Friday, December 19, 2014

Ready or Not . . .

. . . the holidays are coming!  Are you ready?  I think I'm mostly ready.  Well, except for wrapping the presents, finishing the few Christmas cards left and baking two batches of cookies.  That's close though, don't you think?  I'm trying to maintain serenity.  (Yeah, right.)

Christmas Spools
17 x 21 inches

Just to add some Christmas cheer to my blog, here's an "oldie but a goodie" that I've put up every year since I made it.  This was made sometime between 1986 and 1990.  (Bad quilter - didn't put on a label)  It definitely has '80's fabrics in there!  I was inspired to make this by a sample in the window of my favorite quilt shop at that time "Going to Pieces" in Pleasanton, California.  I just fell in love with that little quilt, so I went home and copied it from memory.  No pattern.  And I made mitered corners on those spools!   And hand-quilted.  I still love it!

Here is the first half of the flying geese I need to make for the mystery quilt I'm working on.  I couldn't even get them all in the photo!  And sorry for the crummy picture - it doesn't work too well to take pix at night.  I need to make this many again, only in different colors.  I'm not sure how big these units are, but over on the left there are 2 of my Block Lotto blocks for this month and they are 7 inch blocks.

Here are some more mystery quilt units that I've been working on.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but that is a rusty red and a black-ish brown.  This quilt will be autumn colors.  Nothing is hard sewing, but there is lots and lots of pieces and units.

I bought the Paperweights pattern from Karen Griska (of the Selvage Blog) on her Etsy store.  I'm making a little test sample quiltlet to see how well the fusible I'm using will work.  I think this will be cute!  

We had a deer visitor again yesterday.  This deer used to come around with his mama and sibling, and now he's on his own.  (really, I don't know if it's a "he" - I just call him that).  He's still young.  This spring's baby, I think.  But there he was lying in the yard, and he stayed that way for at least 20 minutes.  My picture-taking (through the kitchen window) didn't seem to bother him at all.  He watched me as much as I watched him!  Then he just got up and sauntered off.

Good luck with your last-minute holiday preparations!  I hope you get a few minutes to do some sewing or quilting.  I'm going to go sew with friends this afternoon!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Vintage Eye Candy

I've been sewing and sewing, but since I'm only making parts and pieces so far, there are no photos to share with you.  So, since I'm sorely lacking in any good blog material, I thought I would share some pictures of vintage quilts with you.  Unfortunately, in the case of these quilts, I didn't manage to get a photo of the entire quilt, but I got some closeups, mostly because I love looking at all the vintage fabrics!  I hope you'll enjoy them too.

These quilts were in the bed turning in our local quilt show in October.  If you don't know what a bed turning is, I'll explain.  When I first came to the Pacific Northwest, I'd never heard of a bed turning.  I had visions of putting a bed with wheels in the middle of the floor and turning it all around.  To perhaps view a quilt on the bed from all angles?  *giggle*  I had no idea!  I'd never heard of or seen a bed turning in California, but I've seen them done at a lot of the quilt shows in this area.  Do you ever see them where you live?  I'm just curious.

Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt

How a bed turning is done:  First, you take all the quilts and layer them on the bed.  Then the audience sits on chairs placed around the bed while one person reads the story about the quilt (from the owner or maker of the quilt) while two other people (the "holders") hold up the top edge of the quilt to show it to all the viewers.  Then the holders "turn down" or fold the quilt down to the foot of the bed to expose the next quilt in the pile.

GFG closeup

Usually the quilts tend to be antiques or vintage but this year our theme was "quilts with stories".  Because, really, isn't that what we all want to know?  Who's grandma made it, where and when did they live, or did you find this for an incredible price at Goodwill or a yard sale?  Whatever your story was, we wanted to know.

sorry about the shadow

I love these bright fabrics, and the rather random placement of some of them.  Fun!

Isn't that misplaced polka dot fun?

We had a lot of people come to watch the bed turning, which we had 3 times a day during the quilt show.  There were a lot of people who didn't know what a bed turning was, but they came out of curiosity and just loved the little show!   There was a lot of comments and interaction between the audience and the reader and "holders" and that was fun.  No one else wanted to be the reader so I usually read the stories, which meant that I didn't get to see the quilts very well.  The last showing on the last day, I had someone else read the stories and I was a "holder".  I took these photos as we were folding up the quilts after the show.

quilt with string blocks

This was an interesting quilt.  It was found at a garage sale a few years ago.  It has another quilt inside of it!  In places you could kind of see another pattern through the top fabrics, and there were some fabrics where you could see some printing, which I think must have been feed sacks.  This quilt was very heavy!

string stars

This quilt is owned by the same person as the other string quilt above, and was also purchased at the same garage sale.  It also has another quilt inside!  I'm guessing both quilts were made by the same quilter.  This quilt was a little more used and there were a couple of spots that were coming unstitched so that I could peek inside.  I could see another quilt inside that was pieced and quilted, but quite worn out.   Both of these string quilts were the ultimate in scrap quilting!

By the way, the oldest quilt in our bed turning this year was a top, purportedly made by the mother or grandmother of Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame.  It had been passed down in the family for many generations.  It was very thin and frail fabrics, and it was believable (to me) that it just possibly could have been from the late 1700's.  It was a pieced pattern (all by hand, of course) in burgundy and white solid fabrics.  Dumb me, I didn't get a picture!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

What's Up

I've been busy around here. November is a crazy month for us here.  There are 3 family birthdays in one week - me and both of my kids!  We've had major windstorms and power outages, unseasonably freezing weather (twice in November!) and we also do Turkey Day.  And my dear husband was gone for 2 weeks to China on business, arriving home the day before T-Day.  Whew!

I think I'm finally recovered from hosting Thanksgiving!  We had the whole family here, except for my niece, who's in Vermont.  10 people.  It was crazy but fun, and all the food was soooo good.  Probably too good, if you know what I mean.  But, the house is cleaned up, most of the food is gone/eaten and I'm rested up - now I get to sew!

Here's what I've been working on:

One Big-O block

My first Block Lotto block for the December Lotto drawing.  Easy-peasy and fun.  I made a mistake in measuring a pillowcase and had to cut some off.  This was made from what I cut off.  Now to make 11 more!  Dark background (in this case black) and quilter's choice for the other fabric.

9 Easy X blocks
Here are my blocks I made for the November Block Lotto drawing.  I didn't win. *pout*  But that's OK.  There's always the next month!  These were also easy and fun.  Jewel tones and black.  I always love that combo.

I finally got around to finishing a couple of pillowcases for my youngest son's host "mom" in Spain.  It was taken me an embarassingly long time to get these done.  There was internets research and learning opportunities involved in this process.  It turns out that Spanish bed pillows are quite different from what we have here in the U.S.A.  And they're different sizes depending on the bed they are on too.  And, it also involved translating centimeters to inches.  (Maths)  So I had to guess, especially when I misplaced my measuring tape.  Then when I found it I discovered that there is centimeters on the "other" side!  Which is why I ended up cutting off some fabric - one pillowcase came out way longer that the other one.  Now they're the same.  Not saying they're the right size - but they are consistent.  The host mom really got a kick out of my son's pillowcases he took with him (we both travel with our own pillows and I make all his pillowcases in fun fabrics), so I thought she might like a couple too.  This ended up being much more involved than I ever would have guessed, but I really hope they fit and that she likes them!

B's Scrappy Trips

This past summer, I taught a workshop on Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips pattern to my guild.  They had a lot of fun doing those blocks!  Some of the ladies actually got their quilt finished in time for our quilt show this year.  (not me, though)  So I thought you might like to see how well they did.  I think the quilts came out great!

B's quilt is so bright and cheery!  I love blue and yellow together.

J's Scrappy Trips

J. used a Jelly Roll of Minick and Simpson fabrics.  I love all those rich reds!

M's Scrappy Trips

M. used a jelly roll.  She chose to use black sashing in her quilt.

Right now I'm in the midst of working on a mystery quilt from the year 2000.  I think it may have aged enough by now to get finished.  It's going to be a twin size, and hoo boy, it's taking me a while.  There are about a million units to this one!  No real block, per se, just lots of units to form an over-all design.  Yes, I cheated and looked at the last clue already.  I started running out of fabric and had to substitute, so I wanted to know if that would work.  Fortunately, I started this out doing scrappy so throwing in another couple of fabrics isn't the end of the world.  I'm on Step 4 of 6.  No photos yet.  Soon, hopefully.  Next up is sewing a few thousand flying geese units.  Well, it feels like a few thousand of them!

The cats were playing the other night, and I tried to take a photo of them because they were so cute.  But, the flash didn't come out like I thought it would.  

Cat headlights.  Dunkel has his regular beams on and Shade has his high beams on!  hee hee!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mod 9-Patch - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Welcome to my blog, if you've come over here from the Blogger's Quilt Festival!  And welcome back to my regular readers.  I'm so happy you're here!

First of all, I'd like to send a huge THANKS! to Amy for all her hard work in getting this on-line Quilt Festival underway, with great sponsors and awesome prizes too.  The Festival is my favorite on-line event of the year.  Where else can you see hundreds of quilts all while in your jammies with your fave beverage?  It's available any time you want to visit, all without miles of walking and no crowded parking lots - just lots of quilts!  And I get to meet new-to-me quilters and make new friends.  I love it!

Here is my first entry in the BQF this time:

Mod 9-Patch: Comma Musings
65 x 77 inches
Entered in the Modern category

This was my first real foray into making a Modern quilt.  I found the Comma by Zen Chic line of charm squares and fell in love with them.  I adore fabrics that have text on them!  It took me awhile to decide what the best pattern would be to use these particular charms.  And then I remembered seeing the Modernized Disappearing Nine Patch tutorial over on Kristy Daum's St. Louis Folk Victorian blog. Her tute was so easy to understand and follow.  I'm just thrilled at how great this came out!

I had fun playing with the blocks for the Modernized Disappearing Nine-Patch.  I was looking for a way to stretch the two packs of charm squares to get a bigger quilt, and this design fit the bill.  There's lots of open space in the blocks.  I used a kind-of-silvery grey solid for background - I didn't want to overwhelm the prints.  I'm really happy with the grey.  Most of the 9-patches use only 4 squares of the print fabric, which worked out great with the packs of charm squares.  I actually had enough charms to do 2 or 3 blocks that used 5 of the charms, just for a little extra variety.  That's one of the fun parts of the MD9P pattern - there's room for some improvisation of your own in the individual block design.

My long-armer Shari and I worked out the best quilting design for this quilt.  I actually found this pattern on Pinterest, and sent Shari the link to the photo.  Shari then free-hand quilted the pattern.  My usual choice is a curvy quilting pattern over a geometric pieced pattern, but I think this design fits this quilt well.  I think the quilting and the fabric work really well together to give a "modern" vibe to the quilt.

I put that ubiquitous IKEA "number" fabric on the back.  Again, text on fabric!  It makes my heart happy.

I did a piped binding (edited to add: technically a flange, as it has no filling) on this quilt, because I thought it needed that little pop of color out on the edge.  This is the first quilt I've ever tried this on and was a little worried about how easy the technique would be.  It was so easy!  I even got all 4 corners perfect, which never happens for me.  I'm ready to do this type of binding again, because it was so quick and easy.

You may have noticed what appears to be a ribbon on the quilt in the top photo. Here is a close-up of that Participation Ribbon from the quilt show.  Every quilt entered received a ribbon, all of them made by Judy, our featured quilter.  Isn't it sweet?  Even though I didn't win any awards, this quilt is a winner in my book.  It came out exactly like I wanted it to!

Buttoned Up - The Blogger's Quilt Festival

Welcome to my little blog, if you've come over from the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  And welcome back, if you are one of my regular visitors.  I'm glad you stopped by!

First, a big Thank You to Amy for hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival.  It's my favorite on-line event of the year!

Here is my second entry in the BQF this autumn:

Buttoned Up
52 x 68 inches
Entered in the Small Quilt category

This quilt was a long-term project - that was never meant to be long-term!  I started this quilt about 20 years ago (to the best of my poor memory).  I intended this to be a cuddle quilt for the love seat in the family room, which was upholstered in pillow ticking.  Well, when we moved 7 years ago, I had to pack up my entire quilt studio.  I put all my projects in under-the-bed plastic bins.  Long story short, I actually lost this quilt! 

somehow, all those buttons remind me of polka dots!
The top was all put together, the inner border was sewn on, and then I put this aside for some reason.  I had put this in a tote bag before I put it in the plastic bin for moving, along with the chambray fabric for the border.  Well, when I unpacked my quilt studio, I just kept everything in the bins because I have no room to get everything out.  You need to realize that I have 10 bins full of unfinished projects. *blush*  Well, I never saw this again, because it was hiding in that tote bag.

Eventually (last year, actually) I thought "Gee, don't I have some chambray fabric somewhere?"  I had a thought of what to use it for.  So, I dug through all those plastic bins and ran across the tote bag.  When I looked in there I said "Aha! There's that chambray fabric!"  And pulled it out.  Only to discover the quilt top!  I had completely forgotten about it.  (See?  There's that poor memory again.)  Now, I can't remember why I was looking for that chambray fabric!

So I got the borders on, and sent it to my long-armer Shari to get it quilted up for me.  And I've been sewing all those buttons on for months.  I sprained my wrist in mid-July this year, and that really put me behind.  It was too painful to sew for very long at a time.  But I really wanted this done in time for my guild's quilt show in early October.

It's finally finished!  I got it done in time to go in the quilt show.  I actually sewed on the very last button the night before I had to turn in the quilt.  Nothing like the last minute, eh?  I no longer have the love seat that it was supposed to go on, but now the quilt is done and will be the cuddle quilt in the family room.

I used a pattern in a book I have called "Better Homes and Gardens: Quilts To Make For Kids" (published in 1991).  I used actual pillow ticking for the "woven" blocks in the top.  I used some bright jewel tone fabrics that were so popular in the '90's for the inner border.  And I bought buttons to match those colors to put on the top.  One problem though - I never counted how many buttons I would need to do every intersection on the top!  So, I have been buying more buttons at various stores.  Did you know that button colors change over the years?  I cannot find that particular fuchsia (a vivid purplish-red color, like the flowers) color of buttons anymore!  Dark pink, yes, but not fuchsia.  Just thought you might like to know that. *grin*

Anyway, I managed to find a little more of those bright jewel tone fabrics still hiding in my stash.  So I used them for part of the binding, and I even had enough to put some on the back of the quilt!  I used embroidery floss for putting on the buttons, matching the color of the floss to the button color.  I sewed though the quilt a couple of times, then tied the floss off, leaving short tails of the floss.

I was asked at the quilt show if I got dizzy putting this quilt together, because of all the stripes.  I really didn't have a problem with it.  The digital camera doesn't like focusing on the stripes - they seem to vibrate in the photos - but they're not as bad when you're up close to them. 

To my surprise, this quilt won 3rd place for People's Choice at the quilt show!  I love this quilt, and I'm so glad to finally have it finished!

Enjoy the BQF!  And I hope you'll come back to visit my blog again!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Now, back to my regularly scheduled life . . . .

At least I hope so!  Now that the Quilt Show is over and done - only one last recap meeting tomorrow! - maybe things can get back to normal.   The show was fun, but it was also a lot of hard work, and it seemed to take up my whole year.  We had a LOT of committee meetings, not to mention spending 5 days out at the fairgrounds where the show was held this year.  2 days of set up, 2 days of show, 1 day of take down.  I'm actually still tired.  The building we were in seemed bigger than a football field and I can't tell you how many trips up and down the length of it I had to walk.

The quilt show went really well, I think.  All of the visitors seemed very pleased with the show, and most of the vendors too.  I thought the quilts all looked great!  We had over 300 quilts, which is darned good for a guild of about 60.  I had 10 quilts on display, including some newly finished ones, which  I will be sharing with you over the next few posts.

Let's start with this one.  I know I've shown it in various stages of production over the last few months, but here it is all finished and in the quilt show!

Ochre :: Strata
31 inches by 32 1/2 inches

(No, I didn't win an award on this quilt.  The ribbon on the right side was a Participation Ribbon that every quilt in the show received.)  That bottom edge is not wonky, it is curved on purpose.  It ended up kind of uneven after piecing, and I decided I liked it that way and trimmed it in a curve.  Which fits with the rest of the quilt because I don't think there's really a straight edge anywhere on this quilt!  This was my "artsy" quilt this year.  *grin*  All free-pieced and kind of my own personal challenge.  You can read more about it here.

not true colors in this photo

Here is a detail shot to show you some of the hand-painted fabrics (by Barb Sherrill) that I used.   They look "shiny" (they're metallic and really are shiny) and are in the approximate middle of each strata in this photo.  There's some painted fabrics scattered throughout the quilt.

true colors in this photo

Here is another detail shot.  I had my quilter Shari quilt this for me on her long-arm, and she followed my request for the not-straight lines.  I love it!  I could have done it, except for the time crunch I was in.  Thanks, Shari!

We had some visitors to the back yard last month.  Mama Deer had two babies this year.  The babies are getting so big it's hard to tell them from Mama.

The doe

the smaller baby
The 2 small deer discovered my small oak tree and thought they had hit the "salad bar" jackpot.  They ate all the leaves from the lower half of the tree!  Yum!

all 3 deer

My injury is finally getting healed!  I'm walking without crutches or a cane now - whoo hoo!.  I'm only wearing the brace when I go out, just for some security until my ankle feels a little more stable.  I'm still nervous on uneven surfaces, but getting better.  And I can climb steps just fine now.  (down is a little harder, but getting better)  I still get occasional twinges in both my ankle and my wrist, but I think I'm just about healed now.  I can't believe how long it's taken me to heal - it's been 3 months!

I'll be back with more finished quilt photos soon.  I hope you get some time to stitch this weekend!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Making Some Progress - and A Quilt!

What a slacker!  I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I posted!  I kept meaning to, but just never really got to it.  I composed lots of posts in my head, but never actually made it to the computer.  Hopefully I can break that trend.

Things are progressing around here!  The physical therapy that I'm doing is starting to pay off.  I'm finally off those darn crutches and am now using a cane.  (I should feel dapper, maybe, but I don't.)  And I am starting to wear a shoe - well, a sandal.  My ankle is still swollen and the shoe hurts, but I'm very tired of walking across parking lots and public restrooms in a mostly-bare foot.  (I still have to wear the brace)  The worst was the floor in the movie theatre - ick!  I'm starting to get around pretty well, and actually went to the grocery store by myself yesterday for the first time in 2 months!  Who knew that going to the grocery store would be something to celebrate?  hee hee!  It was a short trip, and I was pretty tired by the end, but I did it!  Just as an aside here - a cane and a shopping cart are an awkward combination, especially when the thing doesn't fit into one of those cute little carts.  The whole thing with this injury has been a lesson in patience, which I've never been known to have in abundance.  I think a little humility was thrown in there too.

"Vienna Melody"
53 x 74 inches

Here is a quilt that has actually been done for a while, but I don't think I've ever shown it here.  This was a charm square project.  I bought the charm squares and all the companion fabrics years ago, and finally got this finished.  The fabric was "Vienna Nights" by 3 Sisters for Moda, for those who might care.  Charm squares were a brand new thing then, just to give you an idea of how long ago it was!  

the quilting

It's not my favorite quilt.  It's lovely enough, and there's nothing wrong with it at all.  I just feel like it's got no "soul".  There was none of "me" put into this quilt, if you know what I mean.  No creativity. I made two quilts this way, and I learned my lesson.  (you'll get to see the other one as soon as I finish the binding!)  I don't think I'll ever make another quilt just from one line of fabric.  I guess I'm a scrap quilter at heart! 

I'm actually going to be trying to sell this quilt at the quilt show next month.  No one in the family is interested in it, I don't care, and maybe I can make some money to use towards a new computer.  (Mine is an XP, which is pretty much a dinosaur.)  I've never sold a quilt before.  Have you ever sold a quilt?   

"Leftover Lemons"
15 x 15 inches
I got my little "leftovers" quilt all quilted and bound now.  It feels good to have another finish!

I'm starting to put the finishing touches on my things for the quilt show.  Putting on bindings and labels, etc.  I have to have my quilts turned in by Oct. 1st, so the heat is on!

I thought I would share a little trick I use for putting on the binding:

After the binding is made, I do a fan fold with it.  Hopefully you can see what I mean from the photo.  I used to wind it onto a small ruler, but it always got all twisted up.  So I tried using the fan fold, which doesn't twist it at all.  My DH fan folds (instead of wrapping) all his electrical cords before he stores them, which gave me the idea.

Then, I take the fan folded binding and put it into a zip-lock baggie. I close the opening of the baggie except for a hole big enough to feed out the binding.  Then I drop the baggie onto the floor between my feet and start putting it on the quilt.  I've never had it hang up or twist on me, and it works a treat!  I don't know how others do it, but this is my way.  Anything that makes it easier to do is good to know.  Let me know if you try this and how it works for you.

It's been pretty warm here for the last few days, but I think that's just Indian Summer.  Leaves are starting to turn, and the nights are getting pretty chilly.  We were down in the 40's the other night.  The geese started flying north in mid-August this year, which to me seems really early.  Everything seems to be starting earlier this autumn, which to me says we just might be in for a bad winter this year.  I didn't seem to get enough summer this year, just because I couldn't get out and enjoy it so much after mid-July, when I had my accident. 

Hopefully I can post more often now.  I've got more to show you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Update from The Wimpy Gimp

Nothing much to report here.  Still on crutches, still not doing much besides sitting and reading - and still a little whining.  Less whining than there was though, so that is progress!

This picture was taken just a day or two before my accident.  I was trying to determine how much border to add to the top.  As you can see, the Quilt Inspectors had to add their two cents.  It's all ready to send to my long-arm quilter and I hope to have it in the mail this week.  She tells me she can have it back to me quickly.  Yay!

Anyone that has spent some time on crutches will agree with me - it's amazing to discover just how much furniture and general stuff gets in the way when you're trying to navigate around the house on those crutches.  It gets pretty tiring.  And crutches aren't very comfortable to use.  

If I had been more able to sew when I started this little adventure, I would have made myself some cute quilted padding for the arm and hand areas!  Right now I have washcloths on the arm rests, fastened on with rubber bands.  Just soooo appealing.  And the hand rests started bothering my hands.  These crutches are about 30 years old, and the rubber is less than optimal on the hand rests.  So, I folded up some black fabric and tied it on with ribbon to cushion my hands.  It helps, but my hands are still getting pretty sore.  Those dumb ribbons want to keep slipping off the ends of the fabric and I'm constantly adjusting them.  I can't seem to get them tight enough.  I'm still considering the "remodel" with something cuter - but I'm hoping I won't be on the crutches long enough to make it worth the trouble.  The physical therapists tell me I'm making good progress, so that is encouraging! 

Hollyhocks and daisies - I haven't been over to this side
of the house in a month, so I don't know if these are
even alive anymore.

I have managed to get up to the quilt studio a few times, trying to work on the 9-patch blocks for the swap with Barb.  It's been slow going.  It's difficult to stand and cut for long, and really hard to move about the studio.  Frankly, most of the time I don't even use the crutches.  It's only a step or two away to get to the cutting table, sewing machine and ironing board.  And I'm being very careful!  I am making progress on the 9-patches, but it's slow.  I'm going to try again today to see what progress I can make.  And I have some things to finish up for the quilt show which is in October that I really MUST get moving on.  Cross your fingers for me!

I'll be going to the quilt shop tomorrow to buy fabric for the 9-patches for the swap.  I was hoping to make a scrappy assortment, but I think I'm going to have to go with only 4 or 6 fabrics and make them production-style, just to get done in time.  I think that will be faster and hopefully easier.  

Mary Arnold of Vancouver, WA came and talked to my quilt guild a few months ago.  I was really impressed with her quilts!  I took a bunch of pix and thought I'd share them with you, since I have nothing of my own to share with you.  

This quilt is a challenge quilt.  The challenge was to include a lime green horizontal line somewhere on the quilt.  I think this one is fantastic!

And this quilt is my favorite of Mary Arnold's.  This is a new technique for her.  

These pieced areas are only about 2 inches wide!  Mary said she sewed a bunch of pieces together, chopped them apart, then re-sewed.  Rinse and repeat to get them really small.

I love this!  What a great way to use up some scraps.  And isn't her quilting awesome?

border detail
I hope you have a creative week!