Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nostalgia and Strippy Basket Blocks Progress

I spent a most delightful afternoon earlier this week with a younger cousin, not stitching but exchanging old photos while internet messaging.  She lives over 100 miles away, and had just been going through some of the old family photos in her late mom's vast collection.  Some of the photos surely date back to at least the 1930s, and perhaps even earlier.  They were taken at my grandparents farm, which holds a special place in my heart, as it was where my happiest childhood memories took place. 

When starting this blog I took the blogger name Quilting Babcia in honor of my grandma, my Babcia.  She was a formidable force with a huge soft spot in her heart for her grandchildren, an immigrant who arrived in this country at the age of 16.  She came alone, the rest of her family stayed behind in the old country, hoping to immigrate someday, a day that never arrived.  A distant cousin in New Jersey took her in for a short time, and she found a job and quickly learned enough English to get by.  At 18 she met and married my grandfather, a 20-year old recent immigrant, after a whirlwind three-week courtship. As far as I know they were never apart other than the years he spent serving in World War I.  When he returned from the war they bought a small 24 acre farm and raised their family there.  It became their home for the rest of their lives.  

They raised hundreds of chickens in the big old barn, kept a couple milking cows, and later when the cows were gone, Babcia raised her beloved rabbits in the back where the cows previously were housed.  And in that barn I spent many happy hours attempting to catch and tame the summer's litter of barn kittens, one of them so successfully that it followed Babcia around wherever she went and left countless meaty morsels on her doorstep for years afterward. She forgave me.
I'm almost certain that's my dad's car, a 1938 Plymouth, in front of the barn.

My grandparents kept several huge gardens, and twice a week they would load their green panel truck with fresh vegetables, eggs, and chickens and head for the fresh air market in a nearby city. This was how they made their living for nearly forty years.

Babcia sewed her children's dresses and shirts from the feed and floursack material of the era, on an old Singer treadle machine.  As far as I know she was not a quilter, but she was an excellent seamstress and a wonderful cook and a staunch defender of all her grandchildren.  I adored her.  We all adored her cream cheese cookies!
This may be the only photo of my Babcia holding me, 
a photo I'd never seen until two days ago!

Ah, yes, quilting - this week I've managed to stitch some of the setting triangles to the strippy basket blocks, and if all goes well and we don't end up leaving a day or two early, I may get the last row of basket blocks together and all three basket rows stitched to the alternate flower striped rows.  This is how it looks this morning before sewing the panels together.  Note the design wall is now officially attached to the wall, I think that pretty much makes the sewing room officially complete!

I've also been spending evenings tinkering with a few ideas while continuing the handquilting of the Blockade quilt   Reminder to self: don't keep choosing quilting designs that require constant rotation of the hoop when working on queen-size monster quilts!

What with packing and getting everything we can harvested from the garden, this may well be my last post before we depart.  I don't generally post while we're on the road, but with luck will find enough free wifi to continue following along with your latest adventures.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Paper Doll Memories

When I was very young, I couldn't wait until my mom's magazines would arrive, because the back cover often contained a paper doll complete with wardrobe to be cut and assembled, then loved and played with until they were practically in shreds.  I think of those days whenever this UFO is hauled out of the little bin.
Called Betsy's Closet in Stitches, it reminds me of the old Betsy McCall's paper dolls of all those years ago.  After stitching a few of the outfits using light shades of the various colors as recommended for the embroideries, the project got bogged down, and frankly I was bored and disappointed in the way they looked.  Very pale and bland and (to me) just plain boring.

Then, inspiration struck, after reading a recent post from Barbara at Cat Patches blog, where she had colored in the background of an embroidered quilt block she is currently stitching.  With nothing to lose, and hoping to be inspired to complete this little project at last, I dug out the big box of crayons we keep around for grandchildren's visits, and began coloring a couple of the completed blocks.

I liked this next red and white dress just the way it turned out and did not add any color to it.

This is the block currently in progress.   There are four blocks remaining to be embroidered after this one is completed.

I think these will be my take-along handwork project while we're traveling.  Once the embroidered blocks are finished, it will be quick work to piece the sashings and borders from the remnants in the
scrap bins.  There's also a piece of vintage paper doll fabric found at a yard sale a couple years ago that I think will make a perfect backing. The entire quilt finishes at about 24 x 30 inches, just about perfect for a granddaughter to wrap up her dollies and teddy bears.

A couple days ago we harvested the first of the pie pumpkins.  The trees are beginning to show a bit of color along the creek bank behind the house.  The sunflower heads are heavy and drooping. Though it is hot this week, first frost in these parts can be expected any time after about September 12.  And now my favorite season of the year begins!

Speaking of favorites, here's a new favorite from our garden.  Lemon Boy.  Beautiful color, delectable almost citrusy flavor.  This one weighed in at a hefty 1-1/4 pounds!  We polished it off at supper last night (that's a luncheon size plate in the photo).

Here's to a fun-filled, safe holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lurching toward a new start

Ever since I first turned the page and saw this quilt in the Fall 2010 issue of Quilt Sampler, I knew it would be a "must make" on my never-ending list of future quilts.

So, with an extended road trip coming up in the near future, last week I began cutting the applique pieces for the oak leaf/acorn blocks, hoping to accomplish some hand applique during the trip.  While attempting to fold back the edges over the freezer paper I quickly discovered the tight curves and acute angles were going to be w-a-a-a-y beyond my skill (or patience) level to hand stitch.  So, rather than going down in flames, the pieces were re-cut for some slow but steady machine applique when we return in a few weeks.
Since this quilt will eventually be for a very special person in my life, I didn't want to burn out on the project and let it turn into a UFO.  Better a little machine applique than a purist non-finish I say! Thinking the applique will be the most difficult part of the project, so that will be completed first, then the fun of piecing the remainder.  I'm hoping to hand quilt this beauty.

So, September begins with a new project.  Will it be finished by next September?  I certainly can hope, though the number of finishes this year has been abysmally few so far.  I do need to figure a way to rev up my hand quilting speed, that's for sure.

Now to find another hand work project for the trip.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

An Old Quilt Revisited

Fourteen years ago, right after our cross-country move to Oregon, I made my daughter her college quilt.  From start to finish the quilt took eight weeks, including the (fairly sparse) hand quilting.  This is rephotographed from an old print of that quilt when it was newly completed, just before packing it in that small wooden trunk and mailing it off to her for Christmas that year.

Last week, while helping her clear out an apartment, I noticed the quilt's binding had become quite frayed along the edges, and offered to bring it home and rebind it for her.  She was a bit reluctant at first, saying this was her very favorite quilt and she wrapped up in it every night, but she finally relented and it came home with me for a few days.  So, this is what it looked like when I laid it out on the spare bed:
Faded - definitely, a lot!  Fourteen years of everyday use, countless washings in laundromats with Tide pods (yikes!) really takes a toll.

Fabric nearly threadbare and about worn out, but soft as a kitten!  Found about a dozen of those small tears on the front, no doubt from a few kitten and puppy claws through the years.   Now, this is one well-loved quilt!  I was happy to discover that the quilting threads had all held up to the wear and tear, and the poly batting, though a lot thinner than when it was new, had not bearded or lumped despite the sparse quilting.

A little patchwork ensued.

The original binding was that same dark blue solid used in the sashing, and had long disappeared from the stash.  I finally located a soft faded dusty rose fabric in a tiny print that looked like it would blend well with both the front and back of the quilt.

So, sporting some quilty band-aids and new binding, this one is ready to make the trip back to my daughter's place next week and will hopefully last a few more years.

Our spell of heat and humidity has finally broken, 44 degrees this morning when I turned on the coffee pot.  The garden is beginning to look like it is ready for fall to arrive.  I think we are too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Taking shape - maybe?

After a couple weeks of internet connectivity issues, we have hopefully fixed the problem with my desktop computer where all the photo files are stowed, and I can get back to some blogging.  Amidst another small flurry of out-of-town company, a couple trips halfway across the state to help my daughter clear out an apartment, and the garden perking along, I've managed to finish sewing the basket blocks, 30 of them in fact!  So, we're now in that auditioning stage for setting fabrics.

If that design wall looks a little odd, it's because it isn't yet complete or attached to the wall, in fact these photos were taken about 10 minutes after I'd used all my T-pins to attach the heavy flannel to the foam board (the flannel having arrived via UPS not more than half an hour earlier!).  But, at last, I'm finally going to have a design wall!  Always have had to use the floor previously, which doesn't work at all well in the small rooms we have here.   Anyhow, another option;

My husband likes this second option much better than any of the fabrics in the first photo.  And, of course I'm leaning toward some combination of the first batch.  Did I mention there are 30 basket blocks made?  And only 18 are needed for the quilt pattern I'm using?  Yes, he will get his large quilt with the darker setting triangles, and there will be plenty left for a nice size lap quilt, and I'll have my chance to play with some other design settings and colors.  Win-win.  One more photo with a side-by-side ..

Gorgeous day yesterday, I happened to look up while picking a huge batch of green beans.  Brightest, deepest blue sky we've seen in a while.

These are the tallest sunflowers we've ever grown, some are at least 12 feet high.  Love their happy faces.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mail call and a few more baskets

A couple weeks ago, Audrey of Quilty Folk celebrated her fifth blogaversary with a giveaway, and I was the lucky winner of this book that arrived in yesterday's mail.
I've only spent a few minutes with the book so far, and although I doubt I'll ever make the entire quilt, there are a number of the simple applique blocks that would make great hand quilting templates, and a really fabulous primitive goose applique that will definitely find its way into a future quilt.  Here's a close-up of the image showing the goose (also note the smaller swan block).
Quilty Folk happens to be one of my favorite blogs since discovering it during a Bloggers Quilt Festival a year or so ago.  If you're not familiar with Audrey's quilts yet, you definitely need to head over and check out her blog.  Her delightfully whimsical and original style is a breath of fresh air, and a source of inspiration to reach out beyond our own comfort zone with our quilting.   She has a series of posts on the courage to feel creative that is thoughtfully written and I found very encouraging in trying to step outside my little box in fabric selection, color and fabric design combinations.  Thanks so much Audrey, for taking the time to write these blog posts and inspiring us with your creative style!  And for my blogaversary winnings!

I've been moving ahead with the basket blocks, and now have 23 completed and one more nearly done, as soon as I find the seam ripper to remove one badly mismatched piece and resew.  Here are a couple of the more recent baskets.  A few more (so I have plenty to choose from to play nice with the setting triangle fabric), and it will be on to putting this top together.  Looking forward to seeing all of them laid out on the design floor.

Are you ready for August?  Definitely not at this end!  Happily, we still have at least one more month of summer before the threat of frost hits and we begin covering the tender garden plants at night. Will the main crop of tomatoes ripen before then?  It's beginning to look doubtful, but at least right now we're enjoying green beans and a bumper crop of summer squash.