Be Free Bees: Triangles for Fiona

As I mentioned in my last post, some extended time in the woods has pushed back the Road Trip Quilt Along tutorial for this week back a little bit.  I owe you Minnesota, and I will try to get that up by tomorrow afternoon.  We are traveling again today, but I hope to have some time this afternoon/evening to sew, take pictures, and write a tutorial.

Meanwhile, I thought I would share the first addition I made to Fiona’s quilt in our free form robin (we had a member drop out, so I am adding second addition to this same quilt this month).

This is what her quilt looked like when I received it:

The first element that inspired me in this quilt was the star that made up the center and was Fiona’s starter piece at the beginning of this quilt’s journey.  The points are composed of a 3-part equilateral triangle, and I decided to mimic that shape in my addition.

I also decided to stick with the theme of bright solids when I selected my fabrics.  Actually, I received this quilt when I was in the first part of our road trip, at my mom’s house.  Since I didn’t have all my fabric available to pull from, it meant a trip to the fabric store was in order.  Oh, darn. 

I drew an equilateral triangle on freezer paper that was larger than the originals, at 6-inches per side.  I divided it by drawing a line from each corner to the middle of the opposite side, and used those lines to create a template for the pieces I would be sewing together.  When I had completed a bunch of the 3-part triangles, I alternated their orientation to create a row that would be even with the current size of the quilt.

While I didn’t use exactly the same solids that were already present, the colors do coordinate nicely with the prints and solids that have been used so far.  And the white in my triangles is the same Kona bone that was used as the background on one of the side additions.

Here, you can see the comparison of the original triangles that inspired me and those made from the template I created.

Since I have this quilt for another round, I’ve tried to look at it with “fresh eyes” for my next addition and think about what I would have done, and what would have inspired me if I were seeing it for the first time.



Be Free Bees: Paper pieced addition for Bernie

The Be Free Bees are a quilt group of which I’m a part.  There are eight of us, and starting in January, we each sent a starter piece off in the mail.  Each month, we make an addition to the quilt we have for that month and then send it on to the next person to make an addition.  There are no rules for the addition, other than be inspired by what is already there.  At the end of 8 months, the quilt will be returned to the person who started it.

I posted my plan for my addition to this free form quilt some time ago, but I never shared the finished result.  The plan for this one came to me pretty easily and I wanted to echo the feeling of the star that was at the center of the quilt.

My addition is the arched portion at the top of the quilt in the following picture.  It’s construction was a little tricky.  I wanted to keep the angles of the center piece, which is an octagon, but I only wanted three sides of the shape.  As a result, each section of my addition had to be drawn separately, rather than making one template to copy for each portion.

I was going for the feeling of a star with my addition, but love how the mirror image on the right and left makes the addition actually look like an exotic flower.  I wish I could say that was intentional, but it was a happy accident.

Since the fabrics that had been used in previous additions were primarily batiks, I stuck with that theme.  The owner of this quilt included some pieces of the white batik that was her background fabric, but there wasn’t enough left to complete my addition.  A white solid was too harsh with the rest of the quilt, so I used Kona ash, a very light gray.

When I posted the picture of my addition, one of our group members said the quilt reminds her of a banner that should be hanging in a castle.

Be Free Bees May addition + the process pledge

For the month of May in my Free Form Robin, I’m working on Bernie‘s quilt.

Unlike Thea’s quilt in April, when I really struggled to find some inspiration for my addition (never fear, I’m really happy with how it turned out), I had ideas about this one before I even had it in my hands.  I had seen photos of it in our Flickr group and had already begun thinking about what I could add.

This is how the project looked when it arrived at my door.

I wanted to mimic that horseshoe shape across the entire end of the piece, but face it in the opposite direction from the one that is already there.  And I wanted to incorporate something similar to that pieces star that Bernie used for her starter piece.

And here is where things get tricky.  If your eyes start to glaze over when I talk about geometry, just skip down past the next photo!  The original piece is an octagon, and thus the angles are 135°.  However, because of the way the additions were incorporated beyond the original octagon, it made the most sense to add a piece that had just 3 sides (rather than the 4 that would be 1/2 of the octagon).  This meant that the center point of my addition was not an equal distance from all the edges.  In order to fill the space in a manner that makes the points look cohesive, each point had to be individually measured and drawn.  Phew!

I started by drawing one half of my shape.  When I paper piece this, I will cut this portion into four segments.

I’ve already pulled fabric and labeled where each will go.  It like the quilting version of color-by-number but with fabric instead of colors!

The other side mirrors the first.  It was easier to do this than to individually draw each of the points on the other side.  I taped my original drawing to a window, face down, and then taped another pieces of freezer paper on top and traced.

Here is the quilt with my paper addition.

I know it’s tough to picture without the colors, but the whole quilt will look something like this when my addition is complete.

These are the fabrics I’m planning to use.  The background is Kona Ash, which is a very light gray.  Bernie had included some of her original white-on-white batik with the quilt, but it was put to good use in the previous addition, and I didn’t think there would be enough left for my purposes.  A solid white was too much of a start contrast, so I settled on this gray.  The others are all batiks to keep with the original fabrics, as well as the additions.  The green and yellow were included from the addition of the first horseshoe border and the others are mine that I already had.

I’m really looking forward to completing this.

Also, since I’ve already posted several times about the process I go through when creating, I decided it’s high time I take the process pledge!

I, Em, at Sewing by Moonlight, pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear.   I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there.

Sew and Tell Friday: Patriotic Wonky Stars

It’s Sew and Tell day!  Go over to Amy’s blog and share what you’ve been sewing this week!

I was originally going to tell you about the giraffe mei tai that I mentioned I had finished.  But then, I saw that Kim is hosting Sew and Tell this week, and well, the finish I’m about to show you is for Kim.  It seemed fitting that I should show it off for the Sew and Tell link party.

Kim is the queen bee for the month of May in my Bee a {modern} Swapper flickr group.  She requested 18-inch wonky star blocks that she’s planning to use make a quilt (or more, if she has enough blocks) for Soldier’s Angels.  While each member of our group is only required to make 2 blocks, since this is for a good cause, I made up a couple more.

The advantage of this larger 18-inch block (rather than the more standard 12-inch quilt block) is that I have a full 6-inch in the center to play with so rather than use a single cut of fabric, I had some fun in there.

Patchwork center:

Pinwheel center:

Wonky star within a wonky star.  I think this one is my favorite.

Quarter square triangles.  I like that the solids in the center make a sub-pattern of a pinwheel on point.

Which one do you like the best?

First Quarter 4×5 Bee Blocks: all together now

The first quarter of 2012 in the 4×5 Modern Quilt Bee was my second round in the bee.  It was my first round with these colors, though, since I decided that *I* wanted to do the work on my yellow and grays color scheme that I requested for the first time I joined this bee.

New colors are tangerine, lime, and lemon yellow on a gray background.  How fresh and citrus-y (that’s a word right?)!  When I have enough blocks in this color scheme, my plan is to make a sampler quilt that will be our family’s picnic blanket.  There will be a pocket on the back so the quilt will all tuck inside.  Maybe I’ll add a handle for ease of carrying.

Sarah made this triple wonky star block from the 99 Modern Block book.  (side note: I currently have this book checked out from our local library, and I’m really enjoying looking at all the creativity within its pages.)  It is very similar to what I had in my own head before I decided to create my double staircase block.

This is the second quarter I was in the same group with Pam, and this time around, she also chose to make a block from the aforementioned 99 Modern Blocks book (I only know this because I have recently looked through the book and recognized it!).

Jess tackled this super cool ring of wedges block.  No idea what it’s called, but I love how it turned out!

The x and + block came from Jenn.  I love how there’s a pattern-within-the-pattern of this block.  I bet it would look super cool as a whole quilt!

And the hexies came from Julie.  I love the saturated colors she chose and the hexagons themselves are really a unique element to the block.

Groups for the second quarter post tomorrow (today, actually, since it’s after midnight).  They’re due to be mailed June 15th, and then our fearless leader is taking the summer off from organizing the bee.  That schedule works just fine with me!

All my life I’ve been searching for trees such as these

Aren’t they just wonderful?!

These are my blocks from the ladies in my group in Bee a {modern} swapper on Flickr.  Every other month throughout the year, one member of the group is designated the “queen bee” and she gets to request a quilt block of her choice from the other five group members, each of whom make 2 blocks for the queen bee.

I was first up, in March, and what sort of block do you think a botanist-turned-wanna-be-quilter would choose?  A tree block, of course!  I had posted a tree block mosaic for inspiration and these ladies really came through!

I originally thought that I would put all these blocks together in some way and make a fun wall hanging.  Now that I see them all together, though, I really want to make a few more trees and turn them into a quilt, something I snuggle and love and touch every day.  Maybe not a large quilt, lap sized would be fine, I think, but still, an actual tree quilt (it will be awesome).

Kim‘s were the first trees I received.  They are big, bright, and full of so many different wonderful fabrics!  Each leaf is individually appliquéd on the block, along with the tree trunks.

Trees are tough to do in fabric form what with their odd shapes and what not.  Deb used a more traditional piecing method (rather and appliqué) on these lovelies.  I think the one with the stack of different greens is beyond fabulous.

These trees from Ann are so fresh and tropical they make me want to grab a fruity rum drink, kick off my shoes, and put my feet up!  The oranges are 3-dimentional fabric yo-yos.  So fun!

When the month of March came to a close, our group realized that 2 of our original members wouldn’t be able to participate, but Tiffany and Kelleigh filled the voids and got these trees out to me quick-like.

Tiffany‘s trees move away from a traditional “real tree” look, which I indicated in my instructions was more than okay.  Her blocks are so fantastically vibrant, you can’t help but love them.  The three trees together remind me of truffula trees (The Lorax is a favorite book around here) and I adore the hammock because it looks so comfy and reminds me of a smile when I look at the block.

I wish you could better see the great free motion details Kelleigh added to her trees.  I love that I get to have cherry blossoms in fabric form all year round and I can’t express how much I love the little girl on the swing.

It might have something to do with the fact that those blond braids remind me of a certain other little girl …

Be Free Bees: April addition for Thea

Remember when you were a kid and you got to have Show and Tell on Friday?  Wasn’t that the best?!  Well, when you are a grown-up, and you sew, you can have Sew and Tell on Friday, hosted by Amy at Amy Lou Who.

Now, I know it’s not Friday, but I already mentioned that my yesterday was filled to the brim with track and only track, so here I am, on Saturday, and the (no longer a) baby is asleep on my arm, but I don’t want to move her and risk waking her before I type this up.  Phew!

I finished my April addition for Thea in my free form quilting robin.  I mentioned on Wednesday that I had finished it, but I couldn’t consider it truly finished until it was in the mail on the way to its next stop.  (Getting it in the mail tends to hold me up sometimes!)  I’m happy to report that it is packaged up and on the way to Indiana!

Here is what arrived in the mail early in the month:

Thea’s starter pieces was the dresden in the middle.  The first addition was the green and turquoise background to the dresden, and the second addition was the border with the drunkard’s path blocks and the white rectangles.

I must admit that this project really stumped me.  It has a lovely, understated color palette and uses a lot of batik prints.  It’s pretty, but well outside what I usually tend toward stylistically.  I took it out and just stared at 3 or 4 different times before I started finally pulling fabrics to use.  And after that, I still wasn’t sure of the design.  Here’s what I ended up with:

My first plan was to use the white space as sort of a “blank canvas” and do some appliqué: circles of random sizes, perhaps, or flowers.  Then I considered creating a patchwork strip and cutting away some of the white along one side in a serpentine so that I attached the patchwork following a curved seam.

Ultimately, I decided that I should probably not overcomplicate it.  There was already a lot going on with the curves and the various batiks, so I took things “back to basics” by constructing some log cabin blocks and incorporating some solids.

I started with the flower print in the middle of the large log cabins.  The flowers tie into the curves that are already present, and the color was a nice compliment.  I alternated solid and print fabrics in the log cabin blocks, constructing them with warm colors on one side and cool colors on the other.  The two large log cabin oppose each other in this pattern.

Along one side, I made three small log cabin blocks, adding additional borders between them to get the length I needed.

When I sent the package off, I included some strips of the solids I used so that they may be used in future rounds before the final quilt makes its way back to Thea.  I’m happy with how it turned out.  I hope Thea is too.


April Be Free Bees addition: finally inspired

With April quickly slipping away and the April 30th “mail date” looming on this project, I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t get this project finished in time.  This is Thea‘s quilt in my free form robin, the “Be Free Bees.”  Thea’s starter piece was the dresden in the middle, and after two additions, this is what arrived in my mailbox in early April.

It has a lovely, understated color palette and incorporates a lot of batik fabrics, but it is well outside what I would normally choose in terms of my personal style.  And that, I think, is why I struggled with it.  I wasn’t immediately inspired because ideas that would work well in this quilt don’t live at the forefront of my mind.  I had to dig deeper, to really think about what would make nice addition and balance well with what had already been put in to this project.

I liked the curved elements in the quilt and considered going that route.

At one point, I thought about piecing strips together like a ladder along one side and then incorporating it by cutting a serpentine along one edge, and cutting away some of the existing white in a matching serpentine for some curved seams.

The blank canvas of the white made me consider appliqué, and I thought about appliquéing circles of various sizes on those white spaces.

In the end, I decided to keep it simple and go back to basics.  I incorporated some solids into the design to balance out the movement of all the printed batiks.

On one side: two large log cabin blocks, built around fussy cut flowers, with opposing warm and cool colors, and alternating batik and solids.

Along another side: framed squares, also built as a log cabin block, with the small log cabins alternating warm and cool colors.  This side is still a touch short so I will have to add a couple more strips (probably solids) before I put it all together.


4×5 Bee Blocks, Q1: Double staircase

I am making myself dizzy fretting over fonts.  My husband says I’m OCD.  I disagree.  Slightly obsessive, perhaps, but OCD is a strong word choice.  I think perhaps, I’m just driving him a little mad with all my font talk over the last couple days.  I’ve parsed out the ones that just don’t seem to work and the remainder are all “good.”  “Em!” poor husband exclaimed in exasperation, after I asked his opinion of my header displayed with 8 different tag line fonts, “Just pick one!”  And I think I have …

I’ve looked at so many fonts, though, that I just need to stop for a bit.  So let’s talk about sewing.  Because … um … that’s what this blog is called anyway, right?

I wanted to show you the blocks that I finished for this round of the 4×5 Modern Bee.

This is a block I designed and am calling “double staircase.”  I hope to do a tutorial to show you how to put it together.  If you split it down the middle, the 2 halves are constructed the same way and it can be put together so the “spacer” beneath the stairs is always facing out or always facing down.  For these blocks, it is always facing out so the block is the same right side up or upside down.  Constructed the other way, you could put together a whole quilt with the staircases climbing all the way across it.  It would be a seamless transition between blocks.

While my colors for the bee are no longer yellow and gray, I am working my way through my own sampler quilt with these colors.  I have the fabrics and I want this project to be mine.

Pam‘s colors were sage, pomegranate and ash on a white background.  Pam was in my group last round and I way, way over thought her color choices, but I had them down this round!  When she chose her colors, she was actually referring to the Kona solids, which you can see in this block (I have acquired both colors since last round).  Sage is the second step from the bottom, and pomegranate is in the upper right corner of the block.

Jess wanted yellow, aqua and gray on a white background, which I think makes for a lovely, fresh block.  Great happy, spring colors!

This is the block I had to contemplate the longest this round.  Sarah wanted raspberry and mustard on a gray background.  It’s a unique color combination and I really love how the block turned out.

I am not usually drawn to pink, and I don’t really have a lot of pink fabric in my stash, but I really like how the green and gray come in to play with the pink on a white background in this block.  Jenn picked a great color scheme for a girlie quilt without going overboard on the pink stereotype.

I saved Julie‘s for last because I was hoping to take pictures for a tutorial for this block as I constructed it.  In the end, I only had time at night to sew (what’s the name of this blog again?) and I wanted to get it finished, but night is bad for photos, so I guess I’ll just have to do another in my bee colors: lemon yellow, tangerine, and lime on gray (sounds delicious, no?).  Anyway, Julie’s colors were turquoise or aqua and cerise on a Kona ash background.

And here they are all together.  You can see how if the blocks were constructed with the spacer always on the bottom of the stairs, they would climb continually across a larger project.  I’m actually thinking about using some of my charms for the 5 yard color wheel charm swap for just such a project!


WIP Wednesday: The List is Long

Lee at Freshly Piece hold a works in progress (WIP) link up party most Wednesday.  I don’t usually play.  But this week, I really wanted to get all these projects out there for the world to see.  I’m hoping it will inspire me to get cracking and finish them up.

1.  I have one more block to finish up for the 1st Quarter of the 4×5 Bee.  This is due to be mailed by April 15th, and I’m nearly there, so I’m not worried about finishing this in time.

2.  I need to mail that finished block and the other 4, which I should have mailed as I finished them, but now I will just wait and mail them all together.  I also need to write a post about these blocks since they are done.

3.  Mailing things counts as a work in progress, right?  In my house, yes, yes, it does.  Because I can be totally finished and then not mail the damn thing.  Seriously, I really need to work on my follow through.

In fact, Alisha, I am so, so sorry that your mei tai is still in Virginia and NOT in Japan, where it should be.  I went to package it up and found that I had forgotten some securing stitches.  While not essential, they will ensure that the carrier lasts longer, and then I just didn’t finish them.  That carrier just sat and sat on my pile.  Do you know how long it took me to finish it up?  Twelve minutes.  I suck.  Anyway, it is now, finished, packaged, and ready to go!

4.  Mei tais!  Five of them!   I spent March trying to clear a few things from my “to do” list so that I could tackle this list of mei tais.  Indira is first up, followed by Hilary, then 3 others, and maybe two more that have been mentioned to me but I don’t have confirmation or fabric for those.  Phew!

5.  This is my quilt for April in the Be Free Bees free form quilt bee.  I just received it the day before yesterday and I have until the end of April to complete and mail to the next person.  I must admit, this is one is giving me a bit of trouble out of the gate.  The other two I worked on, I had an idea of what I wanted to do as soon as I saw them.  This one is going to require a little more thought.

6.  This is my sister Jenn’s Christmas present.  No, not this coming Christmas.  Last Christmas.  The one that was three and a half month ago.  I don’t feel that badly because we didn’t really exchange gifts, but I still want to give this to her.

7.  Jenn’s birthday is coming up this week, so now it will be a Christmas/birthday present. And since I’m so late with the Christmas giving, I did something extra hard for the birthday portion.  The little squares in this patchwork (soon to be) pouch are just 1 inch on each side.

8.  This should be a quick project that I’m doing for a friend.  Curtain tie backs for new curtains using the old tie back as a template.

9.  This is my winter table runner.  I planned to finish it last fall so I could use it, you know, in the winter.  Clearly, that did not happy.  However, it is composed of half square triangles (HSTs).  And there is a Festival of HSTs going around the quilting/blogging community right now, so I’m inspired to pull it out.  I can finish it up and then it will be done ahead of schedule for next winter!  (maybe)

10.  Remember when I started this blog to go along with that little sewing business I’m hoping to get off the ground?  Yeah.  Well, I’ve had other projects and haven’t really done any sewing for the business.  However, these fabrics are destined to be 6 Luna Bags (that’s what I”m calling them): the essential tote.

11.  Another project for the business: a gathered clutch, like the one I carry.  One to sell, and one for my friend Lorae, which I promised her back in January.  They’ve both been cut out since then and it’s time they stop languishing in my “to do” list.

I’ll be back next week to tell you what kind of progress I made.  Speaking of progress, the progress I publicly declared I would make for Amy’s One Thing One Week Challenge was to finish that last 4×5 Bee Block and finish 1 mei tai.  If those things happen, this week will be a success!