Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Precious friendships

Friends are very precious!  

 Shortly after I retired - kind of - from education last summer a small group of friends secretly began to plan a quilt for me. Even the 2 ladies who've moved far away got involved!  Yesterday I had a late lunch with 3 of them and they gifted me with the finished wall hanging that they designed and made.
Isn't this cute? Evidently one of them saw something similar that I had pinned on Pinterest and then designed this especially for me.  It's wonderful and so special. I just wish we could have ALL been together yesterday!  Thank you to Kelly, Tina, Pam, Marilyn, and Sylvia!!
Friendships are precious commodities! We were all friends due to our careers and our common interest in quilting.  Tina retired as a principal and moved closer to her children and grandchildren.  Last summer Kelly moved closer to her adult children.  Sylvia is getting ready to move out of state this summer.  Our group keeps shrinking as the miles between us keep growing, but hopefully our friendship will stay alive and well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A break from boredom

I'm so easily bored when it comes to my sewing and so it's a constant struggle to stay focused on one project long enough to finish it.  I love sampler quilts because I don't have to make the same block over and over and over again.  That's one of the reasons I have so many UFOs hanging around.  This weekend I got tired of working on tiny red and white flying geese, and remembered that I had cut the pieces for a couple of patriotic garlic knot blocks. These are the blocks my guild is using to make a couple of Quilts of Valor this year.
So, I quickly stitched these 2 blocks up and then played with laying out the guild blocks that I have collected so far.  We have nearly enough for 2 quilts, so maybe I'll make a couple more blocks before next weekend's meeting.  And then I need to get back to those flying geese - 2 borders done and 2 to go. Focus, focus, focus!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Slow progress

The top border is now attached to my Farm Girl Vintage and the bottom border is nearly ready to attach.  These flying geese blocks are only 1.5" x 2.5", so they are a bit fussy to work on. The side borders are longer so they will need even more geese. SIGH!  I get bored making LOTS of the same block over and over and over again.
And I spent almost an hour this morning doing a thorough cleaning of the bobbin area of my machine, inserting a new needle, and running several new bobbins.  I know I cleaned out that bobbin area this winter but it was sure a mess of lint again.  And I was definitely overdue for a new needle.
So hopefully now I'm ready for some non-stop sewing - after my weekend company has gone home.  That company being a couple of my grandchildren, and there is no sewing done with a 2 year old in the house.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Adding borders to Farm Girl Vintage

Forgive the quality of this photo. With 30 mph winds blowing today, this was the only spot outside where I could lay the quilt out so it wouldn't blow away. 
The rows are all done and the first outer border has been added.  Unfortunately I didn't read the directions carefully enough. That white border was supposed to be cut 2" wide and I only cut it 1.5" wide.  Since the next border is pieced I'm afraid I'll have to do some math to make it come out correctly.  But it won't be the first time I've had to "fudge" a bit, and won't be the last time either.
Yesterday I stopped into my local quilt shop and found a 30s print that will become the final wide outer border.  I knew I wanted my pieced border to be red and white - to compliment that big red barn in the middle - so I picked a pretty blue that also had some red and white in it. The pieced border is made of tiny (1.5 x 2.5") flying geese, so it will take me awhile to get to the final border stage.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May UFO is done

I did some switching again on my UFO Challenge list, replacing a project I knew I couldn't finish with one that had a chance of getting finished.  And here is the finished UFO. This one was a lost and found item that is at least 12 years old because I made it in our previous house.
Bonnie (The Pin Cushion) quilted it with a cute cherry cluster design to match the outer border. I got the binding sewn on this weekend. And after some experimenting, I've decided to leave off the big yo-yos that were originally in the white squares.  It just felt too busy with those on there.

Finishing this UFO means I've completed at least 1 each month so far.  Too bad there are still so many more to go!

Monday, May 22, 2017

5 good reasons for not sewing

No sewing happened (except a little binding in the car) in the last few days. We left home early Thursday afternoon for Dave to attend a short work meeting and then we headed to granddaughter Sophia's pre-school graduation.  After the graduation ceremony we all went out for ice cream to celebrate and then checked into a motel for the night.  Friday morning we left for Omaha for the weekend.
My niece's husband retired from the army on Friday, and they had a reception for him at their home. It was so fun to visit with family we don't see often enough. 
On Saturday our kids and grandkids joined us at the zoo - where lots of fun was had in spite of the rain.  One would think that 6 adults could keep track of 5 kids, but it was a challenge with all of us counting heads continuously. We kept to the indoor exhibits in the morning and when the rain let up about noon we worked our way through most of the outdoor areas. Jonah's favorite thing was the rattlesnake, Olivia loved the train ride, and we could hardly get Mason out of the aquarium, especially the penguins. 
Sunday morning I had coffee with an old friend that I hadn't seen since our freshman year in college. That was 45 years ago! We met as exchange students in Hamburg Germany in 1971.
All said, it was a fun weekend but I was ready to get home and sleep in my own bed again too.

Friday, May 19, 2017

It's a start

The messy sewing room has been breached!  At least one spot has been.  I have a huge antique dresser with the 2 little drawers on top and in our previous house it lived in our guest bedroom with 2 antique crystal lamps sitting on the little drawer sections. 
In this house the dresser has always lived in my basement sewing room but I had never unpacked those lamps. After 11 years it was time, right?  Interesting find in the box with the lamps - 2 old wooden clocks, one made by my father in a shop class in high school in the 1930s.  More about the clocks another time.
This the BEFORE view of the top of the dresser. It had become a landing zone for junk things I was too lazy to put away or to use.  I had almost covered up my thread basket. Yikes!!
I also hung up a wall hanging quilt that I made about 20 years ago. It hung in our living room in the other house but has been folded up in a drawer since moving here. The patriotic fabrics were some of my favorites, but the navy blue had faded after several years of hanging. I decided I don't care that it's faded because I really love it.  Notice the prairie points?  Guess I loved them back then too.

The thread basket was sitting alone on the top of the dresser once I got it cleaned off, but I have put back my small Ott light and another small project basket.  Let's hope I can stop myself from piling stuff up around this again.

And you can't see it but the lid is back on the grey tub of stuff, with the scrap bins on top.  So some of the mess has been sorted, used or disposed of, and contained for now.  Better yet - there is 1 less box of "stuff" in my storage area.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Looking for my mojo

This should be my new mantra. Just sayin . . .
I stole this picture from 24 Blocks on Facebook and need to print it to hang everywhere in my house where I'll see it.  I have few excuses for feeling low, but I am struggling with my creative happy side right now.  My mojo will return - maybe with some sunshine after so many rainy days.
I started to clean out that "big grey bin" over a week ago. But I got distracted interrupted, and then I spent a few days away from home - and now it's just increasing the mess in my creative space.  I did rescue one long-forgotten quilt top from the bin and it's now quilted.  My plan today is to make and sew on the binding so I'll have some hand stitching to do on a little road trip we're going to take for an upcoming retirement party. 
And my other plan for today is to repack the remaining contents, put the top back on the bin, and leave the rest for another day.  It is just contributing to the chaos in the room and that makes it less enjoyable to be in there.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Farm Girl Vintage update

I spent only about an hour sewing on this darky and rainy day.  My basement sewing room was so dreary!  And chilly!  It just doesn't get enough natural light and I'm tired of trying to make floor lamps and Ott lights create enough good light. Sigh!!!
But one more row was added to the bottom of my Farm Girl Vintage quilt. I have 3 more rows of blocks to put together, along with the sashing and cornerstones between rows and at the top and bottom.  The blocks themselves are finished and the rows laid out.  Once those are done the plan is to add another 1.5" white border around the whole outside.  These are my small blocks - finishing at 6", and the finished quilt will be a generous lap size.
Then I'll decide if I'm going to do the prairie points when I add the wide outer border.  Of course I still haven't picked out a border fabric or even know what color I want to look for. I'm going to need to lay this out and stare at it for awhile before deciding on those last colors.  Design as I go . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Saturday Sampler is a mystery

The new Saturday Sampler that began last month is a mystery quilt. I did all of the cutting last month but since it was all squares and rectangles, the design was definitely still a mystery.  This month we are using the rectangles and some of the squares to make these diamond units. It's still a mystery to me!
So far I've only made 5 of each, so I have quite a few left to make: 15 more of unit 1, 15 of unit 2, and 11 of unit 3.  But at least I did a little sewing today. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

AWOL from quilting

I've been AWOL (absent with out leave) and am having a hard time getting back into the swing of things around here.  I spent 4 days in Virginia visiting a cousin and his family. It was delightful even with 2 rainy days there. The rain didn't stop us from stopping at the Blenheim winery for a tasting or keep us from doing the tour of President James Monroe's Highland property.  We celebrated my cousin's birthday at Mission BBQ one evening, and enjoyed Duck Donuts for breakfast the morning I headed to the airport to come home.

My cousin's wife even took me to the only quilt shop in Charlottesville- Cottonwood Quilts. It was a charming shop with very helpful ladies.  They had an impressive collection of Civil War reproductions.  I'm proud to say that I was pretty conservative with my purchases.  I did buy 3 patterns that I just haven't seen anywhere else. It's always fun to see how unique each shop features their samples and workshops. 

And finally - the airport in Charlottesville is small and friendly, and makes it easy to wait for your flight by providing a row of rocking chairs in the waiting area.  Very comfortable!  

So now I'm home - but haven't spent any time at all in my sewing room yet.  Need to get my mojo back!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Family fun

My oldest grandson Mason graduated pre-school on Saturday morning. It just doesn't seem possible that he will be headed to kindergarten in the fall. My oldest granddaughter Sophia is also headed to kindergarten in the fall and will have a preschool graduation later in May. Both of them in Sioux Falls, but they will be in different elementary schools on opposite sides of the city.
It was a short trip and we didn't get to spend much time with the family after this little event. But it was nice to be around them, even for just an hour. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Another interesting find & more pillowcases

This book was in the big grey tub and I remember falling in love with the 3D flowers on the cover. There are quite a few other interesting ideas in the book but the cover still is something I want to make. So this book is now on my "current" book shelf.  And the funny thing is that tucked in the pages were 4 batik squares I had obviously cut just for those flowers.
I finished 4 more pillowcases on Thursday evening.  The yellow "get well" ones are from the newly discovered stash in the grey tub. The "alley cat" ones were from fabric recently purchased by my cousin and they will be gifted to her sister-in-law. I love these with the fun cat batik on top and the grey brick pattern on the bottom. Thus my name for them of "alley cats".
We're off this morning to our oldest grandson's pre-school graduation. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pillowcases from stash

Added to the finished pillowcase pile - 1 Spider-Man pillowcase from the stash in the tub and 1 City Dog pillowcase left over from a recent purchase.  The Spider-Man one may have to be set aside for grandson Mason's June birthday. 
Another find in the big grey tub - more fabric that will make pillowcases.  This cute yellow print was something I originally bought to make some scrub tops for my daughter.  Notice the 1997 date on that selvage in the last photo below. If memory serves me correctly, I bought 3 yards of this fabric on a sale table someplace.  It should be well aged by now.
There are 2 pillowcase "kits" now cut from this, pinned, and ready to sew.  That still leaves a little more than 1 yard remaining for 1 more.  


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Beginning the exploration

I feel like I've opened up Pandora's Box, but it's just a big grey tub full of odds and ends of sewing "stuff" in my sewing room.  Late Tuesday evening I got up the courage to move the scrap bins which I'll deal with later, and lifted the lid on that tub.  It was full and I must admit it's a bit overwhelming.  This finished quilt top was one of the first things I pulled out, and I know I made this in our previous house, so it's at least 12 years old.  I remember making this but had no idea it was never quilted. 

It's a simple 9-patch, but with large yo-yos pinned into the white squares.  I unpinned the yo-yos, and pressed the top.  And on Wednesday I went to The Pin Cushion . . . backing is now purchased and I've left it for quilting.  There was even enough of the yellow border print in the bag to use for binding. I'm not sure if those yo-yos will end up back on it or not.  We'll see.  They might be cute anchored with a big white button sewn into the middle of each. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Optimism vs realism

Thinking of all of the things I could be working on . . . and trying to be realistic at the same time.  I think my goals for the month of May are a mixture of realism and optimism. 


One of the things in my sewing room right now that is driving me crazy is this big grey plastic tub - which is full of "stuff".  I have no idea what all might still be in there. The good news is that there used to be 2 of these and I did clean out 1 of them and consolidated everything left into just the one. The bad news is that I have no idea what's in it and my scrap bins sit on top of it and they are overflowing. The whole thing needs to be cleaned out and organized. Scraps need to be tamed, and that tub needs to be explored and organized. 

So here are my goals for May . . .
  • Clean out and organize 1 grey tub (includes the scrap bins)
  • Saturday Sampler monthly task
  • UFO Challenge - finish quilting 4 Season Cats wall hanging
  • 4 new donation pillowcases
  • 2 pillowcases (from my cousin's fabric)
  • finish top for small Farm Girl Vintage blocks

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

APQ UFO Challenge

American Patchwork & Quilting has chosen #2 for the May UFO number.  This is an old, old UFO.  I worked on the hand applique for the 4 Season Cats wall hanging in 2000 on a road trip from South Dakota, to Atlanta, to North Carolina, up through Chicago, then Green Bay, and back to South Dakota. My youngest child had just finished her sophomore year in high school. She is now 33.
The hand applique was done years ago and now I'm hand quilting it. The quilting is just a simple diagonal grid plus outlining the cats, and it's nearly half done already.  I bought this as a kit, along with the book, but I have no idea where.  This was a lost item for several years and when I found it again the binding and pattern book were with it. Now I can't find that pattern book - and I'm assuming the binding is still folded up in it. So I can't even tell you who designed this. Maybe if I finally finish the quilting this month it will prod me into cleaning up the sewing room more deeply to find that binding and the book.
As you can see I did finish 4 UFOs - one for each month so far. However, I've cheated a little because I switched up 2 of those projects. As long as I finish at least 1 UFO each month I'm not going to punish myself for switching some of them.
UFO/WIP Project
Status Before
Status After
Valentine Bench Pillow
Needs blanket stitching around applique, then sandwich, quilt, and add envelope backing
4 Seasons Cats
Finish hand quilting, bind
ABC kid quilt
Machine quilt, bind
House Warming Party
Finish blocks
Circa 2016
Finish making blocks
Easter Sunrise runners (2)
Applique, quilt, bind
DONE in January!
Batik Stars Saturday Sampler
Finish blocks
2016 2015 Saturday Sampler
Finish blocks, need to cut out setting pieces Quilt and bind
DONE in February!
Reindeer 60-degree runner
Quilt and bind
2015 Friendship Exchange
Blocks are made, need to determine a layout
Beach cross-stitch piece
Harvest Bounty 60-degree runner
About half stitched only
Re-do quilting
DONE in April!
RSC16 Crown of Thorns
12+ blocks finished, need to determine layout
DONE in March!