Showing posts with label Texas Star. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas Star. Show all posts

Sunday, April 17, 2016

All Together Now

Earlier this month I sewed the last two long rows on my Texas Star quilt. Now all 333 stars are joined together:

The bright sun seems to wash out the colours a bit, but I thought it would be a good plan to take a photo before the weeds and ants take hold again on the patio!

I still plan to applique a narrow white border to even out the edges. But it is a nice milestone to get the English Paper Piecing part of the project done. There are around 3200 pieces -- I added it up once, but lost the paper the math was on! By some EPP standards, that is not a lot, but, it's plenty for me! I am glad to have this part done. To see all the posts on Texas Star so far, please click here.

Now I can re-focus on finishing the setting for Best Friends Forever, which is also EPP. Of the 22 BFF blocks, 8 are done...

...and another 4 or 5 are almost done. They are hard to photograph! I have not really looked at this project for about a year now. Seeing it with fresh eyes, I am very happy with how it looks so far. I'd forgotten how pretty the stitcheries are!

Remember this fabric that I bought after Christmas? I was going to cut it up and use it for the pieced background for BFF. But, I've changed my mind on that, again.

Now, for sure, I am going to piece the background with scrappy prints -- mainly light green, and a little pale blue and yellow thrown in.

Each flower block will need 24 scrappy kite shapes to turn it into a large hexagon. It sounds like a lot, but it is actually a simpler plan than some of the ones I've considered!

I know you will laugh, but I've also been considering making this quilt larger. The complete BFF pattern set has 32 stitcheries, and I didn't stitch them all. Since I've decided to make the background scrappy, the project is more scalable, and I may embroider a few more.

To see the posts so far on Best Friends Forever, including all the stitcheries, please click here.
We have company coming this Sunday, but I am still going to try to squeeze in a little sewing on BFF. Maybe start a new stitchery? We'll see. In the meantime, you can see what everyone else is doing for Slow Sunday Stitching right here.

We have just a few flowers in the garden now, but in a week there should be lots more. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What I Did This Summer

...And What I Didn't...

This foundation-pieced pine cone was designed by Cyrille Zellweger, who has an Etsy shop full of cute camping-themed paper piecing patterns. I bought several of them last fall...

...and promised myself that I would make them this summer. Full of enthusiasm, I started the pine cone right after my last post in June. I'd really enjoyed all the paper piecing I'd done previously, so I thought I would take it to the next level. My plan was to make the entire project with fabric by Art Gallery, which is really beautiful -- lightweight and with a high thread count. And it is great for paper piecing. The only problem... that they seem to have banned forest green from their production line. So that didn't work, but fortunately I still had a lot of my trusty Kaffe Aboriginal Dots in forest green left over from Sedona Star 1.0. I used that in the first photo above, and also in my second block:

You can also see that I used a medium scale modern print for the aqua sky. The colour in the pine cone photo is more accurate. It was an experiment, but I think it worked quite well.

But, even though they didn't take too long and all the problems were solved, I lost interest at that point. The thing I like best about paper piecing is the rhythm of sewing all those points. You can pre-cut your strips, and just sew -- light, dark, light, dark. When I looked at the rest of the blocks, I could see that every piece was a different size, and that templates would probably be needed, and it looked more like stop-and-go city driving than driving on the freeway. So I put it aside. I'm not saying I won't go back to it, but it wasn't the big summer project that I planned.

The big event in Toronto this summer was the Pan Am/Parapan Games. Although I didn't seek them out, the Games still found me. Near the end of the last week I was driving home from the grocery store, far from any of the venues, when I passed a couple of cyclists from Chile dressed from head to toe in their team colours. They caught up to me at a red light, and I could see that they were having a fantastic time, laughing and smiling from ear to ear. Toronto cyclists are not usually that happy, lol. It was like seeing a couple of flamingos among the pigeons, and a very nice moment.

It was also in July that I became very motivated to work on Texas Star again. Surprised me! After reading EPP guru Karen's blog for a while, I noticed that she sections her large quilts in rows, and then joins the wide rows at the end. My diamond section experiment was a total failure, but I decided to try Karen's approach. So far it's been a lot easier to manage, and I now have 245 of the stars joined up:

That's 99 more than last time, and there are just 88 left now. Isn't it funny how the numbers keep working out?

In my Summer Break post I thought I might work on Down in the Garden (DitG), Jacks and Cats, and Best Friends Forever (BFF) over the summer, but I've done very little on any of them. I think I need to pack DitG away for a while, because I've totally run out of steam on it. I may still pick up Jacks this fall. BFF is on hold until Texas Star is done, and I'll probably be happy to get back to it by then. I'm embarrassed to say that I still haven't bound those Homegrown placemats, but at least the potholders are done:

I really like them, actually, they're like fun little mini quilts.

And, over the next three Fridays I have three finished flimsies to show you, starting with Collector. I was hoping to bring that up to five, but I promised myself that I would make a big push to get some things quilted this fall, so that's a higher priority. But then again, after less than a week of catching up in Blogland, I was captured by the Ad Hoc Improv Quilter's link up that Ann and Kaja are starting. I knew immediately what I wanted to make for that! And then the next day this order of Laura Gunn's Painters Canvas, for a completely different project, arrived in the mail:

It is awesome, so you can understand how I am torn between too many options.

I know it seems like I am picking up right where I left off before the summer, but the long break from blogging was actually very helpful, and I will probably do it again next year. It gave me chance to step back and gain some perspective on all my projects. I'm tired of working on ideas that are three or four years old, or more, so I'm very motivated to clear out some old UFOs this fall, and get more current with my projects. We'll see how it shakes out!

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Sedona Star 1.0

For a change of pace, today's post is (mostly) about what I'm not going to make!

Early in January I had a big hunt through my stash for this orange fabric, which I wanted for My Country House. It is the perfect orange, not too gold and not too brown, but that's beside the point right now. The point is that my search started a whole process of digging through all my old quilty projects and making some decisions:
  1. Keep going
  2. Keep going but make some changes
  3. Toss.
The result has been that suddenly I've been working on, and thinking about, a whole bunch of projects at the same time. There hasn't been much to show, because I'm spread too thin. For example, in February I set myself a schedule to get Texas Star to the flimsy stage. According to the schedule, I should now have 227 stars joined up. As of today, the total stands at 146...

...which is progress over last time...

...but not ideal. Still, although progress is slow, I think we will all agree that it is looking pretty good. 

What you may not remember is that this is Texas Star 2.0. In 2011 (before this blog), after about 25 years and two cross-continental moves, Texas Star 1.0 went in the bin. At that point there were about 250 machine-pieced stars finished and ready to join. But, it just had too many problems, including dodgy fabrics and dodgier sewing. About 16 months later, Texas Star 2.0 got off to a much better start, and it will definitely be finished. But for now, I'm packing it away, because as I said, I'm spread too thin.

As you've probably guessed, the project I'm not going to be finishing is Sedona Star, shown at the top of the page. In fact, those photos are all that remain, because it all went in the bin in February. It had many issues, but the biggest was that it was big -- bed sized -- and my colour scheme was more suited to a wall quilt. So yes, Sedona Star 2.0 will be smaller. It is all planned, but not started.

I've already mentioned that this project, Trick or Treat baskets, was abandoned last fall:

Baskets 1.0

In fact I had about 12 to 15 done, but there are no photos, and these went in the bin in February too. Gosh, I imagine you are saying, I know they could have been used somewhere. And surely something could have been done with all those pretty Sedona Star circles. Yes, I thought about that quite a bit. But finally I realized that I can't do it all, and it would be a bigger shame if my newer, and much nicer, projects didn't get made because I was still flogging a dead horse with these.

So, Down in the Garden will get the nod, and we will see what happens when I focus on just one project at a time. I think it will be a perfect summertime project. :D

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Final Line Up for BFF

Last time I posted about Best Friends Forever, I said that 23.5 of the stitcheries were done. Before I did the final wash and cut, I decided to finish up that last ".5:"

And it's a good thing I did! Look what happened here:

I used the acrylic cutting guide from Paper Pieces to centre each stitchery on the 3.5" hexagons I'm using for the setting. It turns out that these two motifs, the basket and the house, were printed too close together. It's the only place I had this problem for the whole quilt -- usually there was 1/2" or more in between.

I'm not upset, because I wasn't a big fan of the basket anyway. When I stitched it I worried that it was too big, which it isn't. But I guess I knew something was wrong!

I always wash my finished stitching (cross stitch too) in plain unscented dish soap (environmentally friendly) to get out any oil or dirt. It works great, and I've never had any colour run. The linen was hung to dry, and then ironed from the back on a clean pressing cloth:

Cute, eh? Even the grunt work has been fun on this project.

Then all the motifs were cut, backed with muslin, and basted to the big paper hexagons:

I miss stitching these, actually. It was fun to come up with different stitches and colours for each one. The stitching for Down in the Garden, which I'm doing now, is not as challenging and is starting to feel dull. I may need to add something else to the mix!

Anyway, here's a reminder of how the BFF setting works:

As fun and exciting as this all looks, I'm not sure I can work on this and Texas Star at the same time without a total English paper piecing overload. And I've kind of set myself a schedule for Texas Star... So it may be a while before you see any more.

Finally, one problem I often have with internet photos is that you lose the sense of scale. So, here's a last photo with one BFF block, one Texas Star, and one of the hexie flowers from My Country House:

Is it different than you thought? They are 3.5", 5/8" and 1/2" hexagon centres, respectively. I should have put a ruler in the photo too. Anyway, lots to do!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Texas Star Schedule

Paulette made me laugh, somewhat hysterically, the other day when she asked her readers if we were ahead of schedule on any of our projects. We all know I am not good with schedules!

But my one successful schedule so far was completing all the individual stars for this project, Texas Star. Since then I have been sewing them together, on and off, and I have a good sense now of what is involved. So, a couple of weeks ago I did set up another schedule to get them all sewn together.

Here's my progress so far, the first 99 of the 333 total stars:

My plan is to add 12 stars per week, which should see them all joined by the second week of July. It seems far away now, here in the deep freeze, but the key to success is to make the schedule really easy. A few stars here and there in my spare time at the end of the day.

I have been really surprised by how soft the top feels! It's difficult to photograph "softness," but I've been trying:

I've realized that it's the English paper piecing that results in such a soft, smooth surface, because all the seams are left open:

Wrong Side
English paper piecing is definitely much slower than regular hand piecing, but I am so impressed with the result! I had been thinking that Best Friends Forever, which will also be English paper pieced, would be my last project using that technique. But now I think the door is open to another one, down the road!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Year in Review

I was going to do this after Christmas, but yesterday I noticed that the new moon and the winter solstice coincide this year, so now is the time to put the old year to bed, and then make Christmas the celebration of new beginnings that it is meant to be.

So I'm back! Last year Toronto fibre artist Kit Lang did a wonderful post reviewing her projects and learnings from the past year. I believe that improvement, whether you are an artist or an artisan, requires regular reflection and adjustments, so I decided then that I would do something similar this year. Here are the highlights of what I've learned in 2014.

I'd been stressing about UFOs for years, and last January's resolution was to cut them all loose. Clean slate, start over.

Well, it was easy to say, hard to do. All my old projects crept back on the list.

My final thought is that it's like gardening -- cutting away the dead wood makes the whole plant healthier, but over pruning can be equally bad. The trick is balance,

In May I got a new sewing machine, the Brother Nouvelle 1500s high speed, single stitch machine. What a difference it's made!

I've never thought that it's reasonable to spend thousands of dollars on fancy gadgets for a hobby, but I can feel my opinion changing on that. I'm finding that better equipment gives a better result, and makes the process a lot more enjoyable as well.

Also in May, I was able to get this project, It's Warm Inside, from start to finish in about 3 weeks. That was the fastest I've ever done anything quilty! It broke down some mental barriers for me about starting and finishing in a timely manner.

Why was this one so easy to finish?
1. I had all the materials ready to go.
2. It was just 16 blocks, so there was no time to get bored.
3. I planned and cut the whole quilt before I started to sew. Then I wasn't slowed down by decision making during construction.

No, it's still not quilted, but I count it as a success nevertheless!

Mod Trips
Finishing those 16 log cabin blocks empowered me to get back to these Scrappy Trips blocks that I'd started in 2013. You could say they were a UFO whose time had finally come!

I applied what I'd learned. Rather than choosing, ironing and cutting fabrics for the blocks one at a time, I chose and cut everything for the rest of the quilt in one go. This streamlined the process, and it helped me make better choices, because I could see how everything worked together.

Even still, it was a grind to get the 25 blocks done. I think my threshold is around 20 blocks!

On the other hand, the two pillow covers I made from the leftovers were really fun. I think I liked the puzzle of how to fit them all together. That's something I plan to do again!

Over the summer I also put myself on a schedule to finish my "forever project," Texas Star. The schedule was easy, just six stars per week, and it worked.

I had to put my other forever project, Trick or Treat baskets, on hold while I finished Texas Star. Then, as I was finishing up Mod Trips above, I came to a big realization. It's not enough for a project to be interesting, I also need to have an emotional connection with it. Mod Trips is nice enough, and I'm happy it's done, but it's all intellectual.

And the baskets will be the same thing, too much head, not enough heart. I like the grey colour scheme and the fabrics intellectually, but I don't love them. I may start it again down the road in different fabrics, but this version is definitely dead.

Although it's nowhere near finished, this new project Jacks and Cats was still an important lesson. I learned that it is good to have a big stash.

I hear the groans! Over a year ago I resolved to only buy fabric for specific projects, and to stop buying just for stash. But I've changed my mind.

What I've found is that when inspiration strikes, it is very helpful to be ready to go. I bought the magazine and started this project on the same day. The whole thing flowed together beautifully, and it was super fun to be able to ride that initial wave of inspiration. For me, I think that's the best way to work.

Yes, I'm a little worried that now the brakes are off the shopping cart, but actually, I've bought less fabric recently.

Ink Week Finale

November's lesson was about the importance of the blogging community. Really, it should be whole separate post, but I'll just keep going here.

I am so appreciative of all you, bloggers, readers, and commenters, for the support, encouragement and inspiration you provide!!

My project Down in the Garden, had been languishing with just a few of these herb pots done, when I noticed that Kaaren at The Painted Quilt had started it too. She encouraged me to get back to it, and crucially, added my blog to her blog list.

That's so important, because I can see the traffic coming in from her blog, and it's very motivating. It is very helpful to borrow someone else's confidence when your own is flagging! It gave me the encouragement I needed to just go for it with Ink Week.

Then Mary Corbet recommended the series, and sent a huge spike in traffic my way. But, right between parts 3 and 4, a family emergency briefly knocked things askew. Once again, it was knowing that people were watching and waiting for the rest of the series that got me back on track and helped me to finish. And I'm so happy I did, because it turned out even better than I'd hoped!

So, when I say that I appreciate you all, it's not empty words. I really mean it! You make me better. Thank you!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

333 Finished Stars

Yesterday I finished the last star for my Texas Star quilt:

I decided to use this low volume print, called "Warm Wishes," for my last three stars. As I got to the end I realized that I had some of my least favourite fabrics left, and I thought the last star should be nicer. I had a strip of this set aside for the binding of Mod Trips, so I cut it up and used it here instead. Against the white background they will almost disappear, and I like the idea of a few "ghost" stars among the rest.

I've been adding three background diamonds to most of the stars as I sewed:

Now I can sew the stars together without the boredom of all the white pieces. I've already made a start:

Back in August I made myself a schedule of six stars per week, in order to finish them all this year. I am so pleased that I have managed to stick to it! Some weeks I was ahead of schedule, and some weeks I had to catch up, but in the end I am right on time. If you missed some of the Ticker photos, here they all are again:

In the new year I may make another schedule for the rows, but I'll see how that looks after the holidays. After working on these for so long, it feels a little empty to think they are all done. I'll have to regroup a little now, and think about what the next big project will be. I put aside the baskets in order to finish these, so I may go back to those. We'll see!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

100 to go!

First, I want to say thank you to the Slow Stitching group over at Kathy's Quilts. What a warm welcome! It is nice to have the extra encouragement (in addition to my wonderful regular supporters), when all my projects are such long hauls. :D

If you missed the finish on the stitchery project I showed two weeks ago, it is here. And the second motif, which I was just starting two weeks ago, is finished here. I just made it under the deadline for that one! This one will be next:

But today's post is about my ongoing Texas Star English Paper Piecing project. I started it back in October 2012, and work has been sporadic. I've been keeping track of my progress with the "Texas Star Ticker" in the right sidebar. Then last week I cut the rest of the gold squares for the middles:

About 120 x 2" squares

It is amazing how hopeful I felt with those squares cut! I felt like a horse that perks up when it smells home. And felicitously, this batch of five stars brings the total to 233:

Which means there are just 100 to go!!

Some of you may have wondered where the plan for 333 stars came from. Well, I wanted a quilt that would finish at about 60" x 80", and I thought it would be easier to sew the stars together in diamond-shaped blocks, and then sew the blocks together. I drew up a complicated plan:

And when I counted up how many stars I would need, it came to exactly 333! So obviously, it had to be. I am pretty sure that "333" will be the title of the quilt when it's done. The complicated plan, though, has been abandoned, because with all the points the blocks are just too hard to manage. I will start at the bottom, add each randomly selected star one at a time, and build up row by row.

According to my Daytimer, there are 143 days left this year. 100 stars, 143 days, it should be doable, and I am going to make a push! Also according to my Daytimer, today is the 222nd day of the year. Cool, eh?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Maybe Next Year...

Well, it was a hard fought game, but it didn't go our way. The 49ers are done for the year, unfortunately. Sure, the officials made a couple of bad calls against us, but were they game changers? We'll never know.

At least I got some stitching done! Two red stars finished...

...and 16 of the centre hexagons basted and ready for the next batch:

My machine is back from the shop, so tomorrow it is back to the regular programme. It's amazing how much I missed it, even just for a few days! But I'm keen to get a couple more finishes under my belt, so hopefully you'll see those soon!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Go 'Niners!

It's just under two hours now until kick off in the NFC Championship Final between the San Francisco 49ers (yaaay!) and the Seattle Seahawks (booo!). In addition to winning the championship, the winners go on to the Superbowl, so it's a big game!

You can see I am all ready with some red and gold Texas Stars to put together while I watch. How many I finish will depend on how close the game is! Maybe I should rename them California stars? San Francisco stars?

Anyway, go 'Niners!
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