Sunday, September 25, 2016

Autumn Stash

I love autumn with its crisp air and its rich hues. So I was thrilled to recently receive this lovely fat quarter bundle of print fabric from Paintbrush Studio Fabrics. It's called Into the Woods, released in March 2016. I have the perfect project for this. 

Because the fabrics are mostly darker in value, I was graciously allowed to supplement the bundle with three light solids from their Painter's Palette line (July 2016). From left to right, the solids are Rice Paper, Mist and Azure. I also asked for a bit of solid brown, which they call Expresso. (Not coffee drinkers, maybe? Doesn't matter. The color is just right.) I loved that the colors were an exact match to the way they looked on my computer monitor when I chose them.

This project needs to be a secret for a little while. And if you read my blog regularly, you'll know that I'm kind of incapacitated right now. (I had surgery a few days ago to repair a fractured shoulder. It was a big success, but I have to take it very easy for awhile, and I have a lot of therapy ahead of me.) But keep in touch because I have a plan.  And I'll be sharing the project the week of October 24 in a special blog post (along with some posts from some special quilty blogger friends). Maybe I'll even give you a sneak peek or two along the way. 

Thanks for all your comments on my blog. I appreciate them so much. It's a little hard to keep up responding and commenting myself right now, but hopefully after initial recovery I'll be back at it again.

I'm linking up today with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash. (I tried to put the button here, but my computer's not cooperating, so just click the link.)

Have a fun week everyone. (What's in your stash?) 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Blogger Quilt Festival 2016 Entry 2

Here's my second entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy of Amy's Creative Side. Such fun!

What do you do when you want a scrappy quilt and don't have what you need in your stash? You create a stash! I wanted a bunch of low volume fabrics for the background of the quilt, so I went around to all the shops in my area and bought some fat quarters along with many, many 1/8 yard cuts and built a stash! It worked!

The quilt is a wedding present for my niece and (now) nephew. The colors are based on a favorite poster they have, and the pattern is a resized version of Tone It Down by Lissa Anderson for American Patchwork and Quilting (February 2014). The block is also a traditional one known as Burgoyne Surrounded. My niece told me they preferred a vintage look, and this quilt design seemed just right. 

I constructed the quilt block by block using my design wall to distribute the "scraps." My blocks are 18 3/4 inches. 

The solid fabrics are Kona cottons. I used half yards, which gave me enough "scraps" to piece the back. I couldn't resist a more modern vibe. 

The whole quilt measured 71 inches square--66 3/4 inches square after washing. I pieced it on my Singer Featherweight with Superior Masterpiece thread and meander quilted it on my Singer 115 Treadle Machine with Superior King Tut Thread. The monogram block on the back was paper pieced.

Here are some more pictures. If you want to read more and see more pictures, click on the 2AM Quilt label at the bottom of this post or on the sidebar. There are only two posts because it was a secret project.

I'm linking this post to the Scrappy Category of the Blogger's Quilt Festival. Click on over and see what else there is. I hope you like (love?) my entry. 

Blogger's Quilt Festival 2016 Entry 1

Yippee! It's Blogger Quilt Festival time, hosted by Amy at Amy's Creative Side. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. And do I have a quilt to enter this time around! It's my Big Quilt. That's how I referred to it the whole time I worked on it, and the name stuck. I made it for my son and daughter-in-law as part of their wedding present. They had to wait nearly two years for it, but that's okay. I started it in early 2015 and finished it in April 2016.

The design is original, but the center of the quilt is based on a screen-printed pillow on I expanded the rest of the design out from the center. The quilt is actually a giant 9-patch with each block made up of two 40 by 20 inch rectangles. Because the pieces are so large, I used a freezer paper technique to stabilize them and keep the seam joinings precise. I pieced the quilt on my Singer Featherweight using Superior Masterpiece thread.

I quilted the Big Quilt on my Singer 115 treadle with four motifs; straight lines and wavy lines with my walking foot, and stipples (meanders) and an abstract floral based on Flower Power by Lori at The Inbox Jaunt with my freemotion foot. I used two Superior King Tut variegated gray threads.

The quilt top measured about 120 inches square, and the finished quilt after washing was 115 3/4 inches square. (I was hoping for a little more shrinkage, but there you go.)

I'll add more pictures now, but if you'd like to see the rest of them and read more about the details and process, click on the Big Quilt label at the bottom of this post or on the sidebar.

I'm linking up with the Original Design category of the Blogger's Quilt Festival. Although the design of the center is derivative, the quilt as a whole is my own design. Please go take a look at all of the quilts, and consider voting for this one as one of your faves. Thanks!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fall Slow Stitching

Or I could say "Slow Fall Stitching" or "Slow Stitching Fall." And any of them could be appropriate. It is the season of fall--well, almost. In my state, anything after Labor Day is pretty much fall. And the stitching I'm doing is fall, as in a fall wall hanging. And I am stitching. Barely. (More on that in a moment.) And I am slow. Oh, am I so slow. 

You see, fall has special meaning for me right now. About 10 days ago, I took a fall. It was a case of distracted bicycling. I was looking at a billboard while taking a ride on a path near our home. Then suddenly, I realized that I was headed right for one of those posts that they put in the middle of paths for I don't know what reason. Maybe for caution, or to keep cars off the path? Who knows? I overcorrected, and in a hot second that lasted forever, I fell over. My shoulder took the full force of the fall. My bike is fine, but me? Not so much.

I broke the ball at the top of my upper left arm bone. I'm told that's the humerus bone, but there's nothing humorous about it. (Yup, had to throw that in there.) Anyway, there are a couple of fractures there as well as some splintering. The usual treatment for this kind of injury is about 6 weeks of wearing a sling followed by therapy, but those splinters are something of a concern. So now I am waiting for review of results of a CT scan to determine if some surgery is needed. I'll find out late tomorrow (I hope). 

I am mostly right handed, but I write with my left hand, not that actual penmanship figures highly in my life right now. But really, most of what we do is two-handed or at least two-sided--even getting up from a chair or sitting down. So this has me in a pickle. I can't do two of my favorite activities right now: biking or quilting. A third activity is quickly zooming to the top of the list, too: washing myself. Instant road to insanity. 

But I do have a fall quilt I've been slow stitching on for quite awhile. It's pretty small, and I'm working on the outer edges. So, determined quilter that I am (aren't we all?), I've been figuring out a work-around subbing in lots of pillows for my left arm. I'm using a very small, square hoop (no, I guess, it's technically a frame, not a hoop), and if I keep the part I'm quilting only a hand's width from the bottom of the frame. I can get my left hand under it supported by the pillows and quilt normally with my right. 

Here's a picture to prove it.

And here's one that shows the border better.

I'm doing this pretty much free hand, and it's going to be slightly wonky anyway, so if I get a little off track, I'll just remember that I was doing this when I thought I'd have to lay off quilting for 6 weeks or more.

I've only quilted about 8 inches this way so far, but I'm determined to do it so, so slowly or not. 

Meanwhile, I've downloaded the Quiltography app for my ipad, and have been happily doing virtual quilt making with my index finger. I had read about this app from Bernie at Needle and Foot. You can read her post about it here. If I hadn't broken my shoulder I might never have downloaded it, because I'm a technophobe, so there's that silver lining. It's remarkably easy to use, and fun! And I'm not getting paid to say this.

I'm really hoping I get semi-good news tomorrow, and that I'll be able to avoid surgery because I'd hate to lose the progress I've made these ten days, but I have to focus on what will ultimately bring the best outcome. My blog posts might become more irregular than they already are, but please hang in there with me. I'll try to put something up sometime each week.

If you'd like to see the rest of this quilt, click on the Fall Maple Quilt label at either the bottom of this post or on the sidebar. Oh, and just so you know, I think from now on I'll be referring to fall the season as autumn. Don't need any more reminders of falling this fall--er, autumn.

I'm linking up today with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts. I won't take time to put her button on my site yet. I'm having a hard enough time keyboarding with one hand on this post (I keep mixing up the Shift and Enter keys), but I'll put one up when I can. Just click on her link.

Have a good week everybody, and if you bike, don't bike distracted!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Throwback Thursday--Oops Friday Quilt Edition: Mini Geese

Happy September! One of my favorite months of the year. Why? Because fall is just around the corner--my favorite season. Rumor has it that our summer will be extended a bit in these parts, but I bet our evenings will still cool down, and that will be good enough for me. 

Thinking of fall makes me think of geese. Our Canada geese do hang around some areas here pretty much all year now (thanks, Canada), but as soon as there's a hint of fall, we start seeing V's and hearing the honks as more geese move in.

Anyway, I've looked through my old quilt pictures to see what I have in the way of geese, and you know what? Not much. Hmmm. Because I really like the look of the flying geese block. I do have a strippie quilt with geese hanging in my family room (I wrote about it here) and I remember that I later made a similar strippie pattern as a wedding present for a niece, but the only other picture I can put my hands on at the moment is a tiny quilt I made in June 1989.

This quilt was a wedding present for my husband's uncle. I did not know his wife-to-be, but I had heard that she liked antiques, so I made a sort of vintage-y looking mini quilt. I do not remember if I was paper piecing at that time--perhaps not, although if I were to make it today, I would paper piece the geese in a long strip. I can't find any sketches to show how I planned it. 

The quilt measures 9 3/4 by 13 1/8 inches. (Yes, I was that picky in recording my measurements.) Judging from the dimensions in the photo, the flying geese are probably 1 by 2 inches. The batting is probably Quilt Light polyester by Mountain Mist because that's what I typically used in miniature quilts. I hand quilted it with cotton thread. (My notes with the photo say 10 yards.)

Here's the back:
It looks like I quilted 1/4 inch away from the background triangles and then did a double row of wavy quilting in the border. 

My later attempts at flying geese in those other two quilts were not terribly successful and yielded kind of wonky quilts. But I do wonder if it's time to maybe give them another try. 

I meant to post this yesterday, but I had a little mishap--more on that later. So I guess this is a Flashback Friday instead of a Throwback Thursday. I will link up with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday next time she has a linky party. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Such Lovely Blogs!

I was on vacation last week, and the most quilting I did was a bit of hand quilting on a border of my Fall Maple quilt. I put a picture on Instragram, but that was all I could muster for social media. I was too busy looking at the sunset in the evenings to get a blog post out. Not that I'm complaining. At all. 

But this week I've been working on a secret project that I'll tell you about in a few weeks, so I still have nothing to write about. Well, I didn't until last night when I opened my email and found out that Bernie from Needle and Foot had nominated me for a One Lovely Blog Award. Isn't that sweet? And now I have something I can write about. I've seen these awards on other blogs and have always thought they were a neat way to showcase the inspiration and work of quilters. They help us celebrate and get to know other quilter bloggers and spread the word about all of the quilty fun that goes on in Blogland.

First of all, I need to get some "requirements" out of the way. Here's the cute little logo of One Lovely Blog Award. (I sure wish I knew where this all started.)
one-loveley-blogger.jpg (200×182)

 And here are the rules (I'm paraphrasing here--I don't know if there's an official way to list them):
--Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to that person's blog. 
--List the rules.
--Display the logo of the award on your post.
--Post seven facts about yourself.
--Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award, and let them know that you did it.

Okay, here's the first requirement, but you know I would have done that anyway! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bernie! If I could have, I would have nominated you. Your blog was one of the first ones I started reading when I got interested in quilt blogs, and I love how it's led to a modern-day penpal. I admire you for your prolific quilting and varied quilt projects, your ultra-cool coffee cozies (even though I don't drink coffee), your relaxed and enjoyable style of writing, and your excursions into other areas of interest--such as apparel sewing, gardening, cooking and vacation retreat renovations. I always drop everything and read whenever your posts pop up because I know that they will be a bloggy treat. Seriously, if anyone reading this hasn't already read Bernie's blog, stop reading this, click on the link above, and go there. Now. (And then come back.)

Now, for seven facts about me...

I just passed my 2nd anniversary as a quilt blogger. Well, how about that? I had to look it up just now. My first post was on August 27, 2014. I suppose I should have had a little celebration, but I'm not good with dates, so it just passed me right by. (Hey, that means I've known Bernie for two years. Wow!) This really is quite something, as anyone who knows me knows that I hate to write. But it is a good way to document my quilting and it's been fun meeting other quilters along the way. Here's the first quilt I wrote about:

When I'm not quilting, you might find me bicycling somewhere in Michigan.  We have lots and lots of rail-trails and other bike paths. In fact, one leads right from my neighborhood. This past week we rode the Hart/Montague trail. It goes through several small towns in the heart of Michigan's orchard lands and asparagus fields, and right past a dairy that serves a bottomless cup of milk. (I won't tell you how many cups of chocolate milk I drank there!) Here are a couple of pictures of our ride--including one of a barn quilt!

I love, love, love lighthouses and sunsets and Lake Michigan.  Even though my blog is about quilting, pictures like these will sometimes sneak into my blog. Here are some views from our recent vacation:

I love reading memoirs--especially ones about building something--a house or a new life. And if there are enough clues, hints or outright descriptions to help me find the location on Google Maps so I can follow along in real pictures, all the better! I just finished The Penny Poet of Portsmouth by Katherine Towler. If you write about building or remodeling something in your blog, you can be sure I'll eat that up, too.

I am a fair weather gardener.  I get all excited about gardening in the spring, and I take lots of pictures (and share them here) as my flowers bloom. But then summer sets in, and I quickly lose interest. We've had a drought this summer and it did weird things to my garden that I'm embarrassed to share. But I will. Here's is how my coleus garden usually looks:

Big coleus, small supporting role for hypoestes. But here's how it looks this year:

I guess the hypoestes thrives on drought. The coleus, not so much.

My favorite quilts to make are donation quilts. When I decided I wanted to make quilts faster so I could donate them quickly, I bought an old treadle sewing machine and taught myself to FMQ on it. Previously, I was a hand quilter. The treadle was a cheap alternative to a domestic or long arm machine that I could quilt on. I also started entering giveaways to build a stash just for donation quilts. It's worked out well. Nearly every donation quilt I've made is from primarily giveaway fabric. And I think the reason that these quilts are most fun is that I am challenged to use fabric I might not choose myself. Here are a couple of recent quilts I made from giveaway fabric:

I enjoy being an armchair traveler. I really like to read blogs or look at online photo albums of other people's travels. Which leads me to my nominations for One Lovely Blog Awards...

Although lately I've been a bit remiss in commenting on blogs (summer routines or lack of them), I do read quite a few blogs. But I'm going to put just two out there that I have recently discovered. These blogs both center around quilting, but with the added fun of travel. 

The first quilter I want to nominate is Louise from My Quilt Odyssey. The first thing that attracted me to her blog was the boat on her header with the quilts hanging from it. Beautiful! She lives on that boat, and makes lots of lovely quilts--making very efficient use of the space she has. She and her husband have a companion blog about their travels (there's a link on her quilting blog). I especially like that she makes a lot of quilts for Project Linus (inspirational patterns for the rest of us) and writes little tips along the way as she quilts. Flipping back and forth between the two blogs is very enjoyable indeed.

The second quilter I want to nominate is Karen from Tu-Na Quilts, Travels and Eats. She and her husband just finished a whirlwind tour of Minnesota on a 72-store shop hop!! Her detailed account of the hop is delightful in every way--from the interesting shops to the logistics of such a tour to all the loot! She has her blog posts divided up into categories so you can just focus on what you're interested in, but really, you'll want to read them all. 

Do go visit these blogs if you haven't already. They are such lovely blogs. 

I'm linking this post with Sew Fresh Quilts. I hope you are having a great time this week with your own lovely blog. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a Throwback Thursday post.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Love Wins Finish

Whew!  A finish this week! I wasn't expecting that when I sat down to start hand stitching the binding to the back of my quilt, but I just kept going and going, and now it's done!

When I make a quilt, I usually try to piece the backing from leftover fabrics from the front, but with this quilt there wasn't a lot of fabric left, so I decided to use just one fabric. I ended up using a stripe after lots of dithering that I won't go into here. I'm definitely not fond of stripes as a backing. They are hard for me to square up and keep straight while basting. But I do love them for binding. Of course, using a striped binding with the same striped backing poses some problems. I tried to intentionally not match the stripes in the binding to the backing so that I wouldn't drive myself crazy trying to match them. That was harder than it might seem. There are some places where they do sort of match up. I'm not sure how that happened. I probably stretched the binding a little, but overall, I think it's okay. And I do love a striped binding.

Some weird shadows from the quilting here. Looks better in person.
I had two false starts with the quilting. I tried some concentric hearts on the heart shaped blocks, first in free-motion and then with a walking foot. I wasn't happy with my FMQ (wobbly) and did not enjoy all the quilt maneuvering I needed to do with the walking foot. So I ripped out what I had done and went with my old stand-by. Yup. Meandering. I did big meanders in the hearts--with some random tiny heart shapes (or maybe they look like leaves?) thrown in here and there--and little stipples in the background. At the bottom of the quilt I did the big meanders above and below the letters and little stipples between them to make them stand out and to keep the amount of quilting consistent with the rest of the quilt.

Just after finishing the quilt, I read a blog post telling why I shouldn't "ruin" my quilt with allover meandering. Ouch. I may need to write a rebuttal about why I love meandering.

This quilt begged to be made. Shortly after the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, I read that the Orlando Modern Quilt guild was collecting quilts for the survivors, friends and families of victims, and first responders as a gesture of support. I had a bundle of Robert Kaufman rainbow fabrics that I had won a couple of years ago in a Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Blog Tour. I was still trying to decide what to do with it. The bundle practically jumped off the shelf at me, and I knew I had to use it for a Quilt for Pulse. The Orlando guild suggested using a heart pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew. I liked the pattern, but it was so cheerful, and I knew that the hurt from the Pulse tragedy would endure. Lives were fractured; hearts were broken. So I decided to add some fractured and broken hearts to the other blocks to recognize that pain, but with the message that Love will win out in the end. I quickly sketched out an idea.

You can read about how I made the fractured and broken hearts here and here. I also planned the letters on graph paper, six inches high and proportional to each other. 

I don't tackle tough issues in my blog. I want to focus on the sweetness and light that is quilting. But there is so much ugliness in this world of ours, so much hate and horror and pain. I am thankful that we as quilters can do something to counteract the evil around us with love in the form of quilts. It's hard for me to put my thoughts and feelings into words, but I hope that my messages for healing can be read in my quilt. I know that there is a broad quilting community that gets this, and I am so thankful to be a part of it. I just wish there weren't so many reasons to make these kinds of quilts. I could go on, but I'll leave it at that.

Here are some more pictures in the backyard...

Look close for a message and signature

and at the park behind our township offices... 

and after washing, with all it's crinkliness (and flatness!)

And now some stats:
Blocks: Basic heart pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew; original fractured and broken hearts and letters.
Block size (finished): 10 inches
Quilt size: 50 1/2 inches by 60 1/2 inches before quilting 
                 50 by 60 inches after quilting
                 47 1/4 by 57 1/4 inches after washing (5 to 6 % shrinkage)
Fabrics: Rainbow fabrics from a Robert Kaufman bundle of Blueprint Basics by Valori Wells; additional rainbow prints from my stash; assortment of white, off white and white/gray scraps; A is for Alligator by Michele Scott for Northcott Fabrics for backing
Batting: a mystery to me. The last of a piece I had in my stash. I love it; it's scrunchy and soft--maybe an 80/20 blend. It squares up the quilt beautifully and flattens any ripples after washing the quilt.
Binding: same fabric as backing; 2 3/8 inches for a 3/8 inch finish; machine sewn on front and hand stitched to back.
Piecing thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite
Quilting thread: Superior King Tut in Temple
Pieced on Singer Featherweight
Quilted on Singer 115 treadle

This quilt will soon be on its way to Florida to help with the healing of Orlando.

I'm linking this post with Crazy Mom Quilts and Free Motion Mavericks, but they're both on blog-cation, so those links will come later. Also with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday. You can hit the buttons on the sidebar when those links become active.

Have a lovely weekend, and thank you for all you do to heal others with the love in your quilts.