Saturday, June 29, 2019

Scraps and Squirrels

Through much of June, I hemmed and hawed about what to do about dark blue for Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC19). I have tons of dark blue in my stash, but I wasn't sure I wanted to use it. I had fallen for the candy colored blocks I had already made and thought dark blue might weigh them down. So I did what I always do when I can't make up my mind--avoided the decision. Instead, I went shopping for the background fabric for my butterfly blocks. As is my habit this year, I limited myself to one local shop (saves on time and gasoline, and makes sure I spread the quilty love around the local small businesses). I had a preconceived notion of what the background should be, but there wasn't any of that kind of fabric available that fit my notion (retro floral print). Well there was, but not the colors I needed. So I went with something I wouldn't have thought of: a simple white with random yellow-green dots. 
I busied myself with cutting out all the background I needed for my butterflies, and I even  marked the diagonals to make future piecing this year go faster. I added the backgrounds to the partial blocks I had already made. That was a real sense of accomplishment. 

Without realizing it, I was making a decision while I sewed. I would make blue crumb blocks, and I would make the bottom wings of blue butterflies (the top wings will wait for July, which is light blue).

So, on to the crumb blocks, again with low-ish contrast. They still need to be trimmed to size, but that will come later.

Here they are with some of the other blocks mixed it. Love 'em!
I really wanted to lay out all of the blocks so far, but I was doing this on my deck and it was a gazillion degrees with high humidity and a bajillion mosquitoes, so I only had time for these few blocks. I suffer for my art, but I do have my limits.

I was pumped up about the dark blues and was all ready to make butterfly bits, but then on Wednesday, I was scrolling through some linky parties and came across a post from Carole at From My Carolina Home. It was her annual request for cosmetic bags and sunglass cases for the Safelight Project. These are collected and then used in gift bags along with other personal care items to give to the residents at a shelter for those fleeing domestic violence. I made two bags last year (You can see them here, if you'd like), and recalled that they were easy and fun to make, even for someone who does not enjoy (or is particularly talented at) three-dimensional sewing projects. Well, Squirrel!! I knew immediately what I wanted to do. I had Wonderlust (Paula Naderstern for Benartex) fabric in my "For Donation Quilts" bin that I had won in a giveaway from Sandra (yes, DrEAMi Sandra) last year. I had used the print for one of last year's bags, but had an assortment of marbled solidish fabrics just waiting for the right project. I picked six colors, and because I can't leave a basic pattern alone, made bags with an inserted color strip. I quilted a few lines in each bag with Aurifil threads I won in another giveaway a few years ago (little spools just right for small projects) and in no time, I had two sets of bags for Safelight.

Oh, and here they are again with the linings showing.

Sorry about the wrinkled lining. These were folded close overnight. They look okay in person.
The fabric is so smooth and silky. I just want to pet it. I have bits left over, so I think another set of bags someday will be improv pieced.

So, back to the RSC scrap sewing. I did get those butterfly bits finished last night. 

Eventually there will be light blue upper wings to go with them. And brown bodies, too. Here they are with some of their friends. Only some. Mosquitoes, you know.

I love the little green dots dancing around them.

So my scraps and squirrels are done! (For now, anyway,)

I'm linking up with Sandra at mmm! quilts for DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it!). And with Angela at So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday. And (tomorrow) with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh Scrap! 

I hope you are having fun with your scraps and squirrels. (And if you have an urge for a fun, quick, caring project, do check out Carole's post to make a few bags for Safelight. There are also some other neat ways to help out)

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

Whoop Whoop Indeed!

Just before we left on vacation last week, a package arrived in the mail--my treat from  Sarah and the sponsors of the Hands2Help giveaway. It was a batch of sewing goodies from Clover. I just had to share this one. I immediately popped it into my take-along bag for vacation quilting. A Desk Needle Threader!
How did they know I needed this so much? I've had a really tough time threading needles in the last few years. I bought some of those little wire threaders--you know, the ones with the foil handle--but you have to be able to see the needle eye to use them, which is exactly my problem when trying to thread. I just sort of stab at the needle hoping the thread will go in, and I had to do that with the wire threader, too. Well, this little tool changed all of that! I can't tell you how much more quilting I got done because I wasn't spending all my time stabbing my thread in the general direction of the needle. So a big Whoop Whoop for Sarah and Clover! Thank you so much!

I did make some headway on my hand quilting project. It's been awhile since I shared this ongoing project because I usually only work on it when I'm away from home, but if you want to see more of it, you can click on the Hollyhocks label on the right sidebar or at the end of this post. Now that summer is here, I'll probably work on it more consistently because the lighting is perfect on our deck for hand quilting on summer evenings, and I do want to finish it.  

So that was my quilting for last week, but there is more to share. We vacationed in an adorable little apartment on the coast of Lake Michigan. In the closet were a few extra blankets in case we needed them. We didn't, but something caught my eye--a pretty floral patterned fabric with hand stitches. So of course, I had to snoop and pull it out for a closer look. 

Isn't that sweet? At first I thought it was pieced, but then I realized that those were neatly printed panels, with coordinated sashing and borders added. It was hand quilted with black and off-white threads "in the ditch" so that it truly looked pieced. The batting was thin, which made for a light, airy quilt. 

Isn't it adorable? After one last look, I folded it up and put it back in the closet for someone else to discover.
I later asked our host about the quilt. It was made by her mother, who had made a quilt for each of her (11) children. So sweet!

Our apartment also had a little pieced wall hanging of decorator fabrics and corduroy made by a friend of our hosts.There was just a little quilting on it around the border.
There was also a cute pillow and a crocheted afghan, so I guess you could say I felt quite at home there. 

But wait, there's more. One day, we visited a small town nearby, home of Ann Loveless, winner of Artprize in Grand Rapids in 2013 for her quilt of Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore (You can see my photos of that quilt, which hangs in the Visitor Center at Sleeping Bear, in this post). She and her husband Steve won Artprize again in 2015 with their multi-media project, Northern Awakenings. It's a 60 by 300 inch piece that morphs from photo to quilt across it's surface. It hangs in a restaurant near Steve's photo gallery. Very hard to photograph because of its size, but I gave it a try. It is breathtaking. This end is mostly photo:
This section is mostly quilt (tiny batik and landscape-y snippets of fabric):
 And a close-up:
And a shaky attempt at a panoramic photo. You just have to see this in person. 

The word to describe our vacation is BLISS. So I'll end with a few of my favorite photos of Pure Michigan:

The sweet doe that accompanied us every evening to watch the sunset.

Good night, Sun. Hello, Moon.
Oh, and a couple more because sewing related. This is the historical museum in the town we stayed in (it was not yet open for the season):

But here is what was in that second floor window (the cabinet is the same as mine, I think):
(And one more note--the stained glass insets in the window were made by our vacation host!)
Oh, and for the record, I saw three antique sewing machines in shops. One was not for sale but belonged to the family that owned a gift shop (I was able to date it for her). Two were Singer 99s. One had gorgeous decals. Both needed electrical work. I stayed strong and passed them up, but I hope someone else will give them the love they need.

So Whoop Whoop--for Sarah and H2H, for gadgets from Clover, for quilted discoveries, for lovely vacations, and always for Pure Michigan. I'm linking up today with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I have a Whoop Whoop. Of course!

Ok, back to "regular" life.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

TBT: A Tiny Wedding Present

It was June 1995. I had, by that time, ended my tiny quilting career (you can read about that if you click on "my tiny career" on the right sidebar) and returned to my career in the schools. I didn't even try to quilt during the school year, but did sew during vacations. That year, my oldest niece graduated from college, and within a few short weeks, got married. I really, really wanted to make a quilt for her and her new husband for a wedding present. But I was still mired in paperwork. (Oh, and we also were selling our house and packing to move.) What to do. I needed something I could make quickly.

So, after checking with her mother about color preferences (dark greens and reds), I made a very tiny quilt of the sort I had enjoyed making during my tiny career. Bad photo. I know. It's the best I can do. It looks grayish, but those are three shades of green. 

This quilt is a churn dash based on a pattern by Becky Schaefer in her book Working in Miniature. I'm not sure how big it is, but the quilts I quilted for her were about 9 1/2 inches by 12 1/2 inches. This one is probably slightly bigger because of multiple borders--around the blocks and around the central section. I did take time to draw my own hand quilting designs. I outline quilted in the churn dash blocks, and made stylized five-petal flowers in the plain squares and vines in the triangles and outer green borders. Looking at the photo of the back, I see that I used dark green thread for the border. Yikes! That couldn't have been fun. 

Here's what I remember about making this quilt: I managed to get the sleeve on before we left home (the wedding was about 3 1/2 hours away). I also had the foresight to attach the label, and I machine sewed the binding on the front. In addition, I prepped the gift box so I could just pop the quilt in when it was finished. On the way to the wedding, I hand sewed the binding to the back, finishing it shortly before we got to the wedding. I'm not sure if those photos were taken at a rest stop or in the parking lot at the park where the wedding was to take place. Oh my. 

And now for a few laughs. The photos above are cropped. Here's what was really going on. That dress. (You can't see much of the BIG lace trimmed collar and tie.) White tights. Chunky, clunky shoes. Little House on the Prairie, anyone? (And no, my blog name is not based on those books or the TV show.) Oh, and the temperature was close to 90 degrees. What was I thinking?!!
Let's see that again. Giggle, giggle, snort. Those shoes!
Here's an additional tidbit that I just realized: The couple who received this hastily-made quilt soon started a family. In fact, the quilts from my last Throwback Thursday post belong to their three kids.  

Okay, true confession. I was planning to write a more meaty post this month about some other quilts. But once again I am running off-schedule and had to hurry to get this written. I don't even have an excuse as I am long retired (and not moving my household) and should be able to get things done without hurrying at the last minute. At least this is timely as the couple are coming up on their 24th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks.

I'm linking up today with Andrée at Quilting and Learning--What a Combo for Throwback Thursday. (She shares this responsibility with Sandra at mmm! quilts, so thank you, Andrée!)  

I hope you have some oldies to share, too--and maybe some sartorial silliness we can all laugh at. I can only hope I'm not the only one who was (is?) fashion challenged.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Orange You Happy?

Knock-knock. Who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you happy we got to sew with orange during May? (Groan. I know but I couldn't resist. I have grandkids who are crazy about knock-knock jokes.)

I'm squeaking in during the last week again with my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks. But. I got them done. 

My crumb blocks were a bit of a challenge this month. I have quite a lot of orange in my stash--but many are pale peachy or browny rust. Since I want lowish contrast blocks, I left those out, which did not leave a lot to work with. There were a few brights (my favorite) and some reddish-orange. I sort of separated them and made three blocks of each color group. There were a few that fit into both categories, so those kind of held everything together. I'm not sure about the pearl bracelet fabrics grabbing attention, but oh well. They kind of echo the dots in the fabric I have for the sashing.

Here they are with their friends. (I chose not to include aqua for these blocks.)
Because I had sorted the colors out for the crumb blocks, making my butterfly blocks this month went faster--brights for the upper wings and red-orange for the lower ones.
And here they are with their friends. (Notice no red with these this year. Maybe later.)
I'm really ready to start looking for background fabric for these so I can finish the blocks. Otherwise there will be a whole lot more sewing at the end of the year. They'll look more uniform with the background triangles and bodies added in. 

Now that my planned Hands2Help quilts from the last few months are done and sent out, I may get my next RSC blocks made before the end of June, and then it will be time to find a new project. Well, maybe finish those butterflies. Hmm.

I'm linking up with Angela at So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

I hope you are having a fun weekend, scrappy or not.