Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bloggers Quilt Festival: Christmas Tree

It's time once again for Bloggers Quilt festival, hosted by Amy from Amy's Creative Side.

My first entry is the Christmas Tree hanging I made for my son. It's almost life size, and it's made so that real ornaments can be hung on it.
Christmas Tree Wall Hanging with Real Ornaments

This project came about because my son requested something for the home he shares with two friends, 3 cats, and a two-year-old. They just don't have space for a real Christmas tree.

Quilted Tree with Star Ornament Used as a Topper

This was easy to make, pieced with just triangles and strips.  Great way to use up a variety of green prints and low volume fabrics.
Pieced with 3" Triangles and Strips

I quilted it in the ditch around the triangles and added straight line quilting to the background. To attach the ornaments, I stitched thread loops that the ornaments can hook into at all the triangle intersections. You can see the pickle hooked below, and the star topper in the photo above.
Ornaments Hanging from Thread Loops

Although the photo at top shows this wall hanging attached to a door with magnets, it will actually be hung on a wall. It has two sleeves on the back, top and bottom, and pieces of wood sanded smooth for hanging. By adding an extra sleeve at the bottom, the tree can be firmly attached to the wall so cats and kids can't do too much harm.

This will be an early Christmas gift, to be presented at Thanksgiving, so I made a pillowcase-style bag that the rolled up tree can be stored in which also serves as a gift bag.
Gift Bag / Storage Bag / Dust Cover

For more about this Christmas Tree wall hanging, visit my earlier posts  O Tannenbaum  and the tutorial at  O Tannenbaum Tutorial.

Check out all the other quilty inspiration at Bloggers Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side.

Also linking up with:
Sew Fresh Quilts,
My Quilt Infatuation

Monday, September 18, 2017

Testing, Testing

I have a new project in mind. It will be a long term project, probably a couple blocks a month for a year after I get it planned and some of the cutting and prep done.

As part of the planning, I made a test block. No, these are not the project fabrics, just a leftover partial charm pack I had on hand, and a FQ for background.
Test Block 

What I learned from this test block: 
  1. The finished block size should be 14" so I cut my background 14-1/2" square before making the block. I should make the block oversized, then square up and trim down as needed after the block is finished. This block is a scant 1/8" too small. 
  2. I used the Easy Dresden tool, followed the instructions for the 5" line, and used their pattern for the 3-1/2" center circle. This Dresden looks "chubby" to me. I want longer blades with a smaller center circle for my project so I'll have to adapt accordingly.  
  3. Glue basting worked great; a tiny dot at each point was perfect. The edges are machine stitched down, as is the circle. 
  4. The blades point to 12, 3, 6, and 9 but in my EQ drawing the Vs are at those positions. Does it matter?
  5. My friend Suzanne Marshall, award winning applique artist, recommends cutting away the background behind applique so the batting will fill out all the shapes. I cut away the backing behind the blades and within the circle, leaving seam allowance where the circle was attached. The center looks like it caves in, although that could fill out with batting. Or it may not be an issue with a smaller circle.
With so many concerns about this test block, I needed to make another to get it right before I cut them all for my project. No, these aren't the project fabrics either, just scraps from my scrap drawer and background quadrants cut from stash. 
Test Block #2

  What I learned from test block #2:
  1. Making the background oversized and then trimming down worked much better. I'm planning a scrappy background so assembling the background in quadrants worked well. Bonus, the intersection of the seams at the center was very helpful for centering the wreath.
  2. Still using the Easy Dresden at the 5" line, I extended the length at the narrow end for a total length of 6 inches. When I sewed the blades together and pressed the seams open, the seam allowances overlapped, and the center opening came out too tiny. I think 5-3/4" would work better. 
  3. The center circle here finishes at 2-1/2" diameter, and I like this proportion better. 
  4. The Vs are at 12, 3, 6, and 9. My project will actually have snowballed corners, and I think I'll try adding corner pieces to these two blocks to decide which alignment I like better. 
  5. I trimmed away the background from behind the blades but not from behind the center circle. The layers there seem to give it some dimension. 
  6. Even though this is just a test block, I should pay attention to value contrast. There isn't enough contrast between the blades and the background here. (Contrast won't be a problem in my new project). 

I'm glad I took the time to make test blocks. I have no other purpose for them so they'll go in my "spare parts" drawer for now, but they served their purpose well as tests and learning exercises. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

These Bleeding Reds


I'm planning a project that uses several dark red prints. They'll be combined with ecru/beige/ivory neutrals.

I ran them through a warm water wash & rinse cycle (no detergent) with a color catcher and they bled a lot.  So I did it again.  And again.  Still bleeding.

Does anyone have a recommendation for how to handle this? A product to set the color to keep them from bleeding any more? Overnight soak? Or just more cycles in the washer? Detergent? Any advice or suggestions would be welcome, thanks.

Link up: Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cherie's Block

My friend Cherie saw a block somewhere that she likes, so I helped her figure out how to make it. Here's my version, 15" square.

This was not an easy block to make, mostly because the fabrics are soft shirtings, many times washed, and I didn't use starch. Lots of bias in this block, and very stretchy fabrics!

I don't usually use starch. Fabric is very forgiving of minor seam inconsistencies, etc. if you don't starch the heck out of it. Cherie uses starch a lot, but she works with shirtings a lot too, so now I understand her love of starch. She finds shirtings at local thrift stores and has quite a collection to work from, which is why I made the test block for her in shirtings.

Do you use starch? Any recommendations? Do you use it only for prewashed fabrics that no longer have their original sizing, or do you use it on new fabrics too?

Linking up with Lets Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, September 8, 2017

Emerald Isle Flimsy

Yes, I've decided to keep the name Emerald Isle, and yes, it's a finished flimsy. Here it is on my design wall; I hope to get some better outdoor photos later. I like how the Irish Chain effect continues through the sashing and creates movement, but I also like how the chain is broken up by the alternate blocks - more interesting that way.

This is the fabric I chose for the binding: a tiny geometric which is in one of the blocks and one of the alternate block frames. I like how it contrasts with the sashing but it's still dark.

In other news, I'm whooping it up today because my new washing machine is being delivered this morning. Whoo-hoo!!! The old one is over 25 years old and for a long time now has been giving me trouble. It's been rocking and banging around so much that I have to open it and redistribute the load several times every spin cycle, even though we've worked on leveling it and balancing the drum. Last week it leaked a little onto the floor. Enough already, it lasted longer than the average washer, but the time has come to replace it. We decided to shop for a new one while the stores all had their Labor Day sales. Now I won't have to stay nearby all the time to rebalance the load, and I expect the new one will be a lot quieter. Whoo-hoo!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict is collecting pillowcases for displaced Hurricane Harvey victims staying in shelters. I made a few:

What I didn't realize is that they wanted them for children. I have almost no juvenile prints in my stash and very few 3/4 yard or larger fabric cuts. I used what I had enough of. I hope some of these pillowcases can go to adults or seniors who are as much in need as kids are.

Most of these fabrics were picked up at the Eleanor Burns tent or warehouse in Paducah over the years. They were originally intended for projects that never happened, or as backings for something else, or merely stash enhancement at the time. Anyway, these have been aging in my stash long enough and it's better to use them for pillowcases now.

So they're on their way to Sarah and should arrive tomorrow. Most of them, that is. Somehow I left two of them out of the package. I found them still in my sewing room when I got home from the post office. Yeesh!

Linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, September 4, 2017

Belated August Stash Report & Goals Update

Wow, August kind of got away from me. My goals all went by the wayside when I decided to quickly make my ailing brother a quilt. Then we were on vacation for over a week, so no sewing got done on those days.  Let's see if I can catch up.

August Stash Report: 
IN this month: 7-5/8 yards (4 yds backing for Marty's quilt; 1-3/8 yds for Emerald Isle Sashing; 1/4 yd for Emerald Isle cornerstones; 2 yds from Stitchin' Post, Sisters OR)
OUT this month: 12-3/4 yards (Marty's Quilt - 8-1/4 yds for top; 3-3/4 yds for backing; 3/4 yd for binding)
IN YTD: 81-1/8 yards
OUT YTD: 94 yards
YTD Net Change: 12-7/8 yards OUT

Backing for Marty's Quilt

Sashing for Emerald Isle

Still doing well with stash reduction for the year, so no guilt when I acquire some stash enhancements. I plan on some shopping in September at a shop that I only get to once or twice a year.

Goals Update: 

August Recap:
1. Bind, label, add sleeve and photograph KBFG quilt to enter into guild show. Partially done; still need to attach label & sleeve. 
2. Finish making blocks for Emerald Isle. DONE, and also added sashing. 
3. Post Snake Quilt tutorial. DONE
4. Find suitable sashing fabric for Solstice Challenge blocks; cut and kit up sashing pieces for future retreats, etc. Not touched.
5. Make progress on Roman Road UFO. Not touched.
6. Work on WIVSP hand piecing project. Not touched.
7. Keep up with bee blocks. DONE

Other: Started, completely finished, and mailed a comfort quilt for Marty.
Marty's Quilt, 60 x 84", Four Corners from Cut and Shuffle Quilts

OK, so some of August the goals had to fall by the wayside when I dropped everything to make my brother a quilt. He's out of rehab now and staying with one of his daughters for a couple weeks, and doing outpatient PT. He really likes his quilt and he was blown away that I made it for him. Again, it was more about the gesture - no one really needs a quilt in Phoenix in August.

September Goals:
1. Finish Emerald Isle flimsy
2. Make pillowcases for Harvey victims (Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict is collecting them)
3. Find suitable sashing fabric for Solstice Challenge blocks; cut and kit up sashing pieces for future retreats, etc.
4. Assemble QOV top
5. Work on WIVSP hand piecing project.
6. Plan and prep projects for retreat in October
7. Keep up with bee blocks.
8. Stretch Goal: plan &/or work on improv project from Jean Wells's book Intuitive Color & Design

When we were in Oregon I was able to visit the Stitchin' Post in Sisters. What a beautiful shop! Lots of books and patterns not carried at my local shops, and gorgeous fabrics, including some collections I hadn't seen yet. I got the license plate as a souvenir. I also got this wonderful book by shop owner Jean Wells. Many of the photos in it are local to her area and remind me of our trip, with scenes of the Oregon coast and central Oregon. I picked up a couple of prints because I like the deep russet and bronze colors.

If you know me or you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I'm pretty precise in my piecing, and improv or string piecing are so not my thing. Set in my ways? Inflexible? Rigid? In a rut?  Yes, yes, and yes...

I'm going to try some of the assignments in Jean Wells's book to force myself to loosen up. I'll try them on a small scale, maybe 12" square, so it won't be too overwhelming. Some of the exercises are about journaling and that'll be new to me, but if it's inspirational, I'll give it a go. So I've added a stretch goal to my September goals to start working on this, and I plan to continue in future months. Wish me luck!

Link-ups: Small Quilts and Doll Quilts, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt