Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quilt of Valor - Faith Circle

Twice a year I have the opportunity to select the quilt design and recipient for one of our Faith Circle quilts. Last fall I knew my turn was coming up, and I knew who I wanted to make a quilt for - a special soldier who fought for our country in Iraq. I have such respect for the Quilts of Valor Foundation as they strive to wrap in love members of our armed forces who have been touched by war.

Quilt of Valor - October 2016 quilt
Quilt of Valor

Quilts can often have a more feminine look to them, so I did quite a bit of looking to find a pattern/design with a more masculine appeal. As soon as I saw this quilt designed by the talented Ara Jane Olufson I knew it was the right one. She happily granted us permission to use her design for our quilt.

Quilt of Valor - October 2016 Faith Circle Quilt
A bit of breeze to add movement

The Faith Circle ladies were so wonderful to make extra blocks and send fabric squares so that our quilt would be of a nice size. It ended up at 64" x 80" before washing. Perfect size to snuggle up on the couch with!

Quilt of Valor - October 2016 Faith Circle Quilt
This picture shows off the nice texture added by the long arm quilting

The long arm quilting was graciously done by a local friend - we agreed that an all over star pattern was the best choice.  The Quilts of Valor Foundation has guidelines they request you follow for all quilts, and included in that is the label. I usually struggle with what to put on a label, so I found their guidelines to be very helpful.

Faith Circle Quilt Label
I used a Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric pen to make the label

This was a very satisfying quilt to work on and finish. I hope it will be a blessing to it's intended owner.

The Faith Circle is a virtual quilt group operating under the guidelines of do. Good Stitches. If you are interested in finding out more, or joining, you can do so here.

The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Day One: Where to go from here

Well, here we are at Day One of a brand new year. In my sewing room are several work-in-process quilts at various stages of completion, in addition to supplies for a couple of projects not yet begun. One project I'd like to bring to a close this year is my Random Sampler Quilt. I finished the quilt top several months ago, but never shared a picture of it.

Random Sampler - completed quilt top
Random Sampler quilt top

This top was such an enjoyable journey. It began as a quilt-along and ended up including several quilt blocks I've designed. To round it out I thoroughly enjoyed searching for blocks I loved to fill in all the various spaces.

While sewing the blocks and filler strips needed for this top, I had time to mull over how to quilt it: machine quilting -vs- hand quilting. After working with perle cotton on my last two projects I decided I wanted the Random Sampler to be hand quilted using big stitches and No. 8 perle cotton. It's just hard to beat the beautiful texture created by hand quilting, and the slow pace is so relaxing. My local quilt shop has a great inventory of Presencia Finca and I had no problem matching colors with my quilt top.

No. 8 perle cotton

As soon as I purchase batting suitable for hand quilting, a good thimble, and cozy flannel for the backing I'm all set to begin, and I can't wait!

For my family 2017 is a year that will see us realize the dream of moving into our log home in the not too distant future. This will be a great quilt for snuggling on the couch with my husband while we look out over the mountains and enjoy our new home.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Inspiration - Nordic Style

Do you ever ponder where inspiration comes from? I enjoy thinking about that sometimes...looking at things I've made and reflecting on where the idea came from.

Nordic throw with a matching pillow
Nordic throw with a matching pillow

Early last fall I received a Country Curtains catalog and saw this picture of a cozy and inviting Christmas bedroom. I was dreaming of how perfect something this look would be in the guest room of our log home :o) I just knew that great Nordic throw would be the perfect companion for my All Points North quilt block.

Festive Christmas bedroom - Country Curtains catalog

I purposely kept my Christmas making to a minimum this year because of all the time being spent on preparations for our log home. However, if you're a maker then you know it just doesn't feel like Christmas if you don't have at least one handmade gift to give ;o) This pillow was a nice project to occupy myself during the evenings between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Deep saturated reds and inky black fabrics gave a nice crisp look to this Nordic-style block.

All Points North - Christmas Pillow
All Points North - Nordic style

The background fabric was a fun departure from my comfort zone - my first inclination was to play it safe and use Kona bone (a solid fabric), but I have long admired printed background fabric in the work of others. I decided to go for it and pulled from my stash the red/cream Purebred Derby Preakness paint-by-number fabric from one of my favorite designers, Erin Michael. It adds a fun layer of dimension to the pillow.

The beautiful hand work of Mary Dugan (Molly Flanders Makes blog) enticed me to quilt this with big stitches using perle 8 cotton. Hand quilting is a comfortable, slow process that allows me to sit in the living room with my husband in the evenings instead of at my sewing machine.

Envelope-style pillow back
Envelope-style back with buttonhole stitch trim

My favorite way to make a pillow back is the simple envelope style. I always plan on a generous overlap and usually use 2/3 of the pillow dimension for my fabric measurements - this ensures no pillow insert peeking out. To add just a touch of cozy to the back I added machine buttonhole stitch to sew down the binding across the back.

This was a satisfying final project for 2016 and has been gifted to a sweet friend. I think that cozy Christmas bedroom picture provided just the inspiration I needed :o)

As 2016 comes to a happy close I'm looking forward to what 2017 brings. Hopefully, a move into our log home for my family! What are you hoping for in the New Year?

~ Debbie

Monday, November 28, 2016

Baby shower goodness

How fun it is to find just the right pattern when needing to make a gift. A few years ago Julianna, of Sewing Under Rainbow, shared a paper pieced tutorial for the Not So Spring Deer. This deer, to me, looks like a young buck, and therefore perfect to honor the upcoming arrival of a certain little mister :o)

Paper pieced deer wall hanging
The "Not So Spring Deer" paper pieced pattern as a wall hanging

This little man's mama is creating a woodland setting in baby's nursery and using neutral colors with a touch of blue. The geometric print from Kate Spain's Good Fortune line seemed the perfect print for paper piecing as the densely printed pattern blurs well where the paper pieces come together. Looking through my stash I found a nice variety of medium dark gray fabrics to round out the project.

Quilting process shot
30 degree diamond quilting

I wanted the solid gray background fabric to have a dense quilting that did not extend into the borders. To accomplish this I layered the deer panel onto the batting; then used a ruler to mark 30 degree diamonds, and the edge of the walking foot to quilt the lines approx. 1/2 inch apart. Each time I came to the deer I cut the thread, knotted it, and wove it in. After the quilting was finished I stitched the borders onto the batting.

Half inch 30 degree grid quilting
30 degree diamond quilting

The dense quilting does a nice job of making the deer stand out from the background. A thin blue 1/4 " border adds a nice frame, and then some fun polka dots to enhance the young look of the buck.

Perle cotton button hole stitch
Perle cotton buttonhole stitch
Somewhere I remembered seeing buttonhole stitch used to sew down binding. I thought this would add a nice hand-stitched look as well as a texture, and I just happened to have the perfect gray perle cotton on hand! I love how it looks, but was surprised at how hard it is to do buttonhole stitch through cotton; definitely hard on the hands. I don't think I could do this on a larger quilt.

Envelope style back
Envelope style back

I found two more prints in my stash which are just the right shade of gray to finish out the mini quilt. For the back I opted to go with an envelope closure; this allows the mini to be used either as a wall hanging, or a pillow. Using fun prints makes the back just as show-worthy as the front :o) Projects like this are so much fun! I love finding just the right fabrics and considering each little detail.

Paper pieced deer as a pillow
Not So Spring Deer as a pillow

 I'm praying for the safe arrival of this sweet little boy, and blessings for his mama and daddy as they experience the joys of their first baby.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Cabin update & contest winner

I've been thinking that's it's time for a cabin update! Would you like to see how our Katahdin Cedar Log Home is coming along? Join me for a tour :o)

October 30, 2016 Progress
Loving the green shingles and window trim!

This picture was taken about a month ago. Our builders, Cabin Run Construction, are doing such a nice job! The roofing is complete and all windows are installed in this picture. The log walls are ready for the finish/protective sealer to be applied. We've decided to go with Perma-Chink in the Cedar colorway; this seems like a natural choice since our home is built with cedar logs from Maine.

Full glass door on right side of log home
Door into great room

This side door leads into the great room. I'm sure we'll use it a lot for fire wood :o) I'm so glad we decided to wrap the decking around the side of the house. The original plan was to just have a front porch and a back deck. But once we saw how the land would be graded around the house we opted to have this decking to connect the front and back. It's one of my favorite features.

Living room sliding glass door
Sliding glass door on back of house

From the living room to the back deck we opted for a sliding glass door instead of a swinging patio door. This decision was based mostly on my thinking that a sliding door takes up less floor space to operate.

Back decking
Deck off the back of the house

We kept the deck off the back of the house a cozy size. This picture shows how it covers the patio door leading into the lower level. Both panels of the patio door are functional in order to allow large items to be moved in and out with ease. We won't have a carport or garage for awhile so the lower level will need to store kayaks and garden equipment. Since the back is the shady side of the house we had a concrete pad poured under the deck to prevent a muddy mess.

October 30, 2016 Progress
Quadra-Fire Wood Fireplace

In the great room the living area is to the left and the dining space to the right. We had a wood burning insert installed in the fireplace for maximum efficiency. This unit has an internal fan and a burn time of up to 16 hours. We are going with native field stone cut to a thin veneer and hope to do a rough hewn mantle. That big pile of wood to the right is actually cedar paneling. Katahdin log homes are built using what they call the energy envelope system. The inside of the house will be lined with rigid foam insulation and then covered with the cedar paneling. So, it looks as if you are seeing the inside of the logs, but it's actually the cedar paneling. This greatly increases the R value of the walls.

Interior partition walls
Looking the other direction...

When you turn around and look the other direction you can see the other rooms of the cabin. On the upper level there is a guest bedroom to the back with a loft and 3/4 bathroom in front. On the lower level the kitchen will be to the left with the front entry hall/mudroom and master bathroom behind. To the right is the master bedroom, laundry closet, and a small office. That yellow LVL beam will be encased to make it more attractive :o)

This is pretty much where we stand right now. We'd hoped to be moving in by the end of the year, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen now. We've been busy picking out appliances, fixtures, and flooring. The decisions are both fun and a bit stressful; knowing these products are expensive, and must last a long time puts pressure to make wise choices.

Okay - now for the results of the Quiltmaker's 100 Block Volume 14 drawing! The Random Number Generator chose No. 18! The winner is Bonnie and she sent me her mailing information which I've forwarded to Quiltmakers. Congratulations Bonnie!

Thank you all for celebrating my block, Order in the Court, with me. If you end up making one I'd love it if you'd tag me! I've already submitted a design for inclusion in Volume 15 which will be published in the spring ~ wish me luck :o)

Order in the Court
Order in the Court by Debbie Martin

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 14 Blog Tour

Welcome friends! It's one of the most wonderful times of the year - Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks blog tour! Twice a year I relish sitting down with my computer and a hot cup of tea and blog hopping to read about the creative inspiration behind the blocks that appear in Quiltmaker's new issue. I bet you love to do the same thing and that's why you're here :o)

I am so thrilled to have my block, Order in the Court, included in Volume 14. Can you see how it got it's name? It should look like a cousin to the block known as Courthouse Steps.

Order in the Court
Order in the Court

Order in the Court came about as the result of a challenge I put together during Quiltmaker's Volume 12 blog hop this time last year. I asked visitors to tell me their favorite quilt block when they left a comment, and said I may use that as a jumping off point for a new design. Far and away the favorite block of most was the log cabin. I previously submitted a block, Flowers for the Cabin, to Quiltmaker's Volume 13 designed around the log cabin block; you can read more about it here if you're interested. In keeping with the challenge I tried everything I could think of for another design with a log cabin block, but just couldn't come up with anything. I was starting to think I'd have to move to something else for inspiration. Then, I got to thinking about the Courthouse Steps block, and how it's a sister to the log cabin block. Ahhh...Courthouse Steps. Now this block showed some promise.

After sketching out some ideas I started cutting fabric. I knew I wanted my block to have a fun little center, but wasn't sure just what it should be. Here are a couple variations I tried:

First attempt at a new design
My first attempt included a small friendship star in the center with contrasting fabric

Since star blocks came in a close second to log cabin I thought a simple friendship star might work for the center. I also thought I'd like to use contrasting fabric to really draw attention to the center, but this just wasn't speaking to me.

Second attempt with a shoefly center
Second option was to use a small shoefly as the center; still using high contrast colors

Next, I thought a small shoefly in the center would be cute. I do like this, but the colors were just not right so I set the block aside to ponder more options.

Order in the Court
Final version with a square in a square center - just right :o)

Home one day because of a snow storm, I pulled some pretty fabric scraps in softer colors, and sat down to play with them. The always versatile square in a square came about, and seemed to be just the right center for this Order in the Court block. Although, I bet if I changed out the fabrics any of these three options would work fine.

Order in the Court Quilt Top
Order in the Court as a quilt top

Here's a picture to give an idea what Order in the Court would look like as a quilt top. Pretty fun! Rather than looking like courthouse steps it turns out more like chunky plus signs. Don't you love how the look of a block changes when you combine them? I don't have any special software, so this picture was made in Google Drawings by just copying and pasting.

How about a giveaway?! Quiltmaker's is generously giving one of my blog readers a free issue of 100 Blocks, Volume 14For a chance to win leave me a comment telling me about your holiday sewing - do you enjoy making homemade gifts? Are you an early starter, or a last minute crafter? Any good go-to gift ideas you want to share? :o) If you suspect you may be a "no reply" blogger please make sure to include your email address in your comment. I'll draw a random winner on Saturday morning, November 19.

Well friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me tell you all about Order in the Court. I hope you soak in a lot of inspiration as you visit all the blogs on the tour. You can read about the tour and find links to the featured blogs on Quiltmaker's blog, Quilty Pleasures

I hope you've enjoyed stopping by :o) I'd love to see you back here again. If you'd like regular updates from Shadows of the Blue Ridge consider signing up for an email subscription (top right of your screen), or you can find me on Bloglovin'.