New Orleans House Project

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Summer Stitching

Today was the first time I've touched my sewing machine in about two weeks!  I felt kinda rusty, so I started out with simple 49-patch blocks.  Since the month just started, there's a new color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge - orange.  

I pulled out the box of 1.5 inch strips and pulled enough strips for two 49-patch blocks.

I've been using Bonnie Hunter's Trip Around the World technique to make these blocks.

Throwing in last year's 49-patch - now there are three.  When dark blue comes up as an RSC color, I'll have three blocks in each rainbow color.  Then it will be time to assemble these somehow or other.

Even though I've neglected my sewing machine, I've still been plying my needle.  These sailboat blocks were souvenirs from a quilt show many years ago (1993!).  I finally assembled them about 2 years ago as part of an RSC project, then let them languish because I couldn't decide how to quilt them.

I few weeks ago I figured there was no time like the present to get the batting and backing together and bast the layers for hand quilting.  I still didn't know what I was going to do for quilting design, but I figured I could at least start by quilting around all the blocks.  I just kept adding quilting here and there and before long it was getting done.  I'm still not completely finished, but the end is in sight.

Need more orange scrap inspiration?  Check out the weekly Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Red Repro Returning

This week's Rainbow Scrap Challenge project was to use some red reproduction fabrics for quarter log cabin blocks.
It's sad that reproduction fabrics don't photograph easily.  This is a nice group of different red fabrics, but you'd need a real close-up shot to see all the variety.  I'm contemplating setting these blocks on point for the final quilt, so I keep experimenting to see how I like that arrangement.

And for comparison, here are all the quarter log blocks together, in a straight set.  The blocks finish at 9 inches, and I plan to have at least 45 blocks when I'm finished.  

That's the extent of my RSC sewing for this week.  I'm still trying to finish some UFOs, so I'm keeping the scrappy sewing short and sweet for awhile.  There's lots of scrappy inspiration at the weekly RSC link-up, though!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Red Hot July Scraps

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge proceedeth, and the color for this month's scrapping is declared to be red.  Perfect for these record-setting hot July days!

A quick excavation in the box of 1.5 inch strips produced enough scraps for two 49 patch blocks.  I started making these blocks in 2017, using random 2 inch scrap pieces.  When the 2 inch squares were exhausted, I started using Trip Around the World style piecing to make these blocks.  

The design wall was empty, so I pinned up all the 49 patch blocks to date.  I've been aiming for 3 blocks in every rainbow color, so I need more orange and blue blocks.  There's a 3rd pink block, but I noticed the sizing was off, so it may have to get re-done.

That's the extent of my red-hot scrappy stitching so far this month.  For more scrappy inspiration, check out the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up for today!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Call of the UFO

The UFOs stashed away in drawers, bins, baskets and closets have all been clamoring for attention lately.  This is not a bad thing.  Although I'd love to be starting any number of new projects, the UFOs won't leave me alone until at least a few of them are finished - or at least moved to the finished flimsy stage.

I finally finished the second (larger) Feed Sack Bag I had started a couple of years ago.  I made the smaller bag first and wasn't sure I wanted to make the second one, even though I already had all the pieces cut out.  Everything languished for over a year.  Finally, I decided to go ahead and make the second bag, and stash it away as a potential gift.

The pattern is Joanna Figueroa's Feed Sack Bag (go take a look at her pictures - much better than mine!).  It's a fun pattern:  well-written, easy to follow and a nice result.  The largest bag is perfect for jelly roll strips.  My only complaint is the outside pocket is not very useful and there are no inside pockets.  I could probably have added inside pockets, but I just wanted to finish up, not experiment with the pattern!

Another quilt that got some love this week was this ridiculously long-term medallion project.  Back in the early/mid 1990s, I amassed a large collection of cow-themed fabrics to make a quilt for a beloved kindergarten teacher.  Her classroom was decorated with all kinds of cow-themed items, so I thought a cow quilt would be perfect.  Before I could get started, she let me know she really didn't want a cow-themed quilt, so I had to revise my plans!

The center fabric panel was the inspiration for this quilt.  My original plan was to play with creating my own medallion quilt and to try to use as much cow-themed fabric as possible.  I made and discarded multiple borders before finally deciding I had to add some non-cow fabric to make the whole thing work out!

My favorite border is made of Ohio Star blocks with fussy-cut centers.  I think this is where my love of fussy-cutting was inspired!  The black and white fabric was an early text print; the text says "moo".

When I pulled the medallion out earlier this week, I wasn't sure if it needed more pieced borders or if it was essentially finished.  I looked at a lot of medallion quilts online and in quilt books and decided I really did not want to add more blocks.  I happened to have a chunk of very pale yellow fabric that would make a nice light-colored border and another chunk of scenic cow fabric that would make a good outer border.  Boom!  Finished top!

BTW, the fabric for the outer cow border has been hanging around for a long time, too!

Last week, I mentioned I wanted to work on finishing my Grandmother's Choice BOW quilt.  I haven't forgotten - just need to make a trip to the LQS before I can begin.  I looked through all the appropriate fabrics in my stash and didn't have any pieces big enough to make all the sashing needed for the quilt.  I hate when shopping in the stash doesn't work!  This was block 47 of the BOW - Heroine's Crown.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Teal Repro Crosses

I put some teal reproduction scraps to work this week - making quarter log cabin blocks for my Modern Crosses quilt.

When I started making these blocks, I had lots of neutral-colored fabric scraps (chunks) to use for the backgrounds.  I've just about run through the scraps and will have to start cutting yardage.

My design wall is currently empty, so I should pin all these blocks up and start thinking about the finished quilt.  I only need two additional color groups (orange and brown) to wrap up my plans for this quilt.

On a completely different note, I pulled out a UFO this week and made plans for finishing it.  I started these Grandmother's Choice blocks in 2012, a BOW created by Barbara Brackman.  All 49 blocks have been marinating since August of 2013, so maybe I can finish assembling them by August this year!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Scrappy Fabric Therapy

Today was one of those Saturdays when I was in serious need of some fabric therapy.  I did a lot of traveling for work this week, and that left me too tired to do much of anything in the evenings.  Happily, I was able to spend most of today sewing, and getting lots of good things accomplished!

I'm still plugging along on some Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects.  This month's color is teal (and similar variations), so I pulled some 1.5 inch strips and pieced two 49-patch blocks.
I'm still not sure what size quilt project I'll ultimately make with these.  They're only 7 inches, so I'll either need to make a lot more, or stop soon and make a small quilt.

Last year's block was made with random 1.5 inch squares; the Trip Around the World/strip method is much easier!

I've been feeling the need to finish up a number of languishing projects - so most of my current stitching focus has been on moving things along.

One of last year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects was making Windblown Wishes blocks from Diane D. Knott's Scrap Quilt Secrets book.  After I assembled my blocks, I took a little detour from Diane's pattern when it came to the borders.  I decided to make a half-square triangle border, again using rainbow colors.  

Today I added a narrow all-white border and stitched all the HSTs together for the next border.  If I'm lucky, I'll get to sew the borders to the top tomorrow.  I think I'll add a wider white border after the HSTs to finish things up.

I haven't been blogging much over the past several weeks, so I was surprised to discover Blogger had disabled the emailed comments feature.  I've switched to moderating all comments, so at least I'll get an email notification when comments are posted.  I do enjoy all the sharing that takes place via blogging comments, so I hope this helps keep the conversation alive!

*Edit:  moderated comments are not getting sent via email, either. 

There's more Rainbow Scrap Challenge inspiration at the weekly RSC link-up, so please stop by and see what other quilters are up to!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Checking In With a Few Finishes

Wow!  Where did the second half of May and the first week of June get to?  

I have been working on quilting projects, but feeling very haphazard in my use of time.  Sometimes it's hard to stay focused when your sewing time only comes in short spurts.   Summer distractions like gardening and family time seem to keep me away from my fabric therapy!

Since my last blog post, I managed to complete another block in the Gathered Harvest BOM I'm doing via my local quilt shop.  This one is called "Fresh Pineapple".  I'm prepping the appliqué shapes with freezer paper and starch, then using invisible thread to machine appliqué the shapes in place - using a narrow zig-zag stitch.  

Since this block had LOTS of leaves, I tried a new-to-me technique:  I made leaf templates using card stock, then used a running stitch in the seam allowance and gathered the allowance around the template.  Then used starch and a hot iron to press the seam allowance to the back of the leaf shape (i.e. the same idea as the "perfect circle" technique).  It worked like a charm! 

Another finish:  a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project made from pinwheel blocks.  I saw a quilt in this style in a decorating magazine, and since I love nine-patch blocks, I was smitten. 

I searched Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and the Quilt Index - finally discovering the name of the pattern as Flutter Wheel.  I drafted my own pattern and made pinwheel blocks every month in 2017 as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  The original quilt doesn't have an outside border, but since the pinwheels tend to stretch, I decided a solid fabric border would help prevent wobbly edges to the quilt.

Close up of the pattern:  nine patch of pinwheel blocks with pinwheel sashing squares and plain sashing.

Non-quilting, but cooking related
Dear Husband and I are cookbook collectors.  Not only do we enjoy preparing new recipes, we both tend to read cookbooks like novels.  We've purchased many cookbooks for ourselves, and been gifted many more for holidays and anniversaries.  Needless to say, we have quite a cookbook collection.  Some are frequently used favorites and others are more for reference.

A few weeks ago, Dear Husband decided we needed to put the collection to a more frequent use.  He issued a family challenge:  Sunday night dinners must include a recipe from one of the cookbooks in our collection.  Since our oldest Dear Son is currently living at home, that meant 3 rotating Sundays of different cookbook recipes.

Today was my first Sunday dinner as part of the challenge.  I chose a cookbook from way back "in the day".  Long before the Food Network or HGTV, those of us who were interested in food watched PBS for cooking inspiration.  I remember watching The Frugal Gourmet on PBS - I was a SAHM with small children and always interested in new ways of preparing meals.  My inspiration for tonight was a Frugal Gourmet - Jeff Smith - book titled "Our Immigrant Ancestors".  My immigrant ancestors mostly come from the British Isles, but I chose a recipe from somewhere completely different - Thai Beef Salad.  Which, I'm happy to report, was a big success, and will probably enter the rotation as a frequent summertime meal!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Doggie-Approved Quilts (and a Dog Hazard Warning!)

A few weeks ago, Kyle (Timeless Reflections) shared some of her quilts from the turn of the 21st century period.  (It's hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago!)  Her gentle admonishment was to remind everyone to label their quilts.

Kyle's retrospective got me thinking about quilts I had made during that same time period.  Exactly one quilt came to mind and I decided to get busy and document it before it vanished completely!

I made this Jacob's Ladder variation for my oldest son Andrew sometime around 1997-1998.  We had just moved to New Orleans and he had asked to paint his bedroom black.  I said "no", so we settled on dark red instead.  This quilt was made specifically for his room.

I made it entirely on my Singer 201 treadle sewing machine, which was new-to-me at the time.  It was my first quilt made completely on a treadle.  I even machine-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt (something I almost never do) just so I could get 'er done!

The quilt has gone from home to college to first apartment and now home again, since Andrew moved back in with us last summer (he's back in school).  Along the way, his dog, Moose, decided to try a few sample bites of the quilt.  I'm going to appliqué some replacement squares over the damage, and fix the loose seam.   

I liked the design of this quilt so much, I even saved the original pattern!  It's from Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts, although I'm not sure of the date as I didn't save the entire magazine.  They called the quilt pattern Endless Chain.

It's sad to see how poorly the black fabric in the quilt top has held up, but that's pretty typical of black fabrics from that period.  I used a bandana print for the backing and it has held up much better - the white streaks in the picture are the camera's reaction to sunlight, not wear in the fabric.  When I'm fixing the doggie damage on the front, I'll also add a small label to the back.  I don't know how much longer this quilt will hold up, but I'm gonna put my name on it anyway!

I have another doggie-approved quilt story, kinda scary, but with a happy ending.
This is my son David's dog, Jozy Labradore.  Jozy and David live in Dallas, Texas, but Jozy spends part of his summer with us every year when David has to to be away from home for 6 weeks as part of his job.  In other words, Jozy is part of our family, too.

Last week, David inadvertently left a container of sugar-free gum on his bedside table.  Jozy does not usually chew on stuff he's not supposed to, but for some reason the gum got his attention.  David's roommate found Jozy an hour or so later, having seizures.  He took Jozy to the emergency vet's office and found out he had been poisoned by the xylitol in the sugar-free gum.  David was in New York City for work, so he was helpless and totally freaked out!

David was able to come home the next day, and immediately went to see Jozy and took one of my quilts along to comfort him.  Fortunately, Jozy responded to treatment (and the quilt!) and has since recovered and gone home.  

As it turns out, xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs.  Even in very small amounts, it causes very low blood sugar, which can lead to seizures, liver damage and death.  The scary thing is, there are seldom any warnings about pet toxicity on items containing xylitol.  It's not just in chewing gum, but also found in toothpaste, mouthwash, sugar-free baked goods and even peanut butter.  Here's a link to a good article about xylitol and pets - it's a little long, but if you're a dog-lover, definitely worth knowing!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Scrappy Quilt Construction Goes Pink

Pink is the color for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I've scoured the bins of pink strips and squares and pulled some pink scrappy chunks from various drawers.  Blocks were made and parts and pieces assembled.  I'm getting anxious to finish up a couple of scrappy projects from last year, so I jumped ahead and made some extra parts and pieces as well.

First project:  use up some 1.5 inch strips to make 49-patch blocks.  I already had one pink block from last year, and I was able to add 2 more.  I'm waiting for the end of the year before I decide what to do with these blocks.

I started making these quarter square log cabin blocks this year using reproduction fabrics.  My original plan for these blocks was to make a straight set quilt, but maybe I'll reconsider and set them on point.

One of last year's RSC projects was based on Windblown Wishes, a quilt from Diane D. Knott's book, Scrap Quilt Secrets.  I decided to do an outer border of HSTs, and planned to make the HST parts each month as part of this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Since I had the box of 2.5 inch scrappy strips out anyway (for the pink HSTs), I went ahead and finished up all the remaining colors needed to finish the border.  I'm not sure when I'll get to start assembling this, but at least the HSTs are ready to go.

This is another Rainbow Scrap 2017 project that still needs attention.  The scrappy pinwheel blocks need sashing and cornerstones; the cornerstones are more pinwheel blocks.

And now the cornerstone pinwheels are complete, so as soon as I cut the sashing, I can start assembling this RSC project!

If you love scrappy quilts, be sure to check out today's Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up - lots of colorful inspiration!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Little More Yellow with More Machine Appliqué

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors for April were yellow and gold.  I pulled out some scraps earlier in the month for on-going RSC projects and I wrapped up the month with some reproduction fabric scrappy appliqué.
The basket pattern is from Blackbird Designs - When the Cold Wind Blows.  I've been using the design to practice machine appliqué techniques.  

Inspired by a recent post by Barb (Fun with Barb), I decided to try using 100 weight polyester thread for machine appliqué.  Barb had tried the thread for machine quilting, but I reasoned it might be good for machine appliqué as well.

Barb used Invisifil thread, a product from Wonderfil.  The thread is advertised as "ultra-fine but surprisingly strong".  I ordered some small spools of Invisifil in neutral colors to try on my basket blocks.

For stitching, I used a universal 65/9 needle and 50 wt Aurifil cotton thread in my bobbin.  After I adjusted the tension a tiny bit, my machine was very happy with the new thread.  In this example, the neutral thread worked well with the fabrics and seems to disappear, although the stitching line is fairly easy to see.  What I like about the 100 weight thread is the matte finish.

I ordered my Invisifil thread from Red Rocks Thread, and while I was perusing the website I decided to see if there were any other 100 wt thread options.  I wound up ordering a spool of Superior MicroQuilter 100 wt thread.  The MicroQuilter thread is advertised as being very strong, but still good for invisible stitching. 

The MicroQuilter thread performed just as easily in my machine; I used the same needle and bobbin thread.  The stitching is more obvious in this example, but using a different color of thread might improve the "invisibility".   Again, the matte finish is a plus.  Both of these threads come in a multitude of colors, so getting a close match is possible. 

For comparison, I went back and photographed the stitching on an early basket.  This block was stitched with invisible nylon monofilament thread (YLI brand, but others are available).  The nylon thread is good for recreating the look of hand appliqué, but the thread does have a glossy look.  

OK, now that I've bored you with all my thread experiments, go over to the weekly Rainbow Scrap link-up for some scrappy inspiration!