Wednesday, March 3, 2021

February Wrap-Up

 I have some old business to bring to the table today, readers, and I don't want it to get any more stale than it already is. I need to put a wrap on February, a month short on days, long on snow and gray, and - for me, at least - long on productivity.

I am so glad to see that I was working through those long, gray days with frequent snow and sub-normal temperatures. In fact, when I sorted through all the pictures from the month for the top nine to use in my collage, I had a really hard time paring down my options. That rarely happens on a long month!

Top Row

Sharon and I agreed to begin the new year making a pattern called Lucy. I did most of my construction in January, and finished the flimsy in early February, so that is the quilt you see first. Next, I felt it necessary to document the snow we had for nearly the entire month, so you see a part of our back yard in the middle pic. On the end, a quickie made from scraps, a little zipper bag. 

Middle Row

On an absolute whim, I grabbed two Layer Cakes of older French General fabrics to make an easy quilt called Stargazer. The pattern is one of the free ones offered on the Moda website. In the middle, and hard to see really well, cardinals waiting near our bird feeders. We have so many that frequent our feeders, and it is not unusual to count over a dozen males at a time. Watching them provides much entertainment. The T-Shirt quilt is a commission I worked on for a local gal. Her son will graduate from MHS in May. I am planning to quilt it soon.

Bottom Row

Spring Dreams, the sew along quilt. I love how this looks, and it was so incredibly fun, simple, and easy to make. A long-overdue baby quilt finally found its way on and off the long arm and is now ready to give to the 1-year-old's family. The final day of February saw me loading Meadow Lily onto the long-arm frame. It should be coming off before week's end.

So far, 2021 has been productive. I am feeling all sorts of energy to make quilts. Yesterday, I dug out the red quilt project box and got back to making stars like this. 



Hope you all are having a great week! Have you checked out the sew along my friends and I are doing together? The super-simple quilt I mentioned above in the collage is my effort in that regard. Now, I am working on one that is more scrappy, and I may begin one in patriotic prints. I find that this quilt lends itself to using up scraps, and that is a major bonus, in my opinion. Click here to read more about the sew along.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

March Goals

 Now that the sew along is officially launched, which was the official order of business in yesterday's post, I will take today's post to do the usual first-of-the-month housekeeping - outlining potential projects for the month ahead.

First up for me is to quilt this quilt for a bride-to-be. The wedding is later this month, so I mustn't delay. Our youngest is her maid of honor; the girls have been friends since before they started school. DH and I regularly get together with the bride's parents for cards or for going out to dinner. Even through the quarantine, they have been in our tight circle. Mother of the bride Dorothy selected this quilt from my closet, thinking it closely matched her daughter's color choices. I will share more complete pics as I work through the quilting and binding.

I will also be keeping a close eye on the Spring Dreams Sew Along that I'm doing with Sharon and Dee. I referenced the sew along in the intro, and you can click back to yesterday's post for full details. I made and finished the quilt top for the sew along, and I have a second quilt in the beginning stages to sew on while we work through the next couple of months. Here's a sneak peak at it. 

Beyond those two projects, I intend to put at least 2 more quilts on the long arm for quilting, maybe three. That will be some huge accomplishment, won't it? I find that the more of these I do, the less intimidated I am. It helps when the machine is running smoothly, too.

I have two quilts waiting in the wings. First is the Falling Stars quilt, a 2-star quilt I'm fashioning to imitate a picture and - the best part - made with those luscious Kaffe Fassett blues. Mmmm, good. Second, is another duplication quilt; I saw a picture of a red and white stars quilt that caught my fancy, so I fashioned some blocks to replicate it. For each quilt, I have made at least two blocks, so I just need to get back to them, get my assembly lines established, and then crank out the stars. Here's a look at the early blocks for each quilt.


Exciting stuff, right? I am really looking forward to working on these this month.

Another idea has been niggling at me - making an Irish chain quilt in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Wouldn't that be a fun little adventure?

Now, some new things have crossed through my information sources in recent days. First, did you know that March is National Quilting Month (NQM)? I did not. Who in the world comes up with these things? Well, whatever. I think it is only fitting that we should recognize this official designation in some way.

Of course, the sew along is one way. I hope any readers out there in bloggy-land will feel free to join in. 

Another way to get involved is to hop on board the month-long event called Sew the Scrap Out of March hosted by Meg at Tea and Brie on Instagram. I have as a goal to continue efforts at taming the scrap situation around here, so maybe I will dive in and play along. Actually, she attempted to run this challenge last March, but, you know, pandemic alarm sorta' blew up her plans and everyone else's. Here's a look at the number 1 scrap quilt I'd like to get back to working on.

A second NQM Instagram event I discovered is one called IG Quilt Fest. Hosted by Amy Ellis at Amy's Creative Side. She has a different topic scheduled each day for the entire month. Looks like some fun, and there are prizes from sponsors Fat Quarter Shop, Aurifil Thread, Riley Blake Designs, Moda, and Olfa. 

Celebrating quilting. I try to celebrate that every day, but it's nice to have a reason to bring out the party hats and noise makers!

Happy Quilting, Friends!






Monday, March 1, 2021

Welcome March! And Join the Sew Along!


Welcome, March! Come on in! Make yourself comfortable and stay awhile! 

Today, we officially launch our sew along. The first order of business is a name for this event. Since we are anticipating the coming of spring, and since the both the inspiration quilt and the quilt I've made scream with spring vibes, I'm going with Spring Dreams. Here's my completed flimsy (quilt top). Do you think spring when you see this? I will provide details on this quilt down a bit in this post.

The Spring Dreams Sew Along was cooked up in early February after some group texting and face-timing with two long-time girlfriends. Check out background details in these earlier posts (click here and here). For now, let me dive into today's post by first giving props to the quilter who (unbeknownst to her) provided the inspiration for our quilt - Helen Philipps. Her blog is the happiest place to spend a few minutes or hours. Her fresh, feminine style is just so bright and cheerful. This particular post contains photos of the inspiration quilt - scroll down for them, and look for a greenish table-topper. And this post has some, too; again, scroll down a bit to see them. 

Actually, Helen's handiwork has previously inspired me. I made the quilt below in January of 2019, and it was based on a Helen Philipps' quilt I'd bookmarked. See what I mean about bright and cheerful?


Getting back to our current sew along, the inspiration quilt is constructed with one of the most basic blocks in all of quilting - the 9-patch. We are using 2.5" squares for the 9-patches, and 2.5" strips for the sashing between blocks. It all comes together quite easily, and the final effect defies the simplicity of the quilt-making process.

Time to get to the specifics for making this quilt. The chart below details information for making this quilt in 5 sizes. Because I used fabric from my existing stash, and did not keep track of how much I had of each individual piece, I do not provide yardage requirements. I recommend determining the size of the quilt you want to make while keeping in mind the amount of fabric you plan to use.

When I began my Spring Dreams quilt, my first move was to pull out about 20 happy print fabrics that would be used randomly in the 9-patch blocks. I selected prints in bright, spring-garden colors. I included a couple of unexpectedly darker, more intense colors, and also a couple that were much more muted. I thought this would add interest to the variety. 

 

Next, I pulled a white-on-white to complete the 9-patches. The inspiration quilt uses a variety of neutrals, but I had plenty of this particular white-on-white, and you can successfully go either way. Personally, I knew I'd begin overthinking things by adding more neutrals, so I opted to just use the one. 

If you are able to accomplish fabric selection this week, then great. That is plenty. Remember, no crush of deadlines here. 

Let us return briefly to my quilt. I will give you a couple more looks at it, and additional details, too. I apologize that my photographs are not as bright and sparkly as Helen's. My amateur pics will have to suffice.

 


My quilt is made with 72 9-patch blocks. I actually planned to make the next larger size, and I have made all the 9-patches for the larger size, but I had to re-think my plan when I ran short on the sashing fabric. That mint-green polka dot was an older piece and I knew I could never acquire more, so I just scaled down. That's the sort of thing quilters have to do from time to time. My larger objective is to refrain from buying more fabric unnecessarily (use up the stash!); I'm satisfied with a slightly smaller quilt.

Work ahead, if you desire. Take your time, if you desire. We offer no steadfast timeline for completion. Our extended (and still soft) goal is to try to have a quilt top completed by the first day of summer - June 21. 

Take your time this week figuring out the "style" you want - soft and spring-y, like mine (and Helen Philipps')? Maybe you would like something patriotic? Or reproduction? Or holiday-themed? Or totally scrappy? Go with whatever style you can dream up! Just enjoy the process!

Comment below if you have questions I have not answered or covered very clearly. I am sure there are gaps in my instructions. I am going to attempt to post a few related pictures on Instagram, so feel free to check there for some direction, as well. My friends Dee and Sharon will be joining, and I will be tagging them with each post.

Have fun! Grab some sewing friends and sew along with us! You'll have plenty of time for visiting because Spring Dreams is an easy quilt to make. I guarantee it!

Next Monday, I will return for a discussion of cutting strips and strip piecing.

Happy Quilting, Friends!



Sunday, February 28, 2021

Slow Stitching to Finish February

 Last day of February! Winter is waning, and spring is just around the corner! Yippee!

We had a dreadfully cold and snowy February, and this last week has provided just the hint of warmer weather we so anticipate. We still have patches of snow on the ground, but for the most part it has all melted and is draining away, invigorating dormant roots into soon popping up fresh new growth.

The quilting room has been abuzz all month with new quilt tops, scrap containment, long arm quilting, planning future projects, and gearing up for our sew along. Big news on that will be the topic of tomorrow's post, so be sure to come back.

Today, it feels good to just relax awhile with needle and thread. I am happy to report that I am working on the last applique panel. Very soon all the vines will be done. I do not remember doing it, but when I prepped the vine on the panel I just finished, I must have also prepped the vine on this one. So I will finish the vines then move on to leaves and berries. The very last bit I'll do is the two remaining birds.

My basket is one I recently emptied of scrap fabrics in my ongoing efforts to bring some order to scrap situation. I wonder if you have heard of Longaberger Baskets? We in Ohio claim the company as a homegrown product, although I believe they are no longer in business locally, but have been acquired by a New York-based company. My husband's hometown is near Dresden, the original home of Longaberger. Have been through there countless times.

But I digress.

I am linking up with the fine ladies over at Kathy's Quilts weekly party, Slow Sunday Stitching. Won't you go have a look around? 

Tomorrow we officially launch our little sew along. Are you going to join in? It would be lovely if you do. The beauty of this sew-along is the lack of any pressure. You can begin when you like; make your quilt as big or small as you like; finish when you like; be as randomly scrappy as you like; or be as controlled and orderly as you like. A stress-free endeavor, for sure. More tomorrow!

Happy Quilting, Friends!



Saturday, February 27, 2021

A Long Arm Success, At Last

 After Thursday's debacle in the long arm room, and yesterday's trip to McArthur, the day ended with my having a small victory.

The baby quilt was already loaded onto the frame, so I simply needed to readjust things that were disrupted when I removed the machine, and I was off to the races! The idea was that I'd do this long-overdue baby quilt first, as it would not only reacquaint me with that free-motion quilting groove, but would also be a fast finish.


Mission accomplished. I was done in no time, and felt relatively comfortable with the motions necessary. I must admit that after all the complications I'd been experiencing with the Tin Lizzie, I felt a definite sense of satisfied relief to finish so effortlessly. 

Just look at that - lint! A lint-filled bobbin area means that quilting has been accomplished. Nice.

I will take a lot more time on the next two quilts in the queue as they are wedding gifts and must look really good. Baby quilts, on the other hand, are for throwing on the floor and occasional baby messes, consequently they must simply be sturdy and comforting. Perfect for me to get back into the long arming groove.

 

Today, another quilt will go onto the machine. I plan to finish February with a flurry - and the humming purr of Miss Tin Lizzie.

Happy Quilting, Friends!



Friday, February 26, 2021

Well, Pfffttthhh.

Talk about a day that was a big fat bust - yesterday. Zero. Epic fail. 

I loaded the baby quilt onto the long arm, as planned. I fired up the Tin Lizzie, and daggone if that control was malfunctioning - AGAIN! This was the exact same problem I was having when I last took the machine in for repairs. The problem was evident from the 'needle down/needle up' routine that brings the bobbin thread to the top. I wasn't even able take one stitch on the baby quilt.

Grrrrr....

I stewed about the predicament for awhile, then called Terry over at the McArthur Quilt Shop. He'd just fixed this in January, for goodness' sake. From that last repair, I could very easily describe to him the issue, and his 'fix' - replace the sensor - so he wanted to take another look. That's what we've done this morning.

 

Have you ever seen the inner workings of a sewing machine or quilting machine? Here ya' go! Above, we are looking at the 'mother board' or computer chips that control needle up, needle down, start, stop, speed and a couple more things. He'd replaced a sensor in January, but with a used one. Today, he installed a new one.

Here's the other side of the machine - the electrical side, I'm thinking. He had to plug in the sensor here on this side, thread it through the machine, and insert the computer chip on the side shown in the picture above.

Terry, a mechanical genius, is behind my machine, checking the connections. We started her up and she did what she was supposed to do when I pushed all the buttons in question.  Thank goodness! Now, I hope I am in for a good, long stretch of long arming!

No charge. 

He didn't charge me for the hour or so that he spent fixing me up. Thank you, Terry.

The drive time to and from McArthur is about 2 hours. After the umpteenth trip over there for various needs, it becomes inconvenient. Hopefully, now, all systems are go. The machine is back on the frame, and here in a little bit I am heading back upstairs to quilt that baby quilt. 

Life's little curve balls - we all have them, and many have them worse than this, so I can totally deal with such little hiccups.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


 



Thursday, February 25, 2021

Changing Directions

I finished the quilt top for our sew along last evening. Gosh it looks fantastic. I will show you the pretty creation on Monday when we officially kick off our sew along event. Click back through recent posts to see bits of it. (This is teasing at its best!)

So what to do with myself between now and then? I have two other projects on my radar - the blue Kaffe Fassett stars and the red and white stars. I've made blocks for each of those quilts and their respective tubs are close at hand in the sewing room. I could so very easily immerse myself in either of those and be just as happy as can be. With a couple of audio books in the queue, I could spend hours stitching.

But other needs are rather pressing at the moment. In the adjoining room, sits a Tin Lizzie long arm quilting machine, and I need to be cranking out some quilts. Four top candidates are draped across the bars in this picture.

The one I am likely going to do today is the little baby quilt on the far end. Something small will be just the ticket for getting my muscle memory back for working free-motion quilting designs. I have backing ready to go, and by evening I could be applying the binding.

The other three quilts here also need to be done. One is way overdue for a wedding quilt (they've been married more than a year now!); one is for an upcoming wedding, and the t-shirt quilt is the commission that must be finished by May. I'm sure all of these are pictured somewhere on this blog; I will share more complete pictures once they are quilted. 

Soon. 

That's a promise. 

Yes.

Start with the smallest; get my groove going, then bing!bing!bing! Knock out those other three like a pro. Well, maybe someday I will do them this effortlessly; currently, I'm still a tentative novice. 

The only way to move beyond novice is to practice. Make some true effort to master this business. 

Happy Quilting, Friends!