Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dick and Jane Quilt Top

I just finished this little quilt top today. It is for a cute little two year old - the daughter of my next door neighbors. They also have a newborn boy, so he is next up for a quilt, too. Yes. I know. The black and white half square triangle border is going every which way. I realized that after it was put together. The corners are supposed to look like the upper left and lower right ones and not like the other two. I am hoping the little girl won't notice. On the other hand, now that I am looking at this photo, I may take it apart and do it correctly. Sigh.

As soon as the fabric for the backing arrives from Connecting Threads, I will begin machine quilting. They are having a one week sale on Quilter's Candy fabric and a cheery yellow dotted piece will be perfect for the backing of this quilt. From the same source I also was able to snag a piece of royal blue dotted fabric for the back of the QOV quilt top.

Both tops will be quilted on a 1950 Singer 66. I have a walking foot for the 66 and tried it out on a quilt sandwich sample. Seems to work great. The 66 is a workhorse and the harp (distance from the needle to the right side of the machine) measures 9", which is 3" wider than my Pfaff. I am counting on the extra space to make this task easier. I will back the cabinet up to the Koala cabinet that houses the Pfaff. That machine will be retracted into the base of the cabinet, giving me a large unobstructed (unless there is a cat on it) area to take the extra size and weight of the quilt. I will only be doing straight stitching as the feed dogs don't drop on this machine. There is a solution to that and in the future I may try my hand at free motion quilting on this machine.

This evening I spent some time organizing a few things in the sewing room. I have quite a few large pieces of fabric that have been purchased here and there that are intended for quilt backs. I took them all out, measured them, and marked the individual pieces with the yardage so I won't have to do this every time a backing is needed. Duh! Shoulda done that the first time. All of the stray pieces of scrap fabric lying around on the floor were picked up, cut into Bonnie Hunter's Scrap Saver system or chucked into the bin for Victoria Findlay Wolfe's 15 Minute of Play workshop coming up in July.

The templates for Sharon Pedersen's Rose of Sharon quilt finally arrived after over three weeks en route from Nine Patch Media in Victoria, British Columbia. I have the idea to use them for the applique on the TQS 2013 BOM that is still languishing on the wall. All in good time.

Happy Easter, All!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

QOV Quilt Top Finished

My QOV quilt top is finished. I added a 1.5 inch red batik inner border and a 4.5 inch blue outer border. The blue fabric is a blue Grunge fabric from the Basic Grey line by Moda. The pattern is Strip Twist from Bonnie Hunter's free patterns at This was a quick and easy pattern that gives a lot of visual interest with a simple construction technique.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Starting a Quilt of Valor

Kevin the Quilter will be the guest speaker at our guild in September. As I have mentioned before, Kevin is holding a block drive to make oodles and oodles of Quilts of Valor for military veterans. The blocks are simple but graphic and even a beginner will be able to make them. I have already sent him a set and he is past 2600 blocks! Yikes. There will be a sew-in later this year to make quilts from the donated blocks. Count me in!

Our guild is also going to be making Quilts of Valor (hereinafter simply referred to as QOV) this year. I made a start on mine this evening by using Bonnie Hunter's free pattern, Strip Twist. This is a quick pattern to make with great graphic qualities. The block uses 2.5" strips and goes together easily. I unearthed a small box of patriotic and mostly red, white, and blue fabrics from the top shelf of my sewing room closet. Always amazes me what turns up in there. I only made two strip sets this evening so there is a fair amount of repetition in the example above. The quarters are not yet sewn together and will not be next to each other in the quilt, so that little optical illusion in the center that looks like a quarter square triangle won't be happening in the completed top.

12 full blocks consisting of 48 quarter blocks will yield a completed quilt top. With a border it will finish at around 60" x 76". I need to check the QOV website to see if that is an acceptable size. If not, I will adjust accordingly.

I have been away from my sewing machine for a couple of weeks. Spring has sprung here and we have been working in the yard most of the time. Today we finished raking up and bagging all the old plant material from the perennial beds. 40 bags of yard waste and counting. It sure looks nice, though, and everything is mostly weeded as well. Several years of assiduously hand weeding and heavily mulching are definitely paying off. There aren't a whole lot of weeds considering the size and number of perennial beds involved. Some of what causes work for me are the little violets and society garlic that my husband planted many years ago. The garlic is especially troublesome as it spreads by seeding itself. I try not to let them flower if there are plants that escape my attention until that time. They hid in and among other plants, especially those with tall slender leaves, such as day lilies. Then all of a sudden in late summer, the tell tale white heads of flowers start appearing. Same deal with the violets. They are lovely if you only have one or two. Thousands of them is another story altogether. Not too many this year, though.

Anyway that time away from the machine definitely showed in this evening's sewing. I hard a hard time keeping to a consistent quarter inch seam. For that matter it proved troublesome to even sew a doggone straight line.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Basket of Hexies

The April hexie block from The Hexie Blog is finished! The wisdom of using scrappy backgrounds is paying off. The yellow basket would not have appeared as dynamic if place on a pale gray fabric.

I have been doing virtually no sewing other than evening hand sewing. The perennial beds are beckoning me outdoors. We are nearly done with raking out all the flower beds and generally doing all the spring garden tasks. Just in time, too, as the mulch man is delivering our annual load of mulch on Monday. Once that is raked onto the beds, we can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors. There is already a lot to look at in the garden. Trillium, primrose, daffodils, and hellebores are in full swing right now. The magnolia tree is ready to pop open, and day lilies, oriental lilies, ferns, astilbe, and hosta are pushing up everywhere. The peach tree survived its first full year in the ground and while I am not expecting any fruit just yet, it would be nice to see a couple of flowers.

In two weeks several of us will be going on a retreat at a summer place owned by one of the ladies. That will be when I can get some sewing done!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ninth Puzzler Block

I haven't blogged in a bit because there was really nothing new to show. I am still plugging away on the TQS 2013 BOM quilt. All the parts and pieces have not been sewn and can be arranged on the design wall. Well, now that I think about it, that is not entirely true. The nine small compass blocks that serve as cornerstones in the sashing have to be made. Then, after arranging the parts on the design wall, four sections will be sewn together at a time to make the four squares where the appliques will be. That is another hurdle conquered as I have finally decided on what to put in those areas as I don't care for the ones that are in the pattern.

Other than that, hexies have occupied my time in the evenings, but since they are all the same except for a change in color, it seems repetitious to keep posting photos of those.This evening I got back into the sewing room and made the ninth block in the Puzzler.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Busy and Tired

I have neglected my blog for over a week. We have been painting and I am plum tuckered out. The last thing to paint is the ceiling in the family room. It has a coffered or tray ceiling and working overhead on a ladder is not an easy thing. My neck and shoulders are screaming and I feel as though I have done ten gym workouts with all the up and down from the ladder.

Circle in the Square Quilt Guild held their March meeting last Tuesday. The speaker was Nancy Eisenhauer who belongs coincidentally to another guild of which I am a member in Illinois. Nancy likes to participate in challenges and has entered and won quite a few. Most notably, she has been published twice in the AQS publications Orange Peel: New Quilts from an Old Favorite and Sawtooth:New Quilts from an Old Favorite. She brought both of her entries to show us as well as slides of her most recent entry in the Carolina Lily: New Quilts from an Old Favorite challenge. If you get to Paducah this year, look for her quilt which will be hanging in the Quilt Museum. Her entry is, of course, already at Paducah, but she had slides to show us and it is another stunner.

As a relatively new quilter, I had bought one of the books in the series and was sorely disappointed upon reading it as it contained not one pattern for a quilt. Fast forward a decade when I came upon the book in my quilt library and pulled it out to take another look. These books are now my favorites and I have most of them. They are wonderful to read with my more experienced quilter's eyes. Each finalist in the challenge is portrayed with a bio, the source of their inspiration for their entry, and information about the construction of the quilt. I love reading "the rest of the story" (with apologies to Paul Harvey).  Here is one of the quilts that Nancy brought for us to see. It's not part of a contest or challenge, but was one of my favorites:

I have made some progress on the TQS BOM. I got slowed down when I realized that I had not made all the green and violet sashing pieces that I needed. With great gusto I tore into getting them done and then sliced off a portion of one of them when trimming up the paper-pieced sections. That was a bit disheartening after all the work and I haven't had a spare moment since then to get back to the project. Soon, though.

Evenings when I am not too tired from painting, I have worked on my hexie project. Here's the current state of affairs:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

U-Turn and Cat Shampoos

I sewed down the binding last night to finish this quilt, destined to be given to the Annie Malone Children's Home at tomorrow night's guild meeting. The pattern is "U-Turn" by Kristi Daum at St. Louis Folk Victorian. The fabric is Comma from the Zen Chic line of fabrics designed by Brigitte Heitland. The fabric was purchased at my LQS, Janie Lou. I quilted it on my home sewing machine with cream thread in the top and dark avocado green in the bobbin, which matches the backing fabric. This is very simple straight line (well, more or less) quilting in an allover two inch grid.

I was a volunteer pattern tester for Kristi, which was an easy job. The directions were error-free, the pattern simple yet graphic, and the sewing straightforward. There is nary a pastel, pink, purple, or floral fabric in the quilt making it quite suitable for a young man. This is one of the few non-scrappy quilts I have made lately and is due to the fact that I am totally smitten with this line of fabric. It came out more than a year ago, so is fading fast from shop shelves. Every last bit has been hoarded, cut up, and stowed away in my *somewhat* organized scrap drawers.

What's this about cat shampoos you ask? Here is Texas Charley, aka Fatso or just plain Charley, after his spring shampoo. He wasn't as dirty as might have been expected given that the last time he was washed was last year around this time and shortly after we acquired him. I only shampoo the cats rarely as supposedly it is not good for their skin to be washed frequently. I used an organic, slightly lavender scented, mild shampoo formulated for cats. Jade, my small female tortoise shell, also received her annual beauty treatment. Alas no photos of her as she is hiding somewhere drying off. They get rather vigorously towel dried, but, that said, they are still pretty wet and need a good hour before they are anywhere close to being completely dry. Years ago I dried my cats with a hair dryer, but it is unnecessarily traumatic for them. Between the noise of the dryer and trying not to get the dryer so close that it was uncomfortably warm for them, it is just as well to let them finish drying themselves. Which they are now assiduously doing.

Two down, one to go. The largest - and normally the dirtiest -of the three, Mickey, and the only one allowed outdoors, is left to do. Maybe this afternoon. I have to return some books to the library and then head over to the hardware store for paint samples.

Welcome to my latest follower, Carlain!

Time for lunch now.