Friday, March 23, 2018

Mountains, baby!

Well, that was an exciting week, wasn't it?  We had a big spring snow storm and virtually no work got done by anyone all week, except by the snow plow drivers and the guys with chain saws who spent quite a bit of time cutting up the massive tree that fell down across my neighbor's driveway.  We lost a few branches, but nothing that required a chain saw, thank goodness.

We all know that a snow day is a free day, right?  So instead of working on real things that I need to get done for my real life, I used the whole day to finish a baby quilt for my friend's first grandson. His parents chose mountains, along with navy, gray, and aqua for him, which was quite the challenge.  I'm afraid there is no aqua in this quilt, but I think I got the style and tone right. Here's how it finally worked out:

How better to photograph a mountains quilt than against the snow? Of course the day after the storm it was bright and perfect outside when I wanted to take pictures, so I had to wait until later in the evening to get photos that weren't totally bleached out.All that snow was pretty blinding!

Except for the center panel with the mountains, this is nothing like I started with. It was lovely to have time to work on it and try things, rip them out, and try something else until I felt like I got it right.  I ended up deciding that piecing of any kind would distract from the mountains, so I just used graduated strips of color, with grays on the bottom and blues on top.

This quilt turned out to be just about 40 by 48, almost exactly where I wanted it to be.  I think that will be a nice size for a tiny boy and still be good when he's a little bigger.  I quilted it with organic lines that were not straight but not curved, either.  These are easy enough in theory, but it's hard to get them to look consistently graceful.  It was a nice couple of hours while I listened to the plows and the wind.

For the backing I used a pretty blue called Prism by P and B Textiles.  It made a nice complement to the colors on the front.  The binding is Kona Celestial.  I was going to use navy but it looked pretty harsh.  This one is just a little bit softer which made it perfect for this project.  And because I like things all blendy, I used a perfectly matching blue thread in the bobbin and 8 different colors of thread in the top. To match the different colors, you know?

When you give a baby quilt, do you wash it first?  I washed this one, then I ironed it so that it will look "new" when little Otto's parents take it out of the box.  Is that weird? Whether it is or not, this little quilt is on its way to its new owner, who is still pretty new himself.  I'm so happy to have this done, and so happy for my friend, because being a grandma is pretty much the best thing ever.  I know this little guy will bring them all so much happiness.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  Our snow is pretty well melted (since it was 50 degrees today) and I have some fun plans for the weekend.  It's my daughter's birthday, so we'll get to see her, and I'm hopeful that there will be some celebrating.  I can't have cake any more (gluten, bah!) but you know what *is* gluten free?  Most wine.  True fact!  I'll test some for you just to be sure!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and crazymomquilts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Making a mountain

Hey, it's yet another snow day here! What is happening to our weather?  It has snowed more since mid February than it did all of the winter previous to that and we are in line for some serious snow the next few days.  So, yes, pretty much everyone has a snow day today.  Our homeowner's association even sent out a message that they wouldn't be able to pull people out of ditches in the snow, so everybody stay home and don't bother us. Really!

Since it's a snow day, I am hoping to finish off a special baby quilt before Friday.  One of my very best friends just became a grandma for the first time! Her grandson is really cute and obviously he needs a special baby quilt.  His mom and dad chose mountains and the colors gray, navy, and aqua for him, so of course I want to combine all of those for his quilt.  Here's where I am:

That's the most important part of the quilt, the mountains.  I think they look okay, don't you? And of course there is a lot of gray in there, even in the green at the bottom.

The mountain panel is pretty big, about 24 by 40, but the quilt needs to be bigger.  I want it to be about 40 by 50, and I want to incorporate some other colors.  I thought about just putting a light gray at the top and a darker gray at the bottom, but that's a little sedate for a baby, don't you think?  So I tried using some aqua and green tumblers, along with some gray ones, at the bottom:

Hmmm.  That's not good at all. I thought I would use some light blues along with the grays for the upper part, but now I'm not sure what to do.  Maybe strips instead?  Dark grays at the bottom, lighter ones at the top?  Four patches? Anyone have any other ideas?  All I know for sure is that I'm using navy for the binding.

Well, I'm sure I'll figure it out.  Half the point of experiments is to figure out what doesn't work, right? I just want it to be  really nice for the tiny boy and his folks and grand-folks.  I have the back and the batting all basted and am ready to quilt this just as soon as I figure out the front, and with a snow day I should get it worked out really soon.  I also made these baby blankets for the little man, which are supposed to coordinate with his quilt:

Those are really cute, aren't they? I was surprised by how many different grays there were to choose from in the baby section of the flannels.  Who knew?

Hope everyone stays safe in the different weather events happening right now.  Before I head back to the sewing room, I need to ask you all to head over to Preeti's blog (right HERE) for a very important post.  She's hosting a fundraiser for a special little boy and offering some prizes for participation. There are also pretty quilty pictures, but the story will really touch your heart, so be sure to hop over and read it and consider donating.

Of course, if you have good ideas about the mountains quilt, send them along!  Otherwise, stay safe!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A new galaxy quest

Hi all, and happy St. Patrick's Day!  My family always celebrates today even though we're not the tiniest bit Irish, because today is my brother's birthday.  Well, one of my brothers.  It's totally his fault that I'm craving cake with green frosting today.  And, no, his name isn't Patrick, but if you buy him a beer today he'd be happy to answer to it!

I've started on another project for RSC18.  I can hear you now, "Mari, don't you have enough projects?"  Well, yes, but what I don't have is projects to use up some larger scraps.  Specifically, I need to use up a bunch of dark blue half yards that I bought to test fabrics for my Constellations quilt. I almost never use dark blue, so why not combine those half yards with my RSC scraps and make those a quilt? So here's what I've come up with:

More stars!  The wind was blowing so badly when I took these pictures that I could only get ones out on the deck where I could chase them down when they started blowing away.  These stars are a Clay's Choice variation and you can find a tutorial for them HERE.  They're pretty simple to make and go pretty fast.  And don't they just sparkle?  I made these stars in an 8-inch size instead of 6-inch, which will mean fewer stars to make a quilt.

I think that I'll need about 40 stars to make a decent-sized quilt, so these 6 will be a good start.  If I make some more light blue or purple scraps along the way this year, I'll add in a couple of purple or light blue stars, but otherwise I'm starting right here. 

The worst part about making these blocks was going to be drawing lines on the back of squares to make the diamonds, but somewhere I saw a tip about using gridded plastic as a guide so that you don't have to draw any of those lines.  It worked great!  I bought a piece of this template plastic at a big box store:

This sheet was way too big, but only came in one size.  The squares there are 1/4 inch apart, which also makes them handy for aligning seam allowances.  I cut out a small piece, then aligned one of the heavy lines with the needle and taped it to the machine:

Instead of drawing lines, I just kept the tips of the pieces lines up along the heavy line as I stitched so that it stitched a straight line right on the diagonal.  The first couple of tries were a little shaky, but as soon as I got the hang of it, it worked great and saved me a ton of time.  I know that some people use graph paper or even regular paper with a line drawn on it, but the fabric slides very nicely right along the plastic.  I did take it off the machine once I finished the stars, but I saved it, and if I lose it, I can cut another piece!

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  If you're reading this on Saturday, chances are that we're outside digging right now.  The time for the nightmare drainage project has finally come.  I have a ton (literally!) of gravel and 150 feet of drainpipe waiting for me. If you're looking for something to do, grab a shovel and come on over!  There will be takeout!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Building begins

Okay, I'm just going to say this:  I have too many quilt ideas! You know how sometimes you have zero ideas and sometimes you have a whole lot of ideas? Right now I have tons of ideas and I want to start all of them.  The only thing really stopping me is that I have no empty project boxes.  Otherwise I would be cutting 50 different things this week.  Luckily, I am holding myself back writing down all my ideas, and working on my current projects.  Let's hope that I'm still excited about these ideas when I have time to start something new.

Since I'm working on my regular projects, these last few days I've started working on building my "winter" church panel for a seasonal church sampler.  So far I have the door portion done:

If you recall, I am piecing a panel of a lovely colonial-era church near Wilmington, Delaware, as the "winter" portion of a seasonal church sampler.  I started with the door portion because that seemed like the most detailed part of the building to me.  The little windows in the door took forever, but I think all the trimming and ripping was worth it.  Could use some more pressing, though, so it looks less crooked.

Last time I showed some beige-ish fabrics that I might use for the building itself, but I actually purchased some Grunge fabric for this project. 

I've not been a big fan of Grunge--fabric that's already dirty!--but it works for this project.  If a 200-year-old building doesn't need grungy fabric, what project does?  If you look, those are two different colors, which I got because there are two distinct colors in the building.  I'm pretty sure these are Vanilla and Cream, but I also got a couple of tans so I can see if I like the contrast using those better.

If you look, the building has a lot of concrete over fieldstone, and the center portion is smoother concrete than the remainder of the building, so I had to have two different colors.

I think getting that door finished is a good step forward.  I really like this so far, too, and I've had a good time puzzling through it.  Next I plan to make the windows for the center portion and then the sides, then I have to think about how to make the grounds. The windows are colonial "12 over 12" windows, so right now I'm thinking that the panes will have to be stitched in and not pieced. We'll see how it works out.

And in case I didn't mention it before (and gosh, I'm sorry I didn't!), I'm using Julie Sefton's book Build a Barn, No Pattern Construction as a guide to free-piecing the churches.  It's very helpful!  You can get it from Amazon or a signed copy from Julie.  You'll enjoy it!

The church project is fairly monochromatic, which makes this post a little dull!  I've also made these:

That's some nice color! These are for the Community Sampler being run by Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell.  I'm making mine in pinks, yellows, and greens.  Can you tell that I'm thirsting for spring?  I especially like the fussy cut fabric in the center of that first block.

Hope you are making some progress on your projects this week, too. I am supposed to be working outside over the break but we're having some weather, so I'm dodging that for now.  Thanks to all of you who offered your support and some recipes that are definitely not taste free.  We taste tested a bunch of things and I'm making progress on knowing what to eat.  I can personally vouch for THIS recipe for Maple Bourbon Chicken.  Yum!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.