Still Circling

Do you have projects on your list of UFO's that are there because you're stuck on what to do? Or do you have projects you haven't started, even though you have everything you need? And you haven't started because you're afraid your ideas for the project won't work? Eventually, you start, but there is a long lag between ready-to-go and the day when you actually say Go! My friend Dana has a perfect term for this process. It's called "circling". And that's what I've been doing for more than five years on this stupid barn quilt. So here's how it went yesterday.

Remember that I'm working from this photograph:

And here's where I left off in May of 2011:

Just then, I checked my Quilts-in-Progress page to make sure I had my dates correct. Interestingly, I started this quilt on May 18th, which is the anniversary of the day Mt. St. Helens blew its top.

So...coincidence? I think not. Anyway...

As I was saying yesterday, I had in mind to put a quilt block on the structure on the left, envisioning a barn along a quilt barn trail. So I pulled this long-forgotten book off my shelf,

These are actually kind of fun. They are paper-pieced quilt blocks 3 inches square. There is also card stock to go along with them, and so you can make quilted greeting cards, which I've done a time or two. The paper-pieced blocks are small enough that it's one of the few times I use my Add-an-Eighth ruler. 

Do you ever get the feeling you're being watched?

With a certain degree of intensity?

So I picked a conventional-looking quilt block that was sewn together in four pieces.

The smallest I could make it after trimming was three inches. 

And then I stuck it to the barn. It's a little too large, but I'm not changing it. It's a very exuberant block along the quilt barn trail.

And, yes, I know I could reduce the size of those paper-piecing templates, but if I tried to make it any smaller, I'm sure I'd end up slitting my own throat. So, never mind. Don't even bring it up, if you know what's good for you. And me.

After making peace with the size of the quilt block, I went ahead with my other idea and fussy cut some sunflowers from a larger piece of fabric. 

And, yes, they're too big too. They look like the sunflowers that ate Los Angeles. I'm not giving up on these...yet...because I think they might look better once I've stitched in the stems. And, let's admit that some sunflowers are really big. I'm thinking of the ones that are eight feet tall. So, I don't know. I might end up going back to my trellis and small flowers idea. All of the pieces for the quilt are just spray-basted down, and so they can be repositioned. For now, I'm still circling. Maybe I'll like it better when I put the roof and chimney on that structure. It'll make the whole building a little larger. And the cupola will make the barn on the left larger too. Sigh.

There was some good news on the productivity front, however. Mike set up my sawhorse and plywood work space in the garage so that I could sandwich the Gingerbread Square quilt. Honestly, seeing it all spread out like this made me smile. It's one of the prettiest quilts I've ever made.

I gave myself plenty of room with the quilt back and the batting, but there was more than I really needed at the bottom.

I ended up cutting a narrow strip of batting from the bottom...

And then folding over the quilt back. I can use this section for practice and for checking my tension. 

My favorite method of basting is spray basting. I've had better luck with spray than with pin or thread basting. Before switching to the sawhorses and plywood, I always sprayed the back sides of the batting and the quilt top so that I wasn't dealing with sticky stuff at the edges of the quilt. Using the sawhorses and plywood means that I have to spray the tops of things, and the sticky spray is exposed at the quilt edges. It doesn't matter when the margins are narrow, but here, I think folding over the quilt back will help keep that sticky stuff from sticking to everything. The space for checking my tension will be nice too.

That was all the quilting-related stuff I did yesterday. Mike and I pretty much bored ourselves to death this weekend, and so we went out for dinner last night. When we got home, we retrieved Saturday's mail from the mailbox. Inside was this sweet package from my friend Sharon Vrooman. When she made her little key chain pouches recently, I was saying how much these would help me. I don't carry a purse any more, instead opting for a cell phone case that holds my driver's license and my debit card. (What else do you need?) The only problem with my method is that I never have any cash, and it's embarrassing to buy a bag of M&M's using a debit card. 

So...I whined and complained to Sharon about this first world problem of mine, and she said she'd make one for me...and she made one for my friend, Sue too! Isn't Sharon the sweetest thing? I sort of think of her as my quilting godmother since I've learned so much from her. And these little coin pouches are going to solve my never-having-cash problem.

And just to sweeten the pot, she sent me some of this fabric to boot. What a fun package to open!

Thank you, Sharon. 

Also, I received my window decal from the RV Quilters. This is another Facebook group I've joined. We're quilters on the move, and so we got together and did a Tee Spring run of t-shirts, decals, mugs, and some other stuff so that we can identify one another when we're traveling. I got the window decal...

and a long-sleeve t-shirt, which hasn't arrived yet. What fun!

Now I need for Mike to retire. Today marks exactly five months until his retirement. With my window decal and my t-shirt, it's becoming ever more urgent that he retire as soon as possible, wouldn't you agree? We both need to get on the road with the sewing machine.


  1. Keep the sunflowers, they balance the barn quilt. I think it will turn out great that way. Love your Christmas quilt.

  2. Sharon is definitely a sweetie! What great kitty fabric. You'll definitely need a Featherweight to accompany you on your travels :-)

  3. I love your barn quilt so far. It's looking wonderful!! Your Gingerbread square quilt looks amazing!!!! That's a sweet gift from Sharon! You could fussy cut a cat for your barn quilt. And then you'd have a barn cat.

  4. I can tell from Smitty's laser eyes that he has already made this suggestion...but I'm sure you would take the advice of a certified quilt authority. Instead of trying to make a smaller paper pieced star and smaller sunflowers, simply enlarge the background barn part.

    You're welcome!

  5. Now that is a new one - quilting godmother, but thank you - it works both ways. I like the additions to the barn scene - large does not bother me, character and interest. My Dad's giant sunflowers would go to and pass the second story windows. Oh, I know those drilling eyes - they follow me around at times too.

  6. I love the quilt on the barn, I love the sunflowers and the fact that they look like the "Sunflowers that ate Los Angeles"! That made me chuckle.
    What great gifts from Sharon. I just love that kitty fabric. so appropriate for your farm!
    Also the RV Quilters is a great idea. I bet you can't wait to get on the road and meet with your RV quilting buddies!

  7. That barn quilt is the perfect touch! And, great sky fabric, too.

  8. Love the barn quilt addition, that is a fun piece and nice to take your time and think about how you want to do things, a beautiful work in progress. Love your cat fabrics, I have a few, this year I need to start thinking about using all the fabrics I have been stashing away.


  9. I have several tiny blocks that are 2 inch finished if you are interested. I have never had a lot of luck spray basting a large quilt.

  10. The barn quilt is a wonderful addition and your sunflowers look just the right size from here Barbara!

  11. The barn quilt is a wonderful addition and your sunflowers look just the right size from here Barbara!

  12. Lots of lovely eye candy today as always and lots of dry humour, my favourite! I agree I just love the gingerbread square quilt, so pretty and the barn is beautiful. So what if things aren't exact. You'd just print a copy of the photo if that's what you wanted!!

  13. Now I have an image of Sharon flitting around with a wand, right out of a Disney movie and I like it, Bibbity Bobbity Boo!. I think the sunflowers and the quilt are good on the quilt, it's art so let it speak of your love of quilts and flowers :). Lot's of circling going on in this house and it's making me crazy.

  14. Well, you might be circling, but you are one of the most industrious quilters I know. I so enjoy your posts; they make a good start to my day with chuckles and whatnot. Love the barn block and the sunflowers, and the Gingerbread quilt is lovely. How fun to get a little gift from your quilting godmother too! Wendy at piecefulthoughts@gmail.com

  15. Love the sunflowers that ate Los Angeles! I think they are great. It's good to see that Sadie and Smitty are keeping an eye on you. You know how you can get!
    Great idea to have a "test strip" on your quilt. It is such a pretty quilt.
    Nice surprise package from Sharon!

  16. Love the barn quilt! Have you tried auditioning different grass/foreground fabric?

    1. Studio TBF, you are no reply, and so this blog reply will have to do. No, I like that fabric because it has the same colors as the photograph; however, I will be doing some thread-painting to include more green grass and more detail. A lot of the details will be added with thread.

  17. I think I answered all your questions "yes" lol. Oh, and I am a camper quilter! And a cabin quilter, too. Does that count as an RV? Lol. On the serious side, the work you put into that gingerbread house quilt has paid off....it is absolutely stunning.

  18. Landscape quilts are translations from a medium (photographs) that captures life in realistic scale. As with words, sometimes things change in translation. So the barn quilt and sunflowers still tell the gist of the story. I think once you get the cupola on the barn and the roof/chimney on the shed you'll like it better.

  19. I think the barn quilt is just a matter of perspective at this point since the barns are "complete" yet. However, you could always move the block down put some lines through it and make it a barn door quilt. I actually saw a barn painted this way once. I just don't remember where. I think Ariane has a great idea of fussing cutting a cat(or two or three) and putting them in the quilt as barn cats--kind of like you did for the color of the month campers.

  20. My goal is to quilt in an RV on the road once I retire! Two-three years to go yet, but that would just be so much fun!

  21. I have a friend here, who is making the gingerbread quilt. She has 7 blocks done (saw them today). Cute stuff from Sharon. She is such a sweetie!

  22. I like the barn quilt, it's perfect. The flowers don't look too big, I think it will work when you add the stems. Very fun coin purses. Sharon does beautiful work. I will miss her Let's Book It Challenge next year.

  23. I love the barn quilt, you've done a great job! About circuling, yes, I am circuling too. My circle just keeps getting bigger and bigger even though I try to make it get smaller,,,,no luck here yet!!