Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Wrap-Up

It's time to summarize my quilting activity for year. I'm not sure how many of these kinds of posts I have done in the past, but I'm not always aware of how much I finish in a year, and it feels good to gather it all in one place, so to speak. 

This year I finished 12 quilts and two tops. Seven of the quilts were donated and the two tops will become donated quilts. Three quilts were gifts and one was sort of a commission/gift. One quilt was for me. I also made three doll hospital gowns, two sunglass cases, two cosmetic bags, and three blocks for donation. And I helped my granddaughter make a quilted pillow in her first sewing experience. There were a few other recent projects--holiday sewing--but I'll keep this list mostly quilt-related.

Here's a quick view of each one. You can click on the title for the link to the blog post, which will also have attributions and other details about the quilt.

1. Quilt for California Two--a twin sized quilt for victims of the Thomas fire in California. (January)
2-4. Doll Quilts--donations to A Doll Like Me. (February)
5. Between the Lines--a twin size quilt commissioned by/gifted to my daughter and son-in-law as a throw for their bed. (April) 
6. SOC (Stream of Consciousness) Quilt--a throw size quilt donated to Little Lambs Foundation through the Hands 2 Help Challenge. (April) 
7.Sir Bear--A kiddie sized quilt, also donated to Little Lambs Foundation through the Hands 2 Help Challenge. (May) 
8. Mariposa Quilt--throw sized, a gift for our newborn grand niece. (August)
9. Saint Helena Island Lighthouse--a mini wall hanging made as a souvenir of our 40th anniversary trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. (August)

10.A's Quilt--throw sized, a gift for our newborn grandson. (September) 
11. Lake Michigan Quilt--wall quilt, a gift to our daughter and son-in-law. (October)
12. Pink and Purple Doll Quilt--a donation for A Doll Like Me. Made mostly from Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2018 blocks. (October)
1-3. Three Doll Hospital Gowns--donation to A Doll Like Me. Made from an actual hospital gown I once wore. (February)
4-7. Cosmetic Bags and Sunglass Cases--donated to Safelight, a residential shelter for victims of domestic violence. (April) 

8-9. Blocks for Quilts for Broncos--donation of blocks for quilts for families of victims of a bus accident that took the lives of hockey players in Saskatchewan. (April)

10. L's Pillow--sewing lesson project with my granddaughter. (May)
11. Log Cabin block--donation to my church's denomination to make a quilt representing our congregations across North America for office art. The quilt has now been finished. I'll share it in the new year. (September)

I'm including these tops because they represent a significant part of my sewing year. They are made from almost all of the blocks I made throughout the year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I made a total of 88 blocks. There are forty in each of these quilts and the remaining 8 are in the pink and purple quilt above. As you can see, they are basted and ready to quilt. (October/November) 

So that's my year, and a good representation of the kind of quilting I like to do--mostly for donation, but some for gifts and a bit for myself. It's been a good quilting year. Can't wait to see what comes of quilting time in the new year. 

Over the next few days, I'll link these up with the next linky parties at Sew Fresh Quilts, Wendy's Quilts and More and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

"Planning" for a New Year

2019 Planning Party

Yvonne over at Quilting Jetgirl is having a planning party for 2019!

I've never planned my quilting year. I've mentioned off and on that I'm averse to timelines having endured too many in my pre-retirement life, so planning and setting goals for each month or quarter or even the year is not me at all. That's kind of funny, because in the rest of my life I am a list maker, and I love the idea of pretty planners. It's also funny because my quilting style is very much a planned (although messy) approach rather than improvisational (although my forays into improvisation have always been fun). I'm probably afraid my passion will become like a job if I make what feel like assignments for myself to fulfill. Really, I like to just make what comes my way, whether it's a gift opportunity, a plea for a donation, or something I'm inspired to try for my home. Anyway, just for fun I've decided to do some "planning" this year. We'll keep it really laid back.

First of all, I had fun doing the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year. (I suppose in a way that was a plan, but I didn't see it that way. It was just a directive from Angela that I followed each month.) But I did not get the two resulting tops quilted because of other life happenings. So I do know that I want to work on those during January. I even have something of a goal: get them done in time to ship out to my favorite organization for donations before the postage rates increase on January 27. (Penny pinching incentive, but if I don't make it, no biggie.)

I'm on a long-term mission to reduce my on-hand fabric. (Yeah, I guess that's a goal of some sort, too--really just trying not to be a burden to my kids sometime in the future when they have to clear all this STUFF out), so I will probably participate in some way with RSC again, but maybe a bit more informally. We'll see.

I have a bin full of fabric that I have set aside for donation quilts. Some has been given through the generosity of quilters and companies, and some I bought as souvenirs on vacation. I know I will want to use up as much of that supply as I can (see above goal and consider that there are so many needs for donated quilts that it seems a shame to have the fabric sitting in my closet). Here are some of the bundles. There are also a good number of random fat quarters. I have a vague idea of what I want to do with some of these, but am clueless about others. We shall see...

I have some potential quilts to make for family members, and maybe a bed runner for our bed, a long-term hand quilting project to finish (a wall quilt for our living room--my only WIP/UFO), and then there are always those opportunities that pop up anywhere and anytime to make quilts for donation. 

Oh, one other thing. I've been slowly documenting all of my pre-blogging quilts on Throwback Thursdays (first Thursday of the month with Sandra over at mmm! quilts). I do plan (yes, plan!) to finish that up in the first few months of the year. 

I think that's about as planny as I can get. Don't hold your breath waiting for me to get these all done! It will just be fun to get to the end of the year, look back, and see what came of it all. 

Seriously, though, my actual plan/goal is to keep blogging. This past year, my blogging was definitely down. I tended to write a very long post at the end of a project rather than doing in-process updates (except for RSC, which I shared each month). I think that trend started because I was having trouble balancing quilting with blog reading/commenting. (I was also frustrated by the issues some of us bloggers have had this year with commenting access.) I don't think I'm alone. It seems to me that many quilters have reduced or abandoned their blogging or shifted over to doing quick Instagram posts. At least that's my perception. I like looking at Instagram even though I'm not consistent at commenting or acknowledging that I've seen a post. That just gets me back into the dilemma of finding time to sew/quilt/read/comment. Seeing photos of what quilters are making with a brief note is fine, but I do like the detailed stuff, too. And for me, the blog posts are the way I document my quilting history, so they are almost always detailed. But who has time to read (or write) all of that? I have some thinking to do about how to proceed. Writing is an arduous process for me, but I don't want to abandon it, and I hope other quilters don't either. So please join me and keep blogging. I'd love to hear your thoughts about it, though. 

Okay, now I'm going to read what everyone else has planned (or not) for the year. I love to read those plans and see all the quilty goodness that comes of them. 

Be sure to hop on over to Quilting Jetgirl and share your plans/not plans and see what others are doing. (I hear there are prizes involved, but don't let that be your sole reason for sharing.) Thanks, Yvonne, for setting up this party!

One thing I think we all can agree on as far as planning goes: Have a happy, quilty New Year! And make the world a better place, one quilt at a time.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Holiday Sewing

Still no quilting going on here--it's been about 2 months now. Definitely a dry period. I was hoping to finish up two small quilts to donate, but I'm realizing now that I'll enjoy the quilting more if I wait until the new year. The quilting "studio" has been used from time to time this fall as a guest room, and now I don't want to mess it up only to have to clean up again in a few days. We've also been out of town a few times this month for family-related needs and gatherings. I wasn't going to do a blog post, but hey, I have done a little sewing, and even though it's not quilting, there were layers of fabric involved, so I can share them. They are surprises, but for little folk, so if their mothers happen to glance at this, I'm sure they will keep the secrets safe.

First up, a few weeks ago I suddenly realized that our littlest grandson needs a Christmas stocking. So I scrambled through the fabric bins to find fabric that coordinated with the stockings I've made over the years for his cousins and brother. These projects are always made on the spur of the moment with less than stellar sewing techniques--super homemade-y, but fun. I managed to find some bits of the dark green I used for his brother's stocking (I had to piece three scraps to get the size I needed) and found most of the fabrics (or close enough) I had used in the other stockings for the light bulbs. I only had to buy a little twill tape for the "string." Here it is waiting to be filled. I've rubbed out most of his name for privacy.

I also made a little soft book for A. It's from a panel by Shelly Comiskey for Henry Glass. 

This page cracks me up. Unicorns are real, people!

Each year, I make ornaments for each of my grandkiddies based on their Halloween costumes. I don't know why I started doing that, but by now it's a tradition. Sometimes I quilt them, but I also like to make them from felt. This year, L was the Princess in Black, based on a book about a princess (dressed in frothy pink) who turns into a super hero (dressed in black) to thwart monsters who are going after the country's goats. (Really.) The princess's logo is a magnolia blossom, so L is getting her own magnolia ornament this year. Through the magic of technology, I can show you the front and back at the same time.

C was Thomas the Tank Engine for the second year. Since I gave him a Thomas ornament last year, I had to come up with something else this year: the windmill from the Island of Sodor (where Thomas lives). I used a brad to fasten the windmill blades so he can turn them.

Little A didn't really wear a costume, but he did wear his little bear fleece, complete with ears, to make the rounds for Trick-or-Treating. So, of course, he needed a little bear. I found  this one as a coloring page online. Now I can't find it, argh! But there are lots of similar ones.

I was stumped when it came time to make E's ornament. He had chosen the Bumblebee transformer costume this year (never mind that he had no idea who Bumblebee was). I had no idea how to make the character in felt. Finally, I found this pixel coloring page math worksheet, and made it in counted cross stitch. What fun. I hadn't done cross stitch in quite a long time. In this version, Bumblebee transforms into a Camero, I think. In the new movie, I think it's a VW. Kind of abstract, but it does relate to the costume of choice this year. I used 18-thread cross stitch fabric and made the X's over three threads, except the date, which is over one thread. 

I thought that might be the extent of my sewing this season, but the other day, my daughter-in-law asked if I could do a tiny project. E had been asking for a super hero cape. She sent me the links to these two tutorials: Pennies into Pearls and The Bears Four. I mashed the two patterns using the neckline from the first and the width and logo of the second to make a cape worthy of a super hero. And, why make one cape when you can make four? Here's E's cape (modeled by Mr. Bear):

And here they are all together:
 Little A's is really a bib, but definitely not a drool-catchy one. I figure he can wear it as a cape during tummy time. It will give him super power to endure it. I made these all out of two layers of satin, with the shiny side out on the top layer and the matte side facing out on the lining. I'm hoping that will make them a little less slippery against clothing. It also made it a snap to sew without slippage. (I can't guarantee there won't be static, though!) I don't have a zig-zag sewing machine, so the shields and letters were a little fiddly. I used freezer paper for patterns for the shields and some stabilizer behind the letters, which I turned under and appliqued with a straight stitch. Except A's. His letter was so small that I did raw edge applique with the stabilizer (yes, I know fusible web would have worked, but I had the stabilizer on-hand) and put some fray inhibiter on the edges. The logos are cotton fabric instead of the recommended felt because I wanted the capes to be machine washable. (That also reduced my fabric scraps somewhat.) Well, that was a fun project. Not as tiny a project as my DIL envisioned, but now we can have a whole houseful of superheros. As opposed to squirrels, as these capes certainly were for me.

But I wasn't done yet. I decided that A needed some fresh bibs for his stocking, so I kept sewing. The bigger bib is based on one similar to this one (I don't know where I got the original), but I modified the shape to fasten it on the side. The other style is this bandana bib. These are so much fun to make--kinda like eating potato chips. You can't stop at one. Just keep going until you run out of fabric.

They're reversible.
I had to put that baseball print on in honor of my husband's and son's favorite baseball player of all time getting voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last week. Go Harold Baines!

So there they are, not quilts, but layered sewing projects. I guess I did more sewing than I thought during the last few weeks (mostly the last couple of days). 

I may try to do a planning post (yes, me, planning--or maybe I should say "planning") as well as a year end wrap-up if I can in the next few days. We don't start hardcore celebrating until after Christmas, so there may be time. 

Meanwhile, here's my view from my chair: our Charlie Brown tree. Since we were out of town, we waited to get our tree until the 17th. There were only 5 left of the kind we like at the tree lot we go to. This was the best. And hey, when you get a tree that late, it's 50% off. (Not going to be a tradition, though.) Actually, the tree is okay. Lots of stiff branches and spaces for hanging ornaments. I just really get a kick out of those random poky branches sticking every which way. It looks a little bare under there. I'd better get wrapping.

Oh, and how about some comfort food? My daughter shared this Skinny Crockpot Loaded  Potato Soup link with me from The Chunky Chef. We added the optional carrots and celery as well as some leftover chicken. YUM YUM! (And good eats for a sewing day).
I'm linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, with Wendy at Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock Party, and if there is a DrEAMi party at Sandra's mmm! quilts at the end of the month (I'm not sure of the holiday schedule), I'll link up there, too, because there were definitely some squirrels this month.

I hope you are enjoying your holiday season this year. I'm going to try to be back in a more regular way next year. I have lots of pent-up quilting energy, so there may be more quilts to share. 

Together, let's enjoy the new year the way quilters always do, changing the world for the better, one quilt at a time.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

TBT: Commissioned Quilts

I can't believe it's been nearly a month and a half since I did any quilting. (I did manage to baste two quilts, but didn't even get a photo of that.) I kind of knew that might happen this year, but that's a long time for a quilter!! There have been a lot of family things going on,  and now that we are into December--during which I never do much quilting--I doubt much more will be done, at least for the next couple of weeks. I will content myself with looking back at some quilts from the past. (I haven't been totally idle from sewing. I did sew a Christmas stocking for my newest Grand last week and did some fun hand sewing of ornaments for the Grands' stockings.) 

Anyway, as I've been doing the last few months, I'm sharing another post about my tiny quilting career. For more posts about that (if you wish to review them) just click on "my tiny career" in the label list on the right side bar or at the bottom of this post. Most of these posts cover quilts I hand quilted for Becky Schaefer in the 1980s and 90s. She made the tops from antique fabrics and blocks and shipped them to me for the quilting. I thought I had shared all of them, but just as I was finishing my last TBT post, I came across just a few more. So I'll quickly show them and then get on to the quilts I meant to share for this post. I don't have any details recorded for these last quilts--just loose photos. So without further ado, here they are. Let's start with a pretty one for the holidays--a feathered star. I'm guessing that this one was 20-some inches square based on the size of those clothes pins. I never tired of quilting feathered circles. 

Here's the back--a bit wrinkled, but we jammed these into mailers for the least postage possible, so there you have it.

Next, this little group of Lone Star blocks. I think it's about the same size as the quilt above. So much to love here: the soft colors, the shirting in the background, the diagonal striped inner border. Again, feather circles, but also a feather heart in the center. What fun! 
And the back in all it's wrinkled glory. If I were to quilt these kinds of quilts today, I would definitely make the quilting more consistent in density over the surface. But at that time, it was important to keep costs down--so less quilting--and I avoided doing too much quilting in the fragile old printed fabrics.

I like this brown and cream quilt with just a hint of lavendar--not colors I'd use much today, but they are really striking. I like the pattern, too, and think it could fit well into a modern quilt. This quilt appears to be about the same size as the others.
The quilting does not show up much in these photos on the front or the back, but when I look closely, I see outlining in the white triangles, partial feather circles in the larger ones, and some outlining in the brown areas to create a square with points in the middles of each side. (Not quite sure how to describe that.)

Okay, one more of Becky's quilts. It's similar to others I showed a couple of months ago, but rectangular instead of square. I'm guessing it's about 20 by 24 inches. 

The quilting shows pretty well on the back.

So, as far as I can tell, that is the end of my documentation of the quilts I quilted for Becky. As I've said so many times, I loved this tiny career. But here's an unexpected bonus: my quilting for her led to quilting for others. Some of these projects came through Becky, who gave my name to people who needed to have a quilt finished. But others came through my confidence because of the work I was doing for Becky. I approached a quilt store owner and offered to finish tops for her clients. And word got around in my community, too, which led to commissions from others. So the remainder of this post is a collection of those quilts. I'm not sure "commissions" is the right word, but I'm not sure how else to describe them. 

Let's start with one I'm not crazy about. And truthfully, I never would have worn a vest like this even in the 1980's. But a local quilt store owner needed a sample for a pattern. When she asked me to make it and mentioned some trick for making ocean wave blocks I vaguely nodded as if I knew exactly what she was talking about. Eek. I had never done this before. I think I constructed the block and appliqued it on the background. I'm pretty sure the outer edge was on the bias, which might have been what the quilt shop owner was trying to help me avoid. The most fun was the crosshatch quilting. My eyes were better then, and quilting with black thread on black fabric was still doable. I made most of my own clothing in the 80's, so the vest construction was not a problem for me. I made this vest in November 1985. According to my notes, it took me 14 hours, and I used 31 yards of thread. I have no idea how we negotiated my fee. But I never made another clothing sample again. It was not my thing.
The back:

My next project--for the same quilt shop owner--was much more to my liking. In fact, it was exactly what I wanted to do. A scrap variation of Irish Chain. The top was dated January 1, 1940 and signed by the maker. As so often is the case with old tops, it was rather ripply so somewhat challenging to quilt. We knew this would be the case, but overall, it quilted out pretty well. The quilt is 38 by 55 inches. I quilted it with 82 1/3 yards of thread (paid by the yard). In addition, I was paid for the time it took to baste and mark it (4 hours, according to my records). I quilted stylized flowers in the solid squares, outlined the solid parts and quilted diagonal lines in the prints. I did not have to do the binding. (Yea!)

Here's the back--plain muslin. It looks stained here, but that is just poor quality lighting. At least it shows the quilting.

This next quilt was for a woman that went to my church. I think she had taken a sampler class and then put the top together for a twin bed. It measures 66 by 84. I think we discussed the quilting a bit, but she pretty much let me just do whatever. So I let the blocks tell me what they wanted and then surrounded them with scallops in the border. The quilt was constructed sometime around 1980. I quilted it in September/October 1987. My records indicate that there are 224 yards of quilting. It looks to me like the binding is actually a fold over from the back--pretty wide.

The shadows are terrible in this photo of the back, but it does show the quilting. I haven't looked at it for a long time and am noticing details I had forgotten about. I like those vines in the wide sashes. Do you see those tulips above the scallops? I guess those were a nod to the Dutch heritage of both the maker of the top and myself. Given the puffiness, I'm guessing the batting is polyester.

Here's another Irish Chain that I believe came in a roundabout way through Becky but was actually made by a woman who lived not far from me. The top was made by K in 1987, I quilted it in the summer of 1988. It is 74 by 92 inches. I used 314 1/3 yards of thread. the quilting is pretty straight-forward, quilted in a similar way to the Irish Chain quilt above, but with a cable design in the border. I think the binding was a fold over. I wonder if that was common back then. How about those little quilt holder helpers showing on the edge? Such cuties. (Well, I know you can't see much of them. I cropped them, but believe me, they are cute!)
 Here's the back--same green print as on the front.
 And a close-up.

This next quilt was a commission from a quilt shop owner in San Anselmo California--a referral arranged by Becky. I think it's my favorite of this batch--an antique Nosegay top, 61 1/2 by 82 inches. I finished it in March 1989 with 318 1/2 yards of thread. I also did the binding. Aren't those fabrics delicious? Even with the sketchy lighting.

Here's the back. I love how the quilting makes its own pattern

And a close up:

How about one more?

Okay, one more quilt--also a commission from the quilt store owner in San Anselmo. The top was made by a client in 1989. I quilted it in May of that year. It is 39 inches square. I used 202 yards of thread. I also bound it. I don't remember if it was marked for me, if I was given the stencils for the quilt motifs, or if I used my own.

Here's the back:

Oh, and then I have to show this last item even though it's not a quilt and I can't remember how it came to me. But it was a commission and a fun little diversion from quilting. Counted cross stitch! Before quilting, I had a long love affair with embroidery and cross stitch. So I just had to share this, because it is somehow related to those days when projects just came along through my tiny career, and I got paid for my pastime.

As much as I loved working on Becky's tiny quilts, I found these much, much larger quilts to be very satisfying. They gave me an opportunity to quilt more complex designs. I used a 15-inch lap hoop (I still use the same one) for quilting. At one point I bought a set of used rails because I thought I might like quilting on a larger frame, but I could not get used to it. I was so used to quilting toward myself and could not get the hang of going in other directions or twisting myself around on the large frame. (Also, it took up too much room that I really did not have in my living room.) It was a little scary at first to take someone else's lovingly done work and add my quilting to it. What if I messed it up?! But the joy of quilting soon took over. And I was very fortunate to get to work on such well-made tops, so they all (except that one antique quilt) came out flat and square.

I thought my TBT posts would be finished by the end of this year, but it looks like I have enough quilts left for a couple more in the new year. I hope you'll stick with me as I try to get these all documented. In the meantime, I need to get going on some new work. 

I'm linking up today with Andrée of Quilting and Learning, What a Combo for Throwback Thursday. She is subbing in for Sandra of mmm! quilts while Sandra takes a little break. Thanks, Andrée! And Sandra, I hope you are relaxing.

I wish you all a beautiful holiday season. I hope you get to do a little quilting or sewing at odd moments when you aren't celebrating or doing other things. My next project is a little soft book for a certain little grandbaby, and then I need to get going on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt finishes so that I can think about what to do for RSC in 2019!