Sunday, June 30, 2013

June starts and finishes

  June------ A better month of starts and finishes......
  • The blocks for the Buzz Saw quilt--old NewFO-- are sewn together.   Now to find the border fabric...somewhere in my mess.
  • The Tiara quilter arrived and has been put to good use!  :D
  • NewFO----Small quilt made and quilted for practice.....going to Phoebe.
  • Quilted and finished the watercolor strings quilt....Ripples.
  • Quilting done on the guild challenge quilt.  Ready for binding.
  • Blocks completed for the jewels string quilt.  Ready to be joined.
  • Started flying geese string blocks.....NewFO.....whatever was I thinking!
  • Top constructed for braid demo. New FO that was unexpected.    Dana pinned it , so now I need to finish it!

Guild challenge quilted;  small quilt finished for Phoebe;  Ripples quilted and bound;  jewel string blocks;  flying geese string blocks;  French Braid table runner.

  I feel better after reading that list!  I actually did a lot better than I thought this least I got one finished!
July plans  Here's what I need/plan/want  to do.
  •   Priority one-----Bind, label,  and finish the guild challenge quilt.  
  •   Jeweled string blocks----sew them together into a top.  
  •   Braid table runner----"uncover"  the batting ---again hidden in the mess---and finish this up.
  •   Make more string  geese!
  •   Buzz Saw quilt----- work on the border.    
  •   Start a NewFO----????  It better be a small project!  Actually I have that urge or need to create feeling that is only satisfied by working with a watercolor design.  So that's the plan, now I need a good inspiration  image.  
I'm linking to the NewFO party at Cat Patches......check out what others are up to.    Mrs. Cat Patches is a great enabler to get things rolling, and the cats provide endless entertainment.  I'm thinking she should write a book about Smitty's adventures.
Stay cool ---I'm still sorting through bins and boxes----and happy stitching.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

It is going to take a while....

    Just to let you know, my "whining" of yesterday---so described by my DD---paid off.   Sir Old Man  (with help from  Hunter from next door)  brought the cutting table up to the sewing room this afternoon!   The actual top is not attached, or made yet, but I can live with this.     I have 2 sides to fill and organize....and a place to cut, trim, and pin if necessary!
   Which brings me to my point.  After going through a lot of bin and boxes of strips and leftover pieces, I realize that I am not Bonnie Hunter, aka the scrap queen.  As much as I love scrap quilts,  I am actually tired of seeing the same fabric and same strips, and so on.  I actually caught myself tossing some strips and hunks aside to trash!
   So some serious, and I mean serious, purging is going to happen.  I just found another bunch of orphan blocks and some patterns too.   I will be putting together a few bundles of  strips, squares, orphan blocks, and such.  I will post some info when I am done, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.....and they will be up for grabs for my followers.  
  See a little whining does pay off.....sometimes!  Thank you, Sir Old Man.  Happy stitching.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Killing time

   I'm still waiting to get my sewing room disaster back in shape so I can get to the design wall....... I feel like I am just killing time.  I keep getting the promise of "soon" me that means like yesterday, but apparently "soon"  means something else entirely in the male vocabulary!   Be warned, if he says soon, she needs to hear  when ever.

    I managed to slaughter/use up some more strings.  There are 48 string  blocks ready to be sewn together.  Since they go together in a certain specific way.....I need the design wall.    I tried the floor, but ran out of space.  I  got confused, stepped on a pin, and in general vented to myself  in frustration!

    So I moved on to these.   More strings only in triangle shape and lots of different sizes.   Here's the pin that inspired this one.   I loved the different sizes of the geese, and thought this one could be fun using strings.  Now, if I can only get to the foundation fabric in the cabinet, which has a table and piles of stuff in front of it.......:(   Soon!

  "This killing time, is killing me"!
Happy stitching.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Catching up again

   Once again, I find myself playing catch up and trying to get back to my plans.  I'm glad I got all the baking done on Thursday,  because I  got a call  from our guild Program VP asking if I could help  fill in the  program for Monday night.  I know how hard it is to arrange programs, so I  agreed.

   That meant I needed to dig out the braid quilts.....oh, yeah, her request was the French Braid...get them washed. One was on the wall, one on the guest bed, and the other packed up till winter.
   I also needed a sample project to demo the piecing technique with....that meant digging out fabric and finding a ruler and rotary cutter.    (My sewing room is in the state of chaos/mess/can't find anything  until the cutting table made by Sir Old Man is brought up from the workshop.)

 I spent about an hour looking for a project box that I had set aside for a future braid where to be found.  So I raided the stash closet for floral  fabrics---they were the easiest to reach--- instead to make a short runner as a French Braid sample.  

  Luckily this technique is a quick sew project.  The hardest part is picking the fabrics.  I decided to use a different accent for the small squares rather than the large floral that is the starting 6" square.  I actually like this impromptu unexpected  NewFO for June.

  I had planned to be re-making the Roman shades for the guest room and in the hopefully that will get done this next week!  

And one more doll quilt!
  This one arrived from Jackie, Mrs. Claus in Iowa.  She is representing Hawaii for the HGTV Message Board group of Mrs. Claus participants.  I apologize for being late in getting this posted.
  I love her creative endeavor on this one.  Scrappy squares are top-stitched down on each larger square. I think the colors are so great and the scattered placement is fun!  Thanks so much for helping.

  One week left of June.....exactly where has this year gone?  I feel like I have been standing still and the escalator is passing me by at 100 mph.  I need to get on and get things done!  Happy stitching.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lots of stitches

     I know I went overboard with the thread and stitching on this......but I sure did have a good time doing it!    I think I finally have the hang of it after quilting this challenge quilt.

  I used some leaves and loopy vines to fill in around the appliques, but quickly moved on to some stacked teardrops and feathery things.  With this much thread......who is going  to notice a few missed stitches  :D   And hopefully, Sir Old Man will get the cutting table completed so I can get the binding cut for this one.
 I have a baking day planned for tomorrow.....cookies for Adventure Week for the kids, and cinnamon rolls for the Production Team.   And just maybe I will have time to squeeze in a few minutes for some stitching.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

My learning curve

New machine, new learning curve.
   It was time to change the needle in the quilting machine---she needs a name, but I haven't found it yet.  Easy, I thought, just pop in the needle.  And immediately I began to get a lot of skipped stitches.  This I was sure was operator error.  I checked my threading and noted that the front--facing me-- of the needle was correct with the groove.  Note---on the quilter, the  needles do not have a flat side.  They are completely round at the top.  The long groove in the shaft faces the operator and the scarf indent faces away.
   I re-read the book and saw a mention about the "eye being at 6:00".  I found a video that showed a slick trick--at least to me--on how to set the needle eye correctly.     By inserting a flower head pin into the eye, I quickly saw that the eye was not quite at 6:00.

   By simply loosening the screw, I could twist the needle to exactly 6:00. more skipped stitches.  Such a little tiny adjustment made a huge difference.
   So back to stitching--a little outlining and loops, a few leaf shapes thrown in.   I was getting a little tired and felt like the quilt and I were in a tug of war.  Nothing was moving like I wanted.  Sir Old Man to the rescue with his special car wax that he uses in the shop on the table saw table.   Improvement!!  He has promised another one or two coats to make it slick.

    I got brave enough to try a few feathers afterward.   And then I added some stacked teardrops and before I knew it, half of this quilt is quilted.  
    I am counting myself fortunate that I have had absolutely---knock on wood---no problem with tension.  The bobbin winder works great and I am winding on a medium speed to ensure evenness.  

   One thing I do for large quilts before they are quilted is to stabilize them into sections like Leah Day recommends.  She suggests to machine baste with wash away thread after pinning.  
(Note:  Once the quilt is completely quilted, the basting  thread will dissolve when washed or spritzed with water.)   Then you can begin to stitch any where in the section without the worry of any shifting.    For this quilt with 2 columns  of  applique, I did two basting rows vertically and one across the quilt to create 6 sections to work in.  

  Lastly.....there is the bobbin.  After changing bobbins about 6 times now, I finally have the hang of it I think.  It is the one back-breaking, knee-killing, on the floor to see contortion that is required.  While I can remove and insert the bobbin by feel, I have to be able to see where to clean and to oil.  That means being down on the floor low.  Note to self----pick up a small stool to use in the sewing room for this task.    Believe me, if a real woman/real quilter had designed this, she would have included an auto-clean/auto-change cycle!  
     Insight:  Watch the videos to learn the proper way to do things.... like change a needle!
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Moving on

Some stitching going on...............
   A little binding added and this one really turned out cute. Perfect for that new sewing room with the turquoise walls and red curtains! The background looks muddy in every is a gray and black pebble print :(  But it is just Phoebe's size so she will be comfortable while watching her mommy sew.

  Ripples is quilted and bound, too.  I quilted it with a horizontal meandering stitch like ripples in water. (Thanks Nicki, for pointing me in that direction.) Fancy stitching just does not show on the busy floral fabrics.
  I ran out of bobbin about midway through this one.  Luckily that was an easy fix.

 It's hot and humid here now after so much rain.  Much to hot to enjoy these two for now.   Yet two finishes allow me to move on to another finish to be and begin a new project!
  I am prepping the challenge quilt for going under the needle......details in another post to explain what I am doing.
  New project-----a little change up is in order, so I am planning a arty wall hanging based on a photo.

A link to share:
Here's a link to an article on using the Ruby Beholder at Martingale Blog.   It's not just for creating watercolor quilts, but useful for scrap quilts.  They explain better than I can.
Happy stitching.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Old meets new!

  Looking through the photos from our visit to Michigan,  I made a neat discovery.  I had taken a few photos of a quilt I made for Deana several years ago when she first moved to Charlotte.  I went outside and threw it over the porch railing for a quick photo.   Amazingly, it matches her front door of this new/old house in Michigan.

  It's an old pattern that was quite popular in the 30's...I do not recall the name.  I did an updated version using paper piecing  in turquoise and blue  batiks with a white background.  I love the secondary pattern created by the points.
   Who knew she would move into a house with a matching door over 700 miles away?     That's the screen door that Sir Old Man   is working on to  repair the bottom section.  With the curved arch top, we really think it is original to the house.

On the sewing front:    I'm ready to do some bindings.....before I do anymore  machine quilting.  And I have  to fill some bobbins, and get the next top pinned to go under the needle.    The machine is humming along and the operator is getting the hang of it all.   Learning new tricks is hard work.....but so worth it!  Happy stitching.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's a Tiara Quilting Machine

    OK, I got the was late and time for dinner yesterday when I put out the tease from my iphone----did you know you could do that with the Blogger App?  Anyway, all the boxes arrived a day earlier than expected and it was late in the day when we got the Tiara set up.   It's a sit-down quilting machine.  It is not on a track system.....I still move the fabric.

   Sir Old Man was in his element putting the extra pieces on.....the touch pad screen, and installing the open toe hopping foot.  He "let" me change the needle.....necessary, and fairly easy to do.  The table is already put together....just extend the legs and it is ready to go.   I also got the overlay that covers the table is slicker for ease of moving the quilt top.  

    She comes with a separate bobbin winder......class M large ones.  I figured that out, too.  A correctly wound bobbin is described as very important for good stitches.  I fully expected to have to play around with the tension---top or bottom---when I did the first test run.  That's why I was so amazed.....the stitches were so beautiful, right out of the box with no adjustment needed.  
    So this morning I threw together a little quilt---it will be for Phoebe, the Jack Russell, and it matches Deana's sewing room.  This practice piece is about 30 " by 36".    I just practiced some swirls in the gray areas.  I checked the stitch counter....about 21000 stitches!   I switched over to Isacord thread for this one with no problems and no adjustments!    
 I do not have the "claustrophobia" feeling when using it, and that is a good thing. .  There is good space (I will add side tables for support for large quilts).  The head of the machine is in the back and  I am stitching from the opposite end.  The threading pattern is just a bit different but not a problem;  it will just take getting use to it.  A little learning curve to get use to not having a needle threader :(   I think I will survive.  
 As a side note.....the Tiara is sold by Babylock..... it is the same machine as the Handi-quilter Sweet 16.  

   We need to move this table out of the sewing room and shift the another one around for some temporary cutting space.  Sir Old Man is feeling the pressure to get the cutting/storage table finished!  
So.... thank you my friends, (you know who you are),  who were encouraging and helpful with information about the machine.  I so appreciate it!  Now, if you will excuse me, I have a quilt that is calling me for stitches.  I will come out later, after I play a while.  Happy stitching.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Out of the box.   First test sample    Tension is so good.  Later.  

Some assembly required

 Buzz Saw blocks assembled for the center section!  I apologize  for the is pouring rain outside, so I threw the top over the bed.  The colors are great and wow, this thing is big.
  The borders still must be added.....but they may have to wait a while.  There are 3 boxes arriving today that will require some attention and a little assembly  :)

  As a side note.....has anyone else noticed that favorite blogs are not being picked up on the dashboard reader?  I have noticed several and I am finding the same problem now on Bloglovin'.  What a pain to switch back and forth.  I am also trying Feedly to see if things are better there.
  Happy stitching.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Knitted scarf, please

  For all you knitters out there..............
    While we were in Michigan, Deana showed me her latest scarf that she knitted up from all her left over sock yarns.  I just love it!  A rainbow of fabulous colors that is over 6 feet long.    I don't know the pattern or stitch, but I put my order in for one that is shorter....if she finds time.


   She insisted that I use Nickolas, the Whippet, for a model.  Isn't he a perfect one with that long neck?  Of course, he got payment in the shape of a cookie treat for the effort.
   One the sewing front......the buzz saw blocks are being joined this week.  When I get that accomplished, I need to begin to move things around.  I am expecting a delivery on Friday.  Trying to stay focused rather than just be excited....but I can hardly wait!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Quilt Tale 2013

  Quilts have stories.....about the maker, about the recipient,  about the journey, about the subject, or about the process.   That's why I create such involved labels and include the story behind the quilt.   I love finding out about the Quilt Tales, as I call them.
  This Quilt Tale has a lesson learned, and a memory  preserved to it.
   I had an email from Nicki, Mrs. Claus from Texas (and a huge help to me in the doll quilt project), about a batik backing she was concerned over.
   " I'm making a memory quilt for a friend of mine out of some of her dad's old shirts & I bought a dark (navy) batik for the back.  I washed it twice in hot water with Retayne (a color fixative to stop the bleed of fabrics) and color catchers.  The fabric faded both times I washed it.  Now here is my question.  I always like to wash my quilts after I make them and before I give them away.  I'm sooo afraid that the backing is going to fade again & bleed off on the front (there is a lot of white on white fabric on the front) if I wash it. "
 So in my best opinion, I told her she had done all the right things, and to go for it and hope for the best.  As a side note, in the latest issue of Quiltmaker magazine there is an article about the batik making process.  Batiks go through multiple dying processes, as well as wax stamping, more dying, and then boiling.  

First moral:  Depending on the type of dye  and the rest of the process, we need to use care to avoid the bleeding that can occur when we wash batik  fabrics.  The quilt is worth the effort.

The rest of the story..........  This is a close up of the quilt front Nicki made.
A friendship block variation using a Father's shirts.   I think it is a perfect block for this very special memory quilt.

 Nicki said in a later email,
    My friend came to the office today & I gave her the quilt & she absolutely loved it.  There were tears shed as she quietly touched the blocks & lovingly just remembered her Dad.  What an honor & joy it was to make this quilt for her & to see & feel her reaction when she saw it.  I'm so glad I finished it before Father's Day for her.
  What a wonderful gift to remember a father by.

The second moral:   What we make with our hands, is a gift of our heart.   I think Dad is smiling, too.

  And that backing that started this it is, a beautiful batik.   And no more bleeding after being washed!    See the pocket Nicki added on the back to hold the label. It looks like more of one of the shirt fabrics.  It holds the label she made using one of the father's  handkerchiefs.   The quilt finished at  44" by 59" ---a perfect throw size lap quilt.  

Third moral:  Label those quilts!

A wonderful quilt, Nicki, and thank you so much for allowing me to share this Quilt Tale.
Happy stitching.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Trip and inspirations

Batteries least on the camera.  It may take another day or two for me!
I was fascinated by the barns along the interstate as we drove through Ohio, especially.  I loved the weathered appearance, and the shapes.  Such interesting angles and roof lines.  I spotted a couple with quilt blocks on them even, but zipping along at 70 mph made photo taking a little bit difficult.

  We made a detour stop in Bluffton at a quilt shop---Forever in Stitches.  This mural was painted on the side of the outside of the shop building.  A very cute town and great quilt shop.
  I rarely buy patterns....but  I did pick this one up along with the ruler, and a few fat quarters.  The spools quilt uses rectangles instead of squares ----a neat variation---and should be great done as a scrap quilt.  Of course, I found some floral fabrics to add to the stash.

   One of the places I asked to see in Detroit was the Fisher building.  It's a National Historic Landmark, built in the Art Deco style.  Originally it was to be 2  towers, but only one was completed due to the Depression of the 1920's.  Today it has offices, shops, and the Fisher Theater.
   The main entry is eye-popping design.  Quilt patterns everywhere I looked!
 Hexagons here too!


   There were mosaic tile designs on the walls and ceilings.  Carved limestone details on columns and cornice work.  Brass and copper designs in the elevators and door handles.  An absolute treasure trove of inspiration.  I am so in awe of the craftsmen that  put their talents into this masterpiece.

   After lunch it was a visit to a couple of antique shops and a quilt shop.   Yep, more floral fabrics!  I always have my eye out for good light value florals, and I did find one, but the others were just crying to come home with me.  I think it will be time to put away the scraps and cut into some flowers this summer!

Oh...yes....the yard sale find of a fabulous hexagon quilt top.  The full story is I almost passed it by.  I don't do hexies, and I am not into depression era quilts.  Then my daughter said, "You could finish it for me for the guest room.  It would fit in perfectly."  What's a Mom to do?
    She and Trey have a darling
1926 Bungalow style home now....with tin ceilings, knotty pine storage, and arts and crafts style details through out. .   And I could not bear to have this quilt top waste away.  So for $12,  it came home with us.........but how will I finish it off?

   I zipped a photo or two to Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville, the hexie guru.   Bonnie replied that the fabrics were from the 30's and 40's and encouraged me to complete it ---even with machine quilting.  Binding?  Look to the flower centers or setting, she said.  
   And that is when the light bulb went off in my head and I knew how to finish it off and save the scalloped sides.   You can see that the top and bottom edge of the quilt top is a straight row, but the sides have that lovely scalloped effect with the piecing.  If  I was to straighten the sides, so much of it would be lost.  I have to get some things rolling and I will share my plans later.
 Thank you , Bonnie, for some insight and encouragement.

Insight:   Inspiration is there....just look for it!

Happy stitching. 

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