Thursday, November 30, 2023

Bramble Blooms I - some progress to date

While some have already completed their center applique, there always has to be someone bringing up the rear, right?  Slow but steady is my mantra for this quilt - any current project for that matter!  Improv and applique are so out of my comfort zone, yet this project and following along with Audrey's thought process as she builds her quilts is so inspiring that I couldn't resist joining in.

So, several ideas came to mind for the center applique.  First, it was sunflowers.  I got as far as sketching out a pattern and inking it onto some mylar template material, then sanity prevailed as I figured out how many individual petals would be needed to complete one flower, much less two or three as I'd planned. Saved for BB-2 or BB-3 perhaps?

Tulips looked easier for this relatively simple center, so I thought.  Stems cut and pinned, then narrowed down.  First paper tulip tryouts added.

Tried adding fabric - um, no.

At this point several things were bothering me.  First, the random (boring) placement of stems, with nothing to anchor them.  I really wanted something more cohesive, what about a vase or flower pot?
The blue funky flowers also had to go.  After rummaging through a lot of fabric pieces, I remembered the small bin of Japanese yukata fabrics I'd been collecting a few years back.  Thinking in terms of a geometric design for the flower pot, I found this fabric and folded into shape and put it up on the design wall, added some leaves - yes! 

After moving things a bit -

Then this

I think this is pretty much the final design, a bit more trimming, and the vase will be a bit shorter as the bottom edge still needs turning under and basting.   Some of the leaves need to be tweaked a bit as well.  Hoping to get the major elements marked in place and get everything off the design wall and ready for final stitching over the weekend.  

It has been a busy but satisfying week.  The laser procedure for my eye was on Monday, and was a total success beyond my wildest imagination.  I can see colors again and everything is crystal clear with sharp edges. I don't need to turn on every light in a room in order to see.   I even threaded a needle without the help of the little threader I'd been using!  The doctor, after looking at all the tests, decided that both eyes would benefit from the laser and so he went ahead.  The entire procedure for both eyes took less than ten minutes, and the result was immediate!  Prayers answered!

We had our first snow this week, now rain is predicted for the next several days.  We did enjoy several clear nights during this full moon, I always love seeing the sky by moonlight, especially with sparkling snow on the ground.  

Til next time, may peace and joy surround you this holiday season!

Friday, November 24, 2023

Vintage Spin is a November Finish

 Earlier this week I finally put the finishing stitches in my version of Kathy Doughty's Vintage Spin (from her book Adding Layers).

I've been waiting for a less dreary rainy day to grab a few photographs, but yesterday finally gave up on that idea and just went for it.  Wet grass, winds gusting to near 35 mph and 40 degree temps and all.  But this morning it's only 32 degrees, and still mostly cloudy so maybe Thanksgiving was the better day after all. 

I hand quilted this one with a light lavender 12 weight Aurifil thread, first outlining each of the black circles and then along the edges of all the light colored wedges.  After taking off the hoop the circles puffed out a lot more than they should have, especially on the back, so after putting the binding on I went back and quilted smaller quarter coin size circles in the middle of each black one, effectively turning them into donut holes as you can see from these photos of the back.

The batting is heirloom wool, which I love for hand quilting and for the softness and light weight of the finished quilt.  This time I had to piece every square of leftover pieces to have (barely) enough to cover the backing.  

The outdoor photos were taken before washing the quilt.  Here it is after the delicate cold wash cycle, and a spin through the dryer on a low setting.  It was still slightly damp from the dryer so it is now resting on the guest bed to finish drying.  After quilting and washing it now measures 76 x 62.5 inches. 

To be honest, when I finished putting the top together I wasn't particularly fond of this quilt, but now after seeing it all soft and puffy in all its finished glory, I've fallen in love with it.  This one may just become our favorite knock-about quilt, and the grands will love snuggling under it on the couch when they visit again.  

I'll try to post an update on my progress with Bramble Blooms I sometime next week.  In the meantime, enjoy all those Thanksgiving leftovers - I know we will!  

Monday, October 30, 2023

Bramble Blooms QAL - Possibilities

Who can resist a quilt-along hosted by and with tutorials from Audrey of Quiltyfolk?!  Especially one that promises a work at your own pace, with a variety of techniques and with fabrics already in your stash, those oldies you've been wondering whatever am I going to do with that fabric once loved and purchased but now seriously outdated.  I think some of us older well seasoned quilters have grown a bit tired of CW repro quilts and would love to dive into the world of color and improv quilting but lack the courage/knowledge of where to begin.  

I'm wondering to myself 'Can I do this?'   Well, I'm sure going to try!   Here's a link to Audrey's introductory post with our first steps toward Bramble Blooms I.  

First, the fabric pull.  A couple days ago I pulled a little tote filled with fat quarter +/- fabrics that was easily accessible and dumped them out.  I chose that multicolor floral fabric as my focus or starting point and began adding from there.

After a bit the pile had grown to this

I was pretty happy with this little pile, but realize it's heavy on the yellows and greens and a bit light on red/pinks, and have since added a couple more FQ size pieces.  I'm sure other bins will be raided as time goes by and I have an idea of where the quilt is heading.  I'm planning to do fabric pulls for the next quilts in the series once a suitable container is found to keep them, everything in here is already holding stash or scraps, or fabric pulls of other 'someday' projects.

I stitched the center panel this morning.

We had several glorious days last week, though it has now turned cold, rainy, and gray.  We were able to capture a few great photos of the ancient shagbark hickory tree before it lost its leaves.  Perhaps that's what contributed to the abundance of yellow/gold fabrics in this first fabric pull!  

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

An October Finish Anticipating the Holiday Season

This year's Christmas/holiday quilt is finally finished! I had a chance to take a few outdoor photos on the last warm and sunny day we had last week.

The leaves have been falling steadily for the past couple weeks.  This year's fall colors are somewhat muted and many trees are just dropping dry brown leaves, not having turned their usual bright display. Most likely due to our dry summer and the fact that we haven't had a cold snap with frosty nights yet. I haven't bothered to take my usual seasonal photos as a result.

The backing for this quilt is a very subtle cream print, a wide back from a few years ago.  I ditch quilted every single seam on the Janome and then hand quilted a cross-hatch in each block.  With the wool batting, the quilt is very lightweight and a bit puffy and soft.  The finished size is about 68x76 inches. And I should mention here that my inspiration for this quilt came from Gigi's Thimble blog here.
That plus a bin of some older French General and similar fabrics that had been calling my name for several years.

Next up in the hoop is my Vintage Spin top, the first block already quilted. Just a simple outline around the circles and next to the ditch in the light colored wedges.  If I can complete one block every 3 days this might just be another finish for the year.  Not promising anything at this point, but having fun with it so far.

Til next time, cherish each day and the blessings within. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Inching toward a Finish

Like the proverbial snail, slowly, ever so slowly, I'm moving toward a true-blue finish!  The last of the Christmas quilts I plan to make is finally all hand quilted, trimmed, and awaiting a binding, perhaps as early as week's end.  This is the top as it looked in late December last year.

In the latest of several glitches trying to get this one across the finish line - there were two potential red fabrics I had chosen as possible bindings.  My most favorite one that I for sure had enough of - just looked like it might be a bleeder, so several weeks ago I washed it in hot water with Synthrapol and predictably it did bleed.  After several more wash/rinse efforts, it appeared to have stopped the bleed, so it was dried and ironed.  Today, just before cutting into it, something told me to hand wash it once again - yep, a bleeder forever it seems.  It probably would be totally fine on a quilt with mostly dark fabrics and no whites, but sadly not for this quilt.  Second choice is an oldie Jinny Beyer fabric, probably 20 years old, a tried-and-true one that I love - but - likely not going to be enough to bind the entire quilt.  So, tonight a quick perusal of other reds to see if anything else in the stash might work.  Probably I'll end up with a pieced binding using two or three fabrics, not going to go out and try to buy anything at this point.

So, an update on the eye issue.  Saw a retina specialist a few days ago.  Turns out the latest issue which is really messing with my sight is fixable with one laser procedure!  In layman's terms it is a "secondary cataract" that developed behind the lens inserted when my cataract surgery was done four years ago. Medical term is posterior capsular opacification.  Interestingly, this is a very common occurrence after cataract surgery, showing up in about 50% of patients!  Who knew?  Fortunately it is very treatable, and the success rate is around 95%.  I feel blessed that there is a possibility that my sight may return to what it was early this year.  Just super impatient, since the first available opening the specialist has is the last week of November!  So, in the meantime, quilting is muddling along with one eye closed most of the time, otherwise I have no clear vision, near or distant.  Driving is limited to the country roads near us that are sparsely traveled, no city driving since I can't read the road signs at this point!

Hopefully, I'll be back with a finish soon.  Happy stitching!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

An improv log cabin top

 I guess it was finally time to take the plunge, away from the tightly controlled piecing, bland color combos, etc., and reach out for something that seems desperately needed right now - cheerful and bright! Fun, and easy!  

I have two  of my favorite quilty bloggers to thank for this latest adventure. First, Audrey at Quilty Folk who is one of the most creative quilters I've ever encountered, and never fails to inspire me.  She had a little giveaway several years ago, a small quilt top she had begun but lost interest in.  After receiving the piece shown below, I stashed it in a small tote adding bits and pieces of fabric I thought might coordinate, and there it sat for several years.

That little bird really wanted to be placed on-point, but as we all know, you can't always get what you want!

Anyhow, a couple months ago Linda at Kokaquilts posted her latest version of the "Daylesford Quilt", a pattern from Jen Kingwell's book Quilt Recipes.  I fell in love with her version and her creative take on the pattern.  And that was the inspiration for finally turning Audrey's start into a quilt top.

The Daylesford Quilt is basically one big log cabin block, round and round, with some rows and partial rows made up of individual quilt blocks rather than one long strip.  So, I have boxes of small quilt blocks left over from other projects, so I brought them out to play along rather than piecing the blocks indicated in the pattern.  

My "plan" was to incorporate a couple themes from Audrey's small quilt including the bird and her primary colors - pink, lime green and a bit of blue, mixing in some of my leftover blocks here and there. I had pieces of several fabrics with birds and so began with those. The next photo shows the first couple rounds. Adding those bits from previous quilts dictates the width of the next round (and sometimes the previous one).

Auditioning the next round:

Trying out a potential outer round that was later nixed.

I was happy with the top at this point, but it was way too small to become anything but a wallhanging, which we don't need. I love that I was able to use several of my leftover Quilty 365 blocks here.

What about this luscious iris print for the outside round/border?  Hemmed and hawed for a couple days over this, though I'd already cut a couple strips from the yardage ...

What if ...
That dark piece had to go.

Checked homespun to fill out the border - just right.  The last two rounds each have just two prints rather than four.  And we have a finished top - about 58x66 inches.

It feels so good to have had some quality stitching time after a summer of very little sewing other than finishing others' quilt tops for the auction.  And this easy-peasy piecing was just what I needed relative to the deterioration of my vision which has gotten much worse during the past couple months.  I ended up attaching a Sewing Edge Reusable Vinyl Stop to the bed of my Singer 201 so that I could guide the fabric through more by touch than sight to keep a consistent quarter inch seam.  We quilters always find a way!  And, I have an appointment with a retina specialist in another week.  Hopefully the current issues can be improved upon or at the very least kept from getting any worse.   

As for this quilt top, I love it!  It will be machine quilted, hopefully before too many months.  And this one is not going anywhere except to the back of my recliner or the couch for cozy warmth this winter.  

Til next time, happy stitching!

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

When the back becomes the front ...

 Great-grandgirl's quilt is finished at last, I'm happy to say.  A bit of angst in the making, but I think it has turned out all right in the end.  Here is the original front of the quilt after quilting:

I have to say when the top was complete I hated it.  Totally meh.  But there was hope in the remaining fabrics I'd selected for the back, and with a few additions from the scrap pile, and  careful placement and pinning of the layers I was able to turn the back into the new front!

Way more fun, don't you think?  Quilted very simply following the  lines of the blocks of the original front.  Done and dusted and awaiting baby's arrival in the fall.

Then in other quilty news, my version of Vintage Spin is a top!  This was totally fun in the making, and I'm thinking of making another using my tote of batik fabrics, if my eyes begin to cooperate again.  Been having some real issues, doctor's appt. next week and hoping for a resolution.  Right now I'm typing with one eye closed since the two eyes are not syncing at all and much blurriness and tearing much of the time.  Pressing onward, here's Vintage Spin:

I found this large print fabric in the totes, which is just quirky enough to become the major part of the backing for this quilt, I hope!  

This is surely a vintage fabric, thin but still sturdy enough for a backing.  It measures 38 inches wide.  There is only a little over 1-1/2 yards so will need to be bordered.  I'd love to know more about this fabric's origin and age if anyone out there has any ideas.  Here's another photo with the selvedge label.  I tried googling the name but only came up with totally irrelevant responses.

I'll close for now, hopefully back soon.  Keep smiling, keep stitching, and enjoy the rest of our summer months!  The temperature dropped to 44 degrees early this morning, a rather ominous sign for the first week of August!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Playing Catch-up - quilt finishes and around the farm

 Once again, I've fallen out of the habit of posting a couple times a month.  Not because I've given up quilting, not a chance!  Time, being what it is, seems to become more fleeting the older we get.  Anyhow, here's a quick catch-up on what I've been working on.

First up are a couple quilts that will be going to the camp auction over Labor Day.  I can't take credit for either of these, though I've worked on them,  as both tops were donated to our ministry by Nann of With Strings Attached.  

This one was machine quilted and bound by yours truly.  It's a nice queen coverlet size.

A close-up - hopefully you can see a bit of the quilting:

The second top is Nann's rendition of a Bonnie Hunter mystery pattern called Rhododendron Trail.  Isn't it just beautiful!  A local long-arm quilter donated her services for this one, I just provided the batting, backing fabric and bound it.  

This one will fit either a queen or king bed.   A close-up:

I finished another quilt destined for the ministry.  Not sure yet if it will go to the auction, though at the moment I'm thinking we will save it for a local need over the winter months when there always seem to be displaced families due to house fires.  I showed the completed top in an earlier post.  I quilted in the  ditch along the blue horizontal sashings and did loopy meanders over the individual blocks.  A preschooler quilt, large enough for a toddler or bunk bed.  Lots of fun I-spy blocks in this one.

We learned a while ago that we will be great-grandparents in mid-October, and I recently started on a baby quilt for the little one - a girl(!).  I have no illusions about this baby quilt becoming an heirloom, especially since the young couple already has two german shepherds in their small home!  So, simple and quick is the mantra of the day.  The top was completed this evening.  A pieced backing to come, mostly pink and yellow, with a lot less blue than the top.

Did I say this baby is a girl!  All the grandparents are so excited as we do not have many girl children in this family!  Of our nine grands, only two are girls, so this is a great start for the newest generation.

At our recent quilt ministry meetings I've begun cutting and piecing stars that hopefully will eventually become a camp auction donation for next year.  No idea just yet what the eventual pattern will be though I've wanted to make a strippy quilt for some time and have a couple inspiration quilts bookmarked.  We'll just see what happens in the next few months.

On the home front, we finally have the vegetable garden almost all planted.  Very late due to some unseasonably late freezes that decimated all our fruit trees.  Many local folks who planted at the usual time lost a lot of their crops.  The local Amish farms that sell strawberries are reporting a very short and sparse season.  I'm thankful our blueberries bloomed late and we seem to have a good crop coming along.  Our perennial flowers are late too, some of the peonies are just now opening, all but one of the irises were killed off in the late freezes, the red poppies are finally in bloom (they're usually blooming for Memorial Day) and so on.  I took a little walk about yesterday and snapped a few photos.

There is a row of these beauties along the south side of the garage this year - volunteers as far as we can tell because neither of us can recall planting them there!  These poppies have a habit of coming up far from where their seeds were sown the previous year!  We're always delighted to see them wherever they pop up though.
The latest peony so far - and my favorite.

Poppies by the front porch.  The eastern phoebe couple has decided to honor us again this year by building their nest atop the porch posts - yes - posts!  Mama rejected last year's nest earlier this spring and built a new nest on the post that hadn't had a nest in all the years we've been here.  After her five fledglings left that nest early last week, a couple days later mama bird was back rebuilding last year's nest on the opposite post and is now setting her second brood for the year.  They are such fun to watch right outside our living room window, and so diligent in feeding their babies all the insects we're happy to have gone from the yard.  

A quick peek at a couple of the hanging baskets on our covered back porch - my favorite place for mid-morning lattes and sometimes lunch.  I love this first begonia's two-tone flowers, and hope I can successfully root some leaf cuttings soon.

We also made up a couple of our own baskets using small nursery plants and hoping they would fill out nicely as summer progresses.  This next one is my favorite.

I guess that's probably more than enough for one night!   Thanks for reading, and happy stitching!