Tuesday, September 30, 2014

september gypsy wife quiltalong giveaway link party


it's my turn to host the gypsy wife qal monthly giveaway! this month's winner will receive a $25 gift certificate from the fat quarter shop. free is always nice, but free fabric of one's own choosing is extra nice.

how are your gypsy wives coming along, anyway? mine is looking something like this:

 the pile of fabric i pulled to use for my quilt, taking up room on the couch in my sewing area . . .

and a much smaller pile of finished blocks, removed from the design wall to keep out of the light until i can get back to them. i had to put my gypsy lady away at the beginning of the summer because there was just not going to be time for her. i thought my month for the quilt along post was november and i'd have time to catch up, but here we are and i'm caught.

according to the schedule, the blocks for september are
Puss in the Corner (2)Square in a Square (7×3″),9
i was able to complete the 7 - 3" square in a square blocks, aka: economy blocks, which is much faster to write and currently more trendy.

here's my first tip for making these: follow the pattern cutting directions. i got through 4 squares before i realized i was cutting the center square at the finished size rather than at the size the pattern told me to cut. that was painful because it took me a long time, and now the smaller squares are useless because the pattern only calls for one of them and since i cut the smaller corner squares at the size the pattern called for, my center squares are extra tiny. i was wondering why so little of the center fabric was actually showing! the blocks look much better cut the way the pattern called for.

a few other tips i discovered along the way follow.

tip #1: don't use your default 1/4" seam guide foot since you are stitching on the drawn line rather than at a 1/4" out from anything. i noticed my guide foot was causing a little bunching as i sewed. just the regular old foot works best here. (this may only apply to me who can't sew without her training wheel foot on.)

tip #2: if you are using a print for the corners, you can determine which half of the print will show in the corner by placing that half on the inside of the square rather than along the edges. if you look you can see my drawn diagonal line that directs where i sew. this forms two triangles. the lower triangle on the bottom right is the portion of the print that will show up after all is cut and pressed in place. i wanted as much of the green vs the navy showing in my block so i put most of the unwanted navy in the upper corner along the edges so it would get trimmed.

 this is the above piece after it's been sewn, cut, and pressed. the triangle to the right is the bit cut off and the small square on the left is the piece for the other corner. (it's not helpful that i switched the block around when i photographed it the second time, but hopefully you follow along anyway.)

 now i've laid the last corner piece on with the corner i want showing facing in toward the center of the block. (wrong! actually, if you look, i've got it turned around. this is a sample of how not to do this.)

 as soon as i began sewing i noticed what i was doing. see how my upper right and lower left corners don't match like i had intended? time to unpick.

 take two: the triangle that is going to look like the piece i cut is now placed along the outer edge so we are lined up properly for matchy-matchy corners.

and now you see why sewing takes me so long. i only seem to learn by trial and error.

 tip #3: when trimming up your block, if you tilt it on an angle, sort of "on point", you can trim two sides without having to move your block or ruler. just zip up that lower right side and then back across the top.

 then just flip the ruler to the other side and you can trim the other two sides without moving the block at all. just make sure you are making the correct size block or none of this will matter at all. (3" finished, not cut!)

 tip #4: instead of drawing a pencil line, you can also just fold that triangle in half and finger press it to get a guide mark. the amount of lighting available as you sew will determine if this is actually helpful or not, so you'll have to try it first.

 tip #5: when cutting the seam allowance on the first two corners, you can gain yourself the tiniest bit of wiggle room by cutting the seam at a scant 1/4" rather than a true or generous 1/4".


if you put the 1/4" mark to the right of the seam, you'll be cutting it generous. don't do this. and let's just all pretend we don't see that my corner block shifted and isn't perfectly lined up with the other corner, okay? who needs accuracy, anyway?

by placing the yellow cutting guide mark to the left of the seam, you've now got a scant 1/4" seam allowance, which means you have given yourself just a bit more fabric for when you sew the next two corners on. this seemed to help with my accuracy.

as for tips for the puss in the corner block, you're on your own. i haven't done it yet. also, anyone know where that name came from? i just don't get it but i'm sure there's a fascinating story behind it.

if you have any tips at all for either of these blocks, please share in the comments!

for participants who did complete your blocks for september, please join the link up to enter for the $25 fat quarter shop gift card giveaway.

Monday, September 29, 2014

girls weekend quilt

 this year for my family's annual girls weekend, i volunteered to spearhead a humanitarian project for the ladies. there were several ideas running through my head, but the easiest idea won out for me: make super-simple quilts for project linus. i culled a pile of of fat quarters from my stash for 4sq blankets and brought along my box of lime/aqua/black&white fabrics i ordered months ago so we could all work on one quilt together. then i loaded half my suburban with the required gear to work on said quilts. and my son opened the back window and my little brother machine fell out. and we had so many great things going at girls weekend that we never really did much sewing at all. isn't that just how it goes sometimes?

however, on sunday afternoon, the final hour of our event, two of my seesters and some of the middle girls made four patch blocks for the quilt. the blocks are composes of 5" squares and i plan to alternate the blocks with 9.5" squares for an easy top. since we currently only have 6 completed blocks, this weekend the girls will be getting together again while the men attend the priesthood session of general conference and everyone should get a chance to sew their block at that time. all those fat quarters for 4sq blankets will just get tucked away for another day. maybe even next year's girls weekend. at least i now have a plan for all those fat quarters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

when life's too crazy for quilting

antique victorian "crazy quilt"
y'all, i've been frantically trying to live my actual real life the last few weeks, which has left zero time for quilting of any kind, other than a brief stop-in at rachel's angled class every few days to dream and sigh over what i would like to do when i have the time someday. like in about 15 years when i have no more children at home. the fact is, i signed up for 7 children and homeschooling all on my own crazy initiative. really, that requires a certain amount of gutsy insanity, and some focus and commitment as well. no matter how many cool quilting ideas i get or how many wips i have in progress, i have responsibilities that have much farther reaching. longer-lasting effects than my quilting does. so i've sewn a total of three straight lines in the last two weeks. 

just last night while my husband and i were pillow-talking about all the things i can't get done and what maybe needed to be cut out, i declared i hadn't even been doing the "fluff" or "me" stuff since we got home from our summer road trip and i still feel like i'm drinking my life from a firehose, unable to get even the massive list of essentials done. he congratulated me on that and encouraged me to think carefully about my priorities and schedule. and ironically, here i am blogging today.

i have nothing new to share, not even some more straight lines of quilting. but this afternoon i just needed to connect to the blogosphere in some way. i've been wanting to talk about how i finally managed to fabric fast for several months on end (no purchases since april! four straight months!) after my repeated failed attempts (bad february, iffy march and april), but i have no photos to show of something i didn't do. 

so i dug out the few quilting photos i took on our vacation. they aren't of my work, but rather of some cool vintage quilts i stumbled across in a museum on a spontaneous stop in a little backwoods town. seeing as how we visited several historic sites, including colonial williamsburg, washington, dc, and mount vernon, i was puzzled at the lack of quilts i came across. perhaps i just didn't get to the right exhibits. however, a few weeks into our trip we were driving from atlanta, ga to seaside, fl and found ourselves passing through the quaintest, most picturesque small town of eufaula, al. the main street was divided by a large, verdant median, and both sides of the avenue were lined with a completely charming mix of cottages and antebellum mansions. after driving the street a bit i declared we needed a break from the car so we got out and walked.

 please excuse our rough travel appearances as we'd been on the road several hours already and were more concerned with comfort than style or grooming. carseat hair is just about as bad as bedhead.

 this lovely home turned out to be museum, which we decided to tour on the spot. it was a treasure trove of period furniture, clothing, and artifacts, maintained by the sweetest souther docents you ever met. they welcomed my rumpled children with open arms and honeyed southern accents of the most genteel nature.

 bless my little ones, they were enraptured and photographed nearly every inch of the mansion. i handed over my phone and let them go at it. i want to raise photographers as well as quilters and bibliophiles.

 upstairs in a bedroom i found my only encounter with quilts, fabric, or quilting the entire trip. unfortunately, the lighting was very low to protect the antiques, which made for poor photographic conditions. nevertheless, we were allowed to roam through everything at will rather than just view from behind ropes or glass, which makes for such a different experience.

 i love star quilts and this one was no exception. i think the crosshatched box quilting is particularly charming.

 another star quilt, part of a trousseau, was also on display. it's soft, somewhat earthy muted tan and sage color palette was lovely.

the crazy quilt laid out on the bed was a sight to behold. so many fascinating little bits stitched together and embellished with intricate needlework of every sort. as i child, i always thought crazy quilts were just too crazy and chaotic, but looking at this one up close, i can understand the appeal.

that's all i have to share for now; memories from my summer vacation. i hope that another week or two will resolve the pace i'm functioning at right now. getting back into our home life and launching another homeschool year for 6 children has been no small feat. in fact, i feel so busy that i keep wondering if there is a newborn in the house since i find myself with little time to even brush my own teeth! (no newborn, but a potty training 2 yr old demands a large share of attention.) when the dust settles, we'll see if i can get some more lines quilted or a top perhaps finished for that tutorial i was working on. but not while my babies need me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

line upon line

home at last and got to turn on juki come friday night. i was deligthed to see she's still alive and kickin' after the long slumber. what with trying to recover and catch up from the travels, i didn't get any friday morning quilting time in. maybe next week. but i did settle down to some stitching for friday night sew along on instagram. i have quite a few projects on the cusp of being finished, so it was hard to pick. however, i settled on s2's last-christmas quilt, which is in the "needs quilting" que. you can see i managed all of three lines of stitching.

i'm going for randomly spaced straight line stitching for this quilt. also, using two or three colors. goodness, i forgot how hard it is to stitch a straight line! it's even harder when you are interrupted every 3 to 5 minutes by children who need something only you can get, the doorbell, and the telephone. i was on and off the machine for over two hours. by the looks of my output, i'd say i was more off than on. but it was a start.

little quilting chores make for big quilting finishes, right?

perhaps this week i'll get another few inches along.
if the doorbell and telephone stopping ringing.

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced