Category Archives: RSC Challenge

Projects, Projects, Projects

I am currently working on lots of different projects. I don’t normally do this but I am enjoying it. It allows me to enjoy bits of the process, depending on what I am in the mood for (piecing, trimming, stitching etc.)

I have been hand stitching the binding on my Square Dance quilt. I found a cute red and yellow print on a sale table that works well with this pallette. Picking this up in the evenings and stitching a bit is perfect. I brought it up to Downieville over the weekend for some hand sewing but only worked on it for a short while. I should have it finished up by the end of the week.

image

Knowing that we were going to be up at the house in DV, I made a little curtain. In our bedroom, there is a door leading to a tiny room which will someday be a sewing room. For now, it is where Ray keeps his tools and supplies for all of the work he is doing on the house. But someday…. it will be a perfect place to sew. This door has a window that I wanted to cover for privacy. The sewing room has windows that one can look through to the bedroom. I used a great piece of Tula Pink in gray and blue. I took the photo at a weird angle because the sun was coming through and when I took it straight on, the colors were way off.

image

Now that April is here, there is a new color for RSC16, orange.  Not at all my favorite color, I was surprised to see how many scraps I had to work with. Last night I worked on “making” fabric (as discussed in “15 Minutes of Play” by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.) It is coming together well.  I had a patchwork block left over from RSC14’s quilt so I unpicked some seams and used bits of patchwork for the new blocks.

 

image

These colors will add a huge pop to my scrappy HST quilt. I won’t use them for the Gemstones  quilt though. After a little back and forth with Cynthia Brunz, she suggested swapping out orange for a deeper rust (think of Topaz gems). I love this idea but don’t have enough choices in my stash. I will pick up a few FQ’s for this.

Finally, I made huge progress on the Stepping Stones QAL that I am doing with Jennifer over at Inquiring Quilter. Participating in the QAL has been the perfect way to keep me on task. After many years of working to a deadline (which is so common in the HR world) I am finding that having the deadline is really helpful to me. I have pieced the 143 HST’s needed. I also cut some extra charms. After counting what I had, I came up slightly short. Take a look at these black and white FQ’s that I picked up to supplement my charm squares with.

FullSizeRender (1)

I love all of these! The fabric at the top is a Tula Pink which I found interesting – I don’t think she uses black and white very often. It is gorgeous though.

2016 Advice and Tech Helpfor New Quilt Bloggers

Finally, I want to let you know that signups are open for the 2016 New Quilt Blogger session with Quilting Jetgirl, Late Night Quilter and Meadow Mist Designs. I participated in this activity last year. If you are relatively new to the quilt blogging world, I highly recommend participating. It was a valuable experience offering tips and techniques that taught me so much. Working with a large (we had about 70) group of bloggers, I became acquainted with many new bloggers. Opportunities were available which helped to push me to learn and grow (such as the block hops sponsored by Paint Brush Fabrics.) Be sure to check out the information at any of the three websites I have linked to and see what if this is right for you. If you have questions, leave them in the comments. Here are the criteria for participating in this event.

  1. If you have been blogging mainly about modern quilting (modern quilting to you is modern quilting to us.),
  2. for less than 2 years,
  3. writing at least 4 posts a month,
  4. are willing to agree to be actively involved in the blog hop through visiting and commenting on the other blogger’s hop posts,
  5. and have or are willing to open a Facebook account to participate in the group discussions.

**If you are interested, sign up here!

Hope you are all having a wonderful week. Springtime is certainly long in coming to the east coast but we are in full swing on the west. My lilacs are fully blooming. I tried to cut some for inside the house but the fragrance was powerful and I couldn’t leave them. We were all sneezing after just a short while!

image

Linking to lots of fun places. Check out the links at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Purple Scrappy Projects

This week I discovered that I have almost no purple fabric; scrappy, yardage or otherwise. I don’t know why. The purple section on the shelf is nearly empty and my purple scrap bin is the same. I will soon have the pleasure of shopping for a few purple blenders to build things back up.  But first, let me show you what I managed to cobble together for the RSC16 for the month of March.

My blocks for the Gemstone quilt are starting to accumulate. Here are the newest additions in all their purple splendor.

IMG_20160314_4689

This quilt is going to be so pretty. The first three months look wonderful together. Remember that each block will be sashed in the pale green so they will be floating on the green background.

IMG_20160314_4691Because most of my purple scraps are strings of various widths, it was easier to work on my improv project. I made a slab of purple fabric using all sorts of tiny pieces.

IMG_20160309_4676

Check out my teeny tiny HST’s on the lower right. Those were fun to put together. Once I had the slab done, I decided to start making blocks out of the slabs I had made thus far. I wasn’t sure what size I wanted to cut them to, so I practiced with an old rainbow slab I made a while back. I am going to make HST’s which will combine the made fabric and a simple gray polka dot fabric. Once I decided on the size block (9″) I started cutting the blue, pink and purple slabs. You’ll notice a substantial color difference in both of these shots. The photo above was taken on a rainy day when I had to rely on terrible lighting. The shot below was taken today with wonderful sunlight streaming in. The color below are much more accurate. (Thankfully so.)

 

IMG_20160314_4685

I am loving how these are coming together.

IMG_20160314_4687

I was careful to preserve the parts of the made fabric that I wanted to show up in the HSTs. My little girl, the pink pinwheel, the tiny purple HST’s, and the little deer on the edge of the other pink HST. For now, I am going to aim for four or five blocks from each color, which will give me about 50-55 blocks. Then I can lay them out and see what it still needs. I have plenty of the gray dot fabric for the project.

Cutting the made fabric slabs left me with a number of large scraps. I will hold on to these and can stitch them back together as needed for extra blocks when I lay this out.

IMG_20160309_4678

Linking up with my usuals, including Oh Scrap and So Scrappy and looking forward to seeing what everyone is doing with their purple scraps this month!

Resplendent Rows

Oh, how I love this finish! I’m not positive, but I think this quilt (so far) is the one that I have spent the most time on. I don’t track hours or anything like that, but I feel like this one has many hours into it. For RSC15 I made a row quilt by following along with Mari and her Classic Stitches BOM. Each row consists of a set of blocks that root back in quilting history. Mari chose an excellent sampling of blocks and I was able to complete nine of her eleven tutorials. A couple of them were too challenging for me and I substituted easier blocks those two months.

IMG_20160222_4578

Overall, I absolutely adore this quilt. I love the bright, crazy, scrappy look, the traditional blocks that change row by row, sampler style, and the quilting that I did on each row. It was a great experience for me in a couple of different ways.

First of all, row quilts are a challenge in that it is tough to get each row to come out the same length. My supposition is that with all of the handling of each block and each row, month over month, they stretch a bit and become distorted. This quilt is absolutely not going to be entered into any juried shows! it is not even close to square. I sashed it because I wanted lines separating each row to give the eye a place to rest; this is a busy quilt. Additionally, the blocks are not accurately pieced enough to match row upon row. Did I cut off any points? Oh yeah. So by sashing them, I was able to deal with a lot of those issues. Cutting 60″ rows of sashing allowed me to ease the rows in and deal with any rows that were slightly longer than 60″. Really, sashing hides a multitude of issues.  🙂

I had a great time quilting this project. At 60″ by 70″, it was a reasonable size to FMQ on my machine. I chose a different motif for each row which was a great way to quilt it without getting bored half way through. Some motifs were easier than others but for the most part, I am very pleased with the result.

Lazy little flowers meander over the blue Water Wheel row.

IMG_20160222_4584

I quilted meandering hearts over the pink row. They turned out decent but they were harder than I expected.
IMG_20160222_4599

The orange Dutchman’s Puzzle blocks made for my favorite row. With these tiny pieces, my row had a fair-sized ripple to it and I was concerned about quilting it. After consulting with one of my favorite quilters, Janine over at Quilts From the Little House, I decided to use a tight meander. She felt like I could quilt the row into submission, and it worked. Yay Janine! Definitely good advice.

IMG_20160222_4583

The yellow row of Double Stars is another favorite. I decided to quilt each individual star, rather than cruising over the entire row and I am very happy with the resulting flower contained within each star.

IMG_20160222_4592

The green row of Crosses and Losses blocks is quilted with little swirls. These were tough. They are a bit more herky-jerky than I would like but this is where I am at this point in my quilting.  With each row, I worked right to left, preferring to begin with the bulk of the quilt bunched into the throat and then feed the quilt out. So the right side of the rows are a bit rougher than the left. I improved as I went along. I plan to only look at the good half.  😉

IMG_20160222_4585

The brown Pennsylvania blocks are sporting a Baptist Fan motif. Since I rarely get around to labeling a quilt, I also put my initials on the very far right corner. (On this row I did work left to right. It seemed easier to get the fans moving in that direction.) Again, these turned out ok – they look better from a distance than up close. Curves are tough.

IMG_20160222_4600

Here is a peek at the back. I love the simplicity of the back since the front is so raucous. With the tiny floral print, the quilting really doesn’t show but that is fine. Crazy on the front and calm on the back! I used the backing fabric as binding too. The little floral has a vintage look to it that works with these traditional blocks.

IMG_20160222_4589Yep, I love this quilt and learned so much from the process of making and quilting it. It was a wonderful project and I am so grateful to Mari for all the time she took to create the tutorials each month and her patience with my whiny emails about how hard the blocks were! Her bit of history behind each block was an added bonus each month.

IMG_20160222_4593

Linking this week with Linky Tuesday, Sew Cute Tuesday, Freemotion Mavericks and Finish it Up Friday.

Scrap Challenge Rebel

If you follow along with Angela’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge, you probably know that this month’s color  is mocha. Angela suggested adding bits of pink if that felt like a good idea. Hmmm….  neither of my scrappy projects for this year call for brown. So I rebelled and just sewed pink. Call me crazy.

I love both of my projects. They are coming along nicely now that I have two colors to look at.

Here are my blocks for the Pretty Gemstones quilt.

image

The pink looks great with the sage green solid corners. They look wonderful mixed in with the blue squares from January. I already know I am going to love this quilt. 🙂

image

I made two rather large pieces of “made” fabric, just like last month. I don’t have a huge amount of pink scrap but I found enough.

image

I love the scraps that are in this piece. The windmill block is made from those little triangles that were snipped off of my row of heart blocks when making my BOM for Classic Stitches last February. It is just peanut sized, measuring two inches square. There are pink dotted triangles that were saved from my Allison Glass mini quilt swap last  spring. And, my favorite, the little girl looking into her jar of fireflies from a piece of Wee Wander, Wander Woods. I fussy cut her and will be sure top keep her intact when I make a block from this piece. It might be a trick to keep the tiny pinwheel and the little girl whole but that is my goal.

imageThis second piece has more kidlets and a deer from the Wander W!oods piece. Check out the tree that looks like it is in blossom on the lower right. The pink plaid in the center is a piece of vintage fabric from the bundle of fabrics that were given to me last spring. There are a few fun posts about this fabric here and here. I love seeing bits and pieces of past projects popping up.

image

I am almost certain that I am going to create HST’s with these fabric collages. I bought a pall gray dotted fabric and I am thinking I will use that for the “other” side of the HST. My next decision is how big to cut the HST’s. I need to do a little thinking before I start cutting, but they will be on the big size.  If I actually make any of the HST’s between now and next month, I will post them with my March scrappy post.

February was all about pink scraps for me. I am sure that at some point Angela will call for a pink month and I will have to substitute something else in that month.

Linking to Oh Scrap!, So Cute Tuesday, Linky Tuesday, and Let’s Bee Social. Find these links at the top of the page under link ups.

Mid-Week Update

First of all, I really want to thank everyone that entered the giveaway last week. I loved reading about all of the Christmas memories. So many really sweet stories were told; I encourage you to take a peek at the comments and read them.  It was very heartwarming. Julia drew two winners. My gifts were sent off to Kelly (she won the bunting) and Sarah (she won the tablerunner). Interestingly, both winners hailed from Pennsylvania!  Congrats to both!

I have been busy in my sewing room over the past week. Working on my row quilt, Christmas gifts (which I will share after the holidays), a very frustratingly fluffy yellow bathrobe and a gift for my dad for his upcoming birthday. Where to start? Let’s go with the frustrating stories and end up on a more pleasant note, shall we?

Oh, this bathrobe! The fur and fluff that flies when I work on it is truly amazing. I had NO idea what I was getting into and never will I buy such a fluffy fabric again! I have the robe basically assembled – I sneezed my way through it only to find that it will fit nicely once I gain about 75 pounds. I don’t know how to account for this. I made it a size small (8-10) but honestly, I could wrap it around me twice over.  When I re-read the post about planning to make this, I can hear a very cocky tone in retrospect. I said that garment sewing came naturally to me because I had done it so often. In some ways that is true. I knew how to put it together, didn’t need to ponder the directions, just dove in and sewed. But what about trying the thing on? At least holding it up to me in front of a mirror at some point?? Nope, as I was getting ready to hem it, I thought,  ‘hmmm, this looks a tad large’. I put it on and my jaw dropped. It frustrated me because I can only imagine the fluff that will fly if I try to take a seam ripper to it.

I tossed it on the bed in the sewing room where it landed in a cloud of yellow. There it sits, waiting until I calm down and decide how to fix it.

Next project update:  My Classic Stitches project that I have been working on all year. You probably remember that I have been doing a BOM project led by Mari over at Academic Quilter. All I had left was to complete the green row of ‘Peace and Plenty” blocks. Well,  I can honestly say these blocks gave me no peace. Not a moment, in fact.  It started out well enough. When I was up in Downieville over Thanksgiving weekend I got all of the green pieces cut and I felt so proud. All organized and ready to go.  I came home and assembled the first block. It was adorable and I even shot an email with a picture of it to Mari. (What is it they say about pride????)

green row 1

With that one done, I quickly made another.  So far, so good.

green square 2After those two, everything hit the fan. For some unknown reason (though it may have to do with that whole pride thing) I couldn’t assemble block number three. COULD. NOT.  I sewed it and picked it apart and sewed it again and picked it apart. After the third time using my seam ripper (you know when the edges of the fabric are frayed and you know that the integrity of the block is nill?)  I gave up. Luckily, I had just read Mari’s post about finishing her row quilt (which is spectacular – take a look here!) I saw that she had issues with the brown row and decided to just make a checkered row of simple squares. Since I had my green blocks cut, I just trimmed them down to 3 and 1/2″ and called it good. I figured I was really just taking my cue from the master. So my green row is now a simple row of blocks. (See it to the left of the pink hearts?) I actually like that it is a small row. I wanted a change in the height but couldn’t see myself really making any of these blocks in a three or four inch size. At least not without a considerable amount of pain. 😉IMG_20151214_4274

Right now I have all the rows hanging over the back of the couch (luckily we have two!) I am at the stage where I am moving rows around, trying to decide what order to put them together with. I need to get sashing fabric too. I don’t have any stash that is long enough and I don’t want to piece the sashing. I do love how this is coming together and hopefully I will get it assembled in the next few days.

Finally – to leave you on a good note… I went to the monthly meeting of a gardening club that I belong to. Since there really isn’t much gardening to be accomplished right now, we made wreaths for the holidays. I decided to make a really big one so i could hang it on the front of the house. All of the boughs were cut from trees in out yard, which is a nice thing.  It turned out so pretty and was incredibly easy to put together. (I really needed a win at this point!)

wreath

 

I also wanted to show you how pretty the Swoon Mini looks. I hung it on the wall behind the Christmas tree and the lights just make it glow. I just love it. I need to make another one that doesn’t have a holiday theme.

swoon quilt with tree

I hope your recent sewing efforts are a bit more successful than mine have been. I feel I am turning the corner though. Ready for success.

Linking to Freemotion by the River and Let’s Bee Social.  Links to these two lovely blogs are at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Finished My Pennsylvania Blocks

It seems like it’s been a while since I posted a finish. But I have one this week! Getting back into the sewing room has been so nice though it took me a while to really get going. I decided to make the October blocks for my Classic Stitches row quilt. Being so close to the end of this project, I didn’t want to get too far behind.

The color for October was brown for RSC15. The block that Mari chose for October was the Pennsylvania block. I think this was in honor of her recent move from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. It worked perfectly for me too.  I have a strong fondness for the state of Pennsylvania.  When my boys were little guys, we lived there for two years. We were in State College and I loved everything about that town. So making a set of Pennsylvania blocks was perfect for me.

IMG_20151103_4068

Unfortunately, I got off to a rocky start with these guys. Mari always posts the cutting plan for various size blocks when she writes her tutorials. I thought it would be fun to make a row of 3″ blocks. Turns out it wasn’t fun at all. 😉  The block is very simple to make but when you are going for a 3″ block, it means using little pesky pieces and honestly, we just didn’t get along.  I struggled along and got two blocks made, throwing away all sorts of attempts along the way. After a fair amount of ripping, cutting, and grumbling, I gave up and made six inch blocks. They went together with almost no effort (or at least it felt that way after my tiny block debacle.)

IMG_20151105_4084

Isn’t that a cute row? So traditional. Much like I thought State College was. I remember thinking it seemed like everything was more grounded, more down to earth in State College, as compared to living in California.

The row fits right in with the other rows of classic blocks that I have made this year.

IMG_20151105_4079At this point, I have ten rows completed. (For some reason, I didn’t grab the purple or the yellow rows when I went outside to take pictures. So, they aren’t shown here.) My next decision is whether or not to make the November row. With these ten rows, I have 62 inches in length (two of the rows are 7″ blocks and the rest are 6 inches.) I am going to sash the rows because my not-so-precise sewing style means the blocks won’t line up perfectly and that can be disguised with some sashing. This will add a bit more length. How long do I want this to be?  (It will be 60″ wide.) Any ideas???

The week buzzed by and I am happy to have this checked off the list.  My Etsy shop is getting busier and I need to make a few more things for holiday shopping so that jumps to the top of the list now. Along with that is the Michael Miller fabric challenge that I am doing with the Modern Quilt Guild. That project is due on November 30th so I need to get cracking on that. It is well underway and I am sure I will have a post for you with pictures sometime next week.

Enjoy the weekend!

Linking to Amanda Jean over at Finish It Up Friday.

Wednesday WIP

You know that feeling when you have been down with a bug for a while and you finally feel better? That happy feeling of being able to have normal days, doing normal things? And it feels so good to just be back to normal?  Well that is kind of how this week feels.

It has been three weeks since Mom’s heart surgery. This week she has made some really big improvements and is feeling so much better. She looks wonderful and is up and doing little things here and there. Consequently, we all feel better! I don’t know if this is how all families are, but when one of us is down, we each have this sympathetic /empathetic thing that causes the rest of us to be down. And we know this about each other. When Mom was in the hospital, moving from bed to chair to walker was intense. It was so hard and it really hurt. The first couple of times the nurse came in to tell her it was time to get up and move from chair to bed, Mom would tell us to leave the room for a minute.  She would say, “If you watch, you’ll hurt too.  No need for that.” She knew how hard it was for us to be watching her.  But now, three weeks later, she is on the road to recovery and looking great.  Such a relief! We are endlessly, completely grateful for her good health.

Today I did normal stuff. Enjoyed cleaning my house and catching up on laundry! (Pretty exciting, right? Honestly, it was.) I also decided I had better do something with the apples that have been sitting in my basement for more than a month now.

IMG_20151020_4019

My in-laws have a small apple orchard and we went and picked apples a long while back. I made a large pot of applesauce with the last of the apples. Yum. Our family loves homemade applesauce, chunky with lots of cinnamon.

IMG_20151020_4020st

Even our hens were happy about this. They get all the scraps. Lucky girls.

IMG_20151020_4021

I have also been back in the sewing room. Finally! This week I have been workng on my blocks for the brown row of my Classic Stitches BOM quilt. The blocks are so cute.  I started out making 3″ blocks. This was two weeks ago. My brain couldn’t deal with the small, fiddly (as Mari says) pieces. I just couldn’t come up with consistent blocks. It took me forever to get two finished. So, I gave up and went back to 6″ blocks and they are great.

IMG_20151103_4067

I will get these finished up in the next day or so and stitch them together. The last color of the year is bright green. This is an easy one for me – I love green and have a big tub of scraps to go through. I need to go check in with Mari and see what sort of block she has planned for us this month. It is really crazy that we are coming to the end of this project already!

Lastly, while making applesauce today I was watching the finches. We have lots of them. This little guy settled in way up at the tiptop of our spruce tree.

IMG_20151103_4064

Hope you are having a wonderfully healthy week filled with the ordinary pleasures of life.

Linking to Let’s Bee Social – the link is at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Orange Opulence

Another row is complete. Thanks to Mari at Academic Quilter, I now have nine rows done for my Classic Stitches BOM quilt. This is, as you probably know since I have explained it many a time, my project for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge that Angela sponsors each year at So Scrappy. It is pretty nice having all of this spelled out for me each month. Angela dictates the color and Mari gives me a block. No decision making on my part except for what scraps to use and what size to make the blocks. Easy peasy.

Orange has never been my favorite color. However, with a bit of on-line research using a very intellectual website, Signology.org, I found out that I do (should?) have a significant connection to the color orange.  It seems that, according to the Thai solar calendar, Thursday is associated with the color orange. Accordingly, people born on Thursdays may adopt orange as their primary color (whatever that means – does one have to wear only orange, live in an orange house, eat lots of citrus?) Guess what day I was born on all those many years ago? Yep, Thursday. It concerns me since this isn’t a color I associate myself with, nor am I a particularly huge fan of it. This whole Thursday thing has been a problem from the beginning…. remember the poem, Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace?  Well, Thursday’s child has “far to go”. That’s not fair.  Talk about creating issues for a kid right from the get-go.  Yikes. The color orange and all of those obstacles in life that cause me to have “far to go”.  Like Charlie Brown, I’m doomed.

Enough negativity.  I love this row of bright orange blocks. See what you think.

IMG_20150917_3880

It really is a pretty row. These blocks were such a breeze to make. Until yesterday that is.  For whatever reason, I had sewn one of the flying geese blocks in upside down. I ripped it out and then repeated the error. More ripping and more sewing…  I don’t know what the deal was. Finally worked it out and the row is finished. Here it is with it’s other mates.

IMG_20150917_3872

At this point, most of the rows consist of 6″ blocks. The light blue and the gray rows are 7 1/2″ blocks. I am thinking of doing a small row next month, maybe a row of 5″ blocks? Just for variation. Of course if Mari springs some sort of complicated monster of a block on me next month, that may change.  🙂

For now, I am pleased with the quilt. It is going to be a fun one, once it is all stitched together. I am going to sash the rows because my blocks are not entirely precise and won’t line up well if I sew them row on row.  Not to mention the difference in size with the light blue and the gray rows.  Of course, that begs the question, what do I sash them with??? The background color on each row is made of scraps of cream and/or off-white fabric. I had a load of it and wanted to use it up.  What if I find some sort of miniscule polka dot? Could I sash with something like that?

IMG_20150917_3877

In closing, and because you are probably dying to know this, it rained a little bit yesterday. Every single person in Northern California could be seen dancing a happy dance. It was heavenly. Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Linking to Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts and Angela at So Scrappy.

Stuck Inside

Poor California. It is a mess. Currently there are ten large fires burning up and down the state with approximately 400,000 acres are involved. It is horrible. Smoke fills the air and ash rains down everywhere. (If you want to see more details, here is a good source of information.) Yesterday and today have been horrible as far as air quality goes. It was a stay-inside-kind-of-weekend. The photo above shows the pasture next door to us and was taken by Julia this afternoon.

Doesn’t take much to guess what I did. Played with fabric, sewed, cooked, and read. It was only logical. What else is there?

Let’s take things in order, shall we? Saturday morning Julia had to be at a meeting at the library for an hour so I had a time to check out a few books. Here is the reading list for the next little while.

IMG_20150912_3812I am already half way through The Distinguished Guest, by Sue Miller. It is an excellent book. Sometimes Sue Miller’s books are a little dark for me but I am really enjoying this one. The two Kaffe Fassett books are solely to drool over. I have finished drooling over his Quilts in the Sun book and yet to begin salivating over Country Garden Quilts. The book by Lee Cleland, Quilting Makes the Quilt, is amazing. The quilting shown in this book is far beyond my skill level but the process she used in creating this (older) book is amazing. In order to show how much the quilting defines the quilt, Cleland, an Australian quilter, decided she would make five sets of twelve traditional quilts, each exactly the same. So, twelve quilts – five of each of them! Sixty quilts in a two year period. It exhausts me to even write about it.  She took each of the quilts and quilted them, one different from the next. It is really helpful in seeing how the different choices of quilting motifs would set off the piecing and secondary patterns on each quilt. She is brilliant. While this book is a great one to thumb through, it is beyond me at this point. She does include the patterns for each of the twelve quilts in the book.  The two cookbooks are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The French Laundry Cookbook, by Thomas Keller, is just for grins. I don’t cook like that and as a result, we don’t eat like that. But it makes a person hungry to thumb through it! However the Light & Healthy Cookbook (from America’s Test Kitchen) is how I cook and eat.  Last night I made the Turkey, Lime and Tequila Chili and it was excellent. Finally, I grabbed the biography of Mary Cassatt because she is one of my favorite impressionist artists. I have seen a number of her paintings at different exhibits and there is a tiny print of one that hangs in my sewing space, making me happy each time I see it. I’m looking forward to reading more about her.

Ok, moving forward. Playing with fabric took some of my time yesterday. I recently ordered some Michael Miller solids to use in the Michael Miller Challenge, sponsored by Modern Quilt Guild. I have a few ideas brewing but luckily this project isn’t due until November so I have some time. At least I have the fabrics ready to go.

IMG_20150913_3816 I ordered the solids from Hawthorne Threads and while I was on their site, I also ordered a scrap bag. I love these. It is an inexpensive way to add a few pieces to the scrap bin (because I really, really don’t have enough scrap.)  Most of the pieces I received are wonderful. Here is a sampling of them (a few have already been cut into so aren’t included here.)

IMG_20150913_3818See that pretty piece of Amy Butler’s, second from the left?  To the right of that is one of Jeni Baker’s prints. They are all lovely and will be used here and there.

I did receive one piece that I know I will not use.  I haven’t ever watched Downton Abbey so I have no affinity for this fabric.

IMG_20150913_3817
Does it speak to any of you? It has a little Christmas holly on it. The piece measures out at 16″ wide, so just under 1/2 yard. If anyone thinks they would like to use it, leave me a comment and I will happily send it to you. If more than one person asks for it, I will just choose a name randomly. Hope someone can use this so it doesn’t just live sadly on my shelf. Claim it as yours!

Finally, I did accomplish some sewing. Check out these orange Dutchman’s Puzzle blocks.  They will be the orange row for September on my Classic Stitches BOM project. These blocks are so bright – they will add a good splash of color to the quilt. Hoping to finish these up this week.

IMG_20150913_3815

That is my weekend in a nutshell. A lot of nutshells actually.  This post just got longer and longer!  🙂  Hoping for the air to clear and feeling eternally grateful for the nearly 10,000 firefighters that are battling active fires in California right now.

Linking to Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash which is hosted by Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts this week and to Freemotion by the River.

 

 

 

Gorgeous Grays

Yikes. I think it has been a week since I wrote a post. My routine got all turned around and all of a sudden a week passed by. (Were you sitting and waiting anxiously for another amazing read on Needle and Foot? My apologies for the wait!)

As things often do, one project led right into another. I have been making blocks for the eighth row of the Classic Stitches BOM (led by Mari over at Academic Quilter). The color for this month is either indigo blue or gray. I went with gray. We have already done two rows in shades of blue and I didn’t want to add a third. I am loving this gray row. For August, Mari wrote a tutorial for a quick block called “True Blue”. She explained that it was a block which dated back to the Civil War years (on the Union side, hence the name True Blue.) It is a really simple block utlizing four patch squares and HST’s. I chose to make the blocks in the 7 1/2″ size. This is the second row of 7 1/2″ blocks for the quilt, the rest are 6″ blocks.

I don’t know how everyone else does it but I am sort of ADD when I am making blocks. I cut for a while, piece a whole block, cut some more, piece a few more. It is really inefficient and makes me crazy. I end up cutting more than I need of one fabric and not enough of another. (I know, It is so silly. I highly doubt that my methodology is taught in any of the billions of quilting books out there, due to the inefficiency of it.) I vowed to make a change with this project! For these eight blocks, I cut the pieces for all of the blocks, stacking them in nice orderly piles. Then I made the four patch blocks. (I used strip piecing, sewing long strips and sub-cutting them into pairs, which were then joined into four patch blocks.) Next came the HST’s. Doing it in this amazingly organized manner, I had my HST’s all prepared. It was so much better – the best part of piecing is putting the actual block together, right? Once all of the tedium was done, those blocks went together in  a snap. It was much better than my usual “a little of this, a little of that” method.

Plus, when I had that stack of HST’s, I started playing with them. I spent some time laying them out in different patterns, which is pretty fun with HST’s. (It’s kind of like playing with Tangrams.) I found a design that I really liked and decided that is what I would use for my New Blogger Block Hop project. (Remember, I posted last week about having to make a block with a tutorial for the project sponsored by Fabri-Quilt?) This made me so happy. I have been playing with fabric and mocking up blocks (a version of a Herringbone block and a version of a Plus block, neither of which I liked.) Seeing this simple little pattern (which, as far as I know, isn’t some really common pattern?) was the perfect inspiration.

Back to the row of True Blue blocks. Take a look. Here they are before sewing them into the row. I enjoy playing with them and getting an idea of how the blocks would look as a quilt of their own. These blocks are fairly busy. I don’t think I would do a whole quilt with only these. It makes my eyes go a little crazy. 😉

IMG_20150810_3664

 

And now a row of True Blue blocks (that are gray instead of blue!)  The pasture behind the blocks is looking a might dry, right?

IMG_20150810_3666

I hung a few of the other rows with this newest member of the family. They all look great together.

IMG_20150810_3667

 

 

It is amazing that eight rows of this project are complete. Summer is ending, fall is on its way.  This is very apparent in our garden these days. The squirrels are making a huge mess each day, eating the pinecones and dropping the pieces all over the deck. The apples on our tree are growing and it looks like, for the first time, we will have apples. The tree is about three or four years old and hasn’t really produced any apples yet. These look great though.

IMG_20150808_3660

I have mentioned before that we didn’t put in a vegetable garden this year due to the drought in California. We had a volunteer plant come up though and Ray couldn’t resist watering it just a little. We were very negligent and only gave it a drink every now and then. The foilage looked like squash and it was in a bin where we had spaghetti squash last year. We figured that was what it would be. What a surprise to see these growing on it.

IMG_20150808_3658

In the next bin over, we had planted decorative gourds last year. They were so much fun and we had tons of them. Apparently there was some cross-pollination going on and we now have a plant bearing some weird combination of spaghetti squash and decorative gourd. They are hard, bumpy and dry, like a gourd, They have that cool coloring of a gourd, but the shape and larger size of the spaghetti squash.  We had so much fun trying to figure out what they would be. (Doesn’t take much to amuse us.) I am fairly sure they are not edible but they look pretty.

IMG_20150810_3670Finally, I leave you with this gorgeous picture of our front lawn in all of its droughty glory. (I know… I made that word up.) It is criminal to waste water on growing green grass so we are only giving it enough that it doesn’t totally die on us. This is the year though, right? Rain all winter long. (Please?)

 

Linking to a new linky party over at What a Hoot as well as Freemotion by the River, Let’s Bee Social, and Crazy Mom Quilts. Links to the last three sites are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups.