Thursday, July 18, 2019

Merry Mini Sew Along and new kitten!

Hello everyone,

     Sorry I wandered off again, not posting. Not that I was doing anything exciting! I actually adopted a new kitten on Wednesday. It was a 1.5 hour drive to the opposite side of the state, literally NW to SE, to pick up Rory! He is a 12 week old orange Maine Coon kitten from the same breeder as Walnut. They have no parents in common, just the cattery. Jeanne at Marikoons is so nice, and her cats are wonderful. I have never known such a loving cat as Walnut. And Rory seems to be heading in the same direction. Right now, he's a bit overwhelmed by the adults. But he'll gain confidence by the day.




     He is just a bundle of fun, busy playing all the time. Then he sleeps hard, and gets up running. Anyone who's adopted a kitten knows how everything is brand new and so interesting!


     He was keeping me company while I sewed today. He looks so little compared to my other big kitties. He is a pure bred Maine Coon so he'll gain size fast.

     I haven't been sewing for a couple days, the first trying to kitten proof the house, and then yesterday driving down there and back. Today was mostly a day of rest and letting the kitten explore his new home. I'm so blessed to have these big, gentle cats.
   

     I did manage to sew blocks 2 and 3 for the Fat Quarter Shop Merry Mini block of the month that they are doing on their blog. I have a small number of Christmas fat quarters that are the "non-traditional" modern Christmas colors. I thought these would make this a cute little table topper or wall quilt. (The thin borders shown aren't fabric, they are photoshopped.)

     I'm trying to get the nerve to list my ongoing unfinished projects. I have several right now that are blocks of the month, and several that are follow along in a book, and one I actually go to a local shop for. I'm doing the Saturday Sampler at the Yankee Quilter (www.yankeequilter.com) in Seymour, CT, and you have to attend either the Friday or Saturday meeting each month to get the next block free. It's a really nice bed quilt in purple and green batiks. I'm enjoying doing the blocks and look forward to a new quilt for my guest bedroom.

     I have a baby shower gift to finish up this weekend that didn't quite make it for the shower last Saturday. I need border fabric and it will be done. I am going to add a couple home made stuffed toys as apologies for being late with the main gift. More in the next couple days as I get it finished.

   Hope everyone has good plans for the weekend, and has time to sew.
                                                 
                                                       Take care,
                                                       Mary

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Catching up on A Stroll in Paris

     Hope everyone had a nice Saturday. Our family had a birthday party for my 1 year old great nephew today. He had a "smash" cake, which I'd never heard of. He got the idea pretty quickly. This was fairly early in the process so he's not wearing much cake yet.

   
     I bought a new sewing machine... not that I really needed one but I wanted this one. It is from Janome and is a Quilts of Valor edition (3160QOV). It's a really nice machine with all your basic features and stitches. It has a 25 year warranty, comes with a "quilters" package including a walking foot, extension table, and lots of stitches. I like that it is in support of Quilts of Valor (https://www.qovf.org) and I love that it is super light weight. I hesitate to take classes when you need to bring a sewing machine. I have several choices but they are all heavy. I can't find a weight estimate and I don't have it out of the box yet that I can put it on the scale, but it is very light and easy to lift. Taking classes just became more interesting. I do have 3 local shops that I have become familiar with and will look into their class schedules.

     I did get a bit of sewing time today and continue to work on the blocks for A Stroll in Paris (GE Designs). I have a large selection of fat quarters that I've prewashed. I am making two versions of this project and I'm enjoying the challenge of making two quilts with different looks (check here for the story). It's harder than I thought it would be to choose different fabrics from each color palette for the blocks.

     This set is using a white background fabric from Zen Chic called A Day in Paris Arrows.

Here is block 3, that you make 4 of.

This is my other version, made with the Zen Chic fabric in ivory.

Block 3

     I can see already it will be harder to make each quilt look different as we proceed. I have lots of fat quarters I'm using but they are all, or mostly, Moda and do tend to be in the same color palette right now. Guess I'll have to throw in some Tula Pink to mix it up!

     Well, it's getting late. And a day out in the sunshine is tiring! Not sure what I'll work on tomorrow but it's sure to involve a sewing machine.

     Thanks for stopping by.
     Mary

Friday, July 12, 2019

Mosaic Mystery from Meadow Mist Designs

     I have been saving all the steps for the annual mystery quilt that Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs runs since the beginning. It started in 2014 and this year is just getting underway. Fabric requirements are available, and there is a link up of everyone's fabric choices. I went into my large stash and pulled out some batiks I've been saving for several years. Basically you need 3 coordinating fabrics plus a background.


     I chose 3 very light batiks for the background, to be evenly mixed into the blocks. The 3 main color choices are the dark blue, orange and light blue. I also have a fun orange border print that I will use to make the quilt big enough to fit my long twin bed. This is going to be a cheerful quilt! I know some people really dislike orange (my sister comes to mind 😃) but I like it, especially with blue.

     Today and tomorrow I am working on a embroidery project that is a first birthday present for my youngest great-nephew. The party is Saturday and then I can share photos.

     I have ended up with several blocks of the month going this year. As long as I stay up to date I'll be ok. I always think a block a month should be doable, but then I start too many projects, or I get behind, and there you have it, another unfinished quilt. I'll have to list everything I have going and see how I do. Stay tuned...

     I have just started a spreadsheet of fabric purchases. I know some of you probably don't want to record how much fabric you buy, but I'm curious. I'm at a point where I'm waiting on lumbar surgery, and need both knees done, so going out to a quilt shop for fabric is less appealing than it would normally be. But, I've ordered the same fabric twice, so it's time to keep a list. It will be interesting to see just how much I spend on fabric, too. I may regret this!

     If I don't get a post written till Sunday night it means I'm working hard on the birthday gift. I will be sure to share it once it is given to the birthday boy. My niece posts on Facebook so hopefully she won't mind if I post a photo of him with his gift.

     Have a great weekend!
     Mary

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A quick post

     It is later than I thought, so this will be a short post. I also did not get much done today, as expected. I have been very sore from yesterday's procedure so the recliner and I got reacquainted. I did go out to check on a delivery, only to find 3 tabletops from Ikea. I spotted them on the Ikea website over the weekend that the table tops I want were $8.99. The adjustable legs cost $15.00 each, but oh well, I really want the adjustable ones. The legs came yesterday, sufficiently padded. The table tops today were not.
 The corner of the box was the first warning that all was not well.
     Upon looking inside through the convenient hole torn in the corner of the box, I spot 3 damaged tabletops. These are particle board so that won't sand out. These are a nice size for a workspace next to a machine. The adjustable legs allow you to raise the table to a comfortable cutting height. I'll be contacting them tomorrow to find out how to get this fixed. If I read the fine print correctly, it looks like I'm out the $9.99 delivery charge no matter what. Oh well, next time I will drive to New Haven, CT, where the nearest store is.

     I did sew a bit towards the early evening. Neglected to get a photo of the blocks in process, but they should be finished tomorrow. What I did accomplish today was to serge the cut edges and wash half of the fabric here:
     These are piles of fat quarters and a few half yards that I got all washed. I like to serge the cut edges so they don't ravel in the wash. Plus, I get to play with the serger while fondling fabric. Washing takes out the insecticides and other chemicals that are added to fabric during production. I prefer to wash, then iron with old-fashioned mix with water liquid starch. I use a Faultless Liquid Starch  because it is unscented, and mix in a spray bottle, 1/3 starch to 2/3 warm water. Works great and you can make the fabric as stiff as desired by doing multiple layers. By not ironing directly on the wet starch solution you don't get flaking. Win-win!

     I usually:     1. Spray the front, iron the back. 
                         2. Spray the back, iron the front. 
                             Repeat steps 1 and 2 for a firmer hand. 

     I looked up at one point and saw ears sticking up from the longarm... That would be Walnut in his hammock!

     Isn't this a pretty selvedge? This is a fabric from Cotton & Steel called Rifle Paper Co., Les Fleurs.

     I'll try to remember to count how many fat quarters were in the piles. It makes a pretty display!

Thanks for visiting,
Mary

Monday, July 8, 2019

New GE Designs Block

     Gudrun of GE Quilt Designs released block 3 in the "A Stroll in Paris" block of the month program on July 6th. She asked that we wait to share photos until she released her video for the 3rd block. You can view this at: https://www.facebook.com/gudrun.e.gisladottir/videos/10220221192422688/ and be sure to join Gudrun's Quilt Crew on Facebook to see all the blocks people are sharing. Some are doing colors as directed, but others, like me, are having trouble following directions. I just can't use neutrals and taupe for my blocks.



     This is my oldest kitty, Seamus, who was a skinny, dirty stray when he was turned in to the New Hampshire SPCA. He's a big kitty, about 15 pounds and a lot of that is fur. I spend a lot of time vacuuming fur! He was going to help me trim my blocks but I convinced him I needed the space to press them first. He doesn't like the iron at all, especially when it steams at him.

     I was out this morning and slow to get to the machine today, so I did not make a lot of progress on the blocks. These are the centers of the blocks that I need to square up to 5.5". I am using GE Designs Stripology Squared Mini Ruler to trim my center blocks. 


     I've got arrow stickers at the 2 slots I need to use to trim this block to 5.5". The ruler has diagonal dashed lines that I'm using to position it on the block correctly. Two cuts, turn the mat 90 degrees, reposition the ruler, two more cuts and you are done. Love it! 


     You may notice that the bars of the X are two different fabrics. I am working from a fat quarter collection (large) and did not have enough of either to do both sides. I thought about using 1 fabric for each of the 2 backgrounds I'm doing, but couldn't decide which should have which fabric. So, here's my solution. Both background blocks will have both navy fabrics. One group has this configuration, the other has a solid small flower fabric with the multicolor print in 2 pieces. It wasn't intentional, it just worked out that way. Almost like I planned it! 😄

     This is the trimmed center of block 3. I may not make much progress tomorrow, either, due to a back procedure at 9 am. I don't know how much it will hurt or how I'll feel afterwards. New doctor, new injection. But this is at UConn Health Services in Farmington, CT. We are lucky here with both Uconn Health and Yale within an hour drive. My sister is taking me due to some amount of anesthesia. So it may be nap time when I get back home.

Thanks for visiting! More tomorrow.
Mary

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Stroll in Paris


      No, we aren't going to get on a plane and go to Paris, although I would like to see it some day. I am working on a block of the month designed by Gudrun Erla, of GE Quilt Designs, called A Stroll in Paris. I learned of Gudrun from Facebook, and joined her group, called Gudrun's Quilt Crew. She is originally from Iceland, and now lives in Minnesota. Some of her quilt designs, notably her book Quilts of Iceland introduced me to her quilting methods. Gudrun has developed a method and set of rulers called Stripology that focuses on using precuts, and of easy ways to make your own precuts. Do take a look at her website for her rulers and patterns. She also has regular video chats on Facebook that are fun and educational.

     Gudrun hosts quilting trips sometimes, and a group went to Paris last year. Walking around and visiting sites in Paris has inspired her to create a 9 month block of the month program. Block 3 is just out, so it's not too late to join in. By the way, she is doing a quilting cruise next year, to the Carribean

      My sister and I are going on a cruise this fall with the same organization, Quilt and Cruise, that is sponsoring Gudrun's Carribean trip next year. We're doing the Colors of the Coast Cruise visiting New England and Canadian Maritimes with multiple port calls, and quilting classes on days we're at sea! I'm not familiar with the instructor but her patterns look interesting and we get a kit for each of the 3 classes. Sounds like a great way to spend the days away from land. I get sea sick in a small boat but everyone promises I'll be ok on the big cruise ship. I sure hope so.

     Anyway, back to Paris. The blocks are all inspired by something Gudrun saw in Paris, an architectural detail, a tile, you name it. I've made blocks 1 and 2 and have a story to tell. I enjoy a block of the month but this one was a little scary because the design is a mystery. I like what Gudrun does so decided to try it. Blocks release on the 6th of the month and started in May. I jumped right in and made my Block 1, shown here.
     
     Next, block 2 came out in June. It is a bit different from block 1 and I was having a hard time choosing fabric. I am working from a couple bins of fat quarters, that all basically get along, but some play better with others.

  



    Here is what I came up with. When I posted it in the Facebook group, everyone felt it was pretty, but that it didn't go with my block 1. I agreed but just had a terrible time trying to pick fabric that went better with my block 1. 





 

    



     After watching what everyone else made for a bit, I decided to try again. I think I did better this time. I don't know why I had such a hard time with it. Oh well, done.












     Well, not quite done. Now I have a block 2 without a matching block 1. So back to my fabric bins and I found good choices.

I'm very happy with both sets now.

Except that I guess I'm making two quilts!







Here are the two sets:



Did you notice I'm using the same background fabric in both sets, just one white and one cream. It's called Day in Paris, by Zen Chic. Perfect choice, I thought.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoy what I'm sharing!

Mary



Saturday, July 6, 2019

Goodness Grows

Good Evening,

   Another late night post... I just can't seem to do this earlier. I'm always busy around supper time, then I pick up a bit so the kitchen is clean in the morning, etc. You all know the drill. Anyway, I am also going to seem like an advertisement for the Fat Quarter Shop. This is another project that has come out of the monthly Sew Sampler boxes. There is always some fabric, a pattern, thread, other notions, and a block of the month. This year (April to March) the block of the month is a quilt titled Goodness Grows, and the kit is fabric line from Moda called Strawberry Jam. It also includes a set of laser cut applique shapes for the quilt design. How could I resist? So I've been catching up on the blocks, having waited a couple months to decide on the fabric kit vs. pulling from my stash.



     Then, as I got to block 2, I decided to try the Aurifil 80 wt cotton applique thread as they were offering a coordinated box of colors. I love Aurifil thread so these looked intriguing.

I used a fusible, removable stabilizer underneath the block before doing the machine blanket stitch. I didn't quite trust the fusing so I basted the edge of the block to the fusible stabilizer. I pulled it out after the appliques were sewn down. With a small blanket stitch and the color matched 80 wt thread, it hardly shows. The fusible stabilizer then pulled off the backing fabric very easily without leaving any residue.


 I used to do a lot of machine blanket stitch when I owned Little Lamb Quilt Shop. We carried lots of wool for penny rugs. Sort of out of practice now, but I managed all but the corners well. The leaves were a bit difficult!

Block 3 was simple piecing. Blocks 1 and 2 are 15" square, and block 3 is 7.5" x 15".  We don't know what the final quilt will look like. I have recently been enjoying quilts with varying sized blocks, rather than the same size repeated over and over. Guess I've gotten bored with that approach. All set till next month's block pattern arrives!

Hope everyone had an enjoyable July 4th celebration, and maybe got to see some fireworks. Being new in town I did not know about fireworks, and did not really care. I had the best seat in town for Portsmouth's fireworks all those years so anything here would be a disappointment. I could hear a long series of bangs to the south of my house which I believe was coming from Quassy Amusement and Water Park in Middlebury (https://www.quassy.com/). 

I have something different I'll be working on tomorrow so be sure to stop by.
Thanks,
Mary

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Pumpkins 2

Well, I'm a little earlier posting tonight - it's still July 3rd! (Well, it was when I started typing). I had a quiet day at home today until late afternoon. I had some landscaping done back a month ago and the bushes all need watering every other day.  My sister has been coming to do the dragging of the hose from place to place all month. Friday will be the last time, based on the landscaper telling us to water every other day for a month. So, unless it gets really hot and dry going forward I think all the bushes have made it. But once here, we went out to get a bite for supper.

Walnut, sharing the wealth of fur. I mean, really, look at that tail!

You would think I could have sewn all day but I have allowed the cat fur to take over the house. I have central air conditioning, and central vacuum, so not all that tough to fix. Slightly sad tonight when I realized I'm missing the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, fireworks for the first time in 16 years. We lived in a house right near downtown and could sit on the back porch and watch the fireworks over the South Mill Pond. Mark would also go out on New Year's Eve but I did that one from the living room. So, I moved home to Connecticut  about a year ago and Mark died 3 years ago. Hard to believe how fast time flies!


Today's sewing included 4 more small 5" pumpkins. These were made with multiple flying geese. I tried to assort the prints evenly among the flying geese. I've had a short supply of orange prints but received more in the mail today. Plenty of opportunity to use the new ones!


They look more like pumpkins once they were all sewn together and the bottom corners added. I'm having fun playing with these blocks. More, larger pumpkins tomorrow. Or maybe I'll do something else for a day. Lots of projects and fabric to choose from. 

Thanks for stopping by to see me,
Happy Independence Day!

Mary

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Pumpkins!

I have decided I'm going to take a hint from Suzy Webster (https://www.websterquilt.com/) and try to post something every day. I usually spend the late afternoon/early evening working on something. And I have the habit of multiple projects active at a time. I'm not even going to mention all of the projects I have on hold.

I have been a subscriber to the Fat Quarter Shop monthly Sew Sampler Box for a couple years. I do try to make the projects each month as they arrive, but I'm not always successful. I am a notion junkie so I love to see what fun things are in the box. The projects are often smallish, and quickly made, and always cute. Some months I order more fabric of the box line so that I can make the quilt project larger.


I am bringing this up for a reason. I purchased this pattern, Witches Night Out, a couple months ago and I'm working on it now. I am fond of fall and Halloween is my favorite holiday to decorate for. With the pattern booklet, I got a starter fat quarter bundle. I found a nice background fabric in my stash, and off I go!


I remembered I had the Alphabitties letter and number tiles in a drawer, having received them in a Sew Sampler Box. And I recently ordered the design board to use when laying out a specific project. The board is 18" square and the surface is felt so your pieces will stick a bit. And the letter tiles combined with it gave me a very organized (and I like organized) method of cutting and marking all the pieces needed for the 4 small 5" pumpkins.






The pumpkin blocks have so many seams it got a little tricky to get the block flat. Also, to get the chevron pattern to work you needed to match your points between sections just so. You can see the 1/4" end of my purple thang I used to check the seams.













Of course, Walnut felt the need to be front and center during my cutting. He is such a love, draped over my lap like that.




Here are my finished four chevron pumpkin blocks. They are 5-1/2" and will measure 5" in the quilt.

I love all the different sized blocks in this project. And several blocks are individual Halloween images, including a cat, a bat, a cauldron and a witch's hat.

I will continue working on blocks for this quilt as I have a little sewing time and nothing pressing to do.

Thanks for taking the time to look at my posts. I'm glad I'm finally getting back to blogging. It makes such a great record of what I am sewing at the time of the post.

I have several original patterns that I need to get sent to QuiltWoman to be published. Perhaps we'll do a sew along using one of them once I get it published.

Thanks for visiting!
Mary

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Welcome Back!

     I basically disappeared when I moved to Connecticut last summer. It's been slow going to get settled into my new home. I'm actually adding on a quilting studio this summer, planned to be 20 X 45 feet. I thought the little ranch I bought would be plenty of room. I neglected to consider that I was getting a longarm machine delivered once I arrived. So right now, I have no living room as it's my sewing room. Works, but I can't have family or friends over until I have somewhere for them to sit, other than the kitchen table. Luckily my nephew is a contractor and will do most of the work himself. And I'm in a little 4,000 people town with no zoning so there are no issues as long as I keep it under 1,000 square feet. I've been to Ikea to look at furniture and storage solutions. This is going to be good!

     I am also facing back and knee surgery in the next few months. Just working out the order so that I can get some pain relief. The combination has kept me pretty close to home, but I did get to the Vermont Quilt Festival last week.

     I was very happy to get a space in Pepper Cory's It's a Wrap class. In this we learned about the Japanese way to wrap purchases in cloth rather than carrying them in bags. She also shared some of the history of sashiko, and we did some stitching. My piece isn't finished yet, but this is Pepper's class sample. I'm half way through the sashiko and will then finish it up.

 







     I also took a class with Brigit Schuller titled Holes as a Design Element. This was a very interesting class with an unusual approach to the piecing. I didn't make much progress in class but will definitely continue working on this. Sorry, I don't have a photo of my work in progress, and haven't unpacked from the weekend yet. I'm using all different shades of blue/blue-green batiks with some chartreuse thrown in.



     When I moved here last summer, as a treat for myself, I bought a purebred Maine Coon kitten. Up till now I have always adopted, ever since the first cat I chose for myself. But I had fallen in love with the photos of a kitten from a breeder in Mystic, CT, Marikoons Maine Coons (http://www.marikoons.com/). That kitten was being called Walnut (the nuts litter) and I didn't think to give him my choice of name as soon as I'd chosen him. So Walnut stuck. He is now just a year old, and the best cat I've ever had. So affectionate and intelligent. Handsome, too!


     These are my two rescues above, Nosey and Seamus, with Walnut in the middle. And Walnut showing off his tummy. The boys like to help me sew (ha, ha).



This is Rory. 



 Rory and his two sisters.



He will be coming home later this month. I think the old guys will thank me because Walnut will have someone else to chase!


Future Plans:

A favorite embroidery site, Sweet Pea Machine Embroidery, www.swpea.com, is just starting a 6 month machine embroidery class, all online, teaching various techniques but specifically "in the hoop" projects. I have a few years embroidery experience, but there are always new things to learn. I have signed up for this and will share the projects as they become available, every 2 weeks. They are providing an instructional video with each design but I will give tips for each specific project. The first is this mandala coaster shown left. Please join in and sew along. There is an active Facebook Group for Sweet Pea Embroidery.


     Well, that's enough news for tonight. If you are looking for the Ruby McKim 101 Patchwork Patterns, that will be starting up again shortly. If you would like to join this sew along, click the 101 Patchwork Patterns menu tab at the top of the page. You can get started on the 14 blocks we've done while I look for the project box containing these blocks!

Thanks for visiting,
Mary