Monday, January 15, 2018

In Which I Shamelessly Flaunt My CCD: Compulsive Creative Disorder

My Math quilt remains untouched on my longarm frame (perhaps today or tomorrow?).  My Tabby Mountain quilt remains on my design wall, since I had to order a couple Kaffe Fassett prints to replace the creepy Cat Eyes fabric (maybe by end of this week, or early next week the fabric will get here?).  I don't feel like making a pineapple block right now, I'm bored with my eight identical in-progress Frankenwhiggish Rose applique blocks, and I'm not in the right mood to finish the Jingle BOM applique top or to make more Farmer's Wife blocks or clam shells or to start any of my one patch project ideas.  But I was just over on Esther Aliu's blog and saw her free BOM applique project for 2018, Queen's Garden.  I am in love.  Not too easy, not too difficult, not too repetitive, and perfect for all my bright, splashy scraps of fabric.  I HAVE TO MAKE THIS QUILT!


Queen's Garden, 70 x 70 Free BOM by Esther Aliu

I have been reading on the Internet, folks, and it has come to my attention that an awful lot of quilters out there have an awful lot more projects-in-progress than I do.  You can call them WIPs (Works In Progress), UFOs (UnFinished Objects), or Proof of Mom's Poor Work Ethic (what my son Anders calls MY projects-in-progress), but I'm pretty sure that it's not an actual SIN to start a new project before finishing an old one.  And if it IS a sin, well, at least it's not a MORTAL sin.  Certainly nothing I need to confess in church and pray for forgiveness, right?  

You know, as I'm thinking about it, God Himself, the Creator of the Universe, has more WIPs than anyone.  Every human being on this planet is a WIP and UNICEF estimates that over 350,000 new babies (God's new projects) are being born every day.  


Infrared Portrait of God's WIPs and NewFOs in the Small Magellanic Cloud, Credit: ESO/ESA/JPL-Caltech/NASA/D. Gouliermis (MPIA) et al.

The Earth itself is a WIP, and the Universe is a WIP with new stars being born before all the old stars have burned out...  The picture above from Science Daily is of a dwarf galaxy near the Milky Way.  The blue areas show God's WIPs (stars that have been around awhile, but haven't yet burned out) and the red dots are all brand new stars being born, like so many new projects going on simultaneously in the heavens.  When I read in the Bible that we were created in God's image, to me that means God created us to BE creators.  

And so, based on this new Quilter's Theology that I have just invented (you're welcome), there is no such thing as Quilt Guilt because we were MADE to work on lots of different projects at once and to be CONSTANTLY STARTING NEW PROJECTS even though our other projects aren't finished yet, just like all those new babies being born and all those red dots in the Small Magellan Cloud dwarf galaxy.

Which just shows you the lengths that I am willing to go in order to justify my reckless decision to add YET ANOTHER new project, when all the other quilters on the Internet are making resolutions to finish what they've already started!  Hah!  But seriously -- this is my HOBBY.  It's supposed to be fun and it's supposed to be relaxing.  If I'm having fun and I'm relaxing, it doesn't matter if I EVER finish a quilt.  Finished quilts are happy accidents that occasionally happen in my studio, not regular occurrences or obligations.

Join me on the Dark Side, Ladies and Gentlemen -- and start a NEW project today!  Might I suggest Esther's new applique BOM?

Today I'm linking up with:




Saturday, January 13, 2018

Look What's On My Wall, Y'All! I Cannot Follow the Directions, After All

Check out my design wall this lovely morning.  I cut out all of my triangles!  Except now I'm about to cut out MORE triangles and start swapping out fabrics that I don't love from the original design.


Ready To Sew...  Maybe
This Tabby Mountain project was going to be my first ever quilt where I follow all of the directions, use all the same fabrics as the quilt designer, and make mine look just like the sample, because I was totally smitten by this adorable quilt featuring Tula Pink's Tabby Road prints and I had already purchased the FQ precuts of this collection without any clear idea of what I was going to make with it.  


Tabby Road Collection FQs
Sew from the stash, right?  Well, first I swapped out the Free Spirit Designer Solid fabrics for close matches in the Moda Bella Solids line because I didn't have enough yardage of the original solid colors and my LQS only carries Bella Solids...  and I snuck in two tone-on-tone solids, the red row and the navy row at the bottom.  My red is also deliberately a bit less orangey than the Free Spirit Autumn fabric specified by the pattern.


See How My Red and Navy "Solids" Have Subtle Plus Signs On Them?
I'm happy with those two not-quite-solids, especially since those rows are nicely spaced out on the quilt rather than right next to each other.  Next change: If you follow the pattern directions and just cut each fat quarter into a 10" strip and then subcut into four 30 degree triangles, with a directional print you are going to get two triangles with the print facing one direction and two triangles with the print facing the opposite direction.  And if you lay out your triangles exactly as shown in the diagram, exactly as they were laid out at the sample quilt that went to Quilt Market, you are going to have upside down kitty cats and upside down cans of cat food on your quilt.  So my next change was to swap some of my triangles around so that all of my directional prints were right side up.

As my design wall was filling up with these bright, happy triangles, I was getting so excited -- this top should sew up fast, and won't it be fun to quilt on the longarm machine?!  And yet, misgivings began to creep in.


"I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me"
I really am not a fan of the small scale eyeball print Cat Eyes, at least not for giant 10" triangle patches.  
Tula Pink - Tabby Road - Cat Eyes - Strawberry Cooler
Maybe chopped up into smaller HSTs or something, but it's a really busy print that makes my head hurt if I look at it for too long.  Also, with a thousand little eyeballs peering down at me from my design wall, it reminds me of "Big Brother is Watching You" from George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984.  Now, those of you who own kitty cats -- isn't it terrifying to imagine that your precious pets are actually there to spy on you, reporting back to some evil totalitarian government who will someday come to arrest you, torture you, and brainwash you into submission?  



I hear Rockwell and Michael Jackson singing "Somebody's Watching Me" in my head and it's giving me the creeps!




Clearly there are too many eyeballs on this quilt, and some of them have to go.  The Tabby Mountain pattern uses all but two of the 25 prints in the Tabby Road collection, and for some reason the designer chose to use all four colorways of the creepy eyeball print and only three of the four colorways of the Disco Kitty print, which is my favorite. 


Disco Kitties! Love!!!
The first four eyeball triangles that came off my design wall were the Aqua (Strawberry Cooler) colorway, and they were replaced by the missing Aqua colorway of the Disco Kitty print shown above on the right.  But there are still too many eyeballs watching me!

So instead of starting to sew my rows together, I've been digging through my stash and auditioning possible fabrics that I could swap out for the remaining Cat Eyes.  When all of the fabrics in a quilt are from the same fabric collection and you want to just replace a few of them, it's a lot trickier than coordinating fabrics for a scrappy quilt where all of the fabrics are very different.  For this quilt, I need my replacement prints to be the right colors in the right shades, but I also think that the prints need to have the same level of detail and the same "feel" as the prints in the Tabby Road collection, and I need to balance the visual weight of the new print with the mix of prints already on the wall.  You know, scale, value, big floral type versus geometric, stripe, or dot...  The other consideration, now that I'm no longer following directions and I'm back in charge of artistic direction, is that I don't have any little girls in my life right now and I don't want this quilt to look too juvenile.  We want to have fun with our bold, brightly colored kitties, but not Romper Room fun, if you know what I mean.


Tabby Road Fur Ball Fabric in Strawberry Tangerine
And that brings us to this particular print, the jagged-edge giant dot fabric named Fur Ball.  I don't know, what do you guys think?  The ketchup-and-mustard Strawberry Tangerine is my least favorite colorway, but when I step back and view the whole thing from a distance I see that the rows of red and cheddar yellow solids won't make as much sense if I eliminate this print.  It's cute for sure, but is it Cat Lady Cute or Toddler Cute?


Kaffe Fassett Collective, Roman Glass and Paperweight Prints
I've got some Kaffe Fassett prints under consideration, perhaps swapping out eyeball prints for various colorways of Kaffe's Roman Glass and Paperweight prints shown above, but I don't know...  I need for this to percolate in the back of my brain for a bit.

I've got a dress rehearsal this afternoon for Monday's VOX Martin Luther King, Jr. concert, singing at three church services at Christ Providence tomorrow morning so I probably won't be back in my studio again until Sunday afternoon.  I'll see how I feel about it then.

Well, it's now nearly 1 PM, my dress rehearsal starts in an hour, and as my husband pointed out to me, I'm not dressed yet.  Which means this blog post has finally reached


THE END

PS: I'm linking up a day late with all my favorite Friday linky parties:


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ta-Da! Triangles On My Design Wall!

The past few days have been busy, so I'm pleased to report that I've made some paltry progress on my new Tabby Mountain quilt.  


Triangles!
There are more triangles on my cutting table, along with a stack of other fabrics waiting to  be cut up.


More Triangles Ready For the Wall
I know this might not look like much to show for myself, but it's not like I've been holed up in my sewing room for the past five days; I've been busy as usual with other things.  Since my last post on Friday, I've sung at three church services plus four and a half hours of rehearsals, baked a chocolate peppermint fudge Bundt cake to bring to a post-Christmas choir party that I attended with my husband: 


I Should Have Left Out the Peppermint Extract.  It Tasted Like Chocolate Toothpaste Cake.
...Cooked chicken soup from scratch (with my first-ever attempt at Matzo balls!) and delivered it to a sick friend (that soup was delicious, but alas, I forgot to get a picture for you guys).  I also managed to fit in three hours of exercise, a book study, and two doctor appointments.  All since Friday, and all in my so-called "free time" -- I'm not even listing any of the time I spent on activities pertaining to work, housekeeping, or parenting.  So although my progress may look pitiful to some, I am delighted to see those triangles slowly but steadily multiplying on the design wall.  Sewing them together will probably go faster than cutting them out, don't you think?

I prewashed my fabrics so one thing slowing down my cutting is that I have to press and starch each piece of fabric before I start cutting into it.  I'm a fervent believer in starch for precision piecing anyway, but I knew I wanted to start out with starched fabric for this project in particular to control the tendency of all of those long bias edges to want to stretch.  


My Ancient Chinese Secret: Spray Starch
Cutting the solid fabrics and a couple of the prints goes faster than cutting out stripes, directional prints, and kitty cats.  The Tabby Road print is my favorite fabric in the collection, so I'm cutting those triangles one at a time and trying to get one kitty cat in each triangle.  


Fussy-Cutting My Kitty Cats
Of course I want my stripes perfectly straight, directional prints right side up instead of sideways, and prints like the rows of cat food need to be cut straight as well.  


Fabric Edge Is Torn, Print Is Slightly Off Grain
As you can see in the photo above, despite the bottom edge of the fabric being torn so I know it's perfectly on grain, the rows of cat food cans are actually printed onto the fabric slightly crooked.  I want my Cat Snacks to be right side up and nice and straight on my quilt, so I cut my 10" strip parallel to the rows of cans.


Cutting First Pair of 30 Degree Triangles from Double Layer of Cat Snacks Fabric
...And, as you can see in this photo, there isn't a lot of room for error when cutting triangles from these FQ (fat quarter) prints.  I need four triangles from each FQ, and once I've straightened my fabric edge up and cut a 10" strip, I barely have enough to get those four triangles out of it.  Yes, I'm accumulating large fabric scraps of each print for another project, but there are no scraps large enough to cut out another 10" 30 degree triangle if I was to mess one up.


Cutting Second Pair of Triangles From The Same FQ Strip
See what I mean about not much room for error?  I'd rather cut up these luscious prints slowly and carefully than fast and recklessly.  Speed isn't worth what you lose in accuracy, or the finger you sliced off with your rotary cutter, slicing through fabric left and right like a crazy person.  


Future Triangles Waiting in the Wings: Needing to be Starched, Pressed, and Chopped Up
I am really loving working with these saturated colors and fun prints, I can tell you that.  It's like a feast for my eyeballs, calorie-free and everything, which is perfect for January!

Anyway, this was just supposed to be a "quick" post, so I'm signing off now.  I'm linking up with:




Friday, January 5, 2018

New Year's Resolutions, 2018: I Resolve to Buy More Fabric. And I Resolve to Drink More Wine.



...And I'm not just saying that to be funny, either, y'all -- I am SERIOUS.  I have made up my mind, my resolve is firm, and no one's Sew Your Stash goals or Fiscal Frugal Fishy Business is going to stop me, either.  I am going to buy more fabric in 2018, and I'm going to do it ON PURPOSE.

I wanted to have my new Tabby Mountain quilt all cut out by today, laid out on my empty design wall, and be sewing the triangles into rows this afternoon while listening to the Poulenc and Verdi music I need to prepare for tomorrow's VOX chorus rehearsal.  I already had all of the fabrics I needed for this project at the beginning of the week, all prewashed and ready to go in my stash, and I got the special 30 degree ruler I wanted three days ago to streamline the whole cutting process.  So, why isn't this quilt cut out yet?  I'll tell you why -- it's because I only had fat quarters (FQs) of each of the eight solid fabrics, the pattern called for a THIRD of a yard of full width fabric for each of those fabrics, and I could only cut 5 triangles out of each solid FQ instead of the 11 triangles plus 2 half triangles required by my pattern.  I have wasted hours of valuable quilting time hunting unsuccessfully through my stash for alternatives, finding nothing that I had enough of in anywhere close to the right color.  I considered mixing in prints or tonal solids with the solids called for in my stash, but I believe what I like most about this particular quilt design is the way the rows of solid fabrics separate the bold prints and set them off, keeping it from being a jumbled mess of busy prints.  I don't think I would like the result nearly as well if I swapped out those rows of solids for anything else.

Tula Pink Tabby Mountain Quilt 
See what I mean?  What really makes that quilt for me is the strong graphic impact of the rows of solid triangles separating and setting off the gorgeous kitty cat prints.  If I can't have a full row of each solid fabric, I don't want to make that quilt at all.  So then I wasted MORE hours of precious sewing time surfing the Internet in search of an online quilt shop that stocked all 8 colors of the Free Spirit Designer Solids called for by my pattern, as well as the additional yardage I need of my Tula Pink Slow But Steady backing fabric for my Paint Me A Story quilt.  (Because I calculated how much backing fabric I would need when I was only planning to add one border rather than the three borders I ended up with.  I am short 5" on that backing but I needed to buy another 2 1/4 yards in order to have just the one seam down the back of the quilt).  I finally found all nine fabrics that were holding up my projects at the same online shop, Missouri Star Quilt Co., and I ordered them.  And then I was horrified when my order confirmation email informed me that they were "a little backed up" and my order wasn't going to ship out for 2-3 WEEKS.  Um, NO, I'm not going to wait that long!!  So my husband and I drove all the way down to my not-quite-local quilt shop this afternoon and, since they don't stock the Free Spirit Designer Solids, I matched each of my insufficient FQs to the Bella Solids line and purchased a half yard of each one.  I also found my Slow But Steady backing fabric there and bought small pieces of a few other prints that caught my eye for my scrappy projects.  I had fun ogling and petting all the fabrics like I always do when I shop for fabric in person, but the trip ate up most of my day and then I had to prewash all the new solids before I could use them.  

Also for my Paint Me A Story quilt, I wished I had more of the orchid batik fabric that I used for my bear paw centers, and I had to stop and reorder my Kona Snow background fabric THREE TIMES when I decided to add borders, decided to add another border, and then miscalculated how much I'd need for the final borders.  I ran out of the center square fabric for all of my pineapple log cabin blocks and had to hunt all over the place for more.  I've done this with other projects, too -- and WHY?!!!  It's not like quilting cottons are expensive.  I mean, yes, quilting fabric can add up quickly at the quilt shop, but an extra half yard of fabric only adds about $5 to the bill and can save hours of aggravation and weeks of delays hunting down additional fabric later.  Remember that adage, "Time is money?"  And what's so bad about having a half yard of fabric left over?  I only buy fabric that I like, and I like using as many different fabrics in my quilts as possible.  None of my "extra" fabric is going to go to waste, but think of all that TIME I wasted.  We can get more money, we can go out and get another yard of fabric, but we can never get back a minute of wasted time.  I'm pretty sure this gentleman's tattoo is a reminder to himself that he should always buy extra quilt fabric so he won't waste time hunting for more later:


(Don't Worry, Bernie -- I Don't Need a Tattoo to Remind Me to Buy More Fabric!)
If I'm making a quilt, I have the flexibility to change my mind and to incorporate new ideas midway through the project without the necessity of sticking to the exact design that I started out with.  Sometimes -- lots of times -- I make cutting mistakes that require additional fabric.  It's bad enough to have to stop your creative groove to hunt down more fabric, and even worse to find that the fabric you desperately need is now out of print and out of stock.  I have had fabulous ideas that I have had to abandon just because I shorted myself a measly quarter yard of a fabric that was only $11/yd.  Can you believe I would let a lousy $2.25 of additional fabric hamper my creative process on a quilt that I work on for months and months, or even years?  What's more, all of the time I spend going back for more fabric and hunting for discontinued fabric online and trying to come up with workarounds for fabric shortages is cramping my style, slowing me down, and preventing me from creating all of the lovely, exciting ideas that are swirling around in my mind begging to become quilts.  Saving money buy skimping on fabric is NOT WORTH IT, and I'm not doing it any more!  

From now on, for real, I am going to start padding the yardage for my quilting projects, buying a half yard when I would have bought a quarter yard and buying an extra half yard or more of background fabrics, backings, and basic.  There are only about 15 yards of fabric on a bolt of quilting cotton, and even if you're buying at retail, you can get an additional discount for purchasing a full bolt sometimes.  I know Judi Madsen's Green Fairy Quilting web site will special order bolts for customers and sell them at a steeper discount than what they charge for cut yardage and other retailers probably offer similar discounts.  So why didn't I just buy a stinking bolt of the lovely Kona Snow solid white fabric in the first place?  This is what a sensible quilter's home studio supply of solid fabrics should look like:


This Is How Much Fabric I Need
Well, maybe not QUITE that many bolts of fabric, but you get the idea.  I don't need my husband to start telling everyone that I've opened a quilt shop in our home...

Oh, and my other resolution is to drink more wine.  Wine smells good, wine tastes good, and drinking it lowers my risk of heart disease, improves my mental health, reduces my risk of developing type II diabetes, dementia, depression, and certain cancers, prevents some causes of vision loss, and will help me to live longer, so I can finish more quilts.  I read all of this on the Internet, people, so it must be true.  I also read that drinking a glass of red wine before bed every night could help me lose weight, and I'm pretty sure that if I drink my wine slowly, I can stretch that glass of wine into a full hour of cardio and burn just as much fat as those ladies who run around the neighborhood freezing their butts off in cute little exercise outfits.  



I should probably disclose that the scientific study that found a connection between wine consumption and weight loss involved honey bees rather than human test subjects, but at the molecular level we're all pretty much the same, are we not?  

Well, my wine glass is empty and it's time for bed.  I have rehearsal early in the morning tomorrow, and then when I get home I'm going to resume cutting out triangles for my Tabby Mountain quilt.  If all goes well I'll be blogging about my progress within the next few days.  And if all does NOT go well, I'll probably be blogging about the health benefits of chocolate cake consumption.

Goodnight!

I'm linking up with:


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Behold! My First Finished Quilt Top of 2018: "Paint Me A Story"

Some wise Internet sage proposed that how we spend our New Year's Day would characterize how we would spend our time and what we would accomplish throughout the entire year.  Well, the only thing I accomplished on New Year's Day was to bake a new scone recipe that no one liked.  Baking Fail!  I also slipped and fell down the stairs while carrying a laundry basket down on New Year's Day, and that's not a very promising augur for the new year either.  But yesterday I finally, FINALLY finished a quilt top that I started working on way back in May of 2014That was three and a half YEARS ago, for those of you who are insufficiently caffeinated to do math this morning.  

65" x 65" Finished Quilt Top, "Paint Me A Story"
Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile are probably sick of this quilt already.  I honestly can't explain why it took me so long to get around to adding the final border to this top, but I have to be in the right mood to do borders for some reason, which is silly because borders are nowhere near as difficult as sharp little triangle points!  This quilt started out with nine 10 1/2" bear paw blocks using a large scale floral Anna Maria Horner print called LouLou Thi Clippings in Passion colorway.  I rotary cut my bear paw patches without paying attention to the print as an experiment in breaking the rule about how big prints shouldn't be chopped up into small pieces because that "loses" the print, that is, you can't tell what the print is supposed to be when you cut a large scale print into small pieces.  I really liked the effect, though -- kind of abstract, kind of like gobs of paint in some places, with recognizable flowers or butterflies in other places.  I used an orchid pink batik fabric for the center of my bear paw blocks, and I was originally just going to set them with alternate plain white blocks so I could do something challenging with the quilting...


10 1/2" Finished Bear Paw Block

Original Layout Plan
But then I had this idea that I wanted to do wide white sashing and sawtooth star cornerstones in hand marbled fabrics, and I spent some time fiddling around with different sizes, running red dye on one sawtooth star, and trying out different methods of piecing the stars to figure out which one would give me the best accuracy with the least frustration.  I ended up foundation paper piecing most of these 4" blocks.


4" Finished Paper Pieced Sawtooth Stars
I'm glad I added the sawtooth stars.  I liked the bear paw blocks, but in the end I couldn't bring myself to make a quilt using just the one print fabric.  I felt like I didn't get enough artistic input, you know?  Like it was all about Anna Maria Horner's fabric design.  Combining Horner's print fabric with Marjorie Lee Bevis's marbled hand dyed fabrics enhanced that gobs-of-paint vibe that I was loving from my bear paw blocks, and any time I start combining fabrics that "don't go together" (not from the same fabric collection, batiks/hand dyes with prints, traditional and reproduction prints with modern prints, etc.) I feel like I'm much more involved in the creative process, like the resulting quilt is a collaboration between me and each of those fabric designers rather than me just executing something that reflects one fabric designer's artistic vision.  I have nothing against quilters who love to make quilts from all one collection or from kits -- don't get me wrong!  But as an interior designer by trade, combining different fabrics and furnishings and lighting from all different sources to create something new and unique is what I DO; that's how I best express myself artistically, and that's what is most fulfilling to me personally in my hobbies.  I am never content to just follow the directions.  :-)

So once I had the bear paw blocks, the sashing, and the sawtooth stars, I started thinking about the borders.  I started making blocks for this quilt before I had my EQ quilt design software, but by the time I got around to border options I was able to audition several possibilities on my computer.



Pieced Border Possibililties, EQ7 Mock Up
The pieced border options were ultimately rejected, however, because I felt like they were all too busy-looking.  I wanted a clean, fresh, modern feel for this quilt, with plenty of negative space for custom quilting.  And as I was stitching the top together, enjoying the bright splashes and swirls of vivid color, I found myself thinking back to my elementary school art classes in the late 1970s, remembering how all of us kids clustered around big, donut shaped communal sinks to clean our paintbrushes and all of our paint colors swirled together in glorious rainbow streams of color in the basin, swishing down the drain.  Man, I can even smell the acrylic paint right now; that's how strong the memories are.  I have to show you the sink I'm talking about now.  Gotta love the Internet -- I now present to you the round, communal sink from Birchview Elementary School in Wayzata, MN:


I Found the Sink!!!
I apologize for the urinals.  They had this same sink fixtures in the boys' and girls' restrooms as in the art room, and they may have even had one in each of the lower grade classrooms as well, but I could only find this picture from the boys' bathroom to share with you.  These sinks are sized for little kids, low to the ground, and they allow for lots of little hands to be washed simultaneously with minimal wasted water.  To give you some perspective, here is a photo of some adults using one of these sinks:


Scaled for Use By Children
I think the edge of the sink basin was almost up to my armpits when I was in kindergarten.  There's a rubber ring on the floor that you step on to turn the water on and then it sprays all the way around the deep, donut-shaped basin like a fountain. 


You Have No Idea How Excited I Was to Find This Picture
OMG, people!  THAT IS MY SINK FROM BIRCHVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL THAT I HAVEN'T SEEN SINCE 1983!!!  I can't believe I was able to find it so easily on the Internet!Now you have to imagine that same sink in an art classroom instead of in the boys' restroom, and you have to imagine it all splattered with paint like this:


Painted Dumped In Some Random Sink for Illustrative Purposes
And imagine a dozen or so little second graders clustered around that sink, diligently cleaning their paint brushes at the end of class, and one little girl with long, tangled hair is using her paint brush to swirl the colors together in the sink until they look very much like the fabrics in a certain quilt top that she would make nearly 40 years later...


Do You See the Paint Splotches and Swirls That I See?
The other thing that the bright colors and streaky paints remind me of is captivating children's book illustrations by artists like Eric Carle:


The Inimitable Eric Carle
And so, throughout all of the hours over the past three years that I was working on this quilt, as I cut and stitched fabric, ripped stitches out and redid them, threw up different border fabrics on the wall for audition, and considered all of the possibilities of what this quilt could be, I reconnected to a much younger version of myself and to all those hours, so many years ago, learning to create in elementary school art classes and learning to read, to imagine, and to dream from the picture books that were read to me by my mother and by my teachers (thanks, Mom!).  That's why I'm naming this quilt "Paint Me a Story."  It makes me happy.

You know, when I first started this quilt (before finishing another one that was in progress), my then-6th-grader son Anders was indignant about my "poor work ethic" (starting a new project when the last project wasn't finished yet), and he wanted to know for whom I was making this quilt.  He had seen me make quilts for him, for his brother, for his dad, and as gifts for other people's children.  I told him this one was just for ME -- and it really was.

Of course this is a finished quilt top only, not a finished quilt.  I've pressed it, folded it neatly and hung it on a hanger in the guest room so it will be ready for my long arm frame once my long arm quilting skills are ready to tackle it.  This quilt is going to get some custom quilting for sure, and I need to think some more about whether I want to try to tell more of the story through the quilting design.  It needs to percolate in a back corner of my mind while I work on something else.  Also I need to wait for an online fabric order to arrive because I ended up doing wider borders than I had originally planned and I came up 5" short on my chosen backing fabric.  Because no, I never learn, and I always, ALWAYS need more fabric than I think I do!  The backing fabric for this one is aptly named, though, don't you think?


"Slow and Steady" Backing Fabric by Tula Pink
"Slow and Steady," indeed!!  Now, why did I procrastinate so long on the borders?  Because I much prefer chopping up fat quarters of fabric into small pieces to wrangling with long lengths of border fabric that need to be prewashed, pressed, straightened, folded, and cut very carefully to ensure border strips that are straight when unfolded rather than zigzagged.  I have always hated cutting out plain borders, but I think I have a method that works for me now so hopefully my future projects won't be as likely to stall out at this stage.

First, I measure the length and width of my quilt top through the center to determine the cut lengths of my border strips.  I snip into the selvage of my fabric about an inch into the not-quite-straight edge that was cut from the bolt and rip straight through the opposite selvage to have a perfectly straight, on-grain fabric edge.  Then, in order to work with a piece of fabric that is as small and as manageable as possible, I add a few inches to my required border length, take a snip through the selvage at measurement of my border fabric yardage, and then I tear straight across through the other selvage.  Then I multiply my cut border width times four, again adding a little bit for a fudge factor, and then I take a snip at the torn fabric edge and rip all the way down the lengthwise grain.  So for this quilt top that finished up at 65" x 65", wanting to add four borders that were each 5" finished width, I tore my prewashed border fabric into a piece that was approximately 24" wide by 70" long.  I folded the rest of the fabric and put it away for future use, and took my rectangle of rough-ripped fabric over to the ironing board for pressing and straightening.  Much easier to get everything aligned properly for cutting with the pre-ripped fabric than it would be if I tried to press, straighten, and fold the 3 1/2 yard length of 44" wide fabric or whatever it was.

Then, instead of measuring the center of my quilt top and then measuring and cutting my border strips to that same measurement, I now skip the measuring.  I just lay my starched and pressed quilt top on my work table, lay my border strips straight through the center of my quilt, aligning it with seam lines so I know it's straight, and smooth all of the fabric layers with my hand.


Measureless Measuring for Final Borders
Then I use a ruler to draw a chalk line on the border strips even with the edge of the quilt top, still with the border strip lined up down the CENTER of the quilt top, and cut along the chalk line with scissors.


Just Cut Along the Yellow Line
So fast, and so accurate, too!  And then I pin those border strips to the edge of the quilt where they belong, matching the centers and ends and then filling in with pins in between those reference points.  Because the rainbow striped border was pieced from several fabrics, I chose to pin my outer border strips so they would be on the bottom when sewn, next to the feed dogs. 

Border Pinned, Ready for Stitching
That way I could babysit the seam allowances on the rainbow border to make sure none of them got flipped the wrong direction.  Do you notice how my pins are oriented, with the glass heads on the left side and no part of the pins jutting out beyond the raw fabric edges?  That's so I can use my 97D patchwork foot with its accompanying seam guide:

Patchwork Foot 97D with Dual Feed and Seam Guide
This setup on my machine helps me get a perfectly straight, perfectly accurate 1/4" seam all the way down the long border seams, resulting in a nice, flat border and a quilt top with 90 degree angles at all four corners.  Notice also the Band-Aid I'm modeling in the photo above, because OF COURSE my stupid finger has to start bleeding when I'm sewing on WHITE borders!

And now that I have chronicled the finished quilt top and documented my process for sewing quilt borders, I am moving on to the Tabby Mountain project that I told you about last time. 
"Tabby Mountain" by Tula Pink for Free Spirit, Free Pattern Available here
This is a quilt that I stumbled across online, really love exactly as-is, and even already own all of the pictured fabrics in my own stash, so I'm hoping it goes together much, MUCH more quickly than Paint Me A Story did. 


My Ruler and My Fat Quarters, Ready to Go!
I was able to find that 30 degree triangle ruler that I needed wanted, and now that my design wall is FINALLY EMPTY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE IT WAS INSTALLED, I have a place to lay out all of my triangles as I'm cutting them out!  I might have to deviate ever so slightly from the quilt as it's pictured, though, since the pattern calls for 1/3 yard of each of the solids and I have fat quarters of each color instead.  Not sure if I'll be able to get all of the solid triangles out of the same solid fabrics or not.  The goal for this one is to KEEP IT SIMPLE and to GET IT DONE!

Wish me luck with that, since I can't even write a quick and simple blog post...

Since I've rambled on for this long, there's one more thing I'd like to share with those of you who have stuck with this post all the way to the finish line:

My son Lars, who just turned 17 (how did THAT happen?!!) the day after Christmas, and my two Rottweiler furbabies, Otto and Lulu, who will both turn 7 years old tomorrow:


My Babies, Minus One: Lulu, Otto, and Lars-Of-Ours
So much love in one picture!  I could just eat them up -- but that would be cannibalism.  Okay, I think we're done here for today.

I'm linking up with:


·       Let’s Bee Social at www.sewfreshquilts.blogspot.ca/

·       Midweek Makers at www.quiltfabrication.com/

·       WOW WIP on Wednesday at www.estheraliu.blogspot.com 
·       Needle and Thread Thursday at http://www.myquiltinfatuation.blogspot.com/
·       Finish It Up Friday at www.crazymomquilts.blogspot.com

·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at www.confessionsofafabricaddict.blogspot.com

·       Off the Wall Friday at Creations: http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/

·       Finished Or Not Friday at http://busyhandsquilts.blogspot.com/
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