Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Grand Day Out!

 I don't know how many Wallace and Gromit fans there are out there, but you know who you are and you will recognize my title. I just needed a day out--or even part of a day. This past Thursday I was going stir crazy. I had been home from the hospital for a week and hadn't been farther than a walk around the farm. I still can't do much for any length of time, but there is a mountain canyon 10 minutes from our home and the fall colors are at their peak. DH had taken the afternoon off, so I suggested we just buzz up the canyon a few miles and see the color. Then I realized we wouldn't be far from a very fun quilt shop on the other end of that canyon, but I didn't know if I could tolerate 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. DH's idea was that we could stop in the canyon and I could walk around a little to break up the trip. It was a great opportunity to get some photos of the color, too.

The quilt shop did not disappoint. Along with some great CW fabrics from the clearance corner and a few Jo Morton FQs, I snatched up this pattern when I saw it.
I have enjoyed seeing the Schnibbles everyone makes, though I have never made one. The thing that caught my eye about this one was that last May I purchased a couple of pin cushions in The Gathering Place, a great quilt shop in Rupert, Idaho. I gave one away and kept one and I have wished I could find a pattern to make more. This is the one I kept and I thought with the help of this pattern I could make something like it.
So the pattern came home with me--after we had stopped for fresh peach milkshakes at the local burger joint. Yumm!! The adventure wore me out, but it was worth it. : )

The mail had arrived by the time we got home and I found a surprise from my friend, Mary C., in Washington. She had sent me shirt parts and photos of a quilt she had posted recently that boggled my mind. Thanks so much, Mary. Always fun to get surprises!

Today was the day for doing something with these treasures. First I put a couple of the shirt parts to work in the most recent Barrister's SAL block. Thanks for an easy one this time, Randy. Turned out well.

Then I went to work with the Tuffets pattern. These "tuffets" looked very much like the purchased pin cushions I bought in Rupert, except for the fact that the "tuffets" are more like little pillows and I liked the dimension of the one I bought. I put my brain in a higher gear that it has been in for a while and thought I could figure out how to make them have the dimension I wanted. So I played around and made my first one with the leftovers from my Halloween mini quilts (I knew I would end up making something with them). I followed the pattern pretty closely for my first attempt and it was much larger than I had expected. After that I started winging it and made them a little smaller.
There was some trial and error involved, but I think I have the bugs worked out now. I filled them with walnut shells, but you can use poly filling, too. I think this is my new obsession--I can see so many possibilities, and wouldn't they make great gifts?
Here they are with the one that inspired me. I think it feels right at home there. : )
So Thursday was a grand day out, and today was a grand day in--sewing!
Until next time,
Janet O.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I am so spineless!

The little rail fence blocks finish at 3".
Have I said that before? If I haven't, I have sure been thinking it. I wasn't going to make anymore minis for a while. You must admit I have certainly gone overboard in that area lately. But when I saw what Kris had made here with her orange and black fabric I couldn't resist. I really like holiday quilts in the holiday colors, but not in holiday fabrics. Get it?
You may notice that I slipped a little green in this one (and a lot in the next one). I actually considered throwing in some purple, because I love the color, but I guess I am pretty old school. I am still trying to figure out when purple was added as a Halloween color.

I had lots of leftover little 1" strips so, of course, I had to do something with them. Hence, this little 9-patch was born. Those 9-patch blocks finish at 1 1/2". So tiny--I love them!
There are still a few ends of strips and little squares left from making this and I considered a mug rug, but I was able to stop myself this time before going to that extreme to use up every scrap from a project.

When I made the two "Labor of Love" minis, I just kept making 4-patch blocks as leader/enders, even after I had enough. So today I made some HSTs out of some scraps that were handy, to go with those extras. This is bigger than the original. I didn't get quite the contrast I had thought I would in the HSTs. I wanted to use Fall colors, but maybe I should have chosen a brighter one as one of the two colors. This will probably get the same clamshell quilting that the other two received. I liked the look and the clamshells fit perfectly into the blocks.

Are you joining Lori of Humble Quilts on her latest QAL? You can see I have cut random strips from my CW scrap basket. I don't have any solid red, so I selected a Judie Rothermel FQ to create my "Mountain Trail". I have the 20 4-patch units made and I am ready for the next step this Friday.

I finished my two latest Barrister's SAL blocks tonight. Randy, is it something I did wrong? I was cutting off points right and left to get these blocks finished at 6 1/2". But I am leaving them as they are. I like the blocks, I just couldn't make them work the way I think they are supposed to. Probably operator error. Or did anyone else have this issue?
It is Fall in the Rockies and I love looking out at the color creeping over the mountains. 
When I step out my back door to take photos I often have visitors. Aren't they cute? Love how they posed for me.
Thanks to those of you who have sent your prayers and concern as I have been recuperating from surgery. I am doing well and the trouble is I feel like I can do more than I should be doing yet. But by the end of the day I am pretty tired and sitting isn't very comfortable. Hopefully I will be back in the swing of things in another week or two.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just a few quick things.

This should be short, and won't that be refreshing?
I got September's BOM for my "Random Roses in Jamestown" sewn up.
One of my "labor of love" minis from Cheri's blog is now bound.
We were thrilled when my daughter's neighbor won the quilt Randy donated to her fundraiser.
This is LaReen and she is a sweetheart!
And this was the "haul" I referred to on my last visit to the thrift store for "a couple" of men's shirts for my Barrister's Sow-Along blocks. Several great neutrals, along with some wonderful colorful plaids. On the bottom of the right-hand pile you see two identical shirts. I actually have a third of that same shirt and I am considering using them as sashing and border fabric for the Sow-Along.
I wanted to show you what we are dealing with in Northern Utah. We don't really have fires burning in our part of the state, but they are raging in the Northwestern states above us. The jet stream is currently bringing all of that smoke right to us. Remember these lovely mountain views I sometimes share from my deck?

This is what we see now--same mountain. I wish I could hold my breath for a few days!!
Finally, I did draw Saturday for the "Fall"-ing Stars mini from the names of those who donated to my daughter's fundraiser for I was just too tired to post it after two days of fundraising. Carla (no blog) was the winner. I was happy to know that this brightened her day, as she has just been recovering from eye surgery. I met Carla earlier this year at a LQS. She lives just a couple of hours away.
I'm too tired to do links on this post (I'm tired a lot lately), so I am going to wimp out on you.
I will be away from the sewing machine and computer for a few days. I'm not ignoring any of you--and I will be back. Consider yourself warned! : )
Until then,
Janet O.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Isn't this fun?

This is the happy quilt Randy sent for my daughter's fundraiser this week to raise research money for Dravet Syndrome  In this photo it is stretched out and pinned over several layers of sheets. I mistakenly left it stored in the box Randy sent it in, and when I took it out this week the creases were pretty ingrained. So it has been through a cool rinse and blocked to restore its creaseless beauty.

I have been very touched by the selfless generosity of so many bloggers. This is the second quilt Randy has donated to the cause, Doniene sent a top that I quilted for the fundraiser last month, and several of you have donated to the cause on my daughter's blog. In an effort to thank those who have helped, I made this little fall wall hanging (which I hope to get quilted next week) and indicated that it would be given away in a drawing from the names of those who had donated $10 on my daughter's blog. This page also tells the story of my grandson's battle with this dreadful seizure disorder. Ben is such a precious little guy and we want to do all we can to improve his quality of life, and that of all others who share this debilitating syndrome. My sincerest thanks to all who have felt impressed to contribute in any way.
The drawing for "Fall"ing Stars will take place Saturday night (9 p.m. MDT).

Now I don't want to shock anyone with this next bit. After all, I have been the very last name on the link to SewCalGal's FMQ Challenge more times than not, but I am actually going to post my challenge effort by the middle of the month this time. I won't know what to do with myself come midnight the last day of September.
Paula Reid is our FMQ expert this month. She taught us her "Stuff and Fluff" technique to use in quilting large quilt, and shared a stencil pattern for us to try. I tried the "Stuff and Fluff" as I put an overall pattern on this baby blanket for my friend's great-granddaughter. I think the technique would be more useful with larger quilts, but I didn't have one to quilt at the moment.
The main part of the challenge was to quilt a feathered wreath using the stencil design she had acquired permission to share. It is not a continuous design, so there is overstitching involved. When I first started the FMQ Challenge I could not follow a line to save me. One of the benefits of following this monthly challenge is that I have actually reached the point that I feel like I can follow a line--but I still can't backtrack over my stitching very well. So I did this on a light fabric with a lighter weight, light-colored thread, so my backtracking flaws are not so obvious. : )
It is a very pretty wreath, but I don't know how often I would want to do the backtrack stitching. This is from The Stencil Company, and challenge participants receive a discount on orders placed this month. May I recommend that if you want a wreath stencil, but don't want the overstitching, check out this one and order it while you have a discount.
This is from The Stencil Company. I ordered it a few months ago. It is more of a Sally Terry style "hooked" feather, so there is no backtracking. I still struggle with feathers, but I think I could do this on a quilt.
As long as I am working ahead of deadlines for a change, I will show you my latest Barrister's Sow-Along blocks which are, amazingly, completed days before the next batch are posted. Oh, these plaid shirt blocks are addictive. I was in the thrift store again today and really scored some beautiful plaids and stripes! They will be in future blocks, I am sure.

Two more little items--you know me and little things--I quilted up my little labor of love" quilts from Cheri's Labor Day instructions. Just used clamshells and I think they turned out cute. Need to get them bound and find homes for them.

Finally, you may have noticed the button on my sidebar for the Mrs. Claus project over at Debbie's Stitchin' Therapy blog. I got my doll quilts finished and sent off to her this week. Another project completed well before deadline. This could be habit forming. It feels great to be finishing things without  the pressure of an imminent deadline.

This post got out of hand--again!! Should come as no surprise, I guess.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why do I do this?

Do you recall the problem I had when Temecula Quilt Co. posted their Blessings Baskets SAL? I couldn't stop and ended up making 4 of those (you can see them all HERE).
So I wasn't going to do that with their Summer Stars SAL, and I didn't. I only made three sets, (but there is a fourth one playing with my mind). This was the first. In my last post I was struggling with the dark sashing overpowering it and asked for input. I tried the options and advice and this is how it finished. The narrow band of blue at the top is the tryout for the binding.
Before they posted the setting I decided to make the "Fall"-ing Stars mini using their star block patterns and I put it in the setting of their Blessings Baskets (see it HERE, along with info on how you could win it by donating to Dravet Syndrome research). Both SALs use 4 1/2" blocks, so they are interchangeable. I thought that was handy.
I liked it well enough that I decided to make another one as a gift, but using only five of the stars. I tried narrower sashing on this one, and I liked it, so I used the narrower sashing on the first one (I assembled it last of the three).
Here we have all three.
Maybe I should just stop following the Temecula blog. Their little quilts are like Lay's Potato Chips--I can't do just one. You may recall a few posts ago I showed a mini rail fence quilt I made using a quilt on their blog as inspiration. Then I made a second one with the leftover rail blocks. And a third mini materialized from the trimmings. I had to take the border off of the third one to finish the sashing on the star quilt at the top of the post, so I finally bordered this little piece with something else and yesterday I quilted it and finished the binding today. This is a 7 1/2" square. The little squares are 1/2" finished. Would you say this is a Super-Sized mug rug or a very tiny quilt? I can't decide.
 You can see the quilting a little better on the back. Nothing fancy.
Recently my very kind blog friend, Teresa, loaned me her Marti Michell templates to finish cutting my "Ramblin' Rose Meets Jamestown" (aka Random Roses in Jamestown) BOM blocks. So they are now all cut (much more easily than without the templates) and I finally got last month's block stitched up. It is top, left. The blocks along the bottom are on design boards, waiting their turn to be stitched. The pattern calls for log cabins as setting blocks. I think I may use chain blocks instead.
Finally, in keeping with my lack of self-restraint, I'm showing what I did after Cheri shared some little quilts on Labor Day.  These finish at 8 1/2" by 10 1/2". I needed some quick leader/enders while I made the star quilts and the BOM. My CW scrap basket was handy, so this was a no-brainer. But why couldn't I just make one?
Lately I have really been going overboard on the minis. I need to get serious about finishing a big quilt for a change. But first I need to quilt some of these minis that are soon to be gifts. I'd better go warm up  Gidget. 

Until next time, 
Janet O.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Always Playing Catch-Up

That just seems to be my MO. I finally got the last six blocks of the Barrister's Sow-Along completed (new ones will be posted next week). Anything that could go wrong did. I cut wrong, unpicked, recut, sewed together wrong, unpicked, resewed, didn't like one of the fabrics, unpicked, cut something else, resewed. They eventually got finished, but it took so much longer than it should have.
I really like these blocks, but they were quite labor intensive (at least with my constant mistakes), so I may only make one or two of them for my Christmas quilt. I know I said early on that I wasn't going to fussy-cut these plaids and stripes, but I just couldn't do that lower right hand block without it.

Here is how all of the blocks look together so far.

I think I will be sashing these and putting them on point--at least that is my plan as of today. That could change. 

The other "catch-up" I always seem to be doing is the SewCalGal FMQ Challenge. The August Challenge was a fun looking design that the instructor, Wendy, called Jester Hats. I struggled to get the hang of where to go after each hat. I couldn't get the flow. My first practice piece ended in frustration. I printed Wendy's tutorial page and traced it repeatedly. I was finally ready to try again. I think it came a little easier this time, but I still had to think really hard. I don't know if this one will ever just flow naturally for me, but I do like the look of it.

So, Sarah was right when she told me that the Temecula Summer Stars SAL final week might just be the setting and not another star. I decided to set mine differently--well, really it is the same as the setting I used for the "Fall"-ing Stars I made and shared in my last post. I just have everything laid out on a design board. I played with different sashings, cornerstones and borders and couldn't seem to get a combination that clicked. This is the one I like the best so far, but the sashing sticks out. I tried a lighter color and didn't like it. Do you think if I bind it in the navy blue that it will tie it all together, or does there need to be a narrow navy border in there somewhere?
August has been crazy busy and September is looking to be the same. I was feeling the need for something fun and DH (who had the day off) offered to drive me to a quilt shop I've been hearing about. It is just under two hours away. I was pleased with what I found at Sages Creek in Pocatello, Idaho. I came away with this pile to add to my stash.
Yes, it was very fun. We had a good visit on the drive to and from--it is a pleasant drive through farmland and small towns--and we had a nice dinner in Pocatello before returning home.
Hope you are finding time to stitch.

Until next time,
Janet O.

My previous post has a link to donate to for research (my grandson has Dravet Syndrome) and a chance to win the "Fall"ing Stars mini quilt pictured there, for donating $10 by Sept. 15th.