Friday, November 30, 2018

It's Friday so it's a Bonnie Day!

"Bonnie" meaning good and Bonnie meaning it's time for Part 2 of Bonnie Hunter's newest Quiltville mystery "Good Fortune".

The instructions for this week's units --- blue and neutral half square triangle squares --- are here.  Bonnie says the colors for this week's units were influenced by the beautiful painted ceiling beams in the courtyard of the Temple of Heaven in Bejing (be sure to check out her post for the pictures of them!).  It's interesting to note that most of Bonnie's mysteries start with simple basic units like the nine patches from last week and the HSTs today.  If you are working on the mystery, don't forget to link-up on Bonnie's blog on Monday and show everyone how far you've gotten -- no pressure!

I don't have the "Good Fortune" to be working on the mystery but rest assured I've downloaded the instructions.  However, like many of you my sentiments for today are that....

Quiltville Mystery mugs available from 

For the first time in weeks, I've got a day with no errands, appointments or commitments so it'll be a Quilt-A-Thon day for sure!  My Bonnie Project for today is to continue working on "Scrappy Trips" blocks.  Last week I was here with them:

This week started with a plan to make a block a day for the next two weeks.  I got the blocks done for the first three days this week so am now here:

After adding the new blocks to the layout, I counted to see where making blocks over the weekend and next week would leave me.  While it would be enough blocks for the size quilt I want (generous lap size), I realized I'd need another week after that to complete the top and then more time beyond that if I want to get it layered and possibly quilted.  So change of  plans:  I've now decided that since I want to stay within the two week time frame to get this to a top (because I've got other things to get to as well), I'm going to bump it up to making two blocks a day from here on in.  This way I can have the blocks and the top completed within the two weeks.  As for the layering and quilting?  Well, I'll see how busy it gets as we go into the final leg of the holiday season and make a decision on that in the coming weeks.

Yesterday after a day in our community garden (they came to take out our Port-A-Potty until the Spring), I got two more set up for the finishing stitching:

I'll finish those and then make the two for today.  After that, I can move on to one of those "other things":

This was the project I was working on back in the summer when I realized I needed to move beyond the capabilities of my Featherweight machine if I was going to complete it.  Now that I have the 401, I've already done some work on that project and would like to bring it to completion.  With a whole day to devote to quilting I should be able to get that done.  Wish me luck!

Monday, November 26, 2018

It Has Begun...And So Have I!

Today is the first link-up for Bonnie Hunter's new mystery "Good Fortune"!

When I last looked there was almost 120 people with scads of four patches (the first units) already pieced -- yikes!  I was most interested in those that were working in alternate color schemes and clicked over to see why they chose the colors they did.  The most common reasons: a quilt intended for someone specific (so needing a particular color scheme) or "it's what I had the most of in stash".  As always, at the reveal we'll see just how interesting those color schemes work out to be.

No, you won't see me there, as I noted on the last post, I'm sitting this one out because one of the things I want to focus on finishing are the last two mysteries ("En Provence" and "On Ringo Lake").  Both are tops but need their backings (and labels!!) prepared.  At this point in my planning, those are projects for next year.

Oh and yesterday, Bonnie shared a virtual trunk show of all the quilts from her new book "String Frenzy".  Ohhh, I already see a few I'd like to make!   Given the list of Bonnie projects I'm already planning to work on (for that too you can see my last post), I expected to wait awhile before getting the book.  Yeah, well now that the fires of interests have been stoked (or is that a "Squirrel Moment" has been been ignited?!?), we'll see how long I can hold out before I feel compelled to buy it!

For today though, it was time to get back on the horse.  So first up, after the Thanksgiving holiday is over....

 ...the quilt studio (a.k.a. the dining room) goes back to its previous condition.

Well almost it's previous condition --- there's a lot of stuff that was under that cutting table that had to go  upstairs until company left!  I'm going to keep it all up there for a while and only bring down what I want to focus on each week until the end of the year.  One of those right now is my "Scrappy Trips" blocks.  My goal with this now is to make blocks daily for at least the next two weeks and then try to get them to a top.  What I had so far went back up on the design wall:

This is as far as I got on the block for today:

Well, hopefully I can make up for that tomorrow by sewing this together and then getting another block completely done.  I really need to try to stay on track with this one because I've got quite a few other projects I'd like to also tackle before the year ends!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

It's Time For the Annual Quiltville Mystery!

Now that Thanksgiving is over (and I hope you enjoyed yours!) that only means one thing:  No, not Black Friday --- well it DID mean that but it also means.....'s time for the latest Bonnie Hunter Quiltville mystery which this year is called "Good Fortune".  Inspired by her her trip to China last year, you can see the color palette she is using in the Introductory post here and the first set of piecing instructions which came out yesterday and are here.  If you've always wanted to try picking alternate colors for her mysteries and wondered (as I have) how to try that, Bonnie did a great Facebook live chat with Holly Anne of String and Story which you can pick up the link for from Bonnie's post here.

Having completed the tops for the last two mysteries (and still needing to make backings for them), I'm sitting this one out although I look forward to downloading the latest one as the clues are released each week.
The mugs are available from

But this doesn't mean I won't be having any Bonnie-style fun while the new mystery is running.  First off, my primary leader/ender project at the moment is "Scrappy Trips".   I'm hoping to keep making blocks through the end of the year and get the top finished before 2019 rings in.

On the mystery front, I've really admired Maggie Fellow's (of the Making A Lather blog) quest to complete all of the Quiltville mysteries by the time this latest one was released.  Of the fifteen mysteries to date, she has completed eleven and has an alternate color version of two of the mysteries also in progress. While I'm not interested in making all of Bonnie's mysteries, I was inspired by Maggie's challenge to consider making a few of the ones that I've always liked.  As of right now, I have stash either fully funded or started for three of them:

Old Tobacco Road:  I've got a stash of dark bricks which started off with "On Ringo Lake" leftovers and then I added additional scrap and stash injections.  Scrap dark and neutral strips, squares and triangles have also been set aside for when I'm ready to work on this one.  The only reason I haven't already started it is because I'm holding this very easy piecing project as a travel project in the event I finally get to travel to see my friend in GA.  I even found a great deal on some grey gridded flannel that I can tack up and use as a design wall while away.  My friend and I just recently talked again about making meet up arrangements but with the holidays now upon us that may go on hold for awhile once again.

Double Delight:   I've fully funded a stash for making this mystery from 2008.  I think I didn't like this one when it was originally released.  However, seeing it recently I realized that two of the main colors in it are double pinks and indigos.  So of course it now tantalized me as a potential quilt to be made up in Civil War reproduction fabrics.  That's all it took to get me started!  Once I'm finished with Scrappy Trips, this goes into the queue as the next leader/ender.

Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll:  Also doing a Quiltville challenge this year was Jo Kramer over at Jo's Country Junction blog.  She had set out to make all of the quilts from Bonnie's String Fling book before her latest book "String Frenzy" was released.  That book is now out (and can be purchased from Bonnie here or C&T Publishers here) and Jo is down to the last quilt which only needs borders and to be quilted.

12/10/18 Update:  Jo finished that last quilt and posted her "parade of quilts" from the book here

I would also like to make one of Bonnie's string quilt designs and for a long time debated about which one to do.  Falling in love with "Double Delight" reminded me that I've also always loved "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll".

The good news there was that I was able to dig up a bunch of neutral strings and grab phone book paper for piecing foundations for this one as a starting point.  That project can also use leftover pinks from "Double Delight" and greens from "Tobacco Road" and "Emeralds" (a Fons & Porter project that's also been fabric funded from the stash).  If this ever gets up to the front of the leader/ender queue, I should be well on my way to having what I need for it.

So I hope you have fun plans for this year's mystery season.  Whether it'll be sewing along with Bonnie on the new mystery or working on some of her other mysteries or another project (there's still time to get some holiday sewing done), any day spent with your machine will be a good one!

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Warm Welcome To A New Member of My Quilt Studio Family!

The thing that stopped me most recently was the loss of my Featherweight machine for two weeks.  No it wasn't broken -- it was a featured star!

For a while now I've been sewing on Fanny my Centennial Featherweight.  A friend in my complex got a grant to host a series of Oral History nights for the Tenants Association of her building.  She recruited seniors in her building born between the years 1920 and 1950 to come down and share stories of their lives or how they came to live in our community (which, by the way, is Co-op City, which has been said to be the largest affordable housing complex in the world).   She had the idea to decorate various areas in her Association room with "nostalgia stations".

When she started telling me about a sewing themed one she wanted to do, I asked her:  "do you have a machine?".  She didn't so I volunteered mine.  When we brought together our stuff, I realized she actually didn't have much in the way of iconic sewing items so a lot of what you see on the table is from my stash of family sewing items.  As I've related before, the Featherweight came to me through my mother whose boyfriend had been a tailor.  The forged cast iron on the table is real and belonged to my great grandmother, the pinking shears, tracing wheel, sock darner and tape measure were from my grandmother's sewing stash along with the Poinsettia hankie displayed.  I have a bunch of my grandmother's hankies and we were able to use them to accent each of the other displays in the room as well.  It was fun to work with her on these first two events and I was pleased to get to share some of my own family history in the process.

Another part of my loss of momentum was getting stuck on another project (and hopefully more on that in another post).  Getting stuck led me to re-evaluating my equipment needs.  I've long needed to fix my two electronic machines but admit I've been reluctant to do so.  Both were serviced in the last year and yet the problems I'm having with them have reoccurred making me wonder if it's time for an upgrade.  I'd really like to trade in both of them for one new upgraded machine but admit that the cost of that, even with the trade-in, is at the moment prohibitive.  This led me to think about what I features I really needed right now.  Fanny the Featherweight has been a champ and I love that I can maintain it myself for the most part.  The two limits have been the 5" throat space and that it doesn't do zig zag.  Actually the throat space is not a huge issue considering that it's still possible to quilt on it for small projects like mug rugs and runners.  For six years of this quilty life I quilted even queen size quilts on my Euro-Pro which is a standard 7" throat space machine.  

Quilting the flannel "Triangle Trips" in 2010.

Also, some years ago I bought Marti Michell's "Machine Quilting in Sections" book.

She also has a class and DVDs on Craftsy/Blueprint on the same topic.  I've never tried this technique formally but had already planned to try it with a Christmas top I want to get quilted before the year ends.  So it occurred to me that for the cost of servicing these two machines, maybe I could consider investing in another vintage machine if I could find one that had zigzag capabilities.  I did some research focusing on the all metal Singer models.  I narrowed it down to the machines in the 400 - 500 series (this and this are two of the many posts and YouTube videos on the various machines in this series).  After scouring listings on eBay, Craigslist and Etsy, I just recently came across this beauty.

So now there's a new equipment addition to the quilt studio!  It's a Singer 401A from 1956 purchased from Etsy vendor Ed Hurston of Stitches 'N Bobbins in nearby Connecticut.  She came Saturday and I've already had a chance to test out her zigzag and decorative stitch capabilities which allowed me to give my stalled project a boost.  I'll do a full post on her once I've had a chance to put her through her paces.  But I'm really looking forward to establishing this new relationship!

P.S.: I think I'm starting a new quilt addiction:  vintage machines.  I swear if I had the display space, I'd get this one just for show!

Do you own or covet vintage machines?  Do you like them better than modern electronic machines?  Inquiring quilt minds want to know!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

More Decorating For the Season

I'm embarrassed to say that the dining room decorations haven't budged since last Christmas!  This is what's been on the sideboard (really my husband's childhood dresser) all year:

Since we'll be hosting Thanksgiving this year, it's definitely time to change that out -- even if I'll be putting it back next month!  I'll swap it out for the only other runner I've made for this space so far:  the one I call Autumn Leaf Dance:

This is Gerdrun Erla's Abundance pattern (also available from her as a PDF).  Mine was made from a batik kit from Connecting Threads.  Along with that change I needed to make a non-quilty one.  I have this narrow bookcase that was my mother's (and made for her by her sister-in-law's husband) that holds my collection of some of her crystal and Lladro statuetttes:

I fill the vase with bouquet's of fake flowers cued to the season.  So it was time to change out the bouquet from the holiday one..... the autumn one.  Presto chango!  I also have a Spring/Summer combo bouquet which obviously didn't get put in place at all this year.  The flowers for these bouquets are gathered from the Dollar Store and I store them bundled together so I can just pop them in the vase when the time comes.

I've always liked the idea of making more runners.  The Christmas runner came from this book:

I do have a few more books with ideas galore.  Back in the Spring, Jinny Beyer had a sale on Quilter's Dream batting (both Select and Request lofts) in the 18" width just made for making runners.  She has it on sale again here, now until Tuesday.  I bought a few yards since I hate to cut up a good twin batt to supply a piece for a runner.  The top of our "sideboard" is 17 inches wide x 50 inches long so a craft batt would have to be pieced together to make an appropriate sized filling.

Are you making any new runners for the Fall/Holiday season?  If you have any favorite designs, please share!

It's Finally Time To Change Things Up!

One of the things I've been doing "in the background" as I gear up to get back to the machine, is to finally swap out for the season all the quilts decorating the house.  For me, Fall felt like it descended rather abruptly everywhere and one of the things I've been enjoying on the web is seeing how everyone decorates with their quilts and quilt projects for the change in seasons or planning for the new quilts they will make to display for the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

From 1992 to 1997, the dearly departed Quilters Newsletter magazine ran a series called "At Home With Quilts".

Every time they sent out an email asking readers what topics they'd like to see covered in the magazine, I always asked for that one to come back!  It safe to say this is a topic of interest to me....

... and I admit that making quilts for different places in my home is one of my "Quilting Prime Directives".  Examples of a few of my favorite Quilty Decorators in the blogosphere are:  Lori DeJarnatt over at Humble Quilts, Heather Mulder Petersen of Ankas Treasures, Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings,  and Janet and her wonderful mini quilts over at Rogue Quilter.  However, if I visit any blog and the host talks about quilts on display, I definitely stop in for the open house!

I've been very slow this year to make the change over to Fall in my own home but figured that might be the best place to start in my attempt to get back into the groove.  Changing out quilts means looking at and through your old projects.  That usually makes me long for capturing the joy (and sometimes remembering the agony) of making them which eventually leads me back to the sewing machine!  So I finally got started on my own seasonal change over....

First up was the quilt behind the bookcase.  From this....

To this. 

This one is "Flannel Point of No Return" and was a pattern by Connie Tesene and Mary Etherington of Country Threads.  It was  patterned in the very first issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine.  Most people remember Marti Michel's "Storm At Sea" cover quilt from that issue.  

Normally I put this one on the back of the couch during the fall and winter seasons.  Made of flannel, it's particularly cozy to be wrapped up in on cold evenings.  I thought I'd change it up this year which means the one that was on the wall last year is going onto the back of the couch this year.

"Flying for Cover" is another quilt from my "flannel series" (I do love me some flannel!) and was one of the quilts that finally got its label when I did the Quilt Alliance's Label finishing challenge last year.  I'm still not sure if I like the placement switch up --- "Point" has less contrast with the wall than it did when it was on the back of the couch and vice versa for "Flying".  I'll let them set awhile and see if I want to change them back.  Now, the quilt that had been on the back of the couch....

...goes over to take up residence on the living room chair.   Repiecing the Past, my Civil War sampler scrap quilt, booted out its sister quilt Civil War Legacy.....

...which now gets relegated to the bottom of the quilt storage table since I have no place to display her at the moment. 

The last swap out in the living room will be the quilts displayed above our computer equipment cabinet.  So away goes Spring Basket Blues.... be replaced by Tucker.  So far these are the only two mini quilts I've made for this spot --- hmmm, going to have to add something to the "To Do" list to correct that.....

There was also a quick swap to make at the entry staircase:  it's just a "flip"  from the Underground Railroad sampler.... the Pioneer sampler on the flip side.  

It's simple to change out things when the quilts are sandwiched back to back!  I've got a bigger "decorating with quilts" project but I'll report on that when I get it done.  

Friday, November 9, 2018

It Took a Long Time....

… to get back to this place!  Too long!!  However, I've been gearing up and moving in the direction of getting back to work on some quilt projects.   This is not to say I haven't been thinking about quilting or looking at quilts.  When I'm not sewing I'm usually following blogs on Bloglovin' which leads to surfing for new project ideas or discovering new blogs (btw, have you visited Diane Harris' "Stash Bandit website?  Lot of great stuff there!).   Along those lines there's been a few:

Piecing the Past Quilts - A Great Source For All Things Repro!!

Piecing the Past Quilts has been running their latest free Block of the Week called "Double Irish Stars".  It's the pattern for the bottom center quilt featured in their website header above.  After getting so many requests for it, they're finally releasing it.  If you're a reproduction fabric lover like me, this is a great shop to know about.  I purchased some stuff from them to fund yet another new repro project (which I'll report on when I hopefully get it started later this month) and they were the source of the kit for the mini baskets quilt I made last year.

11/13/18 Edited To Add:  Just got notice today that Piecing the Past Quilts has a new free Block of the Week called "Delft Blue" starting in January!  If you are an applique or blue and white quilts fan, you'll love this one!  You can sign up to get the pattern notifications here!

Have you read Quiltfolk magazine?  They have been out since 2016 with Mary Fons as Editor-In-Chief and Barbara Brackman is their Historical Adviser.  Each issue focuses on regional quilting --- the latest issue (#08) covers Michigan.  Lately they've been  offering special bundles of their back issues.  The most recent offers have been bundled with books but back in October, I snagged one for a reprint of the first two issues which covered Oregon and Iowa.  I've long wanted to check out this magazine so decided this was a great way to sample it.  The issues just arrived the other day so I'm still trying to find a moment to settle in to review them.

Back in August, Pat Sloan started hosting a quilt along using Joanna Figueroa's (of Fig Tree Quilts) book "Christmas Figs".   Admit I fell in love with this on first sight!  I sooo want to do this one!!  Pat's quilt along will be running until next June so I figure there's still time to get involved (rare is the BOM that I've started on time anyway!).  Joanna's inspiration was an antique sampler quilt she owns.  I loved the look of the quilt and realized that I was attracted to most of the blocks because almost every one represents an interest I've tackled in my own quilt journey.  So first step was to get the book --- check!

This is a really nice one with one of those soft heavy matte finish covers and is published by "It's Sew Emma", the publishing arm of  The Fat Quarter Shop.

One ding -- the book was  designed around the block of the month concept so the yardages are only given in the book block by block.  However if you go to Pat's site here she has a printout with yardages for the whole project.  She is also doing a Blue and White/Cream version using Edyta Sitar's "Something Blue" fabric line.  However, since I already have a completed Christmas quilt top that I'm hoping to quilt up before the end of the year,  I wanted to figure out how to do this sampler another way.

I realized that since I've always wanted to stash Fig Tree fabrics, why not do it with this project!  Much like I started my Civil War Repro stash, I'm going to start picking up pieces of different Fig Tree print lines as I see good deals on them and build a stash so I can do this as a scrappy homage to my quilting journey and Fig Tree fabric history!

Note: the background it's sitting on is actually the project I got stalled on that started this whole not-quilting malaise!  Hopefully though, I've got something coming to help me get back on track with it!

Another nudge to get back in gear came from the Quilt Gods:  I had the good fortune* to win some quilty goodies from Kim Brackett of Magnolia Bay Quilts (another blog with a wealth of ideas and quilt design tips) and Martingale Publishing!

They were hosting a blog celebration for the latest in her "Scrap Basket" book series: "Scrap Basket Bounty".    I have her first two books "Scrap Basket Surprises" (and the ebook version is discounted right now, if you've always wanted to add that to your library) and "Scrap Basket Sensations".  So I was too thrilled to win an e-copy of the new book AND a twin-size batting!   Ah, nothing like a new quilt book to rev up your creative juices!

*How Funny: "Good Fortune" is the name of this year's Bonnie Hunter mystery project!  I'm sitting this one out but I'll be following along and downloading the instructions as she releases them.  She's already revealed the color choices and you can find all the information about it as the project progresses here.

My mother-in-law also keeps my mind in quilty mode with periodic quilt-related "Help!" calls!  So, needless to say, quilting is never far away from my mind.  There's been a few more behind the scenes doings to push me back toward sewing which I will work on posting over the next week or so.  Ahhh, good to finally get back into the swing of things!  As Bonnie Hunter so aptly put it:

You're so right Bonnie!