Saturday, February 15, 2020

Flowers and Foliage

My "Mother's Flower Garden" quilt is coming along. I am just finishing up appliqueing the last block to the background on the fourth row. Two more rows to go--you can see the sashing and cornerstones are cut and waiting for those last two rows. The border fabric is on the left. It is a Kim Diehl print fabric in a slightly lighter shade than the cornerstones.

I think I am going to take a big chance (for me) and start stitching the rows from the blocks I have already made. I have never stitched up my rows before without having all of the blocks completed and having spent the requisite days (or weeks) switching blocks around until I have either found the arrangement I like, or have thrown my hands in the air and given up.

Though the fabrics in my flowers are from the 80s and 90s, I still wanted to use 30s colors in the sashing and cornerstones. It just has that feel to me.There was a day when I didn't know if I could face this quilt again, but I am glad I finally pulled it out of the deep, dark closet. I am surprised at how much I like it now.

Other flowers I have been enjoying include this Amaryllis. This photo shows it when 6 of its 8 buds were open.


And the Valentine's Day bouquet hubby brought me is a gorgeous bundle of two-toned roses.

Did you celebrate Valentine's Day? Aside from my favorite Fresh Salmon Friday lunch at a local eatery, I spent much of my time making and delivering these. This was one of three trays.
It started a couple of years ago as something I wanted to do for some of the widows or home bound in my community on Valentine's Day. It was so fun--I really enjoy making them, and seeing the surprised faces of the recipients. But when I tried to do it again last year, there was not a strawberry to be found in the local grocery stores. This year I made up for it! 


As to the foliage in my post title, I am finally back to the hand quilting of another old UFO, but this one is only 10 years old. I finished assembling this Tree of Life medallion quilt in 2011. It was to commemorate my youngest son's two years as a missionary in Brazil. Each design has significance to his experiences there.

It sat idle for years until I had it machine basted by a long-arm quilter so I could start the hand quilting in 2016. With all of the shoulder problems I have had over the last several years, I just rarely felt like working on it. It remained as you see it here for longer than I care to admit.
Just this month I have actually been able to move the quilt in the hoop a couple of times. 

I struggled with what to quilt in the yellow setting triangles. Though they scream for feathers, I didn't want it to look feminine. 
I finally decided on the curved cross-hatching, but needed to order a larger curved ruler in order to do the marking. I have never hand quilted curved cross-hatching before. I find I like it. I finished up the first yellow corner this weekend.

And the last bit of foliage comes from this tiny Tree of Life.
I made that center block on a dare from Karen (logcabinquilter blog)--I don't even recall how many years ago. Do you, Karen?  She just sent me a photo she had seen on Pinterest, with the block dimension. I think she said it was a 4" unfinished block. I tried to make it with just that much to go on. It is kind of wonky, but I am finally making a little quilt out of it. It has been pinned to the side of my design wall ever since I finished it.
I am easily amused and I get a kick out of seeing how much tiny pieces shrink as they are sewn together. On the left are 14 1" unfinished HSTs (I miscounted somehow--I only need 13). On the right are 13 1/2" finished HSTs . I don't know yet if I will add any other rounds to this little medallion. This is as far as my brain has taken me.

Surprisingly, I didn't have to draw more than one name for the soap bundle I promised in my last post. Usually the first name or two belong to "no reply" profiles and I can't contact them, so I have to draw another name. This time I got a winner right out of the gate, and I am thrilled to say it is Wendy of The Constant Quilter blog. I link with her each month for the Monthly Mini. I'll get that sent out to you on Monday, Wendy.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

January monthly mini, retreat update, new (old) machine, etc.--or the longest post on record

I only posted once in January, so there is much to share. Maybe I should have titled this, "How many photos can you squeeze into one post?" Let's find out...
My (late) January monthly mini is the completed "December Small Quilt" from the Circa 1880 club. Linking with Wendy at The Constant Quilter blog.

It is the smallest of the six small quilts that were part of the quilt shop-sponsored Circa 1880 clubs. This gives you a little better perspective on the size.
My quilting on this was very simple. (Do I say that every time?) I did stitch-in-the-ditch around the piecing in the center. In the photo above I think you can faintly see the FMQ I did in the border.

I was very thrilled to get to go to most of Winter Retreat, sponsored by Village Dry Goods (the little shop over the mountain to which I often refer). It was held at the same beautiful venue it has been in for the last few years.
This is always such a boost after a busy holiday season, but with Mom's needs, I didn't think I could go. Fran (the shop owner) told me she would be saving a place for us (Kim and I) if I could work things out. At the last minute we got my nephew's daughter (a CNA) to cover the times my brother would need help with Mom during retreat. Chloe, my grand-niece, had just moved back home and was looking for work. What a blessing that was!

This is an "open sew" retreat (which I love), but they do offer classes each day for those who choose to participate. One very popular class is their annual mystery quilt, designed by Fran and Laurie. I never take classes, but it was fun to see the revealed mystery. The two quilts are from the same pattern, but one is in dark & dirty CW repro fabrics and the other is in more bright/modern fabrics. The difference in the appearance of the design is really fun to see. 
Kim, Fran, me
Here I am with my roommate and dear friend Kim, and our fun and dear friend, Fran. We started out just smiling for the camera, but ended up laughing. It is hard to be serious with Fran around.

I try to focus on UFOs at retreat. This time it was so last minute and I was very unprepared. I had just thrown a bunch of projects together and figured I would sort it out when I got there. I spent the morning taking my Mom for another medical procedure, and by the time I reached the retreat I was exhausted and had a hard time getting focused. Eventually I buckled down and pulled out a pattern I had purchased years ago when Pam Buda came to our Winter Retreat as a teacher. I purchased this pattern of hers because I thought it was fun to buy a pattern named "Winter Retreat" at Winter Retreat.
I had even brought along some blank signature blocks the year I bought that pattern and I had Pam, a couple of friends who attended, and the two shop owners sign the blocks. They have been stored with the pattern ever since. I worked on this that first day and half of the next day before I decided the rest of the borders could go on at home. I haven't managed to do that yet.

The second afternoon I pulled out a little quilt I started at last year's Winter Retreat. This is a Kim Diehl pattern named Prairie Sky. I had purchased the kit without realizing that it was applique. Then I had set out to find a different way to make it. 


I wound up foundation piecing it. I got all of the blocks finished and brought it home and attached the border. Notice how nice and neat the back is (NOT)! I made one less row than the pattern indicated, and I made solid borders instead of scrappy.

My final project was Bonnie Hunter's mystery, Easy Street. Yes, I know this is from 2012. In my defense, I didn't start mine until...2013. :)
Mine is made from thrift store shirts and back when I started this I didn't always choose shirts wisely. Some fabrics are a bit thick, others a bit ravely. I don't love working with them. Besides that fact, I make so many mistakes sewing up these blocks, it discourages me every time I try. I think out of the two blocks I made at retreat I unpicked on the first one 5 times! I think the pattern calls for about 25 blocks set on point, with pieced setting triangles. My apologies to Bonnie, but I made two more blocks at retreat (I had come with 10), laid them out and decided I was finished making blocks.
Using a straight set, it will be a nice throw quilt size. At home I used some leftover parts to put a small pieced border around the edge and then I fussy-cut the purple striped fabrics leftover from a couple of the shirts and made a solid-looking border all around. Here it is pinned to my design wall. I just need to piece the two borders on the sides and attach them. Usually I make the top borders go across the corners, but there wasn't enough of that purple--and not enough of the darker purple to do the whole border. I plan to complete those two borders today. I am being stinkin' productive lately. :)      (And it is about time!)

The only other thing I did at retreat was label the ends of the rows of my Circa 1880. The long rows are comprised of blocks made by me, but the short rows are made from blocks swapped with others. 
Where possible, I made a whole row with one person's blocks. Pam, Cyndi and Wendy were my original swap partners. I also swapped with 5 other quilters. It is really a treat to have their blocks in my quilt. I took this quilt with me to Village Dry Goods during retreat and chose fabrics for the border--and ended up not using them. Well, I did use one of them. This is now a finished top.
I bought more of the aged muslin to make a small inner border that would "float" the blocks inside the colored border. And I did that. But I did not use the black tonal print I was going to use to create a narrow border, before adding a medium blue, small scale paisley for the outer border. It didn't click. I pulled everything from my stash that was large enough to possibly border this quilt, but nothing did it for me until I put this red paisley from French General next to the top. 
There was just enough length (barely) to border the sides, but I did have to match and piece the top and bottom borders. I was pleased that the matching turned out so well. This photo is a tad blurry, but it shows one of the matched borders.

I had tried to make this quilt larger than the pattern to fit a queen size bed.
Here it is on our guest room bed. I think it works. Now this has to get in line to be quilted. I'm thinking Baptist Fans.

Just a few quick things to close this record long post. I was recently gifted this sweet machine. Anyone know anything about it? Think it is a model 15-something (ETA: I have been corrected--this is a 99k) and was made in Scotland in the 1920s. I haven't really had time to explore it yet, but I would appreciate any insight you might have. You can click the photos to get a closer look.
Finally, my sweet Mom turns 90 tomorrow. This is a photo of her back in November. She is still chipper, but suffered another fall on New Year's Eve and acquired 3 more compression fractures in her spine--bringing her total of fractures in 2019 to 10!
She is so ready to "graduate", but we are cherishing the time we have left with her.

I will leave you with this cheerful view above my kitchen sink. Eight of my 16 orchids are blooming again. The others have bloom stems coming. The flowers are such a welcome sight in the midst of winter. The blossoms last for months!

If you have stuck it out until the end of this lengthy post, leave a comment and I will thank one of you with a bundle of herbal soap. 
Until next time,
Janet O.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Circa 1880 top assembled (mostly)

Technically there are still borders to add, but it feels monumental to finally have the rows assembled. Here it is laying on our guest room bed.
I made the first blocks for this quilt at my usual January retreat in 2018--two years ago! At an invitation from Pam Buda to strip piece our blocks and then swap our duplicates to get more variety more quickly,  how could I say no? Though I admit that I wondered at the time if I would ever actually get one made. Lo and behold, I even made this larger than the pattern called for. I never dreamed I would have that much patience!

In the pattern every block is an uneven 9-patch, but after I heard that Lynn Hopkins (who works at the shop where I was participating in the Circa 1880 club) was going to put some little baskets in his quilt, I couldn't let that idea go. After a bit of pondering I thought, "Why just baskets?" Hence the "rogue blocks" were born. I added 7 actual "rogue blocks," and then I included 8 of what I like to call "surprise centers"--a 1" block in the center of the uneven 9-patch.

Here they are on display--and if you are looking for perfectly matched corners and no cut off points, go somewhere else. I wasn't that concerned about those things. Feels more "Circa 1880" to me if things aren't quite so precise.

First up: Rogue blocks


Blogger won't let me position photos like I normally do, so these look pretty random.
Next up: Surprise Centers
This has been the mainstay on my design wall for 2 years, and I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to swap with Pam and a few friends. Now I need to decide what will live here for the next two years. :)

I didn't think I would get to go to my winter retreat this year,  but within the last few days the persistence of family and friends has come together and the way opened up--how could I say no? I know Mom is in good hands, and it is only 30 minutes from home, if there should be a need. I am on my way today and SO looking forward to it.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

December Monthly Mini and other small stuff

Once again, just squeaking under the wire. The ball will be dropping on Time Square in just minutes (in my time zone), and December will be gone. If you recall the little Jen Kingwell Postcard Project pattern I shared in my last post, this is what came of playing with that on a few late nights when I needed fabric therapy. This will be linked with Wendy at The Constant Quilter blog, for our final monthly minis of this year.

The fabrics were gleaned from some red/black pieces my retreat buddy gave me, and the backgrounds came from a Primitive Gatherings charm pack of a new line.  It finished at about 10" x 12".
Some of it is a bit wonky--I had some issues with the cutting. The templates that came with the pattern were great in all ways but one. In the photo to the right you can see the corners that are to match up. I've drawn arrows to the corners that gave me trouble. The smaller triangle has a rounded edge, while the matching edge of the larger triangle is beveled, as are all the other corners that match up. If I had been willing to mark all of the little dots in the corners and match them up that way, it might have come together more easily, but I am lazy about making and matching dots, so I suffered without them. And the rounded corner was difficult to cut, even with a small rotary cutter. I might have thought it was just an anomaly on my set, but I had purchased two sets and they were both the same.

The top did get finished with my December Circa 1880 small quilt, but knew I would have a harder time getting this one quilted than I would the Postcard Project, so this one is still a flimsy.
I had planned to make the outer border in red or green, but those black backgrounds on the stars needed some company.

Is this a familiar sight to anyone else? I let my cutting mat on my sewing room cutting table get very hacked up before deciding I should request a new one on my Christmas wishlist. I have already turned it around and the other side is not much better, so I will cut the sides that don't get as chewed up into smaller cutting mats to be taken to retreats and sew-ins, and I will replace this with the new one Santa delivered. 

First I need to remove the piles of things around the edges--and this photo was taken after I had actually cleaned most of it off. :)

The last day of December brought such a nice surprise in my mailbox. Many of you have sewn along with the Temecula Tiny Tree SAL. I longed to join in, but knew it wasn't going to happen for me this year. Well, my good blogging buddy, Sarah (at sarahdidit blog), posted that she was making 5 of them, to have some to gift. 
I was thrilled to find that I was the recipient of one of those trees. Isn't it fun? I have been sick for the last 5 days, and this was such a day brightener! Thank you, Sarah. One can never have too many Christmas quilts, or quilts from friends!

Also, in my initial post I forgot to include this sweet mug rug that arrived from my pal Wendy at The Constant Quilter blog. It came during the holidays and I had already put it to work. Thus, when writing my post it was covered with my mug (that is what a mug rug is for, after all) and I failed to add it here. That is now remedied. Many thanks, Wendy!

I have been very absent from blogland lately. I miss keeping up with everyone's blogs. I hope I have more time for it in the new year! Hope you all have a great beginning to a new decade!
Until next time,
Janet O.