Monday, May 3, 2021

Still working on the second alphabet Quilt.

 The back for the second alphabet quilt has been finished after many pauses to take care of all the little things that make up my days. And I am almost finished quilting the blocks on the front.
It has been a slow process free motion quilting. Each block is different and I have to determine where to start and stop as I loosely quilt around the words ad the animals and then bury the tread tails.  

I had purchased this fabric for the back  at the time I bought the panel. I knew I would be piecing the back and I thought this would be a good choice. When I started working on the pinwheel blocks I was dissatisfied about the colors. I wished it had some yellow. I decided to color the white numbers with my Derwent Inktense yellow pencil and see how it worked out.

I colored the numbers in  a 12 inch section and then wet the colored numbers with a paint bush and let the fabric dry. I washed it with detergent (Tide) and let it dry and ironed it and color was good and stable.

The other colors are really the same but my photo makes everything else look darker. I seem to have a problem photographing yellow.  Maybe I just have a problem with photography.

I bought the Inktense pencils a few years ago when I was playing with adding some color to my small  Zentangle inspired pieces. 

When you wet the colored areas the color turns to ink and it is supposed to be permanent. So far that has bee true for everything for which I have used the pencils.

I should have a finished quilt soon as there are only 5 more blocks to quilt and the borders will be easy and fast.  The arthritis in my hands has become more troublesome and any hand work, like burying the threads, has become somewhat difficult and painful. Working on a couple of blocks at a time works out pretty well and I have been using compression gloves which help a little. 

This is for a child that my grandson and his wife are in the process of adopting a child from the Ukraine. He is about the same age as their 3 year old and he has arthrogryposis the same genetic disorder as their child.  They are expecting to travel to the Ukraine soon to bring him home. If you are a praying person, keep them in your prayers for a safe and uneventful journey there and back.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Another Alphabet Quilt

 I started another alphabet quilt from a panel. This is what I have so far.

This one was printed lengthwise on the fabric so in my mind it was not useable without cutting it apart. I cut all the squares and of course they were not exactly square. I cut them all square by cutting a bit less than 1/4 inch  into the printed "sashing" between the squares .    It worked out well but it gave me  5 3/4 inch  squares to work with, kind of an odd size.  I cut my sashing strips 1 1/2 inches from red fabric which was almost exactly the same shade as the printed sashing.

In addition to the lettered squares there are 2 squares with several of the animals in the square and no letters. That made 28 squares and setting the squares 5 to a row and 6 rows, I needed 2 more squares.

I thought of pinwheels but 2 or even 3 colors in a pinwheels seemed be lacking. I found some 16 patch leftover blocks that had all the colors in the quilt and I took the rows apart from 2 of them and added the rows to 2 other blocks and made 25 patch blocks that fit the corners exactly.  So.... there they are and I am not certain they are the best choice. In person they are much brighter and the colors are a good fit.

I am ready to add a bright blue speckled fabric for the borders and the backing will be the same.  If I have to piece the backing, I might make pinwheels. We'll See. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Cat Quilts

 I have been cleaning and sorting and purging and making a ever enlarging mess.  I do have a plan in mind but until I can move some of my sorted things along, I am not making a lot of progress. 

Sometimes you just have to sew, even in the middle of the chaos.  I have a lot of cat fabric and as I have mentioned before A LOT of scraps. My new neighbor has 2 young cats who have no quilts.  I can fix that. The cat who received the quilt I made last month was pleased with his quilt so I am encouraged to make more. Cat quilts are fun to make and I have a number of cats in mind to be the recipients. I have plenty of raw material for making quilts and they will hopefully use up a respectable amount of fabric and batting. I will also be able to keep on sorting and purging and when I need a break I can make cat quilts. 

This is front and back of a previously made quilt. It is about 24 inches square. I had used odd shaped scraps of assorted cat fabric and a lot of short strips. I quilted in the ditch around the strips.

Below, is the quilt I just made. It is also about 24 inches square and it was a panel so it just needed a border. I quilted around the squares and around the individual cats. I am using only what I have so although I would have liked to use a print on the back to hide my quilting stop and start knots, I used a plain allover print. That's what is nice about cats they won't care.

I am working on another child's alphabet quilt from a different panel than the last one. More about that another time. I do need to get it finished quickly so I have organized the current mess in my sewing room in a way that will give me space to work and space to sort.

My plan is to work my way through each bag or box at a time and put away or dispose of everything in each one before I drag out another box or bag. No more opening another one because there are things in different places that go together.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Bonus Quilt

 Some of us call them free quilts but, as my husband pointed out to me, they are not really free. However a bonus is just as good as free. There are leftovers from the Alphabet quilt and I do not want to add any more scraps to my overwhelming collection of scraps.  This is the bonus quilt made with the Alphabet leftovers and a block from my leftover blocks box and a piece of flannel for backing that was leftover from making flannel board for a kids activity at church. 
It is 26 inches square.

At one time, I asked The Friendship group for 12 inch Anvil blocks with improv centers and bright color HST's. I think I made a top and sent it to Victoria Findlay Wolfe. On her blog, she had asked  for Anvil blocks with blue backgrounds to make quilts for cancer patients.
 I found three leftover Anvil blocks in my block box.  Days earlier, I had found an extra large zip lock bag with a bunch of leftover pieces of various Laurel Burch fabrics, I wanted to use the block and the LB cat fabric and the HST"s and the striped fabric were perfect together. So I replaced the center improv pieced square with the LB cat fabric. 
I've had fun with this, I didn't obsess over every little thing and my workmanship is pretty good but not perfect, after all, THIS IS FOR A CAT AND I HOPE HE LIKES IT.

As I started putting things away, I found three more boxes of scraps that are unsorted. This is what happens when when I need to clean up my sewing space in a hurry. I stuff things in boxes and then never get back to it.  Who would believe that when I finished my first bed quilt in 1985 I thought that was the only quilt I would ever make?  And who would ever think that I would have accumulated so much stuff?

Thursday, February 4, 2021


I finished the Alphabet quilt on Tuesday. I woke up early and that gave me a big chunk of time to sew the binding. 
 I altered my technique for fusing the binding on the back before I stitch it down from the front. Today I left the paper on the 1/4 inch strips of fusible web and ironed them on the edge of the binding. After it cooled I removed all the paper and folded the binding to cover the stitches and fused the binding. I was easier than folding and pressing and then tucking the almost invisible fusible under the folded binding. 
I decided that using my walking foot was really a bad idea for the kind of quilting I was doing on the panel. iItwas not only tedious but my hands hurt from turning and twisting and stuffing the quilt under the arm of the machine. I set up my machine for free motion and hoped for the best. It turned out OK. My stitches were not always consistent but they were within the acceptable range and I improved as I went along. As I started each letter and animal I planned what i intended to do and it worked out OK most of the time. There were a few times that I got lost and ended up where I had to end my stitching and start again in another place. 

These two sections turned out to different to stitch than I expected. I thought the branches and leaves would give me a problem working out the direction to meander around them. It was intuitive easy after all.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I though the fish would be easy but I got lost and had to take out some of the stitching.  It is not perfect but I am happy with it nonetheless.                                                                                         I guess free motion quilting is still an option for now.

Overall the density of the stitching over the entire quilt is consistent. The quilt is nice and flat and would hang well though I hope it will be used and not hung on a wall.

I have learned that I can adjust to my changing  abilities and to all the things that have altered the amount of sewing/playing time I have,

I did have another big frustration. When I was free motion quilting the foot control quit working again. This time I didn't pitch a fit over it. I just turned off the machine and folded up the quilt and went and did some housekeeping chores. I considered that maybe I should just buy a new machine. I was also thinking about what I was doing before it happened. Just as the first time, I had taken a break after I had wound some bobbins. I looked at the bobbin winding switch and it looked like it was switched for winding the bobbin. I turned the machine on, flipped the switch and guess what. It worked. This is not the first time this  happened but it has been a long time since it did. That is probably why I didn't think of it. The problems with my original l foot pedal were because my cat had chewed the cord. I guess I was still in the mindset that there was something wrong with the wiring on the new foot pedal. I am trying to let myself off the hook for being such a dunce. At any rate I am so relieved that I don't have to buy another foot pedal or worse yet another machine. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


 Sometimes it seems as though nothing is going to be quick and easy.

After I finished basting the center panel of the Alphabet quilt, I stitched 2 more letter sections. I went much easier than removing pins but all the turning I had to do using the walking foot turned out to be a huge struggle, much more than I expected it to be.  I came to the conclusion that it could not be any worse to do it free motion and it might be better, and it was. 

The numbat and octopus were done with the walking foot and the reindeer and the sheep were done free motion. I had a little less control that I wanted but it was no harder on my hands than with the walking foot. From that point the quilting process moved along much faster.

I took a break to do something and when I returned to my machine the foot control would not work. I checked everything, it was plugged in, I could move the needle up and down manually by turning the wheel ,the machine turned on and off the way it always does, there was nothing that appeared to obstruct the full compression of the pedal. This pedal is not a genuine Bernina but it was half as much less than the cost of the Bernina and all the reviews on amazon were good. It worked perfectly from the day I started using it until that day. I was completely frustrated and needed to consider what to do next. I moved furniture and set up my other machine for quilting.  I have never used this machine for quilting and though it was far from ideal, I thought it would work. It did not. I could not get a decent stitch.

I asked my friends for help and one of them was going to let me try her foot pedal to see if the problem was my machine or my foot pedal.  I go my Bernina up on the tale again and just on the off chance that the foot pedal would work I tried it and it worked.

So..... back to work. I had about an hour to sew and I got ready and found this on the back of the quilt.

Somehow a sheet of wrapping paper found its way onto the table next to my machine. There it is, stitched right on to the back of the quilt. I started to cut it away but looked at the stitches and saw that they needed to be removed. I have no idea where that wrapping paper came from. I don't remember seeing it in the last 15 years. The 4 foot table next to my machine is right inside my sewing room door and often I will set things there that I need to put away somewhere else. I had been digging in my hall closet for something and that is probably where the wrapping paper was hiding before it flew across the hall onto my table.

Well, the wrapping paper stitching is gone and I have another hour or so to quilt. I may not finish this quilt this month but I might.

We'll See.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sometimes the long way is the shortest route!

My bright idea with the 1/2 inch applique pins wasn't such a good idea after all. The first motif, the numbat, was really easy but the octopus was not! I had to reposition the quilt many times while quilting the octopus and the little pins kept slipping out. There was not as much twisting and turning and stuffing the quilt under the arm of the machine with the numbat. I did some more quilting on the pinwheel border while I thought about what to do.  Removing the safety pins as I quilted was really hard at times for my old fingers so I decided the easiest/fastest option was to baste the panel. It is taking a long time but I know it is going to work out better/faster in the long run.

The numbat and the octopus are quilted. Below them, you can see my basting and the 3 1/2 inch needle I am using. I have some long needles from making cloth dolls and they are fairly easy for me to hold. However, it has taken me over a week to almost finish basting the panel.  There have been too many interruptions and not enough "getting back" to the task at hand. 

I am not so sure I will finish by the end of the month; who knows how many more times I will need to do something I hadn't planned on or how any hours I will have to sit waiting "on hold" during a necessary phone call.  I am going to set my timer for 15 minutes when I can't have a big chuck of time and I will get it finished.  We'll see how that works.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Tedium Awaits

 I knew quilting the Alphabet panel would be tedious but I think I underestimated just how much that would be.  I have stabilized the borders and quilted the pinwheels in the top and bottom borders. I decided to quilt around one or two of the animal sections to see how it was going to work.

This photo is the somewhat unorganized pin basting. I had pinned all over the panel to flatten out any bubbles and wrinkles. I knew I would do a little more pinning when I started to quilt.

This is the one section I quilted. I knew right away that the safety pins were gong to be a problem. Using the walking foot requires  lot of turning and repositioning of the quilt and the safety pins kept getting hung up on the foot. I had already ruled out free motion quilting. A little might be OK but not this much and not   so close around the various small elements. I need to have more control than my fingers can manage.

This is my solution. As I start on each new letter, with all the little bits around the animal, I will replace the safety pins with 1/2 inch applique pins. I was able to work around the pins without taking them out and there wasn't any problem with getting stabbed by the little pins.

This is not going to be fast and stitching a few stitches and turning and repositioning the quilt is gong o be tiresome. I think I can manage two letters/animals a day. I will work on the rest of the pinwheels as I go along. Small pinwheels have gotten pretty tiresome too. 

I like this quilt enough to stick with it. Maybe I can get it finished in a month. 

         We'll see!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 Almost Gone

 Well 2020 is almost gone and it is almost time to take down the Christmas tree and put away all of the Christmas quilts and various Christmas items.

in November, I started a post  when I got out all the Quilts and  table toppers, Christmas linens, dishes and all the things that I have from years past. But life got in the way and I never finished it.

 I usually get a few new Christmas items each year but I tend to keep everything and get it all out and use it.  Jack and I both like to look at the tree and remember who gave us each ornament and where or why we bought things.  Of course there are homemade items from our children, grandchildren great grandchildren and friends. This year we got a new artificial tree, much smaller than our last one but much fuller and with more lights. I won't show all my Christmas quilts and table toppers etc but this is the tree with many of the things that bring back good memories.

We have enjoyed looking at it but we will enjoy the unobstructed view of the birds that come to the feeder outside our window and the squirrels who come for peanuts on the window sill.

We will still have this  amaryllis to look at for a short time. This is the first time I have ever had an amaryllis so I  don't know how long the blossoms last but it has been fun watching it grow each day. I plan on taking care of it according to the instructions and having it next year. We'll see!

My little Christmas cactus did not fare so well. It had a lot of blossoms and buds ready to open and one by one they fell off. Each leaf had little red/pink pinheads that I assume were buds but they never materialized.
This is the second time I have had a nice Christmas cactus that didn't do well for me.
This one still looks health and I will try to keep it. We'll see about that too!

On the quilting front. I have made progress on the alphabet quilt. I finished the back and layered the quilt and have started quilting it.
I quilted in the ditch around the outside of the inner border and between the blocks all around the border. On the bottom border I quilted the pinwheels. This is as far as I got. 
I started with the borders because I didn't know what I wanted to do for the alphabet panel.
I asked a friend how she quilted her panel and I think I will do what she did. She replied  that she did "a very erratic loose stipple and went  around each letter and outlined each animal figure. It seemed to make the letters and the animals pop out! "  That sounds good to me. I will do it with my walking foot as it is hard for me to do much free motion quilting. My old hands have a hard time moving the quilt for free motion.  It won't be fast but I will get it done.

I am ready to say goodbye to 2020 it has certainly been a challenge. I am feeling cautiously optimistic and praying for healing for our country and for our planet. I am trusting that God is in control.

Happy New Year

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Flimsey


The Alphabet Animal quilt is a Flimsy.  

It feels good to have this top finished. It has taken me a while to get it finished due to interruptions. However, there was another reason it took so long. I didn't have a solid plan for this quilt. I changed my mind more than once as I went along and all along the way I had to make decisions about what to do. When I bought the fabric I was going to use the striped fabric for the borders and the music note background for the back, very simple. By the time I got home I had already decided I would make a few pinwheels with the solid fabric. The solids stash has turned into a pretty hearty supply after my purchases for the Framed 9 patch and this was a good way to use some of it. I think I went back to the shop and bought more of the music fabric a few days later.

My few pinwheels turned into 40 pinwheel blocks for the side borders. This is a 6 inch pinwheel block and 7 blocks fit perfectly for the side borders, after I fixed my mistake with the inner border.

All the time I was working on the border blocks my mind was working on the top and bottom borders. It was like a program running in the background. 

I made four corner blocks with the striped striped fabric pinwheels on point and worked out the size to cut the corner triangles to make the blocks six inches.  All the while I was taking care of other things that I had to do and this was running around in my mind. I was running out of background and I knew if I made a mistake in estimating the size to cut for what I had in mind I would not have enough. I called the shop and they still had some of the fabric. I picked it up the yesterday and knowing I would have enough fabric even if I changed my mind or made a mistake, I forged ahead.

I decided to make the borders with the striped pinwheels on the ends and a 9 inch section, with one 6 inch block and one 3 inch half pinwheel block, on each side of a center striped on point pinwheel block. I measured every thing and made the center blocks with oversize triangles then cut the block 6 high by eight inches wide and it fit. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Because the side borders are 7 blocks the corners were different. You can see here what I did, On the top I had the small pinwheels cornerwise or turning the corner. On the bottom I had the background squares turning the corners. To me it makes sense.

I have made a few quilts with panels and if the borders are simple it is easy. If you make blocks and the panel doesn't give you any excess fabric to trim away without trimming away something you want to keep, there is math involved. This panel had a row of blue scallops at the top and bottom that I trimmed away. That made the sides easy but I had to work to get the top and bottom right. In the end it wasn't hard and I'm happy with it.  There is also a little something fun to hunt for. Three of the pinwheels seem to have caught the wind from a different direction. It must have been those high winds we had last week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Alphabet Panel

The last time I went to the quilt shop for more green fabric to finish the second Framed 9 Patch quilt, I bought an Alphabet animals panel and some fabric to go with it.  That kept me on track to finish the F9P so I could start the alphabet quilt. There have been delays and interruptions but I have made some progress. However those interruptions frequently lead to problems. When I am undecided about how to proceed I usually have more than one idea about what to do next. When I come back to the project after the interruption I somethings pick up on an idea that I have discarded and go ahead with it.

These photos are the top and the bottom of  the panel with the 2 side inner and outer pinwheel borders. This is an example of  what happens when I am interrupted. I meant to sew on all 4 inner borders before the pinwheel borders. There was a strip of blue scallops on the top like the one on the bottom. After I added the pinwheel borders to the sides I was in a quandary over what to do next. after looking at it for a while I realized the I had meant to cut off the scalloped strips. I undid the stitches for a few inches where the inner borders were stitched to the panel and cut away the strip, added the inner border strip and re-stitched the inner borders to the panel.  At the top left, you can see where I have not yet stitched the end of the inner border to the panel. It wasn't hard to do and it was a lot easier to do than anything I might had done if I had proceeded without fixing my mistake.

This is the panel with the 4 inner borders and the pinwheel side borders.

I need to decide what to do for the top and bottom borders .Each border block is a 6 inch four patch with 2 pinwheels and 2 background squares. The space between the corner block is 25 inches. I will figure it out so it looks OK.

The corner blocks will be 6 inches pinwheels on point (or pinwheels in a square) I need to add the corner triangles of background  corner triangles after I figure what size I need o cut. The corner pinwheels are the same striped fabric as the inner border. that stripe will also be the binding.

So this is where I am now. I am going to make more of the 4 patch pinwheel blocks and I am not sure what I will do next. I may not get back to this for a few days. I want to do it when I know I can work without interruptions. That may be a while.

I feel slightly over whelmed with everything. I have an appointment Friday to get our healthcare squared away. That is almost finished but I need to make sure that Jack's pharmacy  insurance will cover all his meds. 

My curbside grocery pickup order drives me crazy every time I place an order. The website keeps changing, They seem to be doing something every single time to make something "better". It is never better.

As if I didn't have enough to confuse me, I got a new "smart" phone. I have really lagged behind on technology. I thought all I ever wanted to do with my phone was make and receive calls. Then I was pushed into texting so I could get in touch with my grandchildren. For all the curbside pickups, I found I needed apps to make it easy. My old phone was so out of date I couldn't download apps. I ordered my phone and managed to get it set up. With the the help of some You Tube tutorials, I am learning. I connected my phone to Bluetooth in my car and downloaded some apps.  Yesterday and today I had video phone calls with my grandson and 18 month old great grandson. I said Hi to Elijah and his Dad told him  to say "Hi to Gigi" and he did.  That was special; it makes all the fuss of learning to use my new phone worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Finish

I have finished the second Framed 9 Patch. This one is smaller than the first one by 2 blocks in each direction. F9P 1 is 9 x11 blocks and F9P 2 is 7 x 9 blocks.  This one was a little easier to handle physically. 

This is the back of the quilt and I was happy to see that the pattern of the floral stripes worked out the way I planned. The pattern is symmetrical and straight along the sides and where the quilted sections are joined. It was quite an effort to get it layered up straight. After the first section I gave up trying to do it in my sewing room on the plastic top Lifetime tables and put another leaf in my dining table and put my big cutting mat on the table and used my bulldog clams on the ends to get the backing taut and smooth and I used masking tape along the sides to tape it where the sections were too narrow to reach the sides of the table. I could move my cutting mat to protect the table under the whole layered section when I was pinning. It was frustrating but it was worth the effort to make the floral strips work. 

I cut the inner border fabric 2 1/2 inches wide so it finished 2 inches and I like the 1 1/2 inch better on the first quilt. It seems to me the narrower looks better when the quilting is in the ditch. I made 5 inch Nine Patch blocks for the corners using the green from the inner border and four of the prints that have a white/light background.  

I thought I made all the corner blocks the same. I had cut the strips at the same time even though I didn't make them all at the same time. I never notice there was anything wrong when I layered up the borders. I had concentrated on having the length of the piano keys exactly the right length because the corner blocks had to line up with end of the inner border to which I added a 2 1/2 inch wide strip which would appear to be part of the side border. I measured and measured again and then again before adding the piano keys to the inner border. It all looked good and I proceeded to layer it up and quilt it. The first end border was good. The second end border had a block the was a half inch too big.

Here are the two corners on the second border. I just trimmed it square so it fit and sewed the binding on. Because the border was already quilted and sewn on to the quilt, I decided I can live with it.

I like this quilt and I am keeping it. I don't mind that there are similar solid colors close together.  I didn't pay much attention to that aspect. I laid it out  alternating light and dark blocks. That checkerboard pattern is not so apparent because the value range is somewhat narrow. There is not any really high contrast.
For the most part I relied on contrast between size and density of the prints for contrast.

This shows two of the darkest blocks and they do not really appear dark except in the photo.

The areas where similar colors are close or lumped together don't bother me. I did spend some time arranging the blocks but I didn't agonize over each decision. I only wanted each block, in some way, to related to the adjacent block. 

I wanted light, bright and cheerful and that is what it looks like to me. There are a few other issues, like that corner block, and the binding is folded over a little too wide on the back in a couple of places. Overall the workmanship is good and I make no apologies for the things that didn't turn or quite right.
As I was nearing completion of this quilt I knew it would be the last large quilt I would ever make.  I had to push myself to work on it. From now on, I will not make anything larger than a baby quilt. I will make only things that do not require moving furniture to accommodate each step of the process. 

I am scaling back on the amount to supplies I need to keep on hand. I am still paring down my scrap stash. After all, you have to make sure the people who receive your scraps will use them well. As I write this I am laughing at myself.  I have never given a second thought to what has happened to what I have given away. I love seeing how someone has used my leftovers but I never worry or wonder about them once they are no longer mine.

I do have something in the works now. I needed thread and I went to the quilt shop and saw an alphabet panel and some coordinating fabrics and they came home with me. I almost walked out of the shop without my thread. So I will still be quilting for a while but only the small stuff and only when I feel excited to make it.