Drowning in Fabric

Forever cleaning, organizing and creating

Stack the Deck

I am taking a Stack the Deck class at my LQS right now. It looked like an interesting system, and I had a discount, so I thought it would be fun. I am glad I chose to take the class, because I didn’t find the instructions in the book very easy to understand as far as the shuffling (which actually isn’t that complicated). On the other hand, I don’t know that I would ever have heard of it if it weren’t for the class, so there you go.  I am the only one in the class not working with batiks, which I find so interesting. I suppose the pattern does lend itself more to working with color more than prints/ solids. It will be neat to see how they all turn out and differ. We are working with the block shown on the cover, however, depending on how you lay out your blocks, you can make many different patterns.

stack and whack

stack and whack

You start with many square sets of contrasting fabric. They recommend light/dark; I am using two colors. You cut them in a stack, shuffle the stack so that you have all different fabrics in each block, then sew them back together in the reverse order than you cut them. That is the shorthand description. 🙂 Then depending on how you position your blocks, you can make many different designs.

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I have no idea how to lay these out.

For homework, I am finishing 42 blocks. The instructor wanted us to do 30-36, but because of the number of fabrics I am using I will have 42. That way, I can possibly make a bigger top and/or pick and choose blocks and have extra for the back. I have 20 done now, and the above shows my first ten. Next class, we learn our layout options and start sewing the top together.

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Back on the wagon.

So, I had my machine unpacked just long enough to get my (rather tardy) mystery border block put together (Another one I really like how it came out) and then had to pack it up again for my class day today!

It’s fun to get out of the house and spend the day sewing somewhere else without interruption or “help” or distraction.  Especially after how busy, upsetting and exhausting my short time back has been (no time for sewing either!).

So I was up bright and early today to head to my LQS for my BOTM class. I have missed the last two (shame!). April because I was at Stash Bash and May because I was in FL. So, out of 6 months, I have a stellar record of finishing three of my blocks. This month we were piecing curves.

I hate templates!

I hate templates!

I don’t know why this was so stressful for me. I mean, I did a lot of clothing sewing long before I ever started quilting. I got spoiled with rotary cutting, strip piecing, HSTs from squares and the like. If I have to bother with a template or pattern or anything, really, that can’t be mass produced from rectangles or squares, I don’t want to mess with it anymore. I am really lazy I guess!

Here's my finished block.

Here’s my finished block.

I love the yellow. A couple of my seams are off, but overall a pretty decent looking block.

Then I took a little lunch break over at the mall, where I completely disregarded my (slow going) diet and ate at Wendy’s. But I got some sort of roasted flatbread sandwich instead of the whole breaded and bunned chicken, and I resisted the frosty! Then I wandered around Ross, Marshall’s, and Macy’s (when did they get so expensive?!?) looking in vain for cheap, summery maxi dresses that short fat chicks with huge boobies can wear for our upcoming trip.

Then it was back for my second class, which I have so been looking forward to. Free Motion Quilting! Now, I haven’t gotten to mess with FMQ since Stash Bash where the likes of Elizabeth and Becky told me I did a great job! Wait til you see today’s efforts. LOL. I need a lot of practice. The teacher was an absolute riot. But, like, without trying to be. Just the way she would say things was hysterical.

First we started practicing some basic lines:

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Ok. Here’s the deal with this. My thread kept jamming and breaking and stuff. So, after a stern lecture about the kind of thread I was using (oops!) I switched the pink for the brown. I was also messing with my tension a lot and stuff too. I still had problems, including running through two bobbins (!) but it went better. I couldn’t get straight lines to save my life. And those waves are supposed to be spirals.

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After passing that by the skin of my teeth, I moved on to the second assignment. This is such a mess, but I do believe you can see progress from the top to the bottom. Oh, and that’s a big loose thread on the top there that I should have removed before I took the photo. Anyway, for this we traced patterns with markers then had to FMQ on top of it. The lessons here were 1. Following a path throughout the pattern without breaking or going over thread. 2. “I am making you do marking so you realize how much you hate it and never do it again.” LOL. It has its place, I think.

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Here is the third assignment, which was really assignments 3-6. In the top two I failed miserably at doing it all in one pass. I had to go back and fill in parts I missed. Other than that, I don’t think the loop one is too bad. The bottom two I did better both in controlling, meeting at intersections, and doing it in one pass. The fourth, if you ignore the border, actually isn’t that bad.

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And this was the last assignment. She wanted us to try doing stars, daisies, fireworks and suns in a meandering sort of thing. I got into a little improv toward the end there. She told me not to go so much in rows, but I was trying to maximize space. After that I started on a stippling project (which I was really sucking at) but my bobbin ran out, then it was time to go.

I did a little shopping (bad me!). While the clearance section was seriously reduced (I missed the hot Memorial Day sale 😦  ) there were a couple new things down there I needed to get. I was bummed I missed on some clearances I had wanted, so I snapped them up. Additionally, they had this darling Storybook Lane panel all assembled, and I decided I had to have them. But there are no directions. So I am not sure what to do. Boo.

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Hey hey it’s my birthday.

More and more my birthday, much like new year, depresses me. I am getting shockingly old, yet still look, act and feel like a teenager. How does this happen? And then I start lamenting all the things I was meant to accomplish by now, and….

Enough of that. I just did some retail therapy damage at Fabric.com. Oops. Happy birthday to me.

I stayed up quite late last night suddenly inspired to finish my last 3×6 block. I had left this one so late because the person wanted “rainbow”. The block is quite an easy block… when made with two colors and all you have to do is cut squares. But I had to use 8 different colors, which meant I had to determine the size of triangles to cut. And the basic color wheel is only 6. So I had to add two more colors. It was all too much for me to deal with. So, I finally buckled down to do it. I picked my colors, plus black and white, and through a little bit of trial and error, got it assembled. I did have to do some ripping and resewing because I was stupid tired. But actually once I got past that, it went together quickly and easily and is actually a perfect 12.5 inch square. I like it a lot and am quite proud of it. Now I can wrap it up and get all these sent out finally this week. What a load off.

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I am also really pleased with my mystery border quilt. WHICH I CAN’T SHOW!! I did some paper piecing and some resizing and everything all on my own. I think it works with and balances the theme so nicely. And I am just impressed with myself that I pulled it off. It took a lot of time, but it was worth it. I really hope the person likes it.

The other night in a fit of frustration, I finally pulled down part of the baby gate around my fabric.

Excuse the mess!

Excuse the mess!

I had fabric just piled everywhere all over the floor, because it is so difficult to get to my shelves. I also find that I am less likely to sew when it actually involves me visiting my stash because the gate is such a physical barrier (it is really tall). I pulled off a section of it (the baby was sleeping and I didn’t want to risk waking him trying to take down and fold up the whole thing) and spent some time putting fabric back away. It needs some neatening and my husband even suggested I need another cube, so it must be real obvious that I am overflowing.

Here’s the thing that I find so frustrating:

I always thought I had tons of fabric. I have hundreds of dollars of fabric there. I love almost all of it. It is over flowing. I need more shelving. I want to limit myself to using fabric I already have. But if I go to pull fabric for a project, suddenly I feel like I don’t have anything useable. Case in point: I want to do the bloom bloom pow a long. I want to use fabric in my stash. But I have nothing acceptable. A large portion of my fabric is multi color. A large portion is on a white background. And almost none is tonal. I’ve also become a designer fabric snob somewhere along the way (Ugh… I remember the days when $5/yard was expensive), I have fabric that is off limits, fabric I don’t have enough of to use for whatever project, fabric that is being saved for certain projects… suddenly, all that fabric seems useless. I don’t know how to handle this without just buying more fabric. I guess I need to do some stash searching and start finding some real staples to add instead of just buying fabric because I like it… then never use it. Is this a normal problem or am I just strange like that?

Regardless, I will be able to spend a lot more quality time with my fabric without the gate barring my way now. It opens the room up a lot too, and makes it a lot less dangerous for me. I am glad to see the gate go. Just gotta keep the baby out.

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Wip Wednesday

I feel like nothing is getting accomplished. Between the cleaning, the pretty weather, the shop hopping, the mess in my sewing area…. I feel like I am doing a lot of moving around and not much doing. This weekend I finally buckled down and finished my card trick blocks: (these are bee blocks to be sent out to different people.)

Now I just have one more to finish for my pinwheel group, then these can all go out.

Yesterday, I spent the day cutting and sorting for my fat 8 swap:

We still have one person we are waiting on, then I can package these up and get them back out and take a picture of what was swapped. Then I have the polka-dot swap right on the heels of this one. We are signing up for Lizzy House Jewel print now.

My next most important project is my modern round robin block. I actually have two of them here to do, but one is due at the end of March. I have a plan for what I want to do with it (which is going to take a bit of pattern work on my part) but I have no fabrics to match one of the major colors. I wish I had realized that when I was going to 100 quilt shops last week. I thought I had some things that would work, but they are the wrong color. I can’t be more specific, sorry. 🙂  It’s a mystery! So I am going to go out to my shop this afternoon with the block and see what I can find so I can get to work on that.

Also on my to-do list is to finish my ribbon quilt top. I have picked out a rather ambitious border. I had a little fussy fit trying to figure out the directions in the book. It isn’t difficult, but it is a bit of math, and it doesn’t give actual measurements to cut so I am never sure whether it is finished measurements or actual in their diagrams. I find it very confusing. And I don’t want to waste fabric doing it wrong! I think I have it figured out though, and hopefully will get to that soon.

I have some fabric OTW to try out for my citrus theme. Yellow is impossible to find, and it is stressing me out a bit that I have a disproportionate amount of it. Once I am able to focus on it, we’ll see how it looks. I also had to buy full yards of these fabrics and won’t need anywhere near that much. 😦

My I-spy quilt is still waiting for me to attempt quilting it. I went to order a walking foot I have been considering for a while, and they are sold out now (due back in stock soon). I also want to make some smaller projects first to quilt before I attempt that giant quilt. I also want my sewing table complete for extra space and support – and comfort. Did I mention I sew standing up right now? A post for another day.

And once I get some of these things done, I will start cutting tumblers for my nephews. Hopefully those will go quickly!

I am ready to start seeing some progress!

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WIP Wednesday: Think Spring

Anyone looking at my pinterest can probably tell I am so ready for spring. I hate winter. Even though this has been a very mild winter – we’ve even been outside playing every day that wasn’t raining – it has been grey and raining a LOT. I hate rain. I hate grey. And, even with the hustle and bustle and excitement of the holidays, the time since has seemed to just drag. Not that I want time to pass, but the weather sure could. I am ready for bright blooms, sunny days, swimming pools, the warm sun on my skin, cold tea and lemonade, eating on decks, 9:30 sunsets….

So no wonder even though I have a list of things to do, all I have on the brain are the bright sunny colors I long for. I am ready to throw over the projects I have in process to start a new one, with a bright, happy, citrus color scheme.  So, I started pulling fabrics…. and I am not thrilled.

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Excuse the baby toys. This is my life.

First, I am seriously lacking in yellow. There seems to be a yellow shortage. I even looked at my LQS and didn’t find anything.

Second, I just don’t have the kind of neon citrus colors I really want to see. A few of them are, but not enough.

Third, Few of these are the kind of patterns I want to showcase in this quilt. A lot of these are the sort of low-key “background” type prints, not the show stoppers. Sadly, my show stopper showcase prints that could work, aren’t limited to these colors – they have blues or reds or pinks in them as accents, and I am really trying to keep to lime, lemon, and orange.

I guess I keep dreaming for now….

In the meantime, I am working on my sampler 3×6 group. Here is my test block:

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WIP Wednesday – 3×6 blocks

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I’ve been working the past few days on one of my 3×6 bee groups. This is my pinwheel group. I have 7 in my group, including me. I have completed 3, but may pull them apart and resew them. They are slightly large (12.75 instead of 12.5) and a couple of the outer points do not have a 1/4 inch of background extending beyond them, so they will be clipped when sewn together. I haven’t quite worked out why that is happening, but I know that I was erring on the side of too large rather than too small. Maybe I need to aim for just right? I have three more cut and partially sewn together. If my sick baby had taken a nap today, they would be done.

I realized I only have another month to get these done, and I have a whole other group I haven’t thought about yet. I think I took on a little more than I maybe should have, doing two groups. I think I will just sign up for one again next quarter. The good thing is that these are going together rather quickly, if inexactly. The longest part has been picking out the fabrics. Once I settle on that, the rest goes quick with this pattern. The seventh participant designated rainbow as her color scheme, so I am saving that for last, trying to work out how to handle it. I am going to have to cut each triangle individually, I think, and that makes me nervous for accurate piecing. My machine doesn’t like triangle corners.

At the bottom, on my ironing board, you can sort of see my basketball fabric that I am about to cut for the ABC I Spy swap. I have three letters – B, T, and G. I am using these and the boy swap that just finished to make quilts for my nephew and soon-to-be nephew. I think I have til June to get those done.

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BOM Monday: Mini Mystery send off

I have finished my mini mystery block. I have always wanted to try a pineapple block, but have been scared to try. It looked far too difficult and complicated for a relative beginner. I thought someday down the line when I was more experienced…. Well, I decided to just give it a try anyway, and that this was the perfect opportunity. I could just make one block and see how it goes.

I spent a lot of time looking at and studying pineapple blocks. I watched youtubes and read tutorials. In the end, paper piecing seemed to be the easiest and most used option. I printed out a pattern, picked out my fabrics, and set to work. I had paper pieced once before long ago. While paper piecing makes a lot of sense, and allows for some clean, accurate piecing and sharp points that may not otherwise be possible, it does have its drawbacks. First, it is terribly wasteful. It wastes paper (the patterns), thread (not really possible to chain – I tried), and fabric (you use a much larger piece than you need and trim down). It is time consuming. You have to cut, place your piece, make sure it is placed properly, pin (I have to pin), sew, trim, set and press, repeat. It did speed up as I got more comfortable and practiced. I started yesterday evening and was done by the time the baby got up at 1 am, except for removing the pattern. That is also time consuming and messy. It seems a fine and practical technique for a block here or there, but I cannot imagine doing an entire quilt this way. I suppose you could work on several blocks at a time, but that doesn’t help much with the waste issue and would still take a lot of time.

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Ultimately, I think it turned out pretty well. A few points aren’t perfect, and a few seams are a little wobbly (sewing on paper is slippery!) but I got better and quicker as I went along, and I am fairly pleased. It certainly serves its purpose for this round robin and I tackled two new things at once.

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I would still love to make a pineapple quilt someday. I think it would make a beautiful quilt. I just can’t imagine how time consuming that’ll be. This is the only time I get to post one of these til the round robin is over, so enjoy. Now I get to send it over seas to thecheshirequilter.blogspot.com  and when I see it again, it will look quite differently!

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Visit your local quilt shop day

Today was visit your local quilt shop day. I snuck out during nap time (daddy was home with kidlet) and raced out to my local quilt shop this morning. Any excuse. heehee. I wanted to see some of the demos for some classes they have coming up, but kidlet and the hubs were not having a good morning, and I wanted to get back before he woke up, and I still had to get to the PO to mail out my swap squares. They seemed to be running behind, so I did get to see the examples, but didn’t stay for the demos.

They were having some specials so I got a fat quarter pack of Lemon Grove, which I have been drooling over for a while. I have been waiting for it to go downstairs (the clearance room) but it just keeps hanging out there taunting me. Now I at least have some of it til I can get yardage. I also picked up a couple turquoise fq to make my modern mini square, which needs to go out soon. I got a yard of Kona white too. I pulled out my white yesterday to cut squares for my ribbon quilt I am going to work on next, and I had very little left. My 3×6 group used up a lot of it. Strangely, even though both are supposed to be RK Kona white, they are different shades. *shrug*

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(I forgot to take a picture of the white, but white fabric isn’t that exciting anyway, right?)

On the left is my modern BOM pack for the class I missed this month. I picked it up as long as I was there. They gave me the fabric for the block, but not the book or the background fabric. Oh well. Guess I won’t be getting that homework done. Oh, I also got a bag o’ scraps, but I had already dumped them into my scrap box before I took the picture.

They also had a lovely food spread (with yummy homemade pimento cheese). I restrained myself nicely in the clearance room. I am interested in more of their classes and looking forward to the class I am in. Now back to my mystery block, which I believe will be done tomorrow. Wish I could get it out before rates go up.

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Sunday Swap: 3×6 Quarter 4 Hive 10 blocks

This fall, I joined a block bee. This bee is different than the traditional monthly bee. In this bee, a group of about 6 people have three months to make and send blocks for each of the people in their hive. Each hive has a theme, so you have an idea of what type of block you will get, but the sender chooses the actual block within that theme. Each person give the colors they want used, but each sender chooses and uses the fabrics.

I always had a hang up about bees. I really didn’t get why people would farm out their work to others – dictating blocks and fabrics – and why they’d rather a quilt made primarily by strangers rather than one made by themselves. If you are going to spend the time making the blocks, why not make them for yourself? However, I like the setup of the 3×6 bee. Having a quarter rather than a month to get the work done affords you to work around your own schedule, especially nice in quarter 4 which is riddled with holidays. I enjoyed the “surprise” of the different blocks I got and the assortment of fabrics used. There are several fabrics people used in my blocks that I never would have known about if it weren’t for them – so it exposes you to fabrics you may not have otherwise chosen. I also got to know people all around the world. People in my group hailed from New Zealand, Netherlands, Hawaii, UK…

Here are my results from my first quarter:

Here are all the blocks I made

This was my favorite – Cobalt, black and white

Green, Fuchsia, blue

“mix of warms and cools on grey”

Aqua, white and red (I actually remade this block, but don’t have a picture of the remake.)

 

Orange, aqua, grey

Blue, green, aqua

My block: Turquoise, purple, black

The blocks I got:

Signups for quarter 1 2013 begin 1/21

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