Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Project Archives: Baby Quilts

This week's topic for Val's Quilting Studio: Tuesday Archives is "Scrap Quilts and Projects" and I've linked this post to the "Projects" section.   However, last Tuesday when I clicked over to Val's blog to see what the Tuesday Archive topic was for that week, I landed on this post.   I thought it meant that the Archive topic was Baby Quilts.  While I do have a long overdue one that I need to start and made one last year, I did realize that this would be an opportunity to create a new Archive post about some "pre-blogging" projects that haven't been featured here before.  So I spent a lot of time looking for the old pictures of these projects and researched and gathered links and other pics of some of the background information for the post.  When I had it just about finished, I clicked back to Val's blog and found out that the real Archive topic for that week was "Selvedge Projects"!  Unfortunately, while I have done a Selvedge project (seen here), since it wasn't in a stand alone post and the actual post was pretty long, I didn't link it up this time.
However, since this post was already written I figured I'd publish it anyway.  So the story goes:  I've only made three Baby Quilts, although one was technically a toddler quilt.  This post is about the first two of those three (the third one, the one I made last year, can be seen here).  My cousin has two children, a boy (the oldest) and a girl.  Back in 2004 when my cousin announced she was pregnant, I had only been quilting for two years but just knew I had to make a quilt for the new baby.  The quilt I planned to make eventually became this one:

This is an old Mountain Mist design (#33 for any of you that have one of their old "Blue Books").  In the original design it is made with an all blue background and white appliqued bunnies.  It can be seen in the back of the picture below which is from County Living's "Country Quilts" book (Hearst Books, 1992).

I got the pattern from "Simplicity Quilts & Patches", a magazine style book on quilting that belonged to my cousin's mother and that she had let me have back in the late 70's when I was a teenager!  Back then I only sewed clothing but I had held onto the book all these years because I found the projects so charming.  So when I came across the book in my things, I just knew I had to make the quilt for her first grandchild from it.  At the time, my cousin and her husband did not want to find out the gender of the baby until it was born, so I decided to do the bunnies in different colors of pastels to keep the quilt gender neutral.  What can't been seen in the picture is that the background fabric is not just white but a white ditty print with very small pastel letters (in the same colors as the bunnies) sprinkled all over it.

This was my first big, formal applique project and needless to say I was so nervous about doing it that I procrastinated starting it until after my cousin gave birth to what we eventually found out was a boy.  Even after he was born, I still vowed to make and gift the quilt but the procrastination continued right up until his first birthday!  It turns out that stalling was a good thing because at his party, it was abundantly clear that this little boy, even at one year old, was not a pastel bunny type of kid!!  The good news was that my cousin also announced that she was pregnant with her second child and already knew this one was going to be a girl.  So my plans promptly changed and I decided that the bunny quilt would (when it was finished) now go to the new baby!

However, that meant I still owed my cousin's son a quilt.  Fortunately, they bought and moved into a house shortly after that party.  When I went to see it, my cousin had already started decorating her son's room.  It was painted a bright blue and had a fish theme ("Finding Nemo" was the big thing at the time).  Voila!! Room theme = a new quilt theme and  I now knew what his overdue quilt had to be.  The quilt I eventually finished for him was this one:

It was my interpretation of a quilt that was in Quilters Newsletter Magazine called "Gazing Into Clear Water".  It originally appeared in QNM April, 2006  (# 381) but has been offered as a free pattern with their subscription offers in recent years.   I changed the design in an effort to make use of some novelty prints I had found that had a fish theme.

You may have noticed that I said "eventually" finished.  I didn't get both quilts done until Christmas 2007 when the little girl was about a year and half old and the little boy was now three.  I actually finished up the quilting on the bunny quilt on Christmas Eve that year!  They did make great Christmas presents though.  The sad part was finding out two years later (when I made and gifted the kids new "big kid quilts" for Christmas that year, seen here and here) that after I gave them those first quilts, my cousin had  promptly put them up in a closet and wouldn't let the kids actually use them because she didn't want them to mess them up!  

Another interesting story about these quilts:  while I was in the process of making them, I had decided to make special labels for the back of each.

I had planned to quote poems I had seen in Quilter's Newsletter, attributing them to the respective authors on each quilt.  For the daughter's quilt, I had planned to use a verse from the poem "Little Bits Of Fabric" by Sue Mullane that I had seen in the December 1996 (#288) issue of QNM.  A few months before I finished their quilts, QNM had published an article in the October 2007 (#396) issue called "Small and Smaller".  At the start of the article they too quoted the same poem but attributed it to "Anonymous"!  I promptly emailed the editor letting them know that the poem had actually appeared in their magazine.  I got a very nice email back saying that even they hadn't realized that the poem originated in their magazine because most of the staff at the time of the article publication had not been at the magazine when the poem was originally published.  When they had researched the poem, they found it listed in numerous places (including on the Department of Justice's website) and since it was always attributed to anonymous they had accepted that as so.  True to their word, they printed a correction in the Bulletin Board section of the January/February 2008 (#399) issue.

So I hope you enjoyed this special Archive post of the "Journey of the Baby Quilts"!  Oh, and BTW, I also later found out that after my cousin's mother saw their quilts, she started quilting too!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sign Up for the 2016 Piggy Bank Challenge

It's that time again:  time to sign up for Val's 3rd Annual Piggy Bank Savings Challenge over at  her blog, Val's Quilting Studio.

You may know Val from her weekly hosting of the Tuesday Archive link-ups (more on that at the bottom of this post).   Val started this savings challenge to put aside money for quilting purchases.  Now she and her DH compete to see who can save the most!  When the savings for this year were revealed, Val won!  I participated for the first time last year and managed to save almost $40 and it's going to fund the first  few months of a BOM.  I'm hoping to do even better this coming year but the challenge will be to figure out how!   I know, I know, just put in more money -- but it's not that simple since most of the change before now came from tips in change that my DH received as a UPS driver and from bottle returns.  My DH is starting training tomorrow to move into the tractor trailer division so (fingers crossed) won't be delivering packages any more which leaves just the bottle deposits.  Actually, if I can keep my oldest son who is a commuting college student from raiding it for carfare, maybe I'll have more to show at next year's reveal!
As before, whatever is collected will be saved in here: 

This is the jar my DH pressed into service many years ago with a plan to put the accumulated cash toward vacations.  When I started adding the bottle return money and found that I often received bills in addition to change, I needed a way to store them outside of the jar.  I decided to use the little jewelry pouch for that purpose.  It works and can be stored right on the jar for convenience and easy access!

Maybe you have a lot of loose change hanging around?  Then why not start your own jar and link up with Val and the rest of us and start saving for some special quilty purchase for next year!!!

Re:  Tuesday Archive Link-Ups


Now there's even more incentive to participate in Val's Archive link ups.  Val's hosting has gotten so popular  that she now has a sponsor!  That's right, not only do you get a chance to reviatlize some of your older blog posts but you might win something for doing it!  Everyone that links up a post on her blog on Tuesdays will be eligible to be added to a drawing at the end of the month for a $15 gift certificate to the online store Fabrics N Quilts!  Each Tuesday, Val posts what the topic for that week is and if you have a post (an old one or a new one) about a project that fits the theme, just link it up and give everyone a chance to read about something they may have missed.  I follow so many blogs at this point, I welcome the chance to catch up on some posts that I haven't seen or find new bloggers to follow.  So head on over there on Tuesday and join the fun!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Piggy Bank Challenge Reveal!

Today's the day we get to empty our Piggy Banks (or jar in my case) and participate in Val's 2nd Annual Piggy Bank Challenge Reveal!

This started when Val and her husband both began saving their change and then challenged themselves to see who could save the most.  Val blogged about their competition and encouraged by the response from her readers, opened it up for everyone to join the challenge too.  For quilters, the idea is to use the money saved to buy quilty wish list items although you are not limited to that. 

I was intrigued because my DH and I have kept a jar for years with the idea of saving up our change to put toward vacations: 

As I reported last year, we've never filled the jar since we have often raided it for change for school lunch money, train or bus fare or parking meters.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when the emptied jar yielded a little more than $37 dollars mostly in dimes, nickels and pennies!  So I decided to try again and see how much could be saved this year.

My husband was usually was the one bringing in all the change.  He's a UPS driver and his elderly customers often gave their tips in change.  I mostly shop by debit card and when I do spend cash, I am usually that lady digging in her wallet for exact change to pay the cashier.  So for me, saving change has been about putting the proceeds from our recycling bottle returns into the jar. 

When I went to empty the jar today, I must admit there wasn't much in it!  It was mostly pennies and not so many that I couldn't just count them myself rather than taking them to the Coinstar machine like I did last year. 

Total yield $3.60

I'm not surprised because I haven't noticed DH leaving change on his night stand as much this year and with our oldest son in college and commuting, we'd often hear him raiding the jar in the morning for change because he forgot to fill his Metrocard (electronic fare card) the night before.  However, not to fear because unlike last year we have a backup source:

When I started saving the bottle return money, I found that I often received bills in addition to change.  I didn't want to put them in the jar since it would mean breaking it to get them back out so I put this little jewelry pouch into service for them.  Empting that today:

Total Yield:  $36!!
So our total piggy bank savings for this year:  $39.60!  For having actually having paid attention to trying to save, we only beat last year's take by $2.44 but it's still money we wouldn't have had if we hadn't set it aside.  So what's my wish list item?  Today I received instructions for the first block of Turning Twenty's new free mystery BOM.  As part of it they are also selling block kits in Kaffe Fassette fabrics (cut your own or precut)  so this will pay for the first two months kits (for four blocks total).  I'm not sure if I will use the kits to make the BOM or just add the fabric to my Kaffe stash but either way I welcome the additions to the stash I've been collecting for a series of  KF quilts I want to make.  
For the next year, I'll still keep the jar although it will be limited to being funded by the bottle returns.  DH is starting training next week to drive tractor trailers.  Hopefully, in the coming months he will be transferred to that division which means he will no longer deliver packages.  If so, it's good-bye to tips but a much less physically strenuous holiday season!
So thanks Val for another year of encouraging saving!  Link back at Val's to report your savings container contents or be encouraged by everyone else's savings stories to start your own Piggy Bank!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Get It Done! June Recap, July Goals

Another month has just whirred by!  The commitments are finally all done with the exception of the Community Garden which will continue until the Winter.  Now I'm hoping the rest of the summer can be about focusing on what I want to get done!  It's been a slow crawl back to the machine so there's not much new to report.  But a few things did get done so without futher ado, the review of the June Goals is as follows:
 1. UFOs:  Quilting on the Civil War lap quilts.
 NOT DONE but with another quilt that also needs layering, I have high hopes for finally getting these done.  
2.  Wool/BOMs: Finish stitching the last two month's ornaments and work on the next block for this month. 

NOT DONE and now I'm behind a month because I didn't get to prepare the one for June.   June's stocking will be the last of the stockings and with it done, July means it's time to start work on the mittens.

3. Applique:  Work on and finish Spring Fling so I can hang it for the season before it's over.  Now that Heart & Home is tabled until the Fall, I still need to decide whether I will machine or hand applique this one and whether it will temporarily become my Slow Sunday Stitching project.  

Since Summer started last week, that goal is a bust since this one is NOT DONE.  The question now is whether to still try to work on this or put it away until next year?
3.  Hand Work:  I still want to resume "Slow Sunday Stitching" but still need to decide if it will be with "Spring Fling" or finally restarting work on my old Quilt-As-You-Go project.  I also still want  to mount the finished Lincoln/Obama Redwork in the Red, White and Blue room so maybe I can bundle that with the QOV work.

The one's mentioned were NOT DONE, however I did get some work done on this little project:
 I needed only a little bit of time to hand applique the crow on my little wall hanging. Hopefully this month I can complete the embroidery and prairie points and finish this one up!  Wait!  I guess this also counts as an applique project as well.

4. Gift Quilts: Once again, I still NEED to start work on the baby quilt.

NOT DONE.  This is starting to look like one of those baby quilts that will turn into a toddler quilt before long.

5.  WIP:  Work on Thea's Puzzle, make up quilt sandwiches for the FMQ Mystery at Lori's Inbox Jaunt and plan the Seminole bands for the kitchen curtain project.  Again, more Spring season clean-up.

Top (on the design wall; the white is the outer border) and backing (on the table in the picture) are now DONE so now it's on to layering it for quilting.  With regards to the rest, looks like the "Spring Season Clean-Up" will turn into a "Summer Season Spruce-Up"!

6.  Quilts of Valor (aka No Longer A New Project): Fortunately because I had planned to work on QOVs throughout the summer months there's still time to make up for the Memorial Day one and still make one to commemorate Flag Day in June and one for the Fourth of July. 
NOT DONE (and no picture since it's still just a stash box for now) and another project I'm worried may never get off the ground.

Once again, for July, the Goals will be much of the same:
1. UFOs:  Quilting on the Civil War lap quilts.  Time to git' 'er done!!
2.  Wool/BOMs:  Finish stitching the April and May ornaments, prep and stitch June's and then start on the mittens for July.  However, I also have another set of pouch ornaments to make so the challenge will be to not only catch up on what I'm behind on but to work on two new ornaments each month until Christmas. 
3. Applique:  To Spring Fling or not to Spring Fing, that is the question.  Right now, I don't kow the answer! 
4.  Hand Work:  I will finish up the little "Crow" wall hanging.  I also still want to resume "Slow Sunday Stitching" but still need to decide with what.  Another "To Be Determined". 
5. Gift Quilts: Yes, still keeping the baby quilt o the agenda.  Actually at this point, I can slate it for a first birthday gift.
6.  WIP:  Quilt Thea's Puzzle and make up the quilt sandwiches for the FMQ Mystery at Lori's Inbox Jaunt and plan the Seminole bands for the kitchen curtain project. 
7.  Quilts of Valor:  There's alot of ground to make up on this one.  If I can finish some other stuff maybe I can finally pull these out and make some headway on them.

That's it for me so all that's left is to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July!! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Still Working....

Well, "Thea's Puzzle" is a top!  As figured it was easy to sew up and throughout that process I've begun to think about how I want to quilt it.  But before I can do that there's another task to be completed.....
In the picture above, the Kaffe Fassette fabric ("Turkish Delight" in the Grey colorway) laying on top of it is the start of the backing.  The plan right now is for two more side borders in the KF fabric, a border of wedges (which I'll be sewing today) and a center of the same Kona white that is the outer borders on the top.  The binding will be the same inner border fabric used on the top (Joanna Figueroa's  "Fig & Plum" by Moda from a few years ago) and those strips also have to be cut.

I was at Wendy Sheppard's Ivory Spring blog a little while ago and she wrote a post about how she can tell how productive a week she's had by what she's accomplished on her "To Do" list by Wednesday.  I also look at Wednesday as a signifier: what I've gotten done by then tells me if I'll be scrambling over the weekend to try to finish up the work I'd hoped to complete earlier in the week!  This is particularly true this week since I've got a "Get It Done!" recap due next Wednesday!

After getting this backing done, I'm debating between layering for this quilt and the Civil War Samplers or whether to close the month out by catching up on the wool ornaments.  We'll see on those but for right now let me focus on getting this back done and keeping things moving! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Getting Back To Work - Part 3

Just wanted to get this posted before I have to head out today.  As I've said in my last few posts, I've been working my way back to my quilting.  When I posted earlier in the week, I showed how messy my cutting table was -- definitely an impediment to doing any sewing.  Lori Kennedy over at the Inbox Jaunt did an Open Line blog post on Friday asking quilters to share about whether cleaning their space led to more productivity or new ideas.  I know that when I'm in the midst of a project, the clutter doesn't bother me but when it comes time to start something new or restart my creative mojo (with all due respect to Mark Lipinski), the clean slate can be invigorating!

That said, I've cleared the design wall....

...and cleared the cutting table....

....and cleared the sewing table....

....so now what's at bat?

I decided to start with the Thea's Puzzle Quilt since it is simple, improv stitching.  It's a perfect warm-up!  The picture shows the final audition of the placement of the wedges for the blocks.  I sewed them together last night but with DH and I headed out to volunteer at a Father's Day event today, I probably won't get to trim and square up the blocks until tomorrow.  While stitching the wedges together, I also started on another little project that I was able to use as a leader/ender:

A long while ago I saw the little heart applique wall hanging (lower right) on eBay.  While I liked it I had no where to display it.  What I did have was a frame about the same size that hung in my living room and needed to be filled.  The simple design inspired me to try to make something inspired by it that could go in the frame.  I found the perfect fabrics in a stash of fabrics I won on Vicky's LA Quilter blog a few years back when she was trying to downsize her stash.  I've been wanting to put together a few projects that highlighted what I received and while I have a few ideas for those projects, this is the first one I've been able to push forward.  Looking forward to doing a little applique and embroidery on this one!
A very Happy Father's Day to all! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Getting Back To Work - Part 2

So I'm trying to get my quilting groove back.  To that end, there are a lot of upcoming Mystery and Quilt-Alongs coming up that I hope I will be inspired to participate in.

Hands Across the Water

The first QAL I heard about was the quilt along that's going on to make Australian designer Jen Kingwell's "My Small World" quilt that's in the Spring special edition of the French publication Quiltmania. 

Lisa Calle of Vintage Modern Quilts (and Texas) is hosting this one.  As soon as I saw this, I so wanted in!  This is just a portion of the quilt -- the finished piece is 33" x 52".  In fact, I knew just the spot for such a quilt:

But there were two problems: one was getting the issue!  I searched my local stores but no one had it.  It was on the Quiltmania site when I first looked it up but after I had scoured the stores, when I went back to their site, it was no longer on the Special Editions page!  I ultimately had to mail order it in all the way from Illinois (with much thanks to Valerie at The Quilt Merchant)!!

Now that it's here, the next problem:  The space I want to put it can accommodate the width but not the height (I have about 22" of usable space) so I'll have to think about how to change the design.  The smallest units are already cut to about 1" x 2" so I doubt that I can go any smaller.  What I might do is eliminate some sky rows and a few of the in between rows to bring the height down (but still keep the skyline in proportion).  I also have room to go wider so might just use what is taken out in the middle and add it to the sides.  Hopefully I can figure it out before the QAL gets too far along.

Quilt Of Valor Mysteries

Next I read that Alycia of Alycia Quilts is doing another QOV QAL called "Starry Night for Josh".  I had bought fabric for the Mystery Quilt she and Vicki Welsh of Field Trips In Fiber did last year and that was at the top of my make-up list for the "Patriot Quilts for the Patriotic Months" plan I had for May, June and July.  I'll probably only get to download the instructions for the new one since I want to use up the QOV stash I've accumulated before buying more and don't think I have the larger cuts in stash that she's calling for in the new design.  I am, however, hoping to absorb inspiration from the current QAL to finish up the old one and finally get some QOVs donated.

"Turning" On A New Mystery

Lastly, I also recently read that Tricia Cribbs of "Turning Twenty" fame is doing her first Mystery!  Needless to say, a Turning Twenty book was definitely part of my starting quilt library yet I've never made one!

I do have a stash of fabric set aside for which one of the options was to use it make one.  Unfortunately, it has never made it to the top of the "To Do" list.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the fabric requirements are for this because maybe this could also be a chance to move another HSY* out of storage and onto a lap or bed!
Note that this one is going to run a little different than your usual mystery:  You have to register on the June 11th Turning Twenty blog post before midnight on July 15th and the instructions will be emailed to you as they are issued.  The Mystery will run from July 1 to December 15th.  It will interesting to see how this one evolves!

Just looking for ways to keep my head in the game in order to get back in gear!!

* HSY (pronounced "Hussy") = Haven't Started Yet