Monday, June 24, 2024

Busy Week - Some New Tops Completed

This past week has been extraordinarily busy with miscellaneous appointments and other obligations, but I did manage to wrangle a few quilts to the finished top stage.

First up, a quilt I'm calling Oriental Brambles (not BB-1 or 2) because the floral branches in the center just look brambly to me!

You may recall a couple months ago I showed the feature fabric, a decorator fabric of undetermined age found in a bin of miscellaneous fabrics in our quilt ministry stash.  No selvedges, so no identification, it had been cut into on all sides, but I loved the print and the possibilities, so it came home with me and straight into the washing machine on delicate setting to see if it would behave in a quilt.  It did, no shrinkage and no color bleeding, so it was a 'go.'  My inspiration for this medallion quilt was a quilt by Gwen Marston that she actually made twice with her same feature fabrics (decorator and chintz) and different border fabrics.  The earliest one I found appeared in her book with Joe Cunningham Quilting with Style, page 148, made in 1981. Her later version made in 2003appeared in the book Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again, page 22.  Some fabrics just age so well that we love coming back to them again and again!  

A lot of practice making flying geese.  By the time I got to the final border, I had absolutely no fabric in my stash large enough to create a lovely wide border in a colorway that would blend in nicely with the center of the quilt.  The dark blue piano key border seemed like the only viable solution since there were only bits and pieces of 8 or 10 dark blues, all less than a fat quarter.  Now, if I can get the quilting finished by the end of August this will be donated to the local camp benefit auction over Labor Day weekend.  And my sweet hubby loves this top (dark blues!) and wants to buy it back from the auction!  We'll see how that goes.  

So now I find myself in the middle of making two baby quilts and a "big brother" quilt for a 3-year old.  The first is this panel I bought years ago (around 2009 as I recall) and never had the opportunity to use it until now.  By the time my grandson had a little brother he was too old for a panel like this!

The quilt top is nowhere near as somber as it appears in this next photo.  The border prints are quite bright and cheerful.  I had in mind to add applique letters spelling out big brother's name on the back (not yet made) but now I'm considering adding them across the bottom of the front.  We'll see when I get the pieces cut out.  

Little brother's baby quilt top was completed a day ago, and the back finished up last night. No photos of the back as everything is packed up to go to the church for layering and pinning Wednesday morning.

Colors are a bit off in this first photo.  A bit better in the next two.

As soon as these are finished and in the mail (by the end of July?!) I'll be starting yet another baby quilt, the next one for a church family. Thankfully, I'll have until the end of September to get that one finished!

That's a wrap for tonight!  Hope you are all recovering from last week's sweltering heat dome!  The lower temps and humidity were most welcome this morning for sure!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

June Blooms and Bramble II

 A couple weeks ago Audrey at Quilty Folk posted the first prompt for the second quilt in our Bramble Blooms QAL series.  She suggested the center of the medallion be created of pieced blocks, perhaps echoing the quarter triangle blocks in the first border of BB-I.  

I've had a copy of Sujata Shah's Cultural Fusion Quilts for several years but had never attempted any of her patterns.  It seemed like it would be easy enough to create those Crossroads blocks, but proved otherwise for me.  Especially the cutting - good thing you can't see the jagged edges on the backs of my first (and only) attempt.  Silly me, cutting my first four blocks from good fabrics instead of really old and undesirably ugly scraps!  Though after ripping apart the first block 3 times, I finally figured out that pinning the seams every half inch or so made a "fairly" presentable block.  They don't lie particularly flat, but hoping the excess bias can be quilted out eventually.

When I pulled fabric for this quilt series, I had a "focus fabric" which finally has been used in this quilt center.  It is the light floral triangles in the bottom right block.  I also rather like the funky polkadot fabric, and used up  nearly all of the small piece I had in these blocks.  The blocks were made from 9-1/2 inch squares and they finished at 7-1/2 inches.  

My plan is to use some pastel sashing around the blocks, though likely not the one shown here as it seems a bit too pale.  I'll probably wait until we receive the second prompt before finalizing that decision.  

OK then.  This past week the flower beds have been gorgeous with peonies and our first purple poppy of the season, and a glorious one it is!

This bumblebee appeared to be sound asleep!

Sammy Cat generally runs off when I attempt to photograph him, but the possibility of a rubdown on the back walk was just too tempting.

All stretched out (show-off!)

Happy summer weekend to all!

Friday, May 31, 2024

One May Finish

 Sneaking in at the last hour for a May finish!  This one is for the local camp benefit auction at the end of summer - my scrappy sawtooth stars quilt.  About seven months from start to finish, mostly pieced during our quilt ministry meetings, using scraps from the ministry and my own piles of scraps. 

 No pattern, just 6-1/2 inch stars and pistachio & chocolate alternate blocks.  

Machine quilted on the Janome - simple stitch in the ditch around each block and then diagonal X through each block.  A bit of free motion stencil quilting in the outer border to finish.  The quilt measures about 75 inches square.  

We've had a lot of rain this week along with a few sunny warm days.  Thankfully the peonies have yet to fully open, but all our early spring flowers have been spectacular, especially these irises.  This is the first time we've had blooms since transplanting them into the little flower bed alongside the garage a couple years ago.

Hard to believe we had frost warnings last night, so had to haul all the hanging baskets, tomato starts, geraniums, etc. into the garage for safekeeping.  Fingers crossed that will be the last such warning until October!  Got my flat of marigolds into the garden today, hopefully tomorrow I can get at least some of the tomatoes in as well.

In my spare minutes, I've been thinking about BB-2 and rummaging through the bin where all the early fabric pull was dumped, along with a bunch of additional bits and pieces that have come my way since early spring.  

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Bramble Blooms I - second border and linking to the QAL

Update to original April 17 post, and linking with Audrey at Quilty Folk.

The second border prompt from Audrey for Bramble Blooms I was a difficult one for me to wrap my little brain around!  Probably because my first border using the yukata fabric lent a more formal look to the quilt, and the idea of 4, 9 or 16 patch squares as a second border didn't fit what I'd imagined at all.  So, between bouts of dithering about that, I got busy and added a few extra touches to the center, that always felt a bit empty to me.  Birds sounded appealing, so a bluebird magically appeared.  A little extra leaf was also tacked onto the edge of the flower pot/basket.

And, because my husband loves doves, we needed one of those as well, along with a branch to perch upon.

Then we messed around with some uneven 9-patch blocks.  
Definitely not!

On point?
Not feeling the love here either!


Big fat fail!  

The gray yukata has given this quilt a moody vibe, much like our typical April weather - overcast, rainy and otherwise gray and dreary.  It really needed something to lighten the mood just a little but the nine-patch blocks were not going to make that happen in a way that was pleasing to me.  So, back to the drawing board.  Maybe just a few nine-patch blocks in the corners?

Then, from one of the "chunk" bins I found a long strip of this tone-on-tone fabric that had been the back of my Quilty 365 quilt!  Blending very nicely with the print appliques from the first border.  

Ahh, yes!  This is more like it!  Does it even matter that the golden fabric is poinsettias??  So, below is the final rendition of border number 2.  And yes, I did eventually stitch down that little leaf at the right edge of the flower pot to finish it off.  

There may or may not be at least one more wider border added since the quilt right now is less than 48x48 inches.  Too large for a wall hanging in the currently available spaces, and too small for a useable throw quilt.  But for now, there are several other projects I need to get busy on, especially the quilts I need to finish for the quilt auction at the end of summer.

The other possibility is giving one of the quilts hanging in my sewing room for the past ten years a long sabbatical and finishing off BB1 just as it is now.  That idea is growing on me!  Still, it will be awhile before a finished quilt happens.  Life, you know!

I'll leave you with a little sneak peek at the next one in the pipeline.  First two rounds of borders stitched during our quilt ministry meeting a couple weeks ago.  Next border is underway and nearly finished.  More photos soon.

Looking forward to seeing what Audrey has in store for us with Bramble Blooms II!  

Friday, April 5, 2024

Two Friday Finishes

 I don't think I've ever posted a first finish for the year this late, but life just moves slower the older we are. Anyway, earlier this week I finished this little doll quilt made of leftover sashing pieces from a camp donation quilt a few years ago.

The backing came from a donated piece of fabric that was once the beginning of a shirt for a young child, and the binding from the ministry bins.  My friendly giraffe will accompany the quilt to its new home on Sunday, when it is given to a little girl in our congregation.  

And, finally, finally, the Circus Animal baby/toddler quilt is a finish!  

My file indicates that this was started in 2021.  I chose to hand quilt this one, such happy blocks how could I resist.  Unfortunately I chose to use up an older (no label) piece of cotton batting that turned out to be a bear to needle.  Had to work on it in short stints, with several other larger quilts being finished up in the meantime.  By the time the last block was quilted, there was no way I wanted to continue hand quilting all the sashings, so earlier this week the Janome came to the rescue with serpentine stitches and last night the binding was completed.  Still, I'm so happy to have put in the effort to hand quilt the blocks since this is such a bright, cheerful quilt.

It may be a bit easier to see the quilting from the back.

This quilt will be saved in the blanket chest for a future great-grandchild, and I hope to have a couple more added to the pile before they are needed a few years from now.  

In the meantime I'll be concentrating on finishing up Bramble Blooms 1 before Audrey posts the starting prompt for the second quilt in the series.   Meaning, of course, I'll need to figure out and actually make the blocks for the second border before the end of the month.

We are still having snow showers every half hour or so, and hoping the skies clear for the eclipse.  We'll be staying home for the event, figuring it wouldn't be worth facing all the traffic to get to a place of totality.  Where we are located it should be about 99 percent - good enough for me!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Scrappy Sawtooth Stars

 It's been awhile since I've posted, but finally I have a finished top to show you.  Sawtooth stars, lots of them, with simple alternate blocks in a rather odd green that is impossible to render accurately in a photo, sigh.

Lots of scrap bins were raided with bits and pieces used up in making the 66 star blocks.  This quilt will be donated to the annual camp benefit auction over Labor Day weekend.  

My helper was there every bit of the way, especially when all the pieces were laid out on the floor.  Here he is overseeing the photographing effort.

And now I'm looking forward to getting back to Bramble Blooms, and a couple other projects.  
Hope to post again soon, the past couple weeks have been a blur, and expecting that to continue until mid-April, at least!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend and warm sunny skies for Easter!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Bramble Blooms First Border and other projects

 This past weekend I finally bit the bullet and sewed up the first set of borders for my version of Bramble Blooms I.  

I decided to go with my original idea and make all four border panels from the same stylized yukata fabric, adding half-circle applique accents in areas of plain background along the inside edges.  You might be aware that floral yukata fabrics often reverse direction of the design every so often, which facilitates the creation of kimonos with both front and back being right-side-up without the necessity of cutting and creating shoulder seams.  This reversal happened in the top border you see above.  

I'm quite happy with the way this border turned out, but am still not totally happy with my center panel.  It seems like it needs "something" but I don't know what.  Perhaps a bird or a butterfly?  Appliqued or embroidered, or quilted?  I'm open to any and all suggestions!

Aside from this project, I spent the majority of January cleaning up the "scrap corner" of the sewing room.  All the random piles are now neatly housed in smallish bins of several size squares, narrow strips, "wide" strips generally over 2-1/2 inches, long lengths of binding, and a big bin called "chunks." That's pieces larger than 6-1/2 inches but less than a fat quarter.  The amazing thing is that I've actually consulted several of those neatly stacked bins when searching for a particular size square, where the piles were totally ignored when they just sat jumbled in the corner.  

Remember this quilt top?  I've been ever-so-slowly hand quilting it off and on in the evenings.  

It should have been done long ago but a piece of rogue batting got used for this one, and it's a bugger to needle.  I'm hoping to finish hand quilting the last three panels in the next couple weeks, and then machine quilt all the sashings/borders and be done with it.

The historic panel quilt is partially quilted now, awaiting the day when the table around the Janome is cleared so that project can proceed.  The panel itself is now hand quilted, but the borders are being machine quilted.  Soon I hope.

And, just because distractions/squirrels always seem to find me, a friend at our quilting ministry was cleaning up several bins in our storage area last week and came out with these pieces - could I resist - not a chance!

The large piece is a home dec fabric of unknown age. It has been cut into on all sides, but enough is intact that a good size central medallion piece can be cut from it.  First though, a wash on the delicate cycle since I have no idea whether it will wash well.  The last piece of home dec fabric that I used in a quilt border washed well with no shrinkage and had a similar hand, so I'm hoping this one will too.  

Well, this is enough for one post.  We're expecting a snowstorm mid-week after several days of mid-50s this past week.  A very strange winter for sure.  

Til next time, happy quilting!