Monday, May 30, 2016

Always Remember to Never Forget





With gratitude to those who gave
their all to preserve freedom for
so many.  You are remembered.



--Nancy.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Basket about to Be Appliqued

Last night I scattered paper patterns out of the way, laid the fabric basket in place, and snapped this photo knowing I would do some slow stitching today.

fabric basket about to be appliqued

When I applique I usually turn the edges under and pin them but this time I tried something different.  I used a running stitch to hold the folded edges in place.  It worked well except where I turned the edge in too much or too little.  But it was easy to adjust and I didn't miss trying to keep the thread from tangling in the pins.

I left the top of the basket and both sides of the handle unstitched because I'll be adding stems behind the handle.

The background for this basket is about 21" x 25".  It's much bigger than any applique I've ever done.  I hope it's still lays flat after I've appliqued all the pieces.  (I feel so brave even attempting this challenge.)

This basket is the center for my Gwen-inspired basket medallion quilt.  I don't suppose this looks like it was inspired by Gwen which is because it really wasn't.  I had this in mind before the medallion quilt-along was announced.  I anticipate the subsequent borders will give me plenty of opportunities to hone some new improv and liberated quilt-making skills.

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Busy Buckeye Beauty

I think this quilt of Buckeye Beauty blocks is one of the busiest I've made.  When I look at the photo from a distance they look star-like to me but up close and in person . . . whew!  My eyes bounce all over the place.

Buckeye Beauty quilt blocks
I planned for 42 6" blocks plush a border.  These are the 42 blocks, not yet sewn together.

I looked at the layout above for a few days and then today I pulled the green ones and laid them together.  Hmm.  Better, but still bouncy.  And maybe a little boring? 

Buckeye Beauty quilt blocks in green

This was a quick change from the layout of all blocks and a quick photo.  You may (or may not) notice that the top row is out of arrangement with the rest of the blocks.  The blocks are not identical:  the light centers are oriented in one direction diagonally and the dark centers oriented in the other, and the 4-patches in the corners are arranged differently for light and dark blocks.  

I'm trying to decide whether I really want to make this (in either multi or green) for a grandbaby quilt.  Maybe it will work if I just make some changes in future blocks.  Maybe the really light lights are too light.  Or maybe it is just too busy.  Or maybe there are too many different greens for such a small quilt.  I can't quite put my finger on why I'm not happy with this quilt/these blocks.

There were six red blocks which I laid together.  Still bouncy but since red is my favorite color, I like them better.
Buckeye Beauty quilt blocks in red and lights


I guess I'm still scouting around for the perfect block/quilt for my grandbaby boy.  If not this quilt, I know I'll find one soon.

I hope you have a great weekend.

--Nancy.
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Green Buckeye Beauty Blocks

Buckeye Beauty quilt blocks in green

These Buckeye Beauty blocks make for a busy quilt, don't you think?  Maybe too busy?

These are 6" blocks.  I think a 6 x 7 layout with 42 blocks and a border would be a good size for a baby quilt.

I'm linking this post to today's Rainbow Scrap Challenge at soscrappy.  Click over to see how others are using green scraps.

--Nancy.
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Thinking of a Basket of Flowers

Ever since I finished appliqueing stars I've been thinking about beginning another applique project.  I don't love applique enough to make only appliqued quilts but there are times when it's the perfect hand work to do.  I have a hard time just sitting unless I'm really tired.  With applique I can sit and almost do nothing and still accomplish something.  And applique is portable, packable (needle, thread, scissors, project, and I'm set), and friendly (my husband drives, I stitch, and we talk--or not). 

I'd been thinking about stitching baskets but hadn't moved forward with the idea.  And then a few weeks ago Lori of Humble Quilts invited her readers to participate in a Gwen Marston-inspired medallion quilt-along with a basket in the center.  Hmmm.  I began researching Gwen Marston's work.  She's been quilting for more than 25 years, evolving from traditional quilts, shown in her early books, to less traditional, more modern quilts in recent books and online.  Which makes me wonder:  What will a Gwen-inspired medallion quilt look like?  Could I make one?  Maybe.  Probably, especially when Lori says, "The only rule is, you make the rules!"    

This is the basket I've been thinking of appliqueing.  It's a little hard to see because there's not much contrast between the paper cut-out and the background fabric.


I doodled on paper, drew on construction and scrap paper, cut out, and laid the paper pieces on a fat quarter.  It's definitely a "cartoon" in progress.  Paper stems are hard to make but I imagine bias-cut fabric ones will be easier to manipulate.

On the paper sample above, the basket's too wide or the background's too narrow.   The sizes of the flowers should vary more.  That dotty background fabric has to go (unless it works when I get the basket, flowers, and stems cut out).  Red flowers or blue?  And are star flowers cliche?  But maybe this basket of flowers is a little too folksy to be Gwen-like?  But I make the rules so it really shouldn't look like Gwen made it, right? 

For me, part of the reason for participating in a quilt-along like this is to push myself just a little past my comfort zone and stretch my limited abilities by learning and doing something new and different.  One way or the other, I'll learn something, even if it's only that I don't like appliqueing baskets.

And why don't I just quit asking questions, make some decisions, and cut the fabric already?  Now there's an idea!  And I will.  Probably tomorrow.

In truth, I haven't been procrastinating.  I've been working on the Buckeye Beauty blocks.  I have precisely 12 seams to machine-stitch to have 42 blocks.  I'm ironing tonight, will pin tomorrow on the way to the zoo (to see baby polar bear Nora), and stitch when I get home.  And then I can lay them out and play.  (And cut out a basket.)

Little by little things get done.

I hope you're having a great day!

--Nancy.
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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Slow Stitching


I devoted a little time to this quilt this evening, hand quilting the sashing that makes a V toward the edges.  (The sashing's not quilted in this photo because I'd just moved the hoop.)  It's a peaceful activity on a Sunday evening when sitting with family.

I have just 8 half-blocks on the ends left to quilt.  They are pieced so the grain parallels the edges of the quilt, and they are more than half-blocks -- almost five-eighths blocks.  I'm thinking of cutting the blocks on the ends so they're closer to half blocks, thereby making the quilt a little shorter.  (This is another quilt that's too long -- because I chose symmetry over size.)

I've been quilting this since the end of November.  Am I slow, or what?!  It's no wonder I finish about two quilts per year.  Still, no stress, no hurry.  I'd rather enjoy the process than speed quilt just to claim more finishes in a year.

I hope you've had a little quiet time today to relax and rejuvenate.

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.

--Nancy.
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Friday, May 20, 2016

There It Is, A Finished Top

quilt with applique stars on scrappy backgrounds

I have an unexpected finish today.  My husband and I usually do errands on Fridays but he suggested we wait till tomorrow.  That left me with the afternoon to do what I would have done tomorrow:  measure, cut, and sew the brown binding onto this stars quilt.  So, it's done.

Mostly, the border lies flat.  In the photo above you can see three little ripples in the brown border on the lower right.  I don't know what's caused them and I don't know whether they're enough of a problem that I should handle them now or leave them and they'll ease in with hand quilting.  I'll leave the top on the floor for a day or two and decide.  I can't remember if I've ever had a top with slight ripples or not.

The brown borders are 4" on the sides and 3" on the top and bottom.  The center of this quilt is rather long and narrow and I thought wider borders on the side would help (though I know it's just 2" difference).  As it is now, it measures 71 1/2" x 92 1/4".  I have a post in the works about quilt measurements and proportions so I'll save my thoughts on this quilt and that topic for later.

I'm pleased it's finished.  I think I loved the stars and scrappy backgrounds more than I like the finished quilt, but then it's not really finished until it's quilted.  As with most quilts I make I see things that could have been done differently to improve the quilt (especially the borders in this quilt) but I'm chalking it all up to learning.

This finish meets my May One Monthly Goal (OMG) for participation in OMG It's Finished! Linkup May 2016 at Red Letter Quilts and my #BraveQuilter challenge at Pink Doxies for May (for which I'll add the links when she posts).  

I'm also linking this post to
Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
TGIFF at Quilt Matters

--Nancy.
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Oh, Sew Carefully!

I so bravely and carefully sewed the colored strips together, aligning them just so, stitching straight, even seams


and it looks like they've become four straight borders!  Sometimes I surprise myself.

On to measuring and sewing them to the edges of the quilt on Monday.

Happy sewing to you!
--Nancy.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's About Value

When placed together the pattern of these Buckeye Beauty blocks is beginning to emerge:  diagonal rows of light centers and dark centers with a checkerboard where the corners meet.

Buckeye Beauty quilt blocks

My usual process for making a quilt like this is to pull a bunch of fabrics, cut shapes, sew them into blocks, then lay them out.  After a good many are made, I decide which ones work and which don't and whether I need to make more and what colors.  With 13 made I have 29 more to go.  I expect these will change places as new ones are added.  Because this quilt is about value, I'm thinking of unstitching the one third row down, third from the left.  I think those two fabrics are the same value!

The idea for this quilt came directly from Lynn Roddy Brown's book, Patchwork-play Quilts:  Make the Most of Scraps, Spare Parts, and Leftovers Early in the book she discusses value, something I haven't paid much attention to when choosing fabrics.  Her strategy is to pair fabrics in light and medium; light and dark; or medium and dark.  I'm all about color, but after reading her thoughts, I began noticing.  Her explanation was so clear and the photos helped clarify what she was saying.  Then when I saw her "Buckeye Beauty" quilt I decided it might (or might not) work for a little boy's quilt.

Buckeye Beauty blocks are usually sewn all the same which creates a strong one direction diagonal.  Lynn has rearranged the blocks so some have light centers and some dark.  The four-patches on the corners alternate, too, depending on the centers.  The layout then creates diagonal rows of lights and darks and a checkerboard in the corners where the blocks meet. 

Lynn's blocks are 8" but I like baby quilts with smaller blocks so I changed the size.  These blocks will finish at 6" so they are a little smaller.  Using a 6 by 7 layout the quilt will be 36" x 42", without borders.  I love the fact that I can use small scraps for this quilt, and I can imagine it becoming really scrappy with several different fabrics of the same color and value per block.

I'm making progress on my star quilt.  I finished cutting the colored strips for the next border today.  They're laying alongside the quilt and tomorrow I'll play with color placement.


I'm linking this post to Let's Book It - May 2016, Oh Scrap!, WOW, Let's Bee Social, Moving it Forward Monday, Scraptastic Tuesday, and Design Wall Monday.  Thanks for hosting, ladies.

Thanks for visiting!
--Nancy.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Searching for This Fabric

Have you seen this fabric before?  If so, can you tell me anything about it -- name, creator, manufacturer, etc.?  It's possible it came in other colors, too.  Maybe red and blue?



I have these two tiny pieces, about 1" square and about 1" x 1 1/2".  They were in a package of scraps I picked up at a recycle center a few years ago.  I'd love to find more but don't know how to search for it without a name or manufacturer.

Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks so much!

--Nancy.
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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Buckeye Beauty Blocks for Rainbow Scrap Challenge

I've been wanting to participate in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) at Kathy's Quilts for a while but couldn't decide on a block I'd like to make in a dozen different colors.  But I have a baby quilt to make and baby's mom thought greens would be good.  Then I saw that the RSC color for May is green.  This month I'm in!

So here are three green (and --sorry to include it--one brown) Buckeye Beauty blocks.   (Ignore the tape holding them to my wall if you can.)  This is a super easy and fast block:  two 4-patches, two half-triangle squares.  It has just 11 seams if you cut and sew each piece separately.


They're pretty scrappy, and will continue that way.  I'm trying to use just two fabrics in each block but the blocks may get scrappier if I have all but one square or triangle of a fabric, in which case I'll substitute.  I'll also be using other colors.  I can't make myself do a baby quilt in just two colors.

These blocks are really a try-out for a quilt.  There's another block I'll probably make before deciding which I like better.

I'm linking this post to Scrappy Saturday at So Scrappy.  Thanks for hosting, Angela.

--Nancy.
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Friday, May 6, 2016

One Monthly Goal and #BraveQuilter for May

I could choose finishing the hand quilting on the border blocks of this quilt for May's One Monthly Goal (OMG).  With the center finished, I have only the outer half blocks to quilt and, at that, one long side is nearly finished.  But because it will be fairly easy to just keep going with this quilt, I thought I'd choose a goal that's a bit more challenging for May.


So, my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for May is to add two borders to this quilt, below.  That will be challenging, mostly because borders and I have to work hard to cooperate.  (I've made only one quilt with more than one border.)

Not only am I claiming this as my OMG, I'm also going to be a #BraveQuilter this month.  The idea is to set a goal to accomplish something that is challenging to you or that you haven't tried before.

I'm dragging my feet with the borders on this quilt.  One of these borders will have many small pieces.  Can I get make them into a long, straight strip and then pin and sew the strip so it doesn't havve waves around the edge?  The other challenge will be color placement on that middle border.  I always aim for perfect but sometimes (well, to be honest, often nearly always) I have to settle for the best I can do.  Truly, there probably isn't one perfect placement for all the colors in that border, anyway.

I am sometimes tempted to take the easy way, the safe way, in a creative effort (one border and be done) but I remind myself that by doing challenging things I learn something in the process.  Always learning is a good thing.

I'm linking this post to
OMG:  May Goalsetting! at Red Letter Quilts and
Brave Quilter May Linky at Pink Doxies

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Closer to a Decision (I think)

I added the narrow tan border around these stars with brown sashing, sure I would want it there before adding anything else to the edges of this quilt.  It seems to set off and separate the center from whatever's going to happen around the edge.

I laid out colors from the stars in border fashion and looked at those for a few days as I passed into and out of the room.   (Do any of you think "circus" when you look at these fabrics around the edges?)

For me, it's not really good enough to lay out fabrics like this -- fat quarters folded to look like I think I may want them -- when in the end I would probably use shorter pieces of fabric.  But I can't make myself cut up yardage or even a fat quarter when I know I may not use it or may want a different size in the end.  I have enough scraps already. 

Next I added a scrappy light border alongside the strips of colors. 
I think in my mind I'd always intended to use the light scraps to create a border, repeating the effect of the scrappy blocks behind the stars.  But somehow it doesn't satisfy.

This morning I took away the light scraps and tried a brown border beside the colors (imagining shorter strips of color).

Hmm.  Is this is the kind of quilt I think could go either way -- light border or brown border?  After living with the other options for a few days each, maybe brown is best.

I'm not ready to cut and stitch yet.  I need to let it rest and look at it for a day or two before I decide.  (And if I'm choosing this for my One Monthly Goal, I really do need to decide in the next few days.)  But I think I'm closer to a decision.

I'm linking this post to Linky Tuesday Party, Design WallWOW at Esther's Blog, Let's Bee Social #123, and Oh Scrap!.  Thanks for hosting, ladies.

And that you, readers, for visiting.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Accomplished:  One Monthly Goal for April

At the beginning of April I determined (in this post) that I would finish hand quilting all the blocks in the center of this quilt.


I'm pleased to say that yesterday I accomplished that goal.  (And won't we all be pleased when this quilt is finally finished, down to the binding, so we won't have to see it over and over again, post after post?!  I know I will be!)

You may be able to see the pins around the edges of the quilt.  Those are in the 20 half-block setting triangles around the edges yet to be quilted.

I'm linking this post to OMG:  It's Finished, April Link-up Party! at Red Letter Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Heidi.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How She Wound Her Bobbin

When I see sewing notions (at the thrift store or if we happen to stop at a yard sale) -- a box with a package of unopened Singer needles, some pins, a few bobbins, spools of thread, and buttons -- all for a dollar, they're mine.  This bobbin and a few others were in a box I bought last year.


I know this isn't the clearest photo but I think you can see enough detail.  The owner of this bobbin tied the end of the thread around one of the holes in the bobbin, then wound some thread onto the bobbin.  And then she used a different color of thread, tied it around one of the holes, and wound more thread.  And repeated the process several more times.  There were five different colors of thread on this bobbin.

Did she wind all the thread on the same day?  Did she use the first color and then later, when she needed a different color, wind the second color onto the same bobbin, perhaps because she didn't have but one or two bobbins?  I'm puzzled about why she tied the thread around the holes.  (They were so tightly tied I had a hard time getting the point of my seam ripper under the thread.)  Do you tie the ends of thread around the hole in the bobbin?

I am always fascinated by others' sewing notions.  Are you, too?

--Nancy.
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