Saturday, September 21, 2019

Insanity in the sewing room

I don't know what else to call it. I already have all of my rows made for my Circa 1880 quilt, so why is it that I have spent what little time I can get in the sewing room lately making these? These are all 2 1/2" unfinished blocks, with those centers finishing at 1".

When I started making the "rogue blocks" to put in my quilt a few months ago, there were a couple that were just an uneven 9-patch with a tiny block in the center.
This past week I've been dreaming up more center blocks that can be scaled down to a 1" finish.

Those 16-patch centers are strip pieced. There is no other way I could have made those squares finish at 1/4". Having a ruler with good marking, and using fine thread helps increase the accuracy in stitching 1/4" finished rows (and a good dose of insanity really helps).

And the pineapple and log cabin center blocks are foundation pieced, of course. Each 1" finished--more insanity!

Kat Keefes Quilting shared her "signature block" idea with our Facebook group. She used the selvedge with Pam Buda's name printed on it--so clever!
I played around with the idea and came up with one of my own, and included some sentiments from one of Pam's fabric designs, as well.

The only other sewing that has taken place has been on the August small quilt pattern for the Circa 1880 club. I tweaked the value placement on the fabric--inspired by a Kim Diehl churn dash quilt I love that has 9-patches in the center.

The center blocks and sashing are assembled, but I had still been auditioning borders until I recently settled on this lovely blue paisley from the Mrs. Miller's Apprentice line of fabrics. Notice that I tucked a churn dash block into the center block. This is larger than the other small quilts in the club so far, but I really love it.

I shared with you in my last post what I had received in my swap with Julie (my threadbare life blog). Now that she has received my package, I can share with you what I sent.
I had to swipe this photo from her blog, because I forgot to take a photo of this before I sent it (she did the same from my blog with what she sent to me).

I sent her an uneven 9-patch pincushion, a notepad,  my handmade herbal soap, a favorite treat, and a mini quilt I made from scraps found on top of the "trash" bin at retreat last January. Julie is the queen of rescuing unwanted items and up-cycling them into treasures. I wanted to send her something that I had rescued and this was all that fit that description. It was such a lovely exchange. Thanks so much for participating, Julie! This is my second swap with a New Zealand blog friend. Oh how I hope to see their homeland someday--and maybe even get to see them! :)

This is my first post in September--pretty pathetic. It had better not be my last. I need to have a monthly mini ready to share  in a little over a week. Yikes! I am nowhere near ready!! I'd better quit playing with the Circa 1880 blocks I don't need.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

August Monthly Mini--etc.

This monthly mini (with Wendy @ The Constant Quilter blog) is posted with not a minute to spare. I had thought I would quilt the indigo/cheddar quilt in my last post for my monthly mini, but I still can't decide how I want to quilt it. I was down to the wire time-wise. I rummaged through the sewing room looking for something that would be a quick finish. The black/red/gold quilt in the photo below is what happened.
It was probably 5 or 6 years ago that I assembled the 4-patch and gold blocks. When I noticed that one of the black 4-patch units was turned the wrong way I decided I needed to fix it. I set it aside, but every time I thought I would fix it I decided I didn't love it enough to put the time into it to either fix it or finish it. I was desperate enough this time that I felt I could finish it without fixing it. So I slapped a couple of borders on it, did simple diagonal lines through the blocks and straight lines around the red border, with some loops in the outer border that you can see if you click on the photo to the left. I think I even like it now.

This week I also sewed up the final two rows of my Pam Buda Circa 1880 Quilt. I am loving this quilt, and I have enjoyed slipping in a few "rogue blocks." In fact, I added another one to my very last row. If you have ever tried to draft a churn dash block to finish at 2", you know the challenges I faced. Blocks based on a 3x3 grid don't play well on a 4x4 grid--but I persevered and finally ended up with parts assembled for three blocks.
I stitched them up and proceeded to add one of them to my last row. After pinning it to the design wall along with all of its friends, I stepped back and wondered what had gone wrong.
Okay, I admit I was sewing late at night--again! In my sleep deprived state I just added this block to the row, without removing one of the other blocks to make room for it. I still haven't fixed it. But I need to do it soon, and start sewing the rows together.  I made mine with 27 rows. Every other row is made with blocks I swapped from another quilter. So I made 14 rows from my own blocks, and 13 rows with blocks from friends. I have really enjoyed the swapping.

Last, but definitely not least, Julie (My Threadbear Life blog) and I had agreed to do a little exchange. It ended up being a pincushion exchange--and so much more! Her package arrived today from New Zealand, and I am a little hesitant to send hers now. Look at the glorious contents I received.

The whole package smelled like lovely lavender, thanks to the soaps and the sachet. There are amazing flavors of chocolate, and a beautiful handmade card.

Get a closer look at this clever pincushion from an up-cycled old spinning wheel bobbin. Notice the little alphabet beads spell "quilt", and there are tiny hexies, and sewing related charms attached. I love it!

Up-cycling is Julie's specialty and her blog is a constant source of amazement for me. She is so creative.

I told Julie I hadn't sent her package yet because I wanted to include some of my herbal soap, and it isn't finished curing yet. I will probably send it next weekend, and when she has received it I will share with you what I sent. A huge thanks to Julie for the fun surprises, and for all of her inspiring blog posts!

If I don't hurry and post this it won't be August anymore, and my monthly minis are tired of always being late.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Coming up for air (Don't know if that means me or this project)

Remember this project?  This has been a leader/ender project at one of my machines for five years now. It was inspired by Kathie Holland, formerly of "Inspired by Antique Quilts" blog. Each windmill is around 4". I've enjoyed throwing in some "make do" blocks, and I recently came across one block I had made from some accidentally backwards cut pieces. I think I want to throw that reverse windmill in the mix somewhere, for a fun little quirk.
This photo is from two years ago, and I have added many more blocks since it was taken, but my design wall is kind of full right now, and I had no desire to lay these out on the floor, and then have to keep bending over, or crawl around on the floor to pick them up again.

I recently got all of the blocks out and stacked them by color to see how evenly divided the colors are.  Then I figured out how many of each color I had cut and ready to sew, and how many more neutrals I need to cut to go with them.

Then I clipped the finished blocks in groups of by ten, by color. I think I am going to be making about 90 more blocks and then see what size quilt it will all create.

I've also been trying to assemble the "June" small quilt for the Circa 1880 club.
I can't seem to get the cheddar/indigo color palette out of my blood. In this photo the borders are just laying on the design board around the completed center. Since taking this photo I have been able to attach two rounds of the borders.

Though my sewing room is currently a mess (and may be for some time), it is still my happy place. Even when I am so lacking in focus that I can't simply run my leader/ender blocks under my needle, I may still choose to come into this disaster area and read in my chair. Notice the aforementioned full design wall?

You can see a partial shot of the hexie flowers on a design board to the right in the photo above. I am now on block #12. Hubby and I are heading to Sun Valley, Idaho. He belongs to a choir that is going to perform at an outdoor venue there. It takes several hours on the road from here to there, so I may get another one or two hexie flowers stitched to the background if the light is good.

Anybody recommend a good quilt shop in the Sun Valley area? I am going to have time on my hands while hubby is in rehearsals. :) 

Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Monthly Mini for July--late again!

It has been a long time without posting, but I actually had this finished about the middle of July. I just couldn't  muster enough brain power, or stay awake long enough to write a post whenever I had any time.
This is my July Monthly Mini with Wendy over at The Constant Quilter blog, making its late appearance. I am calling it Deep Purple--and if that name makes you start singing the song, then your age is showing. :)

My very random scrap creation (described in my previous post) received mostly ditch-stitching with a little bit of free motion in the border. This photo gives you a little glimpse of it.

When I get a chance to spend time in my sewing room lately I find myself too mentally and/or emotionally drained or distracted to focus on a project and make progress. I end up shuffling a few things around and basically accomplishing nothing.

We took Mom to an oncologist this week. He was very fun and we laughed so much. That was a blessing, because my Mom likes to keep things lighthearted at the doctor's office, even when talking about terminal cancer. She is opting for no treatment, so we are having a hospice evaluation today.

When visiting with Mom I always take handwork with me, and if she is resting, or we are just watching TV together, I pull out my hexie flowers and stitch them to their backgrounds. I have doubled their numbers since my last post, and am currently working on #9.

One last quilty thing to share...have you heard of Quilters Select rulers (this link is just one of many sources for them)? A dear friend of mine has mentioned to me before that she happened upon them and has been so impressed that she is gradually replacing her Creative Grid rulers with the Quilters Select, as the CG rulers get too worn (for me that means I have chipped up the corners too much).
A few days ago I received a little ruler in the mail from my friend and I must say I completely understand her enthusiasm for these rulers--so much so that I have a couple of them ordered now. 
You can see it against the white paper--notice the slight yellow color. That is an amazing treatment on the surface of the back side that makes them practically slip-proof.

I trimmed up a few HST I had on hand (who am I kidding, I have hundreds of them on hand!!) and I couldn't have been more pleased. I wish the diagonal lines went in both directions, but I can work around that. If slipping rulers are an issue for you, even on those great Creative Grid rulers with the little gripper dots, you may want to check these out! No affiliation here, just a very pleased user!

So much family stuff going on this summer--especially regarding Mom. Thanks to those who have checked in with me, and apologies for when I haven't responded. I have fallen asleep many times at the computer when I sit down thinking I will catch up, so instead I give up.

Until next time--whenever that might be,
Janet O.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Which mini will win?

I had intended to finish this little quilt for my June mini. As you can see, I did not. 
So will it be July's? Yet to be determined. It is made from a pattern for a flag pin, by Diane Hansen of Flag Farm designs. This is an enlargement of the pattern, and I added  everything from the red border on out. I'd had it all squared up, but the triple sashing border is really crooked and I didn't notice it until I was pinning to quilt it. Just couldn't bring myself to do it--it will have to be unpicked and maybe just leave that border off altogether.

I could just quilt this up--another less-than-satisfactory assembly job.

A few months ago, on a hunt for something else, I came across a little bag that contained a bunch of purple scraps, with a few blacks, some tan, and a tiny bit of cheddar. They were leftovers from another mini a few years ago. I had put them in the bag together thinking one day I would challenge myself to make something just using those scraps. I've finished it, taken it apart, and reassembled it a couple of times. This last time I just decided to border it and call it done. I pulled out a lovely FQ of this black miniature print by Judie Rothermel that was a gift from dear Victoria, once upon a time. I have loved it and saved it for something special. But I thought that maybe putting it on this little piece would make me like the quilt  better. It was too much black, and the cheddar in the center looked really out of place. A dig through a couple of scrap baskets produced enough purple and cheddar to add the pinwheels to the corners. I do believe the black border makes me like it more, and the cheddar in the corners pulls out the center, but I don't know if I am ready to call it done and quilt it any more than I am the one above. You will just have to wait on pins and needles to see which one I actually finish before the month is out--or maybe it will be something entirely different. Can you handle the suspense? :)

Since I seem to be rolling out the old projects lately, here is another one--though not as old as my GFG, by any means. This one has only been around about 5 years. Meet Settler's Puzzle--a Pam Buda design.

I started this in January of 2014, when Pam Buda was our guest teacher at our winter retreat. I had come home with just a couple of blocks made, and every year I seem to eke out a couple more. So now all of the blocks are made. You can see I am auditioning a dark green inner border, and then there will be a sawtooth border, before a final wide border. This is supposed to be a 2 color quilt--and as much as I admire them, I struggle to make them. After too long with only two colors I start to get nervous, and I might even start to twitch--pretty soon I am grabbing other colors and throwing them in the mix. It is a miracle that I have only bumped this one up to 4 colors, after all those years. It feels good to be making progress on it.

Thank you to all who have contributed your thoughts and prayers for my Mom. They found a tumor in a lung when she was scanned for injuries after her fall in May. We are still learning what the future holds for her. One step at a time.

Until next time.
Janet O.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Monthly Mini--pretending it is still June

Late--again. Sorry, Wendy.
Here is my completed June mini.
I pieced most of this at my January retreat this year. Wish I could find the pattern that inspired this so that I could give the designer credit. On a recent sewing room clean up I found it and set it aside--now I can't find it again.
As usual, I did the stitch in the ditch on my Pfaff.  On the right you can see the border design I stitched on my HQ Sweet 16.

The HSTs in this little quilt were from scrap bags gifted to me by friends. The sashing and binding are from a small piece I have left of one of my favorite black prints.

I have completed 4 of the hexie flower blocks and have 4 more flowers pinned down and ready. Much of this stitching has been happening as I visit with Mom.

I made another row for my Circa 1880 quilt. Only two more rows to piece, and then I can start sewing them together. Can't believe I am closing in on this one.
I love these little uneven 9-patch blocks. When I was digging through some scraps last month I found a small piece that begged to be fussy-cut. It was enough for four blocks, and I couldn't resist putting them into pincushions.
Still heavily involved in Mom's care, and not getting as much quilting/blogging time as in the past. I'll try to keep up the best that I can.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Tale of Two Templates

I have probably shared this photo here before but the story behind it is part of my post, so I will share it again.

In 1998, while I was volunteering at a local heritage center, I became acquainted with the master quilter that did the quilting demonstrations at their Heritage Festivals. She was hand quilting a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt that she had made using the English Paper Piecing method. Though I had been quilting for years, I was unfamiliar with this technique. She told me to come back the next day with some fabrics and hand stitching supplies and she would get me started.

I really didn't have much of a stash at this point, so I raided my mother's (which consisted of a whole lot of 1980s calico prints, it appears), promising to share with Mom what I learned. The next day, after receiving a plastic template and excellent instructions from my mentor, I proceeded to clumsily attempt assembling a flower.

Following my volunteer shift I went to my mother's and traced my template onto a plastic cottage cheese lid and cut it out for my mom to use. I shared with her what I had learned and away she went, while I plodded along, slowly making a flower now and then. The following year my Mom's quilt was completed (pictured above)--hand pieced, appliqued to the border, and hand quilted and bound. I was still making an occasional flower.

I don't know if the precut hexagon papers were even available then, but our local shop didn't carry them. We used our cottage cheese lid templates to trace and hand cut each cardstock hexagon from those annoying subscription postcards that fall out of every magazine you pick up. I didn't even want to think about how many I would eventually need to cut, but in my mind I was sure I was going to make at least 60 flowers.

This was my "Lady in Waiting" project (as my teacher had so aptly called it). For years I kept a baggie in my purse with the necessary supplies to make one flower. I pulled it out while waiting for my children at piano lessons, orthodontist appointments, track meets, and basketball games. I made up dozens of little "kits" so that I could grab supplies for a new flower in a heartbeat, on those rare occasions when I actually finished one. 

I am exceptionally slow at hand stitching, no matter how much practice I get, which has created many embarrassing experiences related to this project. I carried this around for so long that many times people who had seen me working on it years before, would see me pull it out and say, "Oh, are you making another one of those quilts?" I would have to explain that this was the same old one. But the most embarrassing was when I was helping check in quilts at the county fair once, about 8 years after I had started this quilt. As usual, I had my little baggie out on the table, stitching away when things got slow. Up came a young woman, carrying a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt to enter in the fair. I knew her--she was the same age as my youngest son, and at this point they were both 18. I was marveling over her quilt--she had even hand quilted it. Then she explained that years ago she had seen me working on mine in the waiting room when she came for an orthodontist appointment. On their way home she told her mother she wanted to make what I was making. They went home and looked it up online and she figured it out and made it. And there I sat--still making flowers.

Since cutting out the hexagon papers was such a chore, my Mom saved a bunch of hers when she removed them from her quilt top, and she offered them to me. I was elated. The cutting of the hexagons was so tedious to me--actually the whole process was tedious to me, but I wanted the end product, so I kept plodding.

After I got a little over half of my flowers stitched (almost two decades later), I stalled. Just could not bring myself to whip one more stitch, or baste one more hexie. I decided that my quilt would not be as large as originally planned and just maybe, if I started assembling some of what I had made, it might spur me on to further progress. WRONG!
As I sorted through the flowers and tried to decide what type of "path" I wanted between them I discovered something extremely disheartening. My flowers were different sizes. The ones I had made using the papers I cut out were smaller than the ones made using the papers my mom had cut out. Depending on the angle of your pencil when you traced around the template, and whether you cut out on the line, or inside or outside the line, you could use the same template size, but end up with very different sizes of papers.
It was enough of a difference that I couldn't see how I could assemble a quilt top using both sizes. You can see above, I have one of the smaller blocks on top of one of the larger ones. Too much of a difference to just "ease" in. I was sick at the thought of all that work, and I couldn't put it together. I dumped everything into a box and shoved it into a dark place where I hoped to forget about it indefinitely.

Last year it started to haunt me. Do I just give it all away, or is there some way to save it? I finally came up with a plan and prepared what I needed, but hadn't done anything with it until now. On a short road trip last week I took it along (instead of my other hexie project that I struggle to work on), and I now have my first two blocks finished, and two more prepped and ready to stitch. Gotta love those calicoes.
Though applique is not my favorite thing, I think I am far more likely to finish the quilt this way, than if I had to stitch more flowers. I have all the muslin cut and ready. It is so easy to pin on a flower and start stitching, but since it will just be a travel project, it isn't going to set any records getting finished.
Do you have a 21 year old UFO? Surely someone out there has an older one--something you actually work on now and then. Tell me about it in the comments.

Until next time,
Janet O.