New Orleans House Project

Saturday, March 28, 2020

TGFT! (Thank Goodness for Fabric Therapy)

Good morning and welcome to Week Three of "Sewcial Distancing" and Fabric Therapy.  For all the times I may have felt guilty about my pile of UFOs, or the size of my fabric stash - right now I'm grateful to have both.

Oh, and surprisingly grateful for social media, too.  Instagram has been a soothing escape from all the pandemic news/noise.  I have been trying to post there more frequently, mostly to let friends and family know I'm still doing OK (a.helman on Instagram).  My family also uses GroupMe, a group text messaging app, to stay in touch and check up on each other.  The governor of Florida has decreed travelers from Louisiana must be quarantined for at least two weeks, so I couldn't visit my family even if I needed to.

Do your UFOs speak to you?

This batch of swap blocks started calling my name early this week.  I came across the blocks as I was digging through the UFO bin, looking for a different project.  That night, as I was falling asleep, the blocks started making very insistent noises about getting assembled into a flimsy.  

What could I do?  Out came the blocks and soon they were arranged on the design wall and ready for assembly.  This might be one my oldest UFOs, as the blocks date back to 1998-1999.  The block exchange was between the members of the Treadle On mail list - Treadle On being a group for folks who collect and use vintage and antique (non-electric) sewing machines.  

The blocks actually cover two swaps; the first used reproduction-style fabrics, the second used novelty fabrics relating to the block maker's geographic location or other personal interests.  Not only is it a fun catalog of fabric prints from that time, but each block is also inscribed with the maker's name, location, and type of sewing machine.  The blocks are from all over the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe.  The oldest sewing machine dates to the mid-1880s!

I also have an appliqué block I plan to use as the quilt label.  This was my prototype block for a Sunbonnet Sue quilt put together by the Treadle On leader, "Captain" Dick Wightman.  I called the block "A Sewing Machine Named Desire", inspired by Treadle On members' constant hunt for that antique sewing machine that made their heart go pitter-pat.  My appliqué sewing machine is embellished with gold embroidery, including the name "Desire" and a crescent moon and stars (Crescent City being a nickname for New Orleans).

On other fronts, I made 350-something inches of bias binding and attached it to the Full Circle quilt.  I will try to stitch on this a little each morning - avoiding TV news and maybe binge-watching more Outlander.

Christmas prep department:  I put my AccuQuilt Go to work cutting Christmas trees and holly leaves.  I found a bargello table runner pattern online - Dec la Table - and since I had appropriate fabrics already in the stash, decided to give the pattern a try.  I've been wanting to make a bargello or Trip Around the World style table runner ever since I saw Diane D Knott's Mardi Gras table runner!

I didn't follow the exact instructions for the table runner, as the pattern in written to be done quilt-as-you-go style.  I just made the flimsy, then cut out some Accuquilt shapes instead of using the designs in the pattern.  I haven't fused the shapes in place yet.  Plus, I wanted to use metallic thread to outline all the appliqué shapes, but my metallic thread stash is not to be found (I think I pitched them all in a fit of cleaning; all of the threads were old, so probably not a great loss).  If anyone has any metallic thread recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

And now I've spent way too much time in front of my computer, so it's time to move.  I hope everyone is doing well, practicing good health routines, and not running low on toilet paper! 😃







Saturday, March 21, 2020

Fabric (and other) Therapy - Week Two

It's been another week of Fabric Therapy and social distancing.  

New Orleans is pretty shut down now - just about the only things open are grocery stores, pharmacies, and health care providers.  We are the hot spot in the state of Louisiana for COVID-19 infections and deaths.  Last night the mayor issued a Shelter in Place order, but the rules aren't that much different from what most of us are already doing.  


My Dear Husband is on call this weekend, so I decided to head to our camp in Mississippi to do a little spring cleaning.  I've been doing a real deep cleaning, plus re-organizing closets and cabinets; thinning out stuff that never gets used, etc.  I turned on Radio Margaritaville to keep me motivated - happy music and escapism!

I discovered a four-pack of these in the refrigerator while I was cleaning.  We must have purchased them last summer and forgotten about them.  I enjoyed one as I was cleaning, and between the ginger beer and Radio Margaritaville, I had a mini Caribbean vacation.  These are non-alcoholic, but with a little rum, they'd make a great Dark and Stormy!


I wanted to take my English Garden quilt outside for some photographs today. but it's been overcast and raining off and on.  Instead, I put my quilt rack to work and opened all the binds and curtains for as much daylight as possible.  Dear Husband made this quilt display rack several years ago.

My local LAQ, Cindy Braiwick, had a fun time with the quilting.  I tried to photograph her efforts, but the lighting and busy fabric weren't helpful.  She used lots of rose/flower designs, including individual flowers and buds in the background areas of the Sawtooth Star blocks.

Label attached.  I started this quilt in the spring of 2005.  Fifteen years later, I'm loving it!

My binge-watching this week has been Outlander, Seasons 2 and 3.  Not really enjoying Season 3 so far, but I think I'm only on Episode 3.

While binge-watching, I stitched up block 2 of Barbara Brackman's Civil War appliqué BOM:  Cassandra's Circle.  This block is Mulberry Wreath.  I had fun doing the fussy cutting.

And that's the news that's fit to print for now.  I hope everyone continues to stay safe and find helpful coping mechanisms for this stressful time.  Virtual hugs to everyone!








Saturday, March 14, 2020

Fabric Therapy When We Really Need It!

It's been a crazy week, for sure! 

I've been relying on sewing, reading, and binge-watching shows from streaming services to keep down the stress levels.  

One of my goals this year is to make lots of quilt-oriented Christmas gifts.  To that end, I pulled out a well-aged jelly roll (Flurry by Kate Spain) and looked for some inspiration.
I'm not a fan of jelly roll pre-cuts - I think they're too limiting - but I really liked this fabric line, and the jelly roll was ON SALE!  Once I settled on a pattern recipe (this type of pattern is all over the internet), it didn't take long to sub-cut the fabric strips and assemble all the parts.  The border fabric also came from the stash - a Moda Grunge called Sugar Cookie.

I love the crisp, colorful look of the fabrics.  They're festive, but don't scream "Christmas".  Not sure who the lucky recipient will be, but I've made a start on my goal.

I've been making Carolina Chain blocks as a leader-ender project this year.  The Flurry quilt needed lots of leader-enders, so...
I chopped up lots of teal and aqua fabrics, as that's the theme for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  This is just a few of the RSC blocks; I think I'm actually going to end up with enough blocks for two quilts by the end of the year.

I've been working on hand-stitching the binding on this quilt (English Garden by Kaye England).  I decided to get 'er finished this week and dialed up Season 3 of The Crown (Netflix) to keep me entertained while I stitched.  I finished the binding and hanger, just need to appliqué the label and the quilt will be finished.  Pictures soon.

One of my favorite forms of escapist reading is mystery/detective stories.  I think it comes from my childhood love for Nancy Drew.  I've read many different authors over the years and I love finding a new-to-me author with a series of mysteries that capture my imagination.  My latest find is the Tess Monaghan series by Laura Lippman.  Tess is a private investigator in Baltimore, Maryland and I think I enjoy the descriptions of Baltimore (a city much like New Orleans) as much as the detective adventures!

Stay safe out there, everyone! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Cassandra's Circle BOM: Block One

I couldn't resist playing along with Barbara Brackman's 2020 Civil War BOM:  Cassandra's Circle.  

The Civil War history focus for this BOM is the diary of South Carolinian Mary Boykin Chestnut.  

The BOM project itself will be a much larger quilt, including a large center medallion, and an appliquéd border.

I decided to stay with reproduction style fabrics for this year's BOM.  Several years ago, I inadvertently purchased two identical fat quarter collections from Penny Rose Fabrics:  Civil War Times.  I decided to put them to use on this project - I should have plenty of fabric!

The January block, called Washington's Plume, is also the center medallion.  After prepping all the pieces with the freezer paper/starch method, I used invisible stitch machine appliqué to attach the pieces.  As much as I have learned to enjoy hand appliqué, I wanted to get the block finished by the end of the month!

The February block, Mulberry Wreath, was published last week.  I have been contemplating how I can represent the leaves on the wreath using just my fat quarter fabrics, i. e. not adding any green fabric.  Luckily, I just learned a new-to-me appliqué tip from @Red_Alfreda (Mary Jenkins) on Instagram.  
Photocopied fabric
Her tip was to photocopy fabric to help plan how to cut shapes for broderie perse appliqué.  I figured the technique would work for auditioning appliqué shapes, too.


Now I can contemplate which fabric layout I like better before I even cut into my fabric!


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Once More with the Veggie Leftovers

Wendy at The Constant Quilter has been encouraging quilters to make monthly mini quilts for the past few years.  I've always enjoyed seeing what different quilters created each month, but I never thought I would make time for a new quilt (or twelve!) since my pile of UFOs was so huge.

However, after seeing January's mini quilts, I was inspired to at least pull out a small UFO and finish it as my own February mini project.  I don't know if my quilt strictly qualifies as a "mini", since it measures 25 inches on each side, but at least it's now a Finished Object!

My mini UFO started as an exercise in using up waste triangles from an earlier quilt.  I had a batch of small HSTs left after making snowball blocks using these vegetable-dyed, woodblock print fabrics. 

Once the center was complete, I used some striped fabrics from the same collection to make mitered borders.  There wasn't enough of the black and blue stripes to make an entire border, so I used both colors.  

The quilt top needed batting (pieced from scraps), backing (found a piece of light brown floral in my stash), and binding (leftover Moda Grunge binding).  I pinned up the layers, did some outline and ditch quilting, then hand-stitched the binding and added a hanging sleeve.  A quick trip through the wash and some drying and blocking and I now have another project crossed off the UFO list!



Saturday, February 22, 2020

Scrappy Star SAL - Finished!

One of my goals for 2020 is to finish several quilts in the "Needs Binding" queue.  I recently finished hand-stitching the binding and label on this large blue and white quilt and took it to our camp for some photographs.  

I started the quilt in 2017 as part of Diane Knott's Summer Star Sew Along.  I chose the blue, white, and cream color scheme as a way to use up some of my huge blue fabric stash.

I finished the top fairly quickly, but didn't get around to the quilting until last year.  Fortunately, Diane began long-arm quilting during the quilt's hiatus.  It was only appropriate I ask the quilt designer to also do the quilting!  She did a wonderful job of quilting in large, soft swirls.

All that remained was to bind the quilt and add a label.  I found the blue batik binding fabric in my stash, and luckily there was enough to bind the 94 inch x 94 inch quilt!

Now that the quilt is finished, it will have pride of place in my newly-refurbished guest room.  Would you believe I didn't notice the boo-boo in the quilt border until just now as I was reviewing the pictures for this blog entry?!





Saturday, February 15, 2020

A Quilting Time Machine

Now that my oldest son Andrew has moved to Denver, I've been working on returning his bedroom to guest room status.  I started by tackling the walk-in closet, which was in sore need of organizing.  Over the years the closet became a place to stash all manner of stuff - including costumes, clothes, quilts, and keepsakes.  

As I was sorting through the mess, I discovered several quilts I had made for him over the years.  I'm not sure why he left them behind, except maybe he thought they would be safer at our house than with him.  Hmmm.  Anyway, it was a bright, sunny day so I decided to take pictures so I'd have documentation of the quilts.

This is one of the first quilts I made as a beginning quilter, probably in the late 1980s.  I started by making 4-patch blocks, then assembling them in rows.
The layers were machine quilted using gentle curves along the seams.  This was a technique advocated by Robbie Fanning in The Complete Book of Machine Quilting, an early reference for machine quilting. 
In keeping with the animal novelty fabric in the quilt top, I used a leopard print for the back of the quilt.  Interesting to me - I used a wider binding than I typically use now, and I didn't miter the quilt corners!

Another early quilt was this red and green Log Cabin quilt - a Christmas quilt.  Again, not sure on the year it was completed (no label - I'll have to remedy that!), but probably early to mid 1990s.  
I used the services of a local long-arm quilter for this project; I think I wanted to finish it in time for Christmas!
Close-up of the quilting, binding, and backing.  Still using that wide (2.5 inch?) binding.  Amazingly, I still have scraps from this quilt in my stash!

I've shared the story of this quilt before.  Andrew took this quilt with him to Denver, but I'm including it here as it's part of the story.

This memory quilt has also been documented on the blog.  I know Andrew was worried about his dog chewing on this quilt (see the red and black quilt above), so he kept it stashed in the closet where the dog couldn't get at it!

This final quilt was not stashed in the closet, but has been waiting for its photographic opportunity before being shipped off to Denver.  
I remade the Endless Chain pattern in black and gold fabrics to remind Andrew of his New Orleans roots now that he's far from home.  Black and gold are the colors of the New Orleans Saints football team, and most of the fabrics have fleur de lis images (the fleur de lis image is associated with New Orleans - it's even included on the city flag and logo).
I got a little sentimental with the label.  The quote on the quilt is from Hodding Carter, and it's been part of a family history/photography display in our house for years.  I thought it was a good thought to send off with my wandering son!











Saturday, February 1, 2020

A Few Orange Scraps and a Ring of Stars

It's a new month and a new color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  
This month's challenge is to use up orange scraps.  

So far this year, I'm only piecing one RSC project - Bonnie Hunter's Carolina Chain quilt.  Here are a few blocks I've assembled from orange scraps.

I'm making the blocks leader-ender style, so it's handy to have a stack of pre-cut block parts at the ready.

And I've been putting those leader-enders to good use as I've assembled the Ring of Stars blocks started during the 2019 Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I still have one more row to stitch together, but the quilt top is essentially finished.

I really enjoyed making these blocks in rainbow colors, but I'm not sure the visual impact of the quilt is the same as when the blocks are all made from the same color family.  I think the secondary circular design gets a little lost with all the color changes.  Maybe I'll make another version using all one color!

Find more rainbow scrappiness at the weekly RSC link-up.





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!