Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Last Project Quilting Challenge of 2023 14.6

This week is the last challenge of this season, and it was almost the challenge that wasn't in my sewing room! 

The challenge for the week was to conquer a fear or create something to represent a fear we might have, maybe in life, maybe in the quilting world. As always the sky is the limit.

When the challenge was announced I was completely blank, usually I have some little idea or a glimmer of creativity after I read the challenge rules. But this week nothing.

As far as quilting goes, I can't say I have a lot of fears, I have things I don't like to do, such as following patterns, (although I love buying patterns), or using rulers to quilt with my long arm machine, but they aren't fears, they are just things I don't like to do. 

In art I am not afraid to try new things, give me all the supplies and if something doesn't work the way I think it should, I will just try it again differently. 

I have a fear of heights, and confined spaces, but those things don't completely freeze me, and if I need to get on a ladder to clean a window, I have a really nice tall ladder. 

In honesty I am probably more of a worry wart, and create scenarios in my mind to worry about. But I just don't have time to sit around and be fearful about things in life, cautious and very careful, but not fearful.

So the week went along with no idea and I thought maybe this would be the one challenge I would just skip, but then I felt maybe that was just being lazy and I could do something.

I finally decided my biggest "fear" is the fear of saying NO. I know I don't like to tell people no, and too many times it has created more work or more stress than I need in my life. The past 3 years have given me a lot of time to think about the things I want to do in life, the people I want to be around, and the situations I want to have to deal with, and NO has become a really great word in my vocabulary. I may not say it aloud as much as I should, but I have learned to internally say NOPE NOT DEALING WITH THIS BULLSHIT- and my life is so much happier. 

So I decided I would create a quilt representing a soft place to land for the people in life who don't like to hear the word NO. 

I have so much scrap batting and I decided I would cut strips of batting and quilt as I sewed onto a piece of muslin. I think I just like to cut strips and sew them so much and this was just a relaxing way to get rid of some of my batting scraps. Then I cut out the word ON from a piece of fabric with the word PONY on our house we only say YES to PONIES, so I turned the letters upside down to make the word NO.

 I then used batting to sew a pretty little flower around the NO, and a happy little cloud at the bottom of the stem so it would make it even easier for people who don't like to hear the word NO to land softly. LOL  

I used more batting strips to bind it, and it was done! My finished quilt is 4 x 10 inches.  

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Project Quilting 14.5- Sew NOT a SQUARE!

 This is the 5th week of Project Quilting, the year has been a busy one and we are only into the first week of March. I'm not sure if it feels like the months have been speeding by or if they are dragging. Today we woke up to more snow and wind, which seems to be a weekly occurrence. We have a couple of days of beautiful sunny snow melting weather, and then it hits again. I think I can speak for everyone in South Dakota when I say I am ready for sunshine and green grass! But if you missed it, this week we had a night with some spectacular Northern Lights, so even with the cold and never ending snow, it hasn't been completely awful! 

The challenge this week was "Sew NOT a Square", we could make anything we wanted, as long as there was nothing square in it and the finished project was not square, this also meant that even if our project was circular in shape or rectangular, there were to be NO SQUARES in it anywhere. 

I felt like I needed to challenge myself a little bit and do something I have never done before but always wanted to try which is English Paper Piecing. I bought a kit a number of years ago and started it, but put it aside after I cut out the templates and never did anything with it. Of course I knew I was not going to find that kit in the one week time frame, so I decided to look for free patterns on the internet and try to find something that fit the NO SQUARE rule. 

I found a fun pattern on a blog called, the pattern was a little table topper and she had sewn it in Christmas fabrics. I decided to do it in Halloween fabrics mainly because I had a fat quarter bundle of fabric in a handy spot and I wouldn't have to go searching. 

This was a learning experience for me, and what I think I learned was that I do not like hand sewing or English paper piecing. Maybe I would like it if I tried it again, but I am not sure I will try it again! 

I printed the pattern on a lightweight card stock, but feel that maybe just typing paper would have worked better. It was hard to sew the little pieces together with the card stock. I chose to use a glue stick instead of basting my paper to the fabric and my glue stick must have been super sticky glue because I could hardly get the paper off when I was done!

 I used a grey thread because the majority of the fabric was a silver grey, but the stitches looked messy on the orange and purple, so I think if a person were doing something small you would want to use better matching threads. I even watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to EPP and I still had trouble stitching things nicely.  I love hand binding quilts but hand sewing these little pieces was just a mess! I did not enjoy it at all! 

I decided because the stitching looked so fragile after pulling out the paper templates it would be best to zig zag on all of the seams, so I used a bright purple thread and sewed the finished piece onto a scrap of batting, I then used a piece of black Halloween fabric and sewed the front and back right sides facing to make a little casing, then left a space open so I could turn it, iron it all really well, and then used the purple thread and did a blanket stitch around the outside edge. 

I felt like it needed to be tacked down so I did some little knots in random areas just to hold the two sides. I wish I had a spider button or two just to add a little extra touch. I think I am going to try and enlarge the patter and use it as a template to cut larger pieces and sew on my machine, because I think its a really cute little pattern, but I would rather not spend a week stressing over knotted thread and sloppy stitching.


It was done! So NOT a square! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Project Quilting 14.4 - A Novel Project

The challenge week is over, my project was done and I had it linked with my Instagram account to the Project Quilting website, but I did not have a blog post written. 

We enjoyed the long weekend with a houseful of grandkids, basketball games, ice fishing, Indian tacos and snuggling babies. Who had time for blog posts? With a blizzard blowing across most of the country today, I decided it was a good day to sit by the fire and get writing.

This challenge was to be based on a favorite novel, oh so many books to choose from. I could spend the next 10 years making quilts based on all the books I have read and loved, so I knew I needed to do some serious narrowing down.  I decided to do a quilt based on the book Shadow of the Moon, by British author M.M.Kaye. 

This was a book I read in the early 80's and fell in love with. I still have my dog eared, page missing copy! 

M.M. Kaye also wrote the better known book, The Far Pavilions, which was made into a mini series, I loved this book also, so the quilt I did could technically be based on either of these books. The books are both epic historical novels set in 19th British Colonial India. Both are based on historical incidents that happened during that time. 

My Grandparents were Baptist Agricultural Missionaries in Burma (Myanmar) from 1926 until 1941. My Grandpa taught at the Pyinmana Agricultural School in Pyinmana Burma. My mother and her older brothers and sisters grew up in Pyinmana and the older kids went to boarding school in Tounggyi.

We grew up listening to the stories my mother & her brothers and sisters told us about the years they lived in Burma, every chance we could. The stories they told us were as magical as the Jungle BookJust So Stories of Rudyard Kipling. 

 No family gathering was complete without my Aunt Elizabeth or Aunt Eleanor making a large batch of Burmese Rice and Curry.

Khow Suey, Balachaung, spicy peppers, Chapati and Curries were the comfort foods we grew up on. We played dress up in saris made of silk and embroidered with golden thread, and played with clay marbles and little lead soldiers in rooms that smelled like sandalwood and moth balls. The shadowy store room in my grandmothers house was filled with trunks and baskets which our young minds were sure were filled with golden treasures from exotic places. So naturally I was drawn to the books by M.M. Kaye because the words and the images on the pages were already familiar to me. The book "Saving Fish From Drowning" by Amy Tan is the same and I love reading books about that corner of the world. 

The sepia photos I have included are family photos that belonged to my grandmother- in the first photo the little girls on the ends and the little boy in the pith helmet are my aunts and uncle in front of the Pyinmana Agricultural School. The back of the photo in the construction photo says it is the boys dorm, I thought it was interesting to find a color photo of this same building on The Pyinmana Schools Facebook page. Many building in Burma were destroyed during the war, but it seems that maybe this particular building was not. 

Elephants, Pagodas, Temples, Jewels and Gold, these were all images that I wanted to include in my quilt this week.      

I had a piece of fabric with Elephants on it that I wanted to use as my background piece, I wasn't sure what I was going to do after that, but somehow I wanted to make something that looked shadowy and magical. I cut out black silhouettes of temple shapes, pavilions, a doorway and the moon, but didn't really want to cover up the elephants. 

After I ironed the shapes down, everything looked a little haphazard, so I found some black and sand colored floral fabric, cut that out and put it around the silhouettes to represent the intricate carvings that are found on the sandstone buildings. I quilted around everything with gold thread, and then used some gold glitter paint to try and add more gleam to them. 

I kept thinking it needed something more, but I wasn't sure what. I didn't want to sit and sew jewels onto it, I didn't have anything in my stash that I could think of to give it a little bit more bling, and maybe more dimension. Living 100 miles from any fabric or craft stores is probably a good thing but when you don't have what you want in your stash, it can be frustrating. I finally found a small piece of lace and so early Sunday morning I painted it with the gold glitter paint, sewed it onto the finished quilt and then attached some sequins. It wasn't quite the finished project I originally envisioned. When I hung it up behind my Grandma's Burmese dinner gong I decided it looked just right and my 8 year old grandson gave it a thumbs up so it was a win. I backed the quilt with a piece of fabric that I had used in a graduation quilt for one of my nieces- she and her husband have actually visited both India and Burma in the past few years, so it was the perfect fabric to add to my India inspired quilt. 

No story about exotic places would be complete without a picture of a snake charmer & a cobra! Did you know that you can lure a cobra out of your house with a bowl of fresh milk? 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

54-40 or Fight!

 We are at the 3rd challenge in this season of Project Quilting, which just seems crazy because usually we hit this point about mid February and here it is only the first week of the new month. 

This challenge is a block challenge, and it is actually a block I had never heard of but after I saw it fell in love with. 

There are some blocks that I don’t like for whatever reason, like the monkey wrench, or the snowball, I see quilts with those blocks and I instantly dislike them. So to have this pretty block as our challenge was a bonus. 

The story behind the block is a political slogan that was used by the 11th president of the US, President Polk and had to do with the creation of the border between the US and Canada. Since I am currently listening to my husband give me the daily news and weather  update word for word and yapping on about the mystery balloons floating over the US…ðŸ˜ĩ‍ðŸ’ŦðŸ˜ĩ‍ðŸ’ŦðŸ˜ĩ‍ðŸ’ŦðŸ˜ĩ‍ðŸ’Ŧ I will just say if you want to know more about the history behind that slogan just google it! LOL 

It’s been a busy few weeks, we have a new grandson so there has been a few road trips to go snuggle him, and this weekend I am going to spend some time with some of our other grandchildren, plus quilts to quilt and bind for customers before I go, so I knew I needed to decide what to do and do it early in the week. Sunday evening I dug through my batik stash and found some fabrics I liked, printed off a couple of patterns to try and decided with the limited pieces of fabric I would do the paper piecing pattern.

 I’m not a fan of actually doing paper piecing, even though I like the way the finished blocks look, there is just something about paper piecing that makes me feel like I’m wasting a lot of fabric. Which if you could see my fabric hoard you would tell me I should waste a little bit more ðŸĪŠ 

I loved the way the block turned out and I was sad that I didn’t have more of these fabrics so I could have made a table runner or something. I decided I would wait and see how the week went and maybe dig out some other fabric and try the template pattern or the one using the tri rec rulers. I feel like I’ve just skimmed  through the first two challenges and maybe I could put a little more effort in this one. 

I found part of a layer cake that was left over from another project and using the templates cut out enough to make a nice little table runner. I got everything sewn together enough so I could lay it out and decide how I wanted it to look. Then I realized it was Friday night, I was leaving in the morning and I still hadn’t finished the original block. So I put aside the table runner project and quickly quilted the first block and put a binding on it, so at least I would have a finished project for the week. I will go back and finish the table runner next week! 

I am spoiled because I have owned a longarm quilting machine for 12 years. If you have never used one and done all your quilting on a sit down sewing machine, which is what I did for years, there is an unbelievable difference in how you can control the designs and how much faster you can quilt, especially when you are in a hurry!

 So when I sat down at my sewing machine last night  and started quilting my little block I had a complete mental block and just felt crabby that nothing looked the way I wanted, and how sloppy it looked. I was glad I had used a wild fabric on the back so I didn’t have to see the awful stitching. I stopped mid way through and just finished it off with stitch in the ditch and the thought that at some point I am going to pick all the sloppy seams out and fix them! But I was done and finished for the week and that was all that mattered. 

Then this morning the Project Quilting Facebook page had this posted and looking at my block I knew it had been posted just for my picky self 😂 

I don’t know why I like this block so much, I am usually not a block person, I don’t like measuring and squaring things up. I like to slash and hack fabric and sew it back together in random patterns, and prefer doing things without rules. But this little block is one I want to make more of! I will post the table runner when I get it done and also the re-quilted block, which I plan to use as a little coffee mug rug. The finished paper piecing block is 12x12 with the binding and border on. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

All things (not)PINK but BLUE

The second challenge for Project Quilting was announced on Sunday, this week the challenge was a color theme & the color chosen was PINK.  I have never been much of a pink fan and am drawn more to browns & greens so I knew the real challenge was going to be finding pink fabric in my stash. 

I purchased a Moda Fabric “Songbook a New Page” mini panel last fall from -Fancy That Design House- and one of the panels had some pink on it. 

I picked through my stash & found some bits & pieces of pinkish fabrics to match it and did a little quilt as you go coaster? hot pad holder? mug rug? Your guess is as good as mine! I embellished it with some different decorative stitches in a burgundy color thread & it was done. 

I was finally getting over a nasty sinus infection this weekend & knew this week was going to be a busy one getting caught up on all the things I didn’t get done last week! I knew if I was going to get any type of project done it had to be small & simple and be done in one day. So I started this and finished it on Sunday evening! The finished size is about 9 x 12 inches.

Little did I know how busy the week was going to be! 

Bright and early Monday morning we were all surprised & welcomed the 9th little leaf on our family tree ~ our new grandson ~Rowan Fenwick Fiedler~ he arrived safe & sound to join his parents and his older sisters Willow & Aspen. 

I was more than happy to spend the week snuggling this handsome little guy! 

I thought the saying on the little panel I chose was sure fitting for my week… just not in PINK  this week because we are all on TEAM BLUE 💙💙💙 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Duck.....Duck.....Goose! Project Quilting 14.1

The Project Quilting Season 14.1 started this week on Sunday January 1st ðŸ˜ą the 1st challenge for this year was “The First One” the rules stating that this challenge was to be all about ONE. Here is a clip from the rules for the week- 

Let’s revel in the “firstness” of January 1 for this week’s challenge theme and look at the number one.
Number one could be the winner. The “first” to reach a summit or achieve a position.
But sometimes one is the loneliest number; a single with no one around.
And sometimes it’s just math. In any event, let’s carry the one this week!

Ok??? I spent two days thinking of all the things I could that represented one, trying to come up with something unique and creative to start this season off with a bang!

On Tuesday when I was looking for something entirely not sewing related in my tornado of a sewing room, I found a piece of fabric I remember buying online because I thought the creatures on it were chickens, but when it arrived I discovered they were ducks ðŸĪ” and my idea was hatched! LOL 

Who can remember the game - DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE- we played it at every recess, during Bible school break time, any time a game needed to be played that was fun but at the same time made everyone sit down and calm the chaos….of course if you are from one of the foreign states of America you remember it as -DUCK, DUCK, GREY DUCK- but we aren’t going to debate the correctness of the name Duck, Duck Anything today because for this particular project it is GOOSE who is #1. 

For those who have no idea what I am talking about- 

Duck, Duck, Goose (also called Duck, Duck, Gray Duck or Daisy in the Dell or Quail, Quail, Quarry) is a traditional children's game often first learned in preschool or kindergarten. The game may be later adapted on the playground for early elementary students. The object of this game is to walk in a circle, tapping on each player's head until ONE is finally chosen; the chosen player must then chase the picker to avoid becoming the next picker.

I had just finished making a baby quilt using Flying Geese Blocks and had a set of blocks in a color I didn’t realize I had already used, so these extras were just laying around with no where to go, when I saw the duck fabric I knew just what to do with ONE of them them! 
I made a little DUCK DUCK GOOSE Quilted burp rag ðŸĪŠ 
I surrounded my lone Goose with the ducks, layered the finished top onto 2 pieces of double gauze fabric and quilted them together, finished the edges and it was done! Pretty simple but it works 🙌🏞
…and for those of you in the GREY DUCK camp…it’s a light grey grunge fabric that could be a grey duck…but not really because that’s definitely a flying goose! 😂


Thursday, March 17, 2022

Flying Geese-13.6

 Well, that's a wrap! The last challenge of Project Quilting Season 13 is done! These little challenges are such a great way to get through the long days of what is usually a mental slump after the holidays, they fire up the creativity and keep me motivated, so it's always a little sad to have the season end. But spring is in the air and the geese are heading home, there are gardens to till, rocks to move around, quilts to quilt and vacations to plan.

Our challenge this week was to create a quilt using the Flying Geese Block. This block is my absolute favorite quilt block. It is such a simple block, easy to make, and yet so versatile. I love adding a row of flying geese in a quilt border, or just making a whole quilt of flying geese. I would have to say this was probably the challenge I was most excited about. Pictured are a few projects I have done over the years incorporating the flying geese block. 

For those who don't know what a Flying Geese Block is, it is a simple block made up of a larger triangle representing the goose, surrounded by two smaller triangles representing the sky. During the time of the Underground Railroad, the Flying Geese block was used as a code in quilts, it was a signal for slaves to follow the direction of the geese, north to Canada, and as way to tell them where they could find water, food and shelter. 

The only rule this week, other than the ones we have each challenge, was that we had to incorporate a minimum of 5 flying geese in our finished project.  

I love listening to the geese in the spring and fall as they travel across the sky. It's fascinating to think about how year after year they know when it is time to head north or south as the seasons change. Hearing the geese and the cranes in the spring and watching the great flocks in perfect formation as they head north is a sure sign that warmer days are on their way. I can remember going goose hunting with my Dad when I was young, the cold frosty mornings, the anticipation and then the sight and the sounds of the huge flocks of geese and ducks as they landed on the water. 

Earlier this week I was visiting with my oldest daughter and she mentioned that they had gone to see the geese that have started migrating north. They live on the eastern part of the state and when the geese start flying north in the spring, the fields, swampy areas and lakes are covered with geese, hundreds of thousands of them. It's an incredible sight, especially the snow geese. She mentioned that the bald eagles follow the geese on their migration and sometimes you can sight eagles close to where the geese are. Since eagles are predator birds we figured that they followed the geese to prey on the weak or sick ones. We laughed about making a dead goose block to represent the one the eagles got, so with my morbid sense of humor, that's what I did.

I found a nice goose grey fabric to use for my geese, and while digging for a blue for my sky, I found this fun green that had rows of flying geese printed on it and decided to use that instead. Then of course the bright blood red!

 I decided I wanted the geese to be in a curved line and the only way to do that was to paper piece them. I have a love hate relationship with paper piecing. I love the crisp perfection of the finished product, but I hate the process, I can never remember which direction I need to lay my fabric, and sewing on the paper side always throws me off. I also think it's an incredible waste of good fabric since you end up trimming so much off.  Since it is a quilting challenge, I figured I might as well challenge myself and practice my paper piecing skills.

I wanted to quilt it to give it a feeling of motion so I quilted it with random wavy lines, and then I added a couple of feathers, one an eagle feather, and one a goose feather. My finished piece is 6 X 9.