Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Blocks from Old Fabrics

20 Summer Vine BlocksCan someone please explain why I suddenly feel like finishing this very old project? It's become my latest obsession.

Here are 40 of the 54 blocks I've accumulated since uncovering the package of 35 blocks and many many strips from a fabric swap in 2002, some still hermetically sealed in their press-n-seal wrappings.

Since sharing this very old scrap project over the weekend, I have since found a link to the designer's quilt pattern - showing two possible layouts:

Summer Vine and Ebb and Flow

I also found the original block directions from Simply Quilts on the internet Wayback Machine, here:

Two-Sided Quilts

My design wall shows another layout possibility and the one that I am considering, which will include a combination of thick and thin sashing between the blocks - please excuse the oops blocks in the second row ... how come we never see these things until after the photo is taken and posted for the whole world-wide net to see?

If I ever wondered about just how old some of the fabrics in my scrap bins are ... how about this side-by-side image.

On the left is one of the Violet blocks I made a few weeks ago, using a blue-violet print from my scrap bin for this month's Block Lotto–at least I paired it with a very modern Allison Glass background.  On the right is a block that I made in 2002 from the same fabric, which was likely purchased for this fabric swap.

As soon as I prepare the sneak peek for the Block Lotto that will be going out tomorrow–so be sure to post your violet blocks if you haven't already–I will inevitably be returning to this very old UFO that now urgently wants to be finished ... maybe it's not me being compulsive, but the quilt that is pushing me to finish the darn thing ;-)

I am linking with Linky Tuesday and Mid-week Makers with this WIP Wednesday post.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Scrappy Sunday Afternoon

A funny thing happened when I went looking for an orphan project to offer up for the Quilt Orphan Adoption event ...

Summer Vine BlocksI pulled out the project I had in mind and put the completed blocks on the design wall.

The fabrics in some of these blocks came from a long-ago fabric swap where we exchanged 8 10 inch-strips and 2 squares of fabric, sized and chosen to make two of these blocks. The pattern came from Eileen Sullivan when she was a guest on Simply Quilts. The quilt was called Summer Vine.

(I tried to find a link, but was unsuccessful)

In addition to these blocks, I had a printed copy of the fabric swap guidelines and–fortunately for me–the block directions from the old Simply Quilts website.  There were also many strip sets for more blocks, still in the envelopes they had arrived in.

My plan was to count up the number of blocks that could be made from those strips ... but what happened is when I started to do so, I think I discovered why I probably stopped making the blocks - incomplete swap packages and questionable fabrics.

Then I second guessed myself and thought maybe I had misread the swap guidelines ... so I sat down and tried to make blocks from the swaps with missing strips.  Way back then, I didn't have scraps or much of a stash.  Today, it wasn't such a big deal to dig into my bin of cream and tan scraps and find something close in value to make up the difference.   After making those two blocks ... I made four more.

Too many of the fabrics either seemed too old and uninteresting or the quality just isn't very good, so I decided not to pass them on to a potential adoptive quilter.   But since I have quite a few blocks made and all those unwrapped strips sets–and they're not all "bad," I am going to cut the strips to make block kits and assemble the rest of the blocks as a leader/ender project.  I still haven't counted the number of potential blocks ... or decided what I'll do with them when I'm done making blocks.

I am joining the party for Oh Scrap! with these very old, very scrappy blocks.

4 Wavy Gravy BlocksI also haven't decided what will become of the scrappy Wavy Gravy blocks I have been hand-piecing. Now there are four.

For me the most fun has been finding fabrics in my scraps to use in this block.  I thought I would stop at four blocks and make a pillow cover (and that still might happen), but yesterday, I put together 2 more groups of four fabrics (in pinks and grays) ... and will likely prepare some more pieces for some slow Sunday stitching.

I'm joining the party for Monday Making.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

This Blog Post Brought to You by the Letter B

National Quilting Day isn't celebrated in Santa Fe, so my solo plan for the day is to spend the day in my sewing space and move some recent projects forward by tackling some of the B-tasks:

and maybe even BASTING a quilt sandwich or two.

The borders on my little (24 inches square) Clover Blossom are complete and it's ready for it's backing and some scrappy purple binding to be made ready –that's my Scraphappy Saturday contribution this week.


The Subliminal Alphabet quilt has been assembled, backing cut and binding fabric identified ... so I've made some progress there, too. 
This one will get a dark teal binding.

Next up is one of the workshop projects from last fall and binding for the scrap bag challenge. I think that's everything that's been "hanging out" in my sewing room. Then maybe I'll organize the shelves and put away all the fabric that's out because I thought it might be used in one of these unfinished projects ... but first, I'm going to employ another B-word and take a BREAK for lunch.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What I did Wednesday

I am still procrastinating the cutting/making of the half-square triangle units I think I want for the border of my mini-Clover Blossom quilt, so I returned to another idea that has been percolating a while and completed this set of little letter blocks. Each block is 3 by 4 1/2-inches (finished size).

Subliminal Alphabet blocks

Cathy suggested that the words I had made from these letters were link "subliminal messaging" and so I have come to think of it as a Subliminal Alphabet.  

Fabrics were pulled from my blue, green and black & white scrap bins.  If you have ever seen a face in an inanimate object or letters where none were intended, you'll understand how I came to create this alphabet from a rectangular log cabin block I pattern I created for the Block Lotto a few years ago.

Constrained by the block pattern and the idea of making each letter unique, some of the letters are admittedly abstracted beyond recognition on their own ... but I think context and the quilting I plan to add will help the viewers brains to connect the dots ... 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Updates from My Design Wall

My design wall hasn't changed much ...


I still haven't made much progress on the borders for the mini-Clover Blossom quilt ... I am procrastinating my decision to make 80-some more tiny triangles for the border.  My Curvy Rails block for the Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine's Challenge, Everything Old is New Again, is still there.  If you haven't yet voted for your favorite Modern interpretation of the traditional rail fence block, you can click the link to check out all the entries and vote for your favorite ... though Moira's block seems to be the Donald Trump in this social media vote.

Hand Pieced UnitsThe purple block is the redesign of Curvy Rails that I blogged about yesterday.

PBS kindly re-broadcast the finale of Downton Abbey last night, so I hand-pieced the new curvy units and watched it one last time.

I sewed them together on the machine this morning.

Wavy Gravy Test Block

I DO prefer the redesigned block (which I am calling Wavy Gravy), but I can't say if it's because:

  • I like the smaller size (8 inches square)
  • It needed a fourth fabric
  • It has much better value contrast
  • I like it better without the center circle
  • I prefer the scrappiness of the fabric choices to being limited to fabrics by one designer or one fabric manufacturer
What do you think?  

I plan to hand piece a few more of these blocks this week to see how they look together and consider it as a possible new big, long-term rainbow scraps challenge project. 

What do you plan to do this week? 

I'm joining the lists for Monday Making and  Design Wall Monday

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Design, Redesign and Some Hand-Piecing ...

Curvy Rails - On PointYesterday, I shared this block, designed for Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine's Everything Old is New Again Challenge.

The blocks this month are supposed to be inspired by the traditional Rail Fence block.

If you are curious to see all the entries and vote for your favorite, here's the link:

MQU Challenge

After my Curvy Rails block was made and posted, I wondered if maybe it wasn't quite ready for prime time.  Part of it was my choice of fabrics.  I also wasn't sure about the circle in the center, which I liked in my drawing, but not so much in my block.

A happy coincidence I discovered when I created the templates for this block was that it was constructed from two shapes - 4 s-shapes and 8 of the pieces on either side.

I liked the symmetry and wondered if I could accent that symmetry a bit more.  Here is the revised design.

I thought it might be a fun block to make in many colors for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Ready to Hand-Piece
I also thought it would be a fun block to hand piece ... and so here is my plan for Slow Sunday Stitching today.

I created templates for hand-piecing a smaller, 8-inch block, cut up some purple scraps and grabbed my hand sewing kit.  After I run some errands this afternoon and make a start on cleaning up the garden, I'll be good to go.

I'm joining the lists for Oh Scrap!  and Slow Sunday Stitching.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Slippery Scrappy Slope

Floating Squares with PinwheelsEarlier this week, I posted about my compulsion attraction to those tiny bonus triangles that many throw away and the improv quilt with pinwheels I made from some of the ones I generated last weekend when I was making violet blocks.

But there were still more bonus triangles calling my name ...

88 bonus triangle squares

In the way that one thing leads to another, I was playing with a setting idea for the Block Lotto this month and thought about the traditional block, Clover Blossom (also sometime known as English Ivy) and decided to make some of these.

One Clover Blossom BlockFor each 4 1/2-inch block, I used 9 tiny triangle squares (3/4 inch finished size) made from 9 different purple batiks and added a 10th purple batik to make the rest of the block.

Since the light half of the bonus triangles was also scrappy, I mixed up the fabrics in the background of the block.

I had enough of those bonus triangles to make these nine blocks.

9  Clover Blossom Blocks

I had thought to add plain fabric alternate blocks and setting triangles ... but I just couldn't do it. 

4AlternateBlocksI thought these low-contrast 9-patch blocks would continue the mottled feeling of the background of the blocks.

Still, after I made these alternate blocks, I thought I could add plain fabric setting triangles ... but I was on the slippery slope of scrappiness and so I made a simply pieced triangle to audition the idea ...

Setting Triangle Audition

But, it didn't feel scrappy enough, so I found myself making more of the 1 1/2-inch 4-patches.

I also made scrappy pieced corner triangles and here's the result.

Clover Blossom Mini-Quilt in Progress

This little quilt now measures 19 inches square.  I'm letting it rest on my design wall while I think about borders and quilting design. 

Curvy Rails Block DesignAlso on my design wall is the block I designed for the current Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine challenge, Everything Old is New Again.  Follow the link to see all the designs and note for your favorite.

The traditional inspiration is rail fence.

It's an unassuming block,  but I like it's simplicity–there are only two shapes in the pieced background.  Ad like those itty bitty bonus triangle squares, it has charmed me and I have some scrappy plans for it beyond the challenge ... come back tomorrow for more.

I'm joining Angela's party for ScrapHappy Saturday. Check out what everyone else is making from purple scraps this month. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Floating Squares (with Pinwheels)

Don't measure, just cut ... and then cut again.

That's how I mis-remembered something Melissa Averinos posted on Facebook. What she actually posted was:

Measure TWICE rarely
Cut ONCE as many times as you feel like.

Nonetheless, it was the push I needed to move forward with an idea that involved cutting with scissors, without measuring.

It started like this.

Colors chosen, ready to go

The book is The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, A Guide to Creating, Quilting and Living Courageously.  It has sat on my bookshelf for almost a year, waiting, for me to find an opportunity to play.

The link is an Amazon affiliate link, so if you follow it and buy the book, I may benefit in a (very) small way.

When I put together those tiny 1 1/2-inch pinwheels from the bonus triangles squares I blogged about on Monday, I asked one of those dangerous What If? questions. What if I used the floating squares score in Sherri Lynn Wood's book as a setting for those tiny pinwheel blocks?

Starting squaresI pulled pink, purple and black and white fabrics from my scraps for my fabrics and cut my squares, with scissors without measuring. I treated the pinwheels as one of my sets of fabric squares.

Then I sewed them into "chunks" (without pressing!) until all the squares had been used.

The light fabrics that had been used in my pinwheel blocks was used as filler.

My intention was to make a small doll-sized quilt. But honestly, this was so much fun and I couldn't help but think how much more fun it would be to use this technique to make a big quilt.  I ended up with eight chunks.  I roughly trimmed them (with the scissors--still no measuring!) and plugged in the iron and pressed them.

I put them on the design wall and moved them around a bit to get a rough idea how I thought I'd put them together ... then just kept sewing until they were all attached to one another.

Chunks on the design wall  Chunks on the design wall
All together

The result felt a little too narrow, so I cut a few more squares and made it a little wider.

This little quilt came together so quickly and easily, I kept going ... and layered it and quilted it with a spiral.

The finished quilt is 15 inches wide and 22 1/2 inches tall. I stitched down the binding while re-watching the Downton Abbey finale.  I already miss that show ...

Floating Squares with Pinwheels

I thought this little exercise would be great way to try a new process with a small commitment and I am satisfied with the result. I like the inclusion of the pinwheels and the idea of using an improv technique as a setting for traditional blocks.

Making this small quilt (from a limited number of squares), made me want more.  Although I often work improvisationally, putting away the rotary cutter was surprisingly freeing.

Often for me, little projects like this one are a way to get back to quilting when I fall into a rut.

Thanks to Sherri Lynn Wood for the great ideas in her book and to Melissa Averinos for the Facebook push.

I'm joining the lists for Scraptastic TuesdayWOW (WIPs on Wednesday), Mid-week Makers and Can I get a Whoop Whoop? Fabric Frenzy Friday.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Think Small

The blocks on my design wall and work table right now are of the small variety.

Tiny PinwheelsThese pinwheel blocks will finish at 1 1/2 inches. They are made from the bonus triangles from the violet blocks I made for the Block Lotto and my scrappy rainbow graduated sampler.

I seem to be missing one pair ... not sure if I tossed the first set of small bonus triangles before I had an idea for these itty bitty pinwheels. I woke up thinking about it, so it's what I will be making later today.

Do you toss or keep those "bonus" half-square triangles (HST) after you trim them away from other blocks. The left overs from making 6-inch violet blocks create 3/4 inch HSTs which are right on the cusp for being usable for me.

88 bonus triangle squaresI also have a plan for the 88 bonus HSTs from making the 11 batik violets for my Old MacDonald's Mystery Sampler.

Look for two new small quilt projects from me soon ... one traditional and one not so much ...

After dealing with these little bits, I pieced some scrappy letters that felt downright enormous in comparision to audition for an idea that has been percolating for a while.

It was fun to dig through my black and white scraps and use a unique fabric (or two) for each of the letters.

Alphabet SoupThese "enormous" letters are 2 1/2 inches tall.

They are waiting on my design wall for a few more of their friends ... and a design decision from me.

This letter style is my go-to font that I think of as "thick and thin. Strips in two sizes are used to improvise letters that turn out looking pretty regular (and some would might say–have said–not wonky enough). They work for me and are quick to produce ... a good thing when you're not sure you'll end up using them ...

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Last Chance for a Slow Stitch Sunday with the Dowager Countess

Slow stitching on Sunday evening while spending an hour with the Dowager Countess of Grantham and everyone else at Downton Abbey has become my habit.

It sounds silly, but today I have been thinking about my need to create a new slow-stitch Sunday habit to replace it that feels as much of a perfect match. I am thinking about Sunday afternoon listening to classical music while stitching ... wonder if I can make that habit stick?

I haven't posted many Sunday slow stitching posts, because I have been slow knitting instead of something quilting-related and I appreciate that most of the followers of this blog are interested in quilting ... my current project is this hat, which is double knit on tiny size 2 needles which I also refer to as "toothpicks."

Double Knitting
Double knitting is a curious technique where you knit one stitch on the outside then one stitch facing the other direction on the inside.  if you are using two colors, as I am here, then you can easily see the outside/inside stitches alternating on the needle and you switch threads for each stitch ... like I said, it's slow-knitting. The result is a two-layer piece, which is only connected at the edge and wherever the yarns are switched to create the color-work pattern.

If you have followed this blog a while, you might guess that this project came out of the 365 Feathers project, and it did, but I ended up waiting until I was prepared to try something new and challenging.

Because I used the 16 inch circular needles prescribed in the pattern, I really can't tell if it is actually going to fit my 23-inch head when I'm through. It's a long, slow, leap-of-faith project for me.

The pattern is called Feather in my Cap.  There are only a few projects for it on Ralvery, including mine. Because I am knitting the cloche version of the pattern, I refer to this project as Feather in my Cloche.

Although I am knitting it gold-side out, to make it easier to see the stitches, I will likely wear it the other way 'round, brown with a gold feather. You can get a peek from the other side here.  I have a long, down filled brown coat and a camel-colored wool toggle coat and picked colors that I thought would work with both of them.

Double Knitting

I still have quite a ways to go and after the color work for the feather is done, it's going to be VERY BORING KNITTING which always slows me down ... maybe it will be ready by the time winter rolls around again. 

Does anyone else have a Downton Abbey habit they need to replace or a good idea for me of an anchor that will keep me slow stitching on Sundays

More Violets

Violets-UncloseI don't know where or why I got it in my head that violets are not spring flowers.

A few people left comments on my post yesterday suggesting proof to the contrary.

And then I walked outside and thought Mother Nature was telling me, too ... until a few commenters pointed out that this is a variety of vinca, also known as periwinkle and I recognized it then, too. 

There aren't just a few of them ... they are everywhere.

In case you're wondering, although it looks and feels like spring NOW ... I am waiting to be sure before the massive garden cleanup this place needs ...


That lesson learned, I spent yesterday afternoon and evening finishing the scrappy batik blocks that are needed for the Old MacDonald's Mystery Sampler.

violet and snails trails blocks

The snails trails and violet blocks are more spread out than this in the quilt, but I wanted to put them together to get an idea of how well they will work together.   I realized yesterday that this may be the first quilt I make exclusively from batiks.  I was kind of amazed at how many different purple batiks I found in my scraps or stash.  Can a strictly batik quilt be considered a scrap quilt? The process from my perspective is the same except that I am excluding batiks from the other sampler I am making from this year's patterns for the Block Lotto and using them exclusively in this one.

If you missed it, you can see the rest of my violet blocks and a link to the free block pattern in yesterday's post here - It's Sampler Saturday at Sophie Junction.

You can find out more about the two sampler designs on the Block Lotto's 2016 QAL page.

You can find more great scrappy projects at the party for Oh Scrap! on Cynthia's blog, Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

It's Sampler Saturday at Sophie Junction

Violet Block Pattern Cover ImageIt feels a little bit like a Violet factory here.

I know that violets aren't a spring flower, now realize that violets are very much a spring flower in much of the world, but and this block is such a great fit for the designated colors for this month's Rainbow Scraps Challenge, I couldn't resist.

For the Block Lotto this month, I extended the color of our violets a bit beyond purple on either side of the color wheel to include pinks and blues.  So far all the blocks made and posted have been delightful and feel like spring, even if they aren't spring flowers.

We made a larger version of this block in 2011. You can download the free, updated block pattern (with measurements for making the block in eight sizes) here:

Violet Block Pattern

After making these blocks, I kept going and made some progress on the two (different) samplers I am making from this year's lotto blocks.

Four Violet Blocks for Sampler

For the scrappy, rainbow-colored graduated sampler, I made these four blocks and cut the rest of the purple and blue setting rectangles I need.

Put together with January's Birds in the Air blocks, the bottom of this sampler quilt will look something like this–the pieced in the right third were overlapped and squished together to fit on my small design wall.

I know I will arrange and re-arrange the fabrics that make up the setting around the blocks and probably replace some of them when it comes time to put it all together, but so far, it's working for me.

Graduated Sampler Progress

For my Old MacDonald's Mystery Sampler, I have cut all the fabrics, but only just started putting together the blocks.  You can see where the 11 violet blocks fit on the 2016 QAL page on the Block Lotto.

Snails Trail and Violet BlocksThe violet blocks  are concentrated near the bottom of the quilt and mixed in with last month's Snail's Trail blocks.

I used some of the same pale tans and greens as the background for my purple violets.

As soon as I had made a couple of the violet blocks, I had to put them on the wall with my desert-colored Snail's trails to see how they looked together.  My plan for the weekend is to finish the remaining 9 violet blocks needed for this sampler.

While digging through my blue and purple scraps and looking through my stash for additional fabrics, I realized that I still have A LOT of blue fabrics–probably I should think about making a scrappy blue quilt ... as soon as I make some progress on the UFOs around here.

I'm joining the party for Scrap Happy Saturday.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Counting Blocks - February

Although February had it's hopeful moments, most of the events in my life last month fall in the category of bad things keep happening ... and so I didn't blog much.  I also didn't quilt much or make many quilt blocks, but as usual, my commitment to the Block Lotto meant my life was not completely devoid of quilting.

Here's my list for February for Prairie Moon Quilts' 350 Block Challenge:

Snails Trails Blocks

5 Snail's Trail blocks for the Block Lotto,
4 more for my Rainbow Scraps graduated sampler
7 for Old Macdonald's Mystery Sampler
1 (below) block using the same pattern with a different fabric placement for an entirely different block.

A completely different block

That's 17 blocks for February and 49 blocks in 2016 so far.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...