Sunday, April 23, 2017

final stitches

i've been working on this binding for a week or so. soccer season is over, so i don't have practices or games for handwork time anymore. but lately we've been doing a couple of sessions of listening to books on audible, which has given me a chance to hang out with the family and keep my hands busy at binding. i do enjoy reading aloud to the family, but sometimes i want to be able to listen, too, and not just be the reader. enter audible. it's been great. i can be with the kids, listen to something i like, and do my handwork. win, win, win.

currently, one group of us is listening to a charmed life, a chrestomanci novel, by diana wynn jones. this is a great fantasy novel for all ages that i've read a few times and have now introduced to the kids. the reader's britsh accent is ever so much better than mine, which makes the listening that much more fun. friday evening the three youngest girls and i listened to most of the book instead of watching movies like we normally would on a friday. they can move their bodies around and do whatever quiet thing they want while we listen. and i can, too.

another group of us is listening to the girl who drank the moon, a new find by kelly barnhill. this is another wonderful read/listen that i can't recommend highly enough. the writing is almost like poetry and i love the message of the story. a beautiful story beautifully told. on saturday night we found ourselves wanting to do some listening together with the addition of dad to the company, so i got some more time to bind.

normally, i try to do handwork as a secondary activity while i'm involved in something else with the family. but today after church i had only about a foot left of this quilt and everyone else was busy elsewhere. so i enjoyed some quiet stitching time, just feeling the rhythm and pull of needle and thread, soaking up the afternoon light, and sitting with my own post-church thoughts.

a friend and i were joking yesterday about how our great-grandmothers tisked and looked askance at sewing on sunday. we'd both been scolded, "when i was a girl. i was told any stitches i made on sunday had to be removed with my teeth on monday." we figured that sewing was a chore and necessary work in their day - work that was to be rested from on the sabbath. with all due respect to previous generations, to us a little handwork while enjoying conversation with family is not chore work, and perfectly acceptable on a sunday.

putting the final stitches in a quilt i've worked on over a long period of time, 2.5 years in this case, is always a bit surreal. to be actually done is rather astonishing. quilts really do get done a stitch at a time. if you just keep putting those stitches in when you can, even if it takes months and months, with gaps between sessions, eventually you have a completed quilt.

and here we are.

the final stitch.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

wip wednesday 8.13

i miss freshly pieced's wip wednesday link party. don't you?

there's nowhere to link up, but i'm going to post a wip wednesday report for nostalgia's sake today.

the top photo is my "piecing wip pile." but it's actually more like a pile of things that are too big to put away in my sewing room and need to be spread out on the piano parlour floor.

  • on bottom is "guys and dolls" stella grande quilt. fully pieced and basted (yay), needs quilting
  • off to the upper right are my giant swoon pieces - definitely still in the piecing stage
  • on top is the latest stella grande version, "citrus and sky," which currently has me stumped. i'm not loving the blue background. this quilt is lacking a certain dynamic interplay of value and color the previous ones had. it's going to stay put while i do some other piecing instead.

and this is the "binding wip pile." can you believe i have four quilts in this pile? some kind of record for me, this is. especially since one quilt was completed over the weekend and removed from the pile!

  • the top quilt, "star of the circus" only had about a foot of binding left for completion
  • penny patch 2.0 has a binding roll that needs sewing on (teal strip fabric up top)
  • "love all around" quilt needs it's binding cut
  • "dorothy's girls," my indian summer quilt, has binding cut, but not pieced (that ocher strip on top)
of course there is cutting waiting all over the place. 
so many projects niggling away at my brain right now. 
so little time. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

building a c

 quite often when i'm in the middle of a project, i'll take photos of the process as i go, with the intention of making a blog post out of it at some point. and sometimes, much later, i find those photos when i'm looking for something else. such was the case with these photos of when i decided to make letters to spell my son's name for his blue and orange wonky quilt using the letter patterns in denyse schmidt's "proverbial quilt."

the letters could either be patchwork pieced or paper pieced. i chose to trace the pattern and patchwork it together. you can watch my letter "c" quickly come together.

there are 4 pieces to letter "c." i cut apart the paper pattern, then selected a fabric scrap for each component. when i cut the fabric, i added in a 1/4" seam allowance on all sides by pinning the paper the the fabric and using a ruler to gauge 1/4" outside the pattern piece. all the letters in this patter have all straight lines to each piece, so this is quite easy to do.

next i sewed  pieces 2 and 3, the top and bottom segments of the "c," to the center background piece 1. once pressed, there was only one more bit.

piece 4, the long left side of "c" was last to go on.

setting the seam.

then pressing open.

and there you have a letter "c."

this process was very quick and quite enjoyable! i do plan on doing an entire quilt of a favorite quote someday.

next time, i'll just need to make sure i can see the pins so i don't accidentally sew one into the letter.

this quilt is now in the binding phase, by the way. it should be a finish quite shortly!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

why i blog

A post shared by @hydeeannsews on

i've been thinking about the different forms of social media i use to share my quilting and to connect with the international quilting community. i use two: blogging (here, of course) and instagram (find me at @hydeeannsews).

i was completely loathe to add instagram to the mix. blogging was enough for me to keep up with, and i enjoyed the depth of blogging - mine and others' as well. once upon a time i was a facebook user, but found it so completely overwhelming and such a black hole that i just stopped visiting after a while. blogging was good enough for me. i couldn't fathom the people who used all the media outlets. where did they find the time? (i do recognize a professional promoting their work and business has different needs than a hobbyist seeking connection only.)

but then one of my bestest and dearest quilting buddies made the transition to instagram, and i either had to join in to keep touch with her or let go. i wasn't going to participate, just observe. of course i got sucked in! (liz of shush, i'm quilting is now @lizfromshush, in case you miss her like i did.)

here's my list of what isntagram has going for it:

  • instagram is so instant. that's the whole point. i can share and get feedback right away. 
  • feedback - people will often "double tap" (like) a post, even if they don't comment. i see less and less commenting on blogs everywhere these days. i may have over 600 views on a blog post and only a comment or two, which doesn't tell me what people are thinking at all. while the like-to-follower ratio on instagram is also low, its different. and when i have a question, people do comment. right away.
  • quick sampling - it's a fast little soundbite of what everyone's up to (even though i'm pretty wordy there, too). my timeline has lots of small bits from so many people, easily scrolled through all at once. it's sort of like speed reading blogs.
  • connection on multiple levels and search-ability - those hashtags make searching and connecting so easy! hashtags are like instant link parties. and it's super easy to discover new people or ideas by chasing hashtags or other features that make suggestions.
  • parties - the swaps and giveaways and destashes, etc, that go on at instagram are numerous and pretty fun. there are sew-along times when everyone is chiming in during the appointed time, which is a lot like being with people while you sew, but without the complete distraction of talking constantly. there are generous volunteer swappings and iso (in search of) opportunities, too.
  • communication compatibility - there aren't any "no reply bloggers" on instagram. i can communicate with those who comment to me and i don't have any issues on the other end, either. 
  • convenience - it's on my phone, which means it's available to me anywhere, anytime. i don't have to sit down to the computer and type away.

so, yeah, i really like instagram!

i was never a regular blogger. i'm a busy mom who's only a hobby quilter. like most people who move to a new platform, i found my participation here dwindling even further. so many of my favorite bloggers of old have stopped almost completely. and i think that's sad.

blogging allows for depth.

when i want to include more than just one photo (without overgramming and blowing up everyone's feed), i blog.

when i have a lot to say about a project, or want to think my way through a project, i blog.

when i want to share the steps in a process or do a tutorial, i blog.

that's the difference for me.

so, for now, i'm not going anywhere.
this blog isn't leaving or dying.
it might be more quiet than some times in the past, but it will be here.
all the information will stay here.

and i'll be stopping in when i get the chance.

happy sewing and sharing wherever you are, friends!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

binding the little ones close

 i'm currently binding "star of the circus" whenever i get the chance: soccer games, while visiting with friends, or when we're just hanging out as a family. it's nice that it keeps my lap warm while i work since this is the time of year that's desirable.

i like to have some photos snapped of me working on the quilt because i'm foolish enough to think future generations who own this quilt might actually like a picture of grandma working on the little piece of her they've inherited. i would certainly like to see any heirloom i have when it was in the works, in the hands of the maker. so i grab a child and ask them to take some pictures.

 naturally, i prefer that this happen when i feel photo-presentable, which is usually on a sunday afternoon after church. a few weeks ago all of this was happening when i got an interested photobomber. first, she asked if she could sit next to me in the photos, wanting what she always wants: attention and the world to revolve around her 5 yr old self. she's a cute enough prop that i said ok.

 then she asked if she could help me sew! one of the reasons i enjoy handwork is the methodical, meditative, slow-paced aspect of it. i can either concentrate on a conversation in the room, or have one in my head. either way, it's always slow work. but adding a 5 yr old into the mix makes it even slower.

i admit i was reluctant to let her into my personal stitching space at first. but we worked it out very nicely. i place the needle, getting it started. she pulls it through. she did ask to do all the work herself after a minute or two, but i held firm to the arrangement. i do want the binding to be functional and look good, too. (it's the perfect opportunity to introduce her to her own stitching projects, like burlap stitching.)

however, giving her a chance to sew with me has many benefits.

it increases my enjoyment of the project and adds to the emotional value of the quilt. i imagine someday i'll look back and say, "i remember when d5 was so little and we stitched this binding together!" her involvement becomes part of the story of the quilt.

it also creates pleasant memories and associations for her, piques her interest in sewing, and attaches her to the project. when she looks at quilts she's helped me with, she'll be able to think, "i helped mommy make that!" i'm hoping this spurs her to create on her own in the future. of course it's an opportunity to instruct her on sewing skills.

so often, letting the kids "help" me sew is anything but help. it can cause extreme frustration and maybe even some explosions on my part. however, i believe it's an important investment in not only their future as creative people, but an investment in our current relationship, as well.

i already know this quilt is going to take several sit-down episodes to bind. slowing down a bit more to let her sew with me isn't going to delay the process much. since there's no deadline on this quilt, i have the luxury of being able to include her.

and as it turns out, she only stays interested for a short period of time anyway. after a few minutes, she'll bounce off to other things. i'm glad this is a lesson i'm learning right along side those she is gleaning.

it has certainly made both of us happy in this instance.

Friday, February 17, 2017

stella grande quilt series

edited to note: i will eventually work up a tutorial for this quilt pattern. for those who have inquired, the large hsts are 12" sq finished, the neutral border is 6" x 12" rectangles with 6" sq corners, and the colored border hsts are 6" sq finished. the quilt measures 60" x 72", a generous lap size.

nearly as soon as i started this over-sized sawtooth star quilt composed of large hsts, i began dreaming of other color combinations and slight border variations that i could do with this basic pattern formula. i got all excited, envisioning a whole series of these giant star quilts. maybe one a month for a whole year!

and then i remembered this is me we're talking about. the world's slowest quilter who has completely sporadic, unpredictable quilting time available to her. the girl who was crazy enough to co-host a gypsy wife quilt along last year, and then had to bow out halfway through due to extenuating family circumstances. granted, we don't have major accidents in our family often, but our life is pretty demanding, nonetheless.

so i decided a commitment to some sort of timeline for a quilt series was out of the question.

but the colors wouldn't get out of my head or leave me alone. they were morphing and multiplying like rabbits in there.

i literally fell asleep dreaming of color combinations. when i woke up in the morning, i went through the limited selection of solids i have on hand and tried to recreate what i'd been dreaming of. this pull came somewhat close, but not really.

i started to get obsessed.

so i packed the littlest one in the car and we went to the local(ish) shop that carries all the kona cotton solid colors, and i started pulling out colors.

i think i brought home about 20 different shades, including several pinks.

so when i got inspired by the love all around block by may chappell, which was made from the same formula as my star center, i was able to pull pinks off the shelf and whip one up in an evening. (realize, when i say things like "churn out" or "whip up," i'm talking about different speeds than the quilters who would have actually completed the entire quilt in the same amount of time. it's a relative term. my "whipping" is always interrupted by one of 8 people who need me to sustain their lives in various ways.)

shortly after making that giant block (with the intention of adding the borders like the first quilt), i decided my idea of a quilt series wasn't so crazy after all. i made the backing, basted, and quilted the first quilt (henceforth known as star of the circus) in one weekend. i did. me. i did this! it was so completely doable!

i jotted down several other ideas i had for color combinations, mostly based around some theme or color story i was interested in exploring.

eventually, i went back to the store for more color.

all kinds of greens, especially vibrant tones that echo "greenery", pantone's color of the year, and those with a yellow/puke-y edge to them.

then there was an assortment of other colors i had in mind, too.

this is going to be a winter story of ice and snow and evergreen trees.

although i did have a green and pink floral story in mind, when i was shifting piles of fabric around, i serendipitously created this beautiful combo that i'm dying to play with, too. i'll be doing both the original and this one.

there's also this pile that was inspired by quilter jenna valoe's color palette. i'll admit when i looking at the photos from instagram and pulled these colors, i was a bit dismayed at first. individually, they weren't colors i would usually use. but put all together by jenna, i did like them. so i went ahead and got them. they are totally growing on me as a collection now.

and thus a series of quilts is born.

i'm not committing to timelines or a number. i'm going to play and see where it takes me.

but i did come up with a name for this configuration i'll be working with:

stella grande

large star.

stay tuned to see how many stars get added to my constellation.

Friday, February 10, 2017

chain piecing the love

 i've got a few photos and thoughts to share of the progress on my love all around quilt. i'm sticking to the same basic formula i used on the star of the circus quilt: large center sawtooth star composed of 12" blocks, 6" neutral background border on all 4 sides, 6" colored border on upper and lower end, 60" x 72" quilt.

obviously, i chose a different number of colors and color layout for this center star, which gives it a different look and feel. i'm always intrigued by the way small changes like this affect the overall look of any given pattern. before, i had a star with a pinwheel center. now i have a star composed of four hearts.

next, i had to decide on the border treatment. before, i used 6" hsts with specific placement of the light and dark colors to give sort of a wide triangle effect to the border. this time, i wanted to try something different. initially, i was leaning toward using the same shapes i use for the background border (6" corner sqs and 6"x12" rectangles) in the heart colors. it would have been the fastest and simplest way to go. but i decided to echo the heart shapes from the center. this meant i would be varying the pattern slightly, since the heart shapes were composed of 4 hsts, not too. i decided the effect would be worth breaking out of the formula a bit.

this meant lots of hsts for the 20 hearts i would need. if i was making 6" sq heart blocks, i could fit 10 across the top border and 10 across the bottom border. 20 hearts, composed of 4 - 3" hsts. that's 80 hsts, 20 of each of the 4 pinks.

i'm still getting a kick out of the way chain piecing resembles bunting or a swag every time it comes off the machine in one long string of shapes. and i still want to photograph it every time.

this little lady likes to snip things, so i set her to work on the chain piecing. she was in the middle of practicing her rollerblading (christmas present) on all the tile in our downstairs, but she stopped and snipped for me.

i love finding little jobs like this to involve the kids in the process of my quiltmaking. it adds to the story of the quilt. they'll be able to look at it and say, "i helped with that one!" also, it exposes them to the process and teaches them some of the skills involved. i like weaving these things into their childhood memories while passing on the skills.

the hst  is the story of my quilt life these days. i hope this means i'm getting better at them.

although this little batch might attest otherwise. i found a whole new mistake to make: 3 squares pieced together instead of 2. how did that happen? i suspect because kona cottons are slightly thinner than other quilting cottons i've been working with, so i didn't notice that i'd grabbed 2.

and since i cut the light background squares and the colored squares from different size pieces of cloth, i miscalculated the number of light squares i'd cut by 2. hence, the two piles came out even when i layered 3 squares, not once but twice! nothing seemed amiss until i cut through the first set and was amazed to see two colors there. then i had to try to figure out where the 2 missing light squares were. some pondering over my math and cutting configurations eventually brought me round to the correct conclusions. i am no computer, but i usually figure it out in the end, after taking the long way round.

pressing and trimming batch after batch

now i have hearts in four pinks, clockwise from top left: flamingo pink (kona color of the year 2017), pomegranate, candy pink, camellia.

here's a close up that shows the two background colors i'm using: pearl pink and pale flesh. the color difference is very subtle, but in person, you can actually detect it. in photos, they tend to look identical. when my eye catches the difference as it roams over the quilt shapes, it always give me a little surge of delight inside, for some reason.

now to finish those hearts and get the borders on so i can get this quilt to my aunt!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

some munki munki

it's been a month since christmas.
anyone have their next one planned or started yet?
certainly not me.

i was going through photos and found this shot from christmas morning. can you tell we were up really late christmas eve?

this is relevant to a sewing blog because of the pjs i'm wearing. when i was getting "jingle jammies" (christmas pajamas) for everyone else, i came across some munki munki sock monkey pjs for me. my heather ross loving heart couldn't resist even though they are probably not fully age appropriate. the mr thought they were cute so i suppose i can still pull it off.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

love all around

so much going on in the world this weekend, right here in my own country, particularly. and i have to admit i'm baffled by some of it. but this is the statement i'm making right here, this giant quilt block. this is the flag i'm flying today and always: love all around.

political stuff is still shooting around well after the votes are in and the decision was made, the president elect announced. i've watched with sinking heart for so many reasons, but mostly over the way people are behaving. i've seen countless posts the share views the polar opposite of mine and i've just let it be. there is a time to engage in healthy, open opinion sharing, and there is a time to just let others voice their ideas without needing to respond with more than a listening ear. and hearing, seeking to understand, is so very important in all cases.

i knew inauguration day was hard for many people for a variety of reasons. i know what it's like to be scared and depressed when a new president is sworn in. so yesterday i was feeling all kinds of things for all the people around me, all the people on all the sides.

that's when i saw laura's "love all around" block and was introduced to may chappell's block campaign that so perfectly harmonized with what i was feeling at the core of all this mess.

i happened to have the better part of the whole day and evening available to me since my husband was away for the night. my scheme was to knock out tons of quilting. i had my "star of the circus" quilt to finish and wanted to get going on my "swoon supreme" quilt, too. but when i saw may's block and read her words, i dropped everything and spent hours making this one giant quilt block. i needed to make something that told people how i felt, that especially told the people who have different views how i feel toward them.

and i just happened to have several pink shades of kona cotton on hand, which i'd been intending to use in a large star quilt anyway. sure, the color layout was different than my original design, but the actual pattern was identical. also, i've been considering making a quilt for my aunt lynn, who is battling breast cancer. what better quilt than one with pink hearts that also sort of resemble pink ribbons, that was named "love all around"? i was sold.

i chose four shades of pink to make the four hearts meeting in the middle, arranged in a setting of love going round and round endlessly. four different pinks, but still all pink. different but the same. four hearts in four different directions but all meeting in the middle, all finding space for each other.

the whole afternoon as i worked on that quilt, i thought of why i was making it and what it meant to me, what it represented. i finally finished the block around sunset, too late to get a nice photo. but i wanted my message to get out there, so i photographed it in the worst possible setting (on the floor, at night, in artificial lighting) and put my post out there on instagram. it was a terrible representation of the block from an aesthetic point of view, but it allowed me to make my point.

here's what i wrote:

I sat quietly by through the ugly, upsetting political scene of recent times, holding my peace; not liking, not commenting, just observing. But today I saw @maychappell 's #LoveAllAroundBlock campaign and had to speak. 

I had to speak so badly that I spent my rare and precious free sewing time making this giant 48" block. And I'm posting an ugly nighttime photo, too, because I couldn't wait for better light tomorrow once my block was done. 

I am not sorry to see Obama go, I was not with her, nor am I an excited and celebrating Trump fan. But I do know and care about people in all those camps, and I am so tired of the divisiveness and fingerpointing and garbage. 

Love All Around is a political statement I am willing to, no, NEED to make. 

And by Love I mean kindness, compassion, tolerance, willingness to listen, crossing of lines, holding of hands, finding of similarities to build on. 

I love how May said, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Or maybe keep thinking and find something nice to say!" #MoreOfThisPlease Read her thoughtful post and find her block tutorial on the blog linked in her profile. #PoliticalQuilts #QuiltsAreLoveMadeTangible

and for the record, i'm not a feminist and i'm not marching anywhere this weekend, either. but if i was marching somewhere, this would be my flag and my message above all others: Love All Around.

i made the block in the exact same way i made my big star hst top. like i said, the method is identical, only the number and layout of colors are shifted. it's also slightly different from may's block design in that i didn't use accent hsts in the corners. but it's my version of her block that fits my needs.

i was moving at an accelerated pace while trying to pay attention to accuracy. however, once i started squaring up my blocks, i found i'd still managed to distort things just a bit. so i gave up squaring after 3 blocks. why bother if some were barely oversized and others barely under, anyway?

maybe that's why a few of my points didn't match up once pieced. unfortunately, the center points where the 4 heart shapes meet is not precise. but i think there's a certain appropriateness to that. even when we try our best to meet with love, things aren't perfect. and that's okay. when you step back, it all looks good and works out well. love can overlook such imperfections in the face of all the beauty.

i got the block for the center of the quilt top made. now i just need to add the borders and i have a complete flimsy. my last big hst went together so quickly that i expect this one will be done in no time, also. then i have to piece a backing. so far, the printed fabrics on the right are my picks. i'll need another bright pink or two to round them out.

then my aunt will have a quilt to wrap herself in, with Love All Around her.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

good habits

sewing isn't all just sitting at the machine and zipping fabrics through.

there are maintenance chores to be done on a sewing machine to keep it in good running order and little clean ups constantly needed to maintain a creative space one can actually move around in.

i have developed at least one good machine maintenance habit: i clean out the lint regularly.

i don't change needles often enough or oil the machine as much as i probably should, but i do have a habit of swiping out all the lint each time i change the bobbin. i keep the lint brush close by and use it whenever i have the bobbin case open.

what are your best and worse habits?
how do you make them part of your sewing routine?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

having options or how to manage project ADD

i have project fidelity problems.
also know as project ADD.

i just can't stick to one project from start to finish without switching it up. part of this is because i like variety in my creative life. part of this stems from having a limited amount of time to play with my quilting, also known as splishing and splashing with my stash.

if i do get some time, i'm not going to spend it slugging away at something my heart isn't into at the moment.

this is my hobby, after all.
my play time.
i want to have fun while i'm at it.

occasionally i can be a good girl and stick to something just for the sake of getting it completed. more often than not, i go with what i feel at the moment. since my sewing is not obligatory, i don't feel the need to do otherwise.

hence the fabric floor party going on above: fabric stuffs in various stages of quilt process assembly all over the place just outside my blue sewing room doors.

i like to have a number of projects going at once that are all in different phases of the process. that way i can decide what to work on depending on what part of quilt making i feel like tackling when i have time.

yes, i like my options.

at the moment, my main projects are:

quilting queue:

quilting penny patch 2.0 (which i already gifted in it's unfinished state to my mom for christmas. this is an unintentional family tradition, started by her many years ago. it's just the way my family does things. try to make something for a holiday gift and give it anyway if it's not done. finishes will come later.)

you can kind of see the quilting in the photo and kind of not. currently, in the new year, i mark off one 4sq x 4sq grid at a time. i try to do one of these a day, or at least a couple a week. i've nearly completed 8 of the 14 rows, which means i'm 4/7ths finished with the quilting. a couple more weeks at my current rate will see it done.

since april, when i found out my mom has stage 4 colon cancer, (about a week or two after my husband's accident) and i decided to gift this quilt to her, this has been my priority project. but as hard as i tried, i couldn't make myself do only this. my time was so infrequent and sometimes i couldn't face the fmq. interspersing it with other projects is actually helping me get it done more quickly because i'm enjoying my quilt life more, which means i get up early to quilt more often.

 this beauty has been folded up on the couch just outside my sewing room since april, also. i was doing one row a day right after the accident just as a few quiet moments of therapy at the beginning of my day while my husband was still in the hospital. i was loving it, but set it aside once penny patch 2.0 took priority. a few days ago i decided to add it to the mix, just for fun. one row of those modern loops every now and then doesn't take much time at all.

today i was doing my one row of loops and ran out of bobbin thread right where my finger is pointing - about two loops from the end of the row! ugh. thread burying two stops and starts just for two loops. maybe i'll just leave this row as is.

piecing queue:

my big star hst quilt (here and here), at the back of the top photo.
it still needs the neutral borders put around the star and then the flimsy is done.

i'm also prepairing for putting the backing together, hence the large swaths of fabric laid all over the floor.

A photo posted by @hydeeannsews on

d3's christmas quilt flimsy is done, it needs a backing also. that's the green piece in the top photo. the top is under my star quilt pieces, which is pretty accurate for where it falls in priority: on the bottom. the stars really have to align if i'm going to give sewing time to kid projects right now. i do try to be a good mommy and fit those in once in a while.

this next project is in a couple stages, so it can be a piecing thing or it falls in the

cutting queue:

my gypsy child hst quilt
(here and here)

there's still this lovely pile of pairings to be cut into 3.5" squares, hsts to chain piece, or hsts to be trimmed after pressing.

i get to just take my pick.

this is my plate of the completed hsts so far.

i need 21 sets like these. with 7 finished, there are plenty more to work at.
(darn. i did mean to crop that dark corner out of the photo.)

so that's what i'm hopping and skipping around in these days.
and as much as i like to go by the spontaneity of what feels like fun at the moment, i do have a method for adding responsibility in the mix.

first, i decide if i feel like some clean up needs to be done in the studio. fabric folding or whatnot. sometimes that happens. if the room is clean enough, i choose to either do cutting/trimming chores or sit at the machine.

when i'm going to sit down to the machine, these ladies keep my moving around.

let me explain.

once apon a time, i hated changing threads or feet for projects and mostly just worked through whatever needed doing until a change was required. now i don't mind a bit the few seconds it takes to swap out feet or thread. mostly i still let the bobbin dictate what i do by working on a project until the bobbin runs out. that's my signal to move on. i keep my machine projects rotating by the bobbin and it really mixes things up for me, satisfying my taste for variety.

by the way, that pink thing holding the bobbin and spool together is the june tailor thread mate spool and bobbin pin. it doesn't actually fit the aurifil spool snugly, it's sized for standard spools. but it does help them stay in place well enough to keep my threads together.

the grey thread (aurifil 5021) is for the big star hst quilt.

the blush pink thread (aurifil 2415) is for quilting the loops on the triangle quilt.

the white thread (aurifil also) is for quilting penny patch 2.0 or piecing the gypsy hsts.
note the two bobbins here. i got to a section stopping point on quilting and saw the bobbin was pretty low, so i simply removed it and set it aside for piecing at another time, and put a full bobbin in place when i started quilting again. no way was i going to start quilting with only that much thread on the bobbin because it would require a stop (and burying threads) quite soon. piecing with it wouldn't be such a big deal.

in addition to the bobbin, i have a set amount of each project i will work on at a time: a row of loop quilting, a 4sq  x 4sq section of orange peel quilting, a set of hst pairs. i make myself either change projects or go do something else when i reach the end of a project's designated allotment. this keeps me from sitting at the machine too long (bad for the body) and from getting lost in the quilt studio when i have other things to do.

winter break has given me a nice chance to pick up quilting again. i hope it continues when our regular schedule resumes next week. if i can just get myself up a little earlier in the morning, i like to work for a small amount of time on whatever project the bobbins dictate.

how do you decide what to work on?
do you have a rotation method or just decide what you feel like?

Friday, December 2, 2016

big HST ideas

any of you longtime bloggers out there ever think of renaming your blog? i toy with the idea on occasion. the original name of this blog no longer really fits my sewing, especially since i moved my sewing space out of my bawthroom. but splishing and splashing (or only getting to dabble my fingers in the waters randomly) does sort of fit the way i get to play with my stash these days, and renaming or rebranding oneself on the internet isn't always the smartest nor easiest move. however, if i were to rename this space, i think hst quilts, which would stand for hydeeann sewed these quilts, would do nicely. it would be a play on words that nods to my love of the classic and endlessly adaptable hst shape. for now, this stays a splishing and splashing stash zone.

and a place where i will continue playing with the hst on many different levels.

like this big star quilt i dreamed up and immediately put into practice earlier this week, before i fell too ill to complete it. because despite all my best intentions and personal vows to complete what needs to be completed, i can not force myself to do any more fmq until i take a break and get some itchy ideas out of my system! i just simply can't. so i did this one little big thing on tuesday.

i've been wanting to play with solids in a big, bold, modern kind of way, and in a funky color palette, for quite a while now. something along the lines of this inspiring design:

somehow, the other night i got obsessed with the idea of making one large star out of hsts that would be really fast and a bit of fun for me before i got back to the grindstone of the quilts that i absolutely need to finish soon. (we won't even mention names because this topic has been way overdone here. you know who they are.) i consulted the hst handbook Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle: Foolproof Patterns and Simple Techniques from Basic Blocks by jeni baker to get an idea of scale and see if she had a pattern similar to what i was imagining.

there was one pattern that featured 17" blocks, which was larger than i wanted. but it gave me a few tips on dealing with the large size, and i was off to the sketchbook to make my own design. a basic 8-point star, composed of 12" finished blocks felt right. i didn't want a mammoth-sized quilt, just one i could whip out really easily and be done with. maybe one that would be good for handquilting when i felt like some handwork over the holidays. but i also don't like square quilts. (i don't know why, but the ratio just feels off to me, like it's going to be too short to cover someone's feet, no matter how large it is. just one of my weirdness-es.) so a 48" square center with some top and bottom rows of smaller hsts to stretch it out seemed right. i wanted some space for my colors to shine, so i added in a small neutral border around the center star to give it some breathing room from the hst rows. can you see how simple and fast this was going to be?

the very next morning, after my pilates class, without going home to shower or change (because i might get sidetracked by a child needing something or some such nonsense), i went to the fabric store for some solids. the color palette i had in mind was inspired by some quilters i follow on instagram:

i like the way these ladies have mixed deep tones with lighter and brighter ones, and wanted to play with some warm orange and golden colors against navy blues, with a dash of really light pink thrown in for some real contrast. in the end, i realized this color palette is rather a mash-up of what i've been working on this year: navy and orange from the wonky quilt for s1, and golden and pink tones from my triangle quilt. interesting how that worked out.

at the store, i pulled a pile of colors from the kona solids line up, knowing i had at least two more navy blue ranges at home (leftovers from my sons' quilts). then i took a photo of my bolt selections because solids don't come with marked selvages! i had the bottom bolt turned around, but i do happen to know that's curry, the color i used for the backing on my golden-and-rosy triangle quilt. with butterscotch, i was trying to add in a bit of tan neutral that was in the same range as the curry color. it looked great in the store. at home, it looks almost identical. oh, well. i'm learning as i go. i also selected two more light neutral colors, but didn't photograph the names. i don't see this being a problem since i was going for a mix of creams for my neutrals and there are several. anything would work if i needed more for the neutral sections.

so here's the sketch and the colors i purchased in half-yard increments. (the other navies i was using, cadet and windsor, are not included in the photo.) colors left to right: 3 cream neutrals, including champagne, storm, butterscotch, curry, peach (which i think is a pink, not a peach color), kumquat, and tomato.

i came home, after a quick stop at the bakery on the same side of town as the fabric store, and began pressing everything right away.

to make 12" finished hst blocks, i needed 12.5" unfinished blocks. so i cut 13" squares to make the hsts from. these would be just slightly oversized, to allow for trimming and increased accuracy.

cutting a 13" block turned out to be really simple with my mat and 2 - 6"x24" rulers. i lined the fabric up on the mat and just used the lines to make sure there was 1" between the rulers to get a 13" cut. i know some people (like mother louise, who taught me to quilt!) disapprove of cutting with the mat measurements, and for reasonable cause. but ever since i saw camille roskelley do it in a craftsy class, i have adopted the method and love it. please forgive me, louise. i don't find my accuracy compromised as of yet.

then i turned the rulers the opposing direction in the same manner and made the cuts needed to produce the 13" square. luckily for me, i plan to use 6" finished hst blocks for my top and bottom borders, which will perfectly utilize the apporximately 7" leftovers from my cuts. i do love when things work out so neatly like this.

because i wouldn't be pairing each set of colors the same way each time, i couldn't use the double hst making method, but had to cut each square on the diagonal (bias edges!) and sew the pairs together from there. i made four blocks by pairing colors with colors, going for contrast in my pairings, and 8 blocks by pairing a color with a neutral. i could have made my corner squares from square blocks or hsts, and chose the latter for more added subtle interest in the quilt top.

once i had my squares all cut, i began playing with the star's center configuration. it was at this point that i realized i needed another color to make things even. sigh. i had 7 colors but really needed 8 so i could use each one twice: once in the center and once in the star points. trying to balance everything by using one color more than once was more thinking than i wanted to do, so adding in a color was the only way to go.

i was definitely not going back to the store and all the plausible solids i had on hand were sized too small to make the proper sized cut. there was one greenish/ochre color i really liked with the rest, but it was too small. so i had to adjust my color palette a bit and add in a very light blue, which i wasn't too excited about. but in the end, it works nicely and i've gotten used to it.

then i had to decide on the configuration of the center blocks:


all in one direction

after looking at each, i chose the pinwheel.

then i squared off each block. this is where having a ruler the exact size of my block and a rotating mat came in handy.
the blocks were only very slightly oversized once pressed open.

i aligned the seam of the two triangles with the diagonal line crossing the ruler, all the way across. this will produce the most accuracy when sewing the blocks together.

because there was a little wiggle room, i could also ensure that the ruler fit within the block all the way around. then i just sliced off the tiny bits outside the lines to get my perfect 12.5" squares.

after 4 hours of pressing, sewing, and trimming, i had the main square portion of the top completed. that kind of depressed me. i thought i should have been able to complete 16 large hsts more quickly. but i just have to live with not being faster than that. if it had been a lazy weekend day, i could likely have gotten the rest done. but it wasn't that sort of day and i had to move on to family responsibilities. so my play time came to an end.

i also expected to be able to quickly finish the remainder of the top in the next day or two, but was laid low with some nasty chest congestion and cough-inducing virus the very next morning. so stay tuned to see where this goes! i'm well enough now to post about it. maybe i can finish it soon after all.

and then i will definitely be back to finishing something before the year is up.
i do hope.

and the next color combo i'm dreaming of playing with, probably in some form of hst or other?

this, by the brilliant suzy quilts: