Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Star Quilt-a-long!

When I saw that amandajean was embarking on a new quilt-a-long adventure, I jumped on the chance to join in. I missed out on her first quilt-a-long, so I am extra excited to be able to participate in this one. This may be a foolish decision on my part, because, really, I am already feeling as if I can't keep up with what I'm doing now. On the other hand though it looks like so much fun! And who couldn't use a little more fun?

As the boy is napping, I've had a little time to work and I just completed Block 1. Yay!

star quilt-a-long block 1
The print fabric in this block has the great distinction of being the first-ever fabric I bought "just because." Up to that point, I had been purchasing on a project-to-project basis. But I saw it and I just had to have it even though I didn't have any plan in mind. The beginning of a seriously slippery slope of stashaholism! Anyway, I love this fabric and I think it is going to be my inspiration for this quilt. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-7

Dear Baby Jane block B-7Block number/name: B-7 “World Series”

Date completed: April 28, 2008

Number of pieces: 10

Notes on block: A crazy-long Boy nap (2 ½ hours!) yesterday allowed me to get this block all prepped, and I was able to complete it last night (though I stayed up way too late doing it… I didn’t manage to get to bed until after 2 am). I followed Anina’s instructions on this one, using a mix of appliqué and reverse appliqué, and am thrilled with the result. I really like this block. I think it might even be my favorite so far. I still need to figure out the whole how to appliqué pointy-points thing, but I think I am improving.

There has been some discussion on sashing on the flickr site and on the Dear Baby Jane blog. I’ve been indecisive on this issue. Though I think it would save much angst at the end from having to do all of the sashing if I do it as I go, I think I want to use one fabric for all of it, and at this point I don’t know what fabric that is going to be. Nor do I know how much of said fabric I even need. I think I’ll wait a little longer and see how I feel in a couple of months.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-5

Dear Baby Jane block B-5Block number/name: B-5 “Hot Cross Buns”

Date completed: April 27, 2008

Number of pieces: 15

Notes on block: After the last block (B-6), this one was a relief—it felt so simple in comparison. Reverse appliqué for the diamonds. Some simple piecing. Done! And it came together so well. I’m really happy with it.

I started on it late last night (just after finishing B-6) and worked until I was just too tired to even see where I was stitching. I finished it tonight while watching a rather fun and interesting documentary about the world of crossword puzzles titled Wordplay.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-6

Dear Baby Jane block B-6Block number/name: B-6 “Wild Goose Chase”

Date completed: April 26, 2008

Number of pieces: 43

Notes on block: So many pieces! Very intimidating. Very time consuming. But done! On this one, I tried to be extra careful on seam allowance. I used a small ruler to make sure that I was starting and stopping each seam ¼” from the edges. I did pretty well—it came out just a hair smaller than 5” square. I think I spent about 5 ½ hours putting this one together. And that’s not including the time I spent choosing and cutting fabrics. That seems like a long time for such a tiny block!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mail fun!

mail fun 4-26-2008Today was an excellent mail day! I got my package of fabrics from my first-ever swap (woo-hoo!), and it included many fabrics that will definitely make it into my green-and-white Dear Jane quilt. (Many thanks to Anina for organizing it!) I also received the latest issues of Ottobre, Threads, and Cooking Light. Lots of wonderful fuel for my crafty/cooking spirit.

It has been a busy week, thus the dearth of posts. It was focus-on-work week for me. On the bright side, I'm feeling good about where I'm at on my freelance projects. But, I didn't manage to get any real crafty time. I'm even behind in my Dear Jane blocks! But, I'm hoping to catch up tonight...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-12

Dear Jane block B-12Block number/name: B-12 “Starflower”

Date completed: April 19, 2008

Number of pieces: 6 (or 2, depending on how you look at it)

Notes on block: I’m not thrilled with this one. The block in the Dear Jane program is actually not symmetric—and that’s what I used to print out my template. And that bothers me more than I thought it would when I started it. But, in terms of execution, I think it turned out alright. And this is the only bit of this particular fabric that I have—so I can’t re-do it. And I’d hate to lose such a fun and pretty fabric. So, it stays.

This was a fun block to make. I really enjoy reverse appliqué. And I was watching Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, as I was making it. So I stitched and laughed. A good combination, methinks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-2

Dear Baby Jane block B-2Block number/name: B-2 “Sweet Tater Pie”

Date completed: April 16, 2008

Number of pieces: 16

Notes on block: This block was challenging. Anina pointed out that it was just two pinwheels and a circle. Her method of constructing it was really good too. But it didn’t seem right for handpiecing. I finally went ahead and printed freezer paper templates from the Dear Jane software and proceeded with those. But not before heading to Keepsake Cottage Fabrics and picking up thread and some new needles to try (size 12 appliqué and size 12 betweens). I pieced each “wedge” then put them all together, keeping the seam allowances open as Jinny Beyer instructs in her book, Quiltmaking by Hand. As I worked I was worried, but it came together really well in the end. Yay!

As for the needles: I found that I like the sturdiness of the betweens needle, though I prefer the length of the appliqué. I ended up using primarily the appliqué needle.

Once again though, I am a slacker... quilting instead of working. Bad, Robin!

Dear Baby Jane: C-3 version 2.0

As I was trying to square up this block (the first version, that is), I noticed the quote on my Dear Jane 5” square ruler:

Dear Jane wisdom
So very wise. Yet do I heed those words? I really tried to convince myself that I was going to keep it. True, the block was finished, and that was good. But I wasn’t happy with it. First I attempted to fix the block—and it was better, but I was still unhappy. I had forgotten that I had a copy of Jinny Beyer’s Quiltmaking by Hand. I found it today and read through her sections on hand piecing. After doing so, I felt confident that I could do better if I just went ahead and started from scratch. I couldn’t help myself—I did a do-over. And it is a better block.

Dear Jane block C-3 version 1.0Dear Jane block C-3 version 2.0

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend Progress

Despite being sick (nasty cold, caught from the boy) (am I doomed to catch everything he gets???), I managed to have a rather productive quilty weekend. Yay!

Firstly, I got caught up on my Dear Baby Jane blocks, fixing K-7 and completing C-3. On the downside, I keep thinking about C-3 and its wonkiness. At first, I was determined to keep it as is, trying to convince myself that it had character (rather than just plain wonkiness). But I keep obsessing thinking about it. I think this means that I will need to revisit it. Probably not re-do it (because I'm too lazy for that!), but maybe try and fix it so it isn't quite as off kilter in that one particularly bad row.

Then, I got my homework done for the Reversible Embroidered Quilt. (Hmm... I really do need to think of a better name for it.) It is now complete but for binding (which I'll be learning how to do in class on Wednesday) and label. I've attempted to show the quilt's reversible nature by showing the front and back in this picture:

Reversible Embroidered Quilt, sans binding
Finally, I got Fairy Flight basted and quilted. Huzzah! All that's left now is the binding (which I've begun) and the label (which I'm thinking I'll wait until baby is born and named before making). Hopefully, I'll finish the binding this week so I can share some pictures.

Tonight is more freelance work. But I'm hoping to at least start on the latest Dear Baby Jane block, B-2. Though Anina has provided some excellent guidance on this one, I'm still feeling intimidated at the prospect of handpiecing it. In fact, at the moment I'm trying hard to remember why it is I decided to handpiece this quilt. :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: C-3

Dear Baby Jane block C-3Block number/name: C-3 “Rayelle’s Fence”

Date completed: April 11, 2008

Number of pieces: 25

Notes on block: This one was tough. It seemed like it needed a different approach from the other pieced blocks I’ve done because of all of the seams. Usually, I handpiece the way I would machine piece—make small units and then attach those units together to make a big unit. But I also know that part of the happy goodness of handpiecing is liberation from such method. But there’s still a method. I just don’t know exactly what it is. So I looked about on the Interweb for advice, and didn’t find any inspiration. I finally decided to try it in the same way that I make my hexagon flowers—start in the center and work outwards.

It was awkward. And after every seam, I would look at it and say, “This so isn’t going to work. I should stop right here and start over.” (By about the 5th seam, my husband was looking at me rather askance—because I was actually saying this aloud.) But I guess some part of me (the optimist? or maybe the masochist?) just couldn’t let go. And so I completed the block. And it was truly ugly (as you can see below).

Dear Jane block C-3 pre-press
But, the iron is my friend. And it pressed out, not beautifully, certainly far from perfect, but pretty well. And, amazingly, almost at 5” square. And so I’ll keep it –mostly because it was an experiment. Even though it’s not one that I’ll be trying again (at least, not in exactly the same way), it was a good experiment.

Dear Baby Jane: K-7 revisited

Dear Baby Jane K-7 revisitedUgh. I couldn’t stop myself. After seeing how pretty and perfect looking everyone else’s block is, I had to step up and fix mine. But I only fixed one corner—the really bad one. The other doesn’t bother me too much...

ETA: Here's a "before" picture:

Dear Jane K-7 before adjustment

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


For the past few days, I've really been cranking out the hexagon flowers for my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.

hexagon flowers 4/4/08 - 4/8/08
I've managed to complete 12 over the last five evenings. For me, that's a lot. And it brings the total up to 92 now! But I'm just going to be kicking myself when I finally have to start pressing them. I've been pretty lazy (with all of the tiny seams, these are not fun blocks to press), and have only pressed about 15 or so of the finished blocks. So that's going to be a lot of pressing of at the end. And the end draws ever nearer!

Meanwhile, I've also been obsessing about colors for my Dear Baby Jane. I know, I know. I'm using all green. What's to obsess about? Well, there is quite a spectrum of green out there. To wit:

Dear Baby Jane greens
Even after I took this picture, I continued to find more greens in the stash and add them in. Evidently, I have a lot of green. A lot more than I realized. But, after laying them all out like this, I do actually feel better about my heretofore haphazard approach to choosing fabrics for each block. I think they all really will work together in the end. Yay!

No crafting tonight though. I really need to get some work done. And watch Top Chef. :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: K-7

Dear Jane block K-7Block number/name: K-7 “Rose of Sharing”

Date completed: April 7, 2008

Number of pieces: 8

Notes on block: This is a pretty block. Anina offered some great guidance on construction, which was very helpful. There was one corner where I didn’t quite get my edges matching up perfectly, but that’s not bothering me too much (certainly not enough to do it over!).

I’m such a slacker though. Earlier today, I declared tonight a work night. Unfortunately, Dear Jane was not the work I was supposed to be doing! It was supposed to be freelance work. But, it was also tax night. And after taxes, milk and cookies with some relaxing appliqué while watching Stardust (I do so enjoy that movie!) really just seemed the more appropriate course of action.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: M-10

Dear Jane block M-10Block number/name: M-10 “Simple Simon”

Date completed: April 4, 2008

Number of pieces: 9

Notes on block: Done! Quick and simple is good sometimes. And it even came out the right size—no trimming! (Well, I may take a smidge off the top edge.)

I’m struggling with color. I’m kind of working outside of my comfort zone. I’m not planning, rather, I’m just picking out whatever strikes my fancy at that moment for each block. I’m a worried that this may not be a good approach. On the other hand, I’m trying something different, and that’s good. After the shop hop last week, I have lots and lots of greens to choose from. This green came from a little remnant I bought for 15¢. I chose it mostly because it was the perfect width. But then I see some of the other blocks people have put together and I really think I should have chosen something with a little more pizzazz. But then, plenty of blocks will have pizzazz… so I need some to balance it out, right?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Progress report: reversible embroidered quilt

This week was supposed to be the last meeting of the reversible embroidered quilt. So on Tuesday night I frantically began working on my "homework" from the previous class, including finishing work on the individual blocks.

block work for reversible embroidered quilt
I was even able to get so far as assembling them into rows.

assembling rows in reversible embroidered quilt
During nap time on Wednesday afternoon, I even managed to get the rows together (mostly... still have some sashing that needs to be completed).

center top of reversible embroidered quilt
Woo hoo! I am enjoying how quickly this quilt comes together. I don't think it's really my style of quilting, but I am having fun learning a new technique.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I got a message about an hour later that class was canceled and rescheduled two weeks from now. On the bright side, this gives me the opportunity to get further on in the project. Since the last class is going to be focused on binding, it would be cool to actually have a completed top to work on. But the real challenge? Not procrastinating until the night before again this time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dear Baby Jane: B-4

Dear Jane block B-4Block number/name: B-4 "Chris’s Soccer Field”

Date completed: April 1, 2008

Number of pieces: 21

Notes on block: It’s far from perfect. But I feel good. This block was challenging to handpiece. Lots of pieces. I was careful to cut the center square on the straight of grain, and I’m thankful I did. But, all of the handling caused the outside edges of the stripes, which were on the bias, to stretch. The center portion finished at about 4 ¼” when it was supposed to be 4”. I pressed, starched, and squared the center before adding the sashing strips. By the time they were all added, the block had grown again, but thankfully, not too much, and I didn’t need to cut it down much to get to the 5” square. Even so, my block doesn’t look like Jane’s nor anyone else’s. My stripes are a little on the wide side, and the little corners are just barely there. But I’m okay with that.

The fabric on this one was also a departure. Still green, but with a much larger-scale pattern than I’ve used in any of the other blocks. It also includes a bigger variety of hues and shades. I also used an almost-solid green to help frame it in the inner stripes. I was torn between using the print and the solid in the outside edge, and cut out fabric for both. I went with the print mostly because I think it looks more interesting, and because I just plain like it.