Saturday, July 30, 2022

Quilt Finishes and Blackberries

July has been busy, hot and purple this year. I’ll get to the last of my purple sewing momentarily, but since I’ve got a lot of pictures to share, we’re going to get right down to business here, starting with blackberries. Blackberries are really dark purple, you know. And we have a very prolific bush to prove it. 

Look at the size of some of the berries!  We’ve been eating them for most of July. Purple was certainly the most appropriate color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for July for me. And the Rainbow Vegetable Challenge too! (Hehe - I just made that up …)

There’s been blackberry jam, blackberry shortcake, a rhubarb-blackberry pie (so yummy!) and lots of good ol’ plain sweet blackberries just to snack on by themselves.

We baked with them, froze them, shared them and we’re still not done. Well, almost, but not quite. 

And now raspberry season is here, so I see more fruit in my future. 

OK, *now* we can talk about sewing. Last week I showed the first four of these Little Brick blocks designed by Sylvia of Treadlestitches. At that time I had two blocks going in one direction and two blocks going in the opposite direction. I decided I’d make them all with the same orientation, so I corrected two of the first ones then a sewed up seven more for a total of eleven. They’re 6.5” blocks (unfinished size).

And then I finished up two purple crumb placemats. Um, exCUSE me, Mr. Cat!

Ok, this is better.  I’ll be linking up with Joy’s Table Scraps monthly Linky party (I typed “tinkly" party first, hahaha!)

Last Sunday, Cousin Kim and I changed up our usual sewing day. Since she was dog-sitting for her daughter’s family, we sewed at her house. The easiest thing for me to pack up to sew was my multi-colored string bag.  I made sixteen 6.5” string blocks before we switched to puzzle-making!

I continued my personal string party the next day, making 17 more, for a total of 33.

Next it was time to get serious about quilting the four small-ish quilts waiting in line. And boy, were they ever nagging me to quilt them!

First up, the quilt top made with the red, pink and purple Bullseye Courthouse Steps blocks that I’ve been making for this year’s RSC. Julie K of Julie’s Quilts and Costumes sent me the coordinating fabric for the border as it needed to be widened just a bit.  Thanks again, Julie! 

There was enough of the fabric to use (with red and purple inserts) for the back and binding, too. I just love how this quilt turned out. It measures 39x48.5” and was quilted with a basic stipple.

Next up was the Purple Windmills quilt. The dotted fabric (a scrap of an oldie designed by Kate Spain) was the color inspiration for this quilt. I noticed that she is a designer/seller on Spoonflower, and this fabric is now available again from her there. Notice that I snuck in some old selvage scraps in white.

Purple Windmills measures 40x48”, and was quilted with a basic vine loop design. The backing was a 2-yard piece that I picked up a couple years ago in Nucla, Colorado (verrry rural) at a consignment store for $2.  

Then I decided to tackle the two tops that Julie sent me to finish and donate. We agreed that a Ukraine charity was most appropriate, and they will be donated to Wrap Ukraine with Quilts (by Hello Cottons) in early August. 

This first quilt was my favorite. It measures 39” square, and Julie’s piecing is immaculate. I decided to quilt it a little more densely than I usually do, so I made a little loop in every square. I was able to quilt all the yellow squares in one continuous pattern, with yellow on top and in the bobbin. Then I did the blue squares in one continuous pattern, but had to backtrack once to get a few missed squares when I lost my concentration. For the blue squares there was blue thread on the top but I stayed with the yellow on the backside. 

Julie’s second Ukraine quilt, also a stunner, measures 48” square. I had ordered special backing for this, but when it came it was turquoise instead of dark blue. So, I reverted to Plan B, which was a lighter blue backing. 

I’m afraid I didn’t do this quilt justice with the basic stipple. Hopefully, the eventual recipient won’t care.  :-)

By then, my brain was pretty much fried for the week. I did manage to sew the elephants and border fabric for the pink, purple and green elephant flimsy. But then I ran out of week. 

It may be a couple days, but I’ll update my Community Quilts tab and my 2022 quilts tab to add all the July finishes. Today, Saturday, we’re going to clean up the patio - blow it off and put things away. Shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. There’s also the pull of the Farmer’s Market and the in-season raspberries. Then we may head over to Barnes & Noble for a coffee and book date. 

Life is Good!

Friday, July 22, 2022

A Predictable Week

Predictably, it has been hot as Hades. Predictably, if it rains (and it did, twice this week) it’s just enough to wet everything down and mess up the clean car. And predictably, you can find me in my sewing studio every afternoon, sewing away on my weekly goals. Bruce is either reading or playing in his workshop, and the cats are taking their afternoon naps (not to be confused with their morning naps or their evening naps or . . .)

This week I played some more with my purple scraps, turning out 6 Bear Paw blocks. It’s purple month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge

The bigger one will finish at 9” and the other five will finish at 6”.  I decided it was time for all the Bear Paw blocks to have a family reunion on the design board. My secret objective, of course, was to see what “family members” needed to be constructed, and in what sizes and colors.

This not a final layout by any stretch of the imagination. I want the quilt to end up roughly 42x48”, so I’ll be needing several orange blocks, a bright blue to replace the lighter blue just right of center, and some more red. And I may replace those dull pink 3” blocks and the dark greens. A couple months, at least, to go on this.  In fact, several blocks may get replaced with brighter colors. Or, I may just expand the size. Who knows?!?

I also made a row of crumb tumblers (alternated with simple cut purple tumblers) for my Rainbow Tumblers quilt. I didn’t get a picture of it before sewing it to the dark blue row.  Sorry about the vertical picture; it will be a row, not a column in the quilt! 

On Wednesday, I spent a lot of time basting quilts - three of them, in fact. Of those those 3, I can show you one now. This is one of my purple quilts, from scraps I kitted up at the beginning of the year. The picture is just the flimsy.

The blocks measure 8”, so this will finish at 40x48”. I hope to get this quilted along with three others in the coming week so that I can show them to you before the end of the month. 

But I do have a finish to share - my Hearts for Ukraine quilt. Finally!

This fun quilt was a Bonnie Hunter free pattern. I changed the border so I could use up most of a blue and yellow jelly roll I’ve had in my stash for a couple years. The quilt finished at 54x62”. I quilted it with loops and hearts, except for the border which utilized the pieced squares as guides for crosshatches and loops. 

The backing is a chambray from a gently used cotton sheet. Below is a closer shot of the border and binding.

Of course, no quilt is really complete until it’s been inspected by one of the feline overlords. Here you can see Darla, carefully attending to her work. 

And how exciting to capture the *exact* moment that she purrnounced it worthy!!

Since I still have so many purple scraps, I thought this would be a good month/week to test out some new blocks for RSC2023. I’ve had my eye on several blocks, and keep potential ideas in a personal file on Pinterest. 

This first block is Overlapped Nine Patch, from Lynn Dykstra of KleinMeisjeQuilts. I believe Cathy L of Sane and Crazy is making these as well. I love these blocks. The top one doesn’t have enough contrast between the fabrics. But in the grand scheme of an entire quilt, it hardly matters. Lots of quilt makers do that intentionally.  However, I’ve decided this will not be an RSC project for me, but eventually a personal quilt down the road.

The second block, Little Bricks, was designed by Sylvia at Treadlestitches and introduced earlier this year during the Hand2Help drive. I had it saved in my idea file, but when I saw the cute blocks that Jenny  made, it moved its block to the top of my list. Here are my four.

Starting now, this is another RSC project that will continue through next year.

But wait, there’s more!

I pieced two elephants this week. Only one is shown below in the closeup. These wild print elephants serve as Color Coordinators (an official position!) for the elephant quilts I’ve been making.

Here are the blocks slapped up on the design wall. I haven’t sewn the sashing yet, but the elephants and borders are cut. 

This is one of the quilts I’m hoping to get sewn, pin basted, quilted, etc. before month end. So, I’ll be predictably in my sewing room for the foreseeable future!  Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Community Quilts

I’ve decided to start an occasional mid-week feature on my blog highlighting Community Quilts that I’ve finished. What is a Community Quilt? Well, it’s when someone sews up blocks or even an entire quilt top, then donates it to some person or organization (usually a charity) to be finished. That finishing may include everything from sewing blocks together, to basting the quilt (putting together a “quilt sandwich” with top, batting and a backing), to quilting the quilt, to trimming, binding and labeling the quilt. 

A recent quilt I made with donated scraps (not a Community Quilt)

Through my work with Quilts for Kids, I have done a lot of finishing in the last several years. Most of our group’s finishers own long-arm quilting machines, which can do large quilts manually, automatically with the push of a pre-programmed button, or something in between. I have a small Bernina domestic (home) sewing machine, so I only quilt small to medium quilts. Once we got enough volunteer long-armers in our  Quilts for Kids group, I switched from quilting to being the Scrap Lady, because we get as many scrap donations as we do fabric donations. Now I’m one of 2 or 3 scrap ladies, but I have a lot of online friends (through the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and other link-ups) and generous donors who send me scraps, blocks and quilt tops. Additionally, I signed up with Jo Kramer of Jo’s Country Junction to help with her Community Quilts program. Jo and her daughter Kayla are prolific published designers and quilters. They usually have something featured in one of the popular print quilting magazines at any given time. 

Back at the end of February, Jo sent me 21 quilt tops to finish and donate. The only stipulation is that I provide her with pictures as they’re finished so she can share on her blog. One quilt top was too big (at 54x72”) for QFK, so I separated it into two quilt tops of 36x54”. I’ll add a border on each side of the 36” to bring them up to a workable youth size. So, that makes 22 quilts in this first batch. Today I’m showing quilts #1-3.

This cute little top was made by a wonderful group of women in Cresco, IA.  In fact, all three of them were. The batting, backing and binding all came from my stash. The green polka dot backing (picture below) matches the front better than the camera makes it appear. The binding is a cute red polka dot. The quilting is a basic loop. Because I’m all about KISSing (Keep It Simple, Silly!) 😘

Quilt number 2 is perfect for an older boy. The theme is motorcycles and it uses a plethora of scraps in a very creative whole!

I made the quote backing with two pieces that match the colors of the front. Quilted with a large stipple.

The third and final quilt of this first group is another one with animals. You can click on the picture to enlarge it. It’s just a basic large patchwork of two fabrics. But isn’t it cute? 

The backing was some yardage that my friend Claudia in Washington sent me. The theme and colors are perfect!

These have all been donated to the Salt Lake Chapter of Quilts for Kids. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Purple-ing Along

The summer has settled into a nice routine. As expected, it’s been hot and dry. We had some rain on Thursday (.03 inch), which was a nice soaking for the garden and yard, but nothing of note beyond that. Then yesterday was muggy and humid - 38%. You midwesterners and easterners will probably laugh at that, but believe me, the heat is easy when it’s dry. We keep our thermostat at 79 in the summer and are never uncomfortable.

What a heartwarming and humbling week it was in the sewing and quilting department. (Yes, there was  more wonderful stuff going on, but my blog focuses primarily on my quilting. Not solely, but mostly). 

I received a package from Preeti as I was one of two lucky winners in her recent giveaway. Preeti is an Island Batik Ambassador (and believe me, with her creativity, they are lucky to have her!). My prize was four gorgeous half yard cuts of these lovely winter batiks from designer Kathy Engle. 

(Photo from Preeti’s blog)

My plan is to use these to sew up some lovely winter pillowcases later this fall. Thank you so much Preeti (and Island Batik!)

And just as I was done drooling swooning admiring those fabrics, a box arrived from my Rainbow Scrap Challenge friend Julie K (QuiltsandCostumes), who is a very talented quilter and a generous soul. She had offered to send me some fabric to match the purple, pink and red bullseye log cabin blocks in my last post. Then she wrote and asked if I was interested in a kids quilt that still needed to be put together. Well, sure I was! When the box arrived, it contained the aforementioned fabric and quilt top/backing/binding, but also two other quilt tops! Color me amazed at Julie’s generosity (and perfect piecing)!! Thanks you sooooo much!

Here’s the kid quilt top - it’s an adorable robot-themed fabric in a stack-n-whack design.

I’ll take more (and hopefully better) pictures when I quilt this one up. It will go to Quilts for Kids, of course. Here is one of the two blue and yellow quilt tops that Julie sent. It’s the smaller one of the two. I pieced a backing and got it pin basted this week. 

Just beautiful! I didn’t get a picture of the larger quilt, but I will. I ordered some backing this week because I had nothing left that was remotely satisfactory. Those two yellow and blue quilts, along with my Hearts for Ukraine quilt (which is next up for quilting), will all end up going to Ukraine. We have a local quilt shop that is a collection point for Hello Cottons, which is running a program called “Wrap Ukraine With Quilts”.  It will happen before month-end.

It occurs to me that I need to begin documenting these “Community Quilts”. You know, the tops that other people donate and I finish up. So, beginning with my next post - which will be on Wednesday - I’ll be adding a tab to my blog header for Community Quilts. Wednesday’s post will feature the first three quilt finishes that I’ve completed for Jo’s County Junction (with plenty more waiting in line). Julie’s quilts will go there when finished, too, as well as any other miscellaneous quilts from our QFK chapter that I quilt now and then as a favor (we mostly have long-armers for that, but sometimes the backing isn’t large enough to be loaded onto a long-arm machine). 

Now, what did I actually finish this week? How about a purple frog quilt?! This ¾ yard scrap of purple frog fabric was part of a lot of various critter fabric chunks I bought from Wanda Hanson, quilter extraordinare, when she had her last destash. 

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see that this rather darkish fabric also has orange, blue, brown in it. I decided to use those colors to liven it up a bit and use up some more of those dang selvage half hexies. (At least their numbers are dwindling. in fact, I may have only some selvage columns left. But I digress.)

Purple frogs measures 36x45” and was quilted with a basic stipple using a variegated purple thread. The backing is two smallish leftover chunks of a Kaffe checkerboard and a metallic ombre purple. I’m out of labels for Quilts for Kids, as I mentioned before, so I’ll make a trip to our President (Sandy)’s house to pick up a couple dozen more labels and drop off 146 (yes, I counted) string blocks from the last couple months. The string blocks (whether made in solid colors or mixed prints) are used in lots of 15 in quilt kits for members to sew up. 

And I did get some purple blocks made this week. Thirteen bow tie blocks at 4.5”:

And nine more elephants. When added to the two elephant blocks I made a couple weeks ago (using that beautiful streaked paisley print), they make a herd of eleven. 

I will be assembling another elephant quilt top this week, as soon as I finish sewing one more ellie out of a print fabric that combines the greens and pinks together. Stay tuned!

Speaking of elephants, we renewed our adoption of two elephants from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I was able to visit the Sheldrick elephant nursery (twice!) when I was in Nairobi, Kenya in 2018. Ever since then, we’ve maintained ties with them by “adopting” two elephants every year. (And my annual calendar is always from them as well!) This year, we renewed our adoption of Larro -our third year with her -a female “mini-matriarch” who recently graduated from the nursery to the Ithumba Springs Reintegration unit. We also adopted a young bull (less than 2 years old), who was recently orphaned through human-wildlife conflict in a drought-stricken area. His name is Choka.  I invite you to check out the site and read some of the amazing stories of their animal rescues (that also included rhinos, giraffes, etc). 

Aaaaand finally, it was our 19th anniversary this week. We had a lovely dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and skipped the cards and flowers, as we always do. Bruce is in the process of being fitted for a new arm. The forearm of his current prosthetic and the elbow socket will be re-used. But the upper arm will be new, better-fitting after the two years of body/arm changes) and more streamlined now that he’s no longer a “beginner”. And it’s all covered by Medicare. Life is good, and we are so grateful.

Linking up to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Sew Much Fun!

Last Saturday, we  had a “double header” with family. On Saturday morning, we went to son Ryan and DIL Kim’s house to visit with Grandson Easton, who was home for 3 days over the Independence Day holiday. You may remember that Easton is in the Navy, stationed as an officer in South Carolina studying Nuclear Engineering. We had a lovely couple hours over brunch. The only picture I managed to get between all the laughing, talking and eating was this one of Easton with their family cat, Emmett. They have one other fluffy elderly cat named Bella, but she was in hiding.

Then in the late afternoon we took my other son, Shane, and granddaughter London out to dinner to celebrate Shane’s birthday. Shane’s pick is always Red Lobster. London is on the brink of becoming a teenager, but she and grandpa Bruce still have a lobster naming tradition to maintain. The restaurant has a tank of live lobsters. But none of us chose Levi Lobster or any of his friends this year. After eating, we came back to the house and checked out the garden. Our blackberries are ripening, and there were several ready to munch on. Yummy! 

On Monday I harvested all my snap peas. The only reason they lasted this long is because we had a cool, wet spring. We’ve been enjoying them in stir-fry’s and as snacks. I also harvested the last of my rhubarb and have chopped and frozen it to make compote later (and possibly a rhubarb-blackberry pie!)

So this week I really dug in to reduce my purple fabric scraps since purple is July’s color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I found a purple scrap that I’m absolutely nuts about and made two elephants. I may have to keep this pair, because I love them so much! I can always figure out something to do with them later, like a wall hanging.

I’ll be making at least a half dozen more elephants next week. Next I decided to knock back all the strings. First up for those were 12 bullseye courthouse blocks:

After I made these, I quickly made two more of these blocks in red, so that I’d have enough to combine the red, purple and pink courthouse blocks for a flimsy. Here they are slapped up on the design board. I was tickled that the colors worked out so well for alternating dark/light blocks as well as consistent diagonal color stripes.

These blocks finish at about 7” each (-ish), so I may need to add a border along the sides. I’d love to find a print that combines the three colors, but that’s not likely to happen. And I haven't even thought about a backing yet.

Speaking of backings, that reminds me of a wonderful box of scraps and yardage that I received this week from my friend Nann. She often comes upon great sales, thrifting deals and fabric destashes and makes it a regular practice to “share the love” with some of her quilty friends.

So these are some of the treasure Nann gifted to me. She knows about my sewing for Quilts for Kids, so there were many kid themed backings, yard and half-yard cuts and generous scraps. In fact, many of those scraps pictured in the bottom right of the collage picture have already been cut up into Zipper block pieces for QFK quilt kits. Thank you for your generosity, Nann! Your gift will help me (and others) to help comfort kids in need.

Now let’s get back to our regularly-scheduled scrappiness, because I’m not done yet. It was another HOT week, so There was a lot of time spent in my cool sewing studio. In fact, I cleared out all my purple strings. First, I made these rich purple string blocks (6.5”, unfinished size). 

After I photographed these 25, I sewed two more. That gave me 27, which when combined with the 3 purple blocks I had left over from last year, were enough to make two 15-block kits to be used with a print fabric for a QFK kit. I love that I can pass on the blocks in 15-count batches and they get paired up with other cut fabric blocks into a patchwork kit for members to sew into a quilt.

The pastel purple strings were handled separately this year. I divided them into red-purples and blue-purples and made four blocks. I tried to make them the same so they could be laid out in a pattern like this. I don’t know why I did it, but it was a fun exercise. Here they are with the blue-purple to the center.

Then I rotated them so the red-purple was in the center. If these blocks look funny, it’s because the paper backings are still attached. 

So, that was fun, and I did four more in a similar vein. But then things fell apart because there just weren’t enough scraps to continue playing that game. So, I just finished up the rest of the 15 blocks with a mix of the warm and cool strings.

The final project for the week was to take these scraps 

and sew them into this quilt top:

Do I love it? No. Will it suffice? Yep. And it is square (straight), even though it looks wonky pinned up on the design board. The purple and orange check print will be on the back, along with another remnant of fabric. I’ll show it next week when it’s finished.

My goals next week are to have at least two kids’ quilts finished, plus a half dozen elephant blocks and  the bow tie blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (Purple July continues!) 

Have a good week, friends. I’m off to the garden to smother squash bug eggs in Vaseline. The fun never ends here!