Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Checking In

Where, oh where has the summer gone?  I know it's not quite over yet, thankfully, but it's winding down and I feel like I haven't much to show for it and haven't done all the things yet.

(Cattle grazing along a bike trail.)
But I have gotten a couple items moved along, for however much (or little) time has been spent in the sewing room.  Specifically, the String-X quilt is now quilted and finished.  

I am planning to gift it to a nephew (who doesn't read this blog—I don't think, anyway).  He's an avid hunter and has a birthday in a couple months.  I'm hoping he will like the fall colors.

I had a couple extra blocks left, so I made two throw pillows.  One to go along with the quilt and one to keep.

Recently, the hubs and I took a little road trip to the southwestern part of the state.  

(View from Wyalusing State Park overlooking the Mississippi River - note smoke haze in distance from western wildfires)
I took my sewing machine along and worked on some Carolina Chain piecing in the evenings.

I thought I had cut enough strips/pieces for the quilt, but when I came to the end of the fabric I'd cut for the predominantly light blocks, I counted them up and compared it to the pattern instructions, and realized I was only ONE-THIRD of the way done making them!  And that was just the light ones.  Then there were the same number of predominantly dark ones to make. Augh!

When you're only part way through making the same quilt pieces (and, let's be honest, bored with the process), what do YOU do?  

Soldier on?  Work on something else?  Cut more bits?  Put it away completely for a while?  Bake some brownies?

(Recipe HERE)
All viable options.  What I decided (after baking the brownies) was to reduce the size of the quilt and change the layout from on-point to straight on (or whatever that's called), and probably add a stop border and an outer border, when I get that far.

That's the current plan, anyway.  Stay tuned...

In putzing around the sewing room, I recently rediscovered a piece of vintage decorator weight fabric among the stash.  It was fairly small and had a gnarly seam running through it (by the manufacturer), but I thought it might make a nice tea towel if I could piece it together somehow.  

But I know me.  If it's "too nice" a fabric, I won't want to get it all stained up using it.  And how many "nice" tea towels do I currently have languishing in drawers, unused?  (Answer: Quite enough already.)  

Looking around my sewing space a few days later, I spied my flatbed scanner with its vintage embroidered dresser scarf tossed over it as a dust cover.  Thus, a plan was hatched to go ahead and make the tea towel but use the piece as a new scanner cover.

And it makes me smile to now see it in use, serving a function versus decorating a different drawer.

(Courthouse Steps quilt in children's bedroom at Villa Louis.)
We toured an historic mansion, Villa Louis, on our recent getaway.  There were some beautiful antique quilts on some of the beds.

(Log cabin quilt in butler's quarters at Villa Louis.)
(Metal insert in door arch at Villa Louis.)
And I thought this metal insert in a high door arch was quilting inspiration, too!

There were a few stops along the way for fabric shopping.  A Ben Franklin store had a small table of fabrics at $2.99 per yard!  I bought a few.
At another very nice quilt shop, I left empty-handed but took a picture of this cool steampunk-inspired vintage sewing machine turned lamp. 

Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Circle Quilt Finish

I finished the Circle of Friends quilt top—or was it Friendship Circle?  Hang on, un momento, while I check Facebook for the name I was going to give this quilt...

Okay, I checked.  Its name will be Friendship 360.

My brain is like a sieve some days, I swear.
(Spotted on a recent visit to the antique mall.)
In my defense (albeit a weak one), I finished this quilt top three weeks ago.  I can barely remember what I had for lunch, much less what I thought to name a quilt way back in mid-July.
(Friendship 360 Quilt Top)
ANYway, here it is!  

This quilt combines the circles I made during the Quilty 365 quilt-along during 2016 with the Friendship Star Wreath that I also made during that time.  

The Friendship Star Wreath was just a little bunny trail I took with the scraps I had left from the Quilt for Pulse.  The tutorial for it can be found here.  Since I was using leftover HSTs from the Pulse quilt, my dimensions were different than what was given in the tutorial (mine used 4.5-inch strips and HST blocks versus 3-inch).

The end result was a 36.5-inch square, which I was going to make into a wall hanging.  You know, some day.  It got put aside, is what I'm saying.  Literally moved to the far corner of the playground (i.e. design wall) and ignored while I did other stuff in 2016, including the Quilty 365 circles.

At the end of 2016, I really had no idea how to arrange all those circles together in a quilt.  I watched my fellow 365-ers finish lovely quilts in various ways.  Meanwhile, I had no real plan.  The circle blocks sat in colorful piles in the sewing room.  I'd pick up a few and riffle through them now and then or move them from one surface to another.

Then one day as I was milling around the laundry room, looking absently at the Friendship Star Wreath on the far end of the design wall, it dawned on me that it might work as a center medallion with the Quilty 365 circles.
Why it took so long to put the two together is...well, irrelevant.  The point is I finally did, and it worked.  Hooray!  Also, Ta-Da!
Now, full disclosure:  I only made 338 circles in 2016.  A detail I forgot until I was putting the circles together and ran short.  So I had to make a few more on the fly.  No big whoop, and kinda fun, actually, to be making these again.  Thankfully, I still had enough of the same or similar background fabrics and even my little cardboard circle template made from a Kleenex box.

I assembled the circle blocks into panels.  First the sides, at 9 blocks high x 6 blocks wide. These were sewn to the right and left of the center medallion.  Then the top and bottom panels, at 9 blocks high x 21 blocks wide.
And I still didn't get all the way to 365, because I only needed 360 circle blocks for the quilt top.  Hence, Friendship 360, and also because a circle is, of course, 360 degrees.  See what I did there?
You'd think its name would have been easier to remember!  But no matter, I'm pretty sure the quilt itself—with its I-spy, whimsical, colorful circles—will be unforgettable.