Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Elephant Quilt Exhibit


Hello! Welcome back to the Musee de la Grande Route.  You are in for a treat again today - a showcase of a specially curated selection of quilts. Today, I am featuring quilts I have made that have elephants in them. Long time readers who have already seen the quilts are rewarded with brand new photos they have never seen.

You may have seen this photo already, but it was in 2009 and it is tucked away someplace safe right now.

This one is from 2015. It is a brand new photo. I was able to use my brand "new" porch coffee table.

This one is from 2018. Another grand new, never seen before photo.

Here they are together so you can see a size comparison.

Well, that's it. Only three elephant quilts. 

In order to avoid disappointment, and avoid a revolt, I am going to break the rule that the quilts must be finished and give you a sneak peek into the works in progress room. There are plenty that also have elephants.

The Elephant Parade is still blocks waiting to be pieced together.


The Circle 365 quilt is pieced, but has lots more blocks to add before I get to 365(ish).

Both of these elephants are in the Quote Quilt which I have been showing you all this year. It's been a few months since I showed you these elephants though.

I hope you have enjoyed this quilt exhibit.  Be sure to come back for the next exhibit.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Clouds on my Sunshine

I was trimming the Half Square Triangles yet again for the Sunshine in Winter quilt. Yes, again. No, there aren't that many HSTs. It is amazing how long something takes when you really don't want to do it. I wondered why I would ever sign up for a quilt that took so many half square triangles.  I knew that I planned to cut the right size to avoid having to trim, but that wasn't enough to ignite my enthusiasm for this project. I thought about making something with these HSTs and giving up on the quilt.

Then I wondered if I was following the pattern correctly.


I studied the pictures I had for the quilt, and it looks like maybe I am making them wrong.  The block on the top left corner in the picture look like they have a light and a dark square with the HSTs in the four patch.  Mine have the same color square in each four patch.  I studied the pattern, and yes it says to make eight at a time HSTs, and yes the same color square. I have been following the directions correctly.

I studied the blogs that led me down this rabbit hole and Sally makes her blocks completely differently. That explains why I signed on to make this project.  Her method doesn't require me to make any HSTs.  Hers have a dark and a light square in each block.  The quilt is very similar. If you don't look at the first column of squares, the end result looks exactly the same. Sally mentioned a sashing strip, so maybe she made up for that missing column.

I will study that when the time comes. I have loose HSTs I can use for sashing if I need them.

I've finished the rest of the HSTs that were still under the needle, and started making the blocks her way.  This  method lends itself much better to assembly line, the fifteen minutes at a time, sewing and pressing, subcutting, marking a line and sewing again. It doesn't have the aggravating HST to make or trim.  I haven't made the final block yet, so I will reserve judgement on whether I will continue on with this quilt, or just make something with the blocks I do have. [Edited, I made the two blocks I showed above since I first posted it. I will have to sew carefully to get the sharp points, but I'm not going to worry too much if all the points aren't sharp.]

I have a lot of yellow fabric and would like to make the pattern as intended (with fewer blocks to make a wall hanging instead of a bed quilt). So far, it does look like I will be able to persevere.

2020:  Weeks 43 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

I spent my week trimming HSTs, making the rest of the HSTs that were under the needle and making a good start of my sample blocks using the new method.

15 minute days this week -- 7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 245 out of 299 days
Success rate  = 82%

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Design Wall Monday 

Oh Scrap!


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sunshine in Winter

I promised you a photo of my "new" coffee table on my porch and here it is. I love it. It is just the right size and the drop leaves work perfectly. The porch is a perfect place to sit and chat outdoors in a social distanced manner.

Last week, I told you I've been making more Half Square Triangles for the Sunshine in Winter blocks. The picture is blocks I made in previous batches. I don't have the pattern in front of me, but I think what you see here is the whole quilt, except that each block is bigger because it is made with a bunch of blocks.

I got the bright idea that if I cut the squares the right size, I wouldn't have to trim the HSTs  when they were made. I was close, but I still wound up having to trim them. Either I cut a fraction of an inch too big or I sewed them with too small a scant quarter inch. For now, I am still working on trimming this batch of blocks. I have plenty more batches to perfect my sewing. 

Because it is white, I will probably be making a wall hanging instead of the humongous (bed) size of the original pattern. I will have to figure out how to reduce the size while maintaining the look of the quilt.

2020:  Weeks 42 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

I spent my week trimming HSTs. I also bought some more white fabric to make sure I had enough for this and other quilts I have that use a white background, like the 1857 quilt and the Elephant Parade.

15 minute days this week -- 7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 238 out of 292 days
Success rate  = 82%

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15 Minutes to Stitch

Sunday, October 11, 2020



My next addition to the Quote Quilt is this Letters. Getting letters in the mail has always been fun for me, and I have had many pen pals over the years, starting at a young age when I exchanged letters with an aunt.

I tore out the motif out of the paper, and really like that torn paper look. It makes me think about the scrapbook and junk journal videos I have been watching, so I tried to replicate that shape.

It is hard to do with needle turn applique. My original placement was too close to the stones and made this look more like stone than paper, so I decided to put it here instead.  There are only a few duplicate quotes and it is a big applique so the choices were limited.

The original placement covered up a duplicate quote but you could see some of it, which I thought would be good to give people a chance to try to find the original. This one is harder since there is only one word that is complete, and it isn't even the first word, but the handwriting is distinctive so people can still find the other quote if they want.

Now it might look like a cloud or a hill or a stone, but at least people can figure it out on their own. I thought about adding paper lines but that is probably too much work.

My statue, as usual doesn't look like the drawing, because I redraw instead of figuring out how to transfer a design, but his curls do look like there is something up there that shouldn't be.

I finished the inside pages of the booklet.  I did sew around the edges since I took this photo. I knew to make the cover bigger to incorporate the spine, but I did not make it big enough.  But that is okay since the back cover will be attached to the quilt anyway, and I have a decorative edge of a sheet that I can use to cover up that space, once I figure out where on the quilt I want to put this.

2020:  Weeks 41 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

This week, I added more motifs for the quote quilt. I also made a bunch of half square triangles for the Sunshine in Winter quilt. Since using the sewing machine to stitch up the Remember booklet, I wanted to sew something, and I wanted to make something yellow to honor yellow month. Instead of starting a new quilt, I reminded myself that I have a yellow quilt in the works and I haven't made any blocks for it this year.

This pattern name for this quilt, in case you don't remember, is the Garden Mosaic. It looks like they took the free pattern away, but here is a pin and another pin that shows what it looks like. It was expected to be a long term, make a bunch of blocks every month, over and over again until there are enough parts and pieces to make the quilt. I think the one with the darker color looks better but mine is going to be different shades of yellow.

I have been ordering my groceries online for pickup, and sometimes it is hard to see how quickly "a little bit of this, a little bit of that" add up.  This week, I have been doing a lot of cooking and freezing of meals. My frozen meal supply had been depleted anyway, so it is good to be able to stock up on that.

15 minute days this week -- 7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 231 out of 285 days
Success rate  = 81%

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So Scrappy RSC 2020

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

My Cleaning Method

Since this is Blogtober, I decided to blog more often, though not every day. I am taking the lazy way out and using a post I had in my drafts. I wasn't sure you would be interested in my cleaning strategy, but I like talking about it, so I am giving it to you. It sounds like an infomercial at first, but I am not selling anything, though I have provided affiliate links to the two books I am referencing.

 I've read books about cleaning all my life, probably because I would prefer reading about it to actually doing it.  Most of the books provided motivation, even though they mostly said what I already knew, but after I had cleaned up, I fell back into old habits, and had to find another book for the next big clean.  None of them really stuck. 

There are two books that have helped me a lot. Even though they, too, pretty much say what the others said, they said it in just the right way that made the ideas click in my mind.

The first book that really helped me was Mari Kondo's Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (affiliate link).  What stuck with me about this book is that you choose everything you want to keep in your house / life. Sure, other books had talked about getting rid of clutter, but Kondo's process is about what to keep, not what to discard.

Her main suggestion, to touch all of your belongings, seemed far fetched to me at first.  She sounds like a young girl who just has a bedroom that she keeps clean anyway.  But since I've lived in this house for decades without moving, and have a lot of things I have outgrown taking up valuable shelf space, space I would rather give to things that are valuable to me now, I decided it was worth doing. I could, in effect, move out, and move back in. Even though it sounds overwhelming, I figured I could work on one category or room at a time and any progress would be better than no progress. 

 I think that the reason why this book struck a chord is that it came at just the right time, when I couldn't find space for my work-in progress projects when I was cleaning for a party.  Their home was in my living room where I work on them, but they need another place in the sewing room for the party. How can I put things where they belong when they don't have a home?

Kondo made the decision making process very easy.  Does it spark joy?  That's it, one question. My one question, instead of "does it spark joy?" is "will this serve me in my current life?" It's probably the same question, just worded differently, but it is easier for me to answer. Another way I word the question is, "if this was in the store / free table, would I bring it home?"

Having only one question has helped me tremendously because it removed all of the clutter in the mind. The thoughts about whether it might be useful someday after I fixed it and thoughts about the memory of the person who gave it to me, etc. faded away.  For example, a recent set of things I gave away are our college textbooks. They were handy reference material about topics that still interest me.  It might be worth giving them another read, but I hadn't looked at the books in more than a decade.  They were tucked away neatly on a bookshelf. They was nothing wrong with them, weren't in my way, and they looked fine where they were. If I had been looking for things to discard, I wouldn't have thought to discard them.  But since I was touching everything and looking for things to keep, I decided not to keep them, because I didn't feel the need to stop what I was doing to read them or to schedule a time to read them, and they were taking up space that could be better served for other things.

I started the process with my family room and after I was finished with that room, it felt really good to walk in there and know that every single thing in that room was things that brought me joy.  The room felt lighter and I got that feeling I had when I had just moved to the house and had gotten the room arranged the way I wanted.



The other book that really helped me is Dana K. White's Decluttering at the Speed of Life. (affiliate link). First, it got rid of my attitude. Kondo seems like someone who naturally keeps things clean. While it is good to learn from her, there is a part of me that says, "but I can find everything" and "there are advantages to not spending your whole day cleaning."  White calls herself a Slob, and I can relate. By combining both those methods, I can find a balance that works best for me.

 It fixed what I saw as a big drawback to Kondo's process.  Asking me to make a big pile of stuff sounded dangerous to me.  Going through overwhelming piles of stuff is overwhelming to me, and more likely to cause even more chaos. Just putting all my books in one pile would tire me out since there are bookshelves throughout the house.

White's process is to take each item, one at a time, make a decision about it, and take it where it belongs right away.  She asks too many questions, which is why I need to combine it with Kondo's process. You can stop anytime, because each task is short and complete. You just repeat it many times to really clean the space. It may not be as efficient as Kondo's method, but it doesn't cause that "temporary" mess that often happens when you are cleaning. It keeps the work in manageable chunks - one shelf, one drawer, one room at a time.

She also recommends doing the easy things first - throw away the obvious trash, put away the things that obviously belong in another room. I like this book because it justifies what I have already figured out works best for me.

The other recommendation White has is to start with the public areas and work your way to the back, and to start with the already-decluttered public area every time.  The de-cluttered public areas will be faster to clean, and you keep working your way to the out of the way spots. I didn't think that this would  work, because it would take too long to get to the out of the way spots, and those spots need to be cleared to make room to put away the stuff in the public area. I've decided to give this a try anyway, although I am cheating by trying to do both the public and the out of the way spaces at the same time.

2020 Update 

I noticed that I  reviewed White's book in 2018. In that post, I started with the sewing room, which wasn't a good idea.  Since then, I abandoned the idea of cleaning the sewing room first. Even though progress in that room would really help me with my quilting, I decided to do the easy things first.  I finished the entire first floor - family room, kitchen, dining room, and living room. I missed a couple of spaces - my filing cabinet and the storage in the coffee table. I did declutter them but I did not do a thorough job.

Then I moved to the upstairs and have my bedroom, bathroom, and guest room finished. This leaves the room where I store my fabric, and my daughter's room.

To follow the strategy of doing the easy things first, I am now going through the basement. I have found that it is taking me approximately one year per floor.  This may sound like extremely slow progress, especially since Kondo said to do it fast, but making decisions takes a lot of energy. I basically just fill up the container for the next service that is coming - trash, recycling, or charity. When the container is full, I have done enough.

I am glad that I took on this project.  Even though it takes a lot of time and energy, it is a joy to see space clearing up. The key is to keep everything you want, but nothing you don't want. There is no regret about giving up something because you get to keep everything you want. You can keep everything you want, but each item needs your permission to share your home.


Sunday, October 4, 2020

When This You See Remember Me


Another week, another batch of additions to the quote quilt. As usual, I underestimated how much time it will take to do something, so there are still a couple more things I want to add before I start thinking about the backing of this quilt. This covers up a duplicate quote. I like the simplicity of this picture.

While I was in this area, I went ahead and added flowers to the heart / vase. I decided to add them as a rectangle to get as many of the flowers in there as possible, even if some of them get hidden in the seam.

This quote makes me think about autograph books and I have wanted this one in the quilt from the start.  Instead of letting this be a separate quote, and adding a cemetery gate, I decided it would work well as the cover of the virtual cemetery. The flowers are colored with inktense pencils and then the embroidery is added to enhance them. This will be the cover of the booklet I am adding to the quilt. I will sew around the edge for reinforcement.

 I have printed the names and dates on the inkjet printer and verified that I put them together in the right order, but I haven't sewn the pages yet. There are about a dozen names and each person gets his/her own page. I am going to use the stabilizer between the fabric to avoid shadowing while keeping the booklet as thin as possible.

I made both of these embroideries with a stabilizer underneath. The Remember Me also has a fusible to make sure there is no shifting.

With the RBG addition I showed you last week, and this booklet, the quilt has taken on a sad quality. When I am done with the booklet, I will add more neutral / happy things so this isn't the last addition to on the quilt.


Approximately a year ago, I bought my daughter a plant, and while I was at it, I got myself two also.  I have a tendency to kill them, but they usually last at least a week longer than cut flowers.  A few weeks ago, this plant became sickly.   I have a tendency to over-water AND under-water, so when there is a problem, I am not sure which way I should adjust. Eventually, I decided that this plant had died. To avoid questions from anyone, mostly myself, "why did you kill the plant?," I put it in the garage. After I put it in the garage, I thought to myself that I should have thrown the plant in the trash, and put the dirt underneath the tree, but I didn't do it.

Yesterday, I went to the library and on my way back, I noticed the plant. Do you see it? It has a live leaf! A big one!

The color is a little bit faded, but it is very much alive. I had to enhance the color so you could see it better since it is backlit by the window so the leaf in the picture is brighter than the real thing.

2020:  Weeks 40 of 15 Minutes to Stitch

This week, I finished painting the porch and the coffee table. Once I get the table on the porch, I will show you the picture.  I am also still cleaning the basement.

I am reading Sixteen Ways to Defend A Walled City by K. J. Parker and really enjoying it. It is a fantasy series and I already have the next book and people are probably waiting in line to read it.

15 minute days this week -- 7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 224 out of 278 days
Success rate  = 81%

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Yay for Yellow!