Friday, July 31, 2020

July Monthly Mini

Look at me--posting my monthly mini before midnight on the last day of the month! I will be linking up with Wendy, our fearless (cheer)leader, at The Constant Quilter blog.
This month's mini came together mostly from leftover units and scraps kindly donated by Kevin at Kevin the Quilter blog.I did dig around a bit in my own scraps to come up with the sashing, border, and binding, but no actual yardage was harmed in the making of this quilt. It finished up at just over 13" square.
In my last post I received a comment from Lady Locust saying this made her think of Neapolitan ice cream. I liked that idea, so I am naming it Neapolitan. And with our temps reaching 100 these days, I could use a scoop of that about now.
This was finished with what I like to call "hybrid quilting". I used machine quilting for all of the stitch-in-the-ditch, and for the quilting in the outer border. Then I hand quilted down the center of each narrow sashing piece, and diagonally through the 4-patch blocks. I felt it needed a bit more, so I did echo quilting in the neutral triangles. You can see the quilting better in the photos below. You can also see very clearly that I drew no lines to follow on the hand quilting. I eye-balled it--so let's call it organic quilting. :)
Do you ever mix machine and hand quilting on the same piece? I have done it many times on my minis, but never on a large quilt. On the back you can see the machine quilting more clearly. And I see a space I missed. Can you spot it?
It is good to have an excuse to sew something fun in these monthly minis, since mask  making continues to consume most of my sewing time. Have now made over 300. Anyone need a mask? LOL

I have notified those whose names were drawn to receive the bag of HSTs (Dortha), magazines (Liz and Barb V.), and the stencil (Robin). As so often happens, several of those I originally drew have no email linked to their name, so I had to draw again (and again).

We have been trying to have dinner on our deck most evenings. This is what I captured there the other night--the video quality isn't the best, but listen to the birds, and watch the swallows swoop. You might want to expand the video screen to see the birds better.

Find something around you that makes you smile.
Until next time,
Janet O. 

RANT: At the risk of changing the mood and ending on a downer, I spent 3 hours last night in the new blogger trying to create this post. This is not my first rodeo--I have used the new blogger on the two previous posts with minimal inconvenience and adapting. Last night as I typed, the letters would appear slowly, one at a time, taking a couple of minutes for one sentence to show up after I had typed it. A paragraph could take 10 minutes to materialize. Photos would actually drag and drop this time (which they wouldn't on my last post), but resizing didn't always work. One photo was so huge it covered most of my post. It wouldn't resize. When I finally deleted just that photo and tried to preview the post, the preview wouldn't load--even when I went away and came back later to see if it was completed. I finally cut my post short and hit publish, only to have half of my words--in random places--not appear, and only a couple of photos show up. I deleted the whole post and walked away. Tried again this morning and saw things were much the same. Just to get this posted without tearing out my hair, I reverted to "Legacy Blogger." I am hoping these are all just glitches and won't be regular occurrences. Even Legacy Blogger was a bit touchy, but nothing like my trial with new blogger last night. Anyone else have a similar experience?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Twenty-two years in the making!

I began stitching the hexagon flowers for this quilt exactly 22 years ago next week! I know that because back then I was a volunteer for "The Festival of the American West" in our valley, and that is where I was taught English Paper Piecing.
This just came back from the quilter and I love what she did with it.  

I told her I wanted it to look like someone had hand quilted it, and I believe she got the feel I was looking for. In the photo above right you can get a better idea of the quilting, and on the left you can see the fun floral backing I used.
I cut the binding today. I will get it attached and start sewing it down within the next couple of days. So happy to see this finally getting completed.
Fun Fact: Monday I was watching an old movie "The More The Merrier" (starring Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea) while I made more masks. It is an old rom/com about the housing shortage in Washington D.C. during WWII. I happened to be glancing up at the screen just as they were showing an apartment building lobby filled with people on makeshift beds and one of the men had a quilt this same style over his. For just a second I wished the film was in color so I could see what one of these looked like in the 40s.

Yes, I did mention there that I was sewing more masks. Now that more and more stores are requiring them, and we are being told when school resumes in the fall kids will need to wear masks, I figure there is still a need. Have distributed more than 200, have 50 more made and ready to share, and another 50 or so are cut out waiting to be stitched. I don't enjoy changing thread colors, so I select a few masks that could all look good with the same color of top-stitching, and I make those masks assembly line style. When they are made I choose another thread color and sew whatever masks I have cut out that look good with that thread. You can see the super hero masks are at the top of the pile.

My good quilting buddy, Kevin H., sent me a bag a scraps and leftover parts earlier this summer. I started playing with them and making plans for a small quilt almost immediately. I incorporated many of the "parts", like the 4-patches and the HSTs.
The top has been finished and basted for weeks, but I haven't started the quilting yet. Thanks, Kevin, for a fun diversion from my self-imposed focus on UFOs. This may turn out to be my July monthly mini once it is quilted.

I was on my evening walk one night last week when a quilting friend called to me from her yard. She had just finished assembling a top using a bunch of Lori Holt fabrics with a few other fabrics mixed in. There were a lot of bonus triangles leftover and at first she thought she would do something with them, but after beginning to press and trim a few, she decided they were smaller than she wanted to use. Many of them would finish around 2", or a little smaller. She asked if I knew anyone who would want them, and I told her I could probably find someone. So here they are--they pretty well fill a 1 qt. zipper bag. They would make a cute little quilt in happy fabrics. If you want them, say so in your comment.

Speaking of little quilts, another blog friend sent me some copies of that great classic magazine, "Miniature Quilts." I already had 2 or 3 of them, so if you are interested in those, let me know. Thanks for the magazines, Randy!

Finally, one of my favorite border designs to quilt is the rope. I wanted to use it on the sashing for "The Beast," but I didn't have a stencil for it that was big enough, and I didn't want to freehand it on a king size quilt. I get most of my stencils from Quilt Creations International. I already have this stencil in 3 sizes from them, but I checked to see if they had any larger sizes. They had a 2 1/2" listed, which isn't much larger than the 2" I already have, but it was just large enough. I ordered it, but when it arrived it was only 2". Turns out they had mislabeled it on their website and in their catalog and no one else had caught it. They decided that it was a popular enough design that it wouldn't hurt to make it in 2 1/2", which they promptly sent me in just over a week. So now I have an extra 2" size. Anyone interested?

Enough housecleaning. I hope you are all finding things that give you joy in the midst of all this craziness. Whether it is quilting to your heart's content, peace and quiet in a daily devotional, tending to living things in your garden, curling up with a good book and losing yourself in another time or place, sipping a wonderful lemon peach herb tea (it really is yummy) as you enjoy a sunrise or sunset, or baking up a storm--maybe you are lucky enough to have family in your "bubble" and you get to hug grandkids--whatever your source of comfort and normalcy, I hope you are staying safe and not letting it all get you down. We will get through this!

Until next time (when I'd better have a monthly mini ready),
Janet O.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

JUNE monthly mini, etc.

I did have this almost finished in June, but the binding didn't happen until July. But here you have it. Linking with Wendy (theconstantquilter blog) for our monthly minis. Thanks for keeping us motivated, Wendy.
This is a very simple, straightforward little piece. Ten inches square with 4-patches finishing at 1". I had a bunch of little bits of red and blue binding pieces left by one of my machines over time, and there were many little red and blue strips in my scrap basket. I had been using these as leader/enders for a while, creating little 4-patch blocks. The muslin squares are from the backs cut out of the Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks after I appliqued them onto the muslin background. Everything came from one scrap basket or another. I usually make a patriotic mini in June for our family reunion auction, but that was canceled due to Covid19. I guess old habits die hard.

The quilting on this is all straight line done on my domestic machine. I thought about quilting something in the white, but opted to leave them empty and just quilt around the 4-patches and the borders.

We went camping for a few days last month and I took along the project-that-never-ends, otherwise known as Stars in the Garden, from a back issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects.
Who knows, it may get done in my lifetime yet. I think when I get the two center flowers finished I might start assembling what I have so far in order to keep me feeling motivated. That feeling comes and goes every year or two.

We celebrated our 42nd anniversary in June. Since we can't do many of our usual celebratory options, we visited a nearby migratory bird refuge and then got milkshakes. I wish I had taken my real camera. The photos I captured on my phone don't do justice to what we saw, but this was one of my favorites.

Back in April I dipped my toe into the mask-making pool (after having said I wasn't going to make masks), and at one point I thought I was done with it. But as our area has had a surge of new cases, I have made more than I ever thought I would. Have sewn and distributed 190 masks to date, and have orders for about 10 more at present. I don't charge for them, but when people find out I am making them I get inquiries.
This is what is currently in the works, with another pile of fabrics ready to be cut.
I think the color and pattern of fabric people choose tells me something about their personality. It is interesting.

My quilting and blogging time always decreases when there is yard work to be done. Add to that Mom's needs and mask making, and I have really been lax with the blog. May not be changing soon, but I will do my best to keep in touch.

Until next time,
Keep your hands clean and your face covered,
Janet O.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Beast Revisited

It has been a long time since I felt my shoulder could handle pushing this heavy, king-size T-shirt quilt around under Gidget's needle. It feels good to be seeing real progress now, and without shoulder pain.
This is my youngest son's college graduation quilt. He graduated 5 years ago. Do you think it is about time I completed it? When I started the quilting on this a few years ago my shoulder problems eventually brought it to a halt. After finally having surgery 2 years ago I thought I would get back to this quickly. But healing was slow and then other projects had gotten in the way. Now this is my machine quilting priority, and over the past couple of weeks I have quilted 16 blocks. I have four to go, and then I get to start on the sashing.

I am doing some pretty dense quilting, and I am trying to make each block different from any others.
Some turn out well--others, not so well. The block to the left is one of my favorites. The one below is in the "not so much" category.

I have never loved quilting pebbles, hence I don't do it much, so I can't do it well. But by the time I decided I wasn't thrilled with this block, I had gone too far to unpick (I just wasn't willing to do it at that point). Of course, this is the brightest, most fluorescent of all the blocks, which makes it  obvious. So be it.
These photos show a few of the other designs I used in the quilting.

This T-shirt quilt has a twin brother. My oldest son graduated from the local university in 2011, and only 4 months later his T-shirt graduation quilt was quilted and bound. Of course, I didn't do the quilting myself. Here is the twin--and they were only born 4 years apart. How is that for a trick?
Between the two of them, these are the quilts that compelled me to learn machine quilting. When I picked up this quilt from my machine quilter, she told me about all of the problems she'd  had with breaking thread and wacky tension as she quilted it. Then she said that she wouldn't be sad if she never had to do another t-shirt quilt. My youngest son was already in college by then and already had the t-shirts stacking up (my sons were joiners). At that moment I figured I just needed to learn to do it myself, and that very month I was attending my first machine quilting classes (where I was, in all honesty, the class dunce).

One other near completion, my "Mom's Flower Garden" quilt finally got the border attached. Here it is on the guest room bed, making sure it is the size I want before I send it off to be quilted. Yes, there are too many quilts in the queue, so I am quilting this one by check.
Every couple of years I hire a friend that does excellent work and let her finish one of for me, and this is one of those times. I am excited to have her work her magic and get this 22 year old UFO into the "finished" pile!

And lest you think you are on the wrong blog, I do have a couple of small quilts that are in the works. One of them should end up being my mini of the month and will make an appearance here soon.

Our little valley has had an explosion of Covid cases in the past couple of weeks. We went from under 100 to over 700--heavily related to employees at a meat packing plant. Hope you are all able to stay safe, wash your hands, social distance, and wear a mask when you can't.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

May Monthly Mini and Moonrise for Maggie

Don't anyone fall over in shock that I am posting my monthly mini a whole week before the month ends. It is highly out of character for me, I know. I will link with Wendy at The Constant Quilter blog for our monthly mini at the end of the month
This is from the Pam Buda pattern Cinnamon Sticks from her Tokens of the Past "Spice Box" collection. I actually bought this in kit form--rare for me. The cool pincushion with it is from a swap I had with Julie last August. You can see in the pattern below that this mini has a border, but when I got mine to that point it just felt finished.
The batting was very flat cotton, so it was hard to get a good photo of the quilting design I used, but I did the best I could to adjust the lighting. Maybe you can tell what I quilted.
The official name of this pattern may be Cinnamon Sticks, but I have named mine Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Bears. That is how I prefer my cinnamon. :)

I do love red/brown quilts, and have made a few small ones. Okay, so the little one in the clip has a bit of pink in it, too, but overall it is red/brown.

Maggie's quilt got bound, washed, labeled and shipped. I am happy to report that the bleeding from the thread and the panda bears on the backing (bleeding panda bears--that doesn't sound good) was all taken care of when I washed it in blue Dawn and threw in three Color Catchers. The Color Catchers came out more grey than orange, but you could tell there was an underlying orange tinge to them.

Thank you to Debbie for the name  suggestion "Moonrise for Maggie." I loved that, and it went on the label, along with the acknowledgement that the quilt was made from Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay pattern.

Since I finish so few large quilts, I had to get a few glamor shots and celebrate the moment.
This was in the yard with some of the lilacs that are currently scenting the air. DH was a good quilt holder, even though the breeze was working against him.

Here is another shot with the lilacs.

And finally inside on my living room quilt rack. It is obviously brighter than what is usually in my home. The other quilts on the rack were made by my Mom.
Thanks for indulging me and my photo shoot. :)

You know, sometimes it is just really hard to give something away. Not because I don't want to give it, but because there is no one to take it. The first numbered comment I drew in my blogiversary giveaway was someone who asked not to be included. The next three were people who were "no reply" comments, and they had not included their email. I want to thank all those of you who DID include your email. Too bad you weren't one of the ones chosen by the random number generator. But FINALLY Barbara Black came up as the winner and she has been notified, and her prize will be in the mail soon.

Thanks for all your lovely comments. They brighten my day. It is fun to hear from so many of you.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Maggie's quilt and a blogiversary

Maggie is my youngest granddaughter. She just turned 5 and I haven't made a quilt for her since her two crib quilts. It was time. I gave my daughter the choice of a few finished tops I have on hand and she chose my version of Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay.  If you are familiar with this pattern you may recognize that I cheated and used stripes and plaids in place of the string pieced blocks. This is the quilt that made my mother exclaim, "I could never get to sleep under that quilt!" 
Here it is with the binding half finished. That's where it stands.
I am the world's slowest binder. I have already spent two very long evenings stitching on this binding. People always tell me I will get faster after doing more. Are they kidding? I bound my first quilt in 4-H about 50 years ago. Believe me, I am not getting faster!

I originally named this Sunset Over the Rockies when I first made it way back when, but since it was made entirely from men's thrift store shirts, I renamed it Sunset Over the Men's Department. That is hardly fitting for a little girl's quilt, so it may get a new name--again. I'm still pondering that.

It has been a very long time since I have finished anything larger than a wall hanging with an all-over design of FMQ. I always worry that I will not be able to keep the size of the design consistent throughout. To choose a design one of my go-to sources is this book of Patsy Thompson designs. It isn't really a book, but I made it into one. She has a slew of wonderful designs for free download on her website here.

Years ago, when I was first getting my feet wet in the free motion quilting sea, I participated in the SewCalGal (now QuiltShopGal) Free Motion Quilt challenge and Patsy Thompson was one of our monthly teachers. I felt like some things (feathers, for one) really clicked for me while following her tutorials, so I looked at what else she had to offer on her website and was excited to find her free designs. As I began downloading the pages, I knew I needed to organize them somehow. I created a cover to make sure she got the credit for everything and I had it printed on cardstock and laminated. Then I placed all of the designs between the covers and had the whole thing spiral bound. It is very convenient and helpful to flip through and find a design I want to try.
My attempts never turn out exactly the way hers do, and that's okay. She plants the seed of the idea with her design and as I try to replicate it a new version appears. On my practice piece I realized I was starting the design too small and it would take forever, use more thread, and make a stiffer quilt, so you can see that I shifted to a larger scale.

And speaking of the thread, I chose a salmony orange from Mettler. I prefer Aurifil for less lint and a finer thread, but they didn't have a color anywhere close.
The Mettler color was only available in the smaller spools. I had one and I bought the last four my quilt shop had. It is only a twin size quilt, so I hoped that would be enough. But it wasn't. I had about half of the last border left to quilt when I was totally out of thread. Knowing I would find no more in town, I decided I would just make do. I reached for a spool of orange Aurifil--so much brighter than what I had been using. I picked up the bobbin that was stored with it, but when I saw it in brighter light it wasn't the same color on the bobbin. It was the original Mettler thread I had been using and it was about half full. WooHoo!! The bobbin doesn't fit on the spool pin of my machine, so I hand wound it onto the spool I had just emptied. As I continued quilting the rest of the border I practically held my breath the whole way. I made it, but just barely.

This was quilted on Gidget, my HQ Sweet Sixteen. (Can you see the panda bear fabric I used for backing?) It is the largest thing I have quilted on it since my shoulder surgery two years ago and I could tell my left shoulder tired much more quickly than my right. I need to build up those quilting muscles. There are many larger quilt tops hiding in the closet. :)
I know I have touted the excellence of the Quilter's Select rulers before, but I have to put in another plug. Before stores closed down, I had purchased this ruler, which is for machine quilting. It is thicker than the rulers for rotary cutting, and it has finger holes. The coating on the back made this stay in place for straight line quilting better than ANY OTHER METHOD I have tried--and I have tried them all, from medical tape to sandpaper dots, and everything in between.  Believe me, this is worth it!
I used a stencil and a water erase marker to mark the design in the outer border. After it was quilted, I sprayed it with water to remove the marks. As I placed the quilt in my lap to start binding, I saw something I have never seen before. Not only had the panda fabric on the back done a little bleeding, but the thread had been bleeding, too. Have you ever had that happen?? When I finish the binding I will wash it with some color catchers and see if that helps, but this took me completely by surprise! At least it doesn't show on the front.

Wow, I really detailed you to death on this post, so if you stayed with me, here is the fun part. Today, May 16th, is the actual 9th anniversary of my blog. I have a little thank you giveaway for my loyal readers and friends.  
There is an autographed copy of Pam Buda's new book--Vintage Treasures, a little bowl filler I made from a leftover block when I made a log cabin doll quilt, a Moda design magnetic closure notepad, and one of my new favorite scented candles. They are made from palm wax, cotton wick, and essential oils. They are great and I want to share them.

Leave a comment if you are interested. If you have  commented before and never received a reply from me (I reply to everyone that has an email attached to their account), PLEASE leave your email address in your comment or I have to choose a new name.
On that note, happy blogiversary to me! :)

Drawing now closed!  

Until next time, 
Janet O.

Friday, May 1, 2020

April Monthly Mini

Didn't think I would get one made for April, but here it is, and it all happened on the last day of the month! I'm linking here with Wendy (The Constant Quilter blog) for our monthly minis.
Whoever coined the term "soft quilts for hard times" gets credit for this one (ETA--I believe I read it on Barb's blog, as she mentioned in her comment). I was making a mask (what else?) out of batik scraps from previous masks. I was laying out some 1 1/2" squares and realized I was pulling out all of the soft colors from the leftovers. I was preparing to make rows in the shape I needed in order to cut out the mask shape.

I had so many squares in these soft colors, and that is when it hit me to make a "soft quilt for hard times."
I set the mask making aside and started laying out the squares for a little quilt, using leftovers from the filter pockets in the masks to create the alternate squares. I quickly sewed the rows together, layered it with batting and backing, and drew some feather spines across the surface. You can barely see the lines in the photo above.

Then Gidget and I went to work, and this was the results. It makes me think of the Emily Dickinson poem, "Hope is the thing with feathers." So this little quilt in soft colors, made from remnants of mask making for Covid-19, and quilted with flowing feathers, will symbolize hope to me--hope for times when we can gather with family and friends without fear of infecting someone with a deadly virus. 
I will get the mask that inspired this little quilt made soon--all the parts are ready.

I had already made over 100 cotton masks when my brother challenged me to make a mask for a quilter. This soft colored one-patch is one of three that I am making to meet his challenge.
The one not pictured is strip-pieced in sunset colors. 

 And the first one was made from little thimbles (or tumblers). Can you tell I am smiling? I always find it funny when I am wearing my mask in a store and I smile at someone, then realize they have no idea I am smiling at them. Such is the world in which we now find ourselves.

Finally finished the runner for my brother's dining room table.
I used a stencil to mark the quilting on the blocks, but it wasn't enough. With the densely quilted feathers in the setting triangles, the blocks were poofing up (technical term). I had to go back to the blocks and add a couple more rows of quilting.

After more than two weeks since my last post you would think I could come up with more than this--but I can't, so there you have it. Going to work next on quilting a bed size quilt. Won't that be shocking!

Until next time,
Janet O.