Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Successful Swap and A "Simply Charming" Quilt

Way back in April of this year Maureen (Pursuit of Quilts blog) and I decided to do a summer block exchange. We settled on 6" finished churn dash blocks in CW repro fabrics, with 2-3 fabrics per block. Value placement didn't matter as long as there was contrast within the block. We agreed to making two identical sets of 4 blocks each of the three summer months and to keep one set and send the other off to each other. We have been keeping the results under wraps until we had all of the blocks exchanged.  You can see Maureen's quilt in the making here. Mine is below. I just made one more block for this setting.
It was such fun to get a new package of blocks each month and to see the variety of fabrics used. We only duplicated fabric once, and that was in the last batch--the upper right and lower left blocks. And, if you can believe it, our blocks are the same size!! This is my first block swap ever, but I understand that doesn't always work out.
DD#1 is trying to adopt and while she was visiting earlier this month she indicated that she would like baby quilts in CW fabrics. The light went on in my head. These were on a design board in my sewing room, so I took her in and asked what she thought. It was not my original plan for these blocks, but I am thrilled to have them end up as a baby quilt.

During the swap some other little goodies from Maureen found their way here with the blocks. There is a sweet little thread catcher (purple!!), that I have placed next to Gidget, and a wonderful hexie pincushion, which is currently doing duty at my cutting station.
Thanks for the delightful swap, Maureen! It has been a pleasure!

I finally have the flimsy ready for the Simply Charming Every Other Month Mini Quilt SAL. (BTW, where did everybody go that was participating in this?) I will post it now, because I won't get it quilted before the link closes. This is also for DD#1. It is part of her birthday request. Her birthday was in March, and she wanted two table toppers, but since one was a Christmas table topper from plaid shirts, I wasn't rushing to finish that one when I knew she wouldn't be using it for some time. I chose to do Coal Miner's Tunnel this time, but to make it a runner I removed one of the braid widths and made it just a tad longer. Hope you like it, Angie! : ) I get to deliver this one in person when we fly to NH for a visit in October!

This little project has been languishing for some time. It was a SAL back in May at quiltsbycheri blog called A Piecework Sampler. The blocks are only 3 1/2". As we neared the last couple of sets of instructions I lost my steam--had too many irons in the fire, like most every other quilter. But, happily, I found enough 3 1/2" orphan blocks to fill in the blanks. Cheri's setting called for bordering each block before adding sashing. The blocks have been laying around my sewing room for months and that bordering thing just wasn't happening. So while cutting sashing for the swap blocks above, I decided to just sash these and be done with it. I will be much more inclined to sew this up now.
I was going to link you back to Cheri's blog so that you could see her original setting, but the pictures from those posts are all missing. : (

If you are only interested in quilty content you can stop reading here. I just wanted to add a word about something that has been in the news a lot lately, that is a subject that affects our family deeply. If you saw this story on CNN's website recently, or this story from the CBS Evening News, or any number of other stories I am finding when I Google the subject, you are getting introduced to what life is like for the individuals with this rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome. This is what my youngest grandson has and we are watching the developments on this issue with great hope and interest. Ben is such a precious little guy. Here he is on his first day this year at his preschool for kids with special needs. Gotta love him!!

Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Distraction, A Flimsy, and "Hyper" Activity

It began innocently enough. I left a comment on Karen's blog and she replied. One thing led to another and somewhere along the line she sent me a link to a 6" finished Mariner's Compass block named Sunburst. I wasn't going to make it, but I downloaded the pattern out of curiosity. Before I knew what I was doing I had printed enough foundations to make the block, selected fabrics and actually started the thing.
 It wasn't my top priority, but it was my favorite distraction. I would work on it whenever I only had a few minutes to sew. When I finished it, I decided I didn't want it to be just a little 6" block, so instead of the corner pieces the pattern provides to square it up, I inset it into an 8" square and added some setting triangles. I thought I would bind it with black, but as I stared at it, I started to wonder if that much red was overpowering the whole thing. Then I tried a gold border before the binding.

This seemed a little garish to me, so I kept playing with my options. The idea came to me to actually strip piece the corners with the radiating colors. Why not? I've already paper pieced and appliqued (and not very well, I might add) to get this far. Why not throw in another process I don't love, right?
 This mock-up has me uncertain. Can't decide if it detracts too much from the center design. I guess I need to let this marinate more. Anyone have the perfect solution?

I did get something to flimsy stage that had actually been on my "to do" list. It had also been on my design wall all summer long, which was a nice patriotic touch for the sewing room. All it needed was to have the borders cut to size and sewn on. I really stall when it comes to borders! But finally!! My patriotic version of the Primitive Gatherings Picnic Quilt (aka Independence Day Picnic) is ready for marking, basting and quilting. 

And the adventures in hyper-quilting continue. I made up the bright orange batik and I call this one "Feathers on the Pumpkin." This one may be a little too "hyper." I used three thread colors, instead of two, like my previous experiments. The main feather is stitched in a color that blends so well into the fabric that about all you see are the embellishments.
One more batik is sitting, waiting it's turn to be hyper quilted. It is a deep plum color and I think it will be staying with me. Something I have learned while making these little feather pieces is that hand stitching down binding made of batik, onto a batik, isn't the easiest thing. My fingers are sore after just a little quilt like this.

My summer block swap with Maureen is almost over. I've got my last set of blocks ready to send off to her. When I have received her last set I will unveil the group and share my plans of what they will become. Now I need to get going on my August Simply Charming Every Other Month SAL quilt, Haven't even started!

Until next time,
Janet O.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Serving Up Some Leftovers and Other Stuff

As I was cleaning off my cutting table today (long overdue), I was putting some bonus HSTs into my "parts" bowl and decided to get a few little quilts laid out from some of the leftovers there. I pulled out three design boards and soon these were born. I only let myself work with stuff from the cutting table, in the "parts" bowl, or the scrap baskets.

They will be leader/ender projects as I work on the last few deadlined projects for this summer.

I have to admit that feathers have become a favorite for me and Gidget. After trying hyper-quilting recently, I had to do more. I selected a few more batiks and got one of them sandwiched up and quilted. I had to try Fall colors this time because when I go out to work in my garden in the mornings now, there is that nip in the air, even though the daytime highs are still in the 90s. This is in the process of being bound (obviously).
Can't decide whether to do the deep plum or bright orange next.

I wanted to share with you something DD#1 did while she was here. She liked the hexie flowers I did in that little AAQI quilt and wanted to give it a try. When it was time for her to go home she was starting to applique the flowers down and had chosen sashing and binding fabrics.

I am so excited to have a new Koala sewing chair. It is wonderful. I have had lower back trouble since I was about 10 and the lumbar support of this chair feels so good. I saved my pennies (well, dollars, really) for a few months and I have had it for a week now. I think it was money well spent.

Another new arrival is my latest AAQI purchase. When I first saw Jean's little quilts I knew I wanted the R/W/B one. I had read the description, but the size escaped me and I was unprepared for how small it is. This makes me love it even more. You know me and minis! : )  It is now proudly placed in its new home. See it in the lower right-hand corner of my small quilts wall? So cute!

I have volunteered at the county fair Home Arts building for years, and I have usually entered baked goods, or soap, or even some sewing, but I have never entered in quilting. My Mom, who enters a quilt every year, has tried to talk me into it many times, but I have always resisted. This year I decided that Black & Blooms was worth entering. You can see the top of the blue ribbon it received in the bottom of the photo.
Now that looks like a bigger deal than it really is. Everything gets a ribbon in our county fair, so a blue ribbon is good, but there are LOTS of blue ribbons given out. I do feel good about it, though, based on the judges' comments on the judging sheet. They had nothing but good to say.

Another rambling post. Wish I could bake cookies or something for everyone who sticks it out to the end.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

More Alzheimer's Art Quilts

When I posted my first AAQI quilts in May I received an email from Jean who wrote, "I like your AAIQ quilts and the stories they tell. They should sell fast. I have four in the works, and have more ideas, but I don't have a blog, so when they are registered I'll try to remember to send you the links to them. I was the full time caregiver for my husband who had Alzheimer's. He died in Dec. of 2000."
Jean's and hundreds of other little quilts are available for sale and I am happy to help get the word out. If your life has been changed in any way by Alzheimer's Disease, consider buying a little quilt to help fund research for a cure. Here are Jean's quilts.

14,957 - Hourglasses And X's--Sold--Thank You!

14,955 - Liberty--Sold--Thank You! 
14,956 - A Beautiful Mind Blocked--Sold--Thank You!

14,954 - Happy House/Sad House--Sold--Thank You!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Small Talk

Just another bunch of small quilts here. I really do have some bed quilts to work on, but it has been too crazy busy this summer to focus on them.
I need to post this last batch of AAQI quilts for the sake of the SewCalGal FMQ Challenge deadline. They have been inundated with a bunch of quilts right at the last minute (like mine). These are not available to purchase yet. I will post when they are listed on the "For Sale" page.

Flowers For Market--#15,501 This is dedicated to V. N., a long time acquaintance who raised a very large family and supported them literally with the work of her own hands. Even after this disease had begun its inroads into her mental abilities, she would cut the flowers from her garden every Saturday morning and have her caregiver help her take them to the local Farmer's Market to sell.
These flowers were made with 1/2" hexie papers and the quilting is just "straight line" around the hexies and sashing.

Furrowed Brow--#15,502 In memory of an old friend E.H., with whom I spent many hours, over many years, doing volunteer work in our church and community. For a time she would recognize me, even after her mind was going. But the last time I visited her before she died, as I approached her wheelchair with a greeting, she looked at me with a furrowed brow and worried expression. It was clear I had become a complete stranger.
The FMQ on this  one is shown here.

Justice & Liberty For All--#15,567 Dedicated to all those who have sacrificed to defend our freedoms. Straight line quilting around the pinwheels, stars and stripes finished this one off. 

 Lost Feathers--#15,566 Inspired by this saying...
“A bird that has lost its feathers can no longer sail through the skies. And a person who has lost her memories can no longer find her way through the world she once called home.”
I wrote the saying on a piece of muslin and sewed it onto the back of the quilt.
Obviously, this one was quilted with FMQ feathers.

Here are two other little quilts (not AAQI quilts) that have been finished lately. My "Winter Warmth", a composite of 3 Primitive Gatherings patterns, finally got bound with one of those great P. G. striped fabrics.

This last one was a product of the SewCalGal FMQ Challenge #3. I had already posted my finished project, but I was anxious to try some hyper-quilting. I pulled out a few batiks that struck my fancy and had a go. I really like the final product. I have another batik in a plum color that I am thinking of trying next. The year of the feather continues!
Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Squeaking under the wire--and some quality family time!

 As is my normal MO, I got my last 4 AAQI quilts registered by the skin of my teeth. Within 48 hours of the deadline, these 4 little quilts got registered and are now awaiting their number assignment so that I can send them in. When that time comes I will post about the meaning behind each quilt.
 If you think you have seen the red one before you are half right. This is a remake of the little quilt in my last post.
You may remember my frustration with the batting poking out the back on my first attempt at this design. I received many good suggestions from readers, for which I am very grateful. It helped me realize that I am still quite a novice at this machine quilting stuff and I have a lot left to learn. I spent time searching online for insight into the possible problems mentioned, and learned that many battings have a top and bottom side--and mine was probably upside down, my needles were too big for the thread I was using, and I needed to tweak my tension adjustment on my bobbin. This second attempt wasn't perfect on the back, but the problems were greatly reduced, and I felt better about sending it off.

Aside from these little pieces, there hasn't been much quilting action at my house lately. There have been some major milestones to celebrate. My father turned 90 last week. He is still active and alert and amazing, helping his neighbors and family members in any way he can.
Four days later my MIL turned 85. Here she is pictured with my 4 children. She is still an independent woman, busy serving others in our church and community. I am surrounded by good examples!
 In between those two events we had a family reunion camp out to attend, where 49 of a potential 60 family members (my parents and their posterity) were in attendance.
DD#1 has been here from NH for the festivities and is staying for a couple of weeks. She was intrigued by the little EPP hexie flowers in the AAQI quilt and is well on her way to making such a quilt herself. I think she enjoys this process much more than I do. : )
This is more non-quilty content than I usually share, but that is what has been happening in my life lately, along with concern for the kind of month my youngest grandson had in July.
He loved sitting on his great-uncle's Harley at camp.
Enlarge the photo to get the full effect of his gaze.
You can read about his record month of tonic/clonic (aka grand mal) seizures on DD#2's blog here. He is such a sweetheart! Hopefully someday there will be help for all those who suffer from this devastating form of epilepsy.

Until next time,
Janet O.