Friday, January 22, 2021

Moving Love Apples To the Finished Quilt Top Drawers

So Love Apples is a finished quilt top now! It was a bit difficult to photograph because the peachy pinks keep reflecting back a dingy vibe that isn't nearly as apparent in person. Overall, I'm quite relieved and happy to see this one come about as well as it did. This is a block that I always thought should have another go-round after I finished with my first effort back in 2015. Just took awhile to get back to the idea!

Love Apples is a finished quilt top!

This time around I made the love apples a little fatter with squat little stems. Such a fun, antique-look block to stitch on, you really should try your own variation some day! If you plan of doing any hand quilting at the end of the project, I recommend cutting out the excess fabric on the back of each layer. Will makes stitching much, much easier later on.

It wasn't very fun pinning and sewing all the long rows together, but it definitely wasn't hard to do. I love that this quilt was started from the remnants of a previous border attempt. One that failed spectacularly, but also one that tugged on my heartstrings and begged for yet another chance.

A little bit retro looking perhaps?

The fabrics all came together from a marinating stack that somehow had just never clicked into place. Keeping to the original challenge of using up the improv. peachy pink strips proved to be a struggle at times. Often, I pondered simply kicking those pieces out and doing something completely different, but why? They were the point of the entire exercise! 

Happy vibes...

There are several stacks of fabric sitting about in my quilt room with various amounts of old yellow fabrics included. I have lots and lots of yellow and it's not something that I tend to use oodles of, though apparently I tend to buy and/or acquire? So... this was also a great project to see some of them find a good home. I like that.

Always fun to work with a new
color palette!

My energy has felt very low ebb in the last couple weeks so it's been easy to wander in and out of the quilt room and ignore all the lists. I pick up a project here, set one down and just generally gain very little ground on anything. So imagine my surprise when I found myself starting a brand new project?

Starting a brand new project!

Yah. Not sure how that happens, but I'm not gonna hide it away like a guilty secret. Around Christmas one of my daughters approached me about making a quilt with one of her old Summer dresses. It's a lovely, lovely floral fabric that really could/should shine in a quilt, but honestly, I'm feeling a bit inadequate for the task these days.

The first thing I did was gather a group of fabrics together and then I just sort of eyeballed them once in awhile when I passed through the quilt room. Hmm... Eventually I did a quick pass through Pinterest and subconsciously gathered ideas for quilts with large pieces of intact fabric. Oh, did I mention that we'd like to keep the floral pieces as large and uncut as possible? A couple rough sketches and finally one day I found myself trying to get started on the centerpiece. I ended up hand stitching the blue striped fabric over the top of the other fabrics, just so the floral didn't get cut into any more than necessary. There's still one more large piece of that floral left and several smaller strips. We'll see where the quilt goes from here, but I'm leaning hard towards a border of improv. strippy coins. Can't hardly go wrong with that, right? Thankfully I have 100% design control other than the 'keep the florals large please!'

Monday, January 11, 2021

Checking A Couple Things Off the List

The first thing that I wanted to check off the list of in-the-progress projects this year was the Christmas Bearpaw. I had cut it out in December of 2019 but didn't actually sew on it until December 2020.

Christmas Bearpaw quilt top

It was a project where using up more of the tired old green fabrics was priority. Also, I had decided it was past time to focus on gathering more Christmas-look quilts together. Why not have a whole stack to enjoy?

Completed quilt top

The quilt blocks went together very well. Tedious work, but not especially difficult or time consuming. Just worked on them here and there whenever the mood struck during the season. Finally it was time to sew the blocks together into rows. Initially the plan was to place all the blocks side by side sans sashing.

Auditioning the applique in the center

But that didn't work out so well because my seams were not totally precise and accurate.*meh  Oh well! It was no problem to dig around and find a fabric to use for sashing and thus create a little bit of breathing room to help disguise the humble stitching. Totally made my day when that sashing fabric ended up being cut-offs from previous quilt backings! Then of course I decided the quilt needed just a teeny tiny bit of applique.

My favorite block on the right bottom corner

As you can see in a prior picture, I auditioned it first and then pondered what the overall effect would be. Was it necessary? No. Did I like it? Mostly. Some would say the applique busied it up too much. How did I intend to use the quilt? Draped over a couch or directly in my lap during the holidays. Decision? Do it!

After the applique is stitched down

And that was that. Now I have another holiday quilt to hand quilt next year during the holidays if/when I get in the proper mood.

Yep! I'm keeping it like this!

I've also finally finished stitching all the applique parts and pieces down to the centerpiece of 'Coronacrazy'. Love, love, love the look now that all the seams are tucked under and everything is presenting in the proportion that it will remain.


This quilt is such an odd-ball creation, it still makes my head spin. Lots of ideas for moving forward but you have to know, there's probably going to have to be more applique included, probably on an outside border. I want to tell the quilt that there's plenty of applique already, but it's just not listening to me. Will be letting it simmer for awhile longer now while I contemplate and consider....

Loving all the details

Love Apples is the other project that has received some love here at the first of the year. It's just something that has been on the verge of coming together and suddenly I'm terribly impatient to put it into the finished quilt top drawers.

Nice to see progress on this one...

All the rows have been sewn together and work is being done here and there to move it along. 

These blocks should totally make the quilt!

There's always something in the air during the January month that motivates me to check things off the list and then.... start new. Of course. And why wouldn't we?

Monday, January 4, 2021

Looking Back at 2020 Quilty Accomplishments

Well, we're finally here at 2021. Whew! It's been quite the slog hasn't it? Frankly I am amazed to see so many quilts reach the finish line--17 in all! Somehow my expectations were that the entire year was a total dud, but maybe not in regards to quilting. I've been having so much fun checking out everyone else's 2020 makes, that I almost forgot to do my own end of the year wrap up!
2020 finishes (1)

I don't like to post the final year wrap up as a boast or a 'look at me' thing, but rather as a marker for scrutinizing where my quilt making is headed as compared to past years. Is my voice still managing to shine through? Am I creating unique and interesting quilts or am I just phoning it in these days? It's also my way of encouraging forward momentum. Seeing all of the completions together in one place reassures me that the previous year wasn't wasted effort. 
2020 finishes (2)

And on a side note, personally, I don't feel that anyone present with their quilting during last year was 'phoning it in', no matter what they made. At least it happened! Just maintaining a regular routine of playing with fabric kept many of us in the game and sets us up for more creative adventures in the future. That's a good thing. Creative flashes of brilliance are something to be treasured. Lets pave the way for more opportunity whatever our resources or limitations!
2020 finishes (3)

Could I have challenged myself more? Sure. If I would have had the mental reserves to actually push myself. Ha! As it was, I'm so very grateful to have had a hobby and craft where I could consistently lose myself in the mediation of hand work. Even if it was on the most simplistic quilt ever! I've talked and talked and TALKED about how important using my hands is to my overall {mental} health and well being. This past year brought that message home to me in spades as if it needed further underscoring...

So sad, depressing, irritating? to read back how wonderfully optimistic I was going into 2020 and know now that it would be more about surviving.*sigh  Are you tired too? I'm just exhausted. Clear down to the bone. Maybe my quilts will turn dark and scary as I work through so many emotional roller coaster rides, disappointments, and missing out on basic, ordinary human interactions. Nah... We're a resilient breed, us quilters. Gonna make all the cozy, cheery looking quilts that I can possibly churn out in the next 12 months! Count on it!

Here are the 2020 Quilty Folk details that probably only matter to me:
  • 5 Bed sized quilts finished up
  • 9 Lap size quilts
  • 3 Baby quilts
  • 8 of these quilts were completely hand quilted
  • 1 of these quilts was completely machine quilted
  • 8 of these quilts were a combination of both machine and hand quilting
Like always, there are quilts that grow tired of hanging out in the quilt stacks here and decide to go live somewhere else. 9 quilts were given away this year, some of them finished up or made especially for a special someone. I whittled down my 'completed' quilt top list to 22 {it was 23 last year}, and then one of my sisters handed off two older quilt tops that she was intending to drop off at Goodwill. Yup. I caved. Honestly, it doesn't feel like added pressure though. I'll get to them whenever. Without any sweat equity involved I could even potentially use them as quilt backings. 

What's 2021 gonna be like? Well, no promises of tutorials or anything like that. I'm usually doing pretty darn good to get in a post once in awhile here on the blog. Still going to be doing deep dives into the stash totes challenging myself to make something, anything? cool with the old stuff. Turns out that I love doing that, and the more it happens, the more interesting it seems to get. When I'm having a particularly unmotivated day, making a new fabric stack is a huge draw. Nothing lifts me up faster than an hour or so lost to digging for the absolute perfect fabric combination. Though I rarely find perfection, it's the tactile {and visual} hunt that thrills.

Applique has gotten fairly out of control around here lately. I'm literally shaking my head so much your screen is probably vibrating. Do I have any self control? With 9 open ended quilt projects in the works {totally normal for me!}, 8 of them involve applique elements or I'm currently scheming about how to work them in. gah! Who has the time? Oh, and 2 of those 'completed' quilt tops from earlier? Don't be surprised if a couple of them end up with more applique added on too. I continually keep pulling Big Kiss and Ormes Inspired in particular out, pondering the very best way to get the look that I keep thinking they need. It's my process. Guess I might as well own up...

So yeah, I'm not giving up nor am I giving in. Just gonna keep going with all the quilty stuff that blows my skirt up whether it makes sense to you or not. We'll probably be seeing more tulips and baskets on quilts, more series work, continuing efforts at a utilitarian and improv. sorta vibe, the occasional weird color palette, and yeah, lots and lots of other applique and hand quilting. Feel free to come along for the ride. I'll try not to bore you too much....

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Wrapping up the Giveaway and A Few Christmas-Look Quilts

The Giveaway for free Autumnal Tulip applique templates is now over and I'm totally caught up! Can you believe that I sent out 86 pdf's in all? Crazy. Definitely underestimated the lure of free applique templates! For those of you who requested a pdf and did not receive one, please email me directly. 

Quarter Triangles for the finish!

Quarter Triangles ended up being the very last finish of the year. I started the quilt with the idea of using up old tired green fabrics sometime last winter.
Loving this backing fabric

Then I found the Christmassy floral languishing in the bottom of a tote and decided the entire thing would be a marvelous Christmas-look throw! I'm never in the mood to work on Christmas quilts until the season so I'm always putting ideas off. Maybe later. And then later usually never comes....

Easy peasy throw quilt

It's not super exciting, but this one makes me happy. The hand quilting went very fast and the binding was found in yet more of those tired old green fabrics. Can't argue with that! I had a little bit of fabric bleed with the reds {I thought they had been properly presoaked!}, but they mostly rinsed out.

This one's mostly about the fabric...

Next up in the hoop is this funky looking quilt that I made based on a U & U quilt. I took the simple, utilitarian look quilt and multiplied the base of the quilt times four. Then I inserted my color palette along with the floral vibe and made it mine.

Love the not-so-perfect circles

I'm not exactly thrilled with the overall look of the quilt, but I do so love the soft, floral vibe to the end product. Having it in my lap for hand quilting just makes my heart melt and I'm charmed that these difficult florals finally found a good home. It's a quirky home, but it still looks and feels right.

And the applique ends up being icing on the cake!

And you'll be shocked and appalled, but I just had to add just a teensy bit of applique after all. The quilt was totally sandwiched and pinned {of course!} when I made the decision to go ahead. Why oh why does that happen to me? Such a difficult time to start adding on applique pieces to a quilt, but now I'm even happier with the quilt. Much, much happier. I guess it was meant to be!

Another Christmas quilt in the works

And then there's this quilt that has finally progressed enough to actually mention it here on the blog. It's another one that I cut out last December in the hopes that it would end up being another Christmas-look quilt. I've been piddling around with it off and on all during the month of December, but it's been very slow go. All the fabric is oldy moldy stuff that somehow ends up looking perfectly fine in this holiday themed quilt. Right? This particular quilt block has been on my bucket list for probably well over 15 years and I thought, why not? 

My seams are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination so I will probably end up sewing the blocks together with a very thin sashing. In my mind I'm thinking a plaid would be good, but we'll have to see what's hanging out in the stash totes. Not planning on spending any extra money on this one. Nine blocks are done out of sixteen! Might actually have a another quilt top done before the years end....

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A gift of Free Autumnal Tulip Applique Templates Thru Christmas Day 2020!

Autumnal Tulips is a true blue finish now! This has been such a sweet quilt to work on, I almost didn't want it to be finished up. How is it that some quilts start out so impulsively but then somehow end up being an all time fave?

The finished quilt

This is a quilt that has generated quite a bit of interest, here and also on Pinterest {not that I follow any of that very closely}. Surprisingly, a couple people have also requested a pattern.

A full view

Picture me scrunching up my face and making a 'who, me?' look and you know that's not going to happen. I'm terrible at making patterns, don't have the tools to do it properly and honestly, just don't want to take the time to fine tune all the details.

Looking closely

However, in light of the fact that it's close to Christmas and this year has been a total buzzkill, I decided to trace all the applique templates onto a piece of paper and save it as a PDF file. Just for YOU! Thank you to all my wonderfully supportive readers who stick with me through good quilts and sometimes, even the bad. I love you for that.
Crumpled quilty goodness

No, I can't figure out how to embed it into a post or load it somewhere onto my blog. After about an hour of trying I completely gave up. Techy stuff is so not my area of expertise and I have better things to do with my time right now!

Ready for a good snuggle!

So here's the deal. I'm offering you a Very Merry Christmas gift from Quilty Folk! If you want to have a copy of the Autumnal Tulips applique templates, leave a request in the comments below or drop me an email. It's that simple. I will attach the pdf file with my return email and then you can get started on your own version of this sweet, spunky quilt! Wouldn't it look yummy in pink and/or red poinsettia colors too? This offer is good through December 25th, but I might need until January 1st to get caught up on all the emails. Life is kinda crazy around here during the best of times!

A few notes to consider: 
  • This is NOT a pdf total quilt 'pattern', simply the templates for applique parts and pieces. Obviously they'll work better if you trace the shapes onto template plastic or freezer paper before using.
  •  This is not a huge quilt. My quilt ended up being 48 3/4" x 57 1/2" after being washed and dried!
  • There are 30-8" tulips blocks in my version. Cut the background fabrics out at 8 1/2" x 8 1/2".
  • I included a template for the stem, but it's actually easier to make a long tube of bias or not bias stem {either one will work here} and further cut to size in regards to the length. Cut stem fabric out at 1 5/8" wide in long lengths. Sew the lengths together and then further sew into a very long tube with an extremely scant seam. Iron the tube with the seam at the middle at the back. Cut 30 stems at approx. 4 1/4" long each.
  • Sashing and cornerstone squares are cut out at 1 3/4" wide.
  • Outside border fabric is cut out at 3 1/2" wide.
That's all the guidance you get, but I'm pretty sure most will be off and running with something amazingly unique and totally different from the quilt pictured! 

For the purposes of this giveaway, be sure to leave a return email in your 'request' comment. If you do not request the pdf file, I will assume you don't want it. Remember, blogger does not always play nicely with others these days, and a lot of comments can easily end up being 'no reply'. Even if your comments always made it thru to my email a year ago! What no-reply means is, I have no way to contact you! ZERO! If you have not heard back from me by January 1st, then it might be best to email me personally at audkateaster at gmail dot com. Crossing my fingers this actually works!

Monday, December 7, 2020

A Surge of Productivity

So nice to finally have Dried Flowers completely finished! This one was started in July of 2018 and has always felt like a sweet little gem of a quilt. I love when a quilt starts out with a whisper and then gradually morphs into something so much greater than the initial seed of inspiration!

Dried Flowers is completed!

This one originated from a thorough deep-dive through the orphan totes one day when the lure of working with cut-out-from-the-backs-of-other-applique seemed especially enticing. At that moment, all I really wanted was something quick and easy to start stitching on.

Looking across the quilt

Once in awhile I don't bother to draft out a full quilt idea and just plunge straight into the making of blocks. For this one, I first layered the circles and then later, decided what to do with the flower 'body'. The colors to this quilt were chosen on the fly, all very much based on those original circles and what might emphasize them to the greatest degree.

The full effect

After that, the whole quilt just sort of fell into place piece by piece as was needed to properly move on.  The strings were decided on because I love cutting/sewing improv. strings and I felt they would be a good relief block to the formality of the flowers. It also gave me opportunity to further play with some old, tired fabrics, something that {surprisingly} continues to be of interest to me even still today. The decision to make the applique rows pointed instead of just chopping them off at the same width as the rest of the quilt was partly a coping strategy and partly true serendipity! How could I ever have imagined the totality of this quilt in my head before starting to see the pieces emerge right in front of me?

Why don't I applique interesting leaves
more often?

I personally adore the stringy improv. blocks alternating with the sweet pea look to the flower blocks. It comes together as very quiet and soothing looking, with pops of what I like to call  pure deliciousness! Add in the hand quilting and the texture jumped up to a whole 'nother level. Love it!

Can't get enough of these flowers...

In case you had any doubts whatsoever, I am seriously thrilled with the end result of Dried Flowers. It feels like a good me quilt and I'm so very glad for impulsively deciding to start stitching those circles together on that day!

Hoping it looks sweet and girly enough!

In a spontaneous surge of productiveness, I also cut out, sewed and machine quilted a basic looking quilt for the brand new great-niece. Honestly, I was scared to wait until later in December as it might never get finished! The Fons & Porter 60 degree pyramid triangle has been lurking in my drawer for years and this seemed like a great way to test it out. I have had ideas for making another quilt with that same ruler but somehow never have managed to make the first cut.

Lovely to use up some of these fabrics

This entire quilt would have looked loads better if I had taken the time to cut smaller triangles for just a few of those solid triangles. {Hanging my head with chagrin just a tiny little bit.} Wouldn't it have given it lovely depth? Alas, this was one of those quilts where the saying 'done is better than perfect' kept looping through my brain. Best to whip it out and get it gifted. Expending too much of my precious creative time on something that only has to look 'cute and girly' doesn't sound like a real winner in the long run. I have important quilts to work on!*wink

Baby quilt for the new niece

Did you see the periwinkle fabric that I ended up including in the baby quilt just because? It's been hanging out in the stash totes for a million years and never, ever plays nicely with any other fabrics.  And you know me, just because I was in a tearing hurry doesn't mean there's not sufficient time for a wee little personal challenge...

Quarter Triangles quilt

And here you go for those that keep track, the 'Next Up In The Hoop' quilt is this Christmassy Quarter Triangles one. I totally forgot to take a picture of it until the top was sandwiched and pinned, about to be folded up in the quilt bag. The top was finished up in January of this year after I went on a Christmas quilt top sewing binge. This particular quilt top was also a So-Tired green fabrics challenge to myself. Lots of oldie moldies got whacked up and included in the mix for this particular making! The other quilt top is prettier, but this is the one that felt perfect for sliding into the hoop and burning through for a quick finish. Yes, I could definitely have tried to machine quilt this quilt without ruining anything about it, even with my paltry skills. The thing is, I need uncomplicated right now for the hoop business. Pick it up, settle into stitching and not THINK. Sounds like my happy place right about now!

Monday, November 30, 2020

From One Phase of a Quilt to the Next

Next up in the hoop is Autumnal Tulips. As most of you know, there is a lot of quilt tops to choose from and most times, I can't even tell you why the current top is chosen. Not the case this time as the seasonal look evidently drew me in! I was hoping to have this top completely quilted by the end of November, but that was a bit overly optimistic. What can I say? My head generally works much faster than my hands...

Autumnal Tulips next up in the hoop

Since I'm hand stitching primarily over the top of the applique pieces, the quilting is a bit tedious. Definitely not able to employ the rocking stitch quite as much as I'd like to! Overall the vibe feels very pleasant though and I wouldn't change this quilt out for any other!

Getting in some good progress with
the hand quilting

The quilt project below, Big Basket #4 finally saw some love in the past couple weeks. All the applique was cut out and pinned to the background, just needed some stitching. Now it's ready for me to address the next phase of the quilt whenever the proper mood strikes. I'm thinking about random sized appliqued 'pear' blocks in a surround border. For some reason that element sounds super intriguing at the present. We'll see. For now, I'm just playing with fabric and pondering.

Big Basket #4

Another project that I was itching to make progress on was the 4-Block Tulip Medallion. It has quite the old fashioned vibe which makes it very fun to take it out of the project tote. There's just something about the fabric blends and colors that make me melt. The scrappy make-do borders needed to be sewn together {tho not onto the quilt!} before I could even start to get serious about the potential applique work. I've drawn up a mock-up for the tulip baskets envisioned in my head and now it is just a matter of getting the pieces drawn up to size and then translated into the most impactful fabric/colors. This step will probably take awhile as other projects keep getting in the way.

4-Block Tulip Medallion

On a whim one day, I decided to go ahead and cut out the first part of a brand new project. This fabric has been stacked up and marinating together for probably well over two years. My concern is that the fabrics will start to look dated if I don't get moving on them fairly soon.  There are just some fabric pairings that appear to have an expiration date attached! You know that I didn't actually go looking for something new to start. Oh no... Me? Why would I purposely start a new project when I already have so many in the works?
The new project

The inspiration came from an old quilt book and is deceptively simple looking. I fully intend to use more oranges than the original quilt shows and also, add some brownish purples. No applique planned at this time, but of course, anything is possible in the future. My quilts definitely have a habit of getting bossy and starting to demand things that I never, ever intended! For this project though, I'm thinking the biggest draw is the fact that it should be a great change-up from all the other projects needing hand work. Maybe if I keep telling myself that??

Inspiration from an antique quilt

The Melon Patch quilt that has been in the works for years and years suddenly took a big detour. Last June I had stitched the melon parts to this point. Not entirely happy with them, I nonetheless determined to forge ahead and in fact had finally placed them at the head of the applique project list. After spending well over an hour trying to get started stitching my first block, I just gave up, ripped out all my stitches and went to work figuring out a different solution.
Freezer paper template for Melon
Patch background

Honestly, if I hadn't spent so very many hours layering the applique parts, I would have just tossed the whole kit and caboodle. They don't look like what I wanted them to look like and quite frankly, I've fallen out of love. Yeah, I'm kinda stubborn though, and now it's become a challenge of sorts. Late that night, just before falling asleep, I conjured up an idea which involves stitching these petals into 'chains'. After that, I will further stitch those chains onto perhaps a burgundy colored background? and then into a row quilt.  So that's the new plan of attack and all the next prep work is ready to go. Whether it will look good or not is totally up in the air, but regardless, I won't be any more disappointed than I already am!
Melon Patch Rows

Of course, that was exhausting. And because I was such a good girl {not ditching the entire project forever}, decided it was time to reward myself. Why stich on the problem child when something else sounded like so much more fun? Coronacrazy is the applique project that has been most loudly calling my name of late. Quite shamelessly bellowing for attention actually! Anyway, it was altogether too easy to fold the Melon Patch project up and move it totally out of sight once again. I can only console myself that it has NOT been neglected. Merely left to marinate and simmer until we all reach a better conclusion!

This Coronacrazy quilt looks a little bit busy for one of my quilts doesn't it? I still don't totally understand the pull of this particular, oddball project and I'm not sure that I ever really will. The charm seems to be partly in the fact of using up so many abandoned applique parts and pieces, but that's not the sum total. When I start stitching, there's such a feeling of accomplishment with each new added element, I can't even explain it. It just feels good.

Starting on the bottom right side and moving up

For this particular year, it seems especially smart to work on at least SOME projects that lend themselves to joy. Right? If it ends up being a crazy hodgepodge mess in the end, oh well. Maybe I can turn it into a body pillow cover or something!

Enjoying the quilt on the bed

Thanksgiving was a little quieter here at the home front this year, namely the fact that we did not get to see the grandkids. Very sad. Hopefully we'll get to see them at Christmas! We did have a niece staying with us and I quite enjoyed visiting with her and of course, getting an occasional glimpse of the quilt on the guest bed.*wink  

Lots of family gathered at mom and dads this year {per their request} and many of my siblings came and went throughout the entire weekend. Lots of new happenings including a brand new great-niece {10 1/2 lbs!}. They had Thanksgiving with just immediate family though I did end up spending half a night helping out with the baby just before the holiday and lots of friends/family helped by dropping off food. My youngest sister and children recently, unexpectedly moved back into the area, other extended family were off checking out another state they fully intend to move to, our youngest son is working out of state until lockdowns are lifted here in Washington, we had to get two brand new appliances {why do stoves break down at Thanksgiving?} and on and on. Most of the normal Black Friday shopping was done online and a few ventured out in support of the struggling small businesses. This year seemed to be very tightly focused on being thankful, having good conversations and inhaling lots of food. 2020 has changed many of us in a myriad of ways, some for the good and others, unfortunately, for the worse....