Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vote for me! Ugly block challenge

I know most people who read my blog won't be able to go see the "Ugly Blocks" while they are on display at Something to Crow About (during Quilter's Safari, April 26 - May 4), so I'm showing off my design here.

When I posted pictures about which block design to use, I knew I had to make some variation of the coffee-cup block.  After all, it is my own pattern, and I am very attached to it.

The basic cup is paper-pieced, but the handle is 3-dimensional.  My original reason for doing it that way was so that the curves I wanted in the handle were easier to make.

The coffee cup finishes at 7" square, so I hunted around for a way to extend the block to 12" square to meet the requirement of the challenge.  In the past, I have squeezed two coffee cups into a four-patch design, or made various borders to increase the size of the block.  (Funny thing, I never really thought of making the size of the paper pattern larger.  Hmm...)

I love text in quilts, so I used letters from Tonya Ricucci's Word Play Quilts to make a bold statement.  Don't know if my block is a winner, but I really like it: different, graphic, and highlights the Ugly Fabric (rather than trying to hide it).

Just for comparison, here are some of the other Ugly Fabric challenge blocks that caught my eye.

It was so fun to see all the different blocks that could be made with this fabric.  Much creativity.  So many different designs, and different fabric pairings.  I thought the green was an inspired color choice, although I had also thought of a lime green pop of color with it.

What would you have done with this Ugly Fabric?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stranger in the Barnyard

Barnyard play quilt had a stranger arrive!  I saw that the latest entry in April Mae Designs' Hello Moon quilt featured a hedgehog (a hedgehog!) looking up at the moon.

Hello Moon: April Mae Designs
 Oh my! He is so cute!!  And Sweetie is on a hedgehog kick recently, so I just had to make him.

This version from Barbara at Cat Patches
Only one tiny complication: the pattern is for an applique, and I need to make him into a moveable toy.  How to draft the given pattern so it could be stuffed?  And how about that hedgehog fluff--would fake fur be appropriate?

Stuffed hedgehog, with quarter for size perspective
Oh, I think he is so cute!!!  I had several colors of fake fur to choose from, and debated about whimsical vs. realistic.  Perfect balance was achieved.

And just look at how well the new barnyard visitor plays in the "plowed field" with one of his piggy companions.

Does this count as a new project?  I won't call it that, as I am working on the ongoing Barnyard play quilt, and my new hedgehog friend is just one more piece in that WIP pie.

Gotta finish up the pigs, though.  They were due on the 16th... oh, I am so sidetracked sometimes.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Buck-a-block April pattern

Went to buck-a-block mid-month, got new pattern and fabric.  Woot.

 April's pattern is "Cross and Chains", from Judy Hopkins' book 501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place).  We were told that the medium and dark fabrics are interchangeable, so I will have to see which one I like in which location.

I'm not confident of my ability to make the 4-patch-in-a-box portions have their corners all neat and tidy.  I'm sure my inner perfectionist will keep me in line with that, but I'm already hoping I don't have to rip out too much.

This is the shop sample, with suggested borders.  I really like this border with this block.

One month to make one block--that's what I like about this BOTM: something I can get behind and get done.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Sometimes I just get into the thick of things and can't see the forest for the trees.  April has been a looong month (seriously, it gets busy this time of year for teachers, especially teachers of high school seniors).  I have been immersed in my own dark moods.  Etc, etc.

So, it was refreshing at this month's Buck-a-block to realize we have made 6 blocks already!  We are halfway there!  (Not yet knowing where "there" is, in terms of what I am planning to do with this project, but I'm halfway done with a year's worth of blocks.)

Seems fitting to take a look at those blocks.

2013 BOTM from Judy Hoskins' 501 Rotary Cut Blocks

Yep, basking in a bit of sunshine on the journey.

It's good to take the time to look at how far I've come.  (Btw, running in my first ever half-marathon in FOUR short days.  Had to take a step back this week and look at all the training I've been doing.  Perspective is awesome for the self esteem.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ugly Fabric Challenge

The gals at my favorite quilt shop thought up a Block Challenge on April Fool's Day, but I am just now getting around to putting on my thinking cap about it.

The shop employees went around and found the bolts of fabric at the shop that they deemed the "ugliest", then they voted (by anonymous ballot, so I'm told).  Here is the winning fabric:

Ugliest Fabric? You tell me...
The challenge: make any block you wish, using just an 8" square of the Ugly Fabric as your feature, to finish out at a 12" square. Blocks will be displayed in the shop during the upcoming Quilter's Safari Shop Hop, where shop-hoppers can vote on their favorite.

Make any block?!?

How can I choose?  I have a tough time with decisions.  Here are the top contenders for design, in no particular order.

Challenge block from Winter Retreat, 2011 (unknown seamstress)
Maybe use Triangle Paper and let the Ugly Fabric be in little bits?

Always a fan of the Card Trick block

My own original design: paper pieced cup-and-saucer, with 3D handle

I thought I had one or two more ideas, but I can't find the pictures right now, so I guess they are off the table.  I'd better get going on making up my mind, the due date on this is Friday!  Plus, I gotta audition fabrics to go with the lovely/not-so-lovely Ugly Fabric.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Quiet Book idea

Finally, something new has caught my attention!  My wandering eye didn't lead me to want to start any new projects in March, and that is just darn unusual.  But I saw a couple blog posts recently that got me wanting to go out and start something new: Quiet Books!

What is a quiet book? A quiet book is a book (usually made out of fabric) filled with quiet activities for children. It's often used for special times, like church, when you need to keep children happy and quiet. Or you can just use it when you want a break!  --quote from The Quiet Book Blog

Always Sewin' Somethin! posted about her "lovely finish" of two quiet books for her young sons, to keep them busy during church.  She has pictures of all the pages, as well as links to other blogs that provided her with inspiration.  I loved all her ideas!!!  So creative.  And helpful to see where each idea came from, and how it was changed and reinterpreted (my favorite part of the creative process: ooh, I can change that part!  Won't that make it better?)
Tiffany's "I Spy" page - sewinsomethin.blogspot.com
There's even a Quiet Book Blog, where people can post their completed projects and show off ideas.  Several tutorials and free templates are available there, also.

Absolutely adorable Quiet Book patterns are available FREE from Imagine Our Life.  I am totally going to have to make her sock matching pages.  (Oh, the wish for grandchildren comes on strong at times like these!)
Stephanie's all-time most popular quiet book page - imagineourlife.com

I am, however, completely enamored with a Fairy Tale quiet book Etsy pattern that I stumbled upon from April Mae Designs blog, Making Ends Meet.  She used images from the pattern in one of her blog posts
April Mae Designs pattern, available at Etsy Shop

and it totally caught my eye. So much that I couldn't stop thinking about it.  For days.  Yes, I was hooked. 

I succumbed.  I have no grandchildren (yet).  I have no other children in my life right now, and yet I am working on two baby quilts, and a children's play quilt.  I also have a (UFO) cloth children's book to finish.  And yet... I went and bought this pattern.  Will it be my next new project to start?  Don't know.  But I got a cute new pattern!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Project Report for March

Well, I am glad to see March gone.  It was a month of drama, extended PMS (that's what I'm calling it, anyway), and not a lot of satisfying sewing.  Just little bits and pieces.

Barnyard Play Quilt: plaid tree on a gingham lawn
Finished the fleece pants I started in February.  Yay!  Love to wear them when lounging about the house.

Finished buck-a-block - a belated block for March, as well as April's block (done early).

Finished tree detail on Barnyard Play Quilt.  Next month's piece: the pigs!  Slow and steady progress on this, right?  One little detail per month.

Finished two items on the mending pile: elastic in a pair of jammie pants, and dyeing a too-pale flirty skirt.  Also, got some elastic pre-positioned in a pair of dress pants.

Before & after dye job: love the new flirty skirt in warm brown

Discarded two UFOs: one a pullover-sweater-into-cardigan remix, and one a droopy blouse that I was vainly trying to make fitted.  Better off gone, I say.

Log cabin blocks for t-shirt quilt: note some centers are t-shirt logos
Re-started sewing on Sweetie's t-shirt quilt.  While I am excited to be making visible progress on one of my many WIPs, I realize I am completely ignoring the quilting step on other almost-finished items that are patiently waiting in their safety-pinned-together state.  And one of those neglected quilting steps was supposed to be my major goal for March... 

Oh well.  Gotta work on the things that inspire me, because this is my hobby after all.  Not meant to be stressful or feel like work.

Completed projects this Month:  2
Completed projects Year to Date:  5
New projects this Month:  0
New projects Year to Date:  3
Discarded/donated projects (farewell!):  2
Net Project Count for 2012:  -4

I'm not setting any goals for April.  Just want to sew as the spirit moves me.  (Oh, and get those pigs done for the Barnyard.)