Thursday, January 30, 2020

Bee, Myself & I in January

Bee, Myself & I was begun for the purpose of making time to work on something we want to do without the pressure of a deadline or pleasing anyone else's aesthetics. In recent months that has been needlepoint or embroidery for me. I still have needlepoint canvases that would fit the bill but this time around I decided to just keep working on the Parts Department Quilt I started for Scrap Happy Day. When last you saw it, it looked like this:

About 36" wide and 32" high. I decided to maintain the width while I added to the height. In the end I suspect this will be donated as a quilt for a child in Foster Care so the finished dimensions are flexible.

I found some strips that had been cut off the back of a previous quilt in preparation for binding application. There looked to be enough to use it for sashing to separate the horizontal rows I figured I'd be making. As it turned out, I was right!

I debated over whether to repeat the 6" Ship blocks above and below the sashing. The 8" stars looked better. I used scrap strips to space them evenly across the width. Another strip of sashing, and then the Ships again. First one end...

And then the other:

Now it's about 69" long/high. Unfortunately, it has also gained width due to my lack of attention. It's grown at least half an inch because I didn't cut the sashing strips to fit the width of the previous row of blocks. Oh well. This time I'm not going to stress over it. The next step will be to add a strip of sashing down each side. It will have to be a different print though as I've run out of that light blue-gray. After that I think I'm going to try to use some of my scrappy 6" Shoofly blocks down the sides. Then a whole cloth border of something to finish it off. At least, that's the plan. Of course, we all know what often happens to the best laid plans. πŸ˜‰

Sunday, January 26, 2020

SAL Again

Our stitch along group checks in every three weeks. Occasionally that means we get two check in posts in one month. Like this month!

I was able to share a finish last time so it was time for me to start a new project. Or pick up a UFO to work on/finish. I chose to begin another of the set of three pre-stamped dish towels I ordered last year from Mary Corbet. Sort of starting a new project and working on an Unfinished Object at the same time! The first towel just had the one sprig of flowers stamped in a corner. I added a second sprig in the opposite corner.

This next towel has a bit more of a design. It's the middle one. The third towel has a larger, more complex design still. I'm saving it for later. πŸ˜‰

This photographs was taken with the towel laying my my ironing board with it's brand new cover peeking out at the top. I'm making progress learning the camera functions on my phone but the colors I used for the flowers are much darker in the picture than they are in real life.

I'm using some of the hand dyed floss I've acquired from the Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. The small flowers are lazy daisy stitches in a variegated red. The petals of the larger blossom were made with fishbone stitches. The orange is much brighter than in the photograph. More like the skin of an orange. All the flower centers are satin stitched.

I've also completed the fourth page of my Year in Stitches sampler - although the four pages have been two years in the making.

When I began this effort I wasn't sure what I would do with the individual samplers. Each square is six inches overall. The first "page" was part of a long piece of muslin so I had to cut it free. My thinking now is that I will make another textile book. I may include some other small embroideries I've done or maybe a crazy patch block or two.

To see what the other stitchers have been working on click on their names below. Everyone works on their own project, and there's a range of needlework techniques so you're bound to see something fun and interesting. πŸ˜€

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, 
Cindy, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny,Hayley, Megan, Deborah, MaryMargaret, 
Renee, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie, AJ

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Two Christmas Quilts

I'm still trying to learn how to get the best pictures with the camera feature of my new phone. I've turned off the flash. Things are still looking pretty yellow. Of course, in this case it could be due to the light print I used in the blocks. It's a sand color, with a yellow undertone.

This will finish at about 64" wide and 80" high.
The blue border is more of the holly print that was the central patch in the individual blocks. I felt there needed to be a bit of blue to frame the nativity panel too so I made a flat piping of the other blue print I used in the blocks.

I've even made a back for this top already. πŸ˜€ It's another holly print but in traditional green and red on black. Another print that's been in my stash for years. I did not think to take a picture of it.

The other quilt for Christmas is the one that began with this panel:

I added the candy cane stripe and the red print to the original panel. I decided this one was going to have a horizontal format. All the blocks I make will go on either side of this central panel. I had to establish the height I wanted so I would know how many blocks would be needed for each side. That took a couple of days to get sorted. In the end I found a large-ish scale print that just made me smile when I held it up to the bottom of the panel.

Puppies in presents! 

So now this center section looks like this:

I have these stars so far:

I'm trying to use up my old yuletide prints (and a few new purchases). Turning some of the yardage into Swiss cheese by fussy cutting makes it easier to cut what's left over into scrap patches. πŸ˜‰ I need a few more stars, and then I think I'm going to choose another block to fill out the width I'm shooting for. They will continue the red on white color scheme though.

Friday, January 17, 2020

More Scraps

After I posted for this month's Scrap Happy Day (previous post) I realized I hadn't shared the miscellaneous scrap blocks I've made since Scrap Happy Day in December. A couple of them were Ship blocks that I put to use in this new Parts Department Quilt project.

But I'd also assembled two Lego blocks, more Ships, and a few Hole in the Barn Door blocks.

You may be able to tell from the photograph that I have a screaming headache this morning. And that's after I straightened it in my editing program! These are some of the first pictures from my new smartphone too. My old digital camera has taken to eating batteries. That was one of the factors that prompted the purchase of a smartphone finally. I find it interesting that the photos are coming out much more yellow than those from the camera. And that's after editing. I haven't yet found a way to whiten them up. Oh well. It's a small thing that probably doesn't matter in the long run.

Speaking of white, we've had a couple of snow days this week. The kind that keep the smart people off the streets and close schools.

Something about that snow day caused me to do this:

More of those tiny  2" Broken Dishes blocks. But look:

I have "just a few" more half-square triangles to play with. I may end up sewing a bunch more today if this headache doesn't back off soon. I need a mindless activity to help me cope. Everything else I have in the works requires decisions to be made before I can move it forward. Maybe having a headache won't be such a bad thing after all... πŸ˜‰

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Scrap Happy in January

It's a new year in which to play with scraps. πŸ˜€

For several years now many folks have selected a word or phrase to focus on or to guide their artistic practices. I've done so rather informally for the most part. Thought I'd make a more formal stab at it this year and publicly declare my word for 2020 to be Nourish.

In the process of considering possible words for 2020 I was reminded that what I enjoy most is making blocks out of leftover bits of fabric and then figuring out how to assemble those disparate blocks into a cohesive, pleasing quilt top. I'd been working on the Nativity quilt (see previous post) when I had this insight. Since I had to buy a bit more fabric to complete that top I took the opportunity to take a break from it and try to reduce the number of half-square triangles that had accumulated.

These piles of triangles became twenty, four inch Broken Dishes blocks.

16" wide x 20" high
That little one off to the right side will finish at two inches square. I decided to work with slightly larger triangles after making that block. πŸ˜‰ I'll have to do something with the rest of the 1.875" triangles I've been saving from the trash bin however!

At first I thought I'd just turn this little flimsy into a doll quilt or even a wall hanging to remind me to nourish my spirit by doing that which gives me joy. But then I remembered all the other scrap blocks in my Parts Department. For example, 6" Ships...

Sailing on a turbulent sea.

Talk about the tip of an iceberg! They needed a bit of water on which to float though. And then I thought stars to steer by would be a good idea.

Now this measures 36" wide and 32" high. My thinking is to continue building vertically for a few more rows and then run some 8" stars down either side. Maybe I'll have a complete top to show you for Scrap Happy Day in February. 😊

Scrap Happy Day is hosted by Kate and Gun, on opposite sides of the globe, on the 15th of each month (local time). Others who are participating are linked up below. Not everyone is working with fabric either!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Advent Challenge Project

Last month/last year I decided to participate in Susan's Advent Challenge for the first time ever. The goal was to make a block for the quilt of your choice each day of December leading up to Christmas and then to assemble the blocks into a top between Christmas and New Year's Day. I chose a simple block in only two colors (two blue prints and the ecru background) with the idea to use them around a Nativity panel I'd had in my stash nearly forever. 

I did not make a block a day but I did manage to make six blocks per week. Between Christmas and New Year's Day, however, I don't think any sewing of any kind took place. We had the grands over for our gift exchange on Boxing Day and then I watched the Rose Parade on New Year's Day before we began our annual movie marathon. Those are my only two official excuses. There must have been other extenuating circumstances, I just can't remember what they were. πŸ˜‰

I finally got my act together the other day and put the blocks back up on the design wall with the panel. I really wasn't sure what the final layout would be. Kate left a comment when I first showed this project that caused me to put the panel up in the corner of the prospective quilt top rather than centering it as I would normally have done. 

I knew I would need to come up with compensating blocks or some other method for filling in the gap (wherever it ended up being in the layout). Nothing I've thought about for an alternate layout has taken hold. I want to make partial blocks to fill in that empty space you see on the wall but I'd run out of two of the prints featured in the blocks. Fortunately my LQS still has it in stock so that purchase has been made. All I have to do now is get those small cuts washed and pressed, cut some squares, and we'll be good to go. You may not be able to see it in the photos but that's a medium scale blue holly print in the center of the blocks. I'm planning to use four inch strips of that to border the whole top to make it a bit bigger. I think it's going to finish around 60" x 72" in the end. 

While it feels good to finally be doing something with this panel I've been reminded that controlled palettes are not my thing. It was fine to have mindless sewing to do in the run-up to Christmas but now I'm having to push myself to keep this from becoming a UFO. I'd much rather be building a scrappy quilt. I cut a bunch of background patches for scrappy Ships to sew up between seams as I assemble this top. That will help. I also have a couple of other piecing projects I've begun that I will have to share in the days to come. The trick will be to not let them take over before this top is complete! 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

First SAL of 2020

Now that the holidays have come and gone I can show you another of the secret projects I'd been working on behind the scenes. I've saved this one for a Stitch Along post because it's needlepoint.

This small canvas was probably meant to be an ornament, or possibly a coaster. The painted area was about 5" across. That was too big, in my opinion, for an ornament to hang on the tree. Plus it would have been relatively heavy. Given the subject matter I decided to just frame it so it could be hung on the wall. πŸ˜‰

Daughter and SIL have been using the elf on the shelf for several years now. They actually have two elves, and have been quite creative in setting them up for their daughters to discover in various activities throughout December. What could be more appropriate?! The shiny candy-apple-red metal frame was perfect to give the piece the look of an ornament. The inner mat is a deep green, not black, echoing the green in the stitching. I was very happy with the way it turned out.

And I have a post-holiday finish to share today too! You've been seeing this pillow cover for several months now. I thought I had it done at this stage...

But those empty hearts bothered me. The crescent moons felt like they needed beefing up too. I didn't want to satin stitch them however. That would have been too much. So this is what I did:

Little colonial knots to polka dot the hearts and simple straight stitches to fill in the moons.

This is the lower section of the cover, turned upside down.
In this close up you can also see how I dealt with the daisies. They were too big for lazy daisy stitches so I back stitched them and then used an alternate shade of purple to whip them. Half of the petals were stitched with a dark purple and whipped with a lighter shade, the other half were done exactly the opposite way.

At this point this project finally feels complete to me. All I need now is the right size pillow form to put in it!

I haven't chosen my next project for this stitch along yet. This group works on their own projects, often UFO's, in whatever needlework technique suits them. We're welcoming a new member this time around, AJ. Welcome AJ! If you'd like to join us just leave a comment with Avis. Here's to a fun and productive 2020! πŸ˜€

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, 
Linda, Heidi, JackieSunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, 
Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, DaisyAnne, Connie, AJ

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Before I Forget

There are a couple of projects I kept under wraps in the run-up to the holidays that I can share with you now. Although, one will be more appropriate to share with the Stitch Along gang so I'll share that in Sunday's post. 😊

Of course I neglected to take a picture of the pillowcases I made for the four granddaughters. πŸ˜’One each, for everyday use, in their favorite colors. This has become a tradition with us. One year I made them Halloween themed cases, another year it was Christmas prints. I hope to be able to keep the tradition going for many years yet.

The biggest gift I made this year was a quilt for our elder son and his wife. It began when I saw this panel from Jason Yenter for In the Beginning fabrics. I had to find an excuse for purchasing it!

Husband would have been happy to have the panel live with us but we honestly have more quilts than we need already. So then the question was whether to make a wall hanging or a couch quilt. The fact that there were smaller companion panels featuring other dragons helped to seal the deal for a couch quilt.

Then it became a matter of how to fill in the areas between the panels. I had to find something that would be quick to piece given the time constraint. This is what I came up with:

The idea was to pull jewel colors out of the panels as if they were part of the dragon's hoard. The gold zig-zag was meant to replicate the Celtic knotwork in the panel. The colors are a better match in person but even so we had a hard time finding acceptable hues. Our local quilt shop didn't have quite the shades of red/orange I was hoping for. There was a wide border stripe available as part of this line. I bought enough of that to make end borders.

Even though the quilt appears square it actually measures at 60" high and 80" wide. James custom quilted this one, no simple meander or overall pattern! There was a lot of outlining involved. It crinkled up beautifully when it was laundered.

You may remember this shot of the back when I was stitching down the binding.

Now I'm told Son and DIL are thinking of hanging it on the wall instead of using it on the couch after all!

I still haven't begun assembling the top I was making blocks for during Advent. I have one or two other quilt projects to tackle in this new year too. Stay tuned!