Tiny Star Pieces

For the past few months, I’ve been making a variety of 8″ (finished) blocks, which may end up in some sort of sampler quilt. Or may not. I just don’t know yet. For right now, I’m just having fun making them.

I’ve drafted foundation patterns for most of them, but a few of them have a lot of Y-seams. I’ve successfully machine-pieced such blocks, but this time around, I thought it would be fun to try to make them using English paper piecing.

I’ve found that I enjoy the technique, and I’ve been satisfied with the results.

Up to now, the pieces I’ve been assembling have been of a reasonable size. This morning, however, I spent an hour or two preparing the pieces for the latest block. My husband observed, quite rightly, that these are Really Small Pieces.

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Of Flamingos and Four Patches

One of the tasks I often do for my employer is make a store or show model. These are projects, such as a quilt or dress or tote bag that is displayed in one of our stores or at a show to help promote and sell patterns.

I like to do it because it gives me an opportunity to sew a quilt design that I probably would never otherwise make, using fabrics that are not the ones I tend to buy.

For Sew Expo this spring, I made this flamingo quilt from an Elizabeth Hartman pattern.

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Even though I was provided with small cuts of fabric — mostly 1/6 of a yard, except for the pink background — there was a fair bit of fabric left over.

Enough to make this Disappearing Four Patch quilt top.

four patch

A couple of our stores will be hosting a Project Linus Blanket Bee at the end of April. I think this will make a good donation!

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BOM

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I’m deep into writing, illustrating, and laying out the instruction sheets for a 12-month Block of the Month for Pacific Fabrics, the company I work for.

I designed it around our 2017 exclusive fabric panel that just hit our stores.

The blocks pictured above are ones I made to test the first draft of instructions I had written. We’ve ordered fabrics to coordinate with the fabric panels, but I was too impatient and just went ahead and used a collection of fat quarters a client had sent me from her fabric line.

All the blocks relate in some way to Washington state. We hope to start enrolling club members at Sew Expo in March, and debut the club in June or July.

 

 

 

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Continental Knitting

This afternoon, I learned how to knit, continental-style.

I can definitely see the advantages. Because there’s so much less hand movement, I think my hands wouldn’t get as tired as they do with English-style. And, once I get the hang of it, switching between knit and purl is much quicker.

The main challenge, for me at least, is maintaining good tension with my left hand. I need to figure out the best way to wrap the yarn around my fingers to keep it from slipping.

I’m close to being done with a pair of socks. Maybe I’ll try knitting the next pair with this new (for me) technique.

Here’s the swatch I knit for practice.

continental

The other thing I noticed is that the overall fabric is a little looser and more open. My stitches aren’t as tight. Our instructor confirmed that gauge will differ between the two methods.

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Sidney, BC

For New Year’s, Tim and I took an overnight trip up to Sidney, BC.

Early Saturday morning, we drove up to Anacortes to catch the 8:30 ferry to Sidney.

After checking in at our motel, we set out on foot to get the lay of the town. We were about a 10-minute walk from the ferry dock, which is right downtown.

Nearly everyone we passed nodded, or said hello. Very different from Seattle.

Along the waterfront, there is a “sculpture walk,” which we investigated more thoroughly Sunday morning before breakfast.

There was also a small bandshell, which reminded me of the opera house in Sydney, Australia.

dogwalker

bandshell

Also, around town are many statues of people sitting on benches. A couple of them had been “accessorized,” as had the statue of the gymnast.

 

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Merry Christmas from Baby Cthulhu

My husband Tim has been a fan of H.P. Lovecraft since junior high. One of Lovecraft’s best-known stories is “The Call of Cthulhu.”

As a Christmas present, I thought it would be fun to get him a plush Cthulhu toy. However, I wasn’t much taken with what a Google search turned up.

Except for this free downloadable pattern.

Once I downloaded the pattern, though, I had trouble finding time to make it. Plus, we had some subfreezing weather, which prompted me to bring my sewing machine into the house from my unheated studio.

It’s hard to make a surprise present when the person you’re making it for is in the house.

So the weekend before Christmas I told Tim that I would be doing “mystery sewing” in the front room and he needed to stay in the back of the house.

It only took a couple hours or so to sew up Baby Cthulhu. A couple days later, I stuffed him and stitched up the side.

I made one adjustment to the pattern. I felt like his wings needed to be bigger. You can’t really see them from the front, in the photo with the original pattern. I enlarged the pattern piece 125%. If they had been any larger, it would have been a battle to turn him right side out.

If I ever make him again, I might make the wings 150% larger, line them with something stiff like Timtex, and handstitch them on after turning.

baby-cthulhu

And I guess his tentacles aren’t supposed to be stuffed. Oh well. He’s still pretty cute.

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Quilting Stencils

When I got ready to quilt this quilt, I wanted to have a different motif in each square and rectangle. But I didn’t want to have to go to all the effort of making so many stencils.

It had been awhile since I had purchased any, and I discovered that many quilt shops do not carry them anymore. I guess just not enough people quilt by hand anymore. I did manage to find a few at JoAnn’s, but my new go-to course is now The Stencil Company.

Not only do they have a lot to choose from, they are so much less expensive than anything I found at a brick-and-mortar store, even after S&H is added.

So when I was ready to start quilting my latest project, I ordered several more. These are just three.

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I’ve learned that if it says it’s a 3″ motif, it is really 3″ — as opposed to a design that will fit in a 3″ square with some room to spare.

Here are the spaces I’m quilting currently.

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