Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sisters Quilt Together: Our First Block

I'm sharing this project all out of order.  Last time I shared about how my sister and I got into this project and then shared about our 4th block.  So now I'll begin to set things right and share about our first block.

When I was going through my stash for the first block this sewing machine fabric in the center of the block caught my eye and I knew I had to use it right away.  But what to use it with...  My sister is a big tye dyer.  In fact she has a tye dye party every fall.  I remembered that I my youngest daughter had recently set aside a tee shirt that she grew out of which was a shirt that my sister tye dyed for her.  So I lined up the sewing machine in the center of the heart then stitched around it, finishing it off by cutting close to the stitching in the center of the heart and exposing the sewing machine.  I was so excited...a sewing machine in the center of a tye dyed heart.  It was a perfect first block.  I sent it off to her at this point.

She sent it back with an Alabama Chainin flare to it...which is so cool because there was a period where we were both into this type of sewing and created some pretty neat things that we still use today.  You can see her black hand stitching lines just outside of my machine ones.

She also laid a lime green knit behind it and was able to she add these aqua bordered leaves making the lime color pop out.  The lime is also visible around all the edges the entire quilt square.

I love this block!  I think it's the perfect block to get us started in this journey together.  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sisters Quilt Together Project - Block 4

This idea was borrowed from a friend of mine who showed me a quilt that her and a friend made together over the years.  They would make part of a block then send it to the other who would then add to it.  Some blocks contained stories and memories either through the fabrics or the block design.  They would make two blocks so that they could each have the same one.  When the quilt was completed they put together each other's quilt and then mailed the other friend her finished quilt so while they both contained the same blocks each quilt was put together differently.  She had told me about it but not until I actually saw it did I really understand it.  I was so inspired after seeing the quilt in person that as soon as I got home from her house I texted my sister to let her know that we were starting a new project.  I am so grateful that I have a sister to share my love of quilting!

Here's a photo I snapped of my friend's quilt.  I love their fabrics and colors.  Everything goes together so well!

My sister and I live about 1 1/2 hours from each other and we both have busy lives so it's not very often that we see each other.  At one point we said we would get together every month or every other month to have a crafting day.  I think we've done it two times since saying we should and that was more than a year ago.  Every time we did it though we were like "We need to do this again soon!" But of course life just gets too in the way.  This project is perfect because while we aren't necessarily together making we are making together.  And who doesn't love to get mail?!  It's a rarity these days to actually get something hand addressed and something that isn't a bill or junk.  Remember those days when people would send you paper birthday cards or notes?

I started off the project by sending her the first blocks.  We decided there is absolutely no theme.  Just go where your creativity leads you.  The only rule was the blocks need to measure 12".  After working her creative magic on them she returned one of the now finished blocks and the start to the 2 new blocks.  Then I finished the second set of blocks, kept one for myself and sent her just one of those completed blocks along with the start to 2 more new blocks and so on.  We have no time table for these either.  At first we were doing them every few weeks.  I think the time between the last block she sent me and since I finished it has been at least a couple months, but with the end of school out of the way, a 6th grade graduation complete, our vacation over and some business chaos out of the way for the moment I've got some time to work on it a little bit.  Plus I haven't been sewing at all over the past month and I'm missing it big time!

Our most recent block (#4) is below.  I'm sharing this first because the fabrics used are appropriate for the time of year.  In following posts I'll continue to share the first 3 blocks as well as our newest ones.  It will be fun to see them documented along the way.

The most recent block she sent me was about a 6" block of crazy quilting.  She stitched it all on to a foundation piece.  The amazing thing was that each block was identical.  Each little piece was the same shape!  Finally a reason to use all those different stitches on her machine!

I added the block border which turned out to be some blocks and some weird rectangles...didn't turn out quite as I imagined but oh well, no rules right!?

A lot of the fabrics in this block came from a quilt shop hop we did several years ago!

I needed to add a small outer border to get it to 12" but I think the solid green brought it all together. I also used a special stitch to outline the crazy quilted section from the borders which I thought gave it a nice touch.

This quilt may take us a year or years.  I think I'm leaning more towards years but it will be so worth it in the end.  We are not sure how many blocks we are shooting for but I think we will know when we are done.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Charity Quilts

Here are some of the quilts I've been working on to donate to the pediatric unit at our local hospital.  I shared a little about them previously here.

My first one is a design of my own.  I started this idea many years ago when I was really into hexagons.  I used the Hexie Half template by Lori Holt to create these butterflies.  I intended to make this a much bigger quilt but since it's been sitting in my unfinished project pile I decided it was going to be downsized and would make a perfect child sized quilt to be donated.

I'm not sure I would quilt it the same if I made this quilt again though.  I don't love how the round quilted wings go with the sharper edges of the pieces but I wasn't about to take it all out.  I still like the idea though.  I used a mix of pink and purple threads for the quilting.  I didn't want it to be too dense so I just used and all over butterfly and swirls pattern...sort of like the butterflies are flying around.

The quilting was completely random and unplanned.  Some came out a little more abstract than others.  My quilting will never be perfect or even close, nor do I want it to.  I like a little messier and unplanned look.

Maybe not quite this messy but every quilt has some oops.

This is not a great photo.  It was a beautiful evening but not a good time for a photo apparently.  The wind kept sneaking up and my helper preferred to be on the couch resting on that Sunday afternoon if I remember correctly.  The 5 blocks are hard to see but those are all pieced together with scraps of fabric from a part of a panel I had in my stash.  The quilting is a simple diagonal through each square.  I wanted to keep it simple and soft for the coziness factor.  Sometimes those really densely quilted quilts feel a little too stiff.

I think this is my favorite quilt.  There something I just love about the simplicity of a gingham quilt.  I first fell in love with the style when I was sewing together one of my La Passacaglia rosettes and loved the pattern some of the fabrics I chose created then tried to figure out what it was that made me keep looking at it and realized it was a gingham pattern.  Ever since I've been looking for ways to use it.

I have some more that I've finished as well but I haven't had a chance to photograph them yet.  For my free time I've mostly been working in the yard and garden soaking up as much sun as possible.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Quilting Scraps

I've been in the mood to sew lately but I haven't really been able to decide exactly what to sew.  I have also been working to reduce the amount of sewing stuff that I have too.  I know... gasp!  but I hate to think about all the tubs of fabric and supplies that are tucked away going unused.  If it's in a closed box and I can't see it I might as well not even have it.

I've been making peace with the fabrics and supplies that I love and haven't brought myself to use yet.  I've been sewing non-stop for well over a decade and those special things I have been saving just don't have the same appeal so I might as well make something out of it all now.

Several years ago I found a book at the library called Scrap Therapy Cut the Scraps! by Joan Ford.  Her process is basically cutting her scraps into certain sized blocks and storing them for a future project.  I was hooked!  Since then I've been cutting lots of 2 1/2" squares and mixing in lots of other sizes.  I've just recently started adding in 1 1/2" squares.  I told myself I wouldn't bother with such small pieces but my sewing lately has gotten me working with smaller pieces and enjoying it!

This is also right up my alley for doing some mindless work to destress or just puttering.  For those times I feel like being in my sewing area but don't really want to run the machine or think about putting pieces together.

I've come to think about my sewing like grabbing a cookie, a cigarette or whatever someone needs for getting a quick fix.  If I've got a couple minutes before running out the door or waiting for something to cook for dinner I'll head to my sewing area and grab some scraps and start cutting.

A little more recently I've stumbled across cutting strips instead of blocks.  Another idea that I was thinking, why have I not thought of this before?!

Sometimes I just really want to sew but not with any particular project in mind so I'll grab a box of squares I pre-cut and do a short-cut method for half square triangles or 1/4 square triangles.  In my effort to clean out I just went through a couple bins of old quilt squares I've made over the years and pulled any 1/2 or 1/4 square triangles out and put them all into their own container.

Here and there...just doing the fun bits.  Someday I'll pull it all together and I'll see where/how it will all end up.  It's a surprise of my choosing in the future.   

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Weekly Catch-up

It wasn't too eventful this past week but spring is in the air and we've been doing some work around the house.  The snow is melting and creating a nice river right in front of the entry to my house.  I'll be so glad when all this mud is gone!  I've been doing lots of sewing.  Mainly for friends and neighbors, a few orders mixed in and I've been working on some fun quilting blocks you can find here.  Check out my instagram feed for blocks I've created.

Last week it was in the 50's one day and I went out hoping to be able to do something in the yard only to find that everything was still covered in snow.  So I broke off a bunch of my forsythia branches to bring in and force some natural spring color.  They just started blooming yesterday!

Last Friday I woke up at 6am, went down stairs, switched on the light only to have it go out again.  Turns out at that exact moment a transformer caught on fire down the road and left our area without power for just over an hour.  Not knowing when it would be back on school got cancelled.  My older daughter is in the photo above at 6:30 am reading by candle and flashlight.  I was actually kind of happy about this because now we could have a "girls day".  It's been awhile since we had one of those where I didn't have to include running for work.  Fridays are my grocery shopping days and my older daughter loves grocery shopping.  My younger one, not so much.  It took some creative convincing to get her out the door.  That involved Dunkin Donuts and a movie when we got home.

This week wraps up my latest pottery class.  My goal this session was to make a some mugs that we could actually drink out of and that didn't require a workout to lift it.  These are just getting ready to be bisque fired (the first of 2 firings) then I'll glaze them.  That's when the magic happens.  I made some other things too but this was the last batch.  I've really improved since my first class last summer.  I'm feeling much more comfortable with the process now so I'm planning on enrolling in open studio time so I can just play and hone in some skills.

Saturday morning I finally found the motivation to paint my bathroom.  I picked the color (sea glass) out for this room a couple years ago but then that gallon ended up going to an apartment bathroom that needed painting.  I rebought another gallon and that one sat for about a year and a half before this Saturday.  I don't yet have a finished photo because there's still lots of extra stuff cluttering the room until I can get it to the Salvation Army.  I will say that I love it!  Finally!  Nice and clean and new.  I love what paint can do.  My youngest daughter was helping out for a little while by changing this old cabinet from country blue to white.  

And then there's Wiley.  He's so ready for nice weather (aren't we all!).  Still just goes out, runs around the house then wants to come right back in but at least he's going out.  He just turned 13 and this is the first winter that he spent most of it inside by the wood stove napping.  I wish I was a cat.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Kids Quilts

I've been neglecting this blog even more than normal and that's not a good way to start off a new year. Two months in and no posts.  I've got lots of photos and ideas but just not the motivation to sit down and get it all on here.  So I'm going to start with sharing some of the kids quilts I've been making.  I love quilting but very often I get bored with a big quilt.  Being that I no longer have very many little kids in my life I don't do any sewing for little people which is probably the most fun for me.  From dresses, dolls and doll accessories, hair bands and stuffies...all relatively quick sew things that they usually get excited over.  Not so much excitement around my hand sewn items now that my girls are older.  So when I heard that our local hospital had run out of the kid sized quilts that are donated for their pediatric unit which are given to children after a surgery I got all excited.  I've got quite a bit of kid fabrics that I probably would never have used otherwise.

So far I've finished the tops for 10 quilts.  They have specified 3'x 4' is a good size so these are all pretty close to that.  I've only got one quilted and bound.  

I'm glad to finally use up my Eric Carle fabric that I've had for years.  This is the last pile of it.  Whenever I pull it out for another project I'm reminded of the story of Jesus and how the crowds were fed from just seven loaves of bread and just keeps going.  I don't know how I keep making so much out of it.  I bought a smallish bag of this fabric from a friend that she had left over from a quilt she made.  So far I've gotten 2 quilts for this project.  Prior to that I made 2 other quilts a couple years back with some other quilter friends and we donated them to our local library.  They sold raffle tickets and raised about $500 I think.  I have enough for at least one more quilt but I need to take a break from those fabrics for awhile. 

Using my DIY mini piecing wall I was able to start laying the first quilt out and get all the odd shapes to work together.  My starting point was the blocks with the leaf on the left and the caterpillar on the right.  You will see below much of this layout changed. 

I was really trying to utilize every little scrap that I had.  You can tell from the center piece with only a piece of the pie and a lollipop stick showing.  But when you put it all together into the bigger quilt its hidden enough.

Here's an overall look of the first quilt.   It's pretty crazy but I find my quilting tends to do that.  I get bored with symmetrical.  I'm sure some child will love to have it.  

I'll share more quilts as I work through the pile to get them quilted.  I'm really excited that I can do something I love and hopefully make a scary time for a child be a little less so with something handmade just for him or her.