Saturday, April 28, 2018


I love yellow. Well, maybe not as a main color, but what it does to other colors, especially in a quilt. So bright and happy. Perfect color for this month as we have been waiting and waiting for spring. This month's RSC18 blocks started with this
as well as a drawer of folded pieces. 

And this is how it ended up, along with those little strings of other RSC colors.

I actually made these almost all at once instead of sprinkling them through the month. We were having some plumbing work done. What started as a simple project kept expanding until I was referring to the plumber as Eldin the Plumber (not to his face) after Eldin the Painter on the old Murphy Brown sitcom. (He had a never-ending painting project going on. I heard that sitcom is coming back. I wonder if Eldin will still be painting.)  Anyway, while the plumbing bill soared, I kept myself busy with strings. The plumber was actually interested, which was kind of nice. Good thing we were paying by the job and not the hour.

I worked harder this time to make sure I didn't have big triangles in the corners. Here's my favorite part of a block: honeycomb and a bee.
Here's the running total. I think I'll still add some strings to some of those bigger triangles on the other colors. 
Doesn't that yellow just pep things up?

Won't be long until we find out the next color. 
I'm linking up this week with Angela at soscrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday

Friday, April 27, 2018

SOC Quilt

 About a year ago, I set aside some fabric for a potential quilt. My starting point was a fat quarter of "focus" fabric I had purchased on a vacation. Here's a scrap. (There was more pink and coral in it than pictured.)

Now why would I buy only a fat quarter of focus fabric? Who knows. I was drawn to the fabric but had nothing in mind to make when I bought it. I pulled other fabrics in the same color families and lined them all up in a bin. Then they sat on a shelf. And sat. And sat. Until a couple of weeks ago when I decided that it was time to make the quilt. I spent some time trying to figure out a plan for a quilt. Each pattern I came up with got more complicated than I wanted. 

Then I got distracted by the need to make a couple of blocks for Quilts for Broncos. These blocks were being collected to make quilts for the families of victims of the terrible bus accident that took the lives of hockey players in Saskatchewan. 


I was so taken with the simplicity of the block and ease (speed!) of construction that I knew it was what I wanted for my quilt. I don't know who designed the block, and I hope that the good people who organized the Quilts for Broncos won't mind that I used the pattern for a different quilt. 

It took me a little while to cut the quilt blocks. 

I had a lot of smallish pieces of fabric and was trying to be frugal. Why? Because I am participating in the RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) this year, and have become a fabric miser. Has this happened to anyone else? Fear of Using up Fabric (FoUuF). I am so afraid that I won't have a good variety of some colors to complete my RSC blocks this year that I don't want to cut into them. This is ridiculous!! The whole point of RSC is to use them up. Seriously, can you relate? So I very carefully cut block parts so that there would be strings left over for my RSCs. And in the end, I had plenty left over. Go figure. It just supports my theory that you never get rid of all of your scraps; you just make them smaller.

And here's another weird thing. After I cut pieces from my little fat quarter of focus fabric and got everything laid out, I hated how the focus fabric looked. It stuck out like a sore thumb, grabbing attention away from the other fabrics. So I took it all out and replaced it with more of my other fabrics. Since then, I've pondered on why that happened. The focus fabric was a strong geometric while all of my other fabrics were blenders. Also, since I only had a fat quarter, I could only sprinkle that fabric over the quilt top and that made it look spotty.

After that finicky cutting, this quilt sewed up in a jiffy. It probably helped that we had a plumber in the house for parts of four days,and there really wasn't anything else to do but sew. 
Pesky breeze and overcast skies, but you take what you can get in early spring.
Basting and quilting went quickly, too. I quilted it all in one afternoon with swoopy sort of flowery designs in the dark squares and meanders in the light areas since they wouldn't show up much anyway. 

And here's the neat thing. By making a pieced strip on the back of the quilt, I was able to use the focus fabric in just the right proportion. To fill out the rest of the back, I visited a nearby fabric shop and limited myself to the (very small) sale section. I found just what I needed in a minty print, and as a bonus, a candy striped (yes, striped!) fabric for the binding. 

See those flowers and butterflies? And the after-wash crinkles?
I like the back so much, I almost wish I had used all gray instead of gray and navy squares on the front, but it's really fine either way.

Just a few more pictures. We have just barely started some spring-like weather, so finding a way to photograph outdoors was a challenge. I first tried some usual shots on the fence, but when I crouched down, the humidity off the grass fogged up my phone and all the shots were hazy. 
Almost hidden signature block

You may be wondering why I called this the SOC quilt. It stands for Stream of Consciousness. Except for the pieces I bought for the back of the quilt and that focus fat quarter, these fabrics are almost all leftovers of previous projects, some quite old. So as I was cutting and sewing, it was kind of like this: "Oh, that's K and C's wedding quilt...there's a piece of J's dress for going to the one-room schoolhouse...those are that bookend fabric line I loved--I can't for the life of me remember what I used those for...there's the back of C's baby quilt...those are the fabrics I used in the perpetual calendar quilt...that was in T's quilt...I used that for those blocks I sent to California...I used that in the quilt for my next door neighbor years ago..." and on and on it went. I'm sure you've been there.

Some stats for this quilt:
Pattern: The block that was requested in the Quilts for Broncos. I scaled mine down from 12 inches finished to 9 inches finished. The back is a variation inspired by the front blocks.
Fabrics: Mostly scraps. The large minty fabric on the back is Sandy's Garden by Sandy Lyman Clough for Red Rooster Fabrics, and the binding is...oops, I don't have enough selvage to know.
Batting: Hobbs Premium Cotton 80/20 
Thread: All Superior: Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut for quilting--Mint Julep in the top and Temple in the bobbin; Mint Julep for hand sewing on binding. I have gotten a LOT of mileage out of that cone of Mint Julep. So many quilts--and there's still a little left.
Binding: Cut 2 1/2 inches wide and folded in half; 3/8 inch finished ( a little wider on the back). 
Size: Quilt: 45 1/2 by 54 1/2 inches pieced; 44 1/4 by 53 1/2 inches quilted; 42 1/4 by 51  inches after washing.  
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for free motion quilting.  

The three best things I learned from this quilt are:

  • Simple blocks can make a great quilt 
  • You don't have to use your focus fabric in the front of the quilt, and 
  • You shouldn't worry so much about "running out" of RSC fabric. 

Two more photos after washing:

I'm planning to donate this quilt to Little Lambs Foundation for the Hands 2 Help Challenge. The prints aren't juvenile, but I think there might be a young child somewhere who would be comforted by a minty, pinky, coral hug.

So I wonder what's next in my quilty life. I don't know yet, but I do know that there are two baby quilts in my future. My niece is expecting a baby girl, and...and... AND...WE ARE EXPECTING ANOTHER GRANDSON!!! (I had to yell that.) Whew, I can finally share that. We just found out the grandSON part last night. Both babies are due in September. Maybe one will be my birthday present?

I'm linking this up today with crazymomquilts for Finish It Up Friday and with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get A Whoop Whoop. I'm linking up again with Confessions of a Fabric Addict during the week of May 20 for the Hands2Help linky party.

Have a beautiful weekend! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gifts for Safelight

I was just finishing a project this past week when a little squirrel jumped out at me. It was the perfect time. I'm not even sure you can call this a squirrel because I wasn't interrupting anything to chase it. But it became an obsession, so yes, a squirrel. I was reading Needle and Foot and saw the cute cosmetic bag and sunglass case that Bernie made for a collection that Carole from My Carolina Home is gathering for Safelight, a residential shelter for victims of domestic violence. 

I don't often make bags. I like the idea of making them, but they tend to be too fiddly for me. But when I saw the pattern for these, I knew I could make them. They are so simple, but so CUTE! 

I knew almost immediately that I wanted to make a set from a Wonderlust fabric (Tapestry in Multi Olive by Paula Nadelstern) I had won a few weeks ago through a giveaway by Sandra of mmm! quilts. I chose a solid black for the linings.These went together very quickly. I spent the most time figuring out how to center the fabrics so there would be symmetry in each piece. I'm thrilled with how they turned out. 

I had so much fun, I just had to make another set. I dithered awhile over what fabric to use but kept coming back to a leftover piece of my favorite Amy Butler fabric (Lark Dreamer Heirloom Blue Sky--that's a mouthful). I had used it to make a phone case, a wallet and a few other items a few years ago. 

There was just enough. I paired it with a light green Hoffman Internationals print from way back in my past.

I used a scrap of Hobbs Heirloom Premium 80/20 batting for all of the bags and quilted them with random threads and my walking foot, just eyeballing along lines in the prints. Lately, I've been trying more to do straight lines this way. I try to focus my eyes about 2 inches ahead of my needle. I'm starting to feel comfortable with it, and a tiny project like this is just right for practice. 

I'm not great at sharp corners when I make bags, but I have decided that if I can't make them sharp, it's good enough if they all look pretty much like each other. I did lock stitches to make sure they were sturdy. 

I like these so much, I may need to make some for myself! If you would like a fun, quick project that might bring a spark of joy to someone going through a rough time, I highly  recommend this one for Carole. Check out her site to see how she's using these to fill gift bags and to see some other options you might like for helping with her project. If you look around, you'll find her pattern as well as photos of the contents of the gifts and some of the bags other people have made. 

I'm linking up this week with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday. And on the 28th, I'll link up with mmm! quilts for Sandra's DrEAMi linky party

So whether you're a bag maker or not, I hope your quilty week is going great. 

(I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products or services, I'm just documenting what I used or liked.)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Between the Lines Quilt

A finish to share--yippee! This one has taken a little longer than I thought it would but it's been a fun project. (I did take several days off from quilting so my husband and I could take care of our grandson while his parents were "at the airport." A super fun reason to take a break.) It all started quite awhile ago when my daughter asked if I would make a quilt that she and our son-in-law could use on their bed. She knew that I was no longer interested in making big quilts (queen size or larger), but she wanted a quilt that could be used as a runner over their bed quilt (whole cloth with gray quilting) and then pulled up for extra warmth in the winter. We both cruised the internet looking for possibilities. She really liked string quilts, but the ones she looked at had really small strings and would have been heavy not to mention bulky for quilting on a domestic machine. (Never mind that I am now making tiny string blocks for my RSC project this year--they'll be in smaller quilts, though.) Then I found a pattern that had fairly wide strings and lattice strips: Between the Lines by Denyse Schmidt (I'm not affiliated with any businesses, just telling you what we used). My daughter loved it. The next step was gathering fabric. She collected batches here and there and brought me the bundle during a visit in late February. So let's take a peek at what it all turned into, and then I'll tell more about it. 

We decided to make the twin size with one change. The pattern calls for an extra wide border on the pillow end of the quilt. We made the borders all the same size reducing the length by about 8 inches. Well, maybe another change: we went a little more scrappy/random, but not much.

Here is the fabric bundle we started with:

To plan the fabric placement (we used all of the fabrics except the yellow you see on the lower left), we chose the most highly patterned pieces for the largest strips and the lightest ones for the little triangles that meet in the corners. After she returned home, we continued making decisions by phone messages. What a fun way to plan! First, I cut the big strips, sewed the white strips that went with them, and tried them out on the design wall.  Then I'd snap a picture to get feedback. This is an early layout of some of those strips. (Sorry about the hazy photos--poor winter lighting.)

Next I laid out the corner triangles:
It was much easier to do this to figure out color, pattern, and directional balance than to try to lay out whole blocks. Sometime during all the layouts, we decided that the gray fabrics would be used to surround the triangles to give the eye a place to rest. (I don't have a photo of that step.) Finally, I laid out the middle strips. 

The whole time, I was in touch with my daughter by phone. 

I did some of the final planning on the wall but also quite a bit with my quilt design app (It's just easier than moving strips around). Eventually we got to this layout. If you look closely, you will see that there is a bit of symmetry: in the top two and bottom two rows of blocks, the biggest strips are placed in "reverse mirror" images of each other except for two strips. That seemed the best way to balance out colors and patterns while still keeping the look random. I loved how the neat pattern emerged out all the chaos of the strips when I started sewing the strips and adding in the lattice strips.  

I really like how the blocks are constructed in this quilt. Instead of piecing to a foundation, the strips are cut generously, joined by matching the centers, and then trimmed to size. There is a template included with the pattern, and I taped it to one of my rulers so that trimming was a snap. All I had to do was line up the template lines with my seams.

I didn't think of it at the time, but having the lattice strips makes joining the blocks so easy--no bulky seams or seam matching. And no extra fabric in the quilt or paper to tear off.

I used leftover fabric from the front of the quilt for the back--using only the lighter fabrics so that nothing showed through the white on the front. I cut rectangles as large as I could based on the smallest piece of fabric I had left. I bought extra of one of the fabrics to fill in the area on each side of a central strip. 

The last decision was how to do the quilting. My daughter liked the look of the quilting that was suggested in the pattern. I liked it, too, even though I knew that concentric squares would mean lots of quilt turning. 

My sewing machine just happens to be in the best adjustment it has ever been in for walking foot quilting, so the work went really smoothly. I used a ruler and hera marker to extend lines onto the lattice strips and borders. Most of the quilting was in the ditch (Ha, in my case, near the ditch). I limited myself to working on just a few parts of the quilt a day to keep myself from getting too tired from quilt wrangling, but by the end I was quilting pretty fast. I had figured out the most efficient directions to turn the quilt to keep the bulk down. My first impulse had been to keep turning the quilt in one direction for each side of the square, but I found that it worked better to turn the quilt in one direction twice and then in the other direction to complete a square. Hard to explain, but it worked well. My favorite part of the quilting is the ghost quilting in the borders that repeats the in-the-ditch quilting on the blocks. 

The pattern also suggested quilting in the ditch around each block, but I left that part out. I baste like crazy before quilting, so I don't need in-the-ditch quilting to stabilize and didn't think the quilt needed it as a design element. 

So here are the finished back and some close ups of the front and back. I had to take all of these pictures inside as a spring snow storm was raging outside. Luckily the snow did brighten the lighting a bit (and soften shadows), so the colors are true. I did figure out how to extend the curtain rod on my design "wall" so that I could hang the quilt from it with skirt hangers. I don't know why I didn't think of that before instead of fighting the breeze and my neighbor's fence. (Lighting can be tricky, though.)

Early on, my daughter picked the binding from one of the quilt fabrics. I think it's perfect for quietly framing the quilt. It will look great against the gray quilting on their bedspread.

How about those sloths?! They show up in three of the fabrics. I love their whimsy. But I had to be vigilant about making them hang properly from their branches. In fact, I referred to one fabric as hedge hogs when talking with my daughter and she reminded me that they were sloths. Made a big difference in how I positioned them!

Relaxing on our bed after washing and drying
Here are the stats:
Pattern: Front: Between the Lines by Denyse Schmidt; Back: Improv pieced
Fabrics: A variety chosen by my daughter. I don't have the specifics. Many of them did not have enough selvage on them to know. The background and borders are Kona white.
Batting: Warm and White 
Thread: All Superior: Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in Temple for quilting; Treasure in Old Lace for hand sewing on binding.
Binding: Cut 2 1/2 inches wide and folded in half; 3/8 inch finished. 
Size: Quilt: 66 by 80 inches pieced; 65 1/2 inches by 79 1/2 inches quilted (almost no shrinkage); 63 1/4 by 76 1/2 inches after washing.  
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for walking foot quilting.  

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish it up Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Celtic Thistle Stitches for TGIFF.

I hope you are having a great quilting week, whether you are quilting in collaboration or solo.