Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stella's Stocking

OK, so it's December 22 and I just finished grand-girl Stella's first Christmas stocking:

Don't look too closely at the free-motion machine quilting, except that I hope you can make out "Stella".  I'm getting there with the quilting, still need lots of practice.

The red fabrics are some used in my "Red and White--By the Numbers" quilt.  I am very particular about who gets quilts with those fabrics.  I purposely kept them separated from the rest of my stash and use them for very special gifts.  Since I no longer own that quilt, it is my way to enjoy the memories associated with that very special time in my quilt career.

So why did this simple project take so long??  My husband retired from his civil engineer career December 4 and was getting acclimated to the idea he had lots more time when, on December 9, he tripped in a parking lot, 40 miles from home.  He did a face plant, broke his eye socket and nose, injured his collarbone, ribs, and did a big number on his left leg.  He was transported by ambulance back to Huntsville Hospital where I met him.  We spent most of the day there as they determined he only broke the eye socket and nose, minor fractures each and all still aligned so no treatment was necessary beyond the stitch in his eyebrow.

He came home and seemed to be healing pretty well when his leg really started causing him a lot of pain.  December 16 we returned to the ER and he was ultimately admitted for 4 days for IV antibiotics, bed rest and the chance for the hematoma and deep tissue bruising to heal.  He came home Saturday December 19 and has been doing pretty well.  He needs a walker to move through the house, he still has pain on standing but walking helps that subside.

Christmas preparations took a back seat to sitting in his hospital room, stitching and resting myself.  To say this was stressful is putting it mildly.  It will be several weeks before he can expect to be significantly better and several months before he is back to normal.  He's getting a bit irritable now about being laid up.  Guess that's a good thing...

Our kids and their families arrive starting tomorrow and we are very excited--here is who we are really looking forward to getting our hands on:

Stella, 6 months old now and our wonderful daughter-in-law, Lauren.

This is today--our son is her full-time caregiver and chooses to dress her in his own style, usually black of some kind.  I see a ballet dancer in the making--look at those scrumptious toes!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas--count your blessings, we have so many things to be thankful for!

And oh, yes, let's quilt!


Friday, December 11, 2015

Before and After

Here is the baby quilt I made last week BEFORE washing:

The batting I used is Fusi-Boo, a fusible bamboo, and the package instructions recommended washing before using the finished quilt.  That seemed wise, particularly on a baby quilt, so I did.

Here is the quilt AFTER washing and drying:

 I expected a bit more puckering after washing/drying, but this looks fine to me.

Detail shot of the best quilting.   I like this simple swirl I came up with and hope to improve the center area where the swirls cross on the next quilt.

The hardest thing for me with the free-motion quilting, currently, is choosing how/what designs to use on each project/area.  As I get a few good designs under my belt, I think that will get easier to decide.  The baby won't care...

Let's Quilt!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Another Long-Term Project

In July, 2015, Bonnie Hunter introduced her "Leader/Ender" 2015 Challenge--Tumblers.  I didn't think I would be a fan of this project but I was curious as to how she would easily cut the pieces.

 See How She Does It Here!  I thought that was pretty cool so I zipped off to the store to get my Dresden Plate EZ Tool and started cutting 2.5" strips and squares.  You can make them larger if you want to cover a bed faster.

This project has been sitting by my machine since early July and now I have 13 rows together.  No rush, it gets done while working on other things.  I think of it as "saving thread" and making a "free" quilt.  I'll be teaching the Leader/Ender process this winter at Patches & Stitches--I'm always surprised to learn how  many people aren't familiar with concept.

This is another one of those quilts I would not enjoy making to the exclusion of all else--it would just get to be boring for me.  But this way, I can see progress without getting burnt out.

And, no, I don't try to plan any of the colors--just alternate light and dark pieces.  Can you see the "oops" areas?  In the top photo there are the same 3 green tumblers at the top center--didn't plan that but I'm not changing it either.

Would it drive you nuts to have 2 of the exact same fabrics on top of each other?  Yeah, me, too, BUT I'm not changing it.  Considering how hard it was to find this to photograph, I'm betting when the whole top is together this will be very hard to find.  It happened because I used this fuchsia print as a dark in one row and as a light in another row.  Oh, well, things happen..  One hundred years from now someone will be certain I did this on purpose to prove I'm not perfect--right!?

I'm liking how this is coming along.  Glad I jumped in on this one.

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Lifetime Quilt

The other day I posted about this wonderful antique quilt I have to replicate:

So I got started by making a plan.  The half-square triangles (HST) in the antique finish at 1.25" and that was fine by me.  I thought I would start with 2" squares and sew a very narrow, small seam allowance.  That didn't work out so well--the blocks were a smidge too tiny. I increased the square to 2.25" or even 2.5" if that was the size square I already had cut. Here is the process:

Chain, chain, chain...

Trim precisely

Make units of 4 HSTs

I pressed seams open across the middle seam, do as you like

Yes, I pin a lot with these small units-the pin at the bottom helps keep me straight all the way to the end of the seam
More open seam pressing, again, do as you like
Only 286 more of these blocks to go...

As these fill up, I'll make more 5" blocks, no rush
If you prefer words:

1. Pair up 2 squares, 2.25", place right sides together
2. Draw a diagonal pencil line on the back side of the lightest square.
3. Sew a narrow seam on both sides of the diagonal line.
4. Cut apart on diagonal line.
5. Press toward the darker triangle.
6. Trim to 1.75" precisely.
7. Join 4 HSTs into a block--it should measure 3" raw edge to raw edge.
8. Join 4 of those blocks into a larger block--it should measure 5.5" square, raw edge to raw edge
9. Lather, rinse, repeat...  My plan is to make this quilt 16 x 18 blocks, 80" x 90".

Because this is a Lifetime Project, all I'll do from here on out is cut 2.25" squares of leftover fabrics that I want to incorporate into this quilt.  When I need a "leader/ender", I'll grab 2 paired squares and sew them at the beginning or end of my sewing.  Then I can cut and trim the HSTs as I get time, and throw them into a box or bag until I feel like making more blocks.

If I  had to do nothing but this quilt over and over, I'd hate it before I was close to done.  This way, I just get to play with favorite fabrics over time and eventually it will get done.  Assuming I live that long.  And if I don't, someone else can finish it.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

Here's my annual Antique Quilt photo--this is the treasure I found some years ago at a Trade-Day sale in Scottsboro, AL:

Feathered Wreath with Heart motif quilted in all green squares

A "W" quilted in one area--my husband's last name is Wilkins

A Dragonfly quilted in one area--I am  a Dragonfly fan

In keeping with the Spirit of Giving, I've been clearing away some clutter and have given a dozen small quilts away this week.  Class samples I won't use again, small wallhangings, pieces I know I don't need or want any more.  Some went to guild members who stopped over to pick up something else, some went to people who attended my husband's retirement party yesterday, women he has enjoyed working with over the years.  It was the first time they met me and were surprised and happy to be given a small quilt.  It was fun to give my work away and make a little more room in the closet.  It also gives me "permission " to keep making more quilts--like I really need that permission right?  

Let's Quilt!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Scrap Bag Quilts

I am a sucker for Temecula Quilt Company's mini-quilts--they do one in December each year as well as at least one other earlier in  the year.  This year it's called We Wish You a Mini Christmas.

These tiny blocks are just so cute! They finish at 2.25" so are very fast to make. I'm making 3 of each block since they go so quickly.  I decided to make all 36 blocks from my favorite Scrap Bag:

It's full of old fabrics I've accumulated from my favorite projects as well as a great bunch of fabrics I got in a class years ago--the teacher offered me anything I wanted from her stash bag and I was like a kid in a candy shop--there are a few treasures in there.  It is my go-to bag for bits and pieces.

And I've found a NEW project I HAVE to make:

Today I saw this on the Facebook group Quilts: Vintage and Antique.  A very lucky woman in Pennsylvania (Trina Marie) just found this quilt at a shop for $95.  It's 80" x 82", the half-square triangles are 1.25" finished and it's in pristine condition.  She is so tickled to own this treasure and generously posted lots of photos.  Many people and quite a few experts have commented on what a find she has.  The fabrics may date from as early as 1850 to the late 1800's.  This woman had a DEEP stash bag--a quilter after my very own heart.  I just know I would have really liked her.

One of the classes I'm teaching this winter is "Leaders and Enders", learning to create a second quilt while working on primary projects.  I have 5 quilts I planned to teach--now there is a 6th--this is a great "lifetime" project.  I'll cut pairs of 2 inch squares, draw a pencil line on the back of the lighter fabric and sew a less-than-quarter inch seam allowance.  I use a small stitch so that will work just fine.  Precise measurements would have you cut 2.125" squares and use a quarter inch seam allowance.  You could always use 2.5" squares, and trim the finished HSTs to 1.75" after sewing.  Whatever floats your boat.

Let's Quilt!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Machine Binding

At the retreat a few weeks ago I saw again how to apply a binding completely by machine.  While I enjoy binding by hand, there are those quilts that just need to get done and don't have to have "heirloom quality" bindings:

Two small quilts made from 3"paper-pieced blocks

Detail shot of 2 of the corners--the next ones will be better but you get the idea.

Country Roads quilt-a-long from Lori at Humble Quilts.

So, bearing in mind that "finished is better than perfect", I'm happy to have these done.  Now to finish quilting the baby quilt so I can do that binding by machine too.

The process and binding tool I used came from Franklin Quilt Company.  Thanks, Kathy and Kay, for the tool and hands-on instruction!  They have a video to help you see the process too.  The tool also comes with detailed instructions with photos and also shows how to make a Two-Sided Binding, different fabrics on each side of the quilt.  Check out their video at the link above for more information.   I just have to adjust my edge trimming when I have a design that finishes precisely at the edge of the quilt, so the flange doesn't cover up the outside points.  I don't do that very often because it's more difficult but sometimes a quilt deserves a little extra work.

Let's Quilt!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Quilt-y Day

I don't like it when my studio is a big mess like this:

Every flat surface is piled with stuff as are both chairs--just a big mess.  So, I cleared out and put away most of the stuff that was ready to be put away and got to work machine quilting a few projects.

It's not the best quilting you'll ever see but it's practice that actually get's something done:

Here is the baby quilt I made in the past few days for a grand nephew due soon:

The only quilting left to do is in the perimeter triangles--still pondering what to do there.  The blocks are pretty simply quilted so I decided not to do heavy quilting on the outside edges.  I'll decide tomorrow...

In an effort to get rid of some of all this clutter, I sold  Double Wedding Ring parts I started in 1988.  All the arcs are sewn and and fabric and book were all still together--I just had to find it when a guild member expressed an interest in buying it.  Here's what she came and got today:

She was glad to get it and I was glad to get rid of it.  I hope she finishes it someday, 'cause I know I never would.

I sill have a treadle sewing machine, 29" Hinterberg round quilting hoop on a stand, a Queen size Hinterberg 3-rail solid oak floor frame and my beloved Bernina 1230 to sell.  There is someone interested in the Bernina, we just haven't been able to get together yet.  At the retreat I was told not to let it go for less than $1000, mine is priced less than that.  Just trying to clear out the clutter and free up some floor space since the Q20 came to live here.

Can't let today go by without mentioning my grand-girl Stella turns 6 months old today, and her Daddy, my baby, turns 420 months old today--that's 35 years--how did THAT happen?

I saw a great gift suggestion for kids on Facebook the other day as we think about what to get for our precious girl:  Get something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to READ!  Isn't that a super suggestion?  Now, to go shopping...  And, what could a 6 month old possibly want, except lots of hugs and kisses?

Let's Quilt!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp---Ta Da!

Here they are, all the blocks from Barbara Brackman's Stars in a Time Warp QuiltAlong.

I have about 95--each time I count them I get a different number so I say "about 95".

Barbara Brackman is a quilt historian who has written many books about the subject of quilts and history.  She writes several blogs that are  incredibly full of great information.  During the course of this year, she has used Stars in a Time Warp to educate us about fabrics, quilt patterns, and the history of the times various designs and fabrics were popular.  She has a wealth of information that she shares so freely.  I'm eager to see what she comes up with next.

In many of this year's weekly posts on Stars in a Time Warp, Barbara has included ideas for setting these blocks.  As I made at least two of each block, I've been looking for a set that uses many blocks.  While I'm not sure which set I'll ultimately use, this one feels promising:

I have a John Hewson reproduction panel that might be perfect for the center:

Over the next few weeks, the Stars in a Time Warp blog will feature more setting ideas so I'm keeping my options open.  I also like these:

Hertiage Stars by Lori DeJarnette humblequilts.blogspot.com

An Antique from New Jersey--has been patterned by Sandy Klop

The bottom one uses the Sawtooth Stars as sashing--around larger Star of Bethelem blocks--that might be a challenge.  Time will tell what I decide to do--right now, I have several projects in front of this one so I'm not in a rush.

Next up is a quick baby quilt for a  new great-nephew who is due soon.  I'll be back when that top is done.

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fall Beach Vacation

I love the beach.  My husband does not.  So, when an opportunity came my way to spend a week at Virginia Beach with 8 other professional quilt teachers, I took it.

Here is the house--what's not to love?

The kitchen has two full-size refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and all the things you could want in a great kitchen.  We ate two meals out and the rest of the lunches and dinners we prepared for each other--a great way to share the week and the kitchen duties.

There are two complete laundry rooms, lots of living space on each floor, each of the 8 bedrooms has an on-suite full bath, and there is an elevator--great for bringing the groceries to the 3rd floor.  I spent a little time in the indoor heated pool, walked on the beach a few mornings, and generally loved the sight of the ocean from our various sewing stations.  The lighting was excellent and I got a lot done.

The Blue Collection by  Maggie Walker

English Paper Pieced Diamonds
3" paper pieced blocks

12" String Pieced Lemoyne Star blocks

The Blue Collection applique' project is a Block of the Month I bought in 1998 and the last time I worked on it was 2005.  I am re-energized now to keep going.  My applique' skills are somewhat better now and I am really enjoying this project.  A few other small things got done and I learned a few computer skills I hoped to learn.

My outdoor shots are not so great but here you can see we were across a street from the beach:

East View

South View

 The house shots I opened with come from the Realty website--here is what it looks like when Quilters arrive.

My Last Morning shot

One of our group got up very early each morning and this is what she saw the last day of our vacation, a spectacular sunrise.  Sorry I missed it:

All in all, I had a wonderful week, met new friends and learned more about old friends.  I highly recommend a week at the beach to warm your soul!  Even in November...

Let's Quilt!