Help for Victims of Thomas Fire – Other ways to help

As you may recall, in December Carole – From My Carolina Home put out a call for help asking for blocks for Victims of the Thomas Fire.   I shared her post and worked up 16 blocks and sent them to her last week.

16 Thomas Fire blocks done

Carole received my blocks and 16 other envelopes !!  It is exciting to know that quilters DO love to help when there is a big need.

I was reading through my email today and saw that AQS (American Quilting Society) is also trying to get the word out for assistance for the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild.  There are lots of ways that you might be able to help too. Perhaps making blocks and sending them to Carole wasn’t something you were able to do, but you have a finished top of another pattern on a hanger, or have an excess of blocks from a different style?   Without repeating the entire list, I will “redirect” you to the AQS post –http://www.aqsblog.com/help-the-thomas-fire-victims

Perhaps something on the AQS post will be just the right fit for you!

Today is a “scrap attack” day for me!  I want to dig through 1 container of greens and get them “ready” for the next scrappy project that Carole has planned on her blog!

Stay warm and happy sewing.  I am thankful every day for the sunshine, the warmth of my heaters and my ability to create! I think quilts are really a blessing in my life!  What about in yours?

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The final 3 blocks for Grandma’s Kitchen

I had a lot of fun picking and choosing from my stack of fabrics for the final 3 blocks of the Grandma’s Kitchen pattern.  I mentioned previously that I did a little “balancing” of colors, as I have a big variety with my 1930’s reproduction fabrics.

Block 23 –

Block 23 Grandma's Kitchen

Block 24 –

Block 24 Grandma's Kitchen

Block 25 –

Block 25 Grandma's Kitchen

Now that all 25 blocks are made, I am considering all those filler blocks the pattern has called for.  There are 3 more units of “friendship stars”, several sets of “checkerboard blocks”, and lots of what I would call “filler strips”.  These filler strips are giving me something to think about.  I am trying to decide if I am just going with one of my white background fabrics; or maybe pull in another yellow, with some very tiny print.  If you haven’t seen the final layout, take a look at Pat’s post here – The final layout plan

Here are my thoughts….I have a lot of very “different” prints and colors going on.  I put them all in an album together on flicker if you want to take a look – Grandma’s Kitchen Blocks album

I think the blocks need something to “calm them down” and “give your eye a place to rest” or “a bit of space”.  This is what leads me to the white.  I have been doodling and coloring – Thank goodness for lots of fine tip markers and lots of copies of the pattern.

Making sense of the layout

I’ve set aside fabrics for some of those filler blocks, made one of the checkerboard sections for row 3(using the same fabrics as block 25), and decided what fabrics those extra friendship stars will use.

Next time you see it, I will have it stitched together as a full top…but that will be a while.

I’m in slow down mode as of this afternoon!  I had to deliver my beloved Janome 8900 to the sewing center for service. Long & short of it – my machine does NOT like the thread painting class I took today. Sadly, I paid for a class that I only managed to sew for about half of, and then spent the rest of the class battling the machine.  I went straight from class to take the machine for repair.  Tomorrow, out will come my beloved Featherweight, and I will “begin again”.

Meanwhile, there are lots of scraps to be sorted and trimmed and put away, so I might get busy with that job.  I have LOTS to get squared away!   I am going to try and get some cleared up before Carole puts out the first edition of Scrap Dance Square Dance Mystery QuiltWill you be sewing along?  Carole said she is going to have us “use up leftovers, precuts,  charm squares, jelly roll strips ” etc.  I tend to cut my scraps to the “largest size” for my storage system, so I should have plenty of 5″ squares, lots of 2.5″ strips.  I don’t buy pre-cuts usually, but I do have a big collection of fat quarters (which are NOT scraps….)  I think I will start with the overflowing basket of GREENS!

What’s on your project list??

Some Assembly Required

Thank goodness for great heaters! Our lows are in the teens and highs in the mid 20’s for the next few days and the last few days. (Some weather person fibbed about it getting into the 30’s yesterday….NEVER happened!) (In case you are a new reader, my sewing space is above our detached garage. I share the space with my husband and his model train workshop area). Hubby has a massive propane heater downstairs and I cranked it up to 60 yesterday for a few hours just after lunch, and it really heated up the “floor” upstairs.

While the hobby space warmed up we had a little “project” to assemble in the house.  Fed Ex delivered the present I got our cats….and hubby had to figure out which part went where!

Some assembly required

At some point, our cat inspector Smokey got involved in the activity –

Cat Inspector at work

He is the most curious cat of all and wants to be “in the middle” of anything you are doing! (He thinks he is helpful when I am trying to decorate the Christmas tree or dust the shelves).  Once the assembly was complete…I spritzed a little catnip spray on the new cat climber, and both cats were quick to climb around….and roll around…and like the fuzzy fabric….

Smokey's turn

There are 4 of those dangling white mice hanging from the new unit on elastic cording. We are expecting them all to be pulled off in the next week or so.  So far, only Smokey has been brave enough to climb to one of the higher perches.

On his perch

Once the cats figured out the new gift was for them, then we both ventured out to the garage to play.  The temperature went from  55 degrees when I started the all the heaters,  and before I was finished sewing for the evening it was 73, and I took off my sweatshirt!  We hate to “stop” out in our hobby area once it warms up, so dinner was not until 8 pm last night. Hubby was working on a “turn table” for the model railroad at his train club, and I was having fun  assembling the blocks to send to Carole.

In my last post, California Thomas Fire Quilts Help Wanted  , I shared with you information about making blocks for the victims of the fires out in California.

I had 6 blocks finished in that post. I spent some “quality time” in my sewing room yesterday, and I now have 16 finished.

Blocks for Thomas Fire quilts

I will be getting those out in the mail on Tuesday to Carole – From My Carolina Home

All of the fabric came out of my scrap storage system. Many were already cut into 5″ squares.   I did have to dig in the scrap bin of blues for those wonderful batiks, and in my neutral scrap box for the creams and off whites. So, there was some cutting involved as I prepped these blocks.  Truth be told, I now have about 15 or 20 MORE batik and neutral half square triangles made, so I might see if I can put a few more together before these go out in the mail.  I have some pretty floral fabrics that were part of a 5″ square collection that I made those coasters out of in my last post.

What are your plans for “making” things this weekend?

California Thomas Fire Quilts – help wanted

This morning, I read a blog post by Carole – From My Carolina Home about making quilts for victims of the California Thomas Fire.  Please take a minute to finish reading my post, then hop over and read Carole’s post.  Maybe you can help as well.

Essentially, Carole is asking her readers to help out with blocks and donations for batting and backing to create 2 quilts.  She is offering to assemble the blocks she receives, and long arm quilt them, bind them and get them into deserving hands.   You will see her motivation when you read her blog post.  Maybe you will be inspired to help as well.

I went out to my very cold sewing room, the one over the garage, this afternoon, got the heat cranked up. When it hit 58, I felt like I could proceed and do a bit of sewing.  (The weather report says we got to 31 today, but it has been bitterly cold the last few nights, now in the mid teens…..)  Hubby has a big propane heater downstairs, so he fired it up to 60, and we have 4 space heaters upstairs….2 by his hobby area, and 2 by my sewing area. Lots of wide open space to try to heat!  (He waited until I got it up to 62 before he wandered out to play at his train desk! )

Anyway, I looked at this pattern for the blocks Carole is asking for, and got out my trusty “scrap storage system” box of 5″ squares.  Would you believe, I had some half-square triangle blocks just sitting there waiting to be put to use, along with LOTS of 5″ squares.  I did have to construct a few more HST, but I worked in groups of two blocks, and it was easy. I trimmed everything to 4.5″ and started stitching.  I love laying out my blocks on my design boards that I made last summer. (I am thinking about making 2 more!!)

Using my boards

I got 6 blocks finished for Carole, all from the scrap storage boxes.  They were EASY to make!  I had a little fun with the fabric too. Can you spot the dogs??

Six blocks for the Thomas Fire relief quilts

I came across a stack of 5″ squares I have been hording for a while, and took a little break and made some more of those fun coasters. These particular fabrics seemed a little bit “floral” for the blocks Carole is needing.

Spring coasters

I have 2 more blocks laid out on the design boards to make tomorrow.  I am going back into the “scrap system” and look for some fabrics that are more masculine (or less floral)  tomorrow. I may actually have to “cut up some scraps” to do that!

The blocks are quick and easy, a good way to use up some scraps, and will go to a great purpose.   Now,  please – go read Carole’s blog post, and see if you can help in some small way. Pattern is below for your convenience.  When you send your blocks, let her know how you found out about her efforts with this project!!

If you can’t help by making blocks, Carole has some other suggestions on ways you can help financially.

 

edit – linking up to  — OH SCRAP

Small projects for gifts

I finally found my sewing room again at the end of last week.  Yes, just a few days before Christmas, I managed to steal some time for myself and just play around a little.

You might remember in a previous post I mentioned having the Queen Bees for a holiday luncheon and a card making session.  Well, one of those lovely Queen Bee members left a little gift behind for me.  I was delighted to find a pretty set of coasters.

15 Minute Coaster

The coasters were made following a pattern found at Cool Cottons  .  The pattern was familiar, because the Queen Bees had done this for a project at one of the bees in 2016, and during our guild luncheon in early December, everyone was given a little “kit” of fabric squares and the directions.  My friend Dee, was so sweet to sew a set and give them to me.  How did she know that I never “got around” to making some for myself.  (I might have said something about that during the luncheon, as we were seated next to each other!)  I remember that bee pretty well.  We had a new member who was “learning” to use a rotary cutter and ruler, and I spent my time assisting her.  I think my “test coaster” is still in the bottom of a busy box somewhere.  Anyway, I love these bright cheery colors, and they inspired me to get busy and make some for gifts.  I did another “test coaster” with the kit we got at the luncheon, and now the hubby  has a cheery coaster on his hobby desk.

I deviated slightly from the pattern.  I used 5″ squares.  I also top stitched.  (I like that they lay a bit flatter when they are top stitched).  I used a charm pack of 5″ Christmas fabric squares, and then I went diving into my “scrap storage system” for more 5″ squares.  I also dug into the scrap bin for more holiday fabrics.    All said and done, I made 8 sets of 4 for gifts.

Six sets of coasters to gift

Two sets were already gifted before I got this photo taken!  I love all the fun fabrics!  I did 2 sets in spring fabrics.  Check out the backs –

Back of the coasters

The pattern is fairly easy to follow, but if you are like me, sometimes a visual tutorial is handy.  Today, I was browsing around on you-tube and found multiple “methods” for these type of coasters. Some use 1 additional piece of fabric, and they vary in size from 4 to 5″ squares as the basis for the coasters. Some don’t include batting, but I like a nice piece of batting inside to help with any moisture that might be on your glass.

One of the BEST tutorials on you – tube is with the Gourmet Quilter – Gourmet Quilter Tips and Techniques 002 

Susan Claire gives such good instructions, and if you are a “visual” learner, this is a good one to watch.

I found another tutorial on you tube that had some variety in the way the coasters were made, so take a look at this video if you want to up your “style” a little – Craft Genie Folded fabric coasters  . She starts you out with the style I made, but without batting.  Then she ventures off onto other “shapes” that are quite fun.  I hope you find her tutorial easy to follow also.

Post Christmas I was able to spend some time working with a panel that I was given.  My dear friend Nancy B. picked out a panel for me when she was on a shopping expedition in Lancaster PA.  I got busy and got it all cut up and made into a little story book for my youngest granddaughter.  I used my embroidery machine to make a cover for the book.

Around the world fabric book

A is for Amsterdam

Barcelona and Cairo

Back cover

and so forth.  There were a lot of pages!  Such cute designs for cities around the world.  More pictures can be found in my FLICKR album – Sewing for the Grandkids

As I was working with this panel, I was challenged by the “stamping” of the fabric.  Nothing on panels is ever square, so no matter how you “size” the piece, you might end up with a bit of white showing through. I didn’t want to cut off too much of the color so I went with the best possible size, and have touches of white peeking through.  I don’t think the not nearly 2 child will care too much.  This panel wasn’t designed to be made into a book, but that is what I chose to do with it.  I was challenged by “how to assemble” it, and decided today to make buttonholes on each page and thread ribbon thru the buttonholes.  I think the ribbon is securely knotted, and should hold up to the rigors of childhood.  If not, I can always “thread new ribbon”.  (I doubled it through the button holes so I am keeping my fingers crossed.  The pages are assembled with a square of quilt batting in between the pages.  It is completely washable, which I have learned, is a priority to my daughters!

I have several other panels out of the bins, waiting for me to get busy with them, and I think I might sew tomorrow afternoon too.  I get to babysit for the recipient of this book tomorrow for a bit, and will send the book home with her.

I am enjoying these little projects that have been set to the side for a very long time. In the back of my mind my list of UFO’s is sitting, waiting for me to tackle them…..one at a time.  Meanwhile, I have re-acquired the Second Time Around for the quilt guild, and have spent some time sorting through the donations. I think most of that is in good shape to take to guild on Jan 8th.

Of course, I still have over 40 boxes of stuff from my friend who moved to assisted living.  I have been taking bits and pieces to her at her new apartment, and know that she is wishing she had it all.  I’ve inventoried a dozen boxes, and labeled them.  We are trying to figure out a way to get together at the assisted living facility and sew.  I imagine making kits, already cut, for her will satisfy her for a bit. I tried to get the activities director to call me, as I would be willing to lead a small group at the facility.  Perhaps after the first of the year, she will call so we can come up with a plan!  If you have ever led a quilting group with “senior” senior citizens, please let me know what type of projects you worked on.

I hope you are able to stay warm where ever you are this night.  Our temps were down to 14 deg fahrenheit last night, and never got above 25 deg today.  Keeping my sewing room warm enough to work in out over the garage is tricky at best.

Happy stitching!

SCRAP HAPPINESS- Strings and 4 patches!

I’ve managed to assemble a twin sized quilt using the string blocks I made in August.  There is no “official pattern”, I just worked out the sizes as I went along. I was inspired by several different string quilts I saw on  Becky Petersen’s blog, Quilted Twins.  Becky finished up a string quilt recently and set the string blocks with alternate blocks and surrounded everything with white.  I decided I liked the way the white played with the bright fabrics, so that is how I came to sash these blocks, using scrappy white fabric.

String quilt assembled

The top currently measures at 58″ x 87″.  (Sorry, but the lighting washed out the colors.  Maybe if the rain stops before my ark floats away, I can get a decent daylight photograph after I get the next round of borders on.)

The blocks were stitched on 6×6″ phone book papers, and set with 2″ white sashing and 2″ cornerstones. I tried to use a wide variety of white fabric with print for the cornerstones.  The “strings” came from my scrap user storage system, as did the 2″ cornerstones.  I was able to get many of the 6″ sashing strips from scrap fabric, but needed so much I resorted to cutting a nice 2″ strip off of many pieces of yardage I have set aside for my “next” Bonnie Hunter project.

I’ve done all of the sewing on this project on 2 machines, both my Brother 6000i and my 1949 Featherweight. Last week I had to take a break and let the hubby do a little servicing of the Brother. Seems the “timing was out of whack”, with the needle striking the bobbin case, and he was able to make the necessary adjustments. (Thank goodness for Google and You Tube).

Adjusting the timing

He is pretty handy to have around. He does a lot of “micro work” with electronics for his model railroad hobby and has an excellent mechanical and troubleshooting mind.  The next photo is one of hubby’s little projects.  And I mean little.  He is wiring LED lights into an assembly for an HO locomotive. Note the scale of the project.

LED project

He asked me to take a bunch of photo’s, so of course, I used a piece of scrap white fabric for a background. Those are 1″ squares on my cutting mat showing around the fabric.  Needless to say, he is quite talented.  (I think I hurt his feelings when I would not let him work on my Janome 8900, which is STILL in the shop, awaiting parts.  I’m sure he would have had it running by now if he could have gotten schematics and parts.)

Both the Brother and the Featherweight machines require me to use a leader/ender to start & stop the sewing, so I dug into the 2″ basket and made a significant amount of 2 patches, and then gradually sewed them into four patches.  I now have somewhere near 133 4 patches ready for another project, yet still the 2″ basket is quite full.  I have a nice stack of 2 patches to press today and pin together for the next round of sewing.  I learned all about using leaders & enders on Bonnie Hunter’s blog .  Bonnie has 2 books about how to use your Leaders & Enders, and you can find them on her blog for sale. She also has lots of free patterns on her blog if you are looking for something fun to sew.  (Right now, my 4 patches are going to “ferment” for a while)

133 Four patches from 2" squares

I enjoyed this string quilt project, and think it needs a bit more in the order of a border, so I will be doing some more of those fun string borders that I did on my Scrap Dance Two step.  I figure, why not use up the strings when the phone book paper is plentiful?  I love sewing the strings. The sashing was a bunch of work!

Yay for foundation papers

In the last 2 days I have had 2 more phone books arrive in the driveway and I did a little quilter cheer that I hope would make Bonnie Hunter laugh!

Before you go, do go take a look at Becky Petersens blog post  – Quilted Twins blog

I will be linking this to Oh Scrap!

And linking up at the end of the month to the OMG – One Monthly Goal .

If you haven’t seen those blogs, hop over and take a look.  If you found me from one of those blogs, please let me know!

What’s happening in your sewing room?

A Good week for quilting

Last week was a very quilty kind of week!  Monday was the monthly Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting.  Instead of a speaker & trunk show, we had a full morning of sewing for our various Community Service Projects.   Community Service Sew In is something we do every year.  Some years every Community Service Group we sponsor is represented, and other years the chairman of the Community Service Committee picks 3 or 4 groups that could use a massive boost!  This year we focused on just 3 groups.  Don’t worry, we are still supporting the other groups all year long!!  This was a great day to pick a project and sit and sew. First I worked on blocks for Quilts of Valor (QOV).  When QOV ran out of kits, I picked up a kit from the Quilts of Love table and set to work on it.  Silly me, I forgot to take any photo’s of the QOV blocks.

Before you knew it, time was up, and I hadn’t finished my little baby quilt.   (I must have been chattering too much!)  I took the kit home and finished it up last week.  I love the organization involved with preparing all the kits for the guild members to work on.  This was a cute and fun project to work on!

Quilts of Love baby quilt

I chose to do a simple straight line quilting across the quilt instead of tying the quilt with floss.  I also chose to make my own binding, using Susie’s Magic Binding method.  I pulled some bright gold yardage out of my stash, but had plenty of the blue backing to get the needed strips for the binding.  The backs were oversized  for a “no binding” style quilt, but I much prefer making my own.

While I was working at home, on this little quilt, my Janome 8900 started skipping stitches.  I did everything I could to fix the problem, and finally gave up and switched to my “little” Brother CS6000i, to finish the binding. I took the Janome into the shop on Saturday morning for servicing, when my efforts were unsuccessful. I had “re-threaded”; “cleaned the bobbin case”; “installed a new needle” ; “wound new bobbins,” “re-threaded again” etc.  The top thread was getting hung up in the race, and I could see where it was catching, but couldn’t figure out why.  No amount of head banging was going to fix the poor ol’ girl.

While at the shop, I took a photo of the inside of the bobbin case on the floor model.  The first picture is the shop’s floor model (which needs some cleaning I think!).  See that area I circled in red.  Well look at the little red arrow, and then to the left of it.  That’s what it SHOULD look like.

Janome 8900 bobbin area

The picture below is MY machine, and now look at that strange thing next to the red arrow!

My Janome 8900 not working!

That little hook near the arrow I drew was catching everything.  How in the world did it get up above the bobbin case ???  Definitely what my thread was hanging up on!  Because I couldn’t find any “close up photo’s” of how it “SHOULD BE”, I couldn’t explain to the hubby what was wrong.  He would have dissected the machine and attempted a repair.

Now, here is a question for you………….How often do you clean your bobbin area?  Do you always take out the bobbin case and clean underneath? Do you use a brush or canned air or a mini-vac?

I’ve had one friend tell me the repair shop told her canned air is ok to use, yet on many websites, I read NOT to use it, as it could add moisture around electronics and / you can blow lint back into place you just can’t reach to extract it with a brush or tweezer or vacuum.  So, what’s the real answer???

Meanwhile, the machine is down and out for the count for at least a week or maybe two.  I had my 2 blocks to catch up on from Pat Sloan’s pattern – Grandma’s Kitchen.  Once I got over my machine repair angst and got the blocks cut out, I got busy sewing them.  For some reason, I did block 7 first.  I fussy cut the centers of the stars.  I’ve seen lots of these blocks done on-line this week, and lots of variations with color placement.

Block 7 Grandma's Kitchen, pattern by Pat Sloan

I stuck with just the light background, medium centers and dark star points, and tried to keep the block consistent.  Several posts I saw on Facebook showed different colors being used for each star, and some for each star point.  I tried to keep it simple.

Black and White Version –

B&W of block 7

Pat Sloan called this her “Oh My Stars” block.  Famous words from a grandmother.

Block 6 is called “Wash Day“.  This block gave me trouble, only because I chose not to read the directions; when sewing the half square triangles (HST) or assembling the block.  (NOTE to self; after fighting with the machine, and working LATE, give it up and stop for the night!)

I had a great “fat 8th” of laundry on the clothesline fabric in the 1930’s reproductions.  Well, let’s say this – I have now got a container of “WHOOPS” blocks.  I ended up going back to the red from block #7 for my dark, and was only able to use one square of my clothesline fabric as the center square.  (INSERT SAD FACE HERE).  I decided when all was said and done, you would not be able to tell what the fabric was representing, as the piecework is so small ! And, I used up what I had, so (INSERT SAD FACE HERE).  I was “hoarding’ that fat 8th since I bought it 3 years ago…………it was something I had not seen before, or since.

Anyway, back to the red for the inner star, those circles look like soap bubbles, right??  I had to recut to make those red and blue HST’s, and the red and white HST’s after I discovered I screwed up!  At that point, I decided to lay out the block and call it a night!

Block #6 - Wash Day

I was a little apprehensive using the blue for the medium, but in the B&W photo below it really works.

B&W block 6

So, I am caught up with the Pat Sloan – Grandma’s Kitchen for now, even using the back up machine.

Here they all are:

Seven blocks Grandma's Kitchen pattern by Pat Sloan

Thinking ahead to getting some more of that great yellow and green into one of the next few blocks!  Oh, and those black and whites I have pulled out with scottie dogs….

I went on an internet search today for the little bit of clothesline fabric!  First I searched at a place Bonnie Hunter had recently visited on a trip to Minnesota – Reproduction Fabrics – Northfield MN, but no luck.

So, I dug in the “dog bed stuffing pile” and pulled out the selvedges.  I tried a new search tactic. 

 I found it….and bought all I could get….not quite a full yard (like 31″) for $8.25.  I am thrilled.  What I love about this piece is it is all 1930’s reproduction fabrics hanging on the clothes line.

 So, THANKS to Two Bees Fabric of Texas for having the Sara Morgan Circa 1930 for Blue Hill Fabrics .

– 

“Two Bees Fabrics – you will find the traditional 1800s/Civil War reproduction fabrics along with the 30’s depression reproductions.  Look for the French influenced floral and toile fabrics too.  “

So now, I have this “snippet (30+ inches) of fabric” coming by mail and I will hoard it again until the “right block” presents itself.  I do hope Pat Sloan will give us a couple of blocks that will show off the larger prints in this pattern. If not, well, back to the 30’s bin it will go for future use.

There you have it, the drama of the (insert sad face) sick sewing machine, and the multiple attempts at building block 6, along with the JOY of knowing I could get another bit of the clothesline fabric.

 While I was at the Delaware Sewing Center store with my machine, I grew slightly overjoyed that I purchased my Janome 8900 when I did, as the price has gone up by $1000 since I purchased it in 2013.  (How does that happen??)  The sweet lady in the store did her best to sell me on one of the machines that had a feature “she” loved….but the throat of the machine was too small for me.  I just hope the cost to fix the machine is not too high. Keep your fingers crossed.  Meanwhile, I will slog away on the ol’ Brother CS6000i.  If it irritates me, I will bring my traveling Singer Featherweight up stairs to sew on.  

Time to sort some scraps!  Happy stitching.