Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday Twister

When I first bought the big Twister template, I pulled out 10" holiday fabric squares and put together a simple lap quilt. Again, the template came with a pattern that was more of a loose suggestion rather than a real pattern. The thing is, that it is meant to be relatively random.

Just like anything in life, I have learned lessons along the way.

As I have used it more, I see that random is only good if it is planned to look random. With this template, I learned that larger prints don't work well, and that planned layout is more creative sometimes than the random look. This one was random, and I wish that I had sorted colors. Squares before they are template-cut look different. Maybe I am being too fussy, and this WAS an earlier project.

The other thing I got done were two mug rugs meant for two of the elders in my family. Again, this is a matter of layout to get the chevron design. I'll get them mailed this week.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Patriotic Mug Rug

There are fewer elders in my family as time goes on, and they probably want to downsize even more than I do. Yet, I know how pleasant it is to receive happy mail. As I thought about it, I decided to make a few mug rugs for those Aunties who still live in their homes. And I thought about how I could do them before leaving on my trip to MN a week from tomorrow. 


I found this simple pattern that I could convert from the traditional red/green for holidays to a red-white-blue patriotic theme at 
http://www.freshlypieced.com/2011/09/strip-pieced-zig-zag-mug-rug.html

Quilting on a diagonal isn't as easy as one thinks. The first one I made isn't perfect, and will go to the give-away table in the clubhouse. Someone will like it, not even noticing the mistakes, and I will do better with the other two I cut out, and want to just do them without looking for mistakes. (Pictures of mine to follow)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Back & Front

There is an old saying that boats are safe in the harbor, but that is not what boats are made for. Quilting is a risk when you cut into fabric and piece it together. You can think it will work out, but that doesn't mean it will.

I finished Jake's quilt and really love how both sides turned out. Again, this was made in my early days of quilting, so I think I lucked out that the back turned out as good as it did. The small border on the back was successful and the binding works for both sides.

I was scrap quilting from the git-go, and this back was pieced with leftovers from the top borders. I wanted to make this quilt as masculine as possible, but the Grandson is still a boy, so who knows how long this quilt will last or if he even cares about them. I can just imagine him rolling his eyes when he opens the package...saying, "Oh jee...another quilt. Thanks Granny," as he whips it back in the box and goes onto the next gift to open.

The top is pretty standard for how I have been making the Bird Quilts. The only differences are the fabric choices, and of course, while they each get 15 state bird/flower blocks, with a Cali block as one of them, the other 14 are random choices. Well, not so random actually. I did work to select them so they would coordinate with the quilt fabrics. 

There is one more to do & I have an appointment to baste on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Binding

I got the binding machine stitched, and half of the quilt is clipped waiting for the final step of hand sewing. For whatever reason, this time the binding made me think of the phrase, "the ties that bind". Clearly, from all the references that can be found for it, it seems to represent or speak to the connection people have to each other.

This quilt is turning out to be lovely, both front and back. I lucked out in the measuring that I did so long ago before I knew what I was doing. There is a sweet, sweet border on the back that is in perfect alignment this time (some are not so easy to do). And the colors are striking.


Ties that bind between people can work out both ways too. Sometimes its a perfect fit and we are lucky. Sometimes ties can hold us to someone who is not right for us. We go along to get along. Even after we think a tie or bond or link is undone, a part of it stays.

I have heard that when you do hand work on a quilt of any nature, to work with thread no longer than 18" so that if it breaks or comes undone, that it doesn't mean the entire quilt ravels. Its almost like having Plan B in effect.Thing is, if the quilt goes to someone else and comes undone, they may not have skills to fix it.

That is how it is with our relationships. Just because one person gets healthy doesn't mean the others will. So when they meet again, they pick up the dysfunction as if it hadn't been healed, or anyone in it was evolved. I don't believe we have to stay in dysfunction any more than I believe I have to tolerate a mis-created seam. We get to choose what is in our life and on our quilts. 

Binding. A day or two on this one and another Bird Quilt will be completed.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Whew, No Wrinkles

I could not put off machine quilting the next Bird Quilt. I like using that Serpentine stitch on the machine as a better way to do Stitch-in-the-Ditch. There is actual agony for me when I put something off. Instead of forgetting and releasing and putting it behind, its all I can think about.

This one goes to my Grandson Jake. Summer colors for a Summer Solstice birth, and yet, black and white to go with everything. You have to look mighty close to see the stitches along the sashing. Thread is an orange like the cornerstones and soon-to-be-binding.

I feel so good about the way these stitches are looking. I had taken for granted that they would all be easy. So many things can get in the way of a success story that may or may not have anything to do with the leading lady or quilter. I must say that I am a little cautious and as soon as a seam is finished, I put the quilt on my pressing board to look for wrinkles on the backside. 

It made me think about relationships in my life that have wrinkles of a sort. The easy ones are the kind of people you might not see for a very long time, and then just rush into conversation as if it was just yesterday. And others. The wrinkles. Well, they are just hard.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trained / Untrained

The title above comes from the movie MAN ON FIRE. The storyline is that he (Denzel Washington) is hired as a bodyguard for a young grrrl (Dakota Fanning) in Mexico where statistics say that countless people are kidnapped, held for ransom and sometimes killed. As they spend more time together, he attends her swimming meets and helps her respond to the shock of the start-gun-sound. He uses this phrase of 'trained/untrained' to help her see the value in training. (You Tube has several viewing options, though the film has violence that some may not enjoy.) It is a tearjerker and one I have seen many times.

As a quilter, I realize the importance of getting good guidance; living in this small town, I find that it is not readily available. I get a lot online.

This morning, I found a link to a group of tutorials from SewVeryEasy. In this one, the speaker shows how thread is put on a spool and how it comes off on the machine. The product is called THE THREAD DIRECTOR. I had NO idea that thread twists if it comes off counter to how it lays on the spool! I was just putting it on the machine and trusting to my luck with it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMh0AwDAZyo

I cannot say that I want to purchase all the tools, because, in this case, I don't use specialty threads though I have some in my stash for 'some day'. And I know that I am not in the 'hunt/gather' stage of my life, so I want to get along with what I have first.

Thing is, knowledge is power. Knowledge has always been powerful for me, and what I don't know often bites me. I am going to spend a little more time with this tutorial series as part of my self-education before going on with more quilting projects.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Right Stuff

I did like the movie. However, what I mean is that having the right gear for any activity is vital to its success. 


Strong masking tape may leave glue on fabric, but it will be on the backside of the backing against the table. No wrinkles! This is the back of the wallhanging with the sleeve (for the rod) folded over at the top to get pressed and joined. No wrinkles! And as I basted, there was actually a tighter feel to it all. Lesson learned.

Originally, I bought the blue painters' tape for securing the backs to the tables. And it worked. Then, with the last one, they must have changed the product because this time it lifted off almost right away. I read the print on the tape and it said it was good for three hours, so should have worked. It didn't.

This masking tape was almost hard to peel off the roll the glue was so strong. At this point, all that I wanted was for it to work. And it does.

Now, I am hand sewing binding on one of the quilts and this wall hanging, so that will take several days.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Do-Over: A New Process For Me

Admittedly, I didn't grow up in the midst of other kids, so the concept of 'do-over' is new to me. If a person waits for the perfect experience when all is safe and assured, it may never come. We can accept mistakes and go on. We can learn not to make those choices again. Yet.

Discovering one quilt back with wrinkles was more than I wanted to see. Discovering that it might have been caused by tape that didn't hold the back onto the table during basting made sense. When the second quilt back started to wrinkle, my first thought was to pin it more and more, as is. However, there were still wrinkles. Honestly, I was not willing to accept them.


I have put too much energy and expectation of their beauty into these quilts to have them turn out crappy. I took out all the basting, pulled out my ripper and started removing the two quilting seams that were started. 

Threads need to be pulled out on both the batting and the quilt top & back, with the fabrics cleaned up and examined. It looks like a lot of my time had to go into this 'do-over'. The next part is to baste it again with stronger tape holding it to the table, and then machine quilt.

And so, is the lesson that a 'do-over' is the easy way out? Or is it that a person has to work hard to make things right? Its not a little kid's game. The time it takes to fix the first basting has not been easy. Although it is a physical task, the mental anguish was where the hard part came in. I found myself struggling with an inner demon who had many negative things to say to me. 

So I would stop working, sit myself down and repeat some affirmations like, "This moment is filled with joy. I choose to experience the sweetness of the day" and "I create only peace and harmony within myself & my environment."

And then when I am balanced and in a good space, I return to quilting and go on.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Planning for my Trip to MN

I pulled out all the clothes I bought for my trip and tried them on to make sure they fit and were ok to take. I practiced smiling in the mirror, and checked my posture. With my airline ticket bought and car rental paid for, I am as ready as one can be. There is a fair amount of stress to go back for a family visit. 

After reading more about wrinkles (on quilt backs, not faces), I concluded the reason the last quilt back wrinkled is that the tape pulled off of it during the basting process. At the time, I didn't think it mattered and just went along with it. Now I know better and will make sure it stays secure.

My handwork during my visit to MN will include attaching labels to some of my younger Son's quilts, and working with the bluework embroidery project. I only made one set of three images to work on. These are the Snow Friends wall hangings. I hope to make sets of three for my Nieces and Nephew this year for the holiday. The images are embroidered with only one color (blue) on muslin, with blue winter fabrics for the frames. Traditionally, stitches can be the cross stitch (which I do not like doing) or simple primitive stitches (which I love).

Here at home, it is blackwork with Hallows images. This block has a quartet of skeletons dancing in a row. Whomever was the artist for this pattern really knew their bones, even including patellas (knees). It has been fun to make blackwork dedicated to a Hallows quilt. Each image takes me at least a week to complete. Its casual work that I do not rush and complete feeling quite relaxed. I have already collected 12 Haunted House patterns for the next project.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

You Never Know

Without a pattern, you never know what will happen. It is like Tolkien said in The Lord of Rings through Bilbo, "Its a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."


As soon as I finished step 2 in my visionary pattern by cutting with the Twister template, pinning and piecing, I cut the scraps. Two piles of black come from the border (2.5" and 3" squares). With the 10" blocks, it seemed that 6" borders work so that the template has enough to make the twist. And this is what comes if one cuts those scraps into usable squares. The inside cuts produce 4" squares, but one came out as a 5", for some reason. 


Without a second border, the piece measured 58.5"x60". Again, the piano print was given to me in two pieces, so it meant laying it out against the top to see possibilities. I cut 3" borders WOF on each piece to make a top and bottom border. Then I cut a 3" wide strip the length of each piece to make the side borders and have a little bit left to make some 3" squares, plus whatever might be left from basting. I might have made that border larger, however, this was safe, and it works.


It measures closer to a 64" square now, which makes a generous personal lap or nap quilt. There is enough black to do the binding on it. I plan to machine quilt it with a black thread and am already loving how it looks. That Twister template works miracles with scraps!

With every quilt I make, there is always something I see that I wish I had done differently. I have heard that you can re-do anything on a quilt before it is basted. On the other hand, I have heard that no one ever sees what you see.

I always hope that the recipient likes the quilt. Yet, you never know.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Twister Template

Today is a cut and pin experience on the Piano quilt project. The hard part of the project is that the background and borders are in black. Black can trick you into seeing an illusion almost and end up not matching right sides for the seams.

In the beginning of my quilting, I loved using black because it seemed to make the other colors pop. In one way, I guess I was like a teen dressing all in black. Now, I see how it holds lint and how different one black is against the other.

Its much like not wanting to wear black as much against my lightening skin color. Older people in black start to look gaunt and stretched. 

I still like black and think this quilt will be lovely, lovely, lovely. Meanwhile, it is taking more time to make sure the right side of the print is the right side. And, there were scraps from it that need to be trimmed!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Buying Backing

In an effort to get these Bird Quilts completed this year, I went out and purchased a white print with a blue floral design on it. I picked up 5 yards though the calculations said I only needed 4 5/8. Glad I bought extra. Of course, there was some left from the sides as well when I pieced it together for the back.


I got a little more because it is a directional print. It was an easy match for the center seam. I wanted to be certain there was enough, and think I have another quilt called Blues that I can add extras. It looks like it will be a lovely complement to the top. And with all the dark fabrics I have, its nice to have some light.


Then I cut 6" borders for the Piano quilt, pinned, pieced and pressed them. They are ready to be cut with the Twister template. This will be a nap quilt. I have a fabric that is a rendition of piano keys with roses. The FB14 recipient of this nap quilt teaches music lessons, so I hope there will be enough of the fabric for the back. It is a project without a pattern, so it evolves as it is made.

I have been hand sewing binding on during the day to minimize the stress I feel from a shaking left hand ~ essential/familial tremors. By the time evening rolls around, I don't feel like doing more and its less relaxing with the shakes. One thing I know is that with any physical issue, it is wise to learn how to manage with it. I did find a quilting article that gave suggestions for living with it as you quilt. Obviously, things like threading a needle become problematic. And, sometimes it can affect both sides of the body or both hands. Bummer. 

Evidently, this affects a lot of people, young and old, and of either genders. I spent time reading about it. What did surprise me is that a person needs to simply make changes to minimize the shaking. There is no cure and treatments only deal with the symptoms. 
http://www.essentialtremor.org/coping/et-and-the-arts/sue-henri-mackenzie/


I am reminded how Katherine Hepburn's head and voice shook with it, braving the public interviews she had. More recently, a character on Downtown Abbey by the name of Carson had ET in his dominant hand and retired from service because of the shaking. His comments said his Father and Grandfather had the same issue. 
https://parko31.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/carsons-palsy/

After learning more about the mechanics of the hand tremor, my own shakes less if I hold or carry something in my (non-dominant) hand without trying to close fingers around the object. Also, at this stage, I am able to rest my arm and hand. It seems to be a progressive issue for a lot of people, and so I know that what works today may not work next week.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pretty in Pink

Got borders on the Lil Grrrl Pink quilt. It measures 36 x51 which is crib size, so its for a toddler. The pastel pink print is rainbows and horses, with purples that show up blue here. I need to join some batting scraps and get this one done and set aside. The back is a star print that will fit side to side and top to bottom.


Over the years, I set deadlines as a tool to keep me quilting to get things done. When I finish the Bird Quilts and the Peppermint Kisses quilt, this year will be the end of those goals I set when I first started quilting. It means that I can quilt when I feel like it, and as I feel like it. Not that I didn't do that all along, but there will be no deadline.

Once these all get shipped, then the finished quilts will wait in bins until needed as comfort quilts. That, and shopping from my closet will become my new goals.

Swap Bot keeps me going too. I just joined a Halloween gift exchange. They are playing catchup for the year and sending out 2 handmade gifts this month as part of a total of 13 to be exchanged before Hallows. The swap rules are only that it is handmade by you and has the Hallows theme.

In another Fat Quarter swap last year, I got these fabrics. The pumpkin fabric was hard to cut into because the design would get lost in a smaller cut, so making a simple mug rug really worked for me. The big white polka dots on black were also lost in smaller cuts. However, the pumpkin outlines on orange for the binding is perfect. I did a simple decorative stitch around each pumpkin shape and made these up in a day. And of course, the batting came from scraps as well.

I know that many mug rugs are much more detailed as mini quilts than these small 'panel' cuts are, yet, they turned out darned cute. I need projects that can be completed in one sitting. For whatever reason, they restore confidence and make me smile.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Borders Unrinkled

After ripping out the stitches, and taking my time, I redid the bird quilt and got out most of the ripples. This was one of my first quilts, if not the first, so what may have happened is that I inadvertantly stretched the fabric on the bias back in the day. Hard to say any more. However, it is done and the binding is ready for hand work.
AND when I machine stitched the binding to the table runner, I realized my concern for wrinkles on it over-dramatized the reality. Only one wrinkle, it actually gets lost in the quilting and would not be seen by anyone but me! The purple batik I found for the binding looks lovely.

Next to work on is cutting borders for the Twister quilt and the Lil Grrrl Pink quilt. I have two quilts ready for basting but want to hold off awhile just to catch up on what I have. My trip to the midwest is coming soon and the plan is to stay organized and stress-free.

I have always been the kind of person who finds fault within herself. Of course, it must have been taught to me, and is something I have worked hard to overcome. It is, more than likely, one of the aspects that comes with being a perfectionist, or being driven, or wanting to be more...certain days bring this energy in to my soul more than others. Days that are cloudy. Days where I haven't had enough nutrition. Days where I am tired from lack of sleep or even lack of energy. 

Most of the time, people want the side of me that is positive and cheery, with greater good going on. Well, heck. I AM human. And as a member of humanity, I have weaknesses, flaws, shortcomings along with some pretty great strengths and values. 

When I used to work with a team to present public rituals for larger groups, I would gather us together to do some toning and bonding. It was the transitional point between planning and presenting. Often my body was just shaking, and anyone new to working with me would find this remarkable. 

Folks who worked with me often knew that always happened, and knew that when the event was over, I liked a bite of chocolate and a bottle of water. 

Perhaps this is what I am missing. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Oh NO! Mr. Bill

I have no idea what happened to the bird quilt I am working on. It was basted and never showed puckers as I machine quilted it.


However, when it was trimmed to add the binding, all these wrinkles showed up and I knew those errant stitches on the border needed to come out. Two lines of stitches had to be re-done! Then, when I turned it over, there were puckers in the other stitches where they had not been. I check as I go along & I swear the back had been flat, flat, flat.

I will move along with other quilt projects and just keep repairing this one. These wrinkles were different from the ones I saw in the previous project, but now are top on my list to ensure they don't keep happening.

The hardest part of it is how I beat myself up for letting it happen. Again. Now, if this had been a sort of standard snafu over the years, one could say my methods were faulty. Something is going on and I need to find out what it is. Why now?

A number of things could be happening and it does me no good to try and guess what it is or was. What is important is for me to deal with it and simply decide to move forward rather than to remain stuck in confusion and doubt. I need to know what I am doing that is making it happen because it hasn't happened in all the other projects. Why these last two?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Patriotic Country

I was given some interesting fabrics by women in the Comfort Quilt group that none of them wanted to use. Some were horizontal prints, some were seasonal. They make it a habit not to use seasonal fabrics, which I actually enjoy working with on some projects.

This one had no pattern, just a quilt-as-you-go project. The inner panel is one of the horizontal prints just squared up, and then with 5" charms I pulled from my stash that coordinated with the colors. The outside borders are from a bandanna print they also gave me and is on the back as well. I am reaching up as far as I can and have my hands held out as wide as I can, so its a nice size for a personal nap quilt. Now it will wait until I need a comfort quilt for someone.

The other project I worked on, which took a lot of time is that purple and white table runner. The grid stitches turned out fine though, it makes me laugh to know that a person can shop at a discount store to find a flatter piece. The back is nice. It needs binding and then will be done.

I am not going to spend the rest of my life trying to gain control over things like puckers or wrinkles when maybe it is more important to accept what happens. Same for me when I look in the mirror. Sometimes, you simply cannot change what life brings you and that has to be ok.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Press N Snip

I got two more projects ready to baste and realized that no one would be in the office to clear a basting appointment. Time consuming work that left undone would leave the finish a little less than good.

Then, I turned my attention to machine quilt a table runner. The stitch started out as a shadow, which means simply that it runs next to the seam. However, it is turning into more of a channel stitch, which is row after row. It is turning into longer sessions at the machine. I think it will go into one of the bins for my Grandgrrrls rather than to someone else in my life. 

Long ago, I created small bins of various projects like potholders and small table toppers. This is a good addition. Funny thing is that all of them call out purple as their favorite color. And the purples are so much more lovely than they photograph.

This is the table topper swap I had started before the facilitators insisted that the charms be bought from a store rather than from our stash. I put this one away and created another. Life is like that. Adapting and changing and being willing to do both.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Basting x2

I feel like I am on a roll getting projects basted. Today two of them were done. 

There has always been this piece of who I am that is driven. Fast cars. Driven. Fast reading. Driven. Fast everything. Fast work. It makes sense that I want to quilt, and quilt and quilt. Driven? Maybe. There has always been this part of me that believes that life is too short to waste time not living in the moment.


The Bird Quilts are very much on my list to complete this year. They have been in process far too long and now are ready for the final steps to get them done and in the hands of my Grandchildren. This is actually the first one I put together for my eldest. I love the rich colors of it all.


The other one I basted is a red/white/blue nap quilt that I do want to finish because it is almost a patriotic country theme. Again, this is a scrap quilt, made with 5" squares pulled out of the bin to coordinate with the center horizontal panel, and a blue bandanna-looking fabric for the borders, back and binding. I just love being able to use what I have. And the curious thing is that the more fabrics in a quilt, the less it has to 'match'. This one has been easy to machine quilt with all its horizontal lines.

I'll hold off basting more until these get machine quilted with binding on them so that there is a good rotation of quilting steps. My next project is adding borders to that Twister quilt. Also, I am getting a stash of batting, and will need to see what fits on smaller projects. 

Driven. Yes. To the day I die, with any luck.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Piecing the Batting

There is always some leftover batting after basting quilts. There are two ways (that I know of) to join it so it can be used rather than tossed. One is iron-on tape, which works for smaller projects, and for the larger pieces dedicated to larger projects, I like to run it through a zig-zag stitch on the machine. I got batting placed between two tops and bottoms. Two projects.


Then, I was able to make the first piecing on another one of the FB14 projects. It is planned for the Twister template, and the next step is to add borders so that it can be cut, pinned and pieced. It makes me smile to know that there is magick to be seen with that next step making the squares transform.

There are two more quilts ready to baste, so I am headed back into the clubhouse to do this part of the quilting work. Of course, that means finding storage space for them and then giving myself time to machine quilt again. I am loving this serpentine stitch which looks almost like a mini-free motion stitch. As long as it does the job of securing the seams, it works for me.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Product Quality Control

I basted another Bird Quilt this morning. I just bought a roll of painters tape to secure the back to the table. Usually the tape holds the back and allows me to lay the batting down and then the top over it. Not today.

Today, I struggled with the tape lifting off and of course that meant that the back had folds in it. I smoothed it over so many times, basted in the middle first and then gently pulled the back fabric with one hand while holding onto the sandwich with the other. I have already switched the tape for another one in hopes that the next time will be easier.

With all the delay I've gone through waiting for the remodeling to be completed, there will be a number of quilts going through this process. The plan is to join excess batting for some quilts or to use it in the smaller projects. I have a lot of work to do to catch up.

It felt so frustrating doing this work. Then, the other thing I faced is that this particular back was scrappy, and I did not follow the rule of making the back with a 3" overhang from the top. That meant checking and rechecking to see that the top laid over the back precisely. Frustrating to think I did that. Yet, it was important to be self-forgiving because at the time, I didn't know better. At least now, at this stage of quilting, as an Intermediate Quilter, I can adapt and correct.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Black Embroidery

I like to be in a positive frame of mind, heart and soul when I quilt. It just seems to make sense so the energy I put into what I do is clear as well. Lately, there have been an number of personal issues pulling me off center, so I've had to work harder to stay on my path. I do a variety of things that help, including the Chinese Medical Massages, using stone and crystal energy, essential oils, drinking a lot of water and getting good sleep.

I finished another block of the black floss embroidery. I have been calling it 'blackwork' and technically, that is correct. It is a form of embroidery that uses black floss and can be a counted stitch pattern. The primary stitches are the back stitch (which is what I use). A lot of times, when you see blackwork, it is more geometric. Mine is not geometric, and so I wondered if it qualified to call it blackwork and for what I am doing, it is indeed.

My choices for the blocks I am doing is to make a Hallows quilt, and so the theme presents 12 blocks with various images in black on an off-white muslin. I love this little haunted mansion and am going to see if I can collect enough of them to do another quilt. 

Each block takes me about a week to complete. I've got them all in a storage container with the orange/black/white squares that will coordinate and make this an exceptional quilt. This one has no deadline nor am I completely sure which one of my family members will receive it. Time will tell.

I laugh at myself to think that even now I am trying to fit in standard definitions for what I do rather than to just do what I love and call it what I want. I love embroidery work for quilting. I know that quilters get to choose. They get to choose fabrics, colors, patterns and processes. They get to do what they love. I love embroidery work. Simple as that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bird Quilt #3

Basted and being machine quilted.

The chemical smell from remodeling in the clubhouse was over-powering, so I was glad to only plan to baste one quilt. There is no due date for these, only to ship them out at the same time.


The serpentine stitch is my favorite one to use, going over the seams. I am using a light lavender thread and taking my time. The stitch reinforces seams. Of course, the real reason for quilting is to make the sandwich of top, batting and back.

At one time, I thought I needed to practice on other quilts before finishing these. Hah! My skill went as far as it needed to, and these will have mistakes too. Its not like I am making something to last forever. That is not the goal. The goal is to continue the connecting line of Grandmother to Grandchild. They need to get these quilts in their hands this year. My goal is to finish this quilt this week, and keep doing what I do.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Flange

There is an interesting technique that helps frame the busyness of the center of the quilt by being between it and the first border. Here is a perfect case for the scrappy Log Cabin lap quilt I am making for one of the FB14. This is a close-up photo.


There is one more border for it, and that should make the quilt measure around 53" x 68", which is within the standard range for a lap or nap quilt. Perfect to cuddle under when you take a nap. 

Borders coordinate with blocks and yet, sometimes all these scraps in a formal pattern like the Log Cabin are too much even for me. 

Admittedly, many of the LC quilts I've made have fabrics I bought to coordinate. Some of the earlier ones were made from my stash when it had more selection. I think this one is going to turn out nicely and the fabrics go together even though they are scraps. The flange is a great addition. 

This final arrangement is called 'fields and furrows' and is meant for the recipient to take time to rest after all the work she does so she has energy to start again. It highlights the darks and lights in the blocks reminding her to keep the balance. The red center block is all about the energy of being centered, being home. I want to make more Log Cabin quilts. I love their energy.

I haven't selected a back for it yet, and which ever one fits the size, will make it reversible for the recipient.

Well, I do have an appointment on Tuesday morning at the clubhouse to start basting again. I really want to get the Bird Quilts done first and then the Peppermint Kisses. Then of course, I will finish up the FB14 projects.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reds!

I decided to pre-wash the red sampler graduation quilt this morning. I had pre-washed all the fabrics with color catchers before making the quilt.

This is what happened. The greens in it, both sashing and within some blocks, turned tea-stained, which I would not have chosen for it.



And interestingly, I was less pleased with the green than I thought I would be, so this was a pleasant surprise. Thing is, the color didn't set in the same all around the sashing and in some places a sort of green tint shows through. Like green tea. It is what it is now anyway. She will not have seen the original green, and will only know it like this and will be pleased. It actually seems to soften it and with all the bright in it, that is not a bad thing.

I'll give it a light press and then package it for shipping. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Catching up on Cutting

This is a middle task. Cutting.

Whenever a project gets to the stage of the top and back being finished, there are leftovers. It is incredibly boring to just cut and cut, therefore I turn on Hulu and 'binge watch' whatever interesting series are available while I cut fabric. My scrap squares bins are getting mighty full so I will need to start making something from all of them relatively soon. I know that sometimes the scraps in a quilt are balanced by a solid or tone-on-tone (ToT) background. I will need to shop. Without some pattern-free scraps, it gets so busy there is no place for the eyes to rest. 


Thing is, my trip to MN is in a month and so I am trying to clean, clear and consecrate my working space before I leave for a couple of weeks. I am eager to see family and friends again. 

Thing is too, that when I come home to Cali, I want to walk into a clean studio and have that fresh start. This is what vacations are meant to do...provide a fresh outlook to the ordinary work one does.

I could look for scrap quilt ideas but time has taught me that the most simple way is to simply start piecing and ensuring that a fabric is not repeated side by side. Sometimes it is too much effort in counting off so many darks, mediums, lights and brights for the correct contrast; yet, on the other hand, random is good too.

Here I am thinking about what to start next, when in fact, I really do want to finish those bird quilts and also finish the FB14 projects I started early in the year. And should I be unable to finish what I start, the sorting (and notes-to-self) would help any other quilter make sense of what is here.

So often, with what I get from other quilters, I will ask, "what were you thinking?" and of course have no answer. Kits that have a pattern and fabric ready to finish answer that question. Hopefully, how I have arranged my bins with the notes in them will be just as clear.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Challenge for an Aries

All my life, I have loved doing new things. New adventures. New music and dance. New things to study. Over the years, I received a fair amount of criticism for starting projects and not seeing them to the end. Typical Aries, they said. And so, I worked hard at changing that cliche within myself to bring whatever I started to completion. 

I even worked hard at the middles. Admittedly, I love the new adventures and possibilities.

This waiting period for the clubhouse didn't stop me from continuing projects and pushing them to the point of needing to be basted. Another thing this ol' Aries needs is to be active.


I found another project that I started and set aside. The pinks I was given are on to the left; one with stars and one 'little grrl' print with ponies and rainbows. The strips were from other scraps that would work for the pattern. They were cut and all stored in the plastic bag. They waited because I don't have a little grrrlie-grrl in my family to give them to and other quilt projects seemed more timely.


This session, I cut them into blocks which were sewn into diagonal rows, pressed and joined. The edges are trimmed & borders will be added next to finish the top. This is the middle before stitching rows together, and will wait. I converted it from a holiday pattern I saw in a quilting magazine that used red and white for the chevron. Sometimes, pushing beyond the start is too much or risky. I am ok to replace the project in its bag for another time. I have checked off the steps and will write a note-to-self.

Every Astro sign has its strengths and challenges. Mine, as a triple Aries, is to forge ahead and push myself to try new things. Its not easy having such strong energy in me. All my life, its almost been too much for others to handle. And now here I am, with all those decades of Aries behavior that I simply want to modify and manage.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

More of the Same

I made an appointment on Tuesday for the clubhouse and then got the first quilt ready by trimming threads and checking seams. I've learned over time that this is an essential step BEFORE basting because once that is done, repairing an errant seam is risky.


Then I took out the Poinsettia Table runner to finish joining the petals. There are eight 7-petalled flowers that get sewn on the ends, with a golden button in the centers.


The other table topper is at about 21" square, and needs batting that will come out of the Tuesday basting. It actually is a purple though it seems to look blue here. I found something for the back that is actually a Spring fabric, so it makes it reversible, and the project goes out at the end of August for a Fall look on the topper.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Soon to Shop

The Clubhouse is free for basting, and there are many quilts in my closet ready for this step. It is incredibly tempting to want to shop because I've pushed several projects almost to completion. It gets harder and harder to keep the promise to myself to shop from my closet first. Yet, first doesn't mean that's the only shopping.


And so I make a list. I quilt in ways that keep the projects moving forward without shopping. It is not that I need money because I have money to shop, it is that I want to use what I have and there is so very much here.

Lately, I have been watching a series of videos on You Tube that tell the stories of women from London who take a month away from their lives and spend it with a tribal village somewhere in the world. The first one was in Gabon, Africa and her lesson was financial. Gabon Tribal Experience

Each of these documentaries pointed out to me how people get along with minimal furnishings, clothing, and even food. I feel my privilege.

The temptation to shop in stores is both strong and silly. Every time I cut and make something, there are scraps that get cut down more and stack up more. I cannot quilt fast enough and it seems that I quilt fast. What a paradox it has become.

I just went through the bin where the Bird Quilts are stored. As I finish them, of course there are scraps. Three of them are ready to baste, two need backing.  I have learned when to say no to shopping and also how to say when. Its been a good learning experience.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Love the Log Cabin

When I spoke with one of the fabric store owners about my choice to shop from my closet for awhile, I also told her I wanted to quilt simply and asked which patterns she would recommend for the scraps and my elected skill. 


She suggested the old stand-by of the Log Cabin pattern. Tradition says the center block should be red or yellow to symbolize the fire in the hearth. Then the light and dark colors of the logs symbolize the joys and challenges life brings us.

I know that going to the store allows a quilter to coordinate, and that shopping from a closet means thinking outside the box and stretching creativity. 

What is done first is to cut strips in the chosen colors and then begin piecing, pressing and cutting again. This size will be a personal lap or nap quilt and will have 12 blocks and a few borders. Layout of the 12 makes a difference in the final look of the quilt. I've made several of them over the years and enjoy each one. The final layout actually has a message too.

The pattern is so easy that a quilter could put one together in a day. However, the challenge of scrap quilting means auditioning fabrics, and that took awhile. Now, to the piecing. Well, in the past, I did that in a day and it is taking two days, which is fine. I will finish the blocks and then play with the layout. (I chose 'Fields & Furrows') I don't know if I have enough fabric in colors that will work for the borders. 

Bottom line is that I still want these scrap quilts to look nice.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Prep Work for Family Quilt

The back for Peppermint Kisses has been pre-washed and some loose dye came free. The corners are on the top and it is trimmed. I decided not to add an additional border so as not to distract from the pattern of the blocks. At 68.5" square, it is just fine for a personal lap quilt. It is ready to baste once the clubhouse is free and will be the last of the quilts I made so that each of my close family members would have one.


These leftovers from the top will go to a number of different projects. There is a red and white stripe for the binding and that means all of this goes into the stash. It makes me laugh to think that it keeps growing in spite of my attempts to use it up.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Peppermint Kisses

I took out the bins again looking for a couple of projects that I never did find. And so I could remember what I do have in them, I extended the list on the sidebar to include 2017 projects. The way I am pushing what I have to the stage of basting, I wanted to make sure I didn't get off course. I found a small candle mat started and was pleased to see it. Things can get so easily misplaced.

Next step on my last family quilt for this year (Peppermint Kisses) was to make sure the setting triangles were going the correct direction and to ensure that there were enough blocks for each row. I have been waiting for the clubhouse to lay it out and decided to use my floor space.


It is a diagonal quilt, and a bit of a challenge to get the setting triangles going the correct direction on all four sides, even though I have made a couple of them. Its interesting how the setting triangles have a pink cast to them in the photo though they do not in person. With all rows joined, it currently measures 68.5" square. Of course, it needs trimming and an outside border added to it, which will add another couple of inches. I bought a bolt of red with white polka dots for the back, so soon it will be ready to baste and then quilt. Clearly, it will be completed before Thanksgiving week when it will ship out. Although each of the fabrics were pre-washed, once it is quilted, I will wash the entire quilt again to make sure the reds don't bleed.