A finished small project

Last week I worked on some blocks that I picked up off my “pile” on the corner of the cutting table. I mentioned them here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2021/01/24/little-between-projects/ .

I would like to report a FINISH for that pile of blocks! The disappearing 4 patches have been completed, and joined up and turned into a nice size throw the lady that started them 2 years ago.

Backstory, in case you missed it…..I ‘used to‘ volunteer at an assisted living facility where my friend June is in residence. I would take boxes of squares that had been donated to the quilt guild, and let the ladies choose their own colors and fabrics. This was easier than trying to work with shaking hands and rotary cutters, and a bit safer.

I would go once a week to sew with whoever showed up in the activities room. One resident, Stella, only came to sew a few times and then just quit coming a couple of years ago. I kept bringing her bag of squares every week, hoping she would turn back up. She never did. Stella only sewed for 20-25 minutes and then would leave, even though I was there for 2+ hours. I don’t think she could concentrate for much longer, and other residents told me she was like that in every activity. So, when I came across her bag of squares, I pondered what to do with the blocks she had sewn. I probably am repeating myself, but here goes. I took Stella’s squares apart because her stitches were loose and very crooked. I’m certain her stitch length had been set on a basting stitch (5.0 stitches per inch) because she just could see those “tiny” stitches. Many times I would catch even my friend June, cranking the dial because she couldn’t see the stitches that were 2.5, and I had to “dial” her back. I always promised them all, if there were stitches to rip out, I would do it! Anyway, if you read the blog post about the little in between projects, you know I put Stella’s squares back together as 4 patches, then cut them up again.

More switching
Disappearing 4 patch

The method involves taking a squared up block, then cutting it apart and rearranging the pieces. I cut 1.5″ from the center line, 4 times. My previous blog post has information and links to better explain the method.

I took the pile of blocks I made during a zoom retreat with my blogger friend, Carole, (https://frommycarolinahome.com//) and arranged them on the design wall.

Disappearing 4 patches

Last Tuesday, I had a “ZOOM QUILT BEE” with the Queen Bees. During that bee, I added an “alternate block” in the layout, and worked on getting the blocks sewn together. Since I have all of June’s fabric, I dug in her boxes and found some pieces that I wanted to use up.

work in progress

Once the blocks were put together I decided I needed to break up some of that PINK with another color. Hubby suggested green and I thought that was perfect idea for the borders.

6x7 layout

I dug through June’s stash again, and found a nice green! Borders went on, backing was made, again from June’s stash, and the quilt top got pin basted and ready to machine quilt.

I spent Thursday on another Zoom Retreat with Carole and got the quilting done. (It’s amazing how much you can get done while chatting with others during a day of sewing and zooming!)

Disappearing 4 patch finished

For quilting, I used my walking foot. I went in the ditch down the rows working from the center out, and then went across each block on the diagonal, in both directions. For the border, I switched thread and used the wavy serpentine stitch with my walking foot.

quilting

It doesn’t take long to put on the binding because it is all done by machine, using the Susie’s Magic Binding technique http://www.52quilts.com/2012/05/tuesday-tutorial-susies-magic-binding.html . (Save that link, as it is my GO TO binding method and SEW EASY!!!).

Here is a close up of the binding if you haven’t seen it done before – my hubby tells me it is his favorite because it adds an unexpected pop of color!

close up of quilting and binding
Susie’s Magic binding method – also known as “binding with a flange”

Threads for quilting – Superior Fantastico , colors 5021 (40 wt) blue/purple/green varigated; and Superior Fantastico color 5025 (40 wt) pink green yellow blue varigated. On the back, the bobbin thread was also Superior Fantastico color 5031 ( 40 wt) varigated pink. The pink was also used top stitching the binding in the flange. I love how the thread has a bit of a shine, and on the back of the quilt it all but disappears in the pale pink fabric. When doing the patchwork, I usually sew with a grey or beige thread, Superior Masterpiece which is a cotton 50 weight.

As a side note; while zooming with Carole in December we were chatting about favorite threads. I really love my Superior threads and a favorite I use is Bottom Line Silver # 623. It is a 60 weight and my 3000 yard cone was nearly empty. I went shopping for thread and found it available at the Fat Quarter shop. (I usually buy my threads at quilt shows). It took a few weeks, but my thread arrived on Friday and I can adjust my “inventory” on my spreadsheet (what a geek). It’s true, I keep track of the thread I use and when and where I bought it and the price. Much nicer to buy in groups of 3 at quilt shows as there is a discount usually!

I plan to make a label using my embroidery machine in the next day or two and getting this quilt delivered. Won’t Stella be surprised when the staff takes it to her apartment! Before I head to the assisted living though, I think I will make a couple of placemats for June and her hubby, using the same method of “disappearing 4 patches”. I probably will do them out of reds and whites/creams so she can use them all of February.

RANT – warning….not for the weak of heart…….

I can only “drop off” in the lobby as the facility is still in lockdown for COVID-19. My dear friend June and her husband just tested positive, even after they had round one of the vaccine 3 weeks ago. Hoping that having had the vaccine means they won’t have as severe of a case. Over 53% of the deaths from COVID-19 in our state have been residents of Long Term Care facilities, and 911 out of 1090 deaths in Delaware were people over 65. Those are some frightening numbers and I get angry when I think about staff bringing the virus into the facilities. My friends have been in isolation from their family and friends since early March of 2020, yet now, they have COVID. Obviously , the precautions are not working, staff is not following proper protocol, and these dear old ones are at risk! Sigh…rant over, anger is steaming out my ears yet!

Snowy day in So. Delaware
1-5″ forecasted for this storm

Do you have any weather coming in? You know, my sewing room is “out there” on the 2nd floor of the detached garage, so I will probably do some hand stitching of hexi’s in my recliner today! What’s under your needle today?

Small projects go quickly

Or so I thought when my group, Queen Bees, started this in January. Before we even knew what was happening in 2020, a couple of us came up with an idea to make fidget quilts for a local nursing home patients. Well….timing is everything they say.

Back in January we made a lot of blocks!

Fidget blocks
I think there were about 120 blocks made.

We used 5″ squares and a 4.5″ square of fusible fleece on the back. That gave some support to the various pieces that were being stitched on. It was so fun to see what people put together.

We had planned to do some “assembly” at our March bee, but 2020 took a left turn and everything got cancelled. Our bee has been meeting again, monthly since July, in a large gazebo at a town park where we can space out. Not doing any sewing at these gatherings, but we are doing a bit of show & tell and being “socially distant”. (Thanks Carole Carter, I like that turn of phrase so much better) Anyway…last month I hauled the bag of squares to the bee and we put them out on a picnic table and those that wanted to took a stack. I brought home the rest, and decided to work on them this week. I made two fidget quilts, each with 25 squares. It finished around 22″ square and will fit in a lap or table . I added a couple of ties to secure to a wheelchair if need be.

fidget quilt
Finished fidget quilt
making fidget quilts
fidget quilt with ties anchor

When we made the blocks the idea was to use texture, and add things that the fingers can stay busy with while it sits in the lap. There are bits of elastics, various pieces of lace, ribbons with beads, buckles on ribbon, bits of zipper ends and even a working zipper along with empty thread spools, fleece, corduroy, felt, satin,and tape measures. We anchored all the bits down on the blocks and by having fusible fleece underneath, they should be secure. Some attachment points are in the seam, and the items were stitched down as the blocks were assembled, and then once together, I top stitched using a wavy stitch over the seams to give a little more texture.

finished fidget quilt
finished fidget top with some quilting.

I used a zigzag stitch on some of the plain blocks to make certain there was some texture in the block.

I put these two together one evening after dinner, using a piece of flannel on the back. I enjoyed making these, and it was fun to put the various blocks together that the bee members had created so many months ago. I still have a bag full of “pieces and parts” and may have to arrange “another 25” for a bit more fun.

What are you doing to keep your fidgety fingers busy??

Hot August Days and packing for Alaska

What can I say – it is just HOT !!  Summer in Delaware and that is to be expected.   We are in the “dog days” of August with Hazy; hot; HUMID; hot; thunderstorm weather. 3 out of 5 afternoons we have those drenching downpours.  This is typical of our weather radar this month!

 

Time for thunderstorms

So; in between storms we have had lots of pool time, and lots of time hiding in the house with the air conditioning.  Not much time spent in the sewing room, as over the garage it is challenging to keep it regulated to “comfortable” for any length of time.

Some evenings have been pretty pleasant after the string of storms cooled things off. We went to listen to our son in law play with his band, Lincoln City at a local restaurant, on the rooftop.

Lincoln City playing at the Counting House

His group is quite good; and it is fun to see him switch back and forth on his various guitars.

We also got an evening out at Abbotts Mill Nature Center for music.   It was nice to see so many families out for the evening.

And of course, in between times there is a little time for chillen’ on the porch!  I just loved these wine goblets that were a gift at retirement.

Chillen' on the porch

Don’t you know, as luck would have it, the day after this photo; I dropped a chilled goblet, with the stainless steel freezer balls; and cracked it! One down; one to go!  I like the plastic for by the pool and the porch (HINT FOR CHRISTMAS FAMILY….) and I like the stem!

We got lucky with the weather for the GLOW RIDE which was held in a neighboring town, sponsored by #LifecycleDE.

Getting the bikes ready

Over 80 people rode the circuit through Seaford Delaware including 2 Seaford Police Officers in the new “bike” unit.

Seaford Police riding the Glow ride

The last 2 weeks have been busy with quilt guild Community Sewing day; and board meetings; getting a newsletter article written; and sewing with my ladies at the assisted living. I sat at the kitchen counter and sorted donated squares for a solid week, where it was cooler than my room above the garage.

Sorting stacks of 5" squares

My co-chair for 2nd Time Around spent a couple of hours hanging out in the garage on a cooler day; bringing up the donations that we have accumulated over the summer and sorting them out and staging them for September work. We have LOTS ready for our September meeting to sell and even though I have been “staging the ready stuff” at the church where we meet, I still have lots to bring to that meeting!

The ladies who sew at the assisted living facility COMPLETED 15 placemats for donating to  Serendipity Quilt Shop, Dagsboro DE) for the MEALS ON WHEELS  project.

Brandywine Ladies with their placemats

They decided they needed a field trip; so instead of sewing this past week, we arranged for them to go shopping.  Five ladies along with the activities director arrived by the facility bus at the quilt shop. It was a great chance to encourage the purchase of needle threaders and top stitch needles with big eyes and flower head pins along with fabric and patterns and books. Three of the ladies are my die-hard regulars and they had an absolute ball looking at all the fabric and notions. One of the ladies is also a garment sewer; and she has made a dress to wear to a wedding in a lovely turquoise linen, and wanted a jacket made out of batik.  She had her batik picked out but I got to help her pick the piping fabric.  We were able to get a picture of them quickly in the shop with the placemats before I handed them off to the coordinator.

I’ve spent some time this month “pre-planning” my next great adventure. My sister invited me on another cruise, this time to Alaska. I fly to San Francisco next week so there is lots to get ready. Last weekend I did most of my packing; unpacking some after weighing the suitcase and repacking. I had to “pair down” a bit!  Just how many hats and mittens and gloves should I take?

ALASKA packing

I eliminated most of them!

Packing decisions for Alaska

I have a friend who is on a cruise at the same time leaving from another port and we have exchanged packing lists of “must haves”. Packing for an Alaska cruise is so different from a European or Caribbean / Mexico cruise.  I really had to think through what to take.

Before I get to that list, let me tell you about what I  have in the “must have” for any cruise.  I “must have” the following in my suitcase (in fact….I store most of it in my suitcase between cruises with the exception of the shoes) . This is my 21st cruise, and I think I have got the essentials without overdoing things.

  • USB/multi outlet Power block  (There is a picture of it in the photo with the hats and gloves)
  • Wine bottle opener / stopper
  • vinyl luggage tag (like these on Amazon – ) for cruise specific tag
  • laundry bag
  • magnet with hook (cruise ship walls are metal)
  • clothes pins
  • laundry soap pods/dryer sheets
  • Sandals, sneakers, dress shoes (1 pair each)

Purchased new for this cruise specifically

  •  “DAY PACK” (like this one on Amazon  )
  • Pop up style hamper to replace the laundry bag (tripped over one at Walgreens for $2.99 yesterday) (My sister had one I admired, easy to take to the laundry room which can be a long hike to the other end of the ship
  • a rain poncho  (like this one on Amazon  )

Those new items will stay “in the suitcase for future cruises.

I’ve cruised to Alaska once – in 2005 and know that the weather is constantly changing and subject to being hot / cold / raining.

Because I usually cruise in the winter to WARM climates, it is hard not to grab the tank tops, shorts and sundress, etc!   I did pack 1 sleeveless blouse & capri’s “just in case”. I will probably fly home in them!

A necessity is a jacket/raincoat on an Alaskan cruise. Since wet & rainy weather is the expectation; I made certain my Columbia Ski jacket with the zip out fleece lining was sprayed with water-repellant.  What I like about this jacket is it can be worn as a unit or as separate  pieces depending on the weather.  I sprayed the sneakers and walking shoes too; and let them sit out in the sunshine to dry really well before packing them.

Waterproofing the shoes

I recently picked up a lovely poncho by Rain Caper (see the link for the rain poncho).  The one I bought is black on one side and has a tan & black print on the reverse. Not as arty as the one in the link, but I think it will be more functional.   I liked the feel of it and the style; reversible etc. It has little magnets in the corners to keep you from “flopping” in the breeze!  I tried several over the years and decided this one is a winner. It is short enough that I can cycle with it on without being a hazard, long enough to cover the “backside”.   I like that it has a zip pouch that I can tuck in my bag too.  I hate those plastic rain ponchos you buy at the dollar store. They have their purpose but they lack a lot of style !

Here is a look at my packing list for this trip (a 10 day cruise with 3 travel days before/after the cruise).  This is all beyond the normal dress dinner wear & shoes,  undergarments, pajamas, sandals and sneakers, swim suit and sunscreen, wine opener & stopper and refillable water bottle/coffee cup.

  • Fleece hat;
  • 1 pair mittens; 1 pair lined gloves;
  • binoculars
  • warm socks & sneaker socks
  • 5 long sleeve tee shirts
  • 5 pair pants (nylon/zip off legs) water resistant fabric
  • 3 pair leggings/tights
  • 4 short sleeve tee-shirts (2 performance wear for cycling / exercise)
  • lightweight zip front hoodie style sweater
  • sturdy walking shoes
  • bug spray
  • Columbia Ski Jacket with zip out fleece layer.
  • Rain Caper poncho
  • ball cap (to keep rain off my glasses)
  • Tilly sun hat

Yes, all this is in a large suitcase. I use those plastic zip-style compression bags to ensure it all “fits” and nothing gets wet when the suitcase sits on the tarmac at the airport or in the rain while loading.  (Happen just about every trip….)  I weighed the suitcase and it comes in at 43 pounds. Gives me some options for tossing in things like my English paper piecing project bag and other odds and ends I can’t quite live without.

I really liked the day pack I ordered; and it may replace the much heavier one I usually carry on the plane. My husband laughed when it arrived because he said I would “never” get it re-zipped into it’s own pocket. So, I decided to video as I “unzipped” it out of it’s pocket to keep as a reminder of how it should be “rezipped” later.

Hey, when you get old, you sometimes have to have little memory triggers, right?

Our trip starts in San Francisco on Saturday; followed by two sea days sailing the Pacific coastline. We dock on Tuesday in Ketchikan Alaska. My sister and I are scheduled to go to the “Lumberjack show” in the morning; and sail at 2 pm. That should give us a little time to wander about town.  The next day we are in Juneau, where I have signed up for a “Bike & Brew Glacier View” excursion. The bike ride finishes at a brew pub at 5 pm; and we are in port until 9 pm; so there is plenty of time to wander around Juneau. The next day we will be in Skagway and I have schedule a “rain forest bicycle tour”.  It finishes up before lunch time and again, there is plenty of sightseeing time before we sail at 8:30 pm. We spend Friday sailing though Tracy Arm, looking at the glaciers and wildlife.  We have another sea day on Saturday, and dock in Victoria BC on Sept 1st.  I haven’t figured out yet what I want to do in Victoria. Sunday is a tough time to visit on your own (without going on a tour). Our time is port is from 7 am to 2 pm; so if you have a recommendation; tell me.  Our cruise finishes up with another sea day going South along the Pacific coastline and dock back in San Francisco on Tuesday.

I think I am fairly prepared and 99% packed for this trip. At least I won’t need the warm jacket at home this week or any of those long sleeve shirts!!  Fingers crossed that we have lovely 70 degree weather for the 10 days; but my expectation is wet and rainy at low 50’s.  Watch for a travel update when I return.

What are you doing for fun this month?

 

 

Sewing with the Seniors

Monday was my first day back “sewing with the seniors” at the assisted living facility. I have not been there on a regular basis since last fall due to physical limitations on my part.

I have to say, I could not have managed without the participation of my husband. He was my “saving grace” getting the ladies machines plugged in; machines “reassembled” etc. Honestly; only one lady had the ability to thread her machine and needle on her own. The rest needed assistance with getting the thread through the guides and tension discs; and through the needle; winding bobbins etc.  Two ladies “brought” their machines to our workshop. The other two ladies were using machines that were “donated” to the facility.  Sadly the facility did not set up enough machines, so some ladies just got to “watch” and talk.  I know there are other machines in a closet somewhere, but…..no staff to go find them.  (This is a $15K/month facility and some things just make me scratch my head.)

I decided the project for the next few sessions will be “Quilt as you go” placemats. I chose this project because our local quilt shop has a charity drive going on. Here are the details from Serendipity Quilt Shop, https://www.serendipityquiltshop.com/ Dagsboro DE website —” Studies have shown that persons receiving home bound meals (similar to Meals on Wheel) feel motivated to eat meals on a more regular basis if they have an attractive place setting.

CHEER has been serving Sussex County since 1971 and provides over 230,000 meals annually to eligible home bound seniors in Sussex County. This vital service ensures that no senior in Sussex County goes hungry. 

As quilters, we can support the meal program and these seniors. Use up your scraps or other fabrics that you often wondered why you purchased and make placemats!   Perhaps you’d like to attend a free Sit & Sew and make placemats!  60% of home bound meals are delivered to men so please keep this in mind while sewing the placemats.

Our goal is to provide 1200 placemats this year. Please join us in our effort to make our seniors feel remembered and cared for by making placemats that are approximately 12” x 16” or 14” x 18”.  

To prep for the day of sewing with the seniors, I cut backing fabric 15″ x 19″ and prepared batting of the same size. My batting was what I called “Frankenbatting”….scraps of batting cut and fused together with Pellon easy-knit tape (EK150), looking a bit like a mad scientist creation when done, but highly functional. I use this often and had to order a new  package this week.

I really like this product; quick and easy to use. Just straighten the edge and butt the join together and press the tape down. I have BAGS of cut-off scraps of batting that are just “too big” to cut up for dog bed filler!  This is a great way to use them.  Anyway….once I had my fabric and batting ready; I used a bit of ODIF 505 spray baste and affixed the backing to the batting.  I gave it a little press with the iron and in no time had 10 placemat sets ready for sewing.

The ladies were given direction and assistance as they sewed the precut strips I provided to the batting and backing.  We assisted with finger pressing in between strips.

Working on placemats

 

Over the course of an hour and 1/2 we played with a lot of strips.  Trish got one finished and started a second one.  The other ladies will no doubt finish next week!

I trimmed down the only finished placemat when I got home and added the binding.  Trish had picked the placemat intended for a man. It has bold colorful stripes on the back and she worked with “non” floral fabrics.

Quilt as you go placemat by Trish

Off & on all week I have been trimming my friend June’s stash of blue & green fabric and setting aside “more strips” for next week; and selecting other fabrics that will make pretty placemat backs.  Since I have all her fabric, and she is part of the group, I thought it was a great way to use her fabric. She enjoyed seeing “familiar” pieces. I enjoy that she is back to sewing after almost 2 years.

The ladies seemed to enjoy the project, doing something for someone else.  They just “want to sew” and I hope that sewing for someone else will give them some personal satisfaction too.  Honestly, the residents at this facility live in 1 or 2 room apartments and don’t have room for any “stuff”; so anything they make gets given away.