Summer Sunrise

Summer Sunrise

“Autumn Sunset” has a new sister quilt.  It’s called “Summer Sunrise.”

Just so we’re clear, I’m rarely up in time to see a summer sunrise.  The poppy is a simplified version of one that grows in my garden.  It’s a pretty tough customer as it was unplanted, divided and replanted several years ago. It was one of the few perennials that survived the winter of 2016-17.   I have no idea what this particular flower is called and I haven’t seen another one.  I just love it.

Some details will be added with quilting and possibly paint.  There is also an outside chance of embroidery, but that’s pretty iffy. This imaginary sunrise is a bit smaller than “Autumn Sunset.”  Same number of blocks, just a bit smaller.  A few things I’ve learned will be added to the pattern, along with block and cutting measurements for the new quilt.

I have an idea for one more background that would involve colors closer to each other on the color wheel.  I hadn’t really planned for this to be a series, but these projects tend to take on a life of their own.  So much for the illusion of control.

In preparation for an eventual downsize, I’m trying to thin the herd a bit.  We’ve lived in this house for almost 29 years and it’s appalling how much stuff we’ve managed to accumulate.  Most of the kid’s stuff is gone.  They’ve long since moved out, but we stored things for them for years.  As I begin to go through things, it seems I have an emotional bond with books, and art and craft materials.  Those things I’m putting off until last.  Oh, and kitchen gadgets.  I love to bake, but don’t really love general cooking.  For that reason I’m a sucker for anything that purports to make cooking easier.  I won’t even bore you with the quilting gadgets.  As you’ve doubtlessly gathered, this is going to be an interesting project.

Now that Barb has quilting space in her home, she is 1) realizing how much stuff she borrowed from me, and 2) how challenging it is to wrangle all her quilting stuff.  And remembering what you already have in the heat of shopping is a whole other drama.  Barb is now using Evernote to keep track of what she has and I am (slowly) following her lead.  Evernote is an app that lets you keep lists right where you can always get to them (on your phone) and even allows you to scan in pictures.  This means that I can scan in the lists I already have and then add to them as needed.  Since I nearly always have my phone with me, it’s easy to check to find out if I really need that new fancy-pants ruler that a quilt shop is demonstrating.  I have, on occasion, bought the same ruler twice, not to mention the same book.  The book list will go into the app too.  The basic app is free and well worth having.

The sun is finally out after a dreary, rainy weekend.  We really needed the rain as the 0.04″ of rain we’ve gotten in the last month wasn’t really cutting it.  Oregon had a lot of bad fires last summer and fall and we could use a year off.  All I need now is for Toby to stop barking at the squirrels and we would have a sweet peaceful summer.

My goal for the summer is to keep this lovely little begonia alive and quilt SO much.

Keep quilting for fun.

Candy

And Summer Begins

And Summer Begins

Is May getting away from you?  Welcome to the club.  The time is going so fast, I feel like I can’t keep up.  So my answer?  Take the week.  I did a little sewing, a little gardening and some general messing around last week.    I also took a couple of naps.  Except for Monday, I wasn’t very efficient.  I didn’t begin to get through my to-do list.  And guess what?  The world is still turning.  Yes, this week I’ll be catching up, and I’m ready for the challenge.

It actually looks like it’s snowing outside right now although the temperature is in the high 60’s. 

What we have here is cottonwood.  We have a couple weeks of this every spring.  These little fluffs get on the dogs, in the house and stuck in the screens.  Apparently about half of humanity is allergic to the stuff.  It’s kind of a mess, but it should be over soon.

Strawberry season is here and they’re marvelous! So far I’ve made strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake and strawberry/lime jam.  Barb and I did the jam last Saturday and we’re looking forward to raspberries and apricots as they both make fabulous jam.  I’m not fooling myself this year – summer will be busy and tasty.

    

A couple of weeks ago my small quilt group, Quilters on the Edge, had the reveal of our latest projects.  To see all the finished tops, you can go to Quilters on the Edge on Facebook.  We each made a center and sent it off to be added to by each of the other members of the group.  Seven of us participated.  We don’t get to see our own top until the last meeting.  I was so tickled with mine and want to show it off.

It’s cutting the line to be the next top quilted.

I’m already looking at my Halloween fabrics to decide what I’ll work on for this fall.  I have enough Halloween fabric to last for the rest of the 21st century.  I tell myself every year that I don’t need more and it’s so true.  Yet nearly every year some designer comes up with something I just have to own.  I’m sure this is a sign of something, but I honestly just don’t want to know.  I want to just wallow in the fabric.

Yesterday was Ella’s eleventh birthday.  She has no understanding that she should be a quiet, dignified older dog.  She runs up and down the stairs like a puppy and is known as “the instigator.”  If there’s trouble, she started it.  Happy birthday to forever young Ella!

Now I have to go work on the catching up part of my day.  Share us with your quilting friends and browse the rest of the site.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

How Many Tools?

How Many Tools?

While I’m welcoming May, I’m still wondering what happened to April.  It just got away so fast!  If anyone knows, I’d love to hear.

Quick question:  How many quilting tools do you have that seemed like a great idea but turned out to be either useless or more trouble than they were worth?  A healthy number of mine were discovered at a quilt show vendor.  Whoever was demonstrating these clever gadgets made them look so easy and time-saving.  Not to mention just plain cool.  (Like my father before me, I love gadgets.  Just ask my kitchen drawers. They will rat me out in a heartbeat.)  The thing is that a few of them turned out to be great.  The rest are hard to part with because I paid good money for them and they really should work.  Or they used to work before the next cool thing came along.  Sound familiar?  So here are a couple of hints to review right before that impulse buy.

  1.  What do I use now that this new doodad will replace?  Do I really need to shave a half second off my cutting or sewing time?
  2. Ask the demonstrator to let you try it.
  3. Does it take time to set up?  If the answer is yes, will you really do that?  Be honest!
  4. Did your head spin when you heard the price?
  5. Step away from the table and think about it while you have a cup of tea or a donut.  Sometimes just getting away from the sales pressure gives you  some perspective.

In your heart, you already know this stuff.  The trick is to remember it at the right time.  Copy down the questions you need to ask yourself in your quilting notes, your phone or your bullet journal.

What I should have walked away from (even though it was a good deal):

  1.  The rolling ruler.  Seemed like a good idea.  In reality, not so much.
  2. Another magazine subscription.  Because I don’t have enough.
  3. Any ruler that only does one thing.

Sometimes the simplest tools work the best.  What I would have a hard time living without are my tweezers.

  The bottom pair has a really tiny tip which is great for grabbing that bobbin thread and pulling it up when quilting.  The top pair is perfect for picking out threads from unsewn seams or bits of fabric or thread or batting that seem to be drawn to dark fabric.  Not fancy, but really useful.

I’m putting the binding on “Birds Heading Home.”  It was my UFO project for April that turned out to be more labor intensive than I thought it would be.  Nearly all the quilting lines are about ¼ inch apart.  It wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming.  I really should’ve seen this coming.

If anyone knows how to stop time for a couple hours a day to get more quilting in, let me know.

Our newsletter will come out at the end of the week.  The sign up is at the top right of this page.

Even though the sun is out, at least in theory, and the weeds and flower pots are waiting, there’s alway some quilting to do.  So be sure to get some fresh air and Vitamin D, and then quilt for fun!

Candy

 

 

And Then There Was Sun!

And Then There Was Sun!

Today is springy and it feels so good.  I actually sat outside in the sunshine and took in a bit of Vitamin D.  I’m always surprised at how much more energy I have on sunny days. It’s nice to have the windows open and I can hear kids playing outside and imagine their mothers sighing in relief.  There’s a leaf blower in the distance and by tomorrow the air will be alive with the sound of power washers.

The house repairs are finally finished and what a relief.  I am really enjoying the quiet.  The only sad part is that I have no excuse to put off housework!

I’ve been quilting this quilt

which has been nameless until now.  I looked up the name of the block and was disappointed to find it unimaginatively called Double X #4.  That is just not cutting it.  I’ve decided to call the quilt “Birds Heading Home.”  The birds are the little green triangles and the birdhouse has a bright pink door.  I’ve quilted the top right corner.

It’s a lot of quilting, but since the piece isn’t really big, it won’t take too long.

If patriotic quilts are your thing or you do Quilts of Valor, there’s a lot of red, white and blue fabric out there now.  I love the colors and am ready to do at least a runner.  I have some older runners I’ve made and looking at them now reminds me how long some of those pieces have been around.  Many of the blues I used before the turn of the century have faded to gray.  The newer dyes are much better and I now have windows that block the UV rays that bleach out carpet, draperies and even wood floors.  If you’re looking for patterns for patriotic quilts, I’d like to recommend our Blue Star Mothers pattern.  If you want a good sized quilt in a hurry, Fall Into Halloween would be great in USA prints.  Also, for some cool patriotic fabrics, Mother Goes Mod works well, especially if you have a red, white and blue layer cake.

Blue Star Mothers

Blue Star Mothers

After a long, hard winter, get outside and get a little sun.  Then quilt for fun!

Candy

PS  Newsletter coming out next week!  Sign up at the top right of this page.

 

If It Rains, Clean Something

If It Rains, Clean Something

Today there is dancing in the streets!  Okay, not in the actual street, just in our fevered brains.  After more than five months of destruction and reconstruction, the house repairs are finished.  There are still two walls that need wallpaper and the painters are waiting for some consecutive days of dry weather to finish the painting outside.  Still, we are enjoying some wonderful quiet.  I should be able to move back into my studio tomorrow.  What a relief!

We had a stormy weekend which was the perfect opportunity to create a neatness in my office.  I thinned out a bunch of ten-year-old (and older) magazines and saved some (okay, a lot of ) inspirational pages.  The desk is still a little scary – one step at a time.

Now that I’ve declared April UFO month, it’s time to choose something to finish.  This is the current front-runner.

Obviously, it’s spent some years folded up in the closet.  (Don’t worry, it had lots of company.) It was a little study in value using just one block in three sizes.  I like the colors and I had really forgotten about it.  It’s time to give this baby a little love.

Barb is finally finishing setting up her studio.  She moved into a house at the beginning of January and it takes forever to get settled when one is also working full time.  Barb is also Ms. DIY, so she’s been very busy.  The current project is Roman shades in her two back bedrooms.  I haven’t made window coverings of any kind for years, and frankly hope I never have to again.  I think Barb just likes the challenge.  She was pretty surprised at how big her stash is when she moved her sewing stuff out of my house (no room at her apartment) and into her house.  Now she’ll have to buy her own thread!

The weather hasn’t been too springy.  Last weekend we had sideways rain and lots of wind.  I’m actually surprised that it didn’t blow the petals right off the tulips.  Guess they’re pretty tough.

I’m hoping to get down to the tulip fields around Woodburn in the next couple of weeks to take some pictures.  It’s very reminiscent of Holland in the spring with so many fields of color.

If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, it’s easy to do and we promise not to fill your inbox.  The aim is a monthly missive when life doesn’t intervene.

Check out our shopping page for some spring inspiration!

Keep quilting for fun!

Candy

 

A Finishing Month

A Finishing Month

I recently read that the Northwest has two false springs before the real one kicks in.  This is true.  And spring itself is a bit iffy.  One day can include sun, warmth, clouds, a chilly rain, maybe some wind and hail, and then sun again.  This same post also mentioned summer, also known here as road construction.  But that’s a whole other story.  I just ran out and took some pictures of the sunshine.  Then I sat out in the sun for a few minutes.  Real Oregonians do not waste sunshine.

That poor rosemary had a tough winter.  It’s hardy, though and has already worked its charm on a chicken recipe.  This is the first day that any tulips have opened up and I’m loving the look.

I finished and washed “Sewist’s Delight.”  It needs blocking, but I’m not convinced it’ll help a great deal.  I like the colors and design.  But the quilting experiment was definitely a bust.  And so, another lesson is learned.

   

 

I’m hoping to get back in my old sewing space in April.  The space I’m using is fine, but it just feels off.  I’m seriously thinking of making April a finishing month.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a great starter so taking some time to finish would do two things: one, some UFOs will be dealt with and two, new ideas will come really fast.  It’s a bit like the dogs who want to be somewhere they’re not.  In truth, there will still be lots of UFOs on May 1, just fewer.

Our next newsletter will be out in a couple of weeks.  It’s easy to sign up at the top right of this page.

When the sun comes out, run out and enjoy it.  Sniff some hyacinths – that aroma is the very essence of spring.  Then, work on a springy quilt.  Check our shopping page for ideas.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

 

Something Springy

Something Springy

Spring is  here.  We know this in the Northwest because we’ll have a sunny and 70 degree day followed by a rainy 50 degree day followed by a dry, mixed sun and clouds day.  It’s confusing, mostly because whatever I choose to wear, it’ll be either not warm enough or not cool enough.  The trick here is layers.  Lots of layers.  BTW, these hyacinths smell lovely.

A couple of weeks ago AQS had a book sale.  The quilt library is already stuffed, but there’s always room for one (or four) more.  My biggest problem is that I want to do ALL the quilts.  Time is a bit of an issue here.  The good news is that no matter what, I’ll never be bored.  The big question is, what do I do next?

“Sewist’s Delight” has the quilting finished and the binding attached.  This one comes under the heading “better finished than perfect.”  I like the idea of the quilting better than the reality.  If I were to do it again, I would quilt each of the four big blocks individually and then put them together.  I’ve done this before with some large projects and it would’ve been more appropriate for this one.

The narrow quilting went fine within each block, but got kind of hairy between the blocks.  Live & learn.  The plan now is to finish the binding and wash the quilt.  A bit of shrinkage may help the overall look or make it way worse.  Only one way to find out.

One of my spring favorites is “Tulip Field.”  The pattern is on sale through the end of April for $9.00.  Treat yourself when the taxes are done.  Or any time, really.  Click on the shop button and have some fun.

 

There are actually tulip fields not far from here.  I haven’t visited them in a couple of years and it’s about time.  As soon as they’re seriously blooming, I’ll take a field trip.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

On the Job Training

On the Job Training

It’s a sunny day!  Thank you Mother Nature, I needed that.  Spring may come after all.

Taking a shortcut sometimes comes back to bite one.  Last weekend, I was the one bitten.  On small quilts like “Sewist’s Delight” I don’t do any kind of basting.  The cotton tops and backs generally stick to the batting (except for wool) pretty well and I get good results.  Enter Sewist’s Delight and my idea to do straight line quilting in the dark blue parts.

I would be the first to tell you that straight lines are challenging, even with a walking foot.  Fabric, by its very nature moves no matter what.  Basting only controls that to a certain degree.  Knowing this going in helped me to not expect absolute perfection.  I decided that the best way to do this project was to do one quarter at a time, starting with the inner blue border and moving on to the outer blue border.  The blue inner border was okay, but it didn’t have very sharp corners.

The blue on blue quilting doesn’t show it it the picture, but it bugged me.  So I got out my chalk pencil and ruler and drew myself some lines so I would have sharp corners that all lined up.  I should also mention that when I do straight line quilting, I lengthen my machine stitch a bit.  I like the look and more importantly, if, heaven forbid, I have to take stitches out I won’t need a microscope.

I went on to do the outer border and pretty much congratulated myself on being so clever.  This is where I probably jinxed it.  I smoothed out the next block and quilted the inner border and started on the outer one.  I very soon realized that I hadn’t smoothed enough from the first block to this one and there was more fabric than could be quilted out.

This turn of events was NOT amusing.  I spent the next two hours taking out the eleven rows of stitching on the inside border and the three rows I’d completed on the outer border.  The next thing I tried was safety pinning.  I would probably never do this on a larger scale, but I needed to hold the next block a little tighter.

The whole thing didn’t need pinning, but I needed to be sure I was starting out right on the inner border.  This worked much better, if not perfectly.

For the next 2 blocks I’m using spray adhesive.  I may also use some pins.  While I’m not a raging perfectionist, I do have standards.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  To be continued.

On another front we’re realizing more and more how important tools are to quilting.  A new page will be added to this website to highlight the tools we’ve loved and maybe a few we wish we’d left at the store.  Tools are pretty personal.  What we love, you might find useless.  With this in mind, we invite you to tell us about the tools you love (and hate).  We’d like to pass this info on to others.  Most of our favorites have been suggested to us by other quilters and have become basics in our quilting toolbox.

While you’re here, sign up for our monthly newsletter, above, right.  Then click on the shop button to see our quilt patterns.

To sunny days and open windows!

Quilt for fun!

Candy

 

 

 

The Refresher Course

The Refresher Course

This greeted us this morning.  It’s not really sticking.  Right now it’s mostly just blowing around.  I think the same flakes are just blowing back and forth across  my window.  Guess it’s still winter for another month or so.

You learn something new from every class, even if the class turns out not to be your thing.  We hear this all the time, mainly because it’s true.  And not just for quilting.  Last week I took a three day art class that was a lot of review.  It was great!  I tend to get so wound up in how I want something to turn out that I forget the basic lessons.  One of those for watercolor is to let the paint do what it’s going to do.  Watercolor is not for control freaks.  What you think you want tends to be more of a suggestion.  For drawing, it’s putting down what you see, not what you think you should see.

None of these things are new lessons for me.  I’ve taken drawing and watercolor classes before.  The truth is that sometimes we all have to take a step back and relearn the basics.  One more time.  And then again later.  And maybe next year.  Same goes for quilting.  Every once in a while it’s good to remember to cut and sew accurately.  Review a Sally Collins book.  Slow down, take a deep breath and remember the basics.

The biggest problem with art classes is they make me want to just hang around and play with my art toys.  So I do.

I started to quilt on what I think I’m going to call “Sewist’s Delight.”

(The fabrics in the centers are prints about sewing.)  Naturally, I don’t have enough of the dark blue thread so I’ll have to get back to it in a few days.  It’s not like I don’t have a dozen more things to work on.

The Frosty Day pattern (above) is ready and will be added to the shopping page.  It’s a 3, 6, 9 pattern so the blocks are basic and give you the freedom to make it yours.  There’s still some winter left.

We invite you to sign up for our newsletter which we send every month or so.  One is coming up soon and we’d love to hear what you think.

Stay warm and Quilt For Fun!

Candy

 

Fooled by Mother Nature

Fooled by Mother Nature

The weather is pretending to be spring-like and bulbs are coming up early.  We can only hope it’s not too early.  It won’t be funny if they get frostbitten.  Here’s our first crocus volunteer.

In the upper left you can see some very early tulips.  They may regret not staying cozy underground for a few more weeks.

I don’t even know what this guy’s story is.  It usually blooms in the late summer and early fall.

The forecast called for a dry and cold winter and Mother Nature has fooled us again.  We’ve had plenty of rain and very few freezing nights.  I wouldn’t mind a bit more sun.  The thing about weather is that you get what you get.

The three-week house repair has now entered month four.  Because of work being done on the studio corner of the house (including jackhammering on Wednesday), the sewing table has been temporarily moved to Barb’s old space.  Her new house has room for her studio and most of her things are moved out of my house.  While I’ll miss having her working here, this arrangement is much more efficient.

 

The personal challenge quilt is all pieced together and ready to quilt.  I ran out of the original orange color and substituted one from my stash.  They look more alike in person than in the picture.

Which brings me to a couple of interesting color facts that I knew, but got some real reminders of this week.  The house project affected two rooms that had wallpaper in them.  The paper in my son’s rooms is about 20 years old and still looks good, but of course we didn’t have enough leftovers for the affected wall and that exact thing is no longer available.  So that wall will have a coordinating color.  The dining room has the same problem, so we decided to find wallpaper that coordinated with the border, which has a bamboo design.  Grasscloth comes in a million colors so what could go wrong?

I didn’t have a scrap of that border which went up 28 years ago, so I matched the color in my Joen Wolfram color palette and took a picture of the  border.  I brought home a sample that seemed very close in the wallpaper store.  Let me just say that it was way off.  I can easily get a green that’s too yellow or one that’s too blue.  The lesson relearned is that colors in photos don’t tell the whole story.  Also, ink and dye will never match.  And lastly, they don’t make that color this year.  Oh, and the light at the wallpaper store is nothing like the light in my dining room.  This old house is about to push me over the falls.  I would post a picture, but all the living room furniture is stuffed into the dining room while repairs happen and there’s no way to actually get a decent shot of the wall.

The good news of all this is that Sweet Husband and I are both in the mood to declutter.  We’ve lived in this house for 28 years and it appears that we’ve saved WAY too much junk.  From pictures that haven’t been hung up since 1979 to cookbooks that I never use, we have it all.  And then there’s fabric.  I can’t even go there in my head.  I’ve saved lots of little pieces that were too big to throw away (at least in my fevered brain).  I think there’s a scrap quilt or 80 in my future.

There are three small drawers like this with different widths of strips.  I’d better get on it before I hit hoarder status.

Now, back to the sewing machine.

Quilt for fun!

Candy