Friday, August 26, 2011

Home Circle Block Finished

Home Circle quilt block

Getting ready to cut housekeeping fabric, which is a diamond shape in the pattern.  Only have a yard, need 20 diamonds measuring 7" per side. Cutting the fabric in diagonals in the hope of maximizing the fabric.

First diagonal cut made

Cut fabric at 7". Cross cuts will be 7".

Housekeeping fabric diamond ready for paper-piecing.

Twenty housekeeping fabric diamonds - four for each of the five Home Circle blocks

Last week I finished the first Home Circle quilt block for housekeeper Cristine’s quilt. I paper-pieced Diamond-in-the-Square units for the corners. I usually improvise a light box by using a sunny window, but by the time I was ready the sun had gone down already.

Using my shower door as a light box

Housekeeping fabric diamond placed on the paper-piecing pattern

 "Light box" station in my shower: printed patterns, tape, housekeeping fabric diamonds

After considering different alternatives, I used the inside of my glass shower door as a light box. I stood inside the (dry) shower and taped the paper pattern to the glass, printed side away from me. The light shining through the glass and paper allowed me to place the fabric over the pattern correctly—all 20 of them. Kinda weird but it worked.

Diamond in the Square unit

Set of Diamond in the Square units for one Home Circle block. Note the black corner is different in each unit. Took precautions to avoid frustration and do-overs.

The Home Circle block has four Diamond-in-the-Square units, each of those having a housekeeping fabric in the center, plus three red corners and one black corner. The black corner was in a different position for each of the units, as well. To help keep things straight I arranged four housekeeping-centered units as they pleased my eye. Then I marked the black corners of each unit with a B, knowing that all of the remaining corners were to be red. As I sewed a unit, I started with black so I wouldn’t forget. I’m sure those precautions saved some frustration and do-overs.

Mock-up of Home Circle block. Trying out three prints to fill spaces: scissors, dog paws, dotted daisies. Originally intended to use housekeeping fabric, but there wasn't enough leftover.

Finished Hearth and Home block placed next to scissors. Not bad. Good contrast with dog bones fabric.

Comparing with dog paws. Not enough contrast with dog bones fabric, looks gray and muddy.

Comparing with dotted daisies. Good contrast with dog bones fabric, like the openness and the bit of red. Ultimately my choice.

Strip pieced black and daisies, cross-cut, placed on mock-up Home Circle block. I like it.

Once I had a set of Diamond-in-the-Square units done, I needed to decide on filler squares to make up for the lack of leftover housekeeping fabric. I auditioned three prints: scissors, dog paws and dotted daisies. The scissors had a similar personality to the housekeeping fabric, but I wasn’t convinced that it related to Cristine. The dog paws fabric definitely related to the Boston Terrier theme of the quilt, but it was darker than I wanted. The dotted daisies fabric was not part of the theme, but I liked the openness, which was similar to the housekeeping fabric. Ultimately I chose the daisies.

Diamond in the Square units trimmed

Block sewn in three horizontal rows

Home Circle block finished

Home Circle block surrounded by previously finished Hearth and Home blocks. The corners will be filled with more Home Circle blocks.

When it came time to assemble the block, I had to trim the paper-pieced Diamond-in-the-Square units. The blocks were printed at 8” without seam allowance so they would print without a problem. I had to remember to add a 1/4” to each edge, otherwise the unit would be too small.

I’ve been working on Diamond-in-the-Square units, generally one set of four per night. I have one more set to go, which I will finish tonight. That being done, I will assemble the last four Home Circle blocks. Things will go very quickly after that.

Design notes

Follow up on Stash Reduction

This post is in response to a nice comment made on my previous post: How to reduce my fabric stash by one-third.

Will I buy new fabric to replace what I gave away or buy as needed?
For some time now I have been buying fabrics as needed for my projects. Gone are the days when I bought yards of fabric purely on speculation. My quilting budget is $50 per month, which seems to be just enough to make one quilt with mostly new fabric and batting. But I do pick up fat quarters or a yard of something fabulous now and then. I'm not on Stashbuster's No-Buy program and I don't feel guilty about my purchases.

Fabric donations
I get fabric donations, mostly from co-workers and friends. One thing I've learned to ask is: If there is something I can't use, is it okay to pass it along to someone else? No one has said no yet. That gives me the freedom to do whatever I think is best with the donation. I keep some, give some away to a charity organization such as Binky Patrol, and some just goes in the garbage (so flimsy you can see through it).

My daughter-in-law Laurie is a member of MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers) through our church. Twice yearly they hold yard sales to raise funds for the group. I donate bags of scraps that I collect as I sew. They also get the weird but good fabric like holiday stuff, which in my mind isn't appropriate for regular everyday quilts.

I'll be posting about the Creativity seminar and the trip shortly.

How to reduce my fabric stash by one-third

"My stash is smaller, the fabric will be used for good causes, and I got to meet a fellow quilter."

How I did it:
A few weeks ago I decided to do a major decluttering of my stash. I decided to give away a third of my fabric--just a number that popped into my head. I emailed fellow Stashbuster Marilyn L. in Vacaville, who lives about an hour and a half from me and is a coordinator for Binky Patrol. I enjoy making charity quilts myself, and I knew that Marilyn and her group would do good things with my extra fabric. 

We arranged a time for me to bring the fabric. I could have shipped the fabric to Marilyn, but I was going to Sacramento (about an hour and a half from me and 40 minutes from Vacaville), anyway.  I enjoy traveling but I'm kind of a chicken when it comes to driving. However GPS on my Smartphone gives me courage to drive to places I wouldn't have dared to drive to previously. So it was also kind of an adventure.

Meanwhile, I went through my stash, bag by bag and stack by stack, setting aside one third of the contents of each one. When I was finished I had two very large zip-loc bags half full. Together they weighed 25 pounds.

This past Tuesday I drove to Vacaville, delivered the fabric and got the pleasure of meeting Marilyn. We spent about half an hour chatting together before I hit the road again. My stash is smaller and the fabric will go to good use.

Typical one-gallon zip-loc bag of fabrics. (I organize my fabric by color.)

Contents of the bag divided into three equal piles.  I deal them like cards.

One of the piles - there are four fabrics.  So I need to go through all three of the piles and choose four fabrics to give away.

Here are the four fabrics from the piles that I've chosen to give away.  The remaining fabrics will go back into the zip-loc bag.

The give-away fabrics join the growing stack.

Here are all of the fabrics to be given away -- one-third of my stash.

Lessons & tips: Most of my fabric is stored in gallon zip-loc bags.  I emptied one bag at a time, putting fabric into three piles, much like dealing cards. Then I counted one of the piles. If there were 4 fabrics in that pile, I needed to choose 4 from the among all three of the piles; those were set aside and the remaining fabrics were placed back in the bag. This method easily helped me downsize by one-third.

Resources: Email
GPS on my Smartphone for the trip

It took me 1 day.

It made me Happy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tomorrow is the Creativity seminar

Tomorrow is the day for the Skillpath seminar Sparking Innovation and Creativity in Sacramento. I'm leaving today and spending the night near the seminar venue so I won't have to fight early morning traffic.

On the way to Sacramento I'm taking a little detour to Vacaville to deliver two big bags of fabric to Marilyn L., an internet quilting friend who makes a lot of charity quilts. I'm giving her roughly one-third of my fabric, the result of a recent decluttering. Charity quilting is near and dear to my own heart, so I am happy to donate my extra fabric to someone who will use it to make quilts for people who need some cheering up.

The class I'm taking is designed for business, but I'm taking it mostly to help benefit my quilting. I'm sure I'll pick up dozens of ideas to apply to my quilt designs.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Headed to Sacramento

Today I'm off to Sacramento for the Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild meeting. For show and tell I have five completed blocks for Cristine's Bosties, the main part of the quilt top of Wavy Irish Chain, and the makings of a quilt for co-worker Wanda.

After the meeting I plan to stop at my friend Tom P.'s church and say hi. He'll be there working all day. The church is on Sunrise Boulevard, not far from my meeting, and usually I take this road on the way to other places after the meeting is over.  It will be nice to see Tom again.  Tom is a fellow musician and we played in bands and orchestras together at my church for close to 30 years. A few years ago Tom became worship pastor at the church in the Sacramento area.  He visits my church now and again and it's always great to see him.  He usually greets me with "Bubba! How be ye?"

Later in the day I'll be going to Beverly Fabrics for a Wizard of Oz festival.  My daughter Lisa is a huge Wizard of Oz fan, and I'm going to make a Winged Monkey hat for her.  It should be fun.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hiding the evidence

Basket of telltale quilt makings for housekeeper Cristine hidden in the sewing room closet. She's not likely to go in there.

My housekeeper Cristine is coming to clean tomorrow. The quilt I’m making for her, Cristine’s Bosties, is a surprise. So I had to gather up the pieces of Boston Terrier, housekeeping print and dog bone fabrics and blocks that were scattered around the sewing room and my bedroom, and hide them in a closet. I’m sure if she saw the fabrics she’d guess the quilt was for her. Every time I thought I had all of the telltale pieces gathered up I found more. I started laughing on the fourth go around.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Enrolled and Booked a Hotel

I’ve been waiting for an email for 20% off the Skillpath seminar Sparking Innovation and Creativity in Sacramento. With the class only a week away I thought about waiting a couple more days, but decided to go ahead and enroll—mostly because I wanted to get a good rate on a hotel room the night before the seminar.

I called Skillpath this afternoon and got 10% off the class, as promised earlier, which knocked the price from $199 to $179. I was happy about that. They tried to sell me a book New and Improved for $14.99 which they said was good reading before the seminar. But I didn’t think I could get the book before the class so I declined. As it turns out, I found the same book at for $.01 plus expedited shipping for a total of $7.00! If I’m lucky I’ll get the book before I leave on Tuesday, but if not it will be waiting for me when I get back. And I got a good bargain on it.

Tonight I checked online for a hotel room. I’d been seeing offers on for $46-$49 for a 3-star hotel near the seminar. When I went to check tonight the offers had gone way up to over $100. Bummer. I did some comparing at different travel booking sites and ended up paying $52 for a surprise hotel, which turned out to be a nice hotel, only a mile or so away from the seminar.
I’m very happy with today’s results, and I’m getting excited about next week’s seminar.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Fussy Cutting the Boston Terriers

I actually did the work below back in June.  I just realized I hadn't posted about it, so here it is.

Dottie the Boston Terrier Fabric
Special ordered from
One fat quarter (approx. 18" x 22")

Template for 4.5" unfinished squares

Centered as best I could, colored over Dottie's eyes, which will help me place the template for all of the squares.

Template marked for placement

Look closely to see the outline of the squares.  I cut them out with scissors instead of the rotary cutter.  Accuracy was more important than speed.

Nine Boston Terriers--enough to do the design.

The fussy cut motif.  Cute!

There is some waste but I'm okay with that.  This is the leftover usable fabric.  I might make a little bag with it or maybe use it on the back.  We'll see.

Design notes

Monday, August 08, 2011

Hearth and Home Blocks Done

Hearth and Home block (modified)

Last night I finished four Hearth and Home blocks for Cristine’s Bosties, a quilt for my housekeeper Cristine. The blocks are pretty big—20” finished. I modified the block to have a center area where Dottie the Boston Terrier motif could be shown off.