BAMQG Design Wall

SIL's Design Wall
SIL’s Design Wall

We had Craft Night at SIL’s the other night. Her design wall was awash with BAMQG projects.

One thing that is cool about this is that SIL never belonged to any guilds (that I remember her talking about) when she lived back East. The other thing is that she does more of the various challenges than I do.

  1. SIL's Design Wall n.2
    SIL’s Design Wall n.2

    The first project is the text project. SIL is smart and makes small projects for the challenges. The blue fabric is a text print and her piecing of the striped fabric is truly genius.

  2. The green and pink piece is actually a quillow. That fabric was truly a challenge for SIL as she normally works in a different palette.
  3. The blue and white square and rectangle piece is the latest challenge from BAMQG. This year’s theme is scraps and the first challenge has to do with using scraps to make a piece from squares and rectangles. I like the white as I think it adds a lot the the piece.
  4. You might recognize the postage stamp blocks from the various posts I have written about donation blocks and quilts. SIL is using sashing on hers as I often do.

There is a certain cohesiveness on her design wall that appealed to me.

Color My World – Cheryl

Cheryl was fortunate enough to grab the February spot and her piece was the second on which I worked. As I said Saturday, I had two pieces on which to work right off the bat. I missed the February meeting, but got my hands on the color sheet and made a piece.

Cheryl's Color My World
Cheryl’s Color My World

For some reason I wanted to do something a bit more straight-laced and block-like. It couldn’t be too straight-laced, so decided on a checkerboard.

Kelly is next and I am curious to see what she comes up with as her colors.

I have making my own color sheet on my list. I have an idea in mind, but need to find a photo. I’ll wait a few months so I can see what other people bring to the meeting. I doubt my slot will come up before next year.

Color My World – Karen

Karen, last year’s guild challenge coordinator is leading a new challenge. This challenge is in addition to whatever challenges the new challenge coordinator comes up with. I have decided to join the Color My World challenge.

As is her right, Karen was the first person to provide a color sheet for the challenge. As I join somewhat behind the rest of the group I had two to complete at once. I did Karen’s first and will talk about the other one tomorrow.

Karen's Color My World
Karen’s Color My World

Karen used a landscape photo as the inspiration. I followed that idea and used curve strip piecing techniques to mimic the landscape idea. I am pleased with the way my piece came out.

Cheryl’s IRR

I don’t actually have any IRRs right now and I wasn’t at the BAMQG meeting, so I couldn’t take another. I had three in quick succession, with Cheryl’s being the last before my brief hiatus. Ruth‘s and Claire‘s pieces were the other two in the trio.

Michelle and I met at Trader Joe’s again and exchanged IRRs. I took Claire’s to pass along as she wouldn’t be at the meeting either. I headed up to the North Coast again with DH for NSGW/#politicalwifery events and Michelle was headed to Spain. Rhonda was kind enough to take both bags to the meeting for us and I gave them to her at the CQFA meeting.

All of this meant that I had to get Cheryl’s done in time to get it to Rhonda. I had about a day once I figured out all of the timing, so I got down to business.

Cheryl's IRR - before
Cheryl’s IRR – before

Cheryl’s piece looked great when I got it and I was loathe to wreck it, but Michelle had added half a row, so that missing section was perfect for me to complete.

Cheryl’s piece is turning out really well. I love it, thus the feelings of avoiding wreckage. I really wanted to use the Paris map fabric, but couldn’t really fit it in once all was said and done.

I walked around with it on my design wall for a few days and decided to add some Flying Geese. Yes, I am still in love with Flying Geese.

I also needed to add my signature fabric, but I didn’t want to add a large patch or strip as I have on other pieces, because I wanted to preserve the mainly white and turquoise color story.

There were a few small strips left over from other piecing, so I pieced a few of those together to make another strip large enough to handle my signature fabric. I wanted something that would look like it fit in.

Cheryl's IRR - my part
Cheryl’s IRR – my part

I made some Flying Geese. Since those were the main parts, I started working getting Michelle’s strip completed. I added some white and a strip of the black and white stripe, which came to me after looking at the piece.

After making my piece, I think the white on the edge needs to be corralled, but someone else, or Cheryl, will have to worry about that. I am pleased with how my part came out and I think my signature fabric piece fits in well without overwhelming the whole design.


Cheryl's IRR - finished with my part
Cheryl’s IRR – finished with my part

I also think the piece needs some space at the top. The bottom is getting to be quite breezy while the top is looking a little cramped. Not fatally so, but a little. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Good things about this IRR

  • no rules about how much you have to do
  • don’t have to add much fabric

Mighty Lucky February Challenge (Fibershots)

Mighty Lucky Member
Mighty Lucky Member

I saw the Mighty Lucky February Challenge and groaned. the basic theme was minimalism and I was not interested.

Then I had an idea. Then I saw the notice for the CQFA meeting and that the activity would be working on quilts for the Fibershots fundraiser at SJMQT. I decided that I could get the challenge done and do some good.

Two quilt birds one stone.

I had the materials I needed at hand and got down to business.

As I wanted the pieces were quickly pieced. I was pretty happy, though I can see where a whole series of these would make the designs better. I felt like there was something, but didn’t know what.

I kept the pieces on my design wall for a day or two and then took them to the CQFA meeting to quilt during the work party. I took my thread with me and quilted the pieces in a simple straight line design. I had a brain flash as I progressed across the piece where I decided to add a few lines of colored thread to the quilting.

When I got home I added some triangles as a hanging mechanism as I zigzagged around the edge of the piece. Maureen suggested using some Perl cotton to stabilize the edge as I quilted so I tried that and the edges don’t seem to curl as much.

Minimalist Fiber 1 & 2
Minimalist Fiber 1 & 2

As I mentioned, my Mighty Lucky Challenge will be heading off to be displayed with other Fibershots quilts and sold (hopefully) for $100. You, too, can make one. Talk to the Museum if you want to buy one. Like mine. Buy mine. All the money goes to support the museum.

Mighty Lucky January Challenge

I already wrote a little bit about the February challenge, but look for a full fledged post about it soon. I am just catching up with the January challenge. I am happy with my first effort with bias tape. It was interesting and a good learning experience, but I want to try this picture again. I like the image, but my rendition didn’t come out as I had hoped.

Mighty Lucky January Challenge
Mighty Lucky January Challenge

I really like the thin beak of the original picture. I didn’t get the beak as thin as I would have liked. I used a lot of pins, but it was hard to keep the bias in place as I sewed and I am not sure why. The wobble also resulted in all of the straight lines ending up wobbly. This is because I didn’t have the Wonder tape called for in the directions (I have it now). I didn’t add fusible to my bias tape, which was an option I didn’t think about.

Still, I made something for the challenge. I was also expecting progress not perfection. WooHoo!

I was excited about this challenge, because I had been wanting to learn to make bias tape using bias tape makers. It might useful for embellishing or design purposes in the future. This was the perfect opportunity.

After cutting and sewing the bias, I fed the piece through using a pin and the device started making bias tape! I couldn’t believe it that the process worked. Once I got going, I found it incredibly useful to poke a pin into my pressing surface to hold the bias in place. As I reached the end of my pressing mat with the iron, I had to move the pin.

Bias tape maker seam allowance problem
Bias tape maker seam allowance problem

I was disappointed that the directions did not talk about type of fabric or any challenges that might occur. I found a couple of things that were challenging.

First, I used a Kona Solid for the red bias tape. As I have mentioned in the past there is a lot to like about Kona, but its loose weave is not a bonus. I cut my strips about 1/2″ wide and as I fed them through the bias tape maker to make 1/4″ bias, the seams got hung up on the device. The bias tape maker had a real problem going over them as I pulled the tape through. I ended up helping them with a stiletto, but the seams looked terrible once the tape was made, as you can see in the photo with the blue arrow. The photo is of completed bias tape. You can see that the line is not smooth and there is a marked bump in the tape. Yes, I pressed the seams flat and they are still not attractive. The seams are also already starting to fray.

I am thinking that the problem could have been the fabric, as mentioned, combined with the size of the bias tape I chose to make. I’ll have to experiment some more to see what works. Looser weave fabric might work just fine with a larger sized bias tape maker. I do think I might try this technique with Art Gallery Pure Elements Solids as they are thin and tightly woven. I am not sure if that line has a bright scarlet.

Look How Many Bias Strips!!
Look How Many Bias Strips!!

Second, there was no way of knowing how much bias tape could be made. There was no chart like a bias binding chart included with the directions. Would a bias binding chart used for binding a quilt work? I tried looking at one, but it don’t go down to a small enough width of tape. I now have about 500 yards of bias tape still to use, which is why I am not concerned about a do over.

Yes, I had to sew all of those tiny strips together, which was another ordeal in itself. I should have used the tube bias method.

Next, I used the 1/4″ bias tape maker. It worked like a charm, but is very small. I would recommend using a 1/2″ or 3/8″ bias tape maker on your first time out.

Fourth, the directions did not talk about using a Point Trimmer. A Point Trimmer helps you line up the edges of the bias tape to sew it together in a long string. You can use it for your binding strips as well if you don’t use the tube binding method. As an aside, if you don’t have Point Trimmer ruler, you really need to get one. I like the Judy Martin version because it helps you trim two types of triangles in one tool BUT there are other manufacturers who make them and almost any are good.

Bias tape makers
Bias tape makers

Fifth, these bias tape makers are not readily available. I went to three stores, checked Amazon, and some other places before I found a full selection at Beverly’s. The quilt stores didn’t have them. Amazon, etc had a few, but not all the sizes and not sold in sets. None of the online places could get them to me in a timely manner. I now have a set of them and won’t need to buy them again, but I was surprised. If I were Lucky Spools, I would have made a deal with some shop to sell kits of the bias tape makers and the Wonder Tape.

Pressing Matters
Pressing Matters

Sixth, there were very few instructions about pressing. The author of this ‘lesson’ did say to keep your fingers away from the hot iron, but not much else. I used a type of stiletto, which prevented me from burned fingers. It is two pronged, which gives me more ‘holding’ surface. I think I bought it at a booth at the county fair or PIQF where they sell every kind of scissor and small metal tool known to mankind.

There is more come on this technique as I will post about my next effort.

Mighty Lucky Member
Mighty Lucky Member

Learning is not a smooth process. I am not complaining about any of the above; I am just telling you my story. One lesson for me is to try different brands of solids. Kona is just so easy to find! I am glad I tried this technique and learned how to make bias tape with these devices.

Lobster Placemat

There was, at some point, a placemat challenge issued at CQFA. I don’t normally do challenges, but an idea popped into my head. It stayed in my head until the May 2014 meeting where Jen did a workshop on “from drawing to art quilt” That workshop was also about line. I took a minute to get my idea down on paper.

Sketchbook book lobster placemat
Sketchbook book lobster placemat

This past week, since we were having a CQFA art show, I started in on the piece. It is mostly applique’ — well, it is all fusible applique’ at the moment, but I am not finished and I may add some piecing around the edges.

Lobster Placemat in progress
Lobster Placemat in progress

I showed it off at CQFA yesterday during the art walk and people seemed to like it. There was some discussion about next steps. Caroline suggested googly eyes for the eyes, but I am not sure that is the direction I want to go with this piece.

CQFA Workshop Challenge

CQFA Challenge: Spring in Humboldt
CQFA Challenge: Spring in Humboldt

There will be a workshop on Saturday at the CQFA meeting based around this photo, Spring Comes to Humboldt. The name of the workshop is the “Same Design, Make it Mine” challenge.

The guidelines of this workshop are:
1. Look at the photo and recreate the sense of it in your medium of choice.
2. Use your own style
3. Use your own favorite techniques
4. No whining

CQFA Members: bring materials and supplies to the meeting as we will work on our own projects during the meeting.

While this workshop is primarily set up for CQFA and will be held at the meeting, everyone who reads is welcome to play. You can post your efforts to the AQ Flickr Group, or the CQFA Flickr Group, if you are a member. <Nota bene: you can easily be a member for a small payment of dues!> CQFA members should bring their finished or in process works to an upcoming meeting.

Will you play along?


Iron Caddy
Iron Caddy

Yesterday was the BAMQG Holiday Party and Meeting. The meeting part was relatively short, then we had the gift exchange and Show & Tell.

I mentioned that I had made a gift for my Secret Santa and showed it a week early, which led to the realization that I was able to make the meeting. The recipient, Laura was really pleased with the tote bag and needle case I made. I really should have put pins and needles in it as I think she was a little confused about what should go where. I showed her and I think it ended up okay.

Jen was my Secret Santa and she made me this Iron Caddy. Didn’t she do a great job?

Iron Caddy - half open
Iron Caddy – half open

Jen said used a free pattern she found somewhere on Ning. She said she made two of them alongside each other so she could test the pattern. I thought that was really sweet; it made me feel like she really cared about the gift to me

The pattern she used didn’t sound like the same one Julie told me about that so frustrated her.

Jen did say that there was one measurement off — the 7″ measurement in the middle should be 6-1/2″. I haven’t tried it so, pay attention if you make this pattern.

I still have not yet made the Iron Caddy pattern I bought at Quiltin’ Cousins, so perhaps I am off the hook?

Iron Caddy as ironing surface
Iron Caddy as ironing surface

Thanks to Jen!

Whole Cloth Quilt

Flowers in Progress
Flowers in Progress

I blame this project on Ruth over at Pippin Sequim.

I didn’t want to do it.

I resisted. Really I did, but the creative urge took over. It caught me at weak point and I gave in.

I also was inspired by the art exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and a design popped into my head. It was a good time to give in a engage in the entire process of quiltmaking- from design to binding.

Whole Cloth Quilt Design
Whole Cloth Quilt Design

Everything with this project has gone very smoothly. Knock wood! The fabric arrived, I had enough tracing paper and the right tools to draw the design. I found Saral Transfer paper and was able to transfer the design with little to no drama.

I am using Aurifil 28wt thread and it is working well and playing nicely with my machine.

Now I am quilting. I can only quilt for about 6 hours at a time and even that is pushing the friendship. I would do better to quilt a couple of hours a day, but the set up and clean up is daunting. I did a whole flower and finished the vase last weekend. I am making progress.

Stay tuned.


A-B-C Challenge

A-B-C Challenge Blocks, August 2012
A-B-C Challenge Blocks, August 2012

You might be wondering why I am writing about my A-B-C Challenge blocks when the BAMQG meeting was definitely not yesterday.

First, I am sewing pretty slowly lately and I am short on things to write about. Yes, you will see some more book reviews. 😉

More importantly, Rhonda finished all of her blocks. Yes, all of them, through Z. She sent a message to us saying she was done and I thought that I had better get busy. I had been thinking about finishing them all anyway. Finishing all of the blocks will buy me time later. Who knows how long figuring out the &^%$ sashing will take?

Yes, all of my blocks are done.

Yes, there are more than 26, because I made some bonus blocks. What the heck?

A-B-C Challenge: X Quartet
A-B-C Challenge: X Quartet

The first block I sewed over the weekend was the Ninja Throwing Star, according to Sandy of Quilting for the Rest of Us, Darla of Scientific Quilter, and Gretchen (@mafiretones) of 120 Blocks. It is actually my X block and the official name, according to Around the Block is X Quartet. It does look like a Ninja Throwing Star and once I caught up with their Twitter hijinks, I thought their jokes about wrapping myself in black Jelly Rolls and wandering around throwing the X Quartet were pretty funny.

X Quartet was a pretty straightforward block to put together and I like the way the color combination came out. And, I have to admit, it does kind of look like a Ninja Throwing Star.

A-B-C Challenge: Japanese X
A-B-C Challenge: Japanese X

I really wanted to make the Japanese X block that Kathleen combined to make into a pillow for the Pillow Swap challenge at BAMQG for X. I was nervous that the other participants would call me out since the block doesn’t technically start with X, so I decided to make it as a bonus block. I really like the design and want to explore it a little more in the future.

I have been trying to use more of the Zoe Pearns dots to create some continuity in the blocks. I don’t know if it is working, but the blocks, in general, are looking quite cheerful.

Zipper by Judy Martin
Zipper by Judy Martin

I skipped Y at first and went straight to Z. Y and Z are difficult blocks, mostly because not a lot blocks have names that start with Y or Z. I didn’t see any that I liked that started with Z. I thought about Zanzibar, the block from Weeks Ringle and Bill  Kerr that I resized and used for the FOTY 2009 quilt.

Been there done that, so I looked around to see if there were any other options. I found a printout from the Judy Martin site of a quilt made from a block called Zipper. It has a little different look than the other blocks I have made, namely because of the lack of HSTs, but I made it anyway. I like the way it came out.

Then I got to Y.

Y was a problem.

The first problem was finding a block I wanted to do. The next problem was making it. There are a lot of Yankee something or other quilt blocks. None of them really spoke to me. I had books opened to sections on Y blocks all over my workroom. Finally, I decided on Young Man’s Fancy. It has a nice propeller look in the center and I am not scared by long, thin, pointy triangles.

Young Man's Fancy: Fail
Young Man’s Fancy: Fail

I should have been, because I had no idea what I was doing with this block. No matter what I did, this block would not go together. Remember: I am making 6″ blocks, so I am sure the size had something to do with my problems.

Finally, I gave up.

The thing I did like about this block is the outside row of squares. The colors are grouped so that two pinks are in two corners and two greens are in the two other corners. I like the way that looks and will keep it in mind for future blocks. The suggested coloration had the border squares of this block colored in that way.

Yankee Puzzle
Yankee Puzzle

So, I was back to the Yankees. I just picked one, which turned out to be Yankee Puzzle, made it and moved on.

I have to say that my favorite color combination in all of the blocks is the color combination in Yankee Puzzle. That fun pink (may be called Lipstick) coupled with the dark, but cheerful greenish blue are awesome. You can see, from the photo at the top, that I have used this color combination a lot.

After Yankee Puzzle I had one open spot left in a 5 block x 6 block layout. As an aside, I am not sure why I picked that layout. I put all the blocks up on the design wall and I thought it looked good, so I went with that layout.

A-B-C Challenge: Rambler
A-B-C Challenge: Rambler

The last block I decided to do was the Rambler. The X of Flying Geese stuck in my mind as I looked through block dictionaries. I also liked the way the Flying Geese were sort of backwards.

The layout of the patches reminds me of something (a gift?), but I can’t think what. I especially like the way the first Flying Goose highlights the square-in-a-square in the middle.

This block has a lot of scope for imagination, as Anne Shirley would say, I think. I may make more of the for another project, but larger next time.

I have a vague recollection of a car called Rambler, but I don’t think my parents ever owned one.

A-B-C Challenge: Frosted Star Sashed
A-B-C Challenge: Frosted Star Sashed

I thought I would get a lot farther, but the Young Man’s Fancy and the Rambler took me a long time. I wanted to make some progress on the sashing, but only was able to sash one block.

The grey looks dark in the photos, but it doesn’t look dark in real life. It looks perfect. I am considering buying a whole bolt of that fabric.

You might think the sashing is wide, but I purposefully made it wider than the ratio calls for so I could trim all the blocks to the same size. Most are about 6 1/4″, but there are a couple that are nearing 7″. I think it has to do with me trying to figure out the math for quick piecing HSTs. I am thinking I will trim them all to 8″ and then put one of the red dots from the sashing post in between the grey of the sashed blocks.

I like all the blocks, but some of the fabric choices could be better. There are a couple of blocks that I may remake. I’ll think about it and see.

Gift Bag Challenge

2012 Gift Bag
2012 Gift Bag

In cleaning up the fabric avalanche, I found a piece of marginally Christmas fabric. It is a little pale to be a gift bag, because eager eyes can see through it, but I made a gift bag anyway.

This made me think about my Christmas fabric and after looking through all that I had, I decided I needed to make bags out of it. My ribbon can is also overflowing. I don’t need anymore gift bags and the family is pretty well set, so I decided to try and encourage YOU to start using gift bags for your holidays. To encourage you, I will offer a prize of a variety of gift bags in November for anyone who participates. Most of them will be Christmas bags, because that is the fabric I have.

In order to participate you must:

  • sew gift bags. No tape, staples or glue. Any fabric works
  • post a photo to your blog or Flickr (or other easily accessible web space) of the gift bags you made
  • put a comment with a link to the photo of your bag or bags in this post or a post related to the gift bag challenge. Each gift bag challenge post will say something like gift bag challenge

I will:

  • keep track of participants
  • post a tutorial and ideas for making gift bags
  • on or around November 15, I will draw a name or names (depending on the number of gift bags I have to give away) of the winners

You may:

  • enter more than once, but the limit is 10 times, which is about the number of months until November
  • embellish, embroider to your heart’s content
  • use any pattern you want including my tutorial

Rules subject to change without notice and my discretion.

Pineapple Problem

I didn’t get to spend the entire day on Friday on the Pineapples as I would have liked, but I got to spend some time on them and make some progress.

First, I needed to figure out the corner problem.

For Pineapple corners, you need to cut a square in half. The book assumes you have pieced perfectly and tells you to cut squares which are 1.75″ wide and use them to make the block and the squares that go on the corner. Because I was actually using fabric, which stretches and has fabric qualities, 1.75″ didn’t work for me. Below are the sizes I tried.

2″ works on some, but not all. I don’t want to rip the ones out that are too small and I can’t tell until I have sewed them, so 2″ squares (cut in half to form a triangle) are out.

3″: a little too big. I don’t need that much extra overlap.

2.5″ : still too big. I still don’t need that much extra for trimming.

2.25″ : looks too big, but once you sew it on it isn’t.

Here is the triangle cut from the 2″ square laid on top of the triangle cut from the 2.25″ square. It gave me a visual clue of the difference in size.

With the 2.25″ squares (cut into triangles), they work. They have enough play so I can trim them and make the blocks look beautiful. I was pretty excited about REALLY finishing the blocks and putting the quilt together until…

I put four blocks together. Sigh.

As you can see above, the border blocks fit pretty well together, but the center blocks (well, at least the one I finished with corners) are much too small, which means that they don’t work with the border blocks.

What does this mean?
How did this happen?
I used the same strips, the same sewing machine.

The only difference was the iron.

I am exceptionally down about this and truly ready to put this quilt away and start something new. That is exactly what I didn’t want to do. For once, I wanted to work on a quilt from start to finish.

I will add a few more corners to other center blocks and see if they are all too small, then I will decide what to do.

Life in Quiltmaking HELL!

All I have been dreaming about today is See’s candy. I had it for lunch and it didn’t make me feel better.

I got inspired by the QA challenge, “Creative Art Quilt Reader Challenge: “What’s in a Name?”, discussed in a recent issue. My idea fits perfectly into my Women’s Work series. The entry is due on March 1 (or thereabouts). I wanted to finish this project by the end of vacation. I have a scanner, so I thought it would be manageable. I’ll add a little techno-quilting wizardry, and some embellishments to the mix, send the thing off and be done with the project. Famous last words.

I scanned some Michael Miller fabric that I wanted to use (and can’t find more of IRL). When scanning it, I can see the weave and the images aren’t sharp. You can see how it looks at:

I tried to sharpen it in Paint Shop Pro. No change. I copied it on to paper and then scanned it, but the same problem occurred. I am out of ideas on how to do this except for not using this fabric and trying to scrounge up some copyright free stove and household images somewhere else on the web.

I have asked some of my smarter friends, but if you have any ideas for how to fix this image (or rescanning tips) or web places for copyright free images, let me know in the comments. Your assistance would be appreciated.

To console my tattered quilting pride, I have been sewing on and off all day and am making some progress on Serendipity Puzzle.

I am at a point where I need to cut a few more of the colored triangles and a bit more of the background. I am waiting until I cut a bit more lavender, some of the yellow stripe and, perhaps, some more of the brown before I sew the remaining blocks together. I want to be able to rearrange the elements within the blocks before I sew them.

The progress that I made is some kind of miracle considering the way my sewing space looks. My sewing space is small in the best of circumstances (cutting area is about 2.5’x2.5′).

It has been full of boxes for 7 months due to the neverending construction going on downstairs. This is not ideal for sewing, but manageable. This week DH decided to redo his closet. Now my sewing space looks like this:

I am glad I have a space to sew, though.