Friday, January 10, 2020

First Top of 2020

By day three of the new year my plans for January were flipped upside down, and resulted in stitching up this top for a comfort quilt.  I didn't mind the change of plans too much, because the quilt will be for a good friend who is recovering from her most recent heart incident.  She is just a couple months shy of 86 years young, so it's about time she had a warm colorful quilt to wrap up in. 

Here's the completed top.  My friend loves birds and so the panel and cornerstones will please her.
A little more about my friend.  She and her husband live off-the-grid at the top of a mountain about 15 or so miles from us.  Their power comes from a combination of solar panels and a small windmill, their heat is natural gas piped through the woods in some sort of suspended plastic pipe from a neighboring gas well about 1/4 mile away.  There are many old gas wells in this area, long ago abandoned by the industry because of low production, but useful for a number of our friends who live in the mountains.   Being on the mountain top they have no well, and depend on a cistern to capture rain and snow for their water supply.  Access to their lovely home is via a long-abandoned logging road, full of hairpin turns and sharp drop-offs along the side.  There are periods of time (prolonged rain or when conditions are icy as they are today) when they are literally stranded on their mountain-top.  They were fortunate that when her latest heart episode occurred they were able to travel into town to our local hospital for transport to the city hospital nearly 100 miles away where she had a pacemaker implanted.  She is now making a great recovery, an amazing woman of unwavering faith who regularly shares her testimonies with others in our church family. 

The backing has been pieced, and I'll plan to layer and pin the quilt at our ministry meeting next week, and hopefully complete the machine quilting and binding in a week or two.   Finished top measures 51x70 inches, a nice size for a throw quilt for her chair or sofa. 

A closer look.  Many scraps from both quilt ministry and my stash were used for the piano key border.  I think there are 24 or 25 different fabrics used. 

Linking with Wendy's Peacock Party here.   And wishing you all a happy quilting weekend!

Friday, January 3, 2020

One Monthly Goal - January Link-up

Here we are at day three of the new decade and my quilting plans for the next week are already derailed, but in a good way.  A quick comfort quilt is in the works for a  friend who is making a good recovery from recent surgery.  I'll post more about that when there is something substantial to show.

Meanwhile, I'm planning to participate in  Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal again this year.  It's such a great motivator and Patty does a fabulous job coordinating everything each month.  Kudos to her!!

For January, I'm hoping to complete the hand quilting of the remaining blocks of my Westering Women quilt, and to at least begin quilting the edges of the borders.  I think there's a good chance of achieving this as it is big stitch quilting.  I'm really looking forward to completing this quilt soon as it's the first time I've used wool batting and it would be nice to give it a good test run before spring!

A couple photos of yesterday's progress.  This first one is under the daylight lamp I use while hand quilting in the evening.

The colors are a little more true, only slightly darker than actual, in the ambient room lighting of this second photo.

You can check out everyone's January goals here.   Thanks for coordinating the One Monthly Goal again this year Patty!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Thoughts on a New Year and a New Decade

Jenny of Elefantz recently posted a scripture that deeply resonated with me, causing me to reflect on this, the beginning of a 9th decade that I've been on this earth (though my first decade was only four years in length).  So many quilters choose a word to reflect their aspirations for the new year.  Where better to find a word than from The Word.

"The righteous flourish ...
planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green."
Psalm 92:12-14 

And there it is - flourish.  Even with advancing years, fading vision and stiffening joints, we can still bear fruit.  Through our words, our actions, and our faith, we can continue to live abundantly and to bless others with the work of our hands.  And though our stitching may at times stray from perfectly even and straight, our seams occasionally a bit wobbly, we can still bear fruit through the quilts we make and give, that can bring comfort and warmth to a friend or stranger who needs to feel a bit of love during a time of loss, illness or distress.   

So this year my hope is to want less and give more, to focus on what is real and true and not the chaos that surrounds us, to appreciate the little things that make a life - to flourish

And, because this is a quilting blog and quilting blogs need photos, here's a sneak peek at what's been happening in my very messy sewing room today - and, no, I'm not planning to spend a week organizing - gave up those kind of resolutions years ago -it's futile anyway!

Looking a bit Christmasy you say?  Hmm.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and joyful New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Last of the Christmas Makes and a December Mini

Christmas came almost faster than my stitching could keep up,  and these last two little projects were each finished the evening before being gifted - just in time! 

A set of potholders for my daughter-in-law, whose favorite color is green.

And for the second, you'll just have to use your imagination as I apparently neglected to get a photo of the finished set.  They started out as these two prototype arrowhead blocks from a few months back. The finished potholders have a coordinating green fabric border and binding.  For one of my step-daughters who also happens to love green.

You might say that all my December projects are minis, but here's the real thing, for Wendy's (The Constant Quilter) monthly mini challenge -- gifted on Christmas Day to my son. 

This was the best photo I was able to obtain of the finished quilt.  The hand quilting just did not show up very well in any of the photos, but mostly consisted of outlining the major elements in each fabric slab, and echoing the butterflies and pine tree sashiko in the indigo borders.  I didn't want to risk stretching the bias edges on the triangular pieces so this was quilted without use of a hoop, more difficult than I thought it would be, but the quilt hangs fairly straight and he loved it, and that's what counts. 

And that brings my 2019 quilting adventures to a close.  Thanks so much to all of you who read this little blog and leave encouraging comments.  You are appreciated, more than you know.  And for those readers who are "no-reply" commenters, if you would like a response, please include your email in your comment so that I can add your address to my contacts list. 

On to the new year, and a new decade!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Holiday Littles

Still hoping to make one more project before Wednesday morning!  I wonder how many others are doing the same ...  Christmas cookie-baking in full swing as well (finally) and tomorrow's list includes pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner with son and DIL and three of the grands.  Happy times.

I did manage to finish a couple small projects, the first for my daughter's birthday last week.

The second is yet another in the "pieced from Lois's scraps" series.  Last year she made a Christmas quilt from a kit of Moda's Gingiber fabrics.  She must have downsized her version a bit as there were all these lovely fabric squares and strips in the box that showed up at one of our meetings last summer.  When nobody snapped it up, I snagged it and made this cute set of placemats.

Easy-peasy piecing and a bit of simple FMQ, add binding and done!  And yes, we're keeping these for ourselves - Merry Christmas to us!  They reverse to this sweet wintery print I've had in my stash for several years.
A couple close-ups:

OK, off now to raid a couple scrap bins and see if another set of potholders and an oven mitt can be finished by tomorrow evening.  But not before wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year!   I'll be back in a few days with a December mini finish.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Fractured Fabric

As mentioned a while back, I've been wanting to make my son a Japanese-inspired quilt since he has been interested in all things Japanese since high school.  Last week I finally gathered the courage to cut into several small pieces of yukata and indigo fabrics I'd gathered, as well as a treasured piece of tenegui from Tokyo (thanks Cynthia!), and have a go at this project.

I was lucky enough to find a used copy of the late Kitty Pippen's book Quilting with Japanese Fabrics and fell in love with her style and the many gorgeous quilts she created over her lifetime, most all made after her retirement until she passed away last year just short of her 99th birthday.  I wish I had been one of the fortunate ones to have taken classes from her.

One style element she often used she called "fracturing" - cutting a series of 60 degree triangles of patterned yukata fabric and resewing them with diagonal bands of solid fabrics between, in an asymmetrical arrangement to create movement.  In other quilts she worked with rectangular pieces, which of course would have been a better choice for a rank amateur with spatial dyslexia and no geometry background.  Guess which one I attempted.

Following are a few photos of my daily progress over the past week or so.

The original fabric pull, half of which were set aside when construction began

Day 1, not much progress here

Day 2

Days 3-4

Day 5, starting to look better but still missing "something"

Day 6, Top border added and also the missing "something" - can you spot it?

Day 7, Bottom border added, top completed, 24x34 inches.

I made a first attempt at sashiko embroidery stitching on the top and bottom borders.  I'd expected it to be easier than it was, considering I've hand quilted for years.  Definitely a new skill to be learned, but fun!

The backing fabric will be this Ameritex Japanese style print that has been sitting in my stash for at least ten years, and I suspect sat in someone else's stash for years prior to that.  My guess based on internet research is that it dates from the 1970s or 80s.  I love it, and happily there are still a couple yards left.

The seams have all been ditch quilted by machine and hand quilting was started this morning.  Hoping to have this completed by Christmas for early gifting to my son.  It's meant for his January birthday, but Christmas is when he can open it while we're together.  Hope he likes it!

Meanwhile there are a few more pieces of Japanese fabric in my stash and I'm smitten. This one was a huge challenge, but gotta say, so far I've loved every minute of making this one.

Hope you're having some fun in your sewing room this week.  And don't forget to visit all the blogs in Lori's Humble Quilts Holiday Favorites Blog Hop going on this week!  Lots of inspiration to be found there.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Welcoming December

Welcome December, season of hope!  After an unintended blog break during November, it's good to have that month in the rear-view mirror - enough said.  Some good came out of the last few weeks though, and here are two new finishes, just in time for the Christmas season!

First up, a Christmas gift for my grandson, since it was reported that he needed a new bed quilt.
I used a slightly size-altered version of Bonnie Hunter's Sticks and Stones free pattern.  "November Skies" is what I'm calling this one, since the overall colors remind me so much of a November landscape with only a hint of the earlier fall color remaining, and the predominantly gray skies we see around here in late fall.  Totally machine quilted, very simply with stitch-in-the-ditch and a grid through the blocks.  Once again I took measurements before and after:  original top 91x80; after quilting 89x78; and after being washed and dried 87 x 75 1/2 inches.  Lately rather than soaking and drying the Hobbs 80/20 cotton batting I've been just using the steam setting on the dryer to partially shrink and de-wrinkle the batting prior to layering and pinning.  Seeing a little more shrinkage this way, but I think the batting itself behaves much better and I'm not seeing as many thin places when it's laid out for pinning. 
One of those rare partially sunny mornings, about 20 degrees outside.

And a closer view.

Next up is our very own Christmas quilt!  After all these years hard to believe this is the first Christmas quilt I've made just for us.  Really happy with the way this one turned out.

This was begun in an, as it turns out, vain attempt to use up all the Christmas fabrics left in the bin.  I had seen a photo online last year of a similar quilt, but with no attribution or pattern available, so I drafted my own.
Used this tree stencil in two sizes for much of the quilting.

And "organic" holly leaves and berries between the stars.

I was able to use up all the remaining Christmasy flannels for the back and learned a valuable piece of information in the process - that being flannel and Aussie fur are natural magnets.  Yikes!

This photo was taken yesterday, before the nor'easter Ezekiel came to town, bringing with it a less than welcome accumulation of freezing rain, sleet, crunchy snow, more sleet, and on it goes.  Areas east of us are expecting 12-18 inches of snow on top of the ice.  Not a happy travel day, but a great day for sewing and catching up on some blog reading.  I hope the weather is better in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

October's Purely Practical Minis

When Wendy posted her October mini earlier today, she invited folks to participate even if your mini is only a mug rug - music to my ears!

I've been experimenting with using felted wool from an old blanket as a filling, along with a layer of Insul-brite, for kitchen oven mitts and pot holders.  The first oven mitt was shown in an earlier post, and I was pleased with the results.  The next two items are potholders, just finished tonight. 

I must have cut from a portion of the felted wool that was thicker than the piece used in the oven mitt because these are a bit stiff at the moment.  If they don't soften up a bit, they will end up being used as hot pads on the table or counter, and there are plenty of scraps around here to create more!  These are thick enough that it was difficult to keep them completely straight in the sewing machine as I attempted to stitch the binding onto the front, not to mention that a 2-1/2 inch binding was really tight to turn and stitch onto the back.  A 2-7/8 inch binding on the second one turned out a bit too large this time.  Live and learn, and try again!

Here are the backs:

Linking to Wendy at Constant Quilter where you will find links to the other October miniquilts featured this month.