Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September Wrap up: The End of National Sewing Month and Mini Madness

September was National Sewing Month and for me it was a month for a bunch of mini quilt finishes!


First up is a project in my continuing obsession with Edyta Sitar's Laundry Basket Quilts designs!  I learned about her mini log cabin quilt design when I saw one of her "Quilting Window" videos on You Tube.  She also offers it as a stand alone pattern and in her book "Little Handfuls of Scraps".   

I started piecing the blocks for it at the end of  July and the fabric for the block "logs" came straight out of the crumb bins.  The blocks were only two inches finished and the logs started out at 3/4".  I probably needed to block the quilt top when I finished it so the borders are a little wonky.  It didn't help that in order for it to fit the space I want to hang it, I had to make my borders smaller than patterned.  I fussy cut them from the stripe fabric pictured.  Making it with larger borders might have helped me square it up a bit more.  

What was cool was that I found a quilting motif for it in an unusual place. 

 A couple of weeks ago, I read a post by Rebecca on her Cheeky Cognoscenti blog about how she had received a bunch of old Quilters Newsletter Magazine issues from a guild member cleaning out her studio.  She had even found a solution to a piecing problem she was having in one of them.  I commented that I still love my QNM issues even though the magazine ceased publication back in 2016.  I have an almost complete collection of them and often find new things of interest or education when I thumb through them.  

It just so happens that the same week I finished the top for this project, I had received an old QNM back issue that I didn't have and found for sale on eBay.  It was a case of perfect timing since the issue from July 1976 (!) had the perfect quilt design for this little mini quilt!  Even better, all the gentle curves in the design meant it could be executed with a walking foot.  The only issue was how to mark it?  I took the "Golden Threads" paper template route although I used regular wrapping tissue paper to make my templates.

This project was another fun little Laundry Basket Quilts diversion and I look forward to getting it hung up and displayed. 


 Next up is my micro-mini version of one of Carrie Nelson's Schnibble quilt designs. 

The original quilt is lap-sized and made from charm squares.  Mine is another mini pieced from the crumb bin starting at the end of  July.  This time I used 1" starting strips and scrap triangles (save those cut offs!).  Working so small, it was a bit of a challenge to sew together and I had to press the seams of the triangle squares and all the rows open.  That allowed it all to lay flatter given the tight confines of the seam allowances after the blocks and rows were stitched together. 

Ironically it was only after I had finished the top that I happened to read a blog post by Janet of the Rogue Quilter blog who is a phenomenal mini quilt maker.  Back in 2016 she made a mini quilt by using 1/2" finished gridded fusible interfacing.  If I had thought of that, it would have saved me a ton of effort!  And wouldn't you know it, I already have some here.  Hmmm, guess that means I have to do another one of these, you know for scientific testing purposes, you understand!  

This one was also quilted with a walking foot, this time using the freezer paper template techniques from Mary Mashuta's "Foolproof Walking Foot Quilting Designs" book.  I used the same technique last year on a baby quilt I made for a relative. 

The "binding" on this one was the backing turned to the front using a tool:  

"All In A Days Work"

Back in June, I had set up some hand work projects to work on while recovering from surgery.  I had started a wool piece that's been a "Hussy" (HSY = Haven't Started Yet) project for years.  

Well now it is finished:   The original penny rug pattern by Wooden Spool Designs was designed to finish about 16 inches in diameter.  For my project, I reduced that to 9 inches so it could be used as the header for a holder for my shopping list pads.  

Back in 2015 (which lets you know just how long this HSY has been hanging around!), I saw a similar penny rug design by Bonnie Sullivan called "Sunflower and Chickens".  I loved her idea to have some of the eggs on the tongues have "yolks" and decided to do that with mine as well.  And don't you just love when a plan comes together:  I had the absolutely perfect fabric in my stash to back it with:

I had always planned to make this penny rug design to hang in my kitchen because I have a few other chicken themed pieces in there and have long wanted to add more.  I have an old dry erase board for the grocery lists that has seen better days and I've been trying for a while to figure out a way to replace it.  Now I have it!  I'm thrilled to get this one done and put to use!

"The Purple Pineapple Mug Rug"

Ok, last but not least:  my best friend from high school is a grandma and faced with taking on the duties of homeschooling her kindergarten grandson.  He and her daughter live with her and her daughter works two jobs.  My friend works from home so it was easier for her to take on that task. 

 As have so many other parents during the pandemic, she is forced to learn how to manage her grandson's school days while juggling her own work.  It's an adjustment for everyone, particularly since it's the first structured school experience for her grandson.  From what she tells me, what they study in Kindergarten these days is way more advanced than it was in our day! 

Since she's working so hard to meet the challenges of teaching from home, I wanted to send her a little "pick me up".  I saw these at our local supermarket and just knew she'd love it!

Well, as a quilter if you send a mug, 'ya gotta send a mug rug right?  In a recent Skype chat with another friend of ours, she mentioned she liked purple so I rummaged through the stash and pulled as many purple fabrics as I could.  But what to make?  I've made a few mug rugs featuring inspirational panels from a June Tailor kit I have and still had some left so I started there.  

The kit has patterns to use with the panels but none would allow me to use as many fabrics as I wanted to, Lol!!  So I went looking for another design that could accommodate the panel AND a generous fabric pull.  As I was reading blogs,  I read about someone making a Pineapple quilt and I thought, that just might be the ticket!  Particularly since I knew I had this:  

Very early in my quilting journey, I wanted to make a Pineapple quilt.  Back then, most were patterned to be made by paper piecing the blocks.  I did start one using that method and quickly found that to be very tedious and that project is still a UFO (but will have its day in the sun again one day).

BTW, This pattern is in the June 2000 issue of QNM.

Eventually, I found out about the Pineapple Rule by the Possibilities/Great American Quilt Factory ladies Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith.  The sales pitch was that you could make Pineapple blocks without having to paper piece them.  When I got the ruler, I immediately made a test block.  That "orphan block" eventually became a journal cover.

Unfortunately, I haven't used that tool since -- that is until now!  Their method uses 1-1/2" strips.  Normally the block would start with a 2-1/2" square but the June Tailor panel I was using is 4-1/2" square.  No matter, that just meant less rounds of strips to sew to get to the 12" finished size!  

I kept this one simple: I only had four light fabrics so used one in each of those rounds.  I placed the medium and dark fabrics scrappy throughout the block.  Then it was a simple pillow turn finish (no binding!)  and some simple stitch in the ditch and stitching down the center of the logs and it was ready to be mailed out!

I  still have two AQS BOM blocks to finish up for September and I had another BOM project I had hoped to work on.  I guess they will instead be early October projects!

Friday, September 11, 2020

BOMS Away: Still Playing Catch-up


So last month's quilting fervor has subsided as September has started.  While I need to still finish up the mini quilts, I also wanted to stay on track with catching up on all the BOM block projects.  To that end:

The September block for the Joann Countryside Cottage BOM is done.

For the AQS Twilight Flurries BOM:

I finished the two remaining blocks (#2 and #9) for August (the first two can be seen here).

And made the first of four for September (#11).  I've already picked out the fabrics for the next block.  So I expect, at least for now, to stay on track for the month and make one block a week.  Oh, I also need to cut some of the scraps from these for the Spiderweb Tree Skirt blocks.  Then it's on to other projects!

Linking up with Lynette over at What A Hoot! Quilts

Monday, August 31, 2020

August Recap: What A Whirlwind!

In July I made my way back to the sewing machine and then in August, I amped it up a notch.  Well, maybe two notches, Lol!  So much tackled, a few things started and an important finish.  I'm hoping to approach September just a little less frenzied.

First off, my priority for the month had been to finish work on some zigzag machine applique while I still had Rhubye, my Singer 401 in the sewing machine cabinet.  I had hesitated working on the applique at the end of July because for some reason, I was under the impression that I had never done that on this machine before.  I wanted to check the stitch width and how stitched units that are layered underneath other units looked.  So  I did a scrappy test block first.... 

....and when that went fine then did the center applique for "Esther's Garden Box", a Kim Diehl "What Nots Club" pattern. 

I had purchased the "What Nots" kit to provide some extra fabrics for yet another Quarantine project I have brewing.  The good news was that I was able to get what I needed and will still be able to make up the whole kit project as well.  

With that successfully done, I then FINALLY stitched down the stars and word appliques for the "Hope" Quilt Along QOV top I finished back in June.

It was only after that I was reminded that I had actually done machine applique on this machine before!  Back in January of last year, I made a baby quilt for my DH's cousin and appliqued the child's name on it.  Yeesh!  My quilting memory must be shot because of this pandemic!  Or maybe it's just a side effect of project overload.

I was also hoping to get back on track with my BOM projects.  I  managed to bring the blocks for the Joann BOM up to date.  The Joann's were the easiest to do because they are pre-cut so made great leader/enders for other projects worked on this month.  They are now up to date through August.

I only got two of the four AQS BOM blocks I wanted to work on done.  Cutting scraps from the AQS blocks, I also got a few more Spider web units for the tree skirt made up too.

 In order to catch up on the AQS blocks, I need to make four blocks each for August - November to bring me back up to date.  I'm going to try to get the other two August blocks done by the end of this week and then attempt to stay on track for the rest of September. 

Having done Edyta Sitar's Mystery 2020 QAL back in May, I am now officially in a Laundry Basket Quilts obsessive phase!  I am loving everything LB I see to the point that I have not one, not two but three projects planned using the scraps from all the blue fabrics I  purchased for the AQS project!  It would have only been two except that I saw another of her quilts that is in her book "Handful of Scraps" and wanted to add it to the Bucket List.  Just my luck,  I found someone selling a copy of that book on eBay along with Edyta's "Patches of Blue" book at a "couldn't pass it up" price.  I shouldn't have been surprised when the books arrived, to fall in love with some of the Blue and White projects in the second book.  A real problem when it's the color theme for this year's Christmas decorating and the AQS project.  So the third project got added from that book.

But it didn't stop there!  The plan is to work on all the blue and white projects through the Fall and finish up before the holidays.  But the LBQ obsession could not be quenched and called for more immediate fulfillment.  What to make?  How about something small?  Well, I've also been dying to make a log cabin quilt.  That fire was stoked after using my Log Cabin die to cut the strips for the borders of Edyta's mystery quilt.  Then one day I came across her video for her little "Lidia" quilt.  Perfect! 

Even better,  I've been establishing a new mini quilt display space so making this would help fill it.  However, the pieces for it were so small I didn't need to use my stash of log cabin strips,  I could pull and cut what I needed from my overflowing "Crumbs" bins.  Another bonus!  

After joyously rooting around in the Crumbs, what should I see on the web but a Carrie Nelson "Schnibbles" pattern named "Gertie".  Who can resist a Schnibble?  It's  designed to use charmpacks for a lap quilt but I realized if I downsized it and used even more "Crumb" bits to make it, I'd get another little mini for the display space.  So this happened:

The blocks for Lidia are pieced and the border print is picked out.  My border will be smaller than Edyta's in order for it to fit the space where I want to display it.  All the HST Gertie bits are pieced and background squares cut so now I just have to sew it all together.

It was at this point that  I could FINALLY swap out the 401 for a long deserved rest and swap in "Nova" the Brother 1500 mid-arm.  I thought it was going to be for trying to FINALLY  quilt one of my own projects but nope!  The pandemic curve has flattened greatly here in NY and things are opening up more and more.  So it shouldn't have been a surprise to get a call from the troop leader of the Girl Scout troop we had worked with back in December and January.  They were setting up a meeting and she wanted the quilt made from the finished blocks.  Yikes!  I had gotten the top, backing and label prepared back in March right  before we went into quarantine.  As a result, I held off doing the quilting -- or more honestly, switched my focus to mask making and all the quarantine quilt alongs and personal project inspiration that came in.

However, I was more than happy to have a motivation to move something to a finish and out of my quilt space.  So I decided on the final binding choice (picked from an assortment of fabrics that had been purchased for the EPP workshop I did in February) and got to work on that.

The backing fabric is actually 4-H fabric.

I quilted it much simpler than I originally planned.  I limited it to stitching in the ditch around the blocks and the only free-motion done was around the hearts in the fussy-cut sashing squares.  There was a lot of hand work to be done though:  Although I attached the binding completely by machine (sewn to the front and stitched in the ditch to tack it down in the back), I needed to hand stitch two 3-D applique motifs that were applied on top of the sashing and also tack down some of the motifs and trims that had been attached to the blocks so that they stay secured as the quilt is handled.  I also sewed on a hanging sleeve on the back since part of the original plans for the quilt was to make it so the troop could carry it as a banner in a parade.  

So the good news is that the straight stitch only machine now in the cabinet means I can quilt big quilts but still be able to piece things.  I'm hoping there can be a few more quilted finishes for September even as I continue to work on catching up on the BOMs and piecing some more quarantine projects.  Add to all of that two national political conventions and a couple of hurricanes and it really was a whirlwind of a month!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

And Now For Something Completely Different: My First Three Quilts

Last year, Pat Sloan participated in a quilt along series with the Fat Quarter Shop called "The Ultimate Beginner Quilt".  To  kick things off,  Pat and the other designers showed their first quilts --- check out her post here if you'd like to see hers and access links to all the designer's first quilts.  Today, in Pat's YouTube Quilt Challenge/Topics video she is again asking her viewers to share their first quilt.  I don't have all of my early quilts posted here on the blog --- up to now I had only posted a few things as far back as 2007.  I figured I might as well start correcting that by adding my own first quilt story.

While I made my first rotary cut in 2002, my relationship with quilting actually started decades before.  In 1979, an aunt let me "borrow" a booklet she had recently purchased.

I don't remember what it was about that booklet that appealed to me so much but it did.  At that time, I was graduating high school and was primarily a clothing sewer with occasional other craft projects in crochet, knitting, embroidery or macrame.  However, I remember sitting in her kitchen and pouring over it, completely drawn to the images in it.  Back then, I thought Quilts were only made for beds.  So I guess the first appeal of the booklet was that it contradicted that idea --- it showed that you could make other quilted items, like pillow covers, hanger covers, bibs, table mats and even a skirt!  

My aunt said I could take the book home since she didn't see herself making anything in it any time soon.  We lived near each other so if she wanted it back at any point, it would have been easy for me to return it to her.  Well, I guess she forgot about it because she never asked for it back!  Over the years (no, decades!), I kept it with my sewing books and magazines where it stayed through two later moves.  I would occasionally pull it out and look through it but didn't make any specific plans to make anything out of it.

Then in 2001, the year I left my job to be home full-time with my two sons, I happened on the TV show "Simply Quilts" on HGTV.  

This new encounter with quilts really blew my mind because not only did it reiterate the fact that "Quilt" did not only mean making a "Bed Covering" but that even a quilt made for a bed could be hung on the wall like art!  Since I had never read the project instructions in the Simplicity booklet closely, I had never noticed that it also said that the fabric for the projects could be purchased (What? Quilts aren't only made from scraps?!?) or made completely on a sewing machine.  Simply Quilts taught me all of that and that rotary cutters (in contrast to the scissors I used for clothing making), specialty rulers and piecing shortcuts were the "tools of the day" to make traditional blocks simple or easier to make.  

The whole process was immediately fascinating!  I watched the show every weekday (and back then it aired twice a day) for a whole summer before seeking out my first quilt books.....

.... and a couple of months later, I went to my first quilt exhibit.....

However, it took until the start of the next year to work up the confidence to make my first quilt!   

My first project came from -- where else -- the Simply Quilts show.  The episode was #605 titled "Quilting 101".  While I still have (and occasionally watch) the loads of videos (on VHS!!!) that I recorded of the show, that is one of the few episodes I don't have on tape, darn it!  Marianne Fons showed viewers how to make a four block quilt called "Ribbons" (and I didn't know then just how famous she was until much, much later) .  It was constructed of Friendship Star blocks and pieced to make the blocks tesselate.  At the time it seemed like a simple (all HSTs) yet visually complex design which I thought was the perfect challenge for a first project. 

Since I didn't know if I was going to like this "quilting thing", I didn't want to buy fabric for it if I could help it --- although even then, as a fabriholic from way back, I was very tempted!  So I dug through my clothing fabric stash to see if I had any cottons.  I found three that just happened to coordinate even though they hadn't been purchased to do so.  The colors were a little out of the ordinary (turquoise, orange, light blue and beige/tan) and I needed a fourth fabric to complete the design.  I found that in a strange place!

I had learned from Simply Quilts that in addition to hundreds of quilting books there were also many quilt related websites.  On one of those I saw a tip that said if you were new to quilting, on a budget and lived in a city with a garment center (check, check and check!), you might be able to source free fabric from cutting room discards.  

Fortunately for me, my husband was at that time a package driver for UPS and was often assigned to the garment district in Manhattan.  I asked if he had ever seen them throw out fabric and if so, could he get some.  When he asked me what to get, I told him to just bring me anything that didn't look like suit fabric, since I knew he could distinguish what that was.  I figured I could sort through whatever he bought home and see what I could find that would be useful.  A few days later a huge black garbage bag of stuff was deposited into my then very small quilt space!  While 90% of what was in it was of no use to me, I found a bunch of things that were and that I have put to use over the years.  Best of all, the perfect fabric to coordinate with my own fabric stash pull was in the bag!  The poly floral print that came from that bag was the last puzzle piece I needed to create the quilt.

The only fabric I purchased was the batting and the binding/backing which was a Jinny Beyer print.  I got it from the City Quilter store (no longer a brick and mortar store but they are still selling online) which was my first foray into a dedicated quilt shop.  I was very proud of that little quilt and thrilled that one of the lessons I learned from the Reader's Digest book --- about varying print scale within a quilt design --- got successfully put to use in this project.  I hung this one over my night stand.

Well since I made one to hang over mine, of course I had to make one to hang over my husband's night stand.  That was my third quilt:

This one was the product from Lesson One of Gai Perry's book "Color From the Heart" (1999).  It was a lesson in random color selection.  Those little squares were from fabric sample mailings I used to get from a mail order fabric supplier in the clothing sewing days.  That quilt was updated in 2016 to become the background for a (hand) embroidery project and currently hangs in our downstairs bathroom.

Note that the backing/binding for this quilt is more of the same tan solid fabric I used in the first "Ribbons" quilt --- see, from the beginning I learned to use up my leftovers and scraps!  The plaid border for that quilt came from (what I now know were) a full set of plaid fabric samples from the Garment Center Discards bag.  The rest of those plaids were later used to make  this quilt in 2008:

It's the "Point of No Return" design by the Country Threads ladies.  It was in the very first issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine which I had purchased as a back issue on eBay.  I still love Connie Tesene and Mary Etherington's designs and have since purchased more of their patterns and books.  I also used just a bit of the leftovers of one of the plaids from that project to make the tackle box applique on a gift quilt in 2014 for my neighbors who like to go fishing

To complete the record, since I've shown you my first and third quilt, let me present my second:

This little mini was also made that first year for an aunt who collects dolls.  When I started quilting,I had vowed to only be a machine quilter.  As noted earlier, one of the big things that had attracted me about quilting as I watched Simply Quilts was that although people still did do hand stitching, it was possible to make quilts totally by machine.  

My favorite clothing making story was when I learned that you could hem pants and skirts (which back in the day was half of what I made) completely by machine.  I was taught that task had to be done by hand so finding out you could hem by machine was the greatest day of my clothing sewing life!  For me, hemming was like what hand binding is for quilters --- the one thing that could cause an almost completely finished project to come to a compete halt and sit unfinished for weeks!  

So when I learned about quilting, I swore I would never 1) Hand Applique, 2) Hand Piece and 3) Hand Quilt.  However, I saw and appreciated the beauty, versatility and skill of applique so was excited when I found this book:

I wanted desperately to try it and then as now, it helped to have a project with a definite purpose to push me to start something.  In this case it was realizing that since my Mom would travel to visit my Aunt (her sister-in-law and best friend from childhood) every Fall in Virginia, I could make something for her to take to her.  Well, I didn't finish it in time for it to be ferried by my Mom as courier but I did  mail it to my Aunt when it was done.  This was not the last doll quilt I made for her either:  I made two more in 2010 which can be seen here and I was just thinking this year that it may be time to make her another one.  Of course I also had to eat my words that year when I did finally succumb to all the hand worked beauty I saw around the web and learned to Hand Applique and Hand Quilt.  I climbed over the last hand work mountain when I was forced (because of ailing sewing machines) to Hand Piece a project in 2015!

Lastly it should be noted that I did finally make one of the quilt projects from that early Simplicity booklet.   It was a quilt for the second grandchild of the Aunt that gave me the book!  

The booklet version:

What I made:

You can read more about that quilt in this post.  So that's it for the earliest of my early quilts.  Hopefully over time I will get a few more early projects posted and extend the story of my "quilt journey"!