Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summertime Potpourri

Summertime seems to be a time for bits and pieces. And that's fine with me. So this post will be a potpourri of what's keeping me occupied these days. Some things related to quilting, but also a little travelogue of a bike ride--but I promise that even that has some relevance to needlework.

So here goes. First up--I've finished my improved fabric storage organization. If you've been following, you'll know that I've been folding my fabric onto comic book boards to store (mostly) in drawers and (a little) on a shelf. I ended up buying 4 (yes, 4!!) packages of 100 boards each. I used a few of the boards as they were to fold larger pieces of fabric, but I cut nearly all of the boards in half to fit in the drawers. That's nearly 800 different pieces of fabric. Wow! It's a bit hard to show all of the drawers, but here they are:

Some of the drawers are no longer full (especially the black/gray/white drawer), but I'll keep them as they are for now. This was a good exercise in getting to know my fabrics all over again and seeing what I'm lacking. I tried to group the colors by value. (That's why most of the ones showing look lighter.) It will be so much easier to audition fabric without making a big mess on the bed. (I hope.) The few pieces that were big enough for the full size boards are now on a shelf in the closet, folded horizontally so they fit the space.

My yellow scrap bins are a bit more full now because anything that didn't fit on a board got tossed in, but those bins will take a lot before they overflow. Hopefully, I'll make a scrap quilt before that happens. The only fabric that did not end up on a board was my collection of Kona solids and any fabric that I win in giveaways for donation quilts. (They have their own yellow bins.) I have a few boards left. I'm sure they'll get used eventually.

Speaking of fabric, in the past week or so, I've received two happy quilty mail packages!! Yippee!
The first was this bundle:
This is from Paintbrush Studio fabrics through Jayne at Twiggy and Opal. It was a giveaway during the Patriotic Palette Blog Hop. I love me some solids and have used the Painter's Palette line before and really like it. I have some plans for these, but they will have to wait awhile. Thanks so much to both Twiggy and Opal and Paintbrush Studios!!

Then I got this fun package from Louise at My Quilt Odyssey in a giveaway to celebrate her recent windfall of fabric. Read the story about the windfall here. It will warm your heart.

In addition to fun fabric (purples to boost my stash, umbrellas, and snowmen--Christmas in July!), there's a "Quilting Hottie" magnet. That made me laugh because I had just finished pressing a quilt top and backing in the basement, trying to stay cool during some really hot weather. I didn't want my iron to heat up the house and fight with the AC. And then, the Hera marker. I got a Hera marker in a swag bag at a quilt conference years ago, and it was getting really dull. I had thought of buying a new one, but never got around to it. Imagine my surprise to get the Hera marker from Louise and find out that the one I was using all these years was a miniature one. I love how the new one feels in my hand, and I know I'll use it a lot. So thanks to Louise, too!! All of these new fabrics will go into the bin for donation quilts.

Let's see. What else?
I treated my Painted Daisy Quilt with UV fabric protection spray this week.
I found two types online. One was a solvent-based spray and one was water-based. Both got mixed reviews. I decided to go with the water-based one. I'll let you know at the end of the summer how it's doing. Hopefully, it will slow down any fading. The early morning sun is harsh on my front door. But if the quilt fades, I'll just have to make another one, I guess. Sometimes, it's just so hard being a quilter. Ha!

I basted my Deconstructed Coins quilt over the weekend and did quite a bit of the quilting on Monday using my walking foot--straight lines in the dark blue areas and wavy lines in the rest of it. I'm still working on smooth waves. 
I think after spending all that time making the top, I could have come up with a more imaginative quilting plan, but it's time to wrap this up and get on to other things. The curves and widely spaced lines will make it a soft quilt, though, and that's important for this one. Hopefully, by the end of next week I'll have a finish to share. 

Meanwhile, I've started planning a new quilt so that I have something to hand quilt in the evenings or when I'm on vacation. I love cottage gardens (even though my own gardening is hit and mostly miss) and the old-fashioned look of hollyhocks. So I'm planning to make the Hollyhock pattern from Ruth McDowell's Pieced Flowers book. I spent way more time than I should have scanning the patterns from the book and then fiddling with them to get the percentage of enlargement right (it would have been easier to go to the library and copy them, I was too lazy to get in the car and it was too hot to walk), but the fiddling paid off, and now I have the master pattern to piece the parts with freezer paper piecing.

I'm hoping to use my newly organized stash for this, but we'll see what happens as I get into it. I know I have another WIP to finish (Lake Michigan quilt), but I think this project will mesh well with that one.

Summer isn't all sewing. Sometimes we go for long bike rides on the rail-trails in our state. 
Yesterday was a gorgeous day for a ride. The scenery was lovely, as always.
But this time, I was interested in details in three towns along the way. For example, here is what I found in the restroom at the trailhead where we started our ride.

Isn't it adorable? All those tiny stitches. It's obviously old. I wonder about the maker and when it was made. Little did the maker know the work would become restroom art. But it's just right for this cute little trailhead in a cute little town. I've shown pictures of this trailhead here before, but this is a new addition. (That post I linked to is a long post, but coincidentally, it also shows pictures of my sewing closet revamp last year, so it kind of relates to my first item in this post.)

At the other end of the ride was a larger town. We roamed around just enough to know that we need to go back and take a closer look. The businesses in the downtown buildings have changed over the years, but the buildings are still intact with beautiful architectural details and the pavement is red brick for several blocks. On one corner, we found a Little Free Library (I love those!!)
Towns along the trail all have similar street names that give a glimpse of the past. 
I love imagining what these towns were like when the railroads ran through them. There is one town along the way that was a lumber/saw mill town in the 1800's. From the few pictures I've found of it online, it once had an apparently busy downtown district with elaborate brick storefronts. Now that area is almost a ghost town. There is a small post office (open a few hours a day), an insurance agency, a village office in a simple modern building, and a funeral home. There are large gaps where buildings once stood. Most of the rest of the buildings are closed up and crumbling, some with crude siding covering the fronts. A couple have been subdivided into apartments. I've taken pictures here before, but haven't looked closely. Here are the two sides of the street. 

Do you see that gap in the lower picture? Something made me cross the street and take a closer look. Here's what I found:
I think my heart skipped a beat. Two rooms with the exact same tile pattern. What do you suppose was here? How old are these floors? I wanted to ask someone about them, but the post office and village office were both closed and there was no one else around. When I got home, I tried to do some research online. I found a business directory from maybe the late 1800's or early 1900's. It did list a millinery and a dressmaker (no addresses). I'd like to think that maybe one (or both) of those were here. Most of the towns we go through on our rides appear to have seen better days in terms of downtown shopping districts. Residents drive to larger towns for shopping or other services. The closing of the railroads that ultimately gave us the lovely bike trails had a big impact on the towns we ride through, but most of them retain some vitality. And most of them are hubs of the agriculture community. But this town was probably also affected by the downturn in lumbering. It just looks sad to me and gives me the strangest feeling of nostalgia for a time and place I didn't even know. Maybe I'm overly sentimental for a time and place that might not even have been as I imagine. And I know that no town stays the same over time. Anyway, finding this little gem of a floor makes me want to save something of that past before this floor disappears in the weeds. Wouldn't this make a great hexie quilt pattern? Too bad I don't like to do EPP or I'd be on it in a minute. I do hope to find out more about this floor and whatever used to be here. There is a little historical museum in the town over the river. I think a visit is in order. I'll let you know if I find out anything.

Before returning home, we made one more little stop in a town we've ridden through on our bikes before. This town has been building a rest stop on the bike trail and we wanted to see the progress. Oh, my. Adorable!! They have built it to resemble the train depot that used to sit on the same property. That depot is still in existence, but it was moved a number of years ago several miles out of town to become a private residence. (I'm glad it wasn't torn down.) This new rest stop has a picnic pavilion where the baggage room would have been. The room with the "witch's hat" roof will be a museum.
This bike trail is fast becoming one of my favorites in the state, mainly I think because of how the towns along the way have embraced it and added to the sense of history and the enjoyment of riding. 

Well, that's how my summer's been going and my newest discoveries. What little discoveries have you made? Quilting/sewing inspiration is everywhere and in the most surprising places!! 
I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.


  1. what a beautiful hexie pattern in the pavement! they should have taken better care of it. I have some of my fabric on comic book boards as well - we do not realize how much fabric we have until we try to organize!

  2. I just love those old towns! What a glorious way to explore and be outside. You are lucky it's available to you! I'm impressed with your newly organized storage. It looks great! And you're so right about reacquainting with your stash. Good luck with your new pp quilt! I had hollyhocks for a number of years but they finally died out. I just commented the other day that next spring I'm going to replant some!

  3. You sure have been busy with organizing your stash and working on your coins quilt. I enjoyed going on a virtual bike ride with you this morning. I used to do a lot of genealogical research before I found quilting. And it is interesting to see the pieces from the past that make us think about those who came before us and wonder what life was like for them. That tile flooring is incredible!

  4. That mosaic made me wish I was into EPP, too! I've never seen a pattern like that, where the motif has such intricate "arms." I hope you find out something more about the site's history and fill us in.

    It never occurred to me to sort my fabrics by value, but that's a great idea and would probably help me do a better job with getting a good range of values in my quilts. I want to just open your fabric drawers just to peek at their calm, serene order. And I really enjoyed going back and reading about your closet! Is that weird?

    I just ordered Ruth McDowell's Expanding the Piecing Basics book, so I'll be watching your new project closely.

  5. I love seeing organized fabric like that! Getting mine done made a huge difference in how I feel when I walk into my room now.
    I know how you feel about quilting to "get it done"! It's looking soft and beautiful.
    I love cottage gardens too! Never thought about making a cottage garden quilt. I like the idea!
    Love reading about your bike rides and finds along the way. I'm keenly interested in that tile!

  6. Congratulations on getting your pieces organized! It looks great. And sorting by value--I never thought of doing that. Mine are sorted by color family, but I can see how value would work great. Not a surprise that it took that many boards. There is always a lot more there than we think. I enjoyed your travelogue as well. That mosaic might motivate me to take up EPP again! Have a great weekend!