Friday, September 8, 2017

Quilting by the (Orange) Book

Welcome back, friends! First, let me say that those of you in Florida are sure in my thoughts as you brace for Hurricane Irma’s impact. Hopefully you have all prepared as best you can and that you and your loved ones (and loved homes, etc) escape harm. If our friend Angela is able to post the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Scrappy Saturday link-up, I will join in.

And we have not forgotten our Texas friends who are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. There are many online sites for donating money, services, quilts, pillowcases, kennel quilts for animals, etc. for the multitude of victims in the Southeast. I hope we will ALL take the time to contribute what we can. If you need help finding a charity, please feel free to write me and I will be glad to direct you to some.

And now let’s talk Orange.


This week I started by using orange strings to make (8) 8.5” string blocks. If I have strings left over after all the rest of my blocks are done, I'll make 4 more to sew into another 16” finished block. If not, there is always next year!


And then I sewed up four quick Plus blocks. Originally I wasn’t even planning to use orange in the Plus quilt, but that changed. With these, I have 89 blocks. The remaining blocks for the quilt will be pink and gray, and I will need between 7-18 total of those. The extras will be used if I decide to switch out some of the already-made blocks that I don’t care for.

Next, I got started on my orange shelf of books (5 blocks) for my Bookcase Quilt. Bookcase Quilt - it needs a better name, doesn’t it? Any ideas? Anyway, here are some close-up pictures so you can see the individual titles in case you want to “check them out”!  hahahaha..... get it?  check them out 

So, let’s read across from left to right. Note that you can click on the pictures to make them bigger. Have you read Timeless Treasures or Peak Hour?


Moving along (there is some overlap in the pictures), we find Cool Cats and Helen’s Garden. Naturally, Helen has pumpkins in her garden at this time of year....


And it’s true, I got lazy and stacked all my smallish books sideways. But the titles are easier to read. These little book titles include Diamond Eye, Handmaids and Hello Darling. 


All this reading is making me hot (as in hot flashes, LOL). So, thank goodness I parked my fan on the shelf, eh??


And note that we have the the runaway bestseller Butterfly Bliss. It even has a butterfly on the cover! And even Home for Harvest has an appropriate cover.


And here is a view with the orange shelf just pinned on top of the yellow, green and blue shelves. I haven’t sewn the orange books onto the shelf yet.....


There are three pink book blocks still to sew and add to my two red book blocks; they will they will comprise the top shelf. The bottom shelf will be the 4 already-sewn purple blocks plus one dark-colored book block of black/gray/other dark neutrals. This may come to Colorado for me to work on....

I am starting to cut and pack other projects to take along with me to Colorado next week. One of the things I plan to bring is fabric to make the pillowcases for Sarah’s charity drive over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. I’ve cut and packed up 7-8 of those to sew.  And I will probably cut and kit fabric for a half dozen or more Farm Girl 12” blocks. I want to do an autumn-themed quilt. And since I have way too many 12” Farm Girl blocks for just one quilt, I thought I would pull out the autumn-ish blocks, add a few more and see what I can come up with. I have plenty of sashing and backing ready to go, so this is another one that could materialize quickly. Like a quilting hurricane.....

Last December, we purchased four Ingo tables from IKEA as my Christmas present. I have wanted to re-do the tables and arrangement in my studio forever. Anyway, after Christmas came the end of our living room remodel, and then weeks, even months, of the arm cancer scare and operations for Bruce. So we “tabled” the assembly (sorry, couldn’t resist). And then it was summer/garden/family/brother moving in, etc. Finally I announced an assembly date last Monday, and both Bruce and my brother agreed gladly. They had those 4 tables whipped out - from gathering tools to wiping them of dust - in 2 hours flat.

So, here are some pictures of the place. Keep in mind it’s still a work in progress. And also, these are honest, messy pictures. There is ironing to be done, messes to clean up, stuff packed up for our trip, etc..........



When you come down the stairs (above picture, where the light switch is), there are two rooms to your right. The first one (brown) is my office and computer. It's also where I used to store my lace and fabric inventory when I had an active Etsy shop. The second apricot-colored room (above and below) has two easy chairs and is my hand stitching room. In there I keep my batting rolls, and cabinets of embroidery threads, silk ribbons, beads, buttons, books, ribbons, vintage laces, and collectibles such as vintage aprons, vintage clothing, vintage pillowcases and linens, etc. That room is worthy of a post in its own right sometime.


So, as you come down the stairs and look ahead in my studio, there is the design wall on the right. Facing forward (to the left in the above picture) are two bookshelves housing fabrics. On the top of the wood-toned bookcase are two containers of selvages sorted by color and one basket of multi-colored scraps.


In the picture above you can see two of the new tables. My power strip/surge protector comes down from the overhead lights and sewing machines and irons for up to 4 persons can be plugged into it. I just flip off the power strip when I leave the room. The studio is in the basement, but it gets afternoon sun and is delightful.  My big ironing board there is covered with the pillowcases I’m kitting up. Beyond that, in the corner are (1) plastic shelves containing scraps by color and the WIP bookshelf. The door leads out to the backyard. Hanging on the door handle and on the carpet shampooer is the laundry I need to iron!!


As we continue moving around the room, you can see more of the tables and the cutting station that’s set up (green mat).  Behind my sewing chair (that is really for my office, but until I get a new one without arms, I’m using it here) is my thread, treadle machine below the thread, and miscellaneous sewing supplies in the desk and shelves behind my chair. That is the bathroom there behind the door....


Between the bathroom and laundry room (the door next to the hangers) is a plastic bin of fancy fabric scraps (silks, damask, velvet) for my crazy quilting, plus a bookcase of mementos, pincushions and music. The painting was done by my son Shane in high school.

And so we’ve come full circle. Again, sorry for the mess. But honestly, I wasn’t going to clean up just to take pictures and then have to get it all back out again.

If you don’t hear from me next Saturday, it just means that I don’t have internet access at our cabin in Colorado. We are meeting up with Diann and her hubby (of Little Penguin Quilts) and several other couple friends for a long weekend in the mountains. Then we are visiting family for a couple days before returning home. I will update y’all when I get back!

Have a great week!

Cathy maroon
Friday, September 1, 2017

Onward and Orange-ward

Welcome to September!  It’s a new month and a new color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. This month, Angela at So Scrappy has chosen ORANGE for us to work on. It’s the perfect color to get us in the mood for autumn.

Last year at this time we were just beginning the demolition of the living room for its remodel, so I never got to decorate for fall. This year I am so excited to get out my fall decorations. I’m not sure how they will work with the new furniture and decor; without my old antique sideboard, I have fewer places for bigger things. But it will be fun trying this and that. Some things may have to find new homes and maybe I will have to add a few choice new pieces.

First, let me do a bit of August recap before I get into Orange September.

I did finish 9 kennel quilts and one doggie bed as I had planned. Darla tested out the kennel quilts for me and  declared they were just right.  In fact, she wanted to fall asleep on them right away. But mom had to wash them all, so she was deprived of that privilege.
With all the flooding from Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas, I believe I am going to package these up and send them off to Houston-area shelters. They are needing them badly there right now. If you have time, why not stitch up a few placemat-sized kennel quilts and join the effort? I always get a lot of questions about how you, the reader, can help the animals with shelter quilts. Here are some websites (just a few; there are so many more) that are helping out in Houston:

Best Friends Animal Society
The Quilt Pattern Magazine - they work with Petfinder. Great site!
Petco Foundation
There is an article on Today.com (link HERE) that lists many ways and sites to help animals

Also in August, I did 168 little (4.5” unfinished) neutral string blocks, finished my Pineapple Quilt and started the Groovy Guitars quilt for Bruce (more on that below).  On my personal weight loss journey with Weight Watchers, I lost 7-something pounds in August, for a total to date of 15.5 pounds or so. My clothes are looser and I already feel much better. My annual physical is in September, so I am hoping that my bloodwork and other numbers have improved correspondingly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I started my orange sewing as soon as I read Angela's color announcement. I was able to finish up the two orange columns for my RSC selvage quilt.


After sewing up the light orange and the dark orange columns, I added to add them and the previously-sewn red column to the quilt top. Now all that’s left is a dark column (gray? brown?) for the very right, and two pink columns - one dark and one light - for the left-hand side. The flimsy will finish at about 56x72”.


And then there is the Groovy Guitars quilt, which I am name changing to Damn Guitars. Enough said about that! I did let the quilt out of Time Out for a couple afternoons during the week, and in doing so was able to make some progress.

After re-doing the initial orange guitar, things have gone slightly smoother. I hung the black cotton background up on the design board and use my portable iron to fuse directly onto it while its hanging. Genius, if I do say so myself. The design board is flannel-covered board insulation panels, so it takes pins and heat like a champ. Doing it this way also allows me to fiddle a bit more than a horizontal table or (heaven forbid) an ironing board would allow.


The picture below shows where I am so far. There are several areas that need tweaking, but for now I am just lightly fusing them to the background. Once all the pieces are there, I will finesse and trim the seam overlaps, then machine appliqué all the edges.


And I can already see that the yellow rectangle on the orange guitar needs to be re-centered. That was the piece that made me think there had to be a better/vertical way to do this quilt instead of horizontal. There are still red and blue pieces to come as the quilt grows to the left. If I can tear myself away from my orange scraps this week, I may work on it some more.

In two weeks we leave for Colorado for a week, where we will be staying in Winter Park at Snow Mountain Ranch. We are meeting a few couple friends and sharing a cabin. I will also be meeting up with Diann of Little Penguin Quilts (and her hubby) who will join us for a couple days of sewing (Diann) and golf (hubby). I’ll take along plenty of sewing and hand stitching projects, but I haven’t figured out exactly what yet, much less prepare them. But other than a little walking/hiking and chatting with friends, sewing is all I plan to do....  That’s my idea of a vacation!

Cathy maroon
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Adventures of Foster the Finch

On Sunday morning, my brother was about to shovel some organic food waste into our compost pile, when he saw a small bird resting by the side of the pile. Luckily it moved a bit or he might have given it quite a nasty ride in a shovel!

Steve fed it some grapes from our vines, and the bird seemed to gobble them up. And he didn’t really seem afraid of Steve, or myself, or Bruce, or Cousin Kim when she came over for our regular sewing day.

We moved him to a box and into the shade of the patio. He hopped out of the box pretty quickly, though. Steve fed him some water from a bottle cap, which the bird gustily dove his beak into repeatedly. We also filled a saucer with water and he trudged through that, too.

I went around to the neighbors and asked if anyone knew who might own a lost bird. No one claimed him. Bruce and Kim looked him up online and found out that he was a Zebra Finch - and definitely a male. Also, the banded leg signified that he was imported, in this case from Australia. Australia and Indonesia are apparently homes to zebra finches in the wild.

Our neighborhood also belongs to an online app called Next Door, and we posted a picture and information about the bird, whom Steve had now named Foster. Why Foster? He named it after the Australian beer, whose tag line is “Foster - it’s Australian for beer!”.  In his best Australian accent (and it’s a good one), Steve decided that “Foster” was now Australian for Finch!

While Steve and Foster bonded (and napped) on the patio, Bruce went to three stores (Petco, Wal-Mart and Petsmart) before he found a reasonably priced cage and some finch food.

In the online neighborhood app, we listed the finch in Lost and Found and extolled his many virtues. We said that we were owned by two cats and therefore would not be able to keep him, but that if anybody wanted to care for him, we would throw in the cage and food with Foster.

An hour later, four siblings came to the door, ranging in age from about 6-16. They live down the street and are known to us. In fact Jessica, the oldest, used to model headbands for my Etsy store a few years ago. They are a great family and have been unable to have feline or canine pets because of their parents’ allergies. Anyway, they wanted to adopt Foster!  Their mom and I chatted to verify the arrangement. She even offered to pay for the cage and food, but we declined their offer.


So naturally, we had to get a group photo!!  Smiles all around!!

Later that evening, another neighbor offered to adopt Foster, but we had to tell her that he had already been adopted....

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tuesday evening update:  The kids came to our door to return the empty and cleaned cage and food. They were so sad. Foster had died. He had trouble keeping his eyes open (Steve had noticed how much Foster seemed to sleep) and apparently was sick. They looked up what they could online, and Jessica even stayed up with him most of the night. He died this morning. My heart breaks for these sweet kids who were so thrilled to have a pet to care for.

Looking back, I think someone probably had this bird and let it go, knowing it was sick. Why would someone do that? A tame house bird can’t fend for itself in the wild even the “wild" of a suburban neighborhood. Did they think that the bird's death would be quicker or more natural? If you are going to catch and cage a bird in the first place, and that is all it knows, shouldn’t you see the creature through thick and thin?

So, unknowingly, we came to its “rescue" and got some big-hearted kids involved. And in the process, several hearts were stolen, then broken. I have such conflicting emotions here over this little bird; anger at some owner I don’t even know, embarrassment over making such a big deal about it in the neighborhood, sorrow for breaking the kids’ hearts. And yet we all feel we did the right thing...... or did we? What would you have done?

Cathy maroon
Friday, August 25, 2017

Sewing in Neutral

I feel that my sewing life has been in neutral this past week. And not just because light neutrals are the color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Steve watching the eclipse in our front yard

With my brother Steve living here with us, bless his heart, there seems so much more to do that takes me away from sewing. Like helping him fill out paperwork and chauffeuring him around for Social Security, Teamsters retirement, to say nothing of helping him cancel his AZ benefits and see about Utah benefits (a ‘no go’)..... health insurance, drivers license, etc etc. Calgon, take me away!





But enough of my whining. Steve is here and we do enjoy having him. He has a hilarious sense of humor, loves the cats (and Alfie adores him), and is a considerate, fastidious house guest. He has started us composting, keeps the cars clean, and has planted a late season garden that is doing well. And he, like Bruce, loves my cooking! So it’s all good.

On Monday we all watched the eclipse, naturally. Here in the Salt Lake Valley, we were in the 91% zone. The sunlight became weaker as the eclipse progressed, but even at its peak, it was brighter than you would have guessed for only 9% of the rays coming through. However, it was quite dark in the house when I ran in to get my cell phone. I had to take pictures of the light through the trees (left). I love the crescent-shaped shadows and from other people`s pictures online, I believe lots of us were fascinated with them!  It was a fun late morning event in the ‘hood, and there was even a Solar Eclipse Party down the street at Wheeler Farm (hence all the cars parked on the street).

As far as sewing goes, I did finish the rest of my neutral string blocks. There are 168 of the 4.5” (unfinished) blocks. Ready for when I decide to tackle the Jamestown Landing quilt by Bonnie Hunter next year.


Yep, that’s my funky tomato pincushion in the center. And also yes, I do have lots of other pincushions - all cuter. But they are too cute to use. so they are just on display on shelves in my sewing room. When the tomato dies, I will select a different one down the road.....

This next picture is not too impressive, but let me explain. I have finally started Bruce’s Groovy Guitars quilt, which is a pattern by Robbie Joy Eklow.  This is the piecing diagram, and I decided that if I was going to have any chance of getting this done in any orderly fashion, I would have to color the diagram so I would know which color goes where. This was NOT colored with an eye toward any type of artistic effort - it’s just a quick-and-very-dirty "fill in the blanks” effort for placement purposes. (Yes, I can color better. And so can my 4-year-old grandson). But you get the point, right?


The drawing above is in reverse, because you trace the pieces onto the paper of the fusible webbing, then fuse to the backside of the fabric. Then you flip and fuse it to the background. The background for Bruce’s quilt is solid black Kona cotton. The other colors are the three primaries (red, yellow, blue) and the three secondaries (purple, orange and green). My only changes are that I will make the orange guitar (on the left of the diagram) whole. Same with the yellow/red one on the right. If I still have any sanity left, I may make their headstocks complete, too.

So, what did I do first thing? Fused the orange guitar to the wrong side (left) of the fabric, instead of the right. That’s what I get for changing it to a complete, symmetrical piece. Luckily, I had enough orange to re-do it, and the missssssnake on the black fabric will be covered down the line....

My progress has been frustrating and painfully slow. I have made every conceivable mistake  that can be made. But I am learning! Learning that this will be the LAST EVER fusible project I will ever inflict upon myself. I have a hard enough time thinking in reverse (paper piecing comes to mind), but add fusible webbing, huge pieces, and no instructions (other than basic How to Fuse), and it’s recipe for disaster. My brain just does not work that way!


But so far, everything has been fixable. Except my poor ironing board cover, which I will have to use inside out from now on. But we will just skip that story. I see you shaking your head....

So, I put Groovy Guitars in Time Out for a few days and decided to start on some kennel quilts. I got 2 of them done on Friday afternoon.....


The cats won’t care if they are perfect or not! That gray backing on the top quilt says “You’ve got to be Kitten me”.  It was a remnant I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics.  Two down, a half dozen more to go before the end of the month......


And finally, you might remember that when my DGD Lauren visited a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that we painted a wooden garden ornament - a cockatoo - together. I finally got a picture of it.

MEET RINGO!!!!

He is a handsome fella, isn’t he? For the picture he is sitting on the living room mantel, but his natural habitat is out on our patio. The other side is just more of the same.......  We just used acrylic paints and sort of figured it out as we went along.  Not bad, eh?

That about wraps things up for this week. Hopefully by next week I will have finished the rest of the kennel quilts and made good progress on the Groovy Guitars. If I can survive that monster, I can survive anything.

I’m linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday post for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Hugs and prayers for the safety of our friends and families who are in the path of Hurricane Harvey, due to make land in Texas as I write this.....

Cathy maroon
Friday, August 18, 2017

Finally - I finished a YELLOW Project!

This project is two months behind, color-wise, as yellow was the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color for June. But it is finally done, and I have a couple pictures to share.


Pineapples finished at 63x82” (60x80” after washing). I love this picture out in the backyard, with the hollyhocks blooming in the background. My brother is standing on a chair holding it up.

And here is the back. It is an old bedsheets that cousin Kim gave me - a two-toned green pineapple print. I had enough of the fabric left over to use it as binding too.  That upper left  corner in the picture? Steve is pinching the quilt as he holds it, LOL. I guess I am going to have to give him a crash course in holding quilts for pictures.


This finish crosses off #6 on my list of 3rd Quarter Finish-Along goals, which can be seen HERE

And below are some of the tulips I did. My friend Terri is doing the other half and is using some gold color in a few of hers, too. We are both using several of the same Joel Dewberry fabrics with a few others added in as well. Next time we get together we can lay them all out on the design board and sew up the top. I will quilt it (probably just a simple loop or stipple, then Terri will bind it.  There is no rush on this, however, as it is meant as a Christmas present. We both are working on other projects in the meantime, so this will now be set aside for a couple months.


I didn’t work on any neutral scraps this past week. But in addition to the pineapples and tulips, I did some mending and have mostly completed two large Euroshams to match my Aria bedspread. I don’t know why I’m actually doing them, because I like the clean look of the bed without all the big pillows on it. But I have the leftover fabric and the large fluffy pillows have to be put SOMEWHERE since my closets are overflowing with quilts again.

This coming week: more neutrals for sure! Plus finishing up the Aria shams and making a start on the guitar quilt for Bruce. In the meantime, why not join us over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday??

Cathy maroon
Saturday, August 12, 2017

Working those Neutrals

It’s been another busy week here, but at least I was able to spend lots of time down in my studio, sewing my cares away. There was quite a variety of things to work on this week. My ADQD (Attention Deficit Quilting Disorder) was in overdrive, so I switched between sewing neutral string blocks, quilting the pineapple quilt, and sewing tulips and leaves. And mending clothes, sewing on buttons, etc. Life in the fast lane. Not.


But there is a method to my madness. The needle in my machine needed changing, so I figured that sewing on a paper base in order to do the 4.5” neutral string blocks would be better on the old needle. Therefore, for three days I cut, sewed and trimmed blocks. The result was 78 (of 168 needed) neutral string blocks.


There are plenty more strings and scraps and fabrics where these came from, and I will be working on them throughout the month.  Come visit us over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday. Lots of us are working through our neutral scraps this month!

Anyway, by Wednesday I put a new needle in the machine and switched to quilting the pineapple quilt, which I had basted on Monday. The first thing I did on the pineapple quilt was to stitch all the vertical seams in the ditch with my walking foot.


And then I began doing X quilting in the pineapples themselves. So much moving and shifting the quilt around (!) and my Bernina has an average-at-best harp space. My shoulders hurt after quilting five pineapples. So, I set myself a goal of quilting 5 pineapples a day. With 24 pineapples in the quilt, that will take 5 days. To date, I have completed 15; 9 left to go. I’m using a light, icy yellow on the front instead of white - not that you can really tell from this picture. The thread on the back is a variegated light green. When I finish the quilt next week, I’ll have pictures.

After quilting my quota of 5 pineapples a day, I figured it was a good time to start assembling tulips and leaves for the quilt that my friend Terri and I are making for our friend Diane.

I originally added the gold color in because there is gold in the small pink floral print that you see in almost every tulip. But I think the gold strips overpower the pastels and need to be taken out and substituted with another pastel (probably that aqua with pink strawberries). What do you think?


All the tulips will have a stem and leaves; that is the next step. And this is only half the tulips anyway; Terri is making the other half of them.


So now I am a stem-and-leaf-making fool, and hope to get those done this week in addition to finishing the pineapple quilt and making the rest of the neutral strip blocks.  The next project on the horizon is Bruce’s guitar quilt....

Finally, if you have a moment, why not stop by Lily Pad Quilting and the Pets on Quilts Show for 2017. Darla, my sweet quilting tabby, is entered in the Cats on Quilts category. You can visit the linky party HERE. Voting will open next week, and we hope you will consider voting for Darla, the Quilting Cat!

And now, it’s back to the sewing room for me...... unless Darla is using the machine! (wink)

Cathy maroon
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Darla the Quilting Cat

Hi Friends! It’s me, Darla the Quilting Cat. Yep, it’s true; my mommy taught me this year. I even have pictures to show you in a moment. But first, I am so thrilled to be joining the Pets on Quilts parade for 2017! We always have fun visiting other animal friends online, and I especially want to thank Snoodles, Padsworth and DragonDrop at Lily Pad Quilting for hosting the fun!!



So, let me introduce my furry self.

My name is Darla (“The Girl with the Polka Dot Tummy"), and I am a 4-year old tabby. I live with my mom and dad and my litter brother Alfalfa. Alfie is an orange tabby. He didn't want to be in the show this year because he's been spending much of his time on Neighborhood Watch duties at the windows, keeping an eye on the birds and other critters that visit. It is an impurrtant job too.

By the way, I have the softest furs EVER invented! Silky smooth, I am. I can’t help it!  All the better to leave them behind on the quilts I get to test. Besides being a sewing cat, I also lay on quilts to hold them down (we don’t want them to fly away, you know) and test them for snuggle-ability. It’s my favorite part of the whole quilting process.




Now I would love to show you my sewing lessons to purr-oove my quilting abilities.

First, here I am watching while Mom explained how to use a rotary cutter. She helped me cut squares out for a quilt. Because I don’t have opposable thumbs, she used the rotary cutter while I held the fabric down or held the ruler. Or both. I`m good like that....


Then I learned to thread the machine. Can I tell you how much I love playing with thread?? I like Mommy’s machine. I think it’s a Purr-nina.


Here I am guiding the fabric through the machine, being careful to catch WATCH that quarter-inch seam.


Sewing is hard work, and as quilters we all must remember to take frequent breaks to relax and stretch our muscles. Here I demonstrate my PROVEN technique. Mommy wonders exactly what it is I’m trying to prove, but sometimes she’s no fun! 


And the finished result!  How can you argue with success?!


When the voting begins in a few days, I hope you will come back and vote for me! I can’t promise, but I might even sew a quilt for you!

xo,
DARLA