Friday, October 5, 2018

Trimming and curves

I'm usually not very good about taking in-process photos, so I know it often looks like my finished quilts appear out of thin air. But I really do actually make blocks first!

In the last few weeks I've been plugging away on a couple of projects and remembered to snap a few pics.

These blocks have been waiting patiently in the WIP box for a while. I had to check my archives to see how long...two years! I made a fairly large chunk of fabric out of science and math themed fabric, then cut it into 10" circles. I set two of them into purple fabric, but decided I really wanted a gray background. The curved piecing was challenging and I didn't feel up to ripping out the purple, so I set the whole shebang aside.

I'm feeling more confident of my piecing now, so I cut the gray Essex linen fabric and set in 12 of these circle pieces. I used pins every 45 degrees around the whole circle. There are a few tiny tucks, you can see one near the bottom in this photo. But I know that linen will shrink and wrinkle, so that size tuck will magically disappear. 

This baggie is full of the "bonus triangles" trimmed from a baby quilt I made for my cousins Nate and Greer. There are 160 of them so I didn't want to waste them. But they are pretty small! After trimming, they are 1 7/8" and will finish at 1 3/8". If I just sewed them together, that's about enough for a doll quilt. I do have more of the yellow background used in every HST, so I can fatten them up a little bigger. But sheesh, that was HOURS of trimming for not much fabric. I'd rather spend those hours stitching together 10 times as many crumb scraps.

But I'm glad I did it, for several reasons. One, I now know that it isn't worth it to me to save that many small bonus triangles. I know someone who will take those scraps, so I'll save them for her. I'll keep larger scraps and do my HST scrap trimming as I go along, rather than save up hundreds to do at once.  Secondly, this batch motivated me to purchase and try the BlocLoc ruler, which is great! There's been a lot of hype about it, and I'll add to the kudos. It really does make HST trimming go much faster and more accurately.

Buying and liking the ruler motivated me to start another HST project. I had a nice selection of camping themed fabrics, all from the same line. I think they were sales samples because they were each 13" wide and various lengths. So I cut 6.5" squares to get as many from each fabric as possible, and used the "two at a time" HST method.

The fabrics included tents and campfires and bears and maps and trailers. Pretty cute line! I fattened up the pile of blocks with some blenders, and a novelty with s'mores, hot dogs, and those classic blue metal coffee pots. 

I have a young man who loves camping in mind as the eventual recipient of this quilt, but haven't chosen a layout for the blocks yet.

And finally, I've been making "Mendota" blocks for Sunshine Online Quilt Guild. These will eventually be made into tops at their retreat in June. Or, I'll get impatient and finish a quilt or two with them first. It's all good, because Sunshine's charities will benefit one way or another. This block is quite easy and fun. A 4" x WOF strip is plenty for the outer ring, and the centers are charm squares. So now when I have scraps that size, I cut a little "Mendota kit" and put them in a bin to be stitched when the mood strikes or as a leader/ender.

I am actually in California right now, helping a family member who had knee surgery. The healing is going more slowly than anticipated, so some friendly extra hands are needed, especially at night. I'm glad to be here, but too busy to do much more than scan a few blogs now and then. It's a nice mental break to see your quilty work, but please forgive me if I don't comment much for a week or so.


  1. It is fun to see all these in-process photos, Louise. Yes, I do think your quilts come to be by magic. That’s okay because I think it’s amazing how many quilts you make. I’m with you about the labor involved in using those little cut off bits not being worth it even though some people really do make great use of them. Variety in quilters is the spice of quilty life. I hope your patient is doing better. Recovery can be such a daunting process at times. I’m sure your loving hands are greatly appreciated.

  2. Well, it was worth saving those little bits to find out that you don't want to save little bits anymore! Those camping blocks sound super cute. As you know, I like seeing boy quilts because there aren't nearly as many fun boy fabrics as girl. :)

  3. I have recently thrown away some tiny HSTs too, they were even smaller than yours! Why it possessed me to save them I don’t know, I threw away a lot of very small scraps too, it just seemed like a good idea at the time but really, there are limits. For me anyway. What shocked me most about this post is that you actually have a WIP, you seem to work so quickly and efficiently it never crossed my mind you would have any. Maybe there is hope for me after all :-).

  4. Clever circles! I’m looking forward to seeing more of that project, Louise. I save all those little triangles, too, but I can’t imagine sewing them all together. I do sew them on the corners of scrappy 2.5” blocks, though, as a leader/ender and let them accumulate. The largest thing I’ve ever made from them is an 18” pillow. Went through 2 knee surgeries with a friend...not fun! Nice you could give the caretakers a break.

  5. I'm glad everything came together well for you to be able to get to California to help out. I enjoy seeing your works in progress. One thing that is helpful with the bloc loc ruler is a rotating cutting mat. If you don't have one but consider getting one, I'd go with a round one. I have a square and it doesn't work as well as I'd like. It makes the cutting go faster, I think.

  6. I agree with Wendy get a rotating cutting mat. Glad you are liking the Bloc-lock ruler(I love mine). Enjoy the beautiful California sunshine, but could you send some our way. All we get is cool, cloudy and drippiness around here! As always love seeing what you are working on.
    Take care.

  7. So your quilts don't magically appear overnight with the wave of a rotary cutter and thread! I have that same math fabric, destined for a quilt for Brady one day. I hear you on the bitty HSTs...but I still save 'em. Some have grown up to be mug rugs, but it definitely is a lot of sewing and trimming(!) for a small item. You've gotta try the trim two at a time HST method I do, no need for that ruler, though it is a good one, from all accounts. :-)

  8. Thank you for the process photos, love seeing what you are up to. Enjoy your visit to California. Your relative is lucky to have you.

  9. I have a pile of similar tiny HST and have wondered why I keep them. Many are already sewn as I usually sew them as I'm trimming them from the larger block they're being cut from. But still . . . it does take a lot to make anything of a decent size. Enjoy your time with family. I'm sure they appreciate the extra help.

  10. I keep thinking about buying a Bloc Loc ruler, but never have, so I'm glad to hear you're happy you got one, Louise! Your circle piecing looks wonderful! I will look forward to seeing what you do with those blocks.

  11. I haven't commented in ages, I think, but I haven't forgotten you. I've been somewhat busy and not motivated to get on the computer. I am very impressed with your circular quilting and as always impressed with your output!

  12. Like the circular patchwork, hope your family members makes a speedy recovery.

  13. oh my goodness, somehow your blog went missing on my Feedly and I haven't been getting notification of your posts... just assumed you were out in the deep blue sea with no signal..... I have put you back on my radar...

    Love your HST's... funnily I am working on some too at the moment... the trimming is so boring but I do it a little bit at a time....


  14. Cutting the circles out of that pieced fabric was genius! I love it. (Uhhhh, what is a Mendota block?))

  15. So many nice projects to see! Thank you for sharing.

    On tiny scraps, I haven't done it yet, but read that Goodwill will accept them. Here is a blog post from someone else about it:

    I looked for Mendota block but didn't find it! The online group gets together in person for retreat or is it all online?

    Hope your friend is recovering more now - how nice that you were able to come out to help her!

    : )

  16. Hello, I was looking up Mendota blocks to see if there were any images online and your blog popped up. I am also a member of Sunshine Quilters and make quilts for Wrap-A-Smile. Love that the net can send you to a person with whom you have things in common. Loved your quilts. Think it's pretty cool you live on a boat. I live about 5 miles from Cape may, NJ. If you are ever in town, give me a shout and we can go to lunch or dinner or something.
    Best, beth Polvino


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