Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Ernie Express Quilt, Etc.

It isn’t very often when after a quilt is a finally finished that the weather is co-operative for taking photos outside. This past Tuesday was one of these rare occasions with beautiful sunny skies, warm temperatures with a slight breeze and the landscaping around our house looking presentable thanks to the Master Quilt Holder which made taking photos such a pleasure for once. 
Last August, I purchased a fat quarter bundle of Jen Kingwell Grainline Wovens with the intention of making another Ernie Quilt (You can see the previous ones make here) with this and  my stash of Jen Kingwell fabric scraps. After my strips were cut, combinations decided and strip sets sewn, the project was put away and sort of forgotten until I happened to come across it this past March.  
As I was ready to start cutting the strip sets to sew the 4”x8” blocks, I happened to catch with the corner of my eyes, the 6” Checkerboard Express block which I designed for Moda’s 2017 Countdown to Christmas, (You can see the tutorial here), hanging on the board next to my sewing machine. I thought that I could spice up the Ernie Block if I changed the orientation of the block and make the blocks 12” x 16”.
I also had another idea of instead of using just two fabrics, I would use four fabrics just like the original block I submitted to Moda. I decided that this block would be my “A” Blocks which would be the checkerboard blocks in the center and the rail blocks on the outside. Since I didn’t want all of the blocks to be “A” which then all of the checkerboard segments of the blocks would be lined up and running up and down the quilt, so to offset this, I designed a “B” block with the checkerboards on the outside and the rail block in the center and only using two fabrics. Because of this newly inspired design, I had to add some Cotton+Steel and other bright prints so there was enough fabric and variety for more strip sets.
After the Flimsie was finished earlier this month, I have to admit I was disappointed with the way it turned out. I liked how the “B” blocks with using just two fabrics looked and wished the “A” blocks only had two fabrics also. It’s rather ironic that after the Checkerboard Express Block with the four fabrics was accepted by Moda, I switched to just using two fabrics to keep it simple and because I liked it better--wished I remembered this when I started making this quilt.
But I’m happy to say that once I quilted it with a combination of straight and wavy lines, I really love this quilt now.  The colors and fabrics are so happy. I used an Essential Thread in Charcoal Gray and the binding was a small white polka dot on black print. Also what is nice about the Ernie Express Quilt is that it’s a finally finished but I am feeling a little guilty that I have 12+ flimsies waiting to be quilted and this one jumped ahead of the queue. Maybe it’s because I just purchased yardage of the black and white splatter print last week and knew it would be a perfect backing for the Ernie Express Quilt.
Here are some close-up shots of some of the blocks so you can see the quilting and the happy fabrics.
Before I quilted the Ernie Express Quilt, I was planning on making another one with using just two fabrics for the Type A and B Blocks with my newly acquired stash of Alison Glass fabrics but now am having second thoughts. I’m thinking now of just making just the usual Ernie Quilt unless I see another pattern for these wonderful prints. But if I do make another Ernie Express Quilt, I will provide instructions on how to make it since I’ve come up with a different and maybe a faster way to make the blocks. If the strip sets for this quilt weren’t already cut and sewn, I would have made it this way.
I thought it would be interesting to show a photo of my first Ernie quilt made over four years ago with Jen Kingwell fabrics next to the Ernie Express Quilt, so named since it was inspired by the Checkerboard Express block.
Here’s a photo of the happy Master Quilt Holder who was glad these photos went without a hitch. This quilt measures 60” x 80” which was just the right size to hang it on the garage door with heavy duty magnetic clips which I learned about these from Shannon, The Fleming Nines, who learned about them from Myra, Busy Hand Quilts. Between hanging long quilts from the garage door or from the gutter outside the screen room, I don’t think a clothesline is needed which makes the Master Quilt Holder very happpy.
I had to include a photo of the Ernie Express Quilt with my metal goat Susannah as a shoutout to Mary Etherington, Country Threads, the designer and inspiration for the Ernie Quilts.
Just when I’m thinking that my stash of Jen Kingwell fabrics is dwindling, I’ve decided that I need a new challenge, which didn’t involve falling down and bumping my head and making me forget I have a “fear of Jen Kingwell patterns.” Maybe it’s because of inspiration from my down under quiltTormentor Sue, Patchwork and Play and her wonderful creations she’s been posting lately on her Instagram and Blog.  I have a new “forever” project with Jen Kingwell’s Glitter pattern which I’ve been procrastinating doing since finishing Smitten several years ago. The templates were purchased back then and I admit I was not looking forward to cutting the fabric until I saw that paper pieces were available.  I originally was going to use reproduction fabrics but decided that I needed more Jen Kingwell fabrics so I purchased a fat quarter bundle of WikiPops and a jelly roll of Fine and Sunny, my early Mother’s Day present. Cutting the fabric pieces will be easy with the templates and using 2-1/2” strips, which I am looking forward to cutting up my new stash. I think there might be leftovers and another Ernie quilt would need to be made which now seems to be a tradition.
My first four blocks for the Sandra, mmmquilts, Follow Your Own Path QAL, are sewn and I am happy to say these blocks were a snap to make which is no surprise. After participating in all five of Sandra’s QAL, her patterns are fun, sew easy and quite conducive to wanting to finish the quilts all at once.  I am quite surprised at myself for sewing on schedule and not being the usual “rebel”in her QAL. But I do have a new name for her; the great mmm-tivator. Funny I had visions of Darth Vader and hearing the Empire music as I was typing this.
Thanks to my Accuquilt Go Baby die cutter and Flying Geese die along with my Stripology Ruler and a brand new blade on my rotary cutter, the remaining patches are cut and I am ready to sew the rest of the blocks.  My quilt will be the throw size and my arrows will be going both left and right. But before that, the dreaded Tax Returns must be filed first.

If you have been reading other posts on Blogger, you will know that starting in July, Feedburner will no longer be sending posts through email but you could continue seeing posts through Bloglovin which is a problem for me since my posts are no longer being picked up by them. I’ve contacted them several times and have not yet received a response. For several years I’ve been avoiding link-ups since it seem to be atttracting “strange” activities on my blog but I guess I will start doing link-ups again. Hopefully I can resolve my Bloglovin issues before July.

Linking up with My Quilt Infatuation, Needle and Thread Thursday and From Bolt to Beauty, Brag About Your Beauties.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Slow Stitching, Scraps and Small Quilts

I had mentioned in my previous posts of being inspired by the many posts from other quilters who shared their Kawandi, Kantha,  Boro, Sashiko, etc. quilts and since then have learned of Chiku Chiku stitching. You can find wonderful examples of these techniques on Pinterest. All of this to me translates to big stitching which I’ve been happily doing for the past months in between visits to the Grandparent house and during downtime (watching TV) when I am home. I thought I would share the projects I have been working on or have completed.

Although I liked the techniques behind the Kawandi, Kantha and Sashiko patchwork quilts, I thought I would work on the patchwork blocks, which were scraps I hand sewn to batting squares while traveling to Yellowstone in September of 2017 which you can read about it in this Post.
My original plan for these blocks were to either make coasters or pincushions and since there were around nineteen squares sewn, I thought I didn’t have a need to make that many of them.

After I trimmed them, there were at least twelve of them which were 6” square and thought I could make two rectangular quits or placemats.
Before the backing was added, I did big stitch hand quilting with #10 white crochet thread.  I got this idea from BanjoFlannel Method of Patchwork Sashiko.  The rows were spaced 1/2” apart and after I quilted four rows, I skipped a row.  After I was done big stitching, I then added the backing and machine quilted the binding.  You can see in the photo above, the 1” spacing between the four rows.
The reason for skipping a row was that once the backing was added, I then quilted this row, which there were three, and I consider them to be the “tacking” row” since their purpose to hold the backing. This is something I learned from making several quilts with the  Quilt As You Go method, and that is, since the top and batting are quilted together and once the backing is added you only need to quilt it at certain intervals to keep the layers together.  I liked how these turned out and after all of the big stitching I did I don’t want to use them for placemat since I can’t bear to see them getting stained.
I’m really liking the big stitch hand quilting and used it for this small wall hanging which had been a flimsie for over ten years.  I did do some machine quilting in the ditch before hand quilting the three layers.  I will say big stitch quilting is much easier when only the top and batting is involved. This small quilt is what call my Patchbox Quilts which I someday need to write a Post about my idea behind these small quilts.
It’s funny that I went into 2021 subconsciously wanting to start making small quilts which is what I’ve been doing when I’m at the Grandparent House which is much easier to make than a large quilt. The quilts on the bottom of each row are ones made from patchwork blocks with batting and ready for big stitching and the others are machine piece and waiting to be machine quilted with some big stitching accents
Here’s another one I’ve been working on where I machine pieced scraps onto a piece of batting and did various stitches with #8 Perle Cotton which I love.  I left some areas unquilted and once I add the backing, I’ll add the “tacking” stitches. What I like about these projects is that I have several of them going on at once and I can switch between them when I get tired of working on one of them.

I now have assembled a project box containing patchwork blocks, batting squares and scraps which is ready to take when traveling between the two homes. The tools and notions are kept in a separate pouch. This is really a nice, portable project and a great way to use up the scraps that just keep on multiplying.
And here’s another small quilt just finally finished which is my #2 of Country Threads Dirty Dozen UFO Challenge.  The top was finished in 2017, coincidentally the same time when the aforementioned Patchwork Blocks were first sewn.  This quilt measures 25” x 33” and is a combination of wool circles and squares made from Thimbleberries fabric.  This idea for this quilt was inspired by one I saw on Pinterest from orangesink blogspot and this is the second one I made based on this pattern.  When the Dirty Dozen UFO Challenge started last year in July, this is the one I really wanted to finish sooner than later since I  have a spot for it at the Grandparent House.
We’re leaving for the Grandparent House tomorrow for a four-day visit and upon my return, I’ll be setting aside my Slow Stitching projects for some serious sewing— Sandra of mmm quilts’ Follow Your Own Path QAL which according to me is the sixth QAL of hers which I have participated. More importantly, this is the fifth year I will be celebrating a Famous Canadian’s birthday and I’m thinking a special commemorative T-shirt needs to be designed. My fabrics have been chosen and surprisingly I have not yet started nor plan on doing any deviations.

Today would be a great day for stitching but sadly doing the Taxes are yelling at me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Country Threads Dirty Dozen UFO Challenge—First Quarter Catch-up of Finally Finished

I’ve been keeping up with my participation in CountryThreads Dirty Dozen UFO Challenge with the exception of January in which I was a week late but otherwise February and March I was done before the end of the month. January’s UFO finish is one project from last year, blocks were made and the top needed to be assembled and quilted and February and March were UFOs, flimsies, from 2013, the year I retired. Here are the deets:

Modern Puzzle Pattern by Christa Watson 

I originally was planning on making Pat Sloan’s Stoplight pattern and had all of the 2.5” strips done but the squares still needed to be cut. I switched patterns when I saw Janine’s Quilts From the Little House Modern Puzzle Quilt which only uses strips and no squares.

Size: 54” x 72”, 8” blocks, fabrics used were mostly from Pat Sloan collections with some Bonnie and Camille and Crazy/Mom Good Neighbor fabrics.

Quilting was vertical wavey lines using variegated threads of primary colors.

The backing was pieced using leftover blocks, several decade old dark blue print with a Connecting Threads stripe print. It still wasn’t long enough so I had to several inches of a denim print leftover from the backing from the I Love London quilt. My yardage of Pat Sloan fabrics is dwindling and had to scrounge to find the red tone on tone print which there was enough for the binding.

Fig Tree Square

I retired in 2013 and one of my goals was to use some of the bundles purchased from the Fat Quarter Shop. I remember my subscription to the Moda Fabric of the Month Club which I received twelve fat quarters from different Moda designers. I designed this quilt top based on the fat quarters of the Butterscotch and Roses fabric line designed by Fig Tree; I used the floral fat quarters for the plain blocks in a controlled layout and the smaller prints for the rail blocks along with yardage of the rick rack and gingham from other Fig Tree fabric lines. Again the layout for the rail blocks was controlled.

This quilt measures approximately 52” square and quilted in diagonal wavey lines and straight grid lines using a Connecting Threads’ apricot/peach thread.
The backing was purchased online after the bundle was received and have been patiently waiting in the backing vault. And once again the gingham print which was used for some of the rail blocks was used for the binding which was safely tucked away in the binding drawer for almost eight years.
Dominique Square

This was another flimsie made in 2013 and I’m pretty sure if involved buying a Dominique Charm Pack along with yardage. This fabric line was designed by Sentimental Studios and has the most gorgeous Rose print. There aren’t too many Rose prints that I don’t like and justify buying rose prints because it has my name on it. I just love quilts mixed with pretty florals, toile, plaids, stripes and ticking. The pattern was again based on what I had and I’m pretty sure the plaids, stripes and ticking was from other Moda collections like Three Sisters.

This quilt measures 56” squares and was quilted with straight horizontal lines spaced 3/4” apart.  I’ve always admired this type of quilting done by Mary Etherington, Country Threads, and was determined to do this with the Dominique quilt  and resisted doing cross-hatching.  I love how modern quilting looks on traditional quilts.

A golden khaki tan thread from Star Machine Quilt Thread was used and blended nicely with all of the prints.

The tan backing was found in the backing vault and fortunately had enough even though it involved some piecing. The binding was the floral print used in the top and bottom borders and I was tempted to use the red ticking on the side borders but it’s the floral print which was saved in the binding drawer.

The next three UFOs remaining in the Challenge involves the last remaining square quilt top made in 2013 and used Lori Holt’s first fabric line. And of course, one of the other two was one I really was anxious to finally finish since I want to hang it up at the GP house. Joining this UFO Challenge was a great way for me to finally finish some very old projects and I’m looking forward to doing a recap post in July.

For someone who doesn’t like making square quilts, I made one as a bystander in the SAHRR (Stay at Home Round Robin) QAL since I liked the idea of making a quilt from an orphan block leftover in a Pat Sloan BOM and some Granny Blocks made last year with my Bee Sistas.  I didn’t do all of the rounds and wanted to keep it a small 40” square. The top is ready to be quilted and bound and had to scrounge once again for binding in my Pat Sloan stash.  

I’m trying to be good by not starting any new projects when I’m home which sometimes is only three to four days a week, and want to quilt some flimsies from last year but I keep finding wonderful fabrics and know the squirrels are calling. Plus, my left arm is pretty sore from receiving my second vaccination on Monday so not sure if I could handle doing machine quilting right now. I am working on projects involving small quilts and slow stitching when I’m at the GP House and I will share by the end of the month.

Hope all is well and if you’re experiencing snow still like we are, I am so looking forward to Spring.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

I Think I May Have A Feedsack Fairy Godmother

I’ve been meaning to post about my spending time during the month of February with my Feedsack fabric scraps which I haven’t played with for awhile. I’ve written several posts in the past about my infatuation with Feedsack fabrics, how my stash was acquired and the quilts made. Since we were spending a lot of time at the Grandparent House, I thought one of the projects I could do with the Feedsack scraps was to resurrect a project started over five years ago when traveling to Yosemite on a family vacation.
I always like to have a create-on-the-go project to do in a car and thought handpiecing feedsack scraps onto a flour sack would keep me busy and was doable since I had the entire back seat as my sewing studio. Here’s a photo of the start where I started sewing strips and can’t remember if I eyeballed the 1/4” sewing line or if I marked it. You can see the wooden stick used for pressing the seams down.
And this is where the project was left, still a lot of pieces to be sewn down to fill the flour sack foundation.
Here the top is finally finished and I decided this would make a nice size cushion since it’s the size of a standard pillowcase.  This would look so lovely sitting on a back of a wicker bench, wouldn’t it? Sad, I only have a chair and rocker.
Another reason for working on this project is that I’ve been seeing a lot of quilters online sharing their Kawandi, Kantha, Boro, Sashiko, etc. quilts and loved the idea of doing some big stitch quilting on this future feedsack cushion.  If you look closely, you can see my big black stitches which I’m using embroidery thread and hoping it won’t take another five years to finish. I’m also working on other projects inspired by the aforementioned quilts which will be another post for another day.
When I needed to take a break from the handquilting, I sewed some string blocks which measures 7” finished.  It’s a good way to use up the string scraps and the newsprint paper from old financial reports.  After making around twenty of these blocks I had to stop because I was running out of long enough strips and variety which made me sad because I am fond of so many of these prints.
Now to explain the title of this post and the photo at the top - I was going through my bins of Sandy Gervais fabrics today and didn’t find what I was looking for so in the process of putting the bins back on the top of the shelf, I came across a very long shoebox, 14” long, tied with a ribbon, which I don’t remember why this box was with the Sandy Gervais fabric.  I was really afraid to open it since my studio is in the basement and didn’t want to find anything creepy crawly in the box and much to my surprise and amazement, it contained lovely big chunks and strings of feedsack fabric, many of them my favorite prints. I don’t remember putting these scraps in this box nor why they would be separated from my feedsack stash which is on the other side of the studio. I do know the shoebox was mine since my feet are that big. So, as I was telling my Hubby of my lovely discovery and not knowing how the box was put in that corner of the studio, I decided I must have a Feedsack Fairy Godmother which makes sense to me since most of my Feedsack stash was given to me.  I’ve already separated the strings from the chunks and will be taking them with me the next time we visit the Grandparent House.

I’ve not posted since the first week of January and have been only writing a monthly post which I clearly missed February.  I can see why some bloggers write daily or several posts during the week since a lot of things can happen. So fearing that my next post might be as long as a novel, I thought finding the box of Feedsack Scraps was an impetus to finally write a post so I can keep track of what’s sewing around in my studio. I still have other posts to write about, especially my Country Threads Dirty Dozen UFO Challenge finishes which I hope to finally write about at the end of March. I’m glad I finally am biting the Blog Bullet and getting back on the Post saddle despite my problems of my posts not being picked up Bloglovin’. You might read me sooner than later.

Monday, January 4, 2021

First Quilt Finish for 2021 and 2020 Recap

It’s a great way to start the new year with my 2020 Monthly Color Challenge quilt finished during the first three days of 2021. The last of the blocks were sewn during the last week of December and was briefly a flimsy  on New Year’s Day and a Finally Finished last night. Photos were taken around Midnight in my studio knowing that outside shots were going to be impossible with the cold, snowy weather coupled with cloudiness we’re experiencing lately and I’m sure the Master Quilt Holder appreciates not having to stand outside.
Last year when the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge hosted by Patterns by Jen and learning that the theme was going to be Birds, I knew I wanted to participate because  it met one of my major requirements for joining a QAL—I had the perfect fabric in my stash.
I purchased these fabrics during our visit to Granby, Colorado in June, 2018 at The Fabric Nook.These fabrics are from three different collections: the Birds are from a P&B Textiles, Bird Watchers by Norman Wyatt Signature, the black print on the upper left corner is from Henry Glass, Black, White & Bright and the ombré prints are E.E. Schnenk, Daiwabo Selection. The Bird prints probably caught my eyes first and was lucky to find the other accompanying prints which really went so well together with my quilt I named Sweet Tweety Birds. Not only did these fabric fit the Bird Theme but after seeing which colors were going to be featured each month, I knew these colors in the fabrics were going to “fly”.
I will admit that I tweaked some of the colors to better match the ones in the Bird prints. Also, I found early on that my ombré prints couldn’t be used as much since some of the patches were too big and/or the right colors were found elsewhere in my stash, mostly tone on tone.
After the blocks were finished, I had to come up with a layout which I could best include the Bird and Black Stripe prints and I came up three alternate blocks:  a vertical rail block with the bird houses, a horizontal rail block with the birds and the Puss In Corner (funny to use these for a Bird quilt) Block. I decided to exclude the feather and egg prints of the Bird fabric line and will save it for another quilt. I did not have enough fabric for a border and really didn’t want one anyways since this quilt already measures 52”x72”. These alternate blocks really are what we would call sashing but in order to get around not having a border and feeling less guilty, I had to think blocks. It could be a quirk of mine to think borders and sashings sew together in a quilt.
After going through my head the number of ways I could machine quilt Sweet Tweety Birds (horizontal straight lines, cross hatch with straight grid lines, etc.) vertical straight lines 1” apart, except for the alternate blocks, won. I decided, almost when I was done, to do some horizontal quilting to accent the black squares in the Puss in Corner blocks.  I used an #2105 Aurifil thread, 50 wt. and I love how this creamy yellow went so well with all of the colors in this quilt.
The backing is a multi-color batik print from the backing vault and might I mention is as colorful as the front of the quilt. I decided to bind the quilt with the same black fabric used in the Puss in Corner blocks.
I am loving my Sweet Tweety Birds quilt so much it will be hanging around the studio for a couple of months before it migrates to the GP House. I can say this is my favorite finish so far this year. It is so nice to already have a first finish and when you read my 2020 Recap a little less UFOs is certainly welcomed in the studio.

For the past several years, my New Year’s Day tradition is watching the Rose Bowl Parade while recapping my 2020 projects and compiling my 2021 projects. This year, I forgot about the parade, recapped my 2020 projects and just didn’t want to commit to anything for 2021 except to participate in the Famous Canadian Birthday QAL which I’ve been doing for the past five years and to continue with the last six months of Country Threads Dirty Dozen Challenge.

2020 Recap 

I had 29 Finally Finished quilts/projects for 2020 which my goal is to have 24, two for each month. 
  • Fifteen were new projects in which only two of them used new fabric purchased last year and fourteen were UFO’s and a big sigh because three of them were over 20 years old, one from 2004, two from 2013 and four from 2016.
  • Nine of these were lap size or larger and twenty-two were smaller (wall hangings, table runners or baby quilts)
  • Five of these projects were for the darling Granddaughter.
  • Nine of these  projects were squares which almost is unusual for me who prefers rectangles.
I also have twelve flimsies which for the past several years I had zilch or just a very few. What’s making me wonder is that only two of these involved new fabric and I tried but fail to observe a 2020 fabric fast and must have mostly bought basics. I am going to have to reorganize my two backing vaults since my 2020 projects gave me some room which I should have no problems filling up.

Also, I have and sure most of you have finished in 2020, countless face masks which I know I’ll be making more in 2021.

Here is a Link to my 2020 Quilts and Projects for your viewing pleasure.

I’m glad to be able to post this before we head to the GP house tomorrow.  I plan on bringing my Country Threads Dirty Dozen project for January which will involve no sewing, just pressing and trimming blocks and, of course, staying warm.