February Bee Blocks are Finished!

My 4 X 5 Blocks made it out in the mail this past week.

I finished my “HOPE” block for Kristy from Quiet Play. That is a plain white background, my light was crummy. I really like the way this ended up. If you are looking for a “type” style alphabet, this is a very good one.

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It was Sabrina’s month for Color Bee Shocked. She chose Japanese X & + blocks and sent out a selection of blue fabrics. She told us that she would be open to us making a second block from stash if we were interested. These are fun little blocks and I knew I was going to make more than one from the beginning. I tried hard to pick similar blues and mixed mine in with hers so they would look a bit more uniform. My son was sad when I told him that these were being sent out. He thinks everything I make needs more blue.

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I do really love these blocks and decided I needed a couple for my ongoing sampler quilts (I used a different tutorial so that these would end up 12 1/2″ or 12″ finished). The first is for my text block quilt using text fabrics and the second is in my rainbow on white color palette that I use for the 3 X 6 and 4 X 5 bees.

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Finally, I tackled this months do.Good Stitches. Meesh chose It’s a New Day for her pattern and based her palette on a piece of artwork.

meesh inspiration

Our colors ended up being medium to light warm and salmon colored pinks, medium to light grays, medium to light warm golds, white and medium to light beige with a Kona Jet background. Fortunately she posted some examples and based on her fabrics I chose the following stack from stash.

DSC_0535She requested an A block and a B block, but was open to additional A blocks. I wanted to play with this palette a little more and ended up with these final three blocks.

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Sorry about the grainy photos, I’m not sure what’s up with my camera. It was in reach of little hands this week, so I think I need to go back and check my settings.

It feels so great to get this month’s bee blocks done. I’m turning to my February A Lovely Year of Finishes goal next, since the project I’m working on is for an upcoming birthday. Soon after I hope to finish up my first Empower at do.Good Stitches quilt. I just need to confirm that I have all the blocks and I can get started.

WIP 2.20.13: February Bee Blocks

I finished up my 4 X 5 paper pieced bee blocks this past weekend and had a great time experimenting with fabrics. I chose Lee from Freshly Pieced’s Cartwheel Block. First up was a rainbow block with black background. The recipient was open to patterned black fabrics, so I chose the charcoal Madrona Road text print.

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This block is pretty intense in person, but I love how the text has a striped effect and gives it lots of movement. Next up was pear, tangerine and peacock. I immediately thought of this turquoise and orange print. It’s one of my favorites and I use it often. The Notting Hill print is one of the few I have from that collection and it matches the other print perfectly.

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Aqua and Red is always a hard color combination for me. I like both colors, but I don’t have many reds and very few fabrics that feature them together. Since this block is so graphic, I was afraid it wouldn’t look right if I used two single color or single color with white prints. This Valori Wells print has the touches of red I wanted, but I wasn’t sure if it was the aqua she was looking for. As an aside, can anyone tell me an easy way to distinguish between aqua and turquoise. I generally think of turquoise as the deeper blue seen in the peacock print above and aqua as a lighter blue, like the secondary blue in the same print. Anyway, I have a new red I really like, so I ended up pairing it with the Valori Wells. I really hope my hivemate likes it.

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Next up is my own block in rainbow with white. This was kind of a meh block for me. I love every fabric in it and think it’s very pretty, but it’s not very dynamic. You can see how much changing the orientation of the red print makes a difference with how much movement the block has. The horizontal stems in the aqua and red block give it some life, whereas the rainbow block remains static.

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In the next block I decided to play around with this idea a little more. The colors requested were citron, aqua and navy. The AMH feathers were hands down my favorite option for this block and I decided to pair it with one of my all-time favorite prints from Kate Spain’s Central Park collection (I am on a constant lookout for this same print in tangerine or turquoise, but haven’t had any luck yet tracking it down). Again, I focused on orientation and aligned the feathers horizontally to create movement. The ribbons running through the citron also add to the effect, though that was accidental. It’s crazy how much difference this makes. This is easily one of my favorite bee blocks I’ve ever made.

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My final 4 X 5 block was in orange and turquoise. I’ve been recently collecting these colors and had two prints I thought would look amazing together. Again, I chose to accentuate movement through the orientation of the Valori Wells print. If this doesn’t say Cartwheel, I don’t know what would. This is definitely another favorite block.

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Being in a paper piecing mood I continued right along working on a test block for Kristy from Quiet Play She decided to provide copies of her “Just My Type” alphabet pattern, available at Craftsy, to make individual words to be used in charity quilts. She requested single fabrics on white in 5″ finished blocks. I was almost done, when my machine went kaput.

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Fortunately, the dealer I bought it from was able to get it in right away. I picked it up just a bit ago, so should be able to finish up this block tonight. I wanted to share a few thoughts on the pattern. These letters were easy and straight forward to construct. I had no problem following the instructions, despite being relatively new to paper piecing. I especially like that she included a chart with percentages needed to up size these letters. That said there are a few aesthetic things I would do differently if I were to use these letters again for myself. First, I would leave the top and bottom strips off of each individual letter until I had the word completed and sash the entire word as one piece. Second, I would adjust the spacing between each letter. If using these letters in a multiple line phrase the spacing between lines would be less than the spacing between letters and the spacing between each word would need to be considerable to make it look proportional. An easy fix would be to just attach one side piece to each letter that is in the middle of a word. If the first and last letters each had their strip on the outer portions of each word, there would be adequate spacing between words to make it readable. Finally, I feel that the lines at the top and bottom of the letters that make it a “type” alphabet are a bit too long. Something feels slightly off with the proportions, especially with the P and E. I adore the roundness of these letters. The O is quite beautiful. I would be interested in seeing some examples of this pattern made up in the larger sizes, to see how that impacts the proportion of all the letters.

Next up, I have a block for Color Bee Shocked and two for Empower at do.Good Stitches. I may have used my need for Kona Jet to fuel a little fabric binge that may be coming tomorrow. We’re expecting a blizzard though, so I hope that it doesn’t delay my happy mail!

Linking up to…
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

with love…

I think this is the first time I’ve ever finished a project within a few days of starting. Modeled off of Svetlana’s Pixelated Heart Pillow, with love… measures 28″ X 28″, was pieced from stash, quilted diagonally with variegated pink thread and bound in a print from Violet Craft’s Madrona Road collection. My take away from this project is that I really need to take the time to make a design wall, even if it’s temporary. There are a few fabric tweaks that I would have made if I would have had a different perspective when I laid it out. The girls love it though and it will make a nice addition to their room.

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Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts
and TGIFF at Sewing By Moonlight

WIP 2.13.13: Instant Gratification

After a rocky start to February, I finally had a chunk of sewing time this past weekend. As much as I’m committed to clearing my WIP;s, I had a hard time getting excited about my current projects.

I’ve been slowly quilting my You’re Never A-Lone Star 1 and am happy with my progress. I decided to quilt the star in a lone star pattern which is requiring a lot of starts and stops. I decided early on not to bury my knots and am utilizing my machines automatic stay stitching feature. My one complaint is that it stitches 5-6 times at the end of each row, creating a sizable knot on the back. I’m using flannel for the back and don’t think they will show much, but I do wish my machine would allow me to change the number of stitches taken. As for this weekend, I wasn’t up for the heavy lifting required to quilt this project.

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The next project under consideration was my 1/2″ hexagon mini quilt. I pulled this project out at the beginning of the month and got the rest of my sewn strips joined. My current piece of patchwork is approximately 12″ X 18″ and I can’t decide if I want this portion of the mini to be bigger or not. I plan to add a border of charcoal hexies and then a final 3-4 rounds of the scrappy hexies to finish it off. Right now, this center section seems like it would be proportionally right given those plans. I also like the balance of color and value in this section. I’ve attempted to lay additional hexies out to see what it would look like bigger and can’t quite seem to keep these elements consistent. I also question whether a bigger center will add much impact given the extra time it would take. Which is to say I “think” I’m ready for the charcoal border, but am still indecisive enough, that this project was set aside for the weekend. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

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The rest of my early February sewing has centered around paper piecing bee blocks. I really love the Cartwheel Block from Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced that I chose for this round of the 4 X 5 bee and I need to get them finished up. For some reason, this just wasn’t the type of sewing I was looking for.

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I just didn’t feel like I had the energy to focus on paper piecing and was really wanting to feel like I was making progress towards a finish. What I needed was mindless sewing and instant gratification. A simple, straight-forward patchwork project was just what I was looking for. Fortunately, I had one on my  Q1 FAL list, cut and ready to be pieced. In the past I have chain pieced pairs of charms, then joined them into 4-square blocks, then continued doubling until I had rows and then doubled up rows until I ended up with a finished quilt. I remembered another chain-piecing technique I saw on a quilting show where you joined the first two columns and then added the third one on without cutting the thread between rows. You end up with all your rows formed and attached to each other by small lengths of thread. I’ve also decided I”m going to try minky for the first time on this quilt. Since it’s for a young child, I was able to keep it small enough that I won’t have to piece the back.

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Despite this quick finish (about two hours from layout to done), I wasn’t very happy with my final product. I knew I wanted to use solids to break up the charms, but didn’t have enough of any one color to use in the entire quilt. I thought these four colors would work well together, but I don’t really love it. Too sherberty for my taste. Fortunately, the mom of the little girl it’s intended for likes it, so I will go ahead and finish it up.

Since I was luke-warm at best with this side project, I was still feeling restless and unable to jump back into one of my other WIPs. What I really wanted to do was play with some of my favorite fabrics. I fell in love with Svetlana’s Pixelated Heart Pillow and having collected quite a few low-volume, neutral and text prints was itching to cut into them. My problem was I have been collecting them for specific projects, none of which would satisfy my desire for instant gratification. I didn’t want to cut into them randomly and end up short when I finally found time to execute my plans. With that in mind, I set out to liberate some scraps. I made a list of six different projects and the cuts required for each, along with some criteria to determine which fabrics would work best in each application. Only one project utilized them all and when I was done I had enough fabric cut for the neutral (used loosely) parts of 110 blocks (2 from each stack).

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I have to say that I was feeling a bit giddy looking at these piles of fabrics. There are just so many favorites here and I can’t wait to start on these blocks. In the meantime, after a full day of cutting, I took the scraps from the lightest of these fabrics, cut some 2 1/2″ squares to pair with squares of pink scraps and pieced together a Pixelated Heart Wall Hanging for Cate and Ava’s room.

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Ahhhh, that’s what I was looking for. There are a few misplaced squares (I really need a design wall!), but all told, I really love how this turned out. I’ve already finished up the quilting and have the binding attached to the front. I hope to get it sewn down while the kiddos are at their dance classes tonight and to have a post up for Finish It Friday. As an added bonus, this little bit of quilting was just enough to motivate me to jump back into quilting my You’re Never A-Lone Star 1, so I’ve come full circle.

On tap for the coming week….

  1. Finish quilting You’re Never A-Lone Star 1
  2. Finish up and send off 4 X 5 Bee Blocks and February Color Bee Shocked blocks

Linking up….

.WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

January: A Lovely Year of Finishes ~ You’re Never A-Lone Star 1 & 2

At the beginning of January, I linked up to A Lovely Year of Finishes with this photo on Flickr…

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I used Jeni’s Giant Star tutorial to make two quilt tops.

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I’m calling these “You’re Never A-Lone Star 1 & 2” and plan to quilt them in a diamond pattern to look like a Lone Star block. These tops are for a special twosome and the name couldn’t be more perfect for them. More when I get them quilted up and gifted.

This was my January A Lovely Year of Finishes goal. I’m linking up…

Finish It Up Friday

A Lovely Year of Finishes
Plum and June

WIP 1.23.13: Waaa Waaa Waaa…

I had grand plans for this week. Which is why it should come as no surprise that I haven’t been able to sit at my machine since I finished up my bee blocks. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia over 15 years ago. I’ve learned how to manage it fairly well, but every once and awhile I have a rough spot. This particular flare-up included back pain, so as much as I wanted to, it just wasn’t worth it to make it worse by sewing. At the same time, it’s impossible for me to keep my hands still. Ever since I was little, I have to be doing something with my hands to sit still and relax…from shuffling cards, pushing buttons on a mindless game or in more recent cases… SEWING HEXIES!

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I have multiple hexie quilts going and this week I decided it was time to catch up on my charm quilt. I  have been making a 1″ hexie out of every piece of fabric that comes my way. Whether a charm pack, charm swap, bundle, or individual prints, one of the first things I do is cut myself a 2 1/2″ square and toss it into a bin. Every once and awhile I try to get caught up. On the left, are my finished ones for the week and on the right, are the ones waiting to be basted.

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It’s been awhile since I dumped them all out, so I took this chance to grab a picture of the lot of them. I didn’t have quite enough energy to try a new layout, but I did take some time to count them before I put them away.

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Each stack above is 20 hexies for 927 total. I’m pretty sure once the ones at top are done I’ll be over 1000. I have no idea how many I need to make a finished quilt, but I think it’s time to decide on a design and start sewing these suckers together.

Linking up…

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday 1.16.13 ~ Bee Boppin’ Along

Those of you who checked out my WIP list, probably noted my crazy number of bee commitments. January, in particular, is a big month with 16 bee blocks due!

Empower at do.Good Stitches

I made two sets of blocks this month… December’s Boy’s Nonsense blocks in goldenrod, yellow, lilac and tan, from Where the Orchards Grow and January’s Many Trips Around the World blocks from Quiltville. January also happens to be my very first month as the quilter. The colors I specified were pink, orange and yellow, with one strip of lime green for the middle of each block. I’m hoping that the green strips will create a lattice design when the quilt is assembled.

01 do.GSI didn’t have much in my stash of goldenrod, lilac or tan and it’s not a color scheme I ever would have thought of, but I love the sophistication of this palette and can’t wait to see the finished quilt. I have been planning a Many Trips Around the World quilt for months now and it’s on my FAL list. It’s been tough not jumping in on the Scrappy Trip Along happening on Flickr, especially since I have all the fabric cut. This gave me the chance to make a few blocks and experiment with how well an additional design element works out. Blocks have already started coming in and I’m excited to start assembling this one and thinking about with quilting ideas.

3 X 6 Sampler Quilt Mini Bee

Hive 8 Sampler
This was my first quarter participating in this mini bee and I signed up for two spots. For my sampler blocks, I chose Jess Kelly’s Simply Woven block. I didn’t have many problems with it when I constructed my test block. But when I went to make them in my bee mates colors, I had a hard time keeping everything from going wonky.

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I think it was a combination of not being quite square when I made my secondary cuts and having a hard time lining up seams. I’ve become good at nesting seams, but with this block your matching seams across the 2 1/2″ strip you add in each step. I always seemed to be a hair off one way or another. I have also been working on making sure I press, not iron. I think with a block like this with long, narrow strips, that’s especially important to avoid distortion. I hope my bee mates aren’t too disappointed with their blocks. I really enjoyed working with color scheme’s I wouldn’t normally choose. I’m not ready to give up on this block yet. Since I have Jelly Rolls of Simply Color and want to make the complete quilt featured at Moda Bake Shop, I’m going to be making more sample blocks. On a side note, Jess is one of my favorite new designers. Not only is her Simply Woven quilt one of my favorites from the past year, but I also love her first independently published pattern, Lucky Squares.

Hive 4 Paper-pieced
For my paper-pieced block I chose Tallahassee from Quilter’s Cache. This was my first try at paper-piecing since the 90’s. This block appears pretty simple and straightforward, four colors and a background. It’s not necessarily difficult to construct, but I underestimated how time consuming it would be. It may just be a few colors, but each color is made up of four blocks and each block is made up of five pieces of fabric. That’s 80 pieces and a whole lot of trimming!

3X6 Q4 Hive 4They aren’t perfect, but I really love how they all turned out. I certainly don’t regret choosing this block, but I’m going to get a much earlier start on my paper-pieced blocks for the 4 X 5 Modern Quilt Bee next month.

On Tap for Next Week

  1. Color Bee Shocked ~ The Modified Bento Box we’re making is going to be a nice change after all the paper-piecing I’ve done this week. Hopefully, they will be finished and out by this weekend.
  2. Lucky Star BOM ~ Practice Block and January Block
  3. Gen X BOM ~ January
  4. Aurifil BOM ~ January
  5. January’s A Lovely Year of Finishes Goal ~ I have both Giant Stars constructed, but am considering adding a border to one of them.
  6. Madrona Road MQG Challenge ~ Our guild didn’t get our fabric until the beginning of this month, so we’re extending the challenge through February. If possible I would like to get it done and a picture submitted to the Flickr group by the national deadline.

Linking up…

WIP Wednesday

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