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!


  1. I did much like you when I was still working, now I have a cup of coffee and do a blog post, then shower and hit the quilt room. I LOVE BEING RETIRED I'm so glad I saved my pennies instead of fabric :)

  2. What a nice way to start your day! I love these blocks you're doing. Looks like a little fun and a little challenge along the way!

    1. That's exactly right - both fun and challenging. Eventually, I'll put them away and work on something else, then take them out again. It'll get done when it's ready.