Summer blues

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A sudden urge to sew came over me and I actually made enough progress to have something to post about.

There hasn’t been a lot of time spent on the machine this summer, spending more time camping, in class, or hanging out in the hammock reading, but in the last couple of days I’ve picked up my modified crossroads blocks again and got the top finished.

The original block puts the emphasis on the center 8 point star.  I changed it up to make smaller X blocks in single shades which makes that part stand out more.  If I’d stuck to a single X color or made the bars of the X random shades the stars would have stood out more, but as it is, this is an X quilt more than a crossroads block.

 

 

I finished up all the 16 patch and X blocks a few weeks ago. I dug out my Hera marker which made sewing the corner lines go faster, although it was still the slowest part of the block.  Chain piecing sped things up again.

ECEF7A9F-06D9-4FFB-B218-5FE365F7F202I spent a lot of time trying to get the mix of blocks so that the different blues were scattered and the low volume blocks didn’t have any duplicate fabrics touching, and had the blues and yellows spaced out.  Inevitably I missed some with the background fabrics and didn’t notice until seams were sewn.  Eventually I had to let go and just not care.  I’m the only one who is really going to see those duplicating squares when it is all done, so I am reminding myself not to care.  With mixed success, but I will keep trying to not obsess.

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Laying it all out is also when I discovered that apparently I can’t count.  Back to the sewing machine to make four more 16 patches.

 

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There are eight blues and 50-60 low volume fabrics in this.  It made only a small dent in my 2 1/2 inch squares, so I will be searching for the next scrappy pattern to use them with.

The top is 56” x 80”, so a smallish twin or a largish throw.  I’ll piece together a backing from more of the stash fabric one of these days.  I lost my usual places to pin quilt sandwiches as both my sister and I have changed schools so I no longer have the library tables or her classroom floor.  I think there will be spaces in my new building, but they don’t know me yet so it seems a little weird to go in this summer and commandeer floor space.  I will let them get to know and love me before I start crawling around with handfuls of pins and tape.

Linked to My Quilt Infatuation and Oh Scrap

 

On vacation

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Summer vacation finally got here, and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to arrange camping trips.  We recently bought a little tent trailer, and I’m discovering that it is very difficult to just spontaneously go camping on a weekend.  People apparently start booking the reservable camp spots months in advance, way before we realized we were going to be able to get a trailer.  My husband, sadly, doesn’t get summer off, so if we want him to come along, it has to be on the weekend.

But I’ve cobbled together a few reservations for various locations over the next couple months.  We may have to switch spots every night – and we will know better for next year to plan way in advance.  But we will be camping!

We did a couple of test runs in nearby parks to make sure we knew how everything works.  We’ve learned how to turn on the propane heater, attach the side mounted camp stove, and made lists of things we need to organize the very minimal storage.

And saw some pretty beautiful scenery.

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Our dog, Theo, who is rather a neurotic and barky mess, has proven better at camping than we thought he’d be.  He hates strangers and cars and bikes, but it turns out he is a big fan of woods and nature walks, and he’s been willing to keep a little quieter so other campers aren’t bothered.

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So I think this camping experiment is going to be a success once we work out all the kinks.

When not endlessly searching through the Washington and Oregon state park reservation systems, I’ve been sitting down at the sewing machine and am making more X and 16 patch blocks.  Nights in the forests get chilly – we are going to need a bunch of quilts!  It is motivating to get back to the fabric.

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(P.S.  That is Mt. St. Helens in the mountain photos above, our local volcano.  The visitors’ center at Johnston Ridge is wonderful – we’ve been going for years to see the recovery proceeding since the eruption. But it turns out no dogs are allowed in the national monument. Yet another thing we’ve newly learned about camping – check ahead where and when pets are allowed.)

Crossroads block

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I haven’t started a quilt top for awhile – or done much else with fabric – so it was time to get going on one.  I landed on this tutorial from the Bee in My Bonnet blog.

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I used a lot of my darker scraps on my Growing Up Odd quilt, so for this one I sorted out low volume fabric for the background and dug out some blue solids to scatter in.

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This is what the block is supposed to look like.

After I made the first block though, I realized that I’d have to do a lot of planning if I wanted each X to be from one blue rather than mixed.  I went back and forth on whether I cared, tried a different arrangement, finally decided I did care, and dismantled the completed block.

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So now the plan is to make the X blocks separately from the 16 patches and assemble it from there.

Done is better than perfect

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After more than two years, my red and white Xs quilt is finally done!  It waited in its box for a long, long time before getting quilted.

The background is all loops, really the only free motion pattern I can manage over wide areas.  But I did try some new quilting patterns inside the Xs.  I gave up quickly and picked out my free motion attempts at fillers, but I had more success with the walking foot.

I used the border to practice some simple dot to dot lines, marking my turning points with pins.  Then I went back and did more in the Xs that had relatively large open areas.  Nothing complex, but I got better as I went on.

There were a LOT of thread ends to bury!

I used the bright red for the binding which went on really fast after all the pulling and pausing and turning during the quilting.

We no longer have a house with an upper deck, so my tall husband did his best to hold it up in the kitchen.

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It is done just in time to put it on the couch for Christmas.  I guess I need to make a blue and white one for Hanukkah next since we celebrate both.  It is too late for this year – the last candle was a few days ago – but I can have it ready for next year.

I was really scared to put this one in the washer.  I would have skipped that step, but after being dragged around for all the sewing, the quilt needed to be cleaned.   I didn’t think to prewash the fabric way back when I was starting the blocks. I never prewash, but this time it would have been wiser.  Red and white – the bleeding potential was very high.

I did a lot of research about washing it and ended up putting it in with as much water as the washer allowed and double rinsing.  I also threw in six color catchers (the normal amount is one, maybe two for really strong colors).  They came out pretty pink:

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But the quilt did not.  Yay!

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The back is a crowded red and white winter village.  It is busy enough that the quilting doesn’t really show, neither the white or red thread.

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I especially like like the little snowflakes falling on the rooftops.

044A1B9D-AA48-44D6-8EAC-1A47500D0C3CThe quilt is done, the tree is trimmed.  Now I just need to do absolutely everything else for the holidays.  It may be time to start panicking.

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Some progress at last

It has been rather hectic around here, and somehow posting on the blog fell by the wayside.  There hasn’t been a lot to post anyway, as crafting time has been scarce.

But today I finally had the house to myself – my husband pulled all the kid duty driving back and forth to sports and birthdays. The man knows I need the occasional day to myself to stay sane.  So there was sewing!

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I finished the X block quilt top at last.  Over the last couple weeks in odd moments of time I added white around each block to make them 14″ square.  I also made four half blocks to fill in the ends of the staggered rows.  I added another white border all the way around, and then a randomly pieced border in the two reds to finish it off.

The photos required standing on a bucket in the driveway – the backyard was in shadow by the time I finished so it was the only sunshine left.  I really need to work on my photography one of these days.

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I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  I love the vivid colors and the variety in the blocks.  Deciding how to quilt it is going to take some mulling.  I want the Xs to stand out, but the thought of outlining each of them is a little daunting.  That is a lot of twisting and turning bulky material through the machine harp!

I don’t have the backing fabric yet, so there is so time to think about it.  Two other quilt tops are in front of it in the quilting line as well.  But I’m happy to have another finished project to cross off the list.  Next up is the next mystery quilt clue, the last one in the QAL.

Red and white blocks finished!

I have finished making all the red and white blocks for my X sampler quilt!

Block 17 – Card Basket (This one might be my favorite.  Sturdy, not too fancy, but with interesting elements.)

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Block 18 – Card Trick

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Block 19 – Cats and Mice

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And block 20 – Chuck a Luck. (I continue to think the names of these blocks make no sense at all. Card Trick I sort of see, given the shape, but what about the block below makes it a chuck a luck?  What is a chuck a luck?)

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As I have been, I made some changes to the color schemes as I went along to emphasize the X shapes. Card basket and chuck a luck (can’t stop saying that) were changed the most, to get rid of colors in the corners and to stick to only two reds.

My layout plan:

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The next step is to make all the blocks the same size.  They are between 10 and 11 inches now, so I’m going to get them all to 14″.  There will also be a red border of some kind. I have ideas in my head for that but nothing concrete yet.

There will be plenty of time to play with ideas today as I had to stay home to meet a plumber.  We are starting a kitchen remodel  and the first step was putting in windows – one to replace a door, and a garden window over the sink.  Where, it turns out, there is a pipe that is two inches too high and must be moved.  So for now, my kitchen looks like this:

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It lacks a certain appeal, doesn’t it.

As always, all of the blocks for the quilt have come from this book.  The plan is to eventually make them all for various quilts – that will be quite the stack of blankets if I achieve it.

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The previous X block posts can be found here.

 

 

Red and white: little triangles

Block 16 for the red and white quilt is the most ambitious: a multitude of little half square triangles, each finishing at 1 and a bit inches in a block called Birds in the Air.

I modified the block to enhance the X shape.  The original block:

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I used the 4-at-a-time HST sewing method, sewing the four sides of the squares before cutting them into quarters.  Many, many dog ears to trim!

And here is my finished block, all 64 HSTs of it:

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This is a 10 1/2″ block.  I can’t imagine making it with the measurements the book gives for the 5 1/4″ or 7″ versions!

You can see the previous blocks in these posts.