Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009


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Shelburne Falling Star

A few weeks ago I saw an announcement on Stitched in Color for a Shelburne Falls contest. I wasn’t going to participate, but then, while shopping for fabric to finish the picnic blanket, a couple of half yards of fabric found their way into my basket.

Buying fabric? Easy.

Figuring out what to make with the fabric? That’s an entirely different puzzle altogether. My mom asked me how I came up with the idea. Honestly? I have no idea. I read quite a few blogs (by which I mean I skim through them while focusing on the ones that most catch my eye) so it’s more than likely that someone made something with stars. From there it’s a Google image search for quilted stars, barn stars, free stars, paper pieced stars. I looked at patterns (free, Etsy, Craftsy), but none of them really seemed like the thing.

Carol Doak’s “50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars” made its way home from the library, mostly for the Colorado star, but when it arrived I fell in love with her Wisconsin star. Heh, I live in Wisconsin, is that too kitschy?

A week ago today we had our local quilt guild’s sew day and seeing as the husband was off, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on this quilt. While brushing my teeth it dawned on me – stars…falling stars….Shelburne Falls….Shelburne Falling Star. This, dear reader, is how inspiration is born.

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I could have done the traditional thing. Four stars matched up with a neat little square of HSTs in the middle. Yeah. I never follow a recipe as written and likely couldn’t even if I tried, why would I follow a pattern as written?

One week, two Shelburne Falls fabrics, four Kona solids, a full Saturday, some Diet Coke, just about the entire third season of NCIS, and countless hours later my kitchen is a mess, the children have had pizza for dinner more than once. Oh, and the quilt is finished.

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It’s perfect, yes? I can’t say that it’s exactly how I thought it would turn out because to be honest my vision before beginning was fuzzy. I love the way things evolve. Mistakes become focal points. Pieces are shuffled. While I enjoy the finished project, I think I prefer the process a great deal more than the finishing. Wrestling this quilt through my domestic machine was no picnic not to mention how I feel about hand stitching binding, but there is a certain satisfaction with having arrived even if it’s a little bittersweet.

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Speaking of binding…I will now bind all of my quilts in stripes. I just love the way the stripes look marching all in a row down the edge of the quilt. Perfect.

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I’m off to link up with Stitched in Color. Fingers crossed, dear reader. We’ll know on Monday (I think) whether or not I made it to the next round.


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WIP Wednesday – A Little of This and a Little of That

But mostly this:

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I added in another Dear Stella fabric to finish out the piecing, opting for larger pieces on the inside of the quilt rather than putting borders on it – mostly because borders always give me trouble. The top ended up finishing out at 64 1/2″ square (just shy of my target 65″ square).

Now all I have to do is piece the back, cut the batting to size, and get it basted. I’m pondering whether or not I’ll do the quilting on this one. When they’re larger than a wall hanging or table runner I usually send them out to my quilter (also known as my mom). I did the same with Shattered, which is quite a bit smaller than this one. My only excuse being that I was thinking of straight line quilting which I think will work well with the top and that’s something I like to think I can handle.

I feel like I should mention a disclaimer here because if you read here long enough you’re probably thinking that Shattered been out for a long time, but we’re on a “I’m not in a hurry” understanding. She’s just waiting on my say so and I’m thinking I like the process a great deal more than the finishing. Not so coincidentally, it helps me avoid putting the binding on which is precisely what I will continue to do once it comes back. I hate doing the binding.

Well, mostly I hate hand stitching. It makes my hands cramp up all funny. On the other hand, I don’t like the way binding looks when folks machine stitch it on.

So.

There you go.

Anyway…

Also Finished This Week:

Quick Finishes (or the “finish it already!!” group):

Waiting:

  • Shattered – needs quilting and binding
  • fleece quilt (pictured here) – need to finish sewing nine patch blocks, need to finish sewing together rows and then needs some sort of binding to help keep it square-ish – but mostly waiting on inspiration.

In Progress:

The Great Big Wish/To Do List:

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From “Sewing in No Time” by Emma Hardy:

  • fireplace screen
  • drawstring toy bags
  • fabric covered storage box
  • floor pillows
  • floral pillow with ties

From “Quilt Revival” by Nancy Mahoney:

  • 30′s Shadow Star

From “Oliver+S Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson:

  • tutu (x2)
  • reversible bucket hat (x3)

From Oliver+S:

From “Little Stitches” by Aneela Hoey:

  • Empire State Building Needle Case
  • Rain, Rain Go Away Hanging Hoop

From “Liberty Book of Home Sewing” by Liberty of London:

  • Sugar Bag Doorstop
  • Toiletry Bag
  • Bean Bag
  • Keepsake Board
  • Lampshade

WIP Wednesday at Freshly PiecedI’m linking up with Lee @ Freshly Pieced!


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WIP Wednesday – Long Time Coming

IMG_1681If the pile of trimmings on my cutting board are any indication, Herbert and I have been making much needed progress on my WIP list. Yes, it has been since January that I wrote a WIP Wednesday post and yes, I did spend most of February doing nothing. Well, not nothing, but certainly very little sewing. I tried to get things going with a rather easy sort of project. It was meant to be a quick finish so that I could get back into sewing after having struggled a bit with more precise piecing for my version of Empty Bobbin’s “Seeing Squares.” In my mind I wanted something like Amanda Blake Soule’s beach blanket from “Handmade Home,” but I didn’t have the yardage necessary for something exactly like it. Time to improvise, yes?

Famous last words.

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I ended up with something like this. If you read the “Design Friday” post on this you’ll remember how I ended up here and where I thought I’d be headed. Simple borders on the top and bottom. Simple. Except it wasn’t. I had wings. The seams were straight on the inside and every single one of my attempts to “fix” it without taking it apart only made things worse. The damn problem kept reoccurring. Tears, dear reader, lots of tears. My brave husband even tried to help me sort it out.

House and Country” broke me. I wanted to ship it out to someone’s house in the country and bury it in the pasture. I put it away for a day at which point I decided that the issue was something my rotary cutter could fix (and it would be faster than the seam ripper). Break me? I’ll break you down instead “simple” quilt.

I cut the fabric up into the largest squares I could get from each portion of the quilt and re-pieced. Only I was still having difficulties with finished block sizes. My cutting? My sewing? Both? After having my far more talented mother double-check my block sizes we determined that it was more than likely the seam allowances. More seam ripping. More sewing and piecing. New sewing machine. A living room floor layout to see what the next step would be. More fabric.

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New iron. The nicely pressed big blocks are hanging up on my design wall now waiting for the new fabric and more piecing so that I can finish the top of this “easy” quilt. Dear reader, never declare a project to be “easy” before beginning. Bad idea.

IMG_1629Sunbonnet Sue still sits patiently on the back of the glider in my studio waiting for the day that I feel like finishing her. On the other hand, at least the binding is most of the way finished. I just need to finish the hand stitching. I predict she’ll be finished in time for Yule this year.

IMG_1684If you remember this slightly cryptic post, then you’ve seen at least a portion of this quilt. I’m using Art Gallery Blenders and Kona solids in my rainbow-tastic version of Empty Bobbin’s “Seeing Squares.” So far. So good, but I still have a long way to go.

IMG_1632This pile of strips is being pieced using Rayna Gillman’s book “Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts.” I’ve been using the leftovers from the Batik Squares quilt I gave to my mom plus another fat quarter I picked up at JoAnns a few weeks ago.

IMG_1690I’m taking the strips, sewing them together, and then cutting and piecing them together in what will one day be my very own Batik Squares quilt. I’m trying to decide if I will stick to the same form as the last Batik Squares I made, or if I will follow Gillman’s directions in the book more closely.

Quick Finishes (or the “finish it already!!” group):

Waiting:

  • Shattered – needs quilting and binding
  • fleece quilt (pictured here) – need to finish sewing nine patch blocks, need to finish sewing together rows and then needs some sort of binding to help keep it square-ish – but mostly waiting on inspiration.
  • The beach blanket from “Handmade Home” by Amanda Blake Soule – waiting on fabric to finish the top

In Progress:

The Great Big Wish/To Do List:

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From “Sewing in No Time” by Emma Hardy:

  • fireplace screen
  • drawstring toy bags
  • fabric covered storage box
  • floor pillows
  • floral pillow with ties

From “Quilt Revival” by Nancy Mahoney:

  • 30′s Shadow Star

From “Oliver+S Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson:

  • tutu (x2)
  • reversible bucket hat (x3)

From Oliver+S:

From “Little Stitches” by Aneela Hoey:

  • Empire State Building Needle Case
  • Rain, Rain Go Away Hanging Hoop

From “Liberty Book of Home Sewing” by Liberty of London:

  • Sugar Bag Doorstop
  • Toiletry Bag
  • Bean Bag
  • Keepsake Board
  • Lampshade

WIP Wednesday at Freshly PiecedI haven’t done this in a loooong time, but today I’m linking up with Lee @ Freshly Pieced!


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Tuesday Inspiration

I currently find myself in the yawning gap between idea and ability.  I’m apparently unable to sew or cut a straight line to save my own life.  If I square up a block, and then another follows after me, it is sadly not actually square.  Great lines, crisp points, construction that doesn’t appear as if the constructor were drunk (which, for the record, I’m not)?  Apparently not within my skill set at this time.  None of which even addresses large quilts and why I should probably re-work all of my current projects into wall hangings.  Wall hangings I think can handle.  Or maybe I should swear it off altogether and stick with improv.

Picnic blanket?  What about picnic sit-upons (and, yes, I was once a Girl Scout)?

So, in the interests of focusing on the things that aren’t currently frustrating, I thought instead that I would focus on the things I do find inspiring.  Seeing as looking at someone else’s work does not require any appreciable skills on my part, this, dear reader, is completely within the realm of my abilities.

Advanced Style – I found a link to this over on a post at Derfwad Manor and I have to say, I *love* this.  Real people and not skinny, young, stick-ish things?  Oh, yes, please.  I am not fashionable unless jeans and a v-neck t-shirt counts as stylish, but someday maybe I might be and if I do, please let me be more like the folks pictured there.

A chevron quilt with ah-mah-zing quilting – As in the sorts of transformational things that happen with machine and thread.  Most definitely.

Beth Copeland’s “Lucky” and Susan Strong’s “STELLA” as pictured over at See How We Sew – Such wonderfully bright fabrics, a good dose of neutral, and more fantastic quilting.  *sigh*

So there you have it, the things I find inspiring today (although honestly, the first title I came up with for this post was “things that don’t suck”).  What about you?  What do you find most inspiring when you…aren’t?