Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Inspiration and Creativity

Just this morning I saw something about how taking a break from your normal quilting practices can actually spur on creativity and new inspiration and ideas.

I have experienced this very thing!  I have also found that by doing quilting for others and trying to incorporate their "thing" into a quilt or quilting expands my comfort zone.  Blocks of the Month and Sew Alongs are also a good way to stretch your inspiration as well as try new techniques on for size. 😉

I have been blessed to be able to have my comfort zone stretch in the past month with several custom quilt orders as well as quilting for customers.  I have loved the results and firmly believe the statement "You can't use up creativity." 

It may very well be the reason that I am rockin' and rollin' through the quilt orders that I have had recently.

The Brand quilt top is done and the wool batting is on order.




So I have moved on to the last of the original custom orders... another t-shirt quilt.  This one is for a friend that has been involved in TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) for many years.  Sue was among my friends that made the magnetic prayer boards.

She loves the color purple and anything Red/White/Blue .  I'm not sure what focus fabric I will use for the sashing strips and borders, but I'm sure an idea will come together that will seem just perfect for her. 


Those magnetic prayer boards were inspiration for another project that I led the Women's Ministry group in at our church.  We are getting ready to begin a new study and so we made personal prayer journals that will be utilized with the study when we start next week. Our journals are as varied as our personalities...

Which reminds me of how each of the blocks that have been shared from the Santa Fe Trail Sew along are equally as diverse and different.


Wendy Tuma shared on her blog about her blocks... You should check it out! She lives not far from the land mark Maiden Rock in Wisconsin.  Marion Russell made mention of this point of interest in her memoirs so Wendy took inspiration from the scenery for her Double Nine block and then took a "field trip" to do a photo shoot.  


So all of this inspiration and creativity has actually kept me from doing some of the computer tasks that I really need to to get to.  

I have patterns to write out for the Sew Along in addition to the TOPS quilt to assemble... oh, and I have another baby cowboy quilt that arrived recently. 

My customer, once again, created each of the cowboys to represent individuals in the family.  Those great-grandbabies are so lucky!

It is time to get back to my To Do List!  I am list maker... A friend recently shared that she has discovered that it helps her to make lists as well.  And she has adapted the idea of tackling the task that she most dreads FIRST... Because after that everything else is easy.  Seems like a good idea, and sometimes I will do that.  

But I tend to prioritize by how long a task will take, compared to how much time I might have available.   I hate leaving things half-done.  But, of course, if there is a deadline that item gets more attention, well in advance, because I hate working under pressure!

What is your strategy for tackling you To-do's?

Leave a comment... I love to hear from my readers.

Piece Out,

Melva

Linking with:

To Do Tuesday at Chris Knits & Sews
Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail - Double Nine


 In the words of Marian Russell...

Mother had remarried when I was but three years old and the memory of my step-father's kindness colors many of my childhood memories.  He was a tall man, an Irishman with a red face and broad shoulders.  I do not know why I was not taught to call him "father."  To me he was always Mr. Mahoney.  He carried himself with an erect military bearing and seemed to know all there was to know about Indians.  The tales he told!  He had an eager boyish laugh and the fine even white teeth that gleamed when he laughed.  I remember that he would play the banjo and sing Irish ballads with a good strong voice with a rollicking note in it.

I remember sitting on the floor holding Mr. Mahoney's new boots in my lap.  My feet, shod in black sandals, were stretched out before me.  Somewhere I had seen a picture of a mouse running out of a hole in the toe of a boot.  So with mother's forbidden scissors I cut a small hole in the toe of Mr. Mahoney's new boot.  Outraged, mother quickly lifted her hand against me.  Mr. Mahoney took me from her.  He laughed and held my face hard against his own.  To my very angry mother he said, "Of  boots there are many, but I have only one dear little daughter."  I loved Mr. Mahoney.

In 1849, Mr. Mahoney was appointed custodian of Fort Snelling and Prairie du Chien, military outposts on the upper Mississippi.  Garrisons of soldiers were stationed there to guard against Indian outbreaks.  Mr. Mahoney was an experienced scout and knew of their ways.

We packed our belongings and took passage on a funny little stern-wheeler that churned up the muddy waters, leaving a foamy, ivory colored trail in its wake.  It was a bit like a sawmill in full operation moving off up the river.  Then, too, there was the charm and a mystery about the river.  We were enroute to a new home in the great north-west.  Everything along the Father of Waters was different from our life in St. Louis.

We passed many islands and wondered how the pilot of the threshing little stern-wheeler found his way through them.  In places there were so many islands that we had the illusion that we were sailing through a series of many little lakes.  

Sometimes we passed under angry red bluffs that frowned down at us.  One such tall prominence was named "The Maiden's Leap," and mother told us the story of the Native girl who had thrown herself  from the precipice when her lover had proved unfaithful. 

In later years I was to learn the full legend.  A hundred years before, a Sioux girl names Winona, of the tribe of Wapasha, fell in love with a young Indian hunter.  Her love was returned but her parents wanted her to marry another warrior who had distinguished himself in battle against the Chippewas.

When the fateful day came that Winona was to be married to the man of her parent's choice, she ascended to the summit of the high red bluff and, in a clear ringing voice, upbraided her father for being cruel to her lover and driving home alone into the forest.  She then lifted her hands to the sky above her and began singing a plaintive song to her lover.  When the song was finished she threw herself into the river.

Standing that day on the deck of the little stern-wheeler I saw in imagination the slender Winona hurtling down into the water.  I leaned far over trying to see the bottom, but the water was yellow and muddy.  Poor little Winona!

At last we anchored beneath a high cut bank.  On the top stood Fort Snelling.  There was a tall round tower in the center of the parade ground and from it a sentry on duty scanned the countryside.

Once the Sioux came scampering to the gates of the fort for protection.  Hard on their heels were the screaming Chippewas.  In an instant all became bustle and confusion.  A detachment of soldiers marched out between the warring factions.  The Chippewas muttered and grumbled.  The Sioux brought out a big peace pipe.  There was some smoking and grunting.  At last the laughing soldiers trooped back into the fort and the Natives returned to their camp across the river.  The "battle" was over.

As I write I again experience the thrill that was mine when we moved away from Fort Snelling.  Orders had come from headquarters that both Fort Snelling and Prairie du Chien were to be abandoned.  All day long troops had been leaving.  The blooded horses from the military stables had been loaded on a stern-wheeler.

In our quarters, trunks bags and boxes stood open for mother was packing.  She sorted, packed and eliminated.  This article or that one she would tuck into a box or bag, while another she would toss upon a refuse heap in the corner.  Here was a game of leave and take that delighted my soul beyond measure.  Into the kitchen I marched, gathered up my rag doll and my little tin dipper.  The dipper I put into an open box, the rag doll I threw into a tub of water.  My little rag doll that had slept with me all the time we lived at Fort  Snelling!  She eddied around a bit, gazing at me all the while with soulful, shoe-button eyes.  Filled with compunction and sorrow, I backed slowly from the room, watching spell-bound the little painted face on the water.

I stood with Mr. Mahoney on the big front steps of the fort.  Across the river the Sioux were getting ready to leave; their teepees were coming down.  The Chippewas had already gone.  I saw Mr. Mahoney fit the key in the lock of the fort.  That key must have been a foot long and folded in the middle like a jack-knife.  When the door was locked he picked me up and set me on his shoulder.  I felt the cool, sweet wind on my face and from my high vantage point I looked up at the great round tower.  For the first time no sentry stood there.  

Thus Fort Snelling, Prairie du Chien and the first chapter of my life closed together.


From the notes... Fort Snelling, first called Fort Anthony, was established in 1819 at the mouth of the Minnesota River - south of present Minneapolis and across the river from St. Paul - by Colonel Henry 
Leavenworth.  A post was established at the old French trading post of Prairie du Chien (Wisconsin) in 1816.  Both military posts played colorful roles in the history of the upper Mississippi Valley during the first half of the 19th century.

A Nine-patch block would have been among the first blocks that a young girl like Marian would have pieced.  But in such a short time of her childhood she had experienced so much... from the loss of her father to their move from Saint Louis to Fort Snelling with Mr. Mahoney and the closing of the two military posts. 

A simple 9-patch block didn't feel sufficient to capture her story, so the Double-Nine block represents this portion of her life.  Imagine this block as the river and the islands the riverboat made its way past... 

We passed many islands and wondered how the pilot of the threshing little stern-wheeler found his way through them.  In places there were so many islands that we had the illusion that we were sailing through a series of many little lakes.

NOTE:  It was brought to my attention that the pattern cutting directions had an error.  The single 1-7/8" square needs to be cut from the light (NOT the dark).  I have made the correction on the pattern.  Be certain that you make the change or that your pattern is noted as revised.


River boat dinner cruises were popular in the 80s and 90s.  We enjoyed several while we were living in Illinois.  The Port Edward's Sunset Cruise was always a fun night out on the Fox River both before babies and after (with out) our babies.  A time to get away and sip on a glass of wine.  

When my parents would visit from Colorado, they would often travel via Amtrak.  Rather than pick them up or drop them off in downtown Chicago, we would drive to Joliet.  It took about the same amount of time to get there but without all the traffic!  Joliet had river boat casinos and we enjoyed a few "cruises" and dinner.  To call them cruises was really quite silly since they boats simply went up and down the Fox River for a short distance.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law enjoyed a river cruise in Europe a few years ago... quite different from the river boats I have been on.

Have you been on a river boat?

Leave a comment... you know I love to hear from all of you.

Quilt Happy!

Melva  

Don't forget to use the hashtags #PiecesoftheSantaFeTrail #PiecesoftheTrail #PiecesoftheTrailSewAlong and tag me on instagram @MelvaLovesScraps or share to my fb page Melva Loves Scraps 

Be sure to come back and link up your block for a chance to win a fat quarter too!

No blog or social media accounts to link up?  No worries!  Simply email me at MelvaLovesScraps@NolanQualityCustoms.com with a picture of your block and I will do it for you. 

Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
BOMS Away at Katie Mae Quilts
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
BOMs Away at What A Hoot Quilts
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Checking Off the To-Do's

One by one the quilts that I felt so overwhelmed with a few weeks ago are getting done.  Two down (basically)!  Two to go...


I say basically because the baby quilt ~ Remembering Grandpa Ray ~ while done, still needs a label.  In fact, after the shower for my daughter, I was informed that the pink and grey giraffe quilt did not have a label on it.  WHAT?!?  How did that happen.  Heather figured that I was waiting for Hanna's arrival so that I could include the date and other vitals on it.  Um, yeah!  That's it!  LOL.  

When I went to my closet to see what I had available in quilt labels I realized the real reason... I didn't think any of them were just right for it.  




I headed over to spoonflower and designed my own.  They have a nice selection of already designed quilt labels, but I decided I wanted to have my MelvaLovesScraps logo on it...  I designed two labels.  The first with my standard saying on it - "Blessed from above and made with love". 



This second one is one that I can include on a quilt made by someone else, but quilted by me.  This is the one that would have been a nice addition to the Cowboy quilt... but that is a completely different rabbit trail!


Back on track with moving forward on my quilt que...  Up next is the "Brand" quilt.  This is for my brother, Kelvin...  The squares have been cut and I have started placing the appliqued brands on them.  

But first it was necessary to talk details with him... 

Are the V and the 7 at the same angle?  Meaning is the V just turned so that what would be the right side of the V is a flat top 7?  And the H is centered between the two of them?

On the X one, the bottom bar is the overall width of the X with the tail extensions?

FI) - is the lower bar of the F shorter than the top one?

Same on the WF?  And should the height of the lazy W be the same as the sideways/backward F?

On Joe's 8Z/ should the slash be touching the bottom of the Z?

I recall a conversation from my childhood with my Dad about brands and the importance of details and how a smart rancher will select a brand with few components, making the job of branding go faster and smoother.  Thus the question of the V7H... In the drawing the right vertical line of the V is not at an angle and the same piece can be used for the 7, but turned on its side.  

Here's my progress so far...


That center brand is our Dad's, thus the size and placement of prominence... the rest belong to other family members or close friends... but each has significance to Kelvin.  I'll have to get all of the details before it is finished.  There will be dark brown sashing strips and a wide border.  He wants it to be "fluffy".  High loft batting isn't something I do... He also stated he wants it to be warm.  So, I am thinking of wool batting and flannel backing.  That may be as "fluffy" as he gets.  He also doesn't want a lot of quilting on it... Um... quilting is what holds the batting in place.  Maybe some big stippling?

I am open to suggestions.  
How do I achieve all that he is asking for?

Be blessed and quilt happy!

Melva

Linking with:

To Do Tuesday at Chris Knits & Sews
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch



Friday, April 23, 2021

A Friday (almost) Finish

It is amazing what I can actually get done when I stay home!  And, oh, it felt so good to stay home... mostly.



Dave and I did go to Pueblo (90 miles - at least he drove 😀) to do some birthday shopping for me.  My birthday was on Sunday and he wanted to find a new bike for me.  The bike I have ridden for the past five years was a run-of-the-mill bike from Wally-world and it was needing some attention...  enough attention and work that Dave thought would be easier if he bought me a new bike.  He spoils me, but I don't mind. 😉 Woohoo!  Let's go riding!  









I finished and sent off the cowboy quilt to my customer and then gathered up the t-shirts for the next quilt ~ a baby quilt for my friend Ruth's grandson.  



While in Pueblo we made a quick stop at the fabric shop to purchase the backing and sashing fabric for little Xavier's quilt.

It includes all of Grandpa Ray's favorites...  He served on the Saratoga and also in the Marines.  He loved his family and his favorite sports teams.

I will be sandwiching and quilting this weekend.

What are your plans for the weekend?


Maybe your plans include piecing the first block of the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along... if not, they should!  It is a very simple block that even a beginner, like a 7 year old Marian Russell, who traveled back and forth on the Santa Fe Trail five times in her life.  You can read about all the details of the sew along on the introductory post, and get the pattern on the Kit In The Korner post.  

Happy Quilting!

Melva

Linking with:

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Cowboy Bill Finished


You may remember that I had four quilts in the que...Last week I had a a crazy week!  

It involved travel on Thursday and again on Saturday.  The weather and road conditions were less than favorable, but I survived the long day... including the grueling 5 hour drive home when, with ideal driving conditions, the trip takes only (haha!  only) 3-1/2 hours.  But I don't want to dwell on that...

Saturday's weather wasn't ideal either but the trip was a short 90 miles to get to the baby shower for our soon-to-arrive grand-daughter.  Just three more weeks!  


You may notice the pink and grey giraffe quilt hanging on the wall to the left of the fireplace... it welcomed guests as they arrived for the party.  And the name banner and a sweet quilted jacket adorn the gift area.





Big sisters were very helpful in opening all of the gifts...  And now that most of the registry has been filled Momma is nesting and getting things in order.  Though she openly admitted that she has not packed a bag for the hospital yet.  But then again, why would she???  This is Heather!  She has always been, and will always be, a procrastinator.  Did I mention she is scheduled to work on her due date and the day after?  

But enough on all of that. 

Using the fancy little FMQ jig that Dave made me last week I practiced and practiced making butterflies and bees for the background quilting of the cowboy quilt.  The dragonflies were more challenging and they required a little more practice.  At last, when I was happy with them all I sat down at the machine and proceeded to quilt them.  Here are some detail shots...




 
































Did you notice that some of the "cowboys" are actually girls ~ "farmher".  I love all of them and the detail that my customer put into each block.  Once washed and dried to have the well loved look of an older quilt, I took it outside for a quick photo session.


Up next will be the baby quilt made up of t-shirts.  Remember a two weeks ago I visited my friend?  Her husband had passed away in November after a long battle with prostate cancer and she is awaiting the arrival of her first grandson in July.  The shower is in May... I better get cracking!

What will you be working on this week?

Piece Happy!

Melva

Linking with:

To Do Tuesday at Chris Knits & Sews
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch
Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Practice, Practice, Practice


The Cowboy quilt is coming along... The quilting of the borders and sashing strips were fun and easy to do with FMQ vines and leaves.  The outlining of the cowboys went quickly as well.  

 The background area will have loops and twirls and each block will include a butterfly, bumble bee or dragonfly.  It was the suggestion of Dave and I loved it, though I was intimidated the the thought of actually making them LOOK like the creatures they are to be.


I pulled out a step-by-step FMQ "lesson" from a past issue of American Quilter and started envisioning in my head the motions that would make them up.  Dave does some engraving and knows how much practice can go into a piece and he was very supportive.

I showed him a set-up that Tish Stemple had shared on her blog do be able to do such practice on a piece of plastic with a dry-erase marker.  He quickly responded with "I can make you one of those with a couple blocks of wood and a piece of plexiglass."  Yay!

Despite having his own work that he should have been focusing on, he created a FMQ jig for me in one day!  What a guy!  I think I'll keep him. 💗

You can see that I started with tracing the design and as I feel comfortable, I will move on to doing it free-hand.  




The next step with be trying it out on the machine... if it turns out fairly decent I may make some mug rugs out of them. 

I remember being so afraid of FMQ!  I love it now, even if I do get a little intimidated now and then.  But the best way to grow and improve it to keep trying and push yourself, even if only a little bit... 

What quilting skill/s would you like to improve?  

When I first started quilting I joined a block of the month.  The blocks for the sampler quilt varied in difficulty and technique.  And while I felt I was proficient as a sewer, my 1/4" seams were off and I ended up with cut off points and wavy blocks.  I didn't give up though!  


I am hosting a new sew along ~ Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail ~ that will feature primarily simple and basic blocks, perfect for beginners. Patterns are released every three weeks along with an excerpt of the book "Land of Enchantment" which is a memoir of Marian Russell who traveled the Santa Fe Trail five times, the first when she was just 7 years old. The first block and story are both available on the Kit In The Korner post.  Details of the sew along are in the announcement post.  Just follow the highlighted links. 

I must go practice!  Don't forget to leave a comment...

Blessings,

Melva

Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch
Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland

Monday, April 12, 2021

Sew Much To Do!

My time away last week was wonderful!  We laughed, we talked, we ate, we walked, we cried, we caught up and we supported each other.  💗  


Oh, and we crafted!  I told you last week that I had a craft project in mind.  It was fun to sit, sip, talk and create.  We created magnetic memo boards with cookie sheets, scrapbooking paper, my cricut and clear contact paper.


Each one is unique... Julie made hers an inspirational board.  She included a blank "post-it note" as a space to write on with a dry erase marker to complete the phrase Today is... along with many butterflies. 🦋


Sue will be using hers as a prayer board and included the word Grace as her reminder that she needs to extend grace to those she meets and interacts with.


Connie was made various selections for her board but took the supplies home with her because she wanted to include pictures of her grand-children.  In the picture she is holding my board that simply says Blessed.  She sent me a picture of her completed board. 😀




Ruth selected items that reminded her of her late husband and added the word Love to hers. 


While sitting and chatting one morning I pulled out my colored pencils and sketch book to draw out a quilt design for a custom quilt that my brother has requested.  The purpose of the sketch was to be able to calculate how much fabric I needed to purchase.  


The trip was a productive one!  I brought home supplies for three quilts.  And when I arrived home I found a fourth quilt from a customer ready to be quilted.

My friend Sue sent home a collection of T-shirts to be transformed into a memory quilt commemorating her many years of involvement with TOPS.  

I stopped by the fabric shop to purchase the fabric for my brother's "Brand" quilt. 

The third quilt will be an extra special gift for Ruth's first grandson.  As I mentioned before, Ruth's husband, Ray, passed away in November.  She sent home with me an assortment of his shirts to be included in the quilt for Xavier, who is due in July.  



I have a start on my customer's quilt...  I quilted in vines and leaves in the sashing strips and will outline the little boys.

I have searched for ideas to quilt the background areas, but haven't found anything that truly made me say "this is it!"

For now, I am considering stippling the area.  Since it is a baby quilt, I am guessing it will be well loved and will need substantial quilting to keep it in tact through all the washings and love.

Do you have a suggestion on how to quilt the background?  

I am open to ideas... Leave a comment


I think just with these quilts I will be kept busy for a few weeks.  On top of these, I  will continue designing blocks and writing patterns for the Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along.  Did you miss the announcement?  You can find it by following the link above.  You can find the first block here ~ Kit In The Korner ~

I feel a definite theme that stands out... With the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along, Overall Sam and the Brands I am feeling quite cowboy-ish.  Lol...

Yeehaw!  That's enough horsing around... I best be scootin' along... I have SEW MUCH TO DO!

Piece Happy!

Melva

Linking with:

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
To Do Tuesday at Chris Knits & Sews
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Stitch Sew & Show at Life in the Scrap Patch