Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let Me See Your Jelly Roll! in January

Um, so this is embarrassing

But I'm still not done with my jelly roll quilt for January. I still have about 4 hours' worth of work on it. I suppose I could have stayed up late the past couple of nights to finish, but I guess I'm just not hungry enough for that kind of glory.

So here's the quilt in its current state...

In progress

Maybe it's kind of like showing up to your own dinner party with your hair in rollers and the back of your dress tucked into your pantyhose, but I'm going to go ahead and post the link party now, even though I'm not done. I'll keep the party going until Saturday evening, to give everyone (myself included) to wrap up their January projects.

UPDATE (2/4/2012): I finally finished the quilt last night - holla!

The weather outside this morning is a bit gross, so I went ahead and took some pictures of the quilt on its final resting place - the guest bed.

from the other side

Related question: Do you iron your guest pillowcases? I don't. Obviously.

from one side

I had a hard time picking a favorite block, since I mixed up all the prints. But my favorite color combination was the dark pink and the light blue like this one

fave block #1

And this one.

fave block #2

For the backing, I used up a few pastel prints from my stash that aren't part of any of my Big Plans for the Crafty Future. It felt good to use up the stash.

destashing backing

Here are my final stats for the project:
Started: January 2012
Finished: February 2012
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted, machine-bound
Fabric: Oasis by 3 Sisters for Moda

Remember:
1) Quilt tops count, too!
2) It doesn't have to be a project made from an officially jelly roll - it can be any strippy quilt (top) or project
3) I'm asking that it is a project you've finished or worked on sometime in the past month. Please don't link up a jelly roll project you finished 3 years ago, k? 

On Saturday night, I'll use the trusty random number generator to pick a winner from the link party to win 3 yards of Denyse Schmidt prints.

Jelly roll booty

Friday, January 20, 2012

Aspirations

I started a new pinboard on Pinterest today, dedicated to machine quilting. My jelly roll quilt top just needs borders, so machine quilting's weighing heavy on my mind right now, since I'm still undecided on how I'll quilt it.

Most of the pins are definitely aspirational at this point. If I want to stick to my self-imposed deadline on the first jelly roll quilt at least, I'll need to tame my Big Quilting Ideas. I would like to incorporate a couple of new to me quilting design elements in this quilt though.

Here are some ideas I've been doodling.
doodling

Um, I know. It kind of looks like a preschooler did this, but I was using a laptop mousepad in Microsoft Paint on a Friday night, so cut me some slack, mmkay? You get the idea anyways, right?

How do you decide what designs best fit a quilt? Does it depend on your mood? Your timeline? Your comfort level with a design?


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Things

Upon reflection, I realize that I've been a bit of a Debbie Downer in my last few posts. This isn't at all how I wanted to start off the year. Obviously, my life isn't as bad as I've made it out to be. Let's look at a couple of things that make me happy.

In the hubbub of the holidays, I forgot to mention that I finally worked up the gumption to make a slipcover for my ottoman one Saturday morning. I had been procrastinating on this project for 6+ months. It took me less than an hour to finish. Typical.

Let's get a little before/after action up in here...

Before:

IMG_2321 

After:

new outfit for the ottoman

Note to self: Next time you work with dropcloths, zig zag stitch all the raw edges before you hem to avoid all the endless fraying. 'm forever trimming threads off the bottom of this slipcover. I definitely followed the crowd on this project and made my slipcover out of a painter's dropcloth. I still have miles of the dropcloth left, it seems like - plenty to tackle one or two of the four wingback chairs we inherited along with the ottoman. Someday. 

First I have to finish my jelly roll quilt for January.

soothing my rankled nerves

Speaking of, here's a quick peek at the prize for the winner of this month's jelly roll quilt participant...

Jelly roll booty

One yard each of three different prints from Denyse Schmidt's latest line with Joann's. INCIDENTALLY, 3 yards is just about the same amount of fabric found in a jelly roll.

So, if this selection of fabric appeals to you, there's still plenty of time to finish your jelly roll quilt (top) for January - 12 whole days!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Re-Entering the Land of the Living

Slowly but surely, I'm crawling out from under my rock for what seems like the umpteenth time this year. After finally emerging from my post-Christmas funk a few weeks ago, I came down with a nasty cold this past weekend, and it ripped apart at the (crooked) seams all my well-laid plans for crafty productivity on the long weekend. No worries. I'm feeling much better now. I guess it was just my body's way of telling me to slow the heck down already and get some rest before I got too carried away with my Big Plans.

On the upside, I got a ton of sleep and drank water by the gallon, so even if I'm still a little congested, my skin is looking better than it has in MONTHS. I'll take what I can get.

On the crafty front, I made some forward-backward-forward progress with my jelly roll quilt for this month. Um, y'all. Please tell me you're not following my oh-so-prideful cutting instructions from a few weeks back and hoping to easily crank out a quilt that looks like this.



I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you follow my cutting instructions and piece the blocks the same way I did, your strips will not cleanly line up on the diagonal without much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jelly roll quilt in progress 

You'll spend some serious quality time squaring up subunit after subunit and block after block with your trusty ruler and rotary cutter.

Humility

Even after hours of squaring up, the blocks will look more like this.

Wonked out 

You will not be able to line up those diagonal rows so neatly, and then you will punch your sewing machine in the face.

Frustration 

I wish I could say that this piecing travesty was the result of me "chasing the Ny/DayQuil dragon" (husbatron's coined phrase), but alas, I started all the cutting and piecing well before the Great Plague struck my house this past weekend and caused me to seek over the counter relief. Sometimes, I wish I wasn't such a cheapskate and that I had just hauled @$$ to Joann's with my trusty coupons to buy the friggin' book. Moral of the story: If you want to make the quilt pictured above, buy the book! Don't follow my lame attempt at directions! I'm sure there's some great nugget of wisdom in the book about what to do exactly if you're not using the fancy schmancy ruler she recommends.

Alas, we live with the decisions we make. For a brief nanosecond, I considered un-piecing everything, buying the book, and trying to make everything "right." I'm pretty sure I was chasing the DayQuil dragon pretty hard at that point. Then I came to my senses and remembered that I like spending time with my seam ripper about as much as I like having my annual exam with the Lady Bits Doctor. So, in my DayQuil-induced state, I headed to the local Hancock Fabrics down the road, picked up a couple of yards of Kona White (the last of the bolt, no less!), and sashed the heck out of all my wonked out blocks.

wonked out blocks corrected

And just like that, things are looking up.

Never doubt the power of some good old-fashioned sashing, y'all.


I'm linking up to W.I.P. Wednesday over at Lee's place. Be sure to check in and see what everyone else has been up to lately!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shout! Color Catchers Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the Shout Color Catchers giveaway! Congratulations to commenter #6: manybooks! Be sure to check your email and send me your address.


manybooks said...6
Oh, I can't imagine the stress! When I'm on stress overload i curl up on the couch and watch bad reality TV :) I do need to wash a quilt made with Zipadee Doo Dah which is a Moda line with lots of red - my very first quilt ever and its never been washed, so i will certainly wash it alone and with several Shout Catchers! Thanks for the reminder (ive never tried the color catchers, but I've only washed 2 or 3 finished quilts.

I had so much fun reading everyone's stress-busting routines. There are some busy bees who like to keep their hands busy with housework or sewing, some who enjoy a little retail therapy, and some kindred spirits like myself. I am definitely an emotional eater. You better believe I curled up with a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner and ate my feelings the other night. Don't worry, I did round out the meal with a pot green beans, and we kept things civilized by eating off of plates, much as I wanted to eat directly from the pot of fake cheesy goodness. I realize that a walk around the block or cleaning the tile grout in my shower stall might have been a more constructive response to my anxiety, but I can't be a goody two-shoes all the time.

Jelly roll quilt in progress 

Thanks again! I'm off to sew on my jelly roll quilt for a few minutes before bedtime. Peace out y'all!

Monday, January 9, 2012

This Post is Brought to You by Shout and OxiClean

Subtitle: When Bad Things Happen to Goody Two-Shoed Quilters

This weekend, it happened to me. That's right, the one thing that all quilters, modern and traditional alike, dread:

My red fabrics bled on not one but two finished quilts.

Stuff like that isn't supposed to happen to me. I still pre-wash my fabrics, for pete's sake. It all started the middle of last week when I decided it would be a good idea to do a load of "Christmas laundry" before I put away all the decorations for the year. So, into the wash went my 12 Days of Christmas throw quilt, my 12 Days of Christmas tree skirt, a tablerunner, and the Husbatron's NCSU quilt for the heck of it because it hadn't been washed yet. (Insert ominous foreshadowing music now.)

During Netflix night on Saturday, the Husbatron pulled his NCSU quilt out of the dryer to warm himself up a bit. (Please ignore the fact that a load of laundry sat in my dryer for 4+ days. I said I'm a goody two-shoed quilter, not a goody two-shoed housekeeper.) The light was pretty dim in the family room that night, but after the movie was over, he pointed at a white part of his quilt and casually said, "Does that look pink to you?"

I played it cool on the outside, kept binding my HST quilt, and nonchalantly said, "Hmm, you go on to bed. I'll see what I can do." But on the inside, panic gripped my heart and constricted my airways. I mentally reviewed all the fabrics in his quilt and their point of origin. They all came from "good" fabric shops and the fabrics had been pre-washed before I cut them up for his quilt. I scolded myself for not throwing a color catcher in the wash with the Christmas load, since I knew the NCSU quilt, in its entirety, had never been washed before. But in the spirit of setting aside regrets and plowing ahead, I decided to throw the NCSU quilt in the wash with a heckalotta color catchers and see what happened. I threw a small scoop of Borax and another small scoop of OxiClean in there for good measure.

Since I was running the wash anyways, I figured I might as well throw my freshly bound HST quilt in the washer with it.

{this} close to being done 

Is anyone getting anxious yet?

Sunday morning, I pulled the quilts out of the wash and noticed that the pink was mostly gone from the white spots on the NCSU quilt. There are still a few miniscule pink spots on the quilt, but you have to really look for them. Huzzah!!  I didn't destroy the Husbatron's quilt! Our marriage is saved! I credit Shout! Color Catchers for removing the pink tinges and saving our marriage.

Then there was the HST quilt. The Kona Snow background was still purrrrr-fectly bright white. The cream in the Moda charm squares that I used, on the other hand, somehow absorbed any and all loose dye and turned pastel pinkish melon color. Which I would have been fine with if I was using a traditional 3 Sisters or Fig Tree charm pack. This lovely pastel pink-melon color did NOT coordinate well with the fun, bright modern prints from Freebird and Chrysalis.

So, I ran it through the wash with Color catchers a couple more times. The color catchers caught some color, but they weren't really pulling any color out of the cream fabrics. And I could tell that the amount of dye they caught was on the wane.

Color catchers progression 

At this point, I seriously considered donating the quilt to the guild just so I didn't have to see it ever again. When the Husbatron gently asked what the guild would do with it, my reply was something like, "I don't care, as long as it's not in my house anymore. They'll probably give it to some dumb orphan."

Um, I know. I'm terrible and black-hearted when I'm frustrated. It's a wonder God did not smite me down on my way to guild last night. Choosing to ignore that he managed to marry the most callous quilter on the planet, the Husbatron calmly asked if OxiClean might help.

So after consulting Google and discovering that OxiClean is gentle enough for antique quilts and has been successful for other quilters with similar angst, I figured, eh, what the hay. I have nothing to lose at this point.

I soaked the HST quilt in a big bucket filled with warm water and 2 scoops of OxiClean for 20 minutes, and then ran it through a rinse/spin cycle in the wash. Finally, THAT seemed to lift most of the dye out of the cream spots. The cream prints aren't quite as bright as they were a few days ago, but they're certainly not pink anymore.

 

I give you the cleanest quilt east of the Mighty Mississippi.

In the end, all's well that's in well I suppose, but for about 24 hours straight, I was one big ball of anxiety, wondering if the quilts I worked on for hours would ever be restored to their former glories. I know this whole whiney post definitely falls into the first-world-problem category. But I just got so frustrated when I thought about how much time I spent on both those projects, and how they went from lovely and fun to ulgh in just 2 loads of laundry. I'd really prefer to avoid anxiety and frustration like this in the future, if at all possible.

In the spirit of learning from past mistakes, this is what I'm taking away from yesterday's fiasco:
  • If you're washing a finished quilt for the first time, for the love of all that is quilty, use a color catcher or three. 
  • If you have some dye transfer issues with a quilt, do NOT wash another brand spankin' new quilt in the same load with the quilt that has issues. (Filed under: DUH)
  • Bad things happen to good quilters, so it's a good idea to always keep OxiClean and color catchers on hand. 
Once the weather clears up, I'll be back with the official "finished" post for the HST quilt.

In the meantime, if you hung in there long enough to read all this mess that's largely devoid of images, you deserve a prize, or at least you deserve to be eligible for one.

If you'd like to win your own box of Shout! color catchers, just leave a comment below, answering the following question:

What's your favorite coping mechanism for stress? Do you bake a cake? Hop online to shop for more fabric? Do you bust out the sweat bands and leg warmers to walk away the pounds? Do you clean out a closet? Scrub-a-dub the tub? Crank out a scrap quilt? Inquiring minds want to know. 

I'll close the giveaway on Thursday, January 12 at 9pm EST and announce a winner shortly thereafter.

UPDATE: Comments are CLOSED. Thanks to all who entered!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Forward Progress on All Fronts


{this} close to being done 

First things first, I'm {this} close to finishing up my HST quilt. In a burst of energy the other night, I finished the last few inches of quilting, made the binding, trimmed up the edges of the quilt, and then attached the binding to the front. I seriously considered machine binding this quilt so I can cross it off the list asap, but I'm craving a little bit of handwork. And it's been nice to have a project for Netflix night this weekend.

Time to press some seams 

The other night, I finally started on my jelly roll quilt. Like I mentioned the other night, I'm reluctant to post step by step instructions for this project, since it's published and all. BUT I will direct you to other posts describing how these blocks can be constructed and throw in any helpful tips I encounter.

This month's pattern comes from Strip Smart Quilts by Kathy Brown. The premise of the book is that with strip-piecing and a fancy schmancy ruler, you can create a pretty wide variety of block designs. Last year, Kathy held a blog tour for her book, which is how I found out about it.

During the blog tour, Camille actually had a few pictures of how the ruler works and how the blocks come together. Go ahead and click over there to read it. I'll wait.

So here's the thing. I try to be selective about which rulers I bring into the house. (Less money spent on rulers = more money to spend on fabric, amIright?) So before I haul out the fundz to buy a new one, I play around with the rulers I have to see if I can get away with not buying a special one.

I'm going to let you in on a secret. To make the quilts in this book, you don't need to buy this crazy ruler, unless you really want to. Since all the block units are cut at a 45-degree angle, you can use the 45-degree line on one of your basic rulers as a guide for cutting.

So first, sew and press 2 strips together (a jelly roll strip and a background strip in my case).

Next find the 45-degree line on your ruler of choice. It's amazing how often I use this ruler and forget that these angles are marked.

find the marked lines

Then line up the 45-degree line with the top of the strip set as far to the left as possible without clipping the bottom left corner of the strip set. Your ruler should be on the diagonal, with the top of the ruler on the right and the bottom of the ruler on the left.

line up for the first cut

The right edge of your ruler should now be set at a 45-degree angle and ready for you to cut, like so.


(Note: I definitely save this little swatch of fabric that I cut off the ends because, well, we all know I'm nutty about scraps. I'm thinking about salvaging the printed pieces to paper-piece hexagons or maybe make some 9-patch blocks)

To get the triangle shape with a 45-degree angle on the other side, simply flip the ruler to the right 90 degrees, so that the 45-degree line that's going in the other direction on your ruler is lined up with the bottom of the strip set. Your ruler should be on the diagonal, with the top of the ruler on the left and the bottom of the ruler on the right.

ready for the second cut

The right edge of your ruler should now be in place for you to cut at a 45-degree angle.

 

Ta-da! Your first unit! Now just keep flipping your ruler back and forth, left and right, all the way down the strip set, until you've exhausted your fabric.

 

If I'm not making sense, you might also take a look at Missouri Quilt Co's blog post about using a large square ruler to cut 45-degree angles.

I was able to get 8 triangles total from my strip set, which should be enough for me to make 2 blocks. If you're working with strips cut from fat quarters or scrap strips, your results might differ.

Do these units look familiar? They're the same basic building blocks that are used in the double-hourglass blocks, as seen here (that's me!), here, and here.

Now, let's take a minute to meditate on the wonders of geometry.

If all this ruler madness isn't your style, you can also make a template a la Allison's instructions @ Cluck Cluck Sew to get the same shape. Just start with a 9" square template, instead of the 7.5" square as she tutorializes.

I hope this teeny-tiny demo has been helpful!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jelly Roll Project - Quick Clarification

Just to be on the safe side, I wanted to clarify that I'm not doing a formal jelly roll quilt-along each month with a specific project. A fair number of the patterns I've flagged to use this year come from books, published patterns, etc. so I don't want to tread on anyone's copyright by posting specific instructions for published patterns. I *will* try to be conscientious about posting process posts along the way though, for folks who want a blow by blow idea of how the project progresses throughout the month

Time to press some seams 
Exhibit A: I've finally started on the project.

I'm encouraging everyone to use a jelly roll or set of strips somehow, some way this month. You don't have to use the same pattern I do. Feel free to use any pattern out there, or make up your own, so long as you're busting some rolls. And please do feel free to go ahead and start on your project! Just because I've been procrastinating a wee bit doesn't mean that you have to procrastinate also!

Bummed/Disillusioned that I'm not hosting a formal quilt-along? Just so I don't leave you completely hanging, here are a few of my favorite quilt-alongs and step by step tutorials that use jelly rolls:

Also, keep in mind that you can sub-cut your 2.5" strips into strips of varying widths (one 2.5" strip becomes a 1" strip and a 1.5" strip, or one 2.5" strip becomes two 1.25" strips) to make strings for a string-pieced quilts. Here are some of my favorite string-pieced tutorials:
Sorry if my poor communication skillz have disappointed anyone! Now let's go bust a roll...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Easing Back Into Normal Life

For some reason, this year, the holidays have completely walloped me. I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping things low-key with decorations and gift-giving, but the thought of taking down the decorations and writing thank you notes is really overwhelming right now. I'm hoping that throwing myself back into my everyday work routine will give me the kick in the pants I need to carpe the heck out of 2012.

With borders this time

A quick addendum to yesterday's picture of my January jelly roll fabric: I rummaged around in my stash this morning, hoping to find some border fabric for January's jelly roll quilt. I emerged triumphantly victorious, with a paisley print from Sanctuary by 3 Sisters. I think I could write a sonnet about how much I love this paisley print. I know I just lost most modern quilters with that last sentence, but I'm pretty sure my love for paisley will abide with me until my dying day, no matter how many wonky blocks I make. This collection is long gone from most fabric stores. I think it came out waaay back in 2004. This particular print came from some yardage that Mom gave to me a few years back to hoard use. I'm so pleased I found a good use for the fabric, that I'm able to use what I have instead of buying new, and that the prints from older lines still coordinate with the newer collections. The solid reddish-pink print a Robyn Pandolph solid from a fabric shop we visited over Christmas break down in Grand Cane, La. I'm planning to use it for the inner border and binding. I'm counting on that solid print to contain the busy-ness of the paisley border fabric.

Last row of pebble quilting

To be honest, I'm procrastinating on actually starting my jelly roll quilt for January, mainly because I refuse to put away my half-square triangle quilt until it's finished. Okay, at least until it's quilted. I have about 3 more episodes' worth of the West Wing to go/quilt through, and then I should be done with the pebble quilting (and with West Wing, season 4 for the umpteenth time). I'm down to pebble quilting the last 8" or so along the length of the quilt. I might be kicking myself later in the month for sacrificing a few days on my first jelly roll project, but I'm afraid that if I put away this WIP now, it will languish in my UFO pile for another few months. I hate to lose the momentum I've built up with this quilt.

Ready for us to go back to work

I think the holidays have managed to wallop Gunther as well. This guy's been pretty much exhausted since we returned from The Great Trip to my parents' house on Saturday night. We've taken long walks every day since we got back (I just counted in my head, and it's only been 2 days. How is that possible?), and afterwards, he's curled up to sleep for the rest of the day/night. After a week of travel and constant activity with extended (canine and human) family members, I think he's more than ready for us to head back to work, so he can resume his normal routine of uninterrupted hibernation.

With a new year, comes a new round of menu planning. If you're here for the food, here's what we're eating to ring in 2012 this week:
Check out other (meaty) menus at OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday round-up. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

So It Begins: Let Me See Your Jelly Roll!

My only crafty resolution for this year is to keep up with my self-issued jelly roll challenge. (In case you're interested, my only other resolution is to re-read the Harry Potter series this year. Hurrah for fun resolutions!)

jellyroll!! 

For the jelly roll challenge in January, I'm using an Oasis jelly roll by 3 Sisters for Moda with this pattern from Strip-Smart Quilts.

Jelly roll fun begins 

(Excuse the weirdness going on with the photo. My phone had some "issues" uploading the photo to flickr.)

In the spirit of bidding adieu to last year, here's the obligatory mosaic of the quilts I finished in 2011.

20120101 mosaic from 2011 

Needless to say, I didn't follow through on all my 2011 resolutions, but I'm okay with that. Time passes, priorities shift, and all that jazz. I still had a lot of fun sewing this year, even if I didn't accomplish all I envisioned at the beginning of the year.

Looking ahead to 2012, I'm excited to make some new (to me) patterns and bust some of my strippy stash in the process! I'll post a link party for a few days, to begin on January 31, if anyone would like to post links to blog posts or flickr photos about their finished strippy quilts (tops) for January. I've already pulled together a prize for an accompanying giveaway.

I hope everyone has a year full of fun times in front of the sewing machine!