New Orleans House Project

Friday, June 18, 2021

Summer's Here

Summer has descended on New Orleans in classic fashion:  daytime high temperatures in the mid-90s with corresponding high humidity.  Cooling afternoon thunderstorms that may or may not reach your neighborhood.  Tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tomato season (see previous post) comes to an end when the weather gets too hot for the tomato plants to flourish.  Unfortunately for us, this year's tomato season has been a bust - and I haven't had a single tomato sandwich!

In less than 24 hours, Tomato Hornworms devoured the tomato plants we grow in pots here in town.  I had never heard of these guys until I spied them on the tomato plant remains and Googled them.  Not only did they eat the best tomatoes we had going, but they stripped the plants of all leaves, too.  Dear Hubby was so upset, he picked off every one of them and took great pleasure in squishing them underfoot!

A few days later, I found these guys eating my parsley - again, stripping the plants down to the nubs!  Turns out, these are Parsley Worms or Caterpillars.  They eventually turn into Swallowtail Butterflies, but I didn't want to see all my parsley destroyed just to meet their needs (there were about a half dozen of them).  Into a tin of soapy water they went.  I still have a little parsley left - hopefully it will grow back.

We also grow tomatoes at our camp in Mississippi.  Unfortunately, the mockingbirds made a fine feast of most of the tomatoes there!  

Even the Creole tomatoes from the Farmer's Market weren't all that good this year - too mushy and not much flavor.  Sigh.

Fortunately, there is always plenty of quilty stuff around the house to keep me happy.  A UFO had been calling out to me, so I pulled out the parts and pieces and proceeded to play.

I started making four inch Sawtooth Star blocks back in 2015 as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  After a year or so of making the blocks, I had a good-sized stash and a plan to use them in a medallion-style quilt with an appliqué center.  It took a few more years (!) to come up with a plan for the appliqué block, but I finally had my plan ready.

Fabric selection was fun...and messy!

Here's the final arrangement pinned in place.  The block is from the book Friendship's Garden, by Alma Allen and Cherie Ralston.

Now everything is all stitched up and I'm contemplating the next step.  I used machine appliqué for the center block.  The quilt measures 44 inches square at this point.  The quilt is telling me another border (maybe two?) is needed, but it's not saying what that border should be.  Back to playing with fabrics and scraps, I guess!


Sunday, May 30, 2021

May Mini: It's Tomato Season!

 This month's mini quilt was inspired by two of Barb Vedder's (Fun with Barb) recent mini quilts:  Quarantini and Eggsotica.  Both feature the use of simple shapes as a fun way to play with design, color, and quilting technique.

After reading Barb's Eggsotica blog post, I got to musing about what simple shape would be meaningful to me in a similar mini quilt experiment.  Since tomato season was just getting started here in South Louisiana, tomatoes seemed like a fun idea for experimentation.

New Orleanians love their Creole Tomatoes.  Creole doesn't refer to a tomato breed, but instead is a reference to where the tomatoes are grown.  The rich, alluvial soil of the lower Mississippi delta produces richly flavored, juicy tomatoes.  

After playing with tomato shapes for awhile, I realized my tomatoes wanted to tell a story.  Specifically, a tomato sandwich story.  

I didn't learn to appreciate tomato sandwiches until I was a young adult.  A friend from Alabama introduced me to them one summer day, and I became an instant fan.  A traditional tomato sandwich is nothing but juicy, ripe tomato slices, soft white bread, mayonnaise, and a little salt and pepper seasoning.   Like everything, there are lots of variations, but that's the original recipe.

By now my mini quilt experiment had strayed a bit from the original simple shapes, but I was off and running.  Raw-edge appliqué was the best choice for all the shapes I wanted to use.  The appliqué edges were zig-zag stitched with invisible thread.  I even added a bit of machine embroidery to my mayonnaise jar, because a tomato sandwich really needs to "bring out the best"!  😃

I had wanted to experiment with Barb's matchstick-style quilting, but after trying it on some practice blocks, it just didn't do anything for the quilt.  I wound up doing outline quilting around the blocks and the appliqué shapes, using Aurifil 28wt thread.  The finished quilt measures 14 inches x 14 inches.

I had a perfect piece of backing fabric in the stash, an ode to tomatoes by Hoodie Crescent.

And a perfect location for a label!

Many thanks to Barb for the inspiration and to Wendy (The Constant Quilter) for encouraging monthly mini playtime!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Rainbow Scrappy Red

  I have not been doing much new Rainbow Scrap Challenge sewing this year.  I have been trying to make at least two Sugar Loaf blocks (aka Flashes of Brilliance/APQ October 2915) each month using the RSC colors.  This month's color was red, so I had fun trying to put together light and dark scrappy strips for the blocks.

I guess this selection of fabrics didn't provide high contrast, but I like the result anyway.

When I look at this block out of the corner of my eye, I'm reminded of Pizza Margherita!

And with the leftover bits, I made some Easy Breezy blocks.

Looking forward to a new color challenge for next month's blocks!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Scrappy 4 Life!

 My favorite kind of quilts are scrappy quilts - and I have a new favorite quilt to share with you!

I present my version of Tonya Ricucci's Lego quilt, which I call Scrappy 4 Life!

Scrappy is made from 1.5 inch scraps of various lengths, stitched together into rows and then blocks.  I spent many soothing hours piecing scraps together with my trusty Singer Model 15 treadle.  

I'm not sure when I started assembling these rows of scraps, but I believe it was in 2015.  There are years and years of scraps in this quilt, and every time I examine the fabrics I get a smile on my face!

Last year I decided the quilt was at a good stopping point, measuring about 70 inches x 80 inches.

I sent it off to Diane Knott of Butterfly Threads Quilting for some long-arm magic.

The quilting is gentle swirls, which softens all the lines and angles in the piecing.

The blue binding with gold stars was made years ago for some other project and then never used.  Thanks to my newfound skill at machine binding, the quilt was finished in record time!  I did do a little hand stitching to add a label  to commemorate the quilt's inspiration and construction.

This is no quilt to hang on the wall and admire.  I plan to use it heavily (and maybe even let the dog sleep on it), and enjoy all the quilting memories!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Quilt Memories

 I'm lucky to have several family quilts, although my family disagrees about who made the quilts!

My mom insists the quilts were made by her maternal grandmother, Bertha Juliana Hoffman Sommerfield.  My mom's family lived with Grandmother Sommerfield for many years during her childhood, but she doesn't remember quilting being done during those years.  Mom thinks the quilts were made later, when Grandmother Sommerfield (my great-grandmother) was living on her own.

My mom's sister insists all the quilts were made by their mother, Norma Gerke Sommerfield.  Their mom worked full time most of her life, not retiring until the early 1970s.  

As a child, I was lucky to be able to spend plenty of time with both my great-grandmother and grandmother, but I don't remember either of them sewing, quilting, or even having quilts on display.  OK, I was only two in this picture, but my Great-grandmother Sommerfield was around for many more years.  The lady on the right is another great-grandmother, Myrtle Ludeking Gerke.

All the quilts passed on to me contain mostly feed sack-type fabrics, and use the patterns and colors typical of quilts from the 1930s and 1940s.  I blogged about two of them here and here.

I've always wondered if the quilts were made from kits, as I don't think either grandmother would have had a scrap basket with so many different fabrics.

The remaining two quilts have seen heavy use. 

Yes, this Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt ~is~ that faded!

I had this quilt on my bed during my teenage years, and dragged it off to nursing school when I left home.  It was washed regularly.  Some of the fabrics are beginning to shred, and the binding is coming loose, but otherwise, the quilt is in pretty good shape.

I have always enjoyed examining all the different fabrics in the quilt!

The backing is solid pink.  The long edges of the quilt were turned in following the scallops and slip-stitched; the short edges have applied binding.  The quilt measures approximately 82 inches by 74 inches.  Hand quilted inside each hexagon.

I rescued this Dresden Plate quilt from the back of my dad's truck.  Prior to that, it had spent years on my sister's bed.  

The fabrics are quite faded, and in some cases, shredded.

Regular washing and hanging to dry in the Florida sunshine will definitely fade fabrics over time!

The quilt back is a soft blue and white print.  This one was also hand quilted.  Approximate size: 75 inches by 68 inches.

I love having these tangible memories of my grandmothers, regardless of who made the quilts!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

April Digest

 Although I spent a large chunk of April focused on finishing the T-Shirt Quiltathon, I also managed to work on a few other projects.

During one of our recent phone calls, my mom mentioned buying paper napkins.  I realized I had never made her any cloth napkins, so I got busy and pulled some fun prints and started stitching.

Once I got started, I was on a roll and made some for my sister, too.

Dear Hubby and I (and McKenzie, our dog), took a road trip to Florida last weekend to visit family, so I was able to present each set of napkins in person.  Yay for vaccines!

While I was digging through the flamingo fabric stash to find fabric for my t-shirt quilt pillowcase, this 'mingo fabric spoke up and told me it was ready to be in the spotlight.

I used a tote bag pattern I had pinned to a Pinterest board ages ago.  The pattern is free from the All People Quilt website.  You'll have to register with APC if you want to download a printed version of the pattern.   It's a quick project - you may even be able to make it with supplies on hand.  If I were to make the bag again, I'd add some refinements like an interior pocket (or two) and a magnetic or zipper closure.  

A monthly project this year to to make Sugar Loaf blocks following the Rainbow Scrap Challenge monthly color selection.  April's challenge was to use light blue and bright blue scraps.  I went for the low volume look with this light blue block.

And switching over to bright blues, I put this block together based on the tropical fish (outer row) fabric.

Using scraps from various April projects, I put together some Easy Breezy blocks.

Last but not least, I finally got all the parts and pieces assembled for the 25-patch star quilt top.  

My original plan was to add a plain white border with a narrow strip of the turquoise fabric used for the cornerstones.  But last week, I started hearing whisperings that maybe an appliquéd vine, flower, and leaf border would look good.  I guess that will be a project for May!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

T-Shirt Quiltathon Wrap-up

 I'm doing a happy dance because I've finished the T-shirt Quiltathon!

I finished the final t-shirt quilt in mid-April, but nature and other forces prevented picture-taking until recently.  This quilt is for me, and contains lots of great memories.  I love how the quilting (thanks, Diane Knott!) softens everything - kinda like time makes our memories get hazy!

I found the perfect backing fabric in my stash.  It must have been on sale when I bought it, otherwise why would I have five yards of flamingos?

I've also been clearing out stash fabrics by making pillowcases to store each t-shirt quilt.  Yet another flamingo print got used up!

So, to recap:  I made four approximately twin-sized t-shirt quilts between December 31, 2020 and April 15, 2021.  All four quilts were quilted by Diane Knott of Butterfly Threads Quilting.  Each quilt was finished with machine-stitched binding, a label, and a storage pillowcase.  

The memories are all stitched and stored, and now my quiltathon is done!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

T-Shirt Quiltathon: Three Down, One to Go!

 The T-Shirt Quiltathon is almost complete!

To recap:  on December 31, 2020, I decided to turn four plastic bins full of t-shirts into the quilts I had procrastinated on making for years.  I opted for a simple plan of stabilized t-shirt designs (cut from the front or back of the shirt) with basic sashing, borders and cornerstones.  It didn't take long to assemble four quilts, and I used up some chunks of fabric from my stash in the process.

Dear Hubby had enough t-shirts for two quilts, so I separated them by theme.  

Thanks goodness Diane Knott of Butterfly Threads Quilting agreed to long-arm quilt my creations!  Trying to manipulate these guys on a domestic sewing machine would have been a pain.

Once the quilts were quilted, I started making LOTS of bias binding.  Using the machine binding techniques I had recently practiced, I was able to get the bindings completed in relatively short order.  

Dear Son David's quilt was so big I had to fold it over the gate for a picture.

Dear Hubby's second quilt has t-shirts that celebrate life and vacations in Florida. 

I debated labeling these quilts, since I consider them just a step above utility quilts.  Labels won out, in part because of the memories reflected in all the t-shirts.

I found the perfect size scrap of baseball fabric for my hubby's sports-themed quilt.  The gray and blue zig-zag fabric I used for the backing was also a fortuitous find in the stash.

David is a fan of puns, so I thought he would appreciate this musical name for his quilt.

I haven't finished the label for hubby's vacation quilt, but it will include this last bit of t-shirt remnant.  The backing fabric on this quilt is from Fabric Finders, a regional fabric firm that makes lots of fabrics with Louisiana themes.

There's only one t-shirt quilt left to bind and label - of course I saved mine for last.  We're in for a spate of stormy weather over the next couple of days, so I have the perfect Stay Home and Sew project!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

March Mini

 Over the years, I have accumulated a stash of mini quilt tops that for one reason or another, never got quilted and finished.  I turn to this stash when I need a practice project or just the satisfaction of a quickly finished project.

Since January, I've been working on a batch of t-shirt quilts - a project meant to empty out plastic bins full of t-shirts waiting to "some day" be turned into quilts.  

Thinking about four large t-shirt quilts in need of binding, I decided it was time to perfect my machine binding technique!

After trying out the technique with some practice machine quilting squares and left-over binding scraps, I decided it was time to try binding a "real" project.

From the stash, I chose a mini quilt top in bright spring colors.  After some quick straight-line quilting, I was ready to add the green binding.

The method I use for machine binding is the opposite of traditional binding:  the binding is stitched to the back of the quilt, then folded over and machine-stitched to the top of the quilt.  Appliqué glue is a great way to hold the binding in place prior to stitching.

I use my handy-dandy edge stitch foot to guide the line of top stitching close to the edge of the binding.  For this mini quilt, I used matching thread and a straight stitch, but this binding technique would also lend itself to decorative threads and stitches.

Here's a close-up of the finished, top-stitched binding.

Now I have a cute ~finished~ mini quilt on which to display some vintage flamingos! 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Spring Scraps

Usually, it's quilts and fabric making the loudest clamor at my house.  This month however, other projects have crowded out the quilts.

Circa 1990s kitchen

For example, we've decided to go ahead with last year's plan to update our kitchen with new cabinets.  Turns out, during the pandemic everyone decided to update their kitchen and now there's a looong wait time for supplies and contractors.  We're going to proceed, but with the understanding this project may not come to fruition quickly.  Hmm, sounds like the quilt-making process!

Louisiana Iris in bloom

Then there's gardening.  The unusual hard freeze in February damaged some of our landscaping, so there was that to deal with.  Plus, in our neck of the woods it's now time for planting veggies, so we've been busy with that as well.

Best of all - socializing!!  Good friends and former neighbors from Florida drove over for a long weekend.  We've all been vaccinated and passed the immunity waiting period, so it was a joy to have guests in our home!  Next up:  my mom just got her second vaccine, so a trip to visit her is on the horizon.

I did manage to spend some quality time working on quilts this week, and it was lovely!  I focused on catching up with some Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects.

I've been trying to finish this quilt featuring bright prints in rainbow colors.  My original plan was to use random print setting squares at the intersecting sashing points.  However, after getting all the blocks pinned to the design wall I decided they needed something to pull them all together.  I found a dark teal Moda Grunge fabric in my stash that makes a great setting square.  I needed to order more of the fabric online, so while waiting I assembled all the rows.  

One of my year-long projects for 2021 is making Sugar Loaf blocks following the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color order.  Yellow was February's color. 

Yellow Sugar Loaf block #2.  The pattern for these blocks is from American Patchwork & Quilting, October 2015.

And some Easy Peasy Breezy blocks made with 2 inch scraps.

Moving on to green, the March Rainbow Scrap Challenge color.  This pattern uses strip piecing and it's been a challenge to find scrappy chunks and fat quarters to meet the fabric requirements.  Strips need to be at least 20 inches long, so that rules out lots of scrappy bits.

I was determined to use that shamrock fabric in one of the green Sugar Loaf blocks; this is what happened!

More Easy Breezy blocks.  

I'm ready for the April RSC color.  Bring it on!