Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

My two sisters, one older and one younger, get together on a Saturday and sew every couple of months. In the past, it involved travelling to one of our homes and setting up space for sewing, cutting and ironing. We live close, within a few blocks of each other. Whoever is hostess plans lunch and the other sisters bring a salad or dessert.

Last November, we decided to find a larger space to sew and invite our friends and family to enjoy the time with us. I reserved the fellowship area of my church and asked everyone to bring something for a potluck lunch. The extra space allows us to spread out our quilts, making it easier to plan a layout, machine quilt or bind a finished quilt. Our second event was in January with even more ladies getting involved. My younger sister created a Facebook Group – Sisters in Quilting – and the word continues to spread to local crafters. In March, we planned an event on National Quilting Day. All types of crafters are invited and we had eleven ladies attend, including quilters, knitters, a crocheter, a beader, and a sewist.

At the event, I finished adding the binding for a block exchange quilt I finally had quilted in January. The blocks were made with dotty fabrics and we exchanged six blocks: a dog, cat, tree, house, star, and chicken. I used the thirty blocks to make two twin-size quilts. This is the second of the two quilts, finished with brown & pink fabrics for sashing and a piano key border.

Brown & Pink Dotty Quilt

Brown & Pink Dotty Quilt

I really enjoy stitching with my sisters. Our next Saturday sewing day is at the end of May. I’m already planning what I will bring to sew.

Happy stitching!

Challenge Quilt

I started a new quilt project. Unfortunately, I cannot show you any pics of the progress. As a member of the American Quilt Study Group, I am participating in the Past & Present Circa 1825 Challenge.

I purchased fabrics for this project in the fall. They are from the Circa 1825 fabric collection by Sharon Yenter and Jason Yenter for In the Beginning fabrics. Below are pics of fabrics from the collection. They are lovely prints. I have chosen the large floral fabric as a central block and designed a medallion style quilt around it.

Here are more of the lovely fabrics.

Designing a quilt can be challenging. I tend to have several ideas jumbled together in my brain. When I finally take the time to sketch out a design, I use traditional graph paper and pencil. As the pattern takes shape, I am able to determine the dimensions of the quilt and quilt blocks. Sometimes, I plan in advance and purchase the fabric needed. In this case, I planned the design after purchasing the fabric. Now the trick is to make the quilt with yardage from at least eight of the fabrics that I purchased.

If you haven’t participated in a challenge, you should give it a try. Guilds, fabric companies, and bloggers offer opportunities to get involved.

Happy Stitching!

My previous post displayed my National Quilting Association Block of the Month quilt top with sashing added. I have since added the inside and outside borders. I cut the black outside borders on the straight grain of the fabric. I don’t usually do this, but had adequate fabric to make the borders without seams. Having the straight grain along the edge will keep the quilt edges from stretching while being quilted. The finished size is 76 X 90.

BOM with Borders

This side view captures a better view of the quilt. Following are additional pictures for your viewing pleasure.

NQA BOM1

Top to bottom view.

NQA BOM top corner

Titled: Galaxy – top right corner.

Closeup of Corner

Signature block in bottom right corner.

I hope all of you are enjoying happy finishes. Now off to the longarmer for the quilting.

Enjoy!

 

Have you planned a layout for a sampler quilt and had difficulty keeping the blocks properly arranged while sewing them together? Or, have you changed your layout and realized later that your rearrangement placed identical blocks next to each other? Well, that’s where I am with my NQA BOM quilt. I initially completed ten blocks, one for each month of the BOM. After viewing the layout, I decided to make the 20-block quilt and produced a second block of each design. Some of the blocks are identical, using up the extra strips of fabric cut for the first block, while other blocks use completely different fabrics. After my sister helped me plan the layout, I carefully stacked and pinned the blocks together into rows and put them aside for awhile.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

I stitched together the sashing strips with stitch and flip corner triangles, making friendship stars in the cornerstones. Some of these sashing strips have one triangle, while others have a triangle on each end of the strip. As I began sewing the blocks and sashing together, I made the mistake of sewing a single triangle sashing on upside down. Rather than unsew, I decided to flip the block over and move it one position to the right – Mistake #1. T the corner block was made from the same fabric as the star I re-positioned, so I moved the block to the bottom row of the quilt. But, as you may guess, I noticed another odd arrangement, and thus began a multiple block and switch. It wasn’t until I finished stitching all the blocks together and returned to look at the quilt top the next day, that I noticed the two checkerboard stars stitched next to each other. You may also notice that two other identical blocks are diagonal from each other on the left side.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

I had other issues while putting together the blocks. One of the star blocks used the the red fabric as the background and created a white star. As mentioned, the fabric for the friendship stars in the sashing is also used in the quilt blocks – Mistake #2. When I stitched the sashing strip together next to the star with the red background, it created a red blob. I had to replace that friendship star with one from a different fabric – more unsewing. I stitched the rows of sashing strips to the bottom of each row of sashed star blocks. Mistake #3 – After stitching together row one and two, I realized that I had stitched the sashing to the top of the row, thus the blocks were backwards – more unsewing. With all of the unsewing and resewing, no wonder I have misarranged blocks.

Aerial view

Aerial view

Here is an overhead view of the quilt blocks stitched together with sashing. I really don’t want to unsew anymore of this quilt. I would rather put my efforts into other quilts and have more finishes. This quilt will be for my personal use and having a perfectly pieced quilt is not that important in the scheme of life. Now to add the inside and outside borders.

Hopefully you don’t experience as many struggles with your piecing as I did in this quilt. But, if you do, don’t give up. And, don’t try to be perfect with everything. Sometimes, finishing a quilt is the most important thing.

Happy Stitching!

I have been on a hiatus without a post since mid-October. I decided that the part of my life that I commit to quilting was using too much time for blogging – reading and writing. I haven’t been to my feedly account either. Although, I follow a few blogs via email, so I haven’t been totally out of the blogosphere. What I have been doing is using my time to quilt.

I'm currently working on putting these blocks together.

I’m currently stitching these blocks together.

Blogging became a way for me to document my quilting, but I want to be sure that it includes the important stuff, not just anything I do. I follow blogs to connect with other quilters, but decided I needed to downsize and only follow what would provide the most benefit for me as a quilter, as well as, staying up with the latest going on in the quilt world.

My sister & I began an online BOM together called Sew Sweet Simplicity - this is block #1.

My sister & I began an online BOM together called Sew Sweet Simplicity – this is block #1.

I have been more selective in what to attend, listen to and read. Some of my must-dos are listening to Pat Sloan’s weekly online radio show. TimQuilts is a regular read. My two sisters and I decided to start up a regular sewing day and invite family and friends to join us. We have had two events already, with a third planned for National Quilting Day. I even downsized my organization memberships, dropping two and planning to eliminate another when the membership comes up for renewal this year. And, I organized my quilting room over the holidays, so I find I can step into my space and work on a project without sorting through stacks of stuff or clearing an area to work.

I finished all my felt ornaments for the Advent Calendars.

I finished all 25 wool ornaments for both Advent Calendars.

More Wool Ornaments

Obviously my new priorities began before the new year, and I continue to streamline the quilting part of my life. My future objective is to keep the clutter out of the way and focus on those aspects of quilting that are most meaningful. Part of that is regaining time for blogging, so that I can continue to document, interact, and enjoy this craft that I have been doing for the last 35 years. I hope that you will follow along with me as I redirect my quilting journey.

Happy Stitching…

My two sisters and I collaborated on another baby quilt to commemorate the birth of our great-niece. Even though we live close to one another, it can be challenging to work on a project together. We each have our own activities and projects on which to work. But, we break the project down into manageable tasks.

I love making baby quilts and found a cute pattern, Tangerine Zoo, designed by Brandi Frey, in Fons & Porter’s Scrap Quilts Summer 2012. The quilt has nine Dresdan plate blocks with fussy cut zoo animal patches in the center. The pattern used a fabric with an orange background, thus the name “Tangerine” Zoo. I had a fabric with zoo animals in a light green color. We each contributed bright colored fat quarters from our stash to audition. After selecting fabrics, my oldest sister & I took them home to cut out and stitch up the Dresdan plates.

About every month or so, we get together to sew and used this time to work on the Dresdan Zoo quilt. Some of you may have followed the progress in previous blog posts HERE, HERE, and HERE. At this time, I was taking a class on Craftsy on how to make creative quilt backs by Elizabeth Hartman. I used this information to make the quilt back and posted about it HERE. The quilt was now ready for the final quilting stitches.

Enter my younger sister, who has recently begun quilting and taken a fancy for machine quilting. She has always been creative and enjoyed drawing. To her, free motion quilting (FMQ) is like drawing on fabric. She is the resident quilter for our collaboration quilts, but was in the process of quilting two other quilts for her grandchildren. That left the quilt in limbo for several months.

Last month, she finished the quilting and the binding was added. Today, I am adding the quilt label. The sunshine was bright and the weather beautiful, so I spent time outside snapping photographs to document our second quilt collaboration. Here are several different angles and close-ups for you to enjoy.

Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt

Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt

A sidelong view of the quilt

A sidelong view of the quilt

Close-up of blocks

Close-up of blocks

Alligator Block

Alligator Block

Hippo Block

Hippo Block

Pieced Back

Pieced Back

Close-up of Quilting on Back

Close-up of Quilting from Back

Dresdan Zoo on Rail

Dresdan Zoo on Rail

The quilt will be sent off to our niece in California, who is not expecting it. But, her brother was the recipient of our first baby quilt collaboration, so it will be a nice surprise when she receives it.

Next up…a bowtie baby quilt for my nephew, my oldest sister’s son. He has a baby son born earlier this summer. We’ve already sewn together the blocks and laid them out in a pattern. My older sister and I are going on a retreat next week-end, where we will finish stitching the blocks together. Then, off to my baby sister for the final quilting touches. And…there’s a wedding on the horizon, so we’ve been talking about collaborating on a wedding quilt.

Happy Quilting!

P.S. I’d love to hear what you think of the photography. I am not a professional, not by a long shot. But, I have been reading up on photography, took a lecture at AQS Grand Rapids, listened to a photography webinar, and had a lengthy conversation with a photographer friend at work. I have been playing around with my digital camera settings and feel that these pictures show the colors of the quilt well. I even think I implemented the rule of thirds into the shots. I’d love to hear your feedback.

I have been stitching a lot in the last few months, just not blogging about it. Blogging can take a lot of time, which impacts how much time I have to quilt. And life has way more important activities than spending all my extra time blogging. But, I thought I would share my next three blocks for the NQA Galaxy quilt.

Squared Star is the July block by NQACT Cindy Schultz. I found the instructions limited, needing further explanation. Maybe it was just me, but as a long time sewist and quilter, they did not make complete sense. The illustrations indicated what needed to be put together, but the words did not provide the needed information. And, the cuts of fabric were incorrect. I figured out the correct size and completed the block.

July BOM - Squared Star

July BOM – Squared Star

Steps to the Stars is the August block. The pattern was designed on EQ7 by Heather G. Tighe, NQACT. The block was pretty straightforward, with basic piecing instructions. I chose to strip piece the 4-patches. I made the flying geese sections using squares and rectangles and the stitch and flip method, while the instructions used triangles and required sewing on the diagonal grain. I find this kind of sewing more difficult and would not teach it to a beginner.

Steps to the Stars - July BOM

July BOM – Steps to the Stars

Finally, the September block is Sawtooth Star with String Pieced Center by NQACT, Fran Kordek. Many of the monthly blocks are variations on the Sawtooth star block. I like this one. The center of this block has four string pieced blocks. A 4-1/2 inch muslin square is used for the base and the strips are added improvisationally. My only mistake was failing to realize that the muslin is cut larger than needed and trimmed to the finished size. I figured it out when my geese units were too short. I usually skim instructions, having a good understanding of block construction. I may have wasted less fabric on the strip piecing if I had realized this first and used skinnier strips for the strings. To correct my mistake, I just trimmed the string pieced center down along the outside edge. I lost some of the outside strings, but the overall affect was achieved.

Sawtooth Star with String Pieced Center

Sawtooth Star with String Pieced Center

I planned to download the next block pattern today, but it isn’t available. I am on target to complete the quilt considering that I have completed all of the blocks, so far. I should probably start selecting some fabrics for sashing and borders. Especially since I found a new BOM that I want to do. Jacquelynne Steves is offering a free BOM called Sew Sweet Simplicity on her website beginning October 27th. She was a featured guest on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio with Pat Sloan on Monday. I grabbed her button and signed up.

Until next time…

NQA June BOM

I found some time between holiday week-end activities to stitch together another star block for my NQA Galaxy BOM quilt. I accomplished the stitching on the June block, Star of Illusion. The pattern is designed by Debby Kratovil from a “Quilter’s Block-a-Day Calendar” published by Martingale and Company. Cyndi McChesney, an NQA certified teacher, has written the instructions.

June BOM - Star of Illusion

June BOM – Star of Illusion

The block parts are pieced using a quick piecing technique and a foundation paper piecing technique. As I stated last month, foundation paper piecing is not a favorite of mine. This time, I had to draft my own paper foundation. Then, I followed the same process as last month to piece the star points. The corner blocks were quick pieced by making half square triangles (HST) from red fabric squares by drawing a line down the center and stitching 1/4-inch on either side. Then, the resulting HST block was stitched to a white square in the same manner. This produced a block with quarter square triangles on one side.

In the instructions, the red and white squares were all cut the same size. This resulted in the pieced red HST being smaller than the white square. The instructions stated to sew a 1/2-inch seam from the center drawn line. I found this difficult to do, since the seam guide on the machine was hidden by the fabric during stitching. Also, it was difficult to center the smaller red HST onto the white square and ensure that the corners lined up. I wonder sometimes if teachers stitch the block when writing instructions.

I preferred to cut the white square the same size as the red HST section and just sew a 1/4-inch seam from the center drawn line. This was easier to line up and to stitch. Most quilters have a 1/4-inch foot for sewing seams, so that makes more sense. Even the standard foot isn’t 1/2-inch wide. Maybe the teacher was thinking that the white square would be an odd measurement to cut. I simply cut the block to the finished HST size and continued to stitch the parts together to form the block section. The final section still needed to be trimmed to 4-1/2-inches after piecing it together.

Six of the star blocks are now complete, and I’m really not behind, as many of us get with BOM patterns. The July star block pattern, Squared Star, was only just made available to members on July 1st. I decided to take a photo of all six blocks to share, mostly because I purchased a new digital camera and the photos are much brighter and clearer. Some of the previous blocks looked dark or washed out when they were posted. Here are the six blocks in the order that they were stitched.

NQA 2014 BOM - January through June completed blocks

NQA 2014 BOM – January through June completed blocks

So far, I have been able to stick to my color palette of 4-5 red fabrics. Most of the star blocks required one or two colors plus the white background for the pattern. This star block used three and the April pattern used four. It is difficult to determine how the blocks will be set together, but they look fairly good together so far. And, I have learned some new foundation paper piecing techniques while doing this BOM, which is often why a quilter decides to do a BOM. My intention was to use up some old fabrics, since many of these are from the eighties and nineties. I need to freshen up my stash.

Are you working on a Block of the Month pattern for this year? How are you doing?

Enjoy!

I continue to work on my Rose of Sharon study quilt. I have three of the four blocks finished. Two are re-sized and stitched together, so that the final size is determined. I then, cut the border strips. The finished size of the quilt will be 48″ X 48″. I have been diligently stitching the fourth block and expect to have it complete tonight. I have also given a great deal of thought into how I will prepare the swags for the border, which will be the next step in my study quilt.

Since I have no project photos to share, I thought that I would share my sister’s latest quilt. I have two sisters, one older and one younger, and we frequently get together to quilt. My youngest sister called me this afternoon to say she had finished her granddaughter’s baby quilt. If I wanted to see it before it was taken home with the recipient, I better come by this afternoon. When I arrived, my older sister had already arrived. Probably because she got the call first and secondly because she only lives a block away. I live three blocks.

Evelyn's Quilt

Evelyn’s Quilt

My sister changed the blue colors in the quilt pattern to purple, giving it a little girl feel.

Bunny Embroidery

Bunny Embroidery

This pattern is one in a set of five designs, and my sister has completed two of them for her grandchildren. Besides doing a beautiful job on the embroidery and piecing, she also did a phenomenal job with the FMQ. The quilt that I made for my great-niece was a simple Charms Squares Baby Quilt (quilt on the left). My sister’s quilt is much more to be treasured, as it should be.

Evelyn with Mom,  Grandma & her quilt

Evelyn with Mom, Grandma & her quilt

Such a sweet little girl and a sweet baby quilt. Now my sister can get to work on the FMQ of our collaborative quilt, Dresdan Zoo, for another great-niece.

Happy Stitching!

 

With my Bernina home, I was able to make some progress on my current stitching projects. I’m behind on my National Quilting Association Block of the Month. Today, I finished the May star block, a Crazy Star, for the Galaxy quilt. The pattern was designed by Pam Seip, certified NQA teacher.

NQA May BOM

The pattern is a paper foundation pieced block. Now, paper piecing is not a technique that I enjoy, but I did complete the pattern as designed. Over the years, I figured out a way to make foundation paper pieced blocks, but find paper piecing to be tedious with unnecessary extra steps. The results for this star are not significant compared to a liberated star piecing technique I learned several years ago. Gwen Marston’s liberated piecing techniques produce lovely blocks in less time and without any paper. I would much rather make my stars like this.

Liberated Stars

Liberated Stars

I really like Gwen’s liberated piecing techniques. I have taken several classes from her and made not a few quilts using them. Here are two more liberated quilts – String blocks and Liberated Baskets.

String blocks - quilt on top

String blocks – quilt on top

Liberated Baskets - challenge quilt with Michigan Quilt Network

Liberated Baskets – challenge quilt with Michigan Quilt Network

I also pieced the back for the baby quilt, Dresdan Zoo, that my sister and I have been making for a great-niece. My sister had an orange and yellow leopard print fabric in her stash. She added a small print yellow that reads well as a solid. I had completed a  free Craftsy class by Elizabeth Hartman on pieced backs and used the information to put this backing together. Neither piece of fabric was large enough for the backing and just seaming them together would have placed a seam too close to one edge. I measured the necessary dimensions and determined an appropriate place to add in a strip of the yellow fabric. I also added a piece the same distance down from the top, to give an offset cross shape.

Pieced Backing

If you’re wondering how my Bernina looks, here are a couple of pics.

Bernina virtuosa 155

Bernina virtuosa 155

Repaired machine base

The stainless steel base of the machine had been damaged and was separated about 3/16-inch above the machine base on the front, left corner. The area was raised just enough to make an uneven surface, causing minor issues with piecing and free-motion quilting. I am so glad that I finally got it fixed. I was concerned that the part would be expensive and it was only $23 plus labor. I understand that the repairman had a difficult time removing the damaged part, but was able to get it done and glue down the new piece. The machine looks new again.

Now, I need to get back to my Rose of Sharon applique blocks. My deadline for the quilt study is fast approaching and with limited stitching time, I need to spend as much on this quilt as I can.

Happy Stitching!

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