Saturday, September 24, 2016

I can't hear you - I have pigeons in my ears...

And up my nose, too...

And I don't even want to think about what my tail is going through...


 Why can't I be normal like that starry fellow over there?

Eh.  Who wants to be normal anyway?

Linking with So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday - come see the last of the reds!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Didn't mean to be gone this long...

September has been a busy month!  My dad's birthday is in September, and for the last 30 or so years, he and my stepmom have thrown a Pig Roast for friends and family to celebrate.  Since attendance often runs well into three digits, it takes a lot of prep to pull it off.  And of course, there was the time to be spent with visiting relatives gathering for the big day - my brother and SIL from the Midwest, whom I hadn't seen in years, came up north with a passel of their grandchildren for a too-short vacation.
Added to that, I was trying to move along my Gwennie medallions while simultaneously packing up projects to take along for an extended visit with my daughter and family.  (Oh, and clothes, too.  I did finally remember to pack some clothes.)
So here I am, now, in the quiet of Maryland, finally taking a few deep breaths.
And still moving along my Gwennies.
I even did this -

without having to go lie down afterwards...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Glitter, glitter, everywhere...

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself this week.  I made a thing.
Actually, I made two things.
When I started Jen Kingwell's Glitter, I traced out the template shapes in the book (Quilt Lovely.  Terrific book!), added seam allowances, and cut templates from gridded quilter's template plastic.

They're useful, but flimsy.  I can't use them directly for rotary cutting - I have to either trace around them, then cut using a ruler, or line up the ruler on top of them and try to cut without anything slithering around.
I had wished many times for cutting templates, but thought I'd have to either do without or pay through the nose for someone to custom make me some.
After all, those templates are all laser-cut, right?  And I don't have a laser.
But then.
I was reading a blog post somewhere (and I foolishly didn't bookmark it and now can't remember where) where the quilter referred to cutting her own templates out of a clear plastic sheet using a utility knife.
Lightbulbs went on in my head.  There were trumpets and bells and the smell of fresh-baked cookies.
Cut my own templates???  Seriously???
I started shopping around for plastic, but could only find large sheets - much larger than I could ever use, whether or not this even worked.
Then a smaller lightbulb went on.  "Picture frames," I muttered to myself.  "Cheap picture frames."
And I found this one

for a grand total of about a buck and a half.
I cut off a hunk with my handy utility knife, traced around my flimsy templates, and used my quilting ruler to cut straight lines.
Score, snap, and woohoo!  I made templates!  My very own custom templates!

I drilled holes with the point of the knife blade so I can mark the seam allowance intersections.

Then I labelled them, and colored along the edges of each template, so they wouldn't become invisible when I set them down on my cutting table.  (Ask me how I know that's a good idea...)

You probably guessed that I had to test them right out.
I've discovered that the background pieces of the block can be cut almost perfectly out of rectangles measuring 3.5"x4.25".  By cutting those rectangles in pairs, either wrong sides facing or right sides facing, I can cut the reversed pieces at the same time as the regular ones.
The easiest way I've found is to first place the template in the corner, matching those right angles, then line up a ruler along this edge:

Cut along the line

and then stack the pieces, matching that angled edge.  There's a tiny bit of extra along the bottom, because the 3.5" measurement is just a wee bit more than necessary.

Drop the template on top of the stack, and slice away all the extra bits.

 And you get this!

And since those pieces were so nicely laid out, I had to  do this.

And before I knew it, I had this.

I've found that all the pieces for these blocks can be cut from 3.5" strips and charm squares.  The background corners I just showed are 3.5x4.25 rectangles, and the four squares are just a 3.5" square cut in quarters.
The main fabric in each block fits beautifully into a charm square. 

And now I've got a perfect use for those charm squares I end up with.  (I don't know how it happens.  Stacks of them just turn up out of nowhere.  I'm starting to suspect the monkeys...)

Since my Glitter is a scrappy quilt, I'm linking to Scraptastic Tuesday.  Come see all the scrappy fun!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Stormy seas

On the non-rainbow front, I've been busily piecing bits for my Storm at Sea.  Working with this extremely limited color palette is a weird experience - you know me and my usual riot of color.  Blue/green/teal is a whole different game, whether I set it straight

or on point.

I'm still deciding about that, though usually I'm really leaning to that on point set.
But sooner or later, as I'm chugging out blocks that are remarkably similar, my brain will step out of the room and I end up with something like this.

After a quick waltz with my buddy Jack (the Ripper), and a restitch, I figure it might be a good idea to reach for something completely different.
Luckily I've got a lot of pieces cut for this:

Glitter is a good antidote to blue/green/teal.

And I'm still making piles of hourglasses as my leader/enders.  Keeping a stack of 3.5" squares next to the sewing machine really pays off.

Though given the fact that I'm using 3.5" strips and squares for hourglasses, Glitter, and Storm at Sea, my 3.5" bin is emptying out fast.  I may have to go on a cutting rampage one of these days.  Hopefully my brain will stay in the room while that rotary cutter is flashing...

So with all these scrappy projects going on, I'm linking to Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.  Come see what everyone is up to this week!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Rosy red rainbows!

Though I'm not sad to leave all that hot weather behind, I can't believe it's September already!  Seems like summer came up a few days short, doesn't it?
On the plus side, there's a new color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge - rosy reds with gold for accent.
I had a fabric that practically jumped out of my stash at me.  Seriously, I'm lucky I won't have a scar.

Those little beaks are pretty sharp...

Linking with So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday!  Come see all the roses!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Good morning, starshine!

One of the projects I've most enjoyed working on this year is the Gwennie Inspired Medallion Quilt Along.  Each month has been a riot of fun, working with a new theme.
For August, we were given the stars!
Now I love stars.  There are so many kinds of stars blocks to make, and they're all beautiful.
But this made it a little bit hard to narrow down what kind of stars to make for my medallion borders.  How to choose, when I love them all?
I started with the obvious - maverick stars.

This is a form I haven't played with much, and I've always thought they looked like fun.  But they're harder to make than they look, and there's a lot of waste involved.   Since my medallion has gotten quite large, it would have taken a lot of these stars to make a border.
So, I kept playing.
I made other stars.

And still other stars.

And some more.

And more.

And I even remembered that I had some 4" sawtooth stars tucked away for a rainy day, so I pulled them out to play, too.

And there I was again, surrounded by blocks of all different sizes, and unable to choose between them.
You know where this is headed, right?
Yep, just like the sunflowers in the second round.  I decided to use all the kinds.
I started laying them out, and quickly decided that combining the stars with random vaguely-checkerboardish squares would be the best approach.

And I hit a wall around that point, as I mentioned in my last post, so I moved on to my smaller medallion while I waited (in vain, as it turned out) for the fabric fairy to deliver my stop border fabric.

I wanted to show these stars again, because they came about starting with seeing a block that Julie was playing with on her blog, and following her lead to Lynn Harris's Wind Farm from Every Last Piece.  I made a much simpler version, using a long triangle sewn as a flippy corner on a 2.5" pieced square.

There were half a dozen of them in various colors by the time I was done.  I really like the small spiky-ness of them.
I used a variety of stars and 1.5" strips to frame my smaller medallion quilt, and I'm quite happy with it.

This top now measures 36"x44", which is still a manageable size.  We'll see how big it ends up after the next stage.

So, with the smaller medallion done, and the clock ticking down to the end of the month, I went ahead and finished the larger one with the second choice stop border fabric.

Et voila!

I'm happy with my stars, and happy with my quilt-in-progress.  And it's a good thing, too, because it now stands at 64"x70" with a round still to go.  I really hadn't planned on making another bed-sized quilt this summer, but here it is!

And look what arrived in the mail late this afternoon -

The stripe is the one on the left.  It's a lot darker and purpler in real life; as usual I'm not good at getting purples to photograph true to color.  The other stripe is just because I'm trying to collect more stripes, and the jelly roll was their super-duper-daily-special with lots of batiks in purples and blues.  Because I'm a total sucker for batiks.  And purple...

So now I'm done with Phase Four of the QAL, and I'm rarin' to go on the next theme.  I'll be linking with Lori at Humble Quilts when the linky party goes live.  And then I'm going to go enjoy seeing what all the folks have been up to with their own starshine!  You all should come see, too!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Last purple Saturday

It's a good thing that I already have some purple blocks from March, because I sure haven't got much to show for August.
One more piglet joins the party:

but that's the lot.

Most of my month was spent madly piecing stars for my Gwennie Medallions.  Between the fact that I'm making two different quilts for the QAL and that one of them has grown ridiculously large, I needed buckets of blocks to translate my mental pictures into reality.
I tackled the larger of the two quilts first.  As I happily pieced and lopped away, I hunted for a suitable fabric for a stop border between my courthouse steps and my new stars.  About mid-month, I finally found  The One - a purple stripe that was just what my heart wanted.  I ordered it from the online store that had it, got the order-acknowledgement email, and sat back to wait.
And I waited.
And waited.
After a week had passed with no word, I emailed to ask if there was a problem with my order.  I had hoped to have the fabric in hand by that time, but I hadn't even been notified that it had shipped.
And I waited.
The next day I finally got an email saying it had shipped.  The delivery date?  August 31st.
In other words, too late to do me any good for this quilt.
While I'd waited, I'd already finished the smaller Gwennie Medallion.  I'd been holding up on a final joining of the blocks for this larger one, since I didn't know how wide the stop border was going to be.  I didn't want to have to go through the kind of mental gymnastics that would be called for in trying to fill up that empty space between finished borders.
I already knew there was nothing locally that suited me, and it was too late to order from any other online source, so I went stash diving.
I came up with this stripe, which I had bought for a project that I'm sure to get to someday.  You know, someday.  It's an orange and blue stripe, it was on super-clearance, it was screaming my name, and I bought all they had.  I've been hugging it and patting it ever since.
Eventually I'll get to that other project (I think there's still enough of this stripe left), but in the meantime, I cut some strips and pieced them as unobtrusively as possible.

And then I thought "Wouldn't it be cool to miter the corners?" and then I thought "Wouldn't it be cool to just drop a bowling ball on my foot and butt the corners?" and I skipped the part with the bowling ball and just started sewing.

It's not the border of my dreams, but it'll do.

Yeah, it'll do nicely.
Maybe I can use that purple stripe for the next stop border.  If and when it finally arrives...

Linking with So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday, and with Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh, Scrap!  Come see all the fun!