Monday, February 17, 2020

String-along's "Sing the Blues" is a Finished Top - At Last!

"Sing the Blues Mama Lou" was the first quilt top I began when Lori at Humble Quilts announced her 2019 String-along Challenge. Pursued diligently for a few months, then abandoned mid-summer to work on a couple other more easily completed string tops plus several donation quilts for our ministry.

I finally got back to Sing the Blues toward the end of January. After several long days of slogging through the string piecing and trimming of the last 108 quarter blog segments, there were a couple more days of piecing the blocks and rows.  That was completed last Friday evening, at which time it looked like this.

Taken at night with incandescent lighting

That looked a little too unfinished to my eyes with the half and quarter blocks at the edges, so on Saturday morning the remaining longish strips of solid whites in the stash were pieced together to make a 4 inch border and I'm thinking this helps finish off the top.  What do you think?

Mid-afternoon with the sunlight streaming in

I had originally thought I might use about a 2 inch white border, followed by a 1 inch border of pieced blue scraps, and another wider white border, but there wasn't enough white solid fabric left and the top as it is now measures 87 by 76-1/2 inches.  I wasn't about to order any more white solid, because, to tell the truth, I really don't like working with white solids which I know are every modern quilter's fabric stash staple!  Personal quirk, I guess.

Anyhow, after fussing with all the bias seams on all those strippy spider web blocks, an amazing thing happened when the final borders were sewn on.  You won't be able to tell from my wonky photos, but this top, for the first time in my entire quilting life, measures exactly the same at each parallel edge!  Exactly 87 inches long on both sides, and exactly 76-1/2 inches wide, both sides! No 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 inch difference from one edge to the other.  How on earth, with all those bias seams??  Never fear, it won't go to my head, 'cause it'll never happen again!

I'm really, really happy with this quilt, all those little bits of blue fabrics from quilts made over many years, plus gifted scraps from some lovely quilters near and far.  A few of my favorite spider webs:

I'm planning to use big-stitch hand quilting to finish this top, so planning to order a wide back, most likely in a medium blue print, if I find one I like.  There's enough piecing on the front that I don't want to add more seams on the back.  Still need to decide whether to use my staple Hobbs 80-20 or wool for the batting.  I'll need to finish Westering Women and give it a first wash to assess shrinkage of the wool before ordering.  WW should be finished in the next week or two, at least that's the plan at the moment.

Completing the Sing the Blues top was my One Monthly Goal for February so I'll be linking this post with Patty at Elm Street Quilts at the end of the month when she posts her linky party.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

My Mini Valentine

For a number of years we haven't really done anything special for Valentine's Day.  I used to bake a decadent chocolate cake with raspberry liqueur filling, and a chocolate-whipped cream-raspberry frosting.  That was before it was just the two of us to eat the entire cake, while both struggling to maintain a healthy weight.  But earlier this week while shopping at our favorite supermarket 25 miles from home, we spotted a display of sweet mini orchids and that was that.  We also hadn't splurged on flowers in the midst of the cold winter months for quite a long time, but this little plant simply said 'take me home and let me be your valentine.'
Two stems, one plant, a perfect metaphor for our lives together.  Two independent people, different,  joined together into one.

I don't have a red and white heart quilt to display, but I'll show you my February mini quilt, finished just in time for tomorrow's holiday (there's never a time when red and white Christmasy fabrics are truly out of season is there, lol).

This little quilt used up 144 additional HST cutoffs from the star blocks in my Christmas quilt of last fall.  That leaves somewhere around 80 more to empty their blue swiffer refill box, but I think they will just percolate for a few months while I think about what to do with them.  This little table topper measures 22-1/2 inches square.  It was ditch quilted in a square pattern around rows of triangles in the above view, though the quilting is difficult to discern from any of my photos.  The quilted texture may show a little better in the next close-up.

I'll link this post with Wendy at The Constant Quilter when she posts her monthly mini roundup.  In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy a very happy Valentine's Day, and maybe even a little slice of decadent chocolate cake!

Friday, February 7, 2020

A Midwinter Outing and Progress

You know you live in the boonies when the nearest world class museum has a 50% discount "resident" rate and you're still eligible with a zip code that is over 60 miles away!  That was the case earlier this week when we visited the Corning Museum of Glass with our daughter, SIL, his mom and our one-year old grandson.  It was a lovely, if cold day, with no snow or storms in the forecast - perfect!  And we took the "long way" (not interstate highway) to get there, which made for a perfectly delightful early-morning ride. 

I had never been anxious to visit this museum, being more a lover of handcrafted pottery than glass.  Wow, was I mistaken - this was a fabulous museum, so inspiring, with absolutely amazing works of art.  Silly me, wanting to shed excess weight in my purse I didn't tote along my camera, figuring hubby would have his fancy camera to do the job.  And he did, although his newly charged battery only lasted for 15 or so photos before dying - sigh.   But, we'll be visiting there again soon, before the summer crowds arrive.  And I will have my camera next time! 

Anyhow, here are a few of the photos we were able to capture.  A tiny sampling of all this museum has to offer.  Not all our photos have attribution, although I believe many will have info either on the museum's website or the google's search engine.  Keep in mind that these are all created of glass!
larger than lifesize - stunning!

I wish I had the attribution and description of this next one.  I remember that Japanese newspaper pieces are somehow added to the glass.  Next time!

As you would expect the museum shop was filled with gorgeous tempting items, here are just a couple that caught our eye(s):
My favorite item from the museum shop, but at more than a car payment or two, no.

Info on the artist who created the item shown in the previous photo

The most expensive item in the shop - I'll let you guess.   We didn't get the attribution, sorry.

And here's one for Lizzy; I had our daughter take the photo with her smartphone after our battery died. I loved this piece, from one of the modern exhibits.  It immediately reminded me so much of one of Lizzy's sunset photos of the NYC skyline from her beach.

Here's a link to the museum's description:

On the quilting front, progress is being made on Sing the Blues Mama Lou.  All the quarter segments are done, and now joined into half blocks; with blocks to be sewn together tomorrow if all goes well.  So happy that each step is getting shorter as there are half as many pieces as the previous step!  Looking forward to a finished top soon.

Wishing you all a happy, storm-free weekend!  (We had over six inches of snow last night and a few more inches today - hopefully finished now.)

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Singin' the Blues Again

Last week I was finally able to clear the decks and embark upon slog through some strippy stitching to get the remaining blocks for my Sing the Blues Mama Lou quilt started.  This pile represents part of the 108 additional quarter-block segments with on average 10 strips sewn to each, going from this

to this
to become these (still unstitched)
and these

After the comparative drudgery of stitching all those strips for nearly a week, I've been relishing the task of slowly trimming the excess off and laying each segment on one of four piles to see the effect of this chaotic grouping of vintage to modern 'blues' accented with occasional strips of predominantly green or purple strips.  And enjoying recalling some of the other quilts these fabrics have been a part of, not to mention a few sweet fellow bloggers who contributed pieces from their own stashes:  Janet, Cynthia and Lizzy, plus some of my quilting buddies from our quilt ministry group.  This is becoming a real memory quilt, for at least as long as my memory continues serving me, lol!

After stitching these new segments into blocks, they will be added to these blocks, completed late last spring, as part of Lori's String Challenge.  Better late than never, right?  Then to contemplate whether to add a border, knowing that every single edge of every single block is on bias - one of the pitfalls of assembling these spiderweb blocks.  I think it will look better with an added border aside from giving the top a bit more stability, but we will see what remains in the stash.

It's time for setting a One Monthly Goal for this new month, and getting these blocks stitched and assembled into a completed top is going to be my goal for February.  I'll be linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts for her February Goal Setting Linkup that you can find here if you'd like to join in.  The rules are easy and motivating: you don't have to complete a quilt, your goal can be as easy as making one or a couple blocks for an ongoing project.  Patty is a great motivator, and what's really fun for me is that we share both first and last names, plus I grew up on Elm Street those many years ago.  How's that for coincidence!

For those who left sweet comments on my last post, my friend was gifted her quilt yesterday when she and her husband were able to come for a simple supper of homemade cabbage and beef soup and  dill bread still warm from the oven - yum!  She loved her new quilt and remarked how her legs are always cold in winter and that she needed something to wrap around her.  Always good to know a simple donation quilt will be well loved and appreciated. 

Til next time, happy quilting!