Spring Arrived in Portland Today

What an amazingly gorgeous day! It seems like all of a sudden it’s spring. My forsythia is getting ready to bloom.

So are my flowering pear trees…

I had a needed sleep in this morning, and after breakfast and a shower we headed out for a walk. I was going to do four miles, but it was so perfect out that we went ahead and did five miles. About half way though the walk I started thinking about sitting on the patio in the sun drinking a nice cold beer. So when we got home, that’s exactly what I did!

I wasn’t terribly productive today. In fact, it’s really hard to pinpoint where all the hours went today.

I did dig in and do some cleaning in my sewing room. I’ve bought so much fabric recently and have stacked it on my sewing table because I don’t really know where to put it. it’s starting to get in the way when I’m sewing.

So I cleaned out a couple drawers, organized some fabric by type, and was able to free up a couple of plastic bins and one entire drawer in the dresser in that room.

I was able to get my previous stash and recent purchases of white with black fabrics into one plastic bin. This is a short term solution. I have more of these coming from three different online stores… almost 40 more half yards coming.

I think I’m going to need to clean out the closet in that room and get some shelves in there to organize it all.

I also organized the quilt tops I’ve finished since the pandemic hit. I took the ones that I don’t have any specific plans for and put them in a box and stowed that in the guest room closet. I have a stack of several quilts that I plan on giving as gifts for the holidays later this year. I need to get them quilted this summer so they’ll be ready to ship in the fall.

I did spend a little time sewing this evening. I made one more of my new Ruffled Feathers blocks because I wanted to see how multiple blocks looked.

I’m really liking how the purple in this has something to say! I might have to call this my purple quilt!

I did us my hole punch to punch out the corners on my paper templates and it worked really well. I’ve ordered some new punches because the one I have it really almost impossible to get in the right location. But I really like how this made it so much easier to remove the paper template.

I’m really loving these fabrics, and I’m really happy that I decided to do this with the solid backgrounds. Can’t wait to see this as more blocks are done.

Before I left my sewing room for the evening, I started sewing the strip sets for the next 8 Ice Storm quilt blocks. I’ll finish up these strip sets tomorrow night.

I’m hoping to take Tuesday and most of the day Wednesday off. I need a bit of a break and the weather is so nice. I’m hoping to get to the coast on Tuesday. The dogs and I need some time on the beach! It starts raining again later this week.

Saturday Out and About and the First Ruffled Feathers Block

I met a friend of mine down near Mollala, OR, today to work our dogs on another friend’s sheep. It was a dry day, but cloudy most of the time. We did see the sun peek through the trees at one point in time.

After doing some training on sheep and having some soup I made for lunch we took the dogs for a hike on the BLM land next to my friend’s property.

It’s so nice to have dogs that get along! These good dogs ran and ran up and down the trail and were absolutely wonderful with each other the entire time.

On the way down to Mollala I drove past a lot of downed trees. That area got hit pretty hard with the recent ice storms. A different friend of mine who lives out there just got power back at her house on Thursday. That means she was without power for almost two weeks!

But where we hiked today only had a few limbs down, and mostly boughs on the trail. But man… it was so pretty when the sun came out!

I didn’t get home until about 5:00. So I took the dogs out for another walk and then just sort of hung out the rest of the evening until after 10 pm.

Then I decided to get into my sewing room and make the first block for my second Ruffled Feathers quilt because I was anxious to see how the fabrics all worked together and how the solid background fabric looked with the geese. I’m pretty happy with how this looks!

It’s much less chaotic than my first Ruffled Feathers quilt. I think the solid white background calms it all down. Plus, you can see all that work in making the geese.

And speaking of geese… I really dislike making flying geese. So when I decided to make this quilt the first time I made my own paper piecing template for the geese. And it worked really well.

I saw a post somewhere recently where a quilter used a paper punch to punch out the corners of her paper piecing template to make the paper easier to remove. I found my paper punch and gave it a try, but I have a punch that doesn’t allow you to actually SEE where you’re punching the hole. So I ordered an old fashioned punch and will try this once that arrives.

Before I started sewing tonight I took some time and basically shuffled all of my fabric pieces so when I sit down to sew I can just grab fabrics off the top of the stack and put them together.

You can purchase the Ruffled Feathers pattern here.

So Many Ideas Coming at Me

Since I started my Ice Storm quilt I’ve been fascinated with the idea of low value quilts. I have so many ideas of how to combine low value fabrics with bright fabrics — batiks and KFC fabrics! My mind is kind of racing!

I’ve been buying a good number of black and white fabrics in the last week or so. The first two relatively small packages arrived yesterday.

Isn’t that a fun bunch of fabrics!!! I really couldn’t tell you how many more pieces I have coming. I do know that it’s coming from three different stores. I’m guessing there must be in the neighborhood of 30 more half yard cuts on their way to me. It will be really fun to see them all in one stack!

I’m thinking my first quilt using all these new fabrics will be another trip quilt. I have several ideas rattling around my brain. I’m going to give it some thought and maybe do some drawings or coloring sheets to see if I can decide what direction to go. I do know that I want to do something bright but with a more limited color palette.

I pulled a packet of 20 batiks that I had put aside for a quilt and arranged them with some of these black and whites. It’s a pretty fun look! Not sure how I’ll combine these, but I really like the effect!

So in the mean time, I’ve been wanting to start something new as I finish up my Ice Storm blocks. So tonight I pulled out the fabrics I’ve set aside for another Ruffled Feathers Quilt. You can see my first one here.

These Kaffe Fassette Collective fabrics will be combined with a bright off white Kona cotton that will be the background on the geese sections.

I will use the paper piecing template I made to sew my flying geese units.

Before I started cutting fabric I calculated how many of each piece I needed from each cut of fabric. And I kept track of what I had cut out of each fabric.

When I’m done cutting I should have pretty close the the exact number of pieces I need for this quilt top, with a few extra for safety.

I got half of the KFC fabrics cut tonight before I got tired and worried that I would mess it up.

I cut the background pieces last night.

That’s a big old stack of off white triangles! I need 320 of them for this quilt.

Ice Storm is Coming Along – 26 Blocks Done

Over the last two evenings I’ve made four strip sets and completed eight blocks for this Ice Storm quilt. That means I’m up to 26 blocks done, with only 16 more to make.

From here on out I’ll just stack these blocks up as my other design walls are full. This one won’t go onto the bigger design wall until I assemble all the KFC trip blocks. That will be how I discipline myself to finish that top.

I like this quilt more and more as more pastel batiks make their way into blocks and as I see more variety in the black and white fabrics. And it looks completely different when you step back and look at it. Definitely a departure for me, but I’m really enjoying this quilt.

I sat down at the machine and chain pieced these 8 blocks tonight. It goes so much faster when you don’t have to stop and deal with thread after each section. It really didn’t take much time at all to get these done.

That’s all the pieces pinned and ready to chain piece. Once I get all these pairs of strips sewn, I finger press the three sets for each block and assemble one block, then another, then another, until I have them all done and then I press them all.

I’ve been trying to decide what quilt top I’m going to work on next. I have it narrowed down to two. The first is the second Ruffled Feathers Quilt. You can see the first one I made here. I have some Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics and a Kona off white cotton set aside for this quilt. I’m just waiting for a couple of pieces of fabric to arrive and then I’ll be ready to do some math and start cutting. I’m hoping this one will be a little less chaotic than the first one.

The other quilt I’m thinking about making sort of came to me in a flash. It will involve some of these fabrics and might involve an big economy block — I’m thinking to have them finish at 10 inches in order to let that border collie fabric do its thing. I’ve been wanting to make economy blocks and this might be a fun combo to use for that.

That gorgeous colorful fabric behind the spots is from Philip Jacob’s Snow Leopard collection. There’s the red colorway you can see, and a blue colorway that has bigger blooms on it. Really gorgeous fabric.

The border collie fabric has been around for years and I’ve bought yardage of it several times. I’ve made a lot of zipper pouch sets using that fabric, as well as some tote bags. Here are some of the many pouch sets I’ve made combining it with bright batiks. I love the way the graphic black and white plays with that saturated color.

A friend of mine gave me a heads up recently that a quilt shop on the Oregon Coast had it in their store. So I gave them a call to have them ship me some. I’ve never used it in a quilt, but I think it will be fun.

I’ve gone a little crazy buying some fabrics for my stash the last couple of weeks. I think I’ve ordered from three online stores… maybe four. It’s really bad when you can’t even remember the stores you ordered from. Well, it will be a nice surprise when the packages arrive. The first one should arrive tomorrow. Then who knows!

KFC Scrappy Trip Blocks are Done

I dug in last night and tonight and finished up the last ten blocks for my scrappy KFC trip quilt.

I got all the blocks up on the design wall. I’m going to tweak a little tomorrow and then probably start putting it all together. When it’s all sewn, I’ll try to get some better photos. This just doesn’t snow the richness and brightness of these fabrics.

The close up photos show it so much better.

I love finding tricks and systems that make blocks go together quicker and better. When I first started making these blocks it took me a little bit of time to select the next seam of each strip to unpick. There were a few blocks where I unpicked the wrong seam and got all messed up.

The first strip has the color you want as the main diagonal focus in the upper left corner. For the next strip, you unpick the seam between the two bottom fabrics, indicated here by the seam ripper.

So on the second strip, I would unpick the seam between the turquoise and blue as shown above.

And for the next strip, I would unpick the seam between the green and turquoise at the bottom of the second strip, shown below.

Once I took the time to make this mental marker for myself, I didn’t make any more mistakes.

I also have a pointer on ripping out the seam. A lot of people know this trick, but I’m sharing it here just in case you don’t.

When ripping out the seam, get a nice sharp seam ripper and slip the point under every third or fourth stitch and cut the stitch. Once you’ve gone down the entire row, the seam will tear apart really easily.

This goes a lot easier and your fabric stays nicer if your seam ripper is nice and sharp.

After being stuck in the house all stressed out last weekend with the ice storms, I have been really itching to get out and have an outing. Rico’s sheep herding lesson was canceled today because the sheep farm got a lot of snow and it’s really muddy there.

So I met some friends for a nice 6.5 mile hike. The first mile featured some really wet slushy snow on the trail that made it difficult to walk. We thought we’d just get up the hill and let the dogs run, but once we got a little further along the trail cleared up so we kept going.

I’m really glad we kept going! I really needed some exercise and the dogs got a lot of running in. It was a good day.

When we got back to the car my feet were pretty wet and I was cold. On the 40 minute drive home I cranked up the heater and turned on the seat warmer. It helped take the chill off, but I didn’t really warm up until I got home and had a hot cup of coffee.

My friend brought along her older pug because he was not wanting to be left at home. She carried him in a back pack the entire hike. He looked pretty pleased to have been brought along.

And then there’s Bender. He’s such an excellent poser. He just sat there looking handsome and letting me take photo after photo!

Ice Storm During the Ice Storm

Someone commented on my blog yesterday and suggested that my new quilt had the feel of the ice storm we had this weekend. Someone else commented that I should name this quilt Ice Storm. So that’s what I’ve done.

Here’s 18 Ice Storm quilt blocks after I made nine more today. I completed the duplicate blocks of the ones that I had shared yesterday.

There are still a good number of fabrics that haven’t yet appeared in these blocks. There will be 21 different colored batiks, in addition to all the grays and 21 different white with black prints. So it should start to look more random as I get more blocks made.

You can see more of the colors and patterns in this close up.

I’m really liking this quilt. I was thinking maybe the white with black fabrics wouldn’t make sense with all the batiks, but I really like how it all plays together.

My plan is to put this aside for a few days and finish up the final ten blocks for my KFC trip quilt. My goal for tomorrow night is to get the last five strip sets made. That’s doable for a week night.

We slept in this morning and when we got up there was some blue sky and sunshine! It was so wonderful to see it after the storm this weekend.

I did a little house keeping after breakfast and it feels good to have the house in a little better order.

Then after a little sewing, I took the boys out for a little longer walk around the neighborhood. The snow and ice is really melting, but it was not easy walking. I was a little worn out after three miles in the slush and ice in my muck boots.

The low temperature tonight is supposed to be about 40 degrees, so the melting will continue overnight.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I bought some gray batiks a couple years ago thinking I wanted to use them to make a kaleidoscope quilt. I lost interest in making that pattern, but started thinking recently about making something with those grays.

So I thought about combining them with some low value colored batiks along with a variety of black and white prints.

Here’s the first few blocks.

It’s definitely a departure from what I usually make. I was laughing as I was sewing this evening because it seemed so quiet as I was sewing! Maybe all those bright fabrics have been screaming at me! There are some bolder black and white prints that will show up soon in these blocks. It will be interesting to see how they look.

If I had this quilt in mind when I was buying the gray batiks I probably would have purchased some different fabrics. The darker grays might be a little too dark, but overall I like where this is going.

I went through my stash of batiks to pull out my lighter colored pieces and I only had about a half dozen that were what I wanted for this quilt. So I went online and bought a bunch… sight unseen. I don’t usually buy batiks online because you never know how accurate the photos are. It’s risky, but I was pretty happy with what was delivered.

I sewed three blocks today and made an additional four strip sets.

I still have ten more blocks to make for my scrappy KFC trip quilt. I hope to make some progress on that tomorrow.

Today was the third day of a nasty winter storm here in Portland and surrounding areas. It started with snow and rain on Friday and turned into a terrible ice storm Friday night and all day Saturday. Today was a little better, but it’s still dangerous out there. There are trees down all over the area and hundreds of thousands of people are without power. I’ve been so lucky that I’m still warm and toasty.

Friday night was the worst part of the storm. On top of all the ice, we had gusty winds. At about 2 am a limb broke off one of my neighbor’s Douglas Fir trees with a bang and came crashing down through all the lower limbs as I laid in bed waiting to hear it crash into my roof… right over my head. Instead I heard it brush the side of my house as it came down. I went out to take a look and it was leaning on my neighbor’s roof. I’m pretty sure my life passed before my eyes! It scared the hell out of me and the dogs!

We had more freezing rain early this evening. But the temperature has finally gone up a little tonight and I can hear the ice melting and dropping from the trees near my house. It’s a wonderful sound!

Here’s my humming bird feeder from earlier this evening.

Here’s the feeder on Saturday afternoon.

The neighborhood was absolutely deserted yesterday morning so I got bundled up and took the dogs out. I had planned to just let them run leash free on the street in front of my house, but it was so nice outside and it felt so good to be moving around, we turned it into a 2.5 mile walk. They had so much fun!

They drug each other around by the leash for at least half of the walk. They were exhausted when we got home and had a nice snooze.

Look at this happy face…

I took the boys out for another walk this afternoon and it was a pretty exhausting walk. The snow on the roads is more icy in spots, loose in other spots, and just a mess. We did walk about 2.5 miles and worked hard the entire walk.

I did take some photos of ice around the neighborhood today. Amazing that something so pretty can be do dangerous and cause so much damage.

I have to say, I am not a fan of ice storms! I’ll be really glad when this one is behind us.

A Snowy, Blustery Night — Sewing Through a Guild Meeting

The Portland area is having it’s first winter storm of this season. Snow is not terribly common here, but we do usually get a couple of small snow storms each winter. So far there isn’t much snow, but there is a thin layer of ice on the roads and sidewalks. It doesn’t take much to make it really treacherous.

This photo was taken at 9:45 pm. Those big trees across the street are waving back and forth with the wind gusts.

I joined the Portland Modern Quilt Guild a couple of months ago and tonight was the monthly meeting via Zoom. So I got my laptop set up in my sewing room and took the opportunity to assemble 8 trip blocks while I listened.

I picked the seams on all the block sections, got the pieces all pressed and pinned, and then chain pieced them all.

Here’s the 8 blocks I made tonight, all pressed and ready to go on the design wall.

With these blocks made tonight I only have ten more blocks to make and then I can start arranging them on the design wall. I don’t think that step will take too long.

It was cold and blustery all day today, but we were able to get outside for our afternoon two-mile walk.

Both of these boys have been having some loose poops the last few days. I was able to get a vet appointment for them tomorrow because of a cancelation. Otherwise, I would have had to wait a month. So I’m going to have them do annual exams and some vaccinations that are due while they’re in.

I’ve had several friends with dogs who were under the weather. Could be something going around. The seem to feel fine.

Answering Questions About My Scrappy Trip Quilt

I’ve had several people ask me how I’m arranging my colors in my strip sets for my scrappy trip quilt. A couple others have asked for clarification on how I use the metal ruler in pressing my strip sets.

I made a quick video to show you how I use the ruler. But first, here’s a few tips on how I make my strip sets. After I sew two strips together, I finger press the seam allowance. Then I’ll press each set of two strips with the iron. I sew the three sets of two strips into one big set of six strips then finger press the seam allowances on the two new seams. I press the whole six strip set on the ironing board. I press the seam allowances in the direction recommended in Bonnie Hunter’s tutorial. I find that finger pressing has helped me keep my strip sets straighter and makes it easier to press the sets.

Here’s a link to my metal ruler video on Youtube.

Now, about how I’m arranging my colors for the blocks in my scrappy trip. I want red to be the predominant color in the quilt, so I’ve cut more red strips than other colors. Here’s the photo that I shared earlier of my fabric strips for this quilt.

The rows of colors in this photo are basically red, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, purple. They’re all in the same order as the colors of the rainbow: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. I remember it by remembering Roy G. Biv.

Each strip set starts with one of the darker reds, followed by a lighter red or orange. Then a yellow. The remaining three strips are a combo of green, turquoise, blue and purple. Not all of these last four colors will appear in each block.

Here are some strip sets that I sewed together and pressed tonight.

The colors in each strip set follow the order of the colors in the rainbow.

When I’m putting the blocks together I keep the darkest red as the center strips on the diagonal of the block, as in these two blocks.

This is what gives me the strong red diagonal lines across the quilt and forms the shape of the diamonds. I saw one tutorial for this quilt that said the center diagonal should be the strongest fabric in your set of six… either the darkest, lightest, or most vivid pattern.

Of course, you can arrange your colors any way you want. And I have a lot of ideas for different color arrangements I’d like to try.

And speaking of color… LOOK AT THIS!!!

I’ve been collecting gray batiks for some time thinking I’d like to make a monochromatic quilt out of them some day. And now I’m thinking it might be a trip quilt.

I’ve been looking at lighter and more neutral approaches to the trip quilts and I really like the soft comfy look of them.

But I’m thinking I might add in some light pastel colored batiks to give it a little bit of interest.

I’m going to give this some thought before diving in.

Scrappy Trip — 24 Blocks Done

After work last night I put together four strip sets for this quilt. I had to work this morning doing fundraising on the radio, then took the dogs for a nice long 5 mile walk after that. When we got home I dug in and whipped up the 8 blocks from the sets.

I took my scrappy batik 16-patch blocks off the design wall so I could move these blocks over to get the full width up. The finished quilt top will be 6 blocks wide and 7 blocks high. This is the full width. I have three more rows of blocks to make, or 18 blocks.

I’m really loving how this is turning out. I just stand in my sewing room and stare at it. This isn’t the final design. I’ll wait until I get all the blocks done to start tweaking.

Holy cow. These fabrics! So amazingly gorgeous!

So yummy.

when I was going to through my stash of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics for this scrappy trip quilt I realized that I had a pretty poor selection of purples and greens. So I went online a couple of days ago and ordered a bunch. I don’t have any specific plans for these fabrics. But aren’t they gorgeous?

The KFC fabrics are so amazing to me in the way the colors just all work together. Look at all those different tones of green… and they look fantastic together! I’ve been wanting to make a quilt with KFC greens. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for a pattern.

I saw this Brandon Mably design called Primulas when I was shopping online. I don’t remember when it came out. In the photos online the print looks much smaller. But you can see from the photo that’s not the case. I really like it!

I have a sheep herding lesson with Rico tomorrow afternoon. I plan to get more strip sets and blocks done tomorrow.