Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tips for Thursday ... and a question

Working with shirts

You may remember that I came home from the "Great Yard Sale" (tongue firmly implanted in cheek) with a pile of my grandsons' shirts.

They were name brand, 100% cotton, very clean and in great shape.  But many of the fabrics feel like a well-laundered sheet, which probably felt great on the wearer, but not anywhere close to "quilt shop quality."  I really wish I had starched the large chunks I salvaged in the deconstruction process before cutting strips and squares.

To further complicate the construction of the picnic quilts I am making for the boys, I am pairing the shirt fabric with a dress-weight chambray that is loosely woven.  I'm having a terrible time keeping seams anywhere close to straight.

Sew, my tip(s) for you:

1.  If you want to work with old shirts, use starch or Best Press to stabilize the fabric before cutting.

2.  If crooked plaids and stripes bother you, think of another project.

This is my progress so far:

Picnic quilt #1
I had originally planned to do another 2" round on the blocks which would make them 14" finished.  However, it occurred to me that 70" x 70" would not fit on my 5' quilting frame!  As is, it will finish at 50" x 50".  Do you think that is big enough to sit on for a picnic or outdoor concert?  I don't really want to pay someone to quilt these, plus I want them done by Christmas.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday

Mystery Visitor

Earlier this week we noticed a resident squirrel on the upper deck, head stuck between the posts, staring toward the neighbor's house and squawking its little head off.

After a while it moved to the top rail, body unmoving, 
still staring intently in the same direction.

This is what was upsetting him:

Bobcat - photo from Wikipedia
I had heard reports of bobcats in the area, but this was a total surprise to me.  
Of course, my camera was downstairs in the studio so I have to rely on a stock photo.  
But, believe me, it looked just like this.  

Or maybe this:

Bobcat - Wikipedia photo
Bigger than a housecat, smaller than many dogs, black tips on the ears, short tail -- 
all the indicators were there.  
It strolled casually down our driveway but when it saw me watching from the deck, 
it trotted across the street and into the woods.

We don't have pets, so I'm not worried, but I did put a notice on the neighborhood web page.

Life is always exciting here on the hill.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What was she thinking?

I'll tell you

A couple of weeks ago I got the bug to try some freestyle stack-n-slash Christmas trees like those made by The Polka Dot Chicken

Within a few days I had a small cache of these lovelies.

In a search for more variety in my "Christmas" drawer, I came across some more elegant fabrics in creams and golds.  I thought it might be fun to make an "elegant" throw.

Not particularly impressed at this point, but still needing variety in my trees, I continued to make them, thinking I'd just make one larger quilt with whatever I could make with the materials at hand.

But the combination of white backgrounds with cream and the juxtaposition of elegance with cute Christmas schtick bothered me.

My ultimate decision was to separate the creams from the whites and make two quilts.

Elegant Trees
Still debating about a border.  It's currently 35" wide which would be OK for a wheelchair or a crib.

And that is what I was thinking.

Hop over to Quilting is more fun than housework to see what scrappy projects other quilters are working on.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Scrappy Saturday

Two flimsies and three blocks

With all the repair/remodeling activities this week, I felt fortunate to find a few minutes in the studio.  I pulled together two "wheelchair" quilts out of some snowman squares I had salvaged from an old Christmas wreath.

I call them "wheelchair" quilts because they are about 40" x 40" without borders -- just right to go over a lap when sitting in a wheelchair.

I had originally thought about using a black print for the setting squares, but in the end I picked a red and green plaid by Possibilities. 

I ran short of the plaid for the second quilt so I used a Luminosity print by Paula Nadelstern for the side triangles.

Now I'm wishing I had used it on both.  Oh, well.  I'm hoping that these will be the first things quilted on my new Block RockiT and that our church women's group will know people who can use a lift for the holidays.

I also dug through my brown scraps and made three chunky churn dash blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

RSC17 - dark neutrals
These lean toward the cafe au lait side of brown and I think they will blend nicely with the other blocks made this year.  These only finish at 6" so I see this project continuing into 2018.

The Beginning of the End

I'm starting to get a little weepy thinking about the end of life on this hill.  There is so much to enjoy living among the treetops ... until it snows.

February 2014
Or until we want to get through Nashville during rush hour.  Where we hope to be going will have just as much wildlife, but less traffic.  Best of all, there's an established quilting community.

So it all began this week.  First item was shipping the antique walnut and curved glass china cabinet to my sister-in-law in Savannah on Monday.

We used All My Sons, and it made the trip safely in 24 hours, even though they didn't crate it as the insurance company required.  Very nice, courteous guys who apparently had lots of experience with this kind of thing.  I couldn't watch as they rolled it down our hill, though (the truck couldn't make it up).

Wednesday the masons arrived promptly at 7:30 a.m. and finished replacing brick above window lintels, adding flashing and weep holes, and tuck-pointing joints by 4 p.m.

Lower level windows in sewing room
This area has leaked into the studio for several years.  It won't be completely fixed until the master bedroom door sill is replaced and properly flashed right above the gap in this picture.

I didn't want to be sewing while the masons were knocking and banging outside my window so I worked on rearranging the dining room and filling up the chest that replaced the china cabinet.

That is, until the masons started working on the dining room windows.  Then I felt like they might think I was keeping an eye on them so I retreated to the studio where I have been working on two wheelchair quilts.

The tree guys showed up early Thursday and started working on the split tree right away.  We noticed the split in the trunk several weeks ago and feared it would break apart and fall on the driveway (and anything parked there) in a high wind.

There's NO WAY I could go up in that bucket with it bouncing and swaying in the wind!  They were very careful and considerate, coming back on Friday to do some extra pruning and to clean up their mess.  They even blew all the leaves off the driveway and out of the beds.

The painters start Monday.  We're hoping they'll work outside first since my SIL will be here for the week.  I also get to select carpet for the master bedroom on Monday.

Progress, at last!

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Fat Tony

Our grand-dog, Fat Tony, was an Italian Greyhound -- nothing fat about him. 

Fat Tony Murray
Being small and shorthaired, Tony was always cold, so years ago I made him a quilt.

Sadly, any picture of it is on a floppy, not accessible right now.
It was the first improv quilt I had ever made.
I used a lot of doggie prints along with black/white/red.
A warm and soft flannel went on the back.
Tony loved it.

I want to share a sweet tribute from my son:

   We had Tony put to sleep yesterday. 
His congestive heart failure had progressed to the point where he was uncomfortable most of the time.
When Sherry took him to the vet she took the blanket you made for him. 
I don’t know if we’ve told you how attached he was to that blanket. He slept with it every night 
(unless it was warm then he would dig at it until it was out of his bed). 
It went with him wherever he went and was a great comfort to him. 
We interred it with him so now he’s with it forever.
Thank you for making the perfect gift for him

Rest in peace, Fat Tony

Monday, November 6, 2017

Design Wall Monday

Not much sewing has been going on here on the hill.  Mostly I've been cleaning and organizing the new and improved quilt studio space.  In the process I came across bits that appeared to have no purpose (that I can recall) but appeared to want to be sewn together.  So rather than shove them aside, I stitched.

Flying geese that will finish 3" x 1.5".  I have absolutely NO clue what I was planning with these!

Bright geese in a brown sky.  Hey, brown!! At least I can get credit for working with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color for November ;-).

Then there was a pile of snowmen squares that I combined with WOW snowflake squares.

It appears I have enough to make a winter throw, design of which is still to be determined.

Since it's snowmen I figure it would be appropriate well past the Christmas season so I want the companion fabrics to be somewhat neutral, like this black print.  Oh, look, it qualifies for the November RSC, too!!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fall Has Fell

and it's warm as H-E-double hockey sticks

Fortunately we've had a couple of near-freezing nights 
so some of the trees turned before they lost all their leaves.

The dogwood is the prettiest it's been in the last 9 years.
But the burning bush has yet to even blush.

Crepe Myrtle
I don't remember the crepe myrtle turning such a bright yellow in years past.

Soloman's Seal
The Soloman's Seal held on all summer and turned a gorgeous shade of ... 
well, how would you describe it?  Toast?
The hellibores will hold till the first really hard freeze, then return in February.

That's the joy of Life on the Hill!

Friday, November 3, 2017

OMG - Goal #1

Set up the machine


BR549 - needs a better name
We may have the bottom plate backwards.  I think it will still work this way.
We originally planned to orient the frame in the other direction,
but I felt the fireplace hearth could get in my way.
The big problem now is my extension/surge protector is not long enough!

The floor mats are in place.
That little bedside chest holds all my accessories.

View from the deck door.  
Still a lot of organizing left to do in between watching videos.
I joined a FB users' group and I have ordered some leaders.
Now to pick my first practice project.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

One Monthly Goal - November

It's Here!!!

My Block RockiT 15 has arrived!

Now to read through the manual, check to see all the parts are there, 
register the warranty, and download some instructional videos.

SO, my OMG for November will be:

1.  Set up the machine.
2.  Learn how to load a quilt.
3.  Practice on a charity quilt in my TBQ pile.
4.  Quilt at least one "real" quilt -- like one of the picnic quilts for a grandson.

Okay, so that's four goals.
But it will probably take all month just to get that far!

Linking with Patty at Elm Street Quilts who does a great job encouraging us to accomplish our goals.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Potato Chips

Can't eat just one!

The same could be said for these wonky stack-n-slash Christmas trees.
(tutorial here)

Wonky Trees
This was supposed to be a mindless retreat project and I'm already half done!
Not really, but it's starting to look like that.

I'm finding that I'm not always able to end up with 7-1/2" width.
If you're thinking about making these, I suggest you start with 9" x 10-1/2".
Or plan to trim to less than 7-1/2".

Hoping to finish these at a short local retreat this week.

OMG - Almost ...

... But not quite

My One Monthly Goal (OMG) for October was to finish the blocks for Grand Illusion.

Grand Illusion (a/k/a Grand Mess)
Obviously, I'm one block shy of a quilt.  I was short on the coral/gray/brack chevron units; other distractions (like Christmas trees -- thanks Polka Dot Chicken!) also kept me from achieving my goal.  I did, however, locate enough of those scraps that I can make the ones I need.  I'm thinking I will assemble the blocks as I have them on the wall, without sashing, and then use the border units that have already been made as the border with a small inner border of brack as a separator.

I'm dutifully reporting my OMG accomplishment (or lack thereof) at Elm Street Quilts.  Now to think about what my goal for November will be.  More Christmas trees, perhaps? Hmmm ....

Saturday, October 28, 2017

So Long, Pink!

RSC says "Goodbye" to Pink

As the month comes to a close, it's time to take stock of our pink progress.  As it turns out, not much pink popped up here on the Hillside.

Seven chunky churn dashes ...

... and a single scrap jar star ...

... not much to celebrate.  Except, I did finish a top for this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  But I'll save that for the end of the year.

Time to see all the pink at soscrappy.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

An Eclectic Design Wall

Squirrel alert!

Sunday's wall
I put several things on the wall Sunday just to get me motivated.  Since then I have made the 6 additional chunky churn dashes shown here, finished two Grand Illusion blocks (OMG) and located the scraps to make the missing units for the last one, and I'm well on my way to a finish of the first shirt picnic quilt.

Picnic quilt one of two
Thanks to the Polka Dot Chicken, I was inspired to try my hand at some improv Christmas trees.

Thanks, Carol!
So guess what I spent last evening doing.  If you guessed cutting squares for Christmas trees, you are right!  Now to get the lights cut to pair up with the red and green squares and I'll be all set for a fun and easy retreat project next week.

Your Carriage Awaits

... or awaiting the carriage

The Grace Pinnacle frame awaits
The frame has been relocated to the studio and the Block RockiT 15 ordered.  The extra 5 feet of table have been sent to storage and the waiting has begun.   I suppose I could do a little reorganizing of the space while I wait.

If I remember correctly, the machine head has wheels that will run on the bottom "plate" but I thought I'd keep the top "plate" out of storage in case I need some of the attachments on the new setup.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

From One Hill to Another

Weekly Wrap-up

Mountain Quilt Camp 2017 (a/k/a Wildcat Lake Spa Retreat) is in the books.  While I passed on the massage and olive oil hair treatment, I did head to the sewing room in my jammies a couple of days. 

View from Grigsby Hall
The Joyful Quilter and I shared a bunk room with Tiffany in Bell's Cottage up on the left.  We sewed in Grigsby, where this picture was taken.  The dining hall is just a few steps from Grigsby.  That was the extent of my world from Sunday night to Thursday morning -- not enough steps to compensate for the delicious meals three times a day!

Coconut cream pie parade
All-in-all it was a productive time.  I spent Sunday evening wrestling with ideas for the last round-robin round which is due at the guild meeting today. 

Emily's quilt
I made flying geese and pinwheels from their cutoff corners.  I made 4Ps with Grunge polka dots.  I thought and stewed and thought some more.  In the end I set it aside, hoping inspiration would strike.  And strike it finally did on Wednesday night but I didn't have time to finish until Friday at home.

Final additions to Emily's quilt
I added the strip across the top, using pieces of Emily's fabric that came along in the bag.  Then I put the miscellaneous bits I had made on the right, combining some of my fabric with bits that appear elsewhere in the quilt.  Of the five quilts I've worked on, I think this one was the toughest.   I'm glad I participated in the challenge but I don't think I will do it again.  The stress of trying to make my more traditional style fit with the improvisational style of the others took the pleasure out of the exercise. 

I spent about a day and a half assembling the RSC17 scrap jar stars into a finished top.

Scrap Jar Stars
I added a second round of sashing so that I had complete 9-patches around the edge.  Because I cut the sashing WOF, there is a lot of stretch so I will need to add a border.  Lesson learned.

A quick stop on the way home at Tennessee Quilts in Jonesborough and this plaid Kaffe Fassett fabric came home with me.

It has many of the colors that are in the stars and I'm hoping it doesn't overpower the stars.  We'll see.

I spent some time making 5 more blocks for Grand Illusion (a/k/a Grand Mess) with the units I had finished during Bonnie Hunter's 2014 mystery. 

Grand Mess
I am short a few units to complete the three more I need for a 3x4 setting.  I hope I can find enough scraps of the light gray and coral fabrics ...

In between this and that, I used the grandsons' shirt squares as leaders and enders.

Picnic quilts in progress
On Wednesday, the last full day, I finally addressed the guild paint-chip challenge which was due at the September meeting that I missed.  I wanted to experiment with shadowing and used the book Casting Shadows by Colleen Wise for inspiration.

My chip colors were Parliament Green and Coral Perfection.  It measures 5.5" x 7.5".  Not sure if I should call it an oversized mug rug or a mini.  Not my finest work, but it's done, including the quilting.

With gorgeous weather and pleasant company, the week at camp is deemed a success!  Now to get dressed and gather everything I need to take to the modern guild meeting for show and tell.

Linking with Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Just a Few Words

Before I lose contact

The view from my sister-in-law's cabin in Maggie Valley is much the same as it was when I was here in May, except the mountain laurel is no longer blooming.  The sumac is about all that's turned color up here.  I'd show you, but the computer is refusing to upload the pictures I took today.

Mr. Hillside will be dropping me off at Mountain Quilt Camp this afternoon and the wifi connection is iffy at best; I'll give a full report when I return.

So what will I be working on at camp?

Emily's Round Robin
This is the last pass at the last round robin.  It is due to be returned to its originator at the guild meeting on Saturday, so this little project needs to be high on my priority list.  I have mixed feelings about this round robin thing; but glad I at least tried it once.

Also on my priority list is my One Monthly Goal (OMG) -- finishing the Grand Illusion blocks that I already have units made.

Grand Illusion - a/k/a Grand Mess
I have also brought along a really old (I mean REALLY OLD) UFO, Weaver Fever, as well as the blocks for Scrap Jar Stars.  There's a guild challenge in my stack of projects and a couple more boxes that I don't remember what they contain.  Needless to say, I hope to be busy and productive.  But just being in good company is what I'm really looking forward to.

Have a great week, Y'all!