Saturday, July 15, 2017

A real hodge-podge (which pretty much describes my life this summer)

I don't think life can get much crazier or busier than it has been this summer. It seems that when I need the fabric therapy the most, I get precious little of it. I did FINALLY get the border sewn on this little basket wall hanging made from the scraps of one of Mom's quilts, and pieces of a favorite shirt of my Dad's. No name for it, as yet.



I actually started one of the three SALs for which I have been saving patterns. This is the Temecula Marvelous Mini Monday. The blocks are all supposed to have a border or two, and I haven't attached any of those yet. As you can probably tell, I have been digging into the Kansas Troubles scraps to create these. The little centers are 2" before they get their borders.

The organizing in my sewing room closet continues. I bought one more little thread holder. I prefer to piece and quilt with 100% cotton thread. Aurifil is my thread of choice, for both. However, the color selection is often too limited, So I end up buying a lot of Mettler thread. It is a tad thicker strand, and it is lintier than Aurifil, but the color selection is wider, so I often have to use it. Gutterman thread is even heavier than Mettler, but sometimes it has the color that I can't find in either of the other two threads. I don't like to use it on minis, because of the thickness of the strand, but sometimes I have to.

This week is the local downtown merchants' sidewalk sale. There were FQs for $1.50, and bolt fabrics that were $5 per yard.  I didn't NEED any of this, but was happy to bring home a yard each of some fabrics by Lisa Bongean, Jan Patek, Kim Diehl, Judie Rothermel, and a couple of others (I am too lazy to go read the selvages again).

Last week I failed to show this bundle of goodies that arrived from Sandi, on a very draining day in town helping my Mom. Such a smile maker! Thanks to you, Sandi. Fun things just kept coming from the box. : )
Opinion Time:
Still in search of that elusive center fabric for my mini Dresden quilt. You can click to enlarge these photos and tell me if this striped fabric works for you. If so, should the stripes go horizontally, vertically, or on the diagonal? The top two in each example are just the rough cut circle, while the other four have been starched around a "perfect Circle". What do you think?
I have sent off my last swap quilt of the summer to its new home in New Zealand. It will be a while before it reaches that shore, but when it does, I will share photos.

One last thing, I have added another update to my Tuffet Tute in my "pages" below my header photo. At the very end of the post there is a link to a free download of Carrie Nelson's Sweet Liberty Tuffets pincushion pattern (Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.). She says it is officially out of print now, so she offered it on the Moda blog a while back, and I have linked to that page.

Until next time,
Janet O.







Friday, July 7, 2017

Two little finishes

This little quilt had been hanging on the side of my design wall in flimsy form for months. I pretty much knew how I wanted to quilt it, I was just waiting until I was threading Gidget for some other project, with a color that would match this. Finally happened last week, when I was quilting my latest swap quilt that I cannot show you yet.
The pincushion is a result of the bag of tiny Kim Diehl scraps I found in my sewing room last week. I actually made this pincushion in "pillow" style, rather than the box style I normally make.
I know it isn't real obvious, but I mixed machine and hand quilting on this. You can see the machine quilting pretty well here. If you look closely at the border fabric you may be able to tell that there is hand stitching along that little vine that meanders back and forth across the stripe.





Maybe you can see it better in this shot. 
This quilt is almost square, measuring 9 1/4" x 9 3/4". I didn't plan the size. I just sliced up a bunch of mini charm squares and stitched them together until I had used them up. It was my usual "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" design method.

Since Bonnie Hunter posted her new leader/ender challenge for the coming year several people have asked me if I am joining in. That would be a "no". I love leader/enders and use them constantly, but I have enough UFOs waiting in line for their turn under the needle, that I always use one of them as my leader/ender project rather than creating a new UFO.

These windmill blocks have been my leader/ender for about 2 1/2 years now. Occasionally I let the smaller units in a project be its own leader/ender, but when that is not the case, the windmills are my "go to". I have about 150 4" blocks so far and there are many more strips cut in this color scheme, waiting to be sliced  into the windmill shape.




I must admit that I have had a bit of a distraction from sewing this week. Little Maggie, and her mother (DD#1), are here from Oregon and are spending the week with us. Who wants to sew when they can spend time with family?


Until next time, 
Janet O.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Did you really think...

...that I could let the birthday of my country go by without making something more in Red/White/Blue? Seriously now, how long have you been following along? I am a sucker for patriotic themes. There was this post, then this one, and this one, and ...well, you get the idea. I can't resist the red, white, and blue.
So this is what happened in the all-too-rare sewing time I grabbed yesterday. These are table toppers based on the pattern below, which was in my recent swap package with Randy. These won't get quilted in time, but they may just grace a tabletop for now anyway.



The colors in the photo on the pattern didn't grab me, but I knew I was free to take it where I chose--and I chose red/white/blue. Anyway, who can resist a pattern named "Box of Chocolate"?



There could be a lot of wasted fabric in this pattern. You construct it by making strip sets and then cut out the wedges with a 60 degree ruler.

Look at those leftover triangles on the sides. Something had to be done with those. So something was.


You can click to enlarge the photo and see how things were lined up to trim down the waste.
All of my seams were pressed open, so it didn't matter which half I matched with what.

 
Stitch two of the newly trimmed triangles together and proceed to create another table topper from your scraps. It just reverses the fabric order. It will be almost as large as the original. I think my "scrap" topper is less than 1 1/2" smaller in diameter than the original. A nice save, I'd say.
In the photo at the top, the one on the left is the original, and the one on the right is the "scraps".


I was stitching the details on at the reunion, but the Buttermilk Basin wall hanging was finished in time for the auction. Here it is hanging al fresco, awaiting its turn up for bid. My older sister bought it.
It calls for buttons in the sunflower centers, but when I laid them out, it made this look like a button sample card, so I opted for randomly placed Colonial Knots, instead. When I was choosing the binding, I was going through my plaid shirt stash trying to find something in red/white/blue that would work cut on the bias. Everything that matched was too large a scale for this little piece. Then I recalled that DH had just donated a shirt to my stash, and I had just washed it. I found it in the laundry and it was just what I wanted.


Have I mentioned before that I am a lazy quilter (I believe I have)? And do you know what this lazy quilter doesn't enjoy about quilting small wool pieces? ALL of the thread color changes!!
It is not just rethreading the quilting machine--it is the tension check required after each change of thread color, brand, and weight.
Nine different colors and three weights and brands were used in quilting this, and sometimes I would finish with a color, move on to the next one, and then see that I had missed a place with the previous color. Arrgh!






But I persevered and got it finished. Here you can see the back before buttons were attached and knots stitched. Other than the quilting, it was a pretty fun piece to stitch.





My sewing room has turned into a disaster area, so before it requires federal funding, I decided to do a little cleaning here and there. I have had to dig into the shirt stash a time or two lately--and always when I am in a hurry, so rather than being tucked away afterward, shirts were strewn all around the room. I was stepping over them to get anywhere. Last night, on another steroid induced sleepless night, I tore the shirts out of the closet and let the fun begin.
I should have done the before/after photo thing, but I never think of it until after.

This may not look very neat, but believe me, this is organized!! Shirts that have been deconstructed are in baskets by color or project, or there is that one neat shelf of folded blue deconstructed shirts. Most of my shirts are still intact, and I hack on arm or front panel off when I need the fabric. But I have found that I can squash more shirts into a cubby when they are rolled, so that is what I do. I don't have enough cubby space, so the purple shirts are down to the right side and there are some low level piles on the floor. Hopefully I can get more shirts taken apart and free up more space. I don't like having the floor piled up, but this is so much better than it was. I tossed a large box of shirts that I realized were just not great fabrics to work with, even though they are 100% cotton.



Up on a high shelf in the same closet I have a couple more piles. These are mostly teals and pastel stripes. I'll have to get the step stool to get to them, but it isn't that hard. 
It feels so good to have that done.







And while cleaning, I came across a bag of really small Kim Diehl fabric scraps, so now there is another one of these in the works.





 Have another small quilt swap coming up. Just trying to decide how to quilt it.


Oh, how did this post get so long? I didn't think I had that much to say. I'll be quiet now.
Until next time, 
Janet O.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Haven't done much stitching--sprained my wrist a week and a half ago and couldn't use the rotary cutter until yesterday. Hand stitching was also painful, but I started doing that anyway a couple of days ago. The family reunion is Saturday, and this wall hanging must be finished for the auction!

Now I am at the "how am I going to quilt this?" stage--a decision I always find challenging.  I did pick up thread today that I think goes fairly well with the background. My intention had been to hand quilt the background and do some machine quilting on the wool, but that decision was made for me when I slipped on the wet grass of our berm, wearing my "no traction" garden clogs and caught myself as I went down, with my wrist. One of my finer moments. Now it will all be by machine! But since I do have osteoporosis, I am just grateful it was only a sprain!

 And then there is the mini Dresden quilt. The center circles are not stitched down (and they are NOT perfect, even though they are closer to perfect after using Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles than they ever would have been without).
I can't decide if the circles need to be a consistent color, but I couldn't find a color that contrasted with all of the Dresdens and yet fit in. I also don't know whether to bind the quilt in the purple you see on the side, or border it with it, and choose something else for binding. I'm leaning toward bordering it, but then I need to come up with a binding.

The little basket quilt made from leftovers of one of Mom's quilts, and part of Dad's favorite blue plaid shirt now needs a border. It has been hanging on my design wall for a couple of weeks like this, and I believe I prefer the fabric on the right.
It is a little calmer than the one on the left, and it is such a busy, scrappy thing that I think "calmer" will be good. I plan to bind it with a blue, if I can find one I like with it. Haven't yet.

DD#2 had a getaway with her hubby to Hawaii recently. She brought me these fun goodies (along with some delicious gluten free coconut macaroons--which are no longer around for a photo). The decorative box is made with woven orchid stems, which is so fitting, since I have half a dozen orchid plants. It will provide pretty storage for my empty quilting machine bobbins. I am going to put my collection of the row by row plates up along the top of my sewing room wall, kind of like a wallpaper border. So fun to have one from Hawaii! My only decision here is how I can best show off the pretty batik print, but I have some ideas.

My thanks to those of you that have added my brother to your prayers. He is still in the hospital. This is his third stay this month, and he has already spent 15 days there, most of them in ICU. He has had two heart procedures, and has struggled with infections and a flare up of another condition that troubles him. Hopefully tomorrow will find him out of ICU! DH and I celebrated our 39th anniversary this week by taking my Mom to the hospital 90 miles away to see him. It would have been Dad and Mom's 65th anniversary on the same day, if Dad hadn't graduated in December. But it was a good day. We were glad we spent it as we did.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Baskets By Barb

Look at this beauty. I love those little baskets.
 
This is Barb's half of our swap, and it arrived at my home Wednesday. Sorry I have been slow to get it posted.  






It is beautifully hand quilted, too. If you follow Barb (and if you don't, you should), you know Baptist Fans are her signature quilting pattern. I am so honored to have this in my home! 







Not too long ago I won a giveaway on Barb's blog, so I know she does a package up right. This is what I found when I opened the box in which this quilt was sent.  The quilt was wrapped up in that wonderful beehive/bee fabric (I do live in the beehive state). 

The pink bag contained this yummy treat from Barb's recent trip to the South.








The yellow tissue paper enclosed this great selection of CW charms.





                                                 And finally, there was this panel of vintage-style  designs to use in friendship/signature quilts.

But there was a scary side to this swap. I sent my quilt to Barb on Tuesday of last week, and she had it by Thursday. Barb sent this to me on Wednesday of last week--we both used Priority Mail, but as of Monday of this week I had still not received her package. After being held hostage by the USPS for six days, when the little quilt was released, it could not seem to relax and lay flat.

What I do when this occurs is just lay the  quilt on a flat, waterproof surface (like a kitchen counter), and give it a spraying of water--but don't soak it. This will relax the fibers and then as it dries, it tightens back up just a bit and lays nice and flat.
Thank you, Barb, for a most delightful and "Fun with Barb" swap!

Just want to share one other "little" thing. I've had a clip on a stand for a little while now, for displaying mini quilts. It comes in two sizes, and I had considered buying the smaller size to use for smaller quilts, but never actually did it.
Just last week, while spending way too much money in a bookstore, I found this in their gift section--on clearance, at half price! How long do you think I had to ponder that purchase? It is even smaller than the one I didn't buy at the quilt shop. Here is the new one holding a 4" quilt.










And here you see the two side-by-side.
 


























That is it for now. Until next time,
Janet O.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Irresistible!

I am having way too much fun with these little Dresdens. I had said I could see a little Dresden quilt in my future--welcome to the future. I can't stay away from them!
The plates are just pinned to the blocks, awaiting my half-hearted applique efforts.
I had some "Wild Orchid" yardage and thought it might make sweet little Dresdens, but decided I wanted more variety. Luckily, a LQS had some mini charm packs and I was able to get two "plates" cut from each mini charm. 
Just playing with possibilities here. I'm pretty sure I want to use that plaid for sashing. I haven't used any of the black fabrics, and was wondering if it would be too glaring to use it as the cornerstones and Dresden centers. What do you think?

Speaking of the centers, when I posted about my fear of appliqueing the circles, and chickening out and using wool, Sue mentioned that I might want to give these a try. So I ordered them, and will attempt "real" appliqued centers on this mini quilt.
Thanks, Sue--I think. : )  (I'll let you know for sure after trying them.)


Had another swap in May. This is what I sent to Barb. I actually didn't start out making it for her--just making it to make it. But as I worked on it, I kept feeling like it belonged at her house--if you follow Barb's blog, you know why. 
I named this one "Honoring Abraham".





It looked really good at my house, but it will look even better at Barb's.
I haven't received her little quilt yet, but when it arrives (we think it is taking the Priority Mail scenic route across the country), you know you will see it here!













I was behind on the little ornaments I am making from Dad's favorite blue plaid shirts. I missed the May birthdays of my oldest sister and DD#2. Got all 4 ornaments made and delivered this week, but only remembered to get a photo of these two.


For this year's family reunion auction I decided I would make this Buttermilk Basin free pattern, Spirit of America, from the Henry Glass website. I linked to this and a little pieced quilt pattern in my last post.
(My friend, Gayle, has already pieced the other little design--you can see it here. I love it. She used one of my favorite color combos!)


Haven't started stitching this down yet, but it is all fused.  The buttons are not attached. This was their audition moment.

Real Life Update (I don't usually do this, I know).
Today I spent 5 hours in my gardens, and my body is talking to me! The gardens were such a mess! Due to the shoulder issues I had all last year, they have been sorely neglected, and now I am paying for it. I should have taken "before" and "after" photos. I can hardly believe the difference. And I still have the largest bed to clean up and plant, but it will have to wait until next week sometime--preferably on a day that isn't in the 90s!
May has been quite a medical month in my family. I've been on another course of steroids, for hearing loss again. My sister and I have been going to physical therapy together (for different body parts), my Mom had a mini stroke, and my brother was admitted to the ICU for heart issues. He will be getting a pacemaker next week. I am hoping June is a little kinder!
Until next time, 
Janet O.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A whole bunch of randomness!

I did it! I updated my Tuffets Tute to show how I have had the greatest success making a smooth closure on the Tuffets. You can find it in the tabs under my header photo, or just click here.
In order to get photos of the process I made another boxy pincushion--the little purple and cheddar one. This tiny thing finishes at 2" square.
If you look closely you can see a pin head on the bottom edge of the dark pincushion. I hadn't stitched it closed yet. : )
And, as you can see, I couldn't resist taking the little Dresden to the dark side. I love the way a black background makes colors pop!

If you recall the block Lisa Bongean designed for The Splendid Sampler, you may recognize the center of this. Lisa called her block "Dedication Rose", and it was designed for needle turned applique, but I did it in wool.

And then I gave it a few borders to make a little medallion quilt out of it.

 My red/white mini Burgoyne Surrounded was intended to be entered in our State Quilt Guild Jubilee show of red/white quilts, but life happened--and my entry did not. It would have been the first time I entered a show. I finally got another block made. I am making this square, so I only have 5 more blocks to go.
I think it is fun to see how much the 97 pieces in each block shrink as you assemble them.

 


Since everything is already cut for the whole quilt, and some of the little units are assembled, you may wonder why I haven't whipped this up faster. I'll tell you--because it takes so much concentration!! More often than not I am sewing at night and I am too tired to think this hard. But I will say that the red/white version is easier than the black/tan/cheddar version that I did a couple of years ago.

The beast has been set aside for a while now, but I have completed all of the quilting in black thread and white thread. I'll probably do the gold, light blue, and bright green blocks next, but I am struggling to match those greens with a thread. I'll do the grey and navy blue blocks last. There are a lot of those.



If you have followed me for any length of time you know how much I love red/white/blue projects. Take a look at these two free patterns by Stacy West (Buttermilk Basin) available from Henry Glass.
On the left is an 11" x 17" wool applique pattern and on the right is a little pieced quilt about 22" x 28". Oh, I want to make them both. You can find the pattern links here.




I debated whether or not to share this. You have seen a lot of my Mom's quilts lately. But here we go. On Mother's Day the women's auxiliary organization of my Mom's congregation held a little reception with a fruit/veggie buffet after their meeting. 
They featured as many of my Mom's quilts as she could gather. I had to go get photos, but I will just share one I took when I slipped in early, before the women arrived. There are 15 of Mom's quilts displayed here, all hand quilted in her tiny stitches. The quilt in the corner won sweepstakes at our county and state fairs many years ago. It went to the Houston show, too. It is a simple Irish Chain--the thing that made it win is Mom's quilting.

One more random thing, after sifting through the comments on my giveaway and weeding out the No-reply comments that didn't include an email address, the random number generator chose a winner for my drawing. Gayle (middlesister blog) is our winner. Gayle already had the book, and she graciously offered that it be gifted to another winner. So back to the random generator and this time it selected Kristie (cowgirlquilter blog). Congrats to you both. Your winnings will be on their way soon!

Until then,
Janet O.

p.s. Thanks to everyone that left a comment on the giveaway. I enjoyed hearing from so many that usually don't say much. I had 21 "no-reply" comments this time--more than ever. I appreciate the six that left contact info in their comment. If you are "no-reply" and you don't leave your email address in your comment, you are not entered. Sorry, it is just too complicated to deal with winners that can't be contacted. This is supposed to be fun. : )



 



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