Friday, October 15, 2021

Twisting and turning

 Hi everyone! How are you all? Thanks so much for your good wishes about my foot last week. It is doing much, much better, thanks. Turns out that if you actually sit down and put your feet up like you're supposed to, your foot gets better. Who knew?

So I was able to get down to the sewing room this week, and while I was down there, I finished piecing together the Snail's Trail quilt top. Yay me! Here she is:
Yahoo! If you recall, this top is made entirely of scraps from my very full blue and neutral scrap bins. Unbelievably, even with all the fabric that this top took to make, the scrap bins seem to be just as full as ever. I used a whole bunch of different neutrals, and I used the dark and medium-ish blues. I still have a bunch of light blues to use up and am going to need a few good ideas for that project.

The Snail's Trail blocks look really intricate, but they are very easy to piece. I borrowed an Accuquilt die from a friend to do most of the cutting, then added a last round to make the blocks bigger with some more cutting. The die cutting made things really easy, and it all went together really well. The borders are strings left over from cutting the block pieces. Hey, it worked and it used up a bunch more scraps! The final outer border is the leftover pieces from trimming the backing on another quilt. They were long and skinny and found a good home here. I plan to use a scrappy blue binding to finish everything off.

I thought I was super lucky while I was making the blocks, because there is no matching to be done. Then I started stitching them together into rows and holy cow, those points are zero fun to match. Don't look too closely, because a lot of them don't match up. I gave up after a while, and it's a scrap quilt anyway, so there's a few places where I should have gone back and ripped out the seam and restitched it, but I just didn't.
For this quilt, my only real concern in assembling both the blocks and the final quilt top is that I didn't want any of the same fabrics touching each other. Amazingly, I think I managed that, which I think means that each of the blocks has scraps of at least 20 different fabrics in it. I was able to use up a bunch of little pieces, and the only trouble I really had was the larger outside pieces. Most of my scraps are actually small, so finding big enough scraps for the outer pieces was a bit difficult. There are a couple where the grainlines aren't what they should be, but I won't tell if you won't.

So there we are, another finished top, and a bunch of scraps turned into a quilt. Hurray! Now, what should I do with those light blues? 

Have a wonderful weekend, and if you have any good ideas for the lights, let me know! I'll be resting my foot again this weekend, which is just my way of saying that I'll be reading on the sofa. It's a good excuse!


Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, Brag About Your Beauties, Oh Scrap! and the Patchwork and Quilts party.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Masala baby

 (There is a giveaway at the bottom of this post for those who are interested!) 

Hi everyone! Odd to hear from me on a Monday, I know, but my friend Preeti has a new pattern that I tested for her, and it's my pleasure to share it with you today. The pattern is called Masala Box, and it makes a very fast and easy quilt that turns out to be striking no matter what colors you make it in. I made the baby size, because I knew it would be a donation quilt, and had a good time creating it. Take a look:

I told you it was striking! It's kind of modern and kind of traditional, with no difficult piecing. I like to think it looks vaguely Caribbean in my colors, with some bright colors of the ocean, sky and sun. This bright little baby quilt measures about 40 by 40. For this size, you need less than a yard of the background and some colorful scraps, so it's a very economical quilt to make as well. You could easily dig every bit out of your scraps if you had some bigger pieces.

I backed this fun little quilt with a bright green polka dot, then quilted it with bright green thread using my walking foot. It's bound by machine with a bright turquoise solid. I goofed around and half watched a movie while I made this, and it still only took me an afternoon, with quilting the next afternoon. Not bad for a whole little quilt.

I made my quilt with individual squares, which cleaned out a lot of them, but the pattern is strip pieced, so it's much easier than the one I made. As I said above, the quilt looks great in almost any colors, and I bet it would look terrific with a really wild background print and solid squares, or in all neutrals. The centers could also be used for embroidery or thread painting, or you could have people write messages there, for a wedding, graduation, or quinceanera quilt. (Why can't I get a tilde so that's spelled correctly? Anyone know how to insert those letters on Blogger?)

You can purchase the pattern in Preeti's Etsy shop and start making your quilt right away, but here's your chance to win a pattern, with no effort other than leaving me a comment! Leave a comment below, and just for fun, let me know what color combo you think would look good in this pattern. What colors would you make it in, or for what occasion? I will use the random number generator thingy to choose a random winner the morning of  Saturday, October 16th. 
The giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to Connie, and thanks to all!

Hope you all have a good week, with lots of sewing time and some other kinds of relaxation. I'll be teaching all week, and finishing the border on another quilt. Come back Friday for another exciting episode!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Positively finished

 Hello everyone, and happy weekend! So, late last week I was walking across campus, along a new sidewalk, when I kind of fell off the sidewalk. There was a trench of sorts next to the concrete, where they hadn't filled in with dirt yet, and my ankle turned right to the side, exactly the wrong way. Funnily enough, it didn't hurt right away, but later it ballooned up, and it hurt like crazy. The good news is-- soft tissue injury, like a bad sprain. Not broken! The bad news is that it still hurts like crazy.

So, could I make my way down to my sewing room? No, I could not. Luckily, I only had to trim and bind the second quilt that I quilted up last time, so I could give good directions for bringing up an old machine and locating my already-made binding. Best hubby ever, really, even if he has no idea how a sewing machine works. (Hint: you must have the foot pedal for the machine to work.)

But once everything was set up in the dining room, success! Here's that finished quilt:
Hurray, hurray! This is the second Positivity quilt, all quilted and even bound and ready to go off to Bernie. (Pictures by me, quilt positioning by my weird helper. Teamwork makes the dream work!)
I made this top as part of the Positivity quilt along, then missed the deadline because I wanted to quilt this on the longarm. It was so much easier! I just made somewhat wavy lines across the quilt with a deep tan thread. Lorna is the master of this, and I keep trying to make mine look good, but these look okay, and the quilt is quite cuddly. The design of the quilt is the star, after all. Right?
The backing is a lovely warm tan with a small paisley print, which I got from Bernie's shop. It turned out to be a fantastic backing which doesn't compete with the front. You can see in this photo that I ran out of the main background print, so I used a different print for the four corners. I think it works fine, and it doesn't compete, either.
I wanted this quilt to be neutral, for a man or for someone non-binary, or for any outdoorsy kind of person. I think I accomplished that and that it turned out great. It will be a nice comfort to someone who likes the colors. I've been calling this quilt "Woodsy" in my head, but I don't want to officially give it a name. I wouldn't want to get attached!

The quilt came out of the washer and dryer looking terrific and is now packed and ready to send off to Bernie for Mercyful quilts. It used up all of those old fabrics clogging my stash, and will get sent as soon as I can hobble off to UPS. That could take a few days, but it will get there.

As luck would have it, this weekend is our anniversary, so I'm looking forward to lazing around and resting my ankle, and also having some very tasty takeout while we watch a movie. Sounds awesome to me! Hope your weekend is just as fun and relaxing! 

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, Brag About your Beauties, TGIFF, and the Patchwork and Quilts party.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Circling the squares

Hi everyone! I can't believe it's October, can you? The weather has definitely taken a cooler turn, which is nice, but we have no turning leaves yet.  We do have leaves all over, though, because our neighbors had some gigantic trees taken down over the last couple of days. When I say gigantic, I mean really, really tall. They brought in cranes and everything. It was quite the project.
I had a project, too, though it did not involve cranes or leaves, and only a tiny bit of drama. And it turned out much prettier than a pile of branches and sticks! Here she is:
Like I said, prettier than a pile of sticks! This is my second hollow 9-patches quilt, made from scrap squares for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I made the top in the "before times," in 2019, which seems like so long ago, doesn't it? If only we had known what was coming. . .
I am so happy with this quilt, and not just because it's so bright and cheerful. I rented free time (not lessons) on the longarm and quilted this up myself. (I also quilted another one at the same time, but that will have to wait just a bit for its debut.) As always, it was more fun than a box full of scraps, and I came home with a finished quilt, which is just the best.
Look at those great colors! I tried to quilt this all over with circles in various sizes, but some of them are more circle-ish or only suggestions of circles, more like ovals, really. Some of them overlap a bit, but most of them are separate. I had a little trouble in a couple of spots, since I quilted myself into a corner, so to speak, and had to make some very, very small circles to back myself out of it. But that's why we use blendy thread colors, right? Since this was my first shot at making circles, I feel pretty okay about how they turned out. If nothing else, it makes a nice texture.
When I was quilting this, there was another quilter using the other machine, and we spent some time admiring each other's quilts and encouraging each other. It was great! When I was feeling bad about my flat circles, she picked me up, and when she had to rip some backing that had folded over and gotten quilted in, I commiserated. I can't even tell you how good it felt to be with a kindred spirit. Plus, it helps to know that I'm not the only one who screws up when stitching. 
Every bit of this quilt except the backing is a scrap, including the binding. The backing is a really pretty gray and white print that I bought for something else, but that didn't work out too well, so it was available for this quilt. I know, I actually bought gray and white fabric, but like I said, it didn't work out!  
I am thrilled to have this one quilted up and out of the closet, and I am so, so pleased that I'm making so much progress in that area. I might be trying to make up for last year, when it feels like I got nothing done. Anyone else have that feeling? 
Hope you all have a lovely fall weekend, filled with fall-themed goodies. Is it cool enough for hot apple cider, or should I wait? How about pumpkin pie?  Maybe pumpkin donuts! Thoughts?
Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Brag About Your Beauties, Finished or Not Friday, Oh Scrap, and soscrappy for RSC21.

Friday, September 24, 2021

There's a bear on my quilt

 Hi everyone, and happy first weekend of fall! How did that happen? I would swear that it was just the first weekend of summer. Of course, I would swear that just last week my folks dropped me off at college for my freshman year, but I had a birthday this week that puts me many times beyond college age, so my sense of time may be a bit skewed.
 I got myself a lovely birthday present, but before that, I had another longarm quilting lesson! I'm getting much more comfortable with the machine, and it's getting easier each time. And every time, I somehow end up with a finished quilt! Here is the latest one:
It's about time this quilt top got finished! I made this quilt, unbelieveably, in August 2016, just before we moved out of the tiny condo that we rented when we first moved to the East coast and into our own house. It spent quite a lot of time in a box, but now it is a cozy, snuggly finished quilt! 

This is a pattern by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. I've made several of her quilts now and they are great. They are not paper pieced, and the bear there is made using a flip and sew method that is really easy and makes contructing the bear really easy. I love how it looks like he's walking out of the quilt and smashing right through the sashing. 
I had a different instructor for this lesson, and she was also great. She taught me a couple of tricks, including repeating to myself "out and back, out and back" over and over again. It worked! Look at those great swirls. The first few were a little bit shaky, but they definitely got better as I went. 
The bear's paw blocks all got swirls, which gave it great texture, then the bear got some simple meandering and then straight-ish lines in the two gray legs. This let me make the bear look nice and fuzzy, and gave me some practice in changing the threads. I know the black bear will naturally look fuzzy because he will attract every bit of lint and dust in the house, but the meandering was fun just the same.
I forgot to take a picture of the backing, but it was more of those big giant dots from the last quilt. They look fun on the back and hide all of my mistakes. There are still plenty, believe me. That bright blue binding is also a Kona solid, and I think it finishes everything off really well. 
And that is one more finished quilt! I can't even tell you how happy I am about this one. Keeping it unfinished for five years was too long. I'm really going to work on finishing things up much faster. I think this was the oldest one in the closet. Well, the oldest finished top. There are still several unfinished projects that may or may not be from the same era. But we're not counting those, right?
Everyone have a lovely weekend. We don't have any leaves changing color yet, but I think perhaps we should go hiking and see if we can spot some. It's fall now, you know!
Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and Brag About Your Beauties. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Chained together

 Hi everyone! It's another weekend, and I'm told that it's officially the last weekend of summer, since fall starts this coming week. Wednesday, I think. I can believe it's still summer, because it has been really warm here. And raining. Today's pictures are weird because the light was all strange, mainly because it was about to rain again. And it's raining again this morning, too.

In stitching news, I have finished off the Color Chain quilt top for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge! Here she is:
See, it's super wet outside. I know there are a couple of months left in the RSC, including this month, which should be orange. Here's the thing, though-- I took out the blocks to make some orange ones to add to it, and I put the existing blocks up on the design wall. And the quilt told me it was done! It was a good size and plenty colorful, so I could just assemble it and be done. Sold!
I did add in a little bit of orange with some cornerstones, and there is one in a bright green, too, which I think might be our last color for the year. I thought the cornerstones made the chain effect even better, and who can resist throwing in a few more scraps?
See the leftover raindrops?

The hardest part of putting this quilt top together was choosing a border. I wasn't going to have a border, but it looked pretty washed out without one. (If you look closely, you can see that there is some orange in the border, too, and plenty of green.) Somehow, multicolor brights never look good with my RSC quilts. They always seem to clash, but I auditioned a bunch of others and settled on this one. I think it works fine.

Unbelievably, that means that I have finished off one of my RSC quilts for this year! Hurray! This will become a donation quilt and will likely get quilted next year. That means it's not unfinished, just waiting its turn. Right? And speaking of unfinished projects. . .have you all seen THIS? 

Leanne at Devoted Quilter is running a WIPs Be Gone challenge for the last 100 days of 2021. Unbelievably, next Thursday is the first day, because that will kick off the 100 final days of this year. Who knew? She has a lot of prizes included and it looks like fun, so consider jumping in if you'd like. Heaven knows I have plenty of unfinished things around here. . .
The dampness makes it look really sad and saggy, but I promise it's a happy quilt!
Hope everyone has a lovely weekend. Remember that it's officially still summer, so you could totally justify a quick trip to the beach!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC21.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More projects than time

 Hi all! Hope you're all doing well so far this week. I'm settling in to the semester, which is good because we're now in the third week. How did that happen? No idea. I've been too busy in another stupid meeting to notice. But the good news is that we have not had any Covid cases so far. Yay us! Fingers crossed that we stay this healthy as the colder temps set in.

I've been working on several things in the sewing room lately, and this is just a short update so I don't forget what I'm doing. Hey, it happens. First, I've finished off the blocks for the old and new quilt, and they are awesome, of course, and I've started a layout. Here's what I've decided:

I chose a layout of staggered columns, which I think will really showcase the blocks. The hard part is getting the colors balanced, and then deciding what to use to offset the columns. Do I just use a big rectangle as a filler? Or maybe a flying goose? Or a half block? I think a half block would be most interesting, but I'd need to choose a block or two that would still be interesting cut in half. Any suggestions?

One more quilt that is nearing completion is the Snail's Trail quilt, which is at a good stage. 

I made twenty blocks, then decided that that wasn't enough, so I cut ten more, which should make the quilt a good size. I have to put the last round on the last ten blocks, then I can finish this off. Not sure about any kind of a border, though. I have tons of blue scraps left over, so maybe I can think of a way to use more of them for a border.

Finally, I've also started putting the Laundry Basket Quilts mystery together! I'm stitching it together in quadrants so that it's easy to manage, and it's going well enough so far. I'm really excited to get this off the wall and figure out some borders for it as well. It's going to look really great once it's all done.

Lots going on! Enough to keep me busy, anyway. The heat continues here, though the days suddenly seem to be getting shorter. It's a bit darker in the morning. Ah, well. At least the flowers are still alive!

I'll close with those pretties, and the note that this is my 600th post, for anyone who's keeping track. Thanks for hanging around and keeping me company this long. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Sharing at Midweek Makers.

Friday, September 10, 2021

A steep learning curve

 Hi all! How has your week been? After a brief respite, we are back to very warm temps. Not great when you're trying to teach in a mask! And the students, who have been great about wearing their masks literally everywhere, are not great about sitting in hot rooms. It will cool down by November, right?

I have some happy news-- I have had another longarm lesson, and I managed to get another quilt done. Yes, I could take some random fabric in with me and use that instead, but it seems like a waste when I have all of these tops that need to be quilted. Why not use them for practice, especially when I know that a few wobbles won't matter? And I remembered how to load everything! Yay me! Here is my latest learning piece:

Well, it's colorful and happy, and finished, so that's all that matters, right? I'm actually pretty happy with it. This is the brown bear quilt top that I made from a disassembled kit earlier this year. My granddaughter loves the Brown Bear book, so what can I say? She will love this quilt.

Longarming is a ton of fun, and much easier than using a domestic machine, but there is a steep learning curve. I've been trying a lot of different quilting patterns, as directed by the teacher, and while I've been getting better, there are a lot of wobbles and uneven patterns. Yikes-- some of them are quite bad.

Thank goodness there is a stitch regulator! A few times I got going a bit too fast, and it certainly shows. Uneven loops! Circles that look like ovals! And I'm not even showing you the feathers! And I won't, either, because golly, those turned out badly. I need a lot more practice on those. And somehow I managed to miss a whole big area (in the turquoise strip), so I'll have to see what I can do about that. I'm happy to say that there are no big tucks or pleats in the backing, though I did manage to get two small ones on the top. I picked out the tucks and then had to re-stitch, which was a lesson in itself.

I have a lot more respect for the physical aspect of longarming, too. Wow, it is a workout! I did two small quilts (this one is about 48 by 54) in about 4 hours, and I think I got about 4,000 steps in that time. And lots of reaching and stretching, too. Much more fun than going to the gym, though.

For the back, I used the dots I bought a couple of weeks ago, and you can get a good perspective on how huge those dots really are. Surprisingly, my dear hubs really likes them! He called it one of the best backings I've ever used. I'm just touched that he noticed! I'm not sure that I knew that he knew what a backing is.

Even though there are plenty of mistakes in this quilt, I am really looking forward to sharing it with my granddaughter. She already knows the difference between a blanket and a quilt, and I can't wait until she sees the characters from the book on the quilt. It will be fun! Plus, it turned out nice and crinkly when I washed it, so all the mistakes are hidden!

So that's my newest lesson! I give myself an A for effort, but a C for actual stitching. Decent grade, but plenty of room for improvement. Looking forward to the next lesson, which will involve more practice and curves. After that I can learn to use pantos, and then-- rulers!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. I have another quilt to bind and many other sewing-related things to do, plus I promised myself some ice cream. Hey, it's still plenty warm out, right? I think you should have some too!
Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and Brag About Your Beauties.

Friday, September 3, 2021

A quilt to end the summer

 Hi everyone! Well, we made it through the first week of school and here we are, suddenly a few days into September. 2021 is now in its last quarter. Yikes! And right on schedule, we had a huge storm and the temperatures and humidity dropped lower than they have been in ages. It feels great out there today. Plus, I'm happy to report really good compliance on mask-wearing and distancing from my students so far. Hurray!

I have a finished quilt to show today, and it's a quilt from earlier this summer. I saved it just for the end of summer, because I knew this would be a very hectic week, and because this particular quilt makes a great wrap-up to the season. Here she is:
Earlier this summer, my sweet niece Annie got married! I can hardly believe it, as I still think of her as about five years old. They had postponed the wedding twice because of Covid, and they were finally able to pull it off. Thank goodness they did, because they managed to squeeze it in before the Delta variant surged, though nobody knew that then, so a lot of us were able to go and dance at their wedding, including my parents.

 So, since my niece was getting married in a vineyard (in an area along Lake Erie which is full of vineyards and mostly grows Concord grapes), I decided not to take any pictures here at home, but wait and take pictures of the quilt in the vineyard. Those would be great pictures, right? Very pastoral and beautiful. 
Uh, no. You guys, grape vines are waaay taller than they look from the road. And they're attached to weird wire fences that did not look like anything that I wanted to put a wedding quilt on, plus it turned out to be quite windy. Plus, they have actual grapes growing on them, which can get crushed and get all over the quilt. So we have some odd pictures, but they still work, right? Here's the best one with the grapevines:
Yep, I had someone hold it, and it still blew all around. Ah, well. It was an idea, but not a great idea. At least you can see that they had a beautiful, though breezy, day! The rest of the pictures are also from various spots around the vineyard property, which was quite lovely.

I made this quilt as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at soscrappy. I made the blocks in 2018 and finished the top in 2019. All of the fabrics except the backing and sashing are scraps. I had promised it to a friend, but a while ago she graciously relinquished her claim, since she has plenty of quilts. When I got the news about Annie's (original) wedding date, I knew it would be perfect for her, and I sent it off to my friend Diane to be longarmed. As a bonus, the quilting panto is actually called meandering stars!

Needless to say, Annie and her new hubby were thrilled with their gift and started using it immediately, which is what we all want for gifted quilts, right? I don't know him very well, but the bright colors and happy layout certainly fit my niece. And we all know that's who has to be pleased, right? 

With a happy quilt for a happy bride and groom, that wraps up the summer! I can hardly believe we're at the end. Overall, it was a good time for me and let me reset my overworked brain. I still got a lot done, and I'm happy with how we're heading into fall. And I'm almost looking forward to some much cooler temperatures, though we all know what that leads to, right? (Hint: it starts with "s" and makes a very slippery mess!)

Hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I plan to relax and maybe hang some new curtains, and the hubs and I may go for a small picnic. I might even sneak in a few stitches here and there. I didn't post any wedding pictures here, mainly because they're full of people I don't know who might not like their pictures posted, but I do want to end with a picture of the bride's beautiful flowers, which were made by my cousin and were definitely not scraps. Enjoy the weekend!
Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, Brag About Your Beauties, soscrappy for the RSC, and Oh, Scrap!