Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Quilty Circles Roundup

My April circles are done, though there was a point this month that it seemed they would never be caught up.   This is Day 174 of my Quilty 365 journey, and by May 10 I'll be over half-way to the goal!  I don't know about others, but it seems to work best for me to cut a LOT of circles and background squares ahead of time, get them matched up, and then use that little pile to choose a daily circle to work on.  Even with the advance prep it's becoming easier and easier to get behind as other projects demand a bit of that scarce priority time.  And another priority (read deadline) project has recently sprung up, but more about that later ...

April Circles

I think I'll stay with the mostly tan and brown backgrounds with an occasional pop of light blue or violet in the mix.  The stash seems to favor browns this year, and this will be a good background for a bed quilt in our guest room.  The circles range from tiny 1980s and early 90s Cranston prints to modern geometrics and novelty prints - truly a scrap 'n stash raid!  An I-Spy quilt for the grandkids.

A few of my April favorites

Linking up now with Audrey at Quilty Folk.  Check out her linky to see what others are doing with their circles!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Busy Week

Since 'Thing Two' came to stay with us this week, life has been a bit more rambunctious, in keeping with his adolescent puppy personality.  However, after putting up beyond his reach  all the in-progress quilting, batting, etc. etc., I was able to work on one small project for our Quilt Ministry.

For our May meetings we'll be working on making Violet Blocks, and the pattern I'm using is courtesy of Jean-Sophie Wood at    This seemed to be an easy enough block that our relative beginners could make successfully and still be a bit challenging for the few who have some quilting experience.  I made up a few sample blocks yesterday from some donated fat quarters and some of my scrappy pieces.  These blocks will finish at 8 inches, although Sophie has thoughtfully provided a cutting chart for several alternate sizes in her instructions.
I just love the cheerful nature of these blocks and think they will make someone a lovely comfort quilt.

I made some partial blocks to use on a demonstration board so everyone could see the steps in the construction process.

Departing from Sophie's excellent instructions in one area, we will draw two diagonal lines 1/2 inch apart across the background squares, so the cut-off excess can be used for small triangle-square blocks - waste not, want not!

A few of the over 75 HST's from yesterday's sewing stitched together into a little sawtooth border strip.

Thanks to Sophie for providing all these wonderful patterns through your blog and your website!

Look for pieces of the leftover scraps in upcoming Quilty 365 circles!

We'll have our next ministry meeting a week from tomorrow, and it'll be fun to see what our quilters come up with.  We've also been blessed with several large boxes of fabric donations, and some unfinished vintage quilt tops that we have yet to go through.  Fun and work awaits us, and I can't wait to get into those boxes that arrived last Sunday.

Now, to get back to some of my languishing projects.  A wedding and a baby quilt loom on the immediate horizon.   If the incessant drizzle and cold weather continue I may even find time to get to them ... after 'Thing 2' returns home on Tuesday.

Linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict since there are indeed pieces of scrappy goodness in these blocks and their leftover pieces!

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Second Finish?

In one week?  A second finish?  Seriously, I don't think that has ever happened before!  My little version of Lori DeJarnatt's Country Roads quilt-along from last fall is finally quilted, bound and washed!  Now to find the perfect place in the house to display it.

Lori began her quilt-along last fall while we were traveling in Oregon and I picked up fat quarters for my project at my favorite quilt shop back there, Boersma's.  I haven't used a lot of cheddar in previous quilts but totally fell in love with this fabric, especially paired with the coordinating black and cheddar print.  Sadly I only bought a couple fat quarters of each one.  That cheddar color  has proved difficult to capture with the camera however, and when I try color editing to get the cheddar right, the reds/pinks are way off.  Any suggestions on how to better capture all the colors more accurately are appreciated!  Anyhow, a close-up:

This piece of toile has been in my stash for more years than I can remember, and was just the right size for a back since an entire repeat of the print fit perfectly within the 25 inch square size of the top.

This was a fun quilt-along and I'm happy it's finally finished.  Thanks Lori!  Still undecided whether to add a hanging sleeve or find the perfect spot to use as a table topper.  

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.  One of the grand-dogs will be vacationing at our house for the next week - he's barely reached adolescence, so things may get exciting around here.  Til next time ...

Monday, April 18, 2016

An April Finish

The little quilt made for a baby shower later this week is finished, the binding completed in a round of Sunday slow stitching late yesterday afternoon.

Made for a much-hoped for daughter of a young friend at our church who had lost several pregnancies in the past couple years, our celebration on Saturday will be a joyful day indeed!

I played around with some photographs in the early morning light - yes that is frost in the background.

A closer look

This little scrappy quilt was made of 4-1/2 inch squares each bordered by 1-1/2 inch strips of alternating white and pastel fabrics, all of which came from my stash and scrap bins.  It is simply quilted in the ditch around each focus square and again around the block borders.  I can see this becoming my go-to pattern for quick and easy baby quilts, it's so much fun to find colorful pieces in the stash to add to the stack of  4 1/2 inch squares waiting to be stitched together.

After washing the quilt finished at 35-1/2 by 41-1/2 inches, large enough for a newborn to wrap up in, and small enough that a toddler can easily drag it around the house and use it for playtime.  The batting is Hobbs Polydown, my favorite for baby quilts.
Today all the little seedlings we've been raising under the lights need to be transplanted into larger plastic cups, and the spring mesclun mix and leaf lettuce will go into box planters to place on the deck on warm sunny days but brought under cover easily when frost is predicted.  In our area there can be frost right up through Memorial Day but some homegrown greens in our salads before then will be much appreciated!

I hope you're enjoying a warm and sunny Monday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Productive Week and a Lesson Learned

Nothing in the finished lane yet, but I'm happy to report at least a little progress on several current projects.

First off, last week I made the back and ditch-quilted the triangle squares and sashings on the first ministry quilt.  The group will tie off the centers of all the triangles on Saturday when we next meet, then we'll turn it over to our wonderful binding volunteer to hand stitch the binding down.

When I looked at the solid blue border it just seemed as if ties wouldn't work very well, and I needed some FMQ practice, so these scattered free-form dahlias were the result.

In this next close-up you can see all the little fibers on the dark blue - the batting at the edges shedding copiously onto the border!  Now I remember why in the early days I used to bind my quilts right after basting them well.  This batting was Mountain Mist 100% polyester - Never Again!   From now on I'll only order Hobbs 80/20 cotton or Hobbs Polydown and stock up for the ministry when I find a good sale.  I've used a lot of the Hobbs Polydown in the last year or two, for both hand and machine quilting and it has never made a mess like this.   Lesson learned.  Thankfully, we will wash the quilt after finishing and hopefully a lint roller will take care of the rest.

Next up was preparing a backing and beginning the quilting on the baby quilt needed for the April 23 shower.  This one will be totally machine quilted, no time for hand quilting, especially since there are three others at various stages in and out of the hoops.  So far I've ditch quilted around each of the large sashing squares.  Next up will be ditch quilting the smaller focus squares.

I'm on the home-stretch hand quilting my little Country Roads table topper.  Just finished marking the border with simple diagonal lines.  It'll be back in the hand-held hoop in time for some hand stitching tonight during NCIS.

It's a bit difficult to see the quilting on this one.  The pieced blocks are ditched and the four-squares cross-hatched; the background blocks have a stencil pattern that you can hopefully see in the next photo.

Oregon Memories is in the floor hoop, the first of the canning label blocks is quilted and I'm just starting the first of the alternate circle blocks.  Doing very simple quilting on this one, there's enough going on in the blocks that any kind of quilting pattern will just get lost in the action anyway.
The canning label in the left foreground is the block that is quilted .. can't even see the quilting, can you?

Sitting forlornly on the sidelines at the moment is this vintage quilt top I began working on just a few weeks ago.  This one is king-size, and I've found that stitching through that white broadcloth is tough-going on my hands.  The white fabric is fairly densely woven and the larger needle with the green pearl cotton is much more difficult to stitch than the size 10 between needle I'm using to outline the appliqued flower and leaves.   This is definitely going to be a long-term project, but there's no deadline for this one, thankfully!

So that's my little quilty roundup for the past week.  Hope you're enjoying some warm spring weather.  We're still waiting, though the last snowfall has finally melted and the weatherfolks are hopeful for the upcoming weekend.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Westering Women - Block 3

Hmm, set-in seams, lots of points converging, my favorite kind of block - not!  But we persevered and here it is in all its slightly ripply, not-quite-square glory.
Sweet Gum Leaf - Block 3

Of course after it was finished I went back and reread Barbara's construction instructions...ah, yes, that's how the sections were supposed to be joined together!  I may just try making a second one of these, just to see if it's any easier if I make it the right way. Though that will have to wait a couple weeks while I finish up two other projects with deadlines this month, some stabilizing ditch quilting for the ministry group quilt, and a baby quilt that needs quilting and binding before the 23rd!

If you'd like to join in the fun of this BOM here is the link to Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog post for this month's block.  Each month's block instructions are accompanied by a wealth of historical information about the westward migration.  Great reading, and a fun project.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A First Top for Our Quilt Ministry

Yesterday we held our second "work session" which for us means a very small group of those gals who are either retired or have a flexible weekday schedule.  We spent a couple hours cutting lots of strips for the entire group to make string blocks at our next big Saturday session in a couple weeks, and while we were doing that one of our retired members finished stitching up our first comfort quilt top.  

Everyone was so excited to have reached this first milestone that several were heading out to the nearest JA fabric store some 25 miles away later in the day to pick up more personal supplies, rotary cutters, mats, rulers and such.   I am so amazed and humbled at the level of enthusiasm and support these gals have for quilting and for each other.  They are so eager for the next meeting, the next step in the process, you name it.

With the exception of the dark blue border, all of the fabrics came from our donated scraps!

Before our next meeting I will do some ditch quilting to stabilize the quilt as much as possible since it will be going through a commercial washing machine at the rehab center, and then everyone will take part in tying the blocks and signing the label, since this quilt will be going to someone we all know.   And joy of joys, we have someone who will hand stitch the binding down - yay!!    I hope I'll remember to take the camera so we can get a group photo with our first quilt before it is gifted.  

Our scraps are already diminishing as we plan our second quilt - for a new baby expected in late May or early June.   And since a large portion of my scrap heap has already diminished ... umm ... moved to a new location several miles away, I'm linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict who has done some pretty amazing things with her own big tote of green scraps this month. 

Before signing off I want to thank all my blogging friends who sent along best wishes and tips for starting a quilt ministry and working with a group of newbie quilters!  Your encouragement, prayers and tips are so greatly appreciated.  And a special thank you to Janet at Rogue Quilter who gifted us with an extra rotary cutter, which has already been put to use several times cutting strips and squares for our next projects.  Quilters are pretty amazing people!  But then, you already knew that.