Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Last time I showed the mostly completed flimsy of a baby quilt begun in March with members of our church's ladies group string-piecing colorful 4 1/2 inch blocks.  The group pieced 98 squares, enough to complete two baby quilts.   After adding sashing, we decided the design was busy enough that elaborate quilting would be overwhelmed, and decided to keep it simple, with stitch-in-the-ditch quilting and perhaps a bit of linear quilting in the sashings if time permitted.

At this point, I need to admit that I hadn't done any free motion quilting since early September, and sadly discovered that FMQ skills disappear WAY more rapidly than they are gained! I had hoped to add some free motion quilting to this, but without adequate time to practice some of the rusty skills, it looked like this was going to be a problem!  So, having decided that the linear quilting design was in order, after stitching each block in the ditch with the dual feed foot, a series of X's were free motion quilted in each of the sashings.  I had not attempted to FMQ straight lines other than brief practice in the past, but was happily surprised that as long as the lines aren't much more than 4-5 inches long, they are quite easily done.  So, white ceramic lead Sewline pencil and soap slivers in hand, the X design was marked out and quilted this past weekend, and this is the completed quilt.
I did go back to using the dual feed foot to quilt the outer sashings since they needed to be stitched so close to the edge, and that worked like a charm.  The four-pointed star and octagon designs that seem to emerge and then disappear between the blocks really add a nice dimension to this simple design.
The pattern is based on Marianne Fons' Rock Island Campfires quilt featured in the July/August 2013 issue of Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine.  This one has Hobbs Polydown for the batting.

Ballerinas for the back!

My friend Sarah completed a second similar quilt, and here is a photo of both just before they were turned in to the school, to be sold during the annual school benefit auction on May 3.

Since completing the Checkered Past quilt, I've resumed hand quilting of the scrappy vintage bow-tie quilt found at a small local estate sale last summer.  While I'd love to have this completed by the end of April, it will more likely be toward the end of May before the quilting is finished and a binding added.  I'd love to find a yard or so of a nice vintage 1950s fabric for the binding, but wonder if it would be better with a plain muslin binding.  The back is a single width of a nice off-white or natural muslin that might be easier to match than finding 1950s fabric that would coordinate.  The white ground pieces on the front are a very loosely woven vintage fabric, perhaps from a sheet or tablecloth, very soft but too ravelly for use as a binding, even if I had extra.   What do you think? 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Finishes, NewFO's, and Where Does the Time Go?!

Wow, how can it be that a full three months have gone by since I last posted on this little blog!  So much has happened, and lots of changes coming up this next year that it may become the new pattern, at least for awhile.  DH will be retiring later this year, and we came to the decision that we need to move back to the east coast to be closer to our kiddos and grandbabies.  So, just after Christmas a flurry of little fix-up and remodeling projects began and we now have our house on the market.  If all goes well, we will be back in upstate New York in time to enjoy the glorious fall colors before winter sets in  once again.

I've been able to do at least a little quilting to keep my sanity, so this post will be a short recap of some finishes and a couple of NewFOs since the New Year.

First, my version of Barbara Brackman's Checkered Past 1862 quilt pattern is finally completed.  This one was hand quilted, and the fabrics are so soft, it has quickly become one of my favorites to snuggle under.  Unfortunately our weather has not been cooperating so the photos were taken in less than perfect lighting/background.
Batting is Hobbs 80/20 cotton and Coats cotton hand quilting thread (pink spool) was used for the quilting.  The star blocks were quilted in a diagonal cross hatch through the middle of each square using a light beige, and the border Baptist Fan pattern was stitched with a dark red.  Hobbs 80/20 is nice for hand quilting, shrinks just a little after the quilt is washed, giving it a nice soft and slightly crinkly texture.  I do rinse the batting in the tub, and throw it in the dryer on low heat before quilting to minimize the shrinkage a bit, and that works well for me.  The finished quilt measures about 53x71 inches.

Last year I found a large remnant of a 1930s fan quilt in an online auction.  I loved the cheery yellow background, and not knowing exactly what I'd do with it, I purchased the piece.  It arrived as expected with binding on only two sides and the piece was somewhat out of square.
Don't you just love these cheery 30's prints!
After trimming the raw edges to square it up as best I could, I was lucky enough to find a piece of yellow solid in my stash that almost perfectly matches the backing fabric which had been brought round to the front to finish binding the original quilt.  I made a narrow binding to finish off the two raw edges, and it now hangs above our entertainment unit.  It measures about 35x31 inches.   The seller later had two additional similarly sized pieces obviously cut from the same quilt.  How unfortunate that the quilt had suffered major damage in its center area and had to be sold as a cutter.  I can only imagine how spectacular it must have been when newly made.  But I'm happy to be able to enjoy this little hanging every day.

Now, on to the NewFO's!

In March my friend Sarah and I were in charge of leading our church ladies group's monthly activity day, and we decided to work on a quilting project.  Since some of the women do not sew frequently and most are not quilters, we decided string piecing on paper foundations would be an easy and fun project for a Saturday morning.  We chose the Rock Island Campfires quilt pattern from the July/August 2013 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting.   Sarah and I provided brunch, then working with childrens and baby prints from both my stash and the church's stash of vintage quilting fabrics the ladies stitched up 96 string squares - enough to make two baby quilts.   Sarah and I will now each work on finishing one of the quilts in time for the church school's annual benefit auction held the first Saturday in May.  Here are some photos of the quilt top I've been working on, right after the borders were stitched  and before pressing the top and sandwiching for machine quilting:
 Note the mix of vintage and modern prints in the string pieced blocks.

Here is the original quilt as pictured in the magazine.  I've decided to make this quilt in the "campfire" version with the smoky/fire colors for our home, and so far have cut all the strips and sashings for my 'official' March NewFO.  I haven't photographed the bin with all the pieces - you'll have to take my word for it, but the sashing strips are made up of an assortment of gorgeous smoky gray batik fat quarters I won more than a year ago that have just been waiting for the right project, and this is it.   Hoping to make this quilt completely from my stash, including the backing.

Linking up, for the first time this year, with Cat Patches March NewFO linky party, where all you have to do is start a project and then link up and visit every one else's blog to see what everyone else is working on this month.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Last Finish of the year, and the 2014 NewFO Challenge

In a recent post I mentioned a 1950s era quilt top I'd found that had "issues" to put it mildly.  Originally 7 inches longer on one side than the other, it was also pieced together with triangle squares of varying sizes with little regard for matching corners, and with a large machine basting stitch.  Definitely not something I wanted to spend much time on yet it also didn't want to be thrown in the pile of things heading out to the local St. Vincent de Paul store either.
The original top.   Photo was taken on a sunny day, the top looks nice and clean, but it was not, and the natural muslin triangles had age spots and small stains.
I ended up taking off the three rows of triangle squares on the right and added a wide dark brown border to make it a useable size.   Trying to stabilize the large machine stitched seams, I decided that an overall FMQ meander quilting was the best way to proceed.   I had an old Mountain Mist 100% cotton batting, probably from the 1960s or perhaps even earlier.  It had the paper wrapper with some vintage patterns printed on the reverse.  So, meandering we did through the first week or so of December, then the edges were trimmed and the plain brown binding was stitched down, and the finished quilt measured about 58 x 84 inches.
I've heard the praises of the "Biz Bucket" for soaking out stains and age spots on vintage linens, so after the binding was stitched, the quilt went into the bathtub filled with hot water and about 1/2 cup of powdered Biz and nearly the same amount of original Dawn liquid dish soap.   The water turned a grungy shade of brown, which I should have photographed, but forgot to do before draining the tub some eight hours later.   After soaking all day, the quilt was rinsed in the tub several times, excess water squeezed out and then into the washer for an additional cold water rinse and spin.  After that it went through another delicate cycle in the washer with a small amount of liquid Biz and several more rinse and spin cycles, then into the dryer on the low heat setting.  The quilt shrunk up nicely and now measures about 53 x 78 inches, a good size for the back of the couch or a small grandchild's bed or an outside picnic when they come for a visit.  Here's the finished quilt in all its clean and crinkly glory.

So, that's my last finish for the year.  The other two quilts currently underway are weeks away from the hand quilting being completed, plus we just embarked on a remodel of the small bathroom in our house, and the next couple of weeks will be spent with spackling, paint cans and wallpaper!  Funny how that works - you update one item in a room, in this case changing out the flooring from carpeting to a more practical vinyl, and the rest of the room suddenly looks way shabbier than it did originally, and you know you can't just continue to ignore the obvious.
Thinking of the new year ahead, Barbara over at Cat Patches is again hosting her annual NewFO Challenge.  And this new year will be one of many challenges on the horizon with DH's anticipated retirement and a few other major life changes on the horizon.  Though I fell short this year and had to r-e-a-l-l-y stretch to have a NewFo every month this year (and there are still none on the horizon for this month), I do want to participate again next year, so I'll throw my name into the hat once again with the following:
1.  The Strippy Basket Quilt I didn't quite manage to start this year, inspired from an older Fons & Porter Fat Quarter Friendly Book pattern.
2.  I'd also like to make at least one baby quilt each month to donate to our local hospital's Layette Project that provides new parents who are in need with a complete layette when they take their newborns home.
3.  Earlier this year I acquired several vintage 1980s era Ohio Mennonite quilt tops through an online seller friend who specializes in antique and vintage quilts and tops.  The tops range in size from 28x28 inch wall hanging through king size.  A couple are pieced and the others are mostly from vintage applique and embroidery kits.  This lady did impeccable needle turn applique and gorgeous embroidery and was a prolific quiltmaker.
I think it's safe to say that I'll begin hand quilting this wall hanging in 2014:
4.  I'm anticipating I'll need to begin (and maybe complete) another wedding quilt this year.  And maybe another grandbaby quilt - just sayin ...
I may be getting ahead of myself here, so I'll quit while I'm ahead and head off to find the links for Barbara's 2014 NewFO Challenge and see what everyone anticipates for the new year!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Banner - addendum to my November NewFO Post

In my last post I mentioned the big project I'd been working on was an Advent banner for our church.  There was no suitable spot in the house to get a photo so I waited until it had been hung and finally took the photo last Sunday.  Some of the colors are a bit washed out, especially the yellow beams, but my photo editing computer skills weren't up to fixing that issue without creating problems with other colors. 
This project had a finished size of a little over 88 inches x 44 inches. The completed banner looked a bit flat to my quilter's eye, so after adding a layer of lightweight batting and backing, there was the dilemma of how to best keep the layers together.  Since there are multiple layers of fabric fused one on top of another, especially in the center, machine quilting was not an option, not to mention a time-crunch factor.  In the end I decided to "tie" the piece using a variegated metallic thread, and hand stitching small "stars" somewhat randomly across the black background.  Then, the outer edges were folded to the back and machine stitched down since there was not enough of the black background fabric to make a regular binding.  All in all, as long as you don't peek at the back, it doesn't look too bad from a distance!

On the home front, December is flying by and I'm itching to start a new quilt, but since the Christmas decorations have still not made an appearance, I think hauling all the fabrics out of the closet is probably out of the question for a few weeks.  Still plugging along hand-quilting Checkered Past during the evenings and trying to get in a half hour or so of FMQ on the vintage triangles quilt every morning. 
Hope everyone is weathering the cold blast and snow storms we've had the past few days.  Stay warm, and happy quilting!

Monday, December 2, 2013

NewFO, and a Finish

November came and went just as quickly as every other month this year, but I'm happy to report that I actually started work on an old 1950s era quilt top found several months ago.  Curiously, the online seller didn't bother to mention that the top, which looked perfectly wonderful in her photo, actually was nearly 7 inches longer on one side than the other!  But my bad since when it arrived I just unfolded it about halfway and it looked about like it had in the photo so it was promptly put away for later.  It does have a wonderful array of 1940s and 50s fabrics in the alternating triangles which were apparently cut from "approximately" 4 inch, or was it 3 1/2 inch squares.  No matter, the quilter forged ahead and pieced it all together with fairly large machine stitching, bless her heart!  After all, if that quilt is meant to cover two people, one is bound to be taller than the other, right?  Of course!!

After deciding that I just couldn't bear to waste time hand quilting this vintage piece, nor was I about to take the entire thing apart and re-piece it, what next?  Laying it out on the carpet it became clear that it would never lie flat, but at least the longer area was mostly contained in the last three vertical rows.  After cutting those away, the remainder was down to "only" a two inch difference in length from one side to the other, but it was also now only about 44 inches wide.  So, after adding some wide plain brown borders from my stash, here is the resulting top.
It will be interesting to see how all those ripples quilt out!  I've pretty much decided that quick and simple is the way to go, so this one will be meandered into submission, even the borders, although I might go "fancy" on the borders with some variegated thread.  As of now, there are about three square feet quilted, and I'd love to see this one totally finished this week.  Batting is an old, really old, Mountain Mist 100% cotton batt that has been languishing in the stash closet for several years.  That ought to shrink up nicely and give a nice vintage look to the finished quilt, hopefully disguising the inevitable ripples and bumps!  Here's what the quilting looks like so far.

There was one additional November NewFO, an Advent banner for church, which was finished a couple days before Thanksgiving.  Now, how can it be that I don't yet have a photo?  It finished too large to hang anywhere in the house but I'll hopefully get a shot of it next Sunday after service.

One finish to report for November, that being little Zachary's quilt, completed just a couple days before I traveled to see him, along with his big brother and sister!

Photobomb!  At least he knew he wasn't supposed to lay on top of it!

I loved quilting the borders, and they went relatively quickly.
The back
Name quilted into the border.

That's about it for the month.  Linking up with Barbara at Cat Patches, where you can see lots of other NewFO's begun during November, and even enter your own.  Now, back to meandering through December, and looking forward to hand quilting some gorgeous vintage Mennonite quilt tops I acquired over the last few months.  Well, just as soon as I finish the Checkered Past and Bow-Tie quilts that are piled up on the quilting hoop stand.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Foster Quilt Mom

Or, an apt subtitle would be "One Very Special Quilt."
The back story:  The brother-in-law of one of the ladies at our church is a missionary in Liberia.  Over time he met a lady named Georgina, who makes her living, like many African women, by sewing.  Georgina made all her items completely by hand, having no sewing machine.  Our ladies group raised enough money to allow the purchase of a sewing machine for Georgina a couple years ago.  Early this year, Georgina presented her missionary friend with this gorgeous queen size quilt, completely hand appliqued and hand quilted, that she had made for the ladies group of our church.
We were amazed at this gorgeous gift of gratitude, and while postponing any decision of the quilt's final disposition, we agreed that we would take turns keeping the quilt in our respective homes for a few months.  And so, yesterday this lovely came to reside on the guest bed at our home. 
I absolutely love how Georgina softly gathered her appliques, allowing them to puff out when she echo quilted around each applique.  I've tried to show the marvelous texture she achieved and her wonderful hand quilted design that gives this quilt such definition.  She used a light weight but thick batting which serves to accentuate her quilting even more.
Here are some close-ups of the blocks:

Gorgeous, isn't it?
On another note, I finished baby Zachary's quilt late last evening, and will post some photos soon!
Happy Halloween for those who celebrate - we're lucky enough to live in a remote area where it stays quiet and peaceful, although we do have five feral cats, all jet black, who visit the outdoor kitty feeding station every evening!