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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mystery Quilt Progress - Bonnie Hunter's 'On Ringo Lake'


Clue #1 underway
     As I have noted before (Link here!),  I am in the middle of a once a month Magnolia Mystery Quilt (link here).  With that underway, I decided to jump in and join the Bonnie Hunter Mystery craze!  One of my guild pals finished last year's quilt, En Provence, and it was beautiful!  Although I love scrappiness, I am not a particularly precise quilter, and rarely work in small pieces.  A Bonnie Hunter Mystery quilt will test my skills and take my out of my comfort zone!  I am linking up with her weekly linky party here.
       There is a huge community of quilters involved in these mysteries!  The Facebook group has over 70,000 members!    What a wealth of information and good cheer!  The fabric information was provided in November.  There is a suggested color palette, which is beautiful of teals, corals and dark browns.  Since I am really trying to reduce my stash, this palette wouldn't work, since I have literally a scrap of brown in my entire fabric collection!  I had sufficient fabric in red (having recently won some red fat quarters at the quilt retreat AND at a guild meeting!),  and gold/yellows.  The reds are dark, so I went with the darkest black fabric I could find to make sure there was contrast.  I had some, but did need to buy a few half yards to keep it scrappy.   I love using the mono filter on my phone to check the contrast!


     The first clue dropped on Black Friday.  Based on the Facebook activity, lots of folks were cutting and sewing immediately.   I was in Boston for Thanksgiving, engaging in other activities.
A flight of beer at Somerville Brewing Company

Make Way for Ducklings at the Public Garden

Top of Observation Tower at Mt. Auburn Cemetary

       This Mystery Quilt is going to take me out of my comfort zone, and make me a much better quilter.  I always struggle with the 1/4 inch seam, and reading Bonnie's great tips, now realize that I have been cutting my fabric incorrectly all these years! 
     I did a test piece to check both my cutting and my sewing.  I have to pay attention (can't be watching Ozark or Stranger Things while doing this) but it seemed to be OK.  I also dug out an index card, and checked the 1/4 inch seam on my machine.  In the meantime, my threader just snapped right off!  Until I have time to take it to the shop, I'll just have to squint to thread the machine!

     I am going to take my time doing this quilt.  I carefully cut the strips I calculated were necessary for the first clue.   Because it is a mystery, I don't want to cut too much fabric, not knowing what fabric requirements are next.  I only had a few strips left over (that will certainly be used elsewhere!), and only needed to cut a few extra.  Not bad.
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I still need to work on my cutting, since there is still something a bit off!  
In theory, these strips should be perfectly aligned.  
          It took me longer than I anticipated to do these strip sets, and get them cut, but I am in no particular rush (although I would have otherwise actually done some Christmas decorating!)

     I got a few of the 9 patch units done, and trimmed.  I am liking the scrappiness of these pieces.  I was worried that some of the reds that had other colors would not read as red, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
This phone was taken before the trimming!

     Some of the reds do read as very dark.  I hope there is enough overall contrast.  I am enjoying seeing how the fabric shows up in little pieces!


     The next clue drops on Friday (tomorrow).  I'll let you know how that goes!  

Take care,
Gretchen 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Quilt Retreat!

     The quilt retreat was a fabulous experience!  I can't divulge too many details, because "what happens at quilt retreat stays at quilt retreat,"  but suffice to say that I haven't laughed so long and so hard in a long time!
     There were six of us all together in a lovely little lakeside house.  This home has been set up specifically for quilting.  It was cozy and sociable, but not too crowded.  We all had plenty of space for our work, and it was well equipped. 

My workspace during the daytime....
My workspace in the evening!  


     I really didn't know any of the others very well, but before long we were laughing and chatting as if we had known each other for years!   It was also a great learning experience.  Everyone had a little tip or was working on something that was new to me.  I came home a better quilter as a result!
     I had never dedicated so much time in a day to sewing.  We started in the morning, and just kept going.  I was shocked at night to realize the time.  I usually quit around midnight - and I was the first one heading to bed!  I sewed from Friday evening until Monday at noon (with breaks for meals, and  afternoon walks!)
     I took plenty of projects with me, including the blocks and other pieces cut out for two quilt tops of my own, and one charity quilt (that the others at the retreat also had).   I was able to finish up my sampler.
Finished Block of Month Sampler for one of my guilds
   Most of us at the retreat had the charity quilt kit, and ended up working on those.  Glad to have the top finished!
     I also finished the quilt top for the "Falling Star" quilt, made from the 8 log cabin blocks I won for the September Block of the Month.  I  may have gone a bit big on the border.   A 6 inch, rather than the 9 inch border, may have been sufficient.  I am not inclined to remove it!  I am thinking I may try my hand at quilting feathers in the light background on this quilt.  
       I also made great progress on my blocks for the Magnolia Mystery Quilt.  I didn't finish them up at the retreat, but did finish them yesterday.

     Having the design wall (full of threads!) gave me the opportunity to see what layout might be part of the December clues!  I don't know whether this will be the design, but  I am liking the cheeriness of these blocks!  I am happy with my fabric choices.   I'll post more later, but I am jumping into this years Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt, and the first clues drop on the day after Thanksgiving! 
  
     I am so happy to have picked up the spider web quilt again.  It has been at least a year since I worked on it. I am making the quilt from scraps of civil war reproduction fabric.  I need four paper pieced triangles to make a 9 inch finished block and need at least 400 finished triangles for a nice big quilt for my husband.  I had 92 already completed before the retreat. 
Four finished triangles 
       The hardest part is sewing the first row of fabrics to the grey center.  That requires more attention than the others, which are just string pieced without regard to any particular width.   I basically ignore all of the other lines on the pattern!
      I was able to finish the middles for 99 additional triangles, and actually finished 35 of those, which just need a final press and trim.  I feel very accomplished with the piecing almost half way done!  I'll keep this on top of my winter project pile! 
A few of the pieces with the first rows completed

A few of the pieces with all the rows done.  Just a little trimming to put them in the "done" pile! 
      For a little project, I tried my hand at a microwave bowl cover, which is all over the internet and you tube.  The fabric looks a bit lumpy - but I didn't pin it before doing the sewing.   It seems to fit the bowls we microwave with and it was certainly fast and easy.  I may try to finish up a few for holiday gift giving!  (shhhhh!)


     One of the quilters brought postage stamp blocks of various sizes that were done by her grandmother years ago.  She was able to fit the pieces together to make a lovely sized quilt top.  I just adored this piece, and have to share it here!  
     I only had one project (the carry all bag) that I didn't touch, so I guess I'll have to go on another retreat!  What a wonderful weekend!  I am so glad that I was invited along!
   

Take care,
Gretchen



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sweet Hexie Pillow - Finished!

   
I managed to finish my little hexie pillow!   
     I had made a little patch of hexies to see if I liked the process and if I could do it in a car.  I needed a car/hand project!  This passed the test, but then what to do with this little piece (which consisted of an entire mini charm pack (42 little squares) 
 I made some more hexies from some Kona red, and went around the piece in an outline.
 Here is the piece all outlined.  I wasn't sure about the red, but I do think it made it pop!
      With the red border, it was possible to cut a 12 1/2 inch square.   I purchased the 12 1/2 inch square ruler when I was making a t-shirt quilt.  I have used it so many times since!
It hurt to cut into those hexies!   

      With getting ready for my quilt retreat, and starting to think about the holidays (yikes!) I decided NOT to quilt this piece.    I had recently shortened some IKEA drapes for my daughter and had some large pieces of white fabric left over.  I backed the piece with a square of the white for stability.

I decided to go for a 14 inch square pillow cover, so added 1 1/2 inch strips to all the sides, and then added some piping I made from more red and some clothesline I had.   I used more of the leftover IKEA drape for the envelope back.


 
 I did not remove the basting stitches.  Was I supposed to?
   I am not sure if the pillow form is actually 14 inches.  It may be 12, since it doesn't seem quite full, but it is fine for now. 
     With a few road trips on the horizon, I cut up batik fat quarters into little 2 1/2 squares. 
 I just layered one piece of fabric on top of another.  Precision is not as important for this as for piecing!
      My basket of hundreds of little squares for hexies! 
 If I have a productive retreat, I'll have lots to share next week!

Take care,
Gretchen  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hexies - work in progress

     In September, I observed another quilter work with English Paper Pieced (EPP) hexies.  I asked a few questions, and found a few blogs about the process, and decided to give it a try.  I have been looking for a little handwork project to carry with me.  My kids live about 6 hours by car away, and I was curious if this would be a workable project for those car rides. 

     My first step was to buy a hexie punch.    I got the biggest size, which is 2 inches in diameter, with one inch sides.    
     I have a large stash of used manilla legal folders (from my dad's old office).  I am punching out my little paper hexies from those, which make for nice sturdy patterns.   I have noticed that some bloggers have a little hole in the middle for the pin.  I know I have a hole punch somewhere, and will take this extra step!   
I punch around the perimeter, then cut off that punched part and start again.  Lots of hexies from one folder! 
     I had a quilt related car trip in September, and since I wasn't the driver, decided to try out putting together the hexies in the car.  I used some scraps and found that it was fine (i.e., I didn't get car sick!).  
Little test pieces! 
     As part of that trip, we did a little shop hop, and I picked up a mini charm pack of 30s fabric.  These 2 1/2 inch squares fit the hexies pretty perfectly.    These were my test piece, and I just started sewing them up. 
Most of them sewn together
The back.  Not pretty, but it will be covered up! 
     Once I got all 42 little hexies together, I wasn't quite sure what to do with them!  I mulled over a few possibilities, and settled on making a pillow cover.  I want to preserve the hexie look, so I made additional hexies in red, and will then trim those and add more fabric if needed.    
Adding the solid red squares. 
The back

     Since I like this project, and since we have a few long road trips planned this fall, I purchased eight fat quarters of rich red, purple and pink and gold and green batiks at a quilt show, and am going to cut them up, add some from my stash, and start making hexies!  I haven't yet decided if I will go with the traditional flowers or some sort of geometric pattern for the finished piece!  Plenty of time to decide that.  I think it will take a while to make so many little hexies!
The pieces already cut up.  
My bowl of hexies!  
     If you read my blog often (and thank you so much if you do!), I decided to add a 9 inch border around the "Fall"ing Star quilt.  I made the blocks, and will hopefully get this top finished at my retreat!  It will finish at about 66 inches square, which is a nice lap/couch quilt size.   I have to admit I am really pleased with the scrappy light background! 

Take care,
Gretchen