Retreat and UFO

Every year, since I have been a member of Ocean Waves Quilt Guild, there has been a retreat in early February.  I’ve attended many of these retreats and always enjoy the time spent with so many creative, talented people. As in the past, we meet at a lovely beach front hotel in Ocean City Maryland, where we are greeted most mornings with spectacular sunrises in our ocean front rooms. 

640 Dawn's early light - Ocean City MD Sunrise

There are 9 more photo’s in this sunrise series you can see hereOcean City Sunrise photo’s

It is inspiring to wake up early at this retreat, so you don’t miss the glorious sunrise.  Breakfast is at 7:30, and we are sewing by 9 am !

I took with me many items to work on at the retreat.  Turns out, only ONE project captured most of my time and energy.  I dug out one of my oldest UFO’s and brought it along, with the intent of quilting.  Just how old is it?   You can read about it back in 2012 here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/unfinished-projects-starting-to-bug-me/

and here https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/crossroads-pattern/

and here-  https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/playing-with-borders/

About a year ago, I came across a bit of fabric that was in the same deep red/brown tones and I tucked it into the box for backing of this project.  So, when I pulled it out to take to retreat, I just needed a bit of batting.  This project was about 44″ square.  I am happy to say I finished all the quilting during the retreat. I cut the backing and batting and pin basted in our hotel suite on Tuesday night, so I was ready to start stitching when the classroom opened on Wednesday morning.  I worked two solid days quilting this, and thought it is small, there were TONS of starts and stops, and turning constantly. I decided right away I was going to “pull up” the bobbin thread, and use my lock stitch on my Janome for my start & stops, and not burying all those threads. It’s a wall hanging and a 6 year old UFO !  (I’m not putting it in a show, so hush you quilt police)  (Oh, and by the way, I KNOW there are a few crappy HST and a few geese that lost their points in this project….they jumped out at me while quilting….hey it was before I knew what I was doing…..)

Quilted and bound

 

I did most of the quilting using my walking foot. The exception is in the wide border of hearts, I used a stitch that is connected hearts, and in the narrow red border I did the same stitch.  On the outer red heart border I did some wavy stitching.  I like to use these built in to the machine stitches if possible.  They make quilting a lot easier.  If you want to see close-ups of the various quilting that I did, look at the photo’s here – UFO Finish  .  (There is also a photo of the back where the techniques I used really show). 

Yesterday,  I trimmed it down to about 40″ square, as I felt the final borders were TOO wide.  I used up a bunch of left over bits of the red to make a scrappy binding, and did the Susie’s Magic Binding technique. (Some call it binding with a flange or piping) If you have never tried this method, check out the tutorial here – Susie’s Magic Binding Tutorial(Watch the video’s too…)

I used the same fabric that is in the area around the flying geese in the flange for the binding. I love that little pop of color along the edge. I added a hanging sleeve while I was doing the binding, and the last thing that needs to be finished is to hand stitch the bottom and ends of the hanging sleeve and make a label!

Since this was the “big deal” for me at the retreat, I will stop here and ask – what is the OLDEST UFO you have sitting around, and WHY didn’t you finish what you started?  

I will tell you why this went “in the box”.  We were doing a new project every week in the class and I was overwhelmed.  I also could not figure out how to “finish”.  Our instructor had scaled the pattern in Pat Sloan’s “I Can’t Believe I’m Quilting” down to just a 1 block project instead of a whole quilt, and I didn’t “know” what to do at the time.  Of course, a few years of experience were needed under my belt before I could say, enough is enough and a wall hanging is just “fine”.  🙂

More about the retreat in the next post!

 

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Scrap Decisions

I have mastered the scraps!  I have battled and won!  They are contained!  I have trimmed and cut and put order to some of the chaos and declare victory! Phew….that’s enough for now!  Yesterday I declared victory over the basket of blues, and since then I have gone through the red & oranges and basket of browns & blacks.  The yellow stacker is EMPTY!  (Ok; I haven’t tackled the laundry hamper and those zip lock bags, but I have met my goal!!!)

I was getting a little anxious because nearly a week has gone by and I had not “pulled” my fabric for Carole’s Scrap Dance Square Dance Mystery Quilt!  Are you dancing too???  Info on the mystery is here – Square Dance Begins

As I was taming the scraps, I was setting aside pieces cut to size for the Square Dance Mystery.

Step One is to cut those fabrics.

Today, I gathered up those pieces and counted out what was required and determined I had plenty set out for a Twin Sized project.  All is ready except my fabric A which needs to be cut.

Scrap Dance Square Dance Fabric pull

(Do you see Elvis?)  (Notice the Superman fabric?)  (How about those wonderful fish?) (and Cats?) (hiding in among these lovelies are llamas too!)

Selections for Scrap Dance Square Dance

 

Everything came directly from the scraps in the “yellow stacker” that I have mentioned in the last few blog posts except Fabric A.  I (gasp) took it out of my neutral box that was set aside for my Bonnie Hunter project that is a UFO. It was “just the right size”.  I went with it because Carole had suggested a tone on tone would be favorable for this constant Fabric A.

Fabric A - the ONE constant

So, many thanks to the friends who have gifted me their scraps in the last year!  I look forward to including them all in this Square Dance mystery!

When you are out “shopping” for fabrics, I strongly encourage you to pick up a few yards of those great neutrals that work for background fabrics and stash them away.  A few days ago a friend of mine came in search of “low volume” neutrals for background fabrics. Sometimes they are not easy to find, and we went “digging” in the scrap bins for her bits and pieces.

I am heading “back” to the sewing room to cut “Fabric A” and put all those lovely scraps that I have cut and sorted for this project into a nice basket to await Step 2 in February!  And, perhaps, between now and then I will get back to one of those other projects that has been hanging around for a while!

Happy scrapping!

PS – One of my readers asked “what sizes” do I cut and save – Here is “MY” list – which, as I have mentioned is a combination of Bonnie Hunter and Joan Ford.  I have this list on the wall by my cutting table, and it is a good reminder. It helps me to look at the fabric and get the best use from a raggedy mess!  Remember – press and CUT THE SCRAPS!

CUT THE SCRAPS
SQUARES BRICKS
1.5 2 x 3
2 2 x 3.5
2.5 2.5 x 3.5
3 2.5 x 6
3.5 2.5 x 6.5
4.5 3 x 5
5 3.5 x 6
STRIPS
1.5
2
2.5
3.5
4
5
6

Blue boredom Strings

I’m bored….I must be feeling better!

I’ve been cutting scraps for the last couple of weeks.  I can’t focus on my projects because I have had a run of bronchitis and the cough syrup and meds make me fuzzy.   I’m tired of being sick. I’m bored cutting scraps. I must be getting better!

I’ve missed a guild meeting, church services, my Queen Bee’s yesterday……My friends are calling and wanting to bring food or run errands, my Pastor called to find out if I was alive, I have missed newsletter deadlines at church…..I am not having any fun. 😦    I’m all done (out of patience) with the coughing!  With the terrible flu that is going around, I am avoiding going out to do anything. I don’t want to add my nasty germs to the mix.  Google said it takes 3 weeks to get over this, and my visit last week to the doctor confirmed what I already knew.  I decided it was risky to return to the doctor when I seem to be on the tail end. (Too many sick people to come in contact with at the Doc’s office)

For the last 2 weeks, all I have managed to do is stand at the iron and press scraps, and stand at the cutting table and cut into my “scrap management” sizes. This was a much needed therapy from being stuck in the recliner too sick to care.

Now, I am 3/4 of the way through the yellow tower of terror….down to the blue level, and only 2 more to go plus the basket on the floor underneath……progress…..

Scraps by color waiting to be ironed and cut

I’ve grown tired of fiddling with scraps. My string boxes (5 shoeboxes) were full.  No place to put any more cut pieces.  And my sewing machine is calling, loudly, to sew.  I can sit and sew for hours without expending a lot of energy. I MUST be getting better. It helps to just sit and stare out at the tree tops while I mindlessly sew.

I grabbed an old phone book, and removed some pages, got out the paper cutter and cut 6.5″ squares, and just started to sew. Three days, and 3 or more bobbins later, I have a few string blocks. 

Blue boredom

 The bronchitis is better, still coughing, reduced meds, so less fuzzy headed. My sewing room is calling to me. I am getting better.  SEWING IS THERAPY!

I just need 1 more 6.5″ string block to bring the number up to 60. (Fuzzy brain miscounted when cutting the phone book papers……)(Oh heck, why not…I should make 100…..)  Not sure what will happen to these pretty little blue blocks with their pops of purple. The will end up in a ziplock and I will add them to a charity quilt at some point.

Sometimes a little mindless sewing along with an audio book is the perfect medicine. (That, and the milkshake the hubby brought me when he was out running errands yesterday).  I might be cured……

Now, back to the scrap management. I feel inspired to clear out the rest of the blues that are pressed and on the table waiting to be cut……projects await and my fuzzy brain is clearing.

Do you do “mindless sewing” when you are bored? 

Linking up to  Oh Scrap! today.

 

 

 

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?

Final sewing of 2017

My last “sewing” for 2017 has been done!  I spent a few hours “cleaning up” and “putting away” a lot of mess in my sewing room. I cleaned off my cutting table and put a lot of stuff away.  I cleared off my “work table” and made room for a project.

Once that was done, I pulled out my pattern book and box of fabric and basket of blocks for Grandma’s Kitchen – by Pat Sloan.

I stopped working on these in mid October before I left on a trip for a month. These are the first 16 blocks(not in pattern order).

Sixteen blocks completed

I needed to pick up at block 17 and hopefully finish up at block 25; plus make all the setting blocks.  (That is going to take a week or two).

But before I could even begin to sew I had to figure out the layout with the various size blocks and how I was going to “balance” the colors throughout the rest of the quilt. What I decided to do is lay the blocks out, as the pattern indicated, and do a little “coloring” so I could plan the future blocks.  (LOTS OF PLANNING still needs to happen!)

Making sense of the layout

Once the planning for the next 2 blocks was done, I got busy and made block 16, and pulled the fabrics for block 17.  I think it did help to do a bit of coloring, because I could better understand as I colored in the blocks, where there needed to be more of a particular color.  I know I need to get a little more pink and purple and orange into the quilt.  I am trying to decide how to do those filler blocks and make sense of them too. I made a decision on the fabric for the “spool block” too.  I want to use one of the stripe fabrics I have for the middle of the spool.  (While I was sorting piles of fabric, my husband was watching, and figured out what I was up to and provided a bit of his color sense to what I was doing. I find his opinion most helpful).

Meanwhile, my design wall has been full for the last 6 months and I need to get going to get the borders on my Talkin’ Turkey!

1 row to go

That is all it needs. (The blocks and rows and columns are all sewn together, and the borders are made, ready to attach!)  I need to free up my design wall!!

I decided that I will “stop again” after block 17, and clear the work table and get those borders on, so I can get the Grandma’s Kitchen blocks up on the design wall!  Priorities.  🙂 (It is so much easier to sit back and ponder the layout on the wall than on a flat surface) (I told the hubby I need another design wall…..capable of holding a king size quilt! I just don’t have a spot for it.  Wondering if anybody “layers” their design wall and puts more that one quilt on it at a time??  Hmmmmm)

Following all that contemplation and coloring, I did finally do a little sewing – the last for 2017.

I present block 16 for now…..more to follow in 2018!

Block 17 Grandma's Kitchen

Happy New Year everyone!

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