Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Miscellaneous Block Parade

Right here, right now:  backlog of completed quilt blocks.

I have made several blocks over the past months (true confession, almost a year); many of them have passed thru my hands and on to others.  This is just me pausing to take note of what got done, what learning took place, and where are they now?

Guild Block, paper-pieced

This block was finished last fall; my quilt guild is doing a different kind of BoM this year.  Made from stash (woot!) in a 12" version that is paper-pieced.  Called New Star, this original block design is from Marcia Hohn's Quilter's Cache.  I was not able to get the paper-piecing templates to print out at the correct size, so I ended up re-drafting them on Carol Doak specialty newsprint.  (Drafting a paper-piece pattern is definitely a new skill for me.)  I really like this block, but won't say I'm a huge fan of paper-piecing that requires lots of repetition.

Challenge Block: pink + gray

You might think, "Pink + gray blocks? Sounds kinda modern."  But you would be mistaken.  Much like the yellow + gray challenge from Quilt Retreat two years ago, the crowd that attends this particular retreat skews toward the traditional: calicos, reproduction fabrics, muddy colors, and well-known block patterns.
 Can you guess, from the challenge blocks here, which one(s) might be mine?  As always, I use the challenge parameters to try something new.  This time, I used a foundation muslin to make the traditional Grandmother's Fan block.  This was only my 2nd time making curved seams, and using the pre-marked muslin under the fabrics was like having training wheels for the circular piecing.  I chose to put a single 6" fan on point within the 12" finished block.  The extra negative space makes it feel more modern.
I also added a couple gray quarter-circles in the corners: just a bit more practice with those curved seams!

Block of the Moment: Kaffe Fassett pinwheels

At the end of 2016 I joined a 2nd local quilt guild, in nearby Alameda.  They offer a Block of the Moment, since it is not a monthly occurrence.  If you purchase the fabric pack and bring back completed blocks the following month, you are in the drawing to win all the blocks.  I picked up this pack because of the cute Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  The instructions make a pair of blocks, with pinwheels spinning in opposite directions.  Didn't win, but here are my charming blocks!

Block of the Moment:  scottie dog

C'mon, have you seen any basic pieced block so darn adorable?  This appears to be a slight variation on the 10" scottie dog block available from Quilter's Cache.  Super simple, just squares and half-square triangles.  CUTE!

Class Sample: drunkard's path variation

One side-effect of teaching a block-of-the-month class is that I end up with all sorts of samples.  We made Drunkard's Path blocks this spring in the Circles BoM group.  Some Japanese fabric scraps given to me in January made the step-outs I used when teaching the class.  Afterwards, I put them together with squares in a pattern called Ornament, from the book A Quilter's Mixology: Shaking Up Curved Piecing by Angela Pingel.  No current plans for this block, but it is lovely, don'cha think?

Challenge Block: blue & white

Most recent block completion was another Quilt Retreat challenge.  I used the opportunity to try out a single block from the pattern Urban Nine-Patch, using the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  I had not tried the QCR yet, although I own three different patterns that use it.  And I knew, from watching my sewing sisters struggle with the Urban Nine Patch, that this particular pattern might be a bit challenging.  Why not make a single block (which just happened to finish at the required 12" square) and try out the technique before committing to an entire quilt?

Wellll, it took me most of a day   Seriously, like 6 hours to make One. Single. Block.  Good news: I made the block entirely from stash.  Also, it was not difficult to use the QCR.  But, God Almighty, what a complicated pattern.  I might attempt a table runner or something, but no Urban Nine-Patch quilt will be coming from me.  Lesson learned.

Eye Candy: my sewing buddy Lou pulled out the Urban Nine Patch she had been hiding all weekend to have her moment in the spotlight during Show & Tell on the final day of retreat.  Isn't it stunning?!  All the more so because I saw how much work goes into each individual block.

Thar you have it: six miscellaneous blocks, only one of which is still in my possession.  But every one of them taught me lessons and improved my skills.  What new things have you learned lately?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Goals from March? Yes, please

My Finish-it February March blog post had me setting goals to complete 5 tasks.  Chosen out of the 32(!) pesky projects hiding in every corner of the sewing room.  How did I do?  Glad you asked...

Goals for March as seen in hindsight

1.  Finish nerdy t-shirt Pop-up  Done!
The Boy received this in the mail just last week--after it spent several weeks decorating the shop.  I have made three of these t-shirt Pop-ups, pattern & springform from the Fat Quarter Gypsy folks.  They are a great way to display a t-shirt (or three), and make something useful in the process.  I have several more in the dreaming phase, but no plans to actually work on any of them this summer.

2.  Finish kimono wallhanging  Rethinking...
Wallhanging (left) and Placemats

After having this incomplete sample hanging in the shop, I realized that I didn't love the fabric combination.  I am getting the feeling that I often make poor fabric choices when it comes to value.  Have you heard the quote, "Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work?"  I removed it as a class sample as soon as I could; this wallhanging is in time-out until I can figure a new fabric combo that I actually love.

3.  Finish kimono placemat  Done
So, my "least important" March goal was completed?  Why yes, I used the more attractive kimono placemat as the class sample to advertise my April class, after abandoning the ugly "not catchy" wallhanging.

4.  Finish blocks for Circles Block of the Month  Done
Finished this in May!  One advantage of not posting at the end of March, I guess.  Stay tuned for the flimsy this summer (and maybe even a completed quilt in 2017).

Improv circle block: my first ever improv curve
5.  Finish Grandmother's fan pillow  Ha!
So darn close to being done: just need to put a back on it and stuff that pillow form inside.  And yet, this one just sits...  Not even on the ToDo list for summer.

The good news is: I got things done!  I will not abandon my list-making and goal-setting, even when I go astray or let things stay on the list for months at a time.  Things happen, projects get sewn, and life goes on.

Some of us just choose to put our goals out there in public.  How about you?