Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Temporarily Caught Up

 So far I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the #52tags project hosted by Anne Brooke. I seem to need almost a week to decide how I'm going to handle each new prompt. Since there's a new prompt every Friday it would be easy to fall behind. There have been a couple of times when I've skipped one prompt to tackle the newest one but as of this writing I'm all caught up again. 😁

The prompt for week 15 was to make a tiny 'scape, land or sea, noon or night. I struggled with this one. It took almost two weeks to get it done. The moon and clouds were easy, even fun. Creating the landscape was another matter.

Anne encouraged us to try to create depth or perspective through the use of value changes. She also encouraged us to create curves, like hills and valleys. I just couldn't get into it. In the end my goal was to just complete the tag somehow.

The following week was to use seed stitching to create negative spaces.

I had fun with this one. I find it delightfully mindless to use a variegated thread to put random stitches in cloth. 

The next prompt was another that was pretty straightforward. I didn't get to it right away though. Anne asked us to review the colors we'd used so far in our tags to see what hue might be missing. My ATC's are all over the color wheel. Finally I realized that I hadn't used any true red yet. Once we'd determined what color to use the plan was to roll up little sausages of fabric and couch them onto a base piece.

Rolling up the fabric was fiddly. They didn't always stay rolled up in spite of pins. I used a couple of strings of yarn and sari silk ribbon amongst the fabric. I tried to use different types of threads, perle cottons and stranded floss, as well as a variety of stitches. 

But before I even started the that ATC Anne revealed the latest prompt, English paper piecing teeny, tiny hexies. When I saw that my first reaction was, "No way!" Anne did say we could just make a single large hexie if we so desired, and I figured that would probably be what I would do. But some spirit of rebellion and determination took over instead. I used the folded circle method to make hexies that finish at about 5/8" across. Anne sewed hers together to create a mini panel. She laid that on top of a piece of an old quilt and boro stitched over the whole thing. I sewed seven of the nine I'd made into a flower and appliqued it on top of a piece of fabric I'd quilted. Then I added the single hexie just to fill in the blank spot. The ninth hexie was just too wonky to bother using. I may even toss it out!

 I had some vintage baby rickrack in my stash that worked well to frame out the piece. 

That takes us up to week 18 of this year. And now I have what's left of this week to rest on my laurels!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Another Baby Quilt

It's time to start building a quilt for the baby girl Niece #2 is expecting to deliver in July. Oddly, I have not been in the mood to do any fabric shopping. So the challenge is to make something cute, or at least not ugly, from what I have available in my stash. Since her first child is a very active little boy I chose to go full-on girly for this quilt. Pink, purple, dolls and dresses, florals, whatever I could find that would work together. I also decided to make a crazy quilt this time, utilizing the stack, cut, and shuffle method.

The hard part is finding prints in my collection that are still big enough to accommodate the large squares this method requires. I'm starting with 11" squares to end up with blocks that will finish at 8.5" (9"raw). The first set I made had seven prints in the stack. I made six cuts. That was a bit much to get the rotary cutter through. For next stack I only layered up five prints and made four cuts. That resulted in more waste when I trimmed the blocks to size but not enough for me to get in a tizzy over. It's more important to me to get the greater variety of patch sizes and prints this approach creates. 

 This is where I am so far. Originally I was going to make 42 blocks. Now I'm thinking 30 will be enough. That will allow for a border treatment that may help to contain and calm the busyness in the center of the quilt. Might have to purchase yardage for that! 😊

Saturday, April 24, 2021

It's Creative Decision Making Time

Those who have been with me for a long time will know that I enjoy the simplicity of Stitch & Zip needlepoint kits. Fourteen count needlepoint canvas that has already been made up into a variety of cases. I get to do the fun part, and when I've finished all I have to do is zip the case shut and give it some steam (under a pressing cloth). 😁

Coin purses and scissor cases above, cosmetic bag size purses below (about 5" x 7").

I go for the designs that don't have a lot of detail generally. I've also created my own designs to stitch. The following examples happen to be coin purses.

Having recently completed this cosmetic-size bag of my own design...

I needed something new to keep my hands busy when my brain wasn't fully engaged. I found a couple of the coin purse kits on sale recently and bought them. I'll probably stitch one of them as proscribed by the kit contents and design but the other one had to have the colors changed in my opinion. 😉

It's not quite finished, but it won't take long to polish it off. So then the question is, what next? 

I have the other kit I just bought of course, but I also have one of the larger cases that had a blank face. My intention was to use some of the luscious autumn-hued hand dyed flosses I'd collected to stitch a pattern of leaves. I even outlined the leaves in pencil and then went over those lines with a basting stitch of sorts to make the outlines even easier to see.

The problem is, now I don't want to have to expend the mental energy that would be required to produce leaves I'd be happy with. It has been a joy to simply choose a color and stitch "flying geese" and arrows lately. What to do, what to do?

Monday, April 19, 2021

Catching Up on the #52tags Project

 I've been keeping up with Anne Brooke's #52tagshannemade project pretty well so far this year. I find I have to sit with each new prompt for a few days before I'm ready to start stitching. We left off with tags nine and ten, in this post I'll show you what I've done for weeks eleven through fourteen.  😊

The key word for the eleventh week was "rings." Anne asked us to find washers or some other type of ring to cover with blanket stitches. I used some plastic curtain rings I had in my stash from long ago.

And variegated threads. I love variegated threads! The big ring was done with a Perle cotton, the others with cotton floss. I did cheat just a tiny bit and add the shisha mirror at the bottom that was made overseas.

Interestingly, she followed that up with straightforward blanket stitches. She encouraged us to play, explore what could be done with the stitch. Circles, single scattered stitches or elongated legs, that sort of thing.

I wasn't in an experimental mood apparently. I found this piece of plaid wool and used it to direct my stitching. I'm also finding that the 2.5" x 3.5" ATC format that I'm using doesn't allow for a lot of room to play. The tags are usually done in a matter of hours though!

Week thirteen was to be many layers of yellow or gold in celebration of the return of spring sunshine. 

I managed eight layers of various textiles. I'm learning I don't like covering up prints I've just put down!

It took some time to figure out what I would do for week fourteen. The prompt was "a place, a pocket, and a treasure." Hmm, what place, and what treasure? The treasure could dictate the place or vice versa. The pocket was the least of my worries. 

Anne used the beach she loves to visit in the summertime and a shell from one of her family trips there. I had to cast my mind way back ("Sherman, let's use the WayBack machine." Does anyone else remember those segments from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons on TV?) I went back to my teen years and our family cottage on the lake. And I went for the interior, not the outdoors as might have been expected. Knotty pine cupboards and a green linoleum countertop in the kitchen for the body of the ATC and our favorite recipe for quick chocolate cookies in the pocket.

The cookies are made in a saucepan on the stovetop and then dropped by the spoonful onto waxed paper to cool. I used a bit of tulle for the wax paper and French knots for the cookies.

We would make a batch of these cookies before going out to swim or sail on the lake. By the time we got back they were ready to eat. Perfect summer food!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Scrap Happy in April

 I'm probably one of the last to get my Scrap Happy Day post up, but that's the way it goes around here.

I had a request for potholders a couple of weeks ago. That request was fulfilled from my Parts Department and the potholders sent off without being photographed. They would have been ideal for Scrap Happy Day. I mentioned this to someone else and they said they would enjoy a pair of potholders too. Voila! A new Scrap Happy Day project! This time however, I made six. Two were begun with scrappy log cabin style blocks I found in my Parts Department. The other four were built from scratch - and scraps. 😁

Scrap Happy Day is open to anyone who repurposes leftovers of any kind (except maybe food!) into something new and different. My projects will nearly always be textile in nature but there are some in this group who play in other media and find inventive ways to put their scraps to good use. We have a couple of new participants this month, be sure to visit Edith and Preeti! And welcome ladies!

KateGun, Eva, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, NancyDawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

Monday, April 12, 2021

Parts Dept. to the Rescue

We have two nieces who were expecting babies this year. One child has already arrived, the other is due in a couple of months. I hadn't done a thing in preparation to welcome these new arrivals when the first baby came into the world at the end of March.  Fortunately, things timed out well for me in terms of my health, etc. I pulled a piece out of my fabric stash that I thought was a panel print. It turned out to be a wide border of these darling sheep along one selvedge edge with clouds floating in a blue sky for the remainder of the width of fabric.

I cut the fabric into as many 8.5" squares as I could, then went to my Parts Department to see what I could use for alternate blocks. The postage stamp stars were the best fit. There weren't quite enough of the cloud squares to fill out the 5 x 6 grid I'd created so I had to find something else to fill in the empty spots.

This print was whimsical but spoke too loudly. (The colors looked better together in person than they do in the photograph.) After another rummage through the stacks of green in my collection I found a stylized leaf print that seemed to work. 

It's a quieter print, more in keeping with the clouds. The next step was to add borders of some sort. I considered piano keys in an assortment of blues and greens but didn't have the energy to follow through on that plan. In the end I decided on a one inch frame of the small leaf print and a three inch (finished) final border of larger acanthus-type leaves. 

I even had enough of that blue print to cut the strips according to the direction of the print!

The next trick will be to find sufficient yardage or appropriate colors and prints to build a back. This is not a large quilt, roughly 48" x 56" when finished, but my supply of larger pieces of fabric has been dwindling and not replenished. You never know what will turn up though!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Nibbling Away at the Parts Department

 A couple of months ago, as you may or may not remember, I pulled a bunch of my 6" scrappy Barn Door blocks out of the Parts Dept. and began to build a quilt out out them. I managed to get 88 blocks sewn into rows using donated fabric for sashing. 

But once the rows were assembled I could go no further. Last week I finally felt like tackling the job of inserting more sashing between the rows to complete the top. 

It turned out to be sort of an odd size to my way of thinking, 62" s 84." Not quite the right dimensions for a twin bed. It also seemed to be crying out for a solid or tonal dark blue border. That would have made it closer to a twin size too. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything in my stash that would work. Nor was I up for fabric shopping. Our guild's stash didn't appear to have anything appropriate either. So it is what it is. When the paisley I used for the sashing was donated I also received sufficient yardage of a quiet print that worked really well for the back. All it needs now is to be quilted! 

Since my last post I've also made a pair of potholders out of the Parts Department. I was in such a hurry to send them on their way that I forgot to take pictures. I was able to use eight 4" (finished) crumb blocks for the fronts, four for each potholder, and 8" orphan blocks for the backs. They used up some scrap batting too. 😊 Now I'm going to have to start something else to have ready for Scrap Happy Day on the 15th!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


Remember that neutral print scroll I showed you recently?

I sort of got stuck after a while, as you do, and started another scroll. That one is nearly complete - but I'm not going to show it to you yet. One thing at a time! The happy news is that I've picked this one up and started working on it again.

First, I used the technique I just learned for making hexagons out of folded circles to make a few hexies that may or may not go on this scroll. I've done some additional stitching too, only some of which is very visible.

Those triangles are part of the selvedge edge of what may be the last section of this scroll. It hasn't been stitched down yet. That will either be the last piece of this scroll or I will have to add to the batting strip I'm using as a foundation for my stitching. 

On another front, with the return of some sunshine to our part of the world I'm finding myself thinking about making quilts again. I haven't done anything more than just think about it yet but it's a step in the right direction which makes me feel better overall. James has made a quilt though. 😁

He'd come across a couple of map prints he really liked last year but couldn't figure out what to do with them until he decided he needed a new quilt for his bed. Then he looked for a block/quilt pattern he liked and settled on this Storm at Sea design. It's only the second quilt he's made that was primarily pieced. Of course he did his own quilting (which doesn't show up unfortunately but is pretty basic). He used a cotton sheet for the back. The binding was machine applied but sewn down by hand, by him. This came together over the space of about a week once he'd decided what he was going to do. There were some mis-cuts along the way but it sounds like the process went as smoothly as one could expect. You would be right in assuming I'm one proud mama. 😊

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tags Nine and Ten

 I actually got all caught up with the #52tags project during week ten! If I hurry up and get this week's tag made I'll still be all caught up. 😉

The prompt for week nine was "bits and pieces and a gift." 

I used some strips that seemed to have nowhere else to be, and a  scrap of cheesecloth. Then I tied on the large button. It came out of the gallon bag of vintage buttons my SIL sent to me from her friend's parent's clear-out. The strips of fabric hang free, like fringe. 

Week ten was to include a Suffolk puff (or yo-yo) and a bit of lace. Some folks enjoy making Suffolk puffs and went nuts on their tags. I put one on mine. 

I found a circle of lace I'd made some years ago that worked beautifully under my yo-yo. It's basically a strip of lace sewn up the way a Suffolk puff is. I used beads and sequins to fill the hole in the center of the puff. A few pistil stitches in the corners to hold the layers together and I was done! Sometimes it's best not to over-think things. 😁

I've also been stitching away on my scrolls. There are now four of them in various stages of construction. (There were only three when I wrote my last post!) I wish it were easier for me to photograph them so you could see a whole strip in one picture. Hopefully you'll be able to piece the separate photos together in your mind's eye. These more recent scrolls are only about 24" long; my first ones were longer. Still, 24" is too long to get in one photograph close enough for you to see anything in detail, more's the pity.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A Change in Perspective

 Kate mentioned in a comment on my Scrap Happy Day post that she'd been missing the quilt making content that was the focus of this blog for so long. I have to admit I haven't been entirely comfortable with the void either. Except there really hasn't been that big a void, just a change of direction. Miniaturization, if you will. Aside from the ATC's I've been making in conjunction with Anne Brooke's #52tags project I've been starting new stitch wraps/scrolls. I'm not going to show you everything in this post but I will share the most recent start because it has been the catalyst for that change in perspective in the title of this post. 

I've been cutting 2.5" strips of scrap batting into 24 - 30" lengths, then laying my smallest scraps on top and stitching them in place by hand, mostly with size 12 Perle cotton threads and a small roster of embroidery stitches. In the section above I used some of the piecing leftover from the Ugly Fabric challenge (Scrap Happy Day post) in addition to leftover scrap bits. 

I'm learning to embrace raw edges. My new perspective is that this process is basically improvisational hand piecing and hand quilting. It's sort of a modern take on crazy quilting as well since my intention is to gussy up this foundation layer with embellishments later on. 

At the moment I have three of these scrolls started. I have to come up with a way to name them so I can refer to each one individually. So far none have much of a theme established. Well, one does. It's going to be a macabre bell pull. 😉 Do cross stitchers still make bell pulls? It was a popular project back in the day. I'm not sure what will become of these scrolls as I complete them. They won't be useful in the way a quilt is (or can be) but they are serving a definite purpose in my world right now! 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Scrap Happy in March

 I've actually done some scrap piecing! 

Tanya McGuire posted an ugly fabric challenge on her YouTube channel a couple of weeks back. From what I've seen, she primarily works with paper, making journals of various sorts. Somewhere along the way she came across yardage of a navy and white double-knit houndstooth print hat she declared was the ugliest fabric in the world. While I cannot wholeheartedly agree with her on that point - I've seen prints I consider much less attractive - I decided to take her up on the challenge to do something interesting with that ugly fabric. I emptied out one of my bags of smaller scraps and set to work on the 8.5" x 11" piece she sent out, using the back side of the challenge fabric as a foundation for some intuitive piecing. 

My overall plan was to make a book or journal cover. I chose to piece on the back side of the fabric so the challenge print would still be visible when Tanya receives my entry. 

I kept to neutral prints, trying for those that might mimic things that would be found in one of her junk journals. I also worked on the two halves of the cover separately so there would be a back and a front for the eventual book.

That floral strip down the middle is a piece of binding, giving me a finished edge where the two halves came together. I used a variegated thread to topstitch that in place and then zigzag around the perimeter of the cover.

I was reluctant to put a more finished edge on the book cover as I'm not sure how Tanya will end up using it. It did not come out to a standard book size. She may even choose to cut it up and use bits as pockets or embellishments in her work. Speaking of pockets...

I simply folded a couple pieces of leftover muslin and stitched them to the inside of each end to create pockets into which the back and front cover of a journal can be inserted. (Turn the photo horizontally in your mind's eye.)

I'm probably one of the last in this link party to post what I've done with scrap materials this month. Scrap Happy is open to anyone who would like to share how they've used or repurposed leftover materials. Not everyone posts every month but you'll always find something interesting on their blogs. If you'd like to participate just contact Kate or Gun from the links below. Welcome to Bear and Carol this month! Hopefully you'll see me again next month with something new I've made from the abundant scraps in this Magpie's Nest. 😉

KateGun, EvaLynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, NancyDawn 2, Noreen,
Bear and Carol

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Tags Seven and Eight

 I actually got caught up on my ATC's for the #52tagshannemade project this week, week ten. But let me bring you a little further up to date by showing you what I made for weeks seven and eight. 

The prompt for week seven was hexagons made by folding circles of fabric instead of the English Paper Piecing method. If I ever need to make hexies, this is the way I'm going to do it in future! There are at least two tutorials on YouTube demonstrating the method so I'm not going to try to show you how it's done here. I first saw Lauretta make them here. Then Anne showed how to do it when she released the video prompt for that week's tag. This is what I did with the hexies I made:

That's a bit of cheesecloth under the flowers, and rickrack for the stems/leaves. I only secured my hexie centers with the stitches required to sew on the sequins and beads. Might have been smarter to have stitched the folds down in the center first, then decorated them. 

Week eight was all about wrapping thread around the needle to make French knots, pistil stitches, and bullion stitches. I'm okay with French knots and pistil stitches but the bullion stitches were intimidating.  I had more success with them on my practice strip than I had on the ATC I was trying to make. 

Still, it wasn't my idea of fun. And by the time I felt I had conquered bullion stitches my hands hurt. I opted to make straight stitches on my ATC where I would have put the bullions. Then I made up for it by putting a few Colonial knots in the background.

There's plenty of room to have done more on that tag but I chose to leave it the way it is. 

There hasn't been much else going on here in The Magpie's Nest lately. I did manage to get two of my rose bushes pruned. There's one more waiting for its' spring haircut. Today is the best I've felt since I was outside the last time; I'm a bit reluctant to go back outdoors again. I'm wondering what the daffodil fields are looking like now though. It's about time for them to be in bloom. 😊