Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Look at This!?!

A BIG project is finished!!

Homage to Grandmother's Flower Garden, an original design by Katja Marek was my big focus in 2022.  I pieced my version as part of her annual sew-along.  The pattern and English paper piecing supplies are available from Paper Pieces in Paducah, KY HERE.
My version is machine-pieced using 3/4" hexagons (cut with a Marti Michell template) and my Set-In Piecing Simplified technique to chain piece -- PDF HERE.  Most participants used 1" hexagons and English paper piecing including Katja's mom who worked with 1/2" hexagons!?!
The finished quilt measures 58" square and it is destined to hang on the wall of the guest room at the head of the bed.

This is my inspiration fabric which I found in my stash -- all the "double" flower motifs contain fussy cut hexagons from it. 
 I plotted out the placement of the three colors used -- pink, blue, yellow -- so that they (almost) never touch.  You can see in the photo that it's really chopped up
but I did have enough to make the binding which I think is perfect.
I used a combination of machine and hand quilting -- I like doing that!  The machine quilting is "in the ditch" and crosses the center of each hexagon making a rhythmic pattern of equilateral triangles.  Once the center of the quilt was finished, I hand quilted (big stitch style) all the flower motifs with pearl cotton -- I like doing that, too!  Then I returned to the machine to quilt the area outside the wreath.
It was fun to sort out the fussy cutting and you'll notice there are bees in almost every flower center
For a few of the double flowers, I used the kite shape and eliminated the center hexagon just for fun.
I'm feeling pretty "chuffed" that I finished this quilt in 16 months and relieved that it's done before spring birding and gardening kicks into high gear!!  I have seen at least two other finished ones on Instagram -- HERE -- but I expect many quilters are still working on their version.
As is often the case when I finished a BIG project, my wheels have been spinning while I figure out where to focus the energy and time but with a stack of waiting quilt tops, it wasn't hard to find something to do.  I layered this little top and have it almost ready to bind!
With May on the doorstep, it will be time next week to tackled Block #5 of the Flourishes BOM after I have a little palette cleanser knitting project.
Enjoy the last weekend of April!!


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Spring - Time to Diddle Around

Spring is advancing here in Northeast Ohio -- we had lots of rain for a couple weeks and now it's warmer than usual but next week will be much cooler . . . so I don't want to do much in the garden.

And because I'm embracing the current movement to loosen up my control of nature in my yard, about all I can do right now is dig out noxious weeds and I've done what I can do of that today physically.  I watered the new strawberry plants and the bok choy seedlings and the pansies.  I've walked all around the yard (twice) to see what's coming up and who's coming out -- there are lots of small solitary bees on the native trout lilies which are at peak bloom.  (The bees were moving too fast to photograph.) 

 I've walked to the back fence three times (picking up sticks in the lawn each time) to see if the Screech Owl that lives in the big maple is out sunbathing.  She's not today but this is a (poor) picture I got of her a couple days ago (right in the center of the picture) -- looks like little bunny ears sticking out of the hole.
And I've made good progress on picking up sticks!?!
I spent forty-five minutes in my studio prepping appliques for a couple projects.  The Whirly Weeds series is at the halfway point and this week's plant is "bastard cabbage".  With a name like that, you know it has to be non-native and perhaps invasive in the southwest USA.

I figured out the arrangement of the leaves which I had prepped last evening,
chose the thread color I want to use,
and set up my machine so it's ready to go later today or tomorrow.
The remains of the prepping process -- still in a pile on the floor next to my recliner?!?
I pulled out the light table and prepped and positioned the next few pieces to be added to the fourth block of my Flourishes BOM project.  I've probably used the light table more in the past 3 months than anytime since I invested in it -- good investment!!
The designers of Flourishes are Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins -- they suggest finger pressing the seams before positioning the applique pieces and it's a great trick -- makes the needle turning so much easier!

I came across my old stash of applique pins -- 3/4" long -- another seldom used but good investment.  Much less finger poking!!
Block 4 is progressing nicely and I think I'll have it finished in a couple days!  This project is going so much better than I anticipated.  I'm keeping up, I'm enjoying the process, and I'm surprised!!
Plus I talked myself out of starting a new piecing project -- now that's an accomplishment.

So a good spasm of "diddling" (as opposed to "dithering" which accomplishes nothing)!  
Now if I could just figure out what to fix for supper?!?

Maybe I'll go pick up the pile of trimmings.
Carry on!!

Monday, April 3, 2023

Accountability? First Quarter 2023 Review

     Earlier today, I was looking for something in a recent blog post and reminded of my (energetic) post from the end of 2022 laying out a few goals for 2023.  I can't forget about them because I leave my work journal open to the page with the list on the desk by my sewing machine so I will see it every day!

Just the same, perhaps a "first quarter" progress review would be a good idea to keep me accountable and rejuvenate my focus?  So this post is written mostly for my benefit which makes reading further optional for you.

  1.  Finish six more UFO's from the leftover 2022 list.  Excellent progress here -- two are completely finished, three are finished tops (instead of piles of stuff) and another one just came off the shelf to serve it's time as a "leader/ender" project!

Leftover blocks and a hoarded fabric finally used!!

2.  Quilt the new tops I made in 2022.  Moderate progress here -- no finishes but one is just past the halfway point of quilting.   And I'm giving myself a "pat on the back" for quilting three lap-size quilt tops that I've pieced since the beginning of the year!!   (That's so not me!?!)

A blend of machine and hand quilting is in progress on my version of Homage to Grandmother's Flower Garden.  I just finished the hand quilting last evening and will now do the machine quilting around the outside edges -- an April finish for sure!!

3.  Deal with all the antique/vintage quilt tops I own.  I sold two!!  And I have a firm plan for finishing a third one including a recipient when it's done!  Six to go!!

Perhaps I should move this stack to a place where I see it more often?

4. If/when I start new projects, chose from a list of seven that I've wanted to make for a while.  Looking at this one again, what a silly girl I was to say "if/when" -- of course, I'm going to start new projects?!?  Of the four piecing and applique projects . . . . no, make that five . . . . that are actively in process at the moment -- two are from the list.  But you get it -- it's so hard to resist a shiny new idea!?!

Three of my current "works in progress" -- two from the "list of seven" and one shiny new sew-along (lower left).  I'm "storing" them flat on the portable back-up design wall (seeing them every day is so inspiring!!).

5. Rehome twelve finished quilts.  Progress on this goal is a bit shaky.  I have let go of two quilts and have a short list of quilts and recipients on my desk, but as usual my follow through is a bit light.  What's my excuse?  I'm a quilt hoarder???  I just need to let go!!

As I'm writing this, I'm reviewing my potential recipient list and realize this quilt which I finished last month will be perfect for one of them.  It's in the washing machine as we speak getting ready for it's forever home!!

As I was looking for a picture of it to share, I realized I never showed off the finished quilt after posting the tutorial on piecing the honeycomb pattern HERE so here it is!!  A vibrant border was needed to balance the yellow but when I didn't have enough of the stripe, I had to get creative and plug in those two green prints.

I kept the quilting simple because "finished is the goal" but I did get courageous and use one of my (much neglected) quilting rulers to create that border design.

That was fun for me and not too boring for you, I hope -- I just put a sticky note on my July calendar to do a quarterly review again!

Our spring has achieved a normal pace thanks to see-saw temperatures, high winds, and lots of rain.  I prefer a slow bloom season myself.  Here's my best hellebore surrounded by deer fence (it's growing under a witch hazel bush that the deer covet) with a carpet of last year's leaves (hopefully harboring overwintering caterpillars and bumblebee queens) and flanked by stalks of Joe-pye weed from last year (hopefully to be the home of this summer's stem-nesting bees and wasps).

Back to the stitching!!