Monday, August 12, 2019

"April in Paris" - an August Finish!

"April in Paris" is finally a finished quilt!  The last binding stitch was put in over the weekend, and I immediately whisked it outside for a photo shoot.   It was a windy afternoon.

All these photos were taken before washing out the Crayola markers I used for tracing stencils and some freehand designs in the larger blocks.  I was pretty nervous about that first wash, partly because of the dark markers and also that bright claret used for the sashings.   A couple color-catchers in the pre-rinse came out bright blue-green, first thought to be from the markers, until I discovered the Printed Treasures label had been dyed the same blue-green. But no red bleed - whew!  After the pre-rinse in cold water I washed the quilt with a bit of laundry soap in cold water.  No bleed on anything except that label which seems to be permanently dyed.  It's the first time I've seen a Printed Treasures label take on dye like that.  Thinking now it must have been from the blue backing fabric, though that had been prewashed.  I'm just breathing a sigh of relief that the entire quilt didn't take on a blue hue.

The dog run finally has a purpose though it took a 3-step ladder to reach the line!

A bit closer

The back

My faithful photo shoot assistant, who was polite enough to not roll on the quilt!

And a finished quilt post deserves a shot by one of my favorite trees out back!

This quilt is based on a pattern by Tony Jacobson published in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting.  My version's finished size after washing is 76 inches square. The quilt crinkled up nicely after quilting and its bath, though the shrinkage was far more than I'd expected.  The flimsy measured 80 inches square and I'd hoped it would remain close to the 80 inches, but I'm very pleased otherwise with how it turned out.  This quilt is destined for the benefit auction on August 31.

This was my One Monthly Goal for August and I'll be linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts when she posts her end-of-month linky party in a couple weeks.

Til next time, happy stitching!  I see canning in my near future.  Tomatoes still green but the plants are heavy with fruit, with any luck we will see a huge harvest, some for us and some for sharing.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

One Monthly Goal - August Goal Setting

Already the summer months are nearing an end and with that brings the major garden harvest, and canning our favorite salsas, fresh tomatoes, tomato jam, and most especially tomato-basil pies for supper!

Also on August's agenda is completing April in Paris, my final donation quilt for this year's camp benefit auction.  This year's auction is on Aug. 31, so this quilt needs to be done and dusted by about the 28th of the month.

After what seemed an eternity of ditch quilting every single sashing seam, the FMQ is going reasonably well.  Here's what it looks like now.  (Can't post a picture of the full quilt on the floor as the dog is blowing his coat right now and it's impossible to keep up with the shedding even with daily sweeping and vacuuming!)

I'm using stencils for the FMQ work because of the time constraints and they're just plain easier for me to do than attempt an all-over FMQ design.  Hearts in the small squares and rectangles, and a fun dahlia stencil in the large squares.

The stencil I had is just a bit too small for the size of these blocks, so I'll need to go in and add a small filler design in each corner.  Thinking of a simple Trillium leaf design for each corner.  Sixteen blocks, eight starts and stops for each to fill in those corners - looks like 64 additional thread ends to bury.  Thankfully there are some old movies I wouldn't mind watching on TV some evening while that gets done!

So, this is my one monthly goal for August, to wrap up this project and get it delivered to the camp in time for the auction.  Joining the Goal-setting Linkup for August at Patty's Elm Street Quilts.

Til next time, happy quilting!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Swimming in Strings

It seems last week's squirrel has morphed into a full-blown endeavor, worthy I think of naming it as my second String-along quilt.  And more likely to be finished by the end of Lori's String-along over at Humble Quilts!   When I last posted just a few blocks had been completed.

Over the weekend this happened.  Trying out some potential sashing and layout.

Though I like the idea of a pale yellow for sashing for these saturated blocks, I'm still constantly second-guessing myself.  The yellow pieces I currently pinned up on the design wall look way too dark I think. Several kind commenters on the last post have suggested black, which would add a bit of drama, though it might be too dark and somber for a 13-year-old girl.  I'd also thought of a deep purple, maybe?  What about three vertical rows of blocks then a row of sashing?

Or, another possibility, borrowing on the suggestions to use black sashing, maybe a narrow black strip between the rail blocks and the yellow sashing??  (The colors are more true in the following photo.)

 Can you tell design decisions are agonizingly difficult for this artistically challenged soul, especially with this array of bright in-your-face hues such as these.  Those same bright saturated batiks are energizing though, and so much fun to cut and stitch and lay each one next to the previous one!  I've probably stitched a little more than half the scraps on hand and plan to keep on until they're all pieced into blocks, then decide on a final layout.  You of course are invited to help!  Just leave me a comment on how you would take this jumble (jungle?) and create order from the chaos!  It's totally OK if you say you hate it, my husband took one look this afternoon and said "looks like scrambled eggs" ... though that was probably not what he was thinking, lol!  He's more of a green and brown guy.

Linking up with Lori's String-along at Humble Quilts.  Hoping to get back to my blue  strings (Sing the Blues Mama Lou) next month.  Not to mention my monthly mini for July which is still languishing somewhere in the design stage. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Another Week, Another Squirrel

What I should be doing ...

What's actually happening in my sewing room ...

Leading to this ...

Loving these rainbow-sherbet rail blocks!  Hard to put them down and concentrate on finishing the ditch quilting on April in Paris. Thinking maybe three columns each two blocks wide as shown and separated by fairly wide sashing strips.  Of what color though? 

I haven't posted an update of our homegrown pineapple plant in awhile.  Here's what it looks like now.  The actual size of the fruit is 6-7 inches long.  Larger than I would have expected.  This is a three-year-old plant.  We're anxiously awaiting its ripening.  Have no idea how much longer that might take. 

Barely visible in the photo but right below the base of the fruit another shoot is growing off to the right.  Wondering if that will eventually produce another fruit.  Have you tried growing a pineapple at home?  How long did it take to ripen?  Did the plant ever produce a second fruit?  Inquiring minds would love to know!

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Small July Finish

A few months ago while searching for a tutorial for making spider web blocks I came upon the blog of Marit in Norway.  Sadly, her blog seems to be inactive now.  Anyway, she had a great tutorial that I have followed for my current string block project, that I need to get back to very soon!

Scanning through some of her older posts I also came upon a series of equilateral triangle quilts she had made a few years ago.  You can see one of her quilts at this link Summer Breeze Triangle Quilt.  After all these years of quilting I had never tried using a 60 degree equilateral triangle to construct even part of a quilt!  So an experiment was in order, and this is the result, made entirely of older scrappy leftovers from my bin of baby and young child-related fabrics.  I'm always looking for a little challenge to try to keep the brain cells active, and being spatially dyslexic, triangles are a challenge for me!  This turned out to be so much fun though that I'm already looking forward to making more of these soon. 

First layout at the point when I ran out of said scraps.  Several of the triangles are made of smaller bits and pieces stitched together to make a piece large enough to cut a 6-1/2" triangle.

Vertical layout as stitched together.  I decided against borders and let the triangles do all the work on this one.

Some quick straight-line quilting and voila, a finish this afternoon

My faithful helper followed me around for the entire photo shoot.  He declined to sit on the quilt though!  Whoever heard of a pet not sitting on a quilt??  Maybe because he knows they don't belong in the field or up a tree for that matter!

I had never tried fusible batting before so when Connecting Threads had their recent batting sale I ordered a crib-size one (Hobbs 80/20 fusible).  Well, all I can say about that is I probably won't be using it again.  The package says it fuses the layers together "temporarily."  "Momentarily" might be a more accurate term, as the quilt required pinning  anyway to hold everything together.  The one tiny advantage might be that the batting remained slightly tacky and I think that helped prevent too much fabric slippage as I quilted the straight lines.

Anyhow, there is now a baby quilt finished and ready for donation to our quilt ministry.  I haven't yet decided whether it will be another camp benefit auction donation.  That will depend on whether any other needs come up before then. 

Joining Wendy's linkup for this week's Peacock Party.  Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

April in Paris and Summer at Home

It was probably in April, though I've never been to Paris, when I held this small piece of fabric and dreamed a big quilt built around its tiny print.
Searching through my stash there were several spring-like prints available, but only one or two that evoked my imaginary vision of a quilter's Paris in springtime.  Most of my fabrics were small pieces, ranging from less than a fat quarter to a half yard. A bit of online shopping added to the pile of possibilities.  I'd found a very simple pattern using fairly large squares of fabric, by Tony Jacobson called "All Inked Up" and decided to base my quilt on that, so as to best feature some of the lovely prints. 

I had a small piece of solid that was an exact match to the red wine on the bistro table of the first photo.  Do you think I could find a match to that "perfect" sashing fabric?  Not a chance.  Close perhaps, but not exactly.  Having a small design wall I departed from the piecing instructions on the pattern and decided to build the quilt in quadrants.  That way there was only one long seam to sew the final two halves together.  Much better than cutting long horizontal 1-1/2 strips and trying to match the entire span of the quilt. 

Our dog is in full summer-shedding mode and with constant rain the week when the top was completed, there was no way I was able to get a full shot of the finished flimsy before pinning it yesterday at the church.  But here's what it looks like now, all ready to begin the machine quilting.  Measuring right around 80 inches square though the photo would have you think otherwise.

This will be donated to the church camp benefit auction, so I'm hoping to have it quilted and with any luck bound by the first week in August - just in time to switch gears to tomato-canning season.

With all that inspiration we ended up buying a simple bistro table for our back porch this spring, and have been enjoying early morning coffee and breakfast as well as mid-morning lattes outside during these summer days.  Best addition to the outside 'decor' yet! 

I just love this next photo.  Our 2-1/2 year old grandson was visiting the week our hayfield was mowed and baled.  Living in the city he was fascinated by all the big equipment and noise!  And of course he got to "drive" grandpa's riding mower and the big Kubota the next day.

This old tractor and wagon, and the last of the bales awaiting their ride home to the neighboring farmer's barnyard are all that remain from the excitement of those days.  Tranquil early morning shot.

An early-morning walkabout yesterday, and some of our mid-summer blooms

And from in-your-face lilies to the tiniest zinnia I've ever seen, this one is about 1/2 inch across and about that high.

Wishing you all warm sunny days, with lots of color blooming in your gardens!

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Few Smalls

A few weeks ago at quilt ministry one of our ladies gave each of us a half yard of sewing-related fabric and issued a challenge for us to make something from the fabric, adding any other fabrics or scraps of our choosing, and bring the finished item for a swap the first Tuesday in July, along with having our semi-annual brunch.  Sew, ok!  Challenge accepted, but what to make??

Going through our little library's old magazines I happened upon a pattern "Snap to It!" designed by Carol Streif that appeared in Quilter's World, Summer 2013.  Cute bags, but requiring pieces of an old retractable metal tape measure.  Well, we have an old one or two hanging around, but all too narrow for this pattern.   I just happened to find a 25-foot one at the first yard sale Lois and I visited the following week, so I was in business!

Following the instructions in the magazine I sewed up this first one.
OK, though I didn't care for the side angles created by the size of the boxed in bottom.

Second try:
A little better, with a slightly smaller boxed bottom.  I'll take these two to our gathering tomorrow with the one extra in case we have a new member attend, which often happens in the summer.  But I had to try just one more tweak, and made this one for my daughter:

Fun and fairly easy to make, although the last seam requires strict attention since the metal tape measure pieces are inserted at this point and are extremely close to the closing seam.  But odd as it seemed when I first saw this in the magazine, it really works and the bag snaps shut and keeps its contents safely inside.

The bag as patterned has exposed seams on the inside, OK, but not as neat as I'd like to see this.  After finishing with the auction donation quilts later this summer, I'd like to experiment a bit with the order everything is sewn to see if there is a way to have all the inside seams hidden and be able to insert the metal pieces before folding over the top/lining fabric as that would provide a bit more space for stitching.  And with a leftover 200 inches of metal tape measure just waiting for more cutting and experimentation, who knows what's next on the agenda!

Til next time - happy summer quilting, gardening, or however you enjoy your warm sunny days!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A June Mini Finish

This was a fun and relaxing small doll quilt for Wendy's (The Constant Quilter) monthly mini challenge.  A simple one patch top made of leftover mini-charm pack squares and remainders from my version of Barbara Brackman's Checkered Past 1862 quilt pattern of a few years back.  Quick and easy piecing.

I used the half-hoop found at a yard sale last month to hand quilt most of this piece, using the full hoop only for the very center.  Quilting is big stitch in a simple cross-hatch pattern.  I've been working at my big stitch quilting in an attempt to get the stitches to come out a little more even.  Seems after all these years my regular hand quilting is much easier to accomplish than the larger stitches with 12 wt. or pearl cotton thread.  More practice needed (always)!

I always love seeing the wide variety of mini quilts Wendy links to in her monthly mini posts, everything from traditional to modern improv is represented. 

There will be no more quilting or blog-reading time until Sunday evening as my daughter and 2-1/2 year old grandson will be here visiting - happy grandma time!!!  Til next time, happy quilting!