05 April 2017

"Heart of My Heart" Baby Quilt

As promised yesterday,
I'm revealing my latest finish.
"Heart of My Heart" is made from the
"Darling Little Dickens" fabric line.
(Lydia Nelson for Moda)

I love the soft colors in these fabrics,
especially for a baby boy.

The other fabrics from this collection are going
into baby quilt #2 (greens and pinks) and so
with these, I'll have used up most of
yet another layer cake.
Movin' 'em out.

Yes, another poor-lighting pic!

We are finally getting some sun today but
somehow the north wind (and just now a short
random rain shower) has kept me chilled
and unmotivated even after my 2-mile walk.
Summer is definitely my least favorite season
but, right now?  I'd take it.
For now, I'm huddled under a quilt.

04 April 2017

A Rainy Day Catch-Up

I have a personal rule to never complain about rain.
In my mind, drought is infinitely worse so when it begins
to feel more like Seattle or England around here, I stay
optimistic and just count our growing, green blessings.
Years ago, I would look upon my soggy--and thus weedy--garden 
in a panic but these rainy days, I tend to other indoor things.
Like a hot drink!
The weeds will come out in due time and order will be restored.

In between rains, I've continued to push myself physically.
I had a goal to jog a non-stop mile by the one-year "anniversary"
of my surgery.  I long for the days when five miles felt great and fun,
but there has been a lot to overcome.  And I also have pain that I still
fight daily (and nightly) so I'm kinda proud of meeting my little goal--early.
I see the neurosurgeon in a couple weeks.  I'd like to say I was as
optimistic about that as I am the rain but, I just don't know.

I've been working mentally and spiritually, too, by watching a series
of Scott Hahn videos for Lent and listening to podcasts when I walk.
My husband and I will be teaching our last Confirmation
class of the year this coming weekend.  And, I'm reading
My Battle Against Hitler by the philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand
and prepping to do a review on it for a blogger-friend.
I also have two other books going on the side.
All this sound like a lot?  Read on...

In the kitchen, well--a bit of a long story
but my husband and I ended up doing a dinner for over a dozen
 wonderful priests and I wanted it to be perfect. So, fanatic that I am,
I did what I always do, and that's start 2 weeks in advance.
I fed the chickens carefully to get the richest eggs.  I watched
you-tube videos on torching techniques and I tried different sugars.
(for the record, turbinado sugar won out)
And I actually got sick of creme brûlée--who does that?!?
All this just for one of the two desserts.
By the way, I beg you to try out this
lemon butter sauce on asparagus some time--oh my!  

(My preference was to cut back on that little teaspoon of sugar--almost by half.)

We really like to treat guests when we cook:
garnishes, sauces, presentation--the works.
I take my hat off to caterers--that was a whirlwind of five hours!
Though the perfectionist in me knows of those few little flaws,
every plate came back empty and with compliments so I'm doing
my best to fight my inner self and just call it a success.
More than anything, we were extremely grateful for the opportunity
to show these men our thanks for all that they do.

With the boys, we've been doing some road trip college visits.
Track season is also in full swing and, because both boys compete,
I find myself watching a lot of field events at least once a week.
(shot put, discus, triple jump, pole vault, etc)

Now, for the sewing room.

Not as much time spent there these days but yes I did get
started on two baby quilts.  I completed one just today; the top
of the second is just a few rows from being complete.  Both are
using the above pattern from Fons & Porter.

And I just realized this is getting long so I think I'm going to
stop with the above "teaser" and follow-up with the
finished quilt tomorrow hopefully, after I gift it away
to the "new" mom.  Well, it's her eighth baby but new
life is always a big celebration, right?

Maybe it's the weather?  Maybe it's all the activity but the last
couple weeks have left me feeling tired all. the. time.
so today has just been a re-charge kind of day.
I never regret pushing myself but it was just
time for a little break.  I'd take a full-on retreat or
vacation but as that's not a possibility right now,
I'm settling for another cold and rainy spring day!

19 February 2017

Sewing to a Different Pace

I can think of a few mild winters but this one
has to top them all.  There have been many days
where I've had the windows and doors open.
This weekend I just gave up and started prepping
the garden; I even planted some things.
(For the record, it's at least a month too early for this!)
I love a winter full of blizzards so the fact that we've hardly
seen a flurry has me kinda mopey and not really in
the mood to do much quilting.

the only sewing I've done this year is this "antique" quilt.

It was a huge struggle to find a background that worked
with the late-1800's fabrics, especially the lighter ones.
I noticed the original quilt had some pretty light contrasting
fabrics and they seemed to work so I finally gave up and went
with the best I could find at the closest quilt shop.

The slow pace of this project has felt almost unnatural.
However, as my next "quilt deadlines" aren't for another month or so,
I'm taking this one at a pretty leisurely pace.

I had enough fabric to add an extra row but even with
a border or two, this will be just a lap-sized quilt.
The pattern isn't a super favorite with me but I do feel it
works well with these fabrics and I'm anxious to see how
it goes in our formal living room...
by the fire...
on a snowy day!

I have started putting the blocks into rows so there
should be no trouble getting the top done this week.
And that should free up a project basket for something else.
Besides my cat.

08 February 2017

More Valentines Runners: Because I Can't Say No

The Valentine's table runners seem to be multiplying.

Backing up a little, I seem to be in a little battle with pre-cuts,
and so I've decided to just use them up and be done with them.

I'm currently working on a quilt to use up this layer cake
of these reproduction (late 1800's) fabrics:

And just this last week I finished up this Valentine's runner.

When I purchased a little bit of yardage to finish this up,
I discovered there were still matching mini-charm packs available
and my mind immediately wandered to making little Valentine's gifts.
Nothing reels me in like the idea of making gifts for someone
and out the window went my "I'm never buying pre-cuts again!"

You know how that whole shipping-cost issue can lure you into
buying a few more things, right?
(I did say yesterday you would be rolling your eyes!)

Well, of course I bought two of the little guys
(insert talking-to-your-pet voice here)
because their just so cuuuute.
(now lose the cute-sy voice, toughen back up...)
But ONLY with the firm intention of using them up
immediately.  Which seemed to be a pretty safe intention
seeing as how the holiday is just around the corner.
(eye roll away!)

BUT, here they are.  
My whole collection of Valentine's Day table decor.
So, you see, I did use them up immediately.

Maybe we can even pretend this whole little
mini-charm pack purchase never happened?!

FYI, for the mini-runners, I cut 1.5" white-on-white squares
for the star peaks and then followed this method.
You'll have a few squares left over from the packs, by the way
if you make any of these projects.
I did use charms for the centers of the stars but the
white-on-white had to come from my stash.

I have ciabatta dough calling for attention so off I go.
If you've never made ciabatta bread, I really recommend it.
Nothing quite like a sandwich on freshly-made, lightly-buttered
and lightly-toasted (under the broiler) ciabatta bread!

I'm a little early but I do tend to pop in and out around here so:
Happy Valentine's Day!

07 February 2017

Valentines Table Runner

With the turning of a new year, I made a few changes
to my daily routine that have taken away some
of my sewing and computer time.

This means there hasn't been much done on my new projects
but I have sewn up a little seasonal decor,
knocking off another charm pack in the process.

Using just one pack of Sandy Gervais' "Love" (Moda),
and a little bit of scrap white on white fabric,
I pieced together the four blocks of this table runner.

And, as is the way of fabric and fabric stashes,
I then discovered that I didn't have just the right colors 
(go ahead--feel free to roll your eyes here)
for sashing or binding.
Luckily, I found some of the coordinating fabrics
were still available, and on sale even!

And so I have successfully used up another charm pack.
I haven't counted, but I think I have about 5 more to go.
And maybe that many layer cakes.
I'll get there.

We'll get back to why I said "maybe" in my next post...

Which may or may not require more eye-rolling on your part.

14 January 2017

A Fireside Chat: Layer Cakes

I'm spending a lot of time in front of a warm and toasty
fire this weekend.  I've heard some of the side streets
are a little icy but we found everything to be completely fine so far.
The rain has started but the temps are above freezing still.
 Bring it on.  We're prepared to just stay in all weekend,
stepping out only for Mass.

I really hoped to be cutting out the rest of a quilt and then start on
the piecing but the background fabric I ordered is darker than
I had hoped.  And I have another on the way.
(Not a big problem--I always need ivories!)
So, instead of the sewing room, this is my view.
Not bad, huh?
But I'm also watching the mailbox.

I'm excited about this next quilt.
I have a layer cake of reproduction fabrics that
I've been anxious to get into a quilt.  

I love to pick out fabric.
But sometimes I see a whole line that I want to work with.
Insert the pre-cut market.  Layer cakes, charm packs, et al.
A whole set of fabric pieces all coordinated and ready to go.
The sampler pack.
A box of all kinds of chocolates.

I just can't decide if I really like cakes and charms.
I love having that array of fabrics; I like seeing them out on my shelves.
Plus, there is a huge selection of patterns out there designed
around each size of precuts to choose from.

But here are my three big issues:

Accuracy just might be out the window.
They're cut with a zig-zag, or, pinked.
Straight edges can be precise.  Fuzzy zig zags can not.
And that zig zag is cut IN to my 1/4" seam allowance.  
All of this causes some real issues if you are trying to get, say, 
two or even 4 5-inch squares out of a layer cake--which is what
most layer-cake-specific patterns have you do.
And if you have to then cut those squares into triangles,
well, your triangles now have jagged points.
Personally, I'm into precision and this bothers me.

To cut two 5-inch squares above as accurately as possible,
I actually had to measure in from both sides.
(taking more time by the way)
Most squares were a pretty scant five inches.
We'll just have to see how this plays out.
(once I actually had some squares that were so under the said 10-inch measurement,
I had to cast those aside.  Fortunately, I didn't need the entire cake.
But, I still think that cake was defective.)

Can we just make the cuts a tiny bit bigger
so that we can measure from the "dip" of the zig zag
instead of from the "peak"?  Or, better yet, let's just go back
to straight edges.  Please.  And be slightly generous
so we can straighten up the imperfections that can happen
in mass production.  

I guess the moral here is, pick your pattern carefully.
If you need to cut your cake into 
5-inch squares,
you'll have no waste, and that's a great thing.
But beware there may be some pretty scant 5-inch squares.

Issue number two can come with any pre-cut.
We all just want to get the best use out of our piece of fabric.
The above is the waste I get with every square for my latest quilt.
So maybe this is directed more at pattern designers?
But I can see how it would be difficult to make all kinds of quilts
to "fit" specific precuts so, I get it.  I'm just thinking maybe
yardage might be a better choice for some patterns.
Fortunately, I've got log cabin plans so I think this might not be such
a big waste after all.  Or maybe I can figure a way to slip the 
scraps into the quilt border or backing.

Choice issues.
Inevitably, some of the fabrics are just not going to work.
I find that there are often some that are too light,
which is an issue I'm currently frustrated with.
Or, there are just too many lights.
Or too many darks.
And I really don't like when solids are thrown in.
To each their own but, for me, solids are boring and cold.
I have one quilt with a solid so it's not like I'm a hater.
They just aren't my choice.
One more problem here is that sometimes a print is just too big.
You might have one or two objects in a 10" square,
and then end up cutting them up.  Especially if they're off-centered.
Anyway, the moral here?  
It's just not a given that your layer cake will
work for every layer cake quilt.

Perhaps these are all just things to keep in mind when working
with layer cakes, charms, and all other pre-cuts?

12 January 2017

The Game Plan

I finally made my list of what I'd like to accomplish in the
sewing room this year.  I'm easy-going; I'm not going to stress it.
But I also want to stick to my goals.
So it makes me feel pretty good that the first goal listed
is already completed.  If we're going to look at signs
or indicators for the year, let's use that one!

Table Runner
Completed 1-9

Baby Quilt
This is for my niece who is due with her first girl in May.
I find the colors she's picked out for the nursery (mint green, coral)
a little difficult to work with (none in my stash) so I think
I will go with a kind of generic quilt with all kinds of colors.
Maybe even 30's fabrics.  And then I might pick up
one of her colors for the border or something.
It's no fun if it just doesn't match at all.
I don't really know her style so, I don't know...pinwheels?  
I love this quilt--just not sure I want to do all those prairie points.
Though, it would be another new thing for me to try.
And growing in knowledge in this craft is important to me.
Finish Gnome Quilt #2

Oh the gnomes.  I so love this fabric.
When I made a baby quilt out of this last year, I wanted to
keep working with it so I made these 12" blocks.  STILL have
plenty of that fabric so I'll have to make another one some day.
But for now, I'd like to get these set into a quilt.  I found some fabric
for the sashing on the shop hop so I'm good to go here.
No idea who to give it to, though?

South For the Winter quilt

Guess what?  I've already started this one.  My take on it
will be a very old-fashioned one, though, instead of batiks
as pictured.  In fact, I'm going reproduction fabrics.
In cutting these out today, I came up against my "beef"
with layer cakes and charms and all those fun little pre-cuts.
I plan on addressing this in my next post.

But anyway, I like that this is such a small, often-repeated pattern.
So many of my quilts lately have made beautiful patterns
but are noticeable only when stepping way back.
I look at this and see something that's going to look great
folded up on a shelf or laying at the foot of a bed.
It's not a special pattern, no, but I think it will round
out my quilt collection nicely.

"Catherine" line by Jo Morton
(not the brown in the back though)

I'm real "in" to reproduction fabrics right now.  They tell a story.
I've always wanted to make a Civil War quilt, too.
If anyone out there has a great book on these that they recommend,
I'd love to know.  There seem to be plenty so I should just hit the library.
Stories behind old quilts fascinate me.  It's history.
That's why I'm attracted to the Farmer's Wife Quilt.

Scrappy Log Cabin
I just have to do something with the scrap issue around here.
I was about ready to dump the whole pile in a bag and donate it
when I came across a log cabin quilt that made me re-think this.
So I did a search and several came up that I'd love to do.
I'm posting this one but I'm hesitant because, frankly,
I'm afraid I'm going to get "geesed out".  I've made a whole
lot of those things lately!

But it is beautiful, isn't it?  I'll just make the decision when I get there.

Finish Graduation Gift Quilt
This one I would love to get finished.  I hate having it sit there
but the thing is, I'm afraid if I finish it now, it will get enough
creases and folds in it by May that it won't look like a new quilt
when I gift it to my niece.  So I'm putting this off till at least April. 

Farm Fun Layer Cake
  (project unknown)
I have some ideas in mind here but more than anything,
I just want to get my layer cakes used up.  And then,
I swear on my stash, that I'm never buying one again.

Unless it's on super-clearance....

Vintage Kitchen Charm Pack
 (project unknown)

No idea what to do here but I do love these fabrics!
Again, though, I want to move out my pre-cuts.

Farmer's Wife Quilt?
And this is to be my big project of the year.  Ok, one of several.
But send in the angelic choirs, I really think this is the year I tackle
that Farmer's Wife quilt!  I even splurged and FINALLY picked up the
28 fat quarter set of Sunday Best; I got the charm pack (cringe)
last summer as a way to dip my toes in and test the water.
I swore I wouldn't pay full price for the fat quarter set though.
However, I've been watching--they're slowly disappearing so
I don't think they're going to ever hit a clearance rack.
And just last night, there was a 10% off at the Fat Quarter Shop
so I did it.  If that wasn't an obscene amount of money to spend
on more fabric when I already have plenty...!

But, on the flip side, I've thought this one over for many months.
This is a big quilt.  A big project.  And I really don't want to deal
with constantly picking out fabrics.  
And I love these bold fabrics.  Even after months and months of waiting.
So, when seen in that light, I don't think the move was all that bad.
Especially if I turn around and make it worth it, right?
If it sits on my shelf and I get tired of it, then--THEN I'll feel bad.

Finish Quilting Circling Geese
Now, last but not least, this still needs quilted.  I started out
on it a few months ago but it was very forced and didn't look good at all
so I just set it aside.  It's not like I don't want to do it--though
I definitely don't want to rip out the little bit of quilted I did do.
It's that I don't want to mess with moving my machine into
the sunroom (where there is more space) for just this quilt;
so, as soon as I get another quilt top or two ready,
this will get finished.

So there it is, the game plan for this coming year.
I even got my tab/page made up with this list to be held accountable.

After no gardening last year, I'm really needing to do a big one this
year so I know, soon enough, that will take a lot of my time.
We'll just have to see how much I can get done before

And that ice storm?  Moved back several times now from Thursday night
to Saturday morning.  I think us Kansans all see where this is going...
It's hard to take it seriously at all but, we're ready either way.

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