Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Old Dog, New Tricks

Have you noticed the recurrent themes in my blog posts? The list includes my love of Denyse Schmidt fabric, my fear of free-motion quilting, and my avoidance of hand sewing in all its forms.

Apparently, even old dogs—or at least middle-age ones—can learn new tricks because look what I’m working on ...

I know! EPP! I was in need of something crafty to do while watching TV with my husband or waiting around at soccer practice. That, paired with the arrival of my Glitz fabrics for the current Michael Miller challenge, compelled me to give English paper piecing a try. And you know what? I really like it. It’s mindless in a good way and surprisingly forgiving.

I did buy a book (All Points Patchwork) to learn more about EPP techniques, but I’ve perused the pictures more than I have read the words. Still, it’s nice to have a good reference should I need it with my hexies or try my hand at other shapes.

I plan to finish this project as a mini that will live in my foyer. The center clover fabric is from the Glitz line. The gray Cotton Couture solid, also by Michael Miller, is left over from the lining of this bag. I plan to sew another border around the gray one, and I originally thought I’d use some of the white Glitz fabric for it. Now I’m realizing that the little tails from the gray border will likely be visible through the white. Grrr! One way or another, I need to make a decision and run with it—this challenge quilt is due at the end of November!

Have you ventured into EPP and can offer some advice to a newbie? I’d appreciate any dos and don’ts you have to share with me!

P.S. For those of you who read the title of this post and thought it might contain something about my new pup (first featured here), this is for you ...

Miss Rosie, our four-month-old golden retriever pup. Don’t let the cuteness fool you: These days, she’s a defiant adolescent!

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, WIP Wednesday, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Sew Cute Tuesday ...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

When Your Flying Geese Head South

I got it in my head last month that I needed to make a quilt with oversized flying geese—like, really oversized. I had been wanting to piece something with Essex Linen and to sew a palette of saturated blues. Surely one quilt project could check off each of those boxes.

I got fairly far with my vision, or so I thought. I decided to make some of the geese out of made fabric. I would sew a few random pretty blocks and join them with bits of scraps, comparable to Victoria Finlay Wolfe’s technique but with more structure. I would cut the other geese out of yardage.

I started with the largest of the flying geese, which measures 15 inches by 40 inches. I really liked the results ...

One of my giant mutant flying geese!

Then I moved on to the scrappy geese and decided I hated them ...

Trust me, viewing this in person with the other blocks was total ick.

Annoyed with how things were going, I didn’t bother sewing the linen on here. But I had already sacrificed my last few blue Lizzy House butterflies for this block. Ack!

The geese with the made fabric seemed fussy. Perhaps the problem was an issue of scale and my approach would be better suited to something smaller? I kicked the scrappy geese from my flock, tweaked the palette, considered a pop of color … and still felt that I was on the wrong path.

Maybe these blues will do the trick?

As I forced the creation of this quilt along, I knew I was on the verge of losing my sewjo. So here’s what I did when my flying geese headed south ... I folded all the fabric up neatly and hid it from view. I cleaned my house. I did a little online shopping. And I decided to wrap up some projects that would be surefire successes, ones that would require little brain power or creativity at this stage of the game.

Here are the geese-less projects that are now on the sewing table:

My Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt. The quilt top is fully pieced. I just need to sew the back and quilt this project. With the easy piecing comes easy quilting. I’ll be stitching in the ditch on this one. Yes, please. I hope to post the finished quilt and tutorial before Thanksgiving.

My Obsession Quilt. I started my Obsession Quilt almost a year ago with a thorough excavation of my scraps. It’s time to finish her up. One quadrant is done. I just need to complete the other three. And heaven help me, if I’m unable to do that in the weekend retreat I have coming up, I’m heading south with those geese of mine!

I know I’m not the only one. What do you do when you’re in danger of losing your sewjo? I promise not to judge you if your solution involves alcohol, credit cards, or (my go-to) cleaning projects, like organizing your bathroom drawers. (Hey, I might not have control over my quilt projects, but I have control over those drawers!)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday and Let’s Bee Social ...

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jacquie Gering: Instigator of UFOs

Have I mentioned recently how cool my quilt guild is? In addition to excellent meetings (great demos, fabulous conversation, killer snacks), we do sew-ins, retreats, and workshops. In the past six months, I’ve participated in two workshops that focused on improvisation. The first workshop, on bias-strip piecing, was with Sherri Lynn Wood. (You can read more about that workshop here.) Then, a few weekends ago, we met with Jacquie Gering to learn her slice-and-insert method for improv piecing.

Workshops make me so happy. I love spending time with friends and discussing quilt making as an art. Sure, there’s talk of technique, but devoting time to the bigger picture—why we make certain design decisions, why one approach conveys a different message than another—makes for compelling conversation (for quilting geeks like me).

If I had to describe Jacquie’s style in one word, I’d say it’s linear. She loves lines, and her slice-and-insert method supports that love. Check out some of her signature quilts—Shattered, Unparalleled, Tall Grass—to see what I mean.

I could have made my own version of a Jacquie Gering quilt—I think I could have pieced something pretty cool—but I was committed to making something that was more me, starting with my fabric pull. I selected some prints from my stash, including finds I scored at Marden’s this past spring and a big dose Denyse Schmidt. The gray/blue/pinkish-red results are pleasantly girlie.

Before attending the class, I had the idea to make a modern improv chevron. I floated the idea past Jacquie, and she set me loose, checking in with me every so often to refine my vision. It was those interactions, in addition to seeing what my fellow students were sewing, that was most valuable. Jacquie’s suggestions that I change the size of my blocks and add some black will help me take this project through to a successful finish.

Before Jacquie’s feedback: blocks of the same size

Ugh. And now here’s the problem with taking workshops. I have this Jacquie Gering-inspired UFO (unfinished object) and no time to work on it. Higher-priority projects are demanding my time. I hope I can sustain this momentum until my sewing schedule opens up. Perhaps the time away will help me further hone exactly where I’m going with this quilt?

After Jacquie’s feedback: lower-volume background fabrics, random thin black lines

How do you juggle multiple UFOs? Or perhaps you focus on one project at a time (in which case I envy you!)? It’s worth noting that the quilt top I started in the workshop with Sherri Lynn Wood is still unfinished. I’ve tried to work on it—I even purchased fabric for the background with the intention of wrapping it up—but I was unable to commit to a vision and run with it.

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, WIP Wednesday, and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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Friday, October 9, 2015

The Reluctant Pouch Maker

This past Wednesday morning, I woke up in a ridiculously good mood. Even before my brain could process the facts about the day ahead of me, the rest of me knew that I would have nearly six consecutive hours at home without my children. There was so much I was going to do. Scrub the kitchen floor! Wash my car windows! Go grocery shopping! Take a walk! Oh, and finish four tiny sewing projects.

I started with the sewing. I wanted to get it out of the way so I could focus on the rest of my to-do list.

I’m sure you see where this is going.

I spent Wednesday—well, Wednesday morning, before I gave up my delusions of a crazy-productive day—sewing one of the four pouches I needed for gifts. Quilting has seriously hindered my ability to forecast the time smaller projects require. If a quilt takes a bajillion hours to make, a pouch should take just an hour or two, right?

It’s now Friday morning, and I have two pouches to show for my efforts ...

I followed this tutorial from Pink Stitches and used fabric and zippers from my stash. For the first time, I used P.U.L. (polyurethane laminate) for the lining. This material is often found in baby diapers, changing pads, and the like. I used it here thinking the easy-to-wipe material would transform these simple lined pouches into more durable toiletry bags.

Some notes that are more for Future Michelle, should she want to make more of these pouches, than they are for you, dear reader ...

* For the smaller pouch, I used 8” x 13” rectangles for both the interior and exterior and a 13” zipper. I cut out 2” squares to box the corners. The strap is 4” x 7”.

* For the larger pouch, I used 10” x 15” rectangles for both the interior and exterior and a 15” zipper. I cut out 1.5” squares to box the corners. The  4” x 7” strap I made wasn’t long enough, so I omitted it.

I have little more to sew on the two remaining bags. Surely, I can finish them today, right?! If you have had comparable experiences sewing non-quilts, please share in the comments, and I will email you some sympathy.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday and TGIFF ...

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