Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dutch Rose Baby Quilt

I've got a finish, fresh off the machine today.  We're having round three of winter here this weekend, so it's been a good time to hole up in the sewing room and let this storm snow, hail, rain, sleet, and blow itself out.  As I write this, I hear the neighborhood starting to hum with the sound of snowblowers, so the wintry weather may be winding down as well.

My friend Kathy is going to be a grandma again soon and commissioned me to make another baby quilt.  This baby's going to be a girl.  Kathy sent me a picture of the baby's room for inspiration—pink walls, white or maybe off-white drapes, wall accents and crib, gray carpeting, and an interesting, almost vintage-looking area rug with what looked like a raspberry-colored winding floral motif.

That was enough to go on.  The cogs started turning.  I pulled some fabrics and got to work.

I decided to make a Dutch Rose block, but super-size it.  I used the tutorial HERE.  This looks a lot like the popular Swoon block from a few years ago, with some slight differences in construction.
I figured I'd double the size of it.  How hard could that be?  Just double the cutting dimensions and that should be that, right?  Wrong!
Which I found out after having sewn about half of the pieces, and they weren't matching up when I went to join them together.  It took a few minutes of stewing about it until it dawned on me that by doubling the cutting dimensions, I had also doubled the seam allowance.  Doh!

So the next day, I started un-sewing and trimming all the pieces down by 1/4 inch on all sides.  Everything went together smoothly from there to complete the big block and the rest of the quilt top.  It ended up about 45 x 45 inches square.
I had some bonus HST units left over and played around with those, incorporating them into the quilt back.
Check out the neutral gray fabric on the back.  How sweet is that!
I also used some more of those bonus pieces and scraps to make a mug rug for Grandma Kathy, something I've been doing the past few times I've made baby quilts for her.  

That way she gets to keep a special memento for herself after she gives the quilt away.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Framed Memory Quilt Block

This is the story of a fairly quick and easy project.  Do you like that word, "fairly"?  Qualifiers aside, it really was pretty simple.

I wanted to make something with Dad's ties, some kind of memory piece.  The thing is, Dad used to have more ties before he retired.  That was over 30 years ago, so at the time he passed away, he was down to only three ties in regular rotation.  With the dress code for church and weddings and funerals being more relaxed these days, he didn't need any more than that.

And he was a clip-on tie kind of guy.  Always.  He was all about simple solutions.

First I hand-washed the ties in Woolite, and when they were dry, took them apart.  Turns out once you cut the knot off, there's not a whole lot of fabric in a clip-on tie when it comes down to it.  Therefore my project, whatever it was, would need to be small because of the limited resources (and variety) of three clip-on ties.

Ties are cut on the bias, so I fused a lightweight interfacing onto the backs of the pieces to stabilize them.

This block, which I saw on Pinterest, was my inspiration.  Unfortunately, the link did not lead to any information on the maker.  If anyone recognizes it, please let me know so I can give credit.  

My thought was to feature the tie fabric in the center star.  I have three siblings, so I could use a different tie for each block, along with some of Dad's shirt scraps left from the memory quilt.  And then I'd frame each block and give one to each of my two brothers and sister as a memento.

I was thinking of a shadow box style frame without glass, but that wasn't easy to find.  Something square, not rectangular, larger than 6 inches but smaller than 10, that didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Then one day while shopping at Dollar Tree, I saw these square signs.  Thought I might pop out the glass and be able to use the frame for my project.  The price was right, a buck, so I bought one to experiment with.  Well, it turned out the glass was glued in with some kind of super-tough epoxy that my razor blade could not budge! 

Plan B:  Leave the glass in place and try scraping off the lettering with the razor blade.  Bingo!  A couple minutes later, the lettering was gone and I had a 7.5-inch square frame for my block.

The next step was to make the block.  Figured the easiest way to do it was draw up a paper piecing pattern.  

The block consists of four identical sections joined around a 2.5-inch center square.  There's a partial seam involved in sewing the block together, but that's not difficult.  The hardest thing for me was remembering how to paper piece!  I did have to un-sew a few seams on the first attempt, but then I got the hang of it.

(I would be happy to share the paper piecing pattern, crudely hand-drawn as it is, but I don't know how to insert a PDF download link.  If I figure that out, I may come back and edit this post.)

To insert the block into the frame, I bought a piece of black foam core board at the dollar store and cut it to about 7-3/8 inches square. 

Used a few dabs of washable glue stick to help center the block on the board, and then gently pushed it into the frame.  It fit just right, not too loose or too tight.  I could seal it in place with a bead of hot glue, but for now I'm okay with leaving it as is.  It seems stable enough.  And I like the option of being able to remove it easily, if you want, from the frame.

Finished blocks.

I ended up making four, so I can keep one.  I used the one of the ties twice, but a different part of it, so the center stars don't look the same from one to another.  

That's how it all came together.  Fairly simple, right? 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Sundry 3-25-18

A few weeks ago, I sat here and composed a long, sort of catch-up post.  Spent a couple hours on it (I am not a fast blogger, especially with so much time having passed since the last entry).  Saved it to edit a bit more later, and went to lunch.  When I came back to it, I went to make one small change and just like that—poof—it was gone!  The "undo" button was of no use; the entire post had vanished.

Fate or fumble fingers?  Perhaps both.  Frustrating?  To say the least.  I was not about to repeat the effort in that moment, so just walked away.

Anyway, hello again.  I'm still here, doing the day-to-day, and hope you are too.

(My first wall hanging, made for Dad in 1993)
I spent a lot of time in January going through my dad's stuff.  He was kind of pack rat, but in the best way.  That is, if he kept something, it had meaning to him, nostalgic, sentimental or historical value.  Of course, in the end, it's all just "stuff," but in sifting through it and dividing it among my siblings, I wondered and mused, marveled and giggled (and even Googled).  It has been an interesting, cathartic, and healing process.

My sewing space was strewn with paperwork, photos, memorabilia, and other non-fabric related whatnots for a couple months.  I spent a lot of time there in the basement, not sewing.  But I got a lot done, things organized and dealt with, funeral thank-yous and other notes written, etc. 

And then there was the radon.

January was "Radon Awareness Month," per various plugs I'd seen online and in the media.  On a whim one day, I followed a link to order a test kit, and a week or so later had completed it and sent it in for analysis.  A couple days later, an email arrived with the results.  And I freaked out.

My sewing room, my Happy Place where I've spent countless hours in the past 20 years, measured four times the actionable level of radon.

Fast forward 10 days, and a mitigation truck was in the driveway.  A system (pipe and fan) was installed to vent the gas from where it collects under the concrete slab/basement floor to outside and above the roof line, where it is discharged into the general atmosphere.  Followup testing last week showed the level is now down to nearly zero.  Happy Place restored.

So there was that.

Meanwhile, I brought a sewing machine upstairs to the kitchen table and made a memory quilt out of Dad's old shirts and one pair of pajamas.  

I went back to using the living room floor as my design wall.

I needed to keep my mind focused on something productive, other than fretting about the stuff I couldn't see or taste or smell, much less control.  (You know, if radon smelled like manure or rotten eggs, I bet we'd all be dealing with it pronto.)

Soon, there was this.

I am going to send it out for quilting, although I haven't determined where yet.  My local long arm quilter has moved away to live with her elderly mother.  She did give me the names of a couple other local quilters, but I haven't contacted them yet.

Some of those shirts were a bit finicky to work with.  I ended up fusing interfacing to the backs of the thinner ones.  A couple others want to fray if you just look at them sideways.  I zigzagged the edges in the most troublesome areas.  But the sooner it's quilted, I think, the better.

I did another little memory project that I'll tell you about in another post. Hint:  It involves the three ties pictured on the table above.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


It has been a difficult few weeks.
My dear father passed away on December 11. 

He wanted so much to get back on his feet after he fractured his ankle last January, but one thing and another delayed his healing.

In November, he developed breathing issues and spent the month in two different hospitals.  Sadly, he was unable to recover.
Dad enjoyed reading my blog.  He'd often call me in response to a post and we'd have a laugh or talk more about it.  He loved seeing my quilts and other projects and was always complimentary. 

I tried to give him a quilt many times or offered to make one with his tastes in mind, but he always politely declined.  He was content with a simple bedspread on his bed.  When he dozed in his chair, he covered up with a bright green wool afghan my mother had knitted in the 1970s.  He was sentimental that way.  In fact, the only time he ever used one of my quilts was this past September when he asked to "borrow" one while his afghan was at the dry cleaners.  It makes me smile thinking about that.
There is so much more I could say about my dad, and perhaps I will another time.  He was a wonderful father and will be dearly missed.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sunday Sundry 11-26-17

I finished this little table topper today.  The hand appliqued basket on blue background square was a pretty surprise sent to me by Audrey of Quilty Folk along with a giveaway I'd won several months ago.  She does such lovely work!  Thanks again, Audrey!
My addition to the piece was a scrappy gold piano key border on two sides. Sometimes you roll with what's in the scrap pile on the cutting table and hope it works.  I think it did!
To be honest, I felt a little guilty machine quilting the basket block.  But hand quilting is not my forte, and I wanted to finish this up and get to using it (on my bedside table), so I went with my instincts.
 * * * * *
November has been quite a month.  My dad has not been feeling well, and we've made three visits to the ER in the past four weeks, resulting in two extended hospitalizations.  
(November sunrise over the neighborhood)
As far as the doctors have determined, he developed pneumonia, triggered by an allergic reaction to one of the strong antibiotics he had been receiving for several weeks to treat a bone infection (in the ankle he fractured way back in January; it's been a long, drawn out healing process for that orthopedic injury).  
(Stone bridge over duck pond in the park)
So it's been up and down, to say the least.  The good news coming out of the ordeal is that his ankle seems to be finally healed.  Now to address the other issues that have arisen as a result of the pneumonia, with the goal of his further recovery and regaining of strength.
* * * * *
Somewhere in there, I finished the baby quilt for my niece's new baby boy.  

(Maverick's baby quilt)
(Baby quilt back)
I look forward to meeting the little guy for the first time on Sunday and giving him and his family this quilt!
* * * * * 
I also finished a quilt for the animal surgery.  This is yet another kennel quilt made from repurposed scrubs.

(Kennel quilt from repurposed scrubs)
I got to use up a lot of the Halloween themed scrubs that were in the pile.  The sweet Rottweiler I saw cuddled in it post-surgery (and after Halloween) didn't seem to mind all those witches!
* * * * *
We stopped at Goodwill for the first time in a few months, and lo and behold there was a vintage paint-by-number!  
They seem to be more elusive and harder to find these days, but it happened to be our lucky day.
Not your typical framed PBN painting, though.  It was painted on a large metal tray.  The first metal item in my collection.

And signed!  "Sis", whoever she was, did a great job!


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