Saturday, August 29, 2020

One block, two blocks

 Hello everyone! Well, the first week of school is in the books, and it went pretty well, if I do say so myself. The students seem pretty much up for Zooming, and they actually showed up for class, so it's looking good so far. This is a huge relief, and I feel so much better now that the first week is behind me. The planning takes a long time, but it certainly pays off. My only trouble right now is getting library materials, but they are reopening on Monday, so that may just work itself out as well. Yahoo!

This week I got started on the Phoenix quilt, which turns out to be the best therapy ever. I know that Saturday is the day for posting for the Rainbow Scrap Chellenge, but I made no RSC progress and we're kind of living in a topsy-turvy world right now, and I want to show my blocks, so why not?  Here are the first two that I made:

Those look a little wrinkled, but aren't they pretty? And they did get a little damp, too, because you can tell that it was just finished raining, but they pressed dry just fine.This pattern is by Sharon Holland, and you can get the pattern HERE. Like I said, it's a really therapeutic pattern to stitch up when you are very stressed. Once you're done with the cutting and counting, it's pretty much autopilot, which is exactly what I needed.


I spent a nice couple of hours over a few evenings cutting everything, then another couple matching things up and marking and whatnot. This was remarkably peaceful. So I have everything cut, but I've only stitched these two. Somehow it worked best for me to make two at a time, so that there was never a time when I had to cut the threads. Yeah, it's the little things.


In other news, they made real progress on our renovation this week. Construction is so strange. When I have something to do around the house, I want to get in and get it done, but here they'll work for a few hours, then leave, then some other people come, then we wait several days for the electrician, who looks at things and leaves, then someone else comes. It's all strange, but the work is outside, so it's not bothering us too much yet. If it were inside we'd be climbing the walls, but it's outside for now, so it's okay. Loud at times, but okay.

I did one other good thing this week, besides teach a bunch of classes, and that was this:


I bought a second iron! Is it weird that it makes me really happy? I now have one at the big ironing board and one next to the sewing machine. It only cost about ten dollars, but I dithered over it for far too long. Here's the best part: I had both of them on, plus the sewing machine, AND the TV, and the power was just fine. It was amazing and felt miraculous. Like I said, it's the little things!

I hope you all are having a good weekend! I plan to rest my brain and clean the sewing machines, then maybe baste something else. I unexpectedly have some extra batting, so I'd better put it to good use!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Stress planning

 Hi everyone! How are you today? The last couple of days we've been having amazing weather, so much so that I've managed to get several miles worth of walking in. I even considered wearing sleeves one morning because it was a bit on the chilly side, relatively speaking, when I started out. I warmed up plenty, don't worry. But it's been just a lovely late summer these last few days, which feels fantastic. We even ate outside last night! And they made progress on our renovation! Happy spots in the midst of this weird year.

Do you all make careful quilty plans for what you want to accomplish in the sewing room? I have not been doing so, because who knows how I'm going to feel or what I'm going to feel like making? We started back to school this week, though, on the meeting end of things, at least, and the stress level is already pretty high for me. Going remote was absolutely the best decision, but I know that I'll have a high stress level for the rest of the year.  With that in mind, I've planned three projects to keep me busy this fall.

I had thought that I would keep working on my closet full of UFOs, but it turns out that's even more stressful. So many little pieces! I love complicated piecing, but it's just not going to work for me, and I'm definitely not looking to make up my own designs right now, either.  With that in mind, I looked for patterns that had bigger pieces and easy piecing. Easy to push through the machine and not think very much, and easy to fix if I mess up. Totally not what I usually do! But I think these will look good: 

First is this pile of pretty fabrics:


I'm going to use these to make Sharron Holland's Phoenix pattern, which you can get HERE. A lot of pieces, but all of them big and easy to construct. And look how cute it turns out! This is the first one I'm going to tackle, I think. 

Next, I've been planning to make a quilt for our bed for quite some time. I may have shown you this before, but I'm planning to make this pattern:


Big pieces, easy strip piecing, and it will look terrific in these fabrics:

It looks like a pile of laundry, but I promise that they are really pretty in person! I want this one to look like beach glass, in various shades of aquas with a sandstone background. I've been collecting the aqua batiks, and I got some from friends, too. I definitely need a few more of the greener aquas, but otherwise I think this will be ready to start once I press all those pieces. 

In preparation for the quilt above, I bought a bunch of fabrics which were advertised as aquas and teals but turned out to be mostly blue. What a disappointment, because I don't use much blue. I pulled out the aquas that I could use, but what to do with the leftover blues?


Pair them up with some yellow scraps, of course! I'm thinking of making the pattern that's shown with them, another Busy Hands Quilts pattern. I'm less sure about this one, though, so I'm thinking I'll leave it for last. That's if I make it through the others, of course.

So, not usually a sewing room planner, but just for now having a plan is making me feel better. I still have several quilt tops to quilt up, too, so I can always work on those if I feel like it. I honestly have no idea how this semester will turn out, but so far, it's looking to be a lot like last spring. Here's one thing about teaching remotely-- it's exhausting! Much harder to be on camera than to teach in a classroom. Here's hoping these plans will keep me sane and unstressed. 

Hope you all are having a good week! Hope your fabrics are happy ones, and that your projects are turning out well. And that your stress is manageable, too!

Sharing at Midweek Makers.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Small distractions

 Hi everyone! I hope you're all doing well today. Still hot and rainy here, so, you know, looking to start growing mushrooms on my north side any time now. Unbelievably, this weekend is our one-year anniversary in Baltimore. For some reason, this feels really momentous. Maybe it's the heat. Or the quarantine. Who could have known what the last year would bring? 

This week I needed some distractions from everything that's going on, but I just didn't have the mental energy to work on anything important. Do you ever feel that way? You want to sew, but you don't know what to make; you need to look at and feel some fabric, but it just feels like too much to cut it and think about what to do with it.  That was me all week.

So I dove into the "parts and pieces" bin and also a small stack of precuts, and I came up with these two small pieces:


Not a great picture! I told you that it's been raining and the light is all weird. I hope you can see anyway that these are two small tops, one a table topper and the other a baby quilt top bound for donation.

Let's talk about the pretty yellow one first:


Should have pressed better, but I was racing the weather. (UPDATED with a better picture. The rare time when indoors is better.) All of the pieces in the center were already made and were leftover from one of my very favorite quilts, from a fabric line called Portugal by April Cornell. See that yellow in the center? I loved that fabric so much. Still do! Most fabrics you fall out of love with because they look dated or you just get sick of them, but this one is enduring, at least to me.


I didn't want to think, so I just pushed these hsts through the machine and made six small Broken Dishes blocks, then put them together to make a pile of Broken Dishes. I didn't have any yardage, just the hsts and some crumbs, but I think the yellow and the green work out okay. This will be a table topper for use around the house after I quilt it up.

And if you want to talk about pushing things through the machine, there's this little baby quilt:


This quilt is just 36 by 36 and is destined to be a quilt for Jack's Basket. It was made from some charm squares that I got as a part of some fabric that I bought from Busy Hands Quilts when she was de-stashing. I usually dislike precuts--and don't get me wrong, I still do-- but these were super simple to push through the machine, first in pairs, then into rows and then into a big square. Calming as long as I didn't think too much about it, and I really didn't. My only concern was that none of the same fabrics end up next to each other. It only happened once in this top, and even then I didn't care. That never happens!


Unbelievably, this used up all but one of the charm squares! This is great, because who knew what else I would have done with them? Sadly, I don't know the name of the fabric line, but it's a bit old, and it has these great bees on a grayish-blue background. Since I had the yellow out from the table topper, I used that for the inner border, and a pale blue for the outer border. Overall I think it's a soft little quilt for a tiny person, and I'm happy with how it turned out (even if the pictures make it look really bad. It needs pressing, I know.)

Those were my "big" stress-busting finishes for this week! Sometimes the fabric stress busting works, sometimes it doesn't. This time it did make me feel a bit better. And so did this:


We haven't had a deer with antlers before, and I don't know where he came from. The part that you can't see is that in the grass behind him is a red fox, which never came into the clearing but could be seen now and then just the same. Maybe I really *am* a Disney princess. . .  

Have a good weekend everyone!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Purple daze

 Hello everyone! I hope you're all having a good day. It's hot and rainy again today, and I'm getting a little tired of it. One of my brothers lives in California and my mom used to say that it was "boring" there because the weather was the same every day. I don't think I would be bored by sunshine every day, but the heat and rain is getting a little tiresome. I couldn't go walking this morning because it was 73 degrees at 6:30 am, with 94% humidity, and it was just too much. I got about 100 feet before I decided that yoga would be nice for today. Good decision, I must say!

So, now that I've complained about the rain, of course my first picture has to have sunshine in it! Here are my purple Ohio Stars for the RSC this month:


These are pretty! I have mountains of purple scraps, and I love them all. Probably why I still have so many of them. (Why do the pictures look so weird? Get it together, Blogger!)

The larger star doesn't show up there too well, but it is one of my cherished scraps.You have those, too, right? Pieces that are just so good that you have to save them for the right project. I kept putting this one aside on project after project because it was just too nice to use up.


I think I finally found the right project for that pretty paisley! I can't say why exactly I like this fabric so much, but it's been here for a while waiting for a project. I still have a small piece left for another special project, too (and no, it's not big enough to make a mask!)

And speaking of waiting. . .it's time to finish this purple project:


If you think you've seen this before, well, it's been hanging exactly here on the design wall all summer. Longer than that, really. It is past time to get it out of there and finished off. I have no excuses except that I'm tired of looking at it and it just doesn't excite me. I have all the pieces and the rest of the blocks, but I just don't want to do it. But I need to, because putting it back in the box feels like failure, and I need to get rid of it. I'm definitely going to need you to cheer me on for this one. Let's make that a goal for the end of August, okay?

That's my update from the sewing room! As far as the rest of life goes. . .my university finally announced that we will be all remote teaching again for the fall semester. I don't know how to feel about this. I'm relieved, and tired, and anxious, and everything else, all at once. I hate teaching through the camera. It's so limiting, and there is so much you can't do in classes. At least I don't have to worry that I will make a student sick, or that a student will give me the virus to pass on to my husband (who is immune compromised) or anyone else. But I do have to rewrite all my classes again! A small price to pay, right? But I do miss my students, and collegaues, and my books and my office. We'll all get it back someday, but right now it feels a lot like loss.

Sigh. I don't know, but I do hope everyone is having a good week and staying nice and healthy! Sew a mask if you must, and wash those hands!

Sharing at Angela's for RSC20.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Colorful summer finish

Hello everyone, and welcome to another summer weekend! Summer has certainly gotten away from me. It's no different from the rest of this year, really, just warmer. 2020 gets zero stars and a big thumbs down from me so far. How about you?

For today's quilty update, please join me in my happy dance, because I finished the quilt top I've been working on:

Yahoo! I am so happy to have this finished. If you recall, I pulled this long-term UFO out of the closet a few weeks ago and have been working on it ever since. Slowly, I admit, but working on it just the same!

I started this quilt in 2015 or so, when I made most of the blocks. This was a BOM from the Quilt Connection, but I bought the whole kit at once at a rummage sale for a ridiculous price, something like $50. I remember asking if everything was there, and the woman told me yes, but she just didn't feel like making something with so many pieces. I think we both felt that we got the best end of that deal.

The pattern is called Kaleidoscope of Kolor by Thea Jirak.  I looked for a copy of the pattern online, but didn't find any for sale. Not a surprise, since the kit was marked 2008. There was a *ton* of fabric in the kit, and all of it is Shadow Play by Maywood Studios. It really is a lovely fabric line, and they worked together so well in this quilt top. I had my doubts about "random" color placement, but it seems to have worked out!

The pattern instructions were quite odd in some places, but I managed to work around most of them. And I want major points, because this quilt was made on different machines at different times and the blocks and whatnot still fit together just great. The one thing that I've not done that was in the pattern was the 10-inch borders. Yes, 10 inches! I put a much narrower border around the quilt, mostly just to keep all those seams from popping open. There were also appliques in the pattern, and I made some of them, but I don't think they add to the quilt, and I've left them off. Maybe I'll put them in something else.

Unbelievably, this quilt top has a backing and is in a box ready to go off to a longarmer! I am keeping this one for myself and putting it on the bed in my guest room. Not that there will be any guests for a while, but I will enjoy looking at it every time I walk by the room, and isn't that reason enough to keep it?

Hope you are all doing well and staying sane in the midst of the really weird time we're living through. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Crumbs and strings and other things

Hello all! Every time I log in to Blogger, something in it has changed. Anyone else notice this? I still want the spellcheck button back, and the save button needs to be better, but overall I'm getting used to it.  How about you?

Life here continues to be quite hectic. There are people working here, and sometimes there are very loud noises. And there is apparently going to be quite a lot of weather. If you're reading this on Tuesday, then chances are it's raining really hard here, with lots of wind. This is still pretty new to us, and a kind neighbor gave us some advice about battening down our hatches, so we've removed the hanging plants, stacked the chairs on the deck and bungeed them to the railing, and moved things that could blow around. I'm a little worried about the wind because we have so many trees, but I have strong hopes that it will all be okay.

I have been planning my classes for the next semester, which unbelievably starts in three weeks, and I've been working on finishing one of the unfinished tops I pulled out earlier this summer. I've been slowed down by the flying geese, but I am very, very close. So close that I've started thinking about what to do with the scraps. Here's one thing I'm doing:

String blocks! I have tons of strings and crumbs in these fabrics, so I'm making both into blocks. The fabrics from this quilt go together so nicely that it seems a shame to just mix them all together with other fabrics. And I really don't want to create more scraps that will just sit there. They never go away, do they? So much better to make some blocks and figure out a way to use the scraps up.

As I said, I'm very close to finishing this:

Those are all the quilt parts, just ready to add to the already-finished center. But first, I have to finish those annoying flying geese!  Nothing fits until they're finished.

Once you learn an easier way to do something, it's hard to go back to the old way. It's like washing dishes once you have a dishwasher, or sawing wood by hand instead of using a circular saw. Which is the long way of saying that all of these need to be trimmed:

Trimming these is such a chore! I know I could be more careful and make it easier on myself, but that seems counter-productive because I'll have to measure them anyway. After these geese are trimmed, I'll need 14 more, and then the whole thing should go together really fast.  I have high hopes of having this done by the end of the week, so cross your fingers!

The only other thing I've sewn lately has been more (expletive deleted) masks:

My sister also works at a university, and she needs masks for going back and interacting with students.  I also made a few more for myself using directions that Lisa gave me, and they turned out great, but my sister wanted this kind. I figure that I'll need two per class day, because I expect them to get damp during class, so I plan to have a total of 10 of them just for school. The school is providing us with some stretchy knit masks, but honestly, I don't trust those ones. Too thin, and they cling to my mouth. I feel safer with mine, and the way Lisa makes them mean they have more "talking space," if that makes any sense.

This whole mask thing makes me crazy, and I'm feeling the "corona coaster" heading downward again, so let me just show you this:

Look at those talons! This is a picture my daughter took of one of a pair of birds that keeps visiting her deck. Turns out they are juvenile Cooper's Hawks, which might be my favorite bird. And now my tiny granddaughter can say "hawk!" Do you think we might have a new birder on our hands?

Anyway, I'll be working on finishing that quilt, at least until the power goes out from the storm, and I seriously plan to get it done this week. I hope that all of you who are also in the path of the storm stay safe and that it just kind of passes over everyone without too much damage. Or at least that the power stays on!

Sharing at Midweek Makers and Quilting is More Fun than Housework.