Monday, January 30, 2017

The insanity continues

Little hexies are powerfully addictive.

My challenges thus far:

  1. Printing on dark fabrics. Using a fine white mechanical pencil instead of printing.
  2. Eyestrain!  Have to break up the stitching with long focus intervals. I am doing better at my worktable in the quiltorium with an ott light. My easy chair in front of the TV has reverted to crochet project station.
  3. Thread colors. Found some aurifil 50 that I'd forgotten I had, but I only have a bright blue and no purple. So I ordered a medium gray spool which should arrive this week. 

I spent some time trying to wrestle with my big bucket o scraps:

And was able to get half the neutral 1.5" squares I need for an upcoming small project by trimming stuff from this bucket.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Oh my!

Can't wait to make some flowers out of this print...

Here's what I have so far. Will be stitching away the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Hard to see on that dark fabric, although it looked ok when I printed it. I added some corner dots with my white finepoint mechanical pencil after I cut them. That's the darkest purple I will use in the piece I've already sewn. I hope for clearer lines on the lighter purple that the pieces are resting on in this photo.

A Day for Regrouping

No major sewing done today in the quiltorium, but I accomplished some organizational tasks:

1. Put away the extra bits from En Provence in the orphan block box.
2. Trimmed the bonus triangles from En Provence and put them in the bonus triangle box.
3. Trimmed a small bin of scraps on the worktable into usable strips and squares.
4. Trimmed all the Inklingo hexies I had printed and organized two project-to-go- boxes for:
        Dear Jane Triangles that need to be appliqued
        My inklingo hexie project (used Linda's Hexie Design book to print out a worksheet and made this layout with my colored pencils)

5. moved all the odd triangular projects from my worktable to the Wild and Goosey box (which is very full)
6. Pulled out the strips I want to use in my next piecing project, Berry Bushel Blocks for some new placemats.

Notice that my afternoon did not include pin basting any quilt tops which is what I really should be doing. Three good sized tops in the queue at present.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hand or Machine Piecing?

For my first Inklingo adventure, I chose to machine piece one block and hand piece another one from the same pattern.
On the left is the machine pieced block, on the right is the hand pieced block. Here are my thoughts:

The machine pieced block went faster, of course, but it has so much thread to clip on the back that it's a mess. The center looks reasonably well put together and it is nice and flat. Some of the corner squares seem a little off to me and that block is not quite square. It looks like the seam allowances are generous so that I won't eat any of the star points when sashing it or sewing it to another block.

The hand pieced block was harder for me because I am way out of practice at hand piecing. It was made even harder by the lines on the red fabric being too faint, except at the corners. I feel a bit of eyestrain after my stitching session. However, as I experimented with my printer yesterday, I realized I can do better on medium/dark fabrics by using photo quality. I bet that is in Linda's notes somewhere, but I hadn't internalized that knowledge yet. (So much to learn!) The center isn't really that much better than the other block, which surprised me. Maybe because I didn't even finger press the two halves before stitching them. The back of this block is much neater, and there are no thread tails left to worry about. It is more square than the machine block.

Bottom line is this: I think I can improve at both methods of piecing with inklingo, getting better at all the y-seams. With better marking on the dark fabrics, I am sure the hand piecing will be much faster.

At any rate, I now have two little blocks to make into some small holiday items.

Next on to hexie piecing. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Gearing up for a new hexie project

Hydrangea and rhododendron colors, let's say....probably a wreath.

Inklingo'd some small swatches after guessing at what ink color to use.  Now I can start piecing and print some larger pages tomorrow. 

Also finished a small old handquilting project...tabletopper or doll quilt out of thirties and feedsack squares. Not pleased with it enough to pop a photo here, but it's done and off the UFO list.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A new Year, a new technique

Among my sad, hidden UFOs is a hand piecing adventure from way back called Quilted Diamonds. It's a lovely quilt by Linda Franz, with whom I first became familiar while gung-ho on another sad, hidden UFO called Dear Jane.

Linda is a very precise hand piecer, and now that I am blessed with more free time for stitching, it beckons me to return.  I knew that Linda developed a well-thought out and well-documented method for ink jet printing on fabric, called inklingo, but it was another thing I just didn't have time to get my head around. I decided to explore it a few days ago, and downloaded her freebies and ordered a few sets of patterns and her complete inklingo handbook.

Today, I finally had time to give it a try. It's easy as can be to print the cutting lines and sewing dashed lines and match points on freezer-paper stabilized fabric.  The hardest part is getting to know your how your printer handles custom paper sizes.

Linda is very generous: when my Handbook arrived, she included one sheet of printed shapes. I would only need to complete the ink tests and print another sheet of the same shapes, and that was enough to make my first blocks.  She has been following up by email to gently encourage me.  I machine pieced my first block, but I think it would have actually been faster and crisper to do it by hand! It has a decent center, and lays nice and flat. I think I must have gone off the lines on the corners, but all in all, it turned out pretty well.

I have the pieces ready for the second block, which is the same fabric with the colors inverted. I will eventually hand piece that.

Next, I will try this as an alternative to paper piecing. I have a spring hydrangea wreath I want to make with small hexies, but it would be a lot faster to do it without the basting to paper step. Inklingo will let me do that!  I am also smitten by the passacaglia and patchwork of the crosses patterns.

But I have to get these older UFO's done!

But, I got distracted by Dear Jane, and spent a little time understanding where I stopped. The center square blocks are all done - sashed-assembled. It was those pesky triangles and corners that got me stalled out.  I actually have half the triangles done!  I am not using all of Jane's patterns: some of my blocks are little applique adventures.

So, I want to use the Dear Jane blocks as my handwork for a while. Not sure what machine piecing I will have coming up next, but it's likely to be small stuff.  Too many large quilt tops (3) need to be basted and quilted and my shoulder is not up to it yet.

Stumbling off the Jetway in Provence

I had a bee in my bonnet and finished piecing Friday morning.  Pressed my favorite quilt holder into assisting me with a photo.

So excited!

I uploaded it on facebook, then noticed the cute little cat ears on the bottom row. Haste makes waste!
I was very annoyed and didn't fix it til this morning. I don't know why I waited because it only took me less than 15 minutes to frog and restitch.

I have this reaction all the time. I get frustrated and walk away for too long. I really could have fixed it last night, but just wanted to stew and be mad at myself.  Does anyone else have this annoying quilting behavior?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Interim Milestone: Purple Blocks done!

Oops, sorry for slipping back into pre-retirement jargon. Project plans, interim milestones: just a bad memory for me now.

My purple blocks are done. I am going to partially sash each one before assembly so I don't have to wrangle too many long seams. I will be making something with 9 purple blocks.

Will be on the road tomorrow, hope to make more progress on Thursday.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Slow and Steady Slogging to Provence

Those of you already sleeping under En Provence, I salute you!

Even though my oversized wall hanging only has 9 of the big purple/yellow/green/neutral blocks, it is very slow going in the quiltorium.

My challenges have included:

  • Miscounting how many QSTs I needed.
  • Thinking that I miscounted my HSTs, and making more only to realize I had some up on the design wall.
  • Sewing for a while with no thread in the bobbin
  • Orienting my purple four patches wrong during assembly
  • The usual difficulty getting crisp points in blocks wiht HSTs, QSTs, and those dreaded Y-blocks. I am not loving the Y-blocks
I have had a few moments like this:

I couldn't resist putting one block together all the way.  Can you spot the mistake in the lower partial block in the following photo? I made that mistake twice. 

To cope with these challenges and minimize disasters, I am doing the following:
  • Checking and trimming every 3.5" unit before sewing
  • Keeping a printout of the design handy at all times
  • Pressing thoughtfully so seams nest
  • Pinning the match points where points must meet
  • Proceeding for the most part in sets of nine to assemble the five strips that I need to make each big block. 
  • Carefully laying all the pieces to be sewn in piles next to my machine so that everything is oriented properly.
  • Walking away to do something else when I am too frustrated.
I think it will go a little faster, and easier, when I get these big blocks done. I am eager to move on to other projects soon.....

How's it going with your mystery quilt?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

And sew it begins!

I finished making all my 3" parts of my en provence quilt yesterday. I saved the easiest for last. I needed 41 more neutral four patches to make my roughly half sized version. Actually it will be pretty big, but I think I have wallspace for it.

I am ready to assemble.

But I got Clyded. I think he needs some play time because we left the cats for a few hours while running errands. That face, irresistible.

Actually, I want to finish this wallhanging up today, so I might not actually start assembly until Thursday, Wednesday being my local quilters' weekly hang out day at a rec center a few towns over.

For once, I am pretty pleased with my machine quilting. Sorry I didn't have time to crop it. I promise to take a good picture with a real camera, when it's done.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


The day started out well. Deer trotting through the yard, always a welcome sight.  A bit of a mystery when we discovered one of our electrical circuits had tripped for no apparent reason. More on that later.....Went for a walk before the snow started. It was chilly so I headed home before the halfway point on our usual route.

Went home and turned on the foyer light, and it made a popping sound. I then smelled that funny electrical melty smell.  I put my boots back on, grabbed my keys, and hopped in the car to intercept my husband, hoping I could figure out where he would pop out onto the road from the trail. We raced home and he took the fixture out and noticed a burned out socket. Whew! No traces of a fire in the wires. Could have been a lot worse. Funny thing is, we have replaced most of the ceiling fixtures with new LED ones. It was only a few days ago that I remarked, "We should really replace that ugly light by the front door."

Anyway, after that, my goal for the day was to finish the final En Provence clue (yellow hourglass blocks).

and make all the additional blocks I had calculated that I needed for the other clues. I almost made it, but my somewhat frozen right shoulder has decided it does not want to rotary cut anymore today. I hope I can finish tomorrow. I just have the extra light four patches left to make and square up.

Everything else is all ready to go into assembly mode next week.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Cheat Sheet

I was determined to finish trimming my lavender hourglass blocks this morning, so armed with vapo-rub under my nose and Sucrets in my mouth, I went to my worktable to square them up.

Problem: Clyde seems to find the scent of Eucalyptus alluring, so he kept jumping up on the table and getting in my way. He was banished. I finished trimming.

Except I was one short.  Maybe I was feverish yesterday?

I decided that I needed a cheat sheet to inventory how many I needed of each unit and how many I had. I cut and pieced my target design from the Clue 7 pdf and these are the numbers I think I need. I decided this was the smallest size wallhanging I would like to make that kept the original design elements. Although you could do a smaller one with nine of the magenta blocks and four of the green/yellow ones. But that might have given me a lot of leftover units. So here is my plan.

Hopefully, my numbers are right, or at least close enough!  Let me know if you spot any errors.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Slowed by a Winter Headcold!

Ugh!  Came down with a winter cold. Hoping it will pass quickly. I managed to get some writing work done on a client order today, after a walk, shopping and making some butternut squash soup with a ton of fresh ginger in it.  I could breathe freely for a while after all the ginger. Good thing I love the taste of it.

I have started my blocks, but need to cut more strips. I also figured I need lots more of all the past clues, so I'd better get going.  Many of my greens are of the blue/green sort, so I've been digging for more of the yellower mossy greens. I found some additional lavender yardage too. Just need to cut more strips.

Tomorrow, writing deadline with a chance of snow. No errands. Hope for some extra stitching time.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Hey, Wait Up!

That's me calling out to the rest of the  En Provence Mystery Quilters, some of whom have already pieced the full sized top.  Life got in the way of my quilty time, but that's a-ok.

Had to convert the room over from sewing to guest quarters. In the process I got a reasonably good picture of my first Bonnie Hunter scrappy quilt: Star Struck.

Judicious use of a brighter constant color really helps when trying to use up the older stash, with its murky prints.

It was a quiet New Year's weekend here.  I managed to get the winter sampler sandwiched and ready to quilt.

Here's how we party on New Year's Eve - total snoozefest. Clyde had just popped up from a nap for a short bout of grooming and a quick scan for any food related action.

New Year's Day was what used to be called in some colleges a "Reading Day"
Me and Clyde and a Kindle.

I hadn't realized that with my Amazon Prime, I get to choose a free pre-release book each month. They call it Kindle First.  I finished last month's selection: Sisters One Two Three, and started this month's longer historic novel Palm Trees In the Snow.

Monday was a family get-together for my mom's birthday. Today has been a catching up day, but I did finally start cutting for Clue 6. Even my recently organized strip bins did not yield enough greens, so I had to dig into yardage. I also have to figure out what I did with the most recent lavendar FQ I bought a few weeks ago.  Anyway, I will try to get caught up this week. It's not a race, I won't stress.