Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Outdoor time!

Now that we will be starting our fourth year in Texas, we know that this time of the year is when you have to enjoy the things that are thriving in your yard.  Once the hot summer days come, those plants will go into survival mode and not be as showy.  We have had a lot of rain this spring so everything is  looking great.  I started a flower bed on the back of the house which almost faces completely North.  I know that flowers that bloom need sunshine, but in Texas they also need afternoon shade.  I started out with some yarrow and purple cone flowers a few years ago. I have divided them in the fall so that I could fill in the whole bed.  I love repeating the same flowers throughout the bed.  I also have a few small hostas that I planted around the irrigation heads so the at the water can still spray as it's suppose to.  I am thinking next year Tom is going to need to change out the height of the heads because my perennials are getting larger.

Early this year I added some white lily bulbs and they are so pretty right now.  I also planted a clematis but it will take some time for it to build up a root system before it will show off.  Then a few weeks ago I added the rain lilies.  My latest addition was a hydrangea bush I got for Mother's day!    I hope they surprise me a little later this summer.  A few iris and a few mums that my sister shared with me last summer are coming along.   I am so excited to see how well it is doing. It is a whole lot different growing perennials here than up north.  I will continue to add things I see growing well in this area.  The plants are filling in pretty well, but I know for sure I will be adding some more lily bulbs and would love to find some red tulips that will return year after year. They are getting harder to find since everything started to get hybridized.

 I am so excited to have a southern magnolia planted in the back yard.  Tom has convinced me to add a couple more.  So that may happen next February.  The large white blossoms smell so good, I just wish they lasted longer.


The final picture is a fig tree. It is starting it's third summer with us.  We got quite a few figs on it last year and this year we will probably get two crops.  They are a very interesting tree as they don't flower but produce fruit.  This is the first year it hasn't died back to the ground during the winter.  We thought we had lost it the first year, but after reading up on it it's very common for that to happen until the tree gets to the age of three.  I am very pleased to still enjoy my passion to grow things, although we have scaled back the size of our yard with this move dramatically.  I knew as we are getting older it gets harder and harder to garden the way we used to.  So last year was my last year to have a veggie patch.  I will continue to grow a few herbs and found that planting them in a planter with some flowers it a great way to fit them in.  Tom and I really love going out every day and checking the progress!  Life is definitely good!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Hst Quilt

Well, back to work on my hst's!  I finally hand pieced enough hst's that I started assembling them into sixteen patches.  I was inspired by a quilt on Lucy's blog, back in January.  I really need to remind myself that I love quilts that are simple and repeat the same block.  It's all about color and seeing the fabrics play off one another.  I used to struggle with trying to choose fabrics when I first started quilting. Then there was the question of how much yardage should you buy?  Then one day I was weeding the flower garden and realize how all the colors in the garden seem to cohabitate and look lovely, why should it be any different in a quilt.  So my journey into scrap quilts started!  I am much happier to make blocks out of scraps.  You can always throw another fabric into the mix if you aren't sure you have enough of this color or that.  It changed the way I purchased fabric.  It's all about pretty colors, prints and solids.  Less stress and more time to enjoy the time stitching.  But with this process all the units need to be made before a quilt top can start coming together.  I usually don't fret too much about each blocks layout, my only rule is to not have the same color next to the previous color.  Sometimes certain colors take the same position in each block, but mostly it's pretty fabrics stitched together and either pieced or appliqued to a background solid or print. I need 36 scrappy 16-patches for this quilt.
I am finally seeing the bottom of my project box!
First I lay out 16 hst's in a pleasing way!
Then they turn into foursies!
 I have room to lay out about four blocks in my sewing room. I don't always get them all sewn each day but I do try and spend a little time sewing each day.  Hopefully by the end this week, I will have all 36 blocks assembled.  This will be my first scrap quilt that I hand pieced but then machine pieced the blocks and the quilt top together!  It allows me to enjoy some hand piecing, but I don't have to worry about stressing my hands.  I hope that I can keep doing some kind of hand work well into my future.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rain Lilys

I was at the grocery store the other day and came across some bulbs being clearance out.  I am always a sucker when I walk by these displays.  I think it stems back to watching both of parents working on a farm and in their garden caring and loving the plants they grew.  It's like they were the stewards of making sure that variety survived.  So, I always feel compelled to try to save a plant.

Well, being new to Texas, I am fasinated by the plants that grow here. They really need to be hardy to survive our extreme weather conditions.  My husband and I have lived in six different states over our married lives. Each state was a new adventure, so different from the corn and soybean fields of Northeastern Illinois where we grew up.  We have lived thru some of the coldest winters in Wisconsin in the mid 80s, to the gorgeous springs in north Georgia, to the floods in Missouri and the nature that is so abundant in Arkansas. Three years ago we moved on to Texas, a whole different enviroment.  But, I have learned so much about gardening in each area because of the things I was taught by my parents.  Each plant needs to have the right conditions to survive.  So, I picked up a box of eight rain lily bulbs and have planted them in my perennial border on the back of the house.   I am not sure if they were too dried out to save, but I feel good about the adventure.  I did some research and found they are a native plant in Texas, so maybe they are just tough enough to survive. I sure hope so.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Hand Pieced QAL

I spent alittle time in the sewing room earlier this week.  I really needed to straighten up a bit, I try to do this between projects.  I also wanted to find a place for my hand pieced quilt that is finished.  I decided instead of hanging it on the wall with my minis, that I would use it as a table topper.  I think it looks quite nice on this table with my orchid.  I guess I need to find a better looking pot for my orchid.  I use plastic jugs that I drill holes in along the sides and a few at the bottom, as my orchid seems to like that enviorment.  But, I really need to keep my eye for a more decorative pot that I could set the jug into.  I have never grown orchids before, but really have always wanted to give it a go.  This one is a couple of years old. The first year it didn't look so great, but after doing some more research I think I understand now what makes them happy.

I also was honored as being one of the four quilters that was chosen for one of the four final prizes.  I was very surprised and will have fun shopping online for some supplies.  A quilter always needs something to finish a ufo or start a new project, so the 50 dollar Fat Quarter Shop gift card will come in handy.  

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Finally some slow stitching

It's been a hectic spring at our house. The great weather outdoors constantly beckons me to come out and enjoy nature.  So, often at this time of the year my sewing time is given up for the green outdoors. But, that is just fine.  Afterall, it's the colors in nature that often inspire my quilts.

Of course, while outside doing the yard work, I noticed the lanterns on the front of the house were looking pretty bad.  The black paint was badly faded. So down they came and the spray paint came out.  I used a hammered bronze paint which really turned out great!

We have also spent some time updating the furniture in our family room.  Furniture shopping is very draining especially since we were looking for a piece that we both could find comfortable.  We ended up with a power sectional.  Then a new lamp shade was needed and another lamp.  We went to a neighborhood garage sale Saturday and found a 2 dollar lamp that had a great base and I knew Tom could add a harp and with a new lamp shade it would be perfect. It is a wood lamp and of course the wrong shade of stain so I spent time painting it while Tom did the modifications to add the harp. More sewing time gone, but it was a fun project to do with my husband.

But, I did find a few hours each eveing to hand piece some more half square triangles.  I only need to do about twenty more to have enough to make 36 - 16 patches.  It seems like I just started stitching these, how time flies.  So I apologize for not posting but I have been too busy.  But today, is definitely a stitching day. Hopefully today, I can get a good start hand piecing  those half square triangles and getting them all pressed and ready to assemble into sixteen patches. I will join Kathy and the others linking up their slow stitching progress.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Keeping it Simple!

I know when I started quilting I was attracted to the technically most difficult quilts.  Now that I have tackled a few, I keep reminding myself that it's the simple traditional patterns that I really love.  I think it's because they really showcase the fabric or combinations of colors.  So, as I was piecing my hst's I kept reminding my self : keep it simple!

So yesterday, I started assembling a 16 patch.  Now do I set them on point for a zig zag effect or not.  Again, reminding myself:  keep it simple.  If I don't set them on point I can quilt with a diagonal line thru the triangles which will keep it simple and let the fabric shine.  I don't know how many quilters consider the quilting when actually piecing the top.  It is always on my mind.  I piece so I can hand quilt, I guess that might not be true for those who have their tops longarmed.  So all my decisions have been made.  Oh! except maybe how wide the sashing and outside borders will be.  But first, I need to get these blocks assemnbled.  I am using the machine to stitch the blocks even though I hand pieced the hst's. There isn't a rule against that is there?  I really like both methods so why not combine them?????

Friday, April 5, 2019

Hand Pieced QAL finish!

I am so glad that I joined the QAL.  Although, I have made a couple of hand pieced quilts I had never worked with blocks and so many points.  As with everything else we do, practice does improve our skills so that was a bonus.  As I said in a previous post the fabric I used was light and not as tightly woven as some quilting fabric, but I managed to hang in there.   Now when it came time to quilt it, the lighter fabric was a dream to quilt.  I pulled Jeana Kimball's book: Loving Stitches from my library and got a lot of ideas on how to quilt each block.

There also was a simple basket weave pattern in the book that I decided to use on the negative space.  I have never enjoyed using stencils basically for two reasons. 1. They never seem to be the right size for the area I want to use them. 2. They are flimsy and tracing or pouncing thru them is difficult for this girl.  I use my quilting rulers and make my templates when it comes to hand quilting.  The basket weave is a simple version and very easy to mark just using a ruler.

I started by marking a one inch  grid at a 45 degree angle going in both directions. Then I drew a line down the middle of each square and would alternate the direction in the next square.   One line is horizontal and one perpendicular.  Nothing hard about that!

I usually try to do something new or different with each quilt I hand quilt.  For this quilt I  used a varigated quilting thread.  I find it difficult to choose a color when the spool is varigated but I had this spool in my sewing box for several years. I had won it at a quilt show and just never found the right quilt until this one.  The pastel greens pink and yellows were perfect for this quilt.

I thought I would switch to gray when I started quilting the gray fabric but decided to continue with the varigated and really loved the bit of shimmer it added to those dull gray areas.  I can see using varigated threads in the future as they are a lot of fun.

The finished quilt is approximately 29x29 and so it quilted up pretty quickly. Also an artic blast came thru Texas last weekend and I sat and stitched every moment I had free.  Once I got going, I was having a hard time putting it down.  I must say I am pleased with the finish and will hang it in my sewing room.  

Now it is time to decide what is next.  Hand piecing a few more sun flower blocks this summer would be fun and I need to prepare my trailing vines for hand quilting.  There always seems to be plenty to choose from around here. I have joked that I don't need anymore quilts but somehow I always start another and have several tops waiting to be hand quilted. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Hand Quilting

I finished up hand stitching the sashings and corner triangles to my Hand Pieced QAL quilt and decided to get it sandwiched and quilted.  I am not sure what took over in me, maybe it was being a way from sewing for a week on our get a way or just wanting to see this project completely finished.
I have to say I spent quite a few hours stitching this week and only have one corner triangle to complete.  I probably would have finished it Saturday but all of my stitching was interrupted by having to babysit my grand dog Zoey.

Her first ride in a shopping cart, she did surprisingly well!

She's a puppy so she commands quite a bit of attention, but she seems to love quilts and has adopted this one has her perch.  So hopefully, during her naps today, I can add a few more stitches to bring me closer to this finish.

I have started the final corner and am using a basket weave pattern. Something I have never used as a background filler but have wanted to use.  It was very easy to mark just using a ruler.  Hopefully a blog post will follow soon about this finished project. It has been a whole lot of fun!