Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Stash Busting Star: #7, #8, #9

I have been remiss in posting my Stash Busting Star finishes.  Let's blame it on Christmas, laziness and traveling.  That'll work for me. :-)

Here is Star #7, finished 12/26/2016.

Here is Star #8, finished 1/28/2017:

and Star #9, finished 2/2/2017

I have 2 more full stars to stitch, 4 quarter stars and 5 half-stars.

And, of course, decide on the background fabric.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Doodle cloth recycling

Like many other longarm quilters, I use doodle cloths to practice new-to-me quilting designs.  I load muslin as a the top, whatever batting I have on hand (frequently splicing small pieces together) and using something sturdy as the backing.   Sheets and home dec fabric are my favorites.

I've taken some hands-on longarm quilting classes that have resulted in we students taking home the sample doodle cloths we stitching in class.

I've even cheated with doodle cloths!  When I've filled up the muslin top fabric, still want to practice some more but don't want to go through the nosebleed of loading up another sandwich .... I've actually just thrown another piece of muslin right ON TOP of the already stitched doodle cloth!  Sure, I'm stitching through 4 layers .. but who cares?  I'm just practicing the stitches and all I really need to see is what's on top!

Sometimes, I keep the doodle cloth samples.  They show examples of designs that I know I would like to use "sometime" and need to keep the stitched sample around to remind me.  But, I must say, MOST of the time, once I've done the doodle cloth .... and then probably used the design in a quilt ... I don't NEED the doodle cloth any more.

What do you DO with them?  They certainly can't be used for quilts!  For one thing, since I'm using a regular width of muslin, it's just not wide enough.

BUT .. it occurred to me that they would be great for pets to lay on.  Specifically, the cats at our vet.  When cats are kept for observation or overnight or boarded, they are kept in pet cages.  The vet & staff do put towels down so soften (somewhat) the floor of the cages, but it can't be terribly comfortable.

I asked our vet the dimensions of the cages ... 27"x36".  Using that as a basis, I use 60" wide muslin as the top, and draw (with a Sharpie) two 27"x12" rectangles (landscape mode) on the muslin.  My longarm is a Tin Lizzie 18".  The useable workspace is about 16", so a 12" deep rectangle fits quite nicely on the workspace.  A 27"x12" rectangle is a nice size to doodle in.  If I need more space to doodle, I just wander on over to the adjacent 27"x12" rectangle.  54"x12" is MORE than enough to doodle in!

I make sure that the 60" wide muslin is at least 1-1/4 long ... that let's me draw (3) sets of the 12" deep rectangles.   When I'm done doodling the rectangles, I have (2) sets of 27"x 36" rectangles!  I cut those sets out, bind them with leftover bias binding ... just like I do for my quilts.   These are *sturdy* pads for the pets to lay on ...and for the vet to launder!   I'm very pleased that my vet appreciates them!

back of half-hexie cage liner ...
home dec samples sewn together
front of half-hexie cage liner

So, this last batch yielded 7 sets of cage liners ... and one oddball one!  I had some leftover half-hexies from a project.  I sewed them together, added on some plain border to size the top properly, sewed some home dec samples together for the backing and ... voila .. one more cage liner!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What is this quilting design called?

All righty then, Quilting Public ... I'm doing an all-over fill that *I* have called 'nested clamshells' but a Google search with that term results in a big goose egg.  I've gotten suggestions from other quilting friends of "Endless Tears" and "peacock feathers".

In this picture, I've drawn the overall fill and below that, the progression of how to create it.

If anyone Out There recognizes this quilting design, please chime in with what YOU call it ... or what you were told it was called.   I do appreciate y'all's help.  :-)

Friday, December 09, 2016

machine embroidery UFO is now a top

I recently posted about a 21 year old UFO that I finally assembled into a top.  Well, this is another long term UFO, although not 21 years.  :-)   From one of the ladies who participated, the timeframe of 2005-2006 was suggested and I have no reason to disbelieve it.

During that time, I was an active member of's Quilting forum.  Wowsers, that was a hugely active forum!  When I first joined, I participated in lots of swaps .. until I realized that those swaps were simply generating a LOT of UFOs on my part.  But while I was active, one such swap was between those of us who had embroidery machines.

(the white "tags" in the picture are the IDs of who made that block, so I wouldn't forget)

We decided that we would swap both 4"x4" designs, as well as 5"x7" designs, for those of us who had 5"x7" hoops.   I admired all the blocks as they came in but didn't even think of a layout.  When I pulled the baggie with the blocks out to work on them, the first thing I needed to do was to *figure out a layout*.

I tend to dislike straight up "grid" layouts.  Certainly there are times when that is the best option, but I like to try to think  of something different.  So, for the 4x4 blocks, the design would be a diamond in a square.

I looked in many of my reference books for ideas on how to create an interesting layout with them and came across some cutting template rulers that I had purchased *long ago* but had never used.  This was an excellent opportunity to do so!  The templates are "Creative Curve Rulers" by Virginia A Walton.  I also purchased her companion book.  Essentially, these templates make cutting and sewing Drunkard's Path blocks very easy.  And that is what I used ... a pair of Drunkard Path blocks, side by side, to frame the diamond in a square embroidery block.  Half square triangles filled out the corners.

To make the top into a useable size, I put on two borders ... the first inner border contained an extended half square triangle, so it made a diamond.  The final, outer border had machine appliqued swags.  I used a buttonhole/blanket stitch to sew the applique to the border.

I'm very, very pleased with the outcome, especially since I was able to make the entire top with fabric that I already had in my stash.

I'm now on a Quest to contact the ladies who made these blocks, not only to thank them for their lovely work, but to show them that the blocks really HAVE BEEN made into a top!

The ladies who created these blocks are:
Sharon Amador (forum name: QLTDRSE) (unable to locate)
Louann Carney of Matthews, NC (sent Facebook message)
Katie Mayer (forum name: KatieM781) - (sent message through forum)
Jeri Mihm of Borger, TX  contact made!  woo hoo!
Irene Puzinas - contact made!  woo hoo!
Anna Topolski - contact made!  woo hoo!

I'm now working on a layout for the 5x7 blocks. :-)

21 year old UFO is now a top

This post is going out all over blogland, in the hope that some of the ladies listed might see it and remember our quilting friendship on FIDOnet of long ago.

It was back in 1995, that I (and the ladies listed here) were part of a FIDOnet BBS system. We were quilters and we participated in swaps and lottos and messages back and forth. This was WAAAAY before the internet as we know it today even existed. There was no such thing as posting a message and getting a practically instant response. Messages that you posted to the BBS system had to be passed along to the member systems, where replies to your original post would be entered and *eventually* you'd see the replies show up on the BBS system that was your "home base". But, it was a wonder! I connected with lots and lots of quilters, most of whom I had no idea where they lived. Through the swaps that we did, we obviously needed to share home addresses and it was then that we all realized the international flavor of our quilting forum.

In June 1995, I happened to win that month's lotto. When I received all the blocks I was due, I figured out a layout for them .. but that was as far as I got. I am really, *really*, REALLY great at procrastination and this one was a doozy.

The layout is certainly non-traditional. I had two blocks that definitely needed to be presented on-point. I picked two other blocks that didn't have an orientation, so that it didn't matter which end was "up". Those four blocks became the center "diamond" medallion. I just plopped the rest of the blocks around the medallion, spacing them so that it looked pleasing. The resultant layout certainly gives me a bit of negative space to do some interesting quilting, when that time comes.

Let's fast forward to November 2016. I had pulled this long-ago UFO from my bin of UFOs and *finally* assembled all the blocks! Yeah, it only took me 21 years. :-) BUT, it got done and I feel very pleased with myself on this accomplishment. This pieced top has now been put in the ever-growing Pile of Tops to be Quilted. My focus *now*, as it has been for the past year or so, is to work on my UFO bins ... to get those assembled fabrics into a pieced top, ready to be quilted. The actual quilting will come at a later date .. but right now, I feel absolutely compelled to empty those bins by actually making the tops.

The ladies who participated in this lotto are listed below. I would just LOVE it if any .. or most! .. of them would contact me. (Leave me a comment below or I'm on Facebook, too) :-) Because I failed to retain the envelopes the blocks came in, the only information I have is what was signed on the blocks, which means in many cases, it's only a name. *Sometimes* I have a location .. and that location is only correct as of 1995. It certainly may have changed in the intervening 21 years.

Fatimah Abdallah
Nora Bellaart
Shirley Benoit [sent Facebook message]
Susan Bewick - contact made! woo hoo!
Nancy Brassea
Vickie Claar [sent Facebook message]
Sandy Colby of Ferndale, MI [sent Facebook message]
Nancy Coleman of Hollandale, MS (she did the most AMAZING hand-stitched Dresden Star) (sent email)
Yvonne Didde
Tricia (Pat) Knox - contact made! woo hoo!
Ruth Hahn of Cremona, Alberta, Canada
Mary Jordan
Terri Lehoux
Lori Liatto
Kay Mainguth - contact made! woo hoo!
Cheryl Nelson
Kathy Oganezov of Portage, WI. Passed away 10/2016 at age 55. :-(
Donna Brassea Ransdell of Poway, CA [sent Facebook message]
Lisa Reeves
Julia Sidebottom - contact made! woo hoo!
Andrea Suais - contact made! woo hoo!
Pam Whitehead
Doris Wills of Mt. Sterling, KY

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pinwheel UFO top is now finished!

I started this UFO this past October .. about 2 months on the calendar.  I do apologize for the weird photo.  My sewing room isn't very wide and I needed to use a wide-angle lens on my cell phone to get the entire quilt in the frame.

It's from a pattern called "Pinwheel Quarters" by Mary Jane Best.  I had a number of her patterns in my UFO bin.  This particular series was designed to take advantage of Fat Quarters ... a new concept in pre-cuts at the time (circa 1995).  Additionally, the patterns are written with the brand new quilter in mind .... which tended to drive me nuts.

However, having worked with a number of her patterns already this year, I could see that all I really needed was an entire boatload of pinwheels, which meant more than an enormous amount of half square triangles.

When I need a LOT of half square triangles all made from the same fabric, I like to use the strip grid method.  My quilting friend, Jan Wickell, has written a tutorial about this method and it's the one I used for this quilt top.

The reason I chose this pattern is because I had a bunch of half square triangles/pinwheels left over from a previous project.  I wanted to use the leftovers up.

Oh, and let it not be said that I'm not ambitious!  Now, I could have used the leftover pinwheels for a smaller quilt (this pattern allows for two sizes: 45"x55" or 50"x60") but oh no!  not me!  I like BIGGER quilts.  All I needed to do was make MORE half square triangle pinwheels!  What could be more simple?

(I'd insert of video of my banging my head against the wall but I neglected to film it).

MILLIONS of half square triangle later ... and THOUSANDS of pinwheels later ... I finally made all I needed for this bigger quilt top.  How much bigger?  Well, it finished at 70"x95" .. which is inconveniently between a twin and a double.  Obviously, my math was somewhat incorrect in my calculations.   BUT .. it is what it is and that's the size it's going to be!

I'm not majorly thrilled with the placement of the colors ... and I must take full blame for that.  The pattern doesn't specify what colors nor how many of each color nor how to place the pinwheels once they've been constructed .. you're kinda on your own.  Which is a horrid place for *me* to be when it comes to random placement of color ... or deciding what the heck I should do with the colors that I have.

I made a mock-up in Electric Quilt to get a feel for where the colors should go.  I was constrained by the fact that I had a certain number of colors ... and that was it.  I needed to use what I had (because I sure wasn't going to make any MORE half square triangles or pinwheels!)  I probably should have taken more time just to look at the color placement .. maybe parts of it wouldn't have been so blocky.  But .. eh .. shrug ... I was impatient to get the top sewn.

Therefore, it is what it is.  It's not a complete disaster but it's not a fantastic arrangement either.  Once quilted, it will function quite nicely as a quilt. :-)

Stash Busting Star #6 .. and another UFO top finished

I'm continuing working on my current Forever Project™ .... Esther Aliu's "Stash Busting Stars".  I've finished star #6.

Only 3 more full-sized stars to go!  (and then 4 quarter stars and 8 half-stars).

And I finished another UFO top ... a Friendship Braid made with half-hexies, rather than noodle strips.  I've
done both ways and for me, I find that when I use half-hexies to form the braid, I get much straighter edges.  When I used noodles, I tended to wander off the straight and narrow. :-)

The half-hexies were leftover from some long-ago project .. one that I can't even remember at the moment.  I'm glad that I tucked the instructions for the half-hexie Friendship Braid along with the fabric because I probably wouldn't have remembered what I had planned to do with them!

Having said that, I got bored with the braid and decided that I was done with it ... it ended up slightly smaller than a twin size.  But I still had more half hexies to use up.  Initially, I had put the halves together to form a whole hexie and simply smooshed them all together but I wasn't feeling the love in that particular layout.

Part of the problem is that I had originally cut the half hexies with the intent of making the Friendship Braid ... and you don't need pairs of half hexies for that; they are used as singletons.  So, when I decided to pair them up to create whole hexies, I found myself in a pickle .... I really only had a few whole hexies to work with and furthermore, of a very limited palette.   But, I soldiered on .. and found a staggered layout that I really liked at a local quilt show.

Once I got home from the quilt show, I disassembled the smooshed together hexie layout and began to work on the staggered layout.  No pictures right now because it's most definitely a work in progress.

Also in-progress is my pinwheel quilt.  I had some 5" pinwheels leftover from yet another quilt and wanted to use them up.  Naturally, this entailed me making MORE 5" pinwheels from 2.5" half square triangles.  Oh Lordy .... it seemed like thousands of half square triangles!  But, I've finally finished with all 264 pinwheels .. they've all been sewn together but I ran out of white-on-white fabric, which is used in the outer borders.  Drats!

So, there's no picture of that one either .. for now.  Maybe for my next post. :-)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Stash Busting Star #5; another UFO stitched

My current EPP handwork project is Esther Aliu's "Stash Busting Stars".  It produces a VERY large ... 21" diameter star .. that is set into a slightly larger background square.

All I'm doing right now is making the stars.

I'm deferring the decision for the background until I have all the stars made and I can see what sort of fabric would be suitable.

When I was cleaning out and reorganizing my sewing room, I rediscovered a juvenile jungle panel.  During some foray around the internet at some point, I found a freebie pattern  for a panel print that had a very interesting border.  I printed off the picture and saved it for some appropriate project.

Well, when I rediscovered the jungle panel, I knew that the freebie pattern border was precisely what I was going to put around it.

And voila!  Another UFO bites the dust!

except ... I *know* have a little bit left of the polka dot outer border print.  It's enough to make bias binding.  Do you think that I can FIND that leftover piece???  I only finished it THIS MORNING, fer cryin' out loud!!  Where on EARTH could I have PUT it???   To say I am annoyed is a vast understatement.  Harumph.

It'll turn up ... eventually.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Pinwheels - the current UFO

The current UFO that I am working on is a pattern called "Pinwheel Quarters".  This is another fat quarter friendly quilt pattern by Mary Jane Best of American Legacy Quilts.  If you use just the fat quarters listed, you'll get a 45"x55" or a 50"x60" quilt.

I had some 5" (finished) pinwheels leftover from a previous project.  I realized that I could use the Pinwheel Quarters layout, make more 5" pinwheels (so as to use the leftover pinwheels) and make a pinwheel quilt any size I wanted.  Since I tend to like bed sized quilts, I opted for a double/full ... which, if my math calculations are correct, means I will need about 264 pinwheels.   Oh my.

In order to make a LOT of pinwheels out of the same fabrics, it is more efficient and less tedious to make the half square triangles using the grid method.  Although this *specific* tutorial has you make a strip at a time, there is another method where you make up an entire rectangle of a grid, resulting in an incredible amount of half square triangles with very little effort.

But, I used the strip grid method.  It was easy enough to either find an appropriately sized strip or cut a single strip from my stash.   To get my 5" (finished) pinwheels, I start with a 3.5" strip of colored fabric and white fabric.  Using the grid method tutorial linked above, I mark 3.5" squares on the back of the white fabric in gray chalk.  Opposing diagonals are then chalked in the squares.

After sewing and cutting apart the squares, the resultant half square triangles are trimmed to 3" squares.  I like to make my half square triangles just a tad larger than needed so I can then trim them down to the exact size I need.  I have NEVER been able to sew them so that they end up precisely the correct size without trimming.  Yes, the trimming is another step, but when done, I *know* I have half square triangles that aren't going to fight me when sewn together.

The half square triangles are then sewn into pairs and pairs into pinwheels.  The pinwheels are really just fancy 4-patches.  When you press the seams for a 4-patch, if you aren't aware of this little technique, you will end up with a HUGE lump at the center intersection.  What technique is that, you ask?  I don't know if it has a particular name, but I call it 'the swirl'.  I've also heard it called "spinning".   I certainly didn't invent it but whoever did, is a certified genius. :-)   Here's a very good, if very detailed tutorial.  The actual swirling/spinning the intersection is about 3/4's the way down the page.

Sooooo ... I've been making massive amount of half square triangles.  Lots and lots and lots of pinwheels.  I need 4 half square triangles for every pinwheels.  I need (about) 264 pinwheels.  That's 1056 half square triangles.   Ya know what?  I'm really bored with making half square triangles right now. :-)

BUT ... I have 157 completed pinwheels and 57 half square triangles (that's 14 more pinwheels) already sewn.   That's OVER HALF the number of pinwheels that I need!  woo hoo!  I've passed the tipping point!

The saving grace about making the half square triangles with the grid method, is that it's mindless.  I can have a TV show or movie going while sewing and I really don't need to pay strict attention to the sewing!

It's back to the sewing room ... time to mark another strip into a grid, sew, cut, press, trim, sew again and press again.  The onward march continues. :-)