Thursday, May 23, 2019

Just One Thing

As noted in my previous post, I've had a slow Spring quilt-wise and am trying to get myself back in gear before the Spring and Summer get away from me.  If it's anything like last year, Fall and the holiday season will be here before you know it!

Fortunately for me, Amy Ellis (she of Bloggers Quilt Fest fame) has put out a call for quilters to join her in focusing on "Just One Thing" each week.

Much like the monthly and quarterly finish alongs, this will slow it down even more (for those of us that struggle to just get started or stay on track or FOCUS on their INTENTIONS (eh, hem!).  Amy's twist is to name Just One Thing you want to get done each week.  That doesn't have to be a finish -- it can be moving something along, taking 10 minutes a day to sew on a project, or even just finally picking out the fabrics for a project.  This is perfect for me!  When the year started, I had mapped out my priorites for each month in order to keep track of my INTENTIONS this year (yes, I think if I keep saying it, maybe I'll finally pay attention to them!),

In my planning calendar, May (as well as the rest of the summer) was supposed to be for getting back to my Quilts of Valor Projects.  At the end of last year, I was in discussion with one of the members of my commnity garden who serves on the Executive Board of one of the Building Associations.  She has long wanted me to teach a quilt class after seeing one of the journal covers I made when I attended a journalling workshop we held in the garden a few years ago.

She had shown me the draft of the application for a grant she planned to apply for to help fund the class supplies so it could be offered for free.  Taking a look at the application requirements for the types of events that can be funded, I realized it was also a perfect potential funding source for an idea I've long had for starting an annual Quilts of Valor drive in our community.

However, first I wanted to approach the local VFW about awarding some quilts this year during their annual Veterans Day ceremonies in November.  Depending on how open they are to the idea and if I could get their support in promoting a bigger event in the future, I would then work on planning a larger sew-in event for next year.

I already have two tops made (which can be seen here and here) but wanted to make a third one and get all three quilted by September which is when I would reach out to the group to gauge their interest and if intrigued I could then work on applying for the grant at the end of the year for submission next January.

My One Goal for last week was to pick out the third project from the rather large stash of ideas for Quilts of Valor that I have accumulated:

Yeah, that's a pretty big pile of ideas!  Before I even got deep into the pile, I managed to find seven right off the bat that interested me either in terms of the techniques to make them or that I already had some fabric to start them off with.

This week's challenge is to make the final choice.  I'm hoping to pick something relatively easy.  While I'd love to get a top done by the end of the month, I'm guessing getting the piecing started by month's end might be a more realistic and probable goal.  That's it!  Well not really:  I also need to (again) clean off my sewing and cutting tables just in case I actually might want to, uh, sew!  But the focus is picking the project.  However, I'm sure if I can get that going, other good things will happen along the way too.

Amy is running this primarily through Instagram but says you can email your submissions in too.  I've long stayed away from social media but always enjoyed particpating in and viewing Amy's twice a year Bloggers Quilt Fest.  She moved the Spring edition of that to Instagram three years ago so maybe this is just the thing to entice me to try that platform.  If you want to check out this year's edition that was held back in March, check out the links for it here.  I've already caved on setting up a Pinterest account, so why not go whole hog?  Well, we'll see if that happens.  Right now, it's more important to get this project selected!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Update on April and May's Doings

Gee, I didn't get to post at all in April!  Yet during that month and as this one got underway, INTENTION has been on my mind --- I just can't say FOCUS has been at the heart of it!  I can blame some of that on the gardening season which is in full swing and the fact that I've spent a lot of time at our community garden....

...and setting up the seed and root starts indoors that I should have gotten started at the beginning of  March.

Hmm, that Basil pot on the end needs watering.....

On the quilty front, I've did have a few moments here and there to do a little stitching...

1.  With all the green scraps laying around from the "Emeralds" project (and more on that later), I managed to finish Part 1 of  "Roll, Roll Cotton Boll" which is another of Bonnie Hunter's old mysteries....

....and lucked up on a sale of some perfectly-themed backing fabric for it!

2.  After donating string blocks for Kat Drinkwater's "Covered In Love" quilt charity project at the beginning of the year, I wanted to really make sure I made some blocks for her March/April block call.

The block design was so "Spring-y", it really suited the time of year!  Looking forward to seeing what she wants for her next block call which won't be until July.

3.  In April, I helped a friend host an Afternoon Tea for her Building Association (this was just a small part of the set-up).

I wanted to use this box  I have to hold tea bags at the event.......

......but it's cover is worse for the wear.

My dream has long been to make a quilted piece for the cover that would allow me to try out machine-sewn silk ribbon embroidery.  However, in the meantime, I thought I could maybe piece a little  tea-related mini quilt for it instead.  At first I was going to use designs from Maaike Baker's "Cups and Saucers" book (the link is to the updated edition):

However, then I found a cute online project with even smaller blocks called "Grandma's Tea Party" by Beth at Piece By Number.  I liked the smaller blocks in this one because it would allow me to fit more blocks within the same amount of space.  However, I started too late for these rather intricate paper-pieced units so only got the tea pot done by the day of the event.

The good news was that where the tea box was displayed in the room it sat with the top sitting open so no one was any wiser of the lid's condition.  After the event, I did get a few cup blocks also sewn up.  I had fallen in love with the background print I used -- it reminded me of old-fashiond wallpaper but I think the contrast with the cup prints could have been better.  Even so, they are cute so I want to finish the blocks and the piece up eventually.

Each participant got to keep their place setting from the event.  My friend had picked up special settings for each of us that had helped with all the planning, sourcing, food prep and set-up!   Hmmm, I think making a special mug rug may also be in order.....

As to my other projects?

4.  Wholecoth on Hold

When I finally (after a year's delay) got started on my wholecloth project back in January (!), I thought I was good to go.  But it didn't take long to realize that trying to quilt a queen-size top on the 18" hoop I have wasn't going to work easily.  The hoop has worked great with the mini, wall hanging and lap quilts I've stitched on it before.  However, with this project, when I kept trying to turn the hoop to stitch (I started working from the center), all it did was twist all the rest of the quilt around the base of the hoop.

At that point, I decided that a bigger hoop or maybe even a frame was in order.  I admit I've been awed by the work being done by Karen over at her Quilts...Ect/Karen's Quilting blog as she hand quilts her "Good Fortune" quilt (from the last Bonnie Hunter mystery) so that may have just had some added influence in making this decision!  However, checking the features and prices of various frames and hoops, at first I thought this might not be something I could justify purchasing since I don't do a lot of hand quilting.  However, as always the Quilt Muses look out for me and I managed to snag a used Grace Company no-baste hand quilting frame off of eBay recently for an affordable price.

What I like about this model/style is that it's adjustable to load three different sizes of quilts (baby, lap and queen).  Of course the down side is that now I have to rip out the little bit of stitching I had already done (which fortunately was not that much) and take out the basting so I will be able to load the project onto the frame.  Addtionally, this time around I'll have to work it from one end of the quilt to the other.

 I had also considered getting a Q-Snap frame which would have allowed me to continue to work on my project as is with it already basted.  I admit that I liked the idea that for future projects, using the Grace frame means I can eliminate the basting step completely.  Additionally, the Grace frame can be folded down for storage with the project being worked on still on it.  Even so, while I work on the quilt, I will have to figure out where I'm going to stand it while it's extended to its full queen-size width when I'm not quiliting on it.

While I did find some information about the frame on the company's website, it took a deep search to access it so they have clearly moved away from offering hand quilting frames.  Even Hinterberg which used to be the other big name in hand quilting frames, now only offers a "build your own" kit that provides only the cogs and gears for the rollers with instructions to source/make the actual frame legs and rollers.  Funny, when I started quilting at least half of all quilters still hand quilted.  I know that percentage has dropped over the years due to the advancement of machine quilting techniques and machines.  Does this mean hand quilting as a skill is now going the way of the dodo?

5.  What about Emeralds?

After making up all the blocks back in March, when I put them up on the wall, I was not excited about what I was seeing and even after trying to rearrange things a bit, it took me a while to figure out why.  What I came to realize is that while I had been very attracted to the magazine quilt and had noted the greens used in it, I had not taken into account the ratio of the specific shades and colors of green represented in it.

The majority of greens in the patterned quilt are in the yellow green - olive ranges with a just sprinkling of darker greens among them.  The greens I had pulled from my stash were just the opposite -- the majority were in the dark blue-green range with a just sprinkling of spring, olive and pale greens.  So the visual balance of color in mine is totally different than that of the patterned quilt.  Which makes sense since that's totally reflective of the shaded color palettes I tend to use.

I am still very excited about using the Blendables thread I purchased to quilt this with so I will eventually push forward with it as is.  Fortunately the darker overall tone will also be balanced by the fact that the tan fabrics I had pulled to use for the border setting triangles are of a darker value similar to that of my blocks in contrast to the lighter tan fabric used in the patterned quilt.   So I believe that in the end, the overall color balance of quilt will still be good.

6.  Spring projects:  As usual there are a lot of things I had wanted to work on once Spring hit.  I wanted to make a table runner for my dining room sideboard for Spring, finally get to a Spring Wool Wallhanging that I kitted up years ago and I wanted to finally paint a Spring barn quilt for my terrace (I previously made ones for Summer and Fall).  For May, the plan had been to get back to my Quilts of Valor projects and move them towards finishing.

So of course, at this point the question is "How the Heck Am I Going To Get To It All?!?!?"  Well,  hopefully I have a possible answer to that and I will share that in future posts!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Happy National Quilting Day!

It's the third Saturday in March which means it's:

Of course for me, every day is National Quilting Day but to let the uninitiated join in on the fun, all the big companies in the industry have free project patterns available to inspire people looking to get started on their own quilt journey.  Check out all the links on the Quilt Alliance page which will connect you to all the fun stuff that's out there. 

I'm going to "continue in the direction I'm heading" so on my design wall today is..... Emerald's project still in progress.   I've been -- much more slowly than planned -- working on this for the last two weeks.  I had hoped to get this done as my homage to St. Patricks's Day however, since that's tomorrow, I guess I have to accept that for this year it will just be a homage in spirit!  Work had slowed on it while my DH was home on "stay-cation".  Having him around all the time meant I got distracted away from quilting so we could run errands and tend to "Honey-Do" tasks.  He works nights and had put in some long hours in the weeks before going on vacation so we also had a pile of stuff on the DVR to catch up on and I admit to not doing much sewing while watching during this time.

Fortunately quilt projects are like that:  you accomplish them the same way you eat an elelphant -- bit by bit.  Just know that no elelphants were harmed during the making of this quilt!  Funny, during this period we did catch up on a lot of episdoes for all the great series about zoos that are on TV now:  The Zoo (about the NYC Zoos and Aquarium) and The Secret Life of the Zoo (about the Chester Zoo in Great Britain) on the Animal Planet channel and Secrets of the Zoo  (about the Columbus Zoo in Ohio) on Nat Geo Wild so we did SEE some elephants!

As you can see the wall is full, however this is not all the blocks to be placed.  I still have one more column and two more rows of parts made up that I need to add.  Once I get what's already on the wall visually balanced,  I'll start sewing it all together in order to make space for the rest to be added.  So the goal now is to have the top finished by the end of  the coming week.

Earlier this week, I also watched a great webinar hosted by Sulky with MJ Kinman, the woman who makes those beautiful Gem quilts

It was called "Wild-Motion Quilting" and basically she uses an all over flame (or leaf) stitch to create all over texture on her intricately template pieced quilts.  She calls it a low stress form of stitching that creates a "screen" that lets the stitching take a back seat to the quilt design while corralling in the excess fullness that can sometimes build up in a top as it's quilted.  These webinars are available even after they air live so click on the Sulky link to access it if you are interested. 

What I got out of it in particular was that after the webinar, Sulky had a thread sale and I was able to pick up some 30 wt Blendables spools that I now intend to use to quilt this top. 

I've long wanted to branch out to stitching more often with decorative threads so jumped at the chance to get some.  They arrived today and the colors look good so I'm going to have to see if this means I'll have to change my original plans of doing a "designed" pieced back for this quilt.  Becasue of how I want to quilt this now, it may be better to just make a randomly pieced or a traditional single fabric back.  In the background you can also see some potential patterns I've collected in the hopes of also making a runner or mat to use up some of the green scraps! 

I'd better get back to work since this project also pushed aside some other projects I was supposed to also be moving forward.  I need to put this one to bed so I can get back to all of my intentions for the rest!  Whether you are new to quilting or an old hand, enjoy your Quilting today and every day hereafter!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Stringing Along for Charity with Humble Quilts!

Lori of the Humble Quilts blog has opened up another Stringalong link up this week.  Along with a project I've been working on for a while, I also made some new blocks this weekend.  Recently, I was checking out Myra's "Finished or Not Fridays" linkup and saw a post by Kat over at Kat and Cat Quilts about her "Covered In Love" charity quilt drive.  

Kat puts out calls for block donations or collects UFO tops to be sent to her to be made into finished quilts to give comfort to terminally ill patients in hospices in east Texas.  Turns out for January and February she was calling for string blocks!  So once again, someone is making strings the thing this year!  I donated string blocks to a different cause a while back (a good while as it turns out -- it was in 2012), so it was nice to participate in something like this again.

Kat decided to do a string variation block this round:  she is asking for 12-1/2" blocks to be made with a red corner (between 1-1/2 inches and 3 inches) and the strings added around it half log cabin style.  Easy enough!  After checking with her to make sure there was still time to make a submission,  I pulled a square from my Scrap Users box and cut up a charm square to get a few more.  However, then I found some really short red pieces among the string stash and decided to cut them down to squares and added those to the scrap square and one of the charm square subcuts so I had a variety of centers.  Up to now, I've only had the chance to work with neutral strings for my "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" project so this was an opportunity to pull out some of the colored strings.

Mind you, this is only a small sampling taken from the larger bag I have!  I've managed to make up four blocks although I realize that going forward I need to stash more of the wider strings.

After I started making the donation blocks, I figured I might as well also make a few more blocks for "Cotton Boll" right along with them:

I'm going to send the four variation blocks and make a cash donation to the cause as well.  That is because the decision to make the blocks jogged my memory of something: back in 2016, my DH's aunt (one of my MIL's sisters) went to the hospital and was diagnosed as terminally ill.  When we went to visit her, the first thing DH said to me when we got back home was, "do you have a nice bright quilt we can take to her to use in her room?   It looks so cold and sterile there".  We ultimately took my "Fabric Gal" quilt for her to use while in the hospital and when she was later transferred to a hospice.

I can honestly say it made everyone happy: his aunt, the hospice staff, visiting family and her daughter right up until the day her mother passed.  After that I added to the label already on the quilt and inscribed it to both the late aunt and her daughter and gifted it to her.  So I know from personal experience this kind of gift can bring comfort and joy at a difficult time.

I hadn't known when I made that quilt that this would be its ultimate purpose but we quilters always like when we know a quilt will be enjoyed by whoever receives it.  So I look forward to seeing the quilts my blocks go into and knowing that they will brighten someone's hospice stay and continue to comfort their family afterward.  I also look forward to seeing what blocks Kat calls for the rest of the year and hope to be able to donate again!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Moving It Forward Monday: Lots of Cutting Going On!

I'm linking up over at Em's Scrapbag because it's time for:

It's been a crazy few weeks so a crazy amount of different things have wound up being pushed forward in the quilt space.  Having  finally finished my "Double Delight" mystery top and backing last week (one of the early Bonnie Hunter Quiltville mysteries), it was time to follow through with plans to use up the leftovers.  I've been piecing string blocks over the last month for another old Quiltville mystery "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" and had already cut up alot of the pinks from "Double D" to add to it:

I had also looked forward to using up the leftover indigo blues from "Double D" and had filed away ideas for other projects and would choose one (or more) depending on how much fabric I wound up having left.

As it turns out, I actually had big enough cuts of the blues to provide the 10" squares needed for "Indigo Weave", a simple lap quilt pattern from McCalls Quilting "America Makes Fast Quilts" special issue (Spring 2013).  While it's fun to immerse yourself in the piecing intensive work of a typical Bonnie Hunter design, following it up with a simpler quilt was an appealing idea!   However, I only had seven blues left from "Double D" and "Weave" called for twenty-four so the question was, did I have enough in-house to fill that out?

Uh, yes!  I was a bit surprised to find that it was no problem because I didn't think I had stashed a lot blue fabrics.  The "Double D" leftovers are in the upper left and the rest came from stash (upper right), two "Haven't Started Yet" project stashes (top center and bottom right), an applique fabric stash pack (bottom center) and a few more pieces from the destash giveaway I won from the LA Quilter some years back.  Ok, but the pattern also called for neutrals in white, cream, gold and tan.  Anything around for that?

Guess so!  So this one is now kitted up for future leader/ender sewing!

The other thing I wanted to get started on in February was a quilt called "Emeralds" from a back issue of Fons & Porter's "Love of Quilting" (Mar/April 2013).

Hmmm, it seems that in addition to a serious addiction right now for Quiltville mysteries, I also have a lot of nostalgia for 2013 and a yen for monochromatic quilts!  For some reason, this one always appealed to me and I had realized a while back that it would make a great couch quilt for March in honor of St. Patricks Day.  No, I'm not Irish but if it gives me an excuse to make a quilt, I'm happy to join in!  For this one, I had always planned to take some of the leftover greens from when I made Bonnie's "En Provence" mystery and then add some other greens from stash to fill out the mix.

I also saw a cute design that would allow me to make a pieced design for the back -- who doesn't like a two-for-one quilt?  I cut parts for that too although I'll be adding some other colors besides the greens when I work on that part of the project.

So all the cutting of the green stash for those two is all done now.  Now I have to go shopping for yardage for one neutral background for the blocks for both the top and back so this project will have to sit awhile until that's accomplished.  I wasn't finished with those greens though:  I went back to "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" because some of what's left from the "Emeralds" session could now go into that mystery project for the greens needed there:


Cutting for one of the parts gave me a chance to make good use of my Stripology Ruler (which I blogged about here) because I needed to cut rectangles and squares of the same fabric.  First I cut the strips I needed and then used the ruler to subcut both the squares and the rectangle at the same time:

It should be noted that last year I "kitted" up  yet another old Bonnie mystery project called "Tobacco Road" because I had plans to use it as a travel project.  That one featured browns culled from -- wait for it -- Bonnie's "On Ringo Lake" mystery (forgive me --- addicted!) so if I have some extra left from that, those too will go in "Cotton Boll" when the time comes.

So a couple of projects got moved up to being added to the sewing queue or in the case of "Emeralds" from the "stash shopping to store shopping" stage.  With this cutting session serving as a break from the previous piecing session, now it will be time to get back to finishing up some quilt stitching.  I'm heading back to Em's Scrapbag now to see what everyone else has moved up their "To Do List" ladder!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Continuing the Quiltville Adventures: Double Delight Is a Flimsie!

Well, I may not have  "Good Fortune" but it's a "Double Delight" to bring this to a top!

2/11/19 Edited to add:  The Last "Good Fortune" Link-up is now up!  Lots of finishes -- Go See!!

I managed to stay relatively on task finishing up "Double Delight", an "oldie but a goodie" Bonnie Hunter mystery.  While I didn't get the top completed by the end of January as planned, this is close enough!  I have to admit, I really liked this one as I was piecing it and was actually diasppointed on the days I couldn't work on it.  Had it not been for the recent deadline project, this might have gotten finished even earlier.  I also have the backing ready to go for this as well!

I had ordered the fabric in the center from Quilt In A Day with plans originally to use it as the cheddar in the top along with the William Morris floral print for the outer borders.   However when they arrived, I quickly realized that the two were just not going to work well together.  The Morris print had been an early inspiration in embarking on this project so it was important to me to have everything else I bought work with it.  I also liked the separation of the narrow cheddar border between  the double pink setting triangles and the outer border so also didn't want to change that aspect of Bonnie's design.  I eventually found another smaller scale cheddar to use in the blocks and inner border.

Then I realized that the orginal cheddar fabric didn't have to go to waste and could be used as the center piece for a medallion style backing so had to find something to go with it.   Originally I was going to get a nice indigo print I saw and create a simple two color, two fabric backing.  But you know how it is -- when you go to buy a significant amount of yardage for a backing (I had estimated I needed another five yards), you want to take advantage of the best deal you can find.  When I went to order the indigo fabric, I saw another nicely coordinating one at an even cheaper price point.  I was going to have to take all that was available and even then might need to go through my project leftovers to completely fill out the back.  For the additional savings, I was perfectly okay with doing that.  So I got the stripe you see and what was cool is that it turned out to be by the same manufacturer as the cheddar print (and a company I've never heard of before).

After I placed the order, I thought I almost wasn't going to get the striped fabric!  I happened to place my order while QIAD was also hosting a "Road To California" sale and after checking out, a message popped up on the screen that said "it appears that we don't have what you want".  Uh oh, maybe someone got to it before me?  However, I got a call from them the next day -- it seemed that they had so many orders, their system crashed so it recorded the payment but not what items I had ordered.  The operator updated that information into the system and my fabric arrived a few days later.

In making the back I also wanted to try to piece in an area for a label.  I had a bunch of extra double pink setting triangles laying around and figured that adding a pieced panel between the center panel and the striped fabric would also help solve that problem.  So I pieced in two muslin triangles along with triangles cut from what was left of the neutrals I had used: 

 After this gets quilted, I can just write in the label information on the muslin.  As I noted when I did the Quilt Alliance Label Pledge a few years back, piecing a label area into your backing is one of the easiest ways to make sure you have a way to label your quilt once it's completed -- no additional sewing needed!  It also turns out I didn't need as much of the stripe fabric as I thought:  my original plan was to run the stripe horizontally across the back but I was running out of steam as I got down to the end and doing it vertically was a whole lot easier.  Bonus:  I still have two yards left so when this gets quilted, there may be some coordinating pillowcases, shams or a neckroll cover in its future!

Now that it's done, I have to decide how I'm going to quilt it.  Before I work on that, I'll go back to finishing up the quilting on my Christmas Cobblestones project as well as set up a few smaller projects to work on.   A flimsie finish always feels so good!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Humble Quilts String Along

This is the year for string quilt stitch alongs and both Lori DeJarnatt of Humble Quilts and the staff at MODA are hosting them this year.  While I have an old string project I hope to dredge back out later this year,  I had decided at the end of last year to start something more immediate: string blocks for a mystery quilt.

When Bonnie Hunter's fall mystery "Good Fortune" got under way back in November, I embarked on my own set of  Quiltville projects.  Primarily I've worked on her "Double Delight" mystery and am now putting together the rows of blocks to finish up the center for that one:

I used the the piecing of those blocks as an opportunity to start on the blocks for another mystery:  Bonnie's "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" from her "String Fling" book (you can see hers in this post)

I had always liked the touches of pink in that quilt and figured I could pass along the leftovers from Double Delight to this new project.  For the purposes of participating in all the string alongs, "Cotton Boll" also offered a chance to plow through my neutral strings.  As seen in the picture at the top of the post, I've managed to get 13 blocks pieced up so far while serving as leader/enders for the "Double D" project.

Later in the mystery, all of the blocks made will get split.....

.....and pieced back together into new blocks that will be alternated with the other blocks to be made for the quilt.

I've got another project set to be cut out in February that will be donating more leftovers (this time green fabrics) to add to the "Cotton Boll" project stash.  Isn't it great when one project sets up your next one?

It's always fun to check out what string projects quilters have under way and you can see many more of those back at Lori's Humble Quilts.  Also, don't forget that even more string project inspiration can also be found at the String Thing Along blog too!