Monday, May 10, 2021


It all began with a set of twelve leftover basket blocks from my French Country Strippy quilt of a year or two ago (from Fons & Porter's Fat Quarter Friendly book).  

It's time to be thinking about donation quilts for the upcoming Labor Day church camp auction.  Basket quilts are good ones for this auction, so we set about finding something for the setting triangles that would coordinate with the baskets.  Hubby was convinced this tomato soup red was better than any of the other choices in my stash (mostly tan to brown prints).  Maybe, though it really began the long saga of finding something - anything - that would remotely go with ...  I had some border fabrics leftover from the previous quilt, and they really looked the best, but of course there was not enough.  Nor was there anything else in the stash that either had enough or even began to blend in with what was already on the design wall ... sigh.  This quilt was already angry, flat-out refusing anything I offered.  

So, rather than pitching it into the waste basket next to the sewing machine I figured if nothing was going to play nicely why not introduce something new and that's where we ended up.  I grabbed a piece of this older "Kashmir Style" by Hoffman fabric and some blue solids and introduced them, the Kashmir has both red and blue, even if none of the basket blocks has a speck of blue, and we went with that.

A semi-sunny day a couple weeks ago, in an attempt to get a couple photos that would somewhat capture the colors and sheen of the beautiful border fabric.  You guessed it, the quilt refused to cooperate, exhibiting its continuing fury thusly.

And of course the camera failed to pick up any of the gold highlights that make that border fabric so wonderful, even on the closer shots, which I won't bore you with.  

While watching this little quilty temper tantrum, the perfect name came to me.  There's an old country song called Ruby, are you Mad at your Man.  And here it is, as sung by Rhiannon Giddens.  See if you agree.  

Ruby it is.  And I can't decide whether I love it or hate it.  Lukewarm is probably a better descriptor of my feelings at this point.  

Thursday, April 29, 2021

April's Mini

 There's cheater fabric, and I suppose there's also a cheater mini.  Like when you receive several baggies of quilt "parts" from a non-blogging quilter who  decides to rid her stash of some extras.  Sometimes a baggie can hold 23 feet worth of 1-1/2 inch finished HST blocks, another baggie might hold the beginning of a quilt plan cut short.  That would be this mini.

A really nice start, but since I had no particular ideas on how I might want to build on it, and it is a perfect table topper size I decided to just sandwich it after piecing a backing, and get some free motion quilting practice before working on the FMQ stencils on Younger than Springtime, seen in my last post.

This is the backing, pieced from four smaller pieces of a fallish batik.

Happy to be joining in Wendy's Monthly Mini Challenge at The Constant Quilter.  I'll link to her post on Friday.  Please have a look at other quilters' challenge quilts, the ones I've seen so far are wonderful!

It began raining hard late yesterday afternoon, subsided a bit overnight, but today has been a non-stop deluge.  Hubby finally put the rain gauge out around 2:00 this afternoon and after a couple hours we are closing in on 2 inches.  Hard to say what the total has been since last evening, but from the look of our back yard we are no longer in a drought locally.  The photo appears a bit grainy since it was raining so hard, but the water has inundated the rear portion of our yard, the creek is well over its banks. Thankfully it "shouldn't" come much closer to the house as we are on a little rise.  But the unfinished basement will see some water by tomorrow and the sump pump will be making itself useful once again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Younger Than Springtime - Finished!

 After finishing stitching the last of the binding down last night, I popped this quilt in the wash for its beauty bath.  Today it was sunny when I returned home from quilt ministry so outdoors we went for a few photos.

Loving how soft and spring-like this turned out!

This one gave me no grief whatsoever in the making - probably because I'd made a similar version a couple years ago for donation.  This one will stay with me at least for this summer, I want it on my bed!  Someday it will go to my granddaughter. But maybe not too soon.

The quilting is a mix of big stitch hand quilting and machine free-motion quilting.  The larger square areas between sashings are a machine quilted stencil, and the narrower blocks and borders are hand quilted in a variety of colors of Aurifil 12 wt.  

The backing fabric is a lightweight almost gauze type fabric, giving the quilt a wonderful softness.  I love this backing and would have purchased more if it had been available.  It's been waiting for a special quilt for a couple years now.  

My faithful companion keeping his distance - he was soaking wet from multiple creek-swimming excursions out back.  Temps reached 78 degrees today, what a lovely surprise after snow three days last week.

I'll hopefully be back with a mini later this week, and maybe next week a peek at a not-so-successsful top that was also finished yesterday. Maybe finished isn't quite the right word for it, but you gotta show the bad with the good, right?

In the meantime, happy stitching!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Lady Sings the Blues - a finished quilt top

This quilt began with a box of twelve orphan basket blocks, the rejects after my friend L completed her own quilt made from a kit of Barbara Brackman's Baltimore Blues.  My friend is a perfectionist and these blocks failed to pass muster for several reasons, basket points too close to the edge, a variety of finished sizes, not square, etc.  By themselves they looked pretty bland to my eyes, but the first thing on the agenda was to border them  and then trim them all to the same size.  But the overarching goal was to preserve as many of the basket points as possible in the process.  Believe me when I say there are a LOT of 1/8" seams in this quilt!

So, after a couple days, we had this.  Still a bit bland but getting better, thanks to enough scraps of that delightful blue floral to fussy cut cornerstones for the sashing.

Last week while sorting through some bins of donated fabrics for our quilt ministry I found what to my eyes would be a perfect border to add more fun to this top.  Lucky for me there was one 18 inch wide strip about 76 inches long.  Enough for the side borders.  It just happened to be a drapery fabric from 1986 according to the selvedge, a bit heavier than quilting cotton, but perfectly serviceable.

For top and bottom borders I tried out a serpentine strip of a similar peachy-pink on solid navy blue.  Really wanted to keep that peachy vibe going since it seemed to invigorate the entire quilt.  And tada, a finished top!

The "stained glass" shot

Kitten approved

Not sure what that streak is in the bottom center of these last photos, suspect it's just a shadow cast by a fold in the center. 

I've been smitten with large-scale prints after using this one, actually there are a couple in my stash that have been waiting for years to be used.  I think their waiting days are about to end!  

Hubby brought the little bistro table and two chairs out to the back porch, and this morning it was sunny and over 60 degrees out, warm enough to enjoy my first summer latte on the porch.  Just waiting now for the hummingbirds to return and the flowers to appear!

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The first mini I ever made

 After seeing Kyle's wonderful adaptation of an antique miniquilt yesterday, I was reminded of the first mini quilt I ever made, way back in the mid-late 1980s.  Though I had a few quilts under my belt by that time, being a young mother working in a home-based business and restoring an early 19th century home, etc. etc., there was precious little time left for quilting.

That Christmas, I think it was either 1987 or 1988, we purchased an American Girls doll for our young daughter. With limited funds, there was no money for any of her accessories, so we enlisted the help of my father-in-law to make a copy of Kirsten's bed. At Thanksgiving he brought us the bed, a faithful copy of the one in the catalog, though unpainted. I bought a set of patterns and set about making the doll's entire wardrobe as well as the bedding for the bed.  Bedding consisted of a blue and white ticking mattress and pillow, antique linen sheets and pillowcase made from scraps left in the house by a previous owner, and a quilt.

This is the only photo I have of the quilt, taken many years later by my daughter when she was sorting through boxes of her childhood dolls, etc.  The fabrics were scraps left over from making her first big-girl bed quilt a few years earlier, probably around 1985.  

The wooden doll bed needed paint and decoration,  so I found a book on rosmaling  and attempted a simple design on the headboard after painting the bed a light blue.  Sadly, there are no photos of the bed, however I'd also found an unfinished hinged wood box that I painted the same light blue and did a tiny bit of rosmaling on.  Kirsten's wardrobe was stored in this box.

So, all this reminiscing to say that I have no new mini this month.  Another large quilt top in the works though, which will become a donation for the local church camp's annual auction.  It's looking like it will be a go for them having a regular summer camp schedule this year, and they will need the auction proceeds to fund scholarships for children who cannot afford the full cost, and for camp upkeep.  

So, to see a lot of wonderful new mini quilts, go to Wendy's (Constant Quilter) post to see a delightful assortment!  Thanks to Wendy for hosting this mini parade every month!

Until next time, happy stitching!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Design Wall, Pins, Scotch Tape, and a Top is Born

 My diamond jubilee quilt top is finished.  Mixed emotions about this one, on the one hand thinking it is a hot mess, but absolutely loving so many of the details.  It was definitely a challenge quilt from beginning to this point, and that was exactly what my beginning goal was, to see if I could make a pattern this complex.  I wanted a brain challenge, and boy did I achieve that goal!

This month has been spent doing what I thought would be the easy part of the process, stitching up 324 flying geese for the sashings.  After all the sunflower blocks pretty much went together without a major hitch, how hard could flying geese be?  Turns out the geese became a huge growling bear!  I cut the first few according to the pattern directions and after attempting to trim them up using my bloc-loc flying geese ruler, they were coming out too small.  Cut larger pieces, but still many of them did not trim perfectly to size.  At that point "done is better than perfect" became the slogan of the week, along with Gwen Marston's advice that if it's to small, add something, and if too large cut something off.  I've really come to appreciate her sage advice!

So, a few photos of the assembly process.

The pins and scotch tape starting to come into play - this thing is WAY bigger than my design wall!

Trying out the setting triangles

Taping around the door frame, more pins, decisions-decisions!

At this point I decided to add a narrow border using the same setting fabric.  While pinning that border I happened to walk in the room and saw this stained glass effect.

The sun was getting low in the sky and as soon as that last border was stitched I ran outside to see if we could achieve the same stained glass look of the entire quilt.  But the sun was just disappearing behind the hill and the stained glass effect was all washed out by the low angle light.  And now it's rain, rain, rain in the forecast for the next several days.
Really difficult to get an accurate photo of that setting/border fabric.  It's much darker than it appears here, probably because it's an older 1980s or 90s print and the fabric is a bit thinner than some of the newer reproductions.  The setting fabric is more true to its color in the lower left corner of this next photo, which also happens to be one of my favorite blocks.

This will be next in the hand quilting lineup, and hopefully it will become a finished quilt sometime during my diamond jubilee year.  

The first snowdrops have bloomed by the garage where the sun has warmed the soil this past week.  A few other green shoots are popping up here and there, though the snow still lingers along the edge of the woods where sunlight doesn't reach.  This may be the week I sow the tomato seeds in their little containers though and that will seem to make spring that much more real in our neck of the woods.

Hope your Wednesday is going well, and that you have some happy sewing to fill your days!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Mini Contemplation and Catching Up

Though I thought about it a lot, no mini quilt was completed in February, and the next one will likely be on hold for another month or two.  

This piece has been nagging on my mind for the past several years, namely what to do with it!

 A piece of batik, though extremely heavily waxed and stiff, 18 x 12-1/2 inches, purchased several years ago at a thrift store.  The pencil lines outlining the figures are clearly visible, and it seems to be an original of some sort, but what?  Searching the internet several time over the years has yielded no clues as to its origin or its potential value - maybe no more than the dollar paid for it.  It does soften up a bit when pressed with the iron but the stiffness returns as soon as it cools, so I'm thinking it will be somewhat difficult to stitch and have no allowance for errors in machine quilting.  

But, I threw it up on the design wall a couple weeks ago right above this motley grouping of leftover HST's, and immediately saw a couple possibilities.

Maybe a broken dishes border around the batik after first adding a narrow coping strip?   I'm open to any ideas and also if any of you has seen a similar type of batik or know it's possible origin.

Meanwhile, since finishing Sing the Blues, I've been without an evening hand quilting project that I can work on while watching tv or chatting with hubby.  I dragged an old ufo out and have appliqued a few more of these little blocks.  
To be honest I'm just not feeling the love for this project and it's been put away again.  Had to take my own advice to a fellow member of our quilting ministry who recently said she just didn't feel like making quilts anymore.  She's an excellent self-taught crafter and artist who dabbles in all sorts of projects.  I told her that if she doesn't feel the joy in quilting right now, she should make what she loves, some of our members are involved with crocheting and other needlework projects also.   One of my personal resolutions this year was to only work on quilting projects that are bringing me joy, and so there's only a little tinge of guilt at setting those baskets aside until that happens.

What is continuing to bring me joy (and maybe a bit of much needed patience) has been working on the next step of my diamond jubilee quilt.  Cutting and stitching 303 flying geese so far, with only another 21 to make later today, although I'll probably end up with closer to 350 so I'll have a few options when it comes time to assemble all the sashing strips.  Then, it's on to making a bunch of 4-patch corner blocks, trimming everything up and assembly of the top.  I'd really like to have this top completed by my 75th birthday which is coming up rather quickly in a couple months.  I think I can do it.  

Meanwhile back to the hand quilting conundrum, I'm continuing to work on Quilty 365, trying for a couple hours several afternoons each week.  I need to work on that one in the daylight and before my eyes (and back) get too tired as the day progresses.  But I've come up with a potential solution for an evening project.  I finished marking Younger than Springtime this week at quilt ministry and the thought occurred that I could do big stitch hand quilting on the stenciled hearts in the smaller areas between sashings and later machine quilt the more complex stencil in the larger blocks.  So, I've selected 8 or 10 pastel shades of Aurifil 12 wt. and will begin that this evening.  

And the whole top:

So, now it's back to piecing flying geese!  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Singing the Blues on Mardi Gras

 One of my favorite songs over the years has been Sing the Blues Mama Lou as sung by Rita Coolidge here.  

So when gathering up my blue scraps it seemed entirely appropriate that the resulting quilt should be named for this old favorite, newly finished as of last night!

Sing the Blues was the first to be started of the three quilts I've made for Lori's (Humble Quilts) Stringalong Challenge in 2019, but is the last to be finished.  All were hand quilted.  The other two were Joseph's Coat and Joseph's Coat II, both finished in 2020.

After my last post showing some of the hand quilting a couple commenters asked about the quilting design in the white areas.  The entire time I was quilting the blue string areas I'd planned to make some sort of fern-like template for the white parts, but in the end decided on this simple design, made with these two now-well-worn pieces of cardboard.
Thinking these might go into the cardboard template tin for possible future use in the event I ever decide to make another string quilt using Marit's Spiderweb tutorial.  

I'm really loving this quilt!  Many many hours stitching all the string blocks, and many more hours after the decision to hand quilt it.  And every time I look at the wide variety of scraps I'm reminded of the many quilters who contributed scraps over the years that ended up stitched together with love, including blogging friends Janet of Rogue Quilter, Lizzy at Gone to the Beach, Cynthia at Wabi-Sabi Quilts, quilting friends from our ministry group, and I'm sure there are others I've forgotten at the moment.
And this being Mardi Gras it seems perfect that Angie at Quilting on the Crescent contributed that wonderful electric blue binding fabric!  My thanks to all of you!

Backing fabric is a 2019 print from Connecting Threads.  Quilted with Aurifil 12 wt. in three shades of grayish-blue, silver, and a deeper blue in the string areas.

A few close-ups follow.  Our weather is just too awful to attempt an outdoor photo shoot.  I'd hoped for a bright blue sky on fresh-fallen snow to showcase the quilt.  Well, we have the falling snow but no bright blue skies and temperatures are falling fast.  

Moving Sing the Blues toward the finish line was my One Monthly Goal for February so I'll be linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts when her OMG progress post goes live toward the end of the month.

Some days we go out to the mailbox expecting bills or tax notices, but find unexpected treasures in the mailbox.  Last month one afternoon this arrived, a beautiful gift from a special friend, Debbie at Stitchin' Therapy, that now hangs in my bedroom.  

And a couple weeks later this rustic beauty, a suncatcher from Lizzy at Gone to the Beach, now patiently awaiting better weather so it can hang on my back porch catching the early morning light through the kitchen window on summer days.
Thank you both so much for brightening our home on these bleak midwinter days!

And now I'd best be posting this while it's still Mardi Gras and before the falling snow completely covers the satellite dish and obliterates our internet for the rest of the evening!

Til next time, happy stitching!

P.S.  Today (Wednesday) dawned bright and clear and -8 degrees.  But the sunny skies persisted and when the temps moderated a bit Gibbs and I headed out to attempt some snow pictures.  Yay! The snow was too deep and treacherous to risk standing on a stool to hang the quilt on the dog run, so some railing shots had to suffice.

Hoping the sun is shining in your neck of the woods!