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.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March Hexie

Here is the March Hexie The Hexie Blog. I didn't position the hexies correctly where they meet in the middle. But, hey, what's done is done. Movin' on.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Slow Quilting

As I have mentioned, I do a lot of slow quilting. There is no need in my household for more quilts, so I indulge myself and work on things that take time. I have finished several more of the diamonds made of hexies. Next up is a blue one. I have also been making the March block from The Hexie Blog. I see as I crafted the link to it that I have put the hexies together incorrectly. Inasmuch as they are nearly completely sewn down to the background, they are going to remain wrong.

I have also been plugging away at the TQS 2013 BOM. When this project was started, my thought was that it would be a totally scrappy quilt. But the red violet background to the new York Beauty arc blocks looks good not being scrappy and provides a cohesive element to the quilt. So, having run out of the fabric, I turned to the internet to find more. Cyberspace has saved my bacon before and did so once again. The fabric is Suede by P&B textiles. Saving the selvage with that information printed on it allowed me to find more of it at The City Quilter in Manhattan. This shop has been featured on Martha Stewart's television program as well as in several magazines. Great customer service. The fabric was ordered on Tuesday and arrived on my doorstep today.

I also finished sewing together 15 or so of the blocks from the Freedom Quilt that I am helping the students at a local elementary school make. So, the sewing machines at chez moi have been getting a good workout this week even if I haven't posted much.

Oh, almost forgot, that I also made five blocks for Kevin the Quilter and his block drive here. Kevin is soliciting readers to make five simple blocks for his ongoing Quilts of Valor. I was happy to help! No photos of my blocks as I zipped through them, put them in an envelope, and mailed them off before the idea of taking a photo even occurred to me.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hexies and Nine-Patches

I have made (almost) three more of the hexie diamonds. I say "almost" because the rows in the pink diamond have not yet been sewn together.

I have temporarily stopped working on "The Two of US" BOM because I have a deadline project to finish before Wednesday. I mentor in the public schools and recently visited the art teacher's classroom, drawn in by the vibrant projects posted on the wall outside his classroom. Turns out the students have been reading "Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt" as part of the curriculum for Black History Month. The art teacher learned how to quilt as a child and wanted to pursue the idea of making a freedom quilt with the students but until I came along, didn't think he could do it by himself.

I brought him 2.5 inch squares in light and dark values. The squares I had at hand, thanks to Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User's System. I made up some samples - one with four light and five dark, one with four dark and five light, and one totally scrappy, governed only by color to keep the nine-patch pattern evident. I instructed the teacher to have the students lightly affix their selections to paper with a glue stick. I would then take the papers home and sew the squares together and return them to him next week (Wednesday).

So far, so good. Here are some examples of what the students made:

And here are two completed nine-patches:

Most of the students were able to follow the pattern and their teacher's instructions. There were a couple of hiccups, though. Five of the approximately 40 blocks did not follow the pattern. You can see one of them in the top photo. I fixed that when I sewed the squares together. Others are going to need more help than that:

I am pretty sure that these were made by the youngest group - there being first to third graders in the mix. Since I don't want to leave anyone out of the finished quilt, I will be fixing these so they can be used. Their teacher said that no matter how much he explains, some children just do not comprehend the notion of pattern.

The alternate blocks in the quilt pictured in the book are map blocks:

The boys did not want to make the nine-patches, but their teacher is hopeful that they will be more receptive to making the map, star, or house blocks. Our idea at present is to have them draw with fabric markers, crayons, or acrylic paints onto solid color fabric squares. A friend, who is a retired art teacher, says that all of these substances wash out eventually. The quilt will probably not be washed at all, or maybe just once after I have quilted it, so this may not be a problem.

The second problem was that the students used white glue rather than glue sticks to affix the squares to paper. A dot of white glue for each square would have been enough and some were done this way. Several, however, were glued down to within an inch of their little square selves and could only be removed for sewing with most of the paper still adhering to them. This necessitated soaking in a basin of warm water to get the paper off and in two cases, washing with detergent in the washing machine to get all the glue off. Lesson learned. Be very emphatic with the teacher that the students know to only use a tiny bit of glue. After sewing the completed blocks were put back on the paper (which had the maker's name) with ONE staple.