Sunday, September 27, 2015

Progress Report and Lessons Learned (So Far)

I am still improvising solutions for working on large quilts in my small space with a smaller design wall.  This weekend, I went outside.

9 blocks

I am making a very large (100 inches square) version of the quilt. This chunk is 9 blocks (upper left corner) of the 25 blocks in the quilt. Because I decided to forgo cutting the 891 white squares in the original design and cut larger sections as each block allowed, I got a little bit of a jump start on the quilt-along schedule. Also, I am a little obsessed with it ...

Making the blocks out of numerical order made it easier for me to see the transitions of the various colored subway lines.  This corner includes blocks numbered 1-3, 6-8 and 11-13.

I mentioned before that I had saved the block patterns from the original QAL in 2010.  While I did save the block diagrams, I did not save the helpful blog posts ... that are now no longer online.  Oops.

I've approached cutting the white background into larger pieces where possible by cutting for the individual blocks as I assemble them.  I print the block diagram and mark it up to know what sizes I need to cut from the background.  I start with width of fabric (WOF) strips that are cut in widths that are equivalent to 1 square, 2 squares and 3 squares. As I am making the decisions of how to chunk the background area, I am also thinking about how the block can be sewn together and pressed, since the pieces in a single block will no longer be a simple 8-by-8 grid.

I suspect the time saved by not cutting those 891 small white squares is now being spent deciding what larger sized chunks I need for each block and puzzling the pieces together–but since I enjoy that kind of a challenge, it's all good :-)

It's going to be a monster quilt–had I made a single block before cutting the 709 colored squares, I think I would have decided to make a smaller quilt–but I am looking forward to quilting it and already thinking about the quilting design.

Because the scrappy orange line is prominent in this section, I'm joining the last orange link-up for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. If anyone has been eying the Tokyo Subway Map Quilt pattern but not sure they want to cut all those squares, I was thinking how one could cut the squares from one color each month as part of the RSC (there are 12 colored lines in the quilt).

I am also joining these lists:

Oh Scrap!
Design Wall Monday
Creative Goodness

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Missing My Big Design Wall

I have some ideas about how/where I can put a big design wall in my little sewing room, but until that happens, I have been making do with the living room floor.

Missing my big design wall

It seemed like it would work OK, until one of my cats decided to have fun and kept passing through, messing things up and nonchalantly leaving the scene of the crime.

Fleeing the scene of the crime ... Johnny Strikes again

... but the sun is in this spot ...When caught in the act, he quickly switched gears and tried to distract me with flirting ...

Incredibly, I did get the blocks sewn together.

I haven't yet decided on borders, binding or quilting design ... but I figure I have enough time to make those decisions and finish this in time for Spring's arrive in 6 months.

Sharing my adventure with the list for Design Wall Monday.

Very Scrappy Tulip Garden quilt top

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Symbiotic Projects

Two projectsSoon after I blogged about joining the Tokyo Subway Map QAL, I had one of those, "what was I thinking?" moments.  I never cut all the fabrics for a quilt before sewing and I hated the idea of spending all that time doing nothing but cutting.  While I confess that I am going to cheat a little, the quilt, as designed, is made from 1600 squares cut from 12 colors plus black and white.

Playing around with the very scrappy Tulip blocks gave me an idea and a way to break up all that cutting ... and reward myself for slogging through it.

As I was going through my scrap bins, I pulled scraps large enough for either project, and after I cut everything I could from the scraps in one color, I took a break and sewed 4 tulip blocks in that color.

Now I have all the colored squares cut (and about half the black-on-black squares I'll need) AND I've made 25 Tulip blocks, enough for a throw-sized quilt.

In case you missed it in an earlier blog post, the Tulip block is this month's pattern for the Block Lotto and you can find the link to the pattern in this post on, and there's a badge in the sidebar of this blog that will take you to the details for the Tokyo Subway Map Quilt-along.

I picked up some a white-on-white print for the background and I am itching to start making Tokyo Subway Map blocks ... but maybe I should use that as the reward for getting the Tulip blocks sewn into a top and keep the symbiosis going to get both projects closer to "done, done."

I am joining the list for WIP Wednesday with these two projects.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Orange You Going to Ask?

A couple days ago I shared some very scrappy purple tulip blocks, made using this month's Block Lotto pattern.  I was making them for a small project idea I had for a sewing machine cover, similar to the one in this post, but decided the scale was wrong and I needed a smaller, different block.   I woke up with a new idea today, but I wondered what to do with the purple blocks?  Were you also curious about their future?

Scrappy Orange Tulip BlocksI decided that the answer was to make them some colorful friends.

Even though I really haven't participated in Angela's Rainbow Scraps Challenge much this year, I decided to go with the flow and start with the September's color and make some very scrappy orange tulips.

I sorted through my orange scraps and found twenty fabrics (plus one in a complimentary turquoise for the center).  Things are shuffled so that each block is made from 16 different fabrics.  At times I wondered if maybe I was making these blocks a little TOO scrappy.  They look very different than the ones we're making on which can be made  from two (or more) tulip fabrics per block.

After making the orange blocks, I was on a roll, so I kept going–organizing my scrap bins and also cutting squares for the Tokyo Subway Map quilt along the way.

Next I made some red tulips to add to the mix and put them all together on the design wall and they looked like this:

Scrappy Tulip Blocks

I envision that with the addition of some more blocks, this will become a colorful, scrappy, throw-sized quilt.  Making them is kind of like eating potato chips, so who knows if/when I will be able to stop ...

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Scrap-Happy Works in Progress

My scrap bins - it starts hereThis is how scrappy projects begin at my house, with my sorted-by-color scrap bins. They go from neatly folded 5 inch squares, stacked on end with everything visible, to this messy (non) arrangement ...

The bins are re-used produce containers which once contained spinach or mixed lettuces.

In this case, I used some of these fabrics to make a couple of Sunrise blocks (from last year's Block Lotto).

Scrappy Rising Sun blocks - in progressSome friends from the Modern-ish mini group asked me to demonstrate Dale Fleming's 6-minute circle technique and I was working on some samples to use in my demo–hint, it's a great technique for other kinds of curves besides those perfect circles :-)

As someone who already has more orphan blocks and UFOs than any sane quilter should, I didn't want to produce more, so I'll be using my demo-samples to make placemats for the guild's community service group's annual effort.  The placemats go to Kitchen Angels.

A couple of days ago, I had a little idea about how to use this month's Block Lotto pattern and so yesterday, pulled out the purple bin of scraps and made these five scraptastic Tulip blocks.

Scrap-tastic Tulip Blocks

There are 25 different purple fabrics used in these 5 blocks. I like them, but not for the original project idea, so I'll be pulling out some more of the scrap bins and making more for my new idea :-) 

My quilting mojo must be coming back in a fashion, because I also had a new idea for some 1 1/2 inch strips gifted to me by someone in the guild's QOV mini-group.  At our meeting last week, I created some test blocks. 

Testing a block idea for a QOV quiltHere are the first two. I think it has possibilities and plan to make many more.

The foundation pattern I used was drawn with paper and pencil. Now I am struggling playing with EQ to create a more precise version. It looks like it should be so easily done, but for me ... not so much.

I am amazed at this group, not only for the beautiful QOV quilts they create, but how they all show up SO organized and focused and ready to sew for three hours before they pack it all up and take everything home again.

I am a lot LESS organized.  Here's a peek at my work area last week. I usually take Isaac, my trusty workhorse of a sewing machine (AKA a Singer 301).

My messy space at the QOV Mini-group

Now that I've decided to move forward with this block idea, maybe I can get things a little more organized for next time. 

As you can see the mojo's coming back, but maybe I could use a bit more focus ... 

I am joining the lists for Scraptastic Tuesday and WIP Wednesday

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Design Wall Tuesday ... Tulips in September

I couldn't share this yesterday because it's the September block for the Block Lotto and had to be kept secret until today.

This block looks like a traditional block, but when I went looking in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, I couldn't find it, so I am just calling it Tulip.  I had fun playing with the different ways one could scrappify it.

You can find my block directions and fabric guidelines for the Block Lotto this month in this post:

Think Spring (!?) in September

If this block appeals to you, it's easy to jump into the Block Lotto and play along (and maybe win a pile of blocks).

I am belatedly joining the list for yesterday's Design Wall Monday.
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