Tuesday, July 28, 2015

slow sewing update

17 done, 15 to go...

I've passed the halfway point in making these hexagon flower garden blocks!  All of those background minutes spent waiting at doctors' offices and in front of the TV in the evenings have added up to great progress on this quilt.

It's still very much a long term project, but Kaffe, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Juliana Horner, Denyse Schmidt, and Art Gallery are all providing me with bright, beautiful colors to build these flowers a handful of hexagons at a time.

My hexagon papers and fabrics will be joining me on a road trip in a couple of weeks as my family heads out for our summer vacation.

Maybe I'll try to work on the grey background patches during that trip.  There are oh-so-many of them needed, and I don't want to save them all until the end.

In my previous post I said I wasn't going to use a count to track my progress, but I couldn't resist!
  • Center Star Colored Hexagons completed: 151/151 (100%)
  • Flower Colored Hexagons completed: 323/608 (53%)
  • Grey Background Hexagons completed: 49/532 (9%)
  • Total Hexagons completed: 523/1291 (40.5%)
You can read more about the method I use to English Paper Piece (EPP) these hexagons and see the project pattern in this post.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

one hour basket organization

Let's talk about sewing space organization - the ever-elusive, never-quite-all-the-way-there, ungettable-get of my sewing life. Yeah, keeping the sewing room tidy has long been a challenge for me.

Sewing room disarray led me to check this book out of the local library recently and read it cover to cover one lazy weekend afternoon.  If you haven't yet read this book YOU SHOULD!  Written by a professional organizer, it is brimming with great advice specifically for us quilters and our fabric stashes, bins of UFOs, drawers of tools and gadgets, and teetering piles of magazines and books.  (Or is that just me?)

Long story short, it's going to take a multi-day, remove everything from the room, and start the organization from scratch episode to get my sewing room into shape.

Since that's not going to happen this summer when there is too much fun to be had, I decided to take a few baby steps using one of my favorite pieces of advice from Chapter 5: Project and UFO storage - use a system of bins or boxes to contain the fabrics and patterns for each project currently in progress (easy) and maintain the organization by putting away all the materials you've worked with at the end of each sewing session (not so easy for me).  For someone like me who jumps around from project to project, keeping project pieces together is crucial to maintain a sense of order.

I'm a "piler" by nature, so these project boxes need to be easy access for me to use them as intended.  No lids, clasps, etc to get in the way of just dumping the pieces in after time spent sewing.  The One Hour Basket to the rescue!

** Updated 11-16-2017 The pattern/tutorial by Hearts and Bees is no longer free, but you can purchase it for $1 here on Craftsy.

It truly is a one-hour basket - the first one I made took only one hour and four minutes!

I made four total for my sewing room from 2 half-yards of decorator weight fabric, 4 fat quarters of quilting weight cotton, 2 yards of fusible fleece, and about 1 yard of lightweight fusible interfacing (for the handles).

Each finished basket measures 10" wide x 7" tall x 5.5" deep - an excellent size to hold your pattern and fabrics for a project in progress or in queue.

I changed a few things in the pattern after making the first basket:
  • Step 1 - fuse the lightweight interfacing to the bag handle pieces - they'll be less floppy in the end.
  • Step 2 - fold and press the handle rectangles in half lengthwise, and then fold each raw edge into the center fold and press so the finished handle measures about 1.25" wide. The pattern tells you to fold and press so the handle finishes at 1.5" wide, but I think that's more trouble than necessary. 1.25" width is good enough for me.
  • Step 3 - leave a 4" opening in the bottom of your bag interior to make turning right side out at the end easier.
  • Step 8 - Press the interior and exterior corner seams in opposite directions to help your basket sit flat upon completion.

For the finishing touch, I fused and stitched an elsie's girl label to the front of each basket. Create your own fusible personalized labels with this tutorial from Lorrie at SewMod.

My four baskets are all filled with projects in progress, and now I've got a small system in place to keep them each separate and contained.

I even made two additional one hour baskets using these fun fabrics!

The teal lined basket was filled with goodies and given away as our guild's June door prize, and the purple lined version was my contribution to the June CLMQG fabric container swap.

Do you have any sewing room organization tips for corralling your works in progress?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

halloween block lottery

My quilt guild (CLMQG) is holding a second block lottery in July, and this time we are trying a paint chip challenge in Halloween colors! I selected these paint chips at my local Home Depot to use as our guidelines and made two sample blocks for our June meeting when the block lottery and rules were announced...

I chose these fabrics for my sample blocks...

The color rules state that you must use ONLY the paint chip colors and black and white, so I added these three black prints...

The blocks must measure 12.5" unfinished (12" finished).  I like the clean graphic lines of "Plus" quilts, so I played around with my graph paper and colored pencils to draft one conforming to the 12" size rule.  The block is composed of 2.5" cut squares and 2.5" x 6.5" cut rectangles.  I tested out a couple of color layouts with the graph paper to make sure I liked the look before I started cutting.

I tried a couple of different arrangements of the colors trying to use just the solid fabrics and black prints.  (I couldn't find a yellow solid to match the paint chip, but this print is small enough to pass for a near-solid.)

In this version it seemed like the lights and darks were too clustered...

Here the acid green and yellow are too close together and there is too much orange...

Here is the winning layout.  This is a very easy block to cut and sew - once you've decided on the layout you just sew the pieces into rows and either press all seams to the right in the odd numbered rows and to the left in the even numbered rows, or make it even easier and press all the seams open.  It's not difficult to get accurate sizing on this block because there are no triangles or seams on bias edges.  There also aren't too many seams that need to match between rows.

My second block is called "Rolling Diamond", and I found the pattern and tutorial for making this block at knottygnome crafts. My friend and fellow CLMQG board member Lorrie has also published a tutorial on her website, SewMod Designs.  This block is more difficult to get an accurate size because of the square-in-a-square blocks and those bias seams, so be careful if you make one of these!

I left the obvious Halloween prints out of this block and used just two of the paint chip colors with two black and white prints.  I'm planning to add my "Plus" block to the lottery but keep this Rolling Diamonds block for myself; I really like the look of this block and might make an entire quilt using some additional colors and more black and white prints!

Here's a shot from my new swatch journal (in a future post I'll give you the details on this latest project of mine) that gives all known information about the fabrics I used...

I'll let you know how the block lottery goes and if I won after our July 19th meeting :)

If you would like more information about the specific rules for this lottery or helpful tips on successfully sewing quilt blocks for any swap or lottery, head over to the CLMQG website and read this post.

Happy Halloween sewing in July!!


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