Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Cheerful 30s Quilt

 Since spring is really showing off all her prettiest colors, I thought I would share a quilt that I like to use on our bed in the spring time. 

This 30s quilt barely covers the top of our queen size bed, but I put it on anyway. It is just so cheerful and colorful - the perfect compliment to those colors Mother Nature is providing all around us. Yellow daffodils and forsythia; bluebells; tulips of every color; hyacinths; dogwoods; redbuds; flowering pears and so very many more - the hillsides around us are awash in color.

The story on this quilt - you know, every quilt has a story, right? - I hand pieced all the blocks at track meets when our son was in high school. That would date the blocks to 1997 - 2001. Every fabric has a positive/negative block. Do you know what I mean? Where the background is neutral in one block, the other block with that fabric is exactly the opposite. The blocks are then set randomly, but alternate between print and neutral backgrounds. 

I had seen a similar quilt in ads for some long-forgotten product in quilt magazines. I studied it often when I came across it, and as it continued to grow on me, I knew I had to make it. That lead me to searching block books to see what this was. Tennessee Puzzle, I learned.

Track meets afford a person lots and lots of free time. Of course, I watched all the events, but I was most interested, naturally, in our son's events. Rather than to just sit around, I stitched, and made nearly all of these blocks at various high school tracks spread across south-central Ohio.

Like many of the quilts I made during these years, my grandmother hand quilted it for me in simple outline fashion. She told me she enjoyed quilting on these 30s reproduction prints, as they were reminiscent of the real ones she used as a young wife and mother. 

I'm here at the quilt retreat and getting lots of things done. All the girls are having a great time; Quite a few quilt tops have been finished. Several are working on UFOs while others are playing catch-up on various sew alongs. We shopped on Monday and yes, I have new stuff. The best part is how wonderful it's been to have this get-away with the girlfriends and just stitch to our hearts' content.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Monday, April 12, 2021

Sew Along Update - Week 7


Good Monday Morning, Fellow Sewists! Have you been making some progress on your Spring Dreams quilts? I would think that some folks are making good headway through the process - maybe even approaching a finish?? 

Please don't feel as though I am rushing you, though! We are here to enjoy the creative process of stitching beautiful fabrics together in a pleasing design. It's a satisfying endeavor, and it can calm the nerves and relax the mind. I just know that this quilt goes together so fast, that once you get started, I am sure you will be well on your way to a finish in no time. 

I was in need of a small quilt to practice my long arm quilting on this past week, so I loaded my little table topper version, Scrappy Spring Dreams, into the machine and gave it a quick, meandering quilting. Let me show you some closeups.

My decision to quilt this came entirely from my need to work out some tension issues on the long arm machine. Little quilts seemed the most efficient way to test out my troubleshooting efforts. The bonus is that one quilt from the sew along is quilted - granted, it is the smallest of the quilts - but a finish is a finish, regardless.

I am using the backing fabric as my binding, and that will be finished at the retreat I am attending this week.

 The fabrics used on the quilt's top are all scraps, and taken from bins definitively marked as scraps. In choosing backing fabric, I used a piece of yardage that really was not earmarked for any purpose. It is not uncommon for me to purchase yardage - especially when on sale - for the express purpose of a backing on some future quilt. It seemed fitting that this is exactly what I thought about as I pulled this blue and beige print. All good! Using the stash and the scraps! This couldn't make me happier!

Keep on stitching on those Spring Dreams! I will try to be more active in posting on Instagram; I invite you to do the same. Use the hashtag #springdreamsquiltalong. This will help us keep them organized and make it easier to see other Spring Dreams creations as folks work on them.

Let me also remind you to visit blogger Helen Philipps. It was a picture on her Instagram feed that inspired this sew along. She gave us her blessings to conduct the quilt along, and since then she has released a pattern for her pretty little quilt which can be found on her Etsy shop. Look for Spring Nine Patch.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Planning for the Week Ahead

Some of you know that this coming week is the quilt retreat for the Frankfort Girls group I sew with. The pandemic forced our canceling last year's retreat, naturally. So we are long overdue for our week of stitching together. Instead of sewing, today, I am packing my projects, loading the car and prepping my contributions for meals.

Reviewing the projects I intend to work on this week seemed like a good plan for today's post. It'll be sorta' like a mini goals list.

In honor of Slow Sunday Stitching, my frequent Sunday post, I will share some handwork that will be completed this week: binding and applique. Two little quilts need binding, and I am taking Lake Effect (which I share most Sundays) to stitch on the applique vines, leaves and berries. Below are the two little quilts needing binding.

Both were quilted this week in my efforts to properly set the tension on the long arm machine. I put two small quilts into the machine at once, and focused almost entirely on upper and lower tension adjustments. I also concentrated on free-motion quilting.

After retreat, I have to work on finishing the commission t-shirt quilt, my reason for precise tension. I am almost there because I practice and tinker on small quilts of my own. This has been a good idea; with each quilt I do, with each pass of the machine across the frame, I gain more and more confidence in my mastery of the long arm.

But I digress. My focus today is retreat planning, not quilting for a customer. 

The marbled blue will be the binding.

Besides the hand work of bindings and applique, I have big plans for machine sewing. My agenda includes making the connecting blocks for the Double Irish Chain. I have completed the bigger task of making the 25-patch blocks. It should be relatively easy to complete the remaining blocks, and maybe even construct the quilt top.

Another near-finish on my radar is the red and white quilt, which I have not blogged about very much. I've been rather sporadically making star blocks (shown below), and now both sets of blocks are done; again, just connecting blocks remain. Since I am figuring out the quilt from a picture, this will require a bit of brain work, but I am confident I can manage it.

The connecting block for this quilt involves flying geese units, so. . . MATH. Oh dear. *wink*

And should all of the above be finished, I am taking a just-in-case project. It is from Grandma's quilting boxes, one that she worked on very late in her life. I have always thought I'd finish it, yet had no ideas for doing so. Now I believe I have come up with a worthwhile plan, so I am taking it 'just in case.' Here is one of Grandma's blocks.

That, in a nutshell, outlines the work I am planning for the retreat. I'm taking the laptop, so posting from our retreat site should be manageable. I won't promise any great or lengthy posts, but I do plan to check in.

Hope you all have a productive week! Tomorrow is Sew Along Update day, (link to last update) so come on back to see the latest news!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

New Irish Chains

All those visits to the 1980s and '90s earlier this week were for the purpose of giving me time to complete my first stack of blocks for a new Double Irish Chain Quilt. At last I have finished them. 

Sharon and I worked on our Double Irish Chains when she was here Tuesday. She actually started a week earlier and was already sewing blocks. I was a bit behind her; I cut my first strips Tuesday morning, and have worked steadily this week to finish 24 blocks, which is what you see above.

The two of us are so different in our approaches to making blocks. I HAVE to see a block as soon as possible, so I make one start to finish, even though it means jumping ahead in the directions to do so. Sharon, on the other hand, is content to work through the process step by step, steady as can be, and see all her blocks at last, on the final step.

Sharon and her miles of strip-pieced blocks coming together.

 She did finish all her blocks Tuesday, and so I can do a side-by-side comparison of the variations in our colors. Both of us are doing blue quilts, but you know how blues are - as varied as can be.

The navy blue on top is Sharon's. Her white is all white. My blue is called Regatta by Kona, and my white is actually a white-on-white print. 

Is it crazy to want to do one in all the colors? I can see how gorgeous the quilt would be in so many different colors - do a search on Pinterest - they are plentiful, and all beautiful. *sigh*

My stack of blocks now await their connecting blocks, which are yet to be cut out. I have packed all of the parts into a tub to take to the retreat on Monday. Yes, more work on this quilt will happen while at the quilting retreat. I am sure to provide many details on the retreat, so stay tuned.

Before I sign off today, let me share a couple of pretty pictures taken in our yard. Spring is really popping around these parts, and I can't help but snap pictures of the glorious budding and leafing.

Redbud trees grow wild around here, and a drive along any country road will avail the observer to see redbuds in a variety of pinks and fuschias. However, on our property, we have never seen any growing wild, until just last year when we found one in the woods. DH has helped sturdy it a bit with a fence post and it seems to be responding well. Above that, we have one which we transplanted from my mother's yard. It has taken a few years, but at last we have blooms! I know these trees seed themselves, so we are hopeful that more will appear.

We have given up trying to raise tulips. The rabbits and deer devour them. However, one has survived, and she looks quite pretty showing off all alone. (I'm betting she'll be tonight's supper for some hungry varmint.)

Happy Quilting, Friends!









Next up will be the setting blocks, but those will wait until Monday.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Way-Back Machine - Finale

The third installment of the way-back machine takes me to the final Double Irish Chain from the 1980s. After making a couple using 2 colors (see previous 2 posts),  I came back with a 3-color version.

Grandma definitely quilted this for me. The straightforward stitch in the ditch is a dead giveaway. As Grandma aged, she was less and less inclined to mark quilts with fancy designs; she preferred the less back-breaking methods. Who can blame her?!

I like this design, and if I were to make another 3-color version, I think I would do a green one to honor the Irish in the name. I don't own any green quilts, either, so it seems like a nice idea. Maybe someday.

Two notes to mention regarding this quilt. First, it has never been used, and maybe washed only once. It has been folded in a cupboard for most of its 30-some years. And that brings me to the second note, the fading. Above, the most dominant fading shows up in the border. This is the prime reason why people are told to refold quilts in storage every so often. This fading is permanent - no fixing.  *sad*

I guess a third note is that I can recall literally nothing about making this quilt. I do not recall selecting the fabrics, cutting or stitching it, conferring with Grandma about quilting it - Nothing. It actually surprised me to see it in the cupboard. Is that weird, or what?

This completes the little trip in the way-back machine. I made 3 Double Irish Chain quilts back in the late 80s-early 90s, and now I am in the mood to make another. I spent Tuesday with Sharon stitching on mine, and perhaps tomorrow I will be back to show you some progress.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Way-Back Machine, part 2

We are still in the late 1980s today with a look at a different Double Irish Chain. Still just two colors, this one was made for Dear Daughter #1, Erin. Born in 1985, Erin was likely getting a big-girl bed and needed a quilt, of course.

The color is indicative of a popular color from the late '80s - dusty rose. Both fabrics are calico-type prints, and I was just sure it would become a classic favorite for Erin. I don't recall that she was ever very enamored by this quilt; as she got older, it was relegated to being folded up in the top of the closet, or covered with something more kid-oriented.

I am having a hard time remembering who quilted this quilt. More than likely, I had my grandmother do it for me. However, I have a bit of doubt. Because it is all cross-hatch quilted, even into the borders, I wonder if I might have done this one? Maybe? I don't know what quilting frame I would have used, because I am sure this quilt was made before I had my Q-Snap frame. I don't remember a hoop, either. I guess I have a mystery on my hands.

My pictures show varying shades of that dusty rose color, and I blame the natural light in the room at the time I was snapping them. The sun was fierce; I closed the curtains, waited on cloud cover, tried all sorts tricks to affect the lighting and get a true read on the color. The top pic is most accurate.

Tomorrow, I will have one more Double Irish Chain to share from the way-back machine. I really did get on a roll with this pattern. After that, I hope to be far enough along on my present-day sewing to show you a new Double Irish Chain.

Housekeeping Note: I tinkered around a little bit with the settings on the blog, attempting to remedy a problem with readers' ability to email me. If you are ever inclined to ask about anything that you don't want to leave in a comment, try the form in the sidebar (laptop version), or go to my 'about' profile to click the email link.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Way-Back Machine: Late 1980s

Awhile back I mentioned that one quilt flashing strongly on my radar is a Double Irish Chain in two colors. I even shared a picture of the fabrics to be used for it. 

Sharon has also been interested in doing a Double Irish Chain in two colors, and this has led us to recalling our earliest days of quilting. We were young homemakers with young children; we were new teachers, too, so our plates were plenty full. Yet we felt a pull to making quilts.

A long-ago quilt shop in town offered an intriguing class - Quilt In A Day - by the time participants left after a full Saturday of stitching, they'd have a completed quilt top. I took the class, and here is my quilt, worn and used.

I do not recall that Sharon took this class with me; I rather believe it was Kay, another colleague and Frienzie. Actually, I recall very little about making this quilt. It seems that store employees did all the pressing and sub-cutting; participants simply sat and stitched all day long.

I do recall going to the shop ahead of the class to buy the fabric. I told the shop owner what I wanted, and she helped me pick out this navy blue print. I then bought my first rotary cutter, ruler, and mat. I had to cut all the strips for the quilt before coming to the class. This was my maiden voyage using all those new-fangled tools.

The Quilt In A Day series by the modern-day quilting pioneer Eleanor Burns was a gift from heaven for working moms of the 1980s. There is no way I would have been able to do this on my own with a full time job and two young children. This particular book for the Double Irish Chain was copyrighted in 1986, and this class would have been offered soon after publishing. Whatever the year, I felt very accomplished after making this quilt, and was so pleased with the results.

Grandma quilted it for me. I am sure we discussed which of her templates she'd use in the setting squares; and I am sure I requested the chains be stitched to enhance that diagonal element.

I plan to stuff this quilt into the washing machine on a very gentle cycle. It is so grungy and gray-looking. Hopefully, I can breathe new life into it. In addition to the dull white, some bits of the binding are worn and tattered. I wonder if I can work out a way to fix/repair it . . .

I plan to bring you a couple more posts in which I explore my way-back-when excursion into making Double Irish Chain quilts. Yes, I have more.

Happy Quilting, Friends!