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.

Monday, October 28, 2019

2019 Stringalong Finale

Lori at Humble Quilts has just posted her final linky party for her Stringalong Challenge here
Over the past few months I began a spiderweb quilt in blues and white, which is still not finished.  The top is progressing slowly and there are still over half the blocks to be completed.  Here's an older progress photo to give you an idea what the eventual quilt will look like.

"Sing the Blues MamaLou" in progress

a bit closer

Over the summer this project got derailed when I decided to work with a little box of colorful batiks and Fossil Fern squares that were cut into strips for these two tops, now awaiting quilting.

"Joseph's Coat"

"Joseph's Coat II"

I'm hoping to get back to "Sing the Blues" after the planned holiday quilting is finished.  That top could probably be completed in less than a week if I could wrangle some 'nothing-but-sewing' days!

Linking with Lori at Humble Quilts.  Thanks Lori for another motivating quiltalong!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Almost Amish Quiltalong

After a month of indecision about my chosen colors I finally bit the bullet and completed my Almost Amish top on Saturday.  It wasn't until I made the decision to use up some of the last scraps of my much-loved "windows" print which had ALL the colors I loved together that this thing finally came to fruition.  So it's a bit of a rebel, but still a maybe-sorta, almost Amish little top.

The last fabric pull, still more colors than needed.  Plain-Jane brown exited quickly, just too dull and boring.  I really loved the two cheddar/gold solids but they were too similar in value to use together.  So the little print "windows" strips ended up becoming my "light" in the mix.

The black fabric (the only one available) must have been a scrap piece picked up from the bins at quilt ministry, and proved to be mostly polyester and refused to play nicely with the rest.  The remainder of that is now in the trash. And that green used for the sashing strips - there was so little that two of the sashings are pieced, one vertically and the other horizontally with three smaller scraps.  All that's left of that green is a couple pieces less than 1/4 inch wide and an inch or so long.  Cut it just a bit close that time, lol!  Still a decision to be made about whether to add a wider border, but for now it will simmer for awhile until the tote of solids emerges from the closet again.

Saturday was a gorgeous sunny fall day and I finished the flimsy just before the sun disappeared behind the western hills.  

Linking up with Lori at Humble Quilts who hosts these little quiltalongs each autumn.  They are always such fun, and a nice diversion from all the rest of the late summer/fall chores.  Thanks Lori! 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sunday afternoon fun!

It was a productive weekend, a couple goals accomplished, but the most fun began on Sunday afternoon, with piecing a few fabric slabs in QAYG fashion onto a piece of old felted wool blanket. I ended up with this
after cutting off the margins of this slab.
Oops, forgot to take the slab's photo before cutting into it!

I'd seen an oven mitt on Svetlana's S.O.T.A.K. blog that I absolutely loved and needed to give it a try. She referred to a pattern by Bombazine which I discovered was very similar to my ancient and well-loved oven mitt that I'd deconstructed last week to make my own pattern.

This was so much fun!  Until the final turning and stitching down the last little bit, when the thickness of the mitt precluded finishing on the Singer 201 as it would not fit under the presser foot.  Using the Janome had issues of its own, as there is very little room between the built-in even feed foot mechanism and the base of the machine to stitch around the small circumference of the wrist.  But it's finished, and I love how it turned out!

The lining is a soft homespun stripe with a layer of Insul-Bright loosely quilted to the palm side of the mitt.  Both sides of the outer layer are quilted to a layer of the felted wool blanket.  I'm pretty sure the heat won't penetrate through all those layers!

This prototype is actually a hostess gift for an upcoming dinner at my SIL's home.  She is also a quilter and her specialty is extremely intricate Halloween quilts!  I know she'll love the colors, fallish yet not screaming Halloween or pumpkins.  Now, to replace my oven mitt before I need one again, then on to pot holders, the newest ones are from my late mom's kitchen - probably 40 years old at least.  Make-do, use-it-up, wear-it-out in the extreme!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Trying to keep up with whatever it is I'm working on ...

A few of the projects occupying my spare minutes over the past couple weeks.  Someday maybe I'll actually make a list and keep track of completed stages of everything being worked on, though then that would take up time that could be spent stitching ...

First, I got a good start on piecing a bed-size quilt for the not-quite-12 year-old grandson that will be the major part of his Christmas gift.  When he and his siblings last visited I sat each of them down with paper and pencil and asked them to write down 7 things they liked to do or were interested in.  This guy's list included architecture (building sets), Eiffel Tower in particular, New York City, London, and reading spy novels.  Since his favorite subject in school is math, and they are also  studying world cultures this year. I figured I had enough subject matter (and fabric pieces) for building his quilt top.  As of now nearly half of the top is constructed.  I'm using a slightly size altered version of Bonnie Hunter's Sticks and Stones pattern that can be found under the Free Patterns tab on her Quiltville blog. 

I'm building the quilt top in four sections, the upper left quadrant was completed this afternoon.

The second quadrant (upper right side) is still on the design wall.  Blocks not yet sewn into rows. Fabrics focus on city streets, buildings, lots of numbers representing his interest in architecture and math, and even one spy-related block.  Text in foreign language blocks, etc.  In hopes of keeping this masculine and "grown-up" the sashings are understated with just a bit of color pop in the cornerstones.

Fall is such a fleeting season and with the holiday season coming (sooner than I'd like)  I began quilting the first Christmas quilt that will actually remain in our house, one that has been patiently waiting in the closet since the end of February. 

Ditch quilting all 30 stars 

Do you ever ditch quilt using your free motion foot rather than a walking foot?  I've tried it a few times, and found it fairly easy to accomplish, though my limited eyesight these days prevents ditching while stitching sideways so the quilt still needs to be turned every time I pivot around these stars.  I've found it easier to focus on the needle's path when using a smaller free motion foot rather than the bulky even feed foot and so this is what works for now.   I'll stencil some holiday motifs in the blocks for FMQ in the next couple days and really hope to have both this and the grandson's quilt completed by the end of November.

I still plan to do the Almost Amish quiltalong being hosted by Lori at Humble Quilts.  After dithering about a month because my first fabric selections just didn't gel, when I started cutting all the little sashing squares for my grandson's quilt the fabric just jumped out at me and fairly screamed "use these colors!"  
And so I will.  And hopefully on Saturday if all goes well there will (finally) be about of six uninterrupted hours when this little quilt can finally be stitched.  It's a nice thought, we'll see what happens.

Oh yes, one more oldie-but-goodie, wondering if anyone out there also has an unfinished Westering Women top still awaiting quilting!   I finally pieced a back, marked the entire front with my largest Baptist fan stencil, layered and pinned it last week, and am whiling away my evenings in the recliner big-stitch quilting this one.  What a wonderful way to spend the evening.  Especially loving the wool batting I'm using for the first time, so easy to quilt through.  A friend had given me a partial batting a few years back, she had just cut a small piece off, and the remainder was the perfect size for this quilt.  I can hardly wait to finally finish this one, hopefully before winter is over.

This has gotten long and the hour is late, so I'll close for now.  Til next time, happy stitching!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Stringing Along in September, and a Finish

September seemed to fly by, what with the last of the garden harvest and canning, and changing over to autumn mode that I'd hoped would be more leisurely, though maybe October will be the start of that, who knows?

I made great progress on the 2019 Stringalong hosted by Lori at Humble Quilts.  There were extra batik rails left over from piecing last month's flimsy Joseph's Coat, and I had been hankering to use that piece of red/orange batik that was a runner-up for the alternate strippy panels on that first flimsy.  So I pieced a few more rails, cut some strippy panels and borders and came up with this.

I love the stained glass effect of a sunny fall afternoon, however when I brought it inside for another shot I was a bit disappointed in how the borders kind of faded away.  I'll need to be on the lookout for the perfect binding to punch it up just a bit.
This second flimsy measures 55x72 inches before quilting.  I'm thinking I'll give these two a quick machine quilting and keep them here.  I had originally begun piecing the first Joseph's Coat for a young girl known to one of our quilt ministry members, however the family seems to have moved from the area and haven't been heard from in a couple months.  The quilts are about a perfect size for the grandkids to use when they visit and are sleeping on air mattresses in the sewing room, or an adult napping on the couch.  Never can have too many utility quilts it seems!

Lest you think I've totally forgotten about Sing the Blues Mama Lou, not so!  I've been busy cutting and marking the final 80 quadrants and getting them ready for stitching the strings.  And here is the mess by the Singer 201 as I write this!
I have high hopes of completing the stitching of the strings in October and then begin assembling the blocks in November, or maybe January depending on progress on a couple other Christmas projects.

And finally, to finish off September, over the weekend the last stitches were put in the Swiffer Box quilt, and it is now done, washed, and ready for delivery to our grandson - yay!!   After the outside photo shoot in the back yard Sunday afternoon I wanted to call this one "the green, green grass of home" but I guess I'll stick with the original name.   Still need to make a special label for this one naming my grandson as  the block designer and color coordinator for the sashings and borders and me as the stitcher.  Finished size after a wash and dry is 67x52 inches.  I hope he likes it!

Linking to Lori's Stringalong Progress post here.  And a good Monday to all.