Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tackled Step 5 - Split Triangle Units-all done.

Oh what a happy surprise. I had a plan to get 20 units a day done in order to be finished before the next step is published. I did 20 Friday night and kitted up another 20 blocks. Today things just fell in place and I have them all finished, and trimmed.

I wonder how they will be used in the quilt.

Sometimes  I like to kit up my  units and make them one at a time. This is especially true is the unit has several pieces. It helps me stay organized.  I usually put together 10-20 kits at a time. This may seem more labor intensive, but it works for me. I like seeing each unit come together and I find I make less mistakes this way. Also is I get interrupted it is easy to get back on task.

Kit for split  triangle unit

After doing a few of these units my memory kicked in and I recalled doing these for a block in a previous quilt. Was it Easy Street?  To ensure everything went in the right direct I kept Bonnie's  instructions with pictures near my machine. My only change in construction was to flip the unit and sew the second wing from the back. I like how everything lays and I only had to clip the corner and finger press to put the unit together.

Sew first triangle to block.
 sewed my second side from the back.
clip the corner
Finger press open

Ready to go together.
I do not have a lot of diversity in my fabrics, perhaps five or six fabrics for each color. Still I like how everything is coming together. There is just enough difference to keep it interesting. I am also happy that I stuck with Bonnie's colors. I am very excited to see the finished product. So far I am loving everything about this quilt (well how it's turning out).

Samples of completed units.

Now that the step is finished early in the week I am going back and cleaning up some previous steps. I hate to report I did not square up step  1 or 2.  Today I got out my zip lock bag of chevrons and trimmed all of them. Tomorrow I am squaring up step 1.

It's hard to say how many more steps we will have. Initially Bonnie said her mysteries are usually somewhere between 6 and 8 weeks. I can't imaging we will complete the quilt next week. However, I am banking on at least putting some blocks together. I will spend my week making sure I have everything ready. I can't wait till Monday's link up and see everyone's  progress.
Thanks for checking in. Happy sewing.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What a lovely quilty Christmas.

This Christmas has been especially joyful. There was a touch of snow, not enough to cause a problem. We talked or visited with our relatives.Our holiday guests enjoyed themselves, and there where not lots of leftovers, just enough for picking. It seems that every one's mood was good and any worries where set aside as we shared our blessings and enjoyed each others' company.

I made a lap quilt for a family member. It was a surprise. I will as little nervous about the gift as I did not know if she really like quilts, and I was so happy that she does. .

Snow Man Square Dance

This morning I was pleasantly surprised that most of my gifts had to do with quilting. I received an ironing tool, a magnifying light, a new seam riper tool, a new rotary cutter, some masterpiece thread, and finally a little kit to attach to the sweeper for keeping the sewing machine clean between servicing. Woo Hoo. I am one happy girl.

Christmas goodies

I also got a new quilt book. I admit I picked this out. What I like about this book is that it's more about the history of the blocks than a how to book. I enjoy reading about quilts, and especially their history. I like understanding what influenced the design of a particular quilt or block. Making a Civil War Sampler is not on my agenda for this year, but I am sure to get many hours of enjoyment reading this book.

My last wonderful gift was a gift card to our local quilt shop from my eldest son. Now that is something that won't go to waste!

He gave me a card to the LQS-I gave him one to Amazon for his books.

What is on my agenda for the year? First it's for Jana and I to finish our Crafts BOM for 2013. If you follow this blog you know I sew a lot with my granddaughter Jana. We are each doing our own 2013 BOM. Mine is made from reproduction fabrics and her is hip and modern. I am a step ahead of Jana. But mine has been on hold so I can work on Bonnie Hunter's newest mystery.  We hope we get our quilt tops completed by the end of January. I am not sure if there will be another Craftsy BOM for 2014. We will keep our eyes open for new opportunities and projects.

I have made on decision for myself. I will be doing Michele Foster's Delightful Stars Quilt-Along. I am sure I won't be able to keep it up...and six of the blocks are paper pieced. I'm not at all comfortable with that process. But I do like the idea of working on accuracy. It will be good for me...even if it is a little painful to do those paper pieces blocks. I will learn some new skill and promise myself not to whine along the way.

Thanks for checking in. Peace and all things good.

Delightful Stars Quilt-Along

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pretty as Picture- Four Patches Come Together -Step 4

The week before Christmas is  busy for most of us.  I am no exception. This Saturday we had a early Christmas get together with my sister's children and grandchildren.  It was great to spend time together.We all miss my sister Barbara, but when I see her precious grandchildren I feel her and our mother smiling down from heaven and nodding with approval that we gather together this year. Barbara was the family photographer, and I dropped the ball, forgetting all about pictures. Everyone promised to email me pictures from Christmas morning.

Thank goodness Bonnie kept the busy holiday season in mind when she picked the step for this week. Step four for my Celtic Solstice quilt is 120 four patch blocks, done in orange and green. I am sure most of us have done four patches before. This time I really read Bonnie's instruction and my blocks came out perfect.

Love that shamrock fabric!

Bonnie advised to make some trial blocks and not focus as much on the seam width as the finished pieces. I use a 1/4 inch seam foot and Bonnie is correct when she says you can push up against the foot and end up with a seam that is a little wider than a 1/4". This is especially true if your guide is on the outside of the pressure foot, which mine is. So rather than a scant 1/4 " I might end up with a plump 1/4", which steals from the finished size of the block.  With a little practice and measuring, I found the sweet spot. It was so satisfying to have the block some out the right size. I admit I have a handful that need  a little trimming..But that is so much better that trimming them all.

120 plus 4 patch blocks

I wish I could remember where I read it, but someone suggested making a few extra blocks for each set. I have been doing this along the way.  I practiced this with Bonnie's Lazy Summer and when I would come across a block that was a little wonky it was handy to have an extra rather than take it apart and resew.

As much as I enjoy the holiday I am looking forward to settling into our old routines. My granddaughter and I still have to finish our 2013 Craftsy BOM. This is our priority after the holiday.

Thanks for checking in, Merry Christmas to all and God Bless.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pinwheels keep on rolling.-Step 3

Making two hundred of anything can seem a little daunting when first approached. However, good instructions and a little time made quick work of the required two hundred half square triangles needed for this step. To those of you doing the king size, you have my admiration.What a lot of HST you need!

What kind of winter is this anyway?

Snow, cold temps, freezing rain, and general yuckiness resulted in all errand running being left for the weekend. That meant  groceries, haircut, gas in the car, some shopping and Christmas card writing led to postponed sewing. It was crazy out there! I did not even start cutting until after dinner.

I planned to use the Easy Angle ruler. I was positive I not only had one, but that I had put it in the bin that holds all my Mystery Quilt fabric. As luck would have it I could not find it. I considered using my old tried and true method. I don't know what it's called, but you cut a large square, draw a line down the middle, corner to corner, sew a scant 1/4 inch on each side, cut them apart. You have two half square triangles.

Since I am always up for learning something new I decided to try the rotary cutting directions Bonnie included in her step. She said cut 2-3/8" squares. I am not totally confident in my "scant seams", so I chose to cut 2-4/8 squares. I mean can 1/8" make that much difference?  It turns out I probably could have just followed the directions (I have trouble with following some directions) as I have had to trim all the squares. That is okay, as I would rather my pinwheels be a little large, than too small.

I decided to string piece my HST and could not believe how fast they went together. Of course I still need to clip some apart and press them. It was very satisfying to see that long string completed.

open, press to the orange, ready to assemble...

As I began to build the pinwheels I basically tossed my HST on the table and picked up pieces to sew together. Bonnie suggested "spinning' the back seam when pressing. I am not consistently adequate at this skill. A few turned out okay. I'll need to remind my long arm quilter to watch out for those centers. Overall the pinwheels are coming together just fine. I love the various combinations. And I amazed at the variations in orange and yellow fabrics I see in others' projects. There is lots of gorgeous fabric out there!

Pinwheels are probably one of my favorite blocks. I used them on several quilts in the past. I love the sense of motion they add to the quilt. Beside that they are just pretty!

samples of pinwheels-still need to be trimmed.

As I look back at this weeks instructions I keep looking at the tiles in Christ Church in Dublin. Wouldn't it be fun if our next step was green rectangles and looked like the tile with the white and black pinwheels. Perhaps a HST could go in each corner?  Surely Bonnie would not give away such a it probably won't happen. But that sure would be a pretty block, wouldn't it?

Well for now I am wrapping up. I need to clean and straighten the sewing area. I still have two quilts to bind. Christmas is coming..some mug rugs to make too. Happy sewing everyone. Can't wait to see everyone's progress.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celtic Solstice-Wrapping up Step one, On to Step Two (Chevrons)

Today I am thankful for a winter storm watch and a "caring" DH who insisted I take a vacation day today rather than chance driving in ice and snow. 

I spent the first morning hour sitting on the couch, drinking coffee. The tree and fireplace were on. It was delightful.

The perfect place for morning coffee

Having the day off was great. I have extra vacation days to use. Plus  I was behind on Step One of Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt, Celtic Solstice. It was the perfect time to catch up. Since no one was stirring at six AM and my sewing machine is in the basement below a bedroom, I delayed sewing and decided to go ahead and cut step two. It went quickly. I have a nice selection of greens, but am rather limited in my yellows. My neutral is constant through out the quilt.

Step 2 fabric

Before I started to sew Step 2, it was Back to Step 1 to finish. Last week I pieced my orange background blocks individually. I was learning how to use the TRI-RECS ruler and it was the first time I made that particular block. After a dozen blocks I had the hang of it. Still for some reason I keep doing these blocks individually.  Why I did not strip piece the orange blocks after the first dozen I don't know. As a result it took me most of the week to do my blocks with the orange background. It took a few hours to do the neutral blocks, which I strip pieced. Lesson learned!

Strip piecing

Strips waiting for the left side.

Mixing up the blocks

Another change I made with the neutral blocks is to randomly piece the blue. My orange background blocks had the same fabric on both sides. It was faster to piece randomly and I think they turned out nice. I merely stacked my left sides as I strip pieced the right. When it was time to piece the left side I just just picked what was next. I think keeping my values close to the paint chips helped because there is not too much variation and there is no one fabric that seems to shout above it's neighbor..

Sample of blocks with neutral background.

Step 2 is Chevrons. I am familiar with this block. Bonnie used a block pieced the same for the Easy Street Border. The only different is this is two blocks sewn together to make the Chevron. I decided to make kits for my blocks. I made 10 at a time. I can have an assembly line to sew the block, but not so many pieces that I get disorganized.

Chevron kits, ready to assemble
This time I am doing each block individually, but I think it is actually working and I feel I am efficiently assembling the blocks. I sew my bottom and top 2 inches squares on. The block stays together and nothing can be placed backwards. When both sides are done. I trim my corners and sew the two sides together.

Sewing on the squares.
Initially I planned to use the same yellow on both sides. I thought this would work best because I had so few yellows. However after experimenting with the yellow I decided to randomly pick my fabrics. I was pleasant surprised now nice they worked. I have about 20 done, and I still have Saturday to finish up. I might have this entire step done before Bonnie's next linky.

Sample of Step 2 Chevrons
Thanks for checking in. Happy sewing to all.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Getting Started on Celtic Solstice-Using New Tools

Here we are in December and this is the start of the newest Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt, Celtic Solstice. Between visiting with out of state company, a baby shower and time with my granddaughter I was able to get all pieces for Step 1 cut and have begun to sew. My sewing time has been limited this weekend but I have enough of a start to feel comfortable with the process. I am confident, or at least hopeful, I will be finished before the next step is released.

This is the first time I have used  TRI-RECS Rulers. I must say they do make the piecing go quickly and the notch on the rules helps you place your piece precisely.  When I began to cut I did not appreciate how helpful the little notch would be in placement. I admit I had to recut a few after watching Bonnie's video in her Step 1 instructions. It's amazing!. As my granddaughter would say, "once you understand how it works it's easy peasy". My advice, don't just read Bonnie's instructions, watch the videos embedded in the instructions too.

See the notch in the ruler
The notch helps you place the piece

I know that many are strip piecing these. For now I have decided to complete each piece as I go. I am a process girl and I like to see how things are coming together. This is especially true when I start a new project, make a new block or use a new tool. Since I'm doing all three with this project it is block by block for now. Below is a sample of my progress so far. I'm sticking close to Bonnie's colors. Those paint chips we use to pull our fabric really do help.

I am doing things a little less scrappy. I am using the same fabric on both sides of the triangle. So far I am happy with the look once I get really comfortable with the block I might go a little wild and mix things up.

Keeping it simple
My background here is Moda Grunge fabric. I just love the clean look of the blue and white. The white actually has subtle highlights in the fabric. It will be interesting to see how these all come together in the end. For now I am just enjoying the process.
Sewing along?
There are various online communities, including a Facbook group where you can share your progress, ask questions and get support.. Don't forget to check our Bonnie's site on Monday for the linky.
It's not to late to join the group. Just click on the green bear to join the fun.