Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Everything’s Coming Up Squash

The summer squash and zucchini in our garden are multiplying like rabbits every night, and I can’t keep up. We’ve had Tomato-Zucchini Tart and Italian Roasted Veggies. I’ve made bread for the freezer (which barely fit in there as we still have soup made with zucchini in there from last year, along with too much ice cream, frozen strawberries, veggie broth, and icy chunks of leftover tomato paste because the larger can is cheaper). We’ve eaten zucchini muffins (actually summer squash muffins, but they are totally interchangeable). Tomorrow, I’ll be whipping up a Sausage and Zucchini casserole for dinner.

Today, I air-fried an entire summer squash as a side for my lunch. (Slice 1/8″ to 1/4″ slices, coat with a bit of olive oil and Parmesan Cheese, and air-fry for approximately 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Super simple. Super tasty. I tossed it in a bowl with quinoa, garden peas, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and a drizzle of herbed olive oil, added a bowl of honeyrock melon, and finished my meal with a square of dark chocolate. Do I feel healthy? Yes, I do.)

Approximately one week of harvest

And the really crazy thing about all that squashy goodness?

Most of the plants that have produced veggies thus far weren’t plants we actually planted. I did plant one packet of zucchini seeds and one packet of summer squash seeds, but they haven’t done much yet. The plants that have been thriving for weeks now came up from seeds that were in our compost pile. And what’s even crazier is that we seem to have some strange zucchini/summer squash/spaghetti squash hybrids sprouting from the ground.

I also did not plant tomato plants, but we have those too, and we seem to have some sort of watermelon/pumpkin that’s coming along nicely. (No one is quite sure yet what it is. It’s getting big, though.) I may even have a butternut squash.

It’s a plant free-for-all out there, and nothing is neat and orderly, and it makes me just a teeny bit sad that my lovely row of beets is hidden and shaded by massive squash plant leaves. But I shouldn’t complain. Food is growing and it’s tasty and basically free.

Clearly, with this Great Squash Uprising that’s going on (along with taking time to enjoy the few summer weekends we get in northern Michigan), I have been spending minimal time in the sewing room. Thus, I have nothing new to share. What I do have is an older project that I don’t think I’ve shared before.

This is the Ice Cream Social wallhanging fom the Spring 2012 issue of Quilts and More magazine. The sample in the magazine was a little “busier” than I liked, with a dotted background, an inner stripey border of many colors (kind of like my outer pieced border, though the stripes were printed on the fabric), and an outer border that had various ice cream novelties printed on it. The corner blocks on the sample were pinwheels. It was a bit much for me. So I opted for an inner border that matched my more muted background fabric, another narrow border in pink (to match my binding), and an outer pieced border made of various width strips that matched what I had used for the ice cream and popsicles. (One great thing about this project is that you could make most of it with fabric scraps.)

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

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.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

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!)

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!



Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This part-Irish girl finally has a table runner for the holiday. I didn’t know if I would be able to complete it in time, but I finished it up on Monday night. Luck was with me when I realized I had enough black binding left from a previous project. Not only would I not have to take the time to make the binding (which I really don’t enjoy doing), but my black fabric was in short supply and I wasn’t certain if there was enough left for binding.

This project was made with bias strips (cut 1″ wide, sewn right sides together and pressed flat with the trimmed seam to the back). I sewed the strips down and outline quilted around everything. I added a quilted shamrock in the empty space above the middle of the word, but it isn’t visible as the green fabric is so busy. (Hint: Search for simple tattoos on Pinterest. They make great quilt patterns. I traced the design onto tissue paper, pinned the paper to the runner, and quilted right through it.)

Sadly, this runner will only be out on the table for a short time this year since I want to have a chance to use the Easter runner I made last year.

I’m not certain what my next project will be. I have a couple things in the works–another scrap quilt (as if we need another one!) and a paper-piecing project–but I really want to start something else. I just saw a cute hexagon quilt pattern I’d like to try, and I have a few patterns and fabrics paired up that I have plans for.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

The 2020 Afghan

My kids prefer afghans to quilts for cold winter days or chilly summer nights. I’ll let you in on a little secret…I do too. When it comes to having something to snuggle up under on the couch, afghans are our go-to.

That’s not to say that quilts don’t have their place. In our house that place is on the walls, the backs of the couches, or atop the beds. So basically everywhere…just not on top of us.

It’s silly, I know. I love making quilts and all the different designs, but to me they are more of a decoration than a way to keep warm.

We recently had a conversation after what happened in Texas about how we would never get too cold in our house even if the power was out for days since we have so many quilts and afghans and blankets all over the place. We could build a fort and stay nice and cozy in front of our fireplace. While it sounds fun and novel, romantic even, in reality it would probably be none of those things!

Without electricity, we’d have no hot water and quite quickly no water at all since our well would stop pumping it from the ground. While we’ve cooked in our fireplace before, it’s never been anything more complicated than a hot dog. In fact, hot dogs cooked over the fire was our Anniversary dinner this past December since we were without power that evening. Also, the guinea pigs, Winston and Basil, would suffer as they are delicate little fellas who can’t handle the cold. I’m not sure I’d enjoy having them in our fort since they throw hay all over the place!

I finished this particular afghan last weekend. I began working on it early last year. It looks a lot like another I finished last year since I wanted to use up all of the remaining yarn from that project. The pattern was my own design:

The first 10 and last 10 rows were all Knit rows.

Then Knit a row, Purl a row for as many rows as desired. This started out as 20 rows. As I ran low on some yarns and had a lot left of others, I adjusted and did less rows of some colors and more rows of others. (First 5 stitches in all rows were Knit.)

Then (when on right side) 2 knit rows, 1 purl row, 1 knit row. (I did these in green and purple)

Things got a little wonky color-wise as I neared the end of my yarn supply and had to change up the color pattern I had started out with. This didn’t bother me as it was a project I began just to use up leftovers. I was amazed that I was able to get two very large afghans out of 5 1-pound skeins of Caron yarn.

The Celitc Knotwork St. Patrick’s Day project is coming along nicely. I’m still not sure I’ll finish in time for the holiday, but I made good progress yesterday. The first clover is completely sewn now, and all the letters are glued in place. I’ve also begun sewing the letters. I’m hoping to make some progress this weekend but may not as there’s a birthday to be celebrated. Special food will be prepared. Brownies and ice cream will be consumed. Presents will be unwrapped. And fun will be had.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Yummy Rustic Loaves and a Quilt Update

During supper recently we were enjoying a crispy-crusted, extra-tasty, rustically-round loaf of Cranberry Orange bread when our son piped up that somewhere he’d found a list of items people won’t shut up about after purchasing. One of those items happened to be Dutch ovens…which is what I had been happily extolling the virtues of as we ate the delicious loaf that had been baked in one.

I’ve been hankering for a long time for a recipe that would produce a perfectly crispy loaf as I had never succeeded in getting such a loaf out of just a regular pan in the oven or in the bread machine. Then, strangely, my Pinterest feed became full of photos of drool-worthy rustic loaves and I began to pine for the Dutch oven that would be necessary for success.

We found one (the only one) at the store and and brought it home, where it sat in the cupboard for at least a week before I

a. became brave enough to attempt something new and

b. remembered to mix up the dough the night before so it could do its thing over hours and hours (because all those rustic loaf recipes seem to involve at least 12 hours of rise time).

The results were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Also amazing was the loaf of basic white bread. (I forgot to slash the top, but you can see in the photo that it just cracked up there all on its own.) We enjoyed the white bread with a bowl of creamy Chicken Gnocchi soup and a slice of cheesecake for our Valentine’s Day supper.

But enough about the bread since I don’t want to be one of those people who can’t seem to stop talking about their Dutch oven and prove that list our son found right.

Here’s a photo of the progress I’ve made on my St. Patrick’s Day table runner. I was only able to work on it on Sunday, so it is progressing slowly. The photo shows one clover pinned down. I now have it partially sewn in place. I may have to work a bit faster in order to have it completed in time for the holiday!

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Easter Egg Table Runner

I was thrilled to have my sewing machine back last Thursday. It’s so quiet when it runs now, which made me wonder if something was wrong! I will do my best to oil it more frequently and take it in sooner for routine servicing. When you can’t recall the last time you had your machine serviced, it has been much too long.

While I had planned to make another pillow out of scraps similar to what I used last time, a pattern that I’ve had for a long time caught my eye. And, since Easter is coming, I thought I would finish something holiday-themed long before the actual holiday rather than the day of or long after.

The original pattern (found in the Spring 2013 edition of Quilts and More magazine) was a bit different than what I made. There were five eggs and a wider border (with some adorable chick blocks). I would have loved to include the chicks somewhere, but I’ll have to save that part of the pattern for another project. The original finished size was much too big for our kitchen table.

My changes:

I opted to only make three eggs. This reduced the length by more than 20.”

I eliminated the wide border and went with a 1-1/2″ strip of pink fabric.

Instead of using a satin stitch to outline the eggs and the egg decorations, I used a small blanket stitch. (The eggs were Wonder Under-ed down first.)

For quilting, I used invisible monofilament by Superior Threads. I like how thin it is, and it seems to behave better than most monofilaments. I don’t think I’m the only person who has difficulty sewing with clear thread. I set my tension at 2 and place the thread in a jar that sits on top of my machine. I’ve found that if I put it on the sewing machine spindle, it tends to come off obnoxiously and get all tangled up. Then it breaks and makes a mess! I’m not certain how or why the jar works, but I’ve had less trouble with that solution than any other I’ve tried.

Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

Scrappy Cat Project #2

It used to be very rare for me to buy enough fabric from one collection to make an entire quilt. Usually, I’d pick and choose, buying a few yards from a couple of different bolts and then pairing those fabrics with other fabric in my stash whenever I wanted to make something. But, in recent years, my buying habits have changed as I’ve discovered how well fabrics in a collection combine. I’ve (mostly) stopped buying fabric for my “stash.” I might purchase a neutral color now and then to add to the stash because you can always use a good white or cream fabric, but when it comes to patterns and colorful pieces, I’ve slowed down on purchasing them. I’ve found that they tend to languish for years because I just can’t seem to find the right fabrics in my collection to pair together. So many pieces of fabric I’ve purchased have lost their appeal as my likes and dislikes have changed. I no longer want to spend money on fabric that will just take up space in the closet. I want fabrics that work well together, that make me want to sew up something beautiful with them right away, that make me want to keep using those fabrics together in numerous projects until I’m left with nothing but the tiniest scraps!

I’ve already shown you the Scrappy Cat table runner that I made from fabric leftover from a larger quilt. (I’ll share that quilt at a later time.) After finishing the table runner, I was amazed that I still had so many decent sized scraps left. My original plans for this project involved using a different color for the sashing, but I didn’t have quite enough of that color left. I used up almost all of the remaining pink floral fabric, which makes me just a little sad since I LOVE that particular fabric. I also used up a small piece of batting. (If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to not use that leftover high-loft batting!)

I used the Memory block pattern from Quilter’s Mix and Match Blocks. I added a narrow sashing between the blocks. I outline quilted each star in white and used pink thread to quilt 1/8″ inside the stars. I also added some quilting 1/8″ inside each cat square and, as I was using that dreadful high-loft batting and it seemed to need a bit more quilting, I quilted over a few of the flower stems in the green squares. For the backing, I used up several larger chunks of leftover fabric.

I plan to use this small quilt as a “runner” for our kitchen island. As the island is basically a large square, I thought a square “runner” would be a nice change from the usual rectangular ones.

Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

Kind of Scrappy Table Runner part 2

I ‘m not judging your quilt binding skills.

I lied.

I am sooo judging your quilt binding skills. If you do that binding where it’s like you started a new piece of binding on each side of the quilt and didn’t do continuous binding with mitered corners, it’s like you just put the Mona Lisa in a cardboard frame. You wouldn’t do that, would you?!?

But, to be fair about all this, you can feel free to judge my quilting in the ditch skills. I keep to the ditch like a drunk on Live PD keeps their feet walking on the line during a sobriety test.

Speaking of quilting in the ditch…I added some of that to my scrappy cat table runner. After adding the outline quilting around the cat blocks and the hearts in what I’ll call the “plain” blocks, I felt that it needed just a bit more quilting to hold it all together.

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Then it was time for the binding. I have the most AMAZING tool for joining the binding at the beginning and ending point. My mom found it somewhere, I can’t remember where, bought one for each of us, and gave it to me for my birthday. I praise it to her just about every time I use it. If you don’t have the CutRite Bind Up, you need this in your life. (Note: No one is paying me to say this. Also note: I wish I had thought this thing up!)

I added a cute polka dot binding. (I cut my binding at 2-1/2.” Though I know others who prefer a narrower binding, I like having a bit extra to work with on the back side.) I hand-sewed it down on the back side of the runner. (Yet another note: I hate hand-sewing. With a passion. A great passion.)

Here’s the finished runner. I love how spring-y it looks on the table, and the colors are perfect for Valentine’s Day.