Friday, December 3, 2021

Still in the Applique Groove

The Crossroads blocks sort of jumped to the head of the line. They just weren't happy hanging out in the handwork bag any longer. I'm having so much fun stitching these down though! Love the fact that the circles are not meant to be perfect, never will be, don't wanna be, the end.

Crossroads blocks on the wall
When I was sewing the background of the blocks together, the scrappy piecing didn't seem especially impressive. I definitely second guessed myself more than once! Now that the applique is coming along, I remember why the mixed fabric backgrounds appeal to me so much. It's the make-do vibe that makes so much of the warm and fuzzy vibes happen around here. And the blocks were too big to do all one piece fabric anyway, seeing as how I tend toward fat quarter cuts....

An Amish look for the applique
The cut-out circles from behind the crossroads applique are entirely too sweet to throw away. Because of the piecing, I have to go back and reinforce all the seams where it's newly cut. That's not slowing me down at all! I've already been playing with several ideas for a brand new project using these cut-outs. It's just soooo irresistible! The motif in the picture below is probably the winner. Love the spunkiness of that particular flower, whatever it is. Tulip? Lily?

Or something with more attitude...
All the applique is finished up on the pear blocks now. The light gray background fabrics was possibly a huge mistake, but I'm gonna do my best to make things work out regardless. It just changes up where I thought the challenges were focused at in the quilt!

A stack of pear blocks
And though it was a busy, whirlwind sort of Thanksgiving weekend, I did manage to squeeze in just enough hand quilting to move this quilt out of the hoop earlier this week. After all the initial angst about how best to do the stitching, it simply soaked up tons of texture from the hand quilting! Yay! Binding is already sewn on by machine and hopefully there will be a window for hand stitching on this later this month.

Bullseye Medallion ready for binding work
The next quilt in the hoop should be a Christmas-look quilt, but the heart wanted this one. The soft vibe of this scrappy quilt was calling out very loudly and so really, what else is there to do but get it in the hoop? I've fussed with the initial stitching on this one for three nights now and am getting close to being satisfied. It's terribly hard sometimes to 'see' in that first stitching, but some colors of thread just look so very wrong

Strippy Triangles
I know that once I figure out that first hoop, the rest should be smooth sailing. Crossing my fingers this quilt will be super relaxing to turn to in the cold December evenings! If you're interested in making a similar looking quilt, I posted some rough directions here. It's a very fast and easy quilt to put together if you don't overthink things. Which I NEVER do! hehe

Loving the old fashioned look to this one
So that's that. I'm thinking about doing a Christmas applique giveaway again this year {am I crazy?} and can't decide between two Love Apple designs. What do you think, the older one, or the newer one

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Cozier Looking Than I Thought It Might Be

 Baby quilt is done, washed up and already gift wrapped! Big, big sigh here. It was on the get-done-before-Thanksgiving list and I didn't want to have to bump it off till Christmas or try and mail it through the USPS during the holidays.

Baby quilt is finished!
It's got a slightly different look than what I normally do for baby quilts, but it still seems to work. Definitely turned out to be cozier looking than I ever expected.  Crossing my finger baby's mama will like this one, though thankfully baby Ellie won't care a whit!

Hand quilted with perle cotton
I tried to hand quilt in a way that would hold down all the bulky seams and yet still allow for a lovely drape after being well used. If I was an absolute perfectionist, there would have to be something temporarily stitched down at the edges of the border so that there wouldn't be any pull or stretch in the outside border. Uh huh. That's so not me.

A simple 'x' to help keep the corners secure
The dark green background is the part that still makes me sort of scratch my head, but it's nice to use something other than cream for the backgrounds. Love, love, love that all of the fabric in this quilt is from the stash. The cream fabric at the border is part of what I received from my aunt with the moth ball smell. After all that washing and bleaching, it's super soft and smells just fine.

Extra stitched flowers just for fun
And yep, I know what you're thinking. The cream background look still happened at the borders.*sigh  When we have a style, look, vibe we gravitate to, it's hard to deviate too drastically, right? And it softens the look of the quilts nicely. Don't you like the stitched lollipop flowers mimicking the appliqued ones? It's been a long time since I tried that. Always makes me smile!

Looks wonderful in certain lighting...
Crazy Daisy took a few days to plow through the sewing of the borders. It's such an important step and we want to make sure and do it properly. No sense taking care with the rest of the quilt if our rows can't match up and align properly.

Trying to sew up the row lengths, one by one
At first I pinned at every single seam and then I stopped and really thought it through. Hmmm... maybe only the seams at the cornerstones and wherever the seams have been ironed the opposite direction? I probably need to put some serious thought into my sewing table set up as my shoulders and neck always hurt after too much time doing this. Have to get up and stretch, roll my shoulders before getting back to it!

Love when it becomes one piece!
Amazing how much better it looks after the seam allowance disappears! It's hard to get this quilt to cooperate with the lighting, but I did my very best.

Ready to trim up the edges
Couldn't be happier with the setting triangle fabric. There's just something about a 'directional' fabric that makes my heart go pitter patter! And the rich look of the rosy red/pink colors help accent the daisy blocks quite well.

Didn't even try to match up the stripes on the edges
I really thought this one was going to be a finished quilt top at the setting triangles, but then I had a random idea. What if?

Always adding a border or two...
And you know there would be just barely enough fabric in the cheddar and the pink/red print to make it happen. Of course!  So I'd better be sure before cutting anything out! Okay, that's the last post before the holidays are in full swing. I'm planning on eating lots of goodies and spending prime time with the kids and grandkids. Sounds like all my siblings will be hanging out at mom and dads this year, so it's shaping up to be a hopping busy time all around. All the best to my American readers! Hope you have a great holiday too!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

It's Always Better To Have the Prep Work Behind You

I've been busy, busy. Trying to get lots of applique prep done over the last weekend while my daughter was away on vacation. It was waaay past time to pull out Coronacrazy and just get moving on it. While the centerpiece has been done since January, the only thing accomplished since that particular push was the foundation work for this applique border. Letting it sit around and gather dust was only making me feel guilty and even more apprehensive about how it was going to turn out.

Will have to stitch down the corners later
The thing is, the applique border to-be, was really only a figment of my imagination and an odd little scribble on paper. I believe the genesis for the free flowing leaves idea was from a calendar hanging on my wall throughout 2020? but I can't really remember anymore. All I knew for sure was that there was gonna have to be a lot of floor space for this prep work to happen, lots of internal debate and hopefully a surge of creativity and illumination. Yep, I was absolutely dreading it.

A few flowers for interest
It took up the greater part of the upstairs floor, right at the top of the stairs for most of three days. It's an ugly carpet, so sorry for that, but design space isn't usually terribly fussy around here. I started out a little different with this particular border. First I spent some time free-cutting about 25 different shape and lengths of leaves in paper and then placing them along a vine. Okay, yes. More of that. This is the flowy vibe that I'm aiming for. No, not that, more like this? and so on till it started to click. 

Normally I would get a feel for the look that I wanted {on a paper drawing or maybe a quick audition} and then cut out a whole stack of leaves in whatever fabric I had stacked up and ready to use for the border. Just place fabric shapes randomly and make things work. And though I had the pre-selected fabric at the ready, I also knew that I wanted the leaves arranged in a bit of a color wash. Okay. That could be a bit more tricky as the lengths of the leaves needed to vary as well. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? 

Trying to figure out the look and feel of the borders
This time, as you can see, I started with arranging paper leaves on one side of the top border until the look was just so. Then, I carefully selected the preferred fabrics and colors as I went, tracing the proper leaf shape onto the back of that fabric. Uh huh. I basically went leaf by leafsometimes getting into a groove where I could cut two or three out at the same time. Woo hoo! It was painstaking because I didn't have enough fabric to just waste it in a big flurry of optimistic cutting. 

With the shape decisions out of the way, cutting one leaf at a time in the 'hopefully correct' color let me immediately see if the color wash was happening like intended. The ironic thing was, after getting all the leaves in place for the first total quilt view, I immediately started rearranging a few chosen leaves until the overall color was was simply a variegated look instead. Oh well. No one ever said the design process was easy, simple, straightforward or even made a lick of sense. You just have to roll with it till you hopefully come out the other side!

The overall picture of the intended applique
After getting through one half of the top border {and leaving the cut out leaves in place as a reference point}, I switched to the other side. Though I tried not to get too 'matchy, matchy', it helped to use repeating colors for cohesion. Then I worked on the bottom border etc. etc., always choosing to determine the tips of the vine leaf colors first. If I got stuck or spectacularly frazzled somewhere on a vine, I would switch to the other end of the border and work backward until I found a way to transition more gracefully. No sense working myself into a snit because a certain leaf didn't want to behave! Might as well take my attention elsewhere and give us both time to reflect.

It really did take a lot of time, hours and hours and hours in all. Now you know why I needed the upstairs floor completely free for days at a time! At first I just did a rough cut around the traced leaf shape on the fabric and placed them on the border as-is, thinking I could clean up the shapes later. Which I did in some places and others not so much. 

As the borders started developing, leaves got shuffled and moved into better position, leaves got trimmed a little curvier or slimmer or shorter or whatever seemed to be needed. More leaves got squeezed into the space, or less. Other times a whole group of leaves was jettisoned completely because suddenly there was a brilliant idea that needed addressing! Some areas I fussed with entirely too much, causing the invariable confusion and despair. An opportune time to leave and take a good long break. Coming back later with fresh eyes usually helped tremendously to see immediately what the problem was and well, have a hope of actually solving it?

All in all, there is only about six or seven unused or discarded leaves at the finish, so I count that as a win! And I didn't run completely out of any important fabric, pull out any hair on my head or even have a temper tantrum just trying to have clarity in what I was trying to convey!! hehe  So yeah. Prep work is totally done, the leaves are removed from the corner areas and carefully labeled for later stitching. These borders are finally in the backup handwork bag and waiting for their turn in the hand stitching queue. YAY! I can't even imagine what was possibly holding me back from this particular phase of the quilt, can you?

Baby quilt should be a finish by Thankgiving
I also finished up with the simple applique on the borders of the baby quilt, all borders attached and it's even sandwiched and pinned! This one is already in the hoop and I've been hand quilting on it for a couple nights now. So sad to have to put a pause on Bullseye Medallion quilt as I had finally made it all the way out to the outside borders. At this point it always feels like an easy couple nights till it's all completely finished, but I know better. I know, I know... The outside area generally takes much longer than we expect and well, it will still be there and waiting for me when the baby quilt is all done and ready for gifting.

Can't wait to get back to the stitching on this one
While I still had the floor available, I went ahead and made time for stitching up the sashing strips on CrazyDaisy. Though I was pretty sure they would be a go, you just never know for sure till the auditioning moment. 

Crazy Daisy starting to come together
Though it's not obvious in the picture, the cheddar and lavender squares seem a little bit 'flat' in comparison to the Daisy blocks. Overall I think that's a good thing. Gives the applique a chance to shine brighter. Like they need that? Hmm... Originally I intended to cut the sashing from a stripey fabric and make them fairly narrow strips. This way gives a little more breathing room, yet still keeps the energy high.

This is the setting triangle fabric that I settled for
After seeing the blocks with the sashing strips and the cheddar cornerstone squares, I was not impressed with how blah that cornerstone color was. I finally settled on a deep purple batik fabric to use {probably not an outstanding choice}, but it does exactly as intended. Helps 'pop' the dark curved strips in the blocks and further define the flowers. Not every color/fabric used has to be exceptional to work extremely well 'in situ'. 

These cornerstones look better to me
This quilt was supposed to be a very blue quilt and I'm not quite sure what happened? Somehow it veered off into this wildly exuberant explosion of color. So very, very energetic and crazy, I'm actually starting to call it 'circus, circus' in my mind! So far the only thing that I regret about this quilt though, is the fact that it's going to end up square. I probably should have gritted my teeth and stitched the extra blocks just to make the quilt come out rectangular. I did consider that for awhile, even thought about leaving off one row of blocks, but no. That would mean ditching seven applique blocks! Ha. Not happening. I'm actually very ready to move beyond these wild {for me} colors and work on some projects in more benign colors for awhile!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Latest Cozy Quilt Finish

 The Patchwork Garden quilt is totally finished up, binding and label on and already gifted! I stalled some on getting the binding on just because there were other projects that seemed more interesting at the moment.

Patchwork Garden is a true-blue finish!
It has such a soft, cozy feel to it, I just love it! Why didn't I make one of these years ago? All the background fabrics have white, light gray, light blue, light green or very light purple tones. I've been stocking up on them for years and finally found a place to experiment. Ooh la la. So much fun!

I had to add the flower and leaf just because...
Now my stash is depleted and of course I want more. Isn't that always the way it works? The blue striped basket fabric is from a cut-up button down shirt. Just couldn't resist trying to see if it would work in a quilt. It's funny how I can't get rid of shirts anymore without wondering if the fabric could be upcycled rather than dumped at the 2nd hand stores!

Love the little birdie perched on the basket
I wasn't sure about using the dark blue fabrics for the baskets, but they just spoke to me somehow. I couldn't be happier with how the flower and leaf baskets turned out! The teensiest bit of elegance added to a quilt in an unexpected place. Just makes my heart sing.

Such a dramatic flower basket
All the hand quilted was kept simple as per usual around here. Lots of straight lines and 'x' markings through the nine patches. More and more I'm stitching on the inside of the applique shapes rather than just to the outside like I used to. I really like the look of the stitches over the top. The texture is so yummy. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever go back to regular hand quilting thread. Is there ever going to be a quilt where I think, 'No, Perle Cotton thread is just gonna be too much!' Ha! Somehow I doubt it!

Lots of hand quilting stitches
My favorite basket is probably the one on the bottom right corner. There's just something extra sweet about flowers that drape and fall gracefully from a basket. And that text fabric in the border. Still not tired of seeing words and text in some of my quilts!

Colors are so much better in person
Can you tell that I love baskets and flowers? This was a pattern that I should have made years ago and just kept putting it off. The interesting thing is that years ago when first buying the pattern, I'm sure I would have stuck more closely to the original makers color scheme. Nowadays, I always want to experiment and play with a new color palette, always pushing the boundaries a bit on what I'm truly comfortable with.

Made from the 'Patchwork Garden' pattern'
by Jan Patek
This was a quilt that always seemed like it was destined to go to my next youngest sister {once I got the quilt top together}. So that's what I did after getting it washed up and ready for gifting--took it right to her house. So pleased to see the picture she posted, with it already being used on her bed! It's been a rough couple years for so many of us in various ways. Why not try and make our private space a little bit happier?
Looks so cozy and inviting!
And my daughter sent me a picture of their guest room all ready for the guests they were having. I admit to having a very, tiny bit of regret in giving this one away. Isn't it fabulous to see our quilts being used and loved by their recipients though? There's just no way I could possibly use all of the quilts that get finished around here. So much better to see them being appreciated and loved than developing permanent creases from being left folded in unused stacks.

Still working on their guest room, but I 
love the look of a good quilt on a bed...
And though I've been plugging along with the baby quilt and trying to bring it to a close, these crossroad blocks have been nagging at me. It felt really good to get the circles cut into quarters and then re-stitched with the sashing strips. On another day I sewed all the 20 1/2" background squares together. Most of the fabric I use is from fatquarters etc., so piecemeal it was, getting a large enough square.

Crossroads blocks in progress
In and around our rainy fall days, we've been having the occasional gorgeous sunny day. I've been trying to make the most of that and finally getting around to cleaning up my flower pots and the little garden my daughter left behind. We'll probably be turning the garden area back into lawn and moving it farther away from the house next year. The more grandchildren we get, the more it seems obvious that it's time to replant our lawn and get some designated area for the grands to play. Just getting our front porch cleared off this summer and having it actually stay that way has been enormously uplifting to both my husband and me. We have a long ways to go, but lots of plans for slowly working on some problem areas in and around our house. We'll see what happens. Nothing ever moves quickly around here!

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Odds and Ends

I'm slowly getting a little bit of quilting done on Bullseye Medallion. I say 'slowly', because it seems like I've been skipping every other night lately. Oh well. At least there's something happening with it even if it doesn't look like much!

Hand quilting Bullseye Medallion
It's a long story, but the short version is that I got totally distracted by a squirrel last week. It started out with a mad dash through the orphaned/abandoned blocks totes and ended up being eleven doll quilts. 

Little doll quilts
These simple little orphan quilts were gifted during an annual harvest party {for the women in our church} early this week. The older women were having a lap quilt/throw exchange and I decided the littles needed something so they could have fun too. It made a couple of the girls sooo happy!
An opportunity to use up the elephant, kitty and bunny fabrics.
I ended up bringing three back home with me, so yay! One of my granddaughters will have doll quilts for the Cabbage Patch dolly pack I bought for her Christmas. The best part of the whole, three day funfest of making, was that I used up over 700" of leftover binding! Wallah! That tote closes ever so much better now....

Plowed through a lot of short pieces of binding
While that crazy squirrel idea was fun and a tiny bit gratifying, the underlying point was that I was definitely avoiding getting busy on the latest baby quilt..... Not that I'm dreading it you understand. 

Hst's for the wrench blocks
It's more that when a project suddenly becomes a 'have to', then sometimes I get a little stubborn about wanting to. Which didn't last long and next thing I knew, I was knee deep in marking, chain stitching, joining together the wrench blocks, and just generally doing what I was supposed to be doing all along. Just a short little journey until all the blocks got finished up, sewn together in {hopefully} proper color balanced rows, and thrown up on the wall for one last look-see.

I probably should have changed out the color in the centers
I folded over the top and bottom of the quilt thinking that would be preferable to making the side and top/bottom borders different widths. Just chop it off and have a nice, easy border fix. Nah. I could tell immediately what a horrible idea that was.

Applique prep is coming together
Today I finally quit fiddling around with different ideas and what-ifs and just made myself pick something. Anything. My daughter-in-law had laughingly said that if this baby turned out to be a girl, the quilt would need flowers all over it. Okay then. We'll at least put them on the borders! 

The side borders are 5" wide, so I decided to put larger flowers there. After a quick search through the applique parts and pieces tote, I started with one leftover tulip and a long length of potential vine. That gave me a starting place, but I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of tulips for ALL of the side flowers.  I really don't know why that look doesn't appeal to me for this particular quilt? It was a simple matter to grab some fabrics and cut out some very basic flowers to audition. And just that easily, I was satisfied.*sigh  Where's the manual? You'd think I could learn to fast forward past the fiddling and dinking around after all of these years....

The top/bottom borders will probably be lollipop flowers made with more of that vine length and whichever of the coral fabrics that look the best. I'm 99% sure that's the plan and yes, the vine is cut and ready to go. Gonna have to get the side borders all stitched down before I totally commit though. You just never know for sure how your brain envisions something and the reality of seeing it in right in front of your face! Right? I'm already feeling the buzz of pleasure that tells me I'm probably on the right track for making a sweet, but not too sappy little girls quilt. Lets hope the hand work goes along well as I need this quilt done by Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

One of the Baby Quilts is Finished!

This baby quilt was finished up right before I left town to spend time at my oldest sons in Oregon. Though it wasn't gifted until I returned home, it felt really good to attach the label and check it off the list.

Baby quilt finished up!
It has a sort of busy, young vibe to it, so hopefully will grow well with baby. My baby quilts usually end up somewhere around 42-44 inches wide and 46 plus inches long. Plenty of quilt to be used in a toddler bed.

My little brother has gotten more baby quilts from me.....
The long sashing strips are machine stitched in-the-ditch on either side and also around the peachy horizontal strips. Everywhere else is hand quilted very simply with #8 or #12 perle cotton. It's getting so very, very difficult for me to not add hand quilting somewhere. It just feels wrong! So you know me. I don't even bother fighting it. What's another couple hours with the hoop? hehe

Loving the texture
I passed this quilt off on the Sunday after returning home and the smile I received in return was sweet and perfect. Baby #5 gets to have a little something handmade from her A. Audrey and I know that means something to my sister-in-law. It's never worthwhile when it starts feel expected and unappreciated, right?

Just had to add the lime green, couldn't resist
In a nod to the fact that it was supposed to be for 'baby', I went ahead and used an old retro looking kitty cat fabric for the binding. As I've mentioned before, conversation prints look cute and all, but they just don't feel easy to work with. Most of the time I leave them behind in the store and think wistfully about how much easier to must be if only I could wrap my mind around the concept! 

A little bit of whimsy
I ended up being gone eleven days I think, arriving at my sons house the day before their newest daughter was born! Between the other grandma {who came and went everyday}, we kept our kids and granddaughters well taken care of. Lest you think we pushed ourselves onto them, we didn't. I would never have stayed so long without a genuine invitation of 'help'!

My precious granddaughters!
Getting a kindergartener off to school and picked up from the bus stop everyday, keeping up with the housework, plus chasing around a very active two year old is a lot of work for the grandmas, much less a recovering mama! Dad just switched jobs a couple months ago, so didn't have much time available to take off.

Miss Eleanor Olivia {Ellie}
I would say it was a hardship, but in reality, it was lovely getting so much hands on time with all my granddaughters. I hate that we can't see them more often. What a joy to snuggle a brand new baby, see a little girl getting ready for soccer practice with her daddy, watch the 2 year old slowly figure out that this grandma is completely wrapped around her little finger! So hard to say no to those sweet little faces! Also, our youngest son moved down to the same area about a month ago, so it was great to check in with him and see that he's doing well too.*sigh  Why can't they be happy living in the back of beyond like us?  Oh well. That's the way we were too. Couldn't wait to move away to a more populated area when we were younger! Super nice to back home though, as nothing is ever quite as good as home sweet home...

All the applique finished up and the blocks squared up!
As you can imagine, there was very little time for quilting. Once in a great while I managed to stitch some of the brown curved strips onto Crazy Daisy. This part actually went very fast and though I mostly stitched in terrible lighting {dim lights while the adults were watching tv}, I don't think any of it is so terrible as to justify ripping out. After I got home and got caught up on the laundry, I finished all the rest in a hurry and stuck a few blocks up on the wall. I played with a couple potential setting triangle fabrics, but my heart wasn't in it. All that will have to wait until the sashing is settled.

Online shopping just doesn't seem to work
out for me...
If you look at the picture above, the fabric on the left is the fabric that I went ahead and ordered for the sashing. The colors seemed perfect to me, so why fiddle around? In what now seems super ironic, the fabric that I ordered came in a much different look than the original fabric, very muted in contrast. Both numbers on the fabric were identical so I figured it must be a batch {dye} discrepancy. So I ordered another yard of the same fabric from a totally different store. Uh huh. Same issue. Which is why I so rarely try to buy the 'perfect' fabric on line. This never works out well for me and so once again, I have retreated to make-do, make-it-work with what you have method. All the strips for the new sashing are now cut out and read to go, all from the stash, which is what I should have done originally!

The start of a new baby quilt
So glad I didn't get started on the baby quilt for my new granddaughter before I left! This quilt should be a lot easier to put together now that I have a better idea what the nursery theme will be. I've cut out parts for simple 'wrench' blocks with the darker greens as the background. Hopefully they will go quickly and then I can lighten the vibe as things progress toward a border. 

My quilting attention is unfortunately a bit spotty since I've been home. Doesn't take much to get out of the routine does it? I'm finally starting to do some hand quilting in the evenings and remind my fingers what a quilting callous is. Surprise! {not really}, after a short break I am enjoying the hoop even more than before. Nope. Not giving up the hand quilting anytime soon....

Thankfully, before I left town, all the mending was finished up in a flurry and now that's one thing out of the way and off the counters in the quilting room. Did you think I never had any? If you are short like I am, barely 5'2", and tired of stepping on your jean hems? This tutorial worked well. I mean, like, amazing well! Someone told me about this method of hemming years ago and honestly, I just didn't think it could possibly turn out very nice looking. So I nodded at all the right moments and then promptly ignored their advice. I have been putting off hemming several pairs of jeans and finally, had no choice but to hem something, destroy my hems, or buy new. Yeah, right.

My old method of cutting off the bottoms of the jeans and turning under a couple times worked to shorten the jeans, but never looked as sharp without the original distressing and commercial thread used. After this hemming session, I did go back and do the extra hand stitching {mentioned at the end of the video} on a couple pairs of jeans, just so the hem doesn't flip up during washing. On one darker pair of jeans, I added an {almost invisible} extra, stabilizing top stitch, which... yeah, I can already tell was probably needed. Okay, why am I so excited about this? I have five pair of jeans now that fall exactly where I want them to at the top of my shoes? I'm not stepping on them. And the hem doesn't look obviously 'hand mended'. Do you know how rare that is for us short people? So tempted to go back and hem a couple of my older jeans as well, but I probably won't. I'd much rather be quilting!