Monday, August 15, 2016

Dog Days of Summer


I have started (without much enthusiasm I must admit) a dorm quilt for my nephew who is off to college when he returns from a trip to California with his father and sister. I say with not much enthusiasm because the colors don't grab me. Black and gold are the colors of his chosen school, Missouri University at Columbia, known in these parts as "Mizzou." The fabrics are licensed Mizzou fabrics and the pattern will be a hounds-tooth check. It is easy enough to do, but for me, that is part of the problem. I like challenges.


I have jmped into Bonnie Hunter's 2016 leader/ender challenge. Only the orange center and surrounding row of neutrals are sewn together. I need a few more of the green blocks before adding them on. Then comes another round of neutral ones. I think the next color rows may be purple.


I have started a Fancy Forest baby quilt. This is a very popular pattern by Elizabeth Hartman; there are images all over the internet - Instagram, blogs, Pinterest, etc.There are lots of pieces in each block and following the directions can be challenging. There was a bit of reverse sewing involved, notably on Harriet Hedgehog. That said, so far the directions have been impeccable - correct to a "T". Any mishaps were due to operator error. There are two of every block, except for the fox, of which there are four. He is also the easiest to piece  So I am a bit more than halfway. Although the cutting can be a bit much, because it is challenging it holds my interest. However, I wouldn't want to make the entire large quilt which is four times the size of the baby quilt.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Houses, a Dog, and Doll Clothes



I have been doing a bit of this and that, without a lot of anything being truly finished. Our power went out here last week for 24 hours in the aftermath of a violent thunder storm. The temps hit the upper 90s, but leaving the house closed up, shades drawn, etc. the house never got warmer than 75 degrees. The freezer was not opened, so most everything stayed frozen except the ice cream and ice cubes. Life is better with electricity!

This 12-inch dog block is the August optional block for my guild. There were several small stitch and flip 1.5" square pieces. I learned right away not to cut away the excess until the units were all stitched and laid out. There was some reverse sewing that had to be done.


These are the first two blocks (20" square!) of Carolyn Friedlander's "Local" quilt. The blocks are paper-pieced. I like the pattern, but have quibbles about the way it is printed. There is no way to copy the pattern onto 8.5" x 11" paper. The pieces are too big. You can either go to the office store each month and pay $$ to have them copied, or you can try and break up the individual units that will fit onto normal size paper. The latter method worked for me on these two blocks. However, block #3 consists of many large triangular pieces and short of taping a bunch of stuff together, it is unworkable in an 8.5" x 11" format. I have decided to make templates instead as all the pieces are large and not particularly complicated. Freezer paper on a roll will be used to make the longish triangular templates. My piecing skills are such that sewing straight lines is not an issue. I think so anyway.

Other than surviving with no electricity and looking after Mom who fell a couple of weeks ago (nothing broken, but very achy) I have delved into making clothes for an 18" American Girl doll owned by my great niece. I made a wardrobe for another such doll 7 or 8 years ago for my niece. I really enjoyed it and as I have an extensive fabric collection and several shoe boxes full of bits of trims and ribbons, I have not needed to buy anything other than some Velcro and elastic. Photos to follow but so far completed are baby doll PJs, top and matching miniskirt, and sundress. In the planning are a summer top and shorts, boho chic peasant blouse and long ruffled skirt, and a prairie outfit with bonnet and apron. There are plans to include a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder's  "Little House on the Prairie" to pique her interest.

Oh, yes, almost forgot. I am jumping into Bonnie Hunter's 2016 leader/ender challenge. See the badge on the sidebar to the right for more information. The last time I took the challenge was a few years back when the challenge was little bow tie blocks. I bought an entire bolt of cheddar fabric from Mary Jo's Cloth store for that one.

There is much to like with this challenge. 1. It's controlled scrappy. 2. I have a lot of the correct 2" strips already cut and waiting in my Scrap User drawers. 3. You can complete each round as you have the units made so there won't be (I hope) a big old box of parts to be sewn together at the end. 4. It starts with orange, my favorite quilty color.

The indiviual blocks are hourglass units, which Bonnie points out are made with quarter square triangles. Broken dishes blocks use half square triangles. Don't confuse the two! So here is a tip that I had not previously thought consciously about. Learned something new today.

Happy Monday!

Houses, a Dog, and Doll Clothes



I have been doing a bit of this and that, without a lot of anything being truly finished. Our power went out here last week for 24 hours in the aftermath of a violent thunder storm. The temps hit the upper 90s, but leaving the house closed up, shades drawn, etc. the house never got warmer than 75 degrees. The freezer was not opened, so most everything stayed frozen except the ice cream and the ice cubes. Life is better with electricity!

This 12 inch block is the August optional block for my guild. There were several small stitch and flip 1.5" square pieces. I learned right away not to cut away the excess until the units were all stitched and laid out. There was some reverse sewing that had to be done.


These are the first two blocks (20" square!) of Carolyn Friedlander's "Local" quilt. The blocks are paper-pieced. I like the pattern, but have quibbles about the way it is printed. There is no way to copy the pattern onto 8.5" x 11" paper. The pieces are too big. You can either go to the office store each month and pay $$ to have them copied, or you can try and break up the individual units that will fit onto normal size paper. The latter method worked for me on these two blocks. However, block #3 consists of many large triangular pieces and short of taping a bunch of stuff together, is unworkable in an 8.5" x 11" format. I have decided to make templates instead as all the pieces are large and not particularly complicated. My piecing skills are such that sewing straight lines is not an issue.

Other than surviving with no electricity and looking after Mom who fell a couple of weeks ago (nothing broken, but very achy) I have delved into making clothes for an 18" American Girl doll owned by my great niece. I made a wardrobe for another such doll 7 or 8 years ago for my niece. I really enjoyed it and as I have an extensive fabric collection and several shoe boxes full of bits of trims and ribbons, I have not needed to buy anything other than some Velcro and elastic. Photos to follow but so far completed are baby doll PJs, top and matching miniskirt, and sundress. In the planning are a summer top and shorts, boho chic peasant blouse and long ruffled skirt, and a prairie outfit with bonnet and apron. There are plans to include a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder's  "Little House on the Prairie" to pique her interest.

Oh, yes, almost forgot. I am jumping into Bonnie Hunter's 2016 leader/ender challenge. See the badge on the sidebar to the right for more information. The last time I took the challenge was a few years back when the challenge was little bow tie blocks. I bought an entire bolt of cheddar fabric from Mary Jo's Cloth store for that one.

There is much to like with this challenge. 1. It's controlled scrappy. 2. I have a lot of the correct 2" strips already cut and waiting in my Scrap User drawers. 3. You can complete each round as you have the units made so there won't be (I hope) a big old box of parts to be sewn together at the end. 4. It starts with orange, my favorite quilty color.

The units are hourglass units, which Bonnie points out are made with quarter square triangles. Broken dishes blocks use half square triangles. Don't confuse the two! So here is a tip that I had not previously thought consciously about. Learned something new today.

Happy Monday!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Trying to Stay Cool

It has been very hot here, but then it's the Midwest and it's almost July. Heat is to be expected. It's the humidity that's the killer, though. Yesterday the temperature was in the upper 90s and it rained twice. Very sticky. But, we have a well functioning A/C system, so all is frosty cool within. I started another small quilt for our guild's Comfort Quilt project using up some charm packs that have been ageing in a shoebox on an upper shelf. Out of sight, out of mind. Last week's trip to Hamilton, MO reminded me that there were quite a few precuts in my stash and that it was time to put them to good use.


Some simple broken dishes blocks make an easy small quilt.


I finished (or thought that I had) my hexie challenge quilt. It's all spray basted to the batting and backing and the edges are machine basted. And, guess what? It's not a hexie. It has 12 sides, not six. Sigh. Back to the drawing board. I think it can be saved by (hand) sewing six small black triangles where there are the blue edges. Not a big disaster, just a pain in the keester.

Off to the side you can see the X and O baby quilt. It is just about sewn together and will be ready for quilting soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Changing Gears


I'm taking a bit of a break from baby string quilts. Our guild's 2017 show will be upon us before you know it and the quilt show chairman has set a challenge to make a hexie quilt. This is rosette #1 from Katja Marek's New Hexagong Quilt-Along. Only two of the "rows" have been made and already the piece is reaching the size limitation of 25" x 25". The center two "rows", minus the three trial pieces sticking out, measure 16" at the widest point. I think I will stop here and add triangles to fill in between the six points to bring it into a hexie shape.Those three other pieces are not adding anything to the overall design anyway. I will reuse the papers and start over with other fabrics for Katja's project. By the way, I saw the pack of paper pieces for rosette #1 on the MSQC web site for half the price. Click here.

You can order the paper pieces for the entire project from Paper Pieces. The first rosette is the largest and therefore is the most expensive at $21.00. When English paper piecing I normally print and cut out my own papers but I decided to splurge this time. The packet of papers was totally accurate and if there were two of the same shapes (such as the diamonds) but of a slightly different size, two different colors of paper were used to make them very easy to differentiate.


This is the mural on the side of the retreat center at Missouri Star Quilt Co. (MSQC) in Hamilton, MO. I was lucky enough to get into Carmon and April Henry's Featherweight maintenance class at MSQC this week. You can read more about them and their workshops here. I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn how to service their own Featherweight machines. The Henrys were accompanied and assisted by their two teen aged children, Christian and Ruthie. Christian is a memory bank of Featherweight history and as good a technician as his father. Ruthie demonstrated how she restores Featherweight cases to pristine condition. It's very refreshing to see such two well-adjusted youngsters that seem genuinely happy to be spending the summer traveling around the United States working with their parents.

The first evening we were treated to a trunk show by Jenny Doan. The woman is a veritable powerhouse of energy and a very good speaker. I am not a big user of precuts, which she loves and which is the focus of her company. There are bolts of fabric, to be sure, but there are TONS of precuts. After her presentation I have been won over a tiny bit to her way of thinking. Since there are boxes of charm square packets on my shelves (can't resist at Connecting Threads when they are $2.00 or less!), I will be combing through back issues of Block magazine to find patterns for the baby quilts I have been making.

Unfortunately, while I have a few photos, I don't have much to report about MSQC because the shops close at 5:00 p.m. during the week. On Monday I got checked into the workshop after 3:00 p.m. By the time setup was finished, there was less than an hour to shop. The mercury was close to 100, so frankly there was not a lot of incentive to go outside and walk around in the heat. The second day class let out at 5:00 p.m., so again there was no time to shop. I left to drive home immediately after class. What I did see of the main shop and the reproductions shop was very nice and inviting. The staff are super friendly and helpful. MSQC has certainly revitalized this tiny Midwestern town. They employ 300 with many coming from the surrounding farm communities. Amish country is close by, and Kansas City just an hour away, so you could easily make a trip to Hamilton something for the entire family to enjoy.


This is the newly remodeled and just this week re-opened main store. As you can see from the photo it is very large, open, and airy. There are big screen TVs in the store which air Jenny Doan's tutorials; there are nice, big cushy arm chairs for resting and watching the videos.


This is a new spool doily I scored at the class. I love the watermelon theme and the little black seeds are tiny black seed beads crocheted into the doily. The Henrys have a woman who crochets these doilies for them in all sorts of patterns and colors. There was a red, white, and blue star for the Fourth and many other designs. They had an entire case of these things, so the little crochet lady must just be hooking her little heart out.

Friday, June 17, 2016

In the Pink


Small string quilt #6 completed! Easy as these are, I want to try something different. If I can find the roll of adding machine tape that a friend gave me some time back, I will cut 36"strips and make long string pieces. They will be sewn with strips of whole fabric in between to make small coin quilts. Crazy Mom has a tutorial on her blog if you are not familiar with the pattern. If I can't find the roll of paper tape, I will use more of the telephone book pages and sew the sections together.


I have started a new baby quilt for a friend's grandson; no pattern but the one I have made up. There are a number of these X and O quilts on the web. The blocks finish at 8" and are made with a stitch and flip process that yields a lot of "bonus triangles."


These small pinwheel blocks finish at 2.5" although from the comparable size of the photos it's hard to tell the actual size until they are placed side by side.


The little pinwheels will go into a doll-sized quilt for another little girl.

Next week I will be in Hamilton, MO at Missouri Star Quilt Company for a Featherweight maintenance class. Inasmuch as I have two Featherweights and a Singer 301, I am eager to learn more about these machines. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Seeing Red



Almost there. This little string quilt lacks just one lonely block. I made the right number, but in trimming them up, I grabbed two blocks instead of one and whacked away with the rotary cutter. I did this once before and thought that I had learned my lesson. Obviously not. When i get a moment I will make the last one.

Tomorrow I will be working on our guild's 2017 raffle quilt. Four of us worked on it today and got the first skinny 1/2" border sewn on. The next border is 3" wide and has a row of hexies appliqued down the middle of it. It will require some finagling to get it to fit the existing top. Perhaps I am a bit cocky after my success with "My Blue Heaven" putting on a pieced border, but I volunteered to do this. Nothing will be cut and nothing will be machine sewn; I will be marking with chalk and only hand basting the borders until certain that everything fits. Guild meeting is Friday evening and we want to have the top out for display to show our progress. Wish me luck.