Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Red and White and Pink Christmas

I hope everyone had a happy Christmas. We certainly did. :- )

Our son who lives out of state brought his girlfriend with him for his annual visit this year. That was a treat. She fits in well with our crew. On Christmas Eve our daughter, her husband, and all the grandgirls were here for a gift exchange and games. I was so impressed with how well behaved the girls all were. There was no fighting over gifts, no tantrums, only a tiny spat between the twins which can be easily overlooked due to their age (not quite four, and they are twins after all! What one wants to play with the other naturally also wants to play with).

I had a very Skelly Christmas:

From left to right there's a calendar, a pocket folder, an emery board and a plush Jack Skellington on fabric that was hand dyed by my friend C~. There was also a tee shirt with fabulous Jack Skellington artwork on it but I didn't think to get a picture of it for you. I have new paperback novels to read and a sparkly cat pin now decorating my felt hat. I was also given cash, which I promptly went out and spent on fabric!

The Christmas flimsy hasn't progressed much since my last post. I had to make a couple more of the 9" Churn Dash blocks to create side borders.

These will be sashed before I add them to the central bit. Can't say that I have recovered my enthusiasm for this project yet though. Frankly I haven't had a lot of energy for sewing for several days. I hope that improves soon.

On another front, the red and white and black star quilt* I made a few months ago has been bound and laundered. Unfortunately one or more of the reds bled, in spite of the pre-washing and vinegar rinses all my fabric goes through. I put a Color Catcher in with the quilt too. These spots are probably the worst of it:

What fascinates me is how some of the white patches retained the pink color while others didn't. For example, the central patch in the star above is pink but the star points stayed white. There are other areas where a black and white print took a little pink so that it just looks less pristine than it did before. Even though this quilt is going to a male adult I'm going to send it as is and hope the pink doesn't look too odd to him. I will also include instructions to only wash this in cold water and hope for the best.

* It looks like this is the only post I made about this quilt! I'll have to be sure to get a full portrait of it before I pack it up for shipping. Sheesh! I've been a worse blogger than I realized this year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2014 Tea Towel Challenge

I was visiting over at Quilt Diva Julie's blog and spotted a new badge on her sidebar. That took me over to Sophie Junction where, among other things, I learned about her tea towel challenge for 2014. This isn't the first one ever but it was the first one I'd heard of. I'm a sucker for a textile challenge!

The guidelines are simple:
  1. Your quilt must include a tea towel–it can be new or vintage.
  2. The colors in the tea towel determine the color palette for your quilt. 
  3. Try something new. Since this one is defined by you, it can be anything and is an opportunity to add your own personal guidelines to the challenge.
Well, my something new will be using a tea towel as the major inspiration and focal element in an art quilt!

I didn't have anything in the house that I wanted to use so I did some online browsing. New towels didn't appeal particularly. I hit pay dirt at though. The first towel that caught my attention was this one:

I like the house image - I've always like house blocks in quilts - but it was the prayer that sealed the deal.

I've never been a kitchen person. This just seemed appropriate. ;- )

Then I cam across this one:

Another building, and I was confident I could work with the farm theme. The towel is not from 1925, it was put out by Hickory Farms in 1980 or thereabouts.

But seeing these calendar towels got me thinking. About the time of the deadline for this challenge DH and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. That sent me back to Etsy to look for a calendar towel from the year of our wedding.

I didn't have much luck with 1984. But one lovely vendor had a bundle of three vintage towels for sale...

That last one made me add the bundle to my shopping cart. I don't have to use the calendar part after all, and the boy and girl on the towel are in the same style as the Precious Moments figures we had on our wedding cake and napkins.

Don't tell my husband, but the end product of this challenge will be his anniversary present from me. He's been hinting that he needs/wants another piece of my artwork. Of course he didn't start hinting until it was too late to make him something for Christmas. Turns out it was just as well, this works out better anyway!

Oh, and if anyone out there wants one of the other towels for the challenge leave a comment and we'll work something out. :- )

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Piecing Christmas

I think I'm going to have to make a New Year's resolution to be a more diligent blogger! In my defense however, I have been working on Christmas gifts that I don't want to make public yet. The trouble is that after Christmas I'll forget to share them with you!

A little progress has been made on the Christmas quilt (see previous post). I auditioned the 12" blocks with the medallion I'd made. I think they're going to end up as borders on the top and bottom of the flimsy.

There will be a couple blocks from that set leftover but they're not so Christmas-y that they couldn't go into some other non-seasonal quilt top eventually. There are more of the 9" Churn Dash blocks available. I think they're going to end up down the sides.

Not slap up to the Churn Dashes that surround the medallion; there will be something to separate them a bit.

I'm adding the length I wanted with two rows of 6" twinkling stars.

Each row will add nine inches in length (or height if you prefer). The extra three inches allows me to stagger the stars for effect.

It will likely be Christmas or later before this top is complete. Our elder son and his girlfriend are coming up from the southwest for a week long visit. That will eat into my sewing time (not that I mind!). There may not be any blogging during their visit either. ;- )

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Has Come to The Magpie's Nest

It all started with the idea to make pillow cases for the granddaughters as part of their Christmas goodies.

The next thing I knew I was making pillow cases out of Christmas prints to use as gift wrap under the tree this year. Then there were the prints that just made up into lovely pillow cases...

I've made 28 pillow cases so far and I may not be done yet!

However, I feel the need to do some simple piecing again. While I was digging out Christmas fabrics from decades ago I came across this 14" square I'd fussy cut out of a giant Christmas stocking panel.

I also found two sets of Christmas theme blocks from back in the day. One set was part of a sampler swap. They are 12" blocks in cranberry and hunter green. The other set are 9" Churn Dash blocks. I think they may have been from a December block lottery. I started with those:

A candy cane print on blue was the perfect thing to use to bring the panel up to 18" square. Then it was an easy matter to surround it with some of the Churn Dash blocks.

Now I have the 12" blocks to decide whether to use or not (I probably will) and some leftover Churn Dash blocks. My goal is to make this about 60 x 80 inches when it's complete, for a comfort quilt or for a child in Foster Care. The trick will be how to turn this 36" square into a rectangle that size. Stay tuned for further developments!

And in the meantime, I wish my friends in the USA a warm and lovely Thanksgiving. :- )

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quick Baby Quilts

When I read about Debra Spinic's efforts to provide baby quilts for Bambi House I was inspired to dig around in my stash to see what I could whip up and contribute to the cause. Since she is a long arm quilter and was offering to do the quilting all I had to do was make a small quilt top. Great! That's my favorite part!

I found this panel (which I didn't remember even acquiring!):

I was able to cut narrow strips off the length to put on the sides for width. Then I added simple strips of yellow and a blue printed with stars for the outer border. It doesn't get much easier than that! This quilt will be about 40" x 44" when finished.

Since Debra was working with panels featuring teddy bears I paid special attention to the bear prints in my stash. I found some scraps from back in the day and was able to make  enough Four Patch blocks for this top:

Half of these bears are in a library, reading, and the border print is scattered letters. The patches finished at four inches each and the quilt will be 36" x 44" when it's done.

By this time I was thinking of all the other 4.5" patches I've cut from scraps. Sure enough, when I sorted through them there were enough of the juvenile print variety to make another whole baby quilt top. Below you can see fairies and monkeys and bugs.

Here you can see the only polar bear in the quilt and a couple of seasonal prints:

I have teddy bear fairies in one patch here. The border print is the same one I used around the panel in the first top.

And here's the whole thing:

The patches were assembled in Four Patch blocks and then arranged on my design wall. I had the idea to put them up in this rainbow of color and only did a tiny bit of tweaking before sewing the blocks together. It will be 40" square when finished.

This was so much fun, and used up old scraps and yardage that had been around far too long. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to participate. :- )

Monday, November 11, 2013

Flashback to Halloween

I realize that today is Veteran's Day here in the U.S. but I'm going to share a project I worked on just prior to Halloween this year.

My friend C~ purchased a set of Halloween blocks from a nearby guild's white elephant sale. She brought them to me and together we played around with possible layouts. This is the one we liked best:

Here's what one block looks like:

They are essentially a combination of six inch Nine Patch and Bow Tie blocks. Our guess is that this was a set of lottery blocks someone won and then didn't use. I suspect that the guidelines for the lottery were to use an orange print and a black print in specific placements within the 12 inch block. If you look closely, in the block below you'll see that the orange is actually a Christmas print!

It was pretty quick work to get the blocks sewn together. There was one spot in one block that had almost no seam allowance though, so I had DS put some Fray Chek on that area to protect it from raveling out. I added a three inch border all the way around...

And another top was ready to be quilted up for a child in Foster Care. :- )

There were some blocks that didn't make it into the quilt top, the block with the Christmas print being one of them! I took it upon myself to make a set of placemats for my DD and her brood out of the leftover blocks.

I took a couple of them apart and made a few new components to get what I wanted, then added side borders to make six 12" x 18" placemats.

Here's one up close so you can see the text print I used at the very edge. If you double click you should be able to get a nice big image for easier reading.

All it took was black to bind the edges and DD had a fun new set of mats to protect her dining table from the four little ghouls - I mean girls! - who keep her hopping! ;- )

Until next time, here's to those who have served, or are currently serving, on our behalf in various branches of the military. We appreciate your dedication and sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again?

Dear friends, I hope it won't be so long between posts from now on. I've had quite a string of migraines of late, interspersed with the usual reactions to toxins that are unavoidable. I'm one who withdraws when I'm not feeling up to par, and blogging is a social activity for me even though it's done in the solitude and privacy of my own home. I appreciate your patience and understanding - those who have not given up on me altogether!

I have been sewing but today I want to share the fruits of other labors. You may remember that my interest in needlepoint has been reawakened this year. To that end I have been buying little kits that are made by the Stitch & Zip company. Most of the ones I have made up have been purchased through Online Stitch Kits.

Here are a coin/credit card case and a reader (specs) case:

Another pair of coin or credit card cases:

Two more coin purses (I've actually stitched up two of the blackbird pattern now):

And one more coin purse, with the same birdhouse case from the previous picture:

This one is a cosmetic bag:

I've also made up a scissor case. I didn't think to get a picture of it for you!

Back in the day I rarely bought kits. I worked from charts or designed my own projects for needlepoint or latch hook or other embroidery techniques. Lately I haven't had the mental capacity to do my own designing. I'm finding the kits a nice brainless activity (for the most part; the stamping of the patterns doesn't always land squarely on the canvas and some compensating needs to be done at times). I am beginning to fear that there will soon be more coin purses in this house than I can ever give away! I'm slightly jealous of those of you who can knit or crochet because that looks like the sort of activity I've been needing lately. You know, the mindless creation of a dish cloth or scarf or what have you. I've never been able to master the sticks or hook however. I'm enjoying these little prefinished cases precisely because they are prefinished and they are small enough to fit comfortably in my small hands.

Hopefully in a day or two I will still feel well enough to share with you some of the other projects I've been working on these past few months. And maybe I can get around to catch up on what y'all have been up to!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

School Daze

I'm still nibbling away at fabric I bought back in the beginning of my quilt making career. Some of it is nearly 20 years old. I still think they're fun prints though! The problem tends to be that back then I rarely bought more than quarter yard cuts, which makes it hard to do anything of any size. A lot of times I bought prints from which I could fussy cut images. I still like to do that but in an effort to update my stash I'm currently trying to use up the older stuff as quickly as possible. The Scrappy Trips process has become a go-to method for me of late.

Most recently I combined old and new prints to make a school themed quilt top:

Actually, as I'm looking at that photograph I realize that only two of the six prints are old. Both of them had to be replaced part way through the project though, and I was able to substitute other old prints.

When I had four blocks made I put them on the wall this way:

Then I tried them out this way:

My goal was 12 blocks, to be set three by four. By the eleventh block I'd run out of the Kaffe Fasset print of pencils. Of course! I tried to find a small piece amongst my friends but was out of luck. Eventually I found something in my stash that I thought would work. The blue is nearly the same as some of that in the pencil print and the value is the same. There has to be a party every once in a while during the school year!

When I finally had twelve blocks I did this:

And then this:

That wave layout is the one I chose to sew together. Oh, I should mention that I began with strips three inches wide so the blocks finish at 15" and the top will be 45 x 60 inches.

This panel became the foundation for the back of the quilt:

I had to add fabric to the top and bottom to make the necessary length. They are wide strips of red and blue and ivory plaids, also from back in the day. :- )

 All the layers have been pin basted together, just waiting to be quilted. I would be doing that now except that I've had some issues with Ruby Blue, my sewing machine with the wider throat. Once I get her sorted out I plan to quilt this one myself with simple straight line quilting. Then it will go to a child in the Foster Care system. In the meantime, I have a pile of scraps that need to be dealt with...