Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A New Project!

Here is a photo of a new project... all using "surprise" internet fabric.

OK, what is "surprise" internet fabric - well, something that I probably would not have purchase in person. But, now I have it, so I am going to use it, by golly!

First, the green spiral fabric is really super nice, just didn't match my Trip Around the World, ala Bonnie (www.quiltville.com). The original intent for this fabric was borders so I actually have a fair amount of it. Sometimes it is a good thing to have a fair amount of fabric on hand - it gives you options! And the neutrals - mostly fat quarters. I ordered a whole bunch of neutral fat quarters from Keepsake. They are nice, I just didn't realize how many were coming. And then I was looking at them and thinking... now what? I mean, they don't make my heart go pitter/patter like some prints do, but let's face it - you need neutrals! Add some darker Thimbleberries to the mix for contrast and a few odds and ends of other medium/light tans (at least 1 -maybe 2 or 3 "uglies" in that bunch for good measure) and 2 pinks for a bit of color.

I am actually very pleased that I was able to use so many fat quarters for this project for variety - my new favorite cut of fabric! I never bought fat quarters before because I never felt like they were a good value. But I have found that they are a wonderful way to add to your stash and they are soooo usable!!! Fabric can't be a good value if you don't use it, so I would rather spend a little extra up front and use it.

So, all cut and ready to go! I can't wait to show you what is up my sleeve - I think I am really going to love this pattern and fabric combination and already know exactly who the finished quilt is going to, which makes it even more fun for me. And no - it is NOT going to some fickle Little Boy we all know!
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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cars, Stars and Fickle Little Boys

One thing about my Little Boy - he loves trucks (and trains). So, when he saw this truck fabric, he had to have it. OK, fine - I bought a yard and have been wondering now for the past few months what to do with it. This isn't some piece of fabric I still want in my stash when he is 18 years old!

So, this past week my project was to pull together some co-ordinating fabrics and make a quilt top for Little Boy using this much fondled piece of truck fabric and decide upon a pattern. And guess what? I actually have fabric in my small winter stash that I think goes together pretty well! The background is a light green marble, the orange is a bright marble and those red stars are from Moda. Deciding upon a pattern - well sometimes, I think that my big hang-up is just picking a pattern and getting started!

I have a new Wonder Cut ruler. I paid $17 for it and it was still in the plastic wrapper. When I bought the ruler, I also got the book that goes with it. The cover quilt (Spinning Stars - 60X74 once you add the borders) looks like the perfect pattern to showcase the trucks. What isn't to love about this pattern? Most everyone I know likes stars. The center is a perfect spot to showcase a novelty or a large floral, red work, embroidery, what have you? Here is a close up of one of the stars... isn't it cute!

Now, the Wonder Cut ruler technique is new to me. I don't really like new techniques. I stew and sputter over the directions and mumble and grumble until I have it figured out. But, once I have it figured out - I suddenly LOVE my new technique. Now, I've got to ask you - what Momma of a 2 year old wouldn't love a pattern that you can put together - as much as you see in the layout photo - in about 5 hours? Honestly! It goes very fast... once you get used to the technique. I am cutting and sewing and dreaming of all the wonderful quilts I will make using this pattern (I have a BIG family and would love to manage to make everyone a quilt!). And Little Boy is as excited as can be about his new quilt. So everything is going along just great, right?

BUT - and this is a big but here, I go and buy the new McCall's Quick Quilts (March 2006) magazine. Yes, you can buy this magazine at the magazine store over here for 7.10 Euros. And true to his curious nature, Little Boy has to scrutinize anything new from cover to cover. And then he comes to the last page. AND THEN he sees his NEW DREAM QUILT. Anyone who has this magazine - go take a peek - of course it is a quilt with, not cars and trucks, but a tractors, dumptrucks, cement mixers, etc. novelty fabric. He wants that quilt. And gosh - look how much easier the pattern is (Spinning Stars is easy - it just has more pieces)! He doesn't want anything more to do with his new car/truck/star quilt. No thank you Momma (well, at least he is polite). Aaaggghhhh!!! So, if anyone has the back issue (Quick Quilts - March 2002) I would really, really appreciate it if we could swap for something, because very obviously, I need that pattern! And e-quilter.com has a similar fabric, phew!

And, hence the name of my post... Cars, Stars and Fickle Little Boys! He must have quilter's blood in him - how else do all us quilters end up with so many UFO's and WIP's? Don't we often jump around from pattern to pattern, from fabric to fabric? Oh well, maybe this car/truck Spinning Star quilt will become a gift for one of my many nephews!

Oh yes, and in case any of you are wondering why I post photo after photo of BLOCKS - I don't have my 15" square ruler here to square up the blocks and I don't want to set them until they are square. So, I am just chugging along making blocks and will have to square them up once I get back to the same continent as my ruler!

And - a photo of the cover of the book - Back to Basics The Wonder Cut Ruler Way by Alice Walter & Deb Hopkins. I highly recommend the ruler and the book - a great combo!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Last Chance II

Today I spent a bit of time burning CD's of the photos in my computer. It had to be done! If my computer ever crashed and I lost my photos - I would really be upset!

These are 2 photos from my summer vacation in July 2005. This is along the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. And yes, we had to try to remember to go back to the same spot to get our high tide/low tide photos! My girlfriend, her husband, their 2 daughters (ages 8 and 10), Little Boy and me all hit the Fundy Trail in an RV and had a BLAST! RVing is a wonderful way to vacation with kids - have kitchen and potty - will travel! Little Boy had the best time playing with the girls and missed them for days on end afterward.

You might not be able to read it, but the boat's name is Last Chance II. Do you suppose there will ever be a Last Chance III? Which number boat do you think will really be the Last Chance? This has got to be a guy's idea of a joke! Am I the only one who thinks this is funny?

Monday, January 23, 2006

3 Times A Charm

I don't know how I ended up with this quilt - it didn't start this way! Actually, it all started when I decided to "broaden my fabric horizons and try something new". Hence, I am now the proud owner of a bunch of fabrics that I just don't think go together. Finally, I decided I would make Bonnie's Scrappy Trips Around the World (charm #1), or maybe it was her Scrappy Bargello? Anyway, I got busy cutting. And then decided that I didn't have enough strips or variety, so guess what? I ordered MORE geometrics. But then I got tired of waiting for the order to arrive so I decided - hey! I should make Bonnie's Bricks and Stepping Stones (I think that is the name of the pattern) instead (charm #2).

I was pretty happy sewing 2 strips of fabric together. I was happy cutting those strips into sub-sections. Did I measure length and width before cutting to make sure my seams were 1/4" and I was cutting a square? No. So, now I have a bunch of squares that are not square. I really don't feel like cutting them down to size - I admit - I am lazy! My sewing time is at a premium and the thought of using my time to cut something 2X just isn't interesting to me.

Well, eventually I get this great idea to cut everything in 1/2 again to make 4 patch blocks and then sew 4 units together to get these rectangles. And I just happened to have the black sashing fabric... so a new quilt! 3 Times A Charm! Well, in progress anyway.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Setting/Border Options...

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The thing with chain sewing is that you sew and sew and sew and really have nothing to show for all your work until you put the last seams in and all of a sudden you have an entire quilt top!

Viola! 32 of the 35 blocks I have done so far...(I had to leave a spot for Little Boy to keep him entertained while I took the photos - he is actually waiting to jump all over those blocks and stretch any bias edge!) I have 4 more blocks almost done, but somewhere along the way I lost the little fabric connecting strips - so have to recut those. I would have had 1 more block too, but in a moment of distraction I cut a triangle wrong, so there went that block. Oops! And yes, I see that the 3rd block down on the far right is sewn wrong! I am not sure that I will bother to fix it - this is what sewing with a 2.5 year old is all about! Do you see that there are 2 construction trucks in the photo - given a "block" of honor?

So, these blocks are 10.5" and I am now at a point that I have to start thinking about my setting options. These are a few of the ideas I am considering and thought I would bounce it off you guys - how do you come up with your setting/border ideas anyway?

First idea is to use light beige 2.5 setting strips with various dark squares for cornerstones - this would make a scrappy nine-patch effect. in conjunction with the little corner squares in the blocks. Then a dark 4" border and then a checkerboard border using 2.5 light and dark squares and then another plain border (checkerboard would have to be 5 rows across to get the effect?). I am thinking this is my first choice, but I still have the following ideas...

Second idea - same as above, but skip the checkerboard border and just use a skinny border and then a wider border. BUT, I really would like to jazz up my borders a bit, so feel that this a bit of an easy way out. But then again, the top would be finished and I can go back to playing with my octagon flowers!

Third idea - 2 quilts... One with the checkerboard border, the other with a flying geese border. Because I think a flying geese border might be cool, but I am not sure I want to make a huge flying geese border, hence the 2 quilt idea. It would be easy enough to sew together some more of these blocks to get enough for 2 smaller quilts. Then again, if I am going to sew more blocks - maybe I should just spend the time making the flying geese border for a big quilt???

And that is all I can think of - I am just zoning out on this one here. So, if any of you SEE something different, please let me know! Of course, by the time I keep adding all these sashing and borders the quilt might be too big, so I will have to make 2 quilts anyway! I will have to think about the MATH very soon. Yuck!

The quilt top itself - I am really liking! The colors are a little darker than I was thinking, but that is what internet shopping for fabric is all about. I wish I had just a touch of dark purple to add, but I don't so that is the way it is. And, I am not completely sure I am going to keep the lightest blocks - you can see one on the bottom, but it is super light because of the flash - it really isn't that light. The original 4 blue ones are my favorites, so I might make a few more of those to add into the mix. The lighter ones I can always use in another quilt...

This way of thinking is precisely why I usually end up with 2 quilts every time I set out to make one!

Friday, January 13, 2006

An Early Quilt

In case you guys are wondering where I disappeared off to - well, my BIG box (30 pounds!) of fabrics arrived from the US on Tuesday!!! Judy, the box took 7-8 days to arrive, not sure the exact day my sister sent it. So, I've been washing, ironing and... sewing of course, Silly! Chain piecing actually, so I have no photo to post at this time unless you want to see the pile behind my sewing machine.

So, here is a photo of an early quilt - I made this one when I was 15 (it was my 2nd quilt). My Mom bought me this OLD "portable" sewing machine at a yard sale for about $10 - it weighed a TON and signed me up for this class. I loved every minute. Poor Dad had to lug that machine into the shop every week - too bad for him that the yard sale buy wasn't a Featherweight!

Anyway, the strips finish at 1.25" and each block is about... 10". The entire quilt is about 42X42. In case any of you are wondering - it is actually a pretty good size quilt for a crib quilt. It is tied with embroidery floss. There is a tiny bit of sun fading in areas, but all in all it is in very good shape! And yes, Jeanne - it is BLUE! Ummm - the lady at the quilt store asked me what color I wanted to make, I said blue, and she picked out the fabrics. After Mom died I got the quilt. This past summer Little Boy discovered it - in the closet - and promptly claimed it as his very own. We do not go anywhere without his "blue quilt", which is why I just happen to have it in Austria to take this photo. As a matter of fact, he was a bit distressed when I took it out of his bunk to take a photo! As soon as the photos were done he dragged it back into his room and put it back away. My biggest little quilt fan!
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Monday, January 09, 2006

Octagon Flowers

Honestly, Sam's Blog over at Mad Fabri-holic really should have a warning label! First she has me buying yarn and knitting up scarfs and now look - Octagon flowers. I was so excited about her current quilt in progress, even more excited that my eye right away saw that you could piece this quilt with no set in seams, that I started sewing all my 2.5 strips together. And here you have it - some octagon flowers - all sewn into 1/2 circles because I was going to sew them together in straight rows. Sigh - why is MATH (my least favorite subject) so prevalent in my favorite hobby (quilting)? I should have paid more attention in Geometry. Because, as you all can see... I used a 45 degree Kaleidoscope ruler and now have 8 sided octagons instead of the nifty 6 sided hexagons that Sam has.

The good news is that I can still avoid set-in seams by putting triangles on the bottom edges of each octagon. But I have an added design element of those setting squares. So, now the question is- what colors should I use them? I am thinking hour glasses 1/2 black and 1/2 ???

I'm having fun making these and already see some future projects using this pattern... I like the idea of using all the same fabric for dark outer circles and light middle circles and then the whirly gig in the middle. Or maybe just the same fabric for the middle circles. Perhaps smaller circles... The great thing about taking a photo of a quilt in progress is that you can look at it with a different perspective and start asking yourself - "What if...." questions.

Some more happy things about these octagon flowers (they are octagons, right?)...
1. They are BRIGHT, which is a good thing on yet another gray, rainy day.

2. I actually figured out what to do with all those fabrics that somehow ended up in my shopping cart every time I clicked the little mouse on my computer. Once they arrived I had to ask myself... "whatever was I thinking!!!". So, I am relieved that I am putting them to good use.

3. They are easy to make - all you need are a bunch of strips (width doesn't really matter, I just happened to have these already cut into 2.5") and the ruler.

4. Oh yeah, and I am actually using that ruler that I paid - oh I can't remember exactly, but something like $11.95 for. It is good to use what you have.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

City Details - Part 1

I like Picasa for posting photos to my blog, however, the program seems to only allow 1 photo per entry. So, this is a 3 part post just because I didn't feel like waiting forever to upload 3 photos into 1 post.

3 photos of little details I notice everywhere in the city.
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Lions are a popular theme and adorn many old public buildings...

City Details - part 2

A close-uup of one of the happy faces on either side of the window shown below. Posted by Picasa

City Details... Part 3

Posted by Picasa Now, imagine - an entire building with windows that look like this! Taken with a zoom lens.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Grandmother's Choice Blocks

I turned my Birds in the Air blocks into Grandmother's Choice blocks by adding the cross in the middle. They finish up at 10.5". In only 3 mini-sessions of sewing I was able to finish 8 blocks - got to be every toddler's Momma's dream! I THINK I might even have enough of that light tan fabric to do an entire top, and if not, I will use something similar. I am going to make 4 more blue blocks and 4 more brown blocks and then when my fabric comes in the mail - probably add a green and maroon to the mix. I like the blue-ness of the blue - makes it pop a bit. So far, so good. As you can tell, I am really pleased with this pattern - fast, fun, accurate, looks even a bit complicated (but it's not... ssshhhh - that's my secret!)
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Friday, January 06, 2006

Playing With Birds In The Air Blocks

I decided to play around making some Birds In The Air blocks this morning - and here are my results - 16 perfect little 4.5" blocks, using just 3 strips of fabric! I know it looks a bit boring with just 2 colors, so please imagine a scrappy effect for the settings... I am waiting for the mailman to bring me another big package of fabric and then I will have some more options!

And, now for the photos just so you can see just how easy it is...

First you cut 3 strips of fabric - 2 dark and 1 light (I used blue and tan). 1 dark strip you cut into squares and then sub-cut into triangles and set aside. Strip piece 1 light strip and 1 dark strip together. Sub-cut. Piece into off-centered 4 patches. Easy so far, right?

OK - I purposly leave off exact measurements here because I am recommending anyone who is interested to actually go buy the book - Scraps To You, Too by Debbie Cafrey. I used this book for my Broken Dishes quilt top I shared a few posts back, and following the directions - it came out so nicely! The book has lots of different setting options, ideas, block sketches, great patterns, inspiration, sewing tips for getting perfect points, info on math, etc. Also - there are directions for bigger blocks too if the 4.5" size seems tiny to you! I am happy to recommend this great technique from a wonderful designer, but am not giving her secrets away - she has to make a living after all!

Here you see the off-centered 4 patches before I make the diagonal cut to create the little triangles...

Ready to slice - see how those little triangles are made? I have a small piece of masking tape on the ruler from making my Broken Dishes quilt top, in which the blocks were slightly larger. I find that putting a little piece of tape for a marker is a great time saver by giving me an instant visual reference!

One more thing - I FLIP my cutting mat over to cut when I don't need the cutting lines - keeps the mat in better shape for a longer period of time!

Sew your big triangle that you set aside earlier to the one you just sliced and there you have it - a perfect little 4.5" block - a Birds In The Air block. Actually 16 of them because remember - we were strip piecing them.

Believe it or not, this is almost the same block I used on my Broken Dishes top which looks totally different due to a clever sashing treatment. On the Broken Dishes top the blue square is a 4 patch unit so there are a few more pieces to it, but same idea. You can also use this block as a basis for many other blocks - similar to Churn Dash, Grandmother's Choice, etc. Many different options are diagramed out in the book. I think I am going to go ahead and set some of these blocks into new block lay-outs and will post those photos when I get them done.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Christmas Scarf

Not much to report here today. The morning was spent sloshing through slop to go to an endless number of stores - no such thing as a Super Wal-Mart over here so you must go to 100 different stores in order to accomplish any shopping. I always find this frustrating! The good news is that I did manage to get almost everything on my list! I forgot my handy dandy shopping backpack so had to pay 25 cents at 2 different stores for the plastic bag to put my purchases in (so, 50 cents on bags when I have an entire draw full of bags at home).

To keep you entertained, I asked DH to snap this picture of me wearing the scarf I knitted up over my Christmas holiday. I really like it! I usually wear it wrapped around my neck, but have it down so you can see the length. I used 2 different yarns - one that went from chunky to skinny and back again with various colors - and a 2nd one that is furry seagreenish/teal. Let's see... 10 stitches, all knit and the needle size was 8 mm European (but I do tend to knit very loosely, especially when I am working with 2 yarns and 1 of them being furry to boot). I used almost 2 balls of the chunky/skinny yarn for the desired length and 1 ball of the other (more yardage on that ball, which was 90 meters/98 yards long). The chunky/skinny yarn says HOME/Soffia on the label and the fuzzy yarn is Lulu by Four Seasons just in case anyone is curious - had to type that in before I throw out the yarn wrappers!
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