Brain dump

There’s so much going on I just can’t keep it all straight in my head. Home, work, quilting, blogging… I’m not accustomed to this! Bear with my (rather scary) stream-of-consciousness post today!

I work for the local Convention & Visitors Bureau, and we talked about different itineraries for tour bus groups that would keep people in the area overnight. Of course I went straight to quilting! We have seven or eight quilt shops within a 30 minute drive, plus there are over a hundred barn quilt blocks in the county. I downloaded the list of barn quilts and divided them into quadrants, then worked out a semi-efficient map for each quadrant. Yesterday I drove the first quadrant so I could see what worked, what didn’t. Some of the blocks are too small, some too far from the road to see easily from a tour bus. I wanted to avoid turning around, so some maps will need to be rearranged. One beautiful block is out because it’s either turn the bus around on a narrow back country road, or drive over a scary little arched wooden bridge with a 15 ton weight limit. I also stopped in at a new quilt shop, Twin Turtle Quilts, and chatted with her about personal and professional quilty stuff. She has an interesting product that I may be telling you more about, once she has an Etsy shop or some way of selling it outside the shop. The road trip ended with a visit to The Cheese People of Beloit, a shop dedicated to – you guessed it – cheese! I purchased a special online deal for $50 worth of cheese for just $25. I had no trouble spending it!

I saw the doctor on Friday about a suspicious spot on my skin. Fortunately she is pretty sure that it’s nothing to be concerned about, and it will disappear on its own in a couple of weeks. I’ll tell you – I saw that spot on Sunday, made the appointment on Monday, and was in on Friday. I don’t want to mess around with it. During the appointment we also talked about my coughing problem. Spring and summer I’m fine, but when the temperatures and humidity drop, I have problems. If I talk too much (and I always do) or when I go to sleep, I start coughing uncontrollably, sometimes to the point of crying and even gagging. (Yep, too much information.) She thinks it could be allergies, as the inside of my nose was quite swollen. She also things that might be the cause of the ringing in my ears that has continued for several months. She gave me a prescription for Flonase, but I hate the idea of taking a steroid. Some of the side effects are things that I already struggle with, like acne and depression, and I’m hesitant to take it. Does anyone have experience with that drug?

Happier stuff: I have another post going up on the Electric Quilt blog on November 3 that talks about a way to organize your projects so they’re easier to find and use. The person I communicate with liked my idea, so I’m pretty (brace yourself, I’m going back to the 80s for this word) stoked. She sent me a copy of Judy Martin’s Star Power software for EQ7 and I installed it last week. I’ll be posting more soon, along with a giveaway.

At the September Stitch & Bitch, I showed my aunt my Pinterest board of faster, easier quilts that her charity group could make. She liked several of them, including the Kingdom Courtyards quilt by John aka Quilt Dad. The pattern is in Issue 8 of Fat Quarterly e-zine. During show & tell, however, my mom showed a lap quilt that she’d made. (That’s my mom on the right.)

Mom's Lap Quilt

She raved about the simplicity and speed of the pattern, and Karen jumped on it. Silly me, I got a little – well, jealous is a strong word. I decided to show just how easy the Kingdom Courtyards quilt was, and I started pulling fabrics. That was Saturday afternoon. By Tuesday, I had this:

Rings 1

Sorry, the photo is dark because the yard is shaded in the afternoon. Here’s another photo, just so I can enjoy that gorgeous yard. It looks nothing like that now.

Rings 3

I admit, I did not have the actual pattern so I just made it up as I went along, with John’s photo for inspiration. I’m very happy with how it turned out, although it’s still isn’t quilted. I used all of the cut off corners to make half square triangles and turned them into these:

Leftover Triangles 3

I wasn’t thinking when I put the last row of green triangles on – I should have used more prints, but that’s okay. Originally I was going to use them on the back, but now I think they’re going into their own quilt. That makes three quilts in progress using that same green background fabric, because I’m using it for my 2012 Botanicals BOM blocks, too. I’d show you the blocks – and I do have them! – but I haven’t taken any photos yet.

Speaking of September’s Stitch & Bitch, here are some photos:

Mickey's Stringy Rails Top

Aunt Mickey & her Stringy Rails Top

Mom's Table Topper

Mom’s Table Topper. I can never get her to smile for these photos…

Lisa Blooms

Lisa’s Bloom Wall Hanging

Mickey's Hole in the Barn Door Quilt

Mickey’s Hole in the Barn Door top

Jeanne's Cheating on the Farmer's Wife Part Deux

Jeanne’s Cheating on the Farmer’s Wife Part Deux

That’s my brother helping with the quilts. You can see more on Jeanne’s Cheating on the Farmer’s Wife Part Deux quilt at her blog, Grey Cat Quilts.

Okay, that’s it. End of brain dump. There’s lots more to talk about, but my brain says it’s time to stop.


EQ Blog(-ger)

I mentioned earlier that I had some fun stuff in the works, and this is the first thing I can share:

I’m writing some posts for the new Electric Quilt blog! It’s called “Behind the Mouse,” and my first post went up today. You can see it here: I wrote about how EQ7 can be used in conjunction with some of the block books that are so readily available today.

Now, you know I mention EQ7 fairly frequently in my blog, and I wanted to clarify: I am not paid, or even asked, to write about it. I just love the program and share my projects and opinions here. I don’t want to turn into a blog about quilting advertisements. It works for some blogs, and more power to them, but that isn’t me, at least not now. I’d love to make money from my blog, but that would require consistency and I’m a long ways from that! Still, I won’t avoid writing about something commercial if I truly believe in it.

Anyway, with that out there, I’d love it if you checked out my post, and maybe looked around the new Electric Quilt blog and website. They made some substantial changes, and there’s some good stuff for EQ users and non-EQ users alike. And for those EQ users, watch this space… I have a giveaway coming up!

TYSS: Crossed Canoes

This block is also called Crossed Kayaks. If you’re following the white & bright layout, it is pink and white. It is another foundation pieced block, this time one that requires four separate pieces that are joined together. Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts used this block in her Skill Builder Foundation Piecing post, so you could follow along on this post if you’d like. Her post demonstrates the more common method of foundation piecing that sews through the paper. She also shows how to join multiple paper pieced sections. If you prefer to use the freezer paper method, check out my Skill Builder post.

In order to keep all of the Test Your Skills Sampler blocks in one place, I’m also providing the foundation PDF here. Just click here to download the PDF. The block finishes at 9″ but each quadrant is done separately, which means it can be printed on regular Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″).

Woohoo! There are just four more block posts and all of the blocks will be finished so we can move on to assembling them into the crazy layout we came up with!

Unproductively productive

Did you ever have one of those days where you work and work and work, and when you’re finished you have nothing to show for it?

That was sewing yesterday. Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts came over and we worked on a couple of samplers. When we stopped for lunch Jeanne discovered that her block – the third or fourth attempt of the same block – was once again too big. She eventually figured out the problem – a 5 grid block that needed to finish at 12″ caused for some wonky rounding in the EQ measurements – but it was too late. That block is forever destroyed for her, and now she’s looking for a replacement block. Since it’s for her Botanical BOM quilt, that means she had to find another block with a plant name, which is more challenging than you’d think.

Did I tell you about the Botanicals BOM? The group that gets together at my house, alternately called Friends and Family Sewing Day or Stitch & Bitch, has done a couple of block of the month quilts. We’ve been getting together every month for more than four years and this is our third BOM. (We skipped last year, when I was going to write up a mystery quilt but kept messing up the instructions.) The BOMs are themed (stars the first year, then baskets, and this year plants), and I choose blocks from EQ or design a couple of my own, then write up instructions for everyone each month. The Basket BOM is available for free download on my Patterns page, if you’re interested. I didn’t put the Stars BOM out here because a couple of the blocks are designs I saw elsewhere, that may have copyright issues. The Botanicals BOM is safe as far as copyright – if you’re interested, I could start posting them here, too. I’ve written through block 8 so if I started posting them every two weeks you’d catch up about the time we got to the end. It’s twelve blocks plus a couple of extra/alternate for those who chose layouts that required more blocks, or who wanted to skip a particularly challenging block. Let me know if you’re interested in the Botanicals BOM – if I get a decent response, I’ll put them up. Here are a couple of EQ illustrations of the quilts:

Botanicals BOM Sandi

My colors and layout

Botanicals BOM Sharon

My aunt Karen and cousin Sharon’s layout, in Sharon’s colors

Botanicals BOM Sue

Sue’s layout – great for a newer quilter because it has background fabric sewn around the blocks, then trimmed to make them tilt.

Botanicals BOM Mom

Mom’s layout in one colorway. She’s making two quilts, because she’s an overachiever and she couldn’t decide which colorway she liked best.

Botanicals BOM Jean

My aunt Jean’s layout and colorway. We were surprised how much we liked the black background in the blocks.

Whoa – got a bit off track there! While Jeanne was fighting with her block, I was wasting time. I do that. I was checking things online, talking about really cool upcoming stuff that you’ll see here in the next couple of weeks (ooh, foreshadowing!), and ranting about politics. This blog is a politics free zone, so no details. I also packed away a few WIPs to make room so I could – finally – work on the Test Your Skills Sampler. I’m a bit behind on the blocks, so I made the Capital T. I finally settled in to sewing, and it was a little too quiet there for a while. Except for Buttercup’s snoring. I had just sewn the flying geese units into pairs when I realized I’d done it wrong – they were supposed to have different color “sky” fabrics on each side, and I’d made them the same. Rather than take them apart and switch the pieces around, I made eight new flying geese. When Jeanne had to leave I’d just finished sewing the last pair of geese together.

And then I took a break.

I know! All I had to do was sew the nine sections together – basically a nine patch – and it would have been finished! That’s my problem – I lose steam and go off to find something else shiny to play with.

I did finish it last night before going to bed, but really – a sewing DAY, and I finished a single block?!

TYSS Capital T Block

Ah, well. At least it’s progress.

TYSS: Spiral

The Spiral block is essentially a log cabin variation, but because of the points, it’s best to foundation piece this. This block is pieced on a single foundation. Even though there are 20 pieces in it, they all build around a center point, so you don’t have to join separate foundation pieced sections. All of the foundation PDFs below have the piecing order numbered for you.

There are as many ways to foundation piece as there are quilters, I think! I prefer to use freezer paper, fold on the lines, and sew along the edge rather than sew through the paper. You can see my method in my Skill Builder Foundation Piecing post, here. Jeanne at Grey Cat Quilts prefers to sew through the foundation, and she’s working on a post that will be up by Sunday. I’ll post the link on the Skill Builder page as soon as it’s ready. By the way, she moved to WordPress since my last TYSS post in *gasp* February, but all of the links on the Skill Builder page are updated.

There’s just one little thing about this Spiral block… it finishes at 9″ in the illustration, which means the foundation cannot be printed on a standard sheet of paper that measures 8 1/2″ x 11″. You have a couple of options:

  • Print the full size PDF on ledger paper that measure 11″ x 17″
  • Print the full size PDF on two sheets of letter paper that measure 8 1/2″ x 11″ and tape them together to make the full size block
  • Print the full size PDF on letter paper that measures 8 1/2″ x 11″, then trace it onto larger paper (or freezer paper) to make the full size block
  • Print a smaller, 8″ finished block on letter paper that measure 8 1/2″ x 11″
  • Draft your own version of the block

All of those options are available – just download the appropriate PDF file below.

I mentioned this in the Skill Builder post, but it’s so important that I need to mention it here, too. When printing a PDF for foundation piecing, you MUST make sure it prints the full size. Make sure the print dialog box doesn’t have “Shrink to Size”, “Shrink to Fit”, “Fit to Page”, “Shrink Oversize Pages” or anything else checked. It should say “None” or “Actual” if anything. As a precaution, once the foundation pattern is printed, measure it to be sure it is exactly 9″ (9 1/2″ if you measure the outside dotted lines that indicate the seam allowance), or 8″ for the smaller block. Even after all of those precautions it still might not print right. For some reason when I print this on my Mom’s printer, it just doesn’t print out the right size. The 8″ block does NOT have the dotted lines to indicate seam allowance (they wouldn’t fit on a letter size page), so be sure to leave that extra 1/4″ all the way around when you’re piecing, and trim 1/4″ past the edge of the paper when you square up your block.

So, here are your download options. Click to download whichever PDF you want to use. If you choose the smaller, 8″ block, I’ll include special instructions when we assemble the quilt top to accommodate the smaller size.

Download the 9″ finished block for Ledger size paper (11″ x 17″)
Download the 9″ finished block for two pieces of Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″)
Download the 8″ finished block for Letter size paper (8 1/2″ x 11″)

Draft on Paper

If you choose to draft your own block, it’s a bit more challenging. You’ll need a sheet of paper that is at least 9″ square. If you’re using the freezer paper method, just tear a large piece off of the roll and lightly iron it to another piece of paper to keep it flat – it doesn’t have to cover the entire sheet. If you’re sewing through the paper, try a piece of newspaper, but expect to get a little messy as the newsprint will rub off. You’ll also need a piece of paper at least 7 1/2″ square, and it’s best if this paper is a little heavier as you’ll be tracing around it.

Start by drawing a 9″ square. Draw a 1/4″ seam allowance on all four sides, and mark the center point (4 1/2″ from both sides of the inner square). (Ignore the smaller square drawn inside – I got ahead of myself before taking the picture. Also ignore the shadowy lines showing through the paper. I used the back of my test print outs.)

On the heavier paper, draw a 7 1/2″ square and mark the center point (3 3/4″). Inside that square, draw a 6 1/4″ square and mark the center point (3 1/8″).
Inside that square, draw a 5 1/4″ square and mark the center point (2 5/8″).
Inside that square, draw a 4 1/2″ square and mark the center point (2 1/4″).
Inside that square, draw a 4″ square and mark the center point (2″).

Cut out the 7 1/2″ square, put a pin through the center point, and stick the pin at the center point of the 9″ square. Rotate the 7 1/2″ square until the corners just barely touch the edges of the 9″ square. Trace around the edges. You may want to lightly tape it in place first.

Now cut the square down to the 6 1/4″ mark, put the pin through the new center point and stick it in the center of the 9″ square, rotate until the corners just touch the edges of the 7 1/2″ square you just drew, and trace.

Repeat for the 5 1/4″, 4 1/2″ and 4″ squares.

And there’s your foundation! When you piece it, start in the center and add to all four sides, then the next color all four sides, and so on in a spiral.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

We resume your program

I received comments from tonya and ssparrowinflight asking if we were going to finish the Test Your Skills Sampler. I’m a little ashamed at how long Jeanne and I have let it go. We talked yesterday and set down a schedule to finish this sampler by the end of the year. Thank you for the boot in the butt! Things have gone a little crazy for us in the past 9 months or so, as we both got new jobs and have been a little under-inspired quilting-wise. Watch for the next posts (one from each of us) by next Sunday.

Time to get back in the game!