Thursday, October 20, 2016

Autumn Splendor

We have had a most gorgeous fall season in Western New York. After a summer of drought folks thought the leaves would just turn brown and fall, but instead the hillsides have been even more brilliant than usual.  Now, at just a little past our peak season, this is the view from the deck outside our bedroom just after dawn a couple days ago.
in the early morning mist

Later in the day when the fog began to lift the colors brightened.

I had hoped to finish this

in time for an outdoor photoshoot here

but the winds and rain have arrived.  Today and tomorrow will be soggy, with nearly 4 inches of rain predicted for the next 48 hours or so, followed by colder weather over the weekend.  And colder and wet means the possibility of that other nasty form of precipitation and an end to our gorgeous fall colors.  

But rainy days bring more time in the sewing room, and with any luck the quilting will be completed on the baby quilt later today, and the binding cut and sewn on tomorrow.   I took Debbie's excellent suggestion and quilted a simple leaf and loop design across the pinwheel blocks.  The deer panels have a shallow scallop motif, suggesting their bounding through the forest.  A simple cross-hatch in the squares of the outer border and the quilting will be finished.

As I was outside raking leaves and hauling wheelbarrow loads of them to the gardens, my thoughts returned to years past ... the 1950s in fact ... when I was a youngster in a small town in western NY. In those days before municipal leaf pickup, we and our neighborhood friends would eagerly rake all the leaves to the edge of the street. At dusk they would be set afire by our dads, much to the delight of us kids who would gather up handfuls of hickory nuts to throw into the fire, then run back 10 or 20 feet and wait for them to explode.  Better than fireworks!  And for the record, no eyes were put out in the performance of this crazy stunt, much to the relief of our mothers!

Is it any wonder that fall is my favorite season?!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Progress, in small increments

I finished piecing the second grandbaby quilt top a couple weeks ago. You remember, the one my husband said would make a good target .... um yes, this is the one

The perfect backing fabric was found.  The nursery theme is a woodland setting, especially with foxes.

I finished ditch quilting the major seams mid-week, and free motion quilting began yesterday.  As of last night this much of the center is quilted.

Can't have feathers on a baby boy quilt, but ferns in a woodland setting seem entirely appropriate. It's also one of the few designs I've committed to muscle memory, having stitched an entire huge queen size quilt in this same fern motif several years ago.

Now to come up with a great design for the pinwheel blocks.  Any suggestions?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Nickel Quilting - a Finish!

Do you find yourself in a quandary when it comes to finding a quilting design that fits the quilt top and the intended recipient(s), that is also do-able when there's a tight deadline? Wow, that fits me to a "T" ... especially when it comes to machine quilting! Somehow that never seems to happen with hand quilting, the quilt goes into the hoop, needle is threaded and quilting just seems to happen! Slowly, but it happens.

After being inspired by the lovely soft texture in Audrey over at Quilty Folk's wonderful entry in the Bloggers Quilt Festival here, I really, truly wanted to try some organic straight line quilting for this baby quilt.  Really, I did! Problem was, this quilt was resisting me, every step of the way to the sewing machine.

Circles, it wanted circles - lots of them.  And so, after ditch quilting the major seams, the walking foot reluctantly came off the Janome, and free-motion foot was installed.  Then what?  Off to find some FMQ design that I might have a prayer of a chance to accomplish in a fairly short time, without completely messing up this top and all of its solid whiteness, that was definitely going to show Every.Single.Error.Glaringly.   Sigh...

I began searching some tutorials in one of my favorite FMQ blogs, Lori Kennedy's The Inbox Jaunt, and found her Dots and Dashes Tutorial.  OK, do-able, maybe, as long as I draw those lines and circles ahead of time.
 nickel template!

An afternoon of drawing and quilting - so far, so good

By the second evening the boxes were being filled with another FMQ stand-by, the Jesters Hat design by Wendy Sheppard at Ivory Spring.

I filled the outer borders with large 'bubbles.'   Some of these will be filled in with the letters of the new baby's name and birthdate after he's born.  The remainder will most likely be filled in with a spiral design or some other small motif. Lots of lines drawn, but we can still call the quilting organic and wavy, hehe!

And, finally, yesterday, the scrappy binding was stitched down and a finish!

I love taking newly finished quilts outside for a photo shoot in the early morning light. This morning was nearly perfect, except for the cold north wind blowing!

The lighting was perfect for highlighting the texture of the quilting. Here you can see the 'bubbles' that will need to be filled in later with the little one's name and birthdate. And the leaves that kept falling as I was snapping these photos.

One down, and one more to go - plus a few receiving blankets - in time for the shower in early November.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Quilty 365 - September's Circles

September 30 marked the 329th day of stitching these little circles, and now we're really on the home stretch! That's such a good feeling, as I'm becoming rather anxious to be done with this phase and to put all these little squares together into some kind of coherent I-Spy quilt for the guest bed.  Not that it doesn't have a quilt (or two) already on the bed!  Never can have too many quilts around the house come winter!  Then again, there's the inevitable "will it all come together into  a coherent, lovely whole with the chosen setting fabric waiting in the stash - oh wait, is there even enough of that setting fabric to finish this gigantic top?"

But before I show you my September circles I have a request.  Does anyone out there have a small square of fabric featuring an Australian Shepherd or Sheltie mix dog that they would be willing to part with?  I'd love to find a piece to use for one of the final circles for this quilt - to celebrate Olie, our 13-1/2 year old Aussie mix.  He's been a fixture in our lives for so many years now, it just seems fitting that he should have his own circle in this quilt!  And, as you can see, he's quite the handsome (and chubby) boy.
I've found a couple possibilities on Spoonflower that might do if I don't find anything else. Haven't used Spoonflower fabrics before and wonder how they hold up to occasional washing and drying, or if they are meant mostly for wall quilts that won't need cleaning often.  Anyone out there have experience with them?

OK, getting back to September:
September's circles in all their haphazardly arranged glory

A lot of red and blue this month - I'm down to raiding the last of my fat quarter bundles and color stash bins for likely candidates, having used pieces of pretty much all the scraps around here a couple months ago.  Though there are still a couple pieces of yardage that I can't bear to cut into just yet, even for just a little 3 1/2 inch square! Why do we hoard cherish certain fabrics so much that we continue to save them for just the right time - that never seems to come - or is that just me?!

The first light frost has come and gone, the canner has been packed away for the season, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the sewing room on a more regular basis again.  A very good thing too since there are two baby quilt tops and several receiving blankets needing quilting/hemming before the first weekend in November - yikes!   Though, we still have 30 to 40 more butternut and acorn squash to carry down to the basement shelves for winter use, and the gardens need to be cleaned up before the snow flies.  And then there are the raspberries - we must have chosen the latest varieties EVER, as they are still blooming and finally ripening now!

Remembering 9-11

Linking up with Audrey at Quilty Folk for our monthly gathering of the circles.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Country Roads Revisited - Bloggers Quilt Festival

Good morning!  My second entry in this year's Bloggers Quilt Festival is in the Small Quilts category.

This little quilt is my version of Lori DeJarnatt's (Humble Quilts) quilt-along from last fall. We were traveling at the time, so my chosen fabrics are a mix of some purchases while in Oregon and scraps from previous quilts.
Though I love cheddars, I've not used too much in prior quilts, but instantly fell in love with this background fabric and a coordinating black and cheddar print that had been waiting in my fat quarter stash tote.

I hand quilted this little quilt using a portion of a large stencil in the cheddar squares and corners, with a simple ditch and cross-hatch in the blocks, and diagonal lines in the outer border.

This is one of my favorite little quilts, finishing at 25 inches square.  I used Hobbs Polydown batting, and Aurifil 28 wt. thread for most of the quilting.

I found this lovely old toile in one of the stash bins, and there was just enough for the back.

A lot of quilters participated in Lori's fun quilt-along last year.  I wonder if we'll see more Country Roads quilts appearing in this years Bloggers Festival.
Time for another cup of coffee and off to see some of the other entries!  This is a great week for meeting new (to me) bloggers!

Bloggers Quilt Festival - A Scrappy Baby Quilt

The Bloggers Quilt Festival is in full swing this week, and I'll start this post by thanking Amy for once again hosting this super-fun event!  I've met so many wonderful quilters over the past few years through this festival, and I'm sure this year will be no different.

If you're like me, when you hear "scrappy quilt" you might think of traditional  dark reds, browns, greens and golds in a star or strippy setting. This would not be that quilt.

This happy baby quilt was made early this past spring for a young woman in our church who was expecting her first daughter who we welcomed in late May. It is composed of 4-1/2 inch squares drawn from my stash and scrap totes. The 1-1/2 inch wide block borders are also from those same scrap totes. I must say this has quickly become my favorite go-to pattern for a quick and easy (and FUN) baby quilt, as the possibilities seem endless - and whose totes/bins/bags of scraps don't seem to be endless!
A frosty early morning photo shoot.

I quilted this on my Janome 7700 domestic machine, quilting in the ditch along each border edge and again around each of the 4-1/2 inch squares, just enough quilting to define the squares yet leave the finished quilt soft and cuddly. The batting is Hobbs Polydown and the quilt was stitched with Aurifil 50 wt. thread. The finished size is 35-1/2 by 41-1/2 inches, small enough for a newborn, and not too large for a toddler to drag around the house.
A closer look

This was a fun, as well as quick and easy quilt to make!

Please check out all the other fabulous entries in the scrappy quilt category and all the other categories of this year's Bloggers Quilt Festival.