Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Using Star Wars Scraps and a Hole In the Barn Door Begins

I had a mind to use up the Star Wars themed scraps that someone gifted me this past year.  I had small bits of this and that, most of them less than a fat quarter but one bigger piece between a half and two-thirds of a yard.  So I just started cutting what I had into 4.5-inch squares, trying to get the most out of what was there, and then arranged them in a streak of lightning way on the design wall.  I filled in with other scraps that coordinated and soon enough I had something baby quilt or small throw quilt size.

When you're working with a limited number of squares of certain fabrics, it's takes more fiddling to even things out.  

That's a polite way of saying: This took for-freaking-ever.  But the top got done.  

As always, there were leftovers.  I'd been thinking of making another string quilt to whittle down the scrap pile.  Coincidentally, I was catching up on my YouTube subscriptions and came across this video from Just Get It Done Quilts where she was piecing strips and crumbs onto 3-inch wide adding machine tape.  I didn't have any of that lying around, but I did have a pad of tracing paper that was 9 inches wide, so I cut a few pages of that into 3x12 inch strips and started sewing strings onto that.  No plan, just mindless and fun piecing.

Then a couple days later, I landed on Chantal's blog, At the Corner of Scraps and Quilts, where she was making Hole in the Barn Door (HITBD) blocks with strings and solids.  I loved them!  What a great idea for my string strips, I thought.

And so it began.

I've modified the size of my HITBD block to use the width of the 3-inch strings.  That means that for each block, I'm cutting:

  • Two 6-inch squares of solid fabric (for HSTs)
  • Two 6-inch squares of background fabric (for HSTs)
  • One 5.5-inch square of solid (for center)
  • Four 3x5.5-inch rectangles from background fabric
  • Four 3x5.5-inch string-pieced rectangles

So far I've got six HITBD blocks done or almost done.  I have no idea how many I'll make, but I'll probably keep making them until I run out of background fabric or colorful solids.  Strings?  I'll never run out of those!!  

That pad of tracing paper I picked up at Goodwill is the greatest thing for string piecing.  It's very stable but thinner than, say, telephone book paper, which is my usual go-to.  It tears off easier than anything I've used so far.  Just fold it back once along the stitching line and it separates like magic.  Could it be because it's old and brittle (does paper get old?).  I don't know, but I love it.

I also had an idea for my Table Scraps Challenge project for the end of the month, so I went ahead and got working on that.  Here's a sneak peak.

That's about all the news from the sewing room.  Hubs steam mopped my kitchen floor so I should be basting a quilt (or three) while it's clean, but my knees are griping the past few days due to gardening and biking.  Yes, I am happy to report that on Monday I went for my first bike ride since my hand surgery in July.  Woo-hoo!  It felt good to be out pedaling again!  My hand felt good.  Knees, not so much, lol. 

We have had such a beautiful, warm fall so far.  I am enjoying every bit of it.  I do have to get my evening walk in early because of the shorter days, but there's been no frost on the pumpkin yet.

The other day when the morning sun hit the neighbor's ash tree, it lit up like a torch!  

So many ash trees have died due to disease (emerald ash borer) this past year or two, and it's been sad to see so many of them standing naked throughout the city.  We had to have ours removed this past winter.  Our neighbor's tree has been spared thus far, though, so I am especially grateful to see it in full color again this year.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

More Crocheted Cuties

How's it going?  Are you hanging in there?

Up to your eyeballs?

All is well here.  I don't mean to scare you.

Just horsing around.

You're in for a real treat!

Puns aside, I thought I'd show you a few more cute crocheted things made by my daughter Michelle over the past several weeks.  You can see some other ones in a previous post HERE.

I don't know much at all about crocheting, so learning the name for this type of thing was even new to me.  It's called amigurumi.  And yes, I had to Google that.

I call them adorable!  She really makes it look easy-peasy (sorry, couldn't resist), but I'm sure it's not.

These green cuties were a fun little surprise for my birthday in August.  They make me smile right back!  The pod is only about 5 inches long and the happy peas are each smaller than a ping pong ball.  

After crocheting the first couple items, Michelle developed a preference for certain types of yarn.  Like most hobbies, we find out what works and what doesn't through practice and experience.

She named this sweet little elephant Potato Chip because of the shape of his ears.  I got to hold Potato Chip when I visited recently, and he is so soft but surprisingly well stuffed, so he's steady on his feet and doesn't flop over.  He stands near her window sill, keeping watch over the neighborhood.

This trout was requested by a coworker of Michelle's.  She took a salmon pattern and modified it.  I think she did a great job!

Her cat Brooklyn (aka Keaky) got first sniff of the ice cream cone.  He seems pretty nonchalant, but he's an elder statesman so has seen a lot already.  It takes a bit to impress him.

Or maybe he was just waiting for the cherry on top?!

Thanks, Michelle, for sharing your crochet creativity with me and the readers!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

A Couple of Small Quilt Finishes

I finished a couple of small quilts this week.  Hooray for progress!  I also finished physical therapy for my hand.  Whoop-whoop!  

Fortunately, I didn't need the splint for the left middle finger that may be developing trigger finger.  I'm just supposed to keep an eye on it and make an appointment with the hand clinic if it gets worse.  The left pinky finger that had surgery will just take time to heal completely and the swelling may last up to a year, she said.  I went down a size in the compression sleeve, from a large to a medium, so it feels like things are going in the right direction.

Anyway, quilts...  Last time I mentioned I was able to practice my quilting again on a small scrappy piece.  Since then I finished binding it and have given it to my niece's little girl, Jade, as a doll quilt.  

Jade's going to have a new little sibling around Christmastime, so I'll be starting a quilt for the expected baby soon.

This little doll quilt was made from scraps of scraps of scraps!  Scraps from mask making were turned into a Scrappy Rail Fence quilt, which yielded scraps for this doll quilt. 

The other small quilt finish is what I'm calling Little Farmer, for the farm-themed scraps it's made from.  These were leftover bonus HSTs and other scrap pieces from the County Fair quilt I put together recently.

Don't you love it when you get another whole quilt from the main quilt?  I had enough leftover fabrics for the pieced backing too.  It ended up about 45 inches square.

I imagine little ones, as they get a bit older, playing with toy tractors on it, weaving through the "fields" of corn, hay, wheat, etc.  Here it is with the John Deere tractor and wagon that my daughter and her cousins all used to play with at Grandma and Grandpa's house some 30 years ago.

I quilted it with a simple meander in a gold colored thread.  I think it turned out really cute!

This one will be donated, but I'm not sure where yet.  I have to review my list of donees and see where the best fit for it may be (size-wise, etc.).

Linking to:  Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Table Scraps Challenge - September

I've missed a few of the Table Scraps Challenge, but I'm getting back on board this month.  A couple days ago, I put on my quilting gloves for the first time since my finger surgery in early July.  Yay!  

I did a little practicing on a scrappy piece that will probably become a doll quilt.  Just some easy loopy free motion quilting, but boy, was I rusty.  (I'm going to use my oddball gray binding scraps, which I was auditioning in the photo below.)

I had another practice piece sitting on my sewing table from an orphan block.  It's actually the first test block I made from my Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt pattern way back in 2012.  Earlier this year, I had come across the block in the orphan box and decided to sandwich it together as a practice pad to test the stitch tension on my machine.  So one of the petals was quilted (happily, the tension was fine), but the rest of it was not.

Hmm...why not finish quilting the block to practice my rusty quilting, and then (provided it doesn't turn out to be a total piece of garbage) bind it and make a little table mat?  It sounded like a plan.

Here it is after quilting and trimming.  Size is about 16-1/2 inches square.

I think I tend to do better quilting smaller things, maybe because it feels like I have more control over the area when I'm not wrestling extra fabric.  At any rate, it was good practice.

I bound it in a pumpkin colored solid fabric to play up the brown and orange bits in the flowers.

Here's a view of the quilting from the back.

So that's how my September table mat came to be.  It will go on a small table in my bedroom.

Linking to the Table Scraps Challenge link party at The Joyful Quilter.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Hunting for the Trash

 Alternative title, "How Blogging Saved the Arrowhead Collection."  

Whew, I am sighing with relief!  Earlier today, I was all set to write a post about how I finally framed the arrowheads my dad had collected through the years and got them out of the metal recipe box I'd stashed them in and into a decent shadowbox I could hang on the wall.  An interesting enough story.  

But when I got to editing pictures for the post, something was not right.  

I'd taken a photo of the grouping laid out on my cutting table a couple weeks ago, back when I was puttering in the sewing room and tidying things up.  I'd begun with the intention of putting them in a wheel-like configuration.  

Later that morphed into something more free-form and asymmetrical.  Along the way, I took several photos to share with my daughter Michelle for her input as to various ideas and iterations.

In looking back through the pictures today, though, I noticed my "final" shadowbox (directly below) was two points short!  

I went back and forth between photos and counted and recounted.  Sure enough, I was missing three arrowheads!  Two nice ones and another I'd decided not to include because it looked a little too perfect, like a souvenir arrowhead.

Where could they be?!  I quickly searched my sewing room, but I already had a sinking feeling: I'd thrown them away!

Then:  What day was it?  When was garbage pickup day?  Were they still in the dumpster?

With rubber gloves and mask, I went out to the dumpster with my husband to fish out the bag.  Through the clear plastic, I could see the narrow strip of batting I'd wrapped them in when I'd stored them in the recipe box.  Right near the top of the bag, fortunately.  Please-please-please let them be in there!

I opened the bag and pulled out the wad of batting.  I could feel a couple faint lumps.  I opened it carefully and there they were!  Woo-hoo—and whew, too!

After washing and drying them, I went straight to work, reopening the shadowbox and mounting the almost-lost arrowheads.  Luckily there was a little space on the upper right and left sides where I could squeeze them in and not throw things off noticeably.

Dad found arrowheads as a boy in the 1930s and '40s, usually while walking with his brothers and friends through farm fields in the spring.  The family truck farm was on the edge of a great marsh fed by the Rock River, which had been home to native people for thousands of years.  

I myself never went arrowhead hunting...until today.

When dad passed away a few years ago, my siblings and I divided up his small collection.  I stored my share in an old recipe box on a sewing room shelf.  When I came across them again recently, I decided it was time to bring them into the light of day and display them somehow.  So I bought a 10x10-inch shadowbox on Amazon.  

I had a couple old deerskins from my father-in-law from his hunting days.  He'd had them tanned by a local company in 1992, according to the receipt that was still in the box.  Many hunters in this area used to tan their deer hides and have them made into gloves, slippers/moccasins, coats, etc.  My thinking was to use the deerskin as a background for the arrowheads.  I cut off a small piece to use as a color sample to see how it might look in the frame with the arrowheads on top.

Long story short, after a couple layout attempts and with Michelle's helpful input, I ended up using a piece of black leather as the background and layered the deerskin on top.  Even though I'd just haphazardly cut a bit of deerskin off the big piece for a color swatch, I was starting to like the raggedy edges and asymmetrical shape of the piece.  It had movement and interest to it, and I liked that.

The black leather was from a coat my husband bought at Goodwill several years ago.  He stopped wearing it when it went too far out of style, but instead of sending it back to the thrift store, I cut the supple black cowhide apart and saved it for...whatever.  I flipped it to the reverse (suede) side as the background for a bit of textural contrast.

I used a super-strength fabric glue to glue the black leather to a foam board backing, and then the deerskin to the leather.  Then I used a hot glue gun to adhere the arrowheads.  I know that last sentence may send true arrowhead collectors into apoplexy, but it was the most workable solution for me.  I don't intend to take them out to trade with other collectors or sell or show; the shadowbox is for purely sentimental value.

So here (directly above) is the final-final result.  All arrowheads present and accounted for, on the wall next to the door of the sewing room.  What a story they tell—the original peoples', immigrant ancestors', Dad's, and my own.


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