Monday, November 27, 2017

On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt Part 1

Along with hundreds, if not thousands, of other quilters across the country/world, I am participating in Bonnie Hunter’s annual mystery quilt-along. This year, Bonnie’s inspiration was taken from a family visit to Minnesota and Ringo Lake.  The colors she chose were aqua blue, coral/melon, chocolate brown and neutrals of white to ivory. Since I always try to use my stash first, I switched the chocolate brown to dark grays. The colors look great together.

Our first step was to sew dozens of small nine-patches. Bonnie gave lots of great time-saving and accuracy tips for us, and in no time at all, my patches were finished and trimmed. I can hardly wait for Step 2, which will be released on Friday. I’m linking up to Bonnie’s weekly sharing post, HERE.

If you are new to my blog, welcome! I’m an avid quitter who blogs once or twice a week, mostly about my quilting. But sometimes I add in other creative pursuits (stitching, gardening), our cats’ antics, and occasionally personal stuff. 

Meanwhile this week, this is on the design board, just plastered up there. The blocks are only partially trimmed, and I’m just beginning to sew them together. It will basically be a medallion layout using most of the colors of the rainbow. Stay tuned!

And I’m quilting the Tulips quilt this week for a friendChristmas present. I really need to finish it off this week so I can pass it on to my buddy Terri to do the binding. Terri and I both sewed the tulips, then I sashed it. Now it’s basted and ready for quilting.

So much quilting, so little time!  See you back here on Saturday for Rainbow Scrap Saturday!

Cathy maroon

Saturday, November 25, 2017


I hope my American friends enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving. And for those of you outside the US, I hope it has been a wonderful week. We had a small gathering at our house - just Bruce and myself, my brother Steve and my son Shane and granddaughter London. The turkey was huge, and the appetites matched it. London, who is 8 now, helped me by setting the table and making a centerpiece of Thanksgiving decorations. I had made two pumpkin pies, then our wonderful neighbors brought over a huge Costco pumpkin pie as a “just because” gift. Needless to say, Shane and London went home with a pie and lots of leftovers. The weather was beautiful - clear and about 60 degrees, unseasonably warm. Just a great day all around!

I didn’t get much sewing done this week, but it was productive.  First, I finished Rainbow Selvages.

It finished at 60x72”. The backing is a piece of Tula Pink ponies fabric in gray and teal, and the binding is the same gray woodgrain fabric that I used on my Reading Rainbow quilt. I’m glad to have another Rainbow Scrap finish!  You can see other great work and finishes at the Scrappy Saturday linkup at Angela’s blog.

Reading Rainbow was also a Finish-Along goal of mine for 4th Quarter 2017.  It was #4 on the list published here.

And then I got Tulips basted. No quilting yet. With the Thanksgiving prep and celebration, I didn’t even get into the sewing room after Tuesday.

Yesterday, Black Friday, we took down and put away all the autumn decorations. But our first errand was to go to Costco, thinking we would be fighting crowds, to pick up a couple Fitbits (wristwatch-type fitness bands) for daughter Megan and me. We arrived 25 minutes early, thinking there would be lines for the 9:00 opening. But there weren’t. We sat in the car for 5 minutes, then did stand by the door for another 5 (third in the short line that was now forming), and at 8:45 they let us in. No mad rush. We got our 2 Fitbits, plus a couple Christmas movies, and there was not waiting even to check out.

So, we came home and moved the furniture out of the living room and then I vaccumed and we rolled up the big rug. I cleaned hardwood floors underneath and did a deep clean in the living room - shelving, windows, shutters.  Next, we rotated the rug, and then rearranged the furniture to make room for a Christmas tree. The guys brought up the boxes of decorations and the tree.  I did get all the decorations out, but lost steam and took a nap after that! Today I can set up and decorate the tree after I do some grocery shopping.

And then later today I will begin sewing the first clue to the On Ringo Lake mystery quilt from Bonnie Hunter. Fifty nine-patches. Christmas music is now allowed, and I’m excited to welcome back Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli, The Chieftains, and Amy Grant (among others) to serenade me.

Have a wonderful week!

Cathy maroon

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Dark Week, In Color, Weather and Mood

This was another week of dark colors for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Many of us are trying to finish up year-long rainbow quilt projects and making blocks from our dark black, brown and gray scraps. Perfect color choice for November, right? Why not join us over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday.

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“Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”. The saying is taken from a song recorded in 1944 by Ella Fitzgerald (when she was with The Ink Spots) which, in turn, was taken from a line in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem entitled “Rainy Day”. (Yes, I had to look it up).  The line has pretty much summed up the last month for Bruce and me. I’ve mentioned before about a dear friend Colleen who died suddenly in late October and possibly about Bruce’s lifelong BFF who suffered a major stroke but is, thankfully, home and recovering nicely. And now our friend and neighbor - and honestly, a local “hero” - Cal, died this week. He is the one for whom I made a What Cancer Cannot Do quilt a couple years ago. Cal fought valiantly for 7 years, but lost the battle this week on Tuesday, the same day that sewing legend Nancy Zieman died. He was only 52. The rain and clouds this week have matched our moods. Things can only get better, right?  We’re counting on it!

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Back to what you’re probably here for!  These are the only dark scraps I got sewn up this week; 26 bow-tie blocks that will finish at 4”. That brings me to 240 of 304 needed.

I got both the Autumn Sampler and my Rainbow Selvages quilts basted. I should have the selvages quilt finished by next week to show you. I also pieced the tulip quilt top for a friend Diane. This is the one that my friend Terri and I are collaborating on for a Christmas present for Diane. We split the making of the tulips. Here it is without the final white sashing on the top and bottom.

I accidentally cut the vertical sashing 2.5” wide instead of 2”, so the top grew in width by an additional 4”. When the top and bottom borders are added, it will measure 72” wide and 88” long. That’s bigger than I like to quilt on my machine, but it will be perfect for Diane, who is tall. Once it is quilted, Terri will finish up the binding. But one way or another we will get a finished picture to share.

This week I also put together a trial quilt block for a project I’ll be working on next year. I have a huge store of vintage linens, both from my family and from years of collecting (and occasionally selling online). But some were just “cutter” quality, meaning they were stained or had bad parts with holes, etc. I wanted to give them a new life. So, this project will combine sweet little cotton fabric prints with bits and bobs of embroidered and lacy linens.

It will be a jumble of pieces, sizes and orientations. I’d like to make the blocks in sizes of 6, 9 and 12” so that they will hopefully be easier to sew together later. But who knows if the scraps will let me stick to that plan! I would also like to try a combination of machine quilting (in the ditch between blocks) and hand quilting and/or embroidery on the blocks. This would bring an element of crazy quilting into this piece for me, which is something I admit to missing after having not done any for a couple years. 

And finally, to beef up the visual aids on this post, here are some pictures of my “Teddy Bears". Alfalfa and Darla have taken to napping on our bed.  Both of these pictures were taken the same day - one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Because cats are Superstar Nappers.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’ll see you back here next week!

Cathy maroon

Friday, November 10, 2017

Two Flimsies and Some Dark Blocks

Ok, don’t tell me. You want to see the flimsies first. I know I would want to if that was what you posted on YOUR blog. So without further ado, here they are. (For the uninitiated, a flimsy is just a quilt top before it is sandwiched with batting, backing and quilted). 

This is my Rainbow Selvages quilt top. It was originally going to contain just 14 columns, but I added the brown column, extreme left, after adding the planned black and white (polka dot) column on the right. It measures 60x72”.  I like this so much more now that the top is complete. The texture is so much fun!  I have a couple choices for a backing, but have made no decisions yet on that or the binding. I think a fun scrappy binding might be the ticket if I have enough leftovers. Must go stash-diving!

The second flimsy is my autumn farm girl type sampler. Please excuse the distracting blue low-tack tape holding it up (in addition to pins); it is too large for my design board.  I probably should have just let it hang, but it makes it look wonky. 

I am pretty amazed at how this turned out. You see, some of the original blocks were made 3 (or was it 4?) years ago during the Vintage Farm Girl Quilt-Along. I was learning as I went, and the block sizes ranged from 12 1/8"  to 12 3/4”. They were supposed to be 12 1/2” unfinished. So first, some blocks had to be added to and of course everything trimmed. There went some points. And the 1” sashing didn’t leave much wiggle room. But it got done, slowly, imperfectly. Not a competition-level quilt by any means, but not bad.

Then, since I wanted the leaf fabric of the outer border, of which I only had one yard, to orient with the leaves falling down, the cutting was a challenge. That’s why there are cornerstones - there was not enough fabric without them! And then, when it was all sewn up, I measured the top. And nearly fell over. And measured again. The width at the top and bottom were exactly - EXACTLY - the same. Not an eighth of an inch difference! The length at the two sides had a 1/8" difference, which I don’t even care about. How the heck did THAT happen??? Anyway, if it looks wonky now, get over it. It isn’t!  YAY!!!

My plans are to get these two tops basted this weekend and maybe even quilt one. They are both on my Finish-Along Quarter 4 list, so they will get done before the end of the year!

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I want to thank you all for your thoughtful comments on my post last week about gathering and saving ideas for quilting projects (for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and quilting in general). And there were many great ideas and comments about scrap and fabric storage, settings, and organization. Thank you all so much!  And be sure to check out the rainbow lineup over at Angela’s So Scrappy blog. It’s Scrappy Saturday, and there are always great ideas and eye candy over there!

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By early in the week, I was digging into my scraps. Since Dark Neutrals (gray, black, brown) are the color of the month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I sorted all the colors and decided to play with the browns first.

First I made twelve 4.5” (unfinished) bow tie blocks. This brings me to 214 made of 304 needed. I’ll probably do a few dark gray and black ones, but these will carry over into next year.

And then I whipped out the brown strings and made four 8.5” string blocks and sewed them together.  

In fact, I sewed all my string blocks together into foursomes (like above) and took an inventory. It appears I have 12 more 8.5” string blocks to make: 2 orange (to finish up an orange foursome), 2 blue (to finish up a blue foursome) , then two more foursomes out of any of either red, green or purple, depending on what the scraps dictate. It would be quick work to finish this by year-end if I didn’t have so much ahead of it in line. But I may get to it by the end of the year. If not, it will finish up in the first quarter of 2018.

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And how fun is this??  Bruce had the day off Friday and we went grocery shopping together. I spotted these Lehi Roller Mills (a local Utah mill and bakery that makes great breads and mixes, etc) items on an end display at our local (Harmon’s) grocery store. What caught my attention? They are all in sacks of Lori Holt Vintage Christmas fabric! Lori, of course, is a local sew-lebrity fabric designer (for Riley Blake fabrics, also a Utah company). So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the collaboration. 

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Finally, I asked last week if any of you were participating in the Bonnie Hunter annual Mystery Quilt-Along, On Ringo Lake. It appears that several of us are!  Here is my fabric pull. I decided to go with grays instead of the browns that Bonnie suggested, mainly because I have grays. I could’ve gone out and bought some chocolate brown, but I’d rather use my stash. The grays look good with the colors, and it will all look better in our newly-remodeled living room.

Have a great week, and stay warm!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rainbow Scrap Saturday

Last week I didn’t recap my pink scrap progress for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Saturday link-up because I wanted to work right up to the month end.  In the final few days I sewed together my small scraps and crumbs and made 5 blocks of 8.5” (unfinished) which will be saved for use in a future project.  So, now I am ready for my October pink scrappy recap.

The top row upper left is a quilt top I made of 6” vintage sheet squares. It will be finished for donation at a later date.  Then, the RSC pink blocks I made were: 24 Friendship Star variation blocks, 2 selvage columns, 3 bookcase blocks, 21 Plus blocks, 11 string blocks (on was from last year), 5 crumb blocks, 25 bowtie blocks (4.5”) and 3 Geese Migration blocks. My notes also say one miscellaneous block, but I can’t figure out what that is. But no matter, because I’m not counting the vintage sheet quilt top anyway. Total was 95 blocks. Remember, it was a long month!

I also finished two quilts:


Pink Baby Donation Quilt

Then I made 2 doggie pillows for Best Friends Animal Society plus 14 kennel quilts for cats and small dogs. They will all be donated next week. Well, I am holding one back for Darla as she insists that she needs an “office” from which to supervise my work.

October was also good for me in my weight loss efforts. I lost 5.8 pounds, bringing my total to 26 pounds lost since mid-June. It’s slow, but then the weight didn’t appear overnight either. And this is a comfortable lifestyle change, so I am happy with my progress. I overdid it in the exercise department, though. Sheesh, you lose 20-something pounds and think you’ve lost the years along with it! Riding scooters and bikes, mountain hiking and pulling wagons full of kids and pumpkins are things I ought to work up to gradually. My back is taking longer to recover than I’d like, but it’s nothing some ibuprofen and a heating pad won’t fix.

And that brings me to November and our dark scraps. All I’ve managed to do with them so far is get them out and begin sorting. I will be making the final column for my Rainbow Selvages quilt, and maybe some string blocks. And then I’m going to have to find some use for these - maybe just piece something that could be used as a backing for a future donation quilt. We’ll see.

My brother and I scattered my mom’s ashes up in the Wasatch mountains near where we used to picnic when my kids were little. She loved it there. It was a cool but clear day, just beautiful. October 31 - the 11th anniversary of her death. It was also the day of one of my dear friend’s memorial service (in Nebraska). We had just vacationed with her and her husband in September in Colorado, so Colleen was on my mind and in my heart that day too.

Finally, for those of you who visit mostly on Saturdays for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I have a link for you HERE to a post I wrote earlier in the week about my process for collecting ideas and sorting through them and my scraps. I hope we all share a curiosity about where others get their ideas and how they select their projects. To say nothing of scrap storage. Anyway, I’d love to have you take a hop over to that post to read not only the post but the comments. And please leave your comments, too!

Have a great, scrappy week!  Is anyone else planning to participate in Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt this year? Are you going to stick with her color scheme or make changes?

Cathy maroon

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Planning Quilt Projects for the New Year - The Method to My Madness

It may be true that 2018 is still a couple months off, but when it begins, I’ll be weather-bound indoors in my studio, and I want to hit the ground running with my quilting plans.

For me (and I bet for many of you in the northern hemisphere) the first four months of the year are the best time to churn out finished UFOs of the previous year, experiment with new ideas, embark on new plans, and set the tone for the entire creative year. Once the good weather arrives, our attention gets diverted to the garden, parties, vacations, holidays, etc. And before we know it school days, autumn and holidays are upon us once again.

Do you use Pinterest to save ideas? I’d be lost (and so would a few forests worth of wood and paper) without it. Throughout the year I use Pinterest to save pictures and ideas as I come across them. The ideas are not only for quilting (although I have a dozen or more quilting boards), but also decorating - it was indispensable when we remodeled the living room last year - needlework of many types, travel, recipes and other things that interest me. You can follow me on Pinterest HERE.

Sometimes I will pin two nearly identical quilts if they are in different colorways or have a different setting. The quilt police and Pinterest don’t care. I’m continually adding new ideas and even deleting some now and then (as in “what was I thinking?”)  I also have a locked board (meaning only I can see it) called Rainbow Scrap Challenge ideas. That’s where I pull ideas from all my other boards as future project possibilities. I highly recommend setting up your own boards, organize them how you like, and refer to them often. Another great source of quilty ideas is Pinterest user Dorte Rasmussen. She has thousands of pins organized into dozens scores of quilt boards. For antique quilts alone she has 4 boards with a total of over 2300 pins. A.MA.ZING. If you can’t find inspiration there, please check your pulse.

Sometimes as we’re visiting blogs or surfing online, we can't pin a picture to Pinterest. In that case I’ll try to bookmark the idea (like on Instagram, which has a function that will let you do that) or even on my iPad. Check your device to see if it has a bookmark or other function to save that picture to a file.

And don’t forget the hard (paper) resources - books and magazines. Naturally, those get physical bookmarks which I review at least a couple times a year. It’s nice to revisit their content and at the same time weed out things you no longer love.

Sometime in the fall I begin sorting through the pictures (paper and virtual) from all my sources with an eye toward getting them together in one place - the Rainbow Scrap Challenge folder that resides on my computer desktop. Some ideas have come close to being chosen several years (multi-colored spool blocks come to mind), but never make the final cut.

An idea gets double merit if it appears more than once or if it is a bucket list item that I can combine with another idea. Past bucket list goals that I’ve accomplished through the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) have been using vintage sheets, using selvages, and making a Dresden quilt. 

Often I defer items on my Bucket List because my skill set hasn’t grown to include it yet. The best example of this for me is the Storm at Sea pattern. It may be easier than I think, but for now I’m not comfortable tackling it. Maybe in 2019…..

So now you know where I get my ideas. What about you? Where do your ideas come from? Do you, like me, lust after 80% of what everyone else is doing in the RSC? I am ALWAYS pinning your ideas for consideration! Just this year I’ve seriously considered Scrap Jar Stars, Burgoyne Surrounded, Talking Turkey, HSTs with pinwheels, and Lady of the Lake. They will not be part of my 2018 plans, but they’re all still in my Pinterest files and on my Bucket List!


Let’s talk about our scraps themselves, because they play an important role in what projects we take on. Do you sew your RSC projects with ONLY scraps? Or are you willing to cut into an old FQ or (gasp!) yardage to supplement your work? Kudos to those who have enough scraps to last them until the Second Coming, for their cups overfloweth. But for the rest of us, I bet we go to scraps first, but then are not above using other fabrics as needed. Nothing wrong with that! And what do we consider scraps to be, anyway? For me, scraps are anything less than a full FQ or maybe larger if it’s an odd-sized leftover from something.

Do you cut your scraps down into certain sizes? If so, how? Personally, I don’t cut scraps down into strips when they are first assigned scrap status, but I do get rid of unusable areas, selvages (saved separately), and thready edges. That way the scraps can be cut into strings, squares, triangles, etc. when and as needed. There is no right way or wrong way, just what works best for you.

A final question about scraps for you -  do you save other forms of fabric - shirts, vintage sheets, etc. How do you cut and store (and use)  them?


When planning Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, do you consider the SIZE of your scraps (as opposed to just the quantity)? This year I planned too many projects that required 2.5” scraps; Friendship Stars, Plus blocks, Geese Migration and Bowties. It wasn’t a mistake, per se, it’s just that I had to cut so much fabric down to that size. Too many projects were competing for the same size scraps. I had lots of strings and crumbs to use up in miscellaneous blocks (slabs) or to save for later. If I’d planned a project that used larger size pieces, (like my 2016 Dresdens or Cats) and fewer 2.5” projects, I could’ve cut those first and not had so much cutting. Live and learn.

Like this year, the first quarter of the next year will see me finishing up any of this year’s flimsies (Rainbow Selvages, The Plus Quilt and Friendship Stars) that haven’t been quilted and bound by the end of this year. And in 2018 I will be working to finish 3 ongoing RSC projects: Geese Migration, BowTies, and my Rainbow Strings and will need to factor those into my plans. Do you only have certain colors you need to fill in the blanks? I’ve made a special note to sew and cut those first when the 2018 RSC starts.

Ultimately, I will probably choose another 2-3 Rainbow Scrap projects. Also, I remember Angela mentioning that she and Mari of The Academic Quilter have an (optional) RSC Challenge quilt they’re planning for us. We may need to save room on our plates for that!  
The hardest part for me is always the CHOOSING what to work on. I like having a full pipeline of activity, from the planning stage to the binding stage. Luckily, I have a few more weeks before I have to make those hard final decisions!!

I hope that if you’ve read this far you will add your ideas and comments so that others in the RSC can read them. I will link to this post in our Saturday (Nov 4) link-up. Some final questions and/or Food for Thought: Have you begun to plan for 2018 projects, including the RSC? What do you do with your smallest scrap crumbs? Do you use a planner of some sort? How do you keep track of your RSC projects and WIPs?

Quilty Hugs,
Cathy maroon