Life Has Its Ups and Downs … and Ups

September 3, 2011 § 13 Comments

First the ups, o.k.?

This week, my quilt from the Doll Quilt Swap (DQS11) arrived:

I am absolutely, positively beside myself with glee!

Paloma, aka ThreeKitchenFairies, made it for me and it is truly an amazing work of art.  I wish each one of you could see the little beauty in person to enjoy her wonderful hand work up close.  Each of the tiny petals has been hand appliqued to its background and then Paloma has hand quilted around all the petals.  Paloma’s attention to detail is beyond compare.  Each and every one of the fabrics she chose is lusciously beautiful, and so very much “me”.   You probably know how much I love the “double scrappy” look, right?   In fact, this little quilt is even more “me” than most of the things I make!

And if the beautiful little doll quilt weren’t enough, Paloma also sent along these special gifts:

A blank journal, which, of course, I’ve been a fan of since I was a teenager!  And this sweet piece of paper doll fabric from the American Jane collection by Sandy Klop.  I couldn’t include the whole piece in the photograph, but the colors are happy and rich and fab and the images are such fun.  I can’t wait for the right project to come along for these sweet little dolls and all their outfits and toys.

Thank you, Paloma!  I LOVE my quilt!

Now for the downs:

My family and I were away on vacation for the last two weeks of August.  We had a wonderful time in Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver B.C., then took the trans Canada train to Toronto.  As you might expect, the train had no wifi, no t.v., no newspapers.  We were blissfully cut off from the outside world.  Until we got to Toronto … and found out that hurricane Irene was making a bee-line straight for our home in Vermont.

When we got home, this is what we found:

The bridge to our home had been washed away in the flood.

My stepson Pete, along with his brand new two-week old son, Alexander, his wife, Blair and Blair’s mom had driven from NYC to Vermont, hoping to escape Irene’s wrath … little did they know they were putting themselves even more in her path.

They took this video moments after the bridge was swept away.

We are very lucky that our house and property were not harmed – just a tiny bit of water in the basement.  So many others around the state have had their homes and/or businesses flooded or completely washed away.  The devastation of the flood waters is breathtaking.

And so as not to end on a down note … Here is the latest photo of my HAL on the wall:

If my count is right (and very often it is not!) I only have 6 more blocks to go before I can start piecing the top together!  I’ve heard lots of ideas from my flickr friends about designing the final layout, but I would love to hear what you, my blog friends think.  Do you like the red in the outer edges?  Should I group the blues with the blues … the pinks with the pinks … the reds with the reds … Or is it such a mix of color and pattern that I shouldn’t really worry?

Note:  The GWB are my monogram as well as the initials of me, my son and my husband!  Fun how that worked out, isn’t it?

I am planning a small give-away next week … stay tuned!


Getting Organized

July 30, 2011 § 12 Comments

Last week I put all my HAL blocks up on the design wall.

And realized there were many things I absolutely love about it and a few things that I wanted to change.  So, I’ve taken a couple days off from cutting and piecing the blocks to give a little more thought to its layout and the colors, fabrics and general direction the quilt should take.

If you google “Candied Hexagons” you will find many beautiful examples of the finished quilt.  Here is the one that does it for me.   Liz from the beautiful blog Broderie made it.  Isn’t it an absolute stunner?

In addition to her happy, happy colors, one of the things that draws me to Lizzie’s quilt is the secondary pattern of stars that appear with the careful placement of her hexagon blocks.

I was a little afraid that my approach of  “let’s make blocks … lots and lots of blocks!”  might lead me away from those lovely surprises.  And that would never do!  So I took a day off from my super-speedy-and-not-very-thoughful pace of piecing to slow my process down … think things over … and created this:

It’s a graphed out plan for my HAL.   Now, I won’t be sticking strictly to this plan, mind you, but it really does help me to have a general framework to work within.  Maybe it will help you, too?

I started with the equilateral triangle graph paper from Incompetech.  Then, looking at Liz’s quilt, counted the number of hexies across and down to give the plan a framework, and from there, just filled in the blocks.

These are the lovely surprises I wanted to be sure to include.  I call this one “Big Star”, how original, right?

And this one, “Block Star”, because of the tumbling blocks its made from.  Little better?

I had already pieced one “Big Star” for my HAL.

But, if I had fussy cut the center diamonds, or just used a color other than blue for them, there would have been one additional layer of interest.   I do love this block and all its blue scrappiness and will keep it for HAL, but my other Big Star will have that secondary interest built in.

So … there’s a big PHEW!   My need for organization has been fulfilled!

The next bit I wanted to deal with is color.

This block, in particular, has been giving me no end of trouble.

You can see it at the top of the “HAL on the WALL” photo at the top of this post – sticking out like a sore thumb!  The dark, caramel color just doesn’t seem to belong.  Something about it is just a little sad ….

So, out with the caramel, and in with some deep cherry reds.  Sorry, but due to my self-imposed block-piecing-slowdown, I don’t have any finished blocks to show you with the new color introduction, but here are the fabrics I’m auditioning.

Yum, right?  I love caramel, and I love cherry, but in this instance, I think I love cherry just a little bit more.

So, folks, that’s been my week with HAL.  And here he is up on my design wall today.

I see one block that needs to be moved straight-away, but I like the idea of following a plan and adding in some yummy deep cherry reds.

Seems I can only manage to post here about once a week, so, until next week then!

HAL – Dealing with Intersections

July 24, 2011 § 10 Comments

Today I’m connecting some of my HAL blocks and thought it might be a nice time to put up a little tutorial and share with you how I handle intersections in my point-to-point hand sewing.

But first, you may remember this piece of inspiration from last week:

It’s from Renee, aka “playingwithbrushes” on flickr.   She creates beautiful paper collages and wouldn’t you know it … she also sells some of her work in fabric form on Spoonflower.

After latching on to Renee’s photo as the inspiration for my HAL quilt, I just had to order some of her fabrics, too.  Here are a few tidbits.

I absolutely love them.  They are perfect additions to HAL, and the flying fish makes me ridiculously happy.  So, of course, that’s the one I’ll be working with today.

Let’s inset that fish!

I’m going to start by connecting the fish block to the hydrangea block on the bottom.  So, I’ve lined them up right sides facing and will pin through the cross-hairs at the start and finish of my sewing line as in Lesson #3.

Off I go … I’ll sew the seam until I reach the intersection of the cross stitched “B” block.

Don’t forget your backstitch!

Now, I need to realign the blocks.  I’ve finished with “fish to hydrangea”, now I’m moving on to “fish to B”.  So, let’s take our needle on a little trip through the intersection.  The key here is to only travel through two pieces of fabric at a time.

First, travel through the cross-hairs at the end of seam “fish to hydrangea”, the one we just finished.

Now, we are at the beginning of seam “fish to B”, but we’re on the wrong side.  I’m right handed and need to be on the other side to sew from right to left.  So, once more, take your needle through the cross-hairs of the “fish block” and into the “B block”.

Here we are, getting ready to pull the needle through:

Pull the thread through, and now, we’re set!

I’ll flip the fabrics over to show you the view from an appropriate sewing angle.

Pin the end of the seam, through the cross-hairs, and sew the two blocks along the marked sewing line.

Two down, one to go.  Now we need to do the same bit of traveling, this time from “fish to B”, to “fish to other hydrangea”.  Here’s a photo:

Take your needle through the cross-hairs of “B” and “fish”, then through the cross-hairs of “fish” and “hydrangea” and you’ll be all lined up for the final seam.  Pin and sew as before, et voila!  One inset fish.

This was a very simple example of dealing with intersections in point-to-point hand sewing, but if you are contemplating the Camelot quilt, the idea of passing through the intersection of only two pieces of fabric at a time will be very helpful.


July 24, 2011 § 13 Comments

I love this part.

This is the inner section of block 8 of my Camelot quilt, all pinned together and ready for stitching.

Isn’t it wonderful how each part of the quilting process has its own beauty?

Here is the block, all finished.

And a couple of his friends.

We’ve just booked tickets on the trans Canada train, from Vancouver to Toronto, how many blocks do you think I can finish in four days?  Only 8 more to go …

Doll Quilt Dilemma

July 24, 2011 § 12 Comments

The Doll Quilt Deadline is sneaking up on little cat feet ….

A couple weeks ago, I made a start on a mini quilt for my oh-so-secret swappy partner.  It’s a paper pieced sampler in my favorite double scrappy color combination.  I was planning to add a large-ish scrappy border and quilt it very simply with parallel lines – maybe on the diagonal.

But for some reason, I’m not 100% happy with it.  Boo …  I wish I could put my finger on what is bothering me about this.  Maybe it’s the candy wrappers, maybe it’s the lack of symmetry, I can’t quite say, but something is bugging me here.

Should I just go on with it?  Or should I dive into these Japanese patchwork books and make a new start?

“Patchwork Lesson” and “Patchwork Patterns 318” by Kumiko Fujita.  Oh, my, goodness.  I must say that all the excitement over these books is well deserved.  The “318” book is somewhat hard to find, I guess, but Lisa at “This and That From Japan” on etsy found one for me straight away.

This stack of Patchwork Lessons by Yoko Saito …


And this tome by Chuck Nohara:


These books are full to bursting with inspiration.

What do you think, my quilty friends?  Should I stick with the one I’ve already started or make another go of it?

Hexalong, Point-to-Point Hand Sewing, Lesson #3

July 19, 2011 § 6 Comments

Now we are going to sew our pieces together!

These photo laden lessons are working for me, so let’s try that again.

Remember all those lines I had you mark in the last lesson?  Well, the intersections where the sewing lines cross are your “points” in the point-to-point sewing.

Position two of your templates, right sides together.

Insert your needle smack dab in the middle of the intersection of the two sewing lines:  “the point”.

Be sure the needle also passes through “the point” of the second piece of fabric.  Turn it over to check and make any necessary adjustments.  The key to success in this type of sewing is accuracy … so go check!

Once your needle is through both points, leave it there to stabilize that side.

It’s a little tough to see here, but I nailed it!

Now, you’re going to pin the second point.  Insert your pin exactly through the intersection in both the top and bottom pieces and pin in place.  Again … be sure you check both sides!

Now you’re going to start stitching.  Start off in the intersection and take one tiny stitch.  Pull the thread all the way through.

If you look very closely, you’ll see I’m creating a “back stitch” here.

You do the same thing.  Make a stitch in exactly the same spot as your first.  It will secure your stitches.

Now you just go stitching along until you fill up a needle full of stitches and pull the thread all the way through.

After every needle full of stitches, or every 8 to 10 of them, make another back stitch to secure your stitches.

Stitch right on over to the other side and come up smack in the middle of the cross hairs – check on both sides, remember?  Pull the thread all the way through.

Make a back stitch … I’d make a couple of them.   And you’re done!  That’s point-to-point sewing.

Turn it over and admire your lovely stitching!

Hexalong, Point-to-Point Hand Sewing, Lesson #2, Marking and Cutting Your Fabric

July 18, 2011 § 9 Comments

So, do you have your templates?  Great, let’s get going.

In addition to your fabric and templates, all you will need for today’s lesson is a mechanical pencil and a straight edge ruler.  I like to use a “Magic Wand” which makes marking 1/4″ seam allowances a breeze, but you can use any quilter’s straight edge that has a long straight line 1/4 inch from the edge.

Select your fabric and iron the first template, shiny side down, to the back of your fabric, marking and aligning any fussy cuts  you’d like to match.  In my example, I will be centering the letter “B” inside a medium sized hexagon and won’t be marking anything for fussy matching.

Fabric with freezer paper template ironed in place.

“Magic Wand” lined up with first edge.

Now, using your mechanical pencil, mark your sewing line, at the very edge of the freezer paper template.  Also, mark a cutting line, 1/4″ away from the edge of the freezer paper.  Here’s a picture of the first two lines marked on the back of my “B”.

First sewing and cutting lines marked.

Your sewing line is right next to the freezer paper template, your cutting line is the one 1/4″ away to the outside.

Continue on around, marking the sewing and cutting lines all around your template.  When you’re done, it will look like this:

Cutting and sewing lines, marked.

Peel back the freezer paper (save it!  you can use it over and over again) and here’s the fabric with cutting and sewing lines marked:

Cutting and sewing lines marked, freezer paper removed.

Cut your fabric out along the cutting line (the line farthest away from the “B”), and there you have it – your first piece of fabric marked for point-to-point hand sewing.

Here, I’ve flipped the fabric over so you can see my “B” as it will appear in the quilt.

So, that’s it.  If you’ll be hand sewing point-to-point along with me, you’ll need to follow the same procedure to mark and cut all the pieces of your block.

My “B” block parts look like this:

Join me next time for a quick little lesson in point-to-point hand sewing.

And, as usual, if anything is not clear, please ask and I’ll do my best to help figure it out.