Mar 26, 2015

March BOM - Fruit Basket

Oh! The joys of the creative process!  

The March BOM brought new techniques and things to learn, but the main thing is that I was finally able to enjoy every step.

The main new challenge for this block was the handle. Yup! Another first time for me... applique on a quilt block. I took as long as I could and decided to be extra careful to enjoy every part of the process, stitch by stitch...  

It is amazing what a bias cut can do! It was almost as if the fabric laid on top of the triangle by itself.  And yes, I thought that a picture with a bunch of pins would look cute... lol

I had fun making this block! Finally! FUN with this 2015 BOM that has pushed me to quilting limits I didn't know existed...

You know I use my machine to sew, but let's admit it - there is something quite special about hand sewing. To be honest, I'm probably so excited because it's only one handle and not the whole quilt! 

Tada! Handle attached and pointy triangles!  :)

By this point, I was already happy dancing... All of those points, matching seams and intersections matching made me feel like a quilting "big girl." LOL

After so many ups and downs with the previous blocks, I was elated to complete one without questioning every single step (and understanding what I was supposed to do), and my first bias fabric applique on a quilt block. I love it! Ah! The marvels of the learning process!

With a picture that feels like a diploma, here are the first four blocks:

It's interesting; I feel this... feeling (lol...) that could be described more as a big sense of accomplishment wrapping around me while leaning back on the chair, with my hands behind my back and legs stretched out! Nice! Just that... Smile...

Stay blessed,


Mar 23, 2015

A bundle of... something...

One friend told me he had something for me. Months went by and by, and one day, he finally said something like: "I got something for you. I put it on your desk. It's the bundle I told you about. The one this old lady had at a garage sale and it ended up in the attic, in a box with other bundles."

So, this is it!

What a fantastic surprise!  

A bundle of "precuts" all the way from around the 40s! (If my friend's estimates are right.)

Some of the pieces were still kept together by color; somebody made sure that they stayed together by sewing through all of them, and making two knots - one at each end.

The most amazing thing is that all the pieces actually stayed together and did not fray that much.  I mean, these have survived at least 60 years! It's almost impossible to grasp...

Among all the little bundles were two units of what seemed to be a flower garden. No pattern and most pieces cut in the same fashion, like a kite. Some were not evenly cut; there seemed to be a lot of one color and very few of another one.

With the thought of years and years of survival, somebody's hands carefully preparing a project and even leftover fabric, began the search for a crafty idea to give these precious pieces of fabric a final home...

How to be respectful of somebody's plans for this little bundle? How much of myself can I put it in? (Sigh!) What a wonderful opportunity to create and enjoy such a treasured piece of the past!

This makes me think of my sweet niece, Yoyo, when she blew a bunch of kisses into a purse, right before I looked at it. It was my Christmas gift. Her kisses touch my heart and fill me with joy. She reminds me of grandma, too. Her love and dedication would touch every single project she worked on.

With the thoughts of my Tita's hands preparing things to start sewing, my mind flutters away and dives into research. Hopefully, I can come up with something that conveys my gratefulness and celebrates heritage... Wow! Big words!

What yould you do?

Stay blessed,


Mar 13, 2015

2015 Craftsy BOM Ash Basket - TIPS!!

Hi there!

First of all, thank you for all the sweet e-mails you have sent!  :)  

I am far from being an experienced quilter, but I am so glad that my struggles have provided valuable lessons that I can share with all of you!

Per your requests, I would like to post a bit more about the February BOM Ash Basket templates. This block is part of the 2015 Craftsy BOM, and it's proving to be an interesting challenge. Even if I started a bit bumpy, things are taking shape and my piecing has seen the benefits - YAY!! That's exactly what I wanted.  Baskets are not my quilting cup of tea, but I knew that I had to go way outside my comfort zone if I wanted to improve.

Because of my inexperience with templates, I was having issues constructing the blocks because I was trying to match the edges of the cut pieces. In the next picture, you can see that either side of the triangle (the sides forming a 90o angle) was too long.

Here is another way of looking at the issue. I didn't include the following two pictures in my previous post; my poor mat has been beaten and worn, and I should have snapped this in the other corner.  Alas! Let it all be for the sake of us expert quilters-in-progress!

See the following picture? Well, that's exactly what I was trying to do with the fabric. There is a bit of the template 3D that goes beyond template 3A.

Ignore that, and focus on the inner seams. See!! Perfect match!!

And that's what started it all! I continued playing with the rest of the templates, and surprise, surprise... It works!

I was wondering about the rest of the block, so I used some of the cut fabric to sort of "see" the finished block. Now, see the brown fabric in the middle? It is actually a trapezoid, but the black fabric on top makes it difficult to see the whole piece. I know, it looks veeeery weird... And when you begin opening the pieces after sewing, everything turns even more weird...

Again, focus on the seam; try to not see the edges of the fabric or the weirdness...  

If you don't worry (at least not too much) about the edges of the pieces, you will have a NICE end result! 

Enjoy the learning process!! Believe me, Ash Basket will NOT be the only block that will reap the benefits of precise piecing, no matter which your quilting cup of tea is...  :)

Stay blessed and keep working on that Ash Block! 


Feb 28, 2015

Intersections make the piecing!

February has come and gone and now says good-bye with a beautiful snowy day; I was able to finally wrap up my February quilting homework. Well, I gave myself until the last day of February to post the second February block for the 2015 Craftsy BOM, Ash Basket.

Everything started as usual, in my crazy and year-long attempt to learn new techniques and widen my quilting knowledge - and hopefully, some skills as well!  :)

After cutting and double checking fabric and templates, ...

... I saw that some units didn't seem to match. Instead of tackling the issue, I jumped ahead and whipped these little guys:

Well, I indeed jumped... And far... And not very well... I did not understand a part of the instructions and, instead of verifying information, I went happily to the sewing machine and iron.

But when I started putting it all together, I realized I needed something like the pieced triangles on the bottom of the following picture, not a half-square triangle... (To myself: "Really? It's just a simple instruction, follow it, for once!")

Rip, rip, rip... Cut *right on a second pass, sew, iron, and... They don't fit!

Double check... They don't fit! And nothing else does!

Yes, that was my experience with Ash Basket, and I thought hard trying to figure out what went wrong.  Did I trace the template well? Did I check the printer settings were not changing the printing ratio? Did I cut the fabric well? Man! I even remembered having the same feeling when making the last block!

I was not about to cut more of that -limited- fabric I have, so I decided to research. I went to the class and did not feel that bad when I realized that a lot of people were frustrated because they were having the same problem. However, I also saw that some had been able to finish, and there were some brave ladies that even said that the templates were... perfect! Perfect? Really?

This was a major frustration issue - I had no idea what I was doing wrong and I was not finding useful information in the class. I tried to find information in the internet, blogs, and even library books, but every attempt to figure this block out seemed fruitless. 

I watched the class video again and again, and I couldn't find anything that would shed any light... at all!!  (Big sigh.) (It is actually a good sigh.)

There was only one thing that kept fluttering in my head, and coming back when I was trying to write an e-mail, during a client meeting, at lunch, and even when making dinner one day... The points in the templates... The templates have points... I went to a craft store and look at templates; blouses, skirts, points, points, points...

And then, it happened... Eureka! I was able to see what matters:

The templates clearly show it! None (or practically none) of the pieces of fabric has matching edges with another one; what matches is the seam! 

Up to now, I had always matched intersecting seams and cut units, starting generally by matching the middle of two cuts. Well, when I realized that I had to go deeper this time... To the 1/4" seam intersection - the actual seam! It also dawned on me why so many commercial templates have holes in them - to mark the intersections! I finally got it!

At this point, I even got Mr. Fuzz and told him all about the points, the templates, the seams, the edges that would not match, all the while I'm moving the templates and remaking what you see in the picture above. It was awesome! 

OK, if you have been quilting for a while, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, but it took me a while to actually "see" the complexity of quilting. That's what makes an art quilt - precisely pieced units and matching intersections. WOW! It took me a major roadblock and a simple basket to advance a leap when it comes to the understanding and appreciation of the beauty and art of quilting.

But to finish this block, I was not about to buy a set of marking templates, but I did go ahead and marked all the 1/4" seams in each piece, like so:

... and instead of trying to match edges, I made sure to pin the exact places where the 1/4" seams intersect, and little by little, precise shapes started to emerge.

I almost started happy dancing when I saw that triangle tip touching the horizontal fabric... I knew I finally was on the right track! 

Ah! That second of satisfaction when seeing precise points and piecing well done!

And (drum roll, please) here is: Ash Basket!

Oh man! I have so much more to learn!

After so long figuring out each piece and intricacy, I feel accomplished. It's almost as if I had advanced to the next quilting level, whatever that is...

Once more, an opportunity to learn and grow in so many ways. Yes, there is the aspect of the piecing technique, but just stop and think for a second - how many opportunities like this one come along our way.  It's up to us to make the most out of them!

Stay blessed,


Feb 21, 2015

You write, You doodle, You fidget... I sew!!

Yup! I sew!  

When 2015 started and I turned back and realized that I was not very productive in the crafty sort of way, I decided to look for even the smallest of opportunities to get my hands busy...

Well, I found a perfect moment to do so... Meetings! Well, conference calls and webinars, and any other job gathering when the door to my office is closed and I get a bit of privacy. 

Meetings? Yes, meetings! Those conversations that could go on and on and on... If you look around, you may get a glimpse of someone fidgeting with their pen, doodling, counting tiles and even yawning. But not in my office! In my corner of the woods, where most meetings are conference calls, the results are a bit different...

Well, remember me starting these hexagon paper pieced units without giving too much thought to them?  It was, once more, a project born out of the curiosity of trying a new technique and experimenting that exciting and powerful moment of creating something new and different, seeing for the first time how a shape comes together and enjoying a second of satisfaction after seeing the results...

Well, little by little, over several weeks and months, I ended up covering all of the 200 paper hexies in scraps. Meetings went by, with the usual notes, ideas and commitments, but now, there is another witness to productivity:

Man! And just think of all the past meetings I could have done this... lol  Yes, to all of those you wondering out there, my boss knows I do this and she finds it fascinating that I even remember more details of the meetings I was working on those. It is actually kind of weird; I see some of the stitches, seams and turns, and I can remember what people were saying, and even the tone of their voices...

Well, I must say that if we are talking figures or any other details requiring my whole attention, the needle and thread sometimes don't even come out of the little tin box where they patiently await for the next conference call. For those, it's the color markers and mind maps that start showing up!

Hey, you can't deny that meetings have now taking a fascinating route!  :)

Stay blessed,


Feb 8, 2015

Reservations, reservations, reservations and a Fruit Basket.

For some weird reason, I don't read instructions. My head believes that manuals and even recipes are there to find out stuff when there is an extra nut, or if the whatever I'm working with is not doing what I was expecting it to do.

Well... Remember the beautiful fabric kit I got last month?

It turns out that the instructions included guidelines for reservations... Yes, RESERVATIONS and I had already cut fabric and finished a block!!

In a frenesi, I set up to cut fabric, and after a deep, deep, DEEP breath, I go ahead and slash...

Scary moment and scary sight - the beautiful border print in different pieces and even scraps, after the rotary cutter visited it last month... I guess this will be another lesson learned... READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!! 

Well, here are my reserved cuts; well, the ones that would fit on the table... And just in case, I decided to label them for future reference, in case I get cutter-happy.

And, just because I was in the cutting train, I ended up cutting fabric for the first February BOM, A Fruit Basket.

I was a bit concerned to be working with the units and bias edges, so I tried to be extra careful with placement and sewing order.

A happy sight! Matching seams!

Here lies the secret... Pins everywhere! I used to hate pinning, but when it comes to matching seams, they are like my best friends.  I even pin away from the seam line, to make sure that fabric won't shift (see the pin to the left, securing the tip of the triangle?).

Looks good!

I pressed all seams open to reduce bulk, and when I flipped the piece, I was really excited that even the seams in the back showed the matches! Woohoo!!

I went ahead and continued with the rest of the patches...

And here (next picture) WERE all the pieces ready to be put together... 

Yes... WERE...  See the basket rim? Man! I swear that templates and I don't understand each other. I checked the printing settings, the needle, the ruler, the template, and everything seemed to be OK. Even after checking the other patches, it was evident that they would fit, were it not for a funky, shorter basket rim... 

At this point, I'm better at cutting fabric directly, so with a little voice in my head reminding me that I've got a kit, that the fabric in front of me is not endless, that I just reserved, reserved, reserved... (Big bravery displayed) I went ahead and cut a second rim.

Oh, and by the way... Did you notice that I sewed all the HST wrong? Major disappointment - I was not smart enough to sew the patches in the right direction... 

Soooo... after ripping, sewing, more ripping, more sewing and figuring out a way of squaring this little basket, I reserve it's right to be pictured on the carpet!

Ha! I feel like I threw a huge tantrum, but the low battery in the camera helped me decide... I guess it was just a life moment. I'm not completely happy with the results, particularly because of the top rim.  I like the points. At least, I got those down... 

Alas! This was supposed to be a learning experience, right? So, I'd better remember this and get an extra dose of patience for the second February block, an Ash Basket. I must confess I'm dreading a bit all of those bias edges, but I won't run away from a good challenge. Pins and starch are good friends, and something tells me I'm getting too attached to those.

The best thing though is that I've learned that my face wears my quilting experience... My husband just used the last three minutes or so and went on and on about what I was typing. He nailed it, lol  

"And yes, quilting makes me grumpy! Ripping makes me grumpy! And now I want to blog all about it because I'm grumpy!" He is pacing up and down the playroom and using a funny voice to say the above... I love him to pieces! He is able to make me smile - always on time, always unexpectedly, and always when needed.

Well, a new block, a new lesson and a smile! And smiles have no reservations!



Jan 30, 2015

Terminal Bee

... or the story of a curious child who went out to see the flowers.

An unexpected sight... Curiosity... Action... A happy moment!

All of these is Terminal Bee. 

(I guess that at this point, I should confess that this wall hanging was finished last year, in June, for the MQG challenge... (Big sigh!) Life went on, remember? And in the middle of the every day needs, I missed the draft that had been waiting so patiently for me to give it a final read and click "Publish." Well, it´s a 2014 finish published in 2015, but it´s still a happy quilt and I can´t wait another second to share it with all of you!)

So here it is... Terminal Bee!!

Terminal Bee is the wall hanging I made for the MQG challenge last year. The fabric was gorgeous and there was this one print with a yellow background and pretty huge flowers begging to be showcased.

However, I really wanted to experiment with geese, so I decided to make one goose with each of the prints; after arranging them in a long line, my husband walked by and said something like: "Look! Like the lines in the airport!" My head went  like: "Airport?!?! Really?!?! Men!" Well, scratch the "Men!" lol...

Anyway, I prepared the print and decided that the wall hanging was going to be a field of flowers with geese flying by. It just didn´t look right and seemed to be unbalanced. That´s when the idea of a curious goose spotting something and exploring came to my mind. "Hmmm... not quite... I need seeds flying after the goose flew all over the place, played around and messed up with the flowers!!"

A happy thought indeed!

The piecing came along and it took an extra dose of patience to shape the scrap background into seeds and fuse them around the right part of the quilt.

Here it is, all pinned and getting ready to be quilted... I could only think "quilt as desired," just as many instructions indicate, but I had a big blank in my head... "How on earth was I going to quilt this wall hanging? Happy quilting? How is THAT done?"

Well, something that I once heard and that has stuck with me is quilting that enhances the piecing. This time, the piecing was telling a story, and I only knew that I wanted the quilting to emphasize that.

I started with the appliqued flowers and quilted concentric petals... and the crafty bone was unleashed! lol

Somehow, in the middle of a loop or a turn, I was able to "see" the wind, shaped by large concentric circles with a tail. The green goose, a.k.a. disobedient child, would leave a trail in its hasty escape from the formation; somehow, straight lines would have to interrupt the dancing of the wind playing with the seeds...

See, it´s making a mess!! :)

I knew I wanted the geese to be puffy, so I decided to quilt the background only. I ended up outlining each goose and trying a different quilting pattern between each of them.

Here is something I had always wanted to try: a feather fan. I am still experimenting with feathers, and thought that this space would be the perfect opportunity to emphasize this bit of negative space.

And here is an attempt at a herringborne; I am not completely happy with the results, but I guess it´s not that bad for a first time.

I wanted to quilt clouds in the "cloud" area, but I was not too sure of how to do it. I drafted some and decided to make Cs, lots and lots of Cs!

The Cs went on around the geese and in the border. And there´s even spiky lines crossing each other. I like the contrasting quilting textures and shapes.

Here is another look at the disobedient child...

... and the wind and clouds meeting, in the back.

And talking about the back, look at this! I was thrilled to turn the quilt and discover a great surprise in the back: the quilting telling the story!

The puffy geese, the flowers, the wind, the clouds and the hasty flight of one curious goose.

I just couldn´t take enough pictures, lol!

Oh! And I also made an experiment with filters; I wanted to see if the quilting would look different in them. I think that the following would be the better, but it also shows where the quilting mistakes are...  No biggy, I am still happy with the end result!

So here it is! A happy quilt that makes me smile :)

I must confess, deep inside, I guess this quilt could also be called something like "Curiosity taking the best out of me," or something like that... Smile! :)

Stay blessed,