Quilts And All Things Fabric...

As an avid fabric enthusiast, a blog about quilts and all things fabric just seemed the obvious thing to do.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Quick Step Closer

Step/Clue 3 nudged the quilt one quick and easy step closer to fruition.
Usually I take lots of pictures during the progress of the step; but this week it was so easy and quick lots of random photos seemed unnecessary.
Simple and easy Half Square Triangles with half of them turned into Pinwheels.
My method of choice was to use the Easy Angle ruler as demonstrated by Bonnie in the tutorial. Although I did make one group using the "Magic 8" method. It's a quick, easy, and very accurate method. You can find several tutorials and You Tubes for that technique. Just give it a Google. But for those curious now, here is a little diagram that shows stitching lines and cutting lines. To obtain the 2" HST for this clue just start with a 4 3/4 inch square of Orange and Yellow (or whatever colors you may be substituting). Stack them up, mark the diagonals corner to corner and sew 1/4" on either side of both marked lines (stitching shown with dash lines ----). Then measure in from the side 2 3/8" and down from the top 2 3/8". The lines should intersect at the center of the X mark. Cut apart starting with the vertical and horizontal lines drawn last. This produces 4 squares with the double stitch line on the diagonal. Then cut these units apart between the stitches on the first lines drawn. Easy! 
Here are the finished HST's and Pinwheels.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, I will be behind for at least the next two clues. But don't worry, it will all be worth it because I will be playing with grandkids! And will catch up as soon as possible.
I hope all of you that are making Celtic Solstice are thoroughly enjoying the journey.
See you all in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Celtic Solstice Step 2

Week 2 of the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt brought Chevrons our way!

Ok, so that may not excite many of you but it did me because they are "easy-peasy" units to put together. That means a quick clue week and back to working on other Christmas projects...even though I love doing the mystery there are some other projects that just NEED to be finished up.

Since I am doing the smaller quilt, and using a limited fabric selection, the cutting went fairly quickly.  Here are all the pieces needed to construct 100 Chevron blocks.

After getting all the pieces cut, next step was to mark diagonal centers for the corner pieces. That meant marking all the white and all the yellow squares. Time consuming, but necessary to get nice straight seams for a good fit later.
 Here is a one of the units going through the machine. Notice how the needle is just to the side of the line (on the side that gets cut off). This gives that extra little needed for the fold over to be just the right size.
In the photo above, the polka dots on the white show through to the back side very clearly. This is a fun fabric. But it is a white on white, and very difficult in certain lighting situations to distinguish right and wrong side. Glad to have the stitching line mark in place on the wrong side of the fabric. Don't want to admit  how many times in past projects I have had to rip out and re-stitch because of not "seeing" the difference.

The key to a good join of the two sides is ironing the seams in opposite directions. For example, side 1 iron in one direction - up, side 2 iron in the opposite direction - down. I didn't take pictures of this step, but check out Bonnie's tutorial for good photo examples. Then join by "nesting" the seams. My preferred  method for these units was to nest the seam where the white/neutral and green met, then align the two fabric pieces upward to the top and start to sew. I sewed about half way down the white/neutral section, peeked to check on the "nested" seam and made adjustments if necessary. Sewed on through the "nest" and half way through the green section. Then again checked the "nested" seam and sewed on the end. I started out pinning these, but found it worked better for me to just nest them and check them as they were sewn.

And are all the completed Chevrons stacked up and waiting for their place in the quilt.
I am hoping that the different swirl patterns in the fabric adds an element of movement to the quilt. It will be a wait and see situation.
In past blogs I have included a segment of what I called "Garden Variety Inspiration". This included photos of various things in the vegetable garden, or flowers in the yard that inspired ideas for color and or texture use with textiles. This time of year, it is difficult to come up with beautiful blooms, or colorful vegies to photograph. But Mother Nature has come through for us with some lovely snow and ice covered ornamental grass tassels. I thought this appropriate for this blog because of the use of neutrals/whites in the mystery quilt. These almost look like black and white pictures, but they are in full color. Just taken on a very grey day. And I refused to venture off the back porch to take the pictures. Yes, I am a wimp.  There is even a little contrasts in the neutrals of the white on cream and especially with the grey background.
 See the grey in the cream of the tassels?And the grey background? I love the use of grey in quilts.

Here is the big picture.

Hopefully these photos stirred up some inspiration or at least piqued you interest.
Well, that's all until next week when we get to see what clue/step 3 has to offer. Until then quilt on!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Celtic Solstice - The Mystery Begins

It's that time of year again.
 Time for annual Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt.  This year's mystery is named Celtic Solstice.
 Her color choices are Green, Blue, Orange and Yellow, a perfect reflection of the Irish countryside.

But before I get into this years project and show off my color choices and first step let me share with you some other tidbits about me and my quilting.

I must admit to being a bit of a rebel when it comes to Scrappy. Scrappy really isn't my thing. My style is much more "Matchy-Matchy", so it is really a stretch for me to go totally scrappy in the quilts. Besides, my stash is almost nonexistent, so when starting a project there isn't a lot to choose from to go scrappy. So that usually means a trip to the fabric store for yardage or FQ's.

This will be my FOURTH Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt. My first one was Orca Bay and I love that quilt. Ok, so it's still a quilt top because it hasn't been finished....yet. I stuck as much with the scrappy technique as I could on it, but was limited to fabrics available. I switched the colors out on it to purple, pink and greens. You can find photos of the Orca Bay quilt progress in my previous blog posts here.

Then came Easy Street. I stuck with Bonnie's  colors on it, but went much more "matchy" and limited fabrics to only a few of each color. It was finished just last week in time to go on the guest bed prior to my daughter and granddaughter arriving for Thanksgiving. Here it is on the bed! I LOVE this quilt, too! The colors are much more vibrant than they appear in this photo. (You can find photos of Easy Street in older blog posts, too.)

I also did Lazy Sunday, which ran in Quiltmaker magazine last summer. I again went with Bonnie's color selection, but pulled strictly from my stash. It is mostly scrappy, but I must admit to again doing some "matchy-matchy" units on it. Just can't help myself! It's the way I am. LOL
Here is Lazy Sunday:
The backing is purchased for this one. It's batting got used in Easy Street. Oops. This quilt was actually made for a special purpose. We have an oversized Sheltie named Murphy that is NOT allowed on the couch. Yeah, right! See how innocent he pretends to be? "Who me, on the couch, never!" Except his fur all over it gives him away every time!
He only gets up on the couch when we are not home. So, intent is for Lazy Sunday to be the couch quilt when we are gone. Much easier to throw the quilt in to wash than getting fur off the couch.

I have taken quite a bit of flack from a few people about my NOT doing Scrappy in these quilts. But one VERY IMPORTANT thing to know. Bonnie's patterns/designs are EXCELLENT and work wonderfully whether you are a Happy Scrapper or a "Matchy-Matchy" Traditionalist like me.

Just go out there and make Beautiful Quilts!

Now, for this years FUN! I'm sticking with Bonnies colors, but in a limited number of colors.
I have added one more blue to the stack and am considering switching out one of the yellows because I like the way the other color "plays" better. Or may just add it as a 4th yellow to the group. Will make that decision when we start cutting and using the yellows.  I also purchased a 4th green that includes. Here are the additional colors.
That green was just too much fun not to incorporate into the quilt.

The first clue/step in this mystery was an easy one using the TriRecs Rulers. Bonnie has also teamed up with Linda Franz at Inklingo if you don't want to use the rulers. I still may try this technique, but not sure my little old printer can handle the fabric. Hey, it balks at running an envelope though and just loves making paper jams. Usually does ok if set to specialty paper, but still iffy. May just be the incentive I need to get that new printer I have been wanting for awhile.

Anyway, I got busy and cut and sewed step one. Quick and easy this time. Here the units are all laid out and ready to sew.
 The chain has been started. These units match up great and go together quickly.
 Here are some of the white units with one "wing" attached all lined up for pressing. Remember the hint from last year to keep the chain together for pressing? It works great! Much easier than picking up each unit one at a time to iron.
 And here are my Step/Clue 1 units all finished shown with the TriRecs Rulers.
I know, I know....not scrappy....too "matchy-matchy" for some of you. But trust me, this will work!

Thanks Bonnie, for another great mystery. Can't wait to see how this one turns out!

Little Misses Apron

Lily modeling her apron.
Lily NEEDS an Apron

The day before Thanksgiving we decided Little Miss Lily needed her very own apron. She is only three, but LOVES to help in the kitchen, and is actually a very good helper. Her only issue is the she ONLY wants the IMPORTANT jobs. And she determines just what those are.

My daughter and I went scrounging around in my very limited fabric stash and finally came up with the makings for one fantastic apron. There was no pattern for this. We just created as we went along.

The purple ruffle, binding and tie fabric was some yardage that had been purchased for a quilt back. But got put back into the stash because I decided I didn't really like it for the backing. And besides, it came up short for yardage. Not sure how that happened, but pretty sure I need to start watching yardage being measured before it's cut more closely.

The cherry print, three sections big pocket was part of a left over Fat Quarter. And the little green heart pockets on top of the cherry fabric was literally a scrap barely big enough to use. The little green heart pockets are lined with some yellow  that was also a barely big enough scrap piece.

The big question became what fabric to use for the main body of the apron. Do you every just come up with an idea and have no idea where it came from??? That's sort of what happened here. I pulled out the craft box container and right there on top was a bundle of those oversized 100% cotton tea towels. YES! The light bulb came on. (It does happen occasionally.)

We folded the towel in half and cross hatched it with purple thread. This made our "fabric".
Since Miss Lily is a tiny little thing, we didn't need a huge amount of base fabric. So, we cut our "fabric" unit in half. Then we literally held it up to her and drew on shape from the neckline to under the arms that needed to be cut out.

For the big Cherry fabric pocket, we started by making the ruffle. We cut a strip of the purple yardage fabric twice as wide as we wanted the ruffle, folded it in half and gathered the raw edge. We just folded what was left of the Cherry fabric FQ in half and trimmed it up to fit the apron base. Folded it in half  right sides together with the ruffle inside (making a tube). Stitched it up and turned/pulled it right side out and topstitched the upper folded edge for stability.

My daughter free hand drew the little heart pattern to fit the fabric we had. We made a template from freezer paper and cut out two green and two yellow hearts. Sewed them together leaving a small space on the side for turning. Ironed them, and topstitched the tops of the hearts. Then sewed the heart pockets onto the Cherry fabric pocket. A girls apron needs LOTS of pockets you know.

We then went back to our purple yardage and cut fabric for the back tie/bow. Again, doing it the easy way, we cut a strip WOF twice as wide as we wanted the actual tie to be. Cut the strip in half to make the left and right tie pieces. Folded each piece in half and sewed a 45%  line on one end of each piece to make our nice bow end point. Then sewed the sides and turned and pressed. Attached these to each side on the back.

Then back to our yardage and did a 1/2 yard cut to make the continuous bias binding for the edges of the apron and the back neck ties. My daughter did the markings, I did the sewing, and she did the cutting. We made the strip 1" wide which gave us a nice 1/4" binding strip to work with. We cut a piece and bound the neck piece across first. Then measured center of the binding strip we had left and pinned it into place starting at the bottom center of the apron. This gave us way more than we needed on each end for our neck ties, so we just cut off what was extra. ( I can use those left over pieces in string blocks, so really no waste.)

Oh, and I almost forgot. We embroidered her name in Hot Pink.

Here is Lily modeling her apron once again. This time it is actually "in use". She is putting the dinner rolls in the pan.  Back view shows the bow and neck ties.
Here is the full apron photo laid out so you can see the pockets better close up.  We had a lot of fun creating and making this for the up and coming "Chef" of the family.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Three Quarter Bag Project

Awhile back (2 maybe 3 years) I purchased a kit from Connecting Threads for a bag called the "Three Quarter Bag". The kit was in a green color-way and I also purchased enough fabric of the same line in the pink color-way for a second bag.  At the time these were purchased, I intended to jump right on making them. Well, things got in the way and that didn't happen. You know how it goes.  With lots of determination that these would get done for this year's Spring and Summer season, I tackled the project.....finally. All was going along quickly and smoothly, but then along came a couple of "important" interruptions and a mystery quilt that just begged to be done. (Yep, that was the last post.) So the bags were put on hold in order to work on other projects.

Officially as of this morning, the bags are finished!

I took a few process photos along the way, but mostly followed the pattern. Of course you read that right. I said MOSTLY followed.... True confession time...I am a Pocket NUT...I want pockets and lots of pockets in my bags. A girl never knows just what she may need to have a special place for.
Anyway, I added a pocket to the front of the bag(s) between the handles. I did it in matching fabric on the green bag, but used accent fabric on the pink bag. Why? Because this is how it looked best on each bag.
 When the fabric was originally purchased, my intent was to make the pink bag exactly like the green bag using the same fabrics for the main fabric, the accent fabric and the lining fabric; just in the pink color-way. But when my daughter (who will be the recipient of the pink bag) saw the fabrics, she asked me to switch the fabrics (if there was enough) because she liked the swirly vine fabric better than the flowery print for the main fabric.  There was enough to do this, so I made the change for her.

Here is a look at the top of the bags showing the zipper closure.
I like having the full zipper closure for the tops of the bag. Much less likely to loose things this way.

The original pattern only had one big divided side pocket inside. This shows a close-up of the pocket divisions and top stitching.

 It is divided into three sections, and is a big deep pocket unit. BUT....I wanted more. So I added a double layered pocket, with a zip closure and divided pockets, including a section for pens/pencils. I also included a key fob. The key fob is placed directly above one of the small divided pockets so if you wanted to, the keys could be kept in the pocket while on the key fob to prevent them from getting in the way.
I took other photos of the construction process, but since I didn't blog about this as it was constructed, it seems a mute point to post those now. It is just a lot better photo to show the inside pocket prior to construction than it is to try and stick the camera down inside the bag to get a look of the pocket units.

This is a really big bag measuring approximately 16 1/2 " wide by 12" tall. I referred to these a "purses", but when my  husband saw them he said they looked more like carry-on suitcases. Well, they aren't THAT big! My daughter calls this a "Mommy Bag". You know, big enough to hold everything you need when you have children, but no longer need a diaper bag. :-)

Well, that's it for today's project. Until next time...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The latest mystery quilt....

You can call me silly if you want, but I truly love to do mystery quilts. Why, you ask. Huh, beats me. Maybe it's the thrill of not knowing what lies ahead or what the finished quilt will look like. Maybe it's the laziness of just following along and not having to think a process through. Maybe it's just plain old curiosity. Whatever IT is , it's a lot of fun; at least for me.

So of course when the Connecting Threads Quilt With Us community came up with a Mystery Quilt - Quilt-Along in March, I was definitely in. But being the rebel I am, I of course chose to switch out the fabrics from the recommended color ways. Oh, here's the reasoning...hey, it was sound in my mind! The Mystery Quilt was to be throw size. I couldn't justify making a throw size quilt since I really didn't need one. And I couldn't justify making it just because I wanted to. HOWEVER....a throw size quilt is the perfect size for a Toddler Bed and one of my little granddaughters just happened to have one. AND, since she had so many other quilts given to her at her birth, I didn't make her one of my "tummy time" quilts. My daughter suggested I just wait and make one to fit her bed later. SO....you see where this is going right? I chose fabrics in her favorite colors Pink and Purple and her room theme...Fairies.
After a visit to Quilts and Quilts in Branson, MO here is the fabric of choice:
Although there is a lot of blue in the background of the Fairy fabric, it is covered in pinks and purples so the other fabrics did a great job of "pulling" the purples forward.

I managed to put all other sewing aside and keep up with this quilt-along....REALLY not sure how that managed to happen! Step 1 was easy and straight forward. I did Fussy Cut the little flower corners in the 4 patch block just to make sure they were pretty.

Step 2 was quick and easy as well. Isn't this a pretty block?
Final assembly put it all together to look like this:
The photo looks a lot more Yellow than the real quilt top. Oh, and just before I clicked to take this photo, Murphy dog decided to walk across it. I didn't see the wrinkle he created until after it was uploaded. Too lazy to put the top back down and retake the pic. I have wrinkles, so the quilt in this picture can also!
Originally I had purchased enough Fairy fabric to back the quilt. But after looking closely at it for awhile, I decided it was just too blue for my granddaughter's room. Her room, although themed in fairies and pink and purple being her favorite colors, is painted lime green. So, I decided to attempt to remedy the 'too blue' effect and piece the back of the quilt as well. Just made some changes on the fabrics and placement. Here is what I came up with and the label. This is the quilt back after being finished: 
For some reason the dark purple in the photo looks almost black. It is not. It is a very beautiful plum/purple fabric.
There was enough of the Fairy fabric and purples left over to make a matching pillow case. Here is the front of the quilt with the pillow case.

Just hope my granddaughter likes this quilt. It definitely was a lot of fun to make. 
If you have never participated in a Mystery Quilt, consider giving it a try. And if you are not familiar with the Quilt With Us forum, come on over and look around. It's free to join and a lot of good sub-groups for all of your quilting interests and skills.
I'm also working on a couple of bags that need to get finished up this week. Hoping to make that the next post.
In the mean time...it's starting to warm up, things are turning green...did I say GREEN...you know that THE color for 2013 is Emerald Green don't you?  That indicates it is time to start up "the Garden Variety Inspiration"  segment again. Yes, I was out taking photos today and they are mostly Green.  Hope this gives you some nudge or urge to go create some thing pretty....enjoy the photos, but look at colors in nature and shadows and contrasts.

Until next time, be creative and make something beautiful!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just some other sewing stuff........

A few weeks ago it became apparent that the sewing room had to be cleaned up and the fabrics re-sorted and scraps given a new storage home. So, in an 'overachiever' moment I started by tackeling the scraps. If you remember in a blog right before Christmas last year, I posted a quilt made for my son-in-law to be used as a beach blanket. That quilt with the exception of the backing, binding and a few strips was made up entirely from leftover pieces from his son's tummy time quilts and some fabrics from my ever dwindling stash. I really though that that project would us up all of my scraps, but it didn't. If anything it just created more...just smaller. So, in this sorting frenzy, I taped plastic grocery store bags to my sewing table, labled each by color and started stuffing!
Yes, there is a lot of scrap there! AND at the time this photo was taken, I still had a ways to go.
Just for the record, these are small scraps to be used for mostly string blocks. If a piece was big enough to be a 'strip' or a 'charm' it went into a different container.
After I managed to get all of this sorted, the real delima became obvious. WHAT on earth was I going to store these in????? There were no available storage bins and run to the store was out of the question. (It's 40 miles one way to anyplace that would have storage bins.)  So, being a semi resourceful person, I decided to use what was available. I had been given some of the heavy zipper bags that sheets and bath mats, etc come in. And I had a huge one that my king sized sheets had come in. These worked out great. It's still a temporary arrangement, but I'm liking it. This little goodie is setting under my cutting table and easy to add small scraps to. Being clear plastic, the color of fabric in the bags is immediately visible.
Now I just need to make a scrappy string quilt!

The rest of my stash got organized by color and placed in other containers.
Here's my FQ stash:
The quantity is pathetic...I need to go shopping. Some of these pieces aren't even full FQ's. There is another container like this full of 'novelty' fabrics. For example, all of the fruit motif fabric, and fish motif fabric....that sort of thing. I also have another container like this full of 'craft' supplies. Strange things like felt, canvas fabric, etc. And another one with stabilizers and battings.

Just thought I would share my wild and crazy organization frenzy with you!
Have a sew great day!

Tying Up Loose Ends and Creating More

Ok, ok, I know if you have a blog, you should post to it...regularly. Shame on me for being such a slacker. I have lots of excuses, but very few reasons. I did spend some extra time visiting family after Christmas, but that doesn't explain the rest of the time lapse. And last week the computer system was down for 6 whole days, but again that's only one measley little week out of ...well, way too many.
So here we go trying to catch up.....

There has been quite a bit of sewing going on around here.

The Easy Street Mystery Quilt top is now complete. Unfortunately, it didn't get this finished in time to make the last linkup post.  I love this quilt. Just haven't found backing for it yet. It is large enough to fit the queen size guest bed, so that is it's anticipated home once it's quilted. I think my last blog post had it only through Clue/Part 4. Part 5 was easy....love that Bonnie called these "flying Turkeys" instead of geese.

The above photo is of both Step 5 and 6. Since it was my choice to use only one background fabric and make this a "not so scrappy" quilt, there wasn't any sewing involved in Step 6. Just cutting. Easy!

Step 7 consisted of assembling some of the previously constructed units and piecing triangle setting units of which some how I managed NOT to get any photos.

Step 8 was final construction of the blocks. Block A had corner units that lent themselves to assembly line type constuction. So to help expedite the blocks, I pre-assembled these units as in the photo below. Stacked them up in the direction they needed to be used and they were ready to go in each block. Just had to be careful to pull from the right stack as I went. It worked out great.

Since it was my choice to NOT go very scrappy on this quilt, the final assemble required a lot of pre-planning and thought to get the limited color pallet to work....well, I like the term "play nicely together" better than work out. So, for a couple of days, I took over the living room floor (because it was the only space large enough) and played around with laying out the blocks so the colors were spread out fairly evenly throughout the quilt. It was a lot of extra work, but came out great in the end. The photo below is one block stacked as it was to be assembled. I separated each block with a piece of pink printer paper so they wouldn't get mixed up.

 The next picture is one of my "organized chaos" putting the blocks together.
 One thing for sure, getting so far behind in the mystery, I negelected to get as many photos of each step as previously.

Once all the blocks were assembled, the rows went together quickly. And here is the final product!

I added a narrow gray border, an narrow teal border and then a narrow gray border again. This is all the fabric I had left to work with, or I would have made the borders a little wider. It looks a lot better in real life than in this photo. I do have enough of one of the teals to do the binding once it is quilted.

Again, thanks to  Bonnie Hunter for doing the mystery quilt. I thoroughly enjoy doing these. Assuming there will be another mystery quilt this year, I just really really hope I can get through it without delays or interruptions.

Right now I'm working on two bags/totes/purses....whatever you want to call them and some other little items as well as the mystery quilt being sponsored by Connecting Threads. More on that in another blog.

Until next time....