Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

I'm going to be participating in a couple of projects that my quilt guild is doing this year, so I've had to make some decisions lately.  It's been fun but also kind of painful.  I have a hard time making decisions about quilting projects because I can get all wrapped up in the possibilities and then can't narrow it down.  Silly me.  And the worst of it is that I drive myself crazy when I do this!

My Mystery Quilt fabics

The first project we're doing is a Mystery Quilt.  I decided to shop my stash for this one, but I had to look at lots of fabrics.  I needed three yards of background, and two yards each of a focus fabric and an accent fabric.  I don't usually buy big chunks of fabric, so not all of them were big enough for this project.  But, after going through my entire stash, pulling out anything that looked like it might be big enough, I finally found a focus fabric I liked AND had enough of!  I even had enough of the dragonfly print background fabric as well.  Both the wild print and the background fabrics have been in my stash for a few years.  I did have to buy the green fabric, but that wasn't a problem.  *grin*

The second project the guild will be doing this year is a Traveling Round Robin. This is a different Round Robin than is usually done.  How this Round Robin works is this:  I decide which fabrics I want my quilt made from, and put them all into a box or a bin with my name on it.   I then decide which 12 inch block I want to make for everyone's Round Robin quilt. Then I make a block in my chosen pattern, using my fabrics, which I also place in my box.  Then I pass my box/bin to the next person on the list, and I also receive a box from another person.  For each box that I receive, I will make the same block in "my" pattern using the fabrics that are in their box, then put the block I made in their box and pass it to the next person on the list.  I'll always pass and receive from the same two people throughout the Round Robin. (As an example,  I always pass to Julie and receive from Bonnie.)  After the Round Robin is all done, I'll have 15 12-inch blocks for a sampler quilt, all in different patterns but all in my fabrics.  Then I'll decide if I need to make more blocks (I might want 20 blocks), how I want to set them together and then finish the quilt.

My Traveling Round Robin fabrics

I went to my LQS and spent about 2 hours looking at fabrics.  Nothing really captured my attention.  At least, nothing I really wanted a quilt made from.  So then I went to Ben Franklin's and looked around.  The only focus fabric there that I loved, I've already bought!  (you can see the pillowcase I made from this fabric here.  You'll need to scroll down a little ways - it's the pillowcase on the right in the photo, with the orange cuff)  So that's what I went with.  I bought another 2 1/2 yards of the fabric (thinking of a possible border) and bought some companion fabric and a bunch of solids.

The next, hardest decision was which block to make??  I would love to do something free-pieced or improvisational, but I don't think it would be the same sort of style as everyone else will be doing, which, to my mind, is important when you're doing a sampler quilt.  I spent hours (days!) poring over quilt books, trying to decide what block to do.  I used up some older scraps to make sample blocks.

The first block I tried is called "Album" and I found it in Judy Hopkins' 501 Rotary Cut Blocks.  Nice enough, but not really "it".

Another block from the same book called "Irish Chain".  I didn't even finish sewing this one together after I decided I really didn't like that yellow fabric - it's thin and flimsy.  I wish I had switched the position of the lights and the darks.  I could just switch the yellow triangles out for the blue, but I don't care enough to spend the time to remake this block.  Again, I like this block but it's still not what I was hoping for.  

So, I really thought about what I would be doing with the block, and decided that I needed a block that could use multiple fabrics easily, as well as look complex without being too difficult to do.  We'll be passing our boxes twice a month in order to have the quilts finished in time for the quilt show in October - hopefully.  So, I thought that complex piecing would make it difficult for me to do the blocks in a timely manner.  That ruled out blocks with a lot of triangles.  I knew I just wouldn't be happy making those.  So I changed my parameters for this and looked in some other books.

not too bad for scraps, huh?
Here is the block I decided on.  It's a Sister's Choice variation and I found it in Kim Diehl's book Simple Charm.  I can use up to 11 fabrics per block, those triangles are really easy to do, I don't need to worry about cutting off the points of the triangles on the edge of the block, and it has easy cutting and assembly.  This will work for me!

Now all I have to do is make my block with my fabrics and I'm ready to pass it on to Julie.  I already have Bonnie's box and I need to make this block with her fabrics as well.

But first, I have to deal with the disaster that my quilt studio has become. Ugh.  No room to work or even walk, so it has become a priority now.  Hopefully that won't take too many days.

Happy quilting!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

February Already?

Whoa!  What happened to January??  I can't believe it's been a whole month since I posted!   Oh, and by the way, my last post was my 300th post!

I went to the mini quilt retreat and had a good time.  I even got some things accomplished.  But I came down with a nasty cold with a vicious cough almost the next day.  And, just when I was getting over that, it turned into a sinus infection.  Ugh.  We were going to be leaving for Florida in a few days when the sinus thing happened, so I quickly took myself to Urgent Care and got some antibiotics and cough medicine.  I finally felt better, right before we got on the plane, and I'm sure all the other passengers were as happy as I was that I was no longer infectious or coughing my lungs out!

We had a great time in Florida and really enjoyed the sunshine.  It wasn't real warm, as FL was getting the side effect of cooler temps during the "winter event" happening in the Northeast U.S.  But it was gloriously sunny, and that was wonderful.  We were in Tampa while DH was having a Professional Development conference with the Co. he works for.  There were 5 other wives there, and we had a grand time seeing the sights.  We went to Clearwater and saw the white sand beaches there (that looked just like powdered sugar!), along with lots of pelicans, and I even got to see wild dolphins playing in the ocean!  Then we went to Tarpon Springs and shopped and ate wonderful Greek food.  (I especially recommend the flaming cheese! Fun to see and yummy!)  Oh yeah, and I finally got some Key Lime Pie.  I had never had the real deal before and it lived up to it's reputation.  Sadly, I never found a fabric shop, but that was OK.  I had fun seeing someplace new, and sunshine in the middle of winter was just what the doctor ordered!

But enough blabbing.  Let's get to the good quilty stuff!

At the mini quilt retreat last month, I managed to make some real progress on my Split Flowers friendship quilt that has been languishing in my project bins for too many years.  I had finally gotten the blocks put together into a top before the retreat and got all the leaves sewn on while I had friends to talk to there.  Now that I've seen the photo, I can see that I need to add just a couple more leaves.

And then it'll be time for the major decision of what to do for the border.  I'm torn between doing some more raw edge applique like the flowers and leaves, probably using a serpentine vine, or doing something pieced.  Any suggestions?  It may come down to what will be faster, as I'd like to have this finished in time for the quilt show in October.

Edited to add: this pattern is from the book Stitch and Split Applique and it's available on Amazon here. 

I didn't make great progress on the Split Decision quilt that I showed in my last post here.  But I got a few blocks made.

Here is an example of what a finished block will look like.  (one block is just folded in half and placed over the other)  I like this!

And that was the end of any sewing that happened in January.  But I have been sewing this past week.

I made some blocks for my guild's raffle quilt.  This year there's no set block size or color theme.  We're just going with the concept of friendship, stars and baskets.

This block finishes at 9 inches and is called "Measure For Measure".  I found the pattern in Judy Martin's book The Block Book.  There are templates you're supposed to use to make these patterns, but I tried to get cute and fake it.  It got ugly.  But I got it done!

This is my second block for the raffle quilt.  It will finish at 12 inches and is called "Crystal Star".  This pattern came from Judy Hopkins' book 501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks.  I love that book!  And this block was easy.  I think it took me longer to decide on the fabric than to construct the block!

That's all for now, folks, but I hope to be back soon.  I've got more quilt-y goings-on to blab about.

Have a creative week!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

New Projects

Doing a quick post today, as I'm busy getting ready to go to a quilt retreat this weekend.

I teased you, in my last post, with mention of a new project that isn't a quilt.  I'm learning a new instrument!  This is my Christmas present:

My darling husband gave me a soprano ukulele!  I've been intrigued with ukes for a while now, and thought that just maybe I could play one.  I played violin when I was in elementary school, and never got any good at it.  Then I found piano, and I've been happy with that ever since.  I don't play really well, or often enough any more, but I love my piano.  So I don't know know why I wanted the uke, but I'm so happy I have one!  There is something about a ukulele that just makes people smile. 

My DS The Kid plays guitar, but I couldn't wrap my fingers around that guitar neck and hold down a string.  My hand fits the uke, and I'm getting a little better at doing the strings.  I can now play the "Happy Birthday" song and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" - both veeeerrrry slowly!  I'm not good at changing chords yet.  But I'm managing to get in at least 30 minutes of practice a day, so am slowly making progress.  It makes me happy.  And I'd like to say a big "Thanks!" to the internets for on-line classes and help.  It's just amazing how much is out there!

I have also started a new project, just for the retreat I'm going on.  I'm taking one older project that needs some machine applique done on it.  I find the process of machine applique very boring, so doing it in a group setting should help.  My new project came from the latest issue of McCall's "America Loves Scrap Quilts" magazine.  

I'm actually using the same colors of fabrics.

I've always loved turquoise and lime together, and also graphic black and white prints, so I shopped my stash for everything I need for this quilt!  Yay!  I may need more fabrics for borders or binding, but that will come later.  I like this pattern so much I might even be able to do it like the pattern calls for!  We'll see how I do with that.  So, I've been furiously ironing and cutting fabric for a few days now. It's nice to cut into some yardage - I hardly ever do that anymore.  Some of these fabrics are pretty old, although there are some newer ones in the mix too.  And I'm even throwing in some of my hand-dyed fabrics.  I find a new project so exciting!  

Here are some potholders I made back before Thanksgiving, and I don't think I ever showed them on the blog.  I haven't been using them since T-Day - I want them to stay nice for awhile!  I made these with some 3 inch string blocks.  These make me smile every time I see them.

I hope you have a fun weekend, and get to do some stitching!  See ya on the other side!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

And another one begins . . . .

. . . a New Year, that is.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  We had a great time here and we did some fun things.  I did manage to (mostly) maintain my serenity.  I didn't do much sewing this year.  I made 2 pillowcases is all, and I totally forgot to take a photo of them.

Got to see the granddaughters in their ballet school's selections of The Nutcracker.  They did so well - they're both becoming very good dancers, and they seem to really enjoy dancing.

Our youngest joined us here for Christmas Eve dinner and opening presents and then we all went over to our oldest's house for Christmas Day for dinner and fun.

This past Tuesday we went to see the very last Hobbit movie.  I'm sad that there will probably never be another one - I've really loved those movies.

Now the holidays are over, the decorations and the Christmas quilts are put away for another year, the cookies are almost all eaten, and it's back to the everyday stuff.  Which is a good thing, because it means more time for sewing!  

I have one more quilt to show you from 2014.  It was actually started a few years ago, but it finally got finished.

Harvest Home
56 x 63 inches
Another simple 4-patch, made with 2 charm packs and companion fabrics.  (This isn't  the best photo - the quilt is not so yellow in Real Life, it's a tan.)  I'm not thrilled with it, and it's not my colors anymore.  But it's DONE and that's the best part! It's even gotten its label. 

As I look back through my blog in 2014, I find that I've finished up 8 older WIPs (works in progress) this year.  Yay!  My goal for 2014 was to finish up some old  projects, and frankly, I'm surprised at how many I got done!  I'd call that a win!  

In an effort to continue finishing some of my old WIPs, I'm still plugging along on the Mystery Quilt from the year 2000.  I'm getting tired of it - it has about a million units - but I refuse to get stalled on it again.  I WILL finish this quilt this time!

more flying geese etc.
I've made all the rest of the flying geese (in different colors from the F.G. on my previous post) and the strips I showed in the previous post have all been sewn.  This is not how they'll go together, but I like this arrangement of the strips.  I need to remember this for later!  This could be fun in another quilt.

final arrangement of the strips
Now all the strips are sewn into their two final configurations, and it's time to sew all the flying geese into their final configuration too.  It's hard to tell from this photo, but the same strips are sewn together two different ways.  I'm not sure how they'll go into the final layout of the quilt.  I'm on step 5 of 6 steps - getting close now!

I ended up making an even dozen of the Block Lotto blocks for December.

Here are 12 Big-O blocks that finish at 7 inches.  And I was one of the winners of the Block Lotto for December, so I'll end up with 48 of these blocks.  Enough for a quilt.  Yay!

I've gotten 2 blocks made, so far, for the Block Lotto for January.

A Double 9-Patch block in black and white. Such a classic block, but there's a minor twist in the choice of fabrics.  Either a black with white print or a white with black print, but the same layout of where the black and white go.  Interesting, no?  I hope to get another couple done this month.

That's all for now.  I hope to be back soon, and I'll show you some of the exciting presents I got for Christmas.  I've got a new project, and it's not a quilt!

I hope you have a creative week!

p.s. Don't miss Audrey's (of Quilty Folk blog) posts on Scrap Quilts here and here.  She has some great things to say and she illustrates what she's saying very well!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ready or Not . . .

. . . the holidays are coming!  Are you ready?  I think I'm mostly ready.  Well, except for wrapping the presents, finishing the few Christmas cards left and baking two batches of cookies.  That's close though, don't you think?  I'm trying to maintain serenity.  (Yeah, right.)

Christmas Spools
17 x 21 inches

Just to add some Christmas cheer to my blog, here's an "oldie but a goodie" that I've put up every year since I made it.  This was made sometime between 1986 and 1990.  (Bad quilter - didn't put on a label)  It definitely has '80's fabrics in there!  I was inspired to make this by a sample in the window of my favorite quilt shop at that time "Going to Pieces" in Pleasanton, California.  I just fell in love with that little quilt, so I went home and copied it from memory.  No pattern.  And I made mitered corners on those spools!   And hand-quilted.  I still love it!

Here is the first half of the flying geese I need to make for the mystery quilt I'm working on.  I couldn't even get them all in the photo!  And sorry for the crummy picture - it doesn't work too well to take pix at night.  I need to make this many again, only in different colors.  I'm not sure how big these units are, but over on the left there are 2 of my Block Lotto blocks for this month and they are 7 inch blocks.

Here are some more mystery quilt units that I've been working on.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but that is a rusty red and a black-ish brown.  This quilt will be autumn colors.  Nothing is hard sewing, but there is lots and lots of pieces and units.

I bought the Paperweights pattern from Karen Griska (of the Selvage Blog) on her Etsy store.  I'm making a little test sample quiltlet to see how well the fusible I'm using will work.  I think this will be cute!  

We had a deer visitor again yesterday.  This deer used to come around with his mama and sibling, and now he's on his own.  (really, I don't know if it's a "he" - I just call him that).  He's still young.  This spring's baby, I think.  But there he was lying in the yard, and he stayed that way for at least 20 minutes.  My picture-taking (through the kitchen window) didn't seem to bother him at all.  He watched me as much as I watched him!  Then he just got up and sauntered off.

Good luck with your last-minute holiday preparations!  I hope you get a few minutes to do some sewing or quilting.  I'm going to go sew with friends this afternoon!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Vintage Eye Candy

I've been sewing and sewing, but since I'm only making parts and pieces so far, there are no photos to share with you.  So, since I'm sorely lacking in any good blog material, I thought I would share some pictures of vintage quilts with you.  Unfortunately, in the case of these quilts, I didn't manage to get a photo of the entire quilt, but I got some closeups, mostly because I love looking at all the vintage fabrics!  I hope you'll enjoy them too.

These quilts were in the bed turning in our local quilt show in October.  If you don't know what a bed turning is, I'll explain.  When I first came to the Pacific Northwest, I'd never heard of a bed turning.  I had visions of putting a bed with wheels in the middle of the floor and turning it all around.  To perhaps view a quilt on the bed from all angles?  *giggle*  I had no idea!  I'd never heard of or seen a bed turning in California, but I've seen them done at a lot of the quilt shows in this area.  Do you ever see them where you live?  I'm just curious.

Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt

How a bed turning is done:  First, you take all the quilts and layer them on the bed.  Then the audience sits on chairs placed around the bed while one person reads the story about the quilt (from the owner or maker of the quilt) while two other people (the "holders") hold up the top edge of the quilt to show it to all the viewers.  Then the holders "turn down" or fold the quilt down to the foot of the bed to expose the next quilt in the pile.

GFG closeup

Usually the quilts tend to be antiques or vintage but this year our theme was "quilts with stories".  Because, really, isn't that what we all want to know?  Who's grandma made it, where and when did they live, or did you find this for an incredible price at Goodwill or a yard sale?  Whatever your story was, we wanted to know.

sorry about the shadow

I love these bright fabrics, and the rather random placement of some of them.  Fun!

Isn't that misplaced polka dot fun?

We had a lot of people come to watch the bed turning, which we had 3 times a day during the quilt show.  There were a lot of people who didn't know what a bed turning was, but they came out of curiosity and just loved the little show!   There was a lot of comments and interaction between the audience and the reader and "holders" and that was fun.  No one else wanted to be the reader so I usually read the stories, which meant that I didn't get to see the quilts very well.  The last showing on the last day, I had someone else read the stories and I was a "holder".  I took these photos as we were folding up the quilts after the show.

quilt with string blocks

This was an interesting quilt.  It was found at a garage sale a few years ago.  It has another quilt inside of it!  In places you could kind of see another pattern through the top fabrics, and there were some fabrics where you could see some printing, which I think must have been feed sacks.  This quilt was very heavy!

string stars

This quilt is owned by the same person as the other string quilt above, and was also purchased at the same garage sale.  It also has another quilt inside!  I'm guessing both quilts were made by the same quilter.  This quilt was a little more used and there were a couple of spots that were coming unstitched so that I could peek inside.  I could see another quilt inside that was pieced and quilted, but quite worn out.   Both of these string quilts were the ultimate in scrap quilting!

By the way, the oldest quilt in our bed turning this year was a top, purportedly made by the mother or grandmother of Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame.  It had been passed down in the family for many generations.  It was very thin and frail fabrics, and it was believable (to me) that it just possibly could have been from the late 1700's.  It was a pieced pattern (all by hand, of course) in burgundy and white solid fabrics.  Dumb me, I didn't get a picture!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

What's Up

I've been busy around here. November is a crazy month for us here.  There are 3 family birthdays in one week - me and both of my kids!  We've had major windstorms and power outages, unseasonably freezing weather (twice in November!) and we also do Turkey Day.  And my dear husband was gone for 2 weeks to China on business, arriving home the day before T-Day.  Whew!

I think I'm finally recovered from hosting Thanksgiving!  We had the whole family here, except for my niece, who's in Vermont.  10 people.  It was crazy but fun, and all the food was soooo good.  Probably too good, if you know what I mean.  But, the house is cleaned up, most of the food is gone/eaten and I'm rested up - now I get to sew!

Here's what I've been working on:

One Big-O block

My first Block Lotto block for the December Lotto drawing.  Easy-peasy and fun.  I made a mistake in measuring a pillowcase and had to cut some off.  This was made from what I cut off.  Now to make 11 more!  Dark background (in this case black) and quilter's choice for the other fabric.

9 Easy X blocks
Here are my blocks I made for the November Block Lotto drawing.  I didn't win. *pout*  But that's OK.  There's always the next month!  These were also easy and fun.  Jewel tones and black.  I always love that combo.

I finally got around to finishing a couple of pillowcases for my youngest son's host "mom" in Spain.  It was taken me an embarassingly long time to get these done.  There was internets research and learning opportunities involved in this process.  It turns out that Spanish bed pillows are quite different from what we have here in the U.S.A.  And they're different sizes depending on the bed they are on too.  And, it also involved translating centimeters to inches.  (Maths)  So I had to guess, especially when I misplaced my measuring tape.  Then when I found it I discovered that there is centimeters on the "other" side!  Which is why I ended up cutting off some fabric - one pillowcase came out way longer that the other one.  Now they're the same.  Not saying they're the right size - but they are consistent.  The host mom really got a kick out of my son's pillowcases he took with him (we both travel with our own pillows and I make all his pillowcases in fun fabrics), so I thought she might like a couple too.  This ended up being much more involved than I ever would have guessed, but I really hope they fit and that she likes them!

B's Scrappy Trips

This past summer, I taught a workshop on Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips pattern to my guild.  They had a lot of fun doing those blocks!  Some of the ladies actually got their quilt finished in time for our quilt show this year.  (not me, though)  So I thought you might like to see how well they did.  I think the quilts came out great!

B's quilt is so bright and cheery!  I love blue and yellow together.

J's Scrappy Trips

J. used a Jelly Roll of Minick and Simpson fabrics.  I love all those rich reds!

M's Scrappy Trips

M. used a jelly roll.  She chose to use black sashing in her quilt.

Right now I'm in the midst of working on a mystery quilt from the year 2000.  I think it may have aged enough by now to get finished.  It's going to be a twin size, and hoo boy, it's taking me a while.  There are about a million units to this one!  No real block, per se, just lots of units to form an over-all design.  Yes, I cheated and looked at the last clue already.  I started running out of fabric and had to substitute, so I wanted to know if that would work.  Fortunately, I started this out doing scrappy so throwing in another couple of fabrics isn't the end of the world.  I'm on Step 4 of 6.  No photos yet.  Soon, hopefully.  Next up is sewing a few thousand flying geese units.  Well, it feels like a few thousand of them!

The cats were playing the other night, and I tried to take a photo of them because they were so cute.  But, the flash didn't come out like I thought it would.  

Cat headlights.  Dunkel has his regular beams on and Shade has his high beams on!  hee hee!