Friday, December 27, 2013

Coloring Outside the Lines

With only 5 more days left of 2013, I am trying to wrap up a few things. Do you remember my Giant Vintage Star quilt? My son asked if he could hang it in his apartment above his sofa. Since this is a square quilt and not long enough for a bed, I said, "Sure." Last night I spent some slow stitching time putting on a hanging sleeve. Today I prepared and sewed on the label.
Years ago I bought some fabric quilt labels and I had never used them.  They are meant to be colored in with colored fabric pens. So, I pulled out some fabric crayons.The last time these crayons were used was when I helped my eldest granddaughter's 2nd grade class make a quilt for a school fund-raiser. That granddaughter is now a sophomore in college!

Have you ever tried to use crayons after a bunch of 2nd graders have used them? There were no pointed tips left on them. Well, that's my excuse for coloring this label outside the lines. Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Hee!

Actually, I kind of like the look of it. I forgot to put the date on the label. I used a Micron pen to add that after this photo was taken.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 
to all my blogging friends! 

I had hoped to post another quilting project before Christmas, but, alas, it was not to be. Where does the time go?  I'm headed to the kitchen to start baking for tomorrow... banana nut bread to send home with my son and pecan pie. Maybe some other yummys! 

Ya'll stay safe and happy! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

My First Tutorial - Easy Flying Geese

Today I am posting my first tutorial. Please bear with me. I had worried about making this Expanding Star block because of the small flying geese units. But, the directions were so simple and fun for making these, I just have to share with you.

Making Four Easy Flying Geese Units

First you will need to decide what will be the finished unit size. For the light color fabric add 1 1/4 " to your chosen size. For instance, in this case the finished width of my unit will be 3",  so I cut out a 4 1/4" square (3"+ 1 1/4" = 4 1/4"). You will need 1 square of light fabric to make 4 units. 

Then, decide how tall your geese units will be and add 7/8" to that measurement. My geese unit are 1 1/2" finished, so I cut 4 dark squares that were 2 3/8" square (1 1/2" + 7/8" = 2 3/8") to make the 4 units.
(The colored squares in this photo are different from those I made my units with.)
Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each dark square. I just used a lead pencil.

Now place 2 dark squares on the light square diagonally across from each other, right sides together. They should line up as shown in the photo below. I secured with a couple of pins to prevent shifting.

Stitch 1/4" on each side of the marked line.

When both sides of the line are stitched, cut on the drawn line.
You will end up with 2 of these funny looking units. My first thought was, "What the heck?" LOL

Now, set one of those units aside and place one marked dark square on the corner of the light triangle as pictued below.
Once again, stitch 1/4" on either side of the marked line. Then cut on the marked line. 

Here is the result, two perfect flying geese units. I have trimmed the dog ears off the top unit.
Now, repeat the last steps with the remaining funny-looking unit, for 4 complete flying geese units.

Please feel free to let me know if any of these instructions are difficult to understand. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Am A Block Head

This past week I started working on a couple of blocks of the month (BOM). One of the BOM's was actually from my LQS in 2011. Seems like even longer ago. I got the first block and tried to put it together. I had recently retired and was re-acquainting myself with my sewing machine. I had that machine for 10 years, but had done very little sewing on it. I kept stitching the block and then taking out the stitches. I could not seem to get a 1/4" seam. I put the block together, but I was not satisfied. Plus, the day I picked it up was the day Gabby Giffords and others were shot. So, that put a negative spin on it, too. I set the whole project aside until this past week. Do you ever get discouraged and just set your project aside for long periods?

A few days later I realized all I had to do was press a button on my machine and the needle would move over. It makes a perfect 1/4" seam. Well, duh! But, for some reason I kept collecting my blocks from the quilt shop each month and just stored them away. Recently, I got that block out and ripped all the seams and re-stitched it. I love it! The quilt is a star sampler made with civil war reproduction prints.
I cut out the next star and stitched it. It had a really fun trick for putting it together. I like it better than the first one.
My hubby is always asking me who I am making a particular quilt for. He loved this one, so I told him it was for him. Of course, it is large enough for our bed. I'll be able to enjoy it, too.

Since I was on a roll, I made the first block of my Blackbird Lane BOM quilt. You can see a photo of the pattern here. I am still ranting somewhat about this BOM experience. When I got ready to make the first block there was no black print fabric. I called and they sent a very large piece of black print. I made the first block. Wish that plaid fabric had been straighter.
Yesterday they sent the fabric for this month. But, still no instructions on what they are for. I am almost afraid to cut into them. Guess I'll work on civil war stars until I know for sure.

What are you working on today?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Random Sunday Thoughts

Last week at my quilt guild meeting the out-going vice-president gave a small gift all who had done a ruler or technique demo during the year. I was thrilled when I opened mine. She had crocheted us each a spindle doily. I know you have seen them on Bonnie Hunter's blog. I had wanted to make one for my featherweight for a while. But, that would mean I would have to search for get out my crochet thread first. LOL Isn't it perfect?
Do you belong to a quilt guild? My guild is rather large. We usually have about 80-100 attendees at each meeting. Gathering with others who share this passion is so fun and rewarding. If I'm ever in a slump I get inspired once again during Show and Tell. What amazing talents! Plus, I have learned so much from these wonderful ladies. They are so willing to share tips and shortcuts.

For the last month or so I have been talking about learning to applique. Well, I finally made the plunge. I started my project this week and have made some headway. It has been good for the most part. I had been buying different colors of Kimono silk thread for a while. Then, I thought, "What if it's difficult to work with? That thread is not cheap." But, I'm happy to say that I found it very easy to sew with. I do need to watch carefully because occassionally I would leave a small loop of thread. I'll need to work on getting my stitches to be a little more uniform, but all in all I think I did fairly well. Here is my progress so far.
I tried a couple of different techniques on the leaves. The rose was clipped, turned under and basted through the fabric and the freezer paper. The paper and basting will be removed just before I put in the last stitches on the rose. Then, I have to learn how to layer the other pieces of the rose.
Hopefully you can see the basting stitches in this photo. I used white hand-quilting thread because it is thick and easy to remove.

I am linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching here. Check out what others are slow stitching today.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Slow Sunday Stitching

I have been talking about applique for a while now. I think it is finally time to start that project. This morning I auditioned some fabrics for my first applique project. A background for the applique needs to be chosen. I'll probably go with a plain, natural muslin. The real stumper is that little bird wing. Such a tiny piece, but I haven't found the right one for it in my stash. Most of my blues seem to have too much gray in them. Or, the print is too large.
I love the red rose fabric for the corners. This is my focus fabric. Hopefully, I will find time to cut out these pieces today. I am excited to finally try my hand at applique.

In the meantime, I have continued to hand-piece my Triangles of the Past quilt. As you can see, it is nearly 36" square at this point. Wish I had room for a real design wall. The next row is all blacks. I need more black prints in my stash. Any one want to donate a 4"x6" piece of black print from your scraps? LOL 
This is moving along quickly. I just pop my Ipod Nano in my ears and stitch away. Right now I'm listening to "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. I really like the narrator and the way she pronounces the unusual (to me) names and places. What do you do to entertain yourself as you stitch?

Today I am linking up the Kathy's Quilts-Slow Sunday Stitching here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Just Google It

As a quilter I love all the quilting blogs. There are so many great ideas, tutorials, and inspiration for quilts online. I appreciate all who take their time to show me what they have done and how I can do it, too. This week I finished a Giant Vintage Star quilt. I found the pattern here. Thank you Jeni Baker of In Color Order blog for this awesome pattern. It's the bonus quilt I cut out when I was cutting out the quilt for my granddaughter to sew here and here

When it came time quilt my own version I wanted something different. I turned to Blooming Poppies blog and tutorial for quilting concentric circles. 
If you read the tutorial you will notice that she suggested using the bowl of your food processor to mark the starting circles. I figured that since I started quilting that food processor was not getting much use anyways. LOL  When I told my friend that I had used my food processor to quilt, she said, "Well, I guess that adds a whole new meaning to scrap quilting." Hee! Hee! I do love the end result. 
Thanks again to all of you in cyberspace who share and will continue to share your ideas and expertise. You help make this journey into quilting such a sweet blessing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Short Rant

On my last post I complained  about the block of the month I had ordered from The Cotton Patch Shoppe. I received the entire pattern and some fabrics, but nothing telling me what these fabrics were for. I got no response from the email I sent. This morning I called them. The lady who answered the phone took my number and said she'd call back. Within a couple minutes another woman called back. She said she knew this answer by heart. Apparently they had gotten other inquiries with the same question? Here is the Black Bird Lane BOM quilt I ordered.

She told me to start with the pieced block at the top left. Block 2 will be the top/middle block, etc. I'm thinking, "So, why not include a small piece of paper with those instructions?" This BOM goes for 14 months and it seems the first 12 months are the 12 center pieced blocks. I doubt I could do all the applique in the 2 remaining months. I'm a little very disappointed. There was no start up fee and it was on sale. So, that helps a little.

In the meantime, McCall's Quilting Magazine is sponsoring  applique quilt-along. You can get it here. It will run thru March 31, 2014. I have already downloaded the pattern for the quilt block and a cute neddle case pattern. The best part is that there will be accompanying videos with 11 weekly episodes to teach you how it's done. That seems great for all of us who want to learn applique. It's a really cute pattern, too. The price is certainly right. LOL

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Please Share Your Expertise

How I wish you could all see my Spiral Bargello quilt top in person. Sharon and I finished our respective quilt tops on Thursday afternoon. My only regret is that this is not a bed quilt size. It is lap size, but too beautiful to just fold and lay across the sofa. The colors are just so rich.
Now, to figure out how to quilt it. Any ideas? How would you do it?

Yesterday evening I spent several hours on my hand-piecing project. I have finished the black, rust and orange round. It looks pretty good now that it's done. The orange blends a little more now.
The next round is ivorys, creams, light browns, and baby blues. That will be a nice change.
A couple days ago I received my first package for my Black Bird Lane appliqued and pieced block of the month (BOM) quilt that I mentioned in my last post here. This is the first time I have ordered a BOM on the internet. It is from The Cotton Patch Shoppe. I received the lovely fabrics and the pattern shown below.
But, I have no idea what to do with them. I do have the entire pattern, but no guidance on what to do with these particular fabrics. I'm lost. Can anyone tell me how these things work? This BOM runs for 14 months.

I'll be stitching on my hand-piecing project on Sunday and linking to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Visions of Applique Dancing in My Head

Applique seems to stay in my head lately. I want to learn to do this. It would be the perfect portable project, too. I just think I would really enjoy it. A week ago I took a class at a LQS. I did learn a few things, but not nearly enough. I've watched some good, instructional videos on YouTube, too. Last week I ordered a book by Mimi Dietrich called Baltimore Blocks for Beginners. This book is so informative! It is so simple and yet has so many good tips and instructions. here's a photo of it along with the back basting piece we started in the class.
As you can see, I did not finish it. We ran out of time in class and I didn't feel I was doing a good job on it. On my first project I am probably going follow Mimi's instructions to the letter. Look how simple, yet, beautiful the block on the book cover is.

I have shown you some patterns I have here. But, I think I need to do some of Mimi's patterns in this book first, in order to really learn this art. I have found inspiration in the Red and Green quilt that Carla at A Few of My Favorite Things blog has appliqued and is now hand-quilting. That is a quilt to aspire to...eventually. I also ordered a block of the month (BOM) from The Cotton Patch Shoppe online. It is called Blackbird Lane and includes pieced blocks and an applique border. This is the first BOM I have ordered online. I love the Fall colors.
Today I am slowly but surely continuing to add to my hand-pieced medallion quilt. Not sure the orange fabrics in my stash are going to work on this latest row. Kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

I am linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching here.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Busy, Busy, Bargello

Gee! Where does the time go? Since my last post I have helped my son move into an apartment. I have been busy with quilt projects, took an applique class, been involved with my quilt guild, and covered my kitchen chair seats. Oh, that's where the time went!

I have also spent a lot of time sewing on my spiral bargello quilt. My friend Sharon and I get together frequently in her studio and sew on our quilts while we chat. What fun!  If you haven't previously read my post re: starting this quilt, you can read it here. That was last August. I kept forgetting to take my camera with me. When I did remember, the batteries were dead. Finally, yesterday I was able to snap a few photos. We were at the half way point in piecing them together. I had 24 rows and she had 25. There are a total of 49 rows. We put them side by side on a bed. Mine is the blue and purple and hers the yellow and green.

We have learned so much in making these. First, we did not have much guidance regarding color choices on this pattern. I think I would include more light colors next time. One tip,of course, is to have numbered swatches to keep track where you are. Another tip is to be careful if you wash and press your fabrics so you do not distort your fabric. Sharon had a problem with this. I don't pre-wash, but I use several Color Catcher sheets when I wash the final product. We have been told that we should have stitched one row going up and alternate with going down. We will do that next time.Yesterday,the idea light came on in my head and decided we should begin the second half of the quilt without attaching to the first half. This way we are not having to deal with all that extra fabric. We can put the two halves together later.

Some rows of the quilts finish at only 1/2" wide. I sewed 9 rows in one sitting and didn't add 5" inches to the width of the quilt. These are sofa sized quilts. We decided if we ever do another bargello it will be bed-sized so strips will be wider. On this pattern the queen size has 1" finished rows as the smallest width.

Here is a photo of one of the newly covered chair seats I mentioned above. It is a beautiful blue and gray print on white. I used a fabric shower curtain. They should wipe off easily enough. My sister Karen said she thinks she saw the idea on Pinterest and I thought it was a good one. I have enough left for a matching window valance. I have always wanted a blue and white kitchen.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

More Slow Sunday Stitching

First I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving week-end to my Canadian friends. Here in the USA many are celebrating Columbus Day week-end. Sure wish our Thanksgiving here was farther from Christmas. How nice that would be.

Well, since it is Sunday, I have been hand-piecing some more on my Triangles of the Past. This quilt is made medallion style. So, I will just keep adding rows around the center square. Hopefully, I will be able to complete the other 3 black/gray/brown sides today.
You would think that because I am stitching on a drawn straightline that my seams would be perfectly straight. Sometimes they are a little off. But, I doubt it will make a difference in the overall project.
If you missed my previous post, the photo below shows how the quilt will look when finished. This is from an old Australian quilt magazine.

Today I am linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching. Check out what others are hand-stitching today. Hope you find time to slow stitch something, too.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Slow Sunday Stitching

Two posts in 2 days? Wow! I'm on a roll! A couple posts back I mentioned that I wanted to do some hand-piecing. That post is here. I got started  a few days ago, but last night I ripped out most of what I had stitched. My stitches are good (small and even). It's just that I think I need to get better at cutting my pieces from a template. Then, they will fit together better. That's half the battle. I have stitched on it this morning and I'm happy with it. This is certainly a learning experience. Here is this morning's progress. 

This is done medallion style. The next row around this center will be beige, cream, gold, and  mid-brown. I will be linking up to Kathy's Quilts Slow Sunday Stitching post.

I also want to learn to do needle turn applique'. Months ago I bought the pattern for Edyta Sitar's Spring Sprouts. The pieces are small, but not tiny. It's done in batiks. Love it!
But, I'm thinking maybe I should start with something else. I guess I could just do an applique' pillow. I did fairly well appliqueing the circles to my dresden plate quilt. Yesterday in the mail I received the Lori Smith pattern shown below. It's called Lily's Garden and looks a little simplier than Spring Sprouts. She used 1930's small prints for most of her quilt, but would lend itself to almost any small prints. I love them both!
How about some pointers from those of you who do neddle turn applique'? I love the idea of stitching by hand while watching TV or listening to a book on my Ipod.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Scattered Thoughts

Whew! I'm happy that last Tuesday has come and gone. I had been sewing non-stop to try and get my challenge quilt wallhanging done for the guild meeting. Plus, I had agreed to present the Easy Dresden ruler and needed to finish up some examples for using it. I was so nervous during the presentation. But, my Dresden Place quilt top got lots of "ooh's and aah's".

If you recall we had to use a quirky strped fabric in the wallhanging. We also had to include a pieced star and we could add only 5 other fabrics. Some took an easy out and made a small star from the challenge fabric. Not much of the stripe was actually used. This was my first challenge, so that surprised me. Guess I thought the challenge fabric should be more of a focus fabric. The first place winner did actually use a lot of that fabric. I didn't win anything, but I was happy with my entry.

 I used the Quilty Barns designed by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet blog for the barn blocks. For the 6" quilt blocks on the sides of the barns I used an older quilt book I had in my book stash. It is called Around the Block with Judy Hopkins. The rest of the quilt I just made up as I went along which required a lot of seam ripping.

After the guild meeting I had lunch with Teresa of A Quilt and a Prayer blog and her friend Joanne. Oh, my goodness! I learned more about free-motion quilting from these ladies in 5 minutes than all the books and videos I have seen. I could not wait to try their tips and they worked! Thank you so much!!!

Yesterday I was finally able to get back together with quilty friend Sharon so we could work on our Spiral Burst Bargellos. If you missed the post about this project, you can read it here. We managed to finish preparing the 49 strips for these quilts. Next week we will begin to put them together. Working together has been so much fun! We can't wait to see the outcome. We are already trying to think of another shared project for early next year.

Last night I was going through some things in my sewing room. First I found the paint chips for Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street quilt. I picked them up last year at Lowe's and immediately misplaced them. That's why I never made this mystery quilt. (wink, wink) That's my story and I'm sticking to it. LOL

Then, I came across these goodies below. Lots and lots of 3" squares that I had apparently aquired years ago in an online swap. I really don't remember these. It had to be back in 1999. I do remember swapping 2" squares (including a signature square) for a millennium quilt. That quilt is still a UFO. Maybe by the next millennium? But, these beauties are 3" squares.

I'm assuming the red check with the maple leaf is from Canada. And, below is the clue that they are probably from 1999. As you can see, there are stacks and stacks of these. What to do?

 Maybe these would be a good leader and ender project. I have always wanted to make a simple 9-patch quilt with the alternate squares and the background color the same. The background would be a solid color, but not a neutral. Maybe set on-point?  Three inch squares really wouldn't play well with other sizes unless I cut them down to 1-1/2 ". I really don't want to do that. Any other suggestions?

Hope you find some time to quilt this beautiful Fall day.

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Project

For a while now one of my quilty friends and I have wanted a good take-along project. A project to work on while watching late night TV with the hubby. Most important is to have a project to work on when we go to our guilds' Sit and Stitch. I've tried the English paper-pieced hexagons that seem to be so popular. They just did not hold my interest. My friend and I had both considered hand-piecing quilts. After all, that's the way quilts were first made. So, last week I was looking through some of my collection of quilting books. I came across an Australian magazine (Patchwork and Quilting) that I had been saving.

 I would have guessed I bought it 7 or 8 years ago. Nope, look at the date on the pull-out pattern section.
This is a beautiful issue. Aussie quilters are fantastic. I love the projects in this issue. The quilt that really caught my eye was the one pictured below called Triangles of the Past. It is made medallion-style. It begins with the center block and borders are added. The color variation of each border is what adds interest to the quilt. Plus, there is only one template except for the final 4 corners. And, yet, I still have a problem keeping up with one template. What is up with that! Do you have that problem?

Most of the quilts I make are light and bright with lots of white. But, this one is so different. I do have some black and rust fabrics in my stash. I have loads of creams and ivorys, oranges, grays and cream shirtings.
Because I didn't have many browns, apricots, or light blues, I talked my book club buds into a road trip to Bowling Green, KY for lunch, book discussion, and then drive another 14 miles to Whittle's fabrics. There are only 3 of us in the club and we have been meeting for lunch and book discussion monthly for 3 years. One friend is a novice quilter and the other loves road trips, so it wasn't a hard sell. It was a gorgeous Fall day! Perfect for stocking up on Fall colors.
Here is some of my new stash enhancement.
I bought some light blues, rusts, apricots, golds, and browns. A couple pieces may not work well. We will see. The quilt designer suggests you choose the fabrics as you go. And, she demonstrates the way to hand-piece the quilt. I started on it last night. I'll show my progress in a later post.