Thursday, September 30, 2021

The First "100 Days" Finish!

Recently, I decided to try participating in Leanne's (of the Devoted Quilter) 100 Days WIPS-B-GONE Challenge.

 It was surprising to see that there are not that many days left to the year and I know I want to get a lot of stuff done before the sun goes down on 2021.  (Hey, that rhymes and yes Elton John is now an ear worm in your head -- your welcome!).

There are projects that I hope to finish, some that I hope to just move along and even some that I hope to start AND finish before this period ends.  Fortunately the first of the finishes has left the gate!

At the beginning of 2020 (way back, in the "before times"), I had decided to try to make projects for Blue & White themed Christmas decorating.  Of course, at the center of such a scheme would have to be a Christmas tree skirt!  The Quilt Muses are always looking out for me and when I went looking for a design, I came across Rachel's Spiderweb Tree Skirt tutorial over at her Stitched In Color blog.  This worked for me on so many levels:  I had always wanted to make a spider web quilt, I was also piecing a scrappy Blue and White BOM at the time so could put the scraps towards this and Accuquilt has a die for the block which would make cutting up the scraps even easier.  I cut scraps and pieced blocks along with the BOM work throughout 2020.  

Block parts die cut.....

Block quarters made!

When plans arose to travel down to my MIL's at the end of November for a two week stay, I decided to take the skirt project with me as one of the things I'd work on while away.  While there, I finished piecing together the top.  

I had also taken the backing fabric and batting with a plan to also quilt it while there.  Unfortunately while there I was busy with the other projects I also took, helped my MIL to organize her sewing room, helped her with her projects and we did other activities.  So layering and quilting the skirt never made the cut and I brought the project back home.  Then we didn't get a tree for Christmas so I didn't bother trying to quilt it up at the end of last year.  

However this year, I was determined to get it done and do a proper display for Christmas!  I finished quilting it on Friday.

This is it sitting on a tree stand.  To the left are the ornaments I bought years ago that have been waiting for me to make a few coordinating quilt projects to go with them.  It will also be a chance to use the blue felt ornaments I finished last year.

However, I also had another reason to get it done last week:  the steering committee of my community garden decided to hold an outdoor "Art Festival" this past Saturday to showcase the talents of some of our members.  We have jewelry and decorative artists, a painter and a sculptor in our midst and I was asked to bring out some of my quilts.  It is an idea I had always wished our garden might do -- a mini version of the kind of shows done at Sisters and Alden Lane.  

One of the quilts I displayed was my "High Strung +2" Christmas quilt and I figured a show of tree skirts would also be good to further demonstrate how versatile quilting is.   I wanted to display both my red and green skirt and this one so needed to get it finished so I could also show the color versatility for this type of project.  

The Blue & White skirt is hanging behind the Red and Green one on the right.

Hence the additional push to get this done!  I'll admit I had made the batting choice last year out of COVID scarcity duress.  It was remnants of a high loft batting I had in stash that was just enough for the skirt with some additional Franken-piecing (and see more tips on that process here and here).  The batting had been leftover from when I needed to fill out a pillow form for a pillow cover I made a while back.  Now that the skirt is done, I think I would have preferred a flatter batting instead.  

Since I was working on a tight deadline and so as not to have to try to pick out and decide on a binding fabric (or make a scrappy binding), I just pillow-turned the quilt layers, thus quickly finishing the edges.  I had plans to then edge stitch around the edges (also closing the opening used for turning), ditch stitch around the blue web blocks and do a simple looped uneven Figure Eight motif using free-motion in the white kite areas.  Yeah, the attempt to do free-motion on high-loft batting was a no go!  Looking at it now, I may try to do some additional stitching in the centers of the webs to define them a little more before I put this out for the holidays. 

But as of right now I'm calling this a finish!  I also think it could use "a little something extra" to punch it up a bit.  I would consider adding beads sewn to the web centers or maybe tassels sewn to the corners or hand sewing a decorative trim to the outer edges.  We'll see if any of that also gets done this year or maybe I'll just leave that for a future project update.  As they say, "finished is better than perfect"!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Hey June, September's Almost Over!! --- Pt 2

In my last post, I talked about when we traveled down to my MIL's in August.  Both before we left and while we were away, I worked on blocks for my other "inspired during the quarantine project" by Cathy of the Sane, Crazy Crumby blog:  the Civil War Basket blocks:

Although the block parts are die cut (using an old discontinued Accuquilt BOB die) and machine pieced, the handles on these blocks are sewn down by hand.  I made up a bunch of blocks before we left so I could sew them up in the car on the drive down to North Carolina.  I then made two blocks a day during the week we were away to have more hand sewing for the drive back to New York.   

I also mentioned in that post that DH and I had gone camping this month.  We found a wonderful little campsite in Port Jervis, NY

The campground is up on that mountain!

Our campsite set-up

In addition to the campground, the park is full of hiking and biking trails.  We managed to hike three of the moderate trails (taking us both below and above the tree line!) and an easy straight trail in town on the site of what had once been an active transportation canal back in the 1800s.  The park has been managed by volunteers of the town's Outdoors Club since 2016.  We had booked a four night stay but wound up leaving on the third night due to an incoming heavy rain storm.  The CW Basket blocks came along on this trip too as they were perfect for working on by the campfire:

Stitching by the campfire

We will be headed down to NC again at the end of October, so I'll be die cutting and stitching together the last of the fabric block sets I have so they are ready for travel sewing by then.  I'm also realizing now that I had drafted a post about this project when I started it but never had a chance to post it.  I'll update that post which has the full back story of this project when I get this to a top.  That is another entry on the WIPS-B-GONE list!   

Another big thing that happened during this busy summer:  my youngest son left the nest!  He and his girlfriend had gotten a summer sublet in Manhattan that was supposed to be for the months of July and August.  Dutiful parents that we are, we had helped with the move-in at the beginning of July.  All was well and good until my son called to say there had been a change:  turns out the building owner had not been aware of the sublet and so they had to vacate at the end of July!  The good news was that my son and his girlfriend were successful in finding their own apartment in a nice area in Queens and were able to close on it right at the end of July!  So we were once again helping with moving duties and got them settled in for the start of August.   And even though my son hasn't taken all of his belongings to the new digs, needless to say there has been some project stash moving into the freed up space in his half empty closet!   I am also eyeing a move of our house computer and office files to his room to gain the space where it now sits.  I can use that for more quilt supplies storage since it is conveniently adjacent to my current sewing space.

With moving, the final resolution of our car repairs and garden activities keeping us busy in July, in Old News:  my "Hometown USA" project is still on hold (and for details on how this got started, see the "...Or Not Finished" section on this post). 

I was never able to really sit down and collect my thoughts and get a good plan for the stitching.  This one won't be part of my WIPS-B-GONE work unless I get a handle on how I want to proceed.  So this one may wind up being carried forward to next year.

However, having a project on hold doesn't stop a "Dreami" project from beginning!  So in New News: yet another CW repro project has begun.  I can once again blame this one on Edyta Sitar (I just can't quit her!!!).  I saw this design and then saw these fabrics on sale on eBay (top left) and Etsy (bottom left).

Seeing that it was a simple Strippy quilt made up of equally simple Uneven Nine Patch and Rail Fence blocks, my interest was piqued!  I still have CW stash that I'm (supposedly) trying to whittle down and then saw another great deal on Etsy for a scrappy bundle of CW repro 2-1/2" Strips to add to what I could pull from my stash.  So this is where I am now:

The plan for this one is that I have enough of the striped fabric for both that top border and the back so I'm planning to use it as a continuous piece and also attach it to the bottom of the finished center for the bottom binding.  After quilting, I'll bring the sides around to the front to create the finished side binding.  The blocks for this have been added to the "Daily Sewing Queue" along with the "Wishing Rings" blocks and finishing this is now another entry on the "WIPS-B-GONE" list.

Another result of working on this new CW project is that the "Wishing Rings" block sets I'm making up for the rest of September have a decidedly CW theme:

So that just about brings me up to date with regards to the summer.  I'll be spending what's left of September this week, bringing the "Wishing Rings" blocks up to date and using what I need to make for "Hey June!" and the "CW Strippie" blocks as leader/enders.   Happy Fall 'Yall!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Hey June, September's Almost Over!! --- Pt 1

Reiterating my last post:  What a summer!  There has been enough and not enough going on that blog neglect was an understandable consequence.  One thing that happened over the last three months was that I stalled on so many projects.  In some cases it was due to circumstances beyond my control, in others I just got creatively stuck! 

The title of the post refers to a project in that second category.  Back in June I had mentioned I was planning to participate in Gudrun Erla's latest GE Designs Quilt Along called "Hey June!".  There had been a fabric line at a discount supplier that I had liked when I picked up a piece of it back in January for the outer borders of my "Tobacco Road" top.  

Olive outer border fabric is from the "Chrysanthemum" line by Maywood Fabrics

I held off buying more of the line at that time because I didn't have a purpose for it so couldn't decide which prints and how much of each to buy.  When the QAL was announced, I now had a excuse mission to buy!  I scooped up a bunch of the prints from the line, a fat quarter bundle that had a cream print (seen as a strip here) that was not available in yardage, three more coordinating fabrics (on the right) and purchased two additional coordinates from Joann's to round out the project stash (on top).  

My MIL also was excited to participate in the QAL having previously done Gudrun's "Elvira" last year as I had.  She also put together a stash and ultimately did better than me in getting her blocks done.   Unfortunately, I only got as far as making twelve blocks before my enthusiasm waned.  I believe that was mostly because I started worrying about "filling the layout" as I made the blocks rather than just making the number of blocks needed and seeing what came of it when I was ready to lay them out.  Considering that due to purchase minimums, I had purchased far more fabric than I needed for the project, I don't know why I was so concerned with making only the number of blocks I thought I needed.  I had plenty of fabric to make more if I felt constructing additional blocks would fill a particular spot in the final layout better.  

However, I didn't come to that realization until after I saw some of the early reveals in one of Gudrun's Tipsy Tuesday videos.  Then in early August, my DH and I were finally able to make the visit to my MIL that had been aborted back in June due to car troubles.  I had brought along my block parts in the hopes that I would be further inspired by her finished blocks to continue working on my own.  Well the first quilty thing we discussed upon our arrival was that she hated her blocks and the initial layout she had put together!!   

Part of the problem is my MIL has not totally come around to the scrappy side of quilting yet so struggles when it comes to making scrappy blocks and then putting them into a layout.  She prefers a look that will feel balanced to her eye.  Fortunately, Gudrun gives five different layouts for the blocks in the pattern.  We tried three of them before finding one that allowed for a more balanced but still scrappy look with the blocks she had made at which point she was happy.  

Same blocks in two different layouts (# 2 and #3) 

This just reiterated for me that the solution to my dilemma with my own blocks was that I needed to just put my head down and make the darn blocks and worry about how they will look in the layout later!  However, between the activities we engaged in while there (another jaunt to Pineapple Fabrics, attending her church's anniversary and her quilt guild meeting) and work on two other projects I brought along, I never got back to work on my "Hey June!" blocks until almost a month after we returned by which time it was September.  I made a lot of progress on them and had hoped to finish them all at that time.  

However, DH and I had also made plans to attend the big RV show in Pennsylvania in mid September.  Unfortunately, we found out that the manufacturer of the rig we are most interested in was not going to be at the show.  Since we had planned to go camping (the first time in ten years!!) as part of our trip to the show, we decided to keep the camping part of the trip anyway.  By the time we left, I had 40 of the 48 total blocks I needed done.  I had hoped to finish the rest up when we got back but that didn't happen because of other things going on.  No sweat though, making up the remaining blocks and finishing the top are now another entry on my initial WIPS-B-GONE challenge list!

Another project that diverted my attention when we had visited my MIL, was continuing work on my daily "Wishing Rings" blocks.  I had started these back in March inspired by Cathy's quilt over at her Sane, Crazy and Crumby blog.  A true scrap project with blocks small enough to make use of small pieces, I had planned for this to be a year long project and had happily worked on them up to the time we had originally planned to head down to my MIL's in June.  Just before then, she mentioned that she had a "mess 'o scraps" that she was getting ready to toss out to make space in her sewing room.  Nooooo!  I told her to please, please, please box them up and hold them for me in her garage until we came down.  I saw this as a great opportunity to mine someone else's scraps for more pieces for my blocks!  She agreed to do so, however since we wound up not traveling to her until August, I only made blocks out of my own scraps up through the last five days in June.  At that point, I began to struggle with finding interesting and adequate scrap combinations in my own scrap stash.  When we finally got down there in August, I was presented with two boxes like this:

Scrap manna from heaven!  So when I was not helping her with her projects, I spent the rest of my days digging through the boxes, pairing up fabrics, cutting (and sometimes die cutting) the pieces for block sets and sewing them up.  By the time we left, I was down to one box to bring back home with me, had made the rest of the blocks I needed for June, all of the blocks for July and had blocks sets prepared for sewing for the first two weeks of August. 

As I cut the blocks sets, any fabric remaining from what was chosen were trimmed (if needed) and sorted into baggies:  extra strips and squares sorted by size, strings, triangles, orphan blocks and larger (but less than a fat quarter) fabric cuts.

Once back home, I sewed up the August block sets that were already prepared and planned to go back into the remaining box of scraps for the rest of the sets needed for the month.  Then I came across a gallon size baggie of scraps that I had brought home from her when I had visited her back in December 2020!  So I took the time to process those first which provided the block sets for the rest of August and the first week of September.  I also made one block from some scraps left over from a small bowl mat I made before we left and which I teamed with some of the "Hey June!" sashing fabric.

But wait, there's more!  Hopefully I'll post about it all in the coming days.  

Thursday, September 23, 2021

What A Summer! Now It's time for Year-end Planning!

 Yikes, I haven't posted since June!  Well it's been busy since then for sure.  And while I am hoping to catch up on all the doings over the next few days, today is a day for reflection and year-end planning!  At some point, I found out that Leanne of the Devoted Quilter blog is going to be hosting a year-end "tackle your WIPS" challenge called "WIPS-B-GONE 2021 - A 100 Day Challenge" on Instagram.  

Yes that's right, as fast as the summer has gone, as of today, it is only 100 days until the end of this year!  Yikes again!  The great news is that Leanne's challenge also comes with the possibility of winning prizes.  If you're interested in taking the challenge, check out her blog post with the challenge details here or the Instagram feed here and think about what YOU would like to get done over the next 100 days a.k.a. the end of 2021!

I had sooo many plans for this year and while I got a lot of things done in the beginning, I'm now feeling the weight of so many new things started or projects still in progress that I really want to try to either move forward or finish before the close of 2021.  So I'm once again going to climb on board a year-end finishing challenge in the hopes of bringing 2021 to as good a close as it began!

In addition to list making today, I will also actually tackle the finish work on a project!  Early last year, I decided to  make a blue and white Christmas tree skirt.   I had finished the top back in December while away visiting my MIL but since we didn't get a tree for our house last Christmas, there was no incentive to quilt it.  

This year, I have two reasons for getting this done today one of which I'll report more on in a future post.  The second reason I'm working on this is that it will kick off a big category of year-end projects I want to tackle:  finishing up projects for my Blue and White Christmas decorating plans.  I had already finished two quilts at the start of the year to go towards this:

Indigo Weave and Snow Day

I also have another big wall hanging project I would really like to get done for the season.  Getting this one started will also kill two birds with one stone:  we will be traveling south again to visit my MIL at the end of October and since this project is a hand work one, it will also serve as entertainment for the drive down and back.  

The Hexies and paper templates will be cut with an Accuquilt die.

It's also another entry in my continuing obsession with Edyta Sitar's Laundry Basket Quilts designs.  So that will definitely be the second project on the WIPS-B-Gone list!  I have three more to start off the list but again, will report on those when I can post the summer re-cap.

Speaking of planning, I've also splurged on something for 2022.  Ever since I started to try to seriously get a handle on all the things I want to do in any given year, I've looked for ways to help me monitor my plans.  I found I liked the Bullet Journal approach and up to now have had my own "make do" system.  However over the past few years, I also seen some lovely planner systems.  Well, this year I caved and got one for next year!

Behold on the left the Bullet Journal I've been filling for the last three years and the Quilters Planner system I'll be working with next year.  What sold me was that this system can be customized with your choice of cover and with the calendar pages set up to record information the way you want to.  Up to now, I've found it helpful to work with calendars that allow me to record yearly and monthly planning goals and then record what I actually accomplish on a weekly basis with Sunday being the starting day of the week.  For my system, I printed out my calendars from the Calendarpeida website.  The Quilters Planner let me customize the pages in my new planner formatted exactly the same way I've been printing my own for the last few years.




There is also a place in the planner to keep track of all the projects you are working on and their completion status.

A "Clip-in Bookmarks Bundle" was included free when you ordered early.  I also ordered some extra "Add-A-Page Clip-Ins" so I can add custom lists or special recordkeeping pages of my own.  It came last week and I was excited to open it and thumb through it.  The planner also has patterns for quilts and guess who's got one it it?

Why, it's Leanne of Devoted Quilter so this clearly was meant to be!  I can't wait to get started using it in January!

So that's it for now.  As I said, I'm hoping to post about the summer doings over the coming days,  Wish me luck on getting some stuff done for WIPS-B-Gone 2021!