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!