More fun with Scraps

I’m still “dancing” with the Scrap Dance Pachanga mystery quilt by blogger Carole at From My Carolina Home. Last week was Step 7 in the mystery. We got the instructions (still available on the blog) for Block A. It was fun to put some of the bits and pieces from previous steps together. Here are my blocks.

Block A Scrap Dance Pachanga 2021
Block A Scrap Dance Pachanga Mystery Quilt

This block used some of the 4 patches, 2 patch rectangle units and some of the half square triangle units. It was fun to play around with the colors and try to balance them out a little bit. These blocks went together quickly. I am doing the throw size this year. (In the past I have done the king size for most of the Scrap Dance mystery quilts).

Next step comes out on May 14th and I am looking forward to what we do with the other units left in my project basket.

I was inspired by my friend Nancy to do a bit of “cleanup” in my sewing room. She & I were working through some donations for the quilt guild, sorting and organizing. Alright….Nancy was doing all the sorting and organizing and I was playing with the scraps, trying to save as many as possible. One donation I picked up in March came with a bunch of plastic drawer units. These units had been stacked up all over the place in my garage, and needed to be emptied of the contents. As we did the emptying, I realized these drawers would fit just under one of my cutting tables, and might help me better contain my own scraps.

New scrap storage plan

Since the guild is not currently meeting, and storage space is at a premium here, I sold those drawer units…..to me. We usually sell this type of thing for at the guild, at a “fair price”. Because they are bulky to transport and store, I often sell them for considerably less than what you would pay for them new. (If I have to drag them to a meeting to sell, I don’t want to drag them back home !) We probably won’t meet until the fall at the guild to sell anything, and I decided I “needed” those draws! I guess I can always “donate” them back later if the system doesn’t work for me. But, for now….I am happy~!

I took all the scraps that have accumulated for sorting/trimming and sorted them by color into the drawers. Previously, these were piling up in an open basket stacked sorting system and it was starting to overwhelm me. In the process, I also emptied out a “laundry hamper” of scraps, and cleaned my cutting table.

Cleaning up the cutting table
Cutting table is cleaned!

My cutting table has been buried in stuff for a while, but now, the big baskets are projects, and the smaller ones are things I still need to trim. I unearthed several things I set aside for later and gave them their own big basket. A couple of bits ended back up on the design wall for inspiration.

leftover blocks
Inspiration pieces

I really am inspired to turn that big block with the checkerboard border into a pillow. The house blocks are leftover from a class at the guild, and I want to keep making some.

During the “scrap sorting” I set aside a basket full of “leftover block/units” for crumb quilts.

I busied myself for a couple of days, inspired by Pat Sloan, making crumb blocks. You might recognize some of the pieces in the crumb blocks below from the big block above. That center house block may come out and end up on the wall with the other houses too.

I never “got to the bottom” of the crumb block basket. Really I just skimmed the surface and have made about 25 blocks. I will have to find a cohesive way to put them together and turn them into a quilt at some point. Meanwhile, they have been assigned to their own project basket and I moved along to something else.

I had lots of scraps to work on for the guild, things that were donated. I set a timer and worked on them for one hour, and got them all ironed.

Now that these small pieces are ironed and sorted by color and general size, I will trim them up. If they are of a size that I can price and sell at the guild meeting then they will get folded and priced. There were a lot of “fall colors” and I think I see a nice “bundle” coming together.

Speaking of fall colors, you might recall back in November I mentioned I was “Stuck in the Middle” of quilting my Autumn Jubilee quilt. This is another pattern by Carole/From My Carolina Home. Thanks to my friend Nancy, this past week I was able to FINALLY finish the quilting. It has languished on the frame for 5 months, all while I picked out poor stitching. The quilting is now DONE! The quilt is off the frame, trimmed and ready for the addition of the label and binding.

making binding
Binding for Autumn Jubilee

The binding will go on fairly quickly, as it is all done by machine. The main color of the binding is the stripe, with just that little green flange showing on the face of the quilt. The method I love is called Susie’s Magic Binding. I love sharing the link to Aunt Marti’s 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks blog. It is where I first saw this type of binding and the directions are so well written, along with a subsequent video. I was a fairly new quilter when I learned this method and love to share with others. The “hardest part” of the method is joining the two ends, and I just recommend you take your time, use a basting stitch to make sure you have a nice alignment. I know with a stripe pattern, some may not be happy with diagonal stripes not aligning, but personally, I am not worried at all. Time to go make my label and next blog you will see the finished quilt top!

Speaking of labels, I finished and attached two more for the Senior Quilt project I was working on. The volunteers at church got together and tied the quilt two weeks ago.

Emily's quilt
Tied and ready to trim
Senior Quilt labels Emily
Modified a label from Kreative Kiwi

I used a label from Kreative Kiwi and eliminated the line where you might hand write the name. I inserted the names using fonts from my software.

Senior quilt labels 2021

The verse on the back of the quilt was digitized by Designs by JUJU. I’m not happy with the stitch out on this label, too many puckers but I figure it will have to do on a deadline. I am certain I had stabilizer pulling in the hoop as the stitch-out took place. I think once the quilt is washed and all that stabilizer “softens up” and the quilt crinkles it will not be so noticeable. I guess if you aren’t a machine embroiderer it wouldn’t matter, but it makes me a little nuts when I see that puckering.

I had to do a little bit of machine quilting on that quilt before putting the labels on the back. Our group tied the quilt, but the borders needed more “anchoring”.

adding some quilting
Stitching in the ditch and in the borders on Emily’s quilt

I used my walking foot and did a serpentine stitch, stretched to it’s maximum length on the yellow and blue borders, along with some basic straight stitching in the ditch along the borders. The wide backing came from Marshall’s Dry Goods (Batesville AR). If you are ever shopping for wide back, they are my preferred location, with quick service, and great prices.

Time to get busy and make that label for the Autumn Jubilee quilt and get the binding on. It is going to be a hot sunny day, and the pollen count is very high, so I think hanging out in the sewing room with the A/C running will keep my allergies in check.

What’s happening in your sewing room this week?

Senior Quilts, circa 2021

Every year since 2008 I have worked on quilts for the high school graduates of my church. Some years we have had half a dozen or more. Our biggest year had about 13 or 14 quilts. Last year we had just one graduate and this year there are only 2 graduates. When there are so few, it is easy to have a little more fun and make the quilts very unique.

Working with fabric donated for the purpose, my partners in quilting came up with an idea for this quilt together. The grandma of the graduate is a quilter and provided the fabric and some of the sweat equity in the construction of the quilt. We got together and cut out the fabric and then one member of the group stitched all the half square triangles. We got back together and cut the units apart, pressed and squared them up, and laid out the design. With three sewing machines going, we got the rows together quickly. I brought it home and joined up three sections and added the borders and photo’s and verses. Then we got together again and tied the quilt with white crochet thread. I decided it needed some quilting in the borders to finish it off. I added a verse for the back and a special label. Ordinary times the members of the church would leave messages of love and faith and sign the quilt. Since that isn’t possible this year we put more verses than usual on, along with the special label.

Christopher's senior quilt
Verses for Christopher
Serenity prayer on the back of the quilt
Label for Christopher
Quilt label on the back of the quilt
Isaiah 40 31
Isaiah 40:31
Proverbs 19 20
Proverbs 19:20
Jeremiah 29 11
Jeremiah 29:11
church photo
A photo of the church goes in one corner

All the bible verses were digitized by Designs by JuJu along with the Serenity prayer. The quilt label comes from Kreative Kiwi. The photo is printed on fabric. The binding is ready to be put on. I prepped the binding using the two border fabrics, using the method I like best – Susie’s Magic Binding.

binding for Christopher's quilt

One of our group will be doing that in April . The red border fabric and the backing fabric came from Marshall Dry Goods. They have lovely quality fabric and a reasonable price for wide backing.

Our second quilt is a bit more complex. When the mother told me the student liked all shades of blue, I decided to get a little “scrappy”. We had a church member donate a lot of fabric a few years back, and I have had my eyes on this lovely butterfly fabric for a long time. I found a stack of 5″ squares in the stash she donated that were all shades of blue and they were perfect.

Blocks in Emily's quilt
On the design wall.

I thought an alternate block using the Square in a Square would bring out the blues of the butterflies. I used the Jodi Barrows Square in a Square ruler, and “option 2″ for the alternate blocks. I was able to dig out plenty of interesting blue fabrics from the donated stash, so there are lots of shades of blue in the blocks. I worked on these blocks at home during February and finally got it put together in March. These are 8.5” blocks.

Emily's quilt partially assembled
Webbing together the quilt top

Once I had the blocks together I decided it needed a border, and looked to the scraps that were trimmed away when squaring the blocks up. Using my favorite Bonnie Hunter method, I made a pieced border using phone book pages cut to width. I made a narrow inner border out of yellow and the wider blue scrappy pieced border. I decided to measure my border lengths, and stitch the yellow and blue border together before attaching to the side of the quilt. That made it so easy, and I only had to struggle with getting the large quilt through the machine for “one” border. I made certain to stay stitch along the edge of the border before attaching it to the quilt as well.

Senior Quilt 2021 for Emily
outside on the lawn

The lighting wasn’t great when I took this photo outside, and the yellows do fade away. The color is more true on the design wall photo. This quilt has the church photo in one corner and just one verse in the upper right. I’m still working on the embroidery for the back of the quilt, the label and an additional 2 verses.

The backing fabric is on the way from Marshall Dry goods, a lovely royal blue in 108″ width. I made an error when I selected the color for the backing and the original order was too turquoise. There is a bit of turquoise in the quilt, but i wasn’t happy with it for this project, so I reordered. I will put the turquoise to work on the back of something else in the future. After the Easter break my quilting group will get together again and we will tie this quilt as well. I will probably do a little stitch in the ditch around the narrow yellow border just to secure things. As with the other quilt, there is a church member who has offered to do the binding on this quilt.

This year was a challenge to get together for a group sewing project because of COVID-19, and the work responsibilities and health issues of some of our regular quilters at church. I was so thankful to the two ladies who worked together on the red & white quilt, and the willingness of two others offering their help binding the quilts. It is nice to have willing workers and it takes the stress off when I have to keep things organized. So far we are “on time’ for these quilts and I imagine they will be presented in May to the graduates during a service.

That’s it for me for March! What’s going on in your sewing room?

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?

Little project

Recently, I have been working on little things and enjoying a bit more time in my sewing room now that September has brought in some cooler temperatures. Hot summer days in the sewing room over the garage can be a bit much, and the pool is always enticing me to goof off. The last few nights have been in the 60’s (F) and really chilled things off from those hot humid summer days.

I had a project “sitting around” for a while (only a year I think). The blocks I had were a result of some ‘pattern testing’ for my friend Carole (https://frommycarolinahome.com//) a while back. It is easiest for me to test a pattern by actually making a few blocks. I decided at the time to sew them together and make a table runner. That has been sitting by for at least 18 months I believe. Anyway, I decided to add some narrow white borders to frame it, and finish it up with straight line walking foot quilting. I did a little fun stitching on the border using a pattern built into my Janome 8900 sewing machine.

The pattern is from the Scrap Dance series, and this is the Scrap Dance Minuet. The pattern is available for purchase on Carole’s blog – https://frommycarolinahome.com/my-patterns/

Scrap Dance Minuet pattern

My setting isn’t one of the pattern options. I made 3 block A and 3 block B’s. Dimensions before the white borders were 12.5″ x 72.25″. I added 2″ wide borders and made 198″ of binding. Of course I used my favorite Susie’s Magic binding, and you can see the little pop of blue with daisies on the edge of the binding.

You may wonder about that dark binding. I just wanted something a little darker to ground the table runner. Besides…it matches the back of the table runner. You may think it is an “odd” fabric, but there was a point to it.

Label for table runner

This will be an anniversary gift for a couple we know. When I presented the idea to my husband he thought it was a great plan! The fella is a “train buddy” of my husband. He always jokes about the great locomotives he gifts his lovely bride for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. She is quite an artist, and I hope she enjoys the “floral” side. I can just picture him flipping it over to the “train track” side to tease her a little.

I had an interesting time making the label for the back on my Janome 11000 embroidery/sewing machine. I used a program on the computer called Embrilliance in Express Mode to do the wording. I couldn’t merge the art into that program because it is copy right protected. BUT, I was able to merge it on the screen of my embroidery machine. I am fairly excited that I was able to do that!

The little video below is about 7 seconds. At the very end you can see a snippet of the machine screen. It shows the time for stitching as about 62 minutes, 27000(+) stitches. For some reason, it took me considerably longer, as I fought thread breaks all the way through. But, I persevered and finished. Note, I changed to a metallic thread needle with a slightly bigger eye, added more stabilizer under the hoop, changed to different brand of thread and much more to try to get it to stitch out nicely.

Once this was finished stitching, I attached the label to the back of the quilt and got busy finishing the binding and hand stitching two edges of the label. I use a light weight fusible pellon when I make the label putting the fusible on the FRONT of the label with the fusing side towards the pretty side of the label. I stitch all around the label, then slit an X to make hole in the center of the fusing and “turn” the label. It gives the label a nice finished turned edge and I can press it on the back of the project. I like to catch two edges in the binding to minimize how much hand sewing I have to do. Having the fusing on the back makes for a neat edge on the label and helps to prevent removal of a label. (I learned that trick from Pat Sloan when she was making circles for applique. It works for lots of things I have found.) In hindsight, I should have left the cut-away stabilizer on the back of the label, as the backing fabric shows through the white fabric. Note to self for a future label project! Oh I always learn the hard way. Not turning back on this one though!

It felt good to finish this off and the timing to give it as an anniversary gift was perfect.

Are you clearing up any UFO’s??