Sunday, December 1, 2019

X Marks the Spot

     I'm sure a psychologist would have a name for my "disorder", but I will call it "obsessive".
Aqua/gray Dr Suess border
Just a bit of the mess!
The last few months I have been "obsessed" with a certain pattern and have been living with this mess since summer. After I finished up with the blue/green obsession I decided I really enjoyed doing the X-Marks-the-Spot block. It hit  me that maybe it would be cool to go with 2 color families again but instead of mixing them all up I would do one color for the X and one for the background (duh). That led me to the aqua/gray combo. I got it done and LOVED it but needed a border fabric. So I took a sample with me to Cd'A and came back with 3 fabrics. I know Susie will be shocked to see which one I used. She and everyone in the shop were on a different team, but this was the one that made the aqua pop. Their favorite was too dull and will have a life somewhere else. (One fabric had a small pop of red in it and when I asked my daughter for a combo she said red/cyan! I smell another one in the future!)
    As soon as I finished this one I wanted a different combo so I asked my non-quilter friend Bev for ideas. After brainstorming a few minutes I came up with beige/gray. She thought I was nuts and was not on board until she saw it all together. It may be my favorite.
Beige/gray. Admit it. It looks good!
    When Susie and I were shop hopping a piece of fabric caught our eyes and I bought it for inspiration for the next one. (How crazy is that! I started with inspiration BEFORE making the top instead having to find a border later!)  The colors are bright and fun and I was pretty excited until I went to cut borders and discovered the fabric had a definite repeat and I only had 3 repeats! So  the top and bottom borders match and the sides match each other. Oh well, no one but me will notice.
Brights/black made with inspiration
fabric. Looking at the picture the
border actually works.

Zoo I Spy for baby boy
      You'd think I would be sick of this pattern, but NO, not yet. Now keep in mind each one required me digging into boxes and bags and pulling out fabrics to use, then cutting them out. Pretty soon I had quite a mess! As I went along I decided to do this blog as a tutorial on how to do this project so I took pictures as I went along. I thought I was done for now, then I got word that a very special person was pregnant with a boy and I wanted to do a special one for her and lo and behold! I found a pile of 3 1/2 " strips of zoo fabrics that I had inherited from someone! Why not make the centers a solid piece of fun fabric and strip the backgrounds? And use as many novelty prints as I can dig up and make it an I Spy?  My mind was blown!
     I will always relate these quilts to Survivor. I have been binge watching for months while sewing, so they are Survivor quilts!

Well, I now have to stop this madness for a while and clean up the mess! I have to move an entire room full of stuff into another room that at the moment has stuff piled up everywhere. Christmas is coming and so is Emma!


Supplies needed:  A square ruler. For these measurement you will need an 8 1/2" square. A smaller or larger ruler will require different measurements.
Rotary cutter and mat
Long ruler at least 3" wide
Lots and lots of scraps
A large piece for the X. It will be cut into 1 1/4" x 12 " pieces so you should decide how many blocks you will be making before getting X fabrics (I used various black fabrics on the scrappy one)
Washi tape ruler. Love it!
(Not necessary but I find it VERY useful--washi tape ruler on sewing machine bed)
Neutral thread
Fabric sizing or Best Press type spray sizing  VERY IMPORTANT

Choose fabrics. Obviously anything goes with a total scrappy look.
Blue and greens, scrambled up. I like the side
borders which make it a better size. Not too fond
of the weird olive greens but I'll call them sparkle.
For a 2-color a little more thought has to go into it. I pull anything in the color family and toss them together on the table. If one is obviously off I pull it out. ( I admit there are a couple greens I
should have pulled out, but decided to go with everything...thus the ugly olive in there).

Here where I talk about one thing I consider very important for any quilt..SPARKLE!
Some people call it POP, I like SPARKLE.  Sparkle fabrics are the ones that contrast and pop out a bit. If you have a bit of sparkle your quilt will not be flat and lifeless. It will have some life and movement. My rule is there should be 1-2 "sparkles" in each unit. In this project I see 3 units--middle, left and right.
Pile of strips. See the
sparkles in there?
SPARKLE does not mean sparkly, it just  means it stands out. Usually that means a difference in color, or contrast but can also be sparkly or a bold print or even a solid.  If you look at the examples, you should be able to spot the Sparkle, but I'll give a hint.
In a bright combo, yellows and oranges and lime green will sparkle
In a neutral, a darker or lighter color will sparkle
In the bright/black combo, a lighter one will sparkle

It is also a good idea to make the SPARKLES a narrow strip.

 Keep in mind what you want for the X. Some ideas:
Bright kids fabrics with black X
Pastels with white  or yellow X
Two color with contrasting X (aqua/gray w/ white X, gray/beige w/ dark gray X, blue/green w/ white X
Anything can be done as long as the X pops!

Cut strips in varying widths 1", 1 1/4", 1 1/2", 1 3/4", 2", up to 2 1/2" (wide pieces are good for fabrics with large fun prints). They can be any width, but it is best to have a good variety. It doesn't matter how long the pieces are as long as they are at least 3 1/2" long. 

Cut X pieces 1/1/4" x 12". Cut enough for the number of blocks you are making.

It is a good idea to know how many blocks you are making. - like to make them in multiples of 4 because it bothers me to have half an X on the edge, but that's just me. It takes 4 blocks to make an X.

16 blocks= baby size square
24 blocks= larger baby or lap size, but looks best with added side borders
36 blocks = square lap size

STEP THREE: Center piece
Sew strips together. I've done this a couple ways. I have cut strips for the center into pieces 3 1/2 to 4" long first and sewed the pieces together. I have also sewn long strips together in groups of 3 (any more is a problem unless each strip is the same length)
For 3 1/2" pieces:
Choose pieces to pair up based on CONTRAST. Different widths, different colors, different values, different amount of pattern. You want good variety throughout.
Chain piece like crazy.
Cut units apart and sew pairs together, keeping watch on width, color, value, pattern, and sparkle.
Repeat until piece is 12 1/2" to 13" long  with 1-2 sparkles per 12 1/2" strip (this is where my ruler on the machine comes in handy)
For longer pieces:
Sew together in groups of 3. (This seems to work well). Then cut these into 3 1/2" to 4" pieces.
At this point the directions are the same. Pair up, watch contrast, go for 12 1/2" to 13" length.

PRESS. VERY IMPORTANT to use fabric sizing when you press. This will equalize the weights of the fabrics and will prevent stretch on the edges.
 Press all strips to one direction.


Cut into a 3 1/2" strip. Here is where you will get excited because it looks so pretty!


Center your X fabric on the strip. Sew. If you are smart you will make sure to sew with the pieced edges going down so you won't flip any--just saying!

Sew strips to the X. 
My rules: First strip should contrast with the X so it doesn't blend in. Start and end about 1" from the end.
Continue adding strips, keeping in mind color, value, pattern, width, and sparkle. Be sure not to put your sparkles (one per unit) in the same round or they will all meet up in the end.
Where you start and end depends on the last strip. If you are a geometry thinker, think 45° angle. If the strip was 1" start and end 3/4" down, if it was 2 1/2" start and end 2" down.
This is one project where I use the scissors A LOT!
Try not to repeat fabrics on a round or you will have to work harder later to keep them from meeting up at the end.
Keep adding strips on both sides until the piece is 12 1/2" from corner to corner.
It is a huge time (and thread) saver to chain piece!

Press from the center out, using sizing.

Squaring up
Using your square ruler, square up this messy block. Center the center line of the ruler down the middle, making sure there is fabric to cut on all sides.

This step could be done with a larger ruler, but what a hassle! If your block is the size of the ruler, it is so much easier to visualize!


Scrappy with various blacks
for the X
 Lay out the way you like them. Keep an eye on your sparkles. Don't let them touch, balance them throughout the quilt. You want the eye to travel evenly around the surface, not zero in on some "galloping horse" area. Check to make sure you don't have strips touching that match , and it is a VERY good idea to check to be sure seams don't meet up anywhere. That makes a hard lump.

Sew together. Add borders if wanted. There are a couple ideas here.

This has become a long blog, but hopefully it will inspire someone to try this block. Get in touch if you have a question. I am pretty sure I left something out that would help. All of these directions seem lengthy, but for me it is fun to work within the "rules". I have never been bored, because each strip is a decision, and each decision is different. (I'm sure the invisible psychologist would have a name for this too, but I look at it as a way to be creative and not bored). Please share any pictures if you make one!

And finally I need to speak to the fabric hoarders (like me) out there. I used to save anything bigger than an inch (really!) I have given myself permission to call the cut off fabric "scraps" which Webster defines as "a small piece or amount of something, especially one that is left over after the greater part has been used:"
I probably would have saved all those cut off edge scraps in the past but now they are in a bag to be used for dog bed stuffing. I feel good about that!

Another early I Spy. The
colors are so pretty!

One of the first ones I made with
this pattern. It is a fun I Spy.
And finally I should give credit where credit is due. I originally found this block here.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Let There Be Light

     Anyone who has read this blog over the years probably knows what is my least favorite thing to do in quilting--borders! Hate em!  Well, today I actually sewed 2 different sets of borders on a quilt. Uck.
No flash.  Colors are somewhere
in between
Photo with flash
      The story starts Monday when I reached into the UFO bucket and pulled out the first ziploc my hand hit. Turned out to be a bag full of  2 1/2" strip scraps that I inherited in a giant bag of scraps a couple years ago. They obviously were from a jelly roll that someone finished up. They were lovely red, white, and beige pieces. My first and only idea was to do a deconstructed 9 patch. I had all patches done and layed out Tuesday before work and today (Weds.) I put it together. It's kinda small and needed borders so I went to my stash in the sewing room. I found a good red on white that looked nice with it, and a piece of red that was the right shade. Yay me. I cut the white border, sewed it on in the current sewing room. (Yes, I have 2 sewing rooms at the moment, but no bedroom. Such is my life). Anyway I then took it into the kitchen where my ironing board is (yes, the kitchen. Long story involving, light, heat, and exercise) and as I was sewing it on I realized the border was too white. Like "galloping horses" too white. I didn't see it in the light of the sewing rooms, but in the kitchen it was glaringly obvious. So, back to the sewing room to rip it out, back to the stash for a light beige, and I had to sew it on again. Highlight of my only day off in 10 days.  
       So I guess the moral of this story is..check your colors in different lights. They really do change!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

It's All About the Blues

      After my dad passed away in August I just have not been able to get enthused about much of anything. I didn't do any Christmas projects, the kiddos didn't get ornaments, I didn't do my usual "January Project". I did layer a couple projects, quilted a couple small quilts (so I'd have enough pins for a big quilt, but really didn't do much. I have a pile of 6 quilts that need bindings and darn it the binding fairy still has not shown up! I was just forcing myself to work on things in my piles but not really enjoying myself. And here's the big one. I haven't bought any fabric since my birthday in July! I know I was depressed but just wasn't enthused.The Lonequilter was really alone.
This tote used to be stuffed to the top.
      Finally I came up with an idea for a project which I thought might be fun for me. I pulled out the tote of blues and greens, pulled out every piece that was smaller than 1/4 yard and started cutting strips of various sizes. I started with the X Marks the Spot quilt. Then I decided to make my favorite crazy log cabin. Then I went with the strippy block. The floor is covered with strips, there are scraps everywhere and I have 3 projects going on. The other night I sewed until 1:45 and forced myself to go to bed. Then the other day I realized something was different.. I was on my way to work, It was a nice day and I had been so busy sewing and cutting I had completely forgotten to take my Pokemon Go walk, which I do almost every day. I looked around and said to myself "You've turned the corner".
Oh Lordy, what a mess I have
to sort through!

Crazy log cabin

X marks the spot

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Words Escape me on this one!

     Words escape me, really they do! Last year at our retreat we had a swap of fabrics, patterns, UFO's, stuff we didn't want any more. OMG I took home  a UFO project that is indescribable. All I can say is I hope the quilter has improved since then! My plan is/was to make a charity quilt from it but this may be beyond me! Two blocks were assembled and I took one partially apart to match up the center seam which was a full 1/4" off! The two blocks are not the same size and check out the sewing and pressing! I started taking apart pieces that had been started and none of the 1/2 square triangles are the same size. That was when I discovered that the quilter had backstitched 1/4" to 1/2" in from the edge! Taking apart is tough! Not to mention that the fabric is directional and going every which way! Still shaking my head on this one!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I say any time you learn something new, it's a good day!

      This is not really quilt related, just crafty me at it again. I always say if you learn something new it is a good day. Well, this is what I learned the other day.
If you try to paint on a glass Christmas ball it may end in disaster! 
I was painting half of the red ball white to make it into a Pokeball ornament. Seemed like a good idea at the time. As I painted, the white paint turned pink. Well, it took 5 coats of paint to get it white, but I have to say, the end result, is pretty cute.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Going Crazy in the Fabric Room

     My favorite blocks are very scrappy ones, I particularly love to do crazy quilt blocks. I've done them in a large variety of colors and just pastels. Right now I am doing a more controlled collection of grays, blacks, red and blue. Usually I put them together as an "I Spy" because I use so many novelties. My friend asked for a mini tutorial and I thought I had already done one but I hadn't so here it is, Susie.
       I often start with a cute fabric for the center, cut into a wacky 4 or 5 sided shape. Then I sew a fabric onto one side. I do have a couple rules for doing these blocks. Rule #1  Sew onto the longest edge. If you don't, the block will grow lengthwise and not square. You can sew scraps onto the pieces or chain piece onto a long strip. (Obviously if you are trying to use up scraps, go with those first, then save strips for when it gets bigger)
       If I am working with strips (like the gray project), I start by sewing a couple strips together and then cut that into a trapezoid or 5-sided shape.
       Next step: Press to the added piece.   Next step: Trim
       You will repeat this process just like a log cabin, going around and around, trimming after each pressing. This brings me to my Rule #2  Avoid parallel lines   If you are sewing onto a strip like the gray ones, the edges are parallel. So when you trim, cut the outside edge to be wacky. The straight strips really catch the eye so it is a good idea to wacky them up a bit!
       Rule #3  Try to have a bit of each color you are using in each block. If I'm doing brights I make sure there is at least one yellow and one orange in each block, for example. This will make the whole quilt blend together better.
       You are going to keep going log cabin style until you have a square the size you want. I recommend using a square ruler the size of your finished blocks. I have a 6 1/2" and an 8 1/2" square so those are my block sizes, usually. It helps you to better see the block building up and helps you decide where the corners are. I've been known to put a pin in a corner as I'm going along, so I don't accidentally add onto the wrong side.
        Save all the odd pieces left over. You can put them in another block! If you cut all your strips the same width (2 to 2 1/2" is good) you can join them together and use them as one piece.
         My last rule is Try to not have large pieces that stand out.  As you get to the end the pieces get bigger. I like to save really busy fabrics for those places because they will blend in better and not stand out. Solids and blenders stand out more, and are better on the insides.
         Another hint: if you need to make 40 blocks, start with 20. As you go along, you'll have lots of scraps cut off that are too small for these big blocks but perfect for new blocks. So when I do these I have blocks in a variety of stages at the same time.
         You don't have to think of these finished blocks as just squares. I admit it had never occurred to me to cut them up. I learned this at a Runamok meeting where we learned how to do this technique. I obviously didn't need the tutorial, I had been doing this for 20 years or more! But a modern quilter somewhere came up with the idea of using these blocks like a piece of fabric. The two pastels quilts at the end have cut up squares as triangle units. My gray project will be a cut-up also, I can't wait to finish it!
       Good luck! (Especially you, Susie)
Center block cut 4-sided

Center block cut  sided
Adding a scrap for the next round
Strip piecing onto a long strip

Crazy medalion style with
blocks cut into triangles on
the borders.

Bright "I Spy"

Crazy blocks in controlled palette. Each one has a
nice center block.
Crazy blocks cut into triangles
to make a star.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sometimes You Have to Take a Break

    Sometimes I just need to take a break from quilting. As much as I love it, I like other crafts too! Before Christmas this year I got inspired to knit again. The Christmas before, I made my daughter a Doctor Who scarf. For the uninitiated, one of the doctors wore a scarf like this.
Image result for doctor who scarf

Check out that map! A friend decided not to make hers and gave me the beautiful yarn! Thanks Julie!
Believe it or not I knit it between Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas! Here's Emma in hers! By the way, it's 12 feet long!
No automatic alt text available.

       Anyway.....This Christmas I decided I wanted to knit again. I started with cowl scarves which I gave for Christmas gifts (and didn't take pictures of). I also made several dishcloths which are fun to play around with. These are a couple extra scarves and cloths which will be gifted in the future.

Now I am knitting lots and lots of hats for cancer patients. I started with my leftover yarns, then bought  a couple skeins to stretch them out and then Mom gave me a couple skeins of her leftover yarn for Christmas and then just yesterday I was given 2 HUGE bags of Mom's leftover yarn. Good grief! I'll be at this forever! I enjoy playing with the colors and making up designs as I go along. 
These are just a few that have already been donated.

      My latest project was inspired by my friend Susie Long. She showed me the rug she crocheted and I thought about that for over a year before  decided which fabrics to use. All of a sudden it hit me that it would be a great way to use up all those panel fabrics which I had inherited from my friend Rochelle Ash (she never met a panel she didn't love). I hated to waste them and have no intention of ever using them so they got cut up into strips and crocheted into a new rug for my bathroom. I love it!
I've also prepped for another one in darker colors, but can't decide between oval and rectangle. It's a really quick project--just a couple hours!
     I'm rejuvenated!