Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wrapping Up April

At one point this month, I was convinced that April was lost to me as far as accomplishing sewing and quilting goals were concerned. But by gosh, I have made a bit of a push here in final week and I don't feel quite so defeated as I once thought I'd be.

The month of April brings wildflowers - it's one of my favorite times of year! In the collage above, I have a picture of the pink dogwood in our front yard and a vast field of trilliums from a nearby nature preserve called Arc of Appalachia. Beautiful! Being out in the gorgeousness of spring takes one away from sewing, but what a great trade-off.

April brought, too, several family functions to attend. The twins needed a babysitter one evening, so DH and I volunteered for that. They are 9 now, and as inquisitive and precocious as ever. Then great-niece Evie came to visit her Great Grandpa Jim while we were there on Good Friday. And of course, we had a big family celebration at Easter, too, just no pics to share.

The quilting accomplishments, then, at times took a backseat. Still, I do feel as though I have salvaged the month - it wasn't a total bust, in other words.  The April UFO did make it to the finished stage, which was quite doubtful at one point. I also finished the chevron OSU baby quilt. Now to get both quilted - another month soon, I hope.

Of course, the highlight of the month was the 3-day retreat to Canter's Cave. What a lot of sewing I accomplished on my Thimbleberries Stars and Chain Quilt. I have not taken a single stitch on it since coming home, however, but will not let this languish for long.

I had the urge to start some English paper piecing, so rather than stick close to my April list, I deviated and began some projects. In the collage above is the little pink flower and the Patchwork of the Cross made from the remnants of the 9-Patch Strippy. Below are some others I played around with. At some point I will figure out what to do with them; for now, I will just play with this technique until I have a nice little stash accumulated. That will be the time for decisions.

Smack in the  middle of the collage is a stack of fabric purchased from Guhl's during retreat week - all purchased for $3.99/yard. (I know!! Yowza!) I want to make an EPP quilt to look like a waterfall, so those colors are supposed to evoke a feeling of water. Below, is a picture of some of the cutting I've done, It remains to be seen if this will be a successful venture or not. I sure hope it is. It will certainly be a long-term venture; maybe years?!?

I don't even know if I have ever mentioned on the blog that back in December I helped my older daughter make a t-shirt quilt for her sister-in-law. That was gifted at Christmas as a flimsy and it has been at Terry's for quilting this month. I put the binding on yesterday, and now it's ready to hand off to Erin, who will then hand it off, once again to her s-i-l. This wasn't on my list for April, but it will be a quickie to take credit for, anyway.

My one big regret for April is that I did not finish the final 3 Swoon blocks. I pulled out the fabrics but found myself unable to decide which to use and where to use it. So it lays, still, across my cutting table until I find the brain cells necessary to make such decisions.

I guess April turned out to be just fine as far as sewing and quilting accomplishments go. Add into all the fun summarized here, I finished out the spring semester at OUC with all those essays to grade, then finals, then submitting grades. It feels good to be done - I am off for summer semester and will return for fall.

Today, I am off to my mother's for a day of house arranging and rearranging. She has recently had some painting done; having a daughter or two to help return her house to (somewhat) normal will make the job easier.

I'm linking with Kathy"s weekly party, Slow Sunday Stitching. Maybe this evening after helping Mom, I will actually do some of that slow stitching. Happy Sunday, and...

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Chevron OSU Quilt Top

A week ago I was whining about not getting very much accomplished in the sewing room. I think the mere fact that I posted my sorry state of affairs ended up pushing me to do something about it. By gosh, I went to work on that 9-Patch Strippy and finished it off last Saturday.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I managed to finish the chevron baby quilt. That should have been such an easy thing to do; it's embarrassing to admit that I dragged it out so long. When my order for 505 Spray Baste comes in, I will machine-quilt it. First, some close-up shots...

The baby's father is a proud OSU alum, and he is sure to approve of this quilt for his new little bundle of joy. Here's a look at the full quilt.

Next up for me is one more item on that April to-do list: make the last 3 Swoon blocks. It will be nice to get Swoon checked off the list, too, so I will be working to make that happen.

I am linking this quilt top finish to Amanda Jean's Finish It Up Friday linky party - go have a peek!

Hope you are approaching the end of April will equally pleasing results.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sharon's Batik Wall Hanging

I have a new spring in my step today, dear readers. I have finished off the grading for spring semester! In totally uncharacteristic fashion, I submitted my grades a full week before they are due - this is an accomplishment of such monumental proportions that I really ought to be celebrating in some way, shape or form.

For the 30 years I taught at the high school level, never once did I finish my grades early. This same habit has carried over to my teaching at the university level, as well. Until now, that is. This is a mighty fine feeling, and I hope I can repeat it in the fall when I will again go back to OUC to teach two composition classes.

Enough school talk - let's get to quilty talk!

On Tuesday Sharon was here to sew and I wanted to take a quick post to show you her project. She bought a group of batik fabrics from the sale table at Old Town Fabric Shop and created a wall hanging for her daughter's house. She spent the day doing some machine quilting on it. I took a couple of pictures, and while the lighting does them absolutely no justice whatsoever, you can still get a feel for what the quilt will look like.

This puts me in mind of the Floral Columns quilts we made last June on a sewing day when Frienzie Kay joined us. Click here to review that fun project. And a follow up is here. Anyway, these long strips will be turned on the horizontal, and they vary in widths, two major differences from our Floral Columns quilts. I love the colors of these batiks, something Sharon is very skilled at - color selection and color combinations. She has a very good eye.

Perhaps we can persuade Sharon to take a picture of this when it is hanging in her daughter's house. We will share it here, if so!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

POTC - Using the Last of the Scraps

The remaining bits of fabric left from the 9-Patch Strippy finish have now all been used and/or dealt with.

From the large pieces, I cut the designs you see in the photo above for a very quick Patchwork of the Crosses block. I will put this aside to stitch later. For now the parts are all taped down the way I want them.

After cutting those parts, all that remained was bits. I used the 1" hexie to cut a whole bunch of the little calico print to be used in some yet-to-be-planned flowers. Then I cut a little stack of 2.5" squares to add to my basket of to-go stitching. They will be a pleasant reminder of my wonderful 9-Patch Strippy quilt.

Short and sweet today, Peeps! Sharon is here to sew; later I am meeting the Frienzies for dinner; and I might have to fill in for DH on his Mennonite bus route. Lots to do today!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sewing or Surgery??

Getting my April UFO into the finished column took a whole lot of effort. At times, it seemed as though I was doing the work of a surgeon rather than a quilter. I took some pictures as I went along, thinking that it might be worthwhile to examine the grunt work of finishing a quilt top when things haven't gone quite as smoothly as planned.

Earlier this month I pulled out this tub into which I'd stuffed the UFO that was tops on my UFO list. I really wanted to finish this! However, I recall facing some rather challenging obstacles which resulted in my abandoning my efforts. The time had come at last to face the unpleasant reality.

The problem was that I didn't know how to finish off the ends. I'd run short on the blue calico print and didn't have enough to make the end triangles for each strip of 9-patches. Cutting off the triangles would give me excess fabric, but the triangles were not big enough to fill the space.

Above is a cut-away  triangle applied to an end. You can clearly see that it was both too short on the side touching the red floral strip and it left me with no seam allowance at the point of the 9-patch. Bummer.

Students of psychology know the term 'avoidance tendencies" - well, I truly do shut down entirely rather than cope with the likes of this. I have been avoiding since October of 2015. I explained a lot of the quilt's history in this post from earlier this month. If you go back to see that post, check out how little of that blue calico remained for what I needed to do. I really had to be certain about how I used that last little bit.

The arrows in the photo above point out two problems that had to be solved in order to finish my flimsy. The purple arrow indicates that I had several spots that needed a triangle unit inserted. The pink arrow indicates too-small triangles that needed to be removed. All told, I suppose I had about 5 of each of these to correct.

Ugh. Let the surgery begin.

Above, you can see that the strips have been unsewed to a workable distance; the offending small triangle has been removed removed.

Using the small triangles, I pieced extensions onto them and re-cut larger triangles to fit the spaces.  Fortunately, the little calico is a forgiving print;  the seam lines barely show.

I like that they disappear so nicely. It made the job more agreeable knowing that the fixes wouldn't be noticeable. I have arrows pointing to the seams in the picture just above, but you still might have to click to enlarge.

Each newly-created triangle was then attached to the blocks and then trimmed to size.

A surgeon who can stitch up a patient so well that the scars are minimal earns the respect of his/her colleagues and patients; my own brand of  'surgery' passes the "eye-test," wouldn't you say? It satisfies me, for sure.

This whole process falls into the category of doing the grunt work of quilting. I really hate being bogged down by correcting mistakes like this. In this case, I knew that I really wanted to have this quilt top finished; I just love how it looks! So I was willing to do that tiresome grunt work in order to get my flimsy, at last. Yay!! I love it!

Here's another look at my finish, even though you saw it in yesterday's post. One never tires of looking at a newly finished quilty creation!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Finish!

After complaining in Friday's post about not getting much of anything done this month, I spent yesterday changing those circumstances. Yes, I have a finish, dear readers, and my streak of completing my monthly UFOs now stands at 4 for 4.


My 9-Patch Strippy was a devilish little bugger to finish, but I stayed with it and got 'er done. The sort of finishing required included the types of things I dislike - a lot: picking out stitches, removing things, replacing them and re-sewing it all. Ugh.

But, in the end, isn't it worth it?!! Yes!!

Here she is on the guest bed. She has 5 vertical rows of 9-patch blocks - all hand stitched - and placed on point with some ancient calico from my stash. Then there are 3 red floral (also from the stash) strips between them and two outer strips of the same fabric but a bit wider for the borders. I had not planned to add an upper and lower border, but since I had the fabric, I decided that would be the thing to do - use it  up. So the top and bottom borders are on. I have very little of either fabric remaining. Perhaps just enough to throw in my stack for potential EPP use.

The size is quite a bit larger than I ever would have imagined when I started this quilt, measuring out at 93" long by 81" wide, roughly.

I have an answer to the questions I posed at the end of my last post. The way to get over "can't-focus-itis" is to complain about it, then after reading it and realizing you sound like a whiner, just get to work, for heaven's sake! *cheesy grin*

Added later: I forgot that I signed up at Elm Street Quilts for her One Monthly Goal linky party. I have linked to her post for finishes. Click on over there to see what other quilters have accomplished this month and to be inspired to get moving next month!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Slow Down April!

This month is going faster than I am.

I'm at that point in the month where I should be boasting of finishes or at least checking a few things off the April to-do list. Ever since retreat, though, I have had the attention span of a 3-year-old. Nothing has engrossed me enough to maintain my focus.

This is not good.

I went back to the list of April goals. Gee-whiz, I'm really off.

The top item on the list was my April UFO - the 9-patch strippy. I have carried it around a bit, but have done next to nothing on it. I spent about a half hour picking out seams so that I can resew to more accurately match the blocks. I need to just take this one step at a time and finish it. It won't take that long - if I just focus.

The second item on the list was to make the last 3 Swoon blocks - haven't even cut them out.

Next was to finish the 2 baby quilts - The first one is ready to be quilted and I have ordered the 505 Spray Baste. Below is the second one, pretty much as I left it about two and a half weeks ago. I did rearrange the order of the chevron rows so that the OSU print is centered across the middle of the quilt. Plus I have sewn about half of the rows together. The reason I stopped? I used some really cheap gray which was melting as I pressed; so I need to pick out those units and replace them with the better-quality gray. There's a lesson in the necessity of buying quality fabric.

Other items on the April list:

I did get a good start on Stars and Chain at retreat. I have not worked on it since coming home, but I accomplished a good bit of it while there.

I did finish blogging the series Antique Delights. That was an easy one.

I have found myself on a new 'kick' here in the past few days - English Paper Piecing - EPP, for short. I am collecting templates and cutting fabric for some hand stitching I want to do next month.

Also, you can see in the picture below that I have spent some time sketching out a pattern for the wall hanging that DD Emma wants for her apartment. I like how it is looking and I really do think I can churn it out pretty fast, provided I can focus long enough to do it.

So much for accomplishing the items on my list. If I start new stuff and can't focus on old stuff, I will be hard pressed to check off anything. I suppose I could make excuses:

*I can't focus because I have a book to read for book club.
*I can't focus because it's the end of the semester and lots of essays need to be graded.
*I can't focus because it's spring in Ohio and the wildflowers are so lovely right now.

I have a plethora of excuses, but the fact of the matter is I have just been unable to decide where to turn my attention. What I really want to do is start something new - as in, cutting out EPP fabrics.


Do you ever go through stretches like this? I sure hope I am not alone in my inability to focus. How do you pull yourself out of a scatter-brain slump and get back to making things happen?

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Canter's Cave Wrap-Up - Part 4

I have been able to stretch the fun of quilt retreat out over 4 days! It's as if I can't bear to leave it and move on. Today's focus is on all the extras, and we had plenty. From shopping at Guhl's in Jackson (a discount store with a huge fabric section), and food and goodie bags, we were certainly pampered in one way or another.

The first night of retreat we ate a popular local restaurant called Arch and Eddie's. It is what I would consider a bit upscale, but still quite reasonably priced and extremely varied in its menu. On Tuesdays the special is $2 off on all burgers. So that top picture is my dinner, cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. Yum-o!

The strawberry pie was Susan's contribution to the food we had on hand at the lodge. Her mother is a world-class pie baker, and we frequently get to be the recipients of her fantastic creations. This was as mouth-watering as it looks.

The bottom picture is a typical in-house meal. We put out a variety of sandwich fixings, snacks and desserts and make whatever we are in the mood for. There was fruit salad, black bean salsa, pimiento cheese spread, ham salad, all manner of chips and munchies. We certainly did not go hungry.

Last week you saw the tower of little fabric baskets I made for each retreat participant. I hadn't yet shown the goodies I included in my little baskets, so the picture above is a representation of my stash. I used a variety of bite-size Easter candy, along with a single-serving of Nutella and crackers, and a pack of sticky notes. Not much, but enough. 

Above are the goodies presented by Laura and Terry. Laura wrapped the cloth labels in the ribbon on the starch bottle and gave one to each of us. Clever! And Terry had a little box of sewing band-aids and a package of sewing tissues.

And the over-achiever of the group, Jan, presented each of us with this treasure trove. She works off of themes (a retired elementary school teacher) - can you guess? The theme was chevrons. So we had a large chevron re-usable bag, and inside were all these items! A chevron goodie bag of one-serving packages of popcorn, cookies and crackers. A bag of goldfish in rainbow colors. A jar of jelly beans arranged by color and topped with a piece of chevron fabric. A quilting coloring book. A zipper bag that she made and in it are colored pencils (among other things) for the coloring book. And, finally, drum-roll please, over on the far right is a zip-lock bag of a quilt kit ready to sew - solids for a chevron quilt! Jan is over-the-top when it comes to themes and goodies. I have been on the receiving end of much of her generosity. What a sweetheart she is!

And now for the shopping. A store in Jackson - Guhl's Country Store - is an outlet for all manner of household items, some food, and decorative items. The link above is to their Facebook page; they don't have a website. Can you imagine fabric shopping when the price is $3.99/yard? And we are talking about some really nice fabrics - not all, but quite a lot is just overage yardage that fabric companies needed to unload to make room for new stuff. Here are my purchases, and you can be sure that most of the others had equally impressive purchases, too.

These prints all look like they will be useful with plans I have in my mind for a great-granny square quilt. the possible exception is the red and black shirting on the bottom, which might instead get matched up to some red quilts I have swirling around in my mind.

The prints above are my inspiration for an EPP quilt. I will show the exact plans later, and I certainly have way, way more yardage here than my quilt will require (good stash builders, though!). It is supposed to evoke a look of water or cool waterfalls. Eh? Maybe? Well, I will be revisiting this soon, so bear with me.

Finally, I bought a small amount of black, white and OU green for a wall hanging that DD2 has been wanting. I have a pattern (thanks to Pinterest!) and it isn't large, so I should be able to get right on this ASAP.

That totally wraps up our 2017 version of Canter's Cave Quilt Camp. It was a wonderful 3-day get-away, and I am already looking forward to next year!

Happy Quilting, Friends!