Thursday, February 25, 2021

Squaring up Quilt Blocks with Embellishments

 Squaring up quilt blocks is not something I typically need to do.  But with applique blocks it's the best way to ensure your blocks will finish at the correct size.  Even the best of quilters can have some shrinking of background fabric during the applique process.  So as a general rule applique background fabric is cut 1-3 inches larger than the finished size of the block then trimmed to the correct size after the applique is stitched in place.  Most the time the trimming down is fairly simple process. Just press the block and square up to the correct size.  This cute little dresden with yo-yo's will take a little extra effort.

I have the correct size square up ruler but it's not going to work.

The problem is the yo-yo's.  They will not allow the ruler to make contact with the cutting mat.  In the image below the ruler is sitting on top of the dresden block and I can slide a pair of scissors between the ruler and the block.

Did it stop me from trying to square up a block?  No.  And as you probably already guessed the ruler slid, causing me to cut the block a little wonky and too small.  Thankfully the error is not huge and I can still use the block.  It's nothing that a little pinning and "easing in" can't hide.

The June Taylor 12.5" Get Squared Ruler would work great for squaring up this block.  The fussy cutting 6.5" window would have nested perfectly around the yo-yo's.  Sadly I only own the 9.5" version.  I could order it and wait for it to arrive.  Or make the drive into town and hope that Joann's really has it in stock.  The website says its in stock but I've been fooled by that nonsense one to many times.

Plan B:  Use a smaller cutting mat, cut one side at a time and rotate the mat after each cut.  I have a rotating mat that is the same size as this blue Westcott mat but I want to use this blue mat because it's a prettier color and I rarely use it.  I can rotate it without shifting the block.   By the way, I love this little $6 mat I purchased at WalMart.   This normally sets beside me at the sewing machine.  It's used for trimming and squaring up quilt block units.  She's holding up much better than my rotating mat that cost $30.  So if you see one at WalMart it's a great bargain mat.

This is one time I wish my applique had caused some shrinking to the background fabric.  I can't trim the block if I can't see the lines on the mat.

I can faintly see the numbers through the fabric.  Maybe they would be easier to see with a ruler on top of the block.  HAHA!  No you silly girl.  I wish I had a medium sized cutting mat. A medium mat could also be rotated to make the cutting easier. Unfortunately all I have is this small mat and the 24 x 36 mat.  

Plan C: I made a 12.5" square on my large cutting mat with painters tape. Marked a centering line on each side of the square.

Next I folded and creased a center mark on all four sides of the block.  On this block I've used a water soluble marker to make it easier for you to see.

To square up the block I can use the lines on the ruler and the lines on the mat extending out past the tape. The tape is a little outside the cutting line I need to use to make the cut.

This was a little bit harder than a rotating mat but it works.  Where there's a will there's a way.   

Let's see if measures up okay.

Looks pretty good!  Yah!  It's smooth sailing from here.  All I need to do is trim up the rest of these and then I can sew together the quilt top.  Woohoo!  Another UFO soon to be completed.  Now to start thinking about the quilting design.   The yo-yo's are going to add a little extra challenge to that part of the process too.  Oh well, that's part of the fun, don't you think?

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Implementing the Scrap Saver System

 Well I've pulled out and dusted off the die cutter and decided to jump on board the scrap saver system.  What's the point of having all those scraps if you don't use them.  And what's the point of having a die cutter if you don't use it.  So lets do this!  Woohoo!  I'm super excited to get this journey started.  I'll be using the Bonnie Hunter scrap system.   As we all know she is the Scrap Queen.  So we might as well follower her lead.

My scraps are sorted by colors and age.  I know what your thinking, AGE?  Yes, I have a larger older and less loved bunch of scraps.  These go back to my early years of quilting when my pallet of choice was much darker.   Then I have my smaller "new" scrap stash of bright fabrics.  

To start off this scrap cutting journey I need to deal with the old fabrics first.  With this being a new to me way of dealing with scraps the chances of errors are pretty good.  Errors on old ugly fabric don't hurt as bad as errors on pretty new loved fabrics.  

Now which color do I start with first?  Hmmm.... Let's start with the green scrap bins.  It's getting close to St' Patrick's day so why not make this festive little activity. 

Years of saving scraps can't be sorted and cut in one day or one week.  Keeping my expectations real, I decided to pull out what I think will be 2 or 3 hours worth of work.  That seems like a reasonable plan.  If it works out well I could make this a weekly activity.  So here's what I pulled from the first bin.  Finding a few 2.5" strips felt like I won the jackpot.  No cutting required, YAH!  I'm off to a good start.  Now to start pressing the pile of fabrics to be cut. 

In my research about using die cutters I read you will get better results if you starch the fabrics.  I also read that this really expensive new product is the best.  I'll let you know what I think about this new to me product on Friday with a new Nifty Notions review.

As I dug through the second bin of green I found this bag of low volume whites hiding in the bottom.  This was a happy surprise. I might be able to combine the two green bins to make one since the low volume white needs to find it's way to the neutral bin.

Then I found tons of string fabric.  Should I toss it in the scraps for dog bins or save them for making rugs?  UGG, this is getting hard.  I'm a fabric hoarder.  The hoarder in me says deal with at another time.  So for now they will stay right here.

I didn't make a very big dent in my green stash bins.  Sigh...this scrap saver system could take months to complete.

After starching and ironing things moved along much quicker.  The Sizzix can cut through 10 layers of fabric at a time.  ZIP! ZIP! ZIP! Lickety split!

Here's the results of my first scrap saver system cutting session.  Several 2.5" strips, some strings for string blocks and a pile of scraps for the dog bed stuffing stash.  It took a little longer than planned, about 4 hours.  Hopefully this will get easier and faster. 

The problem.  Cutting fabric = Sewing fabrics.  It's only natural.  I cut fabric, I make a quilt, it's instinct.  The wheels start turning for a quick log cabin quilt or maybe a scrappy trip around the world.  Or I could whip out a really quick rail fence quilt!  Oh dear lord what have I done?  Do I start another project or do I continue with the scrap saver plan?

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Next! UFO #3 for 2021

What a shocker right?  Me having another UFO dresden quilt.  There's something about the dresden quilt block that keeps me coming back for more.  This quilt was started in 2017.  It was a free block of the month by Quilt Doodle Designs.  

I've completed all of the blocks but the last two alternating blocks.  I printed one of them back in 2017, now I need to find the last block PDF file on one of my many flash drives.  It might be easier to purchase the one block pattern.  

 If you're interested in this quilt it's now available for purchase in her pattern shop here.  Each block can be purchased separately or as a complete quilt pattern.

Most of the fabrics I chose for this quilt are Lori Holt prints but there's a few other prints from other designers mix in with them.

All of the blocks were stored in this 2 gallon zip lock bag just like my other dresden quilt I'm currently working on.  When I found these bags I thought they were the best thing since sliced bread.  Twelve inch blocks fit in them perfectly.

The Sugar and Spice dresden blocks came out of the bag looking perfect.  But these blocks have yellowed.  I'm not sure if  I used a different starch or if maybe one of the fabrics caused the yellowing but I need to fix the problem before assembling them into a quilt top. 

To make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me I decided to pull out the bolt of background fabric I was saving for the backing of the quilt.  It too was stored in plastic.  The plastic bag for the bolt came from a package of batting.

Again, I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture but there is a definite yellowing of the quilt block to the left of the line I added to the image.  Luckily I think I know how to remove the yellowing.  There's a few products out there made for removing the yellowing of vintage fabrics.  However I'm going to try something suggested by Kelly Kline.  She works almost exclusively with vintage quilt tops and linens.  She suggests ammonia and water, then if needed a product called Retro Clean. You can read more about her process here and here

Well  I'm going to try an ammonia and dawn dish soap overnight soak.  Then in the morning I'll rinse the one block and hang to dry in front of a fan.  I'll let you know how it goes in tomorrows blog post.

While I'm waiting for the magic to happen in the laundry room I need to come up with a plan for finishing the quilt.  The finished layout looks like this.  The green vine with nothing on it isn't doing much for me.  Not that is bad.  You know me, I have a hard time sticking to a pattern.

A few google searches for border ideas and I found a few that have promise.  Just how fancy do I want to get?  Do I want pieced or applique?  There's plenty of fabric left in the project box to do anyone of the borders below.  There's also plenty of time to mull over these ideas and look for more if needed.
Maybe a plain border would be nice?  

My word of the year


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Monday, February 22, 2021

On Ringo Lake(A Podunk Picnic) Finish

 Finishing a Quiltville Mystery is a major accomplishment in my quilting world.  I don't typically make quilts with so many little pieces.  Bonnie style of quilting is a little bit more classic/traditional than my style.  Every once in awhile it's good to get out of the comfort zone.

The challenge isn't just in the tiny pieces that are for the most part cut individually.  Choosing fabrics for a mystery can be challenging since I almost always change the colors.  Thank goodness she gives us a month to choose fabrics before the first clue is released.  It usually takes that long for me to commit to a color pallet.   My scrap bins are not over flowing with my pallet of choice.  So when I make a Bonnie quilt I'm cutting from scraps all the way up to yardage.

I'm not one of those quilters who counts how many prints or how many pieces are in a quilt but I can tell you there is A LOT of both in mine.  One of the good things about finally finishing this quilt is I can finally put all those larger pieces of fabric back in my stash cabinet.

Quilting this beauty went fairly quick since I chose to to almost 100% free motion.  My quilting plan was to keep the quilting fairly light.  I had an idea but the idea didn't work, so I just added a little more quilting until I was satisfied with the look of the quilting.  My plan was to only quilt in the white areas and the yellow sashing pieces.  In my mind it looked great but once on the quilt it left to much poof in the corners of the blocks.  Adding quilting to the yellow and green areas of each corner balanced out the quilting and pleased my picky eyes.  I also hadn't planned to do feathers in the border.  The plan was for straight line ruler work.  But feathers are quicker so feathers it is.  

The backing is pretty boring compared to the front of the quilt.   Just one happy little yellow heart for the label.  I've recently started adding the label to the backing before quilting the quilt.  This is a sure fire way to make sure the label is never removed.  It also seems to be faster than adding after quilting the quilt.  The white fabric on the back was also used for the binding.  I love how the white binding lets the quilt just fade off instead of having an abrupt ending frame.

The backing was two pieces of yardage I already had in the stash.  I was planning on a yellow floral but it was just too much yellow.  

My quilt labels for the last year or so have been simple white squares with a frame using scraps of fabric from the quilt.  This time I decided to get a little wild and crazy and make a cute little heart block.  I've also put together a quilt label making kit.  In my kit is everything I need to make the same size label for every quilt.  Anyone interested in how to make a quilt label kit?  

A Podunk Picnic is ready to be cuddled and loved.  I can't wait to put her on the guest bed later in the week.  So you'll probably see it at least one more time this week.  But for now it's time to just relax and enjoy the snow. Playtime, Let's make a Snowman!

Yes my friends I love snow.  It's so pretty.  Podunk in winter is brown.  Brown grass, brown trees, brown farm fields all around us.  BROWN with gray skies.  The pretty white snow brightens things up a bit and gives me and Mr. Podunk the opportunity to let our inner child come out to play.  Every year we try to make at least one snowman.  I make the bottom ball of snow and he makes he top two balls since they are too heavy for me to lift.  Dried up coneflowers for the eyes, dried gaillardia for the nose and a brick chip for the mouth.  Mr. Podunk made the arms and I added the accessories.  It was Mr. Podunk's idea to add the sign. 

The sign was a birthday gift from my best quilting buddy Bev.  I've been a quilter for 30+ years but this blog began in 2011.  Wow, it's hard to believe I've been chatting away about quilting for 10 yrs. 

My Word of the Year

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