Monday, July 31, 2017

Design Wall Monday

Sunday sewing saw me working on a variety of things.  I made 2 bindings, pieced a backing, started a new Kim Diehl project, and quilted half of a table runner.  These cute little X blocks are for County Line, one of the new Simple Whatnots projects by Kim Diehl. The blocks are 5.5" square and I have 2 of the 15 blocks made so far.  I have to work this morning but hope to get back into my sewing room this afternoon again. 
One of the things I do with most projects is cut what I need to make 1 test block, and if that works out then I do the rest of the cutting.  I stack the pieces on my ironing board, often on a portable design board so I can move it easily if needed without disturbing the layout.  And I stack them in the layout I need to keep them organized for sewing. This method has really cut down on the mistakes that I often made, such as in placement of a piece or turning something the wrong way. In this case my first step is sewing those 1.5" neutral squares onto opposite 2 corners of the 4 matching dark squares. They make the arms of the X. 
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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday sewing

I passed on golf this morning even though it's a perfect day for it, but my seasonal allergies are getting wound up. So I chose to stay inside with the air conditioning and fewer allergens - and my sewing machine of course.

I finished the trick or treat bag for grandson Jack and I finished the flimsy of the cycling wall hanging for daughter #1.  The black that I added to the top and bottom of the colored row had lots of "movement" to it, with flecks and changes of tone.  It looks a bit like asphalt.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A lost art

Hand embroidery is quickly becoming a lost art. And I've done nothing to preserve that art - yet.  I learned to embroider at the knees of my maternal grandmother. She had me practice on dishtowels and pillowcases. I have wonderful memories of spending time with her doing things like knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and tatting.  OK - I must admit the tatting was a total failure because I never figured it out.

So why didn't I teach my girls how to do any of these things? I don't know but I'm guessing their lack of interest, busy activity-filled lives, and my lack of patience probably had a lot to do with that. Thankfully one of my cousins (who also spent lots of time with Grandma Johnson) taught my daughter Laura how to knit the summer after college when my daughter lived with them for a couple of months during an internship.

I'm doing a simple block with embroidery and as I gathered things this morning a few memories of Grandma began to flit through my brain. So I've been thinking that I need to spend a little time with my granddaughters as they grow to teach them to sew and to embroider. Auntie Laura can teach them to knit.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Design Wall Monday

This is the Row By Row project that I posted about yesterday.  It's 36" wide, with 3 pinwheels on the left and just 1 on the right.  My plan today is to go buy a solid black to match the bicycle applique, and add a wide strip to both the top and the bottom. Right now it's only about 10" in depth and I want this to be a wall hanging. So I think the black will help make it look less "long and skinny".  Wish I had more of the colors to add a little something, but I don't.
This row is from the cute shop in Adel, Iowa which is just on the west side of Des Moines.
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Sewing

I love it when points match up!  This morning I worked on the Row By Row from Adel, Iowa, which has a cool bicycle applique.  The row is done but I plan to put a wide solid black strip across the top and bottom to make this closer to square. It will make a good wall hanging for someone I know who is into long distance cycling.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Reindeer 60 degree runner

I'm on a roll and another UFO is done.  This 60 degree runner top has been waiting to be quilted since November 2015. That's the good - or bad - thing about blogging. It's my journal and I can always go back and see when I worked on something.
I sandwiched this runner and began to hand quilt it, but then I got distracted and it's just been folded up and waiting, with the needle still in place. Yesterday I sat down and pulled the hand stitching out while visiting with my sister-in-law who had stopped in.  After supper I went into my sewing room and machine quilted this in a very simple manner, and then dug into the stash for a dark red for binding.  I woke up really early this morning so I sewed on that binding and now even the binding is hand stitched down.  This was #9 on my 2017 UFO Challenge list and now I can check it off as done.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Candy Dish is complete

Candy Dish is completely done and another UFO can be checked off the list.  I used a black thread and a decorative stitch on my machine to do some simple outline quilting around all of the solid black pieces.  Nothing fancy, but I like the impact. 

This isn't exactly a summer themed table topper, so it will probably go into the drawer until winter. Or it may go into my "gifting" stash after I've enjoyed it awhile. But for right now it looks pretty good on my little kitchen table.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unique projects

If you have the opportunity to stop in West Branch, Iowa - make the time to do so.  You can visit the very interesting Herbert Hoover Historical Site, and you can visit the Cotton Creek Mill quilt shop on Main St.  This quilt shop has one of the most unique Row By Row projects that I've seen so far.

One of the ladies there actually hand drew the Cotton Country Express picture and then it was printed onto fabric. This year's picture is actually 3rd in the series and the designs use the same color palette and layout, and they had all 3 hanging together in the shop.  If you look closely you'll see that the blocks on each end of the row appear in the picture too.  See that "barn quilt" on the side of the depot?
The block itself is a classic one and looks wonderful in the navy, red, and yellow.  Those colors are also very prominent in the picture.   
My row is all done and ready to quilt.  It think it will look nice on the wall of my sewing room above my cutting table.  I'm thinking about adding another border - maybe red or blue - and trimming that white one to be narrow.  We'll see. Sometimes you just have to live with a project for awhile to figure out just how to finish it.   

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Random sewing

If you want some quick and easy, mindless sewing - make a 60 degree table runner.  I'm addicted to these and can't resist a cute border fabric when I see it.  This summer cocktail fabric found me on my recent road trip.  It waved and called my name, until I pulled that fabric bolt from the shelf.  I think this one will be cute out on the deck table.
You can make these as long or short as you like.  And you can make them as wide as you want, as long as the cuts you make are 60 degrees.  Right now I have 2 of these runners made and they need quilting.  And there is plenty of the fabric left so I may make more kitchen towels with this added as trim.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Design Wall Monday - Candy Dish

This little 18" square UFO is a kit I bought 4 years ago on a guild bus trip to Minnesota shops.  It's done in just 3 fabrics with a black and cream colorway rather than the scrappy look on the pattern photo.  Candy Dish was the name on the pattern and I have to say that the instructions were a bit frustrating to follow.  The pattern was all single spaced and too "wordy".  The shop had also included a "copy" of the original instructions with things crossed out and hand written notes added to address this layout. I understand wanting to make it all fit on 1 sheet of paper, but it was too cluttered to make sense.  And they had crossed out pieces that I did end up cutting and using. 
But it's done and sandwiched, ready to quilt. I'm going to do it myself with black thread.  We'll see how that goes.  I really like the way it looks.
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Road trip rewards

My bribe for spending 5 days (and 1400 miles) in the car with my husband on a business road trip was the promise to stop in some quilt shops and to play some golf.  We went across northern Iowa and all the way to Madison, Wisconsin on Monday with 1 client stop in north central Iowa.  We spent 12 hours on the road that day!  A nearly full day in Madison was followed by driving all the way to Iowa City just in time to be in a tornado warning. 
Before leaving I explored the Row By Row Experience website to see what shops we would be close to and chose a few that looked interesting. I love the fact that they organize them by state and give you a map, plus a printable list of addresses with pictures of their rows and license plates.  
I think my favorite license plate from the 5 shops I visited is Wine & Bind from Cotton Creek Mill in West Branch, Iowa.  Their row might be my favorite too - something I'll share another day.  And the Herbert Hoover Historical Site is a block away, so we spent a whole morning in that lovely little town.
Our first stop on this road trip was the Old Alley quilt shop in Sherburn, MN - right along I-90.  It's a shop I love to stop in whenever I travel that way.  It's in an old bowling alley and they have lots of wonderful samples displayed.  From there we zig zagged south into Iowa for a client visit.
The Quiltmaker's Shoppe in Manchester, Iowa (just west of Dubuque) was a fun stop late Tuesday afternoon.  The Main Street in that little town was full of beautiful old architecture.  Wednesday was our day to do whatever so we played some golf and went to the Amana Colonies.  Heritage Designs at the Amana Colonies used German on their license plate, which translates as Going & Sewing. 
Thursday morning was the West Branch morning, plus my husband spent 3 hours on a conference call while we traveled and I stopped in 2 shops (West Branch and Adel). The tiny little shop in Adel, Iowa was well worth the stop. It's in a small Victorian house on a side street just off Main. She had a lovely pattern named after the very unique local courthouse, and of course I had to buy it.  Then we had to go see that courthouse which was built to resemble a French castle.

When I visit quilt shops away from home I try to buy things that I haven't seen locally.  This bag of darling clothes pins from Moda was an item that I hadn't seen before.  It contains about a dozen and they will be perfect for clipping together sets of block pieces.  I picked up 1 set for myself, and 2 more sets as prizes for our guild bus trip.

I bought a little yardage on sale, 3 fat quarters, the courthouse pattern, a "quilt-y" magnet, a laser cut applique, and actually bought 4 of the 5 Row By Row kits that I saw.  The Old Alley shop also had a pattern for a small wall hanging using their license plate. I couldn't resist.

Now the worst part of coming home after a trip - unpacking, putting things away, and doing laundry.  I started with the stinky golf clothes in the laundry bag.  Both times we played were miserable hot and humid days.  And since this whole weekend is supposed to be around 100 degrees I may not leave the house other than to buy some groceries - while my crazy husband plays in a 2-day golf tournament. My sewing room beckons.   

Thursday, July 13, 2017

President Hoover Historical Site

I'm on a LONG road trip with my husband this week. He had a couple of meetings for work - one in Iowa and one in Wisconsin.  We've now crossed Iowa completely twice, and are spending the night in Omaha before heading north to South Dakota and home.

This morning we visited West Branch, Iowa. I stopped in a very cute quilt shop and then we both enjoyed the Herbert Hoover historical site.  You can park and take a walking tour of his birthplace (house is pictured here), his father's blacksmith shop, the Quaker Meetinghouse - and the presidential library and museum.  Well worth the time spent here. 

We've also visited the Amanda Colonies on this trip, played one round of golf in steamy hot conditions, been in the middle of a tornado warning, eaten in a couple of really good restaurants, and I've been in 5 different quilt shops along the way.  He was humorist me since I rode along this week. It's been a pretty good week but I'll be glad to be home and sleep in my own bed tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Halloween bag

Our youngest grandson Jack needs a bag for trick or treating.  I've made them for the other kids and his mom asked me to make one for him too.  I think this is the fabric that will end up being used.
I had plenty of this gold left over from another project so I've cut enough for the handles and the lining. It plays nicely with the black cats and the spider webs. The pieces are cut, but I didn't have enough interfacing so this will be set aside until I can buy some. Without the interfacing, this bag pattern is too soft and flimsy.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Saturday Sampler mystery quilt

I'm all caught up with the sections for the current mystery quilt we're doing for Saturday Sampler.  We've been making small units such as half square triangles, and the rectangular diamonds. This month we sewed those into 2 different sections.
Of course I had to start playing with the layout possibilities.  This is the option that seemed to work out the best so far.  But I have no idea whether or not this is even close the real outcome.  Guess we'll find out in August - can't wait. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Prairie Sky

Prairie Sky is a new small quilt from Kim Diehl's Simple Whatnots #6 collection.  It's approximately 10.5" x 12.5".  Right now it's bound and finished, except I'm trying to decide if I want to do a little hand quilting on it for more texture.
I missed the class in June and had to just pick up my kit.  The class is great because Gwen gives us tips to make things easier.  Kim Diehl's patterns are generally pretty easy as long as you keep your patience with the small pieces.  In this case, the foundation was 2.5" squares and rectangles.  Easy peasy! Then I realized that all of the tiny light colored pieces were applique. What!!!  I don't mind applique, but these pieces were in that 1" category. 

And I have to admit that it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be.  I realized that I could just do these in rows, going up one side and back down the other.  And I think it's adorable now that it's done.  Looking ahead at the rest of Collection #6 I'm thinking this isn't the last applique we'll be doing.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sewing help

Yesterday afternoon Sammy came to help me out. My geriatric cat doesn't venture down to my sewing room as often as he used to.  He is a big boy - just over 20 pounds - and will be 16 years old around Labor Day.  My sewing room is in the basement and he is pretty slow on the stairs, especially going back up.  He needs help getting up on my ironing board these days too, but once he's there he settles right down to some serious napping and supervising. And that big, long body takes up pretty much the whole space.
For a lot of years he would follow me into the sewing room and sit in the middle of where ever I was working. If I was trying to cut fabric then he would sit or stretch out on my cutting board. If I was sewing, then he would lay on top of the quilt, or sit so he could look through the throat area of my machine. And if I was pressing something then he would stretch out on the ironing board with his tail swishing close to the hot iron. 
Now when Sammy does show up in my sewing room he'll talk and talk until I lift him up there. Then he settles right in.  When he finally gets bored - or annoyed because I move his tail to press something - he'll walk across to my sewing table which is lower, and jump down.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Quilt of Valor #1

The first of three quilt tops is done.  Ladies from our guild had this one put together in two halves on Saturday. This morning I sewed the halves together. And there was enough of the navy blue sashing so I added one final outer border all the way around.
This one is ready for a backing and quilting.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Working on Quilts of Valor

Our guild had a short work session before our meeting to work on the tops for our Quilts of Valor.  We got a LOT accomplished in about 2.5 hours. 

The panel was donated by one member (Ellen) and the 12" blocks and navy yardage were donated by another member, Mary.  These are going together for one quilt.  Just a couple more seams and this one will be a finished top. I took this photo before the navy sashing was added.

We put 70 Garlic Knot blocks together for another top, and have 30 more stitched into rows for a third quilt top.  Sylvia, Peggy, Ellen, and Gwen all sewed up a storm while Ruby and I pressed, cut sashing, and rearranged blocks.  And we do have more blocks to finish that third quilt but ran out of sewing time.  We were hoping for 2 Quilts of Valor, so 3 is really a lovely surprise development.

And during the meeting another member (Nancy) donated a large gorgeous piece of blue yardage for a backing.  We have some terrific people in our guild.