Saturday, March 17, 2018

A new galaxy quest

Hi all, and happy St. Patrick's Day!  My family always celebrates today even though we're not the tiniest bit Irish, because today is my brother's birthday.  Well, one of my brothers.  It's totally his fault that I'm craving cake with green frosting today.  And, no, his name isn't Patrick, but if you buy him a beer today he'd be happy to answer to it!

I've started on another project for RSC18.  I can hear you now, "Mari, don't you have enough projects?"  Well, yes, but what I don't have is projects to use up some larger scraps.  Specifically, I need to use up a bunch of dark blue half yards that I bought to test fabrics for my Constellations quilt. I almost never use dark blue, so why not combine those half yards with my RSC scraps and make those a quilt? So here's what I've come up with:

More stars!  The wind was blowing so badly when I took these pictures that I could only get ones out on the deck where I could chase them down when they started blowing away.  These stars are a Clay's Choice variation and you can find a tutorial for them HERE.  They're pretty simple to make and go pretty fast.  And don't they just sparkle?  I made these stars in an 8-inch size instead of 6-inch, which will mean fewer stars to make a quilt.

I think that I'll need about 40 stars to make a decent-sized quilt, so these 6 will be a good start.  If I make some more light blue or purple scraps along the way this year, I'll add in a couple of purple or light blue stars, but otherwise I'm starting right here. 

The worst part about making these blocks was going to be drawing lines on the back of squares to make the diamonds, but somewhere I saw a tip about using gridded plastic as a guide so that you don't have to draw any of those lines.  It worked great!  I bought a piece of this template plastic at a big box store:

This sheet was way too big, but only came in one size.  The squares there are 1/4 inch apart, which also makes them handy for aligning seam allowances.  I cut out a small piece, then aligned one of the heavy lines with the needle and taped it to the machine:

Instead of drawing lines, I just kept the tips of the pieces lines up along the heavy line as I stitched so that it stitched a straight line right on the diagonal.  The first couple of tries were a little shaky, but as soon as I got the hang of it, it worked great and saved me a ton of time.  I know that some people use graph paper or even regular paper with a line drawn on it, but the fabric slides very nicely right along the plastic.  I did take it off the machine once I finished the stars, but I saved it, and if I lose it, I can cut another piece!

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  If you're reading this on Saturday, chances are that we're outside digging right now.  The time for the nightmare drainage project has finally come.  I have a ton (literally!) of gravel and 150 feet of drainpipe waiting for me. If you're looking for something to do, grab a shovel and come on over!  There will be takeout!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Building begins

Okay, I'm just going to say this:  I have too many quilt ideas! You know how sometimes you have zero ideas and sometimes you have a whole lot of ideas? Right now I have tons of ideas and I want to start all of them.  The only thing really stopping me is that I have no empty project boxes.  Otherwise I would be cutting 50 different things this week.  Luckily, I am holding myself back writing down all my ideas, and working on my current projects.  Let's hope that I'm still excited about these ideas when I have time to start something new.

Since I'm working on my regular projects, these last few days I've started working on building my "winter" church panel for a seasonal church sampler.  So far I have the door portion done:

If you recall, I am piecing a panel of a lovely colonial-era church near Wilmington, Delaware, as the "winter" portion of a seasonal church sampler.  I started with the door portion because that seemed like the most detailed part of the building to me.  The little windows in the door took forever, but I think all the trimming and ripping was worth it.  Could use some more pressing, though, so it looks less crooked.

Last time I showed some beige-ish fabrics that I might use for the building itself, but I actually purchased some Grunge fabric for this project. 

I've not been a big fan of Grunge--fabric that's already dirty!--but it works for this project.  If a 200-year-old building doesn't need grungy fabric, what project does?  If you look, those are two different colors, which I got because there are two distinct colors in the building.  I'm pretty sure these are Vanilla and Cream, but I also got a couple of tans so I can see if I like the contrast using those better.

If you look, the building has a lot of concrete over fieldstone, and the center portion is smoother concrete than the remainder of the building, so I had to have two different colors.

I think getting that door finished is a good step forward.  I really like this so far, too, and I've had a good time puzzling through it.  Next I plan to make the windows for the center portion and then the sides, then I have to think about how to make the grounds. The windows are colonial "12 over 12" windows, so right now I'm thinking that the panes will have to be stitched in and not pieced. We'll see how it works out.

And in case I didn't mention it before (and gosh, I'm sorry I didn't!), I'm using Julie Sefton's book Build a Barn, No Pattern Construction as a guide to free-piecing the churches.  It's very helpful!  You can get it from Amazon or a signed copy from Julie.  You'll enjoy it!

The church project is fairly monochromatic, which makes this post a little dull!  I've also made these:

That's some nice color! These are for the Community Sampler being run by Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell.  I'm making mine in pinks, yellows, and greens.  Can you tell that I'm thirsting for spring?  I especially like the fussy cut fabric in the center of that first block.

Hope you are making some progress on your projects this week, too. I am supposed to be working outside over the break but we're having some weather, so I'm dodging that for now.  Thanks to all of you who offered your support and some recipes that are definitely not taste free.  We taste tested a bunch of things and I'm making progress on knowing what to eat.  I can personally vouch for THIS recipe for Maple Bourbon Chicken.  Yum!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Snow day finish

It seems like my life has been full of a lot of unexpected things recently, including the snow storm that happened on the East coast this week.  It was wild! Heavy, wet spring snow that made the roads an absolute mess.  For a while there it was really hard to see outside.  We got hit on Wednesday, and the people to the north had to suffer through Thursday as well.  And of course everything was closed.  And we all know what that means, right?  Bonus sewing time!

I didn't think I'd have a finish this week, but I settled in and finished this little lovely:

If you recall, this is a little string top that I made a couple of months ago.  I made the blocks at the end of last year from the smallest of my strings.  The 16 little blocks were just destined for a box but they became this little top instead. While it was snowing, we were lucky enough to still have power (some people didn't) so I sat down and quilted this up.

The quilting for this little top went pretty quickly.  I used a walking foot to make a simple crosshatch through the string blocks, and then to outline the small inner border.  Then I used some chalk to draw in some scallops on edges of the inner border and echoed those twice to make a nice frame.  You can see it a lot better on the backing:

Well, I hope you can see that. After I finished it up, I had to add in that glass button in the center, you know, just to give it some color. All together, the quilting for this piece only took about an hour and a half, including drawing in the scallops.  I used the walking foot for the whole thing, which was awesome.  I think I could do a lot with this, and it makes me want to at least look at the book by Jacquie Gering on machine quilting with a walking foot.  It's so much easier for me than free-motion.  And it turned out great!

At about 24 inches square, this quilt is obviously wall-hanging size, and it happens that we just bought ourselves a lovely sideboard for some extra storage.  It's on a wall that spans the kitchen and dining room, which is all open.  I hung the quilt right above the sideboard, where it certainly shines:

The picture here doesn't do it justice because of the indoor lighting, but it looks really good against the blue-green wall.  I especially like how snappy that green binding looks.  It adds a nice happy spot to the kitchen, kind of like a stained glass window. I used Command strips to hang this directly on the wall.

So there's what I did on my snow day!  It was actually quite relaxing since I had no where else I could be and nothing else I should have been doing.  Oh, sure, I could have looked harder, but why?

Hope everyone has a good weekend.  Believe it or not, I'm going to be. . .cooking.  I know! But I really have no choice but to learn some new things in the kitchen.  I've been having some health problems for a little while now, and a couple of weeks ago I was (finally!) diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which is going to require me to eat gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free.  If you know any recipes which are not also taste-free, I'd love to hear them!

Sharing at Finished or Not Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and crazymomquilts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Building plans

I read this week that spring is running 20 days ahead of schedule for the Mid-Atlantic states, which is where I live.  I believe it, because the hubs and I made a quick trip last weekend to celebrate our grandson's second birthday (!!!) and when we got home, I noticed that there were already weeds growing in the lawn.  How can this be? It seems impossible, but there it is!

Since we are racing to spring, I thought that I had better get started on a "winter" project before we're well into planting and all that.  Remember a bit ago I made a free-pieced version of the Joan of Arc chapel?  I said then that I wanted to make a seasonal sampler of different churches or chapels.  With winter ending I'd better get started on the winter church, don't you think?

Here's the church I've chosen for the winter panel:

That center tree is going to need to be edited out.

This is St. James Episcopal Church on St. James Church Rd. in Stanton, near Wilmington, Delaware.  It may not look like much in the pictures, but it is an awesome church! The people there are very nice, of course, but the building is very interesting.  The congregation itself was founded sometime before the land for a church was purchased in 1714. The first church building was built in 1716 and was replaced by this building in 1821.  The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and still has an active congregation that uses the church all the time.

Well, that will be a challenge to construct!

There are a lot of colonial-era churches in the area, but I'm drawn to this one because of the asymmetry of the building and the interesting setting, right there in the middle of the cemetery, with the fieldstone walls right at the street.  (The first grave there is from 1726, and many of the stones are still readable.)  I think this will be good for the winter piece because it has an almost monotone quality in the winter.  The church itself is a little more yellow than it appears in the picture, but almost everything is a shade of the same colors.  Plus, once the trees leaf out the building itself is hard to see.  It's beautiful with flowers, but not for my purposes.

So, with all of that, what am I going to do for fabrics?  Well, here's what I have so far for the areas surrounding the church:

The main color here is going to come from the sky fabric, and all of these blues are wrong.  I want a brilliant blue, but the darker one here is too bright and the lighter one is too light, so I guess I'll have to go shopping. (Gosh, I hate it when that happens!)  The tans are for the grounds, which don't show too much in the photos, and the greens are for the evergreens and tree trunks.  I admit that there will not be a lot of color here, but I think that's a plus.

For the building itself, I have these so far:

The grays are for the gravestones in the cemetery, which have more variation than you'd think.  I might need a darker gray for some parts, too.  The greens there are for the low fieldstone walls in front of the property, which are very weathered and have been capped off with weathered copper (which ages to a green patina).  The yellowish beiges are obviously for the church. I'm drawn to the one in the center top, mainly because it has splotches on it and looks weathered.  The one at the top right also looks good, but those figures in it are leaves, so I'm not sure how that will look.  Experimentation is in order.

So, there we go! I'm ready to make the first sampler panel.  (Why, no, I haven't quilted the first chapel yet!  What are you implying?)  I'm open to suggestions and ideas for building. Pretty sure I'm going to have to applique the bell in the tower, unless someone has a great piecing idea to share!

Hope everyone is having a good week!  For anyone who's interested, the birthday boy was delightful, and his twin brother and sister are adorable.  Who knew this much happiness was possible?

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.