Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Back to the Beginning?

Having finished, or nearly finished, so many quilts of late it would appear my creative self needs a change of pace. I currently have little interest in piecing or building quilt tops out of my Parts Department. It would be scary if it weren't for the fact that I have developed an avid desire to work with a hand needle and colorful floss instead.

I began my needlework career as many others have, as a child doing simple embroidery. By the time I was twenty I had gone through latch hook rug making and settled into needlepoint in a big way. I dabbled in blackwork and cross stitch but never did much more embroidery. It would appear it's time to circle back around to the early days of my needlework career.

If you've been visiting regularly over the last several years you'll know I enjoy bead embroidery, inspired by workshops with and books by Robin Atkins. I followed Sharon B. over on her blog Pintangle for a couple of years too. I've always retained an interest in the type of embroidery done on crazy quilts although I never fell deeply into that particular pool. Sharon's long band sampler really piqued my interest however, and has stayed with me. Something of that ilk has been on my nebulous needlework bucket list. Now I find myself lusting after Nancy's hand dyed floss over at the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. I finished up the litter of Cocker spaniel puppies I've been stitching on a dish towel (but I'm waiting for the next stitch along post to share that). What to do next?

Almost without thinking - the best way for me to begin some projects  - I got out embroidery transfer patterns I've acquired from Sublime Stitching, selected a couple of images, and ironed them onto a strip of bleached muslin. I purposefully cut the strip 8.5" wide and from selvage to selvage. I've folded it in half to get a piece 8.5" wide by about 22" long.

I wanted a place where I could stitch without having to think about what it's going to be turned into later, where I could play with color combinations more freely and practice my embroidery skills and stitches. Something that didn't feel too precious,. That was a problem I ran into when I tried to do this with a piece of linen several years ago. There's no way this will become the lengthy sampler Sharon has created (nowhere near!) but hopefully it will be a place for me to play. That element of play, of freedom, is something I need to cultivate. I grew up in the era when the goal was to make handmade things look machine made, "perfect." And being a hyper-responsible type I've had a very hard time shaking that upbringing. Even now I'm having trouble deciding what color to make this Virgin's robes. Lime green and fuchsia? Or the more traditional red and blue? I need to just delve into my box(es) of embroidery floss and see what turns up. But oh, how I would like to try out Nancy's floss on this!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hands 2 Help 2017

This year's Hands2Help quilt drive is coming to a close. I actually had my quilt top finished early this time around. Which was a good thing because it took more time to get the binding on and stitched down than I would have expected. But the quilt was laundered and labelled and sent on its' way last week. Woohoo!

Of the three official charities in the program this year I chose to make a quilt for the International Institute of St. Louis. These folks help immigrants and their families become productive new Americans. I was grateful for an opportunity to show my support for those fleeing dangerous or poverty stricken areas of the world. Of course the first thing I did was to rummage about in my Parts Department to see what blocks jumped out at me, eager to be put to good use.

I figure everyone can use an extra chicken in their pot (or basket, as the case may be).

From there I pulled out other blocks with chicken prints or in warm tones. I began with a medallion setting in mind...

...but eventually turned it into more of a strippy set with long sashing between three primary columns.

James did simple allover quilting with loops.

After making a binding that turned out to be a poor color choice I found a better, darker tone and put that on. I'm very happy with the way this turned out, and even happier to have beat the deadline with time to spare!

You can see the other quilts that have been made for this year's H2H quilt drive over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. If you ever need inspiration for a new project the link party will be a great place to look. :- )

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ten Years Later

About a week ago I realized I'd missed my 10 year blogiversary. I haven't been up to posting about it either. Haven't been online much at all really. Wish there was a better reason for this absence than poor health. Well, a happier reason anyway. Poor health is a pretty good reason afterall. It keeps me from doing a lot of things I'd really like to do. {sigh}

I haven't put away my embroidery projects since the last SAL check-in (see previous post).

One of the Cocker puppy transfers didn't print as darkly as I seem to need these days so I've had the original pattern out to guide my stitches. I'll show you the progress in the next SAL post on 4 June. The little fox needlepoint case will very likely be finished by then too. I have another case on order but I'm still racking my brains for something equally mindless to stitch for those occasions when my brain shuts down. I've reached the point where I'm making duplicates of cases I've already made once!

I've assembled the blue Patience Corner blocks into a flimsy.

Oh no! I think I swapped a block accidentally. I'm going to have to go back in and fix that. 

I want to find a medium to large scale floral print to use for a border. That may take a while so this has been relegated to the closet until I feel up to the shopping trip.

I made these three Scrappy Trip blocks for Scrap Happy Day but then missed the event.

They look pretty muddy to me on their own. Hopefully they will blend in well when I finally get around to setting the blocks into a quilt top.

One bright spot in the past week was the purchase and installation of a lilac in our front yard. I've always loved the flowers and for the last couple of years have threatened to steal blooms off the bushes in the neighborhood. For Mother's Day this year I decided to just buy a starter shrub for myself. James helped me get it planted. I not sure my husband has even noticed the new addition! Now we have to get the two David Austin Roses I ordered planted in the weed flower bed before the weather turns really warm. This is going to involve moving at least a couple of established plants. I haven't yet quite figured out what I'm going to do with them, which is one reason the roses are still sitting in their pots. That and the consecutive days of rain we've had. I've got to get them in the ground before the air quality around here diminishes too. Time to get up off my butt!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Stitch Along in May

I've been doing more needlework than usual lately. To begin with, I've finished the little needlepoint case that will be nearly a twin to the original. This is where I was the last time I showed it to you:

And here we have it finished!

After blocking the black floss covered the white canvas a tiny bit better. By the way, that big knot of leftover black floss I was looking for never turned up. I actually ended up buying a brand new skein of floss just for this case. Fortunately floss is not expensive. Although if you have a taste for hand dyed floss I've found a wonderful source in The Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. I've been drooling over her latest batches and trying to figure out an easy way to put them to good use. Of course, I have plenty of iron-on transfer patterns I could use. Right now I just don't have much creative energy. I want someone to hand me the fabric with the colors and stitches already selected so I can just sit and stitch!

I've made progress on the little fox needlepoint case too. From this:

To this:

You may remember I chose to substitute a purple for the gray that was provided for the background areas. This particular purple has turned out to be a little strong for my taste but hopefully someone else will enjoy it.

I've also done a bit more on the dish towel with the litter of Cocker Spaniel puppies frolicking along the hem. It's hard to get the whole width of the towel in one shot so let me just show you where progress has been made.

This puppy has been completed since this photo was taken, as have the leaves of the plant he's inspecting.

This is the last puppy of the litter.

He may very well be completed by the next SAL on 4 June. There's a lot of excellent needlework to be seen in the rest of the SAL. Make yourself a cup of your favorite beverage and take the tour!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Blue Patience Corners

Last year I requested 12" (finished) Patience Corner blocks from my local guild members for a quilt for our women's shelter. I meant to wait a full year to set the blocks but I think I've received all that will be coming in. I had also thought to have 49 blocks to set 7 x 7 for an 84" quilt. There were 40 blocks when I counted them up the other day. A couple weren't the right size due to cutting errors and one wasn't made in prints that would blend with the rest of the group. Of the remaining blocks I fully expect one or two to be shy of the full 12.5" for easy piecing and I'll have a couple left over. It would be simple to make more blocks but I don't want to. Instead I'm going to set 36 blocks 6 x 6 and then add 6" of border all the way around. I don't have a clue yet what that border will be; I'll worry about that later. 

 Because it was so successful in the quilt I made for my granddaughter (which was inspired by the request for the blocks in blue)...

I began by laying out the blocks the same arrangement. There were quite a few blocks with yellow squares within the blue framework. So many, in fact, I was able to make a giant X to begin designing around!

This may not be the picture of the final block placements but you get the idea. Once I had them arranged to my satisfaction I couldn't help but wonder how they would look set straight, all facing the same direction.

Darn if I don't like it better this way! I was afraid that once I'd turned the blocks I'd want to rearrange them again according to the values of the blues. I did change a couple of blocks around but more for a better placement of the focal patches than for the balance of blues. Another perk of this arrangement is that seams that ought to line up but don't won't be nearly as obvious. All I have to do now is sew them together. :- ) 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hands2Help 2017

It's a good thing I got an early start on my quilt for the Hands2Help quilt drive this year! The top was begun mid-February and complete by the end of the month. Then there was the wedding quilt and a baby quilt and all sorts of other projects while it waited for it's turn to be quilted. We won't mention all the time lost to recovery from toxic exposures and other health issues (so frustrating!). It sat, folded up, for some time after it had been quilted too. I'm afraid that shows in this picture I took a couple of days ago.

65" x 88"

I have binding made for it now in a better color than I'd originally chosen (see previous post). It's very close to the dark color of the vertical sashes and border strips. I hope to get that on during the coming week. That should insure this gets shipped before the June 2 deadline!

For those who may be visiting here for the first time you can read about how this quilt was built out of my Parts Department in this post. I'm linking up with some of the other quilters participating in H2H over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict today. Guest blogger Laura has shared a nifty quickie quilt pattern too. Looks like a candidate for stash busting to me. ;- )

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Flimsies, A Finish, and More Binding

Once again life and my body got the better of me. I hadn't realized how much I'd accomplished and not put on my blog until this morning. The batik friendship blocks were put away temporarily while I worked on the blocks for the quilt I intend to send to Covered in Love. When all twenty blocks were complete I put them on the wall in my fallback arrangement:

It actually looks better on the computer than it did in person. I went for a different arrangement however.

The back's been made and it's in the queue for quilting. It will be about 60" wide and 75" long when it's done.

Remember how I put bindings on four quilts last month? The first one was the wedding quilt, which has been sent and received and appreciated. :- ) The second was my F2F2 quilt, which I showed you here. The next one I tackled was the quilt I've decided to call Precious Gems because it features hand-dyes and batiks I only had a little of or didn't want to part with entirely. Taa daa:

60" x 78" (w x h)

I've begun to stitch down the binding on my Macabre Medallion but will have to set it aside to get the binding on the quilt for the Hands2Help quilt drive this year. I had a binding made but when I went to put it on the quilt I couldn't live with the discrepancy between the color of the binding and the border print.  I don't remember now where I acquired that fabric for the binding but I know I bought it specifically for that quilt. My color sense doesn't fail me very often but it sure did this time! Now I'm going to have to hurry a bit to meet the deadline {sigh}.

Another recent accomplishment was the assembly of my Diary Quilt top, my version of the Quilty 365 projects. I had 13 columns that needed to be set together. It took a while to find the right color/print to fulfill that purpose but I'm very happy with this yellow with tiny random orange dots.

I have a back made for this too, out of a couple of random prints from my stash, and it's also in the quilting queue. This will finish at my standard size at 80" wide and 60" high.The binding has already been made out of the same yellow I used to border the strips. At least that was an easy choice!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Another April SAL

Our Stitch Along schedule has given us two check-in opportunities this month! It seems I'm done with embroidery for the time being. My handwork of choice lately has been needlepoint.

I showed you the beginning of this coin purse earlier in the  month.

I've made quite a bit of progress since then!

The idea was to use up the leftover floss from previous Stitch and Zip kits. Somewhere around here there's a sizable knot of black floss that I thought I'd use for this project. Do you think I can find it? Of course not. It's not in my embroidery basket or the tote with my stash of other embroidery threads. It doesn't seem to be in any of the logical places I would expect to find it in. I think I'm reduced to looking in the illogical places. I've made a start on the background anyway but the floss I began with was substandard. I had to go back over my stitches to get better coverage of the white canvas and even then it's peeking through more than I'd like. I hope I can unearth that knot of floss pretty soon so the rest of the background area will be more fun to stitch!

I also succumbed to the enticement of a new project, another coin or card case. Who could resist this face?

I'm not a fan of gray so I'm toying with the idea of a purple in the gray areas of the background.

I think it'll work just as well with the turquoise, aqua, and lime green as the gray - maybe better!

There's quite a group of us in this stitch along now, from Europe to Australia. You can see the wonderful array of work by clicking on their names below. I have a hard time, sometimes, getting around to see them all but I assure you it's worth the effort!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Finish and a Stumblingblock

I have completed the binding on my F2F2 quilt (Footsquare Freestyle round two).

The blocks were made by quilters around the world - thank you ladies! This is a regulation twin size quilt, 65" x 88."  I had James quilt it in an allover leaf design. I love it!

He was able to use a variegated thread my sister bought for me some years ago. The allover leaf is one of my favorites of his quilting patterns. It was an easy decision to use that design given the leaves in the batik sashing and border. :- )

Meanwhile, I've swapped out one of the short sashing strips between my batik friendship blocks.


Do you see the difference? In the second column from the left, about halfway down. The first strip was too dark. I'm happier with this other print. However, I discovered I didn't have as much yardage as I needed for the long vertical sashing strips. I went out to look for more and found an acceptable print in the yellow I was planning to use. But when I got home, affected by the fumes from the outing, I suddenly wasn't sure about my original plan. I still want to make this a strippy quilt (vertical columns separated by single fabric strips - much like the F2F2 quilt) but I'm no longer as confident of the yellow I was planning to use. The good people at eQuilter had a turquoise batik in their clearance department that looked like it might be a good fit with this project. So until my order arrives this quilt has been put on hold. I'm making up the rest of the purple, green, and caramel scrappy trip blocks that will go into the comfort quilt for Covered in Love. It's an ideal project for this period of time while my brain is not fully functional.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Totally Scrappy

Today is both Scrap Happy Day hosted by Kate and Gun and the weekly link party for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela. I only have these three blocks officially for the RSC so far:

I'm not even sure the sawtooth star with the birds in the middle counts! The challenge this month (and it's really a challenge!) is to use our multi-color scraps, those that aren't predominantly one color or another. I'm surprised at how few of those scraps I have and how difficult I'm finding it to figure out how to use them in a block. I have plenty of prints that would qualify, they just haven't been used to the point where I have scraps yet. This year may not be a very productive one for me in terms of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. It would appear I need to make some quilts to create more scraps!

For Scrap Happy Day each month I've been making what I consider to be Truly Scrappy scrappy trip blocks. This is to reduce the number of 3" strips in my stash. It's being very effective. I made these three blocks for April:

And then added them to the other blocks I've made.

Technically I have enough blocks already for a comfort quilt top. However, the bright white spots bother me. And the strips I haven't used yet are in bright, clear colors as opposed to these darker, grayer prints. So I've cut more strips and will continue making blocks until I can create a top I'm happy with. Probably I'll end up with two: one in brighter colors and the other more subdued. Whatever works! :- )

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Friends in Batik

I've learned that I'm going to have to pace myself when it comes to getting all those bindings sewn down (see previous post). After the marathon sessions with the wedding quilt (pictures to come later) my wrist and hands weren't very happy. I also wanted something other than the purple, green, and gold scrappy trip blocks to work on so I dug out my cheerful batik friendship blocks. These blocks were made for me by members of my local quilt guild back in 2014-15. This is the way I laid them out the first time I put them on the design wall.

My original thinking was to make stacked string blocks to tie them together. Then I considered alternate blocks. I couldn't find a block that would easily move the colors across the quilt that I was willing to make in that quantity. So the blocks were put away for a while.

When I got them out the next time I rearranged them into five columns with the blocks directly over each other.

With 2" sashes between the blocks and about 3" between the columns I could turn these into a personal size quilt which, after all, is what this was meant to be! I have a wonderful batik in pink and orange and yellow that might make a good border too. There was still the matter of sashing the blocks however. That was going to involve a lot of auditioning of colors and prints. Other projects took precedence, as they will, and the blocks were put away once again.

To keep myself from hand stitching another binding I got the friendship blocks out and began the auditioning process.

Two days later I think I have what I want. Or the best I can do with what's available. The trick will be to get them sewn into place before I need the design wall for something else!

Friday, April 7, 2017


I had an exceptionally good day yesterday. I pruned two quilts, made binding for three, and applied binding to four out of the five that were in the queue.

I already had binding made for this one:

This is the one I made out of a selection of favorite batiks and hand dyed fabrics. I'm calling it Precious Gems. It will finish at about 60" x 76."

I had to make binding for my Macabre Medallion and F2F2 quilts. I used a solid black on my F2F2 quilt.

This one is slightly larger than Precious Gems, about 66" x 88."

The wedding quilt and Macabre Medallion required a trip to my Local Quilt Shop. I found a leaf print for the wedding quilt:

That lighter print makes a nice contrast to the dark border print. Up in the left corner you can see a bit of the backing print. This one is 60" x 80."

I thought I was going to use a black tone on tone for the Macabre Medallion. Instead I found the perfect faded plum!

This is quilt about the same size as the others. Can you see the spiderweb James quilted into it for me?

Obviously the first one I'm going to focus on getting stitched down will be the wedding quilt. I mentioned five quilts; the fifth one has been pruned but I couldn't find anything in my stash that worked for binding. Back to the LQS! In another rare turn of events, I'm planning to keep three of these five quilts for my own use and enjoyment. There's a first time for everything!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and others celebrating their accomplishments this week. :- )

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Batik Trips

After putting so much mental effort into the wedding quilt I wanted something easy and relatively mindless to work on next. Last year I learned about Covered in Love during the annual Hands2Help quilt drive. I only sent one quilt to them but have wanted to do more ever since. So I went through my stash and found some batiks that would work together in Scrappy Trip blocks.

Some quilters get hooked on log cabin blocks because of the ease of construction and variety of designs that can be achieved with them. Those are the very reasons I keep making scrappy trip blocks!

I tend to use the trip-around-the-world setting most often, at least when I'm making the blocks and putting them up on the design wall. ;- ) 

When I have more blocks made I'll try other setting options. I don't have quite enough of any one of these batiks for all 20 blocks so it will be a challenge to distribute prints evenly or at least in a pleasing arrangement. I confess to going out today to try to find more greens and golds to blend in with what I've already used. I wasn't as successful as I'd have liked but I think I have enough to be getting on with now. And James has just brought in the wedding quilt, ready to be bound. That will be a job for tomorrow (or maybe the next day!). 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Stitch Along in April

Late last month I was busy finishing up the Moonlight Love embroidery that I thought was going to be part of our niece's wedding quilt. As it turned out, the embroidery was too dark to include in the quilt so I get to hang onto it and enjoy it in our home. :- )

Even in a rush it was fun to do. Then I was busy building the quilt top so not a lot of stitching took place. In the last few days I've started to almost replicate one of the needlepoint coin purses I've made in the past.

I bought a blank canvas purse one time when I also purchased a kit. At the time I didn't have a clue what I would do with it. Such a quantity of leftover floss had accumulated from all the kits that I knew I wanted a design that would at least make a dent - never mind all the other floss I have in my stash! These hearts are simple and straightforward. They and the border can be counted out the same way counted cross stitch designs are done. It's a bit more demanding mentally than just stitching by color but once I get the hearts in place I'll have the background to fill in mindlessly. ;- )

There's quite a gang of us in this stitch along now, all over the world. Many are doing cross stitch projects (some quite ambitious) but there's a variety of needlework being done. If you'd like the motivation that a deadline provides contact Avis, our group's administrator. Oh, and welcome to Mary Margaret and Timothy, our newest members!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bee, Myself and I in March

As usual, I found myself at something of a loss upon completion of the wedding quilt top and back. I'm generally unable to move directly from one major project to another. It's times like this when friendship blocks or other random blocks to make come in handy. Fortunately I have my Bee, Myself and I blocks to make!

You may or may not recall that I've been making Scrappy Trip blocks in my favorite colors in batiks. This is what I had last month:

I made three new blocks, one yellow and two orange.

Then I decided I wanted another yellow block. So this is what I have now:

After I took this picture I moved that darkest pink block over to the right. I think I also rotated it 90 degrees. It looked better there but I didn't bother to take a new picture. My end goal is 20 blocks. That puts me at the halfway point but I fully expect to make more than I need, just so I have design options.

Kate and Tialys have been making lovely hat boxes each month for their selfish sewing projects. Poor Kate in Australia has been preoccupied with preparing for, enduring, and now cleaning up after Cyclone Debbie's unwanted visit so she doesn't have new blocks to show this month. Tialys is in France and added three boxes to her collection. If you're a fan of Kaffe Fasset's quilts you might want to pop over and have a look at the growing collection of pretty boxes (too bad there are no hats to go in them!).