Thursday, March 22, 2018

I "BEE" Ready

Last week I posted the table topper I made for my granddaughter Micah's First Birthday celebration and coupled with a few more things which I'll show later, I thought I was ready.  That is, until I happened to see the coasters I made using my Checkerboard Express pattern (you can read about the Checkerboard Express block and projects here) and thought that I could make some using some of the leftover fabrics and then a big "duh" hit me: I should have made the table topper like the one I made using Christmas fabrics.  So, I had to make another topper which is 24" with 8" blocks.  
Really, you would think that I would have remember this pattern when I was planning to make the table topper; it's only been at the most four months. What's also maddening is that prior to planning the topper, I was busy die-cutting hexagons for Micah's mom to make a photo backdrop and even though hexagons and octagons are two different shapes, you would think I would have had the idea that an octagon table topper would be more fitting for the party theme.  
Here's a photo of the first table topper after I finally finished it; nice and rectangular. I like to think that divine inspiration happens but sometimes not right away. I'm pretty sure both of the toppers will be used somehow for the celebration and it can still be used afterwards.  Maybe one of them could be a wall hanging.
And speaking of divine inspiration, I happen upon this blog post, when I should have been working on some projects, and came upon this wonderful tutorial for making fabric letters, (you can read about it here) and talk about seeing it at the right moment for once.
Seriously, each of these letters can be made in  ten to fifteen minutes.  It was great that I already had a 12" paper mache' letter "M", leftover fabrics from the topper and best of all I used some of my endless mound of scrap batting.  I used both my rotary cutter with a pinking blade and pinking shears for the tighter spots. These letters turned out so cute and, of course, it wasn't until after I made my first letter, I realized I could used two different fabrics instead of the same for the front and back so they can be reversible.  I don't know how Micah's mom, who doesn't know yet that I made these, will be using them but maybe hanging them on twine with mini clothes pins would look really cute.
And last but not least, a little DIY project with $1 Soccer Baskets purchased at the Dollar Store and adding some bee stickers to make some table decor. I'm saving the other basket to do when I'm at Micah's house; maybe she'll want to help me put stickers where they don't belong.

I never realized that bees were popular so I'm glad I put my BEE game on despite having been stung by one of the big furry ones many moons ago and it was one of the worst pains I ever experienced.  BTW, I found something just as wonderful as buying fabrics, buying baby girl clothes.  I'm looking forward to bringing my baby clothes haul for my week visit with Micah and her family celebrating her first birthday and Easter. I'm not sure if I'll have much time to do any sewing, although I plan on bringing some projects. Once I'm back home, I'll have some major catching up to do as well as participating in Creatin' in the Sticks" 30 Quilt Blocks in 30 Days Blog Hop starting on April 1st (you can read about it here) which is right up my alley since all of these blocks are made with super simple squares and rectangles.  I will be posting on April 22nd with my version of the Cross Walk block.

Wishing everyone a Happy Spring, warm and sunny weather and a blessed Easter.  And don't let any Bees sting you!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Miss Behaving or Misbehaving in March

It was a pretty good week of sewing for me: something I needed to do, I done did; I'm current with two QAL projects, I got to DREAMi! and still found some time and a way to start on two more projects.
The table topper for Micah's First Birthday party is on the way to be ready for the big celebration at the end of month.  The theme of her party will be Bees and I found the sweetest fabric by Timeless Treasures "You are My Sunshine."  The topper measures 27" x 39" and I just used a simple nine-patch pattern to showcase the fabrics and also because I didn't want to put in too time on something which may be on the receiving end of some party spills and crumbs.
My March blocks for the Classic Meet Modern Block of the Month Quilt Along hosted by My Quilt Infatuation are finished.  This month's blocks were the 10" Propeller block (left) and two 6" Sawtooth blocks and sewed together very easy.
All of the half-square triangles have been cut, sewn and arranged for the Postcards from Sweden from MMM quilts.  Since I used my stash of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons with some Peppered Cottons, my quilt doesn't look at bright as some of the other Postcard quilts so I may be calling mine Postcards from Kaffe.  We have two weeks to sew the rows together and I'm hoping Sandra will change it to three weeks since we'll be spending some time with the darling granddaughter at the end of the month.
This is my DREAMi! project which is  another quilt from Christa Watson's Piece and Quilt from Precut book, Dot 'N Dash which I happen upon quite innocently (wink).  I was putting away some fabric and came upon the wonderful Robert Kaufmann's Quilters Linen in a color I call Steel Teal which I forgot I had bought less than six months ago.  I knew it would work well with some 2-1/2" strips I already had cut in shades of grays, teals, pinks, etc. to make the Dot 'N Dash quilt.  Since Sandra is the host for both the Postcards from Sweden QAL and the monthly DREAMi linky party, it's going to be pretty okay if I take a little time away from the Postcard Quilt to spend a little time working on the Dot 'N Dash quilt, right Sandra?
In my never-ending quest to carve out more sewing time during the day, I thought a new portable sewing machine, a Juki HZL 70HW-A to use either in the dining room or kitchen would help.  I already own a Janome Gold which is a sweet little machine but the only drawback is that it does not have a needle up and down feature which I kick myself for not wanting to spend the extra $100 for it.  I sew in my studio which is in the basement or lower level of my house and too often I am drawn to the laptop which is sitting on the kitchen desk and I find myself spending way too much time on Social Media, Blogs, computer games, etc. which could be better spent on sewing.  I thought maybe having a sewing machine upstairs would distract me from the computer.  Also, since there are the TV shows I want to watch in the evenings, I also can also sew then as long as I have Closed Caption on. Really, it's not because the sewing machine is noisy, it's just that Hubby likes to play his guitar while watching TV.
I'm thinking my idea is working out quite well.  Since the arrival of the new Juki, I sewed sixty-four 8"x 12" strip blocks made from 2-1/2" strips of Kaffe Fassett stripes and shot cottons which have been waiting to be made for awhile so I'm considering it to be an unidentified UFO project.  And yes, I'm still spending more time with Kaffe and am pretty sure this is going to be my last project for the year using his fabrics, maybe.
And I sewed a mega strip for a future Staggered Strips and Squares quilt using low volume fabrics with some black and white Cotton + Steel fabrics. Once the strip sets and blocks are cut, I can finish sewing the top upstairs.  

I think my Juki Jr. and kitchen table sewing is just what I needed to get more of my projects done.  And as for my Janome Gold, I'll be saving it for Micah, she doesn't need to know about the wonders of needle up and down until later. Hopefully, whatever March Mode I'm on, either Miss Behaving by staying on task or Misbehaving where the fun is, it continues.  I'm happy with doing both.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Farewell to Fassett February

February was a funny month for me which I can best describe as I was in a mood for not staying on task and felt kind of bad that in less than two months into 2018, I wanted to throw my project lists, which I spent a lot of time planning, aside. After all this was my year for Making it Easy and I was feeling pressure from my project lists so there's no better way to relax is to sew something you want to sew and that's what I did with my Kaffe appliqué quilt.  I finally started working on this quilt, after six years of fermentation which the blocks and leaves were ready for appliqué, when we were vacationing in Texas at the end of January.  I appliquéd 36 blocks in around a week which is doable when you unexpectedly don't have access to WiFi. Once I was back home, I sewed the alternate blocks which I am happy to say I had the fabrics in my stash to make them and once I was ready to assemble the blocks into a quilt, I was pleasantly annoyed that I needed to appliqué four more blocks in order to use the same setting as its fraternal twin quilt.
There are a few quilts patterns which I have made several times and an appliqué quilt pattern would not be one I would want duplicate unless maybe I thought it would be a fun road project.  When the Darlene Zimmerman Going Green pattern was first published by American Patchwork and Quilting in February, 201l, I was inspired to make two versions of this quilt; one with Feedsack fabrics and one with Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  I finish the Feedsack quilt top in 2013 and finally finished it in 2015 as part of Country Threads' UFO Challenge and I was in no hurry to work on the Fassett version even though the pieces were ready.
Although I'm participating in Tish's Adventure in Wonderland's UFO addition this year, my Kaffe quilt did not make the list so finishing the top was an unexpected surprise and what would even be more totally unexpected is if I finally finished it this year so it can join the Feedsack quilt. I'm already planning on ordering the coconut buttons so there's a good chance, especially if I get into one of those moods again. 
BTW, Feedsack and Fassett fabrics are some of my first fabric crushes and I have even used them together as you see from the quilt above.  You can read about this combination in my last week's Throwback Thursday post, Feedsack and Fassett Fabrics Go Together, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, here.

I don't know if March is going to be any better for me to get back on task seeing that I have taxes to prepare, yuck, annual doctor and dentist appointments, big yuck here, and a very big and happy deterrent, Micah, my very precious granddaughter will be celebrating her first birthday at the end of the month.  This means if any quilt is going to be finished, it's going to be hers and it has to have bees because she is the Micah Bee.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Fassett and Feedsack Fabrics Go Together-Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Well February definitely flew by and I was just finishing up a project for this week's Friday link-ups and I realized that today was Sandra's mmm!quilts Throwback Thursday link-up so I thought I better post since I missed last month's.  I do like participating in Throwback Thursday (TBT) since it gives me an opportunity to show and explain some quilts which were made many moons ago and may explain why I sew things the way I sew.  Sandra, in her last month's post mentioned that when she and her friend first started quilting around the mid 1990's and went to buy fabric for their first quilt class, her friend said "Well, apparently in quilting you can mix prints, no problem...." which is the same thought I embraced wholeheartedly when I started quilting right around the same time, so something must have been in the water back then.  And for me, there were no better fabric mix than Kaffe Fassett and Feedsack fabrics which at the time the above quilt was made I was accumulating a nice stash of both.
I made my Flower Bed quilt in 2003 after seeing this quilt in  Pamela Mostek and Jean Van Bockel's Quilts from Larkspur Farm book and absolutely fell in love with it and as you can see I pretty much duplicated it without a benefit of a kit but a lot of fabric searches on foot before online days. Fortunately, I worked at a quilt shop at the time and was able to buy the Piece of Cake's stripe and some of the floral prints along with some greens and found the Kaffe Fassett lattice print through one of my many quilting jaunts which is what you did before buying online.
I was needing some more floral prints and I found some in my Feedsack stash which I have accumulated through the generosity of my quilting peeps, Mary and Linda, yes, the same friends from the Aunt Amy's Bullseye QAL which I posted about in January's TBT.  I am pretty sure that the original quilt did not have any Feedsack prints and I always chuckle to myself when I think about the fabrics I used in my quilt "Feedsack and Fassett together, who would have thunk."  Another takeaway from this quilt is that I discovered Pat Mostek and after the Quilts from Larkspur Farm book, she published Just Can't Cut It!, Quilts From Fabulous Fabrics, which validated my feeling of not wanting to cut up my large focus prints and started my love of making quilts with big blocks.
I'm still keeping my tradition of Feedsack and Fassett (F&F) fabrics, although separate now. For the past few weeks, I have been working on the Fassett version of Darlene Zimmerman quilt which I made in Feedsack fabrics and finally finished in 2015 during Country Thread's UFO Challenge. When I first saw the pattern over ten years ago in American Patchwork and Quilting, I decided that I wanted to make two versions of it and after finishing the feedsack version, I wasn't in a hurry to finish the Fassett version. I just need to add the borders to this quilt and will post about the latest F&F quilts later.

And now for some stats for my Flower Bed Quilt:

Size:  68" x 82" (approx.),  Ninety-nine  7.5" Square in the Square Blocks, funny I just mentioned the other day that Square in the Square Blocks were not my favorite and now I may know why.  Also, the original quilt was 84" x 98" and I probably made it smaller because I didn't have enough of the Kaffe Fassett Lattice fabric but bought more after the quilt was finished.

Pattern:  Flower Bed by Pam Mostek and Jean Van Bockel, 2001

I've been going a little bit modern in my quilts for the past few years but after pulling out the Quilts from Larkspur Farm, there really are some lovely quilts using floral prints in this book, and I could easily make another quilt from this book--after all I still have lots of floral prints from the 1990s in my stash.  And finally, for a few days this week after the announcement of Free Spirit Fabrics closing and the uncertain future of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, I thought my stash was going to be a real treasure chest but am glad they found a new home with Jaftex.  Yay.  More Kaffe Fassett fabrics to buy!

I'm linking up with:  mmm! quilts Throwback Thursday

Friday, February 23, 2018

It's Time To Snuggle With The Squiggle Quilt

Just when I thought I wasn't going to have anything to post about this week since it seems I was having a hard time getting started working on any of my many projects waiting for me in the studio, I have a finally finished with my Squiggle Quilt.  It seems that my Bee Sisters and the others who joined Christa Watson's QAL were finishing theirs and I've only had the top made and the backing sewn.  I was away babysitting my granddaughter last week, which I like to mention my hubby and I make a great diaper changing team and I can still hold my breath for a very long time. Once I returned home this past Monday, I just didn't have the energy to climb down the stairs until Wednesday and once down there I went into quilt action and decided that I needed to finish one QAL and Squiggle it was.  Of course, like the many other times I have a quilt that is finally finished, the weather decided to be cold and gloomy.
I didn't have a hard time deciding on the quilting, after all a Squiggle quilt should be quilted with squiggly lines.  I only have a few quilting techniques in my repertoire and wavy, curvy lines is one of them--it's just a nice, relaxing way to quilt.  Also, as mentioned in a previous post, some of my triangle points do not line up since I unfortunately did not measure the charm packs before I started sewing and it turned out they were almost 5-1/4" and I also mixed it with 5" squares I cut from the yardage.  Even though I trimmed all the squares to 5", I knew some of my points were going to be off and some wavy quilting will be needed to make it less noticeable.  I followed Christa's technique of starting the quilting on the right side and I finished it on the left side which I have to say all four edges of my quilt were pretty straight.  Once you see my Squiggle quilt, you really can't see where the points don't line up, and if you can, you're standing too close to it.
With all of the colors in this quilt, I chose to "gray" everything else like the connecting corners, backing and the binding which I have to say is pretty perfect since I wanted to use a dark gray to accentuate the colors and I happened to have such a print and enough of it in the Blueberry Park stash. The only thing that I don't like about the Blueberry Park fabrics is the texture which has the feel of screen painting and makes the fabric, to me, feel stiff.  I used a Microtex Sharp needle for quilting and decided to machine quilt the binding since I thought it may be hard to hand sew.  I was looking forward to sewing the binding while watching Olympics but guess I could use the time to work on another project that awaits me.  Just last week, I thought I was ahead of the Postcards from Sweden QAL and now I am seeing from other posts I follow, some of the participants are already sewing their HSTs. Hopefully, I'll be sewing them this weekend. BTW, I have to mention that Hubby installed daylights in my studio which is in the basement and it has been a real game changer--photos taken in the studio never looked this bright and I can't believe I've been sewing in the dark for the past five years.
I wasn't expecting to love this quilt as much as I do now. There are so many different colors in the Blueberry Park fabric line and I used everyone of them except for the black and navy prints in this quilt.  The colors just reminds me of something from my childhood, I keep thinking of wrapped hard candy like Charms or maybe Jolly Ranchers.  The colors are just that yummy and am happy with the way my quilt turned out which is why I calling it Squiggle Delight.  I was thinking that I was going to gift this quilt but having second thoughts now, I'm needing to snuggle this quilt and hoping life will get brighter soon.

February has gone by way too fast and I have to confess that I have not even started on this month's UFO or Scrap projects.  I'm hoping to get my sew-jo back on soon.  I need lots of sunshine and less snow now.

Linking up with:  My Quilt Infatuation, Needle and Thread ThursdayCrazy Mom Quilts, Finish It Up FridayConfessions of a Fabric Addict, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop FridayBusy Hands Quilts, Finish or Not Friday

Thursday, February 15, 2018

And the QAL-ing Keeps Sewing Along

I'm still catching up with my QALs and have a finally finish: Micah's Come Calling Quilt/Playmat which I had planned to make in January for my January Scrap Attack and or Scrumptious Scraps QAL project which Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict is hosting for 2018.  I thought I should start and finish this quilt considering that it's February now and I will be seeing Micah this weekend for some grandmother babysitting duties while her parents get some serious download time.
At the beginning of the year, I was going to participate in the Scrap Attack which is more for organizing and precutting your scraps.  Last week, Sarah posted about the Scrumptious Scraps QAL (you can read about it here) and decided that this one was more to my liking since my project list for Scrap Attack involved using up certain scraps each month. I rather let sleeping scraps lie until I need them for a scrap project. The scraps I chose to work with in January were from several Basic Grey's collections which included leftovers from the signature wedding quilt I made for Micah's parents over four years ago.  Doesn't every baby need a calling quilt when they go visiting?  At least that's what I thought when I came up with another reason for making Micah another quilt. I think this is #9.
Here's a photo of the wedding quilt with the  gorgeous Basic Grey floral print from the PBJ collection.  I used whatever remnant I had along with the leftover strips used in the sashing.  I thought I share my signature block in this post since it still makes me laugh and it's the one I always use for other signature blocks.
The green and white gingham used for the sashing and the backing fabric which is from the last century were the only fabrics not part of the Basic Grey scraps.  I also wanted to use a plain fabric for the backing since Micah's mom tends to display the backs and not the front of the quilts and maybe because the backs are just that pretty.  This quilt measures 42" x 60" and hopefully this time I can snuggle with Micah and the quilt this time.
But then again, we may need to spend some time re-reading this book which I received from friends when Micah was born. I can't believe she's going to be one-year old next month and this time she might be reading the book to me.
Also finished this week, last Tuesday night to be more exact, were Blocks #3 (Nested Churn Dash) and #4 (Greek Cross) from the Classic Meet Modern QAL hosted by Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation.
This QAL started in January and each month, two blocks (maybe more if they're small) are made, which is a nice pace I can keep up with.  You can read more about the Classic Meet Modern QAL (here).  So far, two of the blocks are 24", one is 12" and two are 6".  I am finding out, no size is an easy size, my focus is just the same, and am finding that my seam ripper works well on all sizes. By the way, in case you're wondering, doesn't the blocks look wonderful against the white brick?  I just discovered photo backdrops and finally purchased one.  When I first received it, it looks like a velour blanket and the printing was pretty faint so I had my doubts but I'm very happy with the way the photos turned out. Now, I just have to make sure I put this away since I have a certain son who might think this is a blanket; it really does feel nice.
My top for the Squiggle QAL (you can read about it here) is finished and this week is the start of basting and quilting which is not going to happen until next week.  I'm really looking forward to doing some quilting with nice wavy lines to hide some of the over and under hangs of the triangle points.  This is what happens when you do not realize that the charm packs of Blueberry Park were not exactly 5" and were mixed in with the 5" squares I cut myself. Such a rookie mistake, I keep telling myself.
Today is the start of the Postcards from Sweden which Sandra from mmm!Quilts is hosting.  (You can read about the Postcards from Sweden QAL here).  For some reason, which doesn't happen very often, I am ahead of this QAL; I've already chosen my fabrics and cut all of my HSTs.  With some QALS, I find myself either ahead, on schedule or behind but in the end, but what really matters to me is that I finish.  Timelines are only a suggestion and sometimes I have a need to either start or finish another project off the grid which is what I'm feeling I want to do next week.  But then again I may just need some rest recovering from my very first babysitting gig in so many years.
I hope everyone is having a happy week and feeling some warmth, especially from the weather.  It's been way too cold in my neck of the woods.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fassett February

This is my first February post and there's no better way to start off the month with a Finally Finish--my Kaffe Fassett Zig Zag Patchwork Throw.  This was a top I finished last year after taking his workshop last October and was on my 2018 Quilty Confessions- UFO Addition list to finish.  
I love the colors and fabrics in this quilt, they look velvety, don't they? I have a confession--this was not what I had envisioned; out of the twenty fabrics I brought to the workshop, I only ended up using eight of them and had to purchase the black and purple print from the vendor mall and my friend Carol, who brought her entire Kaffe stash in her suitcase with wheels, let me have one of her red stripe prints since she wasn't going to use it.  On a side note, I almost suffered whiplash at the beginning of the workshop because Kaffe mentioned that the Zig Zag pattern would look good in black and white fabrics, which I am pretty sure no one brought any, including Carol and myself, and he would be happy to help students choose black and white fabrics which could be purchased from the vendor mall. Carol decided she would like to do that and I turned my head in a snap at her and said "What!". Boy, what some people would do to get a little extra Kaffe time.  If I wasn't set on using the fabric I brought, I may have been tempted but then again no because I already have too much black and white fabric in my stash.
I'm pretty sure I was the only student whose color palette was inspired by the Grand Canyon so I bought fabrics with golds, browns, light grays and whites in addition to the eight I ended up using. When I showed this photo to Kaffe and Brandon Mabrey along with the fabrics, I don't know how they got me to change my mind or see things their way.  I did come away knowing the difference between low contrast where the fabrics accent each other quietly but nicely versus high contrast which would be a white fabric against dark fabric and according to Kaffe looks like a plastic shopping bag stuck on my quilt.  As you can see, my quilt is definitely low contrast.
It wasn't easy, but I managed to come up with a quilt top with just using ten fabrics compared to some of the other students who bought their entire stash to class and used the same  Kaffe color palette of blues, greens, reds, etc. in his books.  I'm pretty sure I was the only one who used my color palette of purple, gray, black and orange and if there was another one I would have been over at her table rummaging through her stash.  BTW, that's Carol's quilt on the left with the fabrics selected by Kaffe.  I don't do too well in workshops, I get too distracted by what others are doing and I sure was overstimulated seeing all those wonderful Kaffe fabrics on the other students' tables and worse of all, I had to rotary cut the diamonds myself.  I really would have liked to have used my die-cutter but the instructions were no pre-cutting before class.
And yes, I finally got a photo of Kaffe and me which for me is a pretty good momento along with the quilt.  I think we might have the same haircut.
And getting back to the quilt, I decided once the top was finished, it seemed that it should be a throw so I backed it with this wonderful rich purple Minky with zig zags.  There's no batting and only light quilting which is perfect for a throw.   Funny during the critique of my top in the workshop, Brandon said that I should back my quilt top with mink and good friend Carol said Minky and that's what I did; it really is perfect for this quilt.  While finishing this throw, I kept humming Lara's theme from Dr. Zhivago since I thought this would be perfect for a sleigh ride with a white horse pulling it but knowing me with the impending winter advisory with lots of snow we're having on Friday, I'll settle for snuggling with it in the warmth of my living room sipping some hot cocoa.
While I was on vacation, I decided to take my Kaffe appliqué project which has been fermenting for well over five years and I just kept putting this project off. I'm so glad that I brought it because it turned out that the resort where we were staying at had no Wi-Fi for the entire week.  It finally came back on the night before we were scheduled to leave so these blocks kept me occupied.  If I were fifty years younger, I would have been lost without Wi-Fi, but in truth, it's nice to have but really not needed as long as there's free Wi-Fi elsewhere.
And last but not least, I will be joining Sandra of mmm! Quilts who will be hosting the Postcards from Sweden QAL which will be starting next week.  It should be no surprise that I've picked out my fabrics which are Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons with a few Peppered Cottons added.  I also will be happily die-cutting my 4-1/2" HST.

Sandra, with all of the other Linky parties she is hosting, pattern designing and an Island Batik Ambassador, is also one of the Co-hosts for the 2018 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop which is near and dear to my heart.  I participated in it last year and it was an invaluable learning experience as well as being fun and definitely a "must do" if you are a new quilt blogger as I was.  This is a great way to meet new and experienced bloggers, introduce yourself to Blogland and many new friendships will be formed.  Registration started on February 1st and you can read about the 2018 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop here:

Now that I'm getting back into my quilting groove, I have some catching up to do with the other QAL's (Classic Meets Modern, Squiggy, and Scrap Attack) I started before I left on vacation which means I have to stay focus for a little while.  It should be no surprise that I bought some fabric while on vacation and really would like to make something with it now.  Stay warm and if you're going to be experiencing snow like I am, i'ts going to be good sewing weather.