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New Year, Old UFOs!

I’ve been trying to finish up a couple of old UFO quilting projects, lately.  There are so many other new projects I’d like to start, but the backlog of UFOs was weighing on my conscience.  I’ll feel better with some of the old WIPs wrapped up and scratched of that mental list.  

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My first UFO pick-back-up of the year was the stack of rainbow-colored string blocks.  You may remember them… I originally thought I’d make them into a quilt of my own design, based on paper lanterns, but as time went on, I lost steam and didn’t want to spend that much effort on them.  

At that point, I wasn’t sure what to do with them, instead.  I played around with ways of laying them out in rainbow order, and came up with a layout that would be “okay”, but I still wasn’t excited about it— and then serendipity struck, and I found something better!

I had some digital rewards points to use up on Amazon before they expired, so I bought the Kindle version of a quilt book that happened to be on sale.  As I write this now, it’s back to regular price again, but that could change at any time.  If anyone’s interested, you can click the image of the cover for an affiliate link. 

The book is 75 Fun Fat-Quarter Quilts: 13 Quilts + 62 Innovative Variations.  Be aware that the 62 “variations” are presented with just graphics, so there are no photos of finished quilts beyond the 13 base quilts.  Some of the quilts are very pretty, but in at least a few cases the variations get a bit predictable and repetitive.  Then again, I’ve yet to see a pattern book or magazine (for any hobby) where I’ve absolutely loved every pattern.  It’s always a mixed bag.    

In any case, the pattern that caught my eye for the string blocks is named “Beaded Curtain”, designed by Allegory Lanham.  As I flipped through the pages, it occurred to me that this pattern could work with my string-pieced rectangles.  In the original, all the rectangles are the same size, and mine are not, but that wasn’t a problem: I’d just alternate rows of large and small (or short and tall) blocks.

I laid the string blocks out on the design wall and figured out how many more string blocks I needed— and in which colors, for a pleasingly “random” layout.  Then I started making flying geese in the right numbers and colors, in the correct size to match my string blocks.  

(Incidentally, I love this ruler for making four-at-a-time flying geese:  Lazy Girl Flying Geese x 4 No Math Ruler. I’ve had mine since 2016; it was quite a bit cheaper back then… But if you need to make a lot of flying geese, but don’t already have a method you enjoy, this might be worth it for you.  No math is involved, and there’s no waste.  You don’t even need to sliver-trim them at the end— or at least I never have.  Just find the right markings on the ruler to yield the size units you need, cut one large square from one fabric and four small ones from the other, then follow the instructions for marking, cutting, and pressing.  It’s very easy to use, and I get consistent results, despite my cutting/piecing shortcomings. 😜)

Before long, the geese were done, and it was time to join!  It felt like it went together very quickly, since I had almost all of my rectangles ready and waiting.  I joined the first few rows using the webbing method, but I found it cumbersome.  Just not for me!  So I broke down the rest of the quilt into two segments and joined them in the old-fashioned way, which I found preferable.  It all came together eventually!  

The finished flimsy is waiting to be turned into a finished quilt!  

More about making this quilt top:

I used an old sheet for the background.  (I guess you’d still call it a background, even though it takes up less than half the surface of the quilt…)  I wanted grey.  This fabric leans more toward the army green/olive green side of grey, but I think it still works.  

When marking the fabric while making the flying geese units, I had the chance to try out a Christmas gift.  I think this is the exact set, but if not, there are other similar ones.  (It’s another affiliate link.)

“8 Pieces Heat Erasable Pens for Fabric with 52 Refills Fabric Marking Pens Fabric Markers”:

I can’t remember where I originally saw these mentioned online, but I eagerly added them to my wish list, because I’d been interested in trying Frixion pens, and these seemed to do the same thing.  Now, I haven’t actually tried a Frixion pen, so I can’t compare, but my understanding was that you mark on fabric with the pen, then “erase” the marking with the touch of a warm iron.  These pens do that, too.  

I started with the white pens, since I was marking dark fabric.  After a few experiments, I noticed that it took a little while for the white ink to reach its full opacity.  You can go over the line a couple of times (or more), if necessary, but once I learned that the line gets brighter after a couple of seconds, one pass was probably enough.  Two was plenty.  

The iron really does make the ink disappear completely.  Someone in the product Q&A section asked if the color might come back if the quilt is exposed to cold air, as can happen with Frixion pens.  Apparently it’s possible, but someone indicated that washing the quilt will prevent this.  My quilts are unlikely to ever get really cold, anyway.  When you’re marking lines that will be hidden inside the quilt, I doubt it would be a problem, even if they did reappear, but if you use them to mark the exterior for quilting, embroidery, etc., I can see how it might be a significant issue.  Of course, you can always gently use an iron to press the marks away, again, if nothing else works.  

I was a bit surprised at how quickly you use up the gel ink in these pens.  You could easily go through a pen or two per quilt, if you’re doing much marking.  However, they come with a lot of refills (52 in this set, along with eight empty pens– two of each color), and they’re cheap per refill.  It looks like some sellers offer just the refills, which is what I’ll try to find if/when I run low.  

I definitely recommend these.  They glide over the fabric so smoothly!  Much, much easier to use than pencils, which (for me) tended to catch on the fabric and break if I wasn’t very careful.  I think they’re easier to use than the Sewline ceramic pencils, too, primarily because you’re supposed to wash or erase those away and not heat-set them, but… I usually need to use an iron exactly where I’ve marked, and I’m too lazy to wash/erase lines!  (Confession:  I never erase my lines… I just hope that no-one will notice or care, if they do notice. 😛👍) Anyway, I love that this gel ink disappears with an iron, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll wash out later on.  It’s simple to test them on fabric beforehand, if you have any concerns.  

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Another UFO project is back under the needle, but that one will wait until next time!  

Also been happening since the New Year came in: Crumb-piecing continues as and when the mood strikes (and the crumbs accumulate).  They’re a fun, mindless project for just goofing around.  I love scraps that would otherwise end up in the garbage!  You never have to worry, with them. Whatever you do is better than what the alternative would’ve been (tossing them out).  

Next time, the next UFO!


I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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