Friday, April 9, 2021

Sweetness and Light: A Fine, Fast Finish

I call this a fast finish because from first stitch to last it took 3 months, which is really fast for me.


Just to say, I love this quilt!  I love everything about it--the colors, the fabrics, the quilting, all of it.  It is a quilt I wish I had had to wrap up my own babies when they were little.  I hope my daughter likes it.  (We probably all know the mom and dad have to like the baby's gift or it never gets used.)

None of these photos are particularly wonderful but the first and last photos are probably the most accurate as far as colors, though maybe still just a little too creamy.  Some of the photos were taken with flash and some without.
Above and below show the whole quilt, bound, washed, and dried.  It measures 41" x 49".  It lost 3" in width and 4" in length between top to a washed and dried quilt.
I used Quilters Dream Cotton Select batting.  Quilters on the Facebook Celebrate Hand Quilting page recommended it.  After I purchased and layered the quilt I learned that Quilters Dream comes in different thicknesses.  The batting was thick enough that I was a little concerned the quilt would be more like a mat than a soft, pliable, cuddly quilt, but it's just perfect.

A few close-up photos.
Definitely taken without a flash, below, but you can see the quilting better.  As I was quilting I kept thinking of Xs and Os we use as symbols for hugs and kisses.  There are plenty of both in this quilt, if one wants to think of it that way.  I'm still thinking of this quilt as "Sweetness and Light."
Perhaps sometime I will get the lighting just perfect when taking photos of my quilts.  Even in natural light these photos look "shady."

This is the backing I used.  It is from Michael Miller called Best of Sarah Jane Flannel Dolls Soft.  When I bought it online I guess I wasn't paying attention to the length of the repeat and bought just barely enough to cover the back if I placed the figures upright going across the quilt instead of  the length of the quilt.  Maybe next time I'll avoid a directional fabric for backing.
This was a bear to quilt.  I don't know if it was the thickness of the batting, or the flannel, or all the seams in the top, or a combination of two or all three.  I used regular quilting thread but the stitches are longer than I'd like.  Even so, all three layers are fastened together and I don't think they will come apart except possibly after very hearty use.

I used Prismacolor colored pencils to mark the circles as I did on a previous, similar quilt.  Much of the marking was gone by the time I finished quilting, but not all.  I washed the quilt just once and most of the rest of color is gone.  What's left will wash out when my daughter washes the quilt the next time or two.
Do you keep notes about quilts you make?  I use a Cambridge notebook with quad ruled heavyweight bond paper.  Each quilt gets a page, both front and back if needed.  I like having this information for reference. 
I keep track of sizes, cutting measurements, dates I started and finished parts of the quilt, details about batting, fabrics, thread, binding, etc.   It's very useful to me.

A last look.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
> Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> TGIFF at Devoted Quilter
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More
> Beauties Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
> Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Spring in Ohio, 2021

I only realized a few years ago that spring arrives from the ground up when I saw flowers in bloom and bushes turned green along the roadside, but the trees were still bare.  It was another few weeks or a month before the tree had leaves.  I love to watch spring unfold.   

Last week my daughter and I went to a county MetroPark where we saw two varieties of daffodils at ground level,


 hellebores, which I understand are late-winter blooming flowers, 


and Glory of the Snow blooming amongst the winter leaf debris.
Low bushes were budding green


but the trees were still bare.



Looking skyward we saw bare branches and just the least hint of red on some of the trees,
 

and more tight red buds on others.



Three days later, on April 1, we drove about two hours north to the Canton area.  By late afternoon the clouds had grown heavy and suddenly, this.
Great, huge, wet flakes fell, thick and heavy.  As beautiful as it was and as much as I would have welcomed and loved this in December, January, or February, I'm not interested in going back to winter now.  I decided it was Mother Nature's idea of an April Fool joke. 
It was a snowy drive part of the way home but the snow didn't stick and the roads were not slippery.

Five days later we drove south about an hour and a half and were greeted with lush green.  This is a 60-mph-photo, taken from the car window as we rode along.


It seems like Central Ohio is having an early spring.  Some years the daffodils don't bloom until mid-April.  We have violets in bloom now, the little tulip plant is close behind, with the iris in line to bloom near the end of the month or in early May.  Some years the iris don't bloom till June.  With an early spring, it leaves me wondering what to expect of summer.

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you're enjoying spring, whatever that looks like for your area.  If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, you're probably enjoying autumn -- may favorite season.  I would join you if I could.

--Nancy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

April's One Monthly Goal: Autumn Maples

This quilt is wildly out of season and I'd rather be quilting one in spring-like colors just now but I'm going to pick up where I left off before I began the baby quilt at the beginning of February.
At the beginning of April there were 39 blocks yet to be quilted.  My One Monthly Goal for April is to hand quilt 10 of them.

--Nancy.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

They Miss Me and March's One Monthly Goal Finish

I'm pretty sure my sewing machine and my iron have missed me this month.  I haven't touched either for weeks and weeks. 
And I find myself singing that old Cole Porter song, Night and Day, as I hand quilt this baby quilt.  You know the song, "Night and Day, you are the one.  You, only you, under the sun," or something like that.  This quilt and I have become very good friends even though some of my fingerprints may never return.  But I love it!  (The photo below may show the colors a little more accurately.)
My One Monthly Goal for March was to get the blocks sewn together and applique the circles.  I'm so pleased to say that I've exceeded that a dozen times over by getting the quilt layered, basted, and most of it quilted.  I have 7 of what look like half blocks around the edges and 2 corner blocks to finish hand quilting.  If I continue as I've begun it will be finished before the baby arrives.  I keep telling myself I can't let up the pressure till it's all quilted, though.

My last decision for this quilt will be choosing binding.  I can't decide between the fabric I used for the sashing or a lighter color.  Not sure yet.

This volunteer tulip appeared near our peony plants a few weeks ago.  I haven't been out to look at it but I think it's probably about to bloom by now.
We've had beautiful spring weather--an early spring.  But folklore says there will be three more snows after the forsythia blooms, and I haven't seen one in bloom yet.  I love winter and snow but now that spring-like weather is here--with plants in bloom and buds on the trees--winter seems out of place and time.  I've mostly enjoyed the spring from inside, with a quilt on my lap and a needle between my fingers.  There's more spring to come so I'll enjoy it when the little quilt is finished and I'll spend more time with my sewing machine and iron.

I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal March Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty. 

--Nancy.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Four-Patch Blocks for ScrapHappy Day

My leader/ender project, when I remember to stitch them and have pinned enough ahead, are these 1½" squares, stitched into 4-patch blocks.


They're all cut from leftover bits of fabric after cutting larger blocks.


Two blocks sewn together, light and bright, all in autumn-like colors - rich reds, oranges, golds, a variety of greens, teals/blues, browns, etc..



What will these leader/ender four-patch blocks become?  They could become quadruple 4-patch blocks,


or nine-patch blocks.


Four-patches set alternately with another fabric.

or four-patches on-point with the bright color vertical.

Or they could become 4- or 9-patch blocks set in the middle of four triangles.

Then again, maybe they could be used in larger blocks, like this star block,


or even in a Burgoyne Surrounded.  And I know there are plenty of other blocks that use 4- or 9-patch blocks. 

I know I need to make many, many more before I'll enough for anything but a little quilt.  Sometimes it's great to just sit and mindlessly sew, without having to think about the placement as I do when making a more complicated block.  These work as leaders/enders or for that mindless sewing.  Some day I'll have enough to make a quilt!

The baby quilt from my ScrapHappy Day post in February is coming along really well. 
The blocks are sewn together, the circles are appliqued, it's layered, pin-basted, and I have several blocks quilted.  I'm still aiming for a mid-April finish, hopefully before the baby arrives.  There's lots of hand quilting in my future during the next month.

This post was written to participate in ScrapHappy Day, hosted by Kate and Gun.  Head over to either of their blogs to see their scrappy projects and find links to the other participants' posts showing their delightful use of scraps.

--Nancy.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Odd and Unusual - Saturday Snapshots

I have loved all the snow this winter and I hope we get more before spring comes, but this week's skies have been ones to fall in love with.  This honey locust shades our house from May through September but leafless, it gives a great view of our beautiful blue sky on Friday.


And now for the odd and unusual.  In January I was sitting in our local BMV waiting to renew my license.  This is the shadow I noticed on the floor.  From lettering on the window, I think. 


Inside a candy wrapper, who knew chocolate could make such an impression!


Then there was this reflection and shadow on the table one afternoon.


And last, my daughter's cat.  Well, almost her cat, more like the shadow of her cat.  She has two and brings them along when she visits.  I don't want cats in the kitchen so we keep them corralled in other rooms.  Occasionally adventurous Jane finds her way to the living room.  We knew she was in there but when we called, she ignored us.  (Typical cat.)  Then my daughter noticed Jane's shadow as she walked along the window sill.  She probably thought she was still hidden.




I'm still playing the Minimalist Game, discarding one item on the first day of the month, two on the 2nd day of the month, etc.  In January and February I passed on or discarded over 571 items.  I have to tell you, though, that about 75 or 80 of those were digital photographs.  I also got rid of income tax files that were 7 to 18 years old, some outdated food, other stuff....  I am such a collector and a saver.  This has been a fun game for me.  I haven't done a deep dive into closets yet, just touching the surfaces right now.  I'll be in good shape if I can keep it up for a few years.  Haha.

I hope you're having a good weekend, enjoying life, and staying healthy.

--Nancy.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Baby Quilt - March's One Monthly Goal

This is the baby quilt, in pieces, for my coming grandbaby, and this is how the blocks looked yesterday morning.  About half were sewn, the rest needed two seams to become blocks.


By bedtime last night, all the blocks had been sewn and pressed.  I didn't have enough of Edyta Sitar's Hops fabric for sashing, couldn't find it locally, and knew that ordering it would set me back at least a week.  So I used a red/pink/white striped sashing that had been a shirt.  In real life it's really close to, just a tad darker than the color of the Hops fabric.  I like it and am happy with it.


This morning I laid out the blocks.  I truly wish I could get a good photograph of these blocks:  they are full of light.  There are a few that I may replace--darker ones--(or not) or rearrange (probably).  As I look at the blocks now I see that I could have sewn four squares together and added the sashing and cornerstones around the outside of them.  It probably would have helped with color balance.  That's a lesson to use next time.


After the blocks are sewn I'll decide the size of the circles to be appliqued to the center of each four blocks.  It's hard to tell which size will be best because the unsewn top is not the real size, but if I had to decide right now I would use the smaller circles which have 3" diameters or the medium which is 3½" in diameter. 


There's plenty of pinning, sewing, and pressing before I try out circles with real fabric, though.

I searched for flannel at the local quilt shop and found the perfect fabric--in a bib, with none of it on a bolt.  So I came home and searched online (for a long time) before I found this, from Michael Miller at fabric.com.  (What an efficient and speedy company!)  To give you an idea of size of the images, the bunny in the buggy with the girl is about 3" wide. It's hard to tell about fabric when looking online.  For some reason I didn't realize that the orientation of the images was vertical.  I bought enough and extra for the back but I envisioned cutting the length into two pieces, sewing them together, and having the seam go horizontally across the quilt instead of the length of the quilt.  I'll probably have to match the motifs for the quilt back for continuity, which I would have had to do anyway.
I like this fabric a lot but I continue to question the wisdom of using flannel.  I want the softness of flannel but my experience has been that it often balls, which would be horrible after spending time quilting it.  The ladies at the Celebrate Hand Quilting Facebook page tell me that quality flannel won't ball and several said that's all they use for the back of their quilts.  I'll know more after I wash and dry it.  If worse comes to worst, I'll buy regular cotton at the quilt shop.  What is your experience and opinion using flannel for quilts?

I'm all set with batting and thread.  I bought Quilters Dream Cotton Select batting at the recommendation of others.  The batting I've used in the past is no longer available, at least not where I used to buy it.  When this one is recommended by others, how bad can it be?


All this to say that my One Monthly Goal for March is to
> sew those 30 blocks, above, into a quilt top
> decide whether or not to applique circles and if so,
> prepare and applique them to the top. 
It would be great if I could have this layered and basted, ready to quilt sooner (which could happen) but that's not part of my goal this month.

I'm linking this to One Monthly Goal March link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.  I really appreciate having this motivation to work a little faster than I otherwise might.

--Nancy.

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