Jan 192013

This is my second progress report for 2013, and the last one was Jan. 8th, so I can’t call it Week 2. Not so much done this time. About 2 days after the last progress report, my husband took a bad fall out in the workshop and injured his ankle. I’ve been playing nurse and doing his chores on top of mine ever since, which has cut severely into my sewing time.

Here are a few of the projects I have managed to work on:

Scrappy blocks, which I wrote about here. I have quilted in the ditch around the center portion on each one. Next up is to change machines and stitch around the outer edge. That’s partly to stabilize the sandwich and partly to see if the other machine still breaks the thread when straight-stitching with poly thread. Cotton thread in free-motion mode did not work well, but I wanted to do a little more testing before giving up on the machine.

Several AAQI quilts. One is all quilted, and I’m thinking of adding a little applique on top. The other two still await basting. I sewed up some green HST units hanging around on my sewing table, and when I ironed them they looked like trees. So I made trees and simple pieced landscapes.  And I’ve got one more little top I haven’t taken a pic of yet, it needs something more but inspiration has not struck.

I wanted to empty and refill the dark green bobbin before I tackled the quilting on the first AAQI piece above, looked around for some scraps to sew up or something, and grabbed three leftover little blocks and some green strips. Sewed the green strips on, still had bobbin thread. Well, let’s see, I could add a yellow frame, I can use dark green thread for that if I’m sewing onto the green. Finished that and still had bobbin thread. Okay, fine, more green, but maybe a light one this time.

Last seam, the bobbin finally gave out an inch from the end. I set the blocks aside and quilted the AAQI piece, but then my machine was sitting there with green thread, and the blocks were calling out to me to finish them. They wanted some pink, just a little bit. I succumbed to the siren song and added the pink.  Then more dark green (I still had that green thread on the machine, an old spool I wanted to use up). Now they looked done, and looked even better together:
I still couldn’t let it go. Four pieces of background and I could have this thing together so fast … I gotta do it. And I couldn’t resist the eye-popping pink polkadot. I don’t really like pink, and I’ve never cared for polkadots, but it sure sets off the blocks in this little piece. Now I need to dig out something for the backing.

And I’m doing another Improvi-Robin from Venus de Hilo. Here’s what I’m sending – found it when digging for some black fabric for Xmas gifts. Leftover shoo-fly blocks from a quilt I made a long time back, I’m guessing 1997, from an online swap. I’m not sure why I picked that swap, I had to go out and buy the fabrics as I had no solids in my stash. Uncharacteristically, I finished the top within a year of getting the blocks back, but then it sat. And sat. And sat. I finally had a longarm quilter quilt the thing about 5 years ago, and it’s done. These leftovers aren’t done, and I had no plan for them.  Then a brainstorm – Improvi-Robin! This will be a great challenge for the other Robiners to get creative. When I went to make the label I grabbed one I’d found on the floor recently when I was cleaning up, which I’d written in 1997 for some swap or other and hadn’t used. I added on to it, providing space for the other players to add their name.

Now I’m feeling the need to get back to doing some actual quilting, in between bouts of organizing my sewing room. I should take some before pics for that project too.

 January 19, 2013  Posted by at 4:57 pm Improvi-Robin, Weekly Review 1 Response »
Jan 042013

Now that 2013 is underway, it’s time for the “here’s what I plan to do this year” post. So – here’s what I plan to do this year –

1) Finish at least 24 quilts. I am ever optimistic about how much I can get done in a year, even though years are a lot shorter than they used to be. I managed to finish 12 quilts last year, on top of moving, selling the old house, establishing new gardens and orchard here, and generally a very busy year outside the quilt studio. So this year I should be able to finish twice as many, right? No problem (she says in January).

To help me along in the finish department I plan to do the 2013 Finish-Along, this year hosted by SheCanQuilt.  In fact, I’ve sat on a couple that are waiting for bindings in order to have them qualify as finishes for the Finish-Along.

2) Follow along with Leah Day’s Express Your Love quilt project (with lessons on filler quilting) except I’m going to do a Spirit Horse instead of a goddess. With a lovely flowing mane like the hair on Leah’s goddess, begging for lots of filler quilting. I haven’t actually drawn my horse yet, he’s still in my head. The same post linked above has some other things going on I plan to follow along with, like UFO Sundays.

3) Hoffman Challenge. I did this once before (nah, didn’t win), have toyed with doing it again but most years I don’t think about it until about 3 weeks before the deadline and that’s a little late to order the fabric and get a quilt made. This year I have already ordered it and have an idea how I want to use it. I did break my No New Fabric rule to get it though. Guess I’d better make sure I follow through on this one, make it worth the guilt. All other fabric for it will be from stash.

4) Another Improvi-Robin from Venus de Hilo. I had so much fun with the last one I have to do it again. And I already know what I’m sending for my starter piece – but it will remain a secret until it’s in the mail. Interested? Deadline for joining is Jan. 14.

5) Work entirely from stash. (Except for the 1/2 yard of Hoffman fabric for their challenge, that is.) I have plenty, more than I can comfortably store and organize. I’ve had it in my head to try and use up my ENTIRE stash before buying any new fabric. I decided to make this an aspiration rather than a goal or challenge, because I expect to end up with all darkish browns at some point. That might be more challenge than I want to deal with. Though it does have possibilities – hmmm – well, no rush, I’ve got years yet before I reach that point.

6) Overhaul this website. I want to add a lot more content. First up will be a regular “UFO of the Week” post, which will start as soon as I have a few posts written ahead so I can stay regular. Looks like I’m going to need a Week in Review post every week as well. More tutorials are planned, no promise on when they’ll get posted since they rely on photos, and I tend to get behind on editing. I also need a few piddly little things like a newsletter sign-up. And redo my banner which is a little bit too long. Boring stuff like that.

7) Last but greatest, what should be a big announcement but I’m still working out the details, my newest project – UFOs4Charity. I’m setting a personal goal to finish as many of my UFOs as are suitable, and donating them to charity. I will donate to any charity that accepts quilts, whether long-established like the Linus Project or short-term disaster relief like eQuilter’s Hurricane Sandy drive.  And I want to inspire all the rest of you to follow along and do the same. Those half-done projects buried in the bottom of plastic bins because you no longer like them? Someone else will love them if you only get them finished and shipped. I plan to provide helpful info on how to do that quickly and easily, so look for more about this soon.

Jun 022012

This one was started by my sister who organized the Improvi-Robin. When I got it I thought it looked pretty good already. Click here to see how it looked when I got it.

I studied it for awhile, and eventually decided it needed a little more black-and-white, and a bit less squareness. Stephanie had done a nice wonky block, but some later quilters had squared it up. It also wanted a few more HST units to go with the ones near the center.

Hunting through my black and white scraps hoping for some already-cut triangles, I found some already-sewn HST units! They were a bit bigger than I would have made, but I’m all for using up leftovers whenever I can. And the IR rules encourage using what we have, so I did.

First, I trimmed a little off the gold at the bottom, on an angle, and sewed the trimmings to the top. After ironing the strip I held up the piece and noticed the center tended to sag and bulge. Not badly – I hadn’t even noticed earlier when I ironed the whole piece (perhaps because I have a narrow ironing board). The bulge was within “it will quilt out” tolerances, but I mulled over possibilities for remediation while studying where the problem originated.

After much consideration, and laying of test strips over it, I decided against cutting through the center with the lovely bird. Second option was the lower magenta strip, which was a bit off on one seam where the other side had been sewn on too tight. By slicing through the magenta, ironing, and retrimming, I was able to mostly flatten the area.

I used the black and white HSTs, with strips on either side for easier piecing, for the insert. After deciding on the insert strip, I decided the upper part of the quilt needed some inserts as well, for balance.

First I went looking for a strip of black and white to go along the right side. A scrap on my cutting table jumped out at me – black with colors, which matched well with the colors already in the top. So I used that, although only above the slice. I found a black, white, and tan print to use below the slice, but on the other side to spread the black around. The resulting shift also added to the wonky factor.

The upper insert strip of bluish fabric I cut wide to catch the red in the flower centers. (I think those are flowers in the print, could be leaves of some sort.) And I added another bit of spring green for fun.

After sewing all that together I put it on the wall, took a picture, and stood back. Hmmm. Maybe more HSTs at the top? Oh, look at that, the bright green is sort of an inner border, on three sides. I think it needs some green on the right, for the fourth side. I grabbed some scrap strips and pieced up some green. To match the square shape I was seeing, I put the black, white and tan print at the ends.

And there I called it good, and sent it home.

 June 2, 2012  Posted by at 10:31 am Improvi-Robin 1 Response »
May 052012

I’ve just mailed on the latest round of the Improvi-robin. I was a bit late on it, but had warned the next person (my sister) that I would be late. She set up the rotation so I would send to her knowing I might be late once we got into garden season.

She also encouraged me to get wild with the project, which so far was sort of bland, despite the bright colors. No-one had done anything really improvisational. When I asked her if it was okay to chop things up this late in the series, she encouraged me to go wild. So I did.

I forgot to take a photo of the piece as received, so you’ll have to click over to flickr to see it. It’s nice and colorful, would make a fine pillow as is, but did not inspire me to add a border. I wanted to cut it up. My initial inspiration was circles – I would cut circles out of it and sew them onto a fresh background. And I ordered a circle cutter, but it didn’t arrive in time.

Once I settled in to work on it I decided circles weren’t going to work, and eventually settled on plan B – cut the piece in quarters, add set-in strips, rearrange. After selecting fabrics, I decided to do reciprical strips (cut both, swap pieces and sew). Here’s what I ended up with:

By then I was 4 days overdue on mailing the thing on, with my parents coming to visit in 2 days, so I decided to send the blocks on as is. My sister had suggested this earlier, that I do what I could and send on to her even if it was still in pieces.

When I went to sign the label, I read the card with it. It said something along the lines of “I love this block, but never did anything with it, I know you guys will help out.” Oops. Said block got chopped up. I hope she likes the end result better than the block that no longer exists.

Else it might be time to hitch a ride on one of my UFOs for an extended tour of the universe.

 May 5, 2012  Posted by at 7:13 am Improvi-Robin 1 Response »
Feb 212012

I’ve finished playing with Willa’s block for round one of the Improvi-Robin. I had fun, I hope she likes the result. Here’s what she sent me, a block plus trimmings:

I thought the color palette (green and purple) a bit limited, so when I went hunting in my scraps and leftovers and orphans and found some gold squares I grabbed them. I’d had a thought some time ago to frame the gold squares with dark purple. (Which tends to look black in the pics, but it is purple.) This seemed like a good project to try it on.

After pondering for awhile, I imagined a quasi-border around two sides with the framed gold squares. So I did some quick measuring and guestimating and ended up making 5 blocks. Gold centers, then the dark purple, then strips cut from Willa’s trimmings. Now the center needed something more. The block was okay as a block. A quilt full of them would have been a nice enough quilt. But it didn’t exactly catch the eye.

So I went shopping in my stash and found the iris print (did I mention Willa used all metallics? I tried to follow suit but the dark purple is not). Framed it with purple then carefully cut Willa’s block into strips for the outer frame. The leftover square from the center ended up cut in half for filler.

Then time to play on the design wall. Once I was done I sort of lost the border effect with the gold blocks. The lighter purple that winds through is supposed to be a sort of inner border or sashing. Maybe a hybrid?

I still needed some filler. Something not too bright, and found just the right thing in my orphan box. The HST portions were block halves leftover from something or other. I think maybe some blocks I made for a swap.

The final assembly required a few more strips, which I cut from the dark purple because that’s what I had available. The lighter purple was all gone, the scraps left from Willa’s block and trimmings were too small, the iris print would have stood out too much, so I used the purple. I think it needs a little bit more for balance but I couldn’t add it without adding more of, well, something. So I sent a piece on to the next person, she can add it in if she thinks it’s needed.

 February 21, 2012  Posted by at 8:28 pm Improvi-Robin No Responses »