Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Placemats etc.

Yesterday, I got going on the "Take Four" place mats. I bought a bundle of 10 fat quarters and I had a hard time deciding which ones I was going to use to make 6 place mats. I finally decided to make the first 4, using the fabrics I thought worked the best. I made the other 2 from what I thought worked best for the 2.

The 4 on the left are the ones made with 4 fabrics, according to the pattern instructions. The other two on the right are the ones I made using the instruction's cutting sizes

I think if I do this again and need to make more than 4 I will skip the bundles and just purchase 4 half yards for the fronts and yardage for the backs. I might also just buy what I need to make them all the same.
After I finished trimming them all to the same size, I took them outside to photograph.

Then I took a walk back to the vegetable garden with my camera. I was hoping to get some shots of the squash blossoms (thinking quilted wall art). Yesterday there were several really beautiful blossoms, but not today. However, there are lots unopened blossoms and lots of squash in various stages of maturity.The top left is a tiny butternut squash with the blossom still attached. Top right, is a squash about 10 inches long starting to turn yellow. There are about a dozen large ones starting to turn yellow. It is hard to figure how many little one there are because they are hard to spot.
The 2 photos on the bottom are one of the cucumber plant,s showing one blossom and one 6 inch skinny cucumber; there are also some cucumbers ready to be picked (no photo).

I didn't get any shots of the tomato plants as it was really hot outside and I wanted to get inside. There are lots of green tomatoes of different varieties. I did pick 4 small red ones, after I washed them I ate them. Tomatoes are my favorite food especially fresh, ripe and home grown.
 I eagerly wait the ripening.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

WIP's and UFO's

I am making a list of projects that need to be finished. Amandajean at Crazy Mom Quilts had a post about counting her WIP's. I used to have a list of my projects that needed to be finished;  I kept it up to date and it helped me keep up with finishing them. Somewhere along the line I stopped keeping track; I'm not sure why.
So.........  here is my new list.

#1.  King size quilt which I am hand quilting. I started it in 2001 when I joined the Friendship block swap group and I requested 2 blocks from everyone. The pattern I used was called Quilters Fortune but I don't have it anymore and I don't remember anything else.  This has been on my list forever and I am not optimistic about ever finishing. If you want to know more about this you can read it here.






#2. This triple 4 patch is my second oldest. This is the 3rd triple 4 patch I've made and The Friendship group made some of the blocks for this one too. I  had the blocks for a while before they  became a flimsy in January 2014.
#3.  I acquired this beauty in June 2014. When I admired this Hidden Wells quilt that Lynn made, she gave it to me.  At first, I was reluctant to take it but I really like it and so I thanked her and I accepted it!  

#4. This is the HST quilt I started in February this year. I was waiting for the weather to clear so I could get out to fabric shop for a wedding gift quilt. All the fabrics are from my scrap stash. I thought It was a flimsy but it is not wide enough for the length that it is so I need to make at least another 12 blocks.


#5. is a round robin flimsy about 40 inches square; it has been around for,several years (no photo).

#6 Is the baby quilt I am machine quilting and I am happy to have found a home for it when it is done.

I am not counting the 500 plus HST's that I made from cut away connector corners. I may give up and throw them all away before I get them all pressed and trimmed to size (1.25 inches).

I am not counting my box of odd blocks either.  That is just a collection of leftover blocks from quilts I made or demo blocks that I used for teaching. It is just a collection with no plan at present. It might become a work in progress someday but without a plan it is just a collection.

My "Parts Department" box was not counted either. It is a collection also but I made these blocks with a kind of purpose in mind...... sort of. When the Basement Divas had one of our challenges we had to use elements from a couple of books. One of the books was "Collaborative Quilts" by Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran. I made a lot of  blocks using their guidelines for "parts department" blocks to use in either collaborative quilts or improvisational quilts. Since I have no specific plan the box of blocks does not qualify (in my mind) as a WIP.

So... my list is not very impressive and for that I am grateful.
I have a feeling my list may also not be complete, not so grateful for that.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Distractions

I started quilting the baby quilt but didn't get very far. I quilted in the ditch around the inner border and started quilting the blocks. I am quilting in the ditch around the patches and around the blocks. I am probably going to use the multicolor thread for the sashing as it shows up better than the orange and yellow variegated thread; the yellow kind of fades out.



One reason I don't get much done anymore is that there are too many distractions.


This is what I see when I look up from my computer screen or out the window from my sewing machine. That kind of bare branch is a favorite perching place for the many birds that visit the feeders.



We have 2 feeders on the sheepard's crook outside the living room window and they are like grand central (feeding) station. There is a large variety of birds visiting every day. Right now we have purple finchs and several pairs of cardinals with immature, but almost full size, young ones. They are dominant right now.
We have 2 pair of rose breasted grosbeaks, 5 different different woodpeckers (including pileated woodpeckers) chickadees, juncos, blue jays, robins, an itinerant pair of green herons, yellow finches and the usual sparrows and starlings.The bluejays , robins, and herons don't visit the feeders and the woodpeckers only come in the winter when we put out suet.
There is also an occasional hawk, a fox, one time a bald eagle,  and previous years there were coyotes.



Then we have these pests, there are usually 4 of these young chipmunks feeding on the seed that falls on the ground. We have brown squirrels and red squirrels but they stay away from the feeders since we started using safflower seeds. The chipmunks like the safflower seeds and cleaned out $20 worth in 2 days. We moved the feeder far enough away from the pines so they  can't jump to the feeder and greased the pole. I have to go out after a heavy rain and spray the pole again (I have been using cooking spray) and it does the trick. They just slide right down the pole.

 This is the crab apple tree (maybe a Hawthorn tree) on the other side of the house. It is heavy with fruit this year and it is also a very busy place.  I shot this out the dining room window.

 There are also some other more creepy things around.
Wednesday I planted some flowers in the bed by the patio and then loaded up the wagon to take flowers and tools out to the garden farther from the house. When I started to pull the wagon I notice a movement in the grass; I had to look very carefully to spot the snake but there he was very close to my feet. He was lying very still but his head was sticking up so I could spot him.  My daughter told me she saw a snake in the yard but NOT BY THE PATIO and not in the hostas where I pull weeds.

I got Jack to come outside and move the wagon and while he was pulling it around to the other side of the patio I saw the snake move quickly across the mulch and then I SAW ANOTHER SNAKE move in the same direction. I made Jack come out to the other garden with me and sit there in a chair while I planted the rest of the flowers.

I know they are harmless and I know they would just as soon avoid contact with me;  that doesn't help. I have a thing about snakes that is beyond reason, can't even bring myself to touch picture of a snake. Before yesterday, I had only seen 2 snakes (outside of the zoo or behind glass at the park) in the past 50 years. Believe or not, I never mind seeing them behind glass and actually find them interesting.


Yesterday he started up the tractor with a trailer on the back and took my garden tools and watering cans out to the garden  and stayed with me while I watered the flowers I planted Wednesday I did some weeding. After that we went out to the vegetable garden and he stayed with me while I picked some cucumbers and summer squash.

I might get some more quilting done today but I have to clean up a bit and do some shopping for guests this weekend.
There are certainly a lot of things to keep me from my sewing machine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Placemats


My granddaughter told me that when she was visiting her sister there was a really pretty quilted center piece on the table..............


This is the one I made for her 2 years ago.


 ........but they were using Halloween place mats.

I made these in 2012.










So Monday we stopped at the quilt shop and I bought this bundle.
For her birthday, I am going to make 6 place mats from the "Take Four" pattern and a table topper of some kind.

I know I am going to use the 4 fabrics on the left. From the pile on the right, I will  use the red dot fabric and one of the 2 greens on either side of it, probably the solid looking fabric.









 I am going to use this fabric on the back of 2 of the place mats for her 2 boys. I have a strip 15" x 62 left over from making pillowcases for the boys almost 2 years ago.


Hmmmm.... maybe
 I should put it on the back of 3 place mats 
(one for their Dad).
 I think I will....
 Then, if their
 cousin comes for dinner, 
Dad can give up his place mat 
and use one of the floral ones.



Friday, July 10, 2015

Progress

I layered up the baby quilt and I am all ready to quilt it. First I have to decide if I can use the thread I have or if I need to shop. I want to use variegated thread with the serpentine stitch in the center of the sashing and I am not sure if what I have is right for it.

This is a sample of the 2 choices I have in mind (and in my thread stash). Maybe I am getting too obsessive about the thread.



The layered up quilt is here, on top of 3 empty boxes, on the table under my small design wall.
I am changing out the quilts on my design boards on the walls as a way of keeping my level of enthusiasm on HIGH.















This is the other progress I made yesterday. Those three boxes all held scraps, most of them sorted and in zip lock bags.  In the forefront on the  right are the HST's from the connector corners on the wedding quilt. Some are pressed open and trimmed but most of them still need to be pressed. It is a tedious job.
The shoe box in the back and one tray under the white tray with triangles, both hold the scraps I have been using for the baby quilt. These will soon be sorted by color and will go in the general scrap basket. The progress I made on these is getting them out of hiding  to work on.


I bought these 2 flexible laundry basket/hamper type things for all my Ziploc bags of color sorted scraps. They are stacked up here but 2 of them will fit side by side under my table.

In the year since we moved I have become more and more discouraged about working in my sewing room.
I am grateful to have a room just for sewing but I have never really hit the mark on organizing it so it is an easy space in which to work.

Keeping my art work (quilts) where I can look at them is something I need.

Working out a way to have a bigger, better design wall and making my supplies more accessible is a major necessity. Consolidating my scraps and putting them where it is easy to access is a big step in the right direction. This is going to be a work in progress for a while. I need to do some sewing for a while and think things over before making more costly decisions than the purchase of 2 plastic scrap baskets.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

I have a Flimsy

I worked on putting the made fabric blocks together on and off through the day yesterday and I finished it after dinner. I decided to miter the corners on the borders; I usually do my best to avoid miters. As always I was pleased to see how well they came out and how easy it was after all.


 I shuffled the blocks around before I added the sashing because I needed to see where I would add the vertical sashing strips and without the sashing it was easier to see where like fabrics were clumped together.

I wanted the bird patches not to be lined up in any of the rows. The block with the darker green patch had the bird fabric where I wanted it so..... instead of taking out the block with the darker green patch I adding that fabric to 2 more blocks.



I worked on rearranging over and over for about 40 minutes. When I concentrated on the birds and moved a block the distribution of color would be upset. There were some fabrics that stood out more than others and I didn't want them clumped together. Each time I moved a block with one of those fabrics something else wasn't right. I finally felt satisfied that it was as good as it was going to be and my canine friend Tux came in the room for a visit. When I greeted him, he wagged his tail and swept half the blocks off the design board.  I gasped at what he had done and moved the design board up to the table top. I was reminded of the time I was working on arranging 2 inch squares in a colorwash. Jack walked in the room and when I asked what he thought he leaned over and blew on the arrangement and a dozen or so 2 inch squares blew off the wall; that time it was Jack that gasped.

 Tux is really a good dog and has very good manners and is very obedient.
He is also a good companion.
That goes for both of these guys.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I'm Back

Back to quilting and blogging again. I finished the "Fresh Cut" quilt; it was a wedding gift by request of the bride and groom (my grandson). I had it long arm quilted and I was happy with the results. It was so big I never got a chance to photograph the whole thing before I had to wrap it up and give it to them. The bride is a good photographer and I'm hoping for a good photo from her. In the meantime, by clicking on Fresh Cut on my side bar you can see the progress.

I cleaned up my sewing room and played in the garden for a while and finally got around to sewing some improv blocks. These 16 blocks are on a design board all smooshed together so they fit on the board.
I plan to separated them with white sashing strips. I will probably replace the one block with the darker green patch. It is the only place I used that fabric and because it doesn't appear anywhere else it just seems out of place.

These were all leftover pieces from my last three projects and they were in several different places.  I was sorting them to put away in the general scrap bin and I thought they all looked pretty good together. I decided to make some blocks before adding them to the general scrap pool.



After I made a few blocks I decided to put the bird patches in every block. They were in rows and close together so they were not isolated easily and with only part of a fat quarter I wasn't sure how many I would get but I got enough for 19 blocks. The other bird fabric with the white background had tiny birds and I only used it in some of the blocks.

This will be a 36 inch square baby quilt and will be a donation quilt. I plan to make another using the scraps and put it away for a some day future great grand child.





Thursday, May 28, 2015

Playing in the Garden

I have been neglecting my sewing room to play in the garden. I will take pictures another day as the bugs are out en mass now.
I am trying to identify some of the things planted in a garden area that has been neglected and is over grown. My daughter wants to dig everything up an re purpose the area but I think there might be some interesting things growing there and before we discard anything we should find out what it is.




Today I found this little flower? or maybe not a flower. This is a shot of it where it is growing. It is about 6 -8 inches tall and  the leaves are like a sparse clump of skinny grass. It was difficult to get a good shot because it is so short and it is hard for me to get down  on the ground and harder still to get up again if I get down on the ground. All the leaves and other debris don't help either.
These two shots were taken indoors with it propped up in a glass with a piece of cardboard behind it. The stem is stiff and the trilobed flowers appear succulent.
I would love to know what this is. If it is not something invasive or bad to grow in some way, It is kind of cute and different; I would like to keep it and see what happens.

After today I should have an easier time getting up and down to work in the garden. I ordered a  garden kneeler/bench and it came today.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Reason I Can't

One of the reasons I can't get my sewing space cleaned up is that I keep pulling more things out of boxes and baskets.
When I was looking for the blue print fabric for the star quilt I found these 2 blocks in the scrap box. The one on the right was finished but the other was in 4 parts. I took them out of the scrap box and set them aside to put away in the "odd block" box. Of course before I but them away I had to sew that one block together.

I was starting to put everything away where it belongs and I found a number of pieces and parts leftover from the Mary Ellen Hopkins challenge quilt. I decided to sew the odds and ends together into blocks so I could put them in the odd block box.

My odd block box is the largest box on my shelf. I have the feeling that if I ever decide to make an "Everything But" quilt it will have to be more than one quilt. I am afraid to really take a good look at the contents of that box.





These baskets are on top of my bookcase. Once upon a time I bought 7 of these baskets to keep on a shelf with current projects. Somehow that got out of hand because the shelf was high and when I was set up to machine quilt they were not easy to reach. I reorganized and four of the baskets were used elsewhere.
On top of my book case, these 3 baskets are reachable and they hold leftover parts from recent quilts and some halfway current projects. This is where I found the parts from the Mary Ellen quilt. All of the leftovers that are not in those odd blocks I just made, will now go into the general scraps that are sorted by color. One of the remaining baskets holds the HST scrap quilt I was working on before I started the Fresh Cut quilt. It is really amazing that it is nicely sorted and ready to be worked on.

I am afraid to look in the other basket!
I will do it....
 but I will wait  until I have everything cleaned up and put away.

But what if............ 
 there is something in that basket
that needs to be put away
 in the same place as the other stuff I have to put away?


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Small Finish

Small...... but a finish none the less. I am not getting much quilting done these days. I have been busy with gardening and plant shopping and shopping in general.  Since we moved last year any kind of shopping is very time consuming.  This is big change for me as I was 5 to 15 minutes from most of my everyday shopping places.

I had intended to put a border on this and a striped binding but I could find neither fabrics. I am pretty sure I still have them but I may have bundled them up as a giveaway. I found something to piece  for the backing and some solid blue Kona for the binding. It is 24 inches square and as a table topper it is fine without a border. I quilted in the ditch over all the seams and then corner to corner with variegated red, white and blue using my Bernina # 4 stitch. I didn't want to leave the 4 inch square unquilted.                                                            
 I had planned to finish putting away all the leftovers and scraps from the big quilt project but I have not done it yet. When the weather turned nice I abandoned my sewing room and went out to play with the flowers and to take long walks with the dog. The mess is not going anywhere and I will get to it sooner or later.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Stop on the Way to a Clean Room

I have been cleaning up my sewing space so I can start over and make a new mess. I have been sorting my leftovers from the big quilt project and putting them away in the appropriate places (scrap containers, strips boxes, Ziploc bags of squares sorted by size and larger boxes sorted by color).

Today when I was putting more things away I came across this.


When I went to the April meeting of the Basement Divas, I received a bag that I would have gotten at the Jellyroll Race. One of the "prizes" was a bag containing a 16 inch Star in a Star block, leftover HST"s, a number of 5 inch squares, a bunch of triangles in red, white and blue, and 2 - 5" X WOF
strips. On the left is what I sorted one evening while I watched TV;  the 16 inch block is on the right

I really don't need to have anything more hanging around in an unfinished (or never to be finished) state. So..... I put it up on a blank space on a design board that was just waiting to be put to use.
I made some HST's from some of the already cut triangles and added a row of blocks around the existing block and now I have this 24 inch piece. I think I will look up some dark blue leftover fabric  and use it for a back and binding, maybe a border if there is enough.


Then I will get back to putting everything away.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Back

I finished piecing the back of the Fresh Cut quilt. The backing fabric was 108 inches and I needed it to be about10 inches wider. I pieced a section that is 13 inches wide and if that is too wide for the long arm it can be trimmed. Working with a quilt this large has been a monumental task quite an adventure for me. Last evening Jack helped me measure the backing to cut for the pieced insert. He held the tape measure in place on the edge while I marked for the cutting line. The piece we were marking was 120 inches long and we spread it out on the dining room table and clamped it to the edges to the table so it wouldn't slip.

Below on the left, is a photo of the insert piece all stretched out in my sewing room on 2 - 4 x 8 ft, tables with a 3 drawer chest in between. The top right shows it stretched out ready to pin to one of the large backing sections. The bottom right shows my stuffed goose that I made about 30 years ago. He is usually hard at work as a doorstop but he did a good job of keeping the fabric on the table. My Lifetime tables have an edge that makes clamping to the edge not possible.

 This closeup is a collage of the individual blocks, more or less in order. I used leftover pieces and strips to make the sections and separated them with strips of the backing fabric. I used 12 inch long backing fabric strips on both ends so that the pieced sections of the strip will not be trimmed away after the long arm quilting is finished.





Top and backing pressed and folded and ready to go the the long arm quilter.