Straighten Up and Sew Right

Sad Seamtress(from *here*)

It had been nearly a month since I’d threaded the needle of my sewing machine and sent it to humming, and I felt like the sad seamstress in the photo, above, pining away.  I wanted to get to the machine and have a good sewing session and have something to show for it.  As one Instagrammer said, “My sewjo is missing.”  But I wasn’t idle.  First, I had a root canal, which ought to occupy anyone for a few days.  And I also cleaned out the stash a bit, filling two large mall shopping bags with swatches of fabric to let my quilting group, the Good Heart Quilters, rummage through before donating the rest to our quilt guild.  And here’s some photos to prove I have tidy cupboards, before I start messing it up again:

Straightened Up 1

 I like to organize mine by color and value (light-to-dark).

Straightened Up 2

The lower half of the cabinet.  Inside the pull-out box are browns and blacks–easier on the back this way.  I keep the Kaffe Fassets in another place, and I also have a stack of cream/tans and a stack of “low volumes” (neutrals or pastels), and stack of predominantly white/light background fabrics.

Molly Qee xfour

Here’s a close-up of my Molly Qee collection (the characters with the crowns).  They are hard to find in the States.  I started my collection when my sister Christine and I happened into a collectibles shop in Lyon, France.

More Shelf Stuff

And on the other shelf are other doodads.  My husband gives me the little Japanese dolls (ningyō).  And those fabric-covered binders are all my journals, began when I was a young woman of twenty-one years old.  Since the advent of email and cheap phone calls, I’ve stopped writing them, but I love having them around (they hold all my secrets!).

Pink Selvage BlockSo after a busy month, I pulled out the machine and got started.  I decided to ease my way in slowly, making a selvage block.

Basic Selvage Block Foundation

When I begin, I use my standby translucent paper, cutting, then pasting a strip on one side so it measures 10 1/2″ square. Then I draw lines on it to keep the selvages on straight.  Do I cut all my selvages off when I buy fabric?  No.  I like having them on to keep track of the newer stuff in case I need more.  Most of these selvages happen when I’m going through older fabrics that are in my stash (like those to be donated), of which I know I’ll never need the information again.  Then I slice it off, leaving about one-inch to 1-1/2″ of the fabric on top of the selvage so I have Lots of Options.

Pieced Selvage Strip

I get started by cutting two 4 1/2″ blocks, then slice them on the diagonal to make up the four triangles you see in the center above.  I pin them down, then start sewing on the selvages, placing the selvage edge 1/4″ in from the raw edge of the triangle, as shown.  Sew closely along the edge.  I like it best when the first selvage next to the color is the same, or nearly all the same, so I look for a longish piece. I think it just helps set the stage.  Sometimes I piece selvages to get the printed symbols and the words closer together (above) and other times I just let it be.   Then it’s random, random, random after that, some thinner strips, some thicker strips.  Some people like to trim the fringey pieces, but I just leave it that way.  Sometimes after I sew on a strip of selvage, I’ll go in and trim down the underneath piece just to keep it tidy.

Selvage Block Colors

Sometimes I get things off balance, like in the pink block way above (too much deep maroony-pink in the lower left) but then I figure I’m teaching myself how to let go a bit and just enjoy the process.  And I do.  I now have five colors of four 10″ (finished) blocks, so the block will be twenty inches square after all four parts are sewn together.  This is going to be one big quilt, but I’m in no hurry.

To close with, here’s a quote from The Rise, by Sarah Lewis (the book I wrote about in the Creativity post):

“Perhaps we have grown impatient with the incomplete. We are part of a generation that, as the African proverb goes, wants to eat dinner in the morning, that longs for the immediate, fully prepared for consumption. Yet the strength to linger over the long-left unfinished reminds us that something inexhaustible in us is empowered by striving, that we sense unnaturalness in blunt ends of journeys, of lineage. And that power comes from where we least expect to find it.”

Go tackle something incomplete, and enjoy the power of taking another look at something that in our hands, has had a long journey.

WIP Wednesday (Selvage Blocks)

Selvage Quilt Block_yellow

Okay, these 20″ blocks are addicting.  Someone on IG commented on my selvage stash, but the whole thing could fit into a gallon ziploc bag.  There are all those selvages on my stash, however. . .

Other Works in Progress, this Wednesday morning:

Rainbow Petals.v2Rainbow Petals–the more I type that name, the more I realize it needs to be changed

LollypopTree Top FinishedLollypop Tree Quilting.  It’s such a big project, I keep waiting for the decks to be cleared to start on it.  That’s always a bad idea if you are trying to get something done, but a good way to procrastinate.

February CrossX blocks_2

Cross-X Quilt Blocks. That’s February’s installment on our Friendship Swap to the left.

Cutting out the quilt with the Mirror Ball Dots fabric.  Let’s just make that THINKING up the quilt with the Mirror Ball Dots fabric.  (No photo)
That’s enough for now.

Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced blog and her WIP Wednesday.

WIP on

Selvage Block-A-Long

Selvage Quilt Block_orange

I joined Diane’s Selvage Block-A-Long Flickr group some time ago, but didn’t have anything to show off for it. Now I finally have this lovely burst of orange.  I used Poppyprint’s tutorial, figuring “Why reinvent the wheel and make my own?” as hers was perfectly lovely.

Drawing Lines on Vellum for Quilt Block

I did draw two more lines on either side of the middle diagonal, and it did help keep me on track (try not to find where I went haywire).

Pins while Stitching Selvage Block

And I found that using pins was also helpful to keep the selvages from shifting.  I use vellum paper, still leftover from Come-A-Round’s marathon of paper piecing a couple of years back, gluing on a side strip to widen the 8 1/2″ to 10,”  making it all nice and square.  True Confession: I didn’t have this many orange selvages in my pile, so YES, I did head to the stash, pulling and cutting to make more.  If you cut them with at least one inch  ABOVE the white selvage line, you’ll be a happier piecer.

Feb2014 ABL Quilt Block

I also had chance to finish up the February Block for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  She meant to send out the fabric several times, but her family has had a bad winter of flu and yuck, so we received it last week, and I got it out the door today. I’m not making progress on my List of Goals, instead, I write the new project on, then cross it off.  Is that cheating?

Center Greens of Rainbow Petals

Here’s one that was written on recently: Rainbow Petals.  I went and found all the greens I could in my LQS, cut and shaped petals and stuck them on.  Which one would you choose?

Rainbow Petals.v2

Right.  Me neither.  So I went back to my stash and tried to find colored petals that would be slightly darker, yet a blend of the two adjacent petals.  I had some successes, but going around to fabric stores to find just the right color may take a while.  Better move this one off the First Quarter Goal Sheet and on to the second.  And really, since it is the 10th already, there may be a few more projects moving forward, given that Spring Break is coming up, I might have visitors, and that the essay on Short Stories is coming in on Thursday.

Time Flies

Right.  I knew that.