Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quarter Circles Round #2

It's probably because I've been hand quilting on the Quarter Circles quilt so much, but I just can't quit thinking about these bulls-eye blocks. I really like them. I want to make more. But I don't want an identical quilt, so... I thought and thought about it until I decided to start my 'Quarter Circles Round #2' quilt. Can't have too much of a good thing!
Playing with the bulls-eye block
And just to shake things up a bit, I'm making layers of circles (the bulls-eye) this time around. And then I will cut them into quarters like before. The circles are deliberately not perfect so that the end result will be a little bit 'off'. You've noticed that I'm very enamored of that look? lol Probably going a different direction with the sashing etc. too, but those decisions are for later. For the here and now, I'm just having fun with the fabrics and loving the different looks I can create from certain combinations of colors and prints.
Sewing on the middle circles
Why is it that I'm not done playing with these fabrics and colors yet? I'm really not sure. I worked with them in the Flowering Snowball quilt and also the Muddy Creek quilt, eliminating some fabrics and including others. There is something in my brain that thinks it's trying to figure something out. I just know it. No doubt when I'm done, there will be another color combination I'm fixated on and then you can shake your head and think 'that woman, she is a odd duck'. Or whatever it is that goes through your mind at these particular moments in observing human behavior....
Trying to get the fabric combinations figured out
With this quilt I have also been having a lot of thoughts about the process of working with 'scrappy' fabrics. For instance, in the first round of placing the smallest circles on top of the middle circles, I went very quickly, placing circles almost as I came to them in the stack. Occasionally I winced and skipped a circle or two because of an uncertain color/print combination, but mostly, I just refused to be over-picky about the process. In the last round {placing the top two sewn circles on top of the largest bottom circles}, I spent an hour and a half deliberating. What? I know, It made me stop and think too. Why was it completely unimportant the first round and now, so very much a big deal?

Well, first of all, the initial pull of fabric was a blend and combination that I was very pleased about. The fabrics are not exactly interchangeable, but they definitely 'work' well together. That made it easy to put two fabrics together. But when I added a third fabric {the largest bottom circle} to the mix, THEN I had fabrics vying for attention, competing in a totally distracting way, instead of the pleasant, make-my-heart-sing way. There's a difference! So I took my time and I tried to put fabrics and colors together so that they compliment each other in a way that looks lovely to me. And yes, you know me. I also made sure they weren't matchy-matchy or so 'precious' that I had to go running to cut more.

Anyway, I'm having a great time appliqueing this fabrics together and imagining the quilt they might make some day. I have a lot more thoughts about putting together scrappy quilts that I'd like to share with you. Maybe after the holiday? Right now I better get moving and shaking on preparing the food for our extended holiday dinner. For some reason people really like to eat during this time of year.*wink

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Log Cabin Blocks

I've slowly cut strips from the stack of low volume prints until I had enough to do something with. It took me awhile to get in the mood to start sewing though, mostly because the charm of these particular fabrics is very, very subtle. Working on the crumb blocks helped a lot, allowing me to see wonderful texture from combining unexpected prints together into a whole. We really shouldn't underestimate the ripple effects simply caused from playing!
My fabric strips
After thinking through different ideas about how to use these fabrics together, I decided on making log cabin blocks. I used to get stuck on the idea that difficult or complicated blocks made for better quilts, but more and more, I'm trying for simplicity {whatever that may be} in order to let the fabric, prints and/or color combination speak 'louder'.

 I cut the low volume strips into random widths from 3/4" to about 3", usually with a mix of several widths per fabric. I wanted the different strips widths so that I could more easily create a 'free' looking block, but I did use a ruler {and the straight of the grain} so I didn't have to worry about weird bias stretching. The fabrics may be quiet and subtle, but they can still have character. Mixing different widths seems like a super easy way to achieve this.
Starting the log cabin blocks
Starting with a set of five, {working in a chain piecing manner}, I made the first log cabin blocks. I sewed the lengths together, ironed them open and then trimmed at the end. Rinse and repeat around the center square. They don't look like much in the picture, but let me tell you, I am very excited to see them come together! The part between envisioning a quilt in my head and then trying to make it happen is often very difficult. Those wispy ideas seem very mercurial and uncertain when in reality, I need to remember that those ideas are just the spark. It's the place where I get started is all. And how many years did it take me to figure that out?*wink
The first 5 blocks on the wall....
Onto the next set of log cabin blocks! I will keep adding strips of fabric until they are approximately 9 1/2" square. Right now I am tentatively planning on making at least 32 blocks. Depending on how I end up setting them though, the number might increase to 40 or more. I like to keep my options open and um... free wheeling? This quilt is much more serious to me than the crumb blocks, but really, it's just a different kind of play.
Starting a new set
And why not? That's the best part about quilting for me, never quite knowing where I'll end up. Every now and then I actually get a result that feels rather brilliant and then all the frustration and agony of making the next decision feels totally worthwhile. When I get bogged down with indecision... well, then I just go play with something like the crumb blocks! Something that feels very no-pressure to me because honestly, I don't much care about the end result. Of course I'll be thrilled if it turns out to be really cool, but if not? What have I really lost? A bit of time and a handful of scraps from the scrap bin!
Crumb Blocks play
And yes, I did end up sewing the little strip of orangey-yellow into the crumb blocks after all. I really like the energy it adds to the quilt, that little unexpected bit of zest. Hmm... I think it's time to leave this on the wall and let it simmer for awhile. There are other, more important, projects beckoning right now!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Crumb Block Play

I didn't get much quilting done over the weekend. Too much going on and besides, my neck has been stiff for days. Makes it hard to do any of my hand quilting or hand work projects. It's finally starting to feel almost normal today which makes me very happy!
Playing with crumbs...
The little bit I did was just pure playtime. Someone told me crumb blocks are addictive and you know, they might be right... I've been sewing similar colored bits of fabric together until I can trim to a 4" block.
Auditioning the next round..
As you can see, I started with four red blocks, added two blue ones and then kept going around the red center with some mixed black/brown blocks-kind of a log cabin type thing? I'm just winging it really, until I get bored with what's going on!
Maybe an extra bit of color?
Anyway, here it is. Crumb block playtime. Good distraction from a lot of things that needed to be accomplished, including the monster pile of Christmas cards I was trying to get addressed and ready to send out.*wink

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Announcing the Winners!

We have winners! The SMS Giveaway was definitely a fun way to get to know people and hear their thoughts about making and creating. So great to hear the thoughtful {and often, heartfelt} comments regarding why all of us seem to need this in our lives! I smiled, laughed out loud and nodded my head so much that my neck is sore today.
The little birdie keeping watch over the entries....
Well, that might be because of the way I slept last night, but still, you get the idea.

My youngest daughter chose the winning papers out of the bowl for me. She's helpful like that since we tend to do things the old fashioned way around here! So without further ado the winners:

The #1 winner {getting the book and a pattern} is:
Brenda  I like that you describe yourself as a maker. That's a word I've used about myself forever. A little boy I used to take care of (now in his mid-twenties) once asked me, "How come you always have to be makin' somethin'?" It was tough to come up with an answer that satisfied a 5-year old, when my real answer is simply "Because." I've been like that since I was a kid, coming up with ways to make what I wanted. From using Kleenex and tape to make Barbie clothes and peach crates and left over hot pink enamel bathroom paint to make a doll couch to disassembling anything that didn't work (and some that did), just for the challenge of "making" them again. I just gotta. Because.

The #2 and #3 winners {getting a pattern only} are:
Jovanna  I love using inspiration from fabric
kelley  I make things with needle and hook because I can't paint...the drive to create has been with me since birth...my heart and soul are soothed by the repetitive motions of hooking or hand stitching...I follow your blog...you're on my sidebar...

I'll be emailing the winners as well, but if I don't hear back by Tuesday, then I'll have to draw another winner! Hopefully I can get these mailed out the first of next week. A big thanks to everyone that participated!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Finishing Up the Comfort Quilts

The giveaway will be open through Friday and then I'll randomly pick the winners on Saturday! In the meantime, things have been hopping busy as usual this time of year. We've had junior high basketball games, high school basketball games plus tonight is the annual winter concert. Don't even mention Christmas shopping. Puh-leeze! Who has time for that? I have managed to squeeze in a few frames of hand quilting late, late in the evening though. A person must have priorities.
Quarter Circles in the hoop
And, I am so proud of myself. Both of my comfort quilts are finished!! Well, except for the labels and they are written out, just not sewn on yet! It feels really good to get such an old quilt off of the list, but the other quilt just sort of jumped in the queue. Not exactly sure why that happens sometimes but mostly I try not to fight it too much. The initial quilt that gets made may not be fabulous, but you never know, the making of it can inspire something totally unexpected and wonderful. It has happened!
Ready for labels
In an effort to make the fall colored quilt look a little more fun, I did sew on a tiny bit of applique. The flower actually looked better before the seam allowance was turned under, but at that point I was done with the renovations.*wink
A little addition to make things fun...
The pastelly quilt made out of orphans went together very quickly and turned out fairly well. No applique after all {nothing exciting}, but then, I wasn't trying for exciting, just cuddle worthy. lol  When I washed it though, I totally forgot to use color catchers and some of the red fabric bled over onto the very light green fabric. Aggghhh!!! I always pre-wash my fabrics, so the bleeding really irritated me. I washed it again with color catchers and got some of it to come out, but it's still tinged pink if you know what to look for. And I do.
Two comfort quilts ready to go!
I think I used up about 10-12 pieces of  leftover binding pieces to bind these two quilts. It looks good on these sorts of quilts and makes me feel frugal and efficient. In fact, I didn't have to buy a single extra thing to make or finish these quilts. Everything was out of my quilt room including the thread! Win, win. Now I just need to pick threads one last time and sew the labels on. Time to get back to what I really want to be working on!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's Scraptastic Tuesday Again!

First of all, feel free to check out my giveaway over here. It's open through Friday! I finally made it through all 16 of my paper pieced scrappy tulips. I really, really like them, but honestly, foundation piecing just annoys me.
A stack of scrappy tulips. Keeping it real so you can see the puckers too!
Especially when I have to remove the papers. That's when I do lots of mumbling under my breath about someone thinking up yet another brilliant idea. Not that phone book paper doesn't come off relatively easily--nice trick that. I just hate having to take an extra step before I can sew!
Taking the papers off....
Once the papers were off, then I carefully sewed them together. It's a slight curve, so nothing too traumatic, but because of the scrappy piecing, I did end up getting a very small pucker occasionally. I used a seam ripper on the worst of them, but not all. It is a project from the scrap bin after all! Looking at them up on the wall made me want to do a happy dance. What is it with me and flowers, especially ones made from my scrap bin? Be still my heart! All the paper piecing angst is gone. Poof! Like it never even happened. lol
Looking at them on the wall!
I wasn't sure if I would set them in the original layout of a 4-flower block, but after laying them on this particular piece of fabric? Oh yeah! Ideas are already zinging around inside my head.
And then on a potential backing fabric...
And then, because I desperately need to work on reducing the scrap bin monster in the corner of my quilt room, these crumb blocks came about. I just grabbed bits of similar colored fabrics and sewed, ironed, trimmed, sewed, ironed, trimmed etc. until they were 4" square.
The first crumb blocks
It's a start to something. No doubt we'll be having a chat about that when I figure out what exactly! In the meantime, I am linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday. Can't believe I missed it last month!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day Newbie!


*This giveaway is now closed!
Since I skipped my 4 yr. blogging anniversary earlier in the year, it seemed like a good time to join up with the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day--something I've never done but always enjoy participating in. Such a fun event! A very big welcome to those coming here for the giveaways, and to my regular readers, I love you so much. Thanks for making my day brighter by coming back to visit once again.

For those that have been here before, yes, I did get that pattern made. In fact, I picked it up one day before our town went up in flames. Uh huh. After all the energy and time invested in preparing the Happy Flowers pattern, nature just kind of stuck a big fat pin in my plans and I deflated like an popped balloon. It took me awhile to get back to a regular routine of sewing, quilting and making, something that I need in my life like others need their hit of coffee in the mornings! In the meantime, my priorities have shifted a bit and my outlook is very different from what it was back in mid-July.

A giveaway!
Primarily, I feel that I am a maker. I do things with my hands in order to still something within my soul, in my very being. It is something that absolutely keeps me grounded every single day in our very busy, chaotic life. For the present, there doesn't seem to be enough time in my day to make those things and then also put the things I make into words and a readable pattern to sell.*sigh  Maybe later. Maybe even next year! If you know me at all, you totally get that I need to be immersed in my quilt projects without getting jumbled up in the paperwork--there's enough of that piled up on my desk already.

But enough about that. I have these patterns sitting here and a giveaway you came here to find out about! I will be choosing three winners: the first winner will get a copy of the book 'Time to Make--Throw Yourself At Your Creative Life' by Ginger Hendrix {a funny and very insightful book about the importance of making} plus a copy of my Happy Flowers pattern. Yay! And because I have so many of these patterns I don't know what to do with right now, I will be giving a Happy Flowers pattern to the second and third winners as well. A bit of a consolation prize I know, but you could always refuse to send me your address if you don't want one.*wink

So... To be a winner of this giveaway, please leave a comment telling me how important 'making' is in your life or what part of your quilting process feels most 'creative' to you. Either one, I'm easy. Followers can have an extra entry, just tell me how you follow! The giveaway is open internationally and will be open through Friday, December 12th. I usually try and answer every comment made to my blog, but for this giveaway post, I may not be able to keep up!



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