14 January 2017

A Fireside Chat: Layer Cakes

I'm spending a lot of time in front of a warm and toasty
fire this weekend.  I've heard some of the side streets
are a little icy but we found everything to be completely fine so far.
The rain has started but the temps are above freezing still.
 Bring it on.  We're prepared to just stay in all weekend,
stepping out only for Mass.

I really hoped to be cutting out the rest of a quilt and then start on
the piecing but the background fabric I ordered is darker than
I had hoped.  And I have another on the way.
(Not a big problem--I always need ivories!)
So, instead of the sewing room, this is my view.
Not bad, huh?
But I'm also watching the mailbox.

I'm excited about this next quilt.
I have a layer cake of reproduction fabrics that
I've been anxious to get into a quilt.  

I love to pick out fabric.
But sometimes I see a whole line that I want to work with.
Insert the pre-cut market.  Layer cakes, charm packs, et al.
A whole set of fabric pieces all coordinated and ready to go.
The sampler pack.
A box of all kinds of chocolates.

I just can't decide if I really like cakes and charms.
I love having that array of fabrics; I like seeing them out on my shelves.
Plus, there is a huge selection of patterns out there designed
around each size of precuts to choose from.

But here are my three big issues:

Accuracy just might be out the window.
They're cut with a zig-zag, or, pinked.
Straight edges can be precise.  Fuzzy zig zags can not.
And that zig zag is cut IN to my 1/4" seam allowance.  
All of this causes some real issues if you are trying to get, say, 
two or even 4 5-inch squares out of a layer cake--which is what
most layer-cake-specific patterns have you do.
And if you have to then cut those squares into triangles,
well, your triangles now have jagged points.
Personally, I'm into precision and this bothers me.

To cut two 5-inch squares above as accurately as possible,
I actually had to measure in from both sides.
(taking more time by the way)
Most squares were a pretty scant five inches.
We'll just have to see how this plays out.
(once I actually had some squares that were so under the said 10-inch measurement,
I had to cast those aside.  Fortunately, I didn't need the entire cake.
But, I still think that cake was defective.)

Can we just make the cuts a tiny bit bigger
so that we can measure from the "dip" of the zig zag
instead of from the "peak"?  Or, better yet, let's just go back
to straight edges.  Please.  And be slightly generous
so we can straighten up the imperfections that can happen
in mass production.  

I guess the moral here is, pick your pattern carefully.
If you need to cut your cake into 
5-inch squares,
you'll have no waste, and that's a great thing.
But beware there may be some pretty scant 5-inch squares.

Issue number two can come with any pre-cut.
We all just want to get the best use out of our piece of fabric.
The above is the waste I get with every square for my latest quilt.
So maybe this is directed more at pattern designers?
But I can see how it would be difficult to make all kinds of quilts
to "fit" specific precuts so, I get it.  I'm just thinking maybe
yardage might be a better choice for some patterns.
Fortunately, I've got log cabin plans so I think this might not be such
a big waste after all.  Or maybe I can figure a way to slip the 
scraps into the quilt border or backing.

Choice issues.
Inevitably, some of the fabrics are just not going to work.
I find that there are often some that are too light,
which is an issue I'm currently frustrated with.
Or, there are just too many lights.
Or too many darks.
And I really don't like when solids are thrown in.
To each their own but, for me, solids are boring and cold.
I have one quilt with a solid so it's not like I'm a hater.
They just aren't my choice.
One more problem here is that sometimes a print is just too big.
You might have one or two objects in a 10" square,
and then end up cutting them up.  Especially if they're off-centered.
Anyway, the moral here?  
It's just not a given that your layer cake will
work for every layer cake quilt.

Perhaps these are all just things to keep in mind when working
with layer cakes, charms, and all other pre-cuts?

12 January 2017

The Game Plan

I finally made my list of what I'd like to accomplish in the
sewing room this year.  I'm easy-going; I'm not going to stress it.
But I also want to stick to my goals.
So it makes me feel pretty good that the first goal listed
is already completed.  If we're going to look at signs
or indicators for the year, let's use that one!

Table Runner
Completed 1-9

Baby Quilt
This is for my niece who is due with her first girl in May.
I find the colors she's picked out for the nursery (mint green, coral)
a little difficult to work with (none in my stash) so I think
I will go with a kind of generic quilt with all kinds of colors.
Maybe even 30's fabrics.  And then I might pick up
one of her colors for the border or something.
It's no fun if it just doesn't match at all.
I don't really know her style so, I don't know...pinwheels?  
I love this quilt--just not sure I want to do all those prairie points.
Though, it would be another new thing for me to try.
And growing in knowledge in this craft is important to me.
Finish Gnome Quilt #2

Oh the gnomes.  I so love this fabric.
When I made a baby quilt out of this last year, I wanted to
keep working with it so I made these 12" blocks.  STILL have
plenty of that fabric so I'll have to make another one some day.
But for now, I'd like to get these set into a quilt.  I found some fabric
for the sashing on the shop hop so I'm good to go here.
No idea who to give it to, though?

South For the Winter quilt

Guess what?  I've already started this one.  My take on it
will be a very old-fashioned one, though, instead of batiks
as pictured.  In fact, I'm going reproduction fabrics.
In cutting these out today, I came up against my "beef"
with layer cakes and charms and all those fun little pre-cuts.
I plan on addressing this in my next post.

But anyway, I like that this is such a small, often-repeated pattern.
So many of my quilts lately have made beautiful patterns
but are noticeable only when stepping way back.
I look at this and see something that's going to look great
folded up on a shelf or laying at the foot of a bed.
It's not a special pattern, no, but I think it will round
out my quilt collection nicely.

"Catherine" line by Jo Morton
(not the brown in the back though)

I'm real "in" to reproduction fabrics right now.  They tell a story.
I've always wanted to make a Civil War quilt, too.
If anyone out there has a great book on these that they recommend,
I'd love to know.  There seem to be plenty so I should just hit the library.
Stories behind old quilts fascinate me.  It's history.
That's why I'm attracted to the Farmer's Wife Quilt.

Scrappy Log Cabin
I just have to do something with the scrap issue around here.
I was about ready to dump the whole pile in a bag and donate it
when I came across a log cabin quilt that made me re-think this.
So I did a search and several came up that I'd love to do.
I'm posting this one but I'm hesitant because, frankly,
I'm afraid I'm going to get "geesed out".  I've made a whole
lot of those things lately!

But it is beautiful, isn't it?  I'll just make the decision when I get there.

Finish Graduation Gift Quilt
This one I would love to get finished.  I hate having it sit there
but the thing is, I'm afraid if I finish it now, it will get enough
creases and folds in it by May that it won't look like a new quilt
when I gift it to my niece.  So I'm putting this off till at least April. 

Farm Fun Layer Cake
  (project unknown)
I have some ideas in mind here but more than anything,
I just want to get my layer cakes used up.  And then,
I swear on my stash, that I'm never buying one again.

Unless it's on super-clearance....

Vintage Kitchen Charm Pack
 (project unknown)

No idea what to do here but I do love these fabrics!
Again, though, I want to move out my pre-cuts.

Farmer's Wife Quilt?
And this is to be my big project of the year.  Ok, one of several.
But send in the angelic choirs, I really think this is the year I tackle
that Farmer's Wife quilt!  I even splurged and FINALLY picked up the
28 fat quarter set of Sunday Best; I got the charm pack (cringe)
last summer as a way to dip my toes in and test the water.
I swore I wouldn't pay full price for the fat quarter set though.
However, I've been watching--they're slowly disappearing so
I don't think they're going to ever hit a clearance rack.
And just last night, there was a 10% off at the Fat Quarter Shop
so I did it.  If that wasn't an obscene amount of money to spend
on more fabric when I already have plenty...!

But, on the flip side, I've thought this one over for many months.
This is a big quilt.  A big project.  And I really don't want to deal
with constantly picking out fabrics.  
And I love these bold fabrics.  Even after months and months of waiting.
So, when seen in that light, I don't think the move was all that bad.
Especially if I turn around and make it worth it, right?
If it sits on my shelf and I get tired of it, then--THEN I'll feel bad.

Finish Quilting Circling Geese
Now, last but not least, this still needs quilted.  I started out
on it a few months ago but it was very forced and didn't look good at all
so I just set it aside.  It's not like I don't want to do it--though
I definitely don't want to rip out the little bit of quilted I did do.
It's that I don't want to mess with moving my machine into
the sunroom (where there is more space) for just this quilt;
so, as soon as I get another quilt top or two ready,
this will get finished.

So there it is, the game plan for this coming year.
I even got my tab/page made up with this list to be held accountable.

After no gardening last year, I'm really needing to do a big one this
year so I know, soon enough, that will take a lot of my time.
We'll just have to see how much I can get done before

And that ice storm?  Moved back several times now from Thursday night
to Saturday morning.  I think us Kansans all see where this is going...
It's hard to take it seriously at all but, we're ready either way.

10 January 2017

Weekend Project

Outside of the BOM that I've begun,
I seem to have a bit of "quilter's block", pardoning the pun.
I've gone from trying to pick out fabric (from the stash) for one
quilt to another and yet another and just nothing seems to work.

So then I decided to try a smaller project.
Maybe I "over-did" myself cramming that bear paw quilt?

While I have seasonal table runners for our formal dining table,
I don't have any that work year-round.  In slowly moving out
the Christmas decor, I was reminded of this yet again.

I still found it a real struggle to make anything work and considered
this could be a sign that I needed to move over to knitting
for a while--which is what I'm usually doing this time of year--
but I just stuck it out and came up with something workable.

The colors remind me more of Kansas summers but, right now,
it's going to be part of a Kansas winter.
Of which, from what I hear, we're about to get a good, solid hit.

My brother and sister-in-law dropped this lovely arrangement by
a week or so before Christmas and it still looks great.
I love a woodsy-themed Christmas so this fit perfectly around
here these last weeks.

On point.
Another first for me.  I need to read up a little more
on it but, for now, close enough, especially for a small project.

The deck is stocked with firewood and I'll need to get on top of laundry,
baking and anything else to make riding this storm out go as smoothly
as possible.  Hopefully, it'll even be fun--especially if it's mostly/all snow.
I love a winter storm but I've learned that ice can really wreak some havoc.
(One year we lost power for 5 days and had to stay at my mom's.
Not only did we lose trees but having the house get down to such frigid
temperatures will mess with appliances and computers.)
I have a new quilt in mind and I'm praying the background fabric I ordered
gets here before Thursday evening when the ice and snow is predicted to hit.
And that it works with the fabrics of my layer cake in mind.

09 January 2017

And So the Year Begins...

Usually I make my lists
(Goals, objectives, quilts, projects etc)
on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
This year, well, I'm still working on them.
I hope my slow start is not a sign of the year to come
but maybe of, say, a more relaxed attitude?
Yeah.  We'll go with that for now...

But enough chit-chat.
I'll get to the lists another time.
I just wanted to stop by this morning to show my first
block of my first, and possibly last, quilt of the year.
I've chosen to participate in the
Quilting Life Block of the Month
over at A Quilting Life.

I have plenty of projects circulating in my mind
for the coming year (will be adding that tab soon) but I'm still
in the mood to work on Christmas gifts.
Maybe that seems a little silly to some but I like to slow-roll
the Christmas season (even though the stores were stocking
Valentine's Day and Easter the very day after Christmas--ugh!).
It's still the Christmas season and I want to keep celebrating.
So, after New Year's I typically head right
back into my sewing room and start on gifts for the
next Christmas--at least for a few months until garden
season begins and then takes over my life.

Fabric selections so far

And when fall rolls around and I find I've
already gotten "X" amount of gifts made...well,
there's just never a thing silly about that.

January...and I'm starting on Christmas gift #1.
Well, why not?

01 January 2017

2016 Re-Cap

Not my biggest year for projects due to the big surgery
in the spring but I think I finished strong.  In the sewing room at least.
My favorites of the year?

Grizzly Paws
Marathon quilting here.  Record finish time.
Record pieces.  And a couple of "firsts."

Stars Over the Cabin
Another record-breaker here.  In size this time.
Just as big a surprise as Grizzly Paws though.
Some scrap-busting as a bonus.

Circling Geese
Well, this last one still needs quilted but I wanted to include it.
It was a big scrappy project that I'm really happy with.
Love the deep colors.  While the other two were gifted away,
I may have to keep this just for me.  I really wanted to try raffling it off
but I'm still not sure the best way to go about doing this 
this for the specific charity I have in mind.

It seems that big projects can either wear you out
or get you excited to do more.
All three of these have left me excited to do more.

 Below is a full re-cap, similar to my tab above
A happy, healthy 2017 to all.
May it be one filled not necessarily with many projects,
but with ones that bring you challenge, enrichment and joy.

(Unnamed; '17 Graduation Gift)
Top Finished May '16

Farm Fresh Baby Quilt
Completed 7-19-16

Gnome Stars Baby Quilt
Completed 9-10-16
Gifted 10-16

Gnome Stars Lap Quilt
All 12 blocks completed 7-26-16
No further plans on this one yet.

 Re-Cover Table Top Iron Board
Completed 7-31-16

Little Red Riding Hood
Top completed 8-3-16
Layered and basted 8-24-16
Quilting completed 10-30-16
just needs back of binding hand-sewn on

Winter Windows
Pieced Fall '15; Quilted Jan '16
Completely finished 10-13-16
Gifted 12-25-16

Completed 9-26-16
Gifted 10-16

Circling Geese
Ready for quilting

Stars Over the Cabin
Top Completed 10-17-16;
Gifted 11-13-16

Started 12-1-16
Finished 12-20-16
Gifted 12-24-16

Birthday Gifts
1 Pair cable mittens completed 2-16; gifted 10-16

Christmas Gifts
1 cable scarf completed 1-16; to be gifted 1-17
1 pair fingerless gloves 1-16; gifted 12-16
3 pr cable mittens completed 2-16;  gifted 12-16

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