Thursday, March 23, 2023

A 2023 Finish!

 It's the first finish of the year! Yoohoo! All washed up and nicely crinkled, just like I prefer them.

This was an Adhoc Improv. challenge involving string piecing and tulips. I didn't actually do much string piecing {only in the tulips}, but challenged myself to use a difficult stack of fabric instead. There's something about these particular tones of blue that I've always balked at using and they were starting to pile up!

First completed quilt for 2023!
That's the problem with me and challenges. Sometimes the challenge itself doesn't end up being what kickstarts my brain and I end up having to do a little end run around it to even get started.

Loving the outside border
Oh well. This stack of fabric had been simmering on my counters for a long time and needed some tender loving care. I ended up having to go back into the totes and add more of the blue just to make the quilt large enough. Nice way to pare down the problem fabric though. Don't you like all the odd fabrics that I've thrown into this quilt?

Looking across
If you were to ask me, I'd say the quilt has purple in it, but no... it really doesn't. The periwinkle blues mixed with the pink just trick my mind into thinking there's purple included. I set out thinking this was a guaranteed 'give-away' quilt, but somehow while working on it, I sort of fell in love. There's just something so sweet and spicy about the orange, pink and blue together.

A close up of the border stitching and binding
That last applique addition of the mixed salmon pink basket handles wrapped the quilt up so nicely! And the pink and white Hawaiian print fabric used in the border makes me smile so big. How could I have found anything else that would have worked better?

The 25-Patch top is done!
On a different note, the 25-Patch HST quilt top is finally sewn into a top now. It looks better to me after adding on the sashing strips to the outside.

Got a slightly childish vibe
Though I intended to use a lot of cheddar on the outside, the quilt had other ideas. Boohoo.

Must be the crayon colors!
I'm satisfied overall with the random placement of hst's, but I can't say this was an easy quilt to put together. Mostly I tried to balance overall instead of block by block.

Does it look vintage-y at all? Hmm.. Maybe not.
Whether this ends up being the front of a quilt or the back is the real question! We'll see. I'm super happy to have used up some of these languishing fabrics in such a carefree looking top, so there's that. Over and over I find myself amazed by how much potential the stash totes truly have. Still. After a couple years now of digging and digging and digging through them....

Thursday, March 16, 2023

A Stitch a Day Makes the Fidgets Go Away

It's been a busy couple of weeks. We had to leave town for a couple days to attend a cousins funeral and then last weekend, our grandkids came to visit. Yay! We're always up for that. Plus, there was a bridal shower for our new-to-be daughter-in-law. Wedding the end of April in Oklahoma! And our oldest daughter is expecting their first child. So very exciting. Shaping up to be one of those years. I almost turned the commenting off on the blog 'cuz I've been such a terrible blogger lately. It's all I can do to throw up a post once in awhile, much less, properly keep up with postings elsewhere.

Ormes Inspired getting some attention
I feel like the hand quilting has been massively neglected this year and it's been hard to get back into the regular routine of things. It's just one of those things where progress tends to happen very slowly. Then, little by little, that steady bit of effort {several evenings a week} can add up to a whole lotta by the end of the year! The current quilt in the hoop is getting the overall 'stacked hills' stitching treatment and I'm finally, finally closing in on the second row up from the bottom. This is a quilt where I wanted the stitching to mostly stay in the background. We'll see how it looks when more of the top is finished! So far I'm really liking the look and I'm usually fairly indifferent at this point. Crossing my fingers! 

Piddling away on the Hourglass Improv. quilt
Quilting time has definitely been a bit sporadic lately, but so have my moods as per which quilt project seems most interesting to work on. The hourglass quilt is to a point where all the larger hourglass blocks are stitched and now all of the smaller ones are sewn into 4-patch hourglass units too {didn't get a picture of that}. Time to lay it out on the design 'floor' and see where to go next! I just like to make sure auditioning time is mostly distraction free so I'm biding my time waiting on the perfect moment.

Making progress on the 25-Patch HST
I've also started sewing the 25-patch hst quilt blocks into rows. This project feels a little 'meh' at the moment. All the crayon color vibes are getting to me I guess. It's my own fault for trying to make it larger than the inspiration picture though. Just doesn't have the same look and feel as I was intending. Will have to look at it again later when it's all put together and see if my opinion changes any.

The start of Old Fashioned
A couple brand new projects are popping up around here for some reason or another. The cutting phase is getting close to being finished for the old fashioned yellow quilt. It's been a good excuse to use up more of the older fabrics that have been languishing in the stash totes. Don't know why exactly, but I have such a fondness for good cream fabrics. Always have had which means there is always an abundant supply on hand. Really hoping that these mellow yellow fabrics shine with the cream backgrounds and very simple design that's been chosen. Have you ever heard of the Crown block? That's what's happening here. Probably on point, but we'll determine that much later. For now, just need to get the blocks sewn together!

The start of Peace Always
Also, there just isn't nearly enough applique work prepped and ready to go around here. Makes me a little bit antsy! I gave into temptation, grabbed a marinating stack of fabrics and started in on the details. Quite an enjoyable afternoon pondering the exact shape that was needed for a basket, flowers etc. This quilt will be called 'Peace Always' and will be yet another medallion quilt. 'Cuz you know there's never enough of those! And they are so much fun to put together, playing around with all the interesting options available when making the quilt one row bigger. And then another row bigger until the quilt finally screams 'Enough!'. Well, maybe not a scream exactly. It's more like a very firm 'We're done now. You can go away'. Right? 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Progress on Several Fronts!

It was a good week for quilting around here. The #AHIQTulipQal quilt is finished being hand quilted and the first phase of binding is already sewn down. I didn't expect to like the wavy stitching in the outside border so much. Just has adds a bit of whimsy that funnily enough, makes me like the quilt better!

Binding all ready for hand stitching
The next quilt in the hoop is 'Ormes Inspired', an impulse quilt started clear back in 2019. Most of the work was completed in the early days of the Covid lockdowns and finally, the bulk of the quilt top was finished up by May of 2020. Later on, I went ahead and added the word at the bottom of the quilt and that was that!

Ormes Inspired getting sandwiched and pinned
This was probably the trickiest all over applique that I had ever attempted to do for a quilt. It still boggles my mind that most of the placement was done by eyeballing positions and sort of working backward from large motifs to much smaller ones. When I go out on a wing and a prayer with the quilting efforts, I just don't know when to quit! Oh well. Look where I ended up! On a totally different note, this was supposed to be my January quilt in-the-hoop and thankfully, it has been sandwiched and pinned since sometime in early December! 

Almost ready for the hoop...
One of the things that I really wanted to get accomplished in the past week was to work on the 25-patch HST quilt. I was crossing my fingers to get to 'completed quilt top stage', but count myself fortunate to at least see progress in a serious way. This picture below is a stack of all the completed blocks. They are trimmed to size and nicely stacked into rows according to the layout that was deemed appropriate one late, late evening

A little nerve-wracking to be working on a quilting project so late in the day as occasionally my judgement does gets a bit impaired. There comes a point in most all layout auditioning sessions where we are just DONE with all the what-ifs and what abouts. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean! There's something here in this particular layout that is still bugging me but not enough for a do over. For now I will sew it together and just wait to see if or where things might have went sideways. It's not like it's a precious quilt with tons of hours wrapped up in the decision making or stitching. Who knows? It might just end up being a quilt backing some day. 

Getting ready for sewing
A couple more applique blocks finished up with the Herbs and Berries quilt. I'm still really enjoying the laid back feel of these blocks. And since auditioning seems to be in the cards this past week, I went ahead and rearranged the blocks on the wall to make way for potential sashing. Because this quilt was always meant to have sashing and I wouldn't dare try and cheat it out of what it expects!

Auditioning for Herbs and Berries
Another thing that caught my attention almost immediately since getting back into the quilting room on a regular basis? This orphan block project {plus fabric pull} from almost a year ago. There has been the odd, random moment of trying to gain traction, but somehow it never amounted to anything solid. So easy to  just give up and walk away rather than feel like I was beating my head against a brick wall.

Hourglass Improv.
The thing is, I have this idea that will NOT go away. It haunts me. There's a longing here that feels kind of important though the entire project itself has felt overwhelming. Or totally underwhelming? Boring at times. Or maybe just a hair above my creativity level? And I'm so tired of that particular mental block. What a waste of time and energy to go there and think things like that. Uggh. 'I'm not good enough.' Seriously, what's the harm of trying? 

So here I go, mentally picturing something about making an 'intentional' background piece and then perhaps absolutely going over the top with a big 'ol applique design. Nothing formal of course. There needs to be lots and lots of glorious imperfection in order for me to properly connect with the flow. If there ever actually ends up being one. Somehow I rather suspect that part will come fairly rapidly if the irritating background would ever get busy and properly manifest itself!

Here's the latest plan. Instead of trying to put the smaller abandoned hourglass units together first, {as seems perfectly logical but wasn't getting anywhere in almost a year}, I will now switch to making these slightly larger hourglass units first. A small but important change that looky, looky! is translating into sewn units and good things happening!! Then.... I will most likely try to puzzle piece the new units with the smaller ones until there ends up being a largish, potential background piece. I may have to make more hourglass units than what are currently cut out. No way of knowing how many will be needed! And this process will probably include having to incorporate various pieces of gray, beige or white/cream fabric into the layout as well. Hey, whatever gets the project moving forward, right?

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Diving Back into the Deep End

It felt like a slow start getting back into some sort of quilting groove. My brain was very foggy and I struggled to focus properly. Looking at my quilting list just caused instant blankness and a general apathy toward all current projects. It was really quite sad.  Finally, I had no choice but to start a brand new project.*wink

Herbs and Berries quilt project
Well, in all honesty, this was sorta, kinda started back in late fall. I've had the stack of fabric forever and even had things narrowed down to a basket quilt idea in terms of design. Sometime during the end of November, I remember cutting out the nine background pieces of fabric, roughing out a couple basket shapes on freezer paper and then putting it up to percolate for just a bit longer. The main thing holding me back was trying to decide which fabric color to use where. 

Anyway.... when I couldn't deal with any of the current projects here in the past couple weeks, I fell on that project like a drowning sailor. I mean, it was so obvious that the baskets needed to be cut out of the darker cranberry red fabrics! Right? And it was a very soothing project to hand stitch on overall. Very easy to pick up or set back down, nothing jarring or too demanding in wanting solutions for further design dilemmas. Perfect project and place to pick for a 'restart'.

Then, much to my surprise, the 'Revised' quilt started popping into my head once again. Hmm... what if I did this, or that? All those holes in the puzzle of how to fit the loud, obnoxious tulips together in a somewhat harmonious way began to slowly make sense. And I found myself getting the blocks finished up to a point where they could be laid out on the design wall floor for further design work. I played and contemplated and just generally enjoyed the feel of healthy creative flow. Ah! Where have you been my old friend? I've missed you so...

The brighter yellow fabric stack
While the sewing machine itself has barely been used of late, I have definitely been in and out of the quilt room. Mostly to pull out stacks of marinating fabric and take a good, long look. Refamiliarizing myself with old ideas and wisps of some sort of concept that may or may not end up being something wonderful. In all my overdue blog reading the past couple weeks, I stumbled upon this little snippet that greatly resonated, 'I have this constant tug, a yearning even, to just dive in and sew without a plan.  There are so many styles I want to explore, so many fabrics I’d like to combine.  I feel a pent up energy trying to break free.' Isn't that just the way it is for so many of us? That was from Hopeful Homemaker, a quilt blogger who I've followed for a couple years now, enjoying her unique outlook about quilting, creativity and life in general.

The mellow yellow fabric stack
As most of you know, for several years now, I've been slowly addressing overflowing stash totes in various colors. Yellow has been the latest and greatest to gain the spotlight. In July of last year, the Adhoc Improv. blog that I follow along even had a timely challenge concerning my over abundant color. But did that help? Nooooo. It simply paralyzed my thinking completely. Because now I was thinking 'improv.' and super creative and interesting etc. etc. I kept trying and trying to get a good group of yellows together, but every time I thought 'this is it!' then, basically nothing would happen with any of the fabrics or ideas or glimmers of greatness. 

Okay, long story made a lot shorter. After being sick for so long and then coming back into the quilting room looking around at everything like a newly hatched bird? I have come to the conclusion that I need to make a very basic, mellow looking yellow and cream quilt. Old fashioned looking and sweet as can be. Ditch the brighter yellows for now and then sort of work up to something that includes a more creative and interesting thought process. This feels like a breakthrough, a keeper of a plan and I'm actually sort of excited about it! And, wouldn't you know it, as soon as I decided on the plan {with the more mellow yellow fabrics that I'm currently crushing on}, and then tucked the brighter fabrics away? I stumbled upon the perfect idea for the improv. challenge. Or at lest the beginnings of the challenge! All you can do is laugh at that point. It's just too funny. 

But I'm still committed to the idea of making the more traditional, older looking quilt first and then diving into the improv. one next. A sequence or series? I really, really like this. Better get crackin-alackin' on getting those blocks cut out though before I lose the spark for the rest!

#AHIQStringTulip quilt in the hoop
I also managed to get enough hand quilting done {on the current quilt in the hoop} to finally reach the outside border. Whew! I was starting to think my get-up-and-go might be gone for good. As you can see, I'm stitching a wide echo stitch over the top of the basket handles. It gave me a bit of anxiety about overall look and vibe, but now that I'm on to the second border, it's looking pretty good to me. Am crossing my fingers that this quilt will be totally hand quilted by the end of February. Just feels so, so crazy that my first finished quilt of the year will probably be accomplished in March. I don't even know how many years it's been since that has happened around here!

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Very Belated Look at Finished Quilts From 2022

It's way late to do a end of the year wrap up post so if this isn't your thing, please feel free to move along. It's mostly for my own records anyway, since quilts tend to get lost in the shuffle if I don't keep track. Last year ended with a respectable 15 quilts totally finished up. Not my best number, but definitely nothing to sneeze at. If I wouldn't have gotten so sick, there would possibly have been another to add to the list. Apparently it wasn't meant to be!

2022 Finishes (1)
As per usual, I find myself reaching for a mix of applique quilts to put in the hoop and then, maybe a totally machine pieced quilt just to change things up. As the years go by, there seems to be less and less quilts without some form of applique involved in the making. Hmm... I wonder what that says about me?

2022 Finishes (2)
I always keep a master list of completed quilt tops which is supposed to have the projects listed in order of completion. This helps ensure that I don't end up neglecting a quilt top well beyond the point of being impossible to drum up interest in quilting on it. This list is, of course, cheerfully ignored at whim. Mostly tops are pulled out of the drawers depending on whatever color and mood {or vibe} that I'm currently searching for. Or if a quilt is destined to be gifted. Sometimes that moves a quilt top up to the top of the list in a hurry!
2022 Finishes (3)
Quite to my surprise, the quilt top list shrunk last year--down to 20 unfinished quilt tops! And two of those tops were given to me by my sister a couple years ago, so really. They don't even hardly count.

So..., the 2022 Finished Quilt details:

  • 7 Lap Quilts
  • 7 Bed Quilts
  • 1 Comfort Quilt
  • 9 Quilts completely hand quilted
  • 5 Quilts mixed hand quilting and machine quilting
  • 1 Quilt completely machine quilted
  • 8 Quilts gifted, gently used or newly finished
Towards the end of the year I had quite a few ideas and goals for the winter quilting efforts and going into this year. All of that has been turned upside down and now I really don't know if I'm coming or going. I had to cancel the winter quilting meetings at our church after losing the entire month of January. Thankfully, everyone seemed very understanding. Am finally starting to feel somewhat normal again, but am still not at 100%. Have only left the house five times in fact since this all started, but I'm getting there! Which, frankly, is a huge relief. I'm asking everyone to please give comment amnesty for past posts. Have so appreciated the kind comments, but did not have the energy most days to try and 'catch up'. 

Cheddar fabric
I also wanted to give a shout-out to Lizzy at Gone to the Beach blog. She has a very charming blog that I have followed for years and years. At some point this winter, she had offered to send me some pieces of cheddar colored fabric to help out with a specific project where the stash totes were seemingly lacking. By the time we had made proper connection, I tried to tell her that I was actually currently too sick to be working on any quilt project. She insisted, I couldn't resist and these fabrics have been such a joy to me just to look at, even if only wistfully in passing. Really, really sweet of her to share fabric so generously! 

Still haven't done anything meaningful with that project yet, but you know me. It's only a matter of proper time and focus. If I have any big plans for 2023, it's to take time, try and be mindful and not be in a big rush to check things off a list. Thanks to all who keep checking in with the blog. I'm not ditching it, I promise! {Though the posting might be slow for a bit.} I am reading and trying to catch up on quilting blogs now and finding myself missing some older blogs that have totally drifted away. There are a lot of things still needing my attention before I can dive into quilting at full throttle and well, guilt free? At least I am slowly starting to get in a bit of hand work most evenings. Have missed it so very much.... 

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

In the event you've been wondering where I have been, it's nothing overly serious at the moment, just a bad case of bronchitis. Apparently I was more run down than any of us realized and so... it just seems to be something that won't shake easily.

I was pretty sick for awhile, but now am just mostly doing the coughing thing that will NOT go away. After trying to hand quilt off and on for a couple weeks and just over-tiring myself, I finally just took a break from it all. So sorry for being MIA on the blog browsing and commenting etc. All I am doing at present is trying to fully recover and not drive everyone in the household stark raving made while doing it. Sitting around twiddling my thumbs, taking extra care with my health and being 'patient' {so as to regain some strength} is definitely not one of my stronger personality traits! Will probably still be off-line for another couple weeks so don't worry if this takes awhile or I don't return a message. And just for the record, this has been a lousy way to lose some of that weight that I've steadily been gaining for the past several years....

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Closing Down 2022

Well, 2022 is going out with a whimper. I got sick the week before Christmas, barely pulled it together in time to enjoy a few good days with family and then, bam. Relapsed and now, probably bronchitis. Uggh. In my defense, it was super, super cold here for those weeks and I probably overdid things for the holiday.

All finished!
Anyway, real quick post here. These are my last finishes of the year! Moody 9-Patch which was started clear back in November of 2020. You can check out the antique inspiration on that post if you like.

Looking cozy
I worried and worried about how to hand quilt the large sashing pieces, but in the end, did something super simple. You can obviously see it better on the brown tone on tone fabric than on the floral.

Maybe not the best hand quilting?
But it's done, all done....
The entire quilt was machine quilted in-the-ditch between all the blocks and then the hand quilting followed after.

This one has a very rich, warm look to it
It was a great this particular quilt laying across my lap during these cold winter months! I'm thinking it's close enough to the original inspiration to make me feel happy and yet, not so carbon copy as to be boring.

Our adorable granddaughters
Here's a quick pic of a pile of puppies kiddos we found by our tree on Christmas Eve this year! Such a joy to have grandkids. Wouldn't trade it for the world!

Vintage T is a true blue finish!
And here is the very last finish of the year. If I hadn't machine quilted this late in November or early in December {I so forget the details now}, it would have never happened. I got my machine back and wanted to test out the dual feed thingamabob right away. Works perfectly, thank goodness!
A slightly older look
I ended up putting the binding on in little pushes of effort while sitting around being a couch potato. Still am doing that in fact. Just trying to get better every day.

Machine quilting for the win!
This isn't my fave quilt ever, but I'm very pleased with the way I was able to use up some of the oldy moldy orange fabrics languishing in the stash totes. Playing with these colors was hard. The look and feel of the quilt is definitely not as joyful as some others that I have done though the years!

Loving this soft looking finish
The backing was a mishmash of anything that was big enough to throw together and make into the proper size! I haven't had to buy backing now for almost two years with the last two fabric donations from my family. That is coming to a screeching halt though as the found pieces are getting smaller and smaller. 

Calling this one'Revised'
One other thing that I've been very slowly working on {everything has to be couch work these days while I huff and puff and/or cough}, is the #AHIQColor Palette challenge. I'll share more of the inspiration details over at the AHIQ blog some other day. For now, this has been a lifesaver having it mostly prepped and ready for hand stitching. Happy New Years to all!