Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Tale of Two Templates

I have probably shared this photo here before but the story behind it is part of my post, so I will share it again.

In 1998, while I was volunteering at a local heritage center, I became acquainted with the master quilter that did the quilting demonstrations at their Heritage Festivals. She was hand quilting a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt that she had made using the English Paper Piecing method. Though I had been quilting for years, I was unfamiliar with this technique. She told me to come back the next day with some fabrics and hand stitching supplies and she would get me started.

I really didn't have much of a stash at this point, so I raided my mother's (which consisted of a whole lot of 1980s calico prints, it appears), promising to share with Mom what I learned. The next day, after receiving a plastic template and excellent instructions from my mentor, I proceeded to clumsily attempt assembling a flower.

Following my volunteer shift I went to my mother's and traced my template onto a plastic cottage cheese lid and cut it out for my mom to use. I shared with her what I had learned and away she went, while I plodded along, slowly making a flower now and then. The following year my Mom's quilt was completed (pictured above)--hand pieced, appliqued to the border, and hand quilted and bound. I was still making an occasional flower.

I don't know if the precut hexagon papers were even available then, but our local shop didn't carry them. We used our cottage cheese lid templates to trace and hand cut each cardstock hexagon from those annoying subscription postcards that fall out of every magazine you pick up. I didn't even want to think about how many I would eventually need to cut, but in my mind I was sure I was going to make at least 60 flowers.

This was my "Lady in Waiting" project (as my teacher had so aptly called it). For years I kept a baggie in my purse with the necessary supplies to make one flower. I pulled it out while waiting for my children at piano lessons, orthodontist appointments, track meets, and basketball games. I made up dozens of little "kits" so that I could grab supplies for a new flower in a heartbeat, on those rare occasions when I actually finished one. 

I am exceptionally slow at hand stitching, no matter how much practice I get, which has created many embarrassing experiences related to this project. I carried this around for so long that many times people who had seen me working on it years before, would see me pull it out and say, "Oh, are you making another one of those quilts?" I would have to explain that this was the same old one. But the most embarrassing was when I was helping check in quilts at the county fair once, about 8 years after I had started this quilt. As usual, I had my little baggie out on the table, stitching away when things got slow. Up came a young woman, carrying a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt to enter in the fair. I knew her--she was the same age as my youngest son, and at this point they were both 18. I was marveling over her quilt--she had even hand quilted it. Then she explained that years ago she had seen me working on mine in the waiting room when she came for an orthodontist appointment. On their way home she told her mother she wanted to make what I was making. They went home and looked it up online and she figured it out and made it. And there I sat--still making flowers.

Since cutting out the hexagon papers was such a chore, my Mom saved a bunch of hers when she removed them from her quilt top, and she offered them to me. I was elated. The cutting of the hexagons was so tedious to me--actually the whole process was tedious to me, but I wanted the end product, so I kept plodding.

After I got a little over half of my flowers stitched (almost two decades later), I stalled. Just could not bring myself to whip one more stitch, or baste one more hexie. I decided that my quilt would not be as large as originally planned and just maybe, if I started assembling some of what I had made, it might spur me on to further progress. WRONG!
As I sorted through the flowers and tried to decide what type of "path" I wanted between them I discovered something extremely disheartening. My flowers were different sizes. The ones I had made using the papers I cut out were smaller than the ones made using the papers my mom had cut out. Depending on the angle of your pencil when you traced around the template, and whether you cut out on the line, or inside or outside the line, you could use the same template size, but end up with very different sizes of papers.
It was enough of a difference that I couldn't see how I could assemble a quilt top using both sizes. You can see above, I have one of the smaller blocks on top of one of the larger ones. Too much of a difference to just "ease" in. I was sick at the thought of all that work, and I couldn't put it together. I dumped everything into a box and shoved it into a dark place where I hoped to forget about it indefinitely.

Last year it started to haunt me. Do I just give it all away, or is there some way to save it? I finally came up with a plan and prepared what I needed, but hadn't done anything with it until now. On a short road trip last week I took it along (instead of my other hexie project that I struggle to work on), and I now have my first two blocks finished, and two more prepped and ready to stitch. Gotta love those calicoes.
Though applique is not my favorite thing, I think I am far more likely to finish the quilt this way, than if I had to stitch more flowers. I have all the muslin cut and ready. It is so easy to pin on a flower and start stitching, but since it will just be a travel project, it isn't going to set any records getting finished.
Do you have a 21 year old UFO? Surely someone out there has an older one--something you actually work on now and then. Tell me about it in the comments.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Indigo Challenge Complete

I am a little late to this party (as usual). A couple of months ago Sandy posted about a wonderful bundle of vintage Indigo fabrics she received. She invited three other bloggers to accept a parcel of them (that was a hard decision--not) and join her in a little challenge to make a mini quilt incorporating the indigo in some way. We were to post our finish yesterday. You can see the others at Sandy's blog, Wendy's blog and Barbara's blog. Each one is a delightful treasure. What fun this has been!
I had planned on doing just basket blocks with the setting squares in between to show off the indigo fabrics,  but when I made one of those little "Flying Geese" blocks as one of my rogue blocks for my Circa 1880 quilt, I knew I wanted to include them here somehow.

In April I had made a little "test quilt" to get a feel for working with the fabrics. I was really pleased with how the Pyramid quilt turned out, and actually had time to hand quilt it. Here are the two sister quilts together.
Much of the cheddar fabric in each of these quilts came from a bundle of "scraps" sent to me by Grace T. when she had made a wonderful indigo and cheddar quilt that had made me drool (I wanted to link to one of her posts, but she has a few cheddar/indigo projects and I couldn't decide which one. Just go browse her blog and enjoy.).

Had planned on doing hand quilting in the setting squares and triangles this week, but my dear Mom fell down her basement stairs on Wednesday--miraculously broken ribs and bruises were the results. I spent two days by her hospital bed and then another day at her side at my brother's, where she will be staying for now. She cannot be left alone at present. So the hand quilting became machine quilting instead, and I have just finished the binding this evening.

Quilting in the late hours is not conducive to clear thinking and careful work. I hate it when this happens.

Here you can see the size a little better--and the quilting. The blocks are 2" finished.

I have cut the long thin leftovers into strips to eventually make some 3/4" finished 9 patch blocks.

As you can tell, I kind of went crazy in the "cheddar & indigo" department. After seeing the quilts the other participants made, I can't decide if I want to use the tiny leftover bits to make a blue/white quilt, or blue and happy colors. I love them both. Maybe I can combine them somehow.

Thank you Sandy, for the indigo fabrics and the invitation to participate in your fun challenge.  And thank you Grace, for the cheddars that were so vital to my little quilts.

My blog anniversary drawing was an interesting experience. The first number I drew was someone who  had asked not to be in the drawing. I tried again. The second number was someone with no contact info. The third number was for Annie O. at Annie's Quilt Orts blog. When I replied to Annie's comment on my last post I asked her if she had ever won a drawing on my blog--because I have won one on hers. Well, now she has, and she has been notified.

Mom's fall has also kept me from getting to many blogs lately. I tend to just read a few that have posted most recently when I have a minute to check in. I hope to get back to you all soon.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

May Mini-of-the-month and Miscellany

Part of the Circa 1880 club is a new small quilt pattern using the uneven 9-patch blocks every other month.  I am using the "April" pattern for my mini-of-the-month with Wendy over at The Constant Quilter blog.
Next week those of us participating in Sandy's "Indigo Challenge" will be posting our completed little quilts--well, I think everyone else has theirs completed. I did finish piecing mine this week and hope to get it quilted before the end of the month. But in case I don't have it completely finished, I figured I had better not plan on it to do dual duty for both the Mini-of-the-Month and the Indigo challenges. I am very excited to see what the others have done with the vintage indigo fabrics Sandy shared with us.

Here are shots that show the quilting on this. Of course, you can click on them if you want a closer view. No feathers in the border this time. I put feathered wreaths in the setting square and triangles.
And here you can see it with its sister, the February small quilt. Each little quilt incorporates the same uneven 9 patch blocks that make up the bigger quilt that is the main focus of the Circa 1880 club.

I know it is a bit after the fact, but I wanted to share a few things from Mother's Day. First of all, my Mom and three of my children (with two spouses and four grandchildren) were able to join us for dinner that day. We missed our oldest daughter's  family in Oregon, but are grateful for the technology that gives us video chats!

And I loved that the air was scented with these beauties from the yard. I have probably made about 4 bouquets like this in the past week or so. This is my favorite part of spring flowers. I have 16 lilac bushes in 13 varieties. If I could figure out where to put them, I would get more!

One of many surprises for Mother's Day was a pair of tickets to a game of Utah's Major League Soccer team, ReAl Salt Lake. I am a big fan, and my sons are the ones that got me hooked. How fitting that they gave us the tickets. :)  We enjoyed a day of perfect weather and a perfect score--a 3-0 shut out. 

I mentioned earlier in the month that this May is the 8th anniversary of my little blog. It has been such a fun ride. I have met several bloggers and followers over the years, from Maine to Oregon, and many places in between. I hope to meet many more. And there are so many others that I feel like I know, though our paths have never crossed in real life.  I am grateful for each friendship and thank you for sharing this experience with me. I am offering this little bundle to a follower who comments on this post. I know some have had a hard time getting comments to show up lately, since Blogger has changed some things. I have changed my setting for now to hopefully allow your comments to get through. If that still doesn't work, send me an email (through my profile info). This will remain open until the 30th of this month.

There is a simple little one-patch quilt, some of my herbal soap, a spool of my favorite Aurifil thread--a good neutral color for piecing, a package of my favorite extra fine, glass-head pins, and a little magnetic closure notepad with the saying "So much fabric, so little time."

Leave a comment if you are interested, and I'd be interested to know how many of those 8 years you think you have been following.
Until next time,
Janet O.

Drawing Now Closed

Monday, May 13, 2019

How many little quilts do you think you have?

That was a question posed by Sheryl at Temecula Quilt Company back in a February post. I really had no idea how many little quilts there were around my house--they are tucked everywhere. So that question has been on the back of my mind ever since. Today, on a rare day at home, I had a notion to find out the answer. I pulled little quilts from every nook and cranny. My plan was to lay them out on the living room floor and take a photo from the loft. I could quickly see there were too many--even after moving the furniture. So I limited it to quilts I had made that did not involve wool applique, or that were not table runners. This is the final outcome.
I came up with 98 little quilts. If you add in the little wool applique quilts that didn't make the photo, the number comes to 123. There are another 30 little quilts that I have from swaps, gifts, or purchases. So now, months after Sheryl asked the question, I have an answer--153 finished little quilts. Actually, that is less than I had anticipated, but I realized I have given away or swapped around 60 little quilts, so mentally I was probably still including many of those.


Here is another view from a different perspective. Kind of fun to have a carpet of little quilts.

This is what it looked like in the living room after I finished gathering all of the little quilts. I had just been tossing them into the living room as I scurried from room to room, collecting them. Now I have the fun job of returning them to their homes--or finding new homes for them. Hmmm, why did I think this was a fun idea?
My little quilt obsession began a few years back when I was asked by a good friend to do a trunk show for her mini quilt guild. I panicked because I had given away most of the little quilts I had made. After a few months of very focused little quilt production, I was ready to go--with the help of a few people lending back the quilts I had given them. I have now done 3 trunk shows, and I still give away little quilts, but since I keep plenty on hand for a trunk show, no one asks. Isn't that the way of things? :)

Do you have little quilts around your house? Are you crazy enough to gather them and share a photo on your blog? Or if you have no blog, send me a photo and I would be happy share it. Maybe I am the only one that wanted to try making a quilt carpet. We'll see.

The winner of the drawing for the patterns in my last post is Barbara--more than one Barbara commented, but only one expressed an interest in the patterns. She has been contacted, and responded very promptly. Thank you, Barbara. That makes it easy.

Until next time,
Janet O.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

So little to show for the passing of a week

This post may come as a shock to some who know that I don't spend a lot of time on hand work. But since most of the piecing I have done this week has been for the Indigo Challenge with Sandy, to be shared at the end of the month, I had to scrape the bottom of my quilting barrel to come up with anything to share.
First off--quilting on my BIG hand quilting project that has been basted and waiting for years! (I can see from the photo that this needs more lines for the background quilting.)

When I started quilting this I was having shoulder troubles and finally gave up on it until I could have the surgery. That got postponed a couple of years. Then my healing was slow, and I felt like I couldn't stress my shoulder. But eventually it got better, and now I have no more excuses. I gave myself a swift kick recently and committed to at least quilt 30-60 minutes a few nights a week. Back issues keep me from doing more at a time.
This quilt was to commemorate my youngest son's time as a missionary in Brazil--he has been home for almost 10 years (yikes)! He'll get it eventually.

Then there was the stitching I did while we were on the road for about 3 hours today (Saturday). My Stars in the Garden mini hexie quilt is my "go to" road trip project. The problem is that I don't enjoy stitching hexies and this little thing could very well be my lifetime project. I forced myself to attach 3 hexies to this flower today. That was all I could manage.

I keep a photocopy of the potential finish in the lid of the project box. As I finish a section I cross it out. When I look at what I have crossed out I try and tell myself that I am making progress. Then I remind myself how many years this much has taken and I realize I am practically standing still on this one. (Don't roll your eyes at me, Sarah--the hexie queen!)

I  also made a smidgen of progress on my Circa 1880 quilt. I stitched my final "rogue" block, and laid out the row it will call home. This was foundation pieced, and I still have to remove the papers from the block. This will be in row 24--it is the last one I will make from my own blocks. The final three rows will be made from swapped blocks, when the last of my swaps are completed. This one is so close, I can almost taste it.  

I have a few more patterns that want a home where they will be loved. Most of them are wool projects. Some are patterns I have already made, some are duplicates, and some I'm just sure I never will get made. I am not separating them--I just want to send this out as one bulk group.
If you are interested, please mention it in your comment--and if you don't know whether or not you are "no-reply", please include your email address if you are serious about it. I will choose a random name from the interested parties.

Just for fun, I am sharing a photo of me that was taken exactly 60 years ago. I came across this as I have been working on my Mom's history lately. 

And exactly 8 years ago I began my blog. What fun it has been to build a blogging community with so many kind and generous, fun-loving and mischievous (you know who you are) quilters. Thank you all for reading, commenting, lurking, or whatever it is you do here. :)

Until next time,
Janet O.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Small Things & Signs of Spring

In Pam Buda's Circa 1880 Club you get a new pattern for a small quilt on the even months of this year. This is April's pattern--I only have the top assembled. I am not sure how I will quilt this so it will sit on the back burner for now.
The cheddar Xs contain the names of the makers of the four blocks surrounding the X. I used up some of my extra swapped blocks to make this, and I wanted to remember who made the blocks I used.

My trial run cheddar and indigo piece is my April Mini-of-the-month with Wendy at The Constant Quilter blog. I hand quilted it and found enough long, skinny strips of the vintage indigo pieces from Sandy (my material creations blog) to make the binding. I really love how this turned out.

Now I need to get going on the actual mini I have in mind for the Indigo Challenge, which is to be completed by the end of next month. I really appreciate Sandy sharing her vintage indigo scraps and inviting a few of us to join her in a challenge to use them in making a mini. As I said, this was my trial run to get a feel for working with the fabrics. My actual challenge piece is sketched and waiting for some action.


You can see the quilting a little better in the photo of the back. Nothing fancy--just stitch-in-the-ditch, and triangles inside the large Indigo triangles.
This finished at 9 1/4" x 10 3/4". 
The backing fabric is a pretty large-scale print that was sent to me by a generous blogger. I thought it finished off the piece nicely.

My Circa 1880 quilt continues to grow, and with that, so do the number of tiny rogue blocks I am inserting. To make sure they are "period correct" blocks (after all, this is an 1880s quilt) I pulled a bunch of books from my "quilt history" shelves and spent some time perusing their pages, looking for blocks that could be made smaller and work on a 4 x 4 grid. This is my latest creation. The blocks all finish at 2".
I now have 6 "rogue" blocks in my quilt. There will probably be one more. I have made 23 rows, and that is where the pattern ends, but I plan to put 4 more rows in mine and one of them will include the 7th "rogue" block.
Four of the blocks are completely different from the uneven 9-patch, but two of them are just different centers on the regular block. Can you find all six?

Okay--that concludes the quilty content. Stop here if that is all you want. Otherwise, here we go!

Did you know that April 21st is National Tea Day in The United Kingdom? Well, the little tea shop next door to the quilt shop over the mountain held a "British Invasion" tea tasting on April 19th in honor of that day. There were British flags hanging all around, Victorian furniture out front, Beetles music playing, and you could put on a fancy hat and have your photo taken with the queen. And you could taste any and all flavors of tea they had in the shop. On top of that, the tea was "buy 3 get one free".

Left: Me and the queen

Right: My friend Chris, trying another flavor

We certainly made the most of this event. Chris likes all kinds of tea, and she tried 15 varieties on her own. I only do herbal teas and she also tasted a few of the 10 herbal blends I sampled. She could probably take home a prize for the most teas tasted at a tasting, right Chris? We each have a generous stash of teas at home and admitted we didn't "need" more. But that didn't stop us from taking advantage of the sale. It was a fun evening. They hold these tastings the third Friday of every month, and the quilt shop next door keeps its doors open until 8 on those nights, too. Win/win!

Just wanted to share a few photos of the signs of spring around the farm. You can click on them for a better view.

Before posting this I looked back at my last post. I ended that one by saying it had been two weeks since I had posted and I hoped it wouldn't be that long before my next post. Well, it wasn't--it was longer. Three weeks!! Where does the time go?
I'm making no promises about my next post.
Until next time (whenever it may be), 
Janet O.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Pyramids, Strings, Scrappy Trips, and Circa 1880

This post is a real hodgepodge. I'll start with this little cheddar and indigo quilt top. Sandy (my material creations blog) recently had the good fortune to receive a bundle of old indigo scraps that appear to be leftover cuttings from clothing construction. She has been kind enough to share and there are a few of us participating in a small quilt challenge incorporating the indigo scraps in any way we choose.
When I think indigo, my mind immediately follows with cheddar, and I knew what I wanted to do with these lovely blues. But Sandy cautioned that the fabrics were on the thin side and they frayed easier than what we are used to using. So I decided to do a "trial run" little top to get a feel for working with them. That would give me a chance to see whether or not my idea would work. 

I have always admired a little quilt Marian Edwards (Dream Weaver blog--scroll to the bottom of her post) made back when the Panama Pyramids craze was in full swing. It was the inspiration for this, but I switched the placement of the cheddar in my quilt. I wanted to show off the indigos. After working with the fabric, I think I may be able to go ahead with my original plan, if I am careful. Thanks, Sandy, for the chance to work with these wonderful vintage fabrics. Can't wait to see what the others create.

While digging for some particular scraps this weekend, I came upon my ancient string project. Just so you know, I don't love working with strings, but many years ago (like, more than 10) I took a class on foundation piecing with no pattern. Sounded interesting. We worked on 3 projects. One was finished into a quilt and donated. One was given away to someone who was more interested in finishing it than I was. And this one has been in a box for longer than I have been blogging. But Lori (humble quilts blog), who has been hosting a string-along, encouraged me to at least pull it out and look at it. So I did, and I do like the look of it.
And now that I have looked at it, it is once again in a box in the closet. :)

My design wall looked like this earlier this week. I got all of the Scrappy Trips blocks made. I need to press them and square them up before I start assembling them. I pulled out my Kansas Troubles fabric and found the light piece I wanted to use for the inner border. But I didn't have enough of anything I liked for an outer border (I want this bigger, but am so done making these blocks--started this in 2013).
So I ordered a piece from an etsy shop. Always risky--not knowing the true colors, but it is a Kansas Troubles fabric and they usually work pretty well together.

Now my design wall looks like this.
I have 14 rows made for my Circa 1880 quilt. Last post not a soul even tried to guess how many of these little blocks I had made.  And I had planned to send a prize to the one who came closest. Oh, well. :)

These rows are not sewn together. I haven't trimmed the dog ears yet, and I am pondering whether or not to stay-stitch the edges, as some have recommended.

Every other row is made with blocks I received from someone via swaps. It is fun to be able to look down a row and recognize the person who made them based on their style and color preferences. But I won't leave it all to memory. I am planning on labeling each row with the maker's name.

If you look closely you may spot a rogue block. Last week at our Circa 1880 Club meeting it was mentioned that someone was making the quilt King Size AND they wanted to add a border around the edge of 2" basket blocks--with appliqued handles! It is a guy who works part time at the shop that is doing all this. Then someone else mentioned that it would be fun to put 2" baskets mixed in the quilt. I thought about that, and ended up deciding, "Why just baskets?" So right now my plan is to include a 2" log cabin, pineapple, star, and one or two other blocks. There will just be one of each, randomly scattered through the rows I make out of my own blocks. I like giving that little tweak to the design.

I guess that covers things for now.  Hopefully it won't be another two weeks before I can put another post together--but don't hold your breath. 
Until next time,
Janet O.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A Puss in Every Corner--And Then Some!

The Circa 1880 Quilt I am making as part of Pam Buda's Circa 1880 Club involves lots and lots of uneven 9-patch blocks (aka Puss-In-The-Corner blocks).There are 500-and-something of them in the finished quilt as designed by Pam. I am making my quilt two rows longer, and two rows wider. It is all that I have worked on in the two weeks since I last posted, though there is not much new to show. Here is what I have so far--hasn't changed a whole lot since my January retreat. I have sewn a lot more blocks since January, but haven't made many more rows.

There are 13 rows completed (or almost completed)--the bottom three in the photo still need to have their ends finished. I will make at least 12 more rows.

These are the blocks I have left of the ones I have made that are ready to use. There are 135 blocks here.

These are the blocks I have sewn, but have yet to press and trim. There are 125 blocks here.
Any guesses as to how many of these blocks I have made--including the ones I have sent away in swaps? Hint--I have made a whole lot more than I will need for this quilt. :) 


I have swapped with 7 quilters and these are the blocks they have made that are yet to be sewn into rows. There are about 160 blocks still to come from swaps. Seven of the rows in the top photo are made of blocks I have received in these swaps. As much as possible, I am making the shorter rows each from one quilter's blocks, and I will write their name on the end of the row made from their blocks.

And here is the next row laid out and waiting by my featherweight for the next time I can sit down and start stitching it together.
I am sure you will be seeing a lot of this project in the future. I hope to complete the top at some point during the year. The quilting will most likely wait until I have some other projects completed. Pam's is quilted with beautiful, small feathers, but I am considering an allover Baptist Fan design.

I will be starting to work on a fun mini quilt challenge soon. I am looking forward to sharing that with you as soon as I can. 

Until next time,
Janet O.