Monday, July 21, 2014

Progress Update: Summer Handwork

I'm compelled to do handwork projects in the summer...I just do not want to be limited to staying in my sewing room. At the beginning of the summer I prepped both a sewing and a crochet project to take on a trip. I've made good progress on both. 

Two of the four Flickering Stars blocks are complete. These will become a pillow front for the couch in our family room. 

This is what the back of the blocks look like. You can see where the templates were traced to provide the stitching lines. It probably takes me between four to five hours to make each block. In that amount of time I could have the entire pillow finished using a sewing machine, but there is something so satisfying to sewing by hand. 

Here are the pieces for the last two stars. I should be able to finish them both by the end of August...hopefully :)

In addition, I always like to have a good crochet project in the works. These are the socks I started in June:

I'm combining parts from various patterns to make them. The toe and heel are single crochet and the rest of the sock is done in half-double favorite stitch! No doubt these will be ready for that first chilly Fall day :o)

So how about you? Any hand projects in the works? 

Note: Due to a necessary hardware update we are without home Internet service for a week, so this post is being done from my phone. Later I plan on going back to add hyperlinks and cleaning up any formatting issues. 

And the Winner Is...

Thank you to each of you who took the time to comment on my blog anniversary post :) As promised I used the Random Number Generator to pick a winner. 

As you can see, the winner is Number 29: Mimi's Darlins! I've contacted her to get a mailing address and will send the prize package right out!

Again, I am greatful to each of you who follow along with Shadows of the Blue Ridge :)


Monday, July 14, 2014

One Year Blog Anniversary - Cause for a Giveaway!

Shadows of the Blue Ridge is one year old!

Blog Anniversary ~ Time for a Giveaway!
I knew this day was coming...I've had a mental note about it in my head for the last month. Summertime for teachers is often a time of reflection on the previous school year. This habit of reflection is one reason I began blogging. As I'm sure many people feel, I was nervous writing and actually publishing that first post. Insecurity about writing styles and proper language mechanics whispered into my ear. I am happy to say not a single comment all year has come in referencing either of these areas :o) Apparently none of my errors have been too egregious, or people are very good at following their mother's admonition, "If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all." 

So, reflection...what has blogging caused me to reflect on? Or maybe, if I reflect on the act of blogging what has it done in my life? I believe the two of these are really tied together. Blogging has caused me to reflect on what I really think. If I didn't take the time to blog I might not seriously consider things such as:
  • Why do I make quilts and various other crafted items
  • What influences me to make the things I do
  • Whose "voices" am I listening to in the quilting/crafting world, and why
  • How do I balance crafting with the other important aspects of my life
  • How can I use blogging/crafting to honor God and bring Him glory 
This is a pretty good list to start with. I have thoughts and feelings for each of these areas. There is value in taking the time to wrestle with answers to "who, what, when, where, why, and how" questions. Sometimes the answers to these questions are included in what I've written about, or what I've specifically chosen not to write about.

Now for the celebration and giveaway! 

Blog Anniversary ~ Time for a Giveaway!

Celebrate Shadows of the Blue Ridge with me for a chance to win this pink and green fat quarter bundle, zippers, and a copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 9 which contains the pattern for my Dashing Geese block. Why pink and green? Where I live we have long been know as the "Apple Capital" and each year we celebrate like no other town with a HUGE celebration called the Apple Blossom Festival. You've never seen so much pink and green in your life! So it seems completely appropriate for me to share this pink and green-ness with one of my lucky blog followers :o) These lovely fat quarters and zippers come from my local quilt shop, The Scrappy Apple

Blog Anniversary ~ Time for a Giveaway!

There's just one thing you need to do for a chance to win: Follow my blog. That's it, just be a follower of Shadows of the Blue Ridge. If this is your first visit to Shadows of the Blue Ridge and you'd like to follow me you can choose from three different ways: (1) Bloglovin', (2) sign up for email notification, or (3) click Join the site to use Google's Friend Connect. Then, whether you've been a follower for awhile now, or are a brand new follower, just tell me in a Comment  how you follow Shadows of the Blue Ridge...simple as that :o) If you suspect you are a No Reply Blogger please include your email address in your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner. 

A winner will be chosen on Sunday, July 20th at 9:00 p.m. EST using the Random Number Generator. 

Thank you for traveling through this year with me! I look forward to sharing more of this crafting journey in the year ahead :o)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Using Scraps - July ALYoF Goal

How do you feel about fabric scraps? Do you love them, do you hate them, or are you indifferent towards them? In this day and age of a "throw away" mentality I like to look at my fabric as every scrap being precious and they challenge me to use them up :o) Now, before we go any further, let me give you my definition of a "fabric scrap." A scrap is any piece of fabric which is so small it can no longer be folded and stored with cuts of fabric (fat quarters, half yard cuts, and larger.)

Current state of my fabric scraps
I use an over-the-door shoe organizer to sort and store scraps
Somewhere online I discovered this idea to use an over-the-door shoe organizer for keeping scraps sorted by color. I've been using this method for about a year-and-a-half now and it works great for me. I try to make it a personal goal not to accumulate too many scraps so that each individual pouch cannot contain it's color. If you look at the top row you can see the neutral fabrics pouches are getting a bit too full. Thus setting the stage for a good scrap-using project :o)

Here's the background for my scrap busting project: My local quilt guild, Winchester Modern Quilters, has recently started a fun guild activity...a Row by Row quilt. We are each making our own quilts using our own fabric, and it can be any size. Each member wrote a word or phrase on a scrap of paper (ie. stars, flowers) and we put them all into a bowl. Then, each month we pull out a word and use it as an inspiration to make a row for a quilt. It is completely up to each quilter how she wants to interpret the word. 

I am getting a bit behind on this quilt because I was away on a trip so now two inspirational words/phrases have been selected: stars, and girls night out. Therefore, my July ALYoF Goal (A Lovely Year of Finishes) is to complete my two rows for this quilt. I am going to be working from my scraps. First up is the row of stars.

Star piles

I pulled my fabrics and organized them into piles. I will be making (6) six inch 8-Point Star blocks. I could not find a tutorial/pattern for the particular star I had in mind so I used Microsoft Word Drawing toolbar to create my own paper piecing pattern.

8-Point Paper Pieced Star
8-Point Star Block - front
Back view - 8 Point Paper Pieced Star
8-Point Star Block - Back
Here's what the back looks like with the paper pieces still attached. This is really a simple star to make and the paper piecing ensures nice, perfectly formed points.

Once the star blocks are complete I have to represent "Girls night out" as a quilt row. I have a couple ideas floating around in my head, but I'd love to hear any suggestions you might offer. If you have an idea please leave it for me in the Comments :o)

I'm linking up with the July Goals Party over at Sew Bittersweet Designs & Fiber of All Sorts. My scrappy quilt rows is entry No. 78. You should pop on over there and check out some of the other great projects going on this month!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quilts and Color

Recently I was blessed to be able to take a trip up New England. It was one of the best vacation trips I've ever taken and I cherish each day. One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the Quilts and Color exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with my aunt & uncle and friends.


Here is a short narrative from the museum introducing the exhibit, "Quilts and Color presents more than sixty graphically bold American quilts from the Pilgrim/Roy collection, one of the finest and largest collections of quilts in the world."

Wow! How to describe this was amazing...inspirational...and gave strong evidence to how the roots of quilting are really not so very different than what quilters are making that traditional, contemporary, and even modern style quilts. 

We had no idea the collector, Gerald Roy, was going to be leading a narrated tour of the exhibit that day...what a treat! I tried to get a picture of him, but flash photography was not permitted and none of my photographs of Mr. Roy turned out. 

Here is just a small sample of the beautiful quilts on display at the museum:

Bunches of Grapes. Ohio about 1875

In this Bunches of Grapes applique numerous design elements {Optical Illusions} come and go from your focus on the quilt: The individual blocks with four bunches of grapes, the green circles formed by the leaves, and the large off-white diamonds created by the negative space. When I look at this quilt my eyes are in constant motion all over the top and don't really find one individual spot to settle down on.

Thousand Pyramids. Amish; Holmes County, Ohio, about 1930

Many of the featured quilts, such as Thousand Pyramids, exhibited sophisticated use of color and design {Harmony}. Mr. Roy pointed out that these quilts were made by accomplished women who understood the intricate details of fine design such as selecting a mix of fabrics that stand out or recede, and careful attention to placement. In our day and age these same women would probably be accountants, doctors, architects, and engineers (his words, not mine.)

Center Medallion Tied Child's Comforter, Missouri, 1910

Looking at this wool medallion quilt (note the bold orange ties!) one would think it was straight from an Instagram, flickr, or blog feed, and yet it was made 104 years ago! This quilt happens to be my favorite from the exhibit and falls into the {Singular Vision} grouping. This grouping features quilt makers who..."audaciously employed unconventional colors, materials, or techniques to make their individual statements." I can guess that this particular quilt was quite unconventional for 1910 both in the color choices, the design of the top, and the color choice for the ties. It's brilliant!

I hope you enjoyed this mini tour of the Quilts and Color exhibit. If you find yourself with the opportunity to go see this exhibit be sure to seize it :o)

~Quotes come from the Quilts and Color museum program. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Little Lone Star and other June Adventures

June has been a busy month with the school year drawing to a close and a much anticipated trip to New England. I was not sure just how much time I'd be able to devote to sewing so I made sure I set my June ALYoF (A Lovely Year of Finishes) goal very do-able. Previously I'd stitched together a little lone star using English paper piecing, however it sat for more than a year waiting for the background pieces to be attached. So, my goal for June was to get the background attached so the star would be finished.

Little Lone Star 

Now I love it more than ever. Quite a while ago I purchased a half yard of the Etchings print by 3 Sisters just to stash. As I was looking through my fabrics for background for this patriotic lone star it stood out as the perfect choice. I'm so happy to be using this lovely fabric on something I really like :o) I'm not sure what the next step will be for this little lone star...will I just leave it this size and turn it into a wall hanging, or will more be added? I'm going to hang it on my design wall and look at it for awhile to see where inspiration leads.

Little Lone Star 

I always think it's fun to see what the back of a quilt top looks like, so here's how the back of Little Lone Star looks. The paper templates are still basted in...I have to admit I like the back as much as the front! I'm linking this post up to the June Finishes Party over at Sew Bittersweet Designs.

So, what else have I been doing this month? I'm so glad you asked because I have a couple fun things to share :o) 

Charley Harper & Jane Market Bag

I have a dear aunt & uncle who are so special to me and they enjoy birding. So, b
ack in January I bought this sweet bundle of Charley Harper organic cotton fabric thinking these prints would make a super fun Jane Market BagOne of my favorite "happy accidents" is the little Nuthatch peaking out from under the strap :o) If you've never made one of these bags I absolutely give it high scores for a well written, great pattern. There are a lot of options for adding custom touches, too. I like to top stitch the seams and add a strip of trim fabric across the top of the pockets. I also added featherweight interfacing to both the straps and the lining. The pattern does not call for interfacing, but I like the bit of structure it adds. On a previous bag I used a heavyweight (Pellon 809) interfacing which made the bag stand on it's own. 

Before leaving on my trip to New England I prepped a couple of hand work projects to take along for quiet moments here and there. I've made some progress on the hand stitched Flickering Stars pillow. 

2010 Issue of Sew Scrappy, Volume 1

This is the first of four stars. Again, I think it is so informative to see what the back looks like so here's a picture of this block being sewn together.


I grow to love hand sewing more with each new project. It is so relaxing and not at all hard to be precise in matching up star points and seams. In this picture you can see the pencil lines used to mark the stitching lines. Accurate pinning on these lines is the key. I learned a lot about hand piecing from one of my students at school ;o) She was in 7th grade and had a lot of experience with hand piecing. She explained how to stitch all the way around the seam allowances when joining rows together - it works beautifully!

June was a productive month in the sewing room. I'd love to hear about what you've been working on :o)