Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Escher Quilt - Progress Made

I've taken the Escher class at my local quilt shop, and now I'm working my way through the blocks.  The kit I bought was Kaffe Fassett fabric, all gorgeous prints and bright colors.

The pattern has three 'elevations' with a light, medium and dark value of each fabric giving the appearance of light coming into the quilt  from above, once the blocks are sewn together.

Since I started to work at the quilt shop, I have cut portions of fabric for at least a dozen of these kits.  Sometimes deciding what was medium or dark was easy.  Sometimes the values were relative to the print being used.

The kit could be done with only three fabrics and a center color, or it could be done with six fabrics or nine, or as my kit was made up, with 24 fabrics.

I bought the kit so I wouldn't have to think about the color choices, and I'm sure I will love it, but getting myself organized to sew was a bit of a challenge.

First we made a chart, and laid out all the fabrics, from one to eight down, and L/M/D across.  After cutting, we needed to then pair up the pieces according to the chart.  Each piece has a light, a medium, and a dark bar, but they're different depending upon their relative location in the row.

All I can say is that the quilt designer Chris is probably a genius.

Never in a million years would I have had the patience to figure out what each one of those blocks should look like!

That said, once I got organized and figured out what was required, the sewing was actually quite simple.  Picture a triangular log cabin block.  Think partial seams.  Easy peasy!

These are blocks A,C,E,G,I,K and M, top to bottom.  Aren't they gorgeous?  Ok, so they have some strings hanging, and they need their little dog ears trimmed.   But I'm now one group short of halfway finished.

If you're doing this block without pressing between steps, beware!  Pressing makes things fit better.  Also using some starch alternative in the final pressing helps the seams go the way they're supposed to go and stay there.  That will be important as the columns are built.

This is turning out to be one of the more fun patterns I've done thus far.  It's a challenge but it will be really cool when it's done.

if you want to see the pattern or get a kit you have to go to the Quilt-agious website here:

and check the class list for the Escher class.  If you're within a gazillion miles of the shop, taking the class is worth it, in my humble opinion, and not just because I work there.  You will enjoy the class itself, and you'll be able to impress your friends with your amazing talent with very little risk.  <wink wink> 

Next week I have the privilege of attending my last Water conference (ever) for my day job.  It's in Las Vegas NV where rumor has it the temperature is over 100 degrees F on a daily basis.  Not my thing, but the hotels I'll be in will be air conditioned, probably to the extreme.

I don't plan on spending any extra time there, so even if there is a fabric store or quilt shop anywhere in the 100 mile area, I won't be going there.  Guess I'll just have to order something slightly flashy from some quilt catalog and call it even.  Or buy another kit the next time I work at my own local quilt shop, in memory of my trip!

Hmmmm.  Wonder if Penny has any poker chip fabric in stock???


Sew on...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Sewing Room Stay-Cation

Last week, after a four day sojourn in North Carolina I took a stay-cation day on Friday.  I had big plans to spend the day in my sewing room.  It was pretty much a disaster after about six or seven weeks of benign neglect. 

That and the fact that stuff got moved back and forth by the Hubster when the delivery guy came with water for the softener.  He has to walk through the kitchen, down the stairs and through my resource center with 80 pound bags slung over his shoulder, so DH kindly removes all obstacles from his path.

not my delivery guy... but close!
I decided to start straightening up so I could find my sewing machine and do something constructive.  Ha. That is an endless task!  And if I wasn't distracted by the 'squirrels' (have you seen the dog in the movie "UP"?) -- well, not squirrels exactly, more like fat quarters and yardage, I was pulled down the rabbit hole of stacks of quilt magazines and patterns.  So on Friday I only cleared the ironing board and the top of the drier.  But I did actually uncover the sewing machine!

I discovered some fabric I'd forgotten I had; that never happens to anyone else, right?  And I came across a big box of small scraps that were intended for a major trimming session.  Ummm, did I say A box?  Crazy, what I save!  But these scraps will come in handy the next time our group does string blocks.  I'll consolidate and eventually I'm sure I'll have a bushel  uh, couple of five gallon buckets full.

I did manage to sew after a bit.  I needed a break from cleaning.  I dug around enough in the cleaning process to locate a fabric that was an adequate match for something in a kit I had started, and finished up a quilt called Tam's Patch.  It's small, a crib sized at most, but I really liked the color combination.  The small print is cherries with green leaves on tan and white.  It's much cuter up close!

I was this close to the end of the seam on the final piece of border when I had the brilliant idea to check the amount of the thread I had left on the spool... 

Fumes!!  Luckily, it was enough to finish the seam, with THIS MUCH left over!

After I clipped all the threads and finished pressing, I decided to quit while I was ahead.  It was late anyway, and I don't do my best work after 10 p.m.  In fact, I was amazed that I had stayed up that late.
More sewing occurred over the weekend, but that's a story for another day.
Sew on...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Southern Food

While I spent a fair amount of time in North Carolina actually working (in the office!  Gasp!!) there were some evenings spent at nice restaurants eating great meals.

The last time I was here, I was taken to a restaurant called The Terrace and they told me I had to have the Red Velvet waffle and chicken.  It comes with a cream cheese drizzle to simulate the Red Velvet cake.  It. Was. Awesome.  So of course there had to be a repeat.

OMG that lunch is SOOOO good... the mix of sweet and crunchy is wonderful and I can see why people love it.  I had that for lunch today!  My stomach was very happy.

For dinner last night I went to a very nice Chinese restaurant and had my all time favorite, beef & broccoli.  Also awesome.

And the restaurant was very pretty inside. 


Yesterday I had a healthy day, spinach salad for lunch and then of course the broccoli for dinner.  Good thing too, because here at the hotel they provide free breakfast and dinner.  And for dinner tonight??? 

What else??

I did have a side of fruit.  I need to take a walk around the block.  Or seven.

Sew on, y'all...

Friday, May 18, 2018

Sunny Weather and Warm Days

Where are they?  Yes, this is Wisconsin, so sometimes a sunny day means the temperature is a bit on the low side.

Yesterday I was working in my home office and we had opened the window, but there was a good stiff breeze blowing and by the time I'd been working for an hour I had added to my wardrobe a pair of socks, a pair of slippers, a sweater and a long sleeved shirt traded out for the short sleeved one I had put on when I got up.

No fair, Mother Nature!

Next week I have to go to Charlotte NC again for one last training session with my successor.  She's doing a great job.  It will be good to be in one room and not on the phone and sharing computer screens.

But it's warm there... last week it was in the 80s.  I'm a Midwestern girl, not used to the balminess of all of that heat and humidity.  Yesterday someone said to me "well at least it's not SOUTH Carolina, it's REALLY hot there!" 

Newsflash, it's hot in NC too.  Just because the state is named NORTH, that doesn't mean it's any cooler.  LOL!

Today's tasks are to pick up a piece of wide quilt backing for a project, and also to make some small makeup bags to take out to Charlotte for the ladies with whom I have been working.  That should not take too long, if I can just get down to the sewing room!

My favorite bags to make are the ones in the Mary Mulari book Travel Gear Made Easy.  You can find it here if you want to order a copy:  Mary Mulary's Website

Of course there are many patterns available if you want purses, totes, fancy bags of all sorts.  I find Mary's directions so clear and easy to follow, I rarely venture past what is in that book.

I would post pictures but I've given them all away, except for the ones in my own purse, and they're getting a little shabby.

Time to get to work... I'm getting "the look" from the Boss!

Sew on...

Monday, May 14, 2018

Monday, Yay! Maybe...

For the next two months I'm going to try to take some vacation days before I'm done working for good, at least at the day job.  However, that plan immediately had a monkey wrench tossed into it, and not the good kind...

Well, not a BAD kind either, but you know what they say about the best laid plans, right?  So today is a vacation day, but next Monday I have to go to North Carolina for one more week of training my successor.  I hope it's nice there, and not the 85 degrees they supposedly were having last week.  My boss loves to tease us Midwesterners about how nice it is out there when we're having winter.  :-(

On Saturday evening I went into the sewing room to work on a project.  On the way down I grabbed my potholders to give them a soak in the laundry room.  They were looking a little shabby.  After they washed and dried, and I still hadn't really done any sewing, I decided I'd bind them.  I've been using them for about 15 years but they just had serged edges.  I took out my bin of all those small, leftover pieces of binding that I've been saving and found enough to finish all the edges.  They don't look 'new' but they'll last another 15 years, I hope.  Some of them were pieces of fabric and some were orphan blocks. 

I felt very virtuous.  One project done.  Of course it was not on my UFO list, so once again, distracted by 'shiny stuff'...  LOL!

Today the plan was to finish my bookkeeping for April for church, start on May, and maybe make a couple of phone calls.  So the first thing I actually did this morning was drive over to the car place to pick up DH, who had to drop his car off for service.  He could have walked home because it's close but it was raining.

I said I'd meet him there at 8:00 a.m.  I was on the way, and at 8:01 my phone rang. 

DH:  Did you forget about me?
Me:  I'm on my way.  Have you no patience???

I pulled up at 8:03. 

Me:  You don't call looking for someone at 8:01!  No one is late at 8:01!  At 8:10 maybe!
DH:  Sorry...


I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day, either spent some time with your own mom if she's close, or with your kids if you have them.  My mom passed away in 1998 but I have an aunt to whom I am very close, and I wished her happy Mother's Day on Facebook.  She said "that was a nice surprise!"  She has her own kids, but she's such a wonderful person I had to send her that message.

My daughter took me to lunch with her girls.  Well, I drove but she paid...  we went for Chinese which is a favorite of ours but not so much the guys.  They stayed home.  That's fine, it makes a table of four, and we enjoyed the buffet.

 Then we hopped over to GoFresh and had some yummy frozen yogurt.  The girls like to go there
 for the toppings I think!  Miss A had so many that I couldn't even see the yogurt.

I had vanilla yogurt and mango sorbet.  They had these little beads of juice they called something other than berries but I forget what, and I picked both the mango and the kiwi.  Then we came home just in time for me to take a nice little nap while DH was watching a golf tournament.
I saw these mushrooms growing in the grass of the church parking lot.  They looked so cute I had to take a picture.  DH says he isn't sure what kind they are but he is not sure they're edible.  I wasted about an hour searching the internet for pictures of mushrooms to try to identify it.  The closest I got was to something called a Glittering Inkpot, which the sites said was edible but it does something gross if you don't eat them almost immediately - they sort of melt down into inky black goo.  Thank you but no.  If I want mushrooms I'll get them from the grocery store!
Here's to a wonderful week!

Sew on... 

Friday, May 11, 2018

My Love Affair with Kaffe Fassett (Designs, that is!)

I started this post about two weeks ago, and got distracted by shiny stuff... or fabric or something.

The days until I retire from my full time job are just flying by!  Training a new person is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time, and I've got my fingers in so many other pots, it's a good think I have a calendar that reminds me where I should be!

I signed up for the Kaffe Fassett Collective Mystery Quilt, did you?  Evidently a bunch of folks did, there are even 'support' groups on Facebook and maybe Instragram! 

In case you didn't know, Kaffe Fassett started his design life as a knitter, and that's where I first 'met' him.  His eye for color, his philosophy of the more the merrier, was right in my wheelhouse.  Then he branched into fabric with stunning results.

This mystery quilt features the kinds of prints shown below.  When I got the box in late March or early April (ten free fat quarters??  Oh boy, oh boy!!) I was in love again.

My first block (actually 8 blocks) are below.  I chose the dark kit.  They offered dark or light at first, then added a pastel.  Pastels and I do not have a long-standing relationship...

Block three in May is the same block but different colors.

Evidently I deleted my picture of Block two.  It's a 35 patch, mine are green and black. 

Block two was a near thing, and reminded me of something vital:  Check your seam allowance!!  I sewed all the strips together on my Babylock, assuming the foot I was using was accurate.  Turned out it had a small metal bar that had gotten a bit out of alignment, and my 8 inch block was only 7 1/2 inches!  Sew I got some practice frog-stitching to use a knitter term... rip-it, rip-it!

Never assume anything, right? 

The most recent book purchase I made was this one... and I'm looking forward to making some pillows to go with my future quilt.

Oh, and did I mention I bought a bit more fabric??  Photos borrowed shamelessly from the 'design wall' of the website where I purchased them...

OMG don't you love them?  Of course I picked up a few, umm  several, yards at my local quilt shop too.  I wish I had a week to spend in the sewing room!

What are you working on?  Whatever it is, enjoy it.

Sew on...

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Quilters and Math

Remember back when you were in high school, and you had to take that algebra class, and everyone said "Why??? We're NEVER GOING TO USE THIS IN REAL LIFE!!"

Guess again!

As quilters, we know there's math.  And it's in cooking, and shopping, and lots of other places too.

Soapbox Moment:  We need to inspire our children, both genders of them, to embrace math.  Figure it out, my mother was always saying to me!  Double a cookie recipe, buy materials for a project, you need to do it!!

Last week at the quilt shop, I helped several shoppers figure out how much fabric they required for borders and backings.  There is very little that's worse than coming up a few inches short on either of those items and not being able to buy what you're missing.  Ask me how I know this!

There are many ways to piece your quilt backs.  You can Google it or find it on YouTube, or ask at your own local quilt shop.  I've seen little wallet cards that help calculate how much you require for any sized quilt.  Of course extra-wide fabrics are nice, but not all shops carry them.  (Hint, you still have to do math to figure out the length.)

I like the method where you do a diagonal slice to make your extra-long backing piece into a shorter, wider, more useable size. I saw it demonstrated on Fons & Porter, but the formula and all the math are from either John Flynn or Ginny Beyer, depending upon whose web site you read.  There's a worksheet from Ginny Beyer that is free here:

There is a good YouTube video here although it sure isn't the only one available!

Embrace the math!!  Don't be intimidated,  no need to stress out.  Learn to piece backs with the same flair that you do your flimsies.  Create interest with those leftover blocks, create columns, be off center!  You can do it!  When all else fails, buy a calculator or use the one on your phone.

Sew on...