Wonky Teacups and Wild Colors

The countdown continues!

Finish number eight was this year’s camp quilt project. As I have mentioned, each summer, I take all the stuff for one major project to camp, so I don’t have to schlep it back and forth every weekend. For this summer’s project, I chose Wonky Teacups, which I started over ten years ago. The pattern (actual title “We’re allowed ten minutes for tea”) is by Australian pattern and fabric designer Jan Mullen, and it’s available on patternspot.com. Funky, wild, bright – what’s not to love?!

dsc00751Way back when, I had made just a few of the many cups, plates and jugs, and had amassed a sizable stash of the loudest geometric prints I could find. The piecing is improvisational, and totally forgiving – perfect for the casual attitude I take when camp-quilting! It was lots of fun watching it take shape as more and more sections began to fill up the design wall in my tiny camp sewing nook.

As soon as it was done, off it went to my friend Linda, a longarm quilter. She used an edge-to-edge design that looks like steam rising from the cups – a great choice!

And now it is hanging in my studio, in place of the useless and annoying sliding closet doors. Turns out it was the perfect size, and could not have fit better if I had planned it that way!

And number nine got finished while I was on a retreat with some friends at East Hill Farm In Troy, NH, overlooking Mount Monadnock. The view was great, still showing some color after a glorious foliage season.monadnock

This project was the 2013 block-of-the-month from my favorite LQS, Quilted Threads in Henniker, NH. I had done 11 of the 12 blocks. After deciding how I wanted to do sashing and borders (NOT following the pattern, of course…), I found that I needed more of the background fabric – and thank goodness, my LQS came through for me! YAY!!

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The background is actually a deep eggplant purple. Not  a great photo, but you get the idea. It sets off the bright, saturated colors in the blocks beautifully, and is so much more interesting than plain old black would have been. And it’s just a “flimsie” – an unquilted top – because that’s as far as I planned to go with it for now. So while it’s not DONE-done, I’m calling it a UFO finish-for-now. My goal, my rules, so don’t judge, OK?

Now, I’m not kidding myself. I’m not going to get three more UFOs done between now and New Year’s. My goal of twelve was rather ambitious. But I might make one more happen, for a nice even ten – a round and healthy number that I can be proud of.

Did any of you set a goal like mine? If you did, leave a comment and let me know how you are progressing. Sharing our intentions and our successes is good for us all!

Thanks for stopping by – Happy stitching!

Lucky Seven

Finish number seven is in the books! I actually completed it about a month ago, and I had hoped to be farther along toward my goal of twelve finishes by now, but you all know how it is. I’m still way ahead of where I was at the beginning of the year in terms of the UFO pile!

So here is “Hug Your Sister,” all quilted and bound.

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This started out as a “camp project” in the summer of 2013  (you can read all about it here.) No pattern, I just made it up as I went along, in casual camp-sewing mode, which was fine. However, when it resurfaced after being set aside for several months, it was clear to me that I needed to rework the center.

Here’s the “before…”

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And the “during“…this was a little scary.

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And the “after” – better, right?

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Once the center was fixed, I tackled machine quilting it. I’ve done a fair amount of free motion quilting, but it was just not clicking for me on this one. I tried different threads, needles, tension, you name it – just not working, so it got set aside again. Humbug.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I learned that there is a new foot for my trusty Pfaff that has turned out to be the answer to my prayers. It’s a spring-action free-motion quilting foot with a C-shaped end, allowing a wide-open view of the needle area. WAY better than the other feet I had tried! The hopping action puts just the right amount of pressure where I need it, controls the tension perfectly, and I can see what I’m doing – what a concept!

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I’m so glad that my favorite sewing machine dealer (Nashua Sew and Vac) had it in stock. This, my friends, is why we all need to support our local businesses – machine dealers, quilt shops, etc.  We gotta keep them around so they’ll be there when we need them!

So how did this quilt get its name? The new center block is called “Sister’s Choice,” and I like to think of each round as “hugging” the center. Hokey? Maybe. But as someone who has only brothers (whom I love), I would have loved to have a sister. Lucky for me, I have a couple BFFs (you know who you are) who stand in very well as surrogate sisters,

So if you are lucky enough to have a sister, give her a big hug today, tell her you love her, then get back to work on those UFOs.

Happy stitching! Finishes eight and nine are coming very soon, so stay tuned ;>)

 

Yes, I’m still sewing! My journal is proof!

Remember when I proclaimed my goal of 12 UFO completions this year? And my plan to keep a sewing successes journal, and to blog monthly? And how I was doing really well moving toward those goals for the first half of the year?

Yeah, me too. So what happened?! Nothing since June? Not exactly. Not many UFO completions, but plenty of other sewing, as it turns out, and the journal part of the goal provided the proof! Thanks to my journal, I was able to see just how much I have accomplished, even if not in terms of UFOs, which makes me feel a whole lot better about where the summer went.

Here’s a summary:

  1. New drapes for my living room, made by cutting down and re-purposing the ones we had in our previous home. I still love this fabric, and I saved a fortune. Have you priced window treatments lately? Scary!dsc00742
  2. Tote bag for my BFF’s birthday. Sorry, I didn’t get a pic before I gave it to her, but it was a favorite pattern, the Fat Quarter Scrappysack. I’ve made this same bag for her several times, she uses them till they wear out, and then I make her another one!
  3. Hand sewing, all summer long. I am continuing to work on my latest EPP project, La Passacaglia. It won’t be done for a long time, but here’s a littler teaser:
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  4. And this random act of EPP, a scrappy little hexie thing. Not sure just what it will become, but it was easy, mindless, and gave my brain a rest from the focus required for La Pass (see above…)
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  5. Splendid Sampler – I fell behind briefly, but I am now proud to say I am all caught up, all 67 blocks to date, plus a few bonus blocks. For more about this 100-block year-long project, run by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson, go to splendidsampler.com.
    If this is the first you’ve heard about the project, where you been, gurl?? The Splendid Sampler facebook group has over 23,000 members – it’s free, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to stretch your skills.dsc00745
  6. Studio improvements. Just yesterday I made a cute new set of valances for the studio windows, to replace the world’s most hideous curtains (left by the previous owners, and only marginally better than nothing). dsc00740We’ve been here for a year, so that job was long overdue! Along with some re-arranging of tables and cleaning up, my studio space gets more comfortable and functional all the time.

There’s been a couple other projects in the works, including machine quilting a piece that I set aside some time ago, and finishing the piecing on a wild UFO from at least 10 years ago. More on those when they are really done – they are in line for finishes #7 and #8.

The take-away from all this? Just because I didn’t make progress toward a specific goal, that doesn’t mean I failed – I just progressed toward different ones. And honestly, the record of my achievements in that little journal was just what I needed to feel better about it all!

Happy stitching!

 

 

Halfway there!

At the beginning of the year I declared my intention to complete twelve UFOs this year. Well, the year is half over, and I’m halfway to my goal – YAY!

Here is a recap of my finishes so far:

And here is finish number SIX – TA-DAAAAH!!

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It’s another old one (at least ten years). The vegetables are pieced, NOT appliqued, using patterns and methods from Ruth B. McDowell’s book, Pieced Vegetables. I had begun to machine-quilt it way back when I made it, and as usual, that’s where I got derailed.

Much of this finishing-of-UFOs experience has been about biting the bullet and tackling the part of the job that I don’t enjoy so much. While I’m not thrilled with the quality of my free-motion quilting, the only way it’s ever going to improve is through practice. Fortunately, with matching thread, it doesn’t show up very much on the busy background.

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And the satisfaction of completing a project is pretty sweet. This will look really nice in the kitchen, especially after it’s painted with a fresh coat of Leaf Bud green, don’t you think?

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What shall I tackle next? Off to choose number seven!

A Touch of Insanity, for finish #5

I am addicted to English Paper Piecing. There, I said it. Over the past few years, this hand-piecing technique has become such a part of my quilting life that I simply cannot be without an EPP project in the works. That said, I have tried, and mostly succeeded, in limiting myself to one major EPP project at a time. Here are some of my projects so far.

First was “Hooked on Hexies.”  This was one year in the making, from June 2012 to June 2013. It has over 100 different hexagons, each made up of smaller units – the easiest one had only 4 pieces, the hardest one, 54. The designs came from an online quilt-along. All scraps from my stash, except for the pale green setting triangles and border. This is how addiction starts…

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As soon as it was done, I tackled “Lucy Boston’s Patchwork of the Crosses,” or POTC for short. Each block includes some fussy-cutting, which I LOVE. This one took longer, more like two years, to complete, mostly because of other projects and life events causing delays. It isn’t quilted yet, but I consider it done-for-now (until I figure out how I want it quilted).

fullI really tried to make myself wait to start the next one till POTC was done, but I confess, there was some overlap as I began “Touch of Insanity,” which is finish #5 for 2016.

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This was inspired by “The Insanity Quilt” by Rhonda Pearce, an Australian quilter whose masterpiece is shown on the cover of this magazine.

mag coverThere is now a whole community of EPP fanatics like me making thousands of tiny hexagons (each one is about the size of a nickel).

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My quilt has 3467 of these babies, compared to over 10,000 in Rhonda’s. I’m such a light-weight…

This project went everywhere with me  from September of 2014 till last month. One of the best things about EPP is its portability. Here it is  keeping me entertained while I wait for an oil change:

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Here it is on the airplane, on my way to Houston last fall:
airplaneSo many hexies…

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Making double diamond units

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Planning the layout:

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Pulling out papers while waiting in the car:
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Love this “confetti” border!

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I struggled with the final border, and finally settled on a couple rounds of larger hexagons to finish it off. More work than I had planned on, but worth it.

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So the top is done, but not quilted yet. Like POTC, this goes in the done-for-now category, until a quilting plan is in place, and therefore qualifies as finish #5 for 2016 – YAY!!!

Which also means that I can start my next EPP project – one that I have been itching to do since I first laid eyes on it. “La Passcaglia,” by Willyne Hammerstein, shown on the cover of her book, “Millefiori Quilts.” I expect to enjoy this journey into insanity for many months to come! cover-Millefioiri-250