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Friday, July 30, 2021

Christmas In July - Please!

After having a fairly mild summer, we have been experiencing normal July temperatures this past couple weeks. We have a few more days of high 90s-100 degree heat forecast before a "cold" front arrives next week, so a Christmas squirrel that sneaked into my room was welcomed with open arms.

I'm blaming this "Squirrel-spiration" on Canadian Needle Nana Jocelyn, who had the prettiest embroidery blocks in this post, and shared the link to the patterns. I was inspired to download the entire set of embroidery patterns and instructions for all the blocks from Moda's Holiday Quilt Stitch-Along from last year. Here is the link to the page that has links to all the patterns.

This is the goal! Quilt and photo by Susan Ache

The photo above is the finished quilt by Susan Ache, who designed the 13 Baltimore Album quilt-inspired embroidery blocks to mix with pieced blocks. I had never heard of Baltimore Album quilts, and the history behind them is quite interesting. Basically album quilts were blocks made with elaborate applique and sewn into a quilt, usually made by a group but sometimes an individual. From what I've read, they were first made popular in the Baltimore area. The name "album" referred to the popular photo albums of the 1840s, similar to today's scrapbooks.

I chose white with a faint star background for the embroidery blocks and added a lightweight fusible interfacing to the back. I am happy to say that I pulled entirely from my Christmas scraps for the log cabin blocks.

This is the first time I have done embroidery on a quilt, so I looked to embroidery guru Mary Corbet for advice and chose to purchase Sulky 12wt thread from Etsy. My thread arrived yesterday, and I gave it a try last night and love it! Since one strand is equal to two of regular embroidery floss, it is easy to thread and doesn't tangle or knot up. 

I'm using a simple backstitch for the embroidery.

I hope to finish this project before Christmas, which is only 5 months away!
Tuesday, July 27, 2021

To-Do Tuesday Summer Version

 Yesterday's high was 100, so indoor activity suits me just fine! 

Somehow in no time at all, it is Tuesday again, the day we share our progress at ChrisKnits for To-Do Tuesday.

Last Wednesday and Thursday we made a quick trip to Oklahoma to see my husband's sister. We took her to our hometown near Tulsa to visit our parents' gravesites and tour the old familiar spots. My childhood home (from 1956 till 1982 when my widowed Mom moved away) was built in 1940 and is occupied by the same folks who bought it in 1982. It is almost completely obscured by trees now that were non-existent when we lived there. After lunch at a favorite burger place, we said good-bye to his sister and drove to Oklahoma City to spend the night. We lived there from 2005-2012, and it was fun to see how much things had changed. We had a wonderful trip filled with warm memories but it was good to get back home. Between the trip and another squirrel that popped into my room, only one of my goals was met.

Here were last week's goals:
✔1. Finish quilting the sashing on the RBD Challenge quilt - DONE
2. Sew blocks for DashAlong - NO PROGRESS
3. Finish pieces for Exploding Heart quilt and do layout on design wall - NO PROGRESS

A distraction has entered the sewing room . . .Christmas squirrel

Goals for this coming week:
1. Start quilting individual blocks on RBD Challenge quilt
2. Finish blocks for Exploding Heart quilt and do layout on design wall
3. Sew blocks for DashAlong
4. Make time for Mr. Squirrel - more on that later this wee!

Be sure to check out other bloggers at Chris's linkup!
Sunday, July 25, 2021

July Color Challenge Block And Key Lime Pie

The 2021 Monthly Color Challenge is hosted by Jen at Patterns by Jen, who provides a new pattern each month. The colors this year are from fruits and veggies, and for July "lime" is the star. In keeping with my "toned-down" theme so far, I chose muted dark greens.

Since I am using prints instead of solids for this challenge, I decided to vary from the pattern by adding a third fabric. To blend with the corner dark green from Holly Taylor's Enchanted Pond collection, I found a long hoarded Cotton + Steel text print as well as an older Timeless Treasures circles fabric, and away I went. Each month I've made at least 2 or 3 block, including one of the 6-inch finished size, but this month I made one 12-inch size only, because I knew I could not handle the 3/4 inch cut pieces required in the 6-inch size!

Naturally when I think of lime, I think of Key Lime Pie. When I had my catering business, I used to make this one for a coffee shop in Edmond, OK. The recipe is from Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, FL, and it is a good one.

Mar-A-Lago Key Lime Pie
Serves 8

9-inch graham cracker crust, purchased or from scratch
4 egg yolks
Grated zest from 1 lime
1 - 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake graham cracker crust about 5 minutes, remove from oven and prepare filling.

Beat egg yolks and lime zest at high speed till fluffy, about 5 minutes. (I use a KitchenAid mixer with wire whisk attachment.) Gradually add milk at lower speed, till thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Lower mixer speed and slowly add juice and mix until just combined. Pour into crust and bake 10-15 minutes, or until filling has just set. Cool on wire rack, then refrigerate before serving. Serve with whipped cream on top.

Jen's patterns are easy to follow, well written, and free for one month! You can find other interpretations of the color Lime at the link at the bottom of Jen's post.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021

To-Do Tuesday And A Surprise!

Welcome to the scene of some wild rearrangements this past week!

It's that time again - To-Do Tuesday, when Chris at ChrisKnits generously offers her time and space for us to post our accomplishments for the past week and goals for next week.

This has been a busy, exciting week for me. We stopped at a local quilt shop last week to see if they carried 12-wt thread (they did not). Their Handi-Quilter long arm machines were set up around their space ready to try. My husband went to look at them while the store clerk showed me the thread they had in stock. When she and I walked over to where he was, he started asking her all kinds of questions about the HQ machines and the specials they were offering. Long story short, a new Simply Sixteen will occupy the blank wall you see in the photo above! I might have to relocate my design wall, but it might work as is.

Simply Sixteen with Little Foot Frame

The Simply Sixteen came with the 5-foot "Little Foot" frame for smaller spaces, and the special included a light bar to go above the quilting area and free shipping. Plus, the quilt store offered a generous store credit! After the HQ shipment arrives at our house in a week or so, the store owner and her daughter will come to set it up and train me. I have been living in a dream this past week! It really is a dream come true. I blogged about this very machine here (scroll to the bottom of the post), after I had tried it in another shop in December 2019.

Needless to say there was a lot of rearranging going on in the sewing room. The biggest transition was to relocate the fabric cabinet to the opposite wall. Believe it or not, it was surprisingly easy for us to move across the wood floor, with fabric intact. 

This is the view from the design wall

The above photo is looking from the back wall where the Simply Sixteen will sit. We removed my old cutting table and made my ironing table into a combination cutting/ironing space. It won't be quite as convenient, but I think it will work just fine. Now there is space for my new toy!

Jack has approved the RBD quilt as his new napping space

Was anything accomplished sewing-wise last week? Let's take a look and see:
✔1. Finish quilting RBD Challenge quilt. SOME PROGRESS - I did get a few stitches done on the sashing before Jack took over my space (above). I was debating big stitch quilting for the individual blocks (that's what sent me to the quilt shop!) but now I think it will become the first candidate for the new Simply Sixteen!
2. Sew blocks for DashAlong - NO PROGRESS
3. Finish pieces for Exploding Heart quilt and do layout on design wall - NO PROGRESS

Last week's unmet goals will move forward to this week, which will be another busy one with a quick trip to Oklahoma plus a babysitting gig for The Littles (grands):
1. Finish quilting the sashing on the RBD Challenge quilt
2. Sew blocks for DashAlong
3. Finish pieces for Exploding Heart quilt and do layout on design wall

Be sure to go visit here to see creative works in progress and pretty finishes from other bloggers!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

To-Do Tuesday and Squirrel-Spiration

Mini strings

It is To-Do Tuesday, the day I take inventory of goals and accomplishments for the past week. This weekly event is bravely hosted by Chris at ChrisKnits and is a wonderful opportunity to be inspired by and get acquainted with other bloggers.

Strings all organized and ready to play

My squirrel inspiration, or squirrel-spiration, last week was from Diann at Little Penguin Quilts, who made the most adorable mini strings I've ever seen - and they were only 3.5 inches square! Go look at them right here. Since The Scrap Whisperer visited my sewing room last week, I had a nice organized basket of strings ready to play and quickly made these little blocks. Mine finish at 4.5 inches, and I want to keep making them for a scrappy wall quilt. So thank you Diann!

My DashAlong pieces are cut and trimmed and ready to be sewn into blocks

So, on to last week's goals:
✔ 1. Work on DashAlong - DONE and posted here
✔ 2. Finish sandwiching RBD Block Challenge quilt when basting spray arrives; start quilting - DONE - I have it sandwiched and started quilting yesterday
✔ 3. Work on July Color Challenge block - DONE and will post at the end of the month

Over the weekend, the box of  Exploding Heart blocks lured me in to make more blocks. This challenge, started in December, uses a pattern by Slice of Pi Quilts and involves quarter square triangles consisting of either one, two, three, or four colored triangles. I only have 54 more left to do, and they are the 4-color triangles. Once I finish those, up on the design wall they go for the complicated layout.

RBD Block Challenge quilt is partially quilted

Goals for this week:
1. Finish quilting RBD Challenge quilt. I am debating big stitch hand quilting on the individual blocks but don't know if my hands have the stamina for it!
2. Sew blocks for DashAlong
3. Finish pieces for Exploding Heart quilt and do layout on design wall

Toby looks like he's doing a selfie! Rosie "helped" sandwich the RBD quilt.

You can see the RBD quilt behind Rosie in the photo above. I pinned it up from the bottom for you to see a peek at the backing.

For other distractions and squirrel-spirations, click right here and go visit the linkup on Chris's blog!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Hello Scrap Whisperer and Bye-Bye RSC

Messy scraps during RSC block making

After participating fairly regularly in RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) since 2016, I have decided to leave it and do my own thing. I love rifling through my scraps and seeing fabrics from as far back as 2010.  But when I begin to dread "getting my blocks done" each month, I know it's time to quit a challenge.

Scraps in plastic bins on top

Part of the dread involves "the mess", so my first goal as a Scrap Whisperer was to wrangle my scraps into some semblance of order. My scraps are stored by color in plastic bins on top of the "stash unit", and they were busting out of their lids. I needed help! Using some tips from Sherri at A Quilting Life, Since I do not cut my scraps into standard sizes, I used these categories to organize them, and they are still sorted by color:
  • 1-1/2 to 2-1/4 inch pieces
  • 2-1/2 inch squares
  • 2-1/2 inch to 5 inch pieces
  • 5-1/2 inch squares
  • Strings - 1-1/2 inch and up strips as well as triangular pieces
  • 6 inch+ pieces

BEFORE - the biggest and most unruly collection of colored scraps was the blue bin

I put the bin on my ironing table, pulled out scraps and pressed them,
and placed them into appropriate stacks.

AFTER - much better!

This big jar sits below the cutting table to accumulate scraps as I cut fabric. Jack noticed that it was quite compacted with over a year's worth of scrap dumping, so he recommended that I empty and sort it into the freshly organized bins. This proved to be about a two hour task.

Ready to make some string blocks!

I've ordered these bins in the hopes that I will be able to see my scraps more easily with the wider and more shallow 14 x 11 x 3.25 inch dimensions. I will use the leftover bins to store my yarn skeins!

I've made good progress and have organized blues, greens, browns/blacks, reds/pinks, purples/grays, and yellows. I still need to sort out three exploding bins of white, off-white, and white prints, plus these two bins of Christmas scraps! But first I need to take a break and do some sewing . . .

I would love for you to share your scrap storage methods in the comment section below!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

To-Do Tuesday

RBD Block Challenge quilt is sandwiched but waiting for basting spray

The days have zoomed by and here it is Tuesday already - time to link up with Chris and other crafty bloggers to gab about accomplishments and goals. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, our July 4th weekend plans got scrubbed, as our 22-year old grandson developed fever and congestion. We are rescheduling for later this summer.

4-Patch Irish Chains for RSC

Here were the goals from last week:
1. Continue progress on DashAlong - NO PROGRESS 
✔2. Work on sashing and final layout for RBD Block Challenge quilt - DONE and partially sandwiched; I am waiting for an order of basting spray!
✔3. Finish RSC blocks - DONE and posted here

I kind of forgot about the DashAlong. Technically this is the week to sew the blocks together. Today I will work on getting the HSTs sewn and see how far I can get this week on making blocks.

Making HSTs are in my future!

Here are my hopes for this week:
1. Work on DashAlong
2. Finish sandwiching RBD Block Challenge quilt when basting spray arrives; start quilting

You can find some lovely posts by other To-Do participants right here!

Monday, July 5, 2021

Independence Day In The Sewing Room

Scraptastic Star

Our family get-together was postponed! Our son and family were scheduled to visit on Friday, but our 22 year-old grandson developed congestion and fever. They were going to come without him, but Brandon is the life of the party! So we decided to wait until later this summer and try it again. Sooooo, I had unexpected time in the sewing room and decided to work with my purple scraps for RSC.

Geese Migration

Since 2020 I've been making Scraptastic Stars, 4-Patch Irish Chains, Geese Migration, and strings. I'm beginning to dread pulling out the scrap bins, because the bins become fuller as I use them!

4-Patch Irish Chains


I really enjoy making strings but oh what a mess I make!

I hope all of you had a happy and safe Fourth of July celebrating the independence of our great nation! I am linking (belatedly) to Angela's Scrap Happy Last Purple Saturday