Monday, February 13, 2017

365 Challenge -- Weeks 4, 5 and 6

Maine has been getting hammered for the last 24 hours by a huge storm system, a nor'easter, that moved in yesterday afternoon. The first prediction I saw was for 20"-26", but they walked that back as time went on. I think we've probably gotten 12"-14" of snow. It is brighter now outside, so the storm is winding down, but it is still very windy. Even the plows had to stop because of blizzard-like conditions.

Between the Farm Girl Vintage blocks, which are not quick blocks to make, and the 365 Challenge blocks, which are getting more complicated, I'm beginning to find that I don't have time to work on much else. That's a little frustrating. Maybe I need to do less housework.

Nevertheless, here are my 365 Challenge blocks for weeks 4, 5 and 6. There is a block missing from each week--blocks that have lots of very small pieces. The block in week 6 with the pale blue star has 36 pieces in a 3" block. One of the three I haven't made yet has 42 pieces. Can't help but think that anyone who tackles this quilt is a little bit nuts.

So now, we've covered half square triangle units and quarter square triangles. Today begins a series of blocks with diagonals. We're getting the full workout.

Knitting continues. The Imagine When shawlette was finished and blocked.

Next up, another ufo called Harlequin Baby, an entrelac project. Entrelac is fun, but it can be a little tricky to get started if you haven't done it before. I learned it a while ago, but Gwen Bortner has a good class on entrelac on Craftsy. I absolutely love Craftsy; and if you wait for one of their frequent sales, you can buy classes very reasonably. Way less than some of the other online universities.

Not crazy about this yarn though. It's a bulky weight (so my blanket will knit up faster) called Maypole by Euro Baby. The long colorway is fun for entrelac, but I don't care for the crinkly texture so much, and it seems to fuzz while I'm working with it. My other issue is that the pile of yarn on the left was wound around the main ball and not attached. There are a number of places where yarn ends are tied together in a knot, which I hate. The yarn shop where I bought it has since gone out of business. What's worse, I bought several other balls in a different colorway. I think this is a make-it-work moment.

My happy picture today!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Farm Girl Vintage Friday Weeks 10 and 11. . . And A Finish

With these daily and weekly blocks, miss a day and you're way behind before you know it. Today ends Week 11 of my personal Farm Girl Vintage Quiltalong, and the blocks from the last two weeks are all done now. I'm not really fond of gingham, but I did really like the Gingham block from last week, it makes me smile.

I also finished a small Bricks quilt (pattern by Tracy Kincheloe) for my granddaughter on the last day of January (had to get a finish in for the month!). It's freshly washed and all crinkled up nice and soft. We were hoping to have her up this weekend, but we just had a big nor'easter come through Maine yesterday, and there is more snow predicted over the weekend. Don't want to take her on the highway in snow and bitter cold, so we'll have to wait.

The pantograph I used reminded me of a four leaf clover with hearts inside the leaves. I sorta figured that, with the way our world is going today, our grandkids will need all the luck and love they can get. The pantograph is from Willow Leaf Studios and is called Hearts, Etc from Lisa Thiessen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Machine Applique Monday

I have three sewing stations set up in my basement sewing room; and yes, it's nice to have the space to do this. I like being able to set up three different projects and not have to keep picking them up to work on something different. My primary station is where my Janome 6500 is--love that machine.

Another station has my Bernina 200E set up, and that is the machine I primarily use for machine embroidery and machine applique. In my humble opinion, Bernina has the perfect buttonhole stitch, and I use it exclusively for machine applique.

Last week I finished buttonhole stitching another project that will be a Christmas gift so can't speak of it. The newest one is a small Lori Smith quilt with 6 applique blocks. Although I can needle turn applique pretty well, I prefer the machine work because it's faster. Besides, if it's good enough for Pat Holly and Sue Nichols (and they're award winners), it's good enough for me.

Anyway, I've just got started on this, so I'll be a while on this one. I can't hunch over the machine for too many hours without discomfort in my back and shoulders, so I just work on it for a few hours on Mondays.

The last station in my sewing room is for my Singer 301. It was my mother's only sewing machine, and I learned to sew on it when I was 15. I was delighted to have it after she passed away. It hadn't been used for years, so I found a gentleman in Nobleboro who works on vintage machines. He took it apart, cleaned and oiled it, and rebuilt the motor for me for a very reasonable price; and now it runs like a top.

The Singer 301 is a slant shank machine, so I bought a generic 1/4" foot for it. Still can't get an accurate quarter inch seam allowance with it, so it has been relegated to paper piecing. This is the machine I used for the Honeycomb quilt. The top is now complete, just have to figure out what I want to do for the quilting. This little quilt finishes to 12" x 14".

Since I've been on a tear for months in the sewing room, not much knitting has got done; but I'm nearing the end of my Imagine When shawlette by Joji Locatelli. The construction is accomplished with short rows, using wrapped stitches. And you don't have to pick up the wraps, so it's really easy. The yarn is a wool-silk blend called Amitola from Lousia Harding--love the long colorway.

It sleeted most of the day yesterday, which is okay because sleet doesn't stick to the trees, meaning no down power lines. I'm sure the roads were slick, but they're really good about plowing and salting the roads up here. Then it warmed up and rained, probably a good part of the night and all morning today. Late in the afternoon, we're finally seeing a little sun peaking out.

365 Challenge Week 3

I should have gotten this post up Monday but was too busy sewing. Although last week's blocks were pretty easy, the pieces are getting smaller. Kathryn promises nothing smaller than 1/2" finished, and one of these blocks had squares that finish at 1/2".

I think Kathryn intends for the sampler to be something of a learning experience as well, as there are quite a few tutorials on her website. Half square triangles were introduced last week, and they were easy enough to do. I am not enthused about making half square triangle units that finish at 1/2", but I have a feeling they're coming, lol.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Honeycomb is another one of the little kits I picked up at quilt show last year, along with the True Blue quilt I had on the blog a couple of posts ago. It's another pattern with fabrics by Kim Diehl. Her method of construction for this quilt was to sew background squares together, then applique the hexagons onto the background, maybe so the background diamonds would appear unbroken.

I decided that method was not for me, so I drafted a paper piecing pattern and have been making them that way. Row 1 is a little off, so I am restitching it, and there's one more row to be added to the quilt, plus borders.

I worked on the quilt today and before this, on Friday evening. Coincidentally, on Saturday I happened to be cruising Wanda's Exuberant Color blog and saw a spiral baby quilt she just finished that she referred to in an earlier post as Fractured blocks. Her quilt was based on a quilt from Kathy Doughty's book, Making Quilts With Kathy Doughty.

I like Wanda's quilt very much, and while I was contemplating how I might draft the block for it, I realized the paper piecing pattern from Honeycomb would work just fine, minus a couple of extra seam lines. Love it when an idea comes together.

The Honeycomb blocks are 2" finished, so I kept that same size for the units in the Fractured blocks. This is one block, 6", and I want to make a 9- or 12-block quilt. I did order Kathy Doughty's book because there were other quilts in the book I liked, and I'll wait until the book arrives before I make any more Fractured blocks. Some of the units are mirror imaged, and I want to see exactly what Kathy's instructions are for making the block sets.

It was in the 40s over the weekend, and I was thankful that nearly all of the ice on the walkway and driveway melted. That would be just in time for a winter storm watch Monday night into Tuesday. Could be snow, sleet, or freezing rain. Great.

Friday, January 20, 2017

365 Challenge

The other project I've been very preoccupied with this month is the 365 Challenge quilt. It is billed by designer Kathryn Kerr as the ultimate sampler quilt. Make a block every day for a year, and you'll have this amazing 90" square quilt. Kathryn published one block a day for all of 2016, and she is repeating the Challenge again this year.

Like so many other things, I learned about the Challenge from someone else's blog and started to work on it last January. I decided to stick with Kathryn's original color plan, blue and brown; but after I finished two weeks worth of blocks, I decided I didn't like my fabrics and, you guessed it, threw it in the closet.

Kathryn has a new Gallery on her website with several finished quilts. They're fabulous, and I was inspired to give it another try. I switched out the background fabrics I used last year for a single dark dark background, and I also eliminated the greenish blues I used in some of the blocks. I am also introducing more browns, and I like them much better now. We'll see how far I get this time.

This is the first week's worth of blocks, Jan 1 - Jan 8. January 1 fell on a Sunday, and I usually consider Mondays to be the beginning of my week, so there are eight blocks from week 1.

The dark borders are mostly 3" blocks, with just a very few 6" blocks. By the second week, there are starting to be some smaller pieces. Kathryn promises there are no pieces that finish smaller than 1/2". It's definitely a challenge working with such small pieces, but the real challenge, I think, is making a block every day for a year...

Two tools have proved to be very useful with these small blocks. One is the Strip Stick. Available in several different lengths, the Strip Stick has a piece of wood or something hard inside which helps make for a very flat seam when you iron on it. I've been using the 9" Stick for my 3" blocks.

The Stick is also rounded on one side, which makes it very easy to sort of isolate a particular seam for pressing, particularly useful with a 3" block.

The other tool that has really been helpful is what I know to be referred to as a tailor's clapper. I've had mine for years and originally used it in garment sewing. I use it now to set on top of a unit or block I've just pressed. The wood draws the moisture out of the fabric and makes for a nice flat, crisp seam.

I got the idea to use the clapper from a local Studio 180 (Deb Tucker's Hunter Star company) instructor who was doing a presentation for a quilt group. She had one and was selling them, and I thought it was a brilliant way to use it. The clapper she had didn't look like mine. The top part with the points was missing, there was just the bottom part. Nancy's Notions has one for 20 bucks, but you might be able to find one for less somewhere else.

Monday I'll have another set of seven blocks done.

Farm Girl Friday

I first became aware of the Farm Girl Vintage quilt at our quilt show last October. One of our chapter members completed one and entered it in the show, and I liked it soon as I saw it. I bought the book and soon after found Lori's website and a FGV Quiltalong she did in 2015. Her quiltalong consisted of a weekly Friday post about two of the blocks in the quilt, an occasional construction tip, and sometimes one or more alternate projects, like smaller quilts, pillows, aprons, and so on.

For the last two months, I've been sharing the links with our chapter members and working on the blocks. So far I've finished 15/48 blocks and 39/106 flying geese for one of the borders. Some of the blocks are pretty easy, some are more challenging. I'm making the quilt with 30s repros and using as many of my scraps as I can. I've added the sashing to just the first block right now. Here are the other blocks I've made.

The Milk Cow block is not in the book, but there's a Milk Day block, so I decided I needed a cow to go with it. I purchased the pattern separately from Lori's website. Definitely a challenge but worth the effort. Very cute!

We had Baby Girl last weekend for three delightful days. She's seven months old now and such a good baby, always smiling.