Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Quilt That Needs to Simmer

One of the blogs I read regularly is Exuberant Color. She is an awesome quilt maker with a great eye for color and design. By way of Pinterest, I happened to run across this post of hers from 2011 with a tutorial for making a quick quilt top. I pinned it and moved on. A week or two later, as part of my sewing room clean out effort, I came upon this lovely set of fabric.

I immediately remembered that tutorial and decided to try it with these. What I didn't realize is that most of them were too small to get all the pieces I needed for the blocks. That sent me back to the stash to find a few more friends to join these.

This is the final stack. Enough for sixteen blocks.
These blocks. 

Kind of boring if you just stop here. The next step is to cut up the blocks.
And then shuffle them and sew them back together.
I love the block. And then I put them all together.
I didn't like them so much anymore. I arranged and rearranged, but no matter what I did, they just look like a jumbled mess.

I put them away for a day, then tried again. It was no better. One thing I really don't like is the random blobs of light fabric. I think I should have been a little less random in my shuffling and sewing. For now, I've made a pile of blocks I really like and a pile of blocks that I'm not super fond of. I think there will be some unsewing going on soon. Once I get happy with the blocks, then I think I'm going to try a layout with some sashing between each block. There is really no place for the eye to rest and it just makes me tired to look at it as it is.

I'm sure there is something wonderful lurking in there, but for now, this one is going away for a few days. I need to give my eyes a rest before taking the next step. Sometimes a quilt comes easy, and sometimes it has to simmer for a while.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Fire Pit in the Backyard

While it is mostly quilt making around here, there are other projects going on as well. I have wished for a fire pit for the longest time. This summer, my wish finally came true.

Guess what is under this awesome fire pit. It's an old trampoline. See those tiki torches. They are firmly mounted in the legs of the trampoline. Isn't that fantastic. We tried giving away the trampoline but never got any takers and it was a super eye sore in the back yard. This was the perfect solutions. There will be no fighting of weeds in the fire pit area. The trampoline serves as the perfect landscape fabric.

We tested it out for the first time last night. It is still a little too hot and buggy to spend much time out there now, but this fall will bring on some great fire pit adventures.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

From Mystery Bag to Finished Quilt Top

 In the process of cleaning out and organizing, I found this bag of fabric...

It appeared to be one of those partially finished projects, probably originally destined as a sample to hang in the quilt shop many years ago. I liked the colors and fabrics so I decided to investigate a little further.

The pattern looked like it needed twelve blocks to make the quilt. As often is the case when making a sample, I would cut it down and make it smaller. I found eight of these cute little star blocks already finished in the bag (and no matter how hard I try, there is always at least one thread still dangling in the picture!).

After looking at the cut pieces and reading the instructions, I thought this would be a fun one to finish up.

So I made eight blocks. And then I got ready to lay out the top. Um, how do you make a quilt top with just eight blocks? Apparently, I wasn't thinking things through when I originally cut this one down. At first, I thought I would make a really small top with six blocks and have two bonus blocks for pillows. But it was just too small. I looked at the scrap pile from the bag and found this beauty. 

This is one of my all time favorite fabrics. I love modern bird prints. And teal and brown are quite a yummy combination. So I made one more block. Nine blocks makes a much more reasonable quilt top.

It is 37" square and ready to be finished. 

 This quilt top is available for sale here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ten Ideas to Bring Closure to Your Partially Finished Quilt

What can I do with a partially finished quilt that I know I will never finish? This is a question that was left in a comment recently. What a great question! And there are lots of good answers, too.

A partially finished quilt can be in many stages of life.

  • Cut yardage with an intended pattern
  • Pieces all cut out and never assembled
  • A group of blocks that have not been put together
  • A finished quilt top
  • A quilt that has been layered and is eithe
    r ready for quilting or is partially quilted
  • A quilt that is quilted and just needs to be squared up and bound

Here are ten ideas for bringing closure to that partially finished quilt:

1. Sell it
There are plenty of avenues to sell partially finished quilts. My first choice is to sell them on which is perused by both makers and lovers of handmade items. It does take some time to take good photographs, write descriptions, and such. If you don't want to put in that effort, you could try Craig's List, a simple ad in a local paper, or a yard sale. 

If selling it is way too big a hassle, then consider donating it.

2. Donate to a local quilt guild
We are fortunate to have several local quilt guilds in our area. One of them has a charity quilting group and they are often interested in partially finished projects. They will take them, give them the attention they need to be completed, and then donate them. Another of our local guilds has door prizes each month and would love to offer a partially finished quilt (especially a finished quilt top) as a door prize.

3. Donate to a charity organization

I was certain that if I donated my partially finished quilt to an organization such as Good Will that they would chuck it straight into the trash. Well, they don't! A number of my quilty acquaintances are also avid thrifters, and they absolutely love finding partially made quilts and other crafts. There have been many occasions at show and tell time at a guild meeting where the shown item would come along with the comment, "I paid $4 dollars for this at the Good Will!" I love it when that happens. All quilts need to find their way to a loving least that's my goal for them.

4. Donate to a quilt teacher
Don't know a quilt teacher? Ask about this at your local quilt shop or guild. In general, a machine quilting teacher would love to have small quilt tops ready and available for their students to either practice on in class or to send home with the students so they have something to quilt right away. 

5. Pay someone to finish it
If it is a quilt you would really like to keep and see finished, consider paying someone else to do it. In our area, there are a good number of long arm machine quilters who could quilt up a top fairly quickly and at a very reasonable price if you stick with a simple design. What if you have already started quilting it? That gets a little trickier. There are people out there that enjoy doing this sort of work. Again, those resources are best found by asking either your local quilt guild or local quilt shop. In our area, there is also a church ministry that hand quilts. The wait is a bit longer but they do great work.

6. Cut it down to a smaller size

Maybe you would finish it if it were smaller. If this is the case, don't hesitate to cut it down to a more reasonable size and finish it.

7. Turn it into a tablecloth
I attended a very nice luncheon where the host had used a quilt top as the tablecloth. I thought that was a great idea. It was a nice addition to the table and it didn't matter that the edges weren't finished. It was a great conversation piece during the lunch, too, since of course, every quilt has a story.

8. Make pillows
Some might gasp at the thought of cutting up a perfectly good, partially finished quilt, but I would do it without hesitation. If it is going to sit in the depths of a closet or bin for the rest of its days, why not cut it up and use it. If your quilt is only at the block stage, there may not be any extra cutting involved. Cut it up, stitch the edge, and insert a pillow form. Done!!

9. Create hot pads and pot holders
Another way to use up those parts. Cut them up if needed and turn them into hot pads and pot holders. This is especially fun if your original quilt had a holiday or seasonal theme.

10. Gift it on a note card
I love doing this. Buy blank note cards and envelopes. Cut a rectangle from your partially finished quilt and use spray adhesive to attach it to the outside. A unique and custom card in a matter of minutes.

Don't let those unfinished objects and works in progress sit forever, especially if they are ones you know you will never finish. Sell them, breathe new life into them, or donate them. Then move on to that new project you know you can't wait to start!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Keeping the Important Stuff; Letting Go of the Rest

Colorful Tree Panel Quilt Top
For the past few months I have been taking a hard look at all the "stuff" in my life. I cleaned out my kitchen. I cleaned out my clothes. It was freeing to let go of the things I was holding on to "just in case".

Green Geometric Dragonfly Quilt Top
However, I did not touch anything in the quilting room. I mean, I absolutely needed *every* *single* *thing* in there, right? Then, the other day, I started thinking about the overstuffed bins in and around my sewing table. Could I even say what was in some of them? Um, no; no I couldn't.

Hearts and Pinwheels Quilt TOP
And then I thought...if I sewed all day every day for the rest of my life, would it be possible to finish and use all of the "stuff" in my sewing room? Besides the fact that I will never sew all day every day, the answer was a resounding NO. So I've started going through some of those bins. It's been great fun, sort of like looking through an old scrap book.

Batik Dragonfly Quilt TOP
Then I learned that there is actually interest in quilt tops, that I didn't necessarily have to layer, quilt, and bind all those quilt tops to make them meaningful to someone. So that is where I have started. Several are shown throughout this post. You can see the details for those and others by clicking the description under the picture, clicking the SHOP link at the top of this page or by clicking here.

Peppermint and Swirls Quilt TOP
Even in the sewing room I am enjoying that freeing feeling of letting go of the "stuff".

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Believe Circle Quilts 2015

The Believe Circle is one of many groups that are part of do.Good Stitches. Our circle makes quilts for an organization called My Very Own Blanket. There are ten of us. Five are quilters and we rotate responsibility for the quilt each month. The other five are stitchers. Both quilters and stitchers contribute blocks to every quilt. We are just past the half way point of the year and I thought it would be fun to share what we have made so far.

In January, I was the quilter in charge. Houses were the theme for the month. See the finished quilt here.

In February, Allison asked us to make arrows of all kinds.

She finished her quilt, too, and it turned out great. You can read about her finish over on her blog.

In March, Nicole had us make did Monkey Wrenches. Nicole made not one, but two quilts from all the blocks we sent her. She blogs over at Fist Full of Fabric. It doesn't look like she has posted the finished quilts yet, but keep an eye out. I bet they will be there soon.

In April, Laura asked us to make a nine patch and a star block.

In May, it was my turn and we made raindrops. You can see the finished quilt here.

In June, it was my turn again and we made quarter log cabin blocks.

In July, Nicole has asked for big bear paw blocks.

The first half of the year has been lots of fun. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings for our circle. If you are interested in joining one of the circles of do.Good Stitches, you can read all about it here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Scrappy Strip Quilt Progress - Choosing a Layout

After a nice long weekend with all of my children in one place (which is becoming a rare thing), I returned to my sewing room to see just how much work the quilting fairies did while I was away. What!? Nothing? That just means there is more fun for me.

There are still plenty of strips to sew together. I'm finding this to be quite therapeutic. It makes me almost giddy to put two of the most unlikely candidates side by side and sew them together. Take that you fabric strip. Bet you never thought you would be sewn next to this guy. Hahahaha (that is my evil laugh...just go with it, okay?).

I have sorted the strips by length to reduce the waste of dangly longer pieces. Once a set is sewn together, I cut them into 3 1/2" strip sets. For the blocks, I'm using the instructions from Bonnie Hunter's Diamond Strings quilt.

I set aside a bin to hold all of the blocks and now I have enough to figure out a layout. I found a great link over on Pinterest for half square triangle quilt layouts. I took four favorites and gave them a test run.

First up is a layout that has a jewel box feel to it.

Second is this layout that has a repeating ohio star throughout.

Third is a layout that gives the strips a chevron look.

And last is this vertical layout of slanted parallelograms.

The winner is... the first layout. The strippy scrappy triangle add a level of busyness that calls for a larger design and the jewel box gives it just that. Your eye has a place to rest while still yielding a bright and colorful quilt.

For the next little bit I'll keep sewing strips together to see just how big this quilt is going to be. And you know what...taking all of my scraps and sewing them into beautiful quilts is doing something I didn't expect. It's making more scraps! There is something really wrong with that. At some point, there are going to be pieces small enough to throw away. Not yet, though! I already have ideas for these new scraps.
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