Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Secret to Finishing a UFO - and have fun at the same time

You think I'm going to share my secret for finishing a UFO right at the beginning of this post?  Not so fast, Ace.  Just keep going.

In a previous post I mentioned that I was back at work on Easy Street, Bonnie Hunter's 2012 Mystery Quilt.  Lately I've mostly worked on finishing my niece's wedding quilt, but I've been wanting to get back to some piecing.  Easy Street was the answer -- it's not for anyone, just for the fun of making it, so I can pick it up (or drop it) any time.  And it's REALLY a UFO --  just hundreds of little sub-units, not a single block constructed.

Part One was ~200 four-patches.  I posted about finishing those back in August.


Part Two was 128 flying geese.  I've never quite mastered those, so I used the specialty rulers that Bonnie recommends.  The units looked pretty good!  I tucked them in a baggie and moved on.

Another step involved more flying geese, this time with turquoise wings instead of the white print.

More purple and turquoise -- sitting turkeys...

Finally, time to start sewing some of the units together.  And this is when I saw it.  Did you notice the mistakes in the first flying geese photo above?  Turn one over and this is what you'd see:

Yep, I'd pressed all the white-winged geese in the wrong direction, toward the center.  It was almost impossible to achieve the coveted "perfect point" with all that fabric in the way.  Arghhh!!

So I had to sit down and unpick everyone of those &#$* geese.  Press the pieces flat again, sew the seams again, press the seams again, outward this time.

You can imagine what all this did to the bias edges of the triangles.  We are talking major stretcheroo here.  No amount of trimming would make these geese into tidy rectangles.

And that's when I discovered:

The Secret to Finishing a UFO!

JUST SEW IT!  Don't obsess!  Just put that pedal to the metal and stitch!

Some of these double units came out perfect!

And some are just butt-ugly!

Who cares?  It's a quilt that I'm making just for fun.  So I'm going to have fun!  I even turned this into a game.  I call it Adding Mystery to a Mystery Quilt!  Here's how you play:

1.  Lay the unit down on your ironing board with the seam up and the stitched triangle base on top.  Press to set the seam.  You can't see the top of the other flying goose, right?  Now guess -- will it have a Pointy Point or a Butt-Ugly point?

 2.  Flip up the top unit and press so the seam goes toward the top unit.  Now look closely.  Did you guess correctly?  Could you not tell with some of them?

3.  Put the pressed unit in one of two piles:  P-P, or B-U.  "Can't tell" units go in the P-P pile.  Which pile is higher?

4.  Now, go through the B-U pile again.  Notice that some of the units that you tossed in there at first really belong in the P-P pile, don't they?  Move them over where they belong!

And guess what -- no matter which pile is bigger, You Win!

Take all those units and start finishing that UFO.  Here are the corner units...

  ... to be continued...


Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Quilter's Path Takes a Detour!

So long since my last post!  Not that I've been idle, but I usually don't post unless I have some quilty pics, and that just didn't happen over the holiday season.  I don't know about you, but I like a blog with lots of pictures.  I just haven't had much ready to show you since before the holidays.


I did find this wall decor in a Greek restaurant during a recent visit to San Francisco.  Wonderful hexagons!   Will I ever make a quilt like this?  Not likely!  But aren't they pretty!  If only the service had been as good.

Just because I wasn't whipping out quilts doesn't mean that I wasn't wielding a needle!  Christmas was at our house this year.  A potential disaster was averted after our son forgot to bring his and his wife's Christmas stockings.  Some traditions are not to be denied, especially when it was my daughter-in-law's first Christmas with us!  So on Christmas Eve I was madly stitching away.  Thank goodness for my stash of red felt and glittery gold yarn!  Oops, forgot the loops to hang them.  Oh, well, Santa left the goodies anyway!

And speaking of Santa, look what he brought me!  Cathedral Windows earrings!  Don't you love them?

Santa also brought  a pretty dress for my daughter.  She loved the dress but she didn't like the way the in-seam pockets made the skirt stick out.  Guess who got to pick out the pockets?  (p.s., it was a very well-made dress.  Pocket removal took close to an hour for each!).  No pics (2 black pockets?  I don't think so).

A Blast from the Past!


This is a project dear to my heart, yet I just can't get into it.  Some 45 years ago (when I was 2 years old!!!) I designed and made a needlepoint for my parents for their then-new Michigan cabin.  Fast-forward to 3 years ago.  My brother and his wife bought a cabin just down the trail.  I wanted to make them a quilt, of course, but they really wanted the same needlepoint for their cabin.

I found the original design that I'd worked out on graph paper -- stuffed in an old sewing basket with my mother's knitting needles, piles of crewel yarn and a book on how to tat (!).  Needless to say, the "pattern" wasn't in great condition.  I spend a couple of weeks copying it over to fresh graph paper and began the project.
Remnants of the original design: 

Copied over, ready for a fresh start!

But:  times have changed!  I couldn't find the same size canvas that I'd used in 1969, and heaven forbid if I were to use yarn (now it's more like embroidery floss).

Needlepoint isn't something that I enjoy that much anymore, but I'm determined to finish this!  It requires the right conditions (can't do it on an airplane with 3" of elbow space, can't do it with two active grandsons rolling round the room).  Plus, I'd rather be quilting! But there was lots of time sitting and chatting over the holidays, so I picked it up again.  Now I'm  close to halfway through the lettering.

Soon I can sit back and work on the background while watching some mindless TV (which covers most of, IMHO).


And speaking of UFOs -- which this needlepoint project certainly is! -- it seems that the new year brought out some kind of UFO mania in the quilting community.  I'm bombarded every day with emails and blog posts encouraging me to dive in and finish all most some of those unfinished projects.  Even my LQS has issued a challenge:  come have your photo taken with an unfinished quilt, then bring it back when it's done (quilted and bound).  Bring it in by the end of March and get 40% off your purchase; done by June, 30% off.  And so on.  And all finishers will have their photos with their FINISHED quilts posted on the store's Wall of Fame.

I'm in!  My first project is my niece's wedding quilt -- I've made some progress that I'll share with you soon.  And while I doubt I'll get this one done, I've gone back to the Easy Street Mystery Quilt that I started a year ago.  More on that next time...