Tuesday, May 7, 2024

To Do Tuesday: Trip Recap and Plans For the Rest of the Week

It's been a while but I am back again for another:

Hosted by Carol at Quilt Schmilt

My DH and I are back from the trip for the family funeral that I mentioned in my last post.  We wound up staying an extra day so only got back yesterday.  While you hate for a death to be the reason for extended family to get together,  it was a happy opportunity to re-connect with three generations of family and friends we hadn't seen in a long while.  Another plus is that plans were put in motion for a family reunion for next year.  

However, with all the visiting with family, it meant less time than expected to spend quilting with my MIL.  We did get to a few things:  I made up the backing for the "Heartland" 3 Yard Quilt top I had started on our visit to her last Fall.  I had purchased the backing fabric for it during the shop hop we did then and finished the top once I got back home.  

Now having brought it back down with me, I managed to get it loaded on her longarm frame in the hopes of quilting it on this trip.    

The day I did that, I also had the opportunity to show something to the daughter of another of my MIL's sisters.  The last time we were together was eight years ago and I had gifted her mother a quilt while she was in the hospital that I had originally made for myself for Spring decorating.  When her mother passed, the quilt was passed on to the daughter.  Now I have finally used the pretty floral fabric I had leftover from that quilt project to make this new one for myself.  

Once everyone left, I finished picking out an edge to edge design to quilt it with.  The design I wanted to use was kind of dense so I formatted it to be stitched more spread out on the top.  However, that created issues due to the limited experience I have working with the machine and rudimentary knowledge on how to get the design to stitch out.  I spent the rest of the night trying figure out how to get it to work but couldn't.  Knowing we'd be out most of the next day, I ultimately had to pull it back off the frame and initially decided to just bring it back home and quilt it on my DSM instead.  

Because we decided to stay an extra day, we did manage to also load a smaller wall hanging my MIL had pieced.  Once again there was a lot of back and forth and layout changes made to how we thought we could get the design she picked to stitch out.  We ultimately were able to get that one done.  Fortunately that also meant we got to demo the machine in action for her friend, another quilter, who was also staying with her.  It was not perfectly stitched but my MIL was happy with the results.  

The good news is that some of what I learned working on that and from our previous session back in February have given me some insight into how I might take another shot at getting the "Heartland" quilt successfully longarmed.  So I will bring it back again on our next trip down in the Fall.   Like they say, every project is practice for the next one!

Unfortunately, no work done on these two!

I didn't find all the kinds of custom stitch patterns I wanted for the other quilt I brought down (in the Apples bag) that I wanted to longarm so that too didn't get worked on.  Since we were in and out most days, I never got around to doing any piecing on the project I brought for that (in the project bag).  So those two will have to wait as now that I am back home, the machine currently in my table needs a long over do cleaning and oiling session:

And since my 401 is the only zigzag machine in the house, before I take it out of the table I want to work on two projects that need that feature.   

Ever since the pandemic, I've wanted to make a "Jelly Roll Rug" for my kitchen.  I got the pattern and the bulky batting rolls back then and finally caught the jelly rolls I wanted on sale in 2022.  Since I am also trying to Spring clean the quilt space in particular and the house in general, getting this project done will help with both!  

Zigzag Project #2 will be to finally work on Pat Sloan's "Breakfast Club" applique Quilt Along that she hosted from January to March.  

I've had the fabric sitting on my sewing table since then but other projects took priority.  Since this is also planned for the kitchen, getting it done will add to the Spring spruce-up to be done in there.   So I figure those will be the priority quilt projects for this week and possibly the next.  The hope is after that I'll swap my Juki in to the sewing table and try to get in a free-motion quilting groove and work on my "To Be Quilted" backlog until the start of Summer.

On the cross stitch front, the project I took for stitching on the way down has moved forward some:

Pattern by Brenda Gervais of With Thy Needle and Thread

When I left, only the "IT", the "D" and part of the "G" had been done and that last letter had to be re-done because I had started the placement of it wrong.  I had thought this would be an easy stitch since it's so open.  However, I am still getting my sea legs on stitching on Evenweave so didn't get as much done while away as hoped.  I also made some last minute thread changes last night, grabbing two colors from other projects (one finished, one in progress) that had what I was looking for.   So now I'll continue with it this week until I get the stitching done.  Hopefully then I'll get the project bag it is going to be part of done next week.   

That should all be more than enough to keep me busy as I expect we'll also need to sign up for shifts in our community garden now that it's open for the season.  Still hoping May will be a little less frantic than the last few months have been.  It helps too that we are all enjoying more sunshine and warm weather now that Spring has fully sprung!   And when you come back inside, take some time to also check out what everyone else has going on for this week over at Quilt Schmilt!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

April Recap: Still Busy and Now Blue (and White)

Warning:  As usual since this is a month long recap, it's pretty long so strap in!

The busyness of the last two months has continued a pace.  Our community garden's Season Opening/Earth Day Celebration on the 20th went well.  

 "Mother Earth" (Our Garden President) and some happy Butterflies celebrate the day!

Being in charge of organizing the garden's set up for the day was stressful right up to the end!  While glad to have done it and with ideas for improving it next year,  I would also be more than glad to hand the reins to someone else next year!

As noted in my post for March I had started a blue and white Bargello quilt for decorating for the Spring season.  That quilt is now basted and while I have tried sketching out designs for quilting it, I haven't settled on one yet:

One other thing we were also waiting on this month was word of the health condition of my MIL's ill sister.  Unfortunately, the day after the garden event we were told she lost her battle with lung cancer so now we are organizing things for a trip back down to North Carolina for her funeral.  

My DH and I will be staying at my MIL's house and although it will not be a long trip (this Thursday until Sunday),  I am also packing for our usual mini quilt retreat.  I had gone down to comfort my MIL when her husband passed away in 2020 and had found that what time we could spend together quilting helped blunt the pain of the grief she was feeling so I want to be ready to do that again.

While I had put together the Bargello quilt, I had ideas for two more blue and white quilts.  One was based on a Fat Quarter bundle I had seen on Etsy while shopping for fabrics for another quilt (and more on that later).

Fat Quarter and Half Yard Bundles available from Neemerone on Etsy

As I have noted in the last two years, my new "go to" easy quilt design is the "9 Fat Quarter Disappearing Nine Patch" that I learned about from a You Tube video.  I have finished two so far:

The Last Dash and Lavender Love

When I saw that the FQ bundle above contained nine fabrics, two of which were Grunge, I knew I had to have it and knew just what design I'd make it up in!  However, I replaced the Grunge pieces it came with and added those to the stash I am trying to build of those fabrics.  

The light blue Grunge in the bundle was replaced with a tone-on-tone fabric that was used in the Bargello quilt.  When I realized that it would work here too, I was fortunately able to find more of it.  The white Grunge was replaced with a light batik from my stash.  So that top is now done too!

The fabric bundle was anchored by four indigo prints from Debbie Maddy's "Yukata" line for MODA.  Debbie's Shibori dyed fabrics are reproduced by MODA for her fabric lines.  Ironically,  I have a label panel of MODA designers and one of the labels happened to be by Debbie Maddy!  So of course, I had to use it for this quilt.  

To do so,  I purchased some yardage of a print from one of her other lines ("Kawa") and used that to make the backing for this quilt.    

This has now been put with the things I plan to take down with me.  I am hoping I might be able to quilt it on my MIL's longarm while there.  

It should be noted that this is actually an alternate project to take along.  Originally my plan was to take my Juki sewing machine down with me and resume the quilting of yet another FQ Disappearing Nine Patch quilt I had started as a gift for one of the Steering Committee members of my garden.  

What's funny is that I hadn't unpacked this machine since I took it with me on our last trip down to my MIL's back in February!  However, as plans for family members to attend the funeral got underway, the plans changed to having us ferry some relatives down with us in our car.  That means we would not have as much cargo space as originally planned.  So I decided that I would nix taking the Juki in favor of taking my Singer Featherweight and the new FQ Disappearing Nine Patch project both of which will take up less space than what I originally had planned to bring.

I am also taking another top that I had made after our trip to my MIL's last Fall for the All Carolinas Shop Hop.  I had expected to long arm it on the trip in February but didn't get to it.  So it and the batting for it are also packed.  

I had also planned to bring a scrappy piecing project:  Bonnie Hunter's "Shoo-Fly Shoo".  However, now that plan has changed too.  Ironically, all the recent blue and white quilt project setups had actually started with finding a blue and white fabric picked up when I had visited my MIL in 2020.

I had picked up this fabric as part of a scrap bag I purchased on our first trip to the Keepsake Quilting/Pineapple Fabrics Outlet which had opened that year.  I had come across the scrap bag in March while cleaning up my quilt space and was surprised to find that this "scrap" piece was actually a little over a yard!  After I had put out the few Blue and White Quilts I had for Spring, I got the idea to see if I could find a design that could utilize this fabric to make up another one.  That is when I found the Bargello design but then realized that I already had other fabrics in house to make it.  However, I still wanted to find a design that could use the "scrap" fabric.

In mid-April, Pat Sloan previewed "Celebrate with Quilts", the new book by Lissa Alexander and Susan Ache in one of her daily videos in anticipation of a Quilt Along.  I thumbed through the book along with her since I had picked it up when the Fat Quarter Shop ran a book sale at the end of last year.  That's when I saw this quilt using the "Baby Bunting" block from the book:

Since one of the Blue and white quilts I have on display is this mini I made back in 2017:

I immediately thought the blue and white "scrap" print would be great made up in the "Bunting" quilt and I'd love having another quilt with a basket design!  A bunch of blue fabric purchases later and yet another blue and white "kit" had been established.

With the adjustment to our travel plans, I figured that if I take the FQ Disappearing Nine Patch quilt, I'd just as soon take the piecing for the "Bunting" quilt along instead of the scrappy project.  So I've prepped the block sets for it.

The book gives instructions for making this block in four sizes and my plans are to make it in the nine inch finished version for the lap quilt size I want to make.  The good news there is that all the pieces for the block could be die cut since I have the 9" Cube set from Accuquilt:

This is the first time I've used it!

Of course I am also taking cross stitch with me for the drive down and back.  I admit with the garden work,  I had been too distracted (and pooped) to concentrate on the "Harriet Tubman" piece I had been working on.  Then I saw a You Tube video where 123Stitch.com announced they were doing a Spring Stitch Along!  Although I have shopped with them, I had not been aware before then that they A) had a You Tube channel or B) hosted Stitch Alongs.  So with the usual nod to "squirrels" and FOMO,  I had to make plans to join in!

What I liked about the design they are using is that it is a Lizzie Kate pattern and that is a designer I have not stitched before.  I also liked that they were going to use a decorative button to complete part of it.  Of course, I then decided to take it to the next level:  my plans were to do less stitching of the motifs in it and use even more decorative buttons to create it.  So I found these on Etsy:

A chance to try a new way of embellishing a CS project.

However, while I will take this with me it is not what I'll be stitching on the way down.  At the time I had set up this project, I thought I had an empty project bag to put it in but couldn't find it.  During the AC Shop Hop in the Fall, I had picked up pieces of an older line of Pat Sloan's fabric.  I had decided that I'd use it to do another popular Cross Stitch thing:  make a project bag out of it!  

Not content to just work with the fabric, I noted there had been a pattern I had seen a while back that I had liked and realized it was the perfect thing to incorporate into the project bag.  Luckily enough when I went to look for it, it was on sale so yet another cross stitch project was born!  

This is also another chance for me to practice stitching on an Evenweave fabric.  I had started doing so for last year's Stitch June and I am hoping that this even easier stitch will get me in gear to resume that project.   Actually it looks like I will be attacking this frog design another way -- I see I already need to do some "rippit, rippit", LOL!!  I am hoping that I can finish it during the trip and can start the 123Stitch SAL project during the ride back.  We'll see!  

April has once again been a whirlwind, let's see if May will calm down a bit for a change of pace!

Monday, April 1, 2024

March Recap: Another Month Has Just Blown By!

As my posts recapping the month of February showed, that was a busy month and March has been no different!  

Garden Activities

This year I am taking on the Event Coordinator duties for my community garden's Season Opening/Earth Day event near the end of April.  I've had to reach out to other community organizations to see if they want to participate.  In addition, our garden is replacing all of our wooden raised beds with new (and longer lasting) metal Vego beds so everyone is expected to chip in and help with demoing the old beds and setting up the new ones.  

So the garden has been front of mind this month and will continue to be so during the next one.  


For me, with the season opening event now fast approaching that also means I am now back to crunch time on this raffle quilt project:

However, I am once again not sure I will be able to get this (and its companion!) ready in time for this year's opening day event now that I have the event organizing duties also on my plate.    

What I have finally managed to finish is the top for the scrappy strings project I started while away last month:

"Scrap Vortex" is now in the "flimsie" category.  I already have ideas for how I think I want to quilt it but don't have a backing plan as of yet.  Right now figuring that out will not be a priority so this project will probably sit around for a (long) while before it moves further forward.

However, that doesn't mean there isn't new stuff starting!  Having put out a few Blue and White quilts for the change of season to Spring, I realized I could use a few more.  My stash yielded some starter for not one but two projects.  Some filler for one just arrived at the end of last week but the other is already almost a finished flimsie:

This is another American Patchwork and Quilting magazine freebie:  It is the "Roaring Waves" color variation of the "Quake" quilt that was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of “Quilts and More” magazine.   It's always interesting to see how different fabrics and colors can work in the same design.  

It is a little wider than it is long so I'll be adding small borders to the top and bottom to bring it square using the fabric sitting at the top of it.  Ironically, I had purchased that for use in the other B&W project I was trying to start up.  I may still include some of it in that one too if I have enough leftover.  Since it turned out to go so well with this, I will also use it for the binding.  I also already have ideas for how I want to quilt this but still have to figure out what I am going to back it with.  

Cross Stitch

At the start of March I had three projects going:

I had finished stitching the "Year of the Dragon" in early February so now needed to work on "fully finishing it".  My plan had been to finish it in a lantern design and I had gone through my Asian fabric stash to pick choices for that.

I've gotten as far as deciding on the final fabric and format of it.

The Dragon print in the picture above will be on the back.

And there are plans a foot to finally try making  my own cording and tassels to add to the finishing.

Because things have gotten busy on the garden and quilt front,  I haven't moved forward on that yet.  

For Black History month in February, I had started on two projects.  One was the cross stitch version of the Fat Quarter Shop's "Stronger Together" campaign from last year:

I finished stitching that in the middle of March and now need to think about how I can frame it for display along with the history information provided.

The other Black history month project I worked on was "Harriet Tubman":

Work on this one is still on going and the great news was that it also counted as a March "Women's History Month" stitch.  I've loved stitching on the 18 count Fiddler's Cloth I chose for this.  As a primarily Aida stitcher, I like the way the stitches sit on the weave of this fabric and feel like it gives it a "closer to linen" look.  I definitely look forward to using this kind of fabric for CS projects again.  

At this point it looks like this will also be my focus CS project for the start of April.  That said, I also have things coming for a new stitch along that starts later that month!  So I have no expectations that April will be any less busy!!

Friday, March 8, 2024

February Recap: Part 5 - A Little Finished Or Not Friday Reporting

Happy March to all who are participating in this week's "Finished Or Not Friday" session hosted by the lovely and gracious Alycia of Quilty Girl (and Quilts of Valor)! 

I have two contributions for this last report on the things I worked on in February:  one is "Not Finished" and the other is a very important "Finish" for me!  

Almost A Flimsie

In my last post I talked about attending the big Quilt Con show during a visit to my MIL in North Carolina.  Once that weekend of modern quilts and excitement was over, it was time for my MIL and I to get back to our mini quilt retreat and working on some of our own projects.  

In that post about the show, I talked about using scrap strings to make a cover for the little notebook I used to take lecture notes.  The reason I had those strings along with me on the trip was because I brought this project with me to work on.

It is Abigail Dolinger's "Scrap Vortex" design that originally appeared in McCall's Quick Quilts June/July 2019 but can also be purchased as an individual pattern.   I've long liked this design and was encouraged to finally start it in order to try to participate in Emily Baily's (of Aunt Em's Quilts) strip quilt challenge that had an early March deadline.  

I had gathered fabrics for the dark corner squares and the first two solid fabric borders but had problems finding a fabric for the third border.  Actually, I found one I really liked in my stash but of course it wasn't enough for what I needed and I couldn't find more of it.  So I was hoping to find an alternative at the show.  Luckily I did!  

The medium gray calico was the fabric I had originally hoped to use for the third fabric border but found the replacement fabric below it in the GE Designs vendor booth at the show.  I then hoped to finish the top before we left NC but only got this far with it by that time.  

Still hoping to make the challenge deadline, I continued work on it once we got back home.  Unfortunately I didn't get it done in time and I still have three sides of the last string border to add at this point.  

And of course, as often happens with scrap projects, it feels like I've still barely made a dent in the string stash!!

A Long Awaited Mystery Finish!

As I had talked about in this recap post, the big task for our little quilting retreat was to try to learn to use the computerized Pro Stitcher Lite software on the Handi Quilter Moxie long arm my MIL had purchased during the shop hop we did on our last visit back in the Fall.  You know how they say two heads are better than one?  Well it must be true because we got some done!  We stitched two of hers...

....and I got one of mine done!  

Long arming done and edges trimmed

This is a big thrill since this top, aptly named for the mystery as "An Oldie But A Goodie" is just that!  I made the top all the way back in 2014 for the last mystery hosted by the Planet Patchwork website before they shut down.  It has been sitting all this time and now it is a lovely and bound finish!!

All that's left of the pretty binding fabric.

I did learn some lessons about long arming through this process.  Loading a quilt on a frame is less time consuming than pin basting but you really do need all that excess batting and backing around the edges of the top both to help with tensioning and to provide space to test your stitch tensions and patterns.  

Setting up your desired pattern to stitch out on your top how and where you want it and learning the mechanics of advancing the quilt, basting it for each advancement and resuming a design if the stitching is interrupted or you need to change bobbins, all take practice to master.  

Bonus lesson from the Quilt Con Show:  We had checked out the Wonderfil Threads booth, particularly their DecoBob 80 and Invisifil 100 Weight threads.  Oh boy, those threads are a wonderful alternative to using monofilament thread on multi-colored tops!  

After seeing the quilted samples in the booth, I purchased two spools of 100 wt. in Beige and light Gray and a spool of the 80 wt in a medium Gray planning to try them out on the "Over/Under" quilt I had struggled with quilting using monofilament last year.   

However, I wound up using the Beige 100 wt. for this quilt and thought it stitched out beautifully over all the many colors of fabrics I used in this top.  My MIL had purchased pre-wound bobbins in the 80 wt. which they carry for all different classes of long arm machines and that was used for this quilt too.  

I used about 1-1/4 bobbins to stitch out the Baptist Fan pattern on this 47" x 60" quilt.  I definitely look forward to stocking up on more of it!  Fortunately, they gave us a list of dealers that sell it in NC and at least one of the shops usually participates in the "All Carolinas Shop Hop" in the Fall which is when we'll be returning for our next visit.  I will definitely have a wish list with me then!  

So that wraps up my doings for February and I am thrilled that it coincided with the first FONF report for March.  Now I can head back over to Alycia's to see what everyone else has going on as the Spring rains come in and prepare the way for the flowers we will see before long!

Thursday, March 7, 2024

February Recap: Part 4 - Quilt Con!!!

 If you saw the icon on my side bar these last few months, you know what was the special event I came down to North Carolina for:  I attended Quilt Con for the first time!  

When we learned last year that it would be coming to my MIL's neck of the woods, she and I immediately made plans to go.  Since my DH and I usually go visit my MIL this time of the year, it was a perfect fit!

If you have ever been to Quilt Con or any of the other big national shows, you know how phenomenal yet overwhelming attending can be.  We had four days of viewing quilts, attending lectures and watching a few live vendor demonstrations, admiring the "attendee fashion show" that flowed past us daily,  shopping the vendor booths and having more than a few "sew-lebrity" sightings!  Click the links for better reports of some of those than I can provide here.

All the "hands on" workshops were sold out by the time we registered so we were were only able to attend lectures including Jacqui Gering's keynote address.  

All of them were great!  David Owen Hastings lecture on Quilt Labels and Christa Watson's lecture on planning your quilt stitching gave me some ideas I hope to try on projects I already have going at home.  The lectures on working "improv" and exploring color had me itching to want to try to structure some time for trying some truly creative (aka no pattern) work.  Although, the reason I rarely do that was also addressed in the lectures: some times it takes a lot of time for inspiration to hit!  However, I also realize that these are projects or sessions I have to approach with no deadlines in order to give myself time to see where whatever I decide to do takes me.  I also learned about a new-to me sashiko-style hand stitching technique from Diana Fitzgerald that I'd like to try as well.  

Even better, we met great people and had great quilty conversations while standing in line waiting for the lecture hall to open for each session.  So if you are afraid of going to these big shows because you have to go by yourself, I say don't be.  We're all there because we love quilting so just turn to the person next to you and strike up a conversation!  You will be surprised to find that you either have a lot in common (happened often) or that you are kindred spirits in the things you've discovered about quilting or about yourself as a quilter.

I had mentioned to DH that I should have brought a notebook down with me to take notes at the lectures.  While making a trip to the local Walmart, he bought us both some, bless his "good quilt husband" heart!  So the other pre-show quilting project that I did was to make a quick Quilt-As-You-Go Note Pad cover the night before our first day at the show.  

Good thing one of the projects I brought down with me was one using scrappy strings!  

Needless to say in a show with aisles and aisles of vendor booths, ya' know there will be haul!  I did come to the show with a list of specific things I was hoping to stock up on.

In the picture above, the Kaffe Fassette and Marsha Derse fabrics on the left that I got from the Villa Rosa Designs booth were just the inspiration I was hoping to find for Pat Sloan's "March Block A Day" project starting this month.  The low volume fabrics on the lower right were pieces I had hoped to pick up for a "Lozenges" project that will be teamed with leftover red and black fabrics from other projects and were purchased from the Web Fabrics booth.  The other bundle of low volume prints (also picked up from Villa Rosa) I am hoping to use as backgrounds for the "Stronger Together" quilt project I spoke about back in Part 1.  

At the top, the denim backed cork is from Sallie Tomato, a vendor I hadn't heard of before and will go towards a "Barbados Bag" project I've long wanted to make from recycled denim.  Ironically, I had been directed to check out their booth after a conversation with a nice saleslady at the Handi Quilter booth who liked the bag of the same style that I was wearing and that I had purchased on Etsy a few years back.  

The Quilt Con pin was one of four show swag items I purchased.  I also picked up a project bag (good for quilting or cross stitch!) and two pairs of MQG socks.  Unfortunately I missed out on the show t-shirt as they sold out and MQG did not get enough additional orders to do another print run.  So if you go to the show and want a shirt, buy that first!!

I picked up Cindy Grisdela's "Adventures in Improv Quilts" book from the C&T Publishing booth.  It is one that had been on my wish list for a long time and with 20% off I decided to go for it since it might add to the lecture concepts I was learning.  But it got better:  I purchased it on Thursday and was told by the woman manning the booth that Cindy herself was going to be in the booth on Saturday so I could have it signed.  Cool!  Well, on Friday we were scheduled to go to the "Evolution of Quilts and Color" lecture to be given by Sarah Bond.  It turned out Ms. Bond couldn't make it and guess who subbed for her that day?  None other than Ms. Grisdela!!  So I not only was able to get the book signed right after the lecture but I got the bonus of getting to hear her speak on the topic of color as she uses it in her improv work as well!

The Quilt Alliance also had a booth at the show as they are based in North Carolina.  Speaking of those lecture hall waiting line conversations:  I had one with a woman who had quilts made by her grandmother.  As I am a big proponent of using labels, we had a long discussion about how she might document the quilts for her family's future generations.  I only wish I had remembered about the QA booth in that moment and could have directed her to visit it for more ideas.  For myself, I picked up one of the label cards they were giving out...

...and this time I didn't wait to get a t-shirt!  

Another thing we learned at the show is that next year's event will be going back to Phoenix, Arizona and they have already decided to return to Raleigh, NC for 2026!  I'm already looking forward to it!! 

Once the four days of the show were done, it was finally time to tackle some of the projects that I brought down with me.  While I didn't get to work on many, I did get some significant work done on two of them --- but that is a story for tomorrow!