Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nine-patch swap

my first pairs of 3-inch blocks for Barb's swap
These 9-patch blocks are for the first online swap I've ever joined.  It looks like 10 blocks, but actually there are 10 pairs here.  I only have 40 more pairs to go.

Barb has organized a simultaneous swap for two groups, one using bright fabrics, and the other using Civil War repro fabrics.  We're following her excellent instructions (here)  for making a pair of 9-patch blocks, beginning with two 4-1/2" squares, not strips.  The process is easy to follow and very accurate.  We'll be swapping pairs of blocks--dark and light fabrics in opposite spots in each.  I'll use a small safety pin to keep each pair together.

Deadline is October 1, and I don't want to get behind.   I don't have a Facebook account, so I probably won't be seeing many of the other blocks as they're finished.   I'll just enjoy the surprise when 50 pairs of blocks show up in my mailbox this fall.

Our 50 sets don't have to be identical.  I'm using various rust and black fabrics I like, as I find them in my stash.  So far I've used some Jo Morton, a Windham line labeled 1830-1865, and the black is a Bonnie Blue Basic from Marcus Bros.   (Double click photo for a close-up view.)  The blocks are square, but the photo makes some look wonky and distorted.

I'm doing a good job this month actually cutting and sewing some CW repro fabrics. This is much better than leaving them inside bins or stacked on shelves.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Working on a UFO

my 63 blocks are now finished
This project has been set aside for four years.   It will be my first larger quilt made from Civil War repro fabrics, and I want to work on it steadily till it's finished.   I've returned to it with enthusiasm this week, finishing these last 12 blocks in the past couple days. 

The pattern is "Brownstone" from Cottage Creek Quilts, a design inspired by an antique quilt.   I knew I wanted to make one for myself after I saw it being made on Dawn's blog a while back.   I'm lengthening the pattern from 7 rows to 9 rows (7 blocks per row).  The Monkey Wrench blocks will finish at 6-1/4". 

I wrote about my original Brownstone blocks here back in 2010.   After looking through those 51 finished blocks, I decided to add pink.  The cheddar, poison green and red already in blocks aren't enough to add much pep to the quilt top.   I don't want this one looking dreary, so half of my newest blocks look like Pepto Bismol spilled on them. 

The blocks will be on point, alternating with brown squares.   

The 63 blocks are finished, and I'll start arranging them on my design wall soon.   All fabrics were pulled from my CW repro bins except one.  The pink/brown block, left side, 2nd from the bottom, has 4 chocolate brown squares with parts of overlapping pink disks that look like colorful washers.   (Double click on the photo for a closeup view).  That looks too modern to be an 1800s fabric.

That fabric was a remnant in a bag of 1800s repro scraps that came from Homestead Hearth.  (Thanks for sending me there, Kathie.)  This isn't the first time I've been surprised by the modern look of a repro fabric. 

A couple choices are in my stash for the brown alternating squares, setting triangles, and border.  I'll pick one tonight and start putting it all together soon.

Heat and humidity here today.  Temp was close to 90 degrees.  Summer is back!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Faithful progress

If I focused on the number of HST in the finished blocks, (80 in each) I might not have started these Faithful blocks from Lori at Humble Quilts.   But instead I'm focusing on the fun of the busy jumble of colors and fabrics, and I'm enjoying the whole process.

These are entirely from stash and scraps.  The block centers and strips will be mainly CWar repro fabrics.  With the HST, anything goes.  Some of my HST don't have the sharp light/dark contrast, included just for the variety.  A little white here and there, but not very much. 

My goal is 12 blocks, and I'll be sure to add a few more lighter strip borders, like the cheddar and the pink.  I like adding those strips of fabric after each round of HST.  No, actually I need them. They help keep my measurements honest.

The light square in the lower left 4-patch center bothers me, but I'll probably let it go.  It wasn't so obvious till I saw a photo.  That square blends into the busy border strip.   It'll eventually be lost in the jumble of fabrics (I hope).

Life-getting-in-the-way issues have limited my sewing time this week.
-- Helping a daughter house hunt.
-- Bank visits to deal with -- hmm -- let's just say "stuff." 
-- Removal of a sore, fungal toenail (healing fine with daily soaks, but boy, it looks ugly just 3 days post-op). 
-- My MIL fell, suffered an alveolar fracture (upper jaw), lost a tooth, and her other front teeth are wired in place while the bone heals.  The oral surgeon was patient and kind to my MIL.  He told her she'll be a 91-year-old who looks like a 14-year-old wearing braces.

Soft food shopping was in order.  Individual servings of applesauce, jello, and pudding were easy choices.  But baby food was different.  I haven't been baby food shopping for years.  I like the easy-open plastic containers.  That will be easier for my MIL to use, and recycling will be easy too.  All those little empty glass jars bothered me back in the days of my babies, before recycling. 

Baby food options surprised me, but they shouldn't have.  These days, we have choices for everything on a shopping list.  I could choose between glass or plastic Gerber packaging.   "Organic" or not.  Single foods or a combo.  Some food combos showed creativity.  Garden veggies together -- OK, that's logical.  Apples and chicken?  A creative mind certainly came up with that one.

center 4-patch has been changed

UPDATE -- 5 p.m. on Sunday. 
I just couldn't tolerate that single lighter square in the 4-patch center of the Faithful block.  So I took it out and replaced it with a brown square.  Whew !! -- now I can sleep soundly tonight.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A scrappy week

one Faithful block done, 3 more started
Scraps have been trimmed, stacked, arranged, and sewn for a week.  I'm working on my "Faithful" WIP and one new project.  Faithful was a quiltalong project led by Lori at Humble Quilts last year.   I made one block then, and my goal is to make a large quilt using 12 of the 17-1/2" blocks. 

I don't have much progress to show on the actual block sewing, but I have overflowing containers of 1-1/2" HST and 1-3/4" HST and 2-1/2" HST  trimmed and ready to go. The blocks are oh-so-easy to begin, starting with a simple 6" finished center.
Top, F& P quilt;  below, antique inspiration

Sorting through some old magazines a while back, a blue and white quilt in the July/August 2011 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting  looked familiar.  On the last page of the article (photo at left), a color layout for the F&P quilt was shown next to the antique quilt which was its inspiration.  This is the same antique quilt that was Lori's inspiration for her quiltalong.  I definitely prefer the colors in the antique. 

Eventually my quilt will have 432 of the 1-1/2" HST, 528 of the 1-3/4" HST, and 237 2-1/2" HST will be used as sashing.  The majority of those HST are ready to go, so I'm well on my way with this scrappy, scrappy quilt. 

A  new project is "Trail Mix" by Mabeth Oxenreider.  The pattern is in June 2004 "American Patchwork & Quilting" magazine, and it's the cover quilt on this book.  (I know I've seen it in at least one other book I own.)   It doesn't have a single triangle in it, so it's a nice change from all those HST.

I made samples of each of the 5 blocks in it.  Each finishes at 6 inches.  Then I couldn't stop myself and made all 32 of the simplest block, the 4-patch.  It didn't take much time at all, thanks to a packed shoebox of 3-1/2" squares cut from scraps.

5 kinds of blocks used in Trail Mix
When I make the other blocks, it will be one kind at a time with no hopping around.  (That was a recommendation from Karen at Nana Girl Quilts.)  She made her blocks from hardest to simplest.  I made simple blocks first. 

For inquisitive minds, the blocks needed are:
32 four-patch blocks (32 done
38 double 4-patch blocks (6 done)
44 triple 4-patch  blocks (3 done)
42 uneven 9-patch blocks (2 done)
24 double 9-patch blocks  (2 done)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dolly quilt for a new bed

dolly bed with its new quilt
A new bed deserves a new quilt.  I bought a little twig dolly bed at a gift shop several weeks ago (16" long, 9-1/2" wide, 12" tall at the headboard).  I made a little quilt top for it this weekend, to be quilted soon with simple, big stitches.  No pattern.  I used scraps, leftovers from previous projects, and random cuts of CW repro fabrics for its scrappy look.  (All photos enlarge with a couple clicks.) 

quilt top is 13-1/2" x 14-1/2" -- ready to be quilted
I felt the cost of the bed was quite reasonable ($20), especially since it included a red gingham mattress and matching pillow.  
mattress and pillow came with the dolly bed

My final four basket blocks from Wendy at Legend and Lace are done.  The last ones made are the group of four, bottom center in the photo.

I'm playing around with layouts.  I want a larger finished quilt, and I need more baskets and some alternate blocks.  Maybe I'll add sawtooth stars or hourglass blocks.  A random assortment of simple blocks is another option I've seen online. 

complete group of 8" basket blocks
The bright yellow square in the upper left basket stands out with its one-of-a-kind brightness.  I think that one needs to be replaced.   The scrappiness of the baskets is pleasing to me, but that one square is just too bright.

Looking at the dozen blocks, I know which ones I'd like to make again.   They weren't the simplest to make, but my favorites are the ones with appliqued handles, especially the Blueberry Block (center basket of the center row).  I always enjoy seeing basket quilts in person or in magazines or books, and this will be the first one for me. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Quilt in a bag + a box

100's of 2" squares ready for new project
Lucky me.  I bought a bag of 2" squares for $1 at our friend's garage sale last month.   I didn't realize how many were in the bag till I started sorting.   My guess is 500-550 squares.  The majority are Thimbleberries fabrics.   The little stacks in the photo are 8-10 squares high. 
I also have a plastic bin filled with more 2" squares I've been cutting from scraps.  Between the bag and the box, I have supplies for a large quilt.   

Georgia's quilt--2" squares fused to interfacing
I want to use them to make a big stash buster, maybe like this one.  I wrote about Georgia's scrappy quilt here in April.  It's made from 2" squares that she fused to lightweight grid interfacing.  (Tutorials can be found several places online.)   No matter which design I follow, I'll probably brighten the Thimbleberries fabrics by adding some purple, orange, turquoise, and bright red to the fabric mix.

Wendy at Legend and Lace has given instructions for her final 8" basket block (12 free patterns).  I've finished 4 more of them (not in order).  No idea yet how I'll put them together into a quilt.  
8" baskets from Wendy's "Baskets Galore" BOM

I like the variety of baskets from Wendy.   Each has been a  learning experience.  I found that I like appliqued handles, but I don't do well with set-in seams.  The basket on the right in the photo was a challenge.  The green and red "flower" pieces don't lie flat (yet). 

It's been a busy summer.  Never a dull moment.  
I grew up on a farm in northeastern Iowa, the oldest of 6 kids.  The farm has been in our family for 150 years (5 generations).  Currently our brother Walt, his wife, and two sons run a dairy farm, Wesselcrest Holsteins.  Their herd of 200 cows is milked by robotics.

Last week 5 of us kids (plus extra family members and neighbors) worked together to prepare for a tour.  Six big tour buses arrived at the farm, filled with members of the National Holstein Association (from around the U.S. and Canada).   We all helped prepare for the tour and then served refreshments to the touring visitors.  Busy day!
Scully -- she will be missed

The low point of the summer was Sunday.   I drove in a rush to the home of DD1 to help her.  Her 10-year-old dog Scully, a puggle (pug + beagle mix), was in major distress with trouble breathing and non-typical behavior.  An occasional seizure in the past couple months had progressed to multiple seizures on Sunday.  
Unfortunately, her dog died shortly after we got to the ER vet clinic.   DD1 had her since she was a puppy -- a little bundle of attitude and personality from the beginning.  There's nothing I can say to ease her grief.  Our entire family will miss Scully. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

EPP in excess

1-inch hexagons plus diamonds, sitting on Kona mulberry
Hand quilting is not my preference, if I have a choice, so I'm kind of surprised to find that I'm working on 3 EPP projects.  Two were actually UFOs, with no progress on them for months and months.  But now they're out and active.   The third EPP project is the Lucy Boston POTC that I'm just beginning. 

more hexagon flowers waiting for their black diamonds
Since my last post, I now have several yards of Kona "mulberry."  This first photo shows my basic  plan.  Adding 6 black diamonds to a hexagon flower turns it into one large hexagon.  Rows of flowers will be joined by mulberry triangles, and beyond that, I don't know what I'll do.  Something will come to mind eventually.   I'm not skilled enough with my EQ computer program to figure out a total plan.  (That's another thing on my to-do list--learn how to use the program.)   My 60-70 hexagon flowers made so far are a plethora of colors and styles.  Hopefully the mulberry fabric will unify them. 

A second Lucy Boston block is finished.  I'm still not ready to show the back, as my pressing skills are suspect.  My first block was sewn totally by hand.  This one was sewn totally by machine.  I'm experimenting to see how both versions go.  No preference yet.  My friends are all using EPP templates to make their blocks, but I'll be marking stitching lines on my honeycombs and stitching some by hand, some by machine.
Lucy Boston block #2

My third EPP project is my castle wall blocks that I first wrote about here.  I have 17 blocks finished, and 5 or 6 connector segments done.  My target number is either 30 or 42 blocks.  I sound wishy-washy.  I'm in the middle of a project, and I'm not sure how big I'm making it.  Maybe it will be a bed-sized quilt, or maybe a smaller lap-sized quilt so  I can go on to another project sooner.

castle wall blocks
The final photo shows my castle wall blocks on the design wall,  with a few connector blocks stuck in between.  I'm using many William Morris style prints that I love, blues, greens, and pinks.  Vertical rows of blocks will be connected with single, elongated honeycombs, and connector sections between rows are more detailed.  In my haste to get them up and photographed, seam allowances are overlapping each other on the design wall, distorting the block shapes.  

When I get together for a day with the Mavens, my hand-quilting friends, I have a great trio of projects to choose from.    

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Don't trust your monitor

what I wanted on the right; what I got, on the left
Lesson learned, and I'm paying for it with my checkbook.   I thought I could ignore advice I've read for years.  
"Don't trust colors as they appear on your monitor."   No kidding!!

In my last post I mentioned ordering fabric for a project with my flower hexagons.  I want a nice dark-orchid purple, a color I've seen described as "elderberry." 

I thought I'd found the perfect color on the Thousands of Bolts website.   The company quickly shipped my order.   My stomach lurched when I opened the package this afternoon.  The color is all wrong.  It's not the company's fault.  I should have known better than to order by monitor alone.

It's quite a color difference, and there's no way this fabric will work.  I now have several yards of a lovely  backing. Dark bright pink is not a color I typically use.  Oh well -- more shopping ahead, this time in person. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reflections on a garage sale

my new bag and its hidden treasure
A successful garage sale for a retiring quilter, manned by my friends and me, is over.  After all the work, I started typing a long diatribe with warnings about buying too much, the dangers of an overwhelming stash, and the work our relatives and friends will have in the future, dealing with our stuff.

Forget it.  I deleted that lecture.  You know who are and you know your habits, both good and bad. You know the consequences.  There will be  no lecture from me.  

I don't need a thing (we ALL say that, don't we?), but there were so many bargains. I brought home fabric, books, notions, and magazines.
patriotic supplies for my next lap-sized share Q
My favorite purchase was a bag that sat unsold for 1-1/2 days.   It was one of the quilter's many unfinished projects, needing only a handle made and put through the 8 giant grommets.  The bag was $2 the first day, marked down to $1 the second day.  I eventually claimed it as mine.   Later I checked to see how many interior pockets it had--and inside one I found a $5 bill !!  No clue why money was in an unfinished bag, but it was my lucky day.  

This red/tan/blue star is a 25" x 25" unfinished project from the sale.  I'll add borders to make it a rectangle, incorporating 12 patriotic pictures from a panel I already had.  Extra red or blue to be added--not sure which yet.  I'll find what I need in my healthy stash.

my previous layout plan -- but this is now taken apart
Since the weekend, I've spent hours going through dozens of old "Quilter's Newsletter Magazines" found at the sale.   Most were from the late 1980s and early 1990s.   I've reduced the bundles to a stack of saved articles and pictures "for inspiration only."   

One picture of an antique quilt has inspired me and won't let go.  No pattern--just a photo of an old quilt lying in a berry patch.  As a result, I've changed my plans for hexagon flowers I've made off and on over past years.  My original design was to surround the flowers with green hexagons and call it done.  But the green hexagons have now been removed.

I'll show my new plans another day.  I'll be trying to replicate the look of that old quilt from the photo.  To be honest, I had to order some new EPP templates and one specific new fabric to work on this new plan.   (Currently hanging my head in shame -- sighing deeply.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Combining UFOs

my starting block for a Round Robin
My quilting focus lately keeps going back to UFOs.   Our guild had a "finish your UFOs" project this past year, and I keep checking my list, working on them now and then.   This past weekend at a quilting retreat, I worked on two UFOs that will eventually be combined together.

Two years ago we had a round robin project at guild, and this red/white/aqua block was my 12" starter block, #82 in "Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks" magazine, volume 1.  It's by Kim Brackett, author of the very popular Scrap-Basket books.   Instructions to my round robin group were to make pieced blocks using red, turquoise, and white fabrics.  The round robin involved making 12" and 6" blocks and leaving them unattached, not adding rounds to a quilt. 

my project blocks so far, waiting for a layout plan
A couple years before the round robin, I participated in a Thangles "Buck A Block" monthly project at our LQS.  The monthly kits had 1-3/4" Thangles and strips of white and red fabrics.

I'm going to combine my round robin blocks and the Thangles blocks into one quilt.   The challenge is that  I'm dealing with 6" and 12" round robin blocks, and the Thangles blocks finish at 7".   I'll eventually come up with a plan.  Right now my goal is to turn the red-and-white kits into assorted 7" blocks (with red stash fabric added here and there), and I'm making turquoise-and-white blocks from my stash.
Coping strips or borders will come into play before this project is done.  I like these three colors together.  Crisp and clean.

In the "group photo," the 9 two-color blocks in the top right section are made from 1-3/4" and 3-1/2" Thangles.  All other blocks are from the round robin project.   They will all be subject to change in the future, once I make my plan.

I'm heading to a friend's garage to help set up a weekend garage sale for a retiring quilter.  Many hands help the work go quickly. 


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