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Fancy Flowers

Modern Flowers Skinny Quilt

It was supposed to be a table runner. Then I used white fabric for the background. As a person who squirts blueberry juice everywhere when cutting up waffles topped with them and thus has a selection of purple-dotted table runners, it seemed ill-advised to lay anything comprised of white fabric on any surface where I might be dining.

So now it will be a wall-hanging. The bad news is, I’m running out of walls to hang things upon. The good news is, the house is incredibly well-insulted with all of the quilts covering the walls. The question is, how many quilts would I need to hang for the house to be so well-insulated that we wouldn’t need to purchase propane or firewood in the winter?

This past week I finished cutting out the flowers and dots and stems and ironed them all in place. I found that a Teflon pressing sheet worked well for ironing on the bits that hung over the edges of the hanging so they didn’t stick to the ironing board. Those overhanging bits were later trimmed off.

Next week I hope to do the blanket stitching around the edges.

The pattern is Modern Flowers Skinny Quilt by Jennifer Jangles. There were options for three different sizes given. The wall quilt measured 54″x14.” The table runner was clearly designed for a table the size of which is only seen in lavish dining rooms in Jane Austen-esque movies/television shows. It finishes at a whopping 72″ x14.” If it were a little wider, I could totally hide under the thing. Finally, there is a bed runner measuring 108″ x 14.” I’ve never really understood bed runners. They seem to be all the rage in hotels these days where they spend more time sliding off the bed and onto the floor than they spend actually decorating the foot of the bed.

As I wanted to use up fabric from my stash, I was limited in the length I could make the hanging, The largest piece of background fabric that I liked in my stash was just over a yard long, so that’s what I went with.

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Whimsical Runner and More Pineapples

The past few weeks have been full of fun and not-so-fun things.

First, there was a week of vacation at Mammoth Cave and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hubby and I climbed our third mountain while in the Smokies. (We’ve now ascended Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina, Guadalupe Peak in Texas, and Mt. LeConte in Tennessee. We have our sights set on several more in the future.)

Since returning home, we’ve been on several hiking adventures. We’ve picked tons of dandelions to make dandelion jelly. We’ve eaten massive soft pretzels drenched in butter and parmesan and garlic from the Petosky Pretzel Company and consumed giant bowls of tasty ice cream from Kilwin’s Fudge Shop. And just yesterday we met up at a park with my parents and our kids to celebrate several birthdays.

The not-so-fun consisted of spring cleaning and more spring cleaning. Basement cleaning consumed almost an entire Sunday afternoon, and I’m pleased to report that our daughter’s paddleboard has FINALLY been stowed away…just in time for paddleboard season. Window washing, my least favorite chore, stole several hours of happiness. And garden weeding with our overly friendly mosquitos has sucked the joy out of at least one day and threatens to do so again tomorrow.

But let’s not dwell on unpleasant things!

My sewing time has been minimal, but I did manage to finish up several more tiny paper-pieced pineapples. Recently I decided to make blocks that were the “opposite” of the ones I’d previously completed. Where I’d used lights before, I switched to darks, and vice versa. I laid them out on the floor today to see how I liked the look, and I’m pleased with how they are turning out. I’m not looking forward to removing all of the paper from the back of each block, though.

After growing a little bored with pineapples and tiny scraps (actually all scraps at this point), I decided to pull out a pattern I’ve had for several years and start a…gasp…new project. As I still have several unfinished objects cluttering up the sewing room, the last thing I needed to do was begin something new, but here we are anyway.

This pattern makes a very long wall quilt, table runner, or bed runner. When I say “very long,” I mean “very long.” Like so long that I’d only be able to put the table runner-sized table runner on the table if I had the table expanded to its limits with multiple leaves being used. As it’s often just Hubby and me here for meals, we only have a need for our table to be stretched to fancy-dinner-at-Downton-Abbey size approximately once a year. I’ve decided that I’m going to make a much smaller table runner, probably consisting of either the top or bottom 2/3 of what’s pictured on the pattern. Thus far I’ve cut out a portion of one of the large flowers. Choosing fabrics for this whimsical runner was a lot of fun.

With rain forecasted for a portion of this weekend, I’m hoping to spend a few hours sewing. But first…I need to iron the curtains that need to be rehung post window washing. Ironing…now there’s a real joy stealer! (There’s also a pile of laundry that needs to be ironed. Sigh!)

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A Scrappy Patriotic Project & an Update

Several years ago my mom and I went on a Shop Hop around northern Michigan. At each shop we were given a free patriotic pattern.

Am I the only one who usually finds the free gifts on Shop Hops to be…well…not that great? I know I shouldn’t complain, but the last thing I want is patterns I don’t like, swatches of fabric I’ll never use (and no one else wanted either if you have them left over to give away), or a weird little sewn together tissue holder that makes getting a Kleenex out of my purse so much more difficult because I’ve now got to get through a flap and a piece of velcro to access what I need to wipe my nose. Trust me, that Kleenex holder that someone spent so much time putting together is just going to get taken apart so I can use the scrap of fabric it was made with for something more practical.

Wow. I probably sound like an ingrate.

Sorry. I just don’t like clutter. (Though the state of my sewing room right now tells a different story.)

But back to those patriotic patterns that were given away free, because that’s where we were before I went off on a tangent. Some of those patterns were actually pretty good. I chose the four best, dug out my patriotic scraps, and made a small wall-hanging.

I want to point out that I had originally used different colors for the bottom right block. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you think they’re going to. Which is fine, because you can always throw that ugly mess into a scrappy quilt like I did. (I only used a portion of the ugliness, because the entire block would have been too overwhelming!) I think what went wrong in this block was I reversed the darks and lights and the star part of the pattern just didn’t stand out.

Now for an update.

Maybe you recall how I made some guinea pig hay bags a few weeks ago. As it turns out, the openings for the hay were too large for our greedy little boys. They relished shoving their heads into the bags and yanking mounds of hay out, mounds that they would then leave uneaten on the floor of their cage. As the price of hay has risen astronomically, those potato-shaped monsters needed to be stopped. My daughter (the owner of the piggies and the purchaser of the hay) decided to sew a small strip of fabric across the middle of the openings in the hope that they would no longer be able to yank everything out as easily. We’ll see how this goes. (Look at Winston with hay on his face!) If they continue to waste hay, we may need to find them jobs so they can earn their keep. With their skills at munching, I think we may be able to hire them out to do lawn maintenance.

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Tiny Pineapples

I’ve been working my way through my list of Unfinished Projects this year. I was on quite a roll, then stalled a bit over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been working on some other projects that aren’t craft-related, have been planning some summer adventures, and have been helping move college kids back home.

My piano room presently looks like a hoarder lives here as Middle Daughter has to move back to college next week for her summer classes and we piled all her things in there when we unloaded the car rather than put them away for such a short period of time.

Son came home with mountains of laundry a week later, claiming he’d run out of Tide Pods a few weeks before the end of the semester. I can finally see the floor in the laundry room again…after days of tripping over hoodies and blankets–he sleeps under no less than 10 blankets every night–and underwear.

With my days spent moving laundry from the floor to the washer to the dryer, my sewing time has decreased significantly. However, I did manage to eke out some time to work on a few tiny paper-pieced pineapples.

These pineapples measure just over 3″ square and are great for all those tiny scraps!. I found the pattern at https://www.thelittlemushroomcap.com/paper-pieced-3-pineapple-log-cabin-block-mini-quilt-progress-free-paper-piecing-template-a-video/.

Originally I made a stack of these blocks with lights where the darks are in the above photo. As I laid them out, planning how I was going to arrange them, I decided that I liked the look of alternating blocks with lights and darks in the corners. So now I’m working on creating a stack of what I’ll call dark blocks. (Like the one above. Below you can see the difference between the “lights” and the “darks.”)

I haven’t yet decided how large this quilt will be. Considering all of the time involved I will probably choose to hang this one on the wall rather than have out where it can be used.

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Conquering the Unfinished Projects

I have no idea where the last two weeks went.

Oh, wait. Yes, I do.

I had to block off a lot of hours last week for worrying. Yes, worrying.

Our middle child (actually an adult) ended up in the emergency room of a hospital a couple hours away earlier in the month. After a few tests, a tentative diagnosis was reached, and she was told to follow up with her physician. She did. At that visit, lab work showed the problem had worsened. Had I not already been worrying, I would have started then. She was referred to a surgeon, and I spent an afternoon at the hospital with her while she underwent some more testing. As of yet, no real diagnosis has been reached, but she’s feeling much better. So the hope is that whatever caused her issues was just a temporary blip.

I will say, and I’ve joked with her about this since her time in the recovery room, that the show she gave me as she came down off whatever good drugs they gave her was worth the price of admission, i.e. what insurance isn’t covering. She was swearing. She was saying goofy, inappropriate things. And she was loud. I was glad there was a curtain around her recovery cubicle so no one could see us in there. This is a smallish town! Someone might know us! It all made for a good story to tell the relatives, though.

I found a little time to sew last weekend, but with two of the kids home from college, there wasn’t time to share anything here. This past week I found more time to sew, and yesterday I finished my 4-patch Little Squares quilt top, a project that has been in an unfinished state for a couple years.

The top consists of 1,152 1-1/2″ squares made into 4-patch units combined with 2-1/2″ cream squares. The colored scraps making up the border are 2-1/2″. The outer cream border measures 1-1/2″ wide. This made a smaller lapsize quilt. All of the fabric, except for the cream, used in this quilt is from my never-ending, ever-growing stash of scraps.

I vow to conquer the procrastination tendencies that seem to arise at this point of a project. I WILL get a backing sewn. I WILL get it pinned. I WILL get the quilting done. I WILL get it bound. Am I the only one who hates sewing backings and doing the pinning?

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Little Squares

It’s been a week.

A rough week.

I enjoyed a bit of sewing and cross-stitching time last weekend, then Monday hit.

And with Monday came the stomach flu and a week of feeling not quite right. I’ve been doing a lot of napping and lazing about on the couch with my faithful canine companions by my side. I hope this coming week finds me out of this ick funk that I’m in so I can get back to the things that I enjoy.

(Not that I don’t enjoy lazing about on the couch. I just don’t like doing it for days at a time.)

After finishing the Lemon Pepper quilt and matching pillows I decided I’d get back to my unfinished project list and work on something that had been gathering dust for a while. I chose what I’ll refer to as my “Little Squares” project.

Little Squares is made up of so many…you guessed it…little squares. I’m doing four-patch blocks with 1 1/2″ squares. These four-patch blocks are combined with a 2 1/2″ block of cream fabric.

After a bit of calculating, I discovered that I need 1,152 little squares to make the quilt the size I wanted. That’s a lot!

Here are a couple of progress photos. I’m hoping for nine of the larger units in the finished quilt, so I’d say I’m nearly halfway there.

As I cut up my scraps into the tiny squares, I’m adding a lot of even smaller scraps to my itty-bitty scrap container. These will come in handy when I get back to my miniature paper-pieced pineapple blocks.

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A Trio of Pillows

Did we need more pillows?

Probably not.

As it is, one of our couches has just enough un-pillowed space left for a single dog to enjoy a siesta when she’s feeling antisocial in the evenings and chooses to relax in a different room than her humans and her doggy “brother.”

Did I make more pillows?

Yep.

You can never have too many, right?

Besides, I had numerous scraps left from the Lemon Pepper Quilt–little bits that had already been sewn together which could be trimmed up and pieced together to make pillow tops.

I also had enough larger scraps left that, with a bit of piecing, could be used to make backs for the pillows.

I trimmed the already pieced bits down to 2 1/4″ strips and sewed four of these strips together to make a block. Each pillow top had 4 blocks, 2 going vertically and 2 going horizontally. I added a black border and quilted the tops in a similar style as I had the Lemon Pepper quilt (kind of an all-over straight line quilting 1/4″ from some of the seams…think boxy zigzag.)

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Grandma’s Quilt. Dad’s Pajamas.

My dad’s pajamas hang on the bottom of our bed.

It’s not as weird as it sounds.

My grandmother, my dad’s mom, died before I was born. I’ve seen photos and heard many stories about her, but the only connection I have to her is a quilt my grandfather gave to me a few years before he passed away.

By the way, those stories about grandma? The one told most often was about how she was such a kind woman. But one day, one of the chickens in their backyard flock pecked her one too many times, and that kind woman wrung his neck! You can guess what they had for dinner that night.

I’m fairly certain–judging by the fact that many of the fabrics are florals–that not all of the quilt squares were cut from my dad’s clothes, but I know for certain that at least one of the fabrics came from a pair of his childhood pajamas. If I recall correctly, his pajamas were made of red and white stripe fabric.

Though my dad is still living and I don’t need a tangible item to bring memories of him to mind, it’s nice to have this quilt nearby as a connection to the grandmother I never got to know and to the child my father once was. And I’m glad my grandfather trusted me with this heirloom and knew I would appreciate the effort put into each hand-stitched stitch.

I also appreciate all of the fabulous patterns on the old fabrics.

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A Confession

I have a confession to make.

This quilt was supposed to be a wedding present.

Many years ago a childhood friend got married. I was her Matron of Honor. She had been my Maid of Honor a few years earlier.

I chose the pattern “Treasured Hearts” from the book Hearts are Forever by Four Corners, picked out the fabrics, and got started. I worked diligently but, as I was an exhausted new mother, quickly realized I would never finish the quilt in time for the wedding.

Besides, I had fallen a bit in love with the quilt and really didn’t want to part with it. Horrible, I know. What kind of friend am I?

So a new gift was chosen for the wedding, and I put the quilt away to finish when I had more time.

I wouldn’t find that time for several more years, not until long after we’d built a house, moved, and had two more children. I can’t remember exactly what year that was (I should probably label my quilts), but I have a very clear memory of being cold and working on the quilting at the kitchen table while our across-the-pond neighbor at the time was in the basement fixing our broken furnace.

Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of white fabric. I find it tends to show every single wrinkle. But I liked the white on this quilt. I chose to quilt in the ditch around each colored piece of fabric. I used a soft, green flannel, that my parents purchased an entire bolt of at a very reasonable price in Ohio’s Amish Country, for the backing. The pattern made a twin/double size quilt measuring 73″ by 87.” For now, this quilt is draped over a chair in our living room. I thought that one day, should we ever turn our kids’ bedrooms into guest rooms, I might use it on a bed. After laying it out today to take photos, I realized how much it has aged just while draped on the back of a chair. The white is less white; the colors are a bit faded. It was a reminder that everything…and not just me…is aging.

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A Tiny Terror

Last weekend I wrote of the two tiny tyrants who share our house, or as our daughter calls them, the Guinea pigs. This week, let me introduce you to the other tiny terror in our lives:

Her name is Rosie. She’s 17 and spoiled absolutely rotten. (She would disagree on the spoiled rotten bit for two reasons. #1 – She has to live with 2 dogs and #2 – She occasionally has to wait to get her bedtime treat longer than she would like.)

Rosie, and her sister Belle (who died in early 2020), came to live with us when they were one day old. We then became a, gasp, four cat family at the time, having adopted two males from the shelter four years previously. (Sadly, the boys died several years ago.) Rosie and Belle had to be fed with bottles (even in the middle of the night), burped like babies, and taught how to do cat stuff (like use a litter box) by the humans in the family.

I was the only mama Rosie ever knew. And I didn’t shove her out of the “nest” as a normal mama cat would. Thus, a monster was created.

She’s clingy, insisting on sharing my chair when I sit down to sew. If she’s not on the chair behind me, forcing me to teeter on the very edge, she’s sitting on whatever project I’m attempting to work on. If I’m lucky she might lay in her bed nearby. Chances of that improve if I’ve got a space heater running nearby so she can toast her little whiskers.

At night she insists on sleeping as close to my face as possible, occasionally treating me to a neck stomping as she settles into position. As a person with allergies, let me just say that it’s a real treat having a cat sleep right under my nose every night. We tried evicting her from the bedroom, but her meowing skills are top notch. She can meow for hours at a time and often does so if her nightly treat is running late.

Her most recent transgression had nothing to do with neck stomping or lengthy bouts of meowing and put her firmly in top place on the naughty list for the week. Displeased with the state of 1 of her 4 (!!) litter boxes, she left me a stinky “present” right on top of the Lemon Pepper Quilt I was quilting.

I disposed of the “present” and spot cleaned the area, mentally cussing the entire time because I knew a spot clean would not suffice. There was no way I would put that quilt on the back of the couch or snuggle underneath it until it was washed.

I ordered some Shout color-catchers, knowing I did not want a repeat performance of what happened when I washed the bed quilt that took me 19 years to complete. (Blue backing that had been previously washed bled onto the front cream stars, which might not have been stopped even with a color-catcher.) As this quilt was a mix of whites and blacks and pale greens, I worried it could all be ruined with one washing.

After finishing the quilting (straight line meandering and a lot of it!) and binding AND taking photos just in case something bad happened, I said a prayer and tossed it in the wash. Thankfully, it came out looking perfect.

So, here it is, the Lemon Pepper Quilt that was on my UFO (unfinished objects) list and the third project knocked off the list this year:

Luna is carefully checking out those quilting stitches. No word yet on if she approves.

*Update on the Guinea pig hay bags from last week: Apparently I made the holes in the hay bags slightly too large. The boys are able to yank the hay out a bit too easily, thus creating mounds of hay on the floor of their enclosure which they might or might not eat. They will, for sure, act as if they have nothing to eat when the hay bags are empty despite these mounds of perfectly good hay.