A-B-C Challenge

A-B-C Challenge Blocks, August 2012
A-B-C Challenge Blocks, August 2012

You might be wondering why I am writing about my A-B-C Challenge blocks when the BAMQG meeting was definitely not yesterday.

First, I am sewing pretty slowly lately and I am short on things to write about. Yes, you will see some more book reviews. 😉

More importantly, Rhonda finished all of her blocks. Yes, all of them, through Z. She sent a message to us saying she was done and I thought that I had better get busy. I had been thinking about finishing them all anyway. Finishing all of the blocks will buy me time later. Who knows how long figuring out the &^%$ sashing will take?

Yes, all of my blocks are done.

Yes, there are more than 26, because I made some bonus blocks. What the heck?

A-B-C Challenge: X Quartet
A-B-C Challenge: X Quartet

The first block I sewed over the weekend was the Ninja Throwing Star, according to Sandy of Quilting for the Rest of Us, Darla of Scientific Quilter, and Gretchen (@mafiretones) of 120 Blocks. It is actually my X block and the official name, according to Around the Block is X Quartet. It does look like a Ninja Throwing Star and once I caught up with their Twitter hijinks, I thought their jokes about wrapping myself in black Jelly Rolls and wandering around throwing the X Quartet were pretty funny.

X Quartet was a pretty straightforward block to put together and I like the way the color combination came out. And, I have to admit, it does kind of look like a Ninja Throwing Star.

A-B-C Challenge: Japanese X
A-B-C Challenge: Japanese X

I really wanted to make the Japanese X block that Kathleen combined to make into a pillow for the Pillow Swap challenge at BAMQG for X. I was nervous that the other participants would call me out since the block doesn’t technically start with X, so I decided to make it as a bonus block. I really like the design and want to explore it a little more in the future.

I have been trying to use more of the Zoe Pearns dots to create some continuity in the blocks. I don’t know if it is working, but the blocks, in general, are looking quite cheerful.

Zipper by Judy Martin
Zipper by Judy Martin

I skipped Y at first and went straight to Z. Y and Z are difficult blocks, mostly because not a lot blocks have names that start with Y or Z. I didn’t see any that I liked that started with Z. I thought about Zanzibar, the block from Weeks Ringle and Bill  Kerr that I resized and used for the FOTY 2009 quilt.

Been there done that, so I looked around to see if there were any other options. I found a printout from the Judy Martin site of a quilt made from a block called Zipper. It has a little different look than the other blocks I have made, namely because of the lack of HSTs, but I made it anyway. I like the way it came out.

Then I got to Y.

Y was a problem.

The first problem was finding a block I wanted to do. The next problem was making it. There are a lot of Yankee something or other quilt blocks. None of them really spoke to me. I had books opened to sections on Y blocks all over my workroom. Finally, I decided on Young Man’s Fancy. It has a nice propeller look in the center and I am not scared by long, thin, pointy triangles.

Young Man's Fancy: Fail
Young Man’s Fancy: Fail

I should have been, because I had no idea what I was doing with this block. No matter what I did, this block would not go together. Remember: I am making 6″ blocks, so I am sure the size had something to do with my problems.

Finally, I gave up.

The thing I did like about this block is the outside row of squares. The colors are grouped so that two pinks are in two corners and two greens are in the two other corners. I like the way that looks and will keep it in mind for future blocks. The suggested coloration had the border squares of this block colored in that way.

Yankee Puzzle
Yankee Puzzle

So, I was back to the Yankees. I just picked one, which turned out to be Yankee Puzzle, made it and moved on.

I have to say that my favorite color combination in all of the blocks is the color combination in Yankee Puzzle. That fun pink (may be called Lipstick) coupled with the dark, but cheerful greenish blue are awesome. You can see, from the photo at the top, that I have used this color combination a lot.

After Yankee Puzzle I had one open spot left in a 5 block x 6 block layout. As an aside, I am not sure why I picked that layout. I put all the blocks up on the design wall and I thought it looked good, so I went with that layout.

A-B-C Challenge: Rambler
A-B-C Challenge: Rambler

The last block I decided to do was the Rambler. The X of Flying Geese stuck in my mind as I looked through block dictionaries. I also liked the way the Flying Geese were sort of backwards.

The layout of the patches reminds me of something (a gift?), but I can’t think what. I especially like the way the first Flying Goose highlights the square-in-a-square in the middle.

This block has a lot of scope for imagination, as Anne Shirley would say, I think. I may make more of the for another project, but larger next time.

I have a vague recollection of a car called Rambler, but I don’t think my parents ever owned one.

A-B-C Challenge: Frosted Star Sashed
A-B-C Challenge: Frosted Star Sashed

I thought I would get a lot farther, but the Young Man’s Fancy and the Rambler took me a long time. I wanted to make some progress on the sashing, but only was able to sash one block.

The grey looks dark in the photos, but it doesn’t look dark in real life. It looks perfect. I am considering buying a whole bolt of that fabric.

You might think the sashing is wide, but I purposefully made it wider than the ratio calls for so I could trim all the blocks to the same size. Most are about 6 1/4″, but there are a couple that are nearing 7″. I think it has to do with me trying to figure out the math for quick piecing HSTs. I am thinking I will trim them all to 8″ and then put one of the red dots from the sashing post in between the grey of the sashed blocks.

I like all the blocks, but some of the fabric choices could be better. There are a couple of blocks that I may remake. I’ll think about it and see.

Gift Bag Challenge

2012 Gift Bag
2012 Gift Bag

In cleaning up the fabric avalanche, I found a piece of marginally Christmas fabric. It is a little pale to be a gift bag, because eager eyes can see through it, but I made a gift bag anyway.

This made me think about my Christmas fabric and after looking through all that I had, I decided I needed to make bags out of it. My ribbon can is also overflowing. I don’t need anymore gift bags and the family is pretty well set, so I decided to try and encourage YOU to start using gift bags for your holidays. To encourage you, I will offer a prize of a variety of gift bags in November for anyone who participates. Most of them will be Christmas bags, because that is the fabric I have.

In order to participate you must:

  • sew gift bags. No tape, staples or glue. Any fabric works
  • post a photo to your blog or Flickr (or other easily accessible web space) of the gift bags you made
  • put a comment with a link to the photo of your bag or bags in this post or a post related to the gift bag challenge. Each gift bag challenge post will say something like gift bag challenge

I will:

  • keep track of participants
  • post a tutorial and ideas for making gift bags
  • on or around November 15, I will draw a name or names (depending on the number of gift bags I have to give away) of the winners

You may:

  • enter more than once, but the limit is 10 times, which is about the number of months until November
  • embellish, embroider to your heart’s content
  • use any pattern you want including my tutorial

Rules subject to change without notice and my discretion.

Pineapple Problem

I didn’t get to spend the entire day on Friday on the Pineapples as I would have liked, but I got to spend some time on them and make some progress.

First, I needed to figure out the corner problem.

For Pineapple corners, you need to cut a square in half. The book assumes you have pieced perfectly and tells you to cut squares which are 1.75″ wide and use them to make the block and the squares that go on the corner. Because I was actually using fabric, which stretches and has fabric qualities, 1.75″ didn’t work for me. Below are the sizes I tried.

2″ works on some, but not all. I don’t want to rip the ones out that are too small and I can’t tell until I have sewed them, so 2″ squares (cut in half to form a triangle) are out.

3″: a little too big. I don’t need that much extra overlap.

2.5″ : still too big. I still don’t need that much extra for trimming.

2.25″ : looks too big, but once you sew it on it isn’t.

Here is the triangle cut from the 2″ square laid on top of the triangle cut from the 2.25″ square. It gave me a visual clue of the difference in size.

With the 2.25″ squares (cut into triangles), they work. They have enough play so I can trim them and make the blocks look beautiful. I was pretty excited about REALLY finishing the blocks and putting the quilt together until…

I put four blocks together. Sigh.

As you can see above, the border blocks fit pretty well together, but the center blocks (well, at least the one I finished with corners) are much too small, which means that they don’t work with the border blocks.

What does this mean?
How did this happen?
I used the same strips, the same sewing machine.

The only difference was the iron.

I am exceptionally down about this and truly ready to put this quilt away and start something new. That is exactly what I didn’t want to do. For once, I wanted to work on a quilt from start to finish.

I will add a few more corners to other center blocks and see if they are all too small, then I will decide what to do.

Life in Quiltmaking HELL!

All I have been dreaming about today is See’s candy. I had it for lunch and it didn’t make me feel better.

I got inspired by the QA challenge, “Creative Art Quilt Reader Challenge: “What’s in a Name?”, discussed in a recent issue. My idea fits perfectly into my Women’s Work series. The entry is due on March 1 (or thereabouts). I wanted to finish this project by the end of vacation. I have a scanner, so I thought it would be manageable. I’ll add a little techno-quilting wizardry, and some embellishments to the mix, send the thing off and be done with the project. Famous last words.

I scanned some Michael Miller fabric that I wanted to use (and can’t find more of IRL). When scanning it, I can see the weave and the images aren’t sharp. You can see how it looks at: http://home.netcom.com/~jlapac/WomensWorkFabric6.jpg.

I tried to sharpen it in Paint Shop Pro. No change. I copied it on to paper and then scanned it, but the same problem occurred. I am out of ideas on how to do this except for not using this fabric and trying to scrounge up some copyright free stove and household images somewhere else on the web.

I have asked some of my smarter friends, but if you have any ideas for how to fix this image (or rescanning tips) or web places for copyright free images, let me know in the comments. Your assistance would be appreciated.

To console my tattered quilting pride, I have been sewing on and off all day and am making some progress on Serendipity Puzzle.


I am at a point where I need to cut a few more of the colored triangles and a bit more of the background. I am waiting until I cut a bit more lavender, some of the yellow stripe and, perhaps, some more of the brown before I sew the remaining blocks together. I want to be able to rearrange the elements within the blocks before I sew them.

The progress that I made is some kind of miracle considering the way my sewing space looks. My sewing space is small in the best of circumstances (cutting area is about 2.5’x2.5′).

It has been full of boxes for 7 months due to the neverending construction going on downstairs. This is not ideal for sewing, but manageable. This week DH decided to redo his closet. Now my sewing space looks like this:


I am glad I have a space to sew, though.