Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Official!

For the first time since I started the 52 Quilts challenge, I am as of today, officially behind. I have been working on the Mystery Quilt non-stop at rehearsal, and have made amazing progress, but it seems that I didn't have time to finish it this week. I was hoping that the extra two weeks I had from being ahead would be enough of a buffer to finish this quilt, but alas, no.

The cool thing is that I am working back stage in the dressing room because I have very little on stage time in the play. I'm doing "Shadowlands" with Provision Theatre Company, and it is very male heavy. Shadowlands is set in Oxford, and focuses on the life of then-bachelor C.S. Lewis. His friends are men, his colleagues are men, there are no women anywhere to be seen. There's only me and one other woman in the show, and she plays Joy Gresham, the woman who disrupts this environment of male bonding by challenging these men and marrying C.S. Lewis. So, I'm filling in all the incidental parts and it's fun to play so many different people (and do so many beautiful scene changes... :) )

I brought my 3/4 size Kenmore sewing machine to the theatre and it lives with me in the dressing room. The machine weighs only 12 pounds, so I can put it in a backpack and take it on the train with me. It's going to be a lifesaver this year I have a feeling...

It's been our tech week, and we have previews starting on Wednesday and open this weekend. It's not been a very progress-friendly environment... can't get quilts finished when you're in doing the "hurry up and wait" dance at work.

I think I'll get very close to being finished this week, and I might try to start another backstage friendly project this week since Roll Roll Cotton Boll is about to become a bit unwieldy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Next Quilt! A New Mystery!!!

I've been looking for another mystery to do once RRCB is finished...  And I think I found it!

Photobucket

This is the PROJECT OF DOOM! It's a Block-a-Week mystery quilt where you are making a Harry Potter themed quilt block once a week. This will be fun for a couple of reasons. First, It'll be something I can quilt during other projects and it won't be too taxing to make one block per week. Second, harry potter themed is one of my weeks! Third, it's all scrap pieces, and I feel like I'm collecting scrap pieces instead of getting rid of them as I keep on quillting...

I had considered doing Quilt #8 - Sunbonnet Sue as a Harry Potter-themed Sunbonnet Sue quilt... There's still time for that in the future perhaps...

Yay! Another Mystery!!

Research and New Quilting Methods.

One of my biggest challenges as a quilter is getting my finishing to look good.  No matter how hard I try I can't get my machine quilting to look right.  This is why lately I've been tying quilts to finish them, or I've been doing light quilting.  I have been looking for a method where I can have a nice looking finished quilt that doesn't have a ton of folds on the bottom layer. 

My big problem is that no matter how much I baste, most of the quilts I make are too big to not be cumbersome when I'm eventually quilting them.  I have tried a variety of techniques, and nothing has given me really good results.

I think this method may be a good solution. http://www.quilterscache.com/H/howtoquiltoneatatime.html  If I quilt all the blocks individually as I make them, and make sure that they are all squared up before I get quilting, then maybe it'll be easier.  I think I'm going to try it on my Roll,Roll, Cotton Boll quilt. 

I have also been doing some research on my next quilt.  I'm going to make a Sunbonnet Sue Quilt next.  I haven't 100% decided on a theme yet, but I got some neutral/background material already, and have a Quilt-A-Day book to help me along.

On the "RRCB" front, I am finally finished with sewing the 600 HST's!!  I finished the sewing last night.  Now, I just have to press them and square them up!  I hope I can get that done this weekend some time.  Time is hard to come by right now... Whew!  Between working odd jobs, and rehearsing almost every night it's tough to find the time!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quilt #6 - Charity Pillowcase!

Just finished the charity pillowcase and all I have to do is mail it off!  It was easy and I think it turned out great!  Exclamation points!


 Ruffles!  The butterfly fabric is super soft and I think it'll be perfect!  Quilt six is done!!!!

Quilt # 6, Charity Quilt - Million Pillowcases Project, Mystery progress, and Other News

I charted out my progress on my calendar today, and it looks like I'm still ahead, but since the mystery quilt is taking a long time (I'm almost done with those 600 2" squares, though), I've decided to make my charity quilt this weekend.

The charity quilt project that I chose is called the Million Pillowcases Project.  You make a pillowcase and donate it to a charity.  In my case, I'm sending mine to a participating quilt shop to be donated to an abused women't shelter. 



The design that I'm going to use is a ruffled pillowband design that I hope will be super adorable, and my main fabric is a super soft almost flannel feel cotton that has funky butterflies printed on it.  I know that this is a small project, but they can't all be king size quilts, right?  And if it can be a comfort to someone that's even better.

In other news, the Thangles are a nightmare... Yesterday I wanted to build one comepleted mystery quilt square for inspiration, and boy am I glad that I did! 

I love this quilt square!   Here's the problem:  Look carefully at the right corner.  There is one squiffy red/neutral square.  Here's how it happened.  I got all the pieces together, and was putting the red and neutral Half Square Triangles on the outside, and the Half Square Triangle rows were WAY too long, so I measured.  Each square was 2.5", not 2".  I made these pieces using the Thangles, so I was LIVID (for about five minutes).  When I ordered the Thangles I ordered the size that would end up being 2" square. 

Now, what they really meant by that is that once you sewed them into a quilt they would be 2" square.  The way the directions were worded it sounded like the finished SQUARES would be 2".  So ALL of my 600 Half Square Triangles are going to be 1/2" too big.  I read the directions multiple times to make certain that I was ordering the right thangles, and I thought it was correct. 

BEWARE!  Thangles include a seam allowance, so if you are working with a pattern that also allows for a seam allowance and says you need to make 2" squares, you need to order the Thangles that are 1.5".  Can you see how I got so confused!?  Argh!  Thangles!!

At least I know now, and can modify in the future.  The great thing about the Thangles is that they are super easy and convenient.  you get really uniform results really quickly.  Over-all, I like them, but there is a definite learning curve!

Anyway, I really like the main square for the mystery quilt!  I was really reticent about how the green pink and red would go together with the brown, but somehow it's gorgeous.  Go Bonnie!

In other news, my cousin, (who we will call) "McJ" is in the 4th Grade and was having a school fundraiser in which she was selling magazines.  So, I ordered a subscription to American Patchwork and Quilting (a magazine I regularly pick up anyway).  This is my first quilt mag subscription, and I'm jazzed to get my first issue in a few weeks!  I really also want to get a suscription to "Quick Quilts" and a few others.  This year is all about learning and finding time-saving techniques and I hope to glean some inspiration from these mags, and also help McJ's school.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quilt #5 - Rail Fence Quilt

Here is the Rail Fence Quilt all done!  I decided to break up the marathon of the Mystery Quilt, and work on the Rail Fence pattern today.  I really like it!  It sort of looks like a basket-weave pattern, but also you can see the step-up pattern in the red part of the blocks.  This is such a simple quilt block, and so easy to construct.  It was a lot of fun to do.

The thing that I did with this quilt that I've never done before was to take one of my favorite paintings and using it as the color palatte inspiration for the quilt.  I really like this method, and will definitely use it in the future.  The painting in question is the one in the bottom right corner of the picture above.

As far as the mystery goes, I'm making progress on the 600 HST's, but it is tedious work, and I see no progress in it.  I know that I'm making progress, but it is such slow going that I'm discouraged.  I must power through, and will.  As Bonnie said, "It's not a race."

If you'd like to see more photos of the rail fence, here's a link:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=272319&id=677464009&l=be2937e412

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Thangles are HERE!!!

Woo Hoo!  The thangles arrived today!  And just in time!
BECAUSE...

Step four of the mystery quilt is done!  I'm afraid that the cream and pink will read as pink and not neutral, but that is the point of the adventure!

I'm watching "Stagedoor"(the documentary about Stagedoor Manor, the summer camp for musical theatre kids) and working on the HST's.  The brutal acting teacher is making all the advanced acting students pick one person to leave the class.  Cruel!!  Oooohhh!  I wonder what will happen!  And I'm working with the Thangles for the first time... Oooohhhh! I wonder what will happen with the Thangles!

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Progress!

Quilt #5, Mystery Quilt, Step Thre is officially DONE!  I am offiicially done with my 8.5" scrap squares!  I had to make 60 of them for step three of the mystery quilt.  I think the squares look good, and I can't wait to get started on the next step.Since this quilt is taking a bit longer, I decided to get started on the next projects as well. 

Quilt #6, Charity Quilting!  I'm making a pillowcase for the Million Pillowcase Project.  Here's the link:  http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/millionpillowcases/
My pillowcase is going to be these fabrics.  I love the butterflies! 


Quilt #7, Rail Fence!  In addition, I picked up fabrics for my Rail Fence Wall Hanging.  I decided to draw color inspiration from one of my favorite paintings, and selected fabrics in the same palate.
 I think it'll turn out great, and there's room on my wall for the quilt between this painting and another in the same color category.  Fat Quarters were also on sale, so that sealed the deal!

Quilt #8, Embrodiery!  I also picked up some materials for hand work that I can do when I'm away from home.  I wanted to do a quilt that includes some embroidery so that I could still work on quilts while I'm at Stitch & Bitch or in my break time at work or rehearsal.  I found some pre-printed quilt squares, and I can work on the stitching all year and maybe have a few done.  I could make a throw or a wall hanging out of these depending on how many squares I get done before I get sick of it... :)


So, lots of progress, and lots to do!  I'm pretty excited about these projects, and can't wait to keep you all posted!

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm drowning in a sea of PAPER!!

I've almost finished step three of the Mystery quilt... ALL I have to do is rip the PAPER off the back of the pieces. The fun part of these squares is that in order to make perfect squares out of imperfect pieces of fabric, you cut out 8.5" squares of paper. You stitch through the paper and the fabric and then cut out the squares at the end. Unfortunately, this last step is more time consuming than one might think. I have been ripping paper for the entire "Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now?" and there are strips of paper all over the place. The dog won't even come over and sit with me it's such paper chaos... ARGH!

I cannot wait to be done with this step!

This is my first experience with paper piecing and I love the precision. In fact, my mother has been talking to me (basically every time we chat lately) about THANGLES. THANGLES are a paper template where you sew and cut along the lines to make PERFECT half square triangles. Mom wouldn't let up on the THANGLES, so I'm going to give them a try. I need to make 600 Half Square Triangles in step five of this mystery, so I ordered the proper THANGLES, and I'll use them to finish that step. We'll see if I love them or despise them... Mom loves them, so I'm sure I will too.