Thursday, November 15, 2018

One Little Step At a Time

Back to work on the pineapple blocks. It's been almost a year since they were set aside, but you have to know they were never forgotten. I've played with all kinds of layout ideas and background colors since, dragging them out for a brief consultation and then putting them away in frustration once again.
The Pineapple Quilt
Finally, this fall, I settled into the idea of vertical rows {how boring!} in a background of a light, almost coral pink fabric. All the various yellow and gold fabrics used were bound and determined to squabble, and nothing seemed to bring peace but that particular pink. I didn't have quite enough yardage, but found a couple small pieces of other prints that blended well enough that most people will never notice the difference.

Then came the decisions for the connecting strips that I had determined were necessary. Blue was my first choice, but no....., it had to be yellow. Oh, but what color yellow? And round and round we went. Eventually I took a very muted gold striped fabric and paired it with a bright, spunky yellow in an effort to create balance throughout the quilt. Too much yellow? There is a green-blue fabric lurking in my stash that might, possibly, fingers crossed!, pull everything together as the next border.
Prep work
In my minds eye, the quilt needed connecting strips filled with busy applique work. Try as I might though, in all my rough drawings, nothing would satisfy. So here we be, at the last phase of stitching down some very simple stacked {but slightly wonky} diamond shaped pieces of color. When those 6 diamonds are stitched down, then I will sew the connecting strips on and move on to the question of how to finish off the quilt. At this point it is still just a few inches longer than than it is wide. That helps as I often struggle more with square quilts.
Just needs a little more stitching
As the applique work has stacked up around here, I've tried to be diligent about finishing one set of applique pieces before moving on to the next in line. These are all of the 12 Dried Flower blocks now, 72 leaves later! Funny how it looks so easy, but the time it takes... Wowsers. Sometimes I think I must be the dreamiest dreamer of all. Oh, it's only a few leaves and how cute will that be?
All the flowers on the wall
But it's always worthwhile as anyone who loves applique detail will attest to. Now I'm starting to get a bit of anxiety about how to put these odd shaped {8"x20"} blocks together without totally ruining the look that I 'see' in my head. I know that it often looks ridiculously easy around here, but yeah, about that... Behind the scenes there are definitely moments. Aghhh!!! What was I thinking!!

You know exactly what I'm talking about, because it has to happen to others. Occasionally I have even caught some of you slipping up and admitting to being human as well--creativity button malfunctioning for the day/week and all that. And thank you for your honesty. Sincerely, we all need reassurance that we are not alone in the land of sporadic, but acute, brain dead fog.

Anyway, for right now I'm seriously considering setting the blocks in three rows of four and connecting them with a coin type strip of lighter greens and cream fabric. So often it just boils down to making a decision {any decision!} and moving determinedly forward. Allowing ourselves to be paralyzed by hesitation and doubt never truly wins the day.
Auditioning some fabrics for connecting strips
And of course there will probably be more applique in this quilt. I can't seem to help myself at times. Plus, it just seems to be demanding it, in a foot stomping sort of way. Goodness, who knew some spindly flowers stalks could potentially be so bossy?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Very Yellow Post

I have so enjoyed hand quilting on Quarter Circles Round #2. There's just something about this bold, in-your-face yellow quilt that makes me smile. Today has seen the first stage of the binding sewn on and surprisingly, {at least to me}, it's going to be red. Two striped pieces of homespun straight from the stash.
Ready for binding
More and more, I pull binding fabrics from the stash. Even if I have to use four to six fabrics? Who cares. I certainly don't! It just helps to add charm and homemade flavor to many quilts.

Next up in the hoop is the Basket Medallion quilt. The first post I could find concerning this quilt was from February 2013. This is one that I regret not getting quilted much, much sooner. You know, like during the time I was still enthused about it? Yeah, it wasn't always this way.
Starting in the  middle--already have the
top two baskets quilted!
I had a enormous amount of fun while building this quilt. It was something that kept me very engaged and I even typed up one of my rare tutorials, all about how to make pieced borders fit properly. A couple people asked and I gave it my level best. Most replied back that it did actually make sense, and might even help them just a little bit with future projects. That was pretty cool, even though tutorials are mind-numbingly time consuming....
Trying to figure out how to quilt that yellow sawtooth border....
Medallions are still one of my very favorite style of quilts as I'm sure you've all noticed. I love 'em! There's almost always one or two medallion style quilts in the works around here and often, I'm busy behind the scenes planning out yet another one. They totally, unashamedly, make my motor run.

But somehow, somewhere, through the depths of time, I've lost connection to this particular quilt. Maybe it's the old color palette that doesn't have enough happy in it to suit me these days. Whatever.  It was on my 2018 absolutely-gonna-get-it-finished-up list and by George, it's gonna happen. Too much money for professional long arm work {on something I feel 'meh' about}, I'm horrible at machine quilting and well, yeah. Guess that leaves hand quilting.
Most borders should quilt up easy peasy....
Which will only make it look nicer. I know!! It's gonna be fine and probably, like always, I'll fall back in love and get all sappy and sweet and you'll want to gag. But it will be crossed off the list and someday I'll even find the perfect person to gift it to. You know I will. That being said, I'm gonna push hard on this one 'cuz I want it done before December happens. Oooh, do I ever....
Love this giveaway so much!
On a different note, I won another giveaway! So much fun. I've been entering giveaways over at Okan Arts for like, forever. Always good stuff to drool over. This giveaway was one Uppercase magazine and a copy of the new Little U magazine from the same publisher. I've been eyeballing the Uppercase magazines for a long time now so am thrilled to get the addition with an article about quilts made out of wooden pieces! Now, thanks to Patricia Belyea and her generous spirit, I have some great weekend reading! Someday I would love to browse through her store in Seattle, if ever the opportunity presented itself....

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Off On a Tangent

It's done. My honest-to-goodness squirrel quilt has the binding on and it's ready to head down the road to its new home! It was started on a whim one day when the leftover triangles seemed more interesting than the finding-a-solution session would ever be.
Off on a Tangent
It quickly morphed into a quilt with a destination. There's this friend of mine who has had some scary health problems earlier this year and of course, I'm always thinking 'surely, a quilt will make everything better!'
A happy quilt...
I loved adding that oldish red/yellow/purple plaid. It's one that I bought years ago in the feel sorry for me clearance bin. You know how it works, gotta buy a whole yard before you actually get the 'deal'. Uh huh. I'm a sucker for them too.
Hand quilting along the triangles....
The lettering added onto the quilt was a bit of a disappointment. Not very visually striking at all. But I took some of your advice and just let it be. I could've done some really interesting things to darken the edges of the letters and all kinds of super creative things.... that would have taken a lot of time.... things that would have totally annoyed me.... And well, it's just not that important to me with this particular quilt.
And hand quilting in the border....
It's a feel good quilt. A fast and easy 'squirrel' quilt that took me totally off on an unplanned detour. Which is why it's called 'Off on a Tangent'. Fun to be distracted once in awhile, but seriously, I have quilts that I'm much more invested in. If that makes any sense?
Good way to take care of those leftover bits!
Did you catch the big 'oops? I know some of you like to shake your finger at me when I point out the errors, but this one is classic. Totally worth pointing out! It wasn't until the quilt was almost totally quilted that it finally even caught my attention. Which is good, right? With these sorts of '9-patch' borders, I always do a rough drawing, count out the either-or squares of color and do the placement just so. Ideally, we want the border pattern to flow properly around the quilt. Well, somewhere in the sewing phase, I flipped the left side border upside down. 

Yep, look closely my friends, the 9-patch flow is definitely interrupted at the corners, top and bottom. How did that happen when I planned so carefully?!!  Waaaay too late for a fix and probably not even that important in the scheme of things. Did I drag my hands up to my hair and sort of push into my head with my fingers and pull at my hair for a few seconds? Uh huh. And laughed. Kind of crazy-quilt lady style if you want to know the truth of it. Gotta love the human touch! Never have to do it on purpose around here, that's for sure!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Little Here and a Little There

There's been a lot of hand work around here of late. It's so very calming compared to the hectic days and weeks we've been having. I know some people will say, just slow it all down, get off the fast train--it's your call how you spend your days. 
Moving on to the next layer with the Melon Patch blocks
Well, and so it is. We absolutely choose to be involved {or not} with our family and friends lives, and if that creates a bit of a whirlwind of activities at times? then so be it. This past weekend saw us attending the funeral of the last of my uncles on my fathers side. Along with the service was the church dinner {with which we always help out} and before and after, numerous gatherings of family, both from in town and those who came from elsewhere. These times are quite precious. We got to see a cousin and his family that we haven't seen in close to 10 years. The fact that these times usually come along in connection to a funeral is one of lifes little ironies.
Five out of twelve Dried Flowers blocks finished up!
And not to dwell on the sad, but we'll probably be attending the funerals of two of my husbands uncles before the year end as well. Definitely before the next year is through. So all the births, birthdays and family/holiday functions that come along will be a celebration of life to help balance out the melancholy. Are we living a life that will create a hole in our families lives when we're gone? How important are we really? It's always much, much more sad to me when someone passes who seemed to not made as much impact as they could have. Someone who lived more on the fringes of peoples lives than right in the middle. Yes, I'll grieve deeper for the ones who left that huge, gaping space in my life, but the memories will be sweeter and I'll absolutely remember them longer and with more fondness.
The Candy is disappearing....
Okay, on to happier things....  It's been a beautiful fall so far. I'm just baffled that it's already Halloween! Wowsers, where does the time go! Sometime between all that family stuff, there was a 'Trunk or Treat' at our church parking lot as well. With a 'princess' granddaughter to admire, we were NOT going to miss out on that! The funny thing was, we were also able to raid our tote of Halloween costumes to help deck out some of the visiting nephews and nephews. No reason for them to miss out! They proudly sported three musketeer, viking and nerdy fairy costumes {who knew that was a thing?}. And to think I've been been threatening to throw that 'junk' away for years! Anyway, my candy bowl is in dire need of a refill before the local trick-or-treaters start arriving this evening. I'm hoping they totally clean us out as the chocolate quota has already been filled by this family for the entire month!
Quarter Circle Round #2 progress
Oh--lets not forget the hand quilting update. I've also been slowly hand quilting on the Quarter Circles Round #2 quilt. My initial goal was to have it finished up by the end of October, but well, that isn't looking too good. Still have to go back and hand quilt in the long connecting strips of fabric, plus one more row of the circle blocks. No real stress though, just enjoying the stitching every single time it ends up in my lap. That's easy to accomplish when the pattern is kept super simple and the marking to a minimum....

Linking up with 6and6in2018-October for the progress on the Melon Patch blocks, but not much else from that list!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My Answer to the AHIQ Maps Challenge

What I love most about starting something on a whim, is that it often stimulates the brain in unexpected ways. I have been so stumped about what to do with the AHIQ Maps Challenge. For goodness sakes, the challenge was thrown out to us in July? To me, quilting 'maps' felt kind of complex and 'arty'. Not really my thing on the best of days. Summer complaint fatigue didn't help any either. My brain like mush most of the time.
Basic log cabin
The crisp, fall weather has definitely helped to wake me up a bit. With this project, here I am, basically going in circles with the uncomplicated sewing I started earlier this month {enjoying how open ended and pressure free it is}, and it hits me from out of the blue. This log cabin sewing reminds me of how I constantly have to turn around and go back when I'm driving in a new-to-me area! Okay, why not? And so without a lot of extra thought for the end result, I decided to applique a turn right arrow onto the center of my quilt. You see how it works around here? Apparently I have to start some challenges quite by accident!
Turning into my answer to the Maps Challenge!
After that, I just kept on cutting and sewing the 2 1/2" strips, {all without measuring the proper lengths}, until I found myself with a real mess on my hands. Well, you knew it had to happen eventually. I can almost see some of you nodding your head. Uh huh.  Free sewing just doesn't make for straight, square quilts, ever, ever, ever. Sometimes I think my purpose here in the quilt blogging world is to make all the rest of you quilters feel pretty awesome about your own stitching efforts. lol
Too much crazy, even for me....
And of course, by now, I'd also decided that eventually there needed to be a 'road' unit added in as a single round in the quilt. All that accrued wonkiness was definitely becoming a bit deflating in terms of making it larger. Not that I was truly upset you understand. Mostly I just found myself curious as to the resulting dilemma: how very much the fabrics had started misbehaving, at which point it manifested itself and, how very, very quickly it multiplied past a certain point in the sewing.
Not a lot of options so I'll try this....
But hey, it really, really needed to be addressed before moving on. I get that. And so I thought about it for several days until finally, today, I girded myself to do the insane. 'Cuz I was NOT unpicking. Nope. Out came the rotary cutter and I very calmly cut across the length of my quilt, right at the pre-determined area.*gulp! Then I layered the two edges, smoothed from the center of the quilt out, and then very carefully cut once again. Fingers crossed it would take care of all that slack and bias stretch!
What do you know, it might just work out!
The first cut and sew looked promising and so I did the same to the other side. Then, realizing it was gonna have to happen on the other two sides as well, turned the quilt and cut one side at a time into the top and bottom of the quilt too.*whew! Pin, pin, pin and then sew and iron. Would you look at that quilt below! It's much, much flatter and neater than it was before. And I'm not the least bit unhappy with the new look as per those affected strips being slightly curved and much more narrow. Oh, that was a sticking point for sure. Where oh where to make the least offensive cuts? But it works. Thankfully it was a good day in the quilting {and/or living} room today!

I'm absolutely sure this has made quite a few of you cringe and want to look away, but I am having a enormous amount of fun here. Really. A bit of anxiety about the unknown has never killed a single one of us! The next row is going to be where I attempt to make that 'road' unit, but after getting this piece squared up {not pictured here in this post}, I ran out of creative ambition for the day and basically called it quits.

Obviously my version of this maps challenge is going to be very interpretive {improv. anyone?}, but it should satisfy my desire to not intentionally duck a hard challenge. Frustration with dreaming up a workable idea is one thing, but avoidance just gets me to the point of being very annoyed. Kaja and Ann are our wonderfully creative motivators over at AHIQ and are very tough quilters to keep up with on occasion. They like to keep us on our toes!
And here it is, almost totally flat!
Earlier in the week I also dove back into Playing With Scale #2 after leaving it sitting idle for almost three months. Something about the quilt was bugging me and I felt that it needed a chance to gel a bit more. I don't know if it was the quilt colors or the way the strip units were behaving, but I just had a feeling that to continue on at that particular point would end in regret. This time I'm starting from the hst angle on purpose. Maybe I'll backtrack to the strip units as I want to slip these hst strips inside some of them anyway!
Playing with scale #2
Once again, I didn't get nearly as far as I'd like, but what I'm seeing on the wall is making me very happy. All the hsts are cut very freehand and once sewn into units, then I'm just lining them up into a long row, joining like sizes one square to the next. At the point of having a long strip of hsts, I'm using a ruler and trimming off the excess at the edges, taking care not to straighten them to the point of rigid formality. Before trimming, they are very rough and scary looking but afterwards, have a great organic feel to them.

It feels good to be working this type of improv. again and mixing it up with all the other quilting that I love to do. It's when I get boxed into rigidly pre-determined ideas and patterns that I start feeling the most twitchy, bored or otherwise start to lose creative mojo. Balance, people. It's always about the proper balance....

Thursday, October 18, 2018

It Was Meant to Be

Another quilt made it through to the finish line lately. I've been kind of holding back on this one because I had decided to gift it and I didn't want to spoil the surprise. It's one that has been in the works for years and years.
Shattered is finished!
The first post I could find about this particular quilt was here in 2014. It's not been a particularly flashy or impressive quilt, but still, it's one that I. Just. Could. Not. Get. Rid. Of. Now I'm thinking maybe it was meant to be?
It's little, but it's mighty
This quilt named itself 'Shattered' way back in the early stages. All those little bits and pieces from the scrap bin coming together into a larger whole. I had big plans for this quilt and then the inspiration just melted away under the reality of making an entire quilt straight from the monster scrap pile. Too much good stuff in the stash totes to hide out in the scrap bin for weeks on end!
Loving the centerpiece now
I machine quilted wavy lines and ran into all sorts of troubles. Duh! While sandwiching and pinning, tape had popped loose on one side and it never really did get taut enough after that. You know me, nothing much slows me down once I get started, and I just shrugged it off and kept going.
The heart could be a little fuller on the left, but hey, that's improv.
I wasn't really too concerned as this wasn't something I felt especially invested in, if you know what I mean. And then I decided to gift it to a dear friend who had lost her husband of over 25 yrs. earlier this year.*groan.... I mean seriously, it's a perfectly good comfort quilt, right? But now what to do with my 'less than par' quilt? So I picked up a wash-out marker and roughly marked out a heart right in the middle of the quilt. Oh the symbolism! And then I stitched like a crazy woman for a couple days until it was all filled in. Let's just say that she is a very good friend.
I seriously considered putting the label over that red stain,
but thought that might be a little too weird, even for me...
And now let's just say WOW and leave it at that. I was {am}, frankly, in awe of what that simple stitched heart did to this little 'plain jane' quilt. So many, many times I almost dumped this quilt in the trash, or sent it down the road as an orphan project. Instead, I kept picking it back up and adding a little more to it. What if I use a recycled mans shirt for the border? What if I dig a little deeper into the stash totes and see what might work to bring this quilt to a good finish? I truly love it now. It all makes perfect sense and tells a wonderful story. All the scrappy bits, the meaning and symbolism, the texture, who it's going to and how much they might be needing a 'wrap-you-in-love' sort of quilt right about now...
So glad I didn't throw it away!
As usual, I washed the quilt after it was completed {in this case I did the 12 hr. soak},and wowsers, did this one bleed out! It was worse than any other I have ever finished before! Must be all those different red fabrics combined in one quilt. Very disappointing to see one little area on the back {see pic above} where the red had bled through to the back and would NOT go away. I'm sure if I had soaked it for another 12-24 hours that would have made a difference, but one day is about my limit to tie up the bathtub. Just so thankful that all the migrating dye didn't ruin the top and I don't think my friend cares one whit.*whew!
A nice little bundle of fun!
Something fun, I finally received my winnings from entering in the Bloggers Quilt Festival! Thanks Amy! It's been so long since I've won anything, that it felt a little like Christmas! It's a 'Lazy Days' by Gina Martin F8 bundle from Moda along with a cute bag, some lovely thread and a couple other fun goodies. Once piece of the fabric immediately caught my eye and will be washed up pronto. Exactly what I need for a project that I've been eyeballing as a new start! 
Quarter Circles--Round #2
I also was able to move another quilt into the hoop and get started stitching on it--Quarter Circles--Round #2. It's been a tough one to take good pictures of, but this quilt is making my heart very happy. Now. Back in 2015, it was one of those quilt top finishes that I made the best of and just moved on. So many good fabrics included in this quilt though, can't help but respond to that! 

My family is not very excited about the yellow, but it's Fall ya'll! And that means I like to get out some of those more seasonal colored quilt to stitch away on. Soon as this one is done then I have promised myself that I will finally get going on another one in similar colors that I'm not nearly as excited to stitch on. First the one that I WANT to work on and then, the one I've been dragging my heels about for the last several years. Even more than this one if that's possible....

Monday, October 15, 2018

More Progress on the Applique and the Start of a New Project

The Dried Flower blocks are ready for the leaves now. As of this posting, they are cut out and ready for stitching. Nine blocks of the larger, more rounded leaves and three of the narrow, wavy leaves. We'll see how that works out, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how these odd shaped blocks finish up! 
Dried Flowers
 I've also been steadily progressing through the chunky New York Beauty blocks. Only 10 blocks to go when I took this picture, but as of last night, all that's left to do are the gold arcs across the bottom of the 'points'. Whew! It's been a real slog getting through all 64 blocks! It's time for a break though, so now I'll probably stitch the leaves for the Dried Flowers before coming back to these.
Quarter Circles/Chunky New York Beauty Blocks
I also jumped right into the middle of a project that's been simmering for a very long time. At the last minute I switched the colors around and decided to make the baskets yellow and coral/pink instead of using the yellow for background color like originally intended.
Improv. Baskets
Not sure why I did that, but it made sense at the time. Now I'll probably go with a boring cream as the background but that's okay--the basket is probably busy enough already! The vintagey fabric above was the one I was most worried about, but now that the basket is coming together, it's my favorite. Just have to be careful when ironing as it doesn't appear to be 100 percent cotton. Love, love, love the more intense colors of that block though!
I'm calling it 'Sweet Tart'
No pattern for these baskets, just kind of winging it improv. style. Basically I cut 5 1/2" squares on the diagonal and then crosscut them again, arranged them on the design wall, and then sewed them into rows. I have a certain final block size in mind and so there's a rough template for the outside dimensions too. One more to go and then it'll be time to figure out the handle and start doing the prep work for the flowers that will be stitched 'inside'. After the last bit of marathon applique, it feels wonderful to stop at only four blocks!

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