Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Half Square Triangle Love Fest...

Last year, I feel like I had a love affair with half square triangles (HSTs).  I must have sewed thousands of them together.  And I literally mean thousands!  Fortunately, my quilt bee had done an HST swap several years ago, so I wasn't starting from scratch. 

I was able to get most of my pinwheel blocks for a king-size Scrappy Pinwheel quilt from that swap.  I used my stash for the rest of it. 

Initially I planned to add borders to the outside.  I even bought fabric to do so, but in the end, I decided I loved it without them so I just made more pinwheel blocks to make it big enough to fit our bed.  It's now 96" x 108".

I have the batting, but still need to get the backing for this one.  I also made a coordinating lap-sized quilt to go over the back of the chair in the bedroom.  It's only 51" x 63" but it was almost as much work piecing all those little rows together.  It was worth it though!

And I took advantage of the brief warm spell last week to baste this little one and a couple of others for quilting.  FYI - as I type this, it's snowing outside!

David is up to his old tricks again.  He was particularly helpful as I tried to get this binding sewn down the other day.  It only took me twice as long with his assistance!

Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness!” 
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NLT)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

My 'little' sewing helper...

I've mentioned before how much of a 'helper' my cat David is when I'm sewing.  I do most of my hand stitching/applique at night while watching TV.  Even though he's more than twice as big as a normal cat, he's convinced he's a lap kitty so he's determined to lie in my lap at night.  I'm trying very hard to train him to sit beside me so I can sew, but thus far, he's extremely resistant!  Here's a series of pictures from a battle the other night...

Just for reference in the pictures, I'll explain that I put a pillow on my lap and then my sewing box to give me the height and stability I need when I'm hand appliqueing.  It's what works best for me (and my neck!)

Here David has crawled directly on top of the sewing box on my lap.  I had to pull my stitching out from underneath him and off to the side.

It's difficult to see, but he's now curled up on top of the sewing box.  I keep the blanket beside me in the chair and I try to coax/ease/push him onto it.  He's 23 lbs though and if he doesn't want to move, he won't.

He's now standing on top of the box begging to be petted and scratched.

Well, he's finally off the box, but only because he's decided he wants to smurgle my lap. (Yes, it's a real word.  Look it up!)  Still no stitching getting done....

Eventually he did settle down for a nap and I made some progress on my sewing.  I'm hand appliqueing the last ship in my Ladies of the Sea quilt.  This is another long time UFO that I hope to make some really good progress on this year.

If you get the impression from this post that we're ruled by our pets, well, you're probably right.  We have 3 cats and a dog and most days they do seem to run things.  But considering how much joy they bring to our lives, I'd say it's a pretty fair trade.

So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Last minute redesign...

One of the long time quilts on my UFO list is Snowmen A to ZZZZ.  This is a Crabapple Hill Studios pattern.  (I love their patterns!)  I'm not sure when I started it but I know I took a break for a couple of years sometime around Noel.  In fact, my mom actually worked on a couple of the blocks for me.  (She's making the same quilt, but finished stitching her blocks a long. long. long time ago.)  I picked it back up several months ago and was very excited when I finished stitching the last block shortly before Christmas!  Yeah!  I didn't have either the inner or outer border fabrics yet, but since it was the holidays, it was the perfect time to buy them.  After much deliberation, I picked this Black Metallic Snowflake from Holiday Flourish by Peggy Toole for the outer border.

Holiday Flourish Black Metallic Ornate Snowflakes
If you look closely, you'll notice that a few of the snowflakes have red in them.  It's not a lot, just a touch really.  But seeing that had me rethinking my quilt.  I stitched all of my blocks using black perle cotton on a cream background like in this Wreath block.

Because of the border fabric, I've now decided to go back and add accents to some of the blocks with red thread.  So far I've only done the one block, but I like the pop it gives it.

The inner border is also a mottled red so I think it will it all together nicely.  Hopefully it won't take too long to make changes to these blocks.  I'd love to have this one done before next Christmas!

"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." 
1 Thessalonians 5:15

Sunday, January 7, 2018

All a flutter...

It's a fact that I have a impressive daunting number of UFO's to complete.  Every year I hope to whittle that number down, but since I do my own quilting, it seems to grow instead of shrink!  As of today, I have 42 quilt tops needing to be quilted.  So I try to talk myself out of starting new projects and only working on the ones I have.  Unless of course it's a prayer quilt.  I've always felt free to stop working on any other projects if I feel like I need to make one of these.  Recently I really felt the call to make one for a friend's daughter.  I'm sure everyone reading this has gone through their own health issues or know someone close to them going through them.  Unfortunately it's an all too common part of life.  But when it happens to someone young, it's just that much harder.

I had been saving this bundle of Flutterby fabrics by Tula Pink for a very long time and this seemed like the perfect quilt in which to use them.  (FYI - the top fabric is Natural Effects by Michelle D'Amore.)

Melissa Corry of Happy Quilting designed a quilt using the new Moda Cake Mix Recipes and I thought it would be a fun pattern for this fabric.  She used Cake Mix #5.  The layout looks SO much more complicated than it is.  It's actually just a mix of 4-patches and HST's.

Quilt layout from Melissa Corry of Happy Quilting

LOTS of 4-patches and HST's.  It still went together pretty quickly.  And because everything was sewn using the Cake Mix paper, it went together perfectly!

I must have left my brain at home when I went to purchase the backing fabric though, because I didn't buy quite enough.  I had some leftover blocks from the quilt so I added them to the back to make it big enough.  It will serve double purpose as the label once it's quilted.

I made the binding out of the only remaining fabric I had enough of.  (As soon as I finish a quilt top I always like to make the backing and binding at the same time.  That way, even if I don't quilt it for a long time, I don't have to go searching for the fabric when I finally get around to it.)

All I need now is some white batting and a warm enough day so I can baste it.  (I spray baste all my quilts.)  I plan to quilt it and get it to it's new home as soon as possible.

I actually had a lot of help making this quilt.  From the same someone who has continuously helped me 'write' this post!  This is my sewing buddy David.  He does NOT like to be ignored and keeps walking across my laptop while I'm trying to type.  He also likes to lie in front of the needle on my sewing machine and routinely climbs on top of it to keep me company.

David on top of my sewing machine

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. 
John 16:33 (NLT)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Year(s) in Review...

It's no secret that I didn't spend much time sewing in 2015 or 2016, both because of building a new house and because of health issues.  This year I was really able to get back to quilting and worked on quite a few projects; I was just terrible about blogging about them.  In the interest of starting over with a clean slate, I thought I'd quickly review those projects I finished in 2015, 2016 and 2017 that I actually did post about.  I've included links to those posts.

In 2015, I finished 2 quilts and 3 quilt tops.

Winter Wonderland
Swoon Raffle Quilt
Swooning Kate
I only finished one quilt and one quilt top in 2016.

Going Crazy
And I only blogged about a couple of quilts this year although I finished at least half a dozen more.

Sea Foam Asteria
Olivia's Star
This year I have SO many projects I want to work on including a lot of tops I want to get quilted.  I quilt all my own tops so that will take a good amount of my time.  I'm very excited to see what this year brings and hope to spend at least a little bit of every day in my sewing room (aka my happy place!)

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” 
Matthew 11:28-29a (MSG)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Olivia's Star...

I know it's been too long since I blogged because in my last post I was so grateful for air conditioning!  It's below freezing today (and for the next week) and the country is in a deep freeze right now.  Even though I haven't been spending much time here lately (despite good intentions), I have been spending a lot of time in my sewing room (aka my happy place).  I have lots to share and hope to be better about it next year.

One special quilt that I did finish this year was for my first great grandchild, Olivia.  I spent a lot of time designing, picking out fabric, making and quilting this one.  A lot of times I'll take patterns and make some changes to suit my tastes, but I don't often design my own from scratch.  It's a little scary to see if it will turn out like you have it pictured in your head.  This one did and I'm very happy with the end result.  I'm calling it Olivia's Star.

I used Darling Little Dickens by Lydia Nelson for most of the fabric.  I then took the animal designs in the fabric and made them out of faux fur.  The 'O' in Olivia is the sheep.  The border fabric is also made entirely of rows of sheep!

I used the bumblebees to dot the 'i's in her name.

I also added a bear and his honey pot.

And I hand embroidered her birth information underneath her name.

There was a lot of piecing, hand applique, hand embroidery, machine applique and free motion quilting.  I even added some piping between the inner and outer borders.

Here's a picture of the quilting from the back...

So the details for this quilt are...
  • Size: 54" x 67"
  • Fabric: Little Darling Dickens by Lydia Nelson, various faux fur, solids and flannels
  • Batting: Warm & White
  • Thread: Aurifil 50 wt & 80 wt
  • Pattern: Solomon Star quilt block but my own pattern
Initially I planned for this quilt to be one that Olivia could just roll around on and get dirty.  I was even going to put Minkee on the back to make it soft and snuggly.  But truthfully, it's more of a quilt for her to grow up with and keep.  I still wanted her to have a 'binkie' though, so I made her another quilt.  It's 40" square, also uses the Little Darling Dickens fabric (I have SO much of this fabric), has Minkee on the back and uses the Disappearing 9-Patch pattern.  Her mom says that she uses this quilt ALL the time which makes me smile.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. 
Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Planning Ahead...

Well I was right about it being a hot summer! I am SO grateful for air conditioning. Even though we didn't always have it growing up, I would have a difficult time adjusting to a North Carolina summer without it now. I have been incredibly busy this June and July. In my last post, I mentioned I had gotten in the fabric to make new curtains for our living and dining rooms. I love the fabric I picked out, but the pattern has both a vertical and horizontal repeat to it so the curtains were a lot more complicated to make. I also lined them with a blackout lining. By the time I hung them with metal curtain rings, there was so much fabric and they were so heavy, they ended up pulling one of the curtain rods off the wall. My husband was able to reattach it with larger wall anchors and everything has been good for the last week or so. Hopefully we won't have any more problems. Despite all the issues I ran into making them, I LOVE them and I'm so glad I went to all the effort.

Dining Room curtains
Another little project I finished up was a new cover for my ironing board. My husband made my ironing board for me several years ago and it's 2' wide x 6' long. It's perfect for ironing large pieces of fabric like backings. Although my last cover was stapled on, I wanted to be able to take this one off and wash it. I like to use Magic Sizing or Mary Ellen's Best Press when ironing my blocks and over time it can build up on the surface of my ironing board.  Being able to take it off and wash it will keep it nice and fresh for several years.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but I used this Miss Kate print for the cover...

This summer has seen a few fun package deliveries headed my way.  I had a birthday not that long ago and received several gift certificates to quilt shops as gifts.  In planning ahead for some upcoming projects, I bought several bolts of fabric to use for backgrounds in quilts.

Essex Linen Oyster, Essex Linen White, Grunge Vanilla
The Fat Quarter Shop had a nice sale on Robert Kaufman's Essex Linen last month.  I've seen several quilts using it and heard good things so I'm eager to try it out.  I also wanted a bolt of Grunge fabric in a light color.  It is surprising how many light colors are available and it's very difficult to determine what the color differences are.  I went to a number of different quilt stores and bought a yard of what they had so I could compare them.  (FYI - the selvage id on the Grunge fabrics does not indicate which fabric it is.  If you want to keep track, you have to mark it yourself.)  Finally I decided I like the Grunge Vanilla best.

A local quilt store was also having their anniversary sale and I picked up the backing for 2 more quilts.  I prefer using solids for my backings because the quilting shows up so much better.  When I first started quilting, this was the same reason I didn't use solids on the back!  Boy how times change.

I've also ordered some of Aurifil's new 80 wt cotton thread that I want to use to machine quilt the baby quilt I'm working on.  I'm excited to try it.  I love using YLI 100 wt silk thread for machine quilting but I expect the baby quilt to be washed a lot so I think the cotton thread will be a better choice.  I'll let you know what I think after I try it out.

I know a lot of people here have really been struggling with allergies this year.  Our Gabriel deals with them every year, but she's been extra itchy this summer.  Poor girl!

She's trying to find ways to cope though...

"It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good."
Galatians 4:18 (NIV)