Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks
My block is in the November 2015 issue!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

100 Blocks Blog Tour

Today is my day on the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks volume 12 Blog Tour, and I am so excited to welcome you all to my blog!  

A little background, then on to the block!  Late last year, I submitted an application to be a member of the Quiltmaker Scrap Squad. I wasn't accepted (sad face), but I was offered a position on a new venture called the Scrap Addicts! (happy dance!)   Since then, I have designed and completed three quilts based on blocks in Bonnie Hunter's Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker Magazine. I made quilts from the Criss Cross block, the Rainbow Love block and the Pinwheel Fancy block. Each quilt has been featured in a blog post on Quilty Pleasures, and one was used as an example in Bonnie's online course "Scrap Quilts with Bonnie Hunter".  I've discovered that I really like designing scrap quilts, and I will be doing a lot more of that in the future! Check back here regularly, as I will be posting scrap quilt ideas and maybe even some patterns!

During a break in my Scrap Addicts projects, I was playing around with what I call double triangle blocks.  I've been on a "Brights" fabric kick lately, so I was using brights and blacks, switching color placement and twisting and turning the units.  

One of the arrangements made a really cool graphic design.  I didn't recall seeing it anywhere before, so I thought it might be worth submitting for consideration for the 100 Blocks series.  To my utter amazement, it was accepted!  This is the first time I have had a block in the magazine, and I am really humbled to be featured alongside some of the best designers in the quilting world!

Overlapped, Block #1180

Speaking of best designers... When I received my advance copy of the magazine, I quickly scanned through it to find my block.  There it was on page 48, right next to Bonnie Hunter's block! What more could a Scrap Addict ask for? ;->

Here are a couple of setting ideas for my block.  The first one is three blocks by four blocks and uses three inch sashings and cornerstones.  I like the little Shoofly block that form at the intersections in this setting. 

Another idea is to set the blocks side by side, without any sashing.  Doing that make the secondary pattern look like Square-in-a-Square blocks, but without any of the complicated math involved with those blocks.  

If you are like me, and are always looking at the secondary patterns, you will see that this layout also has overlapping stars that form when the blocks meet. That isn't where the name of the block came from, but isn't it a nice coincidence?

If you want the stars to be completed on the edges, add a row of partial blocks all the way around.  A 2 by 2 layout, with the addition of the partial blocks would look like this:

So many ideas, so little time! 

Be sure to check out my Bitty Block, which is also posted today on Quilty Pleasures.  Being asked to design a Bitty Block was a pleasant surprise, and I had a great time coming up with ideas before deciding on a Snail's Trail variation. 

The nice people at Quilty Pleasures are giving away copies of the magazine and other goodies on their blog, so be sure to visit and leave a comment there. Also, make sure to visit the rest of the designers on the blog tour today and tomorrow for other chances to win. To win a copy from me, leave me a comment below, and I will use Mr. Random Number Generator to pick a lucky comment-er at the end of the day today (around 9 p.m. EST.)  Make sure that your email address is visible, so that I can contact you for your physical address.  Otherwise, Quiltmaker won't be able to mail you your copy! If you are concerned about spammers, use words instead of symbols when typing in your email address (e.g. yourname at domain dot com)

If you don't want to trust Mr. Random Number Generator to get a copy for you, you can always click the 100 Blocks Volume 12 link on the top right hand side of this page and buy an issue directly from the Quilt and Sew store.  Or, if you want it immediately, you can click the 100 Blocks Digital Download link and download it. 

Good luck to all of you, and thanks for visiting!  

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Confession and a UFO problem

There are some parts of quilting that I just plain don't like. Dislike is probably too mild a word. Hate would be too strong a word. 'Dread' might be the best description.  

I've thought a lot about this recently due to a UFO (UnFinished Object) challenge sponsored by the local quilt store that I frequent.  The challenge is to find and complete as many UFOs as you can from February to December of this year.  "Complete" means quilted and bound, not just a completed top. For each completed project, you throw a dollar into the kitty, and at the end of the year, the quilt store will match whatever you have accumulated to be used for a purchase at the store.  Definitely worth doing! 

In January, I started digging in my bins to see what I had in the works.  I knew that I had some UFOs, but I did not realize how many I had!  I found 41 projects in various stages of completion, and I think that I probably missed a few.   As Charlie Brown would say - "Good Grief"!  

Some of my UFOs....

So far, I have only finished 5 of those projects.  In my defense, I couldn't count my Scrap Addicts projects because I hadn't started them yet.  I did count the Knights of Columbus quilt, because I started that last August (2014).  But even if I add in the Scrap Addicts projects, I still have only completed 8 projects.  I thought that I would get a lot more done with all my free time!  

So I started analyzing my UFO list.  Tops that are completed, but not quilted make up 45%.  Another 45% is sets of blocks that are done, but have not yet been set into tops.  Only 10% are true works-in-progress.  (Yes, I am analytical by nature. And working in a scientific field for 37 years helped to reinforce that tendency!)

After some soul searching, I realized the following: I love designing quilts.  I love making quilt blocks.  I even like hand sewing the binding on a quilt.   I am not  fond of sewing blocks into rows and I definitely dread the process of finishing a quilt.  This dread is due to two things - space issues and 'how the heck do I quilt it?" 

Once you start sewing rows together, quilts tend to get large, quickly.  As more rows are added, it gets harder and harder to handle.  And I just don't have a lot of space. My sewing room is my dining room, my 'design wall' is my living room floor, and I can't sandwhich and pin baste a quilt any larger than a toddler size anywhere in my house.  

So when I do get a larger top done, I have to find a place to lay it out and get it ready for quilting.  And that is a hassle.  I used to use the Activities Center at our local parish school, but my husband isn't the facility manager anymore, and I don't have as easy access to it as I used to.  The local quilt store lets people use their upstairs retreat center if it isn't in use.  But that entails a half an hour drive along congested roads. It's an option, but not the most convenient. 

'How the heck do I quilt it' is actually two problems - the design and the logistics. I do all my quilting on my home machine, a Janome MC6600P. I can quilt a baby or toddler size quilt on it fairly easily, but anything larger is very difficult.  Trying to wrangle a twin, or even a lap size quilt is difficult, even when I set up a card table beside the dining room table to try to distribute the weight somewhat.  Quilting the blocks separately, then sewing them together is an option that I recently discovered, but it obviously won't work for the tops I already have done. I don't have the space for a long-arm, and I don't want to incur the expense to send all those tops to a professional long-arm quilter. Then there is the problem of the design.  I have taken a couple classes on machine quilting; one in person and one online, but I still agonize over what design to use!  

So now that I have answers to why my quilts aren't done, I need some help! Have you experienced any of the issues that I have?  How have you solved them?  Or are you still wrestling with them?  I would love to hear your experiences, so leave me comments!  If I get 10 or more comments, I will draw a name and send you a copy of the new 100 Blocks magazine with my block in it!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

She Who Dies With the Most Fabric Wins?

One day, my cousin 'C' posted a comment on my Facebook page that she didn't know that I was a quilter, but since I was, she wanted me to contact her right away.  That really piqued my curiosity.  Since she lives on the other side of the city, we don't get to see each other very often. She is actually my mom's first cousin, so I guess that makes her my second cousin.  Or first cousin once removed?  We've had numerous conversations about how to describe our relationship, and have decided that 'cousin' is probably not the most accurate description, but it is certainly the simplest way to describe it.  

Anyway, I called her and we did some catching up on family issues, then got to the reason for her post.  It turns out that she had a quilter friend who had passed away recently.  The daughters and sons did not want any of the mountains of fabric that the woman had accumulated over the years, so they gave it to my cousin.  


If this lady liked something, like a kit, or a block of the month series, she would not only buy ONE, but she would buy a half dozen.  There were charm packs, there were kits, there was yardage, there were half yard cuts, fat quarters, 6 inch strips, etc. etc. etc.  Solids, prints, novelties, 'good' quilt shop fabric, fabric from a chain store, templates, stencils... you name it, she had it.  

My cousin took on the herculean task of sorting it all out and trying to decide what to do with it all.   She kept some of the fabric and a few kits, but since she is also a quilter, she already has a stash, and has no more room to store the bounty. She gave a bunch of it away to other quilting friends, and STILL had too much to store. So she asked me if I would want any of it.  Duh!!! What quilter turns down the chance to get free fabric?

We made arrangements to meet, and I took a trip over to her house.  What was left of the deceased quilter's stash was in cardboard boxes and plastic bins and grocery bags all over C's living room.  I took more than I knew I could use, but she really wanted it out of her house, so figured that I could find someone to use it. We squeezed it all in to the back of my Prius. Here is a picture of the haul.  Remember that this is MUCH LESS than HALF of what was given to C.

After I unloaded it, I spent a couple of days going through it and deciding what to do with it all.  The plastic boxes on the left and the bin in the foreground are full of 5 inch squares. Those I decided to keep, since I make a lot of scrap quilts. The white box on the right was full of solids fabrics in 6 inch strips with a few 1-yard cuts thrown in.  Solids seem to be the latest trend, so I decided to try some projects to see how I like using them.  It isn't often that you get to try something for free, right?  The photo box in the center contains a kit which looks interesting, so I decided to keep it.  

The templates and most of the partially sewn projects didn't interest me, so I put those aside for the "free to a good home" table at the next quilt guild meeting.

After all that, there was still way too much for me to use or even to store.  My husband was starting to complain about all the clutter.  Then, it hit me!  What about donating the rest of the fabric to a worthy organization who could use it?

A few years ago, I found out about an organization called Quilts For Kids.  This wonderful organization was founded by a woman who used to work in the garment district in New York.  She discovered "a wealth of discontinued fabric samples being thrown away" and convinced the garment houses to give them to her instead. With those discarded samples, and donations of other unused fabrics, she founded Quilts for Kids. Their mission statement is "Transforming fabrics into patchwork quilts that comfort children with life-threatening illnesses and children of abuse." 

You can read all about it on their website: http://www.quiltsforkids.org/  They are located outside of Philadelphia, PA, but supply quilts to children's hospitals all over the country.  I encourage you to check it out and get involved!  You can request a kit, which they will send to you for free.  The kit includes the fabric for the quilt top; you supply the batting, the backing, the labor and the shipping back to their offices. 

Anyway, we were taking a trip to Philadelphia at the beginning of the month, and were driving!  So all the boxes and bags went into the back of the car, and I made arrangements to drop it all off at their office.  They assured me that all of it would be put to good use, which made me feel really good.   

Even though I felt good about the donation to Quilts for Kids, I have a lingering melancholy about the whole experience. This woman had spent so much money on all these projects and never got to use it all. Sure, she probably enjoyed buying it, but at what cost?  What other good cause could the money have been used for?  It also makes me think very hard about any future fabric purchases for myself!  No more impulse purchases.  Before buying anything, I am going to make sure that it is for a project that will actually get made, and not that I want it just because it strikes my fancy at the moment. Between the scraps from previous projects and yardage stored in totes in the basement, I probably have enough fabric to make 100 quilts. My will is going to stipulate that any left over fabric gets donated to Quilts for Kids or another worthy organization.  In short, I've I decided that I don't want to 'win'.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

One Last Scrap Addicts Project - Stars in Stripes

Stars in Stripes 

It was with mixed feelings that I submitted my last Scrap Addicts project to my Quiltmaker editor. On the one hand, it was DONE  and I don't need to stress about it anymore.  On the other hand, it was my LAST project, and I will miss the interactions with my fellow Addicts and the Scrap Addict editor, Diane Harris.  She has been a great cheerleader for us, and has provided wonderful encouragement along the way!

In my experience, being a Scrap Addict has been a lot of fun, and quite a challenge!  Being a Scrap Addict meant that I needed to come up with at least 2 quilts based on Bonnie Hunter's blocks that were published in her Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker Magazine.  That included coming up with a quilt design, choosing the fabrics, figuring out how much of each scrap fabric I had, and where it should go in the quilt, piecing the top, sandwiching it, choosing the quilt design, quilting it  and binding it.  Whew! In retrospect, it was a lot of work, but it was all worth it!  I guess I was a bit of an overachiever because I actually decided to do three projects, not two.  Some of my trials and tribulations involved with that decision can be found in my previous blog posts. 

If you ever get a chance to be a Scrap Addict, go for it!

Here is a link to the post on the Quilty Pleasures Blog about Stars in Stripes.   You can read about (and see) some of the 'trials and tribulations' involved!