At Home Along The San Antonio

At Home

This is a photo of the quilt that I posted photos of my fabric choices and a story about a few weeks ago called “Heading West Once Again.”  This is another quilt that I’m donating to a fundraiser for our local museum.  The blocks on the top and bottom of the quilt are all embroidered blocks that I did on my Janome embroidery machine and depict icons that fit into the history as well as the present here in our rural community.  Yes, we have a large herd of elk (the bottom block, second from the left) that can be seen hanging around frequently. The title of this post is also the title of the quilt in a nod to the river that runs through our community.

I really had a great time searching out appropriate embroidery patterns to use, selecting the right colors and stitching them out.  We have a covey of quail that has made our property their home and they conveniently showed up outside my quilting room window so that I could study their coloration when I was selecting thread colors.  It’s really funny, but the fabric I used for the embroidered blocks’ background actually says it’s “Beach Grass”, but it gives the flavor of gently rolling hills with scrubby brush which is typical of the valley we live in that runs along the river.

The fundraising dance will be held this coming Saturday, and I hope that this quilt raises a lot of money.  Right now the museum only has one metal building, but the hope is to have a small “town” of various buildings complete with Western facades to recreate the original town.

Heading West Once Again

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In January I made a western themed quilt to auction off at a fundraiser  for our rural museum that the community here has been working on for many years.   See my last post, “Playing with Potholders” to view that quilt.  The quilt was so popular that there was quite the bidding war, so the powers that be asked if I could make another one to auction off at their next fundraiser on March 11th.  This time the fundraiser will be dinner and a dance and they are calling the event “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  The request was to include a covered wagon in the design, so I set out to search for covered wagon fabric.  It was nearly impossible to find.  I was only able to find one piece of antique fabric, and it just wasn’t what I wanted.  So I decided I would try an embroidered design as the centerpiece since I have an embroidery machine and  digitizing software on my computer.  Everything I tried came out too small.  I guess I could have done applique, but I am too lazy to take that on.  So I searched and searched, and I finally found the panel in the photo above at Ebay.  I just love the old west look of the panel and the composition is simply charming.  It came complete with the printed “border” of triangle squares and the wood look border.  I don’t know the manufacturer since the selvedge only has the title “Point of View” on it.

I plan on adding some sort of additional pieced border at the top and bottom and then adding blocks that I will embroider with a covered wagon, a stagecoach, a ranch scene, a town scene that I purchased and perhaps some cattle and/or horses, then some additional borders..  I haven’t decided exactly what will look right yet, but I need to get a move on since March 11 is right around the corner.

This next photo is the fabric choices that I have to use in the rest of the quilt.  You can see the covered wagon embroidery that I experimented with lying on top of the fabric I intended to use as the backdrop for the embroidery.  I thought it had a nice prairie look to it.  I might also design some additional detail to go into the embroidery design like mountains or something.  Anyway, I was really excited to find the wagon wheel fabric right in front on our trip to town yesterday.

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Time to get my creative juices flowing and get this quilt done.

Playing with potholders

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Sadly, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to quilt lately because I have a lot of end of/beginning of the year responsibilities, including duties as the volunteer bookkeeper for my church, personal income tax stuff to gather for our accountant, 24 fruit trees and around 60 rosebushes to prune!  I have no idea why I decided to plant so many rose bushes, but they are certainly lovely when they are in bloom.  Besides, I have really been at one of those seasons that I’m sure most quilters have where you just feel dry and uninspired. So, I have tackled only a few small projects in the last couple of months.

I found the pattern and instructions for these really cute butterfly potholders above in one of my favorite quilt stores.  The pattern is “Flutterby Pot Holders” by Valori Wells.  Since I needed some items to add to my quilt guild’s monthly raffle basket, I decided these would be a nice addition.  Besides, it gave me another opportunity to use up  a few scraps out of the ever overflowing scrap bins.  They were really fun and pretty easy to make.  I most enjoyed the design opportunities of picking just the right fabrics.  And of course, as always I learned something in the process.  This time I learned the reason to clip you curves before you turn something right side out through a very small opening.  I totally forgot to do that on the purple and orange butterfly, and you can see that the tail and the top of the “head” aren’t nearly as nicely defined as on the peacock butterfly.  But it was so difficult to turn these right side out, that I wasn’t about to fix the mistake.  We’ll just call this, not a mistake, but a variation.

The next set of potholders I decided to make were inspired by a saying I spotted in a magazine.  This Sunday, our pastor is away with the youth group up at a Christian snow camp in the High Sierras, so one of our Elders will be in charge of the service.  He has decided he wants to do an old fashioned Bible quiz, and asked me to figure out small prizes to give out.  Why does everyone seem to think that I am the answerer of all questions?   I don’t know, but I put my thinking cap on, and came up with these potholders.

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Again, using scraps out of the overflowing bins, the one on the left is a raw edge applique technique that I’ve used a couple of times to make entire quilts.  It’s a lot of fun to make and pretty easy.  As a matter of fact, I was asked to teach the technique to the kids during our summer learn to quilt classes at our little rural Hall.  At that time, instead of making an entire quilt, we thought it would be fun for the kids to make them into potholders and did it as a quilt as you go project since the applique technique really lends itself to doing that.

The things I learned doing this project is how to use my digitizing software to make the lettering curve around the design on the blue potholder.  I’ve had my digitizing software for around 17 years, and I am really just now learning how to do more than simple lettering.  The other thing I learned is the tool I use for joining the ends of my binding, The Binding Tool by TQM Products, doesn’t work very well on such small projects since you have to leave a 12 inch opening to manipulate your binding and trim it just the right way.  The largest side of the potholder on the right was only 11 1/2 inches, so that idea was out.  I used my old, far inferior way of joining binding, which involved tucking the last end into the first end which is ironed at the correct angle….very bulky, and it shows at the top right.  But it looked okay, so I let it go.  On the blue potholder, I learned how to adjust the tool, and got it to line up really closely.  The binding, once joined, was about a 16th of an inch too long, so I took up the excess by reworking the nearest corner.  I think it came out much better.

The last project I’ve gotten done recently was this quilt that I made specifically to donate for the silent auction to benefit the rural museum that some of the local residents have been working on getting up and running for many years to preserve the history of our area.  So far they have one building up filled with items on display as well as a couple dozen vintage farm apparatus.  When driving by quickly, the outdoor display kind of reminds me of scenes from Star Wars so bizarre looking is some of the equipment.

Anyway, here is the quilt, which I named “Riding Till the Cows Come Home” since the back it a print of cattle milling about, doing what cows do.

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The learning experience on this one was adapting a pattern that I’ve used before, Labyrinth by Calico Carriage Quilt Designs, Debbie Maddy designer.  I absolutely love the interwoven effect. Here is how the original pattern looks:

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The bidding was hot and heavy and the quilt was the most popular item donated.  Now they’ve asked me to make a quilt for the next fundraiser in March.  I think I’ve created a monster.  But I don’t mind because I really do love quilting.  The biggest challenge is they hoped I would do one with a covered wagon somewhere on it.  I looked on line and the only fabric I could find was an expensive piece of vintage fabric.  I think they are just going to have to take what they get.  I’m sure as soon as I’m done, a lot of fabric lines will come out with covered wagons.  It always happens.

Dog Bites Quilt Show

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Friday was our annual quilt show at the circa 1890s Hall.  Our quilt show is not judged and there is no voting on favorite quilts, but just is an opportunity to showcase local talent and vintage quilts from local residents.  It also encourages people to buy raffle tickets for the handquilted queen sized quilt that you can get a glimpse of just to the right of the doorway.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from the raffle goes toward scholarships for our local young people.

As you can see, my Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger was front and center and generated interested from everyone who came by.  There was the best turn out for this event since I became involved ten years ago in the quilting group that meets at the hall to work on the scholarship quilt and various charity quilts.  The event was to open at 2 PM, but our first group came at 1 o’clock.  They were folks from out of the area who were driving by to check out the fire damage from the recent Chimney Fire that I posted about a couple of weeks ago.  They happened to see our signs out on the road, and came out of curiosity.  Of course, we welcomed them in early, and the folks continued to come on a constant stream until 7 o’clock, when we took a break for a potluck dinner and to draw for the donated door prizes for those who purchased quilt raffle tickets that day.  My assignment was to welcome people at the door, hand out programs and “white gloves” for those who wanted to pet the pretty quilts and answer any questions.  I was kept hopping the entire day.

Here is a better photo of our scholarship raffle quilt.  It is done in the Carolina Lily pattern. 007

The rest of the photos are of the quilts on display.  I hope you enjoy the photo tour.005

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The handquilting on this last one was finished while the quilter was evacuated from her home because of the fire.

Busy Bee and New Quilting Gadget Discovery

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Since I last posted, the fire that I posted photos of spread, well, like wildfire, causing our neighbors in the two communities immediately south of us to be evacuated.  Fortunately there were no homes lost in those two areas, but the fire burned right up to many of the homes.  The community even further south, on the other side of Lake Nacimiento where the fire started, lost 49 homes.  My prayers go out to those poor people.  My pastor, who is a volunteer firefighter with our local department, his wife and 15 year old daughter opted to not evacuate their home, but brought their youngest daughter and horses to my community to stay at a friend’s ranch.  The friend, Delani, was looking for ways to entertain her daughter, Cheyene, on the left, and the pastor’s daughter, Abigail, on the right, so I invited them all over to make a project at my house.  The pillows the girls are holding are the results of the day’s efforts.  It goes to show, when the going get’s tough, the quilters get quilting.  Both girls picked out their own fabric, and you can probably tell that they are both horse crazed.  Cheyene even competes in local rodeos.

I had been messing around with Jodi Barrows Square-in-a-Square system, which I recently purchased since I am the Queen of Quilting Gadgets, and I stumbled across Jodi’s easy way to basically make a frame around a feature fabric.  I did all the cutting, but the girls did the rest.  I think they came out really cute.  Definitely a great project to do for a gift.

I am really loving Jodi’s ruler system.  It is incredibly versatile.  I wish I had looked into it more previously.  I could have saved a lot of money on buying specialty rulers that only do one quilting component like triangle in a square, diamond in a square, flying geese and of course square in a square.  I have separate rulers for each of these, plus more!

Following my three- month adventure with my doggie art quilt which I posted about previously, I decided I wanted to do something simple.  So I made this baby quilt totally out of leftovers in my stash.

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Once again, I used the Square-in-a-Square ruler to make the pinwheels which come out already trimmed and squared up when you finish sewing them.  Love it!

I also completed this snail trail quilt using the system.  It’s been on my UFO list since I got my new ruler back in May. It was the first project I started using my new ruler for, so I was ready to be done with it.

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The four patches are made from a fall themed strip exchange that we did at last November’s quilt guild retreat.  I really wanted to make it bigger, but I ran out of the brown fabric.  I thought I had found some more of it on line and ordered it, but when it came, it was 4 shades darker than the original, so I just gave up and made the border with the green that was in my stash.  It now awaits quilting and binding.  The quilt guild meeting where it is due as my UFO for this month isn’t until Monday night, so no sweat.  Hahaha.

This coming Friday is our local quilt show at the 120 year old Hall in one of the communities that was evacuated.  It too survived the fire unscathed.  The quilt show is just a showcase for local quilters and vintage quilts made by people associated with this area.

As an ending note, the wildfire I spoke of is over and the evacuees went home last weekend.  It’s wonderful to be able to breathe smoke free air again and not have ash covering every outdoor surface.  The firefighters are heros for saving so many homes!

Creating a Dog From Scratch Can Be Ruff

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I have not forgotten about blogging over the last few months, but boy, have I been busy.  In May, I flew back to Delaware to visit my east coast partner in quilting crime, my sister-in-law, Mary of stitchinggrandma fame.  We had the opportunity to go on a four day retreat with Cheryl Lynch, www.cheryllynchquilts.blogspot.com,  at her lake house in the Poconos to learn how to take a photograph of our pet and turn it into a quilt.  I don’t normally do art type quilts mainly because I like to stick with bed sized quilts and I simply don’t have any wall space to hang an art quilt.  But I am game to try anything once, and besides, I wanted to have a quilting adventure with Mary.  In addition I figured that I could make a pillow top out of the completed project.  So I sent off the above photo of our dear Rottweiler, Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger who passed on at the ripe old age of 12 around 2003.   My first clue that this was too large for a pillow top should have been the fact that we were requested to bring a 56 inch square design wall!   Indeed, the project ended up being 56 or so inches square without borders. Cheryl had us overlay our photo with a grid overlay, and following the grid, make 2 inch squares of fabric.  Sounds easy enough; right?  Well, not quite.  On top of many of those 2 inch squares, other little pieces of fabric needed to be added to make up the details of that particular grid square.  Some of the pieces I used ended up having up to 8 additional fabrics on the little square.

Here is a photo of the end product, minus the binding which I’m still working on.
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I just love the way it came out, but was it ever a lot of work.  I have literally worked on nothing else, except for longarm quilting a quilt for a friend, since I got home just before Memorial Day.  I dreamed about this project.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I was going to achieve a particular effect that I wanted.  I emailed Cheryl and whined when things weren’t turning out the way I expected. (By the way, Cheryl is a wonderful and patient teacher.  I recommend her Pet Mosaic class if you ever have the opportunity.  We were treated like queens at her home.)  I continually asked my dear husband’s (Quilter’s Support Staff) opinion.  I remade the nose three times.  I totally redid the eyes four times.  I remade the eyebrows once.  I was worried I would make a mess of the actual quilting. I agonized over some of the fabric choices.  It was like being in labor for three months.  It was worth it, but I suspect that making art quilts will go the way of paper piecing in my mind.  Never again.  I saw, I learned, I did, I redid.  I’m done!  I am glad I did it though.  It was a real challenge and helped me develop some skills that will come in handy in other quilting projects.

Here are a couple of closeups of the quilting that wasn’t nearly as challenging as I made it out to be in my mind.  The hardest part was remembering which direction the fur on Rottweilers lays because we lost our last one 5 years or so ago so I didn’t have one to pet.

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When I quilted the nose, I couldn’t see the thread on the fabric so I ended up going over the same spot several times trying to make a pebble effect.  The pebbles came out really well on the mustache area that you can see in the last photo, though, maybe because I got so much practice on the nose?

Now that this project is done, I can go sweep the cobwebs off the walls all over the house that have been ignored for so long, and maybe I can blog a little more often.

Old Time Fun & Quilting Too

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Last Saturday, our little rural community held it’s 11th annual Dutch Oven Dinner where everything from chili verde to cinnamon rolls is cooked in dutch ovens.  Well, the one exception is the homemade ice cream.  This year there were over 100 different dutch ovens going.  The cooks start preparing around noon and dinner is served around 4.  It is a fascinating process to watch.  The photo above shows some of the guys getting the charcoal ready to go.  Once the charcoal is ready, it is transferred to a metal bucket, and taken around to the cooking stations, where a few coals are placed under the dutch ovens and a few are placed on top.  The tops have a little lip all the way around that keeps the charcoal in place.  There are specialized tools to lift the lids to stir or check on the food cooking inside.  The piece of metal under each oven is a part of an old plow.dutch oven 3

This is a photo of a few of the ovens cooking away.  When the coals start disintegrating into ash, more is brought around to keep things going. It’s amazing that a half dozen pieces of charcoal is enough to thoroughly cook a dish.

The great entertainment doesn’t stop at watching the cooks at work at this event.  There are also all sorts of old time craft demonstrations.  This year there was several blacksmiths manning their forge, a couple of Native American drummers doing traditional drum chants, gold panning, and there were even two restored chuck wagons that had been set up as if they were an actual campsite.  The one in the photo below was actually used in the ’50s TV series Rawhide and belongs to one of the founding families in the area.

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Last, but in my mind, not least, for the first time, I was asked to do a quilting demonstration.  Below is a photo of my area while we were setting up.  I am in the red shirt, and the incredibly handsome gentleman in front is my wonderful husband, or as he called himself, the Quilter’s Support Staff.

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The other lady is a quilting student of mine who agreed to help out, and later in the day another lady from our local quilting group came and demonstrated hand quilting and sold raffle tickets for the hand quilted scholarship quilt that our group made.  My intention was to demonstrate the versatility of half-square triangles.  The blocks hung on the design wall all have HSTs in them and look totally different from one another.  In reality, I ended up demonstrating how to make 4-patches and 9-patches to beginning quilters and wannabe quilters.  I was pleased to be able to encourage several people to hang in there or to look into actually taking a class.  More advanced quilters also stopped by the booth, and we had a great time discussing our passion for quilting.  My husband amazed and amused me because when I was busy with other people, he was actually using the pieces I had made to demonstrate the 4-patch to show other interested people how to make them.  He truly is the best Quilter’s Support Staff that I could have.

All the money raised at this event goes to build a rural life museum featuring the history and founding of this area. A good time had by all, and I can’t wait until next year.

Stitching Outside the Lines

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At my local quilt guild retreat last fall, we had a strip exchange of 2 1/2 inch strips in fall colors.  I have been working on a quilt utilizing those strips that is a simple four-patch and half-square triangle design.  The above photo is some of the paired strips I had  left over after making all the four patches.  Originally, I just tossed them in my little bin that holds all 2 1/2 inch pieces to be used in future projects….then I got to thinking…what if????

What if I cut the paired strips so that they formed 4 1/2 inch squares and then stack two squares on top of each other right sides together and make a half-square triangle out of them.  Since I evidently can never have enough half square triangles in my quilting life, I decided to try it.  Here is the result:

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Very interesting.  Then I squared them up to 3 1/2 inches and started cutting up more paired strips and making HSTs out of them.  I tried putting them together in a few directions, but really liked this one the best.
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If you look carefully, you can see the outer pieces  give a mitered corner effect.

Here is what happens when I put another set of four next to the original set:

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I can imagine if you used fewer patterns with maybe a little more contrast that this might make an interesting quilt top.  In the above photo, if I had used a different fabric in the middle, then the tiny HSTs would have formed a more distinct windmill look.  Food for thought for future messing around with this technique.

As a disclaimer, I’m sure someone else must have tried this before, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  It’s a great way to use up leftovers or even to try a more planned look.  Have fun playing.

 

More projects finished and unfinished

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A continuation of my “Back In The Saddle” post from the other day, here are a couple of other projects that I’ve finished in the last few months.  The one above really should have gone at the head of “Back In The Saddle” since it is a cowboy themed quilt.  I only had to purchase the border and binding fabric to make this one….so that made it free!  Hahaha.  It is going to be donated to be raffled in a scholarship fundraiser for some of the local kids.  I named it “Happy Trails”.  The back fabric is a print of cattle.

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This one has been on the back burner for about 4 years, every since I purchased the pattern.  I searched high and low for just the right bird fabric to go into the bird houses since I wanted a realistic feel to it rather than whimsical that the pattern called for.  I finally found it when I was blessed to be able to go to the Houston Quilt Show nearly 3 years ago.  All of the birds were in one panel, the perfect size and just what I was looking for.  I tried to use prints of actual “building” materials, although the basketweaves are only good for building bird houses or bee skeeps, and I don’t know many people that actually use bricks to build bird houses, but realism does have its limits.  When I went searching for the background fabric, I was aiming for cloudy skies, then ran across this cloudy sky fabric with mallards flying around…perfect!  Not sure how visible it is in this photo.  I never realized how difficult it was to find fabric that resemble flowers climbing on a trellis.  I did the best I could with what I could find.  I particularly like the brown, bare branches that reminded me of a princess under a spell sleeping in her castle and thorn bushes growing up the walls to keep the handsome prince from rescuing her.  Okay, so I had to have some whimsy.

The last project is as yet unfinished.  Every year I raffle off a custom made to order quilt to benefit one of the ministries that our church is involved in.  This year’s winner was…wait for it… the PASTOR’S MOTHER!  Really, the drawing wasn’t fixed, and she being a magnificent quilter in her own right, gave the prize to the pastor’s wife, who truly deserves this special treat for all that she does for everyone else.  She picked out the center panel, and I purchased the other fabrics and then got her approval on the colors.  I’m not going to let her see it any further than that until it is presented to her.  Here is a photo of the progress so far.

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She really wanted me to include some sort of a trellis pattern in the quilt, so the interwoven border is what I came up with.  It took me two weeks to assemble it.  What a royal pain!  I only had a drawing from the internet that showed little squares representing the placement of the pieces, so had to figure it out from that.  I am really proud of myself for being able to pull this off since math is a struggle for me, even with a calculator.  Each piece of the puzzle was only two inches squared up, an inch and a half finished and included dozens of the dreaded Half-Square Triangles that I keep swearing I will never make again.  If anything was out of order, it had to be torn out and redone, so I placed each itsy-bitsy piece in order on my design wall, and pieced each tiny row one row at a time, placing them back in position on the wall when finished.  When it came to turning the corners and making it all come out perfectly, I was tearing my hair out.  It took me two days to figure it out.  Fortunately, I didn’t sew any rows together until I had them all assembled.  The sides came out to be the perfect length, but I just couldn’t make the top and bottom work until I figured out to put a tiny strip of the yellow on either side of the panel to make it come out just right.  What a challenge.

The blue strip on the left will be the next plain border, then I’m considering putting in a ribbon border made with the yellow, green and brown since it needs more brown.  Once again, I only have a drawing to go by, so we’ll see.  I intend to also make a square-in-a-square border with the leftover flowered stripe that is in the third border out and a diamond-in-a-square border with the diamonds pointing to the top and bottom.  Then the last border will be a companion stripe that matches the panel with the flowers and bluebirds.  The quilt will be a large queen when finished…if I survive the math.

This last photo is of the glorious Lady Banks roses that are giving their all in spite of the fact that my darling hubby butchered them in early January after I asked him not to.  Just because they were bending the wire fence they are growing on to the ground was no excuse for pruning them at the wrong time of year.  I thought there would be hardly any blossoms at all since they bloom on the previous year’s growth and only one time a year at that.  What a pleasant surprise and now I suppose I can let him move back in from the doghouse…for now.002

 

Back In The Saddle again

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Spring is here in the Central Coast of California.  We were blessed so far with near normal rainfall this rainy season after years of severe drought.  This photo of the wisteria over our patio is the best bloom we’ve had in years.  The honey bees are having a heyday buzzing about the gorgeous blossoms.

Spring is one of the reasons why my poor blog has been ignored for the last few months.  I’ve been busy with getting the garden cleaned up, including pruning around 60 rosebushes and 24 fruit trees.  Also we have trays of tomato seedlings that will be ready to go in the garden in another 6 weeks or so.  I still have to get the other vegetables ready to go in.  Time is running out.  It always seems time is running out.  Since I’m the volunteer bookkeeper for the little country church that we belong to, I’ve also been busy getting the end of the year/tax season chores dealt with as well as our personal tax information.  But that is all finished and I can return to the “normal” chaos.

Don’t think I have ignored my quilting though!  I have started and finished several projects in the last few months.  This is a photo of the table topper and the back of it that I made for my quilting buddy’s birthday.  She loves her “girls” as she’s named her chickens.

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I also finished the Half Square Triangle Hell quilt that I was complaining about earlier.  Here is a photo of the ho-hum original block, and the blockbuster secondary pattern that one gets in the finished product (the pattern is called Joanne’s Quilt).002002

One of the other projects that I worked on was making an eight foot by 4 foot banner at the request of the local Episcopal church’s vicar.  I forgot to take a photo of it after it was finished, but here is a photo of it partially done pinned horizontally on the design wall.  There are 3 of the Celtic crosses evenly spaced over the 8 foot length and it is bordered all the way around in black.005

There are several more projects that I have done, but now I’ve got to get back to getting chores done so I can spend the rest of the day working on another medallion quilt that has me stumped as to which pieced border to add next.