Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WIP Wednesday Share

Oh man, I've been so busy today I almost forgot to share.  First of all, I'm so sad to say that I was so busy yesterday I missed a really cool webinar I had signed up for.  I was really looking forward to it, too. But I'm pretty sure it will be on the website so I can watch it, just can't ask questions - Rats!  And I always have questions...

I also finished "Drops of Jupiter," binding and all.  I'm really happy about that one.  I did a little something different with the binding and I'm really pleased with it.   I don't have a photo, though, no time.

I did start on my tree, which I've been dying to work on.  I was reading a blog by Terry Aske and she is doing a series of trees.  It reminded me that I've really been wanting to do trees, too, as I am a complete tree freak.  But I have been looking and thinking for a long time and until recently couldn't come up with anything.  BOOM - the universe stepped in, and now I have several ideas, so what the heck, I'm going to do them all...Here is the sketch/template for the first one:

 I'm so excited about this; I'm using aboriginal fabrics for the trunk, that's all I know - haven't figured out the canopy yet...but one step at a time, right?  Anyway, that's my WIP Wednesday.  


And if anyone is taking the tutorial, I published a second part yesterday.  Let me know, please, if anything is confusing or just plain WRONG!  I strive for perfection, but haven't reached it yet, ever!

Also, check out yesterday's blog, "Give Us This Day Our Daily Walk,"  it has some good info!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Give us This Day Our Daily Walk...

It's been a while since I've written a "real" blog entry; I've been so busy, but I want to share something I heard recently on NPR.  On the program, there was a brilliant poet named Arandatti (not sure of the spelling), an anthropologist from Belgium, and a neurologist who studies creativity (I'm sorry I can't remember his name!) and they were having a lively and interesting discussion about different aspects of creativity and the brain and such which I thoroughly enjoyed, but at one point in the program, the neurologist got a chance to speak for one minute on how he would change the world. He said that if he could change the world, he would make taking a daily walk mandatory for everyone - and not just for the health benefits. 

It turns out that walking enhances creativity as well.  Apparently our mind/brain wanders freely when we walk, and often it takes us places and makes connections that we might not have made without the walking and it helps us think more creatively in general!  Not only is is kind of cool in itself - but oddly enough, just two days before I had made a promise to myself to do just this!  Coincidence?  I think not.  I know it was the universe talking to me and for once, I heard it loud and clearly!

Allow me to elaborate.  I live on a ranch in Central Texas.  We have some interesting winter weather here. I say interesting; in fact the winters are generally highly entertaining here - one never knows what one is going to get.  But some years seem more extreme than others. This year is one of them. 

Anyway, after several pretty wet and bone-chilling days, we had some amazingly beautiful weather last week - clear, sunny skies, temperatures in the high 70' I decided to take advantage of it and go for a walk, just to feel the sun on my skin.  At one point during my walk, I thought to myself, 'I live in such a gorgeous place - why don't I take a walk every day?  I must be nuts not to take advantage of these amazing surroundings more.  I need to enjoy this place - otherwise why live here?'  So I resolved to take a daily walk no matter what crazy weather we have, even if it's just for fifteen minutes. This walk would be in addition to any exercising I do, not in place of exercise, although the two can be combined. So the pace doesn't have to be fast; in fact, it can be downright slow and contemplative - whatever seems right in the moment.  

Then I heard this NPR show and it was an Oprah "AHA!" - meant to be.  

Taking a daily walk sounds like a no-brainer, right?  But here's the thing about these walks that might turn some people off.  According to the neurosurgeon, there are some parameters.  You see, you aren't allowed to take a phone or an ipod or any device with you on your walk. It's just you, your feet, and the great outdoors.  Otherwise you won't be freethinking or mind wandering or whatever he called it and you won't get the same effects. (He didn't get into whether one has to be in nature or if it works in the middle of the city, but I'm guessing it doesn't matter where, but nature is probably preferable is possible - fewer distractions...don't know for certain though.) 

Being without a device is definitely not a problem for me, as I had already decided not to take phone or music with me anyway because I didn't want to be distracted.  And - as my friends will undoubtedly point out, I'm not all that plugged in anyway - I usually can't get to my phone when someone is calling because I'm upstairs working and I've forgotten to bring my phone with me, or vice versa, or I forget to charge it...a rather hopeless case, I'm afraid. (Although I do get back to them when they leave messages, and I answer texts and emails all the time. I DO!)

To some, it might be a deal-breaker to be unplugged for any amount of time, but I'm so IN! I love anything that has so many benefits - Vitamin D, alone time, exercise and movement, enjoyment of the outdoors AND a creativity boost -  I think it's a wonderfully fabulous idea.

 I wonder if the neurosurgeon guy thought of it while he was on a walk?

Twisted Ribbon Rainbow Tuturial Part 2

Alright, by now you should be ready to start constructing the main part of the quilt. 

But first - MEA CULPA!!!  I have to start off by making a correction to the first part of the tutorial. 

It involves the third diagonal row of purple squares.  I realized that if I had followed the pattern, it should have been three dark purples and one light purple square, so I have amended my directions.  You absolutely don't have to go back and correct this if it doesn't bother you; but I'm rather annoyed by it and wish I had caught it, so here is what to do to correct it:

Light Purple:  16 total  2 1/2" squares and 19 total half-square triangles (10 white 2 7/8" squares and 10 light purple 2 7/8" squares)

Dark Purple:  17 total 2 1/2" squares and 14 total half-square triangles (7 2 7/8" white squares and 7 2 7/8" dark purple). 

I apologize sincerely; I didn't even notice the pattern mistake until I was looking at it today, sadly.   In case you have already cut up all the squares and don't have any fabric left, I will also give the directions for the first way, too.  

Now, back to the tutorial!   

It's a little tricky to keep everything in order, and I had some seriously frustrating moments, so I'm going to share with you some tips on how I finally made it a little easier.  

1. Line up all the squares and HST's by color in order of the rows diagonally. Put the squares next to the HST's. 

 (Please note that I am using leftover squares and don't have all the colors; this is just to give you an idea of how it looked on my table.

The order would go like this:

  •  light blue (LB), dark blue (DB)*
  •  light green (LG), dark green (DG
  •  light orange (LO), dark orange (DO
  •  light purple (LPP), dark purple (DPP)
  •  light red (LR), dark red (DR)
  •  light yellow (LY), dark yellow (DY)
  •  light pink (LPI), dark pink (DPI)
*Note the abbreviations next to the colors, I use these in the directions for sewing the rows below.

2. Pick up the squares according to the sewing directions below laying them kitty korner so they would be easy to pick up.  Each stack will have 19 squares and look something like this**:  

It's quite important to pay attention to the direction of the white of the HST's ; I messed up here several times!  They should go (and pay attention to the direction of the slashes too): white/color; solid square; color/white; solid square

**I only did about three to four rows at a time because I didn't want to have to mark them all, but you can pick up all the horizontal rows ahead of time and mark them with a piece of paper and put a pin through the stack.  I suggest putting a pin ALL the way through top and from the bottom of the stacks to hold them together.  (Learned this the hard way! ;) **

3. Sew the squares together by twos, using a scant quarter inch seam and stringing them together, in order. 

4. Cut them out and lay them on top of each other in reverse order with the first two squares on the bottom.  Be extra careful to keep them in them in the right direction! Since there is an odd number, the last one in the string has three squares instead of two.

5. Flatten or iron the seams out.  I did it open.  Yes I said open!  You can certainly flatten or iron one row all one direction and the next row the opposite direction and have the seams nest up against each other, but there are a lot of seams and I found it a pain, so for me, I just opened them all flat and matched them exactly - obviously, do whatever works best for you. ;)  

 I used this excellent roller tool, but you can iron them if you don't have this handy thing.

Just make sure you keep them in reverse order, with the row of three on the top. (If it doesn't bother you to not have them flat, you can skip this step and just sew the two-squares all together and then iron the entire row at once.)

6.  Now you have 8 joined two-squares and 1 row of three.  Starting with the row of three, begin to sew them together, adding to the left side of the three rows.  Pay attention and make sure you are never sewing whole squares next to whole squares or HST next to HST; that means you have switched the order OR flipped your two-squares upside down. 

7. Once you have a row sewn together, iron it and put it on your design wall. (I personally use a lot of starch to keep everything crisp, but it's up to you whether this works for you.) 

8. Sew together, row by row, pinning often and being extra careful to line up the seams, until you 10 rows sewn together.   Then start with row eleven and sew the next nine rows to each other row by row. 

9.  Last, sew the top half with 10 rows to the bottom half with 9 rows.  You now have most of the top complete, Hooray!

Here is the order for sewing the rows.  Please note that the rows are sewn horizontally, so it will look a little strange at first because you'll have all these seemingly random patterns on the first row or so. Remember the pattern is square, HST, square, HST - you should never be sewing a square next to a square!  

****Important to Note: Boldface below indicates a solid square.****  

 PLEASE NOTE: The first set of directions gives the sewing order for following the correct pattern of light/dark with the purples.  If you did NOT go back and cut the number of purples in today's instructions (meaning you kept the first number of purples given in the last tutorial) AFTER Row 15 below, skip down to the directions for Rows 16-19 on the bottom.  

If you DID re-cut the purples, just follow these directions below. And again, sorry for the mistake!

 Sewing Order for Twisted Ribbon Rainbow:




















Now for the directions if you did NOT go back and cut new purple squares.  





Here is a photo of the quilt.  Print it out and use it, it will help!

Is it rather challenging?  I'm not going to lie - yes it is.  But YOU CAN DO IT!  Just remember, it's the doing, not the finished product.  Be in the moment and don't try to rush, and it will go smoothly. If you get frustrated, stop and come back another time. ( And remember, I speak from experience because I didn't follow my own advice - see my blog titled " These are not my pillows..."   

These directions will be here, floating in cyber space, whenever you need them.  It's not worth not having fun. 

And please, please, please let me know if you have questions, I promise I will answer asap!

 Next time, adding the white borders and the last two rows and putting it all together.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Oy - Lots to do!

I can't say today has gone the way I planned, but it's been a good day so far.  And of course, there's still time left to get other things done as it's only 4:00 and I don't have to fix dinner tonight because no one will be home!   

Here's what I've been working on today; they are purses for two of my nieces.

I got the fabric in the mail yesterday and I just had to fiddle with it.  It's taken the entire day just to piece them because I just had to do the chevron thing, but are they cute!  I think the girls will really love them.  I love the "super girl fabric", but I don't know who made it because it was a fat quarter I got from the Fabric Shoppe (an Etsy shop) stash builder club I'm in.  

 I think today has cured me from working on purses for a while...but they turn out so adoreably, I must say. 

Got a new project I'm excited to start, too - t's a tree!  I am a tree hugger, big time, and I've wanted to do a tree, but the idea hadn't come to me yet.  The other night it hit me, and I drew the sketch and have the fabrics pulled, but I won't let myself start on it until I've finished quilting Drops of Jupiter.   

Don't know if you can see it, but I'm doing wavy lines.  I like it a lot, but I'm still thinking about what I want to do in the circles...hopefully it will come to me.  

So that's my WIP Wednesday.  Can't wait to see what everyone else is up to...


Monday, January 19, 2015

Twisted Ribbon Rainbow Tutorial Part One

Welcome to my first tutorial, on the piece below, which I call Twisted Ribbon Rainbow.  Bear with me, since it's my first attempt at a tutorial, and of course, please ask questions if something isn't clear.   

First, I want to talk a little about the design.  This is based on an art print, Bauhaus-style that I saw online.  I wish I could find more information about it, but I've been unable to do so. I just looked up Bauhaus art, images, and it is one of the things that popped up.  The print uses only two shades of blue and two shades of red.  To me, it's as much about exploring light and dark versions of color as it is about having a sort of optical illusion effect that resembles, to me (hence the quilt's name) ribbons twisting in the wind. 

I like this design for several reasons, one of which is that it seems pretty versatile.  It can be simply a contrast of two colors, it could use various numbers of prints and solids, for example, using a mainly red print and a red solid for one row, then a blue print/solid combo for the next row - still using the same seven colors, or using two shades of a color, then two shades of gray, or (my friend Karen thought of this one) using the front and back of a bright fabric (a la Kafe Fasset).  Really, the sky's the limit. The only thing that I think is really important is to have two different shades or iterations of the same colors/fabrics in a diagonal row of "ribbon."  

But in order to keep it simple, I am going to give the directions to make one just like mine because once you understand how to set it up, you can then do whatever you want with it! 

One last point - this is more of a recipe than a pattern, I think, as the entire piece consists of only two shapes: squares and half-square triangles.  What's really tricky isn't the piecing of this quilt, but the order in which the many squares must be sewn.  I spent some frustrating hours figuring it out, even with my sketch,  so I'll attempt to make the order as clear as possible when we get to that point.  

I was able to make this with scraps from my stash, as you only need between 1/4 and 1/3 yard for each color, except the white, of which you'll need 1 1/2 yards.  The squares are cut to 2 1/2 inches, and the squares for the half-square triangles are cut 2 7/8.

Cutting Instructions: 

From the white/neutral:  112   2 7/8" squares
                                          2    2 1//2" by width of fabric strips
                                          4     2 1/4" inch by width of fabric strips for binding

Cut the colored fabrics as follows, cutting the 2 7/8" pieces first.  Remember, each 2 7/8" square makes two (2) 2 1/2" half-square triangles (HST'S).  The bold number is how many 2 7/8" squares you cut, and the number in parenthesis is the total number of 2 7/8" HST's you'll need for that color. 

                      2.5 INCH SQUARES           2 7/8 SQUARES
Light Blue                   15                                       8 (16)
Dark Blue                   15                                       7 (14)
Light Green                16                                       9 (17)
Dark Green                15                                       7 (14)
Light Orange              16                                       7 (14)
Dark Orange              17                                       9 (18)
Light Purple (PP)        15                                     13 (26)
Dark Purple (PP)        18                                       4 (7)
Light Red                    16                                       7 (14)
Dark Red                    17                                       9 (18)
Light Yellow                16                                       9 (17)
Dark Yellow                 16                                      8 (15)
Light Pink (Pi)              15                                      8 (15)
Dark Pink (Pi)              16                                      8 (16)

I don't want to insult anyone's knowledge, but I'm going to go ahead and show how to make the half-square triangles, just in case there is someone who hasn't done it before. If this is old news to you by all means,skip it and get to cutting and sewing!  

1. Take a colored 2 7/8" square and a white 2 7/8" square and put them right sides together. 

2. Take a fabric marker or pencil (I use a micron sharpie for this because you won't see the mark after it's sewn and I can see it better) and a small ruler and make a diagonal line down the center of the wrong side of the white square from corner to corner.

3. If you have a quarter inch foot on your machine, place the square so that the line you marked is on the quarter inch mark on your foot.  Sew along that side, as straight as possible. (If you don't have a quarter inch foot, then you have to mark the middle line and then draw sew lines 1/4 inch to the left and to the right of the middle line and sew along them.

4. Flip the square over and put the drawn line under the quarter inch foot again.  Sew the other side of the square.  You will now have a square that has two sewn lines 1/4 inch away from the center line.  

A good trick for sewing a bunch of these at once is to match all the colored 2 7/8" squares with white and mark them all before sewing. I stack them, kitty-corner, on top of each other so they are easier to pick up and keep organized.)f Then sew one after the other in a chain, down the first side.  Cut them apart and sew in a chain again down the second side.  It goes a lot faster and even saves thread, if you are a thrifty type. 

5. Cut along the drawn line, open out the half-square and trim the little pieces off the sides.  I trim at an angle so there isn't as much bulk at the seams,  and then I  press the seams open for the same reason. 

So there is the cutting and the making of the HST's.  It only took me a couple of hours to get it all cut out, which made me happy.  The sewing takes a little longer...but with good music on, it's quite pleasant.  

Please let me know if there you have any questions on any of the how-to's on this post.  

In part two, I explain the order of sewing - this will be very helpful; you will have a list and you can just follow it.  Otherwise you will have to spend a lot of time figuring the sewing order out yourself (I did this because I was making the pattern up and believe me, you'll like it when you have the directions in front of you...). 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Enjoying WIP's in the Moment

It's that time of the week - WIP  Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

 Here's what's on my front burner:

I still haven't started quilting Drops of Jupiter - mainly because I'm not one hundred percent sure how I'm going to quilt it.  Sometimes quilting is so obvious to me, but sometimes, as in this case, I'm just not sure what kind of quilting would be best.  I know it doesn't have to be showy, because the fabric and the design are the the thing.   And it can't be heavily quilted because that would be a waste for the same reasons.  But I gotta think of something...

Oh oh oh - it just came to me - I'm going to do a starburst pattern starting in the middle, among other things.  That will work, I think.  Hmmm -there's something about writing things down that always helps clarify ideas for me. 

The second thing I'm working on is another purse:

I found these jelly rolls of 2 1/2 inch fabrics for $9 at Wal-Mart - they are so neat!  I use them with my various nieces and nephews when they come to sew with me, because they are already cut.  They work for these patchwork purses nicely, too.  I was going to just do one meet in the middle chevron, but now I'm going to do a bunch of chevrons.  (Man, these purses have me HOOKED!  I am having so much fun creating them.) 

Isn't it great to always have something going?  I love that about art.  Of course, I strive to enjoy what I'm doing in the moment but at the same time, I know that there's something to look forward to as well.  Come to think of it - this is true for life in general as well, isn't it?  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

WOOOO HOOO! A New Addiction...

Oh me oh my - I've discovered a new world of creating...all because of a little tutorial at Sew Mama Sew on making patchwork purses.  I've now made three and I can't wait to start another one.   Making these bags puts the fun in functional, baby.

I must admit I was reluctant to join in the purse making party (no idea why, really - just didn't know it was a rockin' blast I guess) and I realize I'm late once again, but boy oh boy do I plan to make up for lost time.  I'm dancing on top of the table with my purses swinging.  Here's what I've got so far:

First purse - followed the prescription exactly:

Second purse - African fabric scraps, of which I seem to have an endless supply.  I made it a little bigger and added a zipper pouch in the middle:


Third purse, and my favorite so far:

They aren't exactly fancy, but they are just so pleasing, and fun, and versatile (not to mention washable)! Now I get why people are doing this.  It's an absolute blast, and a great way to use scraps and small pieces of batting, and too - the odd hour or so when I don't have anything major to work on. Now that I see how this party is, I think I will stay - maybe for like - EVER!

The coolest thing is that there are so, so many different bags to choose from on Sew Mama Sew.  (Which I realize many of you already knew, but I didn't, okay?  What matters is that I do NOW.)  Anyway, I love this site, and I want to say thanks to Kristin and Beth for their cleverness and for sharing.

This is gonna be awesome!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Stash!

Oh so fun - I found these charms squares called Ombre Dots by QT Basics.  I don't normally buy such small amounts of fabric, but let's face it - I LOVE DOTS!  I wanted to be able to remember them so I can order half-yards or yards later...and I'm pretty certain I can come up with an idea or two for the squares, too.

This weekend was extremely cold, which meant inside time, which means, of course, sewing!  I completed this - I'm calling it Drops of Jupiter.  Just have to figure out how to quilt it now...

It's been pretty fun to make; I'm in love with the fabrics, some of which are from Robert Kaufman, some are leftover from my excellent mother's stash, and I'll have to look up the other one or two because I can't remember where they came from, but I like the mix a great deal.

More later, I have to dash, just wanted to share my Sunday Stash...and look at everyone else's at Molli Sparkles and Red PepperQuilts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Unlike a lot of my fellow quilters, I got zero art time during the holidays, for various reasons, which was fine.  But now I am eager to jump back in and get some new projects going, so today I'm joing the WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced

trying to finish a couple of pieces.  The first is my quilt that is going to Quiltcon, called "Happy."

I'm so excited to be a part of the show - I cannot wait to see everything.   The piece is complete, but there are several things that need to be done before I can pack it up and send it off:

First, I need to add a hanging sleeve,

then I need to add a label.  I keep going over it, looking for imperfections or problems, but in my heart I know it is what it is, and I need to let it be.  I just want people to be glad to look at it, and notice only the way it makes them feel  (Hopefully, happy!), not errors.

Last, I want to steam it - I made it this summer and it has been folded up in a special shelf - I know it will have to be folded to mail, but I figure I will steam it and get out all the kinks, and then I have to let it go!

Next I am finishing a piece that I started just before the holidays and was obsessed with - I don't have a name for it yet; for now I'm calling it Ribbon Rainbow, but that is a little cutesy for me, so I'll probably change it.  I just added the binding and now have to cut many, many strings off of the back - a rather annoying task as I always seem to miss some, no matter how hard I try to find them all...

This piece is a bit of a departure from my normal style, I know - I almost never do repeat-type squares.  It's hundreds and hundreds of half-square triangles and 2 1/2 inch squares, but I admit, I love it!  I also can see so many different iterations of it - I'm thinking of doing a tutorial on it, so I can make another.  If anyone out there is interested in this, by all means let me know and I will do it.  I think it might make a sellable pattern, even.

I counted how many projects I started and completed last year - it came to a whopping 21!  Unless I have forgotten a couple, which is entirely possible.  So that's more than one per month, which amuses me and also shows how driven/obsessed/crazy I am.  This year promises to be no less inspiring, but I'm going to keep better track, I think.   I turned 50 on Monday, and I feel so grateful to be here and so full of ideas...every day I wake up excited to get going!  Every day getting a new chance to get "it" right - and by "it" I mean - well, everything.  Of course it is a ridiculous goal - I don't think I'm actually going to reach it - I'm just going to keep trying. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Feeling and Sharing the Love

Well, Amy Garro of 13 Spools thanks so much for your fabulous idea of giving the love - I've been so inspired by so many people myself this year!  And you, my cyber friend, are one of them!  So thanks so much for all that you have shared.

Quilters tend to be so generous - with their ideas, their discoveries, their fabrics - sometimes I think other organizations (yes politicians, I'm talking to you!) should take note of the way quilters help and support each other - they might actually be able to solve a few problems....

This year I've discovered so many different bloggers, and I have to give credit to Amy at Amy's Creative Side first for this - her Blogger's Quilt Festival opened up a new world for me.  I feel like I've discovered a bunch of new friends who inspire me and share my endless fascination with's like a perfect little world where everyone speaks the same language, but has enough of his or her own accent to keep it interesting!

Marianne at The Quilting Edge is literally a source of wonder for me - I am in complete awe and constant fascination with all that she does, and I thank her profoundly for sharing her sheer genius with us.

Another artist I follow is Weeks Wringle at Craft Nectar, (among other places).  Her thoughtful, artistic approach to creating is inspiring in so many ways!

I fell in love with Ann Sullivan of Quilt Design a Day after her MQG webinar; same goes for for Cheryl Arkison's Dining Room Empire.  Oh and Carrie Bloomston at Such Designs, too!

Then there are Melissa of Happy Quilting and Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts - I thought I was prolific but the output of these two ladies is formidable!

Last I'm going to mention Hillary at Entropy Always Wins.  I've recently discovered this blog and I have to say that I feel Hillary is a kindred spirit - I pretty much LOVE everything she makes!  I'm amazed she finds the time to make everything she does, working as an ER doc and being a mother and I wonder if she ever finds time to sleep.  I think she pretty much illustrates the passion we quilters have for creating - it's far more than a hobby, that's for sure!

There are so many amazing teachers, creators and thinkers out there - these are only a few of the bloggers and artists I follow - it might get boring and more than a little long if I kept going...but I'm here to say to all - we should definitely keep going because our art is only getting better and better.

I'm looking so forward to Quiltcon this year and can't wait to meet some of you guys.  And even if we don't meet - I hope you'll still continue to share your brilliance and enthusiasm and kind generosity - it makes the world a cozier, better place.