Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fresh block piecing

Hi everyone, and happy summer! How are things going for you?  Our housing saga continues. We thought we had found a house but it did not work out.  The search goes on.  We're coming up to a deadline, though, and it's a hard deadline, because we have to move before school starts, so we will find something else this week.  Somehow it seems harder to move now than it did to move across the country.  And real estate, which is weird to begin with, is really weird here. Lots of odd rules to get used to.

In spite of the drama around here, this past week I actually managed to sew some blocks! It's been an experience with my stitching stuff stashed everywhere and needing to be put away the second I'm done with it, but I finally figured out that I could fit in a few minutes of cutting without too much mess, and then stitch up what I had cut when I had a few minutes longer.  It worked!  Here are the blocks I made the past few days:

Oh, gosh, those make my heart happy! These are 6-inch blocks for my old and new sampler quilt.  It happens that these are all blocks from Tula Pink's sampler book.  I decided to work through those before I tackle the more traditional blocks.  If you recall, for this sampler I'm making 48 blocks that each finish at 6 inches.  Half are the more modern blocks from Tula Pink, and the other half are traditional blocks, many with lots of pieces.  The Tula blocks have fewer pieces and are much simpler to put together, which certainly suits my life right now.

I cut these blocks in some quick moments and stored them in sandwich bags until I could stitch them.  Here's a tip-- be sure to label your sandwich bags! I spent way too much time trying to remember which cut pieces went with each block.  By the way, don't those flowers look great?  They are a spot of sunshine for me.  I only planted pots this year so I could take them with me when we leave.  ~Sigh~ I really do love flowers.

Anyway, I now have 17 of the 48 blocks finished:

I love them all!  It's kind of funny to see how alike they are, and yet so different.  When the whole thing is together I don't know if it will be really apparent which blocks are Tula blocks and which are more traditional. Or maybe it will be super easy-- we'll see! Stay tuned!

Hope you all are having a good week.  Last week, in addition to house drama, I had a part of the orientation for my new job and got the keys to my new office.  This week I'll be moving books and such into the new place and trying to get things set up.  This is very exciting! I really can't wait to get to work in the new place.  Not really looking forward to moving all those boxes, but it kind of goes with the territory.  Keep your fingers crossed that it goes well!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Down memory lane

Hello, friends!  Long time no see! What can I say?  Life happens.  It has been a jam-packed couple of weeks. I went to my usual conference and participated in a panel presentation, which was fun and interesting, but exhausting.  The conference was in Pittsburgh this year, and let me tell you-- Pittsburgh is a beautiful city! We didn't get a lot of time to explore, but I would definitely go back. After the conference we went to visit the grandchildren, and that was pure bliss.  My oldest grandson kept calling me "honey," and they were all just a joy.

On the home front, I've been trying to sew, but literally every time I pull out the machine, someone wants to look at the house.  This is great, but frustrating! We think we may have found a house in Baltimore, too, if someone else hasn't bought it before this publishes.  The housing market is crazy!  We've scheduled times to look at houses, only to get canceled because someone bought it before we could get there.  I guess we'll know pretty soon, though!

Since I haven't been sewing, how about a trip down memory lane instead? I have a few pre-blogging quilts that I've never talked about and they're feeling neglected, so how about a good look at this one:

Wow, that's a lot of color! It's really a lot, because this quilt is huge-- 74 by 96. I'm pretty sure that was the biggest quilt I had made at that point.

I made this quilt in 2006 for my daughter to take to college.  She was very involved and helped choose the fabrics and the backing.  You can tell she's my kid, because I think there are 52 different fabrics in the blocks, plus the background, backing, and sashing, and all of them are colorful.  Most I wouldn't have chosen, but they work great here.

This quilt taught me so much.  It's from a pattern in Quiltmaker magazine (sorry that I didn't keep the pattern so I can't even tell you when it was published, but I think it was 2005) and is the first quilt that I fully paper pieced.  I think I had made a wall hanging size quilt to learn paper piecing, but the blocks here were all paper pieced.  I remember tracing the pattern onto a lightweight paper instead of using a copier, and there are 48 blocks, so you know that took forever.  It certainly did teach me paper piecing, though!

This quilt also taught me to measure twice.  It happens that I cut every single piece of the sashing half an inch too short.  10-inch blocks, 10-inch sashing, right?  I cried when I realized my mistake, but then I just cut more, which means that I had pieces of that pink hanging around here for years.  There's probably still some somewhere.

This might be the first quilt I had long armed, too.  It was such a behemoth that there was no way that I could even think of quilting it.  It's also quite heavy, but she went to college in Wisconsin and lived in the dorm, so it worked out! I certainly got no complaints that it was too warm.

I've been storing this for awhile, so now it's going back to live at my daughter's house.  We've talked a bit about cutting into two smaller quilts (horrors!) and that may happen someday if she has more kids.  I'd love to see grandchildren playing with the quilt.  It would make two perfect kid quilts, don't you think?

All this time later, I still love this quilt. It was way outside my comfort zone at the time, and I would do so much differently now (use a copier, for one), but it's still great. And my daughter still loves it, so that's a win all around.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  I'm going to try to pull out the machine this week and get some things done.  If someone buys the house, that would be better because I could make a mess again, so send all your good vibes! I'll be back sooner rather than later!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Finished or Not Friday.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Stitching again

Hello everyone! Gosh, I really missed you all here in blogland! Feels like it's been months since I've sewn anything.  Our house is now listed for sale and three fourths of my life is packed away in boring brown boxes.  The list of what I've packed and now need is quite long.  Why did I pack the can opener? Also, my favorite quarter inch foot is somewhere in one of the many boxes marked "sewing room." Which box? You tell me and we'll both know!

I was thrilled this week to finally, finally be able to pull out the sewing machine again and get back to some projects. Of course, the sewing machine is stashed in the china cabinet, the project boxes are in a closet, and the scraps are disguised as something else, but I will not be deterred!

What do you do when you haven't been sewing for a while? How do you get back to it?  I chose to make some nice, easy blocks and catch up on the rainbow scrap challenge at the same time:

Okay, the sun bleached a good part of those out, but they're aqua and orange! Is there a better antidote to brown cardboard?

These are the Cut Glass Dish blocks that I am making for the rainbow scrap challenge this year.  Of course I'm behind on all those projects, but I didn't pack them so that I can work on them when I get a chance. Hope springs eternal!

These blocks are really easy, but they do have 24 hsts apiece, which takes a little time, what with the cutting and squaring and all.  For once doing all of that was an absolute joy, just to be able to handle the fabrics.  It's amazing how much you miss it!

Since the RSC has ten colors, May is the half-way point, so here are all of my Cut Glass Dish blocks together, on the very damp grass:

Not sure how I'm going to lay this out yet, but I really like it so far.  I'll have to see if I can find a picture of an antique quilt that uses these blocks to get some ideas. 

Now that I've caught up on those (for the moment), I'll be adding the aqua and orange rounds to the Boston Common quilt, and then I'll pack up the aqua and orange scraps.  This will make my husband happy, because he wants to be ready to move at any moment. 

Over the last few days, we've had some really bad storms, like most of the rest of the country.  We've mainly escaped any bad effects from these, except for this:

Yeah, that's no fun, but thank goodness nothing fell on the roof! The park where I go walking had a microburst, and dozens of trees are uprooted, with some snapped right in half.  Many years ago I taught at the University of Dayton, and what happened there this past week was just devastating.  All my friends there are safe, but if you were affected by any of the storms, I hope you're safe, too.  I'm thinking about you and really feeling for you.

Anyway, I'm glad to be back and hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  Keep your fingers crossed for us, because we're looking at houses again.  Will this be the magic weekend?  Will there be a house that isn't painted gray?  If so, I just may buy that one! (For the record, ours is painted in aquas, blues, and alabaster. Maybe that makes us stand out?)

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC19.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Our big new project

Hi everyone! (waving wildly) I've missed you! I know I've kind of been out of action lately, and now it's time to explain why I have hardly sewn a stitch in weeks and I'm very stressed.  Here's a clue:

Why are those shelves empty?  What has happened to all of my fabric?  Here's another clue:

Is that fabric stacked in some kind of crate?  Yes, yes it is, and the crate has handles for easy carrying. One more clue:

If you guessed that we're moving, you are correct!  We are moving to Baltimore and have been frantically packing and cleaning to put our house on the market.  Not a lot of time for stitching!

I can hear some of you now:

Mari, didn't you just move? 
     Actually, we moved to the East coast four years ago. I know, I can't believe it's been that long, either! 

Why are you moving again?
     Sometimes you find opportunity, and sometimes it finds you.  An opportunity and I found each other, and that ended with a new job and some exciting new prospects for career growth. 

Haven't you been remodeling your house forever?
     Yes, we have. We've remodelled just about all of this house.  But that will make it all the easier to sell, right?

Won't you miss Delaware?
     In a big way!  Delaware is a wonderful place with lots of nice people and some beautiful places.  We'll miss our community here a lot, and I'll certainly miss this house and our property, including the nest of Cooper's Hawks that are near our yard.

When will this happen?
      The house will be listed for sale next week.  We're packing and cleaning now, but thankfully didn't have to do a lot of painting or anything, since we've already done it!

Did you pack your sewing machines? No quilting for weeks??
     Nope, Miss Rosie is still unpacked and I look forward to using her quite a bit.  I packed the fabrics and all of my other stitching stuff, but I left out several projects that I'll be working on for the next couple of months.  And if I run out, I have a lot of ideas, and I know where to get more fabric!

Does this mean no blogging for a while?
      No, I'll still be blogging, I hope back to my regular schedule very soon!  Posts may be sporadic for a while, but I'll be back soon.  We're almost done staging the house (and moving out a lot of boxes) so things should settle down pretty soon.

Have you found a new house yet?
      No, we've barely started looking! I can already say, though, that there are waaayyy too many houses that are painted entirely gray.  Can we please go back to painting all the rooms white for selling? All those gray rooms are seriously depressing.

Anyway, that's our big new project, and that's what I've been busy with for the last few weeks.  Sorry I've kind of disappeared. But now all the contracts are signed and everything is moving forward, so I should be able to get some stitching time again soon.  I can tell you that I need to touch some fabric, because we all know that's a great stress reliever, right? I need it so much that I got this in the mail this week:

New fabrics! As the hubs would say--more to pack.  He just doesn't understand.  Those little girls were too cute to pass up.

So that's our big news! I hope you all have a great weekend that doesn't involve any boxes or moving furniture around or wrapping things in paper.  That stuff gets old really fast!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Finished or Not Friday.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Very small blocks

Hi everyone, and welcome to the end of another week! The exams are done, the grades are in, the students are moving out, and everyone I know is exhausted.  And how was your week?

As you can probably guess, I haven't sewn very much lately, but I do have a few very small blocks to show for my efforts.  Here is the first one:

Oh, that orange will give you some happy energy, won't it? And it looks good with the purple petunias, too. This is the first of the orange Tiny Tuesday blocks for the rainbow scrap challenge this year. (You can find more about this sampler HERE.)  This block tutorial came from Angie and the instructions are HERE.  I know this block as Broken Sugar Bowl, but she called it Road to the White House.  All those old names are pretty interesting. I don't see either a sugar bowl or a road!

In addition to the first of the orange blocks, here are the aqua tiny blocks, which I somehow never got to show last month:

I was pretty sure I had another aqua block, but it doesn't seem to be in the box with the others.  I'm sure it will turn up, probably just as soon as this post goes live.  For those who've forgotten, these blocks will finish at 4-1/2 inches in the quilt.  They don't use up a lot of scraps, but they certainly turn out cute. 

Sadly, that is all that I have pictures of right now.  I did quilt up the two baby quilts for Hands to Help, but I plan to show those all at the same time, and I did do a little bit of handwork but didn't take pictures.  I'm hoping to finish up a handwork project this summer, though, so there will be plenty of pictures then.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!  Sunday is Mother's Day here in the US, and I have high hopes for some video chatting with my grandkids, though I doubt the 3 month old will be very chatty.  So happy Mother's Day to all moms, grandmas, aunties, and mother figures out there.  I hope you all have wonderful days with your loved ones, and maybe some flowering azaleas, too!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and soscrappy for RSC19.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Squarely quilted

Hi all, and happy May weekend! I hope you are all doing really well and enjoying the spring. Unbelievably, the weather here has been terrific, so much so that I managed to get some great pictures of today's finished project.  And I've been working outside every day this week, though I did stop yesterday when I saw a snake in the pachysandra.  That's the one thing I genuinely despise about this area-- snakes. They just creep me out completely.  Although we have a creek in the backyard, so I don't know what I was expecting.

Not to worry, no snakes came anywhere near today's project! Here is a really lovely picture taken in the park in the sunshine:

Yes, my Squared Away quilt is finally quilted and bound and super cozy! If you recall, this is the quilt that came from last year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge project that Angela and I designed.  (You can still find all the patterns HERE and HERE.) I just love how this quilt turned out.

Oooh, artsy! Not artificial light, just the sun through the trees.

This was quilted by Alycia of Quiltygirl Quilts, and she did a great job with it.  I had a bunch of ideas, and she took them and ran with them. I think the collaboration turned out great.  Look at all the circles she quilted in:

Aren't those awesome? They must have been fun to do, and a great choice for a quilt made of squares.  And the design in the setting triangles is fantastic, too:

As you can see, I used a medium green for the binding.  My original idea was to use a scrappy binding, but it just wasn't looking good.  I also intended to do a machine binding, but hand stitching this to the back was really relaxing and I really needed that.  If you remember, earlier I had switched out the setting triangles and taken off the borders, so all in all this was a demanding quilt!

So there's the end to last year's RSC quilt sampler project! This one is definitely staying with me, as my kids have made off with the ones from previous years. I think I deserve to keep this one, don't you? 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! We're finally going to see the Avengers movie, which I hear is really good.  Then there's some more stressful stuff to do, but we'll talk about that later!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, TGIFF, Finished or Not Friday, and soscrappy for RSC19.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Getting warmer

Hi everyone, and happy May! I can't believe it's already one of the best months of the year.  I'm still here, still stressed, and still keeping on, just in case you were wondering why I kind of disappeared.  If you know any college students, make sure to tell them to study for their finals, because I've gotten a look at a few and whoo boy!-- they'll need that study time for sure.

I've been fighting to get some stitching time in this week and I've actually managed to put together a few things.  It calms my soul, you know? Here's one thing I've been catching up on:

Look at that sunshine!  Doesn't that make you happy in itself? It makes my heart sing, even though it bleaches out my colors somewhat. This work in progress is my temperature quilt, which is made up of blocks that record the high and low for each day of the year.  In another week I'll have enough to add another row, but for now these are the completed rows through April 18th.  As you can see, it was quite cold at the beginning of the year, but it has made the turn into some warmer weather in April. Good thing, too-- I was running out of that darker blue.  Completely ready for some greens and yellows now.

My blocks for this project are 3-1/2 inch squares, made using two 2 inch by 3-1/2 inch strips, one for the high and one for the low.  It's pretty simple, but it works, and I like the graphic quality of all the blocks running together. If I have to make a block every day, it better be simple! The special blocks, like the spinner and the heart, mark special days for our family, like our grandson's birthday.

Another project I've been working on are some Bridal Bouquet blocks: 

I love having outdoor pictures on the grass again! I've been working on these blocks for a while and they have been going very slowly because they've all been done by hand, but I'm at a point where I'm putting together a few of the blocks for the center.  I figure that I'll need 16 blocks, so I have a way to go. That's okay, though. I'm in no hurry.

I've left most of the papers in and I'm not sure at what point to take them out.  The ones that I've taken out so far have been so that I could add in other parts of the block.  Folding things easily, you know.  I think I'll leave them in and just get some more papers so I can finish the blocks.  That way I can be reasonably sure that nothing will fall apart before I get done.

Anyway, that's the short update from here! Hope everyone is having a good week. I'm hoping to have a finish later this week, so keep your fingers crossed!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A fresh start in coral

Hi everyone!  I hope you're having a good week!  I am super-duper busy because I don't know if you've noticed, but it's about to be May.  May! We are racing toward the end of the semester and it's just getting away from me.  So many things to finish, so little time!

The only logical response to all of this is to start a new quilt, right? Over the last few days I started making the blocks for my quilt inspired by the Pantone Quilt Challenge.  Here is the first of my blocks:

It's a little more yellow than anticipated, but otherwise I like it! And look-- I planted some geraniums and petunias out on the deck.  This is very exciting!  The weather has been fairly decent so far this week and I've been enjoying some time out there.

I made a couple of changes in the fabrics for this quilt.  First, I switched out the Kona Butter that I had originally chosen as a background for one that has a very subtle crosshatched print.  Butter is a beautiful color, but I think pairing solids with prints just makes the solids look really flat, which was certainly the case here.  I also added in that really pretty apple green in the center.  It really needed a little zip to add something to the aqua and yellow. 

I've made this block before (you can find it HERE) and so of course now I'm second-guessing myself.  In that previous block, I used a red center which coordinated with the red hsts and geese, so that it looked more like a star.  Here I used the background for the center, which gives it a more open, lacy look.  I like it, but I'm wondering if I wouldn't like a bit more of the coral in the quilt.  Any opinions?

I went a little crazy and cut out enough pieces for 20 blocks, so those are ready to stitch up, though so far I've only made up these four so far.  I think these blocks are just screaming for a pieced sashing and maybe even a pieced border, too.  I don't have any fancy software, so I'll be pulling out the graph paper.  I'm thinking a square in a square has to be in there somewhere, with plenty of the aqua. 

So there's a start to a new project! New projects are so much fun, aren't they?  So much better than those ones hibernating in the closet.  I'm pretty sure I hear one of those calling me, though, so I'd better go see what that's about.  Hope the rest of your week goes well!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Letting an old project go

(This is a giveaway post!)

Hi everyone! How was your week?  It has been a busy, busy time around here! There are big changes coming at the AQ household, none of which I'm prepared to share with the interwebs just yet, but all of which mean that there is a great deal to do and not enough hours to do it.

With all of the busy-ness around here this week, along with some of our obligations associated with Easter, I have barely sewn a single stitch. And I missed something important, too-- two weeks ago this blog turned five years old! Really, five years. Who knew? Apparently not me, because I just noticed it yesterday.  Later this year I'll have to do something to celebrate, don't you think?

For today, though, remember a few weeks ago I said that I always miss the quilty adoption event that Cynthia hosts twice a year at Quilting is more fun than Housework? Well, I decided not to wait any more and go ahead and give away the project I've been wanting to give away for at least three adoption cycles now.  (You know I'd miss the next one, too, don't you?) Here is the project:

The giveaway includes everything you see here: the book (in like-new condition), the already made 4-patches, the remaining 2-1/2 inch strips (some of which have been cut to make 4-patches), and about 1-1/3 yards of coordinating fabric that I think was supposed to be for an additional border and binding.  I can't remember exactly, but it's fabric from the same line.  That's a big giveaway!

I started to make the cover quilt from this book a couple of years ago, but never went beyond making some of the 4-patches. The quilt is really cute, but I just have no enthusiasm for making it any more.  The fabric here is a line called Victorian Modern by Andover Fabrics and has a 2012 date on the selvage. It's beyond time for this fabric to be used.  The strips do not have pinked edges and I think they were cut by the quilt shop, not by the manufacturer.

The book contains 18 patterns for different precuts, and the quilts finish in a variety of different sizes. I'm not sure that you can read all the pattern titles, but they represent a number of different styles, and the instructions are well written.

This project is getting zero love sitting in my closet, and I'm ready to let it go.  This entire project could be yours!  I really want it to go to someone who will make something with it and not just add it to the stash.  You don't have to make this project, but make something, and send me a picture when you do.  That's all!

I have no other pictures of the project, but here is a happy magnolia blossom!

So, if you would like to have this project and make something from it, and you agree to send me a picture when you do, just leave a comment on this post! I will send you this entire project at no cost (via parcel post because wow! postage has gotten really expensive).  I'm sorry to say that I can only send this in the US because shipping is remarkably expensive. I really am sorry.  Since Sunday is Easter Sunday and I doubt I'll be looking at the Internet at all, I will choose a winner using the random number generator Monday around lunchtime (between noon and 1pm on the East coast).  Please, please be sure that I can contact you!  If I can't get in touch with you, you can't win!

 This giveaway is now closed!  Thanks everyone!

I feel like this post is rambling, but you get the idea!  A blessed Easter to everyone who celebrates, and chag Pesach samech to everyone celebrating Passover this week, too.  And a happy spring weekend to all!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tiny Tuesday Spinner block

Hi everyone! Today it's my turn for another Tiny Tuesday block, a part of the RSC sampler hosted by Angela at soscrappy. You can find all the instructions for this fun sampler and links to the previous blocks HERE. There are also setting instructions and everything you need to jump in to this project.

Here is our Spinner block, a pinwheel variation that is so appropriate for this very windy week:

A couple of notes before we start-- this block ends up best if the seams are pressed open. It's a little fussy to do, but it makes the center turn out a lot better.  Also, none of the pieces are oversized unless indicated.  Use your own judgment if you want to oversize anything. And be sure your 1/4 inch seam is good before you start, of course!


For this block you'll need a small bit of background and two aquas, one lighter and one darker.  You could use just one aqua, but it does change the effect of the block a bit.

From the lighter aqua, cut:

1 3-1/2 inch square

From the darker aqua, cut:

2 2-1/2 inch squares

From the background, cut:

1 3-1/2 inch square
4  1-1/4 by 3-1/4 inch rectangles*
(*these pieces are oversized)


Cut the 3-1/2 inch lighter aqua and background squares from corner to corner twice to make 4 triangles. Position the triangles as shown and stitch:

Make 4 of these units. Half the block is done!

Next, cut the darker squares in half from corner to corner once.  Position these and the 1-1/4 by 3-1/4 inch rectangles as shown:

The background rectangle will be quite a bit longer than the triangle, but don't trim it.  Stitch the triangle to the rectangle, then open out and press as best you can. Don't worry about turning under the seam allowance on the part of the rectangle that extends past the triangle.

Take the triangle/rectangle units you just made and trim them by placing a ruler so that it follows the angle of the triangle and continues over the rectangle, as shown:

Carefully trim the rectangle to the angle of the triangle.  Make 4.

Now take these units and trim the background piece to 7/8 inch wide. You'll be cutting off just 1/8 inch, so be extra careful.


Join one of each of the triangle/rectangle units and the unit made with two triangles along the long edges, as shown:

If you're a little nervous about the bias edges, give your pieces a shot of Magic Sizing or starch, or whatever you use, before stitching. Make 4 and press well.

These units should be 2-3/4 inches each. 

All that's left to do is arrange the four squares as shown and stitch!

Join into rows and then into a finished block.  Press well, stand back, and admire!

Your block should measure 5 inches to finish at 4-1/2 inches in the quilt.  Be careful to keep 1/4 inch beyond the triangle points if you trim the block at all.

Now that you've made this block, be sure to visit Angela's on Saturday to link up and to see the blocks that others have made. Happy tiny stitching!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC19.