Feb 282014

Back in Part 2 I explained the initial creation of this top. I ended that post unhappy with the borders, but unsure how to deal with them. Last week I pulled the top out, put it back on the design wall, and cogitated for awhile. Trim the borders down to 2 inches? Maybe that would do. So I trimmed the top and right side to 2 inches, and cut the bottom up into the bottom row of blocks for a new 2 inch “border.”
Better, but not enough.






After more cogitation, and a bit of wine, I decided to rip the borders off completely. I left the bottom alone, and ripped the sides and top off. Okay, the birds stand out a little bit better now.  But it still needs something. Do I chop the whole thing up, add something to each block, and re-piece? Or would some simple strips to indicate branches do the job?

I was feeling lazy, and chopping the whole thing back into blocks sounded like too much work, so I grabbed some brown strips and laid them across the quilt here and there and stood back to see how it looked. Yeah, not bad. That will do, I think.

Somewhere between there and actually looking for fabric I thought, “the red and whites I used both have black prints, I ought to use black for the branches.” And I dug out about 5 choices, of which I chose one, black with a small green and red floral print on it.


Step one was to cut the top into basic sections, then I added branches one section at a time. I nearly ran out of the chosen black, had to piece some of the strips. The very last short strip ended up pieced from three scraps.

I cut the strips 1 1/4 inches. Any narrower gets hard to sew on, and wider would have created more distortion as they were inserted. I had to do a little trimming to put everything back together, but it’s an improv piece, so who cares? As long as I didn’t lose any birds I was happy.

And I added a few leaves, just to throw a little more color in, here and there. After slicing, I picked corners and replaced them with green before sewing the branches in place. That little bit of color livens it up, but I guess I can’t call it a red and white quilt any more.




Here’s the final top. The birds show up much better and the whole piece has more character.

I guess in the end I cut it up anyway, didn’t I? But this was more an “add sashing” exercise than redo each block. I could have done something like this with bias-type strips appliqued on top, but I felt like piecing it. I don’t know whether it was any faster this way, probably not.

 February 28, 2014  Posted by at 2:52 pm Quilt Alongs 6 Responses »
Feb 252014

February’s Lovely Finish is FINISHED!

First blogged about here, I have finished the quilting (took me days), trimmed the edges up square – or as square as I could get it, and attached sleeve and label. It now hangs in our stairway, occupying a spot reserved for another UFO that I will probably not finish any time soon.

Here’s a closer look —

Trimming the edges so the whole thing was square without chopping off any corners of blocks was a bit of a challenge because the quilt was slightly bigger than the width of my big cutting table, making it hard to see whether any particular planned cut would work. I managed, but did need to re-trim a couple of the edges. For binding I first thought I wanted green, but when I laid a test strip beside the quilt it didn’t look good, so I dug out a brown that worked very well.

It could still stand blocking but that can wait, I have other quilts to finish.

 February 25, 2014  Posted by at 4:05 pm Finish-Along 3 Responses »
Feb 232014

I started this quilt for Project Quilting’s Across the Universe challenge. As many of my ideas do, the project grew as I worked and I was unable to finish it in one week. It didn’t help that I waited until Tuesday to start, then Thursday we took a day trip, and Friday I spent the morning running errands. Saturday I looked at a project that was going to take all day to quilt, then need a bit of applique, plus finish the edge, try to get photos in the dark, edit photos, write a blogpost, and get everything posted by 10am on Sunday. Since I am also trying to minimize the stress in my life and get plenty of sleep, I called it quits (for now) on this project and moved on.

Here’s this quilt’s story so far:
When I first saw the challenge I thought “ah ha, I’ll whip up a patchwork banner for my blog” — after all, the name is a contraction of Quilt Universe, so a banner to go across the top of my page would suit the challenge. But before I even came up with a plan I found a few lines of the Beatles song “Across the Universe” running through my head. “Pools of sorrow, waves of joy, on and on, across the universe.” Eventually it occurred to me to look up the lyrics, and sure enough, I’d remembered it wrong. I had the lines out of order. I debated for about 5 seconds whether to adjust my quilt plan, but I’d already cut fabric, so I said F-k it, this quilt is inspired by MY version of the song. Hence its title – Remix.

When thinking about how to portray pools of sorrow and waves of joy going on and on across the universe, I realized I’d better use fabric choice to portray the pools, waves, and universe. The universe part was easy to find, then after considering several other possibilities I found the fish-lips fabric for pools of joy. The waves of joy were more difficult. I found the perfect fabric but had already layered and quilted part of it. I finally found another choice, although I would have picked something more colorful if I’d had it.

NOW it occurs to me I could have finished quilting that perfect FQ, then appliqued the other rays over the top, bound it and been done. Why do I always try to do things the hard way?

To portray going “on and on” I realized I needed a vanishing-point. Okay, that means wedge shapes with points in the center. (In hindsight, the point part could have been off the side of the quilt somewhere.) Without much further thought, I layered my three fabrics and cut random wedges. Later I wished I had made them wider – it would have saved several steps in the sewing process. Not to mention a little less fabric pile-up in the seams.

I didn’t stop to think about overall size either. My sorrow and joy fabrics were about 18 inches wide, so I made the wedges 18 inches long. Easy to cut. Not so easy to sew, because it turned out I needed a lot of wedges. I even had a Plan B in case I ran short of wedges (having cut up all my joy and sorrow fabric) but didn’t need it. In fact, I have some wedges left over.


I decided after sewing two wedges together that I needed to trim them a little bit if I was going to have points in the middle instead of a hole with ragged edges. I should have cut the original wedges with a narrow end a bit less than half an inch, but my carefree cutting style wasn’t that careful. So I trimmed them and then sewed the double units together to make 4-wedge units, then those into 8-wedge units. By then I already had a seam pile-up problem, but what was there to do but soldier on? After some careful trimming, that is.



At that point I laid them out on my big table to see if I had enough to make a circle. Yup – and then some. I trimmed a little bit here and there, being careful not to trim too much. I also made sure the future seams did not have the same fabric on both sides. Then I sewed the 8s together into four quarter-circle segments.




By then there was some serious steam ironing going on, and some trimming of excess fabric on the backs of the points, but it still built up. I trimmed each section to just over 90degrees, using my biggest square ruler. Then sewed two quarter sections together so I had two halves.






Now I made sure each half had a straight line for the last seam. Here’s where I screwed up a hair – I trimmed the center too close. I don’t know if you can see it but there is a bit of “horizon line” in the very center.

The center also has a dense lump of many layers of fabric. I’m surprised my sewing machine even stitched through it all. And it would have looked better to have the points end a hair shy of the very center than get cut off by a hair. Did I mention I ironed all the seams open? I find that usually works well when you have many points coming together in the middle. But it isn’t enough to deal with however many seams this thing has in the middle! After that last seam I couldn’t open the center at all, steam or no steam.

I did get this portion spray-basted to batting with a layer of interfacing behind it. Next up is add the background around it. After quilting I will add a ring around the rays to cover the raw edges, and it still needs a backing. That was too much to face on Saturday. Now I’m working on a few other projects that I want to finish before the end of the month.

 February 23, 2014  Posted by at 12:55 pm Quilt Alongs 4 Responses »
Feb 092014


  (14×19 inches)
This little beauty was inspired by M&Ms. When I read the Project Quilting challenge for this week – Sweet Treats – I mentally ran through different candies until I got to M&Ms. Ah, I thought, those are colorful. And I have this nifty circle cutter gadget.

First step – go to the store and buy some M&Ms.

  (the dark brown ones look black, don’t they?)

I needed them in my hand (not in my mouth) to pick fabrics with matching colors. As you can see (above), I did not stick to solids, partly because my solid stash is pitiful, and partly because I like the texture a print can bring to the party. For background I choose a light lilac print because there is no purple in the M&M color selection, which helps the contrast. And for the back I found a brightly colored circle print – perfect!

Shape and color to match M&Ms were as far as I went with the actual candy. I thought about how to use quilting to show the shape and decided to heck with it, I don’t have that much thread selection. I suppose fabric paint could have added shadow and highlights, and I have paint, but no place set up to work on messy stuff. And only a few days to get this done! So I put the M&Ms aside (okay, I confess, I ate them), and let the shapes inspire my quilting efforts.

The circles begged for spirals, but I knew I couldn’t possibly do a nice even spiral, so I intentionally combined a spiral with a hairball and let some of the lines cross for a slightly wonky look on the circles. Then I threw caution to the wind and echoed around them in the background – about 1/8th inch apart. Don’t look too close – Diane Gaudynski I ain’t! But it still turned out pretty good, even though my lilac thread looks grey in the finished quilt.

Stay tuned to this channel – I’m working on a tutorial on this quilt.

 February 9, 2014  Posted by at 10:29 am Quilt Alongs No Responses »
Feb 022014

I’ve been doing an inventory of my UFOs. I haven’t finished and I am already over my count of two years ago, and I finished 23 during that time! Can’t resist starting new ones, I guess. I am using a very broad definition of UFO – if it is a defined project and at least one step has been taken, and it isn’t finished, it counts. That is still not 100% accurate because sometimes I count a box-lot of something that might end up being two projects, but if it feels like a project I count it. Maybe someday I’ll break that down into narrower categories, but for now I inventory UFOs, finished quilts, and fabric.

While rummaging I found this unfinished thing from over ten years ago. I didn’t get the color balance quite right in this pic, there’s no purple in it!

It’s about 1/3 quilted, and if I remember right, I quit working on it after the arm broke off of my quilting foot. You know, the part that makes it bounce up and down? A lot of quilters now bend or cut that arm intentionally so the foot skims instead of bouncing, but my old Pfaff does not quilt well on skim. If I try to do circles it skips stitches along one side. I suspect the needle gets pulled too far to the side for the hook to catch the thread and pull it around the bobbin.

But my Janome is going fine (knock on wood!!) and I’m in free-motion mode and I want something to finish that I don’t have to obsess over the quilting. I’m sure the quilting I’m doing now is at least equal to the quilting I was doing then, and it’s an easy overall pattern. You may be able to see it in this photo:

This quilt started life as a pile of green and yellow 9-patches. I had made them for the border of a full-size quilt, then decided they were too bright for the center and did something else for the border. Then, of course, I had all these leftover 9-patches. I made a nap-size quilt with some, which I gave to my mom for her yellow couch. And I still had some blocks left. I think the idea to insert strips came to me after a class with Diane Hire, where we inserted strips into big 4-patches. Yes, I probably got a little carried away with the inserts, I tend to do that.

The blocks were then wonky enough to beg for a wonky setting. I wish now I’d used more green around the outside, not just the inner sashing, but that’s what I had in my scrap pile. My stash was a lot smaller in those days, lol. The top looks crooked partly because it is (I will trim after quilting) and partly because only one quadrant of it is quilted (lower left in the photo up top).

Anyway, this is my planned finish for the Lovely Year of Finishes challenge, for February.

 February 2, 2014  Posted by at 2:41 pm Finish-Along 1 Response »