crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing

Halloween Fabric Haul!

After an incredibly rainy start to autumn, we’ve been enjoying a bit of warm, dry weather.

Well, perhaps “enjoying” is too strong of a word. “Enjoying” would involve hiking miles and miles every weekend. And, while it’s true that we did spend several days hiking in Pennsylvania and walking along beaches in Georgia and Florida in early October, all we’ve been doing outdoors lately is working, working, working. The list of fall chores seems endless. We’ve cut down trees. (No “we” here, actually. I’m not really trusted to handle things that can cut off fingers or other important body parts after a rotary cutter incident several years ago.) We’ve hauled wood, stacked wood, raked leaves, blown leaves–burnt up a leaf blower and bought a new one–turned over the dirt in the garden, and painted the trim around two front doors. We’ve got more wood being delivered this weekend, so guess what will be going on next week? Yup. More wood stacking.

On the plus side, I’ve not had to “exercise” for a week and I’ve lost 3 pounds despite eating my way through half a dozen Oreo cupcakes. (What can I say? Fresh air makes me hungry!) On the negative side, I’ve not really had any time to sew.

I did take a day last week, though, to go to Inspiration Day at Interquilten in Traverse City with my mom, where I was excited to find Halloween fabric on clearance! I’ve wanted to make a Halloween lap quilt for a long time, but with fabric prices edging over $14 a yard and a stash that I probably shouldn’t be adding to taking up space in the closet, I’ve been resistant to purchasing any new fabric.

But that Halloween fabric was on sale for less than $9 a yard. Yea! I had no pattern in mind when I made my purchase and still don’t (mainly because I haven’t had the time or energy to devote to any projects). I ended up buying a couple fat quarters, 1-1/2 yards of most of the fabrics, and 4 yards of what I plan to use for backing. What’s really thrilling is that the images printed on the fabrics glow in the dark. I can’t wait to see those creepy skeletons glowing at night!

I also found some rolled 1-yard cuts of fabric in the “Last Chance” bin. So much for not adding to my stash. Ha! I couldn’t resist them at just over $6 a yard and hope I can find something to pair them with that’s already in my stash.

I noted to Hubby that, while we have some cute turkeys to hang on the wall for Thanksgiving (Doesn’t the one on the left remind you of Flo from Progressive?), we don’t have a Thanksgiving runner for our kitchen table, which is an oversight I think I should rectify this year.

What a conundrum I find myself in now. Do I finish one of my bazillion unfinished objects? Do I start on my Halloween quilt? Do I find a cute turkey table runner pattern and get sewing so it’s ready to display for Thanksgiving dinner?

I guess we’ll find out what I’m going to choose when I finally get all the fall work finished and get back in the sewing room.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing

Autumn Owls

What an autumn it’s been. Between traveling the first week of October and all of the fall chores we’ve been attempting to jam into the few days of decent weather we’ve been blessed with so far this month, the days have flown by. Now it’s almost November, and I am not anywhere close to being ready for winter. (We’ve already had a few days of snow that didn’t stick around, so we know winter isn’t far off.)

The lawn is covered with leaves–mostly wet leaves since it’s rained so much–and there are still so many more that need to fall yet, making raking/leaf blowing useless at this point. I did spend a couple hours this past weekend moving leaves from the “lawn” to “not the lawn,” but by the time I’d finished it looked like I’d done almost nothing.

Then there’s been the firewood issue. Hubby cut down a massive oak near our pond. As he’s cut it into chunks and split it, I’ve loaded it into the wheelbarrow and made the long trudge up the hill to the woodpile over and over. If I think of it as mountain climbing training, I think some of the misery is lessened. But I’m not sure. It’s still a pretty miserable task. And what’s extra infuriating is that for each trip from the pond to the wood pile, which is clearly the equivelant of 3 flights of stairs, the health app on my phone only gives me credit for 1 flight of stairs. Not that I do anything with the numbers the health app gives me. I just don’t want my phone to think I’m a slacker.

While the rain has kept us from getting our outdoor woork completed as quickly as we’d like (work completed=more time for fall hiking), the rain has provided me with an excuse to hibernate inside with good books and sewing projects.

I’m not sure I’ve ever completed a project as quickly as I completed this owl hanging. I just knew, after finally pulling this pattern out after years of having it filed away, that I just HAD to get these cuties up on the wall this fall.

When I last wrote about this project a couple weeks ago, I was debating whether to satin stitch around each wonder-undered piece of fabric with matching thread or use that dreadful clear thread to do a blanket stitch around the edges. I ended up using the dreadful clear thread, which didn’t misbehave as much as it has in the past.

(I think I finally figured out the secret to keeping that clear thread from breaking. Rather than place the spool on the spindle on the sewing machine, I’ve been putting the spool in a jar that I place a little bit behind the machine. This seems to let the thread come off the spool better. I also set the tension pretty low on the machine. If anyone has any better ideas, please drop them in the comments!)

After blanket-stitching around each piece of fabric, I quilted freehand around the owls, leaves, and branches. I added quilting on the underside of the wings as the pattern showed and added some freehand leaves. Considering I’m not much of an “artist” and have minimal freehand quilting skills, I think the leaves turned out pretty well.

I’m particularly fond of the hanging tabs that I made for this project using a pattern from a previous project. To make the tabs, cut fabric rectangles twice as wide (plus seam allowance) as you want them to be when finished. Cut to the length desired. Fold in half, right sides together and sew along the long edge and one short edge. Turn right side out. Place the tab along the edge of the back side of the quilt, raw edges together, and sew in place. Sew binding on normally. Once the binding is sewn down to the back side of the quilt, fold the tabs over and sew in place on the front. Add a cute button. I just happend to find two wooden buttons in my massive can of buttons that came from my grandmother and great-grandmother that I thought would go nicely with the outdoorsy theme of this hanging.

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Owl Progress

Fall brought with it some icky weather, but I persevered through the grey skies, the days and days of rain, and the lack of sunshine by working on these cute fall owls. Last week I had them all wonder-undered to the background fabric. This week I blanket-stitched everything in place and added the colorful pieced border.

If you recall from my last post, I was uncertain what type of thread I was going to use for the blanket-stitching. The choice was between using the clear thread that I had on hand and hate working with or purchasing thread to match each piece of fabric used. I ended up choosing the clear thread. Mainly because I am CHEAP.

The majority of the fabrics used in this wall hanging were batiks. I really, really, really like the one with the swirls of purple and brown. And the yellow one with the sunflower print. Actually, I really like almost all of them. (I got lucky at a going-out-of-business sale at a quilt shop and scored a ton of batiks really cheap.)

(See my last post for pattern info.)

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

The Unfinished Object List Grows

Whilst in the middle of my sock drama a few weeks ago, I went on the hunt for a more well-written sock pattern. (Which would be the exact opposite of the sock pattern I’ve been using). I began this quest by perusing my notebook full of miscellaneous knitting and quilting patterns, where I located two (!!) sock patterns I’d previously purchased but had never used.

The question is, “Do I dare attempt a different pattern?”

I am, after all, familiar with the rotten pattern I’ve been using, and I’m about 50% certain I will eventually figure out all of the quirks (i.e. mistakes) in that pattern.

Time will tell if I take the plunge into a different set of knits and purls that will eventually yield another pair of socks. As it is, I’m stuck with what I’m using for 1 and a 1/4 more socks.

But…

Whilst flipping through patterns plucked from magazines or received free at shop hops, I came across two wall-hanging patterns I had completely forgotten about.

And…

Because I love having lots of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) laying around the sewing room, I started on one.

However…

Before I show you what I’ve been working on, let me present a couple pictures that show the dangers of time and sunlight.

No, these aren’t photos of my skin. I’m not that old, and I never lay out in the sun.

As I dug through my tubs of fabric, I came across two pieces of fabric I’d used in two wall-hangings in the past. I should take a moment to point out that these fabrics were purchased from JoAnn Fabrics probably in the late 90s or very early 2000s. I got my sewing machine right before our daughter was born in 1999, and the fabric on the left was used in the first quilt I completed. So that fabric is older than my daughter, it wasn’t the highest quality to begin with, and the quilt has hung on the wall for over 20 years. It’s no wonder it’s a little worn out and faded. The fabric on the left was used in a small wall-hanging that is slightly less than 20 years old.

I’m not sure if there’s a lesson here. Things age, but I wonder if higher-quality fabrics age better? (My guess is they do.) And, obviously, sunlight on quilts is probably not the best.

But back to digging through my stash.

You may remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about whether a stash was a good thing or a bad thing. Well, having a stash came through for me this week. I was able to find enough fabrics in my stash for the wall-hanging I wanted to make. How great is it to want to make something RIGHT NOW and you’ve got everything you need?!

Now I need to see if I have the appropriate thread for finishing up this project. I haven’t decided if I’m going to blanket stitch around everything or if I’m going to use a clear thread and a straight stitch to hold all the edges down. I’m not a fan of clear thread, but I think blanket stitching everything might be a bit too much.

I also need to sew a pieced border.

This pattern is called “Hoo’s Waiting for Autumn” and was a “Fall Skinnie” from the Quiltmaker Magazine July/August 2013 issue.

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.

crafts · Quilting · Quilts · sewing

Dolphins in the Bathroom

Shortly after we moved into our house I decorated the kids’ bathroom with an underwater theme. I painted the walls light blue, then sponged a darker blue on top.

(Sponging paint on or off was quite the rage there for a while in the early 2000s. I must have sponged, ragged, and even plastic-wrapped paint on over half the walls in the house. Looking back, while I liked it at the time, it was a pretty weird fad. The plastic-wrap technique involved painting the walls with a base color, then adding a darker color. While the darker paint was still wet, you put a layer of plastic wrap on top then pulled it off. This removed part of the dark paint, leaving behind interesting lines in the remaining paint.)

Anyway, I digress.

Where were we?

Ah, yes. Underwater bathroom.

After painting, I added an undersea-themed wallpaper border up near the ceiling. (Borders were “in” at the time also. Had I known how difficult this one would be to remove years later, I never would have put it up there.) We then hung a fishing net and blue tulle from corner to corner over the bathtub and put a couple starfish inside. That, I think, did look pretty neat.

As a final touch, I added this small dolphin wall hanging:

The dolphin block, a paper-piecing pattern, was from A Quilter’s Ark by Margaret Rolfe. Each dolphin block finishes at just 4″ x 4.” This little wall hanging was just the right size to fit between two medicine cabinets.

Several years after painting the bathroom, we decided to give it a bit of a freshening up. The netting and tulle were dusty, the kids had outgrown the underwater theme, and I just like to have painting projects. We didn’t put a lot of thought into the paint color, instead choosing to be frugal by using leftover paint from when I painted our oldest daughter’s room. She’d chosen a pale blue for her walls and a strange pinkish-purple for a tiny angled wall where her bedroom door is located. We had nearly a gallon of that strange pinkish-purple color left, and so that’s what ended up in the bathroom.

I hated that color.

And the dolphin wall hanging didn’t quite match the room anymore. But we left it there anyway.

We tolerated the paint color for several years until it came time to paint our son’s bedroom. He chose a lovely grey paint for his walls, and, since there was leftover paint, I was able to redo the bathroom. Now, the dolphins once again look like they belong.

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Tis the Season

Thanksgiving and Christmas collided at our home this year. I was tempted to greet our guests with a Merry Thankmas or a Happy Christgiving. Actual Turkey day was spent prepping for our guests who would be arriving throughout the day on Friday and dealing with the after-effects of jab #3. (While they weren’t as severe as what I experienced post-Pfizer #2, the muscle aches, small bit of chills, and swollen lymph nodes were still unpleasant.) I pushed through the aches and prepped everything except for the traditional green bean casserole and the turkey. When our guests arrived on Friday, the turkey was already in the oven and everything else was ready to go save for a quick mix-up of the casserole and a bit of a heat-up of all the sides while the turkey was “resting.” Prepping pretty much everything in advance meant I was able to sit down, put my feet up, and actually visit with our family.

We chose to dole out Christmas presents at our gathering, knowing it would be sometime after Christmas before we would be able to have everyone all in one place again. Thus is life now that our oldest lives and works downstate and our other two kids are in college.

As the holiday season is upon us, I’ve changed out all of our Thanksgiving wall hangings for Christmas ones and thought I’d take the next few posts to share them.

This whimsical wall-hanging is a personal favorite. The pattern, which was originally intended to be used in a table runner, came from the September/October 2013 issue of Quiltmaker magazine. I enjoy doing these simple embroidery projects. Minus a pattern, one could, as I have mentioned before, use a cute, basic coloring page as a pattern.

Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

Cardinals in Winter

Brrrr. It’s a cold, snowy day in northern Michigan. It’s 21 degrees out with a forecasted low of 10 for tonight. Not the coldest weather we’ve suffered through (one year we had what seemed like weeks in the negatives), but it’s still not the kind of weather I enjoy being out in. I prefer the 30s if I’m going to do anything outside in the winter. I didn’t even go outside to snap a picture of the snow but rather took it through the back slider. The flakes have been both tiny and sporadic today, as well as clumped together and coming down fiercely. The sky is a gloomy shade of grey. I’m so glad we have colorfully painted rooms in our home. There’s no way I could handle grey walls all around and a grey sky above and white snow everywhere! Thankfully next week’s weather looks like it’s going to be a little nicer.

I thought I would share an older project today as I’m still hip deep in scraps and haven’t completed my latest scrap quilt top yet.

Let’s travel back to, I think, 1999 or 2000. I know my eldest was just a baby when I completed this project. My mom and I worked on these hangings together. Way back then I would schlep my sewing machine over to my parents’ house and we would work together on projects while my dad and the baby would nap away in the Lazy Boy.

The pattern was Cardinals by Connie D. Roys of Pine Meadows Designs. There were three patterns provided that included cardinals in either summer, winter, or fall. Now you might think that we’d be all about the bright summer option or the equally colorful fall option since we get plenty of winter and see plenty of snow, but you’d be wrong. We chose to sew cardinals in a winter scene. (Speaking of cardinals, I can’t think of the last time I saw one in the winter or any other season.)

An interesting trick we learned from a woman at the quilt shop where we purchased our fabric was to use the same fabric for the red bird’s body and wings but to use the reverse/wrong side of the fabric for the body portion. I’d never considered using the wrong side of the fabric before and haven’t done so since, but it worked for this project.

I like to bring this hanging out after Christmas and leave it up until it’s time for Easter decorations.

(In case you’re interested, we used a stick for hanging it that my husband painted with polyurethane. Sticks make cute hangers, though with their natural curves it can be interesting to get the project to hang straight on the wall!)