Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Trimming in the rain

You know, friends, it is a *lot* wetter here on the East Coast than it is in the Midwest.  Seriously, it rains much more often here.  I know it's snowing in many parts of the Midwest, but it's not the same.  This is not a bad thing, really, because it means lots of flowering green things are coming.  And it also means. . . I did not spend last weekend digging trenches!  You can dig trenches in the rain, but it tends to make the trench collapse, so it's pretty much a wasted effort.  Count me as a major fan of rain!

Since we had nothing planned for the weekend except digging trenches, *and* it was raining, I spent a bunch of time doing things that I really should have taken care of a long time ago.  You know, throwing out all the old shampoo bottles, cleaning under the bottom drawer in the refrigerator, and taking care of all this:

Yes, it's not that pretty a picture, but this is the pile of scraps I tackled this weekend.  This is everything that was in the basket next to the cutting table where I throw all my cut-offs when I'm working on things.  I know I should cut them up just as soon as I'm done, but somehow that doesn't happen. No idea why. I've gotten really good at pushing them down in that basket until it's really full (and heaping!)  This weekend was a good opportunity to haul that full basket onto the table and finally get a handle on it.

So I spent several hours-- with frequent breaks!-- cutting up the scraps and ended up with these pretty piles:

These are 1-1/2 inch, 2-inch, and 2-1/2 inch squares, plus a bunch of strings in the front.  I promise that none of those strings is less than an inch wide! I am really, really proud of myself for persevering and getting those all cut up.  It doesn't look like much but it takes a long time to cut those up. Of course, a lot of water was falling from the sky, so it was not a real sacrifice.  And look what else I got out of the scraps in that basket:

A bunch of bindings! These are from the cut-off pieces from the backings of several quilts.  These make great bindings.  Some of them look short, but they're all at least 60 inches long, and the gold one is enough for a 65-inch square quilt.  Not that I have one of those right now, but I might someday.

At the very bottom of the basket were two collections of scraps that I had kept together, so I didn't cut these up and mix them with the others.  Here's the first collection:

I think my taste in fabric has really changed, because I really don't want to use these for anything.  They're plenty pretty, but I am not motivated.  I remember making the quilt these are from, and I don't have it any more.  I'm too frugal to just toss these out, so I'll bet they end up in a donation quilt some time soon.  The others destined for the same fate are these:

Yep, they're not tripping my trigger either.  If you have any good ideas, I'd love to hear them!

The last things I worked on in the rain were these:

These are a whole bunch of half square triangles that were either left over  from projects, never made it into projects, or were the wrong size.  I squared them up to standard sizes and they are now ready to use.  I don't have a project for them, and they're different sizes, but hey--when a project comes along, I'm ready!

All in all, the last few days have been good and relaxing.  It's nice to look at that basket all nice and empty, plus I have some bags of those squares that are getting pretty full.  Soon it will be time to look for a project to use those up.  And the mostly empty shampoo bottles are gone now, too.

Hope you're all having a good week and are enjoying the last day of Fenruary.  Hard to believe March is here already!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and Oh Scrap!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Deeply purple

(For those of you who are interested, there is a scrap giveaway at the end of this post!)

Hi all, and welcome to the end of another busy week!  February is the shortest month, but right now it feels so looooong.  I know that you know what I mean! February is what makes March look so good.  I am ready for green and growing things, aren't you?  And so looking forward to some fresh tomatoes too.  Soon!

This week, I was super-busy, so I didn't get a lot of sewing time.  And I was on such a roll for a while there! Instead I focused on finishing up my purple scrap projects so I could feel like I had made some progress.  Sometimes that's just what you need to make the week feel like a success, you know?  Here are my patchwork scrap stars:

This month I chose to make a pink star and a green one in the purple blocks.  I like how they turned out, plus I had 15 different purple scraps to use in the blocks.  I like purple, though, so it's not really a surprise.

I also made about a dozen of the little 4-1/2 inch 9-patches from my 2-inch squares:

I could have made more, but I just didn't feel like cutting more pieces, and a dozen sounds like a good number.

In 2016, I started Bonnie Hunter's En Provence quilt, and I haven't made a ton of progress on all the pieces. I love the quilt, though, and I want to use it in our guest room, so I really want to finish it. Since this was a purple scrap month, I decided to use it to finish making all of the purple pieces in the quilt:

I didn't get all of the purples finished, but I did finish off the 4-patches and the hsts, which felt like a real achievement to me because there were so *many* of them (and you know how much I like making 4-patches.)  I still have to make the triangle in a square units, but at least I've cut all the purple for those.  I only have the yellows and greens to finish after this.  I may actually finish this quilt this year!

So now I'm finished with my purple scraps for the month, and just like last month, I am giving away what's left in my purple scrap bin!  Here's what's up for grabs this month:

There are some nice-sized pieces here, but also a bunch of smaller ones, including some 2-inch strips and a few squares.  To fill out the envelope, I added some pieces from the dots and checks bin, along with a handful of 2-inch squares and also of 1-1/2 inch squares.  All together it's about 2 pounds of fabric.

I will send this scrap package off to one lucky winner for no charge at all.  All you have to do is leave a comment that says you'd like to have it.  That's all!  You can also leave a comment if you don't want it, just let me know.  I'll use the random number generator sometime on Sunday night (February 25) and send the fabric out next week.

This giveaway is now closed!   Thanks to all!

Hope you all have a great weekend!  Think of me, because we'll be doing a massive landscaping/drainage project that requires hand digging not just one but TWO trenches.  If you want to come help, I won't turn you away! And if you'd like some amusement, I'll try to remember to post some pictures on Instagram.  See you there!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and soscrappy for RSC18.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sharing some love

It isn't often that I have *four* quilts to show off at once, but today I do! A few weeks ago, Bernie at Needle and Foot announced a new service project to collect doll quilts for A Doll Like Me,  the project of a lovely person named Amy who makes specialty dolls for children who are not represented by currently-available dolls, because they have limb differences or other physical issues.  Who could resist such a fun, happy project, especially after reading Amy's story?  Not me, so here are the four little quilts I made to share:

As you can see, I have a helper to show off these doll quilts.  This was my older daughter's doll, which inexplicably still lives at my house.  Even though I'm an old person I still enjoyed bringing her out to play.  And she makes such a nice model!  All these pictures were taken on a rainy day, so they may be a little washed out, but I think their cheerfulness makes up for it.

Don't worry, these were washed after the photo shoot!

Each one of these deserves a small description of it's own, don't you think?  Let's start with this one:

Those of you who have made Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts will recognize the units making up this little quilt.  I "adopted" these 4-patches from another quilter who gave up on making the quilt, then I didn't make the quilt either.  But I still had these units, so I put them on point and then cut some aqua setting triangles and made the little top.  I quilted it with aqua thread in a simple cross hatch.  It worked out great!  I love how the aqua and pink hsts seem to make little butterflies across the top.  This is the biggest quilt at about 23 inches square.

The blue and yellow quilt is very busy, but it works, somehow.  This was made from thrifted blocks that I didn't even know were in the bag of scraps until I emptied it. There were all the four-patches and a larger block that I used in the center, which you can see if you look carefully.  I actually like how it blends in so nicely. There was also a small piece of the yellow and an even smaller piece of the blue in the bag, so I was only able to use those on the sides.  This little quilt was also quilted in a cross hatch with yellow thread. It finished at about 18 by 22.

Next is the applique quilt.  I made this applique panel years ago in a class about machine applique.  This was supposed to be a center with pieced blocks around it, but you can see what happened there. I promise that all of the pieces are very securely attached!  The panel was actually bigger, and I cut it down to about 20 by 23, then echo quilted the background and quilted in a bunch of details on the flowers and leaves.  I'm actually really thrilled with how this turned out and  hope some little person really loves it.

Finally, this might be my favorite little quilt!  Super-cute ninjas!  Because you know, not all little girls like flowers and such, and some little boys might need quilts, too. I made this one as a quilt-as-you-go strip quilt and it's the only one of the four that actually uses all new fabrics. The size was limited by the ninja piece, so it finished at 18 by 20, which is the smallest of the quilts, but is still a good size for the dolls.  Especially if the doll is particularly fierce!

The backings for these quilts were all small pieces that I had in my stash, and all except the ninjas got a floral backing.  Flowers just seemed wrong for those tiny warriors.

Each of the quilts also has a machine binding, so they can be washed over and over again.  I did have kids of my own, and I remember how much laundry was involved! All of the bindings except the black one came from my basket of bindings made from leftover off-cuts from backings and small pieces, too.

I also made a few hospital gowns to go along with the quilts, using THIS free pattern.

These are much more stylish than real hospital gowns and were easy enough to make.  I even made my own bias binding for the necks and ties, but only because I was too lazy to go to the store.  They will certainly make hospital visits a little more fun, for both the dolls and for their owners.

I had a lot of fun making these little quilts and am thrilled to send them on to some tiny humans to go with their special dolls.  I quilted all kinds of good thoughts into these little quilts and I packed those thoughts and some prayers into the box with them as I sent them winging on their way to Amy.  If you are in need of a feel-good project, consider making up a few little quilts or gowns.  Nothing but good can come from it!

Hope all of you have a lovely weekend.  I am probably not sewing much this weekend, but I am strongly considering making brownies as we will have rain today, snow on Saturday, and then rain again on Sunday.  I'll need the brownies to keep my spirits up!

Sharing at crazymomquilts, Confessions of  Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and Oh Scrap!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My blue Valentine

Well, happy Valentine's Day, everyone!  It's a fun little holiday sometimes, isn't it?  The hubs and I had our Valentine's Day yesterday, because today also happens to be Ash Wednesday.  I made filet mignon and cookies, and then we watched the men's curling round robin at the Olympics.  I'm not into it, but based on the yelling, it's a very exciting sport!

Speaking of the love of my life, remember a few weeks ago when he told me that one of my quilts would look better in "pastels?" Well, I wanted to make another quilt from that same block in a different colorway (for reasons that will become clear later this year) and I let him choose the fabric.  I chose the white and gave him several choices for the main fabric, which I narrowed down mainly by whether I had enough yardage to make the quilt.  Here's what he chose:

Yes, blue!  It's not exactly pastel, but it's the closest thing I have to a traditional calico.  Wouldn't you know it?  This is Town and Country Blues by Pepper Cory for Studio E.  At least that's what it says on the selvage, but when I looked for it online, this is not the fabric I found.  Maybe it's really old.

For this quilt, I am making 20 blocks for a throw quilt that will finish at about 54 by 66.  I did all the cutting at once, so the block making is going fairly quickly.  Once I made 160 half-square triangles, everything else was down hill.  Those things will really slow you down.

I've also started making the blocks for the Monet's Wedding ring quilt.  I couldn't resist putting a few up on the wall:

Not crooked, just in need of pressing!
This quilt is really, really easy.  Once you get past the cutting, there are only straight seams and almost no matching.  I can't see the pattern yet, but I know this is going to turn out great.  I already love the colors!  I did intend to use the blue as a background, but it turned out that I didn't like all the colors against it.  Not to worry, I'm sure I'll have another opportunity to use the blue somewhere else.

So that's the update from here! I hope you all have a happy/ holy day, or both, whichever you prefer!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Cool Regatta

This has been an odd week around here, but it's also been a great week for me to get things done. Many of the the things I normally do in a week got cancelled this week, so I had a little bonus time on my hands.  I did a lot!  Let's see. . .I wrote a couple of paper proposals for conferences, worked on learning the ins and outs of graphics software, did a bunch of laundry, and one more thing I can't remember.  Oh, yeah-- and I finished this happy little quilt!

This is one of the smaller versions of the Regatta quilt that I've been making to use up a solid jelly roll that had been hanging around here for far too long.  I'm making two, one in cool colors and one in warm colors.  Obviously this is the one in cool colors, but I had to throw in one red stripe, just because.  Don't worry, the warm one has a blue stripe, too, just because!

I made this quilt in quilt-as-you-go style, which made it very easy and very fast.  The only problem I had was the pinked edges on the jelly roll strips.  Those are a pain in the butt, aren't they?  That's one of the reasons why I don't buy these any more. I've actually started cutting the pinked edges off of the warm strips:

This makes them a little smaller (about 1/4 inch) which will make the warmer quilt a little bit smaller, but it will be a bit easier to construct.  One tip I have for the quilt-as-you-go process is to use a couple of dots from a glue stick on the edges of the strips to hold them still while you stitch the next strip on.  You'll still need pins, but fewer of them.

I like this little quilt and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but I think it could use a little more quilting.  It's not going to come apart or anything, and it's very cuddly, but I think it might look better a little more densely quilted. For the next one I plan to stitch down the centers of the strips as well.  I think that should help a lot, at least to my eye.

This quilt finished up right at 40 by 50, which is exactly where I wanted it to be.  For the binding I used some more of the strips from the jelly roll.  I think that this means that I'll use up all but about two strips, which means that the jelly roll will be gone and almost all the parts will be in a quilt!  Yay!

This little quilt is destined to be donated to Sarah's Hands to Help drive a little later this year, along with its warmer-colored counterpart. I have a couple more ideas for donation quilts, too, but they're going to wait for just a bit.  I'm excited about the Monet's Wedding Ring quilt that I just started and another quilt I'll be starting this coming week.  That one is a free-pieced quilt, which I find quite relaxing.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! I'm not sure what we're doing, but I'm hoping it involves something fun and some chocolate, too!

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

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A new wedding ring

I am having a very weird week, how about you?  It all started when the Eagles won the Super Bowl, and then the entire area lost its mind.  My neighbors were well-prepared with fireworks, and apparently all of Thursday has been cancelled for a parade. Add in some ice and freezing rain and you've really got something!

Thankfully, I have a new project to work on while everyone around me is going crazy.  This project involves the massive bucket full of solids that I still have even after many attempts to use them up.

Why do I have so many?  Because I rarely use them but am still seduced by the awesome colors. All of these are Kona cottons and all are pieces smaller than a fat eighth (9 by 22 inches) with lots of small pieces--some of then really small-- mixed in.

The last time I made a scrap solids quilt it turned out great and is still loved, so this time I chose this pattern to use up a bunch of those solids:

This is the Monet's Wedding Ring pattern from Judy Martin.  It's in her book Scraps, which is from 2006 but you can still find it on Amazon or in the library.  (It's pretty expensive on Amazon, but you can buy an e-book at Judy's site HERE.) Doesn't that look like a cool pattern?  Almost a double wedding ring, but no curved piecing.  Winner!

If you look closely at the pattern, you can see that almost all the pieces in the pattern are squares.  Easy cutting, but super-boring because there are about 11 billion of them in different sizes.  I went ahead and started cutting the solids so that I can start sewing these blocks together:

Of course, that's a tiny fraction of what I need. This is going to take forever.

I'm thinking of using that pale blue for the background instead of a cream or white. (The color is better in the photo with the book above.)  I have enough of this one, but I also thought about a pale yellow. I don't have enough of any yellow for the whole background, but I could shop. White would look good, but white and cream get boring after a while. What do you think? Or do you have another suggestion?

So, I guess I'll be cutting solid squares for a while!  Which is great, because there's no way I'm going anywhere near the city on Thursday.  Imagine the traffic and parking!

I also have the little doll quilts to finish quilting up, and I'm also planning to make a few "hospital gowns" for the dolls to send along.  I found an easy free pattern HERE.  She also has other free patterns for 18 inch dolls and some for sale as well, in case you're in search of another project. 

Everybody have a great week.  Hope it's not too weird!  For those of you keeping track, this is my 350th post!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and Oh Scrap!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Squared Away Block 2

Welcome back to the Squared Away quilt along!  If you're new here, double welcome!  I really recommend reading the whole tutorial before you start, then hop on over to Angela's blog to see some variations and get some more fun ideas for the blocks. This month we are working with colors from purple to lavender, and we have a great block to show them off.  Here is this month's block:

Wishing Ring, Mrs. Danner's Quilts, 1934

This is Wishing Ring, a 1934 block from Mrs. Danner's Quilts.  I made mine in a single purple fabric, but I know some variations highlight the center ring.  This is a very easy block to construct.  I used strip piecing, but if you have squares already cut, by all means use those. The point is to use the scraps, not make more!

Cutting for a 10-inch block:

Note that this shows an extra white 2-1/2 inch square that doesn't belong.

From the purple, cut:

1 5-3/4 inch square* (for making half-square triangles--can oversize if desired)
2 2-1/2 by 13-1/2 inch strips
2 2-1/2 inch squares

From the background, cut:

1 5-3/4 inch square*
1 2-1/2 by 13-1/2 inch strip


First, take the 2-1/2 by 13-1/2 strips of the purple and the background and stitch them together along the long edges, with the background between the two purples.  Press to the purple (or press the seams open if that's something you do).

Cut this strip into five 2-1/2 inch pieces. (A little bit is included for straightening.)  If you don't have large enough scraps, you can use 2-1/2 inch squares to make 5 of these little units.

Next, take the 5-3/4 inch squares of the purple and the background fabric and use them to make 8 half-square triangles using the Magic 8 method.  Your hsts should measure 2-1/2 inches square to finish at 2 inches in the block. If your scraps aren't large enough to do this, use any other method to make 8 2-1/2 inch hsts.

That's all of our units! On to assembling the block!


First, take the two purple 2-1/2 inch squares and 4 of the hsts.  Lay them out as shown, paying attention to the directions of the hsts:

These are shown in opposite directions, but they are identical, not directional.

Stitch and press to the center squares.

**Alternate method: Want to save some seams?  Skip cutting the 2-1/2 inch purple squares and 4 of the hsts, and instead cut 2 2-1/2 by 6-1/2 inch strips of purple and 4 2-1/2 inch squares of the background fabric.  Use the background squares to "snowball" the ends of the strips, making sure the hsts face in the same direction.  Use these as side pieces instead of the pieced units.**

Alternate method for side pieces.

Next, lay out the units you just made and one of the pieces cut from the strip set, with the strip set piece between the two units you just made. Stitch and press. This makes the center ring. 

Finally, layout the remaining hsts, the remaining strip set pieces, and the center ring that you just made as shown:

Pay attention to the directions of the hsts, then stitch the units into rows and the rows into a finished block.  Give it a good press, stand back, and admire!

And that is block 2 for our project this year!  If you are making the whole quilt, make three blocks, or make as many as needed for your own project. Here are my blocks for the month, in both 10 and 15-inch sizes:

Since I used just one purple for each of the blocks, this month I played around with background colors and ended up using a light yellow for one of the block backgrounds and a light green for another:

Have fun making your purple blocks this month!  We are 20% of the way to our 30-block goal! Our next block will be posted on March 3.  See you back here then, and don't forget to linkup your blocks some time this month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge linkup over at soscrappy.  And if you're posting over on Instagram, please use #squaredawayquilt or #squaredawaybom so we don't miss your beautiful blocks!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Christmas in February

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! There is snow on the ground, the wind is blowing hard, and I just finished a Christmas quilt!  Okay, in reality I am searching the ground every day for a tiny sign of spring and planning all the planting that needs to be done, but I really did finish a Christmas quilt.  And Mother Nature has kindly provided us with some snow so that the pictures look wintery.  Wasn't that nice of her?

If you recall, I pulled these poor neglected blocks out of the closet a few weeks ago and gave myself two weeks to get my act together and do something with the blocks.  It took a little longer, but I did get them together into this comfy quilt.  Yay for not going back into the closet!

I did not make any of these blocks.  They were made by friends of mine in an online quilt group for a group swap.  These came from people all over the US and I know for sure one of my blocks is from a friend in Australia.  Of course, I made a ton of these blocks and they got sent on to other friends. 

The pattern for these blocks is HERE.  I can tell you that they are tricky to make and not for beginners.  One issue in both the construction and the quilting is that the rays of the blocks are made with 3D flying geese.  I kept getting hung up on those free edges while I was quilting this.  It was quite frustrating.  My one piece of advice for anyone quilting 3D pieces is to make use of a glue stick.  Seriously, it can tack down those edges just enough so that they can be properly caught in the seams and so that they don't snag your machine foot when you're quilting.

If you look closely, you'll see that this quilt is extra dimensional.  I used two layers of leftover wool batting that I just stitched together, which made the quilt really puffy but also soft and warm.  It needed something special because I wasn't going to spend a lot of time quilting it up. Even the two layers of wool gave me no problems with the quilting.  It moved through the machine just fine and stitched beautifully.  The binding is scraps of three different red Christmas fabrics, which are now all used up.  Double yay for that!

I have to confess that the quilting on this quilt is atrocious. All I did for the quilting was use a walking foot along both the short and long edges of the blocks to stabilize the quilt, then I free-motion quilted along the arcs and a little away from the rays in each block.  I really should have used the walking foot for that part as well, and I would have had better results.  My problem was having to twist and turn the quilt to use the walking foot, and that would not have gone well with my machine. As it is, the lines are quite wobbly. A lot of it gets hidden in the batting, and I'm hoping that it will be much less noticeable once it's washed, too.

All told, though, it came out pretty well, especially since it's just for our family.  The best part is that it's not going back in the closet!  We'll probably cuddle up with it for a little while, then it will get washed and put away until the end of this year.  So that's one more quilt all done!  Getting this out of the closet and finished is a load off my mind.  It's so freeing to get a project moved along. I don't have to look at the box and feel bad any more! 

It happens that I have one block left over from this quilt, because we all made 36 blocks and got 36 blocks back (over the course of several months, not all at once!)  This weekend, I'm going to use the leftover block to make a little doll quilt to support Bernie's Share the Love project, which you can read about in her post HERE. If there's anything that will warm your heart, it's this project, so hop on over there and check it out.  And have a great weekend, too!

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