reminded me of birds so I sewed them in a vee-formation to make “Migration,” a tiny art quilt.
Then I rolled up another scrap and sewed on a bump for “Bump on a Log.”
Can’t wait to see what the prompt is for Day 2. I’ll let you know!
I have renamed my blog to bycandyp (previously icandyet) because I do more than dye fabric and I want my name to reflect that. Otherwise, I will continue talking mostly about current quilt projects, art at Crystal Bridges, as well as photography from the trail and other places of interest. Stay with me as I make some changes here and there. It’s a process.
My machine is back from the shop, so I should be posting this weekend about my Christmas table runners. It’s Christmas in September (and October) but we’re finally having fall weather here in NWArkansas and Halloween is coming up! Be afraid (but not too afraid). I’m only slightly scary (cackle cackle).