Friday, March 25, 2016

Joy of Springtime

Here is the picture postcard out my window this morning.  Not November, not January, March.  Late March.  This is springtime in Wisconsin.
Yesterday's storm coated the trees with ice, which is very pretty, but not good for the trees.  Thankfully it's melting today in the sunshine.
You can see the sun reflecting on my newest quilt top, which I'm calling Joy of Springtime.  It was pieced on my Singer 66 treadle sewing machine.
Here's the whole quilt, laid out on the floor.  It's a two-block quilt, consisting of 4-patches and a square we sometimes call Broken Dishes.
I made all the blocks for this quilt from my 3.5 in. scrap strips, with white 3.5 in. strips added for the triangles.
Here's the recipe:
Cut 3.5 in squares from scraps in matching pairs.  You will need 100 pairs, to make 50 blocks.  The blocks measure 6 in. finished (6.5 in. unfinished).
For each broken dishes block, use your favorite method to make 4 squares consisting of two triangles each, one scrap and one white.  I used the Easy Angle ruler, so I could cut the triangles from the 3.5 in. strips I already had.  Make 49 blocks.
Arrange the finished blocks in 11 rows of 9 blocks each, alternating the 4 patches and broken dishes blocks.  As you can see in the photo, I started with a 4 patch in the odd numbered rows and a broken dishes block in the even rows.
I added a 5 in. finished (5.5 in. cut) green border on each side.
The finished top measures approximately 64 in. x 76 in., making it roughly a twin sized quilt.
My quilt will be given to a homeless shelter in my area.  The people who receive these quilts get to keep them.  I'll be handing the top off to be quilted by the wonderful ladies in our group who have long arm machines.  When it's done, I'll bind it, and it will be off to warm someone.
I did finish a couple of things this week.  It's still Babymania around here.
I made a little striped sweater, toddler sized, for the new baby.  Fun to knit, but weaving in all those ends took almost a whole evening.  Next I think I need to knit a baby blanket.  (That will take a lot longer.)
I also used some of my ridiculously large stash of cute flannel to make some burp cloths.
This is a commercially-made burp cloth from Carters, that someone gave my daughter.  It's a little the worse for wear, which is normal for a burp cloth.  The center is one of those pre-folded cloth diapers.  I used it for an idea of size.
To make these, I cut a piece of flannel 10.5 in. x 17 in.  I also cut a piece of terry cloth the same size.
Here's the back.  Nothing could be simpler than these things.  I just put them right sides together, and sewed them around the edge, leaving an opening for turning.  Then I turned it right sides out, pressed it, pinned the opening shut, and top stitched around the whole thing.  I used a decorative stitch on my electric machine.
These were so fast and easy it was hard to stop making them!  Here's one with Winnie the Pooh flannel.
Check out this cute fabric!  It was a remnant at the fabric store.
And of course, cars and trucks.

In spite of recent weather, it really is springtime, even here.  The plants and trees will survive the snow, and bloom.  We'll walk outside without our winter coats, and the farmers markets will open again.
In the meantime, it's a good day to sew.
Enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Big Scraps, Little Scraps

I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted.  I don't have any real excuse,  just the busyness of everyday life.  Plus I've been working on family genealogy, which is exciting but very time consuming.
I thought I'd share with you today some of what I've been working on.
Here are some things I finished:
We've got a new grandbaby coming in May, so I've been using up some of my vast flannel stash making receiving blankets.  These are about a yard square, and double sided.  I can't wait to wrap the little guy in one of them.
I've also been knitting up a storm.  These are two baby sweaters, laid out on one of the receiving blankets.  I'm working on sweater #4 now.  Stop me before I knit again!

In spite of appearances, I have also been getting some quilting done, although nothing is finished yet.

I'm calling this quilt Big Scraps, Little Scraps.  I was inspired to make it by two things:  my friend Joey, and my basket of little scraps less than 2 in. square.
When Joey was here last fall, she showed me how she sews scraps together to make bigger pieces, kind of like Bonnie Hunter's crumb quilts.  (Check them out:  Crumbs, Crumbs, Crumbs.)
I have just not been able to do this.  I didn't like the process, and I especially didn't like my results (Joey's were great!).  I'm a librarian.  I like order.  I can't do random.  And I can't waste anything either.
But--I CAN make log cabin blocks.  (In fact, I love it!)  Most of my scraps were rectangles, so I sewed them together and added more rectangles, working roughly around the block, to end up with not-really-log-cabin centers for my stars.  When I needed longer pieces, I either sewed two little ones together end to end, or raided the string basket.
The squares are on point in this block.  I added triangles for the star points and background squares, and made 9 in. finished blocks.
All of this came from my stash.  Next I raided my drawer of 2.5 in. strips, and surrounded each block with them, which made the blocks 13 in. finished.
On to the quilting!  I quilted each block separately, by machine, adding the next block, batting, and backing as I went.  This method allows me to easily do outline quilting, which sets off the blocks.  Once they were joined, I quilted the strips, just sewing next to the seam, using the presser foot as a guide.When each row was quilted, I added the rows together, sewing by machine on the top and by hand on the back.
Here's where I am today, sewing down the last seam on the back.  I used my big scraps for the backing of each square.  This used up lots of fabric, and I didn't have to buy a backing.  (The seam ripper is there for a reason.  I messed up one of the seams on the top, and had to fix it.)
Here's what it looks like on top.
I still have to add the borders and quilt them, and then bind it.  I've got the borders picked out from my stash, and they will be different on the front and the back.  I'm also leaning toward binding the quilt with more of the 2.5 in strips.
So how's that for scrappy?
In other news, this is my current piecing machine.  Check out the amazing decals!  It's a Singer 66, with Egyptian decals, made no later than 1909.  I have had lots of trouble this year with my old machines, although I still love them.  This is the third head I've had in the treadle since January, but I think third time is the charm.  She runs smoothly, spins great bobbins, and is a work horse for my piecing.  So far, so good.

Spring is coming, which will bring sunshine and gardening and hanging out the wash, and a new baby!  What could be better?

Keep smiling, keep quilting.