Work-in-Progress Girl


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Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt

Well, it’s been a lot longer than I meant to be! But I’ve got a finish to share:

Pink and Orange Quilt

I’ve finished my pink and coral and orange and black quilt made using fabrics from Fabric Spark‘s January blogger bundle, which was put together by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches. Back in January when I first got the fabrics, I talked a bit about how I found it sort of mystifying collection of colours.

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I expect it was a bit mystifying to me because I’m not generally a very big fan of pink and I don’t really like pink and orange as a combination and I don’t generally like florals and even though I think a splash of black is a good addition to almost any colour palette I sort of found it hard, mentally, to slot this much black in with such sweet colours and prints. But I decided to do something with it straight away and decided on a pattern from McCall’s America Loves Scrap Quilts Winter 2014/2015 magazine, Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman. I didn’t follow the pattern except to see what width to cut my strips; it was designed for scraps to create a larger quilt and I didn’t want to use more than my original 12 fat quarters, so my fabric strips weren’t going to match up with the pattern in any way (other than width).

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Twelve Fat Quarters turned out 36 blocks (with very, very little fabric waste) and then I had to figure out how to make it all a little bigger and also not square. I didn’t want a square quilt or a baby quilt, but I didn’t want to add too much fabric either, so I figured out that if I used a centre block with 5×6 blocks, then I could put my remaining 6 blocks around the edges to squeeze another 16″ in width/length out. And I could do it using only 1 yard extra fabric.

Pink and Orange Quilt

It took a little creative piecing of the borders, but I did it! Originally I was going to put five blocks up in the top corner and just one in the bottom left (well, this picture is sideways, because I hung it sideways on the fence, but if you turned it clockwise to stand it on end, then this explanation would make sense…), but I would have had to piece the border fabric in chunks and this way let me use 4 panels cut to 8.5″ x 40.5″ – no extra seams necessary! (Other than adding on the blocks, of course…)

I had wanted to use one of the 12 original prints as the border fabric, but I wasn’t able to get enough from Fabric Spark of any of the prints I was leaning towards, so I wound up choosing this Honeycomb in Marmalade from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey line. This was probably the better choice in the long run, since it’s uses the colours from the bundle, but also didn’t blend in with any of the blocks that might have butted up against it around the edges. And it had a lot of white, which I thought might help tone down some of the PINK ORANGE FLORAL-ness of it. I’m not sure that it worked in that way, but I can live with that anyway.

Pink and Orange Quilt

I constructed the back using yardage of one of the prints from the front, split up with pieced together scraps left over from making the blocks. I’m not sure why, but somehow I convinced myself that the scraps strips were going to be enough seperation that it wouldn’t matter if I lined up the back when I pieced it. Hahaha no. It looks terrible! But I’m reminding myself that it’s on the back of the quilt and most of the time it’s going to be hidden. What does it matter really, in the grand scheme of it all if the back side is a bit ugly?

Pink and Orange Quilt

I tried to think of this project as a practise piece for free motion quilting, since that’s something I’m always wanting to get better at but rarely willing to really practise. I wouldn’t say I did a great job – there’s lot of little jigs and jogs and I’m not very good at regulating my speed and stitch length or the scale of my quilting.

Pink and Orange Quilt

But I tried to have fun with it. I like spirals, but it took me a while to figure out how to deal with the weird awkward bits where one spiral didn’t fill in to the next space. I’ve still got a long way to go in perfecting them, but I like how it looks finished and I’m just not going to worry too much about the bits that didn’t turn out “perfectly” (because done is better than perfect).

Pink and Orange Quilt

I bound this quilt using a black and white dot from my stash (and a little scrap of honey comb in the corner).

I still haven’t washed it, so it might shrink up a little bit yet, but I think it’s going to look good finished (even if I am a bit iffy about pink and orange still!) And I’m just glad to have it done – it wasn’t a project that should have lasted 3 months, but I guess I’m pretty good sat distracting myself!

Some quilt stats
Name: Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt
Pattern: Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman
Size: About 56.5″ x 64.5″
Fabric: A fat quarter bundle chosen by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches, including fabrics from Cotton + Steel, Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics, and… others. The border is Bonnie Christine’s Honeycomb in Marmalade from her Sweet as Honey line.
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
Thread: White Aurifil (piecing and quilting)
Backing: Amy Butler’s Pressed Flowers in Carmine from her Cameo line.
Binding: A black and white dot.

This was my March goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, so I’ll be linking up there and with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.

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The 221B bag

So I’ve been on a bit of a blog holiday. I didn’t really mean to be – I’ve got four draft posts of things to show – but I’ve been drowning in things to do lately and haven’t been managing my time very well, so blogging was the bit that went by the wayside. (Even that Sunday Stash post the other day? That was written ages ago and then scheduled. It wouldn’t have been posted at all if not for that.)

This is probably the least important thing I’ve got to talk about right now, which means it is the easiest to talk about and therefore the one that will get talked about. Today (Yesterday, at this point – I fell asleep before I finished writing this entry!) I went to Calgary Comic-Con. I’ve never been to any kind of comic-con before, I’m not really into costuming or comics particularly and I think paying for photos/autographs is kind of lame (sorry if you’re into it, but I’ve never put too much stock in celebrity, which means I find it kind of appalling to think of paying for an experience that several hundred other people are also paying for – what’s the experience really?) and while I enjoy some fannish pursuits, they’re largely of the Easy Entry variety. Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Sherlock… there were so many more cosplayers for things I didn’t recognize even remotely, but who were probably among their people, so to speak.

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Anyway, there’s me in a terrible Instagram photo, dressed sort of… costume adjacent, if not in a costume exactly. In theory, you could say that I dressed up as 221b Baker Street from Sherlock, but since I don’t really do costumes I wanted the sort of costume that could be not a costume without much effort – take off the earrings and hide the bit on the scarf and it’s not a costume at all!

Comic-con was interesting, but I was super tired, so I’m sure that affected my response to it. I spent most of Thursday sewing my 221b bag, then slept for about three hours, got up and worked a night shift, came home by 8:15 AM, got ready, and left for the convention at 9 AM. So tired! I’m surprised I was still walking by the time we left because by that point I’d been on my feet for most of 15 hours. I’m surprised I didn’t crash into anything while I was walking because my eyes were trying to close too by the end.

Anyway, the bag. Even though I bought my ticket in January, naturally I didn’t actually do much by way of costume creation until the dead last minute. On Tuesday this week I washed and pressed my fabrics, then on Wednesday I cut out and started adding interfacing/fusible fleece to my pieces, but I only got so far:

Birdie Sling bag

At this point, there were still 4 pieces without interfacing and I hadn’t actually started any of the sewing. Patterns for things other than quilt tops always give me a bit of a fright – they often don’t make all kinds of sense to me and Amy Butler patterns in particular really set my brain into knots, but I got from there (the photo above) to here (the photo below) on Thursday:

221b Birdie Sling bag

Okay, Amy Butler patterns scare me, but this one – the Birdie Sling – wasn’t scary at all. It was easy, even for someone like me who can find a way to mess up any sort of non-quilt sewing pattern that gets put in front of me. It all came together perfectly and I couldn’t be happier with the finished bag. (Actually, yes I could be happier. The print on the fabric faded when I washed it so that my black straps/band around the top became way more intense than the black in the print. If I’d had a charcoal twill, it would have worked out perfectly, but I did not.) I suspect I’ll even make this pattern again, if I find a fabric I want to use for it. It’s easy to make, it looks fantastic finished, and it holds a TON of stuff.

The reason I call this the 221B bag is because that fabric on the base is the same print as the wallpaper in the lounge in 221b in BBC’s Sherlock. I bought it from Spoonflower in a cotton-linen blend, which was nice to sew with (and large enough that I could probably cut a second bag out of the leftovers), though the print seemed to fade unevenly in the wash. The proper wallpaper from the show, if you’re a fan, has blue stripes that fade into cream, but I thought it would be a bit more versatile without the blue (you can buy it with the blue stripe though). I had planned to stitch a yellow smiley face into the black band, but to be honest I couldn’t bring myself to ruin it that way — it looks good enough to use every day without it and if it had the smiley face, I wouldn’t. I think what I need is to get a badge/pin with the yellow smiley that I could just pin on if I were going somewhere like Comic-con again.

Birdie Sling Bag Interior

Please forgive these terrible photos – it was getting dark when I took them (yesterday) and then it snowed all day today and was kind of dreary out. (Yes. It’s almost May and we had a day long snow. It’s all been melting as it hits the pavement, but I bet there’ll be a dusting of it at least when I go to work in the morning.)

On the interior, I used an Amy Butler print, largely because it was one of a few fabrics I had enough of, but also because I just really love that print and it gives me a way to use it. The print is Sketchbook Roses from her Alchemy line. It’s not terribly visible, but on the left I added a kind of lobster claw clasp – this is an enormous bag and I don’t want my keys getting lost in there!

221b Scarf

As for the rest of the “costume”, I also wore my 221B scarf, which I bought from Geekiana on Etsy and a pair of earrings I made out of the Sherlock and John charms I bought from Red Bow Tie (also on Etsy, but currently on vacation). I put the IOU apple onto a bracelet chain, but I didn’t have any other charms to go with it (I’d have put on a Union Jack and… I don’t know, other things that apply) so I didn’t wear it.

Sherlock and Watson charms

I’m pretty sure Sherlock isn’t nerdy enough for Comic-con, but it was still a fun way to get at least a little bit into the spirit of things, since I’m not quite ready to go full on Batgirl or Lego Fig or Disney princess like so many people did.


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Sunday Stash: Totalling the Diet Train

If there’s anything I’ve learned from 15 years of failed attempts at dieting, it’s that I’m not really very good at dieting. Chocolate, fabric; it’s all the same. I did great in January, I crashed and burned in February, and now in March I’ve… well, crashed and burned again? I don’t know. Certainly the fabric diet train has been totalled by this second crash, if it wasn’t already written off in the first.

Well, this week I’m hosting Molli Sparkles‘s Sunday Stash link-up and giveaway – arriving a day early here because it’s already tomorrow in Australia 😉 – so I guess it’s good that I’ve got a lot of things to show you…

Molli Sparkles

The Mad About Patchwork Stuff:

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I was looking for the pattern on the left and came away with it and the pattern on the right (which, omg, SO MANY PIECES… it turns out the answer to the Enigma – how to make this quilt without y-seams – is all the Half-Square Triangles EVER… seriously, making this quilt will use up your yearly quota of HST).

And somehow all this stuff hopped into the envelope as well:

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The top two are Anna Maria Horner prints from Field Study and as with so many AMH prints, whenever I look at them I wonder WTF I was thinking because I don’t have one sweet clue what to do with them to make them turn into something good. But then someone else will use them and they’ll be brilliant! and amazing! and I’ll have to have them! And so now I do, but right now… I kind of hate them. I suspect I’ve actually bought the bottom print before, one of the prints from Sarah Watson’s Indian Summer line… I really need to clean up my sewing room and get my fabric back in order by colour so that I can actually see what I have.

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There was also a bit of Joel Dewberry love going on because I also bought two different Tile prints from his Notting Hill line as well as the Frames print. Love the colours in these ones. I always say I hate pink, but I LOVE that pink print ridiculously.

The Hawthorne Threads Stuff:

This is still en route and I’ve deleted the email with the invoice so …. it’s a mystery. But I bet it’s good.

The Fabricland Stuff:
I shit-talk Fabricland a lot because mostly it has a lot of not terribly great fabric, but I went there looking for hardware to construct a bag and discovered that they have a new collection of fabrics they’ve got labelled “Anna’s Fabrics” and if you read the selvedges or even the bolt ends under the Anna sticker, they are actually designer fabrics from companies like Andover and Robert Kaufman. I don’t actually love any of the fabrics I picked up from that line, but I was so weirded out that I somehow walked away with .5 metres of each of these:

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Ric Rac Rabbits by Marissa and Creative Thursday for Andover fabrics

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Fiesta by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman.

They also had a section for fat quarters:

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I picked up a handful of different things, aiming mostly for ones that had the printed side of the selvedge. No info on the blue strawberries or roses. The blue and white is from Paris & Company by My Mind’s Eye for Riley Blake. The grey with dots is something Christmas related also for Riley Blake (the selvedge is too hard to read). No info on the elephants, I just thought they were sort of fun and weird. The next two are both Rocket Launch Club prints by Sarah Jane and the last one is Ombre Dots from Riley Blake.

And finally… The Craftsy Stuff:
It’s just that Craftsy is having a Tula Pink workshop and and and… I barely like most of the prints in this line, but it’s Tula Pink! I love Tula Pink!

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And it involves a lot of 2.5″ strips of fabric, which made me wonder if the mystery is going to be something like her pixelated Anchor quilt! Or maybe it’ll be something like the butterfly quilt! I do know that, no matter what, my quilt will have a lot of horse’s asses in it:

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A 2.5 inch strip is apparently NOT the thing to do with that print. Besides horses’ behinds, there are also hoppy bunnies, which feel like a weird addition, as they’re too sweet and simple and graphic compared to the more realistic style of the rest of the animals and the… busy-ness of many of the other prints. It’s like some kind of Easter novelty fabric that accidentally slipped into the mix. It’s pretty cute, though. Wouldn’t it make a great skirt for a little girl?

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Love that geometric print too. I’ll have to dig through those jelly roll bundles and see what I think of the other fabrics, because I didn’t really like Acacia much either until I saw it in person and then suddenly all those bits I thought were weird seemed to come together.

Anyway… that’s it for this edition of Kristel Has No Self Control. Except that there is a giveaway to go along with the link up! Link up any time this week and you’ll be entered to win…

A fat eighth of the only sparkly fabric I own, something or other from Kokka:

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Two charm packs of Parson Gray’s World Tour line (they only have 12 charms each! why so stingy, FreeSpirit?!), because we all know how Molli feels about David Butler:

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And one charm pack of Amy Butler’s Belle line:

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Now, show us what you got!

1. Link up a blog post welcoming any new sewing supplies to your stash.

2. If it is fabric from your existing stash that you’ve showcased before, please use new photos with as much natural light as possible, and provide as many manufacturing details about the fabric.

3. Try to leave a comment on at least two other links. We want this to be a safe space for sewing supply collectors, after all!

4. Grab the button from Molli Sparkles, and proudly proclaim you endorse Sunday Stashing!

Sigh. I wish WordPress would let this be hosted on site, rather than sending you away to link up! In any case, I’ll let Mr Random pick a winner – you can be from anywhere – after the link up closes at the end of the week. Best of luck and can’t wait to see what’s new in your stash!


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Purging Stash

I’ve been all on fire about getting rid of unnecessary things lately. I even cleaned out both the fridge and pantry, throwing away anything that was expired and recycling packaging and putting aside some other things to go to the food bank. I’m itching to start getting rid of unwanted books, but don’t have any way to get them out of my house (other than walking, and books get heavy pretty quickly). I can be pretty relentless about purging unnecessary things from my house – I tend not to be very sentimental about possessions. I have special items made by family and friends, but if I’ve got multiple items from someone, I won’t feel bad getting rid of some of them, so long as I have something really meaningful left behind. But somehow it’s an awful lot harder to purge fabric.

Every so often I’ll go through my fabric and pull out anything I’m pretty sure I’ll never use, and then I put it in a reusable bag from the grocery store, but then… I don’t do anything with it after that. Sure, I could give it away or donate it or try to sell it on etsy… but somehow I can’t quite bring myself to do any of those things most of the time. I have occasionally traded fabric, sending away the bits I don’t like and getting something better in return, and that’s something I’m always okay with doing, but I rarely take the initiative there either.

I do find it easier with my non-quilting cottons. I’ve given away or traded flannels and canvas and voiles relatively often before. And today I’ve got some more voile I want to get rid of. If any one reading this happens to want some solid voile scraps, send me an email (clumsy.chord(at)gmail.com) and I will be entirely happy to send it your way:

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The pink and orange are actually half yards. The blue is a little more than a half yard, though I think it’s less than 3/4 yd. The grey really is just a skinny leftover strip, perhaps 8 inches wide and either a yard in length or 54 inches. (I can’t recall if it was cut down the length or the width of the fabric.) These fabrics were leftovers from a brief foray into making receiving blankets for babies (and they’ve all been prewashed, hence the wrinkling – I’m always afraid to get too aggressive with pressing something as delicate as voile, seems like it could scorch easily), when I discovered that I didn’t particularly love sewing with voile. (I mean, it’s not so very bad to use, but I made binding with it, and that was not terribly pleasant. It’s far too thin and slippery to be hand-stitching down to anything.) It’s a bit ridiculous to have them sitting around doing nothing, but they’re not really usable amounts for someone, say, making clothes. (I guess maybe you could make something for a little kid out of a half yard? I don’t know.) But people do quilt with voiles, so maybe someone’s got something in the works and wants some solids to add to their voile stash? [ETA: The blue and grey are gone gone gone. Thanks Lynn!]

terrycloth

And then there’s this big pile of looks-like-nothing-much. It’s two metres of terry cloth because once upon a time I had a genius idea of following one of Amy Butler’s patterns from Little Stitches (I think…) for a little baby terry cloth backed, maybe hooded bathrobe. Or something like that. I don’t know. Anyway, clearly I didn’t get beyond buying the fabric for that project. I assume it was an Amy Butler pattern because her patterns give me nightmares, so I can see myself buying the supplies for something and then backing away first slowly and then running away like mad when I tried to figure out what the hell she was talking about. Anyway, that one is also up for grabs, should anyone want it. (Though in that case I’d prefer to be reimbursed for shipping – it’s a bit bulky!) It’s never been washed and it’s about about 2 metres long (so another 8-10 inches more than 2 yards, depending how generously they cut it at the store) and over 60-inches wide.

canvas

And then there is this. Canvas and home decor fabric. I keep telling myself never to buy them because I hate having the scraps but feel too guilty to throw them away. There was a bit of accidental purchasing involved in here – the green on white I thought was a quilting cotton, but obviously had reading comprehension issues. It’s a half yard. The grey one is also a half yard. Actually, it’s not. I used it in the lining of some pot holders I made, to add extra layers of fabric without using fabric I actually liked. I’d like to think I didn’t purchase that intentionally, and there is some part of me that thinks it was included in a scrap pack I bought somewhere, but it’s too big in size for that to be likely.

elephants

Then these cuties are mostly fat quarters, though there are strips removed from two of them. The hippos are a half yard. I like these, a lot, but I can’t figure out what the heck to do with them! When I bought them, there were both canvas and quilting cotton prints of the same thing that came out around the same time, and I accidentally bought the canvas ones. But what do you do with a fat quarter of canvas? I dunno. These ones, I think, I’m not going to give away right now – I think I’ll save them for December Giveaway Day/Week at Sew Mama Sew. I bet there’s tons of people out there with ideas for canvas.

Really, I could probably keep this up for weeks: a different selection every time. Maybe I should finally sort that bag full of unwanted quilting cottons by… colours or something and just give it all away. Well, another day. It’s too dark for photographing anything (and it’s only 6:30 pm!) so I might as well stop trying to get decent shots of anything!

Anyway, linking up with Finding Fifth‘s Sunday Stash, this week hosted by Rachael of The Floral Suitcase.

Finding Fifth


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Random Thursday

Is this supposed to be a link-up or is it just really… Random Thursday? Well, here’s a few random bits and bobs:

1. Next project

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I spent an embarrassingly long time sitting and staring at that one hexie yesterday trying to decide which way to go with it. The Paper Pieces package recommends sewing through the paper, but I want to use them multiple times and so I can’t help thinking it MUST be better for the paper not to sew through. The package does say you can keep reusing them anyway, but don’t they get all damaged in the corners where the stitches go? I don’t know. I’ve been planning today to watch a few videos on YouTube to see if I can decide which looks a more likely route for me.

2. Birdie Sling

Birdie Sling fabrics

Not sold on the denim yarn-dyed Essex Linen. I like it, a lot, but it feels too pale compared to the darker blue, maybe? (Special thanks to Michelle for her contribution to these fabrics being in my stash! :D) I thought from photos online that maybe it would be a darker blue than it is. I think a bag looks top-heavy if you put the darker fabric on top, and I could switch it so that the print fabric is on the bottom, but honestly I don’t want that much of the print on display. The bag on the pattern cover has a darker top band, but I think that large print on the bottom (with the smaller print up top) counter-acts the top-heaviness. I’ll have to think about it. I might have some Kona Nightfall fabric that would probably work (maybe?) and would definitely be darker. I don’t want to have to buy more fabric, in any case.

3. Leftover bits from something I’ve been working on.

Liberty Scraps

Liberty scraps. I’m not a big fan of Liberty (by and large I find their prints to be overly fussy, but there are a few I do like, even though they are fussy little florals), but wanted to see what the Tana Lawn was like to work with. I’m not 100% on board with the thing I made that generated these scraps (photos later – I want to be more happy with it before I share) and I wound up putting interfacing on the fabric because it was too light-weight (compared to the linen I paired it with). It also smelled a bit of bug spray – I have to assume that’s the fault of the seller, not the fabric maker, but I’ve been airing it out and can’t smell it any longer. (Also, I could smell bugspray at work the other day where no bug spray existed, so maybe I had some crossed wires in my brain…)

4. The solids Churn Dash.

Churn Dash

Just need a few more… Well, I need one more row’s worth, plus I’m waiting for 2 that will be sent to me. Love how this is coming together.

5. Some of my problem spots with the FMQ on the Star Surround project. If you have suggestions or advice for avoiding, please let me know!

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There’s lot of little things to nit pick with this one, which I will nit-pick in other photos instead, what I took this photo for was the kind of jerkiness of it. I didn’t get a smooth loop at all on that top one, which was just me needing to stop and get my hands in a better position (but just pushing through anyway). What really bothers me is the stitches just before it goes from a straight(ish) downward line into the loop – you can see a spot where I went from vertical almost immediately to horizontal, and although I mentioned this was a spot where I’d needed to reposition my hands, I ALSO had that same issue in places (sometimes) where I did come to a complete stop, and then started again. Sometimes I could get a smooth restart and then other times I’d go off in a completely different direction than I really “should” have. I KNOW that it’s not going to show much in the grand scheme of things (which is why I didn’t pick out any of my stitches, except where there were thread breaks and the one time I had a toe catcher), but I’d still rather learn to prevent it.

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Okay. Quarter-inch stitches vs sixteenth of an inch stitches. I know this is about the speed of my hands relative to the speed of the machine, but… how should I sew into a curve to keep my stitches smaller and more uniform? I know, practise. Yay, practise. But should I be giving it a little more gas at the beginning of the curve or easing off…? Move my hands faster as I go into that motion? I don’t know. As with all my other little issues, they seemed to hit intermittently – every time I congratulated myself for a particularly well done bit, I’d wind up doing something dumb 😀 (If I hadn’t used such garish fabrics, I’d show you my practise stitches! My best rows were the first two, before I started paying attention to what I was doing, before I remembered to turn my stitch length to zero even!, then they got progressively worse for a bit while I figured out what to do to improve things, and then they started to get better again. My one practise row of stippling is… appalling. There’s a reason I haven’t done it for realsies yet. Definitely need a whole practise sandwich just for that! But I want to go through Leah Day’s method of practising in stages – u shapes, lobster claw shapes, etc. – before joining it all up in a properly random stipple.)

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Okay, this doesn’t show super clearly because I could not convince my camera to focus on the problem spot rather than a spot an inch above it. But that particularly long looking stitch kind of in the bottom middle of the lower loop… My machine skipped a stitch. It only happened a couple times in the whole quilt, but I seem to remember reading something somewhere about what that means, but I can’t seem to find any information on the topic now! (I tried googling FMQ skipped stitch, but that didn’t help. It’s possible I just got bored of looking for answers, though, so I should probably search it again now that I’m not so focussed on getting that quilt done done done!) A couple of my skipped stitches, I went in with a needle and thread and couched the skipped bit (didn’t want to unpick, also didn’t want to leave a loop big enough for a kid’s finger to go into), but I didn’t do it every time. (It was awkward! And I don’t know how stable that couching will be, it’s not like with embroidery where you can secure it really easily on the back.)

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Okay. You can see a bit of this in most of my photos, but the bobbin thread is even more visible in this photo because the darker part of the variegated thread is on the bobbin thread here, with a very pale part on top. I always thought this was a tension issue, but my machine is set at almost the highest tension available. I didn’t adjust it to the higher setting because it didn’t do this all the time I was FMQing, so I wondered if something else was at work?

I don’t know. If any of you do much FMQing and have thoughts or suggestions, let me know! I know it’s not easy to diagnose when you can’t see what I do when I quilt, but I figured someone might have thoughts.

[Also, I’m linking up to Free Motion Quilting Friday at Leah Day’s The Free Motion Quilting Project. If you want to see the finished quilt which has all these flawed bits of stitching on them, you can find it here.]


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Wednesday Works + September Goals

This is a double whammy post – both my current Work in Progress for both the WIP Wednesday link ups (With Lee of Freshly Pieced and Needle and Thread Network for Canadian bloggers) AND for the September goal post link up for A Lovely Year of Finishes. I didn’t finish my August goal – to finish my Doctor Who quilt top – so I’m adjusting it to my September goal (and expanding on it slightly).

Dr Who Quilt-in-Progress

My August goal was to get the top put together, and I nearly made it – I got all the blocks sashed and pieced together and I got the inner border attached, but I stalled out on the outer border. You can see a part of it in the photo – it’s the wide band of the light blue fabric on the far left. I’m piecing in some words on two sides of the border, so I need to get those words put together before I can really finish the top.

I was started on the words, but my parents came to town last week and we went on our little mini-trip and that kind of sucked up the hours I might have spent finishing it in August.

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This is where I’m at right now, and it’s where I was at last week when I set it aside in favour of washing dishes and changing bed sheets before my guests arrived! I had planned to work on it some more today, but I had a pretty terrible day at work and I’ve been wallowing a bit. It’s a difficult thing being in that sort of mood because I know that crafting can be very relaxing and I could use a good dose of that, but I was so tense that I didn’t really want to deal with a fiddly project where making a mistake with my piecing might just make me blow things up into something bigger and more devastating than it actually would be. (Everything seems worse and more insurmountable when you’re in a bad mood!)

Instead, I got down to the difficult task of fabric shopping. The very lovely Michelle of Factotum of Arts gifted me an Etsy giftcard as a part of her One Year Blogoversary celebration/giveaway, so I thought… why not spend it on fabric for my future Birdie Sling:

Birdie Sling Beginnings

This photo does NOT feature the fabric I bought with that giftcard – it’s still got to be cut, packaged, shipped, etc! But this fabric was my starting point. I wanted to pick up interfacing for the bag, so on the weekend I went to Fabricland, which is a fabric chain that sells all sorts of varieties of fabrics, but has a pretty poor quilting cotton selection. They have a fairly large one, at least at the store nearest me, but most of the fabric isn’t very good quality. And then every now and again you’ll find something quality that you recognize – in this case, it was this poppy print from Laura Gunn’s poppy collection for Michael Miller. (One of my unquilted but otherwise finished quilt tops is done in this line of fabric; it’s definitely a favourite line of mine, even after all these years.) This particular print appeals to several different parts of me. It lets me have a fairly neutral bag – the bottom part of the bag will be in Essex Linen in Denim (so long as it matches… that fabric is en route too) – but one with a pretty print and a few little splashes of colour. It’ll let me have a kind of wild lining, which is something I love, via Laura Gunn’s rust stripe print from that same fabric line (also en route, or will be once the seller lists my reserved listing and I can buy it).

I pulled open and read through the instructions for the Birdie Sling and it sounds pretty doable. I think even I can do it, and I’m not always that great with patterns for things like this. It’s less intimidating than most of the patterns in Amy Butler’s book of baby patterns, at least, so that’s something!

I’m linking up to The Needle and Thread Network and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, as well as A Lovely Year of Finishes for September:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced My Button


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Belated Sunday Stash

So my parents came to town this weekend and decided that we should go take a road trip to southern Alberta – I wanted to see Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump:

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

So we did that, and we went Frank Slide, in the Crowsnest Pass of the Rocky Mountains:

Frank Slide

Frank Slide

Frank Slide

And we went to Lethbridge, to the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden:

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden

We also, ahem, went to a couple quilting stores in Lethbridge. We had a little time in the evening where the things we wanted to see were closed, but the quilt stores were open, so I got to drop in on The Quilt Addict and Village Quilts. I rather prefered Village Quilts – the woman working there was super friendly and their selection was a little closer to my own tastes. They had a lot of Moda fabrics and precuts of fun lines that I like a lot. But I couldn’t leave either of them without buying a little something.

From The Quilt Addict:

Mini Quilt Kit

A mini-quilt kit.

Birdie Sling Pattern

A pattern for Amy Butler’s Birdie Sling. I’ve wanted to make that one for a long time, but always avoiding it because I’m scared of Amy Butler’s patterns. Still, the package says this one is suitable for beginners, unlike some of her more notorious patterns. I guess we’ll see how it goes…

FQ Bundle

And finally, a fat quarter pack. This was written up as an Amy Butler FQ pack, but there’s at least one Heather Bailey FQ in there. Oh well!

And then, from Village Quilts, I picked up these pre-cuts and some flannel:

Asst New Stash

I can’t recall (and it’s not on the same floor as I currently am…) but think that the flannel is a Riley Blake print. I was a real genius and bought enough for the length of the quilt back, but not for the width. Oops. I’m hoping I’ll have some more flannel at home that’ll cover that bit of extra that I’m going to need. It’s really not a huge amount of fabric, but just enough to be annoying. I didn’t buy the pre-cuts for anything in particular – I just always liked Lucy’s Crab Shack and never bought any. The mini-charm pack was just because those little charm packs are so cute. Who resist?

Other things no one can resist? Waterfalls. So pretty!

Lundbreck Waterfalls

And here’s some mountains off in the distance, with ranch and/or farm land in the foreground:

Random Alberta Mountains/Countryside

And that’s it, for this ridiculously photo-heavy post. I’m linking up with Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth:

<a href=&34;http://findingfifth.blogspot.com.au/&quot; target="_self"gt;&34;Finding


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Stuff and Things

Earlier this week, every time I thought about writing up a post about what I got done over the weekend, I’d start thinking instead about how I needed to be stitching up my Tardis block and so I’d wind up not writing that post. But here’s more or less what I finished up this weekend:

1. Sewed, pressed, and trimmed all the half square triangles and flying geese units in my Star Surround quilt top.

Star Surround Flying Geese

I still can’t pretend to love these fabrics, but I do like them a lot better here than I did in that collection I was trying to create for a baby quilt. Maybe by the time this is all sewn, I’ll like it so well, I’ll just give this baby quilt to my friend rather than doing the double hour-glass thing I’ve been planning.

2. Sewed up a sample pouch for the Simple and Sweet Swap (wherein we will swap a pouch and 50 charm squares with someone)

Don't be scared off, Simple & Sweet Swap Partner...

I hadn’t made one of these in a while, so I picked a few fabrics up off my pile of solid fabrics and thought “The more garish, the better” apparently, and then added some matching scraps of an Amy Butler print. This has a kind of early 90s vibe (for me, but most trends hit my hometown late). I just wanted the practise, so it didn’t really matter what I used. Style-wise I think the pouch is pretty great. Colourwise… it’s certainly interesting. I may give it away someday, but I’m not really sure who would want it. (I had someone in mind, but seeing it finished in all it’s technicolour glory, I’ve kind of lost the desire to send it to her.) There are a couple small flaws (my ruler slipped when I was trimming one half of it, so you’ll notice the colour lines don’t meet up on the side seams – I lost close to a quarter inch on that one side) and I flubbed something to do with the zipper that I can’t really explain but which means it’s a bit lumpy near the opening of the zipper. (I pressed the fabric to one side, but should have opened the seam.) Anyway, now I know what to avoid, so I can make a proper pouch for my recipient. (But I won’t show it until after she receives it because it’ll be obvious to her that it’s for her if she sees what I’m planning to make.)

3. Stitched up a Hufflepuffian quilt block.

Black and Yellow Quilt Block

There was yellow and black fabric on the futon in my sewing room, so… I made something with it. The colour is a little off in this photo – the wall is beige not grey – but it’s surprisingly close to the real deal. The yellowest yellow you’ve ever seen.

I feel like there should be more – I wanted to do another churn dash block and I wanted to get a couple flags done for Lac Megantic – but I went on a cleaning spree in my bedroom and got rid of a bunch of stuff that needed to be recycled or donated and I straightened up the fabric shelves in my sewing room. Surprisingly, both those things took quite a long time.

Stash

I went through most of the fabric that was new or hadn’t gone back onto the shelves after being put to use (or after testing and rejecting it for some project or other) and got it refolded and stuffed back on the shelves. I haven’t come up with a storage solution for my solids (not visible in this photo) yet or my voiles, flannels, children’s fabrics, home decor fabrics, linens or linen blends. Or the few pre-cuts I’ve got. (There aren’t many, two or three jelly rolls besides what’s stuffed into one of the shelves on the right.) Oh, or the “quilt in a bag” kits that I’ve got – the bag in the bottom right hand cube is actually a quilt top in a bag (along with the pattern), but there are two or three others I’ve never gotten around to making…

And then finally, the other thing I did was sort out the unruly, unholy mess that was my “Quilting” bookmark folder in my browser. I went through and sorted everything by type of link and deleted any dead links and links to things I don’t think I’ll use (or know I won’t).

Quilting Bookmarks Folder

You can’t, of course, see into any of the folders, here, but all of it was in one very, very, very long folder, mixed in with a bunch of embroidery related links (I still need to sort those ones out, but there aren’t nearly so many). So much neater and more usable now! The ones at the bottom that aren’t in a folder are for projects currently in progress and though there is a folder for that, these are ones I want dealt with now, not just soon. (The Leibster link… I’ve been nominated 3 or 4 times, but keep not following through. I’m really undecided on the whole concept because I’ve never liked anything that involves chain letter style attempts to make people “pass it on.” And it’s a nice thing to have someone choose you, but I don’t know what point it serves? I don’t know. Still churning that one over.)

Anyway, I guess it was my weekend to organize as much as anything else! But now… I should go sew.


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Stress Shopping

A couple of weeks ago I said this: “I can tell I’m stressy because after ages of not spending money on anything unnecessary and especially not on fabric for my stash… I spent like $150 on fabric/notions today without really noticing it. I hope I don’t have buyer’s remorse when it all shows up.”

It’s all showed up now (well, it had earlier this week/last week, but I chose to spend my time stitching, rather than talking about it), so I thought I’d do a picture post and kind of hash out some of my thoughts. (Buyer’s remorse? Not exactly, just not quite Buyer’s Super Excited Awesome either.)

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My first purchase was 4.5 yards of fabric from a Canadian shop on Etsy, Kloth Shoppe. The text print up top is Merci Beaucoup from Stof and the one on the bottom is from the Bon Appetit collection for Michael Miller. The green and blue is from Amy Butler’s Lark line. I wish I’d bought more of that one because I really like it, it’s a lot less busy than a lot of Amy Butler’s prints these days.

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What I was really needing was fabric for a baby quilt for an old friend of mine; she’s having her first baby in fall/winter and I wanted to make something for her even though we haven’t been in contact in years. (Her mom and my mom are friends, and occasionally my mom sees this old friend of mine, so I still hear bits of news. When I was living in Saskatoon, the friend was in Regina, and then I moved out to Calgary, and now she’s living in Saskatoon. We haven’t been in contact since we lived in the same city, though, so it’s been probably 6 or 8 years since we’ve really spoken.) Anyway, back in the day she wasn’t really into anything very cutesy, especially for boys, so I wanted to make something that has a slightly masculine colour-scheme, but wouldn’t be particularly cute about it. No animal prints, no little boy robots or animal prints or whatever. So the thought was to make something using only striped fabrics, using a red, navy, light blue, and green colour scheme. (Yes, please do scroll back up and see how well I stuck to that thought.) I figured I’d make a double hourglass block with either white or a light grey as the solid.

Since I didn’t find anything on Etsy (from Canadian shops) and since I didn’t find anything from any of the non-Etsy Canadian shops either, I went to Hawthorne Threads. I love Hawthorne Threads, their shipping rates are relatively reasonable even to Canada (they undercut themselves on large shipping amounts because it’s gotten HELLA expensive to ship to Canada), they have a TON of options, and their colour matching tool lets you have a reasonable idea about how things will work together. I figured with them I’d be able to find a dozen prints for the top, plus a backing fabric. And that is what I bought, but…

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Two of my fabrics are flannel and the rest aren’t. It’s not that HT doesn’t say what type of fabric it is, I just wasn’t paying attention. (Did I say I was stress shopping? I was. I wasn’t paying attention to ANYTHING as closely as I should have been.) Fortunately the chevron print was meant for the backing material, and I’m definitely okay with flannel as a quilt back. It can shrink A LOT though, so I usually buy extra just in case, but I didn’t. Which I guess means it’s okay that the dot fabric is flannel too because if it does shrink too much, I can still piece the back a bit and keep it up to size. Still, that’s one fewer fabric for the front of the quilt (because I’m not going to mix flannel and cotton on the top.) The Chevron fabric is Medium Chevron in Boy for Riley Blake, and I think the dot is Circle Dot in Medium Blue by Alpine Fabrics.

011

Anyway, I got distracted from my plans pretty quickly because one of the stripes I found was in a kind of aqua, red, orange, yellow and grey, and it matched to a bunch of other fabrics that also had blue and green. And then I expanded my definition of stripe to allow rows of cars and then I found a grey star print and and and…

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And hey, if I’m letting cars through, why not ships. And ships lead to a text-in-rope print and then dots. And if I was breaking all my rules, why not a cute squirrel print anyway? It fit the colour scheme, right? And that tree fabric is kind of stripey and it’s just awesome, so why not? Well, throw away the ships because they’re too tall for the hourglass pattern! And once all this fabric arrived… I don’t really want to use the ones with the orange in them or the grey star because they’ve got that sort of dingy colour scheme that I often find (and don’t really love) in Japanese fabrics and the squirrel and tree are too far off message.

009

Which all means that of the batch, the only ones I really want to use are the four in the middle row. Maybe I should just try shopping my stash to see if I can scrounge up enough fabrics in that red, blue, grey and orange scheme to make a quilt top. I’d still like a good variety of prints, twelve if possible, and I’d still like to keep it fairly simple (meaning no floral, no animal, no modes of transportation, but yes to stripes, dots, and other geometrics), but I don’t want to have to buy another 4-6 yards of fabric (HT only sells in half yards and larger) in hopes that this time I’ll be happier with the outcome. (And maybe I’ll be able to slip in a little bit of those striped ones, but not the car ones, in the dingy looking fabric, if they’re present in smaller amounts rather than making up 4 of 8 fabrics.)

Anyway, the fabrics are:
Top Row: My Favourite Ship in Sky from Out to Sea by Sarah Jane; Crazy Stripe in Multi from Boy Crazy by My Mind’s Eye; Crazy Cars in White from Boy Crazy by My Mind’s Eye; Stars in Grey from One for the Boys by Zoe Pearn; Stripe in Cream from One for the Boys by Zoe Pearn
Second Row: Sailors ABC in Flame from Out to Sea by Sarah Jane; Pirate Stripe in Flame from Out to Sea by Sarah Jane; Small Dots in Navy from Riley Blake; Small Chevron in Boy from Riley Blake
Bottom Row: Squirrels and Nuts in Navy from Get Together by David Walker; Birch Forest in Aqua from Backyard Baby by Patti Sloniger

While all this shopping was going on and I was still looking around on Etsy, I found a shop that sells Sewline Supplies. I’ve previously bought all my Sewline stuff from a Canadian Shop Which Shall Not Be Named (because of a bad experience earlier this year while trying to buy some refills for my glue pen, I don’t think anything malicious was going on, but certainly a big bout of laziness/not having enough staff maybe and some misfortune getting their products across the border, but it was still a piss-off for me) but haven’t found a lot of shops that sell it, and so when I did find Our Epoch, I thought I’d better buy enough to make the shipping worth the while.

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So the necessary stuff was the Sewline Glue Pen refills (I only bought one package, but they accidentally sent me two, which they’ve told me just to keep – I was willing to mail it back because I don’t use SO much glue that I need four refills right now) and the Ceramic pencil leads, in white and pink. (I’ve been using white and green, but I don’t think they had green, so I figured I’d try out the pink for a while.) The Magic Bobbin Washers are always recommended by Leah Day of The Free Motion Quilting Project, so I’ll try them out. The lime green ric-rack is just because I liked the colour, and then two honeycombs of Happy Go Lucky by Bonnie & Camille, who somehow manage to break past my general dislike of florals. I always love how their collections look when they’re all together, they’ve got a great colour sensibility.

I bought all of that in the space of maybe 45 minutes online, but I wasn’t done. Nope! The next day I went stress shopping to Fabricland. I don’t know if Fabricland exists outside of Canada, but it’s a chain that sells all sort of fabrics (quilting cotton and a lot of clothing fabrics, home decor, etc.). I find most of the quilting fabrics to be somewhere in the poor-to-middling quality, but they occasionally get in big name fabrics. And if you’re a member, they’re the cheapest place to get batting, locally, because it’s really expensive to ship something as bulky as quilt batting. They’re good for notions too, though only if they’re on sale. (If you’re a member you get an automatic 20% off notions, which tells me that their mark-up is 20% higher than it needs to be. Subtract 20% and you’re probably at the price that it SHOULD be set at.) They fairly frequently have 30-50% off notions, so I tend to buy all my rulers from them and cutting mats and that sort of thing. Anyway, they didn’t have any big sales at the time, so I didn’t get the ruler I wanted (a while ago I mentioned losing my good 12.5″ square ruler – I still haven’t found it!), but I did pick up some more thread and some other interesting looking things:

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Okay, looking at that photo… Fabricland doesn’t sell Fiskars, so I’m not sure where I bought the blades (probably Michaels, for 40% off), but I’m glad I did because I accidentally ran my most recent blade (and it was REALLY new!) over a pin yesterday and now it’s skipping a thread every turn around when I cut. The thread is just basic Gutermann thread, which I use for piecing. I know everyone online has drunk the Aurafil koolaid, but I haven’t tried it yet and my sewing machine likes Gutermann, so I’ll go on using it. (I do have one spool of Aurafil thread that I bought a while ago to try. I haven’t got around to it yet, and I’m a little scared to try because maybe my machine will purr like a kitten and produce the World’s Most Amazing Stitching Ever if I do and then I’ll have to start buying more expensive thread that has to be shipped to me because nobody nearby sells it.)

The Grip Disks are just for a couple of my cutting rulers that don’t have very good grip and slid all over the place. (The absolute worst is a Dresden plate ruler I’ve got. I’ve had it for years and it’s so slippery it’s a wonder I’ve never chopped off a finger tip while trying to cut with it. Then again, I’ve never made a Dresden plate because every time I’ve tried cutting the fabric, it’s slipped all over the place and I’ve not gotten appropriately sized units.) And last up are the oval quilt clips, which just seemed like a neat idea: when you’re quilting a large quilt in a home machine, you can roll up the excess quilt and hold it together in a roll with those clamps. Seemed like it might be worth a try.

Anyway, that’s it for my ridiculous shopping extravaganza. Now I just need to reevaluate all the fabric choices for that baby quilt in the making. (And why couldn’t she have a girl? I’ve got a spare girly quilt top that just needs to be quilted!) And then get to work.


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Wonky Stars Quilt Top

Wonky Stars Quilt by clumsy chord
Wonky Stars Quilt, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

It’s been a while, I know, and my only excuse is that I’ve been lazy. I’ve been working on things, I just haven’t been talking about it.

Well, after almost two weeks of rain, I’ve finally had a sunny day so I could take some things outside and try to photograph them, but it was some kind of windy out there.

This new quilt top was a quick and fun one to put together. I took less than a week (and a whole lot of watching Lie to Me) to put it all together. (I generally finish nothing, over the span of years, so to finish something inside of a week is big! Even if that finish is only a quilt top and not a full on quilt.)

Last year I put together a quilt top of wonky stars in purple (blogged here) and had talked about it in one of my Talk to Me Tuesday videos (see here) and someone mentioned in the comments that they’d like to see how I make those blocks, so I decided to record a tutorial on my method. (Which isn’t edited, though it’s filmed, and was really hard to do because I don’t have a second camera person and I couldn’t get the right camera angle to show most of what I was doing. Frustrating! I’ll add a link about that once I have it finished, in case anyone is interested.) Anyway, since I was making a block for the tutorial video, I decided I should just make a whole quilt was I was at it. And so I did.

Wonky Stars Quilt

And now things go a little further back in time. All the way back in April 2010, John Adams of QuiltDad.com had a GINORMOUS giveaway for his two-year blogiversary. By luck of the random number generator draw, I won a prize of three charm packs: Jennifer Paganelli’s Dance With Me, Valori Wells’ Del Hi, and Dena Designs’ Monaco (donated by Missouri Star Quilt Co.). Westminster, the company that produced those lines, doesn’t use a standard number of charms in a charm pack (like Moda with the 40 charms), and I knew I didn’t have enough to make anything in particular with those charm packs, so I picked up a fourth charm pack for Amy Butler’s Love, since I thought her generous use of colour would play well with the mix of colours in the existing charm packs. And then the fabric sat, and sat, and sat a little more.

When I started planning to work on the wonky star tutorial, the laziest part of me lit up like a light bulb at the thought of using charm squares rather than cutting my own for the block. Yes, 12-inch blocks are pretty standard, but 13.5-inch blocks make larger quilts! And take less time to cut out! I had 100 squares and only needed 96 to make a 12-block quilt! Clearly it was destiny. All I needed then was a single standard colour for the stars to help ground the crazy-cakes mixture of four fabric lines from four different designers, so I pulled the yardage of white-on-white print that was on the top of my White fabric pile, and started cutting. I very nearly ran out – I didn’t measure anything, I just assumed that what I had would be enough – but I managed to make it work, though I did add a couple of scraps of a different white-on-white from the scrap bag and a single star point of pure white. I didn’t plan anything, in regards to layout. I just put my four piles of charms out on the futon beside my sewing table and took two from each pile for a while for each block, and then later I switched to taking three from the two larger piles and just one from the smaller ones, until I got down the end and had only four squares left. I also didn’t plan out where each block would land in the quilt – I just sewed them together in the order I made them, joining rows of three together as they were finished. Once it was done, I thought the crazy-cakes mixture of prints and colours was still too over-whelming, so I added the thick border in red to try to hem in and confine the crazy. I think it works. Or it works well enough, anyway.

This newly finished, freshly windblown quilt top is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50-inches by 64-inches. It was finished on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. I don’t know yet where it’ll make its home, but I hope it’ll be loved, where ever it winds up.