Sunday, July 20, 2014

Faithful progress

If I focused on the number of HST in the finished blocks, (80 in each) I might not have started these Faithful blocks from Lori at Humble Quilts.   But instead I'm focusing on the fun of the busy jumble of colors and fabrics, and I'm enjoying the whole process.

These are entirely from stash and scraps.  The block centers and strips will be mainly CWar repro fabrics.  With the HST, anything goes.  Some of my HST don't have the sharp light/dark contrast, included just for the variety.  A little white here and there, but not very much. 

My goal is 12 blocks, and I'll be sure to add a few more lighter strip borders, like the cheddar and the pink.  I like adding those strips of fabric after each round of HST.  No, actually I need them. They help keep my measurements honest.

The light square in the lower left 4-patch center bothers me, but I'll probably let it go.  It wasn't so obvious till I saw a photo.  That square blends into the busy border strip.   It'll eventually be lost in the jumble of fabrics (I hope).

Life-getting-in-the-way issues have limited my sewing time this week.
-- Helping a daughter house hunt.
-- Bank visits to deal with -- hmm -- let's just say "stuff." 
-- Removal of a sore, fungal toenail (healing fine with daily soaks, but boy, it looks ugly just 3 days post-op). 
-- My MIL fell, suffered an alveolar fracture (upper jaw), lost a tooth, and her other front teeth are wired in place while the bone heals.  The oral surgeon was patient and kind to my MIL.  He told her she'll be a 91-year-old who looks like a 14-year-old wearing braces.

Soft food shopping was in order.  Individual servings of applesauce, jello, and pudding were easy choices.  But baby food was different.  I haven't been baby food shopping for years.  I like the easy-open plastic containers.  That will be easier for my MIL to use, and recycling will be easy too.  All those little empty glass jars bothered me back in the days of my babies, before recycling. 

Baby food options surprised me, but they shouldn't have.  These days, we have choices for everything on a shopping list.  I could choose between glass or plastic Gerber packaging.   "Organic" or not.  Single foods or a combo.  Some food combos showed creativity.  Garden veggies together -- OK, that's logical.  Apples and chicken?  A creative mind certainly came up with that one.

center 4-patch has been changed

UPDATE -- 5 p.m. on Sunday. 
I just couldn't tolerate that single lighter square in the 4-patch center of the Faithful block.  So I took it out and replaced it with a brown square.  Whew !! -- now I can sleep soundly tonight.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A scrappy week

one Faithful block done, 3 more started
Scraps have been trimmed, stacked, arranged, and sewn for a week.  I'm working on my "Faithful" WIP and one new project.  Faithful was a quiltalong project led by Lori at Humble Quilts last year.   I made one block then, and my goal is to make a large quilt using 12 of the 17-1/2" blocks. 

I don't have much progress to show on the actual block sewing, but I have overflowing containers of 1-1/2" HST and 1-3/4" HST and 2-1/2" HST  trimmed and ready to go. The blocks are oh-so-easy to begin, starting with a simple 6" finished center.
Top, F& P quilt;  below, antique inspiration

Sorting through some old magazines a while back, a blue and white quilt in the July/August 2011 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting  looked familiar.  On the last page of the article (photo at left), a color layout for the F&P quilt was shown next to the antique quilt which was its inspiration.  This is the same antique quilt that was Lori's inspiration for her quiltalong.  I definitely prefer the colors in the antique. 

Eventually my quilt will have 432 of the 1-1/2" HST, 528 of the 1-3/4" HST, and 237 2-1/2" HST will be used as sashing.  The majority of those HST are ready to go, so I'm well on my way with this scrappy, scrappy quilt. 

A  new project is "Trail Mix" by Mabeth Oxenreider.  The pattern is in June 2004 "American Patchwork & Quilting" magazine, and it's the cover quilt on this book.  (I know I've seen it in at least one other book I own.)   It doesn't have a single triangle in it, so it's a nice change from all those HST.

I made samples of each of the 5 blocks in it.  Each finishes at 6 inches.  Then I couldn't stop myself and made all 32 of the simplest block, the 4-patch.  It didn't take much time at all, thanks to a packed shoebox of 3-1/2" squares cut from scraps.

5 kinds of blocks used in Trail Mix
When I make the other blocks, it will be one kind at a time with no hopping around.  (That was a recommendation from Karen at Nana Girl Quilts.)  She made her blocks from hardest to simplest.  I made simple blocks first. 

For inquisitive minds, the blocks needed are:
32 four-patch blocks (32 done
38 double 4-patch blocks (6 done)
44 triple 4-patch  blocks (3 done)
42 uneven 9-patch blocks (2 done)
24 double 9-patch blocks  (2 done)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dolly quilt for a new bed

dolly bed with its new quilt
A new bed deserves a new quilt.  I bought a little twig dolly bed at a gift shop several weeks ago (16" long, 9-1/2" wide, 12" tall at the headboard).  I made a little quilt top for it this weekend, to be quilted soon with simple, big stitches.  No pattern.  I used scraps, leftovers from previous projects, and random cuts of CW repro fabrics for its scrappy look.  (All photos enlarge with a couple clicks.) 

quilt top is 13-1/2" x 14-1/2" -- ready to be quilted
I felt the cost of the bed was quite reasonable ($20), especially since it included a red gingham mattress and matching pillow.  
mattress and pillow came with the dolly bed

My final four basket blocks from Wendy at Legend and Lace are done.  The last ones made are the group of four, bottom center in the photo.

I'm playing around with layouts.  I want a larger finished quilt, and I need more baskets and some alternate blocks.  Maybe I'll add sawtooth stars or hourglass blocks.  A random assortment of simple blocks is another option I've seen online. 

complete group of 8" basket blocks
The bright yellow square in the upper left basket stands out with its one-of-a-kind brightness.  I think that one needs to be replaced.   The scrappiness of the baskets is pleasing to me, but that one square is just too bright.

Looking at the dozen blocks, I know which ones I'd like to make again.   They weren't the simplest to make, but my favorites are the ones with appliqued handles, especially the Blueberry Block (center basket of the center row).  I always enjoy seeing basket quilts in person or in magazines or books, and this will be the first one for me. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Quilt in a bag + a box

100's of 2" squares ready for new project
Lucky me.  I bought a bag of 2" squares for $1 at our friend's garage sale last month.   I didn't realize how many were in the bag till I started sorting.   My guess is 500-550 squares.  The majority are Thimbleberries fabrics.   The little stacks in the photo are 8-10 squares high. 
I also have a plastic bin filled with more 2" squares I've been cutting from scraps.  Between the bag and the box, I have supplies for a large quilt.   

Georgia's quilt--2" squares fused to interfacing
I want to use them to make a big stash buster, maybe like this one.  I wrote about Georgia's scrappy quilt here in April.  It's made from 2" squares that she fused to lightweight grid interfacing.  (Tutorials can be found several places online.)   No matter which design I follow, I'll probably brighten the Thimbleberries fabrics by adding some purple, orange, turquoise, and bright red to the fabric mix.

Wendy at Legend and Lace has given instructions for her final 8" basket block (12 free patterns).  I've finished 4 more of them (not in order).  No idea yet how I'll put them together into a quilt.  
8" baskets from Wendy's "Baskets Galore" BOM

I like the variety of baskets from Wendy.   Each has been a  learning experience.  I found that I like appliqued handles, but I don't do well with set-in seams.  The basket on the right in the photo was a challenge.  The green and red "flower" pieces don't lie flat (yet). 

It's been a busy summer.  Never a dull moment.  
I grew up on a farm in northeastern Iowa, the oldest of 6 kids.  The farm has been in our family for 150 years (5 generations).  Currently our brother Walt, his wife, and two sons run a dairy farm, Wesselcrest Holsteins.  Their herd of 200 cows is milked by robotics.

Last week 5 of us kids (plus extra family members and neighbors) worked together to prepare for a tour.  Six big tour buses arrived at the farm, filled with members of the National Holstein Association (from around the U.S. and Canada).   We all helped prepare for the tour and then served refreshments to the touring visitors.  Busy day!
Scully -- she will be missed

The low point of the summer was Sunday.   I drove in a rush to the home of DD1 to help her.  Her 10-year-old dog Scully, a puggle (pug + beagle mix), was in major distress with trouble breathing and non-typical behavior.  An occasional seizure in the past couple months had progressed to multiple seizures on Sunday.  
Unfortunately, her dog died shortly after we got to the ER vet clinic.   DD1 had her since she was a puppy -- a little bundle of attitude and personality from the beginning.  There's nothing I can say to ease her grief.  Our entire family will miss Scully. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

EPP in excess

1-inch hexagons plus diamonds, sitting on Kona mulberry
Hand quilting is not my preference, if I have a choice, so I'm kind of surprised to find that I'm working on 3 EPP projects.  Two were actually UFOs, with no progress on them for months and months.  But now they're out and active.   The third EPP project is the Lucy Boston POTC that I'm just beginning. 

more hexagon flowers waiting for their black diamonds
Since my last post, I now have several yards of Kona "mulberry."  This first photo shows my basic  plan.  Adding 6 black diamonds to a hexagon flower turns it into one large hexagon.  Rows of flowers will be joined by mulberry triangles, and beyond that, I don't know what I'll do.  Something will come to mind eventually.   I'm not skilled enough with my EQ computer program to figure out a total plan.  (That's another thing on my to-do list--learn how to use the program.)   My 60-70 hexagon flowers made so far are a plethora of colors and styles.  Hopefully the mulberry fabric will unify them. 

A second Lucy Boston block is finished.  I'm still not ready to show the back, as my pressing skills are suspect.  My first block was sewn totally by hand.  This one was sewn totally by machine.  I'm experimenting to see how both versions go.  No preference yet.  My friends are all using EPP templates to make their blocks, but I'll be marking stitching lines on my honeycombs and stitching some by hand, some by machine.
Lucy Boston block #2

My third EPP project is my castle wall blocks that I first wrote about here.  I have 17 blocks finished, and 5 or 6 connector segments done.  My target number is either 30 or 42 blocks.  I sound wishy-washy.  I'm in the middle of a project, and I'm not sure how big I'm making it.  Maybe it will be a bed-sized quilt, or maybe a smaller lap-sized quilt so  I can go on to another project sooner.

castle wall blocks
The final photo shows my castle wall blocks on the design wall,  with a few connector blocks stuck in between.  I'm using many William Morris style prints that I love, blues, greens, and pinks.  Vertical rows of blocks will be connected with single, elongated honeycombs, and connector sections between rows are more detailed.  In my haste to get them up and photographed, seam allowances are overlapping each other on the design wall, distorting the block shapes.  

When I get together for a day with the Mavens, my hand-quilting friends, I have a great trio of projects to choose from.    

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Don't trust your monitor

what I wanted on the right; what I got, on the left
Lesson learned, and I'm paying for it with my checkbook.   I thought I could ignore advice I've read for years.  
"Don't trust colors as they appear on your monitor."   No kidding!!

In my last post I mentioned ordering fabric for a project with my flower hexagons.  I want a nice dark-orchid purple, a color I've seen described as "elderberry." 

I thought I'd found the perfect color on the Thousands of Bolts website.   The company quickly shipped my order.   My stomach lurched when I opened the package this afternoon.  The color is all wrong.  It's not the company's fault.  I should have known better than to order by monitor alone.

It's quite a color difference, and there's no way this fabric will work.  I now have several yards of a lovely  backing. Dark bright pink is not a color I typically use.  Oh well -- more shopping ahead, this time in person. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reflections on a garage sale

my new bag and its hidden treasure
A successful garage sale for a retiring quilter, manned by my friends and me, is over.  After all the work, I started typing a long diatribe with warnings about buying too much, the dangers of an overwhelming stash, and the work our relatives and friends will have in the future, dealing with our stuff.

Forget it.  I deleted that lecture.  You know who are and you know your habits, both good and bad. You know the consequences.  There will be  no lecture from me.  

I don't need a thing (we ALL say that, don't we?), but there were so many bargains. I brought home fabric, books, notions, and magazines.
patriotic supplies for my next lap-sized share Q
My favorite purchase was a bag that sat unsold for 1-1/2 days.   It was one of the quilter's many unfinished projects, needing only a handle made and put through the 8 giant grommets.  The bag was $2 the first day, marked down to $1 the second day.  I eventually claimed it as mine.   Later I checked to see how many interior pockets it had--and inside one I found a $5 bill !!  No clue why money was in an unfinished bag, but it was my lucky day.  

This red/tan/blue star is a 25" x 25" unfinished project from the sale.  I'll add borders to make it a rectangle, incorporating 12 patriotic pictures from a panel I already had.  Extra red or blue to be added--not sure which yet.  I'll find what I need in my healthy stash.

my previous layout plan -- but this is now taken apart
Since the weekend, I've spent hours going through dozens of old "Quilter's Newsletter Magazines" found at the sale.   Most were from the late 1980s and early 1990s.   I've reduced the bundles to a stack of saved articles and pictures "for inspiration only."   

One picture of an antique quilt has inspired me and won't let go.  No pattern--just a photo of an old quilt lying in a berry patch.  As a result, I've changed my plans for hexagon flowers I've made off and on over past years.  My original design was to surround the flowers with green hexagons and call it done.  But the green hexagons have now been removed.

I'll show my new plans another day.  I'll be trying to replicate the look of that old quilt from the photo.  To be honest, I had to order some new EPP templates and one specific new fabric to work on this new plan.   (Currently hanging my head in shame -- sighing deeply.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Combining UFOs

my starting block for a Round Robin
My quilting focus lately keeps going back to UFOs.   Our guild had a "finish your UFOs" project this past year, and I keep checking my list, working on them now and then.   This past weekend at a quilting retreat, I worked on two UFOs that will eventually be combined together.

Two years ago we had a round robin project at guild, and this red/white/aqua block was my 12" starter block, #82 in "Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks" magazine, volume 1.  It's by Kim Brackett, author of the very popular Scrap-Basket books.   Instructions to my round robin group were to make pieced blocks using red, turquoise, and white fabrics.  The round robin involved making 12" and 6" blocks and leaving them unattached, not adding rounds to a quilt. 

my project blocks so far, waiting for a layout plan
A couple years before the round robin, I participated in a Thangles "Buck A Block" monthly project at our LQS.  The monthly kits had 1-3/4" Thangles and strips of white and red fabrics.

I'm going to combine my round robin blocks and the Thangles blocks into one quilt.   The challenge is that  I'm dealing with 6" and 12" round robin blocks, and the Thangles blocks finish at 7".   I'll eventually come up with a plan.  Right now my goal is to turn the red-and-white kits into assorted 7" blocks (with red stash fabric added here and there), and I'm making turquoise-and-white blocks from my stash.
Coping strips or borders will come into play before this project is done.  I like these three colors together.  Crisp and clean.

In the "group photo," the 9 two-color blocks in the top right section are made from 1-3/4" and 3-1/2" Thangles.  All other blocks are from the round robin project.   They will all be subject to change in the future, once I make my plan.

I'm heading to a friend's garage to help set up a weekend garage sale for a retiring quilter.  Many hands help the work go quickly. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

One new project and finishing others

my "practice" POTC block
This is my first Lucy Boston block.  If you're not familiar, google "POTC" or "Patchwork of the Cross."  Ours will be a group-driven project, as my hand-stitching/quilting friends (the Mavens) and I are starting at the same time. 

Our group EPP expert Becci and I are both familiar with Lucy Boston and her POTC.  We talked about both the challenge and the fussy-cutting-fun of it, and most of our group decided to join in.  After a group order for acrylic cutting templates and paper pieces from, and then a group order for the Linda Franz book, we're ready to go. 

Becci is working with the 1" honeycomb template papers, and I'm using the acrylic template as a view-finder and for cutting my honeycombs. Some I'll trace first and then cut with scissors;  some I'll cut out directly with my small rotary cutter. 

My first block was a learning experience.  The Linda Franz book offers options and suggestions, lovely photos and clear illustrations.   The blocks went together well, hand sewn into groups, per her suggestion.

MidWinter Blues 21" x 21"
Lesson #1 -- Pressing can be a challenge.  Photos online of neat, impressive backs of blocks don't look like mine.  Mine lies flat, but the back is not photo-worthy.  I followed the author's suggestion to press seams to the side, clockwise or counterclockwise around each intersection.   I'll do better next time.

Lesson #2 -- The fussy-cut purple trees were worth the effort and show up in the finished block.  But I wasted time fussy cutting the rows of blue leaves and the pink floral sprays.  In future blocks, I'll remember that details of small scale prints won't show up as well as parts of larger scale prints.

Now, some finished projects.   My little MidWinter Blues is hand quilted, bound, and labeled.   It was from Lori's (Humble Quilts) quiltalong.
38" x 50" lap quilt for guild from UFO

A 10-year-old UFO is marked as done.  Assorted blocks were leftovers from the 2004 Thimbleberries Club. I added two 12" blocks from an old BOM project, then vertical strips and borders.  I have another lap quilt for guild (and an empty box).

The lavender churndash lap quilt was made from a stack of finished batik blocks I found at a garage sale.  Just adding my sashing fabric made another lap-size quilt. 

36" x 46" lap quilt for guild
The next couple weeks will be busy with assorted quilt-related meetings and events.   I'll make time to finish these lap quilts and maybe get a chance to work on a few more.
As we near the end of our guild's year, we're finishing as much as possible before new officers begin their duties. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quilts coming back home

summer quilt -- 59 x 66"
While visiting my son and his family here in the Augusta, GA, area this week, I've been doing a bit of hand stitching.  So far there's nothing worthy of show-and-tell.
DH contacted me today, telling me that 4 quilts I gave away a few years ago have been offered back to me.  I worked on-site at a women's health center, and I made four seasonal quilts for them. 

The health center is moving to a new location in a month, and because the quilts I made are not fireproofed, they will not be taken along.   First chance at the quilts is mine, if I'm interested.

autumn quilt -- 54 x 68"

I wrote about quilts for that health center in this early post.  The first 4 seasonal quilts I made for the center were finished when I was a beginning quilter.  They were simple quilts.
A few years later, I offered to replace the early quilts with more interesting ones.  These interesting ones are the ones I'll be getting back.
winter quilt -- 51 x 71"

I really enjoyed making the summer quilt, and  I'm happiest to be getting that one back.  The center is a pre-printed panel, and I found ideas to enlarge it here and there in books and magazines .

second spring Q -- 56 x 65"
The autumn quilt was the cover quilt on "Favorite Quilts from Anka's Treasures" by Heather M. Peterson.

Ideas in Susan Dissmore's "Clever Quilts Encore" helped me enlarge a pre-printed snowman panel with color strips in a fun setting.    

A pre-printed panel by Sandy Gervais was cut up and turned into this pastel replacement spring quilt.
However, this one was also replaced.

third spring Q -- 58 x 70"
An employee of the health center (on her own) told me she thought the spring Q was for babies and children, not for a women's health center.  She didn't like looking at it while sitting at her desk.  If you're wondering, yes, she knew I was the quilter who made those seasonal quilts. 

I   was   upset.  I felt the pastel quilt was an appropriate option for spring--a nice change from the other 3 quilts.  I did not tell anyone at the clinic what she said.  A week after her comments, with an adrenaline rush, I turned a top into a quilt to replace the pastel quilt.   The bolder, brighter quilt was from a pattern in Kim Brackett's first book "Scrap-Basket Surprises."  I didn't worry about whether it represented spring.  It was simply a replacement.

I'm looking forward to having my quilts come back home. 


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