Feb 032013

I started work on two UFOs this week (that’s finishing, not starting). The first one was a “calendar” project, where I sewed one strip on each day. That was all the sewing I had time for while in law school, which means I sewed it no later than 2005. Instead of one long pieced strip I started a new one with each quarter, so I had these four long strips:

Instead of adding background and calling it good, because it wouldn’t have been all that good, I cut the strips up into 2 1/2 inch wide strips, cutting them short wherever it seemed like a good idea. Doing that kept the pieces manageable and allowed some correction for the crooked parts in the original (which were 8 inches wide).

Then I sewed them all back together, using  2 1/2 inch wide scraps ranging from about 4 to 10 inches long. I sewed them all into one Mother Strip. Meanwhile I had cut strips of a red floral, long enough to use as alternate stripes on the final quilt. I’m sewing it QAYG style – directly onto batting and backing.

Meanwhile, my next handwork project is this applique block, which has languished for years. At least ten years, if memory serves (some days it doesn’t serve very well). At the rate I’m stitching, it may take another ten to finish it. I’m adding leaves to the outside (green) portion by cutting away an inch or two ahead of my needle as I work, a cut-as-you-go technique. It’s also design-as-you-go; I visualize the leaves slightly ahead of my scissors.

That’s it for this week, if I’m lucky I can finish the strip thing by this time next week. It may depend on how many doctor appointments my husband has, since he can’t drive. Though if I remember to take the applique along I could make some progress on that one.

 February 3, 2013  Posted by at 2:39 pm UFO of the Week 3 Responses »
Jan 152013

I probably should have called this weekly series something other than “of the Week” because I’ve already proven I can’t get my posts out on a weekly schedule. I’ll keep trying, I’ve got plenty more UFOs to write about!

One of my younger UFOs, this one is only 11 months old. But it did get put aside in favor of other projects, which is all it takes to become an UnFinished Object around here. My usual definition is if it goes in a bin, it’s a UFO. If it stays out on my sewing table or on the design wall it’s still a WIP even if I’m working on something else. The grey area is items that get tucked here and there without making it into a bin. And scraps are not UFOs until sewn together and then set aside, like this set. In February of last year they looked like this: 

I started by sewing scraps together, whatever fit. As the chunks got bigger I started aiming for rectangular shapes, and when I ran out of scraps I trimmed them all up with 90º corners. I should note that I wasn’t truly out of scraps. No quilter is ever out of scraps. Just working with scraps generates more scraps. But I’d used up the ones I could readily get my hands on and was ready to work on another project.

Last week I pulled them out, after a little bit of a search during which I found two other sets of scrap blocks, and added the dark framing strips. In true improv style, I cut a bunch of strips without calculating whether I had enough fabric, although I knew I might not and kept my strips narrow so I’d get more of them from my piece of fabric. They ranged from 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch.

Then I dove in and sewed on strips until I ran out of fabric. At that point I went in search of another fabric, and choose the same color but lighter and in a print. I decided one side lighter might look funny so I added an extra strip. Each block has 3 dark strips and 2 lighter strips framing the scrappy part. (Try not to drop that S when writing about your scrappy projects!) In hindsight, I could have left them with framing on just three sides, but I’d had a complete frame in mind at the time. 

Next I switched to light fabrics for the background. If I were sewing the entire top together I would have used the lights as broad sashing but I plan to quilt this one with a quilt-as-you-go method. Cutting 4 1/2 inch wide strips from as many light tan/golds as I could find, I sewed them onto all four sides.

My blocks are now nice and big, of varying sizes ranging from about 14 to 18 inches. Next up is layer and quilt – good fodder to practice my FMQ skills on. I’m leaning toward feathers. 

 January 15, 2013  Posted by at 9:24 am UFO of the Week 1 Response »
Jan 062013

To start this new series, UFO of the Week, I’m picking the one I’ve been working on lately. Yep, it’s all quilted and waiting for binding.

I was inspired to make a lattice quilt after seeing a picture of one somewhere, probably flickr. It’s a simple concept – sashing with posts around print squares instead of pieced blocks. And I had some autumn-themed 6 inch squares hanging about begging to be used, so I jumped in. I didn’t pre-plan any of it, just decided what size sashing to use, cut a bunch of fabric, and started sewing.

After I had squares with sashing sewn to one side I put them up on my design wall and worked out a layout that used all my blocks.  I didn’t realize until I went to put the final rows together that I should have had one less diagonal row in the middle. Not a really big deal, but I did have to sew part of one seam, then several other seams, before coming back to finish the first seam.

The alternative would have been to trim the outside posts, as I did to the sashing in this QAYG quilt: but I wanted the sashing to float on the dark background. After all, the sashing is supposed to be the focal point in this style of quilt. It worked, but not as simply as I would have liked.

And the end result was a bit long for its width. As you can see in the top image above, I had to add a strip to each side before the outer border to make the quilt end up twin sized.

Speaking of twin, this one was a pain in the patootie to quilt. My 17 year-old Pfaff has a measly 7 inch throat and I used poly batting. I’d forgotten how lofty most poly batting is, I used to use one of the thin ones before I switched to cotton. It took a lot of squishing to get to the center of the quilt. I swear, from now on, anything bigger than crib is going to be quilted in sections, or rows or blocks, then put together.

Somewhere in a plastic shoebox reside a couple more (much smaller) lattice projects I started from the scraps from this one, hence the name for this one – Big Lattice.

 January 6, 2013  Posted by at 3:27 pm UFO of the Week 3 Responses »