Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deceptively Simple - Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Clue Three

I didn't get a chance to start Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Clue Three until yesterday.  I thought easy - strip piecing, nothing to complicated, just lots of blocks.

My three error studio rule was soon enacted.  Like baseball (three strikes and you are out), when I plan a long time in the studio, I work until I make three errors.  I find if I continue on, the next error is usually the one you can't easily fix - cutting a piece too small when you are almost out of fabric, ironing the fusible with the glue side up, quilting a scrap to the back of your quilt - you get the idea. After the third error occurs, I stop and leave my studio for a while - sometimes just a walk downstairs to get a drink of water is enough to clear my brain.  Other times I need a longer break.

I didn't have trouble with the cutting, sewing or pressing - my strips worked out to be exactly the right size.

No, the first error I made was being too clever in how I was going to mix up my fabric.  Since I do not have any pre-cut 2" strips, I decided to make all of my strips 2" by 8 1/2" long.  That way I would get 4 rows from each set.  I started cutting the rows from strip A and B separately so that I could mix up the fabric in the blocks and hopefully avoid any blocks that would contain the same fabric.

A few blocks into that theory I realized I might be making these blocks until next Christmas and changed to layering them like Bonnie had done in the clue post and cutting four blocks that will be out of the same fabric.  Four out of 120 blocks - I don't think they will be that noticeable.

The second error occurred when I wasn't paying attention and sewed a black strip to a neutral strip.

The third error was a double - If you notice the bottom block is reversed.   I usually pin all my intersections and have been doing this set with the rows just nested.  It has worked almost every time - except for that block on the bottom of the picture. I was not happy with intersections - took it apart, pinned the intersection and re-sewed.  Only then did I realize that it was reveresed.  I had sewn the rows together wrong for the second time.

I was done for the day.

I managed to work on the clue again this morning and made good progress - twenty-seven blocks finished.  That is all that will get done for awhile as I am headed to the Hobbit this afternoon with the kids and tomorrow is clue four!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Clue Two or a Quilter's Drinking Song

I haven't been able to make a great deal of progress on the second clue of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt this week.  Several other projects had a higher priority - I needed to make samples for the new classes I will be teaching this spring at Stitch 'n Sew

Open Tote - Beginning Sewing

Introduction to Machine Applique
as well as finish the fourth of the placemats I taught this summer and will teach again this spring,

Beginning Quilting

so I didn't spend much time on the mystery until today.

I am planning to use the third method Bonnie posted in the clue to make the blocks, so needed to cut rectangles out of the neutral fabrics and squares out of the black and pink. I managed to get all the neutral rectangles and the pink squares cut as well as 100 of the black squares.

And I made one complete block - hence the reference to the drinking song - one down and 99 more blocks to go.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I was able to work on Grand Illusion again today and now have 12 blocks completed (along with most of the half-square triangles and quite a few of the rows.)

I will be doing a couple of demos at Stitch n' Sew Fabrics  on Saturday - one on continuous prairie points so I also started working on another small project using this technique.  This is the beginning of a Christmas tree.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt - Clue One

I spent Friday not at the mall nor on the computer shopping but at my cutting table starting to work on Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt. This quilt is quite a departure for me as I rarely make a quilt from a pattern.  Lately my brain has been in overload so I decided to pretty much follow Bonnie's color choices as I wanted to just sew without really thinking too much.

I cut out the yellow squares fairly quickly and then slowed . . way . . down as I worked my way through the black squares.  I have a large black collection - but a lot of it is in pretty small pieces, so I figured this was a good time to cut up anything less than a fat eighth into usable squares, bricks and strips.  My smallest pieces are 1" wide as I am collecting this size for a future project.  

At the end of Friday I started cutting out the blue and pink strips and cutting them into triangles using the Easy Angler Ruler when I ran out of steam.

Saturday and Sunday  I continued cutting and finally finished all of the blue and pink strips and made all 280 pairs of triangles and actually sewed four squares together!

And they came out the right size!

Today between some desperately needed housework (a full house all weekend) and putting up some Christmas decorations, I made serious sewing progress. Note:  the two blocks in the upper left corner are actually finished. Two down - 98 to go!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I think I need to rename my Christmas Cactus a Thanksgiving Cactus as it is always blooming now and is done by Christmas.

I am clearing the deck and getting ready to start work on Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt starting tomorrow.  I normally make up my own patterns - but I just want to be on autopilot at my sewing machine for awhile.

Wish everyone a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's A Mystery - the Quilting Version

It is a total mystery to me where the time has flown since my last blog post - written in July!  I have been busy - mostly on a Mystery Quilt for my quilt guild - Cobblestone Quilters.  I was in charge of our Quilter's Day Out program this year and put together three Saturday workshops.  The first,  an I-Spy baby quilt (no picture as it is not done and is a baby gift - for a little boy who will be going to college before I get it quilted), the second, a Bargello Christmas wall hanging

and the third, a mystery. 

I loosely based the design of the quilt on the short story written by Edgar Allen Poe - The Gold Bug.  Poe spent time here in the Lowcountry as a soldier and this story is set in the area.  The quilt clues where issued starting in May and just wrapped up.  I not only made the quilt out of yardage - as I wrote the clues for

 but I also made a scrappy version.

The blocks I used were Jewel Box, a version of Diamond Bar, and Double Cross.  The "Gold Bug" is the butterfly in the center of the quilt and the baskets are part of the logo for our guild.  All of the clues are available on the guilds website under the guild activities - Quilter's Day Out.

During the past month's I also taught several classes, finished a quilt for my 
Mother-in-law's birthday, knitted a ton and traveled to England for the first time in 10 years.

The only thing I didn't do was keep up my blog.      

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dreaming of Snowflakes

Yesterday was very hot and humid in Charleston until a strong cold front roared by in the late afternoon.  I am ready for fall and cooler weather.

I recently finished a sample quilt for Stitch n' Sew using Kate Spain's Solstice fabric line and a pattern from Moda Candy Oh Sew Sweet! booklet.

I don't usually do quilts for other peoples patterns - but we wanted to highlight this great non-traditional Christmas line.  I used some of the snowflakes in the fabric to come up with the quilting designs in the large off-white square.

The snowflakes were easy to mark and each one was sewn with one pass.  I am definitely using these motifs again.

The quilt is at the shop now - but when I get it back I will probable add some filler quilting between my snowflakes so they are a little more defined.

Now if it would only snow in Charleston (or at least be below 90 degrees for a high)!