Saturday, July 8, 2017

Catching Up to July

I've been busy the last three months, but I can't even remember what I've been doing. Except, that, in May, I got myself involved with the state quilt show; and that has tied up an amazing amount of my time the last two months.

My granddaughter turned a year old last month, and we've spent as much time with her as we could. We also made a trip down to Maryland for a nephew's graduation. Thankfully, it wasn't too awfully hot, but I was still happy to get back to Maine weather. It's been a very nice summer here so far.

One thing is for sure, it's been kind of a dry year for quilting and knitting for me. I got exasperated with the 365 Challenge when it began to take up all my quilting time and I didn't have time to sew anything else. I am still collecting and printing out the blocks, and if it takes me three years to finish them, so be it.

I did finish up the last of the Farm Girl Vintage blocks but don't have the top together yet.
In April, Leslie Muir Volpe, a Maine artist who specializes in miniature quilts, did a workshop for my quilt chapter. I love minis and have been making them for years; even still, I learned a few new tricks from Leslie.
Our project for the workshop was Charming Churn Dash, and five of us finished ours by the next meeting. I am in the middle!

I put the workshop information to good use for this little sampler for a quilt chapter challenge. The quilt will finish at 24" square and contain 23 blocks in sizes 3", 6" and 9". The feathered star is the last block I have to finish before I can sew them all together.

The quilt has to be finished and turned in on July 19, so I don't have much time left. Nothing like waiting til the last minute, is there? lol

I put the last stitch into the binding just this morning on Neptune's Hexagons. As so often happens to me, I didn't like it when I was working on it, but now I do. Too late, I already promised it to my dear DIL.

It was constructed from a jelly roll plus background and borders.

Credit where credit is due: "Jelly Girl" by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree & Co.

I like the back of this quilt as much as or more than the front of it. It looks modern to me (and I know Nothing about modern), and I love the mixed up colors in the hexagons.

I wish I had had enough fabric to make the hexagons blocks all the way across, but I only had the one jelly roll, and I used every scrap of it. I did a progression thing, you know, 6 wedges, 5 wedges, 4 wedges and so on in the hexagons, but I'm not sure anyone understands it but me. My husband looked at it and wanted to know what was wrong with the blocks at the end. Sigh.

One bad thing--when I was squaring up the quilt after machine quilting it, I found a pin sticking out of the back of the quilt--not once, but twice. I use those flowerhead pins, and the flowerhead was lodged inside the quilt. Luckily, in both cases, it was close to the seam in the backing, so I was able to pick out a little bit of the seam, remove the pin, and stitch it back up.

No idea how those pins got left inside the quilt, never happened to me before. Isn't that your worst nightmare, to give someone a quilt and discover there are pins in it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

365 Challenge -- March 13 to April 2

I worked on bunches of 365 blocks this past week and all weekend long and finished up three weeks worth, mostly. I'm still missing three blocks, one from this past week and two from a couple weeks ago. Hopefully I'll get caught up with those this week. I hate getting behind because it's so much work to get caught up, but that's life.

New concepts Kathryn introduced over the last few weeks--mitered corners, units set on point, log cabin style blocks, and partial seams. We're getting the full treatment, especially when you consider that these are 3" blocks. Imagine how much easier it would be to apply these techniques to a larger block. By the time we finish the first dark border, we'll be able to handle just about anything.

I think the tan in that one block is too light, and I expect I'll have to remake it. But I'll wait and see what it looks like on the design wall. I had to remake the checkerboard block above because there wasn't enough contrast in those tiny half-inch squares. Sometimes you just don't know til you make it up.

This past week we worked on two of the borders that go round the central medallion. It was a lovely change to work with some lighter colored fabrics, and there are more light colored blocks coming up this month. Later this month we also sew together the central medallion with the first round of dark borders. Can't wait.

No finishes for March, didn't have time for much else this month, but I dug out this small quilt and decided it was time to get it quilted. This was an experimental piece, 15" x 18", from a long, looooong time ago. It was a technique developed by Pat Coulter called frigid piecing, so called because every single piece is inset, and freezer paper was applied to the back of each piece for accuracy. It is a lot of extra work to make a template for every single piece in the quilt, but it worked exceedingly well because every single seam I sewed is perfect--no puckers. Her website is still online, and if you google "frigid piecing", you'll find her notes on the subject.

Naturally it sat in the closet for years, because that's how I operate, lol. Actually it was because I had no idea how to quilt it. Recently I signed up for a class on Craftsy called Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot, and Jacquie teaches something called matchstick quilting. Thought I'd try it out on this small piece. In the photo I've quilted lines at different angles 1" apart, and I'll go back and quilt in between those lines 1/4" apart. I am marking with painter's tape, and it's working very well.

My Christmas cactus is in full bloom this week. Strange plant. I have another one that I've had for two or three years, one that had white blossoms and was labeled a summer cactus. Stupid thing hasn't bloomed since I bought it. If it doesn't bloom by the end of the year, I'm trading it in for another model.

Even though we just had another snowstorm with a 6" snow dump, I found these strawberries from California on sale at the grocer's for $1.88 a container. That's a really good price for my neck of the woods, so we bought a bunch, cored them and flash froze them. They're huge, aren't they?

Farm Girl Vintage Weeks 16 and 17

I thought I already posted the first set of these Farm Girl Vintage blocks, but no. I'm finding it challenging to keep track of much of anything these days, just too darn much going on in my world. 33/45 blocks finished now, the end is in sight! I've ruled out the idea of enlarging the quilt, otherwise I might not get much else done this year, between the FGV blocks and the 365 blocks!

Monday, March 20, 2017

365 Challenge, Feb 27 - Mar 12

Trying to keep track of what week I'm on in the 365 Challenge was just too darn much trouble, so I'm going by the dates. These six blocks were from the week of February 27. I'm not sure if the theme that week was quarter square triangles or if it was those triangle in a triangle corner units, which I am not fond of.

The block for February 28 was the Centre Medallion, which finishes to 18". Although the center portion of the block was a little tricky to put together, it was a nice change from dark 3" blocks. I have to say that Kathryn's cutting measurements and piecing directions were spot on. Very pleased with how this block turned out.

There is another 6" wide border that goes around this block to enlarge the center medallion. I think that is slated for April, and then maybe I can sew all the blocks together that I've made so far. Progress!
This was the following week, Mar 6-Mar 12, with more of those triangle in a triangle corner units. Also more of the half square triangles that finished to 1/2", in the basket block. There was supposed to be a four patch unit in the basket base, but I eliminated it to simplify.

This was also the first introduction of a 6" block for the outer dark border. I was horrified when I first looked at that block, thinking those little triangles in the middle were going to finish smaller than a half inch. Finally realized it was a 6" block, not a 3" block, lol.

Haven't started on last week's blocks yet, so now a week behind. I do plan on sewing today, but maybe not the challenge blocks. I'd really like to make some headway on the Neptune quilt--would like for that to be my March finish.

Farm Girl Vintage Friday, Weeks 13 to 15

We left Friday morning to go to my son's to spend the weekend caring for my little granddaughter. My son worked, and my daughter-in-law wanted to see a friend off down in Connecticut, so we had Baby Girl all to ourselves during the days. She stayed with us last weekend, so we were pleased to have her two weekends in a row this month.

I think I got a week out of sequence somewhere with the Farm Girl Vintage blocks; but no matter, I finished these four blocks the week before last...there's the Milking Day block that goes with the Cow block I made earlier...

...and these are the blocks for Week 15, which was last week. No way did I have 30 different 30s repros for the pumpkin block, so I repeated a few fabrics and threw in some other orange fabrics I had--to include one with a pair of scissors, and one with Mr. Potato Head, lol. I like the idea of a little surprise here and there.

Well over halfway through the blocks and border flying geese units now. I'm toying with the idea of making this quilt large enough to fit on a double bed, but I'll figure that out later.

February Finish

A small finish, 12" x 14", but a finish nonetheless. Finally got it quilted, with a diamond pattern in the center and a double curve in the border. I don't do much free motion quilting, so I drew the border pattern on Golden Threads paper, pinned it in place in the borders, and stitched through the paper. Easy peasy, and no markings to worry about removing.

Credit where credit is due: design and fabrics by Kim Diehl

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Despite being busy enough with 365 Challenge blocks and Farm Girl Vintage blocks, I still want to work on some other projects. One of the quilters in my chapter asked for donations of twin size quilts for a local shelter, and I remembered I had this project in the ufo pile. One of my kids claimed it before I could even think of donating it, so I'll have to plan something else for the shelter.

I must have bought the fabric for this as a kit, like a jelly roll and extra yardage; but I don't think I ever had the pattern, just a cover picture of the pattern that I printed out. I can't even remember how I knew how to cut and piece these blocks, but it doesn't matter now because they're all made, and I've just started sewing the blocks into rows. I wish I could get more time to work on it.

The pattern is called "Jelly Girl" by Joanna Figueroa from Fig Tree & Co. Coincidentally I just discovered the other day that Joanna has a class on Craftsy called Smarter Strip Quilting featuring this same pattern, plus a diamond pattern.

365 Challenge Weeks 7 and 8

Despite being away from the machine for a little while, I did get caught up with the 365 Challenge blocks. Most of the blocks for week 7 were pretty easy, and I made a few extras to fill in holes from previous weeks. One of those had 42 pieces--eek!--so I simplified it. I see more simplification and substitution in my future.

A few of the week 8 blocks were more complicated, but in the latter half of the week Lori introduced squares on point. Those were easy, but they will get harder too. The little T's block this week had 39 pieces to it, with half square triangle units that finish to 1/2", but it was too cute not to make. Seems like it took hours.

Anyone who is familiar with the Dear Jane movement might recall that diehard Dear Janers tracked the piece count for their individual quilts. I thought that would be interesting to do for the 365 Challenge too. So far, I've made 58/365 blocks, with a piece count of 780. I've made a few changes in the blocks as I've gone along, so my piece count won't be the same as everyone else's, but I suppose it would be close. It'll be interesting to see if it surpasses the Dear Jane piece count of 5,602.

FGV Friday, Weeks 12 and 13

I was gone from the house five days in a row a week and a half ago, so lots of things didn't get done. These blocks are from week 12 of the 2015 Farm Girl Vintage quiltalong on Lori's website. Haven't done the blocks from last week yet, nor this week's, so I'll have to try and finish four blocks before this coming Friday.

We had a nice little warm up in central Maine this week, so much of the three feet of snow we had on the ground has melted. Happy to see some grass, but hate seeing the dirty snow all along the sides of the road from the salt and sand. Spring is coming!

Monday, February 13, 2017

365 Challenge -- Weeks 4, 5 and 6

Maine has been getting hammered for the last 24 hours by a huge storm system, a nor'easter, that moved in yesterday afternoon. The first prediction I saw was for 20"-26", but they walked that back as time went on. I think we've probably gotten 12"-14" of snow. It is brighter now outside, so the storm is winding down, but it is still very windy. Even the plows had to stop because of blizzard-like conditions.

Between the Farm Girl Vintage blocks, which are not quick blocks to make, and the 365 Challenge blocks, which are getting more complicated, I'm beginning to find that I don't have time to work on much else. That's a little frustrating. Maybe I need to do less housework.

Nevertheless, here are my 365 Challenge blocks for weeks 4, 5 and 6. There is a block missing from each week--blocks that have lots of very small pieces. The block in week 6 with the pale blue star has 36 pieces in a 3" block. One of the three I haven't made yet has 42 pieces. Can't help but think that anyone who tackles this quilt is a little bit nuts.

So now, we've covered half square triangle units and quarter square triangles. Today begins a series of blocks with diagonals. We're getting the full workout.

Knitting continues. The Imagine When shawlette was finished and blocked.

Next up, another ufo called Harlequin Baby, an entrelac project. Entrelac is fun, but it can be a little tricky to get started if you haven't done it before. I learned it a while ago, but Gwen Bortner has a good class on entrelac on Craftsy. I absolutely love Craftsy; and if you wait for one of their frequent sales, you can buy classes very reasonably. Way less than some of the other online universities.

Not crazy about this yarn though. It's a bulky weight (so my blanket will knit up faster) called Maypole by Euro Baby. The long colorway is fun for entrelac, but I don't care for the crinkly texture so much, and it seems to fuzz while I'm working with it. My other issue is that the pile of yarn on the left was wound around the main ball and not attached. There are a number of places where yarn ends are tied together in a knot, which I hate. The yarn shop where I bought it has since gone out of business. What's worse, I bought several other balls in a different colorway. I think this is a make-it-work moment.

My happy picture today!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Farm Girl Vintage Friday Weeks 10 and 11. . . And A Finish

With these daily and weekly blocks, miss a day and you're way behind before you know it. Today ends Week 11 of my personal Farm Girl Vintage Quiltalong, and the blocks from the last two weeks are all done now. I'm not really fond of gingham, but I did really like the Gingham block from last week, it makes me smile.

I also finished a small Bricks quilt (pattern by Tracy Kincheloe) for my granddaughter on the last day of January (had to get a finish in for the month!). It's freshly washed and all crinkled up nice and soft. We were hoping to have her up this weekend, but we just had a big nor'easter come through Maine yesterday, and there is more snow predicted over the weekend. Don't want to take her on the highway in snow and bitter cold, so we'll have to wait.

The pantograph I used reminded me of a four leaf clover with hearts inside the leaves. I sorta figured that, with the way our world is going today, our grandkids will need all the luck and love they can get. The pantograph is from Willow Leaf Studios and is called Hearts, Etc from Lisa Thiessen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Machine Applique Monday

I have three sewing stations set up in my basement sewing room; and yes, it's nice to have the space to do this. I like being able to set up three different projects and not have to keep picking them up to work on something different. My primary station is where my Janome 6500 is--love that machine.

Another station has my Bernina 200E set up, and that is the machine I primarily use for machine embroidery and machine applique. In my humble opinion, Bernina has the perfect buttonhole stitch, and I use it exclusively for machine applique.

Last week I finished buttonhole stitching another project that will be a Christmas gift so can't speak of it. The newest one is a small Lori Smith quilt with 6 applique blocks. Although I can needle turn applique pretty well, I prefer the machine work because it's faster. Besides, if it's good enough for Pat Holly and Sue Nichols (and they're award winners), it's good enough for me.

Anyway, I've just got started on this, so I'll be a while on this one. I can't hunch over the machine for too many hours without discomfort in my back and shoulders, so I just work on it for a few hours on Mondays.

The last station in my sewing room is for my Singer 301. It was my mother's only sewing machine, and I learned to sew on it when I was 15. I was delighted to have it after she passed away. It hadn't been used for years, so I found a gentleman in Nobleboro who works on vintage machines. He took it apart, cleaned and oiled it, and rebuilt the motor for me for a very reasonable price; and now it runs like a top.

The Singer 301 is a slant shank machine, so I bought a generic 1/4" foot for it. Still can't get an accurate quarter inch seam allowance with it, so it has been relegated to paper piecing. This is the machine I used for the Honeycomb quilt. The top is now complete, just have to figure out what I want to do for the quilting. This little quilt finishes to 12" x 14".

Since I've been on a tear for months in the sewing room, not much knitting has got done; but I'm nearing the end of my Imagine When shawlette by Joji Locatelli. The construction is accomplished with short rows, using wrapped stitches. And you don't have to pick up the wraps, so it's really easy. The yarn is a wool-silk blend called Amitola from Lousia Harding--love the long colorway.

It sleeted most of the day yesterday, which is okay because sleet doesn't stick to the trees, meaning no down power lines. I'm sure the roads were slick, but they're really good about plowing and salting the roads up here. Then it warmed up and rained, probably a good part of the night and all morning today. Late in the afternoon, we're finally seeing a little sun peaking out.

365 Challenge Week 3

I should have gotten this post up Monday but was too busy sewing. Although last week's blocks were pretty easy, the pieces are getting smaller. Kathryn promises nothing smaller than 1/2" finished, and one of these blocks had squares that finish at 1/2".

I think Kathryn intends for the sampler to be something of a learning experience as well, as there are quite a few tutorials on her website. Half square triangles were introduced last week, and they were easy enough to do. I am not enthused about making half square triangle units that finish at 1/2", but I have a feeling they're coming, lol.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Honeycomb is another one of the little kits I picked up at quilt show last year, along with the True Blue quilt I had on the blog a couple of posts ago. It's another pattern with fabrics by Kim Diehl. Her method of construction for this quilt was to sew background squares together, then applique the hexagons onto the background, maybe so the background diamonds would appear unbroken.

I decided that method was not for me, so I drafted a paper piecing pattern and have been making them that way. Row 1 is a little off, so I am restitching it, and there's one more row to be added to the quilt, plus borders.

I worked on the quilt today and before this, on Friday evening. Coincidentally, on Saturday I happened to be cruising Wanda's Exuberant Color blog and saw a spiral baby quilt she just finished that she referred to in an earlier post as Fractured blocks. Her quilt was based on a quilt from Kathy Doughty's book, Making Quilts With Kathy Doughty.

I like Wanda's quilt very much, and while I was contemplating how I might draft the block for it, I realized the paper piecing pattern from Honeycomb would work just fine, minus a couple of extra seam lines. Love it when an idea comes together.

The Honeycomb blocks are 2" finished, so I kept that same size for the units in the Fractured blocks. This is one block, 6", and I want to make a 9- or 12-block quilt. I did order Kathy Doughty's book because there were other quilts in the book I liked, and I'll wait until the book arrives before I make any more Fractured blocks. Some of the units are mirror imaged, and I want to see exactly what Kathy's instructions are for making the block sets.

It was in the 40s over the weekend, and I was thankful that nearly all of the ice on the walkway and driveway melted. That would be just in time for a winter storm watch Monday night into Tuesday. Could be snow, sleet, or freezing rain. Great.