Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Just Plugging Along

Apparently it's a good time for taking a blogging break, the dog days of summer and all that. I am so tempted, but keep having one more thing I want to blog about first! I feel like I've been working in very 'slow mo'. Homebody that I am, traveling every other weekend starts to feel very emotionally draining. Especially the extra long days of driving where an eight hour drive unexpectedly takes ten or more hours.*ugghh...
Improv. Wheels getting a little hand quilting done...
Why is it that family always has a good reason for filling up our vehicles coming and going. Oh, you'll be in close vicinity, why don't you just go pick up some exercise equipment for me as a favor? And all of a sudden our leisurely trip is taking a detour straight through a traffic packed Portland, Oregon on the way home, instead of being able to skirt the edges like we normally do. That's when I get my hand work bag out and start stitching like a crazy woman. Deep breaths Audrey! Coming from a town of minus 700 people, traffic in places like Portland and Seattle make me a wee bit stressed.

Laundry and other assorted necessary, {but time consuming} chores pile up quickly of late, and of course quilting often gets shoved way onto the back burner at the least provocation. It seems that all the quilting getting accomplished here is with the quilt in the hoop or maybe a little bit of applique. Grab and go kind of stuff. I was so excited and looking forward to working on Improv. Wheels, but now it's feeling a little flat. The time spent with the hoop has been really broken up and something feels weird about the quilt now. Makes me compare it to what having a brown eyed child after having a passel of blue eyed children would feel like. Oh, it's definitely all mine, but still, I'm having to reconnect every single time I pick the hoop back up! It's probably just the normal chaos of winding down the end of summer.  I'll feel better after a good week or two of normal quilting routine.

On a side note, take a look at this gorgeous quilt below! A reader of my blog, Denise St. Sauveur, said that she unofficially followed along with Quilty 365 and then looky, looky what she did with the border! This is the flower block from my Vintage Red quilt just finished up this Summer. Oh my goodness, what a seriously creative streak this gal has. Wish she had a blog to see other work,  'cuz I love this so much!
A quilt made by Denise!
I am, as always, amazed and humbled when someone finds creative inspiration from anything on my blog. It's such a boost to open our email and find a picture like this or a note that says 'thank you' for sharing our quilting journeys in such a public way. Completely made my day. Thank YOU Denise!, for so generously sharing your lovely quilt and allowing me to post a picture showing this wonderful creation with other readers too. It's how we're all inspired, day after day, seeing different quilt ideas merge, blend and grow. I would have never come up with this on my own, but now want to make my own Vintage Red border in a brand new quilt project! Ooh, but there's just never enough time for all the ideas is there?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Hey Grandma! The Perfect Summer Finish

I told you. It's been time for finishing around here. One more quilt crossed off the list and it's already been used just this past weekend! Nothing like my girls having a sleepover for getting these medium sized quilts broken in just a little bit more.
Hey Grandma! a Finish
This quilt is 'Hey Grandma!', one that was inspired by a quilt hanging up at a flea market I went to last summer. It really didn't end up looking much like the original {tho I don't know for sure as I never took a picture!}. Regardless, the strange mixture of colors and fabrics were a direct result of that image in my head. All the lighter blue just happened to slide into the quilt in a sneaky, use-up-fabric-I-already-have sort of way. Amazing how it lightens and brightens and even makes everything seem happier instead of the moody vibe it should have had. There's something happening to my quilting where all choices seem to lead to a 'lighter' rather than 'darker' look these days, no matter what the original fabric pull may indicate....
Loving the odd fabric choices
The design is all my own of course, just another quirky flower in a long series of odd looking flowers. As you can probably tell, I often lean toward the traditional look of making repeat blocks in lots of similar but different looking fabrics. The border is Sujata Shah 'Cultural Infusion Quilts' inspired piecing and is easy peasy, but does require more fabric than I initially intended to use. Really fun to see the wedge spiked border pieces that {now} kind of remind me of a short little flower garden fence. I am so happy with the scrappy, make-do look and feel of it too. A pieced border doesn't have to be meticulously formal looking to wonderfully frame and add to a quilt.
A mix of machine and hand quilting works wonders...
This quilt feels like a fast finish for me, somewhere around one year from start to finish. Sometimes I just have a craving to get a certain quilt in the hoop and this one happened to fall into that category. Or maybe I was strongly avoiding having to make decisions on other quilt tops? That happens around here too, much as I hate to admit to anything so cowardly.*wink
It makes me smile just a little
I have one more quilt ready for binding and then it will probably be awhile until the next true-blue completion. Considering the amount of company, traveling, and other non-quilty distractions, I'm always blown away to see any serious forward progress in the summer.
Just another quirky quilt...
Sometimes I think the time spent in the quilt room or with the hoop must pass in a sort of fog induced haze, of soaking up quilty goodness just as fast as possible! You know, because it never seems like there can be enough time for any of it this time of year. August already???? 

I fully intend to carefully go through all my projects and re prioritize all the quilty lists. Sometime very soon because it's definitely time. Maybe even do a post on the fabric stacks as one of my readers keeps requesting. We'll see. I've got labels to put on for all the quilts entered into the quilt show coming up around the corner {and thread picking and trimming} and guess what? The last of our long weekend of company just left today. In fact, I barely moved the barricade of totes from in front of the quilt room out of the way before I sat down and started typing this post. It looks like we have two weddings to go to between the next three Saturdays which requires {TWO} trips down south to Oregon, from here in Eastern Washington, and lots of efficiency here on the home front to make it all happen without something mucking up the works. Yay! Maybe I'll just go lay down on the floor in the quilt room and take a nap... Why do we bother quilting in the summer time? Maybe we should just try and absorb the colors and textures by osmosis....

Thursday, August 2, 2018

6and6in2018 is Getting a Few Results!

The 6and6in2018 for July crept up on me pretty fast. I've been working on my oldest quilt top off an on, trying to get it finished up for this particular linkup. It was part of a series started a very long time ago and one that ended up being monstrously large. So big {105" x 107"} that I never wanted to actually quilt it myself. Do you blame me? What was I thinking?
9-Patch Building Blocks is a finish!
For awhile I planned on having it professionally quilted and then decided it wasn't worth spending that kind of money on. I tentatively decided to hand quilt it and even had a grand stitching plan, special piece of batting bought and everything. Meh.  Still not feeling it and quite honestly, almost gave the quilt top away to a group of ladies I know who make a quilt every year for a fundraiser.

What was holding me back was all the hand work along the edge. That applique border took me forever and was something I felt pretty proud of at the time. It felt so creative!  In hindsight I wish it could have been completed fairly quickly so it could have been one of those celebratory finishes we all love so much. All's well that ends well though as my youngest son really admires the size and simplicity of the design. Yay! It's only been a year and a half since he got a new quilt, but if he likes this one, then I'm a whole year ahead of the gifting-a-quilt-for-graduation thing that I do. Bonus!
It's a big one...
Oh yeah, the details. I finally broken down and decided to sandwich and pin this quilt for machine quilting on my Bernina 740. It has a larger harp than my old machine {the backup these days}, so it seemed doable, at least in abstract. Lets just say that I will probably never, EVER do that again. The machine handled it just fine, no problems there, but the sandwiching, pinning and marking took forever and many more days. Ughh....  Not fun at all.

I used an orange/gold Aurifil thread for stitching and various pieces of green fabrics {pulled from deep down in the stash totes} to make a scrappy binding. It's all done now and washed up in a very loose, drapey feel that my son will love. After he popped a bunch of quilting threads on the last quilt {pushing his feet into it and stretching out like the total dork that he is}, I have given him the big fat lecture on how to properly treat a quilt: Feel free to use it, maul it, snuggle up in and generally wrap up and/or drool on. Wipe your Cheeto fingers on it if you must! but please, please stop with the gross mistreatment!
The basket is my favorite part
And no it wasn't old, sun faded thread or anything like that. It took awhile and much pondering and panicking about other quilts that I've gifted. Would people tell me if their quilts are coming apart at the seams? We finally narrowed it down to the problem child though.*whew! I take care of my threads and don't use garbage for machine quilting so that's that. This new quilt will be a great test quilt to see if he's learned anything or actually even heard a word that his mom said. Hmm... How does this even happen to a quilter? Not sure I'd place any money on this particular bet though and you can be sure he won't be getting a very impressive quilt anytime soon.....
Patchwork Triangles a new quilt top!
The quilt top for Patchwork Triangles is done now too. It was on the 6in6in2018 list as well. Just cut-off triangles in the beginning, but they certainly shaped up into a fun looking quilt top! So glad I challenged myself with these as I always get such a charge out of figuring out something to do with the orphaned bits and pieces. The sharp yellow solid fabric was bought at a quilt show last year just because I couldn't resist. Love seeing it end up in something like this! The top ended up being 62 1/2" x 68 1/2", so a nice sized lap quilt that could be a sweet gift for one of our extended family members some day. Loving the slightly vintage looking vibe of it all and feeling more determined than ever to keep playing with the castoffs.
A good border works wonders
And you've already seen the quilt top pics for the HaHa quilt. So glad that one is finished up and out of my hair for now. I knew it had to be on this list to receive any more attention this year, and yep, that's exactly what happened. I'd look at the list and start to feel guilt pains if I kept pushing it aside. It's so interesting that with some quilts we can't hardly make ourselves quit working on them and others? Wow! Such a slog. Never seriously want to get busy with them, although that doesn't mean we don't like them just as much in the end!
HaHa quilt checked off the list too
I haven't been keeping very good track of new quilts as this list has been more valuable for keeping me on task for finishing. There is never a problem with wanting to start new quilts around here so not gonna worry about that for now!
Washington cherries are the best
My cousin unexpectedly dropped off three boxes of cherries this afternoon. After making a few phone calls and unloading two of them {they needed immediate attention}, I decided to freeze the rest. It doesn't take much time, just have to wash them, pick all the stems off and toss the bad cherries. They don't even have to be totally dry before putting them in freezer Ziplocs and then later in the year they are a great snack for the {bottomless stomach}, youngest son. We ate frozen cherries like candy when we were kids. Junk food? That was for summer picnics and vacation. Linking up with Meredithe and Anne for 6and6in2018-July!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Organizing the Hand Work Bag

I know it's usually Adhoc. Improv. time of the month, but life has been hectic with a capitol H. We watched our granddaughter for a couple days, there's been family come into town to swoon over the new niece, we have a couple older uncles who are in failing health, a visiting sibling has been needing some hand holding, someone skipped out on their church cleaning duties, and all the other bits and bobs that make life such a fascinating experience to deal with as well.
Off On a Tangent prep
Improv. has been shuttled to the back burner for now. It's just that simple. Tho I did take it out and give the current progress a quick perusal and a promise of more love in the future. It seems that for the time being, I've been grabbing hand work or settling in for some hand quilting 'therapy' time. I've been craving that quiet time. Wrapping it around me and taking deep breaths. And you know what? Slowing down with something, anything! almost always makes for a few peaceful and serene moments, even in the midst of a 'storm'.
Patchwork Triangles border prep
Now my husband tells me that we need to take a quick jaunt down to Oregon to visit some other family member who time seems to be running out. Ahh... the joys of being part of a large family--on both of our parts! So many highs and lows. Instead of the grab and go method I've been making do with in regards to the hand work, I decided today to put off the packing/getting ready to go and better organize my hand work bag. Not sure how many days we'll be gone so we are literally talking about sanity here...
Melon Patch spears getting absolutely nothing done to them...
Right? Okay, don't answer that! For the most part it was just a matter of making sure ALL the parts and pieces were safely tucked into ziploc bags, organized per project and arranged nicely inside the traveling bag. Did I pack the appropriate color of thread? Check! Extra needles? Check! Snips & scissors? Check! Small ziploc for throw-away end pieces of thread? Check! Pin cushion with little applique pins? Check!
Dried Flowers moving right along....
One of my latest 'squirrel's found its way into the bag as well. Such a surprise. I've been calling this one 'Dried Flowers' just because it has such a dull but sweet, washed out sort of look. The circles are all pieces that have been cut out from behind other applique through the years and now I just stacked them up together. Very little trimming as I love the rustic look. My thinking is they will make very nice looking flowers if I can figure out how to add on another something that will have a pieced and/or perhaps even appliqued stem and leaf section. Decisions, decisions....
Dried Flowers fabric stacks and possible additions to quilt
Maybe I'll add the leftover basket blocks too? Whatever. The layout is still a ways off!  It's been a deliciously 'quiet' project to stitch on and one I have been soaking up! Something has been niggling in the back of my brain though when I have been working on these blocks. Maybe it's too quiet? Perhaps it might prefer a little spark of color? And so today I caved {just like I did when I bought those berry strudels yesterday} and dug around for some salmon/orange colored fabrics to add one more smaller circle on top. Hhmmm... We might be on to something here!
A little progress with the spiky blocks...
I also finished cutting out the spikes for these primitive looking New York Beauty blocks--all going to be sewn on with applique stitching. When I get the 'spikes' sewn on, then I will free cut some gold arcs to cover up the stitching at the edge of the quarter circle. These cream pieces are all cut-offs from an old project that I just couldn't bear to throw away and I've been making up this current block as I go along. Love the colors but am a little antsy about how they will look when they're done. Might need to trim the spikes to different widths to incorporate a little more imperfection.
Fabric Swatches 'cuz we always need more fabric...
And because I was definitely lollygagging and putting off that getting-ready-to-leave-town business, I went ahead and looked through all my current stacks of fabric resting on the counters or hiding away and marinating in little totes. Ouch! There are 12 stacks of fabric in total!! Wowsers, that's a lot for me. Some have been simmering for almost two years and so really, they need to have decisions made, be moving forward, or be dumped back into the stash totes pronto. No time for that today, but I did get little swatches of need-to-match {or blend} fabric ready for the chance/opportunity of wandering into an out of town quilt store. Wouldn't that be fun? Love, love doing that and my husband is a sweetheart to stop if we ever have a spare moment.

Now I'd better go finish up the laundry and check on the ripe peaches that need to be cut up and frozen before leaving town. I'm pretty sure nobody else will take care of them while we're gone! Thankfully there's not a lot of them as someone {not naming any names}, has been making peach smoothies lately.... Oh my, was I looking forward to a quiet weekend! Oh well. I'm sure we'll get one soon enough whether we plan it or not...

Friday, July 20, 2018

Using Up the Leftovers Any Way I Can!

Tried all day to get a post in and it was just too busy around here. My daughter tells me that it's pointless to blog on Wednesday or Friday, that nobody will read the posts! Oh well. Just keeping up with the flow of creativity around here.
Auditioning the borders....
First of all, I wasn't satisfied with a simple red border for the abandoned 'Patchwork Triangles' quilt after all. Oh no, Must do something more complicated. I figured out all the measurements and then drew out a basic sawtooth border attachment.
Cutting the sawtooth borders before applique
Not really all that simple and basic when you consider that it probably took me almost two hours start to finish just getting ready for stitching. But still. I love the process. That's what makes the time fly by. And I've done these sorts of borders so often now, the most time consuming part of the process is the measuring, measuring, measuring. And then drawing and/or adjusting all the lines before it's time to iron the freezer paper onto the border length. It doesn't feel hard anymore though, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Looking at these circles for possible applique....
And then once I laid out the borders next to the quilt, I didn't like them. Uggh.. I just sighed in exasperation and stared. How does this happen? It took a little creative thinking, but finally it occurred to me to flip the borders upside down. Oh yeah. Much better with the red on the outside of the quilt! Why didn't I 'see' that initially, before I went to all the time and trouble?

Moving the yellow to the inside changed things. For one thing, it helped keep the vertical look going instead of boxing it in. Yep, good thing. But now I saw an area that was crying out for applique. Because of course that's the way my brain thinks. A sawtooth border without added circles or flowers or something is very rare around here. It's insane how my mind goes straight there and will not be budged until convinced it might be detrimental to the quilt!

So to the parts and pieces applique tote I went, looking for something left behind by another project. Luckily I found these fussy cut circles in the perfect colors. So much better than what I had imagined in my head! Loving how this seems to soften the almost busy, 'circus' feel to this quilt and downgrades that boldness to a much more vintage looking vibe. And I never even thought for one moment about fussy cut circles before coming upon these! Yay for the parts and pieces totes!
Off On a Tangent
This 'Off On a Tangent' quilt top had been shaping up rather quickly too. If you remember, the triangles were leftover from the HaHa quilt and seemed too good to toss aside forever. For right now the borders on the top and bottom of the quilt are not sewn on. It's hard to tell from these pictures, but all the cream fabrics are text prints too. It was something that really made me smile when I was contemplating how to put together this particular border.
Should look better with some more color added on!
And I love how it looks close up. The problem is, any real distance and the text prints read 'gray' and tend to dull the quilt down to a rather disappointing degree. Meh!  Every single time I think something is going to be whipped up super fast, my quilts talk back and tell me, 'Nope, not today!' Okay. Fine then. After a couple days contemplating possible easy fixes {without scrapping the border altogether}, I've decided to add words to the top and bottom. There have been a couple options running through my head including song lyrics or maybe even a humorous phrase. {My fave is 'Good quilts don't have to match the couch!', but Ultimately I settled on the phrase 'It is well with my soul', which I'm planning to cut out in various green fabrics. The letters have already been freehand drawn {my go-to method} in an appropriate size, cut out, and ready to trace onto those fabrics.

It's funny how we can be playing with a project and then from out of the blue, it seems like the quilt has suddenly become someone else's quilt. What? When? But that's exactly what has happened here, thus the more thoughtful wording. It just needs to be. There is this friend whom I've contemplated gifting a quilt to for quite awhile {for various and assorted reasons} and it just seems to be the right time. How ironic and actually kinda wonderful, that this random, just-wanna-play-type-of-quilt, has quietly morphed into something that now, speaks to me of her! So yeah, it totally makes sense to just go with that and not fight against. Make it even more her if that's even possible!

On a different note, this week makes for 8 years of quilty blogging! Wowsers!  I've almost given up on this blog several times throughout the years, but there's just something about journaling the quilting experience that helps to connect all the dots. I honestly feel that it's made for better quilts along the way. And it doesn't take long reading through my posts, to understand that I am a process quilter through and through. In some ways {much as I hate to admit it}, that part is as much or more fun than the finished product! Too, blogging is a great way to share my story with like-minded people and maybe encourage others along the way? This was the very first line, of my very first post, on Quilty Folk:  'It's boring to talk quilts with the uninterested, tacky to talk to yourself, and I'm too old for an imaginary friend.' Hhmmm... I'm thinking that all still holds true today..... 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How The HaHa Quilt Came to Be

Yay for me! This Solids Challenge quilt is finally, finally, finally at completed quilt top stage. Whew! It only took 2 1/2 years. If you remember, back in June, I mentioned cutting the border triangles a little too large. That promptly took me to the next challenge, what to do for an intermediate border?
The middle border
Somehow I ended up with the idea to sew a HaHa border based on a gorgeous quilt over at Nifty Quilts. That left me with a small coping border in between the HaHa's and the middle of the quilt that had to be addressed.
Contemplating using red...
I auditioned different colors, quickly realizing that it was going to have to be a neutral to play nice. Red was definitely a no go.
Black is too stark
 As was black and gray.
Gray is too 'meh'
And much to my internal resistance, white was the obvious choice. You may think that my instinctive balking is odd, but I'm just not into all those stark 'white' quilts that are so popular. Like the only color that responds wonderfully to COLOR, is a non-color.
And white makes perfect sense....
 So I earnestly set my biases aside and sewed the quilt top together with the white inner coping border. Honestly, I almost just left the entire triangle border completely off! Doesn't the first picture look wonderful 'as is'? But then the quilt would be too small to do anything much with and the thought of all those wasted triangles just made me feel queasy.
Another square quilt!
So I forged ahead and yes, it felt good to have the triangles sewing together nicely. Sometimes I seriously start doubting my math skills and it's good to have a reminder that I can occasionally do something right! lol
It looks positively lovely in some light....
And the more I looked at my quilt, the more it started feeling okay again. Maybe the outside borders weren't a giant mistake after all.
The HaHa border was a good decision
I've changed the name of this quilt to the 'HaHa' quilt. It sorta named itself and seems more appropriate now than ever. Such a challenge all the way through! My family thinks the HaHa blocks are very weird and strange, but then they don't get the connection to an antique quilt or my crazy fumbles and missteps through the entire evolution of the quilt.
I think it might already be growing on me....
I wish the green triangles framed the quilt all the way around as they look best next to the HaHa blocks. That's what happens though when ideas have to be changed and tinkered with halfway through! I'm very excited to fold this quilt up and have it languish a good long while in the quilt top drawers. Maybe when I pull it back out in a few months or a year, I'll have a new found appreciation for it? In the meantime, I'm making a big 'ol check mark next to one of my most prioritized goals for this year. The Solids Challenge quilt top is DONE! Never, ever give up or you'll never get where you're going.....

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Great Summer Finish!

Although I am feeling a bit helpless in the wake of wanting to start so many new projects, my main focus has still been on finishing. Vintage Red was started in 2015 and now, three years later, it is a true blue finish! 
Vintage Red is completed!
I zeroed in on this red solid somewhere in my shopping because I've always, always admired that bold, vintage zing that make so many scrappy quilts shine. My quilt top didn't end up being a scrap bin type of quilt, but I tried to incorporate lots of fabrics into it. My motto has always been, the more fabrics the merrier!
Another 2018 finish
The applique flowers were just a whim, something that I drew up one day and thought, 'Hmmm, this might actually work!' And indeed, in this bright red, they might actually do the heavy lifting.*wink
Nothing like a little applique to make me smile!
I had hoped to be able to put this quilt into this summer's quilt show, but my stitch-in-the-ditch quilting efforts are very marginal. It's a good thing that I added my usual Perle cotton stitching, or I'd be very upset. As it is, you have to be the picky maker of the quilt to even care much. Isn't if funny how much we see our own mistakes and weaknesses? It's like they are blinking at us in neon yellow!
Hand quilting always makes things look a little better....
I'm very happy with the fact that this feels very much like an Audrey quilt. That text fabric, the simple applique flowers, the vintage/mixed modern feel to to it all. Tho I won't subject myself to quilt show perusal, I'm calling it a win.
All washed up and crinkly looking, just the way I like them!
I'm thinking it needs to be the next quilt to grace our bed. Something about it makes me think that it might be making me smile for a good long while....


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