Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Sew-Along Finish--Split Square Quilt

I finished my Holiday Split Square Quilt this past weekend which is a wonderful sense of accomplishment for me which I will explain more later in this post.

Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene's latest book "Sew Charming" was just released and there are so many wonderful quilts that I want to make, mainly because I have fabric in my stash which will work well with all of the quilts, the quilt sizes are doable, the smallest is 15"x18" and the largest is 48"x60" which are great sizes for the wall, table and gift giving and most inspirational of all, many of the quilts are quilted with straight lines, my absolute favorite look and I can now do since the Janome walking foot is working well on my Juki.  Also, another added bonus is that I can die-cut or use my shape-cut rulers for many of the pieces, finger risk is minimal.

Mary Etherington is hosting a Christmas sew along for one of the quilts in the book, Split Square, http://country-threads-chicken-scratch.com/uncategorized/the-christmas-sew-along/ which measures 24"x28".  The idea for Sew Charming is you can use this book in two ways- either a charm square book or as a scrap fabric book which is right up my alley since I can do both.  My Holiday Split Square Quilt uses leftover Sandy Gervais jelly rolls strips from my Holly Bar Quilt and yardage of two teal fabrics.  And, of course, I did a horizontal straight quilting just like Mary's quilt.  My quilt was finished right before the launch of the sew along because I received my book several weeks before and I knew this was the quilt that was going to be made.  My impetus was getting this quilt done was that I have several quilts which need to be finished this week and because I realized while I was making the top, it would be perfect to hang on my hallway door near where the Holly Jar Quilt will be draped over the banister.  I love finishing quilts when there is an immediate need for them which leads me to explain why I participate in Sew Alongs, Block of the Months, Mystery Quilts, etc.

Sew Alongs are fun and you can participate by yourself but for some reason you always like a friend to do one with you, sort of like a partner in crime feeling.  They're also great when they fall into one of these categories:
  1. you can use the fabric that you already have in your stash which is my favorite reason;
  2. it's an excuse to buy new fabric which isn't a bad reason because sometimes you need to add to the stash
  3. it's something that you can really use 
  4. it teaches you new skill sets or is outside your comfort zone.  Unfortunately, when sew alongs fall under this category, my completion rate is almost non existent or I deviate from the pattern in order to get it done.
The best sew alongs for me are the UFO Challenge.  Over the past few years I have participated in several of them and I was able to finally finish at least 20 of them, some of them well over five years old.  Unfortunately, my Fat Quarter Shop 2007-2008 Piece & Plenty Mystery Quilt never made it on one of my lists.  This is my oldest UFO and I only need to finish three blocks; but these blocks really stretched my skill set and patience, an example being one of the blocks I finished had a background with over 60 patches and most of it was going to be covered by an appliqué sand pail.  I'm not a big fan of appliqué nor blocks with lots of tiny patches.  My friend, Carol, who I convinced to do this quilt with me, affectionately refer to this project as the Quilt from Hell and I still feel guilty about suggesting this as something we could do together and fear what payback could be.  I've taken the box containing this project out trying to come up with a way to finish the quilt without making the final three blocks but something keeps telling me I need to do the remaining blocks, so the box still sits on my shelf.  I've already decided another quilt along that I did with my Facebook friend Dee this year, Women of the Bible quilt, is going to be on my UFO list.  I told Dee, it's only 40 blocks, we do one block each week and we should be done by October, it's a piece of cake and the quilt is so pretty.  For this sew along I purchased new fabric (Good Neighbors) and as of this date, I've only made 30 blocks.  My only excuse for not finishing it is that some of the blocks involved rotary cutting odd sizes which used to be out of my comfort zone so I put this project aside for quilts which allow me to use my die-cutter.  Also the quilt finishes to king size and I really don't need a new quilt for my bed yet.  Again, payback may be coming from Dee (it didn't help that I won our World Series bet).

Some of the sew alongs that I participated in were the ones that Mary Etherington hosted during and after Country Threads days.  I did the last Block of the Month where I quickly learned that I didn't like 1" HST but I did like that I could use my stash of civil war prints.  Also, the quilt was made per the pattern, except for maybe a few mislaid blocks, and it is quilted and laying on the quilt rack.

Last year's sew along, was Mary wanting to do Jen Kingwell's pattern Gypsy Wife and talk about a quilt that made me want to scream, this would be the poster quilt.  For those familiar with the pattern, you can see I did not make it according to the pattern because I just could not do the finishing strips and chose to finish it in a sampler style.  As soon as I was finished with this top, I quickly sent the pattern book to Dee which may be another payback in the future.  At least my quilt is finished and the mere mention of Gypsy Wife makes my eyes cross.  Payback for Mary is to continually send her fabric and patterns and extolling the wonders of a die cutting machine.

Another quilt I made was based on a quilt Mary was making several years ago which she called her slab quilt and I wanted to make one because I have this decade old bundle of red and black fabrics which were perfect for this quilt and I also could use my die-cutter.  I realized that I never posted a photo of the completed quilt which I straight line quilted before I bought my Juki.  Although it's not an official sew along quilt, I call this a Monkey See, Monkey Do quilt which I do a lot, especially with the Ernie quilts.

Last but not least, another sew along quilt I did this year was Pat Sloan's Secret Garden Quilt which consisted of twelve 15" blocks.  I made mine with only nine blocks because I wanted a new wallhanging for the family room and if I made it with all twelve blocks, it would be too big for the wall space above my couch.  This made me realize that I don't have a good track record with sew along quilts which I don't know why I should feel defeated with this aspect of my creative life.  I was planning on sending this quilt to my LAQ but realized after see of the quilts in Sew Charming, I think I could straight line quilt it myself, especially since the Juki and I are working so well together.

In planning my 2017 quilt activities, I was not going to participate in any sew alongs which has fallen to the wayside since I've committed myself to doing two now; one is the Red Pepper Quilt that Connie Tesene has graciously provided me with the pattern and one in which Carol has finally wreak payback on me for the Quilt from Hell experience, we're doing Lucy Carson KINGWELL's Smitten quilt, https://www.amitie.com.au/shop/c/p/Smitten-by-Lucy-Carson-Kingwell-for-Jen-Kingwell-Designs-x4700618.htm, pattern and paper pieces have been ordered.  This is definitely a Yikes and a Category 4 sew along, I don't mind doing the paper piecing but it's the putting it together that is going to be a challenge, I wonder how long once I'm making this quilt, will I be figuring alternative ways to finishing it.  Also, there is Dee's payback that's out there and hopefully won't be coming too soon.

Just can't say So Long to Sew Alongs, can we, because friends don't let friends quilt alone.

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