Thursday, October 22, 2020

My Best Hopes for Quilts I Make and Give

Warmth, comfort, love, memories....



Many thanks to Gay Bomers of Sentimental Stitches who sent this in her email newsletter.

--Nancy.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Basket Play

Today was such a grey, windy, cold day, more like days we see in late fall or early winter.  It was a great day for a nap, or an old movie, or a good book.  It was not a great day, or even a good day, to look at fabric and colors for a quilt. 

I have been playing with background/sashing fabric for the Baskets of Plenty.  It didn't take me too long to realize that using hourglass blocks for sashing were a bad idea -- or at least more challenging than my brain wants to deal with right now.  There was no common denominator for length and width of the blocks to use the same size hourglass blocks for sashing.  I haven't yet abandoned the idea of using the hourglass blocks in a border.

Instead of hourglasses I've been trying out solid colors for sashing.  Well, trying them out with my photo program.









I'm not a huge fan of black but I think the baskets stand out more vibrantly against black than the other colors.  (I have no idea where to find a black fabric as black as in this photo above.  And even if I did, it probably wouldn't be black after a few washings.)  These fabric below are the only colors I already have on hand that could be used for sashing.  The photo was taken without a flash so the colors are close to true.  I'm trying to decide whether I can use several shades of a color.  I think there's already so much variety in the blocks that adding variation in the sashing would just be too much.


Which means I can choose a color I have on hand that has enough yardage or I can buy fabric.

Another thing I want to try is putting borders around each block probably using light or medium fabrics. I don't think dark fabrics would add anything to the baskets.  But we'll see.  So many options and considerations when creating a quilt.  I sometimes wish I saw it all finished early on but then I would miss the opportunity to play and explore.

I've am adapting one of Cheri's angel patterns to use at the top of the quilt.  Her angel is too narrow so I'm widening the wings, still trying to create wings I like.  No photos of her yet.

I'm so used to choosing goals that require me to make visible and specific progress on something.  I have to keep reminding myself that there's no pressure to make any decisions about this quilt, that I'm just playing, trying alternatives, and enjoying the process.  It's almost -- almost -- like not having a goal.

I hope you're having some fun, enjoying whatever you're doing.

--Nancy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Shades of Brown or, Ohio Winter Browns

This sweet little quilt is the result of a three-week sew-along offered by Lori of Humble Quilts over the past few weeks.  Thank you, Lori!  She calls it 50 Shades of Brown.  I think I will call mine Ohio Winter Browns.  It's true that these browns are all in our landscape in the winter, if we look closely.

50 Shades of Brown sew-along quilt

Both photos here were taken in natural light but the one below was in a shady area outside.  I think the first photo is closer to the true colors.  How I love browns! 

50 Shades of Brown sew-along quilt

I was behind the second week because I was out of town -- to the ocean! -- but easily caught up last week.  I'm in the process of layering this in preparation for basting and hand quilting.  We're going to be in the car for a few hours this week and, with a small hoop, I think I can easily quilt while riding.

For the sew-along, Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Finale here, and Linky Party here, where you can see the quilts of everyone who made this quilt and wanted to link a finish, including me!  Thanks again, Lori.

--Nancy.

To the Ocean

When my daughter suggested another short trip I hesitated for only a second:  the call of the ocean was too strong to resist.  It was a day's drive to Dewey Beach, Delaware.  And worth it!

I never tire of seeing the ocean and spending time at the beach.  The ocean is always the same, yet always different.



One day we drove to Lewes, just a few miles north, in hopes of touring to one of the two lighthouses.  Neither was open and it was hard to even get close to them.  In the photo below you can barely see one in the distance on the far left.  You can see both closer in the second photo below.  (We were spoiled a few years ago when we were able to climb to the top of Marblehead Lighthouse.)



Another day we drove to Assateague Island to see the wild horses.  They are free to wander all over the island and graze along the side of the road.  Sometimes they cause traffic jams while people stop to watch and take photos. 


We were warned not to approach, call, or try to touch the horses and to steer clear because they are unpredictable.  But when a horse approaches....  They didn't approach us but after getting back into our car after a walk, two horses walked into the parking lot and headed toward a van where a woman was standing with the back door open.  She suddenly realized a horse was beside her, sticking its head into the van.  She and her husband quietly moved away while the horse moved to the side of the van to investigate.  My daughter and I started laughing which alerted the couple to the fact the side door was open and the horse was trying to get inside.  No harm came and the horses wandered away.  Had that been me it would have taken an immense amount of self-control not to reach out and touch the horse.

The island is long and narrow with the length of it running parallel to the coastline.  When on the island, the eastern side looks out to the ocean, the western side toward the land.  That landward side is filled with marshy ground and shallow water.  They've built some beautiful walkways over the marshes.



On Assateague Island the waves crested further out at the same time they crested closer to shore.   It was something I don't remember seeing before.




An early morning farewell.




But, of course, I brought home shells.  They are different from the kinds that washed up in Florida.  The little black pouch is a little skate egg case, commonly called a mermaid's purse.  This one has a hole in the bottom suggesting that the skate didn't survive.




I'm looking forward to the next visit to the ocean, whenever that may be.

--Nancy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Permission to Play for One Monthly Goal

These blocks need some attention.  They've been hanging on the wall above my computer for far too long.  I look at them, enjoy them, and occasionally give a little thought to turning them into a quilt.

Cheri Payne's Baskets of Plenty

I'll be focusing on them for my One Monthly Goal this month but I'm lessening the pressure by setting the goal of giving myself permission to play with possibilities for sashing, borders, and layout for these Baskets of Plenty.  They are blocks from a Cheri Payne sew-along in her Facebook group a few years ago. 

I love these baskets and everything about them.  I especially love how they fill the background -- big, bodacious flowers and baskets -- and because they do, I think each needs more space so they're not crowded together.  Perhaps a 1"-2" border around each?  What color?  Perhaps 3" or 4" or 5" sashing between each and around the outer edge?  What colors will be good for the baskets for sashing?  I'm trying to imagine hourglass blocks for sashing, arranged so the colors are in the same orientation to give the impression of on-point squares.  And then there's the outer border, and whether to put an angel at the top.  So many possibilities.  Such potential for play!

A SMART goal has these characteristics:  specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.  I believe that all of my previous monthly goals have met those criteria.  This month's goal will be a little less SMART.  The specific this month is to play, which is both achievable, relevant, and time-bound.  But measurable?  The only ways to measure play that I can think of is by the amount of time I play -- each day or week or during the month -- or the number of variations I try (which would be really hard to measure).  So this month my specific goal will be to play with fabric and these blocks for a total of 3 hours/week over the next three weeks for a total of 9 hours of play this month.  I hope the play leads to some decisions (though that's not my goal this month)!

I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal October at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

--Nancy.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Choosing Clothing Fabric for Quilting & My One Monthly Goal Finish for September

The Blue and the Gray Civil War quilt in progress

You wouldn't think quilting 5 rows 12" long in a sashing rectangle would take very long but it does, for me at least.  One of the reasons is the fabric I used for some of the sashing rectangles on the Blue and the Gray is fabric that was once a shirt.  Though not Civil War-style it was a great, warm grey, the perfect color.  So I used it. 


I guess I hadn't checked to be sure it was good for hand quilting.  The fabric is denser than quilting cotton so I have to really push and pull the needle to get it through the three layers, sometimes 2 or 3 stitches at a time.  I can't remember when I bought this; perhaps it was an early purchase before I learned what to look for in clothing fabric. 

There are three things I do these days before buying clothing to use in a quilt.
  1. I check to be sure the fabric is 100% cotton.  I do sometimes buy linen/cotton blends and occasionally pure linen (though I've not made a linen quilt yet).  All cotton is my favorite.
  2. I evaluate the thickness of the fabric.  Some shirts are made of beautiful plaids but are really thick and tightly woven cotton.  Great for grocery/shopping bags but not so much for quilts.  Other pieces of clothing, especially women's blouses/shirts, are made of thin, fine, cotton.  It may be too dense to quilt easily or it may be just fine.  Some shirts are woven in a twill pattern.  They may quilt well or they may be too dense, and they seem to fray a little more than an even weave fabric.
  3. I carry a needle with me when I go to thrift stores and "quilt" a section of fabric to check how easily it pushes and pulls through that single layer of fabric.  I've learned that appearance won't tell me.  Some cottons look like they should be easy to quilt but aren't.
  4. I also look for wear -- threadbare elbows, tattered collar and cuffs, faded fabric on the front, etc. -- and evaluate where the fabric is less worn, then make a decision whether what's usable for a quilt is worth the cost.
The Blue and the Gray Civil War quilt in progress

My One Monthly Goal for September was to hand quilt 6 blocks, 5 cornerstones, and 8 sashing rectangles on the Blue and the Gray quilt.  I finished the goal plus more for a total of 8 blocks, 8 cornerstones, and 11 sashing strips quilted.  Yet to quilt are 2 blocks, 7 cornerstones, and 30 sashing strips.  30!  All around the edges plus a few in the center.  But only 2 or 3 of those are the dense grey fabric.

I love this quilt and most everything about it.  Even though I used the same batting I've used for other quilts, it seems heavier, thicker, somehow.  I think the backing fabric may be a little heavier than usual.  It will be a great, warm, winter quilt one of these months, probably just about the time the first snow falls here in Ohio.

I'm linking this post to the One Monthly Goal September Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Patty.

--Nancy.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Shades of Brown

When Lori of Humble Quilts announced the sew-along 50 Shades of Brown I thought it the perfect little boost to my need for new.  I thought I could fit in a small quilt as I continue to work on quilts-in-progress.  And it's hard to resist brown, one of my favorite colors.  

Here are my 17 4-patch blocks for week one.  There are some really fun fabrics, though they're hard to see in this little photo.


Many, many thanks to Janet of Rogue Quilter, Lizzy of Gone to the Beach, and Wendy of The Constant Quilter for most of the browns and three of the pinks.  At one time or another they've all sent small pieces of fabric from their own stashes.  I'm so grateful.  Thank you! 


I don't usually do mystery quilts but the idea of browns called to me.  (Did I say I love browns?)  Lori showed photos of the browns she sees in the landscape around her house now in September.  Here in Ohio we're still seeing greens, a touch of golds/bronzes/reds, and a few browns.  Our landscape turns brown in the winter.  A quick glance and one can think, Oh, it's so grey outside.  Or It's all brown!  But with a closer look one can see a great array of browns, from very dark to very light and all the shades between and adjacent.

I finished this week's blocks but I'm sorry I'll be out of town next week.  I'll have two weeks' worth of blocks to make the week after.  It shouldn't be too hard because it's a small quilt, right?

Thanks for creating and hosting this sew-along, Lori.

--Nancy.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Conversation I Overheard

maple leaf quilt blocks in autumn colors

In a previous post I showed photos of possible border fabrics for these leaves.  (So many of you weighed in on your preferences and shared your observations.  Thank you!)   I left the potential border fabrics around the edges until I finally narrowed down the choice to the teal/blue fabrics, leaving only those.  As I glanced at the quilt while walking by one day I thought I overheard this conversation.

The border fabrics said, "Look!  We are the perfect color for this quilt.  We look great with you leaves in the center."

To which the leaves replied, "You are not perfect for us.  You are too loud and noisy.  You want to claim all the attention and overpower.  We are the center and focus of this quilt.  We don't want you.  Go away and stay away!"

My first thought was, Gosh, those leaves are really bossy.  And then I thought, But they're right.  All the time I'd been admiring the beauty of the color of the border fabric without thinking of what the leaves really needed so they could be the focus of the quilt.

When I first made this top and posted it, just before I folded it up to work on again later, I think it was Lizzy who suggested no border.  I was so tired of making leaves I didn't want to hear it.  But this time, when the leaves said they didn't want a border and the quilt was a tad small without a one, I dug deep, came up with 17 more autumn fabrics for leaves, and stitched them around two sides of the quilt.  And the leaves are happy.  It's now 8 blocks x 10 blocks and approximately 72" x 90".   (It will shrink with quilting and after being washed and dried.)  Perfect for a twin bed or an afternoon nap.

Good photos are hard to come by--we've had either glaring sun or stormy, grey clouds, and I'm not a great photographer, anyway--but here are a few.  None shows the true colors.

maple leaf quilt blocks in autumn colors

I love this autumn quilt.  It brings to mind some of the things I love about fall....  Sunlight dazzling through leaves on the trees, the swirl of leaves drifting to the ground, and kicking through bright leaves on a walk.  I'm looking forward to fall.  It's my favorite season.

maple leaf quilt blocks in autumn colors

I hope I can find backing fabric that does justice to the autumn colors of this quilt.  If you happen to see a great fabric maybe you could let me know?

maple leaf quilt blocks in autumn colors

Do your quilts ever argue, make demands, or carry on conversations?  Mine seem to more often than not (and sometimes I wish they wouldn't!).

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Finished Friday at Alycia Quilts
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More
> Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

Thanks so much for visiting!
--Nancy.

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