Friday, March 31, 2023

So How Did March Go?

Well, March is in the can!  As always, I had grand plans for the month but did I get any of them done?  Follow along and see...... 

So my plans for the month were:

1.  Pat Sloan's "March Block-A-Day" with my own WIPs instead.

The first of the two WIPs I decided to give the B-A-D treatment to this month was "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll",  a string mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter.  I started on the project back in 2018 and had been working on the blocks for this since Christmas.  I got the String blocks done in January and started on the pieced blocks for it in February.  The good news is that B-A-D was GOOD for these blocks since I was able to finish them up in March!

When DH and I visited his mother in North Carolina last week, I had hoped to lay out the blocks and maybe get the center of the top sewn up while away.  

Unfortunately that didn't happen.  Part of that was also going to be to piece together the borders so now that also still has to be done.   I am happy though that the big step of the pieced blocks is all complete!

The second of the B-A-D WIPs to work on this month was to finish up the blocks for the APQ Scrap  Happy QAL that I started last September.  Once again the good B-A-D news is that those blocks are all done too!  

Here are most of them filling out my design wall.  The pile of blocks on the left side of the table are an additional block for each column.  I also can't fit the last column of blocks on the wall so for now they are sitting on the right side of the table.  

There is also an outer border of neutral squares that I have done some of the cutting for too.  Putting the columns together will probably be used as the new leader/ender project while I resume work on the next thing from the March "To Do" list.....   

2.  Raffle Quilts and Memory Quilt

I had two deadline quilts to work on this month.  The first is that last year, I got it in my head to want to make a raffle quilt for my community garden's opening day.  I found the perfect pattern and some sale fabric turned that idea into making two quilts.  I started on them last year, stalled and then vowed to get them done this year.  Unfortunately the B-A-D WIPs kept me busy in March so all I've done is to pull out the project box and review what I had started last year.  

I had told the garden's Steering Committee that I was committed but not guaranteeing the quilts for this year.  So it remains to be seen if I've made enough progress that I can push and try to get them done.

Unfortunately that means that the Memory Quilt for a friend is once again on hold.  Since it's a project I really need to focus on, I think that won't happen until May or until the Raffle Quilts are completed.

3.  APQ UFO: Modern Twist

I signed up for the APQ UFO challenge and this month was #11 which for me was finishing up the quilting on my Planet Patchwork "Modern Twist" mystery.  I also took this one on our recent trip to NC because I thought I could handle quilting it on my Featherweight if given the opportunity.  

It's the top quilt in that bag.

Unfortunately, that opportunity didn't happen.  Looks like this will be the second month in a row that I didn't touch my challenge UFO project.  I really need to work on this one at some point because the "To Be Quilted" pile has been growing by leaps and bounds lately and I have to get better at tackling it.  I might see if I can still try to do some quilting on this in April as a warm-up for quilting the raffle quilts.

4.  Finishing Up the Christmas Quilting:  Christmas Ribbons 

The last item on the March "To Do" list was to finish off the last of the Red & White Christmas quilts.  The hope was to get my "Christmas Ribbons" project quilted and bound (it's the bottom quilt in the bag pictured above).  

What I was able to do in March was move this forward a bit and get it layered and basted so I could also take it on the trip to NC.  However like "Modern Twist", I didn't get to quilt it while away.  However, I was able to make an adjustment to the label area pieced into the back.  This is another TBQ that I might try to take a stab at quilting while working on the raffle quilt piecing. 

One Last Thing.....

While this had not been on the March list, another benefit of traveling by car for our trip is that these days I also take along a hand work project.  As I packed up my things for the trip, I decided to try to get "back on the horse" with one of my Cross Stitch projects.  

This is "Maybe Wine Will Help" by Peacock & Fig.  I picked it to be the companion piece to the Dimensions "My Doctor Says I Need Glasses" piece I finished and hung last year.  

I had gotten stalled on "Wine" because when I last worked on this, I had counted wrong when starting that center flower and it was positioned too low near the letters below it.  I had done a big portion of it hoping I could figure a way to "make it work".  NOT!!  So before the trip, I bit the bullet and frogged all the work I had done on it.  

I was too tired on the drive down to stitch and we were too busy during the visit for me to work on it.  So I didn't get to restart it until we were on the drive back.  Good news is that it's going well now so I hope to keep this up and get it fully finished (stitched and framed) for April.

So no need to do an April "To Do" list as everything not finished this month moves forward to that list.  Which means, well everything here, LOL!!!  Did you get your March goals completed and what's cooking in your studio for April?     

Monday, March 27, 2023

Back Home From "Vacation".....

We returned on Saturday from our week long visit to see my MIL.  She had told us that North Carolina had some really warm (70+ degrees) days in the prior weeks so we prepared for that.  But it looks like we brought the cold from New York along with us as it stayed below mid-50 degrees for most of the time we were there and only warmed up on the last two days of our stay.   She had wanted my DH to help her with some yard work but he was only able to till a small section of her front yard when it finally got warm.  I harvested some mint that was growing there and showed her how to dry it and use "fill your own" tea bags to make mint tea which is something she likes.  

For me a trip to my MIL's also functions as a mini quilt retreat so for the purposes of this quilty blog, here's what I took with me and what did and didn't get done:

In order to sew away from home, you have to take a machine!

First and foremost, Fanny my Featherweight is my go-to travel sewing companion!  Now that we are back home, I'm cleaning her out (look at all that lint!!) and oiling her up before I stow her away until our next trip.

One of the primary projects I had planned to resume work on was the APQ "Scrap Happy" blocks I started last year for their quilt along.  I have been following Pat Sloan's "Daily Blocks" prompt for March but instead of working on the block she is doing, I've been trying to complete blocks for some of my WIP projects.  

For the first half of the month I finished up piecing the blocks for "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" (more on that later) and for the second half of the month, I was scheduled to work on finishing the APQ blocks.  The good news is that I managed to stay on track even though I was supposed to start them on the 15th but didn't get to start sewing them until we arrived in NC on the 17th.  I sewed two blocks for the first few days and our last day there and one block a day for the rest of the trip.  

My leader/ender for that project were my "Scrappity-Do" blocks from a long ago free McCall's Quilting pattern.  When we left home I already had 85 made and would like to get them up to 100.  While away, for every "Scrap Happy" block I made I also made a "Scrappity-Do" one.  

The squares for the bottom three on the right came from my MIL's scraps.

Bonus:  I also was able to cut parts for both sets of blocks from my MIL's scraps as well as bring some more of her scraps home with me to process and add to my scraps stash.

Okay, all of you Yellowstone fans will recognize this one:   

Blocks and top all cut and finished on the trip! 

This is my re-creation of the now famous quilt Beth Dutton wrapped herself up in while staying in the homestead cabin with Rip!  Haven't watched Yellowstone so don't know what the heck I'm talking about?  If you can get access to Season 2 Episode 7 you'll see it (or check out the scene @10:32 in this "Best of Beth & Rip" video).  In my project notes, I wrote down that the shot of it I worked from (as seen in the picture on the design wall) appeared in Season 3 Episode 7 but I haven't been able to confirm that.

Edited 6/23/23 To Add:  I've since confirmed that the image of the quilt I worked from is actually from Season 3 Episode 3 of the show called "An Acceptable Surrender". 

DH and I watch the show and as soon as I saw it, I wanted one!  Well, looks like I'm not the only one as there are people on Etsy offering patterns and/or kits for it and a couple of people selling finished quilts like it.  It's a pretty simple design so I drafted mine in EQ8 last year to get the fabric requirements.  

At the time, I knew that I had planned to stock red prints for all the Red & White Christmas sewing I was going to do.  I did manage to get all that I needed for this from the leftovers in that stash.  I was lucky enough to find the perfect  fabric for the alternate squares in the "by the pound" sale cubes at the Keepsake Quilting/Pineapple Fabrics outlet when we Shop Hopped in NC back in October.  I had a few suitable black and white fabrics in my stash but also purchased a bunch from two Etsy vendors who happened to have a lot of cuts from some of my favorite fabric designers (Fig Tree, Minick & Simpson, Primitive Gatherings, ect).

I've had everything bundled together since the end of last year and this is the perfect kind of "mindless sewing" project to bring when I go to my MIL's.  It took an evening to cut everything up and another three days to sew up the nine patch blocks.  The (diagonal) block rows and top went together easy-peasy on our last day there.  

My MIL hasn't seen the show but when she saw the blocks laid out on a "design bed", she wanted to make one too and is going to start gathering fabrics for her version!  I already have the backing fabric for it that was also purchased on the Shop Hop.  I have an idea for what I want to bind it with but still need to procure that.  I'll print out a couple of pictures of the top so  I can sketch out some options for quilting it.

I also brought three other projects down with us but only managed to get a little work done on one since the rest of time there was spent helping my MIL with some of her quilt projects, we made a few shopping outings, assisted at her church's weekly soup kitchen and visited an ill relative.   

In this bag were the two layered projects that I had hoped to try to quilt on the trip.  The top one is my too long simmering "Modern Twist" quilt.  It's an old Planet Patchwork mystery that I had been stumped all of this time on how to quilt but now think I know the direction I want to go with it.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to that one this trip.  The bottom one is "Christmas Ribbons", the last of the R&W Christmas projects I made up at the end of last year.  I had thought I might be able start the quilting on this but ran into a problem with the label area I had pieced into the back when I layered this before we left.  

I had pieced the label area into the left side of the backing but when I finished the layering, found that it extended past where the top would stop on the front.  Since it has two star blocks as part of it, cutting part of them off just wouldn't do!  Measuring, I realized it would fit on the right side just within the boundaries of the top.  So once at my MIL's,  I unpinned the area where the label area was pieced in and "unsewed" the section and replaced it with some more of the fabric used on the sides of the backing.  Then I had to unpin an area on the right side, cut out a section of the fabric used there and insert the label panel on that side and then re-baste both sections.  Whew!  

I had to wait a couple of days to do all of that because my MIL had a quilt laid out on the table she uses for layering and on our second day there we went to purchase batting for it.  However when she pulled out the batting the day after, we discovered a problem with it!  So while we waited to go exchange the batting, I was able to slip my project onto the table and make the correction I needed to do.  Unfortunately, there was no time in the days remaining to work on the quilting so that will be a job to take up now that we are back home.

The last project taken on the trip were all the string and pieced blocks for "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll".  My MIL had told me her design wall was empty so my plan was to pop these babies up on the wall, work on the layout and maybe get that top sewn together.  However, when we arrived, my MIL wanted some help with some Drunkard's Path blocks she had learned to make at a recent guild workshop.  We wound up needing the design wall to work out an alternate layout for the blocks so I focused instead on the piecing projects I brought with me and the rest was history!

Now that I am back home, finishing up the last week of "Daily Blocks" with the APQ project and working on the raffle quilts for my garden will take precedence in the coming days.  I may even start laying out the "Scrap Happy" blocks on my design wall and see if I can't start piecing together that top even as I finish making the last of the blocks.  We'll see how the work for March rounds out by week's end!   

Monday, March 13, 2023

Moving It Forward Monday: The "Cotton Boll" Blocks Are Finished!

Ta Da! And one day early!

I had managed to stay on track making these blocks for "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" as my "Block-A-Day" project for the first half of the month.  Yeah, stayed on track right up to last Friday when the usual "squirrel" diversions happened (more on that later).  

I had hoped to catch up over the weekend but only managed to get Friday's block done on Saturday and then had to spend Sunday die cutting more red and neutral HSTs and making more of the pieced border strips for the remaining blocks.  So today I decided to just finish up both of the weekend blocks as well as the last two blocks that were scheduled to be made today and tomorrow.

Now with the last of the blocks done, I plan to pack this up to take with me when we go to visit my MIL at the end of the week.  I'm hoping to layout all the blocks and put the top together while we are away but we'll see if that happens since I also have other projects I am taking with me.

Now, as for that "squirrel":

Yet another Valentine's Day project

I saw Kathleen Tracy's Valentine's Day Mini mystery quilt project on her blog last month and it was just perfect for a recent conundrum.   When I had finished the "Cherry Crunch" quilt last month,  I put it on the living room chair.   Hanging above the cabinet next to the chair was the little "Hearts & Flowers" mini quilt on display for the Valentine's Day holiday.  I was surprised that the "red and white" color scheme of "Crunch" didn't seem to mesh all that well in the space with the mini quilt.  Although the mini quilt has red fabrics in it, it reads more pink overall.  I would have thought that since pink is a tint of red they should look good together.

So my solution was that maybe if I made a pillow with some pink and red in it that could sit in the chair it might help the two get along better --- even though they would not hang out together for very long in any given year!  I wondered what I could make for that and as soon as I saw Kathleen's design I thought:  "that's it!".   With all the red fabrics I still have lying around right now, I decided to see if I could find a few that might work for it.  I actually picked the block and border corner square fabrics out quickly and then found a good print for the borders in my Civil War reproductions stash.  

However,  I had more trouble choosing the background fabrics.  The scrappy neutrals in "Crunch" actually read more towards light beige/tan over all in comparison to the mostly white background fabrics I used in the mini quilt.  I wanted a light neutral that would bridge the two.  What I had really hoped was that I had more of the Jo Morton stripe with pink buds that I had used for the vertical sashings in my "Civil War Strippie" quilt.  That print would be similar to what Ms. Tracy used in hers and bring more pink into the background.  

The striped print on the right is from Andover fabrics "Lucinda's Needle" line.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any more of that around in the stash or scraps.  So after auditioning a few fabrics, the light tan with brown branches worked the best.  Kathleen had used scrappy backgrounds for the little envelope blocks but at this point I didn't want to do a lot more auditioning so wanted to find one print that could work for them all.  At first I tried using the wavy textured light inner border print I had used in "Crunch".... 

.....but thought it too light and "blah".

What surprised me was a sort of mod print with "X's" turned out to be the best choice to my eye of the fabrics I had on hand.  It also works in that "X" stands for "kisses" in Valentine's iconography.  Of course that meant taking the blocks completely apart to replace the fabric, sigh!  

I like the final top although I am now debating on whether to add some appliqued hearts or maybe quilt it with heart motifs using red thread.  Of course with Valentine's Day well and truly over until next year and with many other priorities on the list for March, I'll settle for just having a finished top for now.  

BTW:  Kathleen recently did a great blog post on how she displays her mini quilts (and most of them are made up in reproduction fabrics).  Check it out here!

For the rest of the week, I will be pulling stuff together to take on the trip!      

Monday, March 6, 2023

Make A List Monday: What's In Store For March

With the month underway it's time to assess what's in the quilting queue for March.  

National Quilting Month

First up, it's time to celebrate!  March is National Quilting Month and every year, the third Saturday is National Quilting Day which is on the 18th this year.  

Check out the websites of your favorite quilt designers, museums, industry companies and vendors as most will probably be offering special projects, programs and sales in honor of OUR holiday!  

My DH has a vacation coming up later this month and we have already made plans with my MIL to go down to North Carolina to visit her.  That's doubly good news for me because it means an opportunity to have another mini Quilt Retreat with her that week.  

March Block A Day with Pat Sloan

Pat Sloan's March Block-A-Day series continues this year.  She is offering a block called "Cheerful".

I have enjoyed doing these the last two years, each time with my own twist on what block I piece.  I really wanted to do this year's blocks but couldn't choose between a couple of fabric themes I could see myself doing them in.  So once again I decided on a pivot:  since I already have blocks for two projects that I need to finish up and both needed about an additional fifteen blocks each, I decided to make those the blocks I will sew up daily for the month.

So for March Daily Blocks sewing I will finish piecing the blocks for "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" in the first half of the month and continue working on my APQ "Scrap Happy" QAL blocks for the second half.

This will keep the "RRCB" project on the front burner for another month thus improving the possibility that I will finally get it to a top this year.  We'll be down in NC for part of the period I work on the "Scrap Happy" blocks.  I'll be returning to the scene of the crime with them since I had worked on them down there last year too.  It's also another chance to dig through my MIL's scraps to help "fund" the remaining blocks.

In other related Block-A-Day news, I also hope to quilt my "String Beans" quilt (that used a Log Cabin variation block) this month.  It was last year's B-A-D project (pun intended!) which I basted together last month.

Top and basted bundle showing the pieced backing.

Focus projects:  Raffle Quilts and a Memory Quilt

I have two projects that I also need to focus on this month: first is to resume work on the basket blocks for the two quilts I want to make to raffle off at my community garden's opening day.  

Technically, I can see this being another "block a day" project if I am going to have any hope of getting this done by the end of April deadline.  

The second quilt I really need to work on is a photo memory quilt for a long-time friend of mine.  This is a project that has been in discussion for at least three years now.  Last year she gave me the last of all the pictures I can choose from to put in it.  I found a pretty fabric line for it that had colors I know she'd like.  I also purchased some additional coordinating fabrics and novelty fabrics related to her life and interests.  

I did a preliminary layout in EQ8 but that's as far as I got.  I know I have procrastinated on this because it's such an important quilt and I want to really do something special for her.  It's time to face the challenge and get on with it!  

APQ UFO Challenge

This month's number to work on for the American Patchwork and Quilting UFO Challenge is #11.  On my list that is to finish quilting my "Modern Twist" project.

This is an oldie but a goodie that was a one of the three Planet Patchwork mystery quilts I worked on years ago.  They had been in the process of closing the website down around the time that I made this  one and it looks like the domain name is being used by another company now.  

This is not the first time this one has been picked for the UFO Challenge and in recent years I've frequently considered working on it.  The hold up has been that I always saw the piecing as "pipes" and the blues in it reminded me of water so I wanted to use various "flowing water" motifs in the "pipe" sections.  I only did so in one and then got stumped on additional motifs to use.  Over the years I've found a few more but have been working on transitioning to using different machines to quilt with so really haven't focused on getting back to this one.  Now that I've gotten a little more comfortable with my machines, I think I'm finally ready to resume quilting this one.  

Finishing up the Christmas Quilts:  Quilting Christmas Ribbons

Yet another on the "To Be Quilted" March wish list is to work toward finishing up the last of the Red & White Christmas quilts by quilting my "Christmas Ribbons" project that now also includes the bow applique I added.  

You can see the full top here.

The backing is ready and I also have the batting so at the least I'd like to get the next step done this month which is the layering and basting.  I also have already sketched out a preliminary quilting plan.  I'm actually thinking about taking this one down to North Carolina with me since I think I could quilt it on the Featherweight.  We'll see if that happens.

So what will you be working on in March?  I hope you also get to celebrate National Quilting Month and Day with some fun quilty projects or special things from your quilt supplies Wish Lists!