Scandibee August quilt for me

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Quilt mockup 2015-08-09

Since August is my month as Queen Bee of Scandibee, I thought I’d present to you the project I have in mind. I’ve worked on my own blocks for a while now, and only two days ago received the first blocks in the mail, a very exciting event indeed! Somehow amidst planning of the quilt and working on posting fabric photos for the ladies I had managed to forget that I’ll also be receiving pretty things from them!

From the quilt mock-up above you can see that there’s a rainbow, but I’d love to talk a bit more about my thoughts behind choosing this particular pattern. First of all, you can make your own quilt like this using the Starflower block tutorial by Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane.

I’ve made the slight alteration to ask for low-volume fabrics for the background with a fairly even colour distribution (nothing overly black popping up all of a sudden here and there), which would be easier considering the white fabrics in the different stashes most certainly would vary quite a bit. Also, the starflower rainbow colours should preferably be tone-on-tone to create as “flat” a look as in my mock-up above. The good news is of course that you only need one set of each colour, since half-square triangles work to produce double the amount of units for each triangle set, so to speak. In other words, I’ve told them not to make two different blocks this time, but to send similar blocks. It is a rather particular request after all to be as specific as tone-on-tone only.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Block 2015-08-09   Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Block assembly 2015-08-09

I also asked to put pink in between purple and red, since that’s where I believe it should go in the rainbow. It’s no huge harm done, however, if someone were to place it between red and orange.

The beauty of half-square triangles (HSTs) is that they are quite quick to make. If you have a larger table around your sewing machine, there’s a nifty trick you can use, which involves masking tape and three lines drawn on it a quarter inch apart, but my sewing machine doesn’t come with such an extension table. What I did, however, was to chain piece.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Chain piecing 2015-08-09

I prefer to have the drawn diagonal move along the right edge of the presser foot as were it the edge of the fabric. To make chain piecing happen, I therefore sew all HST sets on one side first, leaving that little string of thread between each, then turn the stack around so that the diagonal is still on the right side of the presser foot.

Were I to use the masking-tape trick, I’d do the same kind of chain piecing then, rather than clip threads between each HST set, and in fact I’d only need two lines, the centre line (to line the tape up correctly with the needle) and another one a quarter inch to the right of it (to move the diagonal along).

And finally, here are a couple of photos of my progress on my own blocks. I have to make eight blocks altogether, since I get 11×2 blocks from the ladies, and so far I’ve cut for six blocks.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Fabrics 2015-08-09

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Starflowers 2015-08-09

I think tone-on-tone fabrics are magical somehow. Some people seem to dismiss them as boring, but look what you can achieve with them; a subtle movement and interest despite the colour itself being rather even. Don’t get me wrong, I love patterned fabrics with huge motifs and lots of different colours, but they have great limitations when you want to make a certain type of work in the spirit of solids without choosing actual solid-coloured fabrics. In other words, I’m really excited about this quilt!

Tokyo Subway Map QAL

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500px

Hello everyone, I have a happy announcement to make! I’ve decided to host a quilt-along starting in September and progressing at a weekly pace until New Year’s. What’s the pattern in question, you ask? Tokyo Subway Map Quilt by Elizabeth Hartman, of course! It’s been in the making for such a long time already, but scraps don’t seem to get cut at all, even though I have this fine system of keeping track of them, so I’m starting from scratch.

If you don’t have the pattern yet, you can find it in her shop, although I’ll be using the pattern I have from her original quilt-along blog posts. This pattern allows for only one size to be made, but the expanded version for sale now includes a few different sizes. No matter which one you choose, you can still join in, as the amount of patches will be the same.

The picture above doubles as the quilt-along button, which you’re welcome to grab and put on your blog for quick access. It’s 500 px wide, so you can resize it to whatever size works for your blog template. I’ve made a page to corral all posts related to the QAL, so please link to it directly. You can find it in the Quilt-Alongs drop-down menu, too.

The thinking-out-loud half-official announcement I made some days ago on Instagram included the schedule I’ve worked out for us, but please see it as a general guideline only. I know some people have already moved on from cutting to sewing blocks, yet haven’t finished all of them, and everyone is welcome no matter where they are in the process.

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL schedule on IG 2015-08-08

It’s just a teaser to visually convey the subway-line colours, but I’ll share a proper schedule once we begin. The point was to communicate that there will be room for other projects simultaneously, since this is a rather large undertaking, and participants might have swap quilts, end-of-year gifts, and other on-going stuff to make.

Cutting of scraps is also more laborious than when dealing with neat yardage, so while eight weeks for this first stage may seem excessive, I’d rather have us finish sooner than expected, than archive this into yet another work-in-progress box.

I think I used the expression “reasonable speed” on Instagram and this includes the sewing stage. If we get approximately two blocks done per week out of 25, we could finish the quilt top somewhere around New Year’s Eve. Not too shabby!

To wrap things up, I’ll remind you that there’s already an existing hashtag on Instagram for this quilt, #TokyoSubwayMapQuilt, so let’s use that one.

So what do you say? Are you in? I think it’s going to be such a wonderful project to deal with some of those scraps we seem to be producing constantly!

Scandibee July blocks

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee July blocks 2015-08-05

July Queen Bee of Scandibee, Nina aka bossyoz, asked for two houses for Scandibee Road. I immediately jumped at the chance to try two house patterns already in my collection, namely Dwell by Camille Roskelley in her Simply Retro book, and one of the houses in Johanna Masko’s Houses wall-hanging quilt.

The Dwell block finishes at 9” x 12”, so I had to add borders. If you look closely at the original pattern, you’ll see how I have chopped off some of the house. The block didn’t look nice enough with grass only on the sides, so the rotary cutter got to sing unexpectedly. Nina encouraged us to put stuff in windows and add other quirky details, so I wrote a little story about my Dwell-based house, with a fancy lady collecting watches in her sitting room, whilst the cook was baking in the kitchen. And the Snowy background gave the name for my block, The First Snow. The red/white house and door colour is a nod to a Nordic tradition of painting cottages and such red with white corners.

The second block I made has no name, but the story goes such that there’s a minimalist family living in the house. Perhaps the father is dealing with a stressful situation with kids and barking dog and the whole suburban experience by trimming his lawn each evening. You see, Nina commented on how neat everything looks behind the row of trees, also planted in organised manner.

Anyway, construction of each block was interesting, and I learned new things in particular when making the second block, more specifically its paper-pieced section. It contains parts that need to be constructed before adding to the rest – which I hadn’t done of course – and so I had to rip a few seams, cut the template into sections, and start again. Very interesting indeed. These situations arise when one doesn’t read instructions properly… *eyeroll*

I have to give myself some positive feedback, too, to counteract the negative. The Houses quilt is a continuous pattern, but I decided to copy only a part of it, then start tweaking away. The only thing I knew when starting out was that I wanted this house to be in the middle of my block, but the rest was improvisation. I recall when making the first cuts back in the day with my rotary cutter, completely freaked out that I’d mess stuff up somehow, but now I’m happily chopping here and there without much worry.

Not only did I think of fabric as being more holy somehow, but I also was a bit reluctant to cut into my pretties. So there’s happened a clear development for the better in both how I view the materials and how I fearlessly try new things. I can’t say the latter about myself in all other areas of life, but oftentimes I notice rings over the water at some later point in time. Waltzing outside of the comfort zone is good.

Another conclusion I keep arriving at whenever I sew with the help of paper is how FPP is such a nice technique for me to use whilst I have the silly sewing machine I can’t trust completely to sew accurate seam allowances. Because FPP is about creating said accurate seam allowance only after you’ve already sewn the seam! So nifty.

I was very late at sending Nina her blocks, only a couple of minutes before the postman emptying the box for evening mail, and so I didn’t have time to throw in some extra fabric. I have something for her cooking, though.

So, you and houses? Have you seen how popular they are currently? They come in all shapes and sizes!

Simplicity – Block 10 Stripes

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes main 2015-08-03

NM Patterns - Simplicity blog button 2015-05-18Oh wow, this was a challenging one! And hello, happy Monday, too :) Welcome to the tenth block, Stripes, of the Simplicity quilt. I realise I’ve forgotten to mention in quite a few posts the hashtags you can use for instance on Instagram, #simplicityquilt and #simplicityquiltalong.

We have just stepped into August, which means there are only two more blocks after this one, but first let’s look at the graphic version of Stripes.

Nina With Freckles - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes graphic 2015-08-03

The reason I picked two green hues and orange is once again the colour wheel, this time two secondary colours. Also, orange happens to pop more than violet does, when paired with green. But make it your own!

Cutting pieces

Instead of cutting a lot of thin strips from a larger piece, I started by cutting a rectangle for each set of green stripes, then subcutting it further into strips.

If you wish to do that, cut as follows:

  • Vertical stripes (dark green): One (1) piece 10.5” x 8.5”
  • Background (light green): One (1) piece 9” x 8.5”

For the block, eventually you will need:

  • Background (light green):
    • From the above cut 9” x 8.5” rectangle:
      • Two (2) pieces 1.5” x 8.5”
      • Six (6) pieces 1” x 8.5”
    • For top and bottom borders:
      • Two (2) pieces 12.5” x 2.5”
  • Vertical stripes (dark green):
    • From the above cut 10.5” x 8.5” rectangle:
      • Seven (7) pieces 1.5” x 8.5”
  • Horizontal stripe (orange):
    • One (1) piece 1” x 12.5”

If you’re using directional prints, please recall that the first length of a piece is the width on the x axis (horizontal), whereas the second one is on the y axis (vertical). If print direction doesn’t matter, as usual, go ahead and cut however is the most logical in relation to your fabric.

Now we sew. I kept saying that a few times when constructing the block, so I thought I’d share this with you, too. Sharing is caring as they say.

Block construction

The block is constructed in a few steps, and there are several chain piecing opportunities. The only hickup at first could be regarding the left and right background borders of slightly wider size, but otherwise it’s sort of about pairing dark greens with light greens. Sew with a quarter-inch seam allowance.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes construction 2015-08-03

Construction steps:

  1. Sew the whole mid-section of pieces together, press all seams in one direction. Chain piecing works beautifully here.
  2. Cut through the middle of the panel. It is 8.5” tall, meaning the halfway point is at 4.25”.
  3. Sew the orange stripe in place. It helps if you run the seam allowances as suggested in piecing tips mentioned in earlier block blog posts, pointing away from the feed dogs. When sewing one seam, you will therefore have the orange piece on top, whereas for the other seam, it will be at the bottom, closer to the feed dogs. There’s relatively much bulk in the stripe panel and so it makes sense to press both newly sewn seams toward the orange.
  4. Sew the top and bottom borders of background fabric in place, and press as above, away from the bulk, toward the border.

Press the block and admire your work.

The finished block

This Stripes block of Simplicity has been yet another example for me to pay proper attention to. While the look is smashing, a bit like Fibonacci earlier, the thin pieces are no walk in the park to deal with. As a result, my block is a bit crooked, but who cares. We are here to learn new things, including what doesn’t work for us to include in the future. I still like my block, though!

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes finished 2015-08-03

Are there some questions or comments perhaps? How has the speed of posting blocks this summer been for you? Happy striping!

Thimble Blossoms Mini Quilt Swap

Kristi sugarndspice77 - Thimble Blossoms Mini Quilt Swap 2015-07-31

Swapping mini quilts seems like an appealing thought right now and, after having signed up for the (now closed) SewMyStash2015 Mini Quilt Swap, I decided to go ahead with another swap, due to its beautiful theme, the Thimble Blossoms patterns.

This Instagram swap is hosted by Kristi @sugarndspice77 and it is the second time already that the popular Thimble Blossoms patterns are used. The deadline for shipping internationally is February 2015, which leaves long enough a gap between the SewMyStash swap deadline in early October and this one.

The hashtag for this swap is #tbmqs2, but I’ll put up a button in the side column for quick access, should you want to look at what people create. I’ve already been assigned a team, #tbteamdarling, and my inspiration mosaic for the secret swap partner is this:

Nina With Freckles - Thimble Blossoms Mini Quilt Swap - Inspiration mosaic for partner 2015-07-31 625px

Clockwise from the upper left corner, the makers are: Camille Roskelley @thimbleblossoms, Jade @stitchmischief, Mary @classicquilter, and @mommy2lu.

Unfortunately, Instagram is very difficult to search through, and when scrolling down a page, at times it gets eternally stuck in the loading mode, so to link to a particular photo is ridiculously challenging. Suffice to say, I do my best to give proper credit where it is due.

If you’re interested in swapping smaller projects, there is something going on all the time with new swaps announced on a weekly basis it seems. Follow people and search for the most obvious hashtags, so you won’t miss out but can join in the fun!

Farmer’s Wife 1930s QAL

Laurie Aaron Hird - The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt

Thursday links today is a bunch of them related to a single, exciting project! Kerry of verykerryberry wrote a book review the other day of “The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt” by Laurie Aaron Hird, and it looks so delicious! Kerry has now announced a quilt-along (QAL) starting in September and lasting approximately a year. There will be two blocks announced per week, one by Kerry herself and the other by a guest blogger. The hashtag for the QAL is #fw1930sqal.

verykerryberry - FW1930sQAL

Since I don’t have this book yet, I went ahead and ordered it from The Book Depository, which has free worldwide shipping. The price was also lower than that on Amazon, and since the book contains printable templates for foundation paper piecing on a cd, it isn’t available in Kindle format.

So will you join? With its 99 blocks, it’s a long project of course, but my hypothesis is that I need structure in the shape of regular progress, or I just float a bit aimlessly through my craft projects. Also, I won’t be using reproduction fabrics, but I’ll go ahead with a custom Kona palette instead, to make it more my own quilt.

Simplicity – Block 9 Opposites Attract

Nina With Freckles - Simplicity - Block 9 Opposites Attract main 2015-07-28

NM Patterns - Simplicity blog button 2015-05-18First of all, I’m sorry about the delay by two days! Usually, I sew the block during the weekend, and write the post on Monday, then publish immediately, but migraines suck. As for the photo above, I want to say that the block is straight whereas the photographer apparently held the camera at a small angle…

Without further ado, let’s look at the ninth block of Simplicity, Opposites Attract. It’s the second, and last, block in greyscale, as you can see from the graphic version of it:

Nina With Freckles - Simplicity - Block 9 Opposites Attract graphic 2015-07-28

The original idea was to pick white, black, and a grey from somewhere in the middle, but that would work with solids only, all of which I don’t have at hand currently. Here’s a chance to play with monochrome once again, or opposite hues on the colour wheel, or something entirely different!

Cutting pieces

There aren’t many pieces to cut for this block! Another reason for the delay was, and I have to admit this, a really ridiculous splitting up of the background. When trying to figure out the piece sizes yesterday, I had to stop myself and ask why on earth it was so complicated, since the block design is symmetrical. So I scratched the original layout and began from square one.

When checking the border sizes, I noticed an error as well. If you look closely at the original design, you’ll see that the left border is slightly wider than the right one. Back to the drawing board… I’m mentioning this to say that there are huge advantages to learning one of all the vector programmes out there, because they come with built-in size calculators and other tools, so instead of drawing by hand, calculating (unnecessarily) manually, and so on, I see immediately the size of a drawn element and can correct then and there. But on to cutting!

  • Background (grey):
    • Two (2) pieces 12.5” x 2.25”
    • Two (2) pieces 2.25” x 9”
    • Two (2) pieces 3” x 4”
    • Two (2) pieces 1.5” x 3”
    • One (1) piece 4” x 4”
  • White:
    • One (1) piece 3” x 5.5”
    • One (1) piece 3” x 3”
  • Black:
    • One (1) piece 3” x 5.5”
    • One (1) piece 3” x 3”

If you’re using directional prints, please recall that the first length of a piece is the width on the x axis (horizontal), whereas the second one is on the y axis (vertical). If print direction doesn’t matter, as usual, go ahead and cut however is the most logical in relation to your fabric.

You could cut a width-of-fabric strip 2.25” wide, then sub-cut into the “frame” of the background, as long as the fabric is at least 43” wide, but please note that some quilting cottons are only 42” wide.

And if you, like me, are fighting with a quarter-inch presser foot that is tricky to use, feel free to cut the background frame at 2.5” rather than 2.25”, so there’s room to trim the final block down to a 12.5” square. (This applies to most blocks before this one, I should add.)

Block construction

Making Opposites Attract is straight-forward, so let’s look at the diagramme.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 9 Opposites Attract construction 2015-07-29

Please click on the diagramme for a larger version, if you need that.

The seam allowance is a quarter inch as usual. Quite a few steps you can chain piece, should you so desire, but make sure to lay out all the pieces in their final positions, so you don’t get confused about what goes where. If you want to piece in order, stick to the numbered diagramme, and press all seams open as you go.

The finished block

Here’s my finished Opposites Attract block. It was very easy and quick to make, compared to earlier blocks with lots of pieces, not to mention last week’s inset quarter-circle block.

Nina With Freckles - Simplicity - Block 9 Opposites Attract finished 2015-07-28

I think it could make a very nice quilt on its own accord, wouldn’t you agree?

WordPress tutorial series – Part 3 The size of blog photos

Nina With Freckles - WordPress tutorial series 3 2015-07-25

It’s time for the third tutorial in the WordPress series of little, nifty tricks. Today we’ll talk about the size of blog photos in relation to the blog template.

You may have noticed that I used collage photos in my Block 8 IQCB tutorial, which were clickable. The width of the blog template I’m using allows for 625 px wide pictures and photos to be displayed, but not wider than this. And since each collage photo was relevant, I wanted everyone to be able to see closer what was going on, so the solution was to make a live link out of them, to be opened in a new browser tab for closer inspection. (See part 1 in this WordPress tutorial series for the meaning of live links in this context.) Then you would find a 1000-px wide collage.

So how do you find out the width of pictures allowed by your template? Let’s look at an example, a kitty photo found on Flickr in the public domain (I can’t bring myself not to link to the source). I downloaded the “large” size of it, which is 2048 px wide.

When adding media, before inserting the photo into the blog post, I see the following:

Nina With Freckles - WordPress tutorial series - Blog photo size 1 2015-07-25

The template suggests the Size “Large” and tells me that the width will be 625 px. This happens as default each time I upload a photo, and it is the maximum width of graphic material that I can add. Wider than 625 px will still show as 625 px.

When I click on the drop-down menu, I will see this:

Nina With Freckles - WordPress tutorial series - Blog photo size 2 2015-07-25

The original size is called Full Size in this case, 2048 px.

Since my blog template won’t allow me to upload for viewing anything wider than 625 px, I usually resize everything to keep the space used smaller (and keep the original, too). I’m far from maxed out regarding storage space still, but stuff will also load quicker at the reader’s end, when photos aren’t humongous (I think, but please correct me if I’m wrong here!).

So what happens when I choose to upload Full Size, yet don’t make a live link (Link To: None)? This:

Flickr José Angel de la Banda - Classy 2048 px

And when I choose Full Size as well as Link To: Media File:

Flickr José Angel de la Banda - Classy 2048 px

Thinking back to the Block 8 IQCB earlier, the options will give you the possibility to display close-ups if necessary. I hope you see my train of thought here? Please ask if I didn’t express myself clearly enough, and I’ll try again!

* * * * *

Earlier in the series:

My monthly challenge posts

Nina With Freckles - Challenge musings 2015-07-24

I’ve been thinking. (Oh no, no need to expect greatness just yet, but merely some general musing.) Lately, I haven’t felt like posting the monthly lists of projects to finish or bring forward somehow, and today I realised it’s because in the world of quilting, a month isn’t a very long time at all. At least it isn’t for me, who likes to jump between projects and who sometimes finds something new to work on.

The purpose is never to make myself feel bad, if I can’t “live up to expectations”, but somehow I’ve managed to do just that anyway, when posting no challenge at all. Or perhaps I haven’t posted because I haven’t wanted to feel bad? Who knows, it’s like what came first, the egg or the hen, and in the end what matters is a solution.

It’s incredibly rewarding to announce projects finished, or moved forward as planned/hoped, so I definitely don’t want to drop that part of blogging, but maybe it’s time to move to quarterly posts instead?

A quarter will have its own rhythm, of course, but since I don’t know what next year will bring in terms of bee blocks, and I’ve signed up for two mini-quilt swaps by now (the second one not blogged about yet and with a deadline next year), these forced, real deadlines (as opposed to the ones I call synthetic) might be fewer than in 2015. Who knows? The idea of swapping mini quilts and other small finished projects seems rather appealing to me right now, in particular since I’ve been sorting the gallery pages again, added internal links for easier perusing of the blog, and have seen that quite a bit of time has been spent on non-finished projects, be they for me or someone else. But I’d love to have a longer list of actual, huge, real, finished projects to show.

In the process of updating the blog pages, I also cleaned them up a bit, including removed a couple, which didn’t make any sense to me to maintain anymore. Sometimes when “improving” stuff I have a tendency to make them more complicated than necessary… *blushes faintly*

Instead of barging ahead spontaneously, this time I’ll take a good ponder before writing a challenge post for the last quarter of the year. I’ll have enough time to observe myself for a few weeks, then compose a to-do list that is as realistic as possible.

How about it? You and quarterly project challenges, I mean. Are you in? Or do you prefer none at all? Monthly challenges?