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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

It's all about plaid! Lots and Lots of plaid!

This post seemed to feature a lot of plaid things, so I took that theme and ran with it! And I ran a LONG way!! :)
For my July mini I finished up my little plaid quilt. It ended up being just over 8"x10".
I quilted 1" clamshells through the center and did SITD around the HSTs on the sides. I marked the clamshells with a stencil before quilting them. With my shoulder issues, it has been a long time since I did any FMQ, and there is a lot of wonkiness in those clams!

I haven't been able to narrow down a source for this design, other than Kathie Holland. One blogger suggested it might be Lori Smith. That sounded reasonable, but a search through the patterns on her website did not bring up this design.

In my last post I mentioned that this was the first mini I had made using homespuns. It is possibly the only quilt of any size I have made from homespuns.
I have made many quilts using plaids, but they have always been culled from men's thrift store shirts. Though Civil War repros are my favorite fabrics, plaids come in a close second. I decided to look back and see just what I have made from all of those shirts stashed in my sewing room closet.

I think this table runner was one of my first attempts. It finished at about 24"x14".
At Christmas this sits under my German Pyramid nativity.

This is the closest to a finished shot I have of this table runner that was made using many of the same shirts as in the project above. This was a gift for DD#1 a few years ago.
I made it using a Tara Lynn Darr pattern from her Simply Charming book, and I just lengthened it a bit to make it into a runner.

Using some leftover strips from that creation, I stitched up this simple rail fence table topper. It sits beneath the year round miniature Christmas tree in the "Christmas Corner" of my sewing room.          

In keeping with the Christmas colors theme, I made this quilt (still just a flimsy) using Bonnie Hunter's Smokey Mountain Stars free pattern. I call it Rocky Mountain Christmas.
Love this! I keep teasing myself that one of these days I think I will actually get it quilted in time for holiday use. Silly idea.

I have made a couple of other plaid minis. Baby Bow Ties is foundation paper pieced from a pattern found in an issue of the now OOP Miniature Quilts magazine. Each bow tie finishes at 1"! The whole thing finishes at about 8"x10".

This little patriotic piece is designed by Diane Hansen, and was featured in a Better Homes and Gardens publication, Make It Mini, published a few years ago. It finishes at 7 1/2"x6".

It now resides with my friend, Kris, in Oregon.

Another Bonnie Hunter design that I have made in plaids is Orca Bay, or as I like to call it, Sunset Over The Men's Department. Here it is on my design wall with the borders pinned in place. They are now attached, but it is also still a flimsy. Did I mention that my shoulder has given me grief for a few years now and I haven't done much FMQ? (I know--I've mentioned it many times.) :)
Mine is only twin size. That is as far as I could stretch the peach plaid and purple striped shirts. Obviously, my border is not as exciting as Bonnie's, but once I was at that point I was so done with HSTs. One big shirt made that last border.

The most fun I have had with plaids was constructing the Barrister's SAL quilt, hosted by Randy at barristersblock blog. You can find the links to all of her patterns in the tab by the same name under my header photo.
I loved choosing the shirts to work with for each block.
Again, this photo shows it on my design wall with the final border pinned in place. It is now attached, but again, this is still a flimsy. It is more a full size bed quilt. The last border took two shirts.

I have two other Bonnie Hunter designs in the works from plaid shirts. Since Bonnie is the one that inspired me to work with plaid shirts, it seems fitting to me to use them for most of her designs that I make.
As I prepared this post I realized how similar these two quilts are in colors. Maybe I can just combine the blocks from them that I have made so far and call it good. :)
This is Easy Street. Should have been finished long ago. All of the parts are cut out and I thought I had 9 of the blocks assembled. Imagine my surprise when I put them up on the wall and discovered there are 10! What is stopping me from getting this done? I really like this design.
When you step back from it (and get a few more blocks made) the chains stand out more. I love chains!

Last--and least--I have stitched two whole blocks of Midnight Flight, from the class I took from Bonnie last summer. The only color differences between this quilt and the one above is the mustard in the first quilt, and the black in the second.
From experience, I already know how easy it is to misplace pieces in these blocks. Maybe I can just make two more of these blocks, create a center medallion with them for the quilt above, and call it Midnight Flight Over Easy Street. LOL

That is it for plaid quilts, but I will share some plaid kilts with you, if you are still with me.

The Scottish Festival in Payson, UT was July 13-14. We had a great time and DH is already talking of returning.
There were strong men...


and women.

There were dancers ....                                                                     

and lots of pipers!                                                          

There were swordfighters...

...and even a Santa Claus or two were spotted in plaid. I think when this photo was snapped I was trying to convince him I was on the "nice" list. Don't know if it worked.

A highlight of the experience was the Scottish band The Fire. Three very talented musicians play traditional and original music, and they are good!
Listen, if you would like, to about 30 seconds of the "hyper piper", as he says he is called.
You have probably had more than your fill of plaid by now,
Until next time (when there will probably be no plaid),
Janet O.