Monday, July 3, 2017

Marvelous Minis

Sheryl over at Temecula Quilt Co. is hosting this irresistible sew-along, calling this one Marvelous Mini Mondays.

Any of you out there who are making these know how fun they are to make!

This is the basked of scraps I'm working from.

Today marks week 5, but I'm not quite caught up. Swing back later tonight or tomorrow, I should have posted a couple more blocks by then.

Meanwhile, a while back I had the brilliant idea to make a braid quilt. I got the idea from Lori over at Humble Quilts, who made a really cool one a few years ago. I'd throw in a link if I could find the post ....  anyway ~ about mid-way through mine, I decided it just looked like a royal mess. Later (much later) I deconstructed it into strips, then set about turning most of them into Triangle Squares, and sewed them into a Vet Quilt.

Much better!

Now to link up with Design Wall Monday


Monday, June 5, 2017

Stash Busting

I think I've gotten a little overwhelmed with my "collection" of beautiful (and not so beautiful) fabrics!

As fabric hoarders collectors go, I'm probably not the worst case, but the limited room in my fabric cupboard and bins has been more than maxed out, which leaves very little (read no) room for new acquisitions. Which I think are essential to keep one's stash fresh and interesting.

So in an effort to pare down, I decided to start by attacking my browns, which I have several stacks of, and my greens, which I don't use nearly enough.

I wanted something uncomplicated, and chose to do a simple repeat of a single block, the shoo-fly which is a favorite of mine.  It has been very simple, but time consuming because of all those dang Triangle Squares.

I started by cutting 2 1/2" strips of my chosen fabrics, then using the Easy Angle to cut the HST's, then chain piecing them together. Once all the units are ready, the blocks themselves go together very quickly.

I kinda like the color combo, and there seems to be enough rusty reds in there to add a little more interest. The idea was to have it mostly low contrast, with a few lighter greens thrown in for spark. I'm not sure how successful that strategy was, but I'm liking it just the same. The blocks will be 6" finished. I've made 88 blocks so far (that's 520 Triangle Squares, folks) but I think I'll make a couple more rows before I sew it together.

Meanwhile I made an additional nine blocks to re-cover a cushion for the couch in our den, where the completed quilt will probably end up as well.


I actually did make a dent in my stash, albeit a small one, so I guess we could consider that a success. Plus I'll have a cozy new quilt for snuggling in the den!

Now to figure out how to link up with Design Wall Monday, hopefully while its still Monday...

Happy Sewing!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Triangle Squares

 I've been wanting to make a (mainly) blue-and-white quilt for a while, a sampler of some kind, and thought Lisa Bongean's Triangle Gatherings would be just about perfect. I'm a bit late. She's up to block 40, and I'm just getting started.  Above is my version of Block 1.

As you can imagine, 40 plus blocks made up of sixteen triangle squares each is a lot of TSq's (or HST's as most people call them).

Which leads to the topic of the many ways of constructing these little guys. I have to admit I'm still learning new and better ways after all these years, and would like to share some of what I've learned.

Sewing large and trimming to size 
This has been my preferred method for many years, as, IMO, it gives you the best results for absolute accuracy. It is a pain, though, meaning a lot of cutting, drawing lines, and trimming. However I have figured out a way to eliminate the line drawing part.

You know those plastic thingies you tape down to your sewing machine after lining them up with a "key" and all that jazz? I bought two different versions, neither of which really ever worked that well for me, plus they cover up the bobbin access on my machine. Why not just use a piece of 1/4" tape.

(btw the scotch tape you see is there to smooth out the bump that annoyingly flips seams the wrong way as they approach the needle, another problem I'm working on)

For a 2" finished Triangle Square, I cut 3" squares and laid a light over a dark, right sides together. Now to the sewing.

First you have to know exactly where to line up the corner where you start. You can see above how the guide on my presser foot bisects that corner.

Now you line up the bottom corner with the right side of the tape. This is where your drawn line would have been.Your guide will be travelling down this imaginary corner-to-corner line. All  you have to do is keep the bottom corner lined up with the right side of the tape as it moves toward the needle. Same concept as the plastic thingies.

Now you turn it around and sew on the other side of that imaginary line.

Cut and press open...

and trim.

 Perfect Triangle Squares! 

Next up, 

Another method for dang near perfect Triangle Squares.
I like these because you can get 2" finished Triangle Squares from 2 1/2" strips. The problem is, you have to pin them on (or use a little dot of glue stick) to secure the paper, and it all has to be lined up perfect or your resulting square won't be perfect. And then you have to rip the papers off. TIP: make sure you shorten your stitch length when making these, for easier paper removal. 

Again, a lot of work. I thought their aught to be an easier way. Which leads me to my latest favorite tool:
Easy Angle

Why bother pinning and ripping papers when you can simply measure and cut? 
Again I'm using 2 1/2" strips (or pieces as you see here) for 2" finished Triangle Squares. Line up your first cut as seen above, 

and your vertical cut as seen above here. 
Note the 2 1/2" mark on the ruler, and the black point which extends over the edge of the fabric.
(btw the ruler doesn't come with a fancy glass knob. I attached that myself for easier handling.)

Now, sew.
I go ahead and line it up with my 1/4" tape, although that's not necessary if you have a 1/4" presser foot, with or without the guide. 

Again, if you've been careful with your ruler placement and cutting, your SQ's will come out accurate. 

The last thing I'm going to show you is something I just discovered:

 I saw an ad for these recently in a quilting magazine and thought they might be just the thing when you need to make a whole lot of Triangle Squares at once, such as what I'll be doing for the Triangle Gatherings blocks. 

You get several sheets of iron-on transfers in your preferred size, which are re-usable. For the 1 1/2" size (which I'm using for the Triangle Gatherings) one sheet yields 240  Triangle Squares. I got four "good" and a fifth "iffy" transfer from one sheet, or 960+ TSqs. That's from one sheet! What you're looking at above is a partial sheet. Anyway, you sew on the dotted lines, and cut on the solid lines - same method as for Thangles, but no paper to rip. This is by far the fastest method I've used.

As with the previous methods, the resulting accuracy is dependent on  how accurately you do your sewing and cutting. Pretty darn easy in this case.

I hoping to have provided a decent introduction to these methods, and that some of you might find them useful. Please let me know if you have questions or if something doesn't make sense.

Happy Sewing, everyone! 


Monday, August 22, 2016

Inspiration from Betsy C

Lately I've been on the lookout for interesting quilt ideas that I may use for my "comfort quilts" (as I've been calling them, for lack of a better name). Not too complicated, fun to make, easy to love. I found such a pattern in Betsy Chutchian's recent book:

The book features eight quilts and gives directions for each in three different sizes: bed, lap, and mini. FYI for those of you small quilt lovers, the minis are incredible!

This is the one I chose to make:

The first thing I thought of when I saw this quilt was "I could make that" by which I mean, I could make it 100% out of my stash. Not only that, but I could utilize some underused colors, such as pinks and yellow/golds.  I like that its all 19th century repros, but colorful and modern at the same time.

The second thing I thought of was, I already have the perfect backing fabric:

This has been languishing in my stash for years, waiting for "just the right quilt" .. heheh... do you know what I mean? Not a repro, but who cares?

Making this quilt was so easy and so fun! I used the above as my focus fabric, and pulled about twenty fabrics for the rectangles (I hesitate to call them blocks).

Here it is with the body sewn together, before trimming and adding the borders. It did tend to lean toward wonky-ness a bit, due to the edges all being on the bias, but don't worry, it all resolved in the end :-) 

Here it is, construction completed, quilted and bound, and fresh out of the dryer:

I machine quilted it mostly in the ditch, with a 4" grid. I think this particular quilt lends itself better to an all-over stipple, but I'm not brave enough to try that on my home machine. The quilt measures 50x57, a nice size throw, and cheery without looking too juvenile.

This will go to someone in need of comfort. Not sure who yet. Maybe no one I know will get sick for a while. That would be a good thing! But if not to someone I know personally, then it might go to Quilters for Hospice or to the VA.

That's it for the moment!


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taryn's Baskets

I wasn't going to make these. I don't know what happened.
My fingers got itchy, and the next thing you know I'd made a basket.
I started with block 3.

Resistance is futile!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

one finish and a couple new things

 I just managed to get a quick shot of this - all quilted up, bound, and washed - before I delivered it to my chiropractor, Cathy, who is currently being treated for breast cancer.

Very basic machine quilting - ITD between blocks, diagonal grid through the blocks, and "petals", "pumpkin seeds", "orange peels", or whatever you want to call them, in the alt. blocks. It probably should have been quilted a little denser for a better crinkle effect, but I think this will be OK.

 Meanwhile, my Stars in a Time Warp were nagging at me. So yesterday I started messing around with some layout ideas.  Here's a little peek of its current state of being, mostly still un-sewn.

I actually have three more stars to make before I can begin sewing it all together. Then I can start experimenting with some border ideas, a few of which are already brewing in my mind.

And... just for fun, here's a little mini I made over the weekend.

Sometimes you just have to indulge yourself and make a mini. You know what I mean?


Friday, May 20, 2016

Comfort Quilts

Lately I've been busy making what I call "comfort quilts".

A while ago, I made a couple lap-size quilts which ended up going to two very ill neighbors of mine. It was lucky I had them on hand, as they were originally intended to go to the wounded soldiers up at the VA. I decided then, and from now on, I wanted to have a few tops on hand at all times, just for when the occasion arises that someone might need a  quilt.

The idea is to have the tops done and backing ready, so all I have to do is machine quilt them etc. and they're ready to go. The sizes vary. The VA requests lap size (36x48) for the patients in wheelchairs.  For others, I like to make them larger, but no set dimensions.

I had just finished this top when my client/friend Melinda came down with breast cancer. I managed to get it finished and delivered it to her during the worst part of her chemo. I figured out the pattern from a Pinterest pin, and copied the color scheme as well. Sometimes its just the easiest thing to do.

Part of my motive is to try to whittle down my stacks of fabrics. I always seem to have an over abundance of browns, so I played around and came up with this design, influenced by some antique quilts I've been studying recently. I think it might be more appropriate for a man?  Part of me is tempted to add another border or two and make it into a large throw. 

This one is from the book The Blue and The Gray. This is a very easy pattern, yet very striking.  I increased the size of the blocks a bit, but used fewer of them.  This one also could go to a man.

Yesterday I found out my chiropractor has breast cancer. I can't believe how many women I know are coming down with this awful disease! Anyway, this top is next on my list to layer, quilt and bind, then it will be going to her.

I was on a roll, so I went ahead and made the one below for the VA hospital. I rarely make anything with a "patriotic" theme, but I had just the right amount of the right shades of blue and red for this, and got to use up some white-on-white that had been hanging around way too long.

If you look close you may recognize the blue fabric. Its what I bought from Temecula Quilt Co. for the setting blocks of last year's Summer Sampler, which I never made. Yes I bought the block tool and everything, but never made one block.  Well I'm glad I found a good use for the blue, anyway.

I'm sure there will be more of these to come, but that's about it for now. Oh one more comfort quilt:  look at my last post to see my Sister's Choice quilt. I decided to give it to my client Louise, who is in advanced stages of Parkinson's disease. She is the sweetest person, and I'm so happy to have a quilt to give her.

I do have other projects in the works, but nothing else to show quite yet.