Friday, October 20, 2017

Viewing your hometown through a visitor's eye

We had company from out of state yesterday and spent part of the afternoon visiting our most famous local attraction - the Corn Palace. Folks around here often joke about it being the world's largest bird feeder, as the outside is decorated each year with mural made of corn and local grasses.

I always enjoy seeing the murals change each fall.  For decades the murals were designed by noted Native American artist Oscar Howe. But in recent years, other talented local artists have designed them. The outdoor murals are laid out much like a paint-by-number picture. A local farmer grows the 12 colors of corn especially for this display. Each ear of corn is split in half lengthwise, and nailed up onto the board.

This year's theme is South Dakota Weather. So far my favorite picture is on the front of the building, with lightning striking all around a country church. And we've noticed that the green corn is especially prominent this year.

Inside The Corn Palace - it's a city auditorium, with more murals. We watch high school and college basketball in there. We've gone to plays and concerts in there. We've attended the circus in there. They even have rodeo bull riding events.  And now the hallways have become a wonderful museum with photos from over 100 years of murals and entertainment events.  And there are some educational displays about corn for both adults and children. And it's all FREE to explore!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New carpet

Yesterday morning we had new carpet installed in our family room.  It looks great, but now it makes the carpet in the nearby rooms and hallway look awful.  I briefly considered hard wood instead, but in this room I really like the cozy feel of carpet. Especially in the winter. We spend most of our time in this room.
My husband and I had emptied the room of furniture (and stuff) on Saturday before he left for a business trip early Sunday morning. The only thing we couldn't move was the big oak entertainment center, but the store had assured me that for a small extra charge the installers (plural) would move that for us. Yay! So when the lone installer showed up I was very worried that we would have to reschedule.  But the guy assured me that with my help he could move it. And he was right, but it wasn't easy. 
Four hours later the old carpet was removed and the new was installed.  After some vigorous vacuuming, I decided to just move back a couple of small furniture items. Sofa sections just don't belong in the kitchen.  Push, pull - then rest and repeat.  It took me over 2 hours but all of the furniture is back in the room. And my back was killing me. The only thing left to do is figure out what I have plugged in wrong on our TV system (too complicated) because we have no sound. Oh, and I need to put back the tchotchkes and books on the shelves in the entertainment center. Some purging will happen as I do that.
My husband will be so impressed - maybe - that his overweight, out-of-shape 63 year old wife managed to do this all by myself.  I just hope he doesn't expect that kind of physical labor all the time.  This was motivated purely by the desire to have my home back to normal.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Age - cat approved

My 2016 Saturday Sampler is done, on the bed, and evidently cat approved.  I finished the binding while watching the Vikings beat the Packers on Sunday.
Usually Sammy hangs out under my desk when I'm working in the mornings, but Monday he didn't show up.  He seems a bit stressed because the family room furniture is all pushed into other rooms in preparation for carpet installation today. So our bedroom is one of the only safe places he can find right now and he has been spending a lot of time curled up in the middle of our bed. I'll just shut the door to the bedroom when the installers arrive so he feels secure. He is an old (16), 20 pound "fraidy cat".  
A New Age, made of over dyed muslin was a challenging project. The blocks went together easily each month but I had a couple of problems getting that pieced border correct. My mistakes were simple to correct however and then I added that last butterfly print border to make it long enough for a nice drop on each side. So it's a huge quilt.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Starting a new Saturday Sampler

The new Saturday Sampler program began yesterday.  It's called Summer Watermelon Sampler.  Nothing about this one makes me think of watermelons or summer however. Even though I've been quilting for more than 30 years, I feel that programs like Saturday Sampler are a wonderful learning opportunity, plus the bonus of a social activity.  New techniques, and reinforcing techniques I already knew - all part of the learning.  And the show 'n tell every month is just plain inspiring!
Can you tell that I love going to Saturday Sampler?  Here are my finished blocks for this month. Both blocks are made with the same pieces, but the corner sections are turned in block #2 and the fabrics are in different locations.  Plus I did a little switching in block #2 to increase the contrast. 
These came entirely from my stash.  The plan for now is to use scrappy black and whites, with bright batiks, all of which I should be able to pull from the stash and/or the scrap bins.  I may even make another set using other scraps because these were really simple blocks to make and God knows there are plenty of scraps to use up.

Check out Design Wall Monday at: 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ride With the Wind

It needs a label yet, but otherwise the wall hanging is done.  I think it will be called "Ride With the Wind".  The bright multi-colored thread does show up nicely, but doesn't over power the piece.  My quilting lines are sufficiently random with soft waves all across, hopefully suggesting the prairie wind.  The green and red section is actually a Row By Row from this summer's road trip through Iowa with my husband. The shop in Adel, Iowa had designed this row and I immediately had a plan to make a wall hanging with it. The mottled black looks like of like asphalt.  Considering it was a "design as you sew" kind of project, I like how it turned out.  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Random waves

I've mentioned quite often that I struggle with machine quilting things myself. I have a LOT of trouble relaxing enough to make smooth curves. But I can somewhat handle straight line quilting - except for stitch-in-the-ditch. I take my eye off the "ditch" and allow the needle to wander. Not pretty!
But I had a picture in my mind of how I wanted to quilt the cycling wall hanging, and was determined to do it myself.  Random waves moving across the piece horizontally would represent the wind. I bought a pretty thread so it would show up on the black road sections really nicely. And then it just sat on the corner of my sewing table, waiting.  
Yesterday I finally got brave enough to just jump in and give it a try.  And surprisingly, I'm happy with the results. The binding is even half done, so I'll show it off once it's done.
The other project for the day was to make 2 more of the pillowcases that I have kitted up.  Slowly, but surely I'm working my way through the stack of pillowcase kits.

Monday, October 9, 2017

First finish for October

It's only 6" square, but it's done.  So it counts, right?  This is one of the Match Box quilts from Fat Quarter Shop. Very cute little project.  Check out Design Wall Monday at:
This morning I had to accept that summer probably is really over.  The leaves have really started to fall, and we have a freeze warning for tonight. Sigh!! 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mini mason jars

My Sew Vintage group is beginning to dabble in the Spelling Bee book by Lori Holt.  The patterns are quite similar to her previous book, Farm Girl Vintage. The directions are provided for both 6" and 12" blocks, and are so easy to follow.
This darling mason jar block is my first one from the book, and I decided to make 2 of the 6" blocks.  They are so cute!!  No idea where we're going with these, but I'm going to just enjoy the ride.
And I keep looking at the alphabet blocks in the book and imagining how cute they would be in pillows for the grandkids.  And I have lots of scraps to play with.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October goals

My list of October goals has some carryover from previous months. I just want to keep making some progress on these items. 

I'll quickly admit that my attention has been distracted lately toward some genealogy research, instead of sewing. I've been working on my family info and my husband's family info, but now I've begun doing some research for one of my sons-in-law.  And - like everything we become obsessed with - it's black hole.  I get started and next thing I know, hours have gone by.

  1. plan 4 new Christmas stockings for family of daughter #2
  2. sandwich & quilt - Simple Whatnots project Abiding Faith
  3. cut out next Simple Whatnots project 
  4. finish binding the 2016 Saturday Sampler - more than halfway
  5. make 2 more pillowcases from the kits
  6. quilt and bind the cycling wall hanging
  7. finish blocks for APQ 2017 UFO Challenge (batik stars) - still in the project box
  8. begin new Saturday Sampler project
Do you participate in a monthly BOM program, either online or in person?  I've been attending Saturday Sampler at my local quilt shop for at least 16 years.  We meet at 9:00 am on the second Saturday of the month.  The Show 'n Tell is the best part. It's so inspiring to see what everyone has been making. And then the new block - or mystery clue - is revealed and demonstrated.  Our last one was a mystery with fairly simple clues. The one before that was big and complicated, and will finally be done when I finish that binding. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Another small project

In the most recent Sew Sampler box from Fat Quarter Shop was a new item called a Matchbox Quilt. In a small "matchbox" style of box were all the required parts for a small finished quilt. Printed on one piece of fabric are the instructions, all of the pieces to cut for the front and back of the little quilt, and the binding.  Also folded into the box was the batting and some embroidery floss to use to quilt it.  Cute idea!  And there are other designs and colors so we can be tempted to buy more. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September in review . . .

September goals were a bit ambitious, and only partially met.  But partial is better than not at all.  So some of this will remain on my October goal list.
  1. Simple Whatnots project - Abiding Faith - top is done, but not quilted
  2. bind the 2016 Saturday Sampler - less than halfway
  3. make 5 more pillowcases from the kits - only made 2
  4. quilt and bind the cycling wall hanging - bought thread
  5. make a big floor pillow for grandson Jack - Nope, didn't happe
  6. finish blocks for APQ 2017 UFO Challenge (batik stars) - still in the project box
  7. make 10 more polka dot pinwheel blocks - got the top done

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A cool, rainy, indoor kind of day

It's cool and kind of drizzling outside today.  Indoors I'm working on the binding on my BIG Saturday Sampler quilt called New Age, while watching President's Cup golf on TV.  And watching the wildlife wander through the yard.  We have a flock of wild turkeys that come through every day. They eat the seed that the little birds drop out of the 2 bird feeders hanging in the trees. You can just barely see the green feeder in the upper right.  Life is good!

Friday, September 29, 2017

I had an hour

And in an hour I made a pair of pillowcases, and pressed the bindings I made yesterday.  The burgundy roll of binding is about 450" long.  The brown one is only about 150".

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Midnight inspiration

Just before midnight last night I had a sudden idea. I was sitting in bed with my iPad, looking at "quilty" pictures online when it suddenly hit me - I can quilt this pinwheel quilt using a decorative stitch in the ditch. I've used this technique on a couple of wall hanging/table runner sized pieces, but it suddenly dawned on me that it could work very well for this design. 
So at midnight I was downstairs in my basement sewing room, looking at backing options. Keep in mind that the lighting in my sewing room is pathetic in the daytime and at night it's even worse.  I really need to do something about that soon!  Anyway, I found a possible backing that is a leftover from another project, and it seemed to be a good option even in the bad lighting. And I had a perfectly sized piece of leftover batting on the top of the stack of leftover batting in the closet.
This photo doesn't do any of the colors justice, but I hung the backing and the flimsy over my front porch railing this morning to see if the color worked in real daylight.  I like it. This backing is a "dusty" version of a couple of the greens in the pinwheels.  Now that I have a plan I'm quite excited to get to work on it.
And here lies my next problem . . .
My husband and I both work from home.  I now have the upstairs home office with the great windows.  He has a perfectly good office space in the basement with a big desk, expensive ergonomic chair for his bad back, good lighting, storage, double computer monitors, big screen TV, pool table, sofa, etc.  But periodically he comes back upstairs and works at the dining room table. With the hard wooden chair.  And, since I used that basement space for years as my office - before the extra comforts - I know EXACTLY why he is upstairs. It's because it's a dungeon with almost no natural light.  And it gets really chilly in spring and fall when the heating/cooling system hardly runs at all.
And my problem is that I usually use my dining room table to lay out a quilt for sandwiching and pin basting. Guess that's not happening this morning.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sewing room closet

My sewing room is actually just a large basement bedroom and it has a nice big closet.  I have several plastic storage drawer units in it for storing fabric.  But the hanging rod comes in very handy for hanging up flimsies waiting to be quilted and sets of blocks waiting to become something. There are now 6 quilt tops hanging there that need to be quilted.  Two of them have backs hanging with them.

This has always been one of my problems with the whole quilting process.  I just don't have the skills or the patience to hand or machine quilt anything very large. And I don't have the cash to hire all of my quilting done. So the tops tend to hang around, pun intended. At least all of these are either kid sized or lap sized. Maybe I can choose one per month to quilt, either hired or attempting one myself. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Design Wall Monday - Polka Dot Pinwheels

Design Wall Monday - and I finally have something accomplished. Check out what others are working on at:
I used a charm pack of Blueberry Park (Robert Kaufman) fabric, plus a background fabric to make these pinwheels.  The colors are very fresh and overall I like the result.  It's about 40" by 50", so a nice sized baby quilt.
However, this is not one of my better examples of technique.  In spite of constant measuring and squaring up, I have ripples.  My borders are not laying flat.  I measured every row in this quilt before cutting those borders and cut them 1/4" smaller.  And they still appear to have stretched.  I'm hoping the ripples will "quilt out". Or maybe once it's been washed (after quilting) it will be OK.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Plugging along

Slowly but surely . . .

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

One down, three to go

I have 3 more of these blocks left to finish with the cream/green borders. And then there are pieced outer borders that go around all 4 of the blocks.  This Kim Diehl project has been slow going for me. Not particularly difficult, but slow going. 
But since our class is this coming Saturday afternoon, I plan to have the top done by then. Plus it's one of my monthly goals.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lots of binding needed

This morning I picked up my New Age Saturday Sampler from The Pin Cushion, where Bonnie worked her magic on it.  This is a BIG - almost king sized - quilt, so I'm going to need about 430 inches of binding. 
I'm not sure I have that much of the original binding fabric left, so we'll see what I end up using. Maybe the binding on this one will be scrappy and use leftovers from several of the colors in this one.

Monday, September 18, 2017

No sewing happening around here.

I have not stepped foot in my sewing room for over a week and I'm going through withdrawal. I'm also at work now - and procrastinating getting some invoicing done.  Shame on me!
Between work last week, having our 5 year old granddaughter staying with us all week, and then heading back to my home state over the weekend for my 45th (gulp!) class reunion - there was no time for sewing.
But my sister-in-law stopped over last night and brought me some fun Row By Row license plates. She spent 3 weeks in Connecticut, and New York, and Boston on a recent visit to see her great granddaughter.  Wasn't that nice that she thought of me?  I just can't decide which is my favorite.
So they are now in the stack of quilty things waiting in the kitchen to be taken downstairs to my sewing space.  And hopefully that, and some sewing, will happen this afternoon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My sidekick . . .

My sidekick this week is 5 year old granddaughter Sophia.  She had her tonsils out last Thursday and the doctor says she can't go back to school until Friday. So she is staying with grandma and grandpa for now because mom and dad need to go to work.  Since I work from home it's no problem to have her here - especially since she is one of those kids who entertains herself for hours on end with Legos or coloring books or crafts.  And she has an iPad with PBS Kids animal shows that she listens to while she plays. Over, and over, and over again.  We've done FaceTime with mom, dad, and little brother Jack each evening and she doesn't seem homesick.  I'll take her home on Thursday around supper time once mommy gets home from work. I think she will be glad to go back to kindergarten and see her friends. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Grand Adventure begun

I know I have no business starting one more project until I finish something, but I just couldn't resist trying this out.  And it gave me a break from seemingly endless pinwheels.
Jennie Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company calls this quilt Grand Adventure. This was one of her recent online tutorials.  It's also known as Delectable Mountains, and I'm sure there are other names for these blocks as well.  There are even alternate setting options with the mountain peaks off set with each other, like below.
Her tutorial shows this block made using 10" layer cake squares and I just happened to have a Christmas layer cake.  A print 10" square is matched up with a background square and sewn on both sides of a diagonal line - creating 2 big half square triangles.  They are then cut into 4 even strips, making sure the diagonals run opposite directions.  Then the strips are rearranged to make the peaks.
Check out her tutorial here:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pinwheel progress

There are only 12 pinwheel blocks left to finish and then I can put them together into a quilt top.  I'm toying with placing a narrow sashing between these blocks, but haven't decided yet for sure.  It doesn't have to be very wide and I have enough of the background to do the sashing. 
Check out what other quilters are up to at Design Wall Monday:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday "piece and quiet"

That is a bad pun, I know.  But I did have plenty of uninterrupted sewing time today because my husband is playing in a golf tournament with both sons-in-law.  So, other than doing a little laundry, I had the day to myself to do what I want. 
I started out with a bit Halloween fun.  A friend in our Sew Vintage group gave everyone a 10" square of a vintage-looking Halloween fabric. Then I dug into the stash to find something to go with it.  I'm not sure yet whether this will end up a pillow cover or wall hanging. 
And with leftovers I made this mug rug. This is sandwiched and ready for a little quilting. In the meantime I can keep thinking about what I want the bigger project to become.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Little red convertible

Granddaughter Sophia had her tonsils out this morning.  She was a trooper according to mom and dad.  I'm very impressed by the process these days - including the patient driving herself into surgery in a little red convertible. How fun is that!  And she has her favorite quilt with her, which is the one I made for her just over 5 years ago when she was born.  Obviously there is a focus on keeping the kids relaxed and less frightened before surgery. That sure is different from when I had my tonsils out back in the dark ages - 1963.
I'll be babysitting tomorrow so mom and dad can go back to work. And since she can't go back to school until the end of next week, she may come stay with us for a few days next week, so mom and dad don't have to miss too much work.  I feel bad that she has to miss so much school right away, so hopefully her kindergarten teacher can give us some things to work on while she's out.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Polka Dots

I've managed to get one step further in making these pinwheel blocks from a charm pack and some white and black yardage.  There are now 23 pinwheel blocks complete and they are 6" unfinished.  And the rest of the blocks are in progress.  There will be 42 finished blocks, using a whole charm pack of Blueberry Park fabric. All are shades of blue and aqua, with bold white patterns.
My process for these is to sew all the way around the outside of the paired up charm square and background square.  Then I cut diagonally twice.
Next step is to press these new half square triangles, trim off the dog ears, and sew them together.  I always "spin" that center seam with this type of block to reduce the bulk.  This is a really quick way to make pinwheels and works with any size square of course. I'm not sure how I'll lay these out yet, but there are lots of options.  I think these will make a great kid's quilt, no matter how I end up putting them together.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

End of summer fun

We spent Saturday enjoying our grandchildren.  First was a morning at the zoo with 3 of the kids, and their parents.  Olivia kept telling her mom and dad that she wanted to ride the camel, from the time they got there. But mom and dad kept saying no.  As we approached the camel area, she told her mom and I:  "see - those kids are riding the camel, but the other one looks really lonely".  How could grandma resist buying tickets to ride the lonely camel after that logic. 
After the zoo we picked up Sophia and went to the Kirby Science Center at The Washington Pavilion.  Little brother Jack was sick, so that is why they didn't join us at the zoo in the morning.   

On Sunday we went to a family potluck to visit with some of my husband's cousins who were visiting from out of state. It was a typical Midwestern potluck with lots of great food and lots of people.
Monday involved golf with my husband, some laundry for me and some home improvement projects for him.  Can't say that my golf game has improved at all this summer. And halfway through the round I got stung by a wasp - in my hair, just behind my ear. OUCH!!!!
Now, it's time to get back to work and hopefully my sewing room too.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

September goals

Notice the wording on the wall hanging behind my project stack?  It says I'm buried under an "Avalanche" of fabric. Yup!!
On my cutting table are the pillowcase kits, ready to work on as I find time. But stacked on top of that little drawer unit are several UFO/WIP types of projects. I haven't wanted to put them away because then I know I won't get back to them for awhile.  But Friday afternoon I did get some of that organized.  It helped me identify some new priorities for September.
September goals . . .
  1. Simple Whatnots project - Abiding Faith
  2. bind the 2016 Saturday Sampler (at the quilter's now)
  3. make 5 more pillowcases from the kits
  4. quilt and bind the cycling wall hanging
  5. make a big floor pillow for grandson Jack
  6. finish blocks for APQ 2017 UFO Challenge (batik stars)
  7. make 10 more polka dot pinwheel blocks
The cycling wall hanging and some of the pillowcases are for Christmas gifts, so those need to be a priority.  The Saturday Sampler quilt from 2016 is going on my bed, so I definitely want to finish that up so we can enjoy it. Binding it will take some time however because it's huge.
My youngest grandson Jack needs his very own BIG floor pillow so he'll stop fighting over his sister's pillow.  I'm sure I have something in the stash that I can use for that.  Maybe even some orphan blocks that I can use.  We'll see.
And the UFO Challenge project for September is #7, which is my Batik Stars quilt. This was a Saturday Sampler from a few years ago that I just didn't finish at the time. There are a few blocks left to make and I already have the sashing fabric in the box with it. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Goals & stash

At the beginning of August I set some goals for the month. Looking back at those goals I must say I didn't get close to achieving them, but I did work on other projects not on my list. So it's OK.  It's about enjoying the process, right? 

I need to take a couple of days to think about goals for September because these were obviously a bit too ambitious. LOL!  What do I WANT to work on or finish? - that should be my focus.

August goals were . . .
  • finish my Saturday Sampler quilt top - DONE
  • bind my Canning Jars table runner - DONE
  • quilt and bind the Cocktails table runner - DONE
  • finish organizing my scraps - partially DONE
  • quilt and bind the cycling row by row wall hanging
  • make a signature block for my Sew Vintage group to sign - DONE (Furrow block from Farm Girl Vintage book)
  • work on my UFO Challenge #5 project - Temecula Circa 2016 quilt  (hope to finish the blocks)
Optional projects to choose from . . . for when I can't stick to the plan:
  1. "Kit Up" 2 new projects - cut and organize so they are ready to work on when I'm ready - Kitted up 17 pillowcase kits, but no other projects
  2. make a set of 24 string blocks - only made 2 string blocks
  3. make 3 more blocks for En Provence quilt
  4. make 10 more polka dot pinwheel blocks
I've been keeping track of fabric in and out all year, but haven't been posting about it much.  In spite of making a couple of big purchases in July and August, I'm still ahead of my stash by 17 yards. 

That will be 19 yards as soon as I finish these 2 Bambi pillowcases.  I have the top cuffs sewn on, using the "sausage roll" method so no raw seams are exposed.  Sometime this weekend I'll add the French seams across the bottom and sides to finish these.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

3 down and 14 to go

I bought a nice grey stripe yesterday for the cuff of the Winnie The Pooh pillowcase, to make a total of 17 kitted up.  After work yesterday afternoon I dug into the pile and started sewing. So Including the Pooh pillowcase, I've gotten 3 made. And I've pinned 2 more that are ready to sew.  These are always good for some random sewing when I just need to sew SOMETHING, but don't have time to focus on anything big.
I'm in love with that Pooh fabric - so cute!