Monday, December 30, 2013

I am a rock star quilter. Today at least.

Celtic Solstice Clue #5 was released and we are making split triangles. Another new unit for me! We will use the 'leftover' HST's from Clue #3 to make the split triangles with our neutral and blues.

It looked hard to me. And looked like a lot of steps. AKA more for me to mess up.
Bad attitude alert!!
I slapped myself around until I had a smile, then started my new task.

Black is my neutral so I cut the 2.5" strips to make the side triangles. I whipped out my brand new Easy Angle ruler to cut them and found myself lost. Lay the ruler this way. No, that way. No, try the other corner.
Finally I found what I thought was right and cut a pair of triangles. Laying them next to my HST showed me I wasn't such a dork after all - they looked good! Wahoo! I went back to cutting and will admit I had to flip my ruler several times, every-single-time I cut, before I finally chilled out and realized the correct hand motions to be consistent. Frustrating but I'm proud to say I got it worked out.

I stitched some on, first one side, then the other, press ... Success! I feel like a rock star. Thank you Bonnie Hunter for this mystery quilt that is encouraging me to learn new skills. I am truly gaining confidence.

High on my tiny success, I cut some 3.5" blue strips. Back to being a confused triangle cutter, LOL. They looked too small! Again though it looked fine when I laid it next to a partially constructed unit. Off to sew ...

Another success!! I am a rock star quilter.
Tomorrow we will see what I can muck up, LOL.


I'm proud to say that as of quitting time Sunday evening, I have 143 completely finished split triangles. I also have the black neutral sides on almost all the other HST's. I can finish on Monday or go grocery shopping ... maybe one of the kids can do the shopping ;)

Linking with Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Monday Link Up

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Learning my lesson

I hit a brick wall on Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery quilt at Clue #2. It is not Bonnie's fault. She explained things very well. I followed her directions but I kept hitting snags.

My seam was a bit big. My seam was a bit small. My pieces were a shade big.

I got wonky.

Was I drinking while sewing?
I sewed too many pieces together.

I lost my mind and took two decent blocks and trimmed them too small. Instead of 2" by 3.5" .... I trimmed down to 2" by 3". What was I thinking?!?

I got frustrated. I marked my neutral square. Pinned it to my green. Stitched. Stitched again to capture the leftover HST. Cut off the unnecessary HST. Pressed the neutral. Marked the yellow square. Pinned. Stitched. Stitched again. Trim. Press. Now trim the whole side to a balanced 2" by 3.5" which should NOT be needed IF I was doing everything properly. Then stitch to sides together to make a fabulous or funky chevron. That is 9 seams. 9!!! For something that was finishing out at 3 square inches in my quilt top. Oh my goodness that is a HUGE amount of work for such a tiny piece.

A fellow Bonnie fan posted a tutorial on creating the chevron sides from strips. You lose some of your scrappiness but it looks to be more even and less work. Sadly, I already had all 1464 pieces cut out to make 244 chevrons. I could not toss it or even set it aside in good conscious. Waste not, want not.

I have been gaining so much confidence working on Bonnie's Mystery quilt. I felt it spilling over to my everyday life. I had a quest and a challenge and I walked proud. I learned how to do the tri rec units. I spun seams making pinwheels. I stitched the cutest 4 patch units and spun their seams beautifully! I was learning great new skills! The silly chevrons were threatening that new pride.

My plan? Finish what I started with all the little pieces. AND .... make some chevrons using the strip method, just 2 strips - one leaning one way and one leaning the other. That way I have enough extra chevrons pieced to easily set aside the chevrons that are really wonky. AND I learn another way of doing chevrons. Another new skill.

I don't want or expect a perfect quilt. I also don't want a hideous quilt.
I want and will be delighted with a quilt that reflects my novice status. Some units will be a tad off. Others will be gorgeous. I see my skills improving. I can do this.

Update! Strip Chevrons!

Clue #5 was released and I am backing up to chevrons. I don't even have a goal to finish them yet. Just learn a new method and see how that panned out. Turns out - it worked great!

I cut my strips 1 5/8" like the tutorial by Karen at the Stitching Circle directs. Pinned. Stitched. Then nested 2 strip sets together. Now for the tricky part - cutting at a 45o angle.

Why will this not flip over .... Argh
I have an Easy Angle ruler and it has a 45o angle - Yeah!! I measured and measured again. Then worried if I had the angle the right way for how the strips were nested - not sure if it even matters though, LOL. I mustered up my courage and sliced a set. And another and another.

The seams were nesting nicely thanks to pressing opposite ways. They were pinning nicely. I prayed they were correct. As you can see, I was finishing up my 4 patch units too.

After stitching one, I anxiously opened it to find I did it right! Wahoo!!

Neutral-black, 2 greens and one yellow

And look at how those seams line up!! I am so excited! They need trimmed down to 2" by 3.5" but that doesn't squish my happiness. I am happy to say I CAN make a decent chevron when I slow down and be careful. Of course, to me, the strip method is easier than the scrappy way. I will persevere and finish my other tiny pieces chevrons. If I mess up too many - I know I have a plan B for accomplishing my goal. Yeah me!

Happy chevrons need trimmed

Monday, December 23, 2013

Clue #4 Mystery Monday

Bonnie Hunter released Clue #4 for her Celtic Solstice Mystery quilt along last Friday. Thank goodness, she chose a simple unit this week - 4 patch units in orange and green. Granted we need 300 for the king size quilt but the main difficulty is accurate piecing. It's amazing how easy it can be to muck up your seam size and throw the size of your unit off completely. Bonnie covered this issue in depth on her clue release. Thank you Bonnie!

Bright and cheerful HST's

I have not completed Clue #3. Or Clue #2 either, LOL. The #2 chevrons put me off my stride. They are coming along better now but they are not done. I lowered their priority to work on Clue #3's HST and pinwheels. I love the pinks and yellows even though I have a print in each color that is high volume and can read confusingly. I have to double check to be sure each part really is yellow or pink! Overall, I love the colors and contrast.

Half of a pinwheel, stitched and ironed.

I have all of the HST's stitched, cut and ironed. I have 51 pinwheels done so far and hope to finish the rest by the time I am linking up on Monday. I do need to trim about 50 more HST's. I finished the last pinwheels Sunday! Hoorah!! They really are sweet looking. And plenty scrappy enough for me.

I opted to use a 5 inch square to make 8 HST's at a time. I loved learning this method. It does however make a HST's slightly bigger than 2 inches. That means I need to trim my units. I did this deliberately as my piecing can get inaccurate. I'm a novice, so when I can give myself breathing room - I do! I dislike all the trimming but look at it as encouragement to learn better, more accurate piecing. And for now, less time spent picking seams apart to redo pieces or worse, having to discard pieces that end up too small.

Tiny shreds for .... what?
Does anyone have a good idea of what to do with the tiny shreds I trim?
I hate tossing them.
I hate the idea of hanging on to them without a purpose in mind.

Pinwheels and HST's done. Time for 4 patch units!

Clue #4 is 4 patch units in orange and green for Bonnie which is pink and green for me. She gave us a strip method to make piecing and sewing go quickly and easily without losing the scrappy possibilities. Amen!! They will stitch up 3 1/2 inches now and end up 3 inches finished in our quilt. It seems that 3 inches is our magic size for Celtic Solstice.

I cut strips from each piece of fabric guesstimating how many 2 inch squares it would yield when done. I paired a pink and green strip together and stitched the length. Press. Then I paired a pink-green strip with another pink-green strip to make my 4 patch unit. Snuggle them tight, then slice into 2 inch pieces, pin, stitch. Voila! A super nice 4 patch unit!

It was funny - as I was laying one strip on the other, I could hear Leah Day from The Free Motion Quilting Project in my head talking about using your hand to smooth the batting evenly over your backing. That is a tip I use constantly as I prepare to cut fabric, pin pieces, everything fabric related really. I smooooooth my hand over the surface to make things even and proper. Thank You Leah!! I really have the most amazing quilting teachers.

Part way through stitching, it hit me that as I was guesstimating strips to get 300 2 inch squares - I actually need 600 of each color because I need 300 4 patch units! Duh! 2 squares of each color to make a 4 patch. 600 green squares. 600 pink squares. What was I thinking?

The first two sets of patterns - more to come

Actually I was thinking about Christmas. Tasks to do. Food to cook. Presents to wrap. Bonnie to thank. Yes!! Thank you again Bonnie! The more I cut, stitch and trim, the less I shop, cook and eat, LOL. It could be a new budget and diet plan, LOL.

Pink and yellow and green looks so springy to me!

Needless to say I am about halfway through Clue #4. I can wrap it up before Christmas and revisit the last of the chevrons. That is a whole post of chaos by itself, LOL. That will also get me totally caught up on our Mystery quilt. Amen!

Linking up with Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Monday

Monday, December 16, 2013

Set aside or Keep Pushing? Do it all!

Argh!! Clue #3 is being released and I'm still stitching on Clue #2! Aaahhhhrrrrr!!!

What do I do?? Do I set aside Clue #2 and work on Clue #3 or finish Clue #2 first?

I am getting better at making the Clue #2 chevron pieces though. I did 10 the other day and most turned out good. Thursday I stitched 60 of the side pieces - sew a neutral square on one end of a rectangle, then sew a yellow square on the other end, trim, press, etc. They will morph into 30 chevrons but I will still have 204 more to do to complete Clue #2 total of 244 chevron units.

The stacks seem intimidating.

Do I set them aside and learn Clue #3 or keep after the chevrons?

I wasn't quite done with Clue #1 when #2 was released. I decided to push through and finish the tri recs before starting on the chevrons. I really have Christmas shopping to wrap up do on Friday .... I guess I will read Clue #3 and decide then how to proceed. I really dislike not completing one step before going on to another. It messes with my sense of order ;)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fast forward to Sunday ... What did I do? I compromised!

We need to make 488 Half Square Triangles to make 61 pinwheels and have 244 leftover single HST's. Bonnie is using orange and yellow which means I will sub pink for orange and keep the yellow.

I love the mix of pink and yellow - again another impressive stack.

I decided to cut the fabric for Clue #3 and mark the 5" squares to make 8 HST's at a time. I have several pinks but only 3 yellows. Keeping it scrappy won't be too tough.

Since I also need to keep working on chevrons, I decided to intersperse them all and use the chevron piecing as leaders and enders for the many lines needing sewn for the magic 8 HST squares.

Amen it is working!

I no longer feel like a chevron failure. And I am delighted to say I have all 488 HST's sewn. I need to slice the squares, press them open, trim maybe and create pinwheels. Still plenty to do but I also accomplished 30 more complete chevrons and a huge stack of sides.

I'm linking up to Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Monday Link up and am eager to see all the amazing progress of everyone else :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

We have a chevron!

I get a gold star! I finished cutting all the little pieces for Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery quilt Clue #2. All 1464 of them. Though I cut extra because I goof sometimes. Like today ....

I marked 20 squares of yellow and 20 neutral black squares. Pinned the blacks. Took a deep breath and sat down at my machine. I stitched a black square across a green rectangle cautiously, cut the threads and opened it. Oh my goodness, it worked! It looked like a sweet green rectangle with a black triangle on the corner. How bout it? I was tickled :)

I started working through the neutral blacks first. Stitch a second line to save the little unneeded HST. I waste as little as possible. Cut between the lines of stitching carefully.

Time to iron. I needed to iron half the seams going up and the other half down. How do I remember which side goes which way? I hit on the idea to keep the point on the right side and that would orient my seams half one way and half the other. Hey hey it worked!

Now to work the other end. I pinned all the yellows and got started with renewed confidence. Stitch stitch, click, whir ... I was almost finished when the light bulb over my head flickered dimly. My machine sounded too quiet. I realized my bobbin thread had left the building. Duh! My still new Janome doesn't have a low bobbin alert like my last Brother machine.

Not a problem. Swap out the empty bobbin for a loaded one and I was back in business. I had only stitched 4!!! combos before figuring out I was out of bobbin thread. That lightbulb over my head obviously needs changed too! I decided to not pin them again as I had my hole-y stitching line to use as a guide.

I got to the 4th combo and there was no yellow square. I looked behind my machine. On the floor. On me. No square. Weird. Where did the yellow square go?

Found it! I came up short when one of the squares stuck to the bottom of another combo. I stitched right through it and never felt it. Sighsss .... It could have been worse. Seam ripper to the rescue. Restitch properly.

Stitch a 2nd line, cut, now iron. I wanted to put the point on the right but that wasn't going to work. The answer was obvious but today my brain was on vacation. Eventually it hit me to lay the point to the left. Duh. I was having a slow day but by golly I got it figured out. Lay the neutral points one way and the yellows the other to get the desired opposite direction seams for nesting.

They looked a little ragged, so I did trim them before making pairs. Have I mentioned that I can be a little controlling at times? I like the scrappy aspect of this quilt which is why I don't want to repeat combos. Yet. I laid out all my little rectangles and started 'randomly' making pairs.

Nesting my seams showed me my rectangle square combo stitching was not 100% accurate. I was a little long or short on a few. Not a problem. I have faith that these little seam boo boos will not be brutally obvious once the quilting and washing are added. Even if my mistakes glare at me, I will suck it up and remember I am learning to quilt.

What do I have to show for my time stitching today? 10 chevrons! Woo Hoooo! Only 234 to go, LOLOLOL ... I also have the confidence that comes from learning a new skill. I have never done the square on rectangle technique until today or created a chevron. A few seams didn't line up perfect but most lined up great. I have to thank Bonnie Hunter for teaching me these new skills and admit I am delighted with my imperfect chevrons.

Have an awesome day!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Green Bag Lady bag

My lovely daughter helps me shop. Otherwise I wouldn't leave the house, LOL. 

I am having a run of good luck because I won a giveaway at the Green Bag Lady website recently. Wahoo! I received the most adorable owl patterned bag. Isn't it pretty? Have you visited the Green Bag Lady website? Click the name and go check her out.

Teresa VanHatten-Granath originated the Green Bag Lady project with the simple and smart idea to use fabric bags instead of paper or plastic. She took it to an even higher eco friendly level by making the bags, with the help of a team of volunteers, from donated material and ... AND ... she gives them away FREE!!  I love this idea. She is making our world a better place.

Can you guess how many bags she has given away? Their site says over 24,000 .... the bag I received is number 25,876!! That is a LOT of bags!

Can you read what the bottom line of the tag says?
Paper or Plastic? FABRIC!

Way to go Green Bag Lady project people!! You are awesome!!

If you have extra, leftover fabric - send it to the Green Bag Lady!
You can also find free patterns on her site to make your own bags.
You can even form a Green Bag chapter in your area.
Go Green!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celtic Clue #2 started

In the midst of ice, snow, 9 kids (not all are mine) and general life, I squeaked in some time to cut fabric for the Celtic Solstice Mystery Clue #2. I still need to cut at least 488 neutral squares. I did manage to cut my other pieces. I love looking at Bonnie Hunter's quilts. The scrappy nature of her colors creates a movement over the quilt. They are so very beautiful.

Bonnie Hunter's Old Tobacco Road quilt

However, I get such a back ache cutting fabric. That is my grief when sewing clothes too. I lean over to lay out my pattern, tweak it and pin in. Then I have to cut it. Same thing with this quilt project. I am cutting 1464 pieces to create 244 chevron units. Of course I am cutting extra in case I muck something up. The bonus is I just cut, no laying out of any pattern - yeah!

Slightly over 500 yellow squares

I am now considering one of the machine thingys that will cut fabric. I think in the past, I have unconsciously actually favored big pieces when quilting. My unfinished flimsy (set aside to work on Celtic Solstice) is made of a million HST's from 5 inch squares. Nothing huge but not tiny either.

Celtic Solstice clue #2 has me creating a 3.5 inch unit (finishes at 3 inch) from 6 pieces - 6 pieces for one small 3.5 inch unit! Way different than my usual 5 or so inch size single piece. I love that I am finally learning how Bonnie creates her masterpieces. Wow it can be exhausting though.

Lots of lime rectangles

I will complete this quilt and plan on doing more of Bonnie Hunter's designs. I may work on them as Bonnie encourages - as a scrappy leaders and enders project. I am doing this one from yardage and trying to complete each clue as quickly as possible - aka I feel some pressure to cut everything now. This is my pressure  - my choice.

The best part of this quilt adventure - the Facebook group!! Oh my goodness, I am so glad Bonnie mentioned it on her blog. The people there are the most amazing group of sharing, caring supporters. It's like having 2000 cheerleaders rooting for me as I cut and sew. Every quilt adventure should be this fabulous.

Linking up to the Celtic Solstice Mystery Monday Link-Up #2        

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tri Rec Tangles

We cut. We sew. We create.

Tri Rec creation in progress

I can sew about 100 tri rec squares per day. Yeah me! This is not sewing all day straight, just in between loads of laundry, cooking, cleaning, kids, dogs, cats, kittens, horses, etc. I have a really busy household. I'm delighted when I get any time to sew. Some days it's impossible.

I am settling in to learning the tri rec technique. My squares are far from perfect. I know I will lose some triangle tips on some squares but I am fine with that. I considered taking them apart and redoing them, then decided against it. I am making a king size quilt so there is plenty of room to put the less than ideal blocks to the sides if desired.

Pink subbing for orange
I don't want to get caught up in the pursuit of perfection. It will cause me stress and possibly discourage me from quilting. I want my quilt to be beautiful and I have faith it will happen. IF I allow myself to relax and go with the flow. Smile at the mistakes and accept them for what they are - the learning curve. Rarely do we ever perfect any new skill right from the start. My goal is to grow and have fun.

How are your projects coming along?  

Black as my neutral

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sparkle and Shine

Do you find beauty in unusual, little things? I'm sure I miss stuff but today, I saw beauty in my tri rec triangles for the Celtic Solstice Mystery.

Looking down

I sat down to pin side triangles to the center triangles. I love the bright colors. That part is easy. I looked down at my stack and saw something more. I needed to finish my task, then take a few pics to see if the camera could catch my fanciful thoughts.

Almost ... 

This is what I was seeing, Bright fabric. Jewel tone pins. Sparkle and shine! I love it!!
If only I had a really good camera to knock your socks off :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rail Fence Prayer Blocks

I had to go to town to pick up my husbands prescription and a new mattress topper I ordered online, so you know I had to hit the fabric section of Wal Mart. I despise this particular store for being over crowded and under staffed but it's the closest store to our home. We live in a rural area. Can we all say boonies?

Some of our horses grazing by the driveway

I was on the hunt for some white fabric. A sweet blogger friend is creating a prayer quilt for a friend who needs our good thoughts. Missy's Homemaking Adventures asked for prayers and blocks if we were inclined. The plan was red and white rail fence blocks. I had plenty of red but the only whites I had were all patterned with color. To my eye, they read as colors and not neutral or white. 

I found 3 bolts that looked like they would work. Not a price on any of them! They need a stitcher to work the fabric section at this Wal Mart. With their buying power and a fabric person to pick and choose, they could rule the fabric world. OK maybe they would just rock it. Right now though, they are sad. Fabric is not properly sorted or priced. Another Wal Mart about 25 miles from me has a great fabric section. Neat as a pin, sorted, priced and super duper organized. 

Now to find someone to cut fabric for me .... Oklahoma has an ice and snow storm on its way so the residents are losing their minds. And clearing the shelves of every last loaf of bread. And jalapeno's too actually. I always need fresh produce  - no luck this day. I settled on habanero peppers. But back to the fabric .... I rang the bell. Picked up the phone to chat with the non existent operator. And wandered around wanting desperately to organize the bolts. 

I found myself in front of a little shelf section that had fat quarters, half yards, yards and goodness knows what else. I have glanced at these, checked prices and walked away. Today though I did find some fat quarters that were just $0.97. Not a great price but acceptable. I chose a plain white ( I wanted a tonal white on white ) and a lime patterned quarter to add to my Celtic Solstice quilt in progress. What can I say, I'm addicted to fabrics?

At home, I cut strips and sewed them up lickety split. I may have to make a rail fence quilt for myself. The blocks sure go together quickly. I sifted through my reds and got persnickety. The reds didn't all coordinate. Whiny I know. They actually seemed to clash. So I got lazy and cut extra strips from a lovely red apple fabric from my stash. Missy will hopefully forgive me. 

Have you ever worked on a prayer quilt? This is my first. I don't want to cram religious beliefs on anyone but prayer is a part of my life. So it is bound to spill over here. I prayed for Missy's friend since asked. Prayed while fabric shopping, cutting, sewing, you get the idea. We all need good thoughts and prayers. I am happy to help others when possible. 

My blocks are a shade wonky, though they have care and prayer in them. I am a novice quilter. And maybe too happy go lucky. When blocks turn up a little big or slightly smallish, I tend to shrug and move forward. So far, they work out fine. Eventually I will trip over a quilt that tries to force me to be perfect. That will be a rough day, LOL. I sew for fun, not perfection. 

Have fun - Go sew!