Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year-end Wrapup 17 in 2017 or The Year of Distractions

Well, I only loosely followed along with the crowd doing the 17 in 2017 challenge, never really posting much about that scribbly little list I'd made. Looking back I think that was because it just didn't seem like much progress was being made on that list.  But early in the year it became apparent that 2017 was to be the year of distractions opportunity quilts - those made as a member of our little quilt ministry.  Now, the stats for that list are w-a-a-a-y more impressive! And, in these few days after Christmas I found myself once again working on a new opportunity quilt rather than getting back to one of the original 17 in 2017 projects!

So, a month or so ago I posted a partial mock-up of a bunch of scrappy HST's I'd been stitching at the quilting group, in an effort to encourage others to begin using up the mountains of scrappy pieces we have stored there. Originally planned to be another nursing home quilt, but a couple days before Christmas a family of 6 in a neighboring town lost their home and all their possessions in a fire.  Time to push this project in another direction. So, here's where we are tonight, scrappy HST's sewn together, borders added, backing fabric found in the stash, and now all layered and pinned, ready for a quick machine quilting and binding next week so we can get it delivered to the family asap.

The top:

and the back, I love this sweet pale green with all the bubbles.

So, where does that leave 17 in 2017?  I had 17 projects listed, seven are now finished, another 5 were inched forward, and absolutely nothing done on the remaining 5.   As for the reverse side of the list, the Opportunities definitely won out, with 9 projects listed, 8 of those are finished and the last one you've just seen in it's 'ready for quilting' state.

Still mulling over whether to join in the 2018 challenge, which actually sounds like it "could" be a bit easier, with six UFO's and six new projects.  What this year taught me is to never underestimate the power of the distraction to completely take over your carefully planned pursuits!  I think the biggest disappointment was not finishing even one hand quilted project, of which there are three ongoing, all either queen or king size.  Finishing at least one in 2018 will be one of my major goals for the year!

If you care to look, all of this year's finishes can be viewed under the "2015 and Later" tab at the top of the blog.

May your new year bring you good health, good friends, and an abundance of good quilting time!

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Last Holiday Finishes

Late last week I finished hand stitching the binding on the last of this year's hexie table toppers, most of which are slated as Christmas gifts.  They are all wrapped now, some already gifted, and one smaller one I'm planning on keeping, at least through this next weekend.  Unless another gift-giving opportunity pops up at the last minute that is!

Sad to say, there was no time to even dig the Christmas fabric bin out of the depths of the closet, so these were all made from scraps and stash that were more readily available when the initial inspiration struck.  Without further ado, the finishes:

I don't think the second finish was shared earlier, this one went to my daughter as a little housewarming gift:

Most of the latest batch:

And the last one ... of course I needed help keeping this one grounded!

And now, my Christmas wish for each of you is for a joyous holiday season and may the new year bring you much happiness, health, and peace in your heart, and of course an abundance of quilty fun!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A December Finish and Soft Packages

Late this afternoon the last stitch was put in the grandson's Christmas quilt - yay! So happy to have this one out of the way so other holiday preparations can begin.  So, without further ado, here are the finish photos, very hastily shot while our new four-legged friend was outside briefly. 

The front
The back

This was free motion quilted with a fairly large meander leaving the quilt nice and soft. I used a variegated thread in the bright border and then in the outer border repeated the variegated thread but used the even feed foot and my machine's serpentine stitch.
Finally found a great use for this variegated thread!

I was about finished photographing the back when in bounded this guy heading straight for the quilt (of course)!
The only in-focus shot of the whirling dirvish!

We're having to watch him like a hawk as he can find more stuff to get into the minute we look away.  Pretty much like having an inquisitive toddler in the house, but there's been a lot more laughter around here these last couple weeks so it's all good. We have decided that the Christmas tree will need to be a table-top one this year for obvious reasons!

In today's mail was one of those small squishy packages that we quilters so love to see, and this one was the result of having won a recent giveaway from Barbara Woods - this sweet gathering of fat quarters! Thank you so much Barbara!

Keeping those in the path of the raging fires in California as well as all the firefighters in our prayers tonight.  

The last major finish of 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Post-Thanksgiving Rush

Just a quick update for those of you who read to the end of the last post and were left in suspense.  Cliffhanger is over - on Saturday we adopted Gibbs!

If we had adopted his sister, we would have a Ziva (our names).  As you can see it was a tough choice ... and they weren't making it any easier!

They are six months old and full of energy. I think the decision was made after we watched "Ziva" happen to look up and spot a ceiling fan and immediately launching herself skyward in an attempt to reach the pull chain! I think that amount of energy would doubtless put us over the top, though her brother is no slouch in the energy department either. We definitely have our work cut out for us!

Who, me?

Needless to say not much has been accomplished on the quilting front over the last few days. I did manage to cut the binding for the remaining hexi table toppers as well as the grandson's Christmas gift quilt, and began quilting said quilt, in a very large and somewhat weird looking meander. I was attempting to avoid stitching over people's faces in the panel, and my machine always hangs up on the seams if I've pieced the back of a quilt top. This only happens with the free motion foot, using the even feed foot for ditch or straight line quilting presents no issue.  At any rate, I doubt a 4-year-old will care much what the meanders look like as long as his beloved Star Wars heroes are on his quilt.
So, my goals for December are to finish this quilt and have it wrapped and under the tree when the family arrives on Christmas Eve. And, there are 4 or 5 hexie table toppers that need their binding sewn on as they are gifts for more distant family members. Then we'll concentrate on doing some training of our new furry toddler, wrapping gifts, and hopefully even getting a bit of holiday baking done ahead of time.  And a tree, there needs to be a tree with grandkids here! There are also 10 family members with birthdays in December and January! Busy, happy times.

From our little corner of the world to yours, wishing you a happy, and healthy week ahead!

p.s.  The kitchen and dining room are painted with everything put back in place just in time for the new arrival!  I'm awfully thankful to not be dealing with paint cans and trays this week!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Another gift quilt in the rough

In an earlier post a couple weeks ago I wondered if it was possible to pull off another bed size finish for a Christmas gift - this year - yes, insanity I know.  But pedal to the metal, here is the beginning of said quilt, now a completed top and a completed pieced back (Or maybe he'll decide that's the front, my grandkids have been known to do just that!). 

The top (I think!)

and the back

And here's a close-up of the back showing that little sashing cornerstone fabric that I fell in love with.

I had enough of this fabric for the entire back, but figured it was a little bit dated for a modern 4-year-old Star Wars fan!   I just love it though, and I'm sure the remainder will find its way onto the back of another quilt in the not-too-distant future.  It's a Riley Blake Design from 2014 called Rocket Age by October Afternoon.  Pretty cool huh, especially for those of us of a certain age who remember things like 'decoder rings'!

So, this afternoon the batting was cut to size, and I'll get this layered and pinned on Tuesday morning at quilt group when I have access to the big tables, then on to some simple machine quilting.   The quilt top measures 62 by 75 inches, a substantial twin bed size. 

Tonight's task though is cutting binding for this, plus the five hexie table toppers awaiting a finish for Christmas gifts.  It's going to be a busy month, especially if some pending big news becomes reality, details in a week or so.   Oh, and I need to finish painting the kitchen and dining room before next weekend!  Whew!

A blessed and safe Thanksgiving holiday to all!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Meanwhile on the Design Wall

These are hst blocks stitched together during our quilt group this week, slapped up on the design wall, to see if this potential layout would work for a wheelchair-size quilt. 
Only two more hst's needed to complete this layout!

These are all from scraps donated a year or so ago, from which we've made several quilts so far, and the pile seems never-ending.  We received them as 6-1/2 inch (more or less) squares all pinned together but mostly not sewn, into nine large quilts!!  After unpinning and working with the fairly wonky squares for a few of our first donation quilts, we decided to trim the remainder into uniform squares, either 6-1/2 or 5-1/2 inch, depending on their original size.  I'm thinking this layout with the addition of two more blocks will make approximately a 45x45 inch quilt, just about perfect for the nursing home request.  There are several more that can be made from the remainder of the squares, perhaps next year.

Snow in the forecast for tonight, as well as this weekend. So, between painting the kitchen ceiling and walls and working on yet another quilt destined to be a Christmas gift, I won't mind a bit being inside out of the cold!  And hopefully, I'll have both the top and back flimsies completed to show you in the next couple days.  Yes, this quilt will have a pieced back too.  Crazy I know, at this time of year, but you work with what you have for the situation at hand!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November Finishes!

Wowzers, three finishes in less than two weeks?  Unheard of around here, until now that is.

I stayed up late Monday evening sewing the binding onto these two quilts.  You've seen the in-progress tops before, but here they are, all quilted, bound, washed and fluffed. These two are both destined for our local nursing home as part of our quilt ministry.  So, drumroll ...

First up, the Bow-tie Quilt, made up of vintage scraps from the quilt ministry's stash:

Machine quilted simply, ditch stitching all vertical and horizontal seams, that's all it seemed to need.
A closer look

And the fun vintage men's shirt quilt pieced over the summer, again with pieces from our ministry stash:

This too was machine quilted, ditching ESS (every-stinking-seam), then a serpentine stitch diagonally through all the triangles, the quilting may show up a bit better in this shot.

In some ways, my favorite part of this quilt is the back, an older piece of very soft batik, that was gifted to me when I retired from a co-worker who was downsizing her stash in preparation for moving to a much smaller home. I've wondered for years what I was going to do with this batik, given the design, which actually appears in reverse at the opposite end of the piece. I had to piece the side borders to give it the needed width, but still have a good size chunk of the fabric left.
I wondered if there is any special significance to the design/emblem? If anyone knows, please let me know!  

While I hated to cut up the piece, it makes for a wonderfully soft and cozy backing for this quilt! Here's a slightly closer view that may show the quilting a bit more. 

I wish I could say that I'm on a roll and there will be more November finishes, though in all likelihood if there are any they will just be those hexie table-toppers that are sitting patiently, all layered and pinned and awaiting their turn under the needle. But that's OK, I'm pleased to have these two finished and on their way to their new home. These are number 7 and 8 on the Opportunity Quilts side of my 17 in 2017 scoresheet. Don't ask how the other side is coming along ...

A bone-chilling 17 degrees here this morning, and the ground was pure white with heavy frost. A sign of things to come, I'm sure.

Monday, October 30, 2017

October Finishes - Yay, there are Some!

So happy to report that the Quilt for Which I (still) Have No Name is finished!  All bound, washed, and photographed for posterity, since it will soon become a Christmas gift for my son and DIL.  I'm quite sure they are not even aware of my blog much less read it, so I can show a few photos of this latest finish now.  My husband really likes this one and not-so-secretly is hoping they won't like it so he can keep it. I can guarantee that won't be happening, but the batik tote remains nearly full, so he can hope another one rolls off the finish line - someday.

While it was still having the binding stitched to the back, we had what appeared to be our last nice, warm and nearly sunny day for the fall, so the quilt was scooped up for an early morning outside session just as the sun began rising over the hilltop behind the house.

That proved to be a good decision since now that the quilt is completely bound and washed, our weather has turned absolutely awful, with over 3 inches of rain in the past 24 hours and several more inches expected, plus high winds, and the possibility of snow tomorrow here in the higher elevations of western New York.
Some photos taken inside after washing and drying:

After ditch quilting all the blocks, I quilted an all-over meandering leaf design except on the borders.  I do like the overall texture this design imparts without the quilt looking overly-quilted and becoming stiff.  I used my Janome 7700 for all the quilting, and Aurifil 50 wt. thread was used throughout. The batting is Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly blend - my favorite for bed quilts.

I made a first attempt at Lori Kennedy's feathered leaf fmq design after watching her demonstrate it on a recent episode of Sewing with Nancy.  It looked like it would be fairly easy to do, and it was, once I had drawn lines to mark off the beginning and end of each unit. Although Lori's feathered leaves look way more relaxed and natural than mine!  Oh well, maybe the next attempt will be better?!

One last look at the completed quilt, laid out on the guest bed to finish drying.  The top measured 91 inches square before quilting.  The batting was pre-rinsed and dried on low heat in an effort to minimize shrinkage in the final quilt.  After quilting and washing, the quilt now measures about 88 inches square.

One more small finish for last week - the first of the hexie table toppers, very simply machine quilted with straight lines and bound, and already gifted over the weekend.

The second-youngest grandson recently turned 4 years old and I have yet to make him his big-boy bed quilt.  Pondering whether I can pull that off before Christmas.  Time will tell!  Happy Monday, and I hope the weather is better in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hexies and Bow-ties

How many times we've heard the breezy statement "just enjoy the process" when it comes to creating a quilt.  Words that are generally muttered repeatedly while in the midst of a never-ending project involving thousands of tiny multi-cornered pieces requiring set-in seams, or attempting tiny hand quilting through the multiple layers of those same tiny pieces with multiple seam joins. Now, and this is just my opinion, if we are totally honest with ourselves and each other, we'll just come out and say that sometimes the "process" is just plain T.E.D.I.O.U.S, and the mantra that might better serve is "better finished than perfect"!

Having three projects of queen and king size either in hoops or under the machine for quilting, plus another ginormous king-size bundle leering at me from the corner where I shoved it months ago, had me wanting, no, needing a small, do-able, FUN project, and quick!

I'll admit it, I've never been a fan of hexies, don't want to own a hexie quilt,  and I sure don't want to make one!  But then along came Marie of QuiltBee with these table toppers she is making for a holiday sale, and I just couldn't resist trying "just one."  After all, these hexies are huge, and woo-hoo, no inset seams! 

So, I made one
First one now quilted and ready for stitching down binding

and then another

and before you know it, the pile grew like Topsy!

And I haven't even gotten to the autumn-themed fabric or Christmas holiday bins which was what I originally intended when beginning this new project!  These toppers were made from a pile of scraps and some fat quarters and left-over-from-other projects that were easily accessible.

Then, last week I gave our quilt ministry group a demonstration of how to cut the hexies, and the piecing process.  And got several of them hooked ...  One of whom is 90 years young, and is hand quilting a king-size top she had pieced over 20 years ago in her previous quilting life.  Yes, she was getting tired of dragging that thing to our weekly meetings, and this new project is perfect for her too!

I hope to get that first binding hand stitched down later today, for gift-giving this weekend when we visit an older couple who we haven't seen in nearly a year.  Then, the others I'll work on more slowly,  attempt some more elaborate quilting on a few of them, and plan most of them for Christmas gifts.  A big thanks to Marie for her help getting started down this new avenue!

In other quilt ministry news, I finished up eleven more bow-tie blocks this morning, enough to complete a lap size nursing home quilt.  Here's a mock-up of how those blocks may end up in the finished top.
Made from donated scrap fabrics of unknown vintage, bright and cheerful, as I think they should be for a person who spends his/her days in a wheelchair.  Now I just need to find a cheerful backing fabric and get this "opportunity" quilt finished in the next couple weeks.

Heavy winds and rain last night, and some of the nearby hills are bare of leaves, though neighboring hillsides are aglow in the golds and russets of the oak forests whose fall glory just emerged in the last few days.  My favorite season of the year, and all too short it seems.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mug Rug Swap

Good Monday Morning!  Randy at Barrister's Block recently hosted a mug rug swap.  This is the first time I've participated in an online swap, and it turned out to be great fun, albeit with a bit of nervousness on my part. There's a first time for everything, right?

Anyway,  last week I received a little packet from Lori L. (no blog) that contained not one, but two sweet little mug rugs, and here they are!

Aren't they cute?!  I really love the details in each one.  The teacup now resides on my computer desk where my morning coffee sits while I catch up on blogs, the grandkids' antics, etc.

And this one is just fascinating, with great attention to detail and I especially love the way Lori quilted the diagonal lines through each tiny block. That line of quilting adds so much dimension and movement to the whole quilt. This one is currently in the living room on a small table next to the rocking chair where I sit while chatting with my hubby about the days' events as we have our mid-afternoon snack or after supper treats. 
Did you spot the tiny farm critters?

Thank you so much Lori!

And here is the one I made for my swap partner, Debby D.  She also has no blog, but we've communicated back and forth about the swap and quilting in general.  I'm so happy she likes it!  

I've wanted to do a pineapple block for ages, and this seemed the right time to try one. I finished it with a little hand quilting, and machine quilting in the borders since I was running out of time to get it in the mail.  I'd love to make a set of placemats using this block or perhaps a table runner for my daughter as a little housewarming gift as they prepare to move into their first home.

Thanks to Randy for hosting this fun little swap!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Palmateer Point, the sequel but not the finish

Since I was less than enthralled with my choice of fabrics for the hst's in this project, it was left to simmer on the design wall for a week, to no avail.  I still don't care for those glaring hst rows!  But I'm not doing any more unstitching on this project, so I went off in search of some border possibilities. Here's what it looked like originally:
A block without borders

A good rummage through a couple bins of scraps resulted in several possibilities, ranging from "hmm" to "ridiculous" but never reaching "sublime."  A few of those possibles:

Yikes! What WAS she thinking?!

I sure wasn't feeling the love for any of these, and had decided to just slap a backing on the original block, get it quilted and done.  There was this sweet older print in one bin, and I figured it would make a lovely back and I could always flip it to the reverse side when I tired of looking at the pink.

The little quilt and the fabric had other ideas however, and here's where we ended up after they decided to dance together.

I love the way the mellow golden yellow softens the glaring pink/white combination of the hst's a bit, and certainly makes the top more lovable at least in my eyes. And that's where this project stands right now. The top is 38x38 inches, a good table-topper size. It will go into the closet for a bit while I try to finish some other huge lingering projects before I decide how to quilt it.