Sunday, February 24, 2019

Snips Baskets

I mentioned in my last post that I made some snips baskets (or thread catchers if you prefer) to give away at the craft retreat. I have for you a little tutorial in case you would like to make your own.

Cut out two triangles that are 9 inches on each side. 9 inches with the seam allowance or without, you ask? It doesn't really matter. One choice will result in a little smaller basket than the other but either will work.

One triangle is your "outside" fabric and one is the inside. Put them right sides together and sew 1/4" seam all around the outside, keeping 2-3 inches unsewn on one side, but making sure to sew all three corners. Trim the seam allowance around the corners and flip it inside right. Press.

Ok, I am seriously lacking in pictures so far but hopefully you get it.

Here is my triangle after it has been sewn and flipped:
There is still an opening that is not sewn on one side. The seam allowance should be pressed to the inside along the same line as the seam.
If you are planning to do the rest of the sewing with a machine, you can top stitch around the triangle close to the edge and that will close up the hole. Specific instructions below are for hand stitching, which is what I did.

Now fold one edge in half with the inside fabric on the inside. Just make sure it is not the edge with the opening. (You can use the opening to get inside and hide your knots.) Mark half-way with a pin.
Then mark half the half way with another pin.
You can double check that the second pin is in a good place by folding over both corners and making sure they just reach the corner and are even.
If they aren't even, adjust the second pin (yellow above) until they are.

Now sew the two sides together along the edge between the two pins, either starting or ending at the fold. (I prefer to end at the fold because things are less likely to get misaligned.)
You can do it by machine (sewing right on top of the top stitching) or by hand, which is what I did, sitting by the wood stove. Mmmm, cozy.

Here the seam is sewn and you can see that the top half of the edge is left unsewn:
Now do it again to the second side (the remaining side without the opening):
Now it's time to close the opening.
The basic idea is to sew the opening closed and then sew the folded seam as on the other two sides.

More details: I folded the edge in half as with the other sides so I could check which end of the opening was furthest from the halfway pin.
Sew the opening shut starting at the end furthest from half way. When you get to the other end, tie off with a knot but do not cut the thread. Then insert the needle next to the knot and move it between the fabric layers to the halfway point. Pull the needle through, sew a knot to anchor your thread and then sew the seam.

Finger press from each sewn corner to its neighbours to shape the bottom. and now you have a triangle pyramid with loose flaps on top.
What you do with those is anchor them down with a button, bow, yarn, or just a stitch - whatever you want.
Fold each side down so the point is just above the folded edge of the bottom and centered between the sewn corners. Secure with your doo-dad of choice.

And when you want to make some gifts to take to a craft retreat, you do it all a few more times!
I had fun going through my button collection and finding some to complement each fabric combination.

The thing I liked about this little basket is that if you're working away from home, you can just fold up the basket and throw it in your project bag. The threads or yarn ends won't fall out.
I will find this very handy as I bring my knitting or hand sewing with me to plenty of places and am always making little piles of cut offs that I hope I will remember to throw out when I leave.
Compelling little shapes, aren't they!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Family Craft Retreat 2

I think you're supposed to come up with a snappier title for a sequel, but I'll just leave it at "2". We had our second family craft weekend last week Friday to Monday, and it was a great time.

Over the weekend, nine of us attended. Three aunts and six cousins (a pair of sisters and four sisters). It was a good mix of people who saw each other more often and people who hadn't seen each other since last year.

We found a new location that catered to quilters and whose facilities were much more suited to our needs. The Fireside Retreat in Orillia (Ontario) was fantastic.

The old stone farmhouse was very welcoming. There was a bedroom on the main floor for those who couldn't do stairs and the two bedrooms upstairs each had three beds and plenty of room for it.

One sister greeting me and another sister
as we arrived.
The kitchen was modern and included a dishwasher which we were missing last year! We had some very cold weather, and the house was very comfortable, although we were glad for the wood stove in the sitting room.

We managed a picture of the whole group on the front porch. Don't let our missing coats fool you -- it was cold!
The owners change the quilt block on the front porch each year so you can build a collection if you return on different years. The previous blocks were hanging on other outside walls of the house and outbuildings.

The house had a long room that ran the whole width of the house. It was four steps down from the main level, and I suspect it was a converted porch. The one half had three wooden work tables, a cutting/pressing table (with supplies) and some design boards.
There were three tables but four quilters, so my sister worked on the table she (fortunately) brought.

The other side of the room was full of comfortable chairs and the woodstove. It was perfect for knitting, hand sewing, and hanging out. (There were spot working lights everywhere and more available if needed!)

I've never seen so many quilts in a house! Only two examples shown here but there were quilts on walls in all the rooms (including bathrooms!), quilts on the beds, quilts on the closet shelves, quilts on the bedroom window seats, and quilts just rolled up in baskets. We found out later that they were previous shop samples -- the owner's daughter owns a local quilt shop and this is where the samples go to retire.

Once everyone was there Friday night, we did some gift giving.
  • One of my sisters brought mittens she makes from felted sweaters. The linings are always cashmere and they are scrumptious.
  • One cousin brought craft themed mint tins ("Keep Calm and Knit On" etc).
  • Another sister made little rice pack hand warmers (the purple squares).
  • One cousin brought booklets of sticky notes in different sizes for pattern notes.
  • Our aunt brought a book of poetry her husband had compiled and edited.
  • And I brought "snip baskets" I had made. (The little triangles up front.) They can catch all your thread and yarn cut offs and then fold into your project bag without dumping out. For those times you're working away from home.
  • Not pictured but just as appreciated were the chocolates another sister put on our pillows! :)
Not to stop there, we four quilters prearranged a fabric swap. We told the others our fabric preferences and swapped about a fat quarters worth of scraps from our stashes. Always fun to add some new options!

Friday night we had the first FO of the weekend already!
She had this quilt almost done so she said it was cheating, but done is done!

Saturday dawned bright and cold again. A good day to stay in and sew.
Unless your booking includes a gift certificate for everyone at the local quilt shop!
Then it's a good day to go to the quilt shop, which most of the group did on Saturday morning.

Otherwise the day was filled with quilting:
Laying out her quilt blocks on the design board in the
dining room. This top would be assembled by the end
of the weekend.
and puzzle building:
We started with a rooster puzzle for my mom but put it away
when it was taking way too much time. The next one was of quilt blocks
but we didn't finish that one either -- too many other things to do.
and going for walks:
I managed at least a short walk on Saturday and Sunday.
It was 6F on Sunday morning for example so plenty chilly!!
On Sunday we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Lake Country Grill:
Otherwise we took turns cooking breakfast and super each day. That is not why the restaurant was so good -- we ate well all weekend!

Our aunt finished a sweater that had been in the works for seven years!
Looks great, doesn't it!? This weekend helped motivate her to pull it out and work on it and start the mojo-killing job of picking up all the stitches for the front and collar facing.

There were also shenanigans. While my sister was busy quilting, I picked up her blanket square and started working on the crochet edging.
I just hope I guessed what she was doing! (Crochet's easy to take out anyway, right?) The joke was on me when she came over and sat on a couch next to my Lucy Boston square and suggested she finish sewing the block for me. (It's like we're related!)

My main project of the weekend, however, was quilting my blue and white elephant quilt. Here my sister and I are examining it for any remaining blue markings that we need to remove with water spray.
And then two of my sisters braved the chill again to hold up my quilt for a full picture.
I got most of the quilting done. The binding is sewn on but only safety pinned to the back. This was so that I could get the picture and submit it to a call by Quilts, Inc. for an exhibition of blue and white quilts.

I pulled out my computer Sunday night to submit my application and pictures because the deadline was the next day. (I only saw the entry deadline posted on the website in December. Before that it just said "2019".) So I spent the weekend worrying about whether I would have it done and did manage it in the end.

When I pulled up the webpage I saw that they had extended the deadline to the end of March! I guess that  means I have time to actually sew down the binding and to finish some additional quilting I want to add.

As for the retreat, we've already penciled ourselves in for the same weekend next year at the same place. Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Lucy Boston Challenge "The Third Block"

Get ready for lots and lots of pretty pictures!

Not long ago, I noticed that Alewives Fabrics was going to have a Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses challenge.

Their Instagram feed caught my attention because each Sunday they sell kits of four fat quarters and show two examples of blocks you can make with them.

They ran the same challenge last year and I checked out the entries. The blocks looked great, and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun.

Here are the two sample blocks they teased us with for this challenge:

When the challenge started, they revealed the four fat quarters that made up the kit:
I ordered it as soon as it was for sale! For the challenge, you had to use only these fabrics in your block. (You didn't have to use all four, but you couldn't add additional fabric.) You could make as many as you wanted (or could) with that fabric.

Once I got the fabrics, I didn't want to cut into them before planning a way to maximize my fabrics so I scanned the fabrics with a honeycomb paper for size and scale.

I just scanned the portion of the fat quarters that fit on my printer/scanner, not the whole fat quarter, but it was enough to work with.

Here are some of the blocks that I designed with these scans in Photoshop:
Virtual Block 1
Virtual Block 2
Virtual Block 3

Virtual Block 4

Virtual Block 5
Virtual Block 6
Not surprisingly, I was completely obsessed with trying out the different options and variations. (Some of the examples above have versions A, B, and C!) Once I had the shape isolated from a fabric, I could rotate, mirror image and move it wherever and however I wanted.

When it got down to cutting actual fabric, these are the blocks that I managed to get out of the fat quarters:
"Real" block 1
"Real" block 2
"Real" block 3
"Real" block 4
Fortunately sewing the blocks together wasn't required to enter them in the challenge and that helped getting them all done before the deadline. :)

I loved following the hashtag #TheThirdBlock for the challenge and seeing everyone else's entries. I may have missed a couple, but I believe I captured a picture of all of them and here they are. As you look at them, see if you can pick out what fabric the various pieces come from.

(Note: If I posted your blocks and you would like to have them removed, please just email me at the address on the above right and I will do so right away.)

Two from @armdilly_o:

From @caffeinatedcotton:

Three from @colmurph2000:

Four blocks from @cottagethreads:

One from @ctmainiac22:

Here are five blocks from @e.e.botke:

And a whooping six blocks from @greta_evans4119:


From @katspawsvt:

Two from @mgstanton:

And two from @promqun75:

Three from @ritasiav:

And, finally, four from @stitchified:

Did you pick out a favourite? The people at Alewives Fabrics had a hard time too, because the day they were supposed to announce the winners, we saw this:
!! What?!!

Of course we could wait, since we had to....

Finally, the winners were announced:
Yay! They couldn't pick one winner so they decided to award two people the grand prize. I was so excited.

There were also three runner up winners. They're the blocks between the * marks above.

Can you believe all the different looks you can get from the same choice of fabrics? Since they're not sewn, I may not sew the blocks exactly as they're pictured above. (I'll try something from my stash in some of my blocks.) But you can be sure that these blocks will be added to my other blocks -- I almost have enough for my quilt top now!

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...