Friday, April 16, 2021

Two babes in the woods

Hi everyone! It's yet another weekend, and it feels like spring on a regular basis now. We've also had some spring storms, so I guess next month there will be an abundance of flowers, right? It just happens that this week we got new gutters with leaf-resistant covers on them, which seems like it's just in time because our trees are just leafing out now. If past springs are any guide, one morning next week I'll get up and all the leaves will have filled in. And then I will do my happy dance, right there in my nightgown.

This week I finished off the quilting on two baby quilts, and I bound them, too! Here are the lovely babes in what passes for woods around my house:
Okay, some odd shadows, but you can still tell that these are joyful and happy little quilts, right?
I made these tops a while ago, but, as we all know, they had to age a bit before they got finished. I think I made the bees quilt top last year, using some precut squares that were included in a bunch of scrap fabrics that I got from a destash. I usually dislike precuts, but as I recall, this was a quick top I made for my own mental health. 

The bees were quilted in a fast and cuddly crosshatch, fast becoming my favorite quilting finish. It fit the quilt perfectly and was very easy. Hurray for the walking foot! I know I could do more with it, but sometimes it's a choice between "finish simply" or "continue hanging in the closet," and I chose to finish it. I think that was the best choice!

The top of the very fun bears quilt was made a long time ago, I think when we lived in Delaware. The blocks were left over from a block of the month quilt from a long time ago, back when I used to do BOMs. Ironically, this past year has reminded me why I used to like those programs-- no thinking or planning, just stitching. With this BOM, I think it was more of a mystery, or at least the layout was, and I remember not liking the final layout, so most of the blocks got repurposed into something else. These four were left over, and eventually became a small quilt top.
The bears are quilted in an uneven plaid-type grid, with a modified scallop stitch. I'm not super-thrilled with it, because it turned out a lot different than I imagined, but it holds the layers together and will still be cuddly and hold up to a child. And aren't the bears adorable?

Both of these quilts are bound for Jack's Basket, which isn't a participant in Sarah's Hands to Help Challenge this year, but I think they'll count anyway. Both of these are just about 36 by 36, which is the size that Jack's Basket requests for their baskets, and I love the whole idea behind the organization, so off they go. I guess I'll have to make another one for one of the Hands to Help organizations, won't I? Gosh, that will be such a trial, won't it? 

So, there we are, two new quilts for two new babies, quilted up and out of the closet. I haven't sealed up the box yet, so there may be one more going in there in the next few weeks. We'll see how it all works out. 
Hope you all have a lovely weekend! We are doing something really special this weekend, but I'll have to tell you all about that next week. Trust me, it's fantastic!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Brag About Your Beauties, and Finished or Not Friday.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Brown bear walks to Grandma's

 Hello everyone, and happy spring! We are in full bloom here, and the weather has been really nice. It feels so great! Of course, it also feels kind of sneezy and scratchy, but who even cares? It's like waking up from a very, very long sleep. I have been sewing quite a bit lately, so you know I'm feeling quite a bit better. I think getting the vaccine helped me a lot, and so does the sunshine. Not to mention that this nightmare semester is almost over! Pandemic teaching has been the worst, but at last we are coming to the end. Hurray for that!

I have yet another small quilt top to show off today. I actually already basted it and it's ready for quilting up, but this top has to wait its turn in line. Here's this fun top:


If you have children, or know any children, you might recognize Brown Bear of Eric Carle fame and the book of the same name. Long ago (the selvage says 2008) I started collecting kits and fabrics and putting them aside in what I called a "grandma box." In case I ever had grandchildren, you know. A couple of years ago I pulled out this kit and found a poorly-cut panel:


Yeah. Always check as soon as your fabric arrives! Or check it in the store before you purchase a kit of any kind. Once I saw this, I took the kit apart and have used some of the fabrics for other things. I kept the panel in case I had another idea, but it just made me upset so I didn't do anything with it.

And then my almost-youngest granddaughter fell in love with the Brown Bear book and pretty much memorized it. What's a grandma to do but find a way to make it work? So, of course, I did, and I'm pretty happy with the results.

 I can't wait to quilt this one up, because it's going to live here at Grandma's house. With all of us having gotten vaccines, I expect that my granddaughter will actually get to visit again pretty soon, and it just makes me happy to think about having this one ready so she can tell me all about Brown Bear. That's some pretty strong incentive to quilt up the others ahead of it in line, too!
Before I made this quilt top, I also completed another project-- a new ironing board! My husband cut the plywood for me, then I covered it with a layer of 1/2- inch foam and two layers of (the cheapest possible big box store) batting, then a final layer of cotton duck. I'm still going back and forth about covering it in the silver reflective cloth, but so far it's working great for me. And it's 54 inches wide, so pressing yardage is soooo much easier.

Finally, last Wednesday this little blog turned 7 years old! I have no idea how this happened. I think next week I'll have some kind of a giveaway or something to celebrate, but for now, thanks for hanging around for so long, and special thanks for bearing with me through the really hard times we've been having. Quilty friends are the best!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! My plan for the weekend is to haul out the patio furniture. Lunch on the patio, everyone! Hurray!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Brag About Your Beauties, and Finished or Not Friday.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Finishing Betty's quilt

 Hello everyone, and welcome to a spring weekend! It is, right now, at 7 am on Friday, 63 degrees. Also, quite humid, but we can overlook that for now in favor of happy dancing over the warm temperatures, right? An hour ago it was raining, but now all of that has burned off and it looks super-nice out there. Quite windy, but warm.
A couple of weeks ago, Preeti came over and visited for a little bit, and she saw today's quilt pinned up on the design wall. "That was here last time," she said. (Then she made off with a bag of my scraps, but that's a different story.) She was right, and it was time to get this baby quilted up. This one was hard to photograph, but here she is:
See what I mean about hard to photograph? The colors weren't cooperating. This quilt belongs to my sister-in-law, Susie. Susie's mom passed away from Alzheimer's disease, which she had suffered from for years. Carol was a quilter, and when cleaning out the house, Susie found this quilt in a bag, all basted and ready to quilt. The daughter and granddaughter of quilters, she knew just what it was and sent it on to me to finish. 
When I looked at it, the quilt was very nicely and securely basted (with red thread!), but it had polyester batting. I hated taking out the basting, but I knew the quilt would last longer and look better if I took out that basting and replaced the polyester with cotton. I'm all for honoring the original intent of the quilter, but I'm not for using inferior materials. It turned out to be a good decision, because this really turned out to be quite cuddly!

I also discovered this on the back:
The quilt was not made by Susie's mom, but by her grandma, who also died from Alzheimer's. I imagine this was one of the last quilts she basted, since she passed away shortly after this. Perhaps that's why it didn't get finished-- it was just too emotional to complete.
I kind of bonded with Betty while finishing her quilt. I must have met her at my brother's wedding, though I can't remember. Weddings are like that, you know? The embroidery here is very neat, with no stray threads, and the seams are just about perfect. Everything was pressed and trimmed very nicely, much better than I usually do it. Also, she made some design choices that I understood. Take a look at these pictures:
On the left is the inside of the quilt back, and on the right is the outside. It's subtle, but if you look closely you can see that Betty used the back of the pink fabric in the quilt. This is also true in the pieced top. The fabric must have been the "wrong" pink for her, so she used the back to get the right color.
Also, she chose to use the border fabric on the back and front as the binding, which was also packaged with the quilt. (True fact: I calculated that I needed 260 inches of binding, and there were 265 inches in the bag.)  The binding nearly disappears into the borders. I might not have done this, but it's interesting on her quilt.

To quilt this one, I used a fairly wide (3-5/8 inches) crosshatch in a parchment-colored thread which blended right into the quilt. Really, you can barely see it. I thought that Betty had probably intended to hand quilt this, and I could have done the stitch-in-the-ditch thing, but this secured the embroidered blocks and kept the quilt nice and cuddly. It was tough to stitch over that embroidery, believe me, but I closed my eyes and did it. I marked the lines with a Hera marker, and there are a few wobbles where the line was not easy to see, but overall, I like how it turned out. 

The backing was pieced and likely meant as borders on the back, and to use up the fabric, so I matched the centers to get it lined up properly. I think it turned out well, and fairly even on each side, and I love the picture above because of the shadows. The sun was in and out while I was taking these, and this time it made an interesting photo.

So, after all this time, Betty's quilt is finally finished. I've sent it back to Susie with the suggestion that she save it for a grandchild. Wouldn't that be amazing, to have a grandbaby using great-great-grandma's quilt? Just the idea makes me happy that this is done. 
Next time Preeti comes to visit, there will be something else up on the design wall and she can kick me in the pants to get that one finished, too. (Such a motivator!) I have a couple of things I'm still working on quietly, and I'm starting to feel more like myself. The sunshine really helps! And look what I found while photographing this quilt:
Flowers! My heart sings!

Hope everyone has a really good weekend. We might-- might-- go to a restaurant. The hubs and I have both been vaccinated and are now past the two weeks that you need after that to be safe, so maybe a little bit of normal life is in order. Whatever you're doing, I hope there's some spring sunshine in it for you!

Sharing at Finished or Not Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Brag About Your Beauties.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Small updates on small things

 Hi everyone! I hope you have been having a good week. It has been another busy one here, but today I hit a milestone: I have walked 150 kilometers since January 1. That's 93 miles! There's either something seriously wrong with me or I'm having a lot of stress. It may be both because I really wanted to hit this milestone today so I went out walking in the rain. At least it was warm-ish. Wet, though.

Today I just wanted to say hello to everyone so I just have a couple of small updates. I finished nothing this week, but I did make progress! First, I basted two baby quilts:


It was raining, so interior pictures. And an exciting picture it is, isn't it? These are now ready for quilting, and they're just getting straight lines. Maybe a crosshatch. Since these are only 36 inches square I think I can quilt them both up at the same time, one line after the other.  These are both for donations, so I need to finish them up fairly soon.

I also want to make this piece into another baby quilt of the same size, so I've been trying to choose one of these three options as a border. What do you think?

Yeah, I'm not sure either. I'll keep looking. No matter what, it will be colorful, right?
The other thing I've started working on is these fun stars:
These are made from some really big leftover half-square triangles from a quilt that is on it's way from my longarmer friend. I had to use them up, and I think they'll make some nice "seeds" for a new scrappy quilt. Could it be that I'm starting to snap out of my burnout if I'm starting a new quilt? I guess it's possible!

I realized earlier today, as I was just staring in wonder at the new floor, that I never showed a picture of why this was such a big deal for us. We bought this house with "original floors." Unfortunately for us, the original floors were fieldstone set in concrete. It was not pretty. I'm sure the original architect had great visions, but he didn't have to clean the darned things. Here is the before and after:

It was very, very noisy and extremely messy, but the stone is gone and we now have hardwood. We love it and are so much happier with it. And you know what? I can sweep this and it actually comes clean! It's amazing!

That's the update from here! I hope you all had a wonderful week and have a lovely weekend planned. I am planning to paint my husband's office. What can I say, I live dangerously! Here is just one more picture of something that had me squealing:
Daffodil sprouts and snowdrops! Spring is on the way!
Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Finished or Not Friday.