Saturday, August 28, 2021

Just three more

 Hi everyone! It's the last weekend before school starts for me, and I'm nervous as all get out. We had a ton of meetings this week (ugh) and by the time the last one was finished there were students on campus. Actual living students, right there on campus! It was thrilling, like the campus is alive again. We require vaccines and we all have to wear masks, but I still don't know whether to be happy or terrified about going to class. What a strange world this has become.

Thankfully, the sewing room remains its messy self. I've come to believe that the one constant in life is scraps. They never really go away, and the more you use, the more you make. In that vein, I've made three more Saguaro blocks for the RSC this week:
All of those meetings meant not a lot of stitching time, but I'm glad I was able to eke these out. I love aqua and turquoise, and choosing the fabrics for these was kind of hard. I think I made decent choices, though. 

I counted all of the blocks that I've already finished, and I have 22, including the new aqua ones. I can either make three more and have a square quilt that is at least 60 by 60, or make eight more and have a quilt that's at least 60 by 72. I'm pretty much ready to be done, so I think I'll just make three more, whenever we get to orange. (I know I could just make two more and have a quilt that's 4 blocks by 6 blocks, but that's 48 by 72, a bit long and skinny for me.)

I didn't do any other stitching on the RSC projects, but I did have a little retail therapy arrive, in the form of some wide back fabrics, shown above. Look at the size of those dots! That was a real surprise, though overall the fabric is really pretty. I'll find something to use it on, though it won't be a small project. Speaking of retail therapy, don't forget to hop over to Bernie's shop for her retirement sale, where the fabric is now 30% off. Still a lot of bargains!

Hope you all are having a good weekend! Enjoy these last few days before school, because after that comes fall. Maybe it will cool off by then!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC21.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Making blocky progress

Hi all! How is your week going? We are still hot and sticky, and expecting more rain. The more things change, the more they stay the same. As you read this, I'm probably in yet another meeting getting ready for the upcoming school year. I really like teaching, but I could really do without the meetings. Apparently, Zooming meetings was too productive, so we can't do it any more. But sitting in meetings does make for fun quilt idea sketching time!

In between meetings, I've made some progress on the two quilts that I'm currently working on, the Snail's Trail and the old and new quilt. First up, here are the last of the modern blocks for the old and new quilt:

Yay! Aren't they cute? As I said, these are the last of the "modern" blocks for this quilt. I have only eight of the more traditional blocks left to piece, and they are the ones I need to paper piece. I've printed the patterns and chosen the fabrics, so I'm looking forward to finishing these blocks really soon.  And many, many thanks to Preeti and Wendy, who sent me some of the fabric I was missing. It really makes a difference in the quilt!

So, there's the update on that quilt. The other quilt I'm working on is a scrap Snail's Trail quilt, trying to use up some of the many blues and beiges that I have. I've made about a dozen blocks:

Once you cut all the pieces, these blocks go together really easily. It's fairly mindless and soothing. My only issue in putting them together is variety-- I don't want to repeat the same fabrics in the same block. Sometimes it happens in spite of my best efforts. Really, though, that's the only problem with these. Well, that and the fact that they haven't used nearly as many scraps as you would think. I still have tons!

Last time I posted about these, I asked if anyone knew the math to make the blocks a bit bigger, since the original blocks would have finished at 8 inches. A very helpful reader named Ila emailed me a super-cool and very mathy diagram, and it worked! You can see the difference in block sizes above. The bigger blocks finish at a weird size, about 11-1/3 inches, but it doesn't matter because they are all connected to each other. Thanks so much, Ila!

So, two quilts, moving right along! Perhaps during the next meeting, I'll try to sketch out a layout for the old and new quilt. I haven't decided on one yet, and it would be a good thing to think about. And if anyone needs some fabric, be sure to check out Bernie's retirement sale right HERE. There are still many fun bargains left! 
I'll leave you with a photo from one of the flower pots. The heat and rain have been really great for the flowers and grass. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Sharing at Midweek Makers.

Friday, August 20, 2021

A double dose of positivity

 Hi everyone! Can you feel the summer winding down? I can, and I want to hang on to it with both hands so it won't go away. Unfortunately, it's so humid that it's far too slippery to hang on to, plus I have a hard time breathing the soup that is our air right now. True fact: it has been so rainy and soupy that this week there was a full-grown frog on our deck. Or maybe it was a toad. I'm no scientist, but it was weird. He just hung out there, then literally hopped away, over the side of the deck, which is elevated. Perhaps he needed a break from the rigors of being a frog and just decided to hang out away from the fam for a little bit?

I have not been hanging out this week, on the deck or otherwise. We've started having meetings again (have we learned nothing?) and gearing up for the year, but I did sneak in a few minutes to finish up these cuties:

These are the two Positivity quilts I've made for Preeti's Positivity Quilt Along. Okay, I know it's really only one and a half because the one on the right is not quilted yet, but I can totally explain! And I really think I should get some points for finishing at least one of the quilts on time, which is something that normally is pretty rare around here. I get bored pretty easily, and life often interrupts, and UFOs abound.

Let's talk about the quilt top first! I actually really like this one, though it went through several changes before it got to this stage. My first idea didn't work, so I changed my mind, eliminated the alternate blocks I had planned, and added sashing and cornerstones. I wanted something that would be gender-neutral and for someone who liked the outdoors, and I think it works. And I like the secondary pattern with the flipped corners and the cornerstones. If you're looking carefully, you can see that I ran out of the main batik, but I had something else and I think it works just fine.

The picture up top doesn't give a good view of the fabrics, which have been in the stash for a long time. The blocks are mostly batiks, and the prints are a very old collection called Woodroses in Winter by Holly Taylor. And here's why it isn't quilted yet: I was planning to quilt it on my machine, but then I took that lesson on the longarm, and I completely changed my mind about using my machine. Why wrestle with a quilt this size if I could longarm it instead? So that's the plan for this top. It will get to Bernie a bit later, but I'm pretty sure they'll still be able to use it. The top doesn't have a name but I've been thinking of it as the very imaginative "neutral" quilt, and I'm looking forward to quilting it.

Turning to the blue quilt, this is the finished Whisper quilt, and I like how it turned out. Once a top is quilted, it really changes, doesn't it? I am so much more pleased with this than I was with the top. Now it looks cozy and comfortable, not bland.

I used a walking foot to quilt diagonal lines across the quilt, and I backed it with a soft blue. I'm happy to say that there are no tucks in the backing, and the quilt washed up really well and is now on its way to Bernie. I was worried that the binding was too dark a blue, but now I think it makes a nice frame. 

So that's my contribution to the Positivity Quilt Along! I'm happy to donate both of these to Mercyful Quilts, and I hope they bring some families some comfort in a hard time. We've been in that situation a few times, and quilty hug definitely helps.

Hope you all are having good luck finishing up your quilts! Have a lovely weekend, and I sincerely hope there are no frogs staring at you through your sliding glass doors, plotting how to get inside away from the heat!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Brag About Your Beauties, Finished or Not Friday, and Preeti's Positivity linkup.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

A cool spot in the heat

 Hi everyone, from a very warm and very wet Baltimore! It was more than 100 degrees on my home thermometer twice this past week, and 104 degrees on my car thermometer. I've said it before, but God bless Willis Carrier. Plus, we had some storms with spectacular lightning and very loud thunder. It was quite exciting. As of this week, we have now lived in Baltimore for two years, so I'm trying to think of the flashes and banging as a celebration, kind of like fireworks.
This is when I'm happy that my sewing room is in the basement bedroom. It's much cooler down there!  And here's what came out of the room with me when I had no choice but to go back upstairs:

Slightly drenched flowers and the final scrap basket for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge! Yay! The picture isn't the greatest because I was in a huge hurry to get back inside before the skies opened up again, so here is one that is a little more focused:

Look at those pretty and cool aquas, with some turquoise tossed in. I love aqua and turquoise and had a lot of scraps to choose from. I've made all of the baskets differently, and this one is strips of aqua in random widths, assembled quilt as you go style. It worked really well and went fast, and hardly made a dent in the scraps. They're all so pretty that I don't mind looking at them, though.

Here is the whole scrap basket family (ignore the creative mess):

I promise that they are mostly the same size, but some of them are a little more squished than others. Taking this picture is when I realized that I somehow skipped making a yellow basket. Yikes! I don't know how this happened, because yellow is one of my favorite colors. More to the point, where did I put the bin of yellow scraps?

That's a question for another day, because this weekend I'll be finishing up those positivity quilts for the quilt along, which ends next week. I never finish on time, but this time I feel like I have to get it done before school starts. We have meetings next week, so I'd better get a move on!
I hope you all have a great weekend! If you feel like doing some shopping from your sofa, my friend Bernie at Needle and Foot has marked down the fabric in her shop even further, with some really good bargains. Check it out HERE and be sure to tell her I said hi, too!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Longarm lessons

 Hi all! How is your week going so far? It is so incredibly humid here that I'm having a hard time breathing outside. I didn't go out walking this morning because when I got up there was already an air quality alert and the humidity was at 88 percent. Okay, I'll sit on the sofa for the morning, thanks! I'm almost hoping for rain. Do you think that would help?

Unbelievably, I have a finish to show today! Everyone knows that finishes are for Fridays, but I'm too excited about it to wait, plus I might forget. Why take the chance? Here is the finish:
Hurray! This is the top that I made from the blocks in the Color Challenge at Patterns by Jen last year. I'm not doing the challenge this year, but there is something else that is special about this quilt-- it's the first one that I've ever longarmed myself!

I had planned to rent time on a long arm a long time ago, before we moved to Maryland, but with one thing and another, it never happened. (I even lost my deposit!) Here we are two years later and this past week I've finally taken the required class and gotten permission to use the long arm at a shop here in Maryland. It's about a half hour from me, but I'm willing to drive it for the chance to do this again.

The class was one of the most fun times I've ever had stitching on any machine. There were only two of us in the "class" because there were only two machines for rent, and we each got to use one. We each brought a quilt top and back and actually got to quilt it up during the class. We only used a big meander, which went fast, but we did get through all the steps and the whole quilt. It was so awesome that I have no words.

The instructor was really good, and using the machine itself was a dream. Five minutes into the work I was wondering how fast I could save enough money to get myself a long arm. I actually thought, "I have got to get me one of these!" Alas, I'll be renting for a long time!

So, here's how nervous I was about using the long arm-- I actually made a pieced backing for the quilt. I never do this, but I figured that if I ruined it, it wouldn't be so bad if it was just leftover pieces. It was actually really hard to mess up, so the backing turned out great, too. These "stripes" are just leftover pieces from previous backings. I bound it in a nice gold from my basket o' scrap bindings, so everything in this quilt except the border is a scrap of some sort.

This quilt is a bit dear to my heart because it kept me sane through the very challenging year of 2020. Sometimes I forget it's 2021 because last year was so weird and stressful. I feel like we should have a do-over! The blocks brought me comfort, and the finishing brought me joy, so I'm donating this one so that someone else can have some comfort and joy, too, especially if they're in a challenging situation. I washed it and it came out nice and crinkly, and now it's off to it's new home.

There's the story of this quilt! I've already made another longarm reservation for a few weeks from now, and I'll be trying out some better freehand patterns then. The meandering was just learning to use the machine, go the right speed, etc. There is no computerization on these machines, so I'm on the lookout for a simple pattern I can practice. It will be fun, if imperfect!

Hope you all are having a good week. If anyone needs me, I'll be sitting next to the dehumidifier!

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

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Just keep cutting

 Hi all! Well, just like that, it's August. You know what comes this month-- the end of summer and the beginning of school. Amazingly, this week has so far been one of the coolest parts of the summer weather-wise. How does that happen? I don't know, but I'm not sizzling, so I'm pretty happy about it.

Today's post is brought to you by two overflowing bins, but first, here's a picture of what is coming out of those bins, just to have something pretty at the top:
A Snail's Trail block in blue and beige! It doesn't sound like it would work, but it does. They are the colors of water and sand, after all. And I can't resist taking pictures with the flowers, plus they're a nice contrast, aren't they? They are turning out great, even though they got a late start this year.

As you may recall, I sorted scraps and emptied the last of the boxes of bits and pieces over the last few weeks. It turns out that I have a lot more blue than I thought, and a whole lot more beige. I seldom use these colors, so they mainly sit in the bins.Take a look:

The beige fabrics multiply in the dark, I'm certain of it. I haven't bought any in forever, and I even gave a box of beiges and tans away, but I still have a ton of bits and pieces. I think most of these got cut off backings, but there are all kinds of pieces in there.

I decided to use these together in a quilt, and I borrowed an Accuquilt die from a friend to do the cutting. Quite a while ago, I bought a used Accuquilt, and I've been making good use of it ever since. Even used it was pricey, but it was worth it. The dies are also pricey, which is why I've borrowed this one. I have some dies that very kind friends have given me, and a few that I bought (also used.) Borrowing and trading with friends is the way to go if you can.

So, over the course of a couple of hours over a couple of days, I was able to cut the pieces for 30 Snail's Trail blocks out of those bins, and there are plenty of hunks and chunks left. I'm surprised to get 30 blocks, but I may try for a few more because these blocks are only 8 inches finished. Anyone know the math for expanding the size? I would just have to add more triangles, but I'm not sure I have any pieces that are big enough for that (now that I think about it.) Most of the scraps are truly scraps and are pretty small.

For these blocks, I've been using the dark and medium blue values, so I'm going to have to think up another project to use up those lighter blues. I have a couple ideas, but I'll have to finish this up first. I have no deadline for this, but all of those pieces are so nicely cut and arranged, it's a real motivator to get them stitched up. And it's August, so there's not a lot of time!

Hope everyone is having a great week. While I was out on the deck, I also got a photo of some very petite peach roses that I planted in a pot so the deer couldn't get to them, so I'll leave you with that photo. Happy stitching!

Sharing at Midweek Makers and Oh, Scrap!