Monday, November 30, 2015

Texture Quilt for CJ, Need Your Input

When 9 month old grandson CJ was visiting a couple weeks ago, he was quite taken with my 30-Something quilt. This is the sofa quilt that I use, and we put it on the floor for him to play on. He kept crawling from the center to the outside edges and patting the circles. There was just something fascinating about those circles, and he repeatedly patted them.

So I'm making a new quilt for CJ for Christmas, a small one he'll be able to drag around with him. High contrast teal and white squares, and orange fleece dots around the edges.
Fabrics for CJ's Quilt
Here's the plan, which will finish at 30" square.
EQ7 Plan for CJ's Quilt
So far I have the blocks started, and here's how they look on my design wall this morning:
Design Wall 11/30/2015

Next up, I need to applique circles of fleece to the outside plain squares.

CJ was also fascinated with crinkly Baby Paper. My original plan was to put pieces of cellophane behind a couple of the plain squares, and maybe behind one of the dots, for added crinkly texture.

DH thinks I should not put the cellophane in. He thinks the crinkly noise might keep CJ awake when he should be sleeping.

So, your opinion please: Crinkly or quiet?

For the backing I have teal minkee, for even more texture. What kind of batting do you recommend with minkee? I want something as soft and drapey as possible, but I need something to keep the teal minkee from showing through the front, so I don't want to omit batting altogether. I'm thinking of using a flannel sheet. What do you recommend?

Linking up with Patchwork Times; check out the other design walls over there.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Stash Report & Goals Update

Stash Report:

November IN: 7 yards (3 yds FQ sale;  0.75 Xmas; 2.25 Xmas; 1.0 Xmas)
November OUT: 3.5 yards (2 yds Dad's blankie top;  1.5 stockings)

YTD IN: 143.25 yards
YTD OUT: 134.625 yards
YTD Net Change: 8.625 yards added to stash

It's kind of doubtful I'll break even for the year, but there's still a slim chance; the year's not over yet.
I'm using stash for a new little project I'll show you tomorrow on my design wall. Here are the fabrics I'm using:

Goals Update:

November Recap:
1. Plan & prep for trunk show & program 11/9  DONE. Went well.
2. Make fleece-backed lap quilt for dad. DONE
3. Start new Christmas stockings. Started and finished them.
4. Layer & baste at least one WIP. No, not even touched.
5. Keep up with bee blocks. DONE
Other: Designed & cut out a touch quilt for CJ
           Hemmed several pairs of pants

December Goals:
1. Finish touch quilt for CJ
2. Write tutorial for touch quilt for blog
3. Learn how to use new sewing machine (more about this later in the week)
4. Layer, baste, & quilt at least one WIP
5. Design something new to use up some stash
6. Keep up with bee blocks
And just because it feels so good to not have pants hemming hanging over me. These are DONE! Those camel cords are from winter 2012 and I've only been able to wear them rolled at the ankle, tucked into boots. Now I can just wear them all, any time! The grey, taupe, and wine jeans were a bargain at Costco. Surprising to find jeans that fit me there, and too good a deal to pass up.

Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times. How are you doing with your stash management and your goals?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dad's Blankie, Finished

I finished the blankie for my dad, and it's all ready to pack up and ship with other b'day and Christmas gifts. Since it has fleece backing and no batting, it turned out soft and drapey. The satin binding didn't turn out quite as expected; I was a few inches short of enough to attach it blanket style because of the width of the mitered corners. So I attached it quilt-binding style, and just barely had enough with only a couple inches to spare. It's narrower and thicker than planned but it still provides texture contrast at the edges.

Check this one off the list of have-to sewing. Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Friday Finish at Crazy Mom Quilts.

And, no, I didn't get the pants hemmed yet....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cellophane for Dad's Blankie

On Monday I mentioned that I wanted to test adding some cellophane behind a couple of the squares in Dad's blankie, for added texture. I got the idea from Baby Paper.

Here's my test sample: fleece top and bottom, four layers of cellophane in the middle, serged around the edges. The cellophane is the kind used for wrapping gift baskets.
Cellophane wash test sample

My wash test sample was larger than the patches in the quilt, and my test came out so well that I don't think there will be any issues with the cellophane and the density of the quilting. The sample in the photo above went through the washer and dryer with a load of towels. Detergent, warm wash, normal agitation, tumble dry. Perfect!

For dad's blankie, I basted two layers of cellophane behind a couple random patches. The cellophane is about 1/2" bigger than the patches on all sides. The patches are about 4-1/2".
Cellophane basted behind patches
Cellophane basted behind patch
I'm backing the pieced top  with fleece, no batting, to keep it as drapey as possible. Also, since Dad's in Arizona, the extra warmth isn't needed. Here it is pin basted, ready for quilting:
Dad's blankie pin basted for quilting

I've started the quilting, using a serpentine stitch over all the piecing seams, with the walking foot. So far so good. The quilting anchors the cellophane all the way around the patches.

It's been awhile since I've had work in progress to report on a Wednesday so I'm linking up today with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Have-To Sewing vs Want-To Sewing

Some of the have-to sewing is done: I finished the Christmas stockings. More deadline sewing and/or not fun sewing is on tap for this week.

Next up, a "blankie" for my dad. If you've read my blog for awhile, you know he has very advanced dementia and he's pretty frail. He also can't hear and has macular degeneration so he can't see very well either. He is cared for at a home in Arizona. Touch and texture, as well as non-frustrating activities to occupy his hands, are important for him now.

I'm making him a lap blankie, pieced on one side but soft fleece on the other. No batting so it will be soft and drapey enough for him to roll or fold. It'll finish about 32 x 36", just lap size and won't get hung up in his wheelchair. The top is pieced and on my design wall. My goal for this week is to get it quilted and bound. I may use satin blanket binding for it, just to add some additional texture. It needs to be durable because it'll probably have to get washed every week.
Top for Dad's Blankie

Have you heard of Baby Paper? Basically it's two layers of flannel fabric with crinkly cellophane in between. Baby CJ loved it when he was here last week. I may sandwich some cellophane behind a couple of the blocks in dad's blankie, just for a surprise difference in texture, but I have to get some cellophane and wash test it first.

Also on the have-to sewing list this week: hem pants. Sigh. I'm short and the story of my life is hemming everything. I recently got some new pants and I need to get them hemmed; they're not doing me any good just hanging on the closet door.

So, if I get all the have-to sewing done this week, maybe I'll be able to get back to the fun stuff next week.

What's on your design wall? Check out the others at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stash Report 11/22/15 - The Christmas Fabric Saga

In this week: 4 more Christmas prints for one yard added. I now have a total of 12 traditional prints that coordinate, plus 4 whimsical ones that don't. Too bad I found the whimsical ones first.

I used the traditional prints to make stockings:

I cut 2" and 1-1/2" strips plus an EZDresden wedge from each fabric, for 1-1/2 yards used.  The rest I'll save for any future stockings we might need someday. The EZDresden wedges are the perfect size for turning the stripes around the heels.

So, another yard in and 1-1/2 yards out this week. I'll tally up the totals for the month and YTD next week. Check out the other stash reports at Patchwork Times.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cut and Shuffle With Alycia

Alycia Carman, who blogs over at AlyciaQuilts, very kindly agreed post about my book Cut and Shuffle Quilts. You can see her post here today. Thank you, Alycia!

Her boys talked her into choosing the Labyrinth block and quilt to make. Here are Alycia's blocks so far. I love her cute dots with that navy! Alycia's version is going to be very striking - gorgeous! I love her strong graphic fabric choices.
Alycia's Labyrinth Blocks

Labyrinth is one of six quilts in Cut and Shuffle Quilts. All the blocks are easy to make. Start with a parent block called the Block Mama, slice it and dice it, rearrange the parts, and sew them back together nine-patch style. Here's the Labyrinth block:
Labyrinth Block
And here's the Labyrinth quilt from the book:
Labyrinth, 60" x 72"
Cut and Shuffle Quilts is available from AQS Publishing, Amazon, or you can order a signed copy directly from me ($24.95 plus $2.72 postage, USA only. Leave a comment with your email address and I'll get back to you)

Thanks, Alycia, for your enthusiasm about my book!

Monday, November 16, 2015

DWM 11/16/15

Nothing on my design wall today. It's the only clean spot in the entire sewing room.
The sewing room is currently Santa's workshop, birthday gift-wrapping central, and general dumping ground for WIPs and stuff I brought home from guild Saturday. When it gets this bad it's actually stressful. No sewing is going to happen in here today!

DS and baby CJ are here so today will be devoted to visiting and playing with the grandbaby. That's way more important than cleaning up the sewing room, right?

Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times. Check out some actual design walls over there. They're sure to be more inspiring than this mess!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stash Report 11/15/15

I'm counting 1/8 yard out this week - I used about 1/3 of a 3/8 yard length of a cute snowman print and got a stocking finished for baby CJ. He and his dad are visiting this weekend so the stocking can go home with them to hang up for Santa to fill.

I bought three more Christmas prints this week to go with the ones from last week. Here are the new ones:

And the existing ones:

This week I'll make four more stockings for at my house. Same template as the one above; I think it's a good size. The backs and linings will all be red fleece, the cuffs white fleece, and the names all embroidered in red. I'll cut strips of the prints and use the sew-and-flip method to make stripes of various widths up the body of the stocking.

So, this week, 3/4 yard in and 1/8 yard out. Maybe I can do better next week. I'll tally the totals at the end of the month. My chances of breaking even for the year are looking slimmer and slimmer.

Check out the other stash reports over at Patchwork Times.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Quilts for Kids

STLMQG Cares has been having a year-long drive for Project Linus quilts,
and they're due tomorrow. I'm donating four that I've made this year:

From top to bottom, they are:
1)  Four Corners Cut & Shuffle quilt, blocks made by members of my class
2 & 3) Batik dot quilts, boy colorway and girl colorway
(blue plaid backing and white/lime print backing in photo above)
4) Basketball Plus quilt
These bring me up to 26 quilts made & given, toward my personal lifetime goal of 100 quilts for kids. At the rate I'm going, I'm going to be making quilts for kids 'til I'm at least 80!

I'm linking up with Sarah's Whoop Whoop Friday over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Check out the other whoop-worthy links over there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Trunk Show

OMG, how timely is this! I was invited to give a trunk show at a local guild, St. Louis Star Quilters, on this past Monday night. Today, Soma Acharya over at Whims and Fancies is hosting a virtual trunk show link up today. How cool is that?!!! So I'm excited to share some of the quilts I showed at my program on Monday. 
Although I started my program on Monday with a bit of background about me and a few earlier quilts, all of the quilts in this post have been made in 2013-2015.

1) Mega Medallion: My first ever blog post featured the fabrics for this one. It's all just 8" high triangles and it's all about the placement of lights and darks. The hardest part was selecting a variety of black-on-white prints for the background so that they all read the same value of grey and the prints don't jump out too much. Custom long arm quilted by Sandy Etheridge.
Mega Medallion, 90 x 88"

2) Hexies from Leftovers: I cut too many triangles for Mega Medallion and some of the prints didn't play nicely together. I had a lot of leftovers, so some of them ended up here. Walking foot quilted by me in arcs that echo the hexies.
Hexies from Leftovers, 35 x 46"

3) Strip Tease, my first published pattern (see pattern tab above). I had previously made it in blue but made it again in pink to illustrate the step-outs in the pattern, and I learned that this design works best in monochromatic or analogous colors with a strong focus print. Walking foot quilted by me in vertical channels.
Strip Tease, 36 x 42"

4) In the fall of 2013 I created a tutorial, which you can find in the tutorial tab above, for Charmed Snowballs. The charms are from a swap at STLMQG. Walking foot quilted by me in a kaleidoscope pattern.
Charmed Snowballs, 40 x 49"

5) Later in the fall of 2013, a friend talked to me about giving a program at a local guild, Hearts & Hands, about Modern quilting. I'm not a strictly modern quilter and I did not feel qualified to speak about Modern quilting. I suggested I could talk about modern fabrics, particularly the large scale ones, and how to work with the size and scale.  So I developed Big Print Beauty for a program in early 2014; long arm quilted by Darlene Pratte using a panto called Paisley Max.
Big Print Beauty, 75 x 90

6 & 7) Also in the fall of 2013 I had an idea for a method for making a block that turned out to be so versatile and could be used to make such a variety of blocks that I decided to submit it as a book proposal. I developed Positivity and Scoot for the book proposal and sent it off in November 2013. Positivity uses my Plus block and Scoot uses my Four Corners block, from Cut and Shuffle Quilts. Positivity was allover quilted by Darlene Pratte using Paisley Max. Scoot was quilted by me, in a diagonal grid.
Positivity, 60 x 60"

Scoot, 40 x 40"

8) Whoo-Hoo! In December 2013 the publisher called and accepted my book proposal. Could I have six quilts and the complete manuscript and all the step-outs and all the place-holder graphics to them by May 15, 2015? That's five months for everything.
Uh...OK, sure.

Heat Wave, below, uses the same Four Corners block as Scoot, above. Allover quilted using Paisley Max panto by Darlene Pratte. Kaffe Fasset fabrics courtesy of Westminster Fibers.
Heat Wave, 58 x 72"

The publisher said they would make a 32 page booklet, and it would likely be published in February 2015. Since it was to be a small booklet, I should be aware that one or two of the quilts might get cut due to space limitations.

9) Singing the Blues uses a variation of the Four Corners block, in which parts from two colorways are swapped to make alternating blocks. Allover quilted by Darlene Pratte using a panto called Bumpity.
Singing the Blues, 64 x 86"

10) Labyrinth is the most modern-ish of the quilts in the book, using positive and negative versions of the Labyrinth block for a tessellated maze effect. I gave it faux-spiral quilting with arcs starting at the upper right and lower left corners because I like the effect of curved quilting on straight-line piecing.

11) Zen Garden uses the same Labyrinth block, but only the positive version. Custom long-arm quilted by Sandy Etheridge with water in the blue and pebbles in the white.
Zen Garden, 76 x 88"
There were some delays and some communication challenges, a "regime change" at the publisher (their words) and much frustration for me. The bad news - February came & went, no book yet. The good news - when it eventually happened, it was 64 pages and they didn't cut anything. All my blocks and quilts and patterns and alternate colorway illustrations made it in! Cut and Shuffle Quilts finally came out in September 2015 and is available from AQS or from Amazon.

12) Since then I've continued having fun with patterns. I introduced Broken Chevron in the fall of 2014 and you can find the listing in my patterns tab above. Broken Chevron was recently juried into a local quilt show, The Quintessential Quilt 2015. Spiral quilted by me, starting at an elbow.
Broken Chevron, aka Walk Like an Egyptian, 48 x 60"

13) Inspired by the popularity of plus motifs and churn dash blocks, I made Plus Dash which was finished earlier this year. Custom quilted by Sandy Etheridge. I had fun compiling the fabrics for this one, inspired by a couple I picked up at my guild's fabric swap. Someone else's rejects that they wanted to get rid of became the catalyst for the grouping of fabrics I chose.
Plus Dash, 70 x 86"

14) And last, my most recent finish, Gramercy & Friends. This was a value study, all about the placements of lights, mediums, and darks. It was inspired by a FQ collection of Gramercy by Art Gallery Fabrics that I won at an event last year. I pulled some friends from stash, then added a few new FQs. The biggest challenge was making the math work - two 12" blocks with 2" sashing don't equal a 24" block, so I had to add coping frames around the 24" blocks. Custom quilted by Jane Coons using her Stattler Stitcher. Gramercy & Friends was juried in the The Quintessential Quilt 2015 and won a red ribbon. (No pattern for this one because it includes a Swoon block and an X & Plus block, and I don't own the rights to those blocks.)
PS - Can you find the Four Corners block?
Gramercy & Friends, 72 x 86"

So, what's next? I have four WIPs going now. After I get some Christmas sewing out of the way I want to bet back to finishing them. My goals for 2016 are to finish the four WIPs, design, make, and post at least one new tutorial on the blog, and design, make and publish at least one new pattern.

Thank you for sharing my quilting journey. Be sure to visit the other Trunk Shows at Whims and Fancies.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Designing Stockings

Not on my design wall, but on my worktable:

I need to make new stockings for us this year. Four for at my house, and one special one for baby CJ. The fabric above is for the special one. Today I'm working on the pattern, and later today I'll meet with the embroiderer to get the names embroidered on the cuffs. I need to develop the cuff pattern piece so I can give it to her for embroidery placement.

This stocking will have the snowman print fabric quilted to red fleece for the front, with maybe the red chevron print at the toe if the height of my yardage is a little short. The back of the stocking will also be red fleece. The cuff will be white fleece with red embroidery. I'll serge the whole thing together. I was thinking of binding it around the outside edges, but I don't know if it needs binding, or how that will affect the cuff attachment. I'll add a loop for hanging it at the upper right.

The four matching stockings for at my house will probably be made using several traditional prints, with strips sewn sew-and-flip style. Same red fleece backs and same white cuffs with red embroidery. I can use the same basic pattern for all of them. Here are the fabrics I have so far, plus the small red snowman print above, and I may collect a couple more prints. I want to vary the stockings a little so each one is unique but it's clear that they're all a set. Have you noticed that many of the Christmas prints are very large in scale this year? These are some of the smallest ones I've found so far.

I'm linking up with Patchwork Times. What are you designing this week?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Stash Report 11/8/15 - FQ Sale and Christmas Did Me In!

I added to the stash this week. Big time. Probably blew my chances of breaking even for the year. In my defense though, most of my purchases were for immediate needs.

One of the local shops had a fat quarter sale, $1 each. Too good to pass up, right? I picked up some blues for dad's blankie, and three of this low volume multi because it's such a good background.
Another low volume because you can never have enough backgrounds, right? A red star for QOV because I don't have much red in my stash, and a cute red floral because I like it. The red floral is really the only impulse purchase here. Not too bad so far.  
But wait, I'm not done yet... I need to make new Christmas stockings for us this year, and another one for baby CJ too. I had no Christmas fabric in my stash at all, so I'm collecting some. 3-1/4 yards in so far, and I still need a stripe for binding and maybe coordinates for the Santa print.
Here's what I found for CJ's stocking:
And some possibilities for the rest of the stockings, probably pieced sew-and-flip style:

Or maybe this one - need to find some more coordinates. The Santas and snowmen are about 5" tall.
All the stockings will have red fleece for the back and white fleece cuffs with the names embroidered in red. I'm seeing the embroiderer tomorrow.  
So, total damage, 6-1/4 yards in this week and I'm not done yet. At least I plan to use much of it right away. However, I'll have a lot left over from the stockings, so once again, the stash wins.
No finishes this week, so nothing out.
Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times and Molli Sparkles; check out the stash reports there.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Finish: Antler Dance Flimsy

I had hoped to get a better photo of the Antler Dance flimsy this week, but that didn't happen, so here it is on my design wall.
Antler Dance Flimsy on Design Wall

Antler Dance measures 72" square. My plan is to spiral quilt it from the center outward. I don't know if I'll get to the quilting before the first of the year or not, because I have a lot of holiday sewing this year.

I want to make new Christmas stockings for my family. We need one for baby grandson CJ, and I can't make it match the ones we have, so I need to make new ones for all of us. I'll have to buy Christmas prints; I don't usually do holiday projects so I don't have any Christmas prints in my stash.

I want to make a fleece-backed "blankie" for my dad, something he can fold and pet as he sits in his wheelchair. Also for my dad I want to make a fleece mini soccer ball. We made similar hand-pieced balls in cotton for last month's Piecing Group project, shown here at the home of our hostess, whose project this was. I'll make dad a little one, like on the bottom right, about 5" diameter. Something he can hold in his hand and squeeze, stroke, etc., tactile but washable. I'll insert a ribbon into one of the seams so they can tie it to his chair so he won't drop it.
Betsy's Hand Pieced Fabric Balls

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Friday Finish at Crazy Mom Quilts.