Spring + Prioritizing

It’s my month to send out fabric and block instructions for my BeesKnees group. Add that to the list of the bajillion things I am behind on right now. Finally I pulled out some fabric a couple of nights ago (which is something I always enjoy, but seem to be finding less and less time to do…). While I was at it I started setting aside fabric for a big destash. Who knows when that will actually happen, but it is a needful thing. Time to purge!
Last night I carved out a little time to put some of these beauties into piles to mail out to my group ladies. I’m excited to see what they come up with. 

These are the blocks they made last year. I LOVE how they all look together. This year I am having them each make one more block with a little bit of a twist to make the squares even busier. I’m so excited to see what they come up with. Of course, I had the instructions all typed up and ready to go and then blogger freaked out at me and it was all lost. I was way too drained last night to try to summon that brain-power again. I’ll have to try again today.

my poor little favorite magnetic pindish is in need of some TLC
Speaking of brain power- mine feels a little fried at the moment. I think I’m just in one of my funks – you all know how that goes. And it’s pretty much following the same pattern as most funks – a lot on my plate and feeling overwhelmed and just needing to step back and recharge. I’m not sharing so that you’ll all throw me a pity-party – but because I think it’s healthy to be real. I never want to present the image that I have it all together. Heavens no!
Life is good. It’s full and busy with 4 kids and some weighty responsibilities elsewhere right now, but my life is full of things and people that I love. I just need to do a better job of prioritizing. I’m finding that there is less time for quilting and sewing and that’s okay too. I’m glad I have something that I enjoy so much and that fulfills my creative needs, and at the same time has even become a business that I love, but I’m learning that I need to keep it in the realm of “stress-reliever” not “added stress.”

In fun news, a new friend and fellow-quilter sent me the funnest little surprise in the mail, which was a great pick-me-up. Look at these numbered labeling pins! No more using random post-it note scraps for labeling my quilt rows. Thanks Nancy!! POST EDIT: Nancy has a tutorial for these Quilt Row Marking Pins!

New blocks + new machine quilting technique

I feel like I’ve been working like a crazy-lady behind the scenes around here, but don’t have a lot to share right away. I have been staying caught up on my Bee Blocks though, so I’ll share those. This is the latest block from the 2014 Aurifil Block of the Month, this time designed by Emily Herrick. Here is the tutorial for this specific block.

I am still totally digging this color scheme and I’m having fun watching this quilt start to grow.

 Another Bee block for my friend Nedra from the Bees Knees.

This block was made using Triangles on a Roll papers to piece the flying geese. They were really cool! Nedra has the tutorial for this block here and explains more about Triangles on a Roll.
Basically, it’s another method of machine paper-piecing, but this time you are working and sewing on the same side as the markings, which eliminated that flip and match-step. This kept the same accurate piecing, but there was less fabric waste because you can see where you were sewing. It took me a few minutes to get used to a new method, but then I really loved it. And the results were awesome.

A few more projects in the works behind the scenes that aren’t ready to share yet. This quilt is for an upcoming quilt-along on the We All Sew (BERNINA) blog later this spring. For this quilt, I tried a new quilting technique and I was so happy with how it turned out. I am still not very confident in my free-motion-quilting skills. I know I just need to practice – it’s finding the time to do it that’s my problem, but definitely something I’d like to become more comfortable with in the future.

In the mean time, the only kind of quilting I’ve been comfortable with is straight-line quilting. So, if you’re like me, this was a good step outside my comfort zone, but not TOO scary since I was just using my walking foot, going in straight lines and letting my needle do all the work. I love that it gives the quilting more of a stipple-organic look, without having to free-motion it. I’m not perfect yet, but the overall quilt looks really great. (Full reveal soon.) I have to admit the giant throat space on the BERNINA 710 has also given me more courage to quilt a big quilt myself.
I used stitch #4 on my Bernina 710. I think it’s a pretty standard stitch for all newer Bernina’s. (I think it’s stitch 3 on my old Bernina Sport 801 – it looks like a wavy line.) The width is set to 5.5 and I used a stitch length of 3. I think I’d like to try it with a longer stitch next time and see how that changes things. Chime in if you know what stitch this is on other machines. 

And one last bit of eye-candy because it’s just SO pretty and makes me want spring. A new quilt design in the works with this new Kona solids New Bright Palette roll-up. I’m itching to get started!

Kona Solids Blocks and Oakshott Modern Maples

I am happy to report that I’m getting my sewing mojo back – or my “sewjo” as my friend Maggie puts it. First of all, I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my Kona Solids Virtual Quilting Bee blocks. (Thanks so much to everyone for their thoughts and input.) For the measurements and instructions on adding the sashing, cornerstones, and borders, see the Sashing and Borders post.

As you know, this was a change from my original plan of a pieced sashing. It had some cool aspects to it, but once I started laying it out, it just wasn’t the look I was going for. I really wanted this quilt to be a stark contrast to the busy Happy Go Lucky version. I wanted it a little more sleek and modern. So I went with the light gray sashing and a few more pops of color with the cornerstones. I also left off the inside border and just let the outside white border be a simple frame for the blocks. I am so happy with how it turned out. I will probably do more color in the binding, but we’ll see.

I also pulled out my Oakshott Rubies Modern Maples from last fall. I ran out of the Essex Linen I was using for the back ground and had a hard time finding more. I finally sent a small swatch to Brenda at Pink Castle Fabrics and she matched it for me! Hallelujah!

Those Oakshott Rubies fabrics are so gorgeous. They’re kind of hard to find in the US, but if you see them, you’ll see what I mean. I also added a couple of gold leaves out of a Kaffe cotton because we have a lot of gold leaves during the fall season here in Utah. It feels good finishing an old WIP (work-in-progress). I’m going to keep it around as is for another week or so and then send it off to the quilters. Next fall it will finally be finished!

And finally, I even got caught up on my BeesKnees blocks! This one is for Sinta. The tutorial for this block/quilt is called Starry Eyed and can be found at the Moda Bake Shop. It’s still one of my favorites.

These improv trees are for Melissa. Aren’t they fun? This is her own design. She has an Improv Tree tutorial on her blog.

Whew! Feels good to be crossing stuff of the list. Just in time to start creating a whole new list before Christmas.

Bee Blocks – tips and tricks

Learn to make a quilt

I have been putting the blocks from the Virtual Quilting Bee up on my design wall as they have been coming it. It’s so fun to see them all together, as well as to be able to see the variations in the block designs depending on the different colors used. It’s going to be fun to put these different quilts together!

Here is what I made for my Block #7.

Because I like experimenting (okay, really because I’m lazy) I decided to try and strip-piece the pieced striped units. So I cut the middle strip 1 1/2″ x 14″ and the two outside strips 1″ x 14″. (Actually, it’s a good idea to cut them a little longer than the 14″ so that you have some wiggle-room for squaring-off the ends. Don’t forget to use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance when piecing quilt blocks!

Then cut the units into 3 1/2″ lengths and voila: four units done at once! Just an option.

Another little reminder about matching up points: pinning can make a big difference – especially in blocks with small pieces! Put in a pin at the corners to match your points and hold them in place. If one of the pieces is slightly longer than the other side, run the longer side through the machine on the bottom. The feed dogs will help to ease the bigger piece of fabric through the machine without creating any tucks.

I’m also feeling pleased with myself because I was able to complete a couple of the Double-Wedding Ring ‘melons’ for Calli’s quilt.  
I’ve always been a little (okay, a lot) intimidated by a Double-Wedding Ring pattern. I’m still a little tentative with curves, but I’m starting to get a little better at them. I need to remember to just try, for crying out loud. It’s only fabric. (Did I really just say that?) I should just practice until I more confidence. But I think these will do for now. Calli is using Aneela Hoey’s Pickledish tutorial for this quilt.

And finally, a tale of quilt-block woe. Last December when I put together this sampler quilt, I realized afterward that I hadn’t included one of the blocks I’d made for it. I assumed it was just buried in the hazardous waste zone that has become my sewing storage space and would turn up eventually. Well the other night I was in the yard cleaning and weeding and found something blown under a shrub. Imagine my surprise when it was the missing quilt block! (You can see it in it’s original glory at the bottom of this post.)

Poor little block spent the winter trying to find shelter from the elements. The only thing I can figure is that when I took all the blocks outside to get photographed sometime last fall, this one escaped without my notice. That’ll teach it for trying to pull a runner!

Post edit: Someone on FB asked about the tutorial for this block. It is here: http://www.quiltdad.com/2012/01/bloggers-bom-block-5.html

By the way – I have loved reading the Quilting Life comments! Thank you for taking the time to write them. (I wish summer vacation allowed me more time to respond to them individually.) It’s fun to feel the common bonds that run through quilt-y folks.

One quick Public Service Announcement. I’ve been asked to teach a class at a fun new quilting retreat here in Utah next winter called Quilt Bliss. There is a great line-up of teachers, trunk-shows and lectures by Sherri McConnell and Sarah Jane Wright! Tickets went on sale yesterday and spaces are very limited – this is a smallish retreat. You can find our more by visiting the Quilt Bliss site.