Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009


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WiP Wednesday – Time’s a Flyin’

This first one was a rather quick finish.  My mom’s been working on blocks and quilts that will one day be sent for those who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  It’s been quite the project for her, although seeing as she’s having a blast I don’t know that you can necessarily call it work.  She had someone who wasn’t able to complete two blocks and asked if I would be interested in making the blocks.  I’ve already helped with a few that needed some tweaking so I was definitely in!

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It all began with dumping out my scrap jar.  Seriously, though?  I think that might have been the most fun!  It was a little bit like taking a journey back in time through all of my quilting projects this year.

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I also got to break out the Best Press.  I would have preferred the unscented version, but my local fabric shop only carries scented ones.  Why does everything have to be scented?

I’m happy to report that it’s not as bad as some of the other scents they sell.  It’s a bit like the soap in my grandmother’s bathroom, but if I had my choice, I definitely would have gone unscented.  For the record, it’s the only thing that’s ever gotten those pesky creases out of the fat quarters from JoAnns.  No amount of steam or water was ever able to remove them completely.  Best Press did it the first time.   I can see where this is going to be very helpful!

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Chronologically speaking, this one’s next and it’s also no longer in progress.  I’m actually a bit surprised by how quickly the carpet went in from the moment we brought it home until when we got the chance to do the actual installing.  Menards was having a sale on their backing attached carpet.  I don’t know for sure what they call it, but we installed a great many floors worth of the carpet at our first house.  It doesn’t require tack strips or stretching.  Technically there’s a tape you’re supposed to use with it and while The Husband is still talking about getting some for the edges, at the moment he thinks there’s plenty of heavy furniture to anchor it down.

The cats have regarded the new carpet with immense suspicion.  One of them still won’t walk normally over it which seems kind of funny seeing as there is carpet in the family room.  The dog could care less, but the kids?  Oh, my, it’s like a magnet.  Groceries wanted to play with his cars “on the new carpet” last night before I redirected him to get ready for bed.  The girls spent much of the morning yesterday using it for their new stage.  Sans socks, of course, because…carpet, duh!
IMG_0373I’m just about finished attaching the binding on the snowman quilt.  Notice the binder clips?  That’s all I have left.

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I got two rows of the fleece throw sewn together, but if the pins and piles are any indication, I still have a long way to go. This is one of those projects where, if I had known what I was doing, I never would have started. :0)
IMG_0376I also started the quilting on Sunbonnet Sue.  So far I’m liking what I see, although I am thinking about taking some of the quilting out over on Sue’s side.  Yeah, there are ten days until Solstice…there’s no way this is going to be finished before the holidays.

But mostly?
IMG_0388 I’m dreaming up what to do with this little bundle of fabric.  It’s calling my name.  Clearly something must be done.

Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Freshly Pieced and see what the others were up to this week!


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WiP Wednesday – One of those weeks

IMG_0200Have you ever had one of those weeks?  You know the one where nothing goes right?

And time flies by.

And everything takes five times longer than you think it will.

Because what you think is going to work doesn’t.

Or something.

That’s my week and it’s the sort of week that makes me want to pack everything up in a box and send it off to someone else.

The husband would chime in here to tell me that I don’t have to be such a perfectionist about everything, but the last time he was going to say that, he stopped in mid-sentence and said, “Never mind.”  He’s a wise man, that man.

I’m trying not to let the pursuit of the perfect spoil the good and press on in spite of it all.  I’ve taken to keeping track of quilting projects in a graph paper spiral notebook.  I originally purchased this for Groceries to use, but then he went off to public school and didn’t need it.  Hmmm…what to use it for?  Graph paper and scotch tape are my two can’t do without sewing supplies.

This particular page is for a project I gave you all a sneak peek of a few days ago.  The illustrious  Sunbonnet Sue in a paper pieced version from Jennifer Ofenstein at Sewhooked.

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She actually started out as a bit of a joke.  It’s supposed to be a holiday wall hanging for my dad’s office because he’s given my mom a hard time about Sunbonnet Sue after she sat through an entire quilt guild meeting that was one particular collector’s collection of Sunbonnet Sue tchotchkes.  Only a small fraction of them were quilting related and it was….a bit much.  Sadly, I don’t think he quite knows what to make of it.  He’s getting it anyway, so there.

I have to say, of all the Sunbonnet Sues I’ve seen out there, Ofenstein’s version manages to be both modern and cute.

IMG_0204My other project was meant to be a birthday present for my grandmother.  In the end, I bit off more than I could chew.  There are so many deficiencies with this one that it really is beyond hope.  I’m finishing it out of an obligation to the poor snowmen who stand there so patiently with their vintage button eyes and noses looking at me.  I’ve got the binding halfway finished.  I’ve committed to finishing the binding before putting this wall hanging away in a drawer never to be seen from again.  They’ll find some great company in there with a spring themed table runner that met the same fate.

In non-sewing related spheres I’ve been working on not letting the puppy destroy things which I failed at when he moved his ex-pen over so that he was on top of a book the girls had left on the floor.  I can assure you that Remus had a grand time ripping the book to shreds.  Me?  Hmmm…not so thrilled.  It’s a good thing I love the husband so much because this puppy thing has turned out to be a great deal more work for me.  Yes, yes, I should have predicted that in the first place.  Or maybe said something like, “Dear?  When exactly would you have time for a puppy?”

I’ve also decided what the people on my list are getting for the holidays – and came in under budget!  I’m not done, though, I still need to figure out what the kids are getting and pick out a few birthday presents.  Today’s main task is finalizing my yuletide cookie list and making the corresponding grocery list to go with it.  I might even squeeze in a trip to Menards to look at carpet remnants for my basement space.  Maybe that way the cat won’t end up with quite so many paint chips in her fur.  I would like to invite the former homeowners over and ask them what they were thinking when they painted the floor tiles on the basement floor.  My daily vacuuming does not seem to be keeping up.

Whew!  That’s a lot!  What about you?  Has your week been more successful?

Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Freshly Pieced and see what the others were up to this week!


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Hmmm…maybe too much?

I’m half way through piecing some blocks for a snowman wall hanging for my grandma’s birthday present which will require two more snowmen and some borders.  After that it’s backing, quilting, and binding.  I was hoping to do that and finish another paper pieced piece by tomorrow night.

I’m beginning to think that might be too much to get done.


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Sneak Peek

IMG_0193_previewI’ve been busy working on something paper pieced, but I can’t share it all with you just yet because it’s a secret.  I’m not even going to show you the pattern that I used (and where you can get it) because it would spoil the surprise.  That’s kind of a bummer, right?

Still, I thought you might like a little sneak peek because I’m super excited about the way it’s turning out.  I’m using fabrics (and scraps) that I already have on hand.  Who knew leftovers would look this good?

After I have already unveiled the project where it’s meant to be shared I promised I’ll share it with you in all of it’s lovely-ness.

Until then…isn’t it pretty?


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WiP Wednesday – After Thanksgiving Edition

This week will be a short one because I feel kind of…flaky.

The fleece nine-patch is still  on the design wall and still a work in progress, there’s a winter wall hanging that I need to put hanging corners on, and I have my quilts set aside for the modern quilt guild meeting tonight.

Oh, and I also started a mini tree skirt because our tiny tree needs one.  I’m working loosely off a tutorial posted on The Magic Bean.  The main fabric is called Merry Main Street from Alexander Henry Fabrics.  The solids are a mix of things from JoAnn.  I think there’s a Kona in there, but there are also two sparkly solids.

I was trying not to be too matchy, matchy, plan-y, plan-y when I was putting this together which means I went without the design wall because mine was already full.  It wasn’t until I got it most of the way put together that I realized my oops.  Oops!  At this point, I don’t care.  I’m still a little short in the front to back width so I need another two rows of nine patch – one for each end.  I’ve got my fingers crossed for an end of the week finish.

My other project for the week is a birthday gift for my Mom.  Don’t worry, she already knows what she’s getting.  The Boo is incredibly excited that her Nana is going to have a hat just like hers.  She has reminded me of this fact several times a day…just in case I forgot.  The bigger (and slightly more exciting news, at least from my perspective), is that I no longer have to chase balls of yarn around a purple plastic bag.  Dearest Pirouette, why didn’t I buy you sooner?

I may have become a flake this week, but I doubt the others have.  Why not stop by Freshly Pieced and see what the others were up to?


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WiP Wednesday – Batik Squares

Last week, as the kids and I were discussing the plans for the husband’s day off, I was told that I wasn’t going to be home.  This was news to me.  When I asked them about it, they informed me that I would be at my mom‘s house.  It was even news to my mom, but she was game for the idea.  When would I be over?  When Friday came around Lou, the one who’s grand idea it was, broke down into tears because I was going to be leaving and spent much of the day complaining to the husband that I would never be home.

Reader, it was a wonderful day.  We went shopping at a local quilting shop that is going out of business, had lunch, and I finished up my batik squares quilt.  This one has been in the works for several months now, not because it was difficult, but because for much of the summer I just wasn’t feeling it.  Last week I got as far as putting the white borders on, but then had to take a few days to ponder where to go with final quilt construction.

There was a point at which, when looking at the blocks up on the design wall, that it was infinitely clear to me that there was only one way to move forward – blocks stitched together in the middle with a black border all the way around.  Mitered corners on the black, obviously, and a simple black binding instead of facing the quit to preserve the squared yet wonky feeling of the piece.

Duh.

I found the miter on the border far easier than the one on the quilt facing.  By the way, I have a link to both the mitered corner border and quilt facing tutorials that I used over on my Pinterest board conveniently named “Quilt Tutorials” if you’re interested.  Totally off-topic (unless you count holiday gifts as a “work in progress”), but Pinterest made sharing holiday gift lists across the miles with family members super simple.  Revolutionized, you might say.

Ahem.

I’m loving the high contrast between the black and the white as it relates to the colors of the batiks.  I am not loving the way the black fabric picks up stray hairs from the batting, my cat, the dog, and whatever other schmutz seems to be in the air.


My biggest quilting lesson over the last few months was that not everyone’s points match up every time, but most importantly, sometimes it really doesn’t matter except in a geeky sort of technique way.  This particular instance was the result of the way I squared up my blocks.

Or maybe because I can’t sew a straight line.

Or cut one for that matter.

For the quilting, I elected not to quilt the batik squares because I was afraid it would detract from the squares as a whole.  The largest space between the quilting is around 6-inches which is well within the 10-inch maximum on the batting bag.

For the white borders I went with closely spaced, slightly wonky lines in a back and forth pattern.  I also managed this in one pass without any starts and stops which meant I had fewer knots to bury.  I really can’t imagine quilting it any other way.  The quilting really flattened out the borders and makes the batik squares pop off the quilt.  They look almost 3-D.

The back was just as much fun as the front.  I had a really nice fat quarter with a black, grey, and white floral print that I picked up at JoAnn’s a few weeks ago that seemed to beg me to put it together with this quilt.  Kismet?  It was the right height, but a few inches short across.  What to do?  Ah, yes, sew in some batiks, of course.  These were left from strips I used to put together the blocks on the front.

Hanging will be an experiment.  I’m using these batik corners on each side of the quilt plus a flat length of wood and picture hangers.  This quilt won’t be hanging on my walls, though, as it’s a gift for my mom.  I’m holding on to it for another week so that I can show it off at the next quilt guild meeting.  Not to worry, I picked up another fat quarter of the backing fabric.  I’m definitely going to make another one of these for my very own!

Remember that lonely nine patch square from a couple of weeks ago?  It turns out it wasn’t quite so lonely after all.

Several years ago I bought a box of fleece scraps from someone on a message board.  I don’t remember who I bought it from or what message board it was, but I do remember that it was cheap.  All I knew at the time was that it would be a random group of blues and greens in varying sizes.  I sort of remember cutting some of it up into 3″ wide strips.

When I finally got the chance to go through the box this week, I was pleased to see that I had made as much progress as I had.  Since then I have progressed a bit further than this picture shows.  I’ve already sewn the strips together into threes and then cut them up into 3″ strips and started sewing them together into their nine patch blocks.  So far I have the eight that I had already sewn up on the design wall and I have another 34 that are two-thirds of the way finished.  By the time it’s all said and done I think I’ll have upwards of fifty blocks which should make a nice sized blanket.

Who knows, maybe with the addition of this blanket to my other one I’ll actually be warm this winter!

Another week, another quilt.  I’ve been kicking butt and taking names.  Why not stop by Freshly Pieced and see what the others were up to this week.


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It’s WiP Wednesday!

When we last left the studio, I was pondering what I would do next with a lap quilt I like to call “Shattered.”  By way of reminder, it started out like this, then like this, and then looked like this.  By Halloween the rotary cutter made a huge appearance so that it looked something like this which ended up where we were last week.  So…this week…

Overall, not too shabby. The panel alone was too small to be a lap quilt so I had decided to add some solid panels in order to size it up a bit. I’m still envisioning one across the top and bottom just to carry the same flow.

Bottom and top panels respectively.  Overall, I think it’s quite nice.  I know I’ll love it more once the top and bottom panels are sewn on.  However, there’s a slight issue.

Can you see it?  JoAnn’s labeled both of these fabrics as “Coal.”  Same brand and all, the only difference is I purchased them at different times.  Of course, if I had known where I was going when I started, I would have purchased enough fabric the first time.  I can only assume that it’s an issue of dye lots because I have a third yard of the same solid grey which was also labeled “Coal” that I bought the other weekend and it’s also slightly different.  Although, at least in that case it’s more like the one on the right than the one on the left.  My other option would be to take the grey off and go a completely different route with something like black, but I really had my heart set on grey.


This one’s no longer in progress.  I was calling it “Still Life with Crows,” but maybe it should be “Bird on a Wire.”  In any case, I got this back from the quilter earlier this week.  I’m afraid my quilting repertoire is fairly limited and I really wanted it to turn out so I went the tried and true method – outsourcing.

I did the facing myself, though, which of course didn’t quite turn out as well as I would have liked.  I adjusted the mitered corners twice and thought I had followed the directions perfectly, but when I pulled them over to the back it was clear that they still weren’t quite right.  I elected to go the, just fold things over and hand stitch them down.  In spite of all that I do love the overall effect that the edge to edge quilt and rounded corners give to this particular piece.  I still feel like it’s a bit off from my vision, but I had a hard time planning the quilting.  I could see it, but I couldn’t get it out on paper and I couldn’t have explained it in words to anyone.  That’s ok, maybe in this case, maybe simple really is better.


Another long term project that got a boost from the sewing afternoon my Mom and I had last week.  I was planning on putting on a smaller black border with mitered corners, but then I got to thinking about how I was going to finish the quilt and now I’m not so sure.  If I put binding on it then how big should the borders be?


In the meantime, what’s not to love?

Just as another week has come and gone so has another WiP Wednesday.  Don’t forget to head on over to Freshly Pieced to see what else is “in progress” today.


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Work in Progress Wednesday – First week in November

Wednesday, ya hey?

I’ve got a veritable cornucopia of things in progress to share with you this week. Some old. Some new. Some really old.


This first one was really easy. Easy as in I didn’t make it. The husband’s grandmother made it for him a long time ago. She was big on the piecing, but not so much on the finishing. This is one of several tops that she made for relatives. It sat in a storage bin for as long as I’ve been married to the husband and probably a number of years before that – in one bin and then another as we rearranged things in the basement. The last bin the top made its home in was, oddly enough, the bottom of the one holding the Halloween costumes. Maybe you can see where this is going?

The husband brought it out and asked me if I thought my mom could finish it for us. Easy answer, yes, but we need a few more pieces before we can turn it over to the quilter, dear. The husband sent me in to the fabric store to do the picking and I tried to see if I could match a solid with the existing blue and while there were many blues, there weren’t any that matched. Or at least not that I could tell. I could really use a class on color theory.

Then I considered a print and I came up with a few choices, but I still wasn’t sure. It’s the husband’s quilt – what would he like? I was able to coax him in to the fabric store and suggested that he pick from one of my choices or one of his own. After discussing things with the person in my life who remains to this day my go-to fabric matching resource, we decided to go the complimentary, but not matching route. In other words, dear husband, pick out something you like and we won’t worry about matching (Extra bonus? The quilt will be reversible.).

My quilter also offered to sew together the backing fabric down the middle (we’re talking queen size here) and gave me the math to figure out how much fabric I needed for the binding. Would you believe she, knowing how much I hate hand sewing, offered to do the binding for me as well? We organized this all during our family Samhain holiday which seemed a fitting way to honor the husband’s ancestor, though she’s been gone a few years now and it’s a shame she won’t get to see it finished.

Here’s a close up of the bow tie detail. I suspect that it’s a scrap quilt given the wide variety of fabrics and colors. I don’t care for any of them individually, but I think the effect over all is quite nice. It’s got great lines and I’m looking forward to seeing it once it’s all finished. The quilter and I are conferencing on that presently. You’ll have to watch her website as I’m sure it will pop up on a future WiP post.

Darn you dreary basement lighting!

When we last left this quilt, I was thinking about leaving part of it out. Linda encouraged me to keep the bit in. The last piece felt a bit forced and over worked. It didn’t feel like it would fit. Having long since decided that I wouldn’t let a mistake slow me down, I did what any reasonable person would do: cut it apart some more. Ok, maybe that’s not what a reasonable person would do, but it’s what I would do. So I cut it and re-pieced it and gave up trying to match the upper panel. Actually, that was the hardest part. I had to mourn my inability to recreate the very improvisational top panel. The really was there was no way I would have been able to replicate it.

I’m loving where I’m heading, though. I’m going to add in some panels of Kona Coal on all four sides in order to arrive at a finished size of around 40″x 78″ – a lap quilt.

Basement again.

It’s cold outside so I’m thinking of reviving an old project. I bought a box of scrap fleece a loooong time ago. I’ll admit that it seems odd to purchase a box of scrap fleece from a stranger online and I can’t quite explain why I did. The price was right? I’m always cold? Who couldn’t use more fleece in their life? The plan is to make a nine-patch with the seam allowances on the front side (because then you can’t see where my points don’t match) and stitched together into some sort of large throw. I think it’s been three (?) years since I last did any work on this.

Still on deck – Batik Squares. We’ll just say permanently stalled for that one. I’ll get back there eventually. Did I mention the new puppy? I think it might be about the fourth of never or maybe next year.

Don’t forget to head on over to Freshly Pieced to see what else is “in progress” this Wednesday.


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Work in Progress Wednesday (Halloween Edition)

It’s Wednesday again – how is it possible that another week has gone by already? – so it’s time to bring out your projects finished, unfinished, forlorn, and forgotten into the light of day and share with random people on the internet.

Uh…what I mean is…it’s Work in Progress Wednesday!  The random part and the bringing things out part is actually a good thing.  Let’s face it not everyone has a supportive quilt guild or community in their area and your forgotten projects will thank you.  Today’s the day to remind yourself that you are actually making progress, even if it doesn’t seem like it.  Don’t believe me?  Check out all the other folks over at Freshly Pieced.

I started out the week with a bit of a sleep deficit.  Monday started at 4:45am when I gave up on trying to get to sleep and instead went to the YMCA to ride the bike all by myself.  I didn’t have to get anyone in and out of their carseat.  I didn’t have to cajole anyone into getting their coat and shoes on.  Yes, it was dark outside and I discovered that my chosen intersection was a bit more challenging to get across because the lights were flashing red on my side, but I’ve also decided that early morning just before sunrise is the one guaranteed time that you can see a rainbow.  Have you ever noticed that?  The horizon is kind of red-ish and it goes on up the rainbow over the dome of the sky until you reach the deepest indigo high above you.

On a more mundane note, I also finally made a decision on quilting for “Still Life with Crows” and sent it off to the quilter.  My little project even made it on her WIP list for the week.

Later that evening, after folding three or four baskets full of laundry, I finished the binding on the birdhouse quilt.  It had sat on the shelf for several months before I decided to just get on with the hand sewing.  I hate hand sewing…have I mentioned that?

I love the fabrics on this one and the quilting.  I call this quilting “fun with stitches on my sewing machine.”


This one’s not quilting related, but I did finish it.  It’s one of two crowns I made for the older two kids’ Halloween costumes.  I also finished re-hemming the capes I had made for them last year so that they’re ready for another year or more of use, but that’s kind of boring.  I had hoped to include a picture of the boy’s crown, but neither Miss L nor I could figure out where he put it.  *sigh*  And yes, the darf is still missing.  How do my kids lose their stuff like that?  I’m going to go with the hope that the boy’s crown has been placed in a strategically safe place so that I don’t have to make a new one.

The biggest progress this week, though, is on the grey and yellow quilt.  It started out like this and looked like this when I “finished it.”  Last week it looked like this.  Would anyone like to take bets on whether or not it looks like that this week?  Nah?


Of course not!  It was this point when I realized that I had found my quilting style.  It’s called, keep cutting until you like what you see.  The seam allowances have been pressed open and while I have tried to keep the quilter in mind when I was piecing it back together, some of the smaller pieces mean it’s going to be a bit challenging.  That one quilt guild lady would have a heart attack over this one.  The piece as a whole is nice, but it wasn’t quite right.


More cutting and sewing, back up on the design wall (the back side of a tablecloth hung up on the wall), and we’re getting closer!  Monday night I was contemplating working in the yellow on the left, but now I’m thinking that I’ll take just the top half and surround it with large rectangles of Kona Coal.  It’ll be kind of in the middle, but maybe off center slightly?  I was thinking lap quilt, but I really like it so now I’m wondering how I’d scale it up to fit my king size bed.  The bottom square, while lovely, doesn’t really fit so I’ve decided that it’s going to be a pillow instead.  Unless I change my mind and I must say, I’m prone to changing my mind.  Often.

My other “work in progress list” has nothing to do with quilting and everything to do with Halloween and Samhain:

  • Make Pumpkin Cupcakes – baked, need frosting
  • Make cornbread for Opry Land Chicken (instead of stuffing chicken breasts per the recipe, I’m going to roast a chicken and make the stuffing for a side)
  • Make salad for Halloween Pizza Dinner
  • Gather together ancestor pictures for the harvest table
  • Straighten up the kitchen/living room
  • Bake Pan de Muerto – I really want to make this recipe, but I have yet to find orange-blossom extract.  If I could find it locally, already made I’d be a happy camper this year.  This one’s looking doubtful, but I’m keeping it on there anyway.
  • Find out how to get a house elf – do you think he or she will do the dishes and finish the laundry for me?  Yes, yes, I know. Not real.

Did you notice the shift in focus?  At this point I think any sewing or quilting is going to be on the back burner for another week (or so) – especially if I’m going to finish “Lord of the Mountains” as quickly as I finished the others.  I really shouldn’t be too hasty though, this last book is only 300 pages give or take 20 and the next one won’t be out until next year.

This last one isn’t really a work in progress anymore.  Today’s the last day of October which means it’s also the last day of NaBloWriMo.  I’m proud to announce that not only did I stick with it, but I also made it all the way to the end with at least one post a day and I never ran out of things to blog about even if it was just a picture from our day.

So, now the bigger question is NaNo yes or NaNo no?  50,000 words in 30 days is an entirely different animal than 31 blog posts.  Can I blog, write novel, quilt, and get ready for Yule all at the same time?