Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, August 24, 2015

This weekend I spent time cutting patches for a new project-- Pentagons.
I'm working on something for the All Points Patchwork Halloween blog hop.  It's turning out super cute so far, I'm really excited.
 

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Finally, improv

Life is busy, I feel like I'm hopping weekend to weekend, the month just flies by.  So many ideas, plans, hopes, disappointments.  We're making it through the best we can and as always, I'm clinging to making to keep me sane.
I'm listening to Tori Amos on Pandora and watching dark ominous clouds roll in over my laundry hanging out to dry.  This weekend I put in a new rotary blade and cut into a stack of fabrics that's been waiting patiently for me all summer.  Connecting Threads sent me some of AmandaJean's new line, Good Neighbors and I'm putting together some of the improv blocks from Get Started Quilting to show off both my blocks and her fabric.
Today I made stars--

This is the Starry Night block from p. 106 of my book.   A big wonky star with a little one nestled in up close.  This is one of my absolute favorites from the book and I'm so happy I get to used it in this project.  I took several of the light background and white prints from Good Neighbors and put them on a background of Patriot Blue solid (also Connecting Threads).  One of my quilters-for-hire, Gilma, discovered that if you make four of these blocks and rotate them, you get a sweet ring of stars (her version can be seen on p. 109) so I tried that out and I'm pretty happy with the result.
Next comes more improv blocks, yay!  I really hate measuring and I get an odd sense of pleasure from trimming up the unplanned into usable units of patchwork.  This is just the type of chaos I needed this weekend.
I'm heading back to the hospital with my EPP tonight for a visit.  I prepped a new project to take, progress shots to follow on instagram (@jessica_alex).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, August 17, 2015

Sometimes life gets a little... life-y.
And all you can do is move forward.  Do what needs to be done.  You cling to the things that you know because there is so much all of the sudden that you don't know.
Last week I got a message from a very dear quilting friend that she was in the hospital.  Cancer.
It was my first time ever getting that call directly.  I was unprepared for my emotional reaction.  There was shock, and a need to be present for her.  So I did what I knew how to do-- I picked up my sewing kit and drove to the hospital..



She'll be in for a while.  Some infections delayed the chemo treatment but finally things got underway and seem to be doing well in the initial stages.  I can't say too much here, to protect her privacy, though she did say I can blog about our hospital room sit and sew sessions.  She even took a pic of me for this blog post..
I'm just plugging away at Travel Quilt #5.  I joined the sections that were left flapping and started  in on more small sashing strips so I can get another chunk of diamonds together.  I'm off to the hospital again tonight for a visit so if the lighting is good, we'll piece some more.  Piece calm.  Piece quiet.  Enjoy each other's company.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Gotham Quilts' Yuma Blog Hop!

I did it!  I am so proud of having this quilt top done.
Forgive the ugly indoor classroom photo!  I brought it to school today because our campus is gorgeous, but couldn't find anyone to help with a photo shoot during lunch!  Here, this is one from my backyard yesterday..

You know, the more I look at this, the more I like it.
I love these fabrics, and the pattern is really striking, but, if you've been following my quilt journey for any length of time, you'll know that this was a big step outside my comfort zone.   Choose only 16 fabrics.  Cut all the pieces first.  Cut triangles on the bias before sewing..  Ah.  well, when I saw Ivete and Andrea with their sample quilt at the NYC Metro Mod meeting in June, I was bitten? kissed? by this quilt.  I really wanted to give it a try.  I'll admit, it was the thrill of the Quilt Along that lured me in initially, and the promise that I could use up large amounts of stash fabric quickly..
Plus I wanted to see if I could handle the challenge.  And, so long as you don't call the quilt police, I did pretty well.

 Look look, I even got a large amount of my points to match (enough for me).

So, about the pattern..
If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it.  If you are not experienced with triangles, you will learn so much.  Go here, download it for free now.
Now, I am not a pattern follower.  While complaining about that earlier this week, a good friend said, "But you write them so well!"  and I love her for the compliment, but the truth is, I feel much more comfortable with wiggle room, with space for error and growth, happy accidents.  I'm an improv quilter through and through.  That said, we all need to push our boundaries sometimes.  And one of the reasons I felt confident to take that risk here was that Andrea Deal is an amazing technical quilter.  I trusted that if anyone could guide me through untread forest, it would be her.  I was not disappointed.

This pattern is so well written, great for a visual learner.  Everything is color coded with fabric swatches so you can get your fabrics to end up where you want them.  There are even images of what will go wrong if you don't piece your triangles correctly.  I was SO impressed to see that step!  Saving us all the trouble of making the mistake on our own (you know you were going to.. it just happens).  The blank pattern is available on the Gotham Quilts blog so you can play around and color out your ideas before cutting any fabric.  And the shop owners are so kind and attentive.  I didn't ask questions along the way, but I'm sure you could.

I should note that I lengthened the original pattern by adding rows to the top and bottom.   I like the size, but have no idea how to quilt it.  I think I'll let it sit a while and then brows the #yumaqal hashtag on instagram to see what other quilters are doing with theirs.  Suggestions welcome, of course.

Monday Morning Star Count, August 10, 2015

One lonely side filler piece.

That's all I managed last week.  Sometimes projects speed forward at a quick step, other times they inch along, one inch hexie at a time.

I like this little side unit.  I cut 3 castle towers from a scrap of Lizzy House, left over from the back of TQ#2.  The yellow was a scrap I salvaged from a bin at my workshop with Sarah Fielke in Sisters (now there's a blog post I should write..).  Small but powerful, this unit.  Good memories in there.

What have you done?
(I also made, um, and entire quilt top in a weekend, just about.  Watch for that post later today)
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Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, August 3, 2015

Ooh, I didn't schedule this post ahead of time and now it's Monday afternoon.  No worries though, I have done MORE than enough piecing this week to make up for it.
Just look at these...

These are all the hexies I have freed by joining more units and more sashing strips.  BTW, next time I say, "Oh, I'll just add sashing to my EPP project" someone shake some sense into me.  The progress here is sooo deceiving.  The units get done, but the assembly just takes forever.  I am absolutely loving the look though.

In other news, today is the last day of my summer break and tomorrow I'll head back to work and my sanity saving routine of 10 minutes of EPP per day (not the 2+ hours I must have put in every day the last week).  Small progress, big smiles.
What have you accomplished since last post?

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, July 27, 2015

Travel Quilt #5 got a lot of attention this week..
I've been home with the kids for the last bit of my summer break so I stitched at the library, in the yard as Jack played play-doh, on the couch with George as he played games on my tablet... (my phone was never around to take action shots though)
And by the weekend, I was ready to stitch two large sections together.

I made enough sashing strips to go along a diagonal row of hex-diamonds so I attached that to the smaller section first before joining the row to the bottom segment of the quilt top.  I didn't want the weight of the sections to pull too much as I was stitching so I lined up my hexies and joined the segments from the middle, working my way to either end.

I have laid out the remainder of the top row a hundred times but never get around to piecing it to the strip.. I decided this weekend just to join what I had so I could free up templates and not worry so much about color placement decisions (what comes after the brown hex-diamond has changed several times.. most recently I want to use a purple unit which isn't actually pieced yet...)
 I like how it looks so far.  I have a stack of completed hex-diamond units (sorry, didn't count them before the post) but they all seem to have a very similarly toned outer ring.. I think this bottom corner is so colorful, and then the rest are going to be low volume/white prints?  Yes, I'm getting frustrated with this a little.  I want to make progress but it's slow.  The units are easy enough to get done, but the sashing and assembly keeps tripping me up.  Didn't trip Jack though, he had a great time spinning around on it during my photo shoot.

I'm sure there will be much more time for EPP this week.  What were you able to get done since last time?  Show us!!

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