Friday, February 26, 2021

Escaping the quiet

 It's finally here - retreat day!  Yippee!!

My bags are packed and loaded in the car, except for some last minute food items from the fridge for one of the group meals.  I'll stop at Subway and pick up lunch on my way out of town.  My husband is on his own until I come home on Sunday, and probably glad for some peace and quiet of his own.

Hopefully I'll have some fun pictures to post tomorrow to show off what everyone is working on.   

Oh, and YES . . . I survived yesterday's colonoscopy, and my back is mostly better.  I've had a good night's sleep and am ready to spend some time sewing. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Prep Day on Hump Day

 Yay!!  It's Wednesday and in 2 days I'm escaping to a quilt retreat weekend.  Today is prep day - in more ways than just the upcoming quilting retreat.  I have to work this morning, but once my desk is cleared of current tasks (hopefully by noon), then my focus can switch.  

I'm making a list and checking it twice. Oh wait - that is for Christmas, right?  Well, I'm a list maker because otherwise I just don't remember to do things.  My retreat list is sitting on top of 3 UFO project boxes on my dining room table where I can keep adding to it as needed.  The project boxes hold my bigger retreat projects.  Also note the spools of thread - sitting there to remind me I want to wind a bunch of extra bobbins before I leave.  And there is a baggie with some binding strips I cut for a quilt that is currently at the quilter.  

Along the wall in my dining room is my sewing machine, and the rolling cart that is collecting some of the items from my list - extension cord, power strip, small ironing board, bags of block kits.  There is still room for my iron, a small lamp, my little box with scissors, rotary cutter, pins, etc.  And there are still a lot of things on my list that I will need to gather up.  

My other prep happening today - for the colonoscopy that is happening tomorrow morning.  After suffering a perforated colon about 12 years ago, and having 4 surgeries, a colonoscopy has become quite routine for me.  I've had several of them over the years and the prep has certainly gotten easier.  No more attempting to drink a whole gallon of the fluid that cleans you out. Now you drink a couple of small pints of flavored clear fluid.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Prepping for a retreat

I mentioned yesterday that I've been prepping for an upcoming retreat by kitting up some things to save time cutting while at the retreat.  Hopefully I can just sew, sew, sew.

So far there are kits for 5 Wisdom blocks.  I'm actually hoping to kit up a couple more of these sometime this week.  

Seven little sets of parts for Blossom Time blocks are now hanging out with the one leftover block from the last time I sewed some of these into "quads".  I need to remember to put some of the 1" sashing and a couple of green cornerstone pieces into that bag too, and then I can come home with 2 more completed quad sections to add to the 10 I've already made.

There are 4 kits for Patriotic Star blocks for our Quilt of Valor group.  

And this is the Jelly Belly Bars kit - still needing some cutting.  I'm thinking that I will just cut that background into the 5 x 10 "bars" for the centers of these blocks, and will cut the jelly roll pieces at the retreat on my smaller mat.  I'm trying to avoid dragging my big cutting mat with me.  I would really like to get this top completely done at the retreat if possible. It's very quick to sew.  It's on my PHD list and my UFO list for this year, although in reality it's probably just a PIG - but not for long. 

Even though the hunting lodge we are meeting at is only about 20 minutes from my house, I definitely don't want to run out of things to work on.  So I also have the stack or Ritzy Cracker blocks ready to go too.  I've sewn most into "two-sies", but need to finish putting them into a completed top.  Ritzy Cracker is also on my PHD and UFO lists for 2021.  

We'll see what else comes to mind before Friday.  I really need some hand work to take along for when I need to step away from the sewing machine for awhile.  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Design Wall Monday - not much to see

 My design wall is mostly empty today.  I spent part of Saturday morning cutting some block parts, and gathering some potential projects for a short retreat I’m hoping to attend next weekend. The only actual sewing that happened this weekend were 2 string blocks (9.5" square); mostly I stood at my cutting station working on block kits.  I think that standing (bent over my cutting board) aggravated the back issues that started on Friday after a totally different project.

This was what my office looked like on Friday morning - the view from my desk chair was totally depressing.  A shameful disorganized mess!!  

Maps, invoices and other documents for work needed to be filed.  A big pile of paperwork sat there on the floor and in the boxes that my husband wanted me to shred.  After spending the whole afternoon filing and shredding, and organizing - my back was killing me.  Lots of bending over the shredder, and lifting boxes back onto shelves.  But my office is clean again, except for a small stack of old photos and news clippings to go through.

No sewing happened on Sunday at all because it was all I could do to stand up straight.  I’m just hoping that my back gets back to normal by Friday this week so I can enjoy the retreat.   

I'm linking up to Design Wall Monday:

Friday, February 19, 2021

Wisdom block collection

 The collection of Wisdom blocks is gradually growing to a number that I can use for a quilt.  These finish at 9" and seem to look good set on point or laid out in straight rows.  I'm not sure yet which layout I'll use.

I did lay the 26 current blocks out on the floor to see what I have.  The backgrounds are varied, from plain white to minimal neutral prints.  

A photo often reveals something we haven't noticed before.  There is a 4-patch in the center of each of these blocks and when I tossed them onto the floor I didn't worry about which direction they went.  Hmmmm - I think I need to make sure they are more random when I actually sew rows together.  My natural inclination would be to lay them all the same direction but it looks better random. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Farmers' Wife Sampler

This book - and the companion Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler book - have been in my book shelf for several years.  I've read through the wonderful little stories, and dreamed of making the blocks for a beautiful scrappy vintage looking quilt. But it hasn't happened - yet.

BTW - the stories are actually excerpts from letters submitted for a contest in 1922.  The question was "Do you want your daughter to marry a farmer?"  I grew up as a town kid and did marry a farmer in 1977.  We spent 10 years trying to scratch out a living on his family farm.  I have wonderful memories of those years, and some not-so-wonderful memories too.  

Actually I did make 7 of the blocks as "test" blocks using some of my 1930s scraps.  Each block is only 6" square and very cute on its own, but they mostly would never work together because of the fabrics I used at the time.   I found them tucked into the 1930s book and here they are laid out on my table.  I'm thinking I'll use them to make some mug rugs, or some other small projects.   

But a small closed Facebook group I follow is going to do a sew-along beginning March 1, using this book.  I'm so excited!!  I got started with this little group of quilters when they were working through Lori Holt's Farm Girl Vintage book a few years ago.   It was really fun to share our progress each week.  The leader will post 2 Farmer's Wife blocks per week to make, which is very manageable.  And she plans to pair up blocks that use the same templates whenever possible.  My plan currently is to use some of the left over Kim Diehl fabrics that I've been hoarding.  I think those will make a wonderful quilt as the fabric lines all play so nicely with each other.  And the fabrics have a vintage look. 

One of the challenges of these books is that they use templates - which would have been historically appropriate, but isn't going to happen with me.  The templates are all on a CD in the back of the book.  I even had many of them already printed. LOL.  I noticed that on some of the templates I had written the actual size of the squares, rectangles, and triangles so I could just rotary cut them.  A few blocks use some strange shapes and for those I'll probably use the templates. 

What is it about planning a new project that gets me so excited?  Maybe I'm better at planning than I am at completing.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Finishing up yellow blocks for RSC

 The Rainbow Scrap Challenge color for February is sunny yellow, and it's been a good color to ward off the winter blues around here.  These 5 yellow blocks joined the collection this week.  And all of the yellow fabrics are folded neatly and back in the drawer or in the yellow scrap bin.  I do have yellow pieces for a couple more of the tulip blocks cut but NOT just laying on my cutting station - which is completely clean now for 2 whole weeks!!  It's a miracle!

I'm so excited about these Gingham blocks and just couldn't resist laying them out to see how they play together.  And they look really good in my humble opinion.  Putting a narrow frame around each block really made a big difference in the look, and I'm so glad I went back to frame the first ones made.  

I think 3 more months of RSC colors (6 blocks total), and I'll put this top together with a 5 x 6 layout.  The blocks are all 12" finished, so it will make a decent sized quilt.  I'm eager to see this one finished.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Tuesday To Do - One little doll quilt and more tulip blocks

 Using leftover squares from Olivia's unicorn quilt (a couple of years ago), I finally got her doll quilt made to go with it.  If I had waited any longer she might not still love playing with her dolls. LOL

More of the Blossom Time blocks have joined the collection.  So far in February I've made 5 more tulip blocks for this on-going project.  Only 1 of them is yellow, but February isn't over yet so more yellow ones may be on the horizon. 

These 4 are ready to sew into a "quad" section with 1" sashing and a green cornerstone in the center.  This will be the 10th one of the quad sections and each one is 13" square finished.  So I'm a long way from having enough for a whole quilt, but I'm happy to keep making these cheerful little blocks.  

On my "To Do" list this week:

** finish my yellow RSC blocks 
** prep and pack for an upcoming retreat
** work on emptying that big basket of scraps
** add stars to SAHRR
** make one more Laundry Line block

In just over a week I hope to be at a small retreat, sewing like a crazy person for 3 days.  I have bobbins to run and projects to organize.  And a list of supplies will continue to grow.  

I'm linking up to Tuesday To Do:

Monday, February 15, 2021

Design Wall Monday - February 15, SAHRR

 What is on your design wall (or floor) this morning?

This is what has been on my design floor since Saturday night - with various options being auditioned for that Checkerboard round for Round 4 of the Stay At Home Round Robin (SAHRR).  Hmmm . . . I tried them out with and without any spacing strips.  I tried them in opposite corner from the Plus Signs and Flying Geese.  I tried them on the same corners with those previous rounds. 

Finally I tried them out on both ends.  The end on the right looks wonky in the photograph but it really does lay flat and is the same length as the left.  I have enough of all 3 fabrics to add the same Checkerboard to the long sides too, depending on what seems to look best with whatever comes for the next round.  EDIT: the next round is Wonky Stars.  We'll see if my stars end up wonky or symmetrical. I know what I'm most comfortable with. LOL

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Checkerboard dilemma

 The last round for the Stay At Home Round Robin was to do something with a checkerboard design, and I'm playing with that today.  But I can't decide . . .

Should I put the checkerboard strips all the way around the 4 sides?

Should I just use the strips in small sections?

Does it need that spacer between the checkerboard and the previous round?


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Raindrop pillow of the month

 I finished the Raindrop pillow last night.  And look - 2 YELLOW raindrops to keep that RSC color going strong!!  It's not a scrappy project however - it's a new kit.  But the multi-colors of the raindrops made it feel scrappy.  All of the fabrics are Riley Blake solids for this Pillow of the Month project.  Each of the 18 raindrops is paper pieced and no colors are used twice. The binding and one of the raindrops is a beautiful teal.  

I quilted it slightly different from the pattern, but am still pleased with how it turned out. Since I had most of the day off, sewing seemed to be an ideal activity, considering the temperatures we're currently living with.  That zero degree temperature was at 2:00 PM on a sunny afternoon.  

I've become a wimp.  Just 4 years ago I would have just dressed in warm clothes, gotten into my car, and driven to whatever school I was working in that day.  Just another day!  But since I've been working from home I'm turning into a wimp - and don't even leave the house when it's this cold unless I have to.  And yesterday I didn't have to.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

Raindrop pillow

 A new project isn't necessarily what I should be working on, but sometimes it's just good for the creative juices to start something new.  And this is a relatively small project as it finishes at 20" square. 

This is a Pillow of the Month kit, and I just picked it up at The Pin Cushion last week.  I had actually forgotten that I did sign up, and after seeing the project online was wishing I had. So it was a pleasant surprise to be able to pick up this kit and know I'm on the list for these. 

This is such a cute and sturdy little box that holds everything needed for the pillow front, backing, and binding the edge.  The box is a keeper - and may be perfect for storing "things" in.  Wonder if each month the box will be a different color?  

This pillow is called Raindrop and the fabrics are all solid colors.  Each of the 18 individual raindrops is paper pieced.  I actually have 9 of them done so far, but hadn't taken the paper off these 6 yet when I photographed them.  And I hadn't trimmed the other 3 raindrops.  Now - on to making the other 9. 

One thing I've decided is to use a smaller stitch length for the remainder of them.  The default stitch length on my Pfaff is 2.5, but I always change it to 2.0 anyway.  However, for these raindrops I'm going to make it even smaller - 1.5 for extra stability when tearing off that paper. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Saturday Sampler progress

 Another month of Saturday Sampler is complete - and now we are forced to be patient until next month to see what is next.  Each month we are given 2 small "sections" to make based on Lori Holt's book Quilty Fun.  So far these sections have been so quick to make.

For February, we made 2 of the Cups of Cocoa blocks and 3 Tree blocks. So cute.  I'm very happy with my choice of 30s prints along with that simple background.  There are tiny randomly spaced navy squares on the white background. Just enough to give it some interest. 

In January we made 3 different length strips of flying geese with no background fabric at all.  I'm thinking these may end up as spacers somewhere in the quilt. And then we made these X blocks and half-Xs.  You can see that I have LOTS of 30s prints to choose from and these all used just scraps because the pieces were small. 

We began this Saturday Sampler back in November.  The Apple blocks and Star blocks were the first sections we did.  Then we added the Courthouse Steps and the Baskets in December.    

Each little section has been a different size and so we don't know exactly how these will go together.  The book has so many cute blocks, and we have no idea which ones may be included in our Saturday Sampler.  The mystery is half the fun!!  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Unity is complete

 Another UFO can be checked off my list.  Unity - with all of its tiny pieces - is complete!!

Unity is a Bonnie Hunter mystery from summer 2020.  She posted it as a round robin kind of pattern, with a center medallion and several "rounds" added over the weeks.  It was her way of distracting everyone from the pandemic and the political mayhem of the time.   My version is minus the last couple of rounds as it was as large as I wanted it to be.  And I will admit to "hitting a wall" with these colors and the small pieces.  The finished quilt is 52 x 64 which is fine for a sofa quilt.    

The backing is a splatter print in black, white, and grey.  The quilting thread is a variegated with both pink and aqua showing up.  Because it's such a busy quilt I requested some simple quilting knowing it would get lost anyway.  And I used one of the aqua fabrics as my binding.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Stay At Home Round Robin

 I'm almost caught up with the rounds for this fun little Round Robin project - entirely on line.  We started with any block of our own that we wanted.  Round 1 added piano keys, Round 2 added plus signs, and Round 3 added flying geese.  This week Round 4 will add checkerboards.  Get the details here if you decide to dive in too.

I liked my piano keys but my first attempt at the plus signs was not a success.  Sometimes what we picture in our heads just doesn't work out in reality.  I wanted just a couple of plus signs on each side, and I wanted them to be slightly "off set".  This is what side one looked like.  UGLY!!!  That solid white was so shocking, and the width just looked wrong.  So I came up with the layout above with the white playing a much smaller role.  And I used small prints on white instead of the solid.  

Luckily I had only sewn that one side and it took just a couple of minutes to pick out that seam.  The strip with the plus signs will go into my orphan block box and maybe will be perfect for some other project down the road.  I'm so glad I didn't waste a lot of time or fabric on this failure. LOL

Now I just need to figure out how I want that checkerboard to look, and decide if I need a lighter strip between the current piece and the new parts. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Design Wall Monday - A disappointing kit

Now that UFO project #1 is ready to quilt I decided to pull out the next one on my February APQ UFO Challenge list. The second UFO on the list is Humble Homes, a kit I’ve had in a drawer for close to a decade, obviously without looking too closely at it.  Actually I guess it’s a PIG since it was still in the sack.  But I loved the design of this and looked forward to working on it - notice the past tense here. 

The Humble Homes kit has die cut houses and trees, background fabric and 6 fat quarters to use for the pieced border. However . . . as I sorted through things my disappointment grew.  The houses are NOT various shades of blue as I had anticipated. Gold, burgundy, purple - and I'm not sure I like some of them.  I was so disappointed to not see blue houses!!

Next I noticed the die cut shapes do NOT have fusible on them.  There was a little note in a baggy suggesting you use a dot of Elmer’s glue to attach them to applique.  Yikes!!  No fusible will certainly make the applique process slower. 

And then I noticed the pattern calls for 11” x 57” strips cut length of fabric - 5 of them total.  And it clearly indicated 4 and 1/8 yards of the background was needed.  Hmmm - no matter how I measured, there is only a bit over 2 yards of that cream background in the bag, and it was only 41” wide.  No way to get 5 of those strips even by piecing some.  So, I’ll be buying new background fabric for this one, and use the existing 2 yards for something else.  Or I could just buy another 2 yards of a similar color and alternate those rows like it was planned from the start.  

Since I'll be buying new background fabric I just might also shop my stash for blue fabrics to make the houses blue like the pattern picture.  Plus I would iron on the fusible before cutting those shapes so they are easier to applique.  The pattern contains the shape patterns, so there is really nothing stopping me from making it the way I want it to look.  I'm guessing this one might take me all year to finish. 

What is on your design wall this morning?  I'm linking up with: 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Weekend sewing

Yesterday and today have been bone-chilling cold, and today it's snowing as well.  Guess it doesn't matter because I wasn't planning to go anywhere. My plan was to stay home and sew - and watch some college basketball on TV. Oh - and the Super Bowl today of course. 

I so enjoyed the sunshine yesterday but today we are back to grey skies and grey light.  And that grey light means that color just doesn't show up correctly no matter where I try to photograph my projects.  The Flamingo Quick Strippee quilt is finally a flimsy and ready to quilt.  

One of my favorite child or baby quilt patterns, the Quick Strippee is a free pattern from  The pattern is here:  It's simply cut from 3 different fabrics in 3 sizes of strips across the whole width.  I love how it allows a fun novelty print to be the focus.  And it's so quick that normally you could sew this easily in one short day - unless you get lazy like me and keep setting it aside to sew other things. 

I did get a better picture of the colors under a lamp.  It's has very bright aqua prints with narrow gold strips separating them.  The flamingoes and toucans are so cute. 

I can check off 3 more pillowcases from the ones I kitted up earlier in the winter.  Both granddaughters will get zebras pillowcases on their birthdays.  Sophia will be 9 in March and Olivia will be 8 in April.  This zebra print is so cute with a colorful stripe on each animal.   

Jonah will get this insect pillowcase when he turns 8, also in April.  I searched and searched for an interesting bug print.  Finally, at Spoonflower, I found this one with the scientific names of each insect.  He's fascinated with bugs, so maybe he will decide to learn some of the Latin names for them too. 

And this classic car pillowcase is one we'll keep.  Our family room sofa always has a bed type pillow hanging out at one end - for napping of course.  I'm tired of the winter pillowcase currently in use, so this one will replace it.  

Lots of other sewing happened this weekend - blocks and binding included.  But I'll leave those for another day.  

Saturday, February 6, 2021

A little stitching to end the week

 Working extra hours cut deep into my sewing time this week, but I managed to end my Friday afternoon with some stitching.

String blocks are part of my RSC plans again this year, but I decided to do something a little different from last year’s rainbow strings.  I’m putting 4 blocks together like this for each color.  The individual quarters are squared up to 9.5”, so the 4 together make an 18” finished block.

One yellow Wisdom block is joined by a pink one and a green one.  I have 25 of these now in the set so I’m close to having enough.  I also have a second set of these going that I’m making from a layer cake. Those will be a separate project. 

The whole weekend is predicted to be bitter cold with highs in the single digits, and I’m hoping that means I get to spend lots of time sewing.  Add these yellow blocks to what I made at the beginning of the week, and I have a great start on the RSC blocks for this month. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Focusing on yellow

My yellow scrap bin wasn't overflowing like some of the other colors, and the stash drawer with yellow isn't as full either.  But there is still plenty to choose from.  And I have a good start on my February RSC blocks.   

"Home Is . . ." is a Pat Sloan block that she shared as part of one of her Sew Alongs this winter.  I love the house block with the little heart coming out of the chimney.  So far the only other block from that series that I might make is a courthouse steps with a cat or dog silhouette appliqued.  I could use all of RSC colors in the steps to make it kind of a centerpiece to mix in with the house blocks.  

And of course more Ohio Star blocks had to happen.  I like making these blocks so much that I'm thinking instead of just making a few to enlarge the existing flimsy, maybe I'll just make a second quilt.  The first one is a great size already for a large couch throw or child's quilt - approximately 50 x 60.  

So, this UFO will be finished at this size and I'll focus on making enough blocks to make a second quilt. These will be good donation quilts. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Tracking my finishes

I will readily admit to being a bit of a nerd - with a love of spreadsheets. They are a terrific tool for tracking all kinds of things, and don't need to be fancy or complicated. 

At the end of 2020 I found myself wondering just how many finishes I actually had for the year.  I could go back in my blog and literally count them, but that seemed like an awful lot of work.  So, for 2021 I've set up a simple spreadsheet to track finishes.

As I've worked on projects - or kitted them up - I've added them to the list.  If I haven't worked on them, then they won't get added to the list.  On the right side I set up a drop-down list of project types to help me organize them further.  You can't see it in the photo, but I have a COUNTIF set up at the bottom, that will keep a running count of finishes in each category. And I removed the category for unfinished things so it's only counted after I add the date and choose a category from the drop down. 

I've been thinking I should add new worksheet for RSC blocks or other "random" blocks I'm making for future projects.  I'm sure the numbers in that category would add up fast.  For example:

On Tuesday afternoon I made 3 more Patriotic Star blocks for our QOV group, and then made 6 little Hourglass blocks from HST trimmings from the stars.  I'm trying NOT to allow these little (3.5") blocks distract me too much, but sewing them up right away kept me from having those triangles laying next to my cutting board.  They've been added to the bag with the others - now adding up to 20 little blocks. 

And on a side note - the cutting station is still clean.  The rulers are all returned where they belong, and the only thing laying next to the mat is the stack of binding strips I just cut to bind the Unity quilt.  It simplifies my life just a little to have that clean surface ready for the next cutting task.  Let's hope I can keep it clean for longer than a few days.