Tuesday, March 2, 2021

You're Crazy! Project Quilting 12.5

 I was so excited when I saw the 5th Project Quilting Challenge on Sunday. The prompt for the week is "You're Crazy" and we are to create our own personal interpretation and be inspired by the "Crazy Quilt".

I LOVE Crazy Quilts. There is something so simple, yet oh so elegant about them. Women made them as show pieces, using their left over "Fancy" scraps of fabric and then probably sat around all winter long by lamp light and embellished them with bright colored thread, beads and baubles.  The fact that they are just random pieces of fabric put together without rules is what really attracts me to them. This is my kind of quilting. 

Taking an excerpt from the article "Crazy Quilts and Mad Women", [...] the crazy quilt trend of the nineteenth century, incorporated motifs from Japanese art and decor, English embroidery, and fairyland. [...] In an era obsessed with female hysteria, it is no surprise that crazy quilts were the order of the day.

Somewhere in my stash of quilting books I have a book about the history of crazy quilts and how to create your own. Of course this week it felt like too much work to dig it out and get some tips, so like the crazy lady I am I just decided to wing it. 

A number of years ago our quilt guild purchased a stash of fabric and then divided it amongst those of us who wanted to "buy into the stash", the lady who had owned the stash made costumes for the theatre and was a quilter. This was (is) the most amazing stash of fabric, in my share of the stash there was a box full of what I like to call "fancy" fabric. It was mostly dress lining fabric, satin and taffeta. It must have been from a specific show, or maybe a wedding, but all the colors are in varies shades of ivory, rose, coral, grey and pinks. I have absolutely no use for that box of fabric, but no one throws fabric away, so I knew I still had it somewhere and I needed it to use for my crazy quilt! The following photo is what the box looked like after I dumped it out on my sewing room floor....just like a crazy! LOL 

I love crazy quilts and HATE the color Rose pink. Which is what I had to work with, that and a little grey. I have absolutely no velvet fabric anywhere, but I did have some wool and also thought it would be a great idea to add some minky fabric to replicate velvet. (it wasn't but I made it work). While digging through my boxes I came across a little piece of embroidery and thought it would be fun to add this to my project to make it feel more authentic. 

My sewing machine has all sorts of different fancy stitches so after I cobbled together my "CRAZY" quilt I used a rose colored thread and a maroon thread to create some fun stitches. I started out doing this before adding batting and a backing and realized it would work better if I used the decorative stitches as my quilting. 

The ring tone on my phone is the Waylon Jennings song "I've Always Been Crazy", so whenever my phone rings it blares out my life's theme..."I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane". So I used the letters feature on my machine and attempted to add that to one of the larger sections of fabric. Of course I have never used this feature before and I really didn't know what I was doing, and probably should have practiced first! I tried to fix my lettering with a sharpie, and you can imagine how that worked out on silk fabric. I went too fast when I was stitching the word CRAZY and it looks more like CRABBY, which my husband would tell you fits better anyway! LOL 

I also dug through my mess and found some lace and rick rack to add to the completed top, and then added buttons to hide the corners that didn't quite match up. This would not win a prize for well executed sewing. After I had it quilted, I decided if I was going to create a train wreck I should probably just keep going, I had a scrap of the mint green minky and found a pillow inners and made the finished quilt into a decorative pillow case. 

So that is my finished project for the week, its not the most amazing project I have ever made, or the most beautiful! My phone keeps picking up oranges and browns instead of the rose and grey. But it could be because it is on a brown couch.  The finished pillow is approx. 10 X 15. 

 I hope someday to have "fancy fabric" in rich colors I actually like and brush up on my embroidery skills, and create a real crazy quilt. Someday! 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

More Fun than a Barrel of Monkeys- Project Quilting 12.4

 I know I sound like a broken record, constantly repeating what a weird year 2020 was & how 2021 is turning out to be equally weird. But I think in all honesty everyone feels the same way.

It has just been a weird year. Even the excitement that I normally feel about Project Quilting is somewhat muted & missing something. Everything feels like we are in some sort of Limbo Land. Waiting and anticipating...but exactly what is it we are waiting for?  

While we are all clearly in the same pandemic, each of us has our own waiting and wanting. Which granted that is how life is even when we aren't in a pandemic, but for some reason add the whole insanity of last year & the whole crazy of this year so far, and it just feels extra weird. 

One of my daughters sent this meme to me and told me it was the spitting image of ME over the past year...LOL...she is right! 

So when the challenge for this week came out, I had a difficult time trying to decide if I wanted to be excited about it or not. The challenge was to create something using the quilt block pattern, "Snails Trail" or in some books called the "Monkey Wrench".

Well the monkey wrench pattern I thought of was this one, and I have never liked this quilt block.

So then when I saw the Snail Trail and that is was also called a monkey wrench, I just thought "weird". 

After reading some of the posts from other quilters who had already started the challenge about how challenging the block was, I thought great. I don't like following rules, measuring and cutting. I am a lazy, chop up the fabric and sew, quilter. But I decided maybe this would be good for me to follow a pattern for a change. There are as many ways to make the block as there are variations of quilts using the block. Some very basic and others which are just incredible. 

I think the pattern when done in two colors looks like those funny monkeys in the "Barrel of Monkeys" game. All just stringing along hooked together with their arms and tails.


Somewhere in the back of my mind I was envisioning a barrel of monkeys quilt, in fact I even imagined that somewhere in my stash I had monkey fabric. I did not, but trust me, I will be ordering some.  I decided I was going to make my block into a red monkey swinging through the trees. Just one and keep it simple. 

The block turned out to be easier to make than it looks, and since there are so many different ways to make it, I think I would like to explore some of the methods when I make my monkey quilt in the future. 

I found a pattern that was supposed to be foundation piecing, but decided that was too much work and just cut the triangles and squares and made blocks, without the foundation part of it.  

As you can see, this is not a red monkey, and there are no trees. 

If you have a fabric stash, you know what it's like to dig through all that fabric and get distracted from your original plan. First I found a fun bright colored tropical print that I decided would make really cool snails, so I tossed the monkey out the window and decided to go with a snail instead.

I dug around some more and found a pretty salmon color to use for the back ground, but while digging for that, I came across this amazing piece of hand dyed fabric. I have no idea where it came from, but I wish I had about 10 yards of it instead of the one little fat quarter. It blended so beautifully with the salmon and I knew I had to use it. Of course when sewn together they almost blended too much, and I could no longer see a monkey or a snail. More like an amoeba. 

If I wanted to impress you by pretending to be artsy and know what I was talking about, I would tell you that when I created my challenge piece I was trying to convey the feeling of a cosmic journey, an explosion of swirling star dust, the birth of a cell and the sense that all life is connected though our shared conscience, adding an organic texture to my block using hand dyed fabric and thread painting that tied each piece of the larger block together....  

But truth be told... I picked out two fabrics I really liked, sewed them together, decided they were just weird looking, and found some variegated thread that looked good on the fabric and then quilted them in the hopes that maybe it would look a little less weird and look a little more like "I planned it this way". 

I bound my creation using a piece of brown leafy batik binding that was already cut and in my left over binding pile. My finished piece is 13 x 14. Not quite square...so weird. 

I honestly wasn't sure about this challenge when I started. I was apprehensive about the imagined difficulty in the block itself. But after getting started and figuring out that to get it to sew together correctly I just needed to imagine it as a puzzle piece and follow the pattern layout. The possibilities with the block are endless. 

So in keeping with the weird of the whole past 12 months, instead of a Snail Trail, or a Monkey Wrench, I created a uniquely strange - More Fun than a Barrel of Monkeys Amoeba Quilt. 

Make sure you take a look at the other challenge quilts this week, it is really fun to check out the different ways people have interpreted the block pattern, from snails to witches hats, every idea under the sun! 

They can be found on the Persimon Dreams Blog at kimlapacek.com  under the Project Quilting tab. 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Project Quilting- 12.3 Virtual Vacation Challenge

After being so lazy in the 12.2 Fussy Cut Challenge I thought I better step up my game this week.

This weeks challenge is "Virtual Vacation" and we were to create a project that symbolized the vacation we aren't on! 

On Sunday when the challenge came out, I thought about a road to somewhere, and I decided I would think about somewhere I wanted to go and then create from there. 

Monday morning I opened my email and the first email that popped up was an ad with an article titled "There Is No Dream Destination", that stuck in my head for the rest of the day, and I kept thinking, well where can I go then? LOL 

It's interesting after almost a year of hanging out at home, for the most part, I realize there is really no place I want to go. There are days when I would like to get in my car and just start driving, no destination, just drive, so I still wanted to do a road theme. But a road to where? 

I had just ordered a stack of fabric from Quilter's Corner in Faulkton, SD and there is a piece from Moda called Cider Golden Delicious Tart. I am in love with this piece of fabric. It has a nostalgic feel of the 70's to it. Remember the record album covers, old rock band posters, the vintage fashion, it's all there in that one piece of fabric.

 So I decided I was going to create something that had the feel of a vintage poster. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I had good intentions to get this project finished early, but the week got away from me, suddenly it was Saturday and I had nothing but a sketched idea on a piece of notebook paper. 

It was cold today, I have customer quilts I need to get done, but I had been up late all week hand binding quilts and I decided I was going to just hang out in my sewing mess and get my challenge quilt done.

Of course I still didn't know where I was going to go on my vacation.  As much fun as we had "Back in the Day",  I really wasn't sure I wanted to travel back to the 70's! 

Thinking about my road in the middle of my design I was reminded of Walt Whitman's poem,

Song of the Open Road, and the line in section 8, 

The efflux of the soul is happiness, 

There have been many days this past year I have felt like happiness was pretty elusive. But this line reminds me that happiness is already inside of me, and I don't need to go looking for it any further than myself. 

So there is where my plan was hatched. A 70's vibe piece of fabric, old rock band posters, happiness, the open road, makes sense doesn't it! LOL 

So I created my little quilt and call it, "My Virtual Vacation on the Road to Happiness". 

I really wanted to find a little mirror to put in the place where my sunbeams are, I wanted the mirror to represent the idea that happiness was inside of us. I couldn't find a round mirror, or a silver button, but I liked the way the  bright shiny gold button looked with my fabric choices. It's all made using fabric scraps, except that one section of good stuff, and I added some road signs with good advice for recharging your Happiness along the way. 

My finished quilt is 8 x 10 

Friday, January 8, 2021

A Bright Spot on the Horizon ~ Project Quilting Season 12- Challenge 1

Life isn't just about darkness or light, 
rather it's about finding light within 
the darkness.
~ Landon Parham

When the Project Quilting 12.1 challenge was announced on Sunday the rules were that we were to base our project on Pantone's Color of the Year 2021-which is actually two colors:  Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating. Our project this week must be predominantly Gray & Yellow. 

I was excited because I love these two colors together and I already had a spark of an idea. That is until I started digging through my stash. Now if it were a green & brown challenge I would have enough fabric to create 100 projects, but find some grey or yellow in my mess, not a chance.

I did manage to pull out some batiks that were mostly gray, I found one lone strip of bright yellow/gold & was thrilled to find some gray wool pieces. On Sunday I had a plan & I had fabric!

To say 2020 was a rough year is an understatement. I can't really claim the entire year was rough since we made it through January & February with our hopes still intact. But when the middle of March rolled around the year pretty much went south. 

Not all of the stress of my year can be blamed on the virus, life can be tough even without germs lurking around, but throw a pandemic into the mix & suddenly the crazy became even crazier.  There were days when life just felt overwhelming.

Yet we all know, we have had other equally tough years. Throughout history people have gone through hard times, plagues, sorrows & heartbreaks. What keeps us going, how do we muster the strength to get up every day & face the unknowns? 

I believe for many of us it is our faith & a strong sense of hope that keeps us always moving forward. Even when we are in times of deepest despair there is something hardwired in us that tells us that there is something better waiting for us. We may not see it in the here and now, but deep inside us we know it's there. There is always a "bright spot on the horizon."

Seeking out the bright spots in our lives can make the present situation more bearable. This year it seemed there were a lot of dark days for many people, some days really felt hopeless on all fronts. Keeping ones eye on the horizon wasn't always easy, sometimes just when we felt things were working out the way we hoped they would, something else would come along & knock us back down.  

I like to think I am a pretty optimistic person, but this past year my negativity came out in full force. I was crabby, annoyed, tense, irritated, down right ANGRY & most of the time honestly irrational.  It was probably a really good thing we were stuck at home for most of the year!  I know in order for me to keep moving forward, I need to hold on to hope, keep the faith & look for that bright spot on the horizon. 

One of the bright spots for me this year has been a running conversation that two of my dearest friends and I have been having together through texts & messages every week. For a number of reasons based around health issues, work issues & travel issues we have not been able to get together in person, yet we have kept in touch almost daily. 

This bright spot of shared love for each other has kept me going on some pretty bleak days. We don't really talk about anything overly philosophical, mostly we talk about art & quilting projects we are working on, our grandkids, THEY were able to talk about their gardens this summer (mine was a bust! LOL), we rant about life, jobs, things that annoy us, frustrate us or even things that we are frightened or worried about. Our conversations connect us with the shared hope that soon we will be able to get together in person & spend an entire day together doing absolutely nothing but enjoying each others company! 

When I found out the challenge was one using only gray and yellow, I knew I wanted to make something that represented the bright spot that has kept me going through some crazy, rough days. 

I love string quilts,  I think cutting all those strips of fabric & then sewing them back together without any rules, makes my heart happy. So I decided I would make a little string quilt that represented the horizon on a dreary day & insert a little tiny piece of bright yellow HOPE to catch your eye.

I got a little carried away cutting my strings & some of them got pretty tiny & hard to sew together. I quilted it with straight lines, adding some zig zags along the edges with a darker thread. 

I liked the way the edges looked when I was done quilting it, jagged & unfinished, just like 2020 felt.  I took a strip of the frayed pieces of wool & used it as binding, leaving one edge ragged to give it that "rough around the edges" feel. 

It reminds me of a little woven rug & the finished size is 7 x 12. 

Before Project Quilting started this season I was feeling a little bit meh about even joining this year. But once I starting slashing that gray fabric & sewing it back together, my hope was restored & I was anticipating the next challenge before I even finished binding this one.

Keep the Faith.
The most amazing things in life 
tend to happen right at the moment 
you're about to give up hope.  

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Weave Me the Sunshine ~ Project Quilting 11.6

Music makes pictures and often tells stories
All of it magic and all of it true
And all of the pictures and all of the stories
All of the magic, the music is you...
John Denver 

Sunday our last Project Quilting challenge was announced. I was in North Dakota spending time with 3 of our grandchildren and didn't look at the challenge post until the next morning before I packed my car and headed back to South Dakota. After  five days of lollygagging around and ignoring the unfolding drama of reality, reading the news on Monday and facing the 400 mile drive I can honestly say I was just a bit depressed. I was thankful for something creative to think about as I meandered my way back home. 

The challenge for the week was to create something Vibrant and Vivacious, something bright and colorful to brighten the dreary days ahead. 

The first thing I do anytime I get in the car to go anywhere is find something good to listen to on the radio or my phone. Sometimes it's NPR and the news, other times a book, but on Monday I just wanted music. Music to help me forget all the crazy going on in the world that morning. 

Growing up music was everywhere in our lives, our Mom always had something playing on the record player and usually she was busy doing whatever moms do and singing along. Operas, movie soundtracks, musicals, folk music, religious music, you name it, we listened to it all. 

Sometimes when I am stressed or worried about something the lyrics to a song will get stuck in my head and play on repeat, it can be annoying when the song repeats for days,  or even months, but I honestly think sometimes it's maybe a hidden message to keep me moving in a positive direction. 

Northeastern North Dakota is still blanketed in a deep crust of snow, Sunday night it snowed some more. The first 100 miles of my trip home were on snow packed roads, and the sun was shining bright. The folk song "Weave Me the Sunshine" by Peter, Paul and Mary popped into my head and it has been playing on repeat ever since. I had my inspiration for my challenge quilt! 

"Weave Me the Sunshine" is a song of hope and solidarity, something we all need during the days ahead. 

 I was tired on Tuesday after my day of driving so I didn't do much except read the news, take a nap and try to get laundry done. I knew what I wanted to do for my project but I wasn't sure how I was going to create it. 

After supper I decided the week wasn't going to go by any faster and I probably should start making a plan. I dug through my batiks because they are dyed fabric not printed so I knew their bright, vibrant colors go all the way through the fabric. 

My plan was to WEAVE a sunshine :) I wanted the sun to be woven in a circular weave and not straight lines, it took a couple of attempts to figure out the best way to achieve this. I finally settled on wrapping my thread around a coffee can lid. Since I am not a weaver I probably didn't do it correctly, but it worked!

I took my fabrics and cut them into skinny strips and then realized I would need something to actually weave with. I didn't want to use a large needle because even though my strips were fairly thin, they would still be a headache to thread into the eye of the needle. While digging around trying to find something to use, I found a bar straw/pipe cleaner machine lint cleaner, perfect! I cut the straw down, the pipe cleaner was large enough to slip the fabric into and then manipulate so the fabric was locked in while I was weaving. 

After weaving my little sunshine, I tied off the ends of the thread and left some along the bottom to represent the rain. I had a dotted piece of blue batik I wanted to use for my background fabric, and I quilted swirls and lines on it before attaching my sun. I wasn't going to sew the sun down because I wanted it to hang free, but it wanted to curl so I did tack it down in a couple of places. 

Since I didn't know what I was doing in the weaving department, imagine that, my center was a bit crazy looking, so I added some strips of bright yellow and trimmed them to hide the blue threads and give it some depth.

The top photo is the front of my weaving, the bottom is the back. Good thing this isn't a weaving challenge! LOL

 I used a multi colored checkered piece of batik to bind it. When I started it was 8 x 10 but finished it is about 7 x 9 after trimming and binding.

 The threads representing the rain didn't want to hang straight so I found some larger beads and attached them to the ends to give them some weight,

As the entire world journeys now together into the unknown, may we find hope and solidarity,  and may each of you find a song in your hearts and sunshine to brighten your days~ Peace 

~ Weave Me The Sunshine ~ 
Peter, Paul and Mary  

They say that the tree of loving
Shine on me again
They say it grows on the bank of the river of suffering
Shine on me again, and

Weave, weave, weave, me the sunshine out of the falling rain
Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow, fill my cup again

If only I could heal your sorrow
Shine on me again
I'd help you find your new tomorrow
Shine on me again

I've seen the steel and the concrete crumble
Shine on me again
The proud and the mighty all have stumbles
Shine on me again

Only you can climb that mountain
Shine on me again
If you want a drink from the golden fountain
Shine on me again 

Weave, weave, weave me the sunshine out of the falling rain
Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow, fill my cup again 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

11.5 Give it Away

March blew in like a lion & I almost forgot this week was the next Project Quilting Challenge. Warmer days & melting snow have given me spring fever, its been hard to concentrate on work when I just want to be outside picking up the yard and planning my garden.

We still have enough snow, blustery days, plenty of ice, mud & water to keep me indoors & working on quilts, but it's always good to know spring is just around the corner.

The challenge this week is "Give it Away", we have been challenged to open our hearts and hands and create something quilted and give it to someone. It doesn't matter who we give it to, or when we give it, we just need to complete the quilt by the deadline, with the intention of giving it to someone else. Sounds simple enough, unless you overthink it. Which if you know me, I tend to overthink.

I was in a panic, how could I make a quilt in a week, quilt it and give it away? Even though I had just finished a baby quilt the week before, made, quilted and bound in 5 days. All ready to be mailed off and gifted away. Somehow my brain wasn't thinking about how easy the challenge was, but instead was trying for whatever reason to make it hard.

I pulled out some kits, I dug through fabric, I looked at quilting patterns and still had nothing. I just knew this was going to be the week I wasn't going to get anything done. But then Kim the creator of Project Quilting had a live video she posted on Facebook about how probably every one of us was overthinking this challenge and basically told us to be calm, we didn't have to make a king sized bedspread, LOL we could make anything, just like all the other challenges, anything as long as it fit within the rules, which are that is has to be quilted and finished in the time frame of the week.

Years ago I purchased a scrap book at a rummage sale, inside the book was a piece of paper someone had hand written the quote from the poem The Vision of Sir Launfal by James Russell Lowell ~ "Not what we have, but what we share, For the gift without the giver is bare; Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, ~ Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me." ~

Calming down & remembering what this challenge is really about, giving of ourselves to others, I suddenly had a plan.

I pulled out a scrap bag of flannel fabric I had purchased last year in a "grab bag" sale, called my friend Dawn & made plans to go spend a day with her. We enjoyed an entire day of catching up, and quilting. She worked on her own scrap pile and made nine patch blocks, and I took my scrap bag and sewed it all together with no rhyme or reason and made a little lap quilt.

 I have a large star quilt on my long arm machine which I will be working on all week, so I knew I wasn't going to get the lap quilt quilted before the deadline, but I still needed the day of sewing & a day away to catch up with friends & take a break from overthinking.

After I finished the lap quilt, I took the scraps of the scraps and put together a little mug rug to give away. It is so cute! The fabric in the grab bag was all camping themed flannels, I now wish I had more of, because my life was not complete until I saw those plaid thermos'. LOL

 I knew Dawn's daughter Krissy would love those little raccoons, bears and thermos jugs as much as I did. So when she came out to her folks house after work, she is who I gifted my "Give it Away" project to.

Doesn't that fabric make you want to go camping!


I have to share pictures of the Christmas cactus my mom gave me this summer. It was my Grandma Smith's Christmas cactus.  I think it is either confused about the seasons or just happy warmer weather is on it's way too, it has been blooming like crazy all month!