Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bee, Myself & I in April

Bee, Myself & I was created by Carla over at Granny Maud's Girl as a way get in some sewing purely for her own pleasure, not out of a commitment of any kind. I'm finding it helpful to give structure to my calendar of projects.

This month I've used BM&I to get a top built out of blocks I've been making over the course of four years. Not that the blocks were all that difficult to make. On the contrary. They're probably my favorite block, and they're not hard at all. The traditional Churn Dash.

These happen to finish at 10." Usually I make a variation out of scraps that finishes at 6" and is called Hole in the Barn Door because the center square is larger and the side squares become rectangles. Another name for this version is Monkey Wrench. If you use your imagination you can see the head of one or more wrenches in the design.

Back when I started making these blocks it was to preserve in a quilt for myself some prints I was especially fond of that were in danger of being used up. Another goal I had was to float the blocks on a single background print. At the time I didn't have a clue what the end product would look like or how big it would be. I've had a name for it all along though: Final Wrenches.

When it occurred to me that I probably had enough - or more than enough - blocks for a personal quilt I got the box out of the Parts Department and counted them up. Sure enough, there were more than I needed for a 60" x 80" quilt top. But there were also those that didn't play well with the others when I tried arranging them on the design wall or featured prints I was no longer so in love with.

In some of my recent quilts I was able to create a rainbow effect with block placement or to graduate the colors across the surface of the quilt. I tried to do that with this one at the outset. It didn't work. This is a true scrap quilt in that the colors and prints cross a whole spectrum of values and styles. This is the arrangement I ended up with:

And now I know why so many of the old (and not so old) Churn Dash/Monkey Wrench quilts had whole cloth alternate squares or sashing. Sewing these blocks to each other was no picnic. Matching points doesn't normally bother me but some of the background patches must not have been cut precisely or something. Then there's the bulk created when two sets of half-square triangles come together. I lost track of how often I had to rip out part of a seam and try again. Halfway through I had to take a break. I also lowered my standards along the way.

Pressing seems to have been a big help. The points are matching better than I expected. I'm sure close inspection would reveal inconsistencies but at this point I don't care.

By the time this gets quilted I'm sure I'll be happier with it than I am at the moment.

And now I get to figure out what to do with those leftover blocks! Who knows, I might even figure out a way to include them on the back. 😊

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Checking In - H2H 2020

Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict has set up a linky party for us to share the quilts we're working on for Hands2Help this year. I'm doing better than in years past at this point! It helps that my focus this time around has been on baby quilts for the Little Lambs Foundation. I'd have three for them now if it weren't for the fact that I decided to send one to a niece who is having her first child in May. 😊

This one has been quilted...

Just with a simple meander. It's about 40" square. This top is next to be quilted:

It's a bit bigger at about 45" square.

I've just finished the binding on this quilt out of my Parts Department:

An exact destination hasn't been determined yet. It may go to our local foster care program. It's roughly 58" wide and 75" long. I was delighted to be able to use an old blue fabric printed with gold metallic swirls that sort of mimic the swirls James used to quilt it.

It was one of those prints I'd never found an appropriate use for. Now it's nearly all gone and I don't have to deal with it anymore. Except in scraps of course. πŸ˜‰I do need to spend some time cutting scrap patches. Several quilts have been trimmed and bound lately, which means I have cuttings from the backs that have accumulated. At the same time my stack of scrap blocks to sew between seams (i.e. leaders and enders) has diminished to one, and it's partly assembled already. Might be time to break out a new blade for the rotary cutter too!

The link party is here in case you'd like to see what others have been working on for Hands2Help this year. πŸ’œ

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Halloween Is Always A Good Idea

I have been busy putting bindings on quilts and sewing them down. Because they are smaller quilts than I've made historically I don't want to go to the hassle of hanging them in the studio to take their pictures. But wouldn't you know, when I'm finally ready for a photo shoot the weather turned wet. So I guess you'll have to wait a bit longer to see them in all their finished glory. However, I have a new top I can show you. 😊

This began with some Hourglass blocks/units I started making over a year ago as leaders and enders. I didn't have a clue what I would do with them when I began but just cut some black tone on tone prints and assorted yellows, cheddars, and red-oranges. At some point they got set aside when other projects took precedence - before I had enough to really do anything with them. Then I saw someone else's quilt online that used Hourglass blocks between whole cloth squares. That was the inspiration I needed to move this project forward. My Hourglasses finished at 5" so I cut 5.5" squares of more of my more juvenile Halloween prints. In spite of my best efforts I still hadn't used them all up!

Eventually I had equal numbers of Hourglasses and Halloween squares. The next step was to decide how to arrange them.

You can see here I chose to keep all the lighter, yellow Hourglasses in the center of the composition. I did my best to scatter the prints in the holes. I had several squares of some prints but only one or two of others.

This is what I ended up with:

I debated whether to put a framing border around it before calling it done. Nothing in the stash really called out to me for that purpose though. It will be about 50" x 60" if I just bind it the way it is. I have a wonderful diagonal orange stripe in my stash that will make a great binding. What sealed the deal was learning we are to have a new grandbaby in October. What could be more perfect?! 😁 The child may not be ready for a quilt of this size for a year or so but you can never have Halloween too often or too early in my opinion!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

April Stitch Along

Not to be repetitive, but it's hard to believe it's already been three weeks since our last stitch along check in. Apparently time is dragging for some folks due to the sequestration required in many places by the corona virus pandemic. I'm so used to isolation that things have hardly changed for me. It's easy to let the news depress my spirits though, so I have to be careful to limit my exposure to that as well as the other toxins my body takes exception to.

I've been doing more embroidery of late but not necessarily on the dish towel I had designated as my project for this SAL. We each work on our own projects in this group as opposed to everyone doing the same thing. My work tends to range from needlepoint to surface embroidery and back again. Let's see, I believe this is what the central part of the towel looked like the last time you saw it:

And this is what it looks like now:

Just some stem or outline stitching and a few lazy daisy leaves. Frankly, I've been distracted by activities in a group on Facebook with Tilly Rose, the author of Stitched Memories. She's walking us through the basic embroidery stitches at the moment, with an eye to other projects down the road. After doing some of the assigned "homework" I was prompted to trace off this little finch out of a coloring book and transfer it to fabric so I could stitch it up.

I'm pleased with the way it turned out. Might have to give him a branch to perch on though!

And back on the needlepoint front, I've made some progress on the case my friend asked me to stitch up for her.

Nearly all of the background is done. I'm down to the more fiddly bits now so progress will be slower from this point forward. Actually, this photograph might be helpful. I can see the contrast between the two shades of pink more easily in the picture than in real life.

This SAL has grown yet again as we welcome Sherrie to our ranks. I'm looking forward to seeing what she's working on, and what everyone else has accomplished since I last visited them. 😊

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

By the way, will you leave me a comment - if you can - letting me know whether my photos are showing up? The last couple of times I've visited my own blog half the pictures are missing. Not being technically inclined, I have no idea why or what to do about it. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Scrap Happy in April

It's time to share something we've made out of scrap materials, whatever they may be. Most often mine are fabric scraps, and most often I'm using them to make more quilts, like this time! πŸ˜‰

Last year I made a string quilt out of strips that had been cut to 8.5" long. Some of those strips had been cut to specific widths, others were used at whatever width they cleaned up to be. This is the finished quilt:

It ended up being about 60" wide by 80" long. I was surprised at how many strips were leftover after building it. Well, needing some mindless sewing recently I pulled those leftover strips back out to see how far I could get with them. There were off-cuts from recent quilt backs that I cut into strips and added to the pile as well.

When I had six columns of strips assembled I decided to try for a different layout this time. Short sections of binding strips had been accumulating. Rather than piece them together for a scrappy binding I sewed the shortest ones together end-to-end to make vertical sashing between the columns.

When that was done I decided I also needed vertical sashes on the outer edges. I used some raw 2" strips for that (so they finish at 1.5"). Then, to bring this one up to 60" x 80" as well I found yardage in my stash and put a border all the way around.

The yardage for the border was sent to me in error from a vendor a few years ago so I don't count that as new fabric. And for the back I was able to use yardage I've had for a very long time. I'd toyed with the idea of making a set of pillowcases for the granddaughters but was never entirely sold on that prospect. They would have been fun but I think this is a better use of the prints.

It also made it easy to name the quilt. I'm just going to call it Sweet Dreams! There's enough of the border print to bind the quilt when the time comes too. You can just see it at the top in the photo below. It's a batik print of knives and forks and spoons.

Kate and Gun are our hostesses for Scrap Happy Day on the 15th of each month. Their names and links are at the head of this list of links for the others who regularly participate in Scrap Happy Day. Not everyone posts something scrappy every month but their blogs are worth a look-in any time. You're welcome to join us if you'd like, just leave a comment on Kate's or Gun's blog. 😊

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEva, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny and Kjerstin

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Greetings

Here in the northern hemisphere we rejoice in the return of spring. After the colder, wetter months of winter it's a joy to see buds on the trees and flowers blooming. We have more sunshine now too, which nearly always lifts the spirits. One of the hallmarks of spring for Christians is Easter, signifying another type of rebirth. During these dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic the essence of Easter can give us hope that may be hard to find elsewhere. My faith has been strengthened during my years of isolation due to chemical sensitivities. Being removed from the rituals associated with formal religious observances may give other folks a chance to be quiet, look inward, and find that spiritual resource that will help them to cope with this new reality. That's what I would wish for them anyway. That may be hard to accomplish in homes full of energetic young children however!

There's traditionally a tulip festival in our valley for the whole month of April. Tulips as far as the eye can see for a few precious weeks of the year. The fields and the flowers are still there but we can't leave our vehicles to enjoy the display gardens as we have in the past.

One of the growers have been cutting the blooms they would normally be selling to locals and visitors and delivering them to area nursing homes and hospitals. Gotta love that kind of generosity. It's these times of trial when the best of humanity can come forward - or not. I'm so grateful for those who choose to show compassion and kindness. I hope we come out on the other side of this pandemic better people all around. In the meantime I wish all my readers, my friends, a joyous Easter season wherever you may be and however you celebrate.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Spring in the Garden

I mentioned another baby quilt I was working on behind the scenes. I'm calling it Spring in the Garden for what I hope you will see are obvious reasons. This will be going to the Little Lambs Foundation in conjunction with the Hands2Help quilt drive this year.

It began with a handful of scrappy Shoofly blocks from my Parts Department that all had green background patches.

Then I found a set of fussy-cut frogs, also on a green ground!

I decided to frame them up Courthouse Steps style with more greens to use them as alternate blocks between the Shooflies.

That gave me a 24" medallion once I'd sewn them together. I had a wide border stripe print that was just big enough to allow me to frame the medallion.

I have a companion print from which I was able to fussy cut the cornerstones. Then it sat for a couple of days while I tried to figure out what to do next and recovered from a toxic exposure.

I had to audition quite a range of prints before I settled on an orange polka dot for a narrow inner border.

Once I had that in place I almost wished I'd made it wider and left it for the final outer border. I wanted the quilt to be bigger though so another round of auditions was held, no easier or quicker than the first. Finally I settled on a sort of tropical print, mostly because it had the right colors in it.

This will finish at about 45" square. Here's a close up shot for a better look:

Not that the colors in the picture are true to life but you get the idea.

I've already made the back for it too! The turquoise is a simple hibiscus print and the black and white is a large leafy print.

Now, on to the next one!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Riding the Roller Coaster of Life

Well, I certainly didn't expect to fall off that cliff. After a very productive couple of days building a new baby quilt for the Little Lambs Foundation work came to an abrupt halt. Granted, it was a natural stopping point. All that remains is some kind of outer border treatment. However, my attention has been turned elsewhere. In spite of the fact that I spend most of my days sheltering in place due to my chemical sensitivities the ripple effect of the coronavirus pandemic has somehow taken a toll on my creativity and productivity. Maybe because every member of our household falls into the high risk category for Covid-19 for one reason or another. Just getting weekly groceries has become a more hazardous mission than in the past. That makes non-essential items not worth the effort to procure if they can't be had via an online vendor. As it turns out, not all of them are - at least not at a price I'm willing to pay. So my retail therapy options are more limited than ever before. That's enough to depress anyone I guess.

Son and I did venture out to purchase a half-barrel in which to plant the Roald Dahl rose bush I ordered before the virus took over the world. Fortunately, hardware and garden centers are still open for business. They have been deemed essential, no doubt for the health and well being of the general public! And we actually had cleaner air around our home that day so we were able to clean the deck and get the rose settled into place.

I want to get some annuals to plant around the baby rose to give the barrel some color while it gets established. I'm thinking we may need to uproot the rose, put more soil in the barrel, and then replant it. I didn't realize it was sitting so low in the pot until after we had a rain shower overnight.

One of our smaller pots has some volunteer violets in amongst the weeds.

I have a hard time getting outdoors to do any weeding or other gardening due to the noxious fumes that emanate from neighboring homes. It cheers me up no end to see a bit of color through my windows. Around the side of our house the rosemary is in bloom too. There aren't any windows over there though. 😞

At about the time that work stopped on the baby quilt (which I will eventually share with you in another post) my friend C~ brought over a needlepoint kit she thought I would enjoy stitching up for her. She'd found it at a thrift shop, obviously a souvenir from someone's cruise.

Her husband refers to their only granddaughter as "Princess." She asked me if I could just stitch that word and cover up the word 'Cruises.' Yes, I could. But that would have left 'Princess' shoved all the way to the top of the cosmetic case and left a lot of empty space between the word and the rest of the design. So to begin with I shifted 'Princess' down a bit. I also did my best to shift those little white flowers up a bit.

This project was just what I needed. It gave me the opportunity to do some rhythmic, mindless basketweave stitching for the background. Now I'm tackling the smaller, more detailed areas. I'm finding myself drawn to other embroidery projects too. Something about working on small, hand-held projects has more appeal than trying to work out a quilt plan on the design wall or even cutting patches. I'd even be pleased to sew down a binding on any - or all - of the quilts that are ready for that last step. I just need to get the bindings onto the quilts. If only I could muster up the energy that requires...