Friday, March 23, 2018

Big and Tiny

Maybe it was a reaction but, more likely, a touch of impatience that stitching tiny red and brown 4-patch blocks made for slow progress for a large quilt that resulted in my decision to start a quilt with larger blocks.

I saw "Blue and Grey" somewhere on the internet several years ago and loved it but then forgot about it until Julie posted her version of the quilt six weeks ago, which reminded me of it.  I reserved the book, The Blue and the Gray: Quilt Patterns using Civil War Fabrics, from the library.

I love everything about this quilt except that 6" blocks result in a quilt that measures 40" x 47".  I want a larger quilt, big enough for a nap or a bed, so I enlarged the blocks to finish at 9".

I tell you, 3½" seem huge after stitching tiny 1¼" squares!

It's rare for me to follow a pattern exactly.  I change the size, I change the colors, I change one thing or other about the pattern.  This time I've changed only the size, which means I've been on a search for a few more Civil War fabrics.  It's been wonderful sewing with mostly all new fabric, but finding a variety of blues (in the shade I like), browns, reds, lights/mediums/tans/gold-ishes, and greys has been a little challenging.  One almost-local quilt shop had just a few of each color but nearly no blues and no greys at all.  Another less-local quilt shop sells mostly 1800s reproduction fabrics where I found several blue fabrics, two reds, and two lights. 

I was surprised that it's nearly impossible to find Civil War-era gray fabric, at least locally.  (Note my use of non-Civil War gray in the block above.)  I was hoping not to have to resort to using fabric from shirts but I may have to.  It will all be fine. 

I'm pleased to be starting a new quilt while I continue to cut, stitch, and press more blocks for Little Rubies.

I'm linking this post to Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Myra.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

An Error in Judgment

I'm open to using a variety of thread for hand quilting.  If the color's right, the thread's strong, it doesn't smell like smoke or mildew, and it's all cotton or natural fiber, I figure it's good enough to use to hand quilt.  I found this spool of light brown/tan at a local craft shop where people donate their unwanted craft items for others to have (after a monetary donation) and brought it home. 

When I found it I didn't have an intended purpose but I knew the color would be useful.  I tested it by burning a section and found that it's a natural fiber because it turned to ash.  I don't know beyond that what fiber it is but it's too shiny to be cotton.  I also tested it before using by washing and drying it and by putting it under a hot iron.  All good.

The spool was full but there was no indication how much thread was on a full spool.  But then I never think about whether there will be enough thread to quilt a quilt, probably because in the past I've been able to get more.

Now I find that I have 15 squares and 8 stars yet to quilt and this (on the left photo) is what's left on the spool.

I was not exactly frugal while quilting.  If I had a few inches of thread left at the end of a row or block, I cut it off and threw it away and began with a fresh length, never thinking that I could run out.

My error in judgment is to use thread without considering whether there's enough for the whole quilt.  I may find I made a second error in judgment if, after tossing the finished quilt in the washer and dryer, I find that the thread has shrunk more than cotton usually does, or disintegrated, or some other untoward event happens to cause the quilt to need requilting.  Oh, how I hope that doesn't happen!

I suppose I'll use cotton quilting thread in a color as close as I can find to the one above if I don't have enough of this thread to finish the quilt.

Do you ever make errors in judgment with your quilting?  Do you always use the same brand of hand quilting thread?  Which kind do you like best?

Oh, yes!  I almost forgot.  It's the first day of spring.  Happy Spring!  Snow is predicted for our area tonight and most of the day tomorrow.  Those two groundhogs I saw eating greens on Saturday will probably be surprised.

I'm linking this post to
> Fiber Tuesday at The Quilting Room with Mel
> To Do Tuesday at Stitch All Things
> Let's Bee Social #220 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> WOW at Esther's Blog

Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Introducing Dottie

Dottie is a quirky little doll quilt I found at a thrift store in January.  She measures about 18" x 26".  I found her irresistible and brought her home.  When you find a quilt with so many polka dots what else could you call her but Dottie?

Other than the bow ties, the only repetition or pattern I can see are the red-dot fabrics between each block and the long strips of sashing between the rows of blocks. 

The hand-stitched blocks are approximately 2" finished.  Some are more rectangular than square. 

Lori of Humble Quilts uses the word "humble" to describe quilts that are less than perfectly made.  This is a humble quilt for sure.

In fact, when I look at some of the blocks and, really, the whole quilt, I have to wonder who made it.  Was it a child's early attempt at sewing bow tie blocks with five pieces of fabric (instead of the six commonly used these days) and set-in seams?

Or perhaps an aged grandmother with less than perfect eyesight made it for her granddaughter?  There are puckers throughout the quilt where one piece of fabric was gathered to fit against another.  Before rotary cutters and acrylic rulers cutting accurately was an art.

The ties feel like wool and have wool's fuzzy appearance.

The quilt was folded and probably laying where sunlight hit the fold.  There are sections of faded fabric.

As if red dots weren't enough, there are also blocks with turquoise dots.

You can see that some of the fabric had already been used in clothing.  It was unstitched but not all threads were removed.  There are several seersucker fabrics in the quilt.

The backing is a very soft flannel.  It is pulled around to the front to make the binding.  I suspect there is a layer of flannel between the top and back but without unstitching some of the binding I would have no way of knowing.

The stitches holding the binding in place are long with no attempt to hide them under the fabric.

I can't tell the age of the fabrics but I'm guessing 1940s and 1950s, possibly even 1960s.  Do you have a guess?

I haven't chosen a place for Dottie to reside yet.  For now, she rests on the back of chairs or lays on a little table.  She's not really my "style" of quilt but I love her for her quirkiness.

And that's Dottie.

Do you buy small, quirky quilts?  Are you sometimes unable to resist a quilt at a thrift or antique store?


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Little Rubies

When I first posted these blocks Janet O. (of Rogue Quilter) said, "Aren't little pieces fun?  Watch out--they can be addictive!"  Janet is the queen of miniatures and creates beautiful little quilts but I thought, Well, they are cute but I doubt I'll become addicted.  Sometimes I love it when other people are right.

The littlest squares I cut at 1¼" and they will finish at ¾".  Each little four-patch will finish at 1½".

Suddenly I find myself thinking of all the tiny fabric scraps--especially strings--that are laying around here, wide enough to become tiny 4-patch blocks!  It's crazy. 

Here's a possible layout.  Most of the little double 4-patch blocks are not sewn into larger blocks so there are plenty of possibilities.

I'm so pleased to have had sun today when I had time to take photos outside to capture the true colors.  (Only the first two photos and the last were taken outside.)  The browns are really warm and the reds are mostly bright.

A pro of tiny quilt blocks: 
  They are quick to unstitch if you make a mistake.
A  con of tiny quilt blocks: 
  There's a lot of cutting and sewing to get a quilt of any size.

Do you sew with tiny pieces?

I'm linking this post to
> wip link-up at Silly Mama Quilts
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
> WOW at Esther's Blog
> Sew, Stitch, Snap, SHARE at Koka Quilts
Thank you for hosting, ladies.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Hand Quilting Utility Stars

From the end of January till now I've quilted 24 of this quilt's 56 squared and 2 of its 24 stars.  I admire the speed at which machine quilters can finish quilts but I prefer the look of hand quilted quilts so I continue along at my snail's pace.  Part of the slowness comes from how hard hand quilting is on my fingers:  they can only quilt for so long. 

I really thought I might be able finish this quilt in March but then I remembered that the outside edge of a quilt, whether blocks or border, is nearly always bigger than the center of the quilt and will take longer.  Sigh. 

You can see we have a sunny day today:  the shine through the window highlights one small square of this quilt.  Yeah for a sunny day!  Fun photo, huh?

I wish my goal for March were to finish this quilt but it isn't.  Instead, my goal is to finish hand quilting at least 12 stars and at least 12 squares.  I'd be satisfied with a double dozen.

I'm linking this post to
> One Monthly Goal - March Goal Setting Link-up at Elm Street Quilts
> Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Like a Wet Lion

March came in like a wet lion today.  No ferocious cold, just damp, grey skies and rain.  Plenty of rain.  Last week when we had temperatures in the 70s I was sure the groundhog was wrong and that March would arrive like a lamb.

I've been working on two dark quilts, the rubies/strawberries/cherries on brown and the blue and tan/grey utility stars.  With so much grey and darkness surrounding me both outside and in, I felt the need for color.  Bright, happy colors.  So I pulled out these little spool blocks. 

spool quilt blocks

And played just a little.

spool quilt blocks

Six more are in progress and then I'll have 36 little spools.  They finish at 3" and they're really cute but they haven't been much fun to make.  This is my least favorite block pattern ever.  They are a bear to sew!  The diagonals are the problem and every block is at least a little cattywumpus, even when I draw or press the diagonals and pin before sewing.  Despite the difficulty in making them, they were a sweet, colorful diversion during today's grey rain.  I'll make enough more to make a small quilt, but that's it.

Here's the wet March lion I saw outside today.  I really do love rainy days, but I would have been happier had this been snow.  (Grumble, grumble, grumble.)  Sun is predicted for the next several days but I see a chance of snow, too.  I will welcome either one.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts and
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Friday, February 23, 2018

Into Thin Air

When Lori of Humble Quilts began the year with an invitation to join her in a sew-along to make Cheri Payne's "Sweet Land of Liberty" quilt I was excited but indecisive.  I didn't have the pattern and I wasn't sure I could find or create patterns for all the blocks.  (If you don't know this quilt, it's filled with applique.  You can see four versions of the quilt here, top left.)  So I hemmed and hawed and deliberated through January weighing the pros and cons of stitching this quilt.  Finally, toward the beginning of February, I began with the eagle, a pattern Cheri has in her Facebook group files.

paper pattern for Cheri Payne eagle

I finished appliqueing the eagle one day last week and then, because I had other obligations and knew I wouldn't be able to work on it for a week or so, I put it away.  (I didn't take a photo.)  Now I find (ha!) that it has vanished into thin air.  (Is vanishing into thin air the adult version of the dog ate my homework?)  Anyway, I've searched and searched and can't find it anywhere.  I'm taking that as a sign that I really shouldn't be making the quilt, especially considering how indecisive I was to begin with.  If the eagle turns up maybe I'll make it later.

What I have been working on are a few more blocks for the rubies/strawberries/cherries quilt in red and brown.

And more quarter cabin blocks.  With this batch finished I think I will have about 75.  I don't have a specific plan for these, just lots of strings to use.  I did consider a strippy quilt but I need to play before deciding.  

untrimmed quarter log cabin blocks

It seems this year is shaping up to be another one in which I focus on using up scraps.  I know I'll always have scraps but sometimes there are just too many and I feel the need to either use them or toss them.  It's too bad it's against my nature to toss.  Do you ever tire of your scraps -- same old fabrics over and over again -- and wish for new scraps?

This is one of the little boxes I carry projects when I'm riding in the car.  Sometimes I use a more enclosed container but I was just pinning today so this box worked well.

I've been working on preparations for our women's conference at church and haven't had much time to sew, or to even concentrate on the next ideas for quilts.  It will all be over by Saturday afternoon and then I can devote more time to quilting and family history.

I know most people are ready to be done with winter by the end of February but it seems like we've barely had a winter here in central Ohio -- a few little snows and a little ice.  I'm still hoping for one  good, deep snow.

I hope all is well in your world.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> Moving It Forward at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt 
Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Confections for Valentine's Day

Would you care for a heart?  They are such confections!

Really almost too sweet.  The gritty kind of sweet you feel in your teeth after you've eaten an iced, heart-shaped sugar cookie or two.  But don't some of us occasionally over-indulge on Valentine's Day?

This little quilt is still in progress.  I started stitching the hearts in January when I had nothing to do.  I'm deciding on the outer border -- even or uneven.  The quilt to the edge of the first striped border measures 13¾" x 18¾".  Long and narrow.  I thought a wide border on the sides might even it out a bit but maybe it needs a border top and bottom and a slightly wider border on the sides.

Those little corner stones are all fussy cut, too.  They're only ½" square so no one can see them without a close examination of the quilt.  I guess they are for my pleasure, just knowing they're there.

Oh, the sweetness of this quilt.  I can hardly stand it!  Truly.  Had I realized in advance how red and pink and white and sweet it would look I might have made it differently.  But it will look festive on my front door -- next year on Valentine's Day 2019.

Please enjoy a heart while I head for my favorite Valentine's Day confection, chocolate. 

I hope you have a Happy Valentine's Day.

I'm linking  this post to
> WOW (WIPs on Wednesday) at Esther's Blog
> Let's Bee Social #216 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> Midweek Makers #111 at Quilt Fabrication


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