Friday, January 29, 2021


Happy new year of projects. I'm not really sure where I'm going, but I am pressing on. I'm starting with some small projects, one of which will continue little by little all year.

I did not participate in Angela's Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) at So Scrappy last year, choosing instead to focus on the Rachel's Quilter's Color Quest. This year, I'm going to sorta, kinda participate in RSC. I plan to make a Year of Scrappy Triangles, a tutorial by Leila Gardunia from 2017. These are 6-inch (finished) foundation paper pieced patterns, one block each week for 52 weeks. Here are my blocks for January (not trimmed down all the way):

The RSC color for this month is pink. Now, you can see that many of my scraps in these blocks are not pink. But look closer. Every patch has pink in it. My plan is to try to use up some of my multi-colored fabric scraps from my overflowing bin. The bin holds not only single scraps but some cut-off bits of blocks with more than one fabric. That's the bin on the upper left. The plastic punch bowl has a subgroup of those scraps that have pink in them. 

My "rules" for these blocks is to use as many multi-colored scraps as I can to make my blocks and then fill in with other scraps and pieces from my stash (which really could also be called scraps as most of the fabrics are much less than a quarter yard). For these pinkish blocks, I managed to use a different fabric for each patch. (That might not be possible every month.) I don't know yet what I will do for the other half of each block. I think I need to see how these go for the next few months before I decide. I'm also not sure how closely I'll follow the color for each month. I'm going to be flexible--maybe some months I'll check out the Monthly Color Challenge at Patterns by Jen and throw that color in as well or instead of.

But wait. There's more. I'm really, really tired of my old stash, so to perk myself up, I'm going to treat myself to some brand new fabrics in the color of the month, building a collection of some fun modern prints as well as some colorful low volumes, all quarter-yard cuts (unless I see something that I simply must have more of). This month I found these fat quarters at Lark Cottons:

I'm tempted to use them in my scrappy triangles, but I think I'll stick to the fabrics I already had on hand for those. Just going to pet those new ones for a bit.

This month, I also made a bunch of Bear Paw blocks in two-value combinations, and pieced a top from them and others I made last year for the Quilter's Color Quest. (Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of all the new blocks.) I added in some low volume strips to bring the blocks from 6 inches to 8 inches, and then joined 48 blocks to make a quilt top. Here are a couple pink blocks from that project.

That quilt is basted, and I started quilting it this week. I got slowed down by a pesky stitch-skipping problem. After a lot of trouble-shooting, I finally put in a denim needle, and it worked, although it sure does make a racket munching into the fabric. I'll share more about the quilt when it's finished. 

I'm linking up this week with Angela at So Scrappy for Scrap Happy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is more Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap on Sunday.

I'm looking forward to digging in the scraps again next month and checking out some modern new fabrics in the next color. I'm wondering, do you find you need something to perk yourself up this year? If so, what works for you?

(Just a reminder: 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, January 8, 2021

Happy Wholecloth Flowers

Hello, 2021. Can you believe some quilters have new finishes to share already this year? That's amazing. I have a finish to share, but it's really the last finish of last year. I shared one photo of it in my 2020 wrap-up post, but didn't have time to get a post together for it, so here it is again.

Looks wonky; just the breeze
During November I had the thought that I might be able to eek out just one more quilt. I had a two-yard length of fabric I had bought as a souvenir at a Ben Franklin store on vacation in October 2017. I love Ben Franklin (think five and dime store, variety store...much cooler than a dollar store), but they are few and far between in my state now, so shopping there for fabric was high on my list of vacation activities.

I knew immediately how I wanted to quilt this fabric, but it took me this long to get to the quilt. I wanted to make it just a bit wider than the fabric, and when searching around in my bins, I discovered that I had a bunch of solids that were in the same color families as the fabric. And I don't even have that much solid fabric. There must be a connection between those pieces and this print. Are these "my" colors?
I used newsprint (packing) paper to foundation piece 1-inch (finished) piano keys for the borders. I didn't feel like planning corners so I just attached the strips and used a partial seam to finish it all off. 

I am still not real comfortable going into a retail store, but I did not have fabrics on hand that might work for a quick, easy backing. The next best thing was to search online for fabric immediately available for curbside pickup at Joann. My first choice would have been a local independent store, but they don't have a big online presence at this time. (I hope that might improve in the future, but I know that's hard for small stores.) You can not imagine how long it took me to look at (agonize over) every bit of fabric, squinting at or enlarging to try to determine how the colors and prints might look in real life. I fancied a small print multicolored floral, but of course, that was just a fantasy given what was available. I finally settled on a mottled yellow print.
It was described as a floral print, although I couldn't see that on my screen, and the colors sort of vibrated between yellow and orange. I took a leap of faith that that might translate to a goldish, cheddary (not lemon!) yellow. I was thrilled when the fabric was just as I envisioned it when I picked it up. The flowers just show up as texture, but it works well with the front of the quilt.
I knew that I would be tempted to over-quilt this, but I wanted to keep it a soft and not too lengthy project. All of the quilting is following the shapes. I tried to follow as close as I could, but did not obsess about it, so there are lots of wobbles--enough to keep it playful. 
I started with the shapes of the biggest flowers, then the tan leaves, and finally the interiors of the biggest flowers and some of the ladybugs. I was tempted to outline some of the small flowers, but wasn't sure how to keep myself from doing all of them, so I stopped. My freemotion quilting is a little rusty. I don't do it as much as walking foot quilting these days, and my stitches were a bit tiny, but the machine has a great stitch (tension is just perfect), so it still looks good.

I puzzled over the border a bit. I get bored quilting in the ditch, so I did not want to do that. I thought of a vine with leaves, but wanted it to be even simpler. Then I remembered that I had some very old cardstock stencils from back in my hand-quilting-only days. The biggest one just happened to be the width of the border.
I used to carefully measure and plan these kinds of borders to go around corners with symmetry, but not this time. Following the borders in the same style as they were attached was easier and had a more modern vibe. 
I used my hera marker for the lines, which worked well on the solids. And the soft December light by my window was just right to see the lines as I quilted with my walking foot. I left the last bit of border clear for my initials and the date.
(before washing, the washout marker shows)

When planning the size of the quilt, I made sure to allow enough fabric for the binding. I love pieced scrap bindings, but again, in the interest of a quickish finish, a single fabric was preferable, and the big print achieves the same purpose of varied colors. 

I took my time with the piecing and quilting, but it could have been a very quick project. I know that I will keep my eye open for other very large print fabrics to do this again because it was really fun. Minimal piecing, minimal marking, loosey goosey quilting, easy backing, along with a fun print--who doesn't love that?! (The only thing I might have done differently was center the main fabric vertically so those big bottom flowers weren't cut off in an awkward spot.)This quilt is going to be set aside with another similar-sized quilt until I have one more, and then I'll ship them off as a donation. 

Here's a gallery of photos after washing. I tried and tried to get good photos in the sun, but our weather has been fickle. The sun would peep out, I'd run out and get set up and then it snuck back behind the clouds. But I did get a few.

Where's the sun?

I did find some sunshine for a few seconds through the living room window.

Here are the stats for this one: 
Pattern: Wholecloth with piano key border
Fabrics:  Free Mind by Hoodie Crescent for Newcastle Fabrics; various solids, mostly Kona, but some others, too; probably a perennially-available Keepsake Calico fabric from Joann
Batting: Hobbs Premium 80/20
Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut in White Linen for quilting; Yellow, hefty hand quilting thread from my drawer (the label is gone, but it's got a nice glace finish)
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back. 
Size: 48 1/2 by 60 1/2 inches before quilting; 47 3/4 by 59 3/8 inches after quilting; 44 by 55 3/4 inches after washing on cold and machine drying on low.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for free motion and walking foot quilting and the machine work on the binding.
So that's a final wrap on 2020. After the week we just had in my country, I truly wonder what awaits us in 2021. Quilting will continue to be needed as a balm, I think. I gave my two machines a spa treatment this week while I was between projects. Then I started a new project, a Year of Scrappy Triangles, 52 patterns by Leila Gardunia. I think (hope) I can handle one block a week. That's all I'm going to say about it right now. I'll tell you about my "rules" for these blocks after I have a few made.  

Have a safe, healthy new year, and keep quilting!

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