Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Grateful Threads Project: Log Cabin Quilts

My biggest summer sewing goal is to ferret out the parts and pieces already sewn in my sewing stash and get them finished.  This log cabin quilt top is a perfect example.  Sometime last year a friend and I exchanged miscellaneous scraps.  My little bag was met with a good sized box from her.  Gulp!  Luckily, most of her scraps were in strips so I quickly sorted them and got busy sewing log cabin blocks.  Something shiny (or possibly paid work) drew my attention away and they sat waiting for me to return to them.  Return I did last week.  They were all sewn together, a border added and now they await the longarm.  This will be going into the stack for my fall delivery to the Houston Furniture Bank.  

You really can't beat a log cabin quilt for using up scraps.  All kinds of odd ball pieces just work together.  I am continually amazed and pleased with these quilts. 

This week I have less time for community quilts.  Some paid work has crossed my studio threshold.

A pretty yellow and grey baby quilt was finished yesterday.  Today I am stitching a caterpillar quilt.  

(sorry he's sideways-editing didn't straighten him up)

In literature news:
I started reading Anna Karenina last night.  Meeting the first scheduled deadline of 66 pages is going to be easy.  Pronouncing the last names of all the characters is going to be a bit more difficult.  I did listen to "Arkadyich" pronunciation on YouTube & was pleasantly surprised I was pronouncing it correctly.  My schedule has a helpful little cheat sheet of all the main characters should I really get stuck for who is whom.  With Tolstoy switching back and forth between the 3 or 4 names of each character, I really have to be on my toes.

I'm on Audio Book 4: The Kalahari Typing School for Men in the 20 book series by Alexander McCall Smith.  I guess I'll be spending most of the summer transported to Botswana Africa.  It's an interesting series & easy to listen and comprehend the various life lessons presented.  I'm enjoying it immensely.

I don't use my front sitting room much.  It's a shame, really.  It has a good reading lamp, comfortable chairs and a pleasant vibe.  I'm committing to using it for reading and maybe some handwork.  While in there last night I looked at the only space I have for a wall hanging.  It would likely be appropriate for the wool applique piece should the scales tip more in favor of finishing it.

I also pulled out My Crazy Life a crazy quilt pieced in 2012 that has been waiting for the handwork.  It's very large & when finished would need a dedicated wall.  Since it will likely take me years to finish it, I can ponder which wall later.   Every time I pull it out to stitch, I seem to pull out the same half finished block.  Last night I looked at some other blocks (there are 9 - 21" blocks).  It might be more motivating to stitch basic stitches on all the blocks before worrying about detailed stitches and embellishments.  

I'm currently a little out of the groove. I need to readjust my mindset.  I'm unsure how much I can handle!  Reading at night and stitching some?  Not roaming Pinterest or embroidery sites for hours?  Hmmm, old habits are hard to break.

Join the Conversation! 
Do you have underused areas in your house? 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Grateful Threads Project: Vintage Log Cabin Blocks

During 2004-2014 with the help of quilting friends all over the US, I was able to sew stacks and stacks of quilts to give to community organizations for their clients. 

One of the last supplies from that time has now been turned into 2 log cabin quilts.  Kathleen Gansart sent me a stack of pink log cabin blocks.  I recognized many of the fabrics as the popular 1980s dusty pink/mauve calicoes. 

With my new practice of working on quilts with a similar process, I knew during Log Cabin week (and now it is becoming "weeks"), those blocks would head the list.  I had enough complimentary fabrics for borders.  These turned into very pretty quilts.  Wouldn't it be sweet if a mother chose them for daughters sharing a bedroom? 

It's so uplifting to see these older fabrics sewn into beautiful useful quilts.  These will be headed to the Houston Furniture Bank at the end of the summer for their No Kids on the Floor Initiative.  They work with Houston social agencies to qualify families who receive furniture through the non-profit.  They strive to get the 300-500,000 children currently sleeping on the floor into a twin sized bed.  I made a personal pledge to sew as many quilts as I could (and with the help of others) to give to Houston Furniture Bank for the beds. 

They have the quilts in a special place and the parent(s) chooses the quilt for her child.  Houston Furniture Bank doesn't just hand the quilts to whoever walks in the door.  It's a careful process and I appreciate their willingness to work with my project, The Grateful Threads Project. 

This is a rayon quilt I stitched in the 1st group of quilts I gave the Furniture Bank.  Definitely some vintage fabrics in that quilt!  Most of the patches were cut from clothes. 
I was told the mother chose this one because her daughter is an artist & would love the colors and patterns.  Be Still My Heart! 

Join the Conversation!
Do you have some vintage fabrics that could be sewn to make room for new fabrics?  

Monday, June 1, 2020

Wool Quilt: Questions?

Yesterday I pulled out the box with the grey wool pieces in it.

Immediately I could tell it was not big enough for a king sized bed.  Now I'm thinking I may have thought to sew it into a wall hanging.  Who knows at this point?  and who really cares?
It did have the blocks numbered but for some reason I was missing one of the blocks.  I remember at one point there was a layout sketch but it was not in the box. 
My attempt at abstract leaves balanced between "not bad" to "laughable".
I thought the whole composition would be lovely covered with big funky hand embroidered stitches and motifs.  Throw in some wooden beads and bold buttons too. 
It set off a wave of nostalgia about living in a household with 3 males.  With my determination to make my own life, being pulled to the past isn't necessarily where I want to go.

                     This one needs the most help, I think.  ^^^

Just a little of the wools I have.  

As I pondered it I asked myself some pro and con questions.

Given all the unfinished handwork projects currently filling my spaces, would I really sit down and embroider this piece?  Or, maybe would I give myself permission to embroider this piece guiltfree. 

I admitted the idea of just buttonholing the shapes & keeping the embroidery simple appealed to me.
I could use brightly colored threads.  I could pull out my collections of big wacky beads and buttons & get all funky with those too. 
The shapes?   not that crazy about them all these 25 years later.
The colors?  same; although they would be a good background for brighter colors.

What would I do with it when it was finished?
I really didn't see the need for a new wall hanging.  I  have 3 right now I would rather hang in my house that beg to be finished more than this piece.

But, it could be a very nice wall hanging to usher in the fall season and I could keep it up until I pull out my Christmas wall hanging.
Looking at the pictures again this morning tells me I'm not entirely ready to abandon it.

I would like a nice warm wool quilt for the winter season. 

I looked through my remaining wool yardage. I have enough to sew a newly designed wool quilt (and a few more).  There was a small collection of square patches already cut too. I had used the rougher more masculine wool for a quilt for my nephew and his wife about 8 years ago.  They live in the Pacific Northwest and seemed to appreciate the quilt.

©Debra Spincic, 2013

I could use the Pendleton wools I've been saving from the 1980s.  If anyone should have them, it should be me.  They would make a very nice warm quilt.

The day was slipping away. I didn't want to become frustrated with a project taking up my whole Sunday that probably wasn't going to see the light of day again soon.  I left the wool quilt for awhile so I could embroider one of the Antique Butterflies.  I knew I could accomplish that before evening appeared.

Just to keep the process simple, I chose the 1st butterfly in the collection in a medium size (9 x 6 inches).  An hour and a half later I had my butterfly.  WOW!  it's gorgeous!

It's arrival opened up new possibilities for the wool quilt.  It also sent me back to my other embroidery collections.

One collection I haven't really used is a huge Jacobean floral collection.  Like the butterflies they are labor intensive and they use a wide variety of thread colors.  But gosh, I love the abstract look of Jacobean flowers.   This is just one of the pretty blocks I have in my embroidery stash.

That sent me straight to Pinterest looking at some layout ideas.  So many possibilites!

Now the questions are:
How much do I want this wool quilt?
Would I be happy with patchwork?
Do I want to add embroidery?
Do I think the butterflies would be compatible with the Jacobean florals?

The embroidery adds a serious amount of work to the project.  There would also be questions about the direction for finishing it.  I could simply machine quilt around the patches without disturbing the embroidery.
I could hand embroider the seams with simple embroidery stitches.
Then do something like tie the different corners.

Is this wool quilt a distraction pulling my focus away from my summer plans to sew as many community quilts as possible?
Or is it a project deserving renewed interest? 
It does fall into the "let's get some old UFOs finished" and "it would be fun to use my embroidery machine more" and "I already own the designs" arguments.
And what about finishing the wool leaves piece as a wall hanging?  Suddenly I have 2 projects.  See how that happens?

One advantage to the embroidery machine is its ability to stitch with minimal attention; dependent upon the designs.  In the case of the Jacobean floral and the Antique Butterflies, there is a long time between thread changes.

It sounds like if I can decide on a basic layout, I have the supplies and the time to stitch a lovely wool embroidered quilt before the winter season is upon me.

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Any suggestions?  Ha! ha! 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Machine Embroidery: A Swap and Butterflies

My friend Cindy and I did a little swap.  She had a few pieces of clothing in her Poshmark closet and I agreed to stitch some embroidery in exchange.

Cindy enjoys sewing little crossbody bags and the embroidery gives them a different look than what you normally see on-line.  I like to try some new designs so it turns out to be a win-win for both of us.

I spent Saturday embroidering the leg of a pair of denim jeans.  She'll cut them as she wants for her ideas. 

While I was looking through some of my designs, I pulled out a collection of butterflies I have from Anita Goodesign called Antique Butterflies.  It's a beautiful collection of appliqued and embroidered fantastical butterflies.  So lovely!  I've had the designs at least 7 or 8 years; unopened.  Here's a photo from the website showing a few of the butterflies.  The 12 different butterflies are very large; some up to 8 x 10 inches.

I originally purchased these designs to use on some grey wool I had cut in large rectangles and squares for a king sized quilt in the early 1990s.  The fabric was the tailend of the inventory from my fabric store in the 1980s.  I still have the large unpieced blocks.  Last year I pulled them out and added some vintage crochet pieces in the box with them.  I seem to be thinking an old fashioned look would suit the wool.  

I should at least try stitching one of the butterflies to see if I even like the process. I can always turn it into a pillow. Wouldn't it be so gratifying to use the wool I've had so long?  This would be a quilt for me. I'm going to seriously consider it for a summer project.  

Join the Conversation!
Do you have a long standing project you could finish this year? 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Grateful Threads Project: Beatrix Potter Quilt Pieced

I'm finishing this week on a high note!  I have the Beatrix Potter quilt top pieced.  It's a beautiful blend of subtle vintage prints.

I had a scrap exchange with a friend in my church stitching group who was "sick and tired of these scraps".  I get it!  We all get tired of the same fabrics after awhile.  I sorted through the box pulling the calm prints for this quilt.  I sprinkled in a lively one here and there to go with the little Beatrix Potter images which were also vintage prints & have a touch of color.

The stitching group often gets donations of deceased estate sewing and craft supplies.  I happened to be at a meeting when a large selection arrived.  The ladies in charge of the fabric storage room generously handed a few boxes my way instead of integrating them into the existing inventory.  They were mostly vintage prints and projects sewn with the older prints rarely sell at the church's annual fall market.

In keeping with the vintage vibe I will probably use one of my vintage sheets for the backing.   I now have a roll of white batting so I have the luxury of not worrying about thrifted fleece blankets showing through the top.  It will be lovely when finished.

It's 72 x 86 with 15" blocks

It's been ages since I stitched sashing with posts.  I like sashing as a way to define blocks and they can be very handy when working to a specific desired overall measurement. 

I'm taking the weekend off.  Ha! Ha!  No one believes that!  What I mean is that I am hand stitching more on my raw edge collages & playing with some machine embroidery designs.  

Join the Conversation! 
Do you like sewing log cabin blocks?