Friday, February 23, 2018

Into Thin Air

When Lori of Humble Quilts began the year with an invitation to join her in a sew-along to make Cheri Payne's "Sweet Land of Liberty" quilt I was excited but indecisive.  I didn't have the pattern and I wasn't sure I could find or create patterns for all the blocks.  (If you don't know this quilt, it's filled with applique.  You can see four versions of the quilt here, top left.)  So I hemmed and hawed and deliberated through January weighing the pros and cons of stitching this quilt.  Finally, toward the beginning of February, I began with the eagle, a pattern Cheri has in her Facebook group files.

paper pattern for Cheri Payne eagle

I finished appliqueing the eagle one day last week and then, because I had other obligations and knew I wouldn't be able to work on it for a week or so, I put it away.  (I didn't take a photo.)  Now I find (ha!) that it has vanished into thin air.  (Is vanishing into thin air the adult version of the dog ate my homework?)  Anyway, I've searched and searched and can't find it anywhere.  I'm taking that as a sign that I really shouldn't be making the quilt, especially considering how indecisive I was to begin with.  If the eagle turns up maybe I'll make it later.

What I have been working on are a few more blocks for the rubies/strawberries/cherries quilt in red and brown.

 
And more quarter cabin blocks.  With this batch finished I think I will have about 75.  I don't have a specific plan for these, just lots of strings to use.  I did consider a strippy quilt but I need to play before deciding.  

untrimmed quarter log cabin blocks

It seems this year is shaping up to be another one in which I focus on using up scraps.  I know I'll always have scraps but sometimes there are just too many and I feel the need to either use them or toss them.  It's too bad it's against my nature to toss.  Do you ever tire of your scraps -- same old fabrics over and over again -- and wish for new scraps?

This is one of the little boxes I carry projects when I'm riding in the car.  Sometimes I use a more enclosed container but I was just pinning today so this box worked well.


I've been working on preparations for our women's conference at church and haven't had much time to sew, or to even concentrate on the next ideas for quilts.  It will all be over by Saturday afternoon and then I can devote more time to quilting and family history.

I know most people are ready to be done with winter by the end of February but it seems like we've barely had a winter here in central Ohio -- a few little snows and a little ice.  I'm still hoping for one  good, deep snow.

I hope all is well in your world.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Confections for Valentine's Day

Would you care for a heart?  They are such confections!


Really almost too sweet.  The gritty kind of sweet you feel in your teeth after you've eaten an iced, heart-shaped sugar cookie or two.  But don't some of us occasionally over-indulge on Valentine's Day?

This little quilt is still in progress.  I started stitching the hearts in January when I had nothing to do.  I'm deciding on the outer border -- even or uneven.  The quilt to the edge of the first striped border measures 13¾" x 18¾".  Long and narrow.  I thought a wide border on the sides might even it out a bit but maybe it needs a border top and bottom and a slightly wider border on the sides.

Those little corner stones are all fussy cut, too.  They're only ½" square so no one can see them without a close examination of the quilt.  I guess they are for my pleasure, just knowing they're there.

Oh, the sweetness of this quilt.  I can hardly stand it!  Truly.  Had I realized in advance how red and pink and white and sweet it would look I might have made it differently.  But it will look festive on my front door -- next year on Valentine's Day 2019.

Please enjoy a heart while I head for my favorite Valentine's Day confection, chocolate. 

I hope you have a Happy Valentine's Day.

I'm linking  this post to
> WOW (WIPs on Wednesday) at Esther's Blog
> Let's Bee Social #216 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> Midweek Makers #111 at Quilt Fabrication

>
>

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Using Red Scraps

If someone had told me last week what I would be doing this week, I would have chuckled, maybe even scoffed to myself, and said, I doubt it.  And with an moment's thought would have said, Definitely not.  But here I am.

My red scraps want to be used.  Many of the scraps are 2" strips and I couldn't come up with a way to make economy or square-in-square blocks (except really small ones).  I decided to make double four-patch blocks using brown scraps as the background color.  (Please forgive the flash photos.  It's still grey in Ohio.) 

red and brown double four-patch quilt blocks

The block are cut at 2" and 3½".  I like them.  I like the brown background with the tumble of red squares.  But there was just something missing.

So I decided to make some smaller four-patch blocks.

red and brown double four-patch quilt blocks

The little guys are cut at 1¼" and finish at ¾".  Never in my life would I have thought I would be cutting and sewing such tiny pieces of fabric for a quilt.  But aren't they adorable?!  They're probably sweeter in real life, where you can actually see how tiny they are.

red and brown double four-patch quilt blocks

Here are both sizes mixed.  I'll need to make more -- lots more -- before choosing a layout.

red and brown double four-patch quilt blocks with triple four-patch layout

As I was pressing them they made me think of rubies on a string.

red and brown double four-patch quilt blocks with triple four-patch layout

I have three thoughts:
The next quilt I make needs to have more than two colors.
This will not be a quick quilt to make.  (I was hoping for quick and done.)
This quilt will not use up all the red scraps.  I'll have to make a second red scrap quilt, maybe a one-patch alternating with whites/naturals/creams.

a pile of red fabric scraps

Do you have a favorite scrap pattern if you're using just two colors?

I'm linking this post to
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
> To Do Tuesday at Stitch All Things 

--Nancy.
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Friday, February 2, 2018

An Assortment of Red Scraps, Pluses, and a Book

One of the hardest things about quilting for me is choosing a pattern and then beginning, especially when I have a selection of scraps I want to use up.  I have this group of red scraps.... Some are 1" to 2" wide strips, other pieces are larger. 


Some of these fabrics could be from the 1930s through 1950s, some are from the 1980s, and some are recently new.


There is such a range of reds, from almost orange to almost purple.  I'm trying to decide whether I can use them together in a quilt and, if so, what quilt pattern will "accept" them and create a unified quilt.  And which other color(s) to use with them.


Ideas for blocks for these scraps include
  • one patch with reds alternating with lights/naturals or golds or browns
  • nine-patch with any of those color combinations above
  • Square-in-a-Square block with reds in the centers and browns on the outside
  • double nine-patch in reds and browns with browns in the corners, or reds and creams with reds in the corners
  • double four-patch
  • housetop blocks with a center square and one border around it in reds and lights or reds and browns, alternating the center and outer colors from one block to another
  • snowballs in reds and another color

Will these fabrics actually work together in a scrap quilt?  They are from different eras and there are so many different tints and shades of red.  Some of these fabrics are already small pieces.  If I have several of the same print, I'm happy to sew them together to create a larger piece, but there is only one small piece of some of them. 

I have some thoughts on another quilt that I haven't yet started sewing.  At the beginning of last year my nearest local quilt shop offered a pattern and fabrics for these blocks if we returned every two weeks to get them.  I have all the fabrics but I haven't started on the blocks yet. 


I'm not a huge fan of orange and now that I have all the fabrics, it occurs to me that the oranges might look great with browns and/or blacks for an autumn quilt. 

Then, instead of orange crosses/pluses I could make yellow ones.  I have an over-abundance of yellow fabrics (mostly purchased in odd lighting that caused them to look light and creamy).  The light fabrics we received are much lighter than the ones shown in the photo above.  I think the blocks finish at 6" so the quilt is not large.

I've been so unmotivated the past week or two.  I'm happy to sit and hand quilt (building up callouses on my fingers) and do little more (except the essentials, of course).  I hope finally deciding on the reds will propel me into action.  Do you ever feel unmotivated?  I have a friend who says, "Doing is better than dreaming."  I need to quit dreaming and do.  Just do.

I have been reading Victoria The Queen:  An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird.  I think it is excellently written and is a joy to read.  I have ancestors who lived in England during the reign of Victoria which makes the book all the more interesting as I imagine what their lives might have been like.

I hope you're enjoying life!

--Nancy.
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Friday, January 26, 2018

Blue Stars

I finished sewing this top together last Saturday morning (hooray for a finish in a month!), just before my daughter arrived for a visit with her nearly-grown kittens.  They love to slide across the hardwood floor, scattering whatever's on it.  (I've learned the hard way to pick up quilt blocks from my design floor.)  We try to keep them corralled in other parts of the house but they sometimes escape.


I think this quilt looks calm, comforting, and warm.  I'm still struggling just a little with the symmetry.  I know if I put this quilt on a bed I will not be happy with the fact that the vertical center is a square with a star to its upper left and a star to its lower right.  On a bed, to my eye, a strip of stars should be in the center.

The fabric for the squares and sashing came from thrift shirts in neutrals and several pieces of fabric from my sewing days.  For the stars I used leftover blue fabrics from another quilt.  The binding will also be blue, from a thrift shirt, and I think it may be wider than the usual ¼".  

I'm happy with the stars but I realize now that they could have been bigger.  The squares finish at 7½" and the sashing finishes at 2".  With wider sashing, the stars would have been bigger and, therefore, stronger.  If I make another of these quilts sometime in the future I'll try cutting the sashing at 3".


The symmetry (or lack of it) must not bother me enough to add another strip of blocks on one side or the other because I pieced the back today. 


I had two pieces of wide fabric that I thought would work for the back, neither more than a yard and a quarter.  Then I pulled out a shirt in a similar blue I recently found at the thrift store.  I left the curves of the shirt bottom on the outside edge of the back.  No sense cutting it and then cutting it into even smaller pieces when trimming the quilt before binding it.

I hope to lay out the batting tonight so I can layer and baste tomorrow.  Finally I will have something to hand quilt!  And I'm super thrilled to have a finished top and a finished back all in one week!

I'm linking this post to  
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts 
> TGIFF at Musings of a Menopausal Melon
> finish it up Friday at crazy mom quilts 
> Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict 

Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy. 
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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hearts

After working on the tan quilt with blue stars -- wonderfully calm and serene, possibly even dull -- I'm ready for sewing with brights again. 


I cut out several small hearts and chose light backgrounds.  I'll stitch one or more of these today if I can manage time to stitch.


Light and bright inside is just what I need with today's greyest of days.  (Of course, these photos were taken with a flash.  What can you do when the midday light outside looks like dusk?)

Kathy asked us to post a photo of our hoop -- whatever kind we use.  This is my 14" wooden hoop, the only one I've ever used for quilting.  It's so comfortable and it's edges worn smooth.  When I broke it a few years ago I could bear the thought of breaking a new one so I fixed it.  Drill, string, a piece of another hoop, some adhesive tape, and it's as good as new (and probably stronger, too).


Happy Sabbath to you.

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Kathy.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Symmetry or Size?

The only sewing I've done on this quilt to date is sewing the star points onto the sashing.  I rarely cut all the blocks for a quilt at the same time but this quilt seemed to need it.


Whenever I make a quilt I often have this running discussion with myself about symmetry and size.  Do you want the pattern to be symmetrical or is the size of the quilt more important? 

The way this quilt is laid out, above, it is not symmetrical.  The first row of three stars shifts left, the second row shifts right, the third row, left, etc.  I have to decide whether I can live with the out-of-balance arrangement because the size, 69½" x 84½" (before quilting, washing, and drying), will be better:  a decent size for a twin bed or a nap.

Or is the symmetry more important?  Three stars in the first row, two in the second, three in the third, etc.  If so, I would remove the right and bottom rows and have a quilt top that measures 60" x 74" (before quilting, washing, and drying).  Not quite bed size and definitely not long enough for tall people who want to tuck the quilt under their feet for a good nap.  (Doesn't everyone tuck a quilt under and around their feet?)

To add to the decision about size, there's the consideration of how much shrinkage there will be after a quilt's been washed and dried.  In some quilts I've lost 6" in both directions!  That's a lot to lose.

Sizes of quilts has been of ongoing interest to me.  From several quilting books (both modern and vintage quilts) and my own quilts, I noted size ranges of finished quilts. 

chart of quilt size ranges collected from several quilting books

I often look at these sizes when deciding how big to make a quilt.  I find it hard to tell when unstitched pieces are laying on the floor.

I tell myself that when a quilt is on a bed, or wrapped around a person, or folded on a shelf, no one notices whether it's symmetrical.  It's only when a quilt is hung for show or photographed on a floor that we notice whether the pattern of a quilt is symmetrical.  I think this quilt stays as it is.  (Unless I decide it should be larger.)

What do you do?  If you can't have both, do you choose symmetry or size?

I'm linking this post to
> WOW at Esther's Blog
> Let's Bee Social #212 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> Midweek Makers 107 at Quilt Fabrication
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Friday, January 12, 2018

Nothing to Do

January came and I had nothing to do.
-- no basted and layered quilt to put in a hoop
-- no applique blocks ready to stitch
-- no pieced blocks cut for me to sew
-- no particular idea of the next quilt to begin
And too tired to make any big decisions.

Well, I had a small stack of blue scraps leftover from my Gwenny medallion.  Blue is one of my less-favorite colors but I do like this range of blues.  I don't know if they're soldier blues, Prussian blues, peacock blues, or go by another name, but they have just the least touch of green in the dye and I like them.


And I had a stack of what I thought were medium browns, the ones in the photo below plus a few others, mostly cut from shirts.  Perhaps my creative energies were mirroring the grey Ohio winter days (which I truly love -- so restful). 


I decided to put them together and see what would happen.  I often second guess myself about cutting into fabric.  What if I later realize I would like it for some other quilt?  But I made a quick decision to cut 8" squares and 2½" sashing and went to work with my rotary cutter.

This is what I've come up with so far.  Only the star points are sewn to the sashing. 


I chose uneven stars and I chose to set them on opposite corners of the squares rather than using a "Morning Star" setting where every corner has a star.  A star in every corner, especially with these uneven stars, can become crowded.


Some may think this a boring quilt.  I think my daughter used the words "calm" and "serene" to describe it.  It looks restful to me.  It may not become the most beautiful or exciting quilt I've ever made but I think it will be satisfactory.

Sometimes I get tired of jumbles of bright colors.  Sometimes my eyes want a rest, want to see the rhythm of two colors and a pattern repeated across a surface.  And I wanted to see if I could make a simple yet appealing quilt from these tans/browns and blues.  I think these colors and this layout work, but I may have another opinion by the time I finish the top.  I have more cutting and sewing to do to make it bigger.

In the meantime I'm trying out ideas for another applique quilt, considering how to make my Baskets of Plenty blocks play nicely to become a finished top, and searching for backing fabric for my Gwenny quilt.  Finding/choosing backing fabric or sewing pieces together to make a backing is often a challenge, particularly so for this quilt because I'm looking for "that blue" -- the range in the above quilt -- which is not currently a popular color, or some fabric that will agree with the front of the quilt.  And I don't have enough of any fabrics to sew together to make a back.  Sigh.  Until I can get backing for any quilt I don't have hand quilting to do, and this is the perfect time to hand quilt -- you know, cold weather, staying inside more than usual, etc.

But still, now I do have something to do!

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> ScrapHappy January at talltalesfromchiconia
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
> Moving It Forward Monday at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt 
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.

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