The Olde Towne Quilt

Starting a

As running season slows and things become less hectic I’ve started work on an overdue present. In between my Birchen Quilt and some smaller side projects I unearthed from my stash the Olde Towne pattern.  It’s still new-ish and the fabric, Sturbridge by Moda, is still widely available in stores and online.

Every now and then I’ll dive back into one of my original favorite quilt motifs, primitives. There’s something earthy about the look of a “prim” quilt. The fabrics tend to be darker, more monotone but no less rich and spectacular. I also like that most primitive quilts are simple in design.

This pattern is a good sized wall hanging with a decent amount of challenge. Several intersections have proven to be quite difficult to match on top of making sure each point is centered with the one in the previous row.

So many tiny squares to triangles. I predict lots of squaring up in the next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been alot of marking.  I’d much prefer sewing half square triangles in a traditional fashion compared to sewing on corners.  There is definitely a finesse to sewing just slightly to the other side of the marked line for a perfect matching triangle once they have been pressed up and back. Squaring them up has also been a challenge.  But nothing in quilting is ever exact and I certainly try not to focus overly much on the small off centered seams that can not be avoided once in a while.

To infinity and beyond! *chain piecing has its perks, but can get boring fast* #quiltersofinstagram #chainpiecing #arewedoneyet #showmethemoda

But I’ll be honest. Off centered seams grate on my aesthetics and overall sense of, WHY IS THIS NOT MATCHING PERFECTLY!!!!!!  It’s a vice.

Honestly, work to the best of your ability.  Rip out those seams if you have to and sew them back. When I find myself consumed with the tiny details I step back and look at the overall picture….and have a beer if I’ve remembered to stock up from my last grocery run.

But perfectionism is for the birds. And things, even in Nature, are rarely perfect.

Focus on the bigger picture when you need to re-center. And have a beer and maybe some leftover Halloween candy.  Then come back to it and soldier on.

How did I ever live without a design board? #showmethemoda #primitivequilts #primitive #modafabrics

Aftermath: Columbus Half Marathon 2016

Done with a time 2:43:21. PR'd by 20 minutes from my last half a year ago. Hooray progress, hooray beer and hooray for the running season finally winding down. #cbusmarathon #runnergirl

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since I completed my second half marathon and it was a totally different experience from running my first half in fall of 2015.  But before I delve into that the awesome news is I ran a 20 minute PR over the AF Half!! Finishing at 2:43:21 was crazy.  If you read my last post you’ll know that I was aiming for 2:30:00, but it wasn’t to be and that’s okay because it’s still a huge accomplishment! For only being a casual runner who only follows a few basic training rules (wear good shoes, sleep, stretch and don’t starve yourself), it’s phenomenal to see that I really DID physically improve in the last year.  My training actually paid off despite a busy year.  I’m not even disappointed I missed my goal time.  It means I have another year to work and train and earn another chance to PR.

Columbus Half 2016

Obviously I had to ring the PR GONG.  What you don’t know is that that finisher medal weighed almost 3 pounds and was making my neck stiff AND my quads were cramping pretty badly. That silly face is really partial grimace because the hubster was taking way too long to take the picture.

Why was this Half different? Well for starters I had to drive an hour to Columbus and stay overnight at my brother’s house who was still a 30 minute drive from downtown where the starting line was.  That’s not counting having to drive into downtown to grab my race packet the day before and fighting traffic in, out and all around the convention center.  But I will say that because this race is put on annually by Nationwide Children’s Hospital the expo AND the race were both very family friendly and as accommodating as possible. It made the whole event feel all inclusive.

Race day started early for me, like 4am early.  I got to my parking garage at 6am after a 45 minute drive from my brother’s house to downtown and then weaving my way purely by instinct, because Google Maps wigged out on me, around closed roads and one way streets. It was not a good kind of stress to have an hour and a half before start time.  Then I had to pack my hydration belt I decided to wear at the last minute, pin my bib on, do some meditative breathing to calm my burbling stomach and walk my way to the gear check (unknown to me I’d left my dome light on! Fortunately, my battery didn’t drain in the 5 hrs I was away, how crazy is that?).

The race for me didn’t start right at 7:30am because I was in the last corral. I crossed the mat at 7:45am and off I went.  The spectators were great and it was INCREDIBLE having strangers cheering you on for 100% of the race.  It was uplifting and fun.  I high fived as many of the Kid Patient Champions as I could (kids who are fighting illnesses and are representing strength and encouragement for every child out there).  The signs were amazing, “If Trump can run, so can you!”, “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear!”, “Hurry up! Our Catan game is on hold because of you!”, etc.  The weather, a warm 70 degrees, was buffered by a nice wind.

It was a good course with lots to look at and challenging enough to keep you on your toes trying to avoid the road camber or surprise pothole.

My knees got tight due to my quads getting tired at mile 11, but I ran through it and kept pushing only stopping a handful of times to walk out the strain. When I crossed the finish line I didn’t realize I’d set a 20 min PR.  I saw my Garmin and though ok that’s MY time, but what’s the official time? Much to my amazement once I found the Husband and Wee Beastie he told me.

I cried a little, more from relief that it was over and I had managed to pull a good time for myself.  I ran the best I could that Sunday and it paid off.

Every now and then when I find myself thinking about how much something sucks, how I really hate running, or about the general crud that life throws out, I remind myself how awful that first mile I had run in 20 years felt then I look at myself now. I’ll always hate that first mile, but now I can get over it.

Remember to look back to see how far you’ve come.

Ready. Trying to find my zen. Let's hope traffic is smooth tomorrow morning for my 2nd half marathon. #cbusmarathon #halfmarathon #brooksrunning

Half Marathon Butterflies

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October is flying by so let’s take a moment of zen to appreciate this Monarch.

Inner peace……….inner peace……inner peace……..

Let’s also appreciate the fact that butterflies are also taking up residence in my stomach as race day for the Columbus Marathon is 4 days away.  It’s pretty typical for me to get anxiety and think my training isn’t enough and I’ll totally fall apart mid-race.  But the fact is I’m already better than I was last year at my last half. I’ve seen and felt my own improvement and it’s amazing to think of what I’m once again going to accomplish.  If the weather doesn’t totally crap out on us (as of today there’s a 90% chance of rain/thunderstorms and breezy 12-17mph winds) then I’m all set to land a crazy PR.

I will not worry about my shoes being at the end of their mileage, I will not worry about the forecast, but will embrace the insanity that may be. I will arrive early and be excited.  I will find a port-o-potty well before the gun time.  I will encourage as many nervous runners as I can and I will cry all the tears if I hit my goal time of 2:30:00.

So while I feel like falling to pieces inside at the moment the practical side of my brain is telling me I will definitely kick ass.

I may just attach those butterflies to my shoes and put them to work.

Keep an eye out on my Instagram (@thelittleredthread) to see any race day shenanigans!

Scaling Up & Moving On

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I always joke that with each quilt I make I learn something new.  I have yet to not learn a lesson, a skill or otherwise handy piece of knowledge that can only come from making mistakes and then figuring out how to fix them.

I have little to no experience when it comes to using large scale prints.  I tend to stick to the safe and narrow land of small scale prints or solids.  Boring but like I said, safe.  I’ve been steadily gaining ground on The Birchen Quilt over the last few weeks up until last night when, at long last, I had all my blocks sewn, pressed and ready to layout…..

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(forgive the picture it was a quick Instagram snap and I couldn’t even fit the entire layout on my wall)

What I saw made me cringe a bit inside.  The fabric I’d fallen in love with was overwhelming a very cool pattern. I mean the prints were just beating the pattern into submission and it was not pretty.  A few choice phrases, some distracted sewing and an hour later I regrouped my ravaged pride and decided that I only had two choices.

  1. I could leave it as is and love the craziness that is MY quilt and my fabric choice. This is the first quilt I’ve ever made for myself.
  2. I could rip out the seams of all the Elizabeth bust triangles and find a less glaring print for those 8 blocks *cry*.

But I am SO.TORN.

I mean I am seriously bummed out.  Those blocks are not small (19″ x 19″ as pictured). I love every piece of fabric I picked out and I have sewn over 300 half square triangles and squared them up.  This quilt top has so much work put into it, but it is definitely not what I had in mind and that is very depressing.

I am determined to make this pattern work so for now I’m putting this quilt on hold, stacking up my beautiful blocks and diving into another project while I mull over my two options.

Lesson learned: The scale of your prints is just as important as the color palette.

Summer’s End

I am always eternally grateful when we pass mid-August as things can finally slow down enough for me to re-group and regain my sanity.  It’s only ever been like this since Fi came into our lives and all of my friends and family started having kids.  Summers are just B-U-S-Y. It seems like there is simply no time to be still.  But I have managed to make progress in very small doses.  I even sent off a quilt to be quilted and it should be arriving back home in another week or so.

Love my new cutting mat designed by @beelori1 of Bee in my Bonnet! It's big enough to square up my huge Birchen Quilt blocks with room to spare! I got the big 24 x 36, it's double sided and thick at 3mm. #sewcute #beeinmybonnet #loriholt #fqsfun #birchenq

Follow my Instagram (@thelittleredthread) to see more Birchen Quilt progress and other daily life fun!

I can see the tail end of summer now and I’m chomping at the bit for the cooler weather to arrive and the humidity to abate.  I’ve been continuing to run when the weather allows while trying ignore the fact that I only have 2 more months before my next Half Marathon.

And in between all this the Wee Beastie turned 4 years old.

We went to the Dayton Celtic Festival, the Dublin Irish Festival (pictures of the Wishing Tree from DIF…so many feelings reading all the wishes.)
The Wishing Tree is one of the most sobering, joyful and emotional exhibits that you will ever experience at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, OH. @dublinirishfestival #beinghuman #weallwantlove 20160806_194413

There was the Lego Brick Universe exhibit and what seemed like a billion other tiny events in between.

I’ve also been helping out on a friend’s farm once a week since the end of July. We just crated 100 chickens last week for processing.  It was quite an event for two women and with the summer heat no creature was happy.  Free range chickens are very crafty birds.  Good food means hard work.

Now our yearly trip to the Renaissance Festival is looming and once more Fiona will need a new costume.  Going back to the basics though and hoping that leaving a generous hem at the bottom will let me get an extra year of wear out of it.  We’re going on Pirates weekend with some of our good friends and as long as it doesn’t rain I know it’ll be a blast!

 

What I’m Reading: Wolf Hollow

26026063This book is a solid, well written coming of age story and if it’s not being considered for a Newberry Award it darn well should be.

“Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.” – Goodreads

I read this book cover to cover in one night, in one sitting.  It was easy to follow and the flow and pace were spot on.  I’ll definitely be looking more into Lauren Wolk’s other books now.  This should be on every kid’s summer reading list and every teacher’s for that matter.

The themes of bullying, shame, social injustice and racism echo so much of today’s current events that it was hard to think of this story as a work of fiction.  Not to mention Annabelle’s immediate family who are caught up in all the chaos and trying to do right by both their daughter and Toby, who is a beautiful representation of what it’s like to be misunderstood by “polite society” and what war does to a person.

The right things are always the hardest things to do like forgiving and accepting that not everyone wants to be saved.

Lauren Wolk does a wonderful job of bringing Wolf Hollow to life, making you feel all those hard emotions that we all have felt when we were Annabelle’s age.  Even as a parent I found I could relate to her father and mother in ways that I wouldn’t have if I were still a pre-teen.  Wolf Hollow offers something for everyone of every age.

If this book doesn’t leave you crying at the end then you most likely missed the deeper meaning.

Dutch Cathedrals: A Mini Quilt Tutorial

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern

Betz White’s new fabric line Dutch Treat for Riley Blake is a beautiful and charming homage to Pennsylvania Dutch design.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on some yardage before it shipped at the end of June and immediately delved into some research.  The Pennsylvania Dutch are not, in fact, from the Netherlands, but are made up of several groups of immigrants from both Germany and France.  As I looked further into the history of the region I found my inspiration in a traditional cathedral windows pattern.

Dutch Cathedrals is a summer fresh mini quilt that looks complicated but is wonderfully easy to accomplish.

Finished size: 24″ x 24″

SUPPLIES
Fabric:
1/2 yd Dutch Wreath Gray
1/2 yd Dutch Stripe Gray
1/2 yd Dutch Floral Green (background)
1/2 yd Kona Cotton in Peapod (background)
3/4 yd Kona Cotton in White (cathedral window frames)

1 yd for Backing
3/8 yd for Binding

1 yd of batting

Notions:
thread
scissors
iron
spray starch
basting supplies

Optional:
Basting glue or Elmer’s School glue for holding your window centers in place
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All pieced seams are sewn with 1/4″ seam allowance

All seams are pressed opened to reduce bulk
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Cutting:
– Fussy cut (9) 4 1/2″ square flower medallions from the Dutch Wreath Gray
– (4) 4 1/2″ squares from the Dutch Stripe Gray
– (16) 4 1/2″ squares from the Dutch Floral Green
– (20) 4 1/2″ squares from the Kona Cotton in Peapod
– (52) 4 1/2″ squares from the Kona Cotton in White
– (3) 2 1/2″ strips for binding

Cathedral Windows Pattern

Block Assembly:

1) Lay out (4) matching squares of either of your green background fabrics.
Dutch Cathedrals Pattern

2) Take (4) of your white squares, press in half and lay one pressed half square on top of one green background square. Make sure that the raw edges of your white half square match up with the raw edges of your background square. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 2

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern

3) At this point it’s very helpful to do a full layout of your pattern and take a picture of the final layout. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 4

Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 5 Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 6

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4) Start assembling a full block. Pull one full block aside along with all of the pressed half squares on top.
Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 9 Stack the pressed half squares on top the opposite side taking care to make sure your raw edges are lined up with the finished pressed edges in the middle. Then place the right side of your green background fabric on top of your pressed half squares, pin to avoid the fabric shifting and sew together.  Press seams open.Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 10

***Hint, always double check that you’re sewing down the correct side!***

5) Open up your sewn units
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and then place the bottom unit right sides together with the top unit. Your triangle points will meet up. Line up your center seam, pin, sew, press seam open. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 12

Repeat steps 4 & 5 for the next 8 full blocks.

Finished block should measure 8 1/2″ square

Quilt Top Assembly:

6) Once you have all 9 Full Blocks sewn arrange them according to your layout picture. Note that you are not sewing your window centers in this step. Set the window centers to the side once you double check your layout.
Sew your full blocks together to create 3 rows. Check that your center seams align with each block addition, these will ultimately become your cathedral window frame points. Also double check the layout as you go after sewing each full block, press seams open. Then sew your rows together being careful to match your center seams again and press open.

A helpful way of lining up your centers is to take a pin and place it through the center seam of the top block then match up the center of the block below it, press the pin through that seam and pin in place.
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7) Cut your batting and backing two inches bigger than your quilt top. Make your quilt sandwich and center your quilt top. Dutch Cathedrals Pattern 14

Baste in place with your preferred method. I used my Kwik Klip tool with my safety pin “grips” by Quilter’s Delight.

***Hint, it may be helpful to put a dot of basting glue/Elmer’s School glue on the back tips of your window centers to hold them place so they don’t shift.***

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
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8) Start quilting. Start at the tip of one of your white triangles and pull the edge of your white triangle over the center window block. You’ll notice that it will naturally curve inwards. Pull the curve in and finger press it some then sew about an 1/8th of an inch away from the edge of the cathedral window frame. This will catch the center block, sew the cathedral window frame in place AND quilt the top at the same time! Hooray for multitasking!

***Hint, it may be easier for you to sew the cathedral window frames down if you iron them towards the window centers prior to quilting vs. finger pressing them in as you go or use small dots of your basting glue.***

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Take your time on this part, pivot at the points or sew from one curve to the next. You’ll see as you go from curve to curve that each cathedral window frame will either fold over the one your about to sew or can be tucked under. Go with the flow!

Alternate Quilting Method:

If machine quilting is not your cup of tea this pattern is great for using an applique stitch along the cathedral window frame and makes for a nice couch project. You can use the applique technique on just the top for less bulk.

9) Trim your extra batting and backing and bind your quilt!

Thank you to Betz and Riley Blake Designs for letting me play with this colorful line!

Happy Sewing!

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