Tuesday, October 3, 2017

FAL for Fourth Quarter 2017

Here we are again, the beginning of a quarter when I logged no finishes from the previous quarter.


I thought I would get one done in time - the easiest one of all - but I had no time to sew on Saturday so it will be a 4th quarter finish.  At least I'm starting out a new quarter with one in the bag, right?

I'm going to try a new tactic and put a few things on my list that are also gimme projects.  After all, Christmas is coming and I'll need to finish one or two things if I want to gift them, right?

So here is my updated and revised Finish-A-Long list, the longest yet:

#1 - Candy Bar table topper - this will be my first finish
#2 & #3 - small quilts from 100 Blocks Volume 15 test blocks
#4 - Slide Show quilt (batiks) - this has been sitting on my midarm for months now

#5 - Modern Vortex

~~~~~~~~~~~~ and here's where we deviate from previous lists ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#6 - Soho Chic cupcake recipe charm square top

#7 - Patriotic cats charm square top

#8 - Keep it Sassy! charm square top

#9 - Moda Layer Cake Mix recipe, Kaufman celestial blue with Jen Kingswell's Behind the Scenes
#10 - my One Block Wonder from the class I took in April.  This is now a completed top, at least I made progress on it last quarter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~let's keep going!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#11 - a Downton Abbey tote bag I started last year at the same time as two others which have since been finished.  I intended to keep this one for myself which is why the others were finished but not this one.
#12 - a fleece winter hat with faux fur trim.  Preferably before winter fully arrives.  Have the fabric (gold fleece with black fur trim) and pattern, but again, it's for me, so it hasn't been prioritized.
#13 - Christmas decor!  I have a matching pair of kitted table runners - one says 5 minutes, the other says 15 minutes ... so why have they sat in my pile to sew for five or more years??

Okay, some say 13 is an unlucky number, but it can't be unluckier than I've had so far since I've finished nothing in Q2 or Q3.  So my mission is to make 13 a lucky number! 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Charmed! Demonstration

The Ladybug Quilt Guild's Diamond State Quilt Show was this past weekend and I did my demo about using 5" charm squares ... but I upped my own ante and ran through TEN ways to use charm squares without books or patterns.  I did not do a handout, but promised a post here for anyone who wanted the details to come check it out.  So here it is:

1.  Divided Nine-Patch - The divided nine-patch technique involves sewing nine charm squares into a grid, and then slicing midway down the outside rows (2 1/2" from the unfinished edges).  Insert a 1 1/2" strip in the open seam and sew back together.  Do sides first, then top & bottom.
This can also be done with a coordinating Honey Bun in the same fabric line as the charm squares for a scrappier look.  For a tutorial, check out John Adams’ (aka QuiltDad) “Off the Grid" quilt at Moda Bake shop.

2.  Disappearing Four-Patch.  This technique technique requires two sets of charms, dark and light, sewn opposite each other.  Then make four slices, each one inch on either side of each seam.  Flip each RECTANGULAR piece 180°, leaving all five squares where they are.  Sew back together.   If you press consistently, nesting seams makes this a very easy block!
Here is a top I made of one each charm pack of Spring House and Bella Solid in Baby Yellow, but I cut two inches in from each seam rather than one for a slightly different look:
3.  Templates.  Templates are a great way of using a charm pack without having any real purpose to it.  If you have an Accuquilt Go! Cutter you have a whole array of templates to fit your 5” charm squares.  If not, you can make them from template plastic or order them - I like the metal ones from Ardco which include a nonslide surface so they grip the fabric.  Hexagons, Drunkard’s Paths, Applecores, or appliqué shapes like hearts are all great to cut and sew from charm squares.

The cats are cut from patriotic charms backed with fusible web using the Accuquilt die.  The quilt below is a Drunkard's Path variation using one charm pack of Pure and three coordinating fat quarters for the border.

4.  Half-Square Triangles.  It couldn’t be easier to make HSTs from charm squares - four at a pop!  Simply sandwich together right sides of two charm squares and sew a quarter inch seam around the outside.  Cut across the diagonals twice and press open. 
When pressing, be aware that your HSTs are cut on the bias, so handle carefully - and trim for best results.  Your unfinished squares will probably measure around 3 1/8” so trimming to 3” even will yield a 2 ½” finished HST unit. 

Each of the four squares in this top was made from stash charms - five of blue, five of green and ten of white, with additional white triangles as setting squares.

5.  Hourglass.  This technique is courtesy of Monica Solorio-Snow at the Happy Zombie.  Cut two charms in half diagonally.  Measure approximately halfway from the hypotenuse to corner (it can be any length you like, but make it consistent) and cut parallel to the diagonal.  From the trapezoid, cut off and discard 5/8” from one of the ends (even if you use different size squares than 5”,  this number always stays the same!).  Sew the triangle from one fabric onto the trapezoid of the other for a triangle unit.   

These triangles can be arranged in a lot of different patterns including hourglass, square in a square, and others.
This top was made with one charm pack each of Sakura and Bella Solid in Porcelain.
6.  Flying Geese with Bonus Half-Square Triangles!  Flying geese with charm squares are a snap.  First, cut each charm in half.  Then cut off ½” from the short end of each rectangle so that your pieces measure 2½” by 4½”.  The background is made from 2½” squares, which can be made quickly by quartering a charm square.  Draw a line diagonally across the back of each square.  Place on the corner of the rectangle and sew along that line.
 However, you don’t want to waste your corners!  Try using Bonnie Hunter’s bonus triangles technique to turn them into halfsquare triangle units!  You’ll need a business card (they usually measure 2” x 3” and are of good firm cardstock) trimmed to 2” square and then halved diagonally.   As shown top center, lay it on the corner, trace a line along the edge, and sew along the line.  The distance between the seams will be approximately 3/8” so cut between them carefully, splitting the difference.  Press the unit, and repeat on the other side.  This method will yield two flying geese units and four 2”  (unfinished) HST units per charm for a border or another project. 

7.  Cupcake mixes and paper piecing.  Have you seen the new Cupcake Mixes by Miss Rosie for Moda?  It involves sewing a piece of paper onto a pair of charms, sewing along dotted lines and cutting along solid lines.  It is a great way to turn charms into miniature quilts.  Similar papers are available from Spinning Star designs (Sew Mod has a great tutorial on using them here) or make your own following Quilting and Whatnot's ideas.  I made the top below with the Spinning Star design paper for half square trianges and got eight out of a pair of charms.

They're tiny but my corners are spot on!  This was made with one charm pack each of Soho Chic and Bella Solid in Leaf (and border in Leaf also).

8.  Slash.  This technique comes to us courtesy of Kim Walus at Bitty Bits and Pieces (although she calls it RaeAnn's Charm Pack Quilt, "Slash" fit on my short talking notes and made me remember what the technique was!).  It involves slashing a charm in half diagonally and sewing it back together with a 10" long 1.5" strip between them.  The link to her page above gives a great tutorial.  I made this quilt top with a Metropolitan Fair charm pack and a yard of Bella Solid in Burgundy.
I'd love to play around with this some more, like using scrappy strips to "slash" with, sewing different halves of charms together, or even cutting the finished square in half a different way to rearrange even differently.  So many of these methods can be mixed and matched for a variety of results!

9.  Shadow.  This is a great technique from Jayne at Twiggy and Opal, and works wonderfully for a modern quilt, like her tutorial shows, or when you just don't want to cut up those charms.  It also makes a larger quilt, not only because there are fewer seams, but because you use two coordinating fabrics, one for the "shadow" and one for the background.  My top below is made with Legacy, along with Bella Solids in Hometown Sky (shadow) and Ivory (background).
I took Jayne's tutorial to one more shortcut, and strip-cut the shadow bits by piecing WOF strips together and cutting down to 1.25" strips.
10.  Keep your eyes open!  Chances are you already have patterns for using 5" charm squares in magazines and books.  Loyal readers of my blog know I love the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks issues, and each time I get a new one, I go through and note which designs lend themselves well to charm squares, jelly rolls and honey buns.  There are also great free resources online like Moda Bake Shop and Quilter's Cache - when I find a new pattern for Charm Squares, I save it in my favorites in a folder called "Precut pattern" and add the word "Charm" to the end of it so I can pull it up quickly later when looking for a project.

So there's some great resources for working with charm packs without books or patterns - although I do love books and patterns!  Pat Speth's Nickel Quilts is one of my favorite resources (and she has a blog with free designs too!) and also Me & My Sister's Third Time's a Charm books.  Below is a quilt top I made from one of those books using Olive Sandwich's "Sassy!" line:

If you're looking to build up your stash without breaking the bank, here are some of my favorite sources:  
  • Green Fairy Quilts - charm packs and other precuts at excellent prices - just ordered more today to take advantage of their Ninth Anniversary Sale!
  • Fat Quarter Shop - just about every Moda line I love, along with coordinating yardage, and also the Cupcake Mixes!
  • Thousands of Bolts - although they don't sell charm packs, they do have the best prices on Bella Solids yardage I've ever seen, and carry nearly every color in stock.  They also sell the swatch chart if you love matching the charms to the solids like I do.  I like to stock up on my coordinating solid and store it with the charm pack, noting on the label what goes with what.
Finally, if you have a friend (or six!) who wants to amass their stash as much as you do, start with fat quarters and cut them down into common precut sizes.  This is a great guide for doing so!
This should give you enough ideas to dive into your stash and start sewing!  Enjoy!


I spent a full week working on the post from my Charmed! demonstration from last week's quilt show and lost it - apparently even though it kept saying "saved" it reverted back to the one that had been saved way earlier in the week, halfway through #2.  And I did not select all and copy just in case like I often do with posts in forms.

If you've been visiting here looking for that material, please hang tight ... I'm working on recreating it.  Grudgingly.  Thanks for your patience!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lots of sewing, little progress

Does it ever feel like life is just a series of "when this, then that" statements?

I keep thinking, "I'll have more time to finish this sewing project when the quilt show is over" or "after I'm done block testing for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks issue, I can get back to work on this quilt for me."

It's one-day-at-a-time progress, isn't it?  I keep "to do" boards going so I don't forget projects which have just been put away for a while, but I always have a short list in my head of what I want most to get back to work on.

I revamped my "Charmed!" demonstration and added five MORE ways to work with five-inch charm squares to present at the Ladybug Quilt Guild's show in a few weeks.  (For more information about the show, please visit our website - my demo is on Saturday afternoon.)  I've been busy sewing up samples for the show-and-tell part of the demo, not only for the new bits, but also because I keep giving away the quilts I've made previously!  So once that's through on August 11, those quilts can go away for a while and other projects can come back out.  Maybe even get some finishes for the Third Quarter Finish-A-Long!

I've also been (happily) sidetracked by Jessica's #bluerkblocks project going on at Instagram.  Jessica, a busy police officer and quilter, began this project to make quilts for fallen police officers' families and the response has been wonderful.  She's just hit 1,000 blocks and is going stronger than ever!  Although her @craftycop account is private she adds upon request, and instructions for making the 12.5" (unfinished) blocks are at http://heritage-threads.com/2016/09/09/12-raspberry-kiss-block/ - center X in blue, outer fabrics in low to medium volume neutrals so that the blue pops.  I've sent her a batch already but try to cut and set aside fabrics here and there so that I can whip up some more in between demo samples.  Since I live right down the road from the Wawa convenience store where a Delaware State Trooper was shot and killed the day I interviewed for my new job, this project has hit home for me.

My Honey has a business trip in the near future, though, so that means lots of nights sewing without distraction.  I should be able to get my "must dos" out of the way and get back to work on my "want to dos"!  That means posts with pictures!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I'm a FAiLure, but trying again for 3Q

I had such high hopes for the Finish-A-Long for second quarter.  As it turns out, I didn't finish a darn thing on my list.

On the bright side, I did finally land a full-time benefitted job at my employer of choice, after five years of underemployment and three years of applying there!  So yay!  As excuses go, that might be a pretty good one.  I also became a published quilt block designer during 2Q, so there's that too.

But as for quilting, I got some things basted and ready for quilting, but nothing, not even the mini that only needed binding, finished.  (Although I *DID* buy the fabric to bind it!)

So the first part of my 3QFAL is the first part of 2Q:

#1 - Candy Bar table topper
#2 & #3 - small quilts from 100 Blocks Volume 15 test blocks
#4 - Slide Show quilt (batiks)
#5 - Modern Vortex
#6 - silk Curvalicious runner
#7 - Windows Into My World

Now to add a few new things.  Our quilt show is in August and I'm teaching a demo on Saturday.  I did not have it all together in time to submit any of my quilts for showing - I've learned the hard way that if it isn't finished by the time the form is due, don't try to enter it! - but I do want to finish at least a TOP of charm techniques that I don't have done yet.  I keep gifting all my quilts I make for this demo, and then I'm asked to teach the demo again and don't have any quilts for the show & tell!
So to continue ... #8 - charm square top
#9 - my Moda Layer Cake Mix recipe
 and #10 - my One Block Wonder from the class I took in April.

Will I finish them all?  HECK no!  Will I finish at least one of them?  Gosh, I hope so. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Everyone is a winner!

I'm a little behind because I've been working a new temp job as well as Saturdays at the fabric store, and block testing for Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks Volume 16 has also begun! But since I only had three total entries for my giveaways, I'll give everyone who commented a free issue of Volume 15!  The catch is that I need to figure out who all my commenters are.  I'm guessing my old neighbor Tammy is number one, and I know guild friend Daria is two ... but number three will have to send me an email or Facebook message.  As for the apron ...
If you aren't who I think you are, comment and let me know, and I'll figure out how to get you your goodies!  Same goes for you, Number Three!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks Volume 15 - my block and second giveaway!

I'm so excited to share my very first published quilt block design (even if only a handful of people out there read this!).  I've been testing for Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks issues off and on for some time; Volume 15 was my third for which I was a tester.  About halfway through testing I received an invitation to contribute a design, and, inspired by the latest collection by one of my favorite designers - "Brighten Up!" by Me & My Sister - I worked up Paper Doll Dress.
This was inspired by the vintage paper dolls I used to play with as a kid and still strike me nostalgically when I see online.  I love that Vogue used to create paper dolls and dresses to match their season's offerings!
I originally worked this up two ways:  one was done by hand applique with freezer paper templates, and the other as fusible.  I put the two options to my family for voting and the fusible version is what was sent to Quiltmaker.  However, this is the hand applique version here:
I used 3/8" white satin ribbon for the "tabs" to the dress and found that, with the hand applique, it was easiest to machine stitch these down onto the background before sewing on the dress templates.  With the fusible version, I could just place them under when fusing, but did want to quickly blanket stitch the appliques after fusing so nothing went askew!  The rickrack trim just pulled it all together in such a cute way, and, with the ribbon tabs, helped give the block more of a three-dimensional feel.

I had the idea of morphing this into a child's play quilt by creating a cardboard or fabric doll body, and then making the appliques double sided and removable from the quilt with velcro, but I haven't gotten quite that far yet.  I'm still noodling the idea around and talking with people more artistic than me to create the doll image!

Sadly, as I mentioned earlier this week, I did not see the blog tour email from Quiltmaker in time to participate, so this blog post may have few to no views.  But if you are one of the few who already follows me or managed to come here from a link somewhere, I'm giving away this adorable apron from Quiltmaker which features images of all 100 blocks in Volume 15! 

I received two, one for being a designer and one for being a tester, so the second one could be yours.  Just comment as to whether you use Instagram (and if you care to, share your user name!  I'm tenquilt5 if you'd like to follow me.).  The giveaway will stay open until midnight on Saturday, May 6.  I'll randomly pick a winner on Sunday - assuming I have any entries at all! - and contact you by email.