Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Friendship Blocks

I finally got caught up on my blocks for my Friendship Group. I stayed home in January because of the weather and I didn't have any blocks for that month done either. In February I waited till the last minute and then I still  didn't finish the blocks for the previous month and I think I was sick and couldn't get them done. so in February 2 people presented blocks and I had 6 blocks to finish before April 5. I finally got to them this week. I am patting myself on the back because that makes me almost a week early.
The 2 top  blocks are 9 (91/2). Sue wanted reproduction fabrics, red and black with black on white for the background. 
The maple leaf blocks are 6 inches and Gwen wanted black or black and white  or black with a little color for the background and we were to pick the colors for the leaf fabric from a strip  of  border fabric that she gave us.
The block on the right is 12 inches. Judy wanted us to make one block (our favorite block) and she gave us 4 strips of paint chips to use to  pull the colors for the fabric. I did not have one favorite block but I really like the Quails Nest block and I like making it as it comes together easily with no fuss.
I did not have one single fabric that I could use for this block (really, honest) so a trip to the quilt shop was in order.  My sister in law and my friend  Sue and I went to Jellens House of Fabric and it felt like springtime. Lots of "fresh modern" fabrics and lots of samples. I didn't buy very much today because I am not buying anymore for stash, only for what I am going to go home and use. Well, besides the 2 pieces of "Sunkissed" for Judy's block I bought  another piece of the red from the Moda Fandango line because I had used it all up and 1 poor little yard from the Moda Frolic line because it looked so sad left alone on the bolt. As long as it is out on my cutting table it is not stash fabric. Right? 
I have to think about the quilt I want to make for my bed. I saw so much that I like that I have to decide what I really want to make before I buy too much of one thing and not enough of another. My experience has been that if I do not purchase enough of something it will be the one thing I really like better than anything else and it will have disappeared from the face of the earth.

We all bought a box of Girl Scout cookies  too, for our husbands of course.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hand quilting

Jo quilter asked if I had ever considered hand quilting. I do hand quilt and I am currently working on a king size quilt that will be the last large hand quilted project I ever do. I  started the quilt about ten years ago with blocks  made by the ladies in my Friendship group. I have been hand quilting on and off ever since I finished the top. I am too far along to not finish or to take out what I have done and  machine quilt and not far enough to see the end in site.

The picture above shows most of the quilt spread out all over the living room floor. On the left is a closeup showing 4 blocks and the secondary pattern the developed from the sashing and cornerstones. I hate marking so most of the quilt is in the ditch which is an utter waste of hand quiting as it doesn't show up. I have concentric  circles in the large blocks and overlapping circles in the rectangles in the sashing. There is an x in the 4 patch cornerstones. I have 5 more large blocks to quilt with the  sashing around them and then the borders. I know from past experience that the borders take as long as the body of the quilt. Then there is the binding; I will sew that down by hand.
  The reason the I don't hand quilt anymore are my hands. The index and middle finger on my right hand are a mess. I broke the middle finger at the first joint about 30 years ago and a few years  ago it developed arthritis and there is a bump that makes wearing a thimble uncomfortable. My index finger is bent and my pinch is almost nonexistent. My left hand  is better but I have a painful thumb and wrist.  I hope you realize it takes a lot of guts courage to show a photo of my hands. The photo here shows my tools. I did find a  thimble that I can use, the hemostat is for grasping the needle and pulling it through and the spoon is for the hand under the quilt to catch the tip of  the needle.

I have been using an  oval hoop with a floor stand. I started using it when I couldn't get to my Q-Snap frame in our locker and I like it because it doesn't take up as much room.
So there you have all  the excuses reasons why my hand quilting isn't as good as it should be and why I won't be doing much more of it if this is ever  when this is finished.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Free Motion quilting

Recently I have been doing mostly stitch in the ditch quilting and not very much free motion. When I quilted my bathroom quilt I knew I had to do some free motion quilting but I have let my skills get rusty and I didn't want to do something that would beyond my skills. I ended up with a quilt that I am not very satisfied with. I love the bright colors and the interplay of pattern and color but my quilting makes me really unhappy every time I look at it.  I meant the quilting to be liberated and what it looks like is poor craftsmanship. On Frieda Anderson's Wednesday blog  this week she said the most important thing is to practice, not just once in a while but to keep at it.

So that is what I am going to do. I put some narrow borders on this 12  inch block and decided that I was going to use it for a protective pad on my hutch so it is not something I have to be afraid of spoiling. In the past I have found that I can practice all I want on layered up muslin and batting but I don't really improve until I quilt something that I actually want to use or give away. This was a perfect  practice piece. It didn't take long, it was fun to do, I have something finished to use and I like it. It's not perfect; it isn't something that anyone will ooh and ahhh over. I am not sure how much I can expect to improve. My hands and eyes aren't what they used to be and shoving a  quilt through my Bernina is HARD WORK but I think it is probably worth while. Besides, who  says I have to finish everything in a big hurry; when I get tired I can stop and come back to it later.
 I have a stack of practice sandwiches from years back that are stuck away and I only look at them when I am looking for something else I was looking at  them and they look OK.  I remember they were fun to do so I think I am on the right track. I will do some more practice on small stuff and then I am going to do some FMQ on the quilts I have layered up that I have been putting off because I have no interest in quilting them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More small stuff

My daughter came over last Friday and she had my great grandson with her  so I had to child proof my sewing room and make room for him  to play and work at one of my adjustable height tables. That meant putting things away and rearranging the room. So.... I am not set up for quilting anything very big.  I decided before I put it back for quilting again I would work on some smaller things that are easier  to do when I am not set up for quilting.  I made place mats and pot holders with the same fabric I used for the mat I made of the hutch. I asked Jack what he thought and he said they were bright and cheerful and maybe we shouldn't use them and  mess them up.  Ahhh well, the bright and cheerful was the answer I was looking for.
There was another set of potholders nearly the same that my daughter took home along with the two table toppers.

She saw  these top two mug mats and told me she needs more mug mats. I bought these two 5 x 7 pieces at a quilt show 2 or 3 years ago. They are discharge  printed and I never did  anything with them until last week. I made 2 more using the  print that I used for the  binding on the first two. I should give them all to my daughter as I made her an apron last summer with that floral print fabric.

I liked the floral teacups so I looked through my stuff to see what I could  use to make some  more. I found a lot of floral  fabrics I could use and I like this nice springy mottled green for the background. I probably need to make a bunch more for all the girls in the family. While  I was  rummaging around I found some fabric with  fishing flies that would be perfect for the fisherman  in the family.Then would have to get  some football fabric or  something sporty for the other guys?  They probably wouldn't even care or would think it was dumb and I am not sure I want to make this a long term project.

I have one 12 inch block left over from my February  BOM sample blocks and I think I might just border it and use it for a hot pad when I need an extra layer on the table or the other hutch. Or.... maybe I should give it away or maybe I should  just put it away with all the other left over blocks from years past.  I'm thinking about it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Finishes - Small Stuff

I have been spending a lot of time fiddling with my computer ....again. This time it was some sort of power glitch during the night, neither of us could boot up in the morning. We both finally got going after different solutions for each of us.  I had pages I needed to print and that required some more fiddling. I'm not sure how I feel about Windows 7. Anyway not too much sewing got done for a few days.
 I have some larger things to quilt but I finished up some small things just to get them out of my way.

This table topper is 26 x 26. it has 4 - JP Star blocks and though it is quilted and bound I may do something to bring the turquoise into the center; and then again maybe not. I have been making so many things this size that I am getting quite a collection of table toppers that I am not going to use.                                    
This piece is made  with 2 - 12 inch Jacob's Ladder blocks; I am going to use it on my hutch that sits next to the table in the dining room. I put the bread basket and dessert plates etc there during dinner and I need something (pretty) to protect the surface. I made the blocks for our Block of the Month for our group at church.  I had one  completed and one to demo the steps. I am not going to make a quilt out of my blocks for 2 reasons. first, I don't need another bed or lap or throw quilt and second I only bought a fat quarter bundle of this fabric and an extra yard of the red. I am starting to really like the colors  so maybe I will buy more and make a  quilt after all. Or.........with all the small pieces and the rest of the bundle I will make place mats and pot holders.

This is what I did with the Quails nest blocks I cut into quarters and rearranged. The Quails Nest pattern got lost in the busy background and red and green print so I decided maybe I would rescue the blocks by cutting them up. I really like the red and green (and yellow) print and I  wanted  to use the blocks. It is better this way but here I am  with another table  runner.  I like the colors and the way it turned out,nice and bright and kind of sassy.These are all my favorite colors that I wear all the time but they do not fit with any of the colors in our decor so I will probably pass it on.
I make things because I am excited about the fabric and I want to play; then I really don't have a use for it myself. Maybe I should concentrate on getting excited about something I can use in a new quilt for my bed. Something made with new fabric and not from my stash, which is dwindling anyway there is  not enough of anything to make a bed quilt.  You know..........I can't believe I am  thinking along these lines I have more than enough bed quilts already and I have ONE bed and not room to store more quilts. Oh well........................... we'll see.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Collaborative piecing

On Saturday we decided that we would  concentrate this month on making filler strip and border sections. We are all  going to make tubes with 5 1/2 inch by half the width of the fabric strips of black  on white  fabric (mostly white) and 2 1/2  to  3 1/2 inches by half  the WOF of bright fabric. We will slice the tubes into rings and cut the white fabric  a bit off center and sew the resulting strips  together. It was Fran's idea to do it this way and I like it. 

I wanted  to see how it was going  to look, this is step by step how I did mine. 

Step 2

Step 1
Step 1 The  2  strips are sewed  together and pressed to the bright

Step 2 On the right, fold up along the length so  the right sides  are together and the raw edges  meet and stitch to form a long tube. Don't press the seam at this time.

Step 3 Cut the tube into strips (rings) of various widths  I think I like 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 inches. I forgot to take a picture of this step.
Step 4

Step 4 Fold so the seams are  offset by 1/4 to  3/8 of an inch and cut the white fabric with a scissors. Press to the bright fabric at this time.

Step 5 Sew the strips  together with a 1/4 seam.  Press all the seams in one direction.

Step 5

Step 6  Trim to the determined size. We will  be trimming to 6 1/2 inches. You can see that the top strip here will determine where this piece is trimmed as it is  narrower than the other strips. The reason for that is that I had 2 1/2 inch strips of that white fabric and made a regular strip set, my bright fabric was cut at 3 inches. To be able to get a good offset I should have made the bright strip 3 1/3 inches. I think maybe the bright strips should all be closer to 3 1/2 inches give or take an 1/8 inch. It  would  give enough variation  to just vary the width of the slices, that would make it easier to offset. Next time I will know. Maybe someone else  will have a better idea. We are  all  doing this off the top of our heads so there are bound to be more ideas. It  seems to me a good  idea to pretty much  line up one side when sewing the strips together as you can see on the  right  side in Step 5.

Here is the strip all  trimmed. The photo on the left shows the top 3 strips are wider. I thought they looked too chunky and stitched  another line 1/4 inch away from  the existing seams between the blue and red and the red and yellow. I like it better.

Next month when we get together we will all bring the tubes and  we will slice them up and mix them up and stitch them together. 

So far we don't have a concrete plan about what we will do with them.  Will they go on the  quilt  we  have  been working on or will  they go in another quilt?  We'll see. Sounds like fun to me.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Sewing

Our Saturday group met today. We are glad to have Kathy back with us; she has been tied up for a while with caring for her dad. She tried to step back and get herself out of the picture but Fran snagged her and gave her a hug and I snapped the picture. Kathy is the shorter one here.
Jan brought her Happy Village piece from last month. She and Lori are at about the same stage of adding doors and windows and roofs. It makes me want to locate my pieces and parts and get to work on it.

We got started on our collaborative quilt project after everyone was there and we stood/sat around and chatted and caught up with the latest goings on in everyone's life.  Lori and Diane started putting blocks up on the design surface and arranging them and Judy set up her machine and started adding frames and pieces to make smaller blocks fit. These 3 did  most of the work of arranging and putting the top together. The rest of us were not idle; there was a lot of discussion about how it looked and what to do about a border and we critiqued Jan's happy villages and Lynn made some wonky stars and houses and we discussed lunch.

Lunch is always fabulous; the food is always  good  and so is the  conversation. We always linger over lunch and it is hard sometimes to get focused again on our work.

After  lunch Judy started sewing the blocks  together with the help of Diane, Kathy, and Lori.  Before long they had the whole body of the quilt together. There was a discussion about the borders and I am not sure what decision we came to or maybe we didn't make a decision.
While the quilt top was coming together Fran, Jan, Lynn and I did  some planning for filler strips or border strips. Fran came up with a easy way to make them and we are all going to bring the strip tubes next month for slicing up "bargello style". 

There was  also talk about the "next quilt" so we will be doing this again. We will be needing another quilt in which to use those filler/border strips. I heard some talk  also about 12", 9", and 6" blocks. Judy is going to email all of us the particulars on that. We didn't really have any sort of plan for this quilt other than bright colors and 6 inch blocks. Now that we have done this one the ideas are starting to flow. Sounds like some fun coming up.