Sunday, December 31, 2023

7 Days of New Years - Day 6: Finishing The Last of 2023

 Well, I didn't get to do any more quilting on "Old Tobacco Road" yesterday so that will be moving into 2024.  It still will be a finish by the end of the mystery season though.  

It also turned out I didn't do any cross stitching yesterday after all but did get a little more done today.  

Ooh, so close!  I had hoped to finish this up but it too will be moving a wee bit into 2024.  So I look forward to two early finishes for 2024!  

Friends are already sending early "Happy New Year's" texts so I guess it's now time to settle in and wait for the ball to drop!!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

7 Days of New Years - Day 5

Okay a quick post:  It's the weekend and DH and I have errands to run today so I had expected not to get much done today.  However, since he needed a nap after coming in from work this morning, I took that time to work on what I could.  Having finished the full columns yesterday, this morning I got the half columns of bars on the sides of the "Old Tobacco Road" quilt also done.

I did the same thing I did last night: marked them and used a walking foot to outline stitch them.  Before doing the columns I had wondered if I should try to just eyeball the lines, use the edge of the walking foot as a guide (the one for my Juki doesn't have the hole in the casing for a spacing bar) or if I needed to mark them and how?  

Well, another "not designed for quilt marking" tool is doing double duty to mark stitch paths this round.  Much like I had used my Hera marker with one of the "Leaves Galore" templates to mark continuous curves on "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll":

This time around I used the Hera and my "Add A Quarter Ruler" -- normally a paper piecing tool -- to mark the outline stitch paths on the bar blocks!

It was the perfect width so it was simple to just lay it down the center of each bar and mark with the Hera on both sides.  Easy peasy!

I also got the first column of leaf motifs stitched over the pieced blocks:

Not bad, good for texture.  Maybe one of these days I'll get confident enough to stitch with really contrasting thread -- but not today!

 Oh, and the cross stitch has also been moving right along over the last few days.  Since I probably won't get any more quilting in today, I might be able to sit and cross stitch when we come back from running errands.  I should be able to stitch while we catch up on shows.

Last progress was seen here.

I'd love it if this could be a finish (even if not "fully finished") by the time the ball drops tomorrow!  

Friday, December 29, 2023

Quiltville Mystery Season: Indigo Way Part 6 and 7 Days of New Years - Day 4

This week the quilters going the "Indigo Way" are treated to more of Bonnie's Vietnam trip in Part Six.  Have you ever heard of "water puppetry" or wondered about Vietnamese cuisine?  If so, you'll love this week's post as Bonnie gives a first hand view of both.  If you've ever considered traveling with Bonnie, you also get a good look at the accommodations a trip with her will provide.  

Quilt construction wise: you are once again making "triangles in a square" (also called Tri-Recs or Peaky and Spike) like you did in Part 2.  However, this time they are with Red centers and Light Blue sides.  As Bonnie notes, if in this period of the holiday season you are still busy with family and friends get-togethers, just download the instructions now so you can pick up the work when you are able.   

Well it's appropriate to check in with the mystery season today since I published the final report of one mystery and am continuing with my progress on another:  quilting my "Old Tobacco Road" mystery quilt.  I started the outline stitching of the columns of bars:

I have all of the full bar columns stitched but still need to do the half columns on the sides.  Once that's done it will be on to do the "leaf" pattern in the pieced columns in between.  

I had hoped to get to that today but the phone lines have been really busy today so lots of distractions.  Not to mention I lost half the day to working on the "finish blog post" and checking out what others have posted.  So reminding myself again that it's okay if I don't get this done before New Year's and that it's well on it's way to a mystery season finish!

Once again breaking for dinner and then onto cross stitch and then onto Day 5 tomorrow!

Finished Or Not Friday: The Cotton Harvest Is Finally Done!!

I have fantastic news to share for this week's Finished Or Not Friday over at Alycia's Quilty Girl blog:

I have finally finished my "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" Quiltville mystery quilt!

This was Bonnie Hunter's 2010 Quiltville Mystery Season quilt.  After the mystery was over it was published in her book "String Fling: Scrappy, Happy and Loving It" (and a preview of the quilts in the book can be seen here).  Although I followed and downloaded Bonnie's mysteries from when she began offering them in 2008, I didn't get up the nerve and organization to actually try to make one until 2016.  This particular quilt was started in 2018.  Yes, it was a looonnng harvest!!

Bonnie is known for designing scrappy quilts.  She gets her fabric for them from her prodigiously collected scrap bins that are organized using her "Scrap Users System".  Bonnie's quilt designs may have a definite color scheme but the fabrics in them will run the gamut of print style and time.  She is famous for finding and using millennium fabrics from the year 2000!  

While I have gone fabric shopping for some of the Bonnie projects I have made, with the exception of the inner border and backing, this is one that is made all from scraps.  This project got started when I realized that I had fabric leftovers from three projects that used the colors that could get this one started.  

Double Delight, On Ringo Lake and Emeralds contributed.

Ironically the two projects on the left are also Bonnie designs!  The holiday quilts that I started for Christmas 2022 contributed more....

Leftovers were taken from Temecula's 12 Days of Xmas, Jelly-ish Snowflake, The Last Dash and Cherry Crunch (another Bonnie design).

The strings all came from cut offs of neutral/background fabrics and were collected over the years.

Each time I mined scraps, I would complete one step of the mystery.   In 2019 when MODA Fabrics and Lori DeJarnett of Humble Quilts ran string piecing challenges, I began to focus on trying to get the string blocks for this project done but I found those blocks to be hard to leader/ender (a piecing concept popularized by Bonnie) with regular blocks.  So it wasn't until the holiday season in 2022 when I embarked on making "Cherry Crunch" which also called for string blocks, that I made significant progress on those. 

"Cherry Crunch" strings on the left, "Cotton Boll" strings on the right.

Working those together in tandem helped me focus on getting this last part of the puzzle done so I could proceed to finish all the blocks and then the top.

This was also a great project for pulling inspiration from multiple sources.  Right after I decided to get this project in gear, I saw some cotton themed prints on sale that I knew had to be the backing.

Then I saw an old episode of Georgia Bonesteel's "Lap Quilting" show from the 80's and knew that had to be on my label when I made my backing!

BTW:  If you are a fan of Georgia Bonesteel and a member of the Quilt Alliance, her "Birthday BOM" block and interview are up on their site now (and Bonnie made a block and interview for this BOM too)!

That's not to say a big project like this didn't have its challenges....  

Like that block on the end...

I didn't discover this one until after it had been quilted in!

When I had finished the basting, I realized I had a few pleats pinned in on one side of the backing.  I thought I had worked them out before the quilting.  Nope!

There are a couple more like this.  

As a result, I think they caused the back to be a little short of the width on that side.  On the plus side, to make it stretch I had to include a little of the selvedge in the back which I think adds to the charm and history of it! 

At this point, I think a little of "Bonnie's Collected Wisdoms" are in order:  

Back in September when I displayed my quilts in a show that my community garden held, someone said to me that my quilts showed I have "patience".  I countered that I saw it as a sign of persistence.  Let's face it, there were plenty of people who finished their "Boll" quilt right away during the mystery season so these can be run up quickly with the right amount of focus on them.  

However, I could have also given up on it at any point in the five years (!) it has taken me to get it to this point.  It was really (no, REALLY) wanting to have this one as a finished quilt that has kept me going and kept it always near the top of the "To Do" list.  Even better, it is the one thing I was able to completely cross off this year's UFO Challenge list even though it took all year to do it!

If you've hung on with me this long, you'll agree that this project has been a "long and winding road" for sure!

Now join me in heading back over to Alycia's to check out what other people have finished (or not!) this week.  This will be the last look at all the creative work for 2023 before we all start anew for 2024!!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

7 Days of New Years - Day 3

Well, contrary to what was predicted at the end of yesterday's post, I'm still working on the same stuff today.  The plan to go "simple" on "Old Tobacco Road" lasted all of a night!  I thought I was satisfied with the plan to "stipple" the center of the quilt but when I got up this morning, I decided to take a look at my "stitch pattern ideas" book to see if anything jumped out at me.  Turns out, a few things did!

I had originally wanted to use the vertical lines of the design as inspiration for the stitching and channel "tobacco leaves" as a motif.  The initial leaves I had sketched out were just free-form and when I looked up tobacco leaves, I didn't feel I had captured them nor was I sure how to do so.  Then I came across two motifs that I liked that both resonated and seemed doable at my skill level.  

Okay, but what about the stacked bars?  I hadn't had any inspiration for those yesterday but today I realized I could do the kind of stitching I did in the "Checkmate" quilt, I finished up back in November:

Some simple outline stitched zigzags would do the trick!  So the new plan looks like this:

Okay, but both would benefit from doing stabilizing stitching around the columns of bars prior to the decorative stitching.  Remember when I said yesterday that I thought that would take a lot longer than I might want to stitch?

You may not be able to tell it from the front....

....but it can be seen from the back!

Yeah, turns out it didn't take as long as expected!  So now I'm set up for the stitching in the center --- but not tonight!   Got to admit, getting up close and personal with the piecing gave me a chance to revisit all the projects the scraps in it came from.  Ahh, a little trip down memory lane while doing the stitching!

At this point, I'm going to break for some dinner and then spend the rest of the night on my cross stitch.  After all, tomorrow is another day towards the New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

7 Days of New Years - Day 2

Continuing with my personal Quilt-A-Thon from the day after Christmas leading up to New Years, I am working on projects that I want to "clean up" before the New Year starts.  Yesterday I finished the first of the Quiltville mystery quilts I have been working on since Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt season began on Black Friday.  Today, I finished basting "Tobacco Road", the second of the two quilts I'd like to complete this year.  

As I had with the previous quilt, I needed to preview potential stitch patterns.  All during the time I pieced this quilt, I really thought what I was going to do is highlight the vertical columns of pieced blocks and solid bars with some sort of leafy print.  The idea was to try channel tobacco leaves. I would also just stitch simple continuous curves in the Flying Geese border blocks but I wasn't sure what to do in those backgrounds.

I did try sketching out the motifs and I did like them.  However, then I debated if I really wanted to do that much detail stitching again as well as all the stabilizing stitching that would need to precede it.  Since I still really want to try to wrap this one up sooner rather than later,  I'm thinking of just going simple with stippling in the center and slightly fancier continuous curves in the Flying Geese blocks with more stippling in their backgrounds.  Quicker because it is all a lot more continuous stitching than I did for the last quilt.  

However, I can also think more about it as I continue to work on my cross stitch tonight.

And the "stitch space" chair is now dressed for the holiday season

I will adding in some different stuff in Day 3!

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

7 Days of New Years - Day 1

So once again,  I will be embarking on a special holiday crafting celebration:  a personal Quilt-A-Thon from the day after Christmas leading up to New Years!  Most of the projects slated for this period consist of things I want to "clean up" before the New Year starts.  I spent a good part of the day thinking and re-organizing which of those should be on that list. It was the usual: pulling out projects and fabrics and seeing where they were and what I wanted to work on.

Quiltville Mystery Quilts

 Of course, one thing I already knew was that for the first day I would be continuing the work on the Quiltville mystery quilts.  I had finished the quilting and prepped the binding for "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" on Christmas Eve.  Now after spending Christmas Day chillaxing, it was time to get it on the quilt!

As usual, it took longer than expected (did I mention this is a big heavy quilt?!?) but it is now done!  

I am a big fan of attaching my binding by machine whenever possible -- which is most of the time.  When you get this close to the finish on a quilt, a machine attached binding makes that end come that much faster.  It was stitched onto the front,  glue basted to the back and stitched down from the front in the ditch.  I did pretty good this time and only had a few small spots that didn't get stitched down so I had to go back in and hand tack them.  I'll post on the full reveal at the end of the week after I get a few good pictures of it.

Mystery Quilt#2 is "Tobacco Road".  Now that the "Boll" is "fully finished" (as the cross stitchers say), I'm finally, really ready to focus on getting the finishing of this one in gear.  So that starts with the basting:

Center is done, still a lot more to do to get the sides done.

I'll get the rest finished tomorrow.  As I am pinning, I'm re-thinking the stitch pattern I thought I would use.  So now I'll have to preview this one before I can start on the stitching.  While I hope I can get a lot done on it this week, I'm prepared for the possibility of it not getting it completely finished before the New Year rings in.  However, at least it's started so I'm sure to get it done before the mystery season ends in January.

Crossing Over To Cross Stitch

Lastly, I will end the day as I usually have lately with cross stitch.  The Thanksgiving piece I've been working on is almost done.

Last progress on this can be seen here.

On to Day 2!

Monday, December 25, 2023

A Very Merry Christmas To All....


....on this day of good cheer!

And Merry Christmas to me!

The quilting is done and the binding is made.  It's almost a finish on the bed to be laid!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Quiltville Mystery Season: Indigo Way Part 5

This week the number FIVE plays prominently in Bonnie's Part 5 post for the Indigo Way mystery!  We are also treated to more of the sights of Bonnie's Vietnam trip -- specifically a look at some of the beautiful textiles seen while she was there.   There is also a video of a woman working a loom (with hands and feet!) to weave a base cloth.

For the mystery, the blocks this week are Square-In-A-Square blocks.  For the centers, Bonnie plans to cut them from a piece of printed hemp fabric she brought from Vietnam but mystery quilters can use what they like to fill the center squares.  In the instructions, Bonnie shows you five ways to make them:  
  • Rotary cutting of both center squares and corner triangles with regular rulers
  • Rotary cutting of center squares using the Essential Triangle Tool for the corners
  • Doing "Stitch  & Flip" corners by either drawing lines or using the laser lines on your machine if you have one
  • Trimming the center square corners using the Simple Folded Corners ruler (so cut first, sew second)
  • Paper piecing
Whenever I get around to making this mystery, I have two more techniques at my disposal and of course they involve gadgets:  my go to for SIS blocks is to use Deb Tucker's "Square Squared" two ruler set.

Deb also has a technique sheet that tells you how you can use the ruler to make what she calls "Stacked Squares" but you may know them as "Economy blocks" which are basically "Multiple Squares-Within-A-Square" blocks.

I have not gotten to use this ruler much so I look forward to when I try this mystery.  If I'm pressed for time, the other option for me will be to die cut all the units.  Accuquilt has dies to cut the center squares (what they call "Squares On Point") to the exact odd sizes needed and the packaging will tell you what size  coordinating triangle die you need for the corners.  Fortunately, I already have the ones for the size of block being made for this round.   

As to my own mystery season journey, I am getting close to the end of quilting "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll"!  Last night I finished the last of the free-motion stitching on the blocks in the center of the quilt.  

I definitely got a little wild and wooly stitching out the motifs on the quarter square string blocks.  In hindsight, I am reminded that when doing FMQ on a DSM  it's better to stick with small motifs for better control.  There are definitely places where I overshot the design and could have marked points to hit with a wash away marker for more even looking motifs.  

But you know what?  It's done and that's all that matters to me right now!  The thread isn't high contrast and once the quilt is washed and acquires "that crinkly look", a lot of stitching sins will be hidden, LOL!  And boy is this quilt heavy now!!  It will be very warm to have on the bed during these winter nights.   

What's left to do is to stitch up the border setting triangles, the inner border and the outer border.  I changed plans and am now going to do the same stitch pattern in the setting triangles that I did in the full string blocks just halved.  The good news is I think I can do the design I wanted to do on the inner border with the same ruler I had planned to use for stitching on the outer border.  

Although this is actually a long arm ruler, I think (hope?) it will still work with my DSM ruler foot.  When I finally finish it all, I want to take it over to our community garden and get a picture of the quilt in the outside light.  

I'm excited that this journey is almost to a close as I still haven't started on basting "Old Tobacco Road".  Thank goodness the mystery season runs into the first week or two of January so I may still get that one done before the season (if not this year) ends! 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Moving It Forward Monday: Another Step Further Along....

 Okay, the stabilizing stitching is finally done!! 

Once again, hard to get a good picture of it.  Actually, correction:  the stitching in the center is done, I still need to stitch on the outside edges of the String setting triangles along the inner border.  That however should be easy since unlike when I was stitching the center, I will not have to deal with pushing the bulk of the quilt sandwich through the harp space.

I was able to remove all the basting pins in the blocks since they are all surrounded so won't be moving anywhere.  So now I really have enough pins to start the basting on "Tobacco Road"!

However, progress maybe slow over the next few days because it's holiday cookie production time!  I have two more people than usual on my list this year so that is going to add to the time it takes to get that done.   However, the further along I get on these projects, the closer their finish feels.  I'm sure any of you still working on Christmas gifts right now can relate!