Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sedona Star Update

Sedona Star is next in the line-up. Last time I worked on it, I over cut and made extra pieces. Oh well.

This time up, I faced the somewhat daunting task on insetting 9 sets of stars within squares into the earlier star I had completed. 

I was expecting difficulties. But I was pleasantly surprised and it wasn't as difficult as I had expected. Y seams can be tricky - you have to stay out of the seam allowance. No sweat there. 

The problem was that when I trimmed up the blocks from the previous step, it was obvious that the paper foundation was drawn in and I couldn't use the printed seam allowance.   There were a few nips and tucks, but the iron took care of that. It even seems to be laying somewhat flat!

My plan is to prepare the next set of blocks - print the instructions and templates, get the fabric ready, and stow them away until next time in the rotation. This was a quick turn-around, but it felt like a good stopping point.

Keeping it challenging!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Next Up - Tula Pink's 100 Modern Quilt Blocks

Next up in my rotation is Tula Pink's 100 Modern Quilt Blocks. I almost feel like I should be done with this one because our KVQG group decided to make one in black and white for the guild's opportunity quilt (raffle). I just got done (with help) putting frames around the blocks, putting the blocks together in rows and adding sashing and borders. But that was THAT one, and now I am working on THIS one.

I posted about my progress (or lack thereof) earlier and now that TP is in my rotation, I expect that I'll make better progress. My goal this rotation is to have 1-25 blocks done.  So . . 7 blocks this time up.

I'm using PB&J fabric - which I love - and a few other fillers thrown in. I'm cutting the fabric for several blocks at one time and then storing them in snack baggies. When I head to the sewing machine I can knock out a bunch at one time. 

So, here is what I accomplished this rotation:  3 blocks sewn and 5 more blocks cut. Didn't make my goal of completing 1-25, but still made good progress.

Happy Tula!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Zen Garden Quilt

I am in the process of making quilts for each of the kids. Amy got her "Chocolate" quilt a few years ago. I have custody of Jim's "Tumbling Out of the Jungle" quilt. AJ, who said "no thankyou", got a simple flannel quilt made of 5 inch squares. I am hoping to do a Star Wars quilt for him in the future. Dan is patiently waiting for his lime green spiral quilt - he may even change his mind before I get started. And I am closing in on finishing Lynne's quilt - Zen Garden. ZG is the second quilt in my rotation. Check this out if you want more info on my rotation system.  

I saw a Garden Path wall hanging in Quilter's Haven in Olathe and fell in love with it. A little research led me to Kitty Pippen's book, Quilting with Japanese Fabrics

I asked Lynne what kind of quilt she wanted and recommended she look through my books. One of the quilts she liked was Kitty's Japanese Garden Path quilt. That was a no-brainer for me - I knew which quilt to make for Lynne!

And I knew which fabrics I had to use. Quilter's Haven has a wide variety of Daiwabo Japanese Taupes, so I started stocking up.  Lynne said she likes green and reds, so I decided to do the path in dusty greens, ranging from light to dark. The cherry blossoms in dusty pink. Kitty's quilt had 2 antique kimono panels, so I added in a pair of appliqued storks.

Zen Garden enabled me to do a lot of firsts - using Daiwabo Taupes, designing a quilt from a picture, using Sashiko stitching, and most exciting for me was using paper pieced hexagons. I've posted some about English Paper Piecing. I love it - and the 1/2 inch hexies in Zen Garden was the first time I got to make them. And an obsession was born!

Kitty very effectively used Sashiko stitches to suggest a brook running through her Japanese Garden.  What the heck is Sashiko? Sashiko is a traditional Japanese stitching - usually white on indigo.

 However, I will be doing it the easy way - using the Babylock Sashiko machine. 

I started searching for some motif to replace the kimono panels. I considered Japanese family crest motifs, stylized flowers, and kimono motifs. I finally found the stork applique and amazingly it looked just like the storks in a gorgeous painting we have and that hung in the living room in the home that Lynne grew up in. I hope she will recognize and appreciate the likeness. 

So, at this point, I am finishing up the remaining cherry blossoms, marking and stitching the Sashiko stitches, and thinking about an appropriate quilting design. 

Hopefully Lynne's Zen Garden quilt will be done by Christmas. I think it should given my rotation system. It should be done after a couple more rotations.

Curious about Daiwabo Taupe Fabrics and Sashiko? Try it, you'll like it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thanks Shari for Sharing Your Rotational System With Me!

This post addresses organization, AGAIN! It's just one of those things for me - I love hearing about new ways to stay organized and on task in the studio.

So I was dealing with the challenge of having tooooo many quilts to work on and not having the focus to work on anything. Every time I went down to my studio, all my WIP were calling my name . . . "Denise, choose me!, No, you want to work on me! Over here, I'm over here!" As a result of all the cacophony, I wasn't working on anything at all.

My friend Shari told me about her system of rotation through 8 quilts a month. Some of her quilts were BOM, others were quilts she had started and wanted to finish. She decided to work on each quilt for 3 days and then put it away and work on the next one.

This automatically resonated with me because I love working on multiple quilts at once. My trouble is that I had too many. So I started with 5 quilts to work on, then added 3 more, took out 1 and added 2 others. So now I have 9 projects that I am cycling though.

I have been working on each one for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. I work until I have a sense of completion or burnout. Its been working great so far. I have working on all 9 quilts and after I reach completion on #9 I'll start all over again.

I am loving this! I haven't been this productive in a long time.  Here is my list:
        Asian Garden Path
        Fiesta Mexico
        Feathered Star
        Technicolor Galaxy
        Tula Pink 100 Modern Blocks
        Enchanted Forest
        Home Tweet Home
        Sedona Star

As I finish projects, I will rotate new ones in. I have lots of projects waiting in the wings!

Here's to productivity!
I'm curious, what helps you keep your productivity up?

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Results of Thinking One is Organized When One Really Isn't

I have a system - I thought it was a pretty good system. I keep projects all together in a tub. I have a list! So how did it happen that I made 1 extra month 3 circle and 1 extra month 4 circle for my Sedona Star quilt?

This is really frustrating. I bought the fabric years ago and probably can't get any more. Now I'm not sure if I'll have enough. Argh!

I know I have counted each of these multiple times. There are only 3 of each of 3 circles - so 9 in total, How did I miss this? I must be getting older and more flustered. 

OK, so I just need to slow down, measure twice, count twice, no maybe 3 times, and pay close attention.

The circles were pretty easy, but the challenge is insetting the circles into squares. The first 3 went really smoothly, the second set of 3 were a bear - they just didn't fit well. The inside of the circle was wavy. I spent a lot of time trying to take up extra bulk, redid the seams, pressed until I thought I would burn a hole in the piece. So now I'm kind of procrastinating on the last set of 3.

This quilt has been a challenge in accuracy. Between making sure the paper piecing templates are printed out with the correct scaling (none), gluing them together accurately, sewing accurate seam allowances, and sewing circular inset seams. It is surely the most difficult quilt I've ever done. But I am really learning a lot!

After I finish insetting 3 more circles, I'll have the pleasure of 9 sets of Y seams. Oh Joy! Another challenge that hopefully I'll meet with accuracy and without waviness.

Here's to challenges!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sisters - Shopping, Classes, and Quilts Galore: The Ultimate Quilting Experience

I am still in overwhelm mode. It was AWESOME!

I just got back from 10 days of everything quilt related in Sisters Oregon - the 40th Anniversary of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and Quilter's Affair.

I flew into Seattle and BFF Bobbie and I packed up her car (full!) and headed south to Sisters. Of course we had to stop at a few fantastic quilt shops along the way to collect the Row By Row patterns and buy a scrap or two of fabric. I started collecting gray fat quarters for a new quilt called Gray Matter.

The scenery on the trip was breathtaking - especially as we crossed Mount Hood National Forest.  The air smelled fresh and clean - like the pine trees that lined the mountain roads.

Our condo was at Eagle Crest Resort near Redmon Oregon. This 2 bedroom unit would give the four of us plenty of room to sleep, eat and sew during the week. Deer wandered in and out of sight of our back deck and the hot tub was heavenly.

The 3 classes I took were outstanding. I learned so much from talented teachers Barbara Shapel, Tula Pink, and Hilde Morin. More detail about my classes in a later post.

The piece de resistance of the week was the outdoor quilt show on Saturday. The town of Sisters is festooned with quilts - every building, porch, store front, as well as the inside of stores were covered with quilts. I've never seen so many quilts hanging in one place. More to come.

In addition to all the great quilty stuff, The four of us  - Bobbie, Cyndy, Sammie and I, had a great time together. Laughing, talking, sewing, snacking, shopping - we had so much fun. 

Stay tuned for details!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What Do You Do When You Get Stuck?

I'm feeling stuck - paralyzed. I go down to my sewing room and scores of projects call to me, but I just don't feel like working on any of them. I don't really even feel like starting a new one. Maybe I'm sick or depressed. Or maybe I need a break. Or maybe I need a nudge.

I've always been a bit of a procrastinator, but not usually in quilting. Quilting is fun, it's interesting, it's challenging. There is usually no pressure - except from myself. So why am I feeling stuck now?

I usually have a few little tricks to get me going. Tricks like prepping the night before, prioritizing about 10 or so projects to work on first, looking at Pinterest to get inspired. I also sometimes use an accountability buddy - decide what to do and tell my AB what I'm going to do and then let her know when I'm done.

Maybe I should try a new trick - put the names of all my projects in a jar and work on the one I pull out of the jar. That actually sounds kind of fun.

I could also tidy up some. I've been working on a very detailed applique pattern and I have scraps of fabric and bits of fusible all over everywhere. That doesn't sound very fun but it's probably needed.

OK, so what do you, my quilting friends do when you are stuck? Do you ride it out, or do you have a trick to get going again?
Curious about procrastination in the quilt studio.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tula Pink Update

Tula Pink is a fabric and pattern designer I have been following for a couple of years now. Her patterns have a simplistic, modern sensibility to them and I would describe her fabric as whimsical with juicy colors. When I saw her book 100 Modern Quilt Blocks, I knew I wanted to made them. Every. One. Of. Them.

So I asked members of my quilt guild - Kaw Valley Quilters' Guild - to participate in a sew along. Best thing ever! We started in January (see my earlier post from February 3, 2015) and have taken off like crazy. We just met last month and I am amazed at the beautiful blocks that people are making. So I though I would update everyone with some pictures and descriptions of ideas and tips folks have shared.

I think three of our group - Kathy, Sandy, and Barb, have all 100 blocks done. 

The rest of us are either racing or crawling along as our schedules allow. I have to admit I am one of those who are crawling. I think I only have 13 done. But I do have my stuff organized - I've made stickers for each block and have a list to keep track of all the I have finished.

Joyce is using the blocks as a background for her original applique designs. Taking her experience one step further, she made 4 of a block and sewed them together into something totally new.

Cindy is using Asian-inspired fabrics and antique kimono fabrics.

Shari is using black, white and gray fabrics.

Kim R. has focused on blue, green and red fabrics.

Joy T. is following Tula's color choices. 

It is so cool to see the blocks in such different colors and prints.

A couple of months ago, we decided to make extra black, white, and gray blocks so that we could make an opportunity quilt in the future. We are really coming along. We have 46 blocks committed to!  

It is so fun to watch everyone share their blocks and see how the same block is transformed by different fabrics. Next meeting I hope to take pics of everyone's block 1 - more if I can. 

So this week, I am going to get going on MY Tula blocks. I'll shoot for at least 8 of them.

Our little group has a FB page. Check out Kaw Valley Tula Pink 100 Modern Block Sew Along.

Staying Curious about Tula!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Foundation Paper Piecing - An Enchanted Forest by Janeen Van Niekerk

I love foundation paper piecing! It is the best way (IMHO) to get accurate points and seams especially when working with small pieces. What is it? Sometimes called sew and flip, it is the technique of sewing fabric directly onto a printed pattern and the flipping it over and sewing another piece to cover the raw edges. Usually you can just follow the lines on the printed side so it is really easy. The hardest parts are getting your fabric pieces the right size and shape to cover the shape you are working on, figuring out in which order to sew the pieces, and working upside down and backwards. For a more comprehensive description and instructions check out this YouTube tutorial from Connecting Threads.

I do foundation piecing almost exactly the way Karen (from the video) does with a few exceptions. Instead of pinning I use either a dab of glue stick or a piece of blue painters' tape. 

Additionally, instead of paper or vellum, I have recently been using a foundation product that doesn't need to be taken out - Ricky Tims' Stable Stuff Poly. I think both foundations (lightweight paper or Stable Stuff) are good it just depends on the final product. I really don't like removing papers, so this works for me. 

I'm working on a couple of foundation pieced projects at the moment. Sedona Star, a BOM from Sarah Vedeler, and Enchanted Forest, a BOW by Janeen Van Niekerk of Quilt Art Designs.  I'm loving the Enchanted Forest (I added the adjective enchanted - it fits), I keep thinking about painter Bob Ross every time I piece a little critter (remember? "its your world, you can put little squirrels and rabbits anywhere you like").

Janeen is the QUEEN of foundation piecing. She has patterns for animals, cars, dresses, traditional blocks and anything else you can think of. Check out her Pattern Shop at Craftsy. She also has BOM and Quilt Alongs on her website every year. Enchanted Forest is the Art Quilt Along for 2015. 

To make Enchanted Forest, I've needed green fabrics - lots of different greens! Lime, Avocado, Olive, Kelly, Moss, Forest, Spring, Hunter, Spruce, and Blue-Green. And lots of different prints - Solids, Tone on Tone, Textures, Dots, Stripes, Foliage, Swirls and more. It's been fun looking over the green Fat Quarters in the shops I've visited. Of course I also needed blues, reds, yellows, browns, grays, and oranges for the critters.

So, I've finished week 5 of 12 - some sky, sun, flying geese, 3 trees, 3 birds, and 1 lizard.  I hope to catch up  - Janeen has been sending out a pattern a week and I am 4 weeks behind.  

Janeen lives in Pretoria South Africa. I wonder how many people from different countries are participating in her Quilt Along.

So, if you are at all curious about foundation piecing, check out Janeen and Quilt Art Designs. They are terrific!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Quilting Habits

Well, the Kaw Valley Quilt Show is over and I feel I can take a few  deep breaths and figure out what to do now. It almost feels like one of those dates like New Years, Birthdays, First Day of Spring - you know, those days when you think about resolutions and new habits.

I have started reading a book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin; it's all about starting (good) or stopping (bad) habits. So, being the quilty person I am, I thought about quilting habits. 

I have gotten into some pretty bad habits over the last few years. Habits are bad if they cause problems and I have several bad habits in my studio. I also have found there are things I don't do (like quilt documentation - the Quilt Show really pointed that out to me when I couldn't remember who had quilted some of my earlier quilts) that would really make quilt life better if I did them.

So here is my list of Starts and Stops. Most of them are obvious to quilters.
Start . . .                                                Stop . . .
Securing starts and stops                       Snacking while quilting
Trimming threads as I go                      Buying "unallocated" fabric
Tidying at the end of each session        Leaving scraps all over         
Prepping for next session                      
Documenting my quilts
Blogging more consistently
Reading more blogs

What good habits do you have in the studio? I'd love to hear them!
Curious about habits,