East of the mountains

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The Italian cousins are visiting so we got to leave all the moving boxes behind and escape east of the mountains to Black Butte Ranch. My boys hadn’t seen their slightly younger cousins in three years – they all immediately picked up where they left off and have been inseparable.  Older and wiser cousin Amelia watchs over them all to keep things sane.

Lots of laughing, walking, games, swimming – and wine for the worn out adults.

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Patti – another cousin – and I have squeezed in crafting time as well.  I have my spinning wheel:

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And I dug out some bins of fabric so we could work on fused fabric wall hangings:

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The annual Sisters quilt festival is this weekend so we walked around the shops of Sisters where a lot of the quilts are hanging, then spent some time on Pinterest and got further inspired.  The fish and the trees are my two finishes – the fish was sparked by all the fish quilts hanging on the shop walls, and the trees and birds are a not-as-good copy of a paper card I saw on Pinterest.  Stitching later will add in the details.

Patti’s is a lot more complicated – she is still working to cut out more trees and figure out how to make fabric camp chairs:

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Isn’t it great?  I am so making a camping quilt of my own some day.  Though mine will have to have tents as that is how we camp.

it has been so wonderful to relax and not think about boxes needing to be filled or emptied, or walls painted, or IKEA furniture assembled.  Just the sun through the trees, scissors finally back in my hands, and the occasional visiting wildlife.

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Tomorrow Patti and I go back for the quilt festival.  I’m sure there will be a lot more pictures!

Down to the wire

We leave tomorrow for my cousin’s where we’ll spend Christmas and start Hanukkah, so today I absolutely had to get the last of the presents sewn.

My cousin’s husband is getting this blanket, pretty much exactly the same as the tutorial version, except I changed the binding to chocolate brown.

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I forgot to take a picture of the finished blanket before my son whipped it out of my hands and wrapped it up.  In fact, I made it in such a rush, the two pictures above are the only two I remembered to take of it in progress.  You’ll just have to imagine the knot tying and the ironing. I’ll have to add the final shot after he unwraps it. But it really does look just like the one in the link above, except the binding color.

Well, and the fact that I did a fairly bad job of sewing on the binding.  I’m not used to working with either faux fur or suede-like fabric and I struggled a lot with sewing all those thick layers evenly.  It looks fine on the suede side, but the plaid sherpa side has a very wavery edge.  In a perfect world, or one with a couple more weeks until Christmas, I’d rip it off and redo it, but he’s unlikely to be highly critical, and the time is gone.

I did really like the suede fabric, despite the difficulties in both sewing and ironing, and I can see making something with it again.  Probably not with the sherpa fabric though.  Maybe on the back of a crazy quilt?

My other finish today was a couple of sets of felted coasters to give as stocking stuffers.  These started as a scarf, abandoned unfinished years ago.  I started throwing it in with loads of laundry until it was thoroughly felted.

Then I cut it into squares and did a blanket stitch around the edges with yarn, and viola, a couple of presents where a guilt inducing WIP used to be.

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Now, if we can just fit all the presents and six people in our car, we’ll be all set . . .

Bits and pieces

It has been a little hectic around the house the last couple of days.  My sister, who has lived with us the past year, went back to Mississippi last month to pack up her family and household.  Sunday night she, her husband, and two of their three kids arrived with a 27′ rental truck, two French bulldogs, and a cat.  It rapidly got very crowded around here.  But in a good way!  The apartment hunting has already begun, but we are enjoying them in the meantime.

I have squeezed in a little sewing nonetheless.  The backing for my cousin’s quilt is completed.  There was quite a lot of seam ripping, a function of not having quite as much fabric as I needed in length, and changing my mind in mid stream about how I wanted to solve that.

I couldn’t get a good picture of it.  Too large for the iPad camera.  But here are some awkward shots.

The first attempt had strips at the top and a wide blue border on one side. I decided it looked unbalanced and needed to be wider, so I added a blue border on the opposite side later.

The first attempt has strips at the top and a wide blue border on one side.  I decided it looked unbalanced and needed to be wider, so I added a blue border on the opposite side later.

(The top, in the background, will also have borders, but I’m adding them later to reduce the bulk I will be wrestling through my machine.)

Adding an additional side border to the back made the strips on the top too short, but I had only inches left of most of the fabrics so I added in a four patch block.

Adding an additional side border made the strips on the top too short, but I had only inches left of most of the fabrics so I added in a four patch block.

I’ve asked my cousin to see if she can get another yard of the dark blue that is going into one of the front borders and I’ll use that for the binding if she can. Otherwise I will need to head to the fabric store again.  I don’t have enough left of anything for a border.

Other than that, not a lot accomplished, fiberwise.  But I did go with my sister to a very cool crafting store this morning.  Scrap is a shop of recycled materials, anything that someone might find useful for artistic pursuits.  There is yarn and paper, but also empty thread spools and plastic bits and tubes and fabric remnants and old cards.  It is a lot of fun, and the stock is constantly changing.  This time I found some possibly rayon yarn, some big spools of thread, and black and white fat quarters, among other things.  I came home and immediately made a few more paper pieced hexagons for a mini quilt I’m building up.  Every black and white fabric I come across loses a corner for this.  I think I’ve almost got enough.

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Measurement woes

Strangeness is occurring in the Moroccan Tiles quilt.  I finished all the sashed four patch blocks yesterday, and then got my new 5 1/2″ square ruler out to see if they needed much trimming.  Only they weren’t 5 1/2″ blocks, it turns out.  They are a bit small, which I would assume is a function of my seam allowance, except that they aren’t symmetrically off.  Each block is 5 1/4″ x 5 3/8″.

I can’t figure it out.  I checked the fabric widths and everything was cut to the right size – 2 1/2″ print strips and 1 1/2″ silver sash strips.  Which points back to the seam allowances.  But they are so evenly off.  Every one is 1/8″ in height and 1/4″ off in width. The only thing that explains it is I must have changed where I was lining up the edges between sewing the first print and sashing strips together and when I sewed the two patches into four patches.  But why, after all this time, would I suddenly change seam allowance guides in mid quilt top?

The mysteriously uneven blocks - a fraction wider than they are tall.

The mysteriously uneven blocks – a fraction wider than they are tall.

I could have trimmed them all, but that was going to be a pain.  Instead, I cut the silver squares to be 5 1/4″ on each side to match the narrower measurement, and as I sew the print blocks to the solid silver blocks, I’m adjusting them slightly so that the silver seam allowance is a little narrower than the print.  Since I’m doing that for assembling strips, but making the edges more even when sewing the  strips together, the blocks are all ending up square and equal in size again.  Still a little small, since they won’t finish to 5″ as intended, but adding an inch to a border width will get me back to the needed quilt size.

The slightly adjusted alignment

The slightly adjusted alignment

That problem solved, I have about half the strips created and have been sewing the strips together in pairs, and now I’m hitting problem number two – my design wall is not big enough for this quilt!  I’m going to have to move back to the floor for some of this.

A's quilt in progress - assembling rows

I ran out of wall before I ran out of quilt

I ran out of wall before I ran out of quilt

Fabulous, but not so fast

My aunt recently commissioned me to make a quilt for her daughter whose long term quilt bedspread was disintegrating.  A lot of emails ensued.  I sent many pictures culled from Google Images and Pinterest to my cousin who narrowed down the designs to two:

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imageI then settled on the Amy Smart quilt – called Mooccan Tiles – for two important reasons.  The first is the pattern for the blocks takes far fewer steps.  The second one is I already own the pattern book!

Next step was sending my cousin off to the fabric store near her to get print ideas.  I sent yardage amounts in case she found fabric she couldn’t live without.  I think she found it a bit overwhelming, but it was useful because she decided she really loved batiks, and she found a blue that went with her current bed skirt so we could build the quilt around that anchor color. She ended up buying that blue and a few fat quarters of blue and purple batiks and mailing them to me.

With those in hand, I went to the 35% off sale at Fabric Depot and bought a LOT of fabric.  Because what makes this quilt not-so-fast is the fact that I’m scaling it up to 96″ x 96″.  Not a small quilt.  In fact, it will be the largest I’ve ever made, and I’m rather daunted at the idea of getting it all through my sewing machine.  I’m still exploring the possibilities for quilting it in sections, but haven’t decided yet.A's quilt fabric

Those are the fabrics I ended up with after a long time pulling and replacing bolts in the batik aisle.  The deep blue near the top is her choice, as are a few of the fat quarters.  I added more blues and purples and some green and magenta touches.  The only one that isn’t going in is the one in the bottom right, as it just didn’t blend in with the others when I put all the strips together.  Should have maybe figured that out before I cut it into strips!

I started the cutting and sewing yesterday and I’ve made some real progress by this evening.

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That last photo is what 144 blocks looks like.  I spent time trying to mix up the different prints as much as possible. No block has the same fabric twice, and then I made the piles to make sure that really similar blocks would not land too closely together.  No guarantees, but the spread of prints should be pretty random.

I’m completely enamoured of the colors, the batik fabric, and the pale silver Kona cotton for the sashing.  Next step is to cut all the plain silver blocks that will go between the colorful blocks.