Friday, January 22, 2021

BOMs Away: A Close-To-Finished Top and a Re-start

As I've noted since the start of the year, what I had planned to do all this month is try to clean up or move forward projects started last year.  Last year I had an ambitious plan to work on four BOMs.  My work on all of them got interrupted by the pandemic, quarantine quilting projects, Christmas decorating projects and then a trip south in December.  

Despite all of that, I managed to finish the blocks for three of them last year.  The blocks made for the AQS Twilight Flurries BOM will sit until I feel ready to focus on how I want to lay them out.  I am not sure the patterned layout will work with the scrappy blocks I made.  I got the blocks for the the self-styled BOM project I called "Modern Bohemia" to a top in the first week of this month.  So now it's time to continue work on the last two BOMs.
Joann Countryside Cottage

First up is this BOM which is an old pre-cut kit from 2004-2005 that I purchased in 2019.  I had made one of these Joann BOMs years ago and loved the Fall colors of this one so was excited to make it.  I've got to admit, having all the blocks already cut and ready to sew was the ideal project in a pandemic year!  Of all the BOMs I worked on and even after falling behind on it,  this one was the easiest to catch up on and then keep current. 

By the time I was ready to travel at the end of November, I had finished all the blocks for the BOM except for the last one.  It was an applique block and simple so since I would be traveling, I decided to do it by Hand Applique so prepped it for that.   

I started stitching it on the train ride down --- the benefits of a long distance trip and the "Social Distancing" seating on trains during the pandemic that gave me a two seat section all to myself to spread out in.  I finished up the block during the first few days of my stay.  

This month, it was time to lay all the blocks out and try to bring it to a top.  Reviewing the final layout, I was dreading just a little bit having to cut all of the large setting triangles for some of the blocks and alternate setting squares, except.....hooray for pre-cut setting kits:  even all the setting triangles and squares (as well as the border strips to be added later) were all pre-cut and ready to go!  Woo Hoo!!

So as a result, it was easier than I thought to start stitching it together.  However, with larger block units and parts of the rows sewn together, I am again at a stopping point.  

The layout has large plain setting squares that are just too bare for my taste.  Before I went away, I had considered the possibility of adding applique to them as well.  On my return I came to my senses:  the challenge of adding applique, in addition to choosing designs for that, is to find fabrics compatible with the kit fabrics.  I know I definitely won't be able to get the actual fabrics in it anymore!  And while finding block designs and compatible/coordinating fabrics is not an impossible task, when you add to it the time it takes to actually do the applique, it is one that would take more time than I want to devote to this (so many projects, so little time!).  

So now I've considered maybe quilting or embroidering sentiments related to the theme of "Home/House" in those squares.  However to do that will be easier if the squares are not already pieced into the rows or the top.  In a recent Pat Sloan weekly video,  she showed a panel with a Willam Morris quote that I thought was perfect for the theme (the one on the left)!  

I've already got that and it turns out the background color of the panel is exactly the same as the deep dark blue fabric in this kit.  So I pinned it to one of the squares and will either applique it down or cut the kit square into strips and piece them as a border around the panel.  So this BOM will once again have to sit a bit while I continue to stew on how to proceed with the remaining embellishments. 

I'd like to get this quilted up for Fall decorating so if I am successful in finalizing the embellishment plan, getting backing and more importantly keeping with my goal of doing more quilting of tops this year, I may actually accomplish that!

Christmas Figs

This is the first time back working on this BOM since April of last year.  It is the only one of  the 2020 BOMs I was never able to get back up to speed after the pandemic and quarantine set in.  So for 2021, the plan is to go back to working on this monthly.  Should be easier this time around with only one set of BOM blocks to do!  So when I left off last year, I had stopped here:

Since I worked on the Joann BOM at the start of the week, I didn't get to this one until towards the end.  I did manage to pick out and cut fabrics for two more blocks for this month:

The red and blue block contains two fabrics from "Catalina", the last Fig Tree line released.  I had seen blue fabrics in some earlier Fig Tree lines but couldn't find a good selection of them.  So when I saw the new line last summer, I decided to splurge and get a bundle of selected fat quarters of it.  So more blue-focused blocks will be coming.  BOM work is now done until next month!

Another reason why I had liked the Christmas Figs BOM is that the sampler of blocks in it remind me of projects that I've either already made or would like to do.  This is similar to how ladies at the turn of the century collected blocks to record patterns they wanted to make.  In a blog post last year, Barbara Brackman talked about an American Quilt Study Group paper that discussed the history of block pattern collections.  I feel like this one will be mine!  

With the BOMs "moved forward" for 2021, it's time to try to get some quilt tops quilted!

Linking Up to "BOMs Away" with with Lynette at What A Hoot Quilts and Kate at Katie Mae Quilts 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Continuing to Clear Out 2020 Projects: Quiltville Edition

What I had planned  to do all this month is try to clean up or move forward projects started last year.  High on that list was finishing up the top I had been focusing on before last year's quarantine hit which is Bonnie Hunter's "Old Tobacco Road" mystery from 2008.  

I had gotten as far as finishing the center of it as Bonnie's 2019 "Frolic" mystery was also finishing up.  I had worked on this old mystery as others were tackling the new one.  When I saw on Friday that Bonnie's post for her 2020 mystery "Grassy Creek" was for its reveal (and which means the annual mystery quilt season is now over), it seemed like the perfect time for me to head back down the "Tobacco Road"!  On the downside, this is yet another hazard of COVID-Time since I can't believe the mystery period is already over!  Where DID the time go?!?!?!

I had stopped work on it last February because I needed to decide whether to just add a plain border to the center for a quick finish or to continue on and add the Flying Geese borders Bonnie used in the pattern.  I had already made all the Flying Geese blocks and since that was one of the things I really liked about the original design, I admit I was leaning towards that.  However, at that moment I had to break work on it to prepare to teach an English Paper Piecing class (my first!) that I was hired to do and then had to work on the top for a quilt with blocks decorated by a Girl Scout Troop.  Not long after that the pandemic went into overdrive and I was further diverted by quarantine, quarantine quilting projects, other project interests and traveling in December.  

But now, it's back!!  This is where I am today:  

 So now I am at another decision point.  I had planned from the beginning to use the Olive fabric used in that (narrow) inner border for an outer border option.  The debate now is whether I want to: 

A.  Just bind the top as it is now, preferably also with the Olive fabric.

B.  Add an additional outer border as Bonnie did in her design, also possibly in the same Olive fabric.

C.  Add an additional border but in another fabric, possibly a subtle print the way Bonnie did with hers.

It should be noted that I don't have enough of that Olive fabric left for either of the first two options.  Additionally, I had won that fabric in a de-stash giveaway many years ago.  The good news is that the name of the fabric line ("Shadowplay" by Maywood) was on the selvedge and it appears that it is still available in a number of places.  

Of course the challenge is getting just the right shade of that green -- the original line had two Olive's, a light and a medium. Some listings say light or medium, some don't and of course you can't necessarily trust the color as it appears on your screen.  To complicate matters more, for option C, I found another Maywood print called "Chrysanthemum" that also comes in Olive and I am considering getting that too.  

So I am stuck for the moment in a decision mode which means this top won't get fully finished until the end of the month or early next month and I can live with that.  The other good news is I have a remnant of a Thimbleberries wide back print and a lot of leftover bricks and Flying Geese blocks which all look like they can be the start of the backing for this.  So I am calling this one officially "Moved Forward"! 

Edited To Add:  The final border decision was made by the end of the month and can be seen here!

Regarding the "Grassy Creek" Mystery:  I was surprised by the look of the reveal quilt.  The greens and golds in the color scheme didn't show up in it as much as I thought they would.  However, that's good because if Bonnie's designs are one thing, they are flexible!  Since I like her color choices, I now see where I might do the fabric pull a little differently to achieve the look I thought it would have.  However, I don't even have "clue the first" of when that might happen since I still have a huge commitment to fulfill in finishing the other mystery tops and designs I already have in progress.  But a girl can dream can't she!  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

BOMs Away: Modern Bohemia is a Flimsie!

One of the things I plan to do all this month is try to clean up or move forward projects started last year.  Last year I had an ambitious plan to work on four BOMs.  One of them was the self-styled BOM project I called "Modern Bohemia".  It's made up of Churn Dashes in four sizes using bold and what I'd call "modern" prints.  The idea was to work on a bunch of blocks each month until I had enough to fill the quilt top.
My work on it got interrupted by the pandemic and then quarantine quilting projects, then a need to work on projects I had planned to decorate with for Christmas (which was another casualty of the pandemic) and then a trip south in December.  

As a result this was the first project on my list to work on this month.  Primarily because the completed blocks had been sitting on my design wall since November.  Now the top is done!

After I get all the prior year starts moving forward, the other big task for this year is to do a whole lot of quilting of tops.  Once I get a few more projects moving, that will be my next thing to focus on, 

Linking Up to "BOMs Away" with with Lynette at What A Hoot Quilts and Kate at Katie Mae Quilts 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Seven Days of New Year's 2020: Day 7 and the Start of a New Year

 Happy New Years!  And a big 'ole smooch to 2021!!

When I checked in again with my MIL yesterday, she was feeling a lot better but was still not up to sewing just yet.  Today was not as a good a day so it looks like we are going to have to take this one day at a time.  We had made tentative plans on Friday to Skype on Sunday afternoon but at this point, I really don't know if we'll keep that date.  To keep myself from worrying, I'm trying to keep a few projects in focus as it seems that these first few days of the year aren't going to pass through any more smoothly than 2020 went out.   

I'm still tying to map out the rest of the year, but I do know that all this month I want to focus on finishing up or moving forward things from last year.  Ironically, what I worked on yesterday and finished up today is that and a throw back to the first finish of last year!  Last year I started things off with a little quilted tote for a micro-mini portable iron.  

However I also kept a mini Steamfast iron on my sewing table and had planned last year to make another larger tote for carrying it if I wanted to take it for travel or classes.  

Stock Photo from

I'd had my iron since 2015 and loved using it while piecing the block units of pretty much every project.  However, in the last year or so, the base of it had been getting hot to the touch when it was used for an extended period.  Well, last week I turned it on and I heard a "pop" and the little light that indicates it is on went out and the iron stopped heating.  Fortunately that was not a big problem since a while back, I had watched one of Vanessa the Crafty Gemini's videos and she recommended the Sunbeam as a cheaper alternative to the Steamfast.  One thing she noted was that a selling point for the Sunbeam mini iron is its structure.   It has the water well sitting under the handle which means your hands are not close to the heated elements of the iron.  I did like that but saw no reason to give up my old Steamfast -- that is up until now!  With it burnt out, it was time for a new one.  So along with a new mini iron, it was a good time to also make that larger carrier too!

Provides a generous 18" x 24" pressing surface.

It is also large enough to hold a full size iron too.

I had picked up this tote pattern after reading about it on Kaaren's "The Painted Quilt" blog.  She has a link to the pattern on the post.  I also took note of her suggestions to help make the construction easier such as spray basting the layers together before quilting, using "wrapped" pony tail elastic for the closure loops which look nicer than than plain elastic for the finish and using bias binding.  

I had actually taken the instructions for this project with me when we visited my MIL in October 2019.  I had purchased the outer fabrics while there having already had the Insulbright and batting in my stash.  What I couldn't find on the trip was the silver ironing board fabric so had to bring the whole thing back home to make.  However once I did get the specialty fabric, other projects prevailed (particularly since travel went out the window in the early part of 2020) and this little "quickie" project wound up sitting on the back burner (or I should say, the project pile on the floor) until now.

And I have to say it was a quickie!  My own construction tip is that rather than drafting the pattern onto paper, I used the pattern's instructions and just measured and drew the quilting lines with my Chacoliner right onto the ironing board fabric.  I started on it late and was a little distracted by frequently stopping to comment, reminisce and laugh with DH about the annual New Year's Day "Odd Couple" marathon that was playing in the background!  

Still hilarious 50 years later!

So I got all the way up to sewing down the last seam of the binding before having to call it quits for the day.  So today that and attaching the button closures was all that needed to be done to wrap it up.  

Funny, I had not made my Blue and White Christmas decorating plans at the time I  purchased the fabric for this but I am just loving that it not only coordinates with the new Sunbeam but it falls right into line with all the blue and white projects I made in 2020 and still have to finish up!  

So if I do get to Skype with my MIL tomorrow, we may get to talk about our plans to try to participate in this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge to give her a chance to dive into her newly organized bins.  Until then, I will spend some more time planning the projects for this year.  Do I want to try to do a UFO Finish challenge?  I should, lord knows I've got enough of 'em!!  We'll see what the first week of the New Year brings!