Friday, April 30, 2021

Goodbye, April!

Pretty April has come and gone, and oh, gosh, what beauty she has left behind! Our trees and flowers and yard are all brimming with leafy beauty. We had plenty of April showers yesterday, so greening up is in overdrive as we coast into May.

Let's take a quick look at April's highlights pulled together in this collage.

Top Row: Retreat early in the month provided quality time to make good progress on these first three quilts. My blue and white Double Irish Chain flimsy, finished at retreat. More work at retreat involved continuing work on the red and white stars - mostly I made setting blocks. And after long-arming the small poison green wall hanging and bound it at retreat. It was a productive retreat!

Middle Row: Scrappy Spring Dreams in a table topper size, like the poison green, was bound at retreat. And the last of the retreat accomplishments is the scrappy 4-patch in the middle frame. About the middle of the month, we had 2-3" of snow - was gone as quick as it came, thankfully.

Bottom Row: My greatest accomplishment was quilting and binding the t-shirt quilt I made for a customer. What a relief. Out in the woods, I have found one Jack-in-the-Pulpit - I am watching it for when the "jack" appears. And last, just yesterday, I finished another Spring Dreams quilt - this one in the new 3 Sisters fabric, Sanctuary. What luscious fabric to work with!

Not mentioned directly, but probably most important of all this month is my growing confidence with the long arm machine. I have learned to clean and oil it. I know to change the needle regularly. I also still have a lot to learn, but I'm getting there. As successful as I was with the t-shirt quilt, I had plenty of problems to solve finishing that quilt - all of my own making. Like I said, I still have a lot to learn.

April was totally productive, and I look forward to an equally productive May!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Sharon Finished Her Double Irish Chain!


Yesterday was a fun and productive day of sewing with Sharon. And she had a big finish by day's end! The final stitches went in on her navy and white Double Irish Chain. It looks so, so good. We are seriously thinking about making another one in a scrappy style. 

More on that later. Let's see Sharon's quilt.

As expected, the final looks amazing. It's just plain hard to go wrong with a blue and white quilt, don't you know! 


Sharon and I began our Double Irish Chain journey about a month ago; click here to see our early construction stage. Her navy and my Regatta (a Kona color) both look fantastic. Here's mine, just to show you the difference in blues.

I hadn't been planning to add any borders on mine, but Sharon has an idea for bordering hers, and I rather like it, so I might change my mind. She has just barely enough blue left to do a small containment border and then a larger white border. I've got plenty of remaining blue, so it would be a fairly simple addition.

That's all for today, Peeps! Gotta' go press about 70 9-patches for this new Spring Dreams I am making with my Sanctuary fabric.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Quilts I Haven't Forgotten About

 Every now and then I must remind myself that I have quilts planned or started that I want to make. It seems that I get a new idea (the squirrel syndrome) and take off on some new tangent before finishing or following through on the previous notion. Or notions, as the case may be.

Original Spring Dreams

My new ideas lately have all revolved around making Spring Dreams quilts for our sew along. The pattern is fun and easy, and so far I am not tired of it.

Patriotic Spring Dreams

But I have other plans, too, and I don't want to get so caught up in one new project after another that I forget about them.

So today I am taking stock of the situation. And making a list. I love lists.

First List - Current WIPs: Scrappy 4-patch, Red/White Stars, Sanctuary Spring Dreams

Scrappy 4-patch
Red/White Stars

A picture of my latest Spring Dreams will come Monday on the next sew along update. Hint: it's gonna' be stunning!

Second List - New Quilts To Make: Blue Kaffe Stars, Emma's quilt, Great Granny Square, Scrappy Irish Chain

I have made 4 stars for the Blue Kaffe quilt, however I don't consider it a work in progress, just yet. Just look how gorgeous! I am so eager to make this quilt.

DD Emma has asked for a very low volume quilt. We have collaborated, yet I have not done any more than buy 5-6 fat quarters for color analysis on her end.

The last two listed are for later in the year, I think. The Great Granny Square is one I've had my eye on for several years, yet I don't think I have an inspiration photo. The Scrappy Irish Chain will be fun and if I am not careful about restraining myself, I could see me tackling it next week! 

MessyJesse - a quilt blog by Jessie Fincham: The FINISHED Scrappy Irish  Chain Quilt + FREE Downloadable Pattern!
Scrappy Irish Chain - free pattern!

See what I mean by squirrel syndrome?

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Monday, April 26, 2021

Sew Along Update - Week 9

Perhaps you know that the Spring Dreams Sew Along was borne of the collective efforts of three former high school English teachers? Yes, Dee, Sharon, and I all worked side by side at the same high school and formed a wonderful, lasting friendship. 

Quilting English teachers. You might have known that you'd be heading toward something slightly different, am I right? In all the quilting blogs I've read and followed over the years, I don't believe I have ever seen original poetry offered up as reading material. However, you read poetry all the time if you are enjoying the beautiful selvages that are lately appearing on quilting fabrics. Wonderfully creative and evocative images - why, most of us cut them off and toss them in the waste bin. 

Not Dee! She has a "found poem" for us today, taken from selvages on our cutting tables. Sharon and I sent her our selvage sentiments, and then Dee took the whole mish-mash and penned this "found poem" for you today.

         A Bee in My Bonnet

We are fabrics, self-edged*,

An Art Gallery of Division, the Americana Edition, All Rights Reserved

Rocky Mountain Wild, Paris Flea Market, Made in Korea.

Inventory Detail: 100%?  Stock?  Premium Cotton?  Designer?

Preferred Bin; only the best birds sing?

Wander along the path less traveled, A Quilting Life,

Petal Steps, a Travel Daze, Creekside,

A Sun Shower on LuLu Lane, a Jelly Roll Playground.

Feel the difference?

Work Order, Shop Order: recalculate assembly and Quantity Required.

Build with cornerstones and sashing a new arrangement,

A Collection, Dreams.

By D Rice

*with the exception of this play on “selvage” the content is taken from selvages and fabric packaging and descriptions of this quilt-along.


Isn't it delightful!?  I have always admired Dee's creativity both in the classroom and beyond. Her unique way of seeing things and discovering meaning challenged her students - and, her next door neighbor in room 114!

Update on our quilting progress?

Yes, Dee informs me that she is stitching as fast as molasses and currently has 24 blocks made. You know, we are in no great rush, here, so if your speed is "molasses" that works just fine. *smile*

I did go ahead and start yet another Spring Dreams quilt. And, yes, I am using Sanctuary by 3 Sisters/Moda. My progress is like molasses, too. I've not gotten very far on this new version because the commission t-shirt quilt has had my attention these past several days. I did, though, sew long strips together. Now I need to press and cut my sub-units.

As is my general way, I like to make a block just to see it. Now I will be satisfied to stitch the rest in chaining fashion; they'll be done in no time. Oh, how dreamy this quilt will be! I am so eager to get back to it.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

T-Shirt Quilt Finish

Finishing feels so good.

You know the feeling of finally finishing a job that has been looming over you? For me the relief is palpable. As a teacher, I felt this when I finished grading a particularly large set of essays or finished a semester or school year. In the quilting room, finishing a customer's quilt ranks up there with a similarly huge sense of relief.

The high school graduate who will be receiving this quilt has been exceedingly active in sports, theater, clubs, and civic activities. His mother provided me with a great variety of shirts in very good condition. The quilt top went together quite easily, and has been ready for quilting since the end of February.

Look at the size of this quilt! Twenty-five shirts makes quite a large quilt. This is spread out on a queen-size bed, and the overhang is sizeable. It measures roughly 95" square.

Our school colors, you may have guessed, are purple and gold, and we are the Tigers. I was very fortunate to find some great gold fabric for the sashing strips. And how fantastic is that purple tiger-stripe fabric? I used it as cornerstones, borders, backing, and binding. And I used nearly every inch of it. What a game of puzzling it together! Gracious, was I creative!

So I am posting very late on Sunday evening, but I do want to get a post up for today. And tomorrow you will get the weekly update for the Spring Dreams Sew Along. Maybe a little later than early morning - perhaps around noon.

Happy Quilting, Friends!


Saturday, April 24, 2021

4-Patch Frenzy

For a couple of years now I have been making slow progress at taming the 30-year-old fabric scrap situation in the sewing room. What a task! For awhile, I will be very industrious, making great headway through the boxes, piles, tubs, and drawers. The job is so massive, and my commitment never seems to last very long. Another idea takes my focus away from scrap management; I leave the task unfinished and move on to something more exciting. Scrap management is drudgery work in comparison to a new quilt.

However, I am making progress, and having a specific quilt in mind for the scraps makes it so much easier to muster enthusiasm for the otherwise dull task.

This scrappy project has been in the works for over a year, and I have renewed focus on it since last week's quilt retreat. Those 4-patch centers have been my main focus this week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was up to my eyeballs in 2-inch squares! The bin they were stored in was quite full. I wanted to turn ALL the scrappy squares into 4-patches. Whew. Seemed like I'd never finish. But finish them I did.

The pile of chain-pieced 4-patches grew and grew behind my machine.

Finally, all were made. I took the pile over to the table to cut apart and stack. How many did I make?

As I cut them apart, I stacked them in groups of 10; the grand total came to 204. That means I started with 816 squares. Geesh. Next up: pressing them open.

The quilt I am making will not require 204 more blocks. Do you see how scraps work? The situation is ongoing. With each quilt I make, I amass more scraps that potentially will be cut down into 2" squares - the cycle never ends.

Well, it could end. 

I could stop quilting. Uhhh, no. End of that conversation.

I could stop saving scraps. Again, no. Fabric is too darned expensive; I can't bear the thought of tossing out a bit that still has potential. 

Mostly, I enjoy the challenge of using scraps to make pretty quilts. However, not all scrap quilts are created equal, in my opinion. Some are way too 'busy' or chaotic-looking. More and more I find myself subscribing to the 'less is more' philosophy. In previous posts, I've used the 'controlled scrappy' description. Yes, that is what appeals most.

Let's change topics real quick. Did you get snow this week? On Wednesday, we had about 2". Here's the maple tree in our front yard.

Tree leaves aren't out yet, but some of the undergrowth in the background is almost fully leafed out. The snow really clung to the branches and leaves. Made a pretty picture. It was all melted by afternoon. April in Ohio - snow is not frequent, but it's certainly not the latest snow we've ever had.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

My Retreat Projects

 My retreat week was extremely productive. I am known to be quite a procrastinator, but by gosh, I really focused on the projects I wanted to finish and got 'em done! 

I surprise myself at times.

Nearly everything I took to work on involved finishing works in progress. It feels very good to have made significant progress on these.

First up, I wanted to finish the Double Irish Chain that I'd worked on with Sharon. Here's a click back to details on our previous work. I had all the 25-patch blocks done; at retreat, I made the setting blocks and constructed the quilt top. I ended up decided to add a row to the width, so I made the extra blocks necessary. I won't be adding a border.

The next WIP on the to-do list:  my red and white stars quilt. I'd previously finished all the stars, so I went to work cutting and sewing. Below is a portion of the finished blocks. I did finish them all, and now have only quilt top construction to do.

It's been a very, very long time since I last worked on the scrappy quilt I am making from random 2" squares. Even so, I consider it a WIP, and not a UFO. (Just sayin'.) I took the project tub, hoping I would be able to recover my mojo on this quilt. I did! It had been over a year since I last did any significant work on this quilt.

I call this a controlled scrappy quilt. All the center 4-patches are entirely from my scrap tub. The red print and white shirting fabrics surrounding the 4-patches are more orderly, yet do not match. I like how this looks and am totally getting excited about finishing this quilt top.

In addition to these, I also worked on binding quilts. I shared the secret sewing in a previous post, and I shared the two little quilts here and here.

Onward! Today Sharon is coming and we have much catching up to do. I am unsure of what I will work on, but you can be confident that when I decide, I will share it all here.

Happy Quilting, Friends! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Retreat Highlights

 If a group of 5-6 quilters spend a week squirreled away together at a retreat, the blog post dedicated to telling all about it has the potential to be really long. I will try hard not to be long-winded, but there's just so much to tell.

First, our location. Nelsonville, Ohio, is like many little towns that are just off the beaten path. Once upon a time, the town thrived, but not so much any more. It could really use some revitalizing. One family is doing their part. The owners of the Nelsonville Quilt Shop also own and operate Needles and Pines, the retreat house. Yes, it is a house. What a great job they have done at setting this place up for quilters. 

Front door; split level; go up for all sewing areas plus kitchen and 3 bedrooms.

Main retreat room. Sewing stations, cutting area; ironing board; design walls.

Kitchen and dining area.

The back corner of the main sewing room.

Another view of main sewing area.

And one last look at the sewing area.

Looking down the driveway and out across the hills of Athens County; redbud trees blooming.

Retreat guests get special discounts at the quilt shop, which is located in the downtown area. I should have asked how old the building is; the tin ceiling is in beautiful condition. 

I will quickly (?) run through most of the projects we worked on. I cannot offer many details; if anyone asks for specifics, I will be happy to find out and let you know. I also know that I missed photographing some of the projects. It's hard to keep up!

Susan: Christmas quilt made with 12 Days of Christmas panels.

Susan: quilt for her little granddaughter.

Jan: using her (exchange) churn dash blocks in this setting.

Jan: after a lot of gnashing of teeth, she had a quilt top!

Sheryll: came to retreat with blocks cut and prepped for Kathleen Tracy sew along.

Sheryll: one block of the several she completed this week.

Terry: A patriotic wall hanging.

Becky: stitched together these diamond blocks.

Becky: EPP project coming together.

Helen: A Halloween quilt kit.

Helen: Another kit - summer picnic-style.


This post is already too long, and I haven't shown what I worked on. I will share my projects tomorrow. Come on back to have a look-see!

Happy Quilting, Friends!