Monday, July 26, 2021

Connections

After I announced my fine-line piecing prompt for Bee Sewcial, my bee-mate M-R told me she had been thinking of something very similar for her July prompt. Oops. Similar yet different, M-R settled on the theme of "Connections," expressed with circuit boards. My first thought, as is so often the case with Bee Sewcial prompts, was yikes!

It was serendipity that my pre-ordered copy of Lisa Congdon's new book, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements: The Powers, Uses, and Histories of Every Atom in the Universe, arrived on my doorstop at the perfect time, and it contained just the inspiration I needed. Block size was optional, as long as they added up to our typical two-12" blocks. I made my first, small-ish block (6.5" x 10.5") just to make sure I was on the right track. Once M-R approved that, I felt free to move on.

My second (8" x 13.5") and third (13.5" x 15.5") blocks continued to be challenging design-wise, but the palette - reds, white, and grays - helped keep my angst at bay.

A new prompt will be coming soon, so I'm relieved to get these mailed off.... AND looking forward to seeing my beemates' response to the prompts. It's always interesting to see how we each are inspired!

Friday, July 23, 2021

All the Fine Lines

Marking the moment when all my Bee Sewcial blocks have arrived and they are up on the design wall!

Bottom row: Marci, M-R, M-R

You might remember that my prompt for them was 'Fine-Line Piecing,' and if you want to try the technique for yourself, I provided a tutorial of sorts. Loving the varied blues and golds, and all the lines make your eyes dart everywhere, don't they? Now the hard part.... mulling over a possible layout and construction. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Summer Breeze

What's not to love about a pinwheel, right? I absolutely loved those pinwheel-spinners-on-a-stick that I remember from my childhood. So there were good vibes right off with this week's Summer Sampler block, Summer Breeze, designed by Nadra Ridgeway/Ellis & Higgs.

This one involved some very unique piecing, and a certain 'matching' trick came in handy more than once. Do you know the one where you pin the edges you need to sew together, but before you sew the length, you stitch just over the trickiest match area with a long (I use 4.0) basting stitch? Just stitch an inch or whatever it takes to cover the tricky area. Then remove from your machine and take a look to see if your match is perfect. If not, it's easy to remove that basting stitch and try again. Once you've got it, stitch the length of the seam as you normally would with a regular stitch length. This tip has saved me numerous times, including in the making of this block! Anyway, it's done and I really like all the spinning going on.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

100 Day Summer Sewalong :: Day 50

Seriously. How can we be half-way through the 100 Day Summer Sewalong!?! It's been casual and so doable to keep up with my  bow tie blocksTruth is, it's often hard to stop at just one block when I sit down to stitch, so sometimes I do several, meaning I'm usually a few days ahead. 


I've been itching to put them all on the design wall, though I think it's a little early for that, since I'm also working on other projects. But I AM anxious to see them all together. One.Day.Soon.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Sailors

With so many larger finishes to share lately, it felt good to focus on this week's Summer Sampler block while I watched our guild's meeting on Zoom this week. Designed by Lucy Engels, it 'explores size and shape in this take on the Dutchman's Puzzle.' I was able to use Lee Heinrich's Perfect Flying Geese templates again for the smaller pairs of geese, and I really like the unique larger geese with that bottom 'bar.'

I also swapped out the main blue fabric I had been using for a tad lighter Carolyn Friedlander print. I'd intended it as an alternate since the beginning of the sewalong, but finally used it in this block. It just felt like the time was right.


I'm super pleased with my collection of blocks so far. Six down, seven to go, including the large center block near the end. Looking forward to that one!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Firefly Tote Finished!

Oh this was a really fun one! As I shared during Week 1 of the Firefly Tote sewalong, the pattern is by Anna Graham/Noodlehead, and I made the Project Size of the tote. Picking up from Week 2, where we made the bag's exterior and drawstring closure, this week we 'put it all together' so to speak, which just went so smoothly. 

The 8mm nickel rivets add stability to the handles plus an added touch I love. I got mine from
MinkusMargo, and I'm finally pretty comfortable installing them. For the ties, I used 3/4" black twill tape I'd ordered from Anna's shop, though I cut mine longer (2 - 30") than the pattern suggested and am glad I did. Finally, for the zipper pull, I used black Waxed Cotton Cord, also from Anna's shop. Love all those little details!


As I mentioned a while back, this bag is destined for my daughter, Rachel/
@snippetsofsweetness, and I really hope she loves it as much as I do. I'm so glad I tried the dry oilskin for the exterior - I'll definitely be looking for ways to use it again. And the tote just has some great features, with that front zippered pocket, and the opportunity to use some special focus fabrics in both that pocket and the drawstring closure. 


Anyway, the sewalong ends this week. Check out the #fireflytote and #fireflytotesewalong hashtags on Instagram to see lots more of these delightful totes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Bowtie


Bowtie quilts just draw me in lately, basically since I learned that my maternal grandma, Vesta, used to make them years ago. So when Cheryl/Meadow Mist Designs asked if I'd like to participate in the blog hop for her new book, "Just One Charm Pack Quilts," I chose to make the bowtie variation.



When Cheryl first told me about her book, I thought it was a novel idea, as most of us have those random charm packs stashed away. But I didn't even think of the fact that using a charm pack, besides adding some real nice fabric variety to the quilt, would make it quick and easy to sew up.



As I rummaged around in my stash seeing what my charm pack options were, I came across one made of solids, which isn't the norm, at least from my experience. All the ones I had ever used were prints, and I thought using the solid one might be a nice option, showing off the versatility of Cheryl's quilt designs. The charm pack I ended up using was "Blues" by American Made Brand (SQ0118), with a really fun blue/green ombre among its squares.



For background, I started with Kona White, but in alternating sections also used Moon and Stars in white from Andover Fabrics. That was just a fun design choice since it went so well with the Kona Lighthouse I chose for the "Irish units," plus it also was a good fit for the quilt's eventual recipient. Then it was an obvious choice to use Moon and Stars in gray for both the quilt's backing and binding.


It's quilted with a simple diagonal grid which I think accents the design nicely, while keeping the quilt  comfy cozy.



"Bowtie" finished at 40.5" x 48", a generously-sized baby quilt. And I can honestly say that it was a really enjoyable one to sew. In addition to the bowtie-like blocks, I really liked that they were combined with Irish chain diagonal rows. The ombre added a really fun touch, but I'm confident the design would be equally charming no matter what charm pack was used. 


So I'm fortunate to be one of the first stops on Cheryl's book hop for her new book. Follow Cheryl on Instagram, and her blog, Meadow Mist Designs, to see more designs from the book. She'll be featuring them throughout the hop, which goes through July 29. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Octo

Octo started out as unadulterated fabric play.... pull a favorite mix of fabrics, be inspired by a vintage quilt, and go at it creating some improvisational blocks. It all began with a glance through Bold Expressions: African American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Riley: May 15-November 6, 2011, a book my daughter, Rachel/@snippetsofsnippets, purchased for me when she was fortunate enough to view the exhibit. The quilt that directly influenced mine was "Giant Octagons with Dividing Bars Quilt," made by an anonymous maker in Mississippi in the 1930s-40s. 

It didn't take much to figure out the improv "snowball" block, as it's commonly known. And made up in some coordinating prints made it super endearing. I'm not usually a fan of sashing and borders, but considering my original inspiration, I just went with it. I made it my own with the varying widths in both, with the added fun of some piecing in the borders.


For the backing, I found the perfect ombre stripe in my stash, Lulu by Chez Moi for Moda Fabrics. Measuring 38" x 51", the quilt top barely fit my chosen backing, but I was careful, and it worked. 


For quilting, I debated, and finally settled on Fancy Straight Line, a favorite from Jacquie Gering's  WALKETA: using Aurifil 50wt #2975 [Brass]. Having used a combination of solid quilting cottons and Diamond Textiles' yarn-dyed cottons, an exceptional amount of texture was created during quilting, and I'm not quite sure if it was my basting or the fabric mix, but in the end I find it fits the mood of the quilt just fine. That, and the yard-dyeds lent a luxurious and soft drape that I love. Batting in this one was Quilter's Dream Select, which may have also added to that drape, but at any rate, it's a soft, cuddly quilt.


I meant to mention, to bolster my memory if nothing else, that the beginning bit of inspiration for my fabric pull for this quilt was a piece of Martini in Mustard from Midwest Modern by Amy Butler. It's the lighter print in the above photo. I've enjoyed this print over the years in more than one colorway, and used most of what I had left as the back for my recent Bow Ties No. 1. For this quilt, I made as many blocks as possible with my remaining bits, so now there are truly only scraps left. So expect to see the last of it in at least one more small project.


It felt like this simple quilt took me forever. For some reason, machine-sewing time has been more limited than usual, so on one hand it dragged on; on the other, it was always nice to come back to. And it reminded me just how much I enjoy the modern traditional aesthetic. Here's to more of it.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Snowflake Sampler :: Simple Woven Flower

Another block in the Snowflake Sampler block-of-the-month, this month's design was easy to follow once I got comfortable with it. I may not have ever actually said this, but for each block, it's up to the maker to mark the gingham squares with the stitching design, at least the foundational stitches. I've been using a Frixion pen to make a tiny dot in each square that needs a stitch, per Blair's suggestion. The dots are usually covered by my stitching, but I also press the block once I'm done, which has taken the dots completely away. I don't usually use these pens for marking on the right side of a fabric project, but it seems just fine for this particular use.

Again, most of the work on this block consisted of star stitches, so by the time they were complete, the variegated weaving was a treat for sure. Once trimmed, this block will measure 10" x 20".

In case you missed my previous blocks, here they are!

X and O Star   +   Tiny Snowflakes   +   Lacy Flowers

Large Snowflake   +   Woven Star   +   Pearvocado

Classic Star

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Firefly Tote Sew-Along Week 2

It may not look like much, but I completed week two's assignment in the Firefly Sew-Along, and the end is in sight! Where week one had us selecting and cutting our fabrics and sewing together the front pocket; in week two, we made the bag's exterior and drawstring closure. Look at those cool leather handles! Now to just finish it up....


The dry oilskin exterior fabric has been a pleasure to work with. I'm still not sure if it's ok to use pins with it, so I've been sticking with wonder clips, which has worked just fine. If you aren't familiar with dry oilskin, here's a brief blurb about the Merchant & Mills product on a verb for keeping warm.

If you still want to sign up for the sew-along, click here to enter your name and email. Each week’s email includes links for the previous sew-along emails, so you can catch up on everything!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Reunion

I was pleasantly surprised how quickly this week's block went together! "Reunion," a design by Lee Heinrich, one of the Summer Sewalong 2021 hosts, is a unique version of the more traditional Friendship Star. Unique in that I had to look hard to 'see' its inspiration. 

Though it's made of familiar components - simple curves, stitch-and-flip triangles, and HSTs - it's really a fun twist, isn't it? It actually reminds me of a pinwheel, as you can just feel the movement, right?

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

2021 Mid-Year Check-In

Back in December, Yvonne/Quilting JETgirl hosted a 2021 Planning Party looking towards the year ahead, So now, months later, it's time for a #2021MidYearCheckIn. Funny thing is, I always immediately forget that I wrote a "plan," so I'm as surprised as anyone to see how I've been doing. Luckily, not half bad!


The Quilts
  • Of course I want to make something with 2021's Pantone colors of the year, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. Once I get official Pantone swatches, I'll begin the process of choosing fabrics. - It's in the works! It's an ongoing project in the form of Seattle MQG's block of the month, the Salsa Medallion. Slow but sure, it's coming along, and the next prompt will involve some curves.


  • Dare I say there are no wips lurking about? Still hoping to finish my RAY quilt before 2020 ends, but if not, promptly in 2021. - Mission accomplished. This was a really enjoyable one and the first I'd hand-quilted in quite a while.

RAY Quilt
  • More stash-busting and scrap-using is definitely in order. AND improv. The goal of at least one finished quilt project a month really encourages me along, so there's that too.- I've managed the monthly quilt project quota so far, and there's been a fair amount of scrap usage, so pretty pleased how that's going.


  • And Bee Sewcial, an improv and solid-only bee, is heading into our 7th(!) year together and I anticipate the group growing a bit. This bee has really challenged me over the years, and I look forward to more of that. - Pretty excited about my current prompt, fine-line piecing, and blocks are still arriving.


Handwork
  • I definitely want to keep up with the handwork I've been doing this year, and continue to be open to learning new techniques. Thus I joined Blair Stocker's Snowflake Sampler to learn chicken scratch embroidery. - This project is going great. It's all new to me, and I'm enjoying the stitching a lot.


  • I'm also currently working on a large Dropcloth Sampler, and finishing that in the new year is also a goal. - Another mission accomplished, and it's one of my very favorites! 


The Community
Again, mostly I want to do more of the same:
  • Regular, frequent posting on the blog here and on Instagram. They pretty much go hand in hand for me. - This is going well, and I'm thrilled I figured out a new way to get blog posts to my email subscribers - whew!
  • I plan to carry The Scrap Basket into its 6th year, though as much as I enjoy publishing it, I keep debating if it's cost-effective. Prices have jumped with a growing readership, and considering I publish just once every few weeks, it's costly. At this point, I consider it a gift to my community and justify it that way. - All still true, and I got a lot of positive response on the most recent issue, which is encouragement to just keep it up for now.


QuiltCon Together
  • It's not the same as QuiltCon, that's true, but I'm really looking forward to QuiltCon Together, and have signed up for a pretty full experience. - oh yeah. It was different of course, but still really good. Thoroughly enjoyed it!
New Directions
  • Is it bad to say I have nothing major planned? So much is uncertain, I'm giving myself the grace to take it as it comes. - For not planning anything major, it's been plenty busy. I participated in IGQuiltFests 2021, and besides the Snowflake Sampler, I'm also hand-stitching along with #100DaySummerSewalong, making bow-tie blocks; and participating for the 5th year in the Summer Sampler. In addition, I've done a couple of pieces of liturgical art, which I didn't anticipate; am participating in a blog hop soon, and also have an upcoming feature I'll share about when the time is right. All in all, it's been a good creative year so far, and I'm pretty much enjoying it as it unfolds.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Email Subscription Update

It took me a while to actually face the fact that Feedburner would no longer be supporting my blog's email subscribers, but I finally really looked into it last weekend, and I think there's a workable solution. In looking for said solution, I knew I wanted something timely (IE. subscribers would get email notification of each blog post very soon after it was posted), preferable free; and ideally, in a way that wasn't too complicated.


There were actually a couple of issues in losing Feedburner: one being the capability of gathering the emails of readers that wanted to subscribe to my blog posts via email; and two, my sending out of each post to those readers. I happened upon this article: Best Free Services for Email Blog Subscriptions by Jen Ryland, which proved very helpful in getting me started. It directed me to download the list of my current email subscribers, which I saved while working on the next step, setting up a new way to let readers subscribe, since Blogger's FollowByEmail widget was also going away.

Also, How to Integrate MailChimp signup form with Blogger website? by Techyleaf suggested  using AddThis to create that intake, and though I'm not 100% positive it's the perfect choice, I was able to add a pretty prominent banner across the top of my blog. AND it works. So I'll leave that in place for now, while I'm still learning the ropes.

Jen's article also led me to seeing Mailchimp as a possibility for sending out my blog posts via email. I thought that would be ideal, since I already use it (for a fee, due to my number of subscribers) for The Scrap Basket newsletter. It took some figuring out, but I was able to set that up using Mailchimp's "Automation" feature - yay! The best news is, I was able to pretty seamlessly import the list of subscribers I downloaded from Feedburner right into Mailchimp, so no resubscribing was necessary. Plus I can more easily see when emails bounce or whatever and keep that list more current.

Unfortunately, I missed the part on Feedburner about deactivating the email service or my subscribers would get duplicate emails (one from Feedburner, one from Mailchimp). So that may have happened on June 30, and if it happened to you, apologies; though I'd love to know that. I've now deactivated Feedburner, so subscribers, you should be receiving just one email from Mailchimp. Yes, it'll go away anyway sometime in July, but we don't really know when. Meanwhile, let me know how that's looking for you, ok? From my end, there's still a bit of tweaking to do, but at least it's working while I clean things up a bit.

If you happen to be a Blogger + Mailchimp user like me, here are a couple more articles I found helpful:

After the fact, I happened across Moving Subscribers Away from Feedburner and Into Mailchimp (Updated Guide 2021). Looks like there may be another way to add a subscribe option to the blog, so I may look into that. Besides that though, there's a lot of helpful info there that I managed to find out by searching. Maybe I can save you from some of that.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Petal Prism

Every Petal Prism block I saw in the Summer Sampler this week was a stunner, so I was pretty excited to see how mine turned out. Designed by Wendy Chow of The.WeekendQuilter, it's inspired by the traditional Spool and Grandmother’s Choice quilt blocks. Together, these blocks form an enhanced Sawtooth Star.


The design incorporates half-square triangles and flying geese, and since those geese are my nemesis, I used Lee Heinrich's Perfect Flying Geese templates, and am super happy I did. I even left the papers on while I added the accent corners, and that worked like a charm.

So blocks 1 - 4 are done, and I kinda love 'em! I'm super pleased how all the fabrics in my pull are playing together, but really think that Kona Limelight is adding a little something extra to the overall effect.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

100 Day Summer Sewalong :: Day 30

Things are plugging right along in the 100 Day Summer Sewalong! I'm thoroughly enjoying piecing my bow tie blocks by hand, and I'll confess, neither size takes me that long. What I'm especially appreciating is that none of my print fabrics are exactly the same - a few of the same design, but a different colorway - so that has kept things interesting.

My background fabric, Kona Enchanted, is a little tricky to photograph sometimes, but the first and third photos here show it most true. It is definitely more green than blue. 


So it's been pretty random whether I stitch a small block (4.5" unfinished) or a larger one (5.5" unfinished) on any particular day - just whatever strikes my fancy when I sit down to stitch. At any rate, it's going good, and it's hard to believe I'm nearly one-third done with my 100 blocks!

#100daysummersewalong

Friday, June 25, 2021

Firefly Tote Sew-Along Week 1

I actually purchased Anna Graham/Noodlehead's Firefly Tote pattern right off when she posted about it, as I was beginning a summer hand-sewing project. But then I realized I already had a project bag I could use, and set the pattern aside. That is until I saw Anna was hosting a sewalong. So why not, right? And I started rummaging through my stash to see what I could use to make it just to give the pattern a go.

Anna suggested using waxed canvas or dry oilskin for the tote's exterior, and miraculously I discovered the perfect amount of  Dry Oilskin in Midnight (1/2 yard), which I'd randomly ordered from OakFabricsChicago a while back just to see what it was like. Note that it has a texture and weight very similar to waxed canvas. This particular piece is Waxed Cotton Duck, 7.2 oz., and 59" wide.

So I had in mind to make the Project Size of the Firefly Tote, which is a drawstring tote pattern that comes in two sizes. The Project Size is the smaller of the two, and measures 8" wide (measured at base), 5" deep, 10" tall. Though it doesn't require that much fabric overall, I don't have many pieces over half a yard in my stash these days. What I did find was a one-yard cut of a favorite quilting cotton from Lizzy House's Andover Catnap Collection - which was perfect for the accent fabric. Thing is, I knew that it just might be something that my daughter, Rachel, would want, Lizzy being one of her favorite fabric designers ever. So I texted her with a pic, offering the fabric to her OR then again, I could go ahead and make the tote, then gift it to her! She liked that idea, which was perfect.


From there 'we' chose an appropriate lining - Essex yarn-dyed in Indigo, and though I had a nice black metal zip on hand, I ordered up a few other supplies from Anna's shop:

  • 1"-wide Leather Handles in Black (the 18" pair)
  • 3/4" Twill Tape in both Black and Denim, so I can see which works best
  • Waxed Cotton Cord in Black, as a possible zipper pull

I also ordered some 8mm nickel rivets from MinkusMargo and still need to find some black drawstring cord.

So the sewalong began on June 23, and the first week's assignment, besides choosing fabrics, was cutting all the pieces and front pocket assembly. So I got that done and now will wait for next week's assignment and the rest of my supplies to arrive. So far, so good!


Thursday, June 24, 2021

At the Table

In general, I make notes on every recipe I make, whether it's in one of my many cookbooks, or on a recipe printed off from the web. Usually it gets dated, and possibly a short comment; but always, always, if it's worth making again, it also gets a star. And if it's REALLY good, it gets two stars! That's my system. Most of the recipes listed below got two-stars, and we've enjoyed them multiple times. 

Though I haven't been as good about sharing them here, I've continued to try lots of new recipes during the pandemic 'stay-home' time, and even as things have begun to open up. Here are some of our current favorites:

Smitten Kitchen

  • Kale Salad with Percorino and Walnuts - I know. Kale, right? But something about this mix has had me hooked, and I've made it more times than I can count. 
  • Simple Cauliflower Tacos - Another big surprise. Cauliflower + Tacos had never before been in our vocabulary. But in an effort to go meatless more often, we happened upon this keeper. Plus, it's quick and fun to make.
  • Homesick Texan Carnitas - Yeah, not every night is meatless, and this recipe is so easy and so tasty, plus always seems to provide leftovers to share or enjoy another night.

Fine Cooking

  • Rainbow Chard with Pine Nuts, Parmesan, and Basil - If there's one food I've incorporated more into our meal plans that I'd never had before, it's rainbow chard. It's a new favorite vegetable, and this recipe is a simple one to tweak depending on what you have on hand. (Also good with bacon, a little onion, or golden raisins or currants.)

NYT Cooking

i am a food blog

Tik Tok Baked Feta Pasta - You've seen this one I'm sure. It was all over my Instagram feed for a while, and I finally just had to try it. And it was GOOD. Worth a try, for sure.

Half Baked Harvest

And maybe these didn't get two stars; but one for sure, and we'll make them again. We love a wedge salad and these both were really enjoyable variations.

So, sorry I'm not a very good food photographer, and honestly, I forgot to take many food photos lately; but trust me, all these recipes are good ones! Be sure and tell us in the comments about any new favorites you're found!