Sewing and snowing

The magic snowflake blocks apparently had a delay in their effects this time, because we rode out the rest of the week with just one late start.  The ground did eventually get a little white on Tuesday, but not a really impressive snowfall in the low lands.  However, that changed Friday night.

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While nothing compared to what Seattle got, this is a pretty good snowfall for southwestern Washington.   And more is supposed to be on the way, though I don’t think it’s going to be the snowpocalypse students were  hoping for on Friday when we left school with weather warnings ringing out on the intercom.

And of course it is perfect sewing weather! I don’t think I’m going to risk pushing the weather gods any further with the snowflakes this weekend. Instead I’m working to finish off my framed strips wall hanging.

I started by outlining all the shapes and stitching in the ditch between all the strips on the bottom border.

My plan was to use matchstick quilting for the background.  Everything I’ve read says don’t change direction with straight line quilting to avoid puckering and waves, but quilting around shapes in the middle of the lines’ paths meant not being able to just sew off the edge.  That leaves a lot of thread ends.

When I make wall hangings, I often don’t put the backing on until I’ve done most of the top stitching. It means I don’t have to tie knot after knot after knot to bury the ends after pulling them through.  I can just leave the ends loose on the back.  That speeds things up a bit.  And they stick to the batting or get sewn over with the next lines so they stay put.

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Still, there were a lot of ends to pull through!

I started the matchstick quilting in the smaller background areas.   I figured that would give me practice, and also I could just change directions and go back-and-forth because it was such a small area it wouldn’t make waves.

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It’s very time and thread consuming! After I finish those two small areas, I decided that I wanted to vary the texture, so I kept the lines in the rest of the background half inches apart. I marked lines two inches apart, then the one inch lines in the middle of those, and then I was able to eyeball all the rest of the lines without marking to get the half-inch spaced lines in there.

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It is now fully quilted, the backing is on, and it’s been trimmed square. Just the binding to put around the edge now and it will ready for the wall.

While I sewed, my son spent some time doing his own type of craft.

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Night sky

A while back my attention was caught by a project on the Wombat Quilts blog.  I was exploring paper pieced blocks and she has great patterns for lots of different stars.  She was making orange and blue star blocks at the time. I followed along with some of them, making pretty similar stars, though mine were gray and yellow rather than orange because I love gray and yellow. I kept the dark blue background idea because what other color would a night sky be?

Night sky stars fabric

I used the blocks as foundation sewing practice and also as an excuse to buy lots of different fabrics. (Didn’t really NEED an excuse, but it is handy when rationalizing buying yet more stuff to squeeze into the craft room.)Night sky stars quilt in progress image

And then, as is typical, some other shiny project caught my eye and I moved on.  The stack of stars sat on my UFO shelf and waited, gradually moving towards the bottom of the pile.

Then I came across this Starry Night quilt on Pinterest, which reminded me of those neglected stars and also solved the problem of not having made enough of them for a full quilt.  I just needed hills!  And a moon!

The moon was a bit of a trial and error process, emphasis on the error part.  First, with my limited curve skills and a patchwork of printer paper I drew a crescent moon outline to use as a piecing pattern, I made this moon.

Night Sky stars - moon image

Night Sky Stars - moon in progress image

Then I stared at it for a couple days, pretty much hating it more and more.  The center circle was too small, the points curved in too much, and then there were the puckered seams.  Some slicing was definitely called for.

Night Sky Stars quilt - fixing the moon image image

Not perfect, but much improved!

Now I’m at the fun stage where I’m just filling in the gaps.  Lots of slashing and random switching of directions.  If you look at the original inspiration quilt, she did a lot of paper pieced blocks and has a huge variety of squares.  That was never going to happen with mine.  So much precision!  I never would have finished.  I’m taking a more improv, crazy quilt approach, which is fun, messy, and leads to the occasional weirdly skinny bits of fabric, but it fits the picture in my mind, and I am liking the results.

image imageI cut a bunch of strips that vary between 1 1/2 and 3 inches wide, dumped them in a pile to rummage through. and now I just sit at the machine, sewing and trimming and turning and ironing, and gradually the night sky is turning dark blue.  As are my floor, sewing and cutting tables, but hey, creativity can be messy!

Night Sky Stars quilt - strips

The hills are going to take a bit of shopping.  I don’t have a lot of dark greens.  Luckily, I know a few fabric stores in the neighborhood.