Friday, November 30, 2018

Winter tulips

Hi everyone! How was your week?  Has anyone started baking Christmas cookies? I'm looking for a *good* gluten free sugar cookie recipe, if anyone knows one.  These are my first GF holidays and I'm finding it difficult to find good replacements for old favorites.

It's the time of the year when it's very stressful here at the AQ house.  Lots of things going on and lots and lots of deadlines.  In the sewing room, I've been quilting up a bunch of things and it's felt like all I've done for the last couple of weeks is stitch straight lines.  These quilts will be awesome, but they can get really dull to work on towards the end.  So, what to do to stay creative and sane?  Work on a new-ish project, of course!  Here's what I came up with:

Tulip fields blocks, from Bonnie Hunter's book String Fling! I'm making my blocks bigger than hers, so I had to adjust the cutting and whatnot, but it's the same idea.  I also decided to use scrappy pieces for the tulip petals, too, where Bonnie uses a constant color. 

Never fear, I am not making all of these string blocks now!  That would add more stress. I started with this pile:

I made these blocks as an RSC project in (gulp!) 2015. I tried them out with some gray triangles earlier this year, but that never went anywhere.  Just couldn't find a pattern I liked for them. I'll take those apart and make them into tulips, too. I think these tulip blocks are much more my style and will make a prettier quilt.

That's the update from here! Looking ahead realistically, this project and the black blocks project will probably be all I'll have time to finish off this year.  I'll have some fun quilted finishes, but this will likely be the last start of a project.  Okay, I did pull one more out of the closet and I might work on it some, but only if it's fun. 

Hope you all have a good weekend! Tomorrow it will be December, if you can believe it.  Time to trim the tree, add some presents, and submit some final grades.  Fun!

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

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Dark blue and wavy too

Hi everyone! Show of hands-- how many people are pretty sure they never want to see a turkey again?  Always lots of leftover turkey, never enough leftover pie.  It's the great Thanksgiving imbalance.  In spite of that, we had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you did, too.  The day after Thanksgiving was a lazy day for us, mainly because it was quite chilly, though I do confess that I went online and purchased a few things. I didn't have to leave the couch, let alone stand in line outside. God bless Tim Berners-Lee.

Today I'm just dropping in to show off my totally quilted and bound Straight Away quilt:

This is one of the projects that I made with my 15-inch Squared Away blocks.  I finished the top a few weeks ago and then used this quilt to try out the serpentine stitch on the new machine.  It worked really well!  I only had a few hiccups, but thankfully they were mostly on the dark blue parts, so they were well hidden.

This is quilted with a dark blue Aurifil thread.  I always worry about using dark thread because I don't usually like dark thread on lighter fabrics, but here it doesn't really bother me. The backing is a dark floral from Alexander Henry so the stitches just blend in.  I bought about 6 yards of the backing for a song a while ago, so I still have enough left to back another quilt.

I quilted the lines about an inch and a half apart, and this is one of the coziest quilts I've ever made.  I'm so happy about that, because this quilt is winging its' way to Bernie for the Mercyful Quilts project.  You can read more about it HERE, but a very short explanation is that the Mercyful quilts go to the palliative care unit at Mercy Medical Center to aid in the care of the dying.  You should definitely go read Bernie's post.  It will touch your heart.

So there we are-- one more completely finished RSC quilt, and for a good cause.  I am happy to send this one off and I hope it brings some comfort to a family.  And I'm already quilting up another quilt with the serpentine stitch, so I should have it under good control by the end of the weekend.  I can't even tell you how thrilled I am about this.  I have two more RSC quilts I want to get into tops before the end of the year and I already feel like we're racing towardthat deadline.  We're staring at the end of 2018, people!

Hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend!  Freeze the rest of the turkey and go for a pizza.  It will feel great!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Counting my blessings

Hi everyone! Is your kitchen overwhelmed with pie-making, and perhaps a turkey thawing? I know what you're doing, and it smells fantastic and yummy!

It's Thanksgiving this week in the United States, and when we count our blessings this year, we will be counting one more.  See if you can guess what that blessing will be:

Yes, we are expecting another grandchild! Our daughter will be having a baby girl in January.  Yes, we are over the moon! And, yes, that does make four grandchildren in three years.  The more the merrier, I say! 

Since this tiny girl will be making her big debut in the coldest part of the year, I've made her some nice warm blankets to snuggle into.  These are always fun to make, and super easy to boot.  And just look at the really cute flannels I found!  Our daughter and her husband don't want a lot of pink, but thankfully there are some really cute flannels that are much more unisex than what they're selling in stores these days. 

I made four of the single-layer blankets and a double-sided one.  I make these without any measuring.  To do this, I just remove the selvages and square up one end.  Then I fold the squared-off end diagonally to meet one of the edges where the selvages were.

Trim and then hem and you've got a good-sized baby blanket!  This gives you a blanket that is about 40 inches square, depending on the original width of the flannel.  Mine were just over 40 inches.  The peas and carrots, the green, and the little sprigs are Lil' Sprouts Flannel Too, which is a very nice heavyweight flannel that turned out really soft and made great blankets.  The super cute fishbowls are a Michael Miller flannel from Bernie's shop, and it also washed beautifully and made a great little blanket. 

Since they now tell parents not to put coats on babies so that the car seat straps fit nice and snug, I also made a double-sided blanket that is quite a bit heavier and can be used over the car seat carrier when she has to go somewhere.  Double-sided ones are also nice to have for other uses, too. To make the double -sided one, I cut one of the flannels using the same method as above, then pinned, pinned, pinned it to the uncut other layer, right sides together. 

Stitch first, leaving an opening for turning, then trim the second layer away. Turn and stitch about 1/4 inch from the edges all around, which will also stitch the opening closed.  Voila--a double-sided blanket with no measuring!  The pennants flannel for this blanket came from Bernie's shop, too, and the apricot is the Lil' Sprouts.  To be honest, I really wanted a pink for the back, but I didn't want to risk the wrath of the mom to be.  I think the apricot cuts the pinkness of the pennants enough, don't you?

So that is our happy, happy news for this Thanksgiving.  One more especially happy blessing among the many, many others we count.  I hope you and your families are all counting many blessings as well this Thanksgiving.  Everybody travel safe over the river and through the woods, and shop safe on Friday, too!

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

A Mercyful quilt

Hi all! Did everyone get all their leaves raked up before the snow fell? Ha, me neither! I did manage not to slide off the unplowed roads, but that's another story altogether.  We got about 4-1/2 inches of snow, and it's raining as I write this.  I spent part of this afternoon watching cars trying to get up the hill near our house, and there were some near misses there. I could do with less of this kind of excitement, really.

Today I want to show this quilt, which I forgot I needed to take pictures of until I got home, so:

Yep, I had to take the photos in the snow, which is why there will be so few of them.  It was not actively raining at that point, but it was close. 

I did not make a single one of these blocks.  They are from a swap I did with some friends from an online group years ago.  The ones I made, of course, ended up in their quilts.  I finished the top in 2016 and just quilted it up in the last couple of weeks.  Yes, I am hanging my head in shame.  I meant to do the binding all by machine, but I forgot and stitched it to the front instead of the back, so it's got a hand binding instead.

Hmm, I seem to have missed a couple lines!

I quilted this up with the walking foot, just straight stitching along all of the block lines in a variegated gray, which was the only gray thread I had.  It actually turned out really well.  After I took this picture, I went back and did a small cross hatch in the setting triangles, too, but I'm just too lazy to go take another picture.

This quilt is folded up and in a box and ready to go off to my friend Bernie at Needle and Foot, who is collecting quilts for the palliative care unit at Mercy Hospital in Sacramento.  You can read all about the program and the quilts HERE and HERE.  I know from personal experience what a difference a program like this makes to the family, and I have nothing but respect for people who do this work.  I'm glad that this quilt will go off to help a family and I hope they get some comfort from it.  Many hospitals have programs like this, so if you're moved to contribute, you could check with your local hospital or send a quilt off to Bernie, who will be sure it's put to good use. 

Indoor picture!

On a much more cheerful note, I hope everyone has a good weekend with no snow.  California friends, I would send you a bunch of rain and snow if I could, but know that I'm praying for downpours to end the fires there.  Everybody stay safe!

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Feeling the felt

It's beginning to feel a lot like winter! Well, it certainly has gotten colder these last few days, hasn't it?  Some members of our family have had snow already, but we have just had cold rain and a lot of wind.  Maybe all of the leaves will blow away and we won't have to rake anything this year.  We can dream, right?

When my kids were small, it seemed like there was always something going on with felt, and it was usually around this time of year.  We had plenty of Halloween costumes, of course, and all kinds of school projects.  Did anyone else's kids have to make dioramas? Gosh, I hated those things.  Anyway, it seems I'm regressing, because I've been making things with felt again.  First I had to get the room set up a little differently:

I pushed both of the tables together so that I could have a bigger workspace and could have both machines set up at once.  I'm sure the new machine could handle it, but I just don't want to sew the felt on it.  Plus, I'm setting that one up to quilt up some tops and I don't want to have to change everything over.  Better to use the backup machine for the felt.

So, what am I making?  Well, there's this:

This is a felt Christmas tree that I'm making for the grandkids to play with.  Maybe they'll leave the real one alone?  I saw these for sale on Amazon, but the one I'm making is a bit larger and more fun (I think).  It could use a little shaping up, but I think it's going to work out fine.  To make this I just bought one yard of the 72 inch wide polyester felt at the J-store and then folded it in half and freehand cut the tree.  (No, I did not use my good scissors!)  I did end up cutting through 4 layers of felt, because I want the tree to be double sided so that it's a bit more durable.  Not quite sure what to do to hang this up.  Maybe the Command hooks?  I'll have to ask my kids what they think.

And what's a tree without ornaments?  These are just the beginnings of some ornaments.  I think I'll have to make these doubled as well, and of course I plan to decorate these very festively.  Since there are three toddlers, I'm pretty sure we're going to have to have a lot of ornaments, with everything in multiples of three.  Thinking I should make at least three presents, too.

I'm also making these:

This will be a felt roadway!  I saw sets of these online, but they were quite pricey.  To make my own I just got some of the black 72 inch wide felt and cut pieces 4-1/2 by 12 inches.  The road sections will be doubled as well, so I zigzagged in some white lines on the top layer and then I've just been stitching around the edges of the two pieces to join them.  This hides the white threads and I think the second layer also makes it a little easier for small hands to grab and play with.

Now I just have to figure out how to make some curves for the roads, and how many road pieces to make.  I was always frustrated when I played with those plastic road pieces that I could never make big roads, so I think there may be quite a few pieces in my future.  If you'd like a pattern for a felt roadway, there is a free pattern HERE.  I didn't end up using it, but it looks like everything you'd need! There are some good ideas there, like T intersections and such.

I'm also basting some quilts, but I need to have these felt projects done before December first so that they can be taken out to the grandkids.  You know they'll need that tree to play with as soon as possible!

Hope you're all having a good week, and if you have any suggestions about how to do some lights for that tree or anything the roadway needs, I'd love to hear them!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Friday, November 9, 2018

T-shirts transformed

Hi everyone! How is it possible that it's already Friday again?  This week just flew past.  Maybe I just got too into buying presents.  Yep, I started the Christmas shopping.  It will be here before we know it, and before the holiday even gets here there's another important event in our family: our twin grandchildren are turning one soon.  I can't even remember what life was like before they were born, and now they're growing so fast.

All I managed to do this week was finally, finally finish the binding on my daughter's t-shirt quilt:

Done at last!  In spite of what you may have read elsewhere, I didn't find that making a t-shirt quilt was particularly difficult.  The only problems I had were ones I created for myself, so if you want to make one, try it!  This was my first one and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

The old machine didn't have a serpentine stitch, which I really like, so I used a very large zigzag, which I elongated by fiddling with the width and length so it looked a little wavy. I started to think of it as "lasagna quilting" because it reminded me of lasagna noodles.  I just quilted lines across in random spacing, which actually worked out to be a very low-stress way to quilt this.  My only problem was that I used a heavier batting than I usually do because she wants it to be very warm.  The batting made the quilt really heavy and made it drag a bit, which was annoying.  But it all turned out just fine in the end!

In addition to the lasagna quilting, I also did some crosshatching in matching thread on the larger shirts themselves.  This was just to fill in the quilting because there were large empty spaces between the quilting lines on the green.  The green is just Kona Pesto and it worked great with these t-shirts.

The backing is an Allison Glass print that is supposed to be aqua.  I always find that the colors of these prints are off and so I don't use them much.  It does work great as a backing here, with the dark green on the front.  I did keep thinking that those white parts of the print were hanging threads, though!  Good thing I didn't try cutting them!

This quilt has been packed off to my lovely daughter, who was thrilled with it even before it was quilted.  It's getting quite chilly up there in Maine, though, so I'm sure she'll love having a snuggly quilt for watching TV and such.  I just hope the cats like it, too.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  I'm going to spend much of the weekend writing and doing work stuff, but it's going to be rainy and cold, so I don't much care.  There may also be some more presents to choose, too, and you know that once you're on the Internet in shopping mode, anything can happen!

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

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Hip to be square

Hi everyone! Happy November Saturday. Yes, I said November. Can you believe it? On the up side, it was 70 degrees here on November first. On the down side, 2018 will be over soon and I am just not ready for that.

Today I just want to show off my finished Squared Away quilt top.  After ten months in the making, here is the finished pieced top:

Another quite cloudy day, but the top is done and I'm pretty happy with it (except that I can see that there are a couple of blocks I want to move. . .)

I'm not sure you can see it in the pictures, but there are two "extra" squares in the quilt top.  (You'll be able to see these better after it's quilted because there will be batting and backing behind the top.) I used a very pale blue for the sashing around the four blocks in the center, and then a very pale gray sashing around the next "round" of blocks, just as a fun design element.  Okay, I thought it was fun. You may feel differently. The white actually has a very tiny silver/ gray dot, which is a Timeless Treasures print that I got in the Christmas section.

So, here's a story about the setting triangles: I made them twice.  The first time I made them from the same white/ silver as the sashing and I really didn't like it, so a week later I took half the quilt top apart and remade the setting triangles with a light beige confetti print (that said 2004 on the selvage).  I think it was worth it, even though I sometimes question my sanity.

You know how you should listen to a quilt when it tells you what it wants?  I also took off borders! After I put in the beige setting triangles it just didn't look like it needed borders.  Maybe those white triangles were really trying to tell me something.  What do you think-- should I add them back?

I'm very happy this is done and ready for quilting! I think it's going to be long-armed, though I don't have any real idea about a quilting pattern.  That's for later, because there are a *lot* of quilt tops built up and I need to quilt some of them soon.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend! I am off to clean the sewing room. It looks like something exploded in there!

The leaves have turned at last!

Sharing at soscrappy for the end of RSC18.