Monday, February 19, 2018

A Completed Flimsy, at Last!

It seems like forever that I've been toiling over this quilt top, but at last, ta-da!
Now, what are the odds that the very day you need to lay the quilt with the black background out on the floor a bajillion times in order to measure each of the five borders, that the long-haired Aussie puppy would begin to blow his winter coat?  Apparently, in this house, about 100 percent!  Despite several sessions vacuuming floors and carpet, by the time every last border was stitched the quilt top  was covered with long downy white dog hair.  An hour or so this morning with the lint roller and scissors trimming the little threads away from seams, and it was finally presentable for a photo.

That 4th border with the parallelograms gave me a bit of a hassle, but if one steps back and ignores the somewhat haphazard points it doesn't look too bad.  Like they say, if you can't see it from the back of a galloping steed at 20 yards ...  I do love that mantra!   The finished top measures about 91 inches square, though it doesn't appear square in the photos, given that our ceilings are low and it's difficult to get a good angle for a straight-on shot.

A bit closer view

We seem to have broken the back of winter around here, and though it's dark and gloomy today, tomorrow's forecast is for partially clearing skies and temperatures near 70 in the afternoon - I for one can live with that!  We are seeing the maple sap buckets and lines out now, and hopefully the temperatures won't remain so warm that the trees bud out too early, and ruin the sap run.  We still need to have nighttime temps below freezing for awhile longer for a successful season.

The aforesaid puppy is now nine months old, and though we had hoped he would know better by now, he seems to have it in his head that anything and everything is his for the chewing. We still can't let him out of our sight in the house, sad to say.  Last week he managed to chew the plug off my iron, which thankfully was not connected to an outlet at the time. The quilts have gone into hiding, behind closed doors or tucked away in blanket chests since one was found yesterday with a hole chewed into the muslin back and batting but thankfully missing the front patch and hand quilting. Mendable, but still ...

The hand/wrist issues I've been having all fall and winter turned out not to be so much carpal tunnel related, but rather significant arthritis and bone spurs.  So, it looks like the pace will need to be slowed to try to stay ahead of it and not invite more painful flareups.  Thankfully I can still hand quilt for short stints and hand applique doesn't seem to aggravate the wrist. Rotary cutting and machine stitching are more problematic, and I really need to pace myself much more.

Still plugging away on hand quilting my Quilty 365 and the basket quilt in spare moments, with hopes of having both completed sometime this year. Pictures when there is more significant progress to show.

One more close-up of the newest flimsy

Happy stitching friends!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Building Blocks and Bonus Points

Sometimes quilting is a lot like building with blocks, and that's the way this past week has gone. It must be nearly two years ago that I worked on these blocks

and now we're on to constructing the pieced blocks, beginning with these stacks of 5-1/2 inch sub-units involving what seems a never-ending number of HSTs.

All of which will eventually (hopefully this weekend) build the central medallion of this top:
photo from Quilt Sampler Fall 2010

My bonus points?  These piles of HST units created with the cut-offs from all the sew-and-flip portions of the 5-1/2 inch units! 

This top will end up providing me with several hundred of these bonus HST's that will trim to two inches and finish at 1-1/2 inches.  There are 200 so far and I haven't even begun to put the borders together. Off-hand, I'm thinking the border units will yield another 120-150. Oh, the possibilities!

Monday, January 15, 2018

What's Old is New

This past week has been one roller-coaster weather-wise, with near 60 degree days, a fast snowmelt followed by a couple inches of rain, flooding, then a huge temperature drop with freezing rain and around 10 inches of snow!  Definitely days to stay indoors by a warm sewing machine with a hot latte for this gal!  So, what have I accomplished while all the mayhem was going on outdoors?

Last fall my blogging friend Janet gifted our quilt ministry with a big box of scraps from a friend of hers who was destashing.  Included in the box were many small pieces, some fat quarters, and a few larger pieces ranging up to a yard in size.  Many, many small country and reproduction prints, some nearly vintage, in a variety of darker colors with a few lights/brights thrown in.  Perfect for a couple large scrappy quilt tops I thought. 

One of our ministry projects is the donation of several quilts to a nearby church camp supported by several local churches.  The auction is held Labor Day weekend, a busy time, right in the midst of canning season, so starting this year's big quilt now seemed like a good idea.  And that box of fabrics has been beckoning me to come and play for a couple months now!  Next came finding a suitable scrappy pattern to do those fabrics justice.  Searching through several magazines I spotted this photo.  I love the scrappiness of the larger quilt shown here!
photo from Quilt Sampler, Fall-Winter 2011

The featured quilt in the above photo is called Second Hand Clothes by Bonnie Blue Quilts. Studying it a bit more closely I discovered that it is essentially the same design as the antique quilt featured on the cover of this Barbara Brackman book, that was the inspiration for my camp auction donation quilt made last summer.

So interesting to compare the two, how varying the scale of the blocks, controlling the scrappiness, and a use of a constant background block in the antique version produced two very different looks. 

So, I'm going to make the same quilt as last year for the auction, and drafted a smaller size block to better fit the size of the donated fabric scraps.  This is such a fun and easy quilt to make, and since I'm up to my ears in HST's for two other ongoing projects at the moment, simple squares and rectangles look mighty enticing at the moment!  After several days of cutting up those scraps, I have enough pieces for two queen size tops all bagged up and ready to stitch.  I had to raid my stash for a few pieces to round out the light fabrics needed, but all of the mid and dark tones and some of the lights are from that lovely donated box.  And guess what? After all that cutting, that box is STILL nearly full!  The gift that keeps on giving - gotta love that!

And, this morning I finally had a chance to sit down and stitch a few of the puss in the corner blocks, and threw them up on the design wall to get an idea of how this is going to look. 
Yes!  This is going to be great fun!  The plan is to stitch a few blocks every day, between working on other projects, and hopefully have the top ready for quilting in a month ... or two ...   I'll wait until all the blocks are laid out before deciding on a color range for the setting triangles.

I've also had some evenings in the last couple weeks to dig out this project and make a few more of the little baskets.  They really are fun to hand stitch, well maybe except for that bit of reverse applique on the ones with the cut-out.  Hopefully I can keep a bit of momentum going on this project that had sat untouched since last January. 

And that's it from my little corner of the world. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

First Friday, First Finish

I finished up the fire victims' quilt late this afternoon, a great way to end the first week of the year! Here it is all washed and fluffed, and laid on the guest bed to finish drying.

For a quick quilt I'm happy with the way this one turned out, a mix of ditch and undulating stitch machine quilting, and the binding was attached by machine.  Hopefully it will be durable enough for the inevitable laundromat visits as these folks are in temporary housing for the time being.

A closer look, showing a bit of the quilting and back

Trying to spend some of each evening this week getting back into hand quilting again, plus a bit of needleturn applique.  Taking everything moderately as it seems the carpal tunnel issue is moving in with a vengeance.  I'm hoping as these bone-chilling days begin to moderate a bit that the wrist will also feel a little better.   Not looking forward to an enforced hiatus from my sanity time each day!

I hope you all are keeping warm and safe from the storms.  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year-end Wrapup 17 in 2017 or The Year of Distractions

Well, I only loosely followed along with the crowd doing the 17 in 2017 challenge, never really posting much about that scribbly little list I'd made. Looking back I think that was because it just didn't seem like much progress was being made on that list.  But early in the year it became apparent that 2017 was to be the year of distractions opportunity quilts - those made as a member of our little quilt ministry.  Now, the stats for that list are w-a-a-a-y more impressive! And, in these few days after Christmas I found myself once again working on a new opportunity quilt rather than getting back to one of the original 17 in 2017 projects!

So, a month or so ago I posted a partial mock-up of a bunch of scrappy HST's I'd been stitching at the quilting group, in an effort to encourage others to begin using up the mountains of scrappy pieces we have stored there. Originally planned to be another nursing home quilt, but a couple days before Christmas a family of 6 in a neighboring town lost their home and all their possessions in a fire.  Time to push this project in another direction. So, here's where we are tonight, scrappy HST's sewn together, borders added, backing fabric found in the stash, and now all layered and pinned, ready for a quick machine quilting and binding next week so we can get it delivered to the family asap.

The top:

and the back, I love this sweet pale green with all the bubbles.

So, where does that leave 17 in 2017?  I had 17 projects listed, seven are now finished, another 5 were inched forward, and absolutely nothing done on the remaining 5.   As for the reverse side of the list, the Opportunities definitely won out, with 9 projects listed, 8 of those are finished and the last one you've just seen in it's 'ready for quilting' state.

Still mulling over whether to join in the 2018 challenge, which actually sounds like it "could" be a bit easier, with six UFO's and six new projects.  What this year taught me is to never underestimate the power of the distraction to completely take over your carefully planned pursuits!  I think the biggest disappointment was not finishing even one hand quilted project, of which there are three ongoing, all either queen or king size.  Finishing at least one in 2018 will be one of my major goals for the year!

If you care to look, all of this year's finishes can be viewed under the "2015 and Later" tab at the top of the blog.

May your new year bring you good health, good friends, and an abundance of good quilting time!

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Last Holiday Finishes

Late last week I finished hand stitching the binding on the last of this year's hexie table toppers, most of which are slated as Christmas gifts.  They are all wrapped now, some already gifted, and one smaller one I'm planning on keeping, at least through this next weekend.  Unless another gift-giving opportunity pops up at the last minute that is!

Sad to say, there was no time to even dig the Christmas fabric bin out of the depths of the closet, so these were all made from scraps and stash that were more readily available when the initial inspiration struck.  Without further ado, the finishes:

I don't think the second finish was shared earlier, this one went to my daughter as a little housewarming gift:

Most of the latest batch:

And the last one ... of course I needed help keeping this one grounded!

And now, my Christmas wish for each of you is for a joyous holiday season and may the new year bring you much happiness, health, and peace in your heart, and of course an abundance of quilty fun!