Monday, April 18, 2022

Easter En Provence

My quilting on Flying Flags is on pause until I wind a few more bobbins. Why didn't I just do that?  I felt the itch to work on something different. So I dug around the UFO closet and the En Provence project caught my eye.

En Provence is a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt project from 2017. I had made 12 blocks and most of the units. It was all those neutral 4-patches that were dragging me down. When I unfolded the project, I found about half of the quilt was sewn together. Five more sashing units were needed and a few more pink tri-rec units. After digging through my neutrals box, I sewed what felt like a million neutral 4-patches. Finally all the parts were ready. I finished sewing the rows, then assembled the whole top. Hallelujah, the top is done!

BEFORE (in 2019):


The bright cheery colors of En Provence reminded me of Easter, so it was an appropriate project for this weekend.The backing will be a lavender star fabric from Connecting Threads that I picked up during one of their backing fabric sales a couple years ago. 

Once the En Provence flimsy was done, it was time to reward myself with a new project. Pam Buda had published a book Vintage Treasures in 2020, and a couple projects had caught my eye. 

The patterns in this book make little table toppers, but I wanted to make a baby quilt so I drafted one pattern into a larger size. The pattern I'm starting with requires thirty little blue/white pinwheels which I wanted to make out of the same fabric combo. No way was I wanting to cut individual triangles from strips! I decided to try the Magic 8 method in which you can make eight half-square triangles from sewing two squares together. I sewed a test piece to confirm exactly what size squares to start. Yes, there is a formula and tables published on several internet sites. They say to take the finished size unit you want, multiply by two then add 1.75 inches. But is the "finished unit size" the finished, sewn-in size or the actual HST unit before sewing it into your project? My test piece helped me see it is the finished, sewn-in size. Here is a chart which shows both finished and unfinished unit size:

While you are looking at Karen Walker's chezstitches blog, check out her pattern "Touch and Go". I've loved that design for a rather long time. Maybe I should buy the pattern to make a red and white version as a tribute to my beloved airplane. You can find it on Etsy HERE.

Back to those magic triangles. I decided to round up to the the next quarter-inch on the starter squares to make my test units. Just a little 16th inch trim on the resulting units was needed. I would rather trim a bit when playing with the itty-bitty units I required. So now I need to sew 15 square sets together to make the pinwheels for this new project. Then I can play with blue and neutral scraps to make the rest of the project.

Linking to ScrapHappy (hey, those pink stars qualify for April's pink theme)

Monday, March 21, 2022

March update

When you read someone's blog regularly, do you feel like you are checking in with a friend? There are several blogs I read or check every day. I consider them friends yet I have never met them or rarely interact even through email. I hope you consider me a friend, even though I don't check in / post often.

And that is the big myth of social media, right? The big myth is that followers and likes equate to friendship. So let me amend my statement. I consider you fellow quilters and I would enjoy meeting you because we have a shared interest. We would be friend-ly.  

Currently I am reading "Influence: A Social Media Thriller" by Daniel Hurst. The story has quite an interesting premise that resonates with my view of today's influencer culture. I can't wait to see how it ends! I freely admit to being influenced by people posting videos of makeup and clothing, although I do not blindly buy every product they feature. I just want to freshen up my look and see what products are available now while avoiding 'snake oil' items and styles or color combinations that are not appropriate for my body. Do you watch short videos on similar things? Leave a comment if you know you are being influenced, too.

Back to quilting. Quilting is a creative outlet for me and many others. My mood lifts when I find time to quilt. Do you feel endorphins rise or at least a sense of satisfaction when sewing a project?  Here is what I have been working on lately.

First, my RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) project this year is Friendship Square Diamonds. However, I am too impatient to wait for each month's color. Instead, I worked ahead and sewed most of the colors needed for a 6x6 layout. I need six more blocks, planning to add 2 light blue, 1 orange, 1 yellow, 2 pink. These are surprisingly easy to make. I will add a simple 2" border once the blocks are arranged and assembled. Don't look too closely; some of the white bars don't quite meet perfectly.

My smaller version of Bonnie Hunter's Rhododendron Trail is slowly growing. This week the hourglass grid blocks were added. These blocks are so pretty in person.

Next flimsy I will quilt is Flying Flags. I sketched out a simple FMQ design of swags and stars for the center, and a chain of stars around the solid outer border. This one is sandwiched and waiting patiently for me to get started. For me, the step of designing a quilting plan is what delays the finish. That's why I have such a collection of flimsy's still waiting in the closet. 

On the flying front, my airplane is back home in its hangar. But I still have some avionics issues that need to be resolved. At least I got in a couple hours of flight time this past month. It was so peaceful to slide through the air and float below the clouds, away from all that pollen on the ground. My car has turned yellow from all the pine tree pollen!

What are you working on this week?

Linking to Soscrappy

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Heading Home is Finished

 Announcing my first finish of 2022 - Heading Home!

This little quilt was my obsession two years ago. I had a jelly roll from Connecting Threads in bright colors, and found several complementary scraps to make this quilt. It came together rather quickly, but the quilting pattern eluded me. 

There were several helpful hints on quilting blogs and YouTube. My favorite tip was to use heavier quilting in areas you want to recede in the background and lighter quilting on areas you want to highlight. I wanted the flying geese to "fly" and the sashing to frame the lines of geese. I sketched FMQ motifs that I was comfortable sewing and used angular echoing to highlight the geometric design. Voila! I had a design! Then I 'spread my wings' (flying geese theme) by doing a different design in each polka-dot square. I'm really proud of how it turned out.

Next up is the Flying Flags quilt that one commentor recommended in my last post. It was sandwiched on Sunday. It will be quilted in light teal thread in a wavy, star-studded motif.  I think.....

Monday, January 24, 2022

January Progress

Winter weather means more time indoors catching up on chores and Creative Time. Do you try to get through your task list, too, before allowing yourself to play with fabric?  Quilting is my reward. I turn on the bluetooth speaker and jam to my favorite tunes while sewing. It's my happy time.

The stars aligned so that I could get some significant quilting time recently.

Finally FINALLY finished quilting Heading Home. The scrappy binding strips were ready to go in a baggie, so the binding is on and ready to be hand-stitched down. I wonder should be quilted next? There's plenty to choose in the quilting closet. I need your help choosing what to quilt next.

Flying Flags has its border on. The flag fabric backing was not wide enough, so I added dark blue star fabric to the edges. The aqua binding strips are cut and waiting in a baggie. The quilt scheme right now is wavy lines across the quilt with stars in alternate rows. Should this one get quilted next?

The Jackknife blocks called out loudly for assembly. I started stitching the blocks together and decided the bulky seam matching was not doing it for me. I dug out a solid dark aqua and found just enough for thin sashing and a plain border. Thin sashing is definitely the way to go on these blocks!  But it sure does take a while to assemble all those blocks. Now that it is together, I almost wish I had made one more row for a 6x8. Almost. But it's together now and I have a great backing fabric. If there is enough dark aqua left for the binding I will use it, but right now I may use extra backing (white-based print) for binding. Should this one get quilted next instead of the flags?

By the way, scrappy blocks seem to explode all over my shirt. Check out this thread mess!

January's color is red, but I have not sewn any red blocks yet. Which RSC blocks should I make?  Diamond Friendship Squares, Crumb StarsChaser Blocks or Jacks and Sixes? Those diamonds have caught my eye, but I also really like the Jacks, maybe alternating backgrounds between color and neutral.   

The only new project I have added is Bonnie Hunter's Rhododendrum Trail. Five of Block A have been completed. I don't need to make a big quilt, so am thinking about makining only 12 Block A and 6 Block B. There are already a few examples online of smaller versions like that. The colors are a bit washed out in this picture - but it's evidence that I actually made some blocks. Are you working on this pattern, too?

Linking to Monday Making   and  Oh Scrap!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Wrapping up 2021

It's been seven months since my last blog post, so I will start by filling you in on what has been happening in my life.

Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep.

[At least that's what it feels like.] 

I switched jobs in February, landing a great position at a large nonprofit. It is really nice to have my opinion respected, and to be able to make a big impact. Like $$ millions impact. Positive. I handled filing for various pandemic-related relief programs, and improvements in controls and forecasts. Now I have a title upgrade and a big pay increase. And the work environment is awesome - like a big family without a lot of drama.  

On the sewing front, I actually did get a few projects done in between the Work/Sleep cycle.

1. Participated in the RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) by making 48 blocks from Bonnie Hunter's Jackknife pattern from the Addicted to Scraps column.  The backing fabric is a colorful print from Connecting Threads.

2. Finally finished quilting Moda's Be My Neighbor quilt. I am thankful so many of you posted examples of your quilts online so I can borrow quilting ideas. My collection of thread colors grew by necessity, trying to match all the bright colorful fabrics in this project. This one is even labeled!

3. Finished all the blocks and assembly for Flying Flags (or nearly finished - had to rip out a couple seams to flip some of the flags around). This was a super easy project. Once the border goes on, this flimsy will be added to the Awaiting Quilting pile.

4. Heading Home is in the quilting stage with just one final section left. Sketching out the FMQ design was the big game changer which helped me approach FMQ with confidence. I am quilting a double set of angled lines in the flying geese and outside the black triangles, with infinity loops in the white sashing. Each polka-dot square or triangle will have a different FMQ design just for fun. I will finish up with a bit more quilting with black thread in the black triangles, then add scrappy binding. 

5. Made all the scrappy squares for my version of Good Morning Sunshine. A few have their outer triangles but I'm considering switching up a few bold prints for calmer prints so the scraps will stand out more.  

6. Cut out pieces for a Connecting Threads kit called Flock of Geese. This will be sewn in 2022.

7. Bear Claw quilt is fully assembled and ready for quilting.

On the personal front, I was able to travel to visit my parents twice this year. My dad turned 80, and my mother is not far behind. It makes my heart ache to know that we will not have many more years together. I cherish the opportunity to visit and help out whenever I can. 

We also got to see my daughter twice - she surprised me with a weekend visit this summer, and we recently traveled to visit her for Christmas. She is still young enough to need her mom and dad, yet independent enough to live 800 miles away, working on her bachelor's degree and working to cover some of her expenses.  I may not always agree with her choices, but I am proud of what she has accomplished and for working toward her life goals.

On the flying front, well, maintenance issues continue to stymie my desire to fly. A loose wire caused a small fire (while we were on the ground doing an engine warmup, thankfully). I finally found a shop to fix it and will be flying it to the shop (with the electrical power off) as soon as weather permits. Before that happened, we got in a trip to a local fly-in and met up with lots of fellow aviators and walking the field to see all the awesome airplanes.

My theme for 2021 was "Do" and although I had lofty goals in mind, at least I feel happy with what I was able to accomplish. I also learned to not compare myself and my work pace with others. Instead, I am learning to savor the journey and choose to be happy with it.

And that brings me to the theme I have chosen for 2022 - Savor.  Tomorrow is the start of a brand new year that I plan to fill with experiences to savor. I hope you will join me in savoring the journey, rather than counting coup or comparing yourself to the oh-so-perfect-but-how-can-I-ever-measure-up social media posts.

     If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.  - Leo Tolstoy

     Beauty and ingenuity beat perfection hands down, every time.  - Nalo Hopkinson

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

RSC Update for May

Have you been working on RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) blocks? I have participated for several years, off and on. On those off years, I feel intense FOMO (fear of missing out) and vow to try again the next year. For 2021, I am working on two RSC projects. 

My first RSC2021 project is Bonnie Hunter's Jackknife block pattern. My zeal for this year is obvious. I've been working ahead and already have SIX sets of blocks.  My goal is to make 48 blocks then assemble into a lap-sized quilt. I finished May's red blocks. Missing colors are light green, orange, teal, light blue, brown and black. 

But wait! Do you see that low contrast green block? Here is a close-up:

Should I make a higher contrast replacement and relegate this one to the back, or keep it on the front as a lesson in choosing better contrast?

My other RSC2021 project is a square-within-a-square inspired by QuiltDivaJulie and her Dumpster Diving Quilt "Good Morning Sunshine". Take 1.5-inch strips in a color family to create an 8.5-inch square, then pair a contrasting wild print for the large outside triangles. The resulting blocks should be 12-inches but mine are ending up more like 11.5-inches. That's okay. I have several middle squares, and am saving several wild prints to eventually finish 12 blocks. So there's not much to see.....and it's not making much of a dent in my scrap pile. I may just have to choose another scrap-busting quilt next year.

I love seeing blogspots by fellow quilters and seeing progress on their RSC quilts!  Hope you are enjoying making RSC quilts as much as me!

Linking up with SuperScrappy


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Bear Claw Time

Springtime here means vibrant azaleas, heavenly peach blossoms, and flowering trees of all types. I have enjoyed the deep pink and white azaleas edging our front yard. 

View of my yard:

View near my office:

I have not seen many insects other than wood-boring hornets buzzing around our log home. We put out a couple traps and managed to catch a few. We found several holes, sprayed some insecticide and plugged the holes. Yesterday I looked on the front porch and found a pile of sawdust under the bear sculpture climbing the front post. I didn't find any new holes, so my husband took a peek. He found the bear had a new butthole and armpit hole. He's all plugged up now. LOL I wanted to respect the bear's privacy, ya know.

On the quilting front, I have nearly assembled the plaid bear claw quilt. One of the yellow blocks needs to move over and then the colors will look better balanced.

I'm still working on the quilting for the Be My Neighbor quilt. This project is stalled until my thread order arrives. I have plenty of thread, just not in the right colors. 

Last week Naughty Me started a flag quilt and a scrappy Irish chain, adding to my backlog rather than reducing it. I need to quilt a couple flimsies to rid myself of the guilt. 

On the flying front, I have not flown my airplane since last August. <sigh>  It's time to get back up there, after I address a couple issues. I scheduled the airplane's annual maintenance check and hopefully will get back up in the air in early May with an instructor for a flight review.  Then soon I can post some cloud pics and high aerial views and maybe fly to one of the events now that people are starting to venture out. I'm vaccinated and ready to go!

Please post a comment and let me know what is your favorite aspect of spring time!