Thursday, April 30, 2020

Pandemic Productivity, part 2

#QuiltBee: tiny trees quilt
Welcome to part two of the sister act I like to call Pandemic Productivity, this time with a couple of minnie blocks from Jane. Last year she was smitten by tiny little trees that Dutch quilter Anna Jantina was posting on Instagram. She just had to make some!

#QuiltBee: tiny trees quilt
It was only going to be a table runner project when she started but went overboard on the trees and made a whole forest!

#QuiltBee: tiny trees quilt
They measure 2.5" x 5” and are soooo deliciously scrappy - just about anything goes - and it appears to be a speedy hand stitching project because she's got enough now for an adorable quilt. She still wants to add two borders and lace to the outside edges as Anna did with hers and the plan is to have it on her double bed by Christmas. 

These little guys are adorable so I followed Jane down the rabbit hole, but I only got as far as making myself a set of templates - nothing is cut yet. That's the difference between Jane and I. Anna used to have acrylic templates for sale, but they no longer seem to be available.
#QuiltBee: Jane's tiny Easter Baskets quilt
I was busy drooling over tiny trees when she sent pics of another amazing project (I swear she is not sleeping at all these days 😉). With all of the self-isolation going on these day's you'd be forgiven for feeling like a bit of a basket case, but Jane has taken that idea and turned it into cute, cute, cute!

#QuiltBee: Jane's tiny Easter Baskets quilt
It is inspired by another of Anna's quilts - adorable little 4" x 9" basket blocks. She doesn't have as many tiny florals as Anna has used in hers because she doesn't have access to her stash (much of the stitching has been done while in isolation at her sister’s home) so she relied on a few scrap fabrics that she had with her and then Linda kindly let her do some 'klepto quilting', digging through all of her scrap bins to try to use up what they had instead of cutting into larger pieces. Ah, the joys of klepto quilting.

#QuiltBee: Jane's tiny Easter Baskets quiltThe original pattern has bias handles for the baskets but she wasn't into that. When the lovely and talented Linda suggested using rick rack instead Jane was sold. She loves how it worked out. I do too - it gives it a really vintage feel, doesn't it?

She finds that Anna's quilt to have more of a summery palette while hers leans toward spring so she calls it Easter Baskets.

#QuiltBee: Jane's tiny Easter Baskets quilt
This quilt was started around the end of March and apparently she has already made about 120 blocks (!!!) so she will soon lay it out to see if she has made enough. It will probably be a throw for the sofa rather than a bed-sized quilt so I'm thinking she's pretty close to finished. Can't wait to see what's next on the agenda!....M

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Pandemic Productivity, part 1

#QuiltBee: Over & Down Under flannel quilt
I've mentioned before that Jane and Linda are quarantined together as we all ride out this pandemic, and they are taking their down time very seriously. Needles are flying and quilts are being finished at seemingly lightning speed. This is the first of two posts that provide a peek behind their creative curtain.

The first is this gift of love from Linda to one of her son-in-laws. It is a reversible quilt and I'm going to show you the back side of it first.

#QuiltBee: Over & Down Under flannel quiltIt's all hand stitched and made from the pattern and kit Over & Down Under (LUV!), and if memory serves me correctly, she's had it for a while. It is the most gorgeous collection of flannels that I have ever seen. The spectacular autumn palette makes it difficult to decide which of the many colours might be a favourite...

...simple black polka dots, hounds tooth checks or lovely weaves. And they are deliciously soft - they must have been a dream to stitch.

She started stitching just before I visited with her in early February and had wisely developed a very systematic, numbered system to keep colours and rows in the proper order.

#QuiltBee: Over & Down Under flannel quilt

I guess I should show you the other side, too. It's made from some of his faves. Linda freely admits that if it hadn't been a request she likely would never have made a quilt with tees, but he was keen to immortalize a few of his favourites and she was happy to oblige.

She added in a few sashing strips made from leftover flannel squares and then made it the same size as the backing using wide red flannel print borders. It came together beautifully and I suspect that her son-in-law thinks so, too.

Jane's been busy too, but in a teenie, tiny kind of way. Stay tuned - her pretty show and tell is next up for your viewing pleasure.....M

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Coming In From The Cold

Just as our world was beginning to social distance I picked up my baby quilts from Roberta. She had distancing protocols in place to protect both her and her clients so it was more like a drug deal than a quilt pickup in that my bag was waiting at the front door and there was no one to see or chat with.

The quilts had been in quarantine in her garage for a day or two already, just to be on the safe side, and when I got them home I decided that leaving them in our garage for a few more days was probably not a bad idea idea. So there they stayed. For a week. Then for two, because my memory had turned to mush.

#QuiltBee: Moda Love baby quilt
Eventually I remembered to bring them inside and was delighted to find that she had once again exceeded my expectations. I had had a tough time narrowing down the pantograph that I wanted because I am in such a rut with using her feathered scroll pattern, but she had pulled three or four excellent suggestions.

#QuiltBee: Moda Love baby quilt
The star and moon pattern that we landed on still has lots of scroll to it and it looks as though they are tumbling through the Milky Way. It is perfect and the quilts are adorable.

#QuiltBee: Moda Love baby quilt
They just look so incredibly cozy and my little mice seem to be enjoying the new look as well.

#QuiltBee: Moda Love baby quilt
Besides being a talented longarmer she is also a bit of a miracle worker. Neither of the pieces that I had for backings were overly large and my fingers were crossed that she would be able to make them work. Well, not only did she make them work, I had leftovers enough to bind them both. I could have kissed her!

#QuiltBee: Moda Love baby quilt
So now I enjoy the lovely task of hand sewing the bindings down and saying goodbye to these little beauties. I have it on good authority that the mother-to-be was to have had a baby shower this weekend but that's not happening, for obvious reasons, so guests will drop their gifts at the end of the drive while she waves at them from the window. Interesting times....M

Sunday, April 19, 2020

DoubleTree's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been watching with interest while the world works its way through this pandemic, baking bread like crazy. I've pinned any number of recipes but haven't taken the plunge. And then I saw that DoubleTree recently shared the recipe for their signature chocolate chip cookies. Game on!

My love affair with this cookie goes back decades when I was organizing a conference in Sacramento. For a variety of reasons it was a great conference, not the least of which was that it meant a trip to sunny California. A lasting memory of that trip was having a warm chocolate chip cookie slid across the reception desk toward me at check in. Being a Canadian, I wasn't familiar with the DoubleTree hotel chain at the time so this was a truly unexpected and pleasant surprise. I was hooked.

#QuiltBee: DoubleTree's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe
I came home with a souvenir cookie tin that I've been tempted to toss any number of times over the years but just couldn't bring myself to do it. Well, today its purpose has been realized. The Official Cookie Tester was delighted!

This cookie is fully loaded - the only change I made was to roast the nuts a bit beforehand to enhance their flavour and use a combination of semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips, because that's what I had.

Anyone who knows how I bake knows that I like lots of tiny cookies on a plate, but this recipe calls for BIG cookies - three tablespoons of batter. I made mine large but not quite that large and still ended up with 36 good-sized cookies instead of 26.

I also froze the dough for a dozen so that we can enjoy more fresh baking down the road.

#QuiltBee: DoubleTree's Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe
Maybe some day I'll turn my attention to baking bread but today it's all about cookies and milk. Thank you DoubleTree - the love affair continues.....M

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Time to Cut

I'm inching my way back to Halo but need to cut more pieces before I can continue, so digging into fabric will become the order of the day.

#QuiltBee: Halo quilt
None of my blocks are together - everything that is on the design wall are the block components - so I was tempted to just start putting a few together and then play with the layout with whatever the result was.

But I'm going to add more to the bits and pieces first and then begin assembling blocks. Those curves have a way of slowing down the process but it is a great excuse to play with lots of different fabrics.

I came across a very pretty monochromatic version of Halo the other day done all in blues but wasn't smart enough to make note of where so that I could share it with you. It made me think (like so many other patterns do) that you could just make endless varieties of the same pattern. Lovely as that sounds, I think it would also lead to a little crazy-making and a strong desire to start something different in no time.
This little fellow was at the feeder yesterday so hopefully he'll make a return visit while I cut.....M

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A Mini Easter

In no way is this a typical Easter. No Easter service, no family gathering. But that doesn't change the meaning of the day. And we're all doing our part to keep ourselves and others safe, which is just as important.

Our premier soothed the anxieties of little ones around the province this week when he announced that, despite the self-isolation protocols in place, E. Bunny was an essential service so there would be no problems with him making the rounds today. It looks like one of his happy little helpers is just down the road...

So, if what you've got in the house is a basket of mini eggs, it must mean that it's a sign to pick up Minnie and do some hand stitching, right?

May you enjoy a blessed Easter with those who are near and a little hand sewing, too....M

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

If You Are Lucky Enough to Know a Quilter...

#QuiltBee: face masks
Our mask makers continue to add to their stockpiles, and after a week of making them, this was the last pile of mine to be pressed before being packaged up.

I have a few commitments on the go these days so I wanted to be able to wrap these up sooner rather than later so that they would be ready when needed and I could move on to other things. If I need to make more down the road, I will, but as social distancing measures appear to be having a positive impact, my fervent hope is that very few of them get used at all.

#QuiltBee: face masks
This project has been extremely good at helping me use fabrics that have languished for a while (in some cases, quite a while) in the sewing room. You know, those fabrics that you keep running into but have just moved on from and really don't see yourself using much, if at all, but you can't quite find it in your heart to move them out. Now they have a purpose.

Sunday morning I thought that I was headed for making fabric ties but my niece came to the rescue when she discovered a huge cone of elastic, so I was thrilled.

#QuiltBee: face masks
I had been living off the kindness of strangers when it comes to elastic, using bits and bobs that folks were finding. One particularly nice aqua piece came to me so I tried to use fabrics that complemented it. I was happy to be able to use it but sad when it was all gone because it is so pretty.

All told, I think that I have made 97. It was tempting to try and make that an even 100 but by the time I put the stitches into the last one that feeling had passed.

#QuiltBee: face masks
The Official Cookie Tester has been eyeing my production and, while admiring the effort, still questioning their efficacy to some extent, until the other night. He came across an article in the New York Times that said, 'If you are lucky enough to know a quilter, ask them to make you a mask...Quilters tend to use high quality, high thread count cotton. The best homemade masks...were as good as surgical masts, or slightly better, testing in the range of 70-79% filtration.' Case closed. (BTW, how can you not love an article with the words, 'if you are lucky enough to know a quilter'?)
Anne is still in production mode as well. She's found a fellow in town who makes military uniforms and he is offering not only elastic, but to cut fabrics for her as well. Bingo!

And Sandy continues to sew up a storm and is learning lots. The pattern that she is using calls for ironing the ties five times. Nope. She's not keen on burning her fingers anymore and has got it down to two. Quick learner! 😉 She added an inch to the depth of the mask so that it tucks in under the chin a little more; and it makes the tucks less fussy to do too. This batch is ready for “front porch” deliveries today.

The rest that she has in progress will hit the mail or go to folks in their building. They also have a nursing home close by, so next week she will see if they want any.

And the icing on the cake? Ed told her yesterday, "You need to go shopping for fun fabric when all of this is over." Her response? "Yessireeeee!"....M

Saturday, April 04, 2020

The Gals Behind the Masks

#QuiltBee: face mask
About a week ago a request went out from Valley Manor, the nearby seniors residence where my dad spent his last days, for face masks. They were estimating that they may need 1,000 and were looking for volunteers to help sew them. Linda, who had been the administrator there for years, sprung in to action and sent out a challenge to all of her sewing friends to chip in. You could almost hear the machines warming up.

#QuiltBee: face masks
Jane and Linda are in isolation together and were the first off the mark. They pulled out some beautiful scraps and in a few days had 50 to show for their effort, which have already been delivered. They have run out of elastic except for one package which will be used to make masks for family and friends.

#QuiltBee: face masks
They had some dark elastic and used it to make several more masculine masks, which is a great idea.

#QuiltBee: face masks
Anne's been busy too, but she has chosen to use fabric ties instead of elastic. She's using up bindings that had been in mom's stash; mom would be thrilled. She's got 30 in the works and should finish the last of that batch today.

Our friend Arlene is not a sewer but was really keen to help so she's been pressing ties for Anne, which has been a huge time saver. This is the box of goodies she dropped off, which apparently has enough for about 50 more masks, so Anne's work is cut out for her.

#QuiltBee: face masks
Sandy lives in London, about 8 hours away from the Ottawa Valley, but she too was keen to chip in. Her first order of business was to make one for Ed in his cherished Bite Me fabric. It's not his much sought-after cape but I think it's got superpowers of its own.

She has whipped up a good little pile already so they had their choice of several to sport their 'gangsta' look on yesterday's walk. She's got lots more cut and is looking to give them to their building manager as he are having a tough time finding masks, or to anyone else nearby that has a need.

I came to the party late because I've been working but Wednesday evening, as a reward for FINALLY finishing our taxes, I started to cut. I'm using Jenny Doan's tutorial and a few tips that Jane developed as they worked through the process, and using two different prints for each mask; it is proving to be a great scrap buster.

Following Jenny's lead, I lined several of mine with flannelette because I thought it would be soft against the face, but as I was sewing I wondered if they would be too warm. I'll keep them in the bundle but won't make any more with flannelette.

#QuiltBee: face masks
There were a few fits and starts until I got a rhythm going, like completely sewing around the outside edge without leaving an opening to turn out, or sewing elastic into only one end before turning it out (okay, that might have happened after I poured a rye and Pepsi...), but eventually things settled in to a pattern.

With the exception of the first one, I have saved all of the pleating to do at the end and that's where I am now. I have 43 in the works and about 20 left to pleat.

Everyone is chipping in. The Official Cookie Tester wore his mask to his daily Zoom staff meeting 😊and his boss, who still drives in to the office occasionally from near the Manor, will deliver the supply from Anne, Arlene and I next week.

There is another home just up the hill from us and they are also welcoming donations so, as Sandy put it, this will be an ongoing effort. I have begged, borrowed and scrounged just about all of the elastic that I can so it will be fabric ties going forward. Not a problem, because I too have some bindings from mom's stash.

I also want to make a supply for a special PSW who is going into her clients' homes every day, for use by either her or her clients.

And, in case you are wondering just who we are doing this for, take a look at these happy, healthy, smiling faces and their Easter messages to everyone. Time to get out of the jammies and back to the sewing....M