Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Under the Wire

The last of April sewing is done. Here is my Hat Trick for April Vintage Schnibbles with borders attached.  I'll be binding it with the green floral I used for the inner border. I'm really happy with how this top turned out and can't wait to get it quilted, bound and on the table!  This is also my April NewFO for Barbara's challenge over at Cat Patches.
My last UFO Finish for April is this table runner from the book "True Friends" by Nancy Halvorsen. This is my first heavy duty applique project and I can happily say that I've overcome my fear of machine applique! These fabrics are really hard to photograph... I find these nighttime photos actually show the colors best but they are so much prettier in person.  I'll try a few different places around the house tomorrow and see if I can do better.
Once I finished my first stem I was thinking NEVER again... but by the time I turned my first corner after doing three sets of stems and leaves I had decided it's not so bad and started to relax a bit. My Juki F600 has a beautiful buttonhole stitch and I learned a lot about pivoting on this runner! 
I quilted in the ditch using cream Aurifil thread along both sides of the applique sections and followed the diamonds in the patchwork center. After all of the hours of applique I wanted that to be the star.
This is my April Finish for "A Lovely Year of Finishes" and I'm linking up at the last hour.
                                                      My Button
I'm also linking up to Wednesday UFO Report@Patchwork Times.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Monday...

Guess what? I think spring has finally arrived in Northern Minnesota!
I'm keeping busy but it's not all quilt related. I wouldn't go so far to say I've been spring cleaning but let's call it spring sorting/organizing - going through drawers, filling up some boxes for donation and re-arranging what's left starting in our main floor living area. We have lived in this house for 11.5 years which is our longest stay anywhere and it desparately needs a top to bottom purge. I've been thinking about doing for at least a year so hopefully all that "planning" will pay off!  LOL

I've been listening to the "Prey" detective series by John Sandford and have really enjoyed sewing along with them. My library's audio collection had a gap where I had to request the books (I'm reading them in order) and I binged on these over the weekend plus one of the Virgil Flowers series on my iPad.

As much as I love the audio books for convenience I can read them SO much faster! Now I'm back on track with the audio versions on my iPhone and ready to tackle wallpaper removal in my new quilting room while Lucas Davenport solves more crimes.
My husband found a young family through school to take the bunk bed that was in this corner and they came to pick it up yesterday. I've got some bins laid out to store the last of our daughter's "treasures" in until she comes home in a few weeks for one last sort through. This will be my design wall - a nice big one so I won't have to resort to crawling around on my design floor anymore.
You can see 2 of my 4 imminent quilting tasks - add the borders to my April Schnibble and assemble these Strip Stacks blocks into a top. Task #3 is my Nancy Halvorsen table runner... I'm letting the applique get to to me and to borrow Nike's phrase I'm going to have to "Just Do It"! Task #4 is to paper piece my April block for "And Sew On...". I'd best get off the computer and get to work.

I'm linking up to Design Wall Monday@Patchwork Times.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Birds in the Air - In Color

Last week I played around with some layouts for my Crossroads blocks and this week I did the same with Birds in the Air blocks.

One Chevron layout (I will most certainly have one of these at the end of the year!):
Three Diamond layouts:
 I find it interesting how moving the white space totally alters the top!
Here I just did a quick mix of the colors... I would probably switch the middle blocks to alternate pink/purple with orange/green.
It's been a great month of green and I'm looking forward to a new color next week!

I'm linking up to ScrapHappy Saturday@soscrappy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Last WIP Wednesday in April

It seems like my projects are moving along pretty well this month... fingers crossed!

What's Hot!:
  • Picnic from "Scrap-Basket Sensations" blocks 
  • My UFO for the week is my Nancy Halvorsen table runner
  • "Hat Trick" for April's Schnibble Parade
  • Strip Stacks blocks - will be blogged on Sunday
  • FMQ Practice Sessions
I've got 8 Picnic blocks done with 72 to go. I put a strip of the fabrics I haven't cut yet below the blocks and I'm keeping my sewn waste triangles in the little green bucket. I'm using Kate Spain's Serenade on bleached white Moda Bella.

I gave my table runner a good press and started laying out the applique pieces. I am a newbie at applique of this quantity so I'm a little nervous about getting started. It wasn't until I looked at the picture below that I realized I'm missing the right border on the end!

Next step is a trip to the LQS to match up thread to the pale green stems. The colors in this fabric line are very delicate and rather hard to photograph, I ended up darkening this photo a bit for better contrast.

My Schnibble is pieced and I'm debating between serpentine stitch or straight lines for quilting. I ended up choosing a pale grey paisley on white print for the background and I like it quite well. I'll show you some close-ups when it's finished.

What's Warm:
  • My April block for "And Sew On"
  • Stripping wallpaper - my daughter is making a quick overnight trip home tonight so I'll be getting started later in the week.
What's Not:
  • Threadbias QAL - don't know if I'll work it in this month. I guess I'll see how the wallpaper removal goes.
Click on Lee's button to be inspired.
                                                              WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

A Few Thoughts on UFOs

Pulling out all of my UFOs last week to reorganize and take pictures seemed like a lot of work at the time and I spent a few days feeling very overwhelmed. Part of that was probably due to uncovering 7 more UFOs to add to the list. I'm glad I didn't attempt this 6 months ago because if 60 seems daunting 101 of them would have put me off quilting for sure!

The funny thing is... this week I feel energized when I look at my UFO Collection tab. Seeing pictures of them makes me WANT to work on them. Just the thought of moving them one step further up the list - from Need Borders to Ready to Quilt for example - is something to look forward to. I hadn't really looked at some of these projects in years and I'd like to highlight a few of them.

Stars Over Mitford from "More Nickel Quilts" by Pat Speth:
Civil War fabrics were never of much interest to me when I saw them in quilt shops. The Nickel Swap group I belonged to changed my mind when we had them on the list for a few months, because what looked dull and drab to me on the bolt came to life in 5" squares! I love these blocks and I'm glad I was able to find the beauty in these fabrics. I even kept the pretty waste triangles in the bin.

I also love that on those paper plates I have the color combinations already picked for the rest of the blocks so I can can grab a plate and start piecing (if only all of my UFOs were that organized!). Another thing to love is that my entire stash of CW fabrics is in that shoe box sized bin. When I'm ready to add the borders I'll buy what I need.

Scrappy Lattice from "Focus on Florals" by Terry Martin:
This quilt is going to be a stunner! Scrappy Lattice is the cover quilt and is a play on Watercolor Quilts. My 5" charm collection came in handy when I started this quilt. The darks for the cornerstones and the lights for the block centers are trimmed and ready. I sliced up a bunch of medium value charms and scraps for the pieced lattice sections. When finished this will be my largest quilt made by far - it measures 91" by 108". I need to count the lattice pieces and see where I am at.

Florals are the largest component of my stash, in contrast to CW Fabrics I have a shelving unit that is pretty much all florals. One of my favorite quilt shops to visit has a floral room... it's like being in the prettiest garden ever.

Can you see why I love nickels/5" charms and swaps so much? Such a jump start to a lot of pretty scrap quilts!

Last thoughts on my UFO Collection for today - while 60 UFOs is no small number when I look at the breakdown of where they are at in the quilting process my point of view shifts a bit.

Ready to Bind: 2
Ready to Quilt: 11
Need Borders: 6
Assembling Top: 6
Ready to Applique: 2

Adding up these numbers tells me that 27 of my 60 UFOs are on the homestretch to being finished. Only 9 of these are lap sized and the rest are smaller. That's VERY motivating to me!

And, when I look at the other 33 that are in various stages of piecing, many of them have a LOT of piecing already done. Lots of blocks and sub units are done and pinned in groups of 10. Some have notes telling me exactly where I am at (wonderful!) and I will be doing the same with the rest. I'll blog about that next time I talk UFOs.

I'm linking up to Linky Tuesday@Freemotion by the River and Wednesday UFO Report@Patchwork Times.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Scrappy Sewing & Stash Enhancements

Today I am working on scrappy projects - Strip Stacks 1 & 2 and my April Schnibble. Blue & Brown Strip Stack blocks are still on the Design Wall and I don't have room to add the additional blocks. Today I'm doing the 4 half blocks and then I'll move them all to my floor downstairs and start laying them out.
I put together 2 Scrappy Strip Stack blocks this morning - I always like a couple of test blocks to admire. I'm sewing these as my leader ender project for now.
And here is a peek at some of my 9 patch blocks for Hat Trick which is April's Schnibble. Instead of using charm packs I'm dipping into my 2" watercolor square bins. Today I need to decide on background fabric - white, white scrappy, light floral or light floral scrappy. I love these little projects!
I've got a swap coming up next month on the HGTV Quilting Forum and was shocked at how little blue I have in my stash so you know what that means...
a box of goodness from Thousands of Bolts!
I need blues, yellows and brights for the swap and added a few lights.
I'm trying hard to distract myself from the snow that is falling out my window... it might be a good idea to roll my sewing table back against the wall!

I'm linking up to Scrap Basket Sunday@Kim's Big Quilting Adventure and Sunday Stash@Kate Quilts.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Crossroads in Multi-Color

I must admit that I have been looking forward to doing this ever since RSC13 started! It's so fun this month to have 20+ blocks to play with. My plan is to have 80 blocks at year end to make 4 quilts for Project Linus. My chapter's preferred size has  grown over the years to be 48" x 60" so these will be right on.

I laid out diagonal stripes of color first.
Then I tried a zig zag or chevron effect.
I think they both look great! I'm looking to forward to adding another color to the mix in May... and get really happy when I think of all the colors still to come.

I'm linking up to ScrapHappy Saturday@soscrappy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Giveaway Winner & Other Quilty Things

The April Showers Mug Rug Blog Hop ended on Thursday and Mr. Random was called upon to choose a winner for my giveaway of a Soaked Layer Cake and coordinating backing/binding fabrics. Abby is the lucky winner and I will be mailing a package to her in Australia on Monday. Congratulations Abby! 
I also want to thank everyone who weighed in my Tale of Two Tops post HERE. Your comments were really helpful and gave me valuable perspective on the situation. I hadn't given much thought to how it would feel to rip apart both quilts (I knew it would be tedious!)... and I do think it would just keep me in an unhappy mood every night as I unpick them. So I am going to finish them as they are and, most importantly, MOVE ON!
Judy over at Patchwork Times hosted a UFO Parade this week and that naturally got me thinking about my UFO Collection. I've been wanting to re-organize them and get a better handle of where each one is at so I decided to take some pictures and add a new tab for them on the blog. Click HERE if you want to take a peek!

I found a bin of baggies down in the laundry room closet that weren't on my original list. Most of them were projects I was working on shortly before I fell and broke my leg so I'm thinking my Mom must have packed them up and put them away for me. Adding those to the mix moves my starting point from 94 to 101 and puts me at an even 60 to complete.

I've decided to change the title of my blog to asimplelife Quilts to match my blog.url and my profile (Deb@asimplelifequilts). At first I wanted to include Other Crafts in my title because I thought I might blog about them too and I wasn't really sure what I was doing. I think this is just a cosmetic change and won't affect anything other than what you see at the top of the page. When I get busy again with mosaics or making beaded jewelry I'll probably consider having separate blogs.

Why asimplelife? This goes back to when I exited the corporate world during my extended bout of clinical depression and moved to Northern Minnesota. My goal was to make life simpler and find joy again. I read a lot about simplicity and that concept is still very appealing to me. I used to sell mosaic tiles on eBay under the name a.simple.life and I've used it as my ID on quilting forums and boards for years.

It's a Friday Finish

Scrappy HSTs is my UFO Finish for the week. I don't remember much about this top, I'm guessing I had received a bunch of charms from a rainbow swap, paired them up and started making HSTs. Because that was totally me in my "All About Piecing" stage of quilting. Got an idea... sounds fun... off to sew... 94 UFOs in the making!

I really enjoyed quilting this yesterday and found myself pausing my stitching often to study a block or admire a fabric. I was especially drawn to the light fabrics and am thinking my next project might be a Low Volume quilt.
I am usually not very comfortable with random scrappy... I'm more of a controlled scrappy quilter. But I find that my favorite thing about this quilt IS the random aspect of it!  I love how blocks like the pink/red one above or the yellow/orange or all blue below are mixed in with the "anything goes" blocks. I hope I can recreate this look again.
The other thing that strikes me about this quilt is that there only a few fabrics that would catch my eye in a quilt shop for purchase but look how they shine together! I think a 5" charm is the perfect world when it comes to fabric - it makes them all look great.
I used white Aurifil thread for the grid style walking foot quilting and I decided to enhance the happy colorful top with a pieced backing.

This quilt will be donated to Project Linus.

I'm linking up to TGIFFCan I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Finish It Up FridayLet's Make Baby Quilts and Link a Finish Friday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Still Winter!

Can you believe we are getting snow AGAIN? @$&%!!!

What's Hot!:
  • Picnic blocks 
  • My UFO for the week is Scrappy HSTs
  • Knitting UFOs!
  • Strip Stacks blocks 
I'm getting underway piecing the blocks for Picnic (cover quilt from the book Scrap-Basket Sensations by Kim Bracket) using a jelly roll of Serenade by Kate Spain.  I think these will go together quickly and I so love this fabric line!

Here is Scrappy HSTs with it's pieced backing ready to be pressed and sandwiched.

Over the weekend when our daughter was home her boyfriend and I decided it was time to get her hooked on Mad Men so we had a marathon while snowed in and made it through all of Season 1. Such a great show!  I pulled out my knitting bag and finished off 3 UFOs while watching.
I love wearing scarves, both knitted & woven for a quick splash of color. The pink/lavender is a mohair type mixed with the modified ladder yarn you can see, next is a ladder yarn in blues/purples and the pastel scarf is a ladder yarn combined with a nubby cotton. 

I didn't follow a pattern for these, just cast on to a width I liked (whenever that was!) and on Sunday I knit until the yarn was gone. The mohair mix scarf is seed stitch (alternate 1 knit, 1 purl) and the other two are straight knitting on large needles.

What's Not:
  • Winter in mid-April
Click on Lee's button to be inspired - it's certainly my favorite place to hang out on Wednesdays!
                                                              WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Tale of Two Tops

This box arrived from my LAQ on Good Friday after an estimate of a couple weeks for turnaround time turned into six weeks. I could not wait to tear into it because this just about my favorite kind of mail ever!
Here is Watercolor Spring on top and Shabby Strings on the bottom:
 And another look:

Which photo set looks right to you?

Despite an email conversation before I mailed the tops, completed paperwork in the box I sent and the simple fact that the backing for Watercolor Spring is from the same fabric line (Morning Mist by Hoffman) as the majority of the quilt top the backings got mixed up.

It's been a few weeks now and I wish I could say I was over this, but I can't. These quilts have been out of the box 3 times... the day they came, on Easter when I showed them to my Mom and today to take these pictures.

I'm not posting this to beat up on my LAQ. She made a mistake. Not one that I can understand, but still a mistake. Unfortunately, her reaction to this has made it worse. I did negotiate a refund but it was very uncomfortable and I am left feeling like I'm in the wrong for being too "picky".  

I'm posting this for two reasons. I am usually good at trusting my instincts. She and I had some communication issues with the last quilts I sent in November. Things were totally different since I had last used her before my 3 year quilting hiatus. I thought maybe it was just a one time thing or a year end crush on her part so I wanted to give her another chance.  

I asked more questions up front about her workload and her experience with string quilts and how I wanted a very light batting with the flannel. Then I heard nothing as her "couple of weeks" came and went and had to email to check on status. A curt reply that I'm in line and she is busy didn't tell me anything new. I came SO close to asking her to send them back unquilted.  

I'm just as sad about this today as I was the day I got them. But I've got to make a decision and move forward. The thought of ripping out 2 lap quilts is overwhelming... but I'm not loving having a flannel backing on a spring top. And, Shabby Strings is so bulky because she used regular batting that it feels more like a comforter than a cuddle quilt. Neither backing looks right on either quilt.

Trust your instincts is Lesson #1. Lesson #2 is open for discussion. Are you "picky" about your backings? Am I crazy for wanting to rip the quilting out? What would you do?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Scrap Basket Sunday

Scrap Basket Sunday
Strip Stacks is coming along nicely, in fact I'm almost done with the blocks already.
The blocks are HUGE - 10.5"x 24.5". I've got 9 on my design wall and only 4 full blocks left to make plus 4 half blocks. It might be a flimsy by the end of the week!
I like everything about this pattern and I'll definitely be using it again... and again. I think I've hit my target on the older boy quilt too. I'm linking up to Scrap Basket Sunday@Kim's Big Quilting Adventure and Design Wall Monday@Patchwork Times.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Birds in the Air Blocks in Green

Another week of green in my quilting room and white outside... thank goodness for RSC13! I made 10 Birds in the Air blocks in green... click HERE for Nicole's tutorial. My only variation is I'm using 5" charms so I cut my background squares to 5" and do the double line, cut and trim method to make my HSTs.

Here are my HSTs arranged production line style on my dining room table (remember how all of the surfaces in my quilting room were covered in layers mid week?). I excel at getting things flipped around between layout and construction so I always take a quick iPhone pic to refer to if things look wonky once I clip them apart for pressing.
I like this pinwheel layout very much!
Then I turned them into diamonds.
So many great shades of green... I just noticed my matching points above. What are the chances of that happening with 30 different greens (2 HSTs of each) - I'd say pretty slim!

My daughter, her boyfriend and the J-cats are coming for the weekend... delayed by snow last night and might be snowed in for an extra day as we supposed to get 7-14" tomorrow. Tucker has a new hiding spot to surprise them when they arrive.
A stash tent!

I'm linking up to Feline Friday@sarah did it! and ScrapHappy Saturday@soscrappy.