Friendship Cross-X Block Swap, part 1

ESEOctBlocks2013

First, start with four blocks, and plan to send two to Krista in October. Realize that this was merely a good intention, and as you missed October’s Friendship Swap post, you’ll save them to send later.

ESEBlocks_OctNov2013

Next, make eight more blocks and send four to Krista in November, along with the two from October.  (Actually, I made December’s and sent to her already, but you’re not seeing them until our Official Blogging Date of the Last Friday of Every Month.  Or so say the instigators of this fun swap, Carla at Lollyquiltz and Susan of Patchwork ‘n’ Play.)

KristaBlocksOctNov2013

Receive Krista’s blocks in the mail and do a happy dance, but remind her. . . hey lady, send me one more!

AllBlocks_OctNov2013

Put them all together: Krista’s and mine from October and November, plus one orphan block you had when you wanted to start this quilt about two years ago, but never did, so are infinitely grateful to Krista for inviting you to be her swap partner in this Friendship Swap.  Thanks, Krista!

Japanese+x+and+%2Bquilt

Here’s an inspirational photo, just so you know where we’re going with all this.  Every last Friday of the month until we reach 63 blocks and declare it a quilt!

P.S.  Some call it x and+ swap.  Some call it cross and plus swap.  Whatever you call it, take a look at our Flickr feed and join in the fun!

Y-Seam Tutorial

During Thanksgiving Week, I thought it was time to re-post this tutorial from Leanne’s blog, from the Third Quarter Finish-A-Long Tutorials. As background, I’ve been sewing and quilting for more years than I should admit to, and during that time have completed over 120 quilts.  So I’ve faced down more than my share of the Dreaded Y-seams.

In June of this year, I made this quilt for my sister.  As you can see there are lots of peaks and valleys in this thing–lots of Y-seams going both ways (some people call them Y-seams and V-seams) but really, let’s keep it simple.

They are called Y-seams because the V-part of the letter Y usually has fabric with no seam, and the tail of the Y has a seam. I’ve marked the Y for you in red in the picture on the left.  The picture on the right is the other type of Y-seam.  I’ll show you both.

Let’s start with the first type of Y-seam, where the “tail” of the Y is facing toward you and the “V” of the Y is underneath.  Place a pin at the 1/4-inch mark through the seam, and into a spot that would be the peak of the 1/4″ seamline, if you could draw it on and imagine it.

Most beginners want to pin that seam to death.  Run screaming in the other direction.  The success of the Y-seam depends on the “float” of the fabric.

I sometimes will place one pin on either side of the seam, just to anchor it as I get going, then another pin or two along the starting point.  Then I take out the (above) pin.  I want my fabric to float — don’t want to anchor that second half of the seam too much, as I need it to pivot.

Start sewing from the left edge, as the seam faces you, using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Fold the seam toward you, and as you approach the seam, slow down and use a bit smaller stitch.  You are trying to anchor the stitching a bit.

When you get to the seamline, when you are on top of the thread marking that other seam, STOP.  Make a tiny stitch on top of the one before to anchor, but DON’T GO OVER THE SEAM LINE.

Lift your needle out of the cloth.  I pulled it away to show you what I mean, but you don’t need to do that.  Just give yourself a little room to smooth the (green) seam allowances out of the way, and to find the place to insert your needle again.

Re-insert your needle just on the other side.  Then line up the next two raw edges, smoothing the fabric away from the needle and your presser foot.  Sounds more confusing than it is.  Take a few tiny stitches to anchor, then change your stitch length back to normal.

Another shot of my needle placed just on the other side of the seam allowances (which I flipped to the back of my presser foot).

Depending on the amount of cloth in your Y-seam, and if you just feel better about it, go ahead now, and pin those raw edges together and stitch the rest of the seam.

When you are through sewing, clip the thread if it is restricting the ability of the seam allowance to open up and lay flat.  If you left a bit of thread there (pulled it away from the needle as in my photo above) there should be no problem. 

Press, keeping the tail of the Y-seam open.

From the front, it looks like this.

Now we’ll tackle the other kind of seam–where the seam of the Y’s tail is underneath, and you see the “V” part of the Y.

First locate the valley of the one-quarter-inch seamline and put a pin there.

Snip to within a couple of threads of the pin.  Leaving the pin there insures that you won’t cut too far.  If that happens, curse a little.  You can sometime rescue the piece with a bit of fusible interfacing.  Better to not cut too far.  Half of the seam (1/8″) is all that’s needed.

Find the 1/4-inch peak of the seam below, and poke the pin in to anchor.  You can leave in that center pin to hold it, and if you are afraid it will slip, it’s okay to put one pin on the backside.  If you can, try to avoid that pin on the right.  Again, the success of a Y-seam lays in the ability of the fabric to move and pivot.

Just as in the first type of seam, start stitching from the left side of the seam, towards that center pin.

When you get to the pin, STOP with your needle down in the fabric.  Remove the pin, then pivot the fabric so that you can match raw edges.  Move the first seam out away from you, as you align the new sides.  It may feel a bit bulky under your foot, but smooth any excess fabric out away from you.

Here you can see that I’ve pivoted, repinned the new raw edges together and am starting down the other side of the seam.

This is what it looks like from the back. That deep fold is the V part of the Y-seam.

The front.  Give it light press.  Resist the urge to saturate it with your pressing goo and mash it flat with your iron.

Sometimes your seam gets a little jig-jaggy.  As long as it’s not too bad, it will be fine.  I did the same kind of stitching process on this one: shorten your stitches as you approach the point, then lengthen them out on the other side.

A better point.  All of these work fine in the quilt, because you haven’t a) stitched it to death, and b) murdered it with your iron.

You can see one type of Y-seam where I joined the green roofs to the yellow houses.  And you can see the other type where I joined the purple roofs to the sky.

Now you know all my dressmaker/quilter tricks: never be afraid of Y-seams again!

One more time, thanks to Leanne, of She Can Quilt, for hosting a series of guest tutorials for the Finish-A-Long Motivational Program.  (Just kidding on the name of it, but it does help get those UFOs out of the closet and onto the bed.  Or wall.)

A Quiet Week

AMH tote bag

AMH tote bag pocket

After the big TaDa! moment of getting Santa and his blocks and his neighborhood all done, it was a quiet week.  No bee blocks.  No quilting.  No sewing, unless you count the samples that I put together to teach my Pleated Tote Bag class on Tuesday night.  Tonight, I finished the bag that I’d used as a teaching sample (above), putting the pieces together, arriving at completion.

IMG_6050

And because I have a quiet week, and I’ve had a chance to reflect on recent events, and because we are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s time to count my blessings, quilt-wise.  In the photo above, Cindy, of Live A Colorful Life is seated at my dining room table, sewing on my little featherweight.  This was the second year she has come down for our Good Heart Quilters Potluck Event, and I’m so glad she did.  One of the blessing of modern quilting is the internet, the connections we make through Instagram, through blogs and their comments, through emails, and through bees (Cindy organized the Mid-Century Modern Bee, of which I’m a part).

Pho and Flatbread

When she arrived, on Halloween Night, we turned out the lights on the porch and went out for Pho and flatbread from a new restaurant in town.  She was pretty adventurous, even so far as to have the Korean-style flatbread, with kimchi on top.  Later, we came back home and talked and sewed (my husband was out of town, so we had the run of the place).  Cindy’s gift of collecting people and connecting people has greatly blessed my life.

TAble setting

After sewing all day Friday, we set up the tables in my dining room, and hosted the Good Heart Quilters, or about half of them.  It seems it was a very busy weekend, and we were missing a good number of these fine quilters.

Cooked Stuffed Pumpkin

Stuffed Pumpkin_open

This was what I made for my contribution to dinner: stuffed pumpkin (recipe found *here*).

Quilt Night_1a

from l: Carol, Laurel, Janette, Leisa and Tracy

Quilt Night_2a

from l: Simone, Caitlin, Cindy and Lisa

Quilt Night_Laurel

We always start (and usually finish) with Show and Tell.  This is Laurel’s finish–a quilt for her sister.  It’s very tall, so the angle isn’t the best, but as always, Laurel combines piecing with appliqué to create something we all want to sneak off with, into our cars.

Quilt Night_Lisa

Lisa got her borders sewn on tonight–a Hallelujah! moment because she’s been busy getting ready for her daughter’s wedding in about three weeks, and she has sewn her own dress and most of Bridget’s trousseau, amidst working all day.  We were thrilled for her.

Quilt Night_Simone

Simone started coming this spring for the first time, and has her first finish: an apple core quilt done in modern fabrics.  It’s fabulous.

Quilt Night_Simone2

But she didn’t stop there–she used the scraps to create a table runner.  A clever quilter, wouldn’t you say?  Last year, we ate and then just chatted, but this year we ate and then got to work and everyone made progress on their projects.  Next quilt night is at Simone’s, on Saturday, December 7th, a shift from our usual Fridays (the church Christmas supper snagged that Friday!).  In counting my blessings, this quilt group is one of my big quilty blessings.  Sometimes we’ve been only a few ladies gathered at a house for munchies and sewing, sometimes there’s been a lot of us, but after meeting for sixteen years, roughly 8-10 times a year, we’ve all become close friends, and are always ready to welcome in a new quilter (like Simone and Caitlin).

Hello Kitty on Ceiling

I don’t know if you can see this, but when I went to Arizona to spend time with my daughter and her family while her husband was in Tonga doing free dental work, I got to sleep in her daughter Keagan’s room.  I turned out the light, pulled up the covers and was greeted by a giant pink Hello Kitty and the time, all broadcast to the ceiling.  It made me smile, and count my blessings of having grandchildren who like to know what time it is.  Even if it is in the middle of the night.

Santa Backing

While I was there, Barbara took me to a giant fabric/quilt shop store where they had tons and tons of great quilt fabrics: 35th Avenue Sew and Vac, in Phoenix Arizona, where I found a piece of Ann Kelle’s Christmas trees for no good reason.  Ah, but the very good reason became apparent to me after I finished off the Santa top.  This will be the perfect backing (and I got it on sale!).

Friendship Quilt

And lastly, about fifteen years ago I started this Friendship Quilt. At that time I wanted to remember lots of women in my life who had been my mentors, my friends, my sisters and sisters-in-law, my daughter and daughters-in-law.  Some of these women: two of my aunts, and my mother-in-law have passed away already.  It’s time to get it done.  I have put it on my Finish-A-Long list nearly every month, but hadn’t done much about it.  Recently I laid out the squares in what I thought I remembered as my original design.  Holes in the pattern were apparent.  I realized that I had just enough missing blocks that I could gather my granddaughters’ signatures, as well as the my most recent daughter-in-law.  It’s tempting to keep it going, to add those friends who are close to me now, but I decided some time ago that with the exception of adding those related to me, I would leave it as it was: a snapshot in time.  But because I am counting my quilty blessing on this post, from new friends and far-flung internet friends and old friends both near and far, and all those related to me, I must end by counting these sweet blessings in my life:

Signatures

These were the signatures I collected last week, from the three-year-old Dani to the eldest granddaughter Keagan, and all the others in between.

I am beyond blessed to know these little women.  They make my heart sing.

Cool quilt square from IG

Happy Thanksgiving week, every one.  Don’t let the cooking interfere too much with the sewing (although, judging from what I see on Instagram (photo above), things are proceeding apace! (Nice quilt block, Leanne!)

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Santa’s Village Quilt Top Completed

SantasVillage quilt top

After three days of sewing non-stop, except for the time when I went out to Costco to buy vegetables, or the time I took to talk on the phone to my mother and others, I finished the quilt top for Santa’s Village.  (My apologies if you heard the sewing machine whirring along while we talked.)  Pattern Plusses: the very cute Santa in the middle.  Pattern Minuses: the directions that needed to go to about 20 more pattern testers before they released it to the public.  I’ll have an errata sheet later on, when I’m not bonkers from sewing.

SantasVillage quilt pieces

This is where I started this morning.  Only I think I only had one side on the roofs of the houses.  Hard to remember.

SantasVillage quilt_partial

Houses and trees done and arranged.  I’m tired, but I press on.  I want to be done with the quilt top before I stop.

Ocean Waves Blocks Leanne

Oh, and Friday I finished up Leanne’s quilt blocks for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  And finally the weather started to turn from the near 90-degree weather on Thursday to something more respectably autumn-like.  At her house in Canada, Leanne had snow.  Shoveling snow can make you tired.

thanksgiving1918style-thumb-510x381-thumb-350x261I became even more tired when I called for reservations at The Fancy Restaurant for Thanksgiving and was told they were already booked up.  (All of our children and their families are scattered to in-laws or other, and this is just not the year to cook.)  But the Other Restaurant in the moderately fancy chain hotel has a buffet, and it’s not booked up.  Now I can spend time in the sewing room, giving thanks for Santa being finished.  Or. . . maybe quilting him, before and after our Thanksgiving feast.  I used to be a purist, never going out on the holiday because I remember when my son had to work on Thanksgiving and I was ticked off about him not being at the table with family.  Funny how things change as you age. My apologies if your son has to work at the local restaurant because little old ladies are too tired to cook.  (And PS, I’m not shopping at Target that day, nor WalMart, nor any of the other stores who are open that day.  I do have my limits. . . and my inconconsistencies.)

Leftovers

When you are this tired, it’s good to trim the HSTs leftover from the roofs, and start playing around.  It’s good to have a piecing marathon behind me as on Monday, papers come in, and on Tuesday, I teach my class on the Pleated Tote at Bluebird Quilts (our LQS), and I need to make samples on how to easily make a zipper pocket in the lining.  I loved teaching the last class there and am looking forward to this one.

Happy Sewing!

Some Friday Finishes

Christmas Trees

Working on some Christmas Trees to go around this guy:

Santa Quilt center

I finished up the center, bordered it with red, and arranged and sewed the blocks from my bee-mates in the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  I think they look swell.

Cross-X Blocks_1

Krista invited me to the Friendship Cross-X block swap.  Or + and x.  or X and +.  So many names for the same block.

Cross-X Blocks_2

IMG_6144

After hours of listening, I have one more hour to go on Catherine the Great. I’m glad I learned about her and her times, but it is a loooong book to listen to.

MCM Bee Rene block

Finished Rene’s block for our Mid-Century Modern Bee for November.  I just realized I forgot to make the signature block (we do one of those for all our blocks, and send it to our bee-mate), so I’ll be slicing open the envelope and sliding it in before I head to the post office today.  She used *this* tutorial; these are fun and easy.  Another for the I Need to Make That list.

I noticed it’s getting harder and harder to carve out some uninterrupted time in the sewing room, so yesterday’s long day was very welcome.  So many things I want to do, people I want to be with, traveling I want to do, and grandchildren I want to see.  I was able to help my daughter’s oldest children sew a small project (a sleeping bag for a stuffed animal).  I’ll leave you with Riley doing his first stitches:

Okay, back to the sewing.  Today is partly errands, mostly sewing, which should continue through the weekend.  Monday?  The re-grading of the (shockingly bad) second essay.  Yep.  I made them all re-do it, so now I get to regrade it.  Now I know I’m nuts.