Sunday, January 26, 2014

T-shirt progress

I mentioned that a friend of mine has asked me to make a t-shirt quilt; I thought I'd try something a little different than other t-shirt quilts that I've made and seen by using...wait for it...hexagons (there it is again!). Okay, technically the pieces won't all be hexagons, but variations on the 60-degree angle shapes nonetheless.

On Friday night I decided to start by ironing the stabilizer onto the shirts that she gave me back on October. But that's a boring job to do all at once, so once the first shirt was ready I decided just to give it a whirl and start cutting the shapes. The largest size on the hex-and-more ruler was perfect. I added matching triangles to end up with 12" triangle units (thanks again for the Christmas present, boys!), which will be the building block for the whole project.

First unit from Aimee's triangle t-shirt quilt
Two of the pieces were so small (and obviously from one shirt) that I combined them into a single triangle: I cut the upper piece using the Hex n More "Jewel" shape, then added a thin wide strip with the eyes as the bottom of the triangle unit.
Combination unit from Aimee's triangle t-shirt quilt
Once I had the first few pieces worked up, momentum kept me going. By the time the boys' movie was finished, I had cut all of the background triangles (from a pretty jewel-colored print that coordinates perfectly with this collection of shirts), and trimmed & pieced 11 of the 17 shirts. For the pieces that were much larger, I squared (or angled) them off as large as possible, then added coordinating fabrics to get them to a usable shape. So far I have one 12" hexagon -- I don't have a ruler for that, but I know how to cut it with my regular 12.5" ruler -- a 24" hexagon that runs off the upper-right corner, a 24" diamond, and a mid-size parallelogram shape. Another evening of work and I should be able to finish the remaining few shirt segments, then the huge pieces will go together in no time. This is a really fun process, and I think it's shaping up nicely!
Aimee's triangle t-shirt quilt, shaping up!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Color Journals: Rust for Anna

Last night our journal-arts group finally managed to sneak in a meeting, after winter postponed both our December and January dates. I made a page for Anna, whose color is rust, and who chose the theme of Country Music. (We didn't all choose a theme, but some did. It has been interesting that some of us find working with "just" a color to be difficult, but others find working with a color AND a theme to be a barrier to creativity. I'm in the second group.)

I'm not really a fan of current country music (by which I mean anything after the 80s), but I dug back into some memory reserves and decided to use George Strait's funny song "All My Exes Live In Texas." The photos say the rest:
"All My Exes Live in Texas" journal page for Anna (2014)
To get the shapes of the states right, I printed simple outline clip-arts of the states, then pinned the paper right over the layered rust (from an upholstery sample book) and background fabrics. I straight-stitched right along the edge of the shape, then tore the paper off and clipped the rust fabric very close to the stitching line. Then I used the turquoise embroidery thread to satin stitch around the whole thing. I had these little bronze alphabet brads from a scrapbooking clearance extravaganza (hey, a use for all those X's!!) and they just looked perfectly western for this project. The X's are located at the cities that he mentions in the song -- Allison's in Galveston, sweet Eileen's in Abilene, Dimples now lives in Temple, Rosanna's down in Texarkana, and the old Frio River, where he wore his welcome thin -- because I am a geography teacher, after all. I sweated a little about how to add the women's names, but when I found those tiny wooden tags at yet another scrapbooking sale, I knew they would be perfectly scaled, and they even had holes in them so the brads could hold them on. I was particularly pleased with the lettering, which I did free-form and without guidelines of any sort! The cowboy hat (hung on Tennessee, get it??) is made from a teeny scrap of upholstery pleather. These journal projects have a way of encouraging hoarding.
"All My Exes Live in Texas" journal quilt close-up. I felt like a western project needed some fringes, so I frayed a strip of text. Also -- full disclosure -- I changed which line of the song to quote right there. Command-level design decisions!!
Simple back view of Anna's journal page
The meeting was, as always, fantastic and inspiring. The 14 of us who are doing this project are an incredibly creative and talented bunch! Pats on the back all around! My assignment for next month is to make Lynn a panel for her green-and-white project. Gears are already turning...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Scrappy strip blocks

Sometime last year I cut a bunch of 2.5" strips to make a Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt, using the directions on Bonnie Hunter's very generous free list of scrap patterns. This has been the project that I've taken to shop sewing nights, so it has taken me a while to work my way through the 256 strips that I started with. Last night I finished the last of the 42 blocks, so now the task is to decide how to assemble them. Here are the choices:
Scrappy Trip Around the World, blocks all aligned parallel. Ho hum.
Scrappy Trip Around the World, blocks arranged in diamonds.
Scrappy Trip Around the World, blocks arranged in chevrons. 
Scrappy Trip Around the World, arranged as one classic TATW
Scrappy Trip Around the World, nine blocks twisted away from parallel
Scrappy Trip Around the World, twisted arrangement #2 (but with some mistakes)
Scrappy Trip Around the World, more complex (but regular) twisting arrangement. I think this is the winner!
Maybe something more random and chaotic will win in the end, but for now, I'm leaning toward that last arrangement. I like how it looks like the lines are spiraling into and out of one another in a quasi-labyrinthine fashion. Time to take these blocks down off the wall and get started with the t-shirt quilt that my friend has been waiting patiently for over the last few months.

I'm excited about tonight, when my journal art group meets to pass along our color books, after two winter-weather cancellations.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chopsticks - quilted!

Whilst my brave husband escorted the boys to a Magic: The Bickering tournament at a toy store on Friday night, I watched hours and hours of bad Netflix offerings, and managed to quilt the entire Chopsticks project! I put feathers in the dark smaller triangles, tight wiggles on the skinny dark green borders, and some curved flower-of-life lines in the larger print triangles. I left the wider print borders unquilted, so they poof out just a little on the surface. I'm hoping to teach this quilt as a class sometime later this spring.
Quilting detail from my Chopsticks quilt
Quilting detail from my Chopsticks quilt 
Chopsticks quilt, full view (46 x 60", pattern by Jaybird Designs)
For now, this one remains unnamed -- "Chopsticks" is the name of the pattern, but I like to come up with something else.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Farm fresh veggies

We are looking forward to getting bags of fresh vegetables next summer from our friends Isabelle and Rodger, who are starting a new CSA at their new Sub Edge Farm! It is incredibly inspiring to see people working to live their dreams. If anyone's interested, there are still shares in the farm available -- I'm certain it will be a terrific venture!! I can hardly wait for the harvest to begin next June!
Modern veggies for modern farmers!
Congratulation to Isabelle and Rodger -- best of luck with Sub Edge Farm!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wrapping up my holiday Stitchapalooza

The spring semester starts tomorrow, so my non-stop four-week stitchapalooza has come to a close. Not a bad run, really -- I made three quilt tops since Christmas, and I can't even remember how many little projects. Today I used the playoff games to finish all of the quilting on the Tangerine Tango sampler blocks that I made for the Craftsy 2012 block of the month. I quilted them one at a time, so I still have some assembly to do, but the strips for that process are already cut and waiting patiently in a tiny bin.

I didn't take time to try for really nice photos, but a few of the snapshots came out pretty well. I am really pleased with those curved feathers in the grey backgrounds.
Tangerine Tango sampler

Tangerine Tango sampler

This photo came out pretty well - bubble quilting in the flower center on the Tangerine Tango quilt
The bubble quilting looked pretty cool on the back of the block too.
I finished the last block with literally inches of orange thread remaining on the spool. The bobbin alarm sounded just as I turned the last corner on the last border of the last block. Let us all remember that sometimes serendipity favors us.
Oh no!!
Tomorrow I return to my regular multi-tasking schedule of homeschooling, housekeeping, teaching geography, and learning Spanish. This means limited time for stitchery, but the time I do have will be used for designing and making my friend Aimee's t-shirt quilt (which has been on my shelf since Thanksgiving), and for quilting the Chopsticks and Cheddar, No Crackers quilts that I basted this morning. The machine is all cleaned out and ready to go!
Chopsticks quilt, pin basted and ready for quilting
Cheddar, No Crackers quilt, pin basted and ready for quilting. The Tula Pink charms look so pretty in the vibrant pink field.

Hex finishes

Three hexagonal finishes this week, plus another photo from last week's Honey Mini class.

First, I used a few cute macaroni prints to try out this technique. I like the ring of hexes so much that I sketched out what this would look like expanded to a larger size, and figured out the fabric requirements. It would be a cute use for hex charms, or for a group of theme fabrics like the Mardi Gras prints that I've had kicking around for a few years. I did the tight quilting around the edges because it reminded me of a fork-sealed ravioli; I quilted the words in the middle because (a) I wanted to brush up on my cursive quilting skills and (b) the words seemed to fit, both physically and conceptually.
 Merry-Go-Round pattern (Atkinson Designs)
 Next, I had to try out the new Sidekick ruler from Jaybird Quilts.
The ruler is great, the pattern was a snap to follow, and the whole thing took no time at all. I used the scraps of the project I made from last year's Kendra Cousin California Quilting Challenge. I'm down to really tiny bits of those fabrics now, but I will savor them because I still love love love them! The flower-of-life quilting doesn't even need marking with this pattern, since the lines are all part of the piecing. This is my favorite way to quilt 60-degree angles -- it looks spectacular, it uses the walking foot, AND it's entirely one continuous line!
Rock Candy pattern (Jaybird Quilts)
Third, I finished one of my class samples to make a pillow. I didn't do anything particularly fancy for the quilting, just some gentle (flower-of-life) walking foot curves surrounded by straight-line echoing. I love the clothesline fabric on the back.
Honey pattern (from Elizabeth Hartman's "Modern Patchwork" book)

Since this post is a tribute to all things hexagonal, I'll also share a photo of Tina's class project. Last year when I made my sister's quilt, I used the same accent print in shades of teal and brown last year, but it looks 100% different in the hot colors. I love how she arranged the prints in the same position; it evokes a sense of comets or rocketry.
Tina's Honey project. 3 - 2 - 1...blast off!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fairy Tale Lane top

January thunderstorms? This weird day is perfect for sewing. (What weather would NOT be, you might wonder. Answer: None.) The Neutral Territory/Fairy Tale Lane top is together.
My urban version of Fairy Tale Lane pattern by Tula Pink


Among the fifty trillion stitchery-related emails that fill my Inbox, a knitting pattern (of all things!) drew my eye this week. As my Faithful Readers have no doubt noticed, I've been triangle-focused, so the Ojo de Dios shawl jumped right off the screen into my neurons.
Ojo de Dios shawl
The Newington Library carries Interweave Knits, so I graciously offered to take the boys there, then popped into the magazine room while they scavenged for whatever vampire- and zombie-filled fiction they're into these days. I already had the perfect ombre yarn, which I bought for a different project that just wasn't exciting me once it got started.
Jojoland Rhythm yarn
Last night, in an effort to politely let the boys watch a show without sewing machine noise (Mother of the Year nominations, anyone?), I swatched for a bit then dove right in to make the first two triangles. The pattern is just basic mosaic knitting, which I've done before (though not in triangles); obviously it's going to go together quickly.
First two triangles blocked out.
It's fun to get out the knitting supplies getting the band back together, relivin' some old times, you know? Dude.

This will be a good TV project for the rest of the winter, and I'm super happy to have found a good home for this lovely yarn. Depending on how deeply I dive back into the knitting closet, I could also see expanding this triangle technique to make -- wait for it -- hexagons (there it is).

Friday, January 10, 2014

Neutral Territory

I've had the Fairy Tale Lane quilt by Tula Pink floating around in my head for a while; the quilt as shown in her book is really bright and youthful:
"Fairy Tale Lane" quilt by Tula Pink
What I like most about "modern" quilt designs, including this one, is that they are really showcases for gorgeous modern fabrics. Bonnie Hunter says, "If it's still ugly, you just haven't cut it small enough." In my mind, the flip side of that is true for contemporary fabrics -- if you cut it too small, why bother buying it in the first place?

I like this particular quilt's concept of a village map, so I decided to use the Neutral Territory fabrics -- which I love love love -- to give it a more gritty urban look as opposed to the storybook village. I bought some quarter-yard cuts and added a few Stonehenge prints and some other odds and ends from the Strategic Fabric Reserves to build the blocks. I still have to choose a fabric for the dotted lines in the sashing, but I got the blocks all pieced last night while we watched The Core. NB: I'm a big fan of disaster movies, even bad disaster movies, but this one ... well, suffice it to say I won't be buying the Blu-Ray.
First blocks from my Fairy Tale Lane quilt.
Today is the boys' last day off of school, so I'll use my free time to make the sashing and see how much assembly I can accomplish. I'm sure the top will be finished by the end of the fourth playoff game of the weekend. My other weekend goals include binding the Nevermore runner, finishing another little hex project (photos to follow), and plugging away at the Tangerine Tango quilting.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


With the spring semester looming next week, I was especially happy to spend a peaceful day sewing at Lisa's yesterday. I used the walls to arrange the big triangles that I made with my new Christmas toy, and got the monochromatic top put together. I'm planning to baste this and a few other smallish things this weekend. The UFO closet is really out of hand.

Chopsticks pattern. I love that big triangle ruler.
After I got home, I quilted the Nevermore table runner so we can use it for Poetry Teatime next week when we get back to our Reading/'Ritin'/'Rithmetic routine, and I did the feathering on the last six of my Tangerine Tango sampler blocks. I'm in the homestretch on that one now. After dinner I pieced a few blocks for the quilt I'm making with the new Neutral Territory fabrics. I'll get some photos later and put a separate post about that one -- it's a lot different than the other things I've been churning out recently.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Honey Mini class (busy as a bee)

The monthly mini class that I've been teaching all year finally got to my favorite one in the book, the hexagon Honey pattern. In addition to the sample that I made last year, I also made both a full-size quilt and two more minis in preparing for yesterday's class.

This one will be a pillow in the newly painted family/sewing room.

I recently acquired the Urban Threads "Mini Menagerie" collection, and this seemed like the perfect setting for the bee. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how this turned out!
The five students in the class made some pretty spectacular projects. Sara C used a musical instrument novelty as her print with rich wood-colored fabrics, Sara F used a beautiful combination of batiks and Asian prints, Nancy worked in some (for her) muted colors and was on her way to a lovely little autumnal project, Tina used fiery brights and a gorgeous print for the insets, and Liz made this:
Awesome use of Beatles fabric!
I'm getting down to the last cherished scraps of the Beatles prints that I have had in my Strategic Fabric Reserves, but this might be a good way to make the most of what's left in there.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Celtic Solstice: Denouement

Thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime series of circumstances -- specifically sniffly children occupied with post-holiday gifts and vacation television, a husband who cooks, a snowstorm followed by an Arctic cold snap preventing anyone from going out, a first-Friday sewing night, and NFL playoffs -- what was only three days ago a box stuffed with 3" patchwork units is now a completed, and rather large, quilt top.

Bonnie generously uploaded the final set of directions at midnight on New Year's Eve. (No, I did not get started right away!) I started mid-day on Wednesday, and had all of the blocks assembled by Friday morning. I took them with me to Lisa's on Friday night and came home with seven separate rows. After lunch today, I sewed the rows together (finished: 2:00 pm), cut the inner borders and attached those (3:30), stitched the pieced border triangles and attached those (5:30 pm), then got the outer borders on using strips of both yellow and green (because, you know, scrappy) by the middle of the fourth quarter of the first playoff game!
Celtic Solstice scrap quilt, 76 x 76"

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Despite my plans of leaving some of this undone, I couldn't stop myself from finishing the Honeycomb quilt. (Now I'm going to have to prep another mini, which I'll use as a pillow in my new pink & turquoise room.) The yellow from the Nuance fabric is a little bright -- it comes across lemony in the photo, but it reads as neon in person -- but since the contrasting prints aren't too contrast-y, I like the effect. I think I am going to leave the edges zig-zaggy rather than squaring them off as she suggests in the book; I'll leave the upper-right corner square just for a nifty "something-different" effect.
From outside (my husband tells me) it looks like we have been invaded by giant bees.
Honeycomb close-up: the orange architextures fabric is a perfect background. I finished this whole project with a single 2.5" strip leftover.