3/1/15

Two Days of Stitching

Today I'm going to do some cutting, which doesn't make for very interesting blogging. I decided I'd just show you the stitching I've done since yesterday.

I finished the top-stitching and stitched the name of the block for "Chicken Gumbo".


I had to get out the instruction book for my sewing machine to remind me how to program in those letters, and I let the sewing machine do the stitching for the name. That worked out pretty well, and the machine was surprisingly user friendly. These blocks are going to be terrifically fun to make.

Also, I finished the hand embroidery on the block Sherry submitted for Lisa's Retirement Quilt.


If you missed it first time around, this is the original block submitted by Sherry.


Six down, fifty to go.

That's all I have for you. I've spent the entire morning on embroidery. Time to do something less fun.

We're meeting the kids for dinner tonight to celebrate Valerie's birthday that falls on Tuesday. Looking forward to that.

March Goals and Progress Report

Holy moly! Here we are into March already! Spring is coming. Don't you worry.

Time to check in on myself and see how my February goals went.

Quilting and Flimsies

1. Quilt and bind the Aspen Tree quilt. Complete!



This one now resides with a friend from high school who lives in Colorado. She gave me the perfect new name for it when she said it reminded her of her state's motto: Colorful Colorado. "Colorful Colorado" it is!

2. Bring the Dream Machines quilt to flimsy stage. Complete!


The top is complete, but still much to do before it can be marked in the "finished" column.

Swaps and Monthly Challenges

3. I've been participating in:

Project QUILTING

There were two challenges during the month of February, and my plan was to participate in both. The first challenge theme was "Orphan Blocks and UFO's". This is what I came up with:


made with blocks from this sad little UFO.


The theme for the second challenge was "Hearts". The second theme didn't appeal to me, and so I didn't participate in that one. Sooooo, I guess that makes it Half Complete.


4. My February plan for the Let's Book It challenge was the same one I had in mind in January, even though I changed my mind and did something else. And then February came and nearly went, and I still didn't want to do it. A change of plans was obviously in order since it was clear that I really didn't want to do that project. I told the story of how the start of this change-of-plans project was born. You can read it at the bottom of this post, if you're interested. For the sake of brevity, I'll just say here that I decided on this Chicken Buffet quilt instead. So far, I have the first of twelve blocks completed. I've had the pattern absolutely forEVER, and now it's a WIP thanks to Sharon and the Let's Book It challenge. So I'm marking this one, Complete!



5. Of course, I always want to participate in:



Join me on the Block Lotto Blog
blocklotto.com
February's block was this one, called "Cupid's Arrow". Complete!


6. As is my habit, I'm two month's behind in:

RSC 15

With that in mind, my goal for February is to make the first two blocks in blue and pink. Complete!




7. And I'll need to make two quilt blocks for our hostess in this month's modern block bee. Complete!


This month, our hostess requested our members each make two of this block



Pretty, huh? If you like this block, you can find the tutorial for it right here.

WIP's

8. I've been chipping away at the oldest of the old projects in my sewing room. This month, I'd like to continue on with a quilt I haven't worked on since December of 2013

To that end, Section 1 is Complete!



9. Make four more blocks for Lisa's Retirement Quilt. (My goal is to make one per week.) Complete!


Not bad! All my regular projects were checked off. But you know my list isn't complete until I've given myself something for:


10. With that in mind, the last thing on my list will be to quilt Sew Helpful. No Progress.


Bummer. No bonus points for me this month. I'm drying my tears though because March is here and it's a long month.



There's lots of real estate on the March calendar, but I have some special projects planned in March. You know I always say I'm going to keep my list short, and then it just goes on and on and on. Here's what I have on my list of things to do:

Quilting and Flimsies

1. Quilt and Bind Psycatdelic:


That's a big one. It's going to take a lot of time.

2. A new project that I'm calling "Rubber Duckie". It's a baby quilt for a dear friend's first grandchild, and I want to get the top to flimsy stage during the month of March. Here's the pattern image:


I have my fabrics chosen, washed, ironed, and ready for cutting, and so it's time to get this one started.

3. There are still two more challenges left in:

Project QUILTING

My plan at this writing is to participate in both, but I'll wait and see what the themes are before deciding for sure.

4. I'll need to make two blocks for my bee hostess in:


I don't know at this writing what blocks I'll be making this month, but this one is a given.

5. I always enjoy participating in:

This month I'm starting fresh with a plan to make a small project from this book:


I have lots of pretty variegated threads and so with a nod to spring, my plan is to make this project:


6. Time's running out on this swap, and so I absolutely must get something made in March for:



Quilts for this swap can be no more than 80 inches around the perimeter. I have a pattern picked out, but I'll need to modify it significantly to fit within the 80-inch limit. I'll tell you more when I get there.

7. I'm hoping to get a start on my guild's challenge. Again, I have a pattern picked out, but I'm going to need to modify it again to fit within the size range. The challenge is called N+C+Z, which stands for Neutral (fabrics from a range of neutrals), plus one Color, plus one Zinger (something bright and eye-catching).  And when I get started on this one, I'll say more about it.

WIP's

8. Make four more blocks for Lisa's Retirement Quilt. I'm simply continuing on with my goal of making one per week. I have five of 56 completed so far. When I have two more made, I'll have a whole row completed!


9. Make the next door for the Doors of Ireland quilt...this one:



10. Still hoping to get the quilting finished for Sew Helpful (pictured above). And since I didn't get any bonus points this month, I'm hungry from them now.

So that's a big enough list for a long month. Time to get going. This evening, we're meeting the kids to see Matthew and Valerie's place. Valerie took a 1940's'era bungalow down to the studs last year and completely renovated it. That's where she and Matthew are living now, and I've been dying to see it. Also, we're going to dinner to celebrate Valerie's March 3rd birthday. I have some little things for her...one I've only given you a peek at. I'll be able to reveal the whole thing tomorrow.

It's a busy sewing Sunday here. I hope you have some fun projects on your to-do list for today.

2/28/15

Let's Book It: A NewFO

It's been a lazy, but productive day, if such a thing is possible. I decided to get my laundry going, and I need to do a little work in the kitchen. Other than that, I've just been sewing at an easy-going pace.

There's quite a bit of progress to show on my newest project, the Chicken Buffet.



It's been a while since I started any large quilts, but I've been making some progress at getting the oldest of my projects finished off. By my rules, that makes it okay to start a new one now. When I start on one of these large projects where all the blocks are different, I usually only do one block at a time. That's where I'm starting with this one, and I'm hopeful that I won't get too distracted with other things to keep it moving along.

Yesterday I chose my fabrics and did the cutting for all of the block backgrounds. They will all look like this:


Today I was able to get all the fusing done for the first block, Chicken Gumbo. It still needs top-stitching as you see it here. Each block is named for some recipe that has chicken as its main ingredient, and the pattern even includes recipes! Each will have its namesake embroidered in the lower corner. I may use the lettering feature on my sewing machine, but that's not decided for sure yet.


The carrot tops are a little hard to see against the dark background fabric. I think I'll be able to make them more visible by choosing a lighter-colored thread for top-stitching. That's what I'll work on next, and then I'll set this project aside for next time. I have all my fabrics chosen, but I'll probably hold off on cutting anything but the background for now. Sometimes I change my mind mid-quilt.

Also this morning, I made up the next block for Lisa's Retirement Quilt. This one was submitted by Lisa's and my mutual friend, Sherry.


The dresses are appliqued and top-stitched by machine, but I'll hand embroider the rest. I've also used my crayon-fabric-dying technique to do the rest of the shading. That method is proving invaluable for these small blocks. With the blocks finishing at 6 inches, the details are too small for applique, and so coloring is just right for them.

And now it's ready for stitching. As you might guess, the lettering is very small, so I'll be using just one strand of floss for that. It might take a bit, but the rest should go pretty fast.


I need to spend the rest of the day finishing up a little bit of housework, and then I'll work on top-stitching the Chicken Gumbo block. That will probably keep me busy for the rest of the day. If I have time, I'm going to start cutting a baby quilt for another friend's first grandchild.

2/27/15

Making Do

Yesterday I finished the quilt top for the Dream Machines quilt. It's not going to top my list of favorite quilts, but the top is finished now. Finished is better than perfect, right? I hadn't intended to spend the entire afternoon on it, but that's how long it took. I started around 1:00 in the afternoon by finishing up the bottom sashing and sewing the rows of blocks together.


Around 2:30 I added the inner border:


I finished the outer border just as Mike got home from work. Phew!


So, as I said, it's not my favorite quilt ever. I didn't really have good border fabrics for this one. This was my quilt for last year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and I really didn't want to buy any more fabric in order to finish it. These were the fabrics I pulled from my stash:


I'm going to use the one in the upper left for the back. The one on the lower right was the fabric I had originally selected to use for the outer border, but that pink turned out to be way too bright. It's hard to tell, but it practically glows in the dark. Nevertheless, when the quilt is finished, I will have used all of the rest of the fabrics in that image. There's something to be said for using everything. In fact, I will have used all of the polka dot fabric I used for the background in the blocks, and I will also have used all of the lavender I used for the inner border. That means when everything is said and done, I will have used all of seven lengths of fabrics from my stash. If making do was good enough for my grandmother, it's good enough for me.

Finally, I laid the fabric I selected for the binding on the right side of the image below. I'll still need to piece together the back for this, but that will be my binding fabric when I get to that part.


There is still quite a bit to do before this will be ready to mark as a finish. As I said, I still need to piece together a back for it. Then it will need to be sandwiched and quilted. I'm going to use some metallic thread to stitch a sewing machine needle onto each machine, and I'll also be sewing three buttons onto each one. All of that before it will be ready for binding, but I'm sure happy to have the top finished.

This morning I walked with my friend Sue. We haven't walked for over a month. Sue has been off gallivanting in warmer climes...such a gallivanter, she is. We managed to walk between rain showers today, even though there is a 70% chance of rain. The sun happens to be shining as I'm writing this, and we're expecting sunshine all weekend.

The warm weather we've had is showing in the trees that are starting to bloom. We saw this one along the trail:


Toward the end of our walk, we felt very fortunate to see a red-breasted sapsucker along the trail. I tried to take a picture with my iPhone, but that was a dismal failure. Instead, I have this image taken by Steve Byland, who graciously granted me permission to repost his photo. You can see more of his fabulous bird and wildlife images on his FlickR page.


At home, the flowering plum blossoms are starting to open.


It's very early for these.


And some of the daffodils have opened as well.


Yes, as a matter of fact, it has been raining, but the temperatures are still unseasonably warm.

With the Dream Machines top finished, there's only one thing left on my to-do list for February, and I think I'll be able to squeeze it in before tomorrow. It's my Let's Book It project. I've had the same project on my list for two months, and I've come to the conclusion that I really don't want to make that project. It's time to choose something else. And that brings me to a very fortuitous email exchange I had with my good friend, Sharon V. Sharon, of course, hosts the "Let's Book It" linky party. I jokingly mentioned what a "burden" fabric can be sometimes. This is especially true for people like Sharon who really go to great lengths (no pun intended) to use the fabric from their stash. 

In the course of our exchange, Sharon mentioned that she had some fabrics on her shelf that were so unusual, she had no inkling of how she would ever use them, and she mentioned these dancing plucked chickens. (These are the pictures she sent me.)



Oh. My. Gosh. Well. I just happen to have a PERFECT pattern for these right on my book shelf. And what a perfect choice for my Let's Book It project. The pattern even comes in book form!


This pattern has been around a long time. I first saw some of the blocks on The Quilting Board when I used to hang around there. I've had the pattern on my shelf literally for years.

So...long story short, Sharon is sending me her fabric, and I'm going to use it as a back for this quilt. Isn't that perfect? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sharon. What a great bloggy friend you are. I am going to have so much fun making this quilt, and your fabric will be perfect for the back.

And all of that to say, that is next on my list. I can hardly wait to get started. But first, I absolutely must do some of the housework I didn't do yesterday.