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!

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.

Scrap Dance Top Done

A few months ago, I signed up to do a mystery quilt Quilt Along at the blog From My Carolina Home.  (https://frommycarolinahome.wordpress.com/)  It was supposed to be finished by September, and I couldn’t figure out why it was taking me so long to complete mine.  I was following the directions to make a twin sized quilt, and it seemed like there were just an endless number of pieces to cut and sew together.  Once I started putting blocks up on the design wall, I figured out why it was taking forever.  The directions actually made a queen sized quilt!

Here is a close up of one of the blocks, showing that I ended up using two different background fabrics because I ran out of the swirly looking one about two-thirds into the project.  Fortunately, I had two fabrics with very similar colors in my stash.  The rest of the quilt was made totally from scraps, and even though there are so many pieces, it didn’t even make a dent in my scrap bins.

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Here is a photo of the completed top:

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I just love how this quilt turned out.  It was worth all the effort put into it, including having to tear out one row of one of the blocks after the top was completed because the HSTs in that row were facing the wrong direction and ruined the pattern in that section.  At least I found it before it was quilted and bound.

Still knocking names for it around in my head.  One is “No Kitchen Sink” and another is “Quiltaholic goes Scrap Happy”, but we’ll see.  Now I have to go back to half square triangle hell (see 1280 HSTs on the wall post previously) that I took a break from a couple of weeks ago in order to complete this top.  So, stand by, I might actually finish that quilt soon.  One can always hope.

“Name This Quilt” Contest

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This is my latest “nearly finished” project (just one side of the binding left to be handsewn) which I started about a year and a half ago. It is done in a “Radiant Star” pattern by Eleanor Burns which I started in a class at a local quilt shop. It has become my most favorite quilt that I have ever made, replacing even a one-block wonder made several years ago which is now a close second. I love to name my quilts, but can’t decide on what I should call this one, so I thought I would encourage feedback from readers of this blog. The prize for the winning entry is a still-in-the-package “Splash” rotary cutter by Olfa. If you’re not familiar with this type of cutter, the blade is changed with just a flick of the thumb…no more struggling with trying to figure out which way to put the parts back together. A real time and frustration saver.
The rules for the contest are simple. Just post your name for this quilt in the reply section of this blog on or before June 1st, 2015. The winner will be chosen purely subjectively by me, oneblockwonderwoman. A hint, I love humorous names and plays on words. For instance, I once named a flowery strip quilt that I made for a great-niece “Rows Garden” because the name just made me laugh. I like more serious names as well that really fit the quilt. You may enter more than one name. And that’s all there is to it. Time permitting, I will post the winning name the week of June 1st and get your rotary cutter off in the mail as soon as I get a mailing address from the winner.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the creativity I know quilters possess. Thank you in advance for participating, and feel free to share this contest with your fellow quilters.

From panel to finished top…

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Well, the quilt top for the raffle quilt that I posted about a couple of weeks ago is ready for quilting. The panel at the beginning of this post is the original fabric used to make this one block wonder.
Here is a photo of the finished top.
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It was a total fluke that the main body of the quilt came out as a heart shape, but I decided to leave it that way since the people who won this custom made quilt are newlyweds.
On to the next project, which you will be surprised to hear is….another One Block Wonder! I just can’t help myself.

How I celebrated my birthday

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Well, it all relates to quilting of course! I recently joined a group of fellow One Block Wonder fanatics on Facebook. Not being terribly tech saavy, I decided to post some still shots and a description of how I am able to quickly chain piece the hundreds of triangles needed in a OBW without getting any of the pieces scrambled. Of course a picture is worth a thousand words, and my instructions were unclear to many of the quilters, so they requested I do a video. So first thing this morning, I asked my incredible hubby to film my technique. This meant he had to put off leaving for his fishing trip to a local lake (he’s as obsessed with fishing as I am with quilting) for about ten or fifteen minutes, but he did it. Much to my horror, I realized at the very end that he had focused on my face, which I’d asked him not to do. Who is that fat old woman? The camera must have added 20 years as well as 50 pounds to me! But I don’t have the ability or time to figure out how to edit the video, so I decided to instead just grimace and bear it. It only took another two hours to figure out how to post a video on YouTube, since I had evidently at sometime in the ancient past created a YouTube account with my current email address and have no idea of the password. So I tried another email account that I had created a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t sign onto that one either, resulting in signing up for a third email account. That finally worked, and the video successfully uploaded. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Here is a link in case anyone is interested in either checking out this chain piecing technique or just laughing at that fat old woman at the end of the video.

With all the morning now gone, I buckled down and got the finished blocks for the raffle quilt mentioned in the last post placed on the design wall in a potential design that still needs a bit more tweaking.
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Then I got the borders on a Double Wedding Ring quilt that I made several months ago and that remains on my UFO list.
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So, it’s been a wonderful day. And the incredible husband, who was supposed to be back from fishing and hour ago, is going to take me to dinner.

The Long Saga of the Raffle Quilt…with a happy ending

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Every year, our little country church raises money to pay for a well in a village in Asia that either doesn’t have one or where Christians aren’t allowed to use the village well. The wells are placed on the property of the Christian church of the village and all people from the village are invited to use the well as a witness of Christ’s love to all. So far our little church has been able to provide three such wells. This year I got the idea to combine my love for quilting with this wonderful cause, and we raffled off a custom-made quilt for one lucky person. The winner got to choose the size, colors and general style, traditional, modern/contemporary, or my favorite, One Block Wonder. The winner is the granddaughter of one of our church members and the winner lives in Texas. So after the drawing in early December, I emailed her photos of the various styles and asked for her color and size preferences. She wanted a One Block Wonder (Yea!) in blues, purples with a touch of red with a vibrant look to the colors. Since then, I have been on the hunt for the perfect fabric, thinking it would be easy….NOT!
The photo that I started this post with is fabric number three which I ordered off the internet (as I did the first two possibilities). With this fabric, UPS either lost it or left it next to our mailbox on the busy road we live on, so I had to wait an extra 10 or so days to get the replacement shipment, making sure I would be home to accept the deliver at my front door. I was so excited when it came, and it is a beautiful fabric, but it really lacked the vibrancy that I was hoping for. Here is a photo of what the blocks would look like when cut into the OBW design.
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This is a photo of the OBW that caused the winner to pick that style:
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A world of difference. Fabric No. 3 is nice, and will make a lovely OBW with some tweaking, but just not in the same league as the completed example.
Well, finally, I found the absolutely perfect fabric!
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Now, I’ve never before used panels for a OBW, but why the heck not? So I ordered 7 panels. I always put a piece of the original fabric somewhere in the quilt as a reference to the transformation. The extra panel will be part of the back of the quilt in this case. After cutting the side borders off the panels since they wouldn’t add anything to the quilt, I stacked them and lined up the design elements and started cutting. Here is what the first few hexagon blocks look like, just randomly placed on the wall.
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I think it’s going to be fabulous! Just enough bright colors to keep it from being too serious like the previous fabric. So in this case, instead of three being a charm, four is a charm.
But now I have three other OBW quilts started that need to be finished. Good thing I’m the One Block Wonder Woman.