Wednesday, September 26, 2018

One Monthly Goal = A Finished (Ancient) UFO

At the beginning of September, it dawned on me that I was just 7 weeks from the end of my 40 year quilting making teaching career.  That meant I could clear out teaching packets and disperse leftovers and make a bit more space in my studio!

This stack of partially pieced bowtie blocks was at the bottom of a drawer and as you might be able to tell from the fabrics, goes back into the late 1980's.  Not sure why I haven't come across them before this as most of the demo samples from that era have long since been finished or repurposed.
So this was my "one monthly goal" for September as part of the Elm Street Quilts monthly challenge.
I quickly determined it would be a perfect boy's quilt for my charity stitching group's annual Christmas gifting project -- we never have enough boy quilts!  Once I had finished piecing the remaining blocks (they were my leaders and enders for a week of working on other - more interesting - projects), I organized a layout sketch.  Some stash diving produced this great print for alternate blocks.  There wasn't quite enough for my plan, but that just made the quilt better -- check out the plain squares of green and rust that filled out the plan.
Since the design wall was covered in other projects, I worked directly from the sketch to join pairs together -- what do you think of those impromptu guides (aka, scraps) to keep me on target?
As I stitched block pairs together, I spread them out on the floor adjacent to my machine.  A couple afternoons of stitching had the top all together and ready to layer and quilt.
I kept the quilting simple -- partly so I'd get finished and partly because it's a simple quilt.  There is a grid that follows all the horizontal and vertical seams and cuts the plain squares into fourths.  Once that was finished, I decided to add a diagonal grid through all the plain squares, too.
By this past weekend, I was ready to trim it up and today, I bound it during our bi-monthly charity sewing afternoon.
One of the other gals held it up for me and I'm pleased with it on several levels.
First, it is no longer an "ancient UFO" and second, it's going to be perfect for a little boy!
Keeping it simple and moving through it quickly was a good strategy instead of adding it to the UFO stack to be revisited who knows how many times before I actually used the blocks (or threw them away).
I've been outside a lot the past couple weeks with the change of seasons -- I'm always afraid I'll miss something!!  Like these mushrooms!  
There was a huge patch of these in the woods I frequent a couple years ago and ever since I've been hoping to see a repeat performance -- finally, I spotted the beginning bulb of one along the trail a couple days ago!
And when I glanced across the floor of the woods, there were several dozen more!
That large one in the center is huge -- 7" across and 8" tall.
Amazing!
And while I would advise eating it, judging from that missing lump along the right edge, someone thinks it's tasty!
I also found this fella in my garden a week ago -- a black swallowtail caterpillar!
I never saw that butterfly in my yard (I would have been excited about that) but here is a caterpillar -- on the fennel.  He's now happily ensconced in a bouquet of fennel and carrot greens fattening up for a winter in a chrysalis that I'll keep outside in a safe spot for it to emerge in the spring.
Totally exciting!!
 I hope your first weekend of autumn or spring is a pleasant one -- I'm heading off for a few days of grand kid bonding!!

Mary

Linking up this week with Let's Be Social and One Monthly Goal -- click on the badges up there along the right side of the blog to see more fun stuff!!










Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September is Flying

I guess as we get busier and older, we say that about every month.
I'm trying to get in lots of time outdoors because I am always enchanted by the change of seasons.
This has been happening all along the southern shoreline of Lake Erie -- Monarch butterflies migrating!  Those delicate little things fly across the lake which is 57 miles across at the widest point.  We had a spell of very rainy weather and they do the sensible thing and just shut down the trip and wait out the weather -- the picture below was taken on a drizzly afternoon so the quality of the picture is not great, but look at all those butterflies!! 
Those aren't dead leaves!
A couple days later when the sun reappeared, things thinned out a bit, but they still mob up to rest in the sunshine after the lake crossing.  One fellow watching at the Ohio/Pennsylvania state line counted over 1000 of them coming off the lake in an hour this past Saturday morning.   
I found this large patch of flowers in the middle of an industrial park and it was literally covered with nectaring monarchs -- to stand in the middle of that patch and have two dozen butterflies fluttering around me was too wonderful!!
I've been sewing, too -- everyday!
Half of my daughter's Mississippi Mud is quilted and the remaining two quarter sections are layered and ready to go!  You can't even tell where I joined the two sections, can you?
It's there on the right side where the batting has a slash.
I am meander quilting it and since I hate to bury threads, I've figured out how to traverse each star when I get to it.  Would you like to see how?
This series of pictures follows the path I take -- I meander to a point. . . .
. . . . then grab my ruler and trace the edge this far . . .  
. . . . down to the opposite point where I meander off the star, do a loop or two . . . 
  . . . . and back into the same point.
I travel across to the right and up to the point where I started -- half finished and no threads to bury!! 
Once I've meandered around the outside of the star, I arrive at the third point . . . .  
. . . . crossing to the fourth point . . .  
. . . . before returning to the third point. 
I literally have only had to bury a few threads when the bobbin runs out and that's a good thing!!
This quilt has been in the works for a long time.  My daughter started it around 2003 and lost interest several times in the piecing, so I have been doing a block here and there.  Now she will be moving into her own place this winter and it will be nice to have a brand new quilt!

Mississippi Mud is a pattern I wrote 25 years ago now and was tremendously popular with my customers and students.  It's still available as a PDF in my Etsy shop HERE.

I'll leave you with one last butterfly picture -- isn't this one a beauty??
It's the fall form of the Question Mark (I didn't know there was a fall form until I read my field guide to confirm the ID).
The silvery outline of the wings looked lavender in the sunlight.  These hibernate through the winter and emerge again in the spring to breed -- amazed again!
Enjoy the changing seasons!!

Mary

Linking up with Let's Be Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts this week?