Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April - One Monthly Goal

I've come to the conclusion that the overarching goal for all of us this month is to remain virus-free and pray for an end to this world-wide plague.  To that end, I've spent the last few days of March making some face masks for our small local hospital.  At this point there are 21 for the hospital, 2 for my daughter and boyfriend who are still working at their work site, two for my husband, and I'll be making another two for myself later today.  Some of the ones going to the hospital:

I'd planned to have this top completed by the end of March.  That didn't happen with the face mask project, so wrangling some borders onto this will be my April OMG.  Calling this one Sherbet Jumble, it will be a donation quilt, possibly for the camp auction, if we're able to hold one this year.

I think I'm going with this border option:

These fabrics were part of a lovely gift for our quilt ministry from Lynn at Sew'n Wild Oaks after I was the lucky winner of her recent "name this quilt" giveaway of her book on quilter's math. 

Adding this to the One Monthly Goal April linkup on Patty's Elm Street Quilts blog.  Hoping April isn't as interminably long as March was. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

It is Well

This link was shared as part of our on-line service today.  A powerful message for these troubled and uncertain times.

May it be well with you this Sabbath.

 "There will be peace in the valley..."

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Making my March Mini - Supersized

It all started with the leftover piano keys from this finish from a couple months ago.

Not wanting to begin another leftovers box, they seemed like good candidates for a little coin quilt.

Then I looked at our little porch bistro table and thought how cute it would look in mid-summer with a sweet tablecloth topped with a pitcher of sunflowers or zinnias.  A border from a backing fabric cutoff, a scrappy binding of leftover reds to finish perhaps?

And seeing those colors reminded me of a lot of leftover strips from making placemats for our daughters, and how they might look on the back, alternated with this little red/brown check. Always better when the back is as much fun as the front, right?

And so it grew into this

Finishing at, ahem, 39x39 inches. What can I say, I love it!  And even better, there are still enough wider strips of that olive oil/salad fabric and the check to make at least 4 more placemats for us and possibly some napkins.  Win-win-win in my book.  Linking with Wendy at The Constant Quilter as she posts her month-end roundup of mini-quilt makers.

One more gratuitous photo featuring my silent but ever-faithful companion during these photo shoots. So soothing to stroke all that fur.  For both of us.

May you all find peace in your hearts during these troubled times.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Three for the Donation Pile

In this time of sequestering ourselves in our homes, there are two things to do - begin spring housecleaning and quilt.  Oh, let's not kid ourselves, there's really only one thing to do!

This has turned out to be a productive month.  Last night I finished the third of three quilts for our quilt ministry donation stash.  The first two are my One Monthly Goal for March, and I'll be linking this post with Patty at Elm Street Quilts when she posts her end-of-month linky party.

The first is Occasional Stars:
Finishing at around 57x68 inches, I quilted a diagonal grid within the blocks and free-motion quilted a simple stencil design in the borders.  You might be able to see the quilting a bit better in the next photo, along with the back of the quilt.

I've been more than a little hesitant about quilting this one mostly because the homespuns were so finicky as they were being pieced, stretchy, and the seams kept rolling up on themselves rather than staying pressed flat. The diagonal grid was a perfect choice for this one though as it turned out, the fabric seemed to behave better diagonally than it might have by just attempting ditch quilting with the walking foot. So yay for this one!

The second quilt for my OMG is this baby quilt, based on a pattern called Sweet Dreams found in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, Nov-Dec 2005, page 52.  It's actually a smaller version of my original quilt made of the same fabrics from the same pattern back in 2012.

This quilt measured 39x49 inches and was quilted in an overall meander.  Binding is made up of bits and pieces from my leftover binding strips bin.  I love this little quilt as much as the original, and hope some little person will one day love it just as much.

I love that Grandma is also a quilter!

The back:

The third quilt, completed just last night, is another homespun.  The top was donated to our quilt ministry, and I decided to quilt it.  This one shrunk up quite a bit after washing, the top started at 63x63 inches and after washing it now measures 58-1/2 inches square.  The backing is a heavier fabric, donated to the group, definitely not the usual quilting fabric, but it softened up in the wash, and I think this one will make a great camping or tailgate/stadium quilt, or just a really durable quilt for a hunting cabin.  Diagonally quilted through every other square with alternate squares free motion quilted using a wonky star cardboard template.  The first photo taken before the quilt was washed so the markings are still visible.
After washing and drying, it looks like this, sort of.  I could never get a really accurate color rendering as all the photos were either taken at night or in cloudy weather with only the light from the window.  The first photo above is probably most true to the actual colors.  Looking forward to the day when outdoor photos are a possibility again!

A bit of the back, again not true to color as the yellow background is really more of a butterscotch color:

So that's what I've been doing this week, and I'm so happy to have this trio about to go out the door.  How is your week progressing?  This is day 2 of our home stay-cation, not much different from normal life for us retirees living in the boonies.  Hubby has ordered us a take-out fish fry for tomorrow since all the restaurants here are closed for dine-in service.  We'll see how that fares after a 10 minute trip home and a quick warm-up in the oven.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

This Westering Woman has Reached the Final Destination!

And just like that, at around 1:15 a.m. today, the final stitch was put in the binding, and my version of Westering Women is now a finish!

Warning - photo-heavy post follows.  And since it was a gray and muddy day outdoors, all photos were taken inside, and before the quilt had its first bath to remove the quilting markers. 

I am loving the back as much as the front, just wish you could see the true beauty of the two buttery yellow tone on tone fabrics used, though my old camera has not cooperated all that well.  Most of the photos are a bit washed out on the lower right, probably due to the light from the windows.  Flash or no flash, not much difference.

Truly, I think I love the back just as much, or maybe even a bit more than the front.  The quilting shows up so nicely and the loft from the wool batting. And I loved that lone block that turned out too large for the front - just had to include it somewhere!

The Westering Women quilt was a block of the month quiltalong on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog from 2016. Here are the blocks I made during the BOM, in no particular order:

Lastly, a rogue block, when a bit of rebellion against 13 set-in seams occurred.  Dirty snowballs seemed an appropriate substitute to me, since those weary travelers likely encountered muddy snow conditions in the final late autumn mountain passes before reaching their destination in the Yamhill Valley. 

A number of scenarios for my intrepid traveler went through my mind as I stitched the very scrappy blocks.  My Westering Woman began her journey as a single young woman traveling with her sister's family.  She had apprenticed with her aunt, an experienced midwife in the Allegany Mountains of the western New York-Pennsylvania border, and knew she would be able to support herself if necessary once she arrived in Oregon. She met and later married a young man from a neighboring county who also traveled with the wagon train, in charge of driving the second wagon for his brother's large family. Her little bundle of fabric scraps came from dresses of her family and friends back east, each a remembrance of a loved one who she was unlikely to see again in her lifetime.  She stitched her blocks during the first cold winter months in Oregon in the tiny cabin her new husband had hastily built when they arrived, and after they harvested their first crop of wheat he brought home a length of fabric as a gift, enough for her to fashion a new dress and enough extra to border her quilt.
She accepted a lovely wool fleece in payment for delivering a neighbor's baby that next summer, and commenced to quilting her completed top. 

Quilting with wool batting was a dream, so easy compared with cotton, and I love the look of the Baptist fan pattern.  I used Aurifil 12 weight thread, doing what I call a little big stitch.  I wondered what the wool shrinkage would be, and was happily surprised that it was not as much as some of the most recent quilts made using a Pellon cotton batting.  The quilt finished at 80x65 inches before washing, 77-1/2 x 62-1/2 after a cold water wash and 30 minutes of air dry, followed by 15 minutes on the delicate setting in the dryer.  It's finishing drying on the guest bed and I'm planning to sleep under it tonight.  

This was my second oldest UFO.  Now to finish the quilting on what seems to have become my personal albatross quilt - my king-size Quilty 365.   Maybe if I persevere, by the end of this year?  Time will tell, but I'd love to see that one in the finished column soon!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

One Monthly Goal for March

It's March already, and time for setting some goals for the month!  Over the past couple months I pieced a couple smaller quilts for our quilt ministry.  We got them layered and pinned at our meeting a couple weeks ago, and my One Monthly Goal is to complete the machine quilting on these two quilts, and get them out the door. 

This first one I'm calling Occasional Stars, made from donated scraps of homespuns given to the ministry group.  The top measures 57x68 inches.  It will be backed with a large homespun plaid.  I'm not fond of machine quilting homespuns because of their stretchiness, but will probably just give this one an overall meander of some sort.

The second quilt is called Little Bear's Day, measuring 39x49 inches.  It's a slightly smaller version made from the leftovers of a quilt I made back in 2012, now living with my three-year-old grandson.  Sorry for the out-of-focus photo. 

Linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts for her One Monthly Goal Setting for March

Happy sewing!

Monday, February 17, 2020

String-along's "Sing the Blues" is a Finished Top - At Last!

"Sing the Blues Mama Lou" was the first quilt top I began when Lori at Humble Quilts announced her 2019 String-along Challenge. Pursued diligently for a few months, then abandoned mid-summer to work on a couple other more easily completed string tops plus several donation quilts for our ministry.

I finally got back to Sing the Blues toward the end of January. After several long days of slogging through the string piecing and trimming of the last 108 quarter blog segments, there were a couple more days of piecing the blocks and rows.  That was completed last Friday evening, at which time it looked like this.

Taken at night with incandescent lighting

That looked a little too unfinished to my eyes with the half and quarter blocks at the edges, so on Saturday morning the remaining longish strips of solid whites in the stash were pieced together to make a 4 inch border and I'm thinking this helps finish off the top.  What do you think?

Mid-afternoon with the sunlight streaming in

I had originally thought I might use about a 2 inch white border, followed by a 1 inch border of pieced blue scraps, and another wider white border, but there wasn't enough white solid fabric left and the top as it is now measures 87 by 76-1/2 inches.  I wasn't about to order any more white solid, because, to tell the truth, I really don't like working with white solids which I know are every modern quilter's fabric stash staple!  Personal quirk, I guess.

Anyhow, after fussing with all the bias seams on all those strippy spider web blocks, an amazing thing happened when the final borders were sewn on.  You won't be able to tell from my wonky photos, but this top, for the first time in my entire quilting life, measures exactly the same at each parallel edge!  Exactly 87 inches long on both sides, and exactly 76-1/2 inches wide, both sides! No 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 inch difference from one edge to the other.  How on earth, with all those bias seams??  Never fear, it won't go to my head, 'cause it'll never happen again!

I'm really, really happy with this quilt, all those little bits of blue fabrics from quilts made over many years, plus gifted scraps from some lovely quilters near and far.  A few of my favorite spider webs:

I'm planning to use big-stitch hand quilting to finish this top, so planning to order a wide back, most likely in a medium blue print, if I find one I like.  There's enough piecing on the front that I don't want to add more seams on the back.  Still need to decide whether to use my staple Hobbs 80-20 or wool for the batting.  I'll need to finish Westering Women and give it a first wash to assess shrinkage of the wool before ordering.  WW should be finished in the next week or two, at least that's the plan at the moment.

Completing the Sing the Blues top was my One Monthly Goal for February so I'll be linking this post with Patty at Elm Street Quilts at the end of the month when she posts her linky party.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

My Mini Valentine

For a number of years we haven't really done anything special for Valentine's Day.  I used to bake a decadent chocolate cake with raspberry liqueur filling, and a chocolate-whipped cream-raspberry frosting.  That was before it was just the two of us to eat the entire cake, while both struggling to maintain a healthy weight.  But earlier this week while shopping at our favorite supermarket 25 miles from home, we spotted a display of sweet mini orchids and that was that.  We also hadn't splurged on flowers in the midst of the cold winter months for quite a long time, but this little plant simply said 'take me home and let me be your valentine.'
Two stems, one plant, a perfect metaphor for our lives together.  Two independent people, different,  joined together into one.

I don't have a red and white heart quilt to display, but I'll show you my February mini quilt, finished just in time for tomorrow's holiday (there's never a time when red and white Christmasy fabrics are truly out of season is there, lol).

This little quilt used up 144 additional HST cutoffs from the star blocks in my Christmas quilt of last fall.  That leaves somewhere around 80 more to empty their blue swiffer refill box, but I think they will just percolate for a few months while I think about what to do with them.  This little table topper measures 22-1/2 inches square.  It was ditch quilted in a square pattern around rows of triangles in the above view, though the quilting is difficult to discern from any of my photos.  The quilted texture may show a little better in the next close-up.

I'll link this post with Wendy at The Constant Quilter when she posts her monthly mini roundup.  In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy a very happy Valentine's Day, and maybe even a little slice of decadent chocolate cake!