Monday, December 12, 2016

Three down, mumbamillions to go

This last week's labors spent finishing and last minute touches and rechecks on the baby quilt for Savannah (#Savannahsmiles!!) which will be sent out today. This baby quilt marks my first real attempts at freemotion quilting, as I learned how to drop the feed dogs and put the foot on my Elna. Zach at ABS in Vacaville was most accommodating, waiting while I pushed the feed dogs up and down several times. The foot was $11 which seemed entirely reasonable, due to the price-checking I'd done at a certain nationwide chain, whose staff has been just plain UNhelpful and one baby step away from rude. 

The blanket is the Carolyn Christmas' Cheerful Child, from pinkmambo, which I have now made three times. This pattern's skill level is "adventurous beginner" (her classification). I've found the pattern to be easy enough that there has been almost no frogging, yet subtly complex enough to delight all viewers. My only frustration was in taking the photo, finally took this side-by-side on the cedar Adirondack chair. The baby quilt is match-up of orphan blocks (16patch small batiks and neutrals) trimmed to 5" squares, matched up with a charm pack by Penny Rose Studio, Toy Chest. There is now a Toy Chest 2, this was from the first Toy Chest.

These pictures are only of one finished project, which is "E" (Baby Quilt A nine-patch/charm for Savannah); to be added at a later date, e.g. tonight or tomorrow will be the "pink pile" from the middle and "C" the Stripey Blanket.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Finish Along 4th Quarter

I've been wondering about my participation in the finish-along, specifically if it has helped me to actually finish projects. Yes, in that my head count is 2 baby quilts, one mini-wall quilt and one child sized blanket. These are tangible, finished projects - yet somehow I find myself lacking, possibly because it takes so long to finish a full-sized project. A year ago, I finished the quilt top for "Gypsy Wife" but it languishes in the stack of quilt tops. I've been pondering this, and have come to the conclusion that I have to improve my ability to finish a quilt, specifically doing the quilting. There is a Brother Computerized Sewing Machine sitting on my worktable, and me unable to figure out how to work it. I'm no novice to sewing machines, just recently (without manual or internet access) at a friend's house, I figured out how to thread, wind the bobbin and sew on a friend's machine, then taught her how to do all of the above. I've decided that my Brother inability is not reflective on my general ability. Anyway, my goal for October is to get that thing going and finish a quilt top. 

And in that spirit, here are my proposed finishes for the fourth quarter of the Finish-a-long. 

Clockwise, from the top left: 
A-Christmas quilt (double quilt top of Ohio Stars & red-edged appliqued Christmas trees,     B. Pat Sloan's Little Stars 2015 Scrappy Challenge, 
C-Stripey Blanket, 
D-Baby Blanket A (Cherry Blossom), 
E-Baby Quilt A (nine-patch/charm for Savannah), 
F-blue linen sheath, 
G-jade linen sheath, 
H-Julie Yeager Garden State CAL,
 I-Scrappy Wall Quilt (making its 4th appearance? lol), 
J-Baby Quilt B (Resolution block set on point), 
K-Afghan in multi-browns, 
L-set of two appliqued terrycloth kitchen towels. 
In the middle, from top, log cabin in aquas and newsprint, baby afghan in Monet, and the pink pile is Cheerful Child Blanket (Carolyn Christmas) which is almost half-finished already. That's a lot! I'd better get going to finish!

Friday, October 7, 2016

One Is Better Than None...

I am a butterfly, I flit and I float and I enjoy the journey as I create. Here's to finishing one project and enjoying what I did in the last 3 months. Baby Blanket "B" in brights. Huzzah!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Finishalong - 3rd quarter 2016

ACK!!! I've been assembling and deciding and pulling all my beautiful WIPs and UFOs for a week now and it's the moment of truth and putting it out there and I have less than 17 minutes now!! Of course I'm struggling with the new laptop, rushing back and forth with the old laptop but my entry is in, with at least 30 seconds to spare. For the 3rd quarter - think varied and think big lots. Top row, left to right - Garden State CAL, baby afghan "A" in Monet, baby afghan "B" in brights, Craftsy's 2016 BOM (I've been defiant because my absolute #1 despised quilty thing is to cut up little squares and sew them at the edges of larger squares, on a diagonal, then trim, fold over and press. I only like techniques like "no waste flying geese.") Middle row, left to right - baby quilt "A" (Resolution block set on point), the string quilt that won't take a hint and disappear into Permafrost UFO land, the log cabin in aquas and newsprint (Quilt Sandwich Fabrics in Marysville, WA had a tutorial on this last summer and I loved the color combination), and baby quilt "A" (which will be for Kristin and Jose's new baby, Savannah.) Bottom row, left to right - two lined linen sheaths (McCalls6887) in electric blue lol and jade, set of two appliqued kitchen terrycloth towels, cherry blossom afghan (baby afghan "C"??), and Pat Sloan 2015 challenge "Little Stars."
Thirteen projects, varied crafts and techniques. My problem with finishes is I get bored doing one kind of thing and want to do something else. Hence the varied projects may service my ennui. And I just realized I forgot to include the mug rugs. Hello, October!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Second Quarter Finishes for Finish-a-long

This picture, and its bold prediction, appeared April 16th, or three months ago at the start of the second quarter of the Finish-a-Long. From top left, a sampler quilt from Quiltnon 2016, Baby Blanket A (the vibrant colors), Baby Blanket B (nine patch), Baby Blanket C (also in vibrant colors and extremely similar to Baby Blanket A since A and C were made for twin boys...!!!), Baby Blanket D (blue background, Resolution block set on point), and a string quilt.
Baby Blanket C #FAL2016
 I have two more finishes to announce, Baby Blanket C and the sampler quilt from the top left, and a confession. In addition to the pedestrian quantity of finger pokes, I actually snipped my left index finger (proximal, second phalanges) and my left thumb (distal, first phalanges) while snipping off thread. GOOD GRIEF, and it hurt like h-e-double chopsticks. Yes, I am paying loads more attention to my snipping.

Sampler Quiltnon 2016 #FAL2016

Thank you, Snoopy. Ah, a man in the right place, at the right time...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Bonfire quiltalong - Tulip Lady Fingers

Since January, I've been making the blocks from Sister Sampler Quilts in the "Bonfire" quiltalong hosted by GenXQuilters. My techniques have improved in the overall sense (cut, measure, sew precisely, measure again and trim to exact measurements) and well as specifically. Last month there was a tutorial for "no waste flying geese" which I treasured. One large square, four small squares, pin sew cut trim press..repeat and then you have four flying geese units and the only waste is a little bit of trimming to make the units uniform and square. Brilliant!

Looking at the January, February, March and April blocks, I've noticed my color selection is all over the map, or should I say the palate? I like using low volume fabric for background (Jan and Feb) but unless you use the same low volume throughout, it's going to glare out against the white background blocks. I may double up and make two sets of each block, which will solve the problem of WHAT to use for backing. I really prefer to use two quilt tops together instead of one quilt top and acres of backing material. (An added benefit, if you donate quilts, is the material fact that there is twice the value - two quilt tops - which gives me a sturdier leg to stand on while arguing the market value of the donated quilt.)

I now abhor instructions to cut one 2" square of white, sew at the edge then trim the edges at a 45 degree angle - because all you're doing is wasting fabric in little driblets all over the place. I even went so far as to throw into the trash one quilting book whose instructions were all about cutting little pieces of white fabric, sewing and cutting at a 45 degree angle and discarding. The quilt looked fun, for sure, but since I still don't have an opinion about sewing those little white squares, let's just say there was no fun left for me after the first 2 pages of making everything with little white squares.

Today I made a "Tulip Lady Fingers" block using the bright white background. The second block in this pattern will be some of the Blueberry Park fabrics (Karen Lewis), and I will photograph the process (which will make me even more disciplined!!) I can't decide which side goes which way. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Baby Quilt A is finito!

In this Finish-a-long, 2nd quarter, I have my first finish, and am feeling very optimistic about the rest of the projects! After all, there are two months left. Baby Quilt "A" (as referenced in my previous post) has been completed and given to the mother. I'm still working on Baby Quilt "C," which is for the same family, due to the twins they are expecting in June. When I finish "C" I will sign and date both A and C...but the circumstances surrounding "C" are fraught with frustrations. Due to the time constraint, I decided to try to start using the Brother XR-9000 which I've been longing to use for machine quilting but "sakes preserve us" - their credo must be, "McDonalds was sued for serving hot coffee, fill the manual with warnings." And I began sifting through, trying to get to the "good stuff" like how to wind a bobbin and thread the machine and actually do something? Here is a sampling, and remember, I kid you not.

"Upper Threading"
Set the upper thread and thread the needle.
For details on the needle threader, see page 18.

- Make sure you thread the machine properly. Otherwise, the thread could tangle and break the needle.

1. Raise the presser foot using the presser foot lever.
2. Raise the needle but turning the handwheel toward you....


If the spool of thread is in the wrong place, or is set incorrectly, the thread may tangle on the spool pin and cause the needle to break. 

It still ain't threaded, the bobbin ain't wound, and I'm calling one of my lifelines. Final answer.

Here is Baby Quilt A. Huzzah!! #2016FAL

And last day of the month but not least, second block from GenXQuilters' Bonfire Block of the Month - April. This month I learned a new technique, "no waste flying geese" which made me exceedingly happy as I do NOT like to sew little ditsy squares together and cut and total scrappage in this wasn't even enough to fill a thimble. Thanks Ann Marie love the no waste technique! (Also love the ironing board in the background)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Finish-A-Long Second Quarter

Here are my proposed projects for the second quarter of 2016 - clockwise from the top: 
- Sampler I made from participating in Quiltnon2016 (quilting and binding)
- Baby Blanket A (finish the quilting)
- Baby Blanket B (quilting and binding)
- Baby Blanket C (quilting)
- Baby Blanket D (binding and finish the quilting)
- Scrap Wall Quilt (quilting, binding and a kick in the rear)

Baby Blankets A-C are all three "due" by the end of May. Errrgggggghhh.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Finishalong - one completion

In the last hours of the first quarter of the Finishalong, I find myself with one entry only!! And wondering where the three months went? Not really - I do wish I'd finished more on my To Finish List, but I've had such a good time working on everything I've been working on, and eyeing the three months pass by, it's a long three months when you make every day count. 

Last October, I was alone in Portland, Maine for a day. Pepsipal caught an early flight home (airline employees travel by the seat of their pants because it's for free) and what was I to do? I immediately managed to get lost trying to take a scenic route and avoid the turnpike, which infuriated me with myself. I backtracked and managed to find Joann's on Brighton Ave, and wandered around there for several hours, looking at patterns and observing demographic inventory differences.

I wanted a small project to occupy me on my travel home from Boston. What I found was a table runner, and I decided to make one using batiks. This meant I could choose at least six fat quarter batiks plus a half-yard of a bolt fabric! 

The next day at approximately one pm I caught a bus from Portland to Logan, and that was the start of the trip from Portland to home. I was on buses, public transportation, airplanes and waiting in airports until about eight pm the next day - and I completed six motifs. I made one more, then let the runner sit around for several months but here it is for your viewing pleasure. I love the green edging (makes me think of Scarlett O'Hara's jade green watered silk dress) and the green batik backing. All the way from Logan to you!

And here are my original projects. No matter, they're back on the to-do list for next quarter!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

All My Time and Energy ...

All my time and energy goes into making curves when curves are required, trimming to size and squaring up. I used to resist but now I only make a little face while biting the bullet and investing mere minutes into making my blocks one step closer to "just right."

In the Bonfire quiltalong, here are my blocks for March. We are using Sister Sampler Quilts by AnneMarie Chany. This month is Time and Energy. I'm going to make another block using 2 colors in the petals, and watch my contrast and values. I love the indigo batik by itself; with the dark purple print the middle became a muddle.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

#79 Patience, #39 Grandma, #90 Sara

Not the seventy-ninth block I've made, but #79 in the book "The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt" and release #17 in the quiltalong that started September 28, 2015. There are over 6,200 members in the facebook group sharing and posting, from all over the world. As of today, there have been 36 blocks released with tutorials on gnomeangel's website.

Here is a picture of Patience in progress - very easy block. Nine little squares (which allow for fussy cut) that go together zip zip zip!!! with chain-piecing. Fifteen minutes to cut out, chain press chain press trim once again. Done! Zebra stripes, oak and maples leaves with pumpkin pie color background. (Debbie Mumm harvest print)
#39 Grandma was so many little triangles to sew together!!! Actually the biggest challenge was fabric audition. Gnomeangel used a print of luscious oranges, which provided inspiration to look for a fruit print. Strawberries were what I finally chose, with green batik and a lighter green print for contrast. After cutting, I line up all the pieces, then chain piece, press, check layout, repeat.

Grandma #39, all finished. Seeing the blocks made by the hosts of quiltalongs is both helpful and "blocking" (writer's block, creative block, get it??). For example, the tutorial for #90 Sara has a white/red floral, a dark red print and a medium red solid. Good value placement - but I couldn't see past this example. Finally I was able to visualize and chose a dark pink print (Sandy Gervais, Snap Pop), a light pink print and a light green print that picks up pink by Riley Blake. This went together quickly chain-piecing the 4-pieces, adding the triangle end pieces and assembling the rows. This picture exaggerates the bias stretch, next time I shall plan my steps to avoid it. 

Moon and Star Sister Blocks

With 38 minutes to spare, here are my lovely finished blocks created for the first month of the Bonfire BOM, hosted by AnneMarie of GenXQuilters. (Actually almost 12 hours remain but I liked the sound of 38 minutes better...). Apparently I an drawn to an orange and blue combination, as I thought I was doing something different in the second block (did I not even look at the first block??)  

Yes....there is an inset CURVED seam, preparing for which I slightly gritted my teeth and went forward (kind of like dealing with the "A" word)("A" as in applique). I looked at the text in "Sister Sampler Quilts" and watched the video link AnneMarie made, which actually makes the whole process look easy. I hand-pieced the seams in the first block (the one with the beige tone background), in the second block I did both hand and machine piecing on the curved seam. You don't want to use a lot of pins unless you're hand-piecing (stitch remove pin, stitch stitch remove pin...) and then if you machine piece you could run over a pin and break the needle of the machine. If you hand-piece it's much smoother, more consistent BUT you cannot trim or at least you have to really really really be careful trimming your block to size.

Here is the first month of craftsy's 2016 BOM, "Garden Charm," in a horizontal pose.
(Craftsy shows it vertically, as it were). It was an enormous challenge for me to adhere to the florals. Except for one BasicGrey which was needed as it had both green and pink tones, it's floral-ish. Flourish with the floralish. The tutorial did not provide for working with HSTs, you cut a square into diagonal quarters and sew individually (which allows for so much greater stretching error when sewing on the bias and feeding long ends so I sewed the "short" ends of the right triangles). The pattern calls for pink floral for the first border but this cadet blue volunteered. The next section is dogtooth (another pink floral) and an ivy green floral border. RJR designer and Thimbleberries founder Lynette Jensen created this pattern and the teaching videos and there was a kit available at, when I clicked on it today, it was available for $119.00.

Lynette Jensen said to experiment and move the hourglasses around until you liked the arrangement and to ensure there was the pattern of cream/floral throughout the block. The cream/floral pattern is intact in my block, but I didn't work the placement enough. I've found that the most casual comments of instructors are often the most influential - as I scowl at my clumpings of browns and blues. Below is what I will use for the outer border - Arabella by Marianne Elizabeth. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fixing to get ready to get started....

...and here I have resolved with this New Year, to shift into fourth gear. After drifting along for several hours today, looking at sites, I stumbled across "A Quilter's Table" and decided to join the 2016 Quilt-a-long. This is not another project - this is putting it out there that "I'm going to finish these UFOs this quarter." To wit - the batik table runner I handpieced on the road in Portland, Maine; Logan Airport in Boston, cross country, and waiting at LAX October 7-9, 2015. Pat Sloan's Little Wishes Challenge  (need 2 more blocks after deciding against the on-point arrangement). Quilt Sandwich Fabric's offering from Piecing the Piece o' Cake Way in a similar colorway because I like theirs so much (the July 31. 2015 post from quiltlsandwichblog). Last, the scrappy wall quilt I couldn't quite finish in 2015 time to donate to Interfaith Housing for their 2016 fundraiser, Ruby Slippers, on Feb. 6th. This little wall quilt will be up for grabs (probably in the silent auction.) And it's for a very good cause!!!
 ps the batik table runner - see Travels with the WiFi Bandit for the full story...