Saturday, January 20, 2018

Small Things

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, an annual day of community service and giving back.  Because I'm a full-time babysitter for the sweetest toddler in the world, I couldn't really do justice to the day on Monday, so I dedicated the whole week to donation quilts.  I finished this one above, a flannel tumbler baby quilt, shown on my grandson's portable crib.
The back is a darling animal print.  You can see the quilting here, which I did using the edge of the presser foot.  No marking needed!
We're having a lovely sunny day here, with temps in the 40s(!).  The snow is going to melt, and the furnace won't have to work as hard for a few days.  The sunshine does interfere with good photos, but oh well.
For my piecing this week, I worked on using up strips from my 3.5 in. bin, and finished two tops.
I'm calling this one Pixel Hearts.  The prints are mostly novelties, and the block only has 3 pieces--a 3.5 in. square of white, a 3.5 in. square of novelty print, and a rectangle 3.5 x 6.5 of matching novelty print.  Easy peasy.  The blocks are set on point to look sort of like hearts.
The alternate blocks are cut from Project Linus fabric.  You probably can't see it, but there is a drawing of Linus with his security blanket and the words "Project Linus" scattered about on the print.
I used what I had left of the Project Linus fabric for the pieced back.  It will be trimmed down after quilting.
Through the middle of the back I've sewn 4 patches made from 5 in. squares, to make the back big enough.  I think my favorite fabric here is the frog print.
I'm hoping to layer, baste, and start quilting it later today.
The second top is a pattern I've made twice before, called Joy in the Morning, by Gail Bong.  I first wrote about it HERE.  It's another easy block, made from six 3.5 in. squares and one solid colored 9.5 in. rectangle.  I like how it chains across the quilt.
I still have to make the backing for this one.
Even with all this piecing, the 3.5 in. bin is still full.  How is that possible?

I hope that I have succeeded this week in honoring Dr. King's memory. 
I take comfort from this quote:
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”.
I'm not sure about the "great way" part, but I have made these small things with love and joy for the children who will receive them.

Wishing love and joy for you this week,

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I Need A Marker That Won't Drive Me Crazy

Here's the good news--I finished quilting and binding the Disappearing Nine Patch quilt that I'm calling Cobblestones.
It's to go in a fundraising basket for my grandkids' school, and was due in February, so I wanted to get it done in plenty of time.
This is the quilt laid out on the floor.  I quilted a 6 in. grid in the ditch, and then added diagonal lines through the squares.
The back is a swirly tan/beige leaf print.
Quilting in the ditch was E-A-S-Y.  Then I had to mark the diagonal lines.  Ack!
Does anybody out there still mark quilting lines?  If so, what do you use?
These are the choices I have in my sewing room--white pencils, white chalk, silver pencil, hera marker, soap, and regular pencil.  Each one drives me crazy in its own way.
My requirements are pretty simple. 
1.  I must be able to see the marking while quilting. (Duh.)
2.  The marks must come off completely after quilting, but not BEFORE quilting. (again, duh)
3.  I don't want to mess around with chemicals that won't come off if they get hot or cold or whatever.

I have been wrestling with this problem for 40 years.  I love quilting in the ditch or with the edge of the presser foot, since no marking is required, but sadly that doesn't work for everything.

If anybody can give me a hint or a suggestion, I would be absolutely thrilled.
In the meantime, I've got an earworm of John Cougar Mellencamp to deal with.  Sorry if I gave you one too.
Have a wonderful wintry week!
Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and  Busy Hands Quilts.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Christmas Red and Ice Blue

Scrappy Christmas stars was finally finished this morning.  Hurray, I've got a Christmas quilt ready for 2018, eleven months early!
Here's a photo of the quilting in progress.  I did this quilt-as-you-go style.  The center 16 stars and the inner border were set together first.  I quilted all but the inner border, and then added the outer borders of stars and red strips.  In this photo, I have just added the top and bottom borders.  Once joined together, I quilted the rest of it.  I'm using my electric Pfaff with the built-in walking foot.
It's a small quilt, only 64 in. x 64 in., shown here on a twin bed.
I quilted the red borders with a leaf stencil I've had for years and never used til now.
Instead of a label, I wrote on the back with permanent red ink.  The binding is sewn on by machine.  It's in the dryer now, and I hope it will be all crinkly when it comes out.
So that's Christmas red.
Here's ice blue--blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2018.  Our color for January is light blue.  The pattern is called Mary's Baskets, and comes from this book:
Classic & Heirloom Quilts, by Betsy Chutchian.  I'm also making a variation of the quilt on the cover.
Five blocks done so far.  I'm changing things around a little, I always do.
I've been collecting, studying, documenting, and drooling over antique quilts for many, many years, but I've never seen a quilt just like this one.   Until...
this one!  Weirdly, it's in a book I bought on the same day as the Chutchian book.
Pioneer Quilts, by Lori Lee Triplett.  It's a nice easy block, and should use up tons of reproduction fabric scraps from the 2.5 in. bin.
I'm happy to have finished a quilt this week, but I realize I just started two more.  Is that even legal?  At any rate, it makes me happy.
Stay warm and happy this week, if you can.
Linking up with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts, Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts, and Angela at Soscrappy.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Years Resolutions, More or Less

Oh Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I love you!  Here are my Buckeye Beauty blocks, laid out on the floor and ready to be set together.  This will be one of the quilts I hope to finish in the new year.
I organized the blocks into groups of 4, except for the last row.  There are 72 blocks, 8 across and 9 down.
1930s fabrics and feedsacks worked well together.  I have a couple of matching print feedsacks for the eventual border.
So that's one of the quilts.  Here's the other:
The house blocks are waiting patiently for inspiration.  I want this to be a fantastic neighborhood, and I don't know exactly what I'm going to do yet.
Streets?  Grass?  Trees? What would you do?
 Happy New Year to everyone!  With 2018 fast approaching, it's a good time to reflect on 2017, and think about what we want from our lives and our quilting next year.  I do this every year--well, more or less.
Frankly, my New Years resolutions are usually not worth the paper they're written on.  For instance, I might decide to try to become slender and gorgeous next year by not eating any chocolate cake.  But the minute I make that a resolution, all I can think about is chocolate cake.  That resolution wouldn't last out the week.
Instead, I set goals, and use the terms "more" or "less".  In this case, my goal will be to eat more fruits, more vegetables, and more whole grains, and less cake.  I have a shot of making this actually happen.  Similarly, I can aim for more exercise and less television watching, and more time with family, less time cruising the internet.
This last year I finished 35 quilts.  That counts everything, from doll size to large size.  Of the 35, 19 were baby quilts, mostly for charity.  I quilted 33 of the total 35 myself, and a friend quilted the other two, both twin sized quilts.
So I don't really expect to make MORE quilts in 2018, especially since I have less time.  What I need is more BALANCE between piecing and quilting.

Here's my list of "more" for 2018.
More quilting of larger quilts
More scraps cut and organized
More quilt shows attended
More fun with other quilters

And on the "less" list:
Less fabric I can't think of a use for (I'm gonna donate it!)
Less worrying about UFOs
Less making things just because other people are making them

On the whole, I guess you can tell I'm very happy with my quilting.  This is such a rewarding hobby, and I have met so many nice people through quilts, in person and online.
People like you!  Thanks for reading this.
Happy New Year!
Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Piece and Joy to All

It's almost Christmas Eve!  Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and joy to everyone. 
As you can see above, I'm not finished quilting the Christmas scrap quilts I started this year.  No worries, there are only 368 more days til NEXT Christmas, and I'm sure at least this one will be done by then.
Here is my scrappy Christmas stars quilt laid out on the floor, before layering and quilting.  This quilt is another two-parter.  I'm currently quilting the center section.  When I've got that done, I'll add the borders with their backing and batting and quilt them.  Please pardon the dark photo, I just can't take pictures on these dark evenings.
The cobblestones top aka disappearing nine patch is done.  I'm actually going to have to buy a back for it.  With all the fabric I have here you'd think I could find something acceptable, but no.  It will be used in a fundraiser basket at my grandkids' school, so I want it to look really nice.  This will mean a trip to the store after Christmas.  (Hurray!  They might have other stuff I "need"!)
It is definitely easier for me to piece than quilt during my grandson's naps.  The electric Pfaff is noisier than the treadle, and I'm right down the hall from his room.  So I'm usually looking for something to piece in the afternoons.  That's where this box comes in handy.  This is my kit box.  In here are kits I have cut during the year for donation quilts.
I pieced this baby quilt top this week from a kit made from the large Accuquilt tumblers.  I laid it out on my design floor on Wednesday (in spite of the help of Mr. Biddy the cat), and pieced it together on Thursday.  I'll get it quilted next, after the scrappy Christmas stars.
I can't believe all the cute flannel prints there are in the stores.  Most of these have been in my stash for literally years.  It's nice to move them along in a warm quilt for a child.
This is the season for sewing with flannel, at least here in Wisconsin.  There are 4 more flannel baby quilts cut out and ready to sew in the kit box.  I might get a couple more of them done before spring.

In other years, I have enjoyed making Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery quilt during the holidays, but I haven't really found the time this year.  This year's mystery quilt is called On Ringo Lake, and you can find all the parts HERE.  Reading her posts has made me remember that I although I have started several, I have NEVER finished one of these mystery quilts. 
Thinking of this made me dig out my Celtic Solstice quilt pieces from the bottom of the closet, and finally sew these indigo blue borders on.
Bonnie's designs are always amazing, but sometimes they're just a little too complicated for me.  I calmed this one down by leaving out the yellow and green chevrons which I just couldn't make come out right no matter what I did.  (The directions were fine.  My sewing was NOT.)  I added a row of blocks at the top and the bottom to make it longer and simplified the border.

And I love it!  It's also in two sections, ready for my kind of quilting.  I have no idea when that will happen.
This week I'm wishing you the joy of the season, and the joy of making quilts.
Feliz Navidad!
Usual link ups at Crazy Mom Quilts and Busy Hands Quilts.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Exchanging Gifts

I have an actual finished quilt this week!
Okay, it's SMALL, but it's a Feathered Star, so that should count for something, right?  I made this for our local guild's annual gift exchange.  We call it the Brown Bag Challenge.  Each participant puts a fat quarter and a slip of paper with their name on it in a bag (brown or otherwise), and then chooses someone else's bag.  Then you make something with the fat quarter, and give it to the original owner at Christmas.
I got Mary L.'s bag.  Her fabric is the beautiful purple print, in the center and the points.
Long years ago, probably in the late 1980s, I took a class from Marsha McCloskey, the queen of feathered stars, and made a small quilt like this and a few more blocks.  In those days, we used rotary cutting for some of the pieces, but most of them were cut with templates.  I have no patience for templates anymore, so I wanted to find a pattern that was all rotary cut.
Here it is:  FEATHERED STAR TUTORIAL.  It's a PDF, and it's long (about 38 pages), but so worth it!  Molly, the author, takes you through each step with examples and lots of encouragement.  I would definitely recommend it.
Here's the back of the little quilt.  I used some wonderful dragon fabric I've had for years.  The designer's inspiration was an old English children's book called The Reluctant Dragon, which I love.  Some of this fabric made it into my Children's Library Quilt (which is still waiting to be quilted).
Wanna see what I got?
Mary L. had my name!  She made this lovely lap quilt.  Aren't the colors wonderful?
My fabric was this purple stripe.  I had completely forgotten which fat quarter I had put in the bag. (I pretty much do that every year, sadly.)
Check out the quilting!
And this back is absolutely beautiful.  I've been leaning this way for a while, but this clinches it.  Purple is my new favorite color.  Thank you, thank you, Mary L.!
Naturally, with the Christmas season, I've been thinking about gifts for weeks.  Just yesterday we finally finished our shopping for the grandchildren, and a week from tomorrow we'll all get together for food and fun and presents.
But I've also been thinking about other kinds of gifts.  Like the gift I'm getting today when my daughters and their children come to make Christmas cookies.  Or the gift of a Christmas card in the mail (especially the ones with photos!) or a hug from a friend.  The older I get, the more these things matter, and the less I worry about giving the perfect gift from the store.
Love is what matters.  It is, after all, the reason for the season.
Enjoy this week, if you can.  It's a gift!

Linking up as usual with Crazy Mom Quilts and Busy Hands Quilts.  Come and see what everybody is making!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Building Blocks

Welcome to my blog.  Here's my "finish" for this week--30 blocks made with the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern.  I'm calling this quilt Cobblestones.
All the pieces are from my scraps.  The brown floral print in the large brown square above was the color inspiration.  I used browns paired with aqua and green, with dark blue accents and light backgrounds.
The border will be this brown/black plaid fabric in the foreground.
Kind of a pathetic finish, isn't it?  Not even a flimsy!  But this has been sort of a tough week.
Our  17 month old grandson was sick on Wednesday and Thursday with a cold/fever, which meant he wanted to be held just about all the time.  I am happy to do anything I can to make the little sweetheart feel better, including watching Sesame Street what seems like a million times.  Love plus medicine, fluids, and time worked, and he was better on Friday.
Since I usually sew during nap times on weekdays, I definitely got less done.  Not a problem, things will even out.
The blocks above were made per a request from my eldest daughter.  She is putting together a basket for a fundraiser for her kids' school, and asked if I had a quilt to donate.  She knows me well, I'm always working on donation quilts, but there was nothing finished that would fit the theme of Cozy Home and work for adults.  This disappearing ninepatch project was already in the works, so I just cut up some more scraps and got the blocks done.  I'm hoping to finish the top this weekend.  The fundraiser isn't til February, so I'll have time to get the quilting done.
While I was sewing blocks, I finished sewing the white strips on my 1930s flowers.  These were fun to make, and I'll be doing a tutorial on them after Christmas.  No flipping flippy corners!
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  This is the view from my sewing room window this morning.  Just a dusting of snow, no big deal for Wisconsin.

Inside, it's warm and cozy, and decorated.  My Red Clover quilt hangs on the back of my favorite rocking chair next to the tree.  Red and green is so wonderfully classic.
I had to take this photo before all of this is gone!  I made Cashew Brittle Friday morning, and it's so good I have to share the recipe.  It's very simple, with simple ingredients--1 cup regular sugar, 1 cup (two sticks) butter, 1 Tablespoon corn syrup (I used Lyle's Golden Syrup) and 1 cup cashews.  Click HERE to go to the recipe at Genius Kitchen.  It makes a lot more than I expected.  This container was so full I could barely get the lid on, plus there was even more that wouldn't fit (I took care of that problem!)  My husband suggested a small improvement, which I'm going to try next time I make it.  He thinks separating the cashews into halves would be better, instead of using them whole.  His way will have all the cashew bits surrounded by sweet stuff.  Genius.
Have a wonderful week, whatever you are making.
Link ups as usual with Busy Hands Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts.