I Wish You A Merry Quilt-A-Long

I'm super excited to announce a new Christmas mystery quilt along! We will have 12 blocks by 11 designers released every other Tuesday from August 1 to December 5. The best part is, it's free!

One of the things I'm most excited about is that we will have 11(!) hosts. That means you will get to see 11 different takes on each block on the day it is released. You will also have 11 guaranteed cheer leaders, 11 people sharing their tips for success, and 11 people to answer your questions if you get stuck. How great is that!

So who are the hosts?

I am joining a wonderful group of bloggers to make this quilt along the best that it can be. In alphabetical order, they are:

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Diane at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Karen at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Will I have to rush to finish by Christmas?

Not at all. We are setting an easy pace with the blocks being released every other week. We do have a couple of weeks when we will release two blocks at the same time, but at least one block in each of those weeks is pretty quick. The bonus of doubling up on those two weeks is that the final block is released on December 5. That gives you nearly 3 whole weeks to complete your top before Christmas.

Where do I find the tutorials?

If you follow my blog, you will get all of the information sent directly to your inbox when each block comes out. Check out the sidebar to subscribe. My emails will include my take on the block, any tips or tricks I discovered as I made the block, and a link to the tutorial.

For those of us that like to plan ahead, here's the complete schedule:

August 1 - Vanda at Quilt in Piece
August 15 - April at JANDA Bend Quilts
August 29 - Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts and Jennifer at Inquiring Quilter
September 12 - Sherry at Powered by Quilting
September 26 - Sandra at Sandra Healy Designs
October 10 - Sandy at SandyStar Designs and Sola at Alice Samuel's Quilt Company
October 24 - Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
November 7 - Diane at Cwilt
November 21 - Kathleen at Kathleen McMusing
December 5 - Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts

Can I see the blocks now?

Sorry, friend. This quilt along is a mystery, so we get to wait for each block to be released. I know it's hard, but I promise it will be worth it!

What fabric should I get?

I started with 4 main fabrics that I think go well together. These will primarily be used as backgrounds for my blocks. Since the quilt will have 12 blocks that each finish at 12", one yard of each of these fabrics is more than enough. I decided to work in solids, but you can choose whatever you like best.

For the rest of the fabric, anything goes. This is a great opportunity to play in your scraps. You will for sure want a few different reds and greens  - it is a Christmas quilt, after all! You'll also need some bits and pieces of white, black, golden yellow, brown, and orange. From there, supplement with whatever you like.

Here are most the fabrics I will be working with. You can easily get away with less, but I want a good bit of variety in my blocks. I do still need to get a bit of orange, and I'm considering adding a lavender. If you have a decent pile of scraps to pull from, I wouldn't worry too much about choosing fabrics up front.

If you decide to go with a traditional layout, then I suggest 1 yard for sashing and 1 yard for the border. I'm going to wait to choose that until I have all of my blocks. Then I can decide what fabrics will be best to complement them.

What techniques will we use?

One of the best parts of having so many designers is the wide variety of techniques that we get to use. There will be regular machine piecing, paper piecing, piecing with templates, fusible applique, needle turn applique, and just a touch of hand embroidery.

If you're anything like me, you're not an expert in absolutely everything on that list. As a matter of fact, there are a couple things on there I haven't even tried before. But don't let that scare you off! This is the perfect opportunity to learn something new.

Each designer is providing a detailed tutorial with their block, so you will have good instructions for any techniques you aren't familiar with. There will be a very supportive group of hosts, designers, and participants in the Facebook group to help you with your questions. You can also ask me directly, and I'll do whatever I can to help you out. Of course, if there's a technique you really don't like, you can always make the block another way. Everyone's creative interpretations are welcome.

How do I share my progress?

I'm so glad you asked! The best part of a quilt along is seeing all of the different approaches from other quilters. We have four great ways for you to stay in touch.

Facebook

Laura of Slice of Pi Quilts has created a Facebook group just for us. You can search Facebook for I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long, or you can simply click this handy dandy link to go straight there. This is the perfect place to ask questions, cheer each other on, and post pictures.

Instagram

I don't know about you, but I think Instagram is just about the greatest thing since sliced bread. I love how quick and easy it is to share pictures and get inspiration from other quilters around the world.  For this quilt along, we have our very own hashtag! Just share your pictures with #iwishyouamerryqal. While you're at it, I would love to connect with you. I will be posting with the hashtag, and you can also find me as @snowydaysquilting

Link-Ups

At the end of each tutorial, the block designer will have a link-up for that block. The link-up will stay open until the next block is released. That gives you two whole weeks to finish your block and join the link-up.

Right Here

Even if you don't want to share in any of the other places, I would love to hear from you in the comments section of my blog. It's a great place to encourage each other as we work on our quilts. I always do my best to respond personally to anyone that leaves their email address with their comment.

Are there prizes?

But of course! There will be a prize drawing every time a block is released. To be eligible to win, just share your finished block before the next block comes out. Prizes include patterns, batting from The Warm Co., thread from Aurifil, a gift certificate to The Fat Quarter Shop, signed quilt books, precuts, and so much more!

In addition to that, we will have a grand prize drawing for anyone that makes all 12 blocks and posts their completed quilt top by January 16, 2018. That gives you 6 whole weeks from the time the last block is released to finish your quilt top. It doesn't need to be quilted to be eligible to win.

How do I join?

Easy peasy! Just follow my blog (or any of the other hosts' blogs) and you will see when each block is released. Make the block with your own fabrics and share it so we can all cheer each other on.

The more people that participate, the more fun it will be. If you decide to join, please tell your friends. If you're on Instagram, save the quiltalong graphic and share it with #iwishyouamerryqal. If you're on Facebook, share this blog post or a post from the Facebook group with your friends. If you're a blogger, tell your followers and link back to this post. And most of all, leave me a comment so I know you're in!

I can't wait to get started. I hope you'll join us! It's going to be a blast.

EPP Hexies

For me, English paper piecing has been a journey of trial and error - mostly error. I originally fell in love with the idea of English paper piecing about four years ago. I started a project with scrappy greens and neutrals, and I sewed on it every chance I got. I was planning to make a nice, big quilt for the bed.

As the project grew, it became increasingly obvious that there wasn't enough contrast in my fabrics. The design was getting lost! I was disappointed, but I knew I wouldn't be happy with it if I kept going. It was time to try something else.

Once I decided to scrap my original project, it was back to the drawing board. After the first experience, I thought I would rather have less fabrics and fantastic contrast than a bunch of fabrics and risk repeating my mistake. I also decided that with how long English paper piecing takes, I would be better off starting with something at least a little bit smaller.

I opened up EQ7 and spent quite a bit of time playing with different ideas. This is what I eventually landed on. It will be about 45" by 50" finished, and will be a wall hanging. It uses just two fabrics, which keeps things simpler and allows the design to shine.

Once I had a design, I headed to the local quilt shop. I found lovely purple and grey fabrics that would be perfect, then I looked for thread. Even with all of the values in my original project, I never had any trouble with the thread showing between the hexagons. With that in mind, I thought I would be fine with a single thread color for this project, too. I chose a grey thread with a value somewhere between the two fabrics and headed home.

When I started to sew, I quickly saw that the thread was visible between the purple hexagons. I told myself it wouldn't be that noticeable when standing back from the wall hanging, and I thought anything darker would show even worse between the grey hexies. I forged ahead. Unfortunately, the more I progressed, the less I liked what I was making, and my project ground to a virtual halt.

The last time I pulled it out, I decided to try adding a purple hexagon with purple thread (it's the purple hexie on the top left). It looked so much better! I debated for a while between continuing with my newfound wisdom and starting over. I eventually decided that I would be putting way too many hours into this to be unhappy with the center. It was time for take 3.

By the time I had the center 7 hexies together, I was grudgingly happy that I had started over. It looks way better without thread showing in the seams. Now I use a thread that matches whichever hexagon I am currently adding. This ensures that it never contrasts with either fabric. Even when looking up close, the thread isn't noticeable between the hexagons.

Now I'm so glad I started over. I was concerned about my wasted effort, but I've made more progress on this version in the last month than I did in two years on the old one. I'm absolutely thrilled with how this is coming together. I finally have a hexagon project that I'm excited about finishing.

What about you? Do you have a handwork project you enjoy? Was it smooth sailing out the gate, or did you have a rocky start like me? I would love to hear about it! If you leave your email address when you comment, I will be sure to respond to you personally.

I'm linking up with Wednesday Wait Loss and Midweek Makers.

Posted on May 16, 2017 and filed under Quilting, Work in Progress.

350 Blocks Project: April Report

I finally started my Helicopter quilt this month! I designed it a couple of years ago, and I've been collecting fabrics for about a year and a half. My goal was to have enough fabrics for every helicopter seed to be unique. Once I achieved that, I had to wait to be able to get all of my background fabric from a single dye lot. The fabric I chose for the background is Hemp from Hoffman Fabric's collection of hand dyed watercolor batiks

Cutting for this quilt requires a fair bit of organization. I was able to set up an extra folding table to keep everything in order. The only place for the table was in front of the bathroom door, so I got to crawl under it whenever I needed inside. Quilting is always an adventure! At this point, about 1/3 of the quilt has been cut, and the table is back in the closet.

I had a lovely four-day retreat with friends at Windy Stitches this month, and I spent most of it working on the blocks for this quilt. I'm paper piecing them, and I'm loving how accurately they come out. The points are beautiful!

I was able to finish 25 blocks in April. I made one sample while I was cutting, and I sewed the remaining 24 at retreat. It feels amazing to see this coming together in fabric after so much time spent planning.

After I got home, I spent a little bit of time working on my Roller Rink quilt. I've chosen to go scrappy instead of strip piecing. So far, all of my squares have been sewn into pairs. Next, I'll be sewing 2/3 of the pairs into fours, and the other 1/3 will get one more square to make sets of three. This project has been on the back burner since October, and I'm excited to be working on it again.

Block Totals

April Total: 25
Year to Date Total: 123
Year to Date Goal: 103

So far, I'm staying on track. But the goal for May is 46 blocks! I don't have high hopes, but we'll see what happens. If I'm able to get enough sewing time, I may be able to finish my Roller Rink blocks. I'm planning on making 42 of those.

If you're interested in the 350 Blocks Project, you can get all the information on how it works here. You can see the monthly goals and everyone's progress here.

Posted on May 1, 2017 and filed under Quilting, 350 Blocks Project.