New Orleans House Project

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dawg Daze of Summer, Chapter 2020

This is the time of year I'm usually the headmistress of what I lovingly call Doggie Day Care.  

My two sons rely on me to help them care for their dogs in August, while they are traveling for work and/or recreation.  In addition to their dogs, we had two dogs of our own, so there were frequently four large dogs at my house for several weeks.

This year, there is only one dog - McKenzie, our lab/golden mix.  Covid-19 restrictions kept my sons' dogs at home with them, and my older dog, Bailey, died last December.  It's been a quiet month so far, but McKenzie does love having all the undivided attention!

After putting the final stitches in my Grandmother's Choice quilt, I found myself (temporarily) without a hand-stitching project.

Out came the flamingo hexagons!  I've been using Barb Vedder's Hex Vex pattern to make flamingo-themed hexies for a couple of years now.  I'm getting close to having enough hexies for a wall hanging, so maybe this is the year this project will get finished.

I had a half-dozen blocks already prepped for stitching, so I finished those up and cut some additional blocks.  The fun thing about making these blocks is the more you play with the fabrics, the more ideas you get for fussy-cutting and fabric placement.

Another quilt project came out to play this week:  the "Lego" quilt.  This has been an on-going project for several years - a way to use up lots and lots of 1.5 inch scraps.

I needed four more blocks to be able to construct a 7 x 7 quilt.  I already had enough strips pieced for the blocks, I just needed to assemble the strips into blocks.

Then assemble the blocks into rows, and the rows into a quilt top.  I posted a picture of my progress on Instagram, and my sister said, "That's a lot of sewing!"

The flimsy measures about 70 inches by 70 inches at this point.  One more row would make the quilt a rectangle instead of a square, but I don't have it in me right now to make seven more blocks.   Maybe I'll feel differently at some point in the future.

At the beginning of the month, I changed out the quilts on display in my house.  It's difficult to get good photographs, as the interior of my house doesn't have a lot of natural light, but I did want to show of my newest quilt hanger, built by my Dear Hubby.
This quilt is a sentimental favorite, with friendship blocks from members of my Florida quilt guild.   The blocks date to 1997, but the quilt wasn't finished until 2006.  It was the subject of my first blog post!


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Finely Finished: Grandmother's Choice

As July wound to a close, I put the finishing stitches in a quilt that has taken eight years to reach completed status.  On the other hand, the subject of the quilt - women's suffrage - took an equally long time to come to fruition in the United States!

Grandmother's Choice was a block of the week project created by Barbara Brackman to recognize the years-long struggle for women to win the right to vote.  The BOW started well before the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment (June 4th, 1919) to illustrate the time and effort involved in passing that simple amendment:  

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Most of the fabrics used in my blocks were from a collection called "Alice's Washday Blues" by Blue Hill Fabrics.  I wound up adding lots of other fabrics, but Alice was my inspiration.

I wasn't gung-ho on sampler quilts when I started the BOW, but I learned to appreciate the fun of making just one block of a particular pattern.

I finely (finally) finished the quilt by using simple sashing and two borders - narrow and wide.  
The long-arm quilting was done by Diane Knott of Butterfly Threads Quilting.
Finished size:  84 inches by 84 inches.

The label features one of my favorite prints from Alice's Washday Blues.  

The label also includes the date the 19th Amendment was ratified by enough states to become law:  
18 August 2020.  I guess I finished my quilt just in time!

As you may recall from civics class, Constitutional amendments require approval by 2/3 of the states in order to become law.  In 1920, Tennessee was the approving state that put the 19th Amendment over the threshold.  Interestingly, my state, Louisiana, rejected the amendment in 1920 and did not (belatedly) pass it until 1970!  If you're curious about when your state approved the 19th amendment, you can find out at this National Park Service website.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Scrap-Busting Block Bonanza, Round Two

I managed to stay focused on using up blue scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge again this week - and there now seems to be a little wiggle room in the storage drawer for blue fabric chunks and yardage.  

Most of my stitching time was spent on putting together blocks for the Irish Chain quilt I started last week.  I started stitching the blocks into rows, but only made it through three rows before I was distracted by something else.  The rows stitch up easily, so it shouldn't take much longer to turn this into a flimsy.

As I was working on the chain blocks, I used some other bits to put together a few of Bonnie Hunter's latest leader-ender challenge blocks.

I'm still in block experimentation mode.  I wanted to try this variation on our old friend the Variable Star block.  I found a nice-sized chunk of this dark blue fabric with silver metallic sparkles, which made a good practice fabric.  This version finishes at 12 inches, but it would be easy to increase the size to 16 or 20 inches - which would be perfect for a pillow!

Another version of the Variable Star block involves flipping the fabrics for a negative image.  I think this would be much more interesting with some variety in the background (in this case, white) fabric, but I was being lazy and just grabbing fabric that was already out.  These blocks measure 6 inches, and again, could go together in different multiples to make pillow covers.  Yup, I'm still thinking about Christmas gifts!

So much for working with blue scraps this month.  Next week will be a new RSC color and new inspiration will surely follow.  More Rainbow Scrap inspiration can be found at the weekly link-up!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Scrap-Busting Block Bonanza

I've been digging through the blue chunks, strips and scraps this month to fulfill the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for July: dark blue.  

I have an abundance of blue fabrics of all types and sizes; revisiting them this month was enough to create a desire to do some serious scrap-busting.  I've played with several block patterns, looking for good candidates to use up lots of scrappy chunks and bits.  I haven't completely decided on a plan of action (I find it hard to stay focused on anything for long these days), but I've had fun playing!

One block I played with is called Wishing Ring in my resource book (501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks by Judy Hopkins).  I started with the large size, trying to use up bigger scraps of fabric; it finishes at 10 inches.  Maybe it was the fabric choice, but I didn't love the 10 inch block, so I tried the smaller size (finishes at 7.5 inches).  I'm putting this idea on the back burner for now, but will probably return to it at some point.

I started making these blocks as a prototype for a much larger version of the block I was mentally visualizing.  I pulled some 2 inch strips to cut for the HSTs and 1.5 inch strips for the center parts.  After making a couple of these, it occurred to me they looked like a Bonnie Hunter pattern.  Turns out I was making Little Monkey blocks.  

I may keep making these as an RSC project, but I really want to try making a larger version, maybe something in the 10 - 12 inch finished size.

Speaking of Bonnie Hunter, I also made a few Carolina Chain blocks with dark blue scraps.  This block has been a leader-ender project for me for the past year or so.  I have more than enough blocks to make a quilt, but I don't have a complete set of rainbow colors yet, so I'll keep making these a little longer.

Now here I may have found something that will keep me occupied for a little while!  I found a big chunk of scrap fabric with blue and white seaside scenes.  They're the perfect size for the center of an Irish Chain alternate block.  There's enough fabric to fussy-cut 20 or more of the vignettes, and I have some other fabrics I can use to fake it if I need to.  The Irish Chain blocks go together quickly using strip piecing, and I have lots of light and dark fabric combinations to use up.  This could be the Project of the Week!

For more scrappy quilt inspiration, check out the Rainbow Scrap Challenge weekly link-up.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

An RSC Finish and Quilt Nostalgia Comfort

Yay for quilt finishes and sunny days and doggos!
This was a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project I started in January, 2018.  My goal was to use reproduction fabrics to make these quarter log cabin blocks, although they were inspired by a quilt from Modern Log Cabin Quilting.  My final version measures 84 inches x 84 inches.

It was fun picking out repro fabrics to meet the monthly RSC color challenge.

Diane Knott did the long-arm quilting for me.  I hand-stitched the binding in air-conditioned comfort while binge-watching an old, favorite TV show.  Thank goodness we have modern conveniences to make our quilting easier! šŸ˜ƒ

I'm sending the quilt off to my former neighbor and all-round good friend, who has moved to Texas to be nearer her family.  We had a lot of adventures together, and I miss having a "partner in crime"!

And speaking of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge....
I haven't been doing much to bust my scraps lately.  I decided I wanted to tackle some of the print fabric scraps that don't seem to make it into my RSC quilts.
For some reason, I was inspired to look back at some of my early quilts, and consult several of my early quilt resource books.  After much consideration, I decided to go for this block (again). 

The block has many names, but the first time I used it in a quilt, I was following a design called 25 Patch Star from Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel.  Her books have always been a great resource for traditional quilt blocks, and even included full size templates for the block components - you know, back in the day before we cut our fabrics with rulers and rotary cutters and stitched them with sewing machines!

I decided I liked the comforting idea of revisiting this quilt block and promptly used my rulers (especially the Easy Angle ruler for the HST blocks) and rotary cutter to prep some scrappy strips.
The RSC color for July is dark blue.  No problem finding plenty of scraps to fill the bill.  I still have a couple more blocks cut, but not sewn.  I'm having so much fun, I may have to work backwards and fill in the previous month's RSC colors.  

Are you feeling the need to make nostalgic or comforting quilts during this crazy time?


Sunday, June 28, 2020

June Mini: A Puzzle Experiment

I've always wanted to try my hand at piecing a Rocky Mountain Puzzle block.  

Still thinking about Christmas gifts, I thought maybe I could make my Denver-residing son something (a pillow?) using the RMP block.

Since the July 4th holiday was fast approaching, I decided to dig into the red, white, and blue fabric stash for inspiration.  Using the tutorial linked above, I tried the eight inch size puzzle blocks.

It turns out, the "puzzle" is using partial seams to create the border around the center block.  It wasn't difficult to do, but design-wise, it didn't really make sense to me.  Unless one uses different fabrics for that border, the fancy piecing doesn't show up.  For future reference, I'd just construct the block using regular border-style piecing.

I made two additional blocks, then added sashing and cornerstones so the blocks wouldn't run together.  I used invisible thread to quilt around the squares and triangles in the blocks, and a decorative machine stitch in blue thread to quilt the sashing.  
The finished mini measures about 18 inches square - a good size to fit an 18 inch pillow form.  šŸ˜€

The backing fabric was also from my red, white, and blue fabric stash.

Since this was an experiment, it will stay with me and I'll do another version for Dear Son.  I have a fun stack of indigo-style blues and browns that might make some great Rocky Mountain Puzzle blocks.

I did a little July 4th decorating on the bureau in my front entry hall!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Cassandra's Circle BOM Block Five

The sixth Cassandra's Circle block was posted this morning at Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog.  Thank goodness I finished the June block just in time!

Russian Sunflowers - Cassandra's Circle block five.

My plan for this BOM was to only use fabrics from my chosen fabric collection and not add additional fabrics if at all possible.  It has been an interesting challenge!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Meandering Through June

Just like the Mississippi River, I feel like I'm meandering through the month of June.  
I've worked on this and that, but no big sparks of creativity (or energy) seem to be flowing.  I guess I'll just keep meandering and see what turns up - something always does!

One recent project was mastering the art of the Lone Star block.  After inserting the background pieces - which required using Words of Power - I decided maybe I don't want to make Lone Star themed gifts for Christmas this year.  I'd still like to make a large Lone Star quilt for myself, but the thought of lots of Little Lone Stars now gives me a headache!

I'm still planning to turn this star into a pillow.  I did some basic straight-line quilting, but I want to make the pillow with a zipper, which requires a trip to the fabric store.

This small quilt (30" x 30") was just a bag of four patches a few weeks ago.  The fabrics were left over from Barbara Brackman's Grandmother's Choice BOM from 2012.  Once I had the double four-patches pieced up, I found a nice hunk of Brannock & Patek (circa 1997) fabric in my stash to use for the outer border.

For quilting, I used straight lines through the four patches, and pumpkin seeds in the border.  Since I suck at free-motion quilting, I did the pumpkin seeds using the walking foot feature on my sewing machine - feed dogs engaged.  It was fun figuring out the best way to make the design without having to start and stop the line(s) of stitching.

The backing also came from my stash - an antique map print.  You can see the quilting a little better from the back.

And every quilt deserves a label - even the leftovers!
BTW, I got brave and used my laser printer to print the label.  First, I ironed the label fabric to an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of freezer paper.  I wrote out the label using my word processing program, then played with different fonts until I found one I liked.  The font is called "She Persisted" - which I thought was perfect.  After printing the label in the printer, I also heat-set the design using my iron.  This has been through the wash; it may have faded a tiny bit, but not enough to matter.

Meanwhile, at our camp, I have a new pressing/storage table!  Dear Hubby built the shelf unit, then added a removable, expanded top.  I covered the top with padding and cotton canvas.  I love it!

I put the new pressing table to good use last weekend making more "Lego" blocks.  I only need a few more blocks and I can start assembling the quilt.

In between quilting projects, I've been pickling goodies from our garden.  The garden is small, but prolific this year!  I can't keep up with fixing cukes in fresh dishes, so I made a batch of refrigerator pickles this week.  This is two 4-cup pyrex storage containers full of pickles (graced with a few pieces of red jalapeƱo).  I've also pickled more banana and jalapeƱo peppers than I can count.  

I'm going to meander on to this project next.  I think some creative energy might be starting to flow!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Civil War AppliquƩ BOM Update

I've been participating in Barbara Brackman's Civil War appliquĆ© BOM projects for the past two years.  
In 2019, the theme was Hospital Sketches, featuring stories about hospital care during the Civil War.  This year's theme is Cassandra's Circle, focusing on the lives of Confederate women in the social circle of diarist Mary Boykin Chestnut.

I used stash fabrics (except for backgrounds) for the Hospital Sketches blocks, but found my stash lacking in appropriate sashing and border fabrics. 
Happily, I found some suitable fabrics this spring and completed the flimsy.  I had to tweak the exposure on the photo quite a bit to even get the outer border fabric to show up - it's a dark blue paisley.  

This project was a great experience in choosing fabrics for appliquĆ©.  I still have much to learn, but I'm enjoying the process!

This month's block for Cassandra's Circle is called Texas Star.
Several options were suggested for the center star image.  I liked the crossed five-pointed stars.  I especially enjoyed cutting the wreath using a folded paper (freezer paper in this case) technique.

Non-appliquƩ department
We're having a really prolific year of jalapeƱos.  So far I've made pico de gallo and pickled jalapeƱos.  I chopped up another batch and froze them.  And more were split, seeded, and roasted, then frozen.  And still the peppers keep growing!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Lone Stars in my Eyes

One of my goals for this year is to rev up my Lone Star quilt making skills.  Ultimately, I'd like to have a stash of Lone Star pillows to give as Christmas gifts.  Most of the intended recipients are residents of the Lone Star State (Texas), hence that specific quilt block choice. 

I made one large Lone Star quilt many years ago.
It was a gift for my mom, completed sometime in the mid-1990s.  She decided it was "too pretty" to use, so it remained packed away for years until I convinced her to hang it on the wall of her new house.  Now I get to pet it every time I visit her!  

My guiding star for making that Lone Star quilt was The New Lone Star Quilt Handbook by Blanche Young and Helen Young Frost (1989).
The "new" in their technique was the use of strip piecing, followed by rotary cutting diamonds from the assembled strips.  After making that first Lone Star, I knew I wanted to make more.  I had no idea it would take so many years for me to return to this quilt pattern.

I have been thinking about Lone Star quilts since January.  Searching the internet, saving pictures to Pinterest, returning to my library of quilt history books - all looking for inspiration and motivation.

I already had a fat quarter bundle whispering to me about becoming a practice Lone Star block (Chesterfield by Studio RK for Robert Kaufman Fabrics).  And when yesterday turned into Waiting for the AC Repairman Day, I knew it was time to start practicing!
Since I knew I wanted a small-ish, pillow-sized star, I followed an online tutorial from the Hopeful Homemaker which used 1.5 inch strips.  The current star measures about 16 inches.  I imagine I'll add some type of border, but the general idea is for the finished quilt block to fit an 18 inch pillow form.

I hadn't given a lot of thought to the background fabric for the star, assuming I'd find something appropriate in my stash.  This is an off-white Moda Grunge fabric.  I'm not crazy about it, especially since there's not much contrast with the light-colored paisley fabric in the star tips.

Then I remembered I had this Color Weave fabric (P & B Textiles - alas, I don't think they're still making this line), which I think will be perfect.  Fortunately, I have at least a yard of the fabric, so I should be able to finish an entire pillow.  

On a completely unrelated note:
We have a bluebird family in residence at our camp!  We haven't had any bluebirds for several years, so we enjoyed watching them build their nest.  I'm going up tomorrow to check on the garden, and I'm looking forward to seeing them!