Tuesday, November 22, 2022

New Guests in the Nest

 In my Scrap Happy Day post I made reference to a new-to-me block I've started using for scrap sewing. Actually, it's been around since the late 1980's or early 1990's. I've had the book the pattern is found in about that same amount of time.

The idea behind the book is to encourage quilt groups as well as individuals to make simple blocks that can then be made into donation quilts. I believe I've made the house block you see on the cover, and possibly other patterns found inside. I've only ever made single cats to fulfill friendship quilt requests. Until now.

It all started with one cat, as a trial run. Pretty soon I had three. Then six.

Now I have something like 25 cats! I found myself cutting every scrap that was large enough into the strips for cats and backgrounds. Which is a good thing, because I needed a way to use up some larger remnants and older prints.

The blocks finish at an odd size, 5" wide by 9" high. That will make them both a challenge and interesting to incorporate in any Parts Dept. quilt tops I may undertake to build. The quilts featured in Janet Kime's book used only the cat block, no sashing (and no borders!), so quite a number of them were required to make a 70" x 90" quilt. When you've got a  big guild all making one or two blocks you can achieve those numbers in a relative hurry. I expect I will be incorporating a row of cats or a couple here and there in the tops I make. I'm always happy to have some scrap patches cut and laid out ahead of time for mindless sewing and these are easy to set up. Best of all, there's no litter box to keep clean!


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Plotting and Planning

 I have a couple of quilt tops in progress here in The Magpie's Nest, and others ready for the actual quilting. But lately I've been missing activity in another sector of my creative endeavors. There hasn't been any needlework for quite a while (partly due to the pain I was having in my wrist and hand). I don't seem to have any desire to pick up the needlepoint projects I started at various points in the past. I want an excuse to use the pretty threads I've been collecting. It's hard for me to make something that doesn't have an end use or purpose, to just pick up needle and thread and put stitches in fabric. Believe me, I've tried. I doubt that I'm the only one with this particular issue but I do feel a bit of an oddball. 

I've been watching Susan Taylor Brown* on YouTube and occasionally drop in on her Facebook group. She advocates making things "Just Because" it makes you happy to do so. Easier said than done in my case, even though I know it's good for my soul. I think I've shared one or two things I started under the influence of her encouragement. After the most recent live stream on YouTube (16 November) I had some new thoughts to ponder. 

I've also been aware of creative challenges offered to various types of artists via YouTube videos. While they rarely feel like a good fit for me there are aspects that have appeal. To that end I had a go at creating my own personal challenge. I've decided to call it my Monthly Art Project - my "MAP" to a place of happiness. I've tossed out parameters like a standard format. I'm going to try to do a small hand sewn project every month but I will allow myself the leniency of two months given potential days of poor health. The key to this challenge for me is going to be my "toy box." 

Over the years I have collected things that can be sewn down onto fabric that will make great focal points. And hopefully, great inspiration triggers. 😊 I have pulled some of those items from the stash and put them in an appropriate box:

Each month I will choose one item from the box, then close it up and put is aside until the next month. 

I will let the chosen item dictate color scheme, the size and shape of the project, and just let the spirit lead me down the garden path (which is my favorite way to work). I'd like to dedicate only a couple of days a month to each project but we'll see how that goes. I reserve the right to tweak these plans at any time. 😁 What I need now is accountability. I'm hoping others in Susan's Creative Circle will play along. And if there's anyone out there with a blog who cares to join in you are more than welcome!

*No relation that I'm aware of.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Scrap Happy in November

 It has felt like I've been wrestling quilt tops and yardage for quilt backs for several weeks. I really prefer to work on smaller pieces, like individual blocks. And so I indulged in some scrap cutting and sewing.😁

I tend to cut patches that finish at 2" whenever I come to the end of a strip. They typically become 6" Shoo-fly or Hole in the Barn Door blocks.

But I also cut 1.5" squares for postage stamp units, and they become the center of 8" Sawtooth Stars.

Some time ago, probably three years or more, I was making Ohio Star blocks regularly. That led to some patches that were cut but not used. I came across them the other day and decided to cut whatever was necessary to complete the blocks.

They will finish at 9" square. The Churn Dash block was another that only needed sewing up. It will be ten inches (upper left corner). All of these blocks will go into my overflowing Parts Department. I can barely get that drawer* closed anymore; something will have to be built out of that inventory soon!

I've tried out a new-to-me block for scrap sewing too. I'll save those for another post. In the meantime, here are the links for other bloggers who regularly participate in Scrap Happy Day, sharing projects they've made with used, recycled, upcycled, or leftover materials. We all post on the 15th of the month in our own time zones (all over the world). This link party has been organized by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden for you to enjoy and be inspired. 😊

KateGun, Eva, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, NΓ³ilin and Viv

*Full disclosure: I have more than just the one drawer filled with parts. There are also boxes... and baggies... and another drawer. 🀭 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Feathering a Nest

 In my ongoing effort to put older prints from my stash to good use I recently pulled out a set of four panels intended for pillows - or so I assume. 

These were printed by the Rose & Hubble Company. I think the birds are meant to be an English variety of finch or sparrow. For simplicity's sake I'm calling them sparrows. The first decision I made was to separate the four panels and then only use two to begin a new quilt top. Of course, when I trimmed the panels they wouldn't fit dimensions that would be easy to work with. That made my first step framing them to a more comfortable size.


I chose to keep to yellow and blues for this project. My intention is to send this on for the benefit of Ukrainian refugees when it's complete. It was hard to match the colors in the panels given that they're from the 1990's. My hope is that in the end all the blues and yellows will work together harmoniously.

I spent time making flying geese to surround the panels. It seemed appropriate to stick with a bird theme. πŸ˜‰

That lighter blue isn't quite so bright in person. I got a bit stuck at this point, wondering what to do next. I didn't have much of anything in the Parts Dept. that would work. Eventually I hit on the idea to make yellow and blue 6" Shoo-fly blocks.

But they weren't enough on their own. So then I cut some strips of more blue prints - some old, some new - and built the blocks up to 9" chevron log cabin style. 

This was the setting I originally thought to use. It didn't really make me happy so I made some changes.

The next step will be to surround the whole thing with a new print I purchased specifically for the purpose. It's a blue ground with tiny bouquets of flowers with accents of yellow. Three inch wide border strips will bring the top up to 60" square. I just have to get the fabric laundered and cut now that it has arrived. 😊


Sunday, October 30, 2022

In Support of My Sisters in Iran

 I don't watch the news anymore, it's more than I can handle. But I do scan the headlines in an effort to keep abreast of what's going on in the wider world. So I was aware of the death of Mahsa Amini and subsequently, other young women in Iran. Then I saw this post and free pattern.* I had to take up needle and thread in solidarity.

 I don't think I interpreted the design lines as they were intended, and I chose to use a scissor charm in place of satin stitching the scissors, but the design still works. Amazing what a few simple lines can accomplish. 

As I scanned through the list of tags I've used on previous posts it has occurred to me that I might turn this into a prayer flag. I wasn't sure what to do with it until now.

*Thanks to Susan at Desert Sky Quilting for sharing the link originally.