Thursday, January 25, 2018

Social Pearing

A few years back and for several years in a row, I was involved in a social sewing 'class' - more like a club - at the local quilt shop. Each year, the shop would select a new project, one that could be nurtured through the year with a variety of quilt blocks to make assigned at each meeting. 

The meetings were on Thursday evenings once a month - I think it was the second Thursday of each month, the meetings were quite fun and very social. The bulk of the meeting was dedicated to the group members sharing their progress on that year's selected project. The monthly club has ended, but some of the projects linger - in my stack of stuff to finish.

I made a few more of the Nearly Insane blocks I mentioned last week, and then decided to put those away for the time being. A little bit of head-scratching calculations can go a long way. I'll come back to the Insane blocks when I'm in the mood for more of the fussy-math-brain work.

Then I pulled out one of the projects from that monthly club I mentioned above. (Yeah, I know, it doesn't look like much, eh?)

The club project was from Farm Girl Vintage by Lori Holt. 

I have to be honest, if I weren't in the club, I'm not sure I would have been drawn to this book. The blocks are fun, scrappy, but a little too farm-y for my taste.

The club parameters were very loose, so I chose one block, and decided to make several that block.

Like lots. And lots.

I chose some batik fabrics from my stash and started cutting. I have some notes in the margin of the Pear-pattern, that I can no longer understand - I'm sure they made perfect sense at the time!

I decided on the 6" version of the Pear Block (each block in the book has a 6" and a 12" version).

And I think my goal (based on the cryptic notes on the page) involved place mats. . .That was then. This is now. 

I'm shooting to finish the blocks, and turn them into a summery table runner. . . in time for summer! (Rolling my eyes a little right there)

I'm determined to get this baby done. The pressure is on.

I've got several pears made - except for applique seeds - the yellow pears are supposed to be a pear sliced in half with the inside - and a couple seeds - exposed.

I've got lots of pieces cut (I've noticed that I have a lot more stems that pear-parts, so I'll have to figure that out some how).

And ONE lonely block complete (a block is two pears), no seeds - yet.

I'm making the pears in between the prep for the upcoming cruises, so they really aren't the main focus of my daily sewing sessions.

But the pieces are small enough to be the 'other' project that keeps the chain piecing going while I'm working on the gotta-do cruise teaching step-out samples.

I'm on a snit, and when that happens, I can get pretty focused, so let's see how long it'll take me to finish up a very 'peary' table runner! (Nyuk-nyuk!)


Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

More Insanity

To *keep* my sanity, every weekday morning I start out my day with a little sewing. I pack up Dave's lunch, send him off to work, then by 7am, I'm usually at the sewing machine to sew a few stitches. I've been doing this for as long as I've been quilting. It sets up my day, settles my mind, and gives me a moment or two to just breathe before jumping into the many tasks on my desk and at the computer.

A few months back, I mentioned that I was headed off for a little sewing retreat at my friend, Gail's camp this past summer. I was taking along a book that had nothing but 6" block piecing designs.

The blocks in the book are all pieced, and they range from really simple with just a few pieces, to really complex and odd-shaped pieces, some of them very small and fussy.

I think there are about 100 block drawings in the book, and I'm working the blocks in order. Just because.

My inspiration for this particular project is this set of Liberty prints - fat quarters and quarter-yard strips which were brought back from at trip to London, thanks to another friend, Jennifer.

They are really pretty with lots of small-scale prints. Each one stands alone, but they also work together in a scrappy sorta way.

The book, Nearly Insane, by Liz Lois, includes very little instruction. I have almost exclusively been referring to block layouts, one per page. 

As I mentioned, some blocks are pretty straightforward, others, like the one below, below have over 150 pieces.

Some of the layouts within the blocks make this tidy-butt mind a little crazy, so have been changing some of the unit arrangements - otherwise you might observe me going COMPLETELY insane! For example I rotated the outer row of HSTs on the right side of the block  shown above in my version, even though the drawing has the triangles going the opposite way. OCD sometimes kicks in. What can I say?

The way I tackle each individual blocks is much like how I would tackle an entire quilt.

First, I select a focus print from the array of Liberty prints. Then choose from a variety of solid-reading colors from a bunch of hand-dyed fabrics I've been collecting and from some scraps that I haven't cut-up for my ScrapTherapy bins yet.

And, using a ruler, I measure and I make notes for finished sizes on the pattern.

From the finished sizes I can derive what I need to cut. Now, if there are weird shapes - triangles without standard 45 degree angles, for example, I may involve some freezer paper techniques. I haven't crossed that bridge yet - I'm only as far as block #12, after all, plenty of adventure yet to come!

Once I sort through the fabric I selected - and I always pull out more colors than I need for a block - I'll cut the pieces and arrange them for sewing. Sometimes I'll take a photo like the one below to make sure I'm getting the look I want. Sometimes I just let it come together. This block is looking pretty scrappy - I might switch out some of those middle squares to calm it down a bit - or not!

The photo below is the same block. The one above is waiting to be sewn, the one below, assuming all goes well with the sewing, is the objective.

However, time's up! At 9 am, I'm ready to take a shower and switch gears to computer and desk work for the day. I'll have to carry on with the block tomorrow.

Just in case you think, I've really gone off the deep end, I've also been playing with these 3/4" finished size triangle in a square units. . . .

I'm using a miniature Blocloc tool for the cutting and trimming. Tiny pieces for sure, but it's fun! Or insane.

Maybe both!

So, I'm curious. Do you have a daily routine to work in some sewing to your busy life? Or do you just grab time to sew when you have time to sew? For me, if I don't make the time, I won't have the time. 

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Pretty Ice-y

Least week, the news was full of the 'bomb cyclone' that headed up the east coast, creating heavy snow, all kinds of travel delays, and hyper-cold temperatures.

All the initial reports said that Syracuse (my home town) would be on the very edge of the storm, with limited snowfall predicted.

All that changed on Friday afternoon. I guess the storm decided to head a bit further east. It was bad enough traveling through the weather for our Friday night plans, but once we got home, we were stuck there all day Saturday, socked in by several inches of snow and severely cold weather and wind. Our snow plow guy didn't clear the driveway until Sunday morning.

Fortunately, we were warm and safe inside with plenty to do without venturing too far away from the house.

Only a few steps outside the front door, the snow, clinging to surfaces where it doesn't usually, created chilly but beautiful textures, worthy of quilt inspiration, perhaps. A few photos follow to document the short-term wonder.

A snow seagull rests in the drifts outside my basement workroom.

Normally protected from snowfall, this wall is speckled with a random snow pattern.

Snow clinging to the woven chairs creates texture and contrast.

The snow clings like popcorn to the leeward side of the porch supports. White and all its variations.

In summertime, this is a climbing rose. For now, it waits patiently, like I do, for a change in season.

The textures were so rich, that it was difficult not to touch them. By later Saturday afternoon all these speckles and popcorn formations were gone.

Sometimes it's nice to stop and smell the roses - or the snow roses, depending on the time of year.

Have I inspired you? Makes me want to snuggle under a quilt!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

One More Gift from Me to You

What gift?, you say. I bet you thought the holidays were over! Read on!
I've been busy in the sewing room this week.

As you may be aware, the cut-off for the inaugural month of The FLOCK, the new membership pre-cut bird block kit program from the Hummingbird Highway, is January 10th. Less than one week away!

And I've been working on something special to commemorate the first kit delivery in January.

I've mentioned that, from time to time, I plan to include suggested settings for the blocks with the membership.

Well, my sewing project in the studio this week is just that. The first project suggestion for The FLOCK uses exactly two of the 8" bird blocks, plus some stash fabrics.

For my sample, I used the Gray Catbird block and the American Robin block. But you can use any two 8" square blocks, bird themed or otherwise.

I've been stitching the blocks together. . .

Adding some fun border prints. . .

Basting the layers . . .

Burying thread ends . . .

Stitching in the ditch. . .

Creating texture . . .

And creating MORE texture! . . .

And even more texture within the blocks! . . .

And finishing with some wild colors for the binding. The wild color part is up to you, and your fabric stash might have a say in that part, too.

All the while fighting an odd feeling that someone was watching me from atop my sewing machine.


This is where I show you the completed project . . .

Drum-roll, please. . . .!

Oop! I said I have been busy in the sewing studio, I didn't say I was done! *wink!*

Give me a day or two before the big reveal . . . You're gonna love it!

Did someone say Gift?

Yup! I did! The pattern for the two-block bonus project will ship with your first kit from The FLOCK - right around January 12th, a couple day's after the final cutoff for the first month's block delivery. All you have to do to get the pattern is join The FLOCK. Right now. Before the January 10th cut-off date.

Happy Stitching!