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.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Retreat Day One

 You may recall that two days after the last S'mores retreat in August much of the retreat center was under water.  As I drove onto the property Monday afternoon I could see the effects of the aftermath.

This area used to be a line of cabins that looked like these:

The dining hall and some administrative buildings are totally unusable.  Fortunately, the lodge where we convene is on higher ground, but it did sustain some water damage on the lower level.  The carpet had to be removed from the sewing room and will be replaced with vinyl.  

We  have a generous amount of space for sewing with a dining table down the center. Tables on risers are grouped on either side of the room for cutting, basting, and ironing.  We attach design walls (flannel-back tablecloths) to the ceiling grid.  Needless to say, we are grateful we were allowed to come back so soon after the disaster.

I spent my first evening here working on a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project carried over from 2020.

The block is called Square Dance (I think).  I came with 4 or 5 finished blocks and made the rest Monday evening. Once I settled on the setting, I thought it might be fun to make some more blocks in lighter colors and try to arrange ombre-style with darks on the bottom and grading to light at the top.  We'll see how that goes once I get back to my stash ...

More tomorrow on all the beautiful projects here.

Sunday, November 7, 2021


S'mores retreat is next week and I've been trying to settle on which projects I SHOULD be taking.  I usually hold borders till retreat time as there is plenty of table space where we get together.  I have two border projects lined up, not that I'm enthusiastic about either one.  

A primary goal will be assembling Masala Box (which I am calling Mess-ala Boxes)

This is just a tentative layout.  I have made gray and dark green blocks since this photo and I will try to figure out how to balance the darker colors with the lighter ones.

I was looking for an empty project box (or one I could usurp) for Mess-ala when I opened Pandora's Box (a/k/a Blue and Brown).

This is a medallion-style "Frankenquilt" I started in the summer of 2020, made from leftover pieces and parts from my reproduction fabric days.  It screams "Finish me!", but not at this retreat; it needs more thought.

BUT in that same box was a baggie of finished blocks (and parts for 13 more) left over from a quilt I gave away made from my own design I call Irish Grandmother (combo of Irish Chain and Grandmother's Choice).

I don't think I have enough of the background fabric to make more shoofly blocks ...

... but what if I alternated with a solid block of this fabric?

We'll see how that develops.  Anyway, at a minimum I will finish those thirteen blocks at retreat.  In the meantime, I decided to move this other UFO off the shelf to free up another project box.

Several years ago I taught a class on 4-patch posey.  I used this gorgeous paisley (from JoAnn's, of all places) to demo both the square and quarter-square (shown here) options.  I have enough blocks for two small throws.  This pattern is English Tiles by Kaye England.  It is designed to be set strippy style, but the border print I had set aside for this one didn't work color-wise.  And just putting the blocks together would not be big enough to be useful.  So what if I used a large square between the blocks?

Boring and somewhat overpowering at the same time.  The space needed to be broken up.

I liked the idea of the 4-patch squares mimicking the corners of the blocks, but just a little heavy.  What about double 4Ps?

I THINK that's what I'm going to go with (though I just had another thought ...).  Anyway, the project has been added to my packing pile.  But I still need a REAL project ... more on that later, perhaps.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Trying New Things

I wrote previously about trying a new pattern -- Masala Box by Preeti/sewpreetiquilts.  I've been attempting to make two blocks of each Rainbow Scrap Challenge color per day, trying to catch up on RSC'21.  I added orange and gold last week.

Over the weekend I tried a color that I don't normally include in a RSC block -- gray.

There is a tiny gray stripe in the background fabric, after all.  I really like it!  Twenty blocks completed, will be assembled next week at the S'mores retreat.

We took baked brie to the neighbors' house on Saturday since the weather prevented our going out on their pontoon for the Halloween Boat Parade.  I enjoy cranberries with brie so I tried a new recipe for cranberry chutney.

It has quite a twang with a hint of cinnamon.  Actually quite nice -- in small quantities.

Another new thing I tried last week is a facial moisturizing serum that is supposed to plump up wrinkles.

It actually seems to be helping the wrinkles, but not the droopy jaws.  Anyway, I'm blaming my recent weight gain on plumper wrinkles!