Autumn Jubilee 2020 DONE!

I don’t know about you, but I feel great when I finish a project. My Autumn Jubilee 2020 quilt (pattern by Carole Carter – https://frommycarolinahome.com/2020/10/30/autumn-jubilee-quilt-along-assembly-and-finish/ ) is officially finished!

If you are looking at the link for the pattern above, you have to look at several posts on Carole’s blog to get the entire pattern. I did add my own spin on the final border which I shared on my post here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2020/11/15/autumn-jubilee-2020-quilt-along-update/

I started this quilt as a weekly sew along in October 2020. If you have been following my blog you will remember that I got Stuck in the Middle while quilting this in November. Just yesterday, I reported on my progress. The quilt has been languishing on the frame, unrolled since then. This week my good friend, Nancy, came over and I asked her to help me “re-roll” it. It really takes two sets of hands, and she is SO patient, doing exactly what I was asking as we rolled it back to the starting position. I did find another “row” of quilting that needed to come out, and that took me about an hour. I was able to “get my groove going” and re-quilt the areas where I had the tension problem from the disaster of November. I have a little mantra going in my head…..“tighten the roller…..side clips…pull the bobbin thread to the top….PRESSURE FOOT DOWN…..and glide….”. That seemed to help me remember what I need to do. I was able to get the quilting done and get it off the machine and trimmed up to take for “show & tell” at my quilt bee on Tuesday.

Next came the binding! I had the stripe fabric set aside for this quilt and pulled my bin of green fabric to find the “right shade” to go with the stripe. As I mentioned in my post previously I make my binding using the Susie’s Magic Binding technique.

Binding is waiting
Binding ready to attach

Before I could attach the binding I wanted to make the label for the back of the quilt. I like to catch two edges of the label in the binding to save me some hand sewing time.

Quilt label done
Label made on my Janome 11000 embroidery machine

I used Embrilliance Express (free program) to type out the wording for the label. I also used the built in block lettering, and added a slant, in the 8″x8″ hoop.( Do you remember my angst with the embroidery on yesterday’s blog post about puckers?….this one came out perfectly)! I think it had to do with the “weight” of the fabric, as the one with the verse was rather light weight, and this green fabric was good quilting cotton. I did make a point of “pinning” my stabilizer around the hoop, a trick I learned from videos on Kreative Kiwi. If you are interested, take a look at this video, around the 1:27 point. Pinning around the hoop makes a HUGE difference with heavy designs that might pull and pucker.

Once the label was finished at the embroidery machine, I added the yellow border fabric. My method I use for having a nice label edge is to use a lightweight fusible pellon. I put the “glue side” of the pellon against the “pretty side” of the label, and stitch all around the outside edges. Then I cut an opening (a big X) in the pellon, and turn the pellon to the back, smoothing along the sewn edges, and clipping the corners. I roll & finger press that seam to get a nice sharp edge. Then the label is ready to FUSE to the back of the quilt. It takes a lot of heat from the iron to get through the thickness of the label/stabilizer for the glue on the pellon to stick. I move the iron around quite a bit so it doesn’t scorch the fabric, but I spend a few minutes working it. I do this for 2 reasons. I want to not fight with the label and a lot of pins while putting the binding on and I don’t want my label to be too easy to remove. I learned this method from a Pat Sloan video when she was making circles for applique.

Almost done
Binding going on

I use the TQM Binding tool to join my tails. It can be a challenge with the two color binding, and I tend to “baste it” and adjust the join several times before I get it lined up just right. The TQM binding tool helps with the measuring of the angle/space etc. Jenny Doan at Missouri Star has a great video on how to use the binding tool and how to join your ends.

Because the binding is all done by machine, goes fairly fast. I tend to take a few breaks while binding, so I break it up in steps. I tell myself you can have a break after the binding is on the back of the quilt, before the join! Then when it is time to join the ends, I come back to it “fresh”. I also like to press my binding once it is sewn to the back of the quilt, towards the edge of the quilt…then it is time for another break. I take it back to my big work table and use those wonderful little clips to roll the binding to the front and secure it. I have enough clips to go all around the quilt. And I take another break before winding a bobbin to match the back of the quilt and finding a thread that will work on the front to topstitch in the ditch of the green flange. With all those breaks, I still got it finished in an afternoon, including the time needed for the embroidery of the label. I got finished just in time to go make dinner, and still had enough daylight for a photo out on the grass.

Autumn Jubilee 2020 done
Autumn Jubilee 2020 finished.
Finished project Autumn Jubilee 2020
Just need to hand stitch the top and left side of the label. The bottom and the right side are stitched in when the binding was attached

I brought the finished quilt into the kitchen with me, and while my dinner was cooking in the air fryer I got the hand stitching of the label started. The quilt is now “officially done” and ready to go into the washing machine with a few color catchers. I can’t wait to see how it crinkles up! I know some don’t wash their quilts, but I love the softness it gives the quilt and after all the time being dragged around it deserves a nice washing!

Do you get excited when you finish a project? I hope my tips for label making and links to binding methods are helpful to you.

More fun with Scraps

I’m still “dancing” with the Scrap Dance Pachanga mystery quilt by blogger Carole at From My Carolina Home. Last week was Step 7 in the mystery. We got the instructions (still available on the blog) for Block A. It was fun to put some of the bits and pieces from previous steps together. Here are my blocks.

Block A Scrap Dance Pachanga 2021
Block A Scrap Dance Pachanga Mystery Quilt

This block used some of the 4 patches, 2 patch rectangle units and some of the half square triangle units. It was fun to play around with the colors and try to balance them out a little bit. These blocks went together quickly. I am doing the throw size this year. (In the past I have done the king size for most of the Scrap Dance mystery quilts).

Next step comes out on May 14th and I am looking forward to what we do with the other units left in my project basket.

I was inspired by my friend Nancy to do a bit of “cleanup” in my sewing room. She & I were working through some donations for the quilt guild, sorting and organizing. Alright….Nancy was doing all the sorting and organizing and I was playing with the scraps, trying to save as many as possible. One donation I picked up in March came with a bunch of plastic drawer units. These units had been stacked up all over the place in my garage, and needed to be emptied of the contents. As we did the emptying, I realized these drawers would fit just under one of my cutting tables, and might help me better contain my own scraps.

New scrap storage plan

Since the guild is not currently meeting, and storage space is at a premium here, I sold those drawer units…..to me. We usually sell this type of thing for at the guild, at a “fair price”. Because they are bulky to transport and store, I often sell them for considerably less than what you would pay for them new. (If I have to drag them to a meeting to sell, I don’t want to drag them back home !) We probably won’t meet until the fall at the guild to sell anything, and I decided I “needed” those draws! I guess I can always “donate” them back later if the system doesn’t work for me. But, for now….I am happy~!

I took all the scraps that have accumulated for sorting/trimming and sorted them by color into the drawers. Previously, these were piling up in an open basket stacked sorting system and it was starting to overwhelm me. In the process, I also emptied out a “laundry hamper” of scraps, and cleaned my cutting table.

Cleaning up the cutting table
Cutting table is cleaned!

My cutting table has been buried in stuff for a while, but now, the big baskets are projects, and the smaller ones are things I still need to trim. I unearthed several things I set aside for later and gave them their own big basket. A couple of bits ended back up on the design wall for inspiration.

leftover blocks
Inspiration pieces

I really am inspired to turn that big block with the checkerboard border into a pillow. The house blocks are leftover from a class at the guild, and I want to keep making some.

During the “scrap sorting” I set aside a basket full of “leftover block/units” for crumb quilts.

I busied myself for a couple of days, inspired by Pat Sloan, making crumb blocks. You might recognize some of the pieces in the crumb blocks below from the big block above. That center house block may come out and end up on the wall with the other houses too.

I never “got to the bottom” of the crumb block basket. Really I just skimmed the surface and have made about 25 blocks. I will have to find a cohesive way to put them together and turn them into a quilt at some point. Meanwhile, they have been assigned to their own project basket and I moved along to something else.

I had lots of scraps to work on for the guild, things that were donated. I set a timer and worked on them for one hour, and got them all ironed.

Now that these small pieces are ironed and sorted by color and general size, I will trim them up. If they are of a size that I can price and sell at the guild meeting then they will get folded and priced. There were a lot of “fall colors” and I think I see a nice “bundle” coming together.

Speaking of fall colors, you might recall back in November I mentioned I was “Stuck in the Middle” of quilting my Autumn Jubilee quilt. This is another pattern by Carole/From My Carolina Home. Thanks to my friend Nancy, this past week I was able to FINALLY finish the quilting. It has languished on the frame for 5 months, all while I picked out poor stitching. The quilting is now DONE! The quilt is off the frame, trimmed and ready for the addition of the label and binding.

making binding
Binding for Autumn Jubilee

The binding will go on fairly quickly, as it is all done by machine. The main color of the binding is the stripe, with just that little green flange showing on the face of the quilt. The method I love is called Susie’s Magic Binding. I love sharing the link to Aunt Marti’s 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks blog. It is where I first saw this type of binding and the directions are so well written, along with a subsequent video. I was a fairly new quilter when I learned this method and love to share with others. The “hardest part” of the method is joining the two ends, and I just recommend you take your time, use a basting stitch to make sure you have a nice alignment. I know with a stripe pattern, some may not be happy with diagonal stripes not aligning, but personally, I am not worried at all. Time to go make my label and next blog you will see the finished quilt top!

Speaking of labels, I finished and attached two more for the Senior Quilt project I was working on. The volunteers at church got together and tied the quilt two weeks ago.

Emily's quilt
Tied and ready to trim
Senior Quilt labels Emily
Modified a label from Kreative Kiwi

I used a label from Kreative Kiwi and eliminated the line where you might hand write the name. I inserted the names using fonts from my software.

Senior quilt labels 2021

The verse on the back of the quilt was digitized by Designs by JUJU. I’m not happy with the stitch out on this label, too many puckers but I figure it will have to do on a deadline. I am certain I had stabilizer pulling in the hoop as the stitch-out took place. I think once the quilt is washed and all that stabilizer “softens up” and the quilt crinkles it will not be so noticeable. I guess if you aren’t a machine embroiderer it wouldn’t matter, but it makes me a little nuts when I see that puckering.

I had to do a little bit of machine quilting on that quilt before putting the labels on the back. Our group tied the quilt, but the borders needed more “anchoring”.

adding some quilting
Stitching in the ditch and in the borders on Emily’s quilt

I used my walking foot and did a serpentine stitch, stretched to it’s maximum length on the yellow and blue borders, along with some basic straight stitching in the ditch along the borders. The wide backing came from Marshall’s Dry Goods (Batesville AR). If you are ever shopping for wide back, they are my preferred location, with quick service, and great prices.

Time to get busy and make that label for the Autumn Jubilee quilt and get the binding on. It is going to be a hot sunny day, and the pollen count is very high, so I think hanging out in the sewing room with the A/C running will keep my allergies in check.

What’s happening in your sewing room this week?

Playing with Scraps

This has been a lovely relaxing sewing week, playing with two scrap projects.

I worked on Step 7 of the Scrap Dance Pachanga Mystery quilt from Carole’s blog, From My Carolina Home. Steps come out on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, so I was a few days late getting mine done. This was an easy step for me as I love making half-square triangles. Some people don’t but I do. I like that they are sized enough to “trim” easily. I use the June Tailor Perfect Quarter Square/Half Square triangle ruler when I make mine.

small half square triangles PACHANGA

We now have quite a collection of elements for this mystery quilt, but still have many pieces left for future “steps”.

Steps 1-7 Scrap Dance Pachanga

I am resisting the urge to play with the elements. Banished to the basket to await the next step coming at the end of this week!

I continued to play with the scrap basket that I took on vacation. I have made quite a few more “Traffic Jam” blocks. This time I picked the 2.5″ squares out of my never ending basket and put together lots of combinations. I’m up to 24 blocks made. I had to “trim” these blocks to 12″ as some of the ones done on vacation were a tad “wonky”. I think some of that had to do with 2.5″ squares that didn’t quite measure up, or fat seam allowances.

Traffic Jam blocks
Traffic Jam blocks

The pattern is available on Pat Sloan’s website for free. I love doing scrappy quilts. I also like to see what others have done with the sashing and borders on Pat’s website. If you take a look you will see all different ways this block is finished off into a quilt. I haven’t quite decided how I am going to sash it, but I am gathering ideas.

I am using a bit of the Bonnie Hunter scrap saver system for my bits and pieces. I seem to have a lot of scraps that need to be “cut up” into that system, but I am lazy about doing it. My sewing space has gotten cluttered and it is time for a bit of “clean up”. Do you save scraps for projects? How do you collect and store them?

Edit — forgot to add this — Linking up to OH SCRAP! If you like to work with scraps, check out all the fun things others are sharing there!

A New View for a while….

This past week I went on a little trip with my husband, and two daughters and their families. After being confined to our homes for the last year, we all needed a new window to look out of. The daughters came up with the idea of a “safe” vacation, using a vacation rental home. They researched and located a wonderful lakeside home in Littleton North Carolina on Lake Gaston. All ten of us went, and with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and lots of extra spaces, there was room for everyone.

One thing I packed for the trip was my featherweight sewing machine and a few “essential” sewing items. I picked out a basket of 2.5″ squares from my scrap saver system, added in a bag full of 4.5″ squares, and a Pat Sloan pattern called Traffic Jam. It is free on her website as a PDF pattern download. It is a perfect project for scraps.

I set up my sewing machine on a covered patio, with a view of the lake.

Sewing on the patio
color choices

It didn’t take too long for some helpers to appear. They liked matching up squares in pairs for me to sew.

Traffic Jam
Fun with red white and blue

I sewed what ever the two girls handed to me. I managed to have “help” a couple of times when I set up my machine, and even got the five year old sewing a bit (or so she though). She and I did a little “pressing” using my light weight travel iron. I find it amazing how well she listens to instructions and concentrates on the task. The grandma kept fingers out of harms way during the sewing and the pressing.

I didn’t sew “every day” on the patio, but did manage to get 5 blocks made (with a little help from the 2 girls).

Making pairs
Vacation blocks
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There were lots of other things to do, like walking and bike riding and sitting on the dock. The kids all had their turns in the kayaks, and on the fishing boat one of the guys brought along. There were nerf gun battles, campfires, and toasted marshmallows, and lots of sitting and enjoying the view. I did some English paper piecing with my 1 ” hexi’s and I saw some napping and knitting happening, along with card playing and a lot of wine drinking.

caboose La crosse
The Tobacco Heritage Trail

We took a 5 mile bike ride on The Tobacco Heritage Trail starting in LaCrosse VA. It was a beautiful paved trail and great for all age cyclist.

We also explored (by car) the Roanoke Canal area. We first went in Weldon to River Falls Park Trailhead and could honestly not figure out where in that park the trail began. But, if you need a good fishing spot, that would be a great one, along with a boat launch.

We then went back towards the Roanoke Canal Museum, and talked to a docent. He pointed us to the trail leading towards the Roanoke Rapids Dam. We hiked for about a mile and a half. Neither of us was prepared for much more than a cursory exploration of the trail. I was hoping to come back the next day with our bikes, but we decided it was more suited to a mountain bike than our hybrids. A hard pack dirt trail with lots of exposed roots, and very narrow in spots, just better suited to a mountain bike. In the process of exploring that river and trail, we got to do a little “railroad rail fanning”. We could never find a great place to stop for photos of the old trestles and bridges, but along our routes were some great old bridges and industries. Hubby is a train fan, so this exploration was suited to both of us.

We had fantastic weather all week. On Friday we got up to a pollen overload, but we hosed things off and were still able to use the outdoor spaces. As we sat out on Friday afternoon on the dock, we watched the pollen explode out of trees across the lake. If you click the link, you can see the clouds of pollen burst forth in the video –https://photos.app.goo.gl/E676RCSVpjEXgiQK9

Even with the pollen on the surface of the lake, the docks and the tables, the weather was too beautiful to stay inside the last day of our trip. We even enjoyed the thunderstorm that went through after dinner and all of Friday night. Hubby and I were glad that we had already done the bulk of our packing and loading for the trip home before the storm. We got up on Saturday to a beautiful day, and most of the pollen on things was washed away. I was amazed that my allergies didn’t go nuts, and I will attribute that to my daily dose of an antihistamine and liberal use of eye drops!

We had a wonderful time away from home, and enjoyed ourselves. This type of trip was perfect during this time of when we have all gotten a little weary of the restrictions. We were safely together, and didn’t really encounter a lot of strangers like you might in a hotel or resort property.

Have you ever done any sewing sitting “outside” ??

What’s going on in your part of the world with the vaccine? I’m going for my 2nd shot this week. Delaware just opened up to ages 16 and up, so it looks like everyone who wants a shot can sign up and get one.

Senior Quilts, circa 2021

Every year since 2008 I have worked on quilts for the high school graduates of my church. Some years we have had half a dozen or more. Our biggest year had about 13 or 14 quilts. Last year we had just one graduate and this year there are only 2 graduates. When there are so few, it is easy to have a little more fun and make the quilts very unique.

Working with fabric donated for the purpose, my partners in quilting came up with an idea for this quilt together. The grandma of the graduate is a quilter and provided the fabric and some of the sweat equity in the construction of the quilt. We got together and cut out the fabric and then one member of the group stitched all the half square triangles. We got back together and cut the units apart, pressed and squared them up, and laid out the design. With three sewing machines going, we got the rows together quickly. I brought it home and joined up three sections and added the borders and photo’s and verses. Then we got together again and tied the quilt with white crochet thread. I decided it needed some quilting in the borders to finish it off. I added a verse for the back and a special label. Ordinary times the members of the church would leave messages of love and faith and sign the quilt. Since that isn’t possible this year we put more verses than usual on, along with the special label.

Christopher's senior quilt
Verses for Christopher
Serenity prayer on the back of the quilt
Label for Christopher
Quilt label on the back of the quilt
Isaiah 40 31
Isaiah 40:31
Proverbs 19 20
Proverbs 19:20
Jeremiah 29 11
Jeremiah 29:11
church photo
A photo of the church goes in one corner

All the bible verses were digitized by Designs by JuJu along with the Serenity prayer. The quilt label comes from Kreative Kiwi. The photo is printed on fabric. The binding is ready to be put on. I prepped the binding using the two border fabrics, using the method I like best – Susie’s Magic Binding.

binding for Christopher's quilt

One of our group will be doing that in April . The red border fabric and the backing fabric came from Marshall Dry Goods. They have lovely quality fabric and a reasonable price for wide backing.

Our second quilt is a bit more complex. When the mother told me the student liked all shades of blue, I decided to get a little “scrappy”. We had a church member donate a lot of fabric a few years back, and I have had my eyes on this lovely butterfly fabric for a long time. I found a stack of 5″ squares in the stash she donated that were all shades of blue and they were perfect.

Blocks in Emily's quilt
On the design wall.

I thought an alternate block using the Square in a Square would bring out the blues of the butterflies. I used the Jodi Barrows Square in a Square ruler, and “option 2″ for the alternate blocks. I was able to dig out plenty of interesting blue fabrics from the donated stash, so there are lots of shades of blue in the blocks. I worked on these blocks at home during February and finally got it put together in March. These are 8.5” blocks.

Emily's quilt partially assembled
Webbing together the quilt top

Once I had the blocks together I decided it needed a border, and looked to the scraps that were trimmed away when squaring the blocks up. Using my favorite Bonnie Hunter method, I made a pieced border using phone book pages cut to width. I made a narrow inner border out of yellow and the wider blue scrappy pieced border. I decided to measure my border lengths, and stitch the yellow and blue border together before attaching to the side of the quilt. That made it so easy, and I only had to struggle with getting the large quilt through the machine for “one” border. I made certain to stay stitch along the edge of the border before attaching it to the quilt as well.

Senior Quilt 2021 for Emily
outside on the lawn

The lighting wasn’t great when I took this photo outside, and the yellows do fade away. The color is more true on the design wall photo. This quilt has the church photo in one corner and just one verse in the upper right. I’m still working on the embroidery for the back of the quilt, the label and an additional 2 verses.

The backing fabric is on the way from Marshall Dry goods, a lovely royal blue in 108″ width. I made an error when I selected the color for the backing and the original order was too turquoise. There is a bit of turquoise in the quilt, but i wasn’t happy with it for this project, so I reordered. I will put the turquoise to work on the back of something else in the future. After the Easter break my quilting group will get together again and we will tie this quilt as well. I will probably do a little stitch in the ditch around the narrow yellow border just to secure things. As with the other quilt, there is a church member who has offered to do the binding on this quilt.

This year was a challenge to get together for a group sewing project because of COVID-19, and the work responsibilities and health issues of some of our regular quilters at church. I was so thankful to the two ladies who worked together on the red & white quilt, and the willingness of two others offering their help binding the quilts. It is nice to have willing workers and it takes the stress off when I have to keep things organized. So far we are “on time’ for these quilts and I imagine they will be presented in May to the graduates during a service.

That’s it for me for March! What’s going on in your sewing room?

Scrap Dance Pachanga Update

I’ve been working off and on getting the various units done for Scrap Dance Pachanga, a mystery quilt offered this winter/spring by Carole, at the blog From My Carolina Home. I’d forgotten to update my progress, so prepare for photo’s.

My last update was on Clue 3 – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2021/02/21/cold-february-days/ when we made a bunch of two patches.

Since those cold February days, we have done Clue 4; which was background bars with 2 patches.

Clue 4 Scrap Dance Pachanga
Clue 4 Scrap Dance Pachanga

Then in mid March we were on to the next step; Clue 5 — lots of half square triangles!

Step 5 Scrap Dance Pachanga
Clue 5 Scrap Dance Pachanga

Then, just this past Friday, Clue # 6 came out – 4 patches

Step 6 Scrap Dance Pachanga
Scrap Dance Pachanga Clue 6

So, now I am once again caught up with you on these clues. I’ve enjoyed working with these bright fabrics. There are still lots of pieces we cut in the very beginning, and I have it on good authority that we will progress towards completion before it is time to open the swimming pool for the summer. Don’t these look like bright summer colors?

Here are the completed units thus far –

Scrap Dance Pachanga
Steps 1-6 completed

The next clue will be out on the second Friday in April, and it is NOT too late to get started and catch up. I am glad I decided to go with the throw size (48×60), as I have some other projects still in the works.

Since that “cold February” post we have been experiencing a wild array of spring weather. Rain, thunderstorms and some 70 degree (f) days and some nights still at the freezing mark. The daffodils are in full bloom out in the yard. I’ve labored a couple of times getting leaves out of the big flower bed, dead heading the sedum and uprooting the wild cherry trees that have tried to take root. There are endless hours of yard work to be done, but I can’t do it more that every few days. Thankfully the hubby has a little trailer that hooks to the back of the riding mower, and I can fill it with debris from the big flower bed. Saturday’s work required him to empty it 3 times of the leaves and debris. My legs are telling me today how hard I worked! But, at least now I can admire the daffodils, and see signs that the tulips are coming up.

IMG_20210327_175405390
Rescued from the flower bed

I love looking out my sewing room window and seeing all the bright daffodils. We have so many varieties and I brought a few inside yesterday. I have to be careful where I put them when we step out of the house, as one of my cats enjoys a nibble and they can get very sick from eating the leaves and the flowers. I guess it is better to just leave them outdoors to enjoy as I drive in.

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March blooms

I still have many more hours of work to do out in those beds. I liberally sprinkled PREEN around the three sections I worked in. I still need to clean up where the iris come up and the asian lilies bloom. I’m not sure if my hostas and azaleas survived the winter.

We have two trees in the front yard that MUST come down in April. We have put it off long enough and need to suck it up and call a professional in for the work. ($$$$$$) One died at the end of fall in 2019, and keeps dropping dead wood. So far it hasn’t taken out our main power, and we pick up the dead branches and haul them away. It was a walnut tree that made us quite sad to loose. The other was a much smaller maple out near the road. Just yesterday, as we sat on the porch watching the traffic, we pondered our beautiful old sugar maple and wonder how much long she will last. Hopefully a few more autumns to enjoy the glorious color it gives. 2020 was a bust for fall colors, so I hope it isn’t a sign!

I do enjoy the view out my sewing room window. What’s happening in your sewing room?

Hello March!

I just could not wait for February to disappear. It always feels like the longest month at the end of Winter. It’s still cold here in Southern Delaware, but at least the sun is shining. Next week things are warming up and we will be out of the “below freezing” at night! Hoping for just one last winter delivery of home heating oil in the week ahead.

Now that the weather is better, I have been venturing out more often to my sewing room. I did a project in February for a birthday gift, but couldn’t really post about it until the package was delivered. Sent it out via USPS priority mail on Feb 19 and it FINALLY got delivered on March 3. So much for 2 business day service! At the time I delivered it to my local postal clerk, I was told it will be there on Tuesday….My package got “lost in transit” between Philadelphia PA and Santa Barbara CA between Feb 24 and March 3. I finally entered a “lost package query” on the USPS website, complete with photos. I did that on March 2nd, when the package was a full one week overdue. Magically, it arrived and delivered to the residence on March 3. So; I can quit wondering what happened and be happy it arrived. The recipient and I chatted about bandits holding up the stagecoach and wishing the pony express was carrying this precious package!

Here are the contents of the very travel weary parcel-

tea time placemats
Two “Tea Time” placemats (Embroidery design by Sew Sweetly . com )
"Tea Towels"
3 Tea towels with machine embroidery design by designs by JuJu Tea Time Applique DBJJ313
Tea Time coasters
2 Tea Time Coasters – machine embroidery design by Sher’s Creative Space

Each of these projects was a lot of fun to make and my recipient is a “known” tea only drinker, and I thought she would enjoy them for her birthday. All of the designs were done in the 5×7 hoop.

I’m sure if they never showed up I could “redo” them, but I would have to dive into the fabric bin and find something else almost as cute as these fabrics. Most of the applique bits came from my never ending bin of scraps that I save specifically for embroidery machine applique. I had just a small piece of the “chicken wire and chicken fabric” and could not repeat that if I had to. I am SO glad the package finally showed up.

The tea towels were “Aunt Martha’s Retro towels” that I purchased last year from Oh My Crafty Supplies . They are available in other places, and are currently out of stock at this vendor. These are my favorite dish towel to embroider on. I have found them at WalMart in the craft section in the store & on line, and on Amazon. They start out at 18×28, and I ALWAYS prewash in hot water for maximum shrinkage. Boy do they shrink, but they are a nice “usable” towel for drying glassware and china. They are durable and will last for many years, unlike a lot of the “flour sack” towels others like to use. I like the size and the loop in the corner, and even though they look so cute with the embroidery, they are usable and functional. The more you wash them the softer they get.

While I was having fun with machine embroidery, I got busy with the verses that go on my church quilts for the high school graduates. I send all the parents to Designs by JuJu website and have them select verses for their graduating student. So far, these are the ones I have stitched out. Special thanks to Designs by JuJu for digitizing so many Bible verses and offering them for free. I am always pleased with the quality of the stitch out and Designs by JuJu’s gift helps me with this ministry at my church. This year, there will be “more than one” verse on each students quilt.

verse for senior quilt
Verse Christopher's Senior Quilt
Emily's quilt verse
Christopher's Quilt

These verses will go in the corners of the quilts we are making along with a photo of the church, which I print out every year on fabric. I am working on assembling one of the quilts, while there is a group working on another.

I have all the blocks made, the quilt top laid out on the design wall to my satisfaction and have started putting it together. I was so blessed to participate in two day long ZOOM quilting days last week and got a lot of stitching done. I have half of the quilt “webbed” together and just need to stitch the 10 rows together, then join it with the right side which is all ready assembled.

Emily's quilt partially assembled
Emily’s quilt

I used the Jodi Barrows Square in a Square ruler, option 2 for the alternate blocks. I like the way the corners make star points if you squint one eye. All the fabric for this particular quilt was donated by one of the church members when she cleared out her sewing room.

Blocks in Emily's quilt

The student likes blue, and I am planning on a blue border, using the same fabric as the wide backing.

The quilt for the other student is very striking as well. His grandmother purchased all the fabric, including the wide backing and is participating in the construction. One volunteer stitched all the half square triangle blocks, and we got together to starch, press, cut, starch, open and press and trim last Saturday. The previous Saturday we worked on cutting out the strips and squares needed for the project.

Blocks for Christopher's Quilt
Christopher’s quilt

This two color quilt will also be quite striking and we are planning on using the same red as the backing for the borders. Both quilts are using 8.5″ squares. With half square triangle blocks you have endless ways to layout the quilt and one of the volunteeres liked this particular pattern. It made her think of the marching band going across the football field in formation. Perfect for this musician.

I’ve ordered wide backing for both quilts and it will be nice to work with. We won’t be quite ready for another week or two so I’m hoping the USPS does a better job with the shipment of that fabric. These two color quilts are very fun to work with and are so different from what we did for the last 12 years. When there are only a couple of grads, it gives us more time to be creative. Normally we alternate a print block and a plain block and allow for space for the congregation to sign the quilt. But, this year, like last year; that isn’t possible, so we really wanted them to stand out. I will make a nice label for the back of the quilt on my embroidery machine as well to let the student know that the quilt was made especially for them.

I did one little embroidery project for my quilt guild. In December we all received a piece of fabric in the mail, and the project was launched. It was called “Ask” to Reconnect Us Project”. Each member was provided an 8″ square piece of fabric with which to create a finished block that reflects you as a quilt maker. I left my square pinned to my design wall for almost 2 months, and then, at the eleventh hour, I got busy and came up with a plan. I found one of my favorite embroidery designs, called Sewing Friends available at Kreative Kiwi. It is a free set and has several adorable Sewing designs. I used scrap fabric for the embroidery and the provided turquoise for the strips around the center square. I don’t really have a name for this block because it didn’t come out exactly like I had planned, and I had to adapt and regroup. I do like how it finished and I think it reflects my enjoyment of machine embroidery along with quilting. That pink came right out of the scraps that were used in the quilt I made in January for Stella. (More about that project on https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2021/01/31/a-finished-small-project/ )

Block for OWQG
Ask to Reconnect us project.

That should catch you up on my cold February sewing and embroidery work. I did work on my clue for Scrap Dance Pachanga, but the units need to be pressed, so I will save them for the next post.

What is happening in your sewing room?

Cold February Days

Never doubt that little ground hog they call Punxsutawney Phil (https://www.groundhog.org/ ). Back of Feb 2, 2021 we were told “6 more weeks of winter”. I think no matter where you live in America, you will have to agree that the old ground hog called it right this year! While we have had a total of 4 days “above 50 degrees” so far this month…it is the COLD days we remember the most. We have had 11 days where we never got above the high 30’s, and only one night above freezing. We have been inundated with rain, sleet, ice and a sprinkling of snow. And yet, in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, we are fairly lucky to be on the warmer end of things on the DelMarVa peninsula. On Saturday (Feb 20) I went for a drive, and just 14 miles north of us, there is still ice in the branches of the trees in the forest that lines the highway.

Thankfully, the coming week is a turning point in our weather with much warmer weather and today is our last COLD day! Nights will still be cold for the next couple of weeks, so we are reminded it is “still winter”.

So what have I been doing? A lot more cooking to be sure. I won’t bore you with a lot of photos, but just know that the Emeril 360 Air Fryer I blogged about recently is getting a workout every day.

Cooking with Grandma

My youngest granddaughter (4) arrived one morning with an agenda. First up was getting her nails polished, which she is showing off here so cutely. Second up was to bake something. She does love to crack eggs and whisk them in a big mixing bowl. We baked a cake while she was here. (It was in the food photos above)

I’ve done a bit of hand sewing too during the cold evenings. Some days have just been too cold for me to want to venture out to my sewing room or too icy, so I was lucky to have my English paper piecing bag in the house. I usually save working on these hexi’s for sea days on a cruise, but that is another subject! I had given up on hand stitching at home because the cats want to pester me the minute I thread a needle. The night I worked on this double diamond I had to fend them off mightily, but I did win. I actually got two done in the course of two evenings. It is something to keep my hands busy while watching t.v.

Hexi hand work

Another project I have been working on is clue 3 for the Scrap Dance Pachanga Mystery Quilt brought to you by the blog FROM MY CAROLINA HOME (See the link above). This was an easy clue that went quickly, because every thing had already been cut during clue#1.

Clue # 3 Scrap Dance Pachanga
Clue 3 Scrap Dance Pachanga

While all of the above has been going on, my “over 65” friends are seeking out the vaccine from local providers. We are a very small state, with a population just under 1 million (974,051 according to the state website). Our state has a website where you can track what is going on (https://myhealthycommunity.dhss.delaware.gov/locations/state/vaccine-tracker#vaccine_tracker ) with the vaccine. So far we know that 176,959 doses have been administered. No way to know if that is first & second dose. We can also see that there have been NO doses delivered in Delaware since Friday, Feb 12th. I have friend who have had one shot, some who have been scheduled for a second shot.

17% of our population is OVER 65 (data source – https://myhealthycommunity.dhss.delaware.gov/locations/state/community-characteristics). That’s 165,588 people in our state over 65. So, one would hope every over 65 has gotten at least one shot. NOPE. My hubby is registered on the waiting list and still hasn’t been “INVITED” by the state. He gets lots of emails from the state, but has yet to be scheduled, and I know others who are still waiting. I signed him up the first day they had an online registration. I am in what they call “group 1C”, as I won’t be 65 for a few months, yet have “underlying health conditions”. So, I will patiently wait my turn, but will be in line when my turn arrives. Hard to even forecast when that will be if the state isn’t getting any vaccine delivered. The state is blaming vaccine deliveries (https://www.delawarepublic.org/post/state-announces-delay-covid-vaccine-rollout-focuses-second-dose-delivery ) Not sure what is delaying other than “demand and weather”. I thought the “new” president was going to speed things up, but you can look at the above graph and see how that worked out for yourself. This week, there are second doses being delivered – and I am scratching my head at how “excited” the state is. On the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services Facebook page, they posted ” Day 1 of Delaware’s second-dose COVID-19 vaccination event at the Dover International Speedway is underway. With the assistance of FEMA, DEMA, and other local partners, the goal is to give second-dose vaccinations to 3,000 Delawareans each day for the next six days.The Dover International Speedway’s event is by appointment only and all spaces are currently full”. I comment that I thought 18,000 shots in 6 days is a pretty low goal to have when we have 165,588 over 65 year old people.

According to one source “Phase 1c, scheduled to start in March, includes people 16 to 64 with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, such as diabetes, chronic lung or heart disease, and cancer; people in high-risk group settings, such as homeless shelters, prisons and group homes; and essential workers in other fields. The rest of Delaware’s 50-plus population becomes eligible in Phase 2, which is expected to start in mid-April.” Source – https://states.aarp.org/delaware/covid-19-vaccine-distribution .

Curious what is happening in YOUR state? What are you doing to stay busy during this cold weather? Are you looking forward to any changes as the vaccine rolls out?

Review of Emeril 360 Air Fryer

I jumped into the Air Fryer craze in early January. My younger sister has one and enjoys using it, and I’ve been reading about how they cook etc. A “you tube vlogger” that I follow, David Abel has been doing videos of how he is cooking in a healthier way using the air fryer. Both my sister and David have a “bucket style” air fryer. One day, watching one of David’s vlogs a commercial popped up for the Emeril 360 Air Fryer. That set me on a day of researching the wide varieties available. I have seen the bucket style on the shelf at our local warehouse store. Another sister of mine has a NUWAVE induction cooking device she uses when she is working.

I ended up choosing the Emeril 360 because it does have more “room” inside. It is the size of a small microwave / large toaster oven. Getting that extra room inside means using valuable space on the countertop! It is also a “MULTI FUNCTIONAL” unit. It has air fry, toast, broil, bagel, bake, dehydrate, slow cook, rotisserie, roast, pizza, reheat and warm function.

DIMENSIONS — The Emeril 360 is 16″ deep (including 2″ for a handle near the top that sticks out at an angle and a bump out at the back). It is 19″ wide and 10.5″ high. There are vents on the sides and the top and the back.

The unit I purchased on Amazon came with a drip tray, a pizza rack, an air fryer basket and a baking pan. I have since ordered an additional air fryer basket from the Emeril website….still waiting for it to arrive.

The chicken in the photo is in the air fryer “basket”. I read about using parchment paper with holes and ordered the 9″ square pieces from Amazon to try them out. The mesh of the air fryer “basket” is a small grid and the parchment saves some scrubbing. The pizza and the donuts and sandwich are on the pizza rack. (It looks just like your regular oven rack).

Cooking in the air fryer – for me, it is similar to cooking in my large wall oven, except it is FASTER, and heating up a much smaller appliance. My number one reason for purchasing the air fryer was healthier cooking (ignore the pizza and donuts) – less fat than pan frying. Typically I would either bake chicken in the oven and pan fry pork chops or fish or steak on the stove. I can tell you, I have been very successful with cooking all of those things in the Emeril 360 air fryer. And the pizza and donuts came out pretty good too.

COATINGS/Breading – When I started looking at how people were cooking in air fryers, I saw a lot of “breading and coating” going on. I have to be careful with my carbs, so I only use breading and coatings occasionally. I also am not going to be cooking things I wouldn’t ordinarily cook (like fried pickles), so I am keeping it simple and really just cooking as I would ordinarily, except much more efficiently. There is a huge difference in time and flavor. I typically cook chicken thighs or drumsticks, and in the photo above I just used seasoning. What I have used for coatings are things that I use on a regular basis.

House Autry Fish fry coating
Cod ready to cook
Cod Fish with coating.
porkchops
Pork chops with seasoned panko crumbs

pork chops and tater tots
Pork chop and tater tots (my veggies were in another bowl)

I’ve also used just Panko bread crumbs with season on pork chops to mimic “shake & bake”.

I also use the same brand of chicken coating. I tend to mix my coatings with Panko bread crumbs to “spread out” the coating a bit and make it not so heavy but keep just enough on the fish or chicken to give it a crunch. In the above photo you can see it is fairly crumbly. I dried the fish well, spritz some oil on, dredged in the crumbs and put on the parchment lined air fryer basket. Lots of loose bits end up on the paper and all over the counter, so I have to keep a tray under them while I am working at getting them ready. In the picture below you can see what a mess it was before I started putting the parchment paper in the basket.

Cooking makes a mess
Chicken cooked in air fryer
Air Fried Chicken

OIL SPRAYS – I discovered that it helps the food to crisp up nicely if you spritz it with a little olive oil. I purchased a small pump spray bottle on Amazon and filled it with olive oil. It doesn’t give me a fine misty spray like I expected. That could be because I bought the low end bargain sprayer, or the thickness of the oil. (It sprayed water very nicely). I’ve also discovered Avocado oil spray and Coconut Oil spray. Those came in a propellent can and give a huge blast of spray. Downside of those two is I have to be careful of overspraying and blowing any seasoning right off the food. Alternatively, you can give the food a light brushing of olive oil before adding your seasoning. After I cooked the fish about 1/2 way, I gave it a good spray with oil. I always remove the basket from the oven, set it on a tray, spray and return to the oven. You don’t want to spray oils IN the oven, as it would be a cleaning mess and a fire hazard if you oil hit the hot elements.

The very first thing I cooked were potato wedges. In my big oven, I would cook them at 375 or 400 or 25 mins or so, and using the air fry setting, it took about 18 minutes at 400 degrees. They were crisp on the outside, and had soft centers.

Potatoes

RACKS/BASKETS – If I was cooking in my wall oven, I might have two things cooking at the same time, like potatoes and chicken. In the Emeril 360, I can use both the wire mesh air fry basket and the pizza rack with a baking dish. Or, depending on what you are fixing, everything in the air fry basket. I often bake potatoes in the microwave and toss them in the air fryer basket for the last five minutes of the meat cooking.

TEMPERATURES / TIMING – The oven came with a cook book by Emeril and I began using it primarily as a reference for temps, settings and times. I ordered a second cookbook called The Skinny Taste Air Fryer Cookbook. I was disappointed in that book because most of the things are using coatings. Sigh…..so, I will just keep cooking what I like. I have discovered you can type air fry *insert food word* into a google search bar and getting times/temps/recipes for anything you want. I did “air fry Brussel sprouts” yesterday and got several recipes quickly. Really I just wanted the time and temp. I threw my Brussel sprouts in the basket with my chicken for the last several minutes.

GADGETS – Truth – I am a gadget girl. So the air fryer is a new gadget for me to learn to use. An absolute must for me is the parchment paper with holes punched (for air flow) when cooking anything that might “stick” to the rack or the basket. I even put parchment UNDER pizza. The # 1 essential for cooking meat in the air fryer is a digital thermometer. My daughter gifted me a very nice Thermapen digital thermometer for Christmas and with the air fryer, I am using it every day. A pair of tongs, an oven rack puller and a pot holder are the other necessities. (Tongs are great for picking up your HOT English muffin off the rack. The oven rack puller is just a gadget, but the pot holder is a MUST. ) (I’ve been busy drinking wine while cooking and forgotten how hot the racks are…duh…..)

COOKWARE – Anything that you put in an ordinary oven can go in this oven. Cupcake pans, baking dishes, corning wear, Pyrex, foil / aluminum pans. If it fits the 11″ x 11″ inside, use it. Pans can go on the “pizza rack” which can be set in one of 4 shelf slots, from broil at the top to slow cook at the very bottom. The window on the door has numbered markings and description of where to put your rack/basket.

CLEAN-UP – In my world, if it won’t go in the dishwasher, I don’t have it in my kitchen. All the racks, baking tray, air fryer basket and the drip tray go in the dishwasher. They come out pretty clean and since I started using the parchment paper, no bits get stuck on the wire mesh of the air fryer basket. The drip tray sometimes needs a bit extra scrub. Oily drips like that from chicken fat can make a sticky mess. So, a bit of Bon Ami cleanser, or a little dawn dish soap help clean the stuck on stuff . Some people cover their drip pan with foil, but I don’t find it too hard to clean using the dishwasher. The inside of the oven needs to be wiped out, and I use a dish cloth with some Dawn dish soap on it, wiping inside, top, bottom, sides and back. Crumbs will collect in the corner too in spots the drip pan doesn’t fully cover. They wipe out easily with a damp cloth.

Interesting notes – and things I have learned in the last month – 1) If you are cooking something that might drip a lot, like chicken on the rotisserie or in the air fryer basket, I put the pizza rack on the bottom position (just above the heating element). I slide the baking pan in and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. This keeps grease from dripping on the heating element and smoking. 2) Make sure you have about 5 ” clearance all around the outside of the oven. Don’t block your vents or push it all the way back on the counter when in use. 3) The top of the oven is significantly warm (unlike the top of a microwave), so don’t store anything on top of it. You can actually put a tray up there to keep things warm, but don’t block the vents on the top. 4)Check the temperature of your food halfway through the selected cooking time and adjust the timing as need be. 5)The oven preheats in under 5 minutes and alerts you when it is hot, but starts the cooking countdown time immediately, so bear that in mind as you are putting our food in, unless you hit the pause, your timer (and the fan) is still going when you open the oven. 6) You have the option of turning the fan on when baking. 7)There is a light switch button so you can peak through the glass door and see how things are looking while they are cooking, without opening the door.

TAKE-AWAY – I love this air fryer and find the meats are cooking nicely and staying VERY moist. My husband always complains that the “porkchops are dry”, no matter how I cooked them in a conventional oven or skillet. He has been VERY pleased with the pork chops I have made in the air fryer. I have done them without coating too, and he likes them either way. A 12″ frozen DiGiorno pizza fits on the pizza rack nicely. Frozen French fries and tater tots cook up nicely too. You can cook on two levels so you can get everything finished at the same time (or close to it). This was a big reason I went for the “oven style” air fryer. I’ve used my wall oven once in the last month when we had 6 for dinner and needed to make large quantity of something. Overall, I think the Emeril 360 Air Fryer is a very nice machine, and I got a heck of a deal on it using Amazon and I recommend it. I joined a couple of groups on Facebook when I first bought it to see how others were getting along cooking and reading their comments and recommendations. Not every food needs to be cooked in an air fryer, and I will continue to cook my “over easy” eggs in a skillet on the stove, and my bacon in the microwave. (Those were BOTH fails in the Air Fryer in my opinion). I’ll keep the rest of the appliances in the house, but I am enjoying my English muffin in the Emeril on the bagel setting and haven’t set the smoke alarm off yet. That’s a win in my cooking world!

No compensation from any source for this review. I promised my sister-in-law (OneBlockWonderWoman) that I would review it after I have had it for a month.

Inspired to Spread a little love

Early in the week I was inspired by a news story on my local station about spreading a “little love”. Watch video below and you might be inspired too.

You readers who stop by my blog on a regular basis know my close affection for a couple living at an assisted living facility nearby. In the past, I was able to visit the facility, and to volunteer there with the ladies who liked to quilt. This last year has been a challenge for those residents and I’m certain for residents in all care facilities. The video above inspired me to do something for my friends at the assisted living facility. After grocery shopping on Tuesday I made a trip to the local Dollar Tree and picked up some “valentine” embellishments and put my plan in motion. I was going to make some cards! I wasn’t sure I could make enough cards, so I got some pre-printed ones too that I could add a bit of embellishment to as well.

My friend Nancy came over on Wednesday and we spent some time in the afternoon working on Valentines cards together, and got 2 dozen made. I emailed the activities director, and she was very welcoming to the idea and gave me the number of residents. On hearing the number (80 residents) I thought I might need a LITTLE more help to reach that number of cards. On Thursday I resupplied my cardstock and envelope supply with a quick stop at Michaels, picking up a new stamp and some washi tape and some new colors of stamp pads.

Friday my youngest granddaughter and her mom came for the afternoon. With a 4 year old, I thought it best that we work in the dining room, with out all the distractions in my quilt studio over the garage. I brought some things in the night before and set the dining room table with paper over the protective pad, and baskets of stamps, pens, stickers, ribbons etc. When they arrived, we went into ‘overdrive’ ! We stamped, we stickered, we used our felt pens and fine point pens, we glued, taped, and embellished cards. We had a lot of fun together! My granddaughter and I worked side by side and she loved adding stickers to cards I had stamped, as well as doing her own stamping and other decorating! Little did I know what expert card makers they both were!

Addy & Grandma

With my embellishment stash dwindling, I had a chance to “resupply again” at a different Dollar Tree while out running errands on Friday evening, and got ‘lucky’ finding the shop well stocked with crafting items. The Dollar Tree in Seaford Delaware is well supplied and certainly will be my choice if I need to pick things up for having fun! Perfect for mass producing cards.

We even got Grandpa in on the fun, figuring out how some of the paper punches I have work. He is an expert at aligning the scallop punch! On Saturday morning my older granddaughters are coming for a couple of hours, and I am sure we will have just as much fun making more cards and hitting our target. If we have extra, well I think the staff at the facility deserve a card too ! With the artistic flair of my friend Nancy, my daughter Heather and the granddaughters, I think every one will enjoy their Valentines Day cards.

This has been a fun project, an interesting diversion, and a nice way to spend some time together within our “safety bubble” this week. I feel like I have had lots of fun too! Thank you Nancy, Heather, and dear granddaughters for all your hard work making cards. I hope it was as much fun for you as me. I know they will be a bright spot for the residents of the Assisted Living center.

My other daughter and I got out for a haircut finally after discussing it, and went on the recommendation of the other daughter to a place with a good stylist, safety procedures etc. For me it has been well over a year! Last haircut was just before my Aug 2019 Alaska cruise. I usually let my hair grow during the winter to keep my ears warm, and whack it all off in the spring for “pool hair”. Well, I got rid of about 6 inches of hair. All those funny layered ends from the last summer hair cut are gone now and I feel less scraggly! (No more COVID HAIR!)

Between a couple of outings for craft supplies and even an outing for dinner with the hubby, it’s been a fun week. We’ve eaten out twice in the past week, once at Delmar Pizza and once at Arena’s in Georgetown. Arena’s is our “safe spot” locally, with every other table removed. I am not a fan of carryout food. If I have to reheat it and plate it, and clean up the dishes, I might as well cook. Going out and having someone “else” do the cooking and clean up is the #2 thing I miss doing ! Restrictions here are being eased again, with occupancy being raised to 50% capacity in restaurants next week.

Hot date
A real treat

How are you prepared for another 6 weeks of winter since that old groundhog let us down? We laughed on February 2nd and said the last 11 months have felt like Groundhog Day, the movie. Certainly having a change of pace, doing something different this week has made it feel a little less like that for me.