Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumn Abundance Blog Hop

Welcome, everyone! Today is my day on the Autumn Abundance Blog Hop hosted by Bernie at Needle and Foot and sponsored by Paintbrush Studio Fabrics. (Be sure to read to the end--there's a giveaway.) Bernie had the idea for this blog hop way back in the summer and did all of the leg (finger?) work to make it happen. I'm so glad she did. Autumn is my favorite season, so I was eager to participate even though I was a little nervous about sewing on a timeline. I had a project in mind and was thrilled when one of the available fabric collections provided by Paintbrush Studio looked like a perfect fit for what I had in mind. 

Be sure to check out the other bloggers in this Hop. Here's the schedule: 
  Monday October 24: Our Host, Bernie from Needle and Foot
  Tuesday October 25: Hey, that's Me, and you're here!
  Wednesday October 26: Mari from The Academic Quilter
  Thursday October 27: Tish from Tish's Adventures in Wonderland
  Friday October 28: Sandra from Musings of a Menopausal Melon--mmm! quilts

Here is the collection of prints I chose. It's called Into the Woods. The solid fabrics along the left side are from their Painter's Palette collection. I chose Rice Paper, Mist, and Azure to provide a pale contrast with the prints, and a dark brown called Expresso.
As you can see, most of the prints are what I think of as blenders or tone-on-tones. When I look back over my years of quilting, I can see that I have been most comfortable working with these types of prints. And the special thing about these particular prints is that most of them have an added sparkle of metallic gold in them--so festive for autumn. This collection was just what I needed for my small scale quilt.

Now I could hold you in suspense and slowly tell you about the process before showing my project, but I just can't do it. I have to show you now! (Then I'll tell how it came to be.)

The center block is a paper pieced Autumn Harvest pattern by Soma of Whims and Fancies that I won from her in a giveaway on her blog a while ago. I had a long-time plan to use it in a wallhanging--or really a door hanging for my front door. What I love about the pattern is how well it portrays what I love about Autumn--the abundance of everything: rich colors, lovely produce, beautiful skies, and the delicious tastes of the comfort foods we associate with autumn and cooler weather. I'm grateful to Soma for the opportunity to sew one of her delightful designs. Here are some of my pattern pieces with the colors labelled:
When I chose the solid colors, I wanted strong contrast with the prints--necessary so that the design stands out to passers-by. So instead of a bright, clear blue typical of the sky at this time of year, I chose the color of a more hazy sky when the weather is more balmy. We've actually had a lot of those skies lately. The Azure I chose is just right--and I was thrilled that it looked just as I expected it would.  

The fields in our area at this time of year are generally not really colorful. Much of the corn has already been cut, and the soybeans have gone from yellow to dull brown. The produce is in the markets and numerous farm stands along country roads.
I tried various combinations of colors for the field. 
But I wanted my fields to sing with color. So I chose the brighter orange print and the yellow to represent a fields of mums, much like the dig-your-own field a local garden center used to have. Using a solid brown for the fence helped it stand out more from the printed background.

I originally planned to use the orange/yellow/green leaf print and darker green for some of the hills, but I needed better contrast and scale. 

So I chose the lighter green instead. The shadowy print and dusting of metallic gold suggests trees just beginning to change color. The dark blue of the farthest hill helped create some depth in the scene.

And did you see those pies? Yum! Pumpkin is our favorite. My husband bakes the best pumpkin pie using dark molasses. So of course I had to use the darker orange print for that slice on the windowsill. We also love apple pie. Our local high school swim team makes ready-to-bake pies as an autumn fundraiser, and we always buy them. With teenagers making pies, you never know how the crust will look. Some are a little clunky, but they are always delicious. One year, a math enthusiast used the pi symbol for the vents on top. Fun!The light brown fabric in the collection was the exact pie crust color! How neat is that?

I used Mist for the window frame, and finished the center block on August 30.
I was pretty pleased with myself. I was way ahead of schedule for this Blog Hop. Then disaster struck.

On September 1, I broke my shoulder in a fall from my bicycle, and on the 15th I had surgery to repair it. (That fall is now the reason I am meticulously using the word "autumn" in this post. Don't want any reminders of fall.) Recovery will be a long process. I thought I'd have to give up on the project and the Blog Hop. But eventually I figured out how to use technology and alternative sewing methods so that I could continue designing and finish the quilt top one-handed. Good thing I was making a tiny quilt!! You can read about what I did here and here.

First, I used my Quiltography app to plan strips of flying geese around the center block. I first heard about this program from Bernie, our host for this Hop. The program allowed me to even see how the fabrics would look. Here's how my final plan looked (with tan subbing for the center block):
I won't go into the process here. You can check out Bernie's post about it or check the Quiltography website.  When I did the actual sewing I used the Azure, Rice Paper and Mist randomly to create sky with autumn clouds. I also spaced some of the geese out to represent the stragglers that you see overhead. (Maybe the flying geese design is supposed to represent whole Vs of geese. Oh well, mine are individuals.) We have an abundance of geese this time of year. 

I used a free template from Quilter's cache to paper piece the flying geese using a variety of the fabrics in the collection. After sewing a strip of the lovely black larger-scale print from the fabric collection to my center block, I added the flying geese strips using partial seams at the corners where the strips met. Then I added a wider strip of the black print. 

I still need to quilt this little gem. But I'd like to do it by machine, and my arm is not strong enough yet. I do know that I will bind it in the yellow fabric. I will be sure to show you when it's finished. 
I am so happy with how this little quilt top turned out. The fabrics were easy to work with, and the colors and scale were exactly what I needed. I really enjoyed making decisions about where to place each fabric and how to make the most of the contrast. 

Here are the finished measurements for the quilt if you'd like to try one yourself. Remember to add seam allowances where necessary.
  Center block: 10 inches square
  First border: 1 inch
  Flying Geese Border: 2 inches wide by 14 inches long
  Outer Border: 2 3/4 inches wide 
  Total size: 21 1/2 inches square
And now for the giveaway. I was really planning to make a couple of mini minis (mug rugs) with flying geese to give away, but that's just not possible right now due to my limitations and therapy schedule. So, if you leave me a comment on this post telling me about an autumn project you've made or your favorite thing about autumn, I will randomly choose one lucky respondent (I'm sorry, but North American residents only) on November 1 and send you my leftover fabrics from the Into the Woods collection. If you are a no-reply blogger, please give me your e-mail address in your comment. 
You might want to make your own autumn mini. And if you haven't paper pieced before, maybe you'll consider making some flying geese strips. I highly recommend them as a beginning project. You can make one continuous strip, and the piecing is repetitive with regular shapes--a very friendly first project. 

Along with the fabric, I'm including these little binder clips. They have nothing to do with this project, but they're cute and would be useful for any project where you want to keep patches or blocks together. 

*This Giveaway is now ended. Check out the next post for the winner.

Thanks again to Bernie for hosting this hop and to Paintbrush Studio for sponsoring. Be sure to check out their websites if you haven't already.

Okay. One more picture--

I'm linking up with Freemotion by the River and Sew Fresh Quilts for their linky parties this week. Buttons are on the sidebar to the right.

Have a beautiful week, and remember to hop on over to the other Autumn Abundance bloggers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sneak Peek

First of all, thanks to everyone who has been leaving me comments lately. I appreciate them more than you can know right now. I wish I could be better at responding and visiting your blogs, but it's been tough to be consistent, and I'm sure I've missed getting back to some of you. Much of my day is still taken up with therapy, and when I have free time, my first priority is to try to sew. And today my persistence paid off. I'm really pleased to say I finished what I hoped to on the secret project I've been working on. I never thought I'd be able to say that, but as I said in my last post, where there's a will there's a way.

The adventures with one-handed sewing continue. With success! I discovered that I could rough cut fabric into small pieces with my right hand. I cut paper patterns to trim around and adhered them to the fabric with masking tape. It was easier to cut small pieces than to cut a long strip and subdivide it. 

After a couple of sessions, I had all the patches I needed.

It took me parts of three days to piece a strip of geese, but then I got faster and was able to do a strip in an afternoon or evening for the rest of the strips. I'm not going to show you the finished strips here because that would give away a little more than I'd like. But I have to say, paper piecing flying geese was a good choice for this project in my situation. I could cut regular shapes of fabric, the placement of the pieces was in a consistent pattern, and there was no need to join multiple sections.

After I finished the strips, I realized that I would need to cut some longer strips of fabric to finish the quilt top. I would also have to trim the strips of geese. There was no avoiding using the rotary cutter. But I needed to do it safely. (Well, of course! I still have a scar from a slip-up awhile ago. But I mean extra safely.) I remembered that I had some four-pound weights that I had once thought I'd use to build up my upper arm strength. (Ha!) They seemed like they'd be a good stand-in for my left hand. I also had a piece of thin rubber (a jar opener giveaway that my husband got years ago). That would ensure that the ruler would stay in place on the mat. I also used my smaller rotary cutter. I'm not sure why, but it seemed like a good idea. 

Here's how the set-up looked:

I cut very slowly, and it worked great. In fact, I might continue to use this method from now on. Everything stayed in place, and the blade wasn't anywhere near my fingers. 

So now everything is sewn together. I used a bread board on my lap to lay out and pin fabric together before sewing, and I guided my work with my right hand at the machine, sometimes placing it to the left of the needle. It was slow, but accurate. 

So here's a sneak peek at part of the project. The strip on the left hadn't been sewn yet when I took the picture. 

I can't wait to show you the whole thing. You'll have to wait until next week during the Autumn Abundance Blog Hop hosted by Bernie at Needle and Foot and sponsored by Paintbrush Studios. I'm so excited! Especially since I thought a few weeks ago that I wouldn't be able to participate. Five of us will be presenting our projects. Oh, and I heard there might be some giveaways!

See you then! 

I'm linking up this week with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Be Social. And after therapy today, I plan to take a break from sewing so that I can be a little more attentive to the blogs. Click on the link here or on the side bar to join the fun. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Will and a Way

Hey, I'm back! Sort of. For three weeks now, I've been impatiently recovering from shoulder surgery to repair a broken humerus. Longest three weeks of my life. (Five if you count the two weeks prior to surgery.) And everything takes forever to do. My days are pretty much filled up with taking care of personal needs, trying to catch up on sleep missed during the night, exercising three times a day (about two hours altogether when you count the warm up time to loosen things up and the post-exercise icing) and attending therapy sessions three times a week. Since I haven't been able to quilt (or ride my bike), I've spent a lot of time looking at blogs. I haven't been commenting a lot because keyboarding with one hand is tedious, but I am enjoying looking at what others are doing. Luckily, the Bloggers Quilt Festival was going on so there was a lot to look at during the past two weeks. I read (and fall asleep), and when I'm totally bored, I watch episodes of Gilmore Girls. I didn't see that show when it originally aired, and with 7 seasons to watch (153 episodes), I figure I'll be healed by the time I'm done. Binge watching that show can be really annoying (I can take only two episodes at a time--I guess that's not really binge watching, is it?), but I'm sticking with it weird dropped plot lines (and other assorted flaws) and all.

But my mind and heart are really on quilting. After I broke my shoulder, I managed to do a tiny bit of hand quilting using a pillow as a stand-in for my left arm, and a week ago, I tried again. It was a success but exhausted me. I don't have full use of my elbow due to swelling and stiffness from immobility in a sling. (I know, whine, whine, whine, but stick with me because this gets better.)

I did that green part. It's a little wobbly  organic. I'm hoping to do more of it after I get rid of the sling (maybe next week) and get my elbow more functional.

Now, here's the good part. I learned to use the Quiltography app on my Ipad, so I could work on some designing for some secret sewing (that I'll be sharing as part of a blog hop the week of October 24). A wonderful consequence of not being able to sew! And this week I decided that it was time to try sewing my idea. I can't use a rotary cutter right now, but I knew that if I could do foundation paper piecing, I could sew accurately without having to cut precisely with scissors. There was a bit of a problem in that I usually draw my designs on graph paper and trace them on foundation paper. I write/draw with my left hand, so I needed an alternative. It took a little searching on the internet, but I finally found exactly what I needed at Quilters Cache. I'm sure you heard me squeal when I found free printable templates in the exact size I wanted. 

With a little cutting and taping, I had a workable pattern for piecing. Now you know there are some geese in my project, but I'm not giving much away to show you this. And I'm just so thrilled that I could do it. 

Here's a strip, with my right-hand written notations. Yes, with great concentration, I can print a bit. 

And here I am sewing! 

Never mind that it took a half hour to sew four seams. I know I'll get faster, especially if I pre-cut some patches.

I found that these tools are essential to working with one hand:

A needle threader (Who knew I thread my machines and needles with my left hand?) This little gadget helped me make do with my right.
Straight pins to hold fabric in place. (I don't usually use pins for small foundation piecing.)
A stiletto if I need it to guide fabric.
Small scissors to trim fabric.
A brayer instead of an iron to make it easier to press seams.

So there you have it. Here's the front side, which won't reveal too much of my project. 

The purpose in showing you this is, of course, to show that where there's a will, there really is a way. Even though I'm incredibly slow, it thrills me and does so much for my disposition to be able to do this little bit of sewing. If I could not do this, I would be very difficult to live with right now. My poor husband (who has literally been my left hand, and okay, let's face it, my right hand, too, through all of this). 

I'm linking up with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday, Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. Yes, I know some of these links are from earlier this week, but I told you I'm slow. 

Have a great weekend everybody, and sew however you can find a way.