Saturday, December 21, 2013

Last Finish of the year, and the 2014 NewFO Challenge

In a recent post I mentioned a 1950s era quilt top I'd found that had "issues" to put it mildly.  Originally 7 inches longer on one side than the other, it was also pieced together with triangle squares of varying sizes with little regard for matching corners, and with a large machine basting stitch.  Definitely not something I wanted to spend much time on yet it also didn't want to be thrown in the pile of things heading out to the local St. Vincent de Paul store either.
The original top.   Photo was taken on a sunny day, the top looks nice and clean, but it was not, and the natural muslin triangles had age spots and small stains.
I ended up taking off the three rows of triangle squares on the right and added a wide dark brown border to make it a useable size.   Trying to stabilize the large machine stitched seams, I decided that an overall FMQ meander quilting was the best way to proceed.   I had an old Mountain Mist 100% cotton batting, probably from the 1960s or perhaps even earlier.  It had the paper wrapper with some vintage patterns printed on the reverse.  So, meandering we did through the first week or so of December, then the edges were trimmed and the plain brown binding was stitched down, and the finished quilt measured about 58 x 84 inches.
I've heard the praises of the "Biz Bucket" for soaking out stains and age spots on vintage linens, so after the binding was stitched, the quilt went into the bathtub filled with hot water and about 1/2 cup of powdered Biz and nearly the same amount of original Dawn liquid dish soap.   The water turned a grungy shade of brown, which I should have photographed, but forgot to do before draining the tub some eight hours later.   After soaking all day, the quilt was rinsed in the tub several times, excess water squeezed out and then into the washer for an additional cold water rinse and spin.  After that it went through another delicate cycle in the washer with a small amount of liquid Biz and several more rinse and spin cycles, then into the dryer on the low heat setting.  The quilt shrunk up nicely and now measures about 53 x 78 inches, a good size for the back of the couch or a small grandchild's bed or an outside picnic when they come for a visit.  Here's the finished quilt in all its clean and crinkly glory.

So, that's my last finish for the year.  The other two quilts currently underway are weeks away from the hand quilting being completed, plus we just embarked on a remodel of the small bathroom in our house, and the next couple of weeks will be spent with spackling, paint cans and wallpaper!  Funny how that works - you update one item in a room, in this case changing out the flooring from carpeting to a more practical vinyl, and the rest of the room suddenly looks way shabbier than it did originally, and you know you can't just continue to ignore the obvious.
Thinking of the new year ahead, Barbara over at Cat Patches is again hosting her annual NewFO Challenge.  And this new year will be one of many challenges on the horizon with DH's anticipated retirement and a few other major life changes on the horizon.  Though I fell short this year and had to r-e-a-l-l-y stretch to have a NewFo every month this year (and there are still none on the horizon for this month), I do want to participate again next year, so I'll throw my name into the hat once again with the following:
1.  The Strippy Basket Quilt I didn't quite manage to start this year, inspired from an older Fons & Porter Fat Quarter Friendly Book pattern.
2.  I'd also like to make at least one baby quilt each month to donate to our local hospital's Layette Project that provides new parents who are in need with a complete layette when they take their newborns home.
3.  Earlier this year I acquired several vintage 1980s era Ohio Mennonite quilt tops through an online seller friend who specializes in antique and vintage quilts and tops.  The tops range in size from 28x28 inch wall hanging through king size.  A couple are pieced and the others are mostly from vintage applique and embroidery kits.  This lady did impeccable needle turn applique and gorgeous embroidery and was a prolific quiltmaker.
I think it's safe to say that I'll begin hand quilting this wall hanging in 2014:
4.  I'm anticipating I'll need to begin (and maybe complete) another wedding quilt this year.  And maybe another grandbaby quilt - just sayin ...
I may be getting ahead of myself here, so I'll quit while I'm ahead and head off to find the links for Barbara's 2014 NewFO Challenge and see what everyone anticipates for the new year!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Banner - addendum to my November NewFO Post

In my last post I mentioned the big project I'd been working on was an Advent banner for our church.  There was no suitable spot in the house to get a photo so I waited until it had been hung and finally took the photo last Sunday.  Some of the colors are a bit washed out, especially the yellow beams, but my photo editing computer skills weren't up to fixing that issue without creating problems with other colors. 
This project had a finished size of a little over 88 inches x 44 inches. The completed banner looked a bit flat to my quilter's eye, so after adding a layer of lightweight batting and backing, there was the dilemma of how to best keep the layers together.  Since there are multiple layers of fabric fused one on top of another, especially in the center, machine quilting was not an option, not to mention a time-crunch factor.  In the end I decided to "tie" the piece using a variegated metallic thread, and hand stitching small "stars" somewhat randomly across the black background.  Then, the outer edges were folded to the back and machine stitched down since there was not enough of the black background fabric to make a regular binding.  All in all, as long as you don't peek at the back, it doesn't look too bad from a distance!

On the home front, December is flying by and I'm itching to start a new quilt, but since the Christmas decorations have still not made an appearance, I think hauling all the fabrics out of the closet is probably out of the question for a few weeks.  Still plugging along hand-quilting Checkered Past during the evenings and trying to get in a half hour or so of FMQ on the vintage triangles quilt every morning. 
Hope everyone is weathering the cold blast and snow storms we've had the past few days.  Stay warm, and happy quilting!

Monday, December 2, 2013

NewFO, and a Finish

November came and went just as quickly as every other month this year, but I'm happy to report that I actually started work on an old 1950s era quilt top found several months ago.  Curiously, the online seller didn't bother to mention that the top, which looked perfectly wonderful in her photo, actually was nearly 7 inches longer on one side than the other!  But my bad since when it arrived I just unfolded it about halfway and it looked about like it had in the photo so it was promptly put away for later.  It does have a wonderful array of 1940s and 50s fabrics in the alternating triangles which were apparently cut from "approximately" 4 inch, or was it 3 1/2 inch squares.  No matter, the quilter forged ahead and pieced it all together with fairly large machine stitching, bless her heart!  After all, if that quilt is meant to cover two people, one is bound to be taller than the other, right?  Of course!!

After deciding that I just couldn't bear to waste time hand quilting this vintage piece, nor was I about to take the entire thing apart and re-piece it, what next?  Laying it out on the carpet it became clear that it would never lie flat, but at least the longer area was mostly contained in the last three vertical rows.  After cutting those away, the remainder was down to "only" a two inch difference in length from one side to the other, but it was also now only about 44 inches wide.  So, after adding some wide plain brown borders from my stash, here is the resulting top.
It will be interesting to see how all those ripples quilt out!  I've pretty much decided that quick and simple is the way to go, so this one will be meandered into submission, even the borders, although I might go "fancy" on the borders with some variegated thread.  As of now, there are about three square feet quilted, and I'd love to see this one totally finished this week.  Batting is an old, really old, Mountain Mist 100% cotton batt that has been languishing in the stash closet for several years.  That ought to shrink up nicely and give a nice vintage look to the finished quilt, hopefully disguising the inevitable ripples and bumps!  Here's what the quilting looks like so far.

There was one additional November NewFO, an Advent banner for church, which was finished a couple days before Thanksgiving.  Now, how can it be that I don't yet have a photo?  It finished too large to hang anywhere in the house but I'll hopefully get a shot of it next Sunday after service.

One finish to report for November, that being little Zachary's quilt, completed just a couple days before I traveled to see him, along with his big brother and sister!

Photobomb!  At least he knew he wasn't supposed to lay on top of it!

I loved quilting the borders, and they went relatively quickly.
The back
Name quilted into the border.

That's about it for the month.  Linking up with Barbara at Cat Patches, where you can see lots of other NewFO's begun during November, and even enter your own.  Now, back to meandering through December, and looking forward to hand quilting some gorgeous vintage Mennonite quilt tops I acquired over the last few months.  Well, just as soon as I finish the Checkered Past and Bow-Tie quilts that are piled up on the quilting hoop stand.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Foster Quilt Mom

Or, an apt subtitle would be "One Very Special Quilt."
The back story:  The brother-in-law of one of the ladies at our church is a missionary in Liberia.  Over time he met a lady named Georgina, who makes her living, like many African women, by sewing.  Georgina made all her items completely by hand, having no sewing machine.  Our ladies group raised enough money to allow the purchase of a sewing machine for Georgina a couple years ago.  Early this year, Georgina presented her missionary friend with this gorgeous queen size quilt, completely hand appliqued and hand quilted, that she had made for the ladies group of our church.
We were amazed at this gorgeous gift of gratitude, and while postponing any decision of the quilt's final disposition, we agreed that we would take turns keeping the quilt in our respective homes for a few months.  And so, yesterday this lovely came to reside on the guest bed at our home. 
I absolutely love how Georgina softly gathered her appliques, allowing them to puff out when she echo quilted around each applique.  I've tried to show the marvelous texture she achieved and her wonderful hand quilted design that gives this quilt such definition.  She used a light weight but thick batting which serves to accentuate her quilting even more.
Here are some close-ups of the blocks:

Gorgeous, isn't it?
On another note, I finished baby Zachary's quilt late last evening, and will post some photos soon!
Happy Halloween for those who celebrate - we're lucky enough to live in a remote area where it stays quiet and peaceful, although we do have five feral cats, all jet black, who visit the outdoor kitty feeding station every evening!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Now Where Did September Go?

Here it is already a couple days into October and I'm still in September mode.  Weather unfortunately is more late Novemberish here in northwest Oregon with well over 5 inches of rain in less than a week.

Anyway, reporting in to Cat Patches for the September NewFO Challenge, what did I accomplish in September?   I hate to say it, but my one and only true NewFO was a set of receiving blankets for my new little grandson Zachary who was born on September 21!  These blankets were begun on September 30 and finished yesterday. 
A few months ago I was the lucky winner of a Berenstain Bears layer cake and had begun making pinwheel blocks with some of them.  We have a friend whose daughter had a baby in September so those blocks were quickly stitched together and a quick FMQ in the Jester's Hat motif produced this little quilt.
 For the first time I brought the backing fabric to the front and folded it over for the binding, since I didn't have anything in my stash that went with any of the bear fabrics.   It was quick and easy but I'm not especially pleased with the end result, and don't think I'd use that method except in a pinch. 
Close-up of reverse side.
I'm continuing the hand quilting on little Zachary's first quilt and hope to have it completed when I head to the east coast to visit in a month or so.  And that's about it in the quilting department for September.  Spent a lot of time in the kitchen canning tomatoes and salsas - both red and green.  The heavy rains have pretty much put an end to the tomato harvest as we're seeing lots of them splitting as they begin to ripen. 
Plans for October include starting a round-robin quilt for our local guild challenge.  My center block involves a huge vintage crocheted butterfly and some really ugly fabric.  Stay tuned ...
Linking up with Barbara at Cat Patches where you can see what lots of other quilters started during the month of September!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

August NewFO Challenge

While on our trip to Salem to the Oregon State Fair the other day I lamented to Barbara that I had no NewFO for August nor much chance of starting one before the end of the month.   The precious little sewing time I've had has been devoted to completing the piecing and beginning hand quilting the new grandbaby quilt, and time is getting short.  The little bundle of joy is due in about 15 days!

Then yesterday it occurred to me, those leaders and enders stitched as I was sewing together the blocks for grandbaby's quilt count as a new project - tell me they do!  When I finished the Toddler Quilt last year there were not only a huge pile of 2 1/2 inch squares left over but nearly half the panel blocks from the original project.  So I decided to start working on making a second bear family patchwork quilt.  And here is the pile of sewn-together squares along with the scrap bear panels waiting to be cut apart and reassembled.
I think this new one will be a bit smaller than the first quilt, and with any luck I'll have some sort of design inspiration so it won't end up looking just like the first one here:
So, progress on the new grandbaby quilt is coming along, albeit slowly.  I think the hand quilting of the blocks is about 1/4 completed, and the plan is to do a simple double cable in the outer border.  Here it is as of this morning, the traditional top:
and the more modern back:
Though it's a bit difficult to see in the photo, I'm really liking the texture the quilting is adding, especially on the green backing fabric.  The batting is an 80/20 cotton from JoAnn's.  I seem to have tossed the wrapper and can't remember the exact brand name.  Quilting thread is Coats & Clark 100% cotton glace.

I'll be linking up with Barbara at Cat Patches August NewFO Linky Party where you can also add your new August projects and see what others are creating during these lazy (we wish) days of summer!

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oregon State Fair

Yesterday Barbara from Cat Patches and I went to the Oregon State Fair and spent most of our time in the Americraft Center where all the quilts and other textile and crafting projects were displayed.  The absolute highlight of our visit was seeing Barbara's You are My Sunshine quilt with its bright red ribbon and Barbara beaming as brightly as all her stitched and appliqued sunshine blocks!  This was Barbara's first-ever entry of one of her quilts into a show or state fair.  Congratulations to Barbara!

I always gravitate toward the hand quilted entries, and although relatively few of the nearly 200 quilts displayed were hand quilted, those that were entered were beautifully crafted and truly gorgeous.   The names of the quilters were on tiny entry cards and in many cases were totally obscured since most of the large entries were hung on the top of two tiers of quilts along the walls.  However, here are some of my favorites among the hand quilted entries.
Though it took a blue ribbon in its class, had I been a judge, this quilt would have easily captured Best of Show for the exquisite and intricate hand workmanship throughout. 

 I believe the album quilt shown above is hand quilted, though not absolutely certain since it was on the top tier and we could not view it up close.  The stitches are very tiny and close together and it did appear to be hand quilted.  The black/gray/white quilt to the right and also pictured below is hand quilted.

This was another favorite.  The appliques are needle turn and the larger ones are hand buttonhole stitched.  Beautiful quilting stitches!

 Another gorgeous Baltimore album style quilt, detail photos follow:

 The following quilt captured my heart, especially after reading its story.  Truly a treasure for this family and a wonderful treat to see it and learn its special significance.
 Amazing hand embroidery!

All in all a fun day at the fair.  And today it's back to the mundane painting chores and getting my supplies organized for some marathon canning sessions coming up in the next two-three weeks.  I hope you're enjoying these last days of summer, and looking forward to a quieter season of quilting in the next few months.  I know I am!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where did the month go? NewFO for July

Indeed, where has this month gone?!  It's prime garden season here in western Oregon and that also means a lot of time spent watering if one doesn't have everything automated.  We drag hoses around and connect sprinklers and soaker hoses, plus do a lot of hand watering.  All this to say, not much time for quilt-making.  I did manage to do some antique quilt shopping by way of a few small local estate sales.  Major fun, estate sale browsing!  My most recent find is shown here, and I'll be posting about the others as time permits. 

July's one and only NewFO is this grandbaby quilt started for a little one expected in mid-September.  I'd been admiring this little antique quilt for some time now, and it seemed perfect to draw inspiration from to create an updated version for the new addition to our family. 
The pictured quilt is found in this book by Eleanor Levie, published in 1990.
I've upsized the blocks somewhat to create a larger crib quilt, as the original, which was created ca. 1930, measured only 27x35 inches.  Here is my version, with 6 of the 12 blocks completed and stitched together.  At this writing I've finished four additional blocks.
And a close-up of one block:
The pattern is called Single Wedding Ring.  At the moment, the plan is to float these blocks on a border of the white tiny print fabric, then surround that with a narrow border of the green and another wider white print border.   The back will be a bit more modern looking with large blocks of the brighter green large print alternating with the white.  Binding will probably be the striped fabric. 
I'm planning to hand quilt this one, and quilt in the baby's name and birth date when I have that.  Mom and Dad decided not to find out baby's gender until the birth, nor are they announcing any possible names, so this one will be a great surprise.  The nursery is a nice apple green, so this quilt should harmonize well, I hope!

Slow progress is being made with the hand quilting of checkered past, though I don't have any updated photos today. 

So, that's my July.  I hope you're all enjoying these warm summer days and all the lovely garden produce that comes our way this season.  Linking up with the July NewFO Challenge at Cat Patches, where you can see the projects that everyone else has begun this month. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Treasures under the Table

We've been having internet connectivity problems again this summer.  I think another tree will need to be sacrificed, and soon, so we can keep our line of sight to the tower across the valley.  So posting to the blog has been intermittent, at best.  And there's so much I want to show you!

For the past couple of years it seems that there has been a real lack of interesting estate/yard sales, you know the ones with no plastic toys or piles of kids clothes and boots heaped on the grass in front of the house.  But, ask and you shall receive - in the past three weeks there have been four terrific sales within 16 miles of our rural home, each one with wonderful treasures to be found, and even better all pretty reasonably priced, meaning really, really inexpensive!

I've learned from my friend Gail who's a yard-sale-aholic, that it sometimes pays to look under the tables of goodies for the seemingly forgotten stuff that the owner figures nobody will want anyway.  So, here's what I found  under a table today, stuffed into one of those plastic zippered blanket bags like you'd bring home from the department store, with this tag attached:

Now, all I could see was a bundle of muslin and batting, and one print blue square showing.  With my hands already full with a pile of vintage table linens, I figured I could wait until I got home to see exactly what I was walking away with.   Some acquaintances who happened to be at the sale just shook their heads that I would even bother hauling 'that old thing' away, figuring it would just find its way to the dump via our trash can.  OK, when I opened the bag and unfolded the muslin this is what was inside:

Wow!  Looking at these fabrics, I think they are vintage 1950s thru about the late 1980s but there may be a few that are earlier.  The quilt is entirely hand pieced, and the white pieces setting off the bowties are from what I think was a vintage tablecloth - the weave is much looser than the other fabrics and has begun to unravel a bit along the edges.  The batting is rather heavy, and the part already hand quilted is stitched at about 4-5 stitches per inch.  It is about 1/3 quilted at this point.  I think this one may be a keeper rather than resold, it doesn't seem like it will take terribly long to finish quilting and binding it and I love it!  It measures about 51 x 71 inches.  The muslin backing is all one piece, selvedge-to-selvedge measuring 80 inches or so.   A few close-ups of some of the fabrics:

So, this was a very good day!  Among my other finds were a pile of the small promotional vintage 1930s cookbooks priced at less than 10 cents apiece including Fleishmann's, Sunkist Lemons, Rennet "Junket" Custard, Knox Gelatin, etc.  And a sweet little 1941 spiral-bound book entitled "Parties for All Occasions for Grown-ups and Children."    All in all, a very good morning indeed!