Sunday, February 28, 2016

Happy, Happy (TSS 004)

It's Sunday morning, and I completed another block in The Splendid Sampler quilt-along before the next one comes out. I said I would only make the ones that intrigued me so now I'm.. well... four for four.

But isn't this a happy block? It's aptly named Happy, Happy and created by Jen Kingwell. Her pattern called for straight appliqued circles, but I loved the idea of doing Yo-Yos and other techniques. When first I saw the block I envisioned ruched flowers, ribbon embroidery, poppies. I'm inspired by the others in the quilt-along fussy-cutting and embroidering. How hard can this be? 

Oh, how naive.

My first Yo-Yo in about 18 years and it came out a planned 5/8"! Holy smokes that's small! 

It took a few minutes to remember the formula, but I have it now.

Admittedly, I didn't like my first Yo-Yo flower. My second wasn't fabulous either. What is it? What am I forgetting? What's nagging at me? I felt like Winnie the Pooh

Think. Think. Think.
Ah, my running stitch was too small. As I result my first Yo-Yos were all "gathers" and little "flower". The smaller the stitch, the more fabric bunched in the seam and the taller the effect. With my red Yo-Yo, I made my stitch a little longer, and it turned out smoother and tighter.

By the time I was satisfied with my Yo-Yos, I had enough for a bouquet and decided to stick closer to the character of the original pattern. 

I almost fussy-cut my bouquet - lovely fabric.
Although not my favorite block, I've decided I might embellish it more but not make a new one. This Splendid Sampler is a journey, and I think it will be fascinating see how much I grow in the next year. Although normally very Type A about my quilting, I decided being overly critical of each block will take the joy out of this learning experience. And, besides, mixed in with 99 other blocks, who will notice a few imperfections?

Can you believe these are 6" blocks!?!

For a free copy of Happy, Happy, visit the The Splendid Sampler webpage.

What have I learned?
  • Batiks are fabulous to use for Yo-Yo's not only for their unique designs but they don't shred as much as regular cotton fabric.
  • When using cotton fabrics, use a good-quality fabric with a tight weave.
  • Don't forget that the smaller the Yo-Yo the likelier the fabric pattern will get lost.
  • The longer the running stitch the flatter the Yo-Yo.
  • Use the formula!
  • Yo-Yos are addictive!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Splendid Sampler: Hitting the Books

The latest block, Happy Happy, came out today. It involves (in my version) piecing, embroidery and appliqué.

I decided as the blocks are getting more varied with greater room for interpretation that it was time to pull out the library. 

Here's a collection of technique books: machine trapunto, embroidery, stumpwork, ribbonwork, beading, crayola tinting, applique. I love referring to them because they are stuffed with index cards with notes and sample blocks. Old friends.

I look forward to experimenting this weekend.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This Block is Filled with Lots of Love (TSS 003)

Lovely block designed by Melissa Corry! I'm so geeked to complete block #3. Just 97 more to go!

And I'm keeping my promise! I'm cutting into those fabrics! Yes, the ones you save and stroke and never see the glint of the rotary cutting blade. When I cleaned my room the other day and realized how many charm pack, sample packets, and other fun cuts I had I knew it was time. 

And I'm loving it!

What are YOU saving it for?

Block #4 released tomorrow!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Piecing Lots of Love (TSS 003)

I'm really enjoying The Splendid Sampler and have started Block 3 - Lots of Love.

Online, though, I'm hearing quite a bit of concern over the 48 pieces within a 6" block. Taking a look at the pattern, I quickly realized there was a faster, surer way to piece these blocks (1-4" heart and 5-2" hearts) to avoid bulky seams, shifting points, and shrinking sections. Cut the fabric as instructed but follow these steps in this order.

Step 1: Sew two smaller squares to the corners as laid out below. Trim just the excess background fabric before pressing.

Step 2: Press the light background fabrics below. Notice that the light fabric, in this example, was just a bit smaller than the red fabric. That's OK. You will use the red fabric to align your pieces before joining and the light fabric will catch within the seam. 

Step 3: Sew the two red pieces together along the length. Notice how beautifully the point matches.

Step 4: Press open.

Step 5: Sew the remaining two small squares to each corner using the picture as your guide.

Step 6: Trim the excess light background fabric.

Step 7: And press. If you trim, use the red fabric as your guide.

Step 8: Using the method demonstrated with the smaller squares, sew your first large square to the lower corner. Don't forget to trim the excess light background fabric before pressing.

Step 9: Sew your last large square to the remaining corner. Again, remember to trim the excess light background fabric before pressing open.

Here's an image of the back. As you can see from the ruler underneath, the block is a perfect 4 1/2" square. There is no excess fabric sewn into the central seam shifting your points and the two upper and one lower point is exactly 1/4" from the edge.

Repeat the process for the 5 smaller hearts. 

With such small pieces, I'm really finding Mary Ellen's Best Press a fabulous way to finish these blocks.

Wings (TSS 002)

I finished piecing block #2 - Wings! It just need to embroider the antennae. Isn't it whimsical?

It was a pleasure piecing, and I'm pretty proud at how flat my 6 1/2" square lays. I used the perfect points technique for the center of each butterfly. 

My other suggestion for this block is to not treat it as 36-1" blocks but, actually, as a glorified 9 patch! So much easier to do it in smaller sections and then piece together. 

30 different fabrics in 6 inches!

I love it! I'm saving the antennae for a night in front of the TV. 

For a copy of the pattern, visit The Splendid Sampler Block 2.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Scrappy Thangles

Power is back on so I'm working on my butterflies. I had mentioned to someone that I would be using Thangles to make my tiny butterfly wings. They responded with, "I thought you were making it scrappy?"

No problem. Cut them apart and use the smaller sections!

So instead of using 2 different fabrics, I used 10 scraps.

And, with a little trimming, I'll have 5 unique butterflies!

I did make one miscalculation, though. I forgot the size on the package was "finished" size so I made them all too big. I'd rather make them bigger and then cut them down then have to restart them, though.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


When it comes to my obsessions I don't do cheap. And when it comes to threads and notions I have quite the storehouse.

But today I needed some more Aurifil...

I was shocked! $13.50 each! For these two small spools! I paid it - I want to support my local quilt shop - but dang!


Some Kind of Wonderful

In the face of adversity, great things can occur.

I was doubting this last night when we lost power during a wind storm. This morning seemed as bleak. Rather than working on the second Splendid Sampler block (whimsical butterflies), I found myself in my quilt room this morning doing a little Spring cleaning.

For the last few years my primary quilting has been memorial quilts for other people. I loved the challenge of taking a pile of clothes and cutting and piecing until something magical came out of all that sadness. But it drained me and took the joy out of quilting. There were weeks when I couldn't open the door to the quilt room.

And then this Winter I moseyed back in and worked on my log cabin quilt. I always have a simple, mindless scrap project to pick up and put down. I've been piecing this one for 10 years. After completing my block, I realized I only needed two more for the center of a quilt.

And then The Splendid Sampler came along. I only intended to watch (just like I watch the Stitch-along group). I loved seeing the heart blocks filling my Facebook feed, nudging out the political posts and the Flint Water Crisis rants. When the butterflies appeared, I was hooked. There's no way I can keep up with two blocks a week, work, geocache and continue with my online courses, but I can work on the ones I like and make a pretty wall hanging from it.

So this morning, without power, I found myself back in the quilt room cleaning off the table and putting unneeded fabric away. And, lo! What did I find?

My Some Kind of Wonderful project! 

Look how beautiful it is! And look how many blocks I completed! And this is not all of them. I even found two more in stages of completion! I had safely tucked them away so all the blocks, pattern pieces and fabric were in one place. After my successful Splendid Sampler heart the other night, I have the urge to pull out my appliqué needles again.

I admit now that when I started this project I was potentially setting myself up to fail. To learn how to appliqué starting with a full size quilt is insane! My mistake was not allowing myself time to learn at my own pace. Which makes it so sweet pulling this old friend out of the pile and picking it up when I can. 

Hey, if it takes 10 years to make a log cabin quilt, why am I rushing my applique quilt?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

This Heart Roped Me In! (TSS 001)

Full confession time: With such a full plate this year I had intended to be a voyeur during The Splendid Sampler quilt-along, I planned to save the patterns but just watch the beautiful blocks fill my screen on Facebook. But the first two blocks were too fabulous to pass up! So, here I go - feet first. I may not make all of them but will create the ones I enjoy.

Here's my first one - I haven't appliquéd in years! But it was very enjoyable (yes, Chooky, I admit it! It was as relaxing as you promised!). Luckily it was quite easy to step back into the world with my applique kit and notecard readily at hand).

Mine will be a scrap quilt and, gasp! I intend to cut into my precious charm packs! I'm at the age where I realize life is too short to save the good stuff!

Looking forward to this journey.