Thursday, May 24, 2018

(Finally) Checking In For May!

Seems like lately the only bogging I get to do is to periodically check in to let you know I'm still alive!  Unfortunately since the last check in, life has intervened in a big way which means my mind has not been on quilting the way I would have liked.

It started with a call from a very old friend (we're talking high school BFF) who was facing a serious health issue and was gathering her support crew.  Initially, tentative plans were made to travel to provide support but then it was decided to hold off until a later time when she might make better use of those of us coming from out of state.  Unfortunately for me, in the time between I was confronted with my own health issue!  So the last few weeks have been spent on assessments, researching information and determining treatment plans.  Now that all of that has been finalized (and the good news is that for now my own treatments won't get in the way of being able to travel and support my friend when needed), I'm trying to get my life at least a little bit back to normal.  For me that includes continuing work for the start of gardening season at our community garden and (for the purposes of this blog) quilting!

When I last checked in, I had just gotten ready to make good on my plans to focus on the first two of the "Bucket List" projects I wanted to complete for this year.  Once all the illness news hit, I admit that it threw me for a loop and made concentrating on those projects too hard to do.  So instead, when I could steal a few moments (or really needed them for maintaining sanity), I went back to "mindless sewing" to fill the time.  Believe it or not, for me that was tackling the top for Bonnie Hunter's "On Ringo Lake" mystery. 

I've spent what little quilt time I've had getting all the finished blocks and sashing units up on my design wall and then periodically starting to sew the rows of blocks and sashing together.  My goal was to try to have this top finished before I had to travel.  It was good "bit by bit" mindless sewing at a time when I needed it.

Before I had learned of my own health issue, I had initially anticipated that the trip to help my friend might be for an extended stay.  So I planned to take my Featherweight machine with me and wanted to gather up some projects I could easily work on while away.  After finishing the "En Provence" top, I had already started thinking about making yet another Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt --- admittedly inspired by Maggie Fellow over at her "Making A Lather" blog and reading about her ongoing Quiltville Mystery Quilt Challenge.  The next mystery I wanted to make was "Old Tobacco Road" which was one of Bonnie's earlier ones from 2008.  I had downloaded the instructions back when she originally ran the mystery but it can be found today on her website on her "Free Patterns" page (scroll all the way down to the bottom for the early "Mystery Quilt" patterns).

I started cutting bricks for it as I cleaned up the leftover brown fabrics used for "Ringo Lake" when the blocks for that mystery were finished.  Then I cut and added bricks and larger squares for cutting setting triangles in other dark colors from stash and even found a potential border fabric.

"Tobacco Road" also needs scrappy light and dark 2" (unfinished) squares and triangles to make four patch units and pinwheel blocks so I set to scrounging parts for those units as well.  I was able to go through my bin where I toss scrap triangle cuts and HSTs and put together a quart size baggie of a good selection of  triangles and HSTs.  From my Scrap Users precut bins and from stash I bundled up light and dark 2" strips that I can strip piece together and sub-cut to make square pairs for four patch units and use the Easy Angle ruler (which I will also take with me) if I need to cut more triangles for the project later. 

So that is now all packed up and ready to go when the time comes.

Back in December another friend of mine had asked if I could make a desk mat for her office.  I didn't have time for it back then but now since we'll be traveling together to support our mutual friend when the time comes, I decided to cut strips for that as well to take along.  She likes purple and I had a stash of those fabrics as well as bright greens and creams left over from making Bonnie's previous mystery "En Provence".   My plan was to make a mini version of the "Moscato Di Asti" quilt pattern for her mat since she likes that type of wine in real life!  So I gathered 1-1/2" strips for all the colors the design called for and set those up for traveling too.

Well this sure is a vote for having multiple projects or ideas for projects going at one time! I'm glad I had these diversions around at a time when life prevented me from being able to give focus to more complicated projects like the wholecloth hand quilting or continuing work on my Double Wedding Ring.  While I'm a little disappointed to have to put those and my other "Bucket List Goals" on hold for a while, it'll be that much more satisfying to get back to them when life allows. 

Well that catches me up!  Don't know how soon I'll be able to check back in again but at the very least, I'll definitely try do so again at some point in June.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Checking in for the Start of April

Can you believe it!  I went to a gardening conference on Saturday and spent the day in our community garden on Sunday getting to see things like this coming in.....

...only to then start off TODAY like this!

Prince was right:  Sometimes  it DOES snow in April!

Fortunately, by noon it looked like this....

Temps are expected to stay up and we're suppose to get rain for the next two days so it'll probably be ALL gone by then! 

Admittedly, since my mind has been on the start of the gardening season, it hasn't been snowing progress in the quilt studio.  While I got the wholecloth basting finished last month, I still haven't put it in the hoop so there's that to do this week.

I'm hoping to be able to pile the bottom of the quilt into that bin while I'm stitching so it won't be all over the floor while I'm working.

I had planned to work on my DWR as my other "Bucket List" project for the start of the year. 

Rachel Hauser of the "Stitched In Color" blog has been hosting a "Big Bed Quilt-Along" that is supposed to end this month and the DWR was supposed to be my project for that.  I thought I'd have already gotten started on it by now but there's still a chance to focus on it this month and at least get the top done by month's end (she said, fingers crossed).  I had finished the piecing of the center back in August 2012 (although looking back, I realize I never posted about that!) and cut out the borders back in April 2015.  Now I need to add the applique onto them. 

In anticipation of the applique work, I decided to treat myself and sign up for Sue Pellan's "My Magical Garden" BOM.  For the blocks in it, she is using her Leaves Galore and Hearts and More templates.

The first two blocks of the BOM were just posted this week and I'll see if I can learn how to use her rulers to create the leaves for the DWR borders.  After I signed up, I bought the grippers for the rulers that she recommends and a couple of small packages of Mistyfuse.  While I'll use the fusible for some test leaves, I don't plan to fuse the leaves to the DWR.  There are leaves already appliqued to the center of the top that were machine appliqued using invisible thread.  Since I don't have working zigzag machines at the moment, I can't do that so I'll have to hand applique the borders ones for now. 

I've had the "Leaves" rulers for years, having purchased them after I learned to hand applique because I thought I would do a lot of those types of projects.  I've done a few but not as many as anticipated and to compound things I now have a lot of Accuquilt leaf dies.  However, I'd still like to learn how to use the rulers since Sue also has some interesting alternative designs that can be made with them like gift boxes and applique bows. 

At this point I also don't plan to make the whole BOM -- just a few units or blocks to get the hang of the rulers.  I am budgeting to purchase the Hearts and More rulers in June since the BOM won't be covering use of them until then.  

The goal of just getting the top finished is a good one for now since I'll need to get my other machines fixed if I'm going to eventually machine quilt this quilt as desired.  With the weather finally clearing, a trip across the bridge to Queens to have the repairs done is far more likely to happen.  My DH will be on vacation again in a few weeks so maybe I can plan to bring them in then.

Well, back to clearing the cutting table and organizing things (yet again) so I can finish making my project plans for the month!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Checking In For National Quilting Day!

Before the day is over, I want to wish a very happy National Quilting Day to everyone!
Since this is my first post for March, I also wish you a happy National Craft Month as well!

Image courtesy

If you are looking for fun quilty things to do for the day, you can check out the Quilt Alliance's home page -- they have links to free pattern sites for many industry companies.  I particularly look forward to trying Anita Grossman Solomon's "Make It Simpler" Hexagon cutting shortcut for 10" squares.  I think I might be able to make it even simpler using freezer paper.  We'll see!  I loved using Anita's technique for her Anita's Arrowhead blocks a few years back so like having an opportunity to try another of her shortcut block cutting techniques.

I started off my NQD celebration by taking a page out of the blogging book of LeeAnn Paylor at the Not Afraid of Color blog and making an "I Like" list of the things I enjoy so much about quilting:

I like Quilting #1: Utility

Brrr! quilt and coordinating neck roll.
I love that quilts can be pretty but also useful.   

I like Quilting #2:  Creativity

 Always a favorite of mine:  High Strung +2
Even with basic designs there also comes the chance to play around with layouts or add design motifs in order to "add a little something extra" to the things you make or to completely reimagine them or create something new.  There are no "shoulds" or limits --- whatever you can think up, there's usually a way to bring it to life.

I like Quilting #3:  Community

With so many blogs to read, social media to follow, linkups to join, guilds and sewing groups to meet with, podcasts to listen to, Pinterest boards to ogle  -- any way that you'd like to interact with like minded people, there is a way to do it.  Many times it doesn't even require you to leave your own home!

I like Quilting #4:  The History

Block purchased at a NY Historical Society exhibit.

I love seeing antique quilts in museums and quilt show exhibits.  I can read about the background of fabric and quilt style trends in books and on websites like Barbara Brackman's Material Culture and Civil War Quilts sites.  In fact, Barbara just did a post listing exhibits across the country that will be featuring antique quilts over the next few months.

I like Quilting #5:  The Goodies

This is the prize package I won from Meg Cox the Quilt Journalist from a giveaway offered in her January newsletter.   With prizes received from Meg (the True Blue charm pack), Victoria Findlay-Wolfe (a FQ bundle of her new "Parts Dept" fabric line) and Jane Dunnewold (her Creative Strength Training book had been on my wish list!), I think I got something better than the leprechaun's pot 'o gold this month! 

 My celebration activity for today is to continue what I've been working on all month:  I've been steadily (if not consistently) working on basting my wholecloth project.  Basting the high loft poly batting for the trapunto  layer took a lot longer than I had expected.  With my larger electronic machines still out of commission, I wasn't able to baste it the "tradtional" way by using wash-away thread and stitching it by machine.  I say traditional in quotes because the truly traditional way to do trapunto is to stuff cord, thread or yarn in through the back of the quilt after the quilting is finished.  Basting the first of two layers of batting with wash away thread behind the motifs you want to make "pop" is actually the modern approach to trapunto.  Since I've been sewing on my Featherweight this year and its throat space is small, I had to do the trapunto basting by hand.  I finally finished it all earlier this week.

It's also hard to get a good shot of all that white-on-white fabric and batting!  Now the quilt is layered with the second layer of cotton batting and I'm hand basting the three quilting layers together. 

Once that's done, this baby will be headed into the hoop for what I'm estimating will be the rest of the year.  Or at least I hope I can get it done that fast -- I found a few other examples on the web of people who had completed one of these preprinted tops and they have taken as long as four years to complete!

I hope you enjoy your National Quilting Day activities and any other projects you may have lined up to work on for the rest of this crafty month!

Monday, February 26, 2018

En Provence and Ringo Lake Update and Moving On To the Wholecloth

Joining in again for another edition of "Moving It Forward Monday" over at Em's Scrapbag:

In my last post, I thought I was done with the updates on my En Provence project since I had finished the top.  However, I had plans for one more touch to add to it and wound up getting it done a lot faster than I thought I would.

One of the quirks of this particular project is that when I started pulling fabrics for it, I found that I had at least one polka dot fabric for each of the colors called for in the quilt.  When I went shopping for additional project fabrics, I found even more so using polka dots became a sub-theme of the project.  Ironically when it came time to choose the magenta "focus fabric" I once again found a polka dot fabric for that too!  So needless to say polka dots abound in this top!

As I got to the part of the mystery where we had to piece the neutral borders for the top, I thought it might be cute to add "polka dots" to it as well.  My original plan was to do that by swapping in a dark square in some of the four patches that make up the last border but that didn't balance out visually.  So instead I decided to applique circles on the border as my "polka dots" instead.

As I found out in a previous project, an Accuquilt  GO! cutter makes short work of prepping circles for applique since you can cut both the fabric:

...and either fusible or (since I planned to do this by hand) templates (out of doubled freezer paper) for turning the circles.  Just cut a smaller circle for the templates than you do for the fabric.

As seen in the picture, I also used the templates from the set of  Karen Buckley Perfect Circles I have to turn the circles.  Since there were only five templates of the size I needed in her set, I cut the extra freezer paper templates so I could prep more circles at a time.

So now the neutral border has polka dots too!

Also this week, I finally finished up the last of the blocks needed for the "On Ringo Lake" mystery -- Woo hoo! 

Next step for this one will be to put these blocks up on the design wall with the units we had to piece for sashing and play around with the layout.  If you check out some of the linkups for this mystery, you will see that people have employed some creative placements of the sashing units --- and not always as sashing!

However before I get to that, I'll be focusing this week on setting up my wholecloth project.  I've finally decided on the additional stitch elements I want to add and have made templates (in freezer paper again) for those so have to trace them out onto the top.

Since the whole cloth is one of the big "Bucket List" projects for this year and I'm way behind on getting start on it, I'll be taking this week to focus on that.

There's so much more to see over at Em's Scrapbag so why not go and check out what everyone has been up to?

Monday, February 19, 2018

En Provence and Ringo Lake Update: One Down, One To Go!

This will be the last time "En Provence" will be part of the Moving It Forward Monday link up for a while because....'s a top!  Finally got it done on Friday and it's a big'un!!  Right now it's topping out at 123" square so even with shrinkage when I quilt it, this one will be generous on my queen-size bed.  Well, it's done in terms of the mystery --- I still plan to "add a little something" to that second neutral border.  I've also got ideas (and leftover fabric) to start on the backing but that too will probably wait.

I also added to the "Ringo Lake" block stack during the week but didn't sew anything this weekend so have some catching up to do.

 I was also supposed to make decisions on the wholecloth this weekend but I think I was in "flimsy focus withdrawal" so took the weekend off from doing anything quilting related.  I've got a few shows on the DVR to watch so once I post this, I'll be heading back to the machine!

You can find out what other projects where nudged a little further along last week over at Em's Scrapbag blog for Moving It Forward Monday!

Monday, February 12, 2018

En Provence and Ringo Lake Update: More Progress!

Once again, I am joining the crew over at Em's Moving It Forward Monday!
 As before, it's been "all Bonnie Hunter, all the time" around here in terms of the projects I've been working on.  While the stitching lately hasn't been as consistent as in previous weeks, what was accomplished on the days I did sew helped me hit two milestones.  For the "En Provence" mystery, I've got the center of the top all sewn together:
Now there's only a few rows of border units to be sewn and this top will be finished! 
For "Ringo Lake", I've got half of the total number of blocks needed sewn up:
It's gratifying to see the block stack growing, this one could also be a top by the start of Spring. 
At one point I needed something else to leader/ender to push those other two through so I pulled out some strips and was able to finish another Scrappy Trips block!
These have been fun to make and I look forward to the day when this one can become the main project.
I had planned to only sew a few of the mystery blocks a day but once the "En Provence" rows started coming together, I was anxious to see the center get done so pushed forward to getting a whole row done on those days when I did get to sew.  I have an idea for slightly altering the borders for it so finishing the borders may move a little slower than the rows did.  So once again, I'm hoping to try to finally start on my big 2018 goals.  
Up to now I've been stalled on moving forward with my wholecloth project but have found a resource that seems to have the inspiration I was looking for to help me take it in the direction I want to go.  With any luck, that project will be the subject of next week's "Move It Forward" post.  Fingers crossed! 
Now, I'm going to go check out what other people have been working on all week.  Join me over at Em's Scrapbag and see who's sharing something on today's "Moving It Forward Monday"! 

Monday, January 29, 2018

En Provence and Ringo Lake Update: Blocks on the Wall and the Table

It's another Moving It Forward Monday moment!
I'm linking up once again with everyone over at Em's Scrapbag with the progress from last week.  Fortunately for me, the momentum from the previous weeks held.  This time the work on the 2016-17 Bonnie Hunter mystery "En Provence" took precedence because I really wanted to get the last of the blocks and all vertical sashing units pieced.
 I now have a wall full of wonderfulness!  Now it's on to getting the pieces in the horizontal sashing rows pieced together - that's why they look so off line in the photo. 
As I have throughout the mystery quilt season, I used the block piecing for one mystery quilt as a leader/ender for the other one I'm working on.  Here's the progress on this year's "On Ringo Lake" blocks:
So the good news there is I got a bunch of those blocks done too.  I'm hoping to keep piecing a little of both each day but the work may slow a bit while I squeeze in some other things. 
Now that the block piecing is under control, I'd like to try to also get a start on my big 2018 goals.  My plan for the year was to work on big "Bucket List" projects and I had two I wanted to get started for this quarter but with focusing on the mysteries, I've already used up a month of that time!   Fortunately the first one is a hand work project so I can continue to piece the mystery quilts as I set the hand work project up.
I've  shown you mine, now you can show me yours!  Link up what's been making your machine hum all week over at Em's Scrapbag for some "Moving It Forward Monday" fun!