Monday, September 18, 2017

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2017

Amy at Amy's Creative Side is again hosting her Bloggers Quilt Festival.  I've met so many wonderful bloggers through this festival in past years that it just seems right to enter one more time. So here goes ...

This quilt was conceived during our trip back to Oregon in fall 2015, having moved back to our home state of New York in 2014 when DH retired.  We traveled to many of our favorite haunts, and I began picking up odd fat quarters and even up to a yard of Oregon/beach/mountain/greenery/ocean themed fabric at each of the quilt shops we visited between Port Orford along the southern coast all the way up to Astoria along the mighty Columbia River, where we found the theme fabric for this quilt, depicting turn-of-the-20th century salmon canning labels.  So fitting since my husband worked at the OSU Seafood Lab in Astoria while a student at Clatsop Community College many years ago.   The colors of the canning labels are so rich and vibrant, my rather pathetic photo editing skills do not do them justice at all. The quilt is aptly named Memories of Astoria, for my husband who lived, went to college and worked there right after graduating high school.   Without further ado, a few photos:

Begun fall-winter 2015, completed late 2016, hand quilted

I hand quilted this quite simply, about 1/8" from the ditch along nearly every seam, then outlined various features within each block.  My husband wanted cotton batting, the Hobbs 80/20 makes the quilt relatively flat and I'm happy with that look for this quilt since we wanted the fabric features to be the focal point, not the quilting.  Finished size is 56x65 inches, just about perfect for an afternoon nap on the couch.  A few close-ups:

I hope you'll take the time to visit the many other bloggers who share their work during this annual Festival, and perhaps make some new quilting friends too.  Just follow this link to see all the other entries.  Enjoy the show!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Finished Top (for which I have no name)

In my post a couple weeks ago I was pondering whether to add the appliqued leaves similar to what the inspiration quilt showed. Well, the top is now complete and the only leaves you'll see are the ones that float in and out of the printed block fabrics and the border. With the greatly expanded color palette it didn't seem to need the leaf overlay. This one is big, the completed top measuring 91x91 inches. When I first laid out the blocks it looked like this (after sewing horizontal rows of blocks randomly together).
OK, but too heavy on the dark blocks in the upper left

and the next day, after rearranging and/or reversing five of the rows, the final layout looked more like this.
A little better overall distribution of lights and darks without it looking totally calculated light-dark alternating, I think.

Then, I had this batik that I absolutely love, and had hoped from the get-go to use for the outer border.  And of course, the quilt was telling me it really wanted to have that dark blue narrow stop border too!  
Hmm, maybe too much of a good thing?  Drat, I Love this fabric!

In the end though, it seemed as though this would be the better combo, with my favored print ending up playing a minor but essential role as the binding.

So, after an awful lot of hemming and hawing, this is the the final quilt top, in all its wrinkled, crinkled glory.  It looks more rectangular in the photos since I wasn't able to get the camera high enough for a center shot, especially with our low ceilings.  It really is square!

I hope to find time to take it to the fellowship hall later in the week for layering and pinning, and get a start on machine quilting it by weekend. If all goes well and schedules don't get too disrupted that is.  The batiks in the top span the seasons, here are just a couple of my favorite blocks.

The batik tote was crammed full when I began stitching blocks, after finishing this 91x91 inch top it is still nearly full.  How does this happen??!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Bowties and Home Life

Awhile back Marie at Quilt Bee shared the beginning of a bowtie quilt she is making after being inspired by Maryse at Maryse Makes Things; and I've had a hankering to make a new old-fashioned bowtie quilt ever since.  So a couple weeks ago at our quilt ministry group I started sorting and cutting through bins of scraps, and began piecing a small top for what will be my 7th 'opportunity quilt' for the year. Well, it's starting out small, but may end up growing like Topsy, one never knows with these things!  Here are the first few blocks completed so far thrown up on the design wall.
Many, many more to go, but these are such fun, and I love this particular setting for  the bowties. This quilt won't have quite the extensive variety of fabrics as Maryse and Marie's inspiration quilts as there are not a lot of green scraps in our stash, but I think it will still be lots of fun to put together.

Several years ago at an outdoor estate sale I found one of those plastic zippered bags, the type sheet sets are packed in, on the ground under one of the sale tables.The attached label said something like "partially completed quilt - FREE - Enjoy!" All I could see without unpacking it was a muslin backing, hand quilting, and of course the "free"  label sealed the deal!  When I got it home and opened it up, inside was a hand-pieced bowtie quilt, of vintage fabrics, and the traditional style bowtie piecing with center square rather than the two little corner triangles added to the light squares. It was about 1/3 quilted when I made off with acquired it.

I attempted to replicate the size/style of hand quilting stitches and eventually finished it off, and we have enjoyed this throw-size treasure ever since.
So many interesting vintage prints!

If I remain infatuated with bowtie blocks for any length of time I'd like to make several smallish quilts trying out various settings for the blocks.  Another way to use up a lot of smaller scraps.

On the home front, we've been busy harvesting blueberries and green beans, and some banana peppers which I pickled for the first time ever.   I put up sixteen jars of rhubarb-blueberry jam so far, and will probably do one more batch if the rhubarb stalks don't wilt away before I can get to them.
R&B Jam

Living in a rural area we see our share of wildlife, and this big mama apparently has decided that our hay field, lawns and gardens are the perfect place to raise her brood of eight wildlings.  She has ventured closer and closer to the house and barns, and the other day shortly after we removed the blueberry netting they were all feasting on blueberries on the ground and what they could glean by jumping up to attack the lower branches. Great fun watching them! We will probably post our land this fall so they have a safe haven during hunting season, provided they are still hanging around by then. Here they are right next to the driveway, probably not more than 20 feet from the window where I took this photo.

And last but certainly not least, I made a big bowl of bowtie pasta salad this week using fresh basil and the first of the Sungold cherry tomatoes.  One of our favorite summer salads, but we devoured 98% of it before I even thought to take a photo.

We live in troubled times when everything good seems turned upside down and inside out.  This week, lets smile a little more often at those we meet in the store or on the street, bless someone in need with a small gift, a home cooked meal, or even just a listening ear and a friendly hug.  Let your light shine brightly!  The forces of evil cannot prevail where love abides.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A New Start

A couple months back while visiting our son and DIL, they showed us their remodeled (after the windstorm damage) bedroom. Being a nosy mom, I noticed that their wedding quilt was beginning to look more than a bit shabby and faded, having been on their bed for over 16 years. So, figuring a newly redone room deserves a new quilt, this is what I've started for their Christmas gift. A late arrival on my 17 in 2017 list but one I'd like to have completed in time for gifting this year.

28 of the 64 blocks needed for the center portion

These blocks will finish at 10 inches, so I'm planning 64 blocks for the central part plus borders should make this a good queen size.  I'm now up to 38 blocks sewn.  

A closer look

My inspiration was this throw quilt featured in Quiltmania's January/February 2012 issue.

My batiks have a much wider color range than the featured quilt, since this is intended as a "stash 'n scrap" quilt.  I'm hoping to not need to purchase more than a couple green fat quarters and pare down the stash a little with this project. The featured quilt has deliberately wonky squares that I chose not to attempt to replicate, but judging from the first photo above, I seem to have achieved a bit of that anyway by including a couple different sized center squares and narrowing some of the outer borders. 

While I'm kind of liking it now, seeing the photos convinced me that there should be a lot more light fabrics in the remaining blocks, especially if I add the appliqued deep green leaves. Which is another fussbudget dilemma, will trying to add appliques over the more colorful blocks be too much of a good (or bad) thing?  I'm still trying to find two or three deep green batiks that will play nicely with the rest of the fabrics.   Maybe it'll all work out with a lot more lighter hued blocks in the mix.  What do you creative quilters think?  

Monday, July 31, 2017

July's Blessings Big and Small

Our little quilting ministry has been blessed mightily this month!  First, we received three large boxes of gorgeous fabric from a fellow blogger who wishes to remain anonymous but who has blessed us previously as she downsizes her stash.  She is definitely our Quilting Angel!

Then, Debbie of Stitchin' Therapy blessed us with a large box of stencils, many of which are the continuous line, easy to quilt variety.  Some are even linear enough to be quilted with a walking foot, definitely a plus for some of our beginning quilters.  Thank you so much Debbie!  I know they will be put to good use!
The photo doesn't begin to show all the beautiful stencils we received.

A week or two ago, Jocelyn of Happy Cottage Quilter posted a photo of an older top she had made, wondering whether she should update it with new borders, or just trash it.  It was such a lovely sampler quilt I asked if she indeed thought of trashing it, to please send it our way to be quilted and given to a deserving person in our area.  She did, and also sent us three other tops plus backing fabrics for two of them!  What a beautiful gift to our ministry - thank you so much Jocelyn!

I sometimes enter giveaways from fabric companies for fat quarter bundles, and last week was lucky enough to win a sweet bundle of Amanda Murphy's Folkart Fantasy from Benartex.  Yay! I think this will make up into a lovely baby quilt or perhaps a lap quilt for a nursing home patient, or even another small quilt for next year's camp quilt auction.

Reviewing my quilting efforts for the month of July and my 17 in 2017 list, there really isn't a lot to say about my goals for 2017 except I've been plugging along very slowly on the hand quilting of Quilty 365 and the first basket quilt, and I got a start on a late arrival to that list - more on that in a future post.  On the reverse "Opportunity Quilts" side of the 17 in 2017 sheet, I finished the queen size camp auction quilt!

But the sweetest July blessing of all arrived last Wednesday with his mom for a 4-day visit. We had a blast, watching this little guy as he learns to crawl, studies everything and everyone around him, and eats his meals like there's no tomorrow!  And he loves blueberries, which are at their peak right now. We sent them home yesterday with three quarts of fresh-picked berries from our bushes.  What a little joy he is in all our lives!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Camp Auction Quilt is a Finish!

So happy to report that I put the final stitches in the binding of the church camp auction quilt on Saturday afternoon! Our wet weather of late hasn't been ideal for outside photography, to say the least, so here are the best of yesterday's indoor shots.

On our guest room queen size bed.  It finished at 76x87 inches, shrinking about 3 inches in both directions with the quilting and cold water wash afterward. I'm hoping it's a good size for the auction, since it will fit a twin bed with a full bedspread type drop, a double bed with a 12 inch drop, or even a queen bed with an 8 inch side drop.

This was the first time that I can recall using stencils for much of the free motion quilting (can I even call it free motion if I'm following a stencil?). Anyway, I'm very happy with the way the stencils turned out. This little border stencil was very easy to quilt.

As for that background fabric, it's a real chameleon - especially with my fairly limited photographic skills, hehe.  Previous blog commenters have found it to be green, gray, or blue.  In actuality, or at least in my eyes, it's a very light green, and the camera has an extremely difficult time rendering it as my eye sees it. Oh well, imagination is a wonderful thing isn't it!?

I chose two different stencils for the alternate blocks, using the simpler one above for the center blocks as I wasn't sure how well I could execute the more difficult one with my DSM in the center of this large quilt. It turned out to be really easy and the curves were small enough that it was possible for me to reach the end of one curve without needing to stop and adjust my hands.
The second stencil above was used for the outer row of alternate blocks.  A bit more challenging but still a lot of fun to quilt, and not hugely time-consuming. Can you tell I'm fast becoming a real fan of stencils for machine quilting?! They are so forgiving, and take away the angst of trying to recreate a chosen design with "muscle memory" which in reality has never worked well for me At All. At this time of life, there is no need to add more stress to my favorite pastime, and I may even become a fan of machine quilting again, though my first love will always be hand quilting.

A couple of my favorite blocks that haven't been featured in previous posts:

Overall I'm happy with the way this one turned out, and I think/hope it's a style that will do well at the auction. Is it my favorite quilt - umm, no, but still I think it's pleasant and scrappy enough that it will fit in with the primitive or country decor that is popular around here.

As I look at my version of the "17 in 2017" list, there are now five completions on the reverse side which I long ago labeled "Opportunity Quilts for 2017".  Only three small completions on the "17 in 2017" side. So for the remaining few months of this year I really hope to shift my focus to finishing at least two personal goals for the year.  Doesn't sound like a lot, but those two goals are to finish hand quilting the queen size basket quilt and my king size Quilty 365! Then there's the queen size top I've just begun for my son and DIL after seeing their wedding quilt is pretty much worn out after being in use for over 17 years now.  I'd like to be able to give them their new quilt for Christmas. This year. Guess I'd best get to work now.