Sunday, October 26, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Entry: Triangles on Parade

Can't believe how fast this year has gone and that the Blogger's Quilt Festival, hosted by Amy at Amy's Creative Side, is already here. I didn't think I would be entering anything this year but I'm just so proud of my Triangles on Parade quilt that I decided to enter it into the Modern Quilts category. I had such a fun time working on this quilt. I love how the unusual layout and white rows really gives it a modern look. Plus the quilting in the white really makes the negative space triangles really pop.

I hope you like it too. You can read more this quilt here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Worker Bees Needed!

Looking for a fun online bee to join for next year? Why not join the 2015 Stash Bee! Stash Bee consists of multiple hives, each containing 11 hive members and running for 11 months (January-November). All hive members create blocks from their own fabric stash and are not required to buy specific fabric to complete the block. This is a bee that is open to all levels of quilters and is international friendly with each hive having a few non-US members.

 You can find out more info at the Stash Bee website or click here to sign up. Sounds like a lot of fun and I hope you'll consider joining too. Who knows, we might end up in the same hive!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Random Catch-up

How is it possible that I've gone 2 weeks without blogging? I kept meaning to, and would have the beginnings of posts forming in my head but I just never got around to composing them. Guess I should catch you up.

I've made lots of progress on my accuracy quilt and I'm over half done. A feather variation has been the underlying theme, being quilted on all of the triangular spaces. For some reason, I've decided to not quilt most of the white fabric, opting to stitch-in-the-ditch so that it will pop more, especially the pin wheels. That decision involved picking out a large section which I had previously quilted. Here are a few close-ups.

I'm looking forward to getting back to working on this quilt and possibly finishing it this weekend. I've been helping a friend with a secret sewing project so this was put on the back burner. Now that her project is done, I can get back to my quilt. As soon as I'm able, I'll share more about that other project.

There's been lots of family stuff going on as well like school, potty-training, volunteering, and trips to Walt Disney World. I'm also starting back to work on a limited part-time basis but it's still a bit intimidating to me after being out of the work-force for 5 years.

Lastly, I've become engrossed in a book. It's been a LONG time since I've read a book that grabs me from the first few pages and makes it hard for me to put down. I know it's good when I'd rather be reading instead of sewing. The book is Divergent by Veronica Roth. About a month ago, I saw a movie trailer for it (apparently it was released in March 2014 but I don't get to the movies very much). Something about it intrigued me and when it said it was based on the best-selling novel I decided to add it to my kindle queue. I started reading it this past weekend and I'm really enjoying it. And with that, enough blogging - I need to get back to my book!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

"One Little Spark..."

"...of inspiration, is at the heart of all creation."  That is the theme song to my son's favorite ride at Epcot, Journey into Imagination. It's a really dated ride and makes me want to jab sharp objects into my ears, but I tolerate it since it brings my son so much joy.

And the song had the ring of truth for me this week when trying to find my sewing groove. I don't need to have all the answers and know exactly what I'm going to quilt everywhere. I just needed a little something to get my creative process flowing. And it came in the unlikely form of mundane office supplies - sheet protectors and markers. But not just any markers though, they're my son's Crayola window markers. They dry fast and come off with the wipe of a damp paper towel (or even the scratch of a finger nail). I took pictures of the individual blocks, enlarged them onto a word document and now I have an easy way to test out different designs.

I still don't have it all figured out but that's okay. It was enough to get me back at the sewing machine.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Hey You! Give Me Back My Mojo!

I don't know where it went but I've officially misplaced my sewing mojo. Either that or someone stole it when I wasn't looking. I have various projects that I need to finish up and new ones that need to be started but I'm just in a sewing rut. When school started up again, I couldn't get into my sewing room fast enough. Maybe I went at it too hard. I don't know. It's not that I don't want to sew but I keep hitting little roadblocks, and then a lack of motivation sets in. I'm not sure how to quilt my A4A top, I've run out of my sashing fabric for my pinwheel quilt, and I don't want to start another large project until I finish at least one of these first.

Also, Halloween is fast approaching and that means I need to work on a costume for my son. Given some of his sensory issues, he won't wear a costume if it feels too much like a costume. Plus, I much prefer the idea of making a costume than just buying one off the rack of a discount store. Last year he went as a pirate and the year before that he was a sheep. That sheep costume is still my favorite (you should have seen that adorable tail in the back!).

This year he wants to be Kermit the Frog. It actually should be a pretty easy project consisting mainly of a green sweatshirt, green pants, and some crafty accessories. I've got 90% of what I need already so hopefully my mojo will come back just long enough for me to put it all together.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Queen For A Day

It's October and that means it's my turn to be queen for our Compass Quilters Bee. I've been looking forward to this day for weeks! It was challenging trying to decide on just one block for everyone to make. I struggle with really scrappy quilts, but in order to accommodate everyone's varying stash and access to fabrics, scrappier is definitely the way to go. That's why I gravitated to a string block. There are so many fun string block variations but what I like about this style of block is that you can add in a solid color stripe to give it some uniformity. So my fellow worker bees, your task is to make 2 blocks like this:

This block is 11.5" square and is made up of 4 smaller blocks, each 6 inches square. So for 2 finished 11.5"blocks you'll be making a total of 8 strip blocks. Fabric requests include the center strip to be white, whatever white you have access to is fine (white on white print is also okay if that is all you have). For the other strips, I love polka dots and geometric prints so those are always safe bets. As for colors, it's up to you but I noticed that I kept gravitating toward pinks, greens, and blues.

Now that you know what you'll be making, let's focus on the how-to. Because I want the center to be a specific width, the easiest way I found to accomplish this is to use a foundation paper piece. You can either create your own or use the downloadable PDF.

Supplies Needed:
  • paper, cut into a 6" x 6" square (or use this pattern template, available here)
  • 1 strip of white fabric cut to 1.5" wide and about 9" long
  • various strips of colored/print fabric, varying widths and lengths (I used 6 strips for each block)
1. If you're using the download, please be sure to print it at 100%, not scale to fit. I couldn't figure out how to add one of those scale squares so just measure the square to make sure it is 6"x6" and that the diagonal line is 1" away from the corners.

If you opt to make your own, you need to mark your diagonal lines on your 6"x6" paper. Do this by measuring out 1-inch from the right of one corner. Do the same to the opposite corner and draw a line like so:

You will line the edges of your fabrics up with this line. It is not your actual sewing line.

2. Now place your white strip down on the paper, lining it up with the line and covering the diagonal points. Place a colored strip on top of the white, with right sides together. Pin in place. Adjust your stitch length on your machine so that it is smaller since you'll need to rip off the paper later. Mine was set to 1.4.  Sew a quarter-inch seam along the edge of the strips.

3. Press away from the center, toward the colored strip.
4. You will continue to add strips until this side of the square is covered by fabric. You can sew right over the paper if you choose, just like paper-piecing, but I preferred to fold the paper back out of the way before I sewed my next strip, like so:

Keep adding fabric strips, remember to trim any excess from your quarter-inch seam allowance before pressing.

5. Once one side is completely covering the paper, you need to add colored strips to the other side of your white strip, using the same method from steps 2-4.

6. Once the paper square is completely covered, it's time to trim down your block. Flip it over so that the paper is on top. Using it as a guide, trim your block down to 6" x 6" square.

7. Tear away your paper, and voilĂ  - a cute finished block!

8. Make 3 more blocks, using the steps above.

Assemble Your Finished 11.5" Square Block
Once you have 4 of the string blocks arrange them so that the white strips form a square and sew together. I found that pressing these seams open helped to reduce bulk.

And that's it! Despite all of the pictures, and the lengthy instructions these really do come together quickly, especially if you have your strips already cut out and ready to go. If this technique is new to you, a great video resource is Craftsy's 2012 Block of the Month class (it's free!). It's taught by Amy Gibson and she does a fantastic job of showing you this technique in lesson 5. Just note that for the first block in this lesson, she uses a fabric foundation piece, making it 2 layers, whereas I'm having you use paper that will be torn away. Have fun and if you have any questions let me know. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Here is my 2nd block.