Monday, April 25, 2016

Earth Day re-purpose contest

finished at 72" x 86"
A few have asked that I let them know how my entry did in nearby Clear Lake, Iowa's "Re-Purpose Exhibit."  (in conjunction with Earth Day 2016)

I wrote about my "Criss Cross Applesauce" quilt here.  The pattern is in Bonnie Hunter's book Scraps and Shirttails II.  The front was made from deconstructed clothing--shirts and blouses and one green jumper (worn many years ago when I was a jr. high English teacher in Clear Lake).

With the focus on Earth Day and recycling, the logical choice for batting was Dream Green, the soft batting made 100% from plastic bottles.

This floral green/red backing was an easy choice from my stash.
A week ago, I learned that my quilt had tied for first place in the fiber category. (It tied with an 8" x 10" picture collage made from pieces of fiber and unique additions of metal.)  One of the event's organizers told me this was the first quilt entered during their 3 years of holding the competition.

The first place winners were on display at the "world famous" Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake for a few hours during an "Earth Day Expo."  The public voted for their favorite re-purposed item -- and my quilt got the most votes.  I feel pretty lucky. The entries were creative and varied.  

Clear Lake is a model community, when it comes to Earth Day and recycling and encouraging the public to get involved a little or a lot.  This year is their 19th annual Earth Day celebration.  They have days and days of activities and even have a website set up,  dedicated to their Earth Day plans and ideas.

I was a new teacher the first year Earth Day was celebrated, April 22, 1970.  I have a couple photos of some of my junior high students posing beside a truck filled with litter and garbage they had gathered from roadside ditches. It was a quiet beginning to an idea with policies I've followed heartily for 46 years.   Three cheers for Earth Day and recycling!!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bless the creative husband

DH's latest woodworking project
My husband is a creative guy, blessed with intelligence, a problem-solving mind, and a desire to challenge himself now and then.  He usually has a woodworking project in progress, keeping his mind busy and his hours filled with the creation of something new.

Over the years he's made duck calls, knives, canvas/wire decoys, pumpkin seed duck boats, grandfather and mantel clocks, a hutch, woven ash strip hampers, jewelry boxes, cedar strip canoes, and a rocking horse for grandkids. Sometimes working alone and sometimes teaming with others, he's built working musical instruments (guitars, stand-up bass, a washtub bass, dobro), a drift boat for a friend's son in Colorado, and with an uncle, he built the house we've lived in for nearly 40 years.

string is a chalk line from Menard's--without chalk
He obtains kits with the "innards" of some projects and then works with wood to create the finished item.  For other projects, he buys patterns and starts "from scratch" with the wood.  An occasional project will start from a photo he sees or an idea, and away he goes on his own.  (all photos enlarge with clicks)

DH is nearing the end of his latest project.  For whatever reason, he decided to make a spinning wheel. He went to a community education class in a nearby town (he was the only guy in the class with 9 women) to learn how a spinning wheel works, with some hands-on time.   He ordered a pattern, gathered walnut wood (from his "wood stash"), and enlisted a friend (1000 miles away in Montana) to create the metal parts needed.

DH does his woodworking in a friend's shop nearby and brings the spinning wheel, or parts of it, home to show me now and then.  He still has to create and add the treadle part underneath, and then I think he'll be done.
BTW, someday he and I will work together to put my never-used treadle sewing machine into working form. I just thought about that when I typed the word "treadle."
DH lost sleep at night--figuring how to get the wheel parts together

Predicting questions you may have -- no, I do not know how to use a spinning wheel and I'm not planning to learn.  Maybe 20 years ago I would have, but not now.
When we were much younger, we had talked about buying an acreage, buying some sheep and goats, shearing wool, milking the goats, and doing what one does with wool and goat milk.   It's too late now, but it would have been fun.

We don't know what we're going to do with the spinning wheel. We don't have empty space in our house to set things around to admire -- so this functioning wheel may find a new home some day.  For now, we'll find a corner for it so we can admire it.  It'll be a conversation piece, if nothing more, and definitely a thing of beauty.

Congratulations, my DH -- it's another successful adventure!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A finish -- Criss Cross Applesauce all done

finished quilt 72" x 86"
My -- that was fast.  Interesting how quickly a quilt can be finished when all I focus on is one.  My "Criss Cross Applesauce" quilt is totally done -- quilted, bound, and labeled.  It's made from Bonnie Hunter's pattern in her book Scraps & Shirttails II.  Deconstructing shirts and blouses has been gradual and steady since last year, and this is my first project using that "found" fabric. 

I spotted an old jumper in my closet (from my teaching days) -- unworn for years, but lots of great "green" fabric, both green in color and perfect for its new use in this quilt.  The fabric from that jumper became three blocks plus the borders of this quilt.   Lucky find.  (All photos enlarge with a couple clicks.)

I used a blue/red/green floral fabric from my stash for the backing, and a rust plaid fabric (also in my stash) was cut on the bias for binding.

closeup of backing, borders, and binding
Bonnie's instructions call for trimming each block to leave a 1/4" seam allowance around the red squares.  I made my blocks bigger.  Trimmed each to 7-1/2" so they finished at 7".  All my red squares float, rather than meeting other red squares at the seams.

 variety of greens and reds throughout the quilt
I had no hesitation using one particular batting in this quilt.  Dream Green batting is a soft batting made 100% from recycled plastic bottles.  I bought a 30-yard roll of it last year, which "kept 200 bottles out of the landfill."  The batting is light green (residual color from the recycled plastic pop bottles), but it is colorfast.  The manufacturer didn't waste extra time--or energy--removing the green.  I'm sold, and I really like this batting !!

It doesn't shrink much, as AnnieO reminded me in her comment, so this is not a batting to use if you want a puckered look after washing and drying.
It's soft and easy to use.  I may add a small second label to the quilt, describing the batting inside.  Go Green !!!
Every quilt needs its label--telling its story

Now -- one more step for this quilt.  At the end of this month, I'll enter it in a local "re-purpose exhibit" at a nearby town's art center.  I do meet the eligibility:

"This competition is open to anyone who has applied creativity in his/her own area of specialization, and in the process, changed the reason for which something exists."  The shirts and jumper are now changed -- into parts of a quilt.   Go Green !!

Friday, March 4, 2016

A new Bonnie project

A good start with 55 Criss Cross blocks so far
Pieces and parts ready to go
With Bonnie Hunter's advice and instructions, a plethora of thrift store shirts and closet-cleanout clothes are becoming a new quilt.

I've been de-constructing shirts for a while and have stacks of yardage, strips, and small chunks from +60 garments so far.  Her book Scraps & Shirttails II has the pattern I'm using for my first "recycled clothes" quilt.  She named it Criss Cross Applesauce.

Interesting yoke from one deconstructed shirt

What drew me to this one is the lack of typical light/tan/white background.  The blocks will still be distinctive and separate.  As Bonnie did, I'm using many shades of red for the centers, plus mainly greens for the rest of each block -- with some blue-greens thrown in for variety.  

My target is 99 blocks, which each finish at 7 inches, and I'll add a couple scrappy borders of more shirt parts.  I'm working steadily on this one as DH and I have a vacation trip to GA and FL at the end of March, and I want this done before then.    

 I guess a post wouldn't be typical unless I shared some more lap quilts I'm making for the local nursing home where my MIL resides.   (all photos enlarge with 2 clicks)

The three Wanderer's Path (drunkard's path) quilts were assembled from my first ever hand-stitched-on-a-car-trip blocks.  They finally found a home in these small quilts, rather than one large one.  May as well have fun with backings!!

The two pastel quilts were made from leftover 1930s squares (from an old project years ago).

Have a great weekend.  I see more Criss Cross blocks in my weekend.  Once the blocks are done, the top will go together quickly.  
Get your kicks on Route 66--backing

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tackling my UFOs

Saddle Tramp top is 64 x 91"
Three UFOs moved to my "done" stack this month.
The first is "Saddle Tramp," a quilt I started a couple years ago.  The pattern is by Marcie Patch, and I found it in two of my magazines, McCall's Quick Quilts Oct/Nov 2010 and America Loves Scrap Quilts 2012/13.

Here is a link to download the pattern for free from the McCall's Quilting website.  The strip sets were sewn, trimmed to size, and sat in a box since 2014.   I made the 9-inch stars last week, and the top went together in one day.  Large pieces, simple layout.
(All photos enlarge with a couple clicks)
This older peachy fabric from Alexander Henry, called "Buckarettes," will be used for the backing.   I've been waiting for the perfect project for these vintage-looking cowgirls, and this is it. 

basket blocks from Wendy W's instructions
A second quilt top I finished combines two projects from the past.
Wendy Whellum, an Australian quilter, offered free patterns for 12 baskets on her blog Legend and Lace in 2013-2014.  My 8-inch baskets (from Civil War repro fabrics) needed a home.

In 2011 Barbara Brackman gave weekly block instructions for a Civil War Sampler quilt, which were also 8-inch blocks.  I made more than half of those blocks, and they were set aside.  I put the two projects together in this on-point layout. Some of the Civil War sampler blocks will go on the back, as I have too many blocks for this layout.

Cheddar Basket Sampler finishes 60 x 74"
I've wanted to make a quilt with cheddar, and DD2 suggested I pair my 2-inch cheddar sashing with dark navy cornerstones and setting triangles.  It looked bright after adding the cheddar strips, but the navy triangles settled down
the look.  This will never be a favorite quilt, but two UFOs are crossed off my list.

SETTING TRIANGLES INFO (for block plus sashing):
Figuring the size of the setting triangles can be a mathematical challenge, but there are instructions and convenient charts online, such as here (by Bonnie Hunter) and there.
*My blocks finish at 8 inches, but the setting triangles (for the sides) touch a block plus one 2-inch sash.  So I  referred to the 10-inch line of the chart.

**For the corner triangles, two 2-inch sashes touch my  8-inch block, so I referred to the 12-inch line for that measurement.  Confused?  Hopefully not. Bonnie Hunter's info mentions block+sash to figure the side triangles, but she did not stress that corner triangles are figured according to block+2 sashes.  I had to figure that out for myself (after cutting one corner pair too small). 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New lives for vintage tops

Star Puzzle or Pieced Star block -- #2146
My quilting projects to finish out 2015 were mainly lap quilts for the nursing home where my mother-in-law resides.  I wrote about some of them here back in October.   
bold backing for Star Puzzle quilts
The nursing home staff was very appreciative of the ones I took to them, but I was just as happy to find a home for the UFOs, orphan blocks, unfinished tops, and scraps that I was able to turn into lap quilts.

Thanks to my friend Chris for giving me 10 finished quilts to work with. They became 16 lap quilts for the NHome and 14 placemats for Meals on Wheels. 

A total of 43 lap quilts went to the NHome in time for their Christmas party.   The quilts were gift choices for residents to choose from.  Each resident drew a number, and group by group, they went to the gift tables and chose something.  Staff told me that 3 or 4 men residents chose quilts as gifts for their wives.  That warmed my heart !!

Six of the lap quilts were made from two vintage quilt tops I bought on E-bay some time ago.  They sat in a box on a shelf, ignored for too long.   The larger quilt became four lap quilts, and the smaller quilt became two. 
these small Star Puzzle quilts finished 36 x 43"
Tops were gently washed, stained blocks removed or pieces replaced, and questionable seams reinforced.  They were bland with no flash or drama in their design or fabrics, but I felt the charm of vintage blocks could be enjoyed by nursing home residents. 

the other Star Puzzle small quilts--different borders
a wonky star, but I'd call it "charming"
The larger quilt was made from Star Puzzle blocks, (AKA Pieced Star) #2146 in Barbara Brackman's data.  You may notice that some stars were sliced in half to make the 4 small quilts.  That's just the way it worked out, and I don't feel guilty (though maybe I should).
pretty pink and green combination block

The smaller vintage quilt had Water Wheel (AKA Windmill or Pinwheel) blocks, #2314 per Barbara B.  The fabrics in this quilt appear to be older than in the Star quilt (in my layman's opinion).   The alternate blocks are a small scale red/white print that look pink from a distance.  No info from the E-bay sellers re: age or history when I bought the Q tops.  Some of the blocks in this quilt had to be tossed --too stained to be used.
Each finished quilt was 39" x 48"

Water Wheel block, #2314

A subtle floral/geometric design fabric was my choice for this backing.  NOTE:  all photos enlarge nicely with a couple clicks.
subtle backing for the Water Wheel blocks; navy binding

The other quilts I finished for the NHome were varied and nice -- but nothing special to post  about.  I'm just glad I was able to contribute to the Christmas party that I heard was fun for the residents.

Monday, November 16, 2015

More Stars in a Time Warp

Progress on my "Stars in a Time Warp" over the weekend.  An early star last week had little contrast between the points and the rest of the block, but I left it.  Yesterday I made a star where the points were invisible. I couldn't leave it, so I deconstructed the star and replaced the points.
week #2 -- Prussian blue
#2-- Prussian blue with foulard and neat stripes
#4 cheddar -- not enough contrast! -- points were replaced (see below)
#4 -- cheddar; with California gold on the right

#6 -- double pinks, with foulards (R)
#6 pinks;  not sure what other categories are in the L star, but I like it.

#9 -- chrome yellow

#10 -- green calicos;  paisley also in L star;  Cal. gold, cheddar, and serpentine also in R star
#10 -- green calicos, with California gold and neat stripes

Saturday, November 14, 2015

33, yes, 33 Stars in a Time Warp

#17 conversation prints
I've been a busy little worker bee--cutting and sewing stars for hours -- and smiling the whole time.  I've set no target number for each category.  For now, I'm just wandering through my stash, recognizing a color or pattern Barbara B. wrote about, and cutting star parts.

Today I have 33 of my stars in 10 categories to share.  More stars on the docket for this weekend, with +50 more cut and ready to be sewn when I find take the time.

(all photos enlarge with 1 or 2 clicks)
A couple "maverick" blocks will stand out as "wrong" when they're all together, but they're in my group to stay.  One is in group #41, and the other is the middle block in group #44.  I didn't think the stormy, light pink star points would disappear in that star as much as they did, but they're staying.

In 19th century making-do fashion, two stars have pieced parts or a substitution.  Can you find them?
Enjoy my star show.  They're rather blah as a group, but pink, chrome, cheddar, and a few greens are next on my list and will add life to the party.   Have a great weekend of sewing!

week #1 -- turkey reds

week #11 -- purples

week #20 -- eccentrics

week #31 -- toiles (one claret red in the group)
week #32 -- faded synthetic dyes

week #37 - chocolate and blue (middle, with Asian-inspired star, is bluer than photo shows)

week #41 -- neon novelties (novelty black prints)

week #43 -- provincial prints -- haven't found blues yet for this group

week #44 -- clouds and storms


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