Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tea Towel Challenge January Check-In

I guess I better quit procrastinating on the Tea Towel Challenge January Check-In and post while it's still January.

This month we are to make our tea towel and fabric selections.  My tea towel is a Georges Briard 1970s vintage print with some interesting design elements to play off. 

The fabrics are pulled from stash, but they are subject to change.  One of the reasons I delayed posting was that I intended to do some fabric shopping with the TTC in mind, but that hasn't happened yet.  It may still happen or I may just decide to use what's in the stash.

I really like the crazy red/white/black print in the pile below, but I suspect it may be too distracting.  It's a wild card fabric. 

The orange fabric with the leaf or seed shapes below is another possibility.

Beyond the towel and these fabrics, I haven't a sketch or a plan or a clue!  I trust the concept will evolve organically whenever I sit down to play.  I kind of like that idea, although (because?) it almost guarantees some interesting challenges along the way.

Anyone else want to play along?  It's still January for a couple more days.  See the details and other players' links at:

Join me for the Tea Towel Challenge 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ship Shape Finished

The second quilt finished this past weekend is Ship Shape.  Right around a year ago I started this quilt from my stash of thrifted men's shirts.  I had been inspired by a photo in Country Living magazine years earlier, which I had ripped out and saved in a binder. 

I found the free block pattern, Sail Boat Block 2, at Quilter's Cache website.  I modified the cutting instructions so each block would turn out 9-1/2 inches square.  That meant cutting the small HST blocks at 3-7/8 inches and the larger at 6-7/8 inches.

The blocks were then set 7 across x 8 down.  I liked the no-border look of the inspiration piece, so I just bound my quilt in a red and black print from JoAnn.  There is one pale red pinstripe shirt used in the quilt, and the binding brings that out while providing a nice accent for the rest of the shirt fabrics.

Ship Shape was shipped off to Melissa at Sew Shabby Quilting for an all over panto called Van Gogh, which I thought looked like swirling ocean waves as much as Starry Night.  Love the effect!

Melissa did a fantastic job, and fast!  I'm sure my backing was a challenge  (and I'm sure that is an understatement).  I was using up a piece of blue and white older fabric in the backing, as well as a strip of large shirt fabric blocks.  The backing was just barely big enough, were I to have quilted it on my domestic machine.  When I decided to send the flimsy out for quilting, I added muslin strips on all sides of the backing so it would be able to be loaded on a longarm.

I knew it was going to be close, but until I trimmed the quilt after it came home and saw that on a couple sides I was shaving off only about an eighth inch of the actual backing, I didn't realize just how close.  I'm sorry, Melissa, for any gray hairs I caused!  I won't do that again, I promise.

Ship Shape was sleep tested last night, and I'm happy to say it passed with flying colors.  If you've got a shirt stash you're wondering what to make of, I highly recommend giving this simple but stunning quilt a try.  I think it'd make a great Quilt of Valor too!

January Finishes

Sunday, January 26, 2014

One of Two

One thing this frigid and snowy winter is good for:  Making me not want to leave my house.*  I have been hunkering down, holing up, and hermiting away, trying not to think about the elements while working my way down the list of UFOs.

And so there were two more finishes this weekend.  First is the bright baby quilt made from leftover drunkard's path and monkey wrench/churn dash blocks.

I quilted this in a loop-de-loop with Aurifil thread.  I intended to just do a regular meander but my hands had a mind of their own and started doing barrel rolls right out the gate, so I just went along for the ride.  Whee!

Edited to Add:  I've been asked what the turquoise and pink floral border fabric is above.  It is Gypsy Girl by Lily Ashbury for Moda.

Okay, so here's the back.  I love polka dots.  And polka, for that matter.  Which I am not seeing represented on the Grammy awards** this evening.

It's getting late, so I'll be back tomorrow with the second finish.

*Monday's high—I repeat: high—is to be -5 F., low of -19, with a wind chill advisory of -35 to -50 F. by Tuesday with (of course) blowing and drifting snow.  Winter blows.

**Forget rolling out the barrel.  If I were playing a drinking game for every time LL Cool J licked his lips while hosting the Grammys, I would be unconscious right now.  I think he'd be forgiven, though, because everything else about him is pretty fine.

January Finishes

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Key to My Heart Finished

Happy to get another one finished this week, the Key to My Heart quilt.

Such soft, snuggly goodness!  Jelly roll and backing fabric is Oasis by Three Sisters.  The Key to My Heart pattern is by Sweet Jane.  Quilted in an overall meander with Aurifil in the top and bobbin. 

It's a nice size for a crib quilt, or a lap quilt for people smaller than we here in the land of the giants.  (Although not as gigantic as the perspective of this photo might imply.  I'm standing on a cedar chest for this shot with the camera held above my case anyone was wondering.)

I'll probably hang onto this quilt until the next baby girl comes along via friends or relatives.

Meanwhile, the next one is on deck. 

I basted this top together last night during American Idol. 

I'm enjoying the dynamic between new judge Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban.  They seem to have a lot of fun together and make me laugh.  It doesn't hurt that they're all nice on the eyes either. 

I'm glad there aren't as many time-wasting awful auditions to suffer through too.  Seems they've whittled it down to decent stuff worth watching.  The past few years, I've skipped this part of the show and just tuned in for the actual competition.

I haven't talked much about thrifting adventures lately because there has been a lack of them.  Last Sunday, however, I stopped at the local Goodwill and found something useful for the sewing room, one of those suction-cup grab handles.  It was brand new, so nothing gross about buying it second-hand.  At $1.99, I could hardly go wrong.

I attached it to a wide ruler and tested it out on trimming this quilt.  Works great!

Linking to:

January Finishes

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Sundry 1-19-14

How ironic that I seem to have procrastinated long enough to miss the linky for the first quarter 2014 Finish Along at The Littlest Thistle.  I had scrawled out a list of 2014 goals (and I use that word as loosely as can be imagined, having a tendency to resist things I "have to do," even if it is my idea to do it).  The list sat beside my keyboard long enough to get a little wrinkled and stained by coffee cups and snacks set upon it, which shows how irreverent I can be about goals, I guess.

In the "Old" category of the list is my intention to quilt all my 2013 and earlier UFOs, or get them quilted.  These include, in no particular order:
Another thing I've thought about is the choice of one word to summarize one's creative intention in the new year.  You can see a lot of these on the 15 Minutes Play site and elsewhere.  I'm not sure I'll get around to making my word into a mini quilt, but I did give it a good pondering and decided that, if I were to select a word for the year, it might be flow.  I even drew up a scribble of an idea, the F like a faucet and the rest of the letters, well, flowing out from there.

You never know, though; I might feel motivated to turn that idea into fabric after all, given my propensity to procrastinate and distract myself when I should be doing other things.

The point of flow actually ties into what I said earlier about resistance.  Keeping things moving, whether a drip at a time or with more natural fluidity, is the idea.  For me, that sometimes means baby steps (which manage to sneak past my resistance).  Anything to keep the momentum and forward motion going.

* * * * *
Yesterday I employed some forward motion in the form of vacuuming and mopping my kitchen (and bath and hallway) floors.  I've had a couple bad shoulder days lately, but with adhesive capsulitis, you have to keep the joint moving as much as possible.

Afterwards, I basted a quilt on the clean kitchen floor, which entailed more reaching and stretching.  You can bet I absolutely counted all of that movement as shoulder exercise yesterday.  So far today, the shoulder feels a little better—and I have a quilt basted!

* * * * *
This little mug rug (from the leftovers of the above quilt) has now been quilted and is ready for action.  I guess that means I can retire the scribbled goals list from its duty of supporting my coffee and snacks.

These gluten-free chocolate cookies, by the way, are divine.  I used the recipe on the back of the Honeyville Farms blanched almond flour as a rough guide, but modified it as follows:

2-1/2 c. blanched almond flour
1-2 T. tapioca starch flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. melted ghee (or use melted butter)
1/4 c. melted coconut oil
1 egg
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Press tops down to flatten slightly (I used waxed paper over the cookie so my hand wouldn't stick to the batter).  Bake for 10-12 minutes until set.  Let cool for 20 minutes on sheet before removing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ironwork Quilt

I went back through my posts to determine what I'd already written about the Ironwork Quilt-Along quilt I started in 2012, and it turns out not much.  Not sure how that happened, except around the time I started that quilt, Norm had a work accident and my attention was diverted elsewhere.  Best guess as to why it fell through the cracks.

Anyway, all's well that ends well.  Norm recovered in a few months, and almost two years later, I finally finished the Ironwork quilt!

The flimsy was done in 2012, probably not too long after I started it.  Then it was put on the rack to properly age.  In other words, I hadn't a clue how to quilt it, so there it sat.  Fast forward to now and I finally felt ready to tackle the finish. It seemed to me that it needed a lot of ditch quilting around the rust-brown parts first, so I started there.

For quilting inspiration, I was thinking about what might naturally occur around an iron gate, and ivy came to mind.  My heart-shaped leaves don't exactly look like ivy, but close enough for rock and roll, as they say.

Plan A had actually been a more controlled, larger, leaf-shaped design, done sort of on the order of feathers, i.e., around a central stem.  However, that didn't pan out in practice.  Hence Plan B was adopted, and meandering heart-shaped leaves it was.

I used a variegated Sulky top thread and Aurifil in the bobbin.  Fabrics are Quilter's Candy Solids from Connecting Threads.

You can find the QAL posts for the Ironwork quilt at Piecemeal Quilts, HERE.

Thanks, Sandi, for the inspiration, beautiful quilt pattern, and great instructions.  I really enjoyed making this!

Linking to:

January Finishes

Monday, January 13, 2014

Do a Little Dance

The Jig is Up

There are some interesting people in this world, a slice of which you may very well encounter at your neighborhood big box store.  You've all seen the pictures and know the joke about "the people of" the store that starts with a W.  Like the woman using her ample cleavage as a cell phone holder, while she's talking on said phone and pushing her cart with her freed-up hands down the cereal aisle.  Or the guy in the bright pink baseball cap, short denim skirt and heels, with way nicer legs than mine, to note a couple of visions etched in my own memory.

So yesterday, we're at this particular W-world in a long, slow line.  I don't know if half the checkers called in sick or what, but all the lanes were stacked several carts deep each.  We happened to be in line behind a very nice-looking young woman.  She had her hair in a loose up-do, which struck me as a little odd for the time of day and season, and just above the collar of her shapely fitted white wool coat, at the nape of her tanned neck, was the beginning of what looked like a fascinating tattoo.  She was wearing jeans and brown suede high-heeled boots, unloading a mounded cart full of fairly unremarkable stuff, including cat food and a red plastic snow shovel.  Then she cordoned off a second, separate order of personal-type stuff:  Disposable razors, baby wipes, mouthwash.  In retrospect, I imagine these may have been work-related expenses.

You have time to notice this stuff when you're in line for 15 minutes and they're out of People magazine, which you would otherwise be perusing.

So she gets everything checked out and the cashier tells her it's $249 and some odd cents.  I'm thinking she'll be swiping her debit card, but no.  No, no, no.  She starts pulling cash out of her purse by the fistfuls.

And not just any cash:  All one-dollar bills.  Loosely gathered stacks of them.  She starts handing these to the cashier, who, after mouthing the words "I'm sorry," to me and those behind me in line, has to then count out piles of 10 bills each, layering them in a particular way they must be taught at cashier school.  I don't know; she had a system, is what I'm saying.  (Later the cashier tells me that $91 in one-dollar bills had been the most she'd heretofore had to count from a customer; and before I've paid, a store manager has had to come and switch out the cash drawer, because apparently $249 in singles makes it really hard to close.)
At this point, I turned to Norm and rolled my eyes at the unforeseen delay.  And I may also have muttered something about somebody having had a particularly good night, as well as something about making it rain.

"I get a lot of tips," the customer offered the cashier voluntarily as she forked over another wad.  And then she added, maybe a bit too quickly, "I'm a bartender."

The cashier looked up from the bills for a moment and said, "You must be a really good bartender."

At which point it was physically impossible for anyone to stifle a smile.

* * * * *
Do the Hustle

After shopping, we decided to catch a movie.  We saw American Hustle.

Loved it.  Best film I have seen in a long time.  (Before that, it was Silver Linings Playbook, which coincidentally is by the same director.)

I love character-driven movies, and this was all that and a bucket of popcorn.  Fantastic performances, and funny too.  Christian Bale?  I leaned over to Norm at one point during the film and said, "They should just hand him the Oscar right now."  He WAS that character.  Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper (with a perm), Jeremy Renner (with a pompadour), Louis C.K., Robert DeNiro were stellar, every one of them.

* * * * *
Step by Step

I spent time over the weekend doing all the ditch quilting on the Ironwork quilt from a year or two ago.  I've had the quilt basted together since September.

Meanwhile, I needed some of my basting pins back for other stuff, so I reckoned I could do at least all the straight line quilting around the brown parts to stabilize the quilt.  I also put the binding on, because the narrow edge was starting to fray.

I need to practice a bit before I go back and quilt the large open spaces.  I've never put a binding on before finishing a quilt, so it'll be interesting to see how that works.  Will the additional quilting pull the quilt out of square?  We shall see.

Every quilt seems to be a learning experience of some sort.  I learned that I probably should go back and knot and bury my thread ends instead of just relying on backstitching to anchor them when straight line quilting.  I have never done that before and did not do it on this one either, but probably should have.
Live and learn.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Key to My Heart Quilt Top

In the past couple of days, I have finished sewing together the Key to My Heart quilt top.  
 It's a pretty sweet flimsy!

In addition to the jelly roll, I had won some Oasis yardage as well, so I went ahead and made the backing right away.  I had enough backing fabric left to make a pillow case too.

The border of the pillow case is from the cut-off ends of the jelly roll strip pairs used in the quilt, pieced end to end. 

What was left of the pieced pillow case border will soon become a mug rug.  And with that, I think I've squeezed about all I can out of that project and its scraps!
The quilt binding is ready to go, too.  The pink dot is from Bonnie & Camille's Vintage Modern, which seems to go nicely with the Oasis.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Off to a Good Start

I started the new year with a new project, using a jelly roll from Sarah's Hands2Help giveaway last year.

The fabric is Oasis by 3 Sisters for Moda, and it is just so lovely. "So beautiful it hurts my feelings," as Wayne White would say.  I just love that phrase; I can really relate.  So beautiful you could get kind of choked up about it.

Such pretty colors: coral and butter yellow, dusty gray and blue, pink and cream.  The floral prints remind me of dresses from the 1930s or 1940s.  Not that I remember that era (being a few decades before my time), but they're soft and vintage looking, is what I'm saying.  

They remind me of my grandma, the colors of her kitchen, her peonies, and other colors she liked.  Maybe she had a cotton apron or blouse with a similar print.

The pattern I'm using is called Key to My Heart by Sweet Jane.  It's going together pretty fast, and I haven't used a single pin yet.  Just cut, sew, press, and trim.