Friday, January 20, 2017

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass are the days of our lives.  Although I really hope my life is not nearly as messed up as the ones on the soap operas.
Here's what I've accomplished lately with the sewing days of my life.
First, the little quilt I couldn't show you last week.  It was a gift for a friend at our quilt group.  We exchanged our Christmas gifts at our January meeting on Wednesday.
It's a scrap quilt (of course!).  The white spaces in each block are for signatures of friends or family, etc.  I also included a permanent ink pen for the signatures.  I put a label on the back, but forgot to take a picture of it.
We call this project our Brown Bag Exchange.  Every year, usually at the June meeting, anybody who wants to participate puts a fat quarter and a paper with their name on it in a paper bag.  We trade bags anonymously, and then we make something from the fat quarter as a gift for the person who brought it.
Here's a picture I took when I was binding it.  The outer border was the fabric in the bag, and the recipient was Sherry L. 
 Strangely enough, she got my bag!  She made me this wonderful pillow.  My fabric was the prairie points.  She really did a great job with the colors, and it fits well in my house.  Thanks, Sherry!

Nothing makes me want to finish a quilt more than finishing a quilt.  So I finished this one.
I made these Double Hour Glass blocks last April as leaders and enders, and set them with a subtle print from the stash.  Thursday I finally quilted and bound this little quilt.
The blocks are 6 in. finished, so everything came from the 2.5 in. squares box or strips bin.  I scrounged around for the white fabric, and I have several slightly different shades.
After I quilted in the ditch around the blocks, I marked the lines I wanted to quilt across the plain blocks.  Here it is, old school again.  I'm marking with a yardstick and soap.  The lines were wide, but that didn't matter.  It smells good, and the lines didn't disappear until after they were quilted.
I'm not sure you can see it, but I did the visible quilting with the serpentine stitch on my Pfaff electric.  Fast and fun.
You can see the back here, a hearts print in rainbow colors.
When I finished the quilting and trimmed the edges, I had some uneven pieces of backing.  I trimmed them up to the largest size possible.  I ended up with one each at 2 in., 2.5 in., 3.5 in. and 4.5 in. wide.  These will feed the bins.
It would have been better to make a narrower binding.  This one cuts off the points on the outer blocks.  I'm not used to making quilts without outer borders.

Oh, well.  This will be warm and bright, and donated to someone who needs it.

I always think of this quote on Martin Luther King day.  
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?"
I'm going to try to think about this all year long, and find more things I can do.
Yours in stitches,
Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
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P.S.  I'm linking up with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts (check out her cool new pattern!) and Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts this week.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

All Things Purple

Hurray!  The first color of this year in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is PURPLE!!!

It just so happens I have lots of gorgeous purple scraps.  Most of them fall into two categories:  brights and 1930s reproductions.
So what to do for my RSC 2017 quilt?
What about bright houses?
These were so easy and so much fun, I couldn't stop.
This one has birds on the roof and eggs for the door.
Of course there had to be a cat house.  And butterflies dive bombing it.
What the heck, why not a cow on the roof?
This will be a fun quilt.  I can hardly wait for the other colors. 
Plus the block will use up scraps from my 2.5 in bin and 3.5 in. bin. 
Maybe I'll get the piecing perfect before the end of the year. (Hah!)

Why stop there?
What about the 1930s fabrics?
I tried a fancier pattern first, and realized I probably wouldn't enjoy it enough to stick with it.  So in the end I chose Buckeye Beauty.
Classic patterns are great for scrap quilts, and the easy piecing means I'll enjoy making lots of blocks.  These finish at 8 in. square, and will use up my 2.5 in. and 4.5 in. strips.  I will have to buy some more white solid fabric next time I go to the fabric store.
I've even got a project box just for the Buckeye Beauty blocks and strips to make them.  For me, this is scary organized.

So I'm set for the year now, even for leaders and enders (as mentioned in my last post) to make this scrappy quilt.
I'll be using up 1.5 in. and 2.5 in. 19th Century repros, 2.5 in. and 3.5 in. brights, and 2.5 in. and 4.5 in. 1930s repros.
What do you bet I don't even make a dent in any of them.
Sweet purple dreams!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Flimsy Granny

The last time I was working on this quilt it was hot outside.   Today it's a high of 20 degrees here in Wisconsin, but the granny squares are done and sewn into a flimsy.
I have always loved this as a traditional pattern.  It has various names, like Album and Chimney Sweep.  The modern version is made with 2 in. finished squares, which made it perfect for using up my overflowing 2.5 in strips.  You can find the Moda Bakeshop pattern here.  These blocks were so much fun to make.
 This brown block is my favorite.  The center square is a pheasant, from a wonderful reproduction fabric I've had for years.
The quilt has 56 blocks, 7 across and 8 down.  I set it with narrow strips of unbleached muslin that finish 1 in. wide.
No more dithering about borders!  I chose this repro green that I bought at the museum sale last summer, and just added it as a plain border.
Mr. Biddy seems to like it, although he is casting a critical eye on the piecing.
Now I have to figure out the quilting.  Right now I'm considering a diagonal grid.
Here's what I chose for my leaders and enders project this year.  It's from a pattern made by a friend years ago in a local quilt shop.  It's called Scraps Times Two.
The photo above shows 24 of the blocks.  Some are sewn together, some not.
 Here's what each block looks like.  This little block measures 4 in. square finished.  I will need literally dozens (hundreds?) of these little critters.  This will use up scraps from my 1.5 in. and 2.5 in. bins.
Why did I decide to do this?  It's all Sherry's fault!  This is my friend Sherry L. at our retreat last October.  She is holding up 16 of these little blocks all sewn together.  I loved her quilt, but thought it would be too time consuming to sew all those tiny pieces together.
It turned out to be addictive!  I'm having to restrain myself from sewing these all the time, even without another project.  The real hassle is all the cutting.  So I'm doing my usual cut-a-few, sew-a-few.
In other news, I'm knitting a nice warm sweater for myself.  Wish it was done already, as I can use it today.  Some knitters actually have electric ball winders, but you know me, I'm old school.  Ladder back chairs work really well.
I'm still reviewing last year in the sewing room.  Here are all the empty spools I generated, making quilts in 2016.  Anybody have any use for empty spools?

Here's a tease for next week.  I can't show you what I'm binding here yet.

Stay warm this week, and sew on!
I'm linking up with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts and Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts today.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Bordering on Insanity

It's been a little less crazy around here lately.  My daughter has gone back to working part time, so I'm babysitting only two to three days a week, at least for now.  It's a good time to try to do some catching up.  I've had a lot of help from our resident quilt inspectors.
There are some side benefits of writing a blog.  In years past, I'd always start a journal/diary in January, thinking I'd finally get the hang of remembering to write in in every day.  I never did.  I have lots of old diaries that are blank after February.  Now that I have a blog, I can actually look up what I was working on in the past.  That can be helpful.  Or embarrassing.  Or both.
This basket quilt first appeared on my blog in January of 2013.  It was nearly done, but I only had enough of the blue print fabric for the top and bottom borders.  My brilliant idea was to leave the side borders off and finish it that way.  Seriously.  I was actually going to do that.
I think even if my brain was frozen from the January Wisconsin cold, I should have known better than that.  Maybe some quilts would look all right that way, but not this one.  I dug it out of the basket the other day, and finally added the side borders.  They're a different indigo blue print, and that's okay with me.
NOW, it's ready for quilting.
Want to see what else was in the basket?
This is a signature quilt, made by members of Treadle On, an online group for those of us who sew on people-powered machines (treadles and hand cranks).  We exchanged these blocks in online swaps in 2002 and 2004.
Participants wrote on the blocks in permanent ink, giving their names, where they lived, and what kind of machine they sewed on.  Reading these is fascinating.  My favorite quote is "Laugh Lots, Sew Much".
Most of the fabrics were bright colors, and I made more blocks to make the quilt bigger.  I got stuck on the border, and put the top away.
When I got it out again, purple just seemed like the right color.  I happened to have a big piece of this fabric.
Another flimsy finished, ready to quilt.  More memories preserved.
Does this look familiar?  It's the same pattern as the quilt above, in a smaller size and different set.  Sometimes this pattern is called Shaded 4 Patch.  Click here to see a tutorial on how to make them in a 3 in. finished size.  My Treadle On quilt blocks are 6 in. finished, and the blocks above are 4 in. finished.  I started out making them like in the tutorial, but ended up just cutting triangles with the Easy Angle ruler.  (I hate techniques that involve drawing lines.)
The strong diagonal element in the block makes it suitable for log cabin style layouts.
Once again, I had set a quilt aside because I was dithering about what to do on the border.
This time, I made more blocks to increase the size before I added the border.  I needed 80 more of these little blocks.  They were easy and fun to sew.
The border is a blue print I've been hoarding for a long time.
It was fun sewing these long bobbin-busting seams, and finally getting these quilts out of limbo.

New motto for 2017--stop dithering about borders and just get it done!

Stay warm, and keep quilting!
I'm linking up with Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts  and Myra at Busy Hands Quilts today.