Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Rainbow Scrap Finish

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas Season is now upon us. I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. Ours was quietly spent at home, just the way we prefer. But later this weekend comes the task of taking down the seasonal autumn decorations, admittedly pared back from previous years. After a good dusting and vacuuming, we’ll start in with the Christmas and winter decorations. Now that it’s past Thanksgiving, Christmas music is officially allowed in the sewing room. And let the silly seasonal Christmas movies begin! Oh yeah, and the shopping too. Ugh.

I did finish one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilts this week. It was made from the “waffle” blocks I started in January. The individual blocks were 5” finished, but I grouped them in blocks of four. Several blocks I made over the course of the year were oriented incorrectly (the verticals and horizontals were switched), so into the Block Orphanage they went to be adopted (or adapted?) for some future project.

Waffles finished at 40x50” and will go to Quilts for Kids. I quilted it in a simple stipple. The backing is this wonderful wide print from Connecting Threads, which also folds over and becomes the binding.

In addition to finishing Waffles, I basted two other string tops in dark neutrals (plus color), which will finish up my work with dark neutral scraps for this year. The first top uses the 27 brown string blocks I mentioned but didn’t show last week, (plus others in my stash) and some green string blocks. This is next up to be quilted and will be finished before month end.

And then there is this string quilt in shades of gray with red and navy blue. It’s a rather masculine quilt, and so I made it larger (48x56) than a baby quilt so it could go to an older boy through Quilts for Kids. 

It’s probably not a color scheme I would have put together, but I had some strip sets in grays and reds from the stash of strips and scraps I got last month from Quilts for Kids. You can see some of the strip sets in the picture below. They are the narrow dark gray/light gray/dark gray/red sections in the two leftmost blocks below. I added blue and just went from there, clearing out a lot of unloved strips in the process.  

Like the brown and green strip block quilt, this one will be quilted and finished before month-end. I’ll show them both next week. 


I couldn’t help it. It seemed we needed more gray elephants, so I dug through the dark gray chunks and found enough to make two more Ellies! If you’re overly observant, you may notice that their hind quarters are a close match, but a different fabric from their forequarters. And if you didn’t notice or can’t see it, good. Never mind. That brings the gray and brown elephant herd to ten blocks this month. Elephants will be taking the month of December off, but will be reasserting themselves in January!


It was time to start some Christmas sewing. Alfie and Darla have been waiting patiently for their new Christmas quilts for their beds. Yesterday their wait was rewarded. I used leftover 10” layer cake squares to make 20” square (give/take) quilt tops. Pink for Darla, Blue for Alfie. 

The backs are both the same cute and festive Christmas cat fabric I picked up this year. 

Here is Alfie checking out his quilt. He liked it right away (can you just see the excitement emanating from him? LOL) He did curl up and sleep on it in the early evening. 

Darla has so far ignored hers. When we went to bed last night, she was curled up in Alfie’s bed. I don’t know if that’s a statement against “new”, against pink, or against the fact that her bed isn’t heated like Alfie’s is. Oh, the drama!

Another item on my personal Christmas sewing checklist this year is to make us a pair of pillowcases out of this reindeer fabric I’ve been holding on to for a couple years. It’s not sewn yet, but I will add the leftover red cat fabric for the cuffs and a black strip for the accents. Because, you know, reindeer and cats just go together. At least, in my world. 

So, when I finish the pillowcases and two quilts, I’ll move on to the Christmas quilt I cut out last year for us. My plan during December is to hopefully finish the Christmas quilt, plus another Rainbow Scrap quilt (I’m thinking Spring Stars), my pink and yellow Ring Around the Roses quilt (from February!), and possibly another Quilts for Kids string quilt finish. It’s a good thing I’m retired! 

Have a great week!  Linking up to Scrappy Saturday.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

A Herd of Elephants

I used to tell my kids when they clomped through the house that they sounded like a herd of elephants. And when the kitties thunder through the house playing (often at 3 a.m.), we say they sound like a herd of elephants. I’ve actually seen a herd of elephants in the wild (Kenya, 2018) and they sound nothing like the kids or the cats. But I’d never SEWN a herd of elephants until this week.

In nature, elephants are usually limited in color. But in my sewing world, you’ll be seeing a rainbow variety throughout the next year. I’m hooked on making these wonderful beasts! This month, I’m working through my neutral scraps (mostly dark neutrals) for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. So the result is a total of eight new ellies to add to the two green ones from last month. Come join me, the elephants, and lots of other creative scrappers over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday!

First I made two gray elephants. I tried to use an ivory fabric for their tusks (because gray would be redundant), but it didn’t show up too well. That’s OK; they’ll be safe from poachers, LOL! Note their paisley ears; these must be Asian elephants. 

Next came four brown elephants with curly-print ears. I love this color combo, so I made four. I even managed to keep the subtle stripes aligned vertically! Their gray tusks show up very nicely. I’ll be using gray on all the rest of the elephants I sew.

And then because I have no specific plan yet except to make lots and lots of elephants so that I can sew several quilts-worth of them, I made two more. These are obviously from yet another herd, as you can tell by their square-ish circle print ears. The one on the right has a wonky front leg - I’ll need to do some minor surgery to fix that. 

The pattern for these elephants is Stomping Ground by Wendy Sheppard. 

As was my goal, I did manage to baste, quilt and finish up the three kids quilts for Quilts for Kids this week. The first one was the Cornered Strings quilt that finished at 40x50”. 

These are 10” blocks, and are a free pattern from The Long Thread blog, here. I’ve seen a couple other of the RSC ladies making them too. I plan to make more string quilts from this pattern, but will probably set them 5 across by 6 down for a 50x60” quilt.  This was really fun and I can see myself playing for a couple weeks or more with them this winter. 

I also made a real dent in my brown scraps with the following two finishes. First is the 16-patch quilt using the bazillion brown chevron scraps that I was given from Quilts for Kids.  First is Chocolate Checkerboard, finishing at 40.5”x48.5”.  I laid this (and the next) quilt out on the grass, which is still green (!), and it is really lumpy. The grass, not the quilt. The color is off in this picture - there is no pink in this quilt.

The final quilt, finishing at 40x51” is another QFK donation quilt using strips and a leftover block from my two Masala Box quilts. 

The backing for both this quilt and Chocolate Checkerboard was this brown toile print that I’m happy to finally have found a use for. 

In the next week I’ll be putting together a green and brown string quilt. And that reminds me that I forgot to show you the 27 brown string blocks I made (no picture). No worries - you’ll see the quilt next week. I’m also cutting out and beginning to sew more Zipper blocks because my daughter Megan claimed my Zipper quilt. And then there are two little Christmas kitty quilts and my own Christmas quilt - blocks cut out in 2020 - to begin sewing. Never a lack of projects, UFOs or scraps around here!!

My daughter Megan flew home to Washington State on Monday evening after visiting with the family here in Utah for five days. That very night, her 16-year-old cat Lola (who is two years older than her other cat Iggy) became very ill. She vomited and was having trouble breathing. Long story short, Megan and Ted had to have Lola put to sleep. Heart failure. Meg is devastated. It’s been an awful week for her between the unexpected family drama with her dad, and then Lola dying. All this while she is going to school and working 3/4 time. 

Bruce and I are planning on a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home, having turned down a couple invitations. I plan to - what else? - sew and start a new book and fix our favorite Thanksgiving turkey casserole from Melody at Fibermania blog (now discontinued).  We’ll also have cranberry-orange relish, homegrown green beans and pumpkin pie.  What are you planning? Will you be doing any Black Friday shopping this year? However you spend your week and your Thanksgiving, I hope it’s happy and healthy.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Finishes, Family and Felines

Wow, it’s been another crazy busy week. I am actually looking forward to things slowing down next week. All the sewing and quilting I did this week happened from Saturday through Wednesday. Once Thursday rolled around, my daughter Megan arrived for a five-day visit from Seattle. So there have been family visits, shopping, restaurants and lots of hanging out. She’s heading over to her dad’s place later today and will be there until he takes her to the airport on Monday. 

On Thursday evening, we had a full family dinner at our favorite Bavarian-style restaurant and brewery,  The Bohemian. The lighting was bad for photos, but we did take a few as we were on the way out. 

Granddaughter London and me

My kids Shane (London’s dad), Megan and Ryan

It was an interesting and hilarious evening with a lot of reminiscing and laughter. 

Bruce spent two days this week volunteering at a company called Motion Control that makes electronics for prosthetics. He actually worked with Motion Control during his working career with Symbion and University of Utah /Sarcos as they developed medical devices and prosthetics. MC was hosting an event for current and future prosthetists to come and learn to cast and fit the missing limbs of amputees. There were people from as far away as New Zealand to learn, but most of the amputees were local. Some had lost arms, some arms and shoulders (the shoulder joint), others had lost a leg or forearms. Accidents, fires, cancer. The amputees were giving back, helping the technicians identify nerve endings, sitting for casts for prosthetics practice, and more.  Bruce even ran into a guy at Motion Control that he used to work with back in the day, and they laughed about the irony of Bruce  having once been on the science end and now as an amputee using that very science. 

Now let me show you my finishes. First up is the quilt I finally got bound and finished for my granddaughter Lauren. I showed some of the leaf and vine quilting in my last post. 

Framed Pinwheels finished at 61x75”. The fabrics were mostly by Lella Boutique for Moda, but I added in a couple others as well. The backing was a lovely yellow floral. You can see it in the border and the turned corner of the picture below. 

The second quilt I finished was Dinosaurs for Brody.  First we took pictures outdoors. 

I used an ombre fabric for the background because I thought it added some interest to the small, repeating Dino squares. The Dino squares themselves were framed in alternating orange and yellow strips. 

The top and bottom strips and binding were also from the ombre fabric. The backing was a dinosaur footprint fabric from the same line, all bought several years ago on clearance. I quilted it with a tighter-than-usual (for me) stipple, and I think it added wonderful texture. The quilt finished at 40x52. 

Both the dinos quilt and the Rainbow Cats quilt have now been turned over to London’s other grandma. I wouldn’t let her pay me, so she brought me this beautiful poinsettia as thanks. I’ve never seen one in this color before, and I think it’s drop dead gorgeous!

Unfortunately, our silly cats keep trying to eat them (they’re poisonous), so now it’s put up way high on top of the vitrine (china cabinet) where they can’t reach it. This was their reaction to that.



Last but not least is a shot of the 16-patch brown checkerboard quilt I’ve been working on. It turns out that I only needed 35 blocks instead of the 42 I mentioned last week. And I had so much fun pairing different colors with the never ending brown chevron print and then sewing them, that I just whizzed right through them. They were quilted with loops, and now I’m ready to trim and bind. 

This will be a finish this afternoon. I also have two more quilts all basted up and ready to be quilted (the one with brown strips and the multi-colored Crossed Strings). So I’ll have at least three finishes by next weekend!  Once those are complete, I’ll begin working on brown string blocks and brown elephant blocks. If there’s time after that, these waffle blocks, sewn this year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, are next up.

Thanks for dropping by!! See you next weekend…

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Rainbow Cats is a Finish!

The title would be more accurate if it said Rainbow Cats IV is finished, because this is the fourth quilt of momcats and kittens that I’ve done over the years. But who really cares, right? I’m just excited that this is finished for Xander, my granddaughter London’s cousin. And I’m ready to quilt the dinosaur quilt for his brother Brody, but I’ll talk about that momentarily.

Rainbow cats finished at 58” square and I quilted it in simple loops on my Bernina machine. The backing, which I don’t have a picture of, is just a cute wide-backed black and white cat print. I’m holding up the quilt while Bruce single-handedly snapped the picture. (He only has one arm so has been retired as quilt holder, LOL)

Rainbow Cats was stitched along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) this year, each litter when its color turn came. I purposely made two yellow litters and omitted pink since it’s for a boy. I’m linking up to share at Scrappy Saturday.

I love the quilt picture, though (even if it’s a bit washed out by the sun), because you can see the beautiful blue sky and our nearby mountains. What you can’t see in the above picture, however, is the tree. So I snapped a picture of that in all it’s autumn glory a bit later in the day.

Last Sunday as I was starting to sew, my iron died. It was a 3-year-old Rowenta that was heavy, and I hated it. It didn’t die without first spitting out a lot of black gunk all over the fabric I was ironing. It did wash out, however. So I ran off to Target to get a new iron. It was a toss-up between Target and Home Depot. I wanted just a good old cheap Black and Decker iron, because those have always been reliable and durable for me. Target had three irons. And by that I don’t mean they had three types of irons, they had just three. Period. Two were Rowentas at $64.99 and $79.99. HA! I wouldn’t buy one at any price. So I got the only other one they had - a $29.99 Hamilton Beach. I’m not going to use water in my irons anymore (I’ll use spray bottles instead), so hopefully this will work OK. It’s actually very sturdy without being heavy, and so far I quilt like it. 

Now, in the background (the design board) of my iron picture, you’ll see an in-process photo of the dinosaur quilt for Brody that I mentioned above. The top is sewn and the backing is ready. I just need to baste and quilt (and bind) it. My plan is to do that on Sunday so that I can hand it over to DGD London’s other grandmother on Tuesday. 

I’ll chat more about it next week when it’s finished. By then I will also have finished up the quilting of my DGD Lauren’s quilt, which we’ll give her for her high school graduation. That’s the Framed Pinwheels quilt that I started last summer when we visited Missouri Star Quilt Company, and whose progress was so rudely interrupted by the basement sewing room flood.

Here’s a peek at the quilting Framed Pinwheels. Lauren plans to major in ecological engineering with a minor in PSC (Plants, Soils and Climate). So I quilted her quilt with loops and leaves and vines. 

This will get its binding this weekend, so it will be another finish to share next week. So many “almosts” this week!

For November, I plan to devote my RSC sewing to my brown scraps. In November 2019 I did two quilts that combined black, gray and browns. Last year during November, I did one brown/blue/gold quilt and two gray quilts. This year my browns are threatening to burst their drawer, so I’m going to knock them back! 

So, up on the design board I have ten 16-patch blocks. They’re just pinned up there, so excuse the wonkiness as some are overlapped for the picture. I had So.Many.Pieces. of the two-tone brown chevron scraps from Quilts for Kids. They were only large enough to cut one or two 2.5” squares from. I was able to get over 300 squares, but only enough to do 41 out of the 42 blocks I’ll need for a quilt. And because they were individual pieces, I can’t strip piece them. But I am being careful to keep the zig-zag oriented in the same direction in every block.

Anyway, because I came up slightly short, I’ll just have to use some other brown for the last block. Or maybe I’ll insert an 8” plain block to give it some interest. I mean, really. How exciting can a brown quilt be? We’ll see. I’m trying to sew two blocks per day, in between other things, which would have me finish the blocks by the 21st or so.  

And then I’ve got all these brown strips that will go toward making another outdoor/camping theme kid quilt. As usual, my process starts by slapping things up on the design board to see if what I have covers enough area to make a kid quilt. This will work. I’ve even got an extra Masala Box block in there. Actual sewing and trimming will start later in the week. I may spice it up with another rusty orange stripe. You know it’s bad when “spice” means rusty orange, LOL!

Sometime during the week I hope to tackle the first of the brown elephants. I want to do several, since I have lots of brown chunks large enough. And I may even rummage through the gray for elephant fabric, too, as the month progresses. Then there are strings and crumbs to deal with, but I can’t even think about those yet...  

Have a great week!