Wednesday, December 31, 2014

If you were invited to a New Year's Eve Party by the Scrappy Rainbow Mouse Club, please do not come. I am going to let the kittens out of their preserving jars and hopefully they will be able to take back my sewing room by midnight.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

You may be wondering what was inside the second present under the Christmas tree. And here he is. A patchwork bear that clearly has more war stories to tell than I'm willing to listen to.

Despite everything this bear has lived through, he appears to be very nervous to live here. Maybe its all the bear parts and guts strewn around the sewing room. Maybe its the presence of Nurse Vulture. Or maybe its that every time I pass him I compliment him on his bone structure.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The spiral log cabin came together to make a quilt top...roughly 65 inches square. Along the way I made mirror spirals that turned out to be identical to the originals. Oops. Back to the drawing board. So the middle two columns are the mirror blocks and the rest are the original spirals. And that's what is giving this quilt top its shifty nature.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Here we are at the last week of the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge for 2014. This will be the layout for the mice once I cut them down to a uniform size. I also have to make some decisions about sashing.

The cranes were assembled into a quilt top that measures 58 X 70 inches. I am open to suggestions about borders as long as the suggestions do not include any mentions of cats or kittens.

And in case you missed it, the cat I added to the fish quilt last week did its damage and I was left with a single fish that I made into a mug rug.

Although this Rainbow Scrappy Challenge added quite a bit of chaos to my sewing room this year, I really can't thank Angela enough for opening me up to a freewheeling approach to patchwork...that flourished oddly enough within the constraints and deadlines of her challenge.

And no, I have not forgotten about all those darn kittens. Luckily they are safely stuffed away as preserves so I feel in no rush to get them sewn together.

Friday, December 26, 2014

So guess what was in one of the packages under the Christmas tree yesterday? A kitten? No, that's just a gratuitous kitten photo I threw in to get your attention.

How do you imagine a Singer 301A with cabinet could fit into that teeny tiny package? Another one of life's mysteries, I guess. I have not taken her for a spin yet...but am just getting ready to look under the hood (with oil in hand).

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Here's my decked out Christmas tree! You may remember seeing Vicki W. making these wonderful Christmas cards back in early December where she posted a tutorial on how to make them.  Those were cute, but the one I received in person is ADORABLE. It even converted me to liking plaids...a lot.

And yes, I am not delusional. I know that that is not a real cat under the tree. (It hasn't once asked for food or a staff meeting.) However, I can hardly wait to open those presents! I hope that whatever is inside didn't get too jostled going through the post.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'm continuing to play around with a spiral log cabin block. I made some that spiral clockwise and now have added some that spiral counterclockwise. But I'm still not thrilled with the layout. Time for a bit more experimentation.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Another handful of vintage spin blocks in case anyone else feels themselves in a bit of a holiday whirlwind.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Here is my fish quilt--quilted and bound. I was hoping for at least a placemat but I guess I have to settle for a mug rug.

Here's the backside of the fish quilt. I am hoping that the batting separating the fish from the cat will be enough. And there was so much hollering and yeowing while I was quilting that I felt like I was reliving trips to the vet.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Here is the fish quilt top without borders or cats. It measures roughly 52 by 56 inches. I'm quite pleased with the rainbow layout. It's very simple, sweet and peaceful.

Unfortunately, I followed some of the blog comments and added a cat. What a mess. Now the quilt is less than the size of a baby quilt. I expect that by this evening this quilt will be a placemat. I thought I had plenty of fabric, but at this rate I sure hope Vicki W. still has her hand-dyed fabric available for next year's challenge. In the meantime, you might want to go see if anyone else was foolish enough to add a killing machine, I mean cat, to their quilt over at the Scrappy Rainbow Challenge.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Here are some more vintage spin blocks. So far I'm not planning much--just grabbing fabric that I liked but never used and then finding that fabric a friend. Kathy Doughty calls this Vintage Spin in her book Adding Layers. I guess these fabrics qualify as vintage because I'm vintage and quite a few of these fabrics have been in my stash a long time.
This does not mean that I'm neglecting the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge quilts. I have both the fish and cranes laid out on the design wall (temporarily behind the vintage spin blocks) and am feverishly getting them sewn together. I admit it's a bit dangerous having them out at the same time. Also, I received many suggestions for adding a cat to the fish quilt, and I am seriously considering it, despite a deep intuitive sense that it couldn't possibly end well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Several of the comments on Saturday thought that a cat would be an excellent feature in a fish quilt. So I am taking that into consideration. In the meantime, these fish were chosen to live in a cat-free quilt and this is their layout. Right now I'm in the middle of sewing on the sashing.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I forgot about the fish. This is the can of sardine layout. Not my favorite so I think I will add sashing. And I may be making more than one quilt though because this isn't close to all the fish blocks I have. It's already middle of December--the month where all the participants of the Rainbow Scrappy challenge finish their quilts.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mr. Pig is helping Bear get in touch with his insides. Bear feels all twisted inside-out because he was put on the transplant list on cyber-Monday. He didn't expect to have to wait this long for his surgery. Meanwhile, he hopes that when the surgeon does get the eye transplants that they aren't small piggy eyes.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four more vintage spin blocks. These blocks are much lighter and sweeter than the ones I showed yesterday. And the purple in the top right block is much more intense in this photo than it is in real life.
And to mock me, the sky decided to use yesterday's color selection for the sunset.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I added a few more vintage spin blocks (see Cathy Doughty's Adding Layers) to the design wall. I have decided to wait until the end to add the centers because I don't yet know which blocks will make the cut. I'm just grabbing fabric I like and then finding it a friend. I must have been in a dark orange mood because most of the new blocks have a very somber feeling.
But here is true progress...neatly filed fabrics (1 yard or more). If you are wondering what this looked like before, just imagine these piles stacked on the floor. Now let your imagination remove the piles.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Here is the layout for the origami cranes again. I let the kittens out to chase the biggest cranes around the sewing room. And then I cut the half square triangles down to be the same size as the other cranes. Now all of the cranes are the same size.

I also made a couple of more cranes to make a row of gold cranes and put them in the second to last row. Now I just have to find water fabric for the cranes/swans to float on, and then I can sew this all together.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

This is the swan song month at the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge 2014. This is the last month where we figure out our arrangements and finally sew everything together. And this is also the month I grapple with the problems of animal patchwork. It turns out that some of the blue and teal swans/origami cranes are quite a bit fatter than the others. They took exception to this claiming I switched grid size somewhere along the line. So now they are all assembled for a staff meeting where blame will be assigned. To me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

In a previous career, I was a teddy bear surgeon. Recently a friend sent me this bear, who was excavated in her backyard during construction of her art studio.  She sent me the bear hoping I could give it a brain transplant, an eye transplant and facial reconstruction.

Meanwhile Nurse Vulture is picking his brains about our patient safety policies and procedures.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My favorite kind of patchwork is with fabric. Using a sewing machine. But sometimes patchwork shows up in other parts of my life. Today I built this little bookshelf to hold all the kitten preserves.

Sometime soon I should work on this drywall patchwork. But tomorrow, I am going to the dentist so he can address the patchwork in my mouth. A few days ago I metaphorically took a seam ripper to part of a molar. I will be much happier when I am back working with fabric.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My sewing room was overflowing with kittens during the spring, but now that it's time to assemble them into a quilt, I can't find them. I may have gone overboard making kitten preserves. Or the mice may be enforcing their no cats and kittens policy.

So until I find the kittens, all I can show you is all the fuzz and cat fur stuck to my design wall. You can probably find more interesting quilts coming together over at the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Here are my first four vintage spin blocks from Kathy Doughty's book Adding Layers. I am using this as an opportunity to visit some of my larger hunks of fabric--fabric that I adored when I bought it--but then discovered it didn't necessarily play well with others. And not playing well with others turns out to be a great fabric choice for this block!

I would also like to mention that on the first block, I hand appliqued the circle. Not a good choice for this block. The rest of the block comes together so quickly, consider it the fast food of patchwork. So for a quick machine sewn circle, I turned to Dale Fleming's method. (She demonstrates this technique on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, or in the HGTV archives of Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson). Below I give the step by step process I am using for this quilt....

Here is the vintage spin block trimmed to a square. For the center circle, I cut a 4.5 inch square.

The first step is cut out two pieces of freezer paper and iron the slick sides together to make your template material. Draw and then cut out a circle from the freezer paper making it whatever size you want your finished applique circle to be.  Line this up over the hole on the back side of your spin block.

Now, using a very light touch, use a washable glue stick to tack the circle open around the freezer paper. Typically you would want to clip the circle in order to ease the curve around the freezer paper template. But for this block you only need to open up the vintage spin seams a couple of stitches. Did I mention to use a very light touch with the glue stick? Don't let the glue go past the fabric so you can iron the whole thing super flat. You will use the crease for your sewing line, so really make this neat, nice and flat.

Now take your glue stick and glue the part of the fabric that hangs over the freezer paper template. Dale Fleming demonstrates a very liberal use of the glue stick for this part, but I didn't find that necessary. But you will need more glue for the fabric to fabric connection than what you used for gluing the fabric to the freezer paper template.

Next, lay your 4.5 inch square of fabric right side down onto the glued circle. (See the photo above second row, left side.) Iron. Now turn it over and admire the beauty of your vintage spin block. We aren't done yet, but I did want to make sure you had turned the block over so that the right side is facing up.

From the right side of the block, gently pull the freezer paper template away. It should come up easily if you used a light touch with the glue stick. As you can see, I cut a slit in my paper template to make it easier to remove. But be gentle because you can use this template over and over.

You will now sew the spin block and your square of fabric together carefully following the crease lines. On the first block, I just used my regular sewing foot...but then I remembered that Dale Fleming recommends using a zipper foot. And yes, this does make it easier. HOWEVER, you will have to move your needle over AND change the plate to accommodate moving the needle. (A loud thud will indicate that you did not do this correctly. Don't ask me how I know.)

In any case, sewing along the crease is relatively easy. If you wander off the crease going too wide, you can just leave those stitches in tact, but hit the crease on a second try.

After the seam is sewn, trim away the excess fabric so you have a typical quarter inch seam. At this stage the seam will be facing out away from the inner circle. Feel free to iron the seam back in towards the inner circle. Or not.

Ta da! Admittedly, the first go at this method will seem fiddly. But you will be able to use the freezer paper template over and over again. (To reuse the freezer paper template, I just close the slit with scotch tape on the back side that doesn't get ironed. I slit the tape with a seam ripper when I remove the template again).  I think Dale Fleming calls this the 6 minute circle method, but I think that included time for making a cup of coffee, drinking it and unloading the dishwasher.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Every time Cathy at Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting posts a vintage spin block, I want to make them too. Cathy must have a special technique because she posts FOUR of them at a time, and as you can see, I only managed to complete one. The wedges come together quickly and are a lot of fun. And if I weren't so old fashioned, I would leave the gaping hole in the center. Instead I follow the directions in Kathy Doughty's book Adding Layers and applique the circle in the middle.

P.S. We got globs of rain but no accumulating snow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fresh off the loom...a plaid chenille scarf. As you can see, the warp consists of stripes of blue, red and green. Unfortunately, the weft also consists of stripes of blue, red and green. And starting and stopping new colors got a tad tiresome. So I think the next scarf will use a single color for the weft.

I am still in the process of finishing. I am twisting and knotting the fringe...a technique that prevents the chenille from fraying in the wash. After I finish the fringe, I will clip off the numerous ends on the back and then give the scarf and quick wash and dry.

Meanwhile, in preparation for a possible snow, I brought in wood from the woodpile. This required serving an eviction notice on a mouse who built a nest there. I left everything in tact but assume the noise and disruption may inspire relocation. And the sewing room mice have passed bylaws that refuse admission to "real mice with teeth and the tendency to use fabric to build nests."

Monday, November 24, 2014

If you think the mice are arguing too much and the staff meeting is running long, bring out a blender. Okay, I'm kidding! But it did cross my mind. Instead I made some more legos blocks. This time with a bit more contrast.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Today I found two more mice had set up home in the sewing room.
And wouldn't you know it. Now that there are twelve of them, they decided to call a staff meeting. I think it may be a long one, so you might prefer to go check out how other participants are wrapping up the final color(s) for the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Today I played around with a spiral log cabin. I'm not too sure how I will lay this out. I may need to add some reverse spirals.
Meanwhile, I consolidated all of the kitten preserves. Next, I need to build a bookcase to hold them. And then I will have to add a border because there is nothing modern about preserving kittens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Here's my first adventure with paper piecing. As part of my quilt guild's chapter, we are teaching each other various techniques. We are given color and size specifications and then have the assignment to make a block using the technique and specifications. The teacher of the technique gets the block.

I do appreciate the precision that paper piecing provides. And I did eventually get into the rhythm of this process. I suspect I will like it more when I make more than a single block at a time and can chain piece the blocks. I have been wanting to make a spider web quilt and think I should begin it while the process is stored under current events.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Keeping track of animal patchwork is quite difficult. I try to minimize the carnage by enclosing each species within their own box. So I was quite surprised when I inventoried the fish and found that to finish the quilt I still needed to make 50 fish. I was especially low on pink and purple fish.
Now there are 49 more fish...only one more to go!