Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Catching Up, But Slowly

winterwoods

bed

project bag

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flowers

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squares

strips

bags

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Summer is here. It's hot and humid and I'm moving slowly. Everything feels damp. The cats sleep all the time.

Summer is good for cross-stitching. Sitting in front of the fan, coffee in the morning, lemonade in the afternoon. I'm finishing up my Winterwoods sampler that I started three years ago. I am not a very diligent stitcher. I really only want to do it when I'm stressed or on hot, lazy, summer afternoons. It just so happens that early summer is our busy time at work and I have been stressed out! It's a nice escape, this cross-stitch. Just x after x, filling in the spaces. No decisions, no schedule, no deadline...just x after tiny x.

Also, when I feel stressed, I like to finish up projects, get rid of things, organize my sewing room. I like that little bit of control, that accomplishment, however small. And so, I went through my last two scrap bins (green and pink/orange) and cut more 4.5" squares for my great grandma quilt. Cutting these squares makes lots of strips which I have been using in various ways. Strips smaller than 1.5" wide go in one bin, the larger strips go in another.

I also went through my fabric stash and pulled out every single fabric that isn't really "me" anymore. I still like them all, in one way or another...but they are the ones that just never seem to get used. So, I used them and it felt really good!

Most were fat quarters and I cut a 13" square out of each to use as backing for my quilt as you go log cabin blocks. The leftover strips went into their respective bins. Selvedges went into the selvedge bin.

Half yard cuts were turned into drawstring bags for gifts. Most of these were wintery fabrics that I'll use for holiday gifts this year.

Full yard cuts...well, I never got around to cutting these up because I just didn't know what to do with them. Market bags? Pillowcases? Quilt backs? Binding? I've set these aside for now.

One last bit of organization: I bought another project bag from Knottygnome Crafts because I need one of these bags for every knitting project I'm working on. They are THE perfect bags! Sara's next shop update is Monday, July 6 @9am EDT. I'm hoping for a Heather Ross strawberry print bag. I need one!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Orphan Block Project: Hilda's Blocks

Today's orphan blocks are from Hilda. Hilda is awesome! She mostly makes quilts for newly diagnosed diabetic children, newborn to teens. She accepts blocks and tops from other quilters and then finishes them to donate. What a lot of work! But what a great way to help these kids.

Hilda sent blocks that she made from gifted fabric...fabric that is way outside of what she usually uses. And when they were completed, they just didn't speak to her. So she sent them (and also some extra fabric) to me and I'm really happy she did.

Because, you see: these fabrics are way outside of what I usually use too. The blocks are lovely...I love the star pattern and the asterisks and the woven blocks...but the fabrics are just so not "me".

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And that's okay. I'm really enjoying discovering beauty in quilt blocks that are different from mine and appreciating the specialness of something someone else made.

I'm tempted to make a quilt with all these blocks together...they match so well and there's lots I could do with the extra fabric Hilda sent.

On the other hand, I'm tempted to try to turn these blocks into something more "me". Like, make similar blocks in different fabrics and try to make them "go" together? Or cut them up somehow? I don't really like the sound of that, though. Is it even possible to turn these blocks into something more "me"? Is that disrespectful to them? They clearly have a personality, a mood...should I enhance it or try to change it?

I feel it's more respectful to keep them as-is. Plus, there are lots of quilts I like that have a more subdued color pallet. But the challenge to make them seem different is appealing. What are your opinions on this?

Thank you for these blocks, Hilda! They are definitely giving me a lot to think about and adding quite a bit of fun to this project!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Orphan Block Project: Batik + Curves

While I was waiting for more orphan blocks to arrive, I decided to try out my curvy batik block idea. Lynda sent six of these blocks which will be more than enough to make an entire improv quilt top.

Lynda's Blocks for Orphan Block Project

I went through my stash to find solids that would look good with Lynda's bright fabrics. I found a few blues and also added grey for contrast. I was originally thinking about a super light blue background but I love the inspiration quilt so much that I decided to go with white.

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Lynda's blocks are rectangles with straight sides. I wanted the new blocks to have at least one curvy side so I removed one or two curves from each block and replaced them with a strip of the background fabric. The curves I removed will be sewn to a background fabric and will become new blocks/improv pieces.

This is my very first curved seam ever:

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I used this tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts and it worked like a charm!

Once I had the curves swapped out, I trimed the block to be square-ish and added background fabric to the other sides. The leftover pieces became smaller square blocks.

Here's where I left things...what do you think?

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Monday, June 15, 2015

The Orphan Block Project: Anna's Blocks

Today's blocks came from the lovely Anna. Anna loves bright and saturated colors, black and white included. She also owns a darling etsy shop where she sells some really neat quilts and pillow covers!

Anna sent a wide variety of blocks...Alturas blocks hand appliqued on linen:

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...fused applique:

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...traditional piecing (from her 16 patch quilt and Chevron and On quilt):

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...and freezer-paper pieced Polaris Stars:

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Really great blocks, right? I love that the blocks were all sewn with different techniques. So far, the variety of styles and techniques have exceeded my expectations. It's been fun to see how other people sew, what fabric they choose, what blocks and styles they like. I guess that was (obviously) going to be part of the fun but I didn't really think about that aspect until now.

Thank you Anna!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Orphan Block Project: Lynda's Blocks

The first orphan blocks I received for this project were from Lynda who lives in Washington (jealous!!). She has an enormous fabric stash (again, jealous!) and makes lots of quilts to keep, to give away and as shop samples for a quilt shop in Alaska.

Lynda likes to experiment with different styles and lately really likes more modern designs. She's not into 30's prints, fabric with food on it or darker prints but she does like to work with solids and batiks.

Lynda's block are really neat and all very different from each other. Two of her orphan blocks came from her Pezzy quilt:

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This one is her first attempt at piecing a star using leftovers. She thinks this one is a fail but I really like it!

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She even sent leftovers from the project she was working on that day. These batik triangles are really neat! I've always wanted to try something with triangles. I've never used batik in a quilt before so incorporating these will be a fun challenge.

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Lynda also sent six of these curved improv blocks. Can you believe that this is her first attempt at sewing curves? Can you believe that she sent them to ME?

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I just have to take a moment to say this: I truly feel that when someone makes something for the first time, that thing is as special as a unicorn. I mean, that thing represents the first time someone tried a new technique or worked in a different medium. That's such an amazing thing! And to be the recipient of that special something is a great honor. That is how I feel when I look at these blocks: honored.

Lynda had planned to cut these blocks into strips to make a pick up stick quilt but then got busy with other projects. I can totally relate.

After pondering these curvy blocks this week, I think I'd like to put them together in an improv style quilt, something like this maybe. But with curves...somehow. I've never tried sewing curves before but I'm inspired by Lynda to try.

I'm not sure what I'll do with the other blocks yet. I'm waiting until I get a few more packages in the mail. Then I'll have lots of blocks and can see how they all inspire me. Thank you again, Lynda!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Orphan Block Project: Generosity

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When I'm feeling sad or overwhelmed, there are two things that consistently help me feel better: give generously and appreciate the generosity of others.

I know it sounds sappy but it's true. I'm not the only one to know this...it's a real thing!

We all feel overwhelmed, sad, alone, not good enough, listless, discouraged...and I'm telling you, generosity will help with all these things. The moment you start thinking of others, of giving (time, money, support, items, anything!), you stop focusing on yourself, your hardships and faults. Your world gets a little bigger, you gain perspective. Suddenly your troubles are not so overwhelming. You're not quite so hard on yourself.

Generosity alone can't fix everything, but it can change how you feel about your circumstances, how you feel about yourself. And it can change the lives of other people in very real and important ways.

And when people act generously towards us, and we accept their generosity, our lives can change in real and important ways.

I have been both sad and overwhelmed lately. And I wanted to do something about it (although wallowing for a while did feel nice...for a while). And so I turned to you, my lovely friends in blogland. And I asked for your help, for your generosity. I asked if you would send me your orphan blocks and you said yes.

The blocks I've received so far are beautiful and unique. Each block has patched up a tiny part of myself that I couldn't fix for myself. That is the true magic of generosity!

I'm just getting started on ideas for these quilts. Each block inspires me differently and I'm going to let them lead me to a design. Once finished, I would like to pass these quilts along to someone who will love them and appreciate them...to give them generously with an open heart. A patchwork quilt for someone who needs a little patching up.

I'm still accepting orphan blocks so if you have any you can spare, comment or email me and I'll let you know where you can send them. Also, if you don't have any orphan blocks but you would like to make blocks to send, that would be awesome too.

I'll start sharing the blocks I've received tomorrow. This is going to be fun. And again, thank you!

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Teeny Bit of Help?

So, I have this idea and I want to ask for your help.

Backing up just a bit...I've been feeling a little disconnected lately. What I've really been missing is an online community...the people I used to "see" all the time online, the ideas we'd bounce off each other, the endless discussions about quilts and fabric.

I know there are real life quilt guilds and instagram and I do feel the siren song sometimes. But for the most part, I'm just not there yet. I still like to hang out on my blog and visit other people's blogs. To me, they feel like home, like going to visit a friend and settling in on the couch for a chat with a quilt and a cup of tea. It's just a nice place to be, a nice place to sit and talk. It's about more than just posting a picture really quickly and moving on to the next thing...it's about being in a space with another person for a while, just being here and sharing our lives.

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So, I had this idea. If you quilt, you probably have orphan blocks stashed somewhere. You know the ones I'm talking about...the one that didn't turn out quite the right size or the contrast/colors didn't quite work, or (if you're like me) the blocks you started to make because this was going to be OMG, the most special-ist quilt ever but then you made, like, two blocks and gave up or moved on to something else?

I have a few of those blocks...not enough to do anything with, too pretty to throw away. On their own, they don't amount to anything. But what if you had some of those blocks and what if you wanted to add them to my blocks? Then we would have enough for an entire quilt. Something whole, something that meant something.

The orphan block quilt idea isn't new...but my asking you, my dear readers, is. I don't often reach out, I don't like asking for help. But I just feel like I have to do something to reconnect. Just a little something. And this feels like a good place to start.

If you have orphan blocks of any kind, any shape, size, color or style and if you're feeling generous (or maybe you just want them out of your sewing room so you can stop feeling bad about them)...would you consider sending them to me? I'm not sure what kind of quilt I'd make or what will happen to the quilt in the end...I haven't really gotten that far in my plan yet. But I promise that I will turn them into a quilt and I will find that quilt a good home.

I'd also like to post pictures of your blocks and link to your blog (or instagram or pintrest or whatever) and talk a little bit about you here on my blog. Sort of all get to know each other again. Unless you wouldn't want that...it would be up to you.

Anyway, if you're at all interested, leave a comment or email me and I'll let you know where to send the blocks.

I know this is a long shot and maybe no one will want to send blocks. But either way, I know that people still read my blog and that means the world to me. So...thank you for that.