Monday, December 16, 2013

Carried away by Magic

Looks like Little Irish Bear is up to her ears in HST's!

The Facebook page for Celtic Solstice has been fun to follow.  A few quilters suggested using the 'Magic 8' method for Step 3.  Time to learn something new!  I tried it out, and it worked like, well, Magic.  Eight HST's in no time at all.  I always trim each block to square it up, so it was no extra work there.

But, apparently I got carried away and read my note of '40 squares' as '40 pairs'.  Now I have nearly twice the HST's I need for the small quilt!

Not to worry.  I have a couple ideas for using them up.
1.  Pinwheel blocks will look great alternating with the Irish Puzzle blocks I'm making from the bonus HST's that I'm trimming from Step 2. That would make a nice lap size 'bonus quilt'.
2.  I will want my Celtic Solstice to be queen size eventually, and so will need to add borders to the small size CS pattern.  They might work out great there.
3.  Something entirely  new might come to mind later in the Mystery.  Who knows?

Celtic Solstice, and all my other quilting, will be put away today until after Christmas.  We have the neighbors over for a Holiday Open House this coming weekend and then our children and their spouses will be here for the holidays.  Have to magically transform the 'quilting' room back into a bedroom, and my 'cutting table' back into it's original purpose as the dining room table.  I'll enjoy seeing your progress in the mean time, and will eventually get my CS done.  No timetable, no competition, no pressure!  Just loving the creative process, and learning something new every Step of the way.

Monday Linkup for Step 3.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A tisket, a tasket, a little scrap basket

This week's sharing at Vicki Welch's Real Studio Tour has to do with creative storage ideas.  Not being all that creative, most of my fabric stash lives in old copier paper boxes and are stored in the laundry room cabinets.  Um...and on top of the counter, stacked nearly to the ceiling.  Well, there's a bit of a mess there, but we won't go into that just now.  I can still reach the washer and dryer.  That's all that matters, right?

But recently I've taken over the upstairs bedroom vacated by our recently married DD and have my sewing machine in there.  Now, I try to keep the mess under control, which basically I can hide it all in less than an hour if company is coming.  But some things can be hidden in plain sight.

One of my second-hand store finds was this fairly good-sized picnic basket.   It sits out all the time, and looks cute as can be, but it has a secret life.  Open up the lid and inside are my zip-loc bags of scraps.  All sorted by size from 1.5 up to 6 inches.  Here you can see 4 inch and 3.5 inch bags just bursting out the top.  There's even a little orange ruler to quickly measure a scrap when I'm putting things away.

Whether I'm searching for a particular size strip or square for a scrappy block, or have been cutting yardage and have a bit left over from the end of a strip to put away, I'm into the basket nearly every day.  Making a real effort to square up and sort away my little bits of scraps really keeps them under control, and makes it way easier to find just what I'm looking for.  There's a bag for triangles too.  The bonus is that it's easily portable, and I can pick up the whole thing and take it wherever I'm working on a quilting project.

When a gallon-size bag is so full I can't fit another scrap inside I know it's time to search out a small scrap quilt project that uses that size of block or strip and have a little fun!

Thanks for stopping by today for the 'tour.'  There were lots of good tips for unconventional quilting tools shared last week and I'm sure there will be some great ideas for storage shared this week too.  If you have a moment, leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celtic Solstice week 2

Getting a little farther with Celtic Solstice.   The greens are cut, and neutrals too.  Since I goofed up reversed colors and cut all the 'orange' triangles in step one out of yellow, I've decided to first concentrate on the parts of the mystery that have green, blue and neutral.  It should take me long enough just to get that far that the final reveal will be out and I can decide if switching orange and yellow will be ok.  With the yellow reading 'light' and the orange reading 'medium dark' it may make a big difference in the look of the quilt.

Or, it may be just fine.  Bonnie Hunter's quilts usually are very forgiving that way.

So, most of the greens and neutrals have been cut for step two and assembly has begun.  As you can see there are lots of blue/neutral pieces from step one still waiting to be done.  No sewing for me this past weekend because we went to visit DD and SIL in northern Wisconsin.

I've also been working out what to do with the little bonus half-square triangles and came up with an idea.  A traditional block called Irish Puzzle (also called Bear's Paw) will be just the thing!  I've worked out the math to be able to use the 1.25 inch bonus HST's and make a 7-inch Irish Puzzle block.  You can find more details here.

Irish Puzzle

What to do with all those tiny little bonus HST's (half square triangles) from Celtic Solstice step two???  It's a Puzzle.  An Irish  Puzzle to be exact.
Yep, there's a block for that!
Little Irish Bear was delighted to find that the traditional Bear's Paw block is also called Irish Puzzle according to Maggie Malone's "5,000 Quilt Block Designs."

My little HST's are squaring up to 1.25 inches.  It looks like we'll have a whole lot of them in green/neutral and green/yellow.  So let's do the math.

The Irish Puzzle block is made up of four 'paws'.  Each of those uses 6 tiny HST's.  In addition, cut one light corner square at 1.25 inches, one green square at 3.5 inches and one light square at 3.5 inches.

From the 3.5 inch squares, make a pair of 3 inch HST's.   (I already had leftover neutral 3.5 strips from step one.) Stitch 1/4 inch on either side of the diagonal and you have two HST' that square up to 3 inches. Easy as can be!

When sewing the 'paws' together, make sure that your seam is scant so the strips of small HST's fit against the 3 inch HST correctly.  (My seams were a little big at first and finished a little shorter than 3 inches. Oops!)

Four 'paw' blocks make the 7 inch Irish Puzzle block.

Little Irish Bear is very proud of his idea for using up those Celtic Solstice bonus blocks!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A little non-traditional tool

How's this for a non-traditional quilting tool.  Cookie cutters!  Let me explain....

December 3rd, Bonnie Hunter shared this link on Facebook to a tutorial by Jenny Bartoy at Stumbles & Stitiches for adorable strip-pieced Christmas tree ornaments.  Who could resist giving them a try and making a few?  Not me!  But after my first attempt I decided to tweak the pattern a bit and use the 'quilt as you go' method.  My ornaments will not be two-sided, but have a muslin back where I can ink in the date and maybe "To: and From:" for a gift tag.

So, I layered 5x7 squares of muslin and batting.  Then raided my 'under 2 inches' bag of scraps and strings.  Layering the first two fabrics right sides together I stitched a 1/4 inch seam through all the layers.  Flip it open and finger press, then add the next strip.  In no time I had a nice little 5x7 piece.

Then I cut out the Stocking Ornament from Jenny's pattern.  From an old bit of clam-shell packaging I made a clear template so I could see where the stripes would fall. Just before stitching 1/8 inch all around the edge I tucked a ribbon loop in the top corner for hanging.  I used a colored thread on the top that matched the stripes.

Here's where the Cookie Cutters came in.  Jenny's Christmas stocking is adorable, but why not use some other shapes too?  Using the Cookie Cutters as patterns I made these:

Linking up with the REAL Studio Tour with Vicki Welsh, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? with Sarah Craig and  Finish it up Friday with AmandaJean.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Celtic Solstice first step

In every journey begins with a first step, and so it is with this year's holiday mystery from Bonnie Hunter called Celtic Solstice.  My journey will be more leisurely than most, but I'll try and keep a few blocks up to speed with the clues posted each Friday.

And so, without further delay:

Enough of the pieces to step one have been cut to get me started:
 lovely sky blues and rich golds play with neutral creamy whites,

and the first few blocks have been made.

Another exciting quilting journey begins...  Who knows where the road will lead?