Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rhonda's Round Robin, UFOs, and my neck

It has been pretty slow on the blog lately - and for good (bad?) reason.

Apparently the cumulative affects of years of bad posture and too many looking-down-at-things activities (oh hai sewing) made some discs in my neck go all bulgy and smush into my spinal cord.  WHICH, as it turns out, makes you hurt all kinds of places other than your neck.

The good news is that they finally got from me saying "under my shoulder blade and also near my elbow hurt really bad and I can't lay down without wanting to cry so I don't get any sleep at all" to the doctor saying "lay on this thing for a few minutes a day and cut back on sewing and looking through microscopes." 

Nowadays the only pain I get is in my actual neck, when I've done too many looky-downy things.  I am not able to spend a lot of time sewing yet, but I have been able to get some in.  First on my list is for my guild round robin.  Rhonda asked for people to add pieces to her quilt in a log-cabin fashion, i.e. add to only one side, going in a spiral pattern from one person to the next. 

This is the piece that I received, with Rhonda's start on the upper right, Kelly's addition below that, and Jen's piece on the left.

I took inspiration from the fabric down the left side and decided to make some diamond & chevron shapes (on the dark purple background).  After adding that, I felt that my part stood out too boldly, so I put on an additional section that incorporated the stripes, chevrons, and multiple backgrounds that other people had used.  Then I did raw edge applique and added flowers to blend the two sections a little and tie in with Jen's contribution.

I know I've said it already, but it bears repeating - I love the challenge of this round robin!  It is certainly a welcome change of pace... I have been working for nearly 2 years now on clearing out my UFOs.  Since January 2012 when I declared my goal of living a UFO-free life, I have finished 7 of the 10 quilts that were in progress at the time, and 9 smaller projects that were languishing in my sewing room.  Since the Great Declaration, I started an additional 12 quilts and finished 7 of them, leaving me with 5 new projects in progress.  Even though my number of quilt UFOs has only gone down by 2, it's a big success for me considering that before 2012 I generated new UFOs at a rate of about 3 per year.  Also, my UFO's are getting "newer", which means that they are a better match to my current taste. 

Still, these round robin quilts are a welcome break and a chance to get inspired & creative.  Jen passes to me in this round robin, and her great sense for simple & effective design puts the pressure on!  I just saw what she did for Marci's piece and my mind is already rolling thinking of what I will add.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tutorial - More Birds in the Air

This month I am hosting the Block of the Month tutorial again for Bay Area Modern.  You can see the rest of the blocks on the BAM blog.

This block is a variation on the traditional Birds in the Air quilt block, translated to a 16-patch rather than 9.  This tutorial makes two blocks at a time.  One option for a 12" finished block is to make two sets of the 6" block and then arrange them in a four-patch.

The final look of the block will be like this if you chose to cut your 4 rectangles from background fabric:

Or like this if you chose to cut them from print fabric:

Starch all your fabric pieces before you begin because there is a lot of bias sewing in this block.  I use Best Press and press all seams open.
Sew and trim up the half square triangles using your preferred method.  If you are going for a scrappy look, you may want to sew in pairs.  If you are sticking with just 2 fabrics for the block, you can use this method to make 8 HSTs at once.

 All your pieces should look like this:

Lay out the pieces as shown below, then sew together in rows:

Sew the rows together (it's supposed to be a rectangle right now... don't worry!) Turn the block over to mark the back.  Draw a line on either side of the center diagonal, just touching the points of your print triangles:

Lay the pieced rectangle centered over the large rectangle (right sides together) and sew down each of the drawn lines.  Cut the in half between the sewn lines.

Press the seams, and trim off the extra background fabric to get a perfect 6.5" or 12.5".