Monday, June 13, 2016

Because Sometimes You Just Need a Break ...

I continue to make slow but sure progress making the 80 Lemoyne star blocks needed ... some of which are shown here  on my design wall with the strips intended for the borders.

Lemoyne Stars progress

But this weekend, I really need a break from working with Y-seams and inaccurately cut pieces ... and so I pulled out the golden oldie UFO and made the rest of the Summer Vine blocks from sets of strips–some more coordinated than others–swapped to make these blocks in 2002.

More Summer Vine blocks

Working on one thing can make you really appreciate the other–it was a joy to put together blocks for which the block "kits" are known to be the correct measurements ... and there are no Y-seams! 

I now have 95 of the Summer Vine blocks. I will making at least one more–but likely more than that–before deciding upon a layout and sewing them together. 

If you're curious, you can read more about this very old UFO with links to the pattern and block directions in this blog post.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

It's a Little Bit Ironic ...

June Bullseye Blocks for my graduated samplerA funny thing happened after I decided to align the Block Lotto blocks and their fabric guidelines with the Rainbow Scraps Challenge ... I stopped regularly checking in and linking with the Scraphapppy Saturday posts. It has nothing to do with one or the other ... just me and my life struggles.

I'm trying to get back in the habit, so I thought to share my progress with my scrappy rainbow sampler, which will be made from this year's Block Lotto block patterns with a setting of lots of scrappy rectangles.

This is June's Improv Bullseye block, surrounded by some of the green and aqua/turquoise/teal rectangles that will surround it in the quilt.

Each of the blank squares in the drawing is filled with 4 of the monthly block. I have made all the blocks so far this year ... but need to play catch-up on cutting the setting rectangles.

I am itching to pull out all the cut rectangles and blocks and throw them on my design wall to get a better idea of how this quilt will look ... but at the moment, the Lemoyne star blocks I blogged about earlier this week are parked there, in their very specific order and this dyslexic quilter is a little afraid to take them down until they are firmly sewn together ...

I know a few quilters are also quilting along and making this sampler. You can find the basics for this quilt and the Old MacDonald's Mystery Sampler (#OMMS) here:

2016 QAL

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Practice, Practice, Practice ...

LeMoyne Stars quilt in progressIf you saw this photo pop up on your feed and reacted by thinking that it doesn't look quite like a Sophie project ... you'd be right.

But this project–to finish a quilt that a mother started for her daughter, but couldn't finish–is what I'm working on these days.

All the pieces for the 100 Lemoyne star blocks  have been cut, as have the borders.

The placement of the fabrics within the blocks and the layout of the blocks in the quilt has been specified very carefully in a colored pencil drawing on graph paper.

Twenty-some of the blocks had been made and the top two rows assembled.  I have probably made one third of the additional blocks needed. Here's a look at the upper left quarter of the quilt-in-progress on the design wall.

LeMoyne Stars quilt in progress

I have come to think of this quilt as an opportunity for practice and problem-solving.

I never really thought about how the Lemoyne star consists of nothing but Y-seams–I expect to be pretty good at them by the time this is done. The problem solving comes from the challenge of working with pre-cut pieces that weren't so accurately cut, but since you can't make a too-small piece larger and there are no measurements, templates or extra fabrics ... I am making do and changing up my process a bit so that fabrics are aligned from the Y of those Y-seams, so the shortage/extra ends up around the outside of the block.

It isn't lost on me that each month I ask the Block Lotto community to make blocks of MY design using fabrics and colors of MY choice ... and in this project, I am forced to follow someone else's design choices–it feels a little like a sort of karmic payback.   Though, I have to admit that this brown + pastels color way is starting to grow on me ...

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Counting Blocks - May's (Sad) Effort

This is my continuing monthly count of blocks made for for Prairie Moon Quilts' 350 Block Challenge

Here's the very short list of the 14 blocks made in May. Added to the 198 blocks made so far this year, my new running total is 212 blocks.

4 more scrappy green leaf blocks (arranged in pinwheel fashion) for my graduated sampler. 4 LeafBlocks for Sampler
9 Improv Bullseye blocks–5 for the June Block Lotto, 4 for my rainbow scraps graduated sampler.

You can find details about this month's Bock Lotto, a link to the pattern and a coupon good during the first 10 days of the month in this post on 

Improv Blocks in June

I also completed the second border on a Cotton Robin quilt which I will count as one more block ... we are all now working on quilting/finishing the quilts, so I will be able to share my part on this secret-until-they-are done round robin.  I really had fun adding rounds to two quilts and am looking forward to quilting and binding the third one ... and, of course, I can't wait to see what everyone added to mine.  
Two possible ways to arrange them

Friday, May 13, 2016

Leaf Blocks and a Leafy (FINISHED!) Project

Sometimes, it feels like some of my blog posts are me, saying the same old things over and over again ... and I fear that this may be one of those posts. Only the images/projects are new–if you have followed me a while, what I have to say about them may feel very familiar to you, too.

These are the 4 pairs of blocks that I made for this month's Block Lotto.

The guidelines for these scrappy green blocks require at least 4 fabrics–2 green and 2 lights (background).  In the photo, my blocks are least scrappy at the top and most scrappy at the bottom.

We are making them in mirror-image pairs.

If you are curious, you can find the details (and link and coupon for the block pattern) here:

Green Leaves of May

I am referring to them as LEAF block pairs, but, of course, you might make them in a non-leaf color and/or arrange them in a non-leafy geometric way.

Here are three possibilities, each made from 4 leaf blocks–for my graduated rainbow sampler, I haven't yet decided which arrangement of four blocks I will use.


The first two blocks–which I think of as an X and an O (or, at other times, a butterfly and an emerald) are made from 2 pairs of leaf blocks.  The third arrangement, a scrappy sort of pinwheel, is made using four of the same block.

The other possibility is to go with the idea of scrappy green leaves and use the blocks as a basis for creating a plant.  If you look at the updated layout for Old MacDonald's Mystery Sampler, you might see that it is my intended use for these blocks in the quilt.

I couldn't resist playing with the idea of creating a blooming plant in a small way, so ... I made a pillow cover.

Pillow Inside

I love small projects like this 16-inch pillow because it's a great way to work on an idea in a small way, try a new technique, or practice/warm-up before you tackle something larger or perhaps dearer to you.  In my case, it had been too long since I'd done any free-motion quilting and needed the practice/warm-up and also wanted to try mixing two motifs in a random way as a filler design.

I also played a little with the limits of combining a scrappy background (including some darker pinks) with the scrappy leaves without losing contrast between them.

The petals which form the flower are prepared used interfacing with fusible on one side only, fused in placed and then secured with quilting. The stem is a 3-D element that is inserted and, if desired, also held in place with quilting.

The pillow has a simple, unquilted, lapped back.

I included the directions for making the pillow as as a bonus in the block pattern for Green Leaf Pairs - Quilt Block Pattern.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Counting Blocks - April 2016

This is my continuing monthly count of blocks made for for Prairie Moon Quilts' 350 Block Challenge.  April was not a very productive month for me, quilting-wise (or in terms of blogging), but, as usual, preparing for the block lotto ensures I will spend at least a little of my time quilting each month. 

Here's the list of the 19 blocks made in March. Added to the 179 blocks made during the first quarter of 2016, my new running total for 198 blocks.

5 Butterfly blocks (2 of these were made in March and already counted)–one to test an idea of how to convert a paper-piecing pattern to traditional templates and 4 for my rainbow scraps sampler.  (I still need to make 5 more of these for the Old MacDonald's Mystery Sampler quilt)7 Butterfly blocks
My compulsion interest in completing this very old UFO has waned, but I did manage to make 6 more of these Summer Vine blocks.6 Summer Vine Blocks
... and although I am dealing with some technical difficulties in putting together the block pattern for the May Block Lotto, I did make these 8  scrappy green leaf blocks.

Friday, April 15, 2016

How Many Ways ...

How many ways have you used freezer paper in quilting?

When I was thinking about a way to make this month's paper-foundation-piecing block pattern for the Block Lotto in a non-paper-piecing way, my first thought was, "freezer paper."  I'll tell you what I did and how it worked for me, but first, some eye candy–my butterfly blocks for the Block Lotto (top three) and for my rainbow scraps sampler (bottom four).

7 Butterfly blocks

One of these butterfly blocks is NOT like the others ... because it wasn't paper pieced. 

I started by printing the foundation pattern on an 8 1/2 by 11-inch piece of freezer paper (which I had earlier cut and weighted to make it flat enough to make my printer happy.  

Then I carefully cut the pattern apart on the lines. 

Foundation printed on Freezer Paper Foundation Cut into Templates

Because the left and right sides of the butterfly are mirror images of each other, I only cut apart one side and the center.

I then ironed my freezer paper templates to the wrong side of the appropriate fabrics.  The fabrics that make up the two sides of the butterfly are folded right-sides-together. Using a ruler and a rotary cutter, I added 1/4-inch to each edge and cut all the pieces I need ... until I realize that one of the pieces I cut from background should have been orange. Oops.

Templates ironed to fabrics Adding 1/4 inch Seam Allowances

Pieces cut and ready to sewI sewed the pieces together in the numbered order–the same order as you would add the fabrics to the foundation, if you were paper-piecing the block.

Your mileage may differ, but I still managed to goof and sew the first two small triangles together the wrong way on one side.  I chalked it up to my spatial dyslexia.

Because I didn't trim the extended seam lines of the points, aligning some of the pieces was a little tricky and some caution was needed there, but the block went together quite quickly.

Ready to Assemble UnitsAfter each side and the center was sewn, it went together just as it's foundation pieced version.

The first block was probably more of an effort for me than just paper piecing the block and felt a little less precise than a paper pieced block, but when I was done, I liked the result, I liked having no paper to remove and I found myself thinking about making the blocks for my Old MacDonald's Mystery Sampler using this technique.

And ... I have now used freezer paper in yet another way for quilting ;-)

Traditionally Pieced Butterfly Block
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