Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Surprise Block

There I was just minding my own business, happily sorting through piles in the sewing room with occasional breaks to check on all the quilts in cyberspace. And then WHAM!! I saw a gorgeous block that some nameless quilter made for the Quilter's Planner Sew-along - I. Was. Hooked. This block just had to be made!

The little stack of Memoire A Paris from the last quilt I worked on was still out on the cutting table, just waiting there to be put away. Ha! As soon as I saw the block online and what it was for, I just pulled this fabric and proceeded to make this block.

So, to back up and give details...The Quilter's Planner is a splurge I made late last year in an effort to put some order into my life (don't laugh!). I wrote about it here, if you need to review. It came with lots of quilty treats, one of which was a magazine with patterns for each month and a resulting sampler by year's end. Another feature was that these blocks can be made in a sew-along in which you make a predetermined block or two each month. This Ohio Star block is the pattern for this month. Drool...

Also, after purchasing my planner I was encouraged to go online and register it with a website set up just for planner owners - it's sorta' like a club, I guess. This affords me access to additional goodies. I follow the same on Instagram, and that is likely where I saw the block that inspired me.

So, while I had absolutely no intention of doing this sew-along, the urge to make this block overcame me, and I like it so much that I will probably go ahead and make a few more to see if I am equally satisfied. I have a pretty bad track record with quilt-alongs, in that I have started many and finished only a few, and those were not finished on time.

Here are two finished examples: Wishes and Tell It to the Stars . As far as unfinished ones, I need only look at the Blockheads I and II to see good intentions skewered to bits. I am sure there are others, but I'm not going out of my way to dig them up at this time. Basically, what I am telling you is that I hold out very little hope that I will actually follow through on this quilt-along.

Well, today has been exhausting! I started back to OUC - two classes of freshman comp - I walked 2 miles on the gymnasium walking path, logged over 10,000 steps on the Fitbit, and it was my birthday so DH took me out to dinner at a cool little restaurant in Chillicothe called The Pour House. All in all, a very fun, albeit busy, day.

Hope you are getting things done!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Purge and Organize

In the last post I alluded to the purging going on in my sewing room. In the course of this clear-out, I am rediscovering things that had been buried and forgotten for awhile - years, in some cases! You will have to plow through rather a lot of material before I get to the treasures, so please be patient. *grin*

Because I did not take any before pictures of the mess I am currently working on, I scrolled back through all the photos on my phone to see if I had any old ones that would work. The two I found are from 2-3 years ago, evidence that I have done very little in the way of chaos control in ages. Don't judge!! I have always been able to work amongst the chaos; my desk at CHS was always in a heap. Here is a mantra I grabbed from Instagram - @trudi_wood - 

I know, though, that the excessiveness of all this has inhibited my productivity, and with that in mind, I decided that my focus for 2019 is going to be...drumroll, please....PURGE AND ORGANIZE!!

And, then almost as if preordained, I saw this on Instagram via @sweettreasuresquilts (who credits it to Better Homes and Gardens/January issue) and had to snatch it as well!

The idea of straightening up this room is totally a daunting one if I think of it in terms of the whole. It absolutely has gotten out of control. I am in a purging frame of mind, so I must strike while the iron's hot!

I am focusing on just one part at a time so the task won't be so darned intimidating. Therefore, this past week the bit I've dealt with is the area behind my sewing desk. The two pics at the top are of this exact space. On the desk are piles of paper, notes, lists, mementos, and all manner of whatnot that has been moved around and stacked for years. In the boxes stacked against the wall, I have all my grandmother's sewing things, and gobs of crap piled in front - mending, unfinished projects, school stuff, bigger mementos - honestly, my sewing room becomes a dumping ground, and I just climb over the piles to get to my machine. Shameful.

It occurred to me that I ought to be able to pare down Grandma's stuff into tubs that would be less messy looking. I went through every one of Grandma's boxes and combined items, pulled items that will go into a donation or yard sale pile, and, yes, threw out some, too. One entire box - and a large one at that - was full of white and muslin scraps. I will never use those! I sorted through, pulling out any bit that appeared to be sizeable yardage, and discarded the rest.

While sorting her things, I came across two boxes with projects she never finished. One is so far along that I am going to finish it this week.

These pleasing patriotic fabrics were stacked ever-so-neatly (Grandma was a neat-freak, a quality I sadly did not inherit). Do you see some blocks that are constructed? There are 9 finished blocks and 4 finished sub-unit blocks.

Nine of these. Hand-pieced, of course.

Four of these.
Because she had all her fabrics stored together, I know exactly what to use as sashing strips for these blocks, and a finish should be fast and easy.

This post has morphed from purging and organizing into finishing one of Grandma's UFOs. If you have any experience at all with organizing things, I suspect you know how projects present themselves.

I will finish straightening up this area this week, and post an 'after' picture to share here. I have a sewing day planned at Terry's on Wednesday and will work on Grandma's project. I will have pics to share of that, as well.

Hope you have a productive week! I begin my spring semester tomorrow; I must update my syllabus next. Busy, busy!  Have a great Monday!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, January 12, 2019


At about the midway point in December, I posted an entry here that hinted at my considering the possibility of giving up this blog. Quitting, in other words. I was not motivated, interested, chatty, productive, whatnot. Such a little dilemma! I was terribly conflicted. *aren't I pathetic?*

As I seem to have rediscovered my blogging mojo, I expect that I will keep it going for the foreseeable future. However, I think I will occasionally write up some posts that deal more with everyday life, as opposed to quilting. All that everyday life stuff is what gets in the way of sewing time. I will lump all this everyday stuff under the heading of 'etcetera.' Here's what I've got today...

I will begin with a cat picture from DDErin. She's the one who owns Rocky, who comes to visit here when they are away. Rocky loves Erin's quilts as much as she does, perhaps more. Isn't this a darling picture of him snuggled into the folds of her Kaffe Fassett diamonds quilt? He has to be the most photogenic cat ever. Look at that white little fur around his nose and mouth! Adorable!

Under the heading of home ownership woes, we are very near to losing our refrigerator of the last 26 years. Yes, it's the fridge we bought when we moved in here in September 1992. Pretty remarkable for a fridge to last that long, wouldn't you say? For about a week now, every time the motor shuts off, it does so with a loud shuddering sound, like it's taking the last breath of its mechanical life. We know its end is coming, so we shopped yesterday to see what's out there; fridges have changed a lot in 26 years, you know.

Whirlpool model

Samsung model
I think I want to try what is called a "French door" style. Two doors open on the top to the fridge; a drawer below is the freezer. Our kitchen's space for the fridge is not overly large, so we are limited in some options, but these two appeal at this stage of the hunt. I like the idea of a gallon of milk or juice fitting into the door. We do not require an ice/water dispenser, but it would be nice if we had an ice maker.

I have recently changed the pad and cover on my ironing board; from the pics above, wouldn't you say it was long overdue? It had been on my list for awhile, but with Christmas and all, I just hadn't found time to get to it. Nice way to start off the new year. Looks clean and fresh.

Since submitting my grades at the end of fall semester in mid-December, I have logged about 50 miles walking on the Frankfort bike trail. It sure has made me feel good; and I am trying to figure out how I can keep up the habit when the spring semester begins next week. The little shelter house in the photo above is my turn-around spot. From where we park by the ball fields to this point and back is 2.5 miles. I walk this amount while my runner husband jogs about double that.

In addition to all this etcetera, I have been putting away all the Christmas decorations, purging as I go. Most of it has been taken down and tucked into bins. Now to get the bins lifted onto the storage shelves for another year.

My other purge is happening in the sewing room. GASP! Yes, I am getting rid of stuff. I have let things get so bad that I almost feel as if I am suffocating from the excess. I have not taken very many pictures of this process, but I ought. This could turn out to be life-changing!

I have some sewing plans taking shape as I work on all these other things. I think there will be enough to keep me blogging for some time to come. *smile!*

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Bucket List

I'm at it again. Every January I seem to get all psyched up to do a lot of fun stuff, participate in quilt-alongs, try some fun things with other quilters on social media, and whatnot. So, with that brief explanation of my first-of-the-year mindset, let me tell you about this bucket list I found.

The BH&G magazine, American Patchwork & Quilting, has posted a bucket list on Instagram - and I suppose in the magazine, too - and possibly other social sites - that looks like some fun for the year, if I can make myself maintain my focus.

Using the hashtag #APQBucketList, the magazine editors have created a list of 50 items for a fun bucket list of quilting activities that are meant to stretch participants into trying and learning new things. Why not? I ask myself. Let's take a look. I printed off the list and will keep it in a plastic sleeve as I check off items.

The list contains 50 items, and I am very much interested in doing many. They range from trying new techniques, to traveling to new shops to participating in on-line activities. Right up my alley, and of course, I have already done quite a few of them. Let's take a closer look - 50 seems like a lot to cover in one post; I will just look at numbers 1-25 today.

Of the first 25 items listed, I checked off 14. I used an acrylic template to make all the elongated hexies for Lake Effect (#1) and am hand stitching those hexies (#25). I have previous experience with paper piecing, using my stash, curves, taking a class, reading a pattern before beginning, joining a quilt-along, retreats, labels, pincushions, and charity quilting. I checked off #14, take your handwork to a surprising location - I did that for years when we were going to track and cross country meets. Add in vacations, many locations. I checked off #23, because in the last few years, I have been able to meet several quilting heroes - Laurie Simpson (Minick and Simpson), Corey Yoder (Coriander Quilts) and Carrie Nelson (Miss Rosie Quilts). All fun and memorable. All recorded here on the blog, too. Click their names for my link; click the name in parentheses for theirs.

Looking at the ones I have NOT checked off, probably the one I NEED to do the most is #3 - Organize your fabrics and scraps. Waaaaa! I have spent the better part of my life trying to get organized. Sometimes it just seems hopeless. But that January optimism strikes again, and I have already begun clearing off some major piles in the sewing room. Given a year, maybe I can make some headway on #3. This will also help with item #5 - identify a problem area in your sewing space and find a solution. Scanning down the list to #24 - make a quilt using only solids. Hmmm. I like this, and have actually planned to do this as I bought a nice variety of solids last April. I can definitely see this one being done

One item that likely won't get done - #6, attend a guild meeting; I have enough meetings, so I won't go out of my way to attend more!

And some items I do all the time, but I didn't check just to make myself accountable for continuing to do them - #4, change needles; replace blades; clean machine; #8, sew every day; #20, take a picture/journal about each quilt - that's what I've been doing on this blog since 2009.

I will visit items 26-50 soon. If you'd like to print off the bucket list for yourself, go the APQ website. The icon is featured near the top of the page. The IG page uses the #APQBucketList, which I will try to add to any pics I post there.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Memoire A Paris 9-Patch

Yesterday afternoon I happily took my final stitches on the first quilt of the new year. To have a finish so fast this early in the year gives me quite a boost; I feel like this year is going to be awesome with (hopefully!) lots of finishes this satisfying.

The fabric for this simple 9-patch quilt is a collection called Memoire a Paris by Lecien. I had a FQ pack of 14 prints and combined them with some plain white from my stash. If you looked at the post from a few days ago, I explained that my inspiration came from an Instagram picture. If you click back, you can find the IG link to it and compare results.

My photography skills are quite poor compared to Helen Philipps' - hers are amazing! I know nothing about proper lighting and effective editing. For example, the picture above looks a bit washed out - we had a sunny day when the picture was taken - probably had something to do with it. These next couple of pictures are from other rooms in the house, and I have tried editing; it's the best I can do.

This picture above was taken in the family room which is a good bit more shaded as it is in the back (north) side of the house. No direct sunlight and a covered porch keep this room dark.

Draped over the front room sofa on the south-facing side of the house, the sunlight is more predominant. I think this picture is the best representation of the true colors of the prints.

Okay, enough with the photography analysis. The topic at hand is this super-fast and super-easy quilt. I did all phases of it with strip-piecing methods, and did not obsess about fabric placements too much at all. I pieced the blocks in two batches so that my centers would  have variety. I thought I had made way more blocks than I would need, but as I neared the finish of the quilt top, I actually had to make 3 or 4 more blocks to finish out the final row.

I pieced the top in two sections (shown above) and then attached the two halves. It prevented me from having an unwieldy mountain of quilt parts on my sewing table. I will do this on future quilts, as it was much less effort in managing an ever-growing quilt top.

One final seam attaching the two parts, and she's done! I didn't work terribly hard to make all my intersections perfect, but I was careful from cutting to stitching and most have matched up satisfactorily. All in all, I am quite pleased with my finish.

And I say finish, but technically, it might not be. To border or not to border? That is the question.

I had no yardage of this fabric with which to make a border, so today I ordered a 3-yard pink floral from an Etsy shop. It is one of the prints in my quilt, and while it might be too pink for my taste, I will probably use it anyway, just because I think in the end it will look great. If not, then this quilt will be a borderless quilt. And I would be okay with that, too.

So, January 2019 is off to a grand start! Wouldn't it be great if I can continue this pace? With classes beginning next week, that isn't very likely, you know?

Hope your January is off to a grand start, too! Next for me: get my Christmas put away, and then re-introduce myself to that longarm machine in the basement. Ahem. I know. I have ignored it long enough. I am ready to dive in. This week, hopefully!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Year's Progress on Lake Effect

Since it's the first Sunday of 2019, I thought it would be a good idea to see how far I have come this past year on my English Paper-Piecing project, Lake Effect. Here is the post from a year ago. What slow progress it seems, but when realizing where I was a whole year ago, all those slow stitching days have really added up. It's rather astounding, actually. *smiles*

In the late summer (I think), I had my pattern copied onto large paper. I didn't necessarily need it all enlarged, but in order to get my applique patterns at the correct size for transferring, this is what I did. I like that the front shows a good picture of the quilt.

This page is an example of the applique components. I will be totally challenged when I get to this phase of construction. I am entirely unprepared for how I will do it, and I seem to be forever changing my mind - raw edge? needle-turn? machine? hand? I am all over the place; however, there is still time to make decisions concerning applique while I continue with the EPP.

I have a few sections sewn together. As I said in that post from a year ago, I always work on this when I meet with the Frankfort Girls, and occasionally I pick it up here at home. Not as often as I should, sadly. Maybe I can make improvements on that this year.

I have said from the very beginning that this was going to be a 10-year project; I have reason to be optimistic - I believe I can accomplish it more quickly.

Hope you are having a lovely Sunday! I have had a marvelous day. The biggest achievement was that I finished the quilt top I was working on! I hope to blog about it tomorrow!

For now, why not have a look at Kathy's Quilts and her weekly feature, Slow Sunday Stitching! She has set 3 slow-stitching goals for the year. My single slow-stitching goal continues to be Lake Effect.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Getting Organized?

In a few days I will celebrate yet another trip around the sun, and a goal for most of those trips has been to try to get organized. This year will be no exception. And I have a new tool that is going to finally be the magic that will help me accomplish it - the Quilter's Planner. Magic. Truly!

We shall see about that as the year unfolds. I have used planners for a few years now, with some degree of success. Isn't it pretty? The floral cover is a fabric called The Good Life by Bonnie and Camille - and yes, I have a bit of it up in the stash. Pretty stuff. Those pieces are half-yard cuts, so I have 2.5 yards.

For each month, I can have a full month view with spots to record information and commitments. The following few pages are weekly calendars that allow more detailed planning. There are places to track habits - I like this feature. I have put some inspirational quotes in to keep me centered. As far as beginnings go, I am ahead of things this year. I hope I can keep it up.

This year it is my intention to be very deliberate about recording my tasks, my appointments, sewing goals, fitness goals and whatever other important things I need to remember. I will try to zero back to this planner periodically through the year to report how I am getting along with it. For the price I paid, I better! It was not inexpensive, for sure.

I made my second batch of 9-patches made yesterday and plan to start constructing the top today. Further details and pics to come soon.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, January 4, 2019

More Memoire 9-Patches

As is normal for me, I am working on making a quilt without a pattern. I do this often, and this usually does not pose a problem for me, with the exception that I never know if I have cut enough of things or have I estimated fabric amounts accurately enough to complete the project.

Great unknows!

In the case of the current project, I believe I am going to be fine. I had a fat quarter pack of Memoire a Paris fabric and several yards of the background. I started by cutting 2 strips off each fat quarter - 14 fqs x 2 strips = 28 strips cut at 2.5 inches. Then I cut enough 2.5-inch strips of the background to make as many 9-patches as possible with those 28 floral strips. Below are the results - 38 9-patch blocks that stitched up just as easy as can be.

My plan is to set them together with alternating background blocks, and (after doing some math,) I realize I need many more 9-patches.

And to that end I have repeated the exact same cuts from all the fabrics, and will begin stitching those this afternoon. Before too long, I will have 76 9-patches, and that will likely be too many, but oh well. I am sure I will find a use for any extras.

I hope your new year is off to a rousing start! I am completely satisfied with my first project of the year, and already find myself thinking about the next one. I love starts!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Pretty Beginning

Way back in April of last year, I found a deal I couldn't resist on a fat quarter pack of Lecien fabric called Memoire a Paris. It is soft, feminine, dreamy and romantic.

I have petted, patted, played and auditioned it frequently in these intervening months, yet nothing really grabbed me until just this past weekend when I saw this gorgeously simple 9-patch quilt from Helen Philipps' Instagram (@helen.philipps) feed. Since I haven't figured out how to copy/paste the picture from IG, just click here to see it.

I have followed Helen's blog for a long time, and since I enjoy her beautiful blog photographs so much, I began following her on IG. More pretty pictures, you know. *wink*

The inspiration was instant, and I began straight away. I am using 2.5-inch strips to make the necessary units for fast results. I am liking the look already! And I have only completed 2 blocks! It will be so much fun to work on this in the next couple of days.

My plan is to be as random with the placement of the prints as I can be, and I am not going to obsess if two squares of the same fabric happen to end up in one block. As the quilt will be covering a bed, this will be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I may only get one or two more blocks made today, and tomorrow is booked, so maybe on Friday I can get a whole stack of blocks made.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2019!

It seems not so very long ago that we celebrated the last new year, and here we are already, celebrating yet another. Gee whiz, time sure flies when you're having fun, right? *grin*

I follow an entertaining antiques collector on Instagram - @jesselauzon. (I highly recommend you go look him up!) He writes the greatest posts, and today's is no exception. Here is a snippet that resonates with me: …"I can't come up with a resolution that I don't want to break already..." I fear I lean that way, too, but doggone it, I make resolutions every year as if my life depends on it! I prefer to call them goals, as opposed to resolutions. I can't explain the difference, but I am sure there is one. *wink*

One goal for me this year is to do better than last with blogging. That should be easy, because I was pretty bad this past year. I need to get my mojo back! I think it all rides on being super busy with sewing projects, and this past year found me with fewer projects which led to fewer posts. I gotta' work on this!!

I have done some sewing today, and I have done some organizing, too. Both of these appear on the aforementioned goals list. I will be sure to talk more about these in the next few days.

Happy New Year, Dear Readers and Followers! Let's have an amazing year!

Happy Quilting, Friends!