Saturday, July 25, 2020

My world is blue

Hi everyone, and happy weekend! I hope you have had a good week. I have discovered this week that the ragweed has started blooming around here, which seems a bit early, but it is definitely blooming nonetheless. How do I know? Well, I could tell you about the massive headaches and swollen eyes, but that would just be a downer, so let's just say that I can feel it. And we're not quite to August yet, which means that I had better stock up on allergy meds. I do not think the first freeze is coming to kill those allergens any time soon!

Today's update is some blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at Angela's. This month's color was dark blue, which I have very little of, but I did manage to scrape together these actual scraps in a royal blue:

I think those turned out okay for someone who has very little in the way of darker blues! Though I don't use it in quilts very often, I actually wear a lot of royal blue, and I really like the color. And look-- my flowers are still alive, even though it's been incredibly hot here.  The marigolds I had on the table, I'm sorry to say, pretty much burned up in the heat, though.

If you recall, I chose a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter called Random Ohio Stars for my RSC project this year. Boy, was that lucky! These stars are super easy to make and go pretty fast, and they look great together.  The larger stars are 12 inches finished and the smaller ones are 6 inches, which are both simple sizes for these blocks. I think I'm going to be pretty happy with this quilt.

I also made two more "catch-up" stars this week:

These are the smaller stars in aqua. I guess I never made them when I made the bigger star, because I couldn't find the smaller ones anywhere, so I made a couple of them. If I end up with a couple of extras it won't be tragic, and I really like aqua, so they would fit right in.

With the blues and the two smaller aquas, I am now completely caught up on the colors for this quilt! Somebody make a note, because this is unlikely to happen again. It's probably the one thing in my life that hasn't been derailed by the virus that shall not be named.

I hope you're all having a good weekend! I'll leave you with this picture of a very cheerful daylily I found while out walking:

Not even wilted yet! Don't worry-- it's hotter than blazes outside, and very humid, but I've been walking really early in the morning when it's a little cooler (but not drier). Even then I'm drenched in sweat by the time I get home, but I do start the day with a good many steps!

Enjoy the day, friends, and I hope your allergies are the mild kind!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC2020.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A little rusty

Hi all, and happy heat dome! It's hotter than blazes here. We are okay, but I think we're locking ourselves down again voluntarily. Virus cases seem to be rising here and it's probably not a good time for us to be out. Also, it's supposed to be 100 degrees today, so I might as well be in the house. I'm pretty bummed about this, but at least this time there are some better survival strategies for us. And I'm not giving up curbside grocery pickup even when this over, just so you know. Or Target pickup, either! Although you have to go inside to buy toilet paper, which defeats the whole purpose of curbside pickup, doesn't it?

This weekend I finally got around to making the July blocks for the Color Challenge at Patterns by Jen.  This was challenging, all right, though the block was super easy to make.  The color for this month was rust. Rust? How would you describe that color? Some people have gone toward the oranges, but I think of rust as a red brown. Even if it was an orange brown, it would have been extra challenging this month. Why? Because I have none of those colors in my stash. None. I have a few browns, some happier reds, plenty of bright orange scraps, but no red browns or orange browns. Yeah... In the spirit of using things up, though, here's what I settled on:

It's a red that tends a little towards burgundy and is a much more muted shade than I would usually use. It also has polka dots, which makes it at least a bit festive. Not much like a robin, but definitely not a cardinal!

As I said, the block itself was quite easy and I think it is one of the nicer blocks that we've done this year.  I'm really looking forward to next month, which is pink. I could use some bright happy colors! A little while ago someone posted on Instagram about the "corona coaster--" some days you're up, some days you're down. I am definitely feeling that way! I'm trying to do something every day to keep my spirits up, even if it's just eating some really lovely peaches that we had this weekend.

The only other thing I've worked on so far this week is to pull out this old serger and get it running again:

I bought this at least 20 years ago, and it served me faithfully through many years of clothing and home decor sewing. I haven't used it in a long time, and it needs some cleaning, some oil, and some general tuning up. Fortunately, this generation of sergers (which are a nightmare to thread) are all mechanical and easy to rehab. If I let it sit overnight with some oil in the important parts, it should be just fine.

Why am I rehabbing the serger now? I need it to alter some clothes because folks, I have lost about 85 pounds. The quarantine has slowed me down some, but otherwise, I hope to be to 100 pounds down by my birthday in September. Maybe I'll post a picture. In the meantime, though, I'll need something to wear, because clothes that are too big are actually more uncomfortable than clothes that are too small. (Before you ask: I did this with the help of a great therapist, so I'm sorry that I can't offer you a magic bullet. It's taken about 15 months now, and every bit has been hard. But worth it!)

Hope everyone is having a good week! As usual, wash those hands and wear those masks! And since it's so hot, maybe get some ice cream or other cool things delivered, too. I read that even epidemiologists will get takeout, so I am seriously looking forward to more of that. I miss restaurants soooo much. . .

Sharing at Midweek Makers

Friday, July 17, 2020

Taking a wrong turn

Hi all! So, here we are in the middle of July. How do we feel about this? I feel like I lost about four months somewhere along the line, but at the same time I feel like the last couple of months have been as long as a couple of years. Anyone else feel the same way? On the upside, though, and as a direct effect of being cooped up for so long, I have discovered heirloom tomatoes, and now I never want to eat any other kind. This will undoubtedly make the squirrels quite happy, as I suspect they have their eyes on the tomatoes I'm growing on the patio. Is there anything fun that you've discovered during quarantine? Would I like it?

Well, here's one thing I really like, and one goal I've actually met (let's not talk about my other goals...) I finished off a quilt this week! Yay me!

I call this one Wrong Turns. See if you can guess why.  This is a smallish quilt that I made from re-purposed gigantic half-square triangles that I started for a mystery quilt from Alycia.  I didn't finish the mystery, but I did get to use the hsts in this comfort quilt.

I love the yellows in this quilt! I'm not sure that it comes through the best in these pictures, because it was pretty cloudy-- or maybe it was just haze from the heat-- but the yellows are quite cheery. I do love yellow in almost all its shades. Even my living room walls have a tint of yellow to them.  Anyway...I made this top a few months ago when I had a small tantrum in the sewing room, so I'm thrilled that it turned out okay.

Here's why I call this one Wrong Turns. See the stitching patterns there? I wanted to do a square spiral, and I wanted it to line up with the blue flying geese that are at the left and right edges of the quilt. So I started the spiral in the center of the quilt, like ya should, and it went fine until I realized that I was going the wrong way to get things to line up the way I wanted them to. So I just tied everything off and started going in the right direction on the next "round." Only it wasn't the right way! Instead of stopping again, I just went with it.  Altogether I'm pretty happy with the way that it turned out, even if it's "wrong."

For the backing I used a length of green polka dot, and to make it wide enough I used a strip of blue inserted off center.  The binding is from the binding basket, leftover from a quilt backing. I make bindings from the cutoffs from trimming the quilt after quilting, and it has saved my bacon more than once.

This quilt is destined for donation, though I'm not sure where. I had intended it to be for the Hands to Help challenge, but that ship has sailed. I imagine they would still take a donation, though, don't you? The whole time I was quilting it I was thinking of a teenage girl, and I can see it wrapped around a teenager, maybe while watching a movie. Kind of weird, I know, but sometimes I need to remember why I've got a quilt on my lap when it's 90 degrees outside.

So, there we are, a finished, happy quilt! I'm so glad to have this done and ready to go off somewhere. It makes me feel very virtuous, watching the number of tops in the closet dwindle.  Don't worry, though, there are plenty still there! I may feel very virtuous, but the tops in the closet would seem to say otherwise.

Hope everyone has a very good weekend. As I have met almost none of my home improvement goals, I'm planning to paint a bedroom this weekend. I understand that it's going to be something like 98 degrees, so a good time to stay in the air conditioning. There may be some ice cream if I finish the bedroom, so cross your fingers!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, Brag about your Beauties, and QPA on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hidden treasure

Hi everyone! Hope you're having a good day. Thanks so much for all the good wishes for my dad's birthday! It was quite festive in spite of it all, even though the Zoom call was complete chaos. Mute, people, mute! It was a fun kind of chaos, though, with the comparison of coronavirus beards (ugh) and even the newest great grandchild was awake for her debut appearance. Not a huge party, and not what we had planned, but fun nonetheless.

So, today I need some advice from all of you out there who are much better quilters than I am. It involves this amazing quilt:

I had a hard time getting a good picture of the whole thing because I didn't want to hang it up, but this is a finished and basted quilt top just waiting to be quilted up, and it's made up of embroidered squares in a 30s style.  The basted top measures about 56 by 72.  Where did I get this? It belongs to my sister in law, and she wants me to finish it for her.

Of course, the story is more interesting than that! My sister-in-law's mother died not long ago of complications of Alzheimer's disease, which she had suffered from for several years.  (No funeral because of the virus, too, which is just unspeakably cruel. We all understand, but gosh, that's bad.) Carol was dedicated to sewing of all types-- she did home decor, clothes, quilting, embroidery by machine, amd anything else that needed stitching. She made her daughters' wedding dresses, and all of the bridesmaid dresses, too, along with her own mother of the bride outfits. Most of Carol's sewing notions and such had already been distributed, but there are always a few things left, aren't there?

My sister-in-law is cleaning out everything else that's left so that the house can be sold, and she came across a bag with what she recognized as a layered and basted quilt. Since she doesn't sew, she didn't take it out of the bag, just put it in a box and sent it off (she also sent me some spare rulers and a small cutting mat, plus some old magazines and a book, too.)  She wanted to know if I could use it, or if there was anything there worth saving. When I got it , the quilt was folded with the backing facing out. Imagine my surprise when I pulled it out of the bag and unfolded it!

The embroidered squares are really quite nice, on a good quality muslin, and well worked. No visible knots!  The backing is pieced and has a floral "frame" around a piece of pink fabric. The pink matches the sashing, and the floral is the same as the border. Also in the bag? A nice long piece of the floral, cut 2-1/2 inches wide. This must be the binding! And machine embroidered right there on that pretty pink backing is this:

Which is how we discovered that this quilt was not made by her mother, but by her grandmother, or as a collaboration between them.  Her grandmother also died of Alzheimer's disease, not long after the date on the quilt backing. It has been in the bag and waiting ever since.

Obviously I'm going to finish this treasure for my sister in law, but I need to make a few decisions first. So, to the questions!

1. The quilt is securely basted (see those big stitches?), but the batting is a poly that feels like sandpaper. It's also coming apart on the edges:

Even though I hate to take out the basting, I think it would be best to use some new cotton batting, don't you?

2. Would you do anything to the embroidered squares before quilting? I have read about stabilizing them with a fusible interfacing, but should I do that? The muslin is a good quality and they look like they were finished yesterday.

3. How would you quilt this? Would you stitch on the muslin squares, or just on the sashing and borders?

4. Should I wash it after quilting? How?

5. Anything I haven't thought of that you have?

Okay, so I guess I have a new adventure to undertake! Good thing there's nothing else going on in my life, right? All of the hard work seems to be done, though. I'll just bring it across the finish line.

Thanks for any help you can give me, and I hope everyone is having a good week. Wash your hands and stay healthy, friends, and check some of those bags you have stashed. There might be hidden treasure you forgot about!

Sharing at Midweek Makers

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Mixed blues

Hi everyone, and happy Saturday!  I hope you're all doing well. Is is just absolutely sweltering near you? It is so incredibly warm here right now, and humid as all get out, and it looks like we're about to have . . .a tropical storm? What? Yeah, I don't know either. I just know it's slowing down my renovations yet again.

Today I just have a very short post to show this little bit of progress for the rainbow scrap challenge this year. This month's color is dark blue, and here's my progress so far:

A mixed blues basket! Much like the mixed greens, actually. Blue fabric and I are not good friends, so I made one basket to hold all the blue scraps.  I don't know why I don't use a lot of blue fabrics, really, because I don't have anything against blue. It's a perfectly lovely color! And I do have some blue yardage, I just don't use it very often.

This basket is made entirely from 2-1/2 inch squares, only 3 of which I had to cut to finish the basket. Really, only three. I pulled these out of my handy 2-1/2 inch squares bin, and I used all of the blues in there. Some of these are very old, but now they've been used up, and that is a happy fact indeed.

The quilting here is a simple crosshatch. It's boring, but efficient, and really easy. It only took something like 10 minutes to quilt this. The binding is also a leftover bit from the binding basket, and I'm thrilled that it got used up.

I was looking ahead to the other baskets I need to make, and I have the usual colors, but I also have a scrap bin full of miscellaneous fabrics:

You know, various dots, stripes, multicolors, brights on white, novelties. . .fabrics that really have no other home. I think I'm going to make a basket just for them as well, because homeless fabric is just sad, you know?

That's my update for now. Today is my father's 80th birthday. Yes, eight decades of awesome! In the before time, before the virus, we had planned a really big celebration for him, with family and friends, and all of us kids and grandkids showing up, even all of the great grandchildren. That is not happening now. We'll still get together, some of us over the Internet via various platforms, but it will not be the same. I'm a little sad about that, because if ever anyone deserved a celebration of life, it's my dad, but at least he will still know he's loved and appreciated. Perhaps we'll be able to have a blowout for 81? Let us pray.

Have a lovely, if warm, weekend everyone, with lots of happy moments and a stitch or two if possible. Hug your parents if you're able. Lots of people wish they could do that, especially right now. And don't forget to stay safe and healthy!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC20

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Still unpacking

Hi all! I feel like I have to ask how everyone is doing every time I speak to someone now, so-- how are you all doing? I am feeling better than I have since March. Not only have I been out a few times and seen some lovely friends and picked out my own produce for once, but all this time I've also been teaching a summer class, which is now done. Done! I turned in the grades today and I am so remarkably happy.  It's been a long haul, and now I get a (somewhat shorter) summer vacation. Except for the fact that a few weeks ago we cancelled our vacation because of this stupid virus, so. . .

I'm not letting that get me down, though. I have six weeks to work on things at my own pace, so of course the first thing I did was go down to the sewing room and start cleaning up. That place was a wreck. And how is it possible that I have not yet finished unpacking? I still have some things in boxes in the sewing room, so I started emptying those. I found some great stuff in there that I almost forgot about. Which of course distracted me from cleaning up, so, yep, still a wreck.

I found several small pieces that need quilting, including this one:

This is a free pieced version of Joan of Arc chapel at Marquette, which has a great deal of meaning to me. I made this a while ago and I can't believe I haven't quilted it yet. Clearly, I am behind.  So of course I pulled it out and pressed it and basted it right away. I am apparently sometimes good at leaving myself notes, because I had a quilting plan sketched out and stored with the top. Yay me! I'll be working on this very carefully over the next couple of weeks. Now that I've found it, I really want to finish it and hang it up.

I also found the other free-pieced churches that I've made, but that's a post for another time. . .

Also basted was this little piece, which strikes me as quite cheerful:

He never got quilted, either, but-- wonder of wonders-- there were also quilting notes with him. So that's really my next quilting project. It's a small enough piece that I can finish it off myself, maybe even with some free motion quilting? I'll never know until I try!

Speaking of quilting. . .I had lunch this week with a very nice person named Lisa who not only made me a great mask (and later sent me instructions to make my own), but also clued me in to a place not far from here to rent time on a long arm. I had tried to do this before we moved, but that got cancelled and I never rescheduled. So you can be sure I'll be trying that out as soon as I can! (Thanks Lisa!)

The only other things that I've done this week is start on some RSC projects:

Dark blue is the color of the month, and these scraps are destined to become a blue scrap basket. Blue is not my color, and I don't have a lot of it, so I hope I can eke out enough blue scraps for the basket.

Not very interesting, but that's what's going on around here! For those of you who are alarmed, I am still mostly staying at home, and when I'm out I am definitely following all the social distancing protocols, including masks and lots of hand sanitizer. Lisa and I had lunch outside, even though it was in the 90s, and it was warm but lovely. We haven't beaten this virus, and my heart goes out to those of you who live in areas where it's exploding. Please, please do what you can to keep yourself and your neighbors safe. We've lost enough people!

Sharing at Midweek Makers

Friday, July 3, 2020

The big orange quilt

Hi everyone! How are things at your house these days? Have you been venturing out? Here in Maryland, we've done a decent job of keeping the virus in check, and our numbers are pretty good, so I've felt safe enough to go to a couple of places this week. Don't worry, I always have a mask and hand sanitizer, and I have a semi secret stash of Clorox wipes in my car, too. But I went to a farmer's market, and I had lunch-- in person!-- with a good friend. It meant so much to me to see her that I may have dropped a few tears as I was driving away. I have really missed seeing actual humans that are not on a screen.

After lunch, I came home and confronted a problem I've been having: the quilt I'm supposed to be making for my nephew. A long time ago, I started a quilt for him, using a free pattern from Kevin the Quilter. The ones that I've seen online turned out great, so I had high hopes. Alas, it was not to be! Sorry, Kevin, but I just couldn't face one more 4-patch. Time to turn to a different pattern altogether:

Yes, I grabbed all the pieces of orange and gray (his choice!) that I hadn't cut into 4-patches yet, and used them to make Elvira, which was a quarantine quilt along pattern by Gudrun Erla. If you look closely, you can see that I also used up some of the 4-patches that weren't stitched together yet. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get rid of all that ornage.

Because I was determined to use those 4-patches, I had to adjust the widths of the strips, which turned out okay because my nephew is a very large man and needs a very large quilt. He's going to get his wish, because this quilt top is about 64 by 84. This will make a nice lap quilt for him, don't you think?

I call this quilt "Big Orange" because, really, what else could you call it? If you have very sharp eyes, you will notice what I did when I ran out of big enough orange pieces to finish making the B blocks from the pattern, but just looking at it, I can't really tell that there is any issue. I don't think my nephew will notice, do you?

I've ordered some batting, and will baste this quilt as soon as that gets here. I've got a wide back gray polka dot for the backing, and I'm really hoping it doesn't give me any trouble. This is a bigger top than I'm usually comfortable with doing on my own, but I've got a plan, and I think if I baste it well enough it will work out okay. I'm not sure I have orange thread to quilt it with, though, so I should definitely check on that!

I only have these three pictures of the quilt top because it's so big that I can't get a picture of the whole thing. I've really got to get some landscape areas where I can hang big quilts. As it is, I'll have to have my nephew hold it up when it's finished. I do have one more orange-ish picture, though:

Aren't those flowers pretty? I do really love flowers, but i'm still learning about what will grow here. This is a daylily that kind of showed up here by surprise, and I like it! I think it can stay, but it might have to move to a slightly different spot this fall. For now, though, it's pretty cheerful where it is.

Hope you all have a happy Independence Day in these strange, party-free times, and keep on being careful and staying healthy. Potato salad is quite tasty on your own porch, too!

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