New Orleans House Project

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hospital Sketches BOM: Shift Change

I finished up the last Hospital Sketches appliqué block - Star of the East - earlier this month. 

I used machine appliqué on the last block,  even though I re-discovered the joy of hand appliqué on this project.  Sometimes you just need to get things finished, and machine appliqué definitely speeds the process along.

Now that the blocks are finished, I'm a little stuck.  I need some yardage for sashing and/or borders, but I don't have anything suitable in my stash.  The two quilt stores closest to me don't really carry much selection of reproduction or repro-friendly fabrics, so I may be hunting for awhile.

In the meantime, I'll be contemplating Barbara Brackman's newest Civil War-themed appliqué project, Cassandra's Circle.  The latest BOM will have patterns for a much larger quilt - 97 inches - if one completes all the blocks and borders.  I'm not sure I want to undertake a project that large, so I'm not sure if I'll make all the blocks or pick and choose.  Either way, I know I'll enjoy the history lessons presented with each block!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Scrap Life

Angela of Soscrappy has been hosting the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for quite a few years now.  The challenge behind the project is to use up fabric scraps from prior quilt-making efforts.  Despite several years of RSC participation, my collection of scraps has not diminished.  Honestly, that's OK with me, as I don't participate to use UP scraps, but because scrappy quilts are my favorite type of quilt!  

In fact, this month, I decided some new "scraps" were needed, so I pulled lots of fabric bits (which were clogging up the fabric storage drawers) in the RSC theme for January:  light and bright greens.  I sliced everything into standard scrappy sizes:  3.5 inches, 2.5 inches, 2 inches, and 1.5 inches.  I keep all my scrappy strips in plastic bins, ready to be pulled for future scrappy projects.

While I was digging through the bins, I noticed my 1.5 inch strip bin was getting really full.  
That inspired me to start making new blocks for my Lego quilt.  I put this project aside two years ago because I thought my scraps weren't providing enough variety.  
Maybe the scraps of 2020 will be the boost needed to finish this quilt!  I'll keep slicing up new 1.5 inch strips in each monthly RSC color and working them into the Lego quilt blocks.

I started making Carolina Chain blocks last year as a leader-ender project. 
As I was cutting green strips, I sub-cut pieces for some green blocks.  I'll continue working on these blocks in 2020, too.

These Sugar Bowl blocks have been an ongoing RSC project.  My plan was to set the blocks in groups of four, with narrow sashing and a cornerstone in the center of each block.  I assembled a couple blocks in this manner, only to realize the cornerstone drew the eye and the blocks got completely lost.  Out came the seam ripper!

Instead, I opted for a traditional, on-point setting with alternate plain blocks.  I found the perfect fabric for the plain blocks in my stash - and I had enough of it for the entire quilt!
It's a fun fabric, and I'm so happy I found a great use for it!  Now comes the fun of stitching all those pieces together.  

If you love the Scrap Life, be sure to check out the RSC weekly link-up!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Unearthing Treasures

For the past several years, I've used the end of the year to review my quilting plans - past and future.  After digging through all the drawers and bins of fabric, thinking about patterns on my Quilting Bucket List, and taking a hard look at UFOs, I make a list of projects to focus on in the coming year.  I'm not sure this process improves my creativity, but it does help me focus on projects that need completing!

Before I could do any reviewing and planning for 2020, I needed to do some cleaning and organizing in my sewing room.  It took a couple of days to get the worst of the clutter tamed, but now I can access my fabric stash much more easily, and my main work table has been de-cluttered.

The floor of my fabric closet was so cluttered with tote bags, fabric bundles, and projects, I could barely walk around in the closet, much less open the drawers of fabric.  I found a new home for the tote bags, organized the projects into containers, and filed the fabric bundles in a new location.

Reproduction fabrics are stored in this bureau, so I cleared out some additional room and added the repro fabric bundles that had been stashed willy-nilly around the sewing room.  I re-discovered a couple of fabric bundles that are probably close to 20 years old themselves!  Non-repro bundles got stored in a plastic bin next to the bureau.

To help me keep track of all these treasures, I created a spreadsheet in Evernote where I listed info about the fabric collection, including pictures of the fabrics and any inspiration or pattern ideas related to the collection.  The beauty of Evernote is it works across multiple platforms, so I can access that information from my computer as well as any portable devices, i.e. my phone. (I have no affiliation with Evernote, just a satisfied customer.  The app is free, but if you want to use it on multiple devices, you'll need to pay for the Premium upgrade.  Not expensive and worth the investment.)

As I was cleaning up, I came across a couple of well-aged projects that needed scrutiny.  Both projects had started with good intentions, but gotten side-tracked for one reason or another.  

This Mary Engelbreit panel was the basis of a quilt kit I purchased to make for a friend.  That was in 2007!  I decided it was time to at least finish the flimsy and get it on the list of quilts waiting to be quilted.

It didn't take long to finish up - the green scalloped border was machine-appliquéd, as well as the flowers and "notecard" at the bottom right.

Close up of the appliqué.  I'm not sure when or how this will be quilted, but at least it's a flimsy!

Another buried treasure was this batch of antique Lemoyne Star blocks.  I had originally planned to stitch these blocks into a quilt, but on re-examining them I realized the fabrics were too fragile to support any type of re-stitching or quilting.  

Instead, I think I will use the blocks for inspiration and recreate them using current fabrics.  A quick check of the stash convinced me I already have fabrics that mimic the plaids, checks, and prints, so all I need are some solid background fabrics.  

I'd like to say this will be a project for 2020, but there are still more UFOs that need attention, followed by a new BOM from Barbara Brackman, and Diane Knott's sew-along, and Rainbow Scraps, and - well - you get the picture!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Missing in Action

As usual, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s were a blogging break for me.  I don’t necessarily plan it that way, but time and desire to blog seem to disappear during that time frame.  Lucky for me, my quilting mojo didn’t disappear, so I have a few things to report on before we turn the page to a new year.

Our oldest son (Andrew) moved to Denver, Colorado at the beginning of September.  When he left, he only took the stuff he could fit in his car, and left his remaining belongings and dog with us until he could retrieve them later in the year.  He flew home for Thanksgiving, and by Saturday morning we had packed his stuff into Dear Husband’s pick-up truck and headed for Denver (dog included).

I won’t bore you will all of our adventures, but I will say I look forward to flying to Denver next time around!  We came back to New Orleans using a different route in an attempt to avoid some bad traffic congestion along the Texas/New Mexico route.  All told, we traveled 2700 miles and passed through seven states!

Just as we returned, our youngest son (David) flew in from Dallas.  It just so happened to be the perfect time to celebrate David and Dear Husband's December birthdays.  David is also a huge fan of his alma mater's football team - LSU - so his Dallas friends surprised him with an LSU football-themed birthday cake. 

Dear Husband and Bailey
Right before Christmas, our dog Bailey, a black lab mix, succumbed to a rapidly spreading form of cancer.  Bailey came to us as a puppy twelve years ago.  She was left on our front door-step in a basket with pink toys and a pink blanket.  Since she arrived just before my husband’s birthday, he considered her the Best Birthday Present Ever, and they were bonded at the hip.  The house feels pretty empty now, since Andrew’s dog is gone, too.  Our sweetheart yellow lab, McKenzie, doesn’t quite know what to do with herself.

In between all that, I managed to do some stitching here and there.

Project Numero Uno was to finish the black and gold Endless Chain quilt I started for Andrew.  I completed the piecing before Thanksgiving, and Diane Knott (Butterfly Threads Quilting) was able to long-arm quilt it for me while I was adventuring out west.  I’ve been trying to get the binding stitched and label attached so I can send it to Andrew as soon as possible.

I also made some blocks for Barb Vedder’s Oh My Stars swap.  Oops!  I didn’t take any pictures before I sent the finished blocks to Barb.  I did the Modern swap this time, and I’m looking forward to playing with my blocks later in January!

Thinking toward 2020, I knew there were a couple of Rainbow Scrap projects that needed some attention.  I made a batch of yellow Ring of Stars blocks, but I still need red blocks before I can assemble my RSC efforts on this quilt.

I also cut up lots of scraps for Carolina Chain leader-ender blocks.  Some Christmas fabric scraps made it into the latest batch of blocks.

There’s more to share, but I’ll stop here for now.  I’m not in much of a mind to do a retrospective of the quilts of 2019, but I have been giving a lot of thought to what stitching projects will be under the needle in 2020.  Let’s hope it’s a great year for quilting!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Last Look at Treadle On Origami Bow-Tie Blocks

I've posted several times about my Origami Bow-Tie quilt.  The quilt was made with 3-D, or Origami Bow-Tie blocks in an exchange with members of the Treadle On vintage and antique sewing machine group.  The guidelines for the exchange required making the bow-tie blocks using a pre-1900 sewing machine.

My blocks were made on a Singer VS 3 hand-cranked sewing machine from around 1894.  The machine makes a great, smooth straight stitch.  I call her Bertha in honor of my maternal great-grandmother.
The VS in the machine's name stands for Vibrating Shuttle. 

The bullet-shaped shuttle holds the bobbin, and "vibrates" back and forth, catching the thread loop created by the needle and creating the stitches.  

Once I finished machine appliquéing the borders (not on a vintage or antique sewing machine!), I sent the quilt off to my local long-arm quilter, Cindy Braiwick.  I didn't give her a lot of specific instructions on the quilting, so she could get as inspired as she wanted.

I may have already mentioned the emotional attachment I have to this quilt.  The block exchange took place just prior to Hurricane Katrina, and I received my exchanged blocks just as I was about to move back home to New Orleans after being evacuated for about six weeks.

When I picked up the quilt from Cindy after she finished the quilting, I may have gotten a little verklempt.  I was just blown away by what she had done with the quilt!

First, she chose a perfect design for the blow-tie blocks.  Every part of the block was quilted except for the bow tie "knot" - the 3-D part.  

Even better, she really filled in around the appliqué shapes with lots of different designs.

One of my favorites - the feather and heart design shown here.

It took a little while, but I finally finished the binding, sleeve and label for this quilt.  It's hanging on my hallway quilt rack so I can admire it every day!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

October's Five (tiny) Tuesdays

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge for October was to use up dark scraps like browns, blacks, and grays.  I found lots of great scraps to use for Tiny Tuesday blocks - and there were FIVE Tuesdays in October!

Tiny Tuesday block one:  Walking in the Dark 
I had some scraps from the black and gold quilt I'm making for my son Andrew, so I put them to good use!

Week two:  Geese Circle
I used some scraps from a recent Halloween quilt for the second Tiny Tuesday block.  The center square is supposed to be light gray, but there was a perfect skull begging for fussy cutting, so that became the center instead.

Week three:  Jacob's Ladder
This is the base pattern for my son's quilt, so just for fun I made a Tiny Tuesday version.  The pepper fabric has been in my stash for years, and I enjoy using the scraps as often as possible.

Week three:  I Love Chocolate!
I forget the name of this block, but I used some scraps of chocolate bar fabric.  The block was kind of boring with a blank center, so I cut out a chocolate-dipped strawberry and appliquéd it.

Week five:  Cornerstones
Happy Halloween!  These scraps were from a baby quilt I made for my niece, who was born in October.  That "baby" just turned 16 and got her driver's license!

My other Rainbow Scrap projects are on hold for the time being.  I need to focus on getting the black and gold quilt finished so I can give it to my son as soon as possible.  Once that is finished, there are RSC projects calling out to be completed!

Linking up with other scrap lovers at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hospital Sketches BOM: Hand Appliqué

For the past two years or so, I've been trying to perfect my machine appliqué skills.  I wanted to become proficient with machine appliqué because I believed using the sewing machine would help me finish projects more quickly.

My favorite method of machine appliqué is to prep the pieces using the freezer paper and starch method, then stitch the pieces in place using a small zig-zag stitch and fine monofilament or polyester thread.  I relied on a couple of resources to learn this technique:  Barbara Brackman's Quilter's Guide to Fine Machine Appliqué, Kim Diehl's Simple Appliqué, and the classic Mastering Machine Appliqué by Harriet Hargrave.

So there I was, happily stitching down lots of Mountain Laurel leaves for one of the Hospital Sketches BOM blocks, when my sewing machine developed a problem.  I knew I wouldn't be able to take the machine in to get checked out until the following week, so I decided to finish appliquéing the laurel leaves by hand.  

I quickly fell under the spell of hand stitching the appliqué pieces to the background fabric.  I also realized I could easily stitch a piece or two every morning before work - all I needed to do was sit down, thread a needle and stitch.  Somehow it seemed easier than prepping the sewing machine and doing the machine appliqué.  

Once I started to appreciate the soothing effects of hand appliqué, I figured I should try hand stitching another block in the Hospital Sketches BOM.  Tennessee Rose went together easily, especially since I was still using the freezer paper/starch prep method.

This morning I finished the eighth block in the series, Triple Tulips.  Only one more block left to finish for the Hospital Sketches BOM - and I guess I'll be using hand appliqué for that block, too.

Gathered Harvest block from 2018 BOM
Now that I've discovered how much I enjoy the hand appliqué process, I'm already thinking about future hand appliqué projects.  There's 2018's Gathered Harvest BOM that got set aside when Hospital Sketches started, and an Oak Leaf and Reel table runner pattern I've had on my wish list for some time...
This new-found love of hand appliqué seems like it will be a fun and satisfying enterprise.  My only concern is when will I find time for other hand stitching projects - like quilt binding and hand quilting?!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Few More Purple Scraps

September's Rainbow Scrap Challenge color was purple.  After finishing my planned purple scrap blocks, I didn't have a lot of scraps to stitch up blocks for the Parts Department.  Usually, having a month-long focus on a color pushes me to pull bits and pieces from the fabric stash and slice them up into useful sized strips and squares for the scrap bins.  That didn't happen with purple, because I got focused on some other projects.

I did have some two inch squares and strips to turn into 4-patch blocks and Carolina Chain blocks.

I also kept up with making Tiny Tuesday blocks, although I veered off course for two of my blocks.   The top left block is Crow's Foot and the top right block is London Roads - both from Judy Hopkins' 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks.  
The bottom two blocks were provided via Angela's Tiny Tuesday blocks:  Card Trick and Bright Hopes.  

The theme for October scraps is to use dark fabrics like black and brown.  That fits in nicely with one of my non-RSC projects: a black and gold Endless Chain quilt.
My oldest son recently moved to Denver, Colorado.  He requested a black and gold quilt to remind him of home (black and gold being the colors of the New Orleans Saints football team).  This will be a planned scrappy quilt, so I spent some time experimenting with different fabric combinations to see what would work.  I knew my son would not be a huge fan of metallic fabrics, so I stuck with several variations of gold-colored fabric instead.  It reads more like brown in the photograph, but it looks more gold in person.  Instead of cotton batting, I'm planning to use wool - I figure he'll need the warmth!

For more inspiration on using black and brown scraps, be sure to visit the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link up.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Quilty Halloween Fun

On a recent trip to my local quilt shop, Mes Amis, I spied some fun Halloween fabric.  
I knew some of the fabric needed to come home with me, but it was such a large print, I wasn't sure how I would use it in a quilt.  

And really, who could resist this Halloween kitty?!

Of course my quilt shop pals came to my rescue, recommending a pattern called "Awry" by Mountain Peak Creations.  Not exactly the type of pattern I usually want to try, but perfect for the large prints in this group.

Here are a few of the prints from the same group

Yes, those are skulls on the fabric selvedge!

Not quite a quilt in a day project, but definitely a quilt in a weekend.  I stitched on the outer borders this afternoon in between NFL football games.  At this rate, I might actually have the quilt finished in time for Halloween!