Saturday, December 30, 2017

RSC17 Wrap Up

It's the last Saturday of 2017, which means it's the last link up for the 2017 Rainbow Scrap Challenge. This was my first year participating in the casual, choose-your-own-project link up, and I have really enjoyed it! Everyone has been lovely, and you can't go wrong looking at a lot of colourful projects every week.

I started the challenge halfway through the year, and made a few of Bonnie Hunter's Talkin' Turkey blocks each month.

This is a photo collage, since the top is still not sewn together! The grey background is just the back of my cutting mat, and I actually love the way it works for photos. The camera seems to "see" the colours more accurately, and there's less shadowing with the seam allowances. In fact, I like the grey so much that I've decided to use grey instead of pink for the sashing on Moth in the Window, which you'll see again with my New Year's resolution in a couple of days.

For this project, Technicolor Turkey, I decided late in the year to make a pieced beige sashing, which is part of the reason it got delayed. But, it's looking good, and the first quarter is sewn together:

With scrap quilts it is always a challenge to keep pieces of the same fabric from being sewn together into a clump. I realized that if I use a completely different set of fabrics for the sashing, I will be home free! Fortunately, I had just restocked my selection of beiges, so I used many of the new fabrics in the sashing.

Now it is just a question of buckling down and sewing the rest together. I won't let myself start on my 2018 projects until this is done!

And, there are two 2018 projects planned. This ambitious rainbow layout, that I shared before, is on. It seems that everyone loves a rainbow! You'll see the full horror drama of that plan when I actually start it.

The second, more relaxing, project will be another Bonnie Hunter design, Garden Party from her book Addicted to Scraps. I'll make those blocks only when the colour of the month is a flowery colour -- pink, purple, red, orange and yellow. And maybe white too! I plan to change the setting a little, and it'll be shades of green, blue green and aqua.

Katie has just finished her pretty RSC17 version of Garden Party, which you can see here. I think she had a smart idea to make this quilt as an RSC project, since it has so many blocks and so many small pieces. So I am following her lead!

There are other wonderful finishes too in the RSC link up this week. But really, I recommend the whole month of December, which you can see if you click here. I'm looking forward to 2018!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Daydream Baskets Flimsy

Last time you saw this project, I was thinking about using the fabric crumbs left over from the improv pieced baskets to make the setting triangles. I spent a couple days sewing, and a couple more days thinking, and then I threw all the bits out. It was just a distraction, and didn't help the design in any way.

There are two main stories in this quilt -- the improv piecing, and the colour scheme. For a small wall quilt, that's enough. So, I just sewed the blocks together and cut simple setting triangles from the same fabrics already in the blocks.

Daydream Baskets flimsy, about 37" (94 cm) square 
Two of my reject blocks were cut up to supplement the crumbs, and went in the bin with the rest. But, one had survived, and I used it as a setting triangle on the lower right there. A bit of Japanese influence to go with all the Asian fabrics!

I will say that as a rule, it would be better to use sashing or alternate blocks of solid fabric with these blocks, because there are a lot of heavy points coming together in the seams. There is quite a bit of "problem solving" happening in the seam allowances on the back!  Anyway, my plan is to free motion quilt it here at home, so hopefully I can work around the lumps.

This quilt was inspired by the #basketswu sew along started by Barb, and my improv inspirations are always Ann and Kaja. Check their blogs to see what else is happening with the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters as they wrap up 2017!

I will probably be back again in a day or two with some Ringo Lake progress. I'm making changes!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Happy Holidays

Well, the holiday crunch is on, so I'll take a moment now to wish everyone a great holiday season, no matter what your holiday is. I'm still sewing in my spare moments, and I hope I'll be back between Christmas and New Year's.

I'm taking a "wait and see" approach to Week 4 of On Ringo Lake. I'm not sure it will look good in my fabrics (blue and red), and I'll have to see a bit more of the big picture before I decide on that. Maybe it will be ok, maybe I'll add another colour (pine green?), maybe I'll tweak the design. In any case, it's a busy time, so I'm happy to have an excuse to wait!

So, be happy, be safe, and take a moment to appreciate the successes of the past year. And maybe make a plan or two for next year. That's what I'm doing!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Daydream Baskets

"Daydream Baskets" is the name I have settled on for this quilt inspired by a daybed at Windsor Castle. I think that hits the right tone -- it is a potential minefield!

All three of the blocks I shared last week have gone into the reject pile. I realized that it is crucial that the centre triangle be darker than both the basket and the spikes.

I also realized that five blocks would not be enough, and added another round to bring it up to thirteen blocks. Thirteen allows for a better exploration of the block and its variations, and it just seems to make more sense.

So, here they are:

Way better, eh?

Now I am debating the setting triangles. I have been thinking about sewing together the crumbs from the piecing for some "made fabric" triangles, but I'm not sure there are enough. I've also been see-sawing on the issue of sashing. But, now that I am studying the photo, I've had an idea about that.

We'll see how it pans out! In the meantime, please check out the rest of the improv at AHIQ #27, right here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Life is Good

So, in my last post I said that I was going to pass on Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt this year. But, first thing Friday morning, before breakfast, I was downloading the clue. It looked pretty easy, and even better, it wasn't the HSTs I was expecting. (Although I am sure they are coming!)

One of the many colour schemes I'd considered was primary colours -- red, blue and yellow. As soon as I saw Bonnie's nine patches I knew that would be the best choice for me. I put on the coffee and got to work.

In September I stocked up on white prints, specifically for that pattern I won in August, but also for this mystery. So I decided to rough cut both quilts at the same time, and I was stressing about how best to optimize the fabric, and then I thought...relax. I have plenty of fabric!

And then I came across that perfectly framed piece of selvedge for The Good Life, and I realized that I can stop worrying about all of it. Yes, I have more WIPs than I want to count. Yes, I want push my artistic boundaries more than I have been. But, there is time for all of it. This is not an "or" situation, it is an "and" opportunity.

Everything that needs to be done will be done. Right now I'm just going to relax and enjoy the ride. Life is good!

So, here are the first twelve, and the rest of the strip sets are cut and ready to sew throughout the rest of the week.

AND I'm ready with all new baskets for AHIQ tomorrow!

But in the meantime, check out the rest of the On Ringo Lake participants in the Week 1 link up, right here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Improv Baskets

For some reason I thought AHIQ would be starting today. Oh well! I'm ahead of the game for once. :D

Almost a month ago Barb (Fun with Barb) and Kelly (Pinkadot Quilts) started a basket sew along ( #basketswu ) inspired by an antique basket quilt. They have both posted excellent tutorials, click the links by their names to find them. I thought I would have a crack at an improv version:

I had the idea for a small improv wall quilt with a red background right away. For some reason I always want to do improv on a red background! Then a week or two later I watched a documentary about the watercolours of Prince Charles, which was quite interesting. It included some B roll from Windsor Castle, and this outrageous day bed:

The combination of scarlet silk damask on the walls, pale jade, lavender and copious amounts of gold gilding caught my eye right away! A colour scheme was born.

I'll admit, it's a challenge to translate to my stash! But, at least the improv piecing is going well.

I'm determined to keep this quilt small, so only five blocks are planned. Three are made:

I'll probably have to make the one on the right again. I did plan to put the lavender in the spikes and the gold in the centre, but somehow I mixed them up when cutting. Argh! Since there will only be five, they will all have to be fairly strong on their own.

I'm not thrilled with the values in the other two either, but, I think the next three will have more contrast and that will make it all work. I hope! Anyway, that is the beauty of a small quilt -- it's not a big investment so it's easier to take a risk. I'm planning to make small quilts my focus in 2018 as well.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! Technicolor Turkey is coming along, but it won't be a flimsy by Thursday. I still have two quadrants left to join, and the border as well. Definitely by the end of the year, though!

And, every day for the past two months I've had a different plan for On Ringo Lake. Right now I think I will have to pass. As part of my decision making process I've added a new page to my blog that summarizes all my Bonnie Hunter Quiltville quilts. I am happy with all of them, and I think it will be better to move them along rather than adding another.

So, that's my update for today. See you again next week for AHIQ!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wild Turkey

The RSC colour for April was "multicolour." That could mean many colours in one fabric, but I chose to interpret it as many fabrics in different colours. As I cut the fabric for each month, I put aside extra for these blocks.

I first planned to make three multicolour blocks, but then I started to have doubts about just how wild they would look! I made extra green blocks instead. But, now they are done I do rather like them.

Most of my pieced sashing is made (I took a break from quilting Picnic). I still hope to make my Thanksgiving Day goal for the finished top, but I'm thinking it's at best 50/50 right now.

Bonnie Hunter has announced her next mystery, On Ringo Lake. I've been waffling about that quite a bit too. I planned all along to make it, but then I started thinking maybe I should finish more stuff first. But, then I started to think about a new colour scheme...and now I may do it after all. This one will be smaller than previous mysteries, and that leads me to believe that it will be more densely pieced. I'm sure it's going to be beautiful. And actually, I think I've been able to deduce quite a lot just from the outside measurements! I'm sensing a lot of aqua HSTs in my future...

In the meantime, please check out the other RSC participants, right here. I think several are close to finished tops by now!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Dark Turkey

The RSC colour for November is "dark," which is certainly appropriate for November around here. Next week I'll be putting the snow tires on the car. With luck, I won't really need them until January, but it is good to beat the rush.

As you can see, my three dark Bonnie Hunter Talkin' Turkey blocks, for my quilt Technicolor Turkey, are done.

Most of my dark/black fabrics were bought with my Collector quilt in mind, when I was very interested in the idea of "sparkle" and high-contrast fabrics. I think the prints help to keep the blocks from feeling too heavy.

And my weakness for fussy cutting continues as well!

We're in the home stretch now, so I've made a start on the sashing too. In August I had the idea for a pieced sashing similar to the sashing I made for Hanami.

Stack of beige strips

But, then I thought that a solid sashing would be better, and I cut about half the strips.

I thought I would start sewing them on as I go, but after only three I ran out of steam. Then they sat in the bottom of the drawer for a month.

Second stack of beige strips

For two weeks now I've been seriously looking at all my UFOs, and asking why have they stalled. The answer on this project is that I have to do the pieced sashing after all. It's more work, but doing it right is actually less stress.

Now, all that's left are the two multicolour blocks that were needed for April. I deliberately saved them until the end so I could use leftovers from all the other blocks.

Right now, though, I'm busy re-quilting Picnic. Yesterday I planned to sew together those sashing strips, but the free motion foot was on the machine for Picnic, and I just have to finish it before I change back to regular sewing. So it may be a while! Nothing creates dead time on the blog like a large quilting job.

In the meantime, check out all the other dark blocks at the RSC link up, right here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cardinal Stars Finish

It's almost exactly seven years since I first cut the fabric for this quilt, and Cardinal Stars is finally finished!

It's one year since I sewed the red binding and extra yellow flange to the front. I learned how to do it from Mimi Dietrich's book Happy Endings (Martingale 2013), which is practical and helpful.

I thought that machine sewing the high contrast yellow flange nice and straight would be the hardest part. But then I wrecked my back, which changed my posture, and it turned out that hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt had become extremely painful.

I don't have arthritis, the problem is excessively loose joints and pinched nerves. Every couple of months I would try another few inches of binding, and the pain would return. I used to hand sew every day, and for the past year this binding is the only thing I've even attempted.

But, over the last month I've been working on my shoulder, and whatever was out of place seems to have corrected itself. Yesterday I was able to finish the last side and the last corner in one sitting! So that is a considerable relief.

I'm not going to jump back into a full schedule of hand sewing, but at least now I know I can do it once in a while.

Cardinal Stars, about 62" x 62" (158 x 158 cm)

After all that drama, the finish feels a little anticlimactic to me. But, I think all my experiments -- retrimming and remaking the blocks, "floating" the blocks on the background, my first time renting a long arm, and the flanged binding -- were quite successful. I have learned a TON, and I think part of the reason why this quilt feels out of sync to me now is because I've come so far.

So, yay! A second finish for 2017, an ooold UFO off the books, and some hand sewing hope for the future. :D

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Green, Part Two

Last month I shared my three forest green blocks for my Technicolor Turkey RSC17 project, based on Bonnie Hunter's Talkin' Turkey pattern. This time it's lime green.

I tried, but I was completely unable to resist using this Jolly Jungle fabric in the centre of all three blocks!

It is So Darn Cute.

There is not a lot of contrast between some of the limes and some of the backgrounds. But, I think other blocks have more than enough contrast to make up for it.

If you set the pattern with the darker colours, you will see it here too.

At least, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

Check out the rest of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge participants at the link up right here.

I've also been thinking ahead to next year already. I have a really crazy idea...

...and this is the first stage of deciding how it could work.

So far, it seems doable.

Of course, just because I can, doesn't mean I should...

...but so far, it seems to have legs.

It's a Really Crazy Idea.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Enough for Now

So yes, they're very cute, but I think that my Hallowe'en diversion with Jacks and Cats is over for now. It is just over six weeks until the next Bonnie Hunter mystery, and before that

At least I finished up all 55 of the wonky nine patches I planned for Jacks and Cats...

...and that feels like a natural stopping point. They will be trimmed to different sizes depending on where they end up in the quilt. Next time I open the box, I will have to finalize my plan for the applique. Right now that still feels tricky, so it's back to the basement for this project!

Technicolor Turkey is going really well, and I'm feeling good about that. And about 20 months after I bought it, I've finally realized that I don't like the fabric I bought for my Allietare border. New fabric is on the way! So I'm hoping that will be an easy finish now too.

With the year end approaching, my list of 2017 finishes is feeling too short. I'll have to see what I can do about that!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Feels like Fall!

Well, the season has finally turned here in Ontario. Even though the colours have not been the best this year, I still love all the gold undertones in the leaves, contrasted against the grey sky. I've been contemplating this colour scheme for Bonnie Hunter's next mystery, but I'll wait until she reveals her colours before I make up my mind. I still think blue & white is a good idea too...

But anyway, Technicolor Turkey is well in hand, so I felt like I could take a break and pull out my old Hallowe'en UFO, Jacks and Cats. I need 55 wonky nine patches for the alternate blocks and pieced border. I'm making them in pairs:

And I've been rediscovering a lot of interesting fabrics in that box! Love those sunflowers above. These oak leaves on the right are terribly dated, but I do still like them. Back in the spring another quilter expressed surprise that I have fabrics from the 90s in my stash. And I was surprised that she was surprised! But I was thinking today that the 90s were 20 years ago, so maybe I am a little out of touch. :D

All the blocks are still waiting for their final trim, but I made reasonable progress today:

I have no illusions that I'm going to finish this quilt this year, but it will be nice to move it along. I've changed my mind several times about how to handle the applique blocks, and more experimentation is necessary. In the meantime, I can play around a little more with these blocks. I think I will give them a little extra improv treatment.

And once these blocks and the border are done, there really will be no more excuses for avoiding the applique.

Plenty to do!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pink Turkey

The RSC17 colour for October is pink, and my three pink Talkin' Turkey blocks are done.

Many people have said they're considering making these blocks too. I highly recommend them!

The design is by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville, and in my first post I shared the two places you can find it. It is fun to make and very forgiving, because you do a final trim of the strings before you put on the last round.

Even though I've now made many blocks in many colours, it still surprises me when I put on the last round and the block transforms from sort of messy to sharp and crisp!

And there are hardly any seams to match, either.

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, so Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers!

I hope this is the only pink turkey anyone will be served.

And check out all the other pink entries in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link up, right here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Moth Movement

It's the beginning of the month, and the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies continues! Although I haven't posted about my Moth in the Window project since June, there has been steady behind-the-scenes progress nevertheless.

1. I bought more fabric.

I carelessly checked to see what was new from Art Gallery fabrics, and I could not resist a few of these Sage prints by Bari J.

2. I decided (again) to make it bigger.

Reading back, I see that my original plan was 90 blocks, but I know that after the last post I settled on 56. But, now I have more fabrics to use, so the final plan is 81 blocks and just a simple solid border.

3. I cut all the fabric.

This summer I realized that it is a lot easier on my shoulder to cut shorter strips, rather than a full width of fabric. And it is easier to keep the short cut pieces neatly stored and organized, too.

Since I don't have a dedicated studio, this has proven to be a real improvement in the process!

4. I made a few more blocks.

Somehow it really entertains me to have the same fabric in different colourways, like this background fabric here. It's like a poem that rhymes.

5. And a few more...

Yes, this last one on the left is another dud. Two pretty fabrics, not pretty together. But, with 81 blocks to choose from, I'm hoping a few imperfect ones will just blend in.

Right at the end of August I took this photo of our sedum, which was just swarming with honeybees. Driving around the neighbourhood, almost everyone who has a garden has this same plant, so it is good to know that the bees are well fed before they go down for the winter.

For me, I'm sorry I've been MIA for most of the past month. When hurricane Maria was bearing down on Florida, I had my own emergency, with a late night ambulance ride, two difficult and painful procedures, and an unexpectedly long and difficult recovery. It has made me pretty grumpy, and I expect it will still be a few weeks before I am back to normal. But, at least I can still sew a little. :D
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