Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just in Time

{Way} back when I was in college I majored in business administration. This major required classes in economics, and I have to say they were probably my least favorite classes. It has surprised me, in my adult life, how much economics really does apply...and not just to money, but to many different aspects of life. 

One economic principle is that of "Just in Time." In college we were applying that to inventory and the laws of supply and demand...not stock piling inventory, but purchasing it just in time to be used. Boring to a young college co-ed, but important to the cash flow of a company. 

I find that as I live and work "just in time" is happening all the time. At school we train our teachers "just in time" for the technology they will be using with students. At home I cook dinner "just in time" for family to arrive home and eat it. Cleaning the house happens "just in time" for a guest to arrive {bad, I know!} Even crafting pursuits happen "just in time" for a gift that needs to be given. Sometimes all of this "just in time" drives me crazy. 

If I am honest with myself I can see how I cause a lot of my own "just in time" issues by how I choose to spend my time. At some point earlier in the year I made the decision that my sewing was getting a bit out of hand. In an attempt to keep up with the ebb and flow of the online quilting community I was starting to loose meaning in the things I was spending my time working on. Many projects were being started, but few were actually getting finished. Each new start made past unfinished projects a bit less precious and desirable to finish. 

With this knowledge under my belt I resolve to be more intentional about what I work on and not get drawn into beginning projects that have little real purpose to me personally. I'm finding joy in cheering other on from the sidelines, but not feeling compelled to always join in. Now I will say that occasionally a bit of impulse is a good thing, because it does help to keep creativity flowing ~ at least for me.

Wow! If you're still reading at this point thank you for listening :o)

I will share my latest "just in time" finish...but, I'm happy to say that I started these socks back in June in order to enjoy every step of the process while crocheting them. I did just get them finished this morning "just in time" for a delightfully cool autumn day :o)


I realize these are just plain, utilitarian socks, but I am oh-so-happy to have them finished! They turned out exactly as I hoped they would: cozy and soft :o)

The yarn is Patons Kroy Socks FX in Cascade Colors. The design is a hodgepodge of patterns: 
  • the toe area comes from Patons Women's Twisting Lace Socks
  • the heel & cuff areas comes from Patons Kroy Toe Up Socks
  • the foot and ankle are my design (just simple half/double crochet stitch)
I've wanted to make myself a pair of these ever since I made socks for my brother-in-law last year. My yarn is a bit more chunky than what I used for his, but I'm liking them :o)

How about you? Do you live a whole lot of life "just in time," or have you learned to master your schedule and live a bit more intentionally?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Leave no blocks behind - In pursuit of a quilt back

Back in March I was the quilt designer for the Faith Circle quilt. For this quilt I asked the Faith Circle ladies to make wonky disappearing 4-patch blocks using a palette of soft colors. You can read more about the quilt design and find the block tutorial here. In my mind I had visions of a plaid center section surrounded by applique borders of whimsical flowers. 


After a few more months than I intended the finished quilt top finally emerged :o) These happy little flowers took longer than I expected to complete, but I am oh-so-happy with the finished turned out exactly as I pictured it.

As often happens with our Faith Circle quilts there were a couple of blocks left over after the quilt top was assembled.


I try to go by the motto, "Leave no blocks behind." In other words, when a quilt is completely finished (quilted and bound) I really don't want any orphan blocks left over. A good way to accomplish this is to use the extra blocks when making the quilt back. I have collected a few larger cuts of fabric to put together with the two blocks in a pieced back. I want the back to use the same soft colors as the quilt top.


In my quilt notebook I've started to sketch out an idea...we'll see if it works out with the blocks and fabrics I've pulled. I hope to get the back pieced this weekend, and maybe get the quilt basted, too. 


I'm excited to see this quilt progressing! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's been a coral and blue weekend

I had two projects to work on this weekend and funny enough they both used the same color families: coral and blue. 

First came my September do. Good Stitches blocks. We were asked to make Patchwork Chevron Blocks using  this Moda Bakeshop tutorial from Jeni Baker of In Color Order.


These blocks are each 12" square so this will be a huge, fun chevron quilt top :o) I'm really liking the coral, navy, and gray color combination Kim wanted us to use. 

Next up is a shop sample (my first!) for my local quilt shop, The Scrappy Apple. My friend, Kelley, asked me if I could make the sample top using Galaxy, a Villa Rosa Designs pattern.


Gallaxy is super fast to make up using one charm pack and yardage. The fabric line in this quilt is Figures by Brigitte Heitland for ZEN CHIC for Moda. This fabric line has some great prints in it! 

If you've never seen Rosecards (pattern cards) by Pat Fryer for Villa Rosa Designs they are definitely worth looking for. Rosecards are the size of a standard postcard and feature quick, easy patterns for quilts and other projects that often use precuts. 


It was a super productive weekend in the sewing room! I'd love to hear what you worked on this weekend :o)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We interrupt this blog to bring you the 2014/15 school year

Wow! Have you noticed a rather long stretch of silence on Shadows of the Blue Ridge? I sure have. It seems every year when a new school year begins it takes me a while to adjust to a new normal and balance my work time with my "at home" time. Even if I haven't been blogging there has been some sewing going on over here: 

Early in August I tried a super tutorial from Dominique at The Running Thimble to make quilted luggage tags as part of a birthday gift for a sweet friend. So fun! And can I just say...these use scraps :o) I certainly see more of these luggage tags in my sewing future.

Quilted Luggage Tags
Front and back view

As I wrote in my last post, I was fortunate to be in on the first round of The Great Pillow Fight Swap over on flickr. It was a lot of fun learning about my secret partner :o) She likes bright colors and seems to be drawn to rainbow and color wheel designs. Using this information I chose the fabulous Christmas Snowflake pattern by Rachel Wooden Spoon to create a color wheel snowflake pillow.

It's Finished!

I just love this snowflake block and ROYGBIV makes it so fun :o) I enjoy being able to use scraps from my supply and this pillow top was great way to do just that. For the quilting I did a continuous spiral. I just used the default needle position on my walking foot, so the quilt lines are about 3/8" apart. I've never done a spiral before and found it to be pretty easy once I got past the tiny part in the very center. This will be going in the mail to my partner as soon as the window for sending packages arrives.

This weekend I learned how to do Susie's Magic Binding from Aunt Marti @ 52 This binding method allowed me to quickly finish up a small quilt that had a super fast deadline. Wow...if you've not tried this binding method you really need to! Generally I'm not a huge fan of using a machine to sew down binding, but the faux flange really makes it easy and in my opinion great looking, too. I was a bit concerned the flange would not line up nicely on the mitered corners while sewing the binding down, but just to show you how well this works here are all four corners...not a dud in sight :o) Now just to be honest I will say that I pin judiciously...about every inch, so that probably helped, too. 

Finally, one last piece of sewing fun. Earlier in the spring I wrote up this little post about Quilt Market. I mentioned that I'd been able to preorder one of Moda's Building Blocks quilt kits. arrived this week!! Just look at this beautiful box :o) 

I can't wait to dig in and get started on this beauty! However, I am going to exercise great restraint and continue working through my priority list first...but be assured there will be visions of this quilt floating in my head :o)

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Scrap Consumption Progress & July ALYoF

Goodness is seems like forever ago that I wrote up this post about the need to use up fabric scraps and set a goal for July in the Lovely Year of Finishes group. The good news is that I've been able to do both :o) 

My July ALYoF goal was to make two rows for a Year of Rows quilt my local quilt guild is doing as a fun project this year. Each month we are drawing an idea out of a bowl and interpreting it any way we choose into a row of quilt blocks. In the end we will have 12 rows to put together into a quilt. These quilts can be any size you choose. Mine is 36" wide because that dimension allows me to use blocks of various sizes (4", 6", 9", or 12") as I make up the rows.

Local quilt guild row quilt

The first month saw the word "stars" selected as the theme so I drafted my own paper piecing pattern for these 8-point scrappy stars. The second moth saw "girls night out" for the theme. It was a bit harder to choose something to represent that theme. After thinking about it I concluded that going to my local guild meeting was the most consistent thing I do for girls night out so I choose to make a row of spools. 


I really like the super pointy "arms" on this style of star. Many of these background fabrics represent the very last precious scraps of favorite fabrics. 


I actually made this center spool block (text print fabric) quite a while ago with no real idea what I would use it for. I've always thought this particular print from the Mama Said Sew fabric line is so cute. 


Both of these rows have been constructed mostly from my fabric scraps with very little cutting from folded stash fabric needed. 

In addition, I've been able to make more of a dent in my scraps with a recent flickr swap I joined: The Great Pillow Fight Swap. I don't participate in a lot of bees or swaps because with working full time I don't have a great deal of sewing time. However, I do feel like joining in every now and then on a small project type of swap helps to keep creativity flowing and to keep in touch with others in the online quilting community. 

What are your thoughts partner?

My secret partner requested scrappy low volume combined with bright colors. From looking through her flickr favorites I see she is drawn to rainbow brights and color wheel layouts. I combined this information with the wonderfully scrappy Christmas Snowflake block designed by Rachel Woodenspoon. She got her inspiration from Rachel of Stitched in Color's Snowflake block from the Penny Sampler class. A great tutorial for a pillow-size version of Rachel's block was put together by Katie of the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild (scroll down to find a link to downloadable instructions.)

Rainbow of 2" squares

This is the colorful collection of scraps I cut up to make the pillow top. Again, more than half of these came from scraps with the balance cut from stash fabrics. 

Great Pillow Swap Progress

So far I've managed to get two quadrants of the snowflake stitched together. I really enjoy this kind of sewing where all of the points have to match up's kind of a personal challenge :o) It was fun to move the little 2" squares around trying to get the color balance just right in each point. I pretty much maxed out my variety of fabrics for each color of this snowflake block. 

I"m happy to have met my July ALYoF goals and am linking up with the July finishes party. Hop on over there to check out the other beautiful projects going on!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Progress Update: Summer Handwork

I'm compelled to do handwork projects in the summer...I just do not want to be limited to staying in my sewing room. At the beginning of the summer I prepped both a sewing and a crochet project to take on a trip. I've made good progress on both. 

Two of the four Flickering Stars blocks are complete. These will become a pillow front for the couch in our family room. 

This is what the back of the blocks look like. You can see where the templates were traced to provide the stitching lines. It probably takes me between four to five hours to make each block. In that amount of time I could have the entire pillow finished using a sewing machine, but there is something so satisfying to sewing by hand. 

Here are the pieces for the last two stars. I should be able to finish them both by the end of August...hopefully :)

In addition, I always like to have a good crochet project in the works. These are the socks I started in June:

I'm combining parts from various patterns to make them. The toe and heel are single crochet and the rest of the sock is done in half-double favorite stitch! No doubt these will be ready for that first chilly Fall day :o)

So how about you? Any hand projects in the works? 

Note: Due to a necessary hardware update we are without home Internet service for a week, so this post is being done from my phone. Later I plan on going back to add hyperlinks and cleaning up any formatting issues.