Wednesday, May 12, 2021

In the Works

 At night I like to have hand work I can stitch on, to help me stay awake until the late news.

Here is a small quilt I hand-pieced and am now hand-quilting. Wool batting is so luscious for quilting:

Hexie Stars

Recently I started quilting "Hummingbird Hollow", the variation of Afternoon Delight my friend Janet came up with. Still have to decide what curvy design I want in the white squares and if I want to do any curvy quilting in the floral blocks--they do have cross hatch quilting through them:

Hummingbird Hollow in quilting process

When I think about gifting a quilt to a friend, this is why I want them to have a quilt I made:

A big project of Secret Sewing has just begun that has kept me VERY busy the past week and will occupy most of my time for the foreseeable future. Can't share but it's really good.

What are YOU working on? I hope it's something fun and enjoyable. 

Let's quilt.

Barbara

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Books I Love

Buying printed quilt books has become less popular in recent years. Several publishing houses have gone out of business. When I have a big sale of my stuff, books are hardly given a glance, even though older books provide much more reference material than current books.

 Here are four books I love and turn to frequently. If I had to pare my library down to the few I absolutely couldn't do without, here they are :


In no particular order:

1. The Art of Classic Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig


I often tell beginning students if I could only keep one of my more than 350 books, this is the ONE I would keep. For all the great reference information it provides. This Chapter is on Calculating Yardage: 

There are LOTS of color photos of great quilts--this is one of my most favorite in this book: Sage Tracks. I would like to make this some day. It is used as an example of different Settings and the pattern is not in the book, but I can figure it out:

2. Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, Third Edition by Barbara Brackman:


This is one book I think every quiltmaker should have, especially if you love to piece as I do. It provides more than 4000 patterns, the historical names for them, when and where they were first published. A wealth of information. This edition introduces color sketches of the blocks which can really help you "see" the design in ways you might miss with a black and white sketch.


There is also a stand-alone software version of this book for your computer, both PC and MAC called Block Base +. It allows you to print out any of these blocks in any size you like. It can be used with Electric Quilt, a quilt design software I would be lost without, but it does not have to be used with EQ--it works separately. 

3. The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer:


I love complex pieced patterns with lots of pieces. Again, more than 4000 blocks. I sit for some time, just turning the pages, making a list of potential blocks for new quilt designs.  It also provides historical information for each block and color sketches as well as drawn line designs: 

Included are two transparency overlays that allow you to see exactly how the blocks are constructed. This is especially helpful for  newer quilters who are not familiar with 5-patch and 7-patch designs. 

4. Let's Stitch a Block a Day, 365 Quilt Block Designs by Natalia Bonner:


I have had my Bernina Q20 sit-down longarm for more than 5 years. I love Ruler Work and have learned a lot from Natalia on YouTube and through her books. I debated too long about buying this book but am glad I did. It is now the first place I look when considering potential designs for quilting: 

Because this is the 21st century, see those QR codes on the pages?  Hover your phone/tablet camera over the one you want and you are taken directly to a short video of that block being stitched. Natalia offered these videos free, one a day for a year, then decided to create this book to save them all in one place. Brilliant!

I can see at a glance a wide variety of designs in a variety of shapes. Very helpful as I master my favorite designs.

Be aware as you search for used books online, sometimes they are priced WAY HIGH on Amazon and other 3rd party resellers. I found a used copy of Jinny Beyer's book online for $104 OR you can buy it directly from the publisher for $49. If a book is out of print, I often contact the author first to see if they have any on hand--often, they do.

And when buying from a 3rd party--do your research. You can find The Art of Classic Quiltmaking online, for less than $20, only to discover when it arrives it is a reprint and only the cover is in color, the entire inside pages are all black and white. Buyer beware.

It's no surprise to me that I am a huge fan of these 5 women, all have added a lot to my quiltmaking journey. I am pleased that I know 4 of them personally and hope to meet Natalia one day, to thank her for what she brings to the quilt world.

If you've been a quilter for years, you probably have your favorite books too. What are they?

Let's quilt.

Barbara


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Changes and Dodging a Bullet

This is a quilt I made almost 25 years ago. It is an off-center Log Cabin, begun in a workshop with Jane Hall in 1995, finished in 1997. It's about 30" square:


The other day one of the Sunday Sew and Sews asked about it as it has been hanging on a rod in my studio for about 20 years.  I took it off the rod to show them and it was SO DUSTY! Embarrassing! This baby needed a bath.

After pulling a big collection of fabrics for a new project, I thought I'd better pre-wash the darkest ones. Here is the complete collection, give or take a few: 


Here are the darkest fabrics, after pre-washing:


What is the problem, you say? I washed the quilt in with these DARK fabrics and FORGOT to add a Color Catcher! I only realized that after the load was washed and I was putting everything in the dryer. I quickly grabbed the quilt and studied it for signs of bleeding fabrics on the white logs of the quilt. 

I must be living right because there was no bleeding anywhere and all the fabrics and  the quilt look fine. Sheesh! I won't try that trick again.

 I enjoy writing this Blog--begun December 31, 2011. It serves as my Diary/Journal and a way to teach what I know how to do to others who want to learn that stuff.

We are approaching 3200 followers. Most of those follow by email--using the built-in email subscription service that came with Blogger, the base platform for blogspot.com blogs. Recently, we were notified that in July 2021, Feedburner, that subscription service, would be going away. 

Thousands of us who use Blogspot.com to publish our blogs are looking for solutions. Some come at a cost to me--something I don't want to use. I have not monetized this Blog, so there are no ads for you to close or skip past, and I don't want there to be. But if I had to pay $50-100/month to provide access to an email subscription, that money would  have to come from somewhere.

So, at the moment, this is what I know are your options if you currently follow this Blog by email:

1. Use Bloglovin.com to follow all the blogs you like to follow. I use this and have been very happy with it. Daily I get an email showing me a few of the blogs I follow that have a new post. I go to My Feed on bloglovin.com, an account I set up there, and can read through any new blogs that are posted. I can see the info in a simple format or open the Original Post to have access to all the sidebars and Comments section. Free to me and the bloggers. I have a link right here for you to use to go to Bloglovin.com. Currently, almost 740 of you follow this Blog that way.

2. Use Feedly.com--the same process as Bloglovin'. The free version allows you to have 100 blogs in your account. I have not used it but almost 100 of you do.

3. If you have a Google account, like if you use Gmail.com, you can follow with Blogger--there is a Follow link right here for that. Currently, over 270 of you use this method. I don't know much about it but am guessing it's very similar to the two methods above.

4. OR you could remember to come to this Blog every Wednesday and Sunday, when I usually post, to read the new Blog. Personally, since I follow at least 50 blogs, that would take me a lot of time to do. Some of those post daily, some weekly, some hardly ever. Most I would forget to go look at and would surely miss a lot of quilt-related information I don't want to miss.

As new solutions become available, I will let you know about them. Until July, those who follow by email won't see any change. After July 1, POOF!--I might be gone from your inbox and I would truly miss you. 

Any of you who know of solutions to this--which will effect many thousands of Bloggers who use Blogspot.com, please Comment Below with your suggestion. Thanks!

Let's quilt.

Barbara

Friday, April 30, 2021

COLOR MY WORLD--MONTH 5--THE ROADS

 It's finally here--time to make the Inner and Upper Roads so we can join the entire center of Color My World into a complete circle!

Are you Ready? This is my friend Pam's Small House border on the wall with her Compass/Inner Road center on top. I asked Pam to make the Inner Road  ahead of time, so I could use hers to demo the steps for you in this Blog, the Supplemental Video and the LIVE broadcast. Thanks, Pam!

Mine,  laying on a bed:


The pattern instructions are  very good so you should be able to follow them easily. There are also  TWO VIDEOS to help you. Take the time to read the pattern, this blog and watch both Videos. 

Here are the various parts of the INNER ROAD laid out. There are also solid black wedges, not shown here--they alternate with the black/white wedges in each arc: 

If you are paper piecing with regular paper, not freezer paper, you will need 8 Inner Road arcs. I printed 3 copies of the arc, pasted them on a sheet of copy paper, and can now print only 3 sheets of paper to get all 8 of the arc patterns:
For the Upper Road, you can get 2 arcs on a sheet of paper and need 16 arcs so that will take 8 sheets of paper: 


NOTICE that on each sheet of paper, I included the 1" SCALE BOX so I could be certain the arcs printed the correct size.

If you are using freezer paper, as I did, you really don't need more than two of each arc, using them repeatedly until you have 8 Inner Roads and 16 Upper Roads. Use more if you prefer.

Make one Road completely before making the second. The sizes are similar but NOT THE SAME so it would be easy to get the units confused. I made the Inner Road, then the Upper Road. 

To be sure I could easily tell which is the TOP side, I used a chalk pencil to draw a little line in the seam allowance of the wedges: 


Make each arc carefully, aligning the Guideline on the Inner Road Template in the center of the white fabric. This is shown clearly in Step 4 of the Pattern Instructions. 

I recommend you use a stitch length no longer than 2.0 so the seams don't come apart as you are joining them to the Compass and Small Houses--there is a lot of handling these arcs as they are pinned and then sewn to the other parts of the center. Even better, backstitch at the beginning and end of EACH seam while making the arcs. It's no fun when the seams start to pop open as you are pinning the circle in place.

Once the pieces are sewn into an arc, using the paper pattern, trim as carefully as possible so the edge of the fabric is at the edge of the paper pattern. It is now ESSENTIAL that you SEW AN ACCURATE 1/4" SEAM ALLOWANCE, as you join the arcs into a complete circle. Take your time and sew as accurately as you are able, from the top of each seam to the bottom, straight and accurate all the way down-- AND BACKSTITCH. I pressed the SEAMS OPEN as I joined the arcs together. You can press ALL THE SEAMS open if you like.  

SEWING THE INNER ROAD TO THE MARINER'S COMPASS: 

Your Mariner's Compass should be 14.5" in all directions, including seam allowance. Double check this now before starting to pin the Inner Road to the Compass. 

Once you have all 8 Inner Road Arcs sewn into a circle, it it time to join them to the Mariner's Compass center. Start with the compass flat on the table and pin the Inner Road ON TOP OF the Compass.

Take your time and pin, pin, pin. Most seams of the sewn together arcs match a point on the outside edge of the Mariner's Compass.  Start at North, East, South, and West, then again halfway between those points to get the Inner Road to nicely fit to the Compass:


NOTICE: I placed the pins horizontally at the place where a Compass point is underneath--so I can be sure to keep that point seam laying flat, either open or to the side, depending on how the Compass was made. I placed the pins vertically where there was no point underneath, just to keep the edges aligned.

Now, SEW SLOWLY! Using a stiletto or the point of a seam ripper, try to keep the two edges aligned as you sew from each pin to the next.  TAKE YOUR TIME--it's not a race and sewing slowly will get the job done accurately. The process of pinning and sewing the Inner Road took me close to an hour and the Upper Road took somewhat more than an hour. 

PRESS TOWARD THE INNER ROAD.

The accomplishment comes when you take your Compass/Inner Road out of the machine and IT FITS! Do a HAPPY DANCE and congratulate yourself. 

This is my friend Pam's center and Inner Road that I sewed. It came out perfectly. The Inner Road is 2" wide finished so this center now is 18.5" all across, including the seam allowances.  She gets to do all the remaining sewing!



Back to the Process, describing how I made my sample quilt last Summer: 

BIG TIP--it will REALLY HELP to keep the seams closed if you STAYSTITCH the edges of the ring of Small Houses, both the outside and inside circles. Staystitching means to sew a line of stitching within the seam allowance, about 1/8" in, working with the wrong side up so you can see the seams. 


After I had the Compass/Inner Road done, I made the Upper Road and attached it to the OUTSIDE EDGE OF THE SMALL HOUSES RING. It is a BIG CIRCLE and takes time to do. I even did it the day after the Compass/Inner Ring since it takes a lot of careful pinning/sewing to complete successfully.  Have the Small Houses ring flat on he table and the Upper Road on top, right sides together.

PRESS TOWARD THE UPPER ROAD.


Then I joined the RING OF SMALL HOUSES to the INNER ROAD. For me, this  was the best order of sewing--it allowed me to handle the BIG CIRCLE without having the Compass/Inner Road already in place. This is also the order Wendy Williams tells you to join these sections in her instructions.

Again, you will pin the arc seams to small house seams, matching all the way around. Have the Inner Road/Compass  flat on the table and PIN THE LOWER EDGE OF THE SMALL HOUSES TO THE INNER ROAD--the SMALL HOUSES ARE ON TOP, face down.

PRESS TOWARD THE INNER ROAD--or OUT toward the Small Houses, if you prefer .

What if things don't line up? By pinning each seam of the Roads to a matching place on the Compass and Small Houses, you only have to "EASE TO FIT" for a short distance.  This is especially true of the INNER ROAD/COMPASS connection. Don't push the problem ahead, getting more and more off course. Sew carefully from one seam to the next. Use as many pins as needed to keep things in place.

On the UPPER ROAD, there are not as many seams to align. Here is a closeup of mine and I want you to see that the treetops are not perfect at the seams. I am OK with this. From any distance at all they look just fine. The connection on the left is pretty close to spot on, the one on the right, not so much:


You get to decide how perfect your quilt has to be. The finished Center should be 43.5", including seam allowances, when it is complete, including both Roads. As long as yours is "close"--less than 1/4" off in either direction, you'll be fine. You can "ease to fit" when joining the very large outer ring of Tall Buildings much later.

My BEST ADVICE this month: DON'T BE IN A HURRY. Take your time as you complete this month's work. You have a lot invested to this point and once you  have a complete center you are happy with, all the time you spent so far will have been worth it. 

And the REST IS GRAVY! By that I mean: the Tall Buildings yet to come will not be as difficult as the effort so far. Partly because you know what you're doing and partly because there is a lot of repetition and most of the pieces are larger than the Small House pieces.

Next Month we make Tall Building 1, left and right, 4 of each. 

Let's quilt. 

Barbara

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Spring Has Sprung!

Non-quilty post--unless you see all the colors that make beautiful quilts too.

Spring is my favorite time of year, especially in my garden. My favorite flowers are in bloom, it's not too hot to walk around and enjoy them, and rains make it a bit easier to weed the beds,

Here are some shots of my yard currently:

Near the pond

Near the pond

Nelly Moser clematis

Bed in front of the pond
Some of the pond

More of the pond


Blackberries come Summer


Bed in front yard

Corner of bed in front yard

Bed in front yard

My MOST favorite iris


Path to the front door


Mexican Heather will bloom in another month


The latest Barn quilt--a surprise

Want Lenten Rose seeds? In another month there will be thousands 

Sadly, my husband cut down the two ornamental cherry trees a month ago. They had a disease for several years that defied treatment and caused the leaves to dry up and drop off in July, looking like dead trees for most of the year. But I do miss this spectacular sight:


Front Yard


Side Yard


And I am too late for the forsythia--this was a month ago. It all started with one small plant given to our son Andy for his baptism in 1981. We have moved cuttings of it to all the homes since then, ours and his. So pretty in early March when Spring is just getting started:


Now, let's quilt.

Barbara





Sunday, April 25, 2021

Love Beginning Quilters

 I just finished teaching a 3 week Learn to Quilt--Fast and Fun class locally. We had 11 students, about half of whom were totally new to quilting. The class was  held at Sweet Home Quilting.

My sample gives you the idea--simple 9-patch blocks, the basics of Cutting, Sewing and Pressing, and then how to assemble a quilt top, and the basics of how to complete the quilt, whether you want to quilt it yourself or "quilt by checkbook"--i.e., pay someone to quilt it for you:

Approx. 38" x 48"

The students who attended the last class are on their way:

Mother/Daughter team Tori showing hers

Tori showing her mom's Inez

Kim is making a bed size for her son



Pat was told what colors to use for this baby quilt

Shelia made great strides in class

Joyce loves playing with bright fabrics


I can always tell a class is successful when the students all say "What's your next class?" I showed them several options I am thinking of offering in a couple months and there was great interest. Love to see the excitement in a new quilter as she realizes "I can DO that!"

Let's quilt.

Barbara