Saturday, February 16, 2019

Where did the first half of February go??

And what do I have to show for it? Not much.
Well, there's this (yes it is crooked).

With Pam Buda's Circa 1880 Club there are patterns for 6 little quilts that can be made throughout the year using more of the little uneven 9-patch blocks. This is the first one, and I have pieced it this month using a stolen minute here, a few more minutes there. Because it was assembled in such a disjointed manner, I feel like I didn't have the focus I needed. The distribution of color bothers me--I did unpick one part of a block because there was too much of one fabric too close together. But when I saw how many places were like that, I stopped after the one repair and decided to live with it. The neutral around the edge is being auditioned for the final border, and then it is bound with a dark color. I am still deciding if I will use a neutral, or if I want to make that outer border with a light or medium color.

After I got Dad's history printed in December, I went to work on this. Mom's birthday is on Groundhog's Day, and I had to scramble to get this put together in time--fifty pages of the quilts Mom has made. She chided me for not using a younger photo of her on the front, but the one I used shows Mom with the quilt she made in 1991 (but the photo was just taken 2 years ago). It won sweepstakes at our county fair, our state fair, and it went on to hang at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. The piecing was simple, as you can see, but what you can't see are the tiny stitches on the feathered wreaths in the white spaces. Her hand quilting was impeccable.

It was fun to sit with Mom on her 89th birthday and watch her go through the book and reminisce about the quilts she has made.


 




I have to share my Valentine bouquet. DH and I were in town together early in the week and he asked if I would like to pick out my own bouquet. When I saw this bouquet I could not refuse. Purple (they look more purple in real life) and cheddar, with a neutral background! Now I want to make a quilt in these colors, adding the dark green of the leaves.

This project has been gathering dust on my shelf (not really--it has been in a box) for a few years now. I took a class from Kim Diehl, and I haven't touched the project since I brought it home. It isn't that I don't like it, but I know I don't have anywhere to hang a quilt this size. And I don't love it enough to work on altering it. If you would like to rescue this UFO, let me know in your comment. I will draw a name if there is more than one person interested.
We had to come to the class with everything cut and ready, so it is all prepped. It includes everything for the top, except the floss for working with the wool. But the wool is all there.





This is a close-up of the pattern to give you a better idea.  Let me know if you are interested.



Hopefully I will have more to show for the second half of February than I have the first half!
Until next time, 
Janet O.










Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Mini-of-the Month

I actually did it--I finished something this month. So many things are "almost" there, but I got one of them across the finish line. This is my Mini-of-the Month with Wendy over at The Constant Quilter blog.

It is from a Pam Buda pattern in Journey Three of her Prairie Women's Sewing Circle. Her pattern called for 20 blocks, I made mine with 12. She named it "Light In The Window." I haven't named mine yet.

I assembled this top in Oct. of 2016--over 2 years ago. It was a true "make do" project. In Pam's Sewing Circle Journeys, she encourages the "make do" principle used by our fore-mothers. When I was making this I had a bundle of small cuttings from Pam's Old Plum Calicoes line, and I was determined to use only those purples and shirtings. I pulled in the blue piece from another of Pam's lines. But working with that limited pile of purples (a fat eighth was the largest piece in the bundle--many were smaller pieces) challenged me.  
Four of the 12 blocks are "make do,"
and it took 2 different fabrics to make the outer border. I didn't have enough of the shirtings to make any more blocks--that is why I stopped at 12.
I cheated with the backing and used a Judie Rothermel print in blue and purple that I love and had been saving for something special. I told myself I had to bind it with the trimmings from the backing. (I talk to myself a lot!) I don't often bind with a lighter fabric than the border, but we are making do here, remember? And I kind of liked lightening up the outer edge a bit.
I thought I would have plenty of the leftover backing with which to bind, and I almost made it. I searched my stash for just one more little bit of this fabric--no luck! (I even looked online, just because I would have loved to have more of this.) And this is a "make do" quilt, remember? Look closely at the bottom edge of the binding in the photo above. In the middle you can see a seam a few inches long worming around the binding. That is made of two little leftover bits that weren't wide enough to be binding--I actually pulled them from the thread catcher on my cutting table. They were destined for the trash. And to the left of that part is a little section of another fabric leftover from one of the blocks. On the back you can see the seam in the pieced section, but on the front (below), that seam is not visible.

And the alternate fabric is not that visible when the quilt is viewed as a whole. I am very happy with this finish. Now I just need a name so I can write on the label and stitch it down. :)

This little top (created from blocks I made at retreat earlier this month) was the other project in the running to get finished for Mini-of-the-Month. But the blue/purple project had been waiting longer and needed its turn first.
The pattern for this little quilt called for a lot more blocks than this, but I felt it was finished, so I bordered it and called it "done." At the moment I can't find the pattern to credit the designer, but I will hopefully have found it before I post about this quilt again.


My design wall has been hosting these blocks for far too long now. At last sighting they were just separate blocks, with the top two rows actually sewn into rows.
Now all of those rows are actually sewn rows, and the last two rows that are missing from the photo above are waiting beside my featherweight  for their turn at assembly.  I am going to do a border or two around this when the rows are all sewn together. This may be coming off the wall soon (except for the fact that I really stall when it comes to borders). 

In one of my "what was I thinking?" moments, I signed on for the Kim Diehl BOM with our LQS. I have never purchased a BOM before. Who am I kidding? When will I make this? But I love it--however, I am already designing alternative corner blocks in my mind.

I do hope everyone in the path of the Polar Vortex is able to stay safe and warm! My prayers are with you.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Can I do this again?

Each month of 2017 I joined in with Wendy (theconstantquilter blog) for her Mini-of-the-Month challenge. It was a scant quilting year for me, and sometimes that mini was all I did for the entire month. Since I still don't have much to show for the two weeks since my last post, I decided to recap my Monthly Minis from last year. Humor me, it's about all I've got. :)

January                                                               July                                                                                  

























February                                                              August                                                                
                     

                                

March                                                             
                                                                           September     
                                                                                                         


              




                                                                                       

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                  October  

April                                                                                             


         
 
















                                                                          
  May                                                                     November                                                                                                                                   

                       
 
June                                                   December                     
                                   

   


                                








That about does it--except for the fact that Wendy is sponsoring this SAL again this year, along with another SAL making one of the little quilts from Pam Buda's recent book each month. I want to do both, but doubt I can keep up with either. There are still a few days left in the month. I have two minis that have the potential to be finished in time, but it remains to be seen if I actually accomplish it. Are you sewing along?

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

What happens at retreat...

...is never enough!
I always have such grand plans, and I honestly stay pretty well focused while I'm there. My roommate and I are not there to play (but we do still have fun). We are there to make serious progress. But it is never enough.

Once again our retreat was held at the lovely Academy Conference Center in downtown Brigham City, UT.
There were classes going on in a downstairs room most of the time, so the sewing room hardly ever seemed full, though there were about 35 of us there.

I did end up with 11 finished rows on my Circa 1880 quilt. I had six finished when I arrived, so I added five. (One more was made after this photo was taken.)


I haven't touched my Scrappy Trips (Bonnie Hunter free pattern) quilt since retreat last January. This time I added 12 blocks (4 of them were made after this photo was taken). Six more blocks to go. I'd better finish this up before next January!


This little quilt pattern was added to my luggage as a last minute afterthought (along with a basket of HSTs), but it turned out to be the only small project I brought that I actually worked on. There are supposed to be 5 more blocks, but it is really tempting to just sew up these 4 and call it good. I think the Broken Dish blocks finish at 2"











My leader/ender blocks were added to, when the project I was sewing didn't create its own leader/enders.
I almost have 200 of these windmill blocks now, and I have a bunch of them cut out. I think I will finish the ones I have cut, and then I will be done with this one. I have been doing these for years.

















The first two days they provided a make-n-take project at 7 p.m. I just brought home the kit for the first one--it is a project bag.

But the second day they hit me in a soft spot--foundation paper piecing mini flying geese!



It all came together to make this key holder that slips onto your wrist.




The retreat ran for three days and the sewing room was open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. We took full advantage of those hours. We were the first ones there each morning, and among those being shooed out at closing time each night--except for the last night. Technically we could stay and sew until 10 even the last night, but a good share of the quilters had packed up and left by 5 p.m.

In the photo above you can see three diehard quilters to the back of the room, and the ladies to the left are employees and owner of the sponsoring shop, just waiting around for the rest of us to go home, so they can do likewise. My retreat buddy got a shot of me about this same time.



We finally left around 7:30, and the other two gals were beginning to pack up to get on their way.
It was a great escape--just what I needed, and just in time to preserve my sanity!

Now back to real life. :)


Until next time, 
Janet O.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Houses and Xs--donation blocks

I actually squeezed in a little sewing time the past couple of days. On Wednesday I made house blocks for quilts for folks in Paradise, CA.

Lori posted about it here, with a pattern and the address of where to send them.







I had fun fussy-cutting novelty prints for the windows, and also digging through my brighter scraps to make some happy houses. 

     

































 I sent the house blocks on their way on Thursday and came home and made more X blocks for the 70273 Project.


These will probably be the last ones I get made for the project. It is amazing how quickly the X blocks are adding up, and I think Jeanne could very well have reached her goal before I get a chance to make more. I don't ever feel like I get enough time in my sewing room to make quilts to donate to worthy causes, so I appreciate times where I can donate blocks. There is one more X block floating around the house somewhere, but I have lost it somehow. If I find it tomorrow, it will join these on their journey to Jeanne.

Next week I will be spending 3 days with my retreat buddy at  the Village Dry Goods Winter Retreat. I think I have my projects narrowed down. Now I need to get organized and ready to go--well, I am SO ready, but I need to get my things ready to go with me. :)


Until next time,
Janet O.
 







Saturday, December 29, 2018

December mini-of-the-month

I was determined to get my Mini-of-the-Month posted before New Year's Eve. My last post was 4 weeks ago, when I posted my November monthly mini a day late. So here is what I came up with this month. I hadn't done any stitching for weeks, and I needed a quick fix.
This is based on a Merry Mini Monday free pattern shared by Sheryl at Temecula Quilt Co. If you take the link to her post you will see how I altered it.

A "pre-binding" shot gives you a clearer look at the quilting. Very simple stuff, for a very simple design. I thought about hand quilting the motif in the center of each block, but I needed this to be a finish this December, not next year.












Here is another glamor shot. I  named mine Christmas Crossroads.



















So what have I been doing all of those weeks when I wasn't stitching? Aside from the usual Christmas busyness, I was finishing up a very long-term project that has nothing to do with quilting.
In 2005 I began acting as my Father's scribe while he dictated his life story. In his later years he had a genetic tremor that made writing and typing difficult, and I was anxious to have his story. So we worked once a week, whenever we could, over the course of 10 years. The last year of his life we just tacked on a paragraph now and then to tell what he was doing at that point. Since his passing I have proofread, edited, searched for photos and documents to include, and tried to eliminate duplication. When you spread your story out over that many years, it is easy to forget that you already included something in another section of the story.

The past few months became crunch time, with a goal to have the book printed and bound for my siblings and I to give it to our children for Christmas this year. In order to achieve that I set aside everything that I could and spent hours every day for weeks getting it ready to submit. Mission accomplished! And I just realized that today is the second anniversary of his passing. 
Sure do miss you, Dad!

Now I have a little more breathing room time-wise, I have started quilting one of the minis from the stack of those that need completion. I chose one from a Pam Buda pattern that I made a couple of years ago, I believe.
This is the stitch-in-the-dtich in progress on my DSM. Tedious at times, I admit, but I like what it does for a quilt, so I persist. I will move to Gidget (my HQ Sweet 16) for the FMQ.


I received a belated birthday gift earlier this month from my friend, Kris (Lavender Quilts blog) in Oregon.
She sent me one of those great fabric bowls she makes in some of my favorite colors. And she stocked it with goodies, too! Thanks, Kris! I love it all!


Just want to share one more thing (channeling my inner Columbo). I have repurposed a quilting item as a "game night" helper. When our kids come over for game nights at our house, we have occasionally run into issues with some games that require you to hold a large amount of cards in your hand, and keep sorting through them to find which one you need to play. A year or two ago, while playing the card game version of "Ticket to Ride,"  I realized a quilting ruler rack was perfect to hold my hand of cards, let me see them all at once, and choose the one I wanted to play much more quickly and easily. Since then I have used coupons at Jo~Ann to pick up a couple more, when I didn't need something else. Now I have enough for 4 players! Here you can see 2 of us with our hand for a round of "Deer in the Headlights."
Now you know what to get with your next coupon! :)

Have you decided on your quilting goals for next year? I have been giving it some thought, and have come to zero conclusions. However, I have almost narrowed down the projects I will be taking to retreat the second week of January. Looking forward to it!

Until next time, 
Janet O.



Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Tardy Mini of the Month--and more

Others have said they barely squeaked under the wire with their entries in Wendy's Mini-of-the-Month challenge. I don't even qualify for that. I tried to get this posted before November came to an end, but it just didn't happen. My mini Dresden Plate flimsy became a finish in November (well, almost finished--binding needs stitching down). This was made using mostly the Wild Orchid line of fabrics by Blackbird Design. Being the proud owner of over a dozen orchids, how could I not love that fabric for it's name alone?
All of the stitch-in-the-ditch was done by walking foot on my domestic machine, and the outer border was done via free motion quilting on Gidget (my HQ Sweet Sixteen).

But the echo quilting around the plates was done by hand. When I can, I like combining hand and machine quilting in my minis, placing the hand quilting where it will shine, and letting the machine do what won't be as visible.
I marked the echo line with a ruler and a water soluble pen.

Here are front and back shots of the quilting. They can be enlarged for a better look.
 













You can clearly see on the back view that the binding is being held down with pins. Why is it that most of my Minis-of-the-Month have been posted in that condition? Can I never fully meet a deadline? Apparently not.
I opted not to stitch between the blades of the plates. The seams were pressed open, so ditch stitching wasn't an option, and there were too many layers and overlapping seams there for any hand quilting.

It feels good to have this finished (almost). Though I am always cutting it close--or entirely missing the mark--I have appreciated that Wendy's challenge has helped me get a few small finishes in a year that has seen a minimal amount of quilting time.

I know many of you have seen or even participated in the fun Temecula Christmas mystery SAL. Isn't that a great little Burgoyne Surrounded in holiday colors? Made me think of the red/white Burgoyne Surrounded that I began years ago. I had to hunt a bit to find it, and when I finally did, the contents practically exploded out when I opened the bin.
This will be a 9 block mini. The blocks finish at less that 4", and with 97 pieces in each block, they are some mighty small pieces, and it takes concentration to put a block together.


After opening up this project box I took the time to trim up the 4, 6, and 9 patch units needed to make one block. Then I laid it out next to a finished block.

It never ceases to amuse me to see how much mini blocks shrink when assembled. The rotary cutter is there to give perspective on the size.

And while we are on the red/white theme, I got one more X block ready to stitch down. If you missed my last post about the 70273 project, you can click here to see what this is all about.


A parting shot from my recent birthday. My youngest son celebrated his birthday just a month prior to mine. This balloon his boss gave him was still inflated enough that he brought it to add to my celebration. I think it is a hoot!

Prayers go out for all those who have suffered loss recently, through natural disaster, or senseless violence. Sometimes it is hard to know where your resources can best be used. But doing good anywhere is better than doing nothing. I hope if you are able, you have chosen a way to help. And if you are not able to give, I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, and that is anyone's to offer.

Until next time, 
Janet O.