thursday finish - homestead!

The Fig Tree "Homestead" quilt top is finished! I'm so happy to be able to share it with you today. This is one of those quilt tops that turned out far better than I had expected!

Homestead measures 63" x 75" finished. The pattern is available here, and there is also a kit with alternate fabrics. The houses were really fun to sew once I figured out a trick. There are a few points that need to match on the window/door/roof unit. I had difficulty matching them exactly, and then Pam suggested basting the pieces together, checking for accuracy and then re-sewing them. That worked perfectly, and from then on it was all blue skies and green grass. 

Speaking of green grass, the original pattern used just one green print. I wanted more variety, so I pulled several greens. Fabrics used in this quilt are from two of my favorite Fig Tree collections - Strawberry Fields and Avalon. I loved mixing in the navy and aqua prints.

I'm sure you know all about my dislike of sewing borders onto my quilt tops. But I did it! To make it easier, I buy extra border fabric and cut it on the lengthwise grain. Yes, it means that I buy more fabric than I really need. But it means that I don't need to worry about matching the print when joining shorter strips of fabric. (The leftover border fabric is now in transit to another Fig Tree fabric collector!) What makes this quilt interesting is that the borders on the top and bottom are slightly wider than the side borders. It sounds odd, but it does enhance the horizontal houses. 

Now I need to piece the backing and binding and have it sent out to be quilted. I cannot wait to get this one back! And now I'm free to work on Christmas quilts!

sashing the homestead

Yes, finally! All 20 Fig Tree Homestead blocks are finished!

Isn't this the quirkiest house block? I've never seen anything else quite like it. It's almost an optical illusion. I really love those Fig Tree blues - the sky and navy prints.

I started the sashing last night. But I just wasn't paying attention to what I was doing! Often the simple sewing is where I make the most mistakes. There was quite a lot of unpinning and unsewing going on. My biggest hurdle was getting the horizontal seams of the grass to line up from row to row. It was easy to fix with a little concentration and pins. 

It's amazing how much abuse those poor 1 1/2" strips of sashing fabric had to endure!

And after all that effort, I love how it's coming together. This quilt is going to become a favorite! I just need to add two outer borders and it will be ready for quilting.

Thanks so much for visiting me today. I'm always happy to have house guests (heehee get it?!).

back at the ranch

I have been quietly piecing the Fig Tree Homestead quilt blocks throughout the past few months. They help me to avoid other sewing projects. Whenever I have a quilt top that needs the dreaded borders, well, it's easier to stitch up a few houses! Fourteen houses are now done, with another six still to be built. 

The latest batch of three blocks just did not want to cooperate with me! Sometimes the simplest piecing can get messed up really fast. These blocks are constructed in three layers. There's the roof section, the middle window and door section and then the walkway and grass. The middle row is just a bunch of rectangles. Should be simple, right? I stitched them over and over and over and over. First the strips were too short - I mean, 3/4" too short in the length! And then they became 1" too long. I ripped and resewed them. I cut more fabric and sewed them again. And then I sewed them together in the wrong order. Whaaaat? Well, I finally figured it out. My sewing machine needle was bent just a teeny bit, but it was enough to turn my scant 1/4" seam allowance into a generous 1/4" seam allowance. A new needle solved the problem. Now why didn't I think of that several hours earlier? (I can't even tell you how long the last 3 blocks took to sew! It's too embarrassing! But I did win this battle.)

And here's the house lineup so far! First, the blues!

The pinks and greys!

The reds!

And the aqua and yellow houses. 

I'll continue to work on these in between other quilts. I just need to get the border sewn onto the Jumping Jacks quilt and I'll have another finish soon!

christmas in july

Do you celebrate Christmas in July? I do!

Here's just a sneak peek of a Christmas Dresden quilt that I'm finishing up this week. It's big! It's heavy! It's all Fig Tree fabrics! And I'm just about finished with all 392" of the hand-stitched tomato red binding. Yikes. 

Normally I only like to work on quilts in season. This means that in September and October I'll eat candy corn and burn pumpkin candles while working on Halloween quilts. In November and December I'll play Christmas music (nonstop) while sewing Christmas quilts. But there's something kind of fascinating about Christmas in July. This Friday is the 25th - exactly 5 months from Christmas. It will be my third Friday finish this month! I'll have the full details for you about the design inspiration, construction, size, etc - and I even found my original draft sketch.

There's even more Fig Tree goodness this week. I've added another two Homestead houses to the collection. First, a little pink house in Strawberry Fields. All lawns should look like this, right?

And an aqua house in Avalon. I want to live here.

Eight houses have been built, with another 12 still to be constructed. Maybe I'll try to squeeze in a few red and green houses before the end of the month. It's that Christmas in July thing, you know?

Thanks so much for visiting today. See you in a few days with the finished Christmas quilt!

homesteading with a unicorn

This sure was a busy weekend! Lots of Fourth of July festivities and social events here in Grey Dogwood Studio land. I didn't have much time for sewing, but I managed to squeeze in three new Homestead blocks. First was the aqua house in Fig Tree's Avalon fabric. Then I decided to work on two blocks at the same time. I thought that it might be faster to make them together, but it clocked in at the same time as if I had made them separately. I'm relying on the Alphabitties to help keep all of my pieces clearly marked for sewing. 

I also learned a nifty new trick with these two houses! Pam Kitty Morning recently asked readers if they baste before sewing. I read it and thought nope, no way, I'm never going to waste my time with that. But I have to admit that matching the four key points on these houses can be challenging. I wondered if maybe Pam's idea might work. So I dialed up a really long stitch length and sewed the problem seam, checked for accuracy and made a few adjustments, and then sewed over that line using a shorter stitch length. She's right, of course. It was much easier, and there was less seam ripping and resewing! I'm glad that I learned a new shortcut.

Then the weekend began! The torrential rain lifted just in time for Friday night's NYC fireworks (you might have seen them on the Macy's NBC broadcast). All 5 billion of us at the waterfront park loved them. Eek I don't think I've ever seen this many people! Then on Saturday was a backyard cookout brunch and the perfect time to catch up with friends and neighbors. To burn off the calorie intake from the grilled soy sausages (I learned that they aren't so bad if you smother them with mustard and sweet relish!), we went for a walk in Central Park. The park is just three blocks from my apartment (and Grey Dogwood Studio!) so I jokingly consider it my glamorous backyard. I had to go say hi to my turtle friends at Turtle Pond - they're so cute, just poking their heads out of the water to greet me. And then a walk around the Delacorte Theater (home of Shakespeare In The Park), the lake with rowboats and my favorite part, the Bethesda Fountain. 

After Sunday brunch in Harlem we visited The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park. It's a branch of  the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the very upper tip of Manhattan. The Cloisters contain the museum's very extensive collection of Medieval art. Of course this requires a hike though a park, up a mountain with no signage, and past the fat woodchuck who was clearly oblivious to us. We just had to hope that we were going the right way! Why all this fuss? I needed to visit the Unicorn Tapestries. They're a series of seven tapestries done in the late 1400's which depict noblemen in pursuit of a unicorn. They're brilliant. I've loved them for many years. The tapestries take up entire walls, and the jewel is the unicorn tapestry itself. 

The amount of fine detail is amazing. Berries, dragonflies, lillies, tulips and other flora are all depicted in wool and metallic threads. An outer courtyard is planted with the fruits, herbs and berries that are depicted in the tapestries. 

And isn't it fun to find quilt pattens everywhere? I found a hexagon window!

Now that the long weekend is over I'll get back to some serious sewing. This week's goal is to sash the Butterscotch Tart blocks! And I hope that you enjoyed the holiday weekend, too! 

I'm linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times where other quilters share what they're working on this week.

the homestead grows

Happy Monday, everybody! I hope that you had a great weekend. I did have that sushi on Friday night. Actually, it turned into a whole weekend of eating! Let's see... there was a homemade strawberry marshmallow and a homemade "Ring Ding." And then there was the artisanal pizza at Dellarocco's in Brooklyn and chocolate cake. And finally a cupcake at Georgetown Cupcake in Soho. EEK! I never did get around to that vacuuming. Now what was I supposed to tell you about? Oh, yeah. I built more houses!

I had fun pulling fabrics for the remaining 19 houses in the new Fig Tree pattern called Homestead. I'm aiming for a clean, summery beach look. I'm using mainly the larger and brighter prints from Fig Tree's Avalon collection (I edited out the smaller prints, the creams and the stripes). I also finally broke down and mixed in some of my prized Fig Tree Strawberry Fields fat quarters. I've always felt that they're too special to use, but I can't see them when they're on the back shelf in the closet!  

Joanna Figueroa's pattern uses just one green for the grass. But I don't have enough of one green, and I prefer controlled scrappy anyway.

This little red house happened on Sunday night. Maybe it was the sugar rush that caused me to make a few mistakes...

I KNEW that something was wrong with the right part of the roof, but I couldn't see it until after sewing this section together. And because I had already trimmed out the underlayers of fabric, the only solution was to redo it.

Ah, that looks better.

I wasn't sure if the big red Avalon floral would work here but I'm thrilled with how it looks. I actively planned the fabric cuts to make sure that I had plenty of full roses showing. 

And tonight I built the house that just had to be made. Pink and green and strawberries. Had to do it!

If you happen to be in NYC within the next few months, there are two excellent fashion exhibits that you might want to check out. Exposed: The History of Women's Lingerie is at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology until November. The exhibit focuses on the evolution of undergarments from the late 1700's through the present. It explores the technological developments that made their construction possible, as well as the changes to meet designer and consumer demands. I visited the show over the weekend thinking that it would be something to do (I studied design at FIT, and I enjoy visiting all of their museum and gallery shows) but I actually learned something, too. Included are undergarments which gave shape to Christian Dior's New Look dresses of 1947, bustle cages and a pair of Twiggy stockings. (Alas, no quilts here!) Also definitely worthy of a visit is the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit which puts a dazzling spotlight on America's greatest (and until now, forgotten) couturier. Visual animations and x-rays trace and recreate the dressmaker's patterns on digital screens alongside the actual gowns. It's on exhibit until August, and I'll definitely return for a second visit. 

friday homestead

Hi folks! Just a quick post today as we start a nice sunny weekend here in NYC.

I had just a few hours to squeeze in some sewing today. I really wanted to finish up that last Butterscotch Tart block before the weekend. But they take about 3 hours apiece, and I like to start and finish a block all at one time. I decided to try this new Homestead house quilt block by Joanna Figueroa at Fig Tree Quilts. That should be quick and easy, and still leave plenty of time to read and clean the house before going out for sushi, right? I've made lots of house quilt blocks over the years, but this one has an unusual, modern log cabin look. Homestead is a new pattern introduced last month. I downloaded the pattern a few days ago and started searching through my stash in search of fabric from Fig Tree with a clean, summery look. I pulled my stack of Avalon fat quarters from last summer. It still had the original shrinkwrap! You know that I've been in a red and navy mood lately, so I immediately pulled this navy mini floral for the first house.

There are LOTS of pieces here, and I sewed a few pieces incorrectly and cut the grass strip too short. Ugh. Seam ripper time. So my quick little project took just as long as a tart block!

Do I even need to mention that there was no time to read or to clean the house?! I think I'm ready for my sushi now. Happy weekend everybody!