New Orleans House Project

Sunday, November 23, 2014

New String Piecing Inspiration

I have been a fan of string piecing since my earliest days as a quilter.  I love the economy of using scraps and the soothing therapy of piecing without much concern for accuracy and matching points!

A new book devoted to string piecing has been making the rounds in quilting blogland, and I ordered my own copy after reading the first online review I happened across.  Those of you who followed the New Orleans House Quilt Project will know I was immediately smitten with the string-pieced houses on the cover!  I see another set of rainbow-hued house blocks in my future.
Simply Strings: A Modern Approach to a Traditional Quilt Block by Rana Heredia has some wonderful new ideas for string piecing.  There are instructions for quilts in various sizes, table runners, wall hangings and even a tote bag.  There are new variations on the typical geometric string-pieced block, as well as modern, organic interpretations such as string-pieced leaves and pumpkins.
One quilt that caught my eye immediately is "Bee Yourself".  The quilt measures 34 x 37", but I could also see three of the blocks used as a table runner.  I might have to play with this over the Thanksgiving holiday!  Did I mention full-size pattern pieces are included with the book?

No affiliation with the author, just very inspired by her work.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Scrap Happy Saturday: Scrappy Payoff in Sight!

This week I was finally able to lay out my Rainbow Scrap Challenge Sampler blocks.  I tried a 10 x 10 layout first, but found I was 14 blocks short!  I knew I didn't have the patience or time to make 14 more blocks, so I quickly switched to a 9 x 10 layout.  I found an extra pink block, so I now only needed 3 additional blocks.  I decided the colors orange and purple were under-represented, so that's where I focused.
I followed Angela's handy instructions for the ZigZag block and dug out some great orange-red scraps to use.
Some purple scraps made a great Quarter Log Cabin block.
I don't know if this block has a name.  I wanted something simple that would make a purple statement.  I think the block fills the bill!
Now all the spots are occupied with amazing RSC blocks!  I already have fond memories of the year-long process as shared through the words of so many different RSC participants.

I have at least two white-on-white prints in the stash I can use for sashing these blocks.  However, I'm waiting for Angela's final version using light and dark gray sashing before I decide on how I will finish mine.  In the meantime, I've stacked the blocks in their proper order to await further assembly.  

I needed the design wall cleared so I could arrange
the Scrap Jar Star blocks.  
I started with 18 blocks, so two more were needed for a 4 x 5 layout.  I didn't want to use black and gray scraps (and I didn't have enough anyway), so I went with bright, multi-color scraps.  Now that I see them hanging on the wall, I'm not so sure they fit in very well.  
I can't decide if I want to make two additional blocks in solid colors, or just keep things as they are and get 'er finished!  The blocks will be sashed with the same dotty fabric as the star backgrounds, and there will be colored squares at the sashing intersections.  I think that may help pull everything together.  And since this will be used as a quilt and not a wall-hanging, I don't think the multi-colored blocks will stand out as much.

So, I'm off to cut and stitch some sashing.  I'll be using my Singer Model 15 treadle for sewing today - which I mention because my friend Annie Kusilek is hosting a sew-along today via the FB group Treadle Quilters.  If you're interested in learning more about quilting with treadle sewing machines, stop by and check out the group!

I'm also linking up with the other Rainbow Scrappers over at Angela's SoScrappy blog.  There will be lots of colorful, scrappy fun on view!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

TBT: First Quilt Show

In my early years as a quilter, I was lucky to be a member of a supportive quilt group, the Pensacola Quilter's Guild.  The guild was relatively small, but had a wonderful cross-section of quilters - from new quilters like me to professionals who taught classes all over the country and authored quilt books.  The guild put on a judged show every two years, and as a new quilter I was encouraged to enter a quilt "for the experience of it!". 
I had been working on a quilt from Variations on Irish Chain Quilts by Betty Jo Shiell.  I decided to finish the quilt and enter it in the upcoming show, scheduled for March, 1991. 
I remember working feverishly to finish the hand quilting in the white center blocks in time for the quilt drop-off date!

As so often happens with quilts hanging in quilt shows - the picture doesn't do the quilt justice.  The pink and green print was soft and feminine, perfect for a baby girl's crib quilt.  I used both machine and hand quilting on the project, but I do remember the judge criticized my quilt for not having enough quilting in the border.  I knew that - I had just run out of time to do any more quilting!  Still, I received a third place ribbon - because there were only two quilts entered in that category!

The quilt was gifted to a baby girl, the new daughter of some good friends.  I still have the ribbon, as well as the program from the show.  It was a treat to leaf through the program and remember quilters and their quilts from "back in the day" - and reminiscing is all part of the fun on Throwback Thursday!

BTW, if you enjoy reminiscing about your personal quilt history - consider creating a TBT post and linking up via Diane's blog, Butterfly Threads!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

TBT: Early Round Robin Quilt

Since it's Thursday, I'm taking inspiration from social media sites and Diane at Butterfly Threads:
Throwback Thursday!
I re-discovered this oldie recently when I was organizing and de-cluttering my sewing room.  It has an interesting history, but is not one of my all-time favorite quilts.  And yes, the outer borders don't lay flat.  I don't remember exactly what happened to cause the curling, but maybe some serious blocking would improve things.
The quilt was part of a round robin that took place in 1995.  A friend in the Pensacola Quilter's Guild was friends with the editor (at the time) of the Japanese quilting magazine, Patchwork Quilt Tsushin.  The plan was to have a group of American and Japanese quilters do an international round robin project.  There were 6 quilters in Pensacola and 6 Japanese quilters.  Each quilter created a center block, then the round robin fun started. 
The quilts swapped countries at least once and were passed around between different quilters in each location.  One of the best things about the project was the additional fabrics that were shared between all the participants.  Remember, this was before the internet made it easy to drool over and purchase fabric from around the world!
Our final quilts were published in Patchwork Quilt Tsushin.  The article about the round robin is all in Japanese, so I can't read it to remind myself of all the details!  Some of the quilts were quite lovely, others just so-so.  I think the idea of round robin quilts was so new we just weren't sure what to do.  Maybe the time factor and size requirements (my finished quilt is only about 45-48" square) also limited our creativity.
I machine quilted my finished top and found this really colorful batik fabric for the back.  Batik fabrics for quilts were kind of a novelty at this time and I was really excited to find this fabric.

It was fun to re-discover this quilt and reminisce about the events behind it.  I guess that's the whole idea of Throwback Thursday!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Vintage Fabric Fun

I went to a local estate sale yesterday and came home with a box full of fun!  

I decided to check out the sale because the advert listed a vintage sewing machine cabinet - something that's been on my wish list.  I'd like a dedicated cabinet for my electric Singer 201, so I can use it without having to move machines in and out of other cabinets.  

The cabinet was a bust - it held a vintage Singer which I didn't want and which had little resale value.  The asking price was not at all realistic, so no cabinet came home with me.

However, where a sewing machine has lived, there are usually sewing supplies, so I kept my eyes open.  As we were about to leave I spied a big box with vintage sheets on top.  I took a quick look under the sheets and saw lots of fabric, so I grabbed the box and paid before someone changed their mind and asked for more money!
I scored four different sets of vintage sheets.  These will go in my stash of vintage sheet fabrics.
These items were stored together in a bag.  The sweater (too small for me - darn!) is Scottish lambswool and the yardage is wool from a mill in St. Andrews, Scotland.  Both are wonderfully soft wools with great drape.  The Vogue pattern screams 1980s!
There were also some wool felt scraps.  The red herringbone is more of a dress weight fabric, while the plaid is more like upholstery fabric.
I love toile fabric, so this one really tickled my fancy.  It's a fairly good-sized chunk of a smooth, decorator-type fabric.
There were lots of scraps from garment construction.  On the left, a cotton blend fabric we used to call "kettle cloth"; center - a soft fine wale corduroy and on the right a soft cotton flannel. 
Isn't this print fun?  It's got some stains, but I think I can soak them out.
A huge variety of red fabrics here:  more corduroy, red & white seersucker, some Concord quilting fabrics (cheater cloth!) and on the back left, a fabulous chunk of heavy cotton velvet.

Unpacking all these treasures was a lot of fun. Most of the fabrics are decent-sized pieces, so plenty of useful scraps.  I don't have immediate plans for putting any of the fabric to use, but fondling them has certainly jazzed up the creative process!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Scrap Happy Saturday: Assembling Scrap Jar Stars

It has not been a good week for quilt-related activities.  Work kept me on the run all week and my evenings consisted of dinner and struggling to stay awake until it was a reasonable time to go to bed! 

I did groom my scrappy green Trip Around the World quilt for a trip to the long-arm quilter.  Grooming involves a last press of all the seams, as well as trimming stray threads and using the lint roller to pick up pet hairs and more stray threads - probably my least favorite quilting activity.

I knew we would be heading for our camp this weekend, so I cast about for an RSC project that needed work.  I remembered my Scrap Jar Stars are in various states of assembly:  some stars are complete, others are just parts.  
I scooped up all my parts and pieces, plus background fabric.  I also have a bag of random 2" squares in all colors that can be used for the corner pieces.
So, my goal for this weekend is to finish up the Scrap Jar Stars and maybe start assembling them.  I have two star blocks for most of this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors, so they should make a decent-sized quilt.

I'm linking up with the other Rainbow Scrappers today where more scrappy fun can be found!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Slow Sunday Stitching: Slow Progess

Grandmother's Flower Garden is one of those designs that goes slowly when hand-pieced. When I remind myself I'm piecing something started by my grandmother I don't know how many years ago, my snail's pace piecing doesn't seem to matter much.
I know it doesn't look like much, but in the past two weeks I've hand-pieced most of the green connector hexies seen here.  Between (American) football games and the World Series (Dear Husband is from Kansas City), there have been plenty of hand-piecing evenings to enjoy.  More American football today, plus the first winter-like temps of the season, led to great hand-piecing opportunities!
I did some serious work with spray starch and a hot iron today.  I thought I'd give you an idea in the difference between my grandmother's piecing and mine.  My grandmother pieced the hexies without marking any type of seam allowance, used doubled thread and large knots to help anchor her thread.  I need to ask my mom and aunt for more information about when these blocks were pieced - was my grandmother losing her sight or was this her usual method of piecing?  I own several other quilts made by my grandmother, but I've never taken them apart to look at the style of hand-piecing.
My style of hand-piecing is a little different.  I don't use knots, just back stitching.  I use fine 100% cotton thread (Aurifil is my current favorite), a small sharps needle and I mark my stitching lines with a pencil.  I confess my stitching is kind of slow, but enjoying the process is all part of the experience!

I'm linking up with more slow stitchers who enjoy the process via Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Scrap Happy Saturday: Clutter Control

Somewhere about the middle of the week, I was struck with the desire to do some de-cluttering and organizing in my sewing room.  I've gone through the drawers and bins, the closets and the shelves.  UFOs have been re-evaluated, fabric re-organized and scraps sliced into strips and squares.  I even took my main sewing machine to the shop for some neglected maintenance.  I won't bore you with pictures, as my sewing room is still cluttered - but it's organized clutter!

Now I feel much better prepared to focus on some quilt tops that need to get finished before the end of the year AND also use spare minutes here and there to work on Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks.
Even with all that de-cluttering, I was able to finish a Road to Tennessee block for the RSC Sampler.
And a Kentucky Crossroads block.  Yup, I'm still using up chocolate scraps!
One Contrary Wife block in black and gray.

I need to finish the project on my design wall so I can lay out all my Rainbow Scrap Sampler blocks and see what colors might be lacking.  I have not given much thought as to how I want to assemble them, other than I'll probably use sashing between the blocks.

After all that organizing and stuff, I'm ready for a nice cup of tea and a visit to Angela's blog to see what the other Rainbow Scrappers have been doing this week!