Saturday, November 4, 2023

Quick Placemat

 According to what I've seen in social media, it's International Scrap Sorting Day. How about that? If you saw my post last month, you know that I sorted my multi-colored scraps and my solids a few weeks ago. Those are really the only scraps I needed to sort (well, we won't talk about the neutrals bin) since I used up most of my other scraps in the past year to make grocery bags, and the bins are about empty. So no sorting here. But, I did make another scrap placemat--this time from some fabric cut-offs from a couple of quilts I made a few years ago plus some newly sorted solids. 

The berry and flower prints are from a quilt project I did for a niece to expand a bed quilt from queen to king size by adding large borders. I liked the berry print so much that I bought more of it and used it as the backing for a quilt I made for my son and daughter-in-law. I'm glad to finally use up almost all of the leftovers in this little project. I added blue scraps from the freshly sorted solids bin to add some zing.

For the back I used more of the prints from the front along with peach and orange-red solid triangle and rectangle scraps from the bin. I finished it off with some blue leftover binding pieces and more of the orange-red.The batting is also scraps, four strips laid horizontally, I think. After some quick wavy quilting lines, I have another 14 by 18 inch placemat to add to my collection for Meals on Wheels. 

The secret quilt that I put on pause for the last couple of months is back on the fast track this week. I just have some long seams to sew, so I should have it finished well before Thanksgiving. It will be awhile before I can share it, though, so I might finish the year with more placemats. They seem like manageable projects for this time of year when I need to keep things neater and more picked up for holiday decorating and company. 

I'm linking up with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh Scrap on Sunday. 

I hope you had fun sorting (or at least playing in) your scraps today.

(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.) 

Saturday, October 7, 2023


I've been working on a sort-of-secret quilt in recent weeks--nothing I can share here--but I needed to pause it. (I'll explain later when it's done and gifted.) In the meantime, we took a wonderful vacation in northern Michigan on Lake Huron. Now that we are back, I'm still on pause with the quilt, so I sorted around to see what small project I could make, and realized that I had neither whittled down my multi-colored scraps nor made any placemats this year, a bit of a goal I had set at the beginning of the year.

So, the first thing was to sort the scraps. I wish I had taken a photo when I dumped them on the floor. I was too busy pawing through them. But here's where I ended up.

To give some perspective, this is one of those bins that fits in a cube storage organizer. I sorted the scraps by style of pattern and compatibility of colors and put them all into plastic bags. It was surprising to find that I had enough of some fabrics that they (like the fabric in the front) could have their own bag. Getting the scraps all sorted made me finally feel like I could do something with them instead of just sigh.

To get some inspiration for a placemat, I pulled out my collection of Bear Paw blocks that I made during the pandemic, and found a blue one that coordinated quite nicely with a bag of my blue/green and floral scraps. Then I pieced improv style around the block and added strips to make it wide enough.

As I worked, I enjoyed remembering the quilts those scraps came from and who they were for. For example, the striped blue and green print is from one of my grandson's baby quilt, and the large floral print was from a quilt for a friend of my daughter who was under treatment for cancer. The navy bits that look solid are actually three different almost-solid prints from various projects (not from the multi-colored scrap bin, but that's okay). 

I pieced the back with more scraps, seaming wherever necessary to make strips long enough. 

I also pieced scraps and navy prints for batting and binding. The quilting is a simple meander since there was already so much print going on. 

I was so pleased to use up almost every last bit of some of these fabrics that I dug right back into my bins to make another placemat.

I first chose a Bear Paw, but then realized that I wasn't finding as many compatible scraps for it, and since that was my main focus, I instead pulled a bag of scraps to see what I could do with it. 

By piecing together odd pieces (parallelograms) of the large floral print (plus a coordinating vine print), I was able to make four columns. I made three more columns from green prints. You might wonder why those greens were in the multi-colored print bin. They were actually parts of strip-pieced triangles or other multi-fabric scraps that had been cut off from blocks in old projects. I thought this was the front of the placemat. 

I continued piecing the floral to make more strips for the back. I did dip into some larger pieces that were not in the bin to make the peach and green stripes, but that was okay because I had used up almost all of the floral and green scraps. I pieced batting scraps and used another very old green print for the binding. When it was time to quilt, I decided that I liked that back better than the front of the placemat, and quilted wavy lines with my walking foot from that side. 

So, in just a few days, I had two placemats and a visible reduction in scraps. Now I just have to remember to keep pulling from that bin to make more placemats so that next spring I'll have a collection for the placemat drive for Meals on Wheels. 

The pink and green placement is 14 by 18 inches (about 15 by 19 before quilting and trimming). The blue and green placemat is about 13-1/2 by 17-1/2. (I forgot to oversize it to allow for quilting.) 

I can't end without a few photos of our trip. We had such a good time. I have always loved Lake Michigan, but I have become fond of Lake Huron along the northeast shore of Michigan because it is less developed and more accessible than Lake Michigan. We could walk or bike for miles.

A sign identifying it--you know, in case you missed it

40 Mile Point Lighthouse

This shipwreck was under some water when we were here a few years ago. The water level is much lower this year.

Ocqueoc Falls

It's so peaceful here--we visited three times this year.

Barn Quilt sighting at Knaebe's Orchard. (We spotted another one--a cardinal--in town. I forgot to get a photo.)
No sign needed.
There was a drawer full of art supplies in our cottage. I haven't painted for many years, but what a fun way to spend an evening.
Sunset on the Sunrise side of Michigan
I'm linking up with Cynthia at Quilting is more Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap on Sunday. 

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of autumn (or spring) as much as I am and that you have time for little quilt projects and for nature this month.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Positivity Blooms Finish

This QAL for Positivity Blooms has been so satisfying. It is a collaboration between Bernie at Needle and Foot and Preeti from Sew Preeti Quilts to encourage quilt donations, specifically to Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, California for the Palliative Care Unit, but also to other organizations of our choice. Bernie is our encourager, and Preeti is the designer of two patterns: Positivity Grows (vines/leaves) and Positivity Blooms (flowers with leaves). 

I knew immediately that I needed to make the Blooms version. I'm keeping my donation closer to home. It will go to the Mother and Baby program at Pine Hospital near Grand Rapids, Michigan, to give mothers their own quilty hug during therapeutic treatment for overcoming post-partum depression and other mental health challenges surrounding childbirth. My quilt is smaller than Preeti's pattern to better fit the needs of the program. 

To fit my style and the sizes of my fabric pieces, I made my quilt a little differently than instructed in Preeti's pattern. Instead of using strips, I pieced my leaves with no-tear-off paper foundations, rearranged some of the seams of the blooms, used long strips of cloth for the stems instead of piecing parts of the stems into individual blocks, and widened the borders to the same size as the sashings.

It took me a long time to choose the reds for the blooms. I wanted a bit of contrast but not a lot. 

I had a fat quarter of the orangish red on the left and found the three others at a local shop. 

They were so close to the same color, but I couldn't decide, so I bought all three and then spent way too much time picking the best one using grayscale before finally choosing the viney print for the darker red. 

I had one little unexpected challenge when cutting out the background fabric. I discovered a line of fading through about a half-inch from the fold. It had apparently been on display for awhile near a window with strong light in the store. I needed to cut around those areas so there are some extra seams in the sashings and borders. I knew they'd pretty much disappear into the quilting, but it did take a little longer to cut and piece them. Despite this, the quilt went together fast. I was stuck indoors for several days due to wildfire smoke alerts, so sewing was a good way to pass the time.

I went back to the store when it was time to figure out the backing because i couldn't get a fabric out of my head that I had originally wanted for the background. There hadn't been enough on the bolt for the background, but I knew that addition of another strip of fabric would make it work perfectly well for the back. And then the shop owner brought out a wideback for that extra strip. Oh, yes!. Well, of course they went together--they were from the same designer. 

For the quilting, I made some templates to add detail to the blooms and drew around them with my Chakoner. 

                   Hard to see the chalk lines here unless you enlarge the photo.

Then I quilted them with my walking foot. 

I also drew on some guidelines for veins in the leaves and free-motioned them. After quilting in the ditch along the stems, I free-motion meandered the background. I'm thrilled with the texture. What a difference it makes in that solid fabric.

I had considered quilting the words Bee Balm in fancy cursive in the upper right area of the quilt, but then decided that someone else might associate a different flower name with these blooms so I left them out. Quilting went super fast thanks to two rainy afternoons in a row.

Here's the back.

The binding was made with the leftover reds in the blooms plus the two other red fat quarters. It looks solid, but the subtle patterns do show up nicely in person.

I was so taken with this quilt pattern that I just might have to make one (or a variation) for myself. My living room wall could use a new quilt to replace one that has faded over the years. We'll see....

It turns out the finished quilt was challenge to photograph in the wild. My usual places didn't work well because if I draped it over something, the blooms were cut off. And when I photographed it from afar the color washed out. But I'll show you what I got anyway along with my usual driveway photos while I list the stats...

Cassie (I feel like Cassiopeia and I are on a nickname basis now since she's been my model several times) wasn't too sure about how I draped this.

Pattern Positivity Blooms by Preeti at Sew Preeti Quilts, with some re-sizing and my preferred techniques.

Fabrics Some random pieces and a fat quarter from my supply; the rest are likely from Lori Holt for Riley Blake.

Batting Fairfield 80/20

Thread Piecing: Superior Masterpiece in Granite. Top threads for quilting: Mettler 40/3 cotton quilting in a dark red (not sure of name/number), Mettler Silk Finish cotton in Burnt Olive, Coats and Clark Machine Quilting Cotton in Nugrey. Bobbin thread: Also Coats and Clark in Nugrey. Hand sewing on binding: J and P Coats Dual Duty Hand Quilting in red. 

(Sidenote: This is the first time I've ever used a different color in the bobbin from the top thread. I wasn't sure my machine would like quilting with two colors, but it did great. I wish I had done it before. I'm thinking particularly of a quilt I made earlier this year with a very dark front and light back. It would have looked so much better. Sigh.)

Binding Cut 2 1/2 inches and random scrap pieced. Folded and sewn to finish at 3/8 inch.

Quilt Size Pieced: 48 1/2 by 56 1/2 inches. 

                  Quilted: 47 1/4 by 55 inches.

                   Washed: approximately 45 by 53 inches.

Machines Singer Featherweight for piecing. Singer Treadle 115 for quilting and machine work on binding. 


Freshly laundered, dried and all crinkly on a perfectly sunny day:

I'll be sending this out soon. I'm linking up (on Sunday) with Bernie at Needle and Foot for the final link up for the Positivity QAL. Go check out the other quilts--and check out Preeti's quilts and instructions herehere and here. You just might decide that Positivity Blooms (or Positvity Grows) is in your future, too. Thanks to Bernie and Preeti for a great QAL. I'm also linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday and with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop.

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.) 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

More Positivity Blooms

 Another one-photo post, but there is progress on my Positivity Blooms quilt for the QAL with Bernie at Needle and Foot and Preeti at Sew Preeti Quilts.

Yup, the bathroom was the best place for a photo of the quilt top. Too breezy outside to take one of a flimsy. Disregard all those wrinkles. The light showed every one. At least the towel kind of coordinates. And really, the quilt fits in that space just right. 

I was able to finish this top really quickly thanks to still being indoors because of poor air quality from wildfires way up north. I didn't take any in-progress photos, but if you look closely, you'll see that--again--I didn't quite follow the instructions. I just drew the flowers from the pattern onto a piece of graph paper and made my own draft to reduce a few seam lines.

As you might recall from my last post, this Quilt Along is for a collection of quilts for the palliative care unit of Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, California. The pattern was designed by Preeti, and Bernie is doing the promotions and link ups. My quilt is a bit smaller than Preeti's and I will likely be donating it closer to home. You can read more about the QAL and the collection on either of their websites (posted below). There are two versions of the quilt, one with just vines/leaves and one with flowers. 

I am so appreciative of Bernie and Preeti for encouraging us to make these quilts and spending the time to design and promote them and for giving us a relaxed schedule to make them. My summer has been full of all sorts of activities that don't quite fit with quilting mess, so this has worked well for me. 

Most of my other-than-quilting activities have been fun. But one activity this past week was getting at some long-overdue dusting. I absolutely hate dusting. The dust just comes right back, so it seems like such a waste of time. But the other day, I noticed that the dust lying around had a brown tinge and smelled pretty funky. That must be from all the smoke in the air a few weeks ago. So I got to work and dusted/vacuumed EVERYTHING. I was so proud of myself. The house seemed lighter and brighter--and cleaner! Well, guess what's back as I'm writing this. Needless to say, the house is closed up tight. I do not want to have to do that massive chore again before guests arrive later this week. Hopefully the smoke won't be as thick this time or as long-lasting. Really, it is a smallish thing for me to complain about. I know that weather-related concerns (and climate-change effects) are much worse in other parts of the country right now, and my heart goes out to all who are affected. 

Here's where to check out the links to the QAL:
Mercyful Quilts tab and current link-up for quilt progress this week at Needle and Foot. 
Tab for the schedule of the QAL (You could easily still start this quilt), sponsors, instructions, and Preeti's design and quilts here and here.

I already have the back pieced and the binding made for my quilt. I'll share those when the quilt is finished. Now I have to figure out how to quilt it. I was first thinking of poppies when I chose the colors, but now I think the flowers look more like bee balm. I part of me wants to quilt Bee Balm in fancy script in the big background area above the shortest flower, but maybe it's better to let the recipient decide what the flowers look like. I have a couple weeks to figure it all out before I get back to my machine. 

Time to go link up for the party. I'll be back (I hope) with the finish on August 20. In the meantime, I'm toying with another QAL, although it might be a Quilt Alone Later rather than a Quilt ALong as I'm going to be very late starting. 

If you are sewing a Positivity Quilt, and even if you aren't, I hope your summer sewing has you smiling. 

(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.)


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Positivity Blooms

 Just one quick photo today. Here’s my progress on the QAL going on with Preeti at Sew Preeti Quilts and Bernie at Needle and Foot

If you know these women, you know they encourage us to make quilts to donate to special causes. This started as a collection for the Palliative Care Unit of Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, California, and for the last few years Preeti has designed a pattern and Bernie has done the promotion and link ups for the QAL. Quilters may also choose a different organization to donate to if they wish. You can read more about the QAL and collection on either of their websites. 

I’ve started my quilt just a bit late, but as we are having really bad air quality this week from wildfires in our neighbor to the north, I’m making good progress staying indoors and sewing. My quilt will be a bit smaller for a donation to an organization closer to home. I’ve also revised the sewing technique to suit my own style (foundation piecing) but I love the design. There is a choice of just leaves (Positivity Grows) or leaves and flowers (Positivity Blooms--the one I'm making) and even a bonus quilt if you make the quilt following Preeti's technique. 

My leaves are all done. Today I’ll make the stems and sew the blocks together. Maybe even the flowers—it’s that easy! In a later post during the QAL I’ll share how I made my blocks. Right now I need to get back to sewing. 

In the meantime, check out these links to learn more:

Merciful Quilts tab and the link-up for quilt progress this week at Needle and Foot.

The tab at Sew Preeti Quilts for the schedule of the QAL (it goes on most of the summer for nice, easy sewing), sponsors, and instructions, and Preeti's design and quilts here and here

Have fun sewing this week and I hope you can breathe easy!

(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, June 23, 2023

Rainbow Bear Paws

 This quilt has been a long time coming. 

It all started with a block I made during the Quilter's Color Quest workshop led by Rachel Hauser during the pandemic in 2020 (that seems SO long ago) following her Quilter's Field Guide to Color book. 

At the time I didn't have a clear plan for the block. It was supposed to be inspired by a personal story. (You can read about it here.) I knew I wanted to make more of this style block eventually. 

During 2022, I made lots more blocks following the colors of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela at SoScrappy. I chose yellow for the centers and each month paired the designated color with a variety of other colors from my rainbow solids bin. I bought some Kona cotton in white for the backgrounds. Then I discovered that I had actually made the original block with Kona Snow, so I had to do a little surgery to replace it. By the end of the year, I had enough blocks for a quilt and knew I wanted to use a black and white stripe in some way with more solid white to make a quilt. I already had a fun retro 60s/70s print for the backing that I had bought in February 2021 as an option for another Bear Paw quilt. I chose a 1/4 inch stripe to make sashing strips 1 1/4 inch wide. 

I put the blocks up on my design wall pretty randomly. I may have made a couple of changes after taking this photo, but it's about how the layout ended up. 

Then I cut about 24 sashing strips 6 1/2 inches by 1 3/4 inches (to finish at 6 by 1 1/4) and sprinkled them around here and there. A "rule" I set for myself was to not place any striped fabric at the outer edge because I wanted a white border with a striped binding. I ended up using 22 of the strips. I didn't want to go crazy with the stripes and detract from the blocks. This seemed like the right amount. 

To plan the rest of the sashings I drew the quilt blocks out on graph paper.

After making the drawing, I decided I wanted the outer sashings to be a little wider for the border. (I avoid long pieces for borders when I can. I prefer to incorporate them into the blocks.) I drew a rectangle around the interior blocks and then marked out the sashes for those: 6 1/2 by 1 3/4 inches (to finish at 6 by 1 1/4 inches) and 7 3/4 by 1 3/4 inches (to finish at 7 1/4 by 1 1/4 inches). I needed to resize some of the sashes on the edges making them extra long, extra wide or both. Some were cut 8 3/4 by 2 1/2 inches, some 8 3/4 by 1 3/4 inches, some 7 3/4 by 2 1/2 inches and some 6 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches. It sounds complicated but I just calculated them from my drawing and scribbled the sizes and how many I needed along the edge of the page. This is truly my kind of improv (hard to explain): precise in numbers but plan-as-I-go. Anyway, it all turned out well when I laid it out.

Then it was just a matter of making the blocks, each with two or three sashings around them and sewing all the blocks together. No borders needed.

One little tip I have about cutting the striped fabric: I made sure that my seam lines landed somewhere in the middle of the black stripe so that there was always black at the seam--even if only a smidge--to set it off from the white sashing.

I did a meander for the quilting. There was already so much going on both on the front and the back that it seemed easiest. Then the fun of the striped binding...

I love it against that retro back. 

And just like that it was done and ready for the garage.

I'm always amazed how a pattern appears on the backing from the repeat of a large print. I'm glad I took the time to pattern-match the seam because it would have bothered me if it was off in the photo--even though that would not be noticeable any other time. 

Close up.

Here's the block that started it all...

And my initials and date...

On the driveway...

But we really need some glamour shots. We took a walk to the gardens at our Veteran's park and were surprised at how fast the flowers have come out, even with the pretty awful drought we have going on. (We have some great flower volunteers to make this happen in our township.) So here are some pretties along with the Stats.

Pattern: My own spin on the Bear Paw block, with a little square in the paw made with partial seams, and sashes around it. 

Block size 6 inches finished, and varies in size with the attached 1 1/4 inch finished width of the sashes in the interior and a 2 1/4 inch finished width on the outer edges of the quilt. 

Fabrics Variety of solids (mostly Kona, but some others, including maybe a few solid backsides of some prints), Kona white (background), Stripes by Riley Blake, and retro print fabric from Joann.

Thread Piecing: Superior Masterpiece in Granite; Quilting: Coats and Clark Machine Quilting Cotton Thread in Nugrey; Handsewing on binding: Superior Treasure in Antique.

Quilt size 54 by 61 1/4 inches pieced; 53 1/2 by 60 1/2 quilted; 51 by 57 3/4 washed.

Machines Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for quilting and machine work on binding. 
This quilt will be donated, but I haven't decided where yet. 

I hope you've been tickled by a finish this month. I'm going with quick and easy this summer, so I'm not tied to my machine (unless I want to be). Having said that, it looks like I might be doing at least one (maybe two!) QALs. I'm starting behind on one, but I think it will be easy to catch up. Stay tuned.

(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.)