Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January was full!

   And I have a couple of finishes!  A small one first.....the watercolor banner or table runner.  I had intended to add some applique and then changed my mind.  Adrift is plain and simple.
  I began both of these last year.  November...here is the post  as they were completed as tops.

    Pineapple Profusion got bound.  I actually began the blocks in September and October.....here is that post.  So after a white it was just time to get it done.
   The finish size is 48'' by 62''....nice throw size.    I used 2'' floral strips for the construction and the pattern is from Quiltville.com.  It's  the Pineapple Blossom  pattern.

    The center section is quilted with swirls all over, and the plain outer border is done in endless feathers.

The Therapy Quilt was a finish early this month......here is that post.   I feel like this is cheating to call it a 2017 finish.....it was 90% done and just needed border quilting and binding.

   The second half of the Quilty 365 circles were joined into a top and now just need borders and quilting.  I have to admit, just looking at these 2--- quilt and top---just make me smile.  Each circle represents a day in my life.  Some are precious memories, and some represent loved ones.   The Therapy Quilt is loaded with pain and struggle, determination and stubbornness.   Each day here is a miracle, and that is why I smile.

  The rest of the month was filled with lots of bits and pieces of things I started.....the coffee cup wall hanging for the kitchen, string blocks, soul searching block in purple (for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge),  a bargello top,  batik squares in a block,  mug rugs, table runner, and more 9 patch blocks.

   Some days I made only one block, other days I went on over load and made dozens.  It all depended on my energy level.    Reviewing all of this makes me feel I really did accomplish things!   And I got to scratch a lot off my list.....which means I need to get a February plan in place.    Here's to keeping the list full......happy stitching.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Endless Feathers and details

   I have done posts before about the endless feathers.   After my last post I had a few emails about how to make the feather curve, and how to turn the corner.  So rather than repeat myself over and over, here are the details.

   From 2013, part 1 is about drawing the feathers....here.   I know that sounds like a bad word....draw the plumes over and over.  That is where you will develop muscle memory, which is your brain doing the work and telling your hand what to do.

  Part 2 is an extension on drawing the feathers with  several diagrams as a guide.   These are the steps I used for teaching the feathers class.  The students had to draw for 30 minutes before I let them turn on the machines!  Yes, they complained but in the end most were very successful.

  How to make the feather curve:   First, note that there  is no spine to these feathers, only an imagined one.  Each plume comes from the center (where you would look for the spine) and returns to the center.  Look close and you can see how the short plumes move up one side of  a plume from the opposite side.
  Second, I get to a point where I want to create a curve.  To do this I make a longer plume to wrap around the short section......and do a bump-back plume to circle all the way around and back to attach to the "imagined spine"  which is where the needle is in the photo.

   This photo shows the completed feather.  The long curved plume became the center spine for the short plumes on the opposite side.
  I know this is clear as mud....I am trying:)

  Feathers can turn a corner easily.  The longer plume to create the curve does the work.  Once you get the inner plume around the corner, begin adding plumes on the opposite side.
  The outer side will have more individual plumes to get around the corner.  I like to vary the size---large and small lengths.  Just be sure to keep the base narrow and tapered when it attaches.

   And then continue on....and on.  Remember these can be endless!  

  I continued to break up the sections as I went around the border on the pineapple blossom quilt.   I ended the feather with a loop and curl and then did the fill in section.  

And now I have the binding to do......I will get a finish out of this!  Thanks for the questions and hope I explained it well enough.  Happy stitching.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

FMQ for the border

  The border was awaiting some stitching on the pineapple blossom quilt.  It kept asking for feathers, and I kept saying "Really?"
  I wanted just a little something different, but knew I needed to practice those feathers after months of not stitching.    I am expected to teach a class in a few months, and I preach practice, practice, practice.

  So can you see what I did?  A section of endless style feathers---those with no-spine and then a diagonal division of sorts.  This section is filled with pebbles....please don't laugh too loudly.  The pebbles around here are irregular and chipped usually, so that is what I was duplicating 😉    This part looks pretty good.

Here's another diagonal slice with a different fill....just wiggle lines.   I just drew on diagonal lines about 1 1 1/2'' apart.  I only used the ruler for the drawing part and the stitching was done free hand, so there is a slight wobble.  

  This was actually the first section of feathers and I was getting back my muscle memory and did a few poor/goofs for stitches.  I chose to keep on going.....a good wash will help hide them.  

  So for today, I got half way around and decided that was enough for now.    We have errands to run tomorrow, so I will finish stitching this over the weekend.  I finished up about 10 more blocks while watching part of quilt-cam with Bonnie Hunter last night.  My stack is growing and the bins seem just as full.....but not as full as the one Bonnie showed.

  I have a new snipping tool app on my computer and I captured this block from a pin I saw recently.  ( I needed to play with it.)   The page link is broken for this pin, so I can't give credit for it.  
   It is simple enough and Valentine's Day is approaching, so I think most of us can figure it out.    A (two patch + strip) = center.  Center +  4 corner triangles = one unit.  Repeat 4 times.  I am sure a math teacher can create a better equation, but you get the idea.
Great for a mug rug for gift, or turn it into a table runner for dinner.    Yikes....time to start dinner.  Happy stitching.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Of Squares and Strings

   String blocks continue.  I ran out of cut telephone pages and thought to go look for my basket of very thin, very light weight shirting fabrics.  Found it.....pushed to the back of the bottom cabinet behind the scrap bin of batting parts.  I am no longer good at standing on my head to search for things.....not that I ever was, but even worse now...lol.  I was given yards and yards of off cuts from men's shirting fabric several years ago.  It is perfect for string foundations.  

   I had questions about all the paper on the first sets of string blocks.  The telephone book pages come away easily....with a tiny stitch  it almost slips off.   The down side to using paper, besides having to tear it off, is the possibility of stretching on the edges.  A row of stay stitching around the  4 edges will prevent that.

   Here are two blocks with different width strips in the center diagonal.  The narrow one looks the nicest to me.  The narrow strip is probably 1'' to 1 1/4'' wide.  The wider strip is probably 1 1/2'' to almost 2''.   I don't really like them mixed together, so I will be careful how I place the narrow strip blocks /wider strip blocks together.   They should go into different projects probably.

   The last thing on my to-do list for the month involved squares...batik squares of
 2 1/2''.  I purchased a set of batik squares earlier last year from Wanda at  Exuberant Color, and I have been wanting  to create something with them.
  I started on the design wall and began placing them by color family.....very much as I did before in Wonder of Color. 

    Needless to say, I was not happy with the repeat.  So thought maybe shaded block units would be a better thing to experiment with.  Then I thought why not change the size of the units to a rectangular size.  So I decided to play with that option.    I cut interfacing to size for 5 rows and 3 columns.  Here's the first colorwash group of greens from my stash pieces.   Now to fuse and stitch.

   Then again  after sewing and pressing.   I'm not sure yet how I will set this together, but for right now I will enjoy just playing with a few color families to see how I like them.  These units could always turn into a table runner or narrow banner.
   I think I will play with purple next....that is this month's color :)   And it is about building up parts to complete a whole top/quilt.  Not every quilt begins as a full plan for me, and so I choose to enjoy the adventure that is created by experimenting and playing.  

  Happy stitching.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Rainy weekend

    Much rain for the weekend equals lots of stitching time.    No time like the present to start machine quilting on the next in line.
  This is the back side of the pineapple blossom quilt.  Note the plain muslin backing.  While I love the beautiful wide backing fabrics we have available, I do not like the cost.  When I catch some on sale I buy, but not every quilt will get the pricey fabric.   This piece was the last of my bolt of 90'' wide bleached muslin and was just enough.  I switched to 90'' wide as a general rule for purchase---with the 50% off coupon--- because I found I was wasting so much fabric from the 108''-114'' wide fabrics.  I  make smaller quilts/throw size, and I don't need the extra width for  backing for a long arm machine either.  I will purchase wider fabric backings as needed, just not for the giveaway and donation quilts.

   Back to the quilt....here's from the front....swirls and curls all over.   This has always been my go to pattern.  It blends everything together and is not too dense, so it keeps the quilt soft.  And with all these floral prints, detail quilting would not be noticed.  I have the border in a neutral to do.......that can have a few feathers on it maybe.  This corner ---with a bad match---has the label on back.

    I made the label and stitched it directly to the backing before I pinned the quilt.    Then on with the quilting, right thru the label.    It is harder than ever for me to grip a needle, so I was seeking a simple solution for adding the label securely.  This  worked out well for this one.

Happy stitching.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Starting one more

   I am bad.....starting a new sew along/block a month.  I wasn't going to do this.   But I keep seeing so many great blocks each month, and this month is purple, and I wanted to make this quilt "Soul Searching".   Or at least that is what I keep telling myself.....excuses to convince myself I am not jumping in over my head.  So the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is going on at  Scraphappy blog.    Please join me being insane:)

   And I have a purple block for this month.  I am not going over board, but one block won't hurt, will it?
I adjusted the Soul Searching block size for 2'' strips instead of the 2 1/2''.  It is large enough at this size, as it ends up at 18''.  A dozen of these will be a big enough quilt.
  Note:  The quilt is found in Making Quilts by Kathy Doughty.

Continuing string blocks.......
I made 4 more string blocks while putting this one together.   Comments indicate there are several of us working or planning some string creation this year.  I am using it as a leader/ender project to build up a stash of string blocks for instant gratification when I get inspired.
  Questions arose......I do prefer using fabric for my foundation, but have done about 30 so far on phone book pages.  The paper almost falls away as the pages are so thin.  An evening of watching TV shows and all the paper will be history.
     I had to root around to find the old, very thin fabric I use for foundations usually.  I found the basket shoved behind some batting leftovers.  So this weekend I will get some pieces cut for this next batch of strings.

Jumping up and down today.....Sir Old Man found a guy who got my computer functioning again.  It was locking up and driving me crazy.  They also got my back-up straightened out and I feel safe again.    Relief.  Happy stitching.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

De-stash with string piecing

  I caught Bonnie Hunter's Quilt-Cam on Sunday afternoon.  It was a short version but always fun.  In between her latest news/adventures she was doing some string pieced blocks she intended to use for a border.  So when I need some relaxing mindless sewing I tend to do string blocks too.

  I have done string blocks in various sizes, and color ways, and many different layouts.  

  •  Shaded floral strips to create light and dark blocks.  
  • Color family  blocks with black strip dividing each block.  For a line drawing to plan this one  here is the post. 
  •  Shaded colors to create butterfly wings. 
  • Leftover random string blocks joined for a quick quilt.  
  • More floral strings with sashing to form window panes.   

     I do not have a specific project in mind for these, but did like the suggestion that Bonnie gave about the center string.  She was using various red strings in the center---corner to corner to begin.  She was mixing widths, but many commented that a narrow or single width might be best and eye-pleasing.
I am experimenting with 2 sizes of strings to begin.   One set I will use narrow dark strings, and the second group is getting random width dark strings.  I am hoping to empty--maybe--one bin and have it more a controlled mess as string blocks.

  I am using old phone book pages as foundations this time.  I often/usually use muslin or old light weight fabric.  But the fabric does add weight to the quilts overall, so I just decided to shorten my stitch length to tiny and sew on paper.  I also prepped by using a glue stick to hold the center starting fabric in place, since that first piece likes to slip and slide on me.
Happy stitching. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

From this to this!

  I showed this set of strips last week.....unsewn.   I should say that I used 27 different floral fabrics to build the strata from dark to light.  I only used one width of fabric cut.  Although some fabrics were FQ and I did have to sew a couple of cuts together to get close to the full width.    I made random sub-cuts in widths from 2 1/2'' , 2'', and  1 1/2''.    So from this..................................

..........to THIS!  All the strips were sewn over the weekend.  I warned that the width would shrink, and it did.  It is now 30'' wide by 42''long.      That is just the nature of this bargello style design ----  small pieces and lots of seams.  Plus it is always a surprise when you see the blend of the fabrics.  No matter how much you think you have it planned and arranged, it is always a little surprising to see it come together.    This one has a floating feel to it.  And an impression of a garden blooming on a hillside.   I will let it live and breath a little until I decide on the border color.

    While I was pressing the florals, I was reading thru my Projects list that hangs on the cabinet.  Since mid-December, I have made good progress.  I love marking thru items and putting up big fat check marks!   A couple of things are finished, and only one project listed is left that needs to be worked on.    So design time is slated for later this week.  I need some mindless sewing for this afternoon....string piecing it is.   Happy stitching.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Stitching on the 13th


    Nothing unlucky here about the 13th......okay, just a few stitches to unsew, but sewing is a good thing.   And sunshine abounds and circles look good in the sunshine.

   This quilt will be like the "Rest of the Story" to follow the Therapy Quilt.  For now it has no borders and will rest on a hanger until I decide on a finish.  I have an idea or two but nothing solid......just impressions that flash through my mind when I look at it.
  I am sure I will run across something that will inspire me to finish it up.  

  Surprise, surprise......I found a set of strips--florals, you see--- organized and partially sewn together.  I remember beginning the process of selection and arranging in the early part of last year.
   I finished the rows, pressed and made some cuts.  Random cuts of 1 1/2'', 2''. 2 1/2'' are now hanging on the design wall and ready to join.  A lot of columns to join and it will shrink in width quite a bit.  That's okay as I did not find any notes to self with ideas on it.  I will make it up as I go.

   One more thing before I go to start dinner.   A winter blue set of scraps turned into a small pieced table runner. The pattern is from Connie at Freemotion by the River .   I altered it a bit and left off the border.....I ran out of fabric.   But it will be a good one to finish up and donate to the guild for next year's auction.
   Enjoy the weekend and stitch on.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

More of those circles

   A quick glance at my project list and plans for the month shows I have been moving right along.  This list was begun in mid-December and just carried over to January.  The last 2 things for the month concern  the rest of the circles and 9 patch blocks.

  The remaining circles went up onto the design wall and I shifted and played around with the lay out for a day or so.    You have to let things simmer sometimes to be sure of what you want.  It helped that I came down with a stomach virus and couldn't do much of anything, too :)

   This photo shows that I have a couple of sections joined.....note the layout used.  I resorted to my original staggered layout for a couple of reasons.  I have 3 sizes of circles because of the size of scraps I used.  The mixed sizes--big, small and in-between-- looked a little "off" to me when laid out in regular rows.   I had a lot of "half circles" already made for the ends and I did not want to waste them.  And finally, less precise matching was less stressful for me.  Or that's my story and I am sticking to it.   I have a few more rows of circles to join, and then a decision on borders.

  In the midst of sewing rows and sections of circles  together, 9 patch blocks marched on.   My stack of strip units have turned into great little 9 patch blocks and total about 80 to date.   This will be up next to decide on finally layout and such.

   Bread.....my sourdough flopped and the starter died.  The 2 loaves I made were awful and Sir Old Man put them in the back yard for the deer/birds/wildlife.   The starter requires a lot of  patience and maintenance to get going.   I resorted to my favorite recipe for herb bread and made a nice loaf.

To share......
   If you are interested in making a few or a lot of blocks for the Women of the Bible quilt/sew alongs that are going on  check out this source.   Quilter's Garden quilt show is sharing blocks on their website and the info will be available for only 2 weeks.  So download while you can, and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to keep up to date with the blocks and info.  Thanks to Cheryl at Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting blog for sharing this.


  And this is my positive note for the week.  A friend who recently lost her husband shared this on FB.  It seems someone else understands my obsession with those red birds, aka cardinals.
They are reassuring signs of hope for me and always seem to pop up when I get low.  Just like the notes and comments from old and new followers, a few words lift my spirits when I seem to be struggling with the frustrations of the situation.    Thank you all.
  It has warmed up here for a few days after sleet, freezing rain and snow of last weekend.  I intend to bask in its glow for a little while today, before I finish up those circles.  Happy stitching.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Let's be Legendary

   Deshaun Watson said in the last huddle, "Let's be legendary."   And they were......Clemson National Champions!  Congrats, guys.  Go tigers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Simple mats

    First, let me say, that each of you are a great part of my blog life.  What a wonderful band of cheerleading quilters you are.  I was very touched by all the comments on the Therapy Quilt post.    I get overwhelmed with the past year.   I get tired easily.   and I get cranky when my fingers don't work right and my vision gets fuzzy.  I know some of you  carry your own health problems each day.    So thank you for reaching out to me.

   Today was a finish up day for simple stuff that I started.   I used 2 pieces of the panel fabric for small place mats for the kitchen island.   I added scraps of fabric that blended with the design.  Straight lines for quilting to finish them off.

    And the longer section I turned into a small wall hanging for the kitchen too.  I used some floral fabrics to mix with a "coffee creamer" colored scrap.  The binding was odds and ends in the binding box.  Simple but it fills the blank space on the side wall for now.
  I was getting tired by this time and it shows in the wobbly binding....I will wash it and no one will know.  Please keep my secret:)

  The sourdough adventure has taken another twist, as in throw out the first bowl full that was foamy but not rising.  A good bit of reading/research and it was decided that I did not have yeast fermenting, but some stinky bacteria that was not what I wanted.  Barbara at CatPatches pointed me in the direction of an article by a microbiologist that clicked in my mind.

  So yesterday I began a new batch of starter with whole wheat flour and pineapple juice.  Today it is foamy and bubbly......I hope from yeast.  Once again.....I am just stubborn enough to stick to it for one more try :)  Besides if it snows this weekend, bread baking would be perfect.
Happy stitching.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Therapy Quilt

  The Therapy Quilt is so named because I had to learn to sew again this year.  I took for granted the dexterity, the fine motor skills it requires for each block to be made, for a quilt to be assembled, for a quilt to quilted , and for a quilt to be bound.

  I was in the middle of making circles for the Quilty 365 challenge at Quiltyfolk blog, when my world crashed down around me.  So in  August when I returned home,  I began OT/PT as an outpatient.  My desire/dream/goal was to sew again.  I tried and had a lot of disappointment.  I kept at it with the attitude that I did not have to be perfect, banish the quilt police, just sew.   And so the idea of the Therapy Quilt came to me.

   I pulled out my box of circles and found ones that I wanted to use first.....Birds, Blooms, and Bits from Friends.  That was the way I defined the selections in my head.  If  I was going to reclaim my passion, it was up to me to figure out how to sew again.  Even my excellent therapist could not help me there.

   By trying each day to piece two circles together, and then to join them into a 4 unit section, etc, I began to see my fine motor skills improve.  Not each intersection matched,  and some are only close enough.  Before I would have ripped forever, today I move on.
   I graduated from OT/PT in November.  Able to walk again, to write again, I can accomplish many daily tasks, but still with numbness in my hands and feet and legs.  Such is life.

   The Therapy Quilt got pinned finally and was ready to quilt.  I had attempted free motion quilting on a couple of small projects and thought  I was up to this size.  There's not a lot of open space between those circles.....so wiggly lines and some meandering would just have to do.   It was a challenge and I was not exactly thrilled or happy with  the first section or so.  
Yet by the time---2 days later-- that I finished the center portion, I was feeling better about it all.    I moved on to the border  after practicing the leafy vine by drawing a few dozen pages in pencil.   And a few days before Christmas, it was almost done.    My confidence back, I went on and quilted my bow ties quilt and got it finished first.

   From Pat at AmityQuilter blog, came the circle in the bottom right corner.    The Charlie Harper cardinals are from Wanda at Exuberant Color.  She's a treasure and I look to her as an inspirational mentor.

The Therapy Quilt is 42'' by 50''.  The  small circle squares are 4 1/2''.

   So here's to starting a new year off with hope....hope for healing, hope for recovery, and hope for future and the quilting I love.

Linking to Quilty 365.

Happy stitching.

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