Friday, June 26, 2020

A little bit of mercy

Hi everyone! Getting a bit of a late start this morning, but I promise there are some pretty pictures coming up. It's a lovely day here in Baltimore, and I hope it's lovely where you are, too. Our roof got a temporary patch this week, but we had some strong storms that pushed off the major work for another week, and we got a ridiculously high bid for some other work we need done. A homeowner's work is never done, is it?

I finished a quilt this week! Yahoo! A few weeks ago, I bought myself a very expensive present, and I kept the old one and set it up with the walking foot permanently. This is the best thing I could have done, because I finished this top faaar too long ago, and now it is all quilted up and cozy.  Here she is:

This is a donation quilt that is going to Bernie for Mercyful Quilts. I made this from a panel last year and I think it could work for a man or a woman, don't you? I finished it off yesterday and even washed it, but it didn't stop raining in enough time to get some pictures. It was worth waiting until this morning, though, because it's nice and sunny now.

A few weeks ago, Bernie posted a quilt and talked about how she had had a "quilter's block" that had kept her from quilting it. When I read that, I immediately thought of this top. I had almost no ideas about how to quilt it, and then later I had really complicated ideas about how to quilt it. In the end I just did an uneven diagonal plaid with the walking foot, and it turned out great.

One problem I had with this quilt was that I could not get it basted for the life of me. I tried taping the backing to the floor, clamping it to a table, I even tried pinning it on the design wall. The danged backing just would not cooperate. I ended up doing this:

Yep, I pinned it directly to the deck boards! It was the only thing that worked.  I swept it all really well, and I knew the quilt would be washed after it was quilted, so it wasn't a huge deal. It worked, and I got that sucker basted in no time. And no wrinkles on the back!

Right now, this quilt is in a box by the back door, ready to head off to Bernie. I hope it brings someone a lot of comfort in a really hard time. We could all use that, couldn't we?  Here's one little bit of comfort from a friend that I got in this morning's mail:

Wendy offered me some aqua batik scraps she had, as well as some "runny" yardage, and she sent this really cute pincushion in the package, too. Isn't it darling? Thanks so much Wendy! It makes me smile and will be  great for my flower head pins.

Okay, I am going to brave the post office and get that box sent off to Bernie, then I think I'll tackle the dye in that yardage. I've got a few good ideas, and I got some Retayne, so I'll let you know how it works out! Hope you all have a lovely and restful weekend. Keep those masks on, wash your hands, and stay healthy!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Brag About Your Beauties, Finished or Not Friday, and the Patchwork and Quilts Party on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Making progress

Hello everyone! Hope you all are having a good day.  We keep having storms that take out our power, but otherwise it's been an okay week here so far. Well, except for the part where the hubs and I may have finally hit the point where we have spent too much time together. Two full time jobs, a cancelled vacation, a new granddaughter we can't meet, a pandemic, civil unrest, *and* home improvements have finally proven to be a little much. Good thing we can sometimes escape outdoors! Or rage clean, which is what I sometimes do. (The shower is currently sparkling.)

Meanwhile, down in my little kingdom where I make all the rules, I've been working on getting some projects finished up. I've been putting some time in on this one:

Yes, we've seen this before, but I needed a pretty picture for the top of the blog here. This is a very old project from before we moved to the East coast that I've finally taken out of the box to finish up. This is just the center here, and I've finally sewn the sections together.

Turns out that there is not a lot left for me to do to finish this. "Past me" left a lot of very helpful notes for "future me," so it looks like all I have to do is make a whole lot of flying geese and some more of the hopscotch units for the borders.

This quilt goes together in sections, not rows, so I have to finish the geese before I can really go any further. Apparently I made all of the blocks and the center sections, but I stopped with the border parts. Yay for past me, because now I don't have a lot to do to complete this top. The only bad part is that I bought this as a kit from a rummage sale (for some ridiculously low price) and the kit was from 2008, so the directions call for making the geese one at a time-- and it has pieces that only allow that, not the faster four-at-a-time method. Once you've done things the faster way, you just don't want to go back. I will be strip piecing that other border, though.

I can't be sure how many until I'm completely finished, but there will be some really great scraps left over from this project.

I'll need to come up with something to do with these rather than just throwing them in a scrap bin, because these are such nice fabrics that go so well together. Any ideas? (They are all Shadow Play fabrics by Maywood Studio, in case you want to know.)

The other thing I'm working on is making some more masks. Siiiggghhh. That was me, sighing like a 14 year old. I'll have to wear one every day for every class come August, so I'm trying out new patterns that are more comfortable and that I might be able to teach while wearing.

This is my current favorite, a pattern by Bonnie Hunter that you can find HERE. The shaped patterns don't fit me well and come right off my nose, and the seam bothers me, but the pleated ones are better. I cut up an old t-shirt and it made great cording!  I can pull these nice and tight around my head, too. My hubby likes this pattern so much that I'm adapting some masks that my friend Jen made and just adding the longer cording to his.

So, that's what I'm up to right now! I got most of the curtains finished, with just one more pair that needs hemming, and I spent a very nice afternoon cutting some random scraps into regular sized squares-- 2-1/2, 2, and 1-1/2 inches. I also spent some time watching these guys in the front yard:

I think the storms have pushed them out into the open, for some reason, because they are everywhere right now. Or maybe I've suddenly become a Disney princess without realizing it. Do you think that's it? Yeah, me too.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of the week! Stay cool, healthy, and dry!

Sharing at Midweek Makers

Saturday, June 20, 2020

In the pink

Good morning everyone! Today's post is brought to you by the letter D, for damp, and B, for boom. Actually, boom! boom! boom! accompanied by very bright flashes and then, very excitingly, a fire. All of which added up to no power all night. Yeah, no fun.

I think you can guess what happened. We had some pretty strong storms, and it was apparently too much for the electrical infratructure. Or maybe something got struck by lightning. Who knows? All I know is that more than one transformer blew, and one caught fire for a brief time. It was semi exciting, but it did mean that the post I was working on got wiped, and that I got to have takeout for dinner for the first time in a long time. So, you know, good and bad.

All that to introduce the paltry few blocks I have to show today! Here are my pink Ohio Stars for the RSC this month:

These are a little damp, as I took the photos in between rain showers. I promise that they are dry now. I do love pink, and these stars are super easy to make and let me paw through those pink scraps. The larger star has a pink that is very old, from pre-blogging days. Which reminds me that somehow this blog turned six years old during quarantine. Six! Time flies, doesn't it?

Because we're at the halfway point, I pulled out the rest of the stars for a "halfway" picture:

Hmmm. . .I seem to be missing a couple of smaller aqua stars. I'm not sure that I made them, but they weren't in the box. I also skipped the dark blue, and I should probably find something to add there. Not dark blue, but maybe a royal blue? Either way, these stars could use a happy shot of yellow, don't you think?

Finally, I had a visitor this week, and I finally managed to snap a photo:

Not a great photo, since it was taken through the window, but you have to be quick with these guys! The deer live in the woods near our house, and occasionally come up near the house. This one came right up to the patio, and ran off right after I got this picture. We've also seen her (or one her friends, you know) with a fawn recently. It's like living at the zoo, really. Still haven't managed a picture of the foxes, but they're here, too.

That's my update for now! Hope you all are having a great weekend, with power and everything. May your internet never falter, and your ice cream not melt!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC20.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Drawing the curtains

Hello all! How's it going in your corner of the universe? Lots going on here, as we are finally getting some remodeling done, which had been postponed by the virus. We seem to have this thing where we buy houses that need some love and then make ourselves crazy getting them to where we want them to be. I have to tell you that this is the hardest time we've had getting contractors to even show up. No clue why this is, because boy, they are charging us plenty to do the work. More expensive even than Delaware, which is really saying something.

Anyway, while people were walking on my roof, I went downstairs and made these two lovely blocks:

These are the June blocks for the color challenge at Patterns by Jen. You can see that these are opposite colorways, which I've been making all year, but in the same fabrics. Maybe not the best choice, but I don't have a lot of blue and I wanted to use these batiks. I ordered some batiks from Connecting Threads, and they were supposed to be blue-greens, but they turned out to be just plain blue. There were only a couple of blue-greens in the fat quarter pack, which is disappointing, because I want to make the quilt for our bed from blue-greens, from aqua to turquoise. Think beach glass. If anyone knows of some nice aqua batiks, please point me in the right direction!

After that, I had to buckle down and finally get to hemming up some curtains for our windows.

This house is a mid-century modern, which is a great layout, but the windows are a problem. They are very high up on the walls, and since we're fairly short, we can only see out a little bit. It turns out, though, that there is no problem seeing in from the street, and I'm tired of the ugly, dirty blinds that came with the house. So, I've started cutting and hemming these curtains, and I may have to actually make some others.  I did see that there are people on Etsy who make curtains for very tall windows, and if any of you have a recommendation of who to hire for this, please send that along too!

That's my update for now, at least in the sewing arena! Otherwise I'm getting a bunch of exercise, writing some new classes for the fall, doing what research I can without being able to actually go into the library, and generally trying to relax and let my brain recover from months of stress.  I'll leave you with this picture of some lovely flowers I came across on a walk:

I don't know what they are, but they're very cheerful!

Hope you all are having as good a week as possible in these very fraught times. I'm still feeling discombobulated by everything that is happening in the world and our country right now, but I did realize that one of the things I can do about it is to teach better, so I've been redoing some of my materials to make sure I have a broad section of races and perspectives represented. Black lives matter, folks, and it's up to us to be sure the next generation knows it, too. 

Sharing eventually at PBJ.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Colorful trio

Hello everyone! How are you all doing? Hanging in there?  I ventured out into the previously-closed world once this week, and it was odd.  There are a lot of empty shelves at Target, folks.  Thankfully, Mr. Academic Quilter now has a replenished supply of essential snacks, so it looks like we may be good for a while. I did go to a farmer's market, too, which was a very happy experience. Tomatoes that taste like tomatoes!

I also made my way to the sewing room a few times. I may have finally gotten all of the fabric that I bought online over the last few months put away, and I worked on some of the projects I showed last time. It was quite invigorating! So much so that I finished up these three happy pieces this week:

Look at those flowers and the green trees! How happy is that? These are three fabric scrap baskets, which is one of my projects for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge at Angela's this year. I am still trying to catch up from the last few months, and so I made this month's color, which is the pink, and one of the colors I missed, which is the green, and an extra black basket just because.

You'll notice that the green basket is a bunch of different green hues. I don't have enough of any one green to merit separate baskets for dark green, sage green, light green, etc., so this one is for "mixed greens." Of course, bright green is the exception, because I have plenty of that in its own fabric home.

The black basket was a surprise, because who knew I had that many black scraps? But I did, and it turned out to be much, much prettier than I thought it would be. Of course, I don't have much black fabric, but this one is big enough to hold the few gray bits I have left, too. 

 Those were my big finishes for the week! I am super happy with them and have already put them to their intended use. Not surprisingly, the pink basket is pretty full, so we may need to do something about that later this year.  Is it me, or would those three colors look great together in a quilt? Perhaps that's how these baskets will get emptied!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. It's raining here, but there is plenty to do in the house. You thought I was behind in the sewing room! Do you know what happens when you barely clean anything for a couple of months? It isn't pretty, but it has to be dealt with. Pass the Mr. Clean and cross your fingers for me!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and soscrappy for RSC20.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Design wall updates

Hi all! Just taking a little time from this stupid paper that I'm writing to say hello and show a couple of things that I've pulled out to work on. I usually go to a conference early in June, but that's been cancelled this year, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing right now. Somehow sitting on the deck with a cool drink doesn't feel right.

Last week, when I was feeling pretty low (still feeling that way, but no politics today!) I started going through some of my project boxes to see the status of some things I have in there. It feels like forever since I looked at these, so it's like finding a bunch of projects started by someone else that I get to finish up. If I feel like it, you know.

First up is this project, if anyone remembers it:

I started this back when we lived in Wisconsin, which means it's been in that box for a long time. They aren't all on the wall, but I do have all the blocks and most of the pieces, just not put together. It looks like all I have to make for this is a bunch more flying geese and then it will be done.  There are some appliques, too, but I think I'll probably leave those off and not add the larger (unpieced) border. It will be a little smaller, but that's ok with me.

Then I pulled out these blocks, which are much more recent:

These are star blocks using some black fabrics I had and wasn't doing anything with. I think they look great together. I have the black pieces cut for 11 more blocks, which means that there are probably two more blocks in another box somewhere.  I have to cut the white backgrounds and the accent pieces that make the central stars, but then these should go together pretty easily.

Then I got distracted when I took the leftover pieces out of the box to put in a scrap bin and started on this:

Why not make a small fabric scrap basket like the ones I'm making for the RSC this year? No reason not to, except that I don't have much in the way of black scraps, except what I've already cut. Maybe I'll store some grays in there, too.

And then, of course, the modern blocks quilt top keeps growing:

This is turning out way better than anticipated. I'm just kind of sticking the blocks up there as I finish them, so I'm looking forward to playing with all the color distributions.

Whenever I wander into the sewing room in the next few weeks, I'll be working on one of these. I'm easily distracted, though, so who knows what will happen? There are a lot of fun things to work on in those boxes!

I hope everything is peaceful and calm where you are, and that you are enjoying beautiful weather.  I've been out walking a lot, and came across these beautiful flowers at a neighbor's mailbox:

These certainly cheered me, and I hope they cheer you, too! Have a good week!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Love and good will

Hi all. I've been trying to write this post all day, and I do have something quilty to talk about today, but it feels a little silly to talk about quilts and other hobbies right now, doesn't it? Every day I wake up and I'm not sure what country I'm in. I thought that the pandemic was a very challenging time, and what is happening in our country right now just leaves me at a complete loss for words. I am heartbroken, and angry, and fearful all at once, and like many of you I don't know where we go from here.

I said I had something quilty (and pretty happy) to show today, so let's talk about that first, and those of you who don't want to read my other thoughts can just skip them.  Here is my mostly finished project:

These are two little quilts that are going to Jack's Basket through Sarah's Hands to Help quilt drive. This is an awesome organization, and they ask for smaller quilts, so these are just 36 by 36. They look a little wrinkled, but I promise that they are very cozy, and I took these pictures in the evening, so the shadows make them look worse. They're really very cute in person.

These are quilted but not yet bound, and they might look a little flat to some of you. I used flannel inside instead of batting, and put flannel on the back. I really like how that turned out, and I might do that for all my baby quilts from now on. They are lighter and fold up a little smaller, and they will probably fit into the baskets a bit better.  I also used the wavy stitch on a quilt for the first time, and I love how it turned out.

I have to admit that the end of the challenge snuck up on me, so for the rest of the week I'm planning to power quilt through my donations. Cross your fingers, though, because I also have a paper to finish by the 12th. What's a little pressure at this point?

And on to the non-happy part of the post:

Talking about those happy little quilts has lightened my mood a little, but after a few minutes the reality of it all comes back. I've tried to keep politics out of this blog, mainly because I want it to be a fun and happy refuge from the craziness of the rest of the world. It would be wrong, though to ignore what's going on right now. There are armed soldiers in the streets of the capitol of this nation, protests in the most beautiful cities in this country, too many men and women arrested, too many dead for no reason, an ongoing pandemic that has claimed more than 105,000 lives, millions are unemployed, and oh, yeah-- there are still children locked up at our border because their parents wanted a better life for them. And the Secretary of Defense calls the cities and neighborhoods where most Americans live "the battlespace."

For one of the very few times in my life, I feel fairly useless here. I'm a white woman in my late 50s. Protesting and marching are not for me. I've written checks and clicked "donate" buttons, and I voted today, but it feels like such a small effort. I wish we had a leader, a real leader, not the hollow man in the White House and the sycophants who serve him, to help lead us out of this space that we're in. I wish I knew a way to wrap George Floyd's family in love and comfort, and the families of so many others, too-- Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Aubrey, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor. . .and on and on and on. I wish I knew better ways to let my black brothers and sisters know that their pain is felt by Americans of all races, and we are not indifferent to their suffering.

Sigh. I know all is not useless, as this country is better than it was when I was a child, and even better than when I was a young woman. It just feels very hard right now. Perhaps we are witnessing the birth of an even better country. Can it be? Can we make it so? Can we piece together something better out of the crises we face today? I pray that we are strong enough to do so, I really do, and I cry because of all the time and lives we have already lost.

All my love and good will to all of you today, quilty friends, with my wishes for a better tomorrow for ALL of us, together. The moral universe bends, and let it bend toward justice, please Lord.

Thanks for listening to my rambling,