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.

Christmas Quilt ~ in July

As summers go, we have had a relatively mild summer. That’s to say we have not had weeks of continuous temperatures above 100. When I was teaching, this part of July was when I was already busy preparing for a new school year. This July, I have decided to prepare for Christmas. Today, I started on a Christmas quilt. I am making the Cozy Quilt Strip Tube Tannenbaum from the pattern design of Daniela Stout. I chose this pattern because I have never made a strip tube quilt, and I thought it would be interesting to try out. I found a great tutorial by Donna Jordan of Jordan Fabrics. I am such a visual learner, and the video tutorial provided the help I needed to understand the pattern. Since I did not use a jelly roll, I needed help in double checking my fabric calculations. Nancy, at Mesquite Bean, helped me with figuring this out.
This morning, I cut the background fabric and the strips.

This afternoon, it took just about thirty minutes to make the three sets of tubes.

Maybe after I finish running errands tomorrow, I might be able to use my new strip tube ruler to cut the blocks. I might even play some Christmas music for motivation. 🎄

I Love Tuesdays

Every Tuesday, I head over to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens for Tai Chi classes. Ming Xie is a delightful and very patient instructor. I am not the most coordinated of students, but everyone there makes the class enjoyable.
It just so happens that the botanical gardens happen to be on the SAME street, a few miles south of one of my favorite quilt shops, the Mesquite Bean. It also happens to be U.F.O. Tuesday at the shop. The back room is filled with quilters working on projects. As I drive pass the quilt shop on my way to the gardens, I tell myself that I will skip the quilt shop this time. But on the way back, my car just pulls in the parking lot…every time. I have been pretty good about sticking to a budget and just going to visit with the quilters and staff. Joy and Nancy are two staff members who are always so helpful and generous with sharing ideas.
Today, Nancy helped me select some fabric for the Christmas tree quilt I plan to start soon. I had purchased some fabric on my Fayetteville trip, but I needed just a bit more. Nancy also helped me read through the pattern and gave me some tips for making this tubular quilt.
I also purchased fabric to complete the Batman Baby quilt.
You can see why I love Tuesdays.
I finished piecing the top.
I chose this super light flannel for the backing.

Boro Stitching

Recently, I have become interested in boro and sashiko stitching. I had been viewing different tutorials and talking to my friends at the quilt shops. Francine, at Las Colchas, offers classes in sashiko. Joy, at Mesquite Bean, got me started on boro stitching. They have a free Tuesday where people can come work on projects in the back room of the store. I had purchased a Moda , boro findings, flax woven messenger bag at the Mesquite Bean. Joy and I discussed how I could boro stitch to decorate the bag. Boro actually means “tattered”, and the original purpose for boro stitching was for mending. However, for the messenger bag, I wanted to use some boro fat quarters by Moda. This was my first attempt, and I totally enjoyed the process. There is something so relaxing in making the simple stitches.
Since the messenger bag is lined, I decided to place the boro fat quarters on muslin and stitch onto the muslin. I then was able to attach the stitched muslin to the bag with an outlining stitch. It started out as a blanket stitch and ended up in some sort of stitch of my own creation, since I didn’t know what I was doing. 😁 I also tacked in with some simple stitches throughout the muslin square.

I made some fabric flowers and now I am trying to figure out how to attach them to the bag.

I am also working on a different piece. This time, I added up-cycled denim pieces to the boro Moda fabric. I do not know how or if this piece will be used.