Saturday, March 28, 2009

Courthouse Steps Quilt Blocks

I've been making Courthouse Steps blocks... my centers are 2" and the strips are cut 1 1/2" . So far I've made 25. There is no rhyme or reason for the fabric I am using... just yellow on the outside, darks toward the edges and lights inside. Every fabric is different except a few of the yellows I've had to repeat. The contrast will be subtle... and I am interested to see how it will come out. The ones that are safety pinned together are already squared up.

To keep track I glued my fabric to a copy of the paper pattern. Little, itty, bitty snippets of fabric - just to help me stay organized. Because with courthouse steps - you need to pay attention. I always sew in the same order - left/right first and then top/bottom. By sewing 4-5 blocks at a time chain piecing goes fairly fast without having to keep track of a huge pile of different strips. I used a pen to block out squares and "X" through them as I made them, but it is hard to see...

The more blocks I made, the harder it got to see exactly what I had made. So, I photocopied my fabric collage and then colored out the blocks already made. I discovered I had made 1 more after I took this photo. I can cross reference the 2 different papers to see what still needs to be pieced. As you can see by all the blacked out squares... I am a little more than 1/2 way done!
All in all, I think this has been a good method for keeping track of my blocks without keeping my blocks all over the floor (and I don't have a design wall). I am also using up an odd assortment of older fabrics, but it has occurred to me - I sure would use up some of these fabrics faster if I could pick a pattern that used bigger pieces. All these small strips and ironing are time consuming! But I can't help myself, I really like designs that are made from small pieces.

UPDATE:  This post gets alot of traffic so I thought I would post a follow-up photo here of my top once it was pieced together:
This is a fun pattern, but next time I make it I will be using slightly larger strips/centers to make up a little bigger but without taking forever!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Isn't this the neatest zig zag fence? I like craftsmanship of all kinds and often take quick snapshots of things I see as I travel along my way. This particular fence is walking distance from my house and I want to go back and take more photos - especially of the corner. But the particular day I took this photo - my son and I were out riding bikes and this is what I captured as we zoomed by.
So, what does the fence have to do about my blog post Over-Inspired? Well, because I think that I have been over-inspired lately and somehow that makes me feel a bit fenced in. There is a danger in subscribing to many blogs and clicking through, click, click, click just to quickly see what others are up to. Ohhhh, so many pretty things. Great designs. Beautiful fabrics. When I see many all at once I tend to overlook the fact that what I'm seeing takes many hours to create. For me, it just gets me to thinking I should make that. Maybe my project isn't so nice afterall. Why don't I have those fabrics? Or too many magazines. Or too many pattern books. And somehow, all that combined together sort-ov fences me in. The fence brings me up short, stops me cold. And somehow leaves me feeling a bit blue instead of excited about my wonderful world of quilting and sewing.
Keeping a running tally helps me realize that I AM creating, on my own schedule, on my own time-line. This winter I really have not made alot of personal projects, most of the sewing that I have done is for the group quilt. I made myself a top that I love, a dress, pants for my son, stuffed animals, knit some socks for my son, a dishcloth and a few other odds and ends. Quilt blocks... because I like to make blocks more than any other aspect of quilting. And have 2 tops up to the border stage. When you add it all up, it does amount to something! In the meantime, I spend extra time with my son, my beginner reader, my excited learner! Homework, playtime, just normal household stuff, plus work. And then I am tired and the day is over. Just like everyone else.
So, I continue onward. However, I am REALLY limiting myself to the amount of time I spend dreaming/thinking/planning over a pattern or project. I am limiting myself to just 5 quilt blogs for the month. Five. I can't let myself get over-inspired and then getting the feeling that somehow I am at loose ends with my own stuff. So, I am sewing. My sewing machine has been humming along. I am not so sure that I love what I am making, but I am committed to finishing it. As each piece comes along, I am starting to like it a bit more. And am inspired to make just one more block before I quit for the day. Nothing wrong by being inspired by my own work, and since it is mine, I am not over-inspired! Phew!
Does ANY of this post make ANY sense to ANY one else???

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Group Quilt Progress

Last week my quilt group put our top on the frame - I didn't really help as only so many people can stand and hold the edges... so I took a photo!

The day before I left on vacation 3 of us got together to make the corner blocks, well - what a project! In 3 hours the 3 of us got 1 done (the block is paper pieced and then later was reverse appliqued into the border). M. did the other 3 and she told me that it took her 30 hours, plus she seriously strained her eye - ouch. So, we all learned how time consuming small paper pieced blocks can be! I wish I could have helped more with these corner blocks, but we had only decided in the meeting before to make them, so I did what I could before leaving.
Quilt group meets again today... the hand quilting can now begin. We are about 2 weeks behind schedule (we had several snow days this winter), but this quilt will be faster to quilt than last years so I think we are just perfect, timing wise.

I am not sure how much quilting I will do as my hands/fingers hurt from the cold weather. We are discussing starting another smaller quilt to raffle for funds for our group, so I will probably just bring my cutting stuff and sewing machine today to work on that. Last year our main quilt raised $6,000 for Rotary (!!!) and our smaller quilt raised mid $300s (can't remember the exact amount) for our own group. Our group pays the church where we meet (to help cover the high cost of utilities) and we have other small expenses, so we were very pleased last year with our small raffle quilt!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

March break

SB had a week off of school so we made tracks south to see the family! The trip was too short - it takes us 2 days each way of travel and we stayed 3 days, but we will take what we can get. While we didn't get to see everyone, we did see lots of people (including 1 sweet new arrival to the family), so that was good. SB was in animal heaven as he got to see many of the family dogs - 2 Chesapeake Bay retrievers, 2 golden retrievers, 1 yellow lab and 1 chiwawa, plus 2 cats!
On the way back we went to Boston to the Museum of Science - there's SB standing outside at the museum. We had to take the T because I somehow missed the museum and couldn't figure out how to get back to it, but I do know how to take the T... so we parked somewhere else and hopped the T. SB is still free and I think my ride was $2 each way - definitely a great value to save the stress of being lost in the city! SB was thrilled to go on the T anyway so it was all part of our big adventure.
The museum has a great exhibit of frogs right now - from all over the world. Each species of frog is in their own habitat display case and it was really easy for kids to see the frogs. Here is a photo of just one - I swear some of them looked like plastic, some looked like leaves, some looked like moss.... it was really fun to see and we spent a fair amount of time there. We also went to the dinosaur exhibit, the wild animal exhibit, the mythical creatures exhibit and the model exhibit. Of course there were tons of exhibits that we didn't see - you could easily spend days at the museum. We got our passes for only $5 each through our local library! Plus, we got tickets for the Omni theater - a documentary about the Amazon (it was SB's very first time in a movie theater!).

We went bowling with my sister and her son. SB's 1st time bowling - and he really enjoyed it!

And we borrowed some sleds and took advantage of the snow. Because let's face it - if you have to shovel it - you might as well play in it too!

Oh, and we went to Wal-Mart and got SB some Lego's!. As I was driving (and driving and driving and driving) yesterday, I got to thinking... we live 3 hours from the nearest Wal-Mart. Next time I move, I want to be within 20 minutes to a Wal-Mart. NOT that I am a huge shopper, but I'm just saying...
So - that is what we've been up to for the past week.