Pieceful Monday

Hey! Thanks for stopping by! Why don’t you grab a cup of coffee or tea and let me tell you about my weekend. It was a good one; some time spent with friends, some sewing, some relaxing.

I had been looking forward to Friday for a few weeks. Two of my favorite people were coming to stitch some X blocks for The 70273 Project with me.  Ruth and her daughter, Emma, arrived around 10 am and we went right to work. Emma wanted to learn to do some stitching as well as commemorate some history, so these blocks were just the thing. She picked up the sewing so quickly, even making the quilter’s knot was easy peasy for her.

That beaming smile is so Emma! She is one of the sweetest people I know!

Her mom, Ruth, picked up the sewing quickly and made some too.

They made the trek all the way here (about an hour drive), so I wanted to give them a little something. And I was looking for an excuse to make two more zipper pouches. I made a little one this time for Ruth. I really think I need a little one. Perfect for a mini makeup bag for a purse!

It was a fun day, with sewing, chatting, a little lunch in Northfield and a teensy bit of shopping, and more sewing! Emma made four blocks, I made three, and Ruth two. We are hoping to do it again soon!

Saturday I spent most of the day in my quilt cave, working on the first block for the commissioned quilt. No pictures to show until the quilt is finished, but the blocks are really fun. Those little pieces and all that sewing on the bias made the first block a slow one. Now that I have the process down, I think it will be a little quicker on the next blocks. I have 30 of them to make in all.

I also needed to get Block 6 of the 182 Days of Winter Solstice Challenge done. Honestly, I had no idea what fabric to use with this block named Crosswalk. It had me stumped. I had two lovely pieces of fabric that I had received from Bernie of Needle and Foot when I participated in her Book Share last year. A few of us read The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, and when we sent the book off to the next reader, we tucked in some fat quarters that made us think of something in the book. Bernie sent me the blue and the green patterned fabrics. And suddenly, an idea for Block 6 came to mind.

This block makes me think of walking board walks in nature sanctuaries that are surrounded by water. The figured green fabric makes me think of water with lily pads, the solid greens make me think of the lush greenery in the nature preserve and the blue, of course, is the water surrounding it all. It is probably my favorite block now of the challenge.

However, my blocks 1-6 are definitely an eclectic mix. My tendency toward having all things match is a little at war with this gathering. I keep thinking I should remake some of the blocks so they all go together, but I won’t. It’s good for me to have to stretch a bit.

 

Blocks 1-6

A couple of years ago, my two kids gave me a petite orchid for Mother’s Day. It is finally blooming once again. This poor little plant has had some rough going in my care, so I didn’t know if it would survive. I gave it some TLC and it has rewarded me with 5 little buds, one has opened to a pretty little bloom.

Yesterday I nicked my thumb with a knife while making lunch. I was rushing because I was hangry. My daughter suggested I not be allowed around knives any longer (my third cut, not nearly as terrible as the first). At any rate, I decided not to quilt yesterday and wait until there was enough healing so that no blood would stain the fabric. Aren’t you glad I shared that with you?

So yesterday, Max and I did alot of this.

So today I am ready to get going on those quilt blocks!

Happy Monday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to talk with you!

Linking up today with Cooking Up Quilts and Em’s Scrapbag.

Wendy

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am really excited about today. I have friends coming to visit, and we are going to stitch, chat, and laugh. These two ladies, mother and daughter, are like bright rays of sunshine when I’m around them. They are two of the sweetest people I know. Friends. One of my favorite things (I know, I know — friends are not things, but you know what I mean)!

All the pieces are cut for the commission quilt. My plan is to spend the day working on it tomorrow. With all those little pieces, I expect some chain piecing will occur. So the timeliness of my next favorite thing couldn’t have been better.

Earlier this year, I decided to sign up for the Sew Sampler Box from the Fat Quarter Shop. As a kid, I thought grab bags were fun because I never knew what I would get. The Sew Sampler Box isn’t a grab bag, but it does come each month and I can’t wait to see what going to get. It’s possible that gift giving and receiving is a love language of mine – haha!

Anyway, back to chain piecing. One of the most tedious parts of chain piecing is cutting the string of blocks apart. The ladies at Sunflower Quilts have come up with this handy little tool. Imagine my surprise when I opened my Sew Sampler Box and found one waiting for me. Yippee!

Tucked in that little notch is a sharp blade. You take your string of chain piecing and just drop the threads between the pieces over the blade in this little wedge. It has a non-slip base so it stays put. I am really looking forward to using this tomorrow!

I am a somewhat organized creative, which means I have organized piles here and there. While I usually have a mental to do list, I have never used journals and/or planners with much success.  However, this year I want to use a planner to help me stay on task with my quilting projects, plan out my blogs, etc. So I purchased The Quilter’s Planner. While it’s still too early to say that this has revolutionized my life, I am enjoying using it. So this is another of my favorite things.

I ordered both the large planner and the mini. The mini tucks easily into a purse, so will be handy to take along to a store, etc. Both are so much more than just your usual planner, with pages for sketching out a quilt design, resources such as quilt sizes, etc., as well as quilt patterns. There is quite a bit packed into this planner.

(By the way, I’m just letting you know about these two items. I’m not an affiliate. Just an ordinary quilter who finds fun stuff to use.)

So there you have some of my favorite things. I’ll leave you with just one more. I hope you have time today and through the weekend to relax and enjoy your favorite things as you sip your coffee or tea.

When I want to treat myself, this is how I have my coffee. It is best enjoyed with a friend.

Hope your weekend is stitched together with love, joy and laughter!

Wendy

What I’ve Been Up To

I woke up this morning at 5:30. Those who know me well know that I generally don’t describe myself as a morning person. I am a night owl, definitely. I was thinking about that this morning, that right now I’m a night owl and an early bird. That combination often causes a mid-afternoon nap. Anyway, I’ve had two cups of really good coffee this morning, while looking at this lovely view.

We finally have some nice snow to cover all the drab brown and ice. I’m looking forward to a day of conversation with my sewing machine! Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m working on a quilt for a friend. I’ve been cutting all the pieces for this quilt over the last week or so. It amazes me that in this little basket (6″ x 6″) are almost all the pieces for the top of a quilt! This is probably the last you will see of this project until the quilt is done and in her hands.

There are over 1000 pieces in that little basket!

When working on a project like this, I can tend to get tunnel vision and work on nothing else. I get frustrated when I do that, because the work becomes mundane and I lose the joy of the process. So I’m learning to schedule time inbetween working on this project to play with something new. So here’s a peek at what I’ve been doing to take a break from cutting, especially when my lower back is tired.

I’m still working on X blocks for The 70273 Project. I currently have 17 blocks done. I’m all out of white fabric, so I’ll be replenishing that this week. I have friends coming on Friday to stitch some blocks with me. It should be a fun day!

I’m also keeping up with the Winter Solstice Challenge by Pat Sloan. She sends out a new block each Wednesday. Here is the block from 2 weeks ago, called Cobble Stone. I seem to be taking these names literally, since I looked for some scrap fabric that might look like cobblestones. This was a piece left over from a quilt backing. It’s not an easy fabric to blend, but it seems to work okay for me in this block.

And this is last week’s block, called Gramma Anna’s Basket. I used cotton fabric from Margo Krager’s line along with purple wool for the basket. I may add some embellishing at some point; the basket seems lonely . . .

I have now finished the blocks for two separate wool block quilt alongs. This is the last of the 9 blocks from the Little Woolen Sampler by Jenifer Gaston of Woolen Willow. I’m sorry to be done with this one; it was such fun to stitch these little blocks!

Last of all, this block is a work in progress. The original pattern, by Jan Patek, is a pillow. I’m not sure if I’ll go with a pillow or just make it a mini quilt. The top and right side of the block will have half-square triangles added to it. I’m also thinking I’ll add some of Sue Spargo’s fun stitches to the flower and heart, to add a little pizzazz and uniqueness.

Keep in mind that I haven’t done all these this week, I’m just not quite that productive! Sometimes I get so distracted I don’t feel like I make any progress at all. Little projects like these help me stay focused and provide a nice break from the slow work of cutting pieces.

I hope you enjoy a cozy day of stitches!

Wendy

 

 

A Week Well Finished

Well here we are, it’s Friday once again. Remember as a kid how the days seemed to linger on forever? Now it seems like I wake up Monday and when I go to bed it’s Friday. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Most of my week has been cutting the pieces for a quilt I’m making for a friend. The colors are really lovely, and the quilt will be fun to make. I’m hoping to finish, or at least get a good chunk of the remaining cutting done over the weekend so I can begin sewing next week.

In between the cutting — I need to take a break from that now and then, my back tells me — I have been sneaking some little projects in. I now have 5 Winter Solstice blocks done. They are truly an eclectic mix. I’m just making the blocks out of whatever turns my crank! Pictures coming in another post.

I’m still working on my blocks for The 70273 Project. These are such simple blocks and they are great to work on while watching a show. I think I have 14 made now. Next Friday I’m having a couple of friends down and we are going to stitch blocks for the day. It should be great fun!

One quick project I worked on this week was to make a knife holder for our steak knives. I don’t have a knife block, I don’t like all the clutter on the counter. (If you could see my counter, you would find that statement laugh-out-loud funny.) Anyway, I’ve kept the knives in a drawer, but wrapped them in a dishcloth because they are very sharp and I didn’t want anyone reaching in and cutting themselves.

Awhile ago, I ordered a pack of fabric for a quilt, and when the fabric came I realized it wasn’t what I had thought it would be. It is a mix of denims, some light, some heavy. Rather than return it, I just decided I’d keep it and see what I could create with it. I have some ideas, of course. One of them was to make a knife holder, so I finally go to it.

I decided to use a dark charcoal denim for the outer fabric and pulled a red/brownish homespun that I had in my stash for the lining.

I cut three pieces of fabric, 12.5″ x 14.5″, one from the backing fabric and two from the lining. I also cut one piece of very thin fusible fleece to the same measurement. Taking one lining piece, I folded it in half the long way, so it would now measure 6.25″ x 14.5″.  I also cut one strip 1″ x WOF for the tie.

I figured about 2.5″ for each knife pocket. That was actually a little wider than I needed in the end, but I decided to leave it as it gives a little room for the knives to shift. So that makes 10″ I’d need for the knife pockets. That left me with about 2.25″ on each end, so I marked that off, then marked each pocket off on the folded piece of lining. Once the marking was done, I sewed the pockets.

 

I used a light grey pencil to mark the lines. As long as I had good light, I could see them easily, but they don’t show up on the photo!

Once the pockets were sewn, I put the pocket piece atop the lining piece and tacked it on the left and right sides to keep it from slipping around as I finished the piece.

Then I ironed the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the lining piece. I probably could have skipped this step because of the stiffness of the denim, but I wanted a bit of cushioning for the knives.

Then I layered the lining piece on top of the backing piece, wrong sides together. I marked the pocket lines all the way to the top of the lining piece, then sewed through all layers on those marked lines, sewing over the pocket lines once again (for added strength).

Then I made the tie piece, folding and pressing the strip in half, then unfolding and folding to the fold mark on each side. I stitched that together.

It’s getting late at night; I’m determined to get this done!

Then I tacked the tie to the backing before I add the binding.

I rounded the upper corners of the piece before adding binding. In the end I wish I would have done so on the bottom corners too. The bulky fabric made the mitered corners a challenge.

I sewed the binding down by machine. And Voila — it was done!

It was a fun, quick project and it looks much nicer in my drawer.

So it’s been a good week with some fun projects in my quilt cave!

Happy Friday, all!

Wendy

Wednesday Work

With the ice storm we had earlier this week, I was happy to just tuck in and get some stitching done. My next project is a quilt for a friend, so I’ve been busy cutting, cutting, cutting. I’m about halfway done. Currently I’m working on 1-1/2″ squares. 960 of them! I’m over halfway done with those. Here’s a picture I snapped yesterday. Hard to believe that little basket of pieces will become a quilt!

Shelly over at Prairie Moon Quilts is starting another year of The 350 Blocks Project and I’ve decided to give it a try. Click on the link to learn more about this project. Why not join us? I think it will be a great way to stay motivated and encouraged as we quilt throughout the year.

Every Sunday morning as we enter our church, we are greeted by Dean. He is one of the kindest and happiest men I know. Last Sunday he gave me a gift that he made, just for me. I love it because it’s from him. I’ll leave you with the thought it expresses.

Quilting mends the soul.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wendy

 

Twirling Finale!

Happy Monday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by and seeing what I am up to. I enjoy reading and responding to your comments, so feel free to leave a comment or two.

A few posts ago, I wrote about putting the Twirl Me pattern together from Beth at Cooking Up Quilts. You can read my first post here. It is really a fun pattern to do and it’s paper pieced, so getting those precise points is a breeze.

That lovely 18″ block has been on my design wall for a few weeks now. I liked it there, smiling at me every time I looked up. Besides, if I used that excuse then I could delay trying to decide how to quilt it for a bit longer. However, I knew that since I posted a Part 1, there really should be a Part 2. I had to decide what to do.

I flip flopped between making a pillow or a mini quilt. I flip flopped between no quilting (if a pillow), hand quilting, or free motion quilting. I finally decided on hand quilting, because I figured I could do the least amount of damage that way.

It didn’t work. I didn’t like the look of the hand quilting and I didn’t have the right thread for the hand quilting.

That left me with free motion quilting. No big deal, right? I mean, this was just a sample block for fun. But I like the block and I didn’t want to wreck it. I’m working on getting over free motion fear, and I think I made some progress toward that this weekend.

I settled on making a pillow. I realized that since I was going to fuse some very thin batting to the top for a little stability before adding the pillow form, I could actually do some quilting without having to put my walking foot or free motion foot on.

So I opted for just doing some freehand lines, letting let the block tell me what to do. Have you ever done that? Or do you always plan your quilting? It actually was pretty relaxing. I’m not sure I would say this actually counts as free motion quilting, truly, but it was close enough for me to gather a little bit more confidence in moving toward more free motion practice.

As a little side note that filled me with all sorts of happiness, a little while ago I won a pack of 20 threads of my choice from Aurifil. I found thread to match all the colors in this pillow from that pack. I love it when stuff like that happens!

I started with the center, first following the shape of the green pinwheels. Then I decided to quilt some lines like rays on the blue. I just drew them in lightly with a pencil and went to town.

Here’s a close up.

Next came the brown patterned section. I decided to use the red hexi as my pattern for quilting.

It was kinda fun, like having a brain teaser while I was stitching. How can I stitch all around this red pattern without stopping? Some were easier than others, and I did have to do some backtracking.

Here’s what the back was looking like at that point. It was nice knowing I didn’t have to hide my knots!

The black and white borders were done just with straight line quilting running the length of the strips.

The red points were just a quick echo stitch around the inside. The white, brown and blue blocks around the points were echo stitched, for the most part.  I think I was getting tired after all the brain teasers in the red patterned phase, being blonde ‘n all . . .

Once the top was done, I quickly made the pillow back with another piece of black and white fabric from my stash.

Then it was time to tuck the pillow form in. Drum roll, please . . . here is the finished pillow!

I’m very happy with the way it turned out. I might just add a funky button in the center of the green pinwheel. We’ll see.

There are so many fun options with this pattern. Beth shows some different ideas on her post. If you like, why not give it a twirl!

Keep those stitches running!

Linking up today with Em’s Scrapbag and Cooking Up Quilts.

Wendy

 

Friday Frolic

Friday is here and once again I am late at getting this post done. One of my goals for this year is to work on getting more of my posts ready ahead of time rather than flying by the seat of my pants. So far, it’s not going too well, but there is some improvement. So, strapping on my inner Last Minute Lulu, here goes!

I actually started and finished a large quilt top this week. That hasn’t happened in awhile. Now, granted, the quilt was easy because I was working with pre-cuts. Sometimes it’s just good therapy to grab and sew, y’know?

I made this quilt while waiting to begin another project that will involve more intricate piecing. I couldn’t go to the quilt store until this past Wednesday, so I had to find something to do in the meantime. I mean, I have no other unfinished projects that I could’ve, well, finished. Ha!

In Wednesday’s post, I showed you the pre-cuts. I used fabric from Corey Yoder’s Sundrops line along with a Kona Solid in a creamy white. The Sundrops pre-cut pack had a pattern in it named Garden Gate. So armed with everything I needed, I got to it.

Yesterday I was finishing the quilt by putting in the sashing. Easy peasy, until I did this.

Been there, anyone? So I spent some time with Jack, the ripper. We had a long conversation . . . 59 inches of conversation. Not doing that again, I hope.

I was so excited to show you the finished quilt, but I needed to take some photos. So I slipped my hikers on (who needs to tie them – this was gonna be short and quick anyway), and headed out on to my patio. Did I mention it’s currently -2 degrees here this morning? It was a short and sweet photo session, so don’t judge too harshly. Long sleeved shirt, denim capris and hikers; probably should’ve rethought that fashion statement before going out. I don’t think anyone noticed . . . they were probably tucked in their warm houses, slurping coffee!

So anyway — here it is, right next to our Christmas tree which has migrated to the deck. I told you it was tradition, now you have proof.

Even my cat got a short burst of energy from my foray onto the deck. That chilly air wafting through the house had him zipping to and fro, which of course means he will be napping on my ironing board later when I need to use it. Did I tell you that he once singed his fur nestling too close to the iron? Silly cat.

Today I begin cutting into this lovely cache of fabric. This will become a quilt that has been requested by a friend. I hope she likes it. I can’t wait to get started!

Happy Friday, friends! Enjoy your weekend, may it be full of long running stitches (and no Jack)!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict. 

Wendy

 

Quick Quilting Wednesday

We finally have a winter wonderland look in our backyard. We had about 3 inches of snow yesterday, and a little more today. It makes everything look so much better, but really messes up the drive time for those heading to work. I’m happy to be here at home, where my commute is up and down the stairs.

I was inspired to take our Christmas tree down last night (we put it up later in December and leave it up a little longer in January, it’s tradition). The tree is sitting on our deck (also tradition) and has a lovely dusting of snow on its boughs. I enjoy watching the little birds flit in and out of it while I have my morning coffee and catch up on quilt blogs.

I am working on my first quilt of 2017. I thought I’d have the top done and ready to show you, but not quite. Last year, in one of my Sew Sampler boxes, I received a Jolly Bar (5″ x 10″ precuts) of Corey Yoder’s Sundrop fabric line. I had a charm pack of Kona Cotton Solids, so I combined the two precuts and decided to make the pattern that came with the Jolly Bar. No cutting, so easy to put together.

Pretty simple, just chain sew the pieces together. Look at all that cheery fabric as I stitch. I needed something with bright, happy fabric!

Here’s a little peek at one of the rows, patiently waiting for me to finish them into a quilt top. I should have this done by the end of the week.

I’ll be starting another quilt soon, one I’m making for a friend of mine. Today I plan to get the fabric for that, so it’s off to the quilt shop I go!

I shared this little quote on Instagram yesterday. Thought I’d share it with you today.

Linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts and Quilt Fabrication.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Wendy

The 70273 Project

My one-year anniversary of this blog passed a few days ago. It went by quietly, but I did reflect on it a bit.

As I do many things, I just kinda jumped into the blog thing. I had given it some thought, and my son kept telling me I should, and one night I just did. Armed with little knowledge of what I was doing, I just quit thinking about it and made it happen.

While I could go into reflections after a year of blogging, I’d rather talk about the joy I’ve had in meeting other quilters and friends in the blog world.

Let me introduce you to two. Somewhere along, I came across Lori East Quilts. Isn’t it funny how sometimes you try to remember how you met someone and you can’t, because you feel like you’ve known her forever? Lori makes me laugh out loud at times when I read her posts, or makes me realize that she and I have more things in common than I would have guessed, or she teaches me new ways of thinking on things. She is a creative, fun soul who loves the color red. What’s not to like?

Through Lori, I have met Jeanne Hewell-Chambers, and I’d like to share with you the project that she has undertaken and what I’m doing to help (and you can too). While I’m just getting to know Jeanne, I have been following her blog this past year and find her to be a warm and cheerful lady who obviously loves a challenge!

The 70273 Project. Jeanne was starting a new year, and had some goals for the year in mind. Little did she know what was about to commence. While watching a multi-series documentary with her family, and her “sister-in-love” Nancy, her goal for the next couple of years was changed within minutes.

70,273 people murdered. A quilt project to commemorate. White fabric signifying innocent victims; red fabric, the death sentence. I could explain further, but Jeanne does it so much better. You can read a brief overview here, or click on the link above for more of the story. Better yet, go spend some time on Jeanne’s site and her links to the history behind this project. Learn how you, too, can be involved.

I’m participating by making some blocks. They are simply done and take so little time to do. You don’t even have to know how to sew. Blocks can be made with paint, fabric markers, ribbon. Jeanne has a few specifications for making these, but they are easy to follow.

If you’re interested in joining me, you can find more information on Jeanne’s fact sheet here. If you’d like a good tutorial on making the blocks, Lori East has done a blog post on that here.

Local friends, if you’d like me to meet with your group and present this project, let me know.

This is a great project if your kids are studying this time in history — keep in mind that you could combine a history lesson, with a sewing lesson, or a painting lesson, etc. Even your littles could make a block with your guidance.

This is a great project for a youth group, or a family group project at your church.

This is a great project for a family reunion, or some other type of gathering.

This is a great project. Period.

70,273 precious people put to death. Life is precious. People are precious. Our differences add to the uniqueness and beautiful fabric of our lives. I’m doing this to commemorate them. Why don’t you join me?

Wendy

Twirling, Part One

I mentioned in my last post that I had time to do some fun projects while waiting for Christmas. It was a nice, pieceful (see what I did there?) time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

While we were in Palm Springs recently, BigJ took me to a quilt shop (love the man) and, of course, I picked up some fat quarters (and a few other things that would fit in my suitcase). They were an impulse buy and not really in my usual color choice range, but I seem to be expanding my stash to brighter, bolder colors. This is one of them. (My son calls it the bacteria fabric – ha!) I like the funky colors and design and thought I could draw some other fun colors in with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the fabric line or designer so I can’t share that with you.

A piece of what’s left over, but you get the idea.

I wanted to do the Twirl Me pattern designed by Beth from Cooking Up Quilts. It’s a paper-pieced design, which I enjoy sewing now and then. It was so much fun. The pattern finishes large enough to make a mini from one block (it measures 18″ square), but combining multiple blocks would create a very fun secondary pattern too.

It always takes me a little bit to get back into the rhythm of paper piecing. Which means I usually have to do a bit of ripping at first. Once I get rolling, though, the process goes quickly. I enjoy how well the points come out, and I get so much satisfaction from tearing the paper away when the blocks are done. It just feels like I’ve accomplished so much with that little pile of paper on my table.

The blocks above are right after I’m done sewing them, waiting to be trimmed, with the paper still on the back.

These items really speed my paper piecing along . A small cutting mat, a small rotary cutter, a small ruler and these tweezers. I can sew and piece most of the block while sitting right at my machine. The tweezers really make picking out the little pieces of paper so much easier. (Notice my seam ripper didn’t make the cut!)

Beth’s instructions are so well done. They are clear and easy to understand, and her foundation pieces are easy to follow. Beth is a delightful person, and she’s quick to reply if you find you have a question (even in the middle of a crazy busy Christmas season).

Here’s the top, all sewn together. It’s very bold and bright, but it was very fun to make. I was a little surprised at how much the green fabric took center stage, actually subduing the red fabric more than I anticipated. I just thought it would help tone down the craziness of the red fabric and pick up the green in the fabric. Note: The colors in the photo are nearly as bright as the real thing.

It’s hanging on my design wall, because every time I look at it, I smile. If I could change anything, it would be the blue/brown combo at the corners, maybe opting for a softer brown and maybe replace the blue with the green fabric. The next time I make this pattern, however, I’ll use some quieter colors and give the block a whole different look.

It’s also hanging on my design wall as a reminder to finish it!

I plan to add a thin layer of batting to the top and do some quilting (keep your fingers crossed that it turns out okay). This is going to be a pillow (I think? If not, a mini), so I hope to get a pillow form soon and get this finished. I’ll show you the finished pillow in another post.

Like the pattern? Pop on over to Cooking Up Quilts and give it a twirl!

Happy Stitching,

Wendy