Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Binding another UFO

I'm working on the binding for my Friendship Exchange quilt, which is another UFO. 

This quilt has been a long-term project begun as a friendship exchange among 12 ladies in 2015. We each made 13 blocks using a brown floral fabric.  After exchanging them, each friend would end up with a full set of 12 blocks, plus we had an extra set to use for a donation project.  After marinating for 2 years, a donation quilt was completed in June 2017 from the extra set of blocks we made, and the quilt was donated to a local fund raiser.  However, I still had my own set of blocks to work with and chose to make my own quilt nearly identical to the donation version because I liked the layout.

The color in this picture isn't very true, as the blue here is really a teal and much more greenish. Once it's bound, I'll share a photo of the finished quilt. And I need to make a label to include the name of each lady involved in the exchange so I won't forget any friends.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Scraps coming out of my ears!

I dug through the scrap bins again on Sunday afternoon looking for pieces that would work for these cracker blocks. Oh my goodness, do I have scraps!!  Lots and lots of strings, so I think I need to make another Heartstrings quilt in the near future. But also plenty of chunks that will work for these cracker blocks. I need 2 charm squares of the color for each block. Although - I cheated on that bottom black block. It was such a cute print with spools of thread, so I pieced one of the sides.  No one will notice it in a whole quilt, and I ended up with nothing wasted.

The parts for 20 new blocks are all cut and waiting for me, with 6 of those made.  I can't believe how fast these blocks are to make! A perfect thing when I only have 15-20 minutes to play.

My simple instructions for these blocks can be found on THIS POST.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

En Provence pieces

Quilt #1 using the parts and pieces from En Provence is now a completed top. This is 48" square so it will make a good kid-sized quilt. Everything here came from En Provence, including the purple border which was leftover yardage from purple units.  There are plenty of parts left to make at least 2 more quilts, maybe baby quilts. But for now they are back in the project box, waiting for inspiration.
Time to find another UFO to work on while I'm still feeling ambitious.

Check out Design Wall Monday at:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday morning fun

I spent the morning playing. And discovered the center of those original blocks looks just fine by themselves once I removed the dark purple. Interesting. 

And the pink and purple blocks are coming along fine. I feel so much better about this. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

A remix

I've had LOTS of time to think about quilt projects over the last week while laying around and coughing in between naps.  I've even dreamed about this stubborn UFO this week. There was plenty of time to think about ways to be more inspired to finish En Provence, the Bonnie Hunter mystery from last year.  But I just can't get excited about it after putting the first couple of blocks together with the pieced sashing.  I tried changing up the layout a little, and I even tried replacing that awful yellow with something else.  Nope - just can't make myself like this. Sorry Bonnie.
But I really, really like most of the units that we made for this quilt, so what could I do with them?  My first inclination was to bag it all up and give it away to someone who might finish it. And that was my plan when I ventured downstairs to my sewing room this morning.  Notice the gallon size bags on my cutting table?

The more I looked at those units, the more I thought about what else could I make with them, so I began to play.  I've come up with 2 blocks using the pinks and the purples. And I have lots of the spring green left, so maybe I can cut sashing strips from that.

We'll see where this really ends up as I continue to make blocks.  I have enough of the pink sections to make at least 17 blocks, 5 of which are done.  I haven't counted out the purple pieces yet, but probably have a similar amount. So these could become a whole new quilt, or maybe 2 kid sized quilts.  We'll see.  But I feel much better about where these are going now.  So one UFO is going to be remixed, and become 1 or 2 new projects.  Still will count as finishing a UFO though, right? 

Plus it appears that I'll still have dozens of the neutral 4-patch units left, so those may become seed for a third quilt. And of course those dreaded green/purple and green/yellow hourglass units that I don't like are left too.  Maybe those can go together with the neutrals. And the bags are still in my sewing room, so maybe the leftovers WILL go into a bag and be given away. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Under the weather

It hasn't been a fun week at our house. I laid around all weekend, nursing a cold. Monday I felt pretty good and thought I had this cold under control.

But Tuesday morning I woke up feeling so much worse. In the past 2 days I've gotten lots of sleep, coughed until my ribs hurt, and used 2 boxes of tissues on my poor red nose. And my husband was starting to get the same symptoms.  Today - I woke up feeling pretty good - and now my husband is definitely sick. He got up, ate breakfast, fed the cat, and went back to bed. He's sound asleep again.

I'm pretty sure in my case that it's just a cold because I've not had any fever, or aches, or chills. So no influenza, we think anyway. But whatever the bug, it has kicked our butts.

Daughter #1 drove the 70 miles here yesterday to pick up the Wizard of Oz theater tickets we couldn't use last night and delivered her home made elderberry syrup. Thanks Jer!!  So my girls enjoyed a night out together at the theater, and my husband's business partner got our Jackrabbit basketball tickets for tonight.  What WAS going to be a fun week of activities is turning into a big nap. But I have to get dressed and go to the grocery store because our supplies of Kleenex and cough medicine are almost gone. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Design Wall Monday: Redo is always an option

I find it so interesting that looking at a photo of a block or a quilt allows me to see things I couldn't when looking at the real thing.  I knew those 2 orange blocks had too much orange, and too little contrast.  But I had played with some other layouts that didn't seem to work either.  But I didn't like the one block, so Sunday (while watching Jaguar/Patriots football) I took the block apart and changed it up a lot.  Because I didn't have much for leftovers I had to reuse the little wings on the orange flying geese, but I used the corner orange pieces to make a new center for the geese. Much better contrast.  And then I added new black corners to the white pieces. And I flipped them around so the black points out.  I like this version MUCH better than the first version below.

Now the blocks don't look so much alike. And even though there is more black in the new one, it seems to emphasize the white more.  The successful redo was well worth the effort, and really didn't take very long.
Check out other design walls at:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Adding a splash of orange

OK, I really like both of these blocks. I like the design and I like the colors I used. But, they don't conform well to the light/dark versions of my previous blocks. After playing with the fabric layout a number of ways I finally decided to just go with this and not worry about having a light block and a dark block.  This will be such a busy quilt that it probably won't matter in the long run.

I have considered taking this block apart, and flipping those corners so the orange points outward.  That would at least make them not quite so identical. We'll see how ambitious I am.
Here are all 8 of the blocks so far. And the orange definitely stands out.

Friday, January 19, 2018

UFO finish

Isn't it a moment of enjoyment when you put that last stitch into the binding of a quilt? Then I can spread it out on the floor and admire it.  Does a finish give me permission to start something new?
I fell in love with the peach and blue floral fabric the first time I saw it in my local quilt shop, and knew that it would be perfect to build my Saturday Sampler mystery quilt around it.  It was fun to take my little piece of floral and search shops for blending fabrics.  This pattern is Kwik 8 Point Star, and then I added the extra borders.

The navy blue on the back really shows off the elegant quilting.  It's going on my sofa as a splash of color for the rest of the winter. 
And I can check off the 3rd UFO for January. Granted, the first 2 items were pretty small (a bag and a wall hanging), but they were UFOs and they are done.  So now I'm looking at other UFOs on the list. The Friendship Exchange quilt for number 11 has now been quilted and the binding is ready to go, so my plan is to work on that next. I have no idea what month #11 will be drawn but it won't matter that I finish things early since the whole idea is just to finish things. And I'll keep plugging away on the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt blocks too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just one block

My regular readers know that I'm working on 2 Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts right now: last year's En Provence and this year's On Ringo Lake.  And on Sunday I did manage to get 1 Ringo Lake block put together. I don't have all of the units made yet, but I worked ahead enough to do just 1 block to admire.
For now I can hang this on the design wall to keep me motivated while I keep plugging along. I'm also still plugging along on a 3rd block for En Provence. Slow progress, but still forward progress.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Goals for the week

The most important goal for this week is to hand stitch the binding on this quilt.  Isn't the quilting on this pretty?  Bonnie did a great job on this one. The thread is actually an ice blue to match the background in the main part of the quilt. And it's just as pretty on the back, which is navy blue.
I also plan to pull fabrics for the 2 new Saturday Sampler blocks, make 1 more block for En Provence, and make another 20 flying geese units for On Ringo Lake.  We'll see how it goes. I have another quilt to bind too because I actually picked up 2 from the quilter on Friday, but this one is first.
And speaking of binding, how to you handle your binding?  Depending on how long it is, I've started hanging it on the second spool spindle on my machine.  The spindle pops up when needed and seems to work pretty well - allowing the binding to unwind slowly as I sew.  It does twist, so occasionally I just take the roll off and turn it over to remove the twist.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Strawberry ice cream and deep dish pies

Do you associate certain foods with your grandmother?  While sewing on a binding this morning I was watching Giada DiLaurentiis on the Food Network. Her show was about how potluck dinners were coming back in popularity - which made me laugh because potlucks never went out of style in this part of the country (rural America). Her potluck dinner guests were asked to bring a dish inspired by a grandmother and that made me think about both of my grandmothers.

Image result for strawberry ice cream

My paternal grandmother was a farm wife from Kansas and most of my memories of her involve the kitchen and food.  She loved to cook and was a really good cook.  Pies were deep dish and cookies were monstrous big - nothing stingy about sweets in her house. I also remember her making noodles and draping them over chair backs and curtain rods on clean white dish towels. And my dad and his brothers would cut all of the crust off a fresh loaf of her homemade bread and eat it before anyone else had a chance. That brought scolding from her, but also a smile.  She taught my dad how to cook and passed along that love of cooking to him as well.

My maternal grandmother lived a block from my Minnesota childhood home and I saw her almost daily growing up. Very few memories of her involve food.  I don't think she enjoyed cooking. But she did enjoy gardening, knitting, playing cards, and watching the Minnesota Twins play baseball on TV.  Grandma always had Schwans strawberry ice cream in the freezer which she would generously share, and I also fondly recall eating cinnamon toast for breakfast when I stayed overnight. Heavy on the cinnamon, just the way I liked it.  She made cottage cheese - which I thought was pretty gross, straining it in cheese cloth over a bowl in the kitchen.  But the worst thing I remember her cooking - frequently - was something she called New England Boiled Dinner. It involved ham hocks, parsnips, and cabbage.  And probably other things too, but I mostly remember I didn't like the way it smelled or tasted. 

So now that I've had my trip down memory lane, what foods do you associate with your grandmother?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

My first 20 cracker blocks are finished.  There are 10 blue ones so far, which is the RSC18 color of the month.  I've had fun digging into the scraps to make these.  I made 11 of them this morning in a little over an hour, so it proves they go together very quickly.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Orphan charm squares

The cracker blocks need 2 charm squares of a color.  And I just happen to have a small bin with orphan 5" blocks, so last night I dug in there to find some with 2 alike. I came up with 11 sets of charms.  The color portion of the block just needs 1 charm cut in half vertically, and 1 charm cut in half diagonally. Very simple!  The background needs 2 diagonal halves (can be 4.5"), and 1 rectangle 2.5" x 5". 
I hope to pull some background scraps later today and cut those pieces so I can start to sew these additional cracker blocks.  There are already 9 completed blocks, so these would bring my total to 20.  These make a good leader/ender project too. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

More "Cracker" blocks

OK - these are officially one of my new favorite blocks to make!! So easy and so fast.
Yesterday there was a comment about these being a wonderful signature block. Absolutely perfect for signatures!  My husband's family has a big reunion coming up this summer, and I had this crazy idea to have a stack of these to sign at the reunion.  I did a little figuring and came up with needing 180 blocks to make a queen size quilt but we only had about 150 at the last reunion.  So maybe we could make a smaller quilt. We'll see if this actually happens.
I may need to talk to my sister-in-law (also a quilter) and see if she is interested in making some too.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Goals and playing with scraps

I had the morning off work and spent some therapeutic time in my sewing room. I'm using En Provence as a "leader and ender" project for other sewing.  I made the last 10 aqua/brown/cream 9-patch blocks for On Ringo Lake, and then I put together one section of pieced sashing for En Provence, so I could join the 2 blocks I've made.  And I laid out another block on the design board to use as leaders and enders as I start working on the coral flying geese for On Ringo Lake.  So, there has been a little progress on both mystery quilts.

The other fun is part of my goal for January, which is working on Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks. I made 3 of these Cracker blocks (Moda) and cut the parts for 6 more.  All but 1 is in blue, which is the January color.  I have a lot of blue scraps so maybe I'll make more. These are 7.5" after I trimmed them. I've seen these on a couple of other blogs and decided to finally give them a try. Easy and fast

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Squared Away - RSC18

I've made 2 more blocks for Squared Away RSC18.  One is quite light and the other is more of a medium.  I'm loving these 3 blocks and can't wait to see what next month brings, both in terms of color and design.  I have a ton of blue scraps so I may have to play with some other simple block designs and keep making blue blocks.

So Scrappy and Academic Quilter are the co-leaders of this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  Check it out if you are interested in using scraps, one color at a time. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Design Wall Monday - RSC18

Two very creative quilters are joining forces on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year and I'm very excited to try to do some more scrap busting in 2018.
So Scrappy and Academic Quilter are doing a sampler called Squared Away and this is block 1.  Each month they'll give the instructions for 3 size variations of the new block of the month and I'm doing the 10" block. This month's colors are light to medium blue - and these are a bit dark. But these colors were near the top of the blue/purple scrap bin so I used them anyway as I tested the block.  We need 3 blocks this month so my next 2 will use up some lighter blue scraps.  Isn't this block great?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

UFO #2 is finished

This 38" square wall hanging is a Kim Diehl design called Farmhouse Stars. And it's finally DONE!!  The original pattern had a dark border around the outside but I decided I wanted it without that border and I do like the change.  I used a piece of ugly cheddar solid from my stash on the back and pulled an older Kim Diehl fabric from the stash for the binding.  And best of all, I quilted it all by myself.  The quilting is very simple - diagonal lines through the brown squares and outline stitching around the stars. I can handle simple straight line quilting. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Mystery quilts

I really enjoy a good mystery quilt project.  We've done a couple of them as Saturday Sampler projects over the years and it's been so enjoyable to watch them come together without really knowing how the end result will look. And it's fun to guess how the parts will go together - which is totally outside of my usual comfort zone.
Bonnie Hunter ( does an annual mystery quilt on her blog. I watched them for a couple of years before joining in and making Allietare a couple of years ago. It was full of reds and golds and blacks. I did swap out one color.
This year's mystery is called On Ringo Lake and is aqua, coral, brown, and neutral.  The colors are gorgeous, and as usual her quilt design uses "units". She designs quilts with bazillions of little pieces which would be overwhelming to most quilters, but she divides the process into manageable units.  This morning I worked some more on Clue 1 (and yes I'm getting a slow start), which is a 9 patch.

I've finished 20 of them and have more strip sets sewn and strips cut for the final sets. I'll need 50 total 9 patch blocks measuring 3.5".  

And since I'm focusing on finishing some UFOs and since last year's mystery (En Provence) is a UFO still sitting in the box in units, I pulled out that project box and laid out a second block. Yup - I only had 1 block finished.  So when I got sick of seeing aqua this morning, I added in some purple/yellow/green to the mix.  This will be a "leaders and enders" task and sits on a design board that I can just pick up and move when needed.  Maybe this way I'll get a few more blocks of this made while I work on the current project.  I will admit that purple and yellow are not my favorite colors so maybe that is part of the reason I lost interest.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Bags, bags, and more bags

OK, that title is a bit deceiving.  In general I'm not one to make very many bags because I get easily frustrated with parts of the process - such as zippers.

But I do like making the Sew Together bag, a pattern by Sew Demented. In spite of the fact that there are 4 zippers I do like this bag. And I've now finished 6 of them with 1 more partially made.

The black one with hand stitched hexies and hand quilting is mine. I use it currently to hold a counted cross stitch project.  I can zip the different colored threads into those inside pockets.  The blue one with the bicycles was made for my oldest daughter who does long distance cycling. The pink one was a gift for a breast cancer patient to hold a few goodies like lip balm and hand lotion for when she was going for chemo. The green one was a gift to my cousin who uses it for knitting and the red floral (French General fabrics) was a gift for her knitting friend.

That brings me to the most recent bag (blue floral) which is going to the same cousin who is gifting it to another knitting friend I think.  I need to finish the one that is still in parts too. Both were my class samples last winter when I led 2 groups in making these cute bags.  And I must confess that there is one more bag front that I also used for a sample, and that could become a another bag too if I get ambitious enough.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pink Pineapples

A 20" square pillow kit is going to become a wall hanging. Pink Pineapples - one of my weekend sewing projects. It's ready to quilt but I'm trying to decide how I want this to look.
The pink section was assembled in an interesting way. First step was layering the 3 fat quarters with the correct order of dark on bottom, medium, and then light on top. The pieces were all cut through the layers, and then the pieces were arranged in a particular order. My small design board really came in handy.
Then the instructions told which ones to shuffle by 1 layer or 2 layers. The strange lattice was sewn, then turned to the diagonal. A new rectangle was cut from the diagonal section.  And small background squares were added to the corners and flipped.  Thank goodness for lots of pictures in the pattern because otherwise this would have been very difficult.

Monday, January 1, 2018

It's a New Year!

Doesn't it feel like anything is possible on January 1 of every new year?  I used to make resolutions that I didn't keep.  I kind of like the word "challenge" instead of resolution.  I can challenge myself to accomplish something, but can feel successful even if I only make it part way on that challenge.

So - I've once again made a list of some UFOs for American Patchwork & Quilting UFO Challenge. You can download the form and can join the Facebook group too.  If you already joined the Facebook group last year, then you are already seeing the 2018 Challenge info.  One of the gals in the Facebook group turned the PDF form into an Excel spreadsheet to make it easy to type into it. You can find that in the Facebook group, under Files in the left side menu. 

I decided to add a second and third UFO to most months. It's not that I expect to finish all 3 each month, but it gives me some options. And I may switch out a couple of things like I did last year. For the 2017 UFO Challenge, I managed to finish 9 UFOs. Three of those were switched to other items from what I already had on the list, but that's OK too.  So having multiple projects on the list for the month with give me some flexibility.  The January number was already announced and it is #12.  I deliberately put 3 things on #12 that I want to have finished by the end of January.  Technically the blue bag was finished before midnight, so I can check that one off already. Maybe I'll get them all done in the next 30 days.  It's a challenge after all. 

This one is headed to Minneapolis in the mail this week for my cousin to gift to a friend.  Now, go check out what other quilters are working on for the first Design Wall Monday of 2018: