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!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Bramble Blooms 1 - next steps

 It's a foggy, rainy afternoon and the internet is barely moving along.  HughesNet and rainy/snowy weather do NOT get along at all - 'nuf said ...

Anyhow, when I last posted, the center of my Bramble Blooms I was still in process of being stitched down.  When Audrey posted her guidance for the first set of borders, I was having a little fun playing with some sawtooth stars meant for a camp donation quilt for the 2024 auction.

Cheerful, yes?  Though clearly not what Audrey had in mind.  More applique, possibly a coping border and then a wider border with repeated applique was what she suggested.  I had been thinking about half circle appliques surrounding the coping border, so I set about looking for some possibilities.  

After having used a piece of Japanese yukata fabric for the flower pot in the center, that bin of fabrics was consulted again while completely ignoring my set of fabrics initially chosen for this series.  Improv????   I ended up choosing another treasured piece of yukata of which I have 4 yards (yukata fabrics are typically only 14 inches wide, so not as much fabric as you might have thought).  

A bit on the dark side, but I love the subtle colors and the repeating tulip theme.  Below you can see the tulips emerging and also my half-circle cracker box template pinned in place.   Coping border was chosen from my bin of bits and pieces set aside for the sawtooth stars quilt, but that bit of deep brownish red seems to tie the center tulips with the brownish tulip leaves in the outer border. 

Surrounding the outer edge of the coping border completely with half circles was clearly not going to work well since I didn't want them covering that flowing tulip motif.  

Right now I'm thinking intermittent half circle appliques will solve that issue.   The next thing I'll need to consider is whether to continue these fabrics around the entire border or ?  I like the idea of the undulating tulips all the way around, and hoping it won't be "overkill" if I proceed in that direction.
And no, there won't be a right-hand border of that red fabric on the right (below), it's just pinned up on the design wall so it doesn't wander away while I'm concentrating on other ongoing projects...

Last, but not least, I'm leaning toward using the green fabric shown below for the cornerstones fabric.  A lot to do before Audrey's next set of border suggestions are published!

Til next time, I hope you're having as much fun with whatever you're stitching at the moment.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Bramble Blooms I - some progress to date

While some have already completed their center applique, there always has to be someone bringing up the rear, right?  Slow but steady is my mantra for this quilt - any current project for that matter!  Improv and applique are so out of my comfort zone, yet this project and following along with Audrey's thought process as she builds her quilts is so inspiring that I couldn't resist joining in.

So, several ideas came to mind for the center applique.  First, it was sunflowers.  I got as far as sketching out a pattern and inking it onto some mylar template material, then sanity prevailed as I figured out how many individual petals would be needed to complete one flower, much less two or three as I'd planned. Saved for BB-2 or BB-3 perhaps?

Tulips looked easier for this relatively simple center, so I thought.  Stems cut and pinned, then narrowed down.  First paper tulip tryouts added.

Tried adding fabric - um, no.

At this point several things were bothering me.  First, the random (boring) placement of stems, with nothing to anchor them.  I really wanted something more cohesive, what about a vase or flower pot?
The blue funky flowers also had to go.  After rummaging through a lot of fabric pieces, I remembered the small bin of Japanese yukata fabrics I'd been collecting a few years back.  Thinking in terms of a geometric design for the flower pot, I found this fabric and folded into shape and put it up on the design wall, added some leaves - yes! 

After moving things a bit -

Then this

I think this is pretty much the final design, a bit more trimming, and the vase will be a bit shorter as the bottom edge still needs turning under and basting.   Some of the leaves need to be tweaked a bit as well.  Hoping to get the major elements marked in place and get everything off the design wall and ready for final stitching over the weekend.  

It has been a busy but satisfying week.  The laser procedure for my eye was on Monday, and was a total success beyond my wildest imagination.  I can see colors again and everything is crystal clear with sharp edges. I don't need to turn on every light in a room in order to see.   I even threaded a needle without the help of the little threader I'd been using!  The doctor, after looking at all the tests, decided that both eyes would benefit from the laser and so he went ahead.  The entire procedure for both eyes took less than ten minutes, and the result was immediate!  Prayers answered!

We had our first snow this week, now rain is predicted for the next several days.  We did enjoy several clear nights during this full moon, I always love seeing the sky by moonlight, especially with sparkling snow on the ground.  

Til next time, may peace and joy surround you this holiday season!

Friday, November 24, 2023

Vintage Spin is a November Finish

 Earlier this week I finally put the finishing stitches in my version of Kathy Doughty's Vintage Spin (from her book Adding Layers).

I've been waiting for a less dreary rainy day to grab a few photographs, but yesterday finally gave up on that idea and just went for it.  Wet grass, winds gusting to near 35 mph and 40 degree temps and all.  But this morning it's only 32 degrees, and still mostly cloudy so maybe Thanksgiving was the better day after all. 

I hand quilted this one with a light lavender 12 weight Aurifil thread, first outlining each of the black circles and then along the edges of all the light colored wedges.  After taking off the hoop the circles puffed out a lot more than they should have, especially on the back, so after putting the binding on I went back and quilted smaller quarter coin size circles in the middle of each black one, effectively turning them into donut holes as you can see from these photos of the back.

The batting is heirloom wool, which I love for hand quilting and for the softness and light weight of the finished quilt.  This time I had to piece every square of leftover pieces to have (barely) enough to cover the backing.  

The outdoor photos were taken before washing the quilt.  Here it is after the delicate cold wash cycle, and a spin through the dryer on a low setting.  It was still slightly damp from the dryer so it is now resting on the guest bed to finish drying.  After quilting and washing it now measures 76 x 62.5 inches. 

To be honest, when I finished putting the top together I wasn't particularly fond of this quilt, but now after seeing it all soft and puffy in all its finished glory, I've fallen in love with it.  This one may just become our favorite knock-about quilt, and the grands will love snuggling under it on the couch when they visit again.  

I'll try to post an update on my progress with Bramble Blooms I sometime next week.  In the meantime, enjoy all those Thanksgiving leftovers - I know we will!  

Monday, October 30, 2023

Bramble Blooms QAL - Possibilities

Who can resist a quilt-along hosted by and with tutorials from Audrey of Quiltyfolk?!  Especially one that promises a work at your own pace, with a variety of techniques and with fabrics already in your stash, those oldies you've been wondering whatever am I going to do with that fabric once loved and purchased but now seriously outdated.  I think some of us older well seasoned quilters have grown a bit tired of CW repro quilts and would love to dive into the world of color and improv quilting but lack the courage/knowledge of where to begin.  

I'm wondering to myself 'Can I do this?'   Well, I'm sure going to try!   Here's a link to Audrey's introductory post with our first steps toward Bramble Blooms I.  

First, the fabric pull.  A couple days ago I pulled a little tote filled with fat quarter +/- fabrics that was easily accessible and dumped them out.  I chose that multicolor floral fabric as my focus or starting point and began adding from there.

After a bit the pile had grown to this

I was pretty happy with this little pile, but realize it's heavy on the yellows and greens and a bit light on red/pinks, and have since added a couple more FQ size pieces.  I'm sure other bins will be raided as time goes by and I have an idea of where the quilt is heading.  I'm planning to do fabric pulls for the next quilts in the series once a suitable container is found to keep them, everything in here is already holding stash or scraps, or fabric pulls of other 'someday' projects.

I stitched the center panel this morning.

We had several glorious days last week, though it has now turned cold, rainy, and gray.  We were able to capture a few great photos of the ancient shagbark hickory tree before it lost its leaves.  Perhaps that's what contributed to the abundance of yellow/gold fabrics in this first fabric pull!  

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

An October Finish Anticipating the Holiday Season

This year's Christmas/holiday quilt is finally finished! I had a chance to take a few outdoor photos on the last warm and sunny day we had last week.

The leaves have been falling steadily for the past couple weeks.  This year's fall colors are somewhat muted and many trees are just dropping dry brown leaves, not having turned their usual bright display. Most likely due to our dry summer and the fact that we haven't had a cold snap with frosty nights yet. I haven't bothered to take my usual seasonal photos as a result.

The backing for this quilt is a very subtle cream print, a wide back from a few years ago.  I ditch quilted every single seam on the Janome and then hand quilted a cross-hatch in each block.  With the wool batting, the quilt is very lightweight and a bit puffy and soft.  The finished size is about 68x76 inches. And I should mention here that my inspiration for this quilt came from Gigi's Thimble blog here.
That plus a bin of some older French General and similar fabrics that had been calling my name for several years.

Next up in the hoop is my Vintage Spin top, the first block already quilted. Just a simple outline around the circles and next to the ditch in the light colored wedges.  If I can complete one block every 3 days this might just be another finish for the year.  Not promising anything at this point, but having fun with it so far.

Til next time, cherish each day and the blessings within. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Inching toward a Finish

Like the proverbial snail, slowly, ever so slowly, I'm moving toward a true-blue finish!  The last of the Christmas quilts I plan to make is finally all hand quilted, trimmed, and awaiting a binding, perhaps as early as week's end.  This is the top as it looked in late December last year.

In the latest of several glitches trying to get this one across the finish line - there were two potential red fabrics I had chosen as possible bindings.  My most favorite one that I for sure had enough of - just looked like it might be a bleeder, so several weeks ago I washed it in hot water with Synthrapol and predictably it did bleed.  After several more wash/rinse efforts, it appeared to have stopped the bleed, so it was dried and ironed.  Today, just before cutting into it, something told me to hand wash it once again - yep, a bleeder forever it seems.  It probably would be totally fine on a quilt with mostly dark fabrics and no whites, but sadly not for this quilt.  Second choice is an oldie Jinny Beyer fabric, probably 20 years old, a tried-and-true one that I love - but - likely not going to be enough to bind the entire quilt.  So, tonight a quick perusal of other reds to see if anything else in the stash might work.  Probably I'll end up with a pieced binding using two or three fabrics, not going to go out and try to buy anything at this point.

So, an update on the eye issue.  Saw a retina specialist a few days ago.  Turns out the latest issue which is really messing with my sight is fixable with one laser procedure!  In layman's terms it is a "secondary cataract" that developed behind the lens inserted when my cataract surgery was done four years ago. Medical term is posterior capsular opacification.  Interestingly, this is a very common occurrence after cataract surgery, showing up in about 50% of patients!  Who knew?  Fortunately it is very treatable, and the success rate is around 95%.  I feel blessed that there is a possibility that my sight may return to what it was early this year.  Just super impatient, since the first available opening the specialist has is the last week of November!  So, in the meantime, quilting is muddling along with one eye closed most of the time, otherwise I have no clear vision, near or distant.  Driving is limited to the country roads near us that are sparsely traveled, no city driving since I can't read the road signs at this point!

Hopefully, I'll be back with a finish soon.  Happy stitching!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

An improv log cabin top

 I guess it was finally time to take the plunge, away from the tightly controlled piecing, bland color combos, etc., and reach out for something that seems desperately needed right now - cheerful and bright! Fun, and easy!  

I have two  of my favorite quilty bloggers to thank for this latest adventure. First, Audrey at Quilty Folk who is one of the most creative quilters I've ever encountered, and never fails to inspire me.  She had a little giveaway several years ago, a small quilt top she had begun but lost interest in.  After receiving the piece shown below, I stashed it in a small tote adding bits and pieces of fabric I thought might coordinate, and there it sat for several years.

That little bird really wanted to be placed on-point, but as we all know, you can't always get what you want!

Anyhow, a couple months ago Linda at Kokaquilts posted her latest version of the "Daylesford Quilt", a pattern from Jen Kingwell's book Quilt Recipes.  I fell in love with her version and her creative take on the pattern.  And that was the inspiration for finally turning Audrey's start into a quilt top.

The Daylesford Quilt is basically one big log cabin block, round and round, with some rows and partial rows made up of individual quilt blocks rather than one long strip.  So, I have boxes of small quilt blocks left over from other projects, so I brought them out to play along rather than piecing the blocks indicated in the pattern.  

My "plan" was to incorporate a couple themes from Audrey's small quilt including the bird and her primary colors - pink, lime green and a bit of blue, mixing in some of my leftover blocks here and there. I had pieces of several fabrics with birds and so began with those. The next photo shows the first couple rounds. Adding those bits from previous quilts dictates the width of the next round (and sometimes the previous one).

Auditioning the next round:

Trying out a potential outer round that was later nixed.

I was happy with the top at this point, but it was way too small to become anything but a wallhanging, which we don't need. I love that I was able to use several of my leftover Quilty 365 blocks here.

What about this luscious iris print for the outside round/border?  Hemmed and hawed for a couple days over this, though I'd already cut a couple strips from the yardage ...

What if ...
That dark piece had to go.

Checked homespun to fill out the border - just right.  The last two rounds each have just two prints rather than four.  And we have a finished top - about 58x66 inches.

It feels so good to have had some quality stitching time after a summer of very little sewing other than finishing others' quilt tops for the auction.  And this easy-peasy piecing was just what I needed relative to the deterioration of my vision which has gotten much worse during the past couple months.  I ended up attaching a Sewing Edge Reusable Vinyl Stop to the bed of my Singer 201 so that I could guide the fabric through more by touch than sight to keep a consistent quarter inch seam.  We quilters always find a way!  And, I have an appointment with a retina specialist in another week.  Hopefully the current issues can be improved upon or at the very least kept from getting any worse.   

As for this quilt top, I love it!  It will be machine quilted, hopefully before too many months.  And this one is not going anywhere except to the back of my recliner or the couch for cozy warmth this winter.  

Til next time, happy stitching!