Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Solution

Probably more information than you want, but here's how I decided to deal with Tuesday's dilemma:

I will trim the combination HST units to 4" (instead of 4-1/4") ...

... and I will cut the background rectangles and squares from a 2-1/2" strip (instead of 2-3/8").  Then I will make sure the unfinished block is 9-1/2" (instead of 9-7/8").

I don't think the block on the left looks disproportionate, do you?  Just ignore the fact it spins in the "wrong" direction.

So I kitted up 9 block sets yesterday ...

... and cut squares for over 20 more.

Bear in mind that each set of squares makes two sets of combination units.  I'll be killing two birds with one stone!  Just need to decide what I'll do with the second set of combination HSTs.

Bring on RSC-22!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Thinking Out Loud

I often find that when I write about a situation I'll come up with a solution.  Anyway, that's what I'm hoping for today ...

Earlier this month I wrote about my plans for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2022  using the block from Labor Day Madness that is in this book.

I love almost all of the quilts in this book and its sequel More Nickel Quilts.  However, I have an issue with the concept of starting with 5" charm squares in that many of the patterns require multiples of a single fabric.  How many store-bought charm packs have four of the same fabric?  Or if you have participated in a charm swap, how often do you get multiples of the same fabric?

My initial solution was to cut the required number of charm squares from some of my larger chunks of scrap fabrics.  And since I've already assembled quite a pile of potential candidates ...

... I thought I would devote today to cutting and kitting blocks to be made whenever that particular color is called for in the challenge.  But here's the rub:  In many of the patterns in these two books, the first step is to cut the 5" square into smaller pieces!  Knowing that, I decided to do a test run on a single block today to see if there might be a more effective way to cut the scraps I have chosen.

Right off the bat I could see that the side rectangles and center square of the background fabric could be more efficiently cut from strips.  I will still need two 5" squares of background to make the combination HST units, but I won't be trimming about 1/2" off two sides of two squares and throwing away three-fourths of a third square.  

Because the units and the finished block end up with 8th inch measurements, my next challenge is to see if I can change some of the dimensions to see if I can come up with nice round halves or least fourths of an inch.

The fun part of this process is that the combination units yield a second set of HSTs that "spin" in the opposite direction.

I will use these to test my theory and report back soon.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Monday, Again

Where did  the week go?

Last Monday I cleaned house (and, boy girl folks, did it need it!)  

Tuesday I entertained the neighborhood book club.  My book was Everything Beautiful in Its Time by Jenna Bush Hagar. -- a memoir of a daughter/grand-daughter of presidents.  Other hostesses have tied their refreshments to the theme of their book, so I served Texas caviar, Maine cranberry chutney with baked brie, and beaten biscuits to honor Tennessee's presidents. (You may need to read the book to get the gist ...)

Wednesday we attended a retirement luncheon for our pastor.  Alex is on the search committee for a replacement.  We have a couple of interesting candidates; we hope the search won't take too long.

Thursday I ventured to Knoxville while the skies were still blue-ish to finish my Christmas shopping.  I still have a few gaps but I had hoped to get the stocking stuffers off in the mail by Saturday.  Not so; definitely today ...

So Friday I played catch-up.  Cards are in the mail, what little decorating has been done, stockings -- really brown paper bags -- have been stuffed. I took advantage of Hubby's absence to wrap his gifts.

I spent much of Saturday just puttering, waiting for some old church friends to "drop by."  Well, they finally dropped around 4, totally throwing my dinner plans out of whack, but it was delightful to see them.  We ate the steaks Sunday night, instead.

After posting the stocking stuffers this morning I made it down to the sewing room.  Obligated is a flimsy!

It is 48 x 56 and I'm going to finish it as-is without a border. I have selected fun fabrics for the back and binding. 

Next up is stitching the rows of my RSC stars.  

I am in love with both of these quilts.  They will go to my favorite LAQ for finishing soon.

I did a little more organizing and planning in the sewing room before I called it a day.  With no place to go and nothing to do, I hope it will be a productive week.  

Monday, December 13, 2021

Serious Squirrel Alert!!

I spent the majority of Friday in the studio, checking the status of projects, and making plans for 2022.  The first thing I did was start an OMG stack of projects so close to the finish line that I can easily chose one each month to finish.  I also set aside a couple of projects with the goal of making one block each month to move them closer to the finish line.  

I was very cold-hearted and actually abandoned a couple of projects! Most of the projects that migrated to Priority One status only required auditioning and/or cutting borders, so that will be on this week's agenda (after I prep for and entertain the book club tomorrow).

But, while taking my inventory of 80+ UFOs, I came across Obligated, a pattern by Jane Davidson from Australia.

I began this project at the end of my Modern Guild days (which puts it about early 2018).  Lo and behold, I was only short two blocks!

You may notice that I was testing some sew-and-flip corner squares in the pattern, but I decided that they detracted from the overall look, especially considering the work involved to add them. So DH and I agreed we should pretend we never knew they were supposed to be in there.

I had hoped to finish assembly on Saturday, but only got six of the seven rows done.

In homage to the origins of the design, I used a collection of aboriginal prints in the blocks and background.

All of the feature fabrics have a touch of gold in them.  I tried to arrange the blocks so that the "pearls" carried over between blocks; I was only moderately successful ...

After this weekend's storms, I want to reassure my readers that we were spared here on the Plateau. Friends and family in Nashville, Middle Tennessee, and Arkansas had to take cover and lost power, but sustained little to no damage.  My heart goes out to those not so fortunate in Kentucky and other places along the storm's path.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2022

 I'm so excited about my plan for next year that I may get started early!  Here is my inspiration quilt.

It is one of my favorite quilts, currently hanging over the stair railing and visible every time I go into the kitchen.  There is a long and funny story connected with this -- my apologies if you've heard it before.

The pattern is Labor Day Madness from the book Nickel Quilts by Pat Speth and Charlene Thode. 

While the premise of the book is using 5" (hence nickel) charm squares, I had a large collection of 19th century reproduction fabric fat quarters that would work well in this pattern.  The blocks are made from "combination units" which produce a pair of blocks that "spin" in opposite directions.  Since my intent was to make a pair of quilts for the twin beds in the guest room, a particular attraction for making this quilt was a second quilt in the book, Pinwheel, that could use the second set of combination units.


However, I didn't discover until well into the second quilt that it wouldn't be the same size as the first quilt.  In fact, I would be 18 blocks short!  

So I had to make 18 more combination units which, of course, left me with 18 blocks that "spun" in the opposite direction ...  Those 18 went into a third strippy quilt (sadly, no photo).

Both Pinwheel Madness and Strippy Madness quilts were recently donated to the Waverly flood recovery.  But I could not part with Labor Day Madness.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

In the Studio

 I've been trying to spend some time in the sewing room every day lately.  And here's what I have to show for it:

Clue 6 for Macaron Mystery -- thirteen square-in-a-square units -- done!

Plus, I re-made the flying geese from Clue 4 with the correct background fabric!

Though I still have some trimming to do on those geese.

And while this photo doesn't show it, all of the rows in RSC-19-20-21 Sister's Choice are assembled.

Just a few long seams to go and it will be ready for borders (my least favorite chore).

I also did a test run (no photo) for a class I will be teaching in February to be sure the fabric quantities I have listed in the pre-class preparations are correct.  And, in between, I've been stitching leftover 2.5" squares into 4Ps.

We had some delightfully warm weather last week which gave the contractors an opportunity to get closer to the finish line.  Since they worked long after dark on Thursday, they took Friday off and we were able to enjoy our afternoon libation al fresco.

After a very rainy Monday, we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Late to the Party

I am disappointed in myself for not keeping up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (hosted by Angela at soscrappy) this year.  I have made some really pretty quilts with my challenge blocks in the past.  And I usually have had at least one, if not multiple projects, going throughout the months.  Some projects have carried into the next year until I have enough blocks to make at least a throw.  But I kept at it!  Not this year ...

I started Full Stop in January and it came to a full stop in February.

Maybe I'll whip those hashtags into a table scrap this week for a quick Christmas gift.

I was inspired by Scrap Magnet that I saw on Julie's Quilts and Costumes. But that lost it's "attraction" after the first block when I saw that my background choices didn't have enough value difference to make it worth the effort.

Though now that I look at it, maybe it ain't so bad.  I may try a second block.  I might even try some different backgrounds.  After all, it is a scrap challenge, isn't it?

To my credit, at the recent S'mores retreat I made some more Square Dance blocks (held over from 2020, I think) ...

... and assembled a rainbow of Masala Boxes.

So I'm a little late to the RSC party, but I'm getting there!  Monday I started thinking about what I want to do for RSC '22 when I noticed that I had started '21 with Sister's Choice (another leftover from 2020).  I had three blocks in the box; today I'm ready to sew blocks into a quilt.

Better late than never, right?

Check out other scrappy projects at ScrapHappy Saturday.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021


 and almost finished ...

I was able to get the Advent Cross finished and installed before the first Sunday in Advent.

It appears to be a little saggy on the bottom right so might need some adjustment in the quilting, but it's not so obvious in person.

Screens were installed in the deck enclosure last week.

Gutters are going on the deck today, and the cable railing should be finished soon.

Nearing the finish line!

Thursday, November 25, 2021


Have you ever had a quilting project that just didn't seem to want to get done?  When none of the stars (not those on the quilt but in the heavens) aligned ?

I committed to make another set of paraments for the church to go on the pulpit and lectern. (I should be committed, but that's another story.)  Several months ago I realized it was nearing time to change to purple for the Advent season and I was void of inspiration.  Then, when looking through some pattern books, this Peg Bingham pattern fell out from between the pages.

Talk about Serendipity!  BUT, the pattern is for a full-scale quilt and I needed to size it down considerably.  First I graphed it out on paper, allowing each square to be one inch.

That first iteration came to 29" and the pulpit is barely 23" wide! (It's a small church ...) I changed the scale to .75"/square and it was still too big.  So I eliminated a row of squares in each direction through the center (the squiggly line) and also shortened the sides and top by one row.  By now I couldn't tell heads from tails; I needed a better graph but couldn't find my composition book of graph paper. Off to Staples for a replacement.  

I let the design stew in the back of my mind while I searched for the "perfect" purple.  In my mind it needed to be close to the store-bought set we currently have or some individuals in the congregation might object (you know how that goes).  I finally found fabric I thought would work.

In the meantime I worked out a new graph based on .75"/square.

But life intervened; suddenly I'm weeks away from the first Sunday in Advent (November 28) and I can't find the pattern or my new graph.  I frantically sent out a call for anyone who could send me in the direction of a source for the pattern as Peg is no longer living. By the time a friend of Peg's responded, I had found my pattern and graph on the kitchen/bar counter (really???).

Not happy with my selection of metallic golds, but with time running out, I started cutting. I was very meticulous with my stitching because so much can go wrong with all those tiny pieces.  This is my progress to date.

I have all day tomorrow to finish!  I will layer with a lightweight batting, pillowcase style, then turn right side out and top stitch the edges.  I may put a few lines of quilting to highlight the cross ... or not.  At 22" wide it shouldn't need much.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had the most wonderful day on Tuesday with part of the family (DH couldn't make it due to ongoing deck construction).  My SIL and I drove to Nashville Monday afternoon and spent all of Tuesday getting acquainted with the newest member of the family.

I was finally able to give Miss C her Tiny Tuesday quilt and it was much appreciated by everyone.

Grand DIL knew immediately what I had intended all along -- she spied the owl and the pig, talked about the shapes and colors, discovered the tactile feature in the bowties, all teaching tools for the baby as she grows.  It went immediately on the floor (as intended).

We had the whole day with nothing to do but visit with my son and DIL, as well as the grands (well, half of the grands; the others arrive today and we hope to see them at the end of the week).  We shared stories and pictures and laughs.  SIL and I were just glowing with the warmth of the occasion.  I wish the younguns lived closer, but I am thankful that both families are doing well where they are.

Construction update: Trex is installed on deck and dock, screens have been installed on the enclosure, underdeck (patio ceiling) is 3/4 done.  Cable railing to be installed next week, as well as the kayak launch/lift. We're slowly getting there ...

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Pandora's Box

A couple of weeks ago I opened Pandora's Box, a/k/a Blue and Brown.  It contained an assortment of bits and pieces, pieces and parts, mostly reproduction fabrics in blue and brown. 

Among the treasures in the box -- a Franken-medallion:

... in that case, mostly brown.  And a set of finished Irish Chain blocks in blue.  At that time there was a stack of unfinished block pieces with a label attached that said 13 blocks.  I assumed that meant I could make 13 more Irish Chain blocks.  NO.  It meant I had 13 finished blocks and the pieces/parts would not make complete blocks without mixing the fabrics.  But I did have enough background fabric and brown strips to make some shoofly blocks and this is the result.

As is, it's about 34" square.  I will at least add another small border to make a baby quilt, or I might add another round of blocks to make it wheelchair size.

I love the combo of blue and brown, especially in  repro fabrics.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

One of THOSE Moments


Whenever my husband offers to warm my seat in his car, I am so grateful and wish I had that feature in MY car.

Well, after driving it for 4 and 1/2 years, today I discovered I DO have heated seats!!!

I was trying to charge my Kindle while I was driving to the tire place for service so that I would have something to do while waiting.  Right next to the USB port ...

Monday, November 15, 2021

This and That Tuesday

 Glorious Sunday sunset - 

Nearing the finish line - 

Trex is installed on the deck ... and the stairs ...

Dock work began today - 

Screens have been manufactured for the deck enclosure and MAY be installed this week.  Then the railings.  We are planning a deck-warming party for the neighbors who have had to look at all the construction vehicles for a couple of months.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Finish with a Flourish

As I said several posts ago, my interest in Rainbow Scrap Challenge '21 waned around February.  I had a couple of projects that carried over from 2020 and I had plans to start something new, but I just couldn't generate any enthusiasm.

Then I saw Preeti's Masala Box last month.  And the rest is history.  Twenty blocks in 10 days.  I blocked, pressed, and trimmed all 20 blocks at the S'mores retreat this week then assembled them into an "artful" arrangement (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10).

As is, it is 48" x 60".  I plan to add a 2-1/2" border of the background fabric and that may be the end.  

Inspired by Masala box, I pulled more 2-1/2" strips and cut Square Dance blocks.  My first order of business at retreat was to stitch them.  I was never sure how they would be arranged, but after several iterations I settled on this orientation, though color placement needs to be improved:

As is, it is 48" x 48" more or less.  I think it could benefit from being a little bit bigger; I'm even considering making some lighter blocks to create an ombre effect (I may have mentioned that before).  Anyway, two RSC tops will be complete before year's end!

Linking with Angela at soscrappy for Scrap Happy Saturday.

Friday, November 12, 2021

S'mores Retreat Roundup

First, in case you are new here, let me explain why we call our group The S'mores.  The founding members met at a guild retreat in 2002.  We enjoyed it and each other so much that we wanted to see some more of each other.  We all shared the same desires to sew some more, laugh some more, eat some more, and shop for some more fabric.  Get it?  Anyway, the membership has morphed over the years, but the basic concept remains our mantra.

By the time I finished sewing each day at retreat I was too tired to write a review.  So grab a cuppa because you'll want time to study these beautiful finishes.

My roommate and tablemate Sena spent her first day adding borders to the Woven Log Cabin she made at Cindy Williams' Life's a Bear Getaway.

Then Sena tackled the borders on her Patricia Kaleidoscope she started while we were in Jonesborough in June.  (Yes, apparently S'mores want to retreat some more, too!)

The borders were supposed to be single and mitered.  But Sena needed to make the quilt big enough to hang over a high bed.  I think her solution looks like an arbor.

The last day Sena worked out the math for a quadruple mitered border on this gorgeous feathered star from several years back.

It took both of us to figure out where she went wrong, but at least the error was too big rather than too small.  Turns out she assumed she had 40 inches WOF on the light blue batik so she added 6 more inches, when in reality the WOF was already 46!

Our other tablemate Shirley made some pretty octangular Christmas placemats, but I failed to get a photo.  She whipped up a few other small projects, then tackled a gorgeous BQ-2 (that I also failed to photograph 😞)

If you are not familiar with BQ quilts by Maple Island Quilts, check them out.  Debbie Bowles has expanded from the original Big Quilt (BQ) to five variations on the theme.  These patterns use large-scale prints that are hard to cut up, but I have found them useful for unifying disparate blocks (like those from a block swap).

At the next group of tables Ruth was also working on Woven Log Cabin.  She had made 99 blocks back in September, then decided she didn't really want to make a queen so she divided the blocks into three smaller quilts.  This is the first top she finished.

Lynn works so fast I don't even remember her first project.  But take a look at this fun Christmas tree she made from a jelly roll.

She basically worked from a picture, making each row a bit longer than the one above.  Then she used her leftover strip pieces to slab together the border.  Makes me want to go out and buy a Christmas jelly roll!

Also at the same table, Donna put the binding on her Weaver Fever (again, no photo) then she threw together a little table-topper made from a collection of my orphan blocks she had grabbed from a free table several months/years back.

Then she continued working on the Bonnie Hunter mystery Unity.

 I think Donna has unsewn this as much as she has sewn!  Determined, she is.

The girls in the back of the room were busy, too.  Sharon finished a top similar to Masala Box, only made with solid strips of framing rather than pieced.  Then she set about making this huge Stretched Stars Sampler for a young relative who loves orange.

The pattern is in the Spring 2021 edition of Quilter's World magazine.

Kim completed this BQ-5 top before moving on to another project:

See what I mean about using large-scale prints?  If she cut that bird fabric up she would have lots of dismembered birds -- heads and tails!

There was a lot more going on, little finishes here and there.  Becky, Ari, and Charlie kept their noses to the needle, with lots of blocks made but no tops to show.  Tune in tomorrow for an update on my progress.