Saturday, October 6, 2018

Sajou, and a new pinkeep

I don't do many SALs anymore, but when Lori (humblequilts blog) starts one of her little doll quilt SALs, I have a hard time resisting. Well, actually, I don't even try to resist. But my downfall with SALs is that if I fall behind I tend to drop out. So when I learned that Lori was starting her SAL just before we cross the country for Massachusetts, I knew I had to scramble to get this stage completed before we left.
So here you have my version of step one of Sanjou.
I didn't set out to make a patriotic quilt, but the French General print I envisioned for the center had too large a design. As I kept digging through the stash to find something else, this print (which I think I got from Barb) was the first design that worked, so I ran with it. I kind of went overboard on the fussy-cutting.
In fact, Lori said we should find something like a striped print for a future step, but I think I may have already over-striped mine. We'll see what happens when that part comes.

This is the only other sewing since my last post.
This pinkeep kit was the little surprise that came when you preordered Pam Buda's new book. I just tweaked it a little.

You can see the pattern in the photo below. I fussy-cut some stars from a Barbara Brackman fabric that was in the pile of patriotic fabrics I was sorting through to make Sanjou.

At first I was just going to put one in the center, but then the corners starting begging for one, and I couldn't resist.
Love this new book. I am pretty strict with myself about purchasing new books, but I couldn't resist this one. It has a dozen sweet little projects, and each one is named for a classic work of literature.
I will be absent for a while, but will check back in when we return to our little mountain valley.
Until next time, 
Janet O.

I'll leave you with some shots from around the farm. You can click to enlarge.

I've had fun observing these three Sandhill Sandhill Cranes that have been hanging around. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

September Mini--barely

Wendy issued an invitation at the beginning of the year for anyone who would like to join her in making a mini a month. Mine are usually just squeaking under the wire--like this one.

When I realized the month was almost over, and my time at home was very limited, I decided to quilt up a top I already had made. This little quilt has a story behind it.

My Mom was always making bed quilts to give to family members. Each time she started a new one Dad would tease that maybe this one would finally be for him. So when she started on a quilt that came to be known in the family as "The Cowboy Quilt", Dad asked if this one was his and she surprised him by saying yes. 

I made this little basket wall hanging almost entirely out of leftover pieces from the making of the cowboy quilt, that did in fact become Dad's (and since Dad's passing, my brother owns The Cowboy quilt). The only exception is that the blue sashing and binding are made from pieces of my Dad's favorite shirt.

That shirt had become so threadbare in places, I had to cut carefully to get the strips I needed. It is a little curly in one corner in the photo above. I hadn't finished the binding yet and the pins that were holding it down distorted the corner.

The quilting is just  stitch-in-the-ditch on the basket blocks and around the sashing. I did a simple rope design in the border. That is a quick "go to" design for me when I don't want to feather a border.

The backing fabric has little blue flowers, and you will notice that the baskets are holding something blue as well. There is significance to that. Mom has always joked with us about a couple of songs that she says we should sing at her funeral one day. One song references gathering armfuls of blossoms of blue, and ends with the line "Dear Mother, all flowers remind me of you." 

We recently learned of the origins of the song and it makes the whole thing rather melancholy, but I didn't know the origin when I planned this quilt, and that song was going through my mind the whole time I worked on it.

That's it for now. Quite a lack of sewing time lately.
Until next time, 
Janet O.

Oops, I forgot to announce the winner of the drawing. :)
Brenda's name was drawn from those interested. Please send me your snail mail address Brenda, and I will get this little package sent your way.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Last block sewn!

You've seen a lot of this one, I know. It was started back in March, just a couple of weeks before my shoulder surgery. Since the logs were mostly already cut (thanks to Karen), this was one of the few things I could work on when a rotary cutter was off limits.
Can't wait to start trimming the blocks and sewing things together! A fun story about this--while we had all the family staying with us in August, our youngest son was using my sewing room for his room. During his stay there he had a video job interview for his dream job and he filmed it with this as the backdrop. When he got called in for the live interview his video backdrop was one of the first things the interviewers mentioned. And yes, he got the job! :)
It is a good thing they couldn't see the whole wall, because it isn't very neat. 
This is things as they really are. I am often pinning things onto the edges of my design wall, and as my main focus project grows, I remove or squish together those items, as needed.
Notice on the left side, about midway down, I have the recently made tiny 9-patch flimsy hanging from a cute little quilt holder a sweet blog friend had sent a few years back. I was auditioning it to see how it would look in that holder. Then I noticed the fun contrast to see those tiny blocks next to the large ones in the half log cabin.

I also have my Jewel Box mini blocks made and have started stitching it together since I took this photo. But I am running into all kinds of issues with seams not being pressed in directions that will nest together. I don't want to press seams open because I want to stitch in the ditch, so where I can, I need to do some repressing.

And remember this mess in the sewing room closet?

Now it looks like this...

This makes me so much happier when I open the closet doors!
In two weeks I cut up 14 dozen shirts, piled up another 2 dozen to go back to the thrift store , and threw away about a dozen that I had started to cut apart and realized the weave was too coarse, or too textured, or too loose. Many of those were purchased in my early days of collecting. Now I know better what works and what doesn't.
And I can look forward to working with more of these plaids and stripes in future projects. I have a few in mind already. No surprise there. :)

In the past four months I have tried to give this pattern and scrap bundle away twice, but each time I picked a name and posted the winner, asking them to get back to me with their address, they never responded.  

They say the third time's the charm, so I am putting that to the test. If you are interested in this doll quilt pattern and CW repro scraps, say so in your comment, and then please check back to see if you won. To sweeten the pot, last soap making session I made some fun Fall shapes, and I will throw in a couple of bars.

Next month I will be in the Lenox, MA area for a few days. Anyone know of a quilt shop in the vicinity that would be a "must visit" for a CW repro fabric lover?

Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, September 7, 2018

I am such a cut-up!

At least I have been for the past few days. In trying to restore my sewing room, after it had been a guest room for 10 days, I fell down a rabbit hole and haven't yet emerged.
If you saw my recent post about plaids, you know I like making quilts from shirts.
My sewing room closet is where I have tossed stored my thrift store shirts. As I was pulling the things out of my closet that had gone in hiding while family was staying with us, I saw the shirts that were spilling from their containers and piling up on the closet floor.
I had been thinking about using some shirts for a baby quilt, but every time I think about using them, I remember that they need cutting apart, and that halts me in my tracks.
So, I started cutting. Not at all what I had planned on doing this week!

Many of you are familiar with Bonnie Hunter's video showing how to cut apart a shirt (she calls it de-boning). She says you should do it with a good pair of dressmaker's shears--that a rotary cutter and mat are not the best way to go.
For me, they are the best option. My hands do not like all of that cutting motion, and using a new blade in my rotary cutter is much easier on my cutting hand. I get a shirt taken apart in 5 or 6 minutes.

Bonnie uses every bit of fabric--even the "gizzard", as she calls it. I used to do that, too. But as I started cutting up these shirts, I quickly realized that my time was not going to allow me to get it all. Besides, many of the small bits she says go in the "string bucket". I don't do strings, so I don't need to fill that bucket.

I used to be very good about cutting apart collars, and cuffs--and saving all of the buttons, too. This time I threw away the collars, and just set aside the button plackets and cuffs. I am not sure why, because I don't plan to save them. But at the moment I couldn't bring myself to put them in the garbage bag. Anyone feeling a need for a bunch of buttons and cuffs? :)
As I have been sorting through the shirts I am finding some that I now realize are too coarse, or heavy to use in regular or miniature piecing. I have cut those types of shirts into 8 1/2" squares and made a couple of piles for making simple picnic quilts. One pile is red/tan/blue, and the other is Fall colors.
So far I have gone through over 7 dozen shirts! It feels good, but I am not even quite halfway through! I have really been focused on it this week, but I will have to take a step back  after this. I still hope that by the end of this month I will have all of the shirts cut apart and nicely stored in usable form, as they are on the shelves on the right, below.
 Aside from the neutral shirts you see above, I still have a bunch of brown/black, a basket of yellow/gold, a pile of orange/rust, another tub of navy blue, and a bin of white/bright/pastel.
I think I need an intervention at the thrift store!! But my new rule is that I cannot buy any more shirts until these are all cut apart, and even then it has to be because I need a certain color, AND I have to cut it up as soon as I get it home!

Now, in more interesting news, my little quilt from Randy arrived yesterday!
When I posted it before, it was just from photos Randy had sent me. Now it is in my home, and it is even more lovely in person!

Thank you, Randy, for another delightful swap, and the lovely blank book you included with it, that I forgot to photograph. As always, it is a pleasure swapping with you!

I must confess that I still haven't taken down the patriotic quilts and decor around the house, but I am so ready to be done with hot, dry days! Bring on Fall, and the quilts in Fall colors!

Until next time,
Janet O.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August Mini of the Month, and Swapping Minis

Originally I had lined up 3 mini quilt swaps for 2018. Not one of them has gone/is going according to plan, and that is fine. Life happens.
First up is my August mini for the Mini a Month SAL with Wendy (constantquilter blog). I made it for my swap with Randy.
Randy (barristersblock blog) and I had decided on a basket theme for this year (which we were originally going to complete in May or June), in repro fabrics and somewhere in the vicinity of 12" square. This is what I ended up making for her.
I think this finished at a little over 11" square. The baskets finish at 2", and the pieced sashing is 1" wide.
I had a really hard time settling on the final design of this quilt. Initially I made 9 baskets and in my mind I planned to place them on point with a scrappy variety of setting squares. But when I tested it out, I wasn't excited about the results.
These weren't necessarily the fabrics I would have used for setting squares. I just grabbed some random mini charm squares to try out the idea, once the basket blocks were made. But it didn't click.

Next I tried eliminating one basket (remember the one that didn't make the cut?), and using leftover bits of 1" wide bindings to simulate sashing.

Hmmm, the navy blue sashing seemed too intense for these blocks, but I couldn't find any other color I liked with them any better.
Then something came to my mind. A few years ago Pam Buda designed a quilt named Every Little Bit. It was published in the June 2015 American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. It is a churn dash design, but the "bar" section of the block is foundation pieced with tiny bits of fabric. It immediately grabbed me, and I have longed to make it, but have been afraid to start it. You can see her post about it here.
I wondered if those foundations from that design would work as sashings for my baskets. I dropped 3 more baskets, pulled in some 4-patches for the cornerstones, and I had found my design!

This gives you a better size perspective of the work when it was in progress.

I used a vintage looking muslin for the setting triangles, so I could quilt some feathers.

I find I get in the zone when I quilt feathers. What used to make me crazy now soothes my soul.

This is what Randy made for me. Isn't it sweet? And I really like the corner blocks--very clever. You can see Randy's post about it here.
It is based on a Lisa Bongean design, and aren't those fabrics pretty?
Love the wool basket in the center.

The funny thing is, Randy and I have not received our quilts from each other yet. We agreed to share photos of them with each other so that we could post our August minis before the month is over. :)

My first swap of this year was to be with my friend Kris (lavenderquilts blog). We had planned to swap sometime during the first quarter of the year, and I squeaked under the wire, getting mine to her just before I went under the knife for shoulder surgery the end of March. 
Well, Kris has been a bit busy, what with vending at quilt shows, and basically rebuilding the fixer-upper she and her brother live in. I wasn't worried. I knew she would get it done.
Today, out of the blue there was a package from her.
She knows how to do presentation. 

Underneath all that pretty wrapping I found these delights. Lovely fabrics in two colors Kris knows I love, some Aurifil thread (which she also knows I love), the new book of Quirky Little Quilts from Temecula (aren't you sneaky, Kris?), and her wonderful little swap quilt! A very generous package!
Look at those beautiful chains criss-crossing the quilt (I love chains), and notice the fussy-cut centers in the setting squares. This quilt is subtle, and it draws you in for a closer look at the details.
Kris is new to longarm quilting, and she has quilted a pretty floral pattern across the quilt.
My quilt to Kris was my March mini (which you have seen several times). You can find it here.
My final swap for this year is with Mary (quiltin'grandma's blog). It was supposed to be happening soon, but we have mutually agreed to postpone for now. 
My sewing room is currently serving as a guest room, but I prepped some handwork, if I should find the time. But right now it is all about family! It will be over all too soon!
Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Jewel Box made of scraps

Jewel Box is a traditional quilt pattern I have always admired. So when I started seeing quilts made from this pattern on a few blogs lately, I had a hard time resisting.

It is still a work in progress, but you get the idea. The individual four-patches will finish at 1".
It wasn't hard to get this far when I had a pile of these leftover from one secret project...

...and a bunch of these leftover from another secret project.

One of those secret projects is my August entry for the Mini of the Month with Wendy, and it will be revealed sometime next week. It was made for a "basket" mini quilt swap with Randy. Until then, I will give you another little peek.
Really gave it away there, didn't I? :)

The only other stitching I have done that I can show is a little bit of work on my lifetime hexie project, while on a quick trip over the mountain recently. I started a new flower.

In case you are new here, this is my project box for this little quilt. I keep a printout of the quilt taped into the top of the box, and I cross off each flower or star as I get it made.

I would like to start stitching together the parts I have made--sometime when I am in the mood to work on hexies. Except that never happens. :)
I love hexie quilts, but have no fondness for the process. 

We have family visiting for the next week or so. I won't be stitching or visiting blogs much, but I will be back sometime next week to post about my swap with Randy.
Until then,
Janet O.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Just a few little things

I have been absent for over 3 weeks, and I have very little to show for it. Part of that is because I have sewn very little during that time, and part of it is because I have spent some of the scant sewing time on projects I cannot share at present. Don't you hate that?
This is the only thing that has seen major progress.

If it seems strangely familiar, it is because it is the reverse value to this quilt that was my March Mini.
I put a border on the one above, thinking I wanted to quilt feathers in it. Now that I see them together, I am wondering if I want to remove the light outer border.
The March mini was made with cool purples for the setting, and the one above is using warm purples in the setting squares and triangles. To me it creates a totally different feel from one to the other. 

One of my "secret projects" is a mini quilt swap with Randy. We had planned on exchanging months ago, but this has not been a good year for deadlines in my life.
Our rules this time around are using a basket theme and civil war repros. I don't recall now if we designated a size. I think we said no larger than 12", but I could be wrong. That is how I am going to work.
I will show you the first "trial" basket I made, because it didn't make the cut. I have changed them up a bit since making this one.
This has been a crazy busy summer. I know I am not alone in thinking that. Between my son's wedding, my Mom's fall,  continued therapy on my shoulder, 3 family reunions (one of which involved camping), yardwork, housework, and finances at my house and my Mom's house, and now my Mom's basement flooding, I am ready for a change in tempo!
Last month, on the 24th, would have been my Dad's 95th birthday. That evening I drove the 15 miles or so to the little hillside country cemetery in the small farming community where he was born. My sister and some of her family were just leaving when I arrived. After that I was alone with my thoughts and the peace and calm of that place. It was soothing to my soul, and I reflect on that now as there is very little calm in my life at present.
Until next time,
Janet O.