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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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Complete Quilter-- on Home Shopping TV!

I just found this...  British home shopping TV did a segment on The Complete Quilter (UK edition of Get Started Quilting)...
Click the image below then check out the video on the left hand side.  Pretty cool!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, July 20, 2015

I had such and amazing time at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show last weekend...  It was super cool to finally be there and to see my quilts on display all over town.


Travel Quilts #2 and #3 were hanging and they looked so... intricate from across the street or down the block.  I guess I forget that I stitched them from 1.5" diamonds?  


I had 3 other quilts in the show too, maybe I'll post about them later, I want to keep the focus on EPP today.  Of course I found some time to work on Travel Quilt #6 that weekend:

and got in a bit of stitching on TQ#5 during the car ride too:

I'm back home in NY now, but omg, I am SO in love with Oregon.  The quilt shops, people!  The quilt shops alone are reason enough to buy plane tix and rearrange your schedules to get out there.  And I didn't even make it to that many (4 maybe?).  It was enough, though.  I came home with an extra suitcase (I had to carry the 5 quilts...) and probably around 20 yards of fabric.  Quilting heaven, I'm telling ya...

I have cut up a bunch of new fabric for hex-diamonds and I hope to get some stitching done throughout the rest of the summer.  I'm also working on some big machine pieced projects though, so I've got to balance my time.  Yesterday it was just plain too hot to quilt.. maybe this week I can convince the kids to hang out at the public library for a while (or anywhere else with free air conditioning?).

Now it's your turn.  Who has been making progress on their EPP this week?
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, July 13, 2015

One last apple core post and then I'll go back to other shapes (I've got pentagons, triangles, half hexies and hexies in my bag as I type this..)

I really got into apple cores while I was preparing for the blog hop over the last 2 weeks, I totally took enough photos for 3 blog posts and couldn't fit them all into my hop post, so today I want to show you guys the ultra-cool acrylic (fussy) cutting template I got from paperpieces.com

 First you take off the brown paper backing and then use the inner lines to center your fussy cut.
(can't get this pic to load right side up, sorry fox and bunny!)
 I used a 28mm rotary cutter to slice the outside curves around the acrylic template.  Then I took a pencil and traced around the inner curves, which I cut out by hand with my fabric scissors.  I tried to cut the inner curves with the blade, but on the 3" apple core template it was too tight.

For the drawstring bag in my last post, I only fussy cut one print (I wanted to focus on these little Timeless Treasures bunnies), but these acrylic templates come in most sizes for the EPP shapes that paperpieces.com offer.  (I have the pentagon and hexagon ones already)  Whatever your project, this little tool is going to be useful.

I'm scheduling this post ahead of time in case I don't have good wifi in central Oregon.  If I get a chance to update with my EPP progress from the weekend, I will.  If not, I sure hope you guys will link something up this week~

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Apple Cores!!! All Points Patchwork Book Tour






This is my stop on the Apple Core leg of the All Points Patchwork book tour~




If you have not yet seen this thick and amazing book by Diane Gilleland, please check it out.  Let me warn you though, it is HEAVY.  (in a good way)  Diane covers so many possibilities for EPP-- numerous template shapes and construction methods.  Even for someone who's been addicted to doing EPP for years (like me), there are inspiration and ideas in here that I probably never would have stumbled upon, so set was I in my ways.  Thank you, Diane, for putting in the effort to make your ideas so clear to us, and for writing a beautiful book and I'm very happy to own and recommend.

I wanted to try curved EPP but I knew I was a little scared and that there would be a learning curve (hehe).  For my project on this Apple-a-Day Hop, I decided to combine strips of apple core patchwork with Jeni Baker's Drawstring Bag, which I've made a bunch of times and knew I could trust the pattern enough to play around with it.  (If you haven't tried Jeni's bag pattern, I highly recommend it-- there's a free tutorial on her blog.  If you'd like it in different sizes, the pattern is available in her shop)

I was completely unfamiliar with curved patch English paper piecing so I had to read that section in All Points Patchwork a few times to wrap my head around it.  I figured out basting pretty quickly, though the thought of basting through the papers and having to cut it out later kinda made me queasy.  (you think I'm kidding?  removing the basting at the end was terrifying!).  Soon enough the rhythmic stitches took over and I was hardly thinking about it.  When it came time to join them together though.. I felt like a fish out of water.  Thankfully, the book explains how to adjust your usual whip stitch to adapt to the curves.  I gave it a try, but half the time I ended up doing some sort of whip stitch/ladder stitch combination.  This was a practice project, a learning piece.  I wasn't too concerned with how my stitches looked on the front or the back, I was just curious how to do it.. trying to find the method that worked for me the best.  I guess I'm one of those people who can read the instructions over and over but it doesn't make sense til I get my hands on it, you know?


Thankfully, I figured it out.  I realized too late that I was clipping my inner curves too deep, but this bag won't get too much wear and tear, so I'm not going to worry about it.  Next time around I'll be more careful.  I pieced two strips of 5 x 2 apple cores and then pressed the heck out of them and started removing the basting stitches.




Diane's right, with curves, your iron becomes your best friend.  I was so so scared when removing the templates.  I thought my seam allowance would flop all over the place.   The iron made a sharp crease though so with some gentle coaxing, the curves stayed curvy and the seam allowances stayed generally where I wanted them.
(I'm visiting friends this week and their kitty was very curious about my patchwork.. )
In order to adjust the drawstring bag pattern to incorporate my EPP segments, I laid out the fabrics I wanted to use and fiddled with the measurements a bit.  When I thought I had it right, I top stitch appliqued the EPP to the other fabrics in a row (just as Jeni's tutorial does with the main and accent fabrics), leaving about 1/2" seam allowance under the EPP parts.  I used lots of pins and my ruler and cutting mat to keep things straight.


Before assembling the bag, I trimmed the extra EPP flush with my bag fabrics and made sure to back stitch at all seam crossings when I sewed it together.


I followed the tutorial as written to complete the project and it came out just as I had imagined!  I'm so so happy I tried curved EPP!  And it was really satisfying to make a small project, not just jump into another huge long-term hand pieced quilt (yes, Travel Quilts #4, 5 and 6 are still under way..).

Are you ready to try curved EPP and maybe even some Apple Cores?

You can order Diane's book here
Get apple core templates (or practically any other shape) from paperpeices.com
and don't forget to visit all the other stops on the Apple-a-Day hop too!



There is a little giveaway as part of the hop too.. if you comment on this post (international entries welcome!) you will be entered to win a pair of Clover Patchwork Scissors.  Aren't they cute?  Giveaway closes midnight on Sunday, July 12.
(this is a Rafflecopter giveaway )

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I am headed off to Sisters today for my Quilters Affair class with Sarah Fielke!
Please pop over to my instagram feed (@jessica_alex) for a play by play of my time in quilting utopia!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, July 6, 2015

I'm getting a little better with these guys, slowly but surely.

I've got basting down and I've started piecing them together.  Once you get into a rhythm it's fun, but not mindless yet.  I think I have been clipping my inner curves too deep..
I pieced almost all of these units together and I want to make it three times the size.  I basted a few more this weekend, but didn't grab a full count.  less than 20, I think.

I've got a new sewing partner too-- I'm visiting friends in Oregon for a few weeks (headed to Sisters on Friday!!!) and their oldest daughter has wanted to play with fabric and sew with me almost immediately since I arrived.  No complaints from me there!  She even made a block for Travel Quilt #6..
Tomorrow I'm taking her fabric shopping.  Can't wait to see her tastes in fabric.

Today starts the Apple-a-Day Blog Hop for All Points Patchwork.  My hop day is Friday, but follow this link to see what everyone else is making~

Apple-a-Day Hop
And be sure to link up your own EPP progress below!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Morning Star Count, June 29th

Ok, ok, ok.  You know how sometimes you think you don't like something, but then you see your friend trying it so you get curious?

I feel.. intrigued.  Scared.  but very curious..
Next week Diane is having the next phase of her All Points Patchwork blog hop, theme:
Apple Cores.

So I volunteered to participate.  I'm nuts, right?  I am not scared of sewing curves (by hand or machine), and I can EPP in my sleep, but what has me intimidated and at the same time, motivated, is the need to thread baste through the papers.  Sure, I could finally try glue basting too, but I want to give traditional thread basting a try.   If I end up with a glue stick by the end of next week, you'll hear all about it.

So I ordered templates from paperpieces.com and I got this really cool acrylic template (I'll explain more in my blog hop post on the 10th).  I cut up some fabric and gave it a shot..



What surprised me at first was that it takes a long time to do this... I think I've just got so much experience with diamonds and hexagons (and cutting the patches with a ruler and rotary cutter) that having to slow down and cut out no more than two patches at a time just felt like it was taking forever.  My initial attempts at basting went pretty slowly too.  I think it took me about 35-40 minutes to baste these 4 templates while chatting with a friend.  I know things will speed up the more I do, but for now.. hmm.  it's not as bad as I feared.  The thread basting is calm and soothing, quite enjoyable, so long as you're not in a rush.  My blog hop project idea calls for maybe 40-50 apple cores so I've got a ways to go yet.  I'll let you know how it goes..

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