Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In the Hoop

So I got the king-size behemeth spread out on the floor and pin-basted yesterday morning. It actually went better than I had expected...notwithstanding the sore knees and shoulders today!  Only took about two hours to pin after all the layers were smoothed out.
All pinned

The nasty looking ripples in the pink border looked a lot less forbidding after being pinned into some form of submission, and I expect think hope will quilt out nicely.  This vintage top came from the same Ohio Mennonite estate sale as the Blockade quilt completed in December.
The backing fabric came from the bargain basement of a local quilt shop in Oregon a few years back, luckily just enough to back the entire quilt.

The top came to me with all the sashings and borders already lightly pencil marked for quilting.  The appliqued/embroidered blocks are also marked in blue ink, part of the original block pattern.  I suspect they may have been meant to be embroidered.  After all these years I'm not sure those blue markings will come out completely so I decided to use big stitch quilting and try to cover as much of the blue as possible with the green Presencia No. 8 pearl cotton. This is what it looked like after a little while quilting last evening.

No expectations about finishing this one very soon, in fact it will probably come out of the hoop several times as higher priority projects are ready ... or as I get bored with this one. Except for the green pearl cotton big stitch quilting in the blocks the remainder will be done with regular old-fashioned white thread quilting to outline the appliques and in the sashings and borders.  But it is nice to have a project back in the floor hoop again.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Moving Forward at Last, and a New Top

So, I completed all fifteen "canning label blocks" on my husband's Oregon memories quilt last week, and got stalled right there.  Those alternating blocks are giving me fits and starts in the planning. Way too many odd measurements to work out, more math than my sleep-deprived brain could tolerate for a couple days. What to do, well what happened is those fabrics were pushed to the back of the work table and I got started on this simple and quick baby quilt top.
Started and finished in fact in just a few hours over two days, and I'm happy with how it has turned out.  Again, all scraps from previous quilts or grab bags picked up at yard sales and just one fabric from my purchased stash.  Happy scrappy stitching!

A closer look

This quilt will eventually be gifted to a young member of our congregation who is expecting a girl in early summer, after a series of miscarriages. She has three older boys and is beyond excited about this coming arrival. I'll machine quilt it later in the spring after making a final decision about backing fabric and whether to add a small outer border to the top. Right now I'm thinking no border; what are your thoughts?  The top now measures 36 x 42 inches.

A few favorite blocks:

So this afternoon I've begun cutting a few tentative blocks for the Oregon quilt, and getting backing and batting ready to sandwich my largest quilt top to date, a vintage applique/embroidered top purchased online a few years ago that measures 91 x 113 inches! Yikes, there is no floor space in our house large enough to lay out the entire top and have room around the edges to work on it! Challenge of the week, stay tuned. Hopefully there will be something to show before too many more days (besides sore knees).

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It All Begins with This

A germ of an idea, and a perchance internet sighting of the perfect focus fabric while checking store hours on the website while traveling to the last quilt shop of our Oregon coast personal shop-hop last fall ... in Astoria ...
a panel depicting salmon canning labels of the 1890s era from canneries along the Pacific coast, most of which are from old canneries at or near the mouth of the mighty Columbia River.

So, how did this become my inspiration fabric for my newest quilt-in-the-making?  Many years ago right after graduating high school, my husband packed all his belongings and his cat into an old Ford van and headed to Oregon.  His destination was Astoria, near the coast and where he attended Clatsop Community College while also working at the OSU Seafood Lab.  After all these years Astoria and the surrounding area remains his favorite place on earth.  So, when we traveled back to Oregon on vacation last fall he suggested we visit all the quilt shops we ran across while driving the coast from Port Orford to Astoria.  How could we not?  I started picking up random fat quarters of coastal themed fabrics with no particular idea in mind except that they might eventually become part of a lap quilt for him.    Then we found our inspiration fabric - perfect theme - perfect dark colors that he favors - and the focal point of his new quilt.

The first couple of blocks:

Nearly every fabric in this top (so far) is from pieces we picked up while in Oregon last fall, with just a couple from my older stash that have Oregon connections.  The massive jetty rocks, forest ferns, conifer Coastal Range forests, ocean swells, beach grasses, sand dollars, and doggie footprints (our old dog made the long trip with us) all make an appearance in the blocks.

Cutting the panel into useable block centers did present its issues as the fabric was printed totally askew, and there was no possible way of cutting even rectangles since not only were the outer borders off-grain but some of the actual labels were printed with a bend so the left side of the label angles upward. You can see the upward bend in the labels at the lower left of the first photo in this post. Frustrating, and noticeable on individual blocks, but hopefully with the variety of fabrics being used once the entire quilt is put together, sandwiched and quilted, the imperfections won't be terribly obvious. Faults aside, I am loving the deep rich colors of these quilt blocks. Twelve of the fifteen canning label blocks are completed and the rest should be finished today. Then comes the fun of creating alternate blocks!  I can't think of a better way to spend a stormy February day.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Quilty 365 - February Linkup

It's time to link up again with Audrey's Quilty 365 sew-along.  This little challenge - appliqueing one circle to a square every day - has become very, very addicting.  It's a time I look forward to every day, generally after supper while watching the evening news.  Surprising how a little ritual like this can do so much to calm the mind and bring a few moments of serenity.

My January "calendar" of circles.

A total of 84 circles since beginning this project on November 9

They had pretty much taken over the design wall!  But since the last photo I've taken down the first three months of circles to make room for a couple new piecing projects.  Still have a few setting options I'm mulling over for the final circles but nothing has gelled in my mind just yet.  

A few favorites from January's stitching.
Peacock feathers courtesy of  my blogging friendTeresa at A Quilt and a Prayer

A couple from a "flower series" .. reminding myself that spring will come

You can see what others are creating over at the Quilty 365 Linkup with Audrey at Quilty Folk.  You can even join in the slow-paced action ... there's no official start or ending date, just jump right in if you want to add a little quiet time each day to enjoy this fun quilt-along.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Westering Women

Westering Women BOM

Have you heard about Barbara Brackman's new BOM on her Civil War Quilts blog?   This BOM will have a free pattern for one block per month during 2016, along with historical perspective of the women who traveled the various overland trails in the westward migration of the 19th century. Barbara provides some great links to biographies and diaries of the women who made this journey along with each month's block, and I for one can't wait to see this series unfold!  For many years my favorite reading material has been women's diaries and biographies covering the period from the American Revolution through early 20th century, including these three from my personal bookshelf:

  • Covered Wagon Women Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1852, the Oregon Trail, edited and compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes & David C. Duniway
  • Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel
  • Quilts of the Oregon Trail by Mary Bywater Cross
Our first block was provided in Barbara's post yesterday, and is called Independence Square, commemorating Independence Missouri, the starting point for many on their westward journey.   

One block per month I should be able to manage, so last night I foraged through my scraps and found some pieces that should work for this adventure.  Everything for this quilt will need to come from my scraps and stash, just as the pioneer women did, and like them, I can smile as I discover bits and pieces of quilts made for loved ones in past years, or pieces of fabric shared by friends far away.  
Here is my block, completed this evening, slightly wonky, but I can always pretend it was stitched sitting by the evening campfire, can't I?!

Are you planning to join the journey?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January Finish

A first finish for the new year,  completed on the young recipient's birthday, though we won't be seeing them for another couple weeks.  Made up of giant hexies - a first (and last) for this quilter as hexies have always been my least favorite quilt pattern.  This pattern looked doable and fairly quick, as it was made up of 2 1/2 inch strips and I had a jelly roll with some coordinating fabrics languishing in the stash.
In retrospect, the jelly roll was made up of many colors and mostly tiny prints that read almost as a solid from a distance while the pattern quilt used only two colorways and large prints which would probably have been a better choice.  Still, this quilt is bright and cheerful, as well as soft and cuddly, and I hope will make the young recipient happy.  The pattern is from Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, March-April 2015.

I used my largest Baptist fan stencil to mark the big-stitch quilting design, and used DMC #8 Pearl Cotton for most of the quilting.   This was a first attempt at big stitch quilting, so a lot of discoveries there - like stabbing my fingers a LOT more than has ever happened with traditional quilting!  The work does go faster though, which in this case worked out well since I wanted to have it completed in time to give it to her as part of her birthday gift.  And it just wasn't a quilt I would have wanted to spend months-on-end doing traditional hand quilting, nor did I want to machine quilt it.  The big-stitch quilting left the quilt soft and cuddly, and sweetly old-fashioned looking.   After washing the quilt finished at 58x68 inches.

A couple weeks ago I was the lucky winner of a giveaway on Country Lady Quilts blog, and received this sweet packet of fabrics from Terry.  Thanks so much Terry, I'm thinking these will soon find their way into a baby quilt on the soon-to-be-started list.

Our short January thaw is apparently over as it's snowing again this morning, however we have much to be thankful for as last weekend's nor'easter missed us entirely!   But much as I don't care for the cold and snow anymore, these days do afford more time in the sewing room and that, my friends, makes me VERY thankful!