Thursday, November 30, 2023

December goals

Hmmm . . . I had 4 goals for this week for my sewing room.  And it appears those weekly goals are being rolled over into December goals.  Appointments and work has certainly gotten in the way of any sewing this week.

  1. cut out and sew 3 football themed pillowcases for the 3 grandsons - Cut these out
  2. make 4 more Suitcase blocks - not touched
  3. work on more sets of Clue #1 units for Bonnie Hunter's new mystery 2 sets cut out
  4. hand stitch the binding on the last big finish of the year (grey & batik Saturday Sampler) not touched
Yesterday morning I had PT and going to pick up groceries on my way home, with the plan to spend the afternoon in my sewing room.  Well, no groceries were purchased.  I had a work email while at PT asking if I could do some updates on construction reports, so I headed home instead.  And then - I have a car tire with a slow leak needing fixing. 

Two more sets of HSTs have been cut out, but no sewing on these happened either.  

I think these will be the ONLY goals I'll set for December because it's such a busy month.  Any sewing I get done will be a bonus.  And now it's 8:30 and I must report to work - well really just my work tasks since I'm already at my desk.  It might take most of the morning to finish updating those construction reports.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Beginning a new mystery - Indigo Way

No sewing at all on Tuesday, but I did scan a bunch of old photos and a few documents. Over a year ago, one of my brothers-in-law brought me some big boxes of photos to be scanned.  And I've been procrastinating.  But now that I've dug into the boxes it has been interesting.

This picture was from 1957, and the little guy in front is my husband at the age of 3.  Big sister and big brother are with him out in the snow.  I'm going to try to spend at least a couple of hours each week to work on these.  The next box is all old photos belonging to their father during his WW2 service.  Once done I am hoping to make a flash drive for each of the 4 siblings with copies of the pictures.

I'm also hoping to get a little sewing time today after my morning PT session. 

Each year designer Bonnie Hunter releases a new mystery quilt project.  She shares each clue on Fridays through the holidays and into January as her "gift".  It's free, until the final layout is shared when she typically then will turn it into a pattern for purchase.  I don't always participate to make a whole quilt, but usually at least make a few blocks.  

This year her mystery is called Indigo Way, inspired by a trip to Viet Nam.  The colors will be indigo, red, light blue, and neutrals.  My stash contains plenty of those colors, so I'm playing along.  I may or may not make as many units or blocks as her directions.  But for now I'm kind of aiming for half as many blocks to make a smaller project, either lap sized or possibly a wall hanging.  Once the final layout is shared I'll decide whether or not to make it larger.

The first clue is half square triangles, made in sets of 4 matching.  So far I have only 3 sets of 4 matching ones made, but plan to make more.  The next clue will be released Friday, but since we'll have a house full of adults, grandkids, and dogs for the weekend there won't be any sewing until Monday most likely.  But it's not a race, so that is just fine!!!

You can find Indigo Way on Bonnie's blog . . .

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Quilts of Valor awards

 Three more Quilts of Valor were awarded last weekend.

This was an extra special QOV project - one that I worked on personally.  My friend nominated her husband and her brother for QOV via the website, and because she's also a quilter she wanted to help make their quilts.  So we met for lunch, chose a block pattern, and did some planning.  She made half the blocks and I made half the blocks for both quilts. 

However, because my friend is also a veteran with 15 years of service, I wanted to surprise her with her own Quilt of Valor.  I made that one myself, using the scrappy red, white, and blue Twinkle Star blocks I had made over the last year.  

She planned to surprise the guys with their quilts at a big family Thanksgiving celebration.  My surprise was that there were 3 quilts to award - and I did completely surprise her.   

Monday, November 27, 2023

Design Wall Monday - more suitcases

The Thanksgiving holiday went by in a flash!  And now it's time to really think about Christmas, as well as the quickly approaching new year. Yikes!!  I have 4 projects on my list for this coming week:

  1. cut out and sew 3 football themed pillowcases for the 3 grandsons
  2. make 4 more Suitcase blocks
  3. work on more sets of Clue #1 units for Bonnie Hunter's new mystery (Indigo Way)
  4. hand stitch the binding on the last big finish of the year (grey & batik Saturday Sampler)
Sunday in my sewing room involved attaching a binding to a quilt, refolding and stowing away the novelty prints so the cube fit back into the bookcase, and sewing a few more of these suitcase blocks using fabrics from trips.

This green one is from an Iowa shop hop a few years ago, when I tagged along on a work trip with my husband.  He humored me and stopped at a few shops along the way.  I think this one with the bicycles was recognizing the RAGBRAI long distance bike event that was held every summer at that time.  I have this in yellow and baby blue too, but won't make any additional suitcases from it.

Then I found the sunflower print from a family reunion trip to Kansas, a Maple Leaf print from Canada, the fleur de lis and chili pepper print from New Orleans, and the cattle brands from Nebraska.  That Maple Leaf print was fabric my cousin brought me from a trip they took to Canada. I made a couple of Covid masks for them from this print, but had enough left for this suitcase block.


The Nebraska one with the cattle brands was from a shop hop a few years ago.  It isn't actually cattle brands however - but each quilt shop created a "brand" to represent their shop.  So cute!  This was fabric that I cut into 6" squares to share with my guild (our travel tradition), and I had 4 of them left.  I actually pieced the suitcase pieces from those leftover squares.  

While searching for those fabrics, I did come across 4 more interesting options for suitcases.  The cactus print was from Arizona, the fishy one from Alaska, the canoes/mosquitoes and the lady slipper batik are both from past Minnesota shop hops.  Somewhere in the stash is also a piece of fabric from Australia - sent to me by my daughters' cousin who lives there, but I haven't come across that one yet.  

What is on YOUR design wall this week?

Saturday, November 25, 2023

RSC23 Week #47

End of the year finishes are on my mind right now, as it probably is for many of us. This is possibly the last set of scrappy blocks that I'll try to move to being a quilt top before the new year begins. I'm betting that the RSC community is finishing up a ton of scrappy quilts right now.  Let's check it out.

These are the "baby" churn dash blocks - not in terms of size, but in fabric choices.  Forgive the dreary lighting in my picture.  Our guild made these 12" (finished) size blocks this year for the annual baby quilt we gift to the first baby of the new year at our local hospital.  I believe the committee made at least 3 quilt tops from the blocks collected from guild members.

The directions were to blend novelty prints with solid colors.  I made several blocks for the guild project, but then just kept making more because they were fun and quick. And I had a LOT of novelty prints.  And a lot of solids.

These turn out so cute with the solid color used as either the churn dash pieces or reversed as the background.  I even made some half size blocks, and used 4 of them together in this project.  One vertical row is sewn together, and maybe by the end of the week it will be a whole top. We'll see how the week goes.  No sewing will happen next weekend because I'll have a house full of kids and dogs here.  Both granddaughters have a swim meet here in Mitchell, so I'm happy that they're all staying at our house.  

One other "scrappy" project that I'm playing with right now is blocks made with fabrics from travel, because I am required to explore local quilt shops when on a road trip. Right?

These are blocks #4 through #7.  The top left block is from this year's South Dakota shop hop fabric. It has pheasants, buffalo, jackrabbits, and more on it.  The painted horse print was from New Mexico. The pink cactus was Arizona. The batik was from Alaska.

These are blocks #1 through #3 - Alaska (bears), Kansas (cowboy hats), and Colorado (pine trees).  There are more travel purchases lurking in the stash, including a couple of fun ones that were gifted to me by other people who travel.  So there WILL be more of these blocks in 2024.  

There are 2 of these wooden bookcases side by side in my sewing room, and my novelty prints were scattered among 3 canvas cubes in this half.  I made a HUGE mess while searching for what was left of that cowboy hat print from Dodge City, KS - which of course was hiding near the bottom of the blue cube and mixed in with all kinds of other fabric.  So it required some reorganization on my part.  The top red cube now holds only panels and border prints.  The bottom cube now holds only flannel.

The blue cube will now have only the kid-themed novelty prints.  But I will need to do some refolding before it will all fit back in there, and allow me to slide it back into the bookcase.  That might happen over this weekend - in between getting my Christmas tree up, and the laundry done.  And college basketball.  And a Quilts of Valor presentation this afternoon.

Friday, November 24, 2023


What kind of traditions do you follow and celebrate this time of year?  

When my daughters were pre-teens/teens our Black Friday usually involved sleeping late, splurge on lunch somewhere fun, and doing a little Christmas shopping.  It was our girls' day out together, and I looked forward to it each year.  At lunch I would give them their annual new Christmas ornaments.  It became our mother/daughter tradition - until they were college age and both began working in health care where working holidays is part of the norm.  So now the ornaments are given on whatever day we celebrate Thanksgiving together, and the annual ornament tradition has of course extended to the 5 grandkids.  This year we actually had family Thanksgiving ON Thanksgiving!

This year's ornaments for the grandkids were all purchased on our Alaskan adventure this past summer.  For the boys I bought wooden Russian fisherman in Sitka.  There was a really interesting shop in Sitka that carried all kinds of Alaska and Russian themed art, and also had a HUGE Christmas shop.  The metal pine tree/moose ornaments for the girls came from a cute shop in Ketchikan.

My annual ornament tradition also involves purchasing an ornament for MYSELF when traveling.  I liked the metal pine tree and moose so much I got one for myself too.  The painted Alaska ball was found in Juneau.  And the 2 desert themed ornaments came from Arizona (top) and New Mexico.

Here is the gorgeous NEW cardinal hanging in my tree this morning. My older daughter surprised me with this ornament yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner.  I absolutely LOVE it!

No Black Friday shopping is planned for today, but we do plan to go to a college basketball game this evening.  Hopefully the Christmas Tree with go up today.  And I plan to do some "playing" in my sewing room if time allows.    

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

New suitcases

 It really wasn't a sewing day yesterday. I had PT in the morning, followed by several errands, and then part of the afternoon was spent enjoying coffee with a friend.  However, I did pull together a couple of blocks right before supper.  They still need a good pressing, but I'm liking them. 

I shared the link to this suitcase block in Tuesday's post.  My plan is to use fabrics that have been purchased on travels, or maybe shared with me by friends/relatives who travel.  The first block used a bear fabric I bought in Alaska in June.  This one (cowboy hats) was a fun find when we stopped in Dodge City Kansas on our way to Arizona in February.

And this one . . . pine tree fabric purchased in Colorado when we were there for our nephew's wedding in late April 2022. The backgrounds will be scrappy cream/tan/beige shades.  Writing the name of the quilt shop, city, and state below the suitcase might be a good way to remember where each one came from.  Or at least the state.  

I have a couple more of these cut out and ready to sew today, in between some laundry and making deviled eggs to take to Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Oh - and I need to make the Million Dollar Dip too.  Otherwise known in our family as Crack Dip because it's very addictive.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Christmas bench pillow

 Done is better than perfect.  I need to remind myself of this often.

This was a Riley Blake kit, and involves a LOT of procrastination mostly because I didn't know how I wanted to quilt this one. And I was determined to do it myself.  So . . . I kept it simple.  And now it's the first of the Christmas-y decorations this year.  It has been moved to the love seat in the living room, close to where the tree with go up later this week.  

A second Folded Star ornament has been hung on the Cardinal Tree (temporarily).  Again, this one was all pinned together while watching sports over the weekend.  And let me tell you - there were way too many hours of sports this weekend, both in person and on TV.  

Yesterday I did manage to hang a winter quilt in the dining room - all by myself.  Since buying a light weight step stool with 3 steps and railings to hang onto, I can actually reach things beyond my usual grasp.  And I don't have to wait for my husband to be home and willing to take the time to help. Yay for independence!!!  This one is Humble Homes, which was one of my UFO finishes this year.  Usually I hang a  Christmas-y cardinal quilt here over the holidays and then a snowflake one for the rest of winter, but decided this year to just enjoy this quilt that took me so long (years) to actually finish.  And it will be OK all winter.  

Wednesday will hopefully be the day we bring the Christmas tree and ornaments upstairs.  The actual decorating may wait until Friday, but I want to get organized.    

Monday, November 20, 2023

Design Wall Monday - Nov 20

The procrastination stopped on Sunday - and the Christmas bench pillow front is quilted, and now just needs a little bit of handwork to finish it completely.

The quilting isn't what I envisioned originally, but it will work.  The ornaments and greenery have simple outlining, and the branches without ornaments have a serpentine stitch like tinsel dripping down.  It isn't nearly as cute as the Valentine bench pillow or the Halloween one. But it's done.

Once that quilting was done, I felt it was time to just play with something for a little while - resulting in this cute suitcase block.  This would make a really FUN project to showcase fabrics purchased on various trips.  This bear fabric was a purchase in Alaska.  The block is 12" finished.  I've included the link to it here.

One more set of scrappy blocks is ready to be assembled into a top.  These are all churn dash blocks with cute child themed prints - ducks, cats, frogs, etc.  The plan for these is to be a donation quilt.  I even sewed 4 of the half-sized churn dash into a single block.  

Let's check out more design walls on this Monday . . .

Saturday, November 18, 2023

RSC23 - Week #46 - Autumn Wonders

Scrap happy!!!  That is me!  It's amazing to manage to make an entire new quilt (top) without purchasing a single yard of fabric. Every piece used in Autumn Wonders came from the scrap bins and the stash.  I'm going to pat myself on the back for this one. 

Autumn Wonders is one of Pat Sloan's sew-alongs, with 9 blocks introduced, 1 each week, along with this layout.  I deviated slightly from her pattern in a couple of ways.  Instead of HST in those spacer rows I made Flying Geese with the same fabric as the outer border.  And I made that outer border wider than the pattern suggested, so the finished quilt is 60 x 70.  

I made a second set of the 9 blocks, using patriotic fabrics but haven't quite decided yet how those will go together.  However . . . I used scraps from those patriotic fabrics too.

I needed 9 more 6.5" Rail Fence blocks to complete a kit for our Quilts of Valor group. But then I saw online a beautiful quilt with a few star blocks scattered in with the Rail Fence blocks.  So - 7 stars were appliqued onto 6.5" squares, and 2 final Rail Fence blocks joined the pack. 

I think this will make a really great Quilt of Valor.  The kit is ready for assembly.  Again, everything here came from scraps and that makes me very happy.  

What scrappy happiness is going on elsewhere?

Friday, November 17, 2023

Autumn Wonders progress

Yes, I'm still procrastinating on quilting that Christmas bench pillow, but I did accomplish a couple of other things in my sewing room today.  Not much, but even small steps are progress.

On Wednesday morning I went to get my Covid and flu shots.  Normally I've had no reactions beyond a sore arm.  But by bedtime I was running a low grade fever.  By morning the fever had broken but I was so tired from a poor night's sleep.  So I wasn't feeling very ambitious.  I did cut the borders for Autumn Wonders however.

The 9th block was all cut out in the red, white, and blue fabrics on Wednesday and I did manage to get it sewn yesterday morning.  The afternoon was mostly taken up with a nap and a book.  I'm hoping for more ambition today.  

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Blocks, blocks and more procrastinating

 Six more Rail Fence blocks were finished on Tuesday after work.  And more strips were organized to make a few more.  I want enough to put together 1 more Rail Fence QOV kit.

These make really easy Leader/Ender sewing.

One more block for Saturday Sampler is complete too.  This one is called Spinning Star. Wouldn’t it be pretty in red, white, and blue?  

The last block for Autumn Wonders was released on Wednesday, bringing the final total to 9 blocks.  I made the fall colors block (center row left side), and then made a snap decision on layout.  For the fall version I'm basically using Pat Sloan's layout, except I made regular Flying Geese for the dividers instead of scrappy HSTs.  The second divider strip needs to be finished yet. Each of the 9 blocks needed 1.5" frames, so that happened on Wednesday as well.  I had this large bag full of autumn fabrics, and so far everything here has come out of the bag.  

Note - the red, white, blue version of the block MIGHT happen today. 

I really had most of the day Wednesday to just sew.  I did go get my flu shot and Covid shot, but otherwise once my husband left to go visit a job site for work - I went downstairs and just sewed, sewed, sewed.  In between the Autumn Wonders sewing I made these 12 additional Rail Fence blocks for QOV from the strips set aside the day before.

And then 3 more joined the pile cut from scraps in the QOV scrap bin.  If I've counted correctly, I need 9 more of these for a complete quilt top.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Folded Star ornament

My "squirrel" for this week is actually complete.  The Folded Star ornament was a project shared at our Sew Vintage group, and I just HAD to get one made.

I added a couple of sprigs of greenery snipped from an outdoor arrangement, and then some ribbon loops finished it up.

For now it's hanging on my cardinal tree.  This is one of those skinny pencil Christmas trees, that was no longer being used for Christmas.  I decided to just leave it up in the dining room a few years ago, and just keep all of my cardinal ornaments on it all year long.  It reminds me every day of loved ones no longer with us.

For Christmas season I do add some red bells, and there are some red silk flower and greenery tucked in here and there.  Each year I try to add another cardinal ornament if I find interesting ones.  I can see the tree from my desk when I'm working so it makes me very happy all year long. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Quilts of Valor update

On Veteran's Day our QOV group awarded 4 quilts to local veterans. I took the photo below to include the ladies who helped drape the quilts. 

The veteran who helps coordinate this Veteran's Day luncheon and program invited former quilt recipients to attend and bring their quilts with them for a group photo.

 Seven previous recipients joined the 4 new ones in this photo.  There were a few who couldn't attend, and a couple who didn't bring their quilts.  This could become an awesome tradition. 

My dining room has become QOV Central.  It was definitely time over the weekend to reorganize our "inventory" of quilts in progress, and quilts ready to award.

There are a total of 6 quilts all quilted, trimmed and ready for binding and labels. The bonus?  A nice stack of extra backing that can be sewn into a pieced backing for another quilt or two.  

The top 2 quilts here were from the QOV tops donated to our group from a group in Minnesota recently.  They are gorgeous, and totally different from the ones we've been making.  The bottom left was made by a member of our group from donated fabric.  And the one on the bottom right is one that I made, from orphan blocks - some donated and some I made as "test blocks".  

We currently have 12 tops waiting to be quilted, and 6 "kits" for additional tops.  We have 4 quilts scheduled to be awarded between Thanksgiving and Christmas and those quilts are all ready for the awards except for labels.  There are 2 more completely finished quilts ready for future recipients.  

Our online request list still has about 9 veterans nominated that we haven't been able to schedule a QOV award for yet.  So we'll be needing all of these quilts.  

Monday, November 13, 2023

Design Wall Monday - Nov 13

 What's on YOUR design wall this morning?  Mine has a lot of Quilts of Valor blocks, but I just had to play with some Christmas fabric yesterday.

Our Sew Vintage group leader demonstrated how to make these folded star ornaments, and gave us each a Styrofoam ball and pins to make one of our own.  I managed to cut and pin all of the little squares onto my ball while watching the Vikings game.  To finish this I need to wrap ribbon or fabric around the "equator" to cover the raw edges, and then add a loop to hang it.  This was a FUN little distraction from red, white, and blue.

I made one of these ornaments many years ago, with the year done in counted cross stitch in the center, but I couldn't remember how it was made.  So it was fun to learn again.  That old ornament will come out in a couple of weeks when I decorate the Christmas tree.

Twelve more Rail Fence blocks were added to the QOV stack.  These are made with 2.5" strips, and are so quick to make.  Sunday I also cut 2 more sets of binding for QOV, and pieced a backing for another one of the tops we have. 

This week I really need to get the Christmas pillow quilted, and the Christmas tree skirt sandwiched.  I may have to stitch together a couple of batting pieces for that skirt.  

Saturday, November 11, 2023

RSC23 - Week #45 - Veteran's Day

It's Veteran's Day!  Thank you to all of the veterans and active duty personnel for your service.  Today I'll be attending the local community Veteran's Day program and luncheon, where our QOV group will be presenting 4 quilts to deserving veterans.  

Over the years I've shared military photos of my dad and uncles, my grandfather, and more.  Today I'm recognizing my niece. Lana is a nurse and retired as a major in the US Army.  She currently works as a nurse in a mental health facility.  A photo she shared on Facebook yesterday is from years ago and features her dog Gabe, who was trained to carry medical supplies in the field.  Thank you Lana for your decades of service. And thank you to her husband Pete who is a retired Apache helicopter pilot, who also gave decades of military service to our country.  

No RSC projects were given any attention this week.  My sewing yesterday was mostly centered around some Quilts of Valor stitching.  At the recent quilt show, one of the vendors had a basket full of red, white, and blue jelly roll strips rolled into sets of 5.  I purchased a couple of them to use for rail fence blocks for Quilts of Valor. 

So far I've used these strips to make 2 sets of 6 Rail Fence blocks.  These finish at 6".  I've added them to a stack of Rail Fence blocks for another future Quilt of Valor.  There are 2 reds and 2 blue strips remaining. I'll find some light neutral to go with them for more of these.

The only "scrappy" sewing that I did this week was to finish another of the Potato Chip blocks.  There are 13 of these hanging in the closet so far.  I'm using the 2.5" by 4.5" chip sections, so the blocks finish at 12" square.  My little box of chips has a lot more light neutrals left to use, but the colors need some replenishing from the scrap bins.  

What's happening in your rainbow world?

Friday, November 10, 2023

Tree Skirt is a flimsy

The Christmas tree skirt is all assembled and ready to quilt.  After asking for some input on that final border, the red one is the winner.

My very first tree skirt, and since I had no pattern for this one I think it turned out just fine.  I saw a picture of a similar skirt online, and just did the math for it myself.  I started sewing with the 12" pine tree block pattern that I already had.  Once it's quilted, then I'll cut the center hole and the side opening, and add the binding. 

A quick little mug rug came to life from one of the scraps. Don't you just love cardinals?