Friday, February 05, 2021

Blogiversary and Catching Up


It's my Blogiversary today, marking 13 years that I've been doing this blogging thing.  I kind of slacked off/flaked out on it last year.  2020 was not my favorite year.  Was it anyone's??  I doubt it.  It seemed to be a year of nothing but bad news.  I'm glad it's over!  2021 seems more promising. *fingers crossed*

But on to more fun topics!  Quilts!

Let's see, what have I been working on?  

I've made more Urban Chicken blocks (link to pattern click here),but not enough for a whole quilt yet.  This is the latest photo I have, but I actually have more blocks made than this.  These blocks are fun to make.  I'm limiting myself to only using fat quarters for the blocks and I'm using up some random white-on-white fabrics for the backgrounds for the flying geese, that I call the "chicken beaks."  It's been slow going for some reason.  Other projects are calling me louder than these blocks are.

I was really in the mood for some Improv quilting.  This block, from Rayna Gillman's book "Create Your Own Improv Quilts" was my inspiration.  I was really in love with her cover quilt and wanted to make my own.    Above was my first four blocks.

I played with some other layouts, just for fun.

This is the finished top.  I apologize for the crappy lighting.  We have terrible light here in the Pacific Northwest during the winter, as the weather is usually dark and raining.  I promise I'll get a better picture when I can.

I don't know if you can tell, but I actually ended up using two different shades of the grey background, (which looks more tan in this photo).  I thought the two greys were the same fabric when they were on my cutting table.  I decided to just go with it.  More improv-y!   Hee hee!

This is a detail photo with a little better light so hopefully you can see the colors better.
I had a lot of fun making this little quilt.  I used all scraps for the solid colors.  And I had a lot of the black&white fabrics to choose from.  I really like the pop the b&w's give!

Last week both my husband and myself got cataract surgery, on both eyes. (different eyes on different days)  It was kind of a stressful week that we're both still recovering from.  It was a shock to see the difference on the day after the first surgery, when one eye had been fixed and the other hadn't yet had the surgery!  It was like comparing a regular incandescent light bulb with an LED light bulb!  With the "old" eye, the world looked like photos from the 1970's , all yellow and kind of sepia-toned.  The "new" eye had a very blue cast to it.  A week later, my eyes (and brain) are finally getting adjusted to the new look.  

This may make a big difference to my quilt making now, or at least how I pick out colors.  I'm not doing any fabric choosing for about another week, just in case!  This has been quite an experience. However, I'm really glad I had the surgery done.

I'll be back with more quilting adventures soon!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Playing with Projects and a Flimsy

Well, I finally have a "first finish"!  This quilt top is now a flimsy. This is the Rail Fence pattern from Sujata Shah's book "Cultural Fusion Quilts".

Rail Fence quilt
56 inches square
I started this quilt way back in April of 2016.   You can read about it here.  This project got put on the back burner a few times since 2016, but I finally decided it's time was now and got it put together.  The i-sew-lation is at least good for getting some projects done.  I am very happy to get it to this stage.

one block to show you the fabrics, but each block is different.
It took me quite a while to decide what fabric I wanted to use for this quilt.  I finally decided on the indigo prints (shweshew) from DaGama Fabrics in South Africa because I love indigo and I love blue & white quilts too. I collected these fabrics over a span of time (maybe 10 years?).  I bought a few of them at a time at Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara every year.  I lived about 10 miles from where the Festival is held, so it was a yearly trip with my friends. ( I sure miss going).  The fabrics were fun to collect and to use.

 I used both the 3 Cats and 3 Leopards lines for the indigos and I used 1800's reproduction prints for the whites.  Quite the cultural fusion, eh?  I think I used up most all of my Da Gama fabrics making this.  You can see the logo that is printed on the backs of the fabrics in the pictures below.  There is also some of the fabric print showing, so you can see how different it is.



This one is almost reversible!


I made sure I got these photos because there wasn't any other way to preserve the logo otherwise, since I had to cut the fabric.  And I think it's pretty cool.

in process on the "design floor"
This quilt was a little math challenge for me, as the DaGama fabrics are only 35 inches wide, not 42.  I had to do math and shrink the blocks to 14 inches instead of 16 inches.  But it worked out really well!

There is lots of ways to lay out these blocks, but I didn't even play with them.  I knew this was the layout that appealed to me for these colors.  Maybe another time I'd do a different layout.  I'm so happy to finally have this done!  Now I need to decide if I'm quilting it myself or sending it out to the LA quilter.

This is what 50 pounds of flour looks like!  We were never able to find any flour in the grocery stores, because of the pandemic panic buying and hoarding, so we ended up ordering the flour directly from King Arthur Flour.  My husband has made almost all of the bread we use for the last 2 years, as well as hot dog and hamburger buns, biscuits etc.  Finding yeast was another adventure.  But now we're set for a while! Yay!

I was in the mood for finishing some things after I cleaned up the quilt studio and found a bunch of half-done projects. So, this was some blocks from an exchange I was in.  These blocks are so pastel they don't fit color-wise with the other blocks, so I decided they needed to be a table runner.  The 3 blocks made it just the right size.  I can't tell you how long this was waiting to be put together.  Kinda silly, right? My working theory is that no project is done before it's time - it needs to age properly!  Like a fine wine.

12 inch Urban Chicken blocks

Rather then basting and quilting the baby quilts that I'm supposed to working on, I started working on another project that I had been stalling on.  As in, I had the pattern and some fabric pieces were cut.  But I was inspired when I saw someone's quilt they were working on, and decided no time like the present for working on this.  Maybe it's my quarantine quilt?

Anywho, these are Urban Chicken blocks.  I fell in love with this pattern when the Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild used this block for the Block of the Month one time.  Here is the pattern from Cath at Wombat Quilts.  It's a very easy block to make and fun for using up scraps.  Cath shows this quilt done in a couple of different color schemes here and here, and I like them both.  I haven't decided if I'm using a limited color scheme (blues, greens and maybe purple) or if I'm going to go with rainbow colors.  I think rainbow, as I've wanted to do a rainbow quilt for a few years now.  Anyway, these 12 inch blocks are a lot of fun to make.  The chicken "beaks" are done with a wonky improv process and are so easy to do.  So easy that mine aren't being quite as wonky as I'd like them to be!  I have decided that the blue block needed more contrast in it.  It reads all the same color.  Lesson learned, I hope!

When I was trying to photo the blocks, the Quilt Inspector (Shade) came to see if he approved them.

Here he's complaining at me that they're not snuggle-worthy yet.

I think he got over it!  Now he's just being a little grumpy. 

Here is what I call the Washington state flower, as there are millions and trillions of these around here.  Whole pastures just full of them!  

And I found, when I wandered around the yard, that my trilliums are blooming and starting to spread!   The deer don't come through our yard anymore due to a new house and fence in the neighborhood and I miss seeing them but the trillium are happy about that.  The deer were nibbling them down to nothing. Sadly, they're also not eating the ivy that wants to take over everything on one side of our yard. Oh well.  I had never seen trillium before we moved to the Pacific Northwest.

It's been almost 70 days that we've been staying home.  Well, I have. My husband and my son keep going to the store for necessities, and I'm so glad they're going.  They both say that those trips are pretty stressful, even though most everyone is being so careful to do the social distance thing.  I had to take my son to the dentist last week, but it wasn't bad.  They were doing emergency appointments only, so the waiting room was empty.  I had to go get a blood draw yesterday and it was also empty.  And I wear my mask all the time I'm out.  For Mother's Day we all went for a drive.  I was getting antsy and ready to see something else.  So we just drove around in the country and never stopped anywhere.  It was a nice trip, but it was surprising how many people were out at the river!  Because we were having our first heat wave of the year.  

Then DH and I had to go for a drive the other night.  The battery in my car pooped out (after sitting in the driveway for 2 months!) and after 2 days of not starting very well (but still sitting in the driveway), we went for another drive to get it charged up good.  So another nice diversion that was a no-contact trip.  It's helping me to not be too antsy.  I miss going to guild meetings and seeing my friends!  

How are you doing?  Are you going out?  Are you wearing a mask?  I was so glad for the mask yesterday because the cottonwood trees are now spewing their "cotton" everywhere and it really aggravates my allergies.  Having the mask on really helps with the allergies.  Who knew?

That's all the news for now.  I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!
Happy quilting!

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Staying Home and Staying Safe

We have been staying home for 57 days today.  The days are starting to blur together.  I have to look at my smart phone almost every day to find out the day of the week and the date!  And if I wasn't doing a kind-of-bullet journal I wouldn't remember how many days it's been since we started staying home.  I've only been out of the house once, to pick up our completed taxes, last month I think.  The Potter and The Kid have both been out numerous times, mostly for food and other supplies.  I haven't been missing going out too much.  I am an introvert, and frankly, I already have all of my toys right here at home. So, I decided I should quit reading the news and stressing out and worrying and start playing!  That's much better for my mental health!

But first I have to tell you a little story.  Before all the COVID-19 stuff started, I met my neighbor, I'll call her J., one day by the mailboxes.  She is a quilter and is also elderly.  She told me about how she had gotten a quilt back from the long armer but cannot do a binding on her quilt anymore, due to a bad shoulder and having had a stroke.  So I told her I would do the binding for her.  (It's still waiting at the moment)  So when I went in her house to retrieve the quilt, I saw this quilt hanging on the wall.  She gave permission for me to take some pictures and told me the story of the quilt. 

When J. was a little girl, her mother made this quilt for her.  Her mom passed away when J. was only 10, so this is especially dear to her.  I think this was made probably in the late 1930's to the 1940's.

This is a little yo-yo vest that J's mother made for J's little sister.  It looked like it would fit a child about 4 or 5.  Those yo-yos are about 1 1/2  or 2 inches across.  So sweet! 

the mess in my quilt studio
Before I could get started playing with my quilting, I decided I really couldn't deal with the disaster area that my studio had become any longer and started cleaning up the mess some.  I had started last year but got overwhelmed and then sick and quit after doing only part of the room.  Here is some of what I was dealing with.  I was still a little overwhelmed, but I just stuck to it.  It took me quite a few days but I finally ended up with some organization.

I compiled, combined, listed and labeled a lot of projects in these bins.  It's not perfect, as you can see it's partially blocking my armoire which is full of fat quarters.  And directly to the right is the closet where I keep my quilt book library. I've had my design wall there in front of the closet doors, but I couldn't get to the books, or even use the design wall because of all the mess in the floor in front of it.  Sigh.  So I took down the design wall temporarily.  I'm not ready to put it back up yet.

When I could get to the closet door on the left side of the closet, I found all kinds of things I haven't found in years.  And I found a big pile of new kitchen towels!  Score!  I have no idea when I bought those.  Most of those have been washed and put to work in the kitchen.  A few will get some decorative things added to them, eventually.  But I just closed the door on the rest and will deal with it at a later date.

I also got rid of quite a few things that I'm not interested in anymore.  So, progress.  But more work is still needed as I still have more messes to sort and organize.  I have the smallest bedroom in the house for my quilt studio, and it's a constant struggle to keep the "stuff" under control.

So the first thing I wanted to sew turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated.  I want to make a baby quilt for my hairdresser, who is about to have her 2nd baby.  And I happened to find some exchange blocks from an exchange with my friends in California from a few years ago.   And they were almost enough for a baby quilt!  I had originally envisioned a big quilt, but the baby quilt was a better idea as that saved me a bunch of time.  By laying this on the design (living room) floor,  I found I had only 3 blocks to make!  

Ta Da!  Making those extra 3 blocks was fun and easy.  This pattern is called "The Future's So Bright" from the Crazy Mom Quilts blog.  But it's so easy as it's just a block that I call a "belly button" plus double 4-patch blocks.  Everything is made with 4 1/2 inch and 2 1/2 inch squares and strips.  Now to get it basted and quilted.  How to quilt it is always a painful decision for me.  But the baby is almost due, so I've not got too much time to waffle on it.

masks cut out to sew

I made a dozen masks for some of the local nurses, using the pattern that they requested.  I would have liked to do more, but I found I was really struggling with not only the pattern but just with making the masks and I just couldn't do any more.

I have made some masks for me and my family.  The pattern I used and really liked was a tutorial from Beebe's.  It doesn't have the seam up the front and I think it fits better.  Just in case you want to make some masks!  I still have to make some extra masks for us, for when the first ones are in the laundry.  

Oh, and just a note here about masks.  The Kid has mentioned that he wears his mask when he's walking the dog and it's really helping him with the allergies!  Yay for that!

I also found some projects that have been neglected for awhile that I want to work on now.  It's time to get some things finished!  I really want to start a new quilt, but I'm trying to scratch that itch by working on some of my neglected projects.  But I will save something to tell you later.  

Mr. Bunny Long-Legs says to be sure to wear your mask and wash your hands!  We want you to stay safe and healthy!

Happy quilting til next time!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hunkered Down

As are most folks these days, my family and I are hunkered down, trying to "flatten the curve" and avoid catching the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  I haven't been out of the house since March 11th, so I am on Day 16 of self-isolation.  We are all of us in the "high risk" category, so we're being pretty careful.  The Kid and The Potter have both gone out, but only for essentials, like groceries, taking the mail to the post office drop box, walking the dog and that sort of thing.  And, except for last weekend when we had some beautiful weather, it's too cold and rainy to want to go out much anyway.  

Our lives now aren't really that different from before all this started.  We don't go out much at the best of times.  But I do miss going to the store and I really missed my quilt guild meetings!  The Potter had to cancel a class he was going to give, and a lot of his selling opportunities, like the Spring Fair, have been cancelled.  And of course, we all miss the occasional meal out.

We live about an hour from Seattle, out in the boonies, so we are a little more isolated than the folks in Seattle.  But there are many people who live out here and commute into the greater Seattle area for work.  So, we're not completely out of danger.  Really, I don't think there are many places left in the U.S. that aren't in danger, looking at the news and the maps of the outbreaks!  These are very scary times for all of us!

One would think that with all this time at home I would be in the quilt studio, just sewing away.  But no, that's not the case.  I've been obsessively looking at my smart phone and all the terrible news.  My anxiety has been so high that I can't seem to focus on much of anything else.  So I am working on NOT looking at the news so much (just once a day) since at this point there's nothing happening very quickly, and trying to do some other things.  

How are you doing?  How are you coping with the world being topsy-turvy?

I've been playing the piano, trying to reduce my anxiety.  It works some. It's also frustrating as I'm out of practice, but I know the cure for that!  I also have been messing around in the quilt studio, but not focusing on any one project.  I did get one project sewn into a top, but I can't show you that as it's a secret for now.  I need to make a baby quilt pretty soon and have decided on the pattern, but not the fabrics I need.  So that's probably what's up next.

Very Very Mary
70" x 95"
This is my quilt that I named Very Very Mary, as it's made of lots of Mary Engelbreit fabrics.  There's a story for this quilt, of course.  

before quilting
I started the quilt at a quilt retreat about 20 years ago.  I had a lot ME's fabrics that I loved, so I decided to make the quilt with the Yellow Brick Road pattern in a twin size.  Well, when I was finished putting it together (minus the borders), I was kind of horrified at how very busy it was!  I was so disappointed that it didn't come out like I had envisioned, that I put it away and forgot about it for about 20 years.  It might not have been that long except for the fact that we moved in that time and I "lost" some of my sewing projects for a few years. 

corner star detail
Then, last year when it was almost time for the quilt show and I had only finished one quilt, I thought that was kind of a poor showing on my part so I decided to take this top out and see if I could finish it in time for the show.  First I added the red inner border.  I was going to do a different, pieced outer border, but decided to keep it simple.  I think the dotted border calmed it down some, as well as coordinating with the Mary E look.  I also found a little 6 inch star that I had done, so I made one more and put them in opposite corners in the border for a little whimsy.

the back
Then it was time to make the back.  Well, I found tons of ME fabric that I still had.  Lots of panels for pillows etc.  So I thought I might as well use up what I could of that and made a busy, scrappy back.  I had the long-armer do an all-over simple pattern, as I thought any quilting just wouldn't show too much with all that pattern!  So, it's really a two-sided quilt!  And I still have too much fabric left!  

back detail
At the quilt show, it was hung so you could see both the front and the back.  It's still a very busy quilt, but it's done!

I've learned an important lesson with this quilt.  I don't really like the whole "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to quilts anymore.  It was fine when I started, and it still works for some scrappy quilts, but I'm happier now with some "breathing room" in my quilts.  If  I were to do this quilt again, I'd definitely do it differently!   Isn't it funny how our tastes change over time? 

Happy quilting and stay safe and healthy!

Edited to Add:
I don't know what happened to my photos.  I've returned them, but don't know if they're in the correct order. Sheesh, blogger!  What's up?

Friday, February 28, 2020

Better Late Than Never?

I've had the flu for most of the month of February and haven't felt well enough to do any sewing to speak of.  The flu has just sapped me of any energy or ambition, and I'm having a hard time getting back to normal.  I go into my quilt studio and just sit and look at everything I want to do or should be doing.  The Dr. said it takes 2 weeks to recover from 1 week of being sick.  So I should feel better in about 2 months.  I sure hope it's sooner!  There are quilts to sew!

So, since I have so little to share with you, I thought I would share my quilt photos from the retreat I went to last October. This is late, but I thought it would be fun to share the photos anyway.

I went down to the S. F. Bay Area in California, where I used to live, to see my quilting friends who have a retreat 2 times a year.   I went early and got to spend a couple of extra days with my bestie Kate.  We checked into the hotel and set up the sewing machines and iron.  We had a suite and it was such a pleasure, and a great place to sew!  We also ate out and had such good food!  I was starved for some real Chinese food and we ordered so much that we had it for lunches for a few days.  It was heavenly!

I wanted to make the Interlock Quilt by Amy Friend of  It takes a jelly roll, but I was making it for my son.  His favorite color is green, anywhere from olive to lime, and I have lots of green fabrics, so I cut my own jelly roll.  You can see Shade was helping me pick out some of the greens to use.

Cutting my own jelly roll ended up being harder than I thought it would!  After while, the rotary cutter was really hurting my wrist (that I sprained badly a few years ago).  Then I remembered that I have a Martelli cutter that is more ergonomic.  It really saved my wrist to use that! I've switched to using the Martelli cutter full-time now.

Anyway, I got all the blocks made at retreat, but saved them to do the layout at home.  I wanted my son to decide on the layout, since it will be his quilt.  This is where I'm at now:

So, it's all ready to sew together when I feel well enough to do it.  I hope to able to do it soon!

Kate decided that she wanted to make the same pattern.

She used a jelly roll of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  How striking is that blue background?!  It looks so different from my calm, quiet colors!

After we got those quilts sorted, we went to work on the Jelly Strip Stash Buster pattern, a free tutorial by Cluck Cluck Sew.  It uses 2 1/2 inch strips, or Jelly Roll leftovers.

I've got the blocks sewn together into a flimsy.  I don't have a photo of them put together, but you get the idea here.  I used strips from my 2 1/2 inch strip drawer.  The unifying element is that each block has a blue strip in it.  I stretched the boundaries of what is "blue" in some of these!  This will be a comfort/charity quilt.

This is a fun, very easy pattern!  You get two blocks for every two strips you use, so it goes pretty quickly.  I'd like to try it in some other color combinations too.

Kate also did this pattern and used a stripe in every one of her blocks.  Isn't this snazzy?  She was making this for her grandson's bunk bed.

This is Berta's quilt that she made while on a cruise.  I loved this pattern!  Sorry, I can't get the picture right side up.

Berta used extra blocks on the back of her quilt for a 2-sided quilt.  If you click on this photo to "biggify" it, you can see the quilting design.  I really like it!  It looks like rain drops in puddles to me.

Jeanne took the same cruise and this is her version of the quilt.  I love the yellow in with all those greys.

And this is the binding on Jeanne's quilt.  I love that little pop of yellow on the edge!  And she had some great low-volumes in there too.

This is a Jelly Roll Race quilt that just really makes me happy.  Love all those black and white prints and the red is such a great accent!

A sweet charity quilt that everyone contributed blocks to.

This quilt is a Nine Patch Swap, tutorial by Missouri Star Quilt Co.  Everyone made blocks for this charity quilt also.

I'm going to end with a couple of other quilts, but unfortunately I don't remember who made them.  They're so pretty that I want to include them, even if I can't give credit to the maker.

Redwork embroidered Santas.

I don't know the name of this pattern but its so pretty in those batiks.

I hope I'll get to feeling better very soon.  I have so many projects to work on.  First up are some baby quilts!

Happy Leap Day to everyone tomorrow!  And happy quilting!

Saturday, February 08, 2020

A Bag and A Blogiversary

Having the flu put a crimp in my blog plans!  But it's Day 8 now and I'm pretty sure I'm going to live after all.  So here we go.

I missed my blogiversary because of that darn flu.  It was on Wednesday and it's been 12 years! Hard to believe that I haven't run out of things to say yet!  Thanks for hanging in there with me!

My secret pal finally received her Christmas gift from me, so now I can share it with you!  This was through the Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild.  We have a gift exchange at least once a year and I try to participate when I can.  It's so fun!

first bag

Secret Pal requested zip pouches and also Zen Chic fabric is her favorite.  Perfect for me, as I love making zip pouches and I happen to have a good selection of Zen Chic fabric as she is one of my favorite fabric designers also!  I used some mini charms for the piecing on this bag.

I started these two bags while at my sister's house in December.  I got an emergency call from her for help, as she had slipped and fallen on her porch and broken her leg!  She lives about 3 hours away, so the first emergency was over.  But she was having trouble dealing with it all - she lives in a split level house.  So while I spent a week there helping her, I got these bags started.  I didn't use a particular pattern for them, just kind of a mash-up of two or three.  Then got them finished at home in time for guild meeting.  My sister is all healed up now and doing well.

inside of first bag
Secret Pal is a German lady, so I put the Zen Chic fabric that has German writing inside both bags.  I used the black-on-white version in the first bag.

inside of 2nd bag
And I used the white-on-white inside the other bag.  It's harder to see.

second bag
I used hexies on the outside of the second bag.  I used more of the Zen Chic mini charms for them and I used the tutorial by Modern Handcraft.  They were fun to do, and pretty easy.  The hardest part was getting them to stay in place on the bag while I stitched them down.  I started by just quilting over them but that wasn't going super well.  So I went back and stitched around the edges on all of the hexies.  I'm happy with the way they came out!

I even put more hexies on the back of the second bag!  And I included lots of dark chocolate for her to enjoy!

So, Secret Pal was very happy with her gift, which makes me very happy!

We've been having So. Much. Rain. this past week!  There are flooded rivers and places all over.  Not to mention landslides.  Everything is totally saturated.  And everyone is hoping the rain lets up soon.  It just hasn't given us a break!  It's been so dark and grey and depressing, and the rain has been coming down so hard.  I was perfectly happy to not set foot out of the house at all for the past week.  We finally got a few hours of a break this afternoon and now it's supposed to be dry for a few days.  No sun particularly, but at least not End Of The World amounts of rain.  I sure hope we can dry out some now!  

I hope to feel well enough to start sewing soon too!

Happy quilting!