Saturday, July 28, 2018

Really Red

Red is not my favorite color, although I do like it in rainbow quilts. So I wasn't sure how much red there would be in my drawers when I started working on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for this month. 

I thought I would have to include a lot of more purplish maroons.
But as it turned out, I didn't have to. 
I had enough variety with the brights and dark reds.
There were some really old fabrics in there. Do you see calico? From the late '70's!
A few leftover Christmas fabrics here and there.
And, of course, my extra little strip of other RSC color in each block. Funny how that strip almost always ends up in the same position.
I think they turned out okay.
Here they are together.

And here they are playing with all their other RSC friends (Not distributed real well, but no matter. Just playing.) It's so interesting how the new color each month totally changes the whole look of the blocks together. 

I'm linking up with Angela at soscrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap! on Sunday.

I hope you had a fun RSC month if you're participating. Just think: only three more colors to go!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Vacation Acquisitions

This was the year I was going to try to use up fabric on hand. And I have sort of been doing that. But no matter how hard I try to reduce, the fabric multiplies. Since I can't share what I've been working on this summer--two secret sewing projects, now might be a good time to share the latest acquisitions, most of which I bought while we were on our recent vacation. 

First, I need to share the cool bundle of fabric that came through the giveaway from Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Moda Fabrics in conjunction with the Hands 2 Help Challenge earlier this year. This is Authentic Etc by Sweetwater. A whopping 33 fat quarters! I love the simple color scheme (black, white and avocado) and the patterns (text prints and dense small prints). This bundle will make a wonderful quilt or two to donate sometime over the next year. So thanks, Sarah and Moda!! I will not fret at all about more than 8 yards of additional fabric in my bins. 

When we planned our trip up to the Upper Pennisula of Michigan this year, I knew that I wanted to stop at at least one quilt shop to get a little something as a souvenir. Just as we were approaching the turn to the driveway of our rented cabin for the week, a simple sign popped up along the side of the road: "Quilt Shop 1 mile." Woohoo!! And what a sweet shop it was. Georgia B's in St Ignace. Actually, along a country road outside of town. You wouldn't know it was there except for the simple sign along the main road. Georgia's shop is in an addition to her garage. 
Now when I walk into a quilt store and don't have something specific in mind to buy, I am completely overwhelmed to the point of purchasing paralysis. And, of course, this happened even though I knew I was going to buy something. But what??? 

I froze. Then--Georgia to the rescue. She saw my dilemma and slyly pulled out a quilt she had made and suggested that if I didn't know what I wanted, why not buy pre-cuts. Now I am not a pre-cut person (except for fat quarters), but I was so taken with the quilt, I knew I needed to buy a set of fabric strips. Georgia was out of the bundles that were were in the quilt, but said she was expecting a shipment within the next day or so. My husband and I returned later in the week. (Oh, did I mention my husband went with me on my quilt excursions? He did!! What a good sport.) Georgia's dog (she has three, but only one was in the store) took quite a shine to my husband. Georgia said her husband had passed away in the last year and that since then, her dog has sought out men who come into the store. The second time we stopped by, the dog ran right up to my husband asking to be petted. So cute. 

While my husband entertained the dog, I made my purchase. It's the bundle on the left: Amorette by Kaye England for Wilmington Prints, sweet nostalgic florals. I'm not making the quilt that Georgia showed me, but I will make a simple strip quilt for donation, along with that fabric to the right of it. (More about that white fabric in a minute.)

Here's Georgia (on the left) helping another customer who is just finishing her first quilt (They both gave permission for their photo here.)

This little shop was such a surprise. Georgia was friendly and helpful and knew just what to do to help me overcome my purchasing paralysis. If you ever get up to St. Ignace, I highly recommend that you drive a few miles west down highway 2 until you see the little aqua Quilt Shop sign and turn right. You'll be glad you did. 

Well, that was not the end of my quilt shop adventures on vacation. Later in the week we drove up to Tahquamenon Falls, which is near the town of Paradise. And we just happened to pass this store:
Paradise is a tiny (I mean TINY) town on the shores of Lake Superior. But this store is big! Lots of fabric, notions, patterns, yarn and other needlework supplies! I didn't get a picture of the inside, but it is lovely and bright. I didn't buy fabric here, but I did buy some good new hand quilting needles. I had a hand project with me on vacation, and the night before I had broken my last good needle. A small purchase, but necessary! Oh, and the store is conveniently located near one of the best fish restaurants we've ever eaten at. 

At the end of our vacation, we stayed a couple of days in Indian River, a cute town at the northern end of the Lower Pennisula. We've stayed there before because it's a wonderful area for bicycling on rail trails. And there is an adorable quilt store right near the motel we like to stay at. I've shopped there before. Here's a photo of The Quilt House from another visit there.
This store has a wonderful array of fabric and super friendly staff. After a quick walk around of the store, I knew exactly what to buy. (Maybe if I go to enough quilt shops on vacation, I'll get used to shopping?) I have already cut into this lovely piece of batik for my secret sewing. 

By this time, we were on our way home. There was one more shop I knew I wanted to stop at: Delphine's in Gaylord, Michigan. I wish this store was in my backyard. I know my local stores have wonderful inventories, but somehow this store always seems to have fresh, new fabrics that I'm sure I've never seen before. Maybe it's the way they are displayed in the light and airy space. (Sorry, no picture.) I really had no idea what to buy, but my husband came across a display with the perfect pattern: a paper pieced lighthouse. This was just right for three reasons. It is a pattern of the lighthouse we visited last fall (Tawas Point), but it is also the same architectural design of the lighthouse we could see from the cabin we stayed at this year. (St Helena Island. We couldn't visit St Helena--it's pretty much inaccessible except by special arrangement on a boat--but we could see it clearly and watch its blinking light at night). It is also the same design of a lighthouse we hope to visit soon (40 Mile Point). So the little quilt will be a souvenir of three separate trips! The pattern is a design by a company called Presque Isle Needleworks. I also picked up a bit of sky fabric and a couple sets of sewing machine needles. 

Well, as we were on our way home, you would have thought we were done. We decided to take a secondary road south of Gaylord for a little way to stay off the main highways. And wouldn't you know it, we passed a small hand-lettered sign that said Quilt Store 1 1/2 miles (or something like that). My husband said, "I guess we're stopping, aren't we?" This little store was actually the extension of a longarm business. A few years ago, the owner started stocking some fabric. It's called "OOOO La La Fiber Creations--Northwoods Quilting--The Best Little Quilt Shop in the Middle of No Where." Big name for a little store. She specializes in blenders, batiks and what she calls "uniques" as well as a lot of little notions. I was pretty much shopped out by this time but wanted to purchase something. I liked the fabrics, but would have had to spend some time figuring out just how to incorporate them into a project. (I have never mastered the art of just "building the stash.") So after a few trips around the shop, I settled on a piece of white sturdy muslin--the one you see with the fabric strips above that I bought at Georgia B's because I knew I wanted to combine white with those strips. 

So there you have them. My latest acquisitions. And visits to 5 quilt shops! All with unique vibes. I really did try to stay practical. (Needles!)  I do want to use up more than I acquire, but I think I'll be able to do a good job of using these up. 

Now I need to get back to my secret sewing. One project is finished, and I'll be able to share it very soon. The other secret project is planned and the fabric has been ordered. I'll put the few days waiting for happy fabric mail to good use on July RSC blocks. Then, if I have to wait much longer, I'll start sewing those strips from Georgia B's together. 

I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.

I hope you get to visit some quilt shops on your travels. I wonder: do you buy for specific projects? To build stash? On impulse? Do you ever suffer from purchasing paralysis as I do? (I hope not.) Anyway, happy travels and happy quilt shop hopping!

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


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Oh, My Stars!

I can't believe it's time for TBT again. (I probably say that every month.) As you might recall, this year I'm doing a series of Throwback Thursday posts about quilts that I worked on during the 1980's and early 90's when I had a tiny quilting career. You can read more about that career in any of my posts labeled "my tiny career."  In honor of my country's birthday this week, I'm sharing star quilts. The tops were all constructed by Becky Schaefer from antique fabrics or blocks. You can read more details about her work in my previous posts. I did all of the quilting by hand with off-white cotton thread. Usually I'll show the fronts and backs. The backs show some of the quilting better or show fun samples of antique prints. For documentation, I'm recording any information I have available about sizes, quilting dates, and amount of thread used (because that determined my pay, except for base pay on the smallest ones). 

So let's get started. Lots of photos here. Please excuse the quality of some--they are all scanned from pre-digital photos. 

First up, some variable stars. I think I showed slightly bigger versions of these earlier.  These minis are maybe 9 by 11 inches or so. I forgot to record the size when I quilted them. They make me wonder why I've never tried pink and brown in a quilt. They are quilted about the same, but for some reason I used 10 yards of thread on one and 7 on the other. Perhaps I found a more efficient way of moving from one area to another on the second one. Either way, the pay was the same on these smallest quilts because there was a base rate for them. I finished the quilting in July 1986.

Here's a different colorway. I like the alternation of the contrasting stars and background and no sashing. This one is 9 by 10 7/8 inches. It has very little quilting--just little hearts in the centers, and only 1 2/3 yards of thread. Notice that border with its loose threads. It looks like the fabric was removed from another quilt top or project. I love how the inner border was fussy cut from a striped fabric. I finished the quilting in August 1989.

Here's a quilt with no documentation, which means that I quilted it near the end of my tiny career. I still had the gumption to photograph some quilts but not to file the photos away with details. The size is close to the others in this batch. Isn't that blue border luscious? It looks like I just outlined in the background in this one. 

How about some Ohio Star quilts? This sweet one is set on point. It's 10 by 13 1/4 inches and quilted with tiny feather circles. 4 1/3 yards of thread. Finished in July 1989.

And a much bigger Ohio Star. It measures 56 by 70 inches. It used up 200 1/2 yards of
thread! There is some grid work, a sort of fleur-de-lis in the triangles and rope in the border. More fabric cutting wonder in this quilt in the fussy sashing and inner border.

Here's a close up in a photo that almost looks like an accident. I didn't include a photo of the back because it was really indistinct. I finished the quilting in January 1988.
Here's one more Ohio Star. I have no information at all. Can't even see the quilting (I'm guessing outlining and feathered circles) and there is no photo of the back. It's probably one of my last ones. Sheesh. What a way to end a career. I'm thinking about 20 inches square. 

Let's not dwell on that. Moving on...

I finished quilting the next couple of blocks in the summer of 1988. Each was approximately 18 inches square. I loved doing the feather circles on these very old blocks. The rest of the quilting was a simple outline, carefully done on such fragile fabrics. Each block took 28 yards of thread. 

A long time later, Becky sent me this quilt, which must have come from the same batch of blocks. I have no certain information about it. I'm thinking it must have been about 64-66 inches square. I wish I had close-ups of the quilting. I think it is grid work and an abstract floral. The backing was especially fragile. Based on old invoices, I'm thinking that this quilt used 208 yards of thread and was finished in November 1990.

Ooh, there were even some tiny Lone Star quilts. This first one is 11 inches square including the border. Amazing! Quilting was minimal--parallel lines in the background. 4 yards of thread. Finished in April 1989.

This one is slightly bigger at 11 7/8 inches square. I'm not sure if that's grid work in the background or vertical lines. 4 yards of thread. Finished in May 1989. Old fabrics, but very 80's colors!

The original blocks of this quilt were T's that Becky reworked by flipping the outer corner blocks to make stars. I like the calming browns and homespun fabrics.. It is 33 1/2 by 26 1/2 inches. The quilting is fairly simple, with squares on point in the centers of the stars and some outlining and parallel lines on the diagonal in the background. It took 48 1/3 yards of thread. I finished the quilting in the summer of 1988. 

Yup, there are still a few more...Here are some Lemoyne stars. I don't have the details on this one. It couldn't have been more than 15 by 20-some inches.Quilting was outlining and a rope in the border, likely finished in 1991. 

And a tiny one. 10 by 12 inches, maybe? There's that pretty blue fabric again. By this time I was cranking out minis by the batch. I don't have photos of a lot of them, likely because they were all so similar. I think Becky and I were both speeding toward the end of a era. She had labeled the last batches with some sort of identification code, which is the tag you see hanging there. Pretty sure this was also 1991.
Simple outline quilting.

One more small quilt--a star sampler. I think it's the only photo I have of this type. I do know that I finished this one in July 1991. It's probably about 11 to 12 inches square. I don't have a back photo to show the quilting--it was simple outline in the background patches. 

I wasn't sure if this last quilt should go with star quilts or not, but Becky referred to it as Disappearing Stars, and really, it's my favorite of the whole batch, so here it is. I sometimes catch a glimpse of the stars, but it's really hard for me to hold onto them. Hmm...I guess that's why it's called Disappearing Stars. It's 38 by 48 inches. I absolutely love the colors and the make-do piecing of this quilt and the shirtings used in the background. The quilting includes some outlining, stylized flowers and leaves in the centers of the blocks, and a cable in the border. 117 yards of thread. Finished in the spring of 1986.

Well that was a lot to include, but I'm trying to divide these up by theme so that I can get most of them documented this year. I hope you enjoyed them. I think they have a lot of potential to inspire modern quilts. I'm linking up with Sandra at mmm! quilts for Throwback Thursday and am forever grateful to her for hosting this party for the oldies before bloggies quilts. 

One more thing. Thank you to Kaja (for the link to Fun with Barb--thanks to Barb, too!),  Louise, and Rebecca Grace for all the help getting me back on track with comment emails on my blog. Blogging will be fun again, and now I'll have time to look at everyone else's blogs, and comment on them, too.  Yippee!!

If you are in the US, I hope you had a fun birthday celebration!