Sunday, September 19, 2010

Enjoying the Process: Small Table, Big Quilt

Inspired by so many blogs I visit, I bought a new camera and am taking the time to take photos as I work, rather than posting finished projects and telling you about them.

The first project was the quilting of my brother's wedding quilt. This was a slightly larger than queen-size top, made 96" square to have enough drop for a large mattress. I have a cutting table but it's set up in my bedroom/office/studio where I can only raise one leaf. It's crammed in tightly enough that moving it to a larger area is a nuisance. So, I pin-baste my quilts on the tiny, cherry kitchen table using Sharon Schamber's board method.

Now, Sharon says to be sure that your boards are 10" longer than your quilt back, and I learned why. The ends beyond the board don't roll properly, and I ended up with a ginormous fold in the center of the back. I had to unpin 1/3 of the quilt and re-baste! (And as I'm typing this with Sharon's video playing in the background, I hear Sharon saying she will never use safety pins...hmm. Maybe I'll try thread basting on the next quilt.)

 I found that using the shorter boards allowed me to baste the center of the quilt properly. Next time I'll bast the center then turn the sandwich when done and baste the sides using the weight of the quilt to help stretch. We'll see how that works!

So nice to see no folds on the back after pinning!

 I decided to quilt the white areas with white thread and the blue with blue, using a meandering vine with heart shape leaves. If you click on the photo, you can see the hearts. I love my new camera!

 My green cheek conure gets lonely in the bedroom when I'm in the front of the house, so he and his cage come out to watch me work. I imagine the quilt would have taken a few hours less time if I hadn't gotten distracted with the camera. Say hello, Jasper!

As I quilt, I smoosh and stash the quilt sandwich around on the table, my lap, my shoulder, to keep the weight off the section I am working on. As this shot shows, this quilt dwarfed my little table. But with the Juki's longer neck it's easy for me to work in quarters and keep the stitching even.

I didn't get a photo of the finished quilt as it would have been the same as this one of the top - it's taller than my walls so I can't get the whole thing in one shot. The pattern is Past and Present from Scrap Basket Surprises by Kim Brackett. Since my brother just married a woman he dated in high school, I thought the name was perfect!

Now it's time to get back to the other blue wedding quilt:
Judy Neimeyer's Wedding star, which is now a "several months past the first anniversary" quilt for my daughter and her husband!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Happy Little Quilt

If you've ever participated in a round robin, you know sometimes the resulting quilt knocks your socks off. And other times, not so. This is the story of a not so.

I mailed out the center paper-pieced flower and green surrounding border. I knew not all the gals in my group could paper-piece and that was fine. But I was left a little flat by the solid-color borders that came back to me. I figured it'd be a great foundation for some pretty applique and put it in the UFO pile. Where it sat. And sat.

As I prepared to move earlier this year, my quilty friend Becky in Oregon volunteered to finish a UFO for me and mail it back when I was settled in the new place. I decided to send her the  robin, but told her she could make a charity quilt from it or keep it herself.

Dumb move! She just shared a photos of my sad little quilt.

Can't you just see it smiling? Becky added the braided border and final border, the the iris, butterflies and moths. She used patterns from various sources. In the quilt she added both our names as creators.

Not surprisingly, she's keeping the quilt, and will make a charity quilt in my name. I knew from block swaps that Becky is awesome at applique, and this only proves it.

I'm sharing this as inspiration for your UFOs that no longer wow you. No, you can't all send them to Becky, but maybe you can swap with a friend, or organize a swap in your guild. Many quilters enjoy finishing someone else's project.

Or, pin up what you've got to work with and look at it with a fresh eye. Would a fancy border add some excitement? Some applique or other embellishment? Sure, we can hurry and finish them and send hem off to a charity, but I wonder if the sentiment might stay with the quilt. Wouldn't you rather send a happy quilt?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Neverending Quilt

I really need to post about my purses or something here or you'll all think I'm such a whiner! I am currently trying to finish the Judy Niemeyer Wedding Star quilt. I hoped to have it done for the kids' anniversary today but I swear the pieces keep multiplying when I go to bed at night.

On the upper right are Unit 1 pieces (arc A and melons), right below the dark center star pieces. Next step is to sew those two together to make Unit 2. Upper left is the light center star which gets sewn to B arcs, middle left for Unit 3.

Below the B arcs are more Unit 1 sections, and to the right is a finished block, which I think is Unit 4. Unit 4 blocks get sewn together to make the body of the quilt. So I am making progress. I'm thinking a week to 10 days ought to have the whole thing finished - quilted bound and everything! Watch for more photos as it comes together.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Once in a Lifetime Quilt

I finished a once-in-a-lifetime quilt yesterday. I will never make another one like it. Truly! It turned out okay, but for so many reasons I won't try again.

This is my daughter's jeans quilt made from the jeans she wore in high school and just after. She had written on several pairs during classes, so she wanted a quilt to keep them with her. I learned so much from making it, but won't mess with again. I used this pattern, which is written and illustrated so well I thought I had it made.

My biggest error was in the size of the square template I made. (After cutting the circles of denim, you mark squares inside as stitching lines) Mine were a touch smaller than the edges of the circles. If you look at the tutorial above, you see the squares go right to the edges. This gives you your perfectly straight lines when assembling and finishing the edges.

If I were to do this quilt again (which I am NOT, even though I have enough circles left over and already sewn into small groups) here are some things I'd keep in mind:

  • Denim needle. Wow, imagine that! It only came to me toward the end and made a HUGE difference in sewing through the layers.
  • Make long strips rather than small blocks when assembling. Sew four columns of circles together, put the inserts in the center circles. Stitch down the flaps as she suggests in a long wavy line. Then add another two columns and insert squares again. Working in long straight sections is much more maneuverable than going round and round in small sections. I assembles mine into three or four long sections before putting the sections together, which meant sewing flaps down in between bulky finished areas. Not fun!
  • Perhaps I needed to press the flaps open better, but I was thinking a dab of glue stick or fusible bonding might have helped. But if I'd worked across in columns rather that finishing sections, it might not have been an issue.
  • Wind every bobbin you own, then go buy more and wind them before starting. Zigzag and satin stitching use a ton of bobbin thread! Better yet, buy a few boxes of prewound bobbins.
  • Use up all the leftover quilting threads you've hung onto, that don't have enough on a spool to do a quilt. The different threads are fun on a scrappy quilt like this!

While I don't want to work with jeans circles again, after finishing this I have a yearning to make a cathedral windows quilt. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wallets and Grommets

My niece had a birthday this weekend and since she's on her own these days, I thought I'd make her a purse. Then I saw the pattern for a Wallet and Grommet Purse. My niece has a kitten named Wallace and plans to get a dog and name it Grommet, so I knew what I had to make her!

I started with the purse for myself, with grommets for a drawstring rather than handles, so I didn't make the sides of my niece's purse wide enough for big grommets. And I forgot interfacing!! But she figured it was a book bag which suits her. I had a FQ of jellybean fabric that I thought would make a fun wallet.

My own bag turned out pretty much the way I planned, once I found a big enough hammer to deal with the metal grommets. I was certain I'd never work with metal grommets again after the headache these were, but my daughter loved this purse so I guess I have to. But not right away! This fabric is the Tres Belle line. I collected enough for a bed-size quilt, so I should still have enough for a Turning-Twenty type lap quilt.

The pillowcases were cut out before I moved. I made my duvet cover with Bohemian Manor fabric. I already had two king-sized pillowcases to match, and these standard size pillowcases complete the set. I really love making pillowcases and love the look on the bed! I use the burrito method - enclosing the raw edges in the cuff fabric, and use French seams for the edges. They work up so fast!

I have a stack pf pillowcases to sew up for the pillowcase challenge, but I'll post about that another day! Happy sewing!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Catching Up and Settling In

I see it's been a while since I have posted anything! Luckily there's so much that's happened since July that I can write daily for a while and catch up.

The latest news is the recent move. Mom and I bought a cute little mobile home just a few miles from where my daughters and their husbands live. We're now close enough they can drop by before or after work just to visit for a few minutes, which means Mom will see so much more of them.

So, this is the new place. That front room is Mom's and the window bumps out, giving Jake a place to sit and watch for us to return home. Mom decided it's more important for him to be able to see out that for her to use the space, so for now we only have a doggy in the window, no pretties.

Between the deck and the fence in a narrow planter and path, both of which were filled with weeds. There is a honeysuckle in the center, and we added a delphinium and jasmine, so far. We're taking the planting and laying of bark a step at a time, as you can see. I've weeded almost all the way to the jasmine and laid bark on the cleared area.

This is the view from the other end of the deck, showing you what the front looked like pre-bark. The ground is sandy so after a brief soaking the weeds come right up. I alternate yardwork and unpacking or putting up shelves, so little bits of everything are getting done.

Here's our yard. The whole thing, except for a four or five foot wide stretch behind the mobile, at the back of the photo. It should be easy to keep the lawn trimmed with a weed-eater, once I win the battle over the weeds. The shady spot on the left has a rose bush under the cedar tree. I have a Spanish lavender, a hydrangea and a Bleeding Heart plant waiting to go in that corner.

Jake's wondering why there is a fence between us. He loves his little yard and doesn't bark at the dogs living next door. He only barks when people and dogs pass in front of the house. Good boy! This front bed has the mailbox. We planned to not plant anything there but when we pulled up weeds we found a couple of bulbs and a volunteer pine tree, all of which are too small to show up.

The bed under the front window had tons of volunteer plants coming up in odd places. In the far corner against the house is a blue potato bush. Toward the center is a small sago palm, and next to it, a geranium. Scattered throughout were a couple of strawberry plants, California poppy, alyssum, and a few things we hope aren't weeds because we didn't pull them. We added stock, snap dragons, thrift, Gerber daisies, and a few other flowers I can't recall.

On to the inside:

Our lovely, cluttered living room. We're blending two households, and most of Mom's furniture is family pieces and/or beautiful antiques. I had to get creative, thus the drop-leaf table computer stand and the buffet entertainment center. Most of the seating is covered with quilts, both to keep it cozy and to protect the furniture. Someday I'll make enough coordinating quilts so it looks a bit less cluttered.

Split up in photos, the room seems so much bigger! The room is actually small enough that with two footrests in the first photo, the coffee table in this one needs to be used as an end table. In front of the grandfather clock (assembled by my father years ago) is a box of photos that I'm still hoping the photo fairies will put up one night as we sleep. Note the Old English Dictionary on the stand to the left.

The kitchen is surprisingly roomy, and somehow I'm managing to fit almost everything we own in the cupboards. Of course, I suppose most people don't have canisters on the stove. I need to organize the pantry so I can put the canisters in there. Those that aren't on the stove are on the high shelf next to the window, which means Mom won't be cooking if I don't change that.

Speaking of the pantry, we have a nice one on the right here, the size of your basic coat closet. However, lots of deep tall shelves aren't great for storing foodstuffs. Another project for one of these days. Oh, don't you love the junk drawer? The three drawer unit on the left held fabric in its previous life. Now it holds tools and picture hangers, cable/electronic wiring, extension cords, and all the miscellaneous pet stuff I've collected and have nowhere else to put.

And finally, a shot of my room. Yeah, this is all you're going to see for now! I still have boxes to unpack, but I set up the green modern lamp that came from my younger daughter and had to show her. The lamp adds a green tinge to everything in my room when lit. That might disturb some people, but suits me just fine!

Slowly but surely we're finding a place for almost everything. We've fit a lot more in than I ever thought possible! I think I have enough projects to see me through a few years, although some unpacking can't happen until projects get finished. Thank goodness for the two sheds. At least we have enough in place that it feels like home already! Drop on by sometime! We'll have a glass of ice tea on the deck and listen to the trains rattle by.