Memorial Day

Thank you to Laura Bruno Lilly for her Memorial Day post. It is a loving tribute to our veterans and also to all of the souls we have lost to Covid-19. I read this post after I had seen TV coverage of people crowding on beaches, not practicing social distancing, and not caring for the welfare of others. Laura’s post reminded me that we are better than this. There are people who care for others. Thank you, Laura.

I would also like to thank everyone who responded to my post asking for ideas and ways to handle the creative block I was experiencing. Thanks for your support.

Most of last night was spent watching the weather radar, as we were under a tornado warning. My home is in the northeast part of town. Our neighborhood was included in the southern border of the tornado warning area. It got pretty rockin’ and rollin’ for about an hour. A tornado did hit the northwest part of town. This morning was spent cleaning debris off the lawns and street. We were lucky. Another storm is expected tonight, so I have my fingers crossed.

Yesterday was dry for most of the day, so I got to go for  a walk and then a drive. When I returned home, I made two mini messenger bike bags for my grandchildren. The pattern is from Sew She Can Sew . My DIL, Shenika, had told me about this website. The site offers many free patterns. It took about an hour and a half to make both of the bags.

Since everything is pretty much soggy and muddy, I stayed in today. I spent a few hours making another Halloween quilt. I had already made two Halloween quilts for my younger grandchildren. One was a Turning Twenty pattern, and the other was the Show Biz pattern by Villa Rosa Designs. The quilt I made today is Batty, from a Running Doe Pattern. I had seen the pattern at the Mesquite Bean back in January. My grandbaby’s room is decorated with the Batman theme, so I thought a Batty Halloween quilt would be perfect for him. Last week, I called Joy, my friend who works at the Mesquite Bean. Joy is absolutely fantastic. She pulled fabrics for me and sent photos so that I could choose what I wanted. She also worked the math in figuring out how to adapt the pattern. Instead of making it a 56″ X 70″ quilt, I made a 56″ X 56″ quilt.

Rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week, but it is mostly storms at night. Hopefully, I will be able to get out for a walk tomorrow.

Stay safe.

North Star

My friend, Linda Jennings, has a working relationship with the Mesquite Bean for picking up and dropping off quilts that she longarms for clients. I went to pick up one of my quilts today and was brought to tears.
The shop, which is usually bustling with people on a Thursday, was dark. Only the owner and one staff person were inside. The shop has cancelled all classes. For now, they are open for two hours and offer a drive-through service for picking up fabric. They don’t know how long they will continue with this schedule.
I have been listening to the news and practicing social distancing. I order curb-side groceries, of which there is limited supply. Yet, the site of this beautiful shop, in the dark, with none of the usual happy faces, was a hard-hitting dose of reality. Cindy, the owner, said I could shop if I wanted to do so. So, I took one last fabric shopping trip, all by myself. We left the shop assuring ourselves we would get through this.
It is not just the fact that a quilt shop is closed.
It is the reality of what is happening to our lives as we know it.
My concern is for the future of my grandchildren.
We will get through this if we get smart. We need to all be accountable for our actions and hold our government officials accountable.
I have gone the gamut of emotions from sadness, to anger, to hope.
My sons remind me that worrying is not helpful.
I read from Martha Karelius’s book, You, Improved ; A Daily Dose of Inspiration.
Today’s reading is about finding your North Star. Your North Star is your fixed purpose. The passage reminds us to not give up. “ The storm will pass, the clouds will clear, and  you will find your guiding light. Keep it in your sights everyday.”

I hope all of you stay safe, positive, and  healthy.

Minecraft Quilt

Last November, I started piecing a quilt using a free pattern by Kelli Fannin. I appreciate the generous sharing of such a great pattern, design, and instructions. The Minecraft quilt front is made of 12″inch blocks representing the characters in this video game. Fat quarters of the Minecraft colors were used to make the blocks. The blocks and the sashing were fun and easy to make.
The major problem that I had was when it was time to sew the rows of blocks together. I sewed the top three rows together, and then sewed the last two rows as a section. When I went to sew the bottom rows section to the top section, I realized that the bottom section was wider than the top section. I do not know where the mistake was made. I checked and re-checked the sizes of the blocks and the sashing, and all resulted in the correct measurements. It was so frustrating. This was right before the Christmas  holidays, so, I packed everything in a box and put it away for a better day.
In mid-January, I pulled everything out and started problem solving. I did not want to rip and redo. A bit of trimming helped to make things more square, but the bottom was still wider than the top. I could not cut anymore without damaging the face on the blocks. I put my Math Hat on and started making calculations for taking in seams without having to rip all of the seams. When I had some numbers with which to work, I took the quilt sections to the Mesquite Bean. I knew I would get some excellent advice. Nancy works at the Mesquite Bean, and she is one of my go-to people. We brainstormed and she showed me how I could take in a bit of each seam from the bottom section to make the blocks and sashing line up correctly. There were also other quilters in the store who gave their two cents of information and ideas. I love the way quilters are so willing to help. I know that Nancy likes chocolate chip cookies, so I made sure she got some the next time I went to visit her at the shop.
After the top was pieced, I started piecing the dragon for the backing. The dragon was made in three sections. The challenge with the dragon was the number of small pieces in different colors. The pieces ranged in sizes from 1.5″ to 7.7″ x 24″. Once the dragon was completed, the next problem was building a backing above, below, and on the sides of the dragon section. Once again, I put on my Math Hat. Then I went to Nancy for her to check my numbers. I also needed some fabric for the binding. I had bought some yardage of a licensed Minecraft Fabric. There was not enough for the whole backing, so I had to piece. Even though this was a quilt filled with challenges, I ended up enjoying making this quilt. I always used to tell my students that it is fun to learn, and I found this quilt to be a fun learning process. Now, I have to sew the binding…not my favorite part. But, I cannot wait to see the faces of the recipients of this quilt.

Never Say Never

One of the quilts I made in my first year of piecing quilts, was a Darth Vadar quilt. This quilt was made of over 200 squares that were 2.5″. I was happy with the results, but upon completion, I said, “Never again!” Piecing such small squares with accuracy, when it was only about the third or fourth quilt I ever pieced, was absolutely challenging. Well, how soon we forget!
Last November, I began piecing a Minecraft quilt. The free pattern is by Kelli Fannin. My hat is off to Kelli! She designed such intricate and true to character blocks. She captured the dimension quality of the Minecraft game. The blocks are designed to resemble the characters of the game. The 12.5″ blocks were easy enough to make. Kelli also designed a pattern for the Ender Dragon. She used this piece as part of the backing. I decided to give it a try. The sections for the dragon were made of pieces running the gamut of sizes from 1.5″ squares to 7.5″ x 24.5″ squares. Cutting, sorting, and organizing and keeping track of the pieces just about did me in. I cut and pieced only one section at a time. It took me three days, one for each of the sections. I just about called it quits today, when I realized I had sewn in a row in the wrong spot. After a coffee break, I got back to it. I am happy to say I finished the dragon.
Now, I have to figure out how to finish piecing the back. My original plan was to make more character blocks that Kelli provides. However, I thought that this might distract from the dragon being a focal point. Also, I am a bit tired of cutting the tiny pieces that are required in making more character blocks. I had purchased some Minecraft fabric that might be enough to use to frame the dragon. I have pieced a backing for some of my quilts, but usually, the pieces were all the same size. The dragon is about 5 inches shorter than the width of the quilt. Then, I have to account for the extra fabric for quilting. I have crunched some numbers, but I am still unsure as to what to do. My best bet is to visit my friends at the Mesquite Bean and ask for help. On Tuesdays, they have an open sewing room in the back. There will be plenty of quilters ready and willing to give advice.

Friday

This new year, I am finding that I am not as organized as I would like to be. I have a rough idea of projects and things I want to do; but nothing is set in stone. I still have not figured out what to do about the problem I am having with no more space for photos on my blog. Tierney sent me the link where she explains her photo management. Thanks, Tierney! The problem is how to change the situation as it stands now. I had already upgraded once, but I took up all the space with those unedited photos. I have to consult with my sons to see what, if anything, can be done.

One of my interests for this year is to learn embroidery stitches. Two of the local quilt shops I visit are each having Sue Spargo embroidery classes, but it seems I can never make it to any of the classes. I am trying out new stitches on my own and making small art pieces. One of the pieces I embroidered was a selfie for 2020. The other piece was a combination of techniques. I drew a bird on muslin, and used water color pencils to add color. I sewed some burlap onto a leftover floral charm fabric. Then I added a silk backing. I am also working on another piece where I embroidered the dove, tree, heart, and butterfly that I drew on some linen blend. I am liking this project better than the 365 Day Button and Embroidery project that I started. In this project, a button and or stitches is added on each day of the year.

My Meemaw friends and I had a Wabi-Sabi day, last Sunday. Three of us decided to use these Wabi-Sabi days to work on new quilts. The fourth buddy is helping with whatever needs to be done. Since I had just returned from out-of-town, I did not have anything ready for the quilt I was planning. Instead, I helped my friend cut and get ready to piece her first quilt. This past Monday, I visited Las Colchas to get the fabric for my next quilt. The shop has a great selection of Tex-Mex prints. I have been wanting to make a quilt to celebrate my family culture and heritage. I chose a pattern from the book, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking by Jane Brocket. The book was loaned to me by one of the Meemaws. She recommended one of the quilt patterns that she had chosen from this book to make a quilt for herself. She thought that the pattern would showcase the vibrant color and design of the Tex-Mex fabric, and I totally agree. I pieced the backing for this quilt, using a fabric which features milagros.

I am also working on a Minecraft quilt. The free pattern is by Kelli Fannin. In November, I had pieced the top three rows, and the bottom two rows. When I went to attach the two parts, I realized I was off. The bottom piece was wider than the top. After fooling with it a bit, I threw it in the This-Is-Driving-Me-Crazy bin. I pulled it out this past Tuesday, and took it to the Mesquite Bean. The helpful people at this shop gave me some suggestions that would require minimal rip and sew. Thanks to these friends, I was able to piece the top together today. Kelli Fannin created a dragon block for the backing. I plan to try this out tomorrow.
Note: Phyllis, if you are reading this blog, this quilt is a secret!

Last week, while in Round Rock, I went on a birding walk around the lake where one of my sons lives. It was my first birding walk for the year. Then, this Wednesday, the Meemaws went on a birding walk by the river in the King William area of San Antonio. So far, I have seen 21 different species of birds this year. Bird watching is so exciting!

*In the video, the linen blend that I used for the embroidery projects, shows an exaggerated version of the fabric. The fabric is really not that grainy.

Saturday

Since today was Small Business Saturday, I visited my two favorite quilt shops in San Antonio. My friend, Francine, is the owner of Las Colchas. She and Toni opened the shop in 1981. The shop is filled with gorgeous fabric, sewing notions, and patterns. The best part of visiting with Francine is the inspiration and encouragement that she offers. Many times, I have gone into the shop with nothing more than a simple idea. Francine helps to grow, visualize, and develop my ideas. Her main advice is to just play and have fun. As I was selecting fabric, I ran across a sample table runner they had on display. It is a very simple pattern, In the Meadow, by Creek Side Stitches. What caught my eye about this cute snowman table runner, was that Toni had hand quilted it. One of my goals is to some day hand quilt a lap sized quilt. I have done a bit of hand quilting, but only on small art projects. Toni gave me some helpful hints and encouragement to try hand quilting. I was able to piece the table runner this afternoon. I plan to start hand quilting it tomorrow.

I also visited the Mesquite Bean, where I was able to find more fabric for some future projects. The shop was super busy, so I was not able to touch base with one of the many helpful employees there. I will be returning there soon, since I need advice on one of the quilts that I have in progress.

Before Thanksgiving, I made some pouches for my Meemaw friends. The Clown Car is getting ready for a trip to Round Rock, Georgetown, and Salado, Texas. We plan to attend the Christmas Strolls and visit the downtown shops in all three of these cities. The pouches will be used for our travel snacks. I used the pattern and tutorial by Marcela’s Purse.


I also painted a rock for our trip. It needs some touch up painting because the black marker smeared when I brushed on the Modge Podge.

The temperature today hit 76. I set the mood with Christmas music so I could finish binding my Christmas quilt. I’ll just drape it over the sofa to add to the Christmas decor.

I hope you enjoyed your Saturday.

Two Down…One More to Go

It feels good to have finished binding two large quilts. It took two days on each quilt, but it got done.

This is the Tannenbaum quilt that I made for my daughter-in-law’s sister. I purchased some of this fabric when I was in Fayetteville. The rest was purchased at the Mesquite Bean. The pattern called for an all white background, but I added color to the top corners.

I made a special quilt label with a picture of the sisters when they were children.

I will post the picture of the second quilt after I gift it.  My quilting friend used extra thick batting for this quilt and it is super comfy.
In between binding, I have been making quilted fabric pouches. These pouches are so easy and fun to make. I plan on making a fabric journal for my collection of button pins. The front and back cover for the journal will be these pouches.

Ready to Go

Even though I make it a point to clean up my sewing room each time I use it, the room still gets out of control. This week, I have been making numerous small projects. I finished with all of them today, and the sewing room was a mess.

Since I plan on starting on a new quilt tomorrow, it was time to do a major cleaning and reorganization of my sewing room. I love the excitement that comes with planning and starting a new quilt. I have never made an attic window quilt, so I am looking forward to trying it out. I have been looking at different pictures and tutorials of the attic window quilt, and I have finally decided on the one I want to make. I drew the blocks on graph paper, and took the plans to my friend at the Mesquite Bean. She helped to figure out the amount of fabric I would need. Since I tend to miscalculate, I wanted her input. I found some great fabric at the Mesquite Bean to make the attic box around the trademark character fabric.

I plan on making four rows of three blocks. There will be 2″sashing, a 1″ inner border, and a 6″ outer border.

One of the small projects I completed today was a shopping bag for my daughter-in-law who is a seamstress, crafter, and quilter. I used the Time to Go Shopping Sack pattern by Fishsticks. ( I just read that Fishsticks is going out of business.)

My daughter-in-law loves anything Halloween, so I am including a Quilter’s World magazine I saw when I was grocery shopping. The magazine fits very nicely in the shopping bag. The Quilted Tricks & Treats issue has 22 fun projects. There is a wall hanging with haunted houses that I was tempted to make myself, but my To-Do list for August and September is already too long.

My room is all set up and ready to go. Hopefully, I can start fussy cutting the character fabric for the attic window quilt tomorrow. I also want to work on some of the blocks for my house quilt. I had purchased some Halloween fabric for another project, and I was able to fussy cut some of the Halloween characters for the house doorways.

No More Pinterest

Yesterday was Movie Monday for me. I started my day by watching old movies to relax, before I went onto business. After a busy afternoon of errands, I went to my computer. I had not visited Pinterest for some time now, so I thought I would just glance through. Too many minutes later, I had a list of new projects that I thought would be fun. I especially liked this Christmas quilt made by Angie, from The Little Fabric Blog.
Who needs another Christmas quilt? I don’t need one, but I do want one.

The pictures and directions for the quilt are very easy. Angie adds a link to Allison from Cluck, Cluck, SewOn this link, Allison gives a tutorial on Stack n’Whack Blocks. I had some Christmas fabric that I purchased at the B & B Quilt Shop the last time I was in Buda, Texas. Then I remembered seeing some great fabrics at the Mesquite Bean that I knew would coordinate well with what I had in my stash. Since the Mesquite Bean is on the same road as my exercise class, I stopped by to pick up a few more fabric pieces. I completed the first step of cutting 9″ blocks. I will stack and whack them tomorrow.
Note to Self: No More Pinterest

Something New

This morning, I was able to complete The Tannebaum strip tube quilt top. I delivered the top to my friend, Jeana, for long-arming. After cleaning up my work space, I revisited a small project I started yesterday.
One of my goals is to make a collage quilt. I have been interested in doing this ever since I saw some art pieces by Shannon Brinkley. I discovered another fabric collage artist, Laura Heine, on one of my visits to the Mesquite Bean. The quilt shop is having collage classes taught by Vicky, who is certified to teach the Laura Heine method. Unfortunately, I can only make the introduction class, and not the class where the actual quilt is to be made. Vicky is the person who helped me make my first quilt.
In the meantime, since I cannot make the classes, I viewed some videos and thought I would give it a try on a very small scale. I fussy cut pieces from 5 different fabrics for the hummingbird. Then, I fussy cut some Kaffe Fassette flowers. I used fabric glue instead of backing the fabric with Steam-a-Seam 2 double sided fusible web. If I were to make a larger project, I would use the fusible web.
I am still having difficulty with free motion quilting. I can never seem to get the right tension. I have more control when I am FMQ, but I still do not know what I am doing. I thread-sketched the fabric I used for the bird and the flowers. I thought I had enough flowers tucked into the corner, but apparently not. The flowers look like they are suspended in the air along with the bird. Maybe I can add some more flowers tomorrow. The bee was fussy cut from a remnant.
The inspiration for the hummingbird came from the time I spent at my friend’s house. Marti’s backyard is bird heaven. There were blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, doves, and hummingbirds happily visiting and co-exiting in her yard. This was a fun learning piece.