Sunday, July 5, 2020

becky's quilt

I missed blogging last week (I'm trying to do it once a week), but in an effort to try to not get behind on finished quilts again...or rather continue catching up...I'm back!
This week I'm sharing Becky's quilt.

Becky is a friend from high school.  I actually met her in sixth or seventh grade.  There were about six of us girls that hung out together a lot and she was one of them.  We lost touch after high school, going different directions and all that, but with the magic of Facebook have found each other again not too long ago.

Becky was always a girly-girl.  Her shoes matched her pants matched her shirt matched the bow in her hair.  She was almost always wearing flats and I think she used more hairspray in her bangs in a day than I use in a year.  She always seemed very proper and lady-like while I was over there playing in the mud with the boys.

And she loves pink.

When we reconnected, she was sharing her adventures learning how to make and perfecting the technique to make macaron cookies.  The fancy, filled, French kind.

And then she got a pink Kitchen Aid mixer.

And THEN one day I was perusing Pinterest and saw the French Macaron Quilt pattern and it began.

I was actually longarming something else (probably one of the charity quilts) when I saw the photo and immediately thought of her.  But I tried to push it out of my brain.  I usually don't make quilts for people on a whim and we hadn't reconnected that long ago and would it be weird?

The longarming must have been fairly routine because I kept thinking about it.  And then the Lori Holt kitty (Becky has two kitties) and stand mixer quilt blocks popped into my head and it was OVER.  A naughty word may have escaped my lips when I realized how OVER it was.

This quilt was going to happen.

So I shopped my stash...

...and discovered I had enough fabrics to pair to make the cookie and fillings in many "flavors."  I made sure to include brown, as the chocolate cookies in the photo were what really made it for me.

But I wanted to work on the cats and stand mixer blocks first.  If I was going to stall out on something too hard (hahahahahahahahaha!), this would be it.  I dug out my patterns and modified the kitties slightly so the ears would be pointy and not tipped.  While the pattern is cute with the tipped ears, I also know that is an indication (in my area, at least - one ear) that the kitty is feral, but has been spayed or neutered.  I didn't want to imply THAT of her spoiled housecats!  Also, one of the kitties is a "tuxedo" variety, so she needed white toes and chin.

I asked Gabby and Finn to help me choose colors, as her kitties are the same (or close) colors, but they were having NONE of that.  So I winged it.

That's a lot of pieces!

And with a little surgery to move those toes to a better location, Samantha and Isabella are looking quite nice.  (Though that white chin piece does make the kitty look a little like a priest...)

Then it was on to a PINK mixer because we can't mess that up!

I discovered I didn't have any bubble gum pink in a large enough quantity to make the whole mixer, but this coral pink will do just fine.  It's still pink, after all.

But again, a LOT of pieces!

The pattern has two stems of beaters going from the mixer into the bowl, but I decided to leave them out.  This can be a waiting mixer, not an in-use mixer, okay?  I also left the handle off the top - more because it needed to fit into the quilt than anything else.

With that done, I could dig into the cookies.  That was a lot of cutting and keeping pieces straight, but I made it.

They took much longer than they should have, but I kinda hit a mental roadblock in losing all those corners.  It was a tedious task for 47 cookies, but I got it done eventually.

And then I used my design floor to try to get the stacks of cookies randomly assorted.

It looks very tall and skinny here, but with some sashings to make it all fit, it will be better, I promise!  (It is still a little on the tall and skinny side, but this makes it look much worse.)

See?  Not so bad.

I pressed the cookie lost corners carefully to make sure I could nest seams.  And while it wasn't critical the cookies stack perfectly, Becky is a perfectionist and I know if she knows better, she will notice the mismatches, so I was careful.

Then it was on to the quilting stage.  I debated a lot of ideas, but ended up deciding to just do a ribbon meander (basically an overall large stipple/meander that you go back over and follow along and weave in an out of and it looks like a twirling, twisting ribbon) and be okay with it.

It was more poofy than many of my other quilts that get more quilting, but since she has never seen ANY of my quilts, she'll never know.  And it's not like it's going to fall apart or anything - there is plenty of quilting in there.

Next up was the challenge of binding.  So far, other than the back (which you can see there on the takeup roller a little bit), this whole quilt was done from my stash.  I should be able to find a binding, right?

Oh, wait!  Willow's quilt had some leftovers...oh!  Pink!  Perfect!

And then it was done!

I intended this to be a birthday present, but then found out (thanks Facebook) that her birthday was mid-May, not mid-June.  So I missed it, but that's okay.  Until I contacted her for her address, she knew nothing of it, so it wasn't like she knew I missed it!

It took a bit to get a label made and attached, but then it was time to mail it out.

I boxed it up and set it on the table along with another package and went to bed.  The following morning, I trekked downstairs, laundry hamper in tow, and stepped on it.  Finn had knocked the box off the table and pushed it about 10 feet across the room to the base of the stairs, where I found it with my feet.  I nearly fell, but caught myself and was glad there was nothing breakable inside.  So I got another box and repackaged it and made it to the post office early enough for the pickup that morning!

The post office, being smart this way, estimated the delivery for Monday (I dropped it off on Friday).  So when the box arrived Saturday, we were all surprised!  And Becky sent me this...

She said she took it out of the box and was trying to get a good photo and the girls did this immediately.

Looks a lot like my house!

So I told her it had already been rigorously tested in that manner here and not to worry.  (I also sent a note telling her it was okay - and expected - that she use the quilt.)

And sent her this photo...

...where Gabby was PRETENDING to sleep and really waiting to put 43 new holes in my hand as I tried to sew down binding.

I was going to add a photo of the quilt back, but I think this one does quite well now that I look at it!  Baking stuff, of course!

She loved it and was surprised completely.

And I'm glad I didn't talk myself out of making it.  I often do that.  This time I just told myself I needed to do it and stop worrying.  If she thought it was weird, then maybe we just didn't need to be that kind of friends.

In other quilty news - there isn't much - I've been plugging away at the bear's paw quarters.  The cutting is labor-intensive and digging through my stash, making decisions about what makes the cut and what does not isn't much fun.

But I managed to get 5 days off in a row (I requested the 4th to celebrate with family and the others were just luck) and knew it was time to do something.

So I cut and sewed yellows...

...and then oranges...

...and finally today, the reds.

Now if you remember, I need 100 of these quarters to make 25 blocks for a 5x5 layout to result in a 77x77" quilt.  But to make this easy, I made 15 of each color (splitting "blue" into blue and turquoise, making 15 total), so I would have 5 extra blocks.  That's okay because it will give me a little more wiggle room with layout.  And the extras will go on the back or something.

And this afternoon I did just that - vacuumed the design floor before the hubby went up to take a nap, and while he was sleeping, fussed with 100 blocks and color placement.

Gabby helped, but I got no photos of that.  I was trying to get her to STOP MOVING THE BLOCKS!

This looked fairly random and so I labelled the rows and picked them up quickly before the boys joined in the fun.

These will get sashed to make the four-patch bear's paw block and then sashed again between the blocks.  I have a plan how to do this without having to lay everything out on the floor again, but we will see how that goes.  Worst case, I have this photo to refer back to.

I'm very happy with it.  Some of the lights weren't as light as I anticipated, but I forged ahead and convinced myself this would be okay in the end - it is scrappy.  And I think it IS going to be okay.

I have some yardage of a white with tiny bright asterisk-stars in it, purchased for another project, but I changed my mind, so this whole quilt MAY end up being entirely from the stash.  (Until I need a back, but I rarely buy yardage without a plan, so I rarely have yardage just hanging around to make backs.  But there is always the sale room at the local quilt shop!)

And now I am excited about this quilt again.  It took a lot of work to get to this point - scrap quilts are like that, you know - but I am loving it.  Part of me wants to go sew it all together tonight, but I also know messing up my sleep schedule like that will cost me later, so I'd better just take my time.

So that is all the quilty news for now.  I still have one more finished quilt to share, but that, of course, will get a post all to itself.  Hopefully in about a week.

Happy quilting!

Monday, June 22, 2020

willow's quilt

Early this year (or maybe it was late last year?), I found out that one of my hubby's cousins was going to be a grandpa.  His daughter, a miracle baby, was pregnant.  Of course this little one needs a quilt, right?  Mom has two from me (one worn to shreds, another waiting for the next generation because, though it was a replacement for the first one, just was NOT the same thing!), but I'm up for any excuse.

Mom is a girly girl.  Mostly.  So I wanted something girly and princessey.  When I came across the pattern "The Royal Ground" from Stacy Iest Hsu, it was settled and I ordered a kit immediately.

It came in a box, so of course you know the cats claimed it right away.  (And Finn looks so tiny here!  But that was 4 months ago or so...he just keeps growing!)

I pulled the fabrics out - including a panel that will make some little dolls - and petted it a few minutes before starting to cut pieces out.

I quickly figured out which was my favorite...

...and tried not to use any more of it than I had to.  I want a little for my stash!

I modified the original pattern some to make it a little smaller.  It was rather long and skinny and a baby quilt doesn't need to be that large.  So I took out a few rows and skinnied up some borders, which did leave me with a bit more of this fabric that I would have had otherwise.

There were still a lot of pieces to cut!

My angler came into play when losing a LOT of corners... make a couple rows of tulips.  With a LOT of pieces in them!

(I think I counted just shy of 300 pieces in there!)

Midway into February, according to blog posts, I had the quilt semi-complete...

Once the pieces started getting larger, the assembly started going quickly.  Of course, I had help.

And then I had a top!

Next up were the little dolls.  I was wary of making them, but had committed to the cost of the whole kit because I wanted that panel and those dolls.

Cutting those pieces by hand took forever and I was ready to be done at that point.  But I allowed myself time between steps so I wouldn't get frustrated and give up entirely.  Sometimes those breaks lasted longer than they should have, but it worked out in the end.

Sewing around little curves and skinny legs proved tricky, but I powered through.  Stuffing those skinny arms and legs also proved difficult, but I was determined!

They look a little funky, but hey!  This is my first time doing this.  They also need skirts, but the instructions were not written in a way that I understood easily.  We all process things differently and this set of instructions was obviously written by someone who processes very differently from me.  So I took another step back and let it simmer a while before trying again.  And when I had the time and patience, I started again.  I winged some of it, but in all, they turned out quite cute!

There were also pieces to make a bunny and a unicorn.  So I set out to make those, too.  With these dolls and skirts under my belt, this next set shouldn't be too hard, right?

A few more skinny bits to stuff and tight curves to sew, but there they are.  In front of the cat scratcher "cottage" that is just about their size!

Time to get back to the quilt, right?  It needs to be quilted.  The baby shower got moved, thanks to stay-at-home orders in our state being extended and extended and extended, so I got an extra month, but knowing I wanted it done before baby was due kept me moving along.

Onto the longarm!

I knew there were a lot of opportunities for some fun stuff in this quilt - bricks and pebbles in the castle, clouds in the I took a few deep breaths and dug in.

The tulips got some custom dot-to-dot style loops.

And the hearts along the side got echos inside and bouncy echo hearts outside.

You can also see a bit of the clouds and such on the right edge - surrounding the castle.

And then, putting on my big girl panties, I dug into pebbles in the castle itself.  The lighter pink walls got bricks, the darker got pebbles.

They're not all great, but I knew that a chunk of this would be covered by the pocket, so it will be okay.  Also?  It will just be okay.

I knew I needed to put the pocket on, but that was scary.  So let's see the whole quilt without it, just in case I screw it up, okay?

You'll notice I even have the binding done here.  That was how freaked out I was about that pocket.  The instructions had me just take a pieced heart block, turn the edges under, and sew it on.  Raw edges on all but the open side.  That was NOT going to do it for me.  So I modified it and took another few deep breaths, and sewed it on.

And then I stuffed the dolls in there to show it off entirely.

No photos of the back - sorry!  I used chunks of fabric left from the front and pieced together a back.  I still have some left, but not nearly as much.  And I'm happy about that.

I missed the actual baby shower.  When they moved it, I was still wary.  Again, the stay-at-home order had been extended and ended just a day or two before the shower.  And I hesitated to ask for another day off for the shower (I had already asked for the original date off and gotten it) to have it not happen.  But, as it turns out, they decided to ask folks to drive by and drop off gifts in the driveway and Emily would open them via Facebook live a few hours later.  So while I didn't attend the shower, I got to see her (and the daddy) open the quilt.  And funny enough, the BOY figured out the pocket was for the dolls!  (He's gonna be a good girl dad!)

I'm not sure exactly what her due date was, but we saw her weekend before last and she was READY.  Not complaining or anything, but just ready to meet her little one.  And Friday, the baby's heart rate dropped and she went in for an emergency c-section.  She was full-term, so it wasn't a bad choice, just a scary one.

Mom and baby did well and actually got released from the hospital earlier than anticipated because they were doing so well!  (Also, probably the hospital figured they'd be safer at home!)

Wanna meet Willow?

She's just a few days old here.  And yes, that is mom and dad.  Yes, they are young.  No, this wasn't planned.  But look at how happy Emily looks!  And dad?  Well, he looks pretty pleased, too.  They've got support from family and beyond.  This is going to be one spoiled, well-loved little one, without a doubt.

In other quilty news, both the Sasquatch quilt and the macaroon quilt went to their permanent homes in the past few days.  I will be posting more about those soon.

And this past Wednesday, I sewed with a friend.  As restrictions are easing, it feels a little more like normal and a little less scary to go out.  Of course, precautions are still a good idea, but it was fun to sew with a friend.

I took my Christmas blocks and fabric for sashing and cornerstones.  And took advantage of her beautiful, huge, new deck to determine a layout.

We sewed and chatted and chatted and sewed.  Her hubby came home from work a little before I planned to leave, but he had his own chores to attend to, so I was able to get a top together before I left.

Well, a top without borders...

Puppy Hazel got in on the action for the photos.  She's a goldendoodle and just a sweetheart of a dog.  But boy does she have a lot of energy!  And while my cats have energy, they are not this large, so it doesn't seem like as much.  When they couch-surf, the whole couch doesn't move!

When I got home, I decided to shop my stash for border fabrics before heading to my local quilt shop.  While I don't mind buying something I need, I do have a fair amount of fabric already and I would like to try to lessen that.  At least this week.  Next week might be a different story.

I decided on the darker green, as it has been used in the quilt elsewhere.  And the red dot for borders looks a little washed out when you get a little distance away from it, but I have plenty and it makes me happy when I see it up closer, so it will get used.

And lastly, I got goodies for my participation in the Hands 2 Help charity quilt drive this year!

It is hard to see, but that Christmas fabric has kitties and puppies on it!  There are four coordinating fat quarters.  And that little sewing machine charm is so cute.  Such a great little treat to say thanks, though I would have done it anyways.

I finally feel like I am making progress on sharing quilts.  I have two more done (Sasquatch and Macaroons), but have not quilted anything in a few weeks.  Bird Seeds is still calling to me, but I am resisting going shopping for batting.  People are acting like jerks a lot lately.  And I don't mean the protests and riots.  I mean the people coming into my place of work and being angry at me for having to wear a mask.  Or that we are out of tomato cages.  Or that they had to wait in line to check out.  For the last three months, almost every single person has been kind.  I heard a lot of crazy conspiracy theories about the virus at the start, but everyone was willing to wait in line.  They were understanding when we were out of things.  They didn't try to Mask Shame anyone.  I don't know what has changed, but it is disgusting to see the absolute change in people.  I know there are angry people out there, but rarely did I see them at work.  Now I see them all the time.  They demand to speak to a manager.  (The manager gives them the same answer I did.)  They ask me why that guy isn't wearing a mask.  (Because I am not the Mask Police - but I know better than to say that out loud.)  They stomp out angry because the two people working that shift aren't enough to help them RIGHT NOW with what they want.  (They're sure there are 73 other employees in the back room having a big party or something - probably without masks and using the tomato cages as props for a game of farm store croquet...hmmm...maybe I've hit upon a good breaktime stress reliever?!  Now if we could just get some tomato cages...)

So anyways. With all the angry people out there, thinking only of themselves, I'll just wait a little longer to get some batting.  I hear stores are fairly picked over anyways.  I can wait.  I'll just sew more tops.  And maybe purchase another Rack of Shame.  I'd bet those aren't hot items right now and can be picked up at the store where I buy my groceries - somewhere I have to go anyways.

Happy quilting!

Monday, June 15, 2020

hands 2 help - february bonus quilt

This is it, folks.  The last Hands 2 Help quilt for 2020.

That's not to say I won't be making more for 2021, but here's to hoping if I take on such a large number, I can actually keep up on them and not have 34000 to blog about at the end.  (Okay, I might be exaggerating some.)

This quilt was a second project in February.  The first one, the one that used 600 squares of fabric I had foolishly cut up for no good reason believing others that having my scraps precut was a good idea.

It was not.

(Sidenote: if you wanna cross out words in the new blogger format, click on the little "<>" symbol up there by the floppy disk/save button.  It will take you to HTML mode and you can get your code monkey on.  Before the text you want crossed out, type "<del>" (no quotes) and after the words use "</del>" and then click the little "<>" symbol again and you will have beautifully crossed out words.  You're welcome that now you do not have to google that.)

(Oh.  Apparently, you can also click on the vertical elipses at the end of the row of options to do stuff to your post and it is in there to cross out words.  Sheesh.  I mean, who the heck cares about the color of your font?  I need to cross out words!  Make that a more important option please!)

Moving on.  Because I have been cranky for like 6 days, I am going to move on and leave this be.

Anyways, I had this small bundle of fat quarters.  It may predate my marriage.  It has been here a while and I was like "what should I do with THAT?" for a long time.

Oh, the fabric.

Looks pretty right?  But the grey and that pukey yellow in the middle were really throwing me off.  And it wasn't enough to do whatever with.  So I just ignored it and let my excuses be enough.

But then one day I saw a pattern for a giant star quilt and thought it would be a great plan.  And I had JUST the right amount of fabric!

Or so I thought...some of these were a little skimpy on the 18" a fat quarter is supposed to be.  The other dimension could have been off as well, but since I needed an 18" square,  I didn't bother with that.

Also, fun markings were found on some pieces!

They are not as obvious in the photos as in real life, but believe me, they were there and they were NOT coming out.  The pink I could cut around.  The orange/yellow required some creative piecing.

Anyways, I ended up sewing and trimming the half square triangles to a uniform size.  No easy feat when your squares are about 17.5" and your cutting mat is only 18" wide.  But I got it done.  And with pieces this large, wiggle room is abundant.

A layout was eventually determined...

...and a top was constructed.

It went quite quickly.

Oh look, snow.  Man, we would have taken a bit of that last week.  Also power.  (We had 90+ degree days and then a crazy storm that ran through here in about two minutes bringing sideways rain at hurricane speeds (we are NOWHERE near a coast that could bring us a hurricane), followed by hail and then gentle rain followed by sunshine and cool breezes and 60-ish highs for a few days.  In the first seconds of the storm, our power went out.  And the wind was so fierce and the rain so pounding, I did not even hear the generator, right below the bedroom window where I was when it all hit, kick on.  Imagine standing 10 feet from a lawnmower and NOT HEARING it start up.  Yeah.  Nuts.)

Anyways, this went to the Rack of Shame for a bit.  I made the binding from remaining black, but at the time it hit the rack, nothing was getting quilted.  I was saving them all for a mad dash, obviously.

And then it got passed over a few times because I just couldn't figure out how to quilt it.  I would have liked to do some straight lines echoing the star points in the black, but it was a touch too wide for the longarm to do successfully with the ruler base on (that shortens my opening a few inches on either side) and I was just stumped.  But finally, I just put it on there and quilted it with swirl hooks.

At least I think that is what I did.

Let's see the finished photo - that will show more detail.

Yeah, I think that's it.

This was the last quilt to be done for Hands 2 Help 2020.  I hand-sewed down the binding while sitting on the porch a few weekends ago, during my front porch quilt show.  The black on black wasn't super easy to see, but I figure that means neither are my stitches!

The back?

This fun bubble print I found in the sale room at my local quilt shop.  Perfect to hide all my oopsies and whatnot.

And Friday, I packed up all 17 quilts, after each got a short stint in the dryer to remove cat hair and creases, and dropped them off to the Suitcase Angels group that will have them for foster kids.  Their grand re-opening (they were donated a building for forever recently and just finished all the repairs and renovations on it a few weeks ago) is tomorrow and I'm excited these will be there to help kick things off.

I can't believe they all fit in just those two boxes!  They're not exactly small boxes, but wow!

And I had plenty of help with that task.  Finn thinks the dryer is an alien spaceship of warmth and wants to get in it every time it is open.  And he goes boneless when you try to get him out.  So extra fun.  Also, he and Freddie inspected the boxes periodically to make sure the quilts were smooshed in properly.  I kept pulling them back out, but dang!  Silly beasties.

So I mentioned my power went out.  This will make you all giggle, I'm sure.  Here is the outage map for where I live.

That purple diamond represents a power outage.  Mine.  It's about a mile or so across.  That blue dot?  My house.  Smack dab in the middle.


Though the "legend" on the map did not indicate it, that yellow area was also out of power.  I thought maybe they were just outlining areas for s***s and giggles, but a coworker who lives about where that "+/-" box is assured me he also had no power.  For like days.  Ours was out about 18 hours, but with the generator running the pump, fridge and a couple of outlets (sadly not the air conditioner, but since it dropped literally 20 degrees in 15 minutes before and during the storm, it was comfortable and then there were the cool, non-humid breezes following), I only had to complain about the generator noise.  Which, in the grand scheme of things, is not really worth complaint.

The funniest part?  I had JUST gotten home from dropping off baked goodies to a friend (she needed them), made it upstairs to change into sweatpants - literally straight from the car to the bedroom - and the storm hit.  Which explains why I was in the bedroom, but also shows how lucky I was to not only have finished the baking, but to have missed being out in the storm.  My barn cats came up with cobwebs on their whiskers at dinnertime.  They must have been hiding somewhere they hadn't been in a long time, but they are just fine.  Hungry as always.

And one more fun story.  And a few cat photos!

Every year, we have a cookout at my in-laws for Father's Day.  The kids all come and it is hot, so we bring squirt guns.  A few years ago, there was a kiddie pool also.  That worked VERY well to allow the kids to refill their own squirt guns so the adults the shade.  These pools are often abused the remainder of the year and a new one needs to be purchased.  This year, we had some at work, so I figured I would pick one up - my turn, I guess.

And a coworker teased me about it being a "kitty" pool (since the words sound very much alike) and informed me that cats do not like baths or swimming.  (How does he know?  He doesn't even like cats, vile creature that he is.)

But I put the pool down when I got inside the house and Finn flopped in it.  In fact, I picked it up from the entry and carried it *with Finn inside* into the living room.

You may notice he has a toy.  That was added 10 minutes later, once I had put away all the other things I dragged home that day.  He was still in there.

Then Freddie got curious.

He wasn't so sure about having his photo taken, so he tried to evade me.  Also, the photo is grainy because it was getting dark.

And then, a short while later, as I was sitting across the room reading, Gabby hopped in.

My first attempt to get closer and get a photo resulted in her running away.  So this one is SUPER grainy because I zoomed way in to keep her from detecting my trickery.  (And, as I stated in my last post, she will photo bomb anything, but does not want it to be MY choice that she is in a photo.)

My coworker got a good laugh out of this.  Maybe I am starting to convince him cats are not as awful as he thought?  (He also chuckled pretty good about a video I took of the Christmas tree being used as a cat pounce blind - after they had knocked it over and dragged into the middle of the room, of course - it is a small tree and we don't plug it in or decorate it for just this reason, so all is well.  But my mom can no longer complain that we "don't put up a tree"...)

Oh, one last thing.  I made some green things today:

I have a lot of colors of green, so these are quite varied.  But that's okay.  It's a scrap quilt.

Oh.  One more last thing.

I've heard a few folks make snide remarks about fabrics that are not from quilt shops being of inferior quality and how they shrink wonky when you wash them.


This came from a quilt shop.  It is "quilt shop quality" brand name fabric.

I washed it, pressed it and refolded it.

See how uneven that edge is?  (The white.)  I lost about an inch.  The other side is also wonky.  And this was cut straight - using a rotary cutter, straight off the bolt.

Now I'm not saying some stuff from non-quilt shops can't be bad.  But I'm asking that the shaming for purchasing elsewhere based on how it shrinks stop.  (Actually, I'd like us all to live in fabric harmony and not worry about where someone else buys their fabric.  I've seen some pretty flimsy stuff at actual quilt shops and some very nice stuff at Wal-Mart.)

And with that, I'm off to find something to eat for dinner and work up a good excuse for the hubby about why I did not clean the house today while he went fishing.

Happy quilting!