Decisions on a Sunday Morning + News!

I'm a little late posting this one, but am linking up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching anyway!

While unpacking, I've uncovered a lot of WIPs & UFOs. I made this mini quilt ages ago, so long now I can't remember. I do remember it was my first attempt at flying geese with not the best results. All my geese were cropped!! I've never quite gotten over it and haven't made flying geese since. 

I still liked aspects of this mini, though, so when I found it I decided to back it and quilt it. But now, what to quilt it with? I picked out a few thread choices, but none seem quite right... Any suggestions?

I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so I'm not in a great rush to make a decision. 

Now for the news! Mad Cat Quilts will be having a sale starting next weekend! Just in time for xmas gifts, of course! Look for updates and the start of the sale in the blog and instagram. There will be many small items, as well as sale prices on quilts! Keep your eyes peeled!

New Block: Four Bear Paws

Well, really this is an older block as I made it quite a few month ago, now.
I was inspired my Maureen Cracknell's Bear Paw block

One day, I will iron all my blocks. Perhaps I'm waiting for a proper ironing board. Or even a table ... Right now we iron everything on a towel on the floor. 

One day, I will iron all my blocks. Perhaps I'm waiting for a proper ironing board. Or even a table ... Right now we iron everything on a towel on the floor. 

I've been lacking inspiration and motivation in my sewing lately, so I thought I'd go thru some of the WIPs I have. I'm at a stage in much of my ongoing quilts where they require a large block of time and space, and I just haven't had that recently. I'm hesitant to work on the projects that are more new and less done, bc that just means my pile of unfinished grows and grows. 

I need a vacation just for quilting! Who's with me?

I'm linking this block up with Slow Sunday Stitching by Kathy's Quilts

New Block: Sail Boat

I've seen this block or variations all over the internet. I like the nautical theme and the graphic nature. It's so cute, I thought I'd try it!

Pardon the threads and cat hair, as always!

Pardon the threads and cat hair, as always!

I really like a version that Messy Jesse did. 

I made this block with a nautical border. It works out to be about the same size as my Friendship Star mini quilt. But I'm thinking of adding more to it to be a larger quilt. 

What would you do with this oversized block?

I'm linking this hand pieced block up with Kathy and Slow Sunday Stitching today. 

All Gingham All The Time

Or, A Not Very Good Quilt. A Finished Quilt - with a story!

ag front.jpg

I heart gingham, can you tell? All Gingham All The Time uses almost all the gingham from my stash, most of it vintage. I found everything I could, from pre-cut vintage squares and on, to make a bright and cheerful courthouse steps design.

ag close.jpg

It's the largest quilt top I have made to date, all hand pieced! The backing for this quilt is a vintage gingham table cloth that my husband used in an art piece in college. It had a minor stain (something to do with apples, I think), so I cut it apart and reassembled it with a strip of pieces from the front.

ag back.jpg

When I went to baste this quilt, I saw that the top was quite a bit larger than the back, my first idea was to make the folded binding fold from front to back. Instead of back to front, the way I usually do. But  by that time I had found some more vintage gingham and was eager to add them to the quilt, as well! More Gingham!! (Don't count how many times I use the G Word in this post, please!) I added an outer boarder with the "new" pieces to the bottom. Now the bottom was bigger than the top. 

I basted the quilt with some vintage poly batting that I had. It was a very large one and left some scraps. AGATT was hand quilted with white pearl cotton thread over quite a long period of time (more on that below).  I went around the inside of each "box" of all the courthouse steps. Bc of the batting and the nature of the super soft vintage gingham, and weird fluffy texture of the vintage table cloth, this quilt is very puffy and fluffy. I didn't really try to keep it ultra smooth and tight when quilting as to add to this effect.   

For the binding I used my fold over method and bc the backing was quite a bit bigger it made a extra large fold. I quilted and secured the binding with more pearl cotton, mimicking the top by going around each side in a "box" motif. It gave the quilt a heavy, soft, floppy edge all around.  

All Gingham All The Time measures approximately  58" x 84". Almost all the cats helped me on this one, but notably Bippi (here), Tom (here, and here) and Pit (here and here). 

ag stripe.jpg

It was great weather to take photos and my husband held the quilt for me! A first! I'm linking up with Kathy and Slow Sunday Stitching to share this quilt today. All Gingham All The Time is also one of my 2015 Q1 Finish Along finishes!

And now, more to this story:

I started this quilt January of 2014. I worked diligently on it....until I hit a snag. I had made the top, was pleased with the bottom, decided to baste it with one of the vintage poly batting I had. All good so far. But when I started quilting it, I wasn't happy with the job I was doing. I'm sure all quilters run into this problem, and I'm sure they all see the two possible roads to fixing it.  1) Tear out the quilting and start again. 2) Put it out of sight and out of mind and try not to think about it (until you decide what to do). I ended up doing the latter, of course! I didn't want to rip out all the quilting I had already done. But I knew I wasn't doing my best work. 

I know that I shouldn't be telling you all this. 

I know that when one doesn't do their best, they should not alert people to that fact and take away from the enjoyment the viewer might get from the work. Perhaps the viewer didn't notice, or sees nothing wrong with the work... Perhaps they enjoy it and it's imperfections. By drawing attention to what the artist feels of as their short comings, the viewer enjoys it a little less or perhaps feels bad for liking it the way they do. I know we should not take away the viewer experience of the work. 

But, on the other hand,  It's often helpful for fellows in our craft to hear about mistakes we make, so they can learn and grow, as we have done. 

So I put the quilt aside for a while. Once I had had some space, I took it back out. It still wasn't as nice as I would like it to be, but I wanted to continue with what I had. To me, the mistakes seemed huge, and maybe they would to other quilters, too. But I would rather move on and than go backwards. I tried to be better as I moved forward. I still made some mistakes and there are still techniques that I need to learn to hone my craft. I'm looking at this quilt as not a salable or giftable quilt (maybe a second, or really close relation, who will love my work no matter what...), but as a learning experience. Not to mention I like this quilt! It's all crazy colors and bright pattern! 

On Quilting Community + Something New

Growing up, one of my best friends and nemesis was named Eleni. We were in the same homeschooling group and our moms were friends. I loved to visit Eleni's house bc she had a piano and her mom sang songs. Eleni had tall mice dolls that she made an amazing Borrowers-esque style doll house for, with acorn top bowls and stoves made out of egg containers. We celebrated cool holidays like Passover and Hanukkah. Eleni could be a brat, too, (as I'm sure I was as well) and sometimes we fought. Sometimes I was jealous of her dollhouse. We grew up and apart. Eleni became a stage actress like she always wanted. I hear she got married. Maybe she has children of her own now. 

I've been thinking of her recently. She was the only person I had ever heard of with that name. 

When I heard about Rachel's (Stitched in Color) daughter's difficult birth and the long, hard road they have ahead of them, I was heart broken. This is a person I've never met, will never meet and know only thru their website. I read all about how Rachel wanted more kids, and her struggles to realize that dream. She didn't write about it too much, and honestly, I never read those entries too thoroughly. It wasn't what I came to the site for. I certainly don't mind knowing about sewists lives, but I tend to read quilt blogs for inspiration in sewing.  
But at some point in the last few years, while reading that site for her quilting knowledge, I became emotionally invested in her life.

I was shocked at my own reaction; a tightening of the throat, and tears welled in my eyes. The only way I can explain it is that by reading these blogs, by writing them, we have formed a community. And when one member of our community is hurting, we all are. Our community fosters inspiration in sewing and quilting, but also in living, growing, and teaching. 

When I discovered Jodi's (Tales of Cloth) call to make #flowersforeleni, I felt compelled to join in, even tho I had only experimented with EPP, and never appliqued before. 

I'm linking this Something New up with  Kathy's Quilts  for  Slow Sunday Stitching  (a little late....).

I'm linking this Something New up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching (a little late....).

I must say, the results are not the best. Something went wrong with the measurements, I think.... And my applique is decidedly bunchy. But the intent of comfort was there and the prayer for healing. So I think they will do. 

I was very happy to be able to join in and feel close to the quilting community. Just as we hurt together, we heal together also. 

New Block: Fat Little Cross

I had been putting any new blocks I sew under the category Something New. You can see some examples here, here, and here. But I have been doing a lot of new blocks, and plan to do A LOT more this year. So, I think they are going to need their own heading. 

 I happened upon an image of this block on instagram and thought I'd try it! I'm not sure what this one is called. Does anyone know? 

I used some vintage precuts I had. This block is really similar to a churn dash block, but has a totally different feel. I started quilting this to make a pillow out of, which very may well fall into the Something New category. (If I ever finish it!)

Like churn dash blocks, these would be really fun chain piecing blocks on the machine. There are times I wished I used a machine for sewing, especially since one simple block can take so long! But since I only hand sew, I'm linking up with Kathy's Quilts and Slow Stitching Sunday

Something New: Little Hearts

Belated Happy Valentine's Day to all (if you're into that kinda thing)!! We don't really celebrate in our house, no fancy dinners, expensive chocolates, or bunches of red roses. But we do like hearts. Doesn't everyone?

Instagram  I took right after making my first block. 

Instagram I took right after making my first block. 

It seems like the appropriate season to post a new block I've made recently. The first little heart I made was from memory from a post by Cluck Cluck Sew. I used 4 HST and it turned out cute! 

But I decided I probably should revisit the post and see how I'd done. The tutorial was not exactly how I'd remembered it, so I made a few more blocks!

Some more wonky than the others....

We are stash busting in our house this year, so I paired the hearts, which came from very old pre cuts, with scrappy greens from the scrap bin. I was able to move 99% of that bin to 2 smaller bins, and organize, so it was a work and fun project! 
A lot of people have been following this tutorial over the last few months. Here are a few of my favorites: Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting, Random Thoughts... Do or "Di", and Film in the Fridge. And so many more I have seen, too many to find! Plus a ton on instagram #cluckclucksew.

Today, I'm linking up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday. 

Mat Finish

I can't even tell you how long ago this finish was started. It must have been several years, at least. But in early December 2014, it was finished!

As I dimly recall, this "quilt" was started by just having lovely pieces of fabric near each other and the uncontrollable urge to sew them together. I remember that these were sewn together long ago with no real plan. And I remember later forming a plan to make an insanely long quilted strip of pieces like these. That plan never came into fruition, and the top for this mat was left to the WIP bin. After being bagged, un-bagged, tossed around, etc... It eventually made it's way to a chair top for many months where Flounder became quite taken with it. 

A few months ago, I cleaned it up, tried to get as much of the cat hair off of it as I could, made a back for it, and basted it. Then it sat in a new WIP pile, for a few weeks, and was later quilted while my friend was in town. 

I had been looking for a project to do a fan style quilting on and this was perfect. Having never used a fan design, I was worried it might be hard, or slow, so starting with something small was great! The quilting actually went surprisingly fast. I used acrylic black thread for quilting the fan designs, and I think that made a difference. Acrylic really glides thru the quilt as opposed to natural thread, whcih sometimes get caught or travel slowly. The hardest part of quilting this quilt was that some of the fabric is quite dark and made it hard to see the stitching while sewing.   

The fabrics in this quilted mat are mostly new from various fat quarters, but there are also some recycled clothes and a bit of vintage. I pieced the back with most black, some old but not vintage stars, and a bit of vintage purple which was also a backing on another quilt.  The batting was also a left over scrap. Since my quilts are never any particular size, and certainly not a standard size, I seem to always have batting scraps laying about. I folded over the backing to make the binding but only did one line of stitching, where I usually do two. This is partly laziness on my part, but also I envision this quilt to be super soft and easy to fold, roll, and carry. 

This mat quilt is approximately 50" x 22", Which is a pretty weird shape for a quilt. I see this quilt being small and portable and taken where ever you go. It can be used as a mat for yoga or exercise, taken to the park or beach and used as a seat, folded as a chair mat or to give you a little extra back support, laid out for a cat or baby mat. It could also be used as a table/dresser topper or bed runner, but I picture it being more versatile and utilized. It's really soft and a little puffy. I really love the way the fans are very clear and noticeable even though sometimes they are black on black. 

I still have to label this quilt and write up it's entry in my quilt journal. But it was very satisfying to finish such an old WIP!! It definitely made me get out my unfinished works and assess them for potential finishes! It was also nice that this quilt had some firsts: First oddly shaped finished quilt and first fan quilting design.  

I'm linking this post up with Kathey's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching

Something New: Ohio Star

Back in August, I finished a quilt  that had the first traditional stars blocks I have ever completed. At the time, I thought they might be Ohio Stars (or a variation thereof) but I have come to learn they are Sawtooth Stars (or a variation thereof). I'm still learning about the traditional quilt blocks and techniques. Once my mistake was discovered I became interested in sewing an actual Ohio Star. 

In the last week or so, I have made some Ohio Stars, or a variation of the traditional block, for a gift quilt I am working on. Here is my (terribly wrinkly) first attempt: 

I'm not really a fan of ironing.

I'm not really a fan of ironing.

I'm working on a fairly tight deadline (can I do it?!) so, hopefully, you will be seeing more of this quilt soon!

Something New: EPP

The quilting world loves English Paper Piecing. I wanted to try it to see if I would, too. 

My first attempt. 

My first attempt. 

For those of you who may not be familiar with EPP (English Paper Piecing) Craftsy has a good article and how-to here

Basically, it's a method of hand piecing most used for small or intricate blocks or designs. It involves precisely cutting paper and basting fabric to it before sewing the fabric together for more exact piecing. Many people use basic shapes that are small and may be harder to hand or machine piece without some stiffness and stability. Hexagons are one of the most popular shapes to use.

EPP is known for it's portability. 

EPP is known for it's portability. 

The method is to precisely cut (or buy pre cut) shapes, cut fabric slightly larger, and baste it on to and around the paper. One you have a bunch of basted hexis (or what ever shape you might be using), you put them right side together and sew along the papers edge. You join the fabric covered papers like this, until you have the size and shape you like. Then you can remove the basting stitches and pull out the paper before finishing the piece by quilting, making a pillow, etc...

I had been wanting to try this method for a while bc many people swear by it. EPPing is known for being portable, small, and unwieldy, so I thought I might enjoy it. 

A pile of Octi and some that pieced together already. 

A pile of Octi and some that pieced together already. 

I'd waited before starting an EPP project, bc I had the idea that I would go and buy some paper templates. As weeks went by where I would look longingly at other peoples EPP projects, I realized I was never going to find time to buy the supplies I needed. So I found some stiff paper and some scissors instead. 

The very nature of EPP is to be very precise, my very nature is to be not very precise at all. 

But I forged ahead and cut some very wonky octagons. And then some very wonky squares to go with them, and set to basting. I basted as many as I could stand (like 6) before sewing a few together to see just how it worked.  After doing this a bunch more times, I found out how I preferred to baste the octis and how I preferred to sew them together. Although I had to make many adjustments as I went bc the shapes were not at all uniform, I eventually got into a rhythm. 

A lot of octis and squares sewn together. 

A lot of octis and squares sewn together. 

As with all my quilts, I didn't have a plan or sketch of what I wanted to do. I just made it up as I went along. And as always,  a vague plan started formulating. A pattern emerged and when it was time to stop, I stopped. After about a month I had completed the major part of the EPP project, and now it's set aside to decide what comes next. 

What I am about to say might shock and dismay some people. 

I don't love EPP. It's an interesting method, and I can see where it would be very useful. I didn't hate it but I found it achingly slow, and a little boring. Maybe it's bc I hand piece all my quilts already and this method is more for people who are used to machine sewing? I know I could have pieced the whole thing way quicker, and possibly neater, without the paper basting aspect. I also felt quite bad about all the fabric that was wasted. When I quilt there is rarely any unusable scrap left over. It kinda broke my heart to throw away so many tiny triangles. I found that as the piece got bigger it got harder and harder to handle. The stiffness of the paper became unwieldy and maneuvering became annoying. 

My favorite part is definitely cutting the basting threads and pulling the paper out. I like to see the patchwork all hard and stiff before, and then soft and subtle after. 

The back side of all those octis! You can see on the top left the papers have been removed. 

The back side of all those octis! You can see on the top left the papers have been removed. 

I was also not sold on EPP's portability or ease for travel. I pretty much always take my sewing on the go with me, and rarely find it overly cumbersome. But with EPP I had tiny scrapes everywhere, paper templates popping out all over the place, not to mention the scissors, needle,  and thread. And I had to have a special bag to carry it all in. Usually I just stuff all my sewing in my purse, but bc there are so many pieces of fabric and templates, etc... I needed more organization and therefore more stuff to carry. I was lucky enough to snag one of my husbands first zipper pouches, which did work wonderfully for the job. 

Library Card zipper pouch. 

Library Card zipper pouch. 

I will definitely finish the work. I liked the process and the result enough to make this one project. But bc I didn't like it a lot, I'm not sure what the project will end up being. Only time will tell. 

You just can't put black, purple and gold or orange together without it looking like Halloween. The bats don't help, I guess. 

You just can't put black, purple and gold or orange together without it looking like Halloween. The bats don't help, I guess. 

I'm linking up with a blog I love to read, Kathy's Quilts, for her Slow Sunday Stitching.