Sunday, May 20, 2018

Hands2Help Quilt

My donation to this year's Hands2Help charity quilt challenge was a scrap quilt that came from bonus half-square triangles resulting from another quilt (blogged about HERE).

The fabric is from a beautiful layer cake of Aspen Frost I'd won in the H2H participants' giveaway in 2016.
Once I sewed all the bonus HSTs together, I added a wide border to bring it up to a comfortable lap quilt size, about 58 x 63.
I used some other winter-themed fabrics in the scrappy backing.
This was sent off to Quilty Hugs for Happy Chemo.  My hope is that it will brighten someone's day, perhaps during the holiday season, as they're going through treatment and recovery.

During the past few months, I've also donated a few quilts locally.  There was an incident in our city earlier in the year where a man was making explosives in his apartment and there was an explosion and fire.  Not only did he destroy himself and his own apartment, but the entire complex had to be evacuated and, some weeks later, leveled completely due to the risk of further explosions and structural instability.  Fifteen or so families were never able to return to their homes after the initial blast. 

There were several fundraisers in the community to raise money for those displaced.  I went through my quilt closet and selected three quilts to be donated for silent auctions or raffles.

This 16-patch and X-block quilt (blogged HERE and HERE) was one I'd made a couple years ago during Sarah's Sweet 16 Quilt Along, in advance of the 2015 Hands2Help challenge (I had held onto this quilt and made and donated another to H2H that year).
In March, I donated this to the local fire department's fundraiser for the displaced victims of the apartment explosion, which raised a total of over $20,000.
This Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt was one I'd made in a quilt-along with my friend Marei a couple years ago.  It went to another successful fundraiser for the apartment families.
It has been heartwarming to see the community response in coming together to help the folks affected by this tragedy.

Linking to:  Confessions of a Fabric Addict - H2H Final Linkup

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Sundry 5-6-18

Spring has finally arrived, all of a sudden it seems.  Hard to believe that this was the backyard view just two and a half weeks ago.

Now the landscape has transformed into a sea of green, dotted with golden daffodils, dandelions, hyacinths, tulips, etc. 

(Mallards enjoying the new greenery and mud puddles at the park.)
I've done a little raking, some mulching, but no digging in the dirt quite yet (it's been pretty wet).  Looking forward to it, though.

Went for a walk and gained 10 pounds...
 
One glorious spring morning this week, as I hiked through the neighborhood enjoying the bird songs on the warm breeze, I noticed it must also be that time of year when the city crews pick up random household items, the stuff that doesn't go in the usual trash bin.  There were various piles sitting at the curb as I passed through the blocks.  Broken bed frames, pet-ravaged furniture, damaged dressers, ancient plastic flowerpots, etc.

Coming up on my walk in one such pile were a couple of hard-used Coleman coolers and shattered shelving unit.  As I got closer, however, something else caught the corner of my eye.

Sitting on the ground in an open cardboard box were two crocks, a smaller brown one nested inside a larger light colored one.  I stopped and removed the smaller crock so I could hoist the larger crock out of the box, because it looked like it could be—why, yes indeed it was—a Red Wing!

If I had been thrifting in a store, this would have been a "Start the car!" moment—when you find something too good to be true.  Your insides are jumping up and down, but you keep a poker face, play it cool, and make a beeline for the checkout and the safety of your getaway vehicle.

Back at the curb, it was 10 seconds, tops, and I was scuttling back down the sidewalk on my way home, now 10 pounds heavier, cradling a dirty, paint spattered crock.

A quick bath and a couple minutes with a razor blade to remove the red paint (talking about the crock here), it was spiffed up and ready for some "after" shots. 


I was expecting to discover at least a hairline crack or a chip or two, but it was pristine!  Now it's ready for some spring flowers—if I can bring myself to fill it with dirt, that is.  Maybe I'll find a pot that will fit inside.

What I couldn't quite throw away...

I was tidying up in the sewing room the other night when I grabbed what remained of Dad's three ties and took a couple steps toward the garbage can with them.  But then I stopped and laid the silky fabric back down.  Just toss it already and move on.  But am I really done with it?  There isn't much there to do anything with.  It was late, I was tired, so decided to sleep on it.

The next morning, I was still on the fence, but I started playing with the pieces on the table, like a jigsaw puzzle.  I laid out what could be sewn together into a slab of "made fabric" and then started doing just that.  Thinking this was probably an exercise in futility, but at least I'd spend a few more minutes playing with it, and mentally processing, before tossing it out, and maybe that's all I needed to do.

Eventually I had two slabs, each a little smaller than a sheet of paper.  I happened to have a 6.5-inch square ruler on the table and put that down on top of the slabs in various ways, looking through it like a camera lens for an interesting vignette.  

Finally, I cut a square from each slab.  The center of a wonky star, perhaps?  Maybe I could even squeak out some of the star points from the leftover bits from the slabs?

So that's what I did, using Dad's shirt scraps for the blue background and red star points.

And today I made a second one with the other center square from ties, the rest from shirts.  My thought is to make two 18-inch pillows from these big blocks.  I've got a large piece of denim from one of Dad's shirts that will make a great pillow back for one of them.  I'll rustle up something else for the other.

I guess reconsidering the fate of the ties was a good move after all.

There's a chain a-coming...

I also started cutting strips for a Carolina Chain quilt, a Bonnie Hunter/Quiltville free pattern, which can be found HERE. 

Started sewing a couple of these together, just to see how it might go.  Sometimes I have doubts about whether my "lights" and "darks" are going to work together overall.  That ever happen to you?

You wonder, will it be okay or just a beautiful mess?  After putting a few together, I'm ready to trust the process and let things take their course.  So we'll see.

Housekeeping and a boo-boo...

I checked my email subscription list for this blog last week and was surprised to find that during the time I had not been blogging much during the first part of 2018, over 1,000 new email subscriptions had been added.  Why all the sudden interest in this small, semi-neglected corner of the blogosphere, I wondered? 

Turns out, on closer analysis, these seemed to be bogus email addresses all ending in @outlook.com, likely planted by a bot of some sort.  A little maintenance/housekeeping was going to be required to remove these.  The bummer was, I was going to have to delete each and every one of the bogus addresses by hand, all 1,000-something of them.

But I did that over the course of a few days, a few hundred at a time.  Unfortunately, at one point I got a little carried away in the rhythm of it (click delete, enter okay...click delete, enter okay), and I accidentally removed a handful (maybe about 4) legitimate email subscribers.  If you have received this blog post in your email, you were not one of them, so no worries.

However, if you subscribed to the blog by email between February 19 and the third week of April, and you aren't seeing this post in your email, I sincerely apologize and ask that you kindly take a moment to re-subscribe. 

The bogus email subscriptions have no effect whatsoever on legitimate subscribers.  It's just something I need to be aware of and handle on my end if it comes up again.

As always, thank you all so much for reading!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Thrifting and Stash Enhancement

One day a few weeks ago, I met up with my sister in a neighboring town.  We planned to go for a walk and then have lunch and catch up.  We agreed to meet up in the parking lot of the True Value hardware store, but since I got there first, I went into the store to look around.  It'd been quite a while, maybe 10 years, since I'd been in there and I remembered there used to be a fabric section tucked back in the corner of the store when it shared space with Ben Franklin.  

Ben Franklin was a "dime store" kind of place, back before the big box stores were popular (and everywhere).  Little towns might have a Ben Franklin, where they sold all sorts of household items and other stuff.

I don't know what happened to Ben Franklin stores, but this True Value store still had the fabric section back along two short walls, and, oh my gosh, you guys, it was great!
By that I mean, not a huge selection, but what WAS there was some pretty nice stuff!  And they were having a sale where everything was 30% off—which might not sound like such a big deal, but when most of the original bolt prices are $5.99 to $7.99 a yard for popular brand fabric, that is fabulous!



Not pictured are some blender type fabrics, and I also found a 108" wide backing at $8.99 a yard, minus 30% off—plus I signed up for the True Value rewards card at the checkout counter, and they gave me another 10% off my total purchase.

(This was a thrift store find - I thought it looked like brains, at first, but it's raspberries!)
I've also been doing a little thrift store shopping here and there.  Trying not to get carried away, just looking for more useful things like fabric, thread, zippers, drinking glasses, etc.  I've driven loads TO the thrift store since the first of the year, in sorting out Dad's effects, and in general, my desire is to keep more stuff going out than coming in.

However...when your husband helpfully points out two matching pieces of mid-century vintage Royal Haeger pottery you just so happen to collect, what are you going to do?
(Vintage Royal Haeger)
That's right.  You are going to take them home.

On a different thrift store stop, I found some pretty iced tea glasses to replace the ones we've lost over the past year (let's just say "Don't break my dishes" has become a popular refrain when Somebody is loading and unloading the dishwasher). 

So I went up to the cash register to pay for the glasses, which were going to set me back a whopping two dollars, and the lady said, "Did you draw a paddle?"  

Huh? I blinked.  "Uh...no?" I finally replied.

She reached for a pail of paint stirrers ("paddles") and told me to pick one.  The one I chose had the number 75 written in black marker on the far end of it.

"Oh, 75 percent off!" she clucked.  "That's a good one!  Do you want to shop some more?"

She did not have to ask me twice.  I dashed back to the "art department" of the store and pulled a large, professionally framed and matted original watercolor off the wall.  It had a price tag of $39.99, which seemed completely reasonable for that kind of work, but it wasn't something I really needed.  Until that moment.

"You found something!" the lady said as I strode back to the register a few minutes later.

I did, indeed.  
It's signed by "Dick Greene."  I don't know anything about the artist, but I think he did a brilliant job(Pardon the reflection of my door window on the glass.)

It's now hanging on the wall in my entryway.  He's watching you!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fall Visit to Wisconsin Quilt Museum

When I wasn't blogging much these past several months, I was still taking pictures as if I were.
(Someone plowed into this sign near the Quilt Museum - note the street name!)
And even though I wasn't doing much in the way of  making quilts, I did some quilt-related things here and there.  Like visit an exhibit at the Wisconsin Quilt Museum, attend a talk by Heidi Parkes, and take in a local quilt show.  More on those last two another time.

In late November, we visited the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts for the exhibit titled "In Death."
("Raw Emotion" by Victoria Findlay Wolfe)
We stopped in on our way through the area for another event, and did a fairly quick walk through due to time constraints.  
("Unresolved" by Ruth Marchese)
I took a lot of photos of the quilts, as well as of the information posted for each one, so I could read about and appreciate these pieces more later.
Given what was happening with my dad's declining health at the time, I also needed time to process the subject on my own terms.

("Jim's Medicine Bag" by Karen Ann Hoffman)
("Streak O'Lightning II" by Katherine Knauer)
Contrary to what one might think, it wasn't an altogether somber exhibit.  The wide range of creativity of expression and imagination on display in each of the quilts was the transcendent take-away.
("My Epitaph Quilt" by Susan Lenz)
 
 
The detail on many of these pieces was extraordinary.  Beading, embroidery, buttons, lace and other embellishments, and words, not to mention the quilting.
("Free of Bonds" by Jill Kerttula)
 
 
Oftentimes we are captivated by pretty fabrics, but these quilts really drew you in by what they had to say and how they were saying it.
("Leaving" by Jill Kerttula)
There were many more on display, but these were a few of the highlights.  I'm glad we took the opportunity to see the exhibit before it closed.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dutch Rose Baby Quilt

I've got a finish, fresh off the machine today.  We're having round three of winter here this weekend, so it's been a good time to hole up in the sewing room and let this storm snow, hail, rain, sleet, and blow itself out.  As I write this, I hear the neighborhood starting to hum with the sound of snowblowers, so the wintry weather may be winding down as well.

My friend Kathy is going to be a grandma again soon and commissioned me to make another baby quilt.  This baby's going to be a girl.  Kathy sent me a picture of the baby's room for inspiration—pink walls, white or maybe off-white drapes, wall accents and crib, gray carpeting, and an interesting, almost vintage-looking area rug with what looked like a raspberry-colored winding floral motif.

That was enough to go on.  The cogs started turning.  I pulled some fabrics and got to work.


I decided to make a Dutch Rose block, but super-size it.  I used the tutorial HERE.  This looks a lot like the popular Swoon block from a few years ago, with some slight differences in construction.
I figured I'd double the size of it.  How hard could that be?  Just double the cutting dimensions and that should be that, right?  Wrong!
Which I found out after having sewn about half of the pieces, and they weren't matching up when I went to join them together.  It took a few minutes of stewing about it until it dawned on me that by doubling the cutting dimensions, I had also doubled the seam allowance.  Doh!

So the next day, I started un-sewing and trimming all the pieces down by 1/4 inch on all sides.  Everything went together smoothly from there to complete the big block and the rest of the quilt top.  It ended up about 45 x 45 inches square.
I had some bonus HST units left over and played around with those, incorporating them into the quilt back.
Check out the neutral gray fabric on the back.  How sweet is that!
I also used some more of those bonus pieces and scraps to make a mug rug for Grandma Kathy, something I've been doing the past few times I've made baby quilts for her.  

That way she gets to keep a special memento for herself after she gives the quilt away.

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