Friday, March 29, 2013

A little light and some Friendship blocks

Wednesday Jack wanted to stop at Lowe's to get some cotter pins and I went in with him to have a look at the lamps. I  have been looking for a craft lamp for my sewing room. I am not sure what I want; I have thought about a floor lamp that I could move around when I reposition my sewing machine for what I am doing. The light in my room leaves a lot to be desired and an overhead light is not an option. I haven't yet found what I want but I did find something that I think will be useful.

This little purple LED lamp doesn't light up a large area but clamped on the shelf above my cutting table it gives me a lot more light than I had and seems just right.

This second photo  was taken without a flash and shows how well it lights up that small area.

I can bend it so it will light up the stitching area on my sewing machine and I could also clamp it on the right side of my sewing table and position the light to illuminate the stitching area. I tested it to see how it would work sewing black on black. It does a good job. It will be very helpful removing black stitching on black fabric. I can also move it across the room and clamp it on my bookcase if I want to use my cutting table on that side. It is small enough to take with me anywhere. For $15 it looks like a  winner, as long as it keeps on working.

Those little pieces on my cutting board are Friendship blocks, here they are finished. Maryann wanted 2 nine patch blocks and 2 snowball blocks. They are 3 inch blocks and she supplied all the colored squares already cut and a 1.5 inch strip of the tan background. I whined more than usual when someone gives us the fabric they want us to use. Because the piecses are so small I was sure I would mess up and then I couldn't make more and Maryann is very precise; her work defines precise. Not to worry, they came out 3 1/2 inches right on the button.

This month there were 2 people  presenting blocks for us to make. These half log cabin blocks are for Susie. Susie wanted either a corner square or a set of strips from black and white print fabric. These are supposed to have 3 or 4 rounds of logs. I was busy working along and when I got to the 4th set of logs it dawned on me that I was not going to make 8 1/2 inches without another set of logs. Maybe no one will notice. Maybe I can just sneak them in the pile of blocks and no one will know it was me. Maybe it won't matter. Susie is Maryann's sister; maybe it will matter.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Many Trips postponed

I thought I would get back to my scrappy trips quilt and get the top put together; however, that didn't happen. As I was looking at it up on the wall with the blocks sewed into pairs I realized that there was not going to be enough take up in the seams to account make up for so much difference between the width and length. Without borders it would be 48 x 72. If I put 6 inch borders on it would be 60 x 84. I can't think what  might be an appropriate use for that size. This is really the width of the quilt on the wall because that is the best way for me to get it up there without a ladder.

Twelve more blocks would make a square quilt 72 x 72 w/o borders and 84 inches square with borders. In working out the layout so the pattern was even I wasn't paying attention to the dimensions. I am now rethinking the whole thing.

So this is where I am now. I took it off the wall and stacked it up 3 stacks  of  4 sets of blocks each. I pinned them and stuck a piece of masking tape on the top of each group so I would get them up back in order in case I want them as they are. If I make more blocks I want them to be interspersed with the ones I have already as I am going to use some other blue/purple blue green family fabrics for the diagonal  squares and I won't want them all in the same place. If I make this a large quilt I will also want to quilt it in sections.

This is getting complicated; I really like this palette but I don't want another big quilt and if I did I probably wouldn't use these colors. So...... I am stopping here and putting this on hold until I decide what to do.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Star points

I am nearly finished with the quilting on my challenge piece. I have 14 star points to go. 
This shows one star that is quilted. The quilting doesn't really show up much and I decided that was better than having it show up done poorly.

This next photo shows the twist thread on a practice piece. It really shows up but after doing some more practice pieces I was not happy with the way it looked. It was really hard to turn exactly at the point. I learned from experience that if I have to fix my stitching by ripping it out and resewing I often end up with something not a good as it was in the first place. Still I wanted to give it a try so I stitched two star points with the twist thread and neither of them looked good or even passable. I made my decision at that point and ripped the stitches out and went with the black thread. It really doesn't show up but it flattens out the start points so they don't look like I forgot to finish them.

 Soon I will have to begin to agonize over the binding. I do not want a border and I thought all along I would go with a solid black binding but I think not. It will  be either facing or a black and white stripe or black and white pieced so the fabric is the same as the fabric where it is stitched to the quilt.

Maybe it will be something else.
We'll see!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Straight Line Quilting

I am almost finished quilting the straight lines 1/2 inch apart on the black and white quilt. It hasn't gone badly but it takes along time. I used black thread on the black diamonds and red thread on the red diamonds and white thread on the background. I quilted the diamonds first outlining everything with ditch quilting and then parallel straight lines following the diamond shapes by turning at the angles. One of the background fabrics was darker and was like a solid diamond shape underlying the open diamonds and I quilted that with black and I only changed direction on that in the center where all the the lines across the width of the quilt changed directions. directions. Around the whole diamond focal area I echo quilted. I thought a long time about what I wanted to do and I think I "got it right". I still have to decide about the black star points but I am pretty sure I will use a black and white twist thread. 

I am going to take out the black stitching On the white background on the left here and use white like I have on the right. This is the where background is showng through where the open black stars overlap the open diamond centers. The area here with the black stitching was the  first quilting that I did on this and I changed my mind about the color thread; it just calls too much attention to my not so straight lines. I knew I was going to take out at least 2 of the lines but I thought I would do them over again in black. After doing the rest of the quilting I have come to the conclusion that a thread that has less or no contrast looks better for the straight lines that are not always perfect.

 Straight parallel lines are a challenge for me but I like the look so I will probably use them again.

Maybe I will get better at it.
Maybe I won't.
Oh well!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quilting the Black and White Challenge Piece

I am quilting  my challenge piece and working at it on and off as my eyes will allow. Yesterday I needed to rest my eyes so I cleaned my kitchen. I  needed to do something that was not visually demanding and now my kitchen is nice and clean and sparkly.
 I find that it is easy to get lost in the middle of the quilt sometimes so I used EQ to color my quilt design in lighter shades. That would allowed me to print it and sketch my quilting design over it with a black pen. I am quilting straight lines about 1/2 inch apart on the diamonds. This is is turning out to be tedious as I have to keep stopping and starting as I skip over the star points and the intersections where the diamonds cross other diamonds and the quilting lines will be in a different direction. There are a few places near the center that I sketched my quilting lines in the wrong direction and they look like a criss cross grid; that is not what I intend to do.

I've been using black thread but I am considering red for the red diamonds and I  have a black and light gray twist thread that I am thinking about for the star points. Quilting this is really a challenge for me. Not only is it hard to sew black on black but I also not really great at sewing straight lines.
So why am I doing this?
I guess because the quilt is telling me what it wants.
I always listen to my quilts;
 sometimes I am lazy and
do it my way but not today.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Black on Black

I am giving my eyes a real workout. I am hand stitching the mostly black binding on a quilt with a mostly black backing. The other thing I am doing is machine quilting with black thread on my black and white and red challenge piece.

This photo below was taken when I was starting to sew the pieces together in rows (you can see my thread catchers on the ends of my rows at the top). I can't find a photo of the whole thing after it is together.

I am starting to ditch stitch to outline the large diamonds and the black star points. I am not sure what I will do after that but it will probably be straight line stitching, maybe echo stitching. I didn't have a real plan to start out and it is evolving as it go.

When I don't have a plan sometimes it is best to just start with something that I know I will do and then let things take its course. So far it is going well but eye strain comes pretty quickly and going back to the black on black binding doesn't work as a way to rest my eyes and neither is working on the computer to post.
I guess I could do some cleaning but
it is Sunday (a day of rest) after all
 so maybe I should take a nap.
Works for me!

Friday, March 8, 2013

One thing leads to another

It seems like everything I do leads me to something else. I finally got around to putting all my Christmas quilts away. I thought I should get it done before Easter. They have been sitting in a stack since January. well that lead me to cleaning, decluttering and rearranging my linen closet. It took two days (I rested a lot). I have plans for the hall closet but that is on hold; enough is enough and anything more than that is too much when it comes to closet cleaning.

But one thing does lead to another. When I was working on this

and this was on the design wall just below my blocks.
I put the little  panel in the middle

and I thought about this.

Some time back Kathy and Syd instructed our basement group, at our monthly meeting, in making Bargello Graphix quilts from Jason Yenter's pattern. Everyone else was making something like this floral quilt of Fran's below but I didn't want to make something large and I had the Alexander Henry fabric "All That Jazz". I had been thinking about what to do with it for a long time and this above is what I made; it is 35 x 36 inches. It is what I am going to do with the African ladies motifs using the pallet from my scrappy trips quilt.It will have to wait a while because I have 2 things I have to quilt for April. Maybe I will work on it after that but who knows what will catch my fancy next.

Our group at church is meeting tomorrow and I am going to layer up the Bricks and Steppingstones quilt. I pieced the back today and now, as usual, I am having second thoughts. I think maybe I should have skipped the dotty fabric and used only the music notes with the extra blocks. Too late now.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Another Surprise

New coasters and my old denim bag
WOW! Tonight when I  went to our Friendship group I got another nice surprise. Laura made this set of  5 1/4 inch coasters for me from a prize she won at the Jellyroll race in January.

I had bagged up a bunch of denim strips of various lengths that  were left over from weaving the denim strips for a vest. I made the 18 x 16 bag on the right from the strips I had left over from the vest and then I saved the rest of the left overs. I thought I would use them for something again but after 10 years or so of moving them around I decided they had to go.
Laura put flannel on the back and quilted rows of straight stitching close to the edges of the strips.


My bag has seen a lot of use and is getting kind or worn looking. My vest was a little too big and after I had lined and added batting to the back and then put binding around whole edge and the arm openings I didn't feel like taking anything apart to alter it. I wore it a few times and after several years I put in a box of clothes to give away.
I think this is the best thing yet from all those strips.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Friendship blocks

While I was waiting for my last load of laundry to finish I made this months blocks for the Friendship group. Gwen gave us all the fabric squares cut to size for her blocks so they went together quickly. It's  a good thing because they are due tomorrow. This is flannel fabric and was so nice to put together; when you line up the pieces the flannel stays in place and doesn't shift. I had forgotten that because it has been a long time since I made a flannel quilt.

While I was doing the laundry Jack decided that it would be a good time to clean out our storage  locker which is in the laundry room. It made sense to do it while I was using the laundry room as we had our stuff all over the room.  I don't think it would go over well if someone else wanted to wash clothes while we were cleaning  our locker. We got rid of our old very heavy Christmas tree in a very large box and several  large boxes which  Jack had kept in case we wanted to return one of our computers or printers. All of those computers and printers that came in the boxes are long gone.To be fair only one of those boxes was completely empty but none of them were full and we consolidated things we want to keep (for a while anyway).

We are both tired. This is the second day in a row of doing things that wear us out. Yesterday we shopped for groceries and a new printer. I have been fussing around with my printer trying to make it print black and after exhausting all the possible  fixes  I was going to order one from Amazon. They had what I wanted at Office Max which is right next to the grocery store so we decided to look at it there. We weren't sure so we took our groc eries hoe and put I them away. That is usually enough for one day but i think Jack was getting tired of my printer problems so we went out  looked around at some other models in other places and went back to Offic Max and bought it. When we opened the box there was no packing material in the box; everything was just in there loose and the ink cartridges were installed. I am sure it was used for a floor model because of some of the stickers on it.  So back it went and we got one that you could see from the cut out for picking it up that it had the wrapping and packing material intact. After all that I fixed dinner and I was almost too tired to eat let alone go out again.
It seems not so long ago that I could work all day, come home and do laundry, and go out after dinner to a meeting or shopping.  I can't do 3 things in one day anymore and I try to plan so  it doesn't happen.
Tomorrow I am doing
nothing till after dinner
 when I go to Friendship.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scrappy Trips

I finished my 24 block for the Scrappy Trips quilt. At first I found them tedious but after the first few I didn't feel that any longer.  I would probably continue to make blocks in these colors but I really don''t know what I will do with this; one thing I know for sure I do not need another quilt for my bed.
I have a fair number of short pieces left from cutting the 16 inch x 2 1/2 inch strips; I am leaning toward a piano key border. I'm not sure if I want to make another as I think I put piano keys on a lot of quilts lately. It just seems to work so well for scrappy quilts. Maybe I like it because I'm lazy and it is so easy. I will have to think about it.

I keep odds and ends of things up on my design wall. If I am trying think of what to do with something I can look at it until inspiration strikes. If nothing comes to mind and I get tired of seeing it I take it down for a while.

I've had this panel up on my design wall for a while. My friend, Kathy gave me this fabric and I cut out this section which is one repeat. It was up on my wall when I started making the scrappy trips blocks and putting them up on the wall. After I got about six blocks made and they were right above the panel, I looked at them one day and it struck me how well they went together.
I am thinking of cutting the framed motifs apart and fitting them into a bargello quilt using many of the same fabrics. I will  have to add some others in the smae colors. Here it is set on top of the blocks and it really blends in more than this photo shows. It really is yelling at me and demanding to be used with this pallet.