Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Happy Holidays!

It seems that I have been taking an unintentional blogcation this month. I did take a blogcation at this time last year but wasn't planning to this year; however, life has changed my plans. The good news is that my shoulder is healed enough that I have been cleared for strength training. But along with that comes a set of more exercises in addition to the ones I'm doing to get my range-of-motion back. Who knew that I'd get more quilting done when my arm was still in a sling than now that I'm less confined? I sure didn't. But these exercises are the key to getting back (eventually) to all the things I love to do most. 

While I'm spending most of my discretionary time becoming a full-time fitness enthusiast (not!) instead of quilting, I have been doing some other things this month. I've decided to share them on Instagram with the theme of "Why I'm Not Quilting This Month." That will keep me in the habit of posting at least a little bit and will remind me that even though I'm not quilting, I'm becoming more active again. And that is definitely something to celebrate. You can see what I've been up to by clicking on the Instagram link on the right sidebar.

I do have one thing to share right now. 

I've been wanting a little Fisher Price sewing machine set ever since I saw one on Val's Quilting Studio blog. I've always kept my eye out for one when antiquing (although those adorable toys are pretty hard to find in antique stores), and from time to time I look online. I mentioned to my daughter awhile back that I was looking for one. It turns out she had already found one. She was going to give it to me at Christmas, but she gave it to me early this month instead--for HER birthday. Isn't that sweet?! It now has an honored place on my shelf with my other sewing trinkets. 

I'll leave you with some shots of a few of the ornaments I've made over the years. The wonky butterfly is a special memory. I made it 36 years ago the day I was in labor with my daughter. (No crazy clean-the-house nesting for me. It was all about getting the Christmas decorating done and feeding my creative soul.) I'm making some other ornaments right now, but I can't share them until after Christmas. 

So, here's wishing you Happy Holidays! I'll be back next year with (hopefully) more regular posts. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying yourself whether sewing or prepping for holiday fun--or both.

I'm linking up this week with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trunk Show 2016

                                                             Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

I've been sewing for the past week and am thrilled to report that my shoulder has healed enough to allow me to do some work on my treadle. I made some arm rest protectors and antimacassars. Antimacassars--ooh, what an old fashioned word! You might remember them from your great-aunt's or grandma's parlor chairs. They are the pieces of fabric (or crocheted doilies) that go over the backs of chairs to protect them from hair products-- literally, grease. When I got hurt, we bought me a recliner to sleep (and pretty much live) in, and then we ordered another for my husband. (Caregiver's chair?) I know they'll get a lot of use, and I want to keep them fairly clean. I've also needed a therapy project. I was going to quilt the protectors, but then I found some upholstery fabric in just the right shade, so I didn't quilt them after all. They won't be making an appearance here, but I'm just glad I was able to do some basic sewing. 

Not having a recent quilting project to share--I found that Soma of Whims and Fancies is doing a trunk show this week. It's the perfect way to sum up my quilting for this year. And it gives me a boost to see what I've done since not a lot of quilting has been going on for the last couple of months (and that can make me cranky). So here they are in roughly chronological order. If you want to read more, click on the link for each one. 

 1.  Choose Your Illusion. This quilt is from a pattern called Use Your Illusion by Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs. I donated it to A Mother's Hope program of Margaret's Hope Chest.

2. Random Experiment. This quilt is from a freebie pattern in a mailing from American Patchwork and Quilting called Now and Later by Kathie Holland. To make it, I pulled my fabric units from a grocery bag and used them just as I pulled them--truly random placement of the colors. This quilt also went to A Mother's Hope program at Margaret's Hope Chest.

3. Big Quilt. This is a quilt I designed and made for my son and daughter-in-law based on a screen printed pillow. It took me a little over a year to make from first idea to binding. It helped me become very familiar with quilting on my treadle sewing machine. I wrote about 50,000 blog posts about it as I made it. Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.

4. Round and Round. This is a piano quilting stool cover I made using a Spirograph style quilting. Tiny quilt, and the quilting looks so complicated, but it isn't. The basic design is all straight lines. I embellished the outside edge with some curves and added some FMQ flowers. So much fun! 

5 and 6. Old Fashioned Values and Leftovers! I made these quilts from a huge batch of charm squares that were gifted to me in an unusual way. The first is named for the vintage looking prints and value placement of the squares. It's based on the Flower Patch Quilt by Kathryn Ludowese. I had enough squares left over from the first quilt to make the second. So that quilt really named itself. These quilts were donated to the Hands2Help challenge hosted by Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict

7. 2AM Quilt. This quilt was a wedding gift for my niece and now nephew, who were married in August. They wanted a vintage-y style quilt, so I went with a scrappy Burgoyne Surrounded, called Tone-It-Down by Lissa Anderson in the February 2014 American Patchwork and Quilting. I couldn't resist a more modern back. 2AM refers to their first and last initials, which are the same.

8. LOVE WINS. The basic whole heart is from Cluck Cluck Sew. I designed the fractured and broken hearts. I made this quilt for distribution by the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild to the survivors and families/friends of the victims of the shootings at the Pulse nightclub. This was a very emotional project. The message was specific to the event, but given the divisive nature of my country's recent election, I think the words can be applied and will echo in a more general way for a very long time. 
So that's this year's batch of quilts. I completed some other quilted projects as well, and there are several quilts in progress, going oh-so-slowly right now. But I am confident that in the coming year they will all become part of the next trunk show of finishes as my shoulder gains strength and healing.  

I'm looking forward to seeing all your favorites in your own trunk show! Don't forget to link up with Soma's party and to check out the other posts. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Autumn Inspiration

I haven't had an opportunity to quilt in the last week, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about quilts or what inspires me in color and design. And right now my inspiration is definitely autumn. We've had a long-lasting color season this year. Most of the reds are fading or gone now, but there are still yellows and oranges with just enough green for contrast. 

I love how the yellow veins in this leaf contrast with the orange. It would make a good model for a wall hanging. The leaf isn't perfect, but that's what makes it interesting. 

We took a little trip to the Grand Rapids (Michigan) area on Tuesday. It was a balmy 78 degrees and a bit hazy. I love those kinds of (rare) days in November. We spent some time at the Grand Ravines park by the Grand River. 

Muted colors by the river--

I like to try to frame my photos with a tree branch/trunk when I can...

...or a railing--or both.

The woods in the protected areas of the ravines still had quite a bit of green.

But the colors kept changing depending on the sunlight. Look at those interesting lines. I think they were a vine winding through the trees.

I've always admired quilted landscapes with strong vertical trunks. There are so many techniques available to construct them. I really need to try one. (That's why there are so many pictures here.)

An overlook by a deep ravine. Kind of chapel-like.

Lovely path.

Spots of red. Twins.

And another view.

Such a beautiful day. I haven't been able to get out much this autumn--but this made up for it. And now a shout out to Soma, whose pattern Autumn Harvest is featured in my Autumn Abundance project this year. Thanks, Soma, for your wonderful paper piecing patterns and for encouraging us all to seek inspiration with our cameras.

I'm linking up today with Wandering Camera, hosted by Soma of Whims and Fancies.

                                                Camera And Photography Linky Party | Whims And Fancies   
I hope to be back next week with some quilting. In the meantime, I hope your week is inspiring!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Autumn Abundance Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post for the Autumn Abundance Blog Hop last week. I was overwhelmed by the compliments and good wishes and had a blast reading about everyone's autumn projects and favorite things about autumn. 

Last night I used a little program to choose a random comment for my giveaway, and the winner is Kathryn, the 36th person to respond! Here's what she said:

"I love the return of cider to my local stores in the autumn. Best wishes on your recuperation from your 'autumn' event. Thanks for the giveaway."

Last night she told me that she has some fabric that will work very well with the bundle of leftovers I'm sending her. Congrats, Kathryn! The fabric and little collection of binder clips will be on the way to you soon!

And here are some awesome mums. I'd like to say they were the inspiration for my quilt, but I didn't see them until yesterday near my dad's condo. 

Everywhere I look right now there is great color inspiration for quilts. I display a calendar in my living room as part of my decor. For many years, it was a quilt calendar, but this year I had to choose something else because the calendar company discontinued the quilt-themed one. So I bought a landscape calendar instead. I love it! Every month is new inspiration for color and even design for a quilt. This was October:

And today I turned the page (yes, I know I'm a day late), and there was this! 

Those colors look kind of familiar, don't they? Yay, Autumn!

Happy November! As I said, I know I'm a day late, but I was busy yesterday enjoying our gorgeous autumn weather (upper 70's with hazy sunshine). Maybe tomorrow I'll post some pictures of my little field trip. Not exactly quilt related, but oh so quilty inspirational. And since I've had to take a little break from quilting, this is the next best thing. See you then!

Linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumn Abundance Blog Hop

Welcome, everyone! Today is my day on the Autumn Abundance Blog Hop hosted by Bernie at Needle and Foot and sponsored by Paintbrush Studio Fabrics. (Be sure to read to the end--there's a giveaway.) Bernie had the idea for this blog hop way back in the summer and did all of the leg (finger?) work to make it happen. I'm so glad she did. Autumn is my favorite season, so I was eager to participate even though I was a little nervous about sewing on a timeline. I had a project in mind and was thrilled when one of the available fabric collections provided by Paintbrush Studio looked like a perfect fit for what I had in mind. 

Be sure to check out the other bloggers in this Hop. Here's the schedule: 
  Monday October 24: Our Host, Bernie from Needle and Foot
  Tuesday October 25: Hey, that's Me, and you're here!
  Wednesday October 26: Mari from The Academic Quilter
  Thursday October 27: Tish from Tish's Adventures in Wonderland
  Friday October 28: Sandra from Musings of a Menopausal Melon--mmm! quilts

Here is the collection of prints I chose. It's called Into the Woods. The solid fabrics along the left side are from their Painter's Palette collection. I chose Rice Paper, Mist, and Azure to provide a pale contrast with the prints, and a dark brown called Expresso.
As you can see, most of the prints are what I think of as blenders or tone-on-tones. When I look back over my years of quilting, I can see that I have been most comfortable working with these types of prints. And the special thing about these particular prints is that most of them have an added sparkle of metallic gold in them--so festive for autumn. This collection was just what I needed for my small scale quilt.

Now I could hold you in suspense and slowly tell you about the process before showing my project, but I just can't do it. I have to show you now! (Then I'll tell how it came to be.)

The center block is a paper pieced Autumn Harvest pattern by Soma of Whims and Fancies that I won from her in a giveaway on her blog a while ago. I had a long-time plan to use it in a wallhanging--or really a door hanging for my front door. What I love about the pattern is how well it portrays what I love about Autumn--the abundance of everything: rich colors, lovely produce, beautiful skies, and the delicious tastes of the comfort foods we associate with autumn and cooler weather. I'm grateful to Soma for the opportunity to sew one of her delightful designs. Here are some of my pattern pieces with the colors labelled:
When I chose the solid colors, I wanted strong contrast with the prints--necessary so that the design stands out to passers-by. So instead of a bright, clear blue typical of the sky at this time of year, I chose the color of a more hazy sky when the weather is more balmy. We've actually had a lot of those skies lately. The Azure I chose is just right--and I was thrilled that it looked just as I expected it would.  

The fields in our area at this time of year are generally not really colorful. Much of the corn has already been cut, and the soybeans have gone from yellow to dull brown. The produce is in the markets and numerous farm stands along country roads.
I tried various combinations of colors for the field. 
But I wanted my fields to sing with color. So I chose the brighter orange print and the yellow to represent a fields of mums, much like the dig-your-own field a local garden center used to have. Using a solid brown for the fence helped it stand out more from the printed background.

I originally planned to use the orange/yellow/green leaf print and darker green for some of the hills, but I needed better contrast and scale. 

So I chose the lighter green instead. The shadowy print and dusting of metallic gold suggests trees just beginning to change color. The dark blue of the farthest hill helped create some depth in the scene.

And did you see those pies? Yum! Pumpkin is our favorite. My husband bakes the best pumpkin pie using dark molasses. So of course I had to use the darker orange print for that slice on the windowsill. We also love apple pie. Our local high school swim team makes ready-to-bake pies as an autumn fundraiser, and we always buy them. With teenagers making pies, you never know how the crust will look. Some are a little clunky, but they are always delicious. One year, a math enthusiast used the pi symbol for the vents on top. Fun!The light brown fabric in the collection was the exact pie crust color! How neat is that?

I used Mist for the window frame, and finished the center block on August 30.
I was pretty pleased with myself. I was way ahead of schedule for this Blog Hop. Then disaster struck.

On September 1, I broke my shoulder in a fall from my bicycle, and on the 15th I had surgery to repair it. (That fall is now the reason I am meticulously using the word "autumn" in this post. Don't want any reminders of fall.) Recovery will be a long process. I thought I'd have to give up on the project and the Blog Hop. But eventually I figured out how to use technology and alternative sewing methods so that I could continue designing and finish the quilt top one-handed. Good thing I was making a tiny quilt!! You can read about what I did here and here.

First, I used my Quiltography app to plan strips of flying geese around the center block. I first heard about this program from Bernie, our host for this Hop. The program allowed me to even see how the fabrics would look. Here's how my final plan looked (with tan subbing for the center block):
I won't go into the process here. You can check out Bernie's post about it or check the Quiltography website.  When I did the actual sewing I used the Azure, Rice Paper and Mist randomly to create sky with autumn clouds. I also spaced some of the geese out to represent the stragglers that you see overhead. (Maybe the flying geese design is supposed to represent whole Vs of geese. Oh well, mine are individuals.) We have an abundance of geese this time of year. 

I used a free template from Quilter's cache to paper piece the flying geese using a variety of the fabrics in the collection. After sewing a strip of the lovely black larger-scale print from the fabric collection to my center block, I added the flying geese strips using partial seams at the corners where the strips met. Then I added a wider strip of the black print. 

I still need to quilt this little gem. But I'd like to do it by machine, and my arm is not strong enough yet. I do know that I will bind it in the yellow fabric. I will be sure to show you when it's finished. 
I am so happy with how this little quilt top turned out. The fabrics were easy to work with, and the colors and scale were exactly what I needed. I really enjoyed making decisions about where to place each fabric and how to make the most of the contrast. 

Here are the finished measurements for the quilt if you'd like to try one yourself. Remember to add seam allowances where necessary.
  Center block: 10 inches square
  First border: 1 inch
  Flying Geese Border: 2 inches wide by 14 inches long
  Outer Border: 2 3/4 inches wide 
  Total size: 21 1/2 inches square
And now for the giveaway. I was really planning to make a couple of mini minis (mug rugs) with flying geese to give away, but that's just not possible right now due to my limitations and therapy schedule. So, if you leave me a comment on this post telling me about an autumn project you've made or your favorite thing about autumn, I will randomly choose one lucky respondent (I'm sorry, but North American residents only) on November 1 and send you my leftover fabrics from the Into the Woods collection. If you are a no-reply blogger, please give me your e-mail address in your comment. 
You might want to make your own autumn mini. And if you haven't paper pieced before, maybe you'll consider making some flying geese strips. I highly recommend them as a beginning project. You can make one continuous strip, and the piecing is repetitive with regular shapes--a very friendly first project. 

Along with the fabric, I'm including these little binder clips. They have nothing to do with this project, but they're cute and would be useful for any project where you want to keep patches or blocks together. 

*This Giveaway is now ended. Check out the next post for the winner.

Thanks again to Bernie for hosting this hop and to Paintbrush Studio for sponsoring. Be sure to check out their websites if you haven't already.

Okay. One more picture--

I'm linking up with Freemotion by the River and Sew Fresh Quilts for their linky parties this week. Buttons are on the sidebar to the right.

Have a beautiful week, and remember to hop on over to the other Autumn Abundance bloggers.