Sunday, January 30, 2011

A second look

I had some things up on my design wall for inspiration and I looked at this for almost a week. I thought it didn't seem as great as I remembered it. I still liked it but not as much as I did when I bought it. I was auditioning fabric to go with it and I noticed a signature (the white marking on between the giraffe's feet). I realized that  I couldn't read it because it was BACKWARD.
Here it is below turned to right side with a strip of the fabric I am thinking about using with it. I like it much better on this side.
 I often use the wrong side of the fabric on purpose because it is a better fit in terms of value but this is not one of those times. When I bought this panel I found the batik shown here with it. There were only 2 fat quarters and I bought both of them. I still need to get something else to go with it but I can wait another day or so before I jump in and start something. I think maybe a deep gold like the background would be a good start. I had these two fabrics put away with some other batiks but none of them are what I think looks right today. I think I didn't do anything with this when I bought it because I was afraid to ruin it. 
 I fall into that trap a lot.
I was afraid to finish up my heart and home quilt because I thought I might mess up the free motion quilting on the heart part. I don't think I have ever really ruined a quilt with the quilting and afterward I tell myself I will not be worried next time. I am not going to win any awards with my free motion quilting but I am please with the result.

Here is a closeup of the quilting. Maybe you can see it if you click on the photo.The quilting on the light background is just plain wavy lines.

I am going to hang this little quilt on our apartment front door for February. It is time to put the snowmen away. I have heard that you really have to watch the snowmen; when no one is looking they get together and do the snow dance and that is what brings all the snow. I'm not sure that is true but I am not taking any chances. I  have had ENOUGH snow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Little House

This is what I finally focused on yesterday. I call  it "Home is Where the Heart Is".  It is 22 1/2 inches wide and 19 inches long.It was a fun little piece to do and I can hang it up for Valentines Day and I can also use it with my summer patriotic quilts.  Almost 20 years ago I made a quilt using a kind of pinwheel pattern from the book "Log Cabin in the Round " by Barbara Schaffeld and Bev Vickery. I learned a valuable  lesson from that quilt; always make a test block before you make 25 blocks that are the wrong size to fit with the other blocks. This time I evaluated the blocks as I went along and with 20 years more experience it was easy to figure how to make some  adjustments so that the heart was a more pleasing shape and to work out a way to put the little house in there in place of 2  Log Cabin blocks. It was fun to revisit this technique and I may play with these rounded Log Cabin blocks again soon. 

So.....what do you do when your piecing turns out very good but something about it is not visually pleasing? This was not an easy decision.My seams were all nice and straight and the piece was nice and flat. This does not always happen for me; some days I have trouble with straight seams. However the little house looked to me like it was sliding downhill. It was centered on the  center section but it was not centered on the heart. Do I really need to get that picky about this little piece? This is after all a little fun project. In the end I decided it bothered me and that was enough reason to fix it. I took out one strip at the top  of the little house and put it at the bottom and I am satisfied. I will not be tempted to explain that I really should have placed the house a little bit higher. Why do we do that?  Who else really cares.  


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Organization and Inspiration

After I finish something or several somethings I often get to a point where I can't focus on what I want to do next. I shuffle things around and haul things out or start to put things away and find something of interest and take it out (along with a bunch of other stuff) to do something with it and then I lose interest for one reason or another. Once I get focused on something I can stay with it until it is done or until I reach a place where I  need to let it rest before I make another decision about it.

I finished the 3 small DNP quilts and I have been rattling around trying to get started on something else. It is not as though I don't have anything I need to do. There has certainly been plenty of time; with all the snow and icy weather we had last week, I have stayed home a lot.

Yesterday I did the laundry and cleaned everywhere but my sewing room and we went to church for the Saturday evening service so we wouldn't have to deal with the snow this morning.  So today I have nothing to do but get focused. I know I work better without a big mess around me so I started again to make order out of chaos. I got all my rulers hung up again on the wall. I have more rulers than this but they are ones I either don't use often or ones I have never used and wonder why I had to have them. The ones I use all the time, I hang alone on one nail with nothing that I have to move first to get them down. I do have some that I can use interchangeable and those I hang more than one on one nail.
I plan to use the space above the rulers for 3 or 4 small quilts with large graphic designs that don't invite you to move in close to see them. It is not easy to get close to the high space to see detail.
I did  not make the sherenschnitte picture. I bought it at a craft show. The artist is Carol Sotkiewicz and I am not sure whether or not it was her original design; that didn't matter to me as the cutting is well done and it is nicely framed and I love the concept of the timeline of a woman's life.  

This is what I have right now on the wall adjacent to the rulers. The giraffe fabric is a batik panel that I was so excited about. I was sure I would go right home and work on it. DIDN'T HAPPEN! To the right of that is one of many blocks that were inspired by Victoria at BumbleBeans Inc and her 15 minutes of play. I have been rolling this project around in my mind for a while and want to  get it  started done. Below the wonky star is a Quails Nest block that I cut in quarters and rearranged to make a new block. I am going to make 2 more and make a bright summer table runner. The little house square is from Beth at Love Laugh Quilt. It is a little printed  square that she sent to everyone who participated in the Friendly Neighborhood project.   These are all things I put there to give me inspiration.

BTW, this is the other side of the room, not much different than when I started cleaning up several days ago, except it is worse. Oh well.........things around here always get worse before they get better.  One hour from now it will all be back where it belongs. However, I will not be showing any time stamped photos.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Done de done done! I remembered that I had about 4 yards of some Kaffe fan fabric and it was just wide enough to use for the back without piecing. I trimmed the selvages after I quilted it and there was about 3/8 of an inch of fabric on each selvage that I cut off. I would have trimmed the border a half inch if the backing fabric hadn't covered the top. I did have to piece the batting and with one seam it was an almost perfect fit. There were only little bitty scraps of batting left over,too small to save even for practice stitching to check my thread choices and stitch quality. There was no trip to Joanns for batting to slow me down. 
 I stitched in the ditch around the blocks and then used my #4 stitch on the Bernina to stitch across the blocks corner to corner. With this layout for the blocks there is almost no stopping and starting again I just start at an edge and go across  the squares diagonally to the other side and turn at the border and keep repeating that until I get to a block I have done already. I think I only had to start again 2 times. I love this stitch because I don't have to mark, if I waver a little it doesn't show.
I used the solid light Kona fabric (I think the color is Bone)for my binding. I auditioned a lot of different fabrics including yellow and lime green and the fan fabric and nothing looked as good as the solid light fabric. I like it and that surprises me because I have never cared for plain white until recently and now I am drawn to using it.  I  stitched the binding on the back and turned it to the front and finished it by machine. I  still have to finish the binding I am doing by hand on the two quilts I was working on before I got sidetracked.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quilt top finished

I finished this baby quilt top today. It is 53 x 43 and my backing fabric is only 40 inches wide and not quite 54 inches long so I will have to piece the back. I am not going to piece the batting I will be going out in the morning to get that. I am usually not fast but I really wanted to see this one all  put together.
It seems that no matter how  much rearranging I do when I am putting the blocks up randomly there are always some that are the same fabric side by side. No matter, the rule is..... random is random! These blocks look wonky in the photo  but they are not, Maybe it is  an optical  illusion or maybe it is just my eyes.
When I do a border like this one, I sew the strips to the outside blocks instead of sewing them together and then sewing a long border strip to the quilt it is easier for me to get it right this way. I will quilt in the ditch around the blocks and I will  just run the quilting right to the edge of the quilt.It makes a nice sturdy quilt that will hopefully get a lot of wear and tear.

I have to thank my friend Fran for getting me interested in getting this one started. I had only finished the other two DNP quilts because I had a stack of 9 patch blocks but I was not really interested in the pattern anymore. This is really a good "go to" pattern when you want to do something simple and fast.
I have been thinking that this would be a great pattern to use for our "Caring Quilts" at church. If we  all made 9 patch blocks using 4 inch squares we could make up quilts in no time when we need them.
We had some other blocks that we were going to all make but they are more fussy and take longer and they are smaller and almost nobody makes them. That was one of my not so hot ideas, seemed like a good idea at the time .

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting sidetracked

This is the room I straightened up 2 days ago.My desk was all  cleaned off all  my fabric was put away,all my rulers were hung up, all  the lamps were where they belong and the floor was  vacuumed. It stayed nice and neat until I  finished quilting the 2 Disappearing Nine Patch quilts for our community quilts projects. 
After I got them quilted I got the bindings sewed on but the finishing is slow going by hand. I should have done the finishing by machine but I stitched the binding to the front so I need to finish them  by hand.

One of my friends asked me about the DNP  quilts and I went looking for my files in my computer. Although I don't seem to  have the Electric Quilt files in my computer (thanks to my recent problems) I do have the files for the handouts for a DNPclass I taught. I had forgotten about all the different options that I played with in Electric Quilt. Of course that drew my into the playtime mode and I decided that I need to make a baby quilt using this pattern. I have my room all set up for machine quilting which makes it cumbersome to do any amount of rotary cutting. I decided that I will work with it as it is because I can't wait until  I put the room back for cutting and piecing. This is the reason for the colossal mess I have in my room.

Here are the 4 inch squares I cut from about 20 different bright fabrics; only one of them is really a kids fabric. I am going to use the solid yellow as the small square in the blocks and the Kona light fabric that they are laying on for the rectangle patches. After I got all  the squares cut I realized that I could  have strip pieced the center strip of the 9 patch but I am so accustomed to doing it with scrappy squares that I didn't think to do it the easy way.

Here are 4 of the nine patch blocks that I haven't cut into quarters yet and at the right are 2 blocks that I cut and rearranged. I am wondering if I should have used something other than solid yellow for the small squares but it is too late now. I have all 20 nine patch blocks done and I am not going to change anything. If I don't like it at least it will  be a lesson learned.
I still have to press the other 14 blocks and square them up and quarter them so I will  not get this top together tonight, maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I got up early yesterday and put up on my design wall  the 9 patch blocks that I had quartered before I went to bed Monday. This is pretty much the way I sewed them together. I moved a few that had the same fabrics next to each other. I have learned over time that random is random  and sometimes the same fabrics ends up side by side no matter what so I usually don't spend a lot of time anymore rearranging.
After I finished the top and pieced the backing and the batting I layered up this one and 2 more. By then I was really tired and decided to quit for the day. I spent  another hour trying to download a  book for my new Kindle. I have trouble connecting to a wireless network even when I am sitting next to my own computer so I decided to download via the computer and my security program blocked the download and I went round and round with that.I  finally walked into the bedroom with my Kindle and it connected up to someones wifi and my book downloaded. Ahhhhhh technology.

Today I straightened up my sewing room and set it up for machine quilting. I got one of the DNP tops quilted and made the binding for both of them. I don't sew straight lines well unless I mark so here I am marking the lines that go across the blocks. That is an old dull pizza cutter in my hand, it will not cut anything (well maybe it would cut butter).  I really like my Hera marker but couldn't find it so I remembered that last year I  tried this and it worked. It really works very well, no marking to remove, and it makes a crease that holds long enough  to  mark the whole small quilt if you are going to quilt it that day. It might hold  longer but so far I haven't tested  it. I would  not recommend this without thoroughly testing the pizza cutter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tackling the UFO's

I Looked through all unfinished things that are taking up space and  there are not so many after all. Well........not compared to what some people have.
There is The BIG UFO WIP that I am  hand quilting  and two more  floral  scrappy quilts ready to layer up.

My Christmas BOM sampler is ready to layer up. I finished piecing the back for it Friday and thought I would get it done when our group at church met Saturday but I forgot my pins. This is the back at the left. I used 5 blocks that I had left after I put the top together. I have one block left that I had framed with red but it didn't fit in the row and it is just going to have to stay  left over out.You can see the top on my December 15 post. The section with the green and the blocks is off to the side to make the back  asymmetrical but you can't see that here. I had an idea that I would make 3 quilts with the sample blocks I made for the quilt every month but after about 3 months I only made one block for a sample every month. I don't know what I would have done with the other 2 quilts if I had made them.

As I was going through everything I found some 12 inch 9 patch blocks that I made for a Disappearing Nine Patch they were all scrappy and I am not sure why I still had some. I thought I was all DNPed out. Anyway I cut up the ones that were dark in the squares that would stay uncut and put together this little 42 inch top for our community quilts lap quilts project. I was ready to stop for the night but I thought I would look for border fabric in my stash and found this blue floral stripe and added it.  Then I looked for backing and found a nice light blue floral and there was one piece that was just the right size,  no piecing. I was sure I would have to piece the batting but I looked on my shelf and had a piece, once again, just the right size. So it is all ready to layer up and quilt. There must be a reason this is working out so well,maybe  someone waiting for this one.
I still  have 12 more large 9 patch floral fabric blocks to cut up. they have the light squares that stay whole so I am putting them in a different quilt this time. Maybe I will do that tomorrow morning.
That's  all the UFOs  I have. That is pretty manageable. I am not counting my Friendship blocks because I have only had them a week and I think I am getting 2 more blocks so I can't do anything with them yet. If we get snowed in I will have plenty to keep me busy.
Now I am afraid to look around in case I find some more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Not quite back to normal

My computer is up and running but not quite back to normal. I can't find a driver for my older HP Laserjet printer. It is so trouble free and economical  to use that I hate to have to give up on it. My all in one color printer is not so trouble free.

Yesterday was our Friendship block swap group meeting and it was my month to collect my blocks.These are the ones I collected I think I have two more to look forward to. I am not sure yet what I will do with them. My own blocks are not here because I made something with them and gave them away. I am  going to make a couple more blocks and put these up where I can look at them for a while. I really like this block and I think it might be a good one to cut into quarters and  rearrange. 

Monday when I changed out all my Christmas quilts I decided to hang something different in the living room. This was from 1998 when I was making a lot of watercolor/colorwash quilts. I used to hang it in February but the spot I used in our old  apartment is a  little different here and I no longer hang anything there. The one I took down for now is a colorwash in autumn colors and the colors really work better  in the living room but a work of art stands alone and doesn't  have to "go with" everything else in the room. Anyway, that is what someone told me and I am going to go with it and since it is hanging on the wall it is art, right?

BTW thanks to everyone for the nice comments about my Log Cabin Quilt post.  There was a  link to the post in the Electric Quilt newsletter. I had  sent them a link to the post  because at the time I made them I never sent them any pictures of the completed quilts. None of the comments are showing up on my blog but they do show up on my dashboard when I have signed in to Blogger. If you have left a comment and don't see it I want you to know that I have seen it and I thank you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Computer Problems

I have been having big time computer problems. It doesn't make it easy to fix things when you have a new windows program (Windows 7) that you aren't used to.
Between trying everything I could think of and alternately taking down the Christmas tree when I got too frustrated I didn't accomplish much else today. Well,.... I guess getting the tree down and all the ornaments packed away is a pretty big accomplishment
No photos today because they are all on my computer and I am on Jacks computer. However, the computer is back up and running thanks to Jack's patience and tomorrow I will have pics of my friendship blocks that I got tonight at our group meeting.