Grand Illusion Clue Roundup

December 18, 2014

In last week’s link-up clue 2 was on hiatus while I waited for the rectangle Go! cutter die to arrive. It came Thursday afternoon. I got busy rough cutting for the die, starching the fabric and cutting.

Basket of clue 2 pieces waiting for trimming and pressing.

Basket of some clue 2 pieces waiting for trimming and pressing.

Left - pefect. Middle - almost perfect. Right - not quite perfect.

Check out the seam where the neutral pieces meet. Left – perfect. Middle – almost perfect. Right – not quite perfect but close enough. The differences don’t show up as much in the picture as they do in real life.

I like to press seams open, especially with Bonnie’s mysteries. With Easy Street I had too many seems going the same direction. But, for this unit, because I did the rectangles and squares method for the bonus half-square triangle squares, my seams were too small for me to be comfortable with pressing them open. So, I pressed the small seams to the colored square and pressed the normal size seam between the units open.

Back of one unit.

Back of one unit.

Clue 2 with a basket of bonus half-square triangle squares.

Clue 2 with a basket of bonus half-square triangle squares.

I finished clue 2 on Sunday.

Monday, Patty and I ran down to Ikea to pick up “Bonnie” lamps. Online shows the desktop lamp in black or white only but the store had several other colors. I got a blue metallic. I also got an orange clip-on to take with me when I travel. I may also use it upstairs when doing hand work. The clip has quite a large mouth so should prove quite useful. I assembled the desktop one before starting clue 3 on Monday afternoon. What a difference it makes! I can actually see what I’m doing at the machine. It’s so bright I was seeing spots at the ironing board. The light there seems dim by comparison.

On to clue 3. I ride the scrappy train so my first thought was to cut squares for maximum scrappy goodness instead of using strips. I sat still till that urge passed. I’ve been ironing, cutting and sewing ever since. I like to do a little bit of each step, then repeat so i don’t get bored with doing a lot of one thing before moving on to the next step. I’m making 2 strip sets (one of each type) at a time and cutting them into the subunits. I got smart and started counting them as I go so I’ll know when to stop. I won’t sew them together until all the subunits are ready. Then I can mix and match for scrappy satisfaction.

Sing along with me to the Rawhide theme:

Ironing, cutting, sewing;
Keep those strip sets moving;
Ironing, cutting, sewing, woo hoo!

We want them to be scrappy,
So keep those strips sets coming,
Ironing, cutting sewing, we’re done!

Clue 3: ready to sew the 2 strips together.

Clue 3: ready to sew the 2 strips together.

Well, I’m not done yet, but I should finish tomorrow. I’ve sewn more than half of them.

See what others have done at the clue 3 link-up.

It’s a boy!

December 8, 2014

At least, it will be soon. Linda and I share a hairdresser. She will be having her first child any day now. Last Friday, I had my last appointment until she comes back from maternity leave. After she finished with me, I told her she was free to have the baby. Of course, Linda and I made a quilt for the baby.

Cara with the quilt.

Cara with the quilt.

We used the free Wonky Zoo Pens pattern from Fabri-Quilt. It’s foundation pieced. When Linda printed the patterns, the blocks didn’t print out square. We don’t know why. That wasn’t a big deal. I just trimmed the full blocks to the correct size. For the side and corner blocks, I couldn’t figure out how to make the adjustment. It didn’t seem to matter – everything fit well enough.

In August, we did a Row by Row shop hop day in Lancaster county. We got the sashing and backing fabric at Sauder’s. The inner border/binding and crayon border came from The Old Country Store. The fabrics for my blocks came from stash. Linda bought hers because she doesn’t stash tone-on-tone “go withs”. We each pieced half the blocks. I assembled the top. Linda quilted it. I did the binding. Linda wasn’t able to be with me when I gave the quilt to Cara last week because her daughter had a baby a couple of weeks earlier – also a boy.

Front of quilt

Front of quilt. The border fabric is crayons.

Back of quilt

Back of quilt

Close up of backing. Animals in balloons.

Close up of backing. Animals in balloons.

While we were making the blocks, Linda mis-read what she was supposed to make and we ended up with an extra half-block. No problem. It was perfect for the label.

The label.

The label.

Close up of label text

Close up of label text

Close up of quilting

Close up of quilting

Close up of quilting

Close up of quilting

Close up of quilting

Close up of quilting

Cara was thrilled with the quilt. She better have that baby soon so she’ll be ready to come back and do my cut and color in early February. I’ll probably be cutting bits off here and there before that.

Grand Illusion: part 1 done, part 2 on hiatus

December 8, 2014

When last we spoke, I was cutting clue 1. By Tuesday afternoon last week, I was almost finished cutting the 180 pairs of half-square triangles for clue 1. I started reading some of the link-ups and noticed that they all talked about 280 pairs of triangles. What? 280? I went back to check the instructions and sure enough, I was going to be 100 pairs short. More cutting. Sigh. I finished cutting the triangles with the Go! value die about 5:45 pm on Wed. At 7:15 pm, the triangle die I ordered arrived. The delivery wasn’t without drama. I went to get the package off the porch. It was a small box which didn’t seem right. I opened it – wasn’t the die. Finally thought to check the label – the package was for someone down the street. Went there and swapped the packages. Came home with my die and wrote a note about why their package was opened and went back down to their house to put the note in the box. If we have more triangles to cut in future clues, I’m all set now with the correct die.

Ready to sew clue 1.

Ready to sew clue 1.

They are laid out like that so I could get the maximum scrappiness with the triangles. I’m weird that way.


Clue 1 units finished.

Clue 1 half-square triangles set aside.

Clue 1 half-square triangles set aside.

My quilt guild had the holiday luncheons this week. I won a door prize which contained a package of Thermal Thimbles. I love these. I’d been thinking I needed something like this and now I have them.

Thermal Thimbles in action.

Thermal Thimbles in action.

For clue 2, I decided to use the 3rd option – rectangles and squares with bonus half-square triangles. I cut and marked the squares. The clue is on hiatus until the rectangle die arrives.

Clue 2 squares, marked and ready to sew.

Clue 2 squares, marked and ready to sew.

While I’m waiting on that I’m picking up where I left off a year ago on Celtic Solstice.

A mess of Celtic Solstice.

A mess of Celtic Solstice.

I ordered the triangle in a square die for the clue 1 pieces that haven’t been cut yet. In the meantime I can sort out which fabrics have been cut and which need to be cut and get things more organized. If I can get everything cut for Celtic Solstice, I can work on it when I’m away for the holiday.

When I was in Houston this summer, my cousin gave me a bulb from an amaryllis plant that was given to our great-grandmother, Rachel Arbaugh Bennett, as a wedding gift in 1889. My cousin inherited our great-granmother’s plant from our grandmother. I was afraid the bulb wouldn’t grow after spending a couple of months in a plastic bag before being replanted. But, it is thriving.

It not only grew, it is in bloom.

It not only grew, it is in bloom.

Take a look at other’s progress on the Grand Illusion Mystery.

Just keep cutting, just keep cutting . . .

December 1, 2014

Bonnie released the first clue for the Grand Illusion mystery quilt on Friday. I got an Accuquilt die cutter a year ago and am determined to use it for this quilt. As careful as I try to be, my cutting isn’t as accurate as I would like. The problem is: we don’t know what size and shape of pieces we will be cutting so can’t get the dies in advance. Not whining, Bonnie, just explaining. Two local shops carry the dies and I was sure I would be able to get what I needed. But, no luck at either shop.

I had the necessary die for the squares but not for the half-square triangles. While it would be easier with the specific die for the size triangles we need because that die cuts 12 triangles in one go, the value die that came with the machine does include 2 of the right size triangles. Here’s what I’ve managed to cut so far:


Still to cut:


Lest you think I’ve been doing nothing, I had some deadline items that had to be done. Friday morning I ran some errands including picking up my travel sewing machine from its tuneup and the futile attempt to acquire the die. Friday afternoon I had to put the binding on a quilt for my hairdresser who is having her first baby in a couple of weeks. That quilt needs to be gifted this coming Friday. I did get the squares cut on Friday.

Saturday I had to fuse 2 applique blocks for Mimi’s grad school meeting this morning.

Sunday after finding out the other shop also didn’t have the die, I decided to bite the bullet and cut the triangles with the value die. I was also supposed to do the label for the quilt I’m getting appraised tomorrow morning but that didn’t happen.

My friend Patty is doing the mystery quilt in two different sets of colors. Hers will be much smaller than Bonnie’s quilt so it’s not as much work as it sounds like. Patty is using one fabric per color rather than scrappy.


Patty’s blocks showing her 2 color ways.

See what others are doing on the mystery.

And they’re off!

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the last several years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving day at the Laurel Park Racetrack with my friends, Caren and Paul.We get a great buffet and a day of horse racing. I forgot to take pictures.

In past years, the admission fee of $2 or $3 got us free coffee or apple cider and a donut and a free pumpkin or apple pie. Last year they changed bakers and the pies weren’t very good. This year – no pie. The Jockey Club said it had gotten too expensive. Oh, well, I shouldn’t be eating pie anyway.

Monday it was 74 degrees and yesterday it snowed. That’s life in Maryland. The snow made the racetrack muddy today which made handicapping more problematic. But, the horses in the races on Thanksgiving aren’t very good anyway so handicapping is usually a crapshoot. A lot of the races are maiden races which means the horses have never won a race. I learned today that one of my quilt guild members is one of the track vets.

I had a great day as far as betting went. I won my bets in the first race and the last race and some in-between. It’s always more fun when I win. I think this might be the best I’ve done on Thanksgiving.

We’re now in Bonnie Hunter season. The first mystery of hers I did was 2012 (Easy Street). I followed her colors very closely so my quilt looks like thousands of others. Last year I intended to use different colors until she revealed hers. She picked the colors I have the most of in my stash so I had to go ahead and use them.  But, I got behind with the first clue and didn’t progress very far. I hope to work on it at the same time as this year’s mystery.

I’m mostly using her colors again this year because I couldn’t think of substitutes for that many colors.

Grand Illusion fabrics.

Grand Illusion fabrics.

I’m using brown instead of black and off-white for the neutrals to keep sufficient contrast with the colors. I have a very large stash so everything came from there except the 2 yellow fabrics. I didn’t have a single piece large enough because I mostly buy half-yards and fat quarters. I found the yellow with pink, blue and green stripey bits on it at a local shop. It should be perfect for the binding.

First clue will be released tomorrow morning.

Retirement begins: Reality bites

October 1, 2014

May 30 was my last day of gainful employment. When I decided to retire at the end of May, I had fantasized about a lazy summer filled of comfortable temperatures and humidity, working in my sewing room enjoying the wonderful weather, having lunch on my new bench/half picnic table, having friends stop by to lunch with me or join me in sewing. You get the idea. My rational mind knew this was fantasy but, at the time, I couldn’t imagine how that dream would be crushed by the rocks of reality. Therein lies a tale. Don’t worry – there is a happy ending and some quilty content.

In August 2013, my brother’s appendix perforated. His doctors wanted to wait until the infection was gone before they did the surgery to remove it. They finally took it out in November. In December when he went for his post-surgery check, they told him the appendix was cancerous. Appendix cancer is rare. Fortunately, he didn’t have the worst type. They did more tests and told him it hadn’t spread and scheduled him for precautionary surgery to remove the portion of the colon where the appendix attaches.

When he went for the surgery in Jan 2014, they made the incision, looked around and said “never mind”. Told him the cancer had spread to the peritoneum so he was stage 4. They also told him this type of cancer can’t be surgically removed and doesn’t show up on tests. The only treatment they offered him was systemic chemo every 2 weeks indefinitely with periodic scans to see if cancer showed up anywhere else. Maybe he’d have 2-3 years; they didn’t really know because there aren’t any statistics.

I told him to ask if there were treatments or studies at other centers that he should consider. They told him about HIPEC (heated intra-peritoneal chemotherapy) with cytoreductive surgery. I said he should go for it. I recommended he go to MD Anderson in Houston since they were rated the #1 cancer center at the time.

They accepted him as a patient. Did you know that you can’t just make an appointment at the major cancer centers? MD Anderson turned down my aunt in 2010 because her cancer (another rare one) was too far advanced by the time it was detected. He was scheduled for the surgery in June. In the meantime, he had the chemo at his home medical center. Instead of my idyllic summer at home, I now had to spend 6 weeks or so away from home with my brother during the surgery and initial recovery period.

Window at MD Anderson. Reminds me of a lot of the chunck quilts I’ve seen a lot of lately.

The surgeon removed everything that looked like it could possibly be tumor or that could hide tumor, including, of all things, the belly button. When we told my brother about that, he said “I guess that means my modelling career is over.” All of the pathology came back as no tumor found. So, the chemo seems to have done the trick although there was no way to know that without the surgery. His doctors were shocked. His chemo oncologist said he was unusally responsive to chemotherapy.

The happy ending – going from stage 4 in January to cancer-free in June. If he hadn’t gone to Houston for the surgery, he would be having chemo that he didn’t need. The lesson I learned is if you have a cancer that your medical center doesn’t see a lot of, go somewhere that does.

The entry hall floor in my brother’s house.

How do you pack to be away for 4-6 weeks or longer? Fortunately, I was able to do all my flights on Southwest. They allow 2 checked bags without a fee. Plus you can change your flight without a fee if needed. I don’t know how this happened but I was TSP pre-check for all 3 flights. Much quicker trip through security – no long lines.

I made sure I had plenty of hand sewing to work on. I worked on 3 different hexagon projects. I didn’t do as much as I could/should have because the light wasn’t bright enough, especially at my brother’s house. He only has mood lighting.

A couple days before I left, I met up with a friend and we took the Chicago river and lake cruise.

Portion of Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan.

Chicago flag. The 4 stars represent major events in the city’s history. They say that a 5th star will be added if the Cubs ever win the World Series again.

Sidewalk in front of an historic building in the Loop.

Decoration over entrance to building.

I did a little hand sewing while I was gone.

A pile of hexagon flowers.

A pile of hexagon flowers.

Some hexagon border units for a sidelined project.

Some hexagon border units for a sidelined project.

I worked on Hex on the Beach. I’m not entirely happy doing English paper piecing with the 1″ pieces. I’ve used 3 different techniques on these 4 rows – some basted through the paper, some basted only through the fabric and some glue basted to the paper. This project is on hiatus until I figure out how to proceed from here.

The first 4 rows of Tula Pink's Hex on the Beach.

The first 4 rows of Tula Pink’s Hex on the Beach.

2014 Stash Update

February 17, 2014

I know this sort of post is boring but it’s primarily for me. I decided that this year I would start keeping track of what’s coming in and what’s going out to see whether I’m adding to or reducing my vast fabric collection. Counting what’s coming in is reasonably easy to do by yardage but that’s not very workable for measuring what’s used.

To measure outgoing I will be weighing items that are ready to be quilted. I have a hand-held luggage scale that may work for this purpose. I remember an appraiser saying a pound of cotton quilting fabric is about 4 yards. I need to weigh a known amount of fabric to calibrate my measurements because I don’t think it’s very accurate, especially at low weights. … 15 yards weighed 4.6 pounds according to this scale. But, when I weighed about that much of batiks, it never registered over 1.6. What??? Does that make any sense? That’s what it said when I weighed 8 yards of batiks and why I don’t trust this scale. Maybe I need to try my food scale. Another day.


These were my last purchase from Seminole Sampler before the store closed forever. The pink is just because it’s beautiful. The giraffe because I love animal prints. The purple is intended to be binding for a project I inherited from Amy with a little extra for stash.

6.5 yds pink, 1 yd purple and giraffe

6.5 yds pink, 1 yd purple and giraffe

I bought some AccuQuilt Go dies from Mountain Lake Quilting and they included an unexpected gift of 8 wonderful black and white fat quarters. The blue piece is so I can finish the 2012 Saturday Sampler star quilt from Seminole Sampler.

8 unexpected FQs and 2 yards to finish a work in progress.

8 unexpected FQs and 2 yards to finish a work in progress.

Birthday goodies! The top 2 were used as wrapping for gifts. The cat fabrics on the bottom were the gift.

2 FQs and 4 half-yards

2 FQs and 4 half-yards of cat fabrics

Yesterday at Sew and Tell Sharon gave me a plastic grocery bag full of strips. I forgot all about figuring out how much I was adding. I just dumped it into my string bin and started sewing. The stuff in the bin has been thoroughly stirred up so there is no way to extract the new stuff. I may have to make up a number to account for some of it.


At the end of January I took Colette’s quilt to the quilter. The top and backing fabric weighed 4.8-5 pounds. That should be about 19-20 yards. The backing fabric was a little heavier so I’m going with 20.

In: 15 yards    Out: 20 yards     2014 total: -5 yards

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Remembering Bob and Nancy Murdock

January 21, 2014

Nancy Murdock in 2004.

The quilts in this post were gifted to me for various birthdays or Christmas.

I met Nancy Murdock in the late 1980s through a mutual friend. All 3 of us worked at Social Security Headquarters. We started meeting for lunch once a week and working on needlework projects. For reasons I don’t remember I stopped joining them. Over time others joined the group and I rejoined. Nancy named the group “Sew and Tell”. My male co-workers called it “Stitch and Bitch”. Eventually we stopped meeting at work because of difficulty coordinating our schedules. As people retired, we needed some way to meet away from work. We started meeting once a month at Seminole Sampler (closed as of 1/18/2014).

Barbara's Birthday Butterfly, 2004

Barbara’s Birthday Butterfly, 2004
Made by Nancy Murdock

One of the major events at our meeting each month is gathering around the table to eat. Nancy’s husband, Bob, always made deviled eggs for us. They were our favorite food each month. For his 80th birthday Beth made a small piece with the number 80 on it and used deviled eggs making the numbers. I wish I could find a picture of it. It was perfect! Beth is so inventive.

Aurora Borealis 2002 Made by Nancy Murdock

Aurora Borealis 2002
Made by Nancy Murdock

I owe a lot of my stash to Nancy. Every year our guild does a shopping trip to Lancaster county. Nancy and I went together for several years and encouraged each other into excessive stash enhancement. At Sauders, she would commandeer one of the large carts the staff use at the cutting tables to hold the bolts that need to go back to the shelves for us to pile our bolts on. While standing in line to be cut, we often shopped from other people’s piles. Too much fun, as Eleanor Burns says.

Nancy was the first one I ever knew who went on a “fabric diet”, only allowed to buy borders, binding and backing. I belong to the Stashbusters group on Yahoo! where many members do the same fabric diet.

End of Summer Garden, 2009 Made by Nancy Murdock

End of Summer Garden, 2009
Made by Nancy Murdock

In 1999 a group of us from guild decided to do a mystery quilt. The pattern called for a light, medium, and dark of one color and some other stuff. Nancy showed up with the most boring set of fabric I’d ever seen. Definitely not Nancy choices. She thought it over and decided to dispense with the pattern requirements and just went with multi-color prints that read light, medium and dark. It was beautiful. Much more interesting than the boring fabrics she started with. And, pretty as my fabrics were, her quilt was much more appealing.

Nancy was an art quilter and a painter. She was never afraid to experiment with a technique. She often worked with fabric that she hand-dyed. I have several pieces of her hand-dyed fabric in my stash.

Nightflower 2002-2004 Hand painted by Nancy Murdock

Nightflower 2002-2004
Hand painted by Nancy Murdock

Nancy was a few years younger than my mother. Once while talking to Mom about something she asked, “Why are you hanging around with someone that old.” When I told Nancy what she said, Nancy laughed so hard I was afraid she’d fall down and hurt herself.

A few years back, probably longer ago than I realize, Nancy and Bob moved away to be near their son who, in Nancy’s word, “will take care of us in our gaga years.” Bob died 12/27/2013. Eleven days later Nancy died on 1/7/2014.

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

January 21, 2014

For the last several years on holidays, my friend Linda and I have a tradition of getting together for a sewing day in the classroom of her quilt shop. This year we sewed for 2 days, Dec 31 and Jan 1.

I always take more projects than I can work on just so I don’t run out. The one project I had promised to work on required more effort than I felt up to first thing in the morning. I decided to start with some mindless sewing. “Mindless” meaning everything was ready to go and I didn’t have to make decisions – just sew. It was the 2012 Saturday Sampler from Linda’s shop. I had to sew the corners onto the 12 blocks. Everything was going along swimmingly until I realized that I’d sewn the 4th corner on eight of the blocks with no bobbin thread. Bummer! After I finished sewing the corners, we arranged the blocks and I sewed them together.

The 12 blocks assembled.

2012 Saturday Sampler assembled.

The border on the shop sample was a Jinny Beyer border print and looked just fine. When we put it up on the wall next to my quilt, it just didn’t look quite right. I didn’t get a picture of that. I came up with an alternate idea but it required more of this fabric which no longer existed in the store:

Starry fabric

That small amount is all I had. The only hint on the selvedge was “”. What company was it? Luck was with me. Later I was pressing a fabric for a different project and noticed that the selvedge said “”. Yeah! A place to start looking. I discovered that it was a fabric from The Very Collection and I found someone who had some for sale. Now I have 2 yards to play with. That’s for another day.

Now it was time to suck it up and work on the borders for Colette’s quilt. It had stalled because I needed just the right shade of fuchsia/hot pink for a flange. That was harder to find. I had 3 candidates (again, didn’t think to take a picture). We decided on one and I got busy.

On the design wall with the borders pinned next to the quilt.

A closeup of the borders.

A closeup of the borders.

There are 3 pices to the border: the white strip, the pink flange and the black outer border. I had just a little more fabric than I needed but not enough to make another mistake. While cutting the black borders, I cut one too narrow, so there is no more black. The last time I cut borders for a big quilt, they came out too short – twice! I was paranoid about doing that on this one since I didn’t have enough fabric to recover from something like that. So, this one went in the box for another day when I was ready to tackle that.

The third project I worked on was my triplets from a class taught by Norma Campbell. One set of 9 half-yards yields 3 baby Trip around the World quilts. I chose animal prints which were lots of fun. I thought everything was in the box but I was missing the flange fabric that both Linda and I remember selecting at a prior get-together. I went home  and searched the night of the 31st but the fabric I though was the one turned out to not be it. So, I went out into the shop to see if there was anything left (the store was going out of business) that would work. I found this fabric which worked very well:

Kind of ugly and hard on the eyes.

Kind of ugly and hard on the eyes.

Here’s what it looks like with the other border fabrics.

Auditioning the borders.

Auditioning the borders.

That was a good 2 days work. I was raring to go for a third day (I’m sure I could have convinced Linda to go for it) but I had to go back to work on Thursday, Jan 2. On Jan 3, my brother was diagnosed with incurable but “manageble” (for a while), stage 4 cancer. Between the 2, I lost my momentum and didn’t sew at all for 2 weeks.

Sunday, Jan 19, was Sew and Tell day so I needed to figure out something to work on. Monday was Martin Luther King Day which is a federal holiday and that meant no work so Linda and I planned to sew again.

Again, I decided to start with mindless sewing for Sunday. I want to get my scraps down to a manageable amount so I decided that I will sew 6″ string blocks at our meetings this year. I sew the strips to patty paper – the small sheets of parchment paper they use to separate deli meat and cheeses. I got 13 blocks made. That’s pretty good for 4 hours considering the amount of time we spend looking at what everyone else is doing, chatting, eating and this month, remembering a former member and her husband who both recently died.

The mindless sewing on Sunday set me up for the harder tasks on Monday. The first thing I did was finish sewing the binding onto the front of Easy Street. All that was left was connecting the ends. I ran out of time at the December meeting and left the last little bit for another time.

Then I tackled sewing the borders on Colette’s quilt, shown above. Linda was confused when she wrote that I did the binding. I talked about making the binding but decided to leave that for another time. I need to get this quilt to the quilter so I can finish it for our guild show at the beginning of May.

After that I put the borders on the Triplet 1 quilt.

Top complete!

Top complete!

I made some rookie mistakes while sewing yesterday (I’m NOT a rookie). Apparently I’ve successfully overcome my perfectionist tendencies because I didn’t feel the need to fix them. As someone said to me years ago, “You’re not making a $15,000 quilt”. If anyone looks closely enough to find these small issues, they deserve to find something.

Celtic Solstice: choosing fabrics

December 30, 2013

I have way more fabric than any 3 quilters could use in a lifetime. I took to heart the advice of Margaret Miller which was something along the lines of, “Five fabrics clash but a hundred will work.” I’ve always liked to use as many different fabrics in a project as I can. On the other hand, I also like ones with only 2 fabrics.

I’ve been collecting fabrics since the mid to late ’90s. It takes a lot less time to shop for fabric than to use it. For a few years in the late ’90s-early ’00s, I stopped at Mary Jo’s in Gastonia, NC on my way to Jinny Beyer’s Hilton Head seminar. I shopped at the rate of $100 an hour. That’s when their fabric was around $5 yard or so. For the last few years I’ve been cutting down and trying to only buy when I need something for a project or I have a purpose for the new fabric.

I’ve often said I was buying for my retirement when I might not be able to afford fabric. My local quilt shop is going out of business right now (so sad) so I won’t be exposed to as many buying opportunities as I was in the past. And, I’m retiring in 2014 so I should be able to start getting more done than I have in the past.

Last year was my first Bonnie Hunter mystery and I decided to stick with Bonnie’s colors for Easy Street. I like the colors but I didn’t like that my quilt looks like so many others. I said that this year I wouldn’t do Bonnie’s colors so mine would not look like everyone else’s. When I saw the colors she chose, I said, “Darn it all, anyway. I have to use her colors.” The reason is that the colors I have most of are blue, green and orange. I have a good bit of yellow but not the excess that I have of the others. So, despite what I said last year, I’m using the same colors as Bonnie so I can thin the herd a little.

The first thing I do is pull the stacks of colors off the shelf and sort out the ones I think will work for the current project. Then I sort them by value. Some might be out of place, but close enough to see which fabrics might not go.

Green fabrics sorted by value.

Green fabrics sorted by value.

In the picture above you can see the other color piles behind the green. See what I mean about too much fabric? This isn’t all my greens, just the ones I thought I wanted to use this time. I have so much green because I applique. Using a variety of greens for leaves makes the blocks more interensting to look at.

After I have them sorted by color I pull out the ones that don’t fit my vision.

Top group is out, bottom group is in.

Top group is out, bottom group is in, so far.

The bottom group above is what remained after I culled the pile. The ones in the top were too grey, too dark or just not the shade of green I was going for.

Yellow fabrics sorted by value.

Yellow fabrics sorted by value.

Keep on the left, rejects on the right.

Keepers on the left, rejects on the right.

Some of the rejects are too light to contrast with the neutrals. Some are too far on the orange side or too brown or just not what I wanted to use.

There were too many oranges and blues to lay out like that so I’m culling them as we work on the clues. Some of the greens and yellows that are in the first culling might get eliminated as we go. Who knows, some of the rejected fabrics might make it back in. I like to use as many fabrics as possible.

I’ve been out of town for the past week, got home last night, so I’m behind. I can’t work on clue 5 until I do some clue 3 bits. That’s not looking good for this week. I should get some cutting done but I don’t expect to do any sewing on Celtic Solstice. See what everyone else is up to this week at Bonnie’s link-up.


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