Summer fun and never ending projects

At our house, summer is always full of projects that will never end.  

Several years ago I spent the entire summer (it seemed) rebuilding a picket fence, sanding and staining fence pickets.  Thinking back it was BEFORE I retired, so that was more than 6 summers ago.  

Then there was/IS the porch swing that I sanded and repainted, the summer the garage was finished. (Again, before I retired).

Swing frame

 All of it, except the swing part.  I got distracted and the swing stands in the garage waiting.  Maybe next week!  If it ever quits raining! Oh, and those porch rails and pickets that I sanded and restained while the porch was being renovated…the top rails need some work again.  Seems as though it is always something that is less fun than sewing!

 The garden…well…it is overgrown with weeds and it is simply to darn hot and humid to get out in it to weed.

 The ONE nice day we had last weekend was consumed by a yard work task.  Hubby decided he wanted to tackle some of the overgrown stuff that had been neglected for 2 years.

SO, I left my sewing room, donned my gloves and pitched in.

 We tackled brambles, and vines, and wild cherry trees, and BAMBOO.  EVIL AWFUL TERRIBLE BAMBOO.  

Honestly, I would like to strangle the person who planted this crap decades ago.  On our property, we have wisteria, privet, trumpet vine, honeysuckle and bamboo. One would be problem enough, but all of these run and have to be constantly taken down, cut out, trimmed back or they overtake the property.  We have finally gotten the worst of the bamboo that ran along the property line under control when the neighbor started to work on “his side”.  There are the odd bits out front but they are not anything like they used to be and an afternoon of cutting eliminates them.

 Out back, well that is another story. Behind our garage we have a big open gravel area that we had cleared when the garage was built. Then we have woods. About an acre and 1/2 of woods behind the garages. The bamboo has overtaken part of the woods to the point I don’t think we can do anything about it.   We could cut everyday for the next month and not make a dent in it.  

Hubby had a nice bed of daylilies between the lawn and the back driveway that he enjoyed tending.  Then, it too filled with bamboo, (while I was sewing one day I think) and he was overwhelmed. We really know it got out of hand during the 3 years where his back just would not allow him to do much more than mow the lawn, and I was sewing!

So, this past Sunday afternoon, with my gloves on, he and I tackled that 4×15 foot bed cutting bamboo.  We spent 4 hours!  He was able to hold back the top of the stocks with the rake, while I worked with the big clippers cutting it off at the ground.  Can I explain how my legs still hurt 3 days later.  TOO much bending over at the waist!!  He would pile it up in his cart and take it to his “spot” in the woods where he piles brush. Nature takes care of the composting and over the years, our cuttings have made great beds for the rabbits and the deer that frequent our back acres.  Once all the cutting was finished, he uses his mulching mower and cuts away any stalks that stick out above the ground level, and mulches up all those “leaves” the bamboo has left behind.  He has been working hard at finding the big runners that have crossed under his gravel driveway, digging them out.  This little area we cleared doesn’t look like much, and he will spray it with ground clear for the next 2 years to kill off any other sprouts that might pop up.  Then, and only then will he try to plant some grass back in the spot, and hope the bamboo doesn’t return.  

EVIL Bamboo

Yes, those are pile of cut bamboo stacked up in the foreground, and in the background all that you see is mostly bamboo, mixed in with the hardwood trees.  We were hoping the tree canopy would prevent the bamboo from growing, but the bamboo just keeps getting taller and taller.  Some of those stalks are 30 foot or more high.  What a pain!

NOW you can see why I was happy to escape back upstairs to my sewing room in the rain on Monday!

Tuesday morning I took another long bike ride with my daughter and granddaughter. What a relief to escape the yard work! We got out early before the rain!  We biked from 9 until noon, a total of 6 miles, with stops at the nature center to see the fish and at the playground to let the littlest person run off some energy.  Much more fun than cutting bamboo.  Don’t think the back of my legs was ready for another 4 hours of work in the yard.  We have been bike riding now together 3 or 4 times, 6-8 miles each time.  Turns out, I really enjoy the diversion, the exercise and of course, the company.  Once a week has been our goal together.  Of course, she is working on me to invest in a newer, lighter weight, more efficient bike. This antique I ride was her older sisters bike all thru school, and she is having her 20th class reunion this year.  Maybe a 21st century bike is in order.  Pondering…..

Biking fun

When I came home, I saw the hubby was occupied writing an article for his model railroad club newsletter, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening in my sewing room. I told him I was held captive in the garage by a rain shower!  (Good excuse for an 8 pm supper!)

Remember those placemats?  Well, I made MORE.  I got the 4 additional ones finished, and had my 12 I wanted.  And then, well…just kept sewing.  We are up to 18 now.  I am starting to think about how to back them.  Since these are totally scrap happy, I wonder if having a plain muslin back would make sense?  I have LOTS of muslin thanks to Dottie L. at church.  Going to consider that….while I prepare some “scraps of batting” for these.  I was happy to use some of the batik scraps my friend Nancy B saved out for me to give some more bright colors to the last 6.

More placemat fun

I still have 6 blocks left and miles of batik strips, so I am certain there are more to be made.  Maybe I will mix them all up, and dole them out in groups of 6 for gifts, and just keep the table runner for myself.  I really have had fun playing in the batiks.  (Much more fun than yardwork!)  Off to the sewing room…..shhh…don’t tell the hubby the sun is shining!

What are you doing for fun this summer???  Do you have some of those never ending tasks that you hate to work on??  How do you balance things?

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Batik fun

I continue to play around with those bits of batik that were donated by my friend at church to me.  Sewing to keep things out of the scrap storage system makes perfect sense to me.   The squares all need trimmed anyway, and I had lots of strips to trim.

Last post ( Small Projects and Small Bits )  I shared the basic blocks and the table runner I constructed and pondered what else to make.

My friend, Nancy B. gave me a link to a pattern for “log cabin” placemats as a suggestion.  I decided that would work quite nicely and gathered up strips of batiks and the blocks and quickly made 8 placemat blocks.  I intended to stop the placemats at the blue strip, but hubby thought they need to be just a tad wider, so I put the red strips on to gain some extra width. Oh darn, there goes the log cabin pattern out the window. Oh well, not using a pattern anyway.  (FYI – center block was 7.5″, strips are 2″)

playing with placemats

(Of course, as is my usual behavior, they aren’t finished yet).

I decided I might want to do 4 more placemats.  12 is a nice number. Usually there are 10 at the table for a family gathering, but it’s always nice to have a spare or 2 in the drawer.

Now, I need to brave the torrential rain we have this afternoon and venture back out to the sewing room. I have my desk and machine covered in batik strips, I just need WANT to sew!

(The colors make me smile on this rainy wet grey day)

Sewing to keep things out of the scrap storage system makes perfect sense to me.

I will STILL have a bunch of batik blocks left and am already thinking of a plan for those bits!

What are you doing to have fun today??

Little girls Sun Dress

In a previous post this month I mentioned making a sundress (https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/summer-sewing/ ) with fabric my 8 year old granddaughter chose.  That dress went off in the mail yesterday after I put a size tag in it.

When I finished her dress,  I pulled fabrics that I considered “suitable for sundresses” for young girls.  Look at these fun fabrics!  I’d forgotten I had an entire tote full of “tutti fruiti” fabrics.

Tutti Fruitti fabrics

This batch is that puckery Tutti Fruiti fabric. I have a couple of yards of each print. I think I used the green plaid (c) in a sundress a few years back.

Tutti fruiti choices

This group is my favorite of all the prints. Again, it is the puckery Tutti Fruiti fabric and I have at least a yard or more of each.

coordinating prints

These two are also Tutti Fruiti, and are coordinating prints. They would make a nice outfit together.

I also dug into my stash of “pink cottons” and came up with this –

fun cotton fabrics

They of course don’t play well together but each is fun on it’s own.  I must look for some lime green to go with that fabric I marked with a J.  These are quilters cotton.

Digging deep into the box of red & orange & pink fabric in my stash I pulled out these more “grown up” fabrics –

from the pink stash

They are soft, lovely cotton pieces that don’t scream “kid fabric”.  That box was overflowing, so I pulled out ALL the pinks and refolded them (ruler fold), and created a container of “just pink”.  Now both lids will close.

All of these fabrics were the choices I sent off to the  5 year old granddaughter to ponder!  You might remember she decided she wants to “feel the fabric” before she decides!  (Makes my heart sing with joy, because I am like that when I am in a quilt shop!!)

Meanwhile…..I decided to  start on a size 3 for the littlest granddaughter. She didn’t get a choice in fabric selection, I chose for her.  I chose a yard of fabric E, and after the pattern tracing got started with the sewing. I finished up today, attaching the bodice to the skirt, making the button holes and sewing the buttons on by machine.  The dress is in the wash and ready to deliver tomorrow.

front of size 3 dress

Size 3 sundress – front

Size 3 dress

Size 3 sundress – back – 11 buttons!

I can’t wait to try it on my youngest granddaughter and see if I guess right on the size.

I always find commercial garment patterns to run rather large, or maybe I just have small grands.  I’ve never recorded her measurements, but this grandma is taking the tape measure along tomorrow when I deliver !!

Middle granddaughter will make her fabric choices when she is visiting in August.  Her mommy said she is SO excited about all the fabrics and getting to chose!

That’s all for this StitchingGrandma this week!  What have you been up to lately?

 

Scrap Dance Square Dance Assembly Complete

Yes, I sometimes talk about my own quilts on this blog….  Yesterday I posted about a quilt show I visited.  Today, I am changing directions.

I’ve been playing along with the mystery quilt shared by Carole – http://frommycarolinahome.com// and earlier in June she published the finally pattern layout.  The pattern is currently free on her blog until the end of June, when she will pull it down for commercial publication.

I really enjoy Carole’s patterns, and I especially like her mysteries.  One of her rules is not to try to “guess the layout” before the final pattern setting is given.  Her other rule is to not share the specifics of the pattern, but to ask people to find it on her page. If you are following my blog using a computer, you should see a button off to the side for the Scrap Dance Square Dance Mystery quilt.  If you want the pattern for free you must hurry!

A quick recap -Each step of the dance had a fun name associated with the activity. I posted about each step as it was occuring, but I will share a photo from each month.  If you want more info, you can do a quick search for “Scrap Dance Square Dance” on my blog to read all the posts.

January the yardage requirements and cutting instructions came out. It was called “Bow to Your Partner, Bow to Your Corner” .  ALL my fabric except the background fabric came from my scrap baskets!  I decided that I could easily make a twin with all the scraps I have collected, so I got busy during my scrap clean up setting aside bigger pieces for the rectangles.  I knew I had enough squares of the required size in my scrap storage system, so I didn’t cut any squares.

February we made 9 patches – and the lesson was called “Do-Si-Do”.

9 patches

March had us working with our rectangle pieces of 2 different sizes and she called that “Come Down the Middle”.  In the photo below you can see ALL my pieces up on my design wall.

Scrap Dance Square Dance parts constructed

April was working with our rotary cutters and it was called “Allemande Left”.  You can see the result in the May photo where we made those nice triangular cuts of color and white.

May was again working with our rectangle pieces and she called that step “Promenade”.

Square Dance - Promenade

June was the final layout and it was called “Shoot the Star!”. The construction method had us “spinning our partner blocks” and the result was fantastic –

Scrap Dance Square Dance

             SCRAP DANCE SQUARE DANCE by Mary Deeter

In April, Carole gave us “unfinished sizes”.  The sizes she gave were “without borders”.  I must have glossed over those dimensions.  Once on my design wall, I thought it was too narrow and too short for MY typical twin.   I decided, I wanted to go larger…..of course!  I added an extra row of blocks all the way around to bump the size up to 61×85.  I didn’t want to add borders as much as I wanted the star to be complete all the way around. So, before I could finish the assembly I dug back in the scrap boxes and tried to find scraps that were similar in tone and color to what I had already included in the quilt so it wouldn’t be to obvious that I added those blocks “at the end” of the assembly.  I was pretty happy with the color placement and the final outcome.  I loved the spinning stars.

This has been a great project and as always, a lot of fun to follow along each month.  My method has been to “set aside the clue day” if possible and dedicate it to working just on the mystery project. It seems to work out well for me except when travel or other commitments get in the way.  Carole gives such good clear instructions her patterns are easy to follow.  If you like what you see you have a chance to download the pattern for free before the end of June.

On my blog, I have talked about many of the other projects I have made using Carole’s patterns. She has free patterns on her blog as well as some for sale.  Go take a look and enjoy the fun.

I will be linking up to “Oh Scrap” when the link up comes on line and I will post that link here. early next week.

Happy sewing!  (Go sew with some scraps!!)

 

Cardmaking for Safelight Project 2018

If you are a new reader, or have missed the previous posts about the Safelight Project 2018, do go back a few days and see what I have been doing! https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2018/03/31/safelight-project-5-sets-finished-plus-a-bonus-etc/

Carole has asked for help, and I am sharing her post – Safelight Project 2018 again. She mentioned the responses have been fairly quiet, so I hope you can help make a little noise.

This project is to support women  in the shelter who are  escaping domestic violence. Carole has coordinated this project in 2017 and now is asking for reader’s help in a small way.

 If you are a “maker” – there are makeup bags, sunglasses holders and cards to make.  If you are a giver, she could use small financial contributions. Please take the time to read her posts and see if you can help in a small (or LARGE) way if you are able.

I made the make up bags and sunglasses holders and tissue packets (they were a bonus) last week, and decided to add some cards to the package before it went out in the mail yesterday.  I am by no means an awesome card maker, just a novice, but I had fun.  My supplies are limited to the stamps, and paper products on hand. (Dreaming of more stamps…..).  I do have that wonderful Brother Scan n Cut my children gave me for Christmas a few years ago, so I gave it a run on a few cards. (One of my daughters has a Cricut and she is getting lots of practice with it). I cut out lettering and a coffee cup for these cards.  When it came to stamps that gave positive messages, I am extremely limited. You will see a lot of repetition.  My printer in my craft/sewing room is acting up, so I decided not to try to print inserts for the cards, just stamp and hand write little messages.

Coffee card

I cut the coffee cup with my Scan n Cut, and stamped the message and used a sharpie for the squiggly steam . I used my Fiskars corner punch for the flower corners.

Coffee card sentiment

This is my favorite card, because I am a coffee lover!  I even decorated the envelope –

Coffee beans

I showed this card to my sister in California yesterday who is a coffee drinker. She gave it a thumbs up!

This next card I used the Brother Scan n Cut to cut out the lettering. One word is preloaded in the machine, so the letters are “welded” together. The other words I typed in, and then they were cut as individual letters. They are tricky to “stick down”. I ended up with a glue stick instead of tape runners.

You are Special

and the inside –

Sentiment in card

The card below had several elements layered.  The flowers were cut with the Scan n Cut, the centers punched with creative memories punch.

Layering elements

and the inside of the blue card –

Embellishments

Again, the flowers had to be applied with glue stick instead of tape runner. ( If you make cards and have a tip, let me know what you use on items with lots of open area for adhesive. )

Sometimes I cut up cards I have received and save elements.  This next card was a thank-you note, sent to me by the church in Colorado where I donated the Log Cabin Cross Banner nearly 3 years ago. (https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/new-log-cabin-cross-banner/ )  (Someday I am going to re-write the directions for that pattern!! )

I cut the center of the card out, trimmed it to the size I wanted and applied it here to a new card base.

Single Ray of Sunshine

and the inside –

Be the Sunshine

This is another card where I have added elements from those saved cards.

Card layering

lots of layering to give some dimension.  I liked this card because I have butterfly stamps I can use!

Inside the blue butterfly card

I see butterflies as a symbol of re-birth and new beginnings.

This next card, I cut a “window” with the Brother Scan N cut, and the bottom border.  I used some purple butterfly fabric behind the window. Glue stick to the rescue there too.

A window in the card

Sentiment inside window card

All of these photo’s are in my FLICKR album called Paper Crafting. The album is kind of a journal of my paper crafting, and is available to view here –  https://www.flickr.com/photos/92296158@N02/albums/72157668947466596/page1/

I love getting inspired by other card makers.  This set of 6 cards is pretty simple, but they were fun to make.  Coming up with inspiring words was a little harder.  I can not imagine what these women have gone through before they escaped the violence in their life.  I hope these will be a little bright spot in their lives as they start to rebuild. 

In closing, I want to say that I always get more personally out of doing these projects for Carole than I give. The gift to me is in the giving.  Won’t you help in some small way?  Carole has sponsors for her blog, and they are offering some gifts in return!  Be sure and follow her too – https://frommycarolinahome.com/2018/04/01/safelight-project-2018/

The Safelight Project 2018

If you are a regular reader, you know I follow a blog written by Carole Carter called From My Carolina Home on WordPress.  Last Christmas, members of the Queen Bees participated in making Christmas cards for a project Carole had underway. These cards made their way to North Carolina and to  residents of a domestic violence  woman’s shelter. If you missed that post or are a new reader, you can check out our cardmaking here – Busy December Days

Carole has a new project underway called The Safelight Project 2018.  You can read the details about it on – From My Carolina Home blog

I decided I would participate again, and make the sunglasses cases and make-up bags she asked for.  I printed out the PDF instructions for making the make-up bag and the sunglasses case from Carole’s blog post.  I also went back and re-read her previous posts that she has linked for really thorough instructions and photo’s.

This is a FAT QUARTER FRIENDLY project.

It takes 2 Fat Quarters (FQ), some batting, and a little sew-in hook/loop fastener (aka Velcro or similar brand).  I have LOTS of fat quarters, plenty of batting scraps and velcro type products on hand.  I pulled out my bin(s) of FQ and spent more time selecting fabrics than I did making the first bag!

Safelight Project fabric choices

Fat Quarter pairs for Safelight project

I grabbed my batting “scraps” and my fusible tape and got busy too!

Batting and seam Tape by Pellon

I just opened my 2nd package of this Pellon EK150 Batting & Seam Tape.  I paid about $14.69 for 30 YARDS of this tape at Walmart . com recently.  The last package lasted me 3 or 4 years.  All you need to do to use it is to have a straight edge on both pieces you want to join, butt the edges together and press this on.  For a small project like this that I will do heavy quilting on, that fussy gap the arrow is pointing to won’t matter. If I was joining the pieces for a quilt, I would fuse a layer on both sides of the join to ensure there would be no shifting.  I love this stuff, and I use it on lots of small projects, like placemats, table runners, small quilts when I come up short with a bit of batting. No WASTE.  (I have a BIG tote full of batting “cut-off” pieces from quilts!) (I also love the lime green box which makes it “visable” in my cluttered sewing room…..my friend Nancy KNOWS how I lost the last roll…hiding in plain sight!)

I dug out my bag of hook and loop tape –

Velcro "STASH"

and I was set to go.

I stitched up the first make-up bag in about 20 minutes, including quilting.  I used a “swirly” stitch on my Janome for it.

Bag set for Project Safelight

It went together so easily, I thought this would be a great project to take with me to the Queen Bees gathering this week. Since I had it started, I wanted to keep going!  I packed it all up and took it along with me on Tuesday.  I did the quilting on the sunglasses case with my Singer Featherweight at the bee.  I put in a heavy duty needle (#16) for sewing the hook & loop tape.  My history with sewing that stuff is NOT good, and the secret is the #16 needle. The Featherweight powered through nicely. As you can see from the photo of the sunglasses case, it has a nice stitch for quilting too.

Of course, at a bee, I get to visiting and talking and never get as much done as expected.  So, I did more sewing last night at home. I set up an “assembly line” sewing arrangement and now have things moving along.

Assembly line sewing

Batting ready to go

I still have some corners to trim and pieces to turn and quilting to do!  It is a quick project, and doing more than one set is easy when you are doing the same step on multiple pieces. I’m please with the outcome so far, and once they are finished they will be easy to mail in a big envelope.

Do check out Carole’s post, The Safelight Project 2018 and see if you can help in one way or the other.  She has a big project, and her wonderful blog post is also full of PRIZES for participants.  The cause is so worthy too.  These bags will go to incoming residents on what must be one of the worst days of their life, when someone they love and trusted has hurt them physically and broken that trust.  The hope is to provide a positive caring message that they are worthy and valued women, and other women care deeply about the situation they are currently in. Won’t you help too as you are able?

My Border is Secure – Grandma’s Wrap-Up

My border is SECURELY attached to Grandma’s Kitchen that is! 

Since the bus company cancelled our trip to the AQS Show in Lancaster on Wednesday, I spent my “Toby – the big Nor’Easter ” afternoon and evening sewing.  (That storm was a belly-flop in my area where we got only an inch or so of snow…..)

 While we were getting buckets of rain, I sat in the kitchen and removed the papers from the back of the pieces I showed in my post yesterday (  Building Borders and Collaborating on Quilts  ).  They came off very easily because I had shortened the stitch length down from 2.0 to 1.5.

Sad daffodils

My daffodils are very sad, and it looks like I will be power washing and painting that fence this year!

I wandered out in the rain yesterday afternoon to the sewing room over the garage, and got busy with the border.  Hubby went to his train club so I had all afternoon and evening to sew.  (And it was after 3 in the afternoon before it really started to snow !) (I know….other people around the state got anywhere from 1″ to 8″….and Lancaster PA got a bunch!) 

Grandma’s Kitchen border is on, and this quilt is now massive!  91″ wide x 110″ long.  So long, that it won’t fit on the design wall or in one photo…..

Pieced border on Grandma's Kitchen

The Bottom Half

(I suppose I could have hung it sideways, but that wouldn’t be any fun…the flower and phone and heart would have been sideways)

I even remembered to stay stitch the edges before I called it “done”.   I stopped about 10:30 pm and took the picture.  The lighting wasn’t the greatest, but you have seen these blocks in better light in the past.  (I really should set a timer and come inside to eat dinner before 10:30 at night!)

Time to think about how to solve the backing issue.  You might remember I got excited and ordered the backing BEFORE I decided on just how much drop I needed and what my final border was going to be, so I only ordered 3 yards of wide backing. I did pre-wash it to, and have still got to press it with some starch and re-measure.  LESSON IN LIFE — wait until the last border is on BEFORE ordering the backing fabric!  Now I have to piece it anyway!

108″ wide backing for Grandma’s Kitchen Quilt project

I have a plan formulating, and I think it will incorporate some of the extra string blocks and a few of my OOPS blocks and that wonderful “clothesline” fabric that was just too large a print to cut up into any of the blocks for the front of the quilt.  ( I did use one piece of a fat eighth I had in Block # 6 – Wash Day for the very center of the block  below)

Block #6 - Wash Day

(If you want a better close up of any of the blocks in this project, I have an entire album dedicated to the Grandma’s Kitchen pattern – click Grandma’s Kitchen albumThis album is located on FLICKR.) 

Of course, per the norm….my quilts tend to “hang around” waiting to be quilted, so this one won’t be any different. 

(Maybe after that trip to California and my visit to OneBlockWonderWoman I will be more inspired to finish a few things!)

Final note – Grandma’s Kitchen pattern is by Pat Sloan; and the free pattern information can be found here

How did you spend your day?  Do you leave quilt tops “hanging around” too?