Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Trying to keep up with whatever it is I'm working on ...

A few of the projects occupying my spare minutes over the past couple weeks.  Someday maybe I'll actually make a list and keep track of completed stages of everything being worked on, though then that would take up time that could be spent stitching ...

First, I got a good start on piecing a bed-size quilt for the not-quite-12 year-old grandson that will be the major part of his Christmas gift.  When he and his siblings last visited I sat each of them down with paper and pencil and asked them to write down 7 things they liked to do or were interested in.  This guy's list included architecture (building sets), Eiffel Tower in particular, New York City, London, and reading spy novels.  Since his favorite subject in school is math, and they are also  studying world cultures this year. I figured I had enough subject matter (and fabric pieces) for building his quilt top.  As of now nearly half of the top is constructed.  I'm using a slightly size altered version of Bonnie Hunter's Sticks and Stones pattern that can be found under the Free Patterns tab on her Quiltville blog. 

I'm building the quilt top in four sections, the upper left quadrant was completed this afternoon.

The second quadrant (upper right side) is still on the design wall.  Blocks not yet sewn into rows. Fabrics focus on city streets, buildings, lots of numbers representing his interest in architecture and math, and even one spy-related block.  Text in foreign language blocks, etc.  In hopes of keeping this masculine and "grown-up" the sashings are understated with just a bit of color pop in the cornerstones.

Fall is such a fleeting season and with the holiday season coming (sooner than I'd like)  I began quilting the first Christmas quilt that will actually remain in our house, one that has been patiently waiting in the closet since the end of February. 

Ditch quilting all 30 stars 

Do you ever ditch quilt using your free motion foot rather than a walking foot?  I've tried it a few times, and found it fairly easy to accomplish, though my limited eyesight these days prevents ditching while stitching sideways so the quilt still needs to be turned every time I pivot around these stars.  I've found it easier to focus on the needle's path when using a smaller free motion foot rather than the bulky even feed foot and so this is what works for now.   I'll stencil some holiday motifs in the blocks for FMQ in the next couple days and really hope to have both this and the grandson's quilt completed by the end of November.

I still plan to do the Almost Amish quiltalong being hosted by Lori at Humble Quilts.  After dithering about a month because my first fabric selections just didn't gel, when I started cutting all the little sashing squares for my grandson's quilt the fabric just jumped out at me and fairly screamed "use these colors!"  
And so I will.  And hopefully on Saturday if all goes well there will (finally) be about of six uninterrupted hours when this little quilt can finally be stitched.  It's a nice thought, we'll see what happens.

Oh yes, one more oldie-but-goodie, wondering if anyone out there also has an unfinished Westering Women top still awaiting quilting!   I finally pieced a back, marked the entire front with my largest Baptist fan stencil, layered and pinned it last week, and am whiling away my evenings in the recliner big-stitch quilting this one.  What a wonderful way to spend the evening.  Especially loving the wool batting I'm using for the first time, so easy to quilt through.  A friend had given me a partial batting a few years back, she had just cut a small piece off, and the remainder was the perfect size for this quilt.  I can hardly wait to finally finish this one, hopefully before winter is over.

This has gotten long and the hour is late, so I'll close for now.  Til next time, happy stitching!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Stringing Along in September, and a Finish

September seemed to fly by, what with the last of the garden harvest and canning, and changing over to autumn mode that I'd hoped would be more leisurely, though maybe October will be the start of that, who knows?

I made great progress on the 2019 Stringalong hosted by Lori at Humble Quilts.  There were extra batik rails left over from piecing last month's flimsy Joseph's Coat, and I had been hankering to use that piece of red/orange batik that was a runner-up for the alternate strippy panels on that first flimsy.  So I pieced a few more rails, cut some strippy panels and borders and came up with this.

I love the stained glass effect of a sunny fall afternoon, however when I brought it inside for another shot I was a bit disappointed in how the borders kind of faded away.  I'll need to be on the lookout for the perfect binding to punch it up just a bit.
This second flimsy measures 55x72 inches before quilting.  I'm thinking I'll give these two a quick machine quilting and keep them here.  I had originally begun piecing the first Joseph's Coat for a young girl known to one of our quilt ministry members, however the family seems to have moved from the area and haven't been heard from in a couple months.  The quilts are about a perfect size for the grandkids to use when they visit and are sleeping on air mattresses in the sewing room, or an adult napping on the couch.  Never can have too many utility quilts it seems!

Lest you think I've totally forgotten about Sing the Blues Mama Lou, not so!  I've been busy cutting and marking the final 80 quadrants and getting them ready for stitching the strings.  And here is the mess by the Singer 201 as I write this!
I have high hopes of completing the stitching of the strings in October and then begin assembling the blocks in November, or maybe January depending on progress on a couple other Christmas projects.

And finally, to finish off September, over the weekend the last stitches were put in the Swiffer Box quilt, and it is now done, washed, and ready for delivery to our grandson - yay!!   After the outside photo shoot in the back yard Sunday afternoon I wanted to call this one "the green, green grass of home" but I guess I'll stick with the original name.   Still need to make a special label for this one naming my grandson as  the block designer and color coordinator for the sashings and borders and me as the stitcher.  Finished size after a wash and dry is 67x52 inches.  I hope he likes it!

Linking to Lori's Stringalong Progress post here.  And a good Monday to all.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Monthly Mini - September

In cold inky skies
snow geese take wing southward as
golden sunset fades

This month's mini challenge began with a baggie of small scraps from a frequent donor of fabrics to our quilting ministry.  Included were some partially completed tiny flying geese.  Too small for any of our other quilters to be interested, they came home with me.  A couple of my own scraps for sashing and borders/binding, a bit of hand and machine quilting, and done.  Finished at 11-3/4 by 13-1/2 inches.

My August mini continues to languish simmer while I dither a bit more.  Maybe October will bring that one to completion?

I'll link to Wendy's (Constant Quilter) when she posts her monthly mini lineup for September.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Something New

For awhile now I've been wanting to make my son a Japanese-themed quilt, since he has been interested in all things Japanese since he was in junior high school.  Not really too surprising, since his great aunt had served in the Army for many years stationed in post-war Japan.  During that time she became quite an accomplished potter and had been acquainted with and studied under at least one Japanese master potter there.  Another great uncle had studied the art of bonsai and his back yard was filled with examples of his work.  Both of these relatives are now deceased.  We had also hosted a Japanese exchange student during one of my son's high school years, and my son has also studied some of the martial arts and had a great interest in collecting some Japanese swords - at least until his children began arriving.

Anyway, I decided this would be the year to make at least a small wall quilt in time for his birthday early next year.  I was lucky enough to find a used copy of the book Quilting with Japanese Fabrics by the late Kitty Pippen and it has become a treasured resource. Actually becoming a bit dog-eared with repeated readings - so much to learn!
Filled with photographs of Mrs. Pippen's gorgeous quilts constructed of vintage Japanese fabrics, topics covered include elements of Japanese design, descriptions of the types of fabrics produced in Japan and the long arduous process of indigo dying, traditional  sashiko designs, along with several detailed projects.  At this point probably my very favorite quilting book.

Last night I began drafting a fairly simple (I hope) design for this first quilt.  For the past few months I've been collecting some small pieces of Japanese yukata and other fabrics.  Here is the initial selection of potential fabrics for a small wall quilt (subject to further editing of course!).

And, to make things even sweeter, Saturday's mail delivery contained an envelope from Japan.  Cynthia of Wabi-sabi Quilts sent along these two sweet pieces of fabric, one a classic chrysanthemum print and the second a piece of blue tenugui with a fishing net design.  Thank you Cynthia!  The blue tenugui will be a beautiful accent fabric for this first quilt.  I plan to save the chrysanthemum fabric for another future project.

Til next time, enjoy this first day of fall!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Quirky Little Quilt Rack and the Swiffer Box Quilt

A week or so ago we wandered into a new-to-us little antique-vintage shop a few miles from home.  In our search for a chest of drawers for the spare bedroom (to hold quilts of course!) we also spotted this little rack.

I'll admit I'm always smitten with vintage racks, especially those with neat old metal hardware, the kind you just don't see in the hardware stores today, and with a wonderful patina.  This little beauty filled all the checkboxes in my wish list including its low price.  Is this not just the sweetest little thing?

My guess is that it began life as a towel holder from back in the day when one would find a large pitcher and bowl on a stand for washing up.  Whatever, it has found a new life here!

Standing a mere 30 inches high by 20 inches wide, it's just the perfect size for several small spots in our house, and perfectly sized to hold some of my little finishes from Lori's (Humble Quilts) Fall Sew-alongs.  This one is Country Roads from about five years back.

A week ago we visited my son and his family, and I took along the stitched-together blocks my grandson had created on the design wall when they were here a few weeks back.  The blocks were made from the bonus triangle squares made from the flippy corner cut offs in another quilt I finished last year.  Grandson arranged the blocks in the order he wanted them and decided he still liked the white-brown-black paisley as sashing.  He then chose a Paula Nadelstern print that I've had in my stash for quite a few years as his border.   Wonder if he expected the finished flimsy to turn out like this:

The only fabric I added was the green solid to give the eye a tiny break between the paisley and the border fabrics.  Oh yes, that paisley was a piece of wide leftover binding cut on the bias!  Yeah, bias sashings.

At this point I figured I might as well use up the two Nadelstern prints and piece together some sort of backing. That done I then found enough batting scraps to produce a Frankenbatt which seemed to somehow fit the general theme.

And we're down to just a few tiny pieces to add to the scrap boxes.  I'll pin the quilt on Tuesday and hopefully give it a quick machine quilting and binding by the end of the week.

Remember all those leftover/bonus triangle squares he so carefully placed on the design wall to create his center blocks?  Want to take a guess at the original quilt made with those fabrics?   Here 'tis, finished just about this time last fall.

Til next time, happy Monday and happy quilting!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Design Wall Fun, or Give a Kid a Swiffer Box!

Three of the grandkids spent last weekend with us.  Much fun outside, playing in the creek, a treasure hunt in the woods with grandpa, badminton games, and lobbing tennis balls for the dog to fetch and return (not sure who had more fun on that last one).  Exhausted grandparents by Sunday afternoon!

A couple hours before they all departed, and after air mattresses were deflated so we could walk in the sewing room, the older two wanted to sew.  I gave the 8-year old granddaughter a partially completed wool embroidery to finish stitching, and gave the 11-year old boy a Swiffer box filled with triangle squares made from cutoffs from a quilt I completed last year.  A LOT of triangle squares.  Asked him to design a quilt block or two.  He pondered for a few minutes and then ...

After completing this block he wanted a sashing strip and chose this leftover binding fabric.  Well OK! 

And about half an hour later he ran out of design wall ...

He ran out of room but not triangle squares!  He asked me if I would sew the blocks together and then send the quilt to him as soon as it was done.  Of course!   There was no time to get out the machine and have him begin the stitching since mom and dad wanted to get on the road right after lunch. I think there are enough squares for two more blocks.  We'll see if this spatially dyslexic granny can duplicate his design - or not.  We'll be seeing them again in a couple weeks when we deliver a small dressing table for the 8-year old's bedroom.  I'll take along a small tote of border fabric selections and let him choose what he wants.  The first block (64 squares) finished at about 14-1/2 inches.  It will be a smallish quilt, but he will love it since it's his own design.

And I'll have an empty swiffer box to fill with more HST squares!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Joseph's Coat

By a wing and a prayer, Joseph's Coat became a completed flimsy this afternoon.  It's my second string-along quilt top for Lori's (Humble Quilts) challenge this year, though the first one to reach the completed stage.

In my earlier posts I had toyed with the idea of adding the yellow batik fabric strips between the rail fence blocks, trying to bring the top to a useable throw size.  I loved the yellow alone, but by itself it just took over and somehow diminished the lovely bright effect of those wonderful batik rails.  Several kind readers suggested black for the alternating strips.  I loved the idea of narrow black batik strips to separate each section so added those.  But how to tame that yellow, or provide a viable substitute?

This top needed to come entirely from my scraps and stash. There is a medium tote stuffed with beautiful batiks, now mostly in strips and scraps since I've already completed two queen size quilts from that tote.  The possibilities with enough yardage were few:

Loved this orange-red batik but not exactly what I had in mind.

Nope, looks too much like a kitchen countertop.

Yes!!  Of course this was the best choice ... the smallest piece of the bunch, with about 25" by WOF.  Could it work, at least for the wide sashing strips between the rail blocks?   Measuring once, twice, three or more times, trying it with a narrow strip of the yellow batik sandwiched between two strips had a nice effect I thought.

So that became the plan.  Strips cut, pieced together, and there was 10-1/2" of that precious batik leftover.  Now the dilemma became how could I make that 10-1/2" stretch into bordering the entire quilt?  Good question, and the answer finally turned out, I couldn't.  Those narrow black strips outlining the rail sections were cut from a little over one fat quarter, and I had the remainder of the second fat quarter left.  So, that plus the 10-1/2" of the other gold/blue/green batik were carefully cut into 2-1/8" strips.  Side borders got the gold/blue/green, and top and bottom were pieced to alternate the black with the gold, and finally a finished top measuring a healthy 55 x 66 inches.

And here's what is left from that 10-1/2" of border fabric

This morning the quilt's name Joseph's Coat came to mind, partly because of the strong vertical lines and many colors, and mostly because Dolly Parton's famous "Coat of Many Colors" kept playing in my mind.  Now to find a backing fabric, something a bit more subtle perhaps?

I'll be linking up with Wendy's Peacock Party and Lori's String-along Challenge.

Til next time, happy quilting!

Monday, August 12, 2019

"April in Paris" - an August Finish!

"April in Paris" is finally a finished quilt!  The last binding stitch was put in over the weekend, and I immediately whisked it outside for a photo shoot.   It was a windy afternoon.

All these photos were taken before washing out the Crayola markers I used for tracing stencils and some freehand designs in the larger blocks.  I was pretty nervous about that first wash, partly because of the dark markers and also that bright claret used for the sashings.   A couple color-catchers in the pre-rinse came out bright blue-green, first thought to be from the markers, until I discovered the Printed Treasures label had been dyed the same blue-green. But no red bleed - whew!  After the pre-rinse in cold water I washed the quilt with a bit of laundry soap in cold water.  No bleed on anything except that label which seems to be permanently dyed.  It's the first time I've seen a Printed Treasures label take on dye like that.  Thinking now it must have been from the blue backing fabric, though that had been prewashed.  I'm just breathing a sigh of relief that the entire quilt didn't take on a blue hue.

The dog run finally has a purpose though it took a 3-step ladder to reach the line!

A bit closer

The back

My faithful photo shoot assistant, who was polite enough to not roll on the quilt!

And a finished quilt post deserves a shot by one of my favorite trees out back!

This quilt is based on a pattern by Tony Jacobson published in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting.  My version's finished size after washing is 76 inches square. The quilt crinkled up nicely after quilting and its bath, though the shrinkage was far more than I'd expected.  The flimsy measured 80 inches square and I'd hoped it would remain close to the 80 inches, but I'm very pleased otherwise with how it turned out.  This quilt is destined for the benefit auction on August 31.

This was my One Monthly Goal for August and I'll be linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts here.

Til next time, happy stitching!  I see canning in my near future.  Tomatoes still green but the plants are heavy with fruit, with any luck we will see a huge harvest, some for us and some for sharing.