Sewing a Gazillion Squares

Carpenter's Wheel - Section 1 & 2 sewn together
Carpenter’s Wheel – Section 1 & 2 sewn together

I had such a nice weekend. I was able to, essentially, spend two days sewing after really missing it during all of my #politicalwifery over the past few weeks. As I mentioned, I had to cut a lot. I just didn’t have enough variety of text squares to make much progress on the Carpenter’s Wheel. I see to sew this piece in fits and starts.

After sewing the cut squares together into 4 patches, I began to assemble the blocks. It takes 64-2.5′ squares to make a block. As you have seen in other posts, I do put a larger square in to the blocks to add interest, so I don’t always have to sew 64 squares together. Still 60 squares or 56 squares, because I usually don’t sew more than 2 large squares into one block, is a lot.

Carpenter's Wheel -almost last row, section 2
Carpenter’s Wheel -almost last row, section 2
Carpenter's Wheel -almost last row, section 3 - in process
Carpenter’s Wheel -almost last row, section 3 – in process

The section above will fit on to the bottom of the two sections I already sewed together, shown above.

I was able to finish one whole section and make a good start on the last section, shown right. I really enjoy making progress on this quilt. I only have about 10 seams to have these four blocks sewn together. I do need to make two more text blocks (like the lower right) in order to finish the section.

Definitely progress.

Working Towards a Gazillion Squares


I had to bite the bullet over the weekend and just cut like crazy. I can’t finish any more of the Carpenter’s Wheel sections until I cut some more background patches. As I have said 3,000 times, I desperately want to finish a quilt top and so certain tasks must be accomplished.

I can’t finish the 4 patches for Step 3 of the En Provence Mystery Quilt until I cut more blues.

I have had some bits of times to cut and have made some progress, but I really went at it on Saturday and spent nearly the whole day cutting both blues and the text fabrics. It was kind of crazy, actually, because I really cut a lot of squares.

I should have used my Accuquilt for the 2.5″ squares, but the blades on my die have never worked quite right. The pieces I cut last time were more trouble than they were worth. I have to get a new die. In the meantime, I am going through rotary cutter blades.

Fabric Usage

I first mentioned tracking my fabric usage formally on a V&S post a few months ago. Peg recently asked about it, so I thought I would write more about it.

First, if you are a beginner, stop reading and go sew. You are too young a quiltmaker to be worrying about fabric usage.

Second, if you are prone to anxiety, stop reading. Fabric usage is not something you need to add to your list of anxieties. Go sew and enjoy your quiltmaking.

Everyone else may continue reading with the understanding that this tracking system is not to judge, but to understand how much fabric my projects actually take and my fabric usage over the course of a year.

I have been tracking my fabric usage since 2015. I did it all last year as well. Having more of a handle on how to use the spreadsheet helped me to understand what fabrics I was using and how much. I made much better choices about fabric purchases and continue to do so. I am not perfect, but getting better and fabric is so yummy that sometimes it is hard to resist. 😉

I use a spreadsheet that I originally got from Pam of Hip to Be a Square podcast. I have modified to suit my needs. Pam has a blank copy of her fabric usage spreadsheet available on a post from a few years back. It is a good way to start tracking your usage as long as there is no guilt involved. Cheryl, a BAMer, wrote a great post about her spreadsheet for the BAM blog. She talks about her theories around it, why she does it and how she does it.

While there is no shortage of fabric at my house, this spreadsheet is not intended to keep me from buying fabric. That would be a effort in futility and acknowledging that fact feels like a victory. I started so I would know how much fabric I am using per year as well as how much I am adding to my collection. I have a good idea of how many different fabrics I purchase in a year based on the Fabric of the Year quilts, but quantities were always a mystery.

Knowing that I used:

2015: 107.16 yards
2016: 181.34 yards
2017: 62.48 (YTD)

There is no adjustment for how much fabric I have purchased and that changes the numbers a lot. The numbers above are gross, not net. I have to say that knowing how much fabric I used in 2015 spurred me on to sew more in 2016. Using a 100 yards is not out of the realm of possibility and if I made goals like that, that would be my goal. Less than halfway through the year, I am already well on my way.

I find the statistics interesting, but I don’t think you should track your fabric usage unless there is no guilt involved.

Ugly Fabrics

Women's Work Valentine's Day Napkin
Women’s Work Valentine’s Day Napkin

After putting the used napkins from last week in the wash I pulled out new ones. I had rearranged the napkin drawer in order to circulate in some that hadn’t been used in awhile. One was folded back to front and I immediately had an ugly fabric reaction. It really isn’t hideous fabric, but not my colors. The print is interesting. It is a classic design. I don’t think this particular shade of pink has really ever been my color, but I bought it at some point in the past so I must have liked it or had a use for it.

This napkin brought out a whole slew of ugly fabric feelings and thoughts. I was especially reminded of things I had heard I must do.

-Buy a little ugly fabric.

-Put a piece of ugly fabric in your quilts so your nice fabrics will look better.

-Sew ugly fabrics as backs.

You know how well musts work with most people.

I went through about 5 seconds of buying ugly fabric. Then I decided that, for me, that is a seriously dumb idea. I am not spending my hard earned money on ugly fabric when there is so much great fabric out there. I don’t have enough money to buy the fabric I love (bolts of Philip Jacobs prints, please). I also don’t want to devote precious space to ugly fabrics.

The other thing is that ‘ugly’ is relative. My ugly fabric might be your favorite color. I am not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like. Ugly for me will be different than your ugly. Buy your favorites.

Also, what I think is ugly today might not have been ugly to me 10 years ago. Tastes evolve. Also, as a new quiltmaker, you might be trying out different styles to find what suits you. You might also mix what you like. I don’t buy many repro prints, even the cheerful 1930s prints. They just aren’t for me. However, there is a blue in the Civil War arena that I love and periodically I will buy an FQ of one print. I am careful, though to make sure it is more blue than beige.

I worked on a quilt called Thoughts on Dots when I was having a big, fat creative block. This quilt was so painful to make, because I was forcing myself to sew. I was forcing myself to work through the creative block.I had a small child who was going through some stuff. DH was going through some stuff. It was a tough time. I moved around 6.5″ squares for weeks. I finished the quilt top and decided to use some ugly fabric for the back. To be thrifty, I decided to use fabric I wasn’t going to use for a front. The ‘ugly’ fabric isn’t hideously ugly, though it is beige. I interspersed the beige with leftover squares, so the back isn’t completely beige and hideous.

We act like we will never see the back so backs can be a dumping ground for ugly fabrics. Thoughts on Dots is on our bed, so I do see the back pretty often and I sincerely dislike it every time I see it. This is why I have used small pieces of beige for donation blocks. I don’t want beige in my fabric closet. This quilt is nearly the sole reason I use a lot of Philip Jacobs prints for my backs. I have decided I want to enjoy backs as much as my fronts. It doesn’t mean that I buy special fabric for the backs. It means I use fabrics I like from my fabric closet. Those Philip Jacobs prints are so well displayed on a back that I can’t possibly NOT use them now.

I also should have realized that being thrifty didn’t mean I had to use that beige fabric. It isn’t as though there has been a shortage of fabric at my house in a while.

My final thought is that everyone should just use the good stuff immediately. Don’t buy it and save it for some other day. That day is today and you will love whatever you make even more if you can see your new favorite fabric immediately.

Remember the Poolside Tote?

Not long ago, I talked about assembling the fabrics, etc to make the Poolside Tote. I know you thought it would be forever until I made it. Angela inspired me to get off my duff and said she would offer advice. Then Tim (both BAMers) said he wanted to make one as well. Julie also said she is going to make one. I might be leaving my two pals in the dust, however, or inspiring them to get off their duffs.

Poolside Tote: outside bag (tote 1)
Poolside Tote: outside bag (tote 1)

I went to a Sewcial on Thursday and cut out one version of the Poolside Tote. I used all the linen I bought and the AGF text print. It was a three hour Sewcial at Scruffy Quilts and I was able to cut out an  entire bag except for the Soft and Stable.

I was kind of shocked at how much fabric this bag took. I don’t remember using up so much fabric. Well, I don’t remember using almost the same amount of fabric that the pattern demanded.

Poolside Tote: lining bag fabric (tote 1)
Poolside Tote: lining bag fabric (tote 1)

The other thing that was a surprise was how loosely woven the AGF text fabric was. It was actually kind of a pain to cut because it kept shifting because of how loosely the fabric turned out to be.

Still, I got the whole thing cut out. I just focused and did it. I started to think I could do a second one, then I realized I probably didn’t have enough handle fabric and I had forgotten to cut the handles out anyway!

ColorPlay: Flowers

ColorPlay May 26, 2017
ColorPlay May 26, 2017

I spent a BBQ in a walled garden last week at Grand Parlor. In addition to the walls keeping the wind out and the cozy nature of the gathering, it was so gorgeous I could have stayed there all day.

There was a whole slew of different flowers. They were all different. I chose this one because of the cropping, to be honest. As I went through the Palette Builder options, I found that this picture came up with a lot of different color options.

ColorPlay May 26 n.1
ColorPlay May 26 n.1

The default again was very neutral with reddish overtones. I am sort of interested in the top color, Kona Cotton Earth. It reminds me more of chocolate than earth.

Again, there are lots of browns and other darks. The Kona Cotton Earth and the Kona Cotton Cobblestone are the two significantly beige-y ones.

Two interesting color options came up while I was playing, neither of them having much to do with purple: dark and light.

I continually find it interesting and entertaining that such differences can be made in the same photograph. To make it even more entertaining, the color palettes above have very little to do with purple, which I see as the dominate color.

ColorPlay May 26 n.2
ColorPlay May 26 n.2

The first palette that I made after the default was more purple, but still reddish and some neutrals.

It is interesting to me how Orchid and Pansy look so similar. Even I can tell they are not exact duplicates, but I like it that Kona feels that two so similar colors are worth making. It warms my heart.

Again, Kona Cotton Cobblestone and Kona Cotton Taupe are more towards the brown and beige tones. I don’t know why they show up so much.

ColorPlay May 26 n.3
ColorPlay May 26 n.3

I tried to get more of the purples in a palette and I pretty much succeeded. Kona Cotton Sienna is the only one that looks out of place in this palette.  If I were using this palette for a quilt, I would remove the Sienna, maybe replace it with something else and maybe not.

The light colors are interesting. On the bottom, the second one looks like a blush pink, but it is actually Orchid.

ColorPlay May 26 n.6
ColorPlay May 26 n.6

I tried again to find a purple palette that excluded that Sienna. I went a little lighter (working my way to the very light one above), but got mostly purple tones.

I thought the Violet and Dahlia were very similar and I like the gradations between those and the Orchid.

I screwed up, though and Oyster is in there twice. Oops. I tried to avoid that .

ColorPlay May 26 n.4
ColorPlay May 26 n.4

I did a green palette as well just to do it. I thought the greens were a nice variety. I don’t know if Kona Ash is a green or not, though it looks green with the other greens.

So, go out and play with the Palette Builder. See if you can make something awesome.


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I probably shouldn’t have gone to BAMaQG on Saturday because I was still hacking up a lung. After Grand Parlor, however, I needed to see my peeps and get reconnected with some quiltmaking. Despite leaving my lungs everywhere, I enjoyed myself and was pleased to be able to talk to people I care about. This is Kelly’s last meeting before she moves, so I was especially glad to see her. It also got me back in the mood to sew and I sewed a lot on Sunday.

As usual, the group has a door prize drawing. Right before they announced the name, I thought “I am going to win”. Then Gerre announced my name. I couldn’t believe it. I am really not psychic and I am very distrustful of my intuition*, so it was very strange.

May BAMaQG Door Prize
May BAMaQG Door Prize

The prizes included fabric. Yay Fabric! Ugh Fabric! I only say UGH Fabric because I am keeping track of my usage and I am in the hole.

Still, it is fun to win a prize.

May BAMaQG Door Prize
May BAMaQG Door Prize

The fabric colors aren’t really ‘my’ colors (except the lime), but the little packet of peaches is kind of growing on me. I can definitely use them for this month’s Color My Quilt. I also have the idea to make something small out of them. A small bag or journal cover or another gift grouping. I’d love to find a pattern that used the exact amount of fabric I have.










* After being certain I was having a girl and getting the YM, my intuition has been suspect.

Emerald Philip Jacobs Cell Phone Wallet

Emerald P.J. Cell Phone Wallet - open
Emerald P.J. Cell Phone Wallet – open

This was another almost finish that I finally did finish. I need these cell phone wallets to wear with dresses that have not pockets. This means that I had to finish a few of them before Grand Parlor. I knew I would be wearing the dresses and tunics, so I had to get sewing. You know I finished the Red Dot Cell Phone Wallet and the Habitat Cell Phone Wallet. Just before we left I finished the Emerald P. J. Cell Phone Wallet as well.

Emerald P.J. Cell Phone Wallet - closed
Emerald P.J. Cell Phone Wallet – closed

I find it hard to determine where the fabric will end up when I use the pattern. On this one, I really wanted to the flowers you see to end up on the outside, but they ended up on the inside.

The leaf that did end up on the outside is nice looking, but it isn’t the flower that I wanted.

The pattern calls for a snap on the flap (photo above right), but I haven’t put one on any of the pieces yet. I don’t feel like I need one.

Emerald P.J. Cell Phone Wallet - closed with phone
Emerald P.J. Cell Phone Wallet – closed with phone

These bags are so helpful when I am at an event and don’t want or need a full purse. I keep my phone and hotel key in it. I can also put a few other small things in each one. I try not to stuff them too full so they stay flat-ish.

The last photo shows my phone in it. The design is such that I don’t have to open the flap to get my phone out.

92 Four Patches

En Provence 4 Patches
En Provence 4 Patches

I am back from Grand Parlor and finally had some time to sew yesterday. I started cutting out a new quilt. More on that later. I also made 92 four patches for the En Provence quilt. This is clue 3. I am using blues rather than purples.

I had some blues that could be mediums or darks. I had to make really make sure that I wasn’t using medium blues as darks and lights in the same block.

I have 74 left to make.

EPP Technique

Recently I talked about using the flat back stitch for EPP. I have been using it and finding that it works well. I wasn’t always 100% happy with the WonderClips, however. It is probably the one time I don’t find the WonderClips gripping hard enough.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch

I have heard that some artists use tape to hold the pieces in place while stitching with the flat back stitch.

I started out with Scotch Tape. It was ok, but I could only use the tape once. Mailing tape – the clear kind – was a little better.

I didn’t have any masking tape, which I think would be the best, so I tried blue tape and it works pretty well. I can re-position it about 3 times before it gives out.

Taping and the Flat Back Stitch - back
Taping and the Flat Back Stitch – back

Still, I am pretty happy with the results. It is easier to keep the stars, or half hexies, in place while I sew.

Walker Bags

Walker Bag n.1
Walker Bag n.1

BAM had a Charity Sew Day on May 6th. Peggy and Michelle created kits and a pattern for walker bags for a local nursing home. I made three, though not without mishap and only with the help of SIL.

The first one I made was the pink and purple version. I liked the fabric combination.

Patriotic Walker Bag
Patriotic Walker Bag

While SIL turned the first one (the first seam is right sides together), I started in on a second. I wanted to kind of do an assembly line and get as many as possible completed. I don’t use much patriotic fabric, but I did like the flags. They are cheerful and a little jaunty.

Walker Bags n.3
Walker Bags n.3

I was kind of confused about the various seam allowances so I did have to rip a bit. SIL also ripped for me some.

I stuck a ruler in one of the pockets to show the depth. It was a little too tall for the pocket, but I am sure they will work for smaller items.

All around it was a good day. We finished about 25 bags and there was a lot of laughter, which is important as well.

ColorPlay: Pressed Glass #2A

Green & Yellow Pressed Glass
Green & Yellow Pressed Glass

I decided that I would do a few more palettes with the photo from last week. I realized that I wasn’t quite done with it yet.

ColorPlay May 19 n.1
ColorPlay May 19 n.1

We are skipping the default image since it will be the same as last week’s. Go look at it if you want to see how neutral it was.

I wanted, first to explore the lighter section of the bottom shelf and see what light greens Kona came up with. There is an interesting selection. Champagne is included and it looks very green to me in the bottom palette. I think the lighter colors, in general, look like succulent colors.

ColorPlay May 19 n.2
ColorPlay May 19 n.2

I really wanted to combine all the colors and see what I could come up with. I had no plan for selecting sections fairly and equally, so I just lined up the bubbles in a row and came up with a very different palette.

There is a certain look that all the colors have except for the Kona Parsley. This ‘look’ seems to make them go together in kind of a 1970s avocado and gold sort of way. Still there is a warmth about the palette. I wouldn’t make a quilt with it, but I can see it as being a successful palette for someone.

ColorPlay May 19 n.3
ColorPlay May 19 n.3

I was a little more careful with my final selections (yes, I think I might be done with this photo and the palette possibilities) and came up with one last palette.

The palette doesn’t have any real yellows although I did put three circles on the yellow shelves. I wonder if the green is reflecting or somehow influencing how the camera sees the yellow?

If green and yellow were neutrals, I would say this would be another neutral palette. It isn’t neutral as the greens are clearly defined, if still in the succulent area.

Go try the palette builder tool and take a look at Anne’s quilts while you are there.

Gift Grouping #2

You have seen pieces and parts of the newest Gift Grouping. This is Gift Grouping 2.0, not because it is better, but because I had to think harder of new things to put together. I still like my first group of gifts, which made me quite pleased with myself. I am also pretty happy with this newest group. I used the same basic fabric with both groups.

Gifts laid out
Gifts laid out

All of the above are in the Big Patchwork Tote from the Make It Take It book. This is the pattern I used for the Sunflower tote. It doesn’t feel like a lot, but as I write this, I am out of time and need to give the gifts to the recipient tomorrow.

Gifts laid out and labeled
Gifts laid out and labeled

You have seen reports of most of these gifts, but I have labelled them so you could relate them to a previous post.

Gifts in Big tote
Gifts in Big tote

Another Paper Wreath

Paper Wreath n.5
Paper Wreath n.5

This is the fourth paper wreath I have made during the last few months. I really like making these, though I find making one rather than three at once is a lot easier on my hands.

This was another door prize for the Ladies Luncheon at Grand Parlor (that was one of Monday’s events). I have a tutorial so you can make your own.