Economy Blocks…Hello, There

Economy Block Quilt-Along

The Economy Block Quilt-Along (perhaps better known stateside as the square in square block) is in full swing. It’s 2014’s version of the crazy popular Scrappy Trip-Along that started about this time last year. (Raise your hand if you’re still working on the quilt!).

Economy Block Quilt-Along

I usually let these quilting trends just pass me by because they distract me from other projects, but given my need for fun sewing this year, I jumped in with both feet.

Ages ago I went through my Munki Munki stash and pulled out bits that were fussy cut or duplicates. I set them aside with some coordinating scraps thinking someday I’d make an I Spy quilt…one day. The economy block is absolutely perfect for this!

Economy Block Quilt-Along

I’m doing the 5″ block pattern from Red Pepper Quilts, but if that’s too small for you, there’s a handy calculator for making the block at your preferred size. I pre-cut dozens of blocks and have them in a basket next to my sewing machine for easy access (see this post for more info).

Table Top Sewing

Are you making these blocks, too? Link up in the comments so I can see yours!

More inspiration from the quilt along in the {Flickr group}.

Featherweight

Pale Celery

Meet my new sewing machine. It’s a 1964-ish Singer Featherweight.

Pale Celery

I never wanted a Singer Featherweight until I saw the “white” ones. It’s hard to tell in photos but they actually have a greenish hue and Singer called the color “pale celery” which is pretty dang accurate. There is just something sort of mod and cool about these. I can imagine the woman who used to live in my 1954 house sewing on one of these.

I almost bought one on Ebay right before Christmas for around $500. I’m glad I didn’t because I found this one locally for $275. It has fewer presser feet and the case is not as pristine but it sews beautifully.

Pale Celery

The name Featherweight is a bit of a misnomer because for such a tiny thing it is pretty heavy. The threading took me some getting used to and this is probably one of the only machines ever made that needles have to be inserted sideways. I read it in the manual but my brain thought it couldn’t be right. I can’t tell you how many times I re-threaded it thinking that was the problem before I finally turned the needle.

I joined a Facebook group for vintage machine owners and it seems to be a bit of an obsession. I’m not sure that I want a whole collection of them.  Do you have a vintage machine? And are you now addicted to buying them?

My Stars Blog: Photos, Minis, and Resolutions

If you’re new to this blog, you may not know that I also blog for My Stars – the modern imprint from Kansas City Star publishers. I write about quilty stuff, but it’s usually a little different than what I share here. So here’s what I’ve been up to over there:

Sharing some quilt photography basics and mistakes I’ve made. Screenshot-2014-01-15-11

Talking about my current obsession with mini quilts.

Screenshot-2014-01-15-11.33Making resolutions and goals for 2014.

Screenshot-2014-01-13-01.18Stop by and say hi!

Color Palette: Modern Prep

Color Palette: Modern Prep

Sometimes I pull fabrics together based on a graphic I love or even a piece of clothing, but these fabrics practically threw themselves into the basket at my local quilt shop.

The Botanics + Honeysweet prints are really, really, REALLY  pretty together,  I added in some Shelburne Falls, Acacia, Hand Drawn Garden, and few repros to round things out.

Color Palette: Modern Prep

I’m not sure if this stack of fabrics will ever become a quilt, but I do so love the combination. It is preppy and classic with the jade, navy, and mustard, and the minty and peachy shades add some fresh zing to a palette that might otherwise be quite simple.

What colors do you think of as “modern prep”?

 

It’s Been a Slow Journey

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

My scrappy trip around the world journey, that is. I pulled all of the 2½” strips from my basket of fabric strings…probably about a year ago to start this project. I made six blocks at one of my small group retreats last year.

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

And then I packed up my pile of a bajillion strips and that’s how it stayed until last week when I had the {table top sewing} epiphany. Wroking on this project in small snippets is  no-brainer – once you’ve made one, you literally never need to look at the instructions again. And these blocks are really fast to make. If you’re working with pre-cut strips like me, you could easily make the quilt top in a weekend.

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

I re-sorted my pile of strips into some more manageable sets, ending up with enough for three different quilts. The pink-ish version is the one I’m working on first. I sewed 18 srips sets while watching Clue on Amazon Prime video last week (that movie is still as awesome today is it was in the 80s Maybe more because I’m sure there were joke that totally went over my head when I was a kid.).

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

Two helpful things to have on hand while you’re making these blocks – a pair of spring loaded scissors to quickly snip off excess length from strips and Clover Wonder Clips for keeping the strip sets together after you cut them.

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

(If you aren’t making this quilt, you have to seam rip the strip sets at one point – a good activity to do while catching up on your DVR shows).

My other piles of piles of strip sets are very different color-wise; one is more boyish with lots of green and orange:

Scrappy Trip-along Progress

And the other is a very limited palette for me (only 5 or 6 colors!).. I didn’t photograph it but I’ll do that next time I update on this quilt project.

Funny how one “easy” scrap quilt project has now turned into three different quilts…

Table Top Sewing

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably very much like me in that you’re obsessed with quilting (and fabric). We all want to sew as much as possible and actually finish projects. I have some big things going on in 2014 that will limit my personal sewing time to a degree, but I still want to make time for some just-for-fun projects.

My solution? Table Top Sewing. I changed things around a bit in my sewing space (tour to come soon) so I now have a lot more surface space. That means more room for stacks of fabric and papers and notions and other random junk, right? NO! I’ve set up five baskets on my table tops with sewing projects mostly ready to sew.

Table Top Sewing

Top Center: Mini quilts. Currently working on Camille Roskelley’s Mini Puddle Jumping quilt

Bottom Left:  Scrappy 4-patches. All scraps!

Bottom Right: Economy/Square in Square Blocks with my Munki Munki stash

Table Top Sewing

Left: APQ Quilt-along Tone It Down quilt (still need to finish cutting this one out)

Right: Scrappy Trip Around the World blocks. Lots of them.

How is this different from what I used to do? Most of my WIPs are in bins in a closet and out of sight is out of mind. I pulled several projects that lend themselves to being sewn in short stints (i.e. nothing with complicated instructions or fabric placement that needs a design wall, etc.). My thinking is that I can sew one or two blocks from a basket each time I go in my space (whether its to work or to sew) and I”ll slowly whittle down each project.

Since there are likely going to be large gaps of time in between when I work on these projects, I’ve made a check list to help me keep track of where I am. This is a good habit to start for any sewing project you’re working! I usually make a post-it or keep track on the pattern page – never quite as formal as the this:

VMQ-table-top-sewing-3

I am a super nerd for organization though….

RESOURCES: Mint berry basket {World Market}, Bird tray {IKEA}, Teal baskets {Target}, white bins {IKEA}

Aspen Frost Improv Circles

Aspen Frost Improv Circles

I made this quilt as a sample for a demo I did at QuiltCon in February 2013. Yes, it has taken me almost a year to photograph and blog about it! I was kinda busy last year.

The binding is Pezzy Prints (goes with everything!) by American Jane and I quilted it with a free motion Christmas tree design that I just made up. It does require you to be able to quilt the design upside-down, as well. I’m sure there are better digitized Christmas tree quilting patterns out there, but I couldn’t find any for domestic sewing machines (i.e. free hand!).

Aspen Frost Improv Circles

This quilt may look tricky with the improvisational curves but it’s pretty easy to get the hang of the technique. It used 90% of a layer cake plus about a yard of coordinating solids for the quilt top.  This was the first-ever Christmas quilt I made. My son was about 14 months old when I was working on it and he was obsessed with the snowman print. The fabric line is Aspen Frost by Basic Grey – a good modern Christmas line that you can probably still find in stores.

Dimensions: 51″ x  60″

Fabrics: Aspen Frost by Basic Grey,  Pezzy Prints by American Jane, and Bella Solids by Moda Fabrics

Pattern: Original design by Lisa Calle {free tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop}

Quilting Thread:  Aurifil #2600, 50 wt cotton mako

Quilting Design: free hand Christmas trees

Started: February 2013

Completed: February 2013

Quilt Photography

I love photography and I have a fairly nice camera. But having never taken a photography class (I have pinned a lot of good advice on Pinterest that I’m sure I’ll get to someday!), I’m always sorta winging it/fumbling around in the dark. I love the magic of a beautiful photo and improving my photography is a resolution I’ve committed to for 2014, but no matter how good you are at operating the equipment, you’ve got to admit that quilt photography is it’s own special challenge.

Lighting, angles, lenses….blah, blah, blah. I won’t even go there, but I will tell you the one thing that has made my life so much easier INSTANTLY! A photography backdrop stand.

My husband is not always the best quilt photography assistant (my parents are surprisingly good and quite entertaining) and it’s hard to take photos by yourself. Add to that the challenge of a yard that is mostly shaded by a huge live oak…but now I can move the stand to the perfectly lit location (in complete shadow adjacent to complete sunshine FYI).

Photo Backdrop Stand

The stand is lightweight, but definitely not flimsy. I can lift it straight up in the air with two hands while assembled with a quilt on it. And I’m very wimpy. I don’t recommend using one when it’s windy unless you like to see your quilt and stand go flying away like a giant kite.

I obviously still have some improvements to make (like, why didn’t I center the quilt over just a brick background?), but I’m super happy with the stand and it will make pattern photography much easier. It’s also pretty inexpensive – definitely cheaper than I expected when I went searching online. I bought {this one}. Just under $65 and free shipping with Amazon Prime. You will also need a set of clamps.

Christmas Puddle Jumping Quilt

Christmas Puddle Jumping

This one wasn’t ready in time to actually enjoy on Christmas but I have a major head start for Christmas 2014. Right?

Christmas Puddle Jumping

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to the holidays so red and white was an easy choice for a Christmas quilt.  The little pops of green for the sashing squares are a reminder that this is a Christmas quilt, not just a red and white quilt that can sneak into the house any old time of year.

The snowflake quilting echoes that message. I used a jar lid, a quarter, and a ruler to mark the snowflake design. It’s something I made up to fit in the block.  My initial thought was to do a different design in each one but marking was tedious enough. I struggled with the quilting on this one but I’m really happy with the result.  I did a smaller and simpler snowflake in the sashing squares and a loopy sashing/border design.

Christmas Puddle Jumping

This poor quilt has already been through so much abuse and it’s barely been finished a week. While I was basting it, my dogs trampled it with muddy paws and my toddler spilled apple juice on it. Then one or both of the dogs used it as a fire hydrant while we were iced in the house for four days.  But thank goodness washing it in the middle of the quilting process doesn’t seem to have caused any issues.

Christmas Puddle Jumping

The binding is a wonderful bias stripe from Bonnie and Camille’s Scrumptious line. It is absolute perfection for binding. You get the bias look without having to make bias binding. Thank you, ladies, for making me look like I worked harder than I did. I’ll definitely be buying yardage of that print in several colors to hoard for future projects.

Dimensions: 75″ x  75″

Fabrics:  scrappy mix of reds + green dot for sashing squares, binding is red Bias Stripe from Scrumptious by Bonnie and Camille for Moda Fabrics

Pattern: Puddle Jumping by Camille Roskelley of Thimbleblossoms

Quilting Thread:  Aurifil #2024, 50 wt cotton mako

Quilting Design: Snowflakes + loops in the borders/sashing

Started: November 2013

Completed: December 2013

Quilts I Made in 2013

What a year! 21 finished quilts and several more started. The link below each photo goes to my original post about the quilt (except for the last three, which I haven’t blogged about yet).  I blogged about my 2014 goals on the My Stars blog on Monday so please hop over there to see what’s on my mind for sewing in the new year.

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Giant Scrappy Blocks Micah’s Quilt Cotton Candy Quilt Ben’s Quilt
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Red + Aqua Happy Go Round Stars and 4-Patches Vintage Summer
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Ombre Star Mod Circus Belle Squared A Tied Quilt
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Cool Charms Spring Storms Turkish Delight Midcentury
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Lucky Strike Bitty Bunting Quilt Christmas Puddle Jumping Aspen Frost
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Daisy Chain Rail Fence