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 ( 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!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Beginnings and Endings

Beginnings ...
Another Opportunity Quilt!  The reverse side of my "17 in 2017" list is filling in faster than the front!
This little finish is a quick baby quilt for an upcoming shower in mid-March for a young couple who attended our church before moving to a neighboring city.  Since the other members of our ministry group were involved in other projects, I volunteered for this one, went home and sorted through the baby/child fabric bins and came up with this - finishing at 38-1/2 inches square.

Everything about this quilt is from stash remnants with the exception of the sweet tangerine Dear Stella print along the sides. I had purchased this fabric online a few months ago, to include in my grandson's baby quilt, but when it arrived found it was the wrong shade, and more suited to a little girl's quilt.

Just for fun, a little glimpse of my very cluttered sewing space!

The back - two very favorite fabrics I've been saving for just the right quilt. The blue remnant was probably picked up at a yard sale several years ago, every bit used in this quilt.  

A closer look at the back (colors are more true in this photo)

This little quilt was three afternoons in the making, one to piece the front and back, another to layer and quilt (love that serpentine stitch with the even-feed foot!), and a third afternoon to bind.  And I love the soft puffiness of the not-too-dense quilting with the Hobbs Polydown batting.  One last photo of this finish ...

Endings ...
This weekend we had to say goodbye to a faithful member of our little household for 13 years of his nearly 15 years on this earth.  He was the epitome of pure love, a quality we humans can only hope to achieve in our years on this earth.  So many memories, so many raw emotions right now

He was our constant companion and loved rides in the truck and walking along the Oregon beaches with us

He spent many hours alongside me as I worked in the sewing room, and occasionally bombed a photoshoot

He loved his home in the country

He loved life, and never complained, right up until the end when his heart gave out.  He gave us his all, and we tried our best to reciprocate.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Little of This, A Little of That, Some Big and Little Baskets

My week so far has been about as crazy and disjointed as that blog post title!   The week began innocently enough with plans to finish sashing the upper halves of each little Quilty 365 block, and here they are ...
well, 313 of them anyway, as that is what I've calculated are needed to bring the quilt to the ginormous size I want it, setting the blocks on-point with at least one narrow and one wide border added beyond the setting triangles.   After considering whether to sort the blocks into piles of light, medium and dark background squares, I finally decided that a random setting might work best. But, there is no surface large enough in this house to lay out the entire top.  So, with 313 squares, what are the chances that a completely random setting will result in two or more identical background blocks showing up right next to each other?  Hmm, knowing me the odds are pretty good actually!  So, hopefully on Friday there will be time to head down to the church and push several large tables together so I can lay this out and then tag each row.   Sooo looking forward to seeing this beast finally stitched together into a finished top!

Yesterday the first hand quilted stitches were added to the big basket top pieced last year, or was it two years ago now? It has waited a long time to begin looking like a finish might happen this year. Time will tell ...

And the little baskets are progressing ever so slowly, only seven done at this point.  Though I'm loving the Old Plum Calicoes for this quilt I'm thinking a few more lighter purple shades will need to mix in to keep the quilt from turning out darker than I'd like.  Though in truth I've only cut into two of the actual plum fabrics so far, and the two lighter baskets came from scrap bin pieces. Definitely going to be a lifetime project this one ...

Oh yes, another 'squirrel' opportunity arrived on my doorstep this week, but I'll save that for the next post.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Bee Charmer's Flower Garden" is a Finish!

Today I sewed the label onto The Bee Charmer's Flower Garden and can happily call this one a finish!

When I last posted, this donation quilt was just a completed top with a couple major seams ditch-quilted. You can see the back story of this quilt here.

A combination of free-motion and walking foot quilting was used to complete the quilting. First, I had hoped to find a tutorial for quilting some little bees in the central daisy panels, and was delighted to find this tutorial on Lori Kennedy's Inbox Jaunt blog!  After some practice I managed to create a critter that vaguely resembles a bee ...

The sashings are quilted with a few variations of easy flowers and leaves. These photos mostly depict the sashings as a pinky-beige on my monitor, when in reality they and the outer border are both a lovely golden color. I admit to being a challenged photographer!

For the outer borders I returned to the walking foot and stitched two lines of my machine's serpentine stitch, stretched to the maximum (which wasn't all that large) and am very happy with the puffy effect, not to mention the speed at which the borders were stitched!  I think it took longer to pin them closely to keep the fabrics from shifting than it did to stitch all the lines!

The back has this cute rolling hills and farm fabric bordered with strips of the same fabric as the border on the front.

I have to say I'm so happy with the way this quilt turned out, it's bright and cheerful, colorful and happy in every way!  I hope the recipient will smile every time she looks at it and wraps herself or her little ones in it.