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?

Senior Quilt 2020 (A peak)

Every year I coordinate a project for my church which involves making quilts for our graduating high school seniors.

I started my quilting journey in 2008 when the Pastor handed me a ziplock bag full of 8.5″ squares, gave me some basic instructions and sent me on my way. (I was NOT a quilter, and had only “bound” quilted panels with the help of You Tube and Google).

One thing led to another and at the end of that Spring, I had made 5 quilt tops, and learned to layer and tie the quilts too.  Then Pastor John retired and I was asked to coordinate for the coming year.

Thankfully, with the guidance of an experienced quilter, Kristin S.,  I learned all about cutting and chain piecing and much much more.  My first official quilt shop class didn’t come until 4 years later.

Over the years we have made a lot of those “senior quilts” with a team of willing volunteers.  One year we had as many as 15 students graduating.  The next year, I took a year “off” from coordinating and Kristin stepped up to manage everything that year. (Burnt out?  Probably).  Sometimes you need a new perspective, and new energy and new leadership.

This year, is quite different, with just ONE senior.  When I gathered together with my quilt making volunteers in February, we had a great time selecting fabric from “accumulated stash”.  One church member had donated her entire sewing room of fabric and we had a lot to choose from.  A feature fabric was chosen, and the quilters chose companion fabrics, picked out two blocks that they wanted to make.  This was the first year we didn’t do a basic 8.5″ block for our quilt.  One graduate, and lots of sewers, and big ideas.  A little work on EQ8 and we had a pattern.  (I was tickled to get to use those skills I learned in my January class).

Fabric selection

More fabric choices

In the process of working with the fabrics, I discovered that one of the colors was bleeding all over my ironing table as I was steaming the fabric. I stopped what I was doing, took the strips into the kitchen and soaked them in Retayne and rinsed them clear.

Bleeding blue

I was thankful I had a small bottle of Retayne that came in January with an order, and was amazed how it worked. The picture above is just after I put the strips in a glass bowl of warm water.  The picture below is after the recommended soaking time and after I rinsed with clear water.  I threw a color catcher in the bowl for “good luck”.

After the soaking

Thankfully they were only strips, not pieced into the blocks with the white fabric adjacent.  Did you know that your salad spinner is a great place to wash and “spin” pre-cuts and small pieces like fat quarters.  This experience has made me a big believer in pre-washing.  I put the larger piece of yardage in the washer and did a similar process with the Retayne too.

We got together two more times to cut and sew as a group.   And, as anyone who has ever worked on a group project, sometimes there are other problems.  Working with the “same 1/4” can cause construction challenges, so I made sure to mark with tape and a seam guide everyone’s machine. Several people worked on making half square triangles and others cut various fabric units.   Our feature fabric got cut the wrong size for the pattern and in desperation to replace it, I went in a frantic search online. I finally found it for sale on ETSY and bought all they had, just in case.  A little recutting and reconstructing, and all was well again. The “miss-cut” will get used somewhere else along the line and working together, we adapted and overcame the challenge.

Quilters working at Reformation

Then in mid March, the concern about COVID-19 stopped us from meeting and sewing together. Our last group sewing day was a very productive day.  Luckily most of the blocks were either finished or near completion.  I finished up the last few blocks and one willing quilter took the blocks, and a photo of the layout, and put the top together.  Thanks to Judy M.G. for that big job! She did that in between making masks for the local nursing home and her family, while waiting on the outcome of her own COVID-19 test results. (Negative thank goodness!)

 

When I got the assembled top back from Judy M.G.,  I added the borders, the embroidery blocks and photo of the church.  Using our best “social distancing (across the width of three banquet tables), two of us got together in the empty church fellowship hall to layer and tie the quilt.

Tying the Senior Quilt 2020

Usually we have 4 or 5 people doing this, and can tie a quilt in an hour, but in order to “be safe” we had to limit how many and stay on “opposite” sides of the banquet table.  It took the two of us nearly 3 hours.  But, we got it done!

I brought it back home, and did some machine quilting on the borders to anchor them, trimmed the quilt and got the binding on.

Big wide white borders

The quilt is ready, 2 weeks ahead of my “scheduled deadline”.  (Yes, that is Susie’s Magic Binding that I always do, completely by machine!)

verses on the quilt

There are 3 verses on the quilt this year. Again, we only had one quilt to make, and thought this would make it extra special.  This students parents picked the verses back in January.  Many thanks to Designs by JuJu embroidery company for their wonderful ministry , making these digitized verses available for free.

And now, we have to wait again.  Ordinarily it would have been out in church on Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday and the remaining Sunday’s in April for the members of the congregation to sign and write messages of love and inspiration. Just as soon as we are able to gather again for services, we will have the quilt out to have the members sign.  I hope they fill those big wide white borders with wonderful messages.

Our time line has turned upside down, but we are going to make certain our one graduate knows how special she is and that she is loved by her church family.

Presentation normally would have happened in mid May, but that timeline is a bit fractured too.  Our Pastor will work with the family and determine an appropriate time to present the quilt.

The service where this is done is always very moving.  Parents wrap the quilt around the shoulders of the student, just like they did when they were young. Prayers are said asking God to guide the young graduate in the coming years, and to help them know that the church family is always with them as they go off to college and start new lives.  The quilt has a photo on it of the church, and the parents picked a verse that they felt was important to be remembered. It is our hope that the student will always feel wrapped in the loving arms of Christ, and when they may need a boost of faith, they can wrap up in the quilt which is covered in prayer and messages of inspiration.  Many prayers get sent heavenward during the creation of the quilt, and I always want the graduate to know that their church wraps them in God’s love as they go onward in life.

Once our graduate has a chance to see the quilt I will post more photo’s so you can really see it.  The quilters who have gathered together every year to work on this ministry vary from year to year and new quilters have joined in this year. All together there was Judy M.G.; Judy S., Kristin S., MaryLu W., Karolyn H., and Lydia P. and myself working on this project.  It was fun to do something very different than any quilt we had done in previous years.

Do you do a special project or have a tradition at your church for graduates to honor them as they move ahead in life?

Baptism Banner

It was about 2 years ago that my daughter asked for a “new” banner for one of the children.  I had to agree, the banner I was replacing was not going to ‘last a lifetime’.

The children celebrate their baptism birthday, and the banners hang in their home, usually in the bedroom.
As I started the year with a long list of projects, I hoped to get this done BEFORE the baptism birthday.  When I won the embroidery machine last year, I thought I would include embroidery on the banner.  I started to collect various designs that might find a place on the banner.  I have a collection of designs from Embroiderydesigns.com and from designsbyjuju.com.  (I love Designs by juju. She has digitized lots of Bible verses, and gives them away for free.)

Dear daughter drew a sketch on a notepad of what she had in mind for the finished project.

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Hubby and I went on a shopping trip where I collected a variety of fabrics last Wednesday. One of these fabrics is NOT quilting cotton~!~I am ever thankful for the Sewing with Silk class I took at the beginning of the month.  (Stabilizer is the secret!)

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As he was going to be busy on Wednesday evening, I decided I would sew.   I sat down and narrowed down my choices of fabric.

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I started with 5″ squares, making half square triangles, trimming to 4 1/2″.  Put those up on the design wall and decided TOO big. Trimmed the 1/2 square triangles down to 3 1/2″ and decided that was perfect.   I worked on it for 5 hours on Wednesday evening….and on Thursday, I put together the main part of the banner and then sat back to figure out the “what next”.

Baptism banner

Baptism banner

The what next involved me trying to decide how was I going to applique the name and date and searching for fonts that might work easily and be of the right side.  Why applique?  Well, it seems that my Brother 500PE embroidery machine was not working properly, and dear hubby had determined it was a “timing issue”. Perhaps it needed a new “bobbin case”….and of course, to take it in for service, we would need to take a 70+ mile road trip, along with $150 for the “walk in the door service charge”.  Last month, Hubby had tried and tried to get things working and it would not.

Well…after I contemplated my next step, I posted a question on a Facebook group – Brother PE Embroidery (https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/388276124532366/?fref=nf) . One lovely lady suggested, I take the bobbin case out; clean it all again; replace the needle and try again.  I did and it WORKED.  My needle had been striking in the bobbin case and not catching the bobbin thread.  I am so “not mechanical”; and I don’t really “get” why the machine works, I just expect it to.  I thought I had given hubby a new needle when he was tinkering….Anyway, I am convinced, it was a GOD thing….He guided my efforts to get the machine working properly.  Let me just say I was thrilled.

So, embroidery machine running properly, I learned a little more about stabilizing and hooping….I have used medium tear away, mesh iron on, pellon fusible.  Turns out the mesh iron on is too light weight… the stitches pull the fabric. I read on that Facebook group about “floating stabilizer” and tried that! (Slide a sheet of tear away medium weight UNDER the hoop. The fabric in the hoop had iron on mesh stabilizer backing the cotton).  Wow; what a difference it made.

So; as the embroidery came off the machine, I started to play around with layouts.  Note; I had cut my main banner squares down to 3 1/2″ and my embroidery was stitching out at a 4×4″ …..so, I decided to work them in as a top and bottom “border”.  I always have fun with the designing, and made lots of changes along the way.

Once I had all my embroidery work completed I played around with the layout and came up with a balance that pleased the hubby and I.

Once all the design work was done, it was time to layer it up and get it quilted.  I added a hanging pocket on the back before I attached the binding.  I just need to add my “made by Grandma” label and cut a dowel, and it will be ready to pack up and mail.  Finished size is about 15″ x 30″.

Lori's Baptism Banner, created by Grandma Mary

Lori’s Baptism Banner, created by Grandma Mary

 

Sewing like crazy!

Wow; today has been a full on sewing day!  I went up to church at 9 am, and worked until noon; and then this afternoon from about 3:30 until nearly 7.  Todays project – the beginning of a “Senior Quilt”.  This is a project I chaired for 5 years, and now someone else is “in charge”. Yippeeeeee !!!!

I showed up with my machine in the tote, collected a ziplock filled with colorful 8 1/2″ squares (ALREADY CUT…how cool is that); and I sat down and started putting them together, a neutral block and a colorful block.  Got all 80 together in pairs, and put the machine away; got out the iron and set the seams and pressed them open. By noon, I had them packed up and after one “quick stop” at the local sewing center, I was headed home. 

(Somehow I had lost my “O” foot for my new Janome. That foot is the 1/4 ” foot with the guide along the side.  Secured a replacement.)  

When I got back home, I took care of some household business (grilled cheese sandwiches for the hubby and self) and got on to organizing the blocks into some sort of order.  Before I could lay them out, I had to “remove” my one-block wonder blocks (29), and my “summer in the park” blocks (60) from the design wall.  (Did I mention that I built about 35 summer in the park blocks in the last 3 days??)

Senior Quilt 2014 - final layout

Senior Quilt 2014 – final layout

Here is the final layout for my Senior Quilt 2014; and you may note that I have them sewn (and pressed) now into 4 patches.  I figure tomorrow afternoon I can get the rest of it together in a few hours.  My layout is our “classic” pattern. A bit boring, but I just didn’t want to expend too many brain cells doing something different.

I did play around a bit with the fabrics; made a few extra blocks to get a nice “color” balance. Hopefully the colors will show when you click on the photo.  I am not fond of the light green or the browns; but LOVE the stripes!!.

The bible verse in the upper left corner I stitched out on my Brother embroidery machine earlier in the month.  Many thanks to  www.designsbyjuju.com !! She has many wonderful designs on her website for sale; and has felt called to share Bible verses for FREE!!!

The photo on the bottom right of the quilt is one I took when I began coordinating the project ; and I printed it on the fabric, using freezer paper, bubble jet wash & bubble jet set process.

All in all; a good day sewing today! (And yesterday and the day before too!!)  If you are counting, this makes unfinished project # 4 for February…..yes, the t-shirt project is still on the layout table waiting on the ruler, the Summer in the Park is waiting on the desk, for me to cut more strips to make more blocks; and the One Block Wonder is on the layout table waiting for more hexies to be cut too.  AND …. I have the fabric out to do a Happy Birthday Banner project for my daughter. Still thinking about how I am going to make it; but it doesn’t count as unfinished; it is in the UnSTARTED column!!!

So; how many projects do you work on at any given time?

Keep on stitching…..