20 February, 2018

Home Shopping Club

Inspired by Bonnie Hunter at a recent Guild meeting, I have pulled out the scrap bins and "shopped" at home. I don't know why I hadn't been shopping at home all along! Years ago, inspired and fired-up by the very same  quiltmaker, I took all of my scraps leftover from other projects and dutifully cut them up into squares and bricks in usable sizes, employing Bonnie's 'Scrap User's System'. I labeled my bins accordingly and put them under my cutting table, it's where they live. Occasionally I would get them out, the granddaughters like to create using the bins of pre-cut small squares for doll-sized quilts; but other than that, they languished-- out of sight, out of mind. I had forgotten the most basic premise of this system, the reason I spent all of those days weeks months cutting up the scraps in the first place, this is designed to be the Scrap USER'S System, not the Scrap SAVER's System!  During Bonnie's inspirational program and spectacular show-and-tell of her myriad of finished quilts she kept reminding those of us in the audience to shop our own stashes. Yes, she said, go and buy new too, mix it in; but remember: for every yard of already owned fabric that you use you are earning yourself a pass to purchase that much more. Hmmm, I wondered, how much do I have already stashed that needs to be used up. How can I earn myself a pass to buy more without guilt attached? I set out to shop at home and see what was right under my nose. The first bin that needed my attention was that of the 2.5" X 4.5" bricks; the bin was crammed full of so many that the lid didn't fit anymore! (see, Scrap SAVING was getting me nowhere!) I removed the contents and while straightening and sorting these pre-cut rectangles I grouped them into contrasting pairs by fours. I chain-pieced them together.

There were lots and lots of pairs (times four)!
Then, I cut the paired bricks diagonally from corner to corner.
I shuffled the pieces to make two Twin Sister blocks, one positive and one negative. These were then sewn together as shown and trimmed into one 5.5" block, unfinished. I did this over and over.
The results are above, a start to a charity quilt; more rows will be added to make it a nice, usable size. Next month our little mission church is beginning a quilt ministry to create donation quilts (and blankets and afghans) for disaster relief. This is but a small seed that will grow toward that effort. I am feeling quite pleased to have spent such a small amount of time, in reality, making something from what I already had. But this newly-inspired me didn't stop there, oh NO!
Gregory needs a big boy quilt on his bed to replace his tattered and thread bare Picture Play Quilt. (Nothing thrills me more than to have a quilt worn-out from love! 💗) He said that he would like one that is tan, green and blue. I designed a few layouts in EQ8 and he selected his favorite (above). My original plan was to shop for fabric when I'm at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival later this week. But then I remembered that I have my own home shopping club! Back to the bins: for squares and rectangles that meet the criteria. How much more fun will this one be? A tan, green and blue quilt made from pieces that Nana has saved (and now is USING!). I am giddy with excitement. I don't feel one bit bad about shopping outside the home for a consistent sashing and/or border fabric; not at all. What do you have in your own home that you can "shop" for? You might just be surprised!
Oh, and in case you think that this new-found excitement and inspiration may wear off; not a chance. I bought Bonnie's newest book at the meeting, I'm good for months years!
Life is Good!

18 February, 2018

Be Attitudes

The February addition to my growing pile from Nancy Halvorsen's "Be Attitudes" pattern. 
I am working my way through the year, one block at a time; can a finished quilt be far behind? 
Life id Good!

16 February, 2018

The Year of the Dog

In honor of Chinese New Year, and this being the zodiac year of the dog, I have brought this quilt out to celebrate; an oldie but a goodie. This was constructed from an Ami Simms pattern (Dog Yeared Calendar) back in 2003 and completed (quilted and bound) in 2010. It never loses its appeal to me, even after all this time. Probably because I had so much fun with every little element of making this one!

Obviously, in this house, the year of the dog is a per-PET-ual one!
Life is Good! 

15 February, 2018

Project Bags

These are Project Bags, made from the pattern of the same name. I have made lots of them; as gifts, and a few to keep. They are pretty to look at and straight-forward to construct. According to the write up on the pattern, they are: 

Great for organizing everything you need for each of your projects, these handy totes in four sizes have sturdy quilted bases and fun fabric details. A zippered closure keeps everything safe and secure and a see-through vinyl window allows you to see at a glance what is in each bag.

I concur, although I have only made the large (13" X 13") size. For me, they are especially handy to place chosen fabrics, supplies and the pattern or booklet for any given project all in one tote for workshops or retreats.
If you haven't made any bags by Annie this is the perfect one to start with. 
Fear not the zipper-- the instructions are easy-peasy; go forth and get yourself organized!
Life is Good!

12 February, 2018

Which Came First?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? As you well know we can go around and around on this one and not come up with an answer that everyone can agree on. One thing that we can agree on, though, is that my life has become a lot easier since the arrival of the Instant Pot at Chez Goodneedle. Our son and daughter-in-law have had one for quite some time. I heard all the great success stories of their wonderful, healthy meals prepared in a fraction of the time. Who couldn't use more time? I was intrigued but not convinced that I needed one. After all, it was an electric pressure cooker! I had never used a pressure cooker. My childhood memories of a pressure cooker were of a mysterious cast-metal locked bomb pot with a bobbing, sputtering valve on the top, sitting on the stove's front burner on Sundays; ours always contained a pot roast. I recall my mother warning us to "stay back" when the pressure was released as if this whole procedure was dangerous to the point of being life-threatening. Because of that healthy fear, I was never interested in pursuing the art of pressure cooking as an adult. I felt lucky to have survived those weekly threats. Then our daughter requested one for Christmas. Soon after she began extolling the virtues of Instant Pot cooking and I saw her dedicated Pinterest board grow with pinned recipes. She would happily report about her yogurt making and the delicious soups and meals she was turning out in the limited amount of time she has after work, to the raves of her family. Okay, I did some research. Maybe this would be something that could earn its space in our kitchen. I remember that same back-and-forth in my mind that I went through before we ever got our first microwave. Did we need this? Could we get along without one? Hadn't life been okay in our Instant Pot-free home up until now? I also remember that a week after getting that first microwave I couldn't imagine life without one! Our Instant Pot arrived last week. So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken. I cooked a whole one for dinner, start to finish, in 45 minutes; it was moist, flavorful and delicious! Next came hard boiled eggs. In the pressure cooker they were done in the same amount of time as if I had done them on the stove top-- but, the difference is, these peeled perfectly! Never again will I have a mutilated egg. And then, on Saturday afternoon, I whipped up a positively wonderful homemade Tomato Basil Parmesan soup to enjoy on a rainy, cold evening; employing both the pot's saute and pressure cooking functions, leaving only one pot to clean up afterward. Score! Stay tuned, the Instant Pot adventure continues, my own Pinterest recipe board is growing every day.

Life is Good!

07 February, 2018

Clamshells For Days

Dixie 107.5" X 107.5"
This is Dixie; I finally got the outer borders on this one, she's been hanging in the "to be quilted" queue for a long time. I knew that I needed to add the borders before quilting so that she would fit our king-sized bed. She is one big quilt!  I wasn't in any rush after the first of the year as the house was in chaos with the floor refinishing. When order had been reinstated around here it was finally time. The borders went on and the only place large enough to get a photo of the whole top was on the floor of our bedroom. This top was an eight year old block-of-the -month that I designed this setting for, with the help of EQ7, back in 2011. How to quilt her? I decided to use a new pantograph that I had purchased: "Improved Clamshell", it worked out really well. Originally I had thought about custom quilting her, but I knew that the time involved to complete that would be too much; after all, this one had been hanging around long enough.
 Dixie was loaded on Snowbird,  Clamshell quilting commenced. 
 I quilted day and night. I saw Clamshells in my sleep.
 Yesterday, finally, she was all quilted! She is trimmed and awaiting binding now. 
I plan to make coordinating pillow shams soon, but for now I just love how she looks on the bed!

Yep, Clamshells for days.
Life is Good!