Monday, July 29, 2019

July Monthly Mini

I have two minis this month, but they're both "cheats"! 

The first one is my version of Shoofly Sampler, from the book Quirky Little Quilts, by Sheryl Johnson of Temecula Quilt Company. I must have started it close to a year ago, hence my calling it a "cheat" as obviously I did not make it within a month. I did, however, finish it this month, so I'm hoping it sort of qualifies.

my scraps
This quilt was a blast to make, especially since I limited myself to a handful of scraps - literally - for the blocks. The only things I went into my stash for were the background fabric, and the backing and binding. I varied from Sheryl's quilt, adding a few more blocks of my own invention, and changing the shape.
Did I mention it was fun?
It was fun!

And speaking of fun, I've had this very fun yo-yo print in my stash for at least ten years. I thought it was perfect for the back!

The decision to hand quilt this is the main reason it took me so long to finish. These days I have to parse out my hand quilting into half hour sessions, with (ideally) several days in between as to not over stress my hand. This little guy may just be the last piece I completely hand quilt. But not to worry, as I am embracing machine quilting more and more, and loving the results. 

I'm trying to show better detail of the quilting here, but the motifs are pretty obscured. Probably due to the fact that I washed and dried it to achieve the crinkly look, and I kinda regret that now. It looked much better before. I'm learning there's a time and a place for everything, and sometimes less is more.

Next up is this little tumbler quilt, which I pieced a month or so ago, from scraps gifted to me from a friend. I actually made two tops at the time, the first ending up qualifying for my June Monthly Mini. This one sat around a while longer, while I was deciding how to quilt it. I ended up going with the machine hand-quilt stitch, and I think it turned out really good, plus it was fast, and no stress on my hands.

 Nice Barbara Brackman print for the back..

Hand quilting kind of disappears into these busy fabrics anyway. You can see the difference here, with the hand quilted one from last month on the left, and the crisper/bolder machine quilting on the right.

Here are my two July mini's hanging together on the fence. Taking this picture with my ipad in the bright sun was complete guesswork, as all I could see was my reflection on the screen! .

I'm posting this early because I'm going on vacation in a few days. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has made this month! If you are too, jump over on the 31st to see, at Wendy's blog - The Constant Quilter. 


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Where did June go?

I'm not usually one to complain about the (seemingly) more and more swift passage of time, but June really did zip by for me this year. I did have a really nice, fun vacation a couple weeks ago, hanging with two very dear friends from high school days, at the home of the one in Oregon, who's house is right on the Rogue River. I've been know to sleep on her deck in the summer, so I can look at the stars and hear the river, but this year she wouldn't let me because her deck is slightly falling apart. I have high hopes for next year in that regard.

I didn't take many pictures either, and the ones I did take were of food. Here's some wonderful flan we got at a local Cuban restaurant:

(oops.. iphone not cooperating)

Sorry no flan pix, but here's my Monthly Mini, which I barely squeaked by with, again this month:

 This little quilt is made entirely from a bag of scraps sent to me by a (very generous) gal I quilt with in November, at a retreat we've been going to for many years.

Sue has a habit of dropping off bits (sometimes more than bits) of fabric at my station, knowing I have the same taste for repro's that she does. Often she'll invite me to dig into her stash, imploring me to "take as much as you want!" which I respond by slicing off a little sliver (hmmm well, maybe just a little bit more...) of a few things.  She has also bailed me out by digging up fabrics I "need" to complete a top, and never takes a dime for anything. Last year I gifted her a quilt. She responded to that by sending me a bag of scraps, mostly 2 1/2" to 3 1/2" strips, some small, some WOF.

I thought the strips lent themselves to small tumblers, so I went ahead and cut, and constructed two little tops at a retreat last month, and thought I had plenty of time to finish before the end of June to finish at least one of them. Well, life has an annoying habit of getting in the way of such "non-essential" goals, doesn't it.

I thought this cute little bird fabric was perfect for the back. 

Anyway, I finished stitching the binding on around 10pm last night, and went ahead and washed it this morning, to enhance that crinkly look.

Now, forward!


Saturday, June 1, 2019

May Monthly Mini

(This was supposed to post last night, when it was actually still May)

Some of you might know that Wendy over at The Constant Quilter hosts a Monthly Mini sew-along. After following along casually for the past (I think) year or so, and enjoying everyone's little quilts, I thought I might go ahead and join in.
This is what came up with for May, and am posting it just a hair under the deadline! 

I made the Hovering Hawk blocks in January, using leftover corners from some small basket blocks I'd made (which never went anywhere, btw) but didn't assemble the Hawks into a top until much later. I then hand quilted the interior, then it sat around for weeks (months?) waiting for me to quilt the borders. I eventually ended up continuing the quilting lines into the borders with the machine "hand quilt" stitch, and finally put the binding on last week. I think (hope) it qualifies as a May "finish" at any rate. Wendy said there were no rules, so I'm no doubt taking a few liberties here.

Here's the back, but as of yet, no label. I thought I'd sneak in under the wire and call it my "May Monthly  Mini" and make a label tomorrow. Ha ha...  meanwhile, I'm getting lots of ideas for more mini quilts, for future months. This is going to be fun!                                                                      Thanks to Wendy, for letting me join in!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Vintage Indigo Challenge

Back in February, I acquired a literal pile of vintage indigo scraps and a few shirtings from the Bargain Garden at our quilt fair, and posted about it here. Three readers responded to that post with excitement about my find. I wondered if they might like a few of these scraps, as I had enough to share, and then some. The answer was, YES! So, off went three bundles of fabric to the various destinations.

Having been thanked profusely for the fabric, I responded by saying it might be fun to do a little challenge, and each make a mini quilt using some of the indigo.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?  Did I mention these three readers were Wendy (The Constant Quilter)  Janet (Rogue Quilter)  and Barbara (Quilts, Gravestones, and Elusive Ancestors)??? (click on the links to see their quilts) Only the three most excellent quilters that I follow, who are exceptional at making mini quilts! Oh good grief. What am I going to make that could possibly be up to this challenge that I issued? AAAK!

(ahem...) Well, I had to put my thinking cap on, but it wasn't cooperating. I went to all my usual sources for inspiration (books and magazines, other blogs, Pinterest, Google) but nothing was saying "yes". Meantime, I was itching to do "something" with the scraps, so cutting the tiniest pieces I made a little 9-patch, which I posted about here.

But what to do for the "real" quilt? I had to get started! Without an actual plan, I decided to make some 4" sawtooth stars, as I thought they would have big enough pieces to show off the various prints. I wanted to feature as many of the prints as I could, but had to stop at 15 to keep the quilt from growing too big. OK, but then what? I really struggled with how to fininsh this quilt. I thought about simply putting a binding on it, until I finally found a repro piece that brought it all together.

 I had intended to hand quilt this, in fact I started to, but wasn't happy with how it was looking. Truth be known, I've grown a little impatient with trying to get the stitches perfect on pieces where it really shows. So.. I decided to use the "hand quilting" stitch on my Janome, and decided it was exactly perfect. Not to mention, way faster.

Here are some detail pictures so you can get a better look at the prints:

Here are a couple pictures of the completed mini:

(my version of "indigo and cheddar" lol!)

Here are the two quilts together, to get an idea of scale:

All in all, this has been really fun, and yes, challenging. And, I still have lots more of the indigo, and am already itching to make another small quilt. 

Meanwhile, please go to the links above to see the others' quilts, which are fantastic!  (Janet had a family emergency, so hers is delayed. I will activate her link as soon as she posts.)


Friday, March 29, 2019

My Favorite Blankie

This is a quilt I made about 30 years ago. The pattern is Shoofly Star, and is from Marsha McClosky's book, A Dozen Variables. This book (and Marsha's style in general) are what got me hooked on quilting all that time ago.

I wanted this quilt to be thick and warm, and sort of puffy, so I used a double thickness of Mountain Mist 100% polyester batting. Which of course needed to be hand quilted. Well... apparently I didn't baste it good enough, as the top wanted to slip around and bunch up on itself as I quilted. To get it to lay flat I ended up adding more and more quilting, and eventually the bunching "all quilted out" as we like to say.

You can see the quilt is well worn. I love it so much though, because it drapes so beautifully and is nice and warm! But its clearly wearing out, and I really need to make myself a new "Favorite Blankie" and give this poor little Star quilt a break.

Enter my current Flying Geese project.

My intent was to hand quilt this, after machine stitching in-the-ditch down the vertical rows.

The hand quilting was really tough going.  And because I wanted this quilt to be thick, maybe a little puffy, and drape nice like the Star quilt, I used a double thick batting, this time 100% bamboo. Well, the needle doesn't float through bamboo the same as that fluffy Mountain Mist! And, I wanted a "big stitch" look, so used a #12 perle cotton with a #24 Bodin chenille needle. Aaak.. my poor hand! I managed to do one row plus the "squares" where the geese change direction before calling it quits on that method.

On to Plan B, which was the "Hand Quilting" stitch on my Janome. This went well and I got about ten rows done. I really love the look of the (fake) "hand quilting" but I wasn't happy with the overall look of the quilt. I kept telling myself I want that puffy look, but it just was looking ... sloppy. I had to take a break and figure out what I needed to do.

Meanwhile, with the "hand quilt" stitch still set up on my machine, I went ahead and finished the quilting on these two small quilts, which have been languishing in my hand quilting basket for far too long.

That done, I set up my machine for regular, plain, machine quilting.

Starting from the other end of the quilt, I started quilting across the middle of the geese just using a plain stitch, which did give it a nice flat result. But I thought it looked rather boring. I really wanted the "hand quilt" look! Before commencing to rip out the previous rows though, I decided to sleep on it.

Sometime during the night I came up with another idea. I decided to go ahead and quilt all the "geese" seams in-the-ditch. Yep its a lot more work, but it nails everything down a little flatter, and looks much better. I've done several rows now, and I'm liking the result. In the end I think I'm gonna love it. 

Now I should mention, I recently discovered a new (to me, anyway) quilting thread by Superior Threads, called Micro Quilter. Its two-ply, 100 wt. poly, and literally disappears into the seams, making ITD quilting nearly invisible, and less stressful to do. It also blends right into the fabric when quilting over the top of multiple light and dark fabrics.

Now I know many of you are dyed in the wool 100% cotton purists, and I abided by this for years, but I no longer feel that is necessary. Heck, my old quilts (such as the star one above) were pieced with Dual Duty poly/cotton thread, and I've never had an issue with the thread cutting through the fabric or whatever its supposed to do. I believe my quilts will wear out with time anyway, as the intent is that they will be used. Anyway, you might want to try out that thread sometime.

OK, enough for now... time to get back to quilting!


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Indigo Mini Top Done

The forecast was for rain today, and the plan was to sew. Well dang if it didn't end up being the most beautiful sunny morning, which left me with no excuse to (continue to) put off my yard work.
So out I went, with the intention of pulling some weeds and planting a round of flower seeds then calling it a day, but soon found myself up to my elbows with the hedge trimmer, whacking back a huge geranium that had gotten so out of hand it was smothering everything in its path, including the path.
This became a two hour project. I was nearly done when all of a sudden I heard this zzzzzztttt!!  and saw sparks flying in front of me. In my zeal I had accidentally severed the extension cord with the trimmer.

(Note to self: be more careful when using the hedge trimmer. Husband will not be pleased.) 

Can extension cords be mended? I guess we'll find out!

Meanwhile, I've been working bit by bit on my little Indigo Mini. These tiny 9-patches, which finish at an inch and a half, were a lot more challenging than I anticipated. The indigo fabric is sort of a loose weave, and ravels easily when you try to manipulate it. And when the finished patch is only half an inch, imperfection really shows. Its a good thing I'm not a perfectionist.

Remember the rolls of vintage shirtings I got when I found the indigo? Some of the pieces ended up being a pretty good size, and not too wonky. Kind of weird texture, though. Stiff-ish? I ended up putting them through the washer and dryer (gasp! I know...) but that did soften them up a bit. Not to mention clean them up, as they were pretty filthy. I think they're fine, and love them so much I'll go ahead and use them with similar old fabrics. I auditioned several for the background of this quilt, and this one looked the best with the tiny 9-patches.

The shirting is also a loose weave, and quite thin. You can see the color of the basket right through it.

Not so bad on top of the batting, although still looks a bit yellow-ish, but that's mostly the lighting. You can see a little peek of the backing fabric, also a vintage shirting.

I made sure and trimmed the blue seam allowances so they won't show through. That would have bugged the heck out of me. I basted it last night, and started playing around with some simple hand quilting. 

I felt a tiny twinge in my middle back while I was working in the yard this morning, so I took a couple Advils when I came in. You know how those tiny twinges can turn into a big ache if you're not careful, right? I need to be in good enough shape to baste my Flying Geese top this afternoon, and hopefully get started quilting on it tonight.

I hope you all are having a good weekend, and have some time to sew!


Friday, March 15, 2019

Flying Geese

This was a sew-along last year by Sheryl at Temecula Quilt Co. that I failed to follow along with at the time, but got interested in after the fact. What got me interested is when my friend Brenda (who did follow along) showed me her quilt, and my heart nearly stopped. It was (and is) gorgeous! I knew I had to start making geese right away.

I started out using some pre-cuts I had on hand, which had started out 6" wide, but shrunk of course, when I washed them. So I made my geese to finish at 4 1/2" rather than the 5" as I desired. No big deal. I also dug into my scrap bin and got quite a few geese out of there. However I wasn't entirely thrilled with the resulting flock, which looked kind of a mess. (to be fair, the above photo was taken at night, under the ceiling light, which makes it look really warm and rather ghastly, imo)

I decided to take a little more control over the colors, and limit my choices to a palette that was more pleasing to my eye. Blues and browns, tans, grays and creams (but no "white"whites) purples, and blacks. Much better, methinks. (And what a difference natural daylight makes in the photo.) Some of the pre-cuts and scraps still worked, but now the geese were mostly coming out of my main stash. Which isn't a bad thing..

This is the method of construction I decided on, which yielded two geese for each pair of 5 1/2" squares.

I used my "Angler 2" which eliminated the need to draw lines through the squares, and sped things up considerably.

If you look closely, you can see how you position the needle at the top corner. The bottom corner follows the middle line on the Angler (previous photo), as you stitch.

Trim, press out, and repeat on the other side. And don't throw those waste triangles away. I call them bonus triangles, and have already sewn a bunch of them into hourglass blocks and triangle squares (for another yet-undetermined project ~ ).

After auditioning a few layout ideas, I ended up using a random placement, with all the geese flying in the same direction.

I didn't want this to be a copy of my friend's quilt though, so I had to do something to make it "mine" if you know what I mean, so I arranged some of the geese to make top and bottom borders.

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any civilized way to sew this together to end up smooth. I snipped and cajoled, swore, and pressed the hell out of everything, but in the end the intersections will not lay flat, and are pretty much a holy mess.  Oh, well.

 I happen to have been hoarding saving a couple large pieces that look like they might make good backing fabric for this quilt.  I don't have quite enough of the larger-scale print, but I really like it so might combine the two in some way. I should figure it out soon (tonight?) so I can get it basted and start the quilting.

Meantime, I washed (or more accurately, soaked and rinsed) some of the smallest scraps of the indigo (previous post) with no bleed issues. After they dried, I pressed them, then went ahead and made three tiny little 9-patches.
Yes I'll definitely be making more of these, enough for a cute little mini!