Friday, May 14, 2021

Violettes fini

 Hi everyone! By the time you read this, I should be happy dancing all around the house, because I should have finished all of the research papers I have to read and the worst semester ever will have come to an end. Yahoo! I don't know why spring was so much worse than the fall, but I think canceling Spring Break had a lot to do with it. Let's never do that again, okay?

Speaking of things never to do again. . .okay, that was meant to be funny, but maybe not too funny, because I have finally finished a quilt top from 2017. This particular top had approximately a billion pieces, (that's only a small exaggeration!) and for some reason I grew to dislike it intensely. The blocks have been hanging on the design wall since I put the design wall up, and I finally got so sick of them (with a little prodding from Preeti) that I finished the top. Here she is:

For some reason, the shade and light make this look blue, but I swear that it's purples and lavenders! Perceptive readers will notice that this looks familiar, like a pattern or something. That's because it began life as one of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts, En Provence. (You can get the digital pattern for that quilt right HERE.) I started it with enthusiasm, but then lost interest around the 80 millionth piece. I guess I have no stamina. It's been waiting to be finished ever since.
 
 
In the interest of finishing this into something usable, and of using up as many of the pieces I had already made as possible, I finished half of the blocks, eliminated the alternate blocks, and pieced a sashing to bring it together into some kind of a design. I actually think it turned out okay! Of course, I have approximately 50 million pieces left over, but most of them are purple 4-patches, and I'm sure I'll think of something to do with those eventually.
 

 For those of you who have not made a "Bonnie" quilt, she is a genius at using all kinds of little pieces to make complicated designs. I also love complex blocks, but the plethora of scrap pieces required and the sheer anount of work involved with this quilt just overwhelmed me. Also, I don't have nearly a big enough stash to get a real variety, and I really dislike matching all of those seams! 
 

I've decided to call my version Violettes, French for violets, because the purples and greens certainly bring those pretty flowers to mind. Now that it's pieced, I am planning to quilt it up myself. I want to try using the walking foot to make Baptist fans, and I think this is the perfect quilt for it. It's so busy that the piecing will hide any mistakes. I need to find a nice plain neutral for the backing because the top itself is so busy. Pretty sure I have something like that around here somewhere. . .
 
 
Sighhh. I'm so relieved and happy that this is finished, that the semester is finished, and that we have some pretty spring flowers like those above (another azalea growing loose on the property) that I just might find a minute or two to relax. I'm not really sure I remember what that feels like!
 

Hope you all have a relaxing weekend! If anyone needs me, I'll be on the sofa, staring at the TV and letting my brain reboot. I think there's a few shows that should help with that. (Bridgerton, anyone?) Right after I finish this happy dance!

Updated to add that I'm sharing this at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and Michelle's Beauties Pageant. Thanks to all the hosts!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Color chains

 Hi everyone! The wind is about to blow me off my chair today. How about you? Holy cow, the wind is really strong out there. On the upside, the temperature got over 80 degrees one day this week, but then it fell back to a more normal temperature. I can feel the summer coming on already, can't you?

Today I am showing off my new RSC project. I know what you're thinking-- do you really *need* a new project, Mari? Well, yes, yes I do! I have sooo many scraps. Sometimes they make me tense because they seem like a mountain to climb, so I needed another project to use up a few more of them. I landed on this one because it's easy, it's fast, it uses a good size scrap, and I think it will look great all put together. Here is the block I chose:

Some of you may recognize this as a variation on a block from the Squared Away sewalong that Angela and I did in 2018. (Was it really that long ago? Wow.)  I love almost all the blocks in that sampler, and I've been meaning to make some quilts using them, so here's my opportunity. 

 

These blocks are very easy to make, so it didn't take long for me to catch up on the colors. I even managed to make one red one yesterday after work:

 

 

I've decided to call this the Color Chain project, and I plan to make three blocks each month for a total of 30 blocks, which will give me a lot of flexibility with the layout at the end. These are 10-inch blocks, so any way that I set them the final quilt will end up a decent size. 

 So there we are, a new project! Yesterday when I went outside to take pictures, I startled these three, who just stood there and looked at me accusingly. 

I went back inside pretty fast, though, because the blocks blew all over everywhere and I couldn't get any decent pictures. I'll bet they think they chased me off! I don't know why we have so many deer around this year. We have seen so many, but they usually hang out a few miles away, where it's much more wooded. I wonder what has chased them this way?

Anyway, I hope you all are having a lovely weekend and making lots of stitching progress. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

More repurposing, plus a small giveaway

 Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a really good week. For me, we are barreling towards the end of the semester, and it cannot come soon enough. I can't wait to delete Zoom. And now that I've said that, you know it's never going to happen, right?

These past couple of months when I was too stressed to stitch, I still spent some time in the sewing room, sorting and deciding what to do with projects that I had started and not finished. Some will get finished, but others have been repurposed. (Like this one HERE.) I've pulled out some English paper piecing projects that are not going to be finished and I'm repurposing them into other things. Here is one of them:

 

I've shown these big hexies before, but I've never really figured out what to do with them. Thanks to ideas from a couple of quilty friends, I've decided to make these into a runner for a narrow table. And I'm only stitching it once, because this is already layered and basted, with the hexies pinned in place. If I stitch right over them, I'll secure the hexies and quilt it all at the same time. Works for me! 

This works for me so well that I decided to do the same thing with the bouquets that I also made using English paper piecing:

 

These turned out just lovely by themselves, but they're not going to be a big quilt, so I decided to quit while I was ahead and applique them onto this vintagey-looking print. This will make a nice table topper or something, and heaven knows we have enough tables. I'm still pulling out the papers from the back of the bouquets and pinning them down. These are taking a *lot* of pins so that they don't slide around. I'm actually considering some spots of glue. We'll see how frustrated I get.

 

And then there are these lovelies, which I haven't decided how to use yet:

 

I'm sure these will get a similar treatment. Do you think I could just applique the whole thing down to a larger piece? Or would I have more success appliqueing just the edges? 

All of these projects, while lovely, have convinced me that English paper piecing is not for me. I enjoy making the individual hexies, but putting them all together feels like a chore. If you don't feel that way, have I got a deal for you! I've decided to give away the unopened EPP papers that I have, in various sizes:

 

All of these are really nice papers, but they aren't doing anyone any good sitting there in a project box with no project ever coming. If you are a person who does EPP and enjoys it and could make good use of these papers, leave a comment below and I will use the random number generator thingy on Monday morning (May 3, if you can believe it!) to choose someone at random to receive these packages. Then I will pack them up and send them to you absolutely free of charge. A win for me because I don't have to store them any more (or feel guilty about them), and a win for you because now you'll have a new project or two! Hurray! (This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Carol in Canada!)

So that's what's happening around here! I'm hoping to have another finish by the end of the week, but it just might be my class instead of a quilt, because I am so ready to be done, and the students are, too. Until then, enjoy this picture of another scraggly azalea that bloomed in the backyard. I guess the deer haven't been snacking on these!

 Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Still behind, but catching up

 Hello everyone, and happy weekend! It seems to me that these weekends are coming closer together than they used to, though this was a long week. I think that means that we're heading towards summer. Seems like it has been a long time coming, doesn't it?
 
In my few spare moments this week (ha, ha!) I finally started getting caught up on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for this year. I have done very little for it since January, when the color was pink. I know, you thought I gave up! I had my doubts, too, but I'm no quitter, so now I need to catch up on the colors I have missed. I started with the current color, lighter blue:
 
 
Okay, they look a little green because of the light, but they really are blue. These are the blocks that I am making for Sharon Holland's Saguaro quilt pattern. These are really easy, with big pieces, and however many blocks I end up with is what will determine the size of the finished quilt. Fun fact: this is the last picture we'll have of that tree, because it's getting cut down this coming week. Turns out it's almost hollow!
 
I also got started on some yellow blocks:
 
 
These blocks are fantastic for those prints you just don't know what to do with. I have a couple more of those in the scrap bin, so there will be a couple more yellow blocks. I really do love yellow. I think that bush that the blocks are hanging on is a really overgrown azalea. There are a couple in the back of the yard (which hasn't been taken care of in decades), and they surprised me by flowering this spring. I almost never go back there, so when I saw the flowers, it really was a surprise. I would swear they flowered this past fall, too.

Just because I was outside, where it was semi-windy but also quite nice temperature-wise, I also pulled out the pink blocks and took a progress picture:
 
 
Not too bad for someone who hasn't worked on these very much since January! I think I need to make another pink as well as a couple more of the yellows. I'm not sure what to do about green, because I want all of the "leaves" to be green. I think I'll be able to find some lighter greens, but not the darks. I think I can fill in with other colors pretty well, though.

I've also sorted out and cut some of the little bitty squares for the 16-patches for the other RSC project, but no pictures there yet. Every year the projects look a little anemic until we're a few months in, and every time I add another little block to the box they start to feel a little more like a project and I can start to imagine the finished quilt. I'm almost to that point with both of these quilts, which makes it all just a bit more fun.
 
 
One more picture of those pretty red flowers to wind up this post. I suspect this will also be the last time we see this one, because it really is a jungle back there. Sooner or later I'm going to be tired of it and break out the saws and start clearing. Not this weekend, though! 

Have a good weekend!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC21.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Some of this and some of that

 Hi everyone! How are you all doing today? I am happy to say that this past weekend was one of the best weekends ever, as we got to go to visit our Wisconsin grandchildren for the first time in 15 months, and to meet our smallest granddaughter for the first time ever. I'm happy to say that Giggles is just the happiest child, and is so cheerful that it's contagious. It was glorious, and so long awaited. I think my heart grew several sizes. Also, restaurants are now called "the french fry store," which is what the 3-year-old calls them. Guess what her favorite food is?

After that, how can anything else compare? It can't, but I've got a few irons in the fire-- or in the sewing room-- right now, and I'm making some progress. I've got one machine set up with the walking foot and am really trying to power through some more donation quilts. It's going okay, mainly because I'm sticking with plain straight stitching. It isn't fancy, but it gets the job done.

 
And on the other machine, I'm making some dolls today:
 
 
This is a panel by Stacey Iest Hsu and it is just darling. The dolls themselves are very easy to make, just stitch around the edges and stuff with fiberfill. The hardest part is the cutting. And look-- they even come with some tiny pets:
 
 
I need to get these finished up, because my local tiny granddaughter is finally coming over, on Mother's Day. By then her parents will be all vaccinated and ready to re-enter life. I can't wait to hug her too, and I'm in a hurry to get "her room" ready. Too bad that darned job keeps getting in my way! (There's only 25 days to go in the semester, not that I am counting or anything.)

I've also started cutting these half-hexies for another donation quilt:
 

I think it's going to be quite lovely, and it's also the first time I've really appreciated how fast the Accuquilt can cut shapes. I'd been using it to cut some scraps into squares to add to the bins, but I think this summer I'll have to explore using it a lot more. For now, it's going to make quick work of cutting this donation quilt, so maybe I can have it finished by June.

One other thing that I'm working on is what to do with these little crocheted circles:
 
 
There are about 50 of these, and they were all made by my grandmother in the last months of her life. She had had a stroke and couldn't sew any more, but a lifetime of needle work meant that she needed something to do with her hands, so she just kept making these over and over. She didn't really know who we were, but she certainly remembered how to do this.
 
I had thought that I would applique these to different-colored solid squares and join them into some kind of a quilt top. When I started putting the colored squares on the design wall, they looked awful. No matter what colors I used, I didn't like them. Then I thought about just hand-stitching the circles together for a kind of free-form blanket of sorts, but I don't know how that would work, really.
 
 
My current idea is to make type of whole cloth quilt using one solid color and then applique the circles onto it. Maybe I could quilt a crosshatch and then applique a circle in each square? I'm not sure how that would work, either, but I'm kind of stuck. Anyone have a better idea? 

So, that's what's happening around here. some of this and some of that. Plus a lot of zigzagging batting together, but that's a boring story. At least it gets used! I'm sure many of you have heard about the email issue with blogs and the widget that emails posts to you going away, but I haven't had time to look into it yet.. I'm sure there's a workaround somewhere, but I just haven't had any time for research. We'll see what happens.In the meantime, let me know if you know anything!

Hope you're all having a good week with long-postponed happy small gatherings and hugs. And if not, they're coming soon! I have high hopes for a semi-normal summer. Another thing to wait and see!

Sharing at Midweek Makers.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Two babes in the woods

Hi everyone! It's yet another weekend, and it feels like spring on a regular basis now. We've also had some spring storms, so I guess next month there will be an abundance of flowers, right? It just happens that this week we got new gutters with leaf-resistant covers on them, which seems like it's just in time because our trees are just leafing out now. If past springs are any guide, one morning next week I'll get up and all the leaves will have filled in. And then I will do my happy dance, right there in my nightgown.

This week I finished off the quilting on two baby quilts, and I bound them, too! Here are the lovely babes in what passes for woods around my house:
 
 
Okay, some odd shadows, but you can still tell that these are joyful and happy little quilts, right?
 
 
I made these tops a while ago, but, as we all know, they had to age a bit before they got finished. I think I made the bees quilt top last year, using some precut squares that were included in a bunch of scrap fabrics that I got from a destash. I usually dislike precuts, but as I recall, this was a quick top I made for my own mental health. 
 


The bees were quilted in a fast and cuddly crosshatch, fast becoming my favorite quilting finish. It fit the quilt perfectly and was very easy. Hurray for the walking foot! I know I could do more with it, but sometimes it's a choice between "finish simply" or "continue hanging in the closet," and I chose to finish it. I think that was the best choice!

 
The top of the very fun bears quilt was made a long time ago, I think when we lived in Delaware. The blocks were left over from a block of the month quilt from a long time ago, back when I used to do BOMs. Ironically, this past year has reminded me why I used to like those programs-- no thinking or planning, just stitching. With this BOM, I think it was more of a mystery, or at least the layout was, and I remember not liking the final layout, so most of the blocks got repurposed into something else. These four were left over, and eventually became a small quilt top.
 
 
The bears are quilted in an uneven plaid-type grid, with a modified scallop stitch. I'm not super-thrilled with it, because it turned out a lot different than I imagined, but it holds the layers together and will still be cuddly and hold up to a child. And aren't the bears adorable?

 
Both of these quilts are bound for Jack's Basket, which isn't a participant in Sarah's Hands to Help Challenge this year, but I think they'll count anyway. Both of these are just about 36 by 36, which is the size that Jack's Basket requests for their baskets, and I love the whole idea behind the organization, so off they go. I guess I'll have to make another one for one of the Hands to Help organizations, won't I? Gosh, that will be such a trial, won't it? 

 
So, there we are, two new quilts for two new babies, quilted up and out of the closet. I haven't sealed up the box yet, so there may be one more going in there in the next few weeks. We'll see how it all works out. 
 
Hope you all have a lovely weekend! We are doing something really special this weekend, but I'll have to tell you all about that next week. Trust me, it's fantastic!

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

Friday, April 9, 2021

Brown bear walks to Grandma's

 Hello everyone, and happy spring! We are in full bloom here, and the weather has been really nice. It feels so great! Of course, it also feels kind of sneezy and scratchy, but who even cares? It's like waking up from a very, very long sleep. I have been sewing quite a bit lately, so you know I'm feeling quite a bit better. I think getting the vaccine helped me a lot, and so does the sunshine. Not to mention that this nightmare semester is almost over! Pandemic teaching has been the worst, but at last we are coming to the end. Hurray for that!

I have yet another small quilt top to show off today. I actually already basted it and it's ready for quilting up, but this top has to wait its turn in line. Here's this fun top:

 

If you have children, or know any children, you might recognize Brown Bear of Eric Carle fame and the book of the same name. Long ago (the selvage says 2008) I started collecting kits and fabrics and putting them aside in what I called a "grandma box." In case I ever had grandchildren, you know. A couple of years ago I pulled out this kit and found a poorly-cut panel:

 

Yeah. Always check as soon as your fabric arrives! Or check it in the store before you purchase a kit of any kind. Once I saw this, I took the kit apart and have used some of the fabrics for other things. I kept the panel in case I had another idea, but it just made me upset so I didn't do anything with it.

And then my almost-youngest granddaughter fell in love with the Brown Bear book and pretty much memorized it. What's a grandma to do but find a way to make it work? So, of course, I did, and I'm pretty happy with the results.

 I can't wait to quilt this one up, because it's going to live here at Grandma's house. With all of us having gotten vaccines, I expect that my granddaughter will actually get to visit again pretty soon, and it just makes me happy to think about having this one ready so she can tell me all about Brown Bear. That's some pretty strong incentive to quilt up the others ahead of it in line, too!
 
 
Before I made this quilt top, I also completed another project-- a new ironing board! My husband cut the plywood for me, then I covered it with a layer of 1/2- inch foam and two layers of (the cheapest possible big box store) batting, then a final layer of cotton duck. I'm still going back and forth about covering it in the silver reflective cloth, but so far it's working great for me. And it's 54 inches wide, so pressing yardage is soooo much easier.

Finally, last Wednesday this little blog turned 7 years old! I have no idea how this happened. I think next week I'll have some kind of a giveaway or something to celebrate, but for now, thanks for hanging around for so long, and special thanks for bearing with me through the really hard times we've been having. Quilty friends are the best!
 
 
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! My plan for the weekend is to haul out the patio furniture. Lunch on the patio, everyone! Hurray!

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

Friday, March 26, 2021

Finishing Betty's quilt

 Hello everyone, and welcome to a spring weekend! It is, right now, at 7 am on Friday, 63 degrees. Also, quite humid, but we can overlook that for now in favor of happy dancing over the warm temperatures, right? An hour ago it was raining, but now all of that has burned off and it looks super-nice out there. Quite windy, but warm.
 
A couple of weeks ago, Preeti came over and visited for a little bit, and she saw today's quilt pinned up on the design wall. "That was here last time," she said. (Then she made off with a bag of my scraps, but that's a different story.) She was right, and it was time to get this baby quilted up. This one was hard to photograph, but here she is:
 
 
See what I mean about hard to photograph? The colors weren't cooperating. This quilt belongs to my sister-in-law, Susie. Susie's mom passed away from Alzheimer's disease, which she had suffered from for years. Carol was a quilter, and when cleaning out the house, Susie found this quilt in a bag, all basted and ready to quilt. The daughter and granddaughter of quilters, she knew just what it was and sent it on to me to finish. 
 
 
When I looked at it, the quilt was very nicely and securely basted (with red thread!), but it had polyester batting. I hated taking out the basting, but I knew the quilt would last longer and look better if I took out that basting and replaced the polyester with cotton. I'm all for honoring the original intent of the quilter, but I'm not for using inferior materials. It turned out to be a good decision, because this really turned out to be quite cuddly!
 


I also discovered this on the back:
 
 
The quilt was not made by Susie's mom, but by her grandma, who also died from Alzheimer's. I imagine this was one of the last quilts she basted, since she passed away shortly after this. Perhaps that's why it didn't get finished-- it was just too emotional to complete.
 
I kind of bonded with Betty while finishing her quilt. I must have met her at my brother's wedding, though I can't remember. Weddings are like that, you know? The embroidery here is very neat, with no stray threads, and the seams are just about perfect. Everything was pressed and trimmed very nicely, much better than I usually do it. Also, she made some design choices that I understood. Take a look at these pictures:
 
 
On the left is the inside of the quilt back, and on the right is the outside. It's subtle, but if you look closely you can see that Betty used the back of the pink fabric in the quilt. This is also true in the pieced top. The fabric must have been the "wrong" pink for her, so she used the back to get the right color.
 
 
Also, she chose to use the border fabric on the back and front as the binding, which was also packaged with the quilt. (True fact: I calculated that I needed 260 inches of binding, and there were 265 inches in the bag.)  The binding nearly disappears into the borders. I might not have done this, but it's interesting on her quilt.

 
To quilt this one, I used a fairly wide (3-5/8 inches) crosshatch in a parchment-colored thread which blended right into the quilt. Really, you can barely see it. I thought that Betty had probably intended to hand quilt this, and I could have done the stitch-in-the-ditch thing, but this secured the embroidered blocks and kept the quilt nice and cuddly. It was tough to stitch over that embroidery, believe me, but I closed my eyes and did it. I marked the lines with a Hera marker, and there are a few wobbles where the line was not easy to see, but overall, I like how it turned out. 

 
The backing was pieced and likely meant as borders on the back, and to use up the fabric, so I matched the centers to get it lined up properly. I think it turned out well, and fairly even on each side, and I love the picture above because of the shadows. The sun was in and out while I was taking these, and this time it made an interesting photo.

So, after all this time, Betty's quilt is finally finished. I've sent it back to Susie with the suggestion that she save it for a grandchild. Wouldn't that be amazing, to have a grandbaby using great-great-grandma's quilt? Just the idea makes me happy that this is done. 
 
 
Next time Preeti comes to visit, there will be something else up on the design wall and she can kick me in the pants to get that one finished, too. (Such a motivator!) I have a couple of things I'm still working on quietly, and I'm starting to feel more like myself. The sunshine really helps! And look what I found while photographing this quilt:
 
 
Flowers! My heart sings!

Hope everyone has a really good weekend. We might-- might-- go to a restaurant. The hubs and I have both been vaccinated and are now past the two weeks that you need after that to be safe, so maybe a little bit of normal life is in order. Whatever you're doing, I hope there's some spring sunshine in it for you!

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