Thursday, March 2, 2023

Marching Forward

 Well, so much for getting a second post for February composed!  Not that nothing has been accomplished, but I suppose it's much more fun posting a new finish than reporting on the daily slog to move projects forward.

So, since we last visited, I've accomplished the ditch quilting on three quilts that are now ready for some FMQ or hand quilting.  One of the donation tops from Nann was my favorite, and though it's mostly all florals and leaves, the bright colors make me think of mid-summer and citrus fruits. I'm loving working on this one.  Now that the ditch quilting around the blocks is finished, the plan is to free motion a leafy-loopy pattern in each block, and probably also in the outer border. Don't think a fancy stencil will show up well on that leafy print you can see along the right edge in the photo below.  

I've also made progress with piecing my vintage spin blocks, up to 23 now (I think).  They're super easy piecing - free pinless piecing - which is a departure for me  who always loads up on pins attempting to achieve perfect piecing - an impossible task! A few more of the blocks for this top:

It will be interesting to see if all these blocks can be merged into one harmonious whole.  My husband doesn't want me to cut the wagon wheels down into squares, but instead divide the blocks into several tops, which would result in 22" blocks! 🤣 

Ah, probably not.  Needless to say though, this quilt has been more fun than I've had quilting in quite awhile, and stretching my imagination quite a bit in the process.

So, last Sunday I volunteered myself to make two donation quilts for an older woman and her multiply-challenged adult son.  Being immune-compromised she has not felt safe for either of them to be among large groups of people, and though they come to church regularly, they listen to the service via FM radio in their car.  It must be so lonely for them feeling they must remain isolated from the world, but they and we are thankful for the electronic means available to keep in touch.

Anyway, the son's quilt will be a lap size, probably finishing in the neighborhood of 40x45 or 50 inches. An animal theme was suggested, especially dogs, and I found a sweet panel online, and have just begun the design/piecing process for this one. Planning to see if there are any more ducks or geese fabrics in the ministry stash before finalizing anything, but my fabric pull from home stash is here.

So, that's a wrap for February's progress.  Snow-rain-sleet storm is predicted for our end of the state tomorrow into Saturday.  Depending on which weather model is used, we're supposed to get anywhere from 4-11 inches of snow.  Time will tell, if it's as bad as they predict, there should be lots of quilty sewing time over the weekend. 

Til next time, happy stitching!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Slow Progress and a Completed Top

 It seems this year is starting off the same way last year ended, very very slowly as far as quilting progress goes.  However - I have a completed top to show you, a super scrappy whimsical children's donation top made during our quilt ministry meetings over the past couple months.

 It wasn't until I found the yellow and blue polka-dot fabrics in one of the bins at church that it seemed like the chaotic assortment of blocks could come together into a more or less cohesive whole.  The sashings add a note of bright spring-like cheeriness that this needed.  The individual blocks are made up of a few fairly modern fabrics along with a lot of older prints likely from the 1990s, and possibly earlier.

The last couple weeks I've spent cutting hundreds of wedge pieces and have begun piecing my version of Vintage Spin.  I've had this quilt on my to-make list ever since seeing Kathy Doughty's version in her book Adding Layers.  I've sewn together the wedges for the first three blocks.   This first one is my favorite so far.   I think lack of sharp contrast appeals to me more than the second block with the stark black/white.  We shall see how it all plays together, it may be that there will be some orphans among the pile of wedges.

The first three:

I followed Kathy Doughty's plan to utilize vintage or old-looking fabrics to put this version together.  Since both our ministry bins and my own stash are composed of a lot of older fabrics, I didn't have to haunt thrift shops looking for any more!  About half-way through the cutting process I began to wonder how this pattern might look composed of batiks, and may just try that option for a smaller second quilt.  I'm planning on waiting until all the wedge pairs are pieced before squaring up any of the blocks.  

The Janome is back from the repair shop, it turns out the problem wasn't in the machine itself, the dual feed foot was broken after all.  There is a tiny spring in the enclosed portion of the foot that had broken, so the foot needed to be replaced.  All in all, a much less expensive repair than I'd anticipated.  I've begun ditch quilting the seams on the Christmas top pieced at the end of December, and that will become next up in the evening hand quilting queue.

Our very odd winter weather continues, with little to no snow, and temperatures mostly in the 40s and even low 50s the past week or so, and next week our prediction is for more of the same.  Just hoping we don't get all our snow in March and April!

Til next time, happy stitching!

Monday, January 16, 2023

First Finish of 2023!

 Good morning friends!

I finally finished hand quilting the Red and Lights log cabin quilt a week or so ago, and completed stitching down the binding over the weekend.  Here's how it looked by evening lamp light about five minutes after the last stitch was taken.  A little late for Christmas but just in time for Valentines Day, with exactly one Christmas fabric and a few light pinks (more on that later).  My goal is to have four Christmas/winter quilts for the holiday season,  This is number three and the gray/red squares top from my last December post will be the fourth.

We finally had a sunny afternoon yesterday after several days of gray foggy rain and wind, followed by snow. 

Not too much snow as you can see and it was beginning to melt where the sun shone on the lawn.  Our dog loves snow, running along and scooping it up on his tongue every few steps, then rolling in it and generally having a great time.

The back:

After getting a few more shots and walking Gibbs around the yard, the quilt came back inside for its first bath and fluff in the dryer.  Hmm, even using Synthrapol and several color catchers, a few of the "white" prints came back a pale pink, thankfully uniformly, but pink nonetheless!  I had used scraps from a number of sources, some of which probably had never been prewashed. Interestingly, some of the whites remained totally unchanged.  So, rather than calling it my red and white quilt (actually some of the whites were creams and light tans to begin with), the new name is Red and Lights.  

After washing while finishing drying on the bed:

The hand quilting made it soft and snuggly, perfect for one of the grandchildren when they stay over on Christmas Eve next time.  It shrunk up a bit after washing, now measuring 62x71 inches.

I've fallen behind with blogging, reading others' posts and especially commenting over the past few weeks. We are settling in to a new normal after our beloved pastor was laid to rest on Friday, after serving our little country church and the surrounding communities for over forty years.  Last week was spent preparing for the several hundred friends and extended family expected for the funeral. Hearing nearly 200 people lifting their voices in unison in songs of faith and hope was almost beyond description.  We are blessed to be a part of this community of faith.

Til next time, stitch with joy and cherish every day!

Monday, January 2, 2023

Historic Panel Challenge Top

Today is the day Lori at Humble Quilts is having her linky party finale for her Historic Panel Challenge. Of course I do not have a finished quilt ready, but do have my top finished, and since the photos taken in early December now have the quilt sandwiched and ready for quilting!  

So many decisions during the process.  I really didn't want to make another mini or small quilt - we simply do not have any more wall space to display little quilts, and I wanted to make it a useful size.  This ends up measuring in the neighborhood of 72x72 inches.  The biggest challenge was trying to make each round come out to an even number - my old math skills seem to have flown by the wayside in recent months! No one was more amazed than I was when all those sawtooth blocks came out even when they were sewn together into the borders!  

Next up is the decision of how this will be quilted.  I'm leaning toward a combination of hand and machine quilting, although nothing will take place until the Janome returns home from it's next visit to the repair shop (see my previous post).  

Anyway, I chose this Barbara Brackman Metropolitan Fair print for the backing - it was the only reproduction print I had enough of to make a backing, and it had been saved for enough years waiting for the perfect place to use it.  

I'm planning to incorporate the panel selvedge into the label eventually.  Not sure of the age of this panel since I wasn't able to find a reference to it online.  Does anyone (Lori?) know?

The new year has begun with quiet, calm, above freezing weather, and the ice in the driveway has departed leaving us with squishy ground underneath.  But if the sunshine holds, we may see it dry out enough that we don't feel like we're wallowing in little stones and mud when we try to cross it.  In the meantime, the kitchen and back entry room floors show lots of little footprints as I'm not keen on mopping every hour of the live long day.  I'd rather be quilting!

So, thanks Lori, for this challenge, and for sending this great little panel a couple years ago.  I'm hoping it will be a true-blue finish by the end of 2023!

Friday, December 30, 2022

End of Year Stitching and Finishes

 Hello friends,  

 It's been a busy week here in the sewing room.  Right after Christmas I recalled that the week between Christmas and New Years seems to be when home fires begin occurring in our rural area, and that we had no finished quilts in our ministry bins.  So, on Monday afternoon I started some simple quilting on two donated tops that we had recently layered and pinned.  Sure enough, a couple nights ago a local family lost their home to a fire.  The family was not at home when the fire started and all are safe, but sadly their pets perished in the blaze.  The two quilts are now bound and ready for donation as soon as we learn the dropoff locations for donated items.  The two finishes, with thanks to Nann for the donated tops:

Finished size 53x71 inches

Finished size 60x80 inches

In the midst of quilting these two, the dual feed foot on my Janome suddenly developed a glitch, and now refuses to stay connected with the main feed dog mechanism.  The foot itself seems to be ok, so I'm thinking the issue is in the back of the machine itself, no doubt requiring a visit to the sewing machine repair center 25 miles from here.  Hopefully not too expensive a repair, and I'm especially hoping the machine doesn't need to be shipped back to the factory and I can get it back home quickly. Always something ...

In other happier news, the 2022 Christmas quilt top is finished and awaiting a backing and sandwiching for hand quilting in the new year.  Top measures 68x77 inches.

A few closeups of some of my favorite fabric squares:

I only had one square of this sweet feature fabric

Quirky mushrooms

I had hoped to complete the hand quilting on my red and white log cabin quilt and have it bound and finished by year's end, but outside of a miracle, it will be another few days before that is accomplished. The most recent progress photo from last week:

Our weather is considerably better than last week, as we're in the midst of a thaw, and the ice in the driveway is slowly disappearing in the 50 degree temperatures.  Hoping it will last through the weekend as my brother-in-law is bringing his homemade lasagna for our New Year's Day dinner!  All I need to do is set the table and make a simple green salad.  Now that's a holiday in my book!

May your new year be blessed with good health, joy and peace.  

I'll be back early next week with my historic panel top when Lori posts her linky party.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Country Christmas

Christmas week, the gifts are wrapped, cards sent, cookies still in the planning stage, and in the midst of it all a new Christmas quilt started!  Several weeks ago I spotted this inspiration quilt by Amber at Gigi's Thimble blog. The soft colors and super-simple piecing appealed to me after the angst of putting together the top for the historic panel challenge (to be posted soon).  I've been hoarding saving a few pieces of older French General fabrics waiting for the perfect pattern.  Scrappy leftovers from other Christmas quilts, a treasured piece of Jason Yenter Yuletide fabric, and I was cutting squares in no time.

No better time than the holiday season for some simple peaceful piecing fun! 

Initial layout for about half of the quilt.  Quite a few blocks were moved around as sewing commenced. My blocks were cut at 5" with a planned layout of 15x17 blocks for a good size throw quilt.  I've been stitching the blocks into horizontal rows, then combining two rows together.  Hoping to be ready to assemble the double rows into four sections before sewing the whole together.  Maybe tomorrow.

Here's what was left of the second left-hand layout on the design wall when I quit sewing on Saturday.

I'm loving the soft hand of the French General fabrics, and thinking of using the one large piece in my stash for the backing to keep the soft cozy feel of the quilt.  This one will definitely be on my hand quilting queue for next year's evening stitching.  

After last Christmas we made the decision to not bother with a tree anymore, and have just decorated the dining and living areas of the house with lights and some treasured pieces from many years ago.  I packed up a box of ornaments for my son's family but have kept a few that we can use in bowls, and have a treasured handful hanging from the simple dining room chandelier.

A few of our treasures that remain ..
The far left Santa I've had for probably 40 years, the wooden handmade Christmas train purchased at a craft fair in Oregon-probably 10-12 years ago.

The wood trees were made by my late father-in-law about 40 years ago, the two hand-painted Father Christmas figures made by a friend 35 or so years past.

Large nativity from Liberia purchased at a silent auction in Oregon; the partial nativity at the right is one my mom had for many years, origin unknown.  Little cornhusk angel was a gift from my children when they were young.

Little carolers purchased at Fred Meyer in Anchorage, Alaska about 45 years ago; the barb-wire star made by one of our church families several years ago.  

Some of the many fabric ornaments I've made over the past few years, about to be wrapped and given to some of the youngest members of our congregation on Christmas Eve.

It has snowed lightly all day today, we probably have a couple inches accumulated by now.  The local road crews are very faithful at keeping the roads sanded and plowed, for which we are extremely thankful.  

Til next time, a blessed Christmas to all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A Mini for November

 It's not Throwback Thursday, but today I'll share a mini quilt made several years ago, I believe before joining Wendy's wonderful Monthly Mini Roundup.

This is called simply Pieced from Lois's Scraps II.  

Over the years my friend Lois has brought little baggies of leftover pieces from various quilts she has made, and we issued a challenge for our quilt group to take some of the scraps, make a little quilt, then pass along the remainder from the baggie to someone else.  I think only one other person participated beside myself, and this is my favorite of the minis made from Lois's scraps.  There are also several full size quilts that I've made from her scraps and abandoned projects.

The cake stand blocks are made from her leftovers and I added the cheddar/gold fabrics from my own stash.  

The cake stand blocks are 4 inches and the finished quilt measures 16 inches square.  I hand quilted it in light yellow thread.

The back is from a feed sack.  A little easier to see the quilting here. The photo dates this little quilt to fall of 2018.  It has hung in our dining room since it was finished.

You can visit Wendy's blog at The Constant Quilter to find other lovely monthly minis posted on the last day of each month.  

A bit of snow in our forecast for tonight, but then warming again by weekend.  We have had an unusually warm November, and unlike other parts of western New York very little snow.  Yay for clear dry roads!

p.s.   I've had difficulty leaving comments on a number of blog posts lately.  I apologize for this but Blogger seems intent on making it more and more difficult all the time to be sociable with our blogging friends.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A November Finish

Finished on Friday, gifted on Sunday to a church member about to undergo major surgery, this is the simple Autumn Squares quilt, for lack of a better name.

I quilted it very simply, stitch in the ditch on all the squares, then diagonal serpentine lines in all the narrow strips and across the squares.  

It has been difficult to find time to sew this year, but yesterday I finally had an NBS (nothing but sewing) day and have nearly finished the sawtooth star border on the historic medallion quilt.  No photos until the top is complete, at this point it is about 63x63 inches.  I'd like to add one or two additional borders to bring it up to at least 70 inches wide, or perhaps 72x80 inches, which will make it a good usable size.  

In the meantime a few more photos of the Autumn Squares finish.

The back, which didn't photograph very well.  It is actually a soft golden buttery yellow print.  Selvedge is marked Jane Word 1996 for Fabrics by Spectrix.  I had never heard of that company, have you?

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at our younger daughter's home, and are currently enjoying lots of turkey leftovers as I made a turkey breast with all the trimmings on Sunday afternoon.  I love a few days of just heat-em-up meals, don't you!?

I'll try to be back tomorrow with a mini quilt - an older one from before I joined Wendy's Monthly Minis Group.  Til then, have a lovely day!