Time Flies

Inspiration always comes in the craziest of ways.  Several months ago I started the Modern Medallion quilt along, written and hosted by Crystal at Two Little Aussie Birds.  Unfortunately, I got distracted, and it is still sitting perched, frozen in time, on my design wall.  It waits patiently, and reminds me that I should finish what I have started before moving on.  But we don’t need to talk about that today.

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It still looks like this. Fabulous, but not finished. Ahem.

You see those wonky flying gees up there?  Yeah, so, they got me.  I got to thinking about how they looked like they were jockeying for position, pushing to the front of the line.  Kinda made me think about sibling rivalry.  Which made me think of my crazy family.  Which made me think of my grandma and her 9 children.  Which made me think of the kitchen door frame at Grandma’s house that recorded the growth of her children, grandchildren, and maybe even a few of her great-grandchildren.

And there it was.  An idea.  Flying Geese.  A growth chart for this grandma.  And so “Time Flies” was born.  And I painted my studio door red, just because it looks SO good.

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This was my prototype, and the one that now hangs in my studio. I liked it, but the fabrics weren’t quite right, and the numbers were not dark enough. So, on to the next idea…

I wanted a growth chart for my own grandchildren, one that no matter where I lived, it could go with me, unlike the door frame that is in a house that my grandma not longer lives in.

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Even though there were a few things about the prototype that didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I actually like it quite a lot for sentimental reasons.  Not only did Grandma have a growth chart in the kitchen, but Grandpa actually wallpapered one of the back bedrooms with comic strips.  And to me, that’s what the flying geese border on my original Time Flies looks like- comic strips.

While I love it for those reasons, it still didn’t have the umpf I had hoped for.  So, back to the fabric drawer, and this is what popped out…

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Nice, huh?  Wanna make one?  The pattern is below, and click here for a kit.

Time Flies
14″x64″ finished
1/4″ seams

Please read entire pattern before beginning!  It really will help you to see what the method is behind the madness.

Fabrics:
Geese- (24) 5 3/4″ squares (2/3 yd total if using all the same fabrics for geese)
Sky- (96) 3 1/8″ squares (3/4 yd yd total if using all the same fabrics for sky)
Center- 3/4 yd 45″ wide canvas, OR 1/4 YD 60″ wide, but be careful that you have at least 58 1/2″ usable fabric
Binding- 3/8 yd
Backing- 1 yd for a pieced back, 1 7/8 yd for a continuous back
Batting cut to fit

Instructions

1.  Construct 96 over-sized geese using the method shown below.  This method will create 4 geese at a time which will be trimmed down to wonky perfection.

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Step 1- Line up (2) 3 1/8″ squares as shown on top of (1) 5 3/4″ square. Pin squares in place. Step 2- Draw a line from point to point over the small squares as shown. Step 3- Sew a 1/4″ seam on either side of the drawn line. Remove pins.

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Step 4- Cut along drawn line.

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Step 5- Press seams toward smaller triangles, creating two heart shapes.

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Step 6- Align a 3 1/8″ square on each of the hearts as shown. Step 7- Draw a line from the point in the valley of the heart to the point at the bottom of the heart on the small square. Step 8- Pin in place. Step 9- Sew 1/4″ seam on either side of the drawn line on both units.

 

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Step 11- Press geese open with seams toward the small triangles as shown.

2.  Trim each flying geese unit to 2″x3 1/2″.  Do not worry about cutting off beaks or wings as this is what makes them wonky.

IMG_66083.  Prepare the center of the growth chart by cutting the piece of canvas to 8″x58 1/2″ and zigzag or serge stitching the raw edges.

4.  Beginning 1/4″ from one of the short ends of the canvas, use a Frixion pen to mark 1″ intervals along the left long side of the fabric as shown.  Using the same pen, number each interval beginning with 24 and ending with 79.  Be sure to leave a minimum of 1/4″ seam allowance along the left side of the text.

IMG_66795.  Using a perle cotton thread, embroider the numbers using your handwritten text as a guide.  When stitching is complete, iron over your work to remove the Frixion marks.

IMG_72616.  Lay out geese in your desired color pattern with geese arranged as if flying around the center of the growth chart.  You should have 41 geese facing up on the left side, 7 geese facing right on the top, 41 geese pointing down on the right, and 7 geese pointing left on the bottom.  ****If you are using a specific color arrangement for your geese, it is very important that you pay close attention to what order your geese are in, and that they are flying in the correct direction.

7.  Sew together 39 of the 41 geese for each of the two long sides.  Sew geese together two units at a time.  In other words, sew one goose to another goose, beak to tail, 19 times.  You will have 1 goose left over of the 39.  Press with seams towards the tails.  Now sew a set of two geese to another set of two geese, 9 times.  In addition to the 1 goose leftover from the first round, you will have 1 two goose unit left over.  Sew the 1 goose unit to the two goose unit.  Press with seams towards the tails.  Continue this process until you have a straight line of 39 geese.  ****Do not sew geese together continuously by adding one goose at a time to a long line of geese.  By the time you get to the bottom, you will have issues with is being straight.

IMG_66778.  Sew together the 7 side facing geese units for the top and bottom of the growth chart.  Use the same method described above.  You should have (2) strips of 39 geese, (2) strips of 7 geese, and (4) single geese.

9.  Sew the remaining single geese into (2) two geese units.  Press with seams toward the tails.

10.  For this step, you need 1 each of the 2 geese units and 7 geese units, keeping them in correct color arrangement.  With the 7 geese unit pointing right, sew the correct 2 geese unit to the right end of the unit with the 2 geese pointing down.  This makes the top border.  For the bottom border, with the 7 geese unit pointing left, sew the correct 2 geese unit to the left end of the unit with the 2 geese pointing up.

IMG_725711.  With the geese pointing up, sew the correct 39 geese unit to the left of the center canvas piece.  With the geese pointing down, sew the correct 39 geese unit to the right of the center.  With the geese pointing right, sew the correct 9 geese unit to the top of the center.  With the geese pointing left, sew the correct 9 geese unit to the bottom of the center.

12.  Layer and quilt as desired.  Finish with a 2 1/2″ binding.

13.  Find someone to teach me how to write a pattern using graphics. 😉

The grass is always greener…

What is it about “swapping” that makes us swoon?  I don’t watch a lot of television, but I hear some people even swap wives and such things from time to time.  I don’t get that, but I do get why quilters like to swap.  Surprises and challenges seem to light us up and get the creative juices flowing.  We have a tendency to believe that the stash on the “other side of the fence” is “greener” than our own.  I don’t know that that’s always true, but it’s kinda fun to have a look-see, and what better way than in a swap?

I haven’t been able to participate in any kind of swap in many years, so I was really excited when I managed to get hooked up with Brenda Ratliff of Pink Castle Fabrics.  She has a blog called Just a Bit Frayed, and she recently opened up a Scrappy 9 Patch Swap.  I was swift to respond and managed to get in, but it would seem that it is luck of the draw to see such things online and be able to respond in time to be able to get in on them.  I still haven’t figured out how to join an online Bee, but I am going to get there.

Anyway, I actually had a little trouble figuring out which bold, but not solid, fabs I wanted to use in my 9 patches.  I had batiks that would work, but in the end really just wanted an excuse to go shopping.  So, I headed over to Intown Quilters in Atlanta to see what I could get.  Here’s what I found-

9 patch swap 1Love it!  Perfect for making a simple nine patch with some serious pizazz.  Brenda recommended using a strip method to make the blocks, but I, of course, wanted to do it MY way.  Don’t judge me.  I won’t judge you for following the directions.  Anyway, I like the square or sleeve method for nine patches.  Billie Lauder has a YouTube video on this process- click on her name for the link.  But in the meantime, here’s a little info on how I made my nine patch blocks.

First, cut two squares, 1 1/2″ larger than your desired finished block.  In this case, our blocks are to be 6 1/2″ to send to the swap, which means 6″ finished.  So, I cut (2) 7 1/2″ blocks.

9 patch swap 2With right sides together, I sewed a 1/4″ seam on two opposing sides.

9 patch swap 3Next, I calculated 1/3 of 7 1/2″, which is 2 1/2″.  Starting from one of the sewn sides, I cut (3) 2 1/2″ sections.

9 patch swap 4This gave me two seamed sections and two loose 2 1/2″ strips, as seen below.

9 patch swap 59 patch swap 6At this point I sewed the loose 2 1/2″ sections to the two seamed sections, as shown.  When using this method, I always press towards one of the fabrics, in this case the red.  It helps with nesting later on.

If you stop here, you have opposite rail fences.  A note here- this method of nine patches makes two nine patches at once, but they are the opposite of one another.  You will see in a minute what I mean.

While matching seams, I lined up the two pieced blocks right sides together, like this-

9 patch swap 7I then sewed a 1/4″ seam on the edges of the blocks perpendicular to the seams I made previously.  Like this-

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Using my rotary cutter and ruler, I then made (3) 2 1/2″ cuts, starting at one of the seamed edges.  Which gave me this-

9 patch swap 9I then went through the same process as before, matching up the loose center sections with the appropriate seamed sections to create a 9 patch, like this-

9 patch swap 10And voila-

9 patch swap 11Pretty darn close to perfect, if I do say so myself.  I really like this method because I find that my nine patches turn out much more accurate. Not everyone will like this method, but it certainly is worth giving it a try!

To add to all of this, Intown Quilters is also doing a block exchange, which will work nicely as border blocks for this nine patch quilt, so I signed up for that one too!  Click here if you are interested in joining that one, it still is open.

 

Decisions, decisions, decsions . . .

For me, inspiration often strikes at the most inconvenient moment- right at the time that there is absolutely nothing I can do about the idea I have.  I have lost a lot of good ideas to convenience, and so I have learned that when it strikes, I’d better act, or I might loose it.  Such is the case with this project.  It is totally inconvenient.  It has no purpose, other than to accomplish an idea that ran across my brain.  I had to interrupt other things to work on it.  It is taking more time than I wanted.  And yet, here it is.  Needing to be cared for and nurtured until it grows up.

So, remember my last post on inspiration?  Here’s where we left off-

Decisions 1My pics are not so good- I really need a camera other than the one on my phone, and maybe some lighting in my studio, but this is what I’ve got for now, and it will have to do!  Anyway, I had found the perfect fabric, tool and book  to get my ideas flowing, and while I had started playing a bit, I just hadn’t found the right combo.

Decisions 2Yes, but no.

Decisions 3Nice, but way too dark.  Overshadowed the print fabric terribly.

Decisions 4Now we’ve got something.  These wedges were on the design wall for a couple of weeks before they decided what they wanted to be, so I was pretty happy at this moment!

Decisions 5I have major issues with staying on task, although I really do finish most projects that I begin.  I just need a break sometimes from a big project for something smaller and a little easier, hence the baby quilt on the right.  I had finished cutting and placing all of my wedges as desired on the design wall, and I needed to “look away” for a minute, so I put together this baby quilt.  I will do a different post on it.

Decisions 6I finally started sewing wedges together, section by section, row by row.  Then I realized that I hadn’t thought through my design completely.  What about those odd shaped sides?  Should I leave them?  No, I want a bigger quilt than this and want to add borders, so the sides have to be squared up.  Back to the book Sizzlin’ Sixties.

Decisions 8I’ve mentioned before that I don’t follow directions well, and here is a good example of that.  It really does make a difference to actually read rather than just looking at the pictures.  Just saying.  Anyway, in order to make half wedges to create the straight sides needed on a hexagon quilt, you cannot just cut a wedge, and then cut it in half.  It doesn’t give you enough seam allowance.  (See above).

There are different ways to cut these side pieces.  The book uses a traditional 60 degree ruler, which I did not have, so I could not do it the way it was written.  Also, Julie from Jaybird Quilts has a Sidekick ruler that would do the job fabulously, but alas, I don’t have it yet.  So, I had to improvise.  It is possible to do this without an additional ruler, but I would have rather had the Sidekick.  I hope to get it soon.

So, here’s what I did-

Decisions 9I used my Hex N More ruler and lined up my straight edge with the far top point of the ruler, and the 4 1/2″ line, as this was the size I needed to make my straight edges.  Then I cut.

Decisions 10To continue cutting the “half” wedges I needed without waste, I turned to my straight-edge ruler and lined up the 60 degree line with the cut I made before.  This worked fine, but like I said, I would have rather had the Sidekick.

Decision 7As you can see above, those “half” wedges create a straight edge for the hexagon shaped quilt.  It isn’t required if you want the sides of the quilt to have the hexi shape, but again, I want to add a border and need the sides to be straight.

Decisions 11All sewn together!  Looking fabulous so far, if I do say so myself!

Decisions 12So, here’s the thing- remember that when cutting these wedges, you end up with a positive and negative wedge- see below-

Decisions 13The quilt I am making so far uses only half of the wedges that I have cut so far.

Decisions 14So, the story isn’t over!  What will these become when they grow up?  I’ll let you know when I know…

Selvage or Selvedge?

Yeah, totally had to look it up.  Turns out they’re both right.  I’m cool with that.

I have been collecting selvedges for years.  People bring them to me in little baggies with hopeful looks on their faces, wanting to know what brilliant project I am going to make with them.  I have disappointed them all, as I have not come up with anything super fabulous so far.  I wanted to use the words on the selvedges to write a story, but it just hasn’t worked.  Anyway, I recently had a little inspiration for a couple of projects, and I pulled out that box of selvedges.

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This is how the box looked when I started.  (The lid was smashed on pretty good.)  Along with tons of selvedges, I also have tons of leftover batting.  I really have difficulty letting go, especially of any kind of fibers.  Bits of fabric, batting, thread, yarn, you name it.  It really is a disease, but I don’t really want to be cured.

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I recently got a new laptop so that I can haul it around with me as I travel.  I wanted to make a kind of sleeve for it so that even as I slide it in my tote or whatever it would be a little more protected.  And also, not so obvious that it was a computer.  So, I measured the laptop and generously cut a piece of batting that would word for my desired result.  Then I simply laid the selvedges on the batting and started sewing.  Each selvedge overlays on the one before, and they are just simply top stitched onto the batting.

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I did this for the full length of my bit of batting, then trimmed it to the desired size for the computer.  I lined it with a cute fabric, then folded it with right sides together, and a flap for the top and seamed down each side.  Easy peasy.

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Then I was on to the next project.  Pin cushions.  I needed to do a few thank you gifts for some guild members, and I thought these would be cute.  I just cut the prepared selvedge “fabric” down to 5″ squares, backed them with a 5″ square of fabric, and filled with crushed walnut shells.

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After I made 11 of these for my guild members, I still had a stack of selvedge squares left, and needed a little encouragement to finish them.  (I was way sick of stuffing pin cushions at this point!)

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So, I talked to my sweet friend and asked her to help me find a purpose to finish the rest of those silly pin cushions, and she said I should donate them to the Jarrell Plantation gift shop as a fundraiser.

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Well, once I had a purpose in making those silly pincushions, I got the rest of them made- 27 to be exact, and dropped them off!  (I hate to admit how glad I was to see them go!)

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And this is how the box looked when I finished.  Do you see anything wrong with this picture?  (Hint, compare it to the one before I started!)

Ready for a playdate with Miss Addisyn!

This is such a fun quilt to make, and really didn’t take very long at all.  I think if I had started Monday morning, worked without stopping for annoyances like cooking, cleaning and playing taxi cab, I could have had the whole thing done by Tuesday evening.  Easy.  Hand sewn binding and all.  (Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it?  Hmmm, ideas, ideas, ideas . . .)  As it is, it took me a week.  Not SO bad, but would have rather it was a little faster.

I apologize in advance about the pics.  Different lighting, different days, makes this quilt look like it is three different quilts made of varying shades of the same fabric.  Not so.  The last pics are the best, so I guess it works out okay in the end.  🙂

Addy rows

Once I got the 3D bowtie blocks completed, it was a snap to put this one together.  I love that this pattern lets the fabric do the work, and this was such a great line to work with for this project.  Wonderful baby colors without all the baby weirdness.  Oh, did I say that with my “out loud” voice?

Addy borders

Again, the fabric line did all of the work for this one, including that fabulous striped piece, and “cheater” hexagon print for the outer border.

Addy quilting

A friend of mine lets me come to her house to use her longarm machine from time to time, and did so for this quilt as well.  I wasn’t feeling great at the time I quilted this one, and was worried about working around the bowties, but I think it turned out okay.  I need more practice, but I think Addisyn will forgive me!  I plan on getting her a little toy or two to attach to the bowties before I ship it off to her sweetness!

Addy finished

Cute, huh?  For more info about 3D bowties and this pattern by Karie Patch Designs, click here!  Hope you and Miss Addy enjoy this even more than I did!

To flange or not to flange- what is the question?

Okay, so this might be the first time in my retreat going history that I have finished a quilt within a month of the event. I mean really, I still have quilt tops from past years I haven’t finished yet, but this one? It’s done.  If you read my earlier post, you know that this pattern is “Urban Cabin” by Atkinson Designs.  You also know that I never seem to purchase patterns and fabric at the same time, so I don’t normally have correct yardage.  This is the perfect example, hence the 1″ piano key border, and the leftover 10″ squares on the back.

Urban Cabin- Retreat quilt

It’s probably because I have the added pressure of there being a purpose for this quilt- I want to give it to my sister-in-law.  I find that having a real purpose usually spurs me on a little more than just for the fun of it.  Although, that should be a good enough reason as well!

Urban Cabin flange

I do a lot of improvisational quilting, mostly because I am usually ill prepared, or I just don’t want to do it that way.  This time, I only had a stack of 10″ squares and a smallish bundle of 2 1/2″ strips, plus just barely enough of the dark brown for the background.  This led to a problem when it came to the binding and all I had enough left to use were the 2 1/2″ strips.  I couldn’t put them right up next to the piano key border- it was just too much.  So, I dug through the scraps of dark brown and found that I had just enough left to make a 1/4″ flange to break it up a bit.  Worked perfectly if you ask me.

Urban Cabin back

I had a few 10″ squares left, so I dug through my bins to find just enough of these other fabrics to put together a back.  I really love piecing backs, and I really hate not using ALL of the fabric I have purchased.

So, as if a finished retreat quilt wasn’t enough to puff up my pride, I also am pretty dang pleased with the photo editing I learned how to do for this post.  By golly, I will figure out all this new fangled technology.  After all, improv is my thing.

I have no self control.

So, I really do try to actually finish a project before I move on to another one- key word being “try.”  Truth is, I have no self control.

Last week we welcomed a new grandbaby into the world.  A granddaughter.  This is our third, the first two are wonderful little boys.  My husband and I have 7 children together.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I had 4, he had 3.  We would have liked to have had a child together, but when we got married the “7” were ages 8-18, and it just wasn’t realistic.  So, we decided that we would have grandchildren together, and so we do!  I imagine that between all of our children, we will have quite a few grandchildren as we go along.  I’m very excited about that.

Speaking of excitement, I came across this pattern for this really cool baby quilt, and even though I have other things to work on, I knew I had to make this for Miss Addy!  Immediately!

Play Date 1

I am a collector by nature.  I can’t help it.  If I like it, I want multiples of it, and I want to keep it forever.  (Do we feel an episode of hoarders coming on?)  This has not always been a helpful thing in my life, however I have begun to get a little more control of it.  This pattern is one of the examples of how I have gotten things a little more under control, and how my collecting nature is also beneficial from time to time.

I do love creative magazines.  I do not love having piles of them around and not being able to find anything.  So, I rip out the patterns and/or ideas that I like, put them in plastic sleeves and keep them in a notebook.  This has ended up being an interesting habit, as it has saved me some money.  This pattern, for instance.  This pattern (“Hey Diddle Diddle) was featured in a magazine some time ago, but it is now a purchasable pattern called “Playtime!” by Karie Patch Designs.  She has several patterns that use this really cool template and technique, and I have wanted to make one for a long time.

What I love about this pattern is that it uses a 3-D bowtie block, which you can attach toys to for the child to play with.  Keeps toys in place rather than flying across the room, and is just WAY cute.  The pattern that I have from the magazine includes a template for the 3-D bowtie.

Play Date 2

Karie Patch Designs has since produced a plastic template for the 3-D bowtie, which makes things much easier.

While I am all about easier, and all about a new ruler, I am also all about cheating, as I have mentioned before.  I was so excited to make this quilt, and since there were no quilt shops near me open at 8:30 Saturday night, I knew that the only way to meet my desire for immediate satisfaction was to cheat.

So, cheat I did.

Play Date 3

First, I measured the template provided in the magazine pattern, then decided I could probably do it with my ruler.  I will admit that my measurement is not exactly the same as the one in the pattern, but close enough, and it turned out great.  I decided my 3-D bowtie should be 3″ wide, so I lined up the 1 1/2″ mark diagonally on my squares (one stacked on top of another).

Play Date 4

Whacked.

Play Date 5Whacked the other side.

I then sewed down each side of the “tie”, leaving both pointed ends open.  I turned the “tie”, then following the directions in the pattern, attached it to the background fabric, with a little twist.

Play Date 6

Cute, huh?  Then, when the quilt is finished, you can just attach toys (you know, the kind that hang from car seats and strollers and such) to the 3-D bowtie.  When it is time to pick up baby, quilt, and toys, the toys just get picked up with the quilt.

More to come on this one…