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.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Black and Blue and White

After an intensive week of family visits and sleepovers, we've finally begun to return to a sense of quiet normalcy around here.  Meaning the two hand quilting projects are back in their respective hoops and the auction donation quilt is sitting quietly beside the Janome, patiently waiting while I write this quick post and run a few necessary errands, and possibly pull a few garden weeds.

Here is a top I've been working on at our quilt ministry meetings.  When this is quilted, it will be donated to the local nursing home.

I love the off-center set of this top.  It's a rather shameless copy of a beautiful top that Janet O. recently featured on her Rogue Quilter blog.  I believe her original inspiration was a Pinterest photo. Hers is a memory quilt made from her father's shirts, and she used a consistent white solid to better highlight the darker plaids and checks.  Our quilt ministry stash is almost completely devoid of white or light solids or light shirting fabrics, so this one is definitely a make-do.   Some of the lighter prints I'm quite sure are mostly polyester blends judging from the way they misbehaved during stitching, but they're all nailed down into their final position now.  This top measures roughly 46x59 inches, a bit large for a lap quilt but should be nice for someone who is mostly bedridden.  I'll be looking for some bright cheerful fabrics to piece a backing.

A closer look - definitely some pajama stripes and prints in this one!

We'll be resuming our quilt ministry weekly meetings tomorrow after a break over the 4th holiday. I'm already looking forward to rummaging through the scrap bins for another top, maybe bow-ties? Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Now, where was I?

Back, at least intermittently from an unintended blogging break.  Sometimes it seems life just takes precedence and everything else needs to give way.   I've been under the weather for a couple months now, nothing major, just nagging issues like the worst spring allergy season in over 40 years, intermittent sciatica, and an annoying carpel tunnel issue, all of which have interfered with getting a good night's sleep that in turn just made everything worse.  But enough of that, this is still a quilting blog after all!

So, when I left you last I had just put the finishing touches on one of the latest Opportunity Quilts of 2017, and now the machine quilting is very nearly finished.

The completed top
Before layering and pinning the quilt, for the first time ever I marked all the stencils onto the alternate blocks and the outer border, and some general guidelines for the setting and corner triangles. I always hated to take the time to premark since I love seeing the quilt begin to assume some loft as soon as that top is placed on the batting and pinning begins. But premarking  sure does save a lot of time in the end, and I'm glad that for once I had the patience to "get 'er done."

Quilting begun.  Amazingly, though it shouldn't have been, those straight lines in the patchwork blocks took a LOT longer to quilt than the stencils in the alternate blocks.  The carpal tunnel issues have meant having to limit machine quilting time each day to just a few hours rather than the extended periods I used to be able to do.  But I'm very thankful that hand quilting does not seem to bother my wrists or hands, and I've been able to hand quilt for an hour or two most evenings - yay!

Simple spineless feathers in the setting triangles.

The outer border stencils are now all quilted, and all that remains when I get back to the machine is to fill in the center 4 inch squares in those patchwork blocks.  I'm planning a simple freehand flower design for those.  Then I'll get the binding on as soon as possible so I can get the entire quilt in a cold water rinse to erase all those blue markings.  They always make me nervous even though I test the fabrics before marking.

Meanwhile the sewing room is dormant this week, all the machines and quilting hoops packed up and put away, as this is the week for company and lots of it.  We had 11 family members and 4 dogs join us over the 4th for an overnighter.  Lots of grandkids and activities!  Thankfully the weather was great and some tented out in the back yard while others chose to sleep inside in the spare bedroom, the sewing room and the living room couch.  Now, a day of R&R for us grandparents before another family group arrives on Friday for a late 4th of July weekend and a grandson's 9th birthday.  A lot of family fun packed into one short week!

I hope to have more to share next week.  But tomorrow we both will be mowing the lawns again before the next batch of rainshowers arrive.  And grocery shopping, and ...   we won't talk about the state of the garden weeds!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The little 9-patch that grew and Grew

I'm off and running on my latest 'Opportunity Quilt' of the year! Our church congregation helps support a Christian camp located in nearby northern Pennsylvania and our quilt ministry was invited to make a quilt or two for their annual auction in September. Our newer quilters are busy with lap quilts for the nursing home and other projects, so I started working on this, my more modern adaptation of the cover quilt on Carolyn O'Bagy Davis' book titled Quilted All Day, the Prairie Journals of Ida Chambers Melugin.

I finished the top yesterday.

Like so many of my quilts this one didn't start out to be as large as it ended up! It's pretty much a queen size top, measuring 80 x 92 inches! That's about the maximum size I can manage to machine quilt on the Janome. Which is the way it will be quilted, since there are already two huge quilts in hoops around here and there being no other hand quilters in our little group.

Last week we had a torrential thunderstorm that was about as close to a tornado as I ever want to experience. Lost power for 27 hours but thankfully other than a few small branches in the yard no damage to our property. Neighbors just down the road lost two huge trees next to their driveway, and all across our region utility poles and trees were twisted and shattered to the ground. I had been trimming all those 9-patches, and was able to finish that evening, thanks to my little LED lantern.

Hoping to come up with an easy-to-quilt stencil for all those light green alternate blocks, so I can get this top marked and sandwiched. Very happy that there are 3 months in which to get this one quilted and ready for the auction.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Quilty 365 - The Final Link-up

This may be the last official link-up for Quilty 365, but it won't be the last time you see these circles, because this baby is just in the beginning stages of quilting.  As of today I've hand quilted an area about 14 x 60 inches, working my way from the center to a corner of this giant.  It's going slower than I'd like, mostly because of all the 'opportunity quilts' that have come my way of late.  But I don't mind a bit, I love, love, LOVE seeing this in the hoop and spread across the carpet when I walk into the sewing room each day! Just having it there right next to my desk is enticement to pick up the needle and take a few stitches whenever I have a few moments.

Very simple big stitch quilting in the sashings and blocks.  I like how quilting down the sashing is making all those blocks puff up just a bit, though difficult to see in the angle of this photo.

I've loved working on this quilt-along from the very first block ...
through weeks of mulling over whether I'd have enough of my chosen sashing and setting triangle fabric...turns out there were just a few scraps to spare after putting it all together.

The back story of why I was so keen on using this sashing fabric for this particular quilt. My blogging friend, the late Kathy Porter (http://nanato4ts.blogspot.com) gifted me with a box of her beautiful fabrics when she was downsizing her stash.  This fabric was included in the box and the tone-on-tone circles seemed a perfect fit for the Quilty 365 project from the very beginning. I am reminded of Kathy's encouraging words and her generosity whenever I see this fabric.

Carrying the circle theme to the borders, though a bit less obviously, I chose these two dark fabrics to bring the top to its final size.
Teeny tiny circles in the border fabrics!

There aren't any photos of the entire finished top, because there isn't a surface in our home large enough to lay out anything measuring over 110x110 inches, and it was far too wet and muddy outside before the top was sandwiched for quilting.  Half of the quilt is shown in the next photo, taken while pinning the layers at the church fellowship hall.

I used 313 of my 366 circles in this quilt, the remainder to find their way into another project sometime in the future (looking for for inspiration for that future quilt among all the link-ups today!). But, these were not the only circles made last year! Oh no, Quilty 365 was just the beginning, and turned out to be the inspiration to include more circles in yet another quilt, Oregon Memories, completed for my husband last year.

When this huge quilt will be finished is anybody's guess, but I'm hoping to see it quilted, bound and in its place of honor on the guest bed before the end of the year.  My thanks to Audrey at Quilty Folk for hosting this fun quilt-along!  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's final creations, and you can see them too by following this link to Audrey's blog.
a glimpse of things to come - couldn't resist!

Friday, April 28, 2017

April's Friday Finish

A local nursing home requested some lap quilts from our quilt ministry group, and so that has been our focus over the past month or so.  This is the fourth "opportunity quilt" for the reverse side of that 17 in 2017 list of projects, and my one and only finish for April.
A whole lot of colorful scrappiness, with prints, plaids and dots from every season of the year and some novelty prints thrown in for good measure.  The quilt finished at 40 x 50 inches. And I didn't even make a dent in the huge bags of scraps we have accumulated.

This is the third quilt I've finished using those infamous phone book pages for the strippy block foundations, and it will be my last. Too many hours spent tearing off paper when I could be sewing ... Someone had the idea of trying used dryer sheets as foundations that would not require removal.  I'm thinking of trying that method, and wonder if anyone has made strippy blocks using these?  Seems like as long as they don't fall apart in the laundry they might work well since they're dimensionally stable and very thin.

I'll be making more nursing home quilts toward fall, but for the next few weeks will be working on a much larger project that includes a whole lot of scrappy nine-patch blocks, about 50 or so ...  Yet another opportunity.

So happy that spring has finally arrived and with it the fun of some outdoor quilty photos in the early morning mist.

Happy Friday!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Labeling at Last!

We've heard it over and over again, add labels to your completed quilts!  And while I've always added personalized labels for gifted quilts, and have even quilted the grandchildren's names into their special quilts, I'll admit to being totally remiss when it came to the ones I've kept for us.  Until now. Over the past two weeks, between other projects, labels have been added to 19 quilts!  I think I'm all caught up now, except for one antique quilt fragment that I squared up and bound the cut edges on two sides several years ago, that now hangs on a wall in my sewing room.

An older photo taken in our previous home

It all started when I was itching to get this old girl out to play for a bit.   She's a 1951 Singer Centennial Model 201 that we found twenty years ago in the attic of a big old barn-turned-thrift store in upstate New York.  I was shopping for an inexpensive bedside table and my husband spotted the Queen Anne cabinet and discovered the sewing machine inside.  The machine was a bonus, and a mighty fine one at that, as it worked perfectly right from the start.
At any rate, I was feeling the need to do some machine stitching but didn't want to start another big project, and labeling the many quilts around here has long been on my 'to-do' list.  I wanted to document some special quilts that we had picked up along the way, especially those for which we had provenance information, some that were totally made by others, others are vintage tops that I've quilted and finished, in addition to my own quilts. Quilts like this hand-quilted Mennonite broken-star pattern beauty from the Shipshewana, Indiana area that we picked up at a church school auction several years ago.
I don't have a date for this one, but it's fairly recent, the fabrics look like 1980s or early 1990s to me, and sadly one of those deep pinks still bleeds every time it's washed.

My labels tend to be very simple, printed on a commercial printer-friendly fabric, and bordered with pieces of leftover binding.  In this case I included information about the origin of the quilt, and where, when and who last purchased it.
My own quilts just get a name, location and year completed, unless I've given the quilt a name.  A simple job, so easily done. I'm so happy to have this nagging project completed, and wonder why it's taken so long to accomplish!  It's a pretty sure bet I'll add labels as soon as anything is completed from this point forward.  I hope ...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pins and Needles

After taming pinning the beast on Monday,
Half at a time, two tables wide

and basting the backing over the edges on Tuesday evening, I couldn't resist tossing it onto the guest room bed where it will rest after quilting.  Sneak peek ...

And last evening I finally got it into the Grace 2 hoop and took the first stitches!

The first circle quilted had to be our Olie block, which is in the very center of the quilt top. I'm going to quilt this with big stitch quilting, and am using Aurifil 12 weight thread. I've tried big stitch quilting a couple times, and have had trouble finding the size/type needle that quilts easily yet has an eye large enough to get the 12 weight thread through without shredding.  Earlier yesterday I rummaged through several older sewing boxes, and look what I found.
Oh-my-gosh, these are just about perfect!  Anyone want to venture a guess how old these babies are? My guess is that I bought them well over 30 years ago, but it may be longer, or perhaps they even were picked up in some yard sale long ago. Whatever the case, they are not rusted, and glide through the fabric beautifully, much better than the chenille needles recommended by the nearest quilt shop for big stitching projects! I think the chenille needles will be great for wool or flannel quilting, but they seem to drag through the quilting cotton and really tire my fingers. I'm so happy most of the needles are still in the JCP packet, all shiny, sharp and ready to go.

So now there are two projects in hoops, Quilty 365 is in my sewing room where it won't need to be moved constantly, and the basket quilt is in the hand-held hoop on my recliner in the living room where I can work on it while watching tv.
making progress slowly - fourth basket underway

I'm hoping to put some stitches into each quilt every day so they can eventually crossed off that 17 in 2017 list. Hopefully while it's still 2017! Meanwhile, languishing in a corner of the sewing room
the king-size vintage rose applique, just where it was plopped sometime last year when I began quilting my husband's Astoria/Oregon Memories quilt.  Under the big rose quilt is a tote with yet another vintage quilt top remake awaiting its turn and surrounded by 4 more containers with quilts-in-the making, including the remainder of the Quilty 365 circles. Still don't have any grand ideas for those leftovers yet, but they can cool their heels for a few years months while the beast is finished!

Do you have multiple quilts in hoops at the same time?  Or is this insanity?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gathering up the Circles

The past couple weeks have been an adventure of the good, the sad, and sometimes downright scary times, with only a bit of sewing accomplished here and there.  The good times - a six day visit from our tiniest munchkin ...
Bathtime in one of grandma's larger fabric totes!

The sad - visiting a dear friend for the last time, at a hospice facility. And the scary - our son and his family had a tree fall on their house - twice in one week - during successive windstorms. Thankfully in both instances no one was injured as they were not in the rooms affected by the tree strikes which resulted in cracked and falling plaster - the two larger bedrooms of their two-story home. A total of four large trees blew over in their yard during the second storm, one of which also ripped the electrical wires off the house. As is usual with these types of storms many homes were without power, and no generators were to be had in his area, so we were lucky enough to find the only generator still available locally that morning and delivered it to them - some 100 miles away. Thankfully their power is now restored - in time for the nor'easter which hit yesterday, and it is still snowing and blowing in our end of the state. Our daughter who lives about 125 miles east of us has about 36 inches of the not-so-welcome white stuff. We fared better, with only 12-18 inches drifted in the driveway and the back deck so far.

Just before all these goings-on, I spent a morning at the church fellowship hall, arranging my Quilty 365 blocks into rows. This top is being built diagonally, so I started with the first row, which on the finished quilt will end up as bottom left to top right - 25 circle blocks. With the diagonal setting, it took four tables across to get all the squares in place

plus a chair for the last two rows!

After labeling each row I gathered everything up and returned home, and in spare moments began stitching the blocks together, adding setting triangles at the ends of each row. I recall saying in an earlier post that the odds were pretty good that a duplicate fabric would show up in an adjacent block, to be noticed only after sewing together ... and yes!
The only one I've caught, so far, and at this point I figure if these fabrics want to stay together this badly, who am I to argue?

I started with the shortest rows which will end up on the upper left side of the quilt, stitching rows together in groups of three.

At that point I decided it would be easier to add these shortest segments onto the main quilt body last, so I moved on to sewing together the longest diagonal rows, and here are the longest segments stretched out on the living room floor.
Point to point diagonally this monster measures a whopping 132 inches! Yowzers, these are long seams! When all the sections are sewn together the top should measure somewhere around 92 inches square. Before borders. In the meantime, strips and segments litter most every surface in my sewing area.

At this point all the segments are made for the left side of the quilt and I think there are nine or so rows of circles yet to be stitched together. Hopefully in the next week or so, barring any more major interruptions to the scattered and scarce sewing time around here.

I realize all this may make little or no sense to anyone else, but I'm so excited to finally see this quilt beginning to take shape, just as I envisioned it several months ago! And I'm so thankful that there was enough of that burnt orange sashing fabric to make the quilt the size I had hoped for. Luck of the Irish? This week, that may just be the case!