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.

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!

This and That

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Maybe I should spend a little less time quilting and a little more time making sure summer squash harvesting is getting done….Nahhh.  These guys really were hidden and totally escaped both my husband’s and my notice.  They are too heavy to wear as bracelets, but will go really well in zucchini bread.  A friend of mine also just gave me a recipe using shredded zucchini in lieu of flour for a pizza crust.  It sounded intriguing and will be worth a try.

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This is the first day of the “Chimney” fire just a few miles from our house.  It’s called the Chimney fire because it started near a landmark called Chimney Rock.  Many homes have been lost.  The fire has been burning for a week now and as of this morning has consumed 15,439 acres and is only 35% contained.  Cal Fire says that they are concerned that Hearst Castle is now threatened.  We have a lot of friends who live in the path of the fire to the north, but the fire remains on the southwest side of Lake Nacimiento at this point and hopefully won’t cross the narrows of the Nacimiento River, which is what it was threatening to do yesterday.  It seems it is moving more in a westerly direction, which is good news for most.

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In one of those good news/bad news situations, My friend and I have been making the above signature quilt for a 16 year-old girl from our church who was shot in the head twice two weeks ago.  It was a gang shooting and she was riding in a car with someone whom she shouldn’t have been with.  One of the bullets went in her eye and the other shattered her cheekbone.  Everyone in the church immediately started praying for her.  The family was told that she wouldn’t survive the first night, and if she did, she would be a vegetable.  Two days later they removed the bullets from her head and did their best to save her eyeball.  There are several bone fragments buried deep in her brain that they can’t remove without doing more damage.  The good news is the next day after the surgery, she was texting her friends and up walking around.  Because she knew sign language, the doctors tried testing her cognitive capacity by asking her to sign the alphabet.  When she did that perfectly, they asked her to sign the alphabet backwards, which she was also able to do.  It’s really a miracle.

Instead of making the traditional signature quilt, I dug out my old X-block ruler from Patricia Pepe, which I hadn’t used in several years and made the tweaked blocks seen above.   I dug through my scrap bins and stash to find the happiest fabrics we could.  We are now gathering signatures and words of encouragement for her.  Even though things are going well, it will still be a long road both physically and emotionally for her.  We wanted her to have something tangible that she could hang on to to reminder her that there are a lot of people who love her and are praying for her.

 

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.

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.