Saturday, January 25, 2020

Creature from the Green Lagoon

Winter has been treating us pretty well so far. It has rained and snowed here, which is good from a water standpoint. And the snow is usually overnight or when we don’t have to travel. So naturally, we appreciate that. Of course, I’m declaring our appreciation to the world because I’m hoping that if the weather gods are reading, they will spare us the nasty blizzard on the day we leave town in a couple weeks. We’re making our annual trek to Arizona to visit family, and last year we had to postpone our departure by a day because of the conditions. Do you think they will be reading my blog? Right. Me neither...

So, I got a lot of quilty stuff done this week. We had our first Quilts for Kids (QFK) workshop of the new year last weekend, and it was fun as always. Because we knocked out the quilting of our 200+ backlog of quilts in December, I was actually able to just sew. I checked out a quilt kit (Gumby-themed, because Gumby’s creator lived in our neighborhood in So Cal when I was growing up. I went to school, with his daughter Ann. Literally, we sometimes walked together to school, although she was a year behind me). Sorry, I digressed there. Anyway, at the end of our QFK workshop, I did get three quilts to bring home and baste, quilt and bind for next meeting.

I finished a couple other quilts last weekend or early in the week. If you didn’t see my last post, you can check it out here, or just look at my Quilts 2020 tab just below the blog header. So, let’s move forward from there, shall we?

My two most recent finishes are two donation quilts. The first, shown previously as just a quilt top, is now done.  It’s a simple brown with blue polka dots fabric made from scraps donated to me by a friend.

It finished at 36.5 x 50.5”. I wasn’t that crazy about it, but after just a basic stipple quilting and a run through the laundry, it crinkled and softened up so much that I fell in love with it. Seriously, this fabric is at least 15-20 years old, and I can’t believe the texture and feel of this little quilt.

Next, the Gumby quilt was finished. There were two different orange fabrics in this kit, and they behaved differently in the wash. I’m not as thrilled with how this turned out, but some kid will love it I’m sure.

This was quilted with just a basic serpentine crosshatch for the body of the quilt and a herringbone loop motif for the green border.

And then it was time to get down to business and finish up the flimsy of the scrappy green quilt. The January color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) is light and bright green. So, I wanted to use up my scraps and as many orphan blocks and bits/pieces as possible. I pretty much got everything in there. The blue strips along the sides will be the binding. They’re just pinned there for show. I’m hoping they will frame the quilt nicely, echo the blue in the inner border and provide sufficient contrast and interest. And also frame up those floating selvage “planets” (hehe) at the top. Yep, I even used those selvage circles from a couple weeks ago! I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

There is plenty of wonkiness built into this quilt, as I fiddled and cut pieces and wedges to squeeze in to make the math work out. But I did it! The backing was sewn up yesterday, so this will get basted over the weekend.  I’ll also be basting up two more QFK little quilts and the pink and green checkerboard quilt (#15 on my Finish-Along list on the blog post I linked to above).

I’m calling this green scrappy quilt “Creature from the Green Lagoon." This monstrosity sweet quilt seemed to take on a life of its own, so it felt apropos. I’m not sure if I love it or not, although I have to say it was both fun and a challenge to fit all these scraps and leftover blocks and bits into a semi-cohesive whole.

And now, some gratuitous kitty photos.  First, Alfie. He loves nothing more than to snuggle up with Bruce.

And here’s Darla. Miss Darla used this picture as her audition picture for a new feature film called “Downton Tabby”. She tells me she won a lead role playing Lady Kibbleton.  (wink)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

First Quarter Goals and Two Finishes

The Finish-Along, which is a global effort of the needlework community, is at least 6-8 years old. In that time, it’s grown in size so that as of this year it’s being held exclusively on Instagram. There we can link up via hashtag, both for goal-setting and goal finishing. It’s much easier for those who tally the results. There are prize drawings at the end of each quarter, and everyone who finishes a goal gets an entry into the drawings for each completed goal. I’ve already published my list on IG for this quarter, but I wanted to share my rather ambitious list here for for my blog readers, and to help keep me accountable.


1.   Pineapples Two

This is a quilt that’s been on my list for over a year. I keep recycling this picture, but in reality I have lots of these yellow strips sewn into strip sets and cut. I just need to start assembling pineapples!

2.  Nine-Patch Madness

This was a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project for 2019, and I have all the blocks in all the colors made. It just needs to be assembled, etc.

3.  International Sisters

This is an ongoing project. Each month I make several of these Sisters blocks in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) color of the month using African fabrics. Most are earmarked for small wall hangings (as the backing to African fabric) for a Harambe Humanitarian fundraising effort. However, I make one or two blocks every month (not in African fabric) for my personal quilt, which I’m calling International Sisters; the donation quilts are called Harambe Sisters. Here are a bunch of Sisters in all types of fabrics:

4.  Lemon-Lime

This is another one that I’m anxious to sew for the daybed in the guest bedroom. We finally got the room painted late last fall. Then I had carpal tunnel surgery, and then the Holidays came. Now I can get back to work in there; specifically, cleaning the carpet, rearranging the furniture and hanging things back on the wall. AND MAKING THIS QUILT.

5.  Low Volume Strings and Things - FINISHED 2 OF THEM!

The cutting is done. Doesn’t that mean I’m about halfway there? 

6.  Garlic Knots

I still need to sew a couple colors of blocks for this one. I’ll sew either when we get to them in the RSC, or when the mood strikes me. Garlic knots is a long shot for this quarter.


I do a lot of quilting for Quilts for Kids, but I only count as finishes those quilts that I sew from scratch myself, then quilt and bind.

7.  Little Orphan Scrappy - FINISHED! (Read on)

When I first published my list on Instagram last week, this was still an unquilted top, as I was waiting for my Bernina to return from its annual servicing. The quilt is a mash-up of various orphan blocks in my stash, pulled together to coordinate with some inspiration fabric.

Now it’s a completed (and donated) quilt. Here’s the final shot showing it with its scrappy border, complete.  It measures 42x48”.

The back and label:

8.  Another Kitty Quilt for the Grandcats - FINISHED! (Read on)

Again, this was just basted at the beginning of the quarter. Now it’s done. It measures 42x48”. It was my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for January. I’ll be linking up to the OMG Finished Goals post at Elm Street Quilts.

The backing fabric is more of the cat food cans in a different color way. The wide stripes in this one are aqua; the first one I made (in December) had lime green stripes.

9.  String Stars (multi) - FINISHED!

Another string project for QFK. This one will have varying colored stars with multi-colored strings. This is what I have already:

10 -11.   On Ringo Lake. (2 quilts)

This has been on my list forever. To move it on, I’ve decided to make two smaller quilts (rather than one huge one) out of the blocks I have on hand. One will be a straight set and one will be on point. The picture below is what it looks like at the current time. Most of that will get unpicked and reworked. Maybe I can rekindle my interest in this one to get it off my plate.

12.  Brown and Blue Polka Dots - FINISHED!
Blogged about HERE.

I’ve shown this one on the blog. The brown fabric was donated to me. Some of it was cut in squares and the rest was in a couple smallish pieces. I added the aqua blocks and made it work. It’s awaiting its turn to be quilted.

13.  Green Scrappy Quilt. - FINISHED!

Another one shown on the blog. It’s actually farther along than the picture below shows. By the weekend I should have a finished flimsy to show, and may perhaps even get it basted by then.

14.  Harambe Sisters Quilt

See my remarks under #3.

15.  Green and Pink Patchwork Quilt - FINISHED!

This is another project I’m finishing up for a friend who donated the cut blocks to me. She also donated all the leftover fabric, so I’ve already sewn the blocks for the front and pieced the back. And the dark green bindings are also cut. This is actually ready to be basted, and there was only a couple hours of work involved.  The fabrics are at least 25 years old!

16.  Panel Quilt for Quilts for Kids (QFK) Challenge

In between all my regular sewing (and quilting for QFK), I’m going to try to finish up a quilt for the QFK panel challenge. Maybe add a couple blocks or borders? They want us to keep it simple, as we had hundreds of kids quilt panels donated. The goal is for the chapter to get them all done this year. Last year we completed and donated (to hospitals and EMTs, etc) 2,004 quilts. This year, in 2020 our goal is at least 2,020! Anyway, each finished quilt earns an entry into a quarterly drawing for some lovely fat quarter bundles donated by Quilts Etc.  I checked out two panels would like to finish them both, but am only listing one in my goal list.


17.   Aviary Collage Wall Hanging

I’m a bit apprehensive about starting this one. This first picture is the final Aviary project, as designed and made by the talented collage artist Emily Taylor (from whom I took a class last year).

Unfortunately, this is what MY quilt looks like so far.

Yeah. Ugh. Sorry about that. I just pulled it out and snapped a pic of it, wrinkles and all. The pieces are just pinned and they are not permanent. I haven’t really introduced this on the blog yet, but when I do, I’ll show you my fabric and planned color scheme. It will get better, trust me.  :-)

18.  Another Color Scrap Bin - FINISHED! 
Blogged about here.

I’ve done one in green - made of scraps and made to hold scraps. Now I’d like to do one in blue. Or pink. Actually, all the colors, but I’ll see what the next chosen scrappy color of the month is for February or March.

That’s my list. It seems like a lot to do in a quarter, and I realize I can’t get it all done. But remember that most of these are smaller projects, and many are half or almost done already, Let the finishing begin!!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Sewing Like the Wind

More snow here this week. And that was great because it gave me a chance to stay indoors most of the week and SEW. And I sewed like the wind!

Let’s talk green. Light and bright greens are the colors this month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and I’m linking up to Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday. There is so much color and inspiration there from all the participants.

First up for me this week were the string blocks. I had a lot of green strings and ended up with 16 blocks measuring 6.5”.  I sewed these on my back-up machine over last weekend.

On Monday I got a call from the service department that my regular machine, my Bernina, was ready to come home from her annual checkup and tuneup. So we went to pick it up. The service notes told us how they cleaned the inside, adjusted the presser foot tension and reset the internal stitch counter. There were 2.5 MILLION stitches put on the machine in 2019. Holy moley! All Bruce could say was “No wonder there are so many threads all over the house!"

Here are six International Sisters blocks. I’m still sewing these from Preeti’s pattern. Two of them will be for me and the other four will go into wall hangings I’m making for Harambe Humanitarian, a Kenyan non-profit organization that I became involved with when I went to Africa in 2018. The jungle fabric was a gift from my friend Sally.

We interrupt this blog post for an Impurrtant Announcement from Darla. She would like to remind you that any house decoration done with stray sewing threads is vastly inferior to all the beautiful furs she (and brother Alfie) bestow upon us on a daily basis. This concludes our public service announcement.

Ha! What Darla didn’t mention is how she and Alfie happened to notice that I had not totally sealed a ziplock bag with some balls of embroidery thread inside the other day. In a matter of mere minutes, there were two balls of perle cotton missing.  I noticed it when I went to rethread my needle to finish embroidering the cord on this Farm Girl hand mixer block.

You’ll notice that the cord is embroidered with different colored threads. It wasn’t until I’d finished stitching the block that we found the missing thread balls strung all over several rooms. Darla and Alfie looked totally baffled and innocent (but come to think of it, they always look totally baffled and innocent...)

Getting back to green fabric sewing, it was time to tackle some tiny scraps and crumbs. I’ve been wanting to make some of Angela’s scrappy baskets (tutorial HERE) for awhile now, and this is the year that it’s happening. Her tutorial is very thorough and the process came together very easily.  I love it! Thanks, Angela!

Now my green scraps have been liberated from their plastic drawer and henceforth will reside in style in their own little bin. Isn’t it cute? I just quilted it with a simple serpentine stitch. The remaining scraps (no, I didn’t use them all) have lots of room.

And the picture below shows the basket in situ. As I use up fabrics and downsize a bit, there will be room to put the scrap baskets on the shelves with the folded fabric by color. At least, that’s my theory. Im hoping that by the end of the year I can use the emptied set of plastic drawers to stow the sewing supplies that are currently in a big, heavy desk that I want to get rid of.

So, I’ll be making these scrap baskets every month for awhile!

Once those projects were done, I began playing with green orphan blocks and green scraps from the Parts Department. With the bazillion half-square triangles (HST’s) I had, I made several pinwheel blocks. I pulled in 8 green cracker blocks, the 8 selvage log cabin blocks from last week, 10 of the 16 string blocks and various other parts. The goal is to get some sort of cohesive quilt out of this mess. The color will help tie it together, but so far the only part that’s actually sewn are the 8 central cracker blocks with the little checkerboard trim between them and the white strips along the side. Everything else is just pinned.

This block play will get some attention this week, but I know one thing for certain. Somewhere in there I have to add a pop of a different, unexpected color. I don’t know what that color will be - red? purple? orange? blue? We’ll see as this moves along.

I have a lot more to share, but I’m going to cut this post off here. I’ll be back in a couple days to show you more sewing stuff, not the least of which is a couple quilt finishes. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Green Scrappy Sewing

This was a good week for staying indoors to sew. We had several snowy episodes throughout the week, although down here in the valley it doesn’t accumulate much these days. Along the foothills and in the mountains, though, they’ve had a very white January. So, sewing it was! I did break for laundry, housekeeping, errands and our weekly date night out to eat. Oh, and to pay attention to the poor neglected cats. As anyone who is owned by cats knows, one must pay proper homage to the royalty.

I started the Rainbow Scrap green month of January working on my selvages. My plan was to make some wonky selvage log cabin blocks, and I showed one of those last week. I ended up sewing 8 of them at 6.5” each, but they took absolutely forever. And my selvages looked like they hadn’t been touched. Oy.

I would’ve had to make 2,354 log cabin blocks (that may be a *slight* exaggeration) to use up my selvages. So, I switched to Plan B.  Perhaps using one of my Accuquilt dies like last year, when I did tumblers, would be the ticket. So, I tried some circles.

Nah..... What the heck am I going to do with a bunch of circles besides appliqué them to blocks. And I don’t like appliqué. Plus they didn’t use any selvages to speak of, so Plan B was a bust. Those circles have made some new friends, however, in the scrappy block orphanage. On to Plan C.

Now we’re talkin’! These are half hexagons that measure 4.5” across the top and 8.5” across the bottom. Lots of straight sewing and cutting, and a super selvage eater!!  They will be sewn in rows either vertically or horizontally (no inset seams), so there’s lots of potential here. That left me with just some smaller selvages, which necessitated Plan D.

Columns of 4” wide selvages. These can be added in to an orphan block quilt down the road, or whatever. Again, lots of possibilities. And that finished off all my green selvages, at least for 10 minutes or so... which brought me to the firm decision that this is the LAST year I’m going to sew selvages. I have to tell my friends at Quilts for Kids (who save them for me) to stop. There are just too many and I don’t want to spend a week every month sewing selvages together.  I’d rather be digging into my fabric stash and making a major dent in it.

So, I’ll continue just this year with my selvages every month; 8 log cabins, lots of half hexies, and then the rest in 4-inch columns. What I accumulate (inevitably) between now and the end of October, along with what doesn’t get used, will go to some unsuspecting person who might like to play with selvages themself. I’ll mention it again toward the end of the year and you can speak up then.

So finally I got to sew with fabric instead of selvages. What a concept! First thing I made were these 8 Twin Sisters blocks, which measure 6.5” unfinished.

And then I made a 16” block called Scraptastic Stars, which is a pattern from Melissa Corey at Happy Quilting. I have to confess, however, that I didn’t buy a pattern because it’s so basic - I just figured it out and sewed it on my own. I’ll make one of these blocks for 9 months, and that’ll be large enough for a kid’s quilt.

After all that green, I needed a break. So, I finished sewing the blocks together for this Little Orphan Scrappy quilt.  Can I say how much I love this? It measures 42x50”.  I’ve also cut the backing for it, so now it’s ready to be basted. Quilting will have to wait until my regular machine returns from the spa.

About that time, another Squirrel project scampered across my path. One of the shelves in one of my fabric storage bookcases came loose and fell off its supports (it has been fixed). But I had to take all the fabric off the shelf and fondle stack it up to fix the shelf. I found some already-cut brown polka dot 5” squares and matching fabric that one of my Weight Watcher friends gave me a few months ago. It was buried there with some matching turquoise fabric I’d pulled. What was I to do? I cut all the turquoise scraps there and tried to come up with a a quilt top using only what I had. It’s not a real looker as far as quilts go, but it’ll keep some kid warm and use up some unloved fabric.

It took less than 90 minutes from start to completed top. And I had a blue fabric that will work for the back and some that will work for the binding. Bam! (I love saying that, you may have noticed that recently). So that is the second quilt in line to be basted and quilted. It measures 39x51”.

Cousin Kim and friend Bonnae came over on Wednesday for sewing and we’ve all decided to sew on some Farm Girl Vintage blocks together. Bonnae started the house block and I started the hand mixer block. Kim hasn’t quite decided where to start yet, although she wants to do the animals, truck, barn, flag and a few others. She wants it all in her head and planned out before she starts. I get it.

Have a good week, friends! I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s blog.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Kicking off 2020 with some Creative Goals

Forget the usual New Year’s Resolutions!! Why bother? With anything that has worth on a long term basis (spending time with family and friends, losing weight, becoming more active, eating healthy, giving of one’s time or talent to charity), most of us do our best to incorporate those things into our daily lives anyway. At least, I do. I may find new way to do something occasionally, or perhaps to tweak routines with aging or the seasons, but basically those priorities form the framework of my life.

So since this blog is mainly about my creative pursuits, with occasional sharing of family and other personal stuff, let’s get right back to the nitty gritty.

Once again, I’ll be participating in One Monthly Goal (OMG), a year-long creative online link-up run by the talented Patty Dudek of Elm Street Quilts. Each month we set ourselves a goal of finishing up some old project, and then post again at month-end to show what we’ve completed. This is my third year participating. Last year in 2019, I set a goal every month and finished each one. Twelve for twelve! Woot!

For my January 2020 goal, I would like to finish this “UFO” (unfinished object, for the uninitiated). It’s another kitty quilt for the grandcats. They got a similar one at Christmas, but this one has aqua stripes in place of the lime green.

As I write this post, it’s already quilted but doesn’t have binding. My Bernina 550QE (“Bernadette”) needed to be taken in for its annual spa treatment, so I got all the quilting done on these three small quilts. Now I can finish up the bindings and start the January Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks on my backup machine, “Bob”, the Brother Innovus. There is a method to my madness.

The other two quilts (in front) are just small kid quilts for Quilts for Kids. I didn’t sew them, but I’m one of the ladies who does the quilting and binding. You can see that these have the backs cut 1” larger all the way around. We just fold over the backing and do a self-binding by machine. In 2020, I plan to continue quilting and sewing for our local Quilts for Kids group. I enjoyed learning to load and quilt on a longarm quilt machine last month, and when the opportunity arises to use one, I will. However, most of the time I’ll just be using my trusty little Bernina to quilt.

While waiting for Angela to announce the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month on January 1, I decided to trim my low volume scrap strips into widths of 1.5”.

The strips are in preparation for joining in with Scrapbusting Star challenge over at Em’s Scrapbag. I’ll be working to reduce some of these low volume strips over the next few weeks.

FINALLY January 1st arrived. No partying here. We stayed up until midnight, hugged and kissed in the New Year, then went to bed. End of story!

Light and bright Green is the January Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month. We’re saving the darks and drabs for later. When working with selvages, however, I combine all greens. Anyway, my first block is a selvage log cabin.

Because the strips in the block will be determined by the width of the selvages, the block isn’t  intended to be perfectly symmetrical. I’m just going with the flow. And this time I’m trying the regular method of joining fabric strips; that is, flip and stitch. Usually with selvages I join them by topstitching them together and leaving a raw edge. This time I want more of the color to show. I’m still using a very short stitch length (1.5), however.  There will be many more of these blocks to come!

The contrasting light portion of the log cabin blocks will be drawn from my bags of white and black or gray selvages. I have a few. Here are some with the greens for this month. The mini-iron is shown for scale.

Next week I’ll introduce more of the RSC blocks I’ll be working on over the course of the year. I haven’t had time to make them yet. But I did get my green scraps sorted (and a bazillion little half-square triangles sewn together), which is a feat in and of itself!

Finally, I want to show you another Rainbow Scrap project I’ll be working on this month in between RSC blocks and other things.  I’ve had this piece of fabric in my stash for a couple years. Although the colors matched the recent Newport Butterflies quilt that I made for Kim, and I considered using this 2-yard piece for part of the backing, the style did not match. What to do? I decided to use it to pull from my stash of orphan blocks and put together a scrappy quilt.

I had one lone 10” Geese Migration block left over from the Geese Migration quilt I made a couple years ago. That seemed the logical place to start.

I also had 80 Cracker blocks (at 7.5”) from last years Rainbow Scrap Challenge. My first intention was to sort the blocks into 2 separate color ways to make two quilts for Quilts for Kids. But no matter how I played with them, they lacked pizzaz; I was not feeling the love. So, I pulled the Cracker blocks in red, pink, purple and aqua to match the fabric above.

After adding a white 2” strip around the center block, I grouped the Cracker blocks in the four corners, and this is what I got.

Yes, this is feeling better! By adding another white strip around the perimeter, it brought the measurements up to 30x30”, which meant I could then work with my 6” orphan blocks for the next step. So I pulled all my purple, red and aqua orphan blocks. I left the pink out, because actually the pinks are more just the shaded reds in the fabric. I have plans for them later.

Hmmm..... putzing around on the design board. I obviously need to distribute those blocks better. And it looks like I’ll be a few blocks short.

The four red blocks were moved to the corners. And then I cut a few blocks from the focus fabric to fill in the missing spaces. Yes, this will work....

And this is where I am right now.....

When sewn as shown, it will measure 42x42”. I may add some of those bitcoin strips (at the right edge, and the red strips are not shown). If I do, I’ll add them at the top and bottom only so that the little quilt will measure approximately 42x50”. A good size for a kid donation quilt. The backing will  be the matching fabric. I’d like to get this top done this month.

And that catches us up on the sewing front. Cousin Kim and friend Bonnae and I went to see Little Women on New Year’s Day and had a blast. I’ve been eating too many French fries and too much popcorn over the last couple weeks, and will be so glad when my Weight Watchers meetings resume next week and I can restore some routine into my eating habits. And then I must begin preparing projects to take along on our annual Arizona trip next month. More about that later in the month...